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Castle Hedingham

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"HEDINGHAM (CASTLE), a parish in the hundred of HINCKFORD, county of ESSEX, 19 miles (N. by W.) from Chelmsford, and 48 (N. E.) from London, containing 1163 inhabitants. This place was the head of an extensive barony belonging to the Norman family of De Vere, one of whom, Aubrey De Vere, Earl of Oxford, is supposed to have founded a castle here in the reign of Stephen. During the war between King John and the barons, this fortress was taken by the king, in 1216; in the following year it was surrendered to the Dauphin of France, who had been invited to England by the insurgent barons; and soon after the death of John it was recovered by the Earl of Pembroke, regent under Henry III. Many additional buildings were erected by John De Vere, Earl of Oxford, a distinguished partisan of the house of Lancaster, during the civil war in the fifteenth century, who gave a most sumptuous entertainment at Castle-Hedingham to Henry VII.: that king subsequently caused the earl to be prosecuted for giving liveries to a number of his retainers, in breach of the provisions of a statute then recently enacted, for which offence he was fined fifteen thousand marks. The succeeding earl sold the estate, having previously dismantled the castle and razed the surrounding edifices; but the keep, or great central tower, is still standing, and forms an object of considerable interest to antiquaries. Fairs are held at Hedingham, for hops and cattle, May 14th, July 25th, August 15th, and October 25th; and the petty sessions for the division of North Hinckford are held here on Tuesdays. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Middlesex, and diocese of London, and in the patronage of Lewis Majendie, Esq. The church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is an ancient edifice in the early English style, with a mixture of the Norman, except the tower, which was erected about 1616: in the chancel is a superb monument to the memory of John, Earl of Oxford, mentioned above, and his Countess, with recumbent statues, armorial bearings, and inscriptions. Here is a place of worship for Independents. Some small bequests have been left by different persons for the benefit of the poor. At Nunnery-Street, near Hedingham, are the remains of a Benedictine convent for nuns, founded by the De Vere family, in the twelfth century, the revenue of which, at the dissolution, was £29. 12. 10. On the southeast side of the castle was an hospital, founded by one of the same family, about the middle of the thirteenth century, which has been long since destroyed." [From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831) - copyright Mel Lockie 2016]



  • Census returns are available from the usual sources for 1841-1911, which includes most copies held at the ERO, Wharf Rd, Chelmsford. More information on other ways to view these census returns on the Essex

Description and Travel

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Historical Geography

  • Castle Hedingham was a member of the Hinckford Hundred

You can see the administrative areas in which Castle Hedingham has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

  • Castle Hedingham was a member of the Halstead Poor Law Union