Sunday, April 5, 2009

Notes; St.Andrews Church, Boreham, Essex

"Archaeology has revealed traces of Bronze Age, Iron Age and much Roman occupation of Boreham. The earliest written information about Boreham is in the Domesday Book which mentions Danish inhabitants and also shows that Boreham was a multi-manored parish. The largest manor (consisting of 8 hides and 23 acres) was held by fourteen freemen and probably included the church. The next in size was then known as Walkfares, and is now New Hall. It had been given by Earl Harold to the Canons of Waltham Abbey in 1062. New Hall was owned by Henry VIII from 1517 to 1547 and later in its life it became the convent and school as we know it today."

Another Essex church visited yesterday, it is given a date of 1066 to 16th century on the SMR. Traces of a Saxon arch can still be seen above the newer Norman arch, again one of those rather rich Essex churches with a wooden covered walkway up to the church. Roman tiles were used in the rebuilding of this church, again coursed with the black pudding stone, but flint is the predominate feature. An elegant large church somewhat marred for me by the three stone tomb effigies in a small side chapel.
Three knights lay in regal splendour, their noses and hands chopped off by the Puritans, but what is rather macabre is the six grotesque fanciful creatures that lie at their heads and feet. No small family dogs these, instead an amalgam of the fantastic with pig faces, plump bodies, chains and cloven hooves. The three at the heads of the knights have also had their heads neatly sliced off, again presumably by the Cromwell brigade.
The graveyard was a pretty mix of trees, and primroses and violets covered the grass. Red deadnettle was also prolific, the day was glorious, the blossom of the blackthorn everywhere, and the planted cherries trees are in full bloom.
One thing you notice in Essex, is the wealth of the old timber cottages and houses, they have become overrun to a certain degree by modern implanting, but even round the church you can trace the old village with its small crop of cottages running along the 'back' lane, and a storied timber Elizabethan house in front.
What is interesting about some of these churches is the reuse of old Roman tiles. Given that the Romans left the country in the late 5th century, these tiles must have been used several centuries later within the building of the Saxon churches, that they survived so long is a bit of a miracle, but one wonders how they were used in Saxon times as well. Given the tetrapylon mentioned earlier that was found in Caerleon fort still standing to the 13th century, it does give some idea of how ruined roman buildings were still around, a great source of building material, in fact very similar to the later 'quarrying' of the abbeys for stone to rebuild the 'fancy' houses of the new landed gentry of Henry V111's pillaging and destruction of the monastc order.

Later blog October 2014


  1. Cromwell and his Puritans were responsible for appalling acts of vandalism - not my favourite bunch of people. The church is interesting, I've never seen a covered walkway like that before.

  2. Its quite funny how you come across the Civil War in all kinds of places; the Lansdown battle was one I wrote about earlier on, the opposing leaders were friends in that case, the feud between the royalists and the roundheads was very personal to many families, brother against brother as well.