Friday, 25 April 2008

Greensted: Durrant's Handbook For Essex (1887)

The following is taken from ‘Durrant’s Handbook For Essex’ (Durrant & Co., Chelmsford, 1887).

Green’stead-juxta-Ongar. A. 681; p. 88; Rectory, value £280; 1 m. W. from Ongar.

This parish is remarkable for its unique Church (St Andrew), said to be one of the most ancient in the world. The walls of the nave are of well-preserved timber, being composed of the trunks of large oak or chestnut trees, split in two, roughly hewn, and set upright beside one another, their bottoms being let into a sill, and theit ops into a wall-plate. The whole edifice, which consists merely of nave, chancel, and wooden tower with shingled spire and two bells, one of them dated 1618, measures about 30 ft. in length by 14 ft. Although it has been several times restored, it is believed to be the original structure erected as a temporary resting-place for the body of St. Edmund, on its way from London to Bury St. Edmunds in 1013. It is lit by several modern dormer windows, in one which is a fragment of ancient stained glass representing what is supposed to be the crowned head of St. Edmund. The chancel is small, and of brick, with Tudor windows. The S. porch is new. There is a curious stone pillar-piscina. In the church is preserved a 15th cent. panel, probably from a rood screen, showing the martyrdom of the king, and very well executed. There are monuments to the Smyth, Cleeve, and Ord families. The Registers date from 1561. The Hall, adjoining the church, is a large mansion, with tasteful pleasure grounds and an extensive view.

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