1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bishop Stortford

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BISHOP STORTFORD, a market town in the Hertford parliamentary division of Hertfordshire, England; 301/2 m. N.N.E. from London by the Cambridge line of the Great Eastern railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 7143. It lies on the river Stort, close to the county boundary with Essex, and has water-communication with London through the Lea and Stort Navigation. The church of St Michael, standing high above the valley, is a fine embattled Perpendicular building with western tower and spire. The high school, formerly the grammar school, was founded in the time of Elizabeth. Here were educated Sir Henry Chauncy, an early historian of Hertfordshire (d. 1719), and Cecil Rhodes, who was born at Bishop Stortford in 1853. There are a Nonconformist grammar school, a diocesan training college for mistresses, and other educational establishments. The industries include brewing and malting, coach-building, lime-burning and founding, and there are important horse and cattle markets.

Before the Conquest the manor of Bishop Stortford is said to have belonged to Eddeva the Fair, wife of Harold, who sold it to the bishop of London, from whom it was taken by William the Conqueror. William restored it after a few years, and with it gave the bishop a small castle called Waytemore, of which there are scanty remains. The dungeon of this castle, called “Bishop’s Hole” or “Bishop’s Prison,” was used as an ecclesiastical prison until the 16th century. The town now possesses no early incorporation charters, and although both Chauncy and Salmon in their histories of Hertfordshire state that it was created a borough by charter of King John in 1206, the charter cannot now be found. The first mention of Bishop Stortford as a borough occurs in 1311, in which year the burgesses returned two members to parliament. The town was represented from that date until 1332, and again in 1335–1336, but the privilege was then allowed to lapse and has never been revived.