There is evidence for activity in the Kelvedon area from the Palaeolithic period onwards. Evidence of Late Iron Age settlement has been found throughout the area of the Roman town, consisting of individual enclosed house-plots, fields, possibly a temple and some industrial activity. However this settlement is not thought to be urban in nature.
In the Roman period a town developed on the Kelvedon site. Originally this consisted of a civilian settlement and possibly a short-lived fort (Rodwell, 1988). In the late second century the majority of the built-up area, including a temple and a possible mansio, was enclosed within a defensive ditch, with the cemeteries sited outside. By the end of the Roman period the town was in decline, although there is some evidence for continuation of settlement, not necessarily urban in nature, into the early Saxon period.
The early Saxon period is represented by a cemetery dating to the fifth to sixth centuries. There is a gap in the information in the following centuries until the later Saxon period, when the manor of Church Hall was granted to Westminster Abbey in 998. The Domesday Survey records the landholdings of Kelvedon at the end of the Saxon period.
The medieval town was under the control of several different manors, with Church Hall and Felix Hall holding the majority of the High Street properties. The original focus of the settlement is thought to be around the church, with a second smaller focus at the river crossing-point at Easterford over a kilometre to the east.
In the post-medieval period Kelvedon developed its classic linear development form, with the merging of the medieval settlement foci at the Church Street junction and Easterford. In the modern period Kelvedon and the neighbouring village of Feering have effectively merged, being separated only by the river and the water-meadow. Until the twentieth century Kelvedon was essentially an agricultural community although it also had an economic role as a staging-post town and a provider of accommodation for travellers.