History of Finchingfield
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.
History of Finchingfield >> White's Directory 1848
White's Directory of Essex 1848
FINCHINGFIELD is a large and well-built village, pleasantly situated on an acclivity, and in the vale of a tributary stream of the river Blackwater, about 9 miles North West by North of Braintree, and West by South of Halstead.
Its extensive parish contains 2262 inhabitants, and 8011 acres of land, including Daw Street, near the Blackwater, about a mile south; and Cornish Hall End, Tinkers Green, Howe Street, Spains End, Robin Hood's End, and Little London, from 1 to 3 miles north of the village.
The parish has many scattered farmhouses, and several neat mansions; and the soil varies from a deep clayey loam, to a light gravelly pasture ground, near the river Pant, or Blackwater.
The surface is generally low, but in some parts it rises boldly to a considerable height. A fine white sand, in which are many fossil shells, mixed with veins of white and blue clay, is found in various places, especially in the high lands called Justice Hill. There are several small hop plantations in the parish, but hops were formerly grown here much more extensively than at present.
Jno. Ruggles Brise, Esq., is lord of the principal manors, and has a fine old seat here, called SPAINS HALL, standing in a small, well-wooded park, and evidently rebuilt in the early part of the reign of Elizabeth, as its front is a fine specimen of the domestic architecture of that period.
At Domesday Survey, the manor of Spains Hall was held under Count Alan by Hervey de Hispania, from whom it had its name.
Hezekiah Smith, Esq., is lord of the manor of Nortofts; and G. W. Gent, Esq., owns several farms here, and is lord of the manor of Cornish Hall. The estates of Ashwell Hall and Hawkins Harvest belong to Guy's Hospital.
Many smaller owners have estates in the parish, mostly free and partly copyhold. Some of the latter are subject to arbitrary and others to certain fines.
St John's Church, Finchingfield.
© Copyright John Salmon contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The Church (St. John the Baptist,) is an ancient structure on a bold eminence, and has a stone tower, which contains eight bells, and was formerly surmounted by a lofty spire, which was blown down in 1702.
It was anciently appropriated to Thetford Priory, and the rectorial tithes now belong to Rd. Marriott, Esq. The Vicarage, valued in K.B. at £18, and in 1831 at £528, is in the patronage and incumbency of the Rev. John Stock, M.A., who has about 40A of glebe, and in 1843 rebuilt the Vicarage House, in the Tudor style. The vicarial tithes were commuted in 1842, for £721 per annum.
In the chancel are chapels belonging to the manors of Spains Hall and Petches. In the former is a monument in memory of Wm. Kemp, Esq., of Spains Hall, who died in 1628, and for one inadvertence in speech imposed on his tongue a seven year silence. Here was anciently a religious fraternity, called Trinity Guild.
For the accommodation of the inhabitants of the northern parts of this extensive parish, a neat District Church (St. John,) was built at Cornish Hall End, in 1841, by subscription, and a grant from the Church Building Society.
The ministers house was built in 1846, chiefly at the cost of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The living is a perpetual curacy, now valued at £100, in the patronage of the Bishop, and incumbency of the Rev. J. R. Stock, M.A.
A School was built at Cornish Hall End, in 1848, by G. W. Gent, Esq., who intends to endow it for the free education of poor children.
In the village is an Independent Chapel, built in 1779, but since then it has been three times enlarged. It is now under the ministry of the Rev. T. B. Sainsbury; and in connexion with it is an Infant School, built in 1844.
The parish has a Free School, and various charities for the poor.
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Sergeant William Bendlowe, in 1567, bequeathed to this parish, out of land at Great and Little Sampford, an annuity of 40s., viz., 13s.4d. for the repairs of the church, and the rest for the poor. He also gave an Almshouse, which, having fallen into decay, was rebuilt by the parish, about 16 years ago, and is now occupied by twelve poor widows. He also endowed this house with an annuity of 26s.8d., but it is lost.
The poor parishioners have a yearly rent-charge of £10, out of Spains Hall estate, left by Wm. Kemp, in 1623.
An old house at church gate, called the Guildhall, was given as an almshouse for poor widows, by Robert Kemp, in 1630.
Sir Robert Kemp gave 38A. of land, called Spains or Park Field, at some unknown date, and it is now let for £35 a-year, which is applied as follows:- £12 to a schoolmaster, for teaching 12 poor boys; £6 to the vicar, for catechising the said boys; £8 for a monthly distribution of 13s.4d. worth of bread among the poor; £1.10s. in wood fuel, for the almshouse at the church gate; and £7.10s. in repairs and incidental expenses.
To provide fuel for the poor parishioners, Stephen Marshall, in 1650, gave a cottage and 3A. of land, called Waseys, now let for £8 a year. This rent has improperly been applied to the repairs of the church.
Two tenements, in Howe street, given for the poor by Jas. Harrington, in 1584, fell down about 70 years ago. The site and gardens comprise about 20 perches.
The poor have also the interest of £45, left by John Legerton, in 1828.
ANNE COLE, in 1730, left Messing Farm, in trust, to apply the rents thereof for the benefit of the children of such poor persons of the four parishes of Finchingfield, Birdbrook, Bumpstead, and Stambourne, as do not receive parochial relief. This farm comprises 94A.,and is let for £60 a year. The rent is paid every fourth year to the vicar of this parish, and £15 is here applied annually towards the support of the Sunday School, which is attended by 150 children. The master now teaches on week days 25 free scholars.
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