The Chipping Hill area of Witham appears to have been occupied throughout much of the prehistoric period. Chipping Hill Camp earthwork is a bivallate (double-ditched) hill-fort probably constructed in the Iron Age. The focus of settlement appears to have shifted in the Roman period about a mile to the south-west to the Maltings Lane/Ivy Chimneys area. Here there was a Roman temple followed by an early Christian chapel and baptismal font and evidence of extensive occupation. There is however also evidence for Roman activity in and around Chipping Hill, including a possible building.
Evidence of Early Saxon occupation has also been found at Maltings Lane. In 912 King Edward the Elder ‘went with some of his forces into Essex to Maldon and camped there while the burh was being made and constructed at Witham, and a good number of people who had been under the rule of Danish men submitted to him’ (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). The location of the Witham burh is a matter of some debate. Possible sites include Chipping Hill Camp and the Wulvesford Enclosure identified by Rodwell in the area of Newland Street. In the later Saxon period Chipping Hill was again the focus of occupation at Witham, with a Royal holding, sizeable population and a mill. It probably also had a market function, as the ‘Chipping’ place-name suggests.
In 1147 King Stephen and Queen Matilda gave the manor of Witham to the Knights Templar. The Templars organised the development of the present town centre along the London-Colchester road in, or just before, 1212, when the market charter for a ‘new town’ at Wulvesford was granted. The new town quickly developed as a thriving commercial centre, although occupation also continued at Chipping Hill. There is considerable documentary evidence for the cloth-making industry in Witham during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. However, Witham remained a small market town, with a steady but unspectacular growth in population, housing and industry throughout the post-medieval and early modern period. The main industrial elements were based on agriculture, including the cloth industry and the production of seeds. In the mid 1960’s the Town Development Scheme, in conjunction with London overspill housing, led to enormous expansion of the town.