St Mary's parish church
Essendon shown within Hertfordshire
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The village is on the B158 road 330 feet (100 m) above sea level and has a view of the Lea Valley to the north. Although on an ancient site, St Mary's parish church dates mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries and was restored in 1883. The west tower dates from the 15th century and has eight bells, the oldest cast in 1681. The church contains an unusual Wedgwood ceramic font dated 1780 and several brasses and monuments. In 1916 the east end of the church was damaged by a bomb dropped by the German Navy Zeppelin L-16; two sisters were killed. There is a village pub named The Rose and Crown.
Historic houses in the parish include Camfield Place which was the home of the novelist Barbara Cartland and visited by Beatrix Potter. Nearby is Holwell Court, a Grade II listed building, built in about 1900 for Sir Ernest George; it is now converted to private apartments.
Essendon Place was the seat of the Barons Dimsdale of Russia; Thomas Dimsdale was an expert on the treatment of smallpox by inoculation and in 1768 he was invited to Russia to inoculate Catherine the Great. For his services there he was made a baron of the Russian Empire.
Bedwell Park is another manor house near to the village. Bedwell End  was the home of Deneys Reitz, High Commissioner for the Union of South Africa, until his death on 19 October 1944. At the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War he joined the Boer forces at the age of seventeen and accompanied General JC Smuts on his famous raid in the Cape Colony, of which Reitz wrote in his autobiography, Commando. In World War I, as a lieutenant-colonel, he commanded the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front in France.
- The London Gazette: . 26 June 1945. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- "Reitz, Deneys". Dictionary of South African Biography I. Human Sciences Research Council. 1981. p. 670. ISBN 0-409-09183-9.
- The London Gazette: . 8 July 1919. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
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