An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 1, South. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1912.
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68. LITTLE MISSENDEN.
(O.S. 6 in. xlii. N.E.)
(1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, stands at the W. end of the village, and is built almost entirely of small flints covered with rough-cast; the E. and S. walls have some chalk and brick; the tower is of flint treated with plaster, and contains large lumps of pudding-stone in the upper part; the S. porch is of brick. The roofs of the chancel, nave and chapel are covered with tiles, those of the aisles with lead. The church, consisting of a chancel and Nave, probably existed before 1120; about that time the North Aisle was added; the Chancel is probably on the original foundations, but the earliest detail it contains is of the 13th century; the North Chapel was added c. 1360. In the 15th century the West Tower and a S. porch were built, the N. aisle was heightened and new windows were inserted. In the 18th century the N. chapel was probably lengthened and restored, and the South Aisle and South Porch were re-built. The church has been much restored and covered with plaster and white wash, so that the details are obscured and the history is difficult to trace.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (17 ft. by 12½ ft.) has an E. window of three lancet lights; the mullions and jambs inside have engaged shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the rear arches are moulded, and form an arcade on the inner face of the wall, with similar shafts, the intermediate shafts being detached; the work is of c. 1250, but has been whitewashed, and the capitals are of Roman cement. In the N. wall the 14th-century arch opening into the chapel has chamfered jambs with moulded stops; the arch is of two chamfered orders dying into the jambs, the outer order is plastered, the inner of stone. In the S. wall the easternmost window is a lancet, probably of c. 1340, with jambs, moulded outside and splayed inside, and a moulded rear arch; the second window is a narrow 13th-century lancet with widely splayed internal jambs and rear arch; the third window is a 15th-century trefoiled light under a four-centred head; the sill is carried down low inside. The semi-circular chancel arch has plain square jambs partly splayed on the W. side, and plain square abaci, all covered with cement. The North Chapel (26 ft. by 13 ft.) has an 18th-century E. window of three lights. In the N. wall is a mid 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights and a quatrefoil in a two-centred head, with a moulded label; the jambs, mullions and rear arch are moulded. In the W. wall the arch opening into the N. aisle is of the same date and character as that opening into the chancel. The Nave (36 ft. by 16½ ft.) has three semi-circular arches, opening into the N. aisle; the first arch dies into the E. wall without respond, and has a plain square W. jamb and square impost; it is lower than the other arches, and was inserted possibly in the 18th century; the second and third arches are of c. 1120, and have about 7 ft. of wall between them; the jambs have edgerolls with moulded bases, and capitals with rudimentary foliage; the abaci are grooved and chamfered; the stones are almost entirely covered with plaster and whitewash. Two round arches, with plain abaci and square jambs, open into the S. aisle; the abacus of the W. respond has a bead and hollow-chamfer moulding indicating later 12th-century work; each edge of the middle pier is partly splayed: over the E. arch is an 18th-century or modern dormer window; over the middle pier are traces of a blocked window of uncertain date, and W. of it a blocked hole indicates the position of a former central tie-beam, lower than the present tie-beams; over the W. side of the W. arch is another blocked window with a round head and splayed jambs, the head partly cut away for the wall-plate of the roof; further W., lower in the wall, is a third blocked window with a round head, probably of the 12th century. The North Aisle (7½ ft. wide) has, high up in the E. wall, a small blocked window which formerly opened into the roof of the N. chapel. In the N. wall are two late 15th-century windows, each of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head, with a flat four-centred rear arch; the N. doorway, also of late 15th-century date, has moulded jambs, a four-centred arch of two stones only, and a flat four-centred rear arch. In the W. wall is a 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head. The South Aisle (12 ft. wide) has an 18th-century E. window. In the S. wall are two modern windows, and at the W. end of the wall, near the ceiling, a rectangular light with a wooden frame; the late 14th-century S. doorway has moulded jambs, partly cemented, and a moulded drop arch. In the W. wall the window, probably of the 15th century, is of two trefoiled lights, the stone being a shelly oolite, the mullion is of cement. The West Tower (12 ft. by 12 ft.) is of two stages, with a moulded string-course, and an embattled parapet, diagonal W. buttresses, a square N.E. buttress, and S.E. semi-octagonal stair-turret, rising above the main parapet, and also embattled. All the detail is of the 15th century. The two-centred tower arch is of two orders, with moulded and shafted jambs. The W. doorway has moulded jambs and a straight-sided depressed arch; the W. window is of three cinque-foiled lights under a four-centred head, and has a small loop light over it; the stonework of the doorway and window is of shelly oolite, like the W. window in the S. aisle. The bell-chamber has four windows, each of two cinque-foiled lights under a square head; the stair-turret is lighted by loops. The South Porch has a 15th-century entrance arch of oak, with heavy corner posts and a truss in the gable above the doorway; in each side wall is the head of a 15th-century window, cinque-foiled and traceried, of oak. The Roof of the chancel, apparently of the 15th century, has a moulded tie-beam against the E. wall, moulded wall-plates, and a plastered collar-beam ceiling; the roof of the nave has old moulded wall-plates and two plain tie-beams, that against the E. wall has a notch cut out of the middle on the W. face; the N. aisle has 15th-century moulded purlins, ribs and wall-plates, and a plastered ceiling; in the E. and W. walls are traces of the former steep-pitched lean-to roof. At each end of the porch is a fine moulded and cam bered 15th-century tie-beam in an arched truss: that over the entrance was also moulded outside, but the moulding has been cut off; the rest of the roof is probably of the 18th century.
Fittings—Bells: five, 2nd, probably by John Rofford, 14th-century, with inscription 'Ave Maria', 3rd, probably by John Danyell, 15th-century, with inscription 'Sancta Margareta Ora Pro Nobis', 4th, by Joseph Carter, 1603, 5th, by Henry and Ellis Knight, 1663. Brasses and Indents: In the chancel—(1) of John Style, 1613, with inscription. In N. chapel—(2) of Francis Style, 1646, and Elizabeth (Pen), his wife, indents only; below them brasses of two daughters (imperfect) with inscription. Chests: in N. chapel, two, first of panelled oak, with nail-head initials, T.A. I.C. 1690; second, smaller, plainer, of oak with traces of three locks, earlier date than first. Communion Table: oak, 17th-century. Door: at foot of stair-turret, 15th-century. Font: of the 'Aylesbury' type, of clunch, cup-shaped fluted bowl, cable-moulded round the rim, with band of foliage below it, the rest fluted, stem with cable moulding, square base with inverted scallops, carved with foliage, late 12th-century. Glass: in N. light of W. window of N. aisle, two small fragments, yellow flowers, 15th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Floor-slabs: In vestry (E. end of N. chapel)—(1) to Ann, wife of Thomas Styles, 1633; (2) to William Beale, 1677. In N. chapel—(3) to Mary, daughter of Francis Style, wife of Henry Sayer, 1671. In chancel —under N. arch, (4) to Sarah, daughter of Henry Drury, wife, first of John Penn, afterwards of Robert Style, 1679. Niche: in S. aisle, on face of middle pier of arches, shallow, with two-centred drop arch, mediæval. Plate: includes cup and stand paten of 1639, flagon of 1691 (dated 1730). Recess: under N. window of N. chapel, probably for a tomb, with moulded jambs and two-centred segmental arch, 14th-century, W. part cut away and filled in. Tiles: one, in floor of chancel, encaustic with geometrical pattern. Miscellanea: in the vestry, in a case, key, 15 inches long.
(2). Castle Tower (mount and bailey), is situated about 5/8 mile N.E. of the church on high ground 520 ft. above O.D. The work encloses about ½ acre and is almost obliterated by the plough; it now consists of a mount, 106 ft. in diameter and 3½ ft. high, with a small bailey to the S.
(3). Little Missenden Abbey, about 1 mile W.N.W. of the church, is a house of two storeys and an attic, and is entirely covered with rough-casted cement; the roofs are tiled. The plan is approximately L-shaped, with a tower in the internal angle, and the house probably incorporates part of an old building, but no details remain by which a date can be assigned to it.
(4). The Manor House, E. of the church, is of two storeys and an attic, built at the end of the 16th century; the E. front is covered with rough-cast, the S. side has been re-faced with 18th-century brick, and on the N. side are additions built of 18th-century and modern brick. The roofs are tiled.
The oak staircase, of late 16th or early 17th-century date, is especially worthy of note (see Plate, p. 269).
The original plan of the house is obscured by the later additions, but was apparently L-shaped. On the N. side three original gables appear above the additional buildings, and have the stumps of former pinnacles at the apices; the mullioned windows in the same wall are copies or restorations of the 16th-century windows. One chimney stack has four octagonal shafts of thin bricks. Interior:— The overmantel in the entrance hall is made up of early 17th-century panelling. Two doors of oak battens are of late 16th or early 17th-century date, and one has original hinges. The oak staircase has square newels, with tall pointed moulded heads, turned balusters, moulded string and handrail; between the balusters are arches, with the springing lines sloped to suit the rake of the stairs; against the wall is a similar half-balustrade with halfnewels; one newel and probably other parts of the staircase have been restored.
(5). Town Farm, about 200 yards S. of the church, is a house of two storeys, built probably early in the 17th century, and timber-framed, now filled with brick nogging and covered with modern plaster. The roofs are covered with slate. The plan was originally rectangular, but small modern additions have been made on the S. and W. sides. The chimney stack on the W. side has three shafts with moulded bases, one shaft being square, the others octagonal, all of thin bricks. There are a few original beams in the ceilings.
Condition—Not very good, plaster scaling off in places, causing dampness in the walls.
(6–7). Cottages, two, adjoining, nearly ½ mile E.S.E. of the church, are each of two storeys, built probably in the first half of the 17th century, and timber-framed, with brick filling, restored with modern brick. The roofs are tiled. One small square chimney is original.
(8). House, now three tenements, nearly ½ mile E. of the church, is of two storeys, built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century, of brick and timber, much restored with modern brick. The plan is L-shaped, with the wings extending towards the N. and E. The W. front has a gable at each end, and there are two gables at the back. One chimney stack is original and has two square shafts set diagonally. Interior:—The middle tenement, originally one room, has, on the ground floor, exposed timbers in the ceilings, a wide open fireplace, and a door of moulded battens. The plain oak stairs are also original. The southernmost tenement has a fireplace with plain jambs and a moulded four-centred arch, plastered; a short screen, near the doorway, is of early 17th-century panelling.
(9–10). Mill House, ½ mile E. of the church, and a Cottage near the mill, are of brick and timber, partly re-faced with modern brick; the roofs are tiled. The house is of two storeys and an attic, built in the 17th century; the cottage, probably of the same century, is of two storeys, and has some original windows and a chimney stack built of thin bricks.