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MARKET TOWNS OF ESSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Thaxted in 1837

Thaxted is in the hundred of Dunmow, 44 miles from London by Harlow, Hatfield Broad Oak, and Dunmow. This is a very ancient place, and probably existed in the time of the Saxons. It was incorporated by charter of Philip and Mary, and its government vested in a mayor, bailiffs, and chief burgesses : but the corporation became extinct in the time of James II, the corporate officers having retired from their offices on being served with a Quo Warranto. The town is irregularly laid out ; its chief ornament is the church, which is in the centre of the town, and is one of the finest in the county. It is mostly in the Perpendicular English style, and consists of a nave and chancel with side aisles, transept, and tower at the west end. The nave is not so wide as either of the side aisles, from which it is separated by eight clustered pillars on each side with pointed arches. The windows are mostly large, and many of them are ornamented with tracery and painted glass, but the latter is much broken and otherwise defaced. The north and south porches are richly ornamented with sculpture. The tower is sustained by buttresses, and is embattled, and terminated with a very rich crocketted spire, supported by flying buttresses. Most of the buttresses of the aisles have fine pinnacles, and are enriched with panneling. The height of the tower and spire is 183 feet, which is also the length of the church : the breadth of the church is 87 feet. It is supposed to have been built in the fourteenth century. There are at Thaxted meeting-houses for Quakers, Independents, and Baptists. There is a free grammar-school, which contained, in 1833, 30 boys on the foundation and 30 others whose education was paid for by their parents. Upon the same foundation 20 girls were educated at another school.

The population of Thaxted parish (which comprehends 5,890 acres) was, in 1831, 2,293, more than half agricultural. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Middlesex, of the yearly value of £450, with a glebe-house. The market, which had been long disused, was revived about the close of the last century, but was not much attended, and has since been again discontinued. There are two fairs in the year. There are several almshouses in the place, and the benefactions to the poor have been very considerable. Near Thaxted is the ancient hall, Horeham-hall, the seat of Sir William Smith : it is a castellated gothic mansion partly covered with ivy.