High House Farm is an historic Essex farmstead and for this reason the whole complex is Grade II listed. Because of its size and rarity in Essex the large brick built dovecote, which stands prominently at the entrance to High House, has the higher designation of being a Scheduled Ancient Monument. High House is situated over a 14 acre site managed now as High House Production Park which is registered as a charity.
The Farm was originally built in the mid-16th century as a Manorial Farmstead complex and included a south facing house that had commanding views over the marshes and the River Thames. The 16th century house, built in timber by Cecily Long was rebuilt in brick in the late 17th century by Richard Sheldrick a wealthy city banker. Further buildings were added and changes made to the house and gardens in the 18th century under the ownership of the Grantham family who were relatively wealthy captains and shareholders of the East India Company. From 1777 Samuel Whitbread owned High House farm and it became part of Whitbread Estates substantial chalk quarry holdings in Thurrock. During this time it was in use as a tenanted farm until quarrying interests made the farm largely redundant in the 1920’s with the house eventually being sold off as a private school in 1930. The house was converted to flats in 1954 and the walled kitchen gardens and orchards were abandoned, however, the site remained largely intact as a farm frozen in time.
Throughout its long history the farm changed and developed as new buildings were added to reflect changing lifestyles. The oldest original building on the site is the two storey building known as the Coachman’s Cottage. The Cottage was previously used as a brew house and some period features including the remnants of a 16th century chimney stack, bread oven and limestone sink remain. The Stables date to the late 18th or early 19th century and retain good architectural features such as the stalls, iron mangers and limestone set floor which illustrate the relatively high status of the farm at this time.
The Granary has a raised brick vaulted floor and a boarded interior, it is dated between 1874 and 1896 and is typical of the period. The Essex Barn was a late addition to the site being built in 1898. It is a large construction of eight weatherboarded bays with extensive timbers exposing an impressive roof space.
Before the recent refurbishment the buildings were in a very poor state of repair and for safety reasons the whole site was closed to the public for several years. The works to restore the Farm took just over a year and have created a facility which is unrecognisable from its state in 2009.