In theory we are not far from home at Thaxted – maybe two hours drive. However the plan for today is to visit Greensted Church near Ongar which is about 20 miles in the wrong direction so it will be a rather roundabout route home today.

What we are looking for is the gravestone for Eileen’s great, great grandfather’s brother. Eileen is getting really involved in digging out these relatives from the dim and distant past and she is certainly turning up some surprising coincidences as well as hints of a much wealthier period in the family’s history! The co-incidence here is that I knew this church when I was a child and was sent home from Turkey where my parents then lived to stay with family friends at High Ongar which is close by. Greensted Church is really interesting as it is the oldest wooden church in the world and the oldest wooden building standing in Europe. That is quite a claim and on close inspection you find that relatively little of the early Saxon church remains – a bit of a “grandfather’s axe”. Almost as interesting is the gravestone we were looking for. James Webster’s gravestone comemmerates seven other people who died over the following 40 years- so many that they have continued the inscriptions on the back of the gravestone I have no idea whether all eight of them are in this modest looking grave but the holly tree growing out of the grave does look very well fed!

James Websters crowded gravestone - there are three more people listed on the back!
James Websters crowded gravestone – there are three more people listed on the back!
Greensted Church, near Ongar, is the oldest wooden church in the world
Greensted Church, near Ongar, is the oldest wooden church in the world

From Greensted we finally turn for home after a short detour to look at another graveyard at Highwood near Writtle. This one was rather overgrown and there were few readable stones for the period of interest.

We parked for lunch  beside the river just under The Orwell Bridge which carries the A14 over the River Orwell just east of Ipswich. There is a little road that runs very close to the river very close to the bridge and the laybys there are a great place to watch the ships and yachts on the river. Opened in 1982 the Orwell Bridge was the longest pre-stressed concrete span in use and something of a local landmark although few of the 60,000 vehicles that rumble over it ever day pay it much heed. It is a remarkable structure when viewed from below especially at high tide when the river is full. Ipswich, just upstream, is still a working port and Felixstowe, a few miles downstream, is the UK’s busiest container port. From the top of the bridge you can clearly see the massive cranes that load and unload the containers at Felixstowe. There is a little road that runs very close to the river very close to the bridge and the laybys there are a great place to watch the ships and yachts on the river.

After lunch here we reluctantly make for home just over an hour’s drive away.

 

Mileage reading tonight: 121527 kms
Mileage reading at home: 119740 kms
Mileage today:  198 kms
Mileage total: 1787 kms

 

Greensted Church and Home
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