Roman and early Saxon evidence in Clavering is thin on the ground, but
there undoubtedly was settlement here in earlier times. On the Langley
side, the parish boundary is Beards Lane, a Roman road which went to
the Roman towns of Chesterford in one direction and Braughing the
village grew up on higher ground near the confluence of the River Stort
and the Kings Water stream and seems a natural place for settlement.
The village name is first found in the 11th century as Claefring and in
Domesday as Clauelinga, meaning ‘the place where the clover
grows’. A reference in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 1052 to
‘Robert’s Castle’ is thought to refer to
Castle, the large moated site still to be seen north of the parish
church, belonging to Robert fitz Wimarc who held the manor at that
time. If this is authentic, then Clavering possesses the earliest
castle site in eastern England.
Wimarc was kinsman to Edward the Confessor, and there is a legend that
Edward may have visited Clavering at the dedication of a chapel to St
John the Evangelist. This chapel became associated with one of the
Miracles of the Ring, and in 1251 Henry III visited Clavering and
ordered the miracle to be commemorated in the chapel.
Parish Church is dedicated to St. Mary & St Clement,
associated with Prittlewell Priory, founded by Robert fitzSweyn,
descendant of fitz Wimarc. The Bury was built in 1304 to replace
Clavering Castle as manorial centre and is today one of the best
surviving medieval aisled halls in the country.
present medieval church was built on the site of an earlier one and
contains features that date from the earlier church. The
was completely rebuilt from the late 14th century throughout much of
the 15th century. There are some wonderful things in this church, like
the beautifully-carved Elizabethan pulpit, original 15th century
screen, benches and stained glass. The ancient brasses and
Baroque Barlee memorials are notable of their type. On the south wall
is a board describing the famous ‘herring’ charity,
the poor received barrels of herrings during Lent.
village seems to have included a number of quite prosperous landowners
in Tudor and Stuart times, judging by the number of wills in the ERO,
but like most villages round here increasing poverty afflicted the
ordinary population too. By the 18th-19th century it was one of the
poorest villages, as evidenced by the struggles of pioneering school
masters and vicars trying to raise money for church repairs.
the 1930s the population had reduced considerably but the village was
much more intimate – still today there are native villagers
remember with affection the old farming village much as it had been for
revolution in agriculture, universal car ownership and the incoming of
commuting residents have changed the village culture irrevocably, but
remarkably its medieval fabric still survives in a large number of
timber-framed buildings and the preservation of the oldest parts at
Church End and Middle Street. Clavering is a large, scattered parish
with seven ‘greens’ and three
Green, Stickling Green, Starlings Green, Roast Green, Sheepcote Green,
Birds Green, Deers Green, Mill End, Ford End, Further Ford End) as well
as extensions in Arkesden Road (formerly Clatterbury Lane), Wicken
Road, Pelham Road, the High Street and the Langley upper and lower
roads. This big, beautiful parish is lovelier today than ever thanks to
the legacy of its past and the continuing care of those who live there
now. There is much more to discover about its early history and the
Clavering Landscape History Group is currently investigating the castle
environs. The late Eileen Ludgate was the village historian and wrote
some excellent books which are still in print.
information: Clavering & Langley the first 1000 Years by Eileen
Ludgate (£5.50); Clavering & Langley: 1783-1983 by
Ludgate (price £5.50); History Walks in Clavering: a journey
time through an Essex village by Jacqueline Cooper (£7.50)
– prices include postage.
Cooper - Clavering Local History Recorder