Chigwell (St. Mary)

CHIGWELL (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Epping, hundred of Ongar, S. division of Essex, 6 miles (S.) from Epping, and 12 (N. E.) from London; containing 2059 inhabitants. This place was originally within the bounds of the great forest of Waltham, and in ancient records is styled Cingwella, supposed to imply the King's Well, a purgative spring here, from which its present name is derived. In the adjacent forest was a royal mansion, designated Potteles, or Langfords, the only memorial of which is preserved in the name of the site, King's Place Farm. The parish comprises 4522 acres, and, with the exception of 700 acres of common or waste, consists of land in a high state of cultivation, and of great fertility; the scenery is pleasingly rural, embellished with rich woods and thriving plantations; and in the immediate neighbourhood are several handsome seats and villas. The village consists principally of one long street, on the road from London to Ongar and Dunmow, and contains many substantial houses. At a distance of a mile to the south-east of the church is a range of detached villas and good houses, called Chigwell Row, forming one of the most populous and respectable parts of the parish. From these dwellings, and particularly from the top of Hog-Hill House, a hunting-seat, built by Sir James Tylney Long, Bart., is a splendid panoramic view, embracing St. Paul's Cathedral, the line of the Thames for many miles, Norwood, Shooter's Hill, Greenwich Hospital and Park, Woolwich Arsenal, and a large portion of the county of Kent down to Gravesend. The air is very salubrious, owing to the elevated position of the parish, and the inhabitants are noted for longevity. A road made across Hainault Forest from Chigwell Row to Romford, by subscription, in 1809, affords great facilities for traffic to the agriculturists and others of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, and Bucks, to the great market of Romford. Rolls Park, in the parish, was purchased by Eliab Harvey, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, and was the residence of his descendant, Admiral Sir Eliab Harvey, K.G.C., who distinguished himself in the battle of Trafalgar, when his own ship, the Téméraire, was boarded by two French ships, both of which, after a severe struggle, were captured and taken in tow as prizes.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £18; patron, the Prebendary of St. Pancras, in the Cathedral of St. Paul, London. The great tithes have been commuted for £900, and the vicarial for £500; the impropriator's glebe contains 56½ acres, and the vicar's nearly 11 acres, and there is a glebe-house. The church is an ancient structure, exhibiting in the south entrance and other parts some remains of early Norman architecture, with a wooden belfry and spire. On the north side of the chancel is an effigy in brass of Dr. Samuel Harsnet, many years vicar of the parish, and successively Bishop of Chichester and of Norwich, and Archbishop of York, who was buried here in 1631; on the south side is a monument in alabaster to the memory of Thomas Coleshill, an officer in the courts of Edward VI., Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, and inspector of the customs at the port of London, who died in 1595. There are several other ancient monuments. St. John's chapel at Buckhurst Hill, consecrated in April, 1837, is an elegant building erected at a cost of about £2000, raised by subscription, including a grant of £200 from the Incorporated Society; the site was given by the lady of the manor, Mrs. Hatch Abdy, of Claybury Hall, who died in 1838, and to whom a monument has been erected in the chapel. The living is in the gift of the Bishop of London. At Chigwell Row is a place of worship for Independents. In 1629, Archbishop Harsnet founded two free schools, one for the Greek and Latin languages, the other for writing and arithmetic, and endowed them with the impropriate rectory of Tottington, in Norfolk, now yielding a gross income of £340 per annum. William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, was educated in the school.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.