Birch, Great And Little (St. Peter)
BIRCH, GREAT AND LITTLE (St. Peter), a parish, in the union of Lexden and Winstree, Colchester division of the hundred of Lexden, N. division of Essex, 5¼ miles (S. W.) from Colchester, containing 794 inhabitants. The parish is supposed to have derived its name from the Saxon signifying a bridge, in reference to a bridge over a brook, now called Hickford bridge. It comprises 3028 acres, by measurement; the soil is various, consisting of dry loam resting on clay marl of a whitish colour, and of heavier mould resting on brown clay. Birch Castle was fortified against Henry III. by Sir Ralph Gernon, then lord of the manor: there are still some remains. The living is a rectory, with that of Little Birch (formerly a parish valued in the king's books at £5. 6. 8.) united, valued in the king's books at £11, and in the gift of the Bishop of London, and C. Round, Esq.: the tithes of Great Birch have been commuted for £574, with a glebe of 57½ acres, and those of Little Birch for £210, with a glebe of 14½ acres. The church is a small edifice, with a spire of shingles. When the church of Little Birch became a ruin, several of the monuments in it were removed to Earl's Colne.