History of Feering

The name Feering is thought to derive from Feringas or Pheringas (as it is referred to in the Domesday Book) meaning Bulls Pasture or Meadow or from the Saxon Feringe meaning dwellers by the road. However there is evidence of earlier habitation as artefacts have been found dating to the Stone Age, Iron Age and Roman periods as well as the Saxon and Medieval (some of these are in the Colchester and Essex Museum). The remains of a Mammoth have also been found.

Feering has always been important geographically as it is the crossing point of the River Blackwater and traces of the old Roman London to Colchester road have been found on Feering Hill. The present bridge was built around 1785 and the arches of an earlier bridge, some 50m to the south east, can still be seen. Originally the parish was much larger than it is today extending around the north side of Coggeshall.

The parish church, which is built of flint, septaria rubble and English bonded red bricks, is dedicated to All Saints. The Abbots of Westminster were its Patrons and Rectors until the 16th century. The nave is 12/13th century in origin, the chancel is mainly early 14th, the north aisle early 14th and the west tower which includes Roman tile 15th century. The south wall of the nave and the south porch which has an unidentified merchants mark in the brick vaulting, are early 16th century. Sir George Gilbert Scott restored the chancel arch in 1845 and fragments of the old arch were incorporated into the altar of the Lady Chapel when it was built in 1961. There is a 13th century coffin lid in the floor of the north aisle and in the middle of the north wall there is a late 14th century tomb recess.

There were two capital manors in the village, Feeringbury and Prested Hall and two lesser ones, Houchins (now in the parish of Coggeshall) and Chambers. Also there was a Quaker burial site on Feering Hill that was in use between 1727 – 1834.

Today there are more than 40 buildings of architectural, historic or local interest in the village.

The bypass and the dismantling of the level crossing on Feering Hill has allowed the village to grow, however, large areas of the parish are still agricultural. Until recently orchards supplied fruit for a nearby jam factory. There were fields of strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and vegetables and also fields growing flowers for seed, these became known as the Flowering Fields of Feering.

Amongst the people in the past associated with the village is Dr Robert Aylett, who is recorded in 1616 as owning the house now known as Feering House that then included Sun Cottage and The Sun Inn. He was a poet and wrote some eighteen hundred Spenserian stanzas. He was also a commissary of the Bishop of London and judge of the Commissary Court acting eventually under Archbishop Laud. William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania is also associated with the village; he is said to have preached beneath the Cedar tree that until recently stood between what is now St Andrews and the former Feering Vicarage on Feering Hill.

John Constable stayed in Feering on several occasions with the Rev Walter Wren Driffield (who had christened him at East Bergholt in the middle of the night when he had not been expected to live) at what was the Vicarage until the 1950’s and now Drummonds. Constable did several drawings while staying there including one of the church porch and another depicted the Vicarage with the grass being rolled. It was appropriate therefore that when the Constable painting of The Risen Christ was sold by Manningtree Church that it came to Feering Church where it was hung in the Lady Chapel until recently when it was sold to pay for a new heating system. It is now in Dedham Church.