The Legend of the Holy Cross of Waltham
The story of the foundation and early history of Waltham is told in the manuscript 'De Inventions Sanctce Crucis Nostras' written by one of the canons in the twelfth century.
In 1035 a miraculous black marbie crucifix or holy rood was discovered by a peasant, after a vision, at Montacute in Somersetshire.
The wealthy and powerful owner of the land, named Tovi the Proud, who was standard bearer to King Cnut, decided that the cross must be placed in one of the great religious foundations of the country. It was put on a cart pulled by 12 white and 12 red oxen, but when Tovi commanded that the cart should set off the oxen refused to move. As each religious house was mentioned, (Winchester...., Westminster...., Reading...., and so on), the oxen still would not move.
Finally, Tovi remembered the little settlement of Waltham in Essex, where he had a hunting lodge as he was Lord of the Manor, and where there was a tiny Saxon church not much more than a hut. When Tovi mentioned Waltham the oxen set off on their own and walked without direction from Somerset to Waltham.
Tovi built a new church for its reception at Waltham. He appointed two priests to the church and gave rich endowments for their maintenance. His devout second wife, Gytha or Glitha, (the daughter of Osgod Clapa), presented a splendid golden and jewelled crown, bands of gold and precious stones to adorn the figure. And the cross became the object of pilgrimage.
On his death, his son succeeded to some of his possessions but lost others, including Waltham, which King Edward the Confessor granted to Harold Godwinsson, Earl of East Anglia, the son of Earl Godwin of Wessex, and future King Harold II, the last Anglo Saxon King of England.