Recent History

George Tuke, James Winstanley and Edward Sedgwick bought Cressing Temple as a business proposition intending to sell it on profitably as soon as possible. John Evelyn, the botanist and diarist, spent Christmas and New Year 1659 at Cressing as a guest of George Tuke, recording that no services were held in the chapel at that time due to the death of the incumbent.

In about 1670, Cressing Temple was acquired by Sir Thomas Davies, a former Lord Mayor of London and it remained in his family until 1703. His eldest son shot himself at Cressing Temple which may explain the story of a ghost which is said to have been seen there.

It is uncertain when the Great House and the chapel were demolished, but it probably occurred not long after the estate was acquired by Herman Olmius in 1703. His family was to own the estate until the later 19th century. He lived at Great Leighs and his son, Lord Waltham, lived at New Hall, Boreham. The Great House was no longer required as a residence, and Cressing Temple became a tenanted farm, circumstances which doubtless caused them to have the buildings dismantled. From 1758 to 1842, the estate was rented by the Grimwoods, a substantial local farming family.

In 1882 Cressing Temple became the property of the Ford family, whose most famous son was Francis Ford, the Middlesex cricketer. It was bought in 1913 by Frank Cullen whose father had established a successful seed business at Witham. Under his ownership, which lasted until 1971, much of the land was used for growing seeds, and the barns and other buildings were lovingly maintained and made accessible to interested visitors. On the retirement of his nephew, Mr. Anthony Cullen, in 1987, the estate was split up, the farm buildings and surrounding land being purchased by Essex County Council.

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