I’ve already mentioned Langleys, one of Essex’s finest country houses, in the parish of Great Waltham. It dates mainly from about 1718–20, when an existing house was rebuilt by Samuel Tufnell MP. He had bought the estate in 1710 from Sir Richard Everard, 4th baronet. His great-grandfather, the 1st baronet, also Richard, was High Sheriff in 1644–5, as was his father Hugh in 1626. Hugh’s eldest brother Sir Anthony (died 1614) is the subject of the magnificent monument in Great Waltham Church.
Samuel Tufnell’s son John Jolliffe Tufnell inherited in 1758 (Jolliffe was Samuel’s mother’s maiden name) and was High Sheriff in 1785–6, followed by his grandson of the same name in 1823. Later in the 1820s John Jolliffe Tufnell II made a significant change to the house, bringing forward the central bays of the entrance front to create an entrance hall. A third John Jolliffe Tufnell was High Sheriff in 1870, and his grandson Major Nevill Arthur Charles de Hirzel Tufnell in 1931.
John Jolliffe Tufnell III also indulged in building work, employing the architect Frederic Chancellor. Chancellor was probably Essex’s most distinguished architect, with an office in London as well as Chelmsford; he was also a dedicated public servant, the first mayor of Chelmsford in 1888 and in six further years, a freeman of the borough, and a member of the County Council. The Essex Record Office houses his office archive, a fine (and very large) collection of architectural drawings that is in the process of being conserved and catalogued with the help of funding from the Essex Heritage Trust and the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust.
When I visited the ERO earlier this year I was able to see the process in action (most of the work is carried out by volunteers, under the watchful eye of conservator Diane Taylor), including some of Chancellor’s drawings for work at Langleys. After nearly forty years as an architectural historian I still get a thrill out of looking at the beautiful objects, the best of which manage to be simultaneously works of art and precise instructions to the builder. With a few slight changes of detail, the coachman’s cottage designed by Chancellor for J. J. Tufnell in 1869 is instantly recognisable; it stands in the grounds of Langleys, next to the Essex Way.
Thanks to other material in the Chancellor Archive, we also know that it was Frederic who, in 1895, rebuilt the mausoleum attached to Boreham Church that is the final resting place of, amongst others, John Lionel Tufnell-Tyrell, High Sheriff in 1887–8.