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.)
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.
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.
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.