History of Pleshey

Pleshey © Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2005. http://www.francisfrith.com
The Village, Pleshey, c.1960
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.

History of Pleshy >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

PLESHEY, or Plaisy, a pleasant village, in a high situation, 6 miles North North West of Chelmsford, has in its parish 337 inhabitants, but only 726A. 1R. 2P. of land, including roads, etc.

Its name is supposed to be a corruption of the French word Plaisir, applicable to the village on account of its situation on elevated ground, with agreeable prospects, especially towards the south, in which direction it is watered by a small rivulet, and by a brook on the north.

In the Conqueror's time, it was the seat of Alfhere, High Constable of England, who took it from the Abbot of Ely. It was afterwards granted to Eustace, Earl of Boulogne, with whose grand-daughter, Maud, it passed in marriage to King Stephen, who gave it to Geoffrey de Mandeville, the first Earl of Essex, who built a Castle here, and another at Saffron Walden.

Having joined the party of the Empress Maud, the Earl was seized and imprisoned in the Tower of London, and the Castles of Pleshey and Walden were made the price of his release. Henry II. restored the family estates to his son Geoffrey. These and the succeeding Earls of Essex for a long period Pleshey Castle was their occasional residence.

A Roman entrenchment surrounds the village, and the circumference of the vallum is nearly a Roman mile. Several urns and other antiquities have been found near it, and some Roman bricks are built in the tower of the church.

The earth works consist of an area of about two acres, enclosed by high and strong embankments, with a deep moat on the outside. On the east side is an immense mound, called the Mount, separated from the enclosed area, as well as from the surrounding grounds, by a very deep ditch.

This mound has been called by topographers the Keep, and on it appears to have been built the strongest part of the Norman castle, the walls of which appear to have been built on the embankments, but have now disappeared, though a brick bridge, of one lofty pointed arch, which formed the communication between the castle and the keep, still remains; and being mantled with ivy and other foliage, it has a very picturesque appearance when viewed from the woody moat below.

This arch is remarkable for the singular circumstance of contracting as it approaches the foundations; and there was upon it a brick gate, which fell down about the close of last century. Foundations of brick run from the end of the bridge to the left round of the keep, and on each side of the way to it are foundations of large rooms and angles of stone buildings.

Gough says, "the site of the castle has been a warren, and four ragged yews occupy the keep, in planting which some foundations were laid open." When he wrote (1800,) four Roman roads, which led into the entrenchment, were easily traced; and by the side of that leading to Chelmsford, there had been found "many human bones, an iron bridle bit, a stone coffin, and a glass urn, with bones in it, and also some tesselæ of pavements."

Thomas of Woodstock, 6th son of Edward I., and afterwards Duke of Gloucester, became possessed of Pleshey and other extensive estates, in 1372, in right of his wife, the eldest daughter of Humphrey de Bohun; and in her right, also, he became High Constable of England and Earl of Essex.

Pleshey and other estates passed to Edmund, Earl of Stafford, in right of his wife, the Duke's daughter; but on a partition of the estates of Humphrey de Bohun between this lady and Henry V., her first cousin, the castle and manor of Pleshey fell to the crown, and became parcel of the Duchy of Lancaster. Edward VI. granted the manor and the Great and Little Parks of Pleshey, to Sir John Gate, Knight; to whom, also, the College, founded here by the unfortunate Duke of Gloucester, had been previously granted by Henry VIII.

On his attainder and death, for conspiring to raise Lady Jane Grey to the throne, they again fell to the crown. They were afterwards passed to Thomas Lord Rich and Sir Robert Clarke; and from them they have passed, by descent and purchase, to J. J. Tufnell, Esq., the present lord of the manor and owner of most of the soil.

Several smaller owners have estates in the parish, mostly freehold. The copyholds are subject to arbitrary fines.

church - exterior
Holy Trinity Church, Pleshey.
© Copyright Peter Stack contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Pleshey College was founded in 1393, by Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, for nine chaplains, of whom one was to be warden, two clerks, and two choristers. The Collegiate Church (Holy Trinity,) was made parochial, under a license from the king and bishop; and the ancient parish church, which stood on the opposite side of the road, was pulled down.

The founder's daughter, Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, and several others of his family, were interred here. On its suppression in 1546, this college was granted to Sir John Gate, who, for the sake of the materials, pulled down the chancel and transepts; and would also have destroyed the nave and steeple had they not been purchased by the parishioners.

These having become ruinous were taken down in 1708, when a small brick church was erected by Bishop Compson. A chancel was afterwards added by Samuel Tufnell, Esq., who also re-cast the four bells.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of J. J. Tufnell, Esq., and incumbency of the Rev. J. Hutchinson, B.A. It was valued at only £52 per ann., in 1831, though it has 21A. of land, purchased with £500 given by Lady Moyer and Mrs Jennings, in 1721 and 1728.

A handsome new parsonage house has lately been provided by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, and enlarged partly at the expense of the patron. The Dean and Chapter of Westminster are appropriators of the great tithes, which were commuted in 1846 for £220 per annum, and are held on lease by the patron. The Church Land is 4A., let for £9 per annum. A yearly rent-charge, out of the Lodge farm, was purchased for the incumbent in 1844.

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

Pleshey - 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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