Sorry for the lack of posts over the past week – I’ve been away. I went to visit a friend of mine, James, who lives in Writtle, near Chelmsford in Essex. I’ve only been to essex a couple of times before: once two years ago to visit James after he’d first moved down (to Rayleigh then) from North Wales and once way back in 1984 when I spent a weekend with a friend from university. Oddly enough, he too lived in Writtle, so it was a bit of an odd coincidence when James moved to the self-same village last year. Very attractive place, by the way, with a handsome old church, a wide village green, numerous attractive cottages and a couple of decent pubs.
Because I was still full of a cold I’d had for about a week (I still haven’t quite shifted it yet!) we took it fairly easy. We visited a nature reserve where I was able to tick ‘Marsh Harrier’ off my bird list, which was rather exciting, and also one of the most wonderfully olde worlde villages in England, Coggeshall, which is simply crammed with medieval townhouses.
We also took a look at Cressing Temples. This is a former Knights Templar stronghold, latterly a farm and now managed by Essex County Council. The only remains of the Templars are a well and two enormous barns constructed with cathedral-like majesty in the 1200s. The site seems to have become quite popular with ghost-hunters of late (one investigator on YouTube refers to ‘picking up something nasty’ in one of the barns!) but there appears to be just one vague ghost story attached to the place, relating to a tragedy which took place in the medieval farmhouse since replaced with the present 17th century building (pictured above, with one of the barns to the right).
This is a good a time as any to mention ‘Paranormal Essex’, a collaboration between David Scanlan and Paul Robins and published by Amberley.
David and Paul take a ramble through this historic county, highlighting haunted locations which have taken their interest in recent years. It’s not intended to be an exhaustive guide to the ghosts of Essex (there are so many!), but certainly some of the most interesting and it’s been compiled in an A-Z format for easy reference. There are numerous photos illustrating the text and plenty of spookiness to get your teeth into.