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the chff, from which some ponderous mass has been recently detached,
or strewn upon the beach. In a private collection of the late Mr. John
Brown, F.C.S., of Stanway, is deposited the tusk of a mammoth ; it is
eight feet long and twenty -four inches in circumference, and was found
here on the beach, between low and high water mark. The shells are
found generally in excellent preservation, among which are the tere-
bratula, about one-and-a-half inches long, and thick, nearly oval, roughly
striated transversely, and having a large foramen defined by a distinct
border. The fossil oyster, or ostrea def ormis, and the reversed whelk,
murex contrarius, also furnish abundant specimens. On the north and
north-west of Walton lies a comparatively inland sea, formed by a series
of creeks, extending from a spot called Stone Point, about five miles along
the northern shore. Many small vessels may here be observed dredging
for the young oyster, or ' spat,^ as it is termed, which is thence conveyed
to the celebrated oyster beds of the River Colne, where they in due
time arrive at maturity.^ ^

Walton has grown into one of the most pleasant watering-places on the
coast. A century ago it was a dreary tract, the resort of smugglers, and
a point upon which the sea was making rapid inroads. Houses and fields,
and even its church, have, in fact, been carried away by the waves, the
foundations of the latter being at times visible far out in the waters.
Modern energy and enterprise have changed the whole character of the
place. A neat little new Church has arisen, and the land has been pro-
tected from the further ravages of the sea. Excellent hotels, terraces, and
villas have been built. A handsome pier has been provided. Altogether its
bracing air, with its fine beach and bold open sea, its pleasing walks, its brick
octagonal building on the Naze, rising to the height of 80 ft., and from
its summit affording splendid views inland and to seaward ; its martello
tower, a remnant of the old war, on the north, and the rich fossil treasures
of its cliffs, combine to render it a summer resort as picturesque as it is
becoming popular.

The charities consist of ten acres of land given by John Sadler in 1563,
and Thomas Goulding in 1582 ; and twenty-five acres by unknown donors;
a rent-charge of £2, out of Pulpit Field, purchased with money left by
Charles Stevens in 1613 ; an acre adjoining, given by an unknown donor
in the reign of Queen Elizabeth ; and four cottages built on the site of
ancient almshouses which fell down in 1843,



86 HISTORY OF EASTERN ENGLAND.

Returning to Stratford junction we start on what is commonly called
the Cambridge line^ which runs near some towns in the northern division
of Essex. On our left are thin hedgerows, beyond which is the broad
expanse of Hackney marshes, and the old clock tower and new Church oi
Hackney conspicuous beyond. On the right of the line are the wooded
clusters about Leyton and Leyton Park House, home of old annuitants,
who there find a respite from the cares of the weary world, a noble home,
and charming pleasure grounds, for the payment of a small sum. A
little further on we come to Lea-bridge station.

TOTTENHAM

Is a long straggling hamlet on the banks of the Lea, the western end of
which is called Tottenham High Cross, from a cross that has stood there
from time immemorial. At Tottenham the Lea is very beautiful, and the
country presents the appearance of a highly cultivated, rich, and varie-
gated garden. Old Izaak Walton mentions the High Cross. In his time,
he says, " there was a sweet shady arbour which nature herself has woven
with her own fine fingers ; it is such a contexture of woodbine, sweet
briar, jessamine, and myrtle, and so interwoven as will secm-e us both
from the sun's violent heat and from the approaching shower." Here
Piscator used to solace and refresh himself, he says, with " a bottle of sack,
milk, oranges, and sugar, which all put together made a drink like nectar ;
indeed too good for any but us anglers .'' This, however, has alas ! long
since departed, and the sweet shades he speaks of live only in the fervid
imagination of the Cockney poets, who come here as to classic ground, to
peruse the pages of that lover of rural beauty, who has made so many
thousands of the Londoners take to the gentle sport.

WALTHAMSTOW

Is a parish in the Hundred of Beacontree in Essex. It adjoins Woodford
on the verge of the forest, and abounds in beautiful woodland scenery,
with a tract of marshland towards the Lea, by which river it is separated
from Middlesex. Its population has vastly increased within the last
twenty years, and is scattered over a series of separated villages named
Church End, Chapel End, North End, Marsh Street, Higham Hill, Clay
Street, Whips Cross, and Wood Street. The Church is a noble and
imposing structure, believed to have been partly erected by Sir George
Monix, Lord Mayor of London, in 1514, who sleeps with his lady in the
chapel at the east end. Waltham is a Saxon term signifying a dwelling
in a wood. The parish was once a forest, the property of Harold, the
son of Earl Godwin, and the last of the so-called Saxon Kings;



A DESCRIPTION OF ESSEX. 87

and now the whole parish^ with the adjoining' ones, may be compared to a
rural city. Country seats, farm-houses, and cottages are so blended
together, and the paths encompassed with trees and hedges are so delight-
ful, that we are not surprised so many people choose to reside in this
healthy spot. It contains the residences of many London citizens, who
here retire from the scenes of business.

EDMONTON

Stands in Middlesex, but so near the borders of Essex, for which it has
a railway station, that it demands some notice. The village is pleasantly
situated on the high road to Hertford, along which it extends for more
than a mile, comprising several ranges of respectable houses, and in
detached situations many elegant mansions and handsome villas. The
New River winds through the parish, producing a pleasing and picturesque
effect in the pleasure grounds through which it flows. Edmonton, as
everybody knows, was immortalized by Cowper in " The Diverting
History of John Gilpin,^^ that citizen of " credit and renown," who met
with such memorable adventures. The " Bell Inn " exhibits the sign of
John Gilpin, and the house is commonly known as " Gilpin's Bell,'' where
weary travellers often refresh. We have often stopped there when visit-
ing Edmonton, for there Charles Lamb, the author of " Elia," who lived
in the village, was wont to accompany such friends as called on him, on
their way to their own homes, and to take with them a stirrup cup at
parting. Lamb is buried in the village churchyard, in a spot which, about
a fortnight before his death, he had pointed out to his sister, in an after-
noon walk, as the place where he wished to be interred.



Is a parish (formerly a market town) in the Hundred of Edmonton. The
town, which is situated to the west of the road from London to Ware,
consists of two streets, in which are several handsome houses, and is well
supplied with water from springs. The parish comprises the town, the
Chase, Bull's Cross, Baker Street, and Green Street, with Ponder's End.
Enfield is a liberty belonging to the Duchy of Lancaster, and the inhabi-
tants appoint their own coroner. In 1816, a royal manufactory for small
arms was established in this parish, and here the Enfield rifles were produced
in large quantities by about 1,000 hands.

WALTHAM ABBEY

Is a small but ancient and interesting town, in the low lands of the Lea.
It is divided into four wards : — Waltham, Holyfield, Sewardstone, and
Upshire, with Galley and Mangham Hills. The latter are occupied by



83 aiSTORY OF EASTERN ENGLAND.

the Government powder mills and magazines^ which also extend in
detached branches three or four miles along the little islands of the marsh
lands.

The name of King Harold has generally been associated with the
establishment of Waltham_, and he was the first who brought it into pros-
perity and repute. He founded the Abbey ; and it was at its altar he
knelt to ofier up his last prayer when he went forth to meet his death at
the hands of the Normans. It was in this spot that his body found a
tomb when it was brought from the battle-field. But pioneers had
been at work here before the time of Harold. In the early ages the
waters of the Lea and the tide flowing up from the Thames formed here
a broad estuary; and in 876 some of the ships of the Danish spoilers lay
at anchor in the waters which then covered the rich marsh and meadow
lands where droves of cattle now graze. These vessels had sent forth
hordes which were ravaging the country around, when King Alfred, by
an adroit use of the spade, cut and diverted the feeding streams of the
Lea, and left the ships upon dry land, thus compelling the crews to
abandon their plunder and save themselves by an overland flight. Black-
wall, too, was raised by the same monarch to shut out the inundating
flow of the tide ; some of the lands were drained ; and about a. century-
and-a-half afterwards, Toor, a rich Saxon, standard bearer to the Danish
King Canute, found it so fertile and fair a spot, with the forest around
about so thickly stocked with deer, that he built a number of houses — the
nucleus of the future Waltham — and settled a colony of sixty inhabitants
upon it. He also founded a Church for two priests ; and, says the page of
olden history, '' committed to their keeping a miraculous cross said to
have been discovered in a vision to a carpenter far westward, and brought
hither in a manner unknown, which was reported to work many wonders ;
and on account of that cross, the place attained the name of Holy Cross "
— though, perhaps, some may be disposed to think the appellation was
derived from the beautiful memorial cross, the defaced remnants of which
still stand just over the border, in Hertfordshire, erected in 1291, to mark
one of the resting-places of the body of Queen Eleanor on its way from
Lincoln. The son of Toor, however, had little of his father's thrift. By
means akin to the gaming table and the turf he scattered his patrimony,
and Waltham coming to the Crown, Edward the Confessor gave it to
Earl Harold on condition that he should " build a monastery in the place
where was a little convent, subject to the canons and their rulers, and
furnish it with all the necessary relics, dresses, and ornaments, in memory
of Edward and his wife Edith.'' Accordingly, in 1062, a college for a
dean and eleven secular canons was founded, and in time it became
endowed with a large part of the property of the Hundred, with lands.



A DESCRIPTION OF ESSEX. 89

advowsons, tithes^ and manors in various parts of this and other counties^
though the Conqueror appears to have stripped them of most of the lands
in Waltham given them by Harold. Its character of a college was main-
tained for little more than a century. Eome at this period began to
entertain some jealousy of the secular orders ; and branding them with
irreligion and looseness of life, it was resolved to supplant them wherever
possible by regular monks. Henry II. took advantage of this feeling.
He had made a pious vow to build an abbey as an act of expiation for the
murder of Thomas a Becket ; and he contrived to do it at a cheap rate,
and compromise with his conscience and the Pope by changing the Dean
of Waltham into an abbot, and replacing the secular canons by sixteen
Augustine monks. This was in 1177. The Abbey, as rich in privileges
as in possessions, continued to flourish till the Reformation.

It had been from its foundation a chapel royal. It was independent of
all bishops, and yielded obedience to none save the Pope and the King.
The chief was one of the twenty-eight mitred abbots of the kingdom ;
and had a house in London for his residence when he went to Court. He
had often, too, the King for a neighbour or guest. Henry III., especially,
often made Waltham his place of residence; and to compensate the
inhabitants for the high prices occasioned by his presence, he granted
them a weekly market and a seven days^ fair. The abbey continued 362
years, under a succession of twenty-seven abbots ; and at last, close by
its walls, tradition says a thought was hatched and presented to the mind
of Henry VIII., which had a great influence in bringing about the Refor-
mation, and with it the destruction of this and other conventual estabhsh-
ments. '' The King," as runs the tale, " had a small house on Rome-land,
a parcel of land near the abbey, so-called from having been granted by
Henry II. to Pope Alexander, to which he occasionally resorted for his
private amusement," as may be inferred from Fuller, who says, " Waltham
bells told no tales when the King came there." He took this place in his
way when he commenced a journey to dissipate the chagrin he felt from
the obstructions to his divorce from Queen Catherine. Stephen Gardiner,
his Secretary of State, and Edward Fox, his Almoner, by whom he was
accompanied, spent the evening at the house of Mr. Cressy, to whose sons
Dr. Cranmer was preceptor. As the divorce became the subject of con-
versation, Cranmer observed that the readiest way to quiet the King's
conscience, or to extort the Pope's consent, would be to consult the
universities of Europe on this controverted point. If they approved of
his marriage with Catherine his remorse would naturally cease ; if they
condemned it, the Pope would find it dijfficult to resist the solicitations of
so great a monarch, seconded by the opinion of all the learned men in
Christendom. When the King was informed of this proposal, he was



90 HISTORY OF EASTERN ENGLAND.

deliglited witli it;, and witli more alacrity than delicacy swore tliat Cran-
mer had got the right sow by the ear. He sent for that divine, adopted
his opinion, and ever afterwards entertained for him the highest regard.
Mr. Cressy^s house, where this transaction occurred, has long since been
entirely unknown.

E-obert Fuller, the last abbot, a man of some literary pretensions, wrote
a history of the abbey. He surrendered his estate and trust to Henry
VIII. in March, 1540, the revenues of the abbey then amounting to
£1,079 12s. Id. — showing it to have been the richest in Essex. The site
of the monastery, Waltham Park, and much of the property of the house
in the district, were granted to Sir Anthony Denny, a favourite gentleman
of the King's Privy Chamber. It was afterwards sold to Sir William
Jones, from whom it passed to the Wake family, and Sir Charles Wake
is the present lord. The site of the abbey is now a market garden.

Between Waltham and Cheshunt is a rich undulating country, park-,
like in its scenery, very picturesque when the sun glances on the green
hill sides and throws long tremulous shadows of the trees on the rich
pastures where the cattle browse. Cheshunt in recent times is most
noticeable for the college for the education of young Nonconformist
preachers which the old Countess of Huntingdon so liberally endowed.

ROYDON

Is a parish in the Hundred of Waltham, but chiefly in that of Harlow,
County of Essex. The River Stort divides the parish from Hertfordshire.
The ground above the river is very elevated, and commands extensive
views over the Rye House and for many miles beyond it. Roydon is an
extensive parish, but the village is a small straggling place, there being
few houses in it. The Church (St. Peter) is an ancient edifice. East of
the church, on the village green, stands Temple Roydon House. The
manor of the hall now belongs to Earl Momington, and T. A. Houblin,
Esq., is lord of Downes and Nether Halls.

BROXBODRNE

Is pleasantly situated on the Lea in Hertfordshire, but close to the county
of Essex, and near the railway station. The parish is extensive, and its
inhabitants are nearly all engaged in agricultural pursuits. The Church is
a handsome edifice, and comprises a nave, aisle, and chancel ; at the west
end there is a tower with a plain spire and beacon turret. There are
several good houses in .the village, which lies along the high road. The
River Lea here retains its ancient piscatory fame, and " Want's Inn " is
still much frequented by London • anglers. Many fish of various kinds



A DESCRIPTION OF ESSEX. 9l

are preserved here, wliicli have been stuffed on account of their extra-
ordinary size.

HARLOW,

Which Kes on the high road to Cambridge and Newmarket, at about
twenty-three miles from London, and gives name to the Hundred, is a
parish of some extent, and an ancient market town, though changing
circumstances and the shifting allegiance of trade have reduced it to the
quietude and dimensions of a large village. Its market, held on Satur-
days, was, in the early part of the last century, of considerable impor-
tance. The woollen manufacture which was carried on here largely at
that period gave an air of activity to the place and employment to the
poor. The factories, however, are closed ; the manufacture departed ;
the market decayed; the wool fair, which long survived, was at last
discontinued ; the rail came and robbed the town of its through traffic,
and it is now a clean little country town, with its spindles and looms
almost forgotten, and little to distinguish it from an ordinary Essex
village, save that it is the capital of the Hundred, and has a neat little
police-station, which was built and presented to the county by J. Perry
Watlington, Esq. An attempt made some years ago to revive its market
was a failure ; but its cattle fairs yet command considerable trade. They
are held on Bush Common, near the hamlet of Potter Street, which takes
its name from the potteries formerly carried on there, and is two miles
from the town. From the many coins of that people found in the parish
and neighbourhood, it appears that the Romans had a halting or dwelling
place here while they held the land ; and many families of note lorded
it over the serfs of Harlow in Saxon and Norman times. Harlow Bury
was given to the abbey of Bury St. Edmund^s by Thurston, son of Wina,
in the time of Edward the Confessor ; and the lordly abbot of that house
appears to have made it a halting-place, where he feasted and sojourned
for a time as he travelled to and fro in attending Parliament. The
ecclesiastical owner had peculiar concessions made to him in respect to
this manor. " King Stephen remitted to him the assarts of Harlow.
King John granted that the woods here should be exempt from the
regarders of the forest, hunting only excepted ; that they might assart
the wood of Rokey, belonging to this manor ; and that they might make
their land wainable — that is, turn it to tillage — without being subject to
the regarders." The abbot and his retinue, however, appear to have
eaten up the estate on these periodical visits; as we find that Pope
Boniface IX. appropriated the proceeds to the abbot^s table. But if not
a place of fasting, it was occasionally one of prayer. A large Chapel was
built close to the mansion — ^partly it is probable for the use of the



92 HISTORY OP EASTERN ENGLAND.

tenants and partly that tlie abbot and his followers might there chant the
mass and sing the vesper hymn during their stay. This Chapel still
remains, with its fine circular-headed door and its small antique windows ;
but Mr. Barnard, the owner and occupier of the estate, uses it, as it has
been used for a number of years, for the purpose of a granary. Sacks
occupy the site of the altar, and the aisles and the chancel receives the
produce of the neighbouring fields.



Adjoins the parish of Harlow — in fact, it includes that part popularly
known as Harlow Bush Common, and it extends to the river Stort, which
is the county boundary. The name of the parish implies that it was once
large enough to be dignified with the title of a town or place freshly
redeemed from the forest. We see here, in the ruins of the ancient
priory, all that is left by the religious revolution of the sixteenth century.
The old manor house of Merks, the home of once powerful families stood
here for ages. The dark heavy rooms and rude gables of the old house
have been transformed by modern taste into an elegant mansion, one of
the ornaments of the county, which is now the residence of the Rev. J.
Ark Wright, who is lord of the neighbouring domain. The mansion and
manor of Marks Hall took their name from AdelofE de Merc, who held
them under the Earl of Boulogne. The old house was demolished
and the present mansion erected in the last century by Sir William
Lushington, who expended £30,000 upon it, and afterwards sold it to
Montagu Burgoyne, Esq., who, fifty years ago, was a county politician.
The estate was purchased in 1819 for 100,000 guineas by Richard
Arkwright, Esq., father of the present proprietor.

The part of the Hundred to the north-west of Harlow, running towards
Bishop Stortford, still retains its forestal character to some extent.
Starting on our pilgrimage in this direction, we leave Mutching,
which runs up to Ongar Hundred, about four miles on the right.
J. T. Selwin, Esq., is lord of the hall, the chief manor, and
Wesham, once a hamlet, in which in former times, stood a Chapel,
endowed with twenty.one acres of land. Sheering, long the pro-
perty of the Fitz-Walter family, is situated in this neighbourhood, and
yonder is Dorrington Hall, delightfully placed in the vale of the Stort.
T. C. Glyn, Esq., is there lord of the manor. Gilston Park is the property
of J. Hodgson, Esq. The mansion is the meet home of a country
gentleman, and it is approached by two entrances in the park, one on the
west side, and one on the east. The route from the west entrance to the
mansion is a raile-and-a-half in length through a beautiful road, the whole



A DESCRIPTION OF ESSEX. 93

distance on each side being flanked with oak trees. The park is well
stocked with game of every description_, and there is in the centre a
sheet of water full of fish.

Gilston village is a straggling place of about a mile in lengthy near the
railway station. Terlings Park is the property of J. Hill_, Esq., and
faces the river Stort near the railway station. A sheet of water leading
from the river passes through the estate ; the house stands in the centre of
the park.

Marks Hall, about a mile from the station on the Harlow-road, is the
property of L. Arkwright, Esq. The Hall stands in the centre of a large
park ; the owner keeps a fine pack of hounds, which afibrd sport to the
district.

BISHOP STOKTPOED

Takes its name from its situation on each side of a ford on the river Stort,
now crossed by two bridges. The parish is in the county of Hertford,
but still on the borders of Essex, near the railway-station. The town
extends up the slope of a hill from the river, and consists of four streets,
or properly two lines of streets, in the form of a cross. There are some
good inns, and many houses of the better class. The Church stands in a
commanding position upon rising ground, and it is dedicated to St.
Michael. It was partly re-built in 1820, and now accommodates 2000
persons. The living is a vicarage in the gift of the precentor of St.
Paul's. At Thaxted, an adjoining parish in the hundred of Dunmow,
Essex, there is a Church of great beauty, considered to be the most noble
and costly in the county — so costly indeed that people wonder whence all
the money came. Horham Hall, in the parish of Thaxted, the most
ancient and interesting of the remaining manor houses, stands about two
miles south-west of the town. It was originally built by Sir John Cutts,
who obtained the lordship of Thaxted from Queen Catherine. This
mansion was celebrated for its splendour and hospitality during several
reigns of succeeding sovereigns.

STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET

Is a parish partly in the hundred of Clavering, but chiefly in that of
TJttlesford (Essex), distant 35^ miles from London. This is one of the
largest parishes in the county, being nearly forty miles in circumference,
containing within its boundaries a good village, the remains of an ancient
tower, and slight traces of the great castle of the Mountfichets. This
was the head of the barony of the great Norman family, which after the
conquest secured 48 lordships in the county, but it continued so for only
a short period. The last of the house died without issue in 1258, and



94 HISTORY OP EASTERN ENGLAND.

the estates were divided. The village consists of a straggling street.
The name Stansted is supposed to be corrupted from Stone-street_, the
name of a Roman way on or near which it stood. Montfitchet was the



Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 70)