Waltham (half-)Hundred lay in the south-west region of Essex, bordering on Hertfordshire. The settlement that became known as Waltham Holy Cross, or (in the post-medieval period) Waltham Abbey, was situated some fifteen miles north-east of London, on the east side of the Lea Valley, which rose gently towards Epping Forest. That its site was itself well wooded is suggested by the Saxon place-name, referring to a small settlement within the forest; Domesday records sufficient woodland there for 202 pigs to forage, although the number actually present before the Conquest was far smaller. The River Lea, running southwards from Hertford until it entered the Thames, formed the boundary between the two counties; this river, with its tidal estuary, was wide enough to accommodate ships of Viking invaders (895), and later to support barges transporting food and drink to London and stone to Waltham in 1229 for construction work on the abbey; in fact, the river may have been used for transport of goods as early as the Iron Age [Stewart Bryant, Vicky Seddon, and Catherine Marlow, Ware: Extensive Urban Survey Project Assessment Report, Hertfordshire County Council, 1998, p.3]. In the 1990s archaeologists discovered a large and sturdy timber dock at the abbey end of one of the cuts off the Lea, suspected to be contemporary with the late twelfth century construction of the abbey [Peter Huggins, "A medieval dock at Waltham Abbey, and a consideration of medieval measurements," London Archaeologist, vol.11, no.2 (2005), p.47]. Efforts were occasionally made to improve river navigability, by diverting or dredging older channels, cutting new ones, and by removing obstacles, but the terms of a royal commission of enquiry into weirs and kiddles in 1440 suggest that river traffic, at least in the stretch of the Lea near Ware, had been brought to a standstill by that period.
That the hundred was presumably named for the Saxon settlement at Waltham suggests the latter had been established at early date. Seventh-century foundations of a church possibly a minster have been found under the choir of the later abbey; a parish focused on this small wooden church, which hearks back to the initial but short-lived conversion of the East Saxons to Christianity, was given synodal approval in 673. The church was rebuilt in stone in the eighth century and was reputed to have been given, by Cnut's standard-bearer Tofig, a miraculously-revealed and miracle-performing stone cross, which thereafter attracted pilgrims to the church. Middle Saxon burials have been found in the vicinity. Ca. 1060 Earl Harold Godwinson, then holder of Waltham, rebuilt the church again, enlarging it to serve a college of secular canons, and had it consecrated to the Holy Cross (one of the twelfth-century canons wrote down the legend of the cross); whether Harold's remains were, after Hastings, buried in Waltham's priory has long been a matter of dispute.
The manor having passed to William I, a further rebuilding programme, underway ca.1090-1150, established a precinct with the necessary buildings to accommodate the canons and, again, a refurbished church. In 1177 Henry II supposedly as part of his penance for the murder of Becket replaced the secular canons with a larger number of Augustinians, added St. Lawrence to the dedication, and sponsored his canons in yet another rebuild of the church, on a grander scale; in 1184 he promoted the priory to the Abbey of Waltham Holy Cross, after which his financial support of the church rebuild was more sporadic his successor's charter to the abbey apparently aimed at replacing periodic royal grants of aid with steadier income resources. The nave of the abbey church, its oldest surviving part (twelfth century), continued to serve as the parish church too. The abbey's original landed endowments included some lands in Waltham, gifted by Tofig and Harold, along with later ones, which included Waltham manor the largest estate in the hundred granted in part by Henry II and the remainder by Richard I in 1189, along with the hundred and nearby Nazeing not outright, but for an annual fee-farm. The king seems to have retained at least a modest residence within the manor perhaps the hunting-lodge, though he was at times accommodated in the abbey. Henry III is seen keeping at Waltham his wine cellar, periodically replenishing, the wine from new imports landed at Southampton and London; his ageing wine was sometimes sold off there. As well, he had his Waltham bailiffs regularly commission the baking of large quantities of farthing loaves and arrange their carriage to Westminster at Easter, the festival of St. Edward the Confessor (whom Henry had taken as his patron and model), and sometimes other festivals, though whether for consumption in the king's hall or for distribution to the poor is not stated; nor is it evident whether this business benefited the townspeople or was undertaken at the abbey's bakery, housed in a building on Church Street, at the entrance to Paradise Row, on which site archaeologists would later discover a group of five ovens dating from ca. 1300 on.
Its endowments made Waltham Abbey the wealthiest in the county sufficiently secure that the king and other members of the aristocracy could use it as, in effect, a bank and arguably the most important Augustinian house in England. Part of the king's ancient demesne, its tenants had the liberties that customarily belonged to that kind of liberty, and Henry II granted them additional liberties, including freedom from tolls in all markets and fairs, and from tolls of passage over bridges, roads, and waterways, throughout the realm; the abbey was exempted from jurisdiction of the shire court, and as a royal free chapel (a status confirmed by papal bull in 1182) it was exempt from episcopal jurisdiction.
Just north of the church was what is believed to have been a royal estate documentary and archaeological evidence supporting the presence of a rectangular enclosure, within which remains have been found of an eleventh-century hall, of late Viking style; this hall may point to a possible connection with Tofig, who is said to have built a modest hunting lodge at Waltham considered by the author of the legend of the cross to be the beginnings of the vill of Waltham [Evidence surrounding the historicity of Tofig is reviewed by P.J. Huggins, "The Excavation of an 11th-century Viking Hall and 14th-century Rooms at Waltham Abbey, Essex, 1969-71," Medieval Archaeology, vol.20 (1976), pp.75-78]. On the other hand, the hall may have pre-dated Tofig, though in any case the proximity of hall and church suggests the latter as manorial in origin. A burial excavated near Sun Street in Waltham yielded a copper alloy plate decorated with a serpent design, further indication of the presence of a Scandinavian elite. Waltham, or some nearby site, was the ancient meeting-place of the hundred and, from the thirteenth century, of the hundred court; the royal estate doubtless served as the administrative centre for the forest of the hundred. As a raised area, Waltham's marketplace first mentioned in the 1325 rental, or at least implied through the by-name (de Foro) of a tenant, and more explicitly in a rental of ca.1320 has been suggested as a possible site of the hundred-moot [P.J. Huggins, "Excavations in the Market Place, Waltham Abbey 1981: the Moot Hall and Romano-British occupation", Essex Archaeology and History ser.3, vol.19 (1988) pp.198, 206, 209]. It was, however, south of the church that the village of Waltham developed, though it may initially have taken the form of dispersed clusters of dwellings closer to the river [Maria Medlycott, Waltham Abbey - Historic Towns Assessment Report, Essex County Council,1999 p.4]; archaeology suggests settlement in the area of the medieval town began around the eleventh century, with population expanding onto land some of which was reclaimed from marsh. The twelfth century saw the priory gradually gaining possession of the territory of its parish, and it is easy to imagine the establishment of a formal market at Waltham as part of institutional strategy at that period to strengthen the economic foundations of the ecclesiastical community.
It has been speculated that the preparedness of the Crown to farm out the manor at times during the late twelfth century, with a few individual tenants for a while (1170) associated with the lay community as a whole acting as sometime farmers, may be indicative of an effort to attain borough status for the settlement, for a rental drawn up ca.1235 shows that half the main manor's tenants were described as burgesses of the king's fee; but any such initiative may have been countered by the canons' effort to gain control of the parish territories and add hundredal jurisdiction to that of the manorial court [W.R. Powell, ed., Victoria County History of Essex, London: 1966, vol. 5, pp 155, 168.]. We have no further reference to burgesses on the manor, although there is a slight possibility that the local surname Breggis (found 1361-1455) is a corruption of 'burgess'. Britnell counted a dozen final concords involving landless messuages at Waltham, and a survey from the reign of Edward VI mentions a High Street tenement whose rent was 12d. [W. Winters, The History of the Ancient Parish of Waltham Abbey, Waltham Abbey, 1888, p.142] , suggestive (but, as an isolated instance, no more though see below) of a burgage. However, since no blocks of burgage plots are conspicuous in the modern topography, burgess properties in Waltham may have been dispersed and/or of non-standard sizes and rents. Roads approaching the market particularly Silver Street (which led to an open area containing the communal dunghill) and stretches of East Street (now Sun Street) and Sewardstone Street immediately off the marketplace may prove better candidates in the search for properties held by burgage tenure, for property frontages are generally narrow in those locations, as well as along those sides of Market Square that have escaped modern redevelopment. Archaeology suggests that occupation along East Street represents expansion that began in the thirteenth century.
It remains at least conceivable that royal acknowledgement, in 1189, of the right to a market was followed by planned development of the marketplace surrounds to accommodate new settlers; one of the landless messuage transactions at Waltham is an early example, occurring only two years after the market grant, in which Aldwin the tanner acquired (apparently from a widow, whose son's interest was also bought out) a residence to be held for 12d. annual rent in lieu of all other services, the abbey being mesne lord of the property; this may be a glimpse of the process of a burghal component being established. Such settlers could well have been offered burgage tenure as an incentive, but unaccompanied by any charter of liberties that would have weakened abbey jurisdiction. This might have satisfied local desire for more self-determination, at least temporarily. The lawhundred court roll for 1456 refers to a moot hall, but its location is uncertain, though it was flanked by two solar-topped shops and by the abbot's gaol. A market house, the lower of its two storeys open, heard of in the post-medieval period, must have been erected by one of the abbots, for they were considered responsible for maintenance of both market and market house, though were neglectful of such responsibilities. Correction of market offences was exercised through the leet sessions of the manorial court, where were also chosen the minor officials overseeing the quality of ale, meat, and leatherwares offered for sale. The moot hall could point to some degree of community organization, but more probably it was where the manorial court met. Similarly, in 1527 we hear of the appointment for life of a bailiff, or portreeve, whose responsibilities included the market and fairs, but this official was chosen by and answerable to the abbot, nor do we know for how long the office had existed.
Whether the abbey's initiative in 1190/91 to improve river navigability by altering its course (for which royal licence was required) was part of its overall plan to develop Waltham, we cannot know. However, it does seem that the plan included reclamation of marsh in the vicinity of Romeland (see below) by raising the ground level, which archaeology indicates occurred in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century.
There may well have long been market activity at Late Anglo-Saxon Waltham, fuelled partly by London trade using the Lea. The Domesday entry for Harold's manor of Waltham shows it to have had a large population prior to the Conquest, still growing in 1086. We hear of the pre-Conquest mill having been joined by two more; at least one was powered by an artificial watercourse, while a second such channel may have been created for washing out the abbey sewers and/or allowing barges (bringing building materials) to access the abbey site [P.J. Huggins, "Excavation of a Medieval Bridge at Waltham Abbey, Essex, In 1968," Medieval Archaeology, vol.14 (1970), p.128]. Domesday also mentions five fisheries, presumably in the various channels of the Lea that ran through marshy ground at the bottom of the valley, rather than referring to the manorial fish-ponds; by 1355 most of these fisheries were owned by the abbey. The marshland was suitable for pasturing sheep, although Domesday does not document a very large number of these, while forested parts of the manor facilitated pig-farming. Thus, the manor had a variety of resources that could be developed for commercial opportunity, and its value was deemed to have risen considerably since the Conquest. The marshes and the river were crossed by a causeway connecting the site of Waltham Abbey with Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire of possible Roman construction; bridges were later inserted along this route. The Domesday entry further shows that a dozen houses in London, along with Aldgate, were attached to the episcopal manor, and in 1300 the abbey still held enough properties there to warrant the abbot appointing a citizen as his soke-reeve, whose job included keeping an eye on London legal proceedings in order to claim for the abbey court any cases that arose concerning the abbey's London tenants.
In 1086 the manor of Waltham excluding the lands already held by the priory was in the hands of the Bishops of Durham, by grant of William I, but ca. 1096, when the bishopric was vacant and in the king's hands, William II restored part of its Waltham lands to the canons, while the remainder became part of royal demesne. Henry I gave Waltham to his queen, Matilda, and it is occasionally seen later as one of the estates assigned as queen's dower, although sometimes was farmed out to different parties, proceeds from the farm being allocated to various uses, including support of King's Hall, an early Cambridge college. Matilda gave the mills there to the canons, in compensation for the loss of some of their London property, on which she founded the priory of Holy Trinity, Aldgate, and freedom of that priory from subjection to Waltham. In addition she gave them two fairs, held at the two festivals dedicated to the Holy Cross, in May and September, her grant indicating that the fairs were already established events; Henry III's confirmation (1253) of this grant extended each fair to the length of one week, and it specified the fairs could be held wherever in the vill the canons wished, so long as not in the churchyard. Those frequenting the fairs included Londoners, who in 1257 objected to being subjected to tolls there, and won the abbot's recognition that they would not henceforth be. [Winters, op.cit.,p.21]
On the same occasion as his fair grant, Henry who was then making a brief stay at Waltham and presumably being wined and dined at the abbey reconfirmed the canons' principal royal charter and granted them free warren in their various demesne lands, view of frankpledge and other jurisdictional privileges, a Monday market at their manor of Epping Heath, a Saturday market at Takeley, and short fairs at each location. Both places were within Waltham Hundred. Several miles north-east of Waltham, Epping Heath was within another ancient demesne manor (Eppingbury) that had, before Domesday, been given to the canons. They, having obtained royal permission, cleared space within the forest around part of a London-Cambridge trade route (via Hertford) also used for carrying fish from Yarmouth to London, and pilgrims to the shrine at Walsingham at a point where it was joined by lesser roads, from Waltham Abbey and Harlow. Here they laid out residential plots (which have the look of burgages, extending to what was once known as Back, now Hemnall, Street) and erected stalls. Henry's grant of the Epping Heath market was, in fact, accompanied by an uncommon provision, whereby he ordered the steward of Epping forest to permit the abbot to construct stalls, shops, or suchlike necessary for the market, so long as he used his own timber. A village, with chapel, developed along the linear street, a stretch of which was widened to serve as marketplace; by about 1235 there were already some fifty tenants, mostly smallholders, living on the heath, and the consequent grant of a market where their agricultural produce could be redistributed, perhaps accompanied by laying out of new residential plots, further stimulated population growth. This market settlement, under the name Epping Street, later became a component of the town of Epping.
By contrast, Takeley was a somewhat dispersed settlement, divided into several manors at the time of Domesday; and it was more distant from Waltham Abbey, being just west of Great Dunmow, atop a hill-top site, beside a through-road, roughly following the line of Roman Stane Street, joining Colchester and St. Albans. One interpretation of its name is a settlement established at the edge of an area cleared of forest. The focus of the village, however, was a linear street that served as the southern boundary of the parish and was known as Takeley Street. Because of this division of territory among different parishes and manors, only the northern side of the street was developed with residential plots we may suspect by the canons of Waltham Abbey. The fair granted in 1253 was held at Holy Trinity, to which Takeley's church was dedicated there being no such correspondence at Epping, though both communities' churches date from the twelfth century and may represent an early phase in the development of the settlements.
Apart from the instances of Waltham, Epping, and Takeley, Waltham Abbey is not known to have had markets on any other of its manors. Although the Domesday entry for a manor at Stanstede (Herts., now Stanstead Abbotts) seven miles north of Waltham and also by the River Lea which had come into the abbey's possession in the time of Henry II, refers to twelve burgesses there, these may have been manorial tenants based at Hertford [Beresford and Finberg, English Medieval Boroughs: A handlist Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973, p.125]; there is no further mention of them, nor any record of a market there, though at neighbouring Stanstead St. Margarets, where a toll-bridge across the Lea carried a road to Hertford, a market and fair were licensed in 1281 by John de Lovetot, who in the 1270s had acquired an interest in the manor through marriage to a co-heiress, and the couple proceeded to acquire the interests of the other heirs. However, it is evident that the twelfth century saw the canons active in clearing land, partly for the purpose of developing market settlements. The markets and fairs at Epping Heath and Takeley were said to have fallen into disuse well before 1575, when differently-timed events were granted to the manorial lord; they had evidently failed to remain competitive.
Waltham's market seems to have fared better, however. It is documented well before Henry III's confirmation; for in 1189 Richard I's grant to the canons of the entire manor of Waltham, including all appurtenances, explicitly included the manor's woods, park, and market. The last may have been held on Sundays for, in 1560, by which time the value of the market was said to have greatly declined, the post-Dissolution owner of the manor was licensed to change the day from Sunday to Tuesday (which remains a market-day there). The Domesday village itself is said, by the abbey's chronicler, to have burned down consequent to an assault by followers of Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1144, but, apart from the canons' houses, apparently interspersed with those of lay settlers, the priory suffered little damage; it is not certain whether we can take this at face value (though Stubbs and the fault-finding Round held the source a pseudo-chronicle focused on the foundation of the abbey in some regard, overall), but if true it could have prepared the way for the introduction of a new market settlement. So too could the provision of the 1189 charter authorizing the abbey to assart 300 acres of royal forest within Waltham manor, though most of this would have been to expand the amount of arable land that could be rented out.
The market at Waltham, which possibly originated before the Conquest as a hundredal market, benefited not only from having the abbey as an important consumer and producer of goods, but from the growing population on Waltham manor and other estates and farmlands in the vicinity that had been given to the abbey. One such estate was Nazeing, just four miles north of Waltham and also on the Essex bank of the Lea, and another was Sewardstone, a similar distance south; both of those hamlets, linked by a road that passed through Waltham, were outlying members of the manor, neither possessed of a market of its own. The aforementioned abbey rental of ca.1235 lists some 170 tenements in the main part of the manor and around 80 in each of Sewardstone and Nazeing, though the number of tenants was slightly fewer, as some held more than one property. The population does not seem to have grown much in the Late Middle Ages perhaps only enough to compensate for the losses to plague.
Besides the abbey's own market at Epping, there were, or arose, a number of other markets in the same region of Essex. On the opposite bank of the River Lea from Waltham lay Cheshunt (Herts.), which developed along the London-Cambridge route, and was close to Roman Ermine Street, which extended to Lincoln and York. Although not identified as a borough in Domesday, this valuable capital manor's inhabitants included ten merchants, whose payment of 10s. annually in customary dues has the look of burgage rents. Part of the Honour of Richmond, its forfeiture by the Counts of Brittany and Henry III's grant of it in 1241 to Peter of Savoy, a kinsman of Henry's queen, was followed by the issue of a market and fair licence to the manor of Cheshunt in 1245, a relatively late date; yet the location of the marketplace is uncertain, though the shape of some tenement plots along the High Street, with a back lane at their rears, and other plots (without back lane) by a triangular area that is a candidate for marketplace, hint at the possibility of a burghal component. The proximity of Cheshunt and Waltham in the marshy meadowlands adjacent to the Lea resulted in periodic boundary disputes, from the thirteenth century on, between the abbey and the lord or men of Cheshunt over grazing rights. But there is no indication in the written record of market competition, and it may be that commercial activity of Cheshunt men focused on the river more than on its road connections; nonetheless, Cheshunt's market was still profitable enough for its licence to be renewed when it came into new seigneurial hands in 1335 and again in 1344.
A few miles north of Cheshunt was one of that manor's outliers, a berewick that developed into the village, and eventually town, of Hoddesdon. That slow process was furthered when Richard de Boxe licensed a market and fair in 1253; this was not in one of the larger manors of the vicinity, but a sub-manor, held by, and named after, that family (whose main base lay elsewhere in the county). The marketplace was a widened, funnel-shaped area at the north end of what would later be Hoddesdon's High Street, where two roads (both from Ware) converged at the top of a slope rising to a ridge. In 1256 Richard was given royal licence to enclose and build on land between the two forking roads, just beyond the market cross (which lets us know that Richard had implemented his licence); he was probably building a manor-house there for himself, apparently displacing some existing tenants, but long burgage-type plots, visible on maps (though no sign of a back lane servicing them), suggest that Richard's planning may have included provisions for new settlement. Neither he nor any other lord of the several manors at Hoddesdon, erected a parish church, so that the settlement long remained in the parish of nearby Broxbourne, a little further south along the London-Cambridge road. But in 1336 William de la Marche had licence to put up a chapel at the north end of the marketplace, near the point where the High Street divided, and this may reflect growth both of market business and local population. Nonetheless, Hoddesdon remained small and compact, its layout focused on the backbone street, with only a little evidence of occupational diversity in the fourteenth century, though prosperous enough thanks perhaps largely to the growing importance of the London-Cambridge road that its market cross could be rebuilt in the fifteenth as a more elaborate structure, and a market hall constructed in the following century.
A few miles north-east of Hoddesdon, and a similar distance north-west of Nazeing, and south of Stanstead Abbots, Roydon (Essex) was a collection of scattered farms and manorial estates, one of whose lords, Walter Fitz-Robert, received in 1257 a licence for a market and for a fair to be held on one of the festivals of St. Peter, to whom was dedicated Roydon's church. That church had been built ca. 1225, but replaced an older church which Walter's father or grandfather had gifted to the Knights Templar; the Templars had acquired from him a small sub-manor at Roydon before 1205. Walter died the year following his market grant, but his son, Robert Fitz-Walter, renewed the licence in 1292 in order to shift market-day from Monday to Thursday. Settlement at Roydon focused around a north-south through-road whose local stretch (the High Street), at its northern end, forked before exiting the village; between the two diverging roads was a green on the east side of the church, with the Fitz-Walter manor-house at the north end and the Templars' manor-house just south of the church. The market likely took place on the green, although the location of a market cross in the seventeenth century, at a junction where roads from Epping and Harlow met the High Street, suggest that commercial activity had spread south of the Green, down the High Street. There is no sign of a burghal component beside the green whose surrounding buildings are only loosely arranged or along the High Street; most plots in the older part of Roydon are wider and larger than those typical of burgages, even though some of the building fabric dates as far back as the thirteenth century. At the southern end of Roydon parish lay Roydon Hamlet, a part of Waltham manor.
South of Cheshunt (i.e. south-west of Waltham Abbey), and about as far from it as Hoddesden, though not quite as close to the Lea or to the London-Cambridge road, was Enfield, whose market, along with two fairs, was licensed in 1303 by earl Humphrey de Bohun. These events were probably held on a green in front of the parish church, which may have existed since before Domesday but was rebuilt in the thirteenth century, having already been given to the priory founded by the Mandevilles at Saffron Walden; one of the fairs was held on the festival of the saint to whom that church was dedicated. Though shops and stalls around the green are recorded in a survey of mid-fourteenth century, and encroaching houses along two sides in the sixteenth, there is no other indication the market thrived particularly during the medieval period. At one corner of the green arrived from London a minor road (though possibly on the line of Ermine Street) which then continued north as Silver Street, while the equally minor road along the southern edge of the marketplace led eastwards to the Cambridge road and westwards to High Barnet, where the abbey of St. Albans licensed a market in 1199; this lay on a St. Albans-London road, which the abbey had established across its land, so that the location, thereafter often known as Chipping Barnet, attracted population away from an older settlement at East Barnet. There is no evidence of a burghal component introduced in medieval Enfield, and it was not until a new market licence was issued and a formal marketplace laid out in the seventeenth century that a nucleated settlement really began to emerge.
Further from Waltham Abbey, but all within about a ten-mile radius that is, Bracton's area of potential competition were markets at Ware and Hertford to the north, and north-west, respectively, Harlow to the north-east, and Barking the south-east, whilst Barnet to the south-west is on the edge of this range. Harlow and Barking have been dealt with elsewhere in this study, the former's market receiving a licence in 1220, the latter's being first documented in 1219.
Hertford's site, divided by the River Lea, there joined by several lesser rivers, but a little west of Ermine Street, had long been favoured for settlement before the place-name was captured in Bede's history (ca. 731). The Lea was here part of the boundary between the Danelaw and Wessex, and in 912/13 Edward the Elder constructed, on land acquired for the purpose, burhs on either side of the ford across the Lea; the county of Hertfordshire (first referenced 1011) may have been created (mostly out of Middlesex) at the same time or later in the century, Hertford being the county town throughout the Middle Ages. The earlier of the burhs, itself protected by the rivers, was probably defensive to control the ford, prevent Viking raiders using the Lea to penetrate Saxon-held territory, provide occasional refuge for populace of the surrounding countryside (though there is some evidence of longer-term occupancy), and probably as a launching-point for future campaigns of re-conquest. The later and smaller burh, albeit protected by ditch, bank and palisade, was more carefully planned, being given a grid-pattern layout of streets, likely with a central marketplace, since that was the site of the later marketplace (although by the Late Middle Ages certain wares were traded in particular streets); and was evidently intended as a centre for permanent habitation, commerce, minting, and administration that is, a town (for Edward tried to restrict commerce to towns) which would generate revenues for the monarchy. The river-valleys converging on Hertford would have brought to its market, or to its quayside for shipping on to London, produce from the fertile grain-growing areas of its hinterland.
Domesday initially refers to Hertford as a borough (within a like-named hundred, stretching south to Cheshunt) under royal lordship, of high and growing value, with a large population that included in 1066 146 burgesses on the king's land, though other references to burgesses, some attached to manors outside the borough, raises the total number closer to 170. In the thirteenth century we find the total amount from burgage rents, or hawgable, due from the community fixed at 14s., which would correspond to 168 tenements, if the rent had anciently been 1d. (one of the more commonly encountered rates); but we cannot make too much of this. At the close of its Domesday entry, Hertford is described as a suburbium, which may mean the complete vill, or manor, including burgess and non-burgess tenements a distinction again suggested as late as 1359 so that the borough might be thought of as a burghal component (albeit aboriginal and market-associated, rather than a later add-on) within Hertford. The burgess community may have gone on to obtain the right to elect the town bailiffs, and to hold the town at fee-farm, at least on occasion, but did not until 1554 obtain the first of those royal charters of liberties which had already brought increased independence and self-determination to most boroughs of comparable significance. That is, it was slow to mature, local administration retaining aspects of a manorial character, despite Hertford being represented at a number of fourteenth-century parliaments a responsibility begged off in Henry V's reign, on grounds of poverty of the borough; the revenues from market and fairs, for example, remained a manorial perquisite until granted to the incorporated borough in 1605.
Domesday Hertford had three mills, generating a decent revenue for the king, and two churches. One of these churches was probably located within each of the burh circuits, they being usually identified with the dedications to St. Mary, located at the entrance to the earlier burh, and, in the case of the mercantile burh, St. Nicholas; a Saxon or early medieval cemetery, perhaps that of St. Nicholas' church, has been identified by archaeologists as overlapping one edge of the marketplace. These may have been the churches held in 1086 by Peter de Valognes, then the sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire and farmer of Hertford manor, although it was All Saints, situated immediately south of the mercantile burh, that Robert de Valognes gave, at some point in the eleventh century, to Waltham Abbey. The abbey also held land in the southern part of Hertford Hundred, at Wormley (between Cheshunt and Hoddesdon), and came to acquire properties in Hertford borough itself. Hertford manor including the king's rights in the borough, the fishery, jurisdiction over the Lea from Hertford to Waltham, and market and toll revenues from Ware, Thele (as Stanstead St. Margaret's was earlier known), Hatfield (close to both a Lea bridge and a major road to the north), and possibly some smaller communities was intermittently within the orbit of the Valence family (earls of Pembroke) or part of the queens' dower, but became part of the duchy of Lancaster under Edward III.
The strategic importance of Hertford was also appreciated by the Normans, who perhaps through the agency of Peter de Valognes built a castle there, probably soon after the Conquest, close to the edges of the two burhs (which lay roughly to its north and east) and to the ford, which was soon superseded by Mill Bridge. Henry II rebuilt tthe castle in a larger and sturdier form ca. 1170, and it became the base of a royal garrison and later an occasional royal residence, although for a while in the hands of Robert Fitz-Walter, who married a Valognes heiress. Land to the west and south of the castle, as well as around the old burhs, subsequently (and, in places, during the more peaceful decades prior to the Conquest) became growth areas where more burgage tenements were established an indication of the borough's prosperity. The rectangular marketplace of the second burh continued to serve that function, the streets on either side Fore Street, the later High Street, and Back Street, slightly less built up seeming to have been the borough's main thoroughfares and connecting to a street skirting the castle and continuing to the bridge which accessed the northern half of the borough; as with most marketplaces, it experienced infilling from the Late Middle Ages, though even later demolition of some market buldings created Market Street as a modern echo of the medieval marketplace. However, markets also seem to have been held at a site on the opposite bank of the river, immediately outside the original burh and close to St. Mary's church, known as Old Cross a feature visible in Speed's map of 610 in a widened part of the road that would have traversed the burh. This marketplace, if such it were, would seem to be a legacy from the tenth century, but not one otherwise documented. Despite the double burh and apparent double market, there is no indication that there at any time emerged two distinct, neighbouring towns; Domesday gives the impression of a single borough, albeit within the larger community of the vill.
If Hertford's constitutional development was not commensurate with its status as county town and, we may guess, an initial pre-eminence within its shire as a market centre and base for collection of tolls due the king, there are indications its economy reliant on channelling land and water traffic through its site may also not have flourished as well as it ought. This was perhaps due a little to damage of the castle during a siege in 1216, but more to the growing rivalry with Ware (see below), as well as other communities (including London) that sought to counter Hertford's attempts to dominate the Lea as a trade route, and oblige land traffic to cross the river at the Hertford bridge, rather than that at Ware bridges being a natural point for collection of tolls; but travellers preferred the route through Ware. The acquisition in 1226 by Hertford's burgesses of licence for a week-long fair in October may have been an attempt to regain some of what had been lost, and by 1331 a second fair, in August, was being operated; yet the 1334 lay subsidy on moveable wealth shows Hertford's assessment only half that of Ware's. The shift (1368) of one of the market-days from Wednesday to Thursday must likewise have been an adjustment, by a new seigneurial owner, to counter loss of business to other markets a problem specifically acknowledged three decades later but helped only in the short-term. Henry VI, in confirming Hertford's markets, prohibited any market from being held on the same days at Ware or anywhere within seven miles of Hertford; it is conceivable that this commercial banlieu had much older origins, for the other communities (mentioned above) whose tolls on commerce had to be accounted for as part of Hertford's farm lay within such a range. But the occupational range evidenced at Hertford does not indicate any industrial or commercial depth or specialization the manufacture of paper at the mill of a manor on the outskirts of Hertford only survived a few years around the close of the Middle Ages. Economic decay there continued into the fifteenth century, the value of evenues from market and fairs continuing to drop, and resort to farming them out not proving much of a help. Revival of its economy in the post-medieval period was partly thanks to Hertford's ability to respond to London's need for grain and malt (produced at various locations along the river, which offered cheaper transportation than pack-horse) particularly after the river was canalized in the eighteenth century and the proliferation of coaching inns.
Ware (Herts.) was another location on the London-Cambridge road and on the Lea, site of a Roman town, and a large and valuable manor at the time of Domesday, acquired by one of the Conqueror's companions, Hugh de Grandmesnil; it was linked by road to nearby Hertford, a couple of miles south-west. The area of Saxon settlement had its plot layout altered and was expanded eastwards in late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, apparently as a result of planned seigneurial development: a Tuesday market was licensed in 1199 by Robert de Beaumont, 4th Earl of Leicester and descendant of Grandmesnil, and at some time between then and his death in 1204 Robert issued a charter granting that those who had been, or would in future be, allocated by his manorial court residential plots at Ware could hold them in free burgage. Earl Robert, or a predecessor, had built a new bridge across the Lea, to encourage commercial traffic to pass through Ware; the Roman bridge carrying Ermine Street had decayed to unusability, and a later bridge somewhere between Ware and its commercial rival, Hertford, along with an adjacent ford, were, ca. 1191, first barred, then the bridge pulled down, by Hertford men who, claiming the crossing as appurtenant to their borough, aimed at forcing land traffic to cross the Lea at Hertford.
This dispute was essentially about control of shipping grain and other goods to London, and where tolls could be collected from commercial travellers, a contest that at times tended to favour Hertford and at other times sought resolution through compromise or the courts. In 1207 tolls leviable on cargoes loaded onto boats at Ware, or being transported by river through Ware, were granted by the king to Petronilla de Grandmesnil, Robert de Beaumont's mother, dowager countess of Leicester, and at that time seigneur of Ware. A later countess was challenged (1226) in that regard by the bailiffs of Hertford, who claimed the right to take toll on cargo vessels using the river; a settlement conceded toll collection at Ware, but required half the proceeds to go to Hertford, and exempted Hertford men from toll on cargoes loaded at Hertford. Ware nonetheless managed to outstrip Hertford in terms of demographic, and probably economic, growth. In 1224 Hertford complained that Ware's market was detrimental to its own; this may have stemmed from an effort to add market-days at Ware on Wednesday and Friday, the days used at Hertford, and it is not clear whether a resultant order to suppress the Ware market had any more effect than presumably complicating toll collection there, for the complaint about multiple market-days was still a sore point at the hundredal enquiries of 1275. In 1258 the Hertford townsmen again demolished the Ware bridge, dug an obstructive channel in the ford, and a ditch across the road to London, but still could not prevent traffic taking the more direct route that passed through Ware, to which men of the latter may have made improvements, or even diverted to the detriment of Hertford. A seigneurial successor at Ware ca. 1275 was interfering with road traffic between Ware and Hertford and had erected in the Lea a weir to block the passage of vessels from Hertford and probably to collect tolls there; these impediments were another issue raised at the hundredal hearings. A rebuild of the parish church of St. Mary's at some point in the thirteenth century may have been another part of a broader plan to develop Ware.
Earl Robert de Beaumont dying without male heirs, and following a period (1207-ca.1212) when his mother, as dowager countess, was granted Ware's market and bridge, his estates were divided between his elder sister's son, Simon de Montfort, who succeeded as earl of Leicester, and a younger sister, married to Saer de Quincy, made Earl of Winchester in 1207; Saer was a kinsman and close friend of Robert Fitz-Walter. A younger son of Saer, Robert de Quincy, was given the manor of Ware in 1253 by his older brother Roger, who inherited the earldom; in 1254 Robert obtained licence for a fair there at the September festival of the Nativity of St. Mary, though he died three years later. Earl Roger confirmed Robert de Beaumont's grant of free burgage to Ware residents, though whether this was before or after the death of Robert de Quincy, we do not know, for all that survives to us is a royal inspeximus and confirmation of the grant, purchased by the community of Ware in 1447, which is suggestive of some degree of communal organization. Both Robert and Roger leaving only daughters, lordship of Ware became divided, passing by marriage through the hands of various other lordly families. None of their inquisitions post mortem refer to market or fair at Ware, although we hear of a fishery and a fulling mill, and there are other indications that new settlers at Ware in the thirteenth century included some cloth-workers this being another of the complaints Hertford had in its economic contest with Ware.
Infrequent references in the Late Middle Ages to a borough at Ware suggest that burgage tenure may have become the predominant tenurial condition, although its introduction seems associated with the institution of a formal market, and the Ware community is not known to have been conceded any other chartered liberties, nor been treated as a borough for purposes of national administration. There appear to have been two marketplaces in Ware, both using widened parts of the through-road: the eastern marketplace was a triangular space extending northwards to East Street, fed by other incoming roads, including one from the bridge, and not far from the manor-house; the western marketplace began where the eastern ended, extending as far west as the churchyard and perhaps northwards to West Street. Both areas were, as usual, largely lost to gradual encroachment of houses and shops. Whether this unusual double marketplace had anything to do with the multiple market-days and related segregation of livestock from produce, or whether indicative of different planning phases or migration of market activities, is unknown. In the post-medieval period Ware's market continued to prosper, but it did not expand much further and ceased to be referred to as a borough.
This lengthy digression from our main theme of Waltham Holy Cross serves to show that there emerged a string of markets on, or close to, northbound routes, both land and water, connecting London to several counties which were a source of foodstuffs for that city, but without any overt signs that is, complaints from or about Waltham Abbey's market that it was involved in any damaging rivalry. For Waltham's was the earliest of all these to be the subject of an explicit royal grant, and only Hertford's market can be said with confidence to have been more ancient. Most markets close to Waltham Abbey are not documented until the reign of Henry III, which was when the abbey obtained grant of its own markets at Epping and Takeley. The abbey was in a position to ensure, through the specifics of the grant, that those two presented no direct conflict in timing with Waltham's own market. Yet nor was there any apparent conflict with other markets of the region, in terms of market-day, for, although Monday seems to have been a popular choice among the group we have examined, only Takeley's Saturday event posed a risk, in the sense of drawing away trade that could have patronized Waltham's Sunday market. Roydon's change of market-day might possibly have been to distance it from the event at Waltham and other Monday events in the region, but again there is no record of any formal court challenge. That Waltham's market-day seems to have remained on Sundays a day not generally popular with the Church until 1560 suggests that it felt no great pressure from nearby Monday markets. Or it may be that the abbey's interest in a market at Waltham was mainly to serve its own needs and those of its tenants, rather than to compete for a share of long-distance trade; its main commercial concern was perhaps to keep the river accessible for transporting farm produce to London.
Settlement at Waltham developed in an area between the abbey, to the north-east, and the point of confluence of the marshland branches of the Lea, to the west. The marketplace, which later came to be known as Market Square, was at the east end of a street that, running past the abbey, continued westwards to crossings of the Lea and its branches, and was variously known as West Street, Highbridge Street, and (as early as 1314) High Street, becoming Church Street in front of the abbey. Connecting this main street to the gateway into the abbey precinct ran a lane that passed through an open (roomy) space, whose character is probably captured in its name of Romeland; the name (not entirely unknown in other ecclesiastical contexts) brings to mind Tombland at Norwich, and it is conceivable that Romeland which was much later used as a livestock market could represent the fairground, as was the case with a Romeland immediately outside St. Albans abbey, or an early marketplace whose location proved inconvenient to the abbey and was moved in conjunction with development of a burghal component. Reference in 1563 to an 'old market place' supports the idea of a relocation, although the term might have applied to Church Street, which opens into a triangular space shortly before becoming Highbridge Street.
From the east side of Market Square East Street ran westwards to its junction with the Sewardstone-Nazeing road, while southwards off the marketplace ran another way to Sewardstone, known as Shepcot Street in the fourteenth century, perhaps because it passed by the Tonmed (communal meadow, referenced 1391) en route [William Winters, The history of the Ancient Parish of Waltham Abbey or Holy Cross, Waltham Abbey: 1888, pp.vii-xiii ]. Connecting to the southwest corner of the marketplace was the shorter Silver Street, while nearby was Paradise Street both names tend to be associated, historically, with commercial activity though the former was earlier named Scolestrete, suggesting a quite different activity, directed by the canons. Waltham Abbey's marketplace thus seems to have been not a street market but a space naturally formed or a product of planning at the convergence of several streets approaching the abbey. In the seventeenth century a market hall was erected in the centre of this marketplace. Underneath its site was found, by workmen in the nineteenth, the remains of an older building, probably dating to the latter half of the thirteenth century, with stone walls and undercroft, and it was examined by archaeologists in 1981; this may have been the moot hall mentioned in 1456 and tentatively identified on a map of 1600. Dating evidence found during excavation, though slight, suggests construction ca. 1200 or a little later, and there were also indications of gravel having been laid three times during the next couple of centuries, to renew the surface of the surrounding marketplace. Also in or beside the marketplace was a lock-up known as the Cage, usually identified with the abbot's gaol, referred to in numerous royal instructions to abbots for transfer of felons to stronger prisons in London. There was not a great deal more to medieval Waltham than the east-west street skirting the front of the abbey, and the smaller streets around the marketplace, south of the abbey precinct.
Curiously, most of this area was surrounded by a second enclosure, roughly rectangular but independent from that around the royal estate further north. It was immediately south of the abbey precinct, but its date and character are uncertain, though the first documentary reference to it (ca.1325) accords it a name, Eldeworthe, signifying it was then considered ancient, and the same name was sometimes applied to the road from Sewardstone, which entered it on the south side. Possibly it bounded the Anglo-Saxon village, or perhaps defined the meeting-place of the hundred, which would support the notion of Waltham's market as hundredal; the medieval marketplace is fairly centrally placed within the enclosure, but the latter does not seem to have influenced the street-pattern of thirteenth-century Waltham, suggesting it an earlier topographical feature to the (possibly planned) market settlement.
The 1334 lay subsidy figures suggest that the community of Waltham was fairly prosperous, its tax assessment being slightly higher than that of Colchester and comparable to those of other abbey-controlled towns such as St. Albans and Reading. However, Waltham's economy must surely have been somewhat dependent on the abbey. Such industry as is evidenced there during the Middle Ages seems modest in scale. One of the branches off the Lea was referred to in 1396 as the Fullingmill Stream, and such a mill, leased out, was one of the abbey possessions inventoried ca. 1540. Towards Sewardstone was a location known as Dyers Hill, though we cannot be certain its name derived from dyeing activity, while a tailor was acquiring property in Waltham in 1369. Whether cloth was not only finished but woven at Waltham is unknown, though it is likely enough; the hundreds immediately north of Waltham's were one of Essex's more active areas of cloth-making. Some ceramics manufacture is hinted at by mention in 1312 of a green called Potter's Hill around Upshire (another of Waltham's outlying hamlets) and there are references to a Ralph Potter, one ca.1235, and the other in an undated deed [ERO D/DJg T12/1 probably thirteenth century] when he was holding land at Potter's Hill; such an industry could have made use of fuel produced by local colliers, one of whom is mentioned in 1415, for we might expect some charcoal-burning activity in a locale where deforestation was taking place. Butchers are occasionally in evidence, part of the marketplace being designated as a shambles we also hear of 'le Cornemarket' in 1525 [ERO D/DJg T12/73] and a fishmarket (1456). So it is no surprise to encounter (in fourteenth and fifteenth centuries) the natural counterparts of butchers, leatherworkers tanners, tawyer, cordwainer, and glover as well as land on which stood 'Le Tanhous'; such are occupations to be anticipated in most market settlements, though they are not seen in large numbers at Waltham. The abbey demesnes and tenant farms were sources of livestock for local and external butchers; in 1312 a London butcher acknowledged a debt of £16 to the abbey's kitchener for oxen purchased from him in London and elsewhere.
Less expected is the presence, to judge from both occupational and surname evidence, of a couple of locksmiths (in 1427 and 1451), and a few cutlers, with at least one sheather, between the mid-fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. Whether the establishment of the cutlery trade at Waltham was, as at Thaxted, due to London influence is not known, but certainly Londoners are seen holding property in Waltham at that period, including a mercer, a skinner, three fishmongers (two of whom were linked by marriage to Waltham families), a spurrier, and (in 1429) a cutler, while in 1419 a cutler and a bladesmith, both of London, stood surety for Richard Grene of Waltham to keep the peace; at least three London cutlers of the Late Middle Ages bore Waltham as a surname (documented 1312, 1413, and 1423), and it was an ironmonger family that produced Hugh de Waltham, London's common clerk (chief bureaucrat) in the early fourteenth century. It may also have been partly the prompting of Londoners that led to improvements in the road connection between Waltham and London, through royal grants of pontage (1380) to fund repairs to a bridge connecting Waltham and Cheshunt, and pavage (1386) for re-surfacing the road heading from Waltham to Shoreditch.
Further evidence of occupational structure at Waltham is found in the context of opposition to the abbots' authority, which erupted into a local insurrection in August 1410, with a second outbreak in 1420. On the first occasion twenty-one named tenants of the abbatial manors of Waltham, Nazeing, Epping, and elsewhere were alleged to have been members of a well-armed and animated mob, estimated at over two hundred strong, that apparently in an escalation of some tenants' refusal to perform customary services broke into the abbey, assaulted the abbot's servants, and then, when the sheriff brought a small force to the abbot's aid and arrested some of the insurgents, attacked them too, chanting an intent to kill the sheriff, enabling the prisoners to escape, and sabotaging a bridge leading to the London road, to prevent their targets escaping. On the later occasion we hear allegations not only of refusals to perform labour services due the abbot, but also of bond tenants, along with others who advised, aided and abetted them, forming a sworn league to resist the abbot and his officials, setting an ambush for the sheriff at Waltham, besieging him in a building there, and intimidating him with threats of death and mutilation; twenty men, mostly of Waltham and Sewardstone, were accused by name and their occupations given.
While the complaints against these insurgents chose to characterize them as bondsmen perhaps to raise the spectre of the great revolt of 1381, which had first found expression in Essex, Waltham Abbey's manorial records being among those targeted by the rebels for destruction and nine of the accused in 1420 were classified as husbondmen, the Waltham participants also included a weaver. draper, tailor, tanner, two skinners, a carpenter and a schoolmaster. It is likely enough that many participants were villein tenants and that the root cause of the upheaval was the abbots' efforts to impose, enforce, or re-impose feudal obligations for seigneurial attempts to win back lost ground and tenants' resistance to feudal services represented something of a trend at this period when the traditional manorial labour force had been reduced by plague. But the presence of so many craftsmen may indicate that the abbots were trying to turn the clock back in regard to burgess tenants too, so that the latter had common ground with non-burgess residents. Thirty-six Waltham men listed, along with their occupations, in the Close Roll are very likely some of the participants in the disturbance, required to put up peace bonds in 1422, while another seven, along with a London haberdasher, are recorded about the same time as guarantors for the appearance in Chancery of two further Waltham men (occupations not given). Of the 43 whose occupations are given, 9 were employed in some aspect of the cloth industry (fullers and tailors being the most common), 12 in the leather industry (mostly tanners and cordwainers), 9 in the victualling trades (butchers, poulterers, and bakers), 2 were barbers (who, like tailors and butchers, were handy with a blade, if things turned ugly), 7 workers with wood (carpenters, wheelwright) or metal (smiths and cutlers), 2 labourers and 2 husbandmen; we may add a third husbandman if we include Richard Grene, who had in 1421 been required to find mainpernors for his appearance in Chancery, perhaps related to the matter already mentioned above a John Grene having been one of those indicted in the 1411 disturbance. The 1422 list reinforces the impression that, whatever the nature of the conflict, it involved Waltham's burgesses. Abbey affairs may have remained unsettled, for in 1430 we hear of two canons who had fled the abbey for the sanctuary precinct around St. Martin le Grand, London, where making themselves enough of a nuisance that the city authorities sparked controversy by arresting them with the intent of returning the fugitives to the abbot. The occupations identified in all the records related to these affairs do not greatly widen the occupational range within Waltham that we have already observed.
Similarly, the scale or volume of commerce undertaken by Waltham residents is not well-documented. The only individual in the list from 1422 who might be categorized as (potentially) mercantile was a draper, whose surname suggests he might have been a dyer earlier in his career, or the son of one, so we cannot ascribe resistance to the abbot's authority as due to a rising elite of Waltham merchants, and there is no real sign of communal organization socio-religious gilds may have existed by that date, but a couple are heard of only in the sixteenth century and their role in the community does not appear overtly political. The same draper is seen in 1439 granting all his possessions to three Londoners (a smith, a saddler, and the city's common clerk). Such grants were made for a variety of reasons [Caroline Barron and Anne Sutton, eds. Medieval London Widows, 1300-1500 London: Hambledon Press, 1994, p.132], most often probably as security for a loan although possibly a form of trust or alternative to the last will but we cannot tell if debts involved were incurred through business activities, the execution of wills (which sometimes necessitated liquidation of assets to fulfill bequests), or other needs. Similar chattel mortgages by two Waltham widows (1449, 1460), and a Waltham dyer (1450) and hosteler (1466) all involving Londoners (presumed lenders), associated with Waltham residents (to mitigate fraud?) are equally unenlightening. Waltham men (other than the abbots) are rarely parties to those debt recognizances sometimes a by-product of commercial activity that were enrolled in national records.
Shops are mentioned, though infrequently, in property deeds that have survived to us from the fourteenth century, and, even less often, in final concords. Some of these shops were evidently located in the shambles or other parts of the marketplace, evidenced there as early as the rental of ca.1235, and others along the street stretching between the marketplace and the Lea, as well as (at later date) along East Street; a few were held by traders, such as a mercer and a clothier, while some others were said to belong to the offices of the abbey treasurer and pittancer doubtless this meant that their rents were allocated to the budgets of those officers [ERO D/DU 389/2, D/DJg T12/17, 25]. Chandler, as a Waltham surname, is encountered as early as 1301, and as an occupational qualifier in 1363 and again in 1461, while Henry le Mercer was party to a property transaction in 1224 involving a landless messuage and a shop in Waltham; but most of the mercers and fishmongers identified in Waltham records are Londoners who had property, and probably business, interests there. Waltham traders engaged in wholesale or long-distance commerce are just not much in evidence (which does not necessarily mean they were non-existent). In 1271 Ralph Twyford of Stanstead, described as a merchant of Waltham, was one of a number of men mostly from cities and larger towns licensed to export wool or other goods abroad. In 1273 and 1301 the abbot was issued royal safe-conducts on behalf of agents he was sending to Norwich and Yarmouth (respectively) to purchase herring and other (dried?) fish to feed the canons through the winter, while in 1315 he received a writ of aid on behalf of agents one of them a Waltham man sent to various, but unspecified, locations to purchase and bring back victuals for the abbey.
We can reasonably imagine that the Dissolution removing the abbey as consumer, producer, employer, and attraction for pilgrims, although preserving parochial use of the monastic church must have brought a period of economic difficulty. In 1560 markets were transferred from Sunday to Tuesday, which remains Waltham's market day, just as the Market Square remains its location. Waltham's businessmen still had the river, though navigability continued to be an issue. Its flow could power mills given over to malting to supply local and London breweries and later to making gunpowder, an industry in which the government naturally took an interest, leading to an increase of factories and of workers, for whom Waltham New Town was developed to the west of medieval Waltham, though this was well beyond the period of interest here.