History of Halstead

street view - exterior
© Copyright Robin Webster contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

History of Halstead >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

Halstead is a neat but irregularly built market town, pleasantly situated on both sides of the valley of the small river Colne, and on the high roads from London to Bury St. Edmund's, and from Colchester to Cambridge, 61 miles North East by North of Braintree, 8 miles South West by South of Sudbury, 14 miles West North West of Colchester, and 46 miles North East of London.

A railway is now being extended to it from Colchester, Stour Valley and Sudbury line, near Wakes Colne, and it will be finished in 1848. The town rises picturesquely on the opposite acclivities of the valley, and has three large silk and crape factories, belonging to Messrs. Courtauld and Co., who employ here about a thousand hands. Many of the women and children of the town and neighbourhood are partially employed in making straw plat.

Halstead is in Braintree Polling District, but is the head of a County Court District, and of the large Union. Its parish increased its population from 3380 souls in 1801, to 5710 in 1841 and extends over 5425 acres of land, including the hamlet of Greensted Green, 2 miles South by East of the town; and many scattered farm houses, and some neat mansions bearing different names. The market is held on Tuesday, when some business is done in corn by farmers and dealers at two of the inns; and here are two fairs for cattle, etc., on May 6th and October 29th.

Petty Sessions are held in the room over the Literary and Mechanics' Institution, every alternate Tuesday, for the South Division of Hinckford Hundred, which has a Police Station, in part of the old prison, which was formerly used as a divisional House of Correction, and was built in 1782, and had two tread-wheels, 8 wards, 5 day rooms, and 35 cells. After conviction, prisoners are now sent to the county gaol at Springfield.

Mr. Otbell Hustler is clerk to the magistrates, and also supt. registrar and clerk of Halstead Union. The COUNTY COURT is held monthly in the Sessions room for the 14 parishes for which district George Sperling, Esq., is clerk, and Mr. John Johnson, bailiff.

The town has been much improved, and many new houses erected during the last twenty years. Though there are gas works in the town (belonging to R.E. Greenwood, Esq.,) there are no public lamps, but the rate payers have recently determined to light the principal streets and thoroughfares during the winter months, and to keep the fire-engines in good working condition. High Street is of considerable length, and has many good houses, shops, and inns, as also have several of the other streets.

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

A market appears to have been established here in the time of the Saxons, as indicated by the name of Chepping Hill, being anciently given to the original market place. The proprietorship of this market was retained by the Crown, til 1215, when it was granted to Abel de St.Martin. who held two knights' fees in Halstead and Belchamp, under Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford. He was indicted by Hugh de Vere for setting up a market at Halstead to the injury of that at Castle Hedingham; but on producing the royal grant, and proving the town's prescriptive rights, the difference was adjusted.

Abel agreeing to pay the earl half a mark yearly, and to remove the market from the high road to its ancient station on Chepping-hill, where it remained in the reign of Elizabeth, when it was again fixed in its present situation, near the centre of the town.

At Domesday Survey, the parish was held by the Earl of Clare, the Earl of Warren, and Robert Malet, lord of the barony of Eye; and it afterwards passed to the De Hausted, St. Martin, Bourchier, Maldon, Tryon, Blamster, Baddlesmere, Simnell, Gernon, Hipworth, Munchency, and other ancient families, some of whose names are still attached to old houses in the parish.

The Earl of Mornington is now lord of the principal manor called Bois Hall, or Abels; but a great part of the parish belongs to W.P. Honeywood, Esq., the Rev. B. Harvey, T.T. Fowke, Esq., and several smaller owners, mostly copyholders, subject to arbitrary fines.

Stansted Hall, now a farm house, 1 mile S.S.E. of the town, belongs to W.P. Honeywood, Esq., and was for many generations the baronial seat of the Bourchier family. Only a wing of the old mansion is now standing.

Benjamin Gilson, surgeon, occupies the fine old mansion called Blue Bridge, which was anciently a seat of the Munchency family. P.S.F. Martin, Esq., resides at Sloe Farm, which belonged to the Vere, Hunwick, and other families, and afterwards to Charles Hanbury, Esq., who erected the present elegant mansion on a pleasant eminence above the river Colne.

Halstead Lodge, the seat of J.N. Brewster, Esq.; Star Stile, the residence of George de Horne Vaizey, Esq.; Ashford Lodge, belonging to Firmin de Tastet, Esq.; and Howe Park, the seat of Edward Hornor, Esq., are neat modern mansions, with pleasant grounds.

church - exterior
St Andrew's Church, Halstead.
© Copyright Andrew Hill contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

HALSTEAD PARISH CHURCH (St. Andrew,) is a large building of great antiquity, but has undergone many alterations, and is now in a very dilapidated state, the roof being propped to prevent its falling, until funds can be raised for the necessary repairs, either by church rates or voluntary subscription.

It is the head of the Rural Deanery of Halstead; but, owing to its present dangerous state and the unsightly wooden props which now disfigure it, the Bishop of Rochester held his last visitation in Holy Trinity Church. It is a cemented structure, and has a nave, side aisles, and chancel, with a square tower, containing six bells, and crowned by a wooden spire, which is the third that has been erected on the present tower, the two former ones being destroyed by lightning,

The first spire was destroyed in 1701, and the second was built in 1717, at the expense of Samuel Fiske, an apothecary of the town, whose friend, Prior, the poet, wrote a poetical effusion on the subject.

In the chancel and its aisles, are several handsome mural monuments, and two ancient tombs, each bearing the recumbent effigy of a Knight Templar and a Lady, supposed to have belonged to the Bourchier family of Stansted Hall, one of whom founded a chantry here in 1340, for a master and five priests, pursuant to the will of his grandfather, Robert, Earl of Essex and Lord Chancellor of England.

The college, or chantry house, stood in the centre of the town, and its yearly revenues were valued at £34.4s.3d. at the dissolution.

The rectory, valued in K.B, at £17, and 1831 at £392, is in the patronage of the Bishop of London, and incumbency of the Rev. William Adams, D.D., who has a good residence and about 3A. of glebe, The tithes were commuted in 1838, the vicarial for £470, and the rectorial for £1350 per annum. The latter belongs to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, but are leased to the Sparrow family, of Gosfield.

Holy Trinity Church, on Chapel hill, was erected in 1843-'4, for the accommodation or the southern part of the town, at the cost of about £5000; of which £3000 was given by Mrs. Gee, of Earl's Colne, and the rest by many smaller contributors.

It is an elegant flint and stone structure of Early English architecture, and has a spire, which rises to the height of 174 feet. The spire, when near]y completed in 1844, fell down, and was rebuilt in a more substantial manner.

The benefice is a perpetual curacy, which has been endowed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with £150 per annum, and is in the patronage of the Bishop of London, and incumbency of the Rev. D. Fraser, M.A.

On Chapel hill, now a populous part of the town, there was a ancient chapel, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, but all traces of it disappeared many years ago.

ST, JAMES' CHURCH, at Greenstead Green, two miles S. of the town, was built in 1844-'5, for the accommodation of the inhabitants of the southern part of this extensive parish, at the expense of Mrs. Gee, the pious and benevolent lady who contributed so largely towards the erection of the above-naned church.

It is a handsome structure, chiefly of flint, and has a tower containing six bells, and crowned by a spire. The interior is fitted up with open seats, and the windows are enriched with stained glass. The pulpit is of stone, and on its sides are are small figures of Christ and the four Evangelists, in niches.

The liberal foundress has erected near the church a school, and a neat house for the minister. The benefice is a perpetualr curacy, endowed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and now valued at £200 per annum, in the patronage of the Bishop of Rochester, and incumbency of the Rev. Charles Durney, M.A.

DISSENTERS have five chapels in the town, one of which is an old Friends' Meeting-house, at Clipt-hedges. The Independents have two chapels, one in Parsonage lane, built in 1711, but afterwards the repaired and enlarged; and the other in High street, erected in 1833, at the cost of about £2000, and having 900 sittings.

Here are also two Baptist Chapels, built in 1833 and 1840. Day and Sunday Schools, and Religious Institutions,are liberally supported by the church and dissenting congregations; and the parish has a Free Grammar School, and various Charities for the poor.

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

Halstead - 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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