History of Burnham-on-Crouch

street view
High Street, Burnham-on-Crouch.
© Copyright John Myers contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

History of Burnham-on-Crouch >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

BURNHAM, a small town, and a creek under the port of Maldon, is celebrated for its valuable oyster fishery, and has a commodious quay on the north side of the river Crouch. where there is water enough for ninety-gun ship, opposite Wallasea Island.

It is distant 12 miles South East of Maldon; 8 miles North East by East of Rochford; 19 miles East South East of Chelmsford; and about 6 miles from the mouth of the river Crouch, which has some of the finest oyster beds in the kingdom, and is navigable for barges, etc., up to Battle Bridge, 12 miles above the town.

The parish of Burnham contains 1735 inhabitants and 4278 acres of land, and includes many scattered houses, and the village of OSTEND, which is situated near the church, more than a mile North of the town, and has a fair on the 12th of June. There are also fairs for toys and pedlery on April 25th and Sept. 20th and 21st, at Burnham, which consists principally of one good street, and had a grant for a weekly market on Tuesdays, in 1349, but it has long been obsolete.

The town has two good inns and several well-stocked shops; and at the quay much business is done in coal, fish, etc; and there is a ferry to the creeks bounding Wallasea, Foulness, and several smaller islands, where the inhabitants obtain their chief supplies from Burnham. At the quay is a jetty, 8O feet in length, belonging to Mr. J. Hawkins.

The oysters of the Crouch and its creeks are reckoned among the finest in England. A large portion of the river belongs to Lady Mildmay, and is let to the 0yster Company, consisting of Messrs. J.G. and J. Anger, L. Sweetting, J. Hawkins, and T. Rogers, who, after feeding the spat and young brood into small oysters, sell most of them to be fed till they are full grown on the layings on the Kentish coasts.

Here are also several other oyster merchants, and many boats and men are employed in the trade, as well as in catching soles, plaice, and other fish. Sixteen coasting vessels, of from 50 to 100 tons, are employed here, and some of them occasionally go foreign voyages.

The Belvedere is an observatory, 45 feet high, erected by the Oyster Company, and commanding extensive views.

Aluuart, a freeman, held the parish before the Conquest, but at the Norman Survey it was held by Ralph Baynard. The manor of Burnham-with-Mangapp passed to the Fitzgilbert and Fitzwalter families. The heiress of the latter married Sir Thomas Mildmay, and the manor passed to his son in 1629, but on his death it went again to the Fitzwalters, one of whom, dying without issue, left it in 1756 to Sir William Mildmay, Bart., of Moulsham Hall, near Chelmsford, from whom it has descended to its present proprietor.

Lady St. John Mildmay, who also owns East and West Wick estates, and the royalty of the river Crouch for a distance of eighteen miles. The Hall, an old cemented farm-house near the church, is still encompassed by a moat.

A small manor called Warners, or Holywell marsh, belongs to the Earl of Mornington, and extends, with Burnham marsh, eastward to the ocean, where there is a small promontory at the mouth of the Crouch, called Holywell Point, opposite Foulness point, on the south side of the estuary, nearly 6 miles East of the town.

J.G. Rebow, Esq., E.G. Wakefield, the Rev. T. Leigh, the Governors of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, the Trustees of Seven Oaks School in Kent, and several smaller owners, have estates in the parish, mostly copyhold.

The marshes here are as fine a grazing land as most in the county, and the soil in the upland parts of the parish is a fertile lightish loam, on a gravel bottom, under which is an iron "rag and plum pudding stone," got in pieces about 15 inches square, but breaking into powder when saturated with water. Under this stone are quicksands, through which springs blow up, and have to be carried off by drains in the improved lands.

church - exterior
St Mary's Church, Burnham-on-Crouch.
© Copyright Robert Edwards contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The CHURCH (Virgin Mary,) stands a mile north of the town, and is a neat Gothic structure of flint and stone, consisting of a nave, side aisles, chancel, and a square tower, in which are five bells. Its tower was formerly the loftiest in this hundred, and was used as a sea-mark, but being blown down many years ego, it was rebuilt with a less elevation. The altar-piece is a fine painting of the Last Supper, and the carved work of the pulpit and the font are well executed.

This church was appropriated by the grandson of Richard Fitzgilbert to Dunmow priory. The vicarage, valued in K.B. at £22.13s.4d., and in 1831 at £581, is in the patronage of Lady St. John Mildmay, and incumbency of her son, the Rev. C.A. St. John Mildmay, M.A., of Chelmsford, for whom the Rev. William Hammond, M.A., officiates. The glebe is about 30A., and the Vicarage House is a neat cemented building. The tithes are not commuted.

The Particular Baptists, Wesleyans, and Irvingates have each a small chapel here.

The poor of Burnham parish have £4.17s.l½d. yearly from William Ayletts Charity.

The POOR'S LAND, etc., were mostly given by Lord Fitzwalter in 1681, and partly by unknown donors. They comprise about 58A. in various parcels, mostly in this parish and partly in Cricksea and Goldhanger; several houses, etc, a wharf and quay, and a copyhold Oyster laying in the river near Burnham, 120 yards in length and breadth. The whole produces a yearly income of about £130, exclusive of a house occupied rent free by the master of the National School.

The income is applied as follows :- £45 to the master, and £28 to the mistress of the National Schools, £4 to the Sunday Schools; £5 in coals for the schoolmaster; and the remainder in repairs, coals and books for the schools, and occasional distributions of blankets, coals, etc., to the poor parishioners.

The Girl's School was built by the trustees about 1785, and the Boy's School was erected by subscription in 1815. They are attended by about 70 boys and 80 girls, and one of them is used for divine service on Sunday evenings.

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Burnham on Crouch - Cary's New and Correct English Atlas, 1798

Burnham on Crouch - First Series Ordnance Survey Map 1805

This work is based on data provided through www.VisionofBritain.org.uk and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth. Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence BY-SA-4.0

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Postcard of the Archor Hotel, Burnham-on-Crouch.

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