1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Halstead
HALSTEAD, a market-town in the Maldon parliamentary division of Essex, England, on the Colne, 17 m. N.N.E. from Chelmsford; served by the Colne Valley railway from Chappel Junction on the Great Eastern railway. Pop. of urban district (1901), 6073. It lies on a hill in a pleasant wooded district. The church of St Andrew is mainly Perpendicular. It contains a monument supposed to commemorate Sir Robert Bourchier (d. 1349), lord chancellor to Edward III. The Lady Mary Ramsay grammar school dates from 1594. There are large silk and crape works. Two miles N. of Halstead is Little Maplestead, where the church is the latest in date of the four churches with round naves extant in England, being perhaps of 12th-century foundation, but showing early Decorated work in the main. The chancel, which is without aisles, terminates in an apse. Three miles N.W. from Halstead are the large villages of Sible Hedingham (pop. 1701) and Castle Hedingham (pop. 1097). At the second is the Norman keep of the de Veres, of whom Aubrey de Vere held the lordship from William I. The keep dates from the end of the 11th century, and exhibits much fine Norman work. The church of St Nicholas, Castle Hedingham, has fine Norman, Transitional and Early English details, and there is a black marble tomb of John de Vere, 15th earl of Oxford (d. 1540), with his countess.
There are signs of settlement at Halstead (Halsteda, Halgusted, Halsted) in the Bronze Age; but there is no evidence of the causes of its growth in historic times. Probably its situation on the river Colne made it to some extent a local centre. Throughout the middle ages Halstead was unimportant, and never rose to the rank of a borough.