The development of Margaretting - a brief history


Although the historic settlement pattern of Margaretting we see today is essentially medieval in origin, there was earlier activity and occupation. However, little is known of the pre-occupation in the area, although flint artefacts have been recovered from the Wid valley indicating pre-historic activity, and there are Roman materials in the church. The settlement sits astride the Roman Road between London, Chelmsford and Colchester and its present strongest focal point is the area around the crossroads. A limited number of old buildings and other evidence indicate that over the centuries development has been concentrated around the crossroads, with a secondary group of properties close to the watercourse near the junction of what is now Pennys Lane.


However, at Domesday (1086) and into the medieval period the predominant parish church – much extended in the 15C - and associated hall, would have formed the major focus of life in Margaretting, possibly because the living of the church incumbent may have been in the patronage of the Lord of Margaretting manor. It was only later that a change of focus occurred with a disassociation of church and congregation and this may have been caused by the increased importance of the crossroads to traffic passing through the village. The Domesday entry refers to Margaretting as forming part of the King’s land “held by Frebert in the name of King Edward as a manor…..”. In all there were three manors and three manor houses. The Margaretting manor house adjacent to the church was demolished with the arrival of the railway in 1841 and John Attwood of Hylands demolished the Coptfold manor house in about 1850. Today, only Killigrews, the house to Shenfields manor remains on its ancient moated site on the north-eastern edge of the parish.


A map of 1777 depicts some of the older buildings of the village including the church, Canterburys, the Red Lion, Peacocks, the Parsonage, Coptfold Hall, Bearmans and Killigrews together with small clusters of buildings elsewhere, whilst a map of 1873 shows the addition of several large houses including Eweland Hall, Park Lodge, Bishops Court, Furze Hill and Ivy Hill.Larger scale development of smaller dwellings did not commence until the early 1920s.


It is recorded that the population of the village in 1851 was 517 and in 1901, 551. The latest census figure for the village is 825. In 1851 there were 106 inhabited houses and in the early 1900s 125. Today’s figure is 363. Over the last several decades planning policies have severely restricted development and over the last 25 years only 17 new houses have been built. The slow rate of development has been the main contributor to the character of the village as it exists today.