Gosfield - A Brief History

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Gosfield  then [1890-1945]

Gosfield in 1890 was a quiet rural village whose inhabitants worked mainly in agriculture and which was dominated by the two great estates of Gosfield Hall and Gosfield Place.

Samuel Courtauld who had purchased Gosfield Hall had used his great wealth derived from weaving silk, to provide new housing for his workers, clearing away some old cottages in the process. These new houses are now known as Park Cottages. He also built the Primary School and the coffee and reading rooms. Meanwhile the Sparrow family of Gosfield Place also built a new school. [The front part of the present Rowson Hall]

Little changed before the Second World War except  the decline in agriculture forced many of the people to look for employment elsewhere in the Courtauld factories in Halstead, Bocking and Braintree, and the Crittall factory in Braintree. The arrival of the bus services in the village was another factor in the process.

Electricity began to arrive in the village in the 1930’s but water supply and sewerage were still very primitive, some depending on private water suppliers, others still using own wells. In the depression of the 1930’s there was a great deal of rural squalor with some houses being virtually uninhabitable– Ropers Row on the corner of Hedingham road and Halstead road being a good example.


The second World War brought great changes. House building and repairs stopped for six years, Gosfield Hall fell into disrepair, and after 1941, the Americans arrived to build and operate Gosfield aerodrome. Convoys of troops passed through the village, sometimes being billeted on the playing field, and the young men of the village volunteered to serve their country and ended up in distant parts of the world.

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Gosfield Since 1945

The twenty years after 1945 were to see a complete transformation in the village. The Parish Council were desperate to get new housing in the village, As a result, council houses were built at The Limes and The Cedars in the 1950’s and derelict cottages were knocked down.

Mains drainage and water were also installed in the village in the 1950’s and most people now had electricity. With the increase in motor traffic, pavements were built for pedestrians.

In 1950 the parish council bought part of the Gosfield Estate as a Playing Field for the village. Gosfield Hall itself was in such a poor state of repair that it was nearly pulled down. Fortunately, it was rescued for use as a nursing home, then as rented accommodation for retired people and finally as a wedding venue.

The 1960’s saw the most dramatic changes with the building of the new estates. Nuns Meadow, Highlands, Greenfields and the School Park Estate were built at this time, more than doubling the population and bringing people from all parts of the country. They were a new generation of villager, who commuted by car to local towns, but could enjoy the tranquillity of village life.

Today, the influx of mostly young married couples in the 1960s has created a demographic imbalance which can be seen in the Survey. Gosfield has the highest percentage of over 60s in the whole of the Braintree District.

In recent times new facilities have been built. In 1983 the Maurice Rowson Hall was opened after a fund-raising campaign by villagers. In 2003 a New Pavilion was built on the Playing Field, and in the 1980’s the old sand and gravel workings were acquired by the village as a Nature Reserve– a much valued resource for the village.