17. CHICKNEY. (B.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xiv. S.W. (b)xiv. S.E.)
Chickney is a small parish N.W. of Great Dunmow, consisting only of a few farms. The principal
monuments are the Church, and Sibley's farmhouse.
b (1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin,
stands in the S.E. corner of the parish, and is
built of flint and pebble rubble, partly covered
with plaster; the dressings are of limestone and
clunch; the roofs are covered with tiles. The
Nave is of pre-Conquest date, and the W. half of
the Chancel is nearly contemporary with it. Early
in the 13th century the chancel was lengthened.
The West Tower was added in the 14th century.
Probably early in the 15th century the South Porch
was built, and during the same century the N. and
S. walls of the nave were cut back at the E. end,
and arched recesses formed, probably to give more
space to two nave altars. The church was restored
Chickney. Parish Church of St. Mary
The church is an unusually complete example
of pre-Conquest work. The erratic planning of
the whole building is remarkable.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (26 ft.
on N. by 16 ft.) with the axis deflected to the S.,
has a 14th-century E. window, partly restored, of
three trefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred
head with moulded internal and external labels and
internal head-stops; below the internal sill is a 13th-century moulded string-course continued along the
side walls as far as the eastern pair of windows,
and finished with foliage-stops. In the N. wall there
are two early 13th-century lancet windows, and
between them a rough plastered straight joint indicates the N.E. angle of the pre-Conquest chancel;
W. of the western window is the springing of the
W. jamb of a blocked pre-Conquest window, and a
blocked square hole partly edged with tiles, which
possibly opened into a former ankar-hold. In the
S. wall there are two early 13th-century lancet
windows, and between them are traces of the S.E.
angle of the pre-Conquest chancel, and of a blocked
pre-Conquest window, apparently with a round
head. The early 14th-century chancel-arch, partly
restored, is pointed and of two chamfered orders;
the square responds have chamfered and stopped
angles, much restored, and modern imposts; the
inner order of the arch is carried on projecting corbel
capitals, with a panelled soffit in place of a 'bell,'
they are possibly of later date than the arch; in the
N. side of the N. respond is a skewed squint of 15th
or early 16th-century date, and of two trefoiled
lights on the W. side with a mullion on both faces;
the upper part of the S.W. light is grooved for glass.
The Nave (about 31½ ft. by 18 ft.) is of rhomboidal plan with the acute angles at the S.E. and
N.W.; the angles are built without quoins. In
the N. wall, at the E. end is a window of c. 1360
and of two cinquefoiled ogee lights under a square
head; the wall on the E. side, and also under the
internal sill has been cut back; the E. splay is
supported on moulded corbelling, and has a
half-arch on the E. side. Further W. is a small N.
doorway, possibly of the 14th century, and of a
single chamfered order with a pointed head; immediately E. of the doorway is a blocked pre-Conquest
window apparently double-splayed and only visible
externally. In the S. wall are two windows,
the eastern is of the second half of the 14th century
and of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery under a
square head. The wall on the E. side and below
the window has been cut away like the N. wall;
the western window, set high in the wall, is a
double-splayed single light of pre-Conquest date,
with a round head plastered inside and outside;
further W. is the early 14th-century S. doorway
of two moulded orders with a two-centred arch
and a moulded label, which has a returned stop on
the E. and a mask-stop on the W.
The West Tower (7 ft. square), with the axis
deflected to the S., is of three stages with a
pyramidal roof and diagonal W. buttresses. The
14th-century tower-arch is pointed and of two
moulded orders, the inner dying on to the side
walls, and the outer continuous on the E. face
of the opening. The 14th-century W. window,
much restored, is of two trefoiled lights, with
tracery in a two-centred head with an external
label. In the W. wall of the second stage is
a 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights
with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; it has
been much repaired with modern plastered brick.
The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a 14th-century
window of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery
in a pointed head; the N. window has been blocked,
and the W. window entirely restored; the E.
and S. windows have been repaired in plastered
The South Porch is timber-framed, and plastered
The Roof of the nave is of the 14th century, and
has three king-post trusses carrying a central
purlin; the king-post of the second truss has
apparently a moulded base and four-way struts;
the truss at the W. end has no king-post. The
pyramidal roof of the tower is modern, but inside
the bell-chamber in the angles, are four oak posts,
with the mortises of the former hip-rafters of a
lower roof of similar form. The roof of the S.
porch has two tie-beams, one with curved braces,
and both probably of the 15th century.
Fittings—Altar: In chancel—in use, plain slab
with chamfered lower edge and incised with five
crosses, found under floor in 1858, possibly 13th-century. Bells: two, both by John Kebyll of
London, 15th-century; 2nd inscribed 'Ad Celi
Syna Perducat Nos Caterina.' (St. Katherine was
buried on Mount Sinai.) Bracket: In nave—
on E. wall, N. of chancel-arch, broken and
moulded, probably 15th century, re-set. Communion Table. Now in tower—small, with turned
legs, top forms small chest with panelled sides,
modern tracery in front and modern lid, said to
have been former communion table, early 17th-century. Font: (see Plate p. xxix.) octagonal
bowl, of clunch, carved with four septfoiled ogee
canopies, having crockets and finials; each
canopy including two faces of bowl; soffits
carved with half-angels; moulded and enriched
cornice, and, in spandrels, raised shields, charged
with arms—(a) six voided lozenges for Braybrook;
(b) a fesse between two cheverons; (c) a bend with a
ring in the foot; square stop-chamfered central
stem and four subsidiary buttressed shafts at
alternate angles; moulded base with carved foliage
at alternate angles, probably early 15th-century.
Lockers: In chancel—two in N. wall, one in
S. wall, plain square recesses, date uncertain.
Piscina: In chancel—with moulded jambs and
trefoiled head with roll points to foils, round drain,
early 13th-century. Plate: includes small cup
with baluster stem, probably c. 1630–40, mark
erased. Miscellanea: On S.E. window of nave
and S.E. window of chancel a number of scratched
Sundials. In nave—re-used in desk, small piece
of oak cresting, 15th-century.
Condition—Fairly good, some of the external
stonework is perished.
a (2). Homestead Moat, ¾ m. N.W. of the
b (3). Chickney Hall and barn, about 200 yards
E.S.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys
with attics; the walls are of plastered timberframing; the roofs are tiled. It was built early
in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with
the wings extending towards the E. and N., and
probably at the end of the 17th century the E.
wing was extended towards the E. and the building
was heightened to form attics; there are modern
additions on the W. side of the E. wing, and on the
E. side of the N. wing. The N. wing has on the
S. front a late 17th-century wood cornice with
modillions, carried round the ends of the wing;
in the roof are four hipped dormer windows
with old glazing. Inside the building in the E.
room of the original E. wing is a dado of early
17th-century panelling, re-set, and there is similar
re-set panelling in the adjoining W. room. In the
N. wing is an original door of moulded battens.
The Barn, N.E. of the house, is probably of the
Condition—Of house and barn, good.
a (4). Sibley's Farm, house, barn and dovecot,
1¼ m. N.N.W. of the church. The House is of
two storeys with attics, timber-framed and
plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built
in the 15th century, apparently on an H-shaped
plan with the cross-wings at the N.W. and S.E.
ends; late in the 16th century a small staircase
projection was added to the S.E. wing, an upper
floor was inserted in the Hall, the main staircase
and a chimney-stack were also inserted and the
walls were heightened. The N.W. wing was
extended and altered in the 18th and 19th centuries.
On the S.W. front the upper storey of each wing
projects and is gabled; a window in the S.E. wing
is of three lights, and probably of the 17th century.
In the staircase projection are two 15th-century
windows, re-set and now blocked, each of three lights
with moulded oak mullions. The central chimney-stack is of late 16th or early 17th-century date,
and has clustered diagonal shafts, partly rebuilt.
Interior—In the middle room, formerly the Hall,
a partition of the 16th century or earlier date,
probably represents the original screens, and in the
W. wall behind the partition, is an original doorway, probably re-set, with a four-centred head;
in the ceiling is a heavy stop-chamfered beam.
In the N.W. wing are original exposed joists and
a heavy chamfered beam with curved braces;
at the N.E. end of the wing is a wide fireplace with
chimney-corner seats. In the S.E. wing is a stop-chamfered beam on shaped posts, probably original;
in the W. wall is a fireplace, of late 16th-century
date, with a four-centred head of plastered brick.
S. of the central chimney-stack is a late 16th-century
staircase with a central newel and winders; under
it is a cupboard with an old oak battened door
with strap-hinges. In the upper storey the roof
of the main block is of three unequal bays with
a central purlin and cambered tie-beams, two of
which have curved braces; the roof of the front
part of the N.W. wing is of two bays with a chamfered tie-beam on shaped posts; the roof of the
back part of the N.W. wing has a central purlin
and tie-beam with the mortises of former braces;
there is also a plain oak door, re-used, with straphinges. The roof of the S.E. wing is of two bays
with a king-post truss having a cambered tie-beam on shaped and chamfered wall-posts. In
the W. wall of the S.E. wing is a late 16th-century
fireplace with a moulded and enriched mantelshelf.
The Barn, W. of the house, is timber-framed and
weather-boarded; the roof is partly thatched and
partly tiled. It has four bays with queen-post
trusses of the 16th-century, but has modern
extensions at the N. and S. ends.
The Dovecot, S. of the house, is of two storeys,
timber-framed and weather-boarded; it is square
and has a gabled roof; the timber-framing is
possibly of the 15th century.
Condition—Of house, barn and dovecot, good
a (5). Burnt House, cottage, now two tenements,
about ¼ m. S.W. of (4), is of two storeys, timberframed and plastered; the roofs are thatched. It
was built in the 17th century. Inside the building
the ground floor has stop-chamfered ceiling-beams.
a (6). Cottage, about ¼ m. S.W. of (5), is of two
storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are
thatched. It was built in the 17th century, and
has a modern addition at the W. end. Inside the
building the ground floor has chamfered ceilingbeams.
a (7). Cottage, nearly 1 m. N.W. of the church,
on the W. side of Chickney Green, is of two storeys,
timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are
thatched. It was built probably early in the 17th
century. The original central chimney-stack is
modern at the top. Inside the building are chamfered ceiling-beams, some with moulded stops ornamented with a lozenge.
Condition—Poor, especially thatch.