We are very grateful to Pam & John Rollason of Keers Green for
permission to reproduce the following article written by her in 2008.
THE HISTORIC RODINGS, EASTERS,
are eight Rodings villages, the
largest group in the country to
bear a common name. They originate from the
Saxon invasion of the
sixth century when one Hrotha and his tribe, the Hrodingas, sailed up
along its tributary river seeking a new
home. They settled
on the highly fertile
soil of the area, creating settlements to the east and west of the
river. Both river
and villages derive their names
By the time of the Norman Conquest, in
1066, a large part of the area
passed into the hands of William the Conqueror, the de Veres and the de
Mandevilles who became the Earls of Oxford and Essex.Friars Grange, in
Aythorpe Roding, was gifted
to the monks of Tilty and acquired by one of Henry VIII’s
goldsmiths, after the Dissolution.Mary
Boleyn, the sister of Anne, held a manor in High Roding, later given to
Thomas Cranmer whose parish church was one of the first to possess the
boundaries and names of the
villages were more or less established
by the fourteenth century:
Abbess, Aythorpe, Beauchamp,
Berners, High, Leaden, Margaret, and White Roding.
writer, Daniel Defoe, described the Rodings villages as ‘famous
for Good Land, Good Malt, and Dirty Roads’.
For centuries they remained
there are no buildings of great importance in the area. It is, however,
rich in timber-framed manor houses, farm
houses, and thatched cottages dating from Medieval times, and retains
some comfortable old public houses which offer excellent food and ale
– ‘The Axe and Compasses’, Aythorpe
stage coaches used to stop en route
to London) ‘The Black Horse’, White Roding, and
'The Black Lion’, High Roding.
Once an area abounding in
windmills, there is only one left intact with its sails turning
the mid-eighteenth century postmill at Aythorpe Roding, the largest in
Essex, open to the public on the first Sunday of the month from April
Many of the churches date from Norman
times. The oldest of them, the church of St Margaret of Antioch, in
Margaret Roding, has an impressive Norman doorway.
The grave of a Crusader in the churchyard is perhaps one of
the many who brought back news of St Margaret from the East.
by lie the villages of Good Easter and High Easter. 'Estre’
'Estra' may indicate that they were outlying settlements of the Rodings
were grazed. Good
Easter was originally called Godichestre, and thought to have
connexions with Lady Godiva. Along with the Canfields, they have much
in common with the Rodings in terms of church foundations, and their
many Listed houses.
The Rodings retain some comfortable old public houses which offer
excellent food and ale. The Axe and Compasses at Aythorpe Roding was
built in 1707 on a piece of roadside waste which belonged to Aythorpe
Roding Hall, and acquired by Henry Bacon, carpenter. Hence its name and
the reason for its isolated situation. The present restaurant was once
the brewhouse and a bake house, added later. The hook for hauling up
the boiling water is still in place near the fireplace. In the 19th
century, stagecoaches used to stop at 'The Axe' en route from Dunmow to
London. There was once a large cottage attached to the right-hand side
of the pub but was demolished after it became derelict. In the last
century the pub was held for many years by the Rolph family. A|After
passing through the hands of several publicans, it fell into disrepair
and was bought and refurbished by its present owner, David Hunt, n
Punch Bowl’, High Easter, an inn until the last century, is
now a top class restaurant, far removed from its
lowly origins in the eighteenth century when it
hosted poorhouse wedding celebrations.
last of our group of ten parishes is Great Canfield ( the Saxon
where the de Veres built a wooden castle on an artificial mound
surrounded by a deep moat.The
Church is essentially Norman and behind the
remarkable chancel arch is a wall
painting of the Virgin and Child, regarded as one of the best
thirteenth century representations
in the entire country. Following the Reformation, it was
covered over to protect it from puritan destruction and rediscovered
only at the end
of the nineteenth century when the church was renovated.
following information is taken from
the classic work, Arthur Mee’s Essex in
The Kings England Series.
a quiet lane near a farm, the church is 13th century and was once
attached to the manor. It has lancet windows. Four centuries ago the
bell turret was put up in the nave on strong posts in order to ring
when Henry 8th
came to the throne. In the churchyard is the grave of a long-serving
Ludgater who was rector for 53 years.
gabled and thatched houses in the street and a great pond between
churchyard and old farmhouse. Church 700 years old, very old ironwork
old as stones of church. Small doorways but massive medieval font with
carved panelling, very old pulpit, but most of the glass has gone, just
little tracery light left in window near pulpit.
the churches on the River Roding are fascinating, the best is here,
dedicated to St Margaret, with its medieval belfry. Small nave, but
some of best
Norman work in Essex, panels round tiny widows and doorways.
corbels by medieval masons 14th century, also panelled font and arch
Also 700 year old ironwork on door, and nice church chest.
church on a hill, with parts of every century within. Walls have Roman
bricks at corners of nave. 11th century arches and tiny windows. 12th
carved font, consecration crosses on altar stone. 13th century ironwork
south door. 14th century 2 carved figures in sanctuary. 15th century
stained roundel glass. 16th century tower with battlements. 17th
and new bells. 18th century chest and altar table. 19th century vestry