The Medieval Brewers of Great Waltham

The Medieval Brewers of Great Waltham

By Frank A. King

Brewery History: The Journal of the Brewery History Society, Issue 117 (Winter 2004)

Introduction: The Manor of Great Waltham is the largest and most important of the seven manors included in that Essex parish, and comprises some 7,450 acres. During the time of Richard the Second and after, the Manor House was the large farmhouse, Walthambury, which stands in the fork of the roads from Howe Street to Pleshey and Good Easter. This manor-house was not occupied by the lord who had his chief seat at Pleshey Castle about two miles away.

The medieval manor-house and encircling farm-buildings must have been an imposing cluster of buildings constructed of timber or timber framework and wattle which were roofed with thatch. A list of the names of the tenants at Great Waltham drawn up in 1422 shows a total of 160 men and women who hold their homes and lands under agreements subject to the performance of what were termed “precarious burdens.”

These duties included, in some instances, working so many days as “loveboons” every year with or without meat and drink-the usual bread, garlick and beer provided by the Steward of the Manor. In May, 1401, the Court Leet asked for the restoration of a perquisite suppressed by the lord, when “the Whole homage of Waltham” complained that for several years they had been deprived of the custom called medram (=meadram), viz, “concerning the lord’s best hurtard and his best cheese with salt to the same.”

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