A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.
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AGRICULTURE. In the late 11th century the single demesne manor operated as a mixed farm. By 1086 a third plough had been added to the two recorded in 1066; they were probably served by the small number of servi recorded in both years. Sheep had increased from 40 to 100, rounceys from 2 to 10, and swine from 25 to 30, although cows had fallen from 5 to 3. The large number of bordarii (24) recorded in both 1066 and 1086 may indicate former assarting, or perhaps some industry or trade. Tenant farming seems to have stagnated between 1066 and 1086 when the number of villani fell from 7 to 5 and tenant plough-teams from 10 to 5. Nevertheless, the value of the manor had remained at £12, including 30 a., presumably of free land, worth 10s. and held by Gerold. (fn. 1) The manor's economy had apparently changed little by 1166 when it was stocked with 18 oxen and 6 draught horses (presumably 3 plough-teams of 6 oxen and 2 horses each), 24 cows and a bull, 16 heifers, 160 sheep, and 31 pigs. The manor's value had risen to £19 11s. 4d. (fn. 2)
In 1329 the demesne of Dedham Hall manor comprised 140 a. of arable worth 4d. an acre when sown, and 24 a. each of meadow, pasture, and underwood. (fn. 3) The arable had declined to 104 a. and its value per acre had halved by 1369, (fn. 4) and the demesne had shrunk further to 100 a. of arable, 16 a. of pasture, 20 a. of meadow, and 12 a. of underwood by 1382. (fn. 5) It had apparently revived somewhat by 1427 when there was 130 a. of arable, c. 37 a. of meadow, and 8 separate pastures. (fn. 6) In 1383 the manor had 22 cows whose lactage was leased, and grew rye and oats, (fn. 7) the same crops sown on the Overhall and Netherhall and Faites and Wades demesnes in the late 14th and the early 15th century. (fn. 8) Barley was recorded on Sir John Fastolf's Dedham lands in 1456. (fn. 9)
When Campsey priory's manor of Netherhall was established in 1240 it received a moiety of Dedham's land, although the manor house and 60 a. were excepted from the partition and retained by the lord of Dedham Hall. (fn. 10) Much of the Netherhall demesne was kept in hand until 1409. (fn. 11) What was probably the manor's sheep-house was let for 10 years in 1414-15. (fn. 12) In 1288 the manor of Overhall had 60 a. of arable, 8 a. of meadow, and 3 a. of wood. It was held with an estate called Easthouse comprising another 40 a. of arable, 5 a. of meadow, 3 a. of pasture, and a third holding in Mile End, Colchester, with a house, 10 a. of arable, and 6 a. of pasture in Dedham. (fn. 13)
Before 1240 the single demesne manor probably had c. 90 tenants, as the moiety granted to Campsey that year included 9 freeholders and 38 villeins. (fn. 14) The division was topographic; Netherhall tenants chiefly farmed in the west of the parish, and those of Dedham Hall in the east. (fn. 15) In the 14th century the notional area of Netherhall's customary holdings was c. 490 a. and of those of Dedham Hall c. 495 a. (fn. 16) 'Ware' lands held by 37 customary tenants on Netherhall manor were apparently sub-divisions of a standard virgate unit of 30 acres. (fn. 17) There were also 27 smallholdings ranging from individual curtilages up to 5 a. 1 r., much of it demesne land leased for money rents but including three new increments of rent. (fn. 18) The basic structure of customary landholding at Dedham Hall was similar, with 31 tenants holding apparent sub- divisions of a 30-acre unit. (fn. 19) There were also 12 customary cottagers holding between 1 r. and 5 a. (fn. 20) Eight tenants held c. 25 a. on Faites and Wades in 1414, but numbers grew until the manor comprised about 20 holdings at the end of the 16th century in Dedham, Ardleigh, and Lawford, about half of them near Bargates Lane, Dedham. (fn. 21)
By the 17th century holdings had fragmented and the number of tenants and separate parcels of land had greatly increased. The 167 parcels of land on Dedham Hall manor in 1650 were held by 64 copyholders; 37 tenants held lands paying arbitrable entry fines, presumably former demesne. (fn. 22) In 1672 about 150 tenants held c. 270 holdings on the combined manor of Overhall and Netherhall. (fn. 23)
In 1240 the Netherhall villeins owed labour services, including mowing and reaping, and 2 hens at Christmas and 10 eggs at Easter. (fn. 24) By the 14th century the services included ploughing, harrowing, threshing, weeding, brush cutting, mowing, haymaking, and carrying. (fn. 25) In the later 14th century Dedham Hall's customary tenants owed very similar services, and reaping, winnowing, and carting were also recorded. (fn. 26) Their rents included hens at Christmas and eggs at Easter, and they paid a customary rent called 'Onzeld' or 'Unzeld' at Michaelmas in 1337 and 1369. (fn. 27) Netherhall manor's labour services were still being exacted between 1399 and 1404, but Dedham Hall's labour services were apparently all sold by 1412-13. (fn. 28) The inheritance custom of both manors was Borough English (ultimo- geniture), although it was usually circumvented by wills in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 29)
In the late 14th- and early 15th-century tenants of Overhall and Netherhall and Faites and Wades manors trespassed in their lords' corn with cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, and geese. On the former manor flocks comprised up to 40 sheep. (fn. 30) Low entry fines on the manor in the 15th century may suggest reduced demand for land, (fn. 31) and some consolidation of landholding had probably taken place. Three Dedham farmers, recorded in 1368-9, 1406, and 1492, each held between 40 a. and 60 a. of arable and smaller amounts of meadow, pasture, and wood. (fn. 32) Meadow land remained valuable, Dedham Hall's and Netherhall's demesne meadows being leased for large sums in the 15th century. (fn. 33) The frequency with which sheep and cattle were bequeathed by the earlier 16th century, (fn. 34) and sales of small parcels of meadow in the later 16th century, (fn. 35) might suggest growing pastoralism. Seven holdings recorded between 1555 and 1595 averaging c. 65 a. and lying mainly in Dedham and Ardleigh, presumably near the parish boundary, comprised 48 per cent arable to 24 per cent woodland, 23 per cent pasture, and 5 per cent meadow. (fn. 36)
By 1240 the demesne farms apparently held land in three common fields, Westfield, Eastfield, and Southfield (later Hallfield); Dedham Hall's arable was concentrated in the same fields in 1412-13. (fn. 39) In 1573 there were about 50 small plots or strips in an area on either side of the Black brook north of Lamb Corner suggestive of sub-divided arable. (fn. 40) Consolidation of strips had clearly begun by 1650 when parcels of land in Hall field and West field comprised between 4 a. and 20 a. (fn. 41) By the earlier 19th century the former common-field land had been consolidated into fairly large fields. (fn. 42)
Dedham Hall's bye-laws, first recorded in 1559 and repeated in 1695 and 1704, prohibited the sowing of ley lands or assarts while the common fields lay open, forbade overstocking, and apparently reserved the common arable for cattle as opposed to sheep. (fn. 43) In 1631 a tenant was fined for failing to maintain his boundary against Hall field before 1st July. (fn. 44) In 1650 Dedham Hall tenants claimed commonage in Hall field and Broad meadow from the harvest until Candlemas (2 Feb.) paying ½d. a head for cattle; the custom was valued at 20s., suggesting a total of 480 animals. (fn. 45) Tenants were obliged to use a common brand in 1695. (fn. 46) In 1704 seven Dedham labourers rioted on Hall field common to prevent the lord of the manor's officials driving off cattle, presumably illegally grazed there. (fn. 47)
In 1086 the manor of Dedham had 40 a. of meadow. (fn. 48) In 1240 Campsey priory was granted moieties of many meadows and pastures along the Stour, from Westfen in the north-west to Broad meadow in the north-east. (fn. 49) The latter (c. 27 a. in 1841) was the main common meadow. (fn. 50) In 1559 regulations for the meadow included a prohibition on the removal of hay before midsummer. (fn. 51) By c. 1625 Broad meadow was divided into c. 30 doles ranging from 1 r. to 4 a. (fn. 52) Doles survived throughout the 19th century and in 1908 averaged c. 1 a. each. (fn. 53)
The fishery in the mill pond and the river was divided between Dedham Hall and Netherhall from 1240. (fn. 54) Netherhall's fishing rights were leased in 1414-15, (fn. 55) and Dedham Hall's in the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 56) The owners of Raye island reserved to themselves a fishery and a rent of eels in 1403, (fn. 57) and a Dedham baker held liberty, presumably of fishing, in the river in 1548. (fn. 58)
There was woodland for 250 swine in 1086. (fn. 59) In 1240 Campsey priory was granted pollards and 'ancient wood' in the north of the parish, and woodland at Horsefrith and Woodgatehill in the south. (fn. 60) The latter was probably the later 'le Birchet' (c. 140 a.) north-east of Dedham Heath. (fn. 61) In 1427 Dedham Hall's 70 a. of under- wood was coppiced every 5 years, (fn. 62) and faggots from Netherhall's coppices were sold in the 15th century. (fn. 63)
Birch Woods, covering the south-west corner of the parish, was probably the large wood with pollards, common to all of the vill in 1337, (fn. 64) and the source of Dedham Hall's timber worth £100 yearly in 1382. (fn. 65) Apparently called Dedham Wood in 1427, it then contained oak and beech. (fn. 66) In 1571 Dedham Hall's share of the woods amounted to 86 a. (fn. 67) Two hundred years later the woods were sub-divided into Little Birch (c. 46 a.) and Great Birch (c. 166 a.). The wooded area had grown again to 228 a. in 1832, but all but 40 a. had been grubbed by 1870. (fn. 68) The manor of Faites and Wades had woodland in 1530, (fn. 69) and two groves called Holts in 1568 lay near Purney Heath. (fn. 70)
Thirteenth-century woodland clearance probably created the common pasture shared be tween Dedham Hall and Netherhall tenants in 1337 that was later known as Dedham Heath. (fn. 71) In 1428 it was overburdened with horses, cows, and sheep. (fn. 72) In the 16th century tenants of Dedham Hall could fell timber on their customary lands without licence, (fn. 73) but the ancient lime trees on the heath were protected from anything but coppicing or pollarding. (fn. 74) The common was reserved for the manorial tenants or house-holders or their sub-tenants, (fn. 75) although in 1570 an Ardleigh man paid ½ lb. of pepper a year for commoning rights. (fn. 76) The heath may have been predominantly grazed by sheep, perhaps providing wool for the clothiers. (fn. 77) The place-name Woodhouse and tenancies with 'woodhouses' on or near the heath, recorded from the 17th century, may suggest woodland exploitation for fuel as well as pasture. (fn. 78) Heathland water-pits recorded in a Dedham Hall bye-law of 1559 were probably for supporting stock; a series of ponds survived just beyond the heath-edge settlement lines c. 1800. (fn. 79)
About 1,000 a. on Dedham Heath, Purney Heath, and Jupes Hill, and c. 240 a. of half year or lammas lands called the Farther or Nether Commons, were inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1800. (fn. 80) The lords of Dedham Hall and of Overhall and Netherhall each received 1/16 of the allotment as compensation for manorial rights. The lecturer and vicar each received an allotment, there was a double allotment to poor people whose land was worth £5 a year or less, and discretionary payments to those whose land was worth between £5 and £10. (fn. 81) The 220 a. of improvable 'common' in 1813 was presumably heathland that had been inclosed but not improved. (fn. 82)
Grain tolls were paid c. 1740 on the Stour Navigation at Dedham for barley, oats, malt, bran, wheat, or meal. (fn. 83) Crop yields in the later 18th century were generally high for the neighbourhood at 24 bu. an acre for wheat, 32 bu. for barley, and 40 bu. for oats. (fn. 84) In 1801 the main crops were wheat (320 a.), barley (174 a.), oats (167 a.), potatoes (6 a.), peas (64 a.), beans (30 a.), tares or rape (80 a.), and rye (4 a.), but only one third of the land was arable. (fn. 85) The inclosure had apparently led to a shift from pastoral to arable production by 1841 when 1,404 a. of arable, 252 a. of meadow, and 249 a. of woodland were recorded. (fn. 86) From c. 1793 chalk was imported from pits at Little Cornard near Sudbury (Suff.) and apparently converted into lime, probably for soil conditioning, by a kiln near Le Talbooth. The kiln still operated about 1900. (fn. 87) Manure and chalk was landed at Dedham Valley farm in 1817 and its corn shipped for the London market. (fn. 88) Peas, beans, and clover seed were added to the Navigation tolls by 1842. The return cargo was coal. (fn. 89) Ryes Farm was cultivated 'according to the custom of county' in 1838, but ten years later a four-course rotation was stipulated of (1) fallow or turnips (2) oats or barley with or without trefoil or ryegrass (3) clover ley or peas or beans if clover failed (4) wheat. (fn. 90) By 1873 oats were eliminated from the second course, but a fifth shift of oats, beans, or peas had been added. (fn. 91)
The proportion of the population engaged in agriculture was lower than in neighbouring parishes; in 1841 and 1851 about 20 per cent of the adults worked as agricultural labourers. (fn. 92) In the same period the larger farms or country estates, each of several hundred acres, included Hill House, The Grove, Jupes Hill farm, Dedham Hall (Netherhall), Barrett's farm, and Boxhouse farm. Between 1851 and 1871 there were a dozen or more farms under 100 a., many of them on the former heath, (fn. 93) such as Kiddle's or Downes farm, comprising c. 46 a. next to Purney Heath in 1894. (fn. 94) In 1862 Blackbrook farm, c. 26 a. adjoining the Colchester-Ipswich road, was suitable for a cattle dealer or market gardener. (fn. 95)
Falling land values and rents at Lufkin's farm in 1895 reflected the agricultural depression of the later 19th century, (fn. 96) as did the reduction in the weekly allowance to Dunton's almspeople in 1892 because of lowered farm rents. (fn. 97) Hard conditions for the rural poor no doubt stimulated the formation of branches of the Labour League c. 1876 and Eastern Counties Labour Federation c. 1891. (fn. 98) As at Langham, farmers used old men and imported French labourers c. 1902 because young men and women were leaving for London. (fn. 99)
The local impact of the depression was partly alleviated by a burgeoning seed industry. The trade was developed c. 1860 by W. H. Dunnett (d. c. 1902), a partner in the London firm of James Carter and Co., who farmed at Jupes Hill and Hill farms. (fn. 100) In 1902 Dunnett's business had 1,500 a. under 'small culture', and in 1906 Carter's took the produce of 1,200 a. of seeds. (fn. 101) William Downes the younger (d. 1917), a farmer and seedsman, was also heavily involved in the trade. (fn. 102)
In 1894 boys picked 'nasturtiums', perhaps commercially-grown watercress as at Great Horkesley. (fn. 103) A nursery and flower garden at Southfields House in 1882 may have continued until c. 1894. (fn. 104) A single market gardener was recorded in 1841. There were three by 1902 and five between 1906 and 1908, but only one advertised in 1910. (fn. 105)
By 1905 the arable area had fallen to 1,118¼ a. compared to 877¼ a. of pasture, 15 a. of orchard, and 4 a. of woodland. The chief crops were wheat (283½ a.), oats (251¾ a.), barley (156¾ a.), mangold (113 a.), turnips and swedes (74 a.); smaller quantities of beans, peas, potatoes, cabbage, kohl rabi, vetch or tares, and fruit were grown. Livestock included 84 horses, 120 cows and 221 other cattle, 469 sheep, and 437 pigs. Only one farm was over 300 a., 11 were between 50 a. and 300 a., 15 between 5 a. and 50 a., and 17 smallholdings between 1 a. and 5 a. A higher proportion was owner occupied than in neighbouring parishes. (fn. 106)
In 1912 Birchwood farm (145 a.) apparently specialized in dairying and cattle raising. (fn. 107) Stud farm, used by a horse dealer between 1917 and 1922, had become a dairy farm by 1933. (fn. 108) Occasionally poultry farmers or dealers were recorded between 1841 and c. 1913, (fn. 109) but by the 1930s there were nine poultry farms, including Highlands, Monks, Blomfields, Old Hall, Rye, and Great Hickle farms. (fn. 110) By 1930 two thirds of the agricultural land in the parish was pasture. Poultry, dairy cattle, and pigs were especially numerous in the south of the parish, near the Colchester market. (fn. 111) The arable area increased later in the 20th century, reaching a peak of about 42 per cent in 1987, but changing E.E.C. subsidies had reversed the trend by 1991 when less than 30 per cent was arable and the remainder pasture with a little set-aside land. (fn. 112)
TRADE AND INDUSTRY.
Some trade is suggested by medieval surnames such as 'the gold-smith', 'the tailor', and 'the shoemaker' in 1240, 'the merchant' in 1319-20, and 'the chapman' and 'the bowyer' in 1327. (fn. 113) Another chapman, formerly of Dedham, owed a London mercer a debt in 1478. (fn. 114) Two butchers from Dedham were amerced for offences at Colchester's Saturday meat market in 1406. (fn. 115) Fifteen brewers, seven of them women, broke the assize of ale in 1428. (fn. 116)
The names Lininges meadow and Lininges land, and the surname of Robert the fuller, suggest that a cloth industry was established by 1240; (fn. 117) other inhabitants were surnamed Fuller and Webb (weaver) in 1327. (fn. 118) In the later 14th century the local economy was transformed by a rapid development of fulling and rural cloth production. (fn. 119) The industry was probably encouraged by the manorial lords, for by 1388 Michael de la Pole had provided a cottage and tenterfield for the fullers who leased the fulling mill. (fn. 120) Sir John Fastolf's acquisition of Dedham Hall and Overhall and Netherhall manors in the mid 15th century may have been connected to his wider interests in the wool and cloth trade. (fn. 121)
Twenty-nine Dedham men were taxed on narrow cloths called 'straits' in 1394-5, and the level of production in that year, in 1398-9, and in 1467-8 placed Dedham's trade on a par with that of Coggeshall. (fn. 122) Wool was apparently imported through Mistley in 1364, (fn. 123) but it was also obtained locally; in 1422 John Holt of Dedham and William Whitere of Horkesley, probably clothiers, bought 466 fleeces from Messing. (fn. 124) Dedham's trade was part of a regional industry centred on the Stour producing broadcloths known as short Suffolk coloured cloths. (fn. 125) By the 1430s and 1440s Dedham produced russet broadcloths for the Baltic market, (fn. 126) and broadcloth production continued in the 16th and 17th centuries, much of it exported to the continent and especially to the Baltic. (fn. 127)
The mid 15th-century downturn in the continental cloth trade was apparently reflected in falling land values at Dedham, (fn. 128) but clothmaking continued. (fn. 129) The trade was responsible for a marked polarization of wealth and many of the highest taxpayers in 1523-4 were clothiers. (fn. 130) Some clothiers also farmed, like the man who bequeathed two broadlooms, four cattle, and twenty sheep in 1511, (fn. 131) but the textile industry on its own probably explains Dedham's increasing share of the region's taxable wealth between 1334 and 1524. (fn. 132)
The names of 40 sixteenth-century clothiers are known. (fn. 133) Many tenements had tainter fields and woadhouses (dyehouses) attached, (fn. 134) and clothiers, shearmen, and weavers had 'shops', either workshops or commercial premises. (fn. 135) Dedham was among the Essex villages exempted from the provisions of the 1557 Act regulating the rural cloth industry. (fn. 136) Although a decline in trade was cited by the inhabitants when they petitioned for a reduction in subsidy in 1562-3, export figures suggest that the trade remained prosperous in the later 16th century. (fn. 137) Four overseers of cloth production were appointed in 1602, (fn. 138) and the names of another 40 clothiers are known from the 17th century. (fn. 139) Dedham clothiers had wide landed and trading connections with Suffolk clothmaking villages, (fn. 140) and with ports such as Harwich, Mistley, Manningtree, (fn. 141) and Ipswich (Suff.). (fn. 142)
Nine shearmen were recorded between 1550 and 1639, (fn. 143) a linen-draper in 1571, (fn. 144) another draper in 1615, (fn. 145) and dyers in 1615 and 1662. (fn. 146) There were many poor weavers, (fn. 147) and over half Dedham's taxpayers were assessed on wages in 1523-24. (fn. 148) In 1539 Dedham weavers joined others from Essex and Suffolk to petition against clothiers who injured them by setting up factories or by price-fixing. (fn. 149) It was alleged in 1597 that 120 poor families were unable to feed themselves in times of dearth, and barley and rye were imported from Norfolk for them. (fn. 150) Imprisonment of clothiers in 1627, 1640, and 1661 threatened unemployment and impoverishment for the rural poor. (fn. 151) In 1723 Dedham's poor were said to get a 'hard living' in the wool trade. (fn. 152)
By the early 17th century Dedham produced the bays and says of the 'new draperies', but the trade was severely affected by the mid century depression. In 1629 there were 3,000 unsold bays in Dedham and Langham; fewer than 100 cloths had been sold in 18 months. (fn. 153) In 1635 recent bankruptcies had involved the loss of £2,000, (fn. 154) and trade remained depressed c. 1638- 40. (fn. 155) In 1642 Dedham and Langham clothiers joined those of Suffolk to petition the crown about the industry. (fn. 156) Dedham was still described as a clothing town in 1656, (fn. 157) but the trade never fully recovered. By c. 1695 it was said to be 'every day sinking...', (fn. 158) and in 1768 difficulty in raising the land tax was attributed to the decay of the bay trade and falling rents. (fn. 159) After the last baymaker died in 1791 his house was advertised as suitable for conversion to a malting. (fn. 160) A small worsted yarnmaking industry which apparently began before 1777 continued into the earlier 19th century. (fn. 161)
Dedham's cloth industry provided sufficient wealth and economic stimulus for the village to develop certain urban characteristics. Although no market charter was obtained, the Tuesday market in the late 17th century which had operated 'time out of mind' was perhaps of medieval origin. (fn. 162) It occupied a typical site in the central widening of the High Street opposite the manor house and church. (fn. 163) That layout was established by the 15th century, and the central location of the Marlborough Head/Loom House complex, its demesne tenure, and the local tradition that it was once a 'wool and corn exchange', may reveal a market house. (fn. 164) It may be identified with two leaseholds 'next to the corner towards the mill', part of a group of eight 'outside the gate' of Dedham Hall that, together with three stalls by the cemetery gate, produced the large sum of £4 2s. rent in 1412-13. (fn. 165)
In 1542 church services were interrupted by chapmen selling their wares. (fn. 166) Church Gate Street and Row, recorded in the 1530s, presumably the centre of the High Street, were being used for butcher's trading in 1559. (fn. 167) In the same year Dedham Hall's bye-laws dealt with such urban nuisances as butcher's waste on the streets and the fouling of the water supply, and the duchy of Lancaster's tenants in Dedham and Langham were also granted the standard liberties and privileges for fairs, markets, and towns. (fn. 168) By 1686 Dedham's market had a public cryer and market book, but was said to be threatened by the possible cessation of the lectureship. (fn. 169) It still functioned c. 1793, but had failed by 1848. (fn. 170) A fair on Easter Tuesday, recorded in 1768, dealt in horses and pedlar's ware c. 1793, but 'pedlery' only by 1863. (fn. 171)
The variety of small tradesmen in the 16th and 17th centuries reveals a diverse occupational structure. A wealthy tailor had two houses in Dedham and left 5s. each to his apprentices in 1531, (fn. 172) and other tailors were recorded in 1538, 1582, and 1592. (fn. 173) A chandler, a shoemaker, a mercer, and two sawyers were recorded in 1592, (fn. 174) two glaziers in 1594-5, (fn. 175) a cooper in 1588, a joiner in 1613, (fn. 176) a saltpetreman in 1579, (fn. 177) a feltmaker in 1665, (fn. 178) a surgeon in 1576, (fn. 179) and glovers in 1587, 1606, and 1610. (fn. 180) A butcher was recorded in 1542, and a baker in 1548. (fn. 181) In 1606 a victualler, two butchers, and three innkeepers were licensed to sell meat. (fn. 182) Six bakers broke the assize of bread in 1666. (fn. 183) Brewers were recorded in 1597, 1612, and 1658, (fn. 184) and a vintner in 1635. (fn. 185)
In the 18th century the effect of the cloth industry's decline was apparently counter-balanced by Dedham's emergence as a genteel place with social functions. Gentry were attracted particularly by the schools, the Assembly Rooms, and the goods and services provided, for example, by a surgeon, pharmacist, brandy merchant, wig-maker, and solicitor. (fn. 186) Victualling and other trades remained buoyant and perhaps grew in the later 18th century; in 1775 there were 3 chandlers, 3 bakers, 3 butchers, 2 grocers, 2 innkeepers, and 2 victuallers. Eighteen tradesmen had their weights and measures checked in 1783, a number nearer to that in other small Essex towns such as Halstead than in rural parishes. (fn. 187)
Tradesmen in 1838 included 5 boot and/or shoemakers, 3 blacksmiths, 2 tinmen and braziers, 2 tailors, a tailor and glover, a grocer and draper, a straw bonnet maker and milliner, a milliner and dressmaker, a cabinet maker, a glass and china dealer, an ironmonger, a pastry cook and confectioner, a grocer and tallow chandler, a chemist and druggist, a wine and brandy merchant, a surgeon, 2 fire and life insurance agents, a bricklayer, a plumber, a wheelwright, 3 butchers, 3 grocers or cheesemongers, 3 bakers, a beer retailer, a horse dealer, and a corn dealer. (fn. 188) Most traded in High Street, but there were also shops and other small businesses at the hamlets at Coopers Lane, the Heath, and Lamb Corner in 1841 and 1851. (fn. 189) A branch of Gurneys, Round, Green, Hoare and Co., which opened in 1892, had become a Barclays sub-branch by 1898. (fn. 190)
About 30 per cent of the workforce in 1841 and 1851 comprised shopkeepers and small tradesmen. (fn. 191) Domestic service in the many gentle or independent households was the main female employment. Between 1841 and 1871 there were almost as many female servants as male agricultural labourers, and the number of male servants also rose until by 1891 there were 24 grooms and 47 gardeners.
Other sources of employment were the milling, clothing, and building industries. In 1851 Dedham mill and another mill in High Street, presumably steam or horse-powered, each employed twelve men. The clothing trade provided significant female employment; in 1851 there were 24 dressmakers, 12 needlewomen, 3 straw bonnet makers, 4 tailoresses, a seamstress, and a corset maker. In 1871 many needlewomen, wives of agricultural labourers, were recorded on the heath; most were probably employed as out-workers for Colchester factories.
Building workers in 1841 included 21 carpenters, 4 bricklayers, 3 plasterers, 2 plumbers, 2 sawyers, 2 thatchers, a builder, a painter, and a glazier and painter. In 1871 a building firm in High Street employed 8 men, and a cement manufacturer at Highfields Farm employed 33 men and 12 boys. N. Saunders and Son, builders, carpenters, and timber merchants, of Hallfield Works, was an important local employer from the 1870s constructing many local railway stations, Stratford bridge, and Dedham Congregational chapel, and restoring Dedham church and St. Osyth's Priory. (fn. 192) The firm closed c. 1929. (fn. 193) A Dedham Stone and Gravel Co. was recorded between 1929 and 1937. (fn. 194)
Two men, presumably brickmakers, were fined for digging up roads for clay in 1668, and a clay pit was recorded that year. (fn. 195) Thirteen acres called Claypits suggest a fairly large-scale industry by 1813. (fn. 196) The 'pot' kiln recorded in 1816 was perhaps on the site of Pot Kiln fields, Ardleigh Road, or Mount Carmel pottery, Coopers Lane, recorded in 1841. By 1861 there were 2 brickmakers at Anchor Corner, another 2 and a brick- and tilemaker on Coopers Lane, and a sixth brickmaker on Pig Lane. (fn. 197) The Saunders firm of builders, who also farmed Pound, Park, and Hallfield farms, were also brick and tile manufacturers at Park Farm, Coopers Lane, by 1866-7. (fn. 198) Their brickworks still operated in 1891 but had shut by 1923. (fn. 199)
A maltster co-owned Southfields House in 1696, and another maltster traded between 1696 and 1729. (fn. 200) Maltings were recorded in 1813 and 1823; one of those operations was perhaps at Maltings Farm, Dedham Heath. (fn. 201) Other maltsters working on the heath were recorded between 1841 and 1871. (fn. 202) Tanners were recorded c. 1575, in 1629, and 1669, (fn. 203) and Tan Yard meadow in 1737. (fn. 204) Searchers and sealers of leather were appointed in the mid-17th century to record sales, to mark leather of sufficient quality with Dedham's common seal, and to seize insufficently tanned leather or that traded outside of the market. (fn. 205)
A toy-making business at Hill House operated from 1914 to 1919. (fn. 206) A photographer was trading by 1917, and there were three motor engineers in the 1930s including Riverside and Gun Hill garages in 1933. (fn. 207) The architectural practice of Quinlan Terry, established by Raymond Erith c. 1936, expanded in the later 20th century and was one of largest employers in Dedham in 2000 employing c. 18 people mainly on national commissions. (fn. 208)
Hotels and restaurants catered for the tourist trade: the former grammar school was a private hotel from c. 1922 to c. 1937. (fn. 209) Starting at Le Talbooth in 1952, the Milsom family developed a highly successful hotel and catering business, adding the Dedham Vale Hotel in 1959 and the Maison Talbooth (formerly Hillands) c. 1990. (fn. 210) The Dedham Vale Hotel was later sold to Royal London Mutual Insurance Company, reopening as a residential training centre in 1995. (fn. 211) Birch-wood House was refurbished as a hotel in 1972, but was demolished to make way for a service station in 1987. (fn. 212) In 2000 Dedham Hall (formerly Netherhall) was a small hotel and restaurant, specializing in residential art courses, and further accommodation was available at several inns and bed and breakfast establishments.
The redundant Congregational chapel was converted into an art and craft gallery in 1984. (fn. 213) Businesses forced to close by the trade recession of the early 1990s included a china shop and Spearings, a popular grocers and delicatessen which had traded since c. 1922. (fn. 214) Nonetheless, in 2000 the village High Street still boasted a wide range of shops, including a post office and newsagent, Co-operative grocery store, a delicatessen, a tea rooms, a butchers, a ladies' clothing shop, a children's clothing and toyshop, two antique shops, a gift and florist's shop, a bookshop, an estate agents, and a chemists. Businesses scattered across the parish included building, decorating, and plumbing and heating contractors, two landscape designers, and an independent financial advisor. (fn. 215)
There was one mill in 1066 and another by 1086, perhaps a second mill under the same roof. (fn. 216) When the manor was partitioned c. 1240, the manors of Dedham Hall and Netherhall each received half the mill. (fn. 217) Dedham Hall's moiety was worth 20s. in 1329, 13s. 4d. in 1337, and only 10s. in 1369 when it was ruined. (fn. 218) The increased value of the lease to £9 6s. 8d. by 1412-13 may well reflect fulling activity which was first recorded alongside cornmilling in 1427. (fn. 219) A new mill was apparently built in the mid 15th century, (fn. 220) and a clothier held the mill's lease on his death in 1582. (fn. 221) Both corn milling and fulling continued up to 1777, (fn. 222) but only a corn mill remained in 1858. (fn. 223) The mill passed into the ownership of the Clover family in the later 19th century, (fn. 224) and in 1902 E. Clover and Co. were millers, corn and coal merchants, and farmers. (fn. 225) The old mill, depicted in a Constable painting, had been replaced during the 19th century by a building which burnt down in 1908. A new mill was erected by 1913. (fn. 226) In 1922 there were both water and steam mills on the site. (fn. 227) In the 1960s and 1970s Clovers produced flour for the biscuit trade. (fn. 228) The mill closed in the early 1980s and was later converted to luxury apartments.
In 1403 William and Gilbert Dedham granted to Roger Walden, lord of Dedham Hall, 'le Raye' island between Dedham mill and the ford, on which Roger, and Michael de la Pole, had erected a fulling mill. (fn. 229) Seven years later Roger's heir John Walden granted the island and half of the fulling mill to Campsey priory. (fn. 230) The moieties of the mill then descended with the two manors. In 1536 it was leased to two Dedham clothiers, and in 1571 the Crown's half was leased to John Dister, a London citizen who also bought the manor of Bergholt Sackville, West Bergholt. (fn. 231) The mill existed in 1620, (fn. 232) but was not recorded thereafter and was probably demolished with the decline of the cloth industry.