A late-C18 milestone and an early-C19 milepost standing on the south side of Rowley Hill (A1017), around 60m south-east of its junction with Church Walk.
Reasons for Designation
The late-C18 milestone and early-C19 milepost standing on the south side of Rowley Hill (A1017), around 60m south-east of its junction with Church Walk, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* as well-executed and legible distance markers standing in their original position.
* their co-location illustrates the use of both first and second generation distance markers along with the development of the turnpike road system in Essex;
* as testaments to the development of our transport network, and as reminders of the different perceptions of distance in a pre-motorised age.
The Georgian period saw the beginning of a transport revolution in England with turnpike roads, which levied tolls on travellers to finance the maintenance and improvement of highways, being a pre-condition of industrial and economic development. England's first turnpike was established in 1663 when Parliament authorised the erection of toll gates (turnpikes) along a section of the old Roman road Ermine Street (now the Great North Road) between Wadesmill in Hertfordshire and Stilton in Huntingdonshire. However, the next turnpike was not established for another 23 years, when the London to Harwich Roads Act of 1695 granted magistrates the right to levy tolls along several sections of the Shenfield to Harwich road in Essex.
The main period of growth for turnpikes took place in the C18 when Parliament began passing Acts that granted similar privileges to bodies of trustees composed of local landowners and merchants. Under this arrangement, trustees were authorised to finance improvements along a particular stretch of road by issuing debt and levying tolls. Turnpike trusts gained popularity during the 1710s and 1720s and eventually replaced the original trusts that were managed by magistrates. Each turnpike trust was created by an Act of Parliament and continued under a series of renewal Acts passed at least every 21 years. Turnpike Acts were initiated by local property owners who petitioned Parliament for the right to create a trust, although it was common for petitions to fail in Parliament in the early C18, but by the middle of the century petitions were mainly successful. In Essex around fourteen Acts were passed between 1702 and 1836, with the Essex Roads Act of 1765 authorising the turnpiking of the road from Lexden, at the junction with the road to Colchester, to Halstead and Haverhill, passing through the village of Sturmer at its northern end.
Turnpike roads also had several accompaniments which, along with coaching inns, bridges and tollhouses, included milestones, as illustrated by the stone standing on the south side of Rowley Hill, Sturmer, around 60m south-east of its junction with Church Walk, bearing the worn inscription 'HALSTEAD / 14'. Although some roads had marks or stones from 1663 (Dover road) and 1708 (Great North Road), it was not until the 1720s when genuine milestones were first erected along the Fowlmere to Cambridge Turnpike Road. Although an Act of 1744 made milestones compulsory on most turnpike roads, with a Act of 1766 making them compulsory on all turnpike roads, it was not until the passing of the General Turnpike Act in 1773 that it became obligatory to put mileage on them. Although the inclusion of mileage on the Sturmer milestone is not a reliable guide to dating, particularly as some pre-1773 examples already carried this information, it probably dates to the late C18.
The passing of the Essex Roads Act in 1793 saw the county's turnpike trusts divided into two Districts: it is also from this date that the term Essex Turnpike Trust(s) appears to have been first used. The body of Trustees of the First District was divided by their own action into seven Divisions: Chelmsford; Colchester; Halstead; Dunmow; Rochford Hundred; Coggeshall; and Notley, with each Division effectively acting as a separate Trust. The Lexden to Halstead and Haverhill turnpike was administered by Halstead Division who, as with many Trusts in the early-mid C19, phased in a second generation of milestones. Although some Trusts adapted original milestones by affixing cast-iron plates to them, Halstead Division installed new cast-iron mileposts, with the one at Sturmer being placed alongside the original milestone. As well as recording the mileage to Halstead it also displayed the distances to Colchester (27 miles) and Haverhill (1 mile).
The advent of the railways from the 1840s signalled the end of the turnpikes, which could not compete and were often bought out by the more successful railway companies. From 1862 turnpikes came to be administered by Highway Boards and entered the public domain, while the passing of the Local Government Act in 1888 vested responsibility for roads in the newly established county and district councils. As faster motorised transport developed so the function of the milestones waned.
During the Second World War most milestones were removed and buried or defaced to confuse any potential German invaders, and not all were replaced afterwards. Post war road widening schemes further diminished numbers while some were destroyed by vehicle strikes or smashed by hedge-cutters or flails. The milestone and milepost at Sturmer were, as confirmed by the Ordnance Survey 25 inch map of 1876, re-erected in their original position after the War, although the lettering for Haverhill has now been lost. In 2020 the flagged surface surrounding the waymarkers was dug up and replaced with a small gravelled area bounded by concrete edging stones (not of special interest).
A late-C18 milestone and an early/mid-C19 milepost standing on the south side of Rowley Hill (A1017), around 60m south-east of its junction with Church Walk.
The gravelled area in which the milestone and milepost stand, along with the concrete edging stones, are not of special interest.
MATERIALS: the milestone is constructed from limestone while the milepost is of cast iron.
DESCRIPTION: the two waymarkers stand side by side on the south side of Rowley Hill (A1017), within a small gravelled enclosure bounded by concrete edging stones.
The milestone is rectangular-on-plan with a flat top and a worn inscription on its north face reading HALSTEAD / 14.
The milepost is triangular-on-plan with a pointed and broached central panel reading COLCHESTER / 27 / Strurmere. Its east face bears the number 1 (the accompanying lettering for Haverhill now missing) while the west face reads HALSTED / 14.