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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22. DOWNHAM. (D.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)lx. S.E. (b)lxi. S.W. (c)lxix. N.W.)
Downham is a parish, about 3½ m. E. of Billericay. The principal monument is Fremnells.
c(1). Parish Church of St. Margaret stands about the middle of the parish. The W. tower is of red brick. The church has been entirely re-built except the West Tower which is of late 15th or early 16th-century date; the chancel and nave incorporate some re-used material.
Architectural Description—The Chancel has re-set in the S. wall an early 14th-century window of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label and modern stops; it has been partly restored.
The Nave has re-set in the N. wall two windows, the eastern of late 14th-century date, partly restored and of one cinque-foiled light in a square head with a moulded label and jambs; the western window is similar to that in the S. wall of the chancel but with old head-stops; the 13th-century N. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch of two chamfered orders, partly restored. The 14th-century S. doorway is partly restored and has double chamfered jambs and two-centred arch with a moulded label and head-stops.
The West Tower (10½ ft. by 11 ft.) is of late 15th or early 16th-century date and of red brick with black brick diapering (Plate, p. xxxviii); it is of three stages with a restored embattled parapet and S.E. stair-turret. The two-centred tower-arch is mostly covered with modern plaster but the two chamfered orders on the E. are of stone and probably 13th or 14th-century material re-used. The W. window has been completely restored; the W. doorway has chamfered jambs and four-centred arch, the latter mostly restored. The second stage has in the N., (S. ?) and W. walls a single-light opening. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two four-centred lights in a four-centred head.
The modern timber-framed S. Porch incorporates some old timbers.
Fittings—Bells: four; 2nd by John Clarke, 1621; 4th by Miles Graye, 1677. Brasses: In chancel—on N. wall, (1) to "good" Sir Henrie Terrell and Thomassin his wife, 1588, inscription only; (2) to Joyce (Baker), wife of John Tyrrell, 1594, inscription only. In nave—on N. wall, (3) to Thomas Tyrell, 14th-century, inscription only, in French; (4) to Alice, wife of Thomas Tyrell, 14th-century, inscription also in French, with shield-of-arms, checky for Adeleigh. Chest: In vestry—with plain panelled front, made up of 17th or 18th-century panelling. Communion Table: In vestry—with heavy turned legs, fluted top rails with carved brackets, 17th-century, modern rails, etc. Door: In turret-staircase to tower—of nail-studded battens, early 16th-century. Glass: In nave—in N.E. window, various fragments including several crowns four in a border, pieces of tabernacle work and foliage, mostly 14th-century; fragment of black-letter inscription, 15th-century. Monument and Floor-slabs. Monument: In W. tower— to Sarah (Norden), wife of Benjamin Disbrowe, 1692, and to Benjamin Disbrowe, 1707–8, altar-tomb, stone sides carved with emblems of mortality and two achievements-of-arms, black marble slab with inscription and shield-of-arms. Floor-slabs: In tower—(1) to Sir Thomas Raymond, 1683, with achievement-of-arms; (2) to Rebekah, wife of Francis Platt, 1703, and to Francis Platt, 1714; (3) to Sir William Andrew, 1684. Plate: includes a small cup and cover-paten of 1562, both with modern lining. Scratchings: On jambs of S. doorway, various scratchings, including a cross low down on the E. jamb, letters, etc., various dates. Stoup: In S. porch—with depressed elliptical head and restored basin, probably early 16th-century.
Condition—Of W. tower, bad cracks in E. wall and much ivy.
c(2). Homestead Moat (Plate, p. xxxvii), at Barn Hall, ¾ m. S.E. of the parish church.
a(3). Fremnells, house (Plate, pp. 56–7), outhouse and moat, about 1¼ m. N.N.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are partly of plastered timber-framing and partly of brick; the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1670 on an H-shaped plan with the cross-wings on the N. and S. and has modern additions on the E. The house is an interesting example of its period.
On the W. front the cross-wings are gabled and there is a similar gable rising above a central projecting bay. At the first-floor level is a heavy moulded cornice. but a cornice at the attic level has been cut off flush with the general face. Above it, connecting the gables, is a plain panelled parapet and there are similar panels between the windows. The windows have solid moulded frames, transoms and mullions; most of these are original but a few have been renewed. There are three original chimney-stacks, two plain but the third has three diagonal shafts. Inside the building the main hall is panelled with late 16th-century panelling and in one of the rooms in the N. wing are some panels of the same date. A room in the S. wing is lined with linen-fold panelling.
In front of the house is a garden enclosure within a brick wall entered between two brick pillars with ball finials (Plate, p. 64). In each pillar is a sunk panel, one with initials TRA &c., the other with the date 1676.
An Outhouse to the E. is timber-framed, of two storeys and tiled. It contains heavy beams and is probably of 17th-century date.
The Moat is imperfect.
Condition—Of house, good.
Monuments (4 and 5).
The following monuments are of the 17th century, of two storeys, timber-framed and weather-boarded, and have tiled roofs. They have original chimneystacks and exposed ceiling-beams.
b(4). Cottage, at road-fork, ½ m. N. of the church, was built on a T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the W. end. The central chimney-stack has three diagonal shafts.
(5) Castledon, house, now tenements, nearly 1 m. S. by E. of the church.
Condition—Poor (now demolished.)