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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26. GESTINGTHORPE. (E.b.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xi. N.E., (b)xii. N.W., (c)xi. S.E., (d)xii. S.W.)
Gestingthorpe is a parish and village about 5 m. N. of Halstead. The Church and five 15th-century houses are the principal monuments.
b (1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands on the N. side of the village. The walls are of flint rubble with dressings of limestone and clunch, some of the tiles in the walls are probably Roman; the W. tower and S. porch are of red brick; the roofs are covered with tiles and lead. The Chancel was built probably early in the 13th century, and the Nave may be of the same date, but the earliest detail is of c. 1330. The North Vestry and the South Aisle were added c. 1330. Early in the 15th century the S. aisle was practically rebuilt. The clearstorey of the nave and the South Porch were built c. 1500; the West Tower was added c. 1530. The church was restored late in the 19th century, when the chancel-arch and the wall on each side of it were rebuilt, a rood-loft staircase in the S.E. angle of the nave being destroyed; the S. arcade of the nave was reconstructed and the South Organ-chamber added at the same time.
The W. tower and the roof of the nave are interesting examples of early 16th-century work.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (32½ ft. by 19½ ft.) has an E. window of c. 1320, and of five trefoiled lights with net tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the mullions have been restored. In the N. wall are three windows; the easternmost is a 13th-century lancet, now blocked; the second window is of c. 1340 and of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery under a two-centred head, which has a moulded label; the westernmost window has a 15th-century moulded E. jamb and splay; the rest of the window has been partly blocked and altered, and has a wooden frame with a segmental head, dated 1678. Between the eastern windows is a doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred arch, probably of the 14th century; between the western windows is a doorway of the same date and similar detail, but possibly not in situ. In the S. wall are two windows similar to the second window in the N. wall; the eastern is now blocked, and the western has been entirely restored externally; further W. is a modern archway. The chancel-arch is modern except for a few voussoirs which are probably of late 14th or early 15th-century date.
The North Vestry is probably partly of the 14th century, but the N. end is probably modern, and there are no ancient details.
The South Organ-chamber is modern, but, re-set in the E. wall is an early 14th-century window, slightly restored and of two cinquefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the label is moulded; the window was formerly in the S. wall of the chancel.
The Nave (42½ ft. by 24 ft.) has, in the N. wall, three windows in the lower range; the easternmost is modern, the second window is of the 15th century, and of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a four-centred head; the label has been cut away, but the carved head-stops remain; the westernmost window is of c. 1330, and of two ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the moulded external label has grotesque stops. The S. arcade is of early 14th-century date, reconstructed in the 19th century; it is of three bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the columns and responds are modern. The clear-storey has, in the N. wall, near the W. end, a window of two four-centred lights in a square head, and probably of the 16th century; a similar window is said to have been removed from near the E. end of the wall. In the S. wall are three modern windows which are said to have replaced windows similar to that in the N. wall.
The South Aisle (about 9 ft. wide) has a 16th or 17th-century embattled parapet of red brick with crocketed brick pinnacles. In the E. wall is a modern arch. In the S. wall are two windows probably of early 15th-century date and partly restored; they are each of three cinquefoiled ogee lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head; all the parts, including the label, are moulded; further W. is the 15th-century S. doorway with jambs and two-centred arch of two moulded orders, with a moulded label.
The West Tower (15½ ft. by 14 ft.) is entirely of early 16th-century date, and of red brick with diapering of blue brick (see Plate p. 99); it is of four stages with a S.E. staircase-turret and a crow-stepped embattled parapet resting on a corbel-table of trefoiled arches. The two-centred tower-arch is of four orders, the two outer square and continuous, and the two inner orders chamfered and resting on a semi-octagonal attached shaft. The W. doorway has jambs and four-centred arch of four chamfered orders with a moulded label; the W. window is of three four-centred lights with modern mullions and tracery under a four-centred head; the label is moulded. The third stage has, in the N. and in the S. wall, a loop with a segmental-pointed head. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window of three lights with modern mullions and tracery under a four-centred head with a moulded label.
The South Porch is of early 16th-century date. The outer entrance has a two-centred arch. The E. and W. walls have each a window of one light, that on the E. having a four-centred and that on the W. a segmental-pointed head.
The Roof of the nave is of c. 1500 (see Plate p. 100), and has seven elaborate double hammer-beam trusses; the timbers are all moulded, the spandrels have traceried filling and the lower hammer-beams and wall-plates are carved with twisted foliage; the side-posts are buttressed and finished with carved pendants; the hammer-beams and collar have curved braces; those below the collar form a four-centred arch with a carved pendant at the apex; the N. wall-plate is inscribed 'Petir Barnard Marget hys wyf.,' and the S. wall-plate—'Thomas Loveda and Alys hys wyf.' The lean-to roof of the S. aisle is of c. 1500, much restored, and of three double bays; the timbers are all moulded, and the principals have curved braces with carved spandrels, one has a shield charged with three cheverons. The roof of the S. porch is probably of early 16th-century date, and has two king-post trusses with moulded and embattled wall-plates.
Fittings—Bells: six; 1st by Miles Graye, 1659; 2nd, 3rd and 4th by Miles Graye, 1658. Brasses and Indents. Indents: In tower—(1) of figures of man and wife with inscription-plate and 19 scrolls, 15th-century; (2) of figures of man and wife with inscription-plate, probably early 16th-century. Chests: In vestry—dug-out, with two compartments, each with an iron-bound lid and four locks. In upper stage of tower—dug-out, with five iron straps and locks, date uncertain. Doors: In S. doorway—of moulded battens, early 16th-century. In tower—in doorway of turret staircase, with hollow-chamfered fillets planted on, and straphinges, 16th-century; in W. doorway with square framing and strap-hinges, 16th-century. Font: (see Plate p. xxix.) octagonal bowl, three sides carved with the symbols of three evangelists, one blank, the rest cusped, and enclosing roses or blank shields; traceried stem with moulded and carved base, 15th-century. Glass: In nave—in the lower western window in N. wall, in tracery, quatrefoil, in one light, small figures of the Virgin and Child, partly old, and set in diapered green glass within a yellow patterned border, probably late 15th-century. At the Rectory—several fragments, 14th and 15th-century, found in blocked window in chancel. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monument: In chancel—on N. wall, of John Sparrow, 1626, alabaster tablet with kneeling figure in armour, set in a round-headed niche, achievement of arms above pediment. Floor-slab: In tower—to John Elliston, 1691, and Mary his wife. Paintings: In nave—on W. wall, on canvas, of Moses and Aaron, late 17th or early 18th-century. Piscinæ: In chancel—with moulded jambs and cinquefoiled head, trefoil drain, early 14th-century, sill broken. In S. aisle—with moulded jambs and cinquefoiled head, sexfoil drain, probably early 15th-century, sill broken. Recess: In S. porch— in S.E. angle, with square head and oak lintel, date and purpose uncertain. Screen: Under chancel arch—incorporated in modern screen, two bays, with trefoiled, sub-cusped and traceried heads; the heads with carved crockets and finials; carved rail and close lower panels; in each bay two panels each with traceried head and band of quatrefoils at base; panels formerly painted, and said to have had figures of St. Peter Martyr and St. Giles, 15th-century. Sedilia: In chancel— of three bays with moulded jambs and two-centred heads, probably c. 1340, easternmost head and all labels modern. Stoup: In S. porch—in E. wall, semi-circular recess, probably part of stoup, early 16th-century. Miscellanea: In churchyard—N. of chancel, various architectural fragments, including bases, jamb-stone, fragment of coffin lid, etc. In chancel—fragments of five coffin-lids, 13th-century. In vestry—three slip tiles.
d (2). Homestead Moat, S. of Park Farm, 2½ m. S.S.E. of the church.
d (3). Moat Farm, house, pigeon-house, and moat, nearly 1¼ m. S. of the church. The House is of two storeys; the walls are timberframed and plastered, and the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 15th century on a half-H-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. There is a 16th or 17th-century addition at the back of the W. wing, and modern additions on the W. side of the same wing, and at the back of the E. wing.
The 15th-century doorway with shafted jambs. is of interest.
Interior—On the ground floor in the original N. wall of the W. wing is the four-centred head of an original external doorway, now blocked; in the E. wall of the E. wing is the round head of another original doorway, also blocked. Between the W. wing and the former Hall in the central block is an original doorway; it has a two-centred head, moulded label, and shafted jambs with moulded capitals and bell-bases much defaced. There are two old doors of moulded oak battens. In the roof of the main block is an original truss with a central purlin and a square king-post with chamfered edges.
The Pigeon-house, E. of the house, is of three storeys, but was originally of two. The walls are timber-framed and plastered, and the roof is tiled. The structure is probably of the 17th century.
The Moat is incomplete.
Condition—Of house and pigeon-house, good.
b (4). Over Hall, house and pigeon-house, 200 yards N.W. of the church. The House was entirely re-faced with brick and partly rebuilt in the 18th century, but the N. end possibly incorporates remains of a building of early 17th-century date. Inside the building, on the ground floor, a fireplace in the central chimney-stack has an overmantel not in situ, of c. 1625, and of three bays divided by fluted pilasters supporting an enriched entablature; the central bay has a round-headed carved panel and the side bays have rectangular panels with frames of later date. A room at the N. end of the house is lined with panelling, also of c. 1625.
The Pigeon-house is timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It is of mid 17th-century date, but has modern rough-cast and imitation halftimbering. The roof is pyramidal and has four little gables, one on each side, all with original barge-boards carved with vine and other ornament; in addition, on the E. side there is a gabled dormer with similar barge-boards. On the W. side is an original window with a moulded frame, and a lintel carved with the initials I.A.E. probably for I. and A. Elliston.
Condition—Of house and pigeon-house, good.
b (5). Nether Hall, ½ m. N.N.W. of the church. The house is of two storeys; the walls are timber-framed and plastered and the roofs are tiled. It is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E. The E. wing was built in the 15th century and then probably formed part of a larger house; the S. wing is modern, and there is a modern addition on the N. side of the E. wing. The N. elevation has been re-faced with modern brick.
Inside the building, on the ground floor in the original block, are three 17th-century doors. In the upper storey an original king-post roof-truss is visible.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Some of the buildings have wide fireplaces, original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
b (6). The Vicarage, 50 yards N.E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. It was built in the 17th century, but has been partly re-faced with modern brick, and so much altered that the original plan cannot be distinguished. On the N. elevation are four gables.
b (7). Cottage, now two tenements, 40 yards S.W. of the church, was built probably late in the 16th century. On the N. front are two gabled dormer-windows, both original and of three lights with moulded frame and mullions; the bargeboards and the cornice above the windows are moulded and dentilled.
d (8). Barn, at Rectory Farm, about ¾ m. S. of the church, has weather-boarded walls. It was built in the 17th century, but has been much repaired or perhaps rebuilt; it is of five bays with an aisle on the N. side.
d(9). Crouch House, about 1 m. S.S.W. of the church, was built in the 17th century, and is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S.E. and S.W. The S.W. wing was added, apparently in the 18th or 19th century; the building has been partly re-faced with modern brick. The original central chimney-stack has attached polygonal shafts.
d (10). Old House, nearly 2 m. S.S.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. It was built probably in the second half of the 16th century, but has a modern addition at the W. end. At the E. end the upper storey projects and has an original moulded bressumer.
d (11). Park's Farm, house, 2½ m. S.S.E. of the church, was built in the 15th century on an Hshaped plan, with a central Hall open to the roof, and cross-wings at the S.W. and N.E. ends. Late in the 16th century an upper floor and a chimney-stack were inserted in the Hall and another chimney-stack was built against the S.W. or Solar wing. On the N.W. elevation the upper storey of the two wings originally projected, but was under-built in the 18th century; in the upper storey of the central block is an early 17th-century window of two lights. On the S.W. elevation is a late 16th-century chimney-stack with two octagonal shafts on a moulded base.
Inside the building, in the S.W. wall of the N.E. wing at the back of the former Screens, are two original doorways with four-centred heads, one of them is now blocked.
c (12). Parkgate Farm, house, about 1 m. S.W. of the church, was built in the 15th century, with a central Hall and cross-wings at the N. and S. ends. In the 16th or early 17th century an upper floor was inserted in the Hall, and a projecting, chimney-stack added on the N. side of the N. or Solar wing. There are modern additions at the back. On the W. front the upper storey of the S. wing projects and is supported by curved brackets; the upper storey of the N. wing originally projected, but has been under-built. Inside the building, in the roof of the original Hall, is a king-post truss, and all the timbers are blackened with smoke. The roofs of the wings have similar trusses.
c (13). Edye's Farm, house, about 7/8 m. S.W. of the church, was built in the 15th century, with a central Hall. In the 16th century an upper floor was inserted in the Hall. Inside the building, on the ground floor of the N.E. part of the house, is an original doorway with a four-centred head. In the upper storey, at the E. end, is a window, possibly original, with diamond-shaped bars, now blocked. In the upper storey of the former Hall is a complete 15th-century roof-truss, with a moulded tie-beam and curved braces forming a four-centred arch, and supported by shaped and chamfered wallposts; the king-post has a four-way strut. Parts of other original trusses remain.
a (14). Park Farm, house, 1¼ m. W.S.W. of the church, was built in the 17th century and extended at the N.E. end in the 18th century; it has modern additions at the back. On the N.W. elevation is an original window with a diamond-shaped bar, now blocked.