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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63. LITTLE OAKLEY. (F.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. xxx. N.W.)
Little Oakley is a small parish 3½ m. S.W. of Harwich.
(1). Parish Church of St. Mary stands on the W. side of the parish. The walls are of septaria and flint-rubble, with dressings of limestone; the roofs are tiled. The Nave was built early in the 12th century. About the middle of the 14th century the Chancel was rebuilt and a N. vestry added but subsequently destroyed. The West Tower was added c. 1490–1500. The church has been restored in modern times, when the tower was partly rebuilt and the South Porch added.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (26½ ft. by 15¾ ft.) has a mid 14th-century E. window (Plate, p. 143) of three trefoiled ogee lights with net tracery in a two-centred head with moulded labels; the external work is much restored; above this window is a small square-headed opening, now blocked. On the apex of the gable is an enriched 14th-century cross, partly broken. In the N. wall are three windows; the easternmost is of the 14th century and of one cinquefoiled light; the middle window, now blocked, is of doubtful date and of two square-headed lights with the splays outwards; it communicated with the former vestry; the westernmost window is of mid 14th century date and of two cinquefoiled ogee lights with flowing tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; E. of the blocked window is a blocked doorway, probably of the 14th century, with a segmental-pointed head. In the S. wall are two mid 14th-century windows, partly restored and each of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; between them is a doorway, all modern except the 14th-century splays and rear-arch; covering this door and under a buttress is a small porch (Plate, p. xxix) having an outer archway of the 14th century with moulded jambs and two-centred head. The mid 14th-century chancel-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the responds have each an attached octagonal shaft with moulded capital and base.
The Nave (37½ ft. by 19½ ft.) has in the N. wall a mid 14th-century window of two cinquefoiled lights in a two-centred head with a moulded label; further E. is the 15th-century rood-loft staircase; the lower doorway has hollow-chamfered jambs and two-centred heads; the upper doorway, in the E. wall, has a roughly rounded head; near the W. end of the N. wall is the 14th-century N. doorway with double hollow-chamfered jambs, two-centred arch and label; it is now blocked. In the S. wall are two windows; the eastern is of the 14th century and of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the western window is modern, between them is an early 12th-century window of one round-headed light, now blocked; W. of the windows is the mid 14th-century S. doorway, with moulded jambs, two-centred arch and label with defaced head-stops.
The West Tower (9¾ ft. square) is of one stage, partly of late 15th-century date and partly modern; it has a moulded plinth with cusped panels formerly of flint-inlay work, but now filled with cement. The tower-arch has been rebuilt, but incorporates material of c. 1500. The W. window is of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a segmental-pointed head with a moulded label; below it is a doorway (Plate, p. 143) with moulded jambs and two-centred arch in a square head with a moulded label and stops carved with crowned lions; the jambs and arch-mould are carved with square flowers and the spandrels have shields of the arms of Vere and Howard; above the label is a range of trefoiled panels with blank shields in alternate panels.
The South Porch is modern but reset in the E. and W. walls are 14th-century cinquefoiled window-heads.
The Roof of the chancel is of the 14th century and of trussed-rafter type with moulded wallplates. The roof of the nave is of similar form but the wall-plates are partly and the tie-beams entirely modern.
Fittings—Bells: four, all by Miles Graye and dated respectively 1612, 1615, 1633 and 1652. Doors: In nave—in S. doorway, battened with strap-hinges, late 15th-century, restored. In tower —in doorway to staircase, of ridged panels with moulded fillets and frame, late 15th-century; in W. doorway, of two folds with moulded battens, late 15th-century. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to ............, 1699; (2) to John .........., late 17th-century; (3) to Robert Blacksell, 1680; (4) to Robert Blacksell, 1674, and Rachel, wife of John Scarpe, 1693; (5) to ............, 1672. Glass: In chancel—in N.E. and two S. windows, fragments of borders, tabernacle work, etc., 14th-century. Indents: In chancel—two, of inscription-plates. Niches: In chancel—flanking E. window, two with shafted and buttressed jambs, canopy with ribbed soffit, cinquefoiled, gabled and crocketed heads and crocketed and finialed spire, 14th-century, partly restored. Painting: remains of blue and gold, now restored, on vaults of niches and of red colour on backs of niches. Piscina: In chancel—with shafted and buttressed jambs, cinquefoiled head, with tall crocketed gabled enclosing blind tracery, flanking pinnacles, sexfoiled drain, 14th-century. Scratching: In chancel— on E. jamb of S. doorway, circular design. Sedile: Sill of S.E. window of chancel, carried down to form seat. Tiles: In nave—incised tiles with geometrical or rose designs, late 13th-century. Miscellanea: Built into S.E. buttress of tower, six trefoiled heads of panels, from plinth.
(2). Whitehouse Farm, house, 750 yards N. of the church, is of two storeys with attics, timberframed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably in the 16th century and has a later addition at the back. The upper storey projects at the W. end of the N. front. Inside the building are exposed ceiling-beams.
(3). Cottage, three tenements, 500 yards E. of (2), is of two storeys, timber-framed and weather-boarded; the roofs are tiled. It was built late in the 17th century.
(4). Cottage, 100 yards S.E. of (3), is of two storeys, timber-framed and weather-boarded; the roofs are thatched. Inside the building are exposed ceiling-beams.