Sunday, 30 June 2013

Smoke, steam and the oldest wooden church in the world

A weekend of live steam interspersed with a visit to a Saxon church.

As part of the 150th anniversary of London Underground, heritage rolling stock ran on the Epping Ongar Railway this weekend.  Yesterday we did a walk in the countryside around Ongar, taking in 3 places which intersected with the railway.  Armed with our timetable, we waited and watched until we heard a whistle and then with much puffing and panting and a flourish of smoke and steam, Metropolitan Locomotive No 1 came into view.  After taking photos and waving at the train - yes I always wave at steam trains - we moved onto the next crossing.

In our walk also took in Greensted Church, the oldest wooden church in the world.  Its wooden timbers date from the 11th century, but excavations have revealed two earlier timber churches dating from the 6th and 7th century.  The church has a lepers squint and there is a grave of a 12th century crusader by the entrance.  Well worth a visit.

We decided to splash out and get tickets for the trains on Sunday.  We got the tube to Epping and were picked up by a heritage London bus - an ancient green routemaster - which took us to North Weald, a restored period underground station.  We travelled up and down the line several times in restored wooden carriages including one journey in the first class - the beautifully restored Jubilee coach 353 (built in 1892) - revelling in the steam, smoke and cinders.

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