What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
=How to get there.=–Train from Liverpool Street or Fenchurch Street. Great Eastern Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Chigwell. =Distance from London.=–12-3/4 miles. =Average Time.=–55 minutes. Quickest train, 31 minutes.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 1s. 10d. 1s. 4d. 0s. 11d. Return 2s. 6d. 1s. 10d. 1s. 4d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"The King’s Head.”
In 1844 Charles Dickens wrote to Forster: “Chigwell, my dear fellow, is the greatest place in the world. Name your day for going. Such a delicious old inn facing the church–such a lovely ride–such forest scenery–such an out-of-the-way rural place–such a sexton! I say again, Name your day.” This is surely sufficient recommendation for any place; and when one knows that the “delicious old inn” is still standing, and that the village is as rural and as pretty as when Dickens wrote over sixty years ago, one cannot fail to have a keen desire to see the place. “The King’s Head” illustrated here is the inn Dickens had in his mind when describing the “Maypole” in Barnaby Rudge, and the whole of the plot of that work is so wrapped up in Chigwell and its immediate surroundings that one should not visit the village until one has read the story. One may see the panelled “great room” upstairs where Mr. Chester met Mr. Geoffrey Haredale. This room has a fine mantelpiece, great carved beams, and beautiful leaded windows. On the ground floor is the cosy bar where the village cronies gathered with Mr. Willett, and one may also see the low room with the small-paned windows against which John Willett flattened his nose looking out on the road on the dark night when the story opens.
Chigwell School, built in 1629, and founded by Archbishop Harsnett, still remains, although there have been several modern additions. Here William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was educated. (See Index for Jordans and Penn’s Chapel at Thakeham.)
Chigwell Church, facing “The King’s Head,” has a dark avenue of yews leading from the road to the porch. A brass to the memory of Archbishop Harsnett may be seen on the floor of the chancel. The epitaph in Latin was ordered to be so written in the will of the archbishop. Translated, the first portion may be read: “Here lieth Samuel Harsnett, formerly vicar of this church. First the unworthy Bishop of Chichester, then the more unworthy Bishop of Norwich, at last the very unworthy Archbishop of York.”
[Illustration: THE KING’S HEAD INN AT CHIGWELL.
The “Maypole” of Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge.]