Pages 191-195

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. viii. N.E.)

Littlebury is a parish and village on the left bank of the Cam, about 1½ m. N.W. of Saffron Walden. The Ring Hill Camp, the Church, and Gate House Farm are the principal monuments.


(1). Contour Camp, on Ring Hill, nearly ¾ m. S. of the church, is at the top of the hill, the ground dropping on all sides except the N.W., where it is level. The defences, which are considerably strengthened by the natural lie of the ground, consist of a wide ditch with traces here and there of an internal rampart. The outline of the work is complete, but the counterscarp of the ditch is partly obliterated. There are four gaps in the defences, but the original entrance cannot be identified. The ditch varies in size, but is generally about 50 feet wide and 15 feet deep from the summit of the scarp and 3 feet from the summit of the counterscarp. The area enclosed is about 16½ acres (see Plan, p. 193).

Condition—Fairly good; the site is thickly planted.


(2). Parish Church of the Holy Trinity stands at the S. end of the village. The walls are built of flint rubble and the roofs are covered with tiles. The development of the church has been much obscured by modern rebuilding, but the Nave is probably of c. 1200. The North Aisle and South Transept were added c. 1225, and about the middle of the 13th century the South Aisle was added and the S. transept thrown into it. The West Tower was built c. 1325, and the nave slightly lengthened. Early in the 16th century the North and South Porches were added. In the 19th century the Chancel was rebuilt, the North Vestry and Organ-chamber were added, the clearstorey was rebuilt and the aisles were reconstructed.

The early 16th-century font-case is noteworthy as a mediæval fitting, of which there are several examples in this county, but elsewhere they are uncommon.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (38½ ft. by 19½ ft.) is modern.

The Nave (45½ ft. by 15½ ft.) has a N. arcade of c. 1225, consisting of three unequal bays increasing in span from E. to W., the columns are circular with plain bell-capitals and moulded bases; the responds have similar half-columns, but are semi-octagonal; the two-centred arches are of two orders, the outer order square and the inner order chamfered; the western arch was widened and made unsymmetrical in the 14th century, when the W. respond was reconstructed with the old materials. The S. arcade is of three bays and spaced in the same way as the N. arcade; the eastern arch and respond are of the same date and similar detail to the N. arcade, and formerly opened into the S. transept; the eastern pier is a double respond, and has on the E. face a mid 13th-century semi-circular shaft with a plain capital and moulded base; on the W. face there is a similar shaft with octagonal upper members to the capital and an octagonal sub-base; the two western arches are of mid 13th-century date, two-centred and of two slightly chamfered orders; the column is octagonal with a plain capital and base, and the W. respond has a semi-circular half-column against it; the western bay was widened in the 14th century, in the same way as the corresponding bay on the N. side. The clearstorey is modern.

The North Aisle (11½ ft. wide) extends to the W. face of the tower, and has in the E. wall a modern arch opening into the organ-chamber. In the N. wall are two modern windows, and further W. a two-centred N. doorway of c. 1225; it is of two chamfered orders, the inner order continuous and the outer order resting on circular engaged shafts with moulded capitals and bases, all much restored. In the W. wall is a modern window.

The South Aisle (11½ ft. wide) extends to the W. face of the tower and has a modern E. window. In the S. wall are three modern windows. Between the two western windows is the round-headed S. doorway of c. 1200, re-set about the middle of the 13th century (see Plate, p. 192); the arch is of two moulded orders and the jambs have each two shafts with moulded bases of mid 13th-century date; the capitals of the E. jamb are carved with stiff-leaf foliage and those of the W. jamb with water-leaf foliage. In the W. wall is a modern window. In the N.W. corner of the aisle is the stair-turret of the tower.

The West Tower (14 ft. square) is of three stages with an embattled parapet and grotesque gargoyles, western buttresses and a S.W. stair-turret with an entrance in the S. aisle. The tower is entirely of early 14th-century date, except the turret, which is carried up to the second stage and is apparently of the 15th century. The two-centred tower-arch is of three chamfered orders, and the responds have semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The W. window, externally of three chamfered orders, is of two trefoiled lights with leaf tracery in a two-centred head. In the N. wall and in the S. wall of the second stage is a single-light window with a trefoiled head. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head.

The North Porch is of early 15th-century date and has square pinnacles at the angles, set diagonally, and with embattled cresting. There is an engaged shaft in each internal angle with moulded bases and capitals supporting the springers of a fan-vault which was apparently never completed; the moulded wall-ribs remain, with five ribs in each springer. The two-centred entrance archway is of two moulded orders, the outer order continuous and the inner order resting on engaged shafts with moulded capitals and bases; above the haunches of the arch on the external face is cusped panelling, which forms an obtuse triangular head. In the E. and W. walls are windows with moulded reveals, each of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head.

The South Porch is of the same date, dimensions, design and detail as the N. porch.

Fittings—Bells: six and a clock bell; clock bell by John Tonne, 16th-century. Brasses: In N. aisle—on E. wall, on oak board, (1) of civilian, c. 1480, in long robe, with large purse-bag, and liripipe hat on shoulder; (2) of priest, c. 1510, in mass vestments, with chalice and wafer. In S. aisle— on S. wall, on oak boards, (3) of civilian and wife, early 16th-century, man in fur robe, woman in pedimental head-dress; (4) of civilian, c. 1520, crude local workmanship; (5) of Anne (Perkin) wife of Thomas Byrd, 1624, figure in high-crowned hat, ruff, etc., and inscription; on tower-turret— on E. wall, (6) to James Edwards, bailiff (satelles) of Hadstock, Hadham and Littlebury, 1522, died of the plague, inscription only. In S. aisle—on N. or tower-wall, (7) of Jane (Poulton) wife of Henry Bradburye, 1578, figure in Elizabethan costume, and inscription. Chairs: In vestry—two, with arms, twisted posts and legs, upholstered seats and cane backs, carved and ornamented, late 17th century. Chest: In N. aisle—plain, iron-bound, probably 16th-century. Door: In N. doorway— with moulded battens and rails and small wicket, rail forming head of wicket, carved with two pairs of shears, 15th-century. Font and Font-case. Font: with square bowl, chamfered to octagonal shape, on central shaft and four angle-shafts with crude capitals and bases, late 13th-century. Font-case: enclosing font, of oak linenfold panelling, with double doors, hinges with crossed swords, hammer, the letters I H C, etc., carved and moulded cornice, pyramidal top, crocketted, buttressed and pinnacled and surmounted by a figure of Christ, early 16th-century, (see Plate. p. 193). Lectern: with buttressed stem, concave hexagonal moulded base, with a course of pierced quatrefoils, 15th-century, desk modern. Plate: includes a cup of 1626. Seating: In organ-chamber—bench with shaped and fluted apron, early 17th-century.

Condition—Good, much altered and partly rebuilt.

Homestead Moats.

(3). W. of Bordeaux Farm, about 1½ m. N.N.W. of the church, rectangular, with traces of another enclosure on the N.E.

(4). In Howe Wood, 1½ m. W. of the church, rectangular, with a fishpond on the N.E.

Monuments (5–25).

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

Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.

(5). The Vicarage, N. of the church, is of two storeys with attics, and was probably built about the middle of the 16th century. It has been much altered and there is a large modern addition on the E. side. Inside the building, the upper storey appears to have been formerly open to the roof, and at the S. end is a moulded tie-beam. The main staircase is of the 17th century and has a close string, moulded hand-rail, and turned balusters.

Ring Hill Camp, Littlebury

Main Road, W. side

(6). Granta House, W. of the church, is probably faced with plastered brickwork; the roofs are covered with slate. The house was built at the end of the 16th century, but was almost completely rebuilt early in the 19th century. The original plan was probably L-shaped. Inside the building, in a pantry, are two moulded beams, and in a room in the N.E. angle is some painted panelling of late 16th-century date, re-set.

(7). Cottage, now three tenements, 100 yards N. of (6). On the E. front the upper storey projects.

(8). Cottage, now two tenements, N. of (7), is of L-shaped plan with the wings projecting towards the S. and W.

(9). Cottage, now three tenements, N. of (8), with an 18th-century addition at the back.


(10). Gate House Farm, house, N.W. of (9), was built about the middle of the 16th century, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and W. Both the front and back have a gable at each end, and the roof is brought down low between them; in the middle is a projecting gabled dormer. The original chimney-stacks have square shafts set diagonally.

Interior:—The plan is of the usual Hall-type with the Hall (of one storey) in the middle, a passage, corresponding to the Screens, a Buttery at the N. end and a Solar at the S. end. The W. wing forms out-houses. On the ground floor in the W. room is an original stone fireplace with a moulded three-centred opening set in a square head, and flanked by semi-octagonal bastard-Gothic pilasters, with moulded capitals and bases, supporting a moulded cornice. On the first floor are two original fireplaces with segmental-headed openings and plain moulded cornices.

In the yard is a small weathered cube of stone, probably the base of a cross, but not in situ. It is of early 16th-century date and has on two sides a shallow niche, each with two kneeling figures, and on the other two sides a coarse foliated boss and a heart apparently pierced by a dagger.


S. side

(11). Cottage, about 140 yards N.N.E. of the church. On the N. front the upper storey projects and has plain curved brackets.

(12). Cottage, 70 yards E.N.E. of (11), with a small projecting wing at the back. It may be of mediæval origin, but has been completely altered and was probably rebuilt late in the 17th century. In front there is a late 17th-century string course of modelled fruit and flowers. Inside the building, on the first floor is a cambered tie-beam with traces of angle-braces.

(13). House, now two tenements, behind the Post Office, 40 yards E. of (12). The upper storey projects on the E. side.

N. side

(14). Cottage, now two tenements, nearly opposite (12), with a later addition at the back. On the S. front the upper storey projects on three plain curved brackets.

The Walden Road, S. side

(15). Cottage, now two tenements, 220 yards N.N.E. of the church. In front and at the back, part of the upper storey projects and is gabled.

N. side

(16). Cottage, now two tenements, nearly opposite (15), largely rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the W. end of the S. front the upper storey projects and is gabled.

(17). House, now three tenements, E. of (16), was probably built c. 1600, and has 17th and 18th-century additions. The plan is of irregular shape with N. and S. wings. The upper storey projects at the W. end of the front, and one chimney-stack has original pilasters.


(18). Rectory Farm, house, 500 yards N.N.E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. The walls have been faced with modern brickwork. The original plan was probably of half-H-shape, but has been altered by additions. Inside the building, on the first floor, is an original beam with angle-braces.

Catmere End

(19). House, on the S. side of the road, 1½ m. W. of the church, with a modern addition at the back. On the N. front the upper storey projects.

Littlebury Green, N. side

(20). Catlin's Farm, house, 1¾ m. W.S.W. of the church, was built c. 1600, but has been largely rebuilt in the 19th century. The original central chimney-stack has diagonal pilasters and a modern top.

(21). Wilford's Farm, house, ¼ m. W.S.W. of (20), was built c. 1600, but has been much restored and altered. The original chimney-stack has four octagonal shafts.

S. side

(22). Cottage, 80 yards S.S.W. of (21), with small modern additions at each end.

(23). Green Farm, house, and barns, 150 yards E. of (22). The House was probably built c. 1600, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending E. and N. At the end of the N. wing is a barn, apparently of late 17th-century date and there are other 17th and 18th-century additions. One original chimney-stack has diagonal pilasters and another stack has one square and two octagonal shafts.

The two Barns N.E. of the house have walls partly weather-boarded, and are probably of the same date as the house.

(24) and (25). Stables and Timber Store-house belonging to Audley End, Saffron Walden, are in this parish, but are described with the house (see Saffron Walden, p. 238).