History of Hempstead

church - exterior
St Andrew's Church, Hempstead.
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History of Hempstead >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

HEMPSTEAD, or Hemsted, a large straggling village, 7 miles East of Saffron Walden, and 6 miles North by East of Thaxted, has in its parish 789 souls, and 3567A. of land, including Hempstead Wood, Smith Green, Cabbage End, Gallows End, and many scattered farm-houses, etc.

At Domesday Survey, it was held by Richard Fitz-Gislebert. Cecil Fane, Esq., is now proprietor of most of the soil, and lord of the two manors called Hempstead Hall and Crouchmans, or Winslows, which were purchased by the Harvey family about 1640.

The Hall, which was formally an occasional seat of the Harvey family, is demolished, but the moat remains, and also part of some out-houses, converted into a cottage.

Of this family was the celebrated Dr. William Harvey, to whose memory there is a handsome monument in the church, displaying his bust, and recording, in a Latin epitaph, his discovery of the circulation of the blood, and other circumstances connected with his professional knowledge.

He died in 1657, aged 80. He was physician to James I. and Charles I., and adhered to the royal cause in the civil wars. He was the son of Thomas Harvey, of Folkestone, in Kent, and elder brother of Eliah Harvey, who purchased the Hempstead estate. He was not only an excellent physician, but of an admirable character as a man and a christian philosopher. Having no children, he gave his paternal estate to the College of Physicians, to which he added a valuable library and museum.

That notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin, was born here, in the house now the Rose and Crown Inn.

The parish is well wooded, and celebrated for having produced remarkably large trees. Arthur Young mentions two immense oaks, in a field near Great Dawkins farm-house, but only one of them is now standing, and much mutilated and decayed. This venerable oak is supposed to be a thousand years old, and was formerly 99 feet in height, and its boughs covered an area of about 36 yards in diameter.

An estate called Moynes was long held by the Moigne family of the Earls of Oxford. J. Drummond, Esq., and several smaller owners, have estates here.

The Church (St. Andrews,) is a large ancient structure, on a hill, nearly in the centre of the parish. It has a nave, with aisles, a chancel, and a handsome tower, containing five musical bells.

The interior is highly ornamented and beautiful, and the nave is separated from the aisles by four clustered pillars on either side, supporting pointed arches. In a chapel, or apartment over the vault of the Harvey family, are several handsome monuments, one of which has a well-carved bust of Dr. Harvey, who immortalized his name by discovering the circulation of the blood, as already noticed.

The benefice is a curacy, annexed to the vicarage of Great Sampford, to which this parish is sometimes called a chapelry. The Dean and Chapter of Canterbury have here 57A. 3R. 4P., of rectorial glebe, and are appropriators of the great tithes, which were commuted in 1836, for £725.18s.5d., and the small tithes for £235.10s.9d. per annum.

Two houses, called the Workhouse and Almshouse, are occupied by paupers, and are supposed to have been given by John Pound. The parish has three tenements, let for about £12 a year, which is applied with the poor rates.

Several pieces of land, which have long been held as private property, are supposed to have belonged to the poor parishioners.

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

Hempstead - 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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