Chelmsford was started in 1199 when the Bishop of London was granted a Royal Charter to hold a market in Chelmsford, officially making it a town. The market, held everyday but Sunday and Monday, is still a vital part of the center of town today. Its original name of Celmerestfort was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 and in 1189 it was changed to Chelmsford. Although it was not an official town until 1199, there had been settlements there, or close by, since ancient time. In the Springfield suburb of the town there has been evidence of Neolithic and late Bronze Age settlements discovered.
There is also archeological evidence that the area was once occupied by the Romans. Part of this is the remnant of a Roman fort that dates back to AD 60 in which a town grew around. In Roman times the town was named Caesarouagus which means "The Market Place of Caesar." The remnants of the Roman town's mansio, civic center, post office, and hotel lay beneath the nearby by town of Moulshand. Also, below the Odeon roundabout the remains of an octagonal temple have been found.
In 1381 the town played an important role in the Peasants' Revolt. After stopping the rebellion Richard II moved on the Chelmsford. There in the gallows of what is not called Primrose Hill, Richard II hung many of the ringleaders of the revolts. During the 17th Century there were many victims of Mathew Hopkin's witch hunt were jailed in Chelmsford before being hung at Assizes for witchcraft. It is rumors based and some evidence that Robert the Bruce was born in the town and not in Turnbetty Castle as officially reported. Henry VIII had a hunting lodge in the town that has been turned into the New Hall School in Boreham.
The 1980s started a marked decline in the town industries with several closings of factories. Although because of Chelmsford's close proximity to London and the Essex center, it has thrived as an administrative and distribution center. Many of the old factories still remain as converted luxury apartments and health spa with the remainder being torn down to make room for the construction of the Rivermend Campus of the Anglia Ruskin University.
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