Little Bardfield

Pages 170-172

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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In this section


(O.S. 6 in. (a)xv. N.W. (b)xv. N.E. (c)xv. S.W.)

Little Bardfield is a parish and village about 8½ m. E.S.E. of Saffron Walden. The Church is the most important monument.


c (1). Parish Church of St. Katherine stands in the middle of the parish. The walls are of flint and pebble rubble, with dressings partly of clunch; some tiles in the older walls are possibly Roman; the roofs are tiled. The Nave and West Tower are of pre-Conquest date, and were built probably in the 11th century. The Chancel was rebuilt at some uncertain date, and has only modern details of 14th-century type. In the 15th century the chancel-arch and tower-arch were rebuilt, and the South Porch was added. The church was restored in the 19th century, the North Vestry and South Organ-chamber are modern, and the South Porch has been largely rebuilt.

The large W. tower is a striking example of pre-Conquest work.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (19 ft. by 16 ft.) is without worked quoins, and has a modern E. window. In the N. wall is a modern doorway, and in the S. wall a modern archway. The two-centred chancel-arch is probably of late 14th or early 15th-century date, and is of two moulded orders; the responds are double-chamfered, and the inner order has moulded capitals; the bases have been altered.

The South Organ-chamber is modern, but the western window in the S. wall and the window in the W. wall have apparently some old material re-cut and re-set.

The Nave (33½ ft. by 20 ft.) has, in the N. wall, three windows; the easternmost is a blocked round-headed window, probably of pre-Conquest date; the second window is of the 14th century and of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery under a segmental-pointed head, and a moulded label; the rear arch is moulded; the 15th-century westernmost window is of two cinquefoiled lights under a segmental-pointed head, externally moulded; below it are traces of a blocked N. doorway. In the S. wall are two windows; the 14th-century eastern window is similar to the second window in the N. wall, but has moulded internal splays, and the label has a disc-stop; the pre-Conquest western window, now blocked, has double splayed jambs and round head; below it is the 15th-century S. doorway, much restored; it has moulded jambs and two-centred arch under a square head with sunk traceried spandrels and a moulded label.

Little Bardfield, Parish Church of St. Katharine

The West Tower (see Plate, p. 171) is of five stages divided by rubble string-courses, and is of pre-Conquest date; the embattled parapet, and the small spire covered with slate, are modern. The 15th-century tower-arch is two-centred and of two moulded orders; the responds are of two chamfered orders, and the inner order has moulded capitals. The W. window is modern, and below it are traces of a blocked W. doorway. The second stage is included in the internal ground-storey, and has no openings. The N.S. and W. walls of the third stage have each two narrow round-headed windows, all without dressings. The fourth stage has, in each wall, a window of two round-headed lights with a rubble division between them. The fifth stage has two round-headed windows in each wall, but those in the N. and E. walls are blocked; in the N. wall is also a modern window.

The South Porch has a 15th-century outer entrance, much restored, with moulded jambs and two-centred arch, traceried internal and external spandrels, and a moulded label.

The roof of the nave has moulded and cambered tie-beams and moulded wall-plates, possibly of late 14th-century date. The ground-storey of the tower has a late 16th or early 17th-century moulded ceiling-beam with curved braces. The third stage has two 17th-century ceiling-beams with curved braces.

Fittings—Bells: two; 1st by William Laud, 1624; 2nd probably by John Bird, 14th or 15th-century, inscribed "Sum Rosa Pulsata Mundi Katerina Vocata"; bell-frame, for four bells, old. Chest: In organ-chamber, of panelled oak, inlaid, early 17th-century. Monument: In nave—on S. wall, sunk and moulded panel, with achievement of arms, late 16th or early 17th-century. Organ and Organ-case: organ, said to be by Renatus Harris; case of oak, middle part with carved and pierced frieze and rails, moulded cornice, side-wings on semi-circular brackets, enriched with cherub-heads; late 17th or early 18th-century. Seating: In chancel—incorporated in modern stall-front, two bench-ends with carved popeys, early 16th-century, bench made up of fluted rails, twisted legs, etc., 17th-century.

Condition—Fairly good.


c (2). Little Bardfield Hall, W.S.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. The walls are of plastered timber-framing, and the roofs are tiled. It was built late in the 16th century. on an Lshaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.E. and N. W., and with a small staircase projection in the angle between the wings. In the 18th century the N.E. wing was extended to its present length, and a portico was added to the main entrance; modern additions on the N.W. side make the present plan roughly rectangular.

Interior:—In the original block are chamfered ceiling-beams, and one room in the upper storey is lined with 16th-century oak panelling. From the first floor to the attic is an original staircase, which has square newels with moulded tops and flat pilaster balusters, moulded to follow the rake of the stairs, moulded handrail and string.


Monuments (3–10).

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

Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.

a (3). The Hydes, house, about 1 m. N.W. of the church, was built in the middle of the 16th century. on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the E. and S.; in the 19th century the upper storey was much altered and a parapet was added; there are also modern additions at the S. end of the S. wing and on the S. side of the E. wing. On the S. elevation, at the E. end, is an original chimney-stack, which has two octagonal shafts on a rectangular base, with a moulded capping and moulded offsets at a lower level. Inside the building, on the ground floor of the E. wing, are moulded ceiling-beams with carved stops.

a (4). Wainsford's Farm, house, 1,000 yards E.N.E. of the church, was built in the 16th century, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the E. and N., the N. wing being possibly of slightly earlier date than the E. wing. In the 17th century a wing was added to the N. side of the E. wing, and at some uncertain period the upper storey of the original N. wing was removed. There are modern additions on the W. side of the E. wing, and at the E. end of the N. wing, and the S. front has been re-faced with modern brick. The central chimney-stack is of the 16th century, and has grouped diagonal shafts on a rectangular base, with a moulded capping. In the original N. wing there are indications that the S. half of the former upper storey projected. Inside the building, the ground floor of the E. wing has original moulded ceiling-beams. In the N. wing is an early 16th-century doorway with a three-centred head, blocked by the later 16th-century chimney-stack.

a (5). The Chequers, house, nearly ¾ m. E.N.E. of the church, was built probably in 1609, but has a modern addition at the back. In the middle of the E. front is a small porch and staircase wing, of which the upper storey and the gable project in front; carved on the bressumer of the gable is "P L Anno Dom 1609," and in the plaster is inscribed "H S 1785," doubtless the date of the plaster-work. The main doorway has a moulded oak frame, and the door has ornamental straphinges, all probably of the 15th century, re-set. The S. gable has old barge-boards, carved with a zigzag ornament. Inside the building, in the modern addition, is a moulded battened door of the 17th century, re-hung.

b (6). Copford Hall, about 1 m. E.N.E. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.W. and N.E.; the N.W. wing is of late 16th or early 17th-century date, and the N.E. wing of slightly later date. There are modern additions on the N.E. side of the N.W. wing and at the end of the N.E. wing. Inside the building, a room in the N.E. wing is lined with early 17th-century panelling, re-set.

c (7). Cracknell's Farm, house, 5/8 m. E.S.E. of the church, with a modern addition on the N. side.

c (8). Markswood Farm, house, now three tenements, 1,000 yards S.S.W. of the church, was built on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.E. and S.E.; 18th-century additions made the plan quadrangular, and there is a modern wing on the S.W. side. The roof of the original block was heightened in the 19th century, and is partly covered with slate. Inside the building, a room in the original block has a dado made up of early 17th-century panelling.


c (9). Coft Hall, 1½ m. S.S.E. of the church, with a modern addition at the S.W. end. The roof has been raised. Inside the building, one room has a doorway with an arched wooden head, probably original.

c (10). Cottage, now two tenements, 200 yards S.W. of (9).