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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77. TOPPESFIELD. (D.b.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)ix. N.W. (b)ix. S.W. (c)xvi. N.W.)
Toppesfield is a parish and village about 6½ m. N.W. of Halstead. The principal monuments are The Hall and Bradfield's Farm.
b (1). Parish Church of St. Margaret stands on the E. side of the village. The walls are of flint rubble covered with plaster; the dressings are of limestone and clunch; the W. tower is of brick. The Nave is of uncertain date but was possibly lengthened towards the W., and the South Aisle added c. 1330; at the end of the 14th century the Chancel was rebuilt. The North and South Porches were added in the 15th century, and the N. wall of the nave was rebuilt at the same time, except a short length on each side of the N. doorway, which may be of earlier date. The West Tower was added or rebuilt in 1699. The W. gallery was inserted, the South Vestry built, and the whole church restored during the 19th century.
The 15th-century N. porch and the consecration crosses on the S. arcade of c. 1330 are noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (30½ ft. by 16 ft.) has the axis deflected towards the S. The E. window is modern, except the internal splays and hollow-chamfered rear arch, which are probably of the 14th century. In the N. wall are two windows, all modern, except some re-cut and moulded jamb-stones in the eastern window. In the S. wall are three windows; the easternmost is of the 15th century, much restored, and of two cinquefoiled lights under a square head with a moulded label; the middle window is modern; the westernmost window is of the 14th century and of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head under a moulded label; the lower part formed a low-side window, and is rebated for a shutter. Between the two western windows is a late 14th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred arch. The late 14th-century chancel-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the responds have each a semi-octagonal attached shaft with a moulded capital and base.
The Nave (60 ft. by 22½ ft.) has, in the N. wall, three windows; the easternmost and middle windows are of late 15th-century date, much restored; they are each of three cinquefoiled lights under a square head; the westernmost window is modern. Between the two western windows is the N. doorway of c. 1330, with moulded jambs and two-centred arch. The S. arcade of c. 1330 is of four bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the octagonal columns have moulded capitals and bases; the E. respond has an attached half-column, partly restored, and the W. respond is chamfered, with a moulded corbel resting on a carved head. E. of the arcade is the blocked upper doorway to the former rood-loft, with a square head and steps in the thickness of the wall.
The South Aisle (9¾ ft. wide) has, in the E. wall, a 15th-century window of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery under a square head; the label is defaced. In the S. wall are three windows, all modern, except the 15th-century internal splays and rear arches. Between the two western windows is the S. doorway of c. 1330, with moulded jambs and two-centred arch; the moulded label has carved head-stops, much defaced. In the W. wall is a 15th-century window, much restored, and of two cinquefoiled lights under a square head.
The West Tower (13 ft. by 12¾ ft.) is entirely of red brick, and was built in 1699. It is of three stages, with clasping buttresses, a parapet of two inverted curves on each side, and eight pinnacles with plain pyramidal caps. The tower-arch is of one chamfered semi-circular order continued down the responds: the two outer orders of the responds are continued upwards to form a square head with plain spandrels. The W. window is now of one square-headed light, but had formerly a mullion. The second stage has, in the E. wall, a doorway from the gallery; above the roof of the nave is a square sunk panel. The N. and S. walls have each an elliptical window with a square sunk panel above it. In the W. wall is a round-headed window, and below it a panel containing a stone slab inscribed: "To the memory of Mr. Robert Wilde late Rector of this Parish who gave 100 l toward ye building ye steple Anno 1699," with the names of the rector, churchwarden and bricklayer. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a round-headed window.
The North Porch is of the 15th century, and is timber-framed, with moulded posts at the angles. The entrance archway has also two moulded posts and a four-centred head with foliated spandrels. The N. gable has exposed timber-framing and foiled barge-boards with carved spandrels; at the base of the gable is a moulded and embattled beam.
The South Porch is of the 15th century and has an embattled parapet, with a carved grotesque gargoyle on the W. side. The outer archway and the windows in the E. and W. walls are all modern.
The Roof of the nave has four tie-beams, one of them is carved with running foliage ornament of c. 1600. The late 15th-century roof of the S. aisle is of four bays with moulded tie-beams, wallposts and curved braces with foliated spandrels; the moulded wall-plate on the N. side has enriched cresting; some of the rafters are also moulded. The 15th-century roof of the N. porch has a moulded ridge, and a king-post truss with curved brackets below the tie-beam.
Fittings—Bells: five; 1st by Henry Pleasant, 1702; 2nd, 3rd and 4th by Anthony Bartlet, 1675. Brasses: In chancel (1) to William Cracherod, 1585, and Elizabeth his wife, 1587, inscription only, with indent of rectangular plate; now covered by organ or stalls, but probably in existence, (2) to John Cracherood, 1534, and Agnes, his wife, figures of man in civilian dress, woman, group of four sons, and inscription, indent of group of daughters. Font: with octagonal bowl cut down, octagonal stem with square top, apparently re-used material, possibly 13th-century. Glass: In S. aisle—in tracery of E. window, kneeling angel with censer, and fragments of a female saint and censing angel, probably part of a Coronation of the Virgin, 15th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In chancel—on E. wall, (1) to Richard King, S.T.P., vicar of the parish and chaplain to James I., black and white marble tablet, 17th-century; on N. wall, (2) to Dorcas, wife of William Smyth, and widow of William Bigg, 1633, brown marble tablet with pilasters, cornice and broken pediment enclosing a beehive; in S. wall, (3) altar-tomb with cusped panelled front and coped slab with cusped cross in relief, recessed canopy with cinquefoiled and sub-cusped arch of segmental-pointed form, late 14th-century; said to be under organ, (4) effigy in armour in low relief, early 13th century. Floor-slabs: In chancel—at E. end, (1) to Robert Wilde, rector of the parish, 1690, with shield of arms; Panelling: In nave—re-used as dado on N. wall, on wall of gallery, and on back of pew, 17th-century. Piscinae: In chancel—with hollow-chamfered jambs and cinquefoiled head, stone shelf and octofoiled drain, late 14th-century. In S. aisle— in S. wall, with chamfered jambs and cinquefoiled head, cinquefoiled drain, 14th-century, basin broken off. Royal Arms: In tower—on N. wall, on canvas, framed, of Queen Anne, after the union, repainted incorrectly in the 19th century. Sedilia: In chancel—in range with piscina, two, with hollow-chamfered jambs and cinquefoiled heads, late 14th-century. Miscellanea: In nave—on columns of S. arcade, three consecration crosses, incised, crosses formy in circles.
b (2). Toppesfield Hall, about 700 yards S.E. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of plastered timber-framing, and the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century, but alterations obscure the original plan. On the N.E. side and at the back are modern additions. On both the S.W. and N.E. sides are two gables; on the S.E. front the Hall forms a projection.
Interior—Many of the rooms have exposed ceiling-beams, and, on the ground floor, som of them are moulded. The Hall is lined with original panelling, much restored, and has a frieze carved with arabesque work; the fireplace is of the same period but was brought from Oliver's Farm; it has a moulded shelf supported by coupled Ionic pilasters, and surmounted by an overmantel of three bays, with small detached shafts carrying foliated consoles and an entablature; behind the shafts the bays are panelled, and the middle panel has arabesque arcading; the old crane in the fireplace came from the Kitchen. The original staircase in the Hall has flat, shaped balusters, moulded handrail and string, and square newelposts with shaped heads and pendants. The room N.E. of the Hall has stop-moulded ceiling-joists and an original fireplace with a four-centred arch, almost entirely restored; the overmantel is of three panelled bays divided by small pilasters supporting an entablature.
b (3). Berwick Hall and moat, about 500 yards W.S.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of plastered timberframing, and the roofs are tiled. It was built in the first half of the 17th century, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W. At the end of the W. wing are 18th-century and modern extensions, and the addition between the wings is also modern. On the E. front, at the end of the W. wing, a small gable bears the date 1635. On the S. elevation is a chimney-stack with modern shafts on an original base, which has a sunk panel with remains of an inscription and a date, possibly also 1635. On the W. elevation the N. wing has three projecting gables, and there are two original chimney-stacks modern at the top.
Inside the building, on the ground floor, the S.E. room has a moulded ceiling-beam with a carved soffit; and other rooms have stop-chamfered ceiling-beams and shaped and moulded wall-posts.
The Moat is very incomplete.
Condition—Of house, good.
b (4). Cust Hall, 1,200 yards S.S.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of cemented timber-framing; the roofs are tiled. It is of modified half-H-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the W. The main block and the three western bays of the N.W. wing were built c. 1500; the rest of the N.W. wing and the whole of the S.W. wing were added probably in the 17th century. There are also small modern structures at the back, and at the N. end of the front of the main block. On the E. front the upper storey of the main block projects, and is supported on exposed joists and beams with hollow-chamfered brackets; the bressumer is carved with leaf-pattern of two designs, partly re-used, and partly covered by a modern moulding; the original entrance door, in a modern frame, has a depressed four-centred head and strap-hinges. On the W. elevation of the main block the chimney-stack, possibly original, has three octagonal shafts, modern at the top. The chimney-stack of the S.W. wing is probably of the 17th century. On the N. elevation the two western bays of the N.W. wing have exposed timber-framing with brick nogging, probably of the 17th century; the upper storey projects and has a moulded bressumer, much weathered; the upper storey of the third original bay originally projected, but has been under-built. On the S. elevation of the N.W. wing the timber-framing is exposed.
Interior—In the main block the three rooms on the ground floor and one on the first floor have richly moulded ceiling-beams; one of the beams is carved on the soffit with running foliage; the N. room on the ground floor has also moulded joists. The middle room has, on the S. wall, 17th-century oak panelling, now painted. In both wings are stop-chamfered ceiling-beams and flat joists. In the roofs of the original building are remains of king-post trusses; the king-posts and central purlin of the main block are chamfered.
b (5). Gainsford Hall, about 1¾ m. S.W. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of plastered timber-framing, and the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century, probably on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S.E. and N.E., but the original plan is uncertain. At the end of the S.E. wing is a modern addition.
Inside the building, on the ground floor, are chamfered ceiling-beams and flat joists with moulded stops. At the N.W. end is an original fireplace with a chamfered oak lintel which has moulded stops.
Condition—Good, much altered.
b (6). Bradfield's Farm, house and barn, 1 m. S.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics, the walls are of plastered timberframing; the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 15th century, on a modified H-shaped plan with the cross-wings at the N. and S. ends, and with a staircase-wing at the back. The central Hall was originally open to the roof, but about the middle of the 16th century an upper floor and a chimney-stack were inserted, and the roof was heightened Early in the 17th century part of the ground floor was cut away on the S. side of the S. wing, which was extended towards the S. At some later date the space between the staircase-wing and the S. wing was filled in.
The 16th-century wall-painting is of interest.
The E. front has 18th-century details. On the N. elevation the upper storey projects. The 16th-century S.E. chimney-stack has a rectangular shaft with a moulded head and base.
Interior—In the original building, on the ground floor, are some moulded ceiling-beams and flat joists with moulded stops, and on the first floor are chamfered ceiling-beams and wall-posts; in the 17th-century addition are plain flat joists. The Hall has a number of late 17th-century panelled doors; the handrail and some balusters of the main staircase are of the 17th-century. In the room over the Hall is a 16th-century fireplace with a four-centred arch, and next to it is a panelled cupboard-door of the same date with original strap-hinges; in the E. wall is a 16th-century window, with moulded mullions, now blocked; in the N. wall is a door of the same date with remains of a painted flower design; painted on the E. wall and above the fireplace is a running design of leaves and flowers outlined in black on the white plaster, and coloured with blue and red. On the same floor are some fragments of late 16th-century panelling, and an old door with strap-hinges. In the roof of the N. cross-wing is an original king-post truss.
The Barn, N. of the house, is timber-framed and weather-boarded; the roof is thatched. The building is of four bays divided by king-post trusses, and is probably of the 16th century; at the W. end is a modern addition.
Condition—Of house and barn, good.
b (7). The Rectory, about ¼ m. S.S.W. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of plastered timber-framing; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably in the 15th century, but the original plan has been obscured by alterations. It is now of a modified half-H-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the W. The N.W. wing was built probably in the 17th century, but has a modern extension on the N. side and at the end. The S.W. wing was built probably early in the 18th century, but has modern additions on the N. side.
On the E. front several of the windows have early 18th-century sashes. On the S. elevation are window frames and a plastered eaves-cornice also of the 18th-century. The roofs are hipped.
Interior—The original part of the middle block has, on the ground floor, richly moulded ceilingbeams, and some plain flat joists. Near the N. end of the middle room is an original doorway, now standing free, but probably part of a partition; it has a four-centred head, and square posts carried up to the ceiling.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th-century, and of two storeys, timber-framed and covered with plaster, and with roofs either tiled or thatched. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams, original chimney-stacks and wide fireplaces.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
Church Lane, N. side
b (8). Cottage, now two tenements, opposite the church, was built in the second half of the 16th century; the addition at the back is modern. Originally the upper storey projected along the whole of the S. front, but it has been under-built at the W. end. Inside the building, on the ground floor, in the middle room is a moulded ceiling-beam, and there is also an original oak battened door.
b (9). Cottage, three tenements, 100 yards W.S.W. of (8), has an original chimney-stack with grouped diagonal shafts on a rectangular base.
b (10). Cottage, 100 yards W.S.W. of (9).
a (11). Elms Farm, house, nearly 1 m. W.N.W. of the church, with modern additions on the N. side. At the W. end of the S. front is a gable. The original central chimney-stack has three octagonal shafts on a rectangular base.
a (12). Quy's Farm, house, now two tenements, about 1,400 yards N.W. of the church, has an original central chimney-stack with grouped diagonal shafts on a rectangular base.
a (13). Grassgreen Farm, house, now three tenements, about 1,100 yards N.N.W. of the church, was built on on L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S.E. and S.W. On the N.E. front at the N.W. end the upper storey is gabled and projects on exposed joists with plain brackets.
b (14). Oliver's Farm, house, now two tenements, about ½ m. S.E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. It was built on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the W. and S., but has modern additions at the back of the W. wing, and at the S. end and E. side of the S. wing. On the N. front are old mullioned and transomed window-frames.
Inside the building, the middle part of the main block originally formed a Hall of one storey and of two bays, with a fireplace in the S. wall; in the ceiling are moulded beams and stop-chamfered joists, and there is a wall-post with a moulded corbel. In the upper storey is an original door of three panels.
b (15). Cottage, two tenements, 180 yards E.S.E. of Cust Hall (4).
b (16). House, farmhouse, now two tenements, (see Plate, p. xxv) 400 yards S.S.E. of Cust Hall (4), was built, probably in the 15th century, on a half-H-shaped plan, with a Hall of one storey in the middle, and wings extending towards the W. Probably in the 16th century an upper floor was inserted in the Hall, and early in the 17th century a chimney-stack was built against the S. wall of the S.W. wing. There are modern additions at the end of the S.W. wing and at the back of the main block. At each end of the E. front the upper storey projects. The 17th-century chimney-stack has two octagonal shafts, rebuilt at the top. Inside the building, on the ground floor, the N.E. room has original moulded ceiling-beams and joists. The S.E. room is lined with late 16th and 17th-century panelling, and has a fireplace with a late 17th-century wooden mantelpiece, consisting of a moulded architrave surmounted by a moulded shelf, above which is a panel flanked by pilasters supporting a cornice.
b (17). Lewsey's Farm, house, 1,000 yards E.S.E. of (16), was built probably early in the 16th century; later in the same century a chimney-stack and a wing extending towards the N. were added at the E. end. On the E. side of the wing is a 17th-century addition; on the W. side is a modern addition which apparently stands on the site of an earlier structure. The 16th-century chimney-stack has one hexagonal shaft, and four octagonal shafts.
Inside the building, in the S. wall, is an original window, with a moulded mullion, now blocked. In the upper storey, at the W. end, are remains of a king-post roof-truss.
b (18). Hurall's Farm, house, 1 m. S.S.W. of the church, with a modern addition at the S. end.
The Gainsford End of Quy's Green
b (19). Onger's Farm, house, ¼ m. S.S.W. of (18), with a modern addition at the S.W. end. On the N.W. front is an original gabled dormer window, which projects at the level of the first floor, and has a moulded bressumer. The original chimney-stack is T-shaped on plan.
b (20). Cottage, 50 yards S.W. of (19).
b (21). Woodley and Thodey's Farm, house, 200 yards W.N.W. of Gainsford Hall, was built on an L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the S.W. and N.W., and has a modern addition at the end of the S.W. wing.
c (22). Peacocks, house, 1 m. S.S.E. of (21), with modern additions on the S.W. side. The original central chimney-stack is T-shaped on plan.
b (23). Le Hurst, house, about 1½ m. S.W. of the church.
b (24). Meeking's Farm, house, 100 yards N. of (23), with modern additions at the S.W. end and on the N.W. side. The original central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts on a square base.
b (25). Gooseley's Farm, house, 330 yards N. of (24), with modern additions on the S.E. and N.W. sides. The original central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts on a rectangular base. Inside the building, in the S.W. room on the ground floor, are shaped and moulded wall-posts.