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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A Few informal words will not, I trust, be out of place by way of introduction to this Inventory, and may help to explain both the arrangement of these pages and the manner in which the monuments have been recorded.
This volume contains (in addition to the terms of appointment and official report) a Sectional Preface which, under subject headings, calls attention to any particularly interesting examples mentioned in the Inventory; an illustrated Inventory, with a concise account of the monuments visited; a list of monuments that the Commissioners have selected as especially worthy of preservation; a glossary of architectural, heraldic and archæological terms; a map showing the topographical distribution of the scheduled monuments, and an index.
Under the heads of parishes, arranged alphabetically, will be found a list of their respective monuments, and an introductory paragraph which calls attention to the more noticeable monuments in the parish. The chronological sequence chosen is not perhaps scientifically perfect, but it has been found a workable basis for classification. The order adopted is as follows:—
(1) Prehistoric monuments and earthworks.
(2) Roman monuments and Roman earthworks.
(3) English ecclesiastical monuments.
(4) English secular monuments.
(5) Unclassified monuments.
In addition to dwelling houses, the English secular class (4) includes all such earthworks as mount and bailey castles, homestead moats, etc. To the section of unclassified monuments (5) are assigned all undatable earthworks.
Each category of monuments has been under the care of separate SubCommissions, with the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres and myself as Chairmen.
The descriptions of the monuments are of necessity much compressed, but the underlying principle on which accounts of any importance are based is the same throughout.
In the first place, the Parish is located by letters in brackets which refer to the square where it is to be found in the map at the end of the volume; reference is also given where necessary to the Ordnance sheets (scale 6 inches to the mile) by small letters in front of the number of each monument. In the case of Churches, the description begins with a few words on the situation and material of the monument, together with a statement as to the development of its various parts. A second paragraph calls attention, when necessary, to its more remarkable features. This is followed by a concise description, mainly architectural, of its details. A fourth paragraph deals with the fittings in alphabetical order, while the concluding sentence gives a general statement as to structural condition. The accounts of less important buildings, whether secular or ecclesiastical, are still further compressed, and in the case of secular monuments consist of a single paragraph, or of a mere mention of their situation if they belong to a group with certain characteristics described in a covering paragraph.
The illustrations are derived from photographs taken expressly for the Commission, and reproduced by H.M.'s Stationery Office, whose work, I think, deserves special recognition. They have been chosen rather for their educational than their æsthetic value. Had appearance alone been made the test of selection, many more might easily have been included. The map at the end of the Inventory shows the distribution of the monuments, and incidentally throws some light on the concentration of population in the country at various times before the year 1714.
To ensure clearness of description, all ancient churches not illustrated by historically hatched plans have been provided with key plans to a uniform scale of 48 feet to the inch, with the monumental portions shown in solid black. The dimensions given in the Inventory are internal unless otherwise stated. Monuments with titles in italics are covered by an introductory sentence to which reference should be made. Further, the index has again been revised at the hands of the small Committee of the Commission, whose report and recommendations were adopted for the preparation of the index to Essex, Volume II.
It may also be well again to draw attention to the fact that our Record Cards may be consulted by any properly accredited persons, by giving notice of any such intention to our Secretary, at 66, Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W.1. The cards contain drawings of tracery and mouldings as well as plans and sketches of the monuments—forming in truth the complete National Inventory—and will ultimately be deposited for reference in the Public Records Office.
As in the past, no monument has been or will be included in our Inventories that has not been actually inspected and the account checked in situ by a member of our own investigating staff. In a work of such intricate detail there must be mistakes. But I hope these are neither numerous nor serious. A further guarantee of accuracy lies in the fact that my fellow Commissioners Mr. Page and Mr. Peers have revised the reports of the Inventories of secular and ecclesiastical monuments, while Mr. Montgomerie has visited and supervised the reports on earthworks. Further, the heraldry of the Inventory has been checked by the Reverend E. E. Dorling, F.S.A.; the descriptions of armour by Mr. J. Murray Kendall, F.S.A. (Assistant to the Secretary of the Imperial War Museum); the descriptions of glass by Dr. James; the description of brasses by Mr. Mill Stephenson, F.S.A.; the spelling of names and descriptions of costumes by Mr. O. Barron, F.S.A.; and the accounts of Roman monuments by our Assistant Commissioner, the late Mr. R. P. L. Booker, F.S.A., and Dr. R. E. Mortimer Wheeler, F.S.A. (Assistant Keeper of the Welsh National Museum). Nevertheless I shall welcome any corrections and criticisms that may be sent to me with a view to their possible inclusion in some future edition.
It is much to be regretted that, owing to the financial exigencies of the time, our staff has not only not been restored to its pre-war strength but has been further reduced during the present year, while the recent sudden death of Mr. R. P. L. Booker has added to our tale of loss, though I am glad to report that the account of Roman Colchester in the main body of the Inventory, as well as that part of the Sectional Preface which deals with the very important finds and Roman remains in the N.E. section of the County was written and revised by him before his death.
The success that has already attended the publication of the Commission's Inventories, and their value in securing the preservation of monuments of historical interest, that otherwise might have been destroyed, leads me to hope that the reduction of the work of investigation that must result will be only temporary.
26th July, 1922.