ID: SAL_BDL / George Biddell

TitleSalcott and Virley by George Biddell 1933
AbstractVirley is a little place, and has never been of much importance in the land, nevertheless its history can be traced back for about 1,000 years.

In the reign of Edward, the Confessor (AD 1045-66) a large and thriving village stood at the head of the creek, near the spot where a bridge now connects Salcott and Virley. The village was called Saltcote meaning in the Saxon language Salt cottage or house, because there stood a building used for making or storing salt, which was obtained by evaporating sea water. In those days when the butcher's and fishmongers' shops did not exist in every town and village, people lived largely on salted provisions, and the manufacture of salt was a very profitable industry. By it and by fishing and fowling the villagers get a comfortable living.

The greater part of the village stood on the southern side of the creek, and was a hamlet in the large manor of Great Wigborough which was a possession of Barking Abbey from Saxon times till the Abbey ceased to exist in the reign of Henry VIII. The smaller part, on the north side of the creek, appears to have stood in a manor which in the year 1086, the date of the Domesday Survey, was held by a Norman knight named Robert de Verli. In ancient documents it is referred to as Salcot Verli. It remained in the Verli family until 1315 when Philip de Verli sold it together with its church to Walter de Pateshull. From the Pateshull family these passed into the Attlee, Newport, and Parker families. Early in the 17th century the manor and church were purchased by Antony Abdy Esquire from a member of the last-mentioned family. Abdy was a wealthy merchant of London, an Alderman of the City and served as one of its sheriffs in 1630.

After the Norman Conquest the village of Salcott grew and prospered till it became a small town and had a market. We find that in the reign of Edward VI (1547-1553) it had several hundred inhabitants. From that time its prosperity declined. The dissolution of the Abbey in 1539 was no doubt a great blow to the town. Probably the Abbesses had been benevolent as ladies of the manor in which it was included and the Abbey had been one of the best customers for the fish and salt which the inhabitants had to dispose of. In addition to that a slow and continuous alteration of the levels of the land and sea was in progress, which wrought havoc with the industries of salt making and fishing. The effect of this was that mud was deposited on the fore-shores of sand and shingle, and silted up the channel of the creek so that both industries dwindled and in course of time came to an end, leaving only agriculture as a means of support for the people.

AuthorGeorge Biddell
Published30 December 1933
SourceMersea Museum