An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1916.
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31. GREAT EASTON. (C.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xiv. S.E. (b)xv. S.W. (c)xxiii. N.E. (d)xxiv. N.W.)
Great Easton is a parish and small village about 2½ m. N.N.W. of Great Dunmow. The most important monuments are the mount and bailey castle (2), and the 15th-century house (8).
c (1). Parish Church of St. John, formerly of St. Giles, stands at the E. end of the village. The walls are of flint and pebble rubble with some Roman tiles; the dressings are of limestone and clunch; the roofs are tiled.
The Nave was built probably early in the 12th century, and the great thickness of the E. half of the side-walls suggests the former existence of a central tower, but there is no trace of the E. and W. arches. The present Chancel was built in the 13th century. The Bell-turret was erected c. 1800, and a brick wall built across the nave near the W. end to support it. The church was restored, and the chancel-arch and the South Porch were rebuilt in the 19th century.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (34 ft. by 22 ft.) has a modern E. window. The N. and S. walls have each two 13th-century lancet windows partly restored. The chancel-arch is modern.
The Nave (55½ ft. by 22½ ft. at the E. end and 25½ ft. at the W. end) has, cut in the E. half of the N. wall, two roughly pointed and plastered recesses; in the eastern recess is a late 16th-century window of two four-centred lights under a square head with sunk spandrels; the four-centred rear arch has a sunk tympanum. In the W. half of the N. wall is a modern window and further W. is the 13th-century N. doorway, now blocked; it has double-chamfered jambs and two-centred arch, with a moulded label and chamfered imposts; the chamfers have moulded stops above and below the imposts. In the S. wall are three windows; in the thick E. half of the wall is a 14th-century window of two cinquefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the rear arch is hollow-chamfered. The second window is in the W. half of the wall and is probably of the 16th-century; it is of two four-centred lights under a four-centred head; the third window is modern; further W., only visible externally, is a blocked window of early 12th-century date with rubble jambs. Below the third window is the early 12th-century S. doorway of two orders; the outer order of the jambs has detached shafts with plain bases and crude scalloped capitals; the inner order has edge-rolls, sunk at the top to form capitals; the semi-circular arch is moulded and springs from moulded imposts. In the W. wall is a 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery under a segmental-pointed head; the moulded label has a broken head-corbel at the apex and head-stops of cement; the internal and external reveals are moulded; the W. doorway is modern. The space W. of the modern wall across the nave now forms a vestibule, store room and staircase leading to the ringing-chamber. In the ceiling of the ringing-chamber, over the vestibule, is a moulded beam, and the modern bell-turret incorporates some woodwork probably of the 17th century.
The South Porch is modern and is now used as a vestry. The S. gable has 15th-century barge-boards, originally traceried, but now much weathered. The roof has a 15th-century cambered and moulded tie-beam with moulded braces, all now painted.
Fittings—Bells: five, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd by William Hall, 1665; 4th by Henry Jordan of London, 15th-century, inscribed "Nomen Magdalene Campana Geret Melodie"; 5th (cracked), by John Danyell, 15th-century, inscribed "In Multis Annis Resonet Campana Johannis" with the Royal arms. Brasses and Indents. Brasses: In chancel —(1) to Thomas Cecil, rector of the parish, 1627, inscription only. In nave—re-fixed on wood platform (2) to John Mead, of Duton Hill, 1614, inscription only. Indents: In nave—on Purbeck marble slab, (1) of small inscription plate; on same slab, (2) of brass (2). Monument and Floorslabs. Monument: In nave—on N. wall, to Ann Meade, 1758, Rebecca her sister, 1763, John Meade, 1689, and Sarah his wife, 1722. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to Jane (Scott) wife of—Levitte, 1641; (2) to George Scott, 1647, partly covered; (3) to Joseph Plume, rector of the parish, 1686, with shield of arms, (4) to Johanna, wife of George Scott, 1646; (5) to Dr. Thomas Leader, 1678. In nave—(6) to Jane, wife of John Meade, 1626, and John their eldest son, 1666; (7) to John Meade, 1710, with shield of arms. Piscina: In chancel— with pointed head and round drain, 13th-century. Plate: includes cup and small stand-paten both of 1634; stand-paten of 1686; large stand-salver of 1686, and flagon of 1712. Miscellanea: Set in S. wall of chancel—square stone with incised sundial.
c (2). Mount and Bailey Castle, in the grounds of Easton Hall. The well defined, flat-topped mount is 130 ft. in diameter at the base, 43 ft. in diameter at the summit, and is 21 ft. high. The dry ditch surrounding it is 45 ft. wide and 5 ft. deep. The S. arm of the ditch of the bailey remains with a short return towards the N.; it is about 34 ft. wide, and 5 ft. deep at the most complete section. A pond S.E. of the mount indicates the E. limit of the bailey. At the S.E. angle of the bailey is a small rectangular homestead moat of later construction than the bailey.
Condition—Of mount, fairly good, counterscarp of ditch denuded by cultivation; of bailey, incomplete.
a (3). Homestead Moat, at Moathouse Farm, 1½ m. N. of the church.
c (4). Easton Hall, barn and outbuildings, 60 yards S.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys, with attics and cellar. The walls are timber-framed and plastered, with some modern brickwork; the roofs are tiled. The plan is T-shaped, with the cross-wing at the S. end The W. arm of the cross-wing formed part of a 15th-century building, originally open to the roof; late in the 16th century it was divided into two storeys, and extended further W., and the rest of the house was added. The Elevations have no old features, except a late 16th-century dormer window on the N. side of the 15th-century wing. The late 16th-century central chimney-stack of the main block has grouped shafts, set diagonally on a rectangular base with a moulded capping.
Interior—On both floors many of the rooms and the cellar have stop-chamfered ceiling-beams of late 16th or early 17th-century date. At the E. end of the 15th-century wing is an original doorway of oak, with a four-centred head. The original roof of this wing is of two equal bays; the middle king-post truss has curved braces to the tie-beam and a central purlin; the tie-beam and king-post have been partly cut away for the 16th-century alterations; at each end the central purlin and a king-post with curved struts remain.
The Barn, E. of the house, is timber-framed, partly weather-boarded and partly plastered; the roof is tiled. The building is of late 16th or early 17th-century date, and of six bays. A range of timber-framed Outbuildings, N. of the house, is probably of early 17th-century date, and is of two storeys. The ground floor has chamfered ceilingbeams.
c (5). Cottage and moat, 400 yards E. of the church. The Cottage is of two storeys, timberframed and plastered; the roof is tiled. It probably formed part of a building extending further towards the S., and is of the 17th century. The central chimney-stack is original at the base. Inside the building one room has an open timber ceiling.
The Moat is complete.
d (6). Little Rakefairs, house and moat, 1¼ m. E.N.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys, timber-framed, partly weather-boarded and partly plastered; the roof is tiled. It was built, probably early in the 17th century, and has low modern additions at both ends. The central chimney-stack is original. Inside the building, the ground floor has chamfered ceiling-beams and wallposts. In the middle room is a wide open fireplace with corner seats.
The Moat is imperfect on the W. side.
Condition—Of house, good.
c (7). Bridgefoot Farm, house, 550 yards W.S.W. of the church. It is of two storeys, timberframed and covered with plaster; the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 16th century on an L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the W. and S. The main block was lengthened towards the E. in the 18th century, and has modern additions on the S. At the W. end of the W. wing the upper storey projects. The central chimney-stack of the same wing is of early 17th-century date, and has four diagonal shafts on a rectangular base, and at the E. end of the wing is an original chimney-stack with diagonal pilasters and a square base with a moulded capping. Inside the building, some of the rooms have exposed ceiling-beams, and the kitchen has also exposed joists and a wide open fireplace. At the top of the back staircase is an early 17th-century panelled door. The roof of the S. wing has braced purlins.
c (8). House, now two tenements, 130 yards E.N.E. of (7), is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 15th century on an H-shaped plan facing N.; the Hall formed the middle block with the Buttery wing on the W. and the Solar wing on the E. The W. wing has a modern extension at the S. end.
The building is interesting as a complete mediæval house, and retains the original traceried barge-boards and other details.
Elevations—On the N. front the wings have each a gable with original foiled and traceried barge-boards, all somewhat weathered; the verge-mouldings are embattled. Both wings of the upper storey originally projected, but that of the W. wing has been under-built in modern brick. The other elevations have no old features.
Interior—On the ground floor the original doorway opening to the Screens has an ogee lintel of oak, visible inside. The passage representing the Screens has, in the E. wall, two original doorways, now blocked; in the W. wall is a 17th-century doorway. The middle room has a 17th-century chamfered ceiling-beam; in the passage S. of it is a curved brace, and at the W. end of the passage is an original doorway with a three-centred arched lintel. The Solar wing has on the ground floor a heavy chamfered ceiling-beam, and a staircase of solid oak balks, probably original. The roof is of two bays and has an original king-post truss with four-way struts; the tie-beam has curved braces. In the Buttery wing the ground floor has an original open timber ceiling, and in the E. wall are traces of vertical wavy ornament.
The following buildings, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century, and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; 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.
The Main Street, N. side
c (9). House, 220 yards W. of the church, was built originally on an L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the W. and S., now much altered.
c (10). The Swan Inn, 70 yards E. of (9), has traces of 15th-century work in the roof, and was built possibly at that date. It was altered in the 17th century, and has modern additions at the back. Inside the building, on the ground floor, is an oak doorway with a segmental head, possibly of 15th or early 16th-century date. On the first floor, at the W. end of the house, a cambered and stop-chamfered tie-beam, and a central purlin with mortices of former braces are exposed, while at the E. end the thin braces which probably helped to support a central purlin are still visible. The roof of the middle part of the house is of late 17th-century date.
c (11). Cottage, now two tenements, 70 yards N.W. of the church, with a low modern addition at the back. The front is partly weather-boarded and has original oak-mullioned windows each of four lights.
c (12). Cottage, now two tenements, 100 yards W. of the church, was built in the 15th century, but much altered probably late in the 17th century. On the S. front the upper storey originally projected, but has been under-built, although the original wall of the ground floor was retained when the new wall was built. Inside the building, the roof has an original king-post truss, but the struts and one curved brace of the tie-beam are missing.
c (13). Andrew's Farm, house, nearly 1 m. E. of the church. The N. end of the house is probably of late 15th or early 16th-century date; in the 17th century it was extended towards the S. and a wing added on the E. In the S. wall of the E. wing is a 17th-century window of four lights with moulded oak mullions and an ornamental casement-fastener. Inside the building, on the first floor, is a heavy chamfered tie-beam on shaped wall-posts, with the mortices of former curved braces.
c (14). Cottage, now two tenements, 50 yards S.W. of (13).
c (15). Cottage, now two tenements, 200 yards E. of (6), with modern additions at both ends.
d (16). Cottage, nearly 2 m. N.E. of the church.
d (17). The Hyde Farm, house, 140 yards E. of (16), much altered. At the W. end of the S. front the gabled upper storey projects.
d (18). Cottage, 40 yards S. of (17). The plan is L-shaped, with the wings extending towards the N. and W.
b (19). Hide End Farm, house, 2 m. N.E. of the church.
c (20). Cottage, on the W. side of the Thaxted road, about 1½ m. N.N.E. of the church.
c (21). Greenarbour Farm, house, 1 m. N.N.E. of the church. It was probably originally of L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the N.E. and N.W.; a modern addition makes the plan of half-H-shape. Inside the building, on the ground floor, is a little early 17th-century panelling, and at the back is an oak doorway with a roughly four-centred head.
c (22). Blamster Hall, 1 m. N.N.E. of the church; has been much altered; very little of the original building remains.
Duton Hill, N. side
c (23). Warrens Farm, house, nearly 1 m. N. of the church. It was built probably late in the 16th century; it was altered and a staircase-wing added early in the 17th century.
The staircase is noteworthy.
The large central chimney-stack is original and has four octagonal shafts with moulded bases on a rectangular base. Inside the building are two original fireplaces, now blocked; they are of stone, with stop-chamfered jambs and four-centred heads; one of the heads is shaped and carved. On the ground floor are three cupboard-doors of panelled oak, and a modern bay window is lined with 17th-century panelling; a wall-post in the S. room is said to bear the date 1632, but the date is now hidden. On the first floor is a panelled oak door with cock's-head hinges. The early 17th-century well-staircase has pilaster balusters of the Ionic order, with raking mouldings, newels with tall moulded vases, and moulded hand-rails.
c (24). Cottage, three tenements, 150 yards W. of (23).
c (25). Cottage, now three tenements, 70 yards S.E. of (24). The original central chimney-stack has four attached shafts, set diagonally.