History of Great Chesterford

church - exterior
All Saints' Church, Great Chesterford.
© Copyright John Salmon contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

History of Great Chesterford >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

CHESTERFORD (GREAT) is a large village, pleasantly situated on the Newmarket road, and on the east side of the river Granta, or, Cam, and the North-Eastern Railway on which it has a station, adjoining Cambridgeshire, 4 miles North North West of Saffron Walden.

Its parish contains 917 souls, and 2811 acres of land, including roads and waste; and has a fair for toys, etc., on the first Friday in July.

Great Chesterford is undoubtedly the site of a Roman Station, as is evident from the numerous coins, urns, and other antiquities that have been found here, as well as from the remains of the encampment itself, which could be completely traced till the beginning of the present century, and is yet visible in several places. Its name, however, like those of all the other stations in this county and neighbourhood, has been much contested.

Dr. Stukeley, and Baxter, make it the Camboricum of Antoninus; and Horsley calls it Iciani, or Iceanum; a station which Dr. Salmon, on very insufficient gronnds, refers to Colchester, the site of the real Camulodunum, which this author places at Castle Camps, in Cambridgeshire.

Mr. Gough appears to incline to the opinions of those who make Chesterford the ancient Camboricum. Dr. Stukeley, who visited this station in the year 1719, and described it in his Itinerarium Curiosum, says that "the foundation of the walls was very apparent, quite round, though level with the ground, includiug a space of about fifty acres. Great part of it serves for a causeway to the turnpike road; the Crown Inn is built upon it; the rest is made use of by the countrymen for their carriages to and fro in the fields; the earth is still high on both sides of it. In one part, where they have been long digging it up for materials in building, and mending the roads, I measured its breadth twelve feet, and remarked its composition of rag-stone, flints, and Roman bricks, bound together by a strong cement. The bricks are 14½ inches long, and nine broad. I remarked that the city was just 1000 Roman feet in breadth, and that the breadth to the length was as three to five, of the same proportion as they made their bricks; it is pointed obliquely to the four cardinal points; its length from north-west to south-west, whereby wholesomeness is so well provided for, according to the direction of Vitruvius."

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

The most numerous of the coins discovered here are those of Caligula, Trajan, Constantine, and Constantius; though many of the early, as well as the later emperors, have been also dug up; and a large parcel of very fine ones was found here in a pot, in 1769. A bronze bust, various fibulae, with brass and gold utensils and instruments, have likewise been met with; as well as many urns and entire skeletons; and a small urn also of red earth, containing several written scrolls of parchment, but dispersed before any account or explanation could be obtained.

A stone trough, the only one of the kind, perhaps, in England, discovered here, and sometime used for water at a smith's forge, was in the hands of the late Dr. Gower, of Chelmsford, who supposed it to be a receptacle of ashes, of the kind called, by Montfaucon and others, Quietorium.

Besides tbe station itself, which Dr. Salmon, in his Antiquities of Essex, states as being a mile in compass, a smaller camp may be traced near the church; and several others have been noticed as remaining within the circuit of a few miles. Antiquaries of the present day have decided that Great Chesterford is the ancient Iceanum, first occupied by the Britons, and afterwards by the Romans.

The manor of Great Chesterford belonged to Earl Edgar in the Confessor's reign; but at Domesday Survey it belonged to the King, and had the privilege of a royal demesne. It was afterwards possessed by several noble families; and in 1502 was granted by Maurice, brother of the Marquis of Berkley, to St. Peter's Abbey, at Westminster at the dissolution,

Henry VIII. bestowed it on Lord Chancellor Audley whose only daughter married Thomas Duke of Norfolk. From her it descended to the Marquis of Bristol, the present lord of the manor, and owner of a great part of the soil.

Part of the parish belongs to R.M.J. Cottingham, O.H. Edwards, James Green, and several smaller owners, mostly freeholders. The copyholds are subject to certain fines.

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

The Church (All Saints,) is a large and lofty stone fabric, with a nave, north and south aisles, and a chancel, leaded and in good repair; and a square tower containing six bells, and crowned by an ornamental lantern. On the south side of the chancel is a chapel, formerly "our lady's chantry," founded by William Holden about 1523. A room on the north side was till 1847 used as the free school.

In a certificate of the chantry lands (valued at £9.9s.7d. per ann.) Great Chesterford is called a "great towne, having in it 500 housing people, and more." Morant also affirms that it had formerly a market.

The vicarage, valued in K.B. at £10, and in 1831 at £427, with the rectory of Little Chesterford annexed to it, is in the patronage of the Marquis of Bristol and incumbency of the Rev. Lord Charles A. Hervey, M.A., who has a large and handsome residence, and 102A.1R.11P. of glebe, mostly allotted in lien of tithes, at the enclosure of the parish in 1804, when 521A.lR.12R. of land was allotted to the Marquis of Bristol, the impropriator, in lieu of the rectorial tithes. Of the latter, 220A.2R.34P. is now the property of Mr. O.H. Edwards.

The impropriator pays £25 a year to the vicar, and the benefice was, augmented in 1719 with £200, given by Bishop Robinson, and £200 of Queen Anne's Bounty.

The Church Allotment, awarded at the enclosure in 1804, comprises 4A.1R.36P., let for £13.13s., which is applied in aid of the church-rates, as also is £1.10s,4d. received yearly from Hinxton, in Cambridgeshire, as part of Housden's Charity, and 25s. from half an acre of land in Ickleton parish.

Here is an Independent Chapel.

The FREE SCHOOL, which bas been conducted on the national system since 1816, was founded by John Hart, who endowed it with land and buildings in 1592, for the support of a master to teach freely the poor children of Great and Little Chesterford, under the control of the trustees and the Master and Fellows of Magdalen College, Cambridge.

At the enclosure the school received several allotments in exchange, and in lieu of common right. The property of the charity now consist of 11A.2R.29P. of land, and a cottage with a garden and yard, let for £31.7s. per annum: and £105I three and half per cent. stock. The latter was left by Peter Nash, in 1810, for the education of eight poor girls.

A house and garden are occupied rent-free by the master, who is allowed a yearly salary of £25. The schoolmistress has £26 per annum, and the trustees provide books for the free scholars, who are now taught with other children in the handsome National School, built in 1848, at the cost of about £1200, of which £200 was a government grant; £100, the gift of the Vicar, and £70 a grant from the National Society. The site (worth £125,) was given by the Marquis of Bristol, and materials of the value of £165, were given by Mr. Jackson, the railway contractor.

Back to History of Great Chesterford

my ancestors logo

My Ancestors.

Are your ancestors from Great Chesterford? Why not tell us their story: My Great Chesterford 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.

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

Also look at other newspaper archives and learn how they can help you research your ancestors. >>more

Great Chesterford - Cary's New and Correct English Atlas, 1798

Great Chesterford - 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 pictures to add to your family tree album?


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.