Purleigh From a different point of view

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A circular walk along some of the parish’s footpaths

Total Distance: 3 Miles / 5 Km

Time Needed: About 1½ hours

Parking: In the playing field car park

Refreshments en route: The Bell Public House

Seating: Rigbys Path and the Playing Field

A map of the route is provided on the centre pages

Please note, this walk is not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs

This walk will take you along Purleigh’s footpaths and past some of its historic features. Stages of the route are indicated by bullet points, and text within coloured boxes provides historical information. A map of the route in PDF Adobe Acrobat format can be obtained by clicking here.

From the Pavilion car park walk along the edge of the Playing Field with the road on your right, and exit into Howe Green Road at the corner.
Turn left and walk along this road for about 200 metres.

You are now walking through one of Purleigh’s hamlets called Howe Green, which has developed on a piece of common since the early 17th century. On your right is Chapel Cottage, a former congregational chapel which was built in 1852, and remained in use until 1970. Just past Chapel Cottage on the right is Little Le Howe, part of which dates from the 17th century, when it was the first cottage to be built on this common.

Turn left at the ‘Public Footpath’ sign just past Lea House on your left and through the gates into a green lane.

This lane originated soon after 1806 when Thomas Green, the farmer at Purleigh Hall (ahead of you), purchased Le Howe Farm (behind you) and needed a more direct route between the two than the existing road provided.
Turn right at the top of this lane through a gap in the hedge, to take you into the field on your right.
Turn left and follow the edge of this field.

On your left is Purleigh Mount, a circular, moated mound approximately 80 metres in diameter. The origin of the Mount is at present uncertain. Pieces of 12th-13th century pottery have been found on it, and this, coupled with its general appearance, have led to the suggestion that it may have been a Norman motte, i.e. an early type of earthwork castle. However, Roman brick/tile has also been found here.

Just past the Mount on your left you will see a metal gate with a stile in it

Turn rightto look downhill across the field (the stile should be behind you) and walk directly across the field towards a gap in the hedgerow (just to the left of a large Oak tree). Here you will find a plank bridge.
Cross the bridge and walk along the green lane in front of you which will bring you out on the common at Farther Howe Green.

Purleigh originally had six commons, but this is the only one to survive, although with a reduced area. In 1419 the appropriately named Edmund Pygge was summoned to appear at theManorial Court for allowing his un-ringed pigs to ‘root up and overturn’ the pasture on this common.

Turn left and walk along the edge of the common to the field gateway in the corner.
Pass through the gateway, turn right and follow the edge of the field alongside the fence.
At the end of the fence go straight on uphill across an arable field to a gap in the hedge opposite and enter a green lane.
Turn left.

You are now inSeagers Lane, historically a private road / bridlepath which has recently been upgraded to a ‘byway open to all traffic’. Seagers Lane is named after the Seagers family, who owned and farmed the land either side of it in the early 14th century.

Walk along the lane, bearing right where it branches off into a field on the left, keeping to the track which passes through the line of the old railway. You will be able to see the severed embankment to your left and right.

This railway line, which connected Maldon with the Southminster-Wickford line at Woodham Ferrers, was opened on1st October 1889. It was never very profitable however, and passenger trains ceased with the outbreak of war in 1939. Goods trains stopped using the line in the early 1950s. The track was taken up in April 1953, but the bridge which crossed the lane at this point remained (in a ruinous state) until May 1996.

Continue along the track with the deep ditch on your left and a field on your right for approximately 300 metres.
Ignore the entrances on the left and right into Lower Barn Farm’s yards and enter Roundbush Road by the farmhouse.
Turn left, with Lower Barn Farmhouse on your left, and at the end of its garden turn left into a field by a ‘Public Footpath’ sign.
Head diagonally right across this field towards the waymark post in the opposite corner, then bear left slightly and go straight across the next field to another waymark post on the far side of the field below the railway embankment.
Take the steps to the top, cross the embankment, then descend the steps to a plank bridge.
Cross this bridge, then go straight across the field in front of you keeping approximately 5 metres to the right of the electricity pole in the middle of the field.

On the far side of the field cross the wooden bridge with the metal handrail next to the pond and climb over the stile into a paddock.
Walk directly across the paddock towards the left side of the clump of trees in front of you (Purleigh Mount), crossing a stile in the post and rail fence which bisects the paddock, until you reach a stile in the hedge on your left.
Turn right, and with The Mount on your left, head towards a white gate with a stile beside it.
Climb over the stile and go straight ahead along the concrete road towards a white building in front of you (The Bell Public House) passing Purleigh Hall on your left.

Purleigh Hall was formerly the centre of Purleigh’s largest manor, which is easily identifiable in the Domesday Survey of 1086, although the present house dates from the 19th and 20th centuries. It continued as a working farm until the early 1980s, when most of its land was sold and its farmyard developed for housing.

The large, traditionalEssex barn was built in circa 1773 and was originally thatched. It was converted into two dwellings in 1984. Note the crinkle-crankle wall between the house and the former barn.

Just past the houses on your left enter the churchyard gates (near the red post box) and immediately turn left alongside the fence to the corner.

The large, traditionalEssex barn was built in circa 1773 and was originally thatched. It was converted into two dwellings in 1984. Note the crinkle-crankle wall between the house and the former barn.

At the corner of the Churchyard turn left into a fenced path (‘Rigby’s Path’) and follow it until you reach the bench.

This bench was presented to the parish in 1991 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Ordnance Survey.

Turn right, go over the stile and down the steps, then walk down the hill with the hedge on your right, through the Glebe (Church) meadow

At the bottom cross the bridge into the Playing Field.
Go straight ahead to the Pavilion and car park.