An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.
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(O.S. 6 in. (a)ix. S.W. (b)ix. S.E.)
a(1.) The Parish Church (dedication unknown) stands on high ground about 1/8 mile S.W. of the village, a little below the crest of the hill. It is of cruciform plan, built of flint rubble with clunch and Barnack-stone dressings, and is roofed with lead. The earliest parts are the central tower and about two-thirds of the nave, which belonged to a church of late 12th-century date. The present Chancel and the North and South Transepts were built outside the original chancel and transepts late in the 13th and early in the 14th century, when a North Vestry was also built, which has since been destroyed. A little later the Nave was increased to its present length, and the arcades and aisles were added. In the 15th century the aisle walls were heightened, new windows inserted, and the top stage of the tower was added. At the end of the 15th century, the South Porch was built. The church, except the N. aisle, was completely re-roofed and generally repaired in the 19th century, but without structural alteration.
The 14th-century design and detail of this church are exceptionally interesting. The carved stalls, of early 14th-century date, are unusually early examples of woodwork.
Architectural Description—In the Chancel (37 ft. by 18 ft.) a modern E. window, of 15th-century style, replaces the original window, of which only the shafted internal jambs remain. On the N. and S. are six original traceried windows of two lights; the three on the N. have high external sills to clear the roof of the destroyed vestry; the sill of the S.W. window is carried down low. The windows are linked together by a moulded string-course and have shafted jambs and moulded labels. On the N. is a splayed doorway to the vestry, and on the S. an external doorway, both original. At the S.W. and N.W. are squints from the transepts. The Central Tower (13 ft. square) is of three stages, with embattled parapet and small slated needle-spire. It is carried on four semi-circular arches; those on the N. and S. are plain, those on the E. and W. have a heavy ringed roll moulding and shafted jambs with simple capitals. In the second stage are small pointed doorways on the N. and S., originally opening into rooms over the N. and S. transepts; the 15th-century windows of the bell-chamber are of two lights with tracery. Over the arch to the E. are traces of the high-pitched 12th-century roof, and signs of the high-pitched 14th-century roof are visible externally on all four sides of the tower. The North Transept (19½ ft. by 18 ft.) has a late 15th-century window on the N., over the remains of an original doorway. On the W. is an original window of three lights, partly blocked, with the rear arch altered, and a 15th-century moulded arch opening into the aisle. The South Transept (19½ ft. by 18 ft.) has restored triple lancet windows on the E. and S., a modern double lancet over that on the S., and a single original pointed light on the W. There is a 15th-century arch to the aisle, and on the S.W. is a circular turret lighted by a cross loop, with stairs to a room once over the transept; its floor level, like that of a similar room once over the N. transept, is clearly marked. The Nave (46½ ft. by 13 ft.) is of four bays, with moulded drop arches on columns of four clustered shafts having plainly moulded capitals and bases. There are three quatrefoil openings in the clearstorey on each side, of the same date as the arcades. The W. window is of the 14th century, but has 15th-century tracery; the W. doorway, a rather wide opening, is also original, with moulded jambs and head. The North Aisle (9 ft. wide) has two 15th-century windows of two lights on the N., and one on the W.; the original 14th-century N. doorway is now blocked. The South Aisle (10 ft. wide) has the same arrangement of windows, but the S. doorway is of late 15th-century date. The South Porch has E. and W. windows of two lights, and walls ornamented with cusped panelling inside; the parapet is embattled, and the four-centred entrance arch is moulded and shafted. The Roof of the N. aisle is of the 15th century, with moulded principals, etc., and the ceiling of the ground stage of the tower is also of the 15th century, with moulded beams and wall-plates.
Fittings—Bells: six; 1st 1700, 4th 1616, 5th 1616, 6th probably 16th-century. Bracket for image: in the S. transept, on N.E., small, 15th-century. Brass Indent: in the N. transept, large cross and marginal inscription, probably early 15th-century. Chests: two; one iron bound, once covered with skin, probably mediæval; the other, plain, possibly 13th-century. Communion Table: in the N. transept, early 17th-century. Font: square with rounded corners, ornamented with curious figures of two-tailed mermen or figures holding up cloths, late 12th-century. Glass: in W. window of aisle, fragments, white and gold, 15th-century. Monuments: in S. transept on E. side, tomb, with traceried canopy, much defaced, and an effigy of a civilian in a long robe, early 14th-century: in N. aisle, to Ralph Jermin, 1646, small, mural: in chancel floor, to Benedict Beaucock, 1635. Niche: in N. wall of chancel at E. end, outside; trefoiled, original. Piscinae: in the chancel, large, with double drain and stone shelf, 14th-century: in N. transept, on S.E., small, 14th-century. Screen: in N. transept, modern, incorporating remains of 15th-century screen. Sedilia: in the chancel, designed to range with piscina and windows; first two seats formed by internal sill of window carried low, with jamb shafting, etc.; third seat formed by niche in wall. Stalls: twelve, ends plain, except one moulded and crocketted, early 14th-century; seven carved misericords of foliate and grotesque design, at least three original, and two of the 17th century; the stall fronts, with rusticated arcade in low relief, 17th-century. Miscellanea: at the Rectory, a purple velvet altar frontal, embroidered, with date 1637, and an early glass bottle, containing traces of human blood (possibly a reliquary), dug up near the chancel.
Lych-gate, in the churchyard, mediæval, of timber, in three bays; one bay has been made into a "lock-up," with red-brick walls.
Condition—Fairly good, but needs minor repairs: has been little restored; no structural weaknesses are visible.
a(2). Anstey Castle (see illustration), in the grounds of Anstey Hall, N. of the Parish Church, stands about 400 ft. above O.D., at the end of a spur of land projecting to the S.W. from the watershed of the rivers Stort and Quin.
This earthwork is a particularly fine example of the mount and bailey type.
Detailed Description—The Keep mount, which shows no trace of masonry, is a large flat-topped mount standing over 35 ft. above the bottom of its ditch, and covering at its summit nearly ¼ acre. It is surrounded by a wet ditch, from which branches a slighter ditch, also wet, embracing a large bailey on the N.E. The Bailey covers about an acre, and is divided into two enclosures by a scarp, the N.W. portion being 3 ft. above the rest. There are traces of a light bank round the N.W. end of the bailey, and remains of a rampart on the counter-scarp of the ditch to the N. On the S.E. face the defences have been partly obliterated by the present road and buildings. Other enclosures: there are remains of a slight enclosure to the N.W. of Keep mount. The Barbican mount stands at the S.E. junction of the E. mount and bailey. It is small, flat-topped and surrounded by a ditch. Other mounts: there is trace of another small mount close by, on the S.W. of the Barbican mount. Entrances: the position is not certain. There is an indication of a hollow road to the S.W. of the church.
Dimensions—Greatest length through mount and bailey, S.W. to N.E., 550 ft. Greatest width (excluding slight outwork), N.W. to S.E., 480 ft.
a(3). At Pain's End, ¼ mile N. of the church, a wet ditch. Roughly parallel to the S. face, at a distance of 60 ft., are traces of a dry ditch not recorded on the O.S.
b(4). Half a mile E. of the church, encloses the Rectory.
a(5). N. of Biggin Bridge, encloses house and garden of Biggin Farm.
b(6). Tumulus, moated, at Hales Farm.