History of Hatfield Broad Oak

Hatfield Broad Oak  © Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2005. http://www.francisfrith.com
Hatfield Broad Oak c.1960
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.

History of Hatfield Broad Oak >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

HATFIELD BROAD OAK, or Hatfield Regis, is a large ancient village, pleasantly situated on the eastern side of the Pincey Brook, 6 miles South East of Bishop-Stortford, and 7 miles North East of Harlow and South West of Dunmow.

It was formerly a market-town, and it still has a fair for lambs, on the 5th of August.

Its extensive parish comprises 1,968 inhabitants, and 8,619 acres of land, divided into four quarters, called Town Quarter, Woodrow Quarter, Heath Quarter, and Broomsend Quarter, extending four miles north of the village, and including Broad Street Green, many scattered farm houses, etc., and a woodland district called Hatfield Forest.

The latter is at the north end of the parish, and was long celebrated for its wide-spreading oaks, one of which gave the distinctive appellation of Broad Oak to the parish, but it was a venerable ruin when Arthur Young wrote; in whose time Sir John Barrington had in the forest a noble oak, for which a timber merchant had offered 100 guineas.


The Hatfield Broad Oak c.1854
Image from 'Arboretum et fruticetum britannicum' courtesy of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on Flickr NKCR

The parish was anciently part of the King's demesne, whence it derived the name of Regis. J.A. Houblon and A.C. Lowndes, Esqrs. are lords of the manors; but J.T. Selwin, Esq., owns Down Hall estate; and the Rev. John Cannop, and many smaller proprietors have estates in the parish.

The paramount manor, called Halfieldbury, remained in the crown till 1217, when Henry III. granted it to William de Cassingham. It afterwards passed to the Bruce family; but when Robert Bruce asserted his right to the crown of Scotland, it was seized by Edward I. It was granted by Edward II. to Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Essex, and remained many generations with the succeeding Earls, and the Duke of Buckingham and Earls of Statford. Edward VI. granted it to the Rich family, from whom it passed, in 1673, to Charles Barrington, who was seated at Barrington Hall, now the seat and property of A.C. Lowndes, Esq.

This is a large and handsome mansion, which was built during the last century, in lieu of the ancient hall, now reduced to a farm house.

Near the church, was a BENEDICTINE PRIORY, founded in 1135, by Alberic de Vere, father of the first Earl of Oxford, and dedicated to St. Mary and St. Melanius Redonensis, a British or Armorican Saint, to whose glory a flourishing abbey was erected at Rennes, in Bretagne. To that abbey Hatfield Priory was originally a cell; but it is supposed to have been rendered independent of it by the third Earl of Oxford.

Its possessions were greatly increased by subsequent benefactors, and on its suppression were valued at £122.13s.2d. per annum. Henry VIII. granted the site and revenues of the Priory to Thomas Noke, whose son Robert sold them,in 1561, to Thomas Barrington, Esq., whose family had been settled at old Barrington Hall since the time of Henry I.

From this mansion, a great part of which was pulled down and the rest converted into a farm house, the Barringtons removed to the Priory, and resided there till about the beginning of last century, when it was taken down, through the misapprehension of a workman, who bad been consulted about repairing it. After its destruction, New Barrington Hall was erected. The long room on the ground-floor of this mansion, measures 100 feet by 20, and its ceiling is highly ornamented, and supported by large columns.

church - exterior
St Mary's Church, Hatfield Broad Oak.
© Copyright John Salmon contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Church (Virgin Mary,) is a handsome and lofty fabric, of great antiquity, with a stone tower and six bells. The nave has a south aisle, and the chancel has two aisles, with a vestry on either side. Here is the mutilated effigy (carved in wood,) of Robert de Vere, third Earl of Oxford, who was buried in the church in 1221.

The writings belonging to the Barrington family are deposited in the north vestry; which is supposed to have been part of the priory chapel. In the other vestry is a library, placed there in 1708, by Sir Charles Barrington.

The vicarage, valued in K.B. at £7.11s., and in 1831 at £190, is in the patronage of Trinity College, Cambridge, and incumbency of the Rev. T.F. Hall, M.A., who has about 3 acres of glebe, and a neat residence in the Tudor style, built in 1838-'9. The vicar has £30 a year from Dr. Clarke's Charity. The tithes were commuted in 1839, the vicarial for £1OO, and the rectorial for £1,775. The latter belong to Trinity College, to which they were granted by Henry VIII. The great tithes had previously belonged, partly to the priory here, but mostly to that of St. Botolph, in Colchester.

At Hatfield Heath is an Independent Chapel, funded by an ejected minister in 1662, and rebuilt in 1726, and enlarged in 1830. The Rev. C. Berry is the minister.

There is a small Independent chapel in the village, built in 1818, and another at the north end of the parish, built about 40 years ago, and now under the ministry of the Rev. John. Hanson.

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Hatfield Broad Oak - Cary's New and Correct English Atlas, 1798

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Hatfield Broad Oak - 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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