The valiant walkers who turned up for the Ingatestone walk were rewarded with sunshine, skylarks and snowdrops, after a pleasant early lunch at the Prince of Wales in Mountnessing where we succumbed to the temptation of a delicious apple crumble! We were pleased to see Geoffrey at lunchtime but his ankle didn’t allow him to venture very far into the rolling green fields in the afternoon. It was just as well he turned back because the terrain continued to be very slippery on the muddy paths between the bright new shoots. We were on the domain of Lord Petre (pronounced Peter) and passed Ingatestone Hall, his dark and gloomy baronial seat. We were more interested in two weathervanes we had seen earlier. One, over a kennels, which appeared to be a hunting dog missing a rusted front leg. The other, above the golden ogival cupola of a house also commissioned by a member of the Petre family, appeared to be a lady in a voluminous skirt battling a storm with her umbrella and preceded by a dog.
As regards the church of St. Giles which we passed, it should be noted that although he was of Greek origin he seems to have set up shop, so to speak, in France, on the route from Arles to Santiago de Compostela and the list of causes of which he is patron is quite extensive. Perhaps the church was dedicated to him to protect the locals from the Black Death. Mulling over all these matters, we made our muddy way back to Ingatestone station in good time to catch the train home.