The rural parish of Great Hallingbury lies about three miles to the south east of Bishop’s Stortford and was, in times past, largely dependent on the town, with its road and river communications. It was a corn growing countryside, probably mostly barley, which supplied the extensive maltings of Bishop’s Stortford, Sawbridgeworth and the smaller rural ones. 

The pattern of roads has changed little over the centuries, although the names are sometimes different.   Beldams, probably named after John Belhume of Stortford, was formerly Wraglings Lane:  the crossroads at the Hallingbury road junction was known as Hangman’s Lane End in 1762.  

The Street was Sharman’s Lane in the 16th century and Leaper’s Lane was Cross Bush Lane.   Today’s problems evidently existed at that time since there were fords at Tile Kiln Green and below the church, with footbridges, for which the land owners or occupiers were responsible.  

The oldest house in the village is Harp’s Farm, to which John atte Harp gave his name. The name Hallingbury means the ‘burh’, fortified area or dwelling of the Heallas.   This would have been Wallbury Camp, which is said to be 2000 years old and to have been a place of refuge for women, children and beasts when tribal enemies threatened, rather than a fort.  

Evidence of early occupation has been found in Iron Age pottery at Wallbury, Harp’s Farm and the burial urn in the foundations of the nave of the church.   It has been thought that the present Hallingburys formed a single settlement at one time, but when they were separated is not known. The Romans who succeeded the early settlers must have used Wallbury with its fine position overlooking the River Stort, along which were a number of Roman settlements.  

St. Giles’ Church has a great deal of Roman brick and mortar in its walls and the obvious re-use of the material already there shows that there was probably a Roman building on the site.   The chancel arch, which is built entirely of Roman brick, is probably the church’s most splendid feature. At the conquest, the Normans found a well organised village of two groups, which they named manors:  the manor of Wallbury and the manor of Much or Great Hallingbury.   Wallbury manor included Wallbury Camp, half of Woodside Green (then called Wallwood Common), Wallwood and much of the land between.   It was held by Toti, a free man, with a population of two bordars and two serfs or, in modern English, two smallholders and two slaves.   After the Conquest, it became a royal demesne, the tenant holding it by the Sergeanty of Falconry in the 12th century and, in the 13th, by paying into the King’s Exchequer one silver needle on the morrow of St. Michael.   The manor house was in the Camp. Wallbury gave its name to the Wall family (John atte Wall) who, from the 14th century and for three centuries, leased from their overlord much of the land and dewellings on the eastern side of the village.   This included Woodside Green farm, Great Jenkins (Jenkins farm) and Romans in Little Hallingbury. On the manor of Great Hallingbury, there were eighteen villains, four bordars and one serf (18 villagers, 4 smallholders and 1 slave).   The manor house was The Hall, although the present house is a 16th century house on the same site.   The manor lands covered much of the western part of the village and were held by two freemen and must have been much more heavily wooded than they are now, since they could support 600 swine. Besides these two manors, Edeva held about thirty acres and Godith, a freewoman, about fifty two, with two villagers ‘in Hallingbury’. 

After the Conquest, the two freemen were dispossessed in favour of the Norman, Roger de Otburville (Auberville), later by Eudo dapifer and, in 1200, by William de Langvallei, who was Warden of the Forest of Essex and Keeper of Colchester Castle.   In 1217 King John made Langvallei’s daughter a ward of Hubert de Burgh, the Lord Chief Justice.   De Burgh married his son to this heiress and it was their descendant who married Robert de Morley of Norfolk and through whom the first of the Morleys came to Great Hallingbury. With the coming of the Morleys began a long succession of over-lords closely in touch with the Crown and its ministers, serving their sovereign at home and abroad for more than 300 years and giving the name Hallingbury Morley to the village.   The Hall was their manor house until in Tudor times their large red-brick mansion was built in the park.    A number of the Morleys lie buried in the church but their tomb stone was removed during the church’s restoration in 1874.   Their memorials in the tower and the helms on the chancel wall remind us of this once great family. The impact they made must have been enormous, related as some of them were to the royal families of their time.   Their Hallingbury hunting ground was, in the 16th century, transformed by the building of the mansion and the making of the partk around it, which enabled the Morley family to live in a life-style more in keeping with their status than the five rooms of The Hall allowed.   The pond in the parkland is the last remaining relic of that era. The village farms and humble cottages developed around the perimeter of the park, many of them held by a manorial rent – the tenants owing their lord a day’s work or the use of their horses and carts, supplying so many capons or eggs every year.   When they died, the lord took their best beast and their next of kin had to pay a ‘fine’ to continue living in the same dwelling.Hallingbury Place and Estate was later sold to Sir Edward Turnour for £15,000.   He became a Member of Parliament and at one time held the post of Speaker.   Upon his death in 1676, he was succeeded by his son, also Edward, who was knighted by Charles ll and became Member of Parliament for Orford, Suffolk.   He died in 1721 and was buried at St. Giles’ Church, Great Hallingbury. The estate was vested with trustees to be sold.   Nine years later, it was bought by the Reverend Jacob Houblon for his nephew Jacob, who then repaired, enlarged and modernised the house.    In the latter part of the nineteenth century, John Archer Houblon was a leading figure in the civic affairs of Bishop’s Stortford and was very much a benefactor and a builder in the villages serving his estate.   Examples of his works exist to this day – the beautifully restored Church of St. Giles’ (1874);  churches and their vicarages which he helped largely to build at Bush End and Hatfield Heath;  East and West Lodges, the former village school (1851) and numerous well-built semi-detached houses for estate workers – all serving as a fitting memorial to his care and concern for the villages and their people.   He also bought the manorial rights of HatfieldForest, enclosed it in 1854 and carried out a huge drainage programme, some of which is evident and operational today. The Houblons remained in occupation until the death of John Archer Houblon in 1891 and his wife Georgina in 1896, at which time the estate passed to a nephew, Major George Bramston Eyre of Welford, who changed his name to Archer Houblon on inheriting the property. In 1909, Hallingbury Place was rented by Mr. & Mrs. Lockett-Agnew and more modernisation took place.   Mrs. Locket-Agnew was a keen gardener and redesigned the grounds, which included the building of the water gardens and laying out the rose gardens.   During their tenancy, the military commandeered the parkland and King George V was entertained on 19th February 1915 when he reviewed 33,000 troops before their departure to France.   George (now Colonel) Archer Houblon died in 1913 and Mr. Lockett-Agnew in 1918.   From this time until her death in 1922, Mrs. Lockett-Agnew lived alone, tending her gardens from a wheel chair.  Captain Henry Lindsay Archer Houblon inherited the estate and offered it on lease but no one came forward and eventually it was put up for sale.  

In October 1923, the great house was demolished, the materials and contents put up for sale and the estate broken up. However, it appears that social stability was maintained under the new landlords and village life continued somewhat uneventfully between the two World Wars, with agriculture remaining as the major source of income and employment.   The church and school generated considerable social activity, which progressively assumed greater importance in other forms as working hours became regulated.  

In 1930, the need for a modern Parish Hall was apparent and money was raised to fund the carefully designed and well-constructed building which we use to this day.   It became widely used for men’s club activities, dances, whist drives and theatrical shows.   The adjacent field was purchased for the village by the Parish Council in 1991 for car parking and recreational use and the Village Hall and Field are now administered by the Great Hallingbury Village Hall Committee – a charitable trust. During this period the installation of water and electricity supplies materially improved the quality of village life. 

The second World War left Great Hallingbury relatively unscathed but the newly constructed air-base at Stansted provided the basis of major impact on the village in later years. The years following World War ll brought about the most far-reaching changes ever to befall the village, particularly in agriculture.   The horse gave way to the tractor and mechanical farming in general changed the landscape from small fields to ‘prairie’ acreage, leading to major reductions in manpower. 

In 1972, the building of the M11 Motorway was started following a route which divided the village;  the road was officially opened in June 1975.   The building of the road meant that the VillageSchool had an influx of new pupils but it was finally closed in 1981. 

Discussions on the development and enlargement of StanstedAirport started in 1964 and continue to this day.   The traffic from the airport is a dominant factor in villagers’ lives and further expansion is generally opposed by villagers, supporting the policy of the Parish Council.   The twentieth century closed dramatically in December 1999 with the crash of a Korean Airlines jumbo jet, just 150 yards beyond the nearest houses in The Street. 

The twenty first century continues with technological advances.   Broadband internet access was available throughout the village in early 2004.



Read all about the - William Bedwell and the King James’ Bible


2011 marked the 400th Anniversary of the King James’ Bible. See the February 2011 issue of the Great Hallingbury Parish magazine, and page 10 of the Autumn 2011 edition of Highlights, to read an interesting article by Philip Hays. This article sets out to explain how the Bible was translated and to focus closely on the life of one of the translators, William Bedwell of Great Hallingbury.


 Great Hallingbury is located just off the M11 (junction 8) and the village hall is in Church Road, CM22 7TZ.


The manor of Hallingbury Place was adjacent to HatfieldForest which became a royal forest under William the Conqueror and was part of the Forest of Essex.   The present villages of Great and Little Hallingbury run around the perimeter of the estate of the former Hallingbury Place.


The famous Residents of Great Hallingbury –


200 AD – 1923 AD




There are many Roman remains in the village. The Chancel arch in the church is built of Roman bricks. There have been many finds of pottery, i.e. Samian ware in the village.




The Romans left Britain in 410AD, and the Saxons took over parts of this area, the tribal leader Hallinga giving his name to the fort he built, (Hallinga’s burh)


Domesday 1086


The domesday book refers to the land before Williams’s time. Hallingbury was held by Edith, along with a freeman Godith and a thane Asgar. Edith was the mistress of King Harold, nick-named Swanneck, and legend says she was buried in St. Michaels church. The first Norman to hold the land was Geoffrey Martel, who held several manors in Great Hallingbury, with 25 acres of meadow worth 28 pence. The village also had a priest, 5 plough teams, 8 villagers (there had been 18), 5 borders, woodland for 600 pigs, 8 cattle, 120 sheep, 8 swine and 3 beehives. It was worth £6.


The Normans built the church, although only the chancel arch and one small window remain from this period.


Henry Parker


Henry Parker, Lord Morley, was a gentleman usher to King Henry VIII and was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. In around 1518, he took over the Hallingbury estates. He probably built the Tutor house, which was finally pulled down in 1923. Henry died in 1556 and the funeral helms in the church are his. (one is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum).


Henry’s grandson succeeded him. He was also called Henry and was a recusant in Elizabeth’s reign, which is probably why the priest, Richard Amadas continued to worship as a Catholic. He hid the altar Statues in the walls of the church. They were found when the church was rebuilt in the nineteenth century.


Henry was implicated in the rebellion of the Northern earls against Elizabeth in 1570, although previously in 1560, he had entertained Elizabeth at Hallingbury Place. After the uprising, he was considered a dangerous traitor and fled abroad. The crown seized the estates.


After the death of Henry, his son Edward was restored to the estates. He conformed to the Protestant religion, and in 1586 was one of the judges in the trial of Mary Queen of Scots. He again entertained Elizabeth on one of her progresses through Essex and in 1592 he bought Hatfield Forest, previously a royal hunting forest.


William Parker


William Parker 4th baron Mounteagle and Lord Morley was the next Parker of note. He married Elizabeth Tresham, sister of Sir Francis Tresham, one of the plotters in the Gunpowder plot in 1605. Realising his brother-in-law could be blown up in Parliament, attending the House of Lords,Tresham sent a letter to Mounteagle saying that “they shall receive a terrible blow, this Parliament” Mounteagle informed Sir Robert Cecil and James I and the plotters were caught. Some 30 barrels of gun powder and a large store of wood were found along with Guy Fawkes in the basement of Parliament. Lord Mounteagle went on to become a member of the Council in1606. He was a member of the East India Company. He died in 1622 and was buried in the church.


In the reign of James I there lived in Great Hallingbury another important person – William Bedwell. Born in 1562 he lived until 1632. He was an important Cambridge Scholar and is believed to have lived at Bedwell (or Bedlars) Green. He became known as the father of Arabic Studies, but was also a mathematician who wrote several mathematical treatises. He was the first teacher of Arabic in England, and author of the first European book on the Koran. He also translated the Bible into Arabic. For us he is important as a teacher at Bishop’s Stortford School and in 1604 he became one of the Westminster Company of translators of the Bible, i.e. The King James Bible 1611.


Henry Parker


Henry Parker 12th Lord Morley was a Cambridge graduate. He supported Charles I in the Civil war, was caught and denounced guilty of treason and all his wealth impounded. In 1697 his son had no heirs and the title died out. The Morleys were followed by the Turnours.


Probably, as far as the Hallingburys are concerned, the most important family were –


  The Houblons


The Houblons were religious refugee merchants  from Lille who settled in London. James Houblon, born 1592 was a friend of Pepys and is mentioned in the famous diary. Pepys also wrote his epitaph. His son John was founder of the bank of England, (His portrait is on today’s £50 note). He gave £10,000 in 1694 and became its first governor. He also became Lord Mayor of London.  John’s nephew, Richard, inherited and left his wealth to his nephew Jacob.


Jacob Houblon bought the Hallingbury estates at the end of the 17th Century. He was educated at Harrow and Cambridge and graduated in 1729. From 1735-41, he was MP for Colchester. He married Mary Hynde Cotton of Madingley in 1735. In 1736 the birth of their son Jacob was a cause for great celebration in the Hallingburys, which was reported in the London Gazeteer. Jacob made many improvements in the village. He provided work for his tenants and villagers, dredging a swamp in the forest and making the lake. He rebuilt cottages, improved methods of farming, replanted woods and copses. He also bred horses and raced them. His son Jacob continued his fathers work. He too was educated at Harrow and Cambridge and as was fashionable, went on the Grand Tour. He brought back with him seeds of Cedars of Lebanon which he planted in the Cedar Drive. His children picnicked in the forest – Laetitia decorated the Shell House. It is possible that Capability Brown worked on the Gardens at Hallingbury Place, certainly he planned them and was paid £105 in 1729.


Laetitia married Baron von Feilstach, who along with the Houblons was buried in the church yard.


Young Jacob had married Susannah Archer, hence the next personality is John Archer Houblon who did so much for the village. He built houses for his tenants, and farm hands, the school for 200 children with its text over the door ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, …’  He rebuilt the church in 1874 with its carved capitals and superb Reredos, with its inset cross. The painting is in the style of Byrne Jones. The steeple had on top of it the golden cross which he could see form the house and along his path from the house to the church. The church opening is described in detail in the records. John married twice – first Ann who died in 1847 and then Georgina, who was with him for 44 years. She wrote about his life and works which is why we know so much about him. On John’s death the estates were sold and in 1924 the estate was broken up and the house pulled down.


Our thanks to Shirley Mackrill for this text.


Great Hallingbury village includes the hamlets of Start Hill, Tilekiln Green, Bedlars Green, Howe Green, Anvil Cross, Woodside Green, Jenkins Lane and Beldams. The village falls within the Uttlesford District Council in the County of Essex.