An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2, Central and South west. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1921.
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81. SHEERING. (C.b.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxxi. S.E. (b)xli. N.E.)
Sheering is a small parish and village 2½ m. N.E. of Harlow. The Church is the principal monument.
b(1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands S. of the village. The walls are of flint-rubble with some Roman brick; the dressings are of stone or clunch except the quoins of the N.W. angle of the nave, which are of Roman brick; the roofs of the chancel and N. vestry are tiled, that of the nave is covered with lead. There was probably a 12th-century church on the site. The West Tower was built or begun late in the 13th century. The Nave was re-built probably in the 14th century, the Chancel was re-built late in the same century, and at the same time the South Porch and North Vestry, with a chamber over it, were added. The upper part of the W. Tower was also added or re-built at this period, and was repaired in the 16th century with brickwork. In 1903–4 the North Aisle was added and the S. porch almost entirely renewed, and the whole of the church has been much restored and strengthened by the addition of modern stonework.
The late 14th-century stained glass and the 14th-century painted consecration cross are noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (24 ft. by 17 ft.) has in the E. wall a late 14th-century window, partly restored, of five cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head. In the N. wall, opening into the N. vestry, is a late 14th-century doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred head; the jambs have attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the moulded label has stops carved with male heads wearing foliated crowns; the rear-arch is three-centred and hollow chamfered; above and E. of the doorway is a late 14th-century trefoiled piercing with a circular label on the S. side and, on the N. side, set in a recess with a shelf; further W. is a modern archway to the organ chamber. In the S. wall are two late 14th-century windows partly restored; the eastern is of two cinque-foiled lights under two-centred arches in a square head; the western is similar but of three lights; between the windows is a late 14th-century doorway partly restored, with jambs of two chamfered orders and a modern head. The triple chancel-arch is modern.
The late 14th-century North Vestry (14 ft. by 11½ ft.) was originally of two storeys. In the E. wall are two windows; the lower is modern except for the splays and four-centred rear-arch; the upper has a cinque-foiled light and tracery in a square head with three-centred rear-arch; it is modern externally; three old hooks on the splays indicate a former shutter or door. In the N. wall at the higher level is a small plain rectangular window, modern externally and with a three-centred rear-arch.
The modern Organ Chamber has in the N. wall a late 14th-century window, restored, of three cinque-foiled ogee lights under a square head, all re-set, probably from the N. wall of the chancel.
The Nave (40½ ft. by 20 ft.) has a modern N. arcade. The S. wall has an embattled parapet, now plastered; in the wall are two windows, the eastern is modern; on each side, but below it, are visible the jamb-stones of a former wide archway or recess; the western window is similar to the two-light window in the S. wall of the chancel, but is modern externally; between the windows is the late 14th-century S. doorway, slightly restored, with moulded jambs and two-centred arch in a square head; the jambs have each two attached shafts with moulded capitals and moulded octagonal bases; the moulded label has carved head-stops, the eastern with a bearded man, the western modern; the spandrels of the head are traceried and enclose shields, (a) a cheveron with five rings thereon, between three slipped quatrefoils, and (b) a fesse between two cheverons. In the W. wall is a 13th-century arcade of three bays, the middle bay forming the tower-arch and the flanking bays forming recesses; the piers are chamfered with broached and moulded stops and moulded abaci; the S. respond of the S. recess has a moulded capital, apparently of earlier date; the arches are two-centred and chamfered; the middle arch is of two orders, the inner order with moulded imposts.
The modern N. aisle has in the W. wall a re-set window, uniform with the S.W. window of nave.
The 13th-century West Tower (9½ ft. square) is of three storeys, which are not marked externally; it has a late 16th-century embattled parapet of brick, and modern stone quoins and bondingstones. The ground storey has in each of the N., S., and W. sides an original arched recess similar in detail to the tower-arch; in the W. wall is a lancet-window, modern externally. The second storey has a similarly restored window in the S. wall. The third storey or bell-chamber has in each wall a late 14th-century window of two quatrefoil lights and a depressed quatrefoil under a semi-circular arch; the N. and E. windows are partly restored, the other two are modern externally.
The South Porch has a late 14th-century outer archway, partly restored, and with moulded responds, each with three attached shafts having modern capitals and bases; the moulded arch is two-centred. In the E. wall is a late 14th-century trefoiled and square-headed window, partly restored, and in the W. wall is a modern window.
The Roof of the chancel is probably of the 16th century and is of two bays divided by a heavy collar-beam with curved braces; the wall-posts are carried on moulded oak corbels. The late 14th-century roof of the nave is of two bays with tie-beams, having curved braces carried on wall-posts, which rest on moulded oak corbels; above the tie-beams are king-posts with four-way struts carrying a central purlin, and posts with three-way struts carrying the side purlins. In the roof of the N. vestry one old timber is visible, but otherwise the roof is ceiled. The roof of the S. porch has old plain rafters. The W. tower has a pyramidal roof incorporating some old timbers.
Fittings—Bells: four; 1st and 3rd by Miles Graye, 1619; 2nd probably by William Wightman, dated 1682; 4th probably by Richard Keene, dated 1702. Brass: In nave—to Robert Hurste, 1583, and Anne his wife, 1573, inscription only. Consecration Cross: In nave—below S.W. window, painted red cross with flowered ends within a circle, 14th-century. Doors: In chancel—in N. doorway, (1) of plain battens with a narrow panel of carved quatrefoils between two small beads, partly restored (Plate p. 85); three strap-hinges, the middle strap with fleur-de-lis cross-arms; above it, a ring-handle in a sexfoil plate, late 14th-century. In nave—in S. doorway, (2) divided into five vertical panels by chamfered fillets, and hung on two long strap-hinges; original oak lock, late 14th-century. (3) see under Staircase. Floor-slab: In chancel—to Margaret, wife of Richard Sayer, 1705, with shield of arms. Font: broken up and stored in tower—square bowl with shallow round-headed panels, cylindrical stem and square plinth with bases of detached shafts, 12th-century. Glass: In tracery of E. window—figures representing eight of the orders of angels with their names beneath, in the middle a Coronation of the Virgin (Plate p. xxxiv), with two censing angels, late 14th-century. In S.E. window of chancel—tabernacle work, borders, etc., in situ and fragments, late 14th-century; in S.W. window—in tracery, borders and roses, in situ, late 14th-century. In N. window of organ-chamber—fragments of borders, late 14th-century. Locker: In chancel—in N. wall, plain rectangular recess with rebated and chamfered edges. Painting: see Consecration Cross. Piscina: In nave—in S. wall, rectangular moulded recess with modern sill, probably 15th-century. Plate: includes cup of 1561, with narrow bands of zig-zag ornament, and paten probably of same date, stamped with fleur-de-lis. Staircase: In W. tower, of solid oak balks, enclosed by a framed partition of oak timbers filled in with elm boards, at foot an elm door hung on strap-hinges, probably 16th-century. Miscellanea: Loose in W. tower— pieces of late 12th-century diaper facing; fragments of 14th-century tracing; corbel-head or label-stop; fragments of a foliated boss, and of small Purbeck marble coffin-slab with stem of cross, etc.
Condition—Good, much restored.
b(2). At site of former chapel, 1,500 yards W.S.W. of the church.
b(3). At Wheelers, 1,000 yards S. of the church.
b(4). On each side of the main street in the village several rectangular moated enclosures.
b(5). Sheering Hall, house and earthworks, 1,500 yards S.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of plastered timber-framing, and the roofs are tiled. It was built probably on a rectangular plan in the 16th-century, but has extensive modern additions at the back and at the N.W. end. On the middle of the S.W. front the upper storey projects, and there was apparently a similar projection on the original N.E. elevation.
The Earthworks, S.W. of the house, are remains of ditches and a strong rampart, which was possibly a retaining bank to maintain water in the moat; at the S.W. corner are mounds which may mark the site of a former sluice.
Condition—Of house, good, much altered.
b(6). Aylmers, house, barn and moat, 1¼ m. W.S.W. of the church. The House (Plate p. 44) is of three storeys; the walls are of plastered timber-framing, and the roofs are tiled. It was built probably early in the 17th century on a rectangular plan with a staircase wing at the back; later 17th-century additions N. of this wing make the present plan approximately Z-shaped. The vertical studs are exposed on the E., N. and W. elevations. On the E. front are three slightly projecting gabled wings which form bay windows on each storey; the middle wing is slightly larger than the others and probably originally contained the main entrance; some of the windows have moulded mullions and transoms, and those on the ground floor of the flanking wings have guilloche-pattern carved on the woodwork, both internally and externally; the original door is of oak panels with nail-studded muntins and an original drop-handle; parts of the moulded barge-boards are original and have moulded pendants. On the N. elevation the original block has a similar slightly projecting wing, with original barge-boards and pendants. Inside the building most of the rooms have exposed ceiling-beams and wall-posts, and there is an original wide open fireplace. The staircase retains an original newel-post.
The Barn, N. of the house, is timber-framed; the roofs are tiled; it was built probably early in the 17th century and the bays are divided by queenpost trusses.
The Moat is fragmentary.
Condition—Of buildings, poor.
The following monuments are of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Many of the buildings have original chimney-stacks, exposed ceiling-beams, and wide open fireplaces.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless mentioned.
b(7). Cottage and barn, N. of main street, ¼ m. N. of the church. The cottage was built in the 16th century on a plain rectangular plan. The original central chimney-stack has two diagonal attached shafts with an attached square shaft of slightly later date. Inside the building an original fireplace has an elaborately moulded and embattled oak bressumer, and one room is partly lined with late 16th-century panelling.
The Barn, W. of the cottage, is probably of the 16th century. It is of five bays divided by queenpost trusses.
Condition—Of cottage, fair; of barn, bad.
b(8). Chambers Farm, house on the S. side of the main street, 500 yards N.W. of the church, was built probably early in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the W. and S., and with a small gabled staircase-wing in the angle; there are modern additions at the back of both wings. On the S. elevation the upper storey of the S. wing formerly projected. The original central chimney-stack has diagonal pilaster-strips.
b(9). Newhouse, farmhouse 1 m. W.N.W. of the church, was built probably early in the 16th century on a rectangular plan with a gable at each end of the W. and E. elevations; later in the 16th or in the 17th century a third gable was added to both elevations and a small wing and other additions were built on to the N. part of the E. side; this wing was considerably extended in the 18th and 19th centuries. The late 16th or early 17th-century chimney-stack has diagonal pilaster-strips. Inside the late 16th or early 17th-century wing is some panelling of that date re-set.
b(10). Barn, at Quickbury, 1 m. N.W. of the church, has two porches on each side, and is of seven bays divided by queen-post trusses. On one of the tie-beams is carved the inscription, "Built 1687."
a(11). Cowicks, house 1,900 yards N.N.W. of the church, was built early in the 17th century on a rectangular plan, but has modern additions at the back. The original chimney-stack has oversailing courses at the top and diagonal pilaster-strips.