The first Roman settlers in the Bishop's Stortford area established themselves above low-lying marshes half a mile upriver from where the modern town lies. The settlement was no more than a wayside outpost, serving travelling soldiers and traders. Thus, with the end of Roman rule, its raison d'etre disappeared. The later Saxon settlement that evolved above another ford on the river. Under the Bishop of London's lordship Bishop's Stortford grew into a thriving market town. So it remained until, in the 17th century, Charles II's new road through Hockerill to ease his journey to Newmarket saw Bishop's Stortford become an important coaching centre as well. The 18th-century Turnpike Trust and Stort Navigation helped the malting industry thrive, and, later, the railway's arrival increased the town's population, leading to further prosperity. Today Bishop's Stortford faces new challenges, including the growth of Stansted Airport and government requirements for increased housing in the south-east. It remains a lively, bustling market town, and the author's engaging narration of its compelling story is complemented by superb illustrations.