The South Side
Still reading the book A Discovery of Old Essex by Richard Pusey, I came across a church, fairly nearby, we had'nt visited. So we decided to go today, the weather was cold, but fortunately, the Cat pub is'nt too far from our point of destination.
We got to the village no church in sight, though it said on the OS that the church was by itself on the banks of the Chelmer river, after asking someone we turned and went down a muddy track, and there in the distance the most pretty little church stood, my photos don't do it justice, because I had to photograph into the sun, but we shall go back in summer, perhaps for a picnic.
The church literature says there has been a church on this site since 1150 AD, but it must go back into Saxon times as the village was called Ultingham in the Domesday book. Pusey reckons that Chelmer river could have been called Ult, which would take it back far in time, but another historian thinks that Ult maybe another name for the River Ter which joins the Chelmer half a mile away.
The materials for the stone are many, and the church underwent a restoration in the 19th century but the north wall of the church represents the oldest part of the church, and there you will see flint, coursed by thin tiles (maybe Roman) and courses of the famous black pudding stone. In the literature the stone is described thus..
The dark brown pebbly stones are a natural rock, a conglomerate known as "Puddingstone". In pagan times this was revered as 'living rock' and is often found in old churches in Essex. The brown muddy looking stones higher up the wall are a soft rock known as 'septaria' which is found in London Clay'...
The church sits in solitary splendour a few feet from the river, the land rising slightly from the river, and back up the trackway, the rise is quite sharp to the village.....
Solving mysteries; what does it signify a Norman church by a river can this site be pushed back earlier and how much earlier?, the latest dates on the fabric of the church go back to 1066 according to Seax, not many finds in the area just cropmarks of ditches and tracks. But studying the map and a slight picture starts to emerge, this little church has no allegiance with the village of Ulting, no trackways across the field, but if you follow the trackway from the entrance, a slightly different picture emerges. The trackway would have gone past Fieldend farm and it is here to the north of the farm that... Cropmarks of rectilinear enclosures, square enclosure, linear features - field boundaries, pits and rectilinear features appear... and given that following this road north it will eventually arrives at the A12 Roman road, perhaps there is a much earlier prehistoric trackway running through the landscape.
There is a triangle of rivers meeting here within a few miles of each other, the Ter, the Blackwater and the Chelmer, making it a good navigational route through the centuries and of course the Blackwater goes down to the sea, and it is probable that the 'Septaria' or London Clay would have been brought from Bradwell on Sea.