University of Oxford
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Greensted Church, Chipping Ongar, Essex

Version 2 2022-12-14, 12:39
Version 1 2022-12-09, 17:13
educational resource
posted on 2022-12-14, 12:39 authored by Woruldhord Project Team

Greensted Church preserves a wooden Anglo-Saxon church, and it is the oldest wooden church in Europe and is believed to be the oldest wooden building in world. What is now the nave of the church, built of oak timbers in a palisade style, was the early Anglo-Saxon church. Dendrochonology dates of the timbers suggest it could be as early as the mid ninth-century (c. 845 A.D.), though a recent revision of the dating suggests it may date to the mid eleventh-century. There is some evidence in the chancel that there was reworking on the site in the Norman period. The brick chancel was added during the Tudor period in the reign of Henry VII. The panelled wooden bell tower was added to the church during in the Stuart period, probably in the early seventeenth-century. The roof of the church and the windows are Victorian. Also during the Victorian period, the timbers of the nave were raised and placed on a brick foundation to keep the timbers from decaying. Greensted Church also preserves a number of interesting early architectural features. The timbers of the nave are oak timbers which have been split and smoothed on the inside. The tool marks used in the construction are still visible in the interior of the church. A small fashioned hole on the north side of the nave was once believed to be a leper's squint, which is where lepers could be administered communion since they were not allowed into the service, but current thought suggests it is a holy water stoup. In 1013, during a period of Danish rule, the body of St Edmund was taken to Greensted Church where it remained for a night enroute to Bury-St-Edmund. The St Edmund beam in Greensted church commemorates this event.


Date Created



mid ninth-century to mid eleventh-century, with later additions up to the Victorian period

Temporal Coverage



Kelly A. Kilpatrick


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