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Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire

Historical Description

Bishops-Stortford, formerly a borough, now a market and union town and parish, standing on the river Stort, on the Essex border of the county of Herts, with a station on the G.E.R., and is 14 miles ENE of Hertford, and 32½ NNE of London. A castle was built here by William the Conqueror, and given to the Bishops of London, but was resumed and destroyed by King John. Bishop Bonner used the ruin as a jail, and burnt a martyr on Goose Green. The town stands partly on the side of a hill, consists principally of four streets, in the form of a cross, and contains many respectable buildings. It is governed by a local board of 15 members, has its own water-works at Maze Green, contains a head post, money order, and telegraph office, and is the head of a petty sessional division and county court district. The corn exchange was built in 1828, has a handsome Ionic front, and contains a large public hall. The parish church of St Michael is Later English, spacious and elegant, and has a lofty tower and spire. It was thoroughly restored, and a north aisle was added to the chancel in 1869, and further improvements were made in 1884 and 1888. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St Albans; net yearly value, £282 with residence, in the gift of the precentor of St Paul's Cathedral. Holy Trinity Church was built in 1859, and is in the Early English style. The living is a vicarage; net yearly value, £210 with residence, in the gift of the Vicar of Bishops-Stortford. There are also a Congregational chapel built in 1860, a Wesleyan chapel built in 1867, a Baptist chapel, a Salvation Army hall, and a place of meeting for the Society of Friends. The town is very well provided with schools, the more important being the Grammar School, or as it is now called the High School, founded in 1557, allowed to decline in 1768, and revived in 1850; the Nonconformist Grammar School, opened by a limited company in 1868; and the Nonconformist High School for girls, opened in 1871. There is also a Diocesan Training College for the training of 62 schoolmistresses, erected in 1851 at a cost of over £14,000. It was enlarged and a chapel added in 1878, and again enlarged in 1890. The town contains Conservative and working-men's clubs. Sir Henry Chauncey, the author of the " History and Antiquities of Hertfordshire," was educated at the Grammar School of Bishops-Stortford. The workhouse, a building of brick and stone, erected at a cost of about £12,000, has accommodation for 450 persons. The church estates produce about £130 a year for church purposes, and there are almshouses for five women, and several fuel, bread, and money charities. The chief occupations of the town are malting, brewing, brick-making, lime burning, and the business arising out of the weekly market for horses, cattle, and provisions, which is held every Thursday. Two weekly newspapers are published. The river Stort has been made navigable from Bishops-Stortford to the Lea at Roydon, The parish comprises 3272 acres of land and 13 of water; population of the civil parish, 6595; of the ecclesiastical, Holy Trinity—Newton, 2415; and St Michael, 2640. Hockerill vicarage is a separate benefice. See HOCKERILL.

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 CountyHertfordshire 
Ecclesiastical parishStortford Bishop St. Michael 
Poor Law unionBishop-Stortford 

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

Church Records

Findmypast, in association with the Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies have the Baptisms, Banns, Marriages, and Burials online for Bishops Stortford

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Bishops Stortford from the following:

Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Hertfordshire is online.


Online maps of Bishops Stortford are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

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

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Hertfordshire, 1572 and 1634. Edited by Walter C. Metcalfe, F.S.A. is available on the Heraldry page.