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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88. STAPLEFORD ABBOTS. (C.d.)
(O.S. 6 in. lviii. S.E.)
Stapleford Abbots is a parish 5 m. N. of Romford. Albyns is a monument of importance.
(1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands near the N. end of the parish. It was entirely re-built in the 19th century with the exception of the N. or Abdy Chapel, which is of 17th-century red brick and has a tiled roof.
The North Chapel was built in 1638 with a small lobby east of it. The lobby has segmental-headed outer and inner doorways, all plastered; above the latter externally is a date 1638 in brickwork; in the N. and W. walls are original round-headed windows, the arches externally of brick and the remainder plastered; the roof has a plastered and coved eaves-cornice, and the ceiling is coved.
Fittings—Chairs: two, high backed, pierced and carved, shaped arms on turned posts, turned and carved legs, shaped rails, late 17th-century. Door: In outer doorway of lobby—panelled, probably of 1638. Glass: In modern vestry—in E. window, figure of St. Edward the Confessor holding ring, early 14th-century. In N. chapel—three cartouches of arms, 17th-century, much restored. Helm: In N. chapel—on E. wall, combed and vizored helm with winged cap of maintenance and fleur-de-lis crest, late 16th-century. Monument: In W. tower on N. wall, to Francis Stonard, 1604. and Lucye (Higham), his wife, 1596, also to Henry Stonard, his brother, 1555, marble and slate tablet, panels of a larger monument, with shield of arms. Piscina: In chancel—with pointed head and foiled drain, re-set, probably 14th-century. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten, large paten and flagon, all of 1687 and given in 1688; alms-dish of 1692. Pulpit: hexagonal, sides panelled with arched heads and moulded pendants, arabesque frieze to cornice, early 17th-century.
(2). Albyns, house, stables and lodge, 1,000 yards N.E. of the church. The House is of three storeys; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It was almost entirely re-built c. 1620, but incorporates in the E. and S. ranges parts of a late 16th-century building, which probably had the great Hall in the S. range. On the rebuilding of 1620, the great Hall was transferred to its present position (A., see plan) in the N. range and a central passage pierced through the S. range. The most important modern alteration is the addition of the corridor on the N. side of the courtyard.
The house is an unusually complete example of the period; the staircase and some of the ceilings and fireplaces are noteworthy.
Elevations—The North Front is entirely of c. 1620 with modern cement dressings and quoins. It is symmetrically arranged and has an embattled parapet, behind which rise three pedimented gables; in the middle is a square projecting porch, and at each end is a three-sided bay window, all three projections being of two storeys. The window openings are old but the frames are modern. The porch has a semi-circular and rusticated archway flanked by rusticated Doric pilasters supporting an entablature; the inner doorway is square-headed and has a panelled and nail-studded door. The West Front is also of c. 1620 and of plainer character than the N. It has a three-sided bay window in the middle, with a pedimented gable above it and a plain gable at each end of the front (Plate p. 214). The South Front is generally similar to the N. front with the omission of the porch-wing. The E. bay window has been mostly re-built. The details of the plinth and string-course imply that most of the main S. wall belongs to the late 16th-century building, and there is a diagonal buttress of that date at the S.E. angle. In the middle of the front is a round-headed doorway with impost and key-blocks and set in a square-headed recess. The East Side, except for a part at the N. end, is entirely of 16th-century brickwork. It has two projecting wings, one at the S. end finished with a double gable, and one in the middle with a pent roof and crow-stepped parapets. The 16th-century string-course is carried round this side as far as and including the middle wing, which has some black brick diapering. Adjoining this wing is a projecting chimney-stack with moulded corbelling and re-built shafts. The early 17th-century part of this side has a plain gable. The Courtyard has in each angle a semi-octagonal stair-turret; the S.E. turret with the adjoining E. and S. walls is apparently of late 16th-century work, but the rest is of c. 1620. The windows are mostly of c. 1620 and have mullions and transoms both covered with cement. The chimney-stacks have diagonal shafts, some of them re-built. On the S. side is a 17th-century doorway similar to that on the S. front; it cuts into an earlier window, opening now mostly blocked. On the N.W. turret is a re-set rain-water head dated 1620.
Interior—The Great Hall (A) has modern fittings except for the dark marble fireplace with moulded jambs and flat arch. S. of it is the main staircase (B) of early 17th-century date (Plate p. 224); it is of dog-legged type with moulded rails and string and elaborate strap-work filling; the newels have square moulded pendants and terminals surmounted by carved female figures, probably representing the Arts and Virtues. The Dining Room (C) has a 17th-century plaster ceiling with moulded trabiations enriched with strap-work. The fireplace is flanked by panelled oak pilasters and has an overmantel divided into three bays by carved and rusticated Ionic columns standing on open pavilions; the mantel-shelf and entablature are carved and the bays have moulded and enriched panels. The S.W. Room (D) has a late 16th-century stone fireplace (Plate p. 222), with moulded jambs and pentangular arch with carved spandrels, above is a panelled and fluted frieze; flanking the fireplace are fluted oak pilasters of the 17th century, supporting a carved shelf and a panelled and carved overmantel of two bays with partly rusticated Ionic columns and an entablature with jewel ornament. The walls are lined with early 17th-century panelling surmounted by a frieze with jewel ornament. The S.W. Turret (E) has an early 17th-century staircase with turned balusters, moulded rail and string. The next room (F) has original ceiling-beams and a late 16th-century stone fireplace with stop-moulded jambs and four-centred arch with carved spandrels. There is also an original door of moulded battens. The entrance corridor on this side has a dado of 17th-century panelling. The S.E. Turret (I) has a staircase similar to that in the S.W. Turret. The room (K) on the E. side of the courtyard has original moulded ceiling beams, and the passage next to it has dadoes of late 16th and early 17th-century panelling. In a window is a 16th-century quarry with a true lover's knot and the initials E.S. The N.E. Turret (L) now contains stairs to the cellars only. The N.E. Room (M) is lined with early 17th-century panelling with a frieze of jewel and strap ornament. The fireplace is flanked by early 17th-century pilasters with strap-ornament and has a panelled overmantel of two bays with partly rusticated columns and a frieze similar to that round the room. The next room (H) has a dado of early 17th-century panelling.
On the first floor, the room above part of the Hall (A) has an early 17th-century panelled ceiling with coved sides, enriched ribs, strap-work panels and moulded pendants; the tympana at the ends of the room have each a medallion head and conventional foliage (Plate p. 223). The fireplace is flanked by fluted Doric columns supporting a carved shelf and an overmantel of two richlypanelled bays, with coupled and carved Ionic columns, standing on common pedestals. The Long Gallery occupies the whole of the W. side of the house, and has an early 17th-century panelled ceiling of similar character to that last described, but without pendants. The fireplace (Plate p. 222), set in recess in the E. wall is of black marble with stop-moulded jambs and square arch; flanking it are pairs of diminishing oak pilasters with jewel and other ornament supporting a shelf covered with strap-work and masks; the overmantel has two large panels, arched in perspective and divided and flanked by pairs of terminal figures, each pair flanking a shell-headed niche and supporting an entablature with pierced cresting. The main strapworked entablature is continued round the walls, which are covered with early 17th-century panelling; the window splays have fluted Ionic pilasters. The doors are of early 18th-century date and are surmounted by broken pediments. The room over (F) has a late 16th-century stone fireplace with stop-moulded jambs and four-centred arch with carved spandrels; the shields in the spandrels have been painted with the initials and date RAK 1654; the overmantel is probably of mid 17th-century date and has a large moulded panel flanked by round-headed panels with pierced tympana. The walls are lined with early 17th-century panelling and one door with a second in the adjoining corridor are of late 16th-century moulded battens. The next room to the E. has a stone fireplace with a pentangular head and shields in the spandrels, painted with the arms of Abdy. The overmantel is of three panelled bays with diminishing Ionic pilasters; the panels are painted with an architectural subject and two female figures; the shelf has convex brackets painted with lions' faces, and the main entablature has triglyphs and a dentilled cornice. The room over the kitchen has a fireplace similar to that last described, with the initials and date R K A 1654 painted on the shields; a pediment above has a painted cartouche of Abdy impaling Gayre; the fireplace is flanked by panelled pilasters supporting a panelled overmantel of two bays divided by round-headed panels and partly rusticated columns. The walls have late 16th or early 17th-century panelling, the panels painted with heraldic charges, etc., from the Abdy arms. The window has pilasters with strap-work ornament. The room over (K) has ceiling-beams with plaster foliage-ornament; the ceiling has interlacing quatre-foiled panels with fleurs-de-lis and flowers (Plate p. 225); this ceiling extends over the adjoining passage. The late 16th-century fireplace has moulded jambs, pentangular arch and carved spandrels; it is flanked by fluted oak pilasters and the overmantel has three round-headed panels with carved spandrels and enriched pilasters. The walls have a rich plaster frieze with vases, conventional foliage and putti. There is also some early 17th-century panelling. The N.E. room has an early 17th-century panelled ceiling with foliated ribs. The fireplace has a marble surround flanked by pilasters with jewel ornament; the overmantel is of two bays with round-headed arches in perspective and shaped pilasters; each panel has a painted fleur-de-lis.
The Stables, E. of the house, are of c. 1620 and of two storeys; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. The original gables have moulded copings and brick finials; the original windows have moulded and plastered jambs and mullions. The chimney-stack has three diagonal shafts, largely re-built.
Some of the garden walls are of early 17th-century date, others of late 17th-century, including a pair of gate-piers with stone heads (Plate p. 158).
The Lodge, N.W. of the house, is a small octagonal building of brick and of the 17th century. It has been considerably restored.
(3). House, about 1,550 yards N. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built late in the 17th century and has three hipped roofs. The chimney-stack at the S. end has a large painted sundial with the date and motto, "A.D. 1635 Horas non numero nisi serenas."
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered or weather-boarded; the roofs are tiled. All of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, or fairly good.
(4). Hammonds, house, ½ m. N.N.W. of the church, has a cross-wing at one end and an original chimney-stack with grouped diagonal shafts.
(5). Bons Farm, house, 500 yards E. of (4), was built in the 16th century or earlier with cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. The upper storey projects at the N. ends of the cross-wings; one projection has a moulded bressumer and the gable above has plain foiled barge-boards; the other gable has a moulded pendant at the apex. The upper storey projects also at the S. end of the W. wing and has a moulded bressumer with traces of a former projecting window below it. The central chimney-stack has eight grouped diagonal shafts of the 17th century. Inside the building the upper room of the main block has two Tudor roses and a fleur-de-lis above a blocked fireplace.
(6). Cottage (Plate p. 44), at Martins Hern, nearly ¾ m. E. of the church, has exposed timber-framing in front with brick nogging.
(7). Blackbush, house, 1 m. S.W. of the church, was built in the 16th century with cross-wings at each end.
(8). Foundations, etc., on site of Knowle's Hill, ¼ m. S.E. of (7). The remains are mainly those of the lay-out of the gardens and terraces of the former house. A well-defined roadway known as Lord's Walk extends towards the S.