Galleywood is a village surrounded by countryside in Essex, about 30 miles from London, and close to the city of Chelmsford. It is off the A12, which connects to the M25 in London. Galleywood sits astride a Roman road running south from Chelmsford towards Vange Creek. Presently it has the B1007 Stock Road and B1009 Beehive Lane running through it. Galleywood was a part of Great Baddow Parish, but it comprised two villages or hamlets: Galleywood and Galleyend, about a mile apart. Galleywood has a population of 5,757 , and has a higher percentage of retired citizens than the national average.
Galleywood Common is approximately 400 yards in width and one mile in length, and consists of open fields and woodland. It also has St. Michaels Church in the woodland, which is visible for miles around.
Galleywood dates back to early medieval times and was recorded in 1250 as Gauelwode (Galleywood Common), a hamlet of Great Baddow, part of an ancient forest interspersed with open scrubland.
In early-Victorian times the village was centred on The Eagle crossroads, The Street and Well Lane, education being provided by a school that doubled as a Chapel of Ease on Sundays and by a Methodist chapel built in Well Lane.
Council housing was developed in the 1920s, with major building programmes during the early 1960s and through the 1970s. Private development was carried out concurrently and continued over the following three decades. The population has grown from under 800 in 1851 to around 1,000 in 1951 and to over 6,000 in 2004.
From all approaches Galleywood is separated either by open farmland, wooded slopes or green areas, free from ribbon development, giving a true rural feel to visitors and residents alike. Within the village outskirts there are several surviving long established working farms, some with buildings dating back to the 14th century.
The civil parish of Galleywood covers an area of 2200 acres and was established in 1987, with the transference of responsibility from Great Baddow to the newly created Galleywood Parish Council.
Galleywood Common comprises 175 acres and was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 1993. The common and the adjacent woods form a habitat for a wide range of wildlife including grass-snakes, adders, lizards, slow-worms, squirrels, badgers, foxes, wood-peckers and a wide variety of butterflies and moths and the heathland woodland and pond insects. It is an ancient man-made landscape, first recorded in Domesday (1086). The Common has a very strong character and has always been an important feature of the hamlet around which the village grew, providing grazing land, furze and wood for gathering and gravel for building and road making. The Common has had many uses throughout the ages:
Defensive fortifications during the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1813)
A large star-shaped Fort with artillery batteries, redoubts and earthwork fortifications were built on the racecourse astride the Margaretting Road in response to an invasion threat by French forces on the Essex coast. These defence works were decommissioned around 1813.
Galleywood Racecourse (1759–1935)
The historic Galleywood Racecourse on Galleywood Common in the Borough of Chelmsford, Essex was the scene of the Chelmsford Races for at least 176 years. It was one of the oldest English racecourses. Although records show existence in 1759, other reports indicate that racing took place there much earlier. Various members of royalty journeyed to Chelmsford Races including Edward VII. There was a siding for the racecourse at the railway nearby on New Road adjacent to Hylands, where horses and important visitors would arrive. The racecourse was renowned for its beauty and it was popular but the fact that it crossed main roads four times caused difficulties by the late 1930s. It was occupied by the Army and closed during WW2 and with more road traffic, re-opening for races in 1945 became impossible.
Chelmsford Golf Course (1893–1912)
In 1893 when the 9-hole golf course, designed by Tom Dunn, opened on Galleywood Common the game bore little relation to what it is today. It was played with a gutta-percha ball and clubs with hickory shafts hence the seemingly generous “Par” score allocations for each hole.
Cyril Yorker who caddied in 1910 described the course as no Gleneagles or Wentworth, just a great expanse of gorse and heather where more time was spent hunting for the balls than actually playing.
Chelmsford Golf Club was constituted in 1893 and played on Galleywood Common until they moved to Widford in 1912.
Brick making in the 19th and early-20th centuries
Army Training Ground and Artillery Defences (1914–1918)
The Grandstand and the Common were taken over by the Army for the duration of the First World War.
Army Training Ground and Anti-Aircraft Defences (1939–1945)
The Grandstand and the Common were taken over by the Army for the duration of the Second World War. Training of the Galleywood Home Guard took place on Galleywood Common. There was a rifle range, training grounds with many types of terrain, scrubland, gorse bushes, ferns, hills, dense woodland and farmland. There was an aircraft observation unit, anti-aircraft guns and searchlights. There were also military communications facilities which many say included radar aerials.
Galleywood's race course was first formally mentioned in 1770. In that year that the track's main event was granted the title of the "Queen's Plate" by King George III.
The race course began to fall into decline from the late 19th and 20th centuries. It was bought for housing land after World War II, although parts of the course remain around the common. It was the only race course in the country to go around a church.
Galleywood is home to the Chelmer Park which has facilities for hockey, football, netball, tennis, cricket, and rounders. It is the home of Chelmsford Hockey Club, the Chelmsford Cricket Club, Galleywood Cricket Club and the Galleywood Football Club. The Park extends to over 50 acres and includes a two playground areas for young children and toddlers. There is also a small apple orchard, a remnant of the historic land use.
Galleywood has Jubilee Recreational Park with a playground area and is the meeting point of Galleywood Scouts.
- "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
Media related to Galleywood at Wikimedia Commons