History of Ridgewell (Ridgwell)
St. Laurence's Church, Ridgewell
© Copyright Humphrey Bolton contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
History of Ridgewell (Ridgwell) >> White's Directory 1848
White's Directory of Essex 1848
RIDGWELL, or Redgwell, a pleasant village, built round a large green, on a commanding eminence near the sources of the river Colne, 4½ miles South West by South of Clare, and 12 miles North of Braintree
It has in its parish 753 souls, and 1663 acres of land, including several scattered houses, and the detached hamlet of Ridgwell Norton, more than 3 miles West South West of the church.
In the fourteenth century, Ridgwell had a weekly market on Tuesdays, and a fair on St Lawrence's day, but they have long been obsolete.
The manor, with a great part of the soil, belongs to St. John's College, Cambridge, for which it was purchased in 1521, by the executors of the Countess of Richmond and Derby, the foundress of that extensive college. G. Nottidge, Esq., T.S.Ewer, Esq., and several smaller owners have estates in the parish, mostly free and partly copyhold. The latter are subject to certain fines.
The farm called Three Chimneys, belongs to Queen's College, Cambridge. The old farm-house called Causeway is surrounded by a moat. Essex Farm has been held by the Blendet, De Essex, Weld, and Brock families. Hill Farm was anciently held by the Pannel family, and is now the residence of Mr. W. Gibbons.
The Roman road from Colchester to Cambridge passed through the parish, and many Roman coins, tiles, tesseræ, and the remains of a villa, were discovered in 1794. A plan of the villa was published in the Archælogia. Traces of the Roman road were very distinct in 1790 in this and neighbouring parishes; and in Sturmer is a large tumulus. Among the coins found at various periods in this neighbourhood, are several of Octacilia Severa, Nero, Vespasian, Domitian, Trajan, Carausius, Constantine the Great, and other emperors.
The Church (St. Lawrence,) is a large and handsome stone fabric, with a nave, chancel, and north aisle, and a square embattled tower, containing six musical bells. The roof of the nave is leaded and richly carved, and on the south side is a large porch. There was a chapel on the north side, but it was taken down by order of the Bishop, in consequence of a dispute between the lord of the manor and the parishioners respecting the keeping it in repair.
The wife of William de Munchency gave this church to her nunnery, at Waterbeach, in Cambridgeshire. At the dissolution, the rectory was given to Catherine Hall, Cambridge, to which it still belongs, together with the patronage of the discharged vicarage, valued in K.B. at £10, and in 1831 at £192.
Now in the incumbency of the Rev. Francis Forster, M.A., who has a good residence, built in 1841, and 125 acres of glebe, partly purchased with £200 of Queen Anne's Bounty, and £200 was given by the patrons and the Revs. M. Cook and J. Johnson. The tithes were commuted in 1840, the rectorial for £420, and the vicarial for £136 per annum.
Here is an Independent Chapel, belonging to a congregation formed in 1662, under the ministry of the Rev. Daniel Ray, an ejected nonconformist minister. Its burial ground was enlarged in 1848, and its Sunday school is attended by 100 children. Several small charities belonging to this parish are lost.
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