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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63. RIDGEWELL. (D.a.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)v. S.W. (b)xi. N.W.)
Ridgewell is a parish and small village about 8 m. N.W. of Halstead. The principal monuments are the Church and Ridgewell Hall Farm.
b (1). Dwelling-house, about 120 ft. by 200 ft. in area, with usual fittings, was found, ¼ m. S. of the village, in a field sloping towards the river Colne, in 1794. Nothing is now visible on the surface; fragments of stone, etc. are occasionally ploughed up. (See Sectional Preface p. xxiv.).
a (2). Parish Church of St. Lawrence stands E. of the village. The walls are of plastered flint and pebble rubble, with dressings of limestone and clunch; the roofs are covered with tiles and lead. The doorway in the N. vestry is of late 12th-century date, but is probably not in situ. The Nave was rebuilt probably late in the 14th century. About the middle of the 15th century the whole of the rest of the church, including the Chancel, North Aisle and West Tower, was rebuilt, and the North Vestry, North Chapel, and South Porch were added. The church was restored in the 19th century.
The 15th-century screen, lectern and bier deserve notice.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (34 ft. by 18 ft.) is almost entirely of late 15th-century date, and has an E. window of three cinquefoiled lights under a four-centred head; the external reveals and labels are moulded. In the N. wall is a doorway with chamfered jambs and moulded two-centred arch and label. Further W. is a late 14th or early 15th-century arcade of two bays with two-centred arches of two hollow-chamfered orders; the column is octagonal, with moulded base and moulded and embattled capital; the E. respond has an attached half-column; the capital, with that of the column, is grooved for a screen; the W. respond has a moulded and embattled corbel. In the S. wall are three windows, the two eastern are each of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a four-centred head; the westernmost window is similar, but of two lights. Between the two eastern windows is a doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head; the spandrels are trefoiled. The chancel-arch is two-centred and of two moulded orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting on semi-octagonal shafts with moulded and embattled capitals and moulded bases; the capitals are cut back for a rood-screen; N. of the arch is a squint with a cinquefoiled head on the W. face.
The North Vestry has, in the E. wall, a late 15th-century window of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a four-centred head. In the N. wall is a late 12th-century doorway, probably re-set, and now blocked; it has a moulded two-centred arch, partly cut away; the shafts have disappeared, or are built up, but the foliated capitals of the "water-leaf" type remain. In the W. wall is a modern doorway.
The North Chapel (19½ ft. by 9½ ft.) has, in the N. wall, two windows; the eastern is modern, except the splays and rear arch, which are of the 15th century; the western window is of late 14th-century date and of two cinquefoiled and sub-cusped lights, with elaborate tracery in an acute two-centred head; the external reveals are moulded. In the W. wall is a late 15th-century segmental-pointed arch of two hollow-chamfered orders, the outer continuous, and the inner resting on semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; one of the capitals is also embattled. Further S. is a doorway to the rood-loft staircase with rebated jambs and four-centred arch.
The Nave (48 ft. by 21½ ft.) has a late 15th-century N. arcade of four bays; the two-centred arches are of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous, and the inner resting on semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. In the S. wall are two late 15th-century windows, each of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a four-centred head. Further W. is the late 14th-century S. doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred arch. The clearstorey has, on both the N. and S. sides, four late 15th-century windows, each of two cinquefoiled lights in a three-centred head; below the windows on both walls is a moulded and embattled string-course.
The North Aisle (13½ ft. wide at E. end, and 7½ ft. wide at W. end), has the easternmost bay of the N. wall canted outwards on plan, probably to provide more altar space against the E. wall. In the E. wall is a crude 15th-century window of one cinquefoiled light. In the N. wall are two mid or late 15th-century windows; the eastern is of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a four-centred head; the western window is of three cinquefoiled lights with quatrefoils in a four-centred head; the external reveals and label are moulded. Further W. is the 15th-century N. doorway, now blocked, with double-chamfered jambs, four-centred arch and moulded label. In the W. wall is a 15th-century window of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a four-centred head.
The West Tower (12 ft. square) is of mid or late 15th-century date, and of three stages with an embattled parapet, S.E. turret staircase, and a moulded plinth with flint and stone checkerwork. The two-centred tower-arch is of three moulded orders on the E., and three chamfered orders on the W. side; the innermost order rests on semi-circular attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; above the arch are the weatherings of the earlier roof of the nave. In the S. wall is a doorway to the turret staircase, with chamfered jambs and three-centred arch. The W. doorway has moulded jambs, two-centred arch and label, and the W. window is of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head. The second stage has, in the S. wall, a window of one pointed light, and a similar blocked window in the W. wall. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window of two cinquefoiled lights, with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head.
The South Porch is entirely of mid or late 15th-century date, and has a two-centred outer archway of two hollow-chamfered orders; the moulded responds have each a keeled attached shaft with moulded capital and base, all partly defaced; the S. gable has a crow-stepped parapet. The E. and W. walls have each a window of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head.
The Roof of the chancel is of mid or late 15th-century date, and of the trussed-rafter type with defaced embattled wall-plates. The late 15th-century roof of the nave is of four bays with moulded main timbers and curved braces to the principals and intermediates; the braces of the principals have foliated bosses and rest on stone corbels supporting wall-brackets, which have each a small canopied niche containing a defaced figure; at the feet of the intermediates are small hammer-beams; the collar-beams are embattled, and have foliage bosses on the soffits, and traceried filling above them; the wall-plates are covered with foliated scrolls and cresting. The restored 15th-century roof of the N. aisle has some original moulded timbers. The 15th-century roof of the S. porch has moulded main timbers, embattled wall-plates and curved braces to the principals.
Fittings—Brasses and Indents. Indents: In chancel—partly covered by organ (1) of priest, 15th-century. In N. chapel—(2) of inscription plate. Coffin-lid: In N. chapel—plain, date uncertain. Communion Table: In N. chapel—small, plain, with turned legs, early 18th-century. Font and Font-cover. Font: octagonal, with plain bowl, stem panelled on five sides, and apparently unfinished, moulded base, 15th-century. Cover: pyramidal, with moulded ribs, 17th-century. Glass: In chancel—in E. window, fragments made up with modern glass, and including tabernacle work and sacred monogram, 15th-century, and initials R.P., 16th-century. In nave—in second window in S. wall, part of figure subject, foliated quarries, and border made up of fragments, 15th-century. In N. aisle—in E. window, three fragments, 15th and 16th-centuries; in W. window, fragments, 15th-century. Lectern: of wood, octagonal stem with moulded and embattled capital, moulded band and heavy octagonal base, carved with square flowers, 15th-century, desk modern. Niche: In nave—in E. splay of S.E. window, traces, now filled in. Piscina: In chancel—with chamfered jambs and trefoiled head, projecting basin and foiled drain, possibly 14th-century, reset. In vestry—with chamfered jambs and pointed head, foiled drain, 15th-century, basin cut back. Plate: includes a cup of 1564. Pulpit: octagonal, with panelled sides, fluted frieze and moulded cornice, early 17th-century. Screen: Under chancel-arch—four close lower panels remain, two on each side of entrance, each panel divided by a twisted shaft, and having an elaborate traceried head, with foliated spandrels, and a band of carved quatrefoils at the foot; tracery of northernmost and southernmost panels enriched with colour decoration in red and gold; posts between bays with attached buttresses, moulded and foliated rail, 15th-century (see Plate, p. xxxiii.). Sedilia: In chancel—sill of S.E. window carried down to form seats. Stalls: In chancel—on S. side, three, plain, c. 1500, much restored. Stoup: In nave—E. of S. doorway, with chamfered jambs and pointed head, 15th-century. Tiles: In nave—on platform of font, possibly old, much worn. Miscellanea: In tower—oak bier with octagonal legs, and braces with small capitals, telescopic handles, 15th-century (see Plate, p. xxxiii.).
a (3). Homestead Moat, 700 yards W. of the church.
a (4). Ridgewell Hill Farm, house and moat, 520 yards E.N.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1589, on a T-shaped plan, with the cross-wing at the E. end.
The original carved barge-boards, bressumers and brackets are noteworthy.
At the W. end of the N. elevation the upper storey projects, and has a carved and moulded bressumer and bracket. There are three projecting gables on the N. side of the W. wing, with carved barge-boards, and a continuous carved and moulded bressumer, with the date and initials, 1589 I M P; it rests on carved brackets. A doorway on the W. side of the cross-wing has two similar brackets supporting a modern hood. The cross-wing has projecting gables at each end, that on the S. having carved barge-boards. A small gable facing E. has similar barge-boards. The two original western chimney-stacks have octagonal shafts, with modern tops and moulded bases, standing on a rectangular base with a moulded and dentilled capping; the N.E. chimney-stack has a plain original base.
Interior:—The rooms on the ground floor of the cross-wing have stop-chamfered ceiling-beams, and the joists are exposed in two of the rooms. The present dining-room has original moulded oak panelling on the W. wall. The staircase has an original moulded hand-rail and flat shaped balusters. The kitchen in the W. wing has moulded ceilingbeams, a wide open fireplace and an original winding staircase.
Three arms of the Moat remain.
Condition—Of house, good.
b (5). Moat Farm, house and moat, 630 yards W.S.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys, with attics, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built late in the 17th century, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and W. There are 18th-century or modern additions on the W. side. The S. wall and parts of the E. and W. walls have been re-faced with modern brick. Inside the building is an original door.
Three arms of the Moat remain; the fourth arm is marked by a shallow depression in the ground.
Condition—Of house, good, much altered.
b (6). Essex Hall, house, and moat, over 1 m. S.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built in the second half of the 17th century, and has a staircase-wing and an addition on the N. side, both modern. Inside the building, on the ground floor, the middle room has a chamfered ceiling-beam.
Two arms and part of a third arm of the Moat remain.
Condition—Of house, good, much altered.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century, and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Many of the buildings have original chimney-stacks, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.
Main Street, E. side:—
a (7). Cottage, three tenements, 200 yards W. of the church, was built early in the 16th century; the additions at the S. end and on the E. side are modern. The upper storey projects on the northern half of the W. front. Inside the building, the S. room of the original block has original moulded ceiling-beams carved with running foliage, and moulded joists. In the upper storey the shaped and chamfered wall-posts are exposed.
a (8). Cottage, two tenements, 40 yards N.W. of (7), has a late 17th-century extension at the N. end, and modern additions at the back and S. end. The original central chimney-stack has two attached octagonal shafts.
a (9). Cottage, N.W. of (8), is of two storeys with attics, and has 18th-century or modern additions on the E. side. At the N. end of the W. front the upper storey projects and is gabled. Inside the building are two original doors with strap-hinges.
a (10). The King's Head Inn, N.W. of (9), is of two storeys with attics. It was built probably in the 16th century, and has 18th-century and modern additions at the back. The W. front has been refaced with modern brick. The early 17th-century central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts. Inside the building, the shaped wall-posts are visible, and the tie-beams of two roof-trusses; the brackets below them are carved. The 17th-century staircase has turned balusters, and there are some old doors with strap-hinges.
a (11). House, N.W. of (10), is of two storeys with attics; it faces S., and has a late 17th-century extension at the S. end and modern additions at the back and N. end. At the N. end of the W. front the upper storey projects and is gabled, and has an original moulded bressumer. Inside the building, the N. room has a shaped wall-post with a moulded capping, and, adjoining the staircase, is an original window, now blocked, with moulded mullions. The roof has two cambered tie-beams with chamfered braces, resting on chamfered wall-posts.
a (12). Cottage, two tenements, on the S.W. side of the Green, ¼ m. W.S.W. of the church. Inside the building, in the middle room, the wide fireplace has a small cupboard with a 17th-century panelled door.
a (13). Bowles' Farm, house, 600 yards N.N.W. of the church, was originally of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W. Late in the 17th or early in the 18th century an addition was made in the angle between the wings. There are two gables on the E. front. Inside the building, the S.E. room has an original moulded ceiling-beam, and there is an original door of moulded and overlapping battens.
a (14). Causeway Farm, house, now two tenements, about ¾ m. N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. It was built c. 1600, and has a modern addition on the N. side. The original central chimney-stack has two octagonal shafts with an attached moulded capping and a dentilled base. Inside the building, some of the rooms on the ground floor have original moulded joists and ceiling-beams. There are three original doors of moulded battens.
b (15). Wash Farm, house, about 1 m. W.S.W. of the church, was built late in the 16th century, and has a modern addition on the W. side. On the E. front the upper storey projects. Inside the building, the rooms on the ground-floor have some original moulded ceiling-beams.