Should Belchamp Walter ever become famous these pages are in anticipation of that event.
The History of Belchamp Walter.
This page is not an attempt to provide a comprehensive history of the village, there is a more complete synopsis (author unknown) on the Village Hall website. For the incumbents of Belchamp Walter, the Manor and Hall, please see my page on St. Mary's church. I also have a page on Belchamp Hall itself information on which deals with the history from the time the R_____ family were partons and even part of the clergy.
The settlement of Belchamp Walter (Walter Belchamp) was recorded in the Doomsday Survey, William the Conqueror's massive stock-take of his new lands. From 1066 to the present time some is known about the village particularly after the R______ family purchasing the Manor in 1611. Prior to that time, in the years between Conquest and "the R______ years", the information is, like a lot of British history a little sketchy. Leading up to the Norman Conquest, in the years of Edward the Confessor (1042 - 1066), the settlement was under Saxon control. William allowed Ulfwine/Ulwine/Ulwin, a Saxon noble to remain but eventually gave the manor to the de Veres. This was probably in recognition of services for the Conquest. Alberic de Vere, Sheriff of Beckshire, Chamberlain to William 1 and resident of Earls Colne was in control of the region.
The 16th Century manor house was replaced by the current Belchamp Hall in 1720/1721 by John R_____ III. The manor house was probably built prior to when it "came to" John Wentworth in 1539 and was probably of Vernacular architectural design. A few other such structures still exist in the village.
The crossroads, the pond and the Forge are shown below. The brick wall had a circuler structure, possibly the remains of the forge fire pit, behind it. As recently as 2015 you could see this structure which looked like a pond. This has now been redeveloped.
The current village, the cross-roads and duck pond, are relatively modern. I believe that the original village centred around the church and Belchamp Brook, south of what is now Belchamp Hall. The brook and the flood plain berween Belchamp Walter and Bulmer/Gestingthorpe were probably used for farming and possibly the location of the vinyard. The brrok had been diverted at one point to serve as a mill race for the water mill that is now Lovejoy's Mill. The water mill was not listed and was converted to a holiday rental b Charles R______ in 2009. However, the structure does still contain remnants of the original.
The quote is from "Water Mills and Steam Mills in Essex" - Adam Garwood Aug 2008 ESAH, Essex Society for Archaeology and History - See also my dedicated page on Belchamp Walter, the Water Mill
" This building is an interesting example of a small manorial water mill, in contrast to the large multi-storey water mills which are still a familiar sight today. It is not very old: its fabric, which is of at least three phases, is mainly 19th-century with part of the west wall datable to the 18th century. There can be no doubt that the present building shares the site of a much older mill (Andrews, 2005) "
The photo below shows the mill pond at Belchamp Walter, probably from the 1930's. You can see a road over a spillway that supposedly acted as a floodgate. I presume that this shot was taken looking West (see map below), the mill would be to the left and Mill House to the right. Again, the actual route of the water course feeding the water mill and pond is no longer to be seen.
The map below shows the position of the mill with respect to the brook. The direction of water flow is shown in the drains surrounding the Mill. The drain from the Mill Pond crosses the meadow to join the Brook at the footbridge. This drain is at the bottom of my garden is is now pretty dry.
The above map was taken from the historicengland.org.uk search map and is licenced through the Ordnance Survey Public Sector Mapping Agreement for the use of Ordnance Survey mapping and data.
Field Survey 2007 Essex Society for Archeology and History - Proceedings Vol I part 23 Colchester 1941:
A small three bay, two storey, half brick and half timber-framed watermill lying at a short distance south of the mill house and immediately west of the mill pond.
Presently covered with corrugated iron sheeting its roof is gable ended but incorporates a catslide which projects out over a centrally positioned lucam along the eastern elevation.
The mill adopts a simple rectangular plan but unusually is built into an earthen bank which conceals the majority of its western lower storey, particularly the NW bay and the path of the mill tail. A low brick lean-to with a corrugated roof projects from the northern wall out over the former wheel pit. The upper storey, including the lucam, is weatherboarded and the lower is mainly built in C19 red brick, although the brickwork of the western wall appears to be earlier.
The external C19 brickwork is painted using bitumus paint and laid in an irregular English Bond. At ground floor in the eastern wall there is a heck-type (halved) door opening into the southern bay with a taking-in door immediately above.
There are no openings in the central bay below the lucam but a large hatch door is present to the north and in the former area of the hursting. Small windows in the lucam, northern and southern bays are later additions and supplement a pair of unusual and elaborate two-centred arch headed windows present in the southern gable end wall. Access from the west is gained via a door which opens directly into the northern bay at first floor level. A length of brickwork which presently is battering back the earthen bank to the south of the mill could theoretically be the remnants of a predecessor.
The interior of the mill had been completely cleared of all technology. At ground floor no evidence of the waterwheel, the gearing to the stones, auxiliary drives or fixtures and fittings remained. A half round brick arch in the northern wall integrates the wheel pit with the body of the mill and specifically the northern bay.
The first floor is supported on two heavy re-used binding joists, intentionally positioned to provide a narrower central bay to support the lucam. A sack hatch remains central to the first floor and various mountings remain attached to the floor joist soffits.
The west wall is partially rendered (against the damp caused by the earthen bank) and includes an earlier blocked brick archway lying below the present west door. No access to the first floor was gained but the roof, dating to the C19, was seen to be a side purlin construction with a ridge plank. The mill is starting to suffer from a lack of maintenance. The brickwork shows signs of localised subsidence in the form of cracking, some small areas of weatherboarding are missing and the corrugated roof, although weathertight appears to be nearing the end of its life.
The adjacent mill house was mainly destroyed following a chimney fire in the early 1990s. Although damage to the roof and upper storey was extensive the mill house was rebuilt in 1992, incorporating the remnants of the surviving timber frame. "
A structure in the roof of a mill that projects out from the building to allow the hoist to winch up sacks clear of the mill and give protection from the weather. Usage: The mill has a lucam.
The map above is from 1892 (OS 25 inch) - National Library of Scotland. Link below
Compared to the later map the pond that is shown in the photograph (with the children swimming) is somewhat confirmed. The pond with the sluice gate (flood gate) shows that the road had been diverted from its present location and passed to the left (right on the map) and past the lucum. At present there is a bank on the opposite side of the mill and the road continues to the West of that bank. The mill race as shown on the earlier map is quite significant but is now not in evidence.
The map also shows a structure that is more substansial that the stable block that curently exists. This structure is now termed as an "agricultural building" and planning permission to demolish it and be replaced by another holiday rental was applied for in 2019.
The Village Sign
The village sign that is to be seen at the pond at the crossroads and designed by villager Nigel for the Millenium celebrations 2001.
The village Hall
8 Bells Pub
Now a private house.