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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108. WOODHAM WALTER. (G.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)liii. N.E. (b)liv. N.W.)
Woodham Walter is a parish and small village 2½ m. W. of Maldon. The principal monuments are the Church and the Bell Inn.
a(1). Parish Church of St. Michael (Plate p. 271) stands at the S. end of the village. The walls are of red brick with limestone dressings, and the roofs are tiled. The whole church, consisting of Chancel, Nave, North Vestry and North Aisle, was built in 1563, and is said to have been consecrated in 1564. The church was restored in the 19th century, when the bell-turret was re-built. The former church is said to have stood near the Hall, and some of its roof timbers were probably re-used in the existing building.
The church is interesting as a dated example of its period.
Architectural Description.—The detail is all of c. 1563, unless otherwise noted. The Chancel and Nave (63½ ft. by 21 ft.) are structurally undivided, but there is a break in the roof levels, 21 ft. from the E. end. The E. wall has a crow-stepped gable and a modern E. window. In the N. wall is an arcade of three bays with moulded four-centred arches, resting on columns each with four attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the responds have each an attached shaft with a moulded capital and base; further E. is a doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred arch, and above it is a wooden board let into the wall and inscribed 1563 J.P. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern is of two cinque-foiled lights under a square head and is modern externally, the western window is similar but of three lights; E. of the windows is a doorway with a four-centred head and now blocked; W. of the windows is the S. doorway, also blocked; the head is overgrown with ivy. The W. window is uniform with the S.W. window and is modern externally.
The North Vestry has a crow-stepped E. gable, and in the E. wall is a window of two trefoiled lights under a square head with a moulded label, much decayed.
The North Aisle (38 ft. by 12ft.) has in the N. wall three windows, each of three cinque-foiled lights under a segmental head with a moulded label; further W. is the N. doorway with moulded jambs and a four-centred arch in a square head with a moulded label; the spandrels have blank shields. In the W. wall is a window similar to those in the N. wall, but of two lights.
The Roof of the chancel has plain rafters and braced collar-beams. The roof of the nave is similar, but has two moulded tie-beams and one pair of arched braces to the collar-beam, resting on moulded brackets. The modern bell-turret at the W. end of the nave rests on two old oak posts. The roof of the N. aisle is similar to that of the nave and has a moulded tie-beam and wall plates.
Fittings—Bells: three; 1st by Miles Graye, 1676; 2nd by Giles or Henry Jordon, 15th-century. Brass and Indent. Brass: In chancel—plate with death's head, indent of inscription, mid-17th-century. Indent: In nave—of figure, inscription plate and shield, probably 15th-century, on tapering slab, much worn. Doors: In vestry doorway—of feathered battens with old strap-hinges, 16th-century. In N. doorway, similar to last, 16th-century, partly restored. Floor-slab: In nave— to Prescilla, successively wife of John Wiseman, John Solme, and Anthony Buckenham, 1647. Font: octagonal bowl, alternate sides with quatre-foiled circle enclosing a blank shield, and two panels with cinque-foiled heads, stem with cinquefoil-headed panels, probably 15th-century, base modern. Glass: In nave—in S.W. windows, seven roundels with suns in splendour, nimbed heads and flower, etc., 15th-century. In middle window of N. aisle—roundel with figure of reaper and fragments of border. 15th-century. Painting: In nave—on arches of arcade, remains of foliage pattern, 16th-century. Plate: includes cup of 1646, inscribed W.W. 1672, and stand-paten of 1706. Royal Arms: In nave—at W. end, Stuart arms of 1660 on wood.
Condition—Fairly good, some decayed stonework and some repaired cracks in walls.
b(2). Woodham Walter Hall, remains and moat, about 550 yards S.E. of the church. The Remains consist of the bases of walls adjoining the moat, of a large house probably of the 16th century; the walls are of brick and battered, and some exposed foundations are of rubble and re-used freestone. There are indications of two projecting wings on the W. front, with traces of an entrance placed centrally between them. The northern wing apparently had turrets at the N.W. angle and a projecting turret on the N. side. There are remains of buttresses and projections to the southern wing. Within the area of the house is a roofless cellar, probably of the 17th century, with three recesses in the walls.
The Moat is incomplete and dry.
Condition—Of house, ruinous.
b(3). Oak Farm, house, about 700 yards S.S.E. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls of the original block are of brick with a timber-framed and weather-boarded wing on the W.; the roofs are tiled. The brick house was built in the 16th century, probably as a lodge or outbuilding to Woodham Walter Hall; the timber-framed wing was added in the 17th century, and there are modern additions on the E. side. The original block has a moulded plinth and string course, and in the N. and S. ends are original windows with moulded jambs and mullions partly restored; there are similar windows in the E. side.
a(4). The Bell Inn (Plate p. 96), about 200 yards N.N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. The walls are timber-framed and plastered and the roofs are tiled. The house was built in the second half of the 16th century on a rectangular plan, a wing was added on the N. side in the 17th century, and there are also modern additions on this side. On the S. front, the upper storey projects at the W. end on curved brackets, and has a moulded bressumer carved with a running pattern of oak leaves and acorns; the gable also projects and has barge-boards carved with running vine ornament and finished with enriched pendants. Inside the building some stop-chamfered ceiling-beams are exposed.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Many of the buildings have original chimney-stacks, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, or fairly good unless stated.
b(5). Ashman's Farm, house, about ¾ m. E. by N. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.E. and N.W.
b(6). Cottage, now three tenements, 150 yards E. of (5).
b(7). Cottage, about 1 m. N.E. of the church.
a(8). Cottage, about 800 yards N.W. of the church, has a brick wall to the S. front. The original central chimney-stack has two conjoined shafts, set diagonally.
a(9). Raven's Farm, house, now two tenements, nearly 1 m. N.N.W. of the church, was built in the 15th century with a central Hall and cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. Late in the 16th century a first floor was inserted in the Hall and the roof heightened. On the N. front the upper storey projects at the ends of the cross-wings; on the W. wing is an original carved bracket, and a portion of the bressumer carved with running foliage is visible in the modern porch. At the N. end of the W. wing is a moulded 17th-century window-frame. Inside the building are some 17th-century doors and a 17th-century staircase with a moulded handrail, flat-shaped balusters and a carved newel. The roofs of both cross-wings are original and have cambered tie-beams and king-posts with two-way struts.
a(10). Westbowers, house, 1,600 yards N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics and basement. It was built c. 1600 with a staircase wing on the E. side. On the E. side the upper storey projects, and S. of the staircase wing it has curved brackets and a moulded bressumer. The original central chimney-stack is cross-shaped on plan and set diagonally. Inside the building there is some original panelling with a fluted frieze, and one room has two fluted pilasters with moulded capitals. On the first floor there is an original moulded ceiling-beam.
a(11). Bassetts, house, nearly 1½ m. N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. It was built late in the 16th century on a Z-shaped plan. There is an original window with a moulded mullion, now blocked. Inside the building there are two wall-posts with moulded heads, and one room has complete original panelling with a moulded cornice.