An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 4, South east. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1923.
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64. ORSETT. (C.d.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)lxxvi. S.W. (b)lxxxiii. N.E. (c)lxxxiv. N.W.)
Orsett is a parish and village 4 m. N. of Tilbury. The church, "Bishop Bonner's Palace" and Hall Farm are the principal monuments.
c(1). Parish Church of St. Giles and All Saints stands in the middle of the village. The walls are of flint and ragstone-rubble with some Barnack and pudding-stone; the N.W. tower is mainly of brick. The dressings are of Reigate and other limestone; the roofs are tiled and the spire weather-boarded. The Nave is of mid 12th-century date and incorporates the original 12th-century chancel. A N. aisle of three bays was added c. 1230, and about the same time a N. chapel was added to the 12th-century chancel, which may then have been lengthened. About 1330–1340 the present Chancel was built beyond the former chancel, which was then thrown into the nave, a connecting bay being inserted between the nave arcade and the 13th-century arch N. of the original chancel; at the same time the 13th-century chapel was abolished and the whole of the North Aisle re-built and widened. In the 15th century the North-West Tower was added, encroaching on the aisle, the W. wall of the nave was re-built and the South Porch added. About 1500 the North Chapel was added. In 1610 much of the tower was re-built, and extensive repairs or additions to it were made in 1674. The Organ Chamber, South Transept and North Vestry are modern, and the S. porch has been mostly re-built.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (39¼ ft. by 18¼ ft.) has an E. window of c. 1330–40 and of four trefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label, all partly restored. In the N. wall is a late 15th or early 16th-century arcade of two bays with two-centred arches of two moulded orders springing from an octagonal column and semi-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and hollow-chamfered bases. In the S. wall is an early 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the tracery is partly restored; the S. arcade is modern. There is no chancel-arch.
The North Chapel (39 ft. by 21 ft.) has the lower part of the N. and E. walls roughly diapered with flint and ragstone; the E. window is modern. In the N. wall are two windows, the eastern of c. 1500, and of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the western is like the S. window of the chancel, but the tracery has been partly restored; at the W. end of the S. wall is a shallow buttress which probably marks the N.E. angle of the original church.
The modern Organ Chamber incorporates in the E. and S. walls two re-set and partly restored windows of the same date and similar in design to that in the S. wall of the chancel.
The Nave (62¾ ft. by 18½ ft.) has a N. arcade (Plate, p. 37) of five bays, but the westernmost bay now forms a recess, being blocked by the S. wall of the W. tower. The arches are two-centred; the first and the three westernmost are of the 13th century and of two orders, the outer plain and the inner chamfered; the third and fourth arches have plain labels; the westernmost arch and possibly the easternmost arch have been re-built and the labels cut back; the second arch is of the 14th century and of two moulded orders with an additional hollow-chamfered order on the S. side; this order is corbelled out on the E. side and on the W. is carried on a carved head-corbel. The E. respond is semi-octagonal and has a partly restored capital and a moulded base partly cut away and repaired in cement; the first two piers are of 14th-century date and have grouped shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the third and fourth piers are circular and the W. respond semi-octagonal, all with moulded capitals and bases. The deflection in the line of the N. wall, in the second bay, is due to the different widths of the early chancel and nave, which joined at this point. In the S. wall is a modern arch and two windows; the eastern is of late 14th-century date and of three ogee cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a square head with a damaged label and head-stops, one of which is modern; the western window is of mid 14th-century date and of two cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a restored moulded label. Between the windows is the S. doorway (Plate, p. 161), of c. 1160, with a semi-circular arch of two orders, the outer square and the inner carved with cheveron ornament and carried on attached shafts with carved capitals and chamfered bases; the abaci are continued along the wall-face and support a label carved with billet-enrichment; the opening has a flat segmental head with small rolls at the angles, and the tympanum is filled with a sunk panel carved with triangular diaper-work. The break in the S. wall marks the entrance of the original chancel. The W. wall has been largely refaced, and the W. window, copied from the late 15th-century original, has been restored except for the rear-arch and parts of the label and outer jambs.
The North Aisle (50¼ ft. by 20¼ ft.) has in the N. wall two 14th-century windows, each of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the dressings have been repaired in cement; immediately W. of the eastern window is the doorway to the 15th-century rood-loft staircase; it is two-centred, with rebated jambs and head; the stairs are cut through the W. splay of the window and land on the middle of the sill; the 14th-century N. doorway has moulded jambs, two-centred head and label, repaired in cement.
The modern North Vestry incorporates some old material.
The North-West Tower (16½ ft. square) is of three stages, with a plain parapet and embattled turret; it is surmounted by a pyramidal spire. The lower part of the tower is partly of rubble and of 15th-century date; the E. wall and parts of the other walls are of 17th-century brick. In the E. wall is a round-headed archway with plain plastered imposts and keystone. In the wall above are three unfinished inscriptions, one, "Valentine Carey Deane of S. Paules and parson of Orset gave to this steeple," dates the rebuilding c. 1610; the other inscriptions record the names of other contributors to the tower; above the modern W. doorway is an early 17th-century brick window of three four-centred lights in a square head. The second stage has, in the S. wall, a doorway to the roof with a two-centred head; in the W. wall is a 17th-century brick window of two four-centred lights in a square head with a moulded label. The bell-chamber has in each wall a square-headed window of two four-centred lights with a moulded label, all repaired in cement. On the S. side of the parapet is the date 1678. The spire is of 1694.
The South Porch has been re-built, but retains a 15th-century roof of two bays with a moulded cambered tie-beam, king-post, four-way struts, central purlin, braced collar-beams and old rafters.
The Roof of the chancel is plastered except the early 16th-century N. and S. wall-plates, which are moulded and embattled. The roof to the N. chapel and aisle is probably of early 17th-century or earlier date and is divided into six bays by chamfered tie-beams; the eastern part of the S. wall-plate is carried on shaped stone corbels; the W. tie-beam rests on square moulded corbels built into the tower wall. The roof of the nave (Plate, p. 37) is of five bays, with moulded tiebeams supported on curved braces with traceried spandrels; the third, fourth, and fifth tie-beams have king-posts with two-way struts and a central purlin, parts of which and the cross-struts have been cut away; across the W. end is a collar with curved braces below forming a two-centred arch; the wall-plates are moulded and embattled; the first two bays are of the 16th and the remainder of the 15th century.
Fittings—Brasses and Indents. Brasses: In chancel—on N. wall, (1) to Robert Kinge, Parson, 1584, inscription and shield-of-arms; on floor, (2) to Thomas Latham, 1485, and Jane his wife; figures of children, son in long loose gown and two daughters wearing butterfly head-dresses, etc., part of inscription and head of son worn away. In tower, (3) inscription recording benefaction of Thomas Hotofte, 1495. In vestry, loose, (4) group of six girls, 16th-century. See also Monument (2). Indents: In chancel—forming seat to sedilia, (1) fragment of Purbeck marble slab, with marginal inscription in Lombardic letters, 13th-century. In nave—(2) two large figures with inscription-plate, two groups of children and shield; (3) defaced; (4) inscription-plate; (5) two figures, inscription-plate and two small indents; (6) similar to (5), but figures smaller; (7) figure of woman with inscription-plate. In N. aisle— (8) half figures of man and woman with inscription-plate. Chests: In chancel, of oak, with front of four linen-fold panels with shaped brackets under, end rails carried down to form legs; lid with moulded frame planted on to form panel, late 16th-century. In N. aisle, of oak (Plate p. xliii), with grooved marginal enrichment on front, back and ends, and remains of iron bands, late 16th or early 17th-century, bottom missing, lid in one piece, from older 'dug-out' chest, 13th-century. Font (Plate, pp. xlii-iii): octagonal bowl with alternate faces carved with rosettes and shields, one charged with an archbishop's pall and cross, probably for the archbishopric of Canterbury, one with one roundel and a label possibly for Archbishop Courtenay, the two others each with a cross; the buttresses, stem and hollow-chamfered base, c. 1500. Glass: In nave—in S.E. window, six quatrefoils with rosettes and borders, four partly restored, 14th-century; in head of middle light, miscellaneous fragments, 15th-century. In N. aisle—in N.E. window, part of border of swastikas and a few oak-leaf quarries, etc., 14th-century; in middle window, in top quatrefoil, rosette with foliage, portion of border and some oak-leaf quarries, 14th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In N. chapel—against N. wall, (1) to Sir John Hart, 1658, white marble altar-tomb (Plate, p. 105) with black marble moulded bases and top slab, on tomb recumbent effigy, in civil costume, flanked by Ionic columns supporting an entablature with carved frieze and curved pediment, five shields-of-arms; against S. wall, (2) rectangular Purbeck marble panel with arched recess having trefoiled spandrels and small side shafts; in panel, brass of kneeling figure of man in civil costume, scroll, and indents of Trinity and inscription-plate, c. 1535. Floor-slabs: In chancel —(1) to Jane, wife of William Gilbert, 1639, with two shields-of-arms; (2) to William Gilbert, 1640, with two shields-of-arms; (3) to Matthew Styles, 1652, with shield-of-arms; (4) to Jane Sonds, 1686. In N. chapel—(5) to John . . . . ., 1658. In nave—(6) to Theophilus Bustard, 1668, and Margaret (Halfhid) his first wife, 1653, with shield-of-arms. In N. aisle—(7) to John Brown, 1597. Niche: In N. chapel—in S.W. corner, with lancet-head, much restored. Painting: In N. aisle—on W. end of N. wall, traces of long staff and small figure, probably St. Christopher and the Christ Child, late 15th or early 16th-century. Piscina: In chancel—with chamfered jambs and trefoiled head with moulded label and quatre-foiled drain, jambs repaired in cement and sill of drain carried along to seats of adjoining sedilia, 14th-century; shelf modern. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1575, flagon of 1677 engraved with inscription and shield and date, 1678, salver of 1677 and dated the same year, and salver of 1688, dated 1705. Pulpit (Plate, p. 4): panelled sides in two tiers with enriched frieze, dentilled cornice and carved shield-of-arms, base and stairs modern; against the wall at back of stairs, richly carved and arcaded panelling with fluted pilasters at the sides; in upper panel initials IS.-R.I., in the frieze the date 1630. The pulpit is said to have been brought from Bletchingley. Screen: Between N. aisle and N. chapel—mostly modern but incorporating 15th-century traceried heads to the upper panels, lower part of the cornice, and close lower panelling, pierced with two quatrefoils and a trefoil. Sedilia: In chancel—of three bays with stepped seats and moulded two-centred arches with moulded labels, springing from Purbeck marble shafts with moulded capitals and bases, 14thrcentury. Sundials: Two, on E. jamb of S. doorway, triangular with three radiating sinkings. Weather-vane: On spire, of wrought iron with initials I.B.-I.F. and date 1694. Miscellanea: In vestry—two pots said to have been dug up in the churchyard, also rowel-spur, probably 16th-century. In nave—stone mortar.
c(2). "Bishop Bonner's Palace," ring and bailey earthwork, ¼ m. N.W. of the church. The work consists of a circular enclosure (200 ft. internal diameter) surrounded by a ditch about 50 ft. wide. To the N. is an oblong bailey enclosed by a well-defined ditch; on the N. side the defences are strengthened by a second ditch. The work is said to be the site of a palace of the bishops of London, but the only remains of buildings is a fragment of rubble foundation on the N.W. side of the ring-work. In a wood 200 yards to the W. is a large oblong fish-pond.
c(3). Orsett Hall, ½ m. E.N.E. of the church, has been practically re-built, but a room in the S.E. corner of the building has a mid 17th-century plaster ceiling and a stone fireplace (Plate, p. 97). The ceiling is divided by a ceiling-beam into two bays sub-divided by moulded ribs into panels of varying form with small pendants at the main intersections and sprigs of foliage, cherubs-heads and rosettes in the panels. The fireplace has moulded jambs and four-centred arch and is flanked by strapwork pilasters with terminal figures supporting an overmantel of two arched bays divided by similar pilasters and carved with figures of Hope and Charity; the entablature is enriched with heads and arabesques with birds. In the hall is some original panelling.
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 or thatched. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams or original chimney-stacks.
Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.
c(4). Birch Terrace, house (Plate, pp. xl–i), three tenements, 100 yards E. of the church, has a 16th-century cross-wing at the S. end. The upper storey projects at the W. end of the cross-wing and has exposed timber-framing.
c(5). Crown House, formerly inn, 30 yards S.W. of the church, has an original chimney-stack on the N. with the initials and date IMD 1674 (?).
Inside the building are some old battened doors.
c(6). Cottage, S.W. of (5) on S. side of road, has an original panelled door.
c(7). Cottage, E. of (6).
c(8). House, and shop, E. of (7), has cross-wings at the E. and W. ends.
c(9). Church House, now post-office, E. of (8), has a cross-wing at E. end with the upper storey projecting in front. Inside the building is an original battened door.
c(10). Barrington's Farm, house, 1200 yards S.E. of the church, was built late in the 17th or early in the 18th century, but has been refaced with modern brick. Inside the building is an original battened door.
c(11). Cock Inn, 280 yards S. of (10).
c(12). Seaborough Hall, nearly 1¼ m. S.S.E. of the church, has a cross-wing at the W. end. Inside the building are some old battened doors.
c(13). "Five Chimneys," house, two tenements, about ¾ m. S.S.W. of the church, was built late in the 17th or early in the 18th century.
c(14). Cottage, at N.W. side of Orsett Heath, nearly 1½ m. S.S.W. of the church, was built late in the 17th or early in the 18th century.
b(15). Kempsters, house, 1 m. S.W. of the church, has a cross-wing at the N. end and has been partly refaced with brick.
b(16). House, at S.E. angle of cross-roads at Baker Street, ¾ m. W.S.W. of the church, was built probably in the 16th century and has a cross-wing at the W. end. The upper storey projects at the N. end of the cross-wing.
b(17). Mill House (Plate, pp. xl–i), 70 yards W. of (16), has a later addition on the S. The upper storey projects on part of the N. front. Inside the building the early 18th-century staircase has a close string, turned balusters and square newels.
b(18). Greygoose Farm, house, 1½ m. W.S.W. of the church.
c(19). Hill House, 700 yards W.S.W. of the church, has a two-storeyed porch on the S. front with a hipped roof.
c(20). Hall Farm, house and "cage," about 400 yards N.W. of the church. The House has been re-built except for the early 16th-century E. portion (Plate, p. xxxiv), which is a good example of exposed timber-framing. The upper storey projects and is gabled at the E. end, and each storey has an original window of eight lights with pointed heads; at the base of the gable is a moulded and enriched beam and the barge-boards are also moulded. On the S. side is an original moulded ceiling-beam.
The "Cage" or lock-up has been re-erected E. of the house. It is a timber-framed structure (8 ft. by 5 ft.) with a hipped roof. It has a small two-light window fitted with iron bars and a battened door.
c(21). House, ¼ m. E. of (20), has a cross-wing at the E. end.
a(22). Lorkins, house, 1¼ m. N. by E. of the church, was built in the 15th century and has a cross-wing at the W. end. The upper storey projects at the S. end of the cross-wing on curved brackets; at the base of the gable is a moulded bressummer. Inside the building the main block has been divided into two storeys, but retains its original king-post roof.
b(23). Dene-holes in Hangman's Wood, mostly in Little Thurrock parish (q.v.).