STANSTEAD IN 1840
By Ron Dale
The payment of 10% tithe to the church by farmers, being a percentage of their produce, either for livestock or crops of all kinds, had always presented the problem of working out 10% of a cow or a pig, for example. Also, each church needed a tithe barn in which to store the produce and this could also create problems. The Commutation of Tithes Act of 1837 simplified these problems by charging a cash amount for each plot of land, depending on its acreage and usage. This Act necessitated every town and village to create a Tithe Map of its area showing every field, wood, farm and cottage, listing its tenant, its owner and the acreage of land. The Tithe Map for Stanstead Abbotts was created in 1840 and is invaluable for research purposes. The Tithe Barn for St. James church, now long demolished, was off Roydon Road, near the Old Vicarage (now The Old Rectory apartments). The 1977 Finance Act finally abolished all tithe payments.
On the Tithe Map each field, wood or dwelling was given a number and listed
separately in an index recording the acreage, the owner’s name and the occupier.
Although the details are listed separately from the map, using the numbers, it is
possible to co-
THE HIGH STREET, SOUTH SIDE
At this time named Vicarage Road, here was also a cluster of cottages opposite this
malting entrance and opposite the mill and some of the occupants were William Wright,
Henry Reeve and Sarah Salmon. Along Roydon Road towards Harlow we pass a few cottages
on both sides of the road and then on the left we arrive at Thele Farm and Thele
House. There were two stone posts with its name engraved in it, but only the one
marked ‘Thele’ remains today. Its land stretched uphill with field-
RED LION TO THE BRIDGE
The Red Lion pub was occupied by Michael Woodhouse, also a man with considerable holdings of land in the village. We find strips of his land at Easneye and at Rye Meads. The beer industry was more profitable in those days than it is today. Next door to the pub is a house of about the same age (still there as no.3) with outbuildings and a yard which was then occupied by Susannah Walters. Along this side of the High Street were also several gaps and a few houses were set back some distance from the main road. One of these, near Stanstead Hall was a cottage divided into two apartments and occupied by Miss Crabb and Charles Curtis, which may have been the residence of the retired staff. Stanstead Hall was occupied by miller Nathaniel Allin, one of the two brothers running the corn mill. Here follows a wide gap and then a house with stables, occupied by George Soole. Next were two cottages occupied by Edward Tween and Robert Hampton, then a house with garden occupied by Wiliam Flack. Next door was Joseph Calem and H. Garnary sharing a house and the blacksmith’s shop of Benjamin Smith, the appropriately named village smith. This was roughly opposite to Burton’s newsagents, which had not been built at this date. Two more cottages followed, respectively occupied by James Wilborne and Henry Townson. Now approaching the bridge north side, we have a malting with a cottage, occupied by William Clark and others. Finally, at the bridge were two cottages on the riverside, occupied by Richard Waller and Thomas Rogers and others in the position we normally see the Champion Vinegar malting on Edwardian postcards.
The only public houses mentioned by name were the Red Lion, the Rose & Crown, the King’s Arms (at Rye House) and the Pied Bull (as the Red Bull). It must be remembered that the map was simply to work out how much tithe duty was payable, and was not a directory of the village, although why some inns were named and others were not is difficult to understand.
The Grammar School, owned by the parish council and run by John Miller, the master,
is on the corner (today the Clock House). Behind this, but not on the main road were
two cottages which were corn shops, owned by the New River Company and rented my
Messrs. Wm. Allin. There were cottages and houses with gardens down Cappell Lane,
a few just beyond the Grammar School, below today’s Chapelfields and here lived the
AT RYE HOUSE GATEHOUSE
Here was William Godfrey occupying a house and garden (Gatehouse possibly) as it was just vacated by workhouse residents. I believe he was running a business from there. Opposite at the Kings Arms pub was tenant William Cook. At Rye Farm (now the Sewage farm) was farmer William Webb.
Various farm cottages were scattered around the hilltops with no major house built there yet. The Warren and Halving Farms were occupied and worked by James Bigg, with much land owned by Felix Calvert of Bonningtons. Other major landowners were Henry Wilikinson and the Hankin family. At Netherfield Charles Booth owned much of the land in that corner of the village. However, at Rye Meads, very much subject to flooding and at the Innings (Marsh Lane) was operated a field strip system with long narrow strips of land owned by dozens of people from all parts of the village.
(The Tithe Map 1840 is available on disk from HALS in Hertford. My copy cost £35 in 2015, well worth this to serious researchers. Due to copyright restrictions we cannot reproduce any part of this map, but have attempted this written overall picture for readers’ interest.)
Ron Dale, May, 2017