An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1916.
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37. HALSTEAD RURAL. (E.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xvi. S.E. (b)xvii. S.W. (c)xxv. N.E. (d)xxvi. N.W.)
Halstead Rural is a civil parish surrounding the urban parish of Halstead. The principal monuments are Stanstead Hall, Gladfen Hall, and Bluebridge House.
b (1). Stanstead Hall, house, foundations, barn and moat nearly 1½ m. S.S.E. of Halstead parish church (see Plate, p. xxiv). The House is of two storeys with attics and cellar, and the walls are of brick with imitation dressings of plaster; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 16th century, and is part of a larger building, of which only a long rectangular range remains; originally there was a wing at the W. end of the N. front. At the W. end of the house, and at the W. end of the S. side, are modern additions.
The N. Front has a plinth of moulded brick, two string-courses dividing the storeys, and three curvilinear gables. On each floor the original windows are of brick, covered with plaster, partly modern, and of two and three lights, with moulded jambs and four-centred arches under square heads with moulded labels; on the first floor the windows have transoms. The doorway has 16th-century jambs of moulded clunch, a four-centred arch with a modern keystone, and an original door with moulded fillets, all re-set; W. of it are traces of an original doorway, now blocked; at the W. end of the front are two original doorways with four-centred arches, now blocked, which opened into the former wing. On the S. Elevation are three original projecting chimney-stacks with octagonal shafts; between the two western stacks is an original gard-robe, now a staircase; re-set in the gable is a 16th-century window of three lights with four-centred heads. W. of the modern wing and partly covered by it is a similar original window. The E. End of the main block has at each angle an octagonal turret with modern tops and finials; the curvilinear gable between the turrets is modern. The W. End has apparently been rebuilt.
Interior.—On the ground floor the room at the E. end of the main block, probably the kitchen, has two original fireplaces side by side, each with a four-centred head and stop-chamfered jambs. The next room has exposed beams in the ceiling and in two of the walls; the modern fireplace is flanked by early 16th-century moulded posts, said to have been brought from Norwich; there is an original panelled door leading to the cellar stairs. The entrance-hall has heavy ceiling-beams and is lined with late 16th or early 17th-century panelling brought from a room on the first floor; a cupboard door has late 16th-century cock's-head hinges; two windows in the N. wall have eleven original quarries with flower and foliage-designs; they were found in the S.W. window on the first floor when it was unblocked. In the room W. of the hall, in the E. partition wall, are traces of an original doorway, now blocked. On the first floor, in the staircase wing, is an original doorway with a four-centred head; and another original doorway has moulded jambs and a four-centred arch in a square head with sunk spandrels; in it is an original battened door. The E. room has a dado of late 16th or early 17th-century panelling, said to have been brought from the destroyed wing.
Foundations, N. of the house, indicate the former existence of the N. wing, and, further towards the E., of a small building of uncertain date with thick walls of flint and pebble rubble. A number of worked stones have been dug up near the house; they include a stone of a 15th or early 16th-century window jamb, pieces of chamfered mullions and sills, and the Purbeck marble capital of a small shaft of late 13th-century date. The stones are now lying loose on the ground N.W. of the house.
The Barn, S. of the house, is of eleven bays with aisles. The walls are timber-framed and weather-boarded; the roof is tiled. It was built probably in the 15th century. In the roof are original king-post trusses somewhat damaged and restored.
The Moat is complete, and has remains of brick revetments; there are also remains of a bridge on the E. side.
Condition—Of house and barn, good.
d (2). Clavering's Farm, house, and moat, 2½ m. S. of the parish church. The House is of two storeys; the walls are of plastered timberframing; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably in the 17th century, but was much altered in the 18th or 19th century. Inside the building, one room has exposed ceiling-beams, and the doorway to the staircase has a door of original oak panelling.
The Moat is complete.
Condition—Of house, good.
a (3). Gladfen Hall, about 1½ m. S.S.W. of the parish church, is of two storeys; the walls are of plastered timber-framing; the roofs are tiled. It was built late in the 16th century, apparently on a rectangular plan with a small staircase wing in the middle of the E. side. Early in the 17th century a rectangular block was added at the E. end, but it has been reduced in size and has modern additions on the N. side, at the E. end, and at the W. end of the S. side. The original chimney-stack has two hexagonal shafts with square caps and moulded bases on a rectangular base with a moulded capping. Inside the building in both the old blocks are chamfered ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, except the original chimney-stack, which is to be rebuilt.
b (4). Bluebridge House, and outbuilding, 1 m. S.E. of the parish church. The House is of two storeys with attics and cellars; the walls are partly of brick and partly of plastered timberframing; the roofs are tiled. The present structure, built in 1714, incorporates the remains of a building apparently of early 17th-century date. The porch is probably of the 18th century, and there are modern additions on the E. side and at the S. end.
The W. Front is of red and blue brick, and is divided by narrow brick pilasters into three bays, the middle bay being about half the width of the side bays. There is a plain string-course between the storeys, and a modern cornice. Over the porch is a panel bearing the arms of the Butchers' Company carved in relief, the date 1714, and the name John Morley. The windows have early 18th-century sash-frames nearly flush with the wall.
The N. and S. Elevations, also of brick, have each two modern gables. In the middle of the S. elevation is an early 18th-century doorway with a moulded wooden hood surmounted by a pediment.
The E. Elevation is almost entirely of plastered timber-framing of the 17th century.
Interior—The N.W. room on the ground floor has two intersecting ceiling-beams and a cornice which is returned round them; the walls are covered with early 18th-century painted deal panelling. Another room is lined with early 17th-century panelling re-set, and a cupboard near the central chimney-stack has an early 17th-century panelled door. The staircase is of early 18th-century date; it has widely spaced twisted balusters with a moulded handrail and string; some of the balusters are missing and the newels appear to be modern. On both floors the rooms E. of the central chimney-stack are apparently of the 17th century, and have chamfered ceiling-beams. Under the S.W. room on the ground floor is a cellar, also probably part of the earlier building. On the first floor are two 17th-century panelled doors, one with original hinges; and in a cupboard is some panelling of the same date. Preserved in the house are six panels made up of fragments of stained glass of various dates, including:—shields or cartouches of the arms of Winthorp impaling Clopton (differenced); Symonds; Symonds impaling Elliott and Symonds impaling Quarles; all early 17th-century; also crowned Tudor rose, and crowned fleur de lis, both with the initials E.R., late 16th-century; another fragment with arms; also fragments of figures, including that of St. Paul, late 15th-century.
The low brick Wall dividing the front garden from the road was built probably in 1714. It is surmounted by a fine wrought-iron railing, and in the middle is an iron gate with the initials J. M. (John Morley). Flanking the steps at the entrance are two carved marble consoles, said to be of foreign workmanship.
The Outbuilding, S.W. of the house, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of red brick with some diaper work in purple brick. It was built probably in 1714.
Condition—Of house, outbuilding and wall, good.
The following monuments, if not otherwise described, are of the 17th century, and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams, wide fireplaces and original chimney-stacks.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
b (5). Dungeon Farm, house, 800 yards S.E. of Stanstead Hall, is of half-H-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. The middle block was built in the 15th century and apparently consisted of a large Hall; the wings were added in the 16th century, and in the 17th century a chimney-stack and partitions were inserted in the Hall.
The 17th-century open fireplace, with fine wrought-iron crane and hook is of interest.
On the S. and W. Elevations is some modern weather-boarding and brick. Inside the building, on the ground floor, the 17th-century chimney retains the wide open fireplace with the original ornamental crane and hook of wrought iron. In the W. wall of the W. wing is a 16th-century window, now blocked, of five lights with diamond-shaped mullions. On the first floor are two 17th-century doors.
d (6). Cottage, now three tenements, ½ m. S.S.W. of Stanstead Hall, with a modern addition at the N.E. end. At the S.W. end the upper storey projects and is supported by exposed joists.
d (7). House, now four tenements, on the W. side of the road, ¾ m. S.S.W. of Stanstead Hall, was built late in the 16th century, on a rectangular plan with a small projection at the N. end of the W. side. At the back are modern additions. On the E. front are three projecting gables supported by two shaped brackets and a bressumer with remains of a moulded fascia; the gables have original moulded barge-boards; at the apex of the middle gable is a much weathered pendant. Inside the building, in the W. wall, of the first floor, is an original window, with a moulded mullion, now blocked. In the S. tenement is an original door, and in the middle tenement a piece of old panelling, re-used.
d (8). Rivenshall Farm, house, 200 yards W. of (7), was built early in the 16th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the W. and N. On the N. side and at the W. end of the W. wing are modern additions. The two original chimney-stacks have attached octagonal shafts. On the E. elevation are two 17th-century windows each of three transomed lights with metal casements. Inside the building, on the ground floor, in the S.W. room one of the ceiling-beams is supported by an octagonal wall-post standing on a stone base; the octagonal capital and base are moulded, the top member of the capital has been nailed on and does not appear to be original; in the W. wall is an original window, now blocked, of six lights with moulded jambs and mullions; the fireplace is original and has chamfered jambs and a three-centred arch under a square head. Under the W. staircase is a cupboard with a 17th-century door. On the first floor, in the W. room is an original window, now blocked, of similar detail to the blocked window on the ground floor.
d (9). Pitt's Farm, cottage, at Burton's Green, ¾ m. S.E. of (8), with a modern addition at the E. end.
c (10). Plaistow Green Farm, cottage, at Plaistow Green, ¼ m. S.W. of (3), is of two storeys with cellars. It was built early in the 16th century; at the S.W. end is a 17th-century chimney-stack and at the back is a modern addition. On the N.W. front the upper storey projects, and has curved brackets. Inside the building, on the ground floor, one side of the S.W. room has an original moulded wall-plate. In the S.E. wall of the N.E. room is an original doorway, with a four-centred head, now blocked; in the N.E. wall are two small original recesses with four-centred heads.
c (11). Simnel's Farm, house, 800 yards W.S.W. of (10), is of two storeys with attics. The original plan has been obscured by 18th and 19th-century alterations.
a (12). Highwood's Farm, house, 1¼ m. N.N.W. of (11), was built c. 1600 on a T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the N.E. end; there are extensive 18th-century and modern additions on the S.E. and N.W. sides.
b (13). Snowden Fen, house, now two tenements, ½ m. E. of the parish church, has been re-fronted with modern brick.
The Colchester Road, S.W. side
b (14). The King's Head Inn, ½ m. E.S.E. of the parish church. The S.W. corner, probably originally the kitchen, is of one storey.
b (15). Brickbarn Farm, house, now two tenements, and barn, ¼ m. S.E. of (14). The House is of two storeys with cellar and attics. It was built early in the 17th century, on a rectangular plan with a slight projection at the N.W. end of the N.E. front; later in the same century a wing was built at the N.W. end of the S.W. side. In the 18th century another wing was added at the S.E. end of the same side, and has modern additions. The projection on the N.E. front is gabled. The original central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts partly rebuilt.
Inside the building, on the ground floor, the E. room has original moulded ceiling-beams. There are two original panelled doors; one of them was formerly external, and has six panels surmounted by an ogee-headed panel in a square head; the two fine wrought-iron hinges have heads of fleur de lis form. Near the staircase in the S.E. tenement is a piece of original panelling; at the head of the staircase is an original window, of three lights with moulded mullions, now blocked. At the head of the staircase to the attic is a similar window of two lights, also blocked.
The Barn, N.W. of the house, is of red and blue brick, built early in the 18th century. It is of five bays, and the middle bay projects towards the S.W. The walls have a plinth, and slightly projecting pilasters at the angles and along the side walls marking the bays. Inside the building the tie-beams are supported by wall-posts resting on corbels.
Condition—Some cracks in the walls of the barn.