1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chelmsford
CHELMSFORD, a market town and municipal borough, and the county town of Essex, England, in the Chelmsford parliamentary division, 30 m. E.N.E. from London by the Great Eastern railway. Pop. (1901) 12,580. It is situated in the valley of the Chelmer, at the confluence of the Cann, and has communication by the river with Maldon and the Blackwater estuary 11 m. east. Besides the parish church of St Mary, a graceful Perpendicular edifice, largely rebuilt, the town has a grammar school founded by Edward VI., an endowed charity school and a museum. It is the seat of the county assizes and quarter sessions, and has a handsome shire hall; the county gaol is near the town. Its corn and cattle markets are among the largest in the county; for the first a fine exchange is provided. In the centre of the square in which the corn exchange is situated stands a bronze statue of Lord Chief-Justice Tindal (1776–1846), a native of the parish. There are agricultural implement and iron foundries, large electric light and engineering works, breweries, tanneries, maltings and extensive corn mills. There is a race-course 2 m. south of the town. The borough is under a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area 2308 acres.
A place of settlement since Palaeolithic times, Chelmsford (Chilmersford, Chelmeresford, Chelmesford) owed its importance to its position on the road from London to Colchester. It consisted of two manors: that of Moulsham, which remained in the possession of Westminster Abbey from Saxon times till the reign of Henry VIII., when it was granted to Thomas Mildmay; and that of Bishop’s Hall, which was held by the bishops of London from the reign of Edward the Confessor to 1545, when it passed to the crown and was granted to Thomas Mildmay in 1563. The medieval history of Chelmsford centred round the manor of Bishop’s Hall. Early in the 12th century Bishop Maurice built the bridge over the Chelmer which brought the road from London directly through the town, thus making it an important stopping-place. The town was not incorporated until 1888. In 1225 Chelmsford was made the centre for the collection of fifteenths from the county of Essex, and in 1227 it became the regular seat of assizes and quarter-sessions. Edward I. confirmed Bishop Richard de Gravesend in his rights of frank pledge in Chelmsford in 1290, and in 1395 Richard II. granted the return of writs to Bishop Robert de Braybroke. In 1377 writs were issued for the return of representatives from Chelmsford to parliament, but no return of members has been found. In 1199 the bishop obtained the grant of a weekly market at the yearly rent of one palfrey, and in 1201 that of an annual fair, now discontinued, for four days from the feast of St Philip and St James.