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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8. BELCHAMP WALTER. (F.a.)
c (1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands on the S.E. side of the parish. The walls are of flint rubble partly covered with plaster, the dressings are of stone; the roofs are tiled. The Chancel was built in the first half of the 13th century. c. 1330 the Nave was rebuilt and a chantry-chapel or tomb-recess added on the N. side. The West Tower was added about the middle of the 15th century, and in the second half of the same century the South Porch was built. In the 16th century the projecting tomb-recess or chantry-chapel was removed. The church was restored in the 19th century, when the E. wall and the chancel-arch were rebuilt, the E. wall now standing further E. than its predecessor.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (23¼ ft. by 16 ft.) has a modern E. window. In the N. wall are two windows; the eastern is of one round-headed light, only partly old and of uncertain date; the western window is a 13th-century lancet, the sill has been removed and the opening cut down to the floor to form a modern doorway. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern is a 13th-century lancet, and the western window is modern; below it are remains of the splays of a lancet window or a doorway. The chancel-arch is modern.
The Nave (63¾ ft. by 30½ ft.) has a moulded external string-course below the window sills. In the N. wall near the E. end is an archway (see Fittings) opening into the former tomb-recess or chantry-chapel, and now blocked with 16th-century brickwork, which has a moulded plinth of stone; foundations of the W. wall of the chapel remain outside, level with the ground. There are two windows in the N. wall; the eastern is of the 16th century, and is set in the blocking of the archway; it is of moulded and plastered brick, and of four plain lights under a square head; the western window is of c. 1330, and of three cinquefoiled lights with intersecting tracery under a two-centred head. Further W. is the 14th-century N. doorway, now blocked; the jambs and two-centred arch are of two moulded orders. In the S. wall are two windows of the same date and similar detail to the western window in the N. wall. Between them is the S. doorway, which is similar to the N. doorway, but is not blocked, and has a moulded label.
The West Tower (12¼ ft. square) is of the 15th century, and of three stages, with a moulded plinth and embattled parapet, both enriched with flint and stone checker-work; the plinths of the two western buttresses have each a quatrefoiled panel with a plain shield; the N.E. stair-turret is finished at the top with 16th-century brick and supports a modern cupola with an early 18th-century weather-vane of wrought iron. The tower-arch is two-centred and of three chamfered orders, the two outer orders continuous, and the inner resting on semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and bases; on each side of the arch, on the E. face of the wall, is a square cusped panel which has an embattled cornice, and encloses a shield with arms wrongly painted in the 17th or 18th century—(a) three water bougets quartering three bulls' heads razed sable; (b) sable a cheveron argent between three eagles argent and a chief argent with three martlets sable therein, for Raymond, quartering or a cheveron sable between three crosses paty sable, for Sterne of Essendon. In the N. wall, opening into the stair-turret, is a doorway with chamfered jambs and four-centred arch. The W. window has been partly restored; it has three cinquefoiled ogee lights with a transom and tracery in a four-centred head under a moulded label. The second stage has, in each of the N., S., and W. walls, a window of one trefoiled light; below the window in the W. wall are three square panels in a moulded frame; two of the panels are cusped and enclose blank shields. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window of two cinquefoiled lights in a four-centred head with remains of a moulded label.
The South Porch is of the 15th century, and is timber-framed on a brick base. The outer entrance has double-hollow-chamfered posts with arched brackets supporting the lintel; the gable has a moulded beam at the base, and foiled barge-boards. The E. and W. walls are each of two bays, divided by a post with art attached semi-octagonal shaft from which springs the brace of the tie-beam; each bay has a window formerly divided into lights by diagonal mullions; only one of them is original, and many are missing.
The Roof of the chancel is of the trussed-rafter type, plastered on the soffit and having moulded wall-plates of the 15th century. The roof of the nave is of a similar type and also plastered. The ground stage of the tower has large flat ceiling-beams of the 15th century. The 15th-century roof of the porch has two cambered and hollow-chamfered tie-beams, with curved braces, one king-post with four-way struts, and one with a single strut and a central purlin; the wall-plates are moulded and embattled.
Fittings—Bells: eight and clock-bell; 5th by Thomas Gardiner, 1712; clock-bell, uninscribed. Bell-frame, old. Brasses and Indents. Indents: In nave—(1) of figure probably of priest in cope, large canopy with small shields, 15th-century, much worn; (2) of two figures, one in armour, elaborate canopy, inscription plate and four shields, 15th-century. Chest: In tower—of oak, painted, with three-sided lid, three locks and handle at each end, shaped feet, probably late 17th-century. Doors: In N. doorway—(1) of studded battens with strap-hinges, probably 16th-century. In S. doorway—(2) similar to that in N. doorway, but partly restored. In doorway of turret-staircase—(3) with frame in two panels, planted on, 15th-century. Font: (see Plate, p. xxix) circular tapering bowl with band of interlacing ornament, divided by small round and twisted shafts, early 12th-century, top cut down, base modern. Glass: In nave—in S.W. window, quarries with flowerdesign, 14th century. Monuments: In nave—in N. wall (see Plate, p. 20), (1) said to be to Sir John Boutetort, 1324 or 1325, and Maude (Fitz-Otes) his wife, arched recess probably forming canopy for former altar tomb and entrance to former chantry-chapel, moulded and two-centred arch, cinquefoiled, sub-cusped and carved with foliage and flowers, points of main cusps carved with grotesques, and on main spandrels four shields of arms alternately, (a) a saltire engrailed, for Boutetort, and (b) bendy with a quarter, for Fitz-Otes; crocketed and moulded label with carved finial, moulded responds carved with foliage; arch flanked by square panelled buttresses with panelled, gabled and crocketed pinnacles, on buttresses numerous small shields of arms including Boutetort, Fitz-Otes, Boutetort with a label of five points, Fitz-Otes impaling Boutetort, and quarterly a bend, for Beauchamp; at back of arch, moulded and carved springers of vaulted roof of former chapel, or canopy of tomb, springing from semi-circular vaulting shafts with moulded capitals. In churchyard—S. of nave, (2) to Anne, wife of Robert Ray, 1712, head and foot-stones. Paintings: In nave—traces, on whole of N. and S. walls; on N. wall, two tiers of subjects enclosed in horizontal bands of ornament, early 15th-century, much defaced, also lower down, traces of texts in black-letter, palimpsest; on S. wall, traces, including large circular border, probably of a 'wheel of fortune,' ornamented with roundels. Recess: (see Monuments). Miscellanea: In second stage of tower—candlebox and holder of wood, top and back covered with metal, back dated 1673.
c (4). Stone and Marble Fragments, built into the gate-piers of Belchamp Hall, 100 yards N.N.W. of the church. The fragments include portions of 12th and 15th-century shafts, some with moulded and carved capitals, carved diaper work, and two marble shields of early 16th century date, both—a cheveron between three eagles, a chief (defaced) impaling a cheveron between three crosses paty, for Philip Raymond of Hunsdon and Agnes (Sterne) his wife.
b (5). St. Mary Hall, 1¾ m. W.S.W. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. The kitchen wing, standing almost detached S.E. of the main building, was built late in the 15th century. Late in the 16th century the main structure was built on an H-shaped plan with the cross-wings on the N. and S. There is a modern addition between the wings on the E., and a small addition on the W., also between the wings. The late 16th-century chimney-stack at the S. end of the S. wing has three octagonal shafts, on a rectangular base with a moulded capping. Inside the building, the rooms on the ground floor of the main structure have chamfered ceiling-beams, except one room, which has moulded beams. The ground floor of the kitchen-wing has heavy chamfered ceiling-beams and flat joists; the upper storey has an original king-post roof-truss, with two-way struts and curved braces to the tie-beam. Under the staircase in the same wing is an original door of studded and moulded battens.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century, and of two storevs, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Many of the buildings have original chimney-stacks, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.
b (6). Hopkin's Farm, house, about 1¾ m. W.S.W. of the church, was built in the 15th century, on the mediæval plan with a central Hall, a Buttery on the N., and a Solar on the S. side. Early in the 17th century the Hall was divided into two floors, and the central chimney-stack was inserted. There is a modern addition on the E. side. The early 17th-century central chimney-stack has four engaged octagonal shafts. Inside the building are remains of an original king-post truss over the Hall; it has a steeply cambered tie-beam with curved braces.
c (8). Rippingale's Farm, house, about ¾ m. W.N.W. of the church. The E. front has two projecting gables, each with original moulded and carved bressumer and shaped brackets. The original central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts. Inside the building are two original fireplaces with chamfered jambs and three-centred heads.
a(9). Clark's Farm, house, ½ m. N. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. It was built late in the 16th century, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.W. and N.E. Between the wings are extensive 18th-century and modern additions. The S.W. front has two gables with original barge-boards carved with vine and leaf-ornament. Between the gables is a gabled dormer with original carved barge-boards. The original central chimney-stack has four octagonal shafts, restored at the top. Inside the building, on the first floor, is an original fireplace with chamfered jambs and three-centred head.
a(10). Rockery Farm, house, 1¼ m. N.E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics, and has a modern addition at the N.W. angle. The E. front has a slightly projecting gabled wing at the N. end. Inside the building, on the first floor, is an original fireplace with chamfered jambs, four-centred arch and a moulded oak curb.
c (11). Mount Farm, house, 100 yards N. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. It is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and E. There is a modern addition on the N. side of the E. wing. The original chimney-stack at the back of the N. wing has three brick offsets. The original central stack has a shaft cross-shaped on plan.
c (12). Cottage, now two tenements, on the E. side of the road, 120 yards S. of the church, with a modern addition at the S.W. end. The upper storey is gabled, and originally projected at the S.W. end of the N.W. front; it has now been under-built.
c(14). Springate Farm, house, 720 yards W.S.W. of the church, was built c. 1500, with a Hall in the middle. There is a modern addition on the S. side. The upper storey originally projected on the N. front, but has been under-built. Inside the building, the former Hall and the room W. of it have original moulded ceiling-beams and joists. In the E. wall of the Hall is a doorway, now blocked, with a four-centred head. At the foot of the staircase are two original, four-centred archways with moulded jambs, and spandrels carved with foliage and shields; the central newel of the staircase is apparently original. On the first floor, the room above the Hall has, in the E. wall, a blocked doorway with a four-centred head.