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hibitions. The old fun and spirit of the ceremony were entirely gone.

ONGAK HUNDEED

Extends from that of Dunmow on the north to Havering on the south, a
distance of about fourteen miles; but in breadth f rom Waltham on the
west to the verge of the Hundreds of Chelmsford, Chafford, and Barstable,
which it skirts on the east, it narrows in parts to about seven miles. The
Hundred is exceedingly pleasant, being finely undulated, and touching at
several points upon the forest. Of the part towards Epping, it was written
a hundred years ago — '' It may with propriety be called the garden of
Essex, from the pleasing variety of the hills and vales_, the fertility of the
soil, the goodness of the roads, the neatness of the buildings, and the
many additional ornaments it receives from the number of noblemen^s and
gentlemen's seats with which it abounds."

In this and some of the neighbouring Hundreds, various estates were held
by the tenure of "attending the wardstaff"," a curious old ceremony
intended, as far as we can judge from the allusion to it in records, to
secure an annual muster and brief training of the men upon whom
devolved certain duties at a time when the preservation of the peace and
the protection of property were left very much in the people's own
keeping. A description of this proceeding has been preserved in a
manuscript account of the rents of the Hundred at the time they were
granted to John Stoner of Loughton in the reign of Henry VIII. It is
there described as having been observed " not only in the time of King
Edward III. and Eobert the Bruce, some time King of Scots, but also in
the time of his noble progenitors, kings of England, long before which the



A DESCRIPTION OF ESSEX. 51

Saxons mhabited this realm, as manifestly may appear more at large by
ancient records thereof made by Humphrey de Bohun, the Earl of Here-
ford and Essex, and Constable of England, lord of the said Hundred,
dated at Pleshy the 10th of July, in the eleventh year of the reign
of the same King Edward, as also by divers other records in the
Saxon tongue/^

This Hundred contains the following twenty-six parishes : — Ongar
Chipping, Ongar High, Chigwell, Fyfield, Greenstead, Kelvedon Hatch,
Lambourne, High Laver, Little Laver, Magdalen Laver, Loughton,
Moreton, Navestock, Bobbingworth, North Weald, Norton Mandeville,
Abbess Eoothing, Beauch Eoothing, Shelley, Stanford Rivers, Staple
Abbots, Staple Tawney, Stondon Massey, Thordon Bois, Thoydon Garnon,
Thoydon Mount.

WALTHAM HALF HUNDEED

Lies at the western corner of the county, where it is bounded by the River
Lea, and joins on the other side the Hundreds of Harlow and Ocgar.
From north to south, it is about ten miles ; its breadth at the widest part
is only six miles, which is narrowed in some places to two. Though
small in extent, the Hundred was of considerable importance in old times
as the seat of the great Abbey of Waltham, and the scene through which
kings and courtiers, issuing from the neighbouring hunting place of
Chigwell, were seen following the stag through the forest glades. In
monkish times, the forest lands hereabout had the reputation of being
a favourite promenade of visitors from the other world ; but the rule of the
dark vale and the wood was shared by beings of more substantial shape —
the Waltham Blacks, as they were designated, from the blacking their
faces, a sort of lawless community of Robin Hoods. The poet has thus
described a night scene in the locality : —

" Deep in the forest's dreary tracks,
Where ranged at large fierce Waltham Blacks,
There passengers with wild affright
(Shrunk from the horrors of the night ;
Where o'er the marsh false meteors beam,
And glowworms in the bushes gleam :
There, through the woods, o'er meadows dank,
The merry devils frisk and prank."

The muse, too, has added an anecdote of the kind of ghost that walked
the marsh, in the account of the escape of the Lady MilHsent from the
neighbouring nunnery : —

" Behold a maid still fearless rove.
Fair Millisent, the child of love •
From Cheston's dome she wanders darkling,
Arrayed in white, her eyebeams sparkling ;



52 HISTORY OF EASTERN ENGLAND.

Astound, the curate and mine host
Exclaim that they have seen a ghost !
Yet Munchensey does soon discover
She's mortal to her favoured lover."

The ghosts appear to have left the scene in disgust after the suppression
of the religious houses. The Hundred comprises only four parishes —
Waltham Holy Cross, Epping, Nazing, Chingford.

BECONTREE HUNDRED,

From the smallness of its extent, has sometimes been called a Half
Hundred, but is described as a Hundred in Domesday Book. For its
size, it is the most thickly -populated Hundred in the whole county. The
Hundred occupies the south-west corner of the county, between Havering
Liberty, Ongar, and Waltham Hundreds, and the Lea, and is bounded on
the south by the Thames. Its name is derived from an important beacon
— one of the telegraph posts of ancient times — which stood upon a hill
now occupied by a mill at Woodford ; and the district appears to have
long been, as now, a favourite suburban retreat of the London merchants.
The Hundred is the last in the county Londonward, and contains the
following nine parishes : — Barking, Dagenham, East Ham, West Ham,
Leyton, Little Ilford, Wan stead, Walthamstow, Woodford.

BARSTABLE HUNDRED

Is of a straggling character, a narrow strip of it extending across the high
road below Brentwood; and skirting Chelmsford Hundred, it runs 1 7 miles
up to that of Eochf ord, at Rayleigh and Hadleigh. From this point it extends
along the river up to Grays, and on the west it adjoins to Chafford. It
is pleasantly undulated, and the south and south-eastern parts command a
series of fine water-side views.

It contains the following thirty-three parishes : — Bemfleet South,
Bemfleet North, Bowers Gifibrd, Bulphan, Burstead Great and Billericay,
Little Burstead, Ohadwell, Curringham, Doddinghurst, Downham, Dunton,
Fobbing, Horndon East, Horndon West, Horndon-on-Hill, Hutton, Ingrave,
Laindon Hills, Laindon, Basildon, Mucking, Nevendon, Orsett, Pitsea,
Ramsden Grays, Rams, Bellhouse, Shenfield, Stanford-le-Hope, Thunders-
ley, Tlmrrock Little, Tilbury East, Tilbury West, Vange, Wickford.

At the furthest part of the Hundred, on the river side, is Little
Thurrock, adjacent to Grays ; and below it are the Tilburys, East and
West, originally forming one parish. At East Tilbury there was an
ancient ferry across the Thames, leading to the famous Roman road on
the opposite shore, known as Higham Causeway ; and this is believed to
have been the spot where the Emperor ClaudiuSj a.d. 45, crossed the river



A DESCKirXION OF ESSEX. 53

in pursuit of the Britons. West Tilbury lies just above it_, and this
locality was the site of one of the ancient cities of the land^ named
Tillabury, which, from its name, appears to have been a Roman station,
and from hence the Imperial rulers made a road to Billericay. Bede, in
the seventh century, mentions Tillabury as a place of importance, and
as one of the first storehouses from whence the riches of the Christian
religion were distributed over the land. A later historian says: " Certain
it is that here was, in the seventh century, a considerable town, though
now reduced to a poor village, for when Cedd, or St. Chad, came, and
again converted the Saxons to Christianity, and was consecrated bishop
of this diocese, he fixed one of his episcopal sees at Tillabury.'" This
Cedd flourished about 654, and we find little notice of Tillabury after that
date. Probably it was destroyed by the incursions of the Danes in the
succeeding ages. We do not find ithat any remains of its ancient
strength or dignity have been brought to light. That the parish,
however, long continued more populous than it is now may be inferred
from the fact that a free Chapel, said to have been founded in the time of
St. Thomas a Beckett, formerly stood a mile from the Church, on the very
spot in which the battlements of Tilbury Fort have been raised since.
This formidable fortress, which efiectually guards the passage of the
river, was originally erected by Henry VIII. as a block house. When the
country was menaced by the Spanish Armada, great efibrts were made
to get the fort into order, so as to repel the expected attack of the enemy.
Of this a full account is given, under the proper date, in our historical
narrative.

CHAEFORD HUNDRED

Is a long narrow strip of land, strangely intersected and intermixed, as if
marked out at random on the map, extending thirteen miles from Brent-
wood, in a southerly direction to the Thames at Grays. On the northern
point at South Weald, it is little more than two miles wide ; and at its
broadest part, from west to east, it is about seven.

The parish of Shenfield, belonging to Barstable, is thrust in between
it and Chelmsford Hundred ; and its boundary ends away to a sharp
narrow point by the side of Havering, where it touches upon Ongar
district. The name of the Hundred, like the parish of Chadwell, is
believed to have been derived from Bishop Cidd — or, as the vulgar pro-
nounce the name, Chad — the planter of Christianity in the district in the
early Saxon period. He was the second Bishop of London, being
appointed in 658, and he is stated by Bede to have been very active in
this district. So highly was the bishop venerated for the doctrine and



54 ftlSTORY OF EASTERN ENGLAND.

civilization he sowed,, that his name was placed in the list of Saxon saints.
It might, therefore, naturally be used to give distinction to the district ;
and with the addition of the ford through the Ingrebrun on the river to
Purfleet, in time gave name to the Hundred. Most of the land is good,
with rich marsh pasture towards the river. Indeed, there is arable land
in West Thurrock, which produces continuous heavy crops without
manure ; and nearly the whole tract on the level stretching from Purfleet
to Tilbury is of the same character. The northern part is thickly studded
with mansions and parks, abounding as it does with scenes of rich rural
beauty, and combining easy access to the Metropolis, with all the enjoy-
ments of country liEe. There is not a trace left of monastic ruins, nor a
remnant of baronial prison-walls, which remind us of the system and
sufferings of departed days.

The Hundred comprises the following fifteen parishes : — Aveley, Childer-
ditch, Cranham, Ockendon North, Ockendon South, Rainham, South Weald,
Brentwood, Stifford, Thurrock (Grays), Thurrock West, Upminster,
Warley (Great), Warley (Little), Wennington.

LIBERTY OF HAVERING-ATTE-BOWER.

This ancient Liberty, which is ruled by a high steward, deputy steward,
clerk of the peace, and a coroner, and has the singular privilege of
appointing its own magistrates by popular suffrage, is situate about twelve
miles from London. It is bounded by Becontree, Ongar, and Chafford
Hundreds, but extends to the Thames on the south, where it is less than
a mile in width. It is about four and a-half miles from east to west, and
extends about nine miles inland to the northward. Romford, with its
Town Hall, in which the quarter sessions and other courts are held, is now
virtually the capital, as it has been for ages past, though Homchurch was
the mother parish, this being originally an offshoot or chapelry. It has
been generally thought that in early times the high road passed through
Hornchurch, and so on by Upminster, Warley, and Hutton, to Ingatestone ;
but we are disposed to believe that the Romans carried their road from
London to Colchester very nearly along the present track, and that close
to this spot they fixed their station of Durolitum, mentioned by the
Itinerary. The tradition of the neighbourhood states this to have been at
Old Church, situate half -a-mile from Romford, on the green lane or Roman
road running from Great Hf ord to Hornchurch ; and this tradition is in
some degree confirmed by an old map of Romford of the date 1696, on
which about forty acres of land are variously described as " Ruin Meadow,^^
" Great Ruings," " Lower Ruings," and " Three Little Ruings," all being
near the Church. The whole of this peculiar district was in the earliest



A DESCRllTlOlSf OF ESSEX. 55

ages one manor under the king, and formed a part of Becontree Hundred ;
but as the palace at Havering gradually grew into greater importance^ and
became more frequently a place of royal resort, it was erected into a liberty,
with courts of its own to administer justice in ecclesiastical, civil, and
criminal matters, even to the inflicting of the punishment of death — the
object being to give greater security to the court, and dignity to the
officers who dwelt around it. This, however, being royal demesne, and
often the home of the Sovereign, there is reason to believe that privileges
were enjoyed and local powers were exercised not usual in a simple manor,
and which the charters afterwards granted did little more than consolidate
and confirm.

The Liberty comprises the three following parishes : — Romford,
Havering, Hornchurch.

THE TOWNS IN ESSEX.

These are generally of small size, situated near rivers or roads, or the
railways from London to Harwich eastward, or from London to Cambridge
northward. Along the Colchester line of railway there are stations at
Stratford, Ilford, for Barking, Brentwood, Ingatestone, Chelmsford,
Witham, Kelvedon, Marks Tey, for Sudbury, Colchester, Ardleigh,
Manningtree, and Harwich, all in the direction from west to east. We
now proceed to describe the towns in the above order, briefly noticing
their antiquities.

STEATPORD

Stands at the junction of the roads leading through the middle of Essex
eastward, and into Cambridgeshire northward. It is one of the wards of
West Ham parish in Essex, only three miles distant from London, and
has become a very important place, crowded with factories, chemical
works, and other trading establishments ; but foremost amongst these are
the extensive works of the Railway Company for the repair of their
engines, trucks, &c. These railway works cover an area of twenty acres
of land, the engine rooms alone occupying an acre. The continual
departure and arrival of trains causes a great bustle at the railway station
both day and night.

West Ham is the most thickly populated parish in Essex, doubling the
whole population of some of the smaller Hundreds in the county. Its
hamlets have grown into towns, and it has become a busy suburb of the
great Metropolis, which pours its redundant population into this part of
the county.

Stratford Abbey stood in marshes near a branch of the River Lea, and



56 HISTORY OF EASTERN ENGLAND.

was founded about the year 1134 by William de Moiitfitchet for brethren
of the Cistertian Order, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary and All Saints.
It was endowed mth the Manor of West Ham.

The village of Stratford, or Stratford Langthorn, may be regarded as a
prolongation of the suburbs of the Metropolis, being- joined to it by an
almost continuous line of buildings, constituting the village of Bow, or
Stratford-le-Bow, in Middlesex. A bridge was built over the Eiver Lea
at Bow, by Matilda, wife of Henry I. ; it was repaired by Queen Eleanor,
but was taken down thirty-six years ago, and a neat one of granite
erected in its place. The old bridge was so high in its centre that it
resembled a bent bow. Hence the name of the village, Stratford-le-Bow.

BARKING PARISH

Lies below East Ham upon a short sheltered creek of the Thames
formed by a debouchement of the River Roden. It has become a town,
recently much improved, with good houses and shops, and a population
of 5000, independent of its outlying wards, which form goodly villages
of themselves. The land around is chiefly devoted to the production of
vegetables for the London markets. Fishing is the chief business of
the inhabitants, about 200 smacks of from 40 to 60 tons each, carrying
ten men and boys, being engaged in this healthy employment in the
North Sea.

The parish was formerly divided into four wards, namely. Barking
Town, Bford, Ripple, and Chadwell, now divided into two parishes.
Barking and Ilford. Barking has figured conspicuously in our ancient
annals, chiefly in consequence of the noble Abbey that once graced it,
and said to have been the first convent for women in England. The
Abbey was founded about a.d. 670, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary
in the reigns of Sebbi and Segber, Kings of the East Saxons, by
Erkenbald, Bishop of London, in compliance with the earnest desire of
his sister Ethelburgh, who was appointed the first Abbess.

ILFORD

Is a ward and chapelry in the parish of Barking, seven miles by road
distant from London. It contains few places of note, being cliiefly
occupied by farmers and market gardeners. There is, however, in the
village, a paper mill, a house of correction, a chapel, and some alms
houses. Great Ilford is a town equalling the mother parish in population,
and has a handsome Church, built in 1831 at a cost of £3500. This
district includes Chadwell Ward ; Barking Side, where a new Church was
erected in 1840 at a cost of £3,000; and Alborough Hatch, where there



A DESCKIPTION OF ESSEX.



5?



is a Cliapel-of-Ease. Within its circuit there are many handsome
residences.

ROMFORD (ST. EDWARD THE CONFESSOR),

A market town and parish, and the head o£ a union, in the Liberty of
Havering-atte-Bower, south division of the County of Essex, seventeen
miles south-west from Chelmsford, and twelve east-north-east from
London. It is situated on the road from London to Norwich, and
consists chiefly of one long wide street, which is well paved and lighted
with gas. The houses are tolerably good, and the inhabitants are well
supplied with water. A brewery for ale and porter has been established
for nearly a century. The Eastern Counties Railway crosses the road near
the towm. Li ] 836, an Act was passed for making a railway from Romford
to Shellhaven, and for constructing a tide-dock at its termination. The
work is commonly called the Thames Haven Railway. The market, held
on Wednesday, was granted in 1247, and is the general market for all
kinds of agricultural produce, cattle, &c. ; there is also one on Tuesday
for calves ; and one for hogs was formerly held on Monday, but is now
discontinued. A fair takes place on Midsummer-day for horses and cattle,
and a statute fair for hiring servants on the market-days next before and
after September 29th. The parish, which mth the parishes of Hornchurch
and Havering constitutes " The Liberty of Havering'-atte-Bower," was
formerly considered one of the wards of Hornchurch ; but by an Act of
Parliament passed for the regulation of the poor in 1786, it is recognised
as a separate parish, although as regards ecclesiastical affairs it is still
partly dependent on Hornchurch. The earliest charter was granted by
Edward the Confessor, which has received several confirmations and
additions, and the government is vested in a high steward, deputy steward,
and justice, who are a corporation exercising magisterial authority, and
have a patent authorising them to hear and determine, every three weeks,
all actions for debts, trespasses, ejectments, and replevins, in a court of
ancient demesne. The tenants of the liberty claim exemption from toll
everywhere throughout the realm, both for goods and cattle sold, and
provisions purchased ; from payment towards the county expenses ; and
also a personal exemption from being empanelled on juries and inquests,
save within their own liberty ; with various other privileges.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Warden and
Fellows of New College, Oxford, to whom all the tithes were given by
William of Wykeham. The Church was erected in 1407, and consists of
a nave, north aisle, and chancel, with a tower at the west end ; in the east
window is the figure of the patron saint, in fine old painted glass, and
there are several ancient monumental tablets and eSigies, of which the



5S - HISTORY or EASTERN ENGLAND.

most remarkable are^ one to Sir Aiitliony Coke, Ambassador to Elizabeth,
who died in 1576, and was interred here; and two others to
the memory of George Hervey, Knight, and his daughter. The
edifice was re-pewed in 1841, and 680 additional sittings obtained, of
which 534 are free, in consideration of a grant of £500 from the
Incorporated Society. There are places of worship for Independents and
Wesleyans. A free school for children of both sexes was erected in
1728, and has been endowed with various benefactions amounting to
more than £1,300 ; it is further supported by subscription, and is on the
national plan. An almshouse was founded by Roger Reed in 1483 for
the support of five men and their wives, and re-built in 1784; the
value of the endowment is £422 10s. per annum. The new Union
Workhouse was erected at a cost of £10,000, and the Union comprises
ten parishes or places.

Here were anciently a guild and a chantry, the revenue of the former
of which was valued at the dissolution at £4 10s. 2d., and of the latter at
£13; also an hospital, a cell to that of Mount St. Bernard, in the Savoy,
London, founded at an early period, and dedicated to St. Nicholas and
St. Bernard. There is a mineral spring in the Park of Gridea Hall of
some repute among the poor. Francis Quarles, the poet, and author of
" The Divine Emblems,^' who was cupbearer to the Queen of Bohemia,
and afterwards secretary to Archbishop Usher, was a native of the place.
Many ancient mansions formerly stood in the neighbourhood, but most of
them were demolished and replaced by modern seats of the gentry.
These all lack the savour of historical interest.

BRENTWOOD,

Though only a hamlet of South Weald, is yet the principal town in the
Hundred, and may be regarded as the head of it. It is situated at the
extreme northern corner, about eighteen miles from London, on
picturesque high ground, and is surrounded by park lands, woods, and
commons, and pleasant alternations of hill and dale, with scenery as
fine as can be found anywhere in the county. The place was of some
note in very early ages. South Weald is stated to have been one of the
first inhabited spots in the Forest of Essex, and as it lay upon the old
Roman way, it was probably a halting station for the Lnperial legions on
their march ; possibly, at times, a point of more permanent occupation.
A few earthen vessels and other relics of that people have been dug up in
the neighbourhood. In later times, when the county had become Chris-
tianized, Brentwood was the halting-place of pilgrims to the shrine of St.
Thomas a Becket, whence a gate across the road to Ongar obtained the
name of Pilgrim's Hatch, which appellation the hamlet still retains. The



A DESCRIPTION OF ESSEX.



59



manor of Breiitwoocl_, or Costhall;, was given by William de Wockendon to
the Abbey of St. Osytli^ and to catch the offerings of the religious travel-
lers who took this direction to cross the river into Kent_, and partly to
accommodate their own tenants, the monks in 1221 built the little chapel
which, embrowned with the storms of 600 years, still stands in the main
street. It was dedicated to St. Thomas a Becket, and a priest was to
officiate there daily. After the cessation of pilgrimages and prayers for
the dead, the place continued to be used as a place of public worship by
the inhabitants of Brentwood; but in 1835 they had completely outgrown
it, and a neat new Church was erected on the south side of the town, at a
cost of £3,500, which was raised by subscription ; and the li\4ng is now
a perpetual curacy in the patronage of C. T. Tower, Esq.

Brentwood is generally thought to have been once the assize town ; and
the assize house, which still exists on the south side of the street, is pointed
to as a proof of its claim to this dignity. A trustworthy historian of the
last century thus adopts and confirms the tradition : —

" The assizes have been sometimes kept in this town, but the unreason-
able expense of obtaining that favour, the want of proper and sufficient
accommodation, and the distance of the place from the northern and
largest parts of the shire, have generally caused them to be fixed, as well
as the sessions, at Chelmsford.^^ Even in the last century, Brentwood
had its public races in rivalry of those at Chelmsford, a course being
formed on Warley Common ; and we find from a detail of the sports in
September, 1765, that they were kept up for two days, and plates of
£50 were run for. These have long been discontinued, and the memory



Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 70)