Antique Engraving Print, Barrington Hall at Hatfield Broad Oak in Essex, Published for ‘A New Display of the Beauties of England’s, 1776, cm. 21,3 x 13.
The Barrington family were prominent in Hatfield Broad Oak from the 12th to the 19th century. They were the hereditary Woodwards of Hatfield Forest and lived just beyond the south east boundary of the Forest. In 1612, Sir Francis bought the lordship of the manor. By the 18th century, they owned most of the parish. A new mansion, Barrington Hall, was built in the 1740’s but not occupied. The family interest in Hatfield Forest ended in 1832 when they sold out to John Archer Houblon, allowing him to consolidate ownership of the Forest.
Sir Thomas married first Alice, daughter of Sir Henry Parker, 10th Baron Morley, from nearby Hallingbury Place, and then, more usefully, Winifred, a daughter of Henry Pole, Lord Montagu, and granddaughter of Margaret Plantagenet, of Royal blood. This blood line were fierce rivals to the upstart Tudor blood line of Henry VIII.
This marriage brought the manors of Clavering and Bushey, as well as large estates in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Essex and the Isle of Wight.
In 1564, Sir Thomas purchased the former Benedictine Priory of Hatfield Broad Oak, after it had been dissolved during the reign of Henry VIII. Here he received the Queen, Elizabeth I, in 1576, and again, in 1578. He was knighted in 1571 and died in 1586.
Sir Thomas came into dispute with Robert, 3rd Lord Rich, in relation to the office of Woodward. In 1576, the Court of the Star Chamber ruled on this dispute, assigning various rights between the parties. As part of this, the Barringtons agreed to surrender the office of Woodward, in return for ownership of the trees in the north eastern third of the Forest, to the east of Shermore Brook, as well as limited grazing rights in the whole of the Forest.
The family seat up to about 1600 was Barrington Hall. This stood on a moated site 2 km north of Hatfield Broad Oak village, near to the south east corner of the Forest. A later house, built immediately to the north, survives as Little Barrington Hall.