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Halstead, Essex

Historical Description

Halstead, a town, a parish, and the head of a county court district, in Essex. The town stands on a gentle acclivity, adjacent to the river Colne, and to the Colne Valley and Halstead railway, 14 miles NW by W from Colchester. It belonged, in the time of Edward the Confessor, to Earl Godwin, but at the Conquest was divided amongst several Norman chiefs. Its name is derived from two Saxon words, signifying "a healthy place" or the place on a hill. A market existed long before the Norman accession on Chip-pinghill, but afterwards was removed to the middle of the town, and it seems from early times to have been always such as to mark Halstead as a place of provincial importance. The town is irregularly built, but comprises several streets, and has undergone recent improvement. The town-hall is insufficient. The mechanics' institute, on Market Hill, has a considerable library. There is also a temperance hall and workmen's club, which was erected in 1876, and a hall at the co-operative stores used for lectures, which was erected in 1887. The town is governed by a local board of health of nine members, is thoroughly drained, and has a good water supply derived from artesian wells. The parish church is an ancient building of flint and stone in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, comprises nave, aisles, and chancel, with western tower, had a chantry, founded in 1340 by Lord Bourchier, and contains two effigies of a knight and lady of the Bourchiers. The tower, which is modern, contains six bells and a clock. Two previous spires were destroyed by lightning. The second of these was erected in 1717, and is commemorated in some lines of the poet Prior. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St Albans; net value, o£210 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of St Albans. A cemetery, on the Colchester Road, with an entrance lodge, was opened in 1856. Holy Trinity Church, at the W end of the town, was built in 1844 at a cost of £5000, and is a building of flint and stone in the Early English style. The living is a vicarage; net value, £240 with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of St Albans. There are two Baptist and two Congregational chapels, a Friends' meeting-house, Primitive Methodist and Unitarian chapels, a meeting-place of the Plymouth Brethren, and a Salvation Army barracks. There is a free grammar school, founded in 1594, and having an endowment of about, £300 a year. The charities are worth about £200 a year, and there is a cottage hospital erected in 1884, which is supported by voluntary contributions. The workhouse, built in 1838 at a cost of £7500, has accommodation for 140 inmates. The town has a head post office, a railway station, two banks, and two chief inns, is a seat of petty sessions and of county courts, and publishes two weekly newspapers. A weekly market is held on Tuesday. There is a large manufactory of silk and crape, which gives employment to upwards of 1200 people, and there are two breweries, mailings, a tannery, and a foundry. Ashford Lodge, Attwoods, the Howe, Nether Priors, Sloe House, Star Stile, and other seats are in the neighbourhood. The parish contains also the hamlet of GEEENSTEAD GEEEN, which is noticed under that heading. Area of the entire parish, 5633 acres; population, 6959. Population of the ecclesiastical parish of Halstead St Andrew, 3540; of Holy Trinity, 2869.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyEssex 
Ecclesiastical parishHalstead St. George 
Poor Law unionHalstead 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Halstead from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Essex is available to browse.

The Essex pages from the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 is online.


Online maps of Halstead are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Essex online:

Postal districtCO9
Post TownHalstead