History of Stansted Mountfitchet

Stansted Mountfitchet © Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2005. http://www.frithphotos.com
Stansted Hall, Stansted Mountfitchet, c.1965
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.

History of Stansted Mountfitchet >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET is a small ancient town, with many good houses and shops, pleasantly situated on and near the New-market road, from 3 to 4 miles North by East of Bishop Stortford; and 19 miles North West of Chelmsford.

Its parish has a Station on the North Eastern Railway, and contains 1637 inhabitants and 4094 acres of land, including BENTFIELD hamlet, which is in Clavering Hundred, and contains 496 souls and about 800 acres, in close proximity with the town, following is commonly called Stansted Street, and is distant more than half a mile North West of the church, and has a fair for cattle, etc. on May 1st, and on the day following for toys, etc.

Its name Stansted, or Stone Street, was probably derived from a vicinal way, which branched off from the Great Roman road near Bishop Stortford, and passed northward to Chesterford, nearly in the line of the present turnpike.

The appellation Mountfitchet, appears to have been given it in oontradistinction to Stansted, in Hertfordshire, and probably arose from a large artifiCIal mount, on which stood the keep of a Castle, erected by William Gernon, who assumed the surname of Montfitchet, and inherited the lordship from his father Robert Gernon, to whom it had been given, with many others in this county, by the Conqueror.

After the erection of the Castle, it became the head of the great Barony of Montfitchet, and some traces of the fortress are yet visible, about a quarter of a mile from the church, near a rivulet which falls into the Stort, on the south-west side of the parish.

On the death of Richard de Montfitchet, without issue, in 1258, the barony was divided among his three sisters, and Stansted fell to the share of Margery wife of Hugh de Bolebec. After remaining several generations with his family, it was sold to Thomas de Vere, a son of the third Earl of Oxford.

W.F. Maitland, Esq., is the present lord of the manor of Stansted Hall with Burnels and Bury Lodge, and resides at STANSTED HOUSE, a large and handsome modern mansion, situated near the railway, in an extensive and well wooded park of rich grazing land, not far from the lofty hill, on the summit of which there still remains one of the towers of Stansted Hall, an ancient mansion, which commanded extensive prospects, and was the seat of the Maitlands till they erected tbe present more extensive and commodious residence, some years ago.

The manor of Bentfield~bury has been held by the Vere, Hubert, Middleton, and Heath families, but now belongs to Robert Gosling, Esq.

Mrs. Rainsford, Mr. Matthew Woodley, E. Cornell, and many smaller owners have estates in the parish, mostly copyhold, subject to arbitrary fines. Hargrove Lodge, the seat of of Mrs. Rainsford, is a large handsome mansion in the castellated style with tasteful pleasure grounds.

Thremhall Priory stood within the bounds of this parish, about two miles South East of the church, and was founded by Gilbert de Montfitchet, soon after the Conquest, for Benedictine canons. Its chief endowments were derived from that family and the de Veres. On its suppression, its annual income was valued £70.19s.3d., according to Speed. The site of the priory was afterwards held by the Carey, Glascock, Ray, and Wyatt families, and one of the Rays built a neat house upon it.

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

The parish Church (Virgin Mary,) stands near the park, and was a small ancient fabric, but, much enlarged and the decayed parts restored in 1829, at the cost of £1385.

It has a brick tower, which contains five bells, and was rebuilt about 1690, by Sir Stephen Langham, who also rebuilt the porch, and newly ceiled the church.

The interior has now a handsome appearance, and still retains some of the ancient carved seats. In consideration of a grant of £200 from the Society for enlarging churches, etc., 200 additional free were provided in 1829.

The font is rudely sculptured, and bears marks of great antiquity. On the north side of the chancel is the mutilated effigy of a Crusader; and on the floor is a small brass plate, inscribed to the memory of Robert de Bokkyng, the first vicar, who died in 1361.

Against the south wall is a handsome marble monument in memory of Sir Thomas Middleton, Kt., who is represented in a recnmbent posture, in plate armour, with gilt studs. He died in 1631, aged 81, and a long Latin inscription records his virtues and his extensive knowledge in the languages, merchandise, and manners of foreign countries.

The church was appropriated to Thremhall Priory, and the impropriate rectory now belongs to W.F. Maitland, Esq., who is also patron of the discharged vicarage, valued in K.B. at £13.6s.8d., and in 1831 at £300, and now in the incumbency of the Rev. Josias Torriano, M.A., who has a good residence and 2A of glebe.

The tithes were commuted in 1840, the rectorial for £315.15s., and the vicarial for £306.

Here is a Friends' Meeting House, and also two Independent Chapels, one erected in 1822, in the Bentfield part of the town, and the other founded in the 17th century by the Nichols and other nonconformist families of the neighbourhood.

Here is a large and handsome Charity School, erected in 1838, at the cost of £700, and supported chiefly by subscription; and the parish has various Charities for the relief of the poor; and a small British School, erected in 1835.

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Stansted Mountfitchet - Cary's New and Correct English Atlas, 1798

Stansted Mountfitchet - 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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