History of Great Dunmow (Dunmow)
Market Place, Great Dunmow, c.1950
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.
History of Great Dunmow >> White's Directory 1848
White's Directory of Essex 1848
Part 1 Part 2
DUNMOW, (GREAT) a small ancient Market Town, which gives name to this Hundred, and to a Polling District, a Deanery, and a large Union and Police Division, is pleasantly situated on a gravelly hill, of considerable height, in a salubrious and fertile part of the county, on the western side of the river Chelmer, and on the Braintree and Bishop Stortford road, about 9 miles West of the former, and the same distance East of the latter town. It is 12½ miles North North West of Chelmsford, and 37 miles North East by North of London.
It consists principally of two streets, and is well lighted and paved, and supplied with good spring water. Its parish had 1828 in 1801, and 2792 in 1841; and contains 6746 acres of land, including many farms extending three miles North and North East of the town; and the sylvan suburb of Church-End, on the banks of the river, near Newton Hall, the ancient seat of the Rev. Sir A. B. Henniker, Bart.
Near the river are some of the finest meadows in the county, and the higher parts of the parish form a large extent of excellent corn land.
Dunmow is supposed by some antiquaries to have been the site of a Roman station. Bishop Gibson considered it to be the Caesaromogus, of Antoninus; and Drake, in a letter published in the 5th vol. of the Archaeologia, strengthened its claim to this appellation; not only by referring to the situation of the town on a Roman road, but also by mentioning Roman coins that had been found here; particularly a gold coin of Honorius, and some large brass ones of the Emperor Commodus, found in a field at Church-end.
In Viscount Maynard's park at Easton Lodge, near Dunmow, Roman Denarii, have been found of Gallienus, Tiberius, Posthumius, Victorinus, and others of the "thirty tyrants." At Merks Hill, in this parish, several small urns, and some pieces of brass and copper coins of Trajan and Antoninus, were discovered in a gravel pit, in 1760.
Henry III. granted to John de Berners, in 1253, a charter for a market, to be held at Dunmow every Saturday, but after been long in a declining state, it was discontinued some years ago, but was revived in 1838, and is now held on Tuesday, for corn, cattle, etc. Here are also two annual Fairs, for cattle etc. on May 6th and Nov. 8th.
The town was incorporated, by a charter, granted in the 2nd of William and Mary, and confirmed by letters patent of Queen Elizabeth, in the 32nd year of her reign. Its government was vested by the charter in a recorder, bailiff, and 11 burgesses. Twelve of the latter are still elected yearly, and one of them is chosen as bailiff; but their municipal regulations and authority have long been obsolete, and they now merely appoint a constable, fix the assize of bread, examine weights and measures, and regulate the markets and fairs.
Formerly the bay and say trade flourished here, but it has been extinct many years. The parish is in the liberty of the Duchy of Lancaster, and is divided into quarters, one of which is called the corporation quarter, and confined to the town and the immediate suburbs; and the others are in several manors, the largest of which is Great Dunmow, which belongs to Viscount Maynard.
This was held at the Domesday Survey by Richard Fitzgislebert, and Hamo Dapifer. The latter became sole owner of the manor, which afterwards passed to the Clare and Mortimer families. The heiress of the latter was grandmother of Edward IV., and this manor continued in the Crown, till it was sold to William, the first Lord Maynard, as parcel of the Duchy of Lancaster. It had anciently an extensive park with a large mansion called Dunmow Lodge.
The manor of NEWTON HALL, near Church-End, was held by Geofrey de Magnaville at the Domesday Survey, and afterwards passed to the Goldington, Gosnold, and Dyer families. It was purchased about a century ago by an ancestor of its present owner, the Rev. Sir Augustus Brydges Henniker, Bart., who is rector of Thornham-Magna, Suffolk, where he resides. His father was created a baronet in 1813.
The Hall is an old decayed mansion, occupied only by a servant, but it is said a new one is intended to be built, on a better site.
An estate called Southall, belongs to the Almshouses at Mile-end, near London, vested in trust with the Drapers' Company. The other manors and estates in this extensive parish are Merks, Mynchons, Shingle Hall, Martels, Bigods, etc.; belonging to Sir G. H. Beaumont, Bart., Lady Fitzgerald, and several smaller owners, mostly free, and partly copyholders.
The manorial custom of the flitch of bacon, belongs to the adjoining parish of Little Dunmow.
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