The borough of Brentwood began as a small clearing in the middle of a dense forest, created by fire, giving it the name of Burntwood, or 'the place where the wood was burned'.
People began to settle there and, because it was on the crossroads of the old Roman road from Colchester to London and the route the pilgrims took over the River Thames to Canterbury, it grew into a small town. A chapel was built in or around 1221, and in 1227 a market charter was granted.
There's still lots of fascinating historic sites around the town, making it a great, educationl day out for the whole family.
STEP BACK IN TIME...
The Hunter Memorial, which stands close by Wilson's Corner in the heart of Brentwood, commemorates the silk-weaver's apprentice who was burnt for his religious beliefs at the age of 19 on 26th March 1555.
The remains of the 400 year old elm were removed in 1952, which was said to mark the spot where William Hunter was burnt. Now an oak tree, planted in 1936 to mark the accession of King George VI, stands near the spot. Behind the red brick wall at this point is the oldest remaining part of Brentwood School dating from 1568.
1227 and 1252 BRENTWOOD MARKET CHARTERS
Replicas of Brentwood’s Market Charters have been presented to Councillor Mark Reed at a civic dinner. This was the conclusion of a four-year research project undertaken by Clive Othen during his tenure as Chairman of both The Brentwood Chamber of Commerce and The Brentwood Borough Renaissance Group.
The project was sponsored by The Brentwood Chamber of Commerce, The Brentwood Borough Renaissance Group and Essex Farmers Markets Limited.
Brentwood Borough Council have been charged to put the two charters and a history board on public display in the re-vamped Town Hall.
The two market charters were granted by King Henry III and provide for a weekly market and a yearly fair. The charters were granted to the Abbot and Cannons of St Osyth Priory in the thirteen century as they owned then the land that the diocese Brentwood now stands on. The grant was made to Bois Ars which eventually became known as Brentwood. Charters were particularly significant during the Middle Ages as it gave Bois Ars more control over its own affairs and gave rise to opportunities for increasing the wealth and status of the town and its leading people. It also granted the rights of collecting taxes and tolls.
Early charters are an example of primitive tax planning schemes which in essence freed town officials from paying various taxes some which were of Viking, Saxon and Roman origin. A spokesperson for HMRC has stated that they do not accept these charters as tax avoidance schemes but some of these old forms of taxation are interesting from a revenue raising point of view.
In his presentation speech Clive Othen paid grateful thanks to the Clerk of the Parish Council of St. Osyth for her help in the project research, to Dr. Jennifer Ward for translating the charters from Secretarial Latin into English and to Patricia Lovett MBE who replicated the charters. The style of the replica charter writing is in a form of a Brentwood style consistent with that of the thirteenth century. The 1227 and 1252 charters would have been the first showing of the Borough Arms making reference to Brentwood’s Roman and Saxon past.
In his presentation speech Clive Othen said that he has just discovered that Brentwood has an earlier charter granted by Henry II. No research has begun on this earlier charter and it was thought that this could be a good history project for one of the Borough schools to undertake. In addition, it has been noted that Brentwood has been granted other charters in the twelfth, thirteen, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries demonstrating how important the growing town was becoming.
On a historic note Brentwood was the meeting place for some of the instigators of the Peasants Revolt of 1381. One of the oldest remaining buildings in Brentwood is The White Hart (now called the Sugar Hut) which is believed to have been built in 1480 although history shows that there was a hostelry on the site in 1392. Maybe this 1392 site is where the ‘Essex Girl ghost’ originates from.
The last time The Riot Act was read in Brentwood was in 1874 when a debate between the local conservative and liberal parties broke out in Love Lane (now Crown Street) and is in reality remembered by a notation of the fracas involving two noted roughs, Molly West and one Sid Smith who ended up being “stripped to the buff, barmed up in the colours of the parties (blue and yellow) and then they enjoined in a stand up fight which consequently involved the general public”.