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Pigot's Essex 1832-3 Trade Directory


THAXTED is an ancient town, in the parish of its name, and hundred of Dunmow; situated on the river Chelmer, on the great road from Chelmsford to Cambridge; distant from London 42 miles, from Dunmow six, and from Saffron Walden seven miles. Many Roman coins have been discovered in the parish of Thaxted; and a beautiful amphora (now in the possession of Mr. Clarance, of this place, surgeon,) was dug up near the town some years ago. It is also conjectured by the antiquary that this town was one of some importance in the Saxon times. Thaxted was incorporated by Queen Mary; which charter was confirmed by Elizabeth, but rendered valueless either by the fears or poverty of the corporate officers, who on being served with a quo warranto, in the time of James II, thought fit to retire from their offices in silence. The present lord of the manor is Sir Thomas Smyth, Baronet, who holds a customary court once in every two years.

The church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary (or, according to others, to St. Lawrence), is a very spacious and elegant structure: the whole fabric is embattled, and supported by strong buttresses, terminated by canopied niches; the length of it is 183 feet, and the breadth 87 feet inside; at the west end stands a noble tower and spire, the perpendicular of which, from the summit of the vane to the ground floor, is 183 feet, corresponding with the length of the church; it also consists of a chancel, and side and cross aisles; the tower contains eight very fine-toned bells. The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Right Hon. Henry Lord Maynard; the Rev. Thomas Gee is the present vicar. Here are places of worship for independents, baptists, and the friends' society (the latter recently built); there is also a free grammar-school, founded by Thomas Yardley, for the education of thirty boys; and other charities, left by the same person, for the benefit of the poor : likewise almshouses, the gift of the late Sir Thomas Smyth, Bart. The guildhall is a stately ancient building, situate in Town-street, now the property of the parish, and occupied by James Frye, a schoolmaster. A market was formerly held here on the Friday, but it has been discontinued for many years; the fairs are on the Monday before Whit-Monday, and the 10th of August, for cattle, &c. The number of inhabitants, as returned in 1831, was 2,293; being an increase, since the census of 1801, of 399 persons.

GREAT BARDFIELD is a village and parish, in the hundred of Freshwell, five miles from Thaxted. This was once a market town, but at the present day it can scarcely be recognized as such, - Tuesday, the day on which the market is entitled to be held, presenting but little to distinguish it from the other days of business. William Kay, Esq., of London, is lord of the manor, and patron of the living here, which is a vicarage. An annual fair is held on the 22nd June, for cattle. - The number of inhabitants in the parish, by the last returns, was 1,029.

BROXTED is a village, in the same hundred as Thaxted, three miles south-east from that town, with a population of 694 inhabitants.

The village of FINCHINGFIELD is in the parish of its name, and hundred of Freshwell, between five and six miles from Thaxted. Many hop plantations are in this parish, and the land is exceedingly productive. Here are the parish church, a chapel for independent dissenters, and a free-school for 12 boys. The living is a vicarage and rectory; the lay impropriator is Richard Marrott, Esq., and the vicar is the Rev. Jas. Westerman. The parish contained, by the recent census (that of 1831), 2,101 inhabitants.

GREAT or OLD SAMPFORD, and LITTLE or NEW SAMPFORD, are two small villages and adjoining parishes, in the same hundred as Finchingfield. Great Sampford is four miles from Thaxted, and each parish contains its church. General Eustace is lord of both manors; his seat at New Sampford is now undergoing extensive improvements. Population of Great Sampford, 800 - and Little Sampford, 423 inhabitants.

POST OFFICE, Town-street, THAXTED, Samuel Newell, Post master. - Letters from LONDON arrive every forenoon at 12; past 10, and are despatched (by foot-post to DUNMOW) every afternoon at 1/2 past 3.

POST OFFICE, BARDFIELD, Philip H. Spicer, Post Master - Letters arrive every forenoon at eleven, and are despatched (by foot-post to BRAINTREE) every afternoon at four.

POST OFFICE, FINCHINGFIELD, Thomas Darby, Post Master - Letters arrive every day at noon, and are despatched every afternoon at two.

COACHES. To LONDON, the Clare (from Clare), calls at the Red Lion, Finchingfield, every morning (Sunday excepted ) half-past ten; goes through Dunmow, Chipping Ongar, Abridge, Chigwell, Woodford and Stratford.

To CLARE, the Clare (from London), calls at the Red Lion, Finchingfield, every afternoon (Sunday excepted) at four : goes through Steeple Bumpstead.

CARRIERS. To LONDON, William Bowtle, from Thaxted, every Monday morning at nine; goes through Broxted, Bishop Stortford, Epping, &c. - Ulyett, from Finchingfield, every Monday & Friday morning at eight; goes through Dunmow, &c. - and John Campen, every Monday morning at eight; goes through Waltham and Chelmsford.

To BRAINTREE, Charles Turner, from Finchingfield, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.

To SAFFRON WALDEN, James Regal from Thaxted, and Turner's Cart, from Finchingfield, every Saturday morning.

Transcribed by CG


THAXTED, an ancient town, with a large and beautiful church, is picturesquely situated on the eastern side, and near the source of the river Chelmer, 6 miles north of Dunmow, 6 miles E.S.E. of Newport Station, on the North-Eastern Railway; 7 miles S.E of Saffron Walden, and 18 miles N.N.W. of Chelmsford. Its market, formerly held on Fridays, was discontinued about 35 years ago; but it has still two annual fairs on the Monday before Whitsuntide, and on August 10th, for cattle, &c. Its extensive parish contains 2527 inhabitants, and 6219 acres of land, forming the north end of Dunmow Hundred, and comprising many scattered farm-houses, &c., and Bardfield End, Boyton End, Wood End Green, Cutler's Green, Richmonds Green, Monk Street, and Sibleys Green, where there are small but straggling assemblages of houses, at the distance of 1 to 2½ miles from the town. The town has many good houses and well-stocked shops, and some fine specimens of old domestic architecture. The direct road from Chelmsford to Saffron Walden and Cambridge passes through it, but the railways have drawn all the coaches and much other traffic off this route. Thaxted was formerly a borough, governed by a mayor, bailiff, and chief burgesses, incorporated by a charter of Philip and Mary, which was confirmed by Queen Elizabeth, with a grant of additional privileges; but all these were tamely given up, either through fear or poverty, by the corporate officers, who, on being served with a quo warranto, in the reign of James II., thought fit to retire from their offices in silence. From a visitation of the heralds in 1637, it appears to have had at that time a mayor, recorder, two bailiffs, and about 20 principal burgesses, of whom ten had passed the mayoralty. Some years ago, an unsuccessful attempt was made to revive the weekly market, to be held on Thursday instead of Friday. The earliest account of the town is in the Monastican, which informs us that Clare College, in Suffolk, founded by Eluric, in Edward the Confessor's time, had the church of Thaxted. At that time the lordship belonged to Wisgar, but it was taken from him by the Conqueror, who gave it to Richard Fitz-Gislebert, with other large possessions in this county, and the barony of Clare, in Suffolk. From the latter his family took the name of De Clare, and were Earls of Clare, till 1295. In the reign of Edward II., Lord Bradlesmere having married the eldest daughter of Thos. de Clare, obtained this lordship, and had liberty of free warren, and of holding an annual fair on the eve, day, and morrow of St. Luke. After the death of his son, Giles, the manor was equally divided among his four daughters, all married into noble families. Three parts of the estate became the property of the Earl of March, and were re-united to the honor of Clare; and the remaining fourth descended to the De-spencers, and took the name of Spencer's fee. On the marriage of Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV. to Henry VII., the honor of Clare reverted to the Crown, and it was settled by Henry VIII., on Katharine, of Arragon, afterwards his Queen; who, in 1514, granted the manor and borough of Thaxted to Sir John Cutts, Kt., whose grandson, becoming embarrassed, was obliged to vest it in trust, in 1599, with Thomas Kemp, who had previously puchased the estate of Cobham's fee, in this parish. Thaxted soon afterwards became the property of Sir Wm. Smijth, Kt., of Hill Hall, from whom it has descended to Sir E. B. Smijth, Bart., the present lord of the manor, and owner of a great part of the parish; and of Horeham Hall, a handsome brick mansion in the castellated and Tudor styles, occupied by his son-in-law, Captain Jodrell, and delightfully situated about two miles S.W. of the town. This mansion is an interesting specimen of the style of domestic architecture which succeeded the ancient castellated mode; but it was considerably altered and modernized about four years ago. There is still at one end of it a large embattled tower, and the chief front exhibits a great variety of architectural forms; though the large bay windows, onamented gables, &c., shew that it was built either a little before or early in the reign of Elizabeth. The manor of Horeham, or Horeham Hall, was held of Queen Katherine, of Arragon, by Sir John Cutts, Kt., who erected the mansion, and held the estate as of the Queen's honour of Stambourne. RICHMONDS, another manorial estate in this parish, was held by the Beale family, who sold it and Thaxted Lodge, about 1720, to Guy's Hospital, London. Other estates in this large parish, called Fitzralphs, Vernors, Stanfold Garden, Gerdelay, &c., belong to Viscount Maynard and a number of smaller proprietors.

The CHURCH is a very large and beautiful structure, which appears from the various arms and cognizances in several parts of it to have been built at different times in the 14th century. Its dedication seems unknown, as it is ascribed by different authors respectively to the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist, and St. Lawrence. The whole fabric is embattled, and supported by strong buttresses, terminated by canopied niches, and curiously purfled pinnacles. Below the niches in each buttress, is a singular or grotesque head, with a spout issuing from the mouth to carry off water from the roof. The windows are mostly large, and pointed; and many of them are ornamented with tracery and painted glass, but the latter is much broken and otherwise defaced. The north porch is richly ornamented with sculpture, and the cornice and upper part are charged with various figures and devices. At the west end is an embattled tower, sustained by butttresses, and terminated by a neat octagonal spire, rising to the height of 181 feet. The circumference of the entire building, including the projections of the buttresses, is 345 yards. Its length is 183 feet, and its breadth 87. The interior consists of a spacious nave, transept, chancel, and side aisles. The arches of the nave are pointed, and supported by eight clustered columns on each side. The chancel is neat, and displays various cognizances of Edward IV., who contributed towards its erection. The most ancient part of the building is supposed to have been erected by Lady Elizabeth Clare, daughter of Gilbert, surnamed the Red, and his wife, Joan of Acres, daughter of Edward I. Wm. de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, and son of Lady Clare, built the nave, previous to the year 1340. His son-in law, Lionel, Duke of Clarence, erected the south porch, between the years 1362 and 1368. The north aisle and north part of the transept, were raised about 1380, by Edmund, Earl of March, who was much celebrated for his skill in architecture; and it is observed that these portions of the church are most distinguished for superior elegance and taste, displayed in the ornaments and disposition of the parts. The chancel was begun by one of the Earls of March, but completed by Edward IV., who is also thought to have been at the charge of the north porch. Edmund, the last Earl of March, who died in 1424, is supposed, from the arms on some of the arches, to have built the tower, which was intended to have been erected at the intersection of the nave and transept, but probably this design was abandoned from a fear of injuring the other parts of the building by its weight. The church underwent considerable repairs during the last century. In the summer of 1814, the spire was considerably injured by lightning, and scaffolding was erected at the cost of nearly £400 for taking down the damaged part, of which 46 feet had been removed, when, on the 16th of Dec. following, a violent storm arose, which threw down the scaffolding, and the remaining part of the spire. The body of the church was also very considerably damaged, but was completely repaired, and the spire rebuilt in 1822, at the cost of more than £1000, by Mr. Cheshire, of Over-Whitaker, near Coleshill, in Warwickshire. Nothing has so much improved the appearance of the interior of this noble church as an elegant window of stained glass, at the east end, executed by Mr. Egginton, and given by the present Vicar. The ceiling of the whole church exhibits abundance of carved work, with representations of martyrdoms, legends of saints, grotesque physiognomies, and animals. The pulpit and font are fine specimens of ancient workmanship. A chantry, valued on the suppression, at £11. 19s. 6d. per annum, and twenty obits, besides various altars and chapels, existed here in Roman Catholic times. The rectory, with the estate called Prior's Hall, was appropriated to the College of Stoke by Clare, and was granted by Edward VI. to his preceptor, Sir John Cheeke. It afterwards passed to the Howard and Petre families, and some of the latter sold it to an ancestor of Viscount Maynard, the present impropriator. who is also patron of the vicarage, valued in K.B. at £24, and in 1831 at £450. The Rev. Thos. Jee, M.A., the present worthy incumbent, was inducted in 1806, and has a good residence, but only about two acres of glebe. The tithes were commuted in 1842, rectorial for £1184. 11s. 5d., and the vicarial for £460 per annum. The vicar has also £100 a year from Lord Maynard's Charity, as afterwards noticed.

In the town is an old Friends Meeting House, used only for the quarterly meetings of the society. Here is a large Independent Chapel, built 1771, and having 1100 sittings; and there is a small Baptist Chapel at Mile-end, and another in Park street, the former built in 1813. The old building called the Guildhall, is now used as the Boys' Free School, and for public meetings, &c. Here is also a Girl's Free School, and the parish has various estates and funds vested for Public and Charitable Uses, as noticed below.

The TOWN ESTATE was vested in trust, for the general benefit of the inhabitants, as early as the reign of Henry VIII., and now consists of Yardley's Farm, 183 acres, let for £150, and the Pest House, let for £5 per annum. Out of this income about £40 is applied in the repairs, &c., of the church, and £40 in repairing the highways. The trustees also pay yearly about £37 a year to the master of the school, held in the Guildhall, for teaching 30 freescholars; and £16 to a schoolmistress, for teaching 20 poor girls, who are also occasionally supplied with clothing. The estate is subject to a quit-rent of 18s. 1d. to the manor of Horeham Hall.

LORD MAYNARD'S CHARITY:- In 1698, Wm. Lord Maynard left £4000, to be laid out in the purchase of tithes and glebe lands, and the proceeds thereof to be applied yearly as follows:- £100 for increasing the maintenance of the vicar of Thaxted; £10 towards repairing the church; and the residue in apprenticing poor children, in marrying poor virgins, in setting up poor apprentices to trades, after attaining their majority, and in relieving poor people overburdened with children; or in other like charitable uses. With the sanction of the Court of Chancery, £2500 of this legacy was laid out in 1702, in the purchase of the impropriate Rectory of Potton, in Bedfordshire; and the remaining £1500 was vested in the purchase of the Manor of Gifford's, and its demesne lands, now called Clopton House Farm, in the parishes of Wickhambrook and Depden, Suffolk. The parish of Potton was inclosed in 1814, when allotments of land were awarded in lieu of the tithes. A new scheme for the future administration of this charity was sanctioned by the Court of Chancery, in 1827, and during 10 or 12 years of previous litigation, the unapplied income of the charity was suffered to accumulate, and was invested in the purchase of stock, now consisting of £3117. 3s. 5d. three per cent. Consols. The other property, now belonging to the charity, consists of a farm of 258A., at Potton, mostly awarded in lieu of tithes, and now let for £300; Clopton House Farm, (157A.,) let for £100, and the Manor of Gifford's, which yields in fines, profits of courts, and quit-rents, only about £10 per annum. The total yearly income of the charity is about £503, which is applied as follows:- £100 to the vicar; £30 to the receiver; £40. 13s. 6d. for land tax; £10 in beautifying the church; about £130 in distributions among the heads of large poor families; £72 in apprenticing poor children; £45 in setting up the apprentices in trades; £54 in marriage portions to poor virgins, and the remainder in incidental expenses. The vicar, parish officers, and the trustees have the administration of the charity, and the latter, as well as the receiver, are appointed by the donor's heir-general, now Sir A. G. Hazlerigge, of Nosely, Leicestershire.

Various Charity Lands, &c., were vested in trust, in the 16th and 17th centuries, for the use of the poor parishioners, by the wills and gifts of persons, named Pattersall, Wilton, Rayner, Haywood, Ellis, Moore, Aburforth, Collin, and Humfrey. This property is now managed by a body of trustees appointed in 1832, and comprises fifteen parcels of land, &c., let at rents amounting to about £130 per annum; and an Almhouse, formerly a Chantry House, but now occupied rent-free by 16 poor aged persons, who are maintained partly by the parish and partly by donations from the funds of the various charities. The rents are applied yearly as follows, viz., £13. 13s. in weekly doles of bread; £57. 4s. in weekly stipends of 1s. each to 22 poor aged widows; £7. 16s. in shares of 6d. each per week to six other widows; £1. 15s. to the said six widows for clothing; £11. 14s. in shares of 9d. each per week to six poor aged men; £2. 10s. in a distribution of bread, on the 5th of November; £6. 7s. 6d. for the use of the church; and the remainder is absorbed in incidental expenses. Messrs. John Morgan, Rev Thomas Jee, Wm. Hockley, Robert Fitch, John Webb, J. H. Brand, T. Brand, and others were appointed trustees in 1832.

Queen Elizabeth resided for some short time at Horeham Hall, in this parish, before her accession to the throne, and afterwards visited it on her progress through this part of the country. She is said to have given the annual sum of £5. 13s., now secured by a debenture in the Exchequer, and paid to the churchwarden of Thaxted, for distribution in coats to seven poor aged parishioners. Some histories have ascribed this gift to Henry VIII. Wm. Bendlowe, in 1571, charged Bardfield Place Farm with the yearly payment of £3 for the poor people in the almshouses at Thaxted. The condition of many of the labourers of this parish has been much improved by 24 acres of land, let to them by Viscount Maynard, in small allotments, at moderate rents. Thaxted Provident Benefit Society, though only established in 1847, has already about 60 honorary and 150 ordinary members; the latter of whom, by small monthly contributions, make a provision for weekly relief in sickness and old age. Mr. J. Frye is secretary of this useful institution.


 The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales...., by John Marius Wilson. circa 1866

BARDFIELD (GREAT), a village and a parish in Dunmow district, Essex. The village stands on Blackwater river, 9 miles NW of Braintree r. station. It has a post-office under Braintree, and a fair on 22 Jan., and is a seat of petty sessions; and it formerly was a market town. The parish comprises 3,689 acres. Real property, 6,715. Pop., 1,065. Houses, 259. The property is subdivided. the living is a vicarage in the diocese of Rochester. Value, 262. Patron, the Rev. B.E. Lampet. The church is good and has a brass of a female. A free school and other charities have 72.

FINCHINGFIELD, a village, a parish, and a sub-district, in Braintree district, Essex. The village stands on an affluent of the river Pant, 5 miles ENE of Thaxted, and 612; SW of Yeldham r. station; and has a post-office under Braintree. The parish comprises 8,387 acres. Real property, 14,455. Pop., 2,441. Houses, 531. The property is much subdivided. The manor was held, in the reign of Edward III., by John de Compes, for the service of turning the spit at his coronation. A few acres are under hops. The straw-plait trade has employed many of the inhabitants, but recently underwent depression. The parish is a meet for the East Essex hounds.. The living is a vicarage, and another charge called St. John's is a p. curacy in the diocese of Rochester. Value of the vicarage, 733; of the p. curacy, 100. Patron of the former, the Rev. J. Stock; of the latter, the Bishop of Rochester. The churches of both are good; and there are an Independent chapel, and charities 111.

LITTLE LONDON, a hamlet in Finchingfield parish, Essex; 2 miles N of Finchingfield village.

SAMPFORD (GREAT), a village and a parish in Saffron-Walden district, Essex. The village stands on the river Pant, 3¾  miles NE by N of Thaxted, and 5¾  SW of Birdbrook r. Station; and has a post-office under Braintree, and a fair on Whit-Monday. The parish comprises 2,224 acres. Real property, £4,119. Pop., 865. Houses, 192. The manor appears on record as a domain of Edward the Confessor. The manufacture of straw plait is carried on. The living is a vicarage, united with Hempstead, in the diocese of Rochester. Value, £255. Patron, Lady Eustace. The church is ancient. There are a Baptist chapel, and charities £7.

SAMPFORD (LITTLE), a parish in Saffron-Walden district, Essex; on the river Pant, 3½ miles ENE of Thaxted, and 6¼  SSW of Birdbrook r. Station. Post-town, Finchingfield, under Braintree. Acres, 1990.. Real property, £3,878. Pop., 477. Houses, 100. Sampford Hall is the seat of Sir W. Brown, Bart. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Rochester. Value, £494. Patron, New College, Oxford. The church consists of nave, N aisle, and chancel, with tower and spire. Charities, £13.

Transcribed by Noel Clark


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