GREAT CANFIELD: a brief guide
Great Canfield is watered by the River Roding – the village runs from Stane Street and includes the hamlets of Hope End Green, Canfield Hart, Bacon End and Green Street. Canfield Castle is an impressive earthwork near the church and is known as The Mount. This is all that remains of a castle put by the de Veres, Earls of Oxford. The motte and bailey plan is probably Norman but not documented until 1214. The outer court covers seven acres and is surrounded by a wide moat filled from the river. The mount and church, with the River Roding, form a lovely setting.
The church is a fine example of Norman work with the addition of a porch and 17th century belfry. It has richly carved doorways with tympana, chancel arch, and an unusual arched recessed between two east windows of the chancel. But the glory of the church is a very rare wall painting of the Madonna and Child, painted over 500 years ago – Pevsner describes this as ‘one of the best 13th century representations of the subject iin the whole country, full of tenderness, drawn in red, with some yellow’, dated around 1250. Up until 1888 it lay hidden behind a 16th century monument and was revealed when that was moved to another part of the church.
Pevsner also describes some fine timber-framed houses in the parish, notably The Hall, The Maltings and Peckers in the main village, an aisled hall of circa 1300, Foxleys at Bacon End, Champneys and Salkyns at Green Street.