signPanfield was named by the Saxons who were settling in Essex from the 5th century onwards. They saw "open country on the banks of the Pant", and in their own language called the place exactly that.

The earliest written record of the name so far discovered is the entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 which states:

"Panfelda" is held by Robert of Richard: it was held by Wisgar in the time of King Edward ... "

This entry shows that in yearly value to the king, Panfelda was worth £10, which was more than the county town was then worth.

The date 1086 is shown on both sides of the village sign.

Kelly's County Directory in 1936 describes the village thus: "Panfield is a pleasant village and parish near the River Pant, 3 miles north-by-west from Braintree Station - and 45 from London -  the chief crops are wheat, barley and oats and there is some pasture land." Up to that time the population had not grown beyond 286 souls.

The heart of this little settlement is the church. There is little doubt that the Saxons built the first humble church on this site on hearing the Christian message from St. Cedd and his missionaries in the 7th century. But there is no factual or physical evidence remaining to prove the point.

The large depression just inside the "old Rectory" road fence boundary, which up until 1960 continued across what is now the front gardens of the two houses adjacent and the large ditch running along the rear boundary of these three properties, is believed to be the remains of a Saxon moat. Whether the moat surrounded the church site is not known. When the foundations for extension to the church hall were being dug the builder had to go to a depth of 10 feet to reach the clay base. This may have been the moat running from the back to the present gate of the church.

The earliest evidence for the establishment of the church in Panfield stems from the written records which mention the names of Rectors from 1276 and dates of their ministry.

eastwindowThe East Window

The original was destroyed by a landmine during 1939-45 war and replaced in 1954.


Keith Sutton