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)v. S.W. (b)v. S.E.)
a(1). Parish Church of St. Margaret, at the S.E. end of the village, is built of flint rubble with stone dressings. In the walls of the tower the flints are uncut and mixed with water-worn pebbles, both, in patches, being set in a herringbone pattern. The lower stages of the West Tower are of early 12th-century date. The Nave has been enlarged and there is nothing to show its original date; the earliest detail is of the 13th century. A South Aisle was added at the end of the 13th century and was widened c. 1340. In the 15th century a new bell-chamber was added to the tower, and in the 16th century windows were inserted in the S. aisle, its walls being raised and embattled. From photographs in the possession of the rector, it appears probable that the former chancel, if not re-built, was much altered in the 15th century, but in 1872 it was destroyed and re-built a bay further E., the nave was made a bay longer and a little wider, the S. aisle was also lengthened to the E., a N. aisle and porch were built, and a small spire was added to the tower.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (34½ ft. by 21 ft.) was built in 1872. The Nave (now 48 ft. by 20 ft., originally 38 ft. by 18 ft.) is modern on the E. and N., but on the S. has an arcade of four bays, of which the first is also modern, but the others are of late 13th-century date; the arches are of two orders with octagonal columns and plainly moulded bell capitals. The North Aisle (9½ ft. wide) was built in 1872. The South Aisle (15 ft. wide) has two restored windows of early 16th-century date in the S. wall, and, between them, a window of slightly later date, and a blocked doorway of c. 1340, of two wave-moulded orders. In the W. wall is a window, also of c. 1340, with flowing tracery. The West Tower is of three stages with an embattled parapet and a small modern spire of wood. The semi-circular tower arch of one square order is original. On the S. is a 14th-century doorway opening into the aisle, with a pointed chamfered head, and above it is a small widely splayed round-headed window of early 12th-century date, without a rebate. In the second stage are the original bell-chamber windows, much restored. The present bell-chamber lights, with tracery, are of the 15th century. The Roofs are modern.
Fittings—Brasses: in the nave, of Andrew Willet, 1621, with inscription: in the organ chamber, part of palimpsest plate with 16th-century inscription on one side and part of a 15th-century inscription on the other. Chest: in S. aisle, large, iron bound, mediæval. Glass: in a window of S. aisle, some figures, and the date 1536: in W. window of tower and E. window of N. aisle, fragments, late 14th-century. Piscina: in S. aisle, on the S.E., mutilated, 15th-century. Plate: includes a chased, covered cup of 1612 and a small salver of 1618. Pulpit: richly carved oak, dated 1626. Screen: some tracery from 15th-century oak screen incorporated in the modern chancel stalls.
Condition—Good; largely re-built.
b(2). Homestead Moat, at Abbotsbury, consists of two deep ditches with traces of a connecting arm. There are remains of an entrenchment on a slight slope S. of the moat.
a(3). The Town House, formerly The Guildhall, N. of the church, was built early in the 16th century, of timber and plaster, with an overhanging upper storey. The roof is tiled and ridged from end to end. The original plan was rectangular, but late in the 17th century a N. wing was added, making the building L-shaped; the straight-run stairs, with solid steps, are in a small wing at the S.E. corner. The ground floor is divided into several small rooms, once used as almshouses. The upper floor remains an open hall, and has a trussed roof with plain timbers and curved ogee struts and braces, ceiled over the collar beams with plaster: it is lighted by modern windows, carried up to the roof as dormers.
Condition—Good, very much restored.
a(4). Cottages, in the village, several small buildings of the 17th century or perhaps earlier. Most of them are plastered, and have overhanging upper storeys and thatched roofs.
a(5). The Fox and Hounds Inn, about ¼ mile N.W. of the church, built early in the 17th century, is of timber and plaster, with an overhanging upper storey; the roof is thatched. The sign of the inn is in the form of painted silhouettes of huntsmen, fox, and hounds in full cry, on a beam which spans the road. The plan is of the L type; the shorter wing faces the street and contains an entrance passage with a bar-parlour on one side and a parlour on the other. The kitchen and offices occupy the longer wing, and the fireplaces of kitchen and parlour stand back to back: the enclosed staircase is built in the width of the chimney stack. The interior has been much altered; a few plainly moulded 17th-century beams remain, but the wide fireplaces have been filled in. A small cellar under the kitchen is said to have communicated with the attics, now destroyed, as the ceiling of the first floor has been raised. This may have been used as a hiding place: the house is traditionally connected with "Dick Turpin," the highwayman.
a(6). The Cage, at Crosshill, by the side of the main road, about 250 yards W. of the church, is a small wooden hut, possibly of late 17th-century date, now used as a tool house by the road makers employed by the County Council. It is built of upright timbers a few inches apart, the spaces being filled with boarding; the timbers of the door, which is of similar construction, were probably originally open. The pyramidal roof is covered with slates. The hut is said to have contained, until about 18 years ago, a central pillar of iron, with chains, etc., attached to it.
Condition—The timbers are well preserved.
b(7). The Big House, in the hamlet of Shaftenhoe End, ½ mile S.E. of the church, originally the Manor House of the Burnels, now a farmhouse, was built c. 1624, and is of two storeys and an attic; the walls are timber-framed, covered with lath and plaster, on brick foundations; the roofs are tiled. The plan is F-shaped, the wings being on the S.; the smaller wing contains the staircase, and has an over hanging gable, supported on a pair of carved figures, half beast, half human, blowing trumpets. On the beam between these brackets is carved the inscription: "W.L. 1624. So God may still me blesse, I care the lesse, Let envy say her worst, and after burst." At the W. end of the main block the roof is hipped; the S. end of the larger wing is gabled, and has a brick chimney stack with two square shafts set diagonally; the other stack, over the main block, also has square shafts. The entrance is on the E. front; all the doors and window frames are modern. The hall, now divided into two rooms and a passage, occupies the greater part of the main block; in it is a large fireplace with a carved wood lintel and mantel board with brackets, and some original oak panelling. The ceiling joists of both floors are moulded, and in one of the attic windows is an old iron fastening.
Condition—Fairly good, but the attic floors are unsafe for use.
b(8). Cottages, in the hamlet of Shaftenhoe, built early in the 17th century, are timber-framed and plastered. One cottage has a wood lintel above a mullioned window, carved with key ornament in low relief, and a thatched roof.
b(9). The Manor House of Mincinbury (now a farmhouse), and Barn, 1¼ miles S.E. of the church. The house has been entirely remodelled, but a lofty, mediæval barn (82½ ft. by 33 ft.) remains; it is timber-framed, on brick foundation walls, with heavy queen-post trusses of oak reaching to the gabled roof: the exterior has been renewed.