Village History
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The Village and Parish

The name of the parish appears to have been formed from the Saxon words for a heath or juniper and a field and is written in records , Gocefeild, Gorefeld, Gorsfeild and Gosfend, or possibly from Goosefield, Godís field or Gorse Field .

The village or Parish is not mentioned in the Doomsday book as at this time the area formed part of the adjoining lands and Lordships of Hedingham Castle, Halstead, Bocking and Wethersfield. It appears to have been separated during the reign of King Henry the II, this is evident from a mention in a charter of the Earl of Oxford, and also from an ancient family, surnamed de Gosfeld, who existed in the area during the reigns of King Henry II (1154-1189), Richard 1st (1189-1199) and King John (1199-1216).

The land in the Parish appears to have been divided during the middle ages into several Manors.The Manor of Bellowes, or otherwise Gosfield Hall, the Manor of Gosfield, or Montherer, the Manor of Hodings, alias Church-Hall, the Manor of Parke-Hall, the Manor of Lifton-Hall, the Manor of Shardlowes, the Manor of Morells, the Manor of Aylewards, and the Manor of Biggs.

The first village church appears to have been built around 1190 by Aubrey de Vere(1120-1194), and the present St Catherineís Church was built in 1435 by Sir Thomas Rolf.

For those interested in a more in-depth history of the families of these Manors and the Parish and Village there is an excellent reference section in the Halstead Public Library which covers this and many other areas of Essex.

Gosfield Hall

Probably, apart from the local church, one of the most significant buildings remaining within the Parish is Gosfield Hall. This appears to have been built around the mid 1500's and contains the best of many architectural periods.

One of it's main claims to fame is that Elizabeth I stayed there on two occasions. The Hall is built around the original Tudor courtyard and the west wing contains the oldest part of the building built by Sir John Wentworth in the mid-sixteenth century. The east wing was remodeled in 1691 and in the early years of the 18th century further changes were made to the east wing and to the courtyard elevations. By the early part of the 20th century, Gosfield Hall was virtually abandoned although it did good service as a base for troops stationed in Essex during the Second World War, since when it had a chequered history until it was purchased by Country Houses Association.

Within the Hall grounds there are also two buildings which house an historic Gin and Pump.

The Hall is generally open to the public from May to September on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Guided tours of the house begin at 2.30 & 3.15 pm.

Further information can be obtained from the Web site...

The Airfield

Early in 1942, at the request of the British Air Ministry, the US Army 816th Engineer Aviation Battalion, built Gosfield Airfield, which was to become Station 154. It was to be a class "A" airfield, originally intended for the United States 8th Bomber Command where it would be linked with Earls Colne and Birch airfields under the control of the 4th Wing Headquarters at Marks Hall.

By the time it was completed the Eighth' Air Force no longer required the airfield and it was passed to the control of the US Ninth Air Force around December of 1943, who decided that the 365th Fighter Group would initially be based there. January 1944 saw the arrival of the first P-47D Thunderbolts.

For a period around April 1944 397th Bomber group also operated B 26

bombers from the site.

In April the 410th Bomber Group moved from their temporary home at Birch near Colchester to Gosfield. They operated A-20G and A-20J Havoc light twin engined bombers. The operations flown were planned in preparation for invasion of Normandy by attacking coastal defenses, airfields and V weapon sites in France and marshalling yards in France and Belgium.

The 410th Bomber Group flew their 100th mission on August 31, 1944.

By September the targets were almost beyond the range of the Havocs so the 410th moved to an airstrip in liberated France. The airfield was returned to the RAF and used by a Heavy Glider Servicing Unit.

Gosfield was also used by C-47 Dakota aircraft during the airborne crossing of the River Rhine.

The glider servicing unit continued to operate until the airfield was closed down during February, 1946.

Pictures of some of these aircraft can be seen in the Photo Library