History of Danbury

Danbury, the Village, looking west 1903, Essex.  (Neg. 50235)  © Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2005. http://www.francisfrith.com
Danbury, the Village, looking west 1903
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.

History of Danbury >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

DANBURY is a pleasant village commanding extensive prospects, and seated on the highest hill in Essex, about 4½ miles East by South of Chelmsford, and 5 miles West by South of Maldon.

It is admirably adapted to the purpose of a military station, and from the remains of ancient works of that nature, it is evident that its natural advantages have been improved by art. An alarm beacon, formerly stood on the site of the parsonage house; and upon the edge of the glacis, south-east of the church, was a watch-house.

The lines of the ancient encampment encompass an area of about 680 yards in circuit, and the glacis on the north-side, is nearly 30 feet deep. The name plainly indicates that it has been a castle or town of the Danes, and the remains of the camp, at an elevation of more then 700 feet, shew that it was one of their strong holds.

The parish contains about 3,670 acres, and 1,189 inhabitants, of whom 313 are in RUNSELL hamlet, which is a mile east of the church, in Dengie Hundred; and 180 are in BICKNACRE hamlet, which is nearly 2 miles South of the village, and is partly in Woodham Ferrers, as noticed, with its priory, in that parish.

Danbury has two fairs on Shrove Tuesday, and May 29th, chiefly for pleasure.

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

Sir B. W. Bridges. Bart., is lord of the manors of Danbury and Runsell, which comprise 2,964A. 2R. 4P. of land, of which 166A. is open common, and 56A. woodland.

A great part of the soil belongs to various owners, the largest of whom are, J. R. S. Philips, Esq., of Riffhams, a handsome mansion, with sylvan grounds, on the north side of the parish; and the Bishop of Rochester, for whose residence, Danbury Place, now called Danbury Palace, has recently been purchased by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with a large estate surrounding it, at the cost of £24,700.

The Bishop's residence was formerly at Bromley, in Kent, which is not now within his diocese. The episcopal estate extends into Sandon parish, and the mansion is an extensive and elegant building, in the Tudor style, with turrets, pinnacles, and ornamental chimneys. It is surrounded by a well-wooded lawn and pleasure grounds, and was built about twelve years ago, by the late owner, John Round, Esq., now of Brighton.

It occupies the site of a mansion which was built by Sir Walter Mildmay, Kt., who died in 1589. During most of the last century, it was a seat of the Ffytche family.

At the Domesday survey, Geofrey de Mandeville held most of the parish, and it afterwards passed to the St. Clere, Heyron, De Vere, De Grey, Darcy, Parr, Bohun, and other families.

church - exterior
St John the Baptist Church, Danbury.
© Copyright Glyn Baker contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Danbury Church (St. John the Baptist,) stands on the summit of a hill, within the area of encampment. At the west end it has a stone tower, containing five bells, and crowned by a lofty wooden spire, which is used as a sea mark.

Owing to its exposed situation, it has suffered much from storms and tempests. In 1402, the nave and aisles, and part of the chancel were destroyed; and in 1750, about 20 feet of the spire was burnt by lightning.

The north aisle was rebuilt in 1776, and the whole fabric has recently been thoroughly repaired and beautified. The chancel has been newly fitted up with richly carved benches and stalls, and one of the latter is appropriated to the Bishop. A beautiful stone altar-screen has also been erected, in four compartments, with finely crocketted pinnacles.

The ancient piscina, and part of the sedilia remain. The chancel is mostly in the decorated style of the 14th century, and formerly had four chantries, - three of them founded by the Darcy family. Under arches, in the wall of the north aisle, are the effigies of two crossed legged Knights, curiously carved in wood, and supposed to represent two crusaders of the St, Clere family.

In 1779, when digging a grave under one of these arches, a leaden coffin was found only 36 inches below the pavement, and within it was an elm coffin, in which was a body of a man preserved in a pickle or aromatic liquor, partaking of the flavour of catchup and Spanish olives. The body was tolerably perfect, the flesh white and firm, and covered with a shirt of fine linen cloth, with some rude antique lace on the breast. Feathers, herbs, and flowers floated on the liquor, quite perfect, but totally discoloured. After satisfying the curious, the coffin was again soldered up, and replaced in the grave.

The benefice is a rectory, valued in K.B. at £20, and in 1831, at £455. It is in the patronage of Sir B. W. Bridges, Bart., and the incumbency of the Rev. B. H. Bridges, M.A., who has a good Rectory House, and 23A. 1R. 2P. of glebe. The tithes were commuted in 1844, for a yearly rent charge of £575. Mr B. is also rector of Woodham Ferrers, and in 1839, his parishioners presented him with a service of plate, (value £135) as a testimony of their affection.

A small Wesleyan chapel, built here in 1825, is now rented by Independents.

National Schools for boys, girls, and infants, are supported by the rector and patron, and the small payments of the scholars.

The Church and Poor's Land has been vested in trust from an early period, and comprises 35A. 2R. 14P., in Purleigh parish, let for £38; about 4. at Woodham-Walter, let for £4.10s. and an acre in this parish, let for 25s. Adjoining the latter, is a garden and two cottages, built by the trustees in 1831 at the cost of £100, and now occupied, rent free, by two poor families. One moiety of the clear income belongs to the poor parishioners, though the whole was, for many years, applied with the church rates. The poor have also the rent of 4A. of land, given by an unknown donor, and now let for £5.

Back to History of Danbury

Danbury Place
Danbury Place or Palace
Print published 1880

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

Danbury - 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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