A History of the County of Essex: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1966.
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According to its legendary history Waltham was only a 'mean hunting lodge' before Tofig founded the shrine about 1040. (fn. 1) This is misleading. Although the town probably arose as the result of Tofig's foundation, the manor of Waltham was much older than this. As described in 1086 the manor, then held by the Bishop of Durham, was a populous community, exploiting a wide variety of economic resources. (fn. 2) The total area was 40 hides. The arable land was being worked by 47½ plough-teams, of which 37 belonged to the tenants, 4½ to 6 sokemen, and the remaining 6 to the bishop. A considerable part of the manor was woodland, estimated as sufficient for 2,382 swine. There were 96½ a. meadow, an unusually large amount, most of which was no doubt by the river. Three mills and five fisheries are mentioned. (fn. 3) Livestock included 80 sheep and 40 swine. There were 36 rent-paying tenants— the only ones mentioned in Essex— compared with 20 in 1066. The value of the manor had increased from £36 in 1066 to £63 5s. 4d. (or £100 according to another estimate) in 1086.
During the 12th century most of the land in the parish came into the possession of Waltham Abbey. A rental drawn up by the abbey about 1235 (fn. 4) lists the tenants, their holdings, rents, and services in the manors of Waltham and Sewardstone. Sewardstone contained some 70 tenants holding between them about 400 a. Six tenants held ½ virgate each, 28 held ¼ virgate and the remainder smaller amounts, usually expressed as fractions of a virgate. A quarter-virgate seems to have been the standard holding, on which the rent and services of one man were based. A list of tenants and their holdings on Waltham manor, which is incomplete, includes 48 persons holding 202 a., in parcels similar in size to those at Sewardstone. On both manors there were considerable hay-making services. Assarts are frequently mentioned in the rental. There is also evidence of open field cultivation: the fields of Sewardstone and 'Wardune' are mentioned and there are a number of references to strips (seillones).
The Domesday survey and the rental of c. 1235 bring out clearly the significant features of Waltham's agrarian economy: much forest, (fn. 5) a considerable area of arable, and rich meadows by the Lea. Open field arable persisted much longer in this parish than in most places in Essex. A Sewardstone court roll of 1271 contains such entries as '2 a. in South Field', indicating strip-cultivation there. (fn. 6) In 1365 three pieces of land in Eldeworth Field are mentioned, with the names of neighbouring tenants. (fn. 7) In 1540 Robert Fuller, the last Abbot of Waltham, held several small fields and crofts obviously inclosed, but also three half-acres in High Field. (fn. 8) The king's grant to (Sir) Anthony Denny in 1547 includes Cobbfield (280 a.), Sheepcote Field (244 a.), Northfield (112 a.), and Eastfield (200 a.). (fn. 9) In 1660, among lands belonging to the capital manor, were Hither and Further Eastfield, of 63 a. and 37 a. respectively, and Northfield, of 41 a. (fn. 10) How far these large fields were still uninclosed is not clear; but it is not unlikely that substantial areas of open field arable survived until the dissolution of the abbey. Two small fields, Broomstick Hall Common and Honey Lane Common, comprising a total of 73 a., were not inclosed until 1864. (fn. 11)
The marshland meadows by the Lea provided fine hay and pasture. (fn. 12) In the Middle Ages some of the hay was reserved for the royal stables. (fn. 13) Grazing took place before and after haymaking. According to Fuller the grass was 'so sweet and luscious to cattle that they diet them at the first entering therein to half an hour a day, lest they should overeat themselves'. (fn. 14) A number of meadows were held in common. These were divided into strips held in severalty from 6 April (Old Lady Day) to 12 August (Old Lammas Day), and were then used as common pasture, subject to various regulations. The common rights were enforced by the courts leet, which elected two marshwardens each year. (fn. 15) Some 200 a. of marsh remained common until 1958, when they were taken over by the urban district council for use as recreation grounds. (fn. 16)
The strips or 'cowleazes' in the meadows belonged to the owners of particular tenements in the parish. The king's grant to Denny in 1547 included many parcels in Cob Mead, Frithey, Town Mead, and North Mead. (fn. 17) In 1660 the lands belonging to the site of the former abbey included 44 a. in North Mead, 40 a. in Queen Mead, and 2 a. in Town Mead, together with 6 cowleazes in Holyfield Marsh and 15 cowleazes in Hooks Marsh. (fn. 18) In 1843 Little Holyfield Farm owned 3 a. in Holyfield Mead, (fn. 19) and in 1921 Warlies Park still owned three unfenced pieces in Town Mead. (fn. 20) The rights of common in the meadows after 12 August were in some cases restricted to the owners of the cowleazes, but in the Town Mead these rights could be exercised by all ratepayers. (fn. 21)
Because of their value the grazing rights in the meadows were frequently a source of dispute. In the 13th century there was litigation between the Abbot of Waltham and his tenants over their respective rights. (fn. 22) In the same century there were also disputes between the abbot and Peter of Savoy, Earl of Richmond, who claimed, as lord of Cheshunt, all the meadow west of the Old River Lea, asserting that this, and not the Small River Lea, was the county boundary. In 1246 Peter renounced this claim, (fn. 23) but it was revived later: at the time of the Dissolution a dispute was in progress between the abbot and the men of Cheshunt, and strife continued into the 17th century. (fn. 24) In 1852–3 there were complaints at the court leet that the men of Cheshunt were encroaching on Waltham marshes, (fn. 25) and there was another dispute just before 1870. (fn. 26)
Waltham has rarely been without resident landowners. The Denny family, which succeeded to most of the abbey's estates after the Dissolution, lived in the parish, and the Wakes appear to have done so, perhaps intermittently, in the 18th century. In the 19th century the Wakes were non-resident, but the family of Sotheby lived at High Beech, the Colvins at Monkhams, and the Buxtons at Warlies. Both before and after the Dissolution there seem to have been many small farmers, including a number of freeholders, whose estates were sometimes styled manors. (fn. 27) A directory of 1848 lists over 50 farmers in Waltham. (fn. 28) Most of them probably had less than 100 a. (fn. 29)
There is still much agricultural land in the parish. Mixed farming is still practised over much of the area, but dairy farming, for which Waltham was already celebrated in the 18th century (fn. 30) has increased in importance in recent times. Nursery gardening has been carried on in Waltham for about a century. (fn. 31) Since the First World War it has expanded rapidly and in c. 1957 there were some 160 a. of glasshouses in the parish. (fn. 32)
One of the earliest recorded industries in the parish was the making of pottery, made possible by suitable clay and an abundance of fuel. Ralph the Potter occurs in c. 1235 (fn. 33) and Potter's Hill, mentioned in 1312, is probably to be associated with Potkiln Shaw at Upshire. (fn. 34) The present pottery at Woodgreen, Upshire, was established by H. F. Walker in 1830. (fn. 35)
The water-power provided by the river gave rise to a number of industries. The existence of a fulling mill in 1402 (fn. 36) shows that there was cloth-making then. There was a fulling mill at Sewardstone in c. 1777. (fn. 37) A pin factory was in existence by 1805, (fn. 38) but had closed by 1847, when its premises were sold. (fn. 39) In 1814 it was said to be an extensive factory, which could be worked by either steam or water. (fn. 40) In the 18th century silk and calico printing was an important industry in Waltham. (fn. 41) The silk-printing works closed in 1848, and its land was sold for the site of a county court. (fn. 42) In 1814 there was a small silk factory in Waltham, probably connected with the printing works, and a silk mill and flour mill at Sewardstone. (fn. 43) There was a brewer in Waltham in 1599; (fn. 44) the Malthouse in Romeland was mentioned in 1751. (fn. 45) In 1839 there were said to be several breweries and malt-kilns. (fn. 46) Three clockmakers are recorded in Waltham in the early 18th century, the most notable being Henry Bridges. The craft continued to be practised throughout the 19th century. (fn. 47) Among minor industries existing in the early 19th century were the making of baskets, chairs, umbrellas, percussion caps, and soap. (fn. 48)
The principal industry of Waltham for over two centuries was the manufacture of gunpowder, in mills on the banks of the Lea north and south of the town. (fn. 49) The history of the gunpowder mills until c. 1900 has been fully treated in another volume. (fn. 50) In one important respect that earlier account must be modified. It is stated there that the earliest known record relating to the gunpowder mills is dated 1561. According to recent research the records of 1561 prove only that John Thomworth, who had connexions with Waltham, and sometimes lived there, was negotiating, on behalf of the government, for the purchase of raw materials for gunpowder-making. There is no proof that gunpowder was being made at Waltham in the 16th century. (fn. 51) A map of c. 1590 shows a fulling-mill on the site later occupied by the powder mills. (fn. 52) The first definite evidence of this industry in Waltham comes from Fuller's Worthies of England (1662), which states that the mills were 'lately erected', and that they had been blown up five times within seven years. (fn. 53) Perhaps they were started during the Civil War. After they were bought by the Board of Ordnance in 1787 a rapid expansion took place, stimulated by the wars with France. In 1813, when war was at its height, 260 persons were employed. (fn. 54) From 1808 onwards the Ordnance Board bought houses in the town, many in High Bridge Street, which they rented to factory employees. They also extended the mills south of the town (fn. 55) and bought up the water rights on the Lea. (fn. 56) These developments tended to squeeze out the smaller industries in the area, especially those dependent on water power. In 1872 the manufacture of guncotton began at Waltham, and in 1890 a new guncotton plant was built at Quinton Hill, south of the town. In 1888 the gunpowder and guncotton plants were employing 500 men, and the town was said to be dependent on them for its prosperity. (fn. 57) Cordite manufacture started at Waltham in 1891, and during the next 20 years several other new explosives came into production there. The Quinton Hill plant was enlarged in 1901, 1904–5 and again in 1915 and 1938. (fn. 58) At the beginning of the First World War Waltham Abbey was the only government explosives factory in the country. In 1919 its closure was under consideration, but after a period of uncertainty limited production continued. (fn. 59) Output was again increased from 1934, but it was decided that new factories should be built in less vulnerable areas, and production at Waltham ceased in 1943. The premises were retained by the government for use as a research station. (fn. 60)
Since 1918, and especially since 1945, many new light industries have been established in Waltham Holy Cross. A firm on the Lea Road, making cartons and packing-cases, in c. 1957 employed about 400 workers. Other factories make synthetic adhesives, metal alloys and solder paint, metal furniture, chemical fertilizers, architectural ironwork, tennis rackets and imitation jewellery. (fn. 61) The urban district council has sponsored an industrial estate. (fn. 62)
Occupations connected with the forest are mentioned elsewhere. (fn. 63)
In 1066 there was one mill belonging to the manor of Waltham, and in 1086 there were three. (fn. 64) In 1108 Maud, wife of Henry I, granted a mill, or 2 mills, in Waltham to the canons in return for their priory of Holy Trinity, Aldgate. (fn. 65) In 1553 there were 'two water-mills under one roof' belonging to the lord of the manor. (fn. 66) This was possibly the corn-mill which in 1735 belonged to Charles Wake Jones and Peter Floyer. It was then being rebuilt and the mill-stream cleaned. (fn. 67) It was no doubt the mill north of the town which is marked on a map of 1777. (fn. 68) As the gunpowder mills expanded, the corn-mill declined, and it was bought by the Ordnance Board in 1809. It continued to operate under lease from the board. In 1850 the miller complained that the water supply was insufficient, but was told that the gunpowder factory had priority. (fn. 69) There was a corn-miller in Waltham Abbey until 1898 or later. (fn. 70) A post-mill, in Honey Lane, collapsed in 1911. (fn. 71)
There was a medieval mill at Sewardstone. Philip de Molendino was one of the abbey's tenants in c. 1235, (fn. 72) and a mill was mentioned in 1355. (fn. 73) The map of 1777 shows 'Sewardstone Blue Mill' on the Lea. (fn. 74) The abundance of water power led to the use of mills for other industries, which are mentioned elsewhere. (fn. 75)
MARKET AND FAIRS.
There was a market at Waltham before 1189, when it was confirmed to the canons. (fn. 76) At the Dissolution it passed with the manor, and in 1560, when it was said to be much decayed, Henry Denny was granted licence to hold it on Tuesday instead of Sunday as before. (fn. 77) In the mid-17th century much meat but little corn was sold there. (fn. 78) In c. 1735 the market was said to be well provided, especially with meat and poultry, but much of the stock was bought early by dealers for re-sale in London, so the inhabitants derived little benefit from it. (fn. 79) In 1888 the market was bought from Sir Hereward Wake by the local board for £2,500; then, as before, it was principally a meat market. (fn. 80) It is now controlled by the urban district council.
The market is held, still on a Tuesday, in three open spaces at the centre of the town: the Market Square, (fn. 81) leading off Sun Street, south of the churchyard; a triangular area west of the church, leading into High Bridge Street; and an area called the Romeland ('empty land') (fn. 82) opening off the north side of High Bridge Street. The Romeland may not have been used for the market before the 19th century. (fn. 83) The other two places may be the remains of a larger market-place split up by building. There is a hint of a change in 1563, when the parish vestry sold 'an old house in the old market place'. (fn. 84) This may have been the 'moot hall' mentioned in 1456 and 1553. (fn. 85) There was later a market house in the Market Square. This was a wooden building of two stories, the lower being open and supported on oak pillars. It was demolished in 1852. (fn. 86)
Between 1108 and 1118 Maud, wife of Henry I, granted the canons of Waltham 'fairs' on the festival of the Holy Cross. (fn. 87) In 1253 Henry III confirmed to the abbey two annual fairs, one on the vigil of the Invention of the Holy Cross (2 May) and the 7 days after, the other on the vigil of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (13 September) and the 7 days after. (fn. 88) 'Yearly fairs' were included in a grant of 1553 to Joan, Lady Denny. She also had the right to hold 'longpearne courts' (presumably pie-powder courts) at fair-time. (fn. 89) In c. 1655 two fairs were being held, each lasting a single day, on 3 May and 14 September. (fn. 90) In 1665 the inhabitants of Waltham Abbey were presented at Quarter Sessions for holding a fair in the churchyard. (fn. 91) In c. 1730 fairs were still being held on 3 May and 14 September, and there was also a 'statute' or hiring fair on 15 September. (fn. 92) In the 18th century, after the alteration of the calendar, the fairs were moved to 14 May and 25–26 September. (fn. 93) Since then they have continued to be held in May and September, sometimes with slight variations of date. (fn. 94) They are now owned by the urban district council and are solely for entertainment. (fn. 95) For a few years in the 1880's there seems to have been another fair, in June. (fn. 96)
RIVER LEA. (fn. 97)
Fuller, writing in 1655, refers to seven streams of the Lea at Waltham. (fn. 98) Before the cutting of the Lea Navigation in 1770 the four main channels, from east to west, were: the Cornmill Stream, which drove the abbey's mill, the Old River Lea, which was used for navigation until 1770; the Millhead Stream, and the Small River Lea, which forms the boundary with Cheshunt.
This complex pattern of channels has been associated with King Alfred. (fn. 99) In the year 895 a Danish fleet went up the Lea to a point about 20 miles from London. Alfred obstructed the river to prevent the escape of the enemy ships, and built two forts, one on each side of the river. The Danes then abandoned their fleet, which was later seized by the English. (fn. 100) Another early account states that Alfred caused the waters of the Lea to be divided into three channels. (fn. 101) It is possible that Waltham was the place where he diverted the river, but it is improbable that the channels above the town were actually cut at that time; such an operation would have taken much longer than the sources imply. What seems more likely is that Alfred re-opened channels already in existence, that had become silted up. (fn. 102)
Another diversion of the river, definitely associated with Waltham, appears to have taken place about 1190–1. (fn. 103) Owing to the complex and changing nature of the waterways, and the value of the meadows beside them, there were frequent boundary disputes between Waltham Abbey and Cheshunt, from the 13th century onwards. (fn. 104)
The fishing rights in the river have been extensive and valuable. In 1086 there were five fisheries. (fn. 105) In 1355 there were four owned by the abbot, one at 'le Overlok' one at Edwinsey in the north of the parish, one near 'le Netherlok', and one at Waltham town. (fn. 106) The town fishery was granted to Joan, Lady Denny, in 1553, (fn. 107) and was still held by the lord of the manor in 1767. (fn. 108) The other fisheries came into different hands; in 1572 that at Edwinsey was held by Lord Burghley (fn. 109) and in 1680 another fishery 'in the waters of Waltham Abbey' was the subject of a conveyance. (fn. 110) In the late 18th and 19th centuries fishing declined, as the Board of Ordnance, owners of the gunpowder mills, bought up the rights and prohibited access to large stretches of the river. In 1795 the fishery at Waltham town and that near Hooksweir were bought, and fishing was prohibited from Holyfield Marsh to Rammey Lock. This was followed by a number of prosecutions, as the fishermen tried in vain to reassert their rights. (fn. 111) The upper fishery, from King's Weir to Thorogood Sluice, was also bought by the board, but was let in 1789 and later. (fn. 112) The fishing rights remained valuable, even when restricted. In 1789 the upper fishery was let for £8 a year and the lower for £5. In 1836 the upper fishery was let for £15 and in 1889 all the rights were let for £27. (fn. 113)
The river was an important means of communication with London, and frequent measures were taken to improve the navigation. In 1190–1 the Abbot of Waltham had a licence to alter the course of the Lea for that purpose. (fn. 114) In 1355 a commission investigating obstacles to navigation on the river found many sandbanks, fishing kiddles, and one enclosure. (fn. 115) In 1382 a similar commission investigated 'weirs, mills, pools, stakes and kiddles' between Ware (Herts.) and Waltham, and also illegal tolls. (fn. 116) Later commissions were appointed under statutes of 1425 and 1430. (fn. 117) In 1482 the Abbot of Waltham was presented for enlarging his mill-head to the detriment of navigation, and for narrowing a lock to the danger of bargemen. (fn. 118)
In the reign of Elizabeth I traffic on the Lea appears to have been growing. In 1571 an Act was passed to make the river navigable as far as Ware. (fn. 119) The new cut 'bringing the River Lea to the north side of London' (fn. 120) was completed by 1581. It included the construction at Waltham Abbey in 1574 of one of the earliest pound locks in the country. (fn. 121) London brewers were now able to obtain grain from the Midlands more quickly and cheaply than by the old land route, and in 1581 maltsters and carriers of Enfield (Mdx.), and other places, including Chingford and Nazeing, petitioned against the loss of their trade. (fn. 122) Violence followed, with attempts to destroy Waltham Lock, (fn. 123) and other acts of sabotage against the waterway, at which local landowners and authorities may have connived. (fn. 124) Soon after this there were violent disputes between the bargemen using the river and Sir Edward Denny, lord of the manor of Waltham Holy Cross. In 1587 the bargemen complained to the Privy Council that Denny's men were preventing them from passing Waltham High Bridge. (fn. 125) In 1592 men from Ware broke the banks of the stream leading to Denny's mill and assaulted two of his servants. (fn. 126) These events, and the report of an inquiry in 1594, suggest that Denny had been increasing the flow of water from the navigable river into the Cornmill Stream, and that this was resented by the Hertfordshire bargemen. (fn. 127) The dispute also seems to have concerned the boundary between Waltham Holy Cross and Cheshunt, a perennial source of trouble. The report affirmed that the banks of the river were to be open to the public for the towing of vessels.
An Act of 1767 provided for the cutting of a new channel, the Lea Navigation, leaving the Old Lea near King's Weir in Nazeing and rejoining it ¼ mile east of Small Lea Bridge. (fn. 128) The work was completed by 1770. (fn. 129) The old river was maintained for the use of the gunpowder mills. (fn. 130) During the next 50 years there were several abortive schemes for improving navigation below Waltham, (fn. 131) but it was not until 1850 that an Act was passed under which a new cut was made from Waltham Marsh to Enfield Lock. (fn. 132)
As the mills on the river expanded there was increased competition for the limited water supply. In 1731 the owners of the corn mill and the gunpowder mill were in conflict over this. (fn. 133) After purchasing the gunpowder factory in 1787 the government bought up many water rights, including Cheshunt Mill Stream in 1805 and the Corn Mill in 1809. (fn. 134) The new Act for navigation, while it facilitated the transport of gunpowder, still further limited the water supply, and the River Lea Trustees were on guard against any interference with navigation.
In the 19th century the river became an important source of water supply for east London. As early as 1852 it was asserted that the navigation and mills were secondary in importance to water supply. (fn. 135) In 1868 it was estimated that the Lea supplied about half the population of London, over 1½ million. (fn. 136) The East London Water Co., incorporated in 1807, at first took its supplies from the Lea at Old Ford, but the growing population of that area and the resulting contamination of the river by sewage made it necessary to find a higher intake. In 1834 the intake was moved up to Lea Bridge Mills, and in 1852, after a severe cholera epidemic in London had been traced to contaminated water, the company was required by Parliament to seek a still higher intake. It sought at first to take water at Field's Weir, below the confluence of the Lea and Stort, but this was opposed by the Ordnance Board, as owners of the gunpowder factory, and the intake was finally fixed at Tottenham Lock. (fn. 137) The New River Co., which supplied north-east London, also took water from the Lea, at Hertford. (fn. 138) In 1886 this company was paying £1,500 a year for water, and the East London Co. £2,000 a year, to the Lea Trustees, who were selling more to the companies than they were bound to do by agreement. (fn. 139) There were complaints from barge owners that the navigation had deteriorated because the Trustees had sold too much water. (fn. 140) The East London Co., for its part, complained that the river was being polluted above its intake. Barges carrying manure were blamed, also the sewage systems of river-side towns including Waltham Abbey. The more efficient the drainage of these towns became, the more sewage was flushed into the river. (fn. 141)
In spite of the use of the river as a source of water and of power for mills, navigation continued to be important until the end of the 19th century. The Lea Conservancy Act was passed in 1868 to protect the water and navigation, and the barge owners were represented on the Conservancy Board. Apart from boats passing higher up the river to the breweries at Ware and Hertford there was a considerable trade in coal to the Ordnance Works, and gunpowder and small arms made at Waltham and Enfield Lock were carried down the Lea and along the Thames to Purfleet. (fn. 142)
The whole parish of Waltham lay within the ancient Forest of Essex, known from the 14th century as Waltham Forest. (fn. 143) In the Middle Ages the hundred of Waltham constituted a forest bailiwick, (fn. 144) the forestership of which was held in serjeanty from the time of Henry II by Aucher the Huntsman and his successors, who were the lords of Copped Hall in Epping. (fn. 145) In 1337 Aucher Fitz Henry sold Copped Hall and the forestership to Sir John Shardlowe. (fn. 146) In 1358 Bartholomew Langridge quitclaimed the forestership to Shardlowe. (fn. 147) Langridge's interest in it probably came from his ownership of Langridge, which may also have belonged to the Fitz Auchers. That interest does not appear to have been wholly extinguished until 1386, when Gillian, daughter of Langridge, and her husband John Fresshe, conveyed the forestership to Waltham Abbey. (fn. 148) Waltham had bought Copped Hall from the Shardlowes in 1350. It is possible, therefore, that the abbey had acquired the forestership also before 1386, and that the conveyance of that year was merely to strengthen the title. The abbey retained the forestership until the Dissolution.
During the 16th century the bailiwicks were replaced by smaller 'walks'. (fn. 149) Waltham parish north of Honey Lane became part of Epping Walk, while the rest of the parish comprised New Lodge (or Fairmead) Walk. (fn. 150) The foresters of these walks are listed by W. R. Fisher. (fn. 151) From the late 17th century New Lodge Walk was held with Sewardstone manor and Epping Walk with Copped Hall.
Unlike some of the forest parishes Waltham has always contained a substantial area of actual woodland. About 1,450 a. of the modern Epping Forest— over one-third of its total area—are in Waltham. (fn. 152) But even in the 11th century the parish had a considerable amount of arable land, (fn. 153) and this was increased by subsequent forest clearance. In 1189 the king granted the abbey permission to make 300 a. assarts in Waltham. (fn. 154) The survey of c. 1235 records 22¼ a. assarts in Waltham manor, of which 11 a. in Holyfield were said to be new ones, and 70 a. in Sewardstone. (fn. 155) In 1380 the abbot received licence to inclose 162 a. adjoining Harold's Park and Copped Hall. (fn. 156) By the 17th century the woodland in Waltham parish covered an area not much larger than it does today, (fn. 157) though inclosures continued until the 19th century. (fn. 158) In at least one case, in the 16th century, an inclosure was thrown back into the forest. (fn. 159) The long and successful struggle, during the late 19th century, to prevent the destruction of Epping Forest, is fully described elsewhere. (fn. 160)
One of the earliest references to Waltham Holy Cross describes it as a hunting-lodge. (fn. 161) Until the 17th century the kings of England frequently hunted deer in the forest. (fn. 162) In 1294 some of the king's horses were being kept at Waltham, (fn. 163) and there was a royal stable there in 1541. (fn. 164) During the Civil War and Interregnum the red and fallow deer in the forest were almost completely destroyed by unrestricted hunting, (fn. 165) and in 1661 the king issued instructions that no deer was to be killed there for three years unless he was present in person. (fn. 166) Royal stag-hunting in Epping Forest continued during the late 17th and early 18th centuries and there were later private packs of staghounds. (fn. 167)
The New Lodge in the forest, later called Fairmead Lodge, from which the 'walk' was named, was in existence by 1378, when its custody was granted to Alan de Buxhull, on condition that he kept the buildings in repair. (fn. 168) It was surveyed, with a view to repair, in 1589. (fn. 169) It was demolished in 1898. (fn. 170) The lodge was about ¾ mile south-east of Lippits Hill. (fn. 171) A park called Fairmead which seems to have formed an inclosure within the forest, had been 'disparked' by 1553. (fn. 172)
The abbots of Waltham, and their successors as lords of the manor of Waltham, were entitled to three forest bucks yearly, (fn. 173) and to estovers. (fn. 174) The tenants of certain ancient messuages in the parish also had estovers. (fn. 175) Before the 19th century this had been converted from a general right into 'assignments' marked out in particular sections of the forest. There were some 65 such assignments, (fn. 176) which in 1848 totalled 559 a. (fn. 177) They were extinguished in 1882 on payment of £12,922 13s. by the Corporation of the City of London. (fn. 178) The inhabitants of ancient tenements also had the right to pasture cattle in the forest; these were branded with the parish mark, an 'A' surmounted by a bridge and a cross. (fn. 179)
The forest has provided various opportunities for employment. Some of these were connected with the forest administration and with hunting. Charcoal burning was carried on from early times. A 'colier' is mentioned in 1415. (fn. 180) The gunpowder factory at Waltham Abbey required much charcoal, and some of this came from the immediate vicinity; but the trees native to Epping Forest did not provide the kind of charcoal most suitable for gunpowder-making, and the Board of Ordnance relied mainly on supplies from other counties and from their own plantations at Waltham Abbey. (fn. 181) By c. 1906 charcoal-burning had died out in the Forest. (fn. 182)
By the Act of 1878 the forest was placed under the administration of the City of London, to be preserved 'as an open space for recreation and enjoyment'. It had long been used for that purpose. In 1863 it was stated that during the past 50 years High Beech had been a place of resort for Londoners of all classes. On one occasion Sir Charles Wake, lord of the manor, had stopped some springs which the poor were in the habit of using to make tea, in order to force them into a public house owned by him, but there was a complaint and the springs were re-opened. (fn. 183)
The Waltham Abbey rental of c. 1235 lists about half the tenants of Waltham manor under the heading 'burg' de feodo regis'. (fn. 184) This appears to be the only explicit reference to burgesses (or a borough) at Waltham. It may be connected with a move towards borough status of which there are hints in the mid 12th century. (fn. 185) Such a move, if it occurred, must have died away as the abbey tightened its grip on the parish in the late 12th and 13th centuries, exercising jurisdiction through the hundred court (fn. 186) and the courts of the manors of Waltham and Sewardstone. The earliest surviving court roll, for 1270–1, relates to Sewardstone. (fn. 187) There are a number of rolls for Sewardstone dating from the 15th and early 16th centuries. (fn. 188) The first surviving record of a court of the manor of Waltham is dated 1468. (fn. 189) The two manor courts continued after the Dissolution. The court rolls of Sewardstone survive, with some gaps, from 1542 to 1743, (fn. 190) and duplicates of court rolls from 1651 to 1854. (fn. 191) In c. 1814 courts leet and baron were being held for this manor at a lodge (probably Fairmead Lodge) in Epping Forest. (fn. 192) The modern series of Waltham manor records begins in 1638 and is continuous from 1680 to 1866 except for a gap from 1697 to 1718. (fn. 193) Courts leet and baron were held throughout that period, and probably continued after 1866. (fn. 194) The leet was concerned mainly with the regulation of common rights, the repair of highways and bridges, and the supervision of the market.
Waltham manor included the whole parish except Sewardstone hamlet. From the late 17th century the leet appointed annually three (later two) constables for the town and one each for the hamlets of Holyfield and Upshire. These continued even after 1840, when Waltham became part of the Metropolitan Police District. (fn. 195) The leet also appointed two marshwardens, two (later three) ale-conners, a leathersealer (later two), and a flesh-taster. The leathersealers ceased in 1814, the ale-conners in 1824, and the flesh-taster in 1831. The constables, though appointed by the leet, accounted to the parish vestry, but the marshwardens, who levied rates to maintain the commons, accounted to the leet. Special constables appointed by the parish vestry are mentioned below.
The Abbot of Waltham's prison, mentioned in 1236, was presumably at Waltham Holy Cross, and there are references to the gaol there on many later occasions up to the 15th century. (fn. 196)
The lord of the manor was responsible for maintaining the market house and market place (fn. 197) and was often presented at his own court for failing to do so. He was also responsible for the parish cage, which was at the entrance to the Green Yard. (fn. 198) In 1815 this was insecure and the parish officers had to detain offenders in the workhouse. They refused to erect a new cage, and Sir William Wake was cited to appear at Quarter Sessions for not repairing the old one. (fn. 199) 'Longpearne' courts were held by the lord of the manor at fair-time. (fn. 200)
The first surviving minute book of the parish vestry begins in 1816 (fn. 201) but other parish records and extracts from some since lost give some details of parish government before the 19th century. (fn. 202) From 1816 vestry meetings were held monthly. About 20 people appear to have attended, though on special occasions there were many more. The curate was not resident at this period; the assistant curate usually attended and sometimes, though not always, took the chair. The vestry clerk received a salary of 40 guineas (in 1825) and a rent-free house. (fn. 203) The numbers of churchwardens have been mentioned elsewhere. (fn. 204) There were usually four overseers of the poor, one each for the town and the three hamlets. (fn. 205) In 1821 it was resolved to appoint a paid overseer for the town; in 1823 he received £30. (fn. 206)
In 1652 it was agreed that the town and hamlets should each be separately rated. This probably reflected previous practice, since as early as the 16th century there was separate rating for church purposes. (fn. 207) In 1725 there was a dispute between the parish vestry and the lord of the manor of Sewardstone, who claimed complete independence for his hamlet in poor relief administration. (fn. 208) In the 18th century parish expenses were paid from a general rate levied by the overseers of each hamlet. In 1761 a legal opinion was sought as to whether it was proper to include all the rates in one rate. (fn. 209) The surveyors' bills, and those of the constables, were occasionally paid by the overseers or charged to their accounts. In 1747, however, the parish officers agreed to levy a surveyors' rate for the whole parish. (fn. 210)
In 1782 the parish owned 14 houses which were used for the poor. Eight (possibly ten) of these were charity almshouses, and are treated elsewhere. (fn. 211) The origin and later history of the other four are unknown. In 1818 the lord of the manor of Waltham granted to the churchwardens and overseers a piece of manorial waste near the forest, as a site for poorhouses. No houses were ever built there. The rents of this 'Poor's Land' were later applied to charity and in 1864 the land was sold for £67, which were invested on behalf of Green's almshouses. (fn. 212)
In 1734 a large building near the Green Yard was leased for use as a parish workhouse. (fn. 213) By his will of 1735 John Pearce left 40s. a year towards the maintenance of the workhouse. (fn. 214) In 1766 the parish received £59 for work done in the house. (fn. 215) In 1776 there was said to be accommodation there for 100. (fn. 216) In 1818 arrangements were made to supply food to the workhouse by contract. (fn. 217) The building was demolished before 1888. (fn. 218)
Between 1762 and 1785, so far as figures are available, the parish rates were usually around £1,000 a year. (fn. 219) Between 1816 and 1821 the average was about £3,300, with a peak of £4,751 in 1820. (fn. 220) In proportion to population these rates of 1816–21 were not very different from those of Barking, a parish of similar area, also containing a small industrial town, during the same period. (fn. 221)
As stated above the Waltham manor court continued to appoint constables until the mid-19th century. In 1812 an increase in crime, attributed to the labourers attracted to the town by its expanding industries, caused the vestry to establish patrols of householders, apparently with success. (fn. 222) In 1827 it was resolved that two men from the workhouse should be appointed as additional constables for the town. (fn. 223) In 1846, at the request of the Ordnance Board, a special constable was appointed for duty at the gunpowder factory. (fn. 224)
The parish whipping post (dated 1598) and pillory are preserved in the museum in the crypt of the Lady Chapel in the church. These were previously kept at the market house, (fn. 225) demolished in 1852. (fn. 226)
Waltham Holy Cross became part of Edmonton Poor Law Union in 1836. In 1850 a local board of health was constituted for the parish, (fn. 227) which is now an urban district.
The Public Health Act of 1848 was adopted in Waltham in 1850. By 1853 new sewers had been made for the town and there was a project to flush them into the Lea. (fn. 228) In 1867 Waltham sewage was contaminating the river, which was used as a source of metropolitan water supply, in spite of works designed to prevent this. (fn. 229) The surveyor's reports to the Local Board of Health from 1856 show a gradual extension of main drainage. In 1856 the fire engine was borrowed to sluice certain cesspools. A report of 1881 recommended that a large number of houses should be connected to the main sewers. (fn. 230)
A new sewerage system for Waltham Abbey was opened in 1873, with works at Townmead. In 1886 it was reported that the sewage was being pumped upon low-lying land, without any kind of treatment: the increase in volume had made necessary the extension of the works. (fn. 231) The works were reconstructed in 1930 and by 1937 the whole of the town and most of the rural area of the parish had been sewered. (fn. 232)
The East London Waterworks Co. by its Act of 1853 was authorized to supply Waltham, but did not do so until 1888. A main supply is now provided throughout the urban district by the Metropolitan Water Board. (fn. 233)
The town was lighted by oil lamps in 1812. (fn. 234) In 1842 the Lighting and Watching Act was adopted, and the town was lighted by gas from works established at Waltham Cross by Charles T. Holcombe, of Valentines in Ilford, in 1843. (fn. 235) From 1843 a gas rate of 3d. in the £1 was levied on the town. In 1848 gas street lighting was discontinued, but it was restored again between 1857 and 1861. (fn. 236) New gasworks were built at Waltham Cross in 1869, and these, controlled by the Waltham Abbey and Cheshunt Gas Co., continued to supply Waltham Abbey until they were closed in 1929. Since then the supply has come from Ponders End (Mdx.). (fn. 237)
In 1881 a pamphlet on the 'Brush' system of electric street lighting was sent to the Local Board of Health, (fn. 238) but no further action was taken. Electricity was introduced in 1924, and by 1935 had been extended to Upshire, High Beech and Sewardstone. Copped Hall Green was supplied in 1958. (fn. 239)
In 1780 Thomas Baldwin was licensed to keep a lunatic asylum in Waltham. (fn. 240) This, or another asylum, was later kept by Dr. Matthew Allen, one of whose patients, in 1837–41, was the poet John Clare. (fn. 241) Allen died before 1848 and the asylum closed soon after. (fn. 242)
The Waltham Hospital Board was formed in 1902, and by 1908 had an Isolation Hospital in Honey Lane. The Waltham Abbey War Memorial Cottage Hospital was opened after the First World War. (fn. 243)
Fire-hooks, used for pulling the thatch from burning houses, were kept in the market house (demolished in 1852). (fn. 244) Before 1735 a fire-engine and 120 buckets were bought by public subscription. (fn. 245) By 1782 the parish had a 'fifth sized fire engine complete'. (fn. 246) In 1859–61 a new fire engine was bought, and an engine house built for it. (fn. 247)
A new public cemetery, controlled by a burial board, was opened in Sewardstone Road in 1856. (fn. 248) The Literary Institute and the Mechanics' Institute have been treated in another volume. (fn. 249)