Writtle is a former market town lying at c. 50m OD c. 4km south-west of Chelmsford. The settlement pattern today is complex, primarily arranged around two greens: Writtle Green, which today takes a large triangular form c. 200m in length, and St John's Green, a much smaller, rectilinear area c. 80m long sited to the east of the first, with more recent development beyond these. Most of the older houses in the village lie around the periphery of these greens. The church of All Saints contains some evidence for Norman origins and is located c. 70m south of the Writtle Green. It is possible that it was originally sited on the edge of an open area, suggesting that the green may formerly have been larger than it is today. Writtle was a royal manor, and a priory or hospital was established near the church by 1230 AD as a gift of King John to the hospital of the Holy Ghost in the church of St. Mary in Saxia in Rome. More tangible surviving evidence of Writtle's royal associations take the form of the remains of a moated hunting lodge (Essex HER 18580), built by King John in 1211, which are visible north of the present village.
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