Langtons
Langtons is a grade II listed 18th-century house and gardens open to the public situated in Hornchurch in the London Borough of Havering, east London. The house, built on the foundations of an older house in the early 18th century, stands in a picturesque landscaped garden with a lake, orangery, bath house and a gazebo, all dating from the end of the 18th century, when Hornchurch, Essex, was a rural suburb of London. The house was purchased in 1797 by John Massu, whose family, originally Huguenot refugees, had become wealthy silk merchants in the City of London. He set about modernizing Langtons, to which he added the two-storey wings that project on the south front, and landscaping the grounds according to plans of Humphrey Repton. He created the serpentine pond with the bathhouse and gazebo and planted horse chestnuts to mask or frame the mid-18th century stables, to which he added an octagonal cupola. A shrubbery walk with serpentining paths was planted east of the house and a balancing shrubbery belt to the west are probably part of Repton's plan; the Cedar of Lebanon was planted as a central feature of the lawn. By 1805 the gardens were sufficiently advanced to be illustrated in Peacock's Polite Repository. Langtons was given to Hornchurch Urban District Council by Varco Williams and his daughter in 1929, under the condition that the building must be kept as it was and used for council purposes and that the six acres (24,000 m²) of grounds remain open to the public. The gardens, one of the surviving historic landscapes serve as one of the parks and open spaces in Havering. Fielders Sports Ground, north of the site, was once also part of the gardens. The building housed the council offices until the council was abolished in 1965 and Havering London Borough Council, based in Romford, was created. It now houses a registry office with function rooms and has become a popular venue for weddings. Due to an administration error the registry office was found to be unlicenced from October 2004 to March 2005 with around 80 marriages affected. Despite the error, all were later found by the High Court to be legally valid.