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Saturday, 14 April 2012

Bike ride to Toot Hill&Greensted Church 14.04.12

I set off from home heading out towards Ongar Essex Area.Plan was to have a cycle find a pub and have a pint before returning.
I headed through Collier Row up Orange Tree Hill, halfway up I stopped to take this picture,in the distance you can see the Water Tower on Broxhill Hill Road. Built by the South East Essex Water Company in 1934 to help maintain water pressure to the town of Romford, some two miles distant. It is still owned by the water authority but believed to be not now required for its original purpose.

All following pictures were taken with my mobile phone so apologies for the quality.

Orange Tree Hill

Once up the hill which is coincidently 344 feet (105 m) above sea level is Havering Atte Bower.

The village is steeped in royal history. Edward the Confessor was the first royal to take interest in the area as he established a hunting lodge here which over the years would become a palace or 'bower' and it is believed, though disputed, that he may have died in the house that he had loved so much before being buried at Westminster Abbey.

Following the road past The Oak Pub and down towards Passingford Bridge that crosses the River Roding.

 Crossing the river and through the tunnel under the Motorway, I continue along London Road towards Ongar.

 I decided to turn off into Berwick Road to get onto quieter roads. This narrow winding road climbs and dips frequently that leads me into Toot Hill.

Across from the green was a traditional red telephone box. I crossed the road and find it was now being used as a Tourist information centre and was filled with brochures,a map and a seat with a sign encouraging you to take your lunch there. Apparently BT withdrew the phone as it was no longer being used enough and sold it to the people of the village for £1 to use as the tourist information booth.

Just along the road was The Green Man PH, I was ready for a pint. As I walked up I could see the pub was heaving with blokes shouting and screaming at The Grand National Horse Race that was being shown on the TV. So I thought better of it and continued to cycle along the road.

A bit further along the road I visited Greensted Church.,in the small village of Greensted, near Chipping Ongar in Essex, England,it is the oldest wooden church in the world, and probably the oldest wooden building in Europe still standing, albeit only in part, since few sections of its original wooden structure remain. The oak walls are often classified as remnants of a palisade church or a kind of early stave church, dated either to the mid-9th or mid-11th century.The church lies about a mile west of Chipping Ongar town centre. Its full title is The Church of St Andrew, Greensted-juxta-Ongar. It is, however, commonly known simply as Greensted Church. Greensted is still a functioning church and holds services every week.
 Greensted Church has been situated in its idyllic setting for nearly 1,200 years. Archaeological evidence suggests that, before there was a permanent structure, there may well have been another church, or a holy place, on the site for much longer, possibly dating back to around the 4th century.

 The nave is mostly original, and dendrochronological research in the 1960s dated it to 845. In 1995, however, this date was revised to 1053 +10 -55 years (sometime between 998 and 1063). It is made of large split oak tree trunks, which was a traditional Saxon form of construction. The flint footings of the chancel wall and the pillar piscina inside the sanctuary are all that remain of any identifiably Norman work.

 he distinctive white wood-panelled tower was added in the Stuart period (17th century), and is what initially draws the eye. One of the bells is inscribed "William Land made me 1618", and so many consider the tower may in fact have been built earlier. This would not be too surprising as there are a number of mediaeval wooden towers in the district.
Around this time the three dormer windows were added to the nave for the first time, and the south porch was added. A fragment of 15th–century glass can be seen in the centre of the quatrefoil window at the west end, but it was set there during the Victorian restoration. The earliest wall memorial is dedicated to Jone Wood, 1585.

In 1013 an ancient chronicler records that the body of St Edmund was, for a night, deposited at Greensted Church. There are many tributes to St Edmund in the church itself.
Also, near the porch, a large, flat, coped stone marks the quiet resting place of an unknown early crusader who is said to have arrived, badly wounded, at the church and died there. The fact that it was made of stone, not a local material, and was placed against the south wall, suggests he was considered as a hero.

 I then cycled pretty much the same route back home, making a total of about 25 miles.I saw many different types of wildlife on route various birds,rabbits etc but most notable was my first ever sighting of a muntjac deer on my way back down Berwick Road.