BRENTWOOD, a district chapelry and market-town, in the parish of South Weald, union of Billericay, hundred of Chafford, S. division of Essex, 11 miles (S. W.) from Chelmsford, and 18 (E. N. E.) from London, on the road to Norwich; containing 2362 inhabitants. The name, which is of Saxon origin, signifies a burnt wood; the woods that once occupied the site having been burnt down. The hamlet comprises by computation 395 acres. The town is pleasantly situated on a commanding eminence, and consists principally of one street; the houses are in general ancient, and irregularly built: the inhabitants are supplied with excellent water from wells. Races take place occasionally on a common near the town. There are cavalry barracks at Warley, about a mile and a half distant. A large ale and porter brewery and malting establishment was established about 30 years since; the produce is chiefly for home consumption, and about 5000 quarters of malt are annually sent to London. The Eastern Counties railway runs near the town; the station here is of red brick, and in the Elizabethan style. The market, lately revived, is on Saturday; the fairs are on July 18th and Oct. 15th, and are for horses and cattle. Courts leet and baron are held by the lord of the manor of South Weald: pettysessions for the division take place every Thursday; and the assizes were formerly held here. The powers of the county debt-court of Brentwood, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Ongar, and part of that of Billericay. A portion of the old town-hall has been converted into shops.
The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £124, with a residence; patron, Christopher T. Tower, Esq. The old chapel, dedicated to St. Thomas à Becket, was originally founded early in the thirteenth century, by David, Abbot of St. Osyth, and is now used for a national school, a new chapel having been erected by a grant from the Incorporated Society, and by subscription; it is a plain edifice, with lancet windows. There is a meeting-house for Independents, and the Roman Catholics have chapels at Pilgrim Hatch and Thorndon Hall. The free grammar school was founded and endowed in 1537, by Sir Anthony Browne, Knt., and is open to all boys residing within three miles of Brentwood; the income arising from the endowment is £1452, which is paid to the master, subject to an allowance of £10 per annum each to five alms-persons, and to the expense of keeping the school premises and almshouses in repair. An exhibition of £6 per annum to Caius College, Cambridge, was founded by Dr. Plume, with preference to Chelmsford, Brentwood, and Maldon. The Roman station Durositum is supposed to have been situated in the vicinity.