Pages 216-219

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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In this section

86. TOLLESBURY. (C.e.)

(O.S. 6 in. (a)xlvi. N.W. (b)xlvi. S.W. (c)xlvi. S.E. (d)lv. N.W.)

Tollesbury is a parish and village on the N. side of the estuary of the Blackwater and 7½ m. E.N.E. of Maldon. The church, Bourchier's Hall and Black Cottages are the principal monuments.


(1). At the restoration of the church about 1875 many Roman tiles, including flue-tiles, were found in the nave, tower and S. doorway. If these were not brought 3 miles from Tolleshunt Knights, or from West Mersea, they presumably indicate the site of a Roman building. (Brit. Arch. Assoc. Jour., XXXII, 418.) (See also Sectional Preface, p. xxvii.)


b(2). Parish Church of St. Mary stands S.E. of the village green. The walls are of boulder-clay and the upper part of the tower of red brick; the dressings are of clunch and Roman brick and the roofs are tiled. The Nave and the ground stage of the West Tower were built probably late in the 11th century. Probably in the 14th century the tower-arch was rebuilt. In the 16th or early in the 17th century the two upper stages of the tower were rebuilt. The church was restored in 1872 when the Chancel was lengthened and rebuilt and the South Porch added.

The nave is an interesting example of early work.

Architectural Description—The Nave (41¾ ft. by 21½ ft.) has in the N. wall two windows, the eastern modern and the western of mid 15th-century date and of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical and transomed tracery in a two-centred head; the jambs and label are moulded and the mullions are modern; further W. is the N. doorway, all modern except a few stones in the jambs and rear-arch; in this wall are three original windows, now blocked and all to the W. of the modern window; they are only visible externally and are set regularly spaced and high in the wall; the jambs and rough semi-circular heads are of boulder-clay; one of these windows has recently been opened out. In the S. wall are four windows, the easternmost and westernmost are modern; the second is uniform with the 15th-century window in the N. wall but the transom is embattled; the third window is of late 11th-century date and similar to the blocked windows in the N. wall, but more carefully built and perhaps lengthened and widened; W. of and below this window is the S. doorway (Plate, p. 142) with 15th-century double chamfered jambs and two-centred arch with a moulded label; the splays round rear-arch and tympanum are of late 11th-century date and of Roman brick; between the two eastern windows is a 15th-century doorway with a two-centred head and now blocked; it formerly opened into the rood-loft staircase.

The West Tower is of three stages, the lowest of late 11th-century date and the two upper of brick and of the 16th or early 17th century. The embattled parapet was probably repaired in the 18th century. The tower-arch is probably of late 14th-century date, much scraped, and is of four chamfered orders, the inner order two-centred and dying on to the chamfered responds and the other orders segmental-pointed; above the arch is a rough relieving-arch partly of Roman brick and perhaps built of the materials of the 11th-century tower-arch. The W. doorway and window are modern. The second stage has in the N., S. and W. walls a 16th or 17th-century window, each of one light; the S. window has a reused trefoiled head of stone; the W. window has a rounded head of brick; both have square labels of brick; the N. window is covered by a clock. The bell-chamber has in each wall a brick window of two lights in a square head with a moulded label; the E. window has lights with rounded heads but the others have cinquefoiled stone heads reused.

Tollesbury. Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin.

The Roof of the tower is probably of early 17th-century date and is pyramidal with diagonal ties and an upright post in the middle.

Fittings—Bells: six; 3rd by Miles Graie, 1604; 5th by Miles Graye, 1661, bell-frame probably early 17th-century. Book: some pages of a Great Bible of 1540. Brass and Indent. Brass: In nave—on S. wall, of [Thomas Freshwater, 1517, and Margaret, his wife], with figures of man in fur-lined gown and woman with pedimental head-dress, group of nine daughters, indents for inscription-plate and two sons. Indent: In nave—in S. wall externally, fragment of Purbeck marble slab with a few letters of a Lombardic inscription, early 14th-century. Chest: In tower —plain with iron straps at angles, possibly 17th-century. Monument: In chancel—on N. wall, to Jane (Kempe), wife of Thomas Gardiner, 1654, richly carved, veined marble tablet with pediment and four shields of arms. Plate: includes cup of 1562 with three bands of incised ornament and a plated pewter flagon, late 17th-century. Stoup: In S. porch—with rounded head, 16th-century, bowl broken.



b(3). Bourchier's Hall, nearly 1¼ m. N.W. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 14th century and originally consisted of a great Hall with aisles probably on both sides and cross-wings at the N. and S. ends. In the 16th century the staircase wing was added on part of the site of the former E. aisle, the S. cross-wing destroyed and the Hall divided into two storeys. There are 17th-century additions on the E. side and a modern addition at the N.W. angle.

The house has interesting timber construction of the 14th century.

The W. front has the main roof carried down low over the former W. aisle and in it have been inserted two gabled dormers. Inside the building the former great hall has been cut up into rooms and the oak columns which must have supported the middle roof-truss have apparently been removed. The main roof of this building remains and the original roof-truss has a cambered and moulded tie-beam, with curved and moulded braces forming a two-centred arch; the octagonal king-post has a moulded capital and base and four-way struts; the common rafters are continued down over the former aisle on the W. side and there are definite indications that they continued over a corresponding aisle on the E. side which has been destroyed. All the original timbers are much blackened with smoke. The S. bay of the main roof has two intermediate collar-beams supporting upright posts. In the E. wall of the staircase wing is a 16th-century window of three lights with moulded mullions and now blocked. The 17th-century addition has exposed ceiling-beams.

At Guisnes Court, 150 yards W. of Bourchier's Hall, is a considerable quantity of early 16th-century linen-fold panelling said to have been removed from Bourchier's Hall; there is also an early 17th-century overmantel (Plate, p. xxxiii) probably of the same provenance and with fluted Ionic pilasters flanking the fireplace, a fluted frieze with carved lions' heads and an overmantel of three bays divided by coupled Ionic columns on pedestals; the panels have arched heads and enclose an achievement and two cartouches with painted arms of the Gardner family.


b(4). The Cage, at the N.W. corner of the churchyard, is a square building, timber-framed and weather-boarded; the pyramidal roof is also boarded. It was built probably early in the 18th century but many of the timbers have been renewed. At the apex of the roof is an acorn-shaped finial.

Condition—Fairly good.

Monuments (5–28).

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 ceilingbeams.

Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.

b(5). Tollesbury Hall, now three tenements, S. of the churchyard, was built probably in the 15th century with a central Hall and cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. The W. cross-wing has since been altered and the main roof extended over it. The central chimney-stack has the lower parts of three 16th-century octagonal shafts, now covered with cement. Inside the building the roof of the E. wing has an original king-post truss.

b(6). Cottage, two tenements, 50 yards S.W. of (5).

b(7). House, two tenements, on W. side of the Green, 70 yards N. of (6), was built probably in the 16th century with cross-wings at the N. and S. ends. It has been refronted with modern brick.

b(8). House, three tenements, on E. side of the Green, 60 yards N. of the church, was built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century. The ground storey in front has been refaced with modern brick and there is a cross-wing at each end.

East Street

b(9). Cottage, two tenements, on S. side of street, 100 yards E. of (8).

b(10). Range of four tenements, E. of (9).

b(11). Cottage, three tenements, on N. side of street, 70 yards N.N.W. of (9).


Main Street, N. side

b(12). House, two tenements, at N. end of the Green, 100 yards N.N.W. of the church, has been refronted with modern brick.

b(13). House, two tenements, 100 yards W. of (12), has been refronted with modern brick.

b(14). House and three shops, 70 yards W. of (13), has been in part refronted with modern brick.

b(15). House, two tenements, W. of (14).

b(16). Cottage, three tenements, 360 yards W. of (15), has an original central chimney-stack with a moulded capping and plain pilasters to the shafts.

S. side

b(17). House, two tenements, 200 yards E. of (16).

b(18). Black Cottages, house, E. of (17), was built c. 1520 with a cross-wing at the E. end. A W. cross-wing has probably been destroyed. Inside the building the two W. tenements formed the Hall and the ground floor has moulded ceilingbeams and plates, elaborately carved with twisted leaf ornament (Plate, p. xxxvii); the joists are also moulded. The upper storey formerly projected in front. The E. wing has an original cambered tie-beam with curved braces.

b(19). House, three tenements, 110 yards E. of (18), was built probably c. 1666, which date with the initials R.B.C. appears in a sunk panel in the central chimney-stack; the shafts have diagonal pilaster-strips.

b(20). House (Plate, p. xxxi), three tenements, 60 yards E. of (19), was built late in the 15th or early in the 16th century, with a central Hall and cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. The Hall was subsequently divided into two storeys. The upper storey projects at the front ends of the cross-wings. Inside the building the former hall has a passage representing the 'screens' at the E. end and in the E. wall is an original doorway with chamfered jambs and ogee head, now blocked; a second doorway, said to be similar, is now papered over. In the N. wall of the W. wing is an original window with a rounded head and one diamond-shaped mullion still in situ. Both cross-wings have remains of the original roof-trusses.

b(21). House, three tenements, 120 yards E. of (20), was built probably early in the 16th century and formerly had cross-wings at the E. and W. ends, both now covered by the main roof. The upper storey projects at the front end of the former E. wing.

b(22). Prentice Hall Farm, house, 1,000 yards W.S.W. of the church, has a later wing on the W. side. The original central chimney-stack has plain pilasters at the angles and oversailing courses at the top.

b(23). Bohun's Hall, house and barn, ¼ m. S. of the church. The House has a wing at the N. end of 16th or early 17th-century date, but the rest of the house was rebuilt probably late in the 18th century. The old wing has original moulded barge-boards.

The Barn, W. of the house, is of six bays with two porches; the roof has queen-post trusses.

d(24). Roll's Farm, house, nearly 1½ m. S.W. of the church, was built probably early in the 16th century and has a cross-wing at the E. end. At the W. end is a modern addition perhaps on the site of a former W. wing. The upper storey projects at the N. end of the cross-wing. Inside the building the ground floor of the E. wing has original moulded ceiling-beams and joists and in the W. wall is a doorway with a four-centred head. In the main block is a chamfered ceiling-beam supported by a moulded bracket.

b(25), Bourchier's Lodge, house, 20 yards S. of (3), has modern additions on the E. side.

b(26). Cottage, 300 yards N. of (3).

b(27). Old Hall Cottage, ½ m. E. of (26), has been rebuilt except the central chimney-stack which has attached diagonal pilasters.

a(28). Salcottstone Farm, house, 1¾ m. N.N.W. of the church, was built in the 15th or early in the 16th century, with a central Hall and crosswings at the E. and W. ends. The E. wing has been destroyed and the W. wing is now included under the main roof. The 17th-century chimney-stack has two diagonal and one square shaft. Inside the building the former Hall, now divided into two storeys, has an original king-post truss in the roof.


c(29). Red Hill, N. of Woodrolfe Farm, and about ¾ m. E. of the church. There are others on Wick Marshes.