Lexden Park House
Lexden is a village and ancient parish in the Lexden hundred of Essex, which forms a suburb of Colchester. It has previously been called Lessendon, Lassendene and Læxadyne. Lexden is mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Lexden is approximately one mile west of central Colchester. It is home to a public house, the Crown; and St Leonard's Church (Church of England). The Leonard in question is Saint Leonard of Noblac, the patron saint of prisoners.
Lexden's original name, Læxadyne, is Old English for "Leaxa's valley". It is referred to as being in the "Hundred of LASSENDENE" in the Domesday Book.
It is now cut into two-halves by a modern bypass, Spring Lane. Within the space of a few hundred yards there are two 400-year-old watermills, (both now private residences), a 100-year-old iron bridge over the River Colne, two local nature reserves and several interesting walks.
The site on which Lexden now stands was crossed by the fortifications of Iron Age Colchester, the remains of the earthen ramparts can be seen at Bluebottle Grove, Lexden Park and alongside Straight Road. A number of burial mounds or tumuli remain, notably Lexden Tumulus in Fitzwalter Road which is reputed to be the burial place of Cunobelinus or Cymbeline, the king of the Catuvellauni. The Lexden Medallion was found when the tumulus was excavated in 1924 and is now in the Colchester Castle Museum. Another tumulus is The Mount in Marlowe Way, in which some fragments of Roman pottery and tiles have been found.
The parish church was founded early in the 12th century and a number of houses of mediæval origins survive in Lexden Road (the A1124). Parts of The Sun Inn date from 1542 but it has recently become a private house.
In 1648, Lexden was the headquarters of Lord-General Thomas Fairfax during the Siege of Colchester, and his army camped on Lexden Heath. A Parliamentarian fort was built on Great Broom Heath (now called Hilly Fields) which overlooks the town. During the Great Plague of 1665 to 1666, the burial ground for Colchester was near The Mount.
During the 18th century a number of large houses were built including Lexden Park on the corner of Church Road, and the Manor House was rebuilt. The main road became a turnpike in 1707 and a cottage used as a toll house survives. Lexden Heath was a large area of common land used for grazing, horse races and military camps; it was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1821. This enlarged the estate of the lord of the manor, the Reverend John Rawstorn Papillon, who was an acquaintance of Jane Austen and whose niece married Jane's brother Henry. Straight Road was created at this time to make a way across the new inclosures to the hamlet of Shrub End, which became a separate parish in 1845.
The small and decrepit mediæval church of St Leonard was demolished in 1820 and a new church was built slightly to the south, designed in the Early English style by M. G. Thompson. A larger chancel was added in 1892. A Methodist chapel was built in Straight Road in 1859 and a mission hall (now Lexden Evangelical Church) in 1885.
A National Day and Sunday School was built in Spring Lane in 1817 and enlarged several times until replaced by Lexden Council School (now Lexden Primary) in 1925. Lexden Park House became the Endsleigh private school in 1955 and then the Endsleigh Annex of the Colchester Institute until 1990. The house itself was converted to apartments and the gardens became a local nature reserve. The Avenue of Remembrance was built in 1929 to relieve traffic on the London Road and as a memorial to the fallen of Colchester in World War I.
Charles Henry Harrod, a businessman involved in retail trade who founded the highly successful Harrods store in London, was born in Lexden.
In Lexden, there is one private school, Holmwood House School, which was founded in 1922 and has around three hundred pupils from reception to year eight. Lexden Primary School and Home Farm Primary School are state schools for all children from nursery to year six, Lexden also having a special unit for the hearing impaired. There is also a school for children with special needs, Lexden Springs School.
Sports and recreation
Lexden has a King George's Field in memorial to King George V.
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