When Chelmsford Became the Capital of England

By | November 1, 2013

It was 1381 and King Richard II was on the throne. But there was unrest in the country. The plague had wiped out thousands of young men in the 1350’s and left the country short of labour. Those left that were fit to work demanded better conditions and higher wages but the Statute of Labourers was brought in by the Government of Edward III to stop employers bending to these demands and enraged the peasantry. Another poll tax was introduced and the poor became further angered and started to resist tax collections and rebel. By the time the young Richard II took the throne, uprisings had started in a number of southern towns, with many believing that the teenage king was too young to rule properly and was being manipulated by a number of unpopular men.

In June 1381 a group of men marched on London and attacked several properties. King Richard II met the rebels and allegedly agreed to their demands and that he would not punish those that had taken part in the uprisings. However, the next day when the King met with one of the rebel leaders, the rebel ended up dead after apparently being rude and threatening to the King. King Richard revoked all promises made and captured and executed any rebels that were found.

London became a dangerous place and peasants began revolting across the south of England. King Richard II made the decision to move his court from London to Chelmsford, thus putting the small town on the map. He took up lodgings in a manor house in Writtle. For the 5 days from 1 July 1381 to 6th July, Chelmsford in effect became the capital of England and the seat of the country’s Government. Many of the deeds and declarations dispatched across the country to try and quell the unrest are dated and stamped as coming from Chelmsford.

Once the revolt was quashed and the threat was deemed to have passed, the King returned to London and Chelmsford’s role in this part of history is all but forgotten.

Over the centuries Chelmsford grew from a small market town into a more important agricultural and industrial centre. In the 19th century its population grew rapidly and its church was made into a Catherdral. The engineering industry grew but meant that the town was a target for German bombers in the second world war and Chelmsford suffered a number of heavy bombing raids. In 2012 Chelmsford became a city and now has a population of just over 100,000.

If you are interested in visiting and exploring Chelmsford and need taxis in Chelmsford then look up one of the many taxi companies in the area.

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