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Since the greater part of this Handbook was in type, it has been officially stated that the number of unenclosed acres, within the old limits of Epping Forest, has been reduced to 3000. This will account for the difference between the statement in Rte. 10, that 7000 acres remain unenclosed, and that in the Introduction, $ 2, where the true number is giren; the former number was adopted from the Parliamentary Report on Royal Forests, printed in 1863.
field, Mettin jham..
Wymondham. Ketteringham, 32. Norwich to Ely by Attlo
Kimberley, Hingham, Elsing 272 borough and Thetford. Bucket
The four counties, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Cambridgeshire, described in the present Handbook, have been, chiefly in the earlier period of English history, more or les
connected. But while Norfolk and Suffolk form together a very distinct natural division, Essex and Cambridgeshire are geographically more isolated, and have their own characteristic features.
Essex, separated from Suffolk by the broad estuary of the Stour, was anciently covered for the most part with forest. Cambridgeshire is the country of the fens. Each of these divisions therefore requires separate notice.
EXTENT AND GENERAL CHARACTER. § 1. Essex, the tenth in size of English counties, contains 1,055,133
Its greatest length from N.E. to S.W. is 63 m. From N. to. S. (from Bartlow to Tilbury Fort) it measures 50 m. The population of the county in 1871 was 466,436–a considerable increase since 1861, when it was 379,705.
Essex is very irregularly shaped; and its low coast-line is broken by three considerable estuaries,-those of the Crouch, the Blackwater, and the Colne. Numerous friths and creeks break the land, especially near the mouths of these estuaries, into low, marshy islands. On the S. the Thames divides Essex from Kent. On the N. the river Stour, throughout its course, forms the boundary from the neighbourhood of Clare to Harwich, and divides Essex from Suffolk. The rest of the Northern boundary, between Essex and Cambridgeshire, is very irregular, and partly follows the course of ancient roads and dykes. On the W., where Essex borders on Middlesex and Hertfordshire, the limit is partly marked by the rivers Lea and Stort; and N. of Bishop's Stortford, by a line running along the chalk hills. Excepting the low lands of ihe eastern coast, Essex is not a flat country, although the hills no where rise to any important height. High Beech (Rte. 10), in Epping Forest
near Walthamstow, is the highest ground (388 ft.) in the county. Danbury (Rte. 2), toward the centre of the county, a very conspicuous hill (380 ft.), forms the S. end of a short ridge of high land. The N.W. corner of Essex is broken into steep chalk hills, of no great height, intersected by winding valleys. “The shire," writes Norden, in 1594, “is most fatt, frutefull, and full of profitable thinges, exceeding (as far as I can finde) anie other shire, for the generall.coñodeties, and the plentie. Though Suffolke be more highlie coñended of some, wherwyth I am not yet acquaynted. But this shire seemeth to me to deserve the title of the Englishe Goshen, the fattest of the lande; comparable to Palestina, that flowed with milke and hunnye. But I cannot coñende the healthfulness of it; and especiallie near the sea coastes, Rochford, Denge, Tenderinge hundreds, and other lowe places about the creekes, which gave me a most cruell quarterne fever. But the manie and sweete coñodeties countervayle the daunger.” “ A fair country," writes Fuller (1662, “ Worthies,' Essex), “ plentifully affording all things necessary to man's subsistence.” Essex is described as “ enclosed"—that is, its cultivated lands were duly fenced, unlike great part of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire at a much later period—when Morant published his ‘History of the County in 1768,' “ making it,” he says, “ much more comfortable to live and travel in than such as is quite open, exposed, without the least shelter to all the inclemencies of wind and weather."
§ 2. The earlier condition of Essex was very different. Almost the whole county was within the bounds of a Royal Forest, which, according to a perambulation made in 1228 (12th Hen. III.), extended from Stratford bridge “ usque ad pontem de Cattawad ” (Morant, Introd. p. iv., note C. In Morant's map Cattawade bridge is marked near the mouth of the Stour, adjoining Manningtree. It was thus on the Northern border of Tendring Hundred), and from the Thames to the Stane Street (the Roman road running from Colchester to Bishop's Stortford). The portions of the county excepted in this perambulation had been disafforested— Tendring Hundred, the peninsula between the rivers Colne and Stour, lying E. of Colchester, by King Stephen, and all the country N. of the Stane Street by King John. Smaller portions were disafforested at different times; but in the reign of Charles I. a court was held at Stratford which asserted the right of the Crown to exercise “ forest law” over the whole county within the limits of Hen. III.'s perambulation (see 'Strafford's Letters,’i. 335). Extreme dissatisfaction was the result of this decision, and the royal rights were not strictly enforced, though much oppression was complained of until an act of the “ Long Parliament" (16th Charles I.) determined that the extent of the royal forests should remain according to their boundaries in the 20th year of James I., annulling all the perambulations and inquests by which they had subsequently been enlarged. The great Forest of Waltham was at that time held to comprise what are now the Forests of Epping and Hainault. The portion called Ilainault Forest was disafforested in 1851 (see Rte. 10). Epping alone