Lindsell parish, which includes Holder Green and Bustard Green, is a dispersed rural linear settlement in the east of Uttlesford about four miles north-east of Great Dunmow. The village stands high amid a largely flat landscape apart from the shallow valley of the Daisyley Brook. This offers wide and expansive views across the arable fields interspersed with mature native hedgerows, giving the parish a very rural feel. The village itself has no natural focal point, with clusters of houses here and there, but the lovely 13th century church and Lindsell Hall form an attractive setting.
The one-time Vicar of Lindsell, Rev Wilfrid G Lindsell compiled a history of the village in 1944, from which these notes are taken:
At the time of Domesday Lindsell was, as it is now, a small, thinly-populated group of hamlets. But even before this it had a long history as an inhabited place, of which Roman bricks built into the church bear witness. The name of the village is said to mean ‘huts among the lime trees’, and there are some other old names in the parish – Rakefairs from Robert Rekeviewer 1381, Templars from John le Templar 1313, Holders Green was Oldehowsen gene in 1506, Bowles was bolles 1396 and Lindsell Hall was Lyndeselhall 1381 – the village name has been spelt in many other ways, such as Lyndesele, Lindeseles and Lindezel.
Lindsell Hall was one of three Domesday manors, the others being Priors Hall and Lashley Hall. Priors Hall gets its name from the Priory of St Valery in Picardy to whom it was given by William the Conqueror, while Lashley Hall belonged to the Honour of Clare. Other notable buildings include Brazen Head Farm, near which is Dedman’s Bush – nothing to do with murder, but a corruption of St Edmund whose remains were, it is said, carried this way past Dedman’s Spring.
Doomesday mentions a priest in Lindsell, and there also used to be a chapel at Lashley Hall in medieval times. The church is made of flint rubble, and the tower partly brick with dressings of limestone and clunch. It is a small building but full of natural beauty, with an air of intimacy, and the prayers and devotions of generations past have left their spiritual impress upon it. Within are many good features such as the 12th century chancel arch, ancient glass, 13th and 14th century windows, 15th century font, Tudor tower, an old oak chest, and medieval graffiti. A small opening, discovered during repairs in 1926, led to a 12th century anchorite’s cell. There are memorials to the Fytch family who came from these parts. The parish registers go back to 1598 but include copies taken from an earlier book from 1568. It is a well preserved vellum-bound parchment book recording 1,386 baptisms, 830 burials and 407 marriages.
The customs of the bellringers are recorded: the passing bell was tolled 24 hours after death, before funerals the largest bell was chimed slowly for five minutes, and the priest’s Sanctus bell used before clebrations, as well as the usual services and events. An old custom at Lindsell was held in which there was a great feast of two calves and three sheep, with minstrels and players in attendance. This was before the Reformation, and more troubled times followed.
The population at Lindsell grew from 267 in 1801 to 403 in 1871, and the number of houses increased. There was a national school with simple rules such as ‘the children to attend washed, combed and clean in their dress and person, bringing a penny every Monday morning’. This school gave way to a school board in 1876, and a new school opend with 88 scholars taught by one teacher and a monitor – the pay of the latter was sixpence a week. Much money was spent on church restoration, but the people suffered form increasing poverty – of 130 here in 1840, one third needed poor relief. After 1871 the poplation began to fall rapidly and remained quite low, with cottages falling into ruin at that time.
Lindsell’s greatest treasure is not in the village – it was sent to the British Museum for safe keeping: a rare type of door ring, somewhat like a sanctuary knocker found in one of the farmhouses here.
With acknowledgements: Lindsell: a record of its people, parish and church by Arthur Frederick Osborne (1944). A copy can be found in Saffron Walden Town Library ref E/LIN.942.
Today Lindsell is visited by many people seeking out the Lindsell Art Gallery which offers a relaxing atmosphere, with coffee available, while you browse among the work of 100 local and regional artists and craftspeople: www.lindsellartgallery.co.uk