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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76. TILTY. (C.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xiv. S.E.; (b)xxiii. N.E.)
Tilty is a small parish with no village, about 3 m. N.W. of Great Dunmow. The Church is the principal monument; the remains of Tilty Abbey are fragmentary.
b (1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands on the E. side of the parish; the walls are of flint rubble with dressings of limestone and clunch; the roofs are covered with tiles and lead. It was the capella extra portas of the neighbouring Cistercian Abbey, and originally a plain rectangular building of c. 1220, now the Nave of the present structure. The Chancel was built c. 1340 outside the E. end, and the old E. wall was then cut away. The South Porch was probably added in the 17th century. The North Vestry is a 19th-century addition, but the building as a whole has been very little restored.
The chancel is a handsome example of early 14th-century work, the E. and N. windows being especially fine. Among the fittings the piscinae and sedilia are noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (see Plates, pp. 320–22) (19 ft. by 24¼ ft.) The early 14th-century E. window is of five lights, with tracery in a two-centred head, and moulded internal and external labels with head-stops, those outside are of cement; the jambs and mullions are moulded and the splays have shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The E. wall has diagonal buttresses and a truncated gable, finished with an old gable cross; below the window-sill the wall is faced with irregular flint and stone chequer-work. Below the internal sill is a moulded string-course which is continued along the side walls and forms a label to the sedilia. In the N. wall is a window of three lights, and similar to the E. window, but the shafts of the splays are set in square recesses. In the S. wall is a window of two lights with leaf tracery, and similar to that in the N. wall.
The Nave (47¼ ft. by 18½ ft.) is entirely of c. 1220, except a modern timber cupola at the W. end; the original E. wall has been roughly cut away, and the quoins of the former angles are visible in the chancel; on the S. side are remains of a moulded external string-course. In the N. wall are four widely splayed lancet windows, chamfered, rebated and externally covered with cement. Further W., now opening into the modern vestry, is the N. doorway, with a pointed head and semi-circular rear arch; externally it is covered with plaster and has a modern frame. In the S. wall are four lancet windows similar to those in the N. wall, but the eastern is stopped short to avoid the piscina below it; the continuous external label has been restored with cement. Further W. is the S. doorway with a pointed and chamfered head and jambs, and a moulded label with returned stops; the rear arch is a mi-ircular. In the W. wall are three lancet windows of equal size, similar to those in the N. wall, with traces of a continuous label, now hacked away.
The South Porch is timber-framed and plastered, and is probably of the 17th century. The outer entrance is modern.
The Roof of the chancel is of the trussed-rafter type, plastered on the soffit; the moulded wallplates are of the 14th century. The roof of the nave is of similar character, but the wall-plates are not exposed. At the E. end is a tie-beam, embattled on the W. face, with curved braces, and plain studding above it.
Fittings—Bell: one, said to be by John Clarke, 16.... Brasses and Indents. Brasses: In chancel— (1) of George Medeley, 1562, and Mary his wife, figures of man in plate armour, woman, three sons and two daughters, marginal inscription and three shields; (2) of Gerard Danet, 'consiliarius' to Henry VIII, 1520, and Mary his wife, figures of man in plate armour, woman in pedimental head-dress, five sons and six daughters, marginal inscription and four shields—(a) ... sown with drops ... a quarter .... quartering, 2 and 3, two bars each with three lions thereon, 4, three falcons rising; (b) the same impaling quarterly a bend cotised and charged with three eagles, 2, two bends, 3, bendy of ten, 4, a fesse checky between six crosses paty fitchy; (c) same as (b); (d) same as (a); said to be under wooden altar-platform, not visible, (3) of Margaret, wife of George Tuke, 1590, with kneeling figure, three sons, three daughters and three swaddled infants. In nave—on S. wall, (4) to Thomas of Thakley, Abbot of Tilty, c. 1470, inscription only (see Indent (3)). Indents: In nave—(1) almost obliterated; (2) of marginal inscription to Mahaud de Mortemer, c. 1340, with foliated cross springing from a beast; (3) of inscription plate to Thomas of Thakley, (see Brass (4)), and, probably, of crozier, much worn. Locker: In nave—in S. wall, with rebated jambs and two-centred head with moulded label, 13th-century. Monuments: In chancel—on S. wall, (1) to Thomas Holden, A.M., curate, 1686, slate tablet in moulded stone frame. In nave—on S. wall, (2) to Edward Eliott, early 17th-century, framed oak board in three pieces, painted with achievement of arms, and inscription, much damaged. Niches: Chancel—flanking the E. window, externally, in the angles of the buttresses, two, with cinquefoiled heads, gabled, crocketed and finialed labels and side-pinnacles with carved crockets and finials, early 14th-century. Painting: In nave—on N. wall and windows, and on S. windows, masonry lines in red and remains of red quoins; on S. wall, in spandrels over piscina, scroll ornament, all 13th-century. Piscinae: In chancel—in range with sedilia, with moulded and shaped jambs having capitals and bases, traceried head with moulded label and head-stop, rest for shelf, two cinquefoiled drains, early 14th-century. In nave—in S. wall, with moulded two-centred head, moulded label with mask-stops, moulded and shafted jambs with square abaci foliated on the inner side, one round and one octagonal drain, early 13th-century; further W. in S. wall, with plain two-centred head, almost entirely modern, probably a piscina to one of two altars that stood against the rood-screen of the 13th-century building. Plate: includes a cup of 1665 with a stand-paten probably of the same date, and a stand-paten of 1689. Sedilia: In chancel—in range with piscina, three, of similar detail to piscina, label mitring with string-course, at W. end head-stop with liripipe hood, early 14th-century.
b (2). Tilty Abbey, ruins, 160 yards N. of the church, are of flint rubble with a few dressings of clunch. The abbey of St. Mary the Virgin was founded in 1153, for Cistercian monks, by Maurice FitzGeoffrey and Robert de Ferrers. The existing remains are probably of late 12th-century date. They consist of two parts of the E. wall of the cellarer's building, or W. range of the cloister. The southern fragment, about 50 ft. long, has, on the W. face, remains of five bays of rubble vaulting, and on the E. face traces of four pilaster buttresses opposite the springers of the vault. The northern fragment is not quite in line with the southern, and has no detail remaining. Foundation mounds are traceable over the whole site, which was partly excavated in 1901. The plan was found to be of the typical Cistercian form, with the abbey church on the S. side of the building; the chapter house, probably aisled, with dorter, etc. on the E. side of the cloister; the frater, etc. on the N. side of the cloister, and the cellarer's building on the W.
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. Some of the buildings have original chimney-stacks and exposed ceilingbeams.
Condition—Good or fairly good, without exception.
b (3). Tilty Grange, ¼ m. W. of the church, was originally of L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the N.W. and N.E. The additions at the back are modern. The original central chimney-stack has diagonal pilasters and is modern at the top. The original chimney-stack of the back wing has a shaft, cross-shaped on plan, set diagonally. Immediately outside the fence of the front garden is a square chamfered base of stone, and another, now inverted, of half-quatrefoil plan; they probably came from the abbey.
Condition—One chimney-stack is out of the perpendicular.
b (4). House, now three tenements, 100 yards E. of (3), with a low modern addition at the back. The original central chimney-stack has diagonal pilasters and a rectangular base with a moulded capping.
b (5). House, three tenements, at Goodfellows, 550 yards S. of the church, with three gabled dormer windows in front.
a (6). Coldharbour Farm, 1 m. W.N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with a cellar. The E. part of the house is of c. 1700, but the rest is modern. There is no record of any Roman remains found on the site.