The History of Upminster Mini Golf Course
While the Friends of the Upminster Mini Golf Course (See FACEBOOK group) are working to improve the community attraction, local historian Richard Moorey takes us through the history of the site.
Very briefly, the land was part of The Manor of Upminster and Upminster Hall, records of which go back to pre-conquest times when the land was held by Harold Godwinson (King Harold of Battle of Hastings fame). He gave the manor to the Canons of Waltham Abbey who used it as a hunting lodge for rest and recuperation.
They rebuilt the Hall c1450 and held it until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1540 when it was bought by Henry’s Chancellor Thomas Cromwell. He only held it for 1 year until he fell foul of Henry and was executed. It was then bought by Ralph Latham, a London Goldsmith for £848-8-11d.
The estate passed through the Latham family until by 1686 it was held by the Earl of Gainsborough. In 1686 it was bought by Andrew Branfill a Master Mariner who was then living at Stepney although originally from the west country. By 1881 the last Branfill was living at the Hall and the estate was eventually broken up into parcels, those north of the railway were bought for development by Peter Griggs and Waldergrave, Ashburnham and Hall Lane houses were built. During the First World War it was the HQ of 49 Wing 1917-1919.
In 1927 The Hall was leased to Upminster Golf Club and in 1935 the Club acquired the property outright. The site formed part of Griggs’ 1906 purchase of the Upminster Hall Estate and like the other northern parts of that estate remained undeveloped for several decades. It was essentially a single company development by Griggs & later Upminster Estates Ltd, not sold off in lots, as far as is known, although from the Building Registers it looks as though some individual plots were sold in the 1930s extension which was more hybrid than the Edwardian suburb. I can only assume that when Upminster Estates Ltd brought forward plans for the northwards & eastern extension of the estate in the 1930s an agreement was reached locally to release that plot for public use but I’ve not got any info one way or another.
The mini golf course was in place before 1937 and almost certainly surrounded by houses by then. The Directory for 1937 lists “The Upminster Short Hole Golf Club” Hall Lane. It may in fact be 10 years older: In the British Newspaper Archive a reference from the Chelmsford Chronicle in June 1928 is made to a golf competition at the “Upminster Miniature Golf Course”. It’s probable that it was initially a private enterprise, not a local council initiative, as this was still the parish council in 1920s and they didn’t have any funding for such things.
I hope this information is of interest and use and should I come across further details I will pass them on. We can however be fairly certain that this particular space has been an open space since before the Norman Conquest.
Richard Moorey with thanks to Tony Benton for additional detail.