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.

'Arkesden', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West, (London, 1916) pp. 1-4. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

In this section


ACCREDITED TO A DATE ANTERIOR TO 1714, arranged by Parishes.

(Unless otherwise stated, the dimensions given in the Inventory are internal. Monuments with titles printed in italics are covered by an introductory sentence, to which reference should be made.)

1. ARKESDEN. (A.b.)

(O.S. 6 in. (a)viii. S.E. (b)viii. S.W.)

Arkesden is an agricultural parish and village about 4½ m. S.W. of Saffron Walden. The principal monument is the Church.


b(1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands on the N. side of the village. The walls are of flint rubble with stone dressings; the roofs are covered with slate. The present Chancel and Nave were built c. 1250, but foundations of a circular tower of earlier date were discovered at the W. end in 1855. A N. aisle and the South Aisle were built c. 1380. About the middle of the 15th century the W. tower was rebuilt and the South Porch added. According to an inscription, said to have been formerly on the N. wall, the North Aisle was largely rebuilt early in the 16th century, but there are no remaining details of that date. In 1855 the West Tower and chancel-arch were rebuilt, and the church was generally restored.

The 12th-century font, the 15th-century effigy in the chancel, the Cutte monument of 1592, and the 15th-century heraldic glass in the W. window are especially noteworthy.

Architectural Description:—The Chancel (30½ ft. by 17½ ft.) has a modern E. window; below the window is an 18th-century doorway opening into a vault. In the N. wall are two 13th-century windows, each of coupled lancet lights with chamfered and rebated jambs and heads, considerably restored and re-cut. In the S. wall are three windows; the two eastern are similar to those in the N. wall, but have been more restored; the western window is of c. 1340, partly restored inside; it is of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head; the jambs and mullions are chamfered outside and moulded inside. Between the two western windows is a doorway with a two-centred head, externally modern, except the bases of the jambs; the moulded internal splays and rear arch are of the 13th century. The chancel-arch is modern.

The Nave (54 ft. by 20½ ft.) has N. and S. arcades, each of three bays. The N. arcade is of c. 1250, except the columns and E. respond, which are modern; the W. respond is semi-octagonal, with a moulded capital and chamfered base; the two-centred arches are of two slightly chamfered orders. The S. arcade is also of c. 1250, and similar to the N. arcade; the columns are circular, and the responds semi-circular. The clearstorey has four modern windows on each side.

The North Aisle (8 ft. wide) has, in the E. wall, a window of c. 1380, and of three trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head, all considerably re-cut. In the N. wall are three windows of c. 1380: the easternmost window, much restored, is of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head; the second window, also much restored, is similar to the first, but of two trefoiled ogee lights; the third window is modern, except the opening. Between the second and third windows is a 14th-century doorway with double-chamfered jambs and two-centred arch, slightly restored.

The South Aisle (11 ft. wide) has, in the E. wall, a modern window. In the S. wall are three modern windows; between the two western windows is a doorway, probably of the 14th century, but much restored; the segmental-pointed arch is double-chamfered, and has a moulded label.

The West Tower (12½ ft. by 11½ ft.) is entirely modern, except the tower-arch and some re-used material in the splays of the W. doorway and window. It is reported that in 1855 when the original tower was demolished, the foundations of a circular tower were discovered, and had an internal diameter of 16 ft. 4 in. and walls 4 ft. in thickness. The 15th-century tower-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the responds have semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and modern bases.

The South Porch has an outer archway of the 15th century, much restored; it is two-centred and moulded and has a moulded label; the responds have semi-octagonal shafts with modern capitals and bases. In each side-wall is a modern window which incorporates some 15th-century material.

Fittings—Bells: six; 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th of 1701, 6th of 1710, all said to be by Richard Keene. Book: MS. in possession of the Vicar, entitled: "Antient Coates of Armes, Monuments Matches of and belonging to the name and family of Fox, in the County of Essex," apparently of 1639. Brass: In S. aisle—at E. end, of man in plate armour, with indents of inscription plate and four shields, said to be of Richard Fox, of Arkesden, 1439, and formerly on an altar tomb. Chest: In W. tower— of oak, front panels and framing with incised ornament, 17th-century. Font: (See Plate, p. xxix.) square tapering bowl of limestone, with beaded edge at the top, possibly 12th-century; square hollow pedestal of clunch, each side pierced with a small moulded and pointed opening, in the middle, small circular shaft, 13th-century. Glass: In tower—in W. window, in N. light, shield of the arms of Fox (renewed), quartering Bigwood, argent a chief gules with two crescents or thereon, 15th-century, partly restored; in middle light, quatrefoiled panel with arms of Arundel, gules a lion or quartering Warrenne, checky or and azure, all within an engrailed border argent, at the top and sides yellow crowns, late 14th-century, one crown modern; in S. light, shield with arms of Walden Abbey, azure a bend gules cotised or dividing two molets or with three scallops argent on the bend (one molet missing), 15th-century. Locker: In chancel—in N. wall, rectangular, rebated for door, 15th-century, re-cut. Monuments: In chancel—in N. wall (1) of priest in cassock and surplice, effigy in two parts, set in a double recess, divided by a solid pier, each side having a depressed head with sunk spandrels and embattled cornice, a canopied niche in each jamb and in the pier; recess set on slab with moulded edge; effigy and slab, 15th-century, (see Plate, p. xxx.); recess and niches, modern or entirely re-cut. In S. aisle—in N.E. corner (2) of Richard Cutte, 1592, and Mary (Elrington) his wife, 1593, large canopied altar tomb of limestone, decorated with colour and elaborate heraldry, erected by their eldest son, Richard; two recumbent effigies, of man in plate armour with peascod breastplate and puffed trunk-breeches, head resting on close helmet, crest at feet; of woman with close-fitting head-dress, ruff, etc. at her feet a dog; at S. side and W. end of tomb, eight recesses having fluted pilasters and round heads, each recess, except two at the W. end, containing figure of son or daughter, with name; at sides of tomb, six octagonal columns, with moulded capitals and bases enriched with acanthus leaves, supporting flat canopy with moulded entablature, 'Jacobean' cresting, and, at the angles, obelisks, soffit of canopy richly panelled and having three pendants. In W. tower—on N. wall (3) of John Withers, of the Middle Temple, 1692, grey and white marble monument, with two busts and cartouche of arms. In churchyard—S. of chancel, (4) headstone with inscription to Sarah, wife of Thomas Morris, 1704, foot-stone inscribed S.M., 1704; (5) part of coffin-slab with remains of double cross, 14th-century. Piscinæ: In chancel —with moulded jambs, four-centred head, moulded label and sexfoil drain, 15th-century, re-cut. In S. aisle—in E. splay of S.E. window, with chamfered jambs and trefoiled head, projecting fluted basin resting on carved grotesque head, 14th-century. Plate: includes cup of 1562 and cover-paten of 1567. Recess, or Squint: In nave—E. of E. respond of S. arcade, visible on both sides of wall, with moulded jambs and cinquefoiled ogee head, late 14th-century, now blocked. Sedilia: In chancel—sill of S.E. window carried down to form seat, splays and part of seat probably 15th-century, the rest modern. In S. aisle— sill of S.E. window carried down to form seat, part of seat, 14th-century, the rest modern. Miscellanea: In churchyard—three moulded stones, 14th-century.

Condition—Good, much restored.


a(2). Homestead Moat, S. of Clodmore Hill, ¾ mile W.N.W. of the church.

b(3). Wood Hall, house and moat, over ½ m. S.S.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are partly of brick and partly of plastered timber-framing; the roofs are tiled. The present house was built in 1652, on an irregular rectangular plan, but was much altered in the 18th century. Late in the 19th century, the walls were almost entirely re-faced, and the house was much altered and enlarged. The elevations are modern, except some 17th-century brickwork on the N. and W. sides.

Interior—On the ground floor, in the modern entrance porch, are three linen-fold panels of the 16th century. In the room at the S.E. corner of the building, is a stone fireplace of 1652, with moulded and panelled jambs and four-centred arch under a square head with panelled spandrels; the fireplace is flanked by pilasters, which, with the overmantel, are enriched with elaborate plaster strap-work. In the room, formerly the kitchen, is a large open fire-place, completely restored; over it is a massive early 16th-century beam, carved with foliage, dragons, grotesques, etc. and said to have come from Newland End Farm; the doorway between the former kitchen and the hall has moulded oak jambs and semi-circular arch under a square head; the arch has a central pendant; the date 1652 and shields of the Cutte arms are carved in the spandrels. The window of the staircase contains some small panels of 17th-century Dutch glass, representing figures and heraldic subjects; one panel is dated 1616, and another 1655. On the first floor, a modern overmantel encloses a late 16th or early 17th-century painted panel.

Part of a garden-wall, W. of the house, is of 17th-century brick.

The Moat, is very incomplete.

Condition—Of house, good, much altered.

Monuments (4–24).

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and covered with plaster; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Some of the buildings have old chimney-stacks, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.

Main Street, S. side

b(4). Cottage, two tenements, 180 yards S.S.W. of the church, with a modern third tenement added at the E. end.

b (5). House, now three tenements, 60 yards E. of (4).

b (6). The Axe and Compasses Inn, 160 yards E.S.E. of (5), was built c. 1700, but has been re-fronted with modern brick, and has a modern addition at the W. end.

N. side

b (7). Cottage, now a shop, 50 yards S. of the church, with a modern addition at the back.

b (8). Cottage, 20 yards S. of (4), is of L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the S. and W.

Condition—Bad, partly ruinous.

b (9). Cottage, two tenements, 30 yards S. of (8), has one original door of moulded battens.

b (10). The Green Man Inn, 50 yards S.E. of (9), is of late 16th or early 17th-century date, and has modern additions on the N. and S. sides. The original central chimney-stack has three square shafts on a rectangular base with splayed angles. Inside the building, one room has a wall covered with original panelling, now painted.

b (11). Cottage, 30 yards E. of (10), is of late 16th or early 17th-century date. The original central chimney-stack has grouped square shafts. The plaster on the walls is probably of 1699, the date on a gabled dormer at the back.

b (12). Cottages, a range of three, 200 yards S.E. of (11).

b (13). Cottage, E. of (12).

The Wicken Road, N. side

b (14). Daw's Farm, 500 yards S.E. of the church.

b (15). Cottage, two tenements, about 100 yards S.E. of (14), with modern additions at the E. end and at the back.

b (16). Severals, farmhouse, 520 yards E. of (15); it has been re-fronted with modern brick, and has a modern addition at the back. The original central chimney-stack is of cross-shaped plan.

The Wenden Road, W. side

b (17). House, 70 yards N. of the church. The vertical timber-framing of the walls is exposed in front and at the back, and has brick filling, partly original. At the E. end the upper storey projects. At the W. end is an addition, possibly of late 17th-century date. The original central chimney-stack has three attached shafts, all with diagonal pilasters.

b (18). Cottage, two tenements, at Hampits, on the N. side of the road, ¼ m. W. of the church.

a(19). Cottage, at Clodmore Hill, nearly 1 m. N.W. of the church, with a modern addition.


a (20). Cottage, at Morley Green, over 1 m. N.W. of the church, is of c. 1700, and has a modern addition at the N. end.

b (21). Great Becketts, farmhouse, ¾ m. N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics, and was built c. 1580; at the S.E. end is a modern addition. The timber-framing is exposed in the original S.E. gable. The original central chimney-stack has a square base with four octagonal shafts which have moulded caps and bases. Inside the building, the N.W. room has three walls covered with late 16th-century panelling, the upper rails and some of the panels are carved; the stone fireplace has semi-octagonal shafted jambs and a square head with a moulded entablature. The next room has a corner cupboard of c. 1700, and the room above it has a stone fireplace with moulded jambs and three-centred arch in a square head with a moulded entablature.

b (22). Little Becketts, three tenements, 180 yards N.W. of (21). On the E. side, on the first floor, is a small projecting window, probably original.

Condition—Very poor.

b (23). Hobs Aerie, farmhouse and barn, 750 yards N.E. of the church. The House was built originally on a rectangular plan, facing S.E.; an L-shaped addition was made at the back late in the 17th century, and in the 19th century a large addition was built in front of the original house. At the back, part of the wall is built of late 17th-century brick. The original central chimney-stack has indented angles. Inside the building, on the first floor, one room has a cupboard with double doors of early 17th-century date.

The Barn, W. of the house and probably contemporary with it, is of five bays with one aisle and a projecting entrance.

Condition—Of barn, poor.

b (24). Cottage, 300 yards N.W. of (23), with weather-boarded walls.


a (25). Moated Mound, or site of mill, W. of Chardwell Farm, 1 m. W. of the church. The mound is about 60 ft. in diameter at the base, and is surrounded, except on the N. side, by a narrow wet ditch.