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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68. STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET. (B.c.)
Stansted Mountfitchet is a large parish about 3 m. N.E. of Bishop's Stortford; the village was always of some importance, and of late years it has largely increased in size, and a second church has been built. The Parish Church and the Castle are the principal monuments.
c (1). Dwelling-house, found in 1887, in restoring the parish church; nothing is now visible on the surface, and no plans or detailed descriptions survive. A small bit of the tessellated floor is in private hands at Bishop's Stortford.
c (2). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, stands some way from the E. end of the village. The walls are of flint rubble with stone dressings, and the tower is of brick with stone dressings; the roofs are tiled. Of the early 12th-century church, the chancel-arch and two doorways in the nave remain, but the latter are not in their original position. Early in the 13th century the Chancel was rebuilt, lengthened and widened, and the North Chapel added. In the 14th century the N. chapel was lengthened towards the E., and possibly also towards the W. In 1692 the West Tower was rebuilt. The church was completely restored in the 19th century, when the nave was rebuilt, the North Aisle added, and the walls of the chancel and chapel re-faced.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (35 ft. by 15½ ft.) has a modern E. window, but in the angles of the E. wall are 13th-century shafts with moulded capitals, bands and bases. At the E. end of the N. wall are remains of a blocked 13th-century lancet window with rebated jambs, now covered by the N. chapel, and part of an internal wall-arcade enclosing the window. Further W. are two arches opening into the chapel; the eastern is of the 14th-century, two-centred and moulded; the responds are plain, but one of them has a moulded stop; the western arch, also two-centred and moulded, is of the 13th-century, and has chamfered responds with foliated head-stops and attached shafts with moulded capitals carved with stiff-leaf foliage, square abaci, and moulded bases with spur ornaments. The eastern part of the S. wall has a 13th-century wall-arcade of four bays, corresponding to the former arcade in the N. wall; the arches are two-centred and rest on detached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; each bay was formerly pierced by a window, now blocked, the jambs of two of the windows are visible externally; the other two bays contain modern windows, the easternmost is partly blocked by a monument; further W. is a modern window. The 12th-century chancel-arch is semi-circular and of three orders on the W. face, the outer order is carved with small heads and other ornaments, the middle order with cheveron ornament and the inner order is plain; the responds have each a single shaft with a carved and scalloped capital, carrying the middle order of the arch.
The North Chapel (35 ft. by 9 ft.) has, in the E. wall, a modern window set in a 14th-century opening. In the N. wall are two windows and a doorway, all modern, except the openings of the windows. In the W. wall is a moulded two-centred arch of the 14th century, and a round-headed window, probably modern.
The Nave (69 ft. by 21 ft.) is entirely modern, but re-set in the S. wall is a 12th-century doorway (see Plate, p. xxviii) which has a semi-circular arch recessed in four orders, the two outer orders are enriched with cheverons, the third with stars of four points, and the inner order is plain; the jambs have each two attached shafts with scalloped capitals and moulded bases; the tympanum is diapered and has a segmental sub-arch.
The North Aisle (17 ft. wide) is also modern, but re-set in the N. wall is a 12th-century doorway with a semi-circular arch of five orders enriched respectively with billet-ornament and cheverons, four-leaf flowers, cheverons and stars; the innermost order is plain; the jambs have each three shafts similar to those of the S. doorway, and the diapered tympanum has a segmental sub-arch.
The West Tower (15½ ft. by 13 ft.), built in 1692, is of three stages with an embattled parapet and shallow angle-buttresses; it is finished with a short lead-covered spire. The doors and windows are modern.
Fittings—Brasses: In chancel—(1) to Robert de Bokkyng, first vicar of 'Stanstede Mechet,' 1361, inscription only; (2) to George Raye, 1609, inscription only. Book: Bible of 1640. Chairs: In chancel—plain, with arms, panelled back and turned legs, early 17th-century. In vestry—under tower, with carved arms and back, twisted legs, back and seat upholstered, late 17th-century. Font and Font-cover. Font: round bowl with four foliated projections forming angles, round moulded base and stem, considerably restored, early 13th-century. Cover: ogee, spire-form, octagonal and panelled, 17th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In chancel—against S. wall, (1) of Sir Thomas Middleton, Lord Mayor of London, 1631, moulded sarcophagus with effigy of man in fur cloak over plate armour, with Mayoral collar of S.S. and knots with portcullis clasp, all under an arched recess of the Corinthian order with coupled columns on pedestals and elaborate heraldry on seven shields. In N. chapel—(2) of Hester (Middleton) wife of ... Salusbury, 1614, altar tomb with coloured effigy of woman, wearing a ruffled farthingale, black gown, lace collar, cloak and tall hat, S. side and W. end of tomb panelled and carved with funeral emblems and oval medallions with elaborate heraldry, tomb formerly in chancel; in recess, in N. wall, (3) effigy of man in armour wearing a surcoat, hauberk and camail strapped round temples, remains of shield, head on cushion supported by two angels, legs crossed and feet on lion; recess two-centred and moulded with moulded label, all c. 1310. Floor-slabs: In chancel— (1) to Thomas Ray, 16, and Dorothy ([Glas] cock) his wife, 1701; (2) to Richard Mills, 1691, and Eleanor his wife, 1705. Painting: On E. wall of chancel—N. side, near floor, traces of painted decoration, early 17th-century. Piscinae: In chancel—in E. wall, quatrefoil basin only, late 13th-century; in N. chapel—S. wall, with moulded ogee cinquefoiled head, label cut back and octofoil drain, 14th-century; in same wall between arches, with chamfered, trefoiled head, moulded label with mask-stops, worn multifoil drain, 13th-century. Plate: includes a stand-paten of 1676. Screen: At W. end of N. chapel—base of screen with five large linen-fold panels, early 16th-century. Miscellanea: In N. chapel—under E. window, Cartouche, of stone, with the heraldry of the Passion; surrounded by the thirty pieces of silver, also a kneeling cherub, a shield, with hands and feet projecting from the corners, charged with the various Instruments of the Passion, a heart below, and a helm, with the crown of thorns as crest, above the shield; below the cartouche four English verses, early 17th-century. On S. wall of tower— in modern frame, Inscription, recording the rebuilding of the tower and porches, the ceiling, repairing and 'whiting' of the church by Sir Stephen Langham, 1692.
a (3). Stansted Castle (ring and bailey), 300 yards E. of the new church, stands on a spur of high ground about 250 feet above O.D. The general level drops from E. to W., the bailey being on higher ground than the ring. A small stream flows at the bottom of the slope to the S. The castle now consists of a ring and an adjoining bailey. The ring is a circular area of about half an acre surrounded by a rampart which contains the lower courses of a flint rubble wall and is 8½ feet high and 12 feet wide at the summit in places, and a dry ditch, 70 feet wide from crest to crest and 10 feet deep from the summit of the scarp. In the centre of this work are slight traces of a small round enclosure, probably the site of the keep. The ground drops sharply to the S. and W., and the defences are nearly obliterated on those sides. Projecting towards the S. from the line of the wall is a short length of flint rubble wall (13 feet long by 3 feet thick and 9 feet high) which retains some of the original surface of coursed flints, and seems to indicate the presence of a tower on that side. On the E. side a gap in the rampart leads by a causeway across the ditch into the bailey. The bailey, slightly over an acre in extent, is also defended by a rampart and ditch, and is crossed from E. to W. by a slight scarp, which possibly indicates the foundations of a wall formerly dividing the bailey into two wards, There is apparently no wall within the rampart, which was probably strengthened by a wooden palisade. The rampart is about 13 feet above the bottom of the ditch, which is well defined only on the N.W., and communicates with the ditch of the ring work on that side. The entrance on the N. is flanked by a raising of the rampart on each side, but on the W. side this extra elevation has been partly thrown down. The rampart is obliterated on the S. and only a steep scarp remains. The ground near the bailey on the E. is considerably cut up and altered by gravel pits, etc.
d (4). Moated Site and Font at Thremhall Priory, about 2 m. S.S.W. of the parish church, on the N. side of the Stane Street. The Enclosure is almost rectangular, with a smaller moated area in the S.E. corner, and also a large fish-pond. The site is occupied by a modern house; no remains of the Augustinian Priory now exist. Buried in a flower bed is the bowl of a Font; it is octagonal, with angle-rolls, and probably of the 13th century.
c (5). Parsonage Farm, house and moat, about ½ m. S.W. of the parish church. The House is of two storeys; the walls are of plastered timberframing, and the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 17th century on a rectangular plan, and has modern additions at the N.E. and S.W. ends, making the plan Z-shaped. The walls have square panels in plaster, and the original chimney-stack at the S.W. end has two attached diagonal shafts.
d (6). Wurmans Farm, house and moat, about ¾ m. S.E. of the parish church. The House is of two storeys; the walls are of plastered timber-framing, and the roofs are covered with slate. It was built probably in the 17th century, but the central chimney-stack with two attached diagonal shafts is the only original feature.
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 exposed ceiling-beams, wide fireplaces and original chimney-stacks.
a (7). House, now two shops, about 130 yards E.S.E. of the new church, was built in the 16th century; a wing was added at the back, probably in the 17th century, and there is a small modern addition, also at the back. On the E. front the upper storey projects, and is gabled at each end. In the plaster are small panels with fleurs de lis, a Tudor rose, and a reversed lion (?).
a (8). House, N. of (7), is of two storeys with attics and cellar. It was built probably in the second half of the 16th century on an L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the N. and W., and has modern additions at the W. end. On the E. front the upper storey projects, and there is a plaster cove under the eaves; the entrance doorway has moulded wooden posts and a segmental head; at the top of each post is a small panel carved with a crowned rose and the initials E.R.; the chimney-stack has three original octagonal shafts with moulded bases.
a (9). House, now four tenements, 150 yards N.N.E. of (8), was built on an L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the N. and E.; it has been partly re-faced with modern brick and weather-boarding, and has two modern additions at the back. On the E. front the upper storey projects, and the gable of the E. wing has original carved barge-boards. The original chimney-stack has diagonal pilasters on a rectangular base.
a (11). House, now three tenements (see Plate, p. xxv), at the junction of High and Workhouse Lanes, is of two storeys with attics. It was built probably c. 1600 an a half-H-shaped plan, but the space between the wings has been filled in by a modern addition. The timber-framing is exposed, and has been considerably restored. The two original chimney-stacks have attached octagonal shafts.
a (12). Cottage, now two tenements, about 200 yards E. of the new church, with an addition of later date at the back. On the W. front, at the S. end, is a projecting gable and an oriel window of slight projection, with the original moulded frames and glazing.
a (15). The King's Arms Inn, at the corner of Lower Street, was built on an L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the N. and E. A wing of one storey, with a S. wall of brick, was added on the W. side later in the 17th century, and there are various modern additions. The original chimney-stack on the S. front has two attached diagonal shafts.
a (16). House, near the railway bridge, 300 yards S.E. of the new church (see Plate, p. xxv), was built early in the 16th century, but the ground floor has been almost entirely re-faced. The timber-framing of the upper storey is exposed, and on the W. or main front is a gabled projecting bay, which rests on two posts, and forms a porch; the posts have curved angle-brackets with a series of cusped panels supporting a plate with carved foliage. The entrance doorway has an original moulded frame with a four-centred inner head and foliated spandrels, and the battened door has three vertical panels and strap-hinges. The gable over the porch projects and has curved braces in the framing, and square pendants with foliated terminals. Inside the building the kitchen has two moulded ceilingbeams.
a (17). Western House, at the N. corner of Chapel Hill, is of two storeys with attics and cellar. It was built on a T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the N.W. end, and with a small staircase wing in the S. angle. The front was rebuilt in brick, and a wing was added at the N.E. end of the main block c. 1726. Various modern additions have been made on the S. side. The original central chimney-stack has grouped linked hexagonal shafts.
a (18). Cottage, on the S. side of the W. green, about 820 yards N.W. of the new church, has at the S.W. angle a projection with a lower storey of brick; the upper storey projects on both sides of the angle. The original chimney-stack at the S. end of the cottage has two attached diagonal shafts. Inside the building one room has a cupboard door of early 17th-century panelling.
a (19). Cottage, almost adjoining (18) on the N.W., is L-shaped on plan, with the wings extending towards the N. and E.; the addition in the angle between them is modern. The plastering has traces of herring-bone and scale patterns. At the end of the N. wing the gable has original moulded barge-boards and the upper storey projects. One of the two original chimney-stacks has attached diagonal shafts.
a (22). Cottage, between the two greens, on the S. side of the road leading from the W. end of the green, with later additions. On the N. front the plastering has traces of scale pattern. One casement window is original.
a (23). Cottage, now two tenements (see Plate, p. xxvi), on the N. side of the E. green, about ½ m. N.E. of the new church, was built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century. On the S. front the upper storey projects at each end; the eaves are continuous and are supported in the middle by two curved braces. The roof is carried down low at the back.
a (26). Hole Farm, house and barns, 90 yards E. of (25). The House was built probably early in the 16th century on a T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the N. end. In the 18th century a wing was added at the back, and on the main or E. front the lower storey was re-faced with brick. The upper storey originally projected at the back, but has been under-built. One of the two original chimney-stacks is cross-shaped on plan, with a pointed nib in each angle. Inside the building, the beams of the former over-hanging storey are visible, and there is a moulded beam in the sitting-room. Two oak archways, with four-centred heads, one of them with carved spandrels, remain, but are not in situ. In a room on the first floor is a small arched fireplace with moulded jambs and head, probably of plaster. A room at the N. end of the house is lined with early 17th-century panelling, and has a fluted frieze; the sitting-room contains some panelling of the same date.
The Barns are of the 17th century. The larger barn is timber-framed and weather-boarded, and the roof is tiled. It is of five bays with two aisles. The smaller barn is of similar construction with a thatched roof. It is of five bays with a small projection in the middle.
a (27). Bentfieldbury, house and barn, 1 m. N.W. of the new church. The House was originally rectangular on plan, but has been considerably restored and enlarged at the S. end and on the W. side, in the 19th century. The N. end is of brick, some of the plinth being original.
a (28). Bentfield Mill, now a private house, ¾ m. S.W. of the new church, has been partly re-faced with modern brick. There is a small entrance wing on the E. side, and the plastering has scale ornament.
a (32). Ravens House, on the N. side of the Elsenham Road, 580 yards E.N.E. of the modern church, is of two storeys with attics and a cellar. It was built in the 16th century, but the walls were rebuilt in brick and an addition made on the E. side in the 19th century. The two original chimney-stacks retain the moulded bases of octagonal shafts, but the shafts themselves have been destroyed. Inside the building, under the stairs, is an original door of moulded and nail-studded battens. In the attics are two original fireplaces with four-centred heads; one of them is of moulded and plastered brick, and the other is chamfered.
d (33). House, on the N. side of the road, about 550 yards E. of the old church, has been entirely rebuilt, except one wing, which was formerly a timber-framed cottage, but has been re-faced with brick. An outhouse, S.E. of the house, by the road side, is built of 17th-century brick.
d (37). Ryder's Farm, house, 350 yards S.E. of (36), was built on a half-H-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the N.E. The S.W. or main front has a gable at each end; at the W. end the upper storey projects. The chimney-stack with grouped shafts, is partly original.
d (41). Barns, two, at Bury Lodge, about ¾ m. S.S.E. of the parish church, are both weather-boarded. The larger barn is of six bays with side-aisles, a projecting entrance and a tiled roof. The smaller barn is of four bays with a projecting entrance and a thatched roof.