Pages 231-234

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

98. WIVENHOE. (D.d.)

(O.S. 6 in. xxxvii. N.W.)

Wivenhoe is a parish and small town on the left bank of the Colne, 3½ m. S.E. of Colchester. The church, Wivenhoe Hall and the house (6) are the principal monuments.


(1). Parish Church of St. Mary stands in the town. The walls are of mixed rubble, with some Roman brick in the aisle walls and in the ground stage of the tower. The dressings are of Reigate and hard limestone. The roofs are covered with slates. The chancel-arch and the arches of the N. arcade incorporate 13th-century worked voussoirs but there is no work in situ of this date. The North Arcade and Aisle of the Nave were built c. 1340 and the South Arcade and Aisle c. 1350. The West Tower was added c. 1500. The church was extensively restored and the E. parts enlarged in 1859 and another restoration took place after the earthquake of 1884, so that the Chancel and North and South Chapels are modern. The North and South Porches are modern. There was a N. but no S. chapel before the restoration.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (29½ ft. by 16½ ft.) is modern but the chancel-arch incorporates some 14th-century stones and the outer order on the E. is largely of 13th-century voussoirs, reworked in the 14th century.

The North and South Chapels are modern but incorporated in the W. arch of the S. chapel are a few old stones. There are also old stones in the rear-arch of the N.W. window of the N. chapel.

The Nave (44¼ ft. by 17¾ ft.) has a N. arcade of c. 1340, of three bays with two-centred arches of two wave-moulded orders and octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases and responds with attached half-columns; the E. respond, first arch, part of the second arch and the first column are modern; the arches incorporate reworked 13th-century voussoirs. The S. arcade is generally similar to the N. arcade but rather later; the E. respond, first arch, first column and the lowest stone of the second arch are modern; the base of the W. respond is restored.

The North Aisle (12¼ ft. wide) has in the N. wall two windows the eastern modern except the 14th-century splays and moulded two-centred rear-arch; further W. is the N. doorway modern except for the 14th-century splays and hollowchamfered, two-centred rear-arch. The eastern part of this wall appears to have been refaced. In the W. wall is a window modern except for the 14th-century splays and segmental-pointed rear-arch.

The South Aisle (13 ft. wide) has in the S. wall two modern windows incorporating a few old stones internally. Further W. is the S. doorway modern except for the 14th-century splays and the segmental-pointed rear-arch, partly restored. In the W. wall is a window all modern except for the 14th-century splays and moulded two-centred rear-arch.

The West Tower (12 ft. by 10 ft.) is of c. 1500 and of three stages with a modern embattled parapet and a moulded plinth with flint chequerwork. The tower-arch is two-centred and of two hollow-chamfered orders; the semi-octagonal responds have moulded capitals and bases. The W. window is modern except the splays and two-centred hollow-chamfered rear-arch. The second stage has in the N., S. and W. walls a plain rectangular light. The bell-chamber has a modern two-light window in each face. The N.E. stair-turret is modern.

Fittings—Brasses and Indents. Brasses: In chancel—(1) of William, Viscount Beaumont and Lord Bardolfe [1507], large figure in Tudor armour, head on helm with lion crest, feet on elephant, with castle, standing on a broom-pod; elaborate triple-arched canopy with crocketed gables and pinnacles, horizontal super-canopy, shafts gone, mutilated marginal inscription with elephant and castle-stops, indents of roundels at angles, two angels and Trinity; (2) of [Elizabeth, widow of above and wife of John, Earl of Oxford, 1537], large figure of woman in heraldic cloak with the arms of Scrope quartering Tiptoft, pedimental head-dress with coronet, triple canopy with crocketed gables and pinnacles, side buttresses, embattled super-canopy with cresting, four shields of arms— (a) and (b) Scrope quartering Tiptoft; (c) Vere quartering Howard impaling (a); (d) a quartered shield of Beaumont impaling (a); side-shafts and part of canopy missing, remains of marginal inscription; (3) of Thomas Westeley, chaplain to the Countess of Oxford, 1535, figure of priest in mass vestments with chalice and host. Indents: In nave—(1) and (2) of marginal inscription with roundels and shield; (3) of man in armour and wife, groups of children, four shields and inscription-plate, late 15th-century. In N. aisle—(4) of figure, 15th-century; (5) of civilian and two shields in panels, 15th-century; (6) defaced; (7) of canopy, four shields and marginal inscription, 15th-century, much worn; (8) of marginal inscription in Lombardic capitals to Margerie de Sutt(on)e, early 14th-century; (9) of civilian, scroll, shield, inscription-plate and two other plates, 15th-century; (10) of man in armour, marginal inscription and four shields, c. 1500. Chest: In vestry —with elaborate arabesque ornament in iron, two monograms on lid surmounted by coronets, ornamental handles and key-plate, 16th-century, foreign. Font: In N. aisle—octagonal bowl, traceried panels to sides with alternate shields and foliage, 15th-century, stem and base modern. Monuments: In churchyard—S. side (1) to..., 1686, head-stone; W. side (2) to Joseph Townson, 1690, head-stone. Plate: includes cup of 1562, 17th-century cover-paten and flagon of 1709 given in 1729.

Condition—Fairly good.


(2). Wivenhoe Hall (Plate, p. 234), nearly ¼ m. N. of the church, is of two storeys. The walls are of brick and plastered timber-framing; the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1530 but only the N. wing remains; the rest of the building includes some original work but was very much altered and rebuilt in 1844. The N. wing has, at the E. and W. ends, original crow-stepped gables with pinnacles set diagonally; there is a second smaller but similar gable at the W. end; the stepped parapets are partly supported by trefoiled corbelling and each gable has a shallow niche with a doubletrefoiled head; flanking the niches of the main gables are small round-headed windows set in square sinkings. In the E. wall is a wide wall-arch with moulded jambs and four-centred head with a moulded label. There are also other original windows with square heads and moulded labels, but fitted with modern frames. Inside the building the N. wing has original moulded ceiling-beams and joists. The rest of the building retains a moulded ceiling-beam, part of an original doorway and a staircase incorporating some 16th-century material. Under the S. wing is an original cellar with a barrel-vaulted roof of brick.

Condition—Good, much altered.

Monuments (3–8).

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.

(3). House and shop, on W. side of High Street, 30 yards W.N.W. of the church, has in front an original coved eaves-cornice of plaster, enriched with running foliage. The upper storey formerly projected at the W. end but has been under-built.

(4). House, on N. side of street, 20 yards W. of (3).

(5). House and shop, W. of (4). The upper storey projects at the end of the back wing. The front has been refaced with 18th-century brick.


(6). House (Plate, p. 235), on S. side of street, 30 yards S.S.W. of the church, was built about the middle of the 17th century.

The pargeting is noteworthy.

The upper storey projects on the S. side on three moulded and shaped brackets; the projecting eaves have a moulded cornice, and there is an original doorway with a moulded frame and a modern window with an original moulded sill. The N. front has the upper storey completely covered with elaborate pargeting with a running band of foliage at the base and large panels of foliage and strap-work above. In the roof is a dormer with an original moulded frame and a pargeted gable. Inside the building one room on the first floor has monochrome decoration of swags and scrolls over the fireplace and traces of painted pilasters under the beams and in the angles of the room.


(7). House, three tenements, on W. side of road, 60 yards E. of the church. The upper storey projected on the E. front but has been under-built; the two projecting gables on the same side have original shaped and moulded brackets.

(8). House, on W. side of road, near the Quay, and 60 yards S.S.E. of the church. The E. gable has original dentilled barge-boards, carved with arabesque ornament.