A History of the County of Essex: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1983.
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SOUTH WEALD AND BRENTWOOD
The Ancient parish of South Weald, comprising 5,089 a. (2,059.5 ha.), lay at the northern end of Chafford hundred, about 30 km. northeast of London. (fn. 1) The soil is mainly London Clay, with Boulder Clay in the north and Bagshot Beds in the east. This was an ancient forest area, as the name Weald indicates, and it is still well wooded. It was sparsely settled until the 12th century, when a township began to develop along the London-Chelmsford road at Brentwood, where a chapel was built in or after 1221 and a market was opened by 1227. From the 17th century Brentwood 'hamlet', which included the town and the adjoining rural areas to the north and west, was virtually independent for civil purposes, and in 1837 it became a separate district chapelry. Brentwood urban district, formed in 1899, was conterminous with the chapelry, covering 460 a. It was enlarged in 1934 to 18,269 a. (7,393.4 ha.) by the inclusion of the whole of South Weald, Hutton, and Ingrave, and parts of 12 other parishes, and in 1974 became part of the new Brentwood district, which has an area of 36,378 a. (14,722 ha.).
This article is in two parts, dealing separately with South Weald and with Brentwood, as it existed up to 1934, except as follows. The manor of Costed, which included Brentwood, will be found under South Weald, 'Manors', and the agrarian history of Brentwood under South Weald, 'Economic History'. On the other hand, the sections on Brentwood's 'Public Services', 'Roman Catholicism', and 'Protestant Nonconformity' apply to the whole of the ancient parish of South Weald. Some information relating to Brentwood is contained in the South Weald introduction. The Brentwood part of the article includes references to a few buildings on the Shenfield side of the ancient parish boundary.