Thu 31 Jan 2019

The history of Ongar, Essex

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A fascinating market town in the Essex countryside

There is more to the town of Chipping Ongar that initially meets the eye. A dip into the history books provides an intriguing look at its past.

Walk through the centre of many of today’s towns and you could be forgiven for forgetting exactly where you are. The pedestrianised high streets line with chain retailers and coffee shops can all start to look the same. In this respect, Chipping Ongar is a breath of fresh air. This is a town with a high street steeped in history, and featuring unique architecture and plenty of local stores dotted amongst the more familiar shops, banks and coffee shops.

With its backdrop of peaceful countryside and the remains of the 800 year old castle standing sentinel over the town, Chipping Ongar is unique and unmistakable. It also has an intriguing history.

The castle

There has been a significant settlement in what is now Chipping Ongar since Saxon times, and the fortress that was established in around 800AD was significantly enhanced and enlarged after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The castle was built in the early 12th century, probably by Eustace II, a companion of William the Conqueror.

Eustace died in 1087 aged just 38, after which the castle passed into the possession of Richard de Lucy, the first High Sherriff of Essex. He welcomed King Henry II as a guest there in 1157.

In later years, Ongar Castle’s main purpose was to deter uprisings, and local records suggest that, like many similar castles in the era, it was used at times as a prison. However, its importance was on the wane and it gradually fell into disrepair until being abandoned at some point in the 1600s. Today, the walls and tower are long gone, but the earthworks are still clearly visible.

Conservation area

The rich history that permeates through the town and its wealth of listed buildings led to it being designated as one of Essex County Council’s first Conservation Areas. As you explore the High Street, there are reminders of days gone by on every side, from Budworth Hall, a tall and ornate building from the Victorian era, to the rows of timber-framed cottages that date from the 17th century, with their shopfronts that were added in the 1800s.

Also, be on the lookout for Wren House. This pretty, timber-framed building stands at the widest part of the High Street and looks like something straight out of a fairytale.

A famous resident

Take a stroll down Stanley Place and you will see the United Reformed Church on your left. The small room above the archway was home to David Livingstone, one of the most famous explorers in history, while he was training for missionary work in the 1830s.

A rich history and an eye to the future

Ongar is justifiably proud of its rich history, but that does not mean it is stuck in the past. Its wealth of local facilities, range of both historic and contemporary homes and great transport links combine to make it the perfect place to find that work/life balance that we all seek in the 21st century.

Property in Ongar has never been in greater demand, so if you are considering selling your Ongar home, do get in touch. At Balgores Property Group, we have many branches across Essex and Kent and can help you to get your property sold for the best possible price. To find out more, please get in touch with us at one of our offices.

Additionally, you can see how much your home could be worth on the current market by requesting a free and instant online valuation.

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