Kelvedon’s roots go back over 2000 years to before the Romans.
British Celtic coins of the Trinovantes tribe have been found in Kelvedon as have a few Bronze age artefacts. A late Iron Age settlement has also been found, consisting of individual enclosed house-plots, fields, possibly a temple and some industrial activity. The settlement of Canonium which was the third and final staging post on the Roman’s ride from Londinium (London) and the Roman capital of Camulodunum (Colchester), was at the crossing of the River Blackwater. The Roman Road, which ran roughly on the line of the modern High Street, was extremely busy leaving many artifacts to be found today.
After the withdrawal of the Roman Legions in 410AD the area was eventually invaded by the Anglo Saxons. This part of Britain was in the Kingdom of the East Saxons or Essex, when this area was the valley of Cynelaf or Cynelaf’s Dene which by 998 had become Cynlavedyne. by 1066 it was Kynleveden, then Chellevedana in the Doomsday Book.
In King Richard I’s Curia Regis Rolls we had become Kevleveden then Keldon in the time of Elizabeth I and the name became Kelvedon in the 18th Century. The Roman Road remained in use becoming the Kings Highway in medieval times bringing relative prosperity to the village until the coming of the railway in 1843.
The coming of the railway meant that the four coaching inns that for centuries had served the coaching trade with guests including the wealthy and royalty found themselves on hard times, as did the Turnpike Trust that charged a toll to use the road, a gate house is still in London Rd. Kelvedons main industry has always been agriculture. With the coming of the railway in the mid nineteenth century it was possible to send goods and products to the fast growing London in a very short time, keeping goods at their best. Before this animals had to be walked to London losing a lot of their fat and hence their value on the way. It must have been a sight in the High Street when drovers brought their flocks through, including Norfolk Turkeys for the London Christmas market.
In the 1880’s it was found that Kelvedon’s climate was right for seed production. To harvest seed you need to harvest quite a lot later than if you were growing for the product so the weather needs to be dry and mild a few weeks longer. The seed industry is still with us in the form of Kings Seeds at Monks Farm but major growing and research had moved away by the 1990’s.
In the Nineteenth and for much of the Twentieth century’s the High street contained a wealth of shops, Pubs and workshops supplying the local area. As the area prospered so community activities begin to appear with the building of the Congregational Church (now the United Reform Church). The Church of England Church built St Marys Hall,and in 1911 the Institute was opened. The Easterford Lodge of the Freemasons was also built in the High Street. The Parish Council raised the money to buy a horse drawn manual Fire engine, and to build a Fire station (now the Parish Council Office ).
Kelvedon was also a place of education during this period with various private schools along the High street a church school in Church Street, and a board school which is now the Library and the Feering and Kelvedon Local History Museum. C.H. Spurgeon the non conformist preacher was born at the Wheatsheaf Inn Kelvedon, on 19 June 1834. Spurgeon remains highly influential among Christians of various denominations, among whom he is known as the “Prince of Preachers”. He was a strong figure in the Reformed Baptist tradition, defending the Church in agreement with the London Baptist Confession of Faith Understanding, and opposing the liberal and pragmatic theological tendencies in the Church of his day. It is estimated that in his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to around 10,000,000 people. Spurgeon was the pastor of the congregation of the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London for 38 years.
From Medieval times kelvedon had been administered by an “open Vestry” which consisted of all the men of the Village, this was able to allocate spending from a portion of the Tithes collected by the Church, Henry VIII introduced the “select Vestry” which was a small committee elected from the open Vestry. This also was responsible for Poor Relief and “nuisance ” (drains, ditches and rubbish) these Vestry committees ran up until 1875 when these functions were moved to the poor law unions, in our case Braintree Union and Braintree Rural Sanitation Board.The functions left were given to the newly formed “Parish Meeting” an annual meeting of the whole village that could ask for improvements and reports from other bodies but had no powers or “Precept”, tax raising powers. The Parish Council was formed in 1894 under the terms of the Local Government Act of that year, when it became apparent to Government that they were needed.
The Parish council, since the very early years has been campaigning to control the speed and amounts of traffic through the village. The first speed limits were put in place in 1914.
The Parish council has also provided allotments and been involved in the celebrations for the end of the wars and for Jubilees and Coronations all through its existence. Until 1948 the Parish Council had a Fire Brigade and paid for street lighting up until the 1950’s. Also in the 1950’s the recreation ground was purchased, the 1970’s saw the Parish council create the Brockwell Meadows Local Nature Reserve. The twenty first century sees the Council purchase the land and build the High Street Car Park.
The two World Wars had major impacts on the village. The names of the fallen appear on the War Memorial in St Marys Church Yard. The First World War saw the villages of Kelvedon and Feering send a total of 376 men and women to the war, most of them came home. Throughout the Great War Kelvedon was considered of strategic importance with at the start of the war The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and then The Kings Liverpool Regiment, billeted in and guarding Kelvedon.
Between the wars new housing was built at New Town and Easterford Road in keeping with the feeling that we must build “homes fit for heroes to live in”.
The Second World War saw many of our men and women go off to do war service, and the R.A.F and then the U.S.A.A.F stationed at the hurriedly built Rivenhall Airfield, the men coming into Kelvedon to the various Dances and other entertainments that were held at the Institute and St. Mary’s Hall.
Also the children of Kelvedon had to get used new faces as evacuees from the London bombing were billeted on Kelvedon families. Kelvedon found it self on the front lines occasionally such as when V1 or Doodlebug bombs fell on Hole Farm.
Kelvedon Parish Council was involved in helping those local families that were effected arranging billets and emergency relief and helping the military to do their duty. The Council also arranged entertainments for both the civilian population and the men stationed around the village during both wars and arranged celebration childrens partys in the institute for both victorys
After the Second World War the Church Fields Estate was built by Braintree Rural District Council. The Swan Mead and riverside estates were built during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Also after the Second World War many of the “De-Mobbed” men started small transport company’s along with in the 1950’s and 60’s a huge rise in private motoring saw the High Street become a troublesome bottle neck on the A12 with huge traffic jams. The A12 by-pass was opened in 1966 which has eased the problems to a large extent, during the design and building of the By-pass and ever since Kelvedon Parish Council has lobbied for a junction on the Inworth Road to take Tiptree’s ever growing traffic.
For more details on the history of Kelvedon why not visit The Feering and Kelvedon Local History Museum, open every Saturday 9.30 till12.30 and Monday 2.00pm – 5.00pm, excluding Public Holidays from March to October. The Museum is in the Library, Aylett’s Building, Maldon Road, Kelvedon, Essex CO5 9BA.
There are 99 Listed Buildings in Kelvedon, of which two are Grade I, ten Grade II* and the remainder Grade II. A number of buildings merit special mention:-
- St Mary’s House on St Mary’s Square was a public building, probably a market hall built by the Abbey of Westminster.
- No. 148/150 High Street is an extremely curious building with a fourteenth century frontage range and an early fifteenth century jettied range to the rear, with a very wide fireplace in the kitchen and a single aisled barn-like building that is not a barn. It is possible that this structure is a purpose-built inn.
- No. 7 High Street (Knight Templars) has the remains of a former wagon entrance; the structure was an inn by 1604.
- At Knights Templars and 150 High Street there are two good fireplaces dating to the early sixteenth century with arched recesses.
- 180 High Street has an interesting example of a very early staircase lean-to ‘tower’ serving the cross-wing. The staircase is contained partly in the out-shot and partly in the cross-wing, a very unusual method.
- Nos. 1-5 High Street and No. 1 Church Street were the provincial Mansion of the Abbot of Westminster, dating to the early sixteenth century.
- Red House, Church Street was the probable former manor house of Church Hall, and incorporates the remains of a probable thirteenth century large aisled hall.
- At Church Hall Manor there is a late medieval granary, 20 ft square with a massive timber framework on three sides with substantial close studding with surviving external braces and boards rebated into the inner face. The exterior now has brick infill.
- An ancillary building 5 metres to the south-east of Bridgefoot Farmhouse, Maldon Road, was the manorial court-house.
- The Packhorse Bridge.