Marrable House, the ugliest building in Essex, to be rebuilt

Marrable House

Marrable House

Good news for the residents of Great Baddow, Essex. The building that was once voted the ugliest in the country, is to be demolished and replaced with a new stylish building to create new homes for the elderly and frail.

The building, called Marrable House, has been standing empty and derelict for many years. It is 5 stories high and a real blot on the Great Baddow landscape.

For as long as I remember it has stood mostly empty. When I was at school I remember seeing “To Let” signs on the windows all the time. That was in the late 1980’s. Apart from the outlets below I certainly do not remember seeing anything in the building. It always seemed such a waste of space in the centre of the village.

Once Marrable House has been demolished it will be replaced with a new block of flats that will house 60 care apartments. There will be two buildings in the new development, the new smaller facing Maldon Road and taking some of the parking area. The new name for the building is to be Gibbs House, named after Essex’s composer Armstrong Gibbs.

Who Was Armstrong Gibbs?

Cecil Armstrong Gibbs was born on the 10th August 1889 in Great Baddow. The family was prosperous – his father was chairman of a thriving family business. His mother died when he was only two years old.

“the boy was brought up in a rambling 17th century country mansion by five aunts who took it in turns to keep house for the widower. When still a tiny boy he evinced precocious musical gifts including an acute sense of perfect pitch – sitting under the grand piano out of sight of the keyboard he could name correctly all the notes of a chord, from the top down or the bottom up. These gifts did not get much stimulation at ‘The Wick’, the prep school near Brighton where he was sent at the age of 10, nor at Winchester, for which he gained a scholarship three years later. In his last year at the College, however, he formed with his friend Steuart Wilson a small choir which soon attained a high enough standard to give eagerly-attended monthly recitals.” Source:, Armstrong Gibbs (1889-1960)

He went to Trinity College in Cambridge and then on to the Royal College of Music. After learning music he then taught composition and music theory from 1921 up until the start of the Second World War. From 1937 he served as the Vice President of the British Federation of Music Festivals, a position which he held until 1952.

Amrstrong Gibbs composed one opera, one operetta, incidental music for several plays, several cantatas, three symphonies, a concertino for piano and string orchestra, five string quartets, one violin sonata, pieces for piano, works for choir, and many songs, a great number of which were settings of texts penned by his friend Walter de la Mare.

He died on 12th May 1960 in Chelmsford.

Symphony No. 3 in B flat Op. 104 “Westmorland” by Armstrong Gibbs


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