Dunton Wayletts

Dunton Wayletts is a hamlet on the western outskirts of Laindon, in the Borough of Basildon, Essex, England. It is located between the Southend Arterial Road (A127 road) and the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway. It is usually known as Dunton.


The name Dunton has Saxon origins ("dun" meaning hill and "tun" meaning town). Wayletts is also derived from the Saxon ("Weylete") and Old English ("Weg-gelaetu") both meaning a place where ways or roads meet.[1]

Early history

The earliest reference to Dunton is found in the Domesday Book of 1086 when 'Dantona' was held by Bishop Ode (half brother of William the Conqueror). During the Middle Ages, the parish of Dunton was divided into two manors : Dunton Hall and Fryern Manor. In the 12th century Dunton came under the ownership of the Abbey of Bec-Hellouin. In the 1440s the manor of Dunton was granted to King's College, Cambridge. The manor of Dunton remained in the possession of King's College until well into the eighteenth century.[2]

St Mary's church

The parish church of St. Mary the Virgin has medieval origins. It was rebuilt in 1873 at a cost of £950, except for a part of the north wall of the chancel which is of 16th century brick and a 15th-century truss. St Mary's stands on the site of a medieval church or priory. In 1923 the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England cited evidence of its medieval origins including a 13th-century font, a 13th-century stone coffin in the churchyard, a cup dating from 1563, a date stone of 1686, a 17th-century table in the vestry, and a church bell dating from 1712.[3]

By the 1950s St Mary's was in a poor structural condition caused by subsidence. The condition of the church had been causing concern for many years and in 1968 the Lay Commission on Churches advised it be pulled down. In 1978 the former Dunton parish was now united with Laindon and the church closed to services and became a chapel of ease (a church building other than the main church) before the Church Commissioners applied to have it declared redundant which was granted in 1980.

After closure, the building and churchyard was left to the mercy of the elements and vandals. The Church Commissioners recommended it become a private residence, and the building was sold in 1985. Following the sale the church was restored for use as a private residence which it remains to this day. There are still a few gravestones remaining from the former churchyard adjacent to the house.[4]

St. Nicholas church in Laindon now serves the parish of Laindon with Dunton.

Dunton in the nineteenth century

In 1801 the population of Dunton was 121.[5]

In 1837 the Parish of Dunton comprised 2,000 acres of land out of which 1,719 was cultivated land, 222 acres meadow pasture, 37 acres woodland, 22 acres was common land, and 17 acres belonging to the Rector.

In the 1841 census the population of Dunton was 194.[6]

In 1871 Dunton had 33 houses with a population of 174.[7]


Friern Manor, to the north of Lower Dunton Road, was built in the 18th century. It was owned by the Governors of St Bartholomew's Hospital in the 19th century. During the 1930s it was owned by the parents of Holocaust denier David Irving. It is now used as a wedding venue.[8]

Dunton Wayletts Farm is a Grade II listed building, a timber-framed and plastered farmhouse built in the sixteenth century, probably on the site of a much earlier building. It is now owned by the Highways Agency / Department for Transport.[9]

Upper Dunton Hall (now Dunton Hall)and Lower Dunton Hall were owned by Kings College, Cambridge. Dunton Hall was built in the 18th century and is Grade II listed former farmhouse. The building was converted to a private dwelling following the closure of the farm.[10]

The Old Rectory is a substantial Victorian house built in the mid nineteenth century which originally served as the rectory of St Mary's Church, until a new rectory was built in the 1930s. In 1934 the Old Rectory was bought by journalist Charles Leatherland, Baron Leatherland who lived there for fifteen years ; when he received a Life Peerage in 1964 he took the title Baron Leatherland of Dunton. Charles Leatherland also bought the former Dunton School building. In 1987 the Old Rectory became a restaurant and is now used as a country house hotel and wedding venue.[11][12]

Rose Cottage and Ivy Cottage are small 18th century Grade II listed timber-framed and plastered cottages in Dunton Road, weatherboarded on the front.[13]

Southfields Farm was an early 18th century farm house. It was destroyed by fire in the early 1960s and the land was bought by Ford Motor Company as part of the site of their Dunton Technical Centre.[14]


Dunton's first known school was a Dame school which opened in 1836. In 1843 a National School was built in Lower Dunton Road on a site granted by King's College, Cambridge. The school had two rooms to accommodate some fifty children. In 1929 Dunton School was sold by Essex County Council and became a private dwelling. During the Second World War, the Home Guard occupied the building.

After the War a new Council School was built partly to accommodate the growing number of children from the new Dunton Plotlands estate. The school closed in 1977 due to declining attendance.[15]

Dunton Poor Law labour colony

In 1904 the Poplar Board of Guardians acquired Sumpners Farm, Dunton as a 130-acre labour colony for 110 men who were transferred from Poplar Workhouse in East London. This was the first Poor Law labour colony in England. It closed in 1935.[16][17]

Dunton Plotlands

The Dunton Plotlands were smallholdings which became popular with East Enders moving out of London. Much of the Plotlands area was compulsorily purchased for the Southfields Industrial Estate.[18][19]

Modern Dunton

In 1967 the Ford Motor Company opened the Dunton Technical Centre on former agricultural land at the north end of Dunton.

Dunton's amenities declined during the 1970s. The village school closed in 1977 and the one village shop closed a year later.[20]

See also


External links

Coordinates: 51°35′10″N 0°23′20″E / 51.586°N 0.389°E / 51.586; 0.389

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