History of Birdbrook
St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, Birdbrook
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History of Birdbrook >> White's Directory 1848
White's Directory of Essex 1848
BIRDBROOK, a pleasant village, on the bold eminence, near the chief source of the rive Colne, 10 miles North West of Halstead, and 4 miles South East of Haverhill.
In its parish are 557 inhabitants, and 2330 acres of land, including the small village of BAYTHORN END, on the high road, and on the south bank of the Stour, 2 miles North East of the church, and 3 miles from Haverhill and Clare.
It has several neat mansions and scattered farm houses, and the soil is generally a strong wet loam, and partly a deep sandy loam. The surface is well wooded, and picturesquely broken into hill and dale, and the views from some of the summits are extremely beautiful.
The executors of the late Sir W. B. Rush are lords of the manor, but the greater part of the soil belongs to J. P. Elwes, King Viall, A. Fitch, W. Gibbons, G. W. Gent, F. Bailey, and H. Gurney, Esqrs., and a few smaller owners.
Baythorn Hall, an old mansion near the Swan, is the property of King Viall, Esq., who also owns the larger and more elegant mansion of Baythorn Park, which has extensive grounds, and stands on a bold acclivity above the river Stour, but is now unoccupied. The latter was built in 1668 by George Pyke, whose father purchased the estate in 1640, and whose descendant, of the same name, took down the gate and court walls in 1801, and new-fronted, sashed, and greatly improved the house.
The park was formerly stocked with deer and has some fine large trees, especially several large oak pollards. A clump of alders in the hall gardens are much admired, each being about seven feet in girth, at the height of five feet from the ground.
Several of the farm houses in this parish are fine old mansions, and that on the Moat farm is encompassed by a moat. That called Herksted Hall, now belonging to G. W. Gent Esq., was the seat of the Walfords, who purchased the Whitley estate in 1657, and greatly improved and beautified the pleasure grounds and gardens.
Human bones have been dug up on Chadwell and Honex farms, and in other parts of the parish, and with them several Roman urns were found.
The Church (St. Augustine,) is a small ancient structure, without aisles, but having a tower, containing three bells, and crowned by a small wooden spire. It was thoroughly repaired in 1793 and the two following years. The handsome font, and the fine painting of Jesus baptised of John in the river Jordan, were given by the late T. Walford, Esq.
The rectory, valued in K. B. at £19, and in 1831 at £500, is in the patronage of Clare Hall, Cambridge, and incumbency of the Rev. Jph. Cape, M.A., who has a good residence, and 89A. 2R. 22P. of glebe. The tithes were commuted in 1843 for £600 per annum.
As noticed with Finchingfield, this parish is entitled every fifth year to the rent of Messings Farm, left by Ann Cole, in 1730, and now let for £54 per annum. The rent received by Birdbrook parish is applied in schooling poor children.
Martha Blewit, who died in 1681, had nine husbands.
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