For centuries Eastbury Manor House in Barking has been the subject of rumour and speculation about
its links with the Gunpowder Plot. In August of 1999 a piece of evidence was found which might just put
it in the frame.
Eastbury Manor House is a beautifully restored example of 16th century architecture built in the 1560's
for Clement Sysley, a prosperous merchant in the City of London. Sysley died in 1578, but bequeathed the manor
to his wife Anne, for life, with reversion to their son, Thomas. By 1603 the property was in the hands of
John Moore, an Alderman of London as tennant, and the 1999 discovery pertains to an inventory of goods taken at the premises
in 1603 when Moore died. It is likely that the inventory was taken as part of the requirements for the
proving of his will.
Moore was married to a Spanish woman, Maria Perez de Recalde and was a known Catholic as apparently
were the Sysley's and Stewards (from whom Moore rented the house). His step-daughter who
shared her mothers name was married to Lewis Tresham, brother of Francis Tresham. More recent research
has made the claim that this could have been one of Lord Monteagles dwellings as well.
In 1726 (7 years after penning Robinson Crusoe), the writer, Daniel Defoe, wrote: 'a little beyond the town (Barking), on the road to Dagenham,
stood a great house, ancient and now almost fallen down, where tradition says the Gunpowder Plot was at
first contrived and that all the first consultations about it were held there.' The local tradition of
connection with the plot was charted throughout the centuries that followed with author CRB Barrett
stating in 1892 that according to local legend, it was from the summit of the stair tower at Eastbury
Manor House that the conspirators hoped to see the flash and hear the report that their plans had been
successful. Both of these writers would have talked to local people about stories which had been passed
down from generation to generation but which wouldn't necessarily have any solid evidence. In fact, the
only things that firmly linked the house to the plot were these persistant local legends. That was until
the discovery of the inventory of John Moore.
Further speculation now exists that the house does have some tenuous link to the events of November
1605, although this is highly unlikely. Certainly Francis Tresham would have visited his younger brother
there, yet Francis was brought into the plot a mere two weeks before the Monteagle Letter was delivered
to Sir Robert Cecil. It seems impossible then that this would have been a location where the plot was
conceived, or even discussed.
Verdict : False. Unlikely to have been used to further the cause of the plot, yet the connection
to Lewis Tresham and possibly Francis is now undeniable.