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MARKET TOWNS OF ESSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Billericay in 1837

Billericay is in the hundred of Barstable : it appears in one ancient record, under the name Beleuca, which is probably a variation of the old word Baleuga or Banleuga (in French Banlieu), the territory or precinct round a manor, or borough. The town stands on an eminence on the road leading from London, through Brentwood, to Rochford and Southend. In Camden’s time the market was considerable, but for a long time past it has been much decayed. The town has been much improved of late years by a number of good houses, and from its situation commands a beautiful prospect over the valley which extends southward to the Thames. It is in the parish of Great Burghsted or Bursted, the church of which is about a mile and a half or two miles south of the town. There is a chapel in Billericay, supposed to have been founded in the fourteenth century : the tower, which is surmounted by a leaden spire, may be of that date, but the body of the chapel is of more modern origin. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Quakers.

The inhabitants of the parish of Great Bursted, in 1831, were 1,977, of which about two-fifths were engaged in agriculture. There is a weekly market on Tuesday. There are scarcely any manufactures. The living is a vicarage, with the chapel of Billericay annexed. By the Education Returns of 1833, there were in the parish twelve day and five boarding-schools with 260 children, and two Sunday-schools with 171 children. One of the day-schools, with 49 scholars, has a small endowment. There is a parish alms-house for poor women.

At Blunts-walls, near Billericay, are some earth works, the remains of a ditch and rampart, enclosing an area of about four acres : within the area were some artificial mounds, now chiefly levelled. Some remains of Roman pottery, several Roman copper coins and two silver coins, one of Trajan and one of Adrian, have been found in the neighbourhood.