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Matthew Hancock
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An Introduction to Haverhill

A market town for almost 1000 years, Haverhill still hosts a provisions market each Friday and Saturday throughout the year. The town is a popular shopping centre, with a combination of national and local retailers lining its streets.
      Haverhill was recorded in the Domesday survey in 1086, but even before the English and Normans came archaeological evidence shows that both Stone Age man and later the Romans thought this valley a good place to settle. The town thrived through its textile industry notably in the 19th century when it became a significant centre for the making of ‘drabbet’ smocks for the agricultural workers. In 1856, D Gurteen & Sons built a tactory with 32 power looms driven by steam. Although they had been in the town since the 1780s, the new factory brought expansion and the town became prosperous. It almost doubled in size between 1851 and 1901, bringing new houses, factories, schools, churches and public buildings to make it a complete Victorian town. In the late 1940s, Haverhill was named an ‘expansion town’ by the then Haverhill Urban District Council and Greater London Council. The population quadrupled between 1951 and the present time and Haverhill continues to grow, with new facilities and new housing. It is a forward looking town with a strong sense of community and an active Town Council.
      Sadly, fire destroyed many of Haverhill’s Mediaeval buildings in 1665, but glimpses can still be seen in Hamlet Road. Two privately-owned buildings, in particular, conjure up the town of days gone by ‘Cleves House’, a substantial manor house, commemorates the fact that Haverhill Manor was part of the marriage settlement between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves. ‘Weavers’, meanwhile, is a Mediaeval hall house dating from the 15th century. There are still many fine Victorian buildings to admire.
You can find out more about Haverhill’s history at the Local History Centre, based at the Town Hall Arts Centre on the High Street.
Taken from the 'Welcome to Haverhill' Brochure, available from
the Haverhill Library.
Reproduced with kind permission of the Haverhill Library

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