An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.
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21. BISHOP'S STORTFORD
a(1). Parish Church of St. Michael, on rising ground S. of the High Street, has embattled walls, built chiefly of flint with stone dressings. It is entirely of early 15th-century date, but is probably on the site of an older church. The West Tower is the latest part of the church, set out beyond the W. end of the Nave, and then joined to it by an extra bay. In the churchwardens' accounts there is an item for covering the walls of the W. end of the nave and tower with straw and lead in 1431, and another in the same year for levelling the floor of the church next to the tower, showing probably that the two parts were connected during that year. In the 19th century the upper part of the tower was re-built, the North Chancel Aisle and South Vestry were added, the chancel arch reconstructed, the Organ Chamber and chancel clearstorey erected, and the whole building much restored.
This church is interesting on account of its unusual size and the good detail of the interior. It contains noticeable examples of 15th-century carving, such as the quire-stalls, with carved misericords; the stone corbels of the roof, representing the Apostles and various mediæval craftsmen; the label-stops of the arcades, and the label-stops and spandrels of the N. doorway.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (43 ft. by 22 ft.) has a modern five-light E. window and a three-light S. window with original inner jambs and restored tracery. In the North Chancel Aisle (43 ft. by 14 ft.) the E. and S.E. windows have 15th-century inner jambs of clunch, probably re-used material from the windows displaced by the chapel. The Nave (85 ft. by 20½ ft.) has arcades of six bays with piers of clustered semi-octagonal shafts and moulded arches, the labels terminating in carved stops; the westernmost piers are wider than the others and have vertical joints from base to capital, showing that each pier is the work of two different periods: the inner jambs of the two-light clearstorey windows are original. The North Aisle (15 ft. wide) has five N. windows and one W. window, each of three lights with original inner jambs and modern tracery; the N. doorway, also original, has moulded jambs and a pointed arch in a square head; the two spandrels outside are carved in low relief, and may represent a "Doom"; in one is the figure of a woman with a great eye looking down on her, and in the other an angel holding a trumpet and censer; the moulded labels, inside and out, have stops carved with the symbols of the Evangelists. The doorways of the rood-stair turret remain at the E. end of the aisle, but the stairs have been destroyed. The South Aisle (14 ft. wide) has S. and W. windows similar to those in the N. aisle; the S. doorway is pointed and moulded. The Tower (17 ft. by 16 ft.) is of four stages, with an octagonal leaded spire; a lofty moulded archway opens from the nave; the original stair-turret in the N.W. angle is no longer used, as a modern turret has been built in the N.E. corner; all the stonework is modern, except the W. doorway and the loops and doorway of the old turret. The North and South Porches have original windows, restored outside. The Roof of the chancel is dated 1668, but this may refer to repairs, as the traceried trusses are characteristic of the 15th century: the nave roof is coeval with its walls, and rests on stone corbels carved with figures of the Apostles, and angels with shields; the trusses are traceried, with a double rose or a painted shield attached to the soffits of the tie beams. The roofs of the aisles resemble that of the nave, and the stone corbels are carved with human or grotesque figures, representing among others: a gardener with pruning knife and branch, a cook with bone and ladle, a woodman with bill hook and bough, a man-at-arms (?) with halberd, a washerman (?) with a bat, a yeoman, an apish creature with broom and knife or staff, a man with ragged staff, and another with short sword and buckler.
Fittings—Bells: ten, the oldest 1713. Brasses: in the chancel, to Thomas, infant son of Richard Edgcomb and Mary his wife; 1614, inscription on two brasses: to Charles Denny, 1635, inscription on two brasses. Chest: in vestry, with false lock and two padlocks; the real lock taking up the whole of the underside of the lid and having fourteen bolts; early 17th-century. Doors: in N. and S. entrances, original, oak, repaired. Font: Purbeck marble bowl, with shallow panelled sides, late 12th-century. Monuments: in the chancel, to the children of Edward Maplesden, 1684: to Mrs Cordelia Denny, 1698. Piscinae: in the chancel, trefoiled head, 15th-century, with modern sill: in the S. aisle, with pointed arch, and a round bowl, damaged, also 15th-century. Plate: includes silver cup of 1683. Pulpit: oak, hexagonal, with panelled sides, on a central pillar with carved brackets, early 17th-century. Screen: greater part of 15th-century rood-screen remains, with open tracery in the head, and closed traceried panels below the middle rail. Stalls: in the chancel, eighteen quire-stalls, with carved misericords representing human heads, animals, etc.; the backs are traceried, the desks in front are panelled, and have standards with poppy heads; 15th-century. Stoup: in the porch, damaged. Miscellanea: in the wall, near the stoup, piece of clunch, carved roughly in shape of a horse's hoof.
The Keep Mount, large and oval, is 40 ft. high, and covers, at the summit, about 1/5 acre. Of the former Shell Keep, which is probably of the 12th century, little more than the flint rubble foundations remain, enclosing a roughly rectangular space about 90 ft. by 40 ft. In the N.E. and S.E. angles are the remains of chambers; that on the S.E. has a gap in the wall. The Bailey, much altered, forms a roughly pentagonal enclosure to the S. of the mount. The surrounding ditches have been altered into narrow water channels, except the part between the mount and bailey. The entrance was probably on the S. from the causeway across the marsh.
Condition—Of mount good; of keep, ruinous; the bailey is nearly levelled. The site has been acquired by the Urban District Council, and the earthworks and remains of the shell keep are to be carefully repaired and protected.
a(5). St. Joseph's, formerly Wind Hill House, W. of the church, is an early 17th-century building of two storeys and attics encased in 18th-century brick walls, much altered and restored in the 19th century. The plan is L-shaped, with the wings projecting to the N. and W. Inside the house, at the junction of the wings, is an original heavy oak staircase rising to the second floor, with moulded handrail, open carved balustrade, and panelled and moulded newels, of which one (at the top) retains its original square moulded head; the others have modern deal heads. The small entrance hall E. of the staircase is part of the original large hall, and in it are the remains of an ornamented plastered ceiling.
a(6). The Chantry, in Hadham Road, is a two-storeyed house of plastered timber, built late in the 16th century; the roof is tiled. The plan is L-shaped, with modern additions to the short wing, in which is the main entrance; a wide archway pierced in the long wing leads to it. The interior has been re-modelled, but in the entrance hall are some moulded beams of late 16th or early 17th-century date, with running designs in plaster, and a fragment of coloured plaster work, recently discovered. In the garden the remains of a 15th-century stone window, of six cinque-foiled lights arranged in pairs under square heads, may indicate that there was an earlier building on the site.
a(7). The White Horse Inn is a 17th-century house, of two storeys, built of brick and plastered timber. The plan is of the L type. On the front the lower storey is of plain brick; the overhanging upper storey, with its flanking gables, is plastered and decorated with square and diamond-shaped panels, containing designs in low relief of a crowned foliate cross, a lion rampant, a two-headed eagle, etc.
a(10). The Boar's Head Inn, opposite the church, was built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century, of timber and plaster, but much altered in the 18th and 19th centuries. The original plan is obscured. The main block is gabled on the street front, and the projecting wings, with overhanging upper storeys, are also gabled. In the re-entering angles are quartercircle bay windows, added in the 18th century. On the gable of the W. wing are the remains of an original cusped barge board. Nearly all the earlier windows have been replaced by sashes, but a few old metal casements remain. In the stables are a moulded beam and a defaced carved boss of the 15th century. These are not in situ, but appear to have been inserted to repair the ceiling.
a(11). House, now divided into two dwellings (Nos. 10 and 12), N.E. of the church, is a three-storeyed timber and plaster building, of c. 1600; the roofs are tiled. The street front has two gables and both the upper storeys project; under the second floor are carved wooden brackets. On the first floor are two oriel windows, and all the windows have wooden frames and mullions. The interior is modern.
a(13). The Grapes Inn, a house of late 16th-century date, built of timber and plaster, retains an original angle bracket, now concealed behind a square corner. Inside, behind a cupboard, is a four-centred doorway.
a(16). The Black Lion Inn is a timber and plaster house of two storeys and an attic, built on a rectangular plan, probably early in the 16th century. On the N. front the upper storey projects, and has a moulded sill enriched with twisted ornament and carried on carved brackets; the attic storey also projects; it has a canted sill with pendants at the ends, and two gables with plain barge boards, and iron scroll finials and oak pendants at the apices. On the upper floor is a row of small lights with moulded oak frames and mullions, and between them are two modern oriel windows; in the gables are small square windows. On the E. side also the upper storey projects, and there are two small blocked windows with oak mullions. A little panelling of early 17th-century date remains in an upper room, but the interior is otherwise modern.
a(18). House, opposite 'The Black Lion,' is probably of the 16th century, much altered, and re-modelled externally; the roof is hipped. A ground floor room has a plaster ceiling with decorative panels, apparently of early 17th-century date. In one of the upper rooms is much 16th and 17th-century oak panelling, evidently not in situ. The panels are all worked "on the solid"; those of the earlier period are stop-moulded, while the others have mitred mouldings. There is also a panelled door.
a(20). House, formerly 'The Old Red Lion' inn, is a 16th-century timber-framed building, of two storeys, plastered externally. The upper storey projects and is carried on two original carved brackets. The beams which support the upper floor inside the house have moulded edges and stops. In one room is some late 16th-century oak panelling in small squares, with moulded edges, and between two of the bedrooms is a panelled partition of the same date.
a(23). Stortford Park, about 1 mile W. of the church, is a farmhouse built of plastered timber, probably c. 1600, but completely refaced with brick in the 18th century; the roof is tiled. The plan is half H-shaped, with the wings projecting slightly towards the S., and a kitchen wing on the N. In the middle of the main block is a square chimney stack with V-shaped pilasters; the interior has been completely altered. Two large barns, one of eight bays, are built of rough hewn timbers and weather-boarded: the roofs are thatched.
a(24). Wickham Hall and Cottage, 1⅓ miles N.W. of the church. The Hall, now a farmhouse, is a timber-framed and plastered building of two storeys and attics; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century, but has been much altered and restored. The plan is L-shaped: one 17th-century chimney stack remains, with diagonal or V-shaped shafts of narrow bricks. The brick cottage on the S. of the house, was formerly an old pigeon house; it has been enlarged and is now used as a lodge.
a(25). The Church Manor House, about ¾ mile E. by N. of the church, is of two storeys and an attic, and was built of timber and plaster, probably c. 1600, on an L-shaped plan, but was almost completely re-built in brick early in the 18th century, and much altered at a later date. One window of c. 1600 remains, possibly in situ, with moulded wood mullions, and inside the house is a quantity of panelling of the same date, re-set.