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Halstead High Street - geograph.org.uk - 507744.jpg
Halstead High Street
Grid reference: TL816306
Location: 51°56’42"N, 0°38’28"E
Population: 11,053  (2001)
Post town: Halstead
Postcode: CO9
Dialling code: 01787
Local Government
Council: Braintree

Halstead is a small town in Essex, near Colchester and Sudbury. It had a population of 11,053 at the 2001 Census.

The town lies in the Colne Valley, and originally developed on the hill to the north of the river. The name Halstead is said to have derived from the Old English hald (refuge, shelter, healthy) and stede (site, place or farm), meaning 'healthy farm' 'safe place' or 'place of refuge'.[1]

The single wide High Street is dominated by the 14th century church of St Andrew which was extensively renovated during the Victorian period but retains much earlier decoration including tomb monuments dating from the 14th century and earlier.

Halstead has been home to the well-known author, Sheila Jacobs (writer of various Christian novels, including Watchers). Its main attractions include a local Antiques mill.

Nearby Moyns Park, a Grade I listed Elizabethan country house, is said to have been where Ian Fleming put the finishing touches on his novel From Russia, with Love.


The parish church is Holy Trinity


The local historical society holds regular monthly meetings throughout the year and a town museum attached to the town council offices features some historical artifacts and various objects of limited local interest.

The Empire Theatre stands in Butler Road.

A River Walk runs through the town from east to west, and just outside the town is Broaks Wood, a popular area for walking owned by the Forestry Commission. Halstead has a great library, situated in a large open-plan building that was formerly the Corn Exchange. It was built during 1864-1865. [1]

Christopher Portway, the famous war hero, explorer and author, was born in Halstead in 1923. After leaving school he joined the Army and fought in the Second World War. Captured in Normandy, he later escaped from three prison camps in Eastern Europe. Whilst on the run from the Germans in Czechoslovakia he met Anna who was later to become his wife. After 1945 he made repeated attempts to reach Anna though her home was sealed off behind the Iron Curtain. On one such attempt Christopher was caught after cutting his way through electrified fences and crawling over a minefield, to be awarded 104 years in jail by the Communist authorities. Christopher Portway was a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, as well as being a recipient of the Winston Churchill Award for biography and travel. He was a frequent contributor to various magazines and newspapers and was the author of no less than seventeen books. His brother Michael Portway is a Poet and the chairman of Halstead in Bloom, a local charity dedicated to floral displays in Halstead.


  • Cricket: Halstead Cricket Club
  • Football: Halstead Town FC

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