Article by Richard Kirton - July 2014 - Photographs and information kindly provided by Ivy Knight
The following extract from ‘An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 4: South East (1923), pp. 135-136 describes Beauchamps which is currently owned by Tabor Farms, along with Beauchamps Cottages several yards to the north.
‘Beauchamps, house (Plate, p. 136), 1/2 m. E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It is a long rectangular building of c. 1688, with a two-storeyed porch on the E. front. On the E. front there are considerable remains of elaborate pargeting, the lower storey being treated in the form of rusticated masonry, the upper with scrolls, swags and fruit ornament and the date 1688 in Roman figures with a large rose above (Plate, p. 152). At the eaves-level is a modillioned cornice, which is continued round the porch. The central chimney-stack is original, but the upper part of the chimney-stack at the N. end of the house has been re-built. Inside the building the southernmost room has a fine plaster ceiling divided into two bays by a cased beam. In each bay is a large elliptical wreath (Plate, p. 152) of laurel leaves and berries and with a pendant of fruit and flowers in the centre surrounded by four cherubs' heads alternating with rosebuds; outside the wreath at either end of the ceiling are roses and fleurs-de-lis.’
The renowned historian, Phillip Benton and his wife Eliza lived in Beauchamps for 23 years between the years 1843 and 1866 and they had eight children. They then moved to Little Wakering Hall, as tenants of Sir John Tyrell. Philip Benton died in 1898, aged 83, and is buried in Shopland.
The 1891 Census listed Edward H Benton and his brother Charles Benton as living at Beauchamps and by 1901 the only Benton listed was William Benton who was a boarder to Emily Amelia Reynolds and 'Living on own means'. By 1911 Walter Stanley Phillips, a 'Produce Broker' from Kent, and his family were living at Beauchamps.
Beauchamps has been in the ownership of the Tabor Family since around 1880, and various members of the family have lived there. Tabor Farms Ltd has farmed the land around the house since then.
Not a lot is known about the tenants of Beauchamps between the years 1911 and 1990 but Ivy Knight and her family moved into Beauchamps from Thorpe Bay in 1990 and was there over 12 years. She remembers being told that the previous tenant, a business man from London, used to land his helicopter on the front lawn.
My friendship with Ivy has enabled me to reveal her experiences of life in this 17th Century house. The house had stood empty for 3 years and was cold and neglected. She remembers that the only residents were the mice and reported ghosts from over 300 years of history. There were four large gardens including a walled garden and a large pond at the back and front which are believed to be part of an original moat.
The size of Beauchamps and its old stable outbuildings enabled Ivy as a qualified British Horse Society instructor to renew her passion for horses, and also gardening. She was able to give a new home to her dark bay gelding ‘Grandee Ermine’ which she purchased as a 3 year old in 1976. ‘Grandee’ was a 16 hand thoroughbred cross Cleveland Bay gelding that raised over £4000 for charity and who she regrettably had to put down after 30 years. Ivy was surrounded by pets, several faithful working sheepdogs including ‘Rocky, Ben and ‘Elle’, and a whole series of rescued cats who did a first class job of controlling the mice.
Ivy was self-employed for 30 years in several businesses including local function catering and had actually catered for a function held at Beauchamps some 30 years earlier. She became adept in graphic design using ‘Quark’ Desktop Publishing on an early Apple Macintosh computer and together with Gillian Tabor and Tina Cottis was involved in the design of the Sutton with Shopland village sign which stands at the head of the village. She has produced many bespoke plc company brochures, and designed exhibition stands all over the country for the Animal feed division of British Sugar, using her knowledge of livestock farming.
Ivy’s husband, a Commodity Dealer, died in the year 2000 and she realised that it would not be realistic for her to stay in the house which had a 2 acre garden. Late in 2002, Ivy down sized into a smaller cottage in the Barling Road, from whence she can still see Beauchamps across the fields, and remember the many happy times friends and family were able to enjoy its history and ambience, including her own grandchildren.
The top two photographs show the original inside of Beauchamps in 1990 and below the
result of many hours hard work. Ivy recalls her stay at Beauchamps as ‘Bitter Sweet’
The Imperial Prince of France hunts in Beauchamps
The following extract from ‘The History of Rochford Hundred Volume II (page 888)’ by Philip Benton highlights when the Imperial Prince of France accompanied a hunt which ended in the killing of the hare in Beauchamps garden.
‘One of the most enjoyable days was that on which the Prince Imperial of France, together with a number of Officers and Cadets from Shoeburyness, ran with them on the 24th October, 1874 and killed the hare in Beauchamps' garden, Shopland, and during the picnic under the wall the Prince expressed the pleasure he felt in the days sport, and his freedom from the trammels of etiquette. The run was from Fleet Hall marshes at Sutton Ford Bridge, through the Sutton Rectory grounds and past Shopland Church, over to Fox Hall and Trotters land where they crossed the brook, and on to Beauchamps' farm. The Prince was well up with the Master the last part of the run, and they took a quick hedge together, but, catching his toe, came to grief; quickly recovering himself, they ran together through the pond (then dry) at the tail of the hounds, into the garden, where it was killed. The Master, who was then in ignorance of his rank, was presented to the Prince, who received a pad in return.’