Our Walk on 11th November 2018

Our Walk Downham W. Hanningfield S. Hanningfield Thank You ! Helpful Notes

Our Remembrance Day Walk 2018

On our walk this Remembrance Sunday we tried to capture some of the flavour of this annual national event, by seeing how it was reflected in three villages close to Wickford in Essex. We felt that this walk gave us, in a modest way, a rural counterpart to the state celebrations in London.

This year was very special, since it was exactly 100 years after the Armistice.

"As the sun goes down".
South Hanningfield's Church reflects the evening glow across the Hanningfield Reservoir.

Our walk was based on one which I had done leading groups or solo many times before in this part of the world. The "diversion" notwithstanding, I hope that you enjoyed this walk, that it was perhaps new to some of you and that it helped to dispel the notion that Essex is entirely flat. Of course, we also enjoyed the autumnal colours in the landscape, even though the wind had hastened the leaf fall.

At each church we stopped at the war memorial for a short reflection on the occasion. At West Hanningfield Church we were greeted by a splendid exhibition of the impact that the Great War had on many village communities. Well done, West Hanningfield! The church also regaled us with some welcoming tea, coffee and biscuits.

Our walk on this November 11th 2018 was intended to be 11 miles, reflecting the importance that "eleven" has on this occasion, but we probably put back more beneath our hiking boots. We enjoyed the exercise and the history! So may you enjoy what we have prepared for you here.

West Hanningfield
South Hanningfield
Thank You!
Some Additional Notes

If you would like to get to know this walk throughout the seasons and if you would like to know more about associated length and heights, you might wish to click on "Wickford Circular". Our CLOG Remembrance Day Walk last year (2017) may also be of interest.



The clock "struck eleven" just before we reached Downham Church, so we tarried for a few minutes in a field in order to pay our respects, before we continued. Downham Church is strategically situated on a promontory, and with Downham Hall just below, represents a local axis of mediaeval power - the spiritual power with the church and the temporal power with the local squire in the hall. The church is dedicated to the dragon slayer, Saint Margaret of Antioch. The red brick tower is believed to be from the 15th century. We stopped to look at the War Memorial and the celebratory decorations within the church. Of course, we also took the opportunity to admire the view stretching southwards as far as Kent. Autumn colours accompanied us as we then headed northwards to West Hanningfield, our next destination.

At the top of the rise from the farm we came to the War Memorial. On the road side are the names of those from the locality who did not return from WWI. On this side are listed those of the local community who fell in WWII; here we could see three members of the Keddie family who were connected with the large "Keddies" Department Store in Southend.

Downham Church has a crenelated red-brick Tudor tower. To the right - perhaps not so clearly shown here - is the open landscape stretching towards the North Downs in Kent.

To mark the special day, the window recesses in the church are adorned ...

... with bright red poppies.

It's time to leave on the next stage of our Remembrance Day walk

Autumn colours accompany us ...

... as we descend from Downham Church.

In Crowsheath Wood we stop a while to admire ...

... the intricate shadows cast by the Autumn sunlight.


West Hanningfield

We crossed some fields to reach a part of Saint Peter's Way. This long-distance path goes all the way from Ongar to Saint Peter's Church (reputedly England's oldest church) at Bradwell on the Essex Coast. In West Hanningfield we stopped off for a "picnic lunch" outside the "Three Compasses", which dates from the 15th century. In order to try and return to Wickford before nightfall, we deemed it advisable, this time, to forgo a pub visit - even for liquid refreshment - although the said hostelry is well worth visiting when days are longer.

Then we continued, via the Saint Peter's Way, to West Hanningfield Church. The supporters of this church did themselves proud. We enjoyed the special display they had so diligently put on. We learnt a lot about how the effects of the Great War impacted on all sectors of society, reaching even the rural communities. In the small parish of West Hanningfield sixteen residents did not return home from WWI. In WWII this number rose to fifty-five. As you can imagine, these losses in such a small parish were sorely felt.

We have our "food rations" on the green opposite the "Three Compasses".

Then we take part of Saint Peter's Way to reach West Hanningfield Church.

The time-honoured porch is decorated with poppies

As we enter, we see the myriad of poppies decorating the church within.

Behind the altar are sixteen poppies, one for every member of this close-knit community who did not return from the battlefields of WWI. The front of the altar is decorated to show
that from W.Hanningfield there were fifty five who did not return from WWII.

A profusion of poppies is spread across the white-washed north wall.

On the south wall we see a finely executed water-colour depicting poppies.

Country churches, as you all know, do not only serve a religious purpose. They can also be splendid repositories of local history. West Hanningfield is certainly no exception. Its church, dedicated to "Saint Mary and Saint Edward", has a rich 800-year history.

The bell tower is constructed from mediaeval timbers.

Whose face it is in these timbers is unknown. It may have been that of the lead craftsman building the bell tower eight centuries ago. We probably shall never know.

Churches all used to have the coat of arms of a reigning monarch. This coat of arms has recently been restored. It is the crest of George III - as in the "Madness of King George".

A splendid woven cloth is attached to the pulpit.

Before we leave, we take one last look at the celebratory displays in the church.

Then we gather at the church porch.

As we leave, we notice in the porch, this arrangement of
poppies - symbolizing remembrance - and wheat - symbolizing renewal.

We stop a while at the war memorial bearing the names of
those from the local community who gave their lives in WWI and WWII.


South Hanningfield

We reached South Hanningfield shortly before sundown and had the chance to appreciate the sun setting over Hanningfield Reservoir. We paid our respects at the War Memorial and then set off on the last stage of our walk. There were a few more miles to reach Wickford, but, being fit, we accomplished these without undue effort.

South Hanningfield Church is the last stop on our Remembrance Walk. Its windows reflect the sun's last rays of the day. The church has closed for the day and the door has been locked. However, it looks as if someone is still inside.

Here is the War Memorial amid the last autumn glow of the day.

"As the sun goes down".

Here are two "sunset" views of South Hanningfield Church,
to draw this Remembrance Day to its close.


Thank You !

Thank you to all who came and joined me on this walk. Thank you for your company. I hope you enjoyed the Essex landscape in this part of the county. I hope you enjoyed the exercise and the good "walking weather"! Above all, I hope you enjoyed the theme of our walk, a theme which, I am sure, makes us all pause for thought.

In addition, we would like to thank the "Friends of West Hanningfield Church" for the excellent display they put on to celebrate the centenary of the Armistice. We learnt a lot and also enjoyed the tea and cakes!