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MARKET TOWNS OF ESSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Halsted in 1837

Halsted is in Hinckford hundred, on the north-east bank of the river Colne, and on the road from London by Bury to Norwich, 46 miles from London, and 17 from Chelmsford. It is supposed that a market was established here in the Saxon times : a hill at the upper end of the town, on which for several centuries it was held, retains the name of Cheping hill.

The town stands on the slope of a gravelly eminence, rising from the river, and consists of the main street along the Norwich road, and some other streets. The church is near the centre of the town. It is a large edifice, capable of accommodating 1,200 persons, and consisting of a nave, chancel, and side-aisles, chiefly in the Perpendicular English style : the chancel is in the Decorated style, with a good window of five lights, and others of two lights. There is a tower at the west end surmounted by a wooden spire, the third that has been erected on the same tower, two previous ones having been destroyed by lightning. There are places of worship for Independents, Baptists, and Quakers. There is a house of correction at Halsted.

The parish comprehends an area of 6,230 acres; and had, in 1831, 989 inhabited houses, and 4,637 inhabitants: about three-eighths of the population was agricultural. The silk manufacture is carried on to a considerable extent : the manufacture of baize and other light woollens has been discontinued. There is a market on Friday, one of the principal in the county for corn and occasionally for cattle and other livestock. Some hops are grown round the town.

The living is a vicarage, of the yearly value of £390, with a glebe-house, in the gift of the bishop of London : the minor canons of St. Paul’s are the impropriators. There was a college of priests at Halsted before the Reformation ; the foundation was for eight, but it is doubtful there was ever the full number. The revenue at the dissolution was £26, 5 shillings and 8 pence per annum gross, or £23 16 shillings and 5 pence clear.

There were in Halsted, according to the returns made to parliament for 1833, ten infant or dame schools, with 150 scholars ; four day-schools, one supported by voluntary contributions, containing 40 children, and three others with 100 children; and four Sunday-schools, with 695 scholars. There is a grammar-school, founded by Dame Mary Ramsey, for 40 poor children of Halsted and Colne Engaine (a neighbouring parish), which is not distinctly mentioned in the return.

At a house in this parish is a Greek inscription, brought from a village near Smyrna. where it was erected one hundred and fifty years before Christ, to the honour of Crato, a musician.

Near Halsted are the remains of the ancient manor-house of Stansted Hall.