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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I can do little more than repeat the words used by our late Chairman, Lord Plymouth, in explanation of 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 archaeological terms; a map showing the topographical distribution of the scheduled monuments, and an index.
The foregoing are common to the earlier volumes. But, in addition, and in view of the fact that this is the concluding volume of the Essex series, we have thought it of interest to add a short review of the monuments of the county as a whole, together with an estimate of their relative position and value viewed from the wider standpoint of English archaeology. With this is combined a slight sketch of certain influences immediately affecting the county during the Roman and Saxon and Danish periods and a statement of the main lines upon which the Commission's system of dating mediaeval monuments is based. Further, at the end of the Inventory is given a list of those families whose arms, if anterior to 1550, are blazoned in this and in the preceding Essex volumes, while two pages of illustrations are devoted to some examples of mouldings grouped by centuries which were measured in the course of our enquiries, and another page gives examples of mason's marks drawn from Essex Churches. Lastly, the index is a combined index and covers all four volumes.
So far as the monuments in S.E. Essex are concerned they will be found, as before, under the heads of parishes arranged alphabetically, with an introductory paragraph calling attention to the more noticeable among them in each 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) Pre-historic 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.
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 standardization of the spelling of proper names in the Commission's inventories has always presented considerable difficulties and almost any system is open to criticism. It is well known that during the period covered by our terms of reference, and indeed to a much later date, the art of spelling was in a very fluid state, proper names especially being subject to a wide variation, dictated partly by their phonetic values and partly by individual caprice. In the absence, therefore, of any final court of appeal, it has been thought best to abide, in the matter of place-names, by the spelling adopted by the Ordnance Survey, without prejudice as to its accuracy. In the matter of personal names, in treating of individual funeral monuments, etc., the actual spelling of the memorial has been reproduced, while in the rest of the text the normal spelling of the name has been adopted.
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 both for their educational and for 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 county 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.
It may also be well again to draw attention to the fact that our Record Cards may be consulted by any properly accredited persons who give notice of their 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, V.P.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. M. R. James; the description of brasses by Mr. Mill Stephenson, F.S.A.; the spelling of names and descriptions of costumes by Mr. 0. Barron, F.S.A.; and the accounts of Roman monuments by Dr. R. E. Mortimer Wheeler, F.S.A. (Keeper of the Department of Archaeology in 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 yet been restored to its pre-war strength.
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 will be only temporary.
CRAWFORD AND BALCARRES.
7th May, 1923.