9. BERDEN. (A.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xiii. N.W. (b)xiii. S.W. (c)xiii. S.E.)
Berden is a small parish, and the village is about
5½ m. N. of Bishop's Stortford, on the W. border
of the county. Berden Hall and Berden Priory are
interesting secular monuments of the 16th century.
b (1). Parish Church of St. Nicholas stands
on the W. side of the village. The walls are built
of flint rubble with dressings of clunch and limestone; the roofs are tiled. The Nave is the earliest
part of the existing structure, and has remains of
windows now blocked, probably of the 12th century.
The North Transept was added early in the 13th
century, and c. 1270 the Chancel was rebuilt and the
South Transept added. The arch opening into
the N. transept was widened c. 1350. In the 15th
century the nave was shortened at the W. end, and
the West Tower was built. In 1868 the eastern part
of the chancel and the W. wall of the S. transept
were rebuilt, the South Porch was added, and the
church generally restored.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (23¾ ft.
by 17 ft.) has an E. window, entirely modern,
except the capital of the attached shaft of the
internal N. splay, which is of c. 1270, carved
with a woman's head and stiff-leaf foliage. In
the N. wall are two windows of c. 1270, the eastern
has been much restored, and is of two trefoiled
lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head,
all richly moulded; the jambs and mullions have
shafts with moulded bases and foliated capitals; the
internal splays have similar attached shafts carved
with foliage and heads; the rear each has a moulded
label continued along the wall as a string-course;
the western window is a single lancet-light with
moulded and rebated jambs and head, and moulded
internal and external labels; the internal splays
and rear arch are hollow-chamfered; the sill is
modern, but the original sill is still in situ below
it, and lower down on the wall was a string-course,
now hacked off. Between the windows is a doorway
of the same date, much restored; the external
jambs and two-centred head are moulded, the
internal jambs and rear arch are hollow-chamfered,
and the internal and external labels are plain; the
internal label has, on the W. side, a carved head-stop, and, on the E. side, is continued down to a
modern string-course. In the S. wall are two windows of the same date and design as those in the N.
wall; the eastern window has been much restored,
and the western slightly restored; the sill of the
western window has apparently been raised, and
below it was a string-course, now hacked off flush
with the wall. The two-centred chancel-arch is of
c. 1270, and of two hollow-chamfered orders,
with a plain label and head-stops on the E. and W.
faces, but the label and stops on the W. face are
modern; the hollow-chamfered responds have
attached semi-circular shafts with moulded bases,
and capitals with stiff-leaf foliage, partly restored.
On each side of the chancel arch is a modern squint
with a gabled label on the E. face.
Berden, Parish Church of St. Nicholas
The Nave (44½ ft. by 19¾ ft.) has, at the W. angle,
quoins of long-and-short work of doubtful date.
In the N. wall, at the E. end, is a two-centred drop-arch of two chamfered orders, and of early 13th-century material, re-used when the arch was rebuilt and widened in the 14th century; the responds
were again rebuilt in the 19th century, and have
semi-octagonal attached shafts with 14th-century
moulded capitals. W. of the arch is a window,
entirely modern, except the opening, and at the
W. end of the wall is a blocked 12th-century window
only visible inside, and half cut away by the wall
of the tower. In the S wall, towards the E. end,
is a 13th-century arch, two-centred and of one
chamfered order; the square responds have
modern shafts on the N. side, and are chamfered
on the S. side; further W. is a late 15th-century
window, of three cinquefoiled lights under a four-centred head; it has some 13th-century material
re-used in the internal splays, and has been partly
restored. W. of the window is the 14th-century
S. doorway with moulded jambs, two-centred arch,
and a moulded label; at the W. end of the wall is
part of a blocked 12th-century window similar to
that in the N. wall; E. of the transept-arch is the
15th-century doorway to the former rood-loft, now
blocked; the jambs and four-centred head are
The North Transept (18½ ft. by 15½ ft.) has,
in the E. wall, a window entirely modern, except
the 14th-century opening. In the N. wall is a
window similar to that in the E. wall. Further
W. is a 13th-century doorway with chamfered
jambs and two-centred arch.
The South Transept (18 ft. by 19 ft.) has, in the
E. wall, a 14th-century window, partly restored,
and of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in
a square head. In the N. wall, at the E. end,
one stone jamb of the former opening into the
rood-loft is visible. In the S. wall is a 14th-century window, partly restored, and of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred
head. Further W. the external plinth is stopped
and returned on each side of a blank wall space,
probably indicating the position of a former
The West Tower (12 ft. by 11 ft. average) is of
three stages, with a modern embattled parapet
and a pyramidal roof. The 15th-century tower-arch is two-centred and moulded; the moulded
responds have semi-octagonal attached shafts with
moulded capitals and bases. The 15th-century
W. doorway has been restored and has moulded
jambs and two-centred arch, with a square moulded
label and quatrefoiled spandrels; the W. window,
also of the 15th-century, and restored, is of three
cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred
head. The second stage has, in the W. wall, a
small single-light window with double-chamfered
jambs and two-centred head, possibly of the 15th
century; over the apex is a round stone, carved
with a four-leafed flower. The bell-chamber has,
in each wall, a 15th-century window, partly
restored, and of two cinquefoiled lights in a four-centred head, with a moulded label.
The Roof of the N. transept is possibly of the
16th century; it is of two bays, and a modern
tie-beam has been inserted under the middle and
northern trusses; the king-post is above the collar-beam. The late 15th-century roof of the S. transept is of two bays, each with curved and chamfered
brackets and curved principals supporting the
collar-beam, which in the middle truss has a carved
leopard's head on the soffit; the wall-plates are
moulded, and there are two tiers of wind-braces.
Fittings—Bells: four; 1st by W. and P. Wightman, 1695; 2nd, 1613 possibly by J. Keene;
3rd, by Robert Oldfield, 1613. Bell-frame, old.
Brasses: In chancel—in N.E. corner, (1) of Ann,
wife of Thomas Thompson, 1607, figures of man
in civilian dress, and woman, nine sons and four
daughters, with two inscriptions and two shields
of arms. In N. transept—in N.E. corner, on modern
brick tomb, (2) of William Turnor, 1473, and
Margaret and Margery, his wives, figures of man in
fur-edged gown, with belt and bag, and of two
women in belted dresses and veiled head-dresses,
with inscription and two inscribed scrolls, indents
of two shields and figures of children. Communion
Table: In S. transept—with twisted legs, plain
rails and small shaped brackets, early 18th-century.
Door: In S. transept—loose, brought from Berden
Hall, with six linen-fold panels and moulded frame,
early 16th-century. Locker; In S. transept—in S.
wall, small square recess, possibly locker. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monument: In chancel—on
S. wall, (1) to Thomas Aldersaie, 1598, marble and
alabaster tablet, with pilaster on each side, and
coat of arms at the top. In N. transept—(2) coffin-lid, of stone, with beaded edges and remains of
raised cross, defaced and broken, 13th-century;
(3) built into E. wall as bracket, upside down, end
of coffin lid, of Purbeck marble, with hollow-chamfered edges and base of cross, 13th-century.
Floor-slabs: In chancel—at E. end, (1) to Mary
(Aldersey), 1678, wife, first of Thomas Westrowe,
secondly of Sir Norton Knatchbull, and thirdly of
Sir Edward Scott, with three coats of arms. In nave
—(2) to Thomasine, wife of Thomas Meade, 1656,
much defaced. In N. transept—(3) to Thomas,
son of Richard Meade, of Berden, 1653. In S.
transept—(4) to Thomas Grove, 1669, Margaret,
his daughter, and to four grandchildren. Panelling: In S. transept—brought from Berden Hall,
partition forming small vestry, early 17th-century.
Piscinæ: In chancel—with moulded jambs and
two-centred head, projecting sill, and quatrefoil
drain, 14th-century. In S. transept, in S. wall,
with moulded jambs and trefoiled two-centred head,
quatrefoil drain, re-cut, at apex carved head of
woman in wimple, with small finial above it, 14th-century. Plate: includes elaborate pear-shaped
cup of 1602, of secular origin, silver-gilt, with twisted
tree-trunk stem, chased bowl, and cover with
steeple-top, having a shield of arms; silver-gilt
paten of elaborate repoussé work, foreign, secular,
17th-century, inscribed, "Berden Parish, 1768."
Pulpit: of oak, octagonal, two sides open, other
sides with ornamental panels, second half of 17th
century. Screen: In chancel—part, now used as
back of organist's seat, one bay of base with three
close panels, having cinquefoiled heads and carved
spandrels, at the foot of each panel, two quatrefoiled
squares, posts at each end, with attached buttresses,
15th-century, rails, modern. Seating: In N.
transept—part of three panelled standards, with
moulded heads, also moulded upper rails of two
seats, 16th-century, made up with modern work.
Stoup: In S. porch—E. of doorway, pointed
recess with broken round basin, 15th-century.
Miscellanea: In S. transept—small cupboard-door
with arched panel and two small ornamental
hinges, 17th-century, brought from Brick House,
Berden. On W. face of chancel-arch—on N. side,
below springing line, incised inscription in Lombardic capitals 'Gefrai Limathun' (Geoffrey the
Mason), late 13th-century.
b (2). Fortified Mount, at Stock's Farm,
½ m. S.S.E. of the church. The mount, which
is about 10 feet high and 123 feet in diameter at
the base, is surrounded by a ditch, now partly
dry, and has a well defined rampart round the
b (3). Berden Hall house, and granary, 120
yards S. of the church. The House is of two storeys
with attics and a cellar; the walls are of red brick,
and the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1580, on a
rectangular plan with two wings projecting
towards the W. A small addition was made to
the S.W. wing in the 17th century, when the
windows throughout the house were altered.
The house is a good example of 16th-century
brickwork, and the original oak staircase is especially noteworthy.
Berden Hall, Plan
Elevations—The walls are all finished with a
plain plinth, and have raised bands between the
storeys. On each side of the house there are three
gables, all with moulded copings and finials, except
the middle gable on the W. side, which has a plain
verge; some of the finials have been restored, and
many of the windows have modern frames. The
17th-century window-frames in the two lower
storeys are solid, and have each a mullion and
transom. On the E. Front the central doorway
has a chamfered pilaster on each side, and a chamfered three-centred arch with a square moulded
label; the original panelled door has moulded and
nail-studded rails and muntins, and a drop-handle;
on the first floor, between the two middle windows,
is a sunk elliptical panel with chamfered edges;
three rain-water heads of lead are each dated 1655,
and have a quartered coat of arms. On the S.
Elevation (see Plate, p. xxiv) the doorway and door
are similar to those on the E. front. The W. Elevation has, leading to the cellar, a doorway similar to
those already described, with remains of an original
panelled door; above the doorway is a large window lighting the staircase. There are four large
chimney-stacks; the two on the E. have each four
octagonal shafts, modern at the top; the two plain
stacks on the W. have been restored.
Interior:—The door of a cupboard on the ground
floor and some of the doors on the first floor are
original, and of richly moulded battens. The
dining room (see plan, A) has an early 17th-century
over-mantel, divided into two bays by panelled
pilasters; each bay has an oval panel with raised
key-blocks; the screen between the dining-room
and passage has early 17th-century panelling, and
a frieze enriched on the N. side with narrow raised
cartouches. The original staircase (see plan, B) up
to the first floor is six feet wide, and has square
newels with moulded tops, a moulded hand-rail
and square pierced pilaster-balusters; the spaces
between the balusters are filled with pierced
arabesque work. In the attics are four original
fireplaces with chamfered jambs and three-centred heads of plastered brick; there is also
an original door of battens.
The Granary stands N.E. of the house, and is of
the same date, but has been restored; it is a
rectangular building of two storeys. The walls
are of brick, with a plain plinth, and the S. gable
is stepped. Inside the building, the rooms on the
ground floor have old chamfered ceiling-beams and
Condition—Good, some walls overgrown with
a(4). Berden Priory, house, well-house and
maltings, ½ m. N.W. of the church. The House is of
two storeys, with attics and a cellar; the walls
are timber-framed, and covered with plaster; the
roofs are tiled. It stands on the site of a hospital
or priory of Austin Canons, founded in the 12th
century. There are no monastic remains in situ,
but stone coffins dug up near the house are now
preserved in the Saffron Walden Museum. The
existing house was built late in the 16th century,
on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending
towards the W. and N.; the kitchen was added
in the angle between the wings probably in the
17th century, and a further small addition was
made on the N. side.
Elevations—On the S. Front the overhanging
upper storey has a moulded oak bressumer; the
threshold of the door is formed of two mediæval
coffin-lids of stone. The E. Elevation has, on the
first floor, an original window of two lights with a
moulded frame and mullion; it is blocked below
the transom; the original chimney-stack at the
E. end has grouped shafts with diagonal pilasters,
and a rectangular base. The chimney-stack at
the W. end of the house has two original shafts set
diagonally, and a third shaft added at a later date.
Interior:—On the ground floor, in the W. wing,
one room has walls covered with 17th-century
panelling, and in the N. wing is a little linen-fold
panelling, not in situ. Incorporated in the walls
of the cellar are some stones with traces of moulding, probably mediæval. The upper part of the
staircase has a circular newel of oak. On the first
floor, some of the doors are of oak battens, two
rooms have 17th-century panelling, and a room
on the S. front has, in the window, a shield of Dale
of Clavering, in late 16th-century glass; in a small
room in the N. wing is an original fireplace, with a
four-centred head; it is now blocked.
The Well-house, N. of the house, is timberframed, and weather-boarded, and was built
probably in the 17th century; many of the timbers
have been renewed. It contains a large open
tread-wheel, connected by an axle-beam with a
reel over the well.
The Maltings, N.W. of the house, are now
disused; the walls are timber-framed and weather-boarded. The buildings are of the 17th-century
and the roofs have cambered and chamfered
tie-beams with curved braces.
The following buildings, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century, and of two
storeys, timber-framed and covered with plaster;
the roofs are tiled or thatched. Many of the buildings have original chimney-stacks, wide fireplaces
and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.
Main Street, E. side
b(5). The Raven Inn, 110 yards E.N.E. of the
church, has been re-faced with modern brick, and
an addition has been made at the back; the roofs
are partly covered with slate. Inside the building
the original open fireplace has shaped oak corbels
supporting the lintel.
b(6). Cottage, two tenements, 50 yards N. of
(5), is partly weather-boarded.
b(7). House, 100 yards N. of (6), at the S. corner
of the Clavering road, is of two periods in the 17th
century, the N. half being of later date than the
other. In the garden in front is a square well of
The Stocking Pelham Road, N. side
b(8). White House Farm, house, now two tenements, at the N. end of the main street, 240 yards
N.N.E. of the church, was built early in the 16th
century, and has a modern addition at the back.
At each end of the house is a gabled wing projecting towards the N. Inside the building, on the
first floor, the W. room has a brick fireplace with
a moulded cornice and four-centred arch.
b(9). Cottage, two tenements, 40 yards W. of
(8), with a low modern addition at the W. end. N.
of the house is a deep well, cut through the chalk,
and bricked round the upper part, square at the
top, and circular at the bottom.
b(10). Martin's Farm, now two tenements, 40
yards W. of (9), is of mid 16th-century date.
On the S. front the upper storey projects and
rests on four curved brackets. The original E.
chimney-stack has apparently three offsets; but
is covered with ivy. At the back is a gabled wing,
and some of the timber-framing is exposed. The
four-centred oak head of a doorway, and part of
a staircase, formerly at Martin's Farm, are
preserved at the Vicarage.
b(11). House, now a shop, said to be on the site of
the old Vicarage, and outbuildings, 200 yards N. of
the church. The House is modern, but the base
of the brick walls of the cellar are of the 17th
century, and the shop has old ceiling-beams.
The Barn, on the N. side of the road, is of three
bays; the trusses of the roof have curved braces.
The Cart-shed, N. of the barn, has an open lower
storey of three bays, with angle and intermediate
posts, and curved braces.
Condition—Of outbuildings, poor.
b(12). The King's Head Inn, 450 yards N.W.
of the church, is L-shaped on plan with the wings
extending towards the N. and W.
Dew's Green, N. side
a(13). Cottage, ¾ m. N.W. of the church, is
Park Green, S. side
b(14). Cottage, 1,100 yards S.S.W. of the church,
is partly weather-boarded. The original chimney-stack has grouped square shafts.
b(15). Stock's Farm, house, formerly three
cottages, at the N. corner of Blacking's Lane,
770 yards S. of the church. At the back, the
vertical timber-framing is exposed, and there
is a small modern addition. Inside the building
are two original doors of moulded battens.
b(16). Cottage, two tenements, ¾ m. S. of the
church, is partly weather-boarded.
b(17). Brick House, and barn, 80 yards S. of
(16). The House is of two storeys with a cellar;
the walls are of brick and the roofs are covered with
slate. It is probably of late 16th or early 17th-century date, but the walls were re-faced c. 1670;
the building was shortened at the E. end in
the 18th or 19th century, and an addition made
on the S.W. side. On the N. front there is a plain
projecting band between the storeys, and on the
ground floor the openings of the windows have
segmental heads, and are of c. 1670. Inside the
building, three doorways have original moulded
The Barn, S.W. of the house, is of the 17th
century, and of four bays; the walls are weather-boarded.
c(18). Rook's Farm, on the S. side of the road,
½ m. E.S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, with
attics and a cellar. It is partly weather-boarded,
and has been completely restored and altered.
Inside the building, the door of the cellar is of
richly moulded battens, and on the first floor
there is a door of moulded battens.
c(19). Cottage, on the N. side of the road, 150
yards N.E. of (18), has part of the timber-framing
c(20). Cottage, at the end of Sawpit Lane,
about 1,100 yards E.S.E. of the church, is partly
weather-boarded. The original central chimney-stack has attached diagonal pilasters, and a
rectangular base with a moulded capping.
c (21). Cottage, two tenements, at Potash Farm,
about 1¼ m. E. of the church, is partly weather-boarded.
b(22). Circular Enclosure, 500 yards S.W. of
the church, is about 120 feet in diameter, surrounded by a narrow wet ditch.
Condition—Fairly good; the enclosed area is
planted with trees.