History of Chelmsford

Chelmsford © Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2005. http://www.francisfrith.com
New London Road, Chelmsford, 1892
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.

History of Chelmsford >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

Part 2. Part 1 << Part 3 >>.

Note: Because of the size of the entry, it has been edited.

SPRINGFIELD; the northern suburb of Chelmsford rises gradually from the banks of the Chelmer, and has many good houses [...] It had its name from its numerous springs [...].

It was divided into three manors, viz :- Springfield Hall with Dukes, Springfield Barnes, and Kewton or Cuton Hall. Part of the parish is in the neighbouring manor of New Hall.

The Rev. A. Pearson, M.A., the patron and incumbent of the rectory, is now lord of the manor of Springfield Hall with Dukes; but a great part of the parish belong's to Sir W.B. Proctor, Sir J.T. Tyrell, Lady Mildmay, T.H. Peacock, Esq., the heirs of the late C.G. Parker, Esq., of Springfield Place, John Seabrook, Esq., and several smaller owners.

Part of the parish is freehold, and the rest copyhold. The old manor houses are now occupied by farmers, and have been modernised.

Near to river, in Moulsham, stood a Black or Dominican Priory [...] At the Dissolution, this Priory was valued at £9.6s.5d. and granted to Anthony Bonvixi, but it soon afterwards passed to the Mildmays. Its site is still called the Friars; and the house which stood upon it, was taken down a few years ago.

In the early part of the 14th century, Thomas Langford, who compiled an Universal Chronicle, from the Creation to his own Times, besides other curious works, was a friar in this convent.

In a field called Long Stumps, between Moulsham Hall and Galleywood Common, there was anciently a Chapel, founded the monks of St.Osyth, and endowed with part of the great tithes. After the suppression, it was held by the Gernons, from whom it passed to the Mi1dmays. [...]

In the early part of the late war with France, two extensive ranges of Barracks, with accommodations for upwards of 4,000 troops, were erected here;- the largest near the west end of the town, and the other near the London road, on the site of the Union Workhouse; but both of them have been taken down more than twenty years.

At a short distance west of the latter, begins a line of Embankments, thrown up for defending the approach to the metropolis, in the early part of the present century, when Napoleon threatened to invade this country.

Where the wind mill stands, was a large Star Battery, mounted with 48 pounders, and commanding the roads to London, Colchester, Billericay, and Maldon. There were sometimes as many as eight thousand soldiers here, quartered in the barracks, the town, and the surrounding village.

Duke Street, Chelmsford © Copyright Footstepsphotos 2006. http://www.footstepsphotos.co.uk/index.html
Duke Street, Chelmsford
Low resolution copy courtesy of Footsteps' Shop on Ebay. Quality postcards of Essex.

The large building in Springfield, now occupied as the Police Office and the residence of the Chief Constable of the county, was erected as a magazine for military stores.

Many of the old inhabitants look with regret to the period when Chelmsford ceased to be a military station; and some of them consider that the Railway, has injured their trade by driving travellers and traffic over the town, instead of their coming as formerly, through the principal streets, by coaches, stage wagons, vans, etc.

Affording a more direct and expeditious communication with London, the railway has, no doubt, reduced the profits of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Company, who, in 1765, obtained an Act of Parliament, for making the river Chelmer navigable from Chelmsford to Maldon, where it falls into the Blackwater; but the undertaking was not commenced till 1793, when they obtained a new act.

The navigation was opened in 1797, and commences at the basin and wharfs in Springfield. In conformity with the original plan, the river was made navigable for barges of 30 tons, by making locks, cutting off the extreme points and ucute angles of the river, and regulating the channel to the width of 20 feet at the bottom, and 30 at the top.

The locks are 17 feet long, and 16 feet 1 inch wide at the gates. The first lock and cut extend the navigation to the great bend below Moulsham mill; and six other short cuts and numerous locks, occur between this and a cut of more than two miles, which carries the navigation through a larger lock into the estuary of the Blackwater, below Maldon, and about 11 miles East of Chelmsford in a direct line, but more than l5 miles by the circuitous windings of the navigation, which cost more than £50,000, though the original estimate was only £20,000.

R. Bartlett, Esq., is clerk to the company, and Mr. T. Bartlam superintendent of the navigation. The river Chelmer rises near Thaxted, about 20 miles North by West of Chelmsford, but is navigable only to this town, where it receives the Can, which is formed by many tributary streams from the south and west, and flows eastward in a sluggish winding course, through the low grounds skirting Chelmsford and Moulsham.

On January 17th, 1841, here was a great flood, and the water rose to the top of the arch of the new bridge, and to the window sills of an old house called the Friars, now taken down

Duke Street, Chelmsford © Copyright Footstepsphotos 2006. http://www.footstepsphotos.co.uk/index.html
Duke Street, Chelmsford
Low resolution copy courtesy of Footsteps' Shop on Ebay. Quality postcards of Essex.

The Market, held here every Friday, in Conduit square and High street, is an extensive mart for corn, cattle, poultry, vegetables, etc. The London poulterers attend, and often as many as 1,000 to 1,500 are sold. There is no covered market place, except the space under the Shire Hall, which is used as a corn exchange. Mr. S.W. Maryon is inspector of corn returns; and Christopher Smith, town crier.

Two annual fairs, for cattle, etc., are held May 12th and Nov. 12th; and here is likewise a large fat cattle show, about the middle of December, and a large wool fair, in the latter part of June. Annual races are held on Galleywood Common.

In the two parishes are several wind and water corn mills, and there is a large steam mill in the Townfields. Here are also several breweries, malt kilns, an iron foundry, and some large nurseries and market gardens; and much business is done at the wharfs, in coal, timber, etc.

Part 2. Part 1 << Part 3 >>.

Back to History of Chelmsford

Chelmsford from Springfield Hill
Chelmsford from Springfield Hill
print published 1834

my ancestors logo

My Ancestors.

Are your ancestors from Chelmsford? Why not tell us their story: My Chelmsford Ancestors.

Find your Ancestors in the Newspapers

Essex Standard Newspaper

Newspaper archives are now a very important source of information for researching your family tree.

Try our example search to help you discover if your ancestors are in the British Newspaper Archive.

Help me find my ancestors

Chelmsford - Cary's New and Correct English Atlas, 1798

Chelmsford - 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

Looking for an unusual Christmas Present?

Why not buy a DNA kit for a family member?

Let them discover the story of their ancestors.

The kit is delivered to their door. Now discounted to £63 on Ancestry

Learn more at Ancestry DNA.

Looking for pictures to add to your family tree album?

street view
Postcard of Duke Street, Chelmsford.

Ebay is a good source of old images of Essex towns and villages. If you're looking for pictures to add to your family tree album, then try one of the auctions, or there are several 'Buy It Now' shops offering postcards which have been touched up and improved - so if you're unsure about bidding, try these. Link already formatted for Essex Postcards. Browse through or type the name of the location in the Ebay search box.