Saturday, November 12, 2011

St. Andrew's Church, Greensted

St. Andrew's Church, Greensted, is the oldest wooden Church in the World and the oldest 'Stave Built' timber building in Europe. It is the only church to have survived from Saxon times.  The church represents some 1300 years of English history and Christian worship. 

The 51 timber planks located at the church date from about 1060, however excavations undertaken in the 1960s revealed the existence of two earlier timber structures dating from the 6th and 7th centuries, around the time that St. Cedd began his work of converting the Saxons to Christianity. 

Like most parish churches Greensted has been altered several times to suit changing needs and fashions, during the Saxon, Norman, Tudor and Victorian eras.

The body of Saint Edmund, King of East Anglia, and England's first patron Saint martyred on November 20th,  869 AD. He became the first patron saint of England but later the Normans replaced him with St. George. At his martyrdom he refused to give up his Christian beliefs, so he was scourged, chained to a tree, shot with arrows and finally beheaded, as depicted in the picture.

His body was enshrined at Bury St. Edmunds where it attracted many pilgrims. Later it was removed to London for safe keeping, however it returned to Bury in 1031. On its way it was rested at St. Andrew's, Greensted. An attractive legend depicted on one of the beams in the church relates to St. Edmund's martyrdom. His head was thrown into a thicket in the forest some distance from the body. When his followers found his head it was guarded by a wolf who would not leave it until it was placed with the body. 

The oldest grave, lying right next to the church's entrance, is that of a twelfth century Crusader, thought to be a bowman. 
I would like to thank Fr. Andrei Petrine, the parish priest of this church, together with another 3 within his community, including St. Margaret's Church, who showed me around this beautiful and historic building.

1 comment:

  1. The ecclesiastical history of England is certainly very interesting and I'd like to thank you for marking it out!