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Stow-Market (St. Peter and St. Mary)

STOW-MARKET (St. Peter and St. Mary), a market-town and parish, and the head of the union of Stow, in the hundred of Stow, W. division of Suffolk, 75 miles (N. E.) from London; containing, with the chapelry of Gipping, 3136 inhabitants. This place is very ancient, and at the time of the Norman survey was called Thorna or Thorne Market, the former term being derived from the Saxon divinity Thor, and ea, water, in allusion to the adjoining river. It was afterwards named Stow-Market, from its being the market for the hundred of Stow. Two churches are mentioned in Domesday book as existing here. The town is the most central in the county, and is situated at the confluence of three rivulets which form the river Gipping, on the road from Ipswich to Bury and Cambridge. It consists of several streets, for the most part regularly built, and lighted with gas; many of the houses are handsome, and the inhabitants are supplied with water from land springs and wells. The commercial interests of the town are essentially promoted by its locality, and have been much improved by the Gipping being made navigable to Ipswich, under an act obtained in 1790. From the basin extends a pleasant walk, about a mile in length, passing through the extensive hop plantations in the neighbourhood. The trade consists chiefly in the making of malt, for which there are more than twenty houses, and which is rapidly increasing; corn, malt, and flour are largely exported to London, Hull, Liverpool, and other places. A brewery has been established, and there are small manufactories for rope, twine, and sacking; a patent saw-mill; and three iron-foundries, one of which is also used for making agricultural implements. By means of the navigation to Ipswich, timber, deals, coal, iron, salt, oil-cake, and slate, are brought for the supply of the central parts of the county. Here is a station of the Ipswich and Bury railway, 12 miles from Ipswich, and 15 from Bury; and an act was passed in 1846 for a branch from this railway hence, to Diss and Norwich, 31 miles long. The market is on Thursday, and is for corn, cattle, and provisions: a building for a corn-exchange and readingroom, which is also used on public occasions, has been erected at a cost of £3000, raised by shares of £25 each. A fair is held on August. 12th, chiefly for lambs; and on July 10th is a pleasure-fair. The county meetings are held in the town; and the magistrates hold a petty-session every alternate Monday. The powers of the county debt-court of Stow-Market, established in 1847, extend over part of the registration-district of Stow.

The living is a discharged vicarage, with that of Stow-Upland annexed, valued in the king's books at £16. 15.; patron, incumbent, and impropriator, the Rev. A. G. Harper Hollingsworth. The great tithes of Stow-Market have been commuted for £89, and the vicarial for £185; the glebe contains 6 acres, with a house, in the grounds of which is a fine mulberry-tree planted by the poet Milton, while on a visit to Dr. Young, the vicar. The church was rebuilt about the year 1300 by the monks of St. Osyth, Essex, who then held the advowson; it was enlarged in 1838, and is a spacious and handsome structure in the centre of the town, partly in the decorated and partly in the later English style. The building consists of a nave, chancel, and aisles, with a square embattled tower, surmounted by a slender wooden spire of tasteful appearance, 120 feet in height, which was erected from the proceeds of a legacy left in the reign of Anne. At the east end of the south aisle is the Tyrell chapel, separated by a carved screen, and containing interesting monuments to that family. There are places of worship for Baptists and Independents; and several benevolent institutions for the relief of the poor, who also receive about £260 per annum from bequests made at different periods. The union of Stow comprises 34 parishes or places, and contains a population of 19,675. In a stone-pit near the entrance to the town, the tusks and bones of a species of elephant have been found. A spring in the parish is slightly impregnated with iron. Dr. Young, tutor to the poet Milton, and master of Jesus College, Cambridge, was vicar of the parish from 1630 to 1655, and was interred here.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.