An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 3, North East. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1922.
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32. GREAT BRAXTED. (B.d.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxxv. S.W. (b)xlv. N.W. (c)xlv. N.E.)
Great Braxted is a parish and hamlet 2½ m. E. of Witham. The church and Tiptree Priory are the principal monuments.
b(1). Parish Church of All Saints (Plate, p. 109) stands in Braxted Park. The walls are of septaria mixed with flint, freestone and Roman bricks; the dressings are of clunch and Roman bricks, and the roofs are tiled. The Nave and the W. half of the Chancel were built early in the 12th century when the church probably terminated eastwards in an apse. Early in the 13th century this apse was removed and the chancel extended to its present length; shortly afterwards the West Tower was added but it is doubtful whether it was ever completed. The South Porch was added in the 15th century. The church was restored in the 19th century when the North Chapel and Vestry were added, the chancel-arch rebuilt and the timber belfry and spire probably renewed.
The coursed rubble walling of the chancel is interesting.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (32 ft. by 16½ ft.) has in the E. wall three 13th-century lancet windows, almost entirely modern externally. There is a break in the N. and S. walls of the chancel showing the junction of the 12th and 13th-century work; the 12th-century work shows traces of an inward curvature at this point suggesting the spring of a former apse; this is most apparent in the N. wall; the 12th-century walls are of coursed rubble and on the N. side have regular courses of tufa and Roman tiles, two courses being set herring-bone-wise. In the N. wall are three windows, the two eastern are 13th-century lancets both partly restored; the westernmost window is of early 12th-century date and with a round head of tufa. In the S. wall are four windows of which the three eastern are 13th-century lancets completely restored externally; the westernmost window is in two divisions, the upper a lancet light and the lower a square-headed 'low-side' window, much restored externally, both are probably of the 13th century; W. of the second window are the external jambs of a 13th-century doorway, now blocked. E. of the easternmost window on each side are the socket holes for a beam formerly across the chancel. The chancel-arch is modern.
The Nave (38 ft. by 20 ft.) has S. quoins of Roman brick and a plastered N. wall. In the N. wall is a modern arch and two windows, the eastern window is of the 12th century but widened and altered in the 17th or 18th century; the western window is modern as is the doorway E. of it; high in the wall a round patch probably indicates a former round window like those in the S. wall. In the S. wall are three completely restored windows in the lower range, except the 14th-century splays and rear-arch of the middle window; in the upper range are two round and sexfoiled windows probably of the 14th century but with modern jambs; around the eastern the jambs and round head of a 12th-century window are indicated internally; above the second window of the lower range is the Roman brick head of another 12th-century window. The 14th-century S. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch of two orders, the inner modern and the outer chamfered.
The West Tower (12 ft. by 14 ft.) rises as high as the nave and is surmounted by a timber bellturret and spire. Between the two modern W. buttresses is sprung a segmental-pointed arch of which the chamfered outer order appears to be of the 13th century. The 13th-century tower-arch is two-centred and of one chamfered order. In both the N. and S. walls is a 13th-century lancet window. The W. window is modern.
The South Porch has a 15th-century outer archway, two-centred and of two moulded orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the label is moulded. The side walls have each a 15th-century window of two cinquefoiled lights in a square head with a chamfered label.
The Roof of the chancel is probably of the 17th century towards the E. and of the 15th century towards the W.; both parts are of the trussed collar-beam type and ceiled; the W. part has moulded wall-plates. The late 15th or early 16th-century roof of the nave is much restored and has three king-post trusses with moulded and embattled tie-beams with curved braces, traceried spandrels and half-angels at the point of junction; the curved principals and the central purlin are moulded. The 15th-century roof of the S. porch has moulded and embattled tie-beams with curved braces forming four-centred arches, king-posts, wall-posts, moulded brackets and carved stone corbels, two with angels and two with faces; the wall-plates are moulded and embattled.
Fittings — Monument and Floor-slabs. Monument: In tower — to Robert Aylett, LL.D., 1654, tablet with emblems of mortality and two shields of arms. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to Richard Milward, D.D., 1680, canon of Windsor and rector of the parish, with shield of arms; (2) to Anthony Carew, 1705, now covered by pulpit. Locker: In chancel—in N. wall, large with rebated jambs and two-centred head, slots for wooden shelf, 13th-century. Panelling: In chancel—dado of moulded panelling, with fluted frieze, early 17th-century, brought from elsewhere. Piscina: In chancel—with corbelled head and shelf in E. jamb, round drain, 13th-century, enlarged in the 16th century. Plate: includes a cup of 1562, an Elizabethan cover-paten, cover-paten of 1711, a flagon of 1660 and an alms-dish of 1646. Sedile: In chancel—plain recess with two-centred arch, possibly 13th-century. Sundial: On jamb of S.W. window of chancel, incised and much worn. Miscellanea: Incorporated in modern chancel furniture, part of 17th-century table with moulded top.
c(2). Tiptree Priory (Plate, p. 234), house, about 1½ m. E.S.E. of the church, is of three storeys; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It stands on the site of a small priory of Austin Canons, founded in the 12th century, and dedicated to St. Mary and St. Nicholas. The only remaining portion of this structure is a rubble wall extending to the E. of the existing house, but the lay-out of the house may have followed the lines of the N., E. and W. sides of the canons' cloister. The house was built c. 1570 and then consisted of a main block, lying E. and W., and of which the western half is still standing, and probably two wings projecting towards the S. from either end of the main building; these wings have both been destroyed. At the N.W. angle is a projecting turret added c. 1600, and there are later and modern additions at the back.
The S. Front has two ranges of four-light transomed windows with moulded labels and dressings of plaster, five windows in each range; of these the four easternmost of each range are original and the other two are old windows reset, as this end of the wall was covered by the former W. wing. The fourth window from the E. on the ground floor has been partly blocked and a doorway with chamfered jambs and three-centred head inserted in the opening. Below the westernmost window are traces of a former doorway and the lines of the former gabled roof of the W. wing remain on the wall at the first floor level. Adjoining the S.E. angle of the house and in continuation of the front is a doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch, surmounted by a moulded pediment springing from small brackets; this feature was no doubt the main entrance to the house before the destruction of the E. part of the main block and seems to indicate that the Great Hall occupied the portion now destroyed.
The W. End is of three storeys and there are lines indicating the original gable which has been heightened. The main block has three windows of similar character to those on the S. front but of varying sizes. A joint indicates the addition of the later turret on the N. side; this turret is semi-octagonal on plan and has three two-light windows on the W. side, the two lower being each surmounted by a cornice.
The E. end was formerly an internal wall and has reset in it three windows of similar character to those on the S. front. The space to the E. of the existing house was probably occupied by the Great Hall and is bounded on the N. by a rubble wall probably of mediaeval date; in it is a large 16th-century fireplace, with moulded jambs and four-centred arch.
Inside the building the existing divisions are probably mostly modern but the middle room on the ground floor has a wide fireplace, partly filled in, and to the E. of it is a long closet. The upper windows have each an iron casement with an ornamental latch.
The garden S. of the house is enclosed on the E. and W. sides by brick walls, that on the W. is bonded into the house and adjoining it a length of 40 ft. of rebuilt wall may indicate the dimensions of the destroyed W. wing.
b(3). Cottage, two tenements, on the N. side of the village, and 1 m. S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century, and has an original central chimney-stack with grouped diagonal shafts. Inside the building the ceiling-beams are exposed.
b(4). Cottage, about 1½ m. S.S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century and has exposed ceiling-beams.
b(5). Noaks Cross Farm, house, 1,050 yards S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, partly timberframed and plastered and partly of brick; the roofs are tiled. It was built late in the 16th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and W. In the N. wall is an original window of brick with moulded jambs and mullions and now blocked. A window on the first floor has part of the corbels of a former bay-window, carved with foliage. Inside the building is a late 17th-century panelled door and some exposed ceiling-beams.
a(6). Greenleaf Cottage, three tenements, about 1¼ m. N.N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably early in the 17th century and has exposed ceiling-beams of that date.