An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1916.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Preface', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West, (London, 1916) pp. ix-x. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]


A few informal words will not, I trust, be out of place by way of introduction to this Inventory, and may help to explain both the arrangement of these pages and the manner in which the monuments have been recorded.

The volume contains (in addition to the terms of appointment and official report) a Sectional Preface which, under subject headings, calls attention to any particularly interesting examples mentioned in the Inventory; an illustrated Inventory, with a concise account of the monuments visited; a list of monuments that the Commissioners have selected as especially worthy of preservation; a glossary of architectural, heraldic and archæological terms; a map showing the topographical distribution of the scheduled monuments, and an index.

Under the heads of parishes, arranged alphabetically, will be found a list of their respective monuments, and an introductory paragraph calls attention to the more noticeable monuments in the parish. The chronological sequence chosen is not perhaps scientifically perfect, but it has been found a workable basis for classification. The order adopted is as follows:—

(1) Prehistoric monuments and earthworks.

(2) Roman monuments and Roman earthworks.

(3) English ecclesiastical monuments.

(4) English secular monuments.

(5) Unclassified monuments.

In addition to dwelling houses, the English secular class (4) includes all such earthworks as mount and bailey castles, homestead moats, etc. To the section of unclassified monuments (5) are assigned all undatable earthworks.

Each category of monuments has been under the care of separate SubCommissions, with Lord Plymouth, Lord Crawford and Balcarres, Professor Haverfield, and myself as Chairmen.

The descriptions of the monuments are of necessity much compressed, but the underlying principle on which accounts of any importance are based is the same throughout. Thus, in the case of ecclesiastical monuments, the description begins with a few words on the situation and material of the monument, together with a statement as to the historical development of its various parts. A second paragraph calls attention, when necessary to its more remarkable features. This is followed by a concise description mainly architectural, of its details. A fourth paragraph deals with the fittings of churches in alphabetical order, while the concluding sentence gives a general statement as to structural condition. The accounts of less important buildings, whether secular or ecclesiastical, are still further compressed, and, in the case of secular monuments, consist of a single paragraph, or of a mere mention of their situation if they belong to a group with certain characteristics described in a covering paragraph.

The illustrations are derived from photographs taken expressly for the Commission, and reproduced by H.M.'s Stationery Office, whose work, I think deserves special recognition. They have been chosen rather for their educational than for their æsthetic value. Had appearance alone been made the test of selection, many more might easily have been included. The map at the end of the Inventory shows the distribution of the monuments, and incidentally throws some light on the concentration of population in the country at various times before the year 1714.

To insure clearness of description, all ancient churches not illustrated by historically hatched plans have been provided, in this volume, with key plans to a uniform scale of 48ft. to the inch and with the monumental portions shown in solid black.

The Glossary has been revised by a special Committee consisting of Sir John Horner, Sir W. St. John Hope, Mr. Oswald Barron, F.S.A., Mr. D. H. Montgomerie, F.S.A., and Mr. G. H. Duckworth, F.S.A. The Index also has received further revision at the hands of a small Committee of the Commission whose members, with a view to assisting in the co-ordination and correlation of archæological indices generally, have followed in a great measure the conclusions of the Index Committee of the Congress of Archæological Societies.

It may also be well to draw further attention to the fact that our Record cards may be consulted by any properly accredited persons, though, for the period of the war, due notice of any such intention should be given to our Secretary at the Ministry of Munitions, in Whitehall Place, S.W. The cards contain drawings of tracery and mouldings as well as plans and sketches of the monuments—forming in truth the complete National Inventory—and will ultimately be deposited for public reference in the Record Office.

In conclusion, I may add that no monument has been or will be included in our Inventories that has not been actually inspected and the account checked in situ by a member of our own investigating staff. In a work of such intricate detail there must be mistakes. But I hope these are neither numerous nor serious. A further guarantee of accuracy lies in the fact that Mr. W. Page, F.S.A. (General Editor of the Victoria County Histories) has served as a member of each Sub-Commission, and that Mr. C. R. Peers, F.S.A. (Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries), and Sir Wm. St. John Hope have revised the reports of our investigators on secular and ecclesiastical monuments, while Mr. D. H. Montgomerie, F.S.A., has himself visited and supervised the reports on Earthworks. I should also add that the heraldry of the Inventory has been supervised by the Rev. E. E. Dorling, F.S.A.; the descriptions of armour by Mr. C. J. ffoulkes, F.S.A., Curator of His Majesty's Armouries at the Tower of London; the descriptions of glass by Dr. M. R. James, D.D., F.B.A., Provost of King's College, Cambridge; the descriptions of brasses by Mr. Mill Stevenson, F.S.A., and the spelling of names and description of costumes by Mr. Oswald Barron, F.S.A.

Finally, any points in dispute between our experts have been referred for special consideration and report to a small Committee consisting of Sir Hercules Read, LL.D., F.B.A., former President of the Society of Antiquaries and Keeper of British and medieval Antiquities and Ethnography in the British Museum, Mr. G. F. Hill, Keeper of Coins and Medals in the British Museum, and Mr. C. R. Peers, F.S.A., Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments in H.M. Office of Works. Nevertheless, I shall heartily welcome any corrections that may be sent to me, with a view to their possible inclusion in some future edition of this volume.