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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ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS OF ENGLAND.
REPORT TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
We, the undersigned Commissioners, appointed to make an Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions connected with or illustrative of the contemporary culture, civilisation and conditions of life of the people in England, excluding Monmouthshire, from the earliest times to the year 1714; and to specify those which seem most worthy of preservation, humbly submit to Your Majesty the following Report on the Monuments in the North-Western Division of the County of Essex, being the Fourth Interim Report on the work of the Commission since its appointment.
2. We venture to renew to Your Majesty our humble thanks for the constant encouragement given by Your Majesty to the work of the Commission, and for Your Majesty's gracious permission to extend our Reference to the year 1714.
3. It is with great regret that we place on record the death, on active service, of one of Your Majesty's Commissioners, the Hon. Sir Schomberg Kerr McDonnell, a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, a Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, one of our most esteemed Members, whose knowledge and experience, always at the disposal of the Commission and its executive staff, were of proved value to our deliberations. He was killed in action while serving as Major in the 5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders in the trenches in Flanders on November 23rd, 1915.
Out of a total of fourteen persons three, who were undergoing their annual training as volunteers on the night of August 4th, 1914, were mobilised at once; four have entered the new armies and have obtained commissions since that date; four, including our Secretary, were invited to serve at the War Office in April, 1915, on the staff of the Armaments Output Committee and were incorporated in the Ministry of Munitions on the formation of that Office in June of the same year; with the result that before the close of the calendar year 1915, three only remained in the service of the Commission.
5. We had hoped that, in view of our immediate and independent recognition of the need for men and for women in spheres of work more directly concerned with the conduct of the War, it might have been possible to allow the retention of this limited number in our service. For this reason and in view of the special work entrusted to us, to which reference is made in the succeeding paragraph, we deeply regret the necessity that was felt by the Lords Commissioners of Your Majesty's Treasury to discontinue all payments to the remaining staff from the 31st March of this year. We loyally accept the decision, but at the same time we feel that the complete closing down of the office and the dispersal of the staff must make it more difficult to gather up the broken threads when the time comes for the resumption of the Commission's work.
6. We have been able, nevertheless, to complete our First Interim Report on Essex, although our visitation of the remainder of the County and of the Cities of London and Westminster remains unfinished.
In Essex the strategic importance of the County rendered the movements of our Investigators so suspicious in the eyes of the Military Authorities that, in view of the trouble caused by their constant arrest, detention and release, we desisted from further investigation at the request of the Chief Constable.
In London our progress was uninterrupted save by the limitation of our staff as described above, and we have completed a large part of the records and plans of churches and other structures. In especial, we have prepared a plan of Westminster Abbey and its precincts, which we believe to be the first attempt to make an exhaustive survey of the medieval monastic remains. We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. J.O. Cheadle, A.R.I.B.A., for the loan of drawings in this connection, which he generously placed at our disposal, and we desire to refer here to the remarkable series of full-plate photographs of the interior of the Abbey, and St. Paul's Cathedral, which has been taken by Mr. J. W. Bloe, one of our senior investigators.
Further, our Investigators were entrusted by the Home Office with a commission to make photographs and reports to that office on monuments that had been damaged by air raids, and it may be noted that, owing to the completeness of our records, it would have been possible to have replaced the broken pieces from the windows of Lincoln's Inn Chapel, which were unique of their date, had the action of those in charge been supervised by men possessing the requisite knowledge.
7. We should add that when the War began in August, 1914, the preparation of the present Inventory was practically complete. The text was in type, and the blocks for the illustrations had been manufactured. Only a few items here and there needed revision. After full consideration and with the consent of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury we have thought it best to issue the volume now rather than to store both proofs and blocks and to keep the type standing for a further period until the end of the War.
8. Some 2,042 monuments are described from 85 parishes in North-West Essex, an average of 24 monuments per parish as compared with the averages of 10 per parish in North Buckinghamshire, 15 per parish in South Buckinghamshire, and 8 per parish in Hertfordshire. It should be added that the great increase in Essex is due only to a very small extent to the extension of the date of our enquiries from A.D. 1700 to A.D. 1714.
10. This list has been referred for revision to special representatives of the Essex Archæological Society and to the Clergy and principal landowners in each parish. We are satisfied that no important example within the given period has been omitted.
We have further referred the descriptions of inscriptions and glass to M. R. James, Esq., F.B.A., D.D., Provost of King's College, Cambridge; descriptions of Armour to C. J. ffoulkes, Esq., Curator of Your Majesty's Armouries in the Tower of London; descriptions of heraldry to the Rev. E.E. Dorling, F.S.A.; descriptions of Costumes and Records of names to J. Oswald Barron, Esq., F.S.A.; and descriptions of Brasses to Mill Stevenson, Esq., F.S.A.
We desire to offer our grateful thanks to these gentlemen for the time they have bestowed on the matters submitted to them, and for the increase in scholarship and accuracy of description which has resulted from revision at the hands of these acknowledged experts.
12. A fuller account of the monuments mentioned in these lists, with illustrations, will be found in the Inventory which is issued under the advice of the Lords Commissioners of Your Majesty's Treasury as a separate Stationery Office publication.
13. The Glossary attached to the Inventory has been revised by a special Committee consisting of your Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners, Sir John Horner, Mr. Oswald Barron, F.S.A., Mr. D. H. Montgomerie, F.S.A., Sir Wm. St. John Hope, and Mr. G. H. Duckworth, F.S.A., with the especial assistance of Mr. John Bilson, F.S.A., with the object of making the explanations as brief as possible and at the same time supplying such definitions as will be intelligible to the general reader. In view of the existence of words with a peculiar local significance, it is proposed that the Glossary shall be revised whenever a new County comes under our review.
14. The Index has also received careful revision at the hands of a Sub-Committee consisting of Mr. Wm. Page, General Editor of the Victoria County Histories, Mr. C. R. Peers, and Mr. G. H. Duckworth, and we think it of general interest to append to this Report the main subject headings that have been adopted.
15. In the Inventory itself it will be noted that a paragraph has been introduced at the beginning of each parish in which the position of the parish is defined, and attention called to the principal monuments in the parish.
Further, in order to curtail descriptions, the smaller monuments have been grouped and each group is introduced by a covering paragraph which deals generally with their appearance, type and condition.
16. We desire to call attention to the assistance given to our work by the members of the Essex Archæological Society, who sub-divided the County and placed at our disposal the services of an expert member in each division.
(1) To Sir Hercules Read, LL.D., F.B.A., former President of the Society of Antiquaries, and Keeper of British and Mediæval Antiquities and Ethnography at the British Museum, to G. F. Hill, Esq., Keeper of Coins and Medals in the British Museum, and to C. R. Peers, Esq., F.S.A., Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments in Your Majesty's Office of Works, Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, for acting as a standing Committee to assist the Chairman in the consideration of differences of opinion on technical questions.
19. We desire further to express our acknowledgment of the good work accomplished by our Executive Staff in the persons of Mr. J. Murray Kendall, F.S.A., Mr. A. W. Clapham, F.S.A., Mr. J. W. Bloe, Mr. C. C. Durston, Mr. W. H. Godfrey, F.S.A., Mr. W. Byde Liebert, and to Mr. E. A. Rahbula; to Miss E. M. Keate, on whom has devolved the work of checking and copying the proofs of the Inventory and Index, and to Miss M. V. Taylor, M.A., for her investigation into the Roman Remains in the County of Essex.
21. We desire once more to express our high opinion of the services of our Secretary, Mr. G. H. Duckworth, whose connection with the Commission since its appointment has been one long record of ability, power of organization and devotion to duty.
Inasmuch as the sittings of the Commission are now suspended indefinitely and it is uncertain when the work can be resumed, we desire to take this opportunity of placing on record our deep appreciation of the able manner in which the Chairman has directed our deliberations and by his wise counsel and guidance has enabled the Commission to overcome the difficulties inherent in the preliminary organization of the scheme under which the work of the Commission has already been successfully started and, it is hoped, will ultimately be completed.