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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68. PURLEIGH. (E.b.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)lxi. N.E. (b)lxii. N.W.)
Purleigh is a parish 3½ m. S. of Maldon. The church is the principal monument.
b(1). Parish Church of All Saints stands about the middle of the parish. The walls are of ragstone, septaria and flint rubble. The chancel and tower have courses of 14th-century bricks with a partly glazed surface; the porch is of red brick; the dressings are of limestone; the roofs are tiled. The whole church, consisting of Chancel, Nave, North and South Aisles and West Tower, was re-built in the 14th-century, with the possible exception of the W. wall of the nave; the work was begun early in the century, the tower being the latest part undertaken. Early in the 16th century the South Porch was added. In the 18th century the N. and W. walls of the N. aisle were re-built. The church was restored in the 19th century, when the chancel-arch and the upper part of the S. arcade were reconstructed and the walls of the aisles partly re-built.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (34 ft. by 13 ft.) has a 14th-century E. window of three cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with moulded rear-arch and labels. In the N. wall are two 14th-century windows, each of two cinque-foiled lights with a sex-foiled spandrel in a two-centred head with moulded rear-arch and labels. In the S. wall are two similar windows, and between them is a doorway probably of the same date, now blocked. The four-centred chancel-arch is of two chamfered orders; the responds have moulded capitals; the work is of the 15th century, reconstructed in modern times.
The Nave (47 ft. by 24 ft.) has an early 14th-century N. arcade of three bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the octagonal columns have moulded capitals and bases and the responds have attached half-columns. Below the capitals of the E. respond and the easternmost pier are carved shields of the arms of Brianzon— gyronny of twelve pieces with a bend over all, both mutilated. The S. arcade is of similar date and detail to the N. arcade, except that the orders of the arches die on to octagonal tas-de-charge; the arches have been partly reconstructed. There is a set-off in the W. wall, which may indicate that the lower part is of earlier date than the 14th century.
The North Aisle (8 ft. wide) has a 14th-century E. window of two cinque-foiled ogee lights with a cusped spandrel in a two-centred head with moulded labels and rear-arch. In the N. wall are two windows, the eastern is of late 14th-century date, much restored, and of three cinque-foiled ogee lights with tracery in a square head with a moulded label; the western window is of the 15th century, much restored, and of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a segmental head with a moulded label; between the windows is the 14th-century N. doorway with jambs and two-centred arch of two orders, one moulded and one chamfered; the label is moulded.
The South Aisle (9 ft. wide) has an E. window similar to the E. window of the N. aisle, but with head-stops to the labels. In the S. wall is a window similar to the corresponding window in the N. aisle and also much restored; further W. is the 14th-century S. doorway, with jambs and two-centred arch of two moulded orders with a moulded label and head-stops. In the W. wall is a window all modern except the splays and moulded rear-arch.
The West Tower (12½ ft. square) is of mid 14th-century date and of four stages with an embattled parapet. The lower part has alternate courses of knapped flint and ragstone, and the buttresses have small crosses in knapped flint, with flowered ends. The two-centred tower-arch is of two chamfered orders, the inner dying on the responds. The W. doorway has moulded jambs, two-centred arch and label with head-stops. The N., S. and W. walls of the second stage have each a window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label and headstops. The N., S. and W. walls of the third stage have each a window of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label. The bell-chamber has in each wall a similar window. On the E. wall is the weathering of the former roof of the nave.
The South Porch is of red brick and of early 16th-century date. The outer archway has chamfered jambs and four-centred arch. The timber-framed gable is mostly modern, but incorporates parts of a moulded tie-beam. In the E. wall is a window of two four-centred lights in a four-centred head. In the W. wall is a window of one four-centred light.
The Roof of the porch is of early 16th-century date and has moulded tie-beams, wall-plates, plain collar-beams and restored central purlin.
Fittings—Bells: five, 2nd to 5th by Miles Grave, 1636. Brasses: In chancel—(1) to Margaret (Rande), wife of John Freake, rector, 1592, inscription only; (2) to Cecily, widow of Edmund Freake, bishop of Worcester, 1599, inscription only; (3) to John Freake, B.D., rector of Purleigh and archdeacon of Norwich, 1604, inscription only; Chest: In N. aisle—iron-bound, 17th-century. Communion Rails: with moulded rail and turned balusters, late 17th or early 18th-century. Door: In S. doorway—of nail-studded overlapping battens with strap-hinges and domed scutcheon-plate, 14th-century. Glass: In chancel—in E. window, fragments of border, etc.; in N. and S. windows, tabernacle-work, borders, etc., in situ, 14th-century. In N. aisle—in E. window, roundel and black and white foliage in spandrel, in situ, probably late 14th-century; in N. windows, tabernacle-work, crowns and fragments of border, late 14th-century, in situ. In S. aisle—in E. window, leopard's head (Plate, pp. xliv-v) and foliage, 14th-century; in S. window, tabernacle-work, late 14th-century. Locker: In chancel—in N. wall, rectangular recess, date uncertain. Monument and Floor-slab. Monument: in churchyard—S. side, to John Strange, 1688, brick table-tomb with three achievements-of-arms. Floor-slab: In chancel— now covered by seating, but said to be to Elizabeth Burton, 1624. Piscinae: In chancel— with moulded jambs and cinque-foiled head, partly restored, quatre-foiled drain, 14th-century. In S. aisle—in S. wall, with triangular head and broken drain, 15th-century. Pulpit: hexagonal, angles enriched with fruit and foliage, enriched panels to sides, carved and moulded cornice, staircase with turned and twisted balusters, tapering stem and moulded base, c. 1700. Recess: In chancel— in N. wall, with moulded segmental-pointed arch, 14th-century, label destroyed, probably tomb-recess. Sedilia: In chancel—in range with piscina, of three bays with moulded jambs and cinque-foiled heads, 14th-century, partly restored. Table: In tower—with turned legs and plain rails, 17th-century. Miscellanea: In chancel—in recess, small stone inscribed S.H. ob. Jan. 3, 1712–13 Ag. 48; on sill of N.E. window, carved and moulded stones, head-stop to label, 14th-century; stone with cheveron ornament, 12th-century; fragments of patterned tiles; loose quatrefoil of glass similar to that in N.E. window of N. aisle.
b(2). Moated Mound, 350 yards S.S.W. of the church, is flat-topped and about 250 ft. in diameter at the base. It is surrounded by a ditch with a strong rampart on the counter-scarp, except on the N. side. There are slight indications of two short lengths of rampart extending towards the N.
a(3). Homestead Moat at Wickham's Farm, about 2¼ m. W. of the church.
b(4). Barons, house, about 250 yards N. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably in the 17th century and has cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. Inside the building some of the ceiling-beams and joints are exposed.