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of them has almost departed. The town, however, has not decayed. It
is one of the few places which have drawn life and vigour from the
railway. The Crown Inn, which was a hostelry for 400 years, and was
for two centuries in the occupation of the family of Salmon, is now the
County Bank; but another very ancient inn, the White Hart, which for
some ages has kept its hospitable door open for the traveller, still
flourishes. The old houses have been much improved ; new villas have
sprung up around, almshouses, industrial schools, and asylums of city
companies have been built in the vicinity ; and the town bears about it
the appearance of prosperity, and the signs of further extension.

The Grammar School which stands at the entrance of the town, on the
road leading to Ingrave, was founded by Sir Anthony Browne, who ob-
tained the property of the Abbey here after the suppression, he having
procured a royal license for the purpose in 1557. The master was to be
a priest, nominated by him and his heirs. Two guardians of lands and
possessions, inhabitants of South Weald, were to be put in and out at the
discretion of the patron ; and the body was to be a perpetual corporation^


witli a common seal. It was endowed witli the tithes of Dagenham and
Chigwell Grange. By a decree in Chancery in 1570^ the Bishop of Lon-
don and the Dean of St. Paul's were made visitors ; and in 1622 the
institutions of the school, which had been drawn up in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth^ were published by authority. It was to be open to all boys of
the parish, or any other parish within three miles of the school-house, and
they were to be taught " Grammar learning gratis." The value of the
tithes of Dagenham in the last century was stated to be £400 a-year,
and Chigwell Grange was set down at £80 ; but by the increase in the
value of property, the first now yields more than £1000, and the other
£330. When the Charity Commissioners made their inquiry they found
the benefits of the school fell far short of the requirements of the district
and the capabilities of the endowment. At their instance an attempt was
made to shake off the cobwebs which had been woven around the insti-
tution and crippled its usefulness. A long course of litigation followed,
spreading over more than twenty years ; decrees, appeals, and fresh suits
protracted the case, till at last in 1848 it was found necessary to resort to
an Act of Parliament to give effect to a new scheme of the Court of
Chancery to vary and extend the trusts, enlarge the charitable uses, and
regulate the property of the institution. By this, new life has been
given to the whole. C. T. Tower, Esq., as lord of the manor and owner
of the property, which belonged to Sir Anthony, continues the patron,
but the affairs of the trust are administered by wardens, selected from
gentlemen of the district.

The Church is a fine ancient building, its stone tower rising above the
trees on the hill top — a sacred landmark to the country around. Entering
the yard by a hch or corpse gate of the fifteenth century, we approach
the Church, which is well calculated to arrest the attention of the anti-
quarian. The tower was built in the reign of Henry YII., but the other
parts of the edifice are of more ancient date. The early English pillars,
which divide the chancel and nave, north chapel and aisle, rest on Norman
foundations. The building contains several elegant monuments, one to
Hugh Smith, Esq., a former lord of the manor; another to the Neave
family ; and in the centre of the chancel stands the tomb of Sir Anthony
Browne, of delicate workmanship, the top covered with a black marble
slab, but the figures are much mutilated, and most of the brasses, which
contained shields and a legend, are gone. At the feet of the figures is
the following inscription in Latin : —

Sir Anthony Browne, Knight,
Justice of the Queen's Bench.
He died May 16th, 1567, aged 57.
And Johanna his Avifc.


Tlie County Lunatic Asylum. To the soutli of Brentwood, on tlie brow
of a liill, finely adapted for the purpose, stands the County Lunatic
Asylum. A building as noble in its object as in its architecture. The
first stone of the building was laid by C. G. Eound, Esq., on the 2nd of
October, 1851, and it was opened for the reception of patients on the
23rd of September, 1853. The style of the building is mediasval of the
Tudor period. The total cost of the asylum was £89,557. It is capable
of containing between four and five hundred patients The staff consists
of a doctor, medical superintendent, a chaplain, a medical assistant and
dispenser, a steward and clerk, with twenty-seven male and twenty-six
female attendants and servants.


Is an ancient place, but it has fallen on evil days. The Market-place is
partly enclosed ; the cattle market has entirely disappeared, and a formerly
flourishing town is now a small village. The parish Church is in the
perpendicular style of the fifteenth century, and it contains many monu-
ments to the Petre family, who once resided in the neighbourhood. Near
the railway station are the park and plantations of the Hyde, the seat of
Edgar Disney, Esq. The mansion, which is quadrangular, of red and
black brick, was built in its modern style by Timothy Brand, Esq., in
1713, and it contained many curious remains of past times.


A market town and parish, and the head of a union in the hundred of
Chelmsford, south division of the county of Essex, of which it is the chief
town, twenty-nine miles (north-east by east) from London on the road to
Yarmouth, containing, with Moulsham, 6789 inhabitants. In the reign of
Edward the Confessor, and at the time of the Norman survey, it was in
the possession of the Bishops of London ; and two buildings, still called
Bishop's Hall and Bishop's Mill, seem to indicate its having been either
permanently or occasionally their residence. In other respects it was an
inconsiderable place till the reign of Henry I., when Maurice, Bishop of
London, built a stone bridge of three arches over the river Cam; and
diverting the road, which previously passed through Writtle, made
Chelmsford the great thoroughfare to the eastern parts of the county, and
to Suffolk and Norfolk. From this period the town increased in im-
portance ; and its trade so much improved, that in the reign of Edward
III. it sent four representatives to a grand council at Westminster. A
Convent for Black or Dominican Friars was established at an early period,
the foundation of which has been erroneously atttributed to Malcolm,
King of Scotland; its revenue at the dissolution was £9 6s. 5d. In


this convent^ of which only the site is visible, Thomas Landford, a friar^
compiled a universal chronicle,, from the creation to his own time. During
the war with France, two extensive ranges of barracks for 4000 men were
erected near the town, both of which have been taken down ; and at a
short distance from it, a Hne of embankments, defended by star batteries,
of which some traces are still remaining, was raised to protect the ap-
proaches to the metropolis from the eastern coast. The town, which is
surrounded by interesting scenery, is well paved and lighted, with gas ;
the houses are in general modern and well built, and the inhabitants are
amply supphed with water.

Considerable improvements have been made of late years in the appear-
ance of the town and neighbourhood ; a handsome iron bridge has been
erected over the Chelmer ; and more recently a road has been formed,
commencing at the twenty-eighth milestone on the London road, and after
^crossing the Kiver Cam, by an elegant iron bridge (about 100 yards from
the stone bridge erected in 1787, and connecting Chelmsford with the
hamlet of Moulsham), enters the town about the centre of the High Street.
An elegant building, called the Institute, has been built for the delivery
of lectures, for concerts and public meetings ; and near the Eastern
Counties Eailway, which passes a little to the west of the town, numerous
villas have been erected. Eaces, which continued for two days, were held in
August, on Galleywood Common, about two miles from the town, where
there is an excellent two-mile course. The trade consists principally of
corn, which is sent to London, and in the traffic arising from the situation
of the town as a great public thoroughfare ; there are several large corn
mills on the banks of the Chelmer. A navigable canal to the River Black-
water, twelve miles distant, was constructed in 1796. The market is held
on Friday, for corn, cattle, and provisions ; fairs are held on May the 12th
and November the 12th. The town is within the jurisdiction of the
county magistrates, who hold petty sessions for the division every Tuesday
and Friday ; and constables and other officers are appointed at the court
leet of the lord of the manor, who also holds a court baron occasionally.
The assizes and sessions for the county, and the election of Knights for
the Southern Division of the Shire, are held here. The Shirehall is an
elegant and commodious structure, fronted with Portland stone, and having
a rustic basement, from which rise four handsome pillars of the Ionic
order, supporting a triangular pediment : the upper part of the front is
ornamented with appropriate figures, in basso-relievo, of wisdom, justice,
and mercy : in the lower part is an area for the Corn Market. The old
County Gaol, completed in 1777 at an expense of upwards of £18,000,
S a spacious and handsome stone building, in the hamlet of Moulsham ; it
is appropriated exclusively to the reception of persons confined for debt.


and to prisoners committed for trial. Adjoining the gaol and incorporated
witli it, is the House of Correction, used for convicted female prisoners.
It. was built in 1806 at an expense of £7500. The new Convict Gaol at
Springfield Hill, on the road to Colchester, is a very extensive and well-
arranged building of brick ornamented with stone, begun in October,
1822, and completed in 1825, at an expense of £55,739 17s. Ofd., and
capable of containing 254 prisoners, of whom 218 may be confined in
separate cells. A building has lately been erected for the reception of

The parish comprises 2348 acres, of which the soil is generally a deep
rich loam, occasionally intermixed with gravel, and producing fair average
crops. The living is a rectory, valued in theKing^s books at £31 2s. 6d.;
it is in the patronage of Lady John Mildmay. The tithes have been
commuted for a rent-charge of £500, and the glebe contains 15| acres,
valued at £25 per annum, to which there is a glebe house. The body of
the Church has been re-built, at the cost of £15,000, the former having
fallen down in 1800 from the unskilfulness of some workmen, who in
digging a vault undermined two of the principal pillars. It is a stately
structure of the later English style, with a square embattled tower,
crowned with pinnacles, and surmounted with a lofty spire. A Chapel-of-
Ease, in a modern style of architecture, has been erected in the hamlet of
Moulsham, on a site given by Lady Mildmay, and was consecrated in
1839. There are places of worship for Independents, Baptists, Irvingites,
the Society of Friends, and Wesleyans ; there is also a Eoman Catholic
Chapel at Newhall. The Free Grammar School was founded and
endowed in 1551 by Edward VI. ; the income is about £488. In common
with those of Maldon and Brentwood, it has an exhibition of £6 per
annum to Caius College, Cambridge. The school-house was re-built by E.
Benyon, Esq., in 1782, on the site of a more ancient one erected by Sir
John Tyrrell, Bart. Pliilemon Holland, translator of Camden's Britannia,
and a native of Chelmsford ; John Dee, the celebrated mathematician ;
Sir Walter Mildmay, Bart., founder of Emmanuel College, Cambridge ;
and Dr. Plume, Archbishop of Eochester, received the rudiments of their
education in the establishment. A school for the maintenance and instruc-
tion of boys, founded in 1713, and a school for girls, founded in 1714, are
supported by endowment and subscription. A school on the national
plan for boys, girls, and infants was erected by subscription in 1841, and
there is a Lancastrian school. Six alms-houses in the hamlet of Mouls-
ham, founded by Sir Thomas and Lady Mildmay in 1565, were re-built
by William Mildmay, Esq., in 1758; four in Baddow-lane, erected by the
sale of a barn given by William Davis in 1520 for the use of the poor,
have also been re-built, and two tenements added at the expense of the


parish. Chelmsford Poor Law Uuion coroprises thirty-one parishes or
places^ and coj:itains a population of 30,603. The inlaabitants of an island
in the river have from time immemorial practised the form of electing a
representative in Parliament, which takes place either on a dissolution of
Parliament or the vacation of a member for the countv.

The capital of the Hundred, owes its origin as a town to the precautions
taken to guard against the incursions which the Danes were accustomed
to make from the creeks and marshes of Dengre. The ancient Britons, it
is clear, encamped in the pleasant spots of the forest hereabouts. Cinerary
urns of that people, 2000 years old, have been dug up recently in the
fields. The old Saxon chronicle states that in 913, "in the summer,
betwixt gong day (Ascension) and ]\Iidsummer, King Edward came with
some of his forces into Essex to Meldunes, and abode there while men
worked and built a town at Witham. And a good deal of the folks
submitted to him that were before under the dominion of the Danes." This,
however, has little to do with the modern town of Witham, which in the
course of time grew up near the highway. In 1380 it had attained so
much importance that the Prior of St. John, as lord of the manor,
obtained a license to hold a market. From this time the hamlet gradually
drew off the trade of the little town. Hostelries arose to accommodate
the passing traffic ; houses were erected in the quaint style of the age
with their gables to the street, and the old town at Chipping Hill was

A great change appears to have come over the character of the houses
in the last centuiy (1737) by the discovery of a mineral spring, which was
represented by Dr. Taverner to be of surpassmg power in the cure of - a
variety of diseases ; and speculators built a pump-room, and reared
lodging-houses for the crowds of patients who were expected to come for
relief, but the whole scheme failed. Witham is now a clean and handsome
coxmtry town, with some pleasant walks and picturesque scenes around it,
including a stately avenue of limes leading from the town to Chipping
Hill. There is a branch line from this place to Braintree.


A market town and parish, and the head of a union in the Hundred of
Hinckford, North Di\'ision of the county of Essex, eleven miles (north
by east) from Chelmsford, and forty (north-east) from London. This
place is described in Domesday Book under the head of " Raines,"
including also the village of " Raine," to which it was at that time a
liamlet, and from which it was separated in the reign of Henry II,


In consequence of its situation, on the road leading from London
into the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk, it is supposed to have
derived considerable benefit from the numerous pilgrims who passed
through it on their way to the shrines of St. Edmund at Bury,
and Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk, and the population having
consequently increased, it was made a market town early in the reign of
King John.

Li the early part of the reign of Elizabeth, the Flemings, fleeing
from the persecution of the Duke of Alva, settled at Braintree, and
introduced the manufacture of woollen cloth ; but it appears that that
manufacture had existed long before, and was extensive as early as 1389,
it being noticed in an Act of Parliament intituled " The clothes of certain
counties packed and folded shall not be put to sale before they be opened.^'
The town is pleasantly situated on an eminence, and consists of several
streets irregularly formed and inconveniently narrow; the houses in
the central part of the present town, now the only remaining portion of
the old town, are in general ancient, and many of them are built of wood ;
but in the principal street, which is the grand thoroughfare, are many
well-built modern houses.

The woollen trade has given place to the manufacture of silk, which
has been introduced into this neighbourhood within the last 50 years,
and in its various branches now affords general employment to a rapidly-
increasing population. In 1810, Messrs. Wilson and Courtauld erected
on the little river Pant the first silk-throwing mill, in which from 300
to 400 persons, chiefly young women and children, are employed. Silk
weaving in its general branches was subsequently introduced into this
and the neighbouring towns. The manufacture of silk crape has more
recently been established ; in this branch about 1 ,400 workpeople are
employed by the Messrs. Courtauld in the toT^nis of Braintree, Booking,
and Halstead, in machine making, spinning, weaving, dyeing, and
crape finishing.

The total number of persons employed in the silk trade in these three
towns, in 1838, was about 2,210, of which about 660 were crape weavers
in hand and power looms, 450 silk weavers in other branches, and 1,110
factory hands. Straw platting has also been lately introduced, and
affords employment to a considerable number of females. The market,
which is equal to any in the county, is on Wednesday. The fairs take
place on the 7th of May and October 2nd, each lasting for three days ;
the latter is a great mart for cattle and hops. The Government was
formerly vested in twenty-four of the principal parishioners, anciently
called " headboroughs,^^ but in 1584 styled "governors of the town,
and town magistrates ;" this body has, however, long been dissolved. The


county magistrates now hold a petty session here for the division on
alternate Wednesdays.

Braintree is the place for nominating and returning two knights for
the Northern Division of the Shire.

The parish comprises 2,249a. Ir. 19p. The living is a discharged
vicarage, valued in the King^s books at £12 3s. 4d. ; present net income
£212. It is in the patronage of Lady Stewart; impropriator. Earl of
Winchelsea. The present Church of Braintree, as appears by the will
of John de Naylinghurst, an inhabitant, in which he gave two bullocks
towards the work, was built about 1349, in the reign of Edward III. ;
the ancient edifice having fallen into decay, and being inconvenient for
the new town which was growing up, large additions have since been
made to it, as appears by the variations of style ; and we find that in
the reign of Henry VIII. plays were acted in the sacred edifice, as was
common in those days, in order to swell the fund for the erection of the
south aisle. The Church is altogether an interesting specimen of the
architecture of other days, but it is more interesting from its name
having become in our times famous throughout the county, and a text
word in the law books of the land. For more than twenty years, from
1836, when the first vestry meeting on the subject was held within its
walls, down to 1853, when final judgment was given in the House of
Lords, Churchmen and Dissenters were fighting the battle of Church-rates
over its half-prostrate pillars, its mouldering aisles, and dilapidated roof ;
and when at length the struggle ended, and it was broadly decided that a
rate for its repair could not be levied without the consent of the majority
in vestry, the sacred pile was left in a state of ruin. Thus it lay for a
time, to the great discomfort of the worshippers ; but within the last
few years, by means of a subscription raised by the vicar and a committee,
the nave has been new roofed, the north aisle renovated, the tower and
spire repaired and restored, at a cost of £1,670. The trustees of the
Felstead charities, who receive the great tithes, have, too, voted £240
for an arched roof and a new east window for the chancel ; so that the
parochial temple begins to stand forth in renewed strength and its ancient
beauty ; but to complete the work on the north and south side, and in
the north and south chancel aisles, and to re-construct and fit up the
interior, requires a further sum of £2,500.

Most of the monuments in the Church are of comparatively modern
date. Against the chancel above the altar-tomb, enclosed in a grating, is
the following inscription on a brass plate : —

" This grate was ordered to be set up by the last will and testament of
Samuel Collins, late Dr. of physick, eldest son to Mr. Samuel Collins,
hereunder buried, who. served about nine years as principal physician to


tlie great Czar^ Emperor of Eussia, and after his return from thence
taking a journey into France, died at Paris, October 26th, 1670, being the
51st year of his age,"

There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends,
Independents, and Methodists. An ancient Grammar School, in which the
eminent naturalist, John Ray, received his education, is supported partly
by an endowment of land, now let for £18 a year, bequeathed by J. Coker,
Esq., partly by an annuity of £45 left by the Rev. James Burgess, and
partly by voluntary contributions. In the reign of Charles I., Henry
Smith, alderman of London, who, from the habit of going about like a
beggar accompanied by his dog, obtained the name of " Dog Smith,"
bequeathed £2,800 to the poor of tliis, and thirteen other parishes. There-
are many other charities in the town, yielding altogether nearly £200 per
annum. The poor law union of Braintree comprises fourteen parishes or
places, under the care of twenty -two guardians. The Workhouse, erected
at a cost of £6342, will contain 300 inmates. About half a mile distant
some years ago might be seen the ruins of a very ancient Church, founded
before the conquest, and formerly the parish church. The site of a Roman
camp (now called the Cherry Orchard) is pointed out, and many
sepulchral coins, fragments of Roman pottery, and Roman coins, have
been found, besides three British gold coins, supposed to be those
of Boadicea; one gentleman in the course of a few years has col-
lected coins of twenty-three Emperors and one Empress, from Agrippa,
A.D. 37 to Honorius, A.D. 395; and there are several other collections.
This was the scene of the martyrdom of Richard Piggott, in the reign of
Mary. Samuel Dale, M.D., editor of the " History and Antiquities of
Harwich," resided here, and assisted Mr. Ray in collecting rare plants in
Essex; he was also the author of a " Pharmacologia," which passed
through three editions in his lifetime, and has since been several times
re -printed.

The Rev. Mr. ChalHs, Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge, is a native
of this place.


A market town and parish in the union of Witham, Witham Division
of the Hundred of Lexden, north division of the county of Essex, three
miles (north) from Kelvedon, and forty-four (north-east) from London.
This place is within the Duchy of Lancaster; it is supposed by some
antiquaries to have been the Roman station Ad Ansam, and by others the
Canonium of Antoninus, with the distance of which latter from Ceesaro-
magus its situation precisely corresponds. Numerous vestiges of Roman
antiquity have been discovered. The present town appears to have risen


from the establishment of an abbey in 1142 by King Stephen and his
Queen Matilda, for monks of the Cistercian order, and dedicated to the
Blessed Virgin, to the abbot and monks of which King John granted
several privileges, among which was probably the power of life and death,
as is inferred from the ancient name of one of the streets, which is still
by some called Gallows Street. Henry III. granted them free warren, a
weekly market, and an annual fair for eight days. The revenue of the
abbey at the dissolution was £298 8s. ; the remains, which exhibit speci-
mens of early English architecture, are now occupied as a farm-house ; the
exterior has some lancet-shaped windows in good preservation, and in the
interior are some good windows and vaulted and groined roofs. Near the
abbey is an ancient bridge of three arches, built by King Stephen, over a

Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 70)