Sunday, 23 May 2010
All Saints Cressing
I came across this magnificent Celtic cross at All Saints Church Cressing very early this morning. It belongs to a man called Colonel Sir John Page Wood, a 2nd Baronet at that! (Do you know or care what 'Baronet' means? Neither do I if truth be told!) I made the mistake of not noting down all the info and now I can find no trace of this man on the web. I recall he died in 1908 but that is all the info I can remember. I may have to search a bit more diligently for that. A Page Wood was the vicar of this small church and it is clear this family were people of substance and importance in the area. Not important enough for folks to write about them once they had departed it appears!
All Saints is an Anglo Catholic Church situated at the end of the small village of Cressing. However it is fair to say that what is described as 'Cressing' also includes several small hamlets round about. For many years the main occupation must have been agricultural I suspect. The village has seen occupation since the Iron Age and an archaeological 'dig' uncovered many finds from before Roman days to the East of the church building. Also a small number of houses were burnt down, possibly around the time of Boudica's revolt. While the church itself was begun just before 1200 evidence has discovered previous church building posts going back to the 9th century. Burial finds indicate this may well have been an area used for pagan worship for years before this.
Today the church, and village, appear quiet, the headstones around the building surrounded by Spring growth allowed to prosper to aid the cultivation of the insect wildlife which suffers deprivation these days. It is interesting to contemplate the number of people who dwelt in this village during the past two and a half thousand years. Tilling the fields at whatever period of time would have caused each to grumble at the weather and their ceaseless toil. Most would have been subject to the ruling Lord of the time, we forget just how 'free' we are today, something our predecessors would never have understood. Travellers from distant parts, even from over the far away sea, would have brought trade even here. Roman life was settled enough for large villas to be built in the district, many churches contain Roman brick, and religious life would alter slowly, in spite of whatever the rulers of the time insisted upon. Life would be dictated by the seasons, opportunities limited for much of the time, and in time of war the men would be expected to leave everything and join up. Nineteen names are found on the Great War memorial, with only one added from WWII. Like all such hamlets the house prices would shock those original inhabitants if the could come back today. A smart residence can be obtained from between £279,000 and just under half a million!
Just a pity that the light fingered of today leads to such places being locked at all times. The history to be found inside an aged church is always worth considering. The styles of worship, the smell of the people who considered washing irrelevant, flowers left on the floor to dull the odour, reformation leading to changes, priests who could not read in times past, and those who don't know their God today, nominal churchgoers, those worshipping to keep their jobs, the rich who attend to lord it over their people, hundreds possibly thousands of souls who have walked along the path and ventured inside. History is always interesting.