A Door into History

A Door into History

When we visited Saffron Walden in the north-west corner of Essex we also called in to a few ‘extra’ villages one of which was Hadstock. This is just a few miles north of Saffron Walden and very near the Cambridgeshire border. Hadstock is a picturesque little village although would not be considered as extra special.

Hadstock Village

Well – nothing extra special except for St. Botolph’s Church.

Hadstock Church

It does look, at first glance, like a fairly ordinary village chuch. Most of what you see was built by the Normans but it appears that they incorporated some parts of the previous church which was Saxon and dates from about 1020.

Church Door

This is the entrance door as seen from inside the church porch and both the stone archway and the door are Saxon. That makes this door the oldest door (around 1000 years old) still in use in Great Britain and has been there since it was first hung on its hinges by the Saxon builders.

Carving on Capital

On the picture above there is some interesting Saxon carved decoration on the doorway column’s Capital and just below it.

Inside there is further evidence of the Saxon church as seen in the next picture.

Column base

This is a cruciform church and these stone bases were probably intended to support a central tower which was never built and now helps to support part of the Norman structure.

It is suggested that this is King Canute’s ‘Mynster’ church which he had built in 1020 to commemorate victory over Edmond Ironside at Assandun.

An amazing piece of history for such a small village.

One thought on “A Door into History

  1. There is no Norman structure at this church.
    Detailed archaeological work and a full architectural survey done in the 1970s by Warwick Rodwell found the nave and transepts were Saxon with later features such as windows and later buttresses added. There is a particularly fine 13th century door inserted into the south nave wall best seen from outside. The Saxon nave may be part of the building from 1020 but was partially rebuilt with the upper windows added. One of these windows still retains its original Saxon wooden frame. The nave is also not rectangular but more of a trapezoidal shape as its western wall is misaligned, which when the west tower was added in the 14th century is very clearly seen on the plan. William Butterfield rebuilt the medieval chancel in the 1800s. There was actually a central tower which collapsed and left the church as seen today with the awkward crossing space and 14th century arches replacing the damaged Saxon ones. The decision to not continue to rebuild the crossing tower and to later add a west tower instead may have come from concerns about stability on the sloping site the church was built on.
    Down the slope to the north is a spring used as a holy well in medieval times and Hadstock attracted a fayre too.
    In the graveyard is the gravestone to Micheal Ayrton, an artist who also had a fascination with mazes and labyrinths and his headstone has a miniature maze on it.

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