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  • Greenery | Culture | History | Nightlife

    29 EF thaxted2.jpg
    Thaxted, complete with its famous morris men

    History

    HIDDEN GEM

    Greensted

    This is the oldest wooden church in the world, and probably the oldest surviving wooden building in Europe. Its walls, made from split oak tree trunks, were already standing when William the Conqueror landed at Hastings in 1066. The body of King Edmund of East Anglia is said to have rested here in 1013, on its way to reburial at Bury St Edmunds. Greensted is open daily and is an easy walk from Chipping Ongar town centre, to which you can travel on Sundays on the Epping to Ongar Railway over the now disused Underground tracks.Greensted Church, near Chipping Ongar (01992 524 005). Epping to Ongar Railway (www.eorailway.co.uk).

     

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    Saffron Walden
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    Antique books
    29 EF saffron.jpg
    Saffron Walden's historic fountain

    Ingatestone Hall

    This unspoiled sixteenth-century manor house was built by Sir William Petre, Secretary of State to four Tudor monarchs. Elizabeth I reportedly spent several nights here on her royal progress of 1561. Remarkably, 15 generations of Sir William’s family have lived in the house, which has largely kept its Tudor form and appearance (including two priest's holes). Among the more notorious was the seventh Lord Petre who spent six hours every day dressing his hair and whose hair-thieving exploits provided the inspiration for Alexander Pope’s mock-heroic poem, ‘The Rape of the Lock’.Ingatestone Hall, Ingatestone (01277 353 010).

    Bradwell-on-Sea

    Even when you reach Bradwell-on-Sea after a long drive to the very edge of Essex, it’s a stiff 15-minute walk to the Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall. This seventh-century Saxon church was built by St Cedd on the sea wall at the mouth of the Blackwater; its remoteness, and the wind whipping in from the North Sea, merely emphasise its importance as a place of pilgrimage then and now. The chapel is open all year round; there are Sunday evening services throughout August, and regular ‘quiet days’ run by the Othona Community based nearby.St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell on Sea (01621 776 203/www.bradwellchapel.org).

    Tilbury Fort

    Henry VIII built the first fort here in 1539-40. Nearby, Elizabeth I rallied her makeshift army as it awaited the Armada in 1588. The present fort dates from 1672 in the reign of Charles II and is the best and largest example of seventeenth-century military engineering in England. Its artillery was designed to stop warships getting up the river to London, while its garrison was meant to prevent an attack by land. Almost three centuries later, it accommodated troops destined for the trenches in World War I and remained in military use until 1950. It’s now owned by English Heritage and stages regular historical re-enactments.Tilbury Fort, Tilbury (01375 858 489/ www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.12192).

    Cressing Temple

    Under the rule of Edward II, this was the first grant of land given to the mysterious religious military order the Knights Templar. The site is home to two of the most spectacular thirteenth-century wheat and barley barns in Europe and a Tudor garden. As well as being worth a visit in its own right, Cressing hosts a wide range of activities including Templar tours, craft shows, kids’ archaeological digs and architecture study days. If you’ve read ‘The Da Vinci Code’, this is the place to let your imagination rip.Cressing Temple, Witham Rd, near Braintree (01376 584 903/www.cressingtemple.org.uk).

    Audley End

    Built by Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, to entertain King James I, this magnificent Jacobean mansion was later remodelled by Robert Adam and boasts some of his finest interiors – all set amid a sumptuous Capability Brown landscape. The kitchen garden has been restored to its late-Victorian glory after an ongoing eight-year project spearheaded by Garden Organic, the national charity for organic growing.Audley End, near Saffron Walden (01799 522 842/www.english-heritage.org.uk/audleyend).

    Castle Hedingham

    Set in a particularly lovely corner of the county, Hedingham’s Norman keep, 110 feet high, was built in about 1140 by Aubrey De Vere (the architect was the Archbishop of Canterbury). It has the best preserved Norman keep in England. The four floors include a magnificent banqueting hall spanned by a massive 28-foot arch – a good view of which can be gained from the Minstrels’ Gallery, built within the 12-foot walls.Hedingham Castle, Bayley St, Castle Hedingham, (01787 460 261/www.hedinghamcastle.co.uk).

    Copped Hall

    This is the burned-out shell of a Georgian mansion visible from the M25 between junctions 26 and 27. It repays closer inspection on one of the open days organised by the Copped Hall Trust, which fought off repeated large-scale development plans for the house and parkland. In 1548, Edward VI allowed the future Queen Mary to live at Copped Hall where she remained essentially a prisoner due to her Catholic faith. Later, Elizabeth I granted the house to one of her closest friends, Sir Thomas Heneage, and the building was remodelled by 1568 when the Queen came to stay. A disastrous fire in 1917 saw the main house destroyed, but a fascinating restoration and education programme is underway.Copped Hall Trust (01992 571 657/www.coppedhalltrust.org.uk).

    Layer Marney Tower

    Built in the first half of Henry VIII’s reign, Layer Marney is the quintessential Tudor gatehouse. Ostentation was the name of the game among courtiers at the time and the Marney family enthusiastically joined in this game of one-upmanship, creating what was to become England’s tallest gatehouse (which you can climb up) with lavish use of terracotta, stucco and Italian-style decorative detailing. How very Essex. A stroll around the gardens and livestock farm make for a fun family day out.Layer Marney Tower, Layer Marney, near Colchester (01206 330 784/www.layermarneytower.co.uk).

    Colchester

    The oldest recorded Roman town in Britain and a military garrison ever since, Colchester has packed a lot of history into its 2,000 years, including devastation by Boudicca, invasion by the Normans and siege during the English Civil War. Various museums tell the story, from the eleventh-century Norman keep that is Colchester Castle to the fun Hollytrees Museum which explores the city’s social history, including its connection with the nursery rhymes ‘Old King Cole’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.Colchester Tourist Information (01206 282 920/www.visitcolchester.com).

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    | Culture | History | Nightlife

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This unspoiled sixteenth-century manor house was built by Sir William Petre, Secretary of State to four Tudor monarchs. Elizabeth I reportedly spent several nights here on her royal progress of 1561. Remarkably, 15 generations of Sir William’s family have lived in the house, which has largely kept its Tudor form and appearance (including two priest's holes). Among the more notorious was the seventh Lord Petre who spent six hours every day dressing his hair and whose hair-thieving exploits provided the inspiration for Alexander Pope’s mock-heroic poem, ‘The Rape of the Lock’.Even when you reach Bradwell-on-Sea after a long drive to the very edge of Essex, it’s a stiff 15-minute walk to the Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall. This seventh-century Saxon church was built by St Cedd on the sea wall at the mouth of the Blackwater; its remoteness, and the wind whipping in from the North Sea, merely emphasise its importance as a place of pilgrimage then and now. The chapel is open all year round; there are Sunday evening services throughout August, and regular ‘quiet days’ run by the Othona Community based nearby.Henry VIII built the first fort here in 1539-40. Nearby, Elizabeth I rallied her makeshift army as it awaited the Armada in 1588. The present fort dates from 1672 in the reign of Charles II and is the best and largest example of seventeenth-century military engineering in England. Its artillery was designed to stop warships getting up the river to London, while its garrison was meant to prevent an attack by land. Almost three centuries later, it accommodated troops destined for the trenches in World War I and remained in military use until 1950. It’s now owned by English Heritage and stages regular historical re-enactments.Under the rule of Edward II, this was the first grant of land given to the mysterious religious military order the Knights Templar. The site is home to two of the most spectacular thirteenth-century wheat and barley barns in Europe and a Tudor garden. As well as being worth a visit in its own right, Cressing hosts a wide range of activities including Templar tours, craft shows, kids’ archaeological digs and architecture study days. If you’ve read ‘The Da Vinci Code’, this is the place to let your imagination rip.Built by Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, to entertain King James I, this magnificent Jacobean mansion was later remodelled by Robert Adam and boasts some of his finest interiors – all set amid a sumptuous Capability Brown landscape. The kitchen garden has been restored to its late-Victorian glory after an ongoing eight-year project spearheaded by Garden Organic, the national charity for organic growing.Set in a particularly lovely corner of the county, Hedingham’s Norman keep, 110 feet high, was built in about 1140 by Aubrey De Vere (the architect was the Archbishop of Canterbury). It has the best preserved Norman keep in England. The four floors include a magnificent banqueting hall spanned by a massive 28-foot arch – a good view of which can be gained from the Minstrels’ Gallery, built within the 12-foot walls.This is the burned-out shell of a Georgian mansion visible from the M25 between junctions 26 and 27. It repays closer inspection on one of the open days organised by the Copped Hall Trust, which fought off repeated large-scale development plans for the house and parkland. In 1548, Edward VI allowed the future Queen Mary to live at Copped Hall where she remained essentially a prisoner due to her Catholic faith. Later, Elizabeth I granted the house to one of her closest friends, Sir Thomas Heneage, and the building was remodelled by 1568 when the Queen came to stay. A disastrous fire in 1917 saw the main house destroyed, but a fascinating restoration and education programme is underway.Built in the first half of Henry VIII’s reign, Layer Marney is the quintessential Tudor gatehouse. Ostentation was the name of the game among courtiers at the time and the Marney family enthusiastically joined in this game of one-upmanship, creating what was to become England’s tallest gatehouse (which you can climb up) with lavish use of terracotta, stucco and Italian-style decorative detailing. How very Essex. A stroll around the gardens and livestock farm make for a fun family day out.The oldest recorded Roman town in Britain and a military garrison ever since, Colchester has packed a lot of history into its 2,000 years, including devastation by Boudicca, invasion by the Normans and siege during the English Civil War. Various museums tell the story, from the eleventh-century Norman keep that is Colchester Castle to the fun Hollytrees Museum which explores the city’s social history, including its connection with the nursery rhymes ‘Old King Cole’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.
Greenery
| Culture | History | Nightlife

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