History Of Ongar

Then & Now

Historic Timeline

1013 - Body of St Edmund rested overnight at Greensted Church

1076 - St Martin’s Church completed

1157 - King Henry II visited Ongar Castle

1668 - Wren House built (corner of St Martin’s Mews)

1678 - Joseph King bequeathed five houses to the town (Kings Trust Houses)

1697 - The King’s Head built

1811 - Ongar Grammar School opened (now Central House)

1824 - Jane Taylor, author, died and buried in the United Reformed Church

1838 - Dr David Livingstone, African explorer, lived in Ongar

1865 - The Great Eastern Railway extended to Ongar

1869 - St Helen’s Catholic Church built

1886 - Budworth Hall built

1888 - St Peter’s Church, Shelly built on the site of two previous churches

1912 - Father Thomas Byles, priest at St Helen’s Church died on RMS Titanic

1915 - Budworth Hall became a military hospital

1933 - Ongar War Memorial Hospital opened

1996 - New Chipping Ongar Library opened

1999 - Sainsbury’s Superstore built on the site of Ongar Infant’s School

2011 - Zinc Arts Centre opened on the site of Great Stony School

2012 - Epping Ongar Railway opened as a Heritage line

2013 - Ongar Health Centre opened on the site of Ongar War Memorial Hospital

2015 - New Ongar Academy opened

2015 - 17th Century King’s Head restored and opened as a restaurant

2018 - First Ongar Town Festival

Did you know?

Ongar Castle Motte and Bailey

Built around 1081, the motte being a man-made hill with castle on top, surrounded by fortified grounds, the bailey, and often surrounded by a moat. Evidence is sparse concerning the Lordship of Ongar until the creation of the Doomesday Book in 1086 where Ongar is shown as a possession of Eustace, the Count of Boulogne. Ongar castle came under the control of Henry II who was concerned that it might be used against him by hostile barons.

The castle was eventually demolished in the 16th Century and the mansion built on the site suffered a similar fate in 1744.

Greensted Church

St. Andrews Church, Greensted, Is the oldest wooden Church in the World, and the oldest ‘Stave Built’ timber building in Europe. The oldest grave, lying adjacent to the entrance to the church is that of a twelfth century Crusader, thought to be a bowman. Wedding ceremonies are still carried out at this beautiful setting.

The Kings Head

Built in 1697 as a coaching inn, The King’s Head is the oldest brick-fronted building on Chipping Ongar High Street. Named after King James II, who is believed to have stayed here during his reign.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Jane Taylor the British poet wrote the words to Twinkle twinkle little star. Although born in London, Jane resided in Ongar for many years and was laid to rest in 1824 at the age of 40 at the Ongar churchyard.

The Budworth Hall

A Grade 2 listed Victorian building, built in 1886.

From 1914-1919 during the First World War the Budworth Hall became a Convalescent Hospital for sick and wounded servicemen; officers were accommodated at nearby Blake Hall. Known as Budworth Hall Auxiliary Hospital, it was staffed by Essex/32 Voluntary Aid Detachment.

Again, during the Second World War Budworth Hall was utilised for the War effort. In May 1940 troops were billeted in the Ballroom, Concert Hall and Committee Room. In February 1941 the upstairs Concert Hall and Committee Room were requisitioned for use as a rest centre for evacuees. In 1942 the building was used to house a British Restaurant. The Budworth Hall re-opened for public use on the 1 April 1946. The 3 original clock mechanisms are still in situ and would now cost a 6 figure sum should they be purchased today.

Great Stony

In 1905, the cottage homes were established in Chipping Ongar. They were called the Hackney Cottage Homes as they were built by the Hackney Poor Law Union for the children of Hackney.

The buildings were arranged in an oval shape around a grassed green. They were three storeys high and more than fifty children could live in each. The homes ran as Hackney Cottage Homes until 1939. After this point, they were known as Great Stony School and functioned as such until 1994. The buildings were then redeveloped for residential use as we see today.

Ongar War Memorial Hospital

In December 1918 a public meeting was held in Ongar, it was decided to build a cottage hospital to commemorate those who had given their lives during the Great War and to celebrate the peace.

The Ongar and District War Memorial Hospital officially opened on the August Bank Holiday 1932 by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex. Paid for by public subscription, private donations and fund-raising events, the red brick 2-storey building had 24 beds.

In March 2011 the Hospital was completely demolished and the Ongar Health Centre became the new modern building we see here today.

Epping and Ongar railway

In 1856 The Eastern Counties Railway, which later became part of the Great Eastern Railway opened a double track railway between Stratford and Loughton. A single-track extension between Loughton and Ongar was added in 1865. Increased usage on the line led to the building of double track between Loughton and Epping. At this point 50 trains operated between London and Loughton each day, with a further 22 continuing to Epping and 14 more to Ongar.

In 1989 an attempt was made to run an all-day service. It was unsuccessful and London Transport closed the loss-making section on 30th September 1994.

The railway is now run by volunteers using steam and diesel trains on the railway between Ongar and North Weald with historic engines as well as buses for tourists and visitors alike.

Livingstone Cottages

David Livingstone was a Scottish physician and pioneer Christian missionary, an explorer in Africa, and one of the most popular British heroes of the late 19th-century Victorian era. 0A scientific investigator, imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of British commercial and colonial expansion.

Livingstone was a student at the Charing Cross Hospital Medical School in 1838–40, with courses covering medical practice, midwifery, and botany. During this period he also spent time on missionary training in London and in Ongar, Essex, where he resided for several years to become a minister within the Congregational Union serving under the LMS before heading off to travel Africa.