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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3. ASHEN. (E.a.)
b (1). Parish Church of St. Augustine of Canterbury stands in the village. The walls are of flint rubble with dressings of limestone and clunch; the stair-turret of the tower is of brick. The roofs are tiled. The Nave was built probably in the first half of the 13th century. The West Tower was added c. 1400, and c. 1525 the stair-turret was added to the tower. The South Porch was built probably c. 1600. In 1857 the Chancel was rebuilt, the nave lengthened a few feet towards the E., and the North Vestry and Organ, recess were added.
Architectural Description—The Nave (40 ft. by 18½ ft.) has, in the N. wall, two windows; the eastern is of one 18th-century light, set in a 15th-century opening, from which the mullion and tracery have been removed; the western is an early 13th-century lancet window, apparently widened in the 18th century. Between the windows is the N. doorway of c. 1320, now blocked; it has jambs and two-centred head of two moulded orders. In the S. wall are three windows, the easternmost is of late 15th or early 16th-century date, and of two plain lights under a four-centred head; the second window is a 13th-century lancet light with chamfered and rebated jambs and head; the westernmost window is of late 15th-century date and of two plain ogee lights under a square head; the lights and spandrels may have been formerly cusped. Between the two western windows is the S. doorway of c. 1400, with jambs and two-centred head of two moulded orders and having a moulded label.
The West Tower (10 ft. square) is of three stages with a moulded plinth, embattled parapet, and an early 16th-century S.E. stair-turret of brick with a stone plinth; the stair turret is carried above the parapet and has remains of an embattled parapet supported by trefoiled corbelling. The tower-arch of c. 1400 is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the responds have each a semi-octagonal attached shaft with a moulded capital and base. The W. window is of c. 1400 and of two cinquefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. In the W. wall of the second stage is a window of one cinquefoiled light. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window originally of the same date and detail as the W. window; they are much weathered and the mullions and part of the tracery have been removed.
Fittings—Bells: three; 1st and 2nd by Thomas de Lenne, c. 1333; 1st inscribed 'Alicia, Ave Maria Gra. Plena Dns. Tecum'; 2nd inscribed 'Thomas, Ihc, Nazaren Rex Judeorum'; 3rd by Henry Jordan, late 15th-century, inscribed, 'Sit Nomen Domini Benedictum.' Bell-frame, old. Brass: In nave—at E. end, of man in plate armour, with besagues, and woman with high-waisted gown and horned head-dress, c. 1440, indents of inscription plate and four shields. Chests; In second stage of tower—two, plain and iron-bound, probably c. 1700. Doors: In S. doorway—plain, with large stock lock, uncertain date, strap-hinges with damaged foliated ends, 13th-century. In doorways to turret staircase—two, one of chamfered battens and one plain, probably 16th-century. Font: with plain octagonal bowl of oolite, stem of clunch, possibly 15th - century, much scraped. Monument: In nave—on N. wall, to Luce (Cotton) wife of John Tallakarne, 1610, painted tablet, flanked by terminal figures and having three shields of arms. Niches: External: on W. tower—on S. side of turret staircase, with cinquefoiled head, early 16th-century, much defaced; on W. wall of second stage, plain with pointed head, c. 1400. Panelling: used as a dado in the 18th-century pews, early 17th century. Plate: includes a cup and cover-paten of c. 1570. Seating: In nave—set in wainscot against N. wall, panel inscribed, 'This hath bin the churching the mearring stool and so it shall be still 1620'; at W. end—one front, and two open seats, with buttressed ends, late 15th-century. Stoup: In porch—E. of S. doorway, traces, date uncertain.
b (3). Ashen House and moat, 520 yards N. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are partly of plastered timberframing and partly of brick; the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1540, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and W., but was much altered and partly rebuilt late in the 17th or early in the 18th century. There are modern additions on the N. side. The E. end of the W. wing has a hipped roof and an early 18th-century dentilled cornice under the eaves. The chimney-stack of the S. wing is built of old bricks.
Interior—On the ground, floor the two main rooms have early 18th-century panelling on the walls, with a cornice and dado-rail; the southern room has also a fireplace with a moulded architrave and panelled jambs; the overmantel has an enriched cornice and encloses a landscape, painted on canvas; on each side are five original linen-fold panels, re-fixed. Above a doorway in the passage between the main rooms is some oak framing, round four original panels carved with foliage and heads, two male and two female; all surmounted by an enriched cornice of late 17th-century date. The staircase has a moulded rail and turned balusters and newels of early 18th-century date. The store-room in the W. wing has 16th-century panelling on the walls, and an early 18th-century panel over the fireplace; covering the fireplace opening is some linen-fold panelling, and there is some old panelling in a cupboard. On the first floor the bedrooms have early 18th-century panelling.
c (4). Claret Hall, 1½m. N.E. of the church, is of two storeys with a cellar; the walls are timberframed and plastered, and the roofs are tiled. It was built about the middle of the 16th century, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and E. There is a modern wing on the N.E., making the plan half-H-shaped. The original central chimney-stack has a moulded capping, a sunk panel on the W. face, and four octagonal shafts with moulded bases and modern tops. Inside the building, on the ground floor, some of the rooms have exposed ceiling-beams.
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, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.
b (9). Street Farm, house, 80 yards N.W. of the church, was built early in the 16th century, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W. The Hall occupied the middle of the N. wing, with the Solar on the N., and the Screens on the S. leading to the Buttery in the W. wing. On the E. front, the upper storey projects, with plain curved brackets; at the N. end of the front is a gable. On the N. side of the W. wing is a 16th-century bay window with a moulded oak frame. Inside the building, the Hall, the Screens, and the parlour at the N. end have original moulded ceilingbeams and joists. In the Hall are two original doorways with four-centred heads; the ledged and boarded doors are old.
b (11). The Red Cow Inn, two tenements, 70 yards S. of (10), is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W. There are modern additions on the W. side and at the N. end. The original central chimney-stack has grouped shafts and pilasters, set diagonally.