Friday, 6 May 2016
The grumpy chauffeur put the vehicle into gear and moved off. We were on a journey to a far away land on the edge of that place where dragons live. Twenty minutes later, after rushing up to each white line, traffic signal or bus stop the bus let me off at the correct stop, misery guts mumbling to himself as he went.
I made my way in the warm sunshine (not a phrase found often in these pages) towards the church called St Mary with St Leonard passing as I did so one or two interesting old dwellings one of which had an interesting old builder standing there staring at the scaffolding on which he was supposed to be working.
Like almost all Essex churches this one goes back over a thousand years. The basic structure has changed greatly since it began but a mass of Roman bricks can be found among the flint filled walls reflecting the huge Roman villa or villas that once stood here. Such buildings abound round here and I was told that Roman items are constantly being found by farmers and others.
It is likely that a wooden Saxon church stood here at the time the Normans arrived probably built on the space used for worship of pagan gods before conversion. Certainly the Normans would change the landscape by erecting strong stone or flint churches to indicate their presence and that they were not merely passing through. This has been a successful design as a huge number of such churches can be found here. Even though much renovation occurs through the years the early work is often clear enough to see.
However being on the edge of a big city the church door was firmly shut against passing bandits. This is a shame as few can afford to have a guard on duty all day and light fingered folks abound. So I wandered about the large churchyard drawing stares from passing dogwalkers. The path leads to fields where the animals are taken daily and many were seen wandering about, all on leads in the churchyard.
Naturally my eye looks for the white CWGC stones that stand over all war dead men. One here actually died in 1951 so it will be interesting to know about him if that becomes possible. Only one woman with a dog passed by almost greeting me with a smile but not quite managing this and I did manage to avoid the chap in red wandering about pointing ostentatiously at the stones and muttering things. Moving to the other stone evaded the possibility of conversation although this may not have been in his mind. Sad to say I am not sure what was. He did drive away the fat pheasant and his maid I noted at the far side and they had vanished by the time I got over there.
While many churches possess Roman bricks I have never seen so many as here. This was just one section and others could be seen marking the end of the original Norman building, now of course extended but leaving the Red bricks in place. It is thought the Saxons were forced to carry these from some distance away and from this a story grew that originally the church was to be built in one place but dragons would come out at night and move the stones to where the church now sits. This may be the work of an ancestor of a tabloid journalist who originated it of course.
The abundance of blossom and little flowers, blue and yellow that abound at the moment is brilliant. These do not always come out properly with me as the light fools my camera, it is not used to sunshine, but I love to see these flowers often growing wild by the roadsides around here. It makes Spring a marvellous sight.
Having wandered around I took a few pictures and once I have looked again at them you will get to see all 98.