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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22. ELSENHAM. (B.c.)
(1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, near Elsenham Hall. The walls are of flint rubble, heavily covered with plaster and cement; the tower is of mixed flint and brick with some large stone blocks, and is also covered with plaster; the S. porch is of flint rubble with lacing-courses and dressings of brick; some tiles, probably Roman, appear in the tower and the S. porch. The roofs are covered with tiles and slate. The Chancel and Nave are of early 12th-century date. The West Tower was built early in the 15th century, and the South Porch, added c. 1500. In the 19th century a small North Porch, now used as a vestry, was added.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (23 ft. by 20 ft.) has a mid 15th-century E. window of three wide cinquefoiled lights, with tracery in a four-centred head which has a moulded external label. In the middle of the N. wall is a small 12th-century window with a semi-circular head and rear arch; the external reveals are slightly chamfered; at the W. end of the wall is a small rough doorway fitted with a modern frame and opening into the rood-loft staircase, which is in the thickness of the N. abutment of the chancel-arch. In the S. wall are two windows; the eastern is of the 15th century and of one cinquefoiled light with a moulded external reveal; the western window is also of the 15th century, and is set low in the wall; it is of two cinquefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded external reveal and label, and a segmental-pointed rear arch; the lower part of the window is blocked by stones labs: between the two windows is a small 15th century doorway, externally modern. The semi-circular chancel-arch is of the 12th century and of one square order, with axe-work on the W. face and on two voussoirs of the E. face; the square responds have angles worked with zigzag ornament; the imposts are chamfered, and below them are traces of mortise holes; in the soffit of the arch there are eleven other mortise holes, probably all connected with the former rood-loft; the N. respond is pierced by a small rough squint with a semi-circular head.
The Nave (48½ ft. by 22½ ft.) has three windows in the N. wall; the easternmost is of three uncusped lights under a square head; the details are all of brick covered with plaster; the other two windows are of the 12th century, and similar to that in the N. wall of the chancel; between them is the N. doorway, of uncertain date and much defaced with paint and plaster. In the S. wall are three windows; the easternmost is of the 15th century and of two cinquefoiled lights with re used tracery, externally it is almost entirely modern; the second is a 12th-century window similar to those in the N. wall, but now blocked, and the third is a late 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head; W. of the windows is the 12th-century S. doorway (see Plate p. 83) with a semi-circular head, which is roll-moulded and axe-worked, the tympanum is of several stones, all being axe-worked; the jambs have twisted shafts with crude voluted capitals and bases with spur ornament; the internal lintel is formed by a coffin-lid (see Fittings).
The West Tower (12 ft. square) is of three stages with an embattled parapet and a S.E. stair-turret; all the detail is of early 15th-century date, but has been much restored. The two-centred tower-arch is of two orders, the outer moulded and continuous; the inner order is chamfered and rests on semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The W. window is of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head; the W. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred head. In the second stage the S. and W. walls have each a single-light window with a two-centred head. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the reveals are moulded.
The South Porch (11 ft. by 9½ ft.) has a plain outer archway of brick of c. 1500. The side walls have each a window of two pointed lights in a square-headed external reveal, all of brick. Over the S. doorway (see Plate, p. 83) are traces of the gabled roof of a former porch of slight projection.
The 15th-century Roof of the nave is high-pitched and of five bays; the trusses have cambered tie-beams and octagonal king-posts with moulded capitals and bases; the collar-beams have four-way struts; in the soffit of the E. tie-beam is a mortise hole, possibly for the former rood. The S. porch has a high-pitched roof of c. 1500, with moulded and embattled wall-plates, two cambered tie-beams with octagonal king-posts, and an external bargeboard, carved and cusped.
Fittings—Bells: four; 1st by William Culverden, 16th-century; 2nd by John Dier, 1600; 3rd by John Grene, 1572. Brasses and Indents. Brasses: In chancel—on N. respond of chancel-arch, (1) of Anne, (Tuer) wife of Thomas Field, 1615, rectangular plate with kneeling figure and shield of arms; on S. respond, (2) of Alice, wife of Doctor Tuer, vicar of the parish, 1619, kneeling figure with shield of arms. Indents: In chancel—on N. wall, (1) of kneeling figures of man in armour, and his wife, rectangular plate, two shields and two scrolls all in a sunk panel with an ogee head, and a band of cresting above it, early 16th-century; in nave— (2) of figure, groups of sons and daughters, inscription plate, four shields and thirteen scrolls, late 15th or early 16th-century. Coffin-lid: In nave— used as internal lintel of S. doorway, ornamented with axe-work and a small cross, 12th-century. Door: In nave—in S. doorway, panelled, with boss for ring, key scutcheon and wooden stocklock, late 15th-century. In stair-turret of tower— two, with strap-hinges, probably 15th-century. Glass: In chancel—in S.E. window, small roundel with leopard's face in black, 15th-century. Niche: S. porch—over archway, outside, with chamfered jambs and four-centred head, c. 1500. Piscina: In chancel—double, with moulded two-centred arches having dog-tooth ornament, shafts with foliated capitals and moulded bases, dog-tooth ornament on jambs, two drains, c. 1225, possibly repaired in 15th century. Plate: includes cup of 1562, cover-paten of 1595, standing paten of c. 1700, and alms-dish without marks. Pulpit: octagonal, stem of oak, with three carved consoles, c. 1625, rest modern. Stoup: In porch—in N.E. corner, remains, of brick, c. 1500. Miscellanea: In chancel—in N. wall, niche with rounded chamfered head and chamfered jambs, date and purpose uncertain. In tower—scratched on jambs of lower doorway of stair-turret, inscriptions, 15th-century and later date.
(3). Place Farm or Elsenham Place, house, barn and dove-cot, 600 yards N. of the church. The House is of two storeys; the walls are timberframed and plastered, and the roofs are tiled. The plan is H-shaped, the E. wing was built in the 16th century, and the rest of the house in the 17th century. Some of the internal walls show the original close-set vertical timber-framing, and the 17th-century part of the house has some contemporary oak panelling and stop-chamfered ceiling-beams.
The following buildings are almost all of the 17th century, and of two storeys, timber-framed and covered with plaster; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Almost all the buildings have original chimney-stacks, wide fireplaces and chamfered ceiling-beams.
(4). Wells' Charity, an almshouse consisting of three tenements ½ m. W.N.W. of the church, was founded about 1656. On the W. front the upper storey projects at the N. end, and there is a steep-pitched dormer with an original casement window.
(5). Cottage, now two tenements, about 750 yards S.W. of the church, is of one storey with attics, and was built probably late in the 16th century. In front, the close-set timber-framing is partly exposed and a panelled door of oak is original.
(8). House, 130 yards N.E. of (7), is of two storeys with attics, and is built of brick. The S.E. front has a gable at each end. At the back there are also two gables, and the original chimney-stack has four octagonal grouped shafts.
(15). Loppingdale Farm, house, ¾ m. S.E. of the church. On the S. front at the E., end is a gable faced with modern brick. At the E. end of the building is a projecting chimney-stack with an original base.
(16). Barn at Cox's Farm, 300 yards W.N.W. of (15). The timber-framed walls have brick filling, and are partly weather-boarded. The plan is L-shaped. The roof is original, of the king-post type with curved braces.