Both Hatfield Peverel and Ulting are mentioned in the Domesday Book and both also have interesting churches. Our walk this month included both these villages and the churches, but regrettably neither church was open. From The Wheatsheaf pub at Hatfield Peverel we made our way south passing allotments and keeping mostly to footpaths crossing fields. Emerging at Nounsley we saw the once popular Sportsman’s Arms pub now in decay but we were quickly past this. A short way on we came to the River Ter, which vehicles have to ford but where, fortunately for us as the river was flowing, there is a raised footpath so we could cross without getting our feet wet. Across arable land we followed this river for almost a kilometre reaching Bumfords Lane that in turn led to another road and then to Ulting Wick.
Under the village sign a plaque reminds us of the village’s entry in the Domesday Book and another, which honours Humphrey Spender who lived here for many years. Amongst the many other things Spender achieved in his life he took a great part in the designing of the Maldon Millennium Tapestry with his many sketches and choice of materials and colours.
Apparently Ulting was the location of the first sugar beet factory in England. Having made good progress we had time to detour and visit the delightful 12th-century church (restored in the 1870’s) standing in its waterside setting beside the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation.
Leaving the road the footpath led across several fields of beans, similar to broad beans, but these were dried and bursting from their pods. The short, sharp stalks scratched our legs and tall thistles and stinging nettles attacked us from the other side. The last fields we crossed were a complete contrast. Here the grass was short, and there was plenty of space to walk between the fences and the fruit laden blackberry bushes – delicious! There were lakes too, and rabbits lived happily and ran to and fro’ but we had to beware of their many holes. There were sheep – big sheep, shorn and in colours of grey, white, black and some almost slate blue.
Our last point of interest was the church at Hatfield Peverel, the parish church of St Andrew’s, which (according to Wikipedia) is the former conventual church of Hatfield Priory, a Benedictine priory founded as a secular college before 1087. It is said that the priory was founded by the Saxon Ingelrica, wife of Ranulph Peverel and reputed to be the mistress of William the Conqueror, to atone for her sins. The church is the surviving fragment of the Norman priory church nave.
The Wheatsheaf looked after us well and we all enjoyed our ample and well-prepared lunches; we shall return here for both the interesting walk and the excellent food.
Next walk – Tuesday 26th September 10.00 at The Cricketers, Bradwell-on-Sea (to be confirmed). Sue Bridgman will be leading the walk; if you need to contact her she can be telephoned on 772593 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.