THE man hunting Brentwood's lost royal charter has been handed a copy of a centuries-old map of the town clearly showing the location of the marketplace he is looking to reintroduce.
Clive Othen has given the Gazette a glimpse of the map, which dates from 1717 and indicates that the market was staged in an area bordered by the High Street, Crown Street and Hart Street – near where the Slug and Lettuce is today.
Mr Othen, the chairman of Brentwood Chamber of Commerce, now plans to bring a market back to the same spot – as soon as he can get his hands on a copy of the 13th century charter.
The map features in a book entitled Victorian and Edwardian Brentwood – A Pictorial History, written by the late Gladys Ward.
Mr Othen, a retired financial services designer, said this week: "I was very excited to be given this map and I'm very keen to see a big market in Brentwood. I want to put the market exactly where the old market was, because the street is wide enough.
"If we had stalls in the road we could leave the pavement for people to walk around on."
The 65-year-old has been liaising with both the National Archives in Kew, Surrey and the British Library in London, both of which he understands may have a copy of the charter, drawn up by King Henry III in 1227.
Once the document is obtained, it will need to be translated into English as it would have been scribed in medieval Latin.
Following this, Mr Othen will ask Brentwood-based solicitors Wortley Byers to give a legal opinion as to whether the charter still carries the legal force it would have had in the Middle Ages.
Assuming it does, he would then organise a medieval-themed market which, he believes, would help to revolutionise the town centre.
Mr Othen, of Oliver Road, Shenfield, said: "A market would increase footfall in Brentwood and the charter would give stall-holders certain rights.
"It is tremendously exciting."
He added that once a copy of the charter had been found it would be brought back to the town for residents to see.
"There are a couple of places where it could go," he said.
"One is the Chamber of Commerce's premises in Pepperell House in the High Street and the other is in the Town Hall."
However, he added: "I would be open to suggestions – perhaps the Brentwood Museum could be an option.
"It just needs to be put in a safe place where people can get to have a look at it."
As previously reported in the Gazette, the charter permitted a market to be staged in Brentwood every Wednesday.
It was amended in 1252 to change market day to Thursday but, after this, little is known about the charter.