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MARKET TOWNS OF ESSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Great Dunmow in 1837

Dunmow, or Great Dunmow, is in Dunmow hundred, on the south-west bank of the river Chelmer, 38 miles from London by Epping, Harlow, and Hatfield Broad Oak ; 40 by Chigwell, Abridge, and Ongar ; and 42 by Chelmsford, Great Waltham, and Barnston. Great Dunmow is considered by some antiquaries to have been the Roman station Caesaromagus, which others fix near Widford, two miles south-west of Chelmsford. A number of Roman coins of different emperors, have been found here. It is on a Roman road, crossing the county from west to east from Hertford to Colchester.

Dunmow is pleasantly situated on an eminence, and consists principally of two streets. The market-cross in the centre of the town was erected in 1578, and repaired in 1761. The church stands a considerable distance from the main portion of the town : the houses adjacent to it form a group called Church End. It is a spacious building, with an embattled tower at the west end ; it has some portions in the Decorated English, and some in the Perpendicular style, the east window, which is very fine, is of Decorated character. There are meeting-houses for Independents, Baptists, and Quakers.

The area of the parish is 7,910 acres ; there were in 1831, 499 inhabited houses, and 2,462 inhabitants: nearly one-half of the population is agricultural. The manufacture of baize and blankets, formerly carried on, has been given up ; some sacking and coarse cloth are made. The market, which according to one of our latest authorities has been discontinued, was on Saturday.

The living is a vicarage of the yearly value of £421, with a glebe-house, in the archdeaconry of Middlesex. There is an alms-house for six poor persons.

About two miles east of Great Dunmow is the village of Little Dunmow (population in 1831, 378), where was a priory of Augustine canons, founded in 1104 by the Lady Juga, sister of Ralph Baynard, the then lord of the manor. Its yearly value at the dissolution was £173, 2 shillings and 4 pence gross, or £150, 3 shillings and 4 pence clear. The monastic buildings are now razed, and the site partly occupied by the manor house. The priory church was a large and stately fabric, partly in the decorated English, partly in an earlier style of architecture : the roof was sustained by pillars, having capitals ornamented with oak leaves elegantly carved. Some of these remain in the part now used as the parish church. The well-known custom of the ‘flitch of bacon’ was connected with the manor of Little Dunmow.

Easton Lodge, the seat of Viscount Maynard, is situated on high ground in a spacious park about two miles north-west from Great Dunmow. It is a venerable pile of the Elizabethan period and style. In the returns of schools made to parliament for 1833, no account is given of those at Great Dunmow, except that there was a national school for girls, containing 103 scholars ; and that a national school for boys, suspended from various causes at Christmas, 1832, had at the time of the suspension an average attendance of 75.