A Brief History of Takeley

Adapted from "Takeley, A History" last published by Mr A L Frost (Les) in 1983.

Takeley Church

The village used to be known as 'Takeley all on one side'. There are two good reasons for this. Until the local parish boundaries were revised after the last war, the main road was the southern limit of the parish. Only houses on the north side of the road were officially in Takeley. Those on the south side were in the parishes of Great Canfield, Hatfield Broad Oak and Great Hallingbury. The other reason is that until the 1930s there were very few houses on the south side of the road. Thus the village, consisting as it did of a long, one-sided street, plus Smith's Green, Bamber's Green and the remote hamlet of Mole Hill Green three miles away to the north, was a very scattered community.

The rather odd-sounding name of Takeley needs explaining. One theory is that it is a corruption of 'Teg-Ley' or 'sheep-clearing', i.e. a part of the forest cleared for sheep rearing. A more likely explanation is that it derives from the name Taecca, a Saxon lord who owned much land in these parts and also in Oxfordshire where, strangely enough, there is a village called Tackley.  Following more recent archaeological investigations and interest in the area, current thinking is that the name Takeley should be interpreted as "settlement next to open forest"
There has also been much debate over the origin of Brewer's End. It may be derived from Briars End or the end of the briars and brambles, just as Bush End means the end of the bush or thick part of the forest. Takeley developed as a clearing in the Great Forest of Essex, which once stretched from Forest Gate in East London almost to the Suffolk border. Our own Hatfield Forest was, of course, part of this. Recent discoveries, however, have revealed a Robert Brewer who lived at Yew Trees, which in 1629 had a malt house near the Four Ashes. So possibly Brewers End was named after Robert Brewer, who did indeed work malting barley for brewing. 

The main road B1256 (old A120) is the Roman Stane Street, joining the ancient Roman forts of Colchester and St. Albans. There is doubt if in Takeley the present road follows exactly the route of the original Roman road.  This because when the sewer was put in, in 1959, trenches to a depth of 15 feet were cut in the main road and, although inspected daily, no sign of Roman relics of any kind was seen when one could have expected to see some remains of the Roman pavement. One theory is that the Roman road ran slightly to the north of the present route - somewhere along the line of Church Lane, Smith's Green, Jack's Lane, and Crump's Corner. This would explain the isolated position of Takeley Church. It may be significant that in 1849, near the Church, a treasure chest was found buried 18 inches below the ground. It contained glassware, pottery, coins and jewellery, ascribed to the Roman Period of AD 80-I20.

Being perched on a 300 ft hill, Takeley has not much in the way of rivers. The Roding, rising at Mole Hill Green, forms part of the parish boundary on the east and two miles to the west is Pincey Brook, which joins the Stort at Harlow. This latter joins the River Lea at Roydon and so all our drainage finds its way to the Thames and so to the sea at Southend. Incidentally, the parish boundary is 8 miles long and the area of the parish is 3,000 acres.

In recent years the development of Stansted Airport, within the parish boundaries of Takeley, has brought mixed fortunes as regards our understanding of Takeley’s historical standing. Many archaeological digs have produced an abundance of evidence of Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman settlements, indeed a Sarsen Stone about 20 million years old was found in a Middle Bronze Age site (possibly used for ceremonial purposes) and now lies on display at the Four Ashes Crossroads. The considerable downside of this development is that these sites are now lost forever under the Airport and the threat of further development means that a considerable proportion of the village could soon join these sites under concrete.


Please note:

For anyone interested the in very early history of Takeley and Essex, in fact the Geology of Essex, there is an excellent booklet "Essex Rock, A Look Beneath the Essex Landscape, by Gerald Lucy." Someone has made the book available at the following link:
but please be aware that the booklet is copyright.



Copyright © Takeley Local History Society