Halstead (St. George)

HALSTEAD (St. George), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Hinckford, N. division of Essex, 17½ miles (N. N. E.) from Chelmsford, and 47 (N. E.) from London; containing 5710 inhabitants. This town is pleasantly situated on a gentle acclivity rising from the river Colne, and on the road from London to Norwich, through Bury St. Edmund's; it consists chiefly of one spacious street, containing some handsome and wellbuilt houses, is lighted with gas, and supplied with water from springs. In the reign of Elizabeth, many of the French Protestants being violently persecuted in their own country, fled to England, and, settling at Halstead and Colchester, introduced the manufacture of baize and says, now discontinued. Large silk-crape mills were established in 1825, on the site of a flour-mill, and employ about 800 persons, mostly females. An act was passed in 1846, for effecting railway communication with Colchester. A market for corn is held on Tuesday; and there are cattle-fairs on May 6th and October 29th. Courts leet and baron take place about once a year, by the lord of the manor; and the petty-sessions for the division of South Hinckford are held here on alternate Tuesdays. The powers of the county debt-court of Halstead, established in 1847, extend over the greater part of the registration-district of Halstead. There is a house of correction, in which is a tread-mill. The parish comprises 5632a. 1r. 14p., of which 4176a. 2r. 15p. are arable, 854a. 2r. 7p. pasture, 250 acres woodland and plantations, and about 70 appropriated to the cultivation of hops: there are numerous handsome seats.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £17; patron, the Bishop of London; appropriators, the Dean and Chapter, and Vicars Choral, of St. Paul's Cathedral, under whom the great tithes are held on lease by J. G. Sparrow, Esq., and have been commuted for £1350; the vicarial tithes have been commuted for £470, and the glebe comprises 5 acres. The church is a spacious edifice, in the later English style, except the chancel, which is in the decorated style; its spire is of wood, and occupies the place of one destroyed by lightning about 90 years ago. It contains many ancient monuments, brasses, and inscriptions; and probably belonged to a college of priests, founded here in the 14th of Edward IV., and the revenue of which, at the Dissolution, was £26. 5. 8. A district parish, named the Holy Trinity, was constituted in October 1844, under the act 6th and 7th Victoria, cap. 37; it comprises part of the town, from which it extends nearly two miles. The church is a very handsome and spacious edifice in the early English style, with a spire 150 feet in height, and cost about £5000. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with £150 per annum, and in the patronage of the Bishop of London. At Greenstead-Green is a district church, dedicated to St. James, which was consecrated in Oct. 1845. It is a beautiful structure in the same style, built at the expense of Mrs. Gee, of Colne House, on a site presented by Mrs. Brewster, and has a tower which forms a conspicuous object for miles round; the fittings-up of the interior are exceedingly good, and at the east end is a window of stained glass. The total cost, including the endowment, schools, and parsonage, amounting to £8000, was defrayed by Mrs. Gee. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Bishop of Rochester. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, and Independents. A free grammar school, founded by Lady Ramsey in 1594, is endowed with a rent-charge of £20, and a house for the master. The family of Martin, in 1573, left lands producing £130 per annum, and Mrs. Holmes, in 1783, £4000 three per cents., for the benefit of the poor. The union comprises 16 parishes or places, and contains a population of 17,691. Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of Edward IV., a distinguished patron of literature, was a native of Halstead.

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