An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 3, North East. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1922.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
79. ST. OSYTH. (E.d.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxxviii. S.W. (b)xlviii. N.W.)
St. Osyth is a parish and village 3½ m. E. of Clacton-on-Sea. The church, abbey and St. Clairs Hall are the principal monuments.
a(1). In 1906 a pavement of red and buff tile tesserae was found about 50 ft. above sea-level in Priory Park, near an old gravel-pit, about ¾ m. N.W. of the Priory and 100 yards N.W. of the pond in Nun's Wood. Nothing else was found, and no details are recorded. A portion of the same pavement was again uncovered in 1921. (Essex Arch. Soc. Trans. (N.S.), X, 88.) (See also Sectional Preface, p. xxvii.)
b(2). Parish Church of SS. Peter and Paul (Plate, p. 196) stands in the village. The walls are generally of septaria and flint-rubble, with limestone dressings; the nave, S. aisle and S. porch are of red brick; the roofs are tiled. The W. wall of the Nave, and perhaps part of the W. wall of the N. aisle, are of early 12th-century date, when the nave was aisled. The E. arcades of the North and South Transepts are of c. 1250–70, the N. transept being probably the earlier. The date of the Chancel is uncertain, but it is perhaps late 13th-century work. The West Tower was added c. 1340. In the 15th century the chancel-arch was rebuilt. Earlier in the 16th century a general reconstruction was begun, the nave was rebuilt and widened towards the S., the North and South Aisles rebuilt, and the South Porch added; the N. transept was shortened at the same time. The tower was much repaired in the 18th century and the whole church was restored in the 19th century.
The church is of considerable architectural interest, the brick arcades of the nave being a remarkable feature; among the fittings the 16th-century monuments of the Darcy family are note worthy. The roofs of the nave and N. aisle are also noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (39½ ft. by 17¾ ft.) has a late 14th-century E. window, partly restored, and of three cinquefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label. In the N. wall is a late 13th-century two-centred arch of one chamfered order; further E. is a 14th-century window, much altered, with a two-centred head and a moulded label; below it is a doorway with a two-centred head, probably of the 14th century but much altered and restored; it probably opened into a former vestry. In the S. wall is an arch similar to that in the N. wall; further E. is a window similar to that in the N. wall; and beyond it is a blocked window with a shouldered head, probably of the 13th century. The chancel-arch is two-centred and of three chamfered orders; it is probably of the 13th century, but has 15th-century splayed responds, each with three moulded and attached capitals at the top.
The North Transept (14½ ft. by 10 ft.) was reduced to the width of an aisle and also shortened in the early 16th-century alterations. The mid 13th-century E. arcade is now of one and a quarter bays with two-centred arches of three chamfered orders; the round pier has four attached shafts with continuously moulded capitals and bases; the S. arch springs from a moulded corbel, the stem of which is carved with stiff flowers; below it is a round shaft, apparently of earlier work, as it is not central with the arch above; between the arches on the E. face is a moulded corbel. In the N. wall is an early 16th-century window of three trefoiled lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label and partly restored; further W. are three early 16th-century doorways to the rood-loft staircase, at different levels but all with four-centred heads and now blocked; the two upper are of brick. In the W. wall is a brick four-centred arch of three moulded orders; the responds are also of three orders and have moulded bases and continuous moulded capitals.
The North Chapel (12 ft. by 14¾ ft.) has a blank E. wall, probably owing to the former existence of a vestry E. of it. In the N. wall is a window uniform with that in the N. transept.
The South Transept (19 ft. by 10 ft.) has been reduced in depth like the N. transept, but retains its original S. wall. In the E. wall is an arcade of c. 1270 and of two bays of which the northern is partly blocked by an early 16th-century brick pier; the two-centred arches are of three chamfered orders and the pier has eight attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the S. respond has three similar attached shafts. In the S. wall is a window all modern except the splays, jambs, two-centred arch and label, which are probably of late 14th-century date. In the W. wall is an arch uniform with the corresponding arch in the N. transept.
The South Chapel (12 ft. by 27¾ ft.) has in the E. wall two windows, the northern is all modern except the 14th-century splays and rear-arch; the southern is of early 14th-century date, much restored externally, and of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head. In the S. wall is an early 16th-century window, partly restored and of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head; below it is a modern doorway.
The Nave (80 ft. by 26½ ft.) is entirely of early 16th-century date and of brick except the W. wall. The E. bay is separated from the rest by the responds of a chancel-arch which was never completed; they are each of three orders and behind each is a squint with a four-centred head. The E. bay has on the N. and S. an arch opening into the transepts; they are similar but lower and narrower than the arches in the W. walls of the transepts. The nave proper has N. and S. arcades of five bays with arches, etc., all similar to those in the W. walls of the transepts. On the W. wall, S. of the tower-arch, is an early 12th-century respond to the former S. arcade; it is plain with a chamfered impost.
The North Aisle (16 ft. wide) is of septaria and flint-rubble, with a moulded plinth and is entirely of early 16th-century date, except part of the W. wall. In the N. wall are four windows each of four trefoiled four-centred lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label and partly restored; between the two western windows is the N. doorway with moulded and shafted jambs and two-centred arch in a square head with a moulded label and spandrels carved with the crowned monogram of the Virgin and the arm of an angel with a sword breaking the wheel of St. Katherine. In the W. wall is a window of three cinquefoiled lights in a segmental-pointed head; further S. is a small circular window, now blocked, and of 12th or 13th century date.
The South Aisle (19 ft. wide) is of red brick with black brick diapering and stone dressings and a moulded plinth; it is entirely of early 16th-century date. In the S. wall are three windows uniform with those in the N. aisle; between the two western is the S. doorway with moulded and shafted jambs, four-centred arch and label. In the W. wall is a window uniform with those in the S. wall.
The West Tower (12 ft. square) is of c. 1340, much altered and repaired in the 18th century. It is of three stages with an 18th-century parapet and an early 16th-century stair-turret. The 14th-century tower-arch is two-centred and of two wave-moulded orders; the chamfered responds have each an attached semi-octagonal shaft with moulded capital and base of unusually wide projection. The mid 14th-century W. window is of two pointed lights in a two-centred head. The second stage has a window in the W. wall, completely altered in the 18th century. The bell-chamber has a similar window in each wall.
The South Porch is of early 16th-century date and of red brick and stone. The outer archway has splayed brick and stone jambs and a four-centred arch of three chamfered orders with a moulded label, all of brick. The side walls have each a stone window of two four-centred lights in a square head with a moulded label.
The Roof of the chancel is of four bays with curved principals or braces springing from moulded brackets above the plates; the spandrels are carved with a cinquefoil, for Darcy, in each; the roof is perhaps of c. 1560, with modern gilding, etc. The early 16th-century flat roof of the N. transept has moulded main timbers and joists. The S. transept has a similar roof. The S. chapel has one early 16th-century tie-beam with twisted foliage ornament. The early 16th-century roof of the nave is of nine bays with hammer-beam trusses and moulded plates, principals, purlins, collars, hammerbeams and wall-posts; there are curved braces to the collars and hammer-beams. The early 16th-century flat roof of the N. aisle is of five bays with moulded and elaborately carved tie-beams, intermediates, purlins and wall-plates; each beam has a different type of running foliage and under the centres of the main tie-beams are richly carved pendants; the main ties have also curved braces one of which (between the first and second bays) springs from a shaped wall-post or large bracket, carved on the E. face with vine ornament and on the W. face with conventional foliage; the intermediate in the first bay is a 17th-century insertion with a series of cinquefoils and the initials S.L.; the intermediate in the fifth bay is similar, but without initials, and other timbers were renewed at the same time. The early 16th-century flat roof of the S. aisle is of five bays with moulded main timbers, except two tie-beams, curved braces under the tie-beams, some of which were renewed in the 18th century, hollow-chamfered joists and moulded brackets under the wall-posts.
Fittings—Altar: In chancel—part of slab with chamfered under-edge and two consecrationcrosses. Bells: six; 3rd, 4th and 6th by Miles Graye, 1663. Brackets: In S. chapel—at N. end of E. wall, a corbel capital, 14th-century, and at S. end a plain corbel, date uncertain. Brass: see Monument (3). Door: In S. doorway—of nail-studded oak battens with strap-hinge, early 16th-century. Font: octagonal bowl with cusped panels enclosing two shields with crossed keys and sword and three crowns; head of the Baptist; half-angel with shield; knot and heart; on under-edge carved flowers, knot and shield with plain cross; panelled and traceried stem and moulded base; late 15th-century. Monuments and Floorslabs. Monuments: In chancel—against N. wall (1) of John, 2nd Lord Darcy, 1580–1, and Frances (Rich), his wife, altar-tomb and monument (Plate, p. 197) of alabaster and marble with recumbent effigies of man in plate armour, ruff and long mantle (effigy broken below knees), and wife with ruff, fur-lined cloak, etc.; canopy resting on carved and panelled pilasters supporting a cornice, which carries two cartouches with shields and in the middle an achievement of arms; against S. wall (2) of Thomas, 1st Lord Darcy, K.G. [15—] and Elizabeth (Vere), his wife; alabaster and marble monument (erected c. 1580), similar in general design to (1), but with panelled centre-piece above the cornice; effigies similar to those in monument (1) but the knight wears the garter (his left leg broken below the knee); two cartouches with shields, and an achievement of arms. In S. chapel —against E. wall (3) of John Darcy, 1638, sergeantat-law, altar-tomb and recess with alabaster effigy in robes with cloak and cap; on wall at back, brass inscription-plate with name of artist, Fr. Grigs, 1640; on S. wall (4) to Briant Darcie, 1587, Bridget (Corbet), his wife, and a number of their children and grandchildren, marble tablet with Corinthian side-columns and achievement of arms. Floorslabs: In nave—(1) to Marget, wife of James Kenarley, 1690, and Isaac, their son, 1705. In S. aisle—(2) to Richard Tnbman, 1620, cook to Thomas, Lord Darcy, a prayer for his soul, and a small incised stepped cross have been partly obliterated. Piscina: In chancel—in E. wall, with moulded jambs and three-centred head, round drain, 13th-century, possibly reset. Plate: includes a large cup of 1574, and cover-paten of same date, inscribed Anno Dom 1575; inside of bowl gilded. Miscellanea: On S. bracket in S. chapel, a man's head label-stop, 14th-century. In churchyard—many worked stones, shafting, window-tracery, etc., 12th-century and later, probably partly from abbey.
a(3). Homestead Moat, in Nun's Wood, 1,100 yards N.N.W. of (4).
b(4). St. Osyth's Priory, or Abbey, house (Plate, p. 198), outbuildings, gatehouse, precinct wall, etc., 200 yards N.W. of the church. The walls are of flint and septaria-rubble or of red brick with limestone dressings; the roofs are covered with tiles and lead. The Priory (later Abbey) was founded before 1127, for Austin Canons, by Richard de Belmeis, Bishop of London. The earliest remaining work is the sub-vault of the Dorter range which is of the period of the foundation; the still existing portions of the walls bounding the Cloister on the N. and W. are possibly also of this date. The remains of what was probably the Kitchen are of early 13th-century date; to the same period belong the remains of the early gatehouse; c. 1230–40 the Frater was rebuilt with the vaulted Passage to the E. of it; about the end of the 13th century the vaults in the W. Range were built. Late in the 15th century the Great Gatehouse was built and the ranges flanking it and projecting S. from it are of about the same date; the eastern of these ranges incorporates an earlier gatehouse. About 1527 extensive additions were made by Abbot Vintoner who built the range running N. from the W. range and the Bishop's Lodging, a wing projecting towards the W. The Abbey was suppressed in 1539 and in 1553 came into the possession of Lord Darcy who transformed the buildings into a house, destroying some parts and making additions in others. At this time the conventual church, which flanked the cloister on the S., was destroyed together with the major portion of the E. and W. ranges of the cloister quadrangle; the ends of the remaining portions of these ranges were faced with chequer-work, the Abbot's and Clock Towers built and the upper part of the dorter range rebuilt. The added buildings must have been extensive, but the precise form of the house as reconstructed, is uncertain; remains of these additions are standing, N. of the Dorter range, N. of the modern house, and a patch of tilepaving has recently been uncovered about 100 ft. W. of the modern house. The monastic Frater appears to have done duty as the Great Hall. To this period must also be assigned the great barn, the outbuilding on the W. of the gardens, and many of the boundary-walls of the stableyards and gardens. The Frater as a Hall seems to have been abandoned and a large red-brick building was erected, c. 1600, on the area of the N. part of the cloister. In the 17th or 18th century the whole of the eastern part of the house fell into ruin and about the middle of the 18th century the wing extending W. from the Bishop's Lodging was built. In 1866 almost the whole of the Bishop's Lodging except the S. wall was rebuilt and about the same time the modern wing was built, extending E. from it and covering part of the site of the monastic kitchen.
The house is of great interest both for the remains of monastic work and for the work of Lord Darcy. The gatehouse is amongst the finest examples of this class of structure in the country.
The Cloister (106 ft. E. to W.) lay on the N. side of the conventual church and was mostly destroyed by Lord Darcy. Portions of the outer walls remain on the E., N. and W., and there are indications of the former level of the pent roof preserved in offsets on the S. side of the Clock tower and on the E. face of the S.E. buttress of the W. range. There are no remains of the conventual church, but the foundations of the nave were encountered in making the sunk lawn S. of the house.
The Dorter Range (Plate, p. 202), now mostly ruined, is substantially of early 12th-century work with a mid 16th-century upper storey. The S. end is faced with the chequer-work (ashlar and septaria) of Lord Darcy. In this wall are several mid 16th-century windows with four-centred lights and square heads with moulded labels, all now blocked; opening into a modern shed on the ground floor is a much damaged doorway of the same date, with remains of a four-centred arch. The sub-vault generally has early 12th-century piers of Roman brick with moulded stone imposts and rough rubble vaults groined in the two southern bays where they remain intact and of barrel form in the fifth bay where the springing only remains and probably groined in the third and fourth bays; the southernmost bay has a 16th-century doorway in the W. wall, modern externally, and in the E. wall a semi-circular 14th-century arch and a 16th-century filling with moulded jambs and segmental-pointed head. The wall between this bay and the next is an insertion and in the western part has an early 16th-century brick recess with moulded jambs and a four-centred arch. The N. wall of the second bay is an original cross-wall and in the E. wall are the splays of an old doorway with a mid 16th-century filling and window in it. In the N. wall is a mid 16th-century doorway with a four-centred head of brick and W. of it is part of a round 12th-century arch, possibly of a former recess. The third and fourth bays had in the E. wall two open 12th-century arches of Roman brick; both are now blocked and fitted with mid 16th-century windows. The western parts of these two bays form annexes of the building now used as a chapel and have with the second bay 16th-century arches pierced in the W. wall. The fourth bay has a paving of mediaeval tiles, some with patterns. The N. wall of the fourth bay was an original cross-wall and the fifth bay formed a passage open at the E. end but now filled in and fitted with a mid 16th-century window. The sixth bay is very narrow and has the appearance of being the channel for a drain; it has an original round arch in the W. wall resting on the W. on a square 12th-century pier; E. of this is the moulded head of a blocked 14th-century doorway, now much buried. Of the seventh bay only the E. wall remains with traces of a wide archway, blocked and fitted with a mid 16th-century three-light window; this bay has traces of the former vault. The rest of the range has been destroyed and there is no evidence of its original length. The upper storey is entirely of mid 16th-century date and has been destroyed except for the E. wall which has the whole of one chequer-work gable and part of another; the windows are all of the same type with four-centred lights and square heads with moulded labels; they are all more or less damaged. This wall has a series of mid 16th-century buttresses and a chimney stack with an embattled offset and two diapered brick shafts with concave octagonal caps and moulded stone bases. Below this stack, inside the building, are three mid 16th-century fireplaces, two with moulded jambs, all with depressed heads.
The "Abbot's Tower" (Plate, p. 202) is entirely of mid 16th-century date and adjoins the Dorter range on the S.E. It is of three stages with turrets at three angles, square at the base and octagonal above and carried up above the parapet; the parapets have a low gable on each face of the tower. The walls are of ashlar and septaria chequer-work and have a moulded plinth. The windows are all of the same type as those in the Dorter range and the doorway in the E. wall has a segmental-pointed arch and a square-moulded label. The great staircase in the tower has a solid pier in the middle and rises only to the first floor; from this point a circular staircase in the S.W. turret gives access to the second floor and roof. At the N.W. angle are two stone chimney-shafts, with moulded caps and bases and diapered shafts.
The Frater Range flanked the cloister on the N. and overlapped the W. range. The Frater itself (97½ ft. by 28½ ft.) has been destroyed except for the E. and W. ends and a fragment of the N. wall. The E. end has a wall-arcade (Plate, p. 202) of which the three middle bays remain; they are of c. 1230–40 and have moulded two-centred arches with a moulded trefoiled inner order; the points of the trefoil of the middle bay have defaced carving; the arches rest on restored free shafts with old Purbeck marble capitals and bases. The W. end of the Frater is partly occupied by the Clock tower; in the W. wall is a blocked mid 16th-century doorway with a four-centred head. In the adjoining fragment of the N. wall are remains of two doorways formerly opening into the kitchen-wing; one of these has been partly destroyed by an inserted mid 16th-century doorway, now itself ruined.
The Passage (26½ ft. by 14½ ft.), now a chapel (Plate, p. 203), at the E. end of the Frater is roofed in six bays with a ribbed quadripartite vault of c. 1230–40; the web is of chalk, but the moulded ribs are of Reigate stone springing from round Purbeck marble columns with moulded capitals and bases; the corbels against the W. wall have Purbeck marble abaci and carved crowned heads but those in the angles and on the E. wall are simply moulded; the corbels on the E. wall appear to be of 14th-century date. The passage is lit by modern windows, that on the S. being inserted in the blocking of a former doorway; the northern window on the W. is set in a mid 16th-century doorway with a four-centred head and now blocked. In the N. wall is a doorway of c. 1500 with moulded jambs and four-centred arch; further W. is the E. jamb of another opening, now blocked; in the blocking is a mid 16th-century window and below it a reset square drain in a recess with a four-centred head.
The Clock Tower is entirely of mid 16th-century date, except the lower part of the S. wall; it is faced with chequer-work and is square below and octagonal above; the windows are of two four-centred lights in square heads.
N. of the Frater is a double respond of early 13th-century date, with half-round attached piers with moulded capitals and bases and the springers of arches N. and E. There is little doubt that this formed part of the Kitchen-wing but its precise significance is uncertain.
The Western Range has a mid 16th-century chequer-work gable to the S. wall with the stumps of the two side walls transformed into buttresses; in the middle is a projection with an embattled top and above and to the W. of it is a chimney-stack with two restored shafts with reeded ornament. The E. wall has been much patched and altered; it has a mid 16th-century doorway with double hollow-chamfered jambs and a four-centred arch with a square head and a label. The range has a narrow mid 16th-century addition on the W. side (Plate, p. 199), of red brick, with octagonal projections at the angles; it is of two storeys with two gables to the attics on the W. side and has windows of the usual form and a doorway with moulded jambs and rounded head with a moulded cornice; the spandrels have a cinquefoil (for Darcy) and a molet (for Vere) with inlaid work of composition. The western range contains two late 13th-century cellars on the ground floor, roofed with barrel-vaults divided into five bays by chamfered ribs; the wall between the cellars has an archway with jambs and segmental-pointed head of two chamfered orders. A similar archway in the S. wall has been blocked on the outside. At the N. end of the range is a narrow added bay probably of mid 16th-century date and with doorways of that period. The upper floor of the range has a mid 16th-century doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch of oak.
Between the E. and W. ranges and cutting across the site of the cloister is a lofty red brick wall of c. 1600; it formed the S. wall of a range of buildings of two storeys. Between the storeys is a moulded brick cornice and above it is a moulded parapet-string. The wall contains a modern archway and nine windows of c. 1600 all of brick with square heads and moulded labels; they are now blocked.
N. of the W. range is a red brick Wing (Plate, p. 199) of c. 1527. The W. wall is original and has a moulded stone parapet-coping and two low gables; the original window openings have four-centred heads on the ground floor and square heads on the upper floor; all these windows have been partly blocked and fitted with smaller square-headed stone windows of mid 16th-century date with moulded labels. The southern doorway is of c. 1527 and has a four-centred head. The wall has black brick diapering. The E. side and the interior has been almost entirely altered.
The "Bishop's Lodging" (Plate, p. 199) extends W. at right angles to the range last described. It was almost entirely rebuilt in 1866 except the S. front. This front is of c. 1527 and of red brick with black brick diapering; the dressings are partly of stone and partly of brick. The moulded parapet has a band of cusped brick panelling below it. In the middle of the ground floor is a wide stone archway with stop-moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with moulded labels; the traceried spandrels have each a shield with defaced carving, that on the W. apparently a beast with a scroll. The main archway is flanked by doorways, that on the W. modern but that on the E. generally similar to the large arch and with a tun and crown carved in the spandrels. Above the main archway is a large oriel window, modern externally, except for the moulded and carved head and the panelled and carved base and corbelling. The head has a band of early Renaissance ornament with foliage and small nude figures. The base has two bands of panelling the upper consisting of cusped squares enclosing shields and trefoil-headed panels with Tudor roses; the shields have (a) crossed keys and sword of SS. Peter and Paul, with a papal tiara in chief; (b) three crowns and a sword palewise, for St. Osyth; (c) a crowned heart pierced by three swords and encircled by a crown of thorns; (d) crowned monogram of the Virgin; (e) dimidiated rose and pomegranate, crowned; (f) a stag supporting a scutcheon charged with three crowns; (g) rebus of Abbot John Vintoner; (h) Bouchier. Below this the lower band has lozengy, cusped panelling with a carved flower in the middle of each main panel. The moulded corbelling has two bands of carved foliage each with shields; the upper band contains six shields all defaced except a crowned M and a dolphin with a mitre in chief. The lower band has running vine ornament with remains of lettering intertwined, apparently the name Johannes Vintoner, but much broken, and five shields—(a) SS. Peter and Paul; (b) three crowns; (c) chalice and host; (d) vine and tun, for Vintoner; (e) three combs, for Tunstall, bishop of London. The reveals and rear-arch of the oriel window have rich cusped panelling in stone with 88 small shields. These shields bear the various devices of Abbot Vintoner, St. Osyth, Tunstall bishop of London, Henry VIII, the later arms of the Abbey—parted cheveronwise, in chief a ring between a mitre and a crozier and the arms of Bourchier, Tunstall, Henry VIII, France, etc. There are also monograms of the Virgin, Vintoner, the five wounds and two small standing figures, probably of canons. A series of four shields on each side give the date 1527, one in Roman and one in Arabic numerals. Flanking the oriel window on each side are windows with four-centred heads and moulded labels of red brick; they are partly blocked and fitted with modern windows. Inside the building are many carved oak panels (Plate, p. 180) of c. 1527 all reset; some have vine ornament and double ogee enrichment and a large number have shields with the initials N, I, H, V, O, A, S and T, Bourchier knot, water-bouget, dolphin, stag, mitre, molets, three curry-combs, crossed swords and keys, mitre, tun, crown, portcullis, etc.
N. of the Dorter range is an isolated ruin of part of the mid 16th-century house; it has an octagonal turret of chequer-work at the S.E. angle with two-light square-headed windows. The main wall running N. is faced with brick and has two squareheaded windows on the first floor. A window on the ground floor has been turned into an archway; further N. is a stone doorway with a four-centred head.
N. of the modern house is an isolated buttress or gate-pier of mid 16th-century date.
In the garden N.E. of the house is part of a 13th-century coffin-lid.
The Gatehouse (Plate, p. 198) S. of the house is of late 15th-century date and of two storeys with a double moulded plinth and an embattled parapet of chequer-work, mostly set diagonally. The S. front (Plate, p. 204) has elaborate knapped flint-inlay in cusped and crocketed panels; between the storeys is a moulded string-course and the entrances are flanked by two semi-octagonal projections; the windows are all of two cinquefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label, except a small single light spy-window in the plinth of the porters' room. The main outer archway has stop-moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with a double label and carved stops; the spandrels have figures carved in high relief of St. Michael and the dragon. The two small foot-way arches are of similar character to the main arch with head-stops to the labels and carved foliage and a rose in the spandrels. Flanking the main arch are a pair of niches with ogee cusped and crocketed canopies with flint-inlay and ribbed vaults; the moulded brackets have angels holding scrolls; above the arch is a similar but taller niche, with traceried instead of inlaid panels and an angel on the bracket holding a shield. The N. front has a parapet and windows similar to those on the S. front; the two semi-octagonal stair-turrets have external doorways with four-centred heads, quatrefoiled lights, and rise above the parapet. The great inner archway (Plate, p. 205) has stop-moulded jambs and two-centred arch in a square head with moulded labels and traceried spandrels, enclosing blank shields; above the head is a band of flint chequer-work. The Gate-hall has, a ribbed lierne vault (Plate, p. 205) of two bays springing from grouped triple shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the intersections of the ribs have richly carved bosses the three central ones being (a) the Annunciation; (b) crowned and veiled head of St. Osyth; and (c) a couched hart in a park paling and with a napkin round its neck, powdered with crowns; the smaller bosses include foliage, flowers, various grotesque heads and faces, lions' faces, bishop's head, kings' heads, a double face, pelican, half-angel with scroll, shields with the later arms of the Abbey and three crowns and a head of St. John on a charger. The Porter's room on the W. of the Gate-hall has a doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred arch; in the E. wall is a recess with a large square basin and drain and a niche for a lantern at the back; in the W. wall is a fireplace with moulded jambs and four-centred arch; above it is a triangular-headed niche; further S. is a blocked doorway. In the room over it is a similar fireplace in the E. wall. In the main N.W. buttress of the gatehouse is a garderobe or cupboard. The rooms E. of the Gate-hall have no features of interest, but there is a garderobe or cupboard in the main N.E. buttress.
The Range E. of the gatehouse is possibly of rather earlier date; it is of three bays with an embattled parapet and windows similar to those of the gatehouse. The easternmost bay is an early 13th-century gatehouse, refronted in the 15th century to match the rest of the range. Incorporated in the S. wall and only visible internally is a wide early 13th-century archway, two-centred and of two moulded orders. In the N. wall is a wide blocked archway with a segmental-pointed head; the difference in walling between this and the other bays of the range is visible on the N. face. Between the two pairs of windows on the S. face are rectangular cusped panels enclosing shields with (a) the later arms of the Abbey, and (b) three birds (? popinjays or pheasants). At the E. end of the range is a heavy brick chimney-stack of the 17th century with grouped diagonal shafts.
The Range W. of the gatehouse is of late 15th-century date and of two storeys with an embattled parapet of knapped flint on the S. side; the windows on this side have been much altered. The projecting stone chimney-stack has two mid 16th-century brick octagonal shafts with spurred caps and moulded bases. The N. side has one original and one mid 16th-century doorway both with four-centred heads. The windows on this side are mostly original but some of them are blocked.
The Barn adjoins the range last described on the W.; it is of mid 16th-century date and timberframed, except for the N. wall, which is of rubble with three doorways, each with a four-centred head and a square-moulded label. There are three porches on the S. side. The roof has plain tiebeams with curved braces and plain collar-beams. The W. wall is of rubble.
Extending S. from the W. side of the gatehouse is a wall with an embattled parapet, which once formed the E. side of a building and is mainly of late 15th-century date. It has four windows, in pairs, similar to those in the gatehouse; between them is a doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred arch; it is now blocked. Further S. is a large archway (Plate, p. 205) of mid 14th-century work reset; it is semi-circular and of three moulded orders with a moulded label and headstops; the jambs have each three attached shafts with moulded capitals.
The Outbuilding S. W. of the house is of two storeys with rubble walls and a brick coping and pinnacle to the S. gable. It is probably of mid 16th-century date, but has been much patched and altered.
The Precinct Wall is of various dates; the part at the S.E. angle is perhaps of late 14th-century date and has a moulded string-course and an embattled parapet with the crenels subsequently filled in and finished with a continuous stone coping. The wall between this and the gatehouse wing is of mid 16th-century date with small buttresses and a large round-headed archway with a square-moulded label, now blocked; further E. is a smaller doorway with a three-centred head and a square label. The cross-walls of the garden are of the same date and have similar doorways. The walls of the kitchen garden and yards are partly of brick and probably all of mid 16th-century date.
Condition—Good, ruins well preserved.
a(5). Nun's Hall, ruin in Nun's Wood 100 yards N.W. of (3), is of flint and septaria rubble with dressings of limestone. The remaining fragment is the S. gabled end of a building probably of the 14th century. There are remains of an internal moulded string-course. The ruin has been much patched and has an inserted doorway and above it are various reset details including a 14th-century niche with cusped and sub-cusped head.
b(6). Fragment of Walling on S. side of stream, ¼ m. S.E. of the church. The fragment is of rubble and about 10 ft. in length and may have formed part of the revetment of a former dam.
b(7). St. Clair's Hall, house (Plate, p. xxxi) and moat, ½ m. S.S.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 14th century with an aisled central hall and cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. Early in the 16th century the cross-wings were largely altered or rebuilt and later in the same century the E. cross-wing was extended towards the S.
The house is an important example of an aisled Hall retaining its aisles.
The upper storey of both cross-wings projected on the N. front, but that of the W. wing has been under-built; the gable of this wing also projects and all have early 16th-century moulded bressumers. The 16th-century extension of the E. wing is mainly built of red brick and has a projecting chimney-stack on the E. side incorporating a garderobe pit. There is a small added bay of early 16th-century date on the S. side of the Hall, in which is a window of four lights with moulded mullions.
Interior—The Hall is now divided up by an inserted chimney-stack, but retains its two octagonal oak columns with moulded capitals dividing it into two bays; the main roof-truss has been removed but the original moulded and curved braces remain. The roof is continued down over the aisles without interruption. In the W. wall are remains of an early 16th-century screen with moulded posts and on the E. wall is a moulded and embattled plate. A door is made up of early 16th-century linen-fold panels. The upper floor of the E. wing has an arched plaster ceiling divided up into square panels by moulded ribs; there are two early 16th-century windows with moulded mullions and now blocked. The main staircase appears to have been much altered but probably incorporates 17th-century material.
The Moat surrounds the house and was formerly divided by a cross-arm.
Condition—Of house, good except W. wing.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered or weather-boarded; the roofs are tiled. Many of the buildings have original chimneystacks and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.
b(8). Priory Cottage (Plate, p. xxxi), house, 50 yards E. of the church, was built probably late in the 15th century with a central Hall and crosswings at the N. and S. ends; the Hall was subsequently divided into two storeys and there are 17th-century and modern additions at the back. The upper storey projects at the W. end of both cross-wings on curved brackets; the brackets of the N. wing spring from shafts with moulded capitals. The main block has a projecting and gabled bay and below it is the moulded head of an original window now destroyed. Inside the building one room has original moulded ceiling-joists. The Hall has an original moulded tie-beam with curved braces and the N. wing has an original king-post roof-truss.
b(9). House, at cross-roads, 70 yards N. by W. of (8), was built probably late in the 16th century and has a modern addition on the E.
b(10). House, 30 yards S.W. of (9), has been pulled down except for the lower part of the S. wall which is c. 1500 and has two doorways with four-centred heads and a window with a trefoiled head.
b(11). House, two tenements, on N. side of Mill Street, 500 yards W. of the church, was built probably in the first half of the 16th century and has a cross-wing at the E. end. The upper storey projects at the S. end of the cross-wing on curved brackets.
b(12). House, on E. side of Colchester road, 350 yards N. of the church, was built probably late in the 15th century with a cross-wing at the N. end and a back wing. The upper storey projected on the whole of the W. side but has been under-built; it still projects on the N. side of the back wing. Inside the building an original cambered tie-beam is exposed.
a(13). The Hill, cottage, 600 yards S.E. of the church, was built late in the 16th century and has several original windows with moulded frames and mullions.
a(14). Park Farm, house, 1 m. N.E. of the church, was built probably late in the 15th century but has been much altered. Inside the building, on the first floor is a framed partition with two doorways and a blank space dividing them; above the N. doorway (Plate, p. 101) is a painted blackletter inscription "Hic deum adora . . . " and on the upright is an inscribed scroll, forming part of a painted panel removed from here and now in the Colchester Museum. The work can hardly be in situ and may possibly, from the position of the two doorways, have formed the rood-screen in the Abbey church. The roof of the house has remains of the original construction.
a(15). Frowick Hall, house, nearly 1¾ m. N. of the church, was built probably late in the 16th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and E. There is an added 17th-century wing on the S.W., with a chimney-stack on the N. side having grouped diagonal shafts.
a(16). Highbirds, house, 1½ m. N.E. of (15), was built probably in the 16th century and has a 17th-century addition on the N.E. The upper storey projects at the W. end of the S. front.
b(17). Mound, in grounds of St. Osyth's Priory, N.E. of the house. The mound is circular and is surrounded by a shallow ditch.
b(18). Mound, about 250 yards N.W. of (17).