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MARKET TOWNS OF ESSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Ongar in 1837

Ongar, distinguished as Chipping Ongar from another parish of the same name (High Ongar), is in Ongar hundred, near the right or west bank of the Roding, and the left or east bank of the Cripsey brook, just above the junction of these two streams : it is 21 miles from London by Woodford bridge, Chigwell, and Abridge ; or 24 miles by Epping.

A castle was built here by Richard de Lucy, one of the principal nobles of the time of Henry II : the keep stood on the summit of a lofty artificial mound. The castle having become very ruinous, was, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, pulled down, and a brick house was built by the then owner of the place on the site of the keep. This house was demolished in 1744, and a large summer-house, of castellated architecture, built in its room. The moat which surrounded the keep, and other earthworks of the castle, still remain. The sides of the mound are planted with trees and shrubs.

The town chiefly consists of one long and wide street, extending from the bridge over the Cripsey brook, up the slope and along the brow of a hill. The church, which is in a central situation, is a small neat structure : the windows are remarkably small, so as to resemble the loop-holes of a castle. The church contains a monument of Jane, one of the daughters of Oliver Cromwell. Many Roman bricks have been worked into the building, and the foundations of Roman buildings are said to have been dug up in the churchyard. The principal road from Londinium (London) to Camulodunum (Colchester) is supposed by some to have passed this way, though others make it pass near or through Romford and Chelmsford. The town is within the area of an ancient entrenchment, which may still be traced on its different sides. It was anciently called Ongar ad Castrum, perhaps with reference to this entrenchment. There is an Independent meeting-house.

The area of the parish is 480 acres : the number of inhabited houses in 1831 was 134, and the population 798, of which a small proportion is agricultural. The market is on Saturday.

The living is a rectory in the archdeaconry of Essex, of the yearly value of £127, with a glebe-house.

There were in 1833 nine boarding or day-schools, with 140 scholars ; and two Sunday-schools, containing 95 children. One of the day-schools is endowed.

High Ongar, which is on the other side of the Roding, is a much larger parish than Chipping Ongar, and had in 1831, a population of 1,205, chiefly agricultural.