Monday, 16 September 2019

Ride & Stride 2019

In 2014 I wrote a post about four supposedly participating churches only one of which was actually open - this made me incredibly [perhaps irrationally] angry. I even sent an angry church crawler denied email to the Ride and Stride website decrying the churches lack of participation despite their inclusion on the list of participating churches - as you'd expect nothing much came of that, so I wrote all three churches off as interiorly inaccessible.

Fast forward five years and I downloaded this year's list to see if some notoriously LNK churches were participating and found two which I really wanted access to were Ugley and Takeley. Both were marked with an asterisk which, after a bit of Googleing, seemed to indicate that they were open and manned/womanned. This sounded promising so I resolved on a mini trip.

Having dropped son 2 at the station I headed off to Ugley and on the single track to St Peter passed two lady striders. A little further up I espied a car parked in the church drive, surely a sign of the manned status and my spirits soared - I was going to get inside for the first time since 2010 when I found it open but being new to this game missed much including the Burne Jones East window; only to find a wedding was just beginning and yet again I was thwarted.

Disappointed I returned home - which in itself was difficult as guest after guest came up the single track lane forcing me to reverse to let them pass [this was at 12.45pm - is this a normal time to get married?].

I stewed at home thinking evil thoughts until I decided to try again at 2.45pm and set off once more [I really wanted the east window] and when I arrived the Bride & Groom were just leaving! The church, however, was open, and the east window and various missed monuments were recorded.

Visitors on the meet and greet list included an earlier cyclist The two striders left empty handed and I was cheating. So I take my hat off to St Peter for actually taking part even if they offset their participation by laying on the longest wedding in history.

Filled with joie de vie I decided to try Holy Trinity, Takeley, despite having phoned a keyholder  listed on their website [but not on their notice board] earlier that morning who knew nothing about their plans. To be fair she was very helpful even offering to go down to the church where she knew someone was setting up for Mass the next day. I should have called her on my mobile rather than the landline because, despite the asterisk against its listing, it was predictably locked. What really pissed me off was the laminated "Welcome to Holy Trinity" sign.

I've stopped off here dozens of times over the last decade and it's always been locked, so to list it with an asterisk for Ride and Stride and including it on the list implies intention to apply for funding. Which seems odd for a church that is inaccessible and may soon be subsumed by a second Stansted runway - either way until they open up to the public they shouldn't be charitably funded.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

St Giles' Leper Hospital, Maldon

I recently came across an entry in another blog about the ruins of St Giles and realised that I needed to visit, and so today I did.

ST GILES HOSPITAL. A leper hospital founded, it is said, by Henry II. All that survives is part of the transepts and of the chancel of a chapel on quite an ambitious scale. The scanty details point to the end of the C12: shafts attached to the angles of the crossing piers and a W window in the N transept. Both transepts seem originally to have had E chapels. The three lancets of the S transept S wall are an E.E. alteration.

St Giles' Leper Hospital (3)

MALDON. It clusters about a hill and looks down on the waters flowing to the North Sea, past the Blackwater islands and the old Saxon church of Bradwell. Its people will tell you that there is no town more picturesquely set in Essex, and indeed it is a captivating place, with old streets and old inns, red roofs and white sails, and three towers that never cease to call us as we saunter through the town.

Viking ships would come this way into the River Chelmer in the early days of our England, and one of our oldest poems tells how Brihtnoth the Saxon fell in the hour of victory over the Danish invaders. Nothing is left of those far-off days, yet Maldon has old and famous places, old houses overhanging the streets, a 14th century inn with characteristic pieces of every century since, a vicarage with ancient doorways and medieval paintings, the old Moot Hall as historic centre of the town, and down in the valley one of the best preserved fragments of an abbey in the south-east of England, 700 years old.

The Moot Hall, built in the 15th century and now used as the town hall, has 17th century panelling on its wall, and in the Council Chamber are portraits of Queen Elizabeth, Queen Anne, George the Third, and the town’s great benefactor Thomas Plume, who set up a library on the site of the lost St Peter’s church. The library is a fine little place with the atmosphere of Queen Anne’s day, solid old tables, photographs of kings and queens, panelled walls, and a Jacobean fireplace, and on the shelves some of the rarest productions of the booksellers of two or three centuries ago. The medieval tower of St Peter’s church is all that remains and the library is attached to it with 6000 volumes and a precious register in which are two entries, one of the burial of George Washington’s last English ancestor, the other of the christening of the captain of the Mayflower. It is remarkable, surely, that there should remain in this old library a book with these two entries. Lawrence Washington had been ejected from his living at the neighbouring rectory at Purleigh and finally came to Maldon, where he died; he lies in the churchyard. Both his sons emigrated to America, and John became the great-grandfather of George Washington. The boy christened in this church who was to grow up and become the captain of the Mayflower was Christopher Jones; he captained the ship which carried across the Atlantic the little company that was to grow into the United States under the leadership of the great-great-grandson of the man who died at Maldon. One more historic name brought to mind in, the church where Lawrence Washington lies is that of the Protector, for here lies the great-grandson of Cromwell’s sister Jane.

Among Maldon’s ancient buildings are three inns with delightful ironwork in their signs, the White Horse, the Bell, and the Blue Boar. Behind the modern front of the Blue Boar lies an old timber house, which was once the home of the Earls of Oxford; the oldest part of the house is the black and white overhanging storey from the 14th and 15th centuries. We may look down on the three churches of Maldon from the turret of the medieval town hall. St Peter’s is only a tower. The second is St Mary’s, with a Norman nave and a Norman stringcourse round the tower, and a porch of the 15th century. Norman work remains in the lower stages of the tower, but the rest was rebuilt in the 17th century, and the tower is now crowned by a small wooden spire. The other is the splendid church of All Saints, with the remarkable churchyard in which George Washington’s ancestor lies.

The church has an extraordinary triangular tower with Norman stones in its walls, and a group of huge traceried windows looking down on the street. Its buttresses have canopied niches in which stand six men Maldon is pleased to honour: Archbishop Mellitus, Bishop Cedd, the Saxon Brihtnoth, Robert Mantell who founded the priory, Sir Robert Darcy, and Thomas Plume. On the inside wall thus handsomely buttressed most beautiful arcading runs round windows and between them, while below the windows is a masterpiece of 14th century carving, a series of arches in which finely sculptured heads hide the point of meeting.

This is one of the most attractive walls in Essex. Five of these arches form canopies for stone seats, and one is a doorway leading to a crypt. This splendour of decoration, probably unequalled in the county, continues beyond the crypt entrance to another doorway with a door which has been on its hinges 600 years. There is a window in this wall with three 17th century medallions of the Good Shepherd, the woman of Samaria, and the martyrdom of Stephen, and another window by it is of interest because it comes from Maldon’s American namesake, a town founded by Essex emigrants about 300 years ago. It is a memorial to Lawrence Washington and it glows with colour and fine figures. St Nicholas is here as the patron of voyagers, St George is wearing a jewelled girdle, Joan of Arc is beautiful in blue and silver carrying a banner, and there are scenes showing the landing of Columbus, the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers, and George Washington signing the Declaration of Independence.

On a wall-monument with three bays from Tudor days kneels Thomas Cammocke in a central arch with his two wives kneeling,both looking towards him, their 22 children of all ages and sizes being represented in panels below their mothers. Thomas himself is here not unlike Mr Punch, but he was in truth a young adventurer who eloped with his second wife Frances Rich, whom he carried off on horseback. It was one of the romances of the day. Thomas was in the service of Lord Rich, and loved his daughter Frances, and in eloping they found themselves pursued by the irate father and driven to leap into the estuary and to swim half a mile against a strong tide. They reached the boat the other side of the river at Fambridge Ferry, and the father, seeing such an exhibition of courage, relented and allowed them to be married in All Saints, saying "Seeing she had ventured her life for him, God bless them." Thomas lived to be a prosperous citizen of Maldon, and gave the town its first public water supply.

Under the floor of the nave, somewhere near the font, lies a man whose greatcoat might have covered half of Thomas Cammocke’s great family, for he was reputed to be the biggest man alive in England, weighing 44 stones. He was Edward Bright, and it is said that when they laid him to rest in 1750 a special apparatus had to be fixed in the church for his burial. It was he who was descended from Cromwell’s sister Jane.

Maldon has on its roll of honour not only Thomas Plume, founder of a free school here and a chair of astronomy at Cambridge, but two men who went out to Massachusetts, joined the Parliament there, and helped to found a Maldon on the other side of the Atlantic; they were Samuel Wayte and Joseph Hills, each of whom became Speaker of the Massachusetts Parliament. Here there was born also John Rogers Herbert, who lived for 80 years of last century, became a Royal Academician, and did some of the frescoes for the Houses of Parliament. In the 17th century Stephen Knight, a butcher of the town, was burned alive in the persecution of Mary Tudor, and in the 17th century there came to the town its first Nonconformist minister, a man of great energy and enthusiasm of whom we may truly say that he did things like billio, for he actually was Billio - Joseph Billio, from whose ceaseless activity sprang the phrase that has now become so familiar.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


Essex is not as popular a touring and sight-seeing county as it deserves to be. People say that is due to the squalor of Liverpool Street Station. Looking round the suicidal waiting-room on platform 9 and the cavernous left luggage counters behind platforms 9 and 10, I am inclined to agree. But there are other more palpable reasons militating against a just appreciation of Essex. The county is too big and varied to be taken in as one. With its 978,000 acres it is the eighth in England, ranking behind Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Devon, Norfolk, Northumberland, Lancashire, and Somerset. In variety of character it must be given precedence over most of them. It comprises first of all an area of solidly built-over East London large enough to house over one million people, then the loosely built outer suburbs of London towards Epping Forest and the new housing estates towards Southend, the mud flats of the estuary of the Thames, with their cement and other works, the coast with more estuaries (Crouch to Burnharn, Blackwater to Maldon, Stour to Harwich and Manningtree), with large, flat islands (Canvey, Foulness, Mersea),fishing and sailing harbours (Wivenhoe, Brightlingsea, etc.), and seaside resorts ranging in character from uproariously popular Southend to select Frinton. The landscape behind the coasts is not specially attractive. It is a little like Holland, but less peaceful, because everywhere affected by suburban-looking housing. But it is in fact still genuinely rural, and it can be said that farmers in Essex will be found occupied with farming more often than in most other counties. This applies to the plain as well as to the rolling country round Dunmow and up North towards the Stour and the Suffolk border. Here there are more trees and patches of wood, and the scenery has a great deal of pretty charm. Grand it is nowhere. The large forests of the past have all gone, except for the 5500 acres to which Epping Forest is now reduced. With its spreading old hornbeams it is still a blessing so near London. But one must not try to impress the foreigner from the United States or indeed Germany by taking him to a Forest which one can cross on foot in one direction in an hour and in the other in three and a bit.

Villages vary just as much as scenery. Spectacular village greens are rare. The largest is that of Great Bentley, the prettiest perhaps that of Writtle; except of course for Finchingfield which, with its pond and bridge and little ascending street leading to the church, is justly celebrated. The less concentrated centre of Wethersfield can compete in village charm with Finchingfield.

Big towns do not exist in Essex, save for what Dickens calls London-over-the-Border. The river Lea is no longer a boundary between the East End of London, of the county of London, and Stratford, Leyton, Leytonstone, Walthamstow, West Ham, East Ham, and so on. These boroughs are not on the whole slummy, but they are mostly inhabited by the poorer classes, and to the eye they are exceedingly drab. Yet neither parks nor open spaces are lacking, and the green belt on their East border towards Woodford and Wanstead is indeed a great blessing. In the Middle Ages all these places had been villages. They became London only in the C19, at the time of the worst, wholly unplanned housing development. Their population now has begun to decrease - the process familiar from the London East End. Walthamstow, Leyton, West Ham, and East Ham had a population of 696,000 in 1931; they have now (1951) 518,000. Equally familiar is the parallel process of a sudden alarming growth further out, drawing villages and rural districts into the suburban net of London: to the E Ilford in the last twenty years has gone up from 131,000 to 185,000, Romford from 38,000 to 88,000, Hornchurch from 39,000 to 104,000. To the NE Chingford had 22,000 inhabitants in 1931, it has over 48,000 now. The corresponding figures for Chigwell are 16,000 and 52,000. Yet Chigwell is still - no doubt not for long - the first real village one reaches in leaving London in that direction. The first real towns with lives of their own are Epping and Chipping Ongar to the NE, Romford to the E. But far beyond Ilford the L.C.C. had begun, after the First World War, to stretch out its housing estates. Becontree, a dormitory, not a town, houses more than 100,000 Londoners, and Harold Hill, begun after the Second World War, seems in danger of growing to a similar size under similar conditions.

Southend, to most people’s surprise, is the largest town of Essex outside the orbit of London. Yet with its 150,000 inhabitants it is not a big town, and so one can say that one of the characteristic features of Essex is the absence of any really big industrial city. Chelmsford, the county town, has some important industrial enterprises, but remains in its centre surprisingly quiet and human, a Georgian more than a Victorian town. The seaside places of Essex on the other hand are decidedly C19 in their character, though remarkably varied, Walton of 1820-30, Clacton mid-Victorian, Frinton late Victorian and later. Colchester is without doubt the town of the greatest architectural importance, as a whole as well as in its individual buildings.

What is most impressive at Colchester, more impressive than in any other town of England, is the continuity of its architectural interest. It began before the time of the Romans and lasted through to the C18. But to understand this continuity, it will now be necessary first to go back to the beginnings of human history in Essex and follow the districts of the present county from the Old Stone Age to the departure of the Romans. On the whole - with the exception of Colchester - the prehistory of Essex is disappointing. The reason for the comparative absence of human settlement in the county is not hard to determine. Essex was flat and low-lying, a terrain of marsh and oak forest. The heavy wet clay and gloomy woods were not encouraging to primitive settlers, whose agricultural and tree-felling equipment was in any case inadequate. The inhabitants of pre-historic Britain preferred to live in areas where the soil was light and well-drained and furnished with a supply of such raw materials as building stone. Certain more promising sections of the Essex coastline always attracted, however, a small quota of colonists. The coast was situated in the SE corner of Britain, towards which immigrants or invaders constantly and inevitably steered their craft. At the same time the Essex coast served as an extension of the riverside settlement of the nearby Thames valley......

Meanwhile, the earliest Saxon building which survives in Essex can be dated considerably earlier. It is the church of St Peter’s at Bradwell, built, we can say with every probability, c. 654. It consists almost entirely of Roman brick and other Roman materials. In type it belongs to the Kentish or SE English group. It had originally an apse and a tripartite chancel arch or screen, and also probably porricus or side chambers on the l. and r. But most Saxon churches were no doubt of timber. Essex was in the Middle Ages widely wooded, and if any one feature is characteristic of the county as against all others right through to the time of the Reformation, it is the importance of timber in church architecture. So it is happily fitting that the only surviving medieval English timber church is in Essex, Greensted. It is built of oak-logs split vertically in halves and set vertically. Its date is 1013. The other Saxon churches of Essex also belong to the last fifty years before the Conquest, and so at this point a few general remarks on medieval church architecture in the county may be useful.

In accordance with the size and variety of the county is the variety of building materials. In the SE walls are most often of Kentish rag, in the E of brown septaria and that curious conglomerate pudding-stone, in the NW of flint and pebble rubble. Knapped flint and flush-work decoration belong of course to the East Anglian border, but go as far s as for instance St Osyth. The making of bricks in England seems to have started in Essex, and  earlier than many people realize. Little Coggeshall has C13 home-made bricks, 1 to 2 in. thick, Copford, c. 1300 at the latest, a brick pier inside, and C14 brick appears at and near Colchester. At Dengie (C14) the colour of the brickwork is so pale that one can speak of an example of yellow bricks. In the late Middle Ages brick became the favourite material in ecclesiastical as well as secular architecture, wherever a rich man wanted to make a display. Timber however was not wholly displaced in the county until long after the end of the Middle Ages. Timber roofs, it is true, are not as spectacular as in Suffolk and Norfolk, but the timber towers of Essex fully deserve more detailed comment, and this will be provided later. Timber church porches are also a feature of some importance, and as for domestic building, timber-framing remained the accepted local technique, in spite of the in-roads made by brick.

Now to return to the historical survey of building in Essex, Saxon stone churches of the C11 or fragments of such are far from common. Hadstock is the most interesting case, where the nave as well as the transepts with their arches towards the naveare preserved, and a doorway complete with door. Otherwise there are Inworth, Chickney, and Strethall (with a mid C11 chancel arch), the W tower of Holy Trinity Colchester (with a triangular head to its doorway) and of Little Bardfield, and odd windows in a few other places. Harold’s abbey church of Waltham does not survive. Sculptured stones are extremely rare. The only one of some merit is the fragment of a cross-shaft at Barking.

The Normans must have inherited from the Romans in some obscure way the respect for Colchester. For here William erected a keep larger than any other in Europe. It belongs to the type known as hall-keeps, i.e. the type of the White Tower in London, and had, likewise, a chapel with an apse projecting beyond the square walls and subdivisions of the main inner area into divers chambers. Of the more familiar type of the tower-keep Castle Hedingham of c.1135, the stronghold of the de Veres, Earls of Oxford, is perhaps the most impressive example in the whole of England. The other castles of Essex are small (Saffron Walden for example) and mostly only surviving by their mounds or mottes (Pleshey, Chipping Ongar, Great Canfield, Great Easton, Rayleigh, Stansted Mountfitchet). The largest medieval churches of Essex were monastic churches. The county had not possessed a cathedral until in 1913 Chelmsford was raised to cathedral status. The grandest surviving monastic fragments are the complete nave of Waltham, dating from the early C12, and the magnificent ruin of the nave of St Botolph, Colchester, of the end of the C11. Both have massive circular piers, but Waltham is much more richly decorated, while St Botolph has still the grim bareness of the Early Norman style. The W front of St Botolph is specially English in that its twin towers are placed outside the aisles. The same was done at Colne Priory, which was begun about 1100-5. Of the original E ends of Waltham and St Botolph nothing is known. At Colne it had five staggered apses, and the same ending has been excavated at the Benedictine nunnery church of Barking, a church 300 ft long. The nave of Waltham is 90 ft, that of St Botolph 108.

Barking Abbey was one of the most famous of nunnery churches of England. Altogether Essex was a county abounding in monastic foundations. Benedictine nuns were also at Castle Hedingham (no remains) and Wix, Benedictine monks at St John’s Colchester (only the gatehouse survives), Earls Colne, Hatfield Peverel, Hatfield Broad Oak, and Takeley, Cluniac Benedictines at Prittlewell (founded in 1121), Stanesgate, and Little Horkesley (early C12). But the most powerful order in the county were the Augustinians, canons not monks. St Botolph Colchester was their first house in England. It was followed by Little Dunmow (founded in 1106), St Osyth (c. 1120), and of a smaller size Berden, Bicknacre, Blackmore, Latton, Thoby, Thremhall,Tiptree, and (from 1177) Waltham. The newcomers amongst orders of the C12 were the Cistercian monks and the Premonstratensian canons, of the C13 the friars. Cistercian houses in Essex were Stratford Langthorne (1134-5), Little Coggeshall (c. 1140), and Tilty (1153); the Premonstratensians are represented by Beeleigh (c. 1180, which moved here from Great Parndon). Of Little Coggeshall and Tilty the capellae extra muros remain, of Beeleigh the chapter house and dormitory, of Prittlewell the refectory, of St Osyth one corridor apart from the early C16 abbot’s mansion and the large gatehouse. No friars’ architecture survives, though it is known that the Franciscans had a settlement at Colchester, the Carrnelites at Maldon, the Crutched Friars at Colchester.

Compared with monastic churches other Norman remains in Essex are all minor - with one exception: the parish church of Castle Hedingham which was under the special patronage of the de Veres up at the castle. It is 125 ft in length and belongs to the transitional style of the second half of the C12. The nave is provided with aisles separated by alternatingly circular and octagonal piers; the chancel has a straight E end with a fine group of windows including a wheel-window (which is a rarity in England). The tower stood in the W, but has been replaced by a later tower. The most impressive Norman W tower is now at Corringham, broad and massive in shape. Others survive at Stambourne, Finchingfield, Felstead, and so on. A speciality of the county are round towers. [1] Lamarsh, Great Leighs, and Broomfield are C12 examples, Bardfield Saling and Pentlow are as late as the C14. The existence of former round towers has also been proved at Arkesden, Birchanger, South Ockendon, and West Thurrock. Textbooks explain their introduction by the absence of good local building stone for corner-pieces, and that may well be true; for if Norman builders used Roman bricks so extensively for -quoins and door and window surrounds, the reason was certainly that they had nothing equally hard available.

The majority of surviving Norman churches in Essex are of very simple plan, just a nave and chancel (Chipping Ongar, South Shoebury), or a nave and apse (Easthorpe) or a nave, narrower chancel and apse (Copford, East Ham, Great and Little Braxted, Hadleigh, Pentlow, etc.). Langford is unique in England for having a W apse, a German custom. Copford and Great Clacton are almost unique for having had tunnel-vaulted naves. All these churches are small, and for parish churches with aisles there seems to have been as yet little demand. Arcades or indications of arcades remain at Blackmore, Great Tey, and Rainham. In other cases where more space was desired, naves were made remarkably wide. Such is the case at Great Clacton, Great Waltham, High Easter, St Mary Maldon, and Southminster. The usual plan for larger Norman parish church however was cruciform, nave, crossing, transepts, and chancel. In these cases the tower would be placed above the crossing.  A specially big example is Great Tey. Others are or were Boreham, Fyfield, Great Easton, Hatfield Peverel, Mount Bures, and Wakes Colne. The W walls of Norman churches, where they are not hidden by W towers, have occasionally a nice grouping of windows, including circular ones (Blackmore, Copford, Faulkbourne).

Of Norman details not much need be said. There are no specially spectacular doorways. What there is has occasionally prettily carved columns with zigzag, spiral, or similar motifs (Belchamp Otton, Elsenham, Great Clacton, Margaret Roding, Middleton, South Ockendon). Lintels are often curved (Chadwell, Chigwell, High Ongar, Margaret Roding, Orsett, Stansted Mountfitchet) and tympana often decorated with geometrical all-over patterns such as diapers (Chigwell, Elsenham, Great Canfield, High Ongar, Margaret Roding, South Weald, Stansted Mountfitchet). There is only one Norman tympanum in the whole county which has figure carving, at Birchanger, and that has no more than one humble and incompetently rendered little lamb.

For the later C12 Castle Hedingham church has already been mentioned. By far the most important work, the huge E extension of Waltham, begun, it seems, in 1177, has disappeared entirely. The same alternation of circular and octagonal piers as at Hedingham exists at East Tilbury and Felsted [2] (which has also some ornamental details in common with Hedingham).

The C13 was not an age of great activity in Essex, except for the completion of the novum opus at Waltham. The church was consecrated in 1242. But no major work in the Early English style survives in the county. Transepts exist or have existed at Berden, Great Chesterford, Great Sampford, and Newport. At St Osyth and Leez Priory they are provided with E aisles. Good Easter has a chancel of c. 1230-40 with much enrichment inside, Berden an even richer chancel of c. 1260. Windows at first were lancets, but by 1260 (Berden etc.) lancets are coupled, and pierced circles or cusped circles placed above them. Bar tracery does not occur so early. But by the early C14 it had developed into forms heralding in their wilfulness and illogicality the Decorated style to come (Gestingthorpe, Great Dunmow, Great Sampford). Clerestoreys have occasionally quatrefoil windows (Horndon-on-the Hill). [3] Piers are usually circular and have moulded capitals, but stiff-leaf foliage occurs quite often and is occasionally of excellent quality (Berden, Stisted, etc.). Other pier shapes are rare (quatrefoil Saffron Walden, Wimbish; quatrefoil with four shafts in the diagonals Radwinter; circular with four attached shafts St Osyth; circular with eight attached shafts St Osyth). The Double Piscina at Barnston may in addition be noted. It is of the type of Jesus and St John’s Chapels at Cambridge, i.e. with two intersected round arches. Finally towers. Here the only references necessary are to Maldon which has that unique conceit, a triangular tower, and to Grays Thurrock with a C13 tower in transeptal position. That disposes of the Early English style.

As to the Decorated, it can be seen in all its somewhat unhealthy luxuriance in the chancel of Lawford, with its highly unusual tracery and its delicious foliage growing up inside the window surrounds, in the S aisle of Maldon, and the chancel of Tilty. The surviving S chapel of Waltham Abbey is earlier and less outré, but has lovely double tracery in its straight-headed W windows. The surviving S chapel of Little Dunmow is later, hardly before 1360, and shows the deliberate mixing in of some Perp motifs in the window tracery [4].  That circumscribes the extent in time of the Decorated in Essex. Now for details. Piers are usually octagonal and capitals moulded. Sometimes the octagonal shape is continued upward above the capital so that the arches die into it. Frequent also are piers of quatrefoil section, with or without fillets on the shafts (Blackmore, Burnham, Danbury, Elmstead, Henham, Hythe, Lindsell, Maldon, Rickling, Upminster). Sometimes between the foils of the quatrefoil there is in hollow (Hempstead consecrated 1365, Orsett) or a keeled shaft i(Long Melford in Suffolk, Bardfield Saling, Little Maplestead, Shalford) or a filleted shaft (Finchingfield, Great Sampford, Thaxted). Sometimes the main attached shafts are polygonal instead of semicircular (Stebbing), sometimes the quatrefoil is replaced by a square with four attached semicircular shafts (Halstead, Witham, Feering). Quatrefoil windows, as they occurred, in the C13, are found in the C14 clerestories of Little Sampford and Sible Hedingham and the C14 porches of Great Bardfield and Stebbing. These two churches also possess what must be called the most spectacular pieces of interior stone decoration, rood screens filling with shafts, arches, and tracery the whole height of the chancel arch. Stebbing is earlier, c. 1340, Great Bardfield on the verge of the Perp. As the same motif occurs at Trondheim in Norway, it must be assumed that it comes from some lost major work. [5]

We now approach the Perpendicular style, the style corresponding to the period of greatest prosperity in East Anglia. As in Suffolk and Norfolk the wool and cloth trades were the chief source of wealth. An Elizabethan statute speaks of the ‘fair large towns of Essex inhabited of a long time with clothmakers’. Yet there are only three churches in the county which can stand up to a comparison with Long Melford and Lavenham in Suffolk or the best and grandest in Norfolk: Saffron Walden, nearly 200 ft long, Thaxted 183 ft long, and Dedham c. 165 ft long. The re-building of Thaxted began first (c. 1340), and it remained the richest of all. Saffron Walden was begun c. 1450 and has its nearest parallels at Cambridge. Dedham of c. 1500 is wholly Suffolk in character. Similarly a church like Stansted Mountfitchet is of a Hertfordshire kind (see the ‘ spike ’ here and in other churches of the neighbourhood). East Anglian again are Brightlingsea and Great Bromley. Great Bromley like Dedham has the very effective motif of twice as many clerestory as aisle windows. Window tracery of the Perp style is on the whole not rewarding. Dec motifs occasionally remain in use. Of this an exceedingly interesting example is the font of Little Totham. A specially good group of Early Perp windows, straight-headed with varying tracery, belongs to the area of Great Bardfield, with Finchingfield, Wethersfield, and Shalford. The proudest steeples are those of Thaxted, 181 ft high, and Saffron Walden (rebuilt). Thaxted employs a curious system to strengthen its buttressing. The buttresses are of the set-back type, but the angle of the tower is not visible, because the buttresses are connected diagonally by a canting of the angle itself. The same system, but with a straight diagonal, is to be found at Bocking, Chelmsford, Great Bromley, Great Dunmow, and Little Sampford, i.e. nearly all churches with sizeable towers. Flushwork, that typically East Anglian type of decoration, i.e. patterns formed by knapped flint and ashlar stone, has already been noted. The most elaborate examples are the gatehouses of St Osyth and of St John Colchester. On churches it is to be found at Dedham, Ardleigh, Brightlingsea, and Chelmsford. Fingringhoe church makes use of alternating bands of flint and stone. The doorways of Ardleigh and Brightlingsea have figures of St George and the Dragon in the spandrels, Thaxted, Brightlingsea, Great Bromley, and others employ other means to enrich doorways. The richest porches are those of Saffron Walden (one with a tierceron and one with a fan vault) and Dedham (panel-vaulted tower hall; cf. the N chapel at Pentlow). In the porches of Littlebury the projected fan vaults were never completed. Inside, the finest ensembles are without doubt again Saffron Walden and Thaxted. The greatest variety within the Perp style is met in the forms of piers. Generally speaking they tend to complexity and slenderness. The relative size of arches grows and of supports decreases so as to allow for the freest flow of space across, through nave and aisles. Slenderness of piers is often achieved by using a basic lozenge shape which appears at its thinnest when seen straight on from the nave. Fine mouldings of the sides add to the effect of slim verticality. Both elements are found to perfection at Saffron Walden. The lozenge shape at its simplest appears at Chelmsford, with four attached shafts and no capitals at all at Little Sampford, with four attached shafts and concave sides at Dedham and St James Colchester, and so on. The octagon with concave sides is particularly characteristic of the desire for interpenetration of space. It can be seen at Prittlewell (Southend), Terling, etc. Another characteristic variety of piers is that in which semicircular shafts towards the nave are replaced by elongated semi-octagonal ones. This is the fashion adopted at St Peter Colchester, Great Waltham, Broxted etc. To end this account a few piers must be recorded which are of other materials than stone. Shenfield has a Perp arcade of timber,[6] St Osyth parish church, Blackmore, and St Nicholas Chignall have Perp arcades completely of brick [7].

So we have reached the two most characteristic building materials of the late Middle Ages in Essex, timber and brick. Timber of course had been the universal material in most parts of England in early days. It is no accident that the carpenter was called the wright, i.e. the worker in general. But in Essex timber was not finally replaced in church work until brick arrived and in domestic work until after the Restoration. One church, Marks Tey, even has an oak font. Considering this faith and skill in timber-craft, it seems odd that in church roofs the county rarely achieved the highest distinction. One must not think of Norfolk and Suffolk when looking at even the most ambitious roofs, the double hammerbeam roofs of Castle Hedingham, Gestingthorpe (by Thomas Loveday), Great Bromley, and Sturmer, and the single hammerbeams of Hythe, and Berechurch near Colchester, Little Bentley, Peldon, St Osyth, and Wrabness. But one hammerbeam roof in Essex deserves a place in any book on English roofs in general: Tendring. Here only one truss survives, ingeniously linked up with a wooden door surround. But that surround in all its details makes it clear beyond doubt that the roof must be earlier than 1350. Since usually the hammerbeams of Westminster Hall are called the earliest in England and since they date from the 1390s, Tendring is indeed a document of great importance. Otherwise Essex roofs are in the S mostly of the tiebeam kind with king-posts and four-way struts (specially good St Martin Colchester; alternating tiebeam and hammerbeam Great Waltham), in the N they are flat-pitched, as for example at Thaxted.

Secondly there are timber porches. These are of course not confined to Essex. Hertfordshire, Middlesex, and other counties nearby have them. Of the Essex ones Great Hadleigh and Radwinter may be singled out for the C14, Margaretting for the C15. But the glory of Essex timber construction is the belfries and W towers. We call belfry a W turret which seems to stand on or near the W end of the church roof but in fact stands on posts visible inside. The basic arrangement is four posts connected from N to S and sometimes also from E to W by tiebeams. These rest often on arched braces, and in addition there is, more usually from E to W than from N to S, diagonal cross-bracing in a trellis of slighter straight braces. Instead of 4 posts, 6 or even 8 may be used, forming as it were a nave and aisles. The ultimate elaboration is to make a W tower proper of the belfry, i.e. set it up outside the W wall of the nave. It is in such cases occasionally provided with a W aisle as well (Blackmore, Margaretting, and Navestock are perhaps the best). The result may be a whole little centrally planned building with four main posts carrying the tower and an ambulatory all round. That sounds like a type of central church of venerable antiquity, the type of S. Satiro in Milan (879) and Hosios Lukas, but whether there are connexions, as Mr Braun has recently suggested, or whether the Essex type is rather Early Medieval-Germanic in its origin, it is not possible to say. The many examples which we possess cannot with certainty be dated. But the fact that they appear inside C15 as well as earlier naves indicates at least that some are of the C15, and as none have features visibly earlier than those, one has no right to date surviving examples as early as Mr Braun does. These Essex belfries are rough work, they lack decorative refinements, mouldings, or ornament. They must be compared to the splendid barns of Essex rather than to screens or domestic interiors. But they are in their sturdy directness extremely impressive, and they are wholly out of the ordinary.

Now for brick. It had already been said that locally made brick appears in Essex as early as the C13. But not before the C1 5 did the material become accepted for work of any ambition. Its popularity then grew rapidly until in the early decades of the Tudor dynasty it was clearly the most fashionable of all materials. Otherwise Wolsey would never have used it for Hampton Court. Its rise in secular building will be considered later. Here attention must be drawn only to the occurrence of brick in churches. No attempt has yet been made to date the various brick porches and brick towers, so as to trace a development. Porches, often stepped gables, appear in at least fifteen churches. It is impossible to single out one or two as specially worthwhile. Of Towers there are about 30. The most magnificent, tall, often adorned with trefoiled corbel friezes and stepped battlements, are those of Ingatestone, Rochford, and Layer Marney. Dated towers are at Gestingthorpe c. 1498, Theydon Garnon 1520 and Castle Hedingham 1616. The lower parts at Hedingham no doubt earlier, but it is illuminating to realize that, except for the changing shape of bricks, the appearance of an early C17 tower in Essex is in no way different from one of the early C16. The long survival of Perp towers in brick is altogether a remarkable fact. The Early Tudor church builders for example liked to make their windows of brick as well, instead of dressing with stone. A specially fine example is the clerestory of Great Baddow. Brick mullions, brick arches to the individual lights of mullioned windows, and even brick tracery, most usually intersected under depressed, four-centred heads, occur often,and again as late as c. 1550 (West Ham), and later. In a chapel to the church of Stapleford Abbots the windows are for the first time of an arched Renaissance type. The date here is 1638. Other brick chapels added late and still in the Perp style can be seen at Ingatestone, late C16 and early C17. Whole brick arcades have already been mentioned. How far the craze for brick went can best be realized by looking at the brick font of Chignall St Nicholas.

That brings us to Essex church furnishings. First fonts. The raw decoration of the font at Little Maplestead suggests an C11 date. A good C12 example, circular with scrolls etc. is at Belchamp Walter. But the most usual late C12 and C13 type is that provided in so many places and counties the Purbeck quarries: a square bowl, rather flat, like a table top, and the sides decorated by shallow blank arcades, first with round then with pointed heads. A variety of this type adds interest by motifs of fleurs-de-lis, sun and moon, and a curious unexplained whorl. Not all these fonts come necessarily from Purbeck. Once the type was established it was imitated in the stones of other regions as well. Norton Mandeville for example has a font of Barnack stone of a design similar to a Purbeck type. The best C13 fonts in Essex are at Newport with gabled arches in bold relief and at Springfield with rich stiff-leaf foliage. Of c. 1300 is the handsome octagonal font of Roydon with four heads at the corners, men wearing hats with rolled-up brims. Perp fonts are more than can be counted, and most of them are dull: octagonal with the standard decoration by quatrefoils framing shields or rosettes. One group at and near Dedham has figures or symbols of the evangelists instead, but the standard of carving is low.

Font covers and font cases are effective pieces of decoration in a few churches. Takeley is perhaps the most sumptuous. Others are at Thaxted and Littlebury, and also at Pentlow and at Fingringhoe and Great Horkesley (much repaired).

Essex screens cannot compare with the screens of Suffolk and Norfolk. A few (Foxearth, Great Yeldham, Stambourne) have painted figures on the dado as in East Anglia. At North Weald Bassett the ribbed coving under the roof-loft is preserved. But as far as the design of the screens themselves is concerned, one is hardly tempted to analyse it in detail. The richest screens are probably those of Finchingfield, Castle Hedingham, Henham, and Manuden, the oldest those with thin columns with shaft-rings instead of moulded mullions (Corringham, Magdalen Laver). They may belong to the earlier C14; of the late C14 is the screen of Bardfield Saling. The magnificent C14 stone screens of Stebbing and Great Bardfield have already been mentioned.

Pulpits are on the whole disappointing. There are only seven of pre-Reformation date in the county, and not one of them is anything special. Benches and bench-ends and stalls and stall-ends also do not deserve much comment here. Several complete sets of benches are preserved, but they are plain (e.g. in the Bardfield area; also Hadstock, Stanford Rivers, Takeley, Wendens Ambo).  Some have figures on the top of the ends (Belchamp St Paul, Danbury, Writtle), and a few stalls have misericords of no particular interest (Belchamp St Paul, Castle Hedingham). An item of historical as well as architectural interest is the Dunmow Flitch Chair at Little Dunmow; it has been established as part of a C13 chancel stall. In N Essex is a small group of oak lecterns of the C15: Hadstock, Littlebury, Newport, and Ridgewell. Oak coffers are frequent in Essex churches, both of the dugout and the iron-bound type. Of the former fourteen have been counted, usually undateable, of the latter eleven. By far the most interesting example is the later C13 coffer at Newport, with external arcading and paintings inside the lid. Also of the C13 is the coffer at Little Canfield with prettily ornamented short legs. Two specially good chests of c. 1500 are at Thaxted. Not much need be said of other timberwork in churches. The Saxon door at Hadstock has been referred to; C12 and C13 doors with ornamental ironwork are not infrequent (C12 Black Notley, Castle Hedingham, Elmstead, Willingale Spain; C13 Aldham, Bocking, Colchester St Peter, High Roding, Little Leighs, Little Totham, Margaret Roding). Typical of the C14 are doors with blank arched and panels such as occur at Colchester St Giles, Finchingfield, Great Bardfield, and White Notley.

Church plate earlier than the Reformation is very rare. At Radwinter is the base and stem of a C15 cup, at Holy Trinity Colchester a C15 mazer, at Hythe a mazer of 1521, at Earls Colne a paten of the early C16, at Great Waltham one of 1521, and at Benfleet a cup of 1506. That is all.

Stained glass also is on the whole not rewarding. By far the best is the C12 and C13 glass at Rivenhall, and that is French and was bought only in the C19. Then there are small C13 and early C14 figures at Harlow, Lindsell, North Ockendon, White Notley, Newport and Stapleford Abbots, and late C14 figures at Great Bardfield and Thaxted. At Sheering in the tracery lights is a complete little late C14 Coronation of the Virgin with angels. Of the most noteworthy are the complete, if restored, Jesse window at Margaretting, the stories from Genesis at Thaxted, the panels of the story of St Katherine of the Norwich school at Clavering and the kneeling members of the Macwilliam family in the chancel of Stambourne which that family had given.

Wall painting has much more to give in Essex than stained glass. Here any history of the art in England would be incomplete without at least two or three of the works in Essex village churches. First and foremost is Copford of c. 1150, once with cycles all over the walls and no doubt also the vault, and even now with fragments in the apse and a story of the healing of Jairus’s daughter and Virtues and Vices on the nave walls. The one seated prophet preserved at Little Easton also deserves mention as a contemporary piece of a similar style, a style derived from Bury St Edmunds and St Albans. The mid C13 is represented by the exquisite seated Virgin at Great Canfield, near in style to Matthew Paris. It is painted above the altar against the E wall of the church, between two windows - a rare and delightful composition. Interesting also are the stories of the Passion of Christ in four tiers, of c. 1275, at Fairstead church. The C14 is not well represented (St Christopher Lambourne, remains of a cycle at Wendens Ambo, c. 1330, remains at Bradwell-juxta-Coggeshall, Virgin at Belchamp Walter), the C15 by the iconographically remarkable cycle at Little Easton and the Doomat Waltham Abbey.

Sculpture other than monuments need not be mentioned, except for the scanty remains of two alabaster altars at Great Hallingbury and Saffron Walden, and such small decorative figure work as the numerous head stops of hood moulds or the delightful climbing and dancing jugglers and musicians in the window surrounds at Lawford or the Virgin and Child at Henham.

Of monument: a little more must be said, although here also Essex has none of national importance. [8] The earliest monuments are of knights and belong to the C13. That at Toppesfield is covered over and cannot be seen; others, a little later, are at Clavering and Faulkbourne. There follows the interesting group of oaken effigies at Danbury, Elmstead, Little Baddow, and Little Leighs. The dates go from the late C13 to the middle of the C14. Good cross-legged knights of c. 1300 to 1310 are at Thorpe-le-Soken and Stansted Mountfitchet. Brasses and the technically similar incised stone slabs begin with the C 14. The earliest stone slab is probably the demi-figure of a priest at Barking. Flemish in style is the mid C14 incised stone, 7 ft long, of a priest at Middleton, and of Flemish style also are some of the best brasses in the county. The earliest Essex brass is that of Sir William Fitzralph at Pebmarsh (c. 1323). The best C14 brasses are the splendid, 6 ft long figure of c. 1350 at Bowers Gifford, the elegant small figures of c. 1347 in the head of a foliated cross at Wimbish, and the figures in architectural surrounds of 1370 at Aveley and 1380 at Chrishall. The best of the later  brasses is at Wivenhoe. The whole plate here is as large as 9 ft. Of alabaster monuments the finest by far is that of the Fitzwalters of Little Dunmow, a piece of sculpture of really high quality, a thing not frequent amongst English C15 funeral monuments. Of canopies over monuments the most sumptuous belong to the Dec style. They are at Shalford and Belchamp Walter (1324). Of the many tomb-chests under Perp canopies only the following can here be noted: the wrongly so-called cenotaph of John Hawkwood at Sible Hedingham (1394?), the Bourchier tomb at Halstead (1400), and the Webbe monument at Dedham. The type remains the same, when Renaissance ornament appears. The appearance of this can be dated almost precisely in Essex. It is connected with Lord Marney’s rebuilding of his mansion at Layer Marney about 1520 and the monuments erected to him and his son after their deaths in 1523 and 1525.....

Even in churches it can be observed that the timber technique of the Gothic style was not yet abandoned. Ramsey, Chipping Ongar, and Manningtree have roofs of the late C16 or early C17 which, though in details Jacobean, are basically Perp. Ramsey and Chipping Ongar are collarbeam roofs, Manningtree is a hammerbeam roof. At Manningtree, which is dated 1616, also Perp windows can still be seen, and other examples of this ‘Gothic Survival’ have been mentioned a few pages earlier. To these may here be added the wholly pre-Renaissance W tower of Waltham Abbey dated 1556-8 and the complete little brick church of 1611-14 at Theydon Mount in the grounds of Hill Hall. The porch here has a shaped gable. The chancel at Ramsey on the other hand, dated 1597, has large transomed windows of an entirely Elizabethan domestic character. The coming of the classical style is marked - as stated already - by the introduction of arched windows in the brick N chapel of Stapleford Abbots, which is dated 1638. While churches of between the mid C16 and the mid C17 are rare in Essex and everywhere in the country, church monuments are frequent, so frequent that selection must be arbitrary. The coming of the Renaissance has already been noted at Layer Marney (1523). The tomb-lid and effigy here is of touch, i.e. black marble. This instance was followed by that of a work-shop working in the same material and providing the monuments to the Earl of Oxford 1539 at Castle Hedingham, Lord Audley 1544 at Saffron Walden and Lord North at Kirtling, Cambridgeshire 1564. The same workshop presumably made the tomb-chest to Prior Vyvyan at Bodmin in Cornwall who died in 1533. Tomb-chests remain one of the usual types of monuments throughout the C16, see the alabaster tomb of the Earls of Sussex at Boreham, 1589, with recumbent effigies. Brasses on the other hand tend to disappear, although there is the exceptional, large brass-plate to Archbishop Harsnett at Chigwell, which dates from as late as 1631. The most popular new type is the hanging wall monument with a kneeling figure or two kneeling figures facing each other across a prayer-desk. Of this there are examples all over the county. The only one that will delight the eye is that of 1619 at Woodham Ferrers where the figure kneels against an arbour carved in relief. The most usual expensive monument is the direct continuation of the Perp canopy tomb. The tomb-chest is kept and the canopy has assumed a round-arched form usually with flanking columns, and achievements or obelisks instead of the former cresting. To this type belong the monuments of the Smiths of Hill Hall at Theydon Mount. The finest sculptural quality is reached in Epiphanius Evesham’s Lord Rich monument at Felsted of c. 1620. An equally sumptuous display is that for Sir Thomas Middleton, Lord Mayor of London, 1631, at Stansted Mountfitchet. The figures on the tomb-chests are now more often semi-reclining than recumbent, that is as a rule stiffly propped up on an elbow. This is still to be found as late as 1658 at Orsett and 1668 at Theydon Mount. Another attempt at achieving more variety than the couples of the C15 lying side by side on a tomb-chest had permitted is the odd custom of placing the husband on a shelf behind and above his wife. This appears at St Osyth c. 1580, Waltham Abbey 1599, Great Waltham 1614, and Little Warley as late as 1641. Another fashionable Elizabethan type of major funeral monument is the six-poster. The Essex examples are at Borley (1599) and at Arkesden (1592). The effigy of Robert Wiseman 1641 at Willingale Doe lies in a recess behind three columns - a halved six-poster. Of special motifs or special types of the C16 little need be said. Monuments at Gosfield of 1554 and 1567 are still entirely Gothic in detail, but at Little Sampford in 1556 (Sir Edward Greene) the strapwork, termini pilasters, and so on of the new Netherlandish fashion which was to replace the Italo-French fashion of the Early Renaissance are already in command. The Mildmay monument at Chelmsford, 1571, is of a type which seems wholly original. It has steep triangular and rounded pediments and no effigy at all.

New types appear about 1630, and in a few monuments of that date a freedom of composition begins to make itself felt which heralds the age after the Restoration. A popular new type in Essex is the frontal demi-figure. At Abbess Roding (1633) angels hold a curtain open behind the figure, at Walthamstow two figures are side by side in oval niches (1633). The Walthamstow monument is by Nicholas Stone, the best English sculptor of his generation. At Writtle (1629) is another monument by him which conception and delicacy of carving is far above the current English standard. Frontal busts in niches had quite a vogue at that time, see Barking 1636, Dedham 1636, Clavering 1653,Fingringhoe 1655, Clavering 1658, and also, without niches, Leigh 1641 and Hempstead 1667. This last represents William Harvey and is an excellent likeness as well as an excellent work of sculpture. Seated whole figures also appear now, although more rarely; at East Donyland 1613, and at Barking 1625, where Sir Charles Montague is placed inside a tent with an eve-of-the-battle scene by his side. Finally there is the short craze for shrouded figures, caused, it seems, by Nicholas Stone’s upright figure of John Donne at St Paul’s Cathedral. This is immediately reflected in the figure of Lady Deane at Great Maplestead (1634). Semi-reclining figures in shrouds are at Shenfield (1652) and Little Warley (1658).

This survey has taken us to about 1660. Contemporary internal church furnishings need no more than a sentence or two: the numerous pulpits of the earlier C17, the best being perhaps that of Great Baddow 1639; (also Stondon Massey 1630, and Bardfield Saling), the stalls and the van Linge glass in the chancel at Messing, and the church plate of which there is a great deal – for instance 123 Elizabethan cups. The best pieces however are later. The secular Jacobean cups at Berden and Gosfield, the repoussé dishes of 1630 at Great Sampford and Hempstead, and the Irish chalice of 1633 at St Mary-at-Walls Colchester are the choice of the Royal Commission.....

Georgian churches must take their place with these minor achievements of the age. Not one survives in Essex - at least not completely - which could be called a major work of architecture. The reservation refers to Robert Adam’s church at Mistley of 1776, an enlargement of a plain brick preaching house of 1735. Adam added the two spectacular towers with their domes, at the W and the E ends and porticoes in the middle of the sides - an utterly unorthodox and indeed ritually doubtful composition of which only the two towers remain. The only other churches of interest are Ingrave of 1735, in the Hawksmoor style, and Wanstead of 1790, a noble neo-classical building of 1790 by Thomas Hardwick which is especially worthwhile in its interior. Otherwise there are a number of plain re-built W towers (Toppesfield 1699, Bradwell 1706, Woodford 1708, Terling 1732), a number of pretty cupolas set up on towers (Little Waltham 1679, Chelmsford 1749, and more in the Halstead-Bardfield area [9], the delicious mid C18 interior remodelling of Lambourne and – much more common - a number of plain unassuming brick naves (Colchester St Peter, Kelvedon Hatch 1753, Shellow Bowells 1754). These are in no essential way different from the early Nonconformist  chapels of Essex of which many remain. The Baptists for example have C18 chapels at Saffron Walden - that of 1744 is simply a cottage, that of 1792 a modest chapel of the accepted type - and at Harlow (1756; distinguished by a doorway with a big domestic-looking scrolly pediment). The Congregational Chapel of 1811 at Saffron Walden has already the more ambitious and worldly C19 type with a portico. The Friends Meeting House at Terling dates back to the late C17, that at Great Bardfield with its secluded graveyard to 1804, and the larger more urban one at Chelmsford to 1826. The Gothick fashion was as ineffectual in Essex churches and chapels as in domestic buildings. The only instances that must be recorded are the following four: first Dagenham 1800 with an ignorant, crazy, and very entertaining facade, and the octagonal chancel at Debden 1793. The pattern, it is said, which the architect, probably Holland’s brother Richard, wished to imitate was the York chapter house. The same pattern inspired Mason of Norwich in 1838 at East Donyland, quite an interesting design of its date. Finally John Johnson restored and partly rebuilt Chelmsford church (the present cathedral) in 1801-3 to the original Perp design, but with piers of Coade stone.

Coade stone, that artificial stone, made by Coade and Seely in Lambeth in the late C18, which was so fashionable for domestic exteriors, even entered the field of church furnishings in Essex. Two Coade stone tombs survive, at Debden (1786) and Chelmsford (1801-3) [10]. Another Gothick font, with a miniature painting of the Baptism of Christ, is at Birdbrook (1793). Other noteworthy late C17 and C18 church furnishings are as follows: the font, font-cover, and reredos from Wren’s All Hallows Great Thames Street in London in a chapel at Halstead, the font from St Mary-le-Bow by Wren at Westcliff, a number of fine pulpits of c. 1700 with garlands down the angles, for example at Thaxted, and the screen at Roxwell made from the organ case of 1684 at Durham Cathedral, a good early C18 reredos at Hatfield Broad Oak. Communion rails with twisted balusters are a very common Essex feature. Of the late C18 the best piece by far is the large and noble pulpit in Wanstead Church of c. 1795. Several earlier pulpits have wrought-iron hour-glass stands attached to them. There are about ten of these preserved. In most other counties they are rarer. If of secular C18 work the wall paintings by Thornhill at Bower House, Havering-atte-Bower and the wrought-iron gates from Easton Lodge now in Little Easton church are mentioned that is all that need be said.

Church monuments of c. 1660 - c. 1830 on the other hand deserve further treatment. If space permitted at least two dozen would here have to be mentioned and placed. All that can be said is this. The mid C17 type with two demi-figures holding hands is still preserved in the Wiseman monument of 1684 at Great Canfield (attributed to W. Stanton), though the two figures are now placed beneath a big segmental pediment. Another yet later frontal demi-figure is at Barking: 1706; the attitude has an elegance all of the C18. The successor of this type is that, where a life-size bust, just like those in libraries etc., is made the centre of the composition. This appears in Essex in 1692 (monument at Arkesden by Edward Pearce) and reaches its acme in such monuments as those at Barking of 1737, at Writtle of 1740, at Pleshey of 1750 and at Barking again of 175 3. The latter three of these are respectively by Sir Henry Cheeve, Rysbrack, and Roubiliac. The semi-reclining figure also goes on into the C18, getting in the course of the years more and more comfortable and less and less religious. Examples are at Little Sampford (1712), Steeple Bumpstead (1717 by Thomas Stayner), and Little Chesterford (1728).

But the new, most ambitious and clearly least religious type c. 1700 is that which has the figure of the deceased standing, life-size in the middle, in the clothes he wore or in heroic Roman dress. The type can be called a home counties speciality, cf. for example such Hertfordshire monuments as those at Sawbridgeworth of 1689 and Knebworth of 1710. In Essex the grandest of all is that of Sir Josiah Child at Wanstead, attributed by Mrs Esdaile to John van Ost or Nost. The date is 1699. Earlier than this are the standing figures on the Foot monument at West Ham (1688), the Alibon monument at Dagenham (1688), and the Maynard monument at Little Easton (probably by Pearce). The type goes on at Leyton (c. 1703), Walthamstow (1723), Rettendon (1727), West Ham (1743), and Little Easton (1746, by Charles Stanley). The same kind of arrogance appears in the life-size seated figures at Colchester (Rebow 1699), Gosfield (Knight  1756 by Rysbrack), and Faulkbourne (Bullock 1759). Of the type with large allegories there is only one example: the Magens monument of 1779 at Brightlingsea. The Faulkbourne monument is by Peter Scheemakers, the Brightlingsea monument by  lesser-known Nicholas Read. Other named monuments of before 1770 are as follows (in alphabetical order): Thomas Adye Little Dunmow 1753, Cheere Great Baddow 1753, James Lovell Chelmsford 1756 (big, without effigy), N. Hodges 1746, Pearce see above, Read see above, Roubiliac see above, and also Hempstead 1758 (two profile medallions against obelisk) and Earls Colne 1761, Rysbrack see above, H. Scheemakers Wicken Bonhunt 1731, P. Scheemakers see above, Stanley see above, W. Stanton see above, Stayner see above, Sir Robert Taylor Woodford 1742 (a column in the churchyard), and W. Tyler Finchingfield 1766 (also St Osyth 1773).

After 1770 signatures on funeral monuments become more and more the rule. Wilton appears once at Lambourne in 1778, Nollekens twice, at East Horndon in 1766 and at Chipping Ongar in 1776, John Bacon twice, at Woodford in 1783 and Great Yeldham in 1799, J Hickey once at Leyton in 1787, and Flaxman four times, at Hornchurch in 1784, at Leyton in 1807 and 1813, and at Hatfield Broad Oak in 1816.

The younger generation is represented by three monuments by John Bacon jnr., two by Chantrey, and by Rossi, and four by Westmacott. Still later, i .e. Early Victorian, the works contributed to Essex churches by Behnes, Baily, and J. Edwards. As for minor names, all the successful monumental masons of London seem to have had Essex jobs (Clark of Wigmore Street, Cooke, Gaffin, Garrard, Hinchcliffe, Kendrick, Moore, Regnart, Rouw), and in addition on the one hand so distant a firm as King of Bath and on the other the local masons of Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, and Stratford.

With all this the threshold of the Victorian Age is reached. The chief Victorian contribution to Essex is of course the growth of London until the town filled the whole SW corner of the county. Of that something has already been said. C19 industrialization and urbanization in other parts of Essex have not done much damage. Individual architectural events in the county are on the whole minor. The cavalcade of styles imitated one after another takes place here as everywhere - the Neo-Norman fashion for instance affecting church design about 1840 [11] and the names of the leading Victorianchurch architects appear here and there. But none of their foremost works are in Essex. Sir George Gilbert Scott, when he was young, designed the Neo Jacobean workhouses of Billericay and Great Dunmow, then in 1843 the equally big, equally Jacobean Royal Wanstead School and also in 1843 Holy Trinity Halstead as the first work in Essex of the learned and anaemic archeological revival of Gothic church architecture, and later St Nicholas Colchester and St John Wanstead. High Victorian at its grossest, and at the same time - an unlikely combination - at its most Ruskinesque is represented by Clarke’s former Royal Orphan Asylum at Snaresbrook, Wanstead of 1861. Just as gross is the fabulously insensitive completion of the E end of Waltham Abbey by Burges in 1859. Teulon is another architect who revels in the masculine ugliness of which the High Victorian style was capable, see his church of 1861 at Silvertown. Arthur Blomfield also began in this vein (St John Colchester 1864), but soon turned to smoother, more correct and less robust forms (Chingford 1903; an excellent job of the completion of an indifferent church of 1899). This sensitive and tactful fag end of archeologically faithful Gothicism is also shown in Brooks’s church at Southend (1888) and Bodley & Garner’s at Epping (1889). The latest Victorian and Edwardian tendency to break away from imitation and revive once again originality is as a rule less noticeable in churches than in domestic work. But Lee’s church at Brentwood (1882-90) has some curious details and treatments of surfaces which herald the wilful things that E. S. Prior was soon to perpetrate. Caroe’s tower at Stansted Mountfitchet of 1895 introduces all kinds of Arts and Crafts or Art Nouveau motifs into his Perp, Sir Charles Nicholson’s early church at Westcliff (1898) shows already some of his elegance in the handling of period elements, Temple Moore at Clacton-on-Sea to combine an earnest Perp exterior with an interior, half round-arched and half pointed-arched, and Townsend at Great Warley in 1904 adopts without qualms Voysey’s domestic rough-casting and other motifs for church use.

Charles F. A. Voysey was the leading figure among the architects of private houses about 1900, and his comfortable and free treatment of Tudor elements in roughcast with horizontal windows, low picturesque roofs, and sloping buttresses appears at its prettiest at The Homestead, Frinton-on-Sea, of 1905. But Voysey only continued what had been begun as early as about 1860 by William Morris and his friend Philip Webb on the one hand, and by Norman Shaw on the other. Morris himself was chiefly responsible for the reform in design. He and his friends, chiefly Burne-Jones, worked for tiles and wallpapers, textiles and stained glass, and so on ever since Morris had founded his firm in 1861. Burne-Jones as a designer of stained glass can be seen in Essex at his very best. His E window at Waltham Abbey of about 1860 is as bold, as vigorous and unsentimental as anything achieved in the C19. Good somewhat later Burne-Jones glass, made by Morris’s firm, exists also at Frinton-on-Sea. Of the other leading glass artists of those years Henry Holiday can also be seen at Waltham Abbey with early work of the highest quality (1864), and early Kempe windows are at St John’s Moulsham, Chelmsford (1879).

[1] I don’t think this is true: Essex has 6 (Bardfield Saling,Broomfield, Great Leighs, Lamarsh, South Ockenden and Pentlow) and 6 out of 529 churches hardly constitutes “a speciality”. Of about 185 surviving examples in the country, 124 are in Norfolk, 38 in Suffolk, 3 in Sussex and 2 each in Cambridgeshire and Berkshire – 10 are unaccounted for so I assume that they’re either ruins or in Scotland or Wales.
[2] Continued in the C13 at Braintree. The remaining piers of Little Dunmow Priory make one regret the destruction of the rest of the late C12 work there.
[3] The refectory at Prittlewell has pointed trefoil windows.
[4] The introduction of such highly ornamental south chapels is incidentally a speciality worth studying in other counties as well.
[5] As a postscript the much restored church of Little Maplestead must be mentioned. It belonged to the Hospitallers and had therefore a circular nave, in imitation of the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. It is one of five churches with circular naves in England.
[6] To this Theydon Garnon is to be added; but the arcade here is of 1614.
[7] Cf. also the arcade to the chancel chapel at Ingatestone.
[8] This is plainly bollocks and he contradicts himself viz Little Dunmow, Saffron Walden and Pebmarsh to name but three and as an afterthought how about Felsted?.
[9] Such cupolas were of course already a feature of English architecture at amuch earlier date, see for instance Clock House, Great Dunmow of c. 1600.
[10] This is incorrect: Debden is the font and Chelmsford is the S arcade.
[11] St James the Less Colchester 1837 by Scales, St Botolph Colchester 1838 by Mason, Holy Trinity Chelmsford 1843 by J. Adie Repton, St John Loughton 1846 by S. Smirke.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ride & Stride

I decided to take advantage of the annual Essex Ride & Stride day to revisit, having checked that they were taking part in the day, four churches that I've always found LNK - Takeley, Great & Little Hallingbury and Farnham. Of the four the first three were locked and Farnham appears to be now regularly open (or so the sign in the porch seems to imply but I'm slightly sceptical since I've never found it open on numerous visits).

Now I'm not one to rant but given that, apart from raising huge amounts of money for church conservation, one of the purposes of this event is that it "opens the doors to some of Britain’s most rare and unusual churches, chapels and meeting houses" (I readily admit that none of the four could be described as rare or unusual)  but I hope, given the half hearted participation of the first three, that if they ever approach FoECT for a grant they're told to bugger off.

Monday, 2 December 2013

District statistics

As a slight afterthought: I suppose having spent an age semi posthumously breaking down visits into the Essex districts I ought to publish the results, although I doubt anyone will be too surprised by them.

Drumroll and big reveal:

Epping Forest
Barking & Dagenham
Southend on Sea
Castle Point
Waltham Forest

And now it really is - and so to bed.