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White’s History, Gazetteer & Directory of Essex ~ 1848

Submitted and Transcribed by Essex Villages

BIRDBROOK, a pleasant village, on the bold eminence, near the chief source of the rive Colne, 10 miles N.W. of Halstead, and 4 miles S.E. of Haverhill, has in its parish 557 inhabitants, and 2330 acres of land, including the small village of Baythorn End, on the high road, and on the south bank of the Stour, 2 miles N.E. of the church, and 3 miles from Haverhill and Clare.  It has several neat mansions and scattered farm houses, and the soil is generally a strong wet loam, and partly a deep sandy loam.  The surface is well wooded, and picturesquely broken into hill and dale, and the views from some of the summits are extremely beautiful.

The executors of the late Sir W. B. Rush are lords of the manor, but the greater part of the soil belongs to J. P. Elwes, King Viall, A. Fitch, W. Gibbons, G. W. Gent, F. Bailey, and H. Gurney, Esqrs., and a few smaller owners.  Baythorn Hall, an old mansion near the Swan, is the property of King Viall, Esq., who also owns the larger and more elegant mansion of Baythorn Park, which has extensive grounds, and stands on a bold acclivity above the river Stour, but is now unoccupied.  The latter was built in 1668 by George Pyke, whose father purchased the estate in 1640, and whose descendant, of the same name, took down the gate and court walls in 1801, and new-fronted, sashed, and greatly improved the house.  The park was formerly stocked with deer and has some fine large trees, especially several large oak pollards.  A clump of alders in the hall gardens are much admired, each being about seven feet in girth, at the height of five feet from the ground.  Several of the farm houses in this parish are fine old mansions, and that on the Moat farm is encompassed by a moat.  That called Herksted Hall, now belonging to G. W. Gent Esq., was the seat of the Walfords, who purchased the Whitley estate in 1657, and greatly improved and beautified the pleasure grounds and gardens.  Human bones have been dug up on Chadwell and Honex farms, and in other parts of the parish, and with them several Roman urns were found.

The Church (St. Augustine,) is a small ancient structure, without aisles, but having a tower, containing three bells, and crowned by a small wooden spire.  It was thoroughly repaired in 1793 and the two following years.  The handsome font, and the fine painting of Jesus baptised of John in the river Jordan, were given by the late T. Walford, Esq.

The rectory, valued in K. B. at £19, and in 1831 at £500, is in the patronage of Clare Hall, Cambridge, and incumbency of the Rev. Jph. Cape, M.A., who has a good residence, and 89a. 2r. 22p. of glebe.  The tithes were commuted in 1843 for £600 per annum.  As noticed with Finchingfield, this parish is entitled every fifth year to the rent of Messings Farm, left by Ann Cole, in 1730, and now let for £54 per annum.  The rent received by Birdbrook parish is applied in schooling poor children.  Martha Blewit, who died in 1681, had nine husbands.

Marked * are at Baythorn End.

*Post-Office, at Mrs Farrant’s, - Letters desp. 4½ aft. via Halstead

Butcher Ann, shopkeeper

Cape Rev. Joseph, M.A. Rectory

*Courtney Rev. W. P. curate

Davey Joseph, horse dealer

*Farrant Eliz. shopkeeper & smith

*Fitch Joshua Ambrose, miller, Water Mill; house Wixoe

*Hills Mrs Mary

Ralling Charles, machine owner

Ralling Robert, bricklayer

*Unwin Joseph, vict. Swan Inn



Cowling Jacob, Herksted Green

Fitch Ambrose G. Eagle Farm

Payne Henry, Moat Farm

Pool John, Upper House

Ralling Charles, Chadwell

Ralling George, Wash Farm

Rider Thomas, Herksted Hall

*Sharp Henry, Whitley Farm

Smoothy John, Birdbrook Hall

Smoothy Samuel, Bailey Hill

Unwin Henry, Messings Farm

*Viall Simon Quye, Baythorn Hall


Beer Houses

French John

Leach Wm.

Ralling Charles

Sorrell Wm.



Hunniball Chas.

Ralling Wm.

*Smee John



French John

*French John


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

BIRDBROOK, a parish in the district of Risbridge and county of Essex; on the Halstead railway, 2 and ½ miles SE of Haverhill; and has a station on the railway. Post-town, Bumpstead-Steeple under Halstead. Acres, 2,386. Real property, £4,947. Pop., 643. Houses, 143. Birdbrook Hall was formerly a seat of Sir W.B. Rush. Baythorn House was built in 1668. A Roman camp occurs at Watson Bridge; and a large tumulus at Ford Meadow; and a number of Roman urns, coins, and other relics have been found. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Rochester. Value, £600. Patron, Clare Hall, Cambridge. The church is a neat substantial edifice; and contains the remains of martha Blewitt, who was the wife of successively nine husbands, and died in 1681.

Transcribed by Noel Clark


BIRDBROOK is a parish and pleasant village on the south bank of the Stour and near the Colne, having a station 1 mile north of the village on the London and North Eastern railway, 10½ miles north-west from Halstead, 4 south-east from Haverhill, and 59 by rail from London, in the Saffron Walden division of the county, Hinckford hundred, North Hinckford petty sessional division, Bumpstead rural district, Cambridge county court district, and in the rural deanery of Belchamp, archdeaconry of Colchester and Chelmsford diocese. The church, lately assigned to St. Augustine, is an ancient building, consisting of chancel, nave, south porch and a western tower of wood, with spire, and containing 3 bells: the chancel is in the Early English style: in the tower are inscriptions to Martha Blewitt, of Baythorne End, in this parish, buried 7th May, 1681, and the wife of nine husbands, of whom the last survived her; and to Robert Hogan, of this parish, the husband of seven wives, the last of whom he married 1 Jan. 1739: the church was restored in 1881-9 at a cost of £2,000, under the direction of Mr. Frederick Chancellor: there are 200 sittings. There is a stone cross in the churchyard in memory of the men who fell in the Great War, 1914-18. The register dates from the year 1633, and there is a complete list of rectors from 1364. The living is a rectory, net yearly value £643, with 56 acres of glebe and residence, in the gift of Clare College, Cambridge, and held since 1910 by the Rev. Alfred Young M.A.,LL.D.,Sc.D. (late) fellow of that college and rural dean of Belchamp. Near the church are some barrows: on the east side of Hunnock’s Lane Roman remains have been discovered, and at Wixoe is a camp. The Church Sunday school has a residence attached, and is under the superintendence of the rector. Baythorne Park is the residence of Maj. Bertrand R. R. and Mrs Rambaut. The trustees of the late Daniel Gurteen esq. of Haverhill (d. 1894), are lords of the manor. Mrs. B. R. R. Rambaut, who is lady of the manor of Baythorne End, John P. E. Walker esq. who is lord of the manor of Moyns Park, George Ernest Unwin esq. and John Chapman esq. are the principal landowners. The soil is mixed; subsoil, clay and gravel. The chief crops are wheat, barley and beans. The area is 2,072 acres, in cluding the hamlet of Baythorne End; which is about 2 miles north-east from the church and 1½ south from Stoke station, in Suffolk, on the London and North Eastern railway; the population in 1931 was 417.

By Local Government Board Order 16,608, dated March 25, 1885, Herkstead Hall, Herkstead Green and Messings were transferred from this parish to Steeple Bumpstead.

Post, T. & T. E. D. Office. Letters via Halstead. The nearest M. O. office is at Stamboorne

Post & Tel, Call Office, Baythorne End. Letters from Halstead. The nearest M. O. & T. office is Stoke-by Clare (Suffolk)

Railway Station (L. & N. E)


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