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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The early agricul- tural history of Chappel was similar to that of neighbouring parishes, scattered acres and half- acres of land being consolidated and inclosed in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Hospitallers received 3 a. lying together in Pilecroft field c. 1225. (fn. 1) By 1482 Bridgehall field (then c. 12 a., but 16 a. in 1530), near the Colne on the east of the Tey road, had been divided and inclosed. (fn. 2) In 1483 a total of 6 a. lying in parcels was con- trasted with a 4-a. close, part of the same hold- ing, although all the land was apparently inclosed; another holding was made up of 10 parcels in 1593. (fn. 3) Early holdings of c. 40 a. and c. 25 a., like the freehold Flemings on Great Tey manor and the customary Paynters (later Spendpenny farm) on Crepping manor, may have been yardlands or half yardlands. Flemings had been split by 1388-9 when a field called Flemings Netherfield was held separately; it was further divided in 1418-19. (fn. 4)
Many of the sheep and cows recorded on Crepping manor in the Middle Ages presum- ably grazed on the extensive meadow along the Colne in Chappel; (fn. 5) 18 bullocks trespassed in the lord of Great Tey's meadow in 1412. (fn. 6) The lord of Crepping's Hollemeadow, recorded in 1482, seems to have been the later Chappel meadow. (fn. 7) Swartepool meadow, recorded in 1483, was on the north bank of the Colne, near the later Broom House. (fn. 8) In 1810 there were four common meadows: Reymead (recorded in 1413), Chappel common meadow which was still divided into strips in 1840, Quarter or Squatter meadow, and Colne mead. (fn. 9) The Great Tey manor court distributed 1-a. and 2-a. parcels of Colne meadow in 1522, and in 1523 assigned a day to 'have the division' of Bridgehall meadow. (fn. 10)
Bots tye on the Colchester road, recorded from the late 13th century, was common pasture for Crepping manor. (fn. 11) Cocks tye or green, in Oak Lane near the modern Observatory cot- tages, recorded from 1307, was presumably also permanent grass. (fn. 12) It had been encroached on by 1650 and inclosed by 1774. (fn. 13)
In the 16th century, cattle, sheep, and swine were kept, but arable farming probably pre- dominated, the crops including wheat and white peas. (fn. 14) By 1695 an 8-a. close had become a hop ground, and there was a 2-a. hop ground on Oak farm c. 1810. (fn. 15)
Britricswood, recorded c. 1148, was presum- ably the later Brightwood or Brickeswood field (4 a.), south of the Colne on the western parish boundary. (fn. 16) The wood had probably been cleared by 1402. (fn. 17) There was wood on the Bacons estate in 1374. (fn. 18) Hickmore Fen (22 a.) was wood or alder carr in 1593 and wood in 1810; (fn. 19) it survived in 1999. Wick grove, near the eastern parish boundary by 1810, also survived in 1999; in 1948 it contained a 1-a. willow plantation. (fn. 20)
In 1810 the parish contained c. 802 a. of arable, c. 86 a. of meadow, c. 59 a. of pasture, and c. 33 a. of wood. (fn. 21) The proportions of arable to grass and wood were similar in 1841 when the arable was measured as 838 a., the meadow and pasture as 152 a., and the wood as 34 a. (fn. 22)
In 1832 Pattocks farm (64½1/2; a.) was cultivated on a four-course system of (1) fallow or summer tilled, part sown with turnips or coleseed (oilseed rape), (2) barley or oats laid down with good clover, (3) clover ley or peas or beans, and (4) wheat. A similar rotation had apparently been followed in 1818; then tares were allowed on the fallow, but rape (presumably wild rape or charlock), mustard, and other pernicious seeds were forbidden. (fn. 23)
In 1841 there were 14 farmers and 90 farm labourers in Chappel; their numbers declined steadily throughout the century as farms were consolidated and machinery, some of it probably hired from a business at Bots Tye, came into use. In 1851 the 9 farmers employed only 59 of the 77 labourers in the parish; by 1871, when the 7 farms employed 69 men, only 59 labourers lived in the parish. In 1891 there were only 48. Women worked chiefly as tambour lace-makers, 17 in 1861, 23 in 1871, and 19 in 1891; others were dressmakers, tailoresses, and straw- plaiters, and one, in 1871, was a crepe weaver. Farmers employed 13 of the 21 domestic ser- vants in 1841, but by 1891 most of the 21 servants worked for the retired and other independent people who had moved into the parish. (fn. 24)
Until the mid 19th century Chappel was culti- vated in 20-30 small farms, many of which extended outside the parish. The largest in 1841 were Popes (127 a.) and Bacons (117 a.), (fn. 25) in 1851 Blowers (280 a.). In 1861 Broom House, farmed by Golden Goodey, covered 320 a., Blowers 226 a. By 1871 Goodey's Broom House farm had grown to 513 a., and another Golden Goodey held Pattocks (130 a.). In 1881 Broom House (950 a.) and Pattocks (400 a.), both still farmed by the two Golden Goodeys, dominated the parish, and they probably continued to do so in 1891. (fn. 26) The Goodeys died in 1892 and 1899, and their farms were broken up. (fn. 27) By 1914 W. H. Partridge had built up an estate of 286 a., including Vernons and Bacons farms. It was sold in 1915, and in 1929 was still the only farm in the parish over 150 a. In 1933 George Percival, who had farmed at Pattocks from c. 1902, farmed over 150 a., probably including land in Great Tey, but he had retired by 1937. (fn. 28)
By 1905 there were 226 a. of permanent grass and a further 40 a. of clover, sainfoin, and grass in rotation, compared with c. 450 a. of arable. The main crops were wheat (122 a.), barley (64 a.), and oats (58 a.). Mangolds were grown on 37 a., peas on 35 a., beans on 33 a.; small quantit- ies of buckwheat, potatoes, turnips and swedes, kohl rabi, rape, and rye were also grown. (fn. 29) Chappel Oak farm specialized in seed-growing in 1899. (fn. 30) In 1915 Vernons, Broom House, and Bacons farms contained c. 125 a. of grass, and Broom House was a potential stock or dairy farm. In the mid 20th century Vernons farm was a dairy farm with 120 a. of pasture and 40 a. under barley. Old Hall (c. 96 a., mainly in Chappel although the house is in Wakes Colne), was also a dairy farm, with c. 88 a. of permanent grass, in the 1970s. (fn. 31) Popes farm (90 a.) grew sugar beet, potatoes, wheat, and barley in the 1960s. (fn. 32) Viaduct farm (230 a.) was farmed on a rotation of wheat, barley, and pulses. (fn. 33) In 1999 the parish was still mainly agricultural, under arable and grass. The main crops were wheat, barley, rape, and linseed, with small quantities of borage and echium. (fn. 34)
There was a tenter croft in Chappel Street c. 1480. (fn. 35) Weavers were recorded in 1539 and 1576, and spinsters in 1574, 1591, and 1603. (fn. 36) A shop in the parish in 1589 may have been a workshop for a weaver or the glover recorded in 1603, but in 1639 a spinster traded illegally as a grocer, and in 1663 a tailor sold linen, woollen, grocery, and small wares. (fn. 37) There were usually one or two butchers, grocers, chandlers, or shopkeepers in the parish in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and there were wheelwright's and shoemaker's shops in the Street in 1810. (fn. 38) Two butchers' shops in the Colchester road, with slaughter houses, worked into the earlier 20th century. (fn. 39)
In 1753 the lord, presumably of Crepping manor, ordered a free cattle fair to be held at Bots tye on its usual day, the Tuesday after 21 June, (fn. 40) but by the later 18th century the fair had moved to the Tuesday after 11 June. (fn. 41) By c. 1830 it was a toy fair. (fn. 42) Nineteenth-century fairs were held in Chappel Street or on Play Place. Although the fair was formally abolished in 1872, it continued as a pleasure fair until 1901 or later. (fn. 43)
A house called the Tilekill or Tilekiln in 1657 was occupied by a joiner in 1713. (fn. 44) The contrac- tors opened a new brickfield to make bricks for the viaduct in 1847. It was within a mile of the viaduct, presumably at Ryelands (near the west- ern parish boundary) or Bots tye, where brick- makers worked in 1851. (fn. 45) In 1871 Joseph Beard at Bots tye was a builder, his son Joseph a brick- layer. In 1891 there were 2 builders (one of them the younger Joseph Beard) at Rose Green, and 2 bricklayers and 3 carpenters elsewhere in the parish. In 1898 Beard's buildings included a sawmill. In 1851 five labourers and a porter worked on the railway; in 1891, three labourers, 3 porters, and a signalman. (fn. 46) A light engineer- ing or furniture factory built on the north side of Colchester Road c. 1978 closed in 1998. (fn. 47) Tatams agricultural and general engineers were established at Spendpenny farm, Swan Street, by 1978, (fn. 48) and were still in business in 1999.
The half mill in Crepping in 1066 and the mill held by five sokemen in 1066 and by Richard son of Gilbert de Clare in 1086 may both have been in Chappel. (fn. 49) About 1200 Walter of Crepping bought a moiety of Scuttede mill from Gilbert of Fordham. (fn. 50) If that mill was on Little Fordham manor in Aldham, it may have been the one on the Aldham boundary whose mill stream survived c. 1810 and which had given its name to Mill field by 1436. (fn. 51) The mill stream was directly south of Vernons, which suggests that the mill may also have been that which John son of John Vernon held in 1335. (fn. 52) Vernon's mill was not certainly recorded after 1335, and may have been the old mill, east of Chappel bridge, which had been demolished by 1427. (fn. 53)
The other mill may have been the mill, then owing a rent to Bury St. Edmunds abbey, which Alan of Crepping gave to his son Walter in 1232. (fn. 54) It was probably beside Chappel bridge, where John at mill diverted a watercourse in the 1340s. (fn. 55) A mill there was leased to a tenant in 1409, (fn. 56) and was presumably the Crepping mill repaired in 1447, and farmed for 15s. in 1456-7 and for 13s. 4d. in 1457-8. (fn. 57) It seems to have been demolished before 1506. (fn. 58)
There was a Windmill croft in the 1530s, presumably the one east of Bots tye called Windmill Hill in 1573 and 1839, (fn. 59) but there is no record of the windmill itself.