Sunday, 15 April 2007

The Oldest Wooden Church in the World

This is especially for Becky who expressed an interest in English history. I promised to take some photos of this little church and here they are. Greensted church in Essex (20 minutes drive from my home) is the oldest wooden church in the world. Have visited many times, as this is a place we always take our guests to, and particularly American guests. Usually when I visit here during a weekday it is deserted but this time I just could not believe it, there was a coach parked outside and the church and surrounding area was densly populated with a party of very elderly senior citizens. I waited a while to try and get some pictures but could not get them completely deserted, nor could I take any inside as it was full.


This area was once a part of 2 great forests, Hainault and Epping. Both these forests still exist but now on a much smaller scale. The Saxon settlers worshipped their pagan gods in "groves" in the forest and at first the East Saxons resisted attempts to convert them to Christianity by Augustine and Mellitus from Rome. Finally St. Cedd, a Saxon trained at the Celtic monastery on Lindisfarne, was successful. St. Cedd began his work in about 654 A.D. and the first church was built at Greensted soon after. The original building was built from tree trunks from the forest. The nave was added in 845 A.D. .
This is the back of the church. In the 9th century Danish invasions became a serious threat. Raids produced a host of Saxon martyrs, of whom King Edmund of East Anglia is especially remembered here. In the Norman times of William the Conqueror more additions were made to the church. Next came the Crusaders. Henry VII's reign saw the beginning of many changes. In Victorian times there was a lot of restoration done to what had become a neglected church. Greensted's charming setting and close proximity to London brought increasing visitors and the last major repairs were carried out in 1969.

Obviously there is so much more I could recount but just wanted to give a brief sketch.


This is thought to have been a hole where lepers could sit outside and listen

13 comments:

Tracy said...

Oh how wonderful, Barbara. If you get a chance, since it is near your home, I would love to see photos of the inside as well. Such rich history you have there!

Becky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky said...

Oh, my goodness. Just for me?? This was such a thrill! Thank you so much. I can't even imagine 845 AD. That is incredible! And it is so beautiful. I love the steeple. I wonder, do y'all have termites in England? I can't fathom a wooden building that old that would not fall down from their feasting.

Thank you so much Barbara, I am so tickled with this! I will come back to this and look at it again this week and take it in even more.

Karen said...

I love pictures of old churches. We like to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway in our mountains, and take pictures of the little old white churches.
Thank you for the history.

Stephanie said...

Wow, and I thought it was cool to visit the oldest Catholic Church in Maine! Thanks for sharing!
Stephanie
www.mesocrafty.wordpress.com

Becky said...

Back again. I was mistaken the first time around. 845 is when the nave was added. And renovations in 1969. I would take my friends to see that church too. What a treasure. Thanks again, Barbara. You are so sweet.

Betty said...

My name isn't Becky but thank you for the pictures and the history of the church. I'm glad lepers were able to hear the sermons......

la bellina mammina said...

It's very beautiful - even though old. That's what's missing here in Singapore, beautiful old buildings with characters.

Jeanne said...

I love your photographs and history of this post especially.
I love churches.......all around the world.
Blessings!

Penless Thoughts said...

Thanks for posting this and the pictures. That part of the lepers is so touching. I can't even imagine that. I, too, would love to see the inside shots. As my husband and I travel around the U.S. & Canada one of the things we always try and visit are the old churches. I grew up in Santa Fe, NM and there are some old Catholic churches there. (Old for the U.S. at least :o))

A. Steinberg said...

Hello,
I was looking up Greensted on the internet for a newspaper article, and found your blog entry about it.
I was privileged to travel to England with 5 students and one other teacher from my parochial school in 2005. Singing at Greensted was a highlight of the trip! Lucky you to live so close!

God bless you,
A. Steinberg

Edwin Moore said...

Wonderful piece many thanks

edx

cyclopseven said...

Quite old, this post maybe, and older still the wooden church, but the aura of curiosity and wonders still strongly roam the atmosphere. i like this post very much.