Description & Map
Title: Good Easter
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St Andrews, Good Easter (Photosphere: Double tap/click for full screen)
Good Easter is right in the heart of Essex, yet blissfully remote. Nothing significant has ever happened here, and as a result the area is rich with echoes of the past. Pre-historic trade routes, Norman barns, and 18th century cottages all add interest to the area. The surrounding countryside is well walked, with the Essex Way running through the village and along parts of this route. In contrast, the local lanes are tiny and seem to see more cyclists than cars, perhaps because the road network is pretty much unchanged since medieval times. There are extensive views from St Andrew's Church, and the village itself has some interesting old buildings, but the main attraction of this route is the landscape itself - the open yet wooded aspect and ancient, quiet charm. Parking can be tricky: there are a couple of spaces off road in Mill Road, otherwise you will have to find a place at the roadside.
A. Parking is on a small lay-by off Mill Road. The tiny parking area is only big enough for a single vehicle. From here (P) walk south down Mill Road to the crossroads and turn left.
B. Head south east along Souther Cross, passing the village pond and Top Barn, and enter St Andrew's churchyard. There are two footpaths leaving the churchyard to the south. Take the one on the left,(1) over a wooden footbridge and along the Essex Way. Walk towards the inverted corner of the facing hedge (2).
C. Continue down the hill with the hedge on your left. At the bottom of the hill, turn right and walk around the edge of the field towards the west (3).
D. At the facing hedge there is a 4-way footpath sign (4). Go straight ahead along an enclosed path for 60 yards.
E. As you emerge from the trees, turn left then follow the hedge line until you reach Fountain Road (5).
F. Cross the road and continue ahead with a hedge on your right to a scrubby wooded area where several field entrances conjoin. Fork left to cross the River Can via a grassy bridge, heading towards the corner of a hedge about 100 yards ahead (6)
G. Walk around the field with this hedge on your right (7).
H. Turn right along a track to a single-track lane (8). The road, which has existed since pre-historic times, is called Tituswell Lane. There are rumours that fairies still live in the water meadows beside the ford.
I. Turn right down Tituswell Lane to the ford. Cross the river using the footbridge and turn left with the River Can on your left and a fence on your right. 20 yards later, climb over the stile (9).
J. Turn left, treading carefully in case of fairies. Walk around the field edge for about 250 yards, until you reach the facing hedge. Go through a hedge gap beside the river, then turn right to walk away from the river with a hedge on your right (10).
K. At the unnamed lane, turn right (east) (11) and walk 150 yards up the hill to a T-junction. Turn right in front of Amadyes. 100 yards later, turn left into a field. Go straight across the field heading east, to the footbridge. You might see deer here in the evenings! (12).
L. Cross the footbridge and continue east across the fields, passing through a large gap in the facing hedge. Aim towards the oak tree ahead of you (13).
M. Pass to the right of the tree and continue, with a hedge on your left, to the facing hedge. Turn right to re-join the Essex Way heading south (SES) (14). Follow the track round to the right behind some houses, then turn left to emerge back into the parking bay on Mill Road.
A settlement has existed at Good Easter since at least Roman times. In medieval times the village was known as Gods Estre (or Gods Estate) because the majority of the land in the area belonged to the Church and so to God. The village church of St Andrew's was prebendal, meaning the clergy were granted the means to earn an income, independent of the presiding bishop. Four prebendary farms existed in Good Easter (Paslowes, Imbers, Fawkeners and Bowers), supporting four clergymen. These were life time appointments, with the land remaining in the ownership of the church. Such appointments were much sought after, particularly for the younger sons of noble families. However these posts were scrapped by Henry VIII as part of his drive to clean up the Church (and get his hands on its resources), and in 1492 he transferred the property of Good Easter to Westminster Abbey. By 1620 the land was privately owned. Of the four prebendary farms, Fawkeners (now Falconers Hall) and Imbers (Imbirds) still exist. Bowers has disappeared, and Paslowes is now just a nettle covered mound and a ditch (probably the remains of a moat), just to the right of the 4-way footpath sign. It's a Scheduled Monument.
More recently, Good Easter earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for making the world's longest daisy chain. It measured 1.32 miles and was made in 7 hours by villagers of Good Easter in May 1985.
This barn has been here for centuries. It consists of weatherboard clad walls surrounding a central aisled hall. There are 6 main posts inside, each with oak capitals carved in a chequered pattern. The style of carving indicates it was probably done in Norman times, almost 1000 years ago. The posts retain their timber sole pads, below the current floor level. Some of the posts have been trenched to allow for bracing. The current complex of buildings forms an L-shape, with the timber frame of the west wing being added in the late 15th or early 16th century. The magnificent east facing midstrey (or gable) with its great doors was probably added at the same time. Looking at the building, I marvel. The simple yet strong design with its steeply pitched roof has withstood everything the weather can throw at it for many hundreds of years. It's amazing to come across something so beautiful and enduring and still in use.
A local history of Good Easter was entitled: "Seven Miles from Everywhere on the Way to Nowhere". The road network certainly reflects this feeling: with wide verges, deep ditches and some strong hedgerows, these tiny, twisty, turny lanes double back on themselves for no apparent reason and as a result, are much beloved by cyclists. Apart from the tarmac, they are pretty much unchanged since medieval times. In particular, Tituswell Lane originated as a pre-historic track through the woods, and was used throughout Saxon and medieval times, right through to the present day. The lane has been designated a Protected Lane by Essex County Council.