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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106. WITHAM. (G.b.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxxiv. S.E. (b)xxxv. S.W. (c)xliv. N.E. (d)xlv. N.W.)
Witham is a town and parish 9 m. N.E. of Chelmsford. The Church, the Burgh, the House (41), Howbridge Hall and the Barn (54), are the principal monuments.
b(1). Parish Church of St. Nicholas stands on the W. side of the High Street of Chipping Hill. The walls are of flint and pebble-rubble, in parts mixed with brick; the vestry is of rag-stone rubble; the dressings are of Barnack and a close limestone; the roofs are covered with slates and lead. There is evidence of a late 12th-century nave, but c. 1330 the whole structure was re-built, including the Chancel. Nave and West Tower, and North and South Aisles were added, a late 12th-century doorway being re-set in the S. aisle. Late in the 14th century the North Vestry was built and the South Porch added, and late in the 15th century the North Chapel was added, followed shortly after by the South Chapel.
The late 12th-century doorway is a good example of the period, and among the fittings the 15th-century chancel screen, the late 16th-century monument and the Jacobean alms-dish are noteworthy.
Architectural Description.—The Chancel (39 ft. by 20 ft.) has an E. window of three lights, all modern except the splays and two-centred rear-arch which are probably of the 14th century. In the N. wall is a blocked window with a two-centred rear-arch, probably of the 14th century; further W. is a late 14th-century doorway to the vestry, with moulded jambs and two-centred arch with carved square flowers, all much restored; further W. is a late 15th-century four-centred arch of two moulded orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. In the S. wall is a late 15th-century arcade of two bays with four-centred arches of two moulded orders; the pier is of quatrefoil plan and the responds have attached half columns, all with moulded capitals and bases. The two-centred chancel-arch is of c.1330 and of two moulded orders; the responds have attached shafts with moulded capitals and modern bases.
The North Vestry (20 ft. by 11 ft.) was originally of two storeys with a stair turret in the N.W. angle but the floor and stairs have been removed. In the E. wall is a modern lower window and a late 14th-century upper window of one plain square-headed light. In the N. wall is a lower window of two lights, all modern except for part of the trefoiled head of one light which is of late 14th-century date; there are two upper windows similar to that in the E. wall. In the N.W. angle are two late 14th-century doorways one above the other and opening from the former turret staircase; the lower has a two-centred and the upper a segmental head. In the W. wall is a modern doorway.
The North Chapel (15 ft. by 12 ft.) has in the N. wall a late 15th-century window of four cinque-foiled lights with tracery under a segmental-pointed head with a moulded label; the external jambs have been restored. In the W. wall is a late 15th-century arch similar to that in the N. wall of the chancel and partly restored; in the S.W. angle of the chapel is a 15th-century doorway to the former rood-loft staircase, now blocked and re-set; it has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square-head with a moulded label.
The South Chapel (38 ft. by 11 ft.) has in the E. wall a late 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head and all much restored. In the S. wall are three late 15th-century windows, all much restored and each of three cinque-foiled lights under a segmental-pointed head. Between the second and westernmost windows is a late 15th-century doorway with moulded jambs and modern arch. In the W. wall is a 15th-century archway, four-centred and of two chamfered and one moulded order; the responds have each an attached shaft with moulded capital and base.
The Nave (65 ft. by 20 ft.) has N. and S. arcades of four bays and of c. 1330, the arches are two-centred and of two moulded orders; the piers have each four attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the responds have attached half columns. In the N.E. angle is a splay to inclose the rood-loft staircase and in the splay are two doorways, the lower one is modern, the upper one at the level of the loft is of the 15th century and has hollow-chamfered jambs and four-centred arch. On the N. side of the adjoining N. wall is the outline of a doorway with a pointed head in modern plaster. The clearstorey has on each side four windows; the two eastern are of early 16th-century date, and each of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; those in the S. wall are modern externally. The two western windows are circular and of the 14th century; the westernmost of these windows in the N. wall has a modern wooden frame and all have relieving arches of early 16th-century brick. In the E. gable is a single cinque-foiled light of the 15th century.
The North Aisle (11½ ft. wide) has in the N. wall three windows of c. 1330 and each of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery under a two-centred head with a moulded label and rear-arch; they are much restored externally. Between the two western windows is the 14th-century N. doorway, now blocked,and having moulded jambs and two-centred arch with a moulded label and rear-arch. In the W. wall is a window similar to those in the N. wall, but all modern externally.
The South Aisle (11½ ft. wide) has in the S. wall three windows; the two western are similar to those in the N. wall of the N. aisle, but the eastern window is entirely modern externally, but has elaborately moulded splays and segmental-pointed rear-arch of late 14th-century date; between the western windows is the late 12th-century S. doorway (Plate p. 38), re-set in the 14th century; the two-centred arch is of three moulded orders with cheveron ornament to the outer order, and a 14th-century moulded label with head-stops; the jambs have each two free and one attached shaft with moulded bases, having spur ornaments and 14th-century moulded capitals. In the W. wall is a window similar to the W. window in the N. aisle.
The West Tower (11 ft. square) is of three stages with diagonal buttresses at the western angles, a modern stair turret at the N.E. angle and a modern embattled parapet; the diagonal buttresses have each a plain cross on a sloping "calvary," outlined in stone, on the outer face just above the plinth. The two-centred, 14th-century tower-arch is of three moulded orders; the responds have heavy semi-circular shafts with moulded capitals and bases; there is re-used 12th-century work in the responds, and 13th-century work in the outer orders of the arch. In the N. wall is a large recess with jambs and two-centred arch of brick and probably connected with a former gallery. The W. window is similar to the windows in the aisles and much restored; the 14th-century W. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred arch with a moulded label. The second stage has in the N., S. and W. walls a 14th-century window of one trefoiled light with a moulded label. The belfry has in each wall a 14th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights under a two-centred head with a chamfered label.
The South Porch has a late 14th-century outer archway with moulded jambs and two-centred arch. The E. and W. walls have each two modern windows and the embattled parapet is also modern.
The Roof of the N. chapel is of the 15th century and of flat, pent form with moulded principal, purlin and wall plates. The 15th-century roof of the N. vestry is plain, but has against the S. wall a king-post with three-way struts. The late 15th-century pent-roof of the S. chapel has moulded principals and purlin and one moulded plate. The plain roof of the nave is of doubtful date and has plain tie-beams forming four bays. The 14th-century pent-roof of the N. aisle has moulded tiebeams with foliage stops; the easternmost has also an embattled cresting and a carved grotesque face; above the tie-beams are struts. The roof of the S. aisle is similar to that of the N. aisle, but the lower mouldings of most of the tie-beams have been cut away and the struts and purlin are moulded, The S. porch has a moulded principal under the N. end of which is a wooden corbel inscribed, "Samuel Cardel Churchwarden 1700."
Fittings—Bells: six; 3rd and 4th by Richard Bowler, 1601; 5th by Miles Graye, 1627. In tower—cracked bell by Richard Bowler, 1601. Brass Indents: In chancel—(1) of man, wife, groups of children, inscription plate and probably four shields, late 15th-century; (2) of inscription plate; (3) of man and inscription plate. In nave—(4) of man, wife, inscription plate and groups of children, late 15th or early 16th-century. In N. aisle—(5) of figure in shroud, scroll, shield and inscription plate. In S. porch—(6) and (7) slabs with brass rivets. Chest: In vestry— with three locks, 16th-century. Coffin-lids: In N. chapel—coped slab with cross and wheel head, late 12th-century. In S. chapel—with stepped calvary and raised and foliated cross, 13th-century. Doors: In doorway of N. vestry—with moulded ribs and two strap-hinges, circular pierced scutcheon-plate with drop handle, late 14th-century. In S. chapel —in S. doorway, panelled and nail-studded, with triangular head inscribed, "1632 GEORGE ARMOND," all set in a modern door. InS. doorway —of two folds with moulded ribs, panels with traceried heads at springing-level and an embattled rail above, 15th-century. Helms: In vestry— four funeral helms (Plate p. 85), all with vizors (a) a late 15th-century armet; (b) a late 16th-century helmet; (c) a troopers' helmet, 17th-century; (d) a funeral dummy. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In chancel—on N. wall, (1) of Mary (Nevell), widow of Thomas Smith and wife of Francis Harve, 1592, recessed tablet (Plate p. 251) of alabaster and marble with side pilasters, cornice and obelisks, kneeling figures of man in armour and wife at a prayer-desk, four shields of arms; (2) to Robert Barwell, 1697, and Sarah (Newman) his wife, white marble tablet with cherubs' heads and achievement of arms. In N. chapel—against N. wall, (3) of John Southcotte, justice of the Queen's Bench, 1585, and Elizabeth (Robins) his wife, altar-tomb with effigies of man in Judge's robes and woman in cloak and ruff and close cap; on sides of tomb four shields of arms; on splay of adjoining window, tablet with Corinthian side columns and achievement of arms. In S. aisle—on S. wall, (4) to George Lisle, rector of Rivenhall, 1687, black and white marble tablet with shield of arms. Floor-slab : In chancel—to Elizabeth, wife of Samuel . . . ., 1664. Niche: In N. wall, with moulded jambs and trefoiled head, 14th-century. In S. chapel—in E. wall, recess with segmental-pointed head, plastered over, date uncertain. Painting: In vestry—wooden panel with arms and inscription, "The arms of Richard Kendlemarsh and Dennics Barnard his wife 1616." Panelling: In vestry—carved and pierced panel with shield and initials B.E.I., late 17th-century. Piscina: In chancel—with square head and shelf, 15th-century, sill broken. In S. chapel— with moulded jambs and cinque-foiled head, 15th-century but mutilated. Plate: includes alms-dish or basin elaborately engraved and with shield of arms in centre, the gift of Lady Barnardiston, 1617. Royal Arms: In S. chapel—on beam, arms of William III. carved and painted wood. Seating: In chancel—two seats with curved and moulded arm rests, panelled back and base, late 15th or early 16th-century, much altered and used as sedilia. Tiles: In N. vestry—on sills of windows, slip tiles with conventional designs and three with reversed quartered shields of the arms of Burgundy; at sides and base the "steel" badge of Burgundy and the Golden Fleece. Screen: under chancel arch, of eight bays, of which the two middle bays form doorway, each bay with septfoiled and sub-cusped head; side bays with ogee cusped and crocketed sub-heads, moulded rail with Tudor flower ornament, close lower panels with cusped and sub-cusped heads; doorway with two-centred cusped and sub-cusped head, crocketed on the upper side; "East Anglian" type, late 15th-century, considerably restored, loft modern.
Condition—Good, but some cracks over chancel-arch.
d(2). Earthworks (Plan p. 266) on the supposed site of the Burg, built by Edward the Elder, stand on Chipping Hill, about ½ m. N. of the town. The fortifications appear to have consisted of two con-centric lines of entrenchment of irregular oval plan, now represented by scarps and depressions, for the most part very slight, except on the W., where there is a well-marked rampart and scarp dropping sharply to the marshy ground near the river Brain.
The inner work, which stands at a higher level than the outer, appears to have covered about 9½ acres and the outer work about 26¼ acres.
Condition—Poor. Much built upon.
c(3). Homestead Moat, at Blunt's Hall, 1,500 yards S.W. of the parish church, has a strong inner rampart.
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. Many of the buildings have original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
Chipping Hill, E. side
b(4). Block of tenements (Plate p. 96) opposite the churchyard, was built probably in 1714, the date on an oval plaster panel in front, with the initials T.W., S.N., F.R. and W.S.
b(5). House, two tenements, S. of (4), is part of a 15th-century building, of which the S. part has been destroyed. The upper storey projects and is gabled at the N. end of the W. front. Inside the building the main block has an early 16th-century fireplace with a four-centred head and an embattled cornice; the opening has been divided by an inserted floor.
b(6). Block of four tenements, 20 yards S. of (5), has a chimney-stack at the back with three tabled offsets.
b(7). House, with shop, S. of (6). The S. part was built about the middle of the 16th century, but the N. part was added in the 17th century. The original part of the house has moulded ceiling-beams and joists.
b(8). Woolpack Inn, 50 yards N.E. of the church, has large 18th-century and modern additions and has been refronted.
b(9). House and three tenements, S.S.E. of the church. The tenement building is partly of the 15th century but the western part of it is of 17th-century date. Inside the building one part has remains of original roof construction.
b(10). House (Plate p. 257) and smithy, at fork of road, 20 yards S. of (9), was built probably in the 15th-century with cross-wings at the N.W. and S.E. ends. The upper storey projects at the S.W. end of the S.E. cross-wing. The central chimney-stack has two 17th-century shafts set diagonally.
a(11). House (Plate p. 257), at S.W. corner of the churchyard, was built c. 1500 with a cross-wing at the E. and W. ends. The upper storey projects at the S. end of the W. wing. Inside the building one room has an original moulded ceiling-beam and joists, and there is a 17th-century door with moulded battens. The 17th-century staircase has turned balusters and moulded hand rails.
a(12). Cottage (Plate p. 257), two tenements S. of (11), has a later extension on theW.
b(13). House (Plate p. 257), three tenements, on S. side of main street, 100 yards S. of the church, was built probably late in the 15th century with a cross-wing at the E. and W. ends. The upper storey projects at the N. end of the cross-wings. The central chimney stack projects on the N. front and has a recess with a double trefoiled head of brick. Inside the building there is an original moulded wall-plate and some early 17th-century panelling.
b(14). House (Plate p. 257), two tenements, 20 yards E. of (13), has a projecting upper storey on the N. front.
b(15). House (Plate p. 257), and shop, E. of (14), was built in the 16th century with a cross-wing at the E. and W. ends. The upper storey projects at the N. end of the W. wing.
b(16). House, 20 yards E. of (15), was built possibly in the 16th century and has a late 17th-century addition at the back. The brick front is of the 18th century. Inside the building is some late 16th-century panelling, a 17th-century panelled door and some original cambered and braced tie-beams.
d(17). Moat Farm, house, 200 yards S. of the church, was built late in the 16th century and has a 17th-century wing on the S. side. The chimney-stack of the S. wing is cross-shaped on plan. Inside the building the early 17th-century staircase has flat, wavy balusters. There is an original doorway with a four-centred head and on the first floor is a 17th-century door with strap-hinges.
Newland Street, N.W. side
d(18). Avenue House, ½ m. S.E. of the church, was re-built late in the 17th or early in the 18th century and was refronted in 1757. The front doorway has an early 18th-century shell-hood with carved consoles. Inside the building are some re-used moulded beams of the 16th century.
d(19). The George Inn, 200 yards S.W. of (18), was built c. 1600. In front the upper storey projects.
d(20). House with shops, 70 yards S.W. of (19), was built late in the 16th century. The former projecting upper storey has been under-built.
d(21). House with shop, 300 yards S.W. of (20) and 200 yards N.E. of Witham Bridge.
d(22). Houses with shop, S.W. of (21), were built as one house, probably late in the 16th century, and there are late 17th-century and modern extensions at the back.
d(23). House, 20 yards S.W. of (22), was built in the 16th century. Inside the building the middle room has an original moulded and carved ceiling-beam.
S. E. side
d(24). Freebournes, house, 70 yards S. of (18), was built possibly early in the 16th century with cross-wings at the N.E. and S.W. ends, but was largely reconstructed in the 17th century. The upper storey projects in front, at the ends of the cross-wings. Inside the building there is a central newel staircase of the 17th century and a door of original linen-fold panelling.
d(25). Red Lion Inn, 100 yards S.W. of (24), was built early in the 17th century, but there are indications that the middle block is part of an earlier building, heightened. The central chimney-stack has a diagonal shaft and a moulded capping.
d(26). House, with three shops, S.W. of (25), has inside the building an original moulded bracket.
d(27). House, with shops, S.W. of (26).
d(28). White Hart Hotel, 30 yards S.W. of (27), was built about the middle of the 16th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E. There are remains of earlier work in the roof of the E. wing. A second wing towards the S.E. was built in the 18th century, and the front has been refaced with brick. Inside the building, the ceiling-beams of the main block have original wall-posts and moulded brackets of various designs with roses, ornamental panels, etc.
d(29). Angel Inn, 10 yards S.W. of (28), was built late in the 16th century, but has a modern brick front and modern additions at the back. Inside the building is an original doorway with a shouldered head.
d(30). House, with shop, 10 yards S.W. of (29), was built in the 15th century, but has been completely altered externally. Inside the building the original roof is of two bays with a cambered tie-beam and hollow-chamfered king-post.
d(31). Spread Eagle Hotel and house, 10 yards S.W. of (30), were originally one building. The wing behind the house is of the 15th century, but the main building is of late 16th-century date, altered in the 17th century, and with modern additions at the back. On the N. side of the 15th-century wing the upper storey projects and inside the same wing are remains of the original roof construction.
d(32). House, with shop, 100 yards S.W. of (31), is of three storeys.
d(33). House, 170 yards S.W. of (32), has inside the building two original staircases with heavy turned balusters and moulded rails. The original chimney-stack with two diagonal shafts is visible in the roof.
d(34). House, with two shops, 30 yards S.W. of (33).
d(35). Cottage, with two shops, 50 yards S.W. of (34) and 50 yards N.E. of Witham bridge, has inside the building an original window with moulded mullions and now blocked.
Mill Lane, E. side:—
d(36). Range of five tenements, 1,100 yards S. of the parish church.
Bridge Street, N.W. side:—
c(37). House, 180 yards S.W. of Witham bridge, was built c. 1700.
c(38). House, three tenements, 30 yards S.W. of (37), has a projecting upper storey in front.
c(39). House, two tenements, S.W. of (38), was built early in the 18th century, and has in front an oval plaster panel dated 1703.
d(40). House, two tenements, 65 yards S.W. of Witham bridge. The northern tenement was built late in the 16th century, and the southern probably re-built late in the 17th century.
d(41). House (Plate p. 44), three tenements, 30 yards S.W. of (40), was built early in the 16th century with cross-wings at the N.E. and S.W. ends. Early in the 17th century the middle block was divided into two storeys with a gable in front. In front the upper storey projects and has a moulded and enriched bressumer at three levels; the timber-framing is exposed and at the base of the gable of the S.W. wing is an original moulded beam carved with running foliage. Under the projecting upper storey of this wing are curved brackets, carved with a hand, a cock and hen, and foliage; in the middle is the original moulded head of a former bay window. Inside the building the S.W. wing has an original moulded ceiling-beam carved with running foliage and moulded joists.
c(42). House, two tenements, opposite (34), has a projecting upper storey at the N.E. end of the N.W. front.
c(43). House, three tenements, S.W. of (42), was built late in the 16th century. Inside the building is an original moulded ceiling-beam.
d(44). Howbridge Hall, 1 m. S. of the church, was built late in the 16th century with two projecting wings on the N.E. side. Inside the building there is some original panelling and moulded ceiling-beams and an original panelled door. One room has an early 17th-century glass shield of arms of the quartered coat of Jenour with a text and border. A bedroom on the first floor has moulded plaster trabiations of the 17th century, and above the fireplace a plaster shield of arms of Jenour with supporters and strap-ornament.
d(45). Benton Hall (Plate p. 111), about 1,100 yards S.E. of (44), has two original chimney-stacks with octagonal shafts. Inside the building are two original doors of moulded battens.
c(46). Barn, at Malthouse, 600 yards W. by N. of (44), is of late 16th or early 17th-century date, and has a porch on the S. side.
c(47). Cupper's Farm, house and barn, ½ m. N.W. of (44). The House has a modern addition at the E. end.
The Barn, S. of the house, was built in the 16th century and is of four bays with a S. porch.
c(48). Wheeler's Farm, house, about 1¼ m. S.W. of the church.
a(49). Power's Hall, house and barns, about 1 m. W. of the church. The House was built late in the 16th century, but has been refaced with modern brick. The original chimney-stack has moulded offsets.
The Barn (Plate p. 114), S.E. of the house, is of the 15th century and of seven bays, with aisles and two gabled porches on the E. side; the roof is of king-post type. Another barn, N.E. of the last, is of the 17th century and of five bays with aisles.
a(50). Cottage, two tenements, at Powershall End, ½ m. W. of the church.
a(51). Cottage, two tenements, 70 yards E. of (50).
a(52). House, on the N. side of the road, 300 yards E.N.E. of (51), was built probably early in the 16th century. The upper storey projects and is gabled at the E. end of the S. front.
a(53). Barn, and wall of house, at Chipping Hill Bridge, 250 yards W. of the church. The Barn is of red brick and was formerly a house with central hall and cross-wings at the N. and S. ends, built in the second half of the 16th century. The crosswings have crow-stepped gables at the E. ends and the S. wing has a large projecting chimney-stack and an original doorway with a square moulded label. Inside the building are several small recesses with four-centred heads, and a fireplace with a head of the same form.
The Wall, adjoining the road, is of red brick, and has buttresses on the inner side; it is of late 16th or early 17th-century date.
Condition—Of barn and wall, bad.