Layer de la Haye

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Layer de la Haye
St. John the Baptist church, Layer de la Haye, Essex - - 192298.jpg
St John the Baptist church, Layer de la Haye
Location: 51°50’35"N, 0°51’29"E
Population: 1,767  (2011[1])
Post town: Colchester
Postcode: CO2
Dialling code: 01206
Local Government
Council: Colchester

Layer de la Haye (often spelled Layer-de-la-Haye; locally known just as Layer) is a village and parish near Colchester in Essex.


The village is thought to have been founded in Saxon times, with its original name, Legra, meaning 'lookout'. Its elevation made it an ideal vantage point for the Saxons against raiding parties from the coast. Later its name changed to Leire or Leger, meaning 'mud'. A Norse word, this is likely to have referred to the soil and marshland around the village. During the time of the Norman Conquests, the village was "owned" by the de la Hayes, and its name thus changed to Layer de la Haye. Layer was ravaged by the Black Plague of the 14th Century. The Church became derelict until it was restored by monks.

In 1289, John de Rye donated 160 acres of land to St John's Abbey in Colchester. As a token of appreciation, a manor and farm were named after him (Rye Manor and Rye Farm respectively). At the end of the 15th century, the Abbey built a toll-gate house, now called the Greate House (originally the Gate House) near Malting Green.

At the time of the dissolution of the Monasteries which began in 1536, Sir Thomas Audley, who in turn became speaker of the House of Commons and Lord Chancellor, appropriated the manors of Rye and Blind Knights, together with the Mill and the patronage of the benefice. Layer Mill is mentioned in the Domesday Book as a water-mill. The mill wheel was powered by water from the Roman River.

Layer de la Haye is among the villages which suffered damage from the 1884 Colchester earthquake.


In 1950 its population was under 700; by 1975 it was over 1,000 and in 1990 it was just short of 2,000. However, the proximity of Colchester, with its large range of shops and facilities, eventually forced all of the three shops in Layer to close. The Layer Village Store was reopened by new owners in 2015.[2]


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Layer de la Haye)