HADLEIGH, a market town in the Sudbury parliamentary division of Suffolk, England; 70 m. N.E. from London, the terminus of a branch of the Great Eastern railway. Pop. of urban district (1901), 3245. It lies pleasantly in a well-wooded country on the small river Brett, a tributary of the Stour. The church of St Mary is of good Perpendicular work, with Early English tower and Decorated spire. The Rectory Tower, a turreted gate-house of brick, dates from c. 1495. The gild-hall is a Tudor building, and there are other examples of this period. There are a town-hall and corn exchange, and an industry in the manufacture of matting and in malting. Hadleigh was one of the towns in which the woollen industry was started by Flemings, and survived until the 18th century. Among the rectors of Hadleigh several notable names appear, such as Rowland Taylor, the martyr, who was burned at the stake outside the town in 1555, and Hugh James Rose, during whose tenancy of the rectory an initiatory meeting of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, took pkce here in 1833.
Hadleigh, called by the Saxons Heapde-leag, appears in Domesday Book as Hetlega. About 885 AEthelflaed, lady of the Mercians, with the consent of AEthelred her husband, gave Hadleigh to Christ Church, Canterbury. The dean and chapter of Canterbury have held possession of it ever since the Dissolution. In the 17th century Hadleigh was famous for the manufacture of cloth, and in 1618 was sufficiently important to receive incorporation. It was constituted a free borough under the title of the mayor, aldermen and burgesses of Hadleigh. In 1635, in a list of the corporate towns of Suffolk to be assessed for ship money, Hadleigh is named as third in importance. In 1636, owing to a serious visitation of the plague, 200 families were thrown out of work, and in 1687 so much had its importance declined that it was deprived of its charter. An unsuccessful attempt to recover it was made in 1701. There is evidence of the existence of a market here as early as the 13th century. James I., in his charter of incorporation, granted fairs on Monday and Tuesday in Whitsun week, and confirmed an ancient fair at Michaelmas and a market on Monday.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)