Putting Halstead on the Map
21 June 2016
Halstead residents are invited to come and see original records stored at the Essex Record Office (ERO) tracing the development of their community over time.
The timeline of maps and images will be a unique one-day only opportunity for residents to explore the history of this unique Essex market town. The ‘Halstead on the Map’ event will take place at Queen’s Hall, Chipping Hill, Halstead on Saturday 2 July, 10.30am-3.00pm.
Halstead has a particularly active local history society, with whom the event is being jointly organised. Adrian Corder-Birch, Patron of the Halstead and District History Society, said: “Members of Halstead and District Local History Society are delighted to welcome representatives of the Essex Record Office to Halstead with early original maps of the town. A variety of local history books will be on sale at the event, which promises to be of great interest to everyone.”
Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Finance, with responsibility for Heritage, Culture and the Arts, said: “The ERO houses some incredible and significant records of our local history and it’s important that we bring them out and show them off. Outreach events such as these offer residents an exciting insight into their community from days gone by, and are always worthwhile attending.”
About 6 miles north east of Braintree, Halstead sits on an intersection of the roads between Colchester and Cambridge, and Chelmsford and Bury St Edmunds.
Some of the main features of the town can be traced back to Saxon times, but it really started to grow and take shape in the 15th and 16th centuries due to the woollen trade. Weaving became one of the main sources of local employment, and the town is perhaps best known for its long association with Courtaulds, producing silk and crepe.
The historic core of the town centres around St Andrew’s church and the market, with the steep High Street running from the church down to the River Colne. There are still a number of historic buildings in the town, each with their own stories to tell.
The oldest map which will be on display dates from about 1625, and was made for the owner of the Bois Hall estate. Bois Hall stood on the Sudbury Road, and is shown on the map highly enlarged, to highlight its importance. The house was built in the sixteenth century (although an earlier substantial property also stood on the site), and after being considerably altered over the centuries was demolished in the 1960s. Bois Hall Gardens, an estate of modern housing, was then developed on the site.
The map shows other buildings in an enlarged form, including ‘Towne Forde Mill’; a building still stands at Townford Mill, and is today used as an antiques shop.