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canal cut for conveying water from the river to the monastery. The town
is situated near the River Blackwater, from which it rises gradually to a
considerable elevation, and consists of several narrow streets; it was
lighted with gas in 1837, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with
water from springs in the neighborhood. The manufacture of baize and
serge, formerly extensive, is now extinct ; the principal branch of trade
is silk weaving, which has been established about twenty-five years. In
1838, Mr. John Hall erected a silk-throwing mill capable of employing
500 persons. Messrs. Westmacott and Co. have 100 looms at work, weaving
broad silks and velvets ; and in 1826 Mr. Bankes commenced the tambour
work on lace net. An extensive iron foundry and steam flour mill have
been erected by Charles Newman, Esq. This place is noted for its
vegetables and garden seeds, which are abundant. The market is on
•Thursday ; the spacious market place contained an ancient cross, which
was taken down in 1787. A fair for cattle and pedlery is held on Whit

Coggeshall anciently comprised the parishes of Great and Little
Coggeshall, now consolidated ; in the latter, now only a hamlet, were two
churches, built by the monks — one for their own use, which has been
demolished ; and the other for a parochial church, of which the remains
have been converted into a barn. The parish comprises by computation
about 2,300 acres, 300 of which are woodland ; the soil is various, in some
parts a strong loam resting on a clay bottom, in others a stiff wet loam on
a whitish marl, and in the neighbourhood of the town a rich deep loam of
great fertility. The living is a vicarage, valued in the King's books at
£11 3s. 4.d. ; net income, £215; patron, Peter Du Cane, Esq., lord of the
manor; impropriators, Charles Ekingley, Esq., and Mrs. Cuswell. The
Church is a spacious, handsome structure, in the later English style, with
a large, square tower ; the aisles are embattled, and strengthened with
empanelled buttresses; the interior contains several ancient monuments,


There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Inde-
pendents, and Wesleyans. A school, under the direction of Pembroke
Hall, Cambridge, was founded in 1636 by Sir Robert Hitchman, Knt.,
who bequeathed land producing £300 per annum. There is a National
School for boys, and a Lancastrian School is supported by subscription.
There are six unendowed almshouses ; and among the charitable bequests
for the use of the poor is one now amounting to £58 per annum, given by
Thomas Paycocke, Esq., in 1580; and one of £20 per annum, the gift of
Sir Mark Guyon, Knt., which, with £15 per annum payable out of the
rectory of East Tilbury, is distributed in bread every Sunday.


A borough market town, having separate jurisdiction, and the head of a
union, locally in the Colchester division of the Hundred of Lexden, north
division of the county of Essex, twenty-two miles (north-east by east)
fi'om Chelmsford and fifty-one (north-east by east) from London. It was
called by the Britons Caer Colun, and appears to have been a town of
considerable importance prior to the invasion of the Romans, who, accord-
ing to Tacitus and other historians, having under the conduct of Claudius
subdued the Trinobantes and taken possession of this town, garrisoned it
with the 2nd, 9th, and 14th Legions, styled by him the conquerors of
Britain. The Roman name of the place is said to have been derived from
an altar dedicated to Mars, under the name of Camulus, by which also
that divinity is designated on some coins still extant of Cunobeline, king
of the Trinobantes, who, prior to the conquest by the Romans, had his
residence here. Claudius, having reduced the adjacent country to a Roman
province, appointed Plautius his proprgetor, and returned in triumph to
Rome. After his departure, Boadicea, queen of the Iceni, taking advan-
tage of the absence of part of the Roman legions, attacked Camulodunum,
which after a feeble resistance she entirely demolished. According to
Pliny, and the evidence of Roman coins and other ancient inscriptions, it
appears to have been soon re-built with increased splendour, and to have
been adorned with public edifices — a temple to Claudius, a triumphal arch,
and a statue to the Goddess of Victory. Constantino the Great is tra-
ditionally said to have been born in the city, which continued to flourish as
a principal station of the Romans till their final departure from Britain.
The Saxons, by whom it was afterwards occupied, gave it the name
of Colne-ceaster, and it retained its consequence as a place of strength
for a considerable time, but began to decline in proportion as London
rose in importance. On the irruption of the Danes, it became a
principal residence of that people, who by treaty with Alfred were
established in the city and county adjacent; but re-commencing their


barbarous system of plunder and devastation^ Edward tlie Elder in 921
took the town by assault^ and putting tliem all to tbe sword^ re-peopled
it witb West Saxons. According to tbe Saxon chronicles, he repaired the
walls in 922, at which time he is stated to have erected the Castle, now
falling into decay, but the remains of that edifice are evidently of Norman
character. Colchester was a considerable town at the time of the Norman,
survey, but suffered greatly in the wars of the succeeding reigns. During
the turbulent reign of John, Saher de Quincy, Earl of Winchester, having
assembled an army of foreigners, laid siege to the place in 1215 ; but on
the approach of the barons, who were advancing from London to its
relief, he drew off his forces and retired to Bury St. Edmund's. He
afterwards got possession of the town, and having plundered it, left a
garrison in the castle, which having been invested by the King, was
compelled to surrender. It was subsequently besieged and taken by the
troops of Prince Louis, whom the barons had invited into England to
their assistance, and who, thinking the opportunity favourable for conquest
kept possession of it for himself, and hoisted the banner of France upon
its walls ; but the barons having submitted to their new Sovereign, Henry
the Third retook the castle from the Prince, and expelled him from the
kingdom. In the reign of Edward III., the town contributed five ships
and 170 mariners towards the naval armament for the blockade of Calais.
The inhabitants, during the attempt to raise Lady Jane Grey to the throne,
stedfastly adhered to the interests of Mary, whose cause they supported
with so much zeal that, very soon after her accession, that Queen visited
the town for the express purpose of testifying her gratitude. Her Majesty
was received with every public demonstration of joy, and on her departure
was presented with a silver cup and £20 in gold. During her reign many
of the Protestant inhabitants were put to death on account of their
religious tenets. In 1648, the inhabitants, who had during the contest
between the King and the Parliament generally espoused the cause of the
latter, for whose support they had raised considerable supplies of money,
but, finding it necessary to restrain its inordinate power, formed an
alliance with the Royalists, who, being closely pressed by the Parlia-
mentarians, took up their station in the town, into which they were
admitted by the inhabitants by treaty. The town was soon afterwards
besieged by the Parliamentarian army under Fairfax, who had been joined
on his march by Colonel Whalley and Sir Thomas Honeywood with 2000
horse and foot, and after a close blockade for eleven weeks, during which
period it was gallantly defended by the Earl of Norwich, Lord Capel, Sir
Charles Lucas, and Sir George Lisle, the garrison, reduced to the extremity
of want and suffering, surrendered to Fairfax, when Sir Charles Lucas
and Sir George Lisle were shot under the Castle walls.


This is supposed to be a borough by prescription. It was first incorpo-
rated in 1189 by charter of Richard I., who conferred on the inhabitants
mauy valuable privileges, which were confirmed by succeeding sovereigns,
and extended by Henry V.; the charter, having been forfeited on Several
occasions, was renewed by George III. in 1818. The government was vested
in a Mayor, High Steward, Recorder, Chamberlain, twelve Aldermen,
eighteen Assistants, and eighteen common Councilmen, aided by a Town
Clerk, two Coroners, a Water Bailiff, four Sergeants-at-Mace, and other
officers. By the Act of the 5th and 6th of William TV., cap. 76, the Corpo-
ration now consists of a Mayor, six Aldermen, and eighteen Councillors ;
and the borough is divided into three wards, the Municipal and Parliamen-
tary boundaries being co-extensive. The Mayor for the time being, and
for the previous year, are justices by virtue of their office ; and there are
seven others. The borough first exercised the elective franchise in the
23rd of Edward I., since which time it has, with occasional intermissions,
returned two members to Parliament. The right of election was formerly
vested in the free burgesses generally, whose number was about 1400 j
but by the Act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, non-resident burgesses,
except within seven miles, have been disfranchised, and the privilege
extended to the £10 householders of the borough, the limits of which
comprise 11,055 acres. The voters formerly consisted of £10 householders
and freemen ; the Mayor is the returning ofiicer. The Recorder holds
quarterly courts of session for the borough and liberties, together extend-
ing over sixteen parishes ; and the Mayor and Recorder hold two courts
of pleas for the recovery of debts to any amount, the jurisdiction of
which was extended by Edward IV. to the. adjoining parishes of Bere-
Church, Greenstead, Lexden, and Myland. These courts are held at stated
periods : one, called the Law-Hundred, for actions against free burgesses,
is held on Monday ; and the other, called the Foreign Court, for actions
against strangers or non-freemen, is held on Thursday. The petty
sessions for this division of the county are also held in the town every
Saturday. The Moot Hall is an ancient edifice, originally erected by
Eudo Dapifer ; underneath is the town jail. The town is a polling-place
for the Northern Division of the County. Colchester, upon very dis-
puted authority, is supposed to have been the seat of a diocese in the
early period of Christianity in Britain. Henry VIII. made it the
seat of a sufii'agan bishop, and two bishops were successively consecrated.
The town comprises within the walls the twelve parishes of All Saints,
containing 24,000 inhabitants ; St. James', 1959 ; St. Martin, 994 ; St.
Mary-at-the-Walls, 1505; St. Kicholas', 1096; St. Peter, 2127; St.
Runwald, 320 ; the Holy Trinity, 875 ; St. Botolph, 6228 ; St. Giles',
2736 ; St. Leonard-on-the-Hythe, 1492 ; and St. Mary Magdalen, 473 ;


and four other parishes without the walls^ viz._, Lexden, Bere-Church,
Myland^ and Greenstead, which are considered as part of the town, but
are described under their respective heads. The living of All Saints is
a rectory not in charge, net income £291; patrons. Masters and Fellows of
Balliol College, Oxford ; the tithes have been commuted for a rent charge
of £35. The Church, erected in the year 1309, near the east gate of the
monastery of Grey Friars, which had been founded by Robert Fitzwalter
in that year, consists of a nave, north aisle, and chancel, with a handsome
tower of flint and stone; the south wall, though now covered with
cement, is of Roman bricks, laid in the herring-bone style. The
living of St. James is a discharged rectory, valued in the King's
books at £11 10s., and in the patronage of the Crown ; net income £98.
The Church is a spacious structure, built prior to the reign of Edwaid II.
It consists of a nave with north and south aisles and a chancel, with a
tower of Roman brick and stone, and has a fine altar-piece representing
the adoration of the shepherds. The living of St. Martin's is a discharged
rectory, valued in the King's books at £6 3s. 4d. ; net income £72. The
Church was much damaged during the siege of the town in 1648 ; it was
re-pewed in 1841, when fifty free sittings were added. The steeple, which
was built with Roman bricks, is in a ruinous state. The living of St.
Mary's-at-the-Wall is a rectory valued in the King's books at £10 ; net
income £212 ; patron. Bishop of London. The Church was re-built in
1713, with the exception of the ancient steeple, which, becoming ruinous,
was repaired m 1729. It contains some ancient monuments. The church-
yard is surrounded with avenues of lime-trees, and is much frequented as
a promenade. The living of St. Nicholas is a discharged rectory, valued
in the King's books at £10; net income £92; patrons. Masters and
Fellows of Balliol College, Oxford. The Church is ancient ; the tower
some years since fell down upon the nave and chancel, the latter of which
is still in a ruinous state. The Chapel of St. Helen in this parish, re-built
by Eude in 1076, was lately used as a place of worship by the Society of
Friends, and now for a Sunday School. The living of St. Peter's is a dis-
charged vicarage, valued in the King's books at £10; net income £285;
patrons, trustees of the late Rev. Charles Simeon. The Church, an ancient
structure, was erected before the conquest, and in Domesday-book is
noticed as the only church in Colchester. It was extensively repaired and
modernized in 1758, when the tower of the west end was erected, and was
some time since greatly beautified at a cost of £3,000. The altar-piece is
embellished with a fine painting (by Halls) of the raising of Jairus'
daughter. The living of St. Runwald's is a discharged rectory, valued
in the King's books at £7 13s. 4d.; net income £160; patron, Charles
Grey Round, Esq. The Church, which is small, was erected about the


close of the loth ceiitmy. It is partly of brick and partly of stone^ wnth
a wooden turret rising from the centre. The living X)i the parish of the
Holy Trinity is a discharged rectory^ valued in the Bang's books at
£6 los. 4d. ; net income £158; patrons^ Masters and Fellows of Balliol
College, Oxford. The Church was erected in the year 1349, and consists
of a nave, south aisle, and chancel, with a tower, but only a part of the
tower, the west door (now closed up) and a small portion about it, are
of early date ; but this small part is curious from its near approximation to
Koman work, being plastered over bricks, and also from its having a
straight-lined arch. The arch into the church is semi-circular, and of flat
tiling. It contains several ancient and interesting monuments, among
which is one to the memory of Dr. WilKam Gilbert, chief physician to
Queen Ehzabeth and James I., and author of many learned works. The
living of St. Botolph's is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the
Masters and Fellows of Balhol College, Oxford; net income £21. The
tithes have been commuted for a rent charge of £230 7s. A new Church
in the Norman style of architecture, lately built under the superintendence
of Mr. Mason, of Ipswich, at a cost, including the purchase of the site,
of above £7,000, the doorway and other portions of the western elevation
are taken from the Norman tower at Bury St. Edmund's. There are
1079 sittings, of which 815 are free, the Incorporated Society having
granted £1000 towards the expense. The old Church, which has been in
ruins since the siege in 1848, exhibits indications of its original magni-
ficence and of the antiquity of its style, which appears to have been the
early Norman, and of the same date as the neighbouring priory ; it was
built with bricks of extraordinary hardness, supposed to have been taken
from the lioman station. The living of St. Giles is a discharged rectory,
valued in the King's books at £30 ; patron and incumbent. Rev. John
Woodrooffe Morgan ; the tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of
£200 ; and the glebe comprises one acre and a-half, to which is attached
a good glebe house. The Church, a very ancient structure, which has
been repaired and enlarged, contains a monument to the memory of Sir
Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, who were shot by order of Fairfax,
under the walls, after the siege of the town. The living of St. Leonard's
is a discharged rectory, valued in the King's books at £10; net income,
£100; patrons. Masters and fellows of BalHol College, Oxford. The
Church is a spacious structure, in good preservation, and was formerly
remarkable for the exquisite carved work of the roof; which, having fallen
into decay, was removed. The living of St. Mary Magdalen is a rectory,
valued in the King's books at £11, and in the patronage of the Crown.
The small Church is pleasantly situated on Magdalen Green. On the site
of the Chapel of St. Anne, which stood in the parish of St. James, and


was formerly a hermitage^ a barn lias been erected^ part of the Chapel
having been incorporated with the building. There are two places of
worship for Baptists, two for Independents, and one each for the Society
of Friends and Wesleyans.

The Free Grammar School was founded and endowed by the Corporation,
to whom Queen Elizabeth, in the 26th year of her reign, granted several
ecclesiastical revenues for that purpose ; the income amounts to £181 10s.
Dr. Harsnet, Archbishop of York, received the rudiments of his education
in the school. Two schools for boys and girls were established in 1 708 ;
towards the purchase of the school-house, Mr. Samuel Rush, in 1711,
gave £100, and £50 were given for the same purpose by his widow. Mr.
William Huggs, in 1747, gave a freehold messuage and twenty-five acres
of land for the better maintenance of the school, to which fourteen other
benefactions have been added. The two national central schools are an
extension of the original plan of the charity school. There is another
national school in St. Peter's parish, a Lancastrian school is supported by
subscription, and there are schools supported by the several Dissenting
congregations. Mr. John Winnock founded, and in 1679 endowed, alms-
houses for twelve aged widows, with a rent-charge of £41, to which several
other benefactions were added subsequently, and with one of them, by
Mrs. Mary Barfield, four new houses were erected ; the income now
amounts to £235 13s. 8d. Mr. Arthur Wonsley, in 1726, founded and
endowed almshouses for twelve men, to which six others have since been
added. In 1791, Mr. John Kendall erected and endowed eight almshouses
for widows, whose husbands had died in Winsley's almshouses, or in
default of such, for other single women ; the small original endowment
having been considerably augmented, the annual income amounts to £166,
and eight additional houses have been erected. Four almshouses for aged
women were erected and endowed in 1552 with £6 6s. 8d. per annum by
Ralph Fynch, to which £5 per annum has been added by John Lyon, and
the interest of £262 10s. new 4 per cent, annuities by W. Godwin,
together with £1000 3 per cent, consols, for four additional houses ; the
income now amounts to £51 3s. 8d. The Essex and Colchester General
Hospital, completed in 1820, and supported by subscription, is a neat
building of white brick, situated on the south side of the London Road.
The Poor Law Union of Colchester comprises the twelve parishes within
and the four without the walls. Of the monastic establishments anciently
existing here, the hospital, originally founded at the command of Henry I.
for a master and leprous brethren, and dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen
by Eudo, who had been a principal officer of the household of William
the Conqueror, and his two sons William and Henry, and the revenue of
which at the dissolution was £11, was refounded in 1610 by James I. for


five poor brethren and a master^ who is always the clergyman of the
parish. The almshouses have been lately re-built^ and are tenanted by five
widows, who receive Is. per week each ; and the remainder of the income,
which is very considerable, is appropriated to the master's use. Of the
other ancient establishments, the principal was St. John's Abbey, founded
in the reign of Henry I. by the same Eudo for the monks of the Bene-
dictine order, the revenue of which was at the dissolution £523 17s. ; of
this only the gateway is remaining, a handsome structure in the later
English style, and, consequently, either re-built since the foundation of
the abbey, or a subsequent addition to it. To the south of the town was
a monastery of Augustine canons, founded in the reign of Henry L, and
dedicated to St. Julian and St. Botolph by Ernulphus, who afterwards
became prior; at the dissolution its revenue was £113 12s. 8d. ; the only
remains are its stately church, now in ruins, which was previously the
parish church of St. Botolph. Without the walls was an hospital, or
priory, of Crutched Friars, an order introduced into England about 1244,
the revenue of which at the dissolution was £7 7s. 8d. The priory of
Franciscan, or Grey Friars, was founded in 1309 by Robert Fitz-Walter,
the only probable remains of which is the parish church of All Saints.
Of the walls by which the borough was surrounded, and in consideration
of repairing which Richard H. is recorded to have exempted the burgesses
from sending members to three of his parliaments, considerable portions
still remain ; they were strengthened by bastions, and defended on the
west by an ancient fort of Roman construction, the remaining arches of
which are built with Roman bricks; and the north and west sides, where .
the town was most exposed, were protected by deep intrenchments. The
entrance to the town was by four principal gates and three posterns,
which have mostly been demolished. The ruins of the Castle occupy an
elevated site on the north side of High Street ; the form is quadrilateral,
and the walls of the keep, twelve feet in thickness, are almost entire ;
the building is of flint, stone, and Roman bricks intermixed, and is
supposed to have been originally erected by the Romans, though subse-
quently repaired by Edw^ard the Elder ; the solidity of the structure has
frustrated repeated attempts to demolish it for the sake of the materials.
The town and environs abound with relics of antiquity, among which is a
quantity of Roman bricks in several of the churches and other buildings ;
and tessellated pavements, sepulchral urns, statues, lamps, rings, coins,
medals, and almost every other species of Roman antiquities have been
discovered. William Gilbert, born in 1540, physician to Elizabeth and
James I., and author of a work on the qualities of the loadstone, entitled
" De Magnete," and other publications ; and Dr. Samuel Harsnet, Arch-
bishop of York, were natives of this place. The late Right Hon. Charles



Abbot, Speaker of the House of Commons (wliose father is rector of All
Saints),, was elevated to the peerage, June 3rd, 1817, by the title of
Baron Colchester, which is now enjoyed by his son.

The towTi is built on the summit and northern acchvity of an eminence
rising gently from the rive Colne, over which are three bridges, and
occupies a quadrilateral area inclosed by the ancient walls, within which
the houses to the south and south-east are irregularly disposed ; the
streets are spacious, and the High Street contains many excellent houses ;
the town is weU paved, and lighted with gas, and well suppHed with
water. The theatre, a neat and commodious edi&ce, erected in 1812, was
opened annually by the Norwich Company of comedians. A botanical
society was instituted in 1823 ; and there is a medical society, established
in ] 774. The barracks, with a park of artillery, was capable of accom-
modating 10,000 troops ; but since the conclusion of the war they have
been taken down. The woollen manufacture appears to have been carried
on so early as the reig-n of Edward III.; but the weaving of baizes, for
which it was afterwards distinguished, was probably introduced by the
Flemings in the reign of Elizabeth, and at that time employed a consider-
able number of the inhabitants. This manufacture was subject to certain
regulations prescribed by the Baize Hall ; but it has been transferred to
other towns. A large silk throwing mill was estabhshed in 1825, and
employs about three hundred hands ; there is a distillery, employing about

Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 70)