Dedham (St. Mary)

DEDHAM (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Lexden and Winstree, Colchester division of the hundred of Lexden, N. division of Essex, 7 miles (N. E. by N.) from Colchester; containing 1787 inhabitants. This parish, which is bounded by the river Stour, and intersected by the rivulet Blackbrook, comprises about 2530 acres; the land is generally elevated, and of superior quality. The village is situated in a picturesque valley on the river, over which is a good bridge, and consists chiefly of one street: it had formerly the privilege of a market on Tuesday; there is a fair for toys on Easter-Tuesday. The clothing-trade flourished here so early as the reign of Richard II., but has wholly declined, and the place is now only remarkable for the number of genteel residences in its vicinity. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £10. 0. 2½., and in the patronage of the Crown, in right of the duchy of Lancaster; net income, £170. The church is a spacious structure in the later English style, with a lofty embattled tower at the west end, crowned by octagonal turrets richly pinnacled: it appears to have been built on the site of a more ancient foundation, of which there are still some remains; beneath the arches are the roses of York and Lancaster, and on the east side of the battlements is a statue of Margaret, Countess of Richmond. Annexed to the church is a lectureship, which, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, was endowed with the great tithes by the Rev. William Burkitt, then lecturer, the able and learned commentator on the New Testament. The free grammar school was built by Dame Jane Clarke, prior to 1571, when it was endowed by William Littlebury with a farm of 180 acres, in augmentation of which William Cardinal, in 1593, bequeathed land now let for £60 per annum, for the maintenance of two boys in St. John's College, Cambridge: the governors were incorporated by charter of Queen Elizabeth, in 1574. William Littlebury also founded and endowed an English school, and some almshouses.

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

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