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) Earthworks, Etc., Pre-historic and Later.
There are three 'camps,' at Asheldham, Danbury and Prittlewell respectively, all in a poor state of preservation. At Bradwell-juxta-Mare slight undulations in the ground near St. Peter's Chapel mark the site of the foundations of the N. and W. walls of the Roman Station.
The church at South Benfleet stands on the probable site of the camp built by Hasten, c. 894, and near the Artillery Barracks at South Shoebury are slight remains of a work which has been ascribed to the same period.
There are entrenchments near West Tilbury church consisting of a rampart and internal ditch, probably on the site of an earlier work, and at East Tilbury are earthworks apparently not of a defensive nature and locally known as "Soldiers' Graves."
A large moated mound of low elevation near Purleigh church is not shown on the Ordnance maps. Rayleigh Castle (Plan p. 123), probably built by Suene, the son of Robert Fitz Wimarc, is a good example of the mount and bailey type of earthwork, but the masonry of the castle has long since been removed. The ring and bailey at Orsett is shown on the O.S. maps as "the site of Bishop Bonner's Palace," and retains traces of foundations along the edge of the ' ring.' At Hadleigh the castle built by Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent in the reign of Henry III, was much altered and largely re-built by Edward III, and has practically no defensive earthworks.
About eighty homestead moats have been located. The best are at Mucking Hall (Barling), Moat House (Basildon), Bowers Hall (Bowers Gifford), Scotts' Hall (Canewdon), Barn Hall (Downham), Laindon Ponds (Laindon), Bacon's Farm (Mountnessing), Chichester Hall (Rawreth), Chitham's Farm (Ramsden Bellhouse), Butler's Farm (Shopland), the Hall (S. Ockendon), and a double moat at Edwin's Hall (Woodham Ferrers).
Unclassified earthworks include a large number of pits in Hangman's Wood, Little Thurrock. They are known locally as Dene-holes, and consist of shafts sunk to a depth of from 50 to 100 feet down to the chalk, and, in most cases, enlarged at the bottom into several chambers. Similar pits have been found near Bexley, in Kent, and elsewhere, and they are generally considered to be disused chalk mines. An ancient track on the Maplin Sands, known as the Broomway, is also of interest. Starting in Great Wakering parish it runs parallel to and about half a mile from the coast, past Havengore to a point on Foulness Island known as Fisherman's Head. Several branch roads leave the main track for points on the shore. The track is submerged for about twelve hours of the day. Other unclassified earthworks are Plumberow Mount (Hockley parish), opened in 1914 and assigned to the Romano-British period; two mounds and some banks in Norsey Wood (Great Burstead); a number of large mounds of irregular shape situated close to the River Crouch (opened and described as being connected with mediaeval salt workings) and some Red Hills, the latter being low mounds of burnt earth which are found generally along the line of the old high-water mark or at the sides of creeks.
(ii) Roman Remains.
South-east Essex contains one Roman monument of importance. The remains of the Roman fort (Plan p. 14) at Bradwell-juxta-Mare, destroyed by erosion on the seaward side and largely destroyed or buried on the landward, are yet sufficient to show that it may be included amongst the forts built on the southern and eastern coasts at various times between the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 5th centuries. All or most of the coins found in the fort during the excavations of 1864 fall within this period, and there is no sufficient evidence of any earlier settlement on the site. Whether we may go further and accept the specious identification of the fort with the Othona of the Notitia Dignitatum is less certain. The Saxon chapel which lies across the west wall is satisfactorily identified with Cedd's foundation at "Ythancaestir," stated by Beda (Hist. Eccl., III, Ch. XXII) to have been in the province of the East Angles and on the banks of the Pante—a name still retained for the upper reaches of the Blackwater. The derivation, however, of Ythan from Othona presents difficulties, and is not accepted by Mr. W. H. Stevenson. The variant "Othana" given by the Vienna MS. may be disregarded, and, in any case, does not solve the problem; but the evidence, both as to the Roman and the Saxon forms of the name, is too limited to form an adequate basis for conjecture. The difficulty is not reduced by the fact that Walton Castle, a fort of similar type, which stood until the eighteenth century on the shore near Felixstowe, has not been fitted into the list of the Notitia, and must at present remain a possible claimant to the name.
The other Roman remains in this region, though individually of little importance, have a definite historical value. Houses of Roman type are apparently absent, and the occurrence of Roman bricks, and possibly of Roman masonry in mediaeval structures, such as the parish church of South Benfleet or the destroyed Rayleigh Castle, may perhaps be attributed to the later plundering of the numerous 'villas' on or near the Kentish shore of the Thames. The population on the Essex side seems to have consisted of natives who were content with their traditional round huts of timber or turves, such as those which a happy chance has preserved in the Thames mud at East Tilbury. Similar huts have been preserved but ill-recorded on the Kentish flats; and it may be assumed that the potters whose kilns have been found at South Shoebury, Buttsbury and Great Burstead lived in dwellings of equally primitive and evanescent type. The area is rich in pottery of the latest pre-Roman period, and it is evident that the local craft survived the Roman conquest until the close of the first century, if not later. Its products—the so-called 'Upchurch' and other wares—retained native characteristics but showed increasing Roman influence, and the occurrence of a Romano-Celtic cordoned urn with pottery apparently of 3rd-century date in an oven recently found at Chadwell represents an exceptionally late survival of a distinctively native type.
The endurance of native traditions is further exemplified by the moundburial, apparently of early 2nd-century date, found many years ago in the parish of Foulness. This burial should probably be included with the betterknown series already referred to in Volumes I and III of the present Inventory. Incineration-burials of more normal type have been noted at West Tilbury, opposite Low Street Manor House in Mucking Marsh (Arch. Journ., XLII, 276–7; XXIX, 187), Great Burstead, Grays Thurrock, where Roman burials are said to have been found in a denehole (V.C.H., Essex, I, 309–11; cf. Illus. Lond. News, 1857, II, 267; Arch. Journ., XXVI, 192), and possibly at Canewdon; whilst inhumation burials have been discovered at South Shoebury in the immediate neighbourhood of Roman remains.
To what extent, if any, the dykes which drain and protect the marshes bordering upon the Thames may be ascribed to a period as early as that of the Roman occupation is quite uncertain. The submergence of the Bradwell fort and the East Tilbury huts, and analogous evidence elsewhere round the Essex coast, show that the land-level was higher there in Roman times; but it is not impossible that such settlements, with others in the neighbourhood of London (see Surrey Arch. Collections, XXVIII, p. 111) were to some extent protected by dykes similar to those which have yielded a Roman centurial stone on the flats of Monmouthshire.
Apart from the arterial road from London to Colchester (see Volume II), no road certainly of Roman origin has been identified in south-east Essex. The lack of any well-defined approach to Bradwell suggests that the fort may throughout its history have been supplied principally by sea; and in the remainder of this region absence of roads is the natural corollary of the absence of Roman structural remains.
(iii) Ecclesiastical and Secular Architecture.
The general characteristics of building in the S.E. district follow very closely the local Essex types, and there is little variation in the methods and material employed. In ecclesiastical work, proximity to the Thames Estuary and consequent freedom of communication with Kent and the Medway are reflected by the much freer use of Kentish ragstone, which is very largely employed for rubble-walling in place of the flint-work of the northern and central parts of the county. Reuse of Roman material is comparatively infrequent and very little septaria and pudding-stone is apparent. None of the brickwork is of earlier date than the 15th century, except for the unusual glazed bricks in Purleigh church. Secular building, when not of timber, is almost invariably of brick, except for some rubble-work used in the core of the walls of Rochford Hall, and the walls of certain dissolved religious houses such as Prittlewell and Thoby Priories, adapted as dwelling-houses.
The churches of S.E. Essex do not include any buildings of the first class, but though most of them are of small size they are by no means lacking in architectural interest. Chronologically all the mediaeval periods are sufficiently represented, but the examples of the 14th century are generally undistinguished.
In the chapel (Plate p. 17) of St. Peter-on-the-Wall (Bradwell-juxta-Mare), Essex possesses a pre-Conquest building of the highest interest. It may be identified, almost certainly, with the church built by St. Cedd at Ithancester c. 654, and the nave (Plate p. 16) of this date is still standing almost intact.
Part of the church of Great Stambridge may be definitely assigned to the late pre-Conquest period, and work of the same date is probably preserved in the churches at Corringham and Fobbing though the evidence is inconclusive.
Of late 11th and 12th-century churches the most complete are at Hadleigh (Plate p. 61), Rainham (Plate p. 115), Sutton and Chadwell. Good Romanesque detail survives at S. Ockendon (Plate p. 120), Sutton, S. Shoebury and E. Tilbury, and there is a good transitional doorway at Prittlewell Priory (Plate p. 121). The W. tower at Corringham (Plate p. 28) is an interesting late 11th-century structure, with blind arcading resembling that at Great Tey.
The proportion of 13th-century work is considerably larger in the S.E. than in the other parts of the county, but none of it is of marked distinction. The best examples occur at Stifford, Thundersley, Mountnessing, E. Tilbury and Horndon-on-the-Hill. There is a richly moulded S. doorway at Sutton (Plate p. 121) and the surviving arch (Plate p. 173) of Bicknacre Priory (Woodham Ferrers) is of this period.
Work of the 14th century is meagre in extent and comparatively poor in quality. The arcades (see Plates) at Danbury, Orsett, Purleigh and Stanford-leHope have fairly good detail, and Great Burstead and Rochford have window-tracery of some interest.
The 15th and early 16th centuries are best represented by a series of handsome W. towers (see Plates), of which those at Prittlewell, Hornchurch, Little Wakering, Canewdon and Barling are executed in stone, and those at Rochford, Downham, Sandon and Billericay in brick. Great Baddow, Sandon, E. Horndon and Burnham churches possess other good work of the period, the first three being mainly examples of brickwork.
Very little post-Reformation ecclesiastical work has survived, but parts of the towers of E. Horndon (Plate p. xxxviii) and W. Thurrock (Plate p. 167) and the porch at Great Baddow (Plate p. xxxviii) may be mentioned.
Turning to peculiarities of plan Hadleigh is the only church possessing an apse and S. Ockendon the only one with a round tower. The foundations of the round nave at W. Thurrock are no longer visible.
The belfries of Stock (Plate p. 156) W. Hanningfield, Ramsden Bellhouse (Plate pp. xxxviii–ix), Mundon and Bulphan are entirely of timber and the bell-turrets (Plate pp. xxxviii–ix) at Horndon-on-the-Hill, Mountnessing and Laindon rest on elaborate timber-construction within the walls of the nave. At Laindon there is also an interesting timber annexe (Plate pp. xxxviii–ix) at the W. end of the nave. At Nevendon there is structural evidence for an early nave of timber, subsequently replaced by the existing building.
The porches are mostly of timber, and of these the best are at S. Benfleet, Shopland, Stock, Mundon and Fobbing (see Plates). Stone or brick porches of interest exist at Southminster, Sandon, Rayleigh, Prittlewell and Great Wakering (Plate p. 60). The last named is W. of the tower and has a chamber above it. Stone or brick vaulting occurs only in the porches at Southminster (Plate p. 146) and Sandon, mentioned above.
The monastic houses of S.E. Essex were of little importance and have left only inconsiderable remains. Of two small Cluniac houses the Priory of Prittlewell retains parts of the Frater and western range, while at Stanesgate Priory (Steeple) the shell of the 12th and 14th-century nave of the church (Plate p. xxxiii) is still standing but threatens to fall in the near future. The Austin Canons possessed two small houses at Bicknacre (Woodham Ferrers) and Thoby (Mountnessing); the first is evidenced by one arch of the crossing only and the second by part of the S. wall of the church and some portions of the W. range (Plate p. 96). There are no remains, except the parish church, of the alien hospital or priory of Hornchurch.
The high proportion of pre-Reformation houses is maintained in S.E. Essex; the number scheduled is 75; but comparatively few are in any way remarkable, and only one (Bretts, Aveley) may possibly go back to the 14th century. The best examples of timber-framed building are Great Sir Hughes, Great Baddow (Plate p. 52); W. Hanningfield (9); Slough House, Danbury (Plate p. 32); and Upminster (4).
Of larger houses (see Plates) nearly all are built of brick. The remains of Rochford Hall, now partly ruinous, indicate a very extensive building of early 16th-century date. Belhus is a fairly large courtyard house of the same period. Creeksea Place, Little Warley Hall and Flemings, Runwell, are fragments of 16th-century houses of some distinction. Edwins Hall, Woodham Ferrers; Porters, Prittlewell (Plate p. 114); and Woodham Mortimer Hall are fair examples of the lesser houses of the 16th and 17th centuries. Of later work of the 17th century there are examples (see Plates) with features of interest at Fremnells, Downham; Ford Place, Stifford; and at Nelmes, Hornchurch. The Manor House, S. Shoebury, is a fair example of a dwelling of the period of Queen Anne. On Canvey Island are two early 17th-century octagonal houses (Plate pp. xl-i) of timber, built probably by the Dutch settlers.
Of military works there are extensive remains of the 14th-century curtain and towers of Hadleigh Castle (Plate pp. 64–5) and the late 17th-century gatehouse (Frontispiece) and other works at Tilbury Fort.
Bells.—Thirty-five bells are of pre-Reformation date. Of these six are of the 14th century, including one at Southchurch probably by Geoffrey of Edmonton, two at Rawreth by John of Hadham, and three (one at Bowers Gifford and two at Eastwood) by William Burford. There are also four bells of c. 1400 by Robert Burford.
Brasses (Plates pp. 25, etc.). — The district contains eight 14th-century brasses and of these the most interesting are the Flemish plate (Plate p. 160) to Ralph de Knevynton, 1370, at Aveley, and the fine but mutilated figure (Plate p. 56) at Bowers Gifford. Half-figures of two priests and a lady remain at Corringham, Stifford (Plate p. 160) and West Hanningfield respectively. There is also a mutilated armed figure (Plate p. 56) with remains of a canopy to Sir I. Bruyn, 1400, at South Ockendon, and a smaller armed figure of 1371 at Shopland.
Of later brasses the most important are the figures (Plate p. 78) with heraldic mantles and tabard at Ingrave (formerly at West Horndon). The earliest 16th-century brass at Althorne includes the figure of a nun in the group of daughters.
There are two interesting early 14th-century indents formerly with half-figures at Hornchurch and West Thurrock, and other indents of the same period at Stifford, Basildon, Southchurch, Corringham and elsewhere.
Ceilings and Plaster-work. — The finest plaster ceilings (Plates pp. 97, 153) in the district are those at Ford Place, Stifford, where one of the rooms has figures representing the four seasons, and at Orsett Hall. There is also an enriched ceiling at Beauchamps, Shopland, and the front of the same house has good pargeting dated 1688.
Chests (Plate p. xliii).—The chests of the district include a 13th-century example at Wennington and another early example of similar type at Eastwood. There are 'dug-out' chests at Great Burstead, Mountnessing and Rayleigh, and massive iron-bound chests at South Ockendon, Rainham and West Hanningfield. The poor-box at Runwell is cut in the solid.
Doors.—The most interesting door in the district is at Eastwood (Plate p. 45); it is elaborately enriched with ironwork of two distinct dates. A second door at Eastwood and another at Buttsbury have interesting ironwork of more ordinary character (Plate pp. 4–5). There are carved or traceried doors at Hornchurch and Prittlewell, and at Belhus, Aveley, is a richly carved early 16th-century screen with doors, not in situ and of foreign workmanship. The doors at Hatches Farm, Little Burstead, have fine carved panels of the same period.
Fireplaces (Plate p. 65).—The best stone fireplaces are at Orsett Hall; Porters, Prittlewell; South Ockendon (10); and Horndon-on-the-Hill (18); of these the first has. carved figures of Hope and Charity, the two next are of late 16th-century date and of semi-Gothic character; the fourth of somewhat coarse Renaissance design. There are wooden overmantels of interest at Belhus, Aveley; Stockwell Hall, Little Burstead; Horndon-on-the-Hill (18); Upminster (8); and Danbury (2), all of late 16th or 17th-century date.
Fonts (Plates pp. xlii-iii).—Of early fonts the best is the well-preserved round bowl with interlacing arcading at Eastwood; square 12th-century fonts with varied enrichment occur at Vange, East Horndon, Tillingham and Aveley, Of similar character, but of early 13th-century date, are the examples at Shopland, Laindon and North Benfleet. Fourteenth-century fonts with features of interest occur at Horndon-on-the-Hill and Bradwell-juxta-Mare, the latter carved with grotesque faces. The finest 15th-century font is at Althorne; it has a series of carved figures. There are other 15th or early 16th-century fonts of more ordinary type at Great Stambridge, Grays Thurrock, Mountnessing and Orsett.
Glass (Plates pp. xliv-v).—Ancient painted glass in the churches of south-east Essex is mainly represented by fragments of borders, quarries and tabernacle-work. At South Hanningfield (13th and 14th-century) and North Shoebury (both 14th-century) there are interesting examples of grisaille-foliage with borders in situ.
Of single figures, there are two complete, though restored, examples, probably SS. Helen and Mary Magdalene, at North Ockendon, under canopies. At Hornchurch there is a mutilated 15th-century Crucifixion and a tracery light with a figure of our Lord, both in grisaille.
Of subject panels there are some fine examples (16th and 17th-century) at Prittlewell, not native to the church but formerly part of the Neave Collection of old painted glass at Dagnam Park, Noak Hill.
Of heraldry there are a few good examples at Great Burstead, Woodham Ferrers and North Ockendon of the 14th century, and at Sandon and East Horndon of the 15th century, the last an especially good shield of the arms of Tyrrell impaling Marney. At Upminster is some interesting, though much mutilated, heraldry of the Lathom family.
Monuments.—There are no monuments of outstanding interest in the district except the three oak effigies (Plate p. 29) in armour at Danbury, all of the end of the 13th or the beginning of the 14th century. An interesting and unusual memorial is the wall-tablet with incised 14th-century inscription (Plate p. 48) at Fobbing. At East Horndon is a handsome incised slab (Plate p. 40) with figure and canopy, to Alice Tyrell, 1422. There is a fragment of a late 12th or early 13th-century carved head-stone or coffin-lid at North Shoebury, and a slab (Plate p. 25) with carved edges of late 12th-century date at Rettendon. Of late mediaeval monuments the only ones of interest are an altar-tomb at Hornchurch, the recessed and canopied tomb at Rayleigh, and an altar-tomb at Stanford-le-Hope, set in a 14th-century recess (Plate p. 105).
Most of the Renaissance monuments of interest date from early in the 17th century. They include tombs with recumbent figures (Plate p. 100) at North Ockendon, Little Warley, Orsett (Plate p. 105) and West Thurrock (Plate p. 172), and wall-monuments with kneeling figures at Woodham Ferrers (Plate p. 105), North Ockendon, South Ockendon and Hornchurch. At North Ockendon is a curious series erected by Gabriel Pointz to the memory of his ancestors, and the monument (Plate p. 141) at South Ockendon represents a Lord Mayor of London in robes of office. The monument (Plate p. 85) at Little Warley has a superstructure in the form of the draped canopy of a bed.
Paintings.—Ecclesiastical paintings on plaster are uncommon and mostly very badly preserved. There are remains of a 'Doom' at Woodham Ferrers, various subjects in panels at East Hanningfield (Plate p. 104), a figure of St. Thomas of Canterbury at Hadleigh, and a Nativity at Little Wakering. Domestic painted decoration is represented by the elaborate 17th-century scheme at West Hanningfield (2) and remains of a figure-subject at Belhus, Aveley.
Piscinae (Plate p. xlv).—There are 12th-century pillar-piscinae at Sandon and Aveley, the former elaborately enriched. Of 13th-century piscinae examples are to be found at West Thurrock, Rettendon, Woodham Ferrers, etc. None of the later piscinae are particularly noteworthy, but there are 14th-century examples at Little Thurrock and Purleigh.
Plate (Plate p. xliv).—The stem of the cup at Mundon may be of pre-Reformation date, but the cup itself is of the 17th century. The district contains an unusually large number of Elizabethan cups, 39 in all; of these one is of 1561, eight of 1562, four of 1563, and six of 1564. None of the later plate is of great interest, but there is a good flagon of 1665 at Stifford.
Pulpits.—The only pre-Reformation pulpit is at Sandon (Plate p. 79), but there are good late 16th or early 17th-century examples (Plate p. 4) at Great Baddow, North Ockendon, Wennington, East Tilbury and Aveley; the first of these is richly ornamented and retains its sounding board. There is a late 17th-century pulpit with carved cherub-heads, etc., at Canewdon, and one of slightly later date at Purleigh.
Screens (Plate pp. 4–5).—Mediaeval screen-work is uncommon in the district; there is, however, an interesting 14th-century screen at Corringham, with turned shafts, and 14th or 15th-century examples at Bulphan and Stanford-leHope.
Sedilia.—Sedilia, generally ranging with a piscina, occur at Tillingham, Rettendon (Plate p. xlv), Stanford-le-Hope, Orsett and Little Thurrock (Plate p. xlv); the first two are of the 13th and the remainder of the 14th century.
Staircases.—The finest staircase in the district is the handsome late 17th-century example at Nelmes, Hornchurch (Plate p. 71); the pierced carving is disposed in raking panels between the string and the rail. Seventeenth-century staircases of minor interest occur at Little Warley Hall, Eastwood (8), etc.
Miscellanea.—There are wrought iron hour-glass stands at South Ockendon, Wennington (Plate p. 104) and Stifford. At Great Burstead is a late 17th-century reredos (Plate p. 53) said to have been brought from a London church. Portions of two carved alabaster 'tables' are preserved at Barling (Plate p. 25).
Mediaeval Churches, etc.—Of the hundred churches included in the Inventory, fourteen have been entirely re-built, and two others except for small portions of old walling which have been incorporated in the new work; four others have been entirely re-built except for the tower; of the remaining eighty, three retain little old work beyond the tower, and the majority have been restored and in some cases partly re-built. Five are in fairly good condition, five poor and five bad. The church at East Hanningfield (Plate p. 33) is now a ruin, Hazeleigh, owing to its ruinous state, has been pulled down, and Laindon Hills is now only used occasionally and through neglect is rapidly becoming ruinous (Plate p. xxxiii). There are bad cracks in the tower at East Horndon, and Ashingdon is in a serious state through the shifting subsoil. The tower at Downham is badly cracked, and with those at South Shoebury and Stifford is threatened by the growth of ivy. With these exceptions the growth of ivy on the walls is only serious at Mucking.
About seven per cent, of the secular buildings are in poor or bad condition; most of them, however, are small cottages. Great Sir Hughes, Great Baddow, is in a badly neglected state and Rochford Hall in a poor condition and partly in ruins. The more important houses, however, are generally in a good state of preservation, but, among others, Belhus, Aveley, has suffered in the hands of restorers. Hadleigh Castle is in ruins and the existing work is in some danger owing to the unstable condition of the subsoil.
The earthworks generally, including the camps at Asheldham, Danbury and Prittlewell, have suffered under the plough and are in a poor state of preservation; the site of the camp at South Shoebury has been largely built over by barracks. A notable exception is Rayleigh Castle, an exceptionally good and well-preserved example of the mount and bailey type.