The Upminster Tithe Barn Museum of Nostalgia, to give the museum it's full name, is dedicated to an area of life both largely unsung and of immense importance; here is a history of people toiling in the fields throughout the ages. The barn, originally part of the Home or Hall Farm of nearby Upminster Hall, is a large timber framed structure clad in a mixture of horizontal and vertical boarding, capped by a thatched roof. It is of a box-frame construction with aisled sides, consisting of nine bays with central midstrey and a gabled porch on the northern side and measures some 138 feet long by approximately 40 feet wide. Although now known locally as the “Tithe” barn, no evidence has been found that Waltham Abbey or other owners of the manor of Upminster Hall, to which the barn belonged, ever possessed the right to tithes. The only tithe barn known to have existed in Upminster formerly stood next to St Lawrence’s Rectory in St. Mary’s Lane, and was demolished in the 1860’s. The system of tithes dates from the early Hebrews, and taken up by the church, whereby a tribute or gift of a tenth of a man’s income paid in kind ie grain, wood, livestock and eggs, or profits of milling etc., were paid to support the poor. The tithe was later transferred to many secular owners as estates were sold and in the early part of the 19th century commutted to a cash payment, but finally abolished in 1938. he manor of Upminster Hall was given by Earl Harold in or before 1062 to the Abbey of Waltham. According to the 18th century historian Philip Morant, Upminster Hall was likely to have been a retiring place or hunting seat for the Abbot and there was “A Chapel built of stone for the use of his tenants and dependants”. It is most likely that the barn was built by the Abbey around 1450. The manor remained in the possession of Waltham Abbey until its dissolution in 1540, when it was granted to Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, reverting to the Crown that same year on his fall and execution.
The barn took on a new lease of life in 1976 when it opened as an agricultural museum – and there is a tractor, hay wain and various other pieces of agricultural machinery to illustrate the point. However, over the years, the collection has grown and grown to include all manner of domestic and craft items. There’s a kitchen full of pots, pans and china, a front room setting with a pianola and chiming clock, another section is devoted to the local Upminster brick works and yet another to old washing machines and laundry items. We also have a collection of vacuum cleaners, TVs and record players as well as children’s toys and typewriters. On the craft side there is a collection of wood working tools and printing ephemera. If any visitor has a special interest one of the volunteer staff will be happy to direct them to the relevant exhibits. Visitors may wish to combine a visit with a trip to the Upminster Windmill. The mill was built for James Nokes of Hunt's Farm in Corbets Tey Road in 1803 on land transferred from Bridge House Farm which was owned by his brother William. It had four Common sails and drove three pairs of millstones. A steam engine was added early in 1811 driving two pairs of millstones, an action which increased the rateable value of the mill from £30 to £77. A fourth pair of millstones was added to the mill. James Nokes died in 1838 and the mill passed to his son Thomas. A fifth pair of millstones had been added by 1849 when Thomas Nokes was bankrupt. By 1856 the mill was driving six pairs of millstones by wind and steam. Thomas Abraham purchased the mill in 1857, having previously been in the employ of Nokes at both West Thurrock windmill and Upminster. The windmill is currently closed for restoration. Guided tours are available. The museum is wheelchair accessible.
Location : Hall Lane, Upminster, Greater London RM14 1AU
Transport: Upminster (District Line, National Rail - c2c). London Buses routes 248 and 347 stop nearby.
Opening Times: Every other weekend from April 2nd 10:30 to 16:00
Tickets : Free.
Tel: 01708 500600