Canewdon is a village in the
District of Essex in England.
The name Canewdon is derived from the Saxon name ‘Caningadon’,
roughly translated to ‘hill of the Can people’. ‘don’ means hill
and the ‘ing’ implies a personal name and probably indicates a
pre-existing settlement. The name predates Canute the Great
by about 400 years but
Canewdon is claimed to be the site of an ancient camp used by
, during a battle during his invasion
of Essex in 1013.
The village is on a hill that has a commanding view over the
surrounding area and it is thought that the Romans had a hill fort
and settlement here to watch over the river Crouch. Many Roman urns
were found in the village in the 1700’s and there is much Roman
material built into the walls of the church. Christianity came to
Canewdon at an early date, probably in Roman times. Some 200 years
after the Romans during St. Cedd’s mission from Lindisfarne to
Essex in about 653AD, after he had established ministers at
Bradwell-on-Sea and Tilbury, the Gospel was then carried from
Bradwell to Canewdon and by this time Canewdon was already a
There is much unsubstantiated superstition surrounding the village.
Some even believed it to be a centre of witchcraft
. However these references appear to be
Victorian in origin at the earliest and then fuelled and
embellished by later publications.Many costal settlements have
stories of witches, ghosts or other strange happenings, these often
have more to do with concealing the nocturnal work of smugglers
bringing contraband ashore in years gone bye than anything
One legend has it that while the church tower stands, there will
always remain six witches in Canewdon. Another states that if you
walk around the church seven times (anticlockwise) on Halloween
you will see a witch, and thirteen times
you will disappear, of course none of these tales has any truth in
them but these stories can make the village a popular destination
on Halloween, to the extent that the police have been known to seal
off the village to non-residents.
Whilst the church of St Nicholas stands full on Beacon Hill,
Canewdon, it is said that there will be as many witches in silk as
A lot of the folklore probably came from George Pickingill who,
living in the village during the late 19th century, still
apparently practised pagan rituals in the church grounds. The idea
that something magical can happen from running about the church is
probably an exaggeration of what scared locals saw the witch master
and his nymphs doing 'walking the circle' as it is known in
paganism.Most of the village was built in the mid-Sixties.
There are many ghost stories within the village, most again central
to the church. The most famous ghost is the grey lady who
reportedly floats down from the church's west gate towards the
During World War II
there was a radar
station which has now fallen into ruin. It stands on a private
property, where the remnant is now used as a stable.
In 1987, a group of youths burst into the village chruchyard on
and caused a riot
in the churchyard. Every year police officers
patrol the village on halloween.
In 1989 a serious car crash happened down anchor lane, which is
believed to be haunted to this very day.
The village is about 1 mile from the River
The 14th century church of St Nicholas, with its 15th century tower
and porch, stands on a hill 128 feet above the marshes. The oldest
part of the church is the outside wall of the north aisle which
contains many Roman bricks, presumably from an earlier
St Nicholas Church
Aerial Photo of Canewdon