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Brief History of Chelmsford

Stone BridgeChelmsford first became a town in 1199 when a bridge was built across the River Can and Chelmsford was then granted a Royal Charter to hold a market. The name Chelmsford is derived from its former name, Ceolmaer’s Ford, simply meaning the ford over the river Ceolmaer (now known as Chelmer).

Chelmsford town actually developed as two separate areas in two different times. The oldest part is what is now known as Old Moulsham (which is the area either side of Moulsham Street). This was a small Roman settlement on the south side of the River Can. After the 1199 charter the new town developed to the north of the Can and then expanded south, taking over the old Roman area, which had been mostly abandoned. This area was called Moulsham.

In 1372 a new stone bridge was built over the River Can (at the junction of the High Street and Moulsham Street today) and this provided an important route between London and Colchester.

Several influential families were from the Chelmsford area. The Mildmay family, whose head was Thomas Mildmay, became wealthy landowners who built Moulsham Hall in 1728-43. However, it was demolished in 1809 after being abandoned by the family after the Napoleonic wars. The Montchesney family were important landowners in the 16th century, descending from the Bishop of Bayeaux who was given the Manor of Hanningfield after the Norman conquest.

Henry VIII had some ties with Chelmsford. He built the new Beaulieu Palace in 1516, which was used by many royals of the time, such as Anne Boleyn’s father and the Earl of Essex. New Hall school was later built on the site, and the prestigious Beaulieu Park housing development was named after the palace.

Chelmsford Today

In 2012 Chelmsford became England’s newest city. It is one of the most popular towns in Essex with good employment opportunities, some excellent schools (both state and independent), a university, various sports teams, regular events and a good social scene.

Around 100,000 people live within Chelmsford itself  and a further 68,000 live within the surrounding districts, which include Broomfield, Great Baddow, Galleywood, Writtle, Moulsham, Widford, Springfield and Chelmer Village. Chelmer Village is the newest area which was previously farmland before the new Chelmer Village housing development was constructed.

Chelmsford railway station is only 30-40 minutes from London Liverpool Street, and this has made Chelmsford one of the most popular commuter towns in Essex.

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