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White’s History, Gazetteer & Directory of Essex ~ 1848
Submitted and Transcribed by Essex Villages
RIDGWELL, or Redgwell, a pleasant village, built round a large green, on a commanding eminence near the sources of the river Colne, 4 ½ miles S.W. by S. of Clare, and 12 miles N. of Braintree, has in its parish 753 souls, and 1663 acres of land, including several scattered houses, and the detached hamlet of Ridgwell Norton, more than 3 miles W.S.W. of the church. In the fourteenth century, Ridgwell had a weekly market on Tuesdays, and a fair on St Lawrence’s day, but they have long been obsolete.
The manor, with a great part of the soil, belongs to St. John’s College, Cambridge, for which it was purchased in 1521, by the executors of the Countess of Richmond and Derby, the foundress of that extensive college. G. Nottidge, Esq., T.S.Ewer, Esq., and several smaller owners have estates in the parish, mostly free and partly copyhold. The latter are subject to certain fines. The farm called Three Chimneys, belongs to Queen’s College, Cambridge.
The old farm-house called Causeway is surrounded by a moat. Essex Farm has been held by the Blendet, De Essex, Weld, and Brock families. Hill Farm was anciently held by the Pannel family, and is now the residence of Mr. W. Gibbons. The Roman road from Colchester to Cambridge passed through the parish, and many Roman coins, tiles, tesserae, and the remains of a villa, were discovered in 1794. A plan of the villa was published in the Archaelogia. Traces of the Roman road were very distinct in 1790 in this and neighbouring parishes; and in Sturmer is a large tumulus. Among the coins found at various periods in this neighbourhood, are several of Octacilia Severa, Nero, Vespasian, Domitian, Trajan, Carausius, Constantine the Great, and other emperors.
The Church (St. Lawrence,) is a large and handsome stone fabric, with a nave, chancel, and north aisle, and a square embattled tower, containing six musical bells. The roof of the nave is leaded and richly carved, and on the south side is a large porch. There was a chapel on the north side, but it was taken down by order of the Bishop, in consequence of a dispute between the lord of the manor and the parishioners respecting the keeping it in repair. The wife of William de Munchency gave this church to her nunnery, at Waterbeach, in Cambridgeshire.
At the dissolution, the rectory was given to Catherine Hall, Cambridge, to which it still belongs, together with the patronage of the discharged vicarage, valued in K.B. at £10, and in 1831 at £192, and now in the incumbency of the Rev. Francis Forster, M.A., who has a good residence, built in 1841, and 125 acres of glebe, partly purchased with £200 of Queen Anne’s Bounty, and £200 was given by the patrons and the Revs. M. Cook and J. Johnson.
The tithes were commuted in 1840, the rectorial for £420, and the vicarial for £136 per annum.
Here is an Independent Chapel, belonging to a congregation formed in 1662, under the ministry of the Rev. Daniel Ray, an ejected nonconformist minister. Its burial ground was enlarged in 1848, and its Sunday school is attended by 100 children. Several small charities belonging to this parish are lost.
Post Office at Wm. Fitch’s. Letters received and desp. by Halstead & Haverhill mail gig.
Allen George, blacksmith
Battram Henry, vict. King’s Head
Bridge Rev. Samuel, (Indept. Min,)
Brown Joseph, bricklayer
Bowman Wm. painter, plumber, &c
Forster Rev. Fras. M.A. Vicarage
Paul John, gent. Richmond Place
Ward Allen, wheelwgt, & blacksmith
Wood Mr John
Farmers ( * are Owners.)
Chaplin John, (Executors of,) Three Chimneys
*Chaplin Joseph, New House
*Cock Joseph, Town Farm
Coppin Henry, West-end
*Fitch Wm. (& butcher,) Town Farm
Fitch Wm. jun. II Coldham Wm.
*Gibbons Wm. Hill Farm
Giblin Charles, Ridgwell Hall
Sharp George, Essex Farm
Shelly Pp. (Exors.of,) Norton
Smoothy Mrs. Causeway
Yeldham John, Norton
Bartrup Wm. (& parish clerk)
Hemstead Henry Kimmances
Newling John T., (& beerhouse)
Straw Bonnet Makers
KELLY'S DIRECTORY OF ESSEX 1933
RIDGEWELL, or Ridgwell, is an ancient village and parish on the high road from Colchester to Cambridge, 2 ½ miles south-east from Birdbrook station, 3 miles north-west from Yeldham station and 2 south-east from Stoke station on the London and North Eastern railway, 4 south-west from Clare, 5 south-east from Haverhill and 10 north-west from Halstead; it is in the Saffron Walden division of the county, Hinckford hundred, North Hinckford petty sessional division, Halstead rural district and county court district, and in the rural deanery of Belchamp, archdeaconry of Colchester and Chelmsford diocese: near the church is a fine spring, or well, which, with the Ridgeway, gives the place its name: the river Colne rises in this parish, and in the centre of the village is a green. The church of St. Lawrence is a building covered with plaster, in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, with north aisle, nave of four bays, with clerestory, south porch and an embattled western tower containing a clock and 5 bells: the chancel retains a piscina and sedilia, and is divided from the nave by the remains of a fine 15th century oak screen: the pulpit is Late Jacobean: the staircase to the rood loft still exists and is entered through the north aisle: the church was restored in the year 1871; there are 250 sittings. The register dates from the year 1500. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £157, with residence, in the gift of St. Catharines College, Cambridge, and held since 1919 by the Rev. Basil Claude Cann M.A. of that college. Here is a Congregational chapel, founded in 1662, rebuilt in 1859, and seating 600. Many Roman and Welsh coins and antiquities and the foundations of a Roman villa have been found here. In 1318 Ridgewell had a market and fair. The Master and Fellows of St. Johns College, Cambridge, who are lords of the manor, St. Catharines and Queens Colleges, Cambridge, and the exors. of Jabez Gurteen are the chief landowners. The soil is loam, clay and gravel; subsoil, boulder clay. The chief crops are wheat, barley, potatoes and seeds. The area is 1,410 acres; the population in 1931 was 357.
By Local Government Board Order 16,612, March 25, 1885, a detached part of this parish known as Ridgewell Norton was transferred to Stambourne.
Post, T. & T. E. D. Office. Letters from Halstead. The nearest M. O. office is at Stambourne
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