Close to Great Dunmow lies the pretty village of Great Easton. Its distinctive church caught my eye as I approached. Perched on top of a hill it can be seen from some distance. That hill is thought to be the remains of a motte and bailey castle, long since gone, and the reason Great Easton used to be known as ‘Easton ad montem’ or ‘Easton atte munte’ to distinguish it from its neighbour, Little Easton.
The church of St John and St Giles is Norman, though it was built on the site of a Saxon church using Roman bricks. A timber tower once stood where the current brick one does; it was struck by lightning and now the wood can be found in some of the houses in the village instead.
On the porch is an inscription which refers to a murder which took place in 1830. It reads:
- Near this spot lies a murdered man
- Whose remains were found in Handless Spring.
- Unfold the murderous deed if you can
- And the Wretch or Wretches to justice bring.
Many believe that the victim’s ghost haunts the village. It’s not the only one: allegedly the ghost of a headless monk wanders by the river at night. There was an archaeological dig in the 1940s which uncovered the stone tombs of two monks, but one of them was missing his head. The remains were reinterred but it would seem someone’s restless…