High Roding sits within a group of eight villages, which take their name from a Saxon chieftain named Hroth and the Saxon ‘ings’, or meadows by the river Roding. Before the Norman Conquest the parishes of High Roding belonged to the Monastery of Ely. However, the monks upset King William 1st and the parish was given to a William de Warren, created Earl of Warren and Surrey.
By the 16th century the estate that the church sat within was owned by Mary Boleyn, sister of King Henry VIII’s wife Ann Boleyn and aunt to the future Queen Elizabeth 1st. This was a key time in the history of the wider English church as Henry VIII’s divorce from Ann Boleyn led to the split of the English church from Catholic Rome and the formation of the Church of England. High Roding Rectory, which had been given to the Priory of Lewes was given over to Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex and chief minister to King Henry VIII. Thomas Cromwell was a key figure within Henry’s court, until he displeased Henry who had him beheaded, so his direct involvement in the running of the parish of High Roding is of great interest. It was Thomas who instructed that a Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths should be kept by the incumbent of each Parish, High Roding’s beginning in 1538.
Thomas Cromwell was also involved in enforcing an act of major importance for Christians accessing the Word of God more directly than ever before in England. Henry VIII commanded that a Bible in English should be placed in every parish church in the country. As Patron of High Roding, it is widely assumed that Cromwell may have enacted this order in his own Parish early on, so High Roding could have been one of the first in the country to be given a Bible in English.
In the period 1553-1558, High Roding was sold to Sir Thomas Jocelyn and it stayed in his family for about two hundred years.
The position of the Church, just outside the main village, may have been for the convenience of the Lord of the Manor. It may also have been in its present position due to the plague, with High Roding village being moved away from the place of plague, or the village may have been moved to put it more directly on the Roman road that it currently sits on, and into the path of passing trade.
Apart from some changes in the 13th and 14th century the main change to the building took place in the 19th century when the wooden spire was destroyed by lightning. High Roding Church itself has changed little over the period since then.
Worship used to move to the Mission Hall within the village in winter, when it was easier to heat the hall than the Church. New pew Bibles were sponsored by parishioners in the 1990s, continuing the encouragement of the first-hand study of scripture within the congregation, started by Cromwell.
Although High Roding Church has been at the forefront of many important historical events over its long history, the main, and most important, constant is that there is still an active congregation of believers who attend the Church, as there has been for hundreds of years, worshipping Jesus Christ and with a desire to make him known outside of the Church.
Where to find us
All Saints Church
All Saints Church is situated a mile from the southern end of High Roding village to the west of the B184 Ongar-Great Dunmow road.