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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, 'Berden', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West, (London, 1916) pp. 21-26. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

. "Berden", in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West, (London, 1916) 21-26. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

. "Berden", An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West, (London, 1916). 21-26. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

In this section

9. BERDEN. (A.c.)

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

Berden is a small parish, and the village is about 5½ m. N. of Bishop's Stortford, on the W. border of the county. Berden Hall and Berden Priory are interesting secular monuments of the 16th century.


b (1). Parish Church of St. Nicholas stands on the W. side of the village. The walls are built of flint rubble with dressings of clunch and limestone; the roofs are tiled. The Nave is the earliest part of the existing structure, and has remains of windows now blocked, probably of the 12th century. The North Transept was added early in the 13th century, and c. 1270 the Chancel was rebuilt and the South Transept added. The arch opening into the N. transept was widened c. 1350. In the 15th century the nave was shortened at the W. end, and the West Tower was built. In 1868 the eastern part of the chancel and the W. wall of the S. transept were rebuilt, the South Porch was added, and the church generally restored.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (23¾ ft. by 17 ft.) has an E. window, entirely modern, except the capital of the attached shaft of the internal N. splay, which is of c. 1270, carved with a woman's head and stiff-leaf foliage. In the N. wall are two windows of c. 1270, the eastern has been much restored, and is of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head, all richly moulded; the jambs and mullions have shafts with moulded bases and foliated capitals; the internal splays have similar attached shafts carved with foliage and heads; the rear each has a moulded label continued along the wall as a string-course; the western window is a single lancet-light with moulded and rebated jambs and head, and moulded internal and external labels; the internal splays and rear arch are hollow-chamfered; the sill is modern, but the original sill is still in situ below it, and lower down on the wall was a string-course, now hacked off. Between the windows is a doorway of the same date, much restored; the external jambs and two-centred head are moulded, the internal jambs and rear arch are hollow-chamfered, and the internal and external labels are plain; the internal label has, on the W. side, a carved head-stop, and, on the E. side, is continued down to a modern string-course. In the S. wall are two windows of the same date and design as those in the N. wall; the eastern window has been much restored, and the western slightly restored; the sill of the western window has apparently been raised, and below it was a string-course, now hacked off flush with the wall. The two-centred chancel-arch is of c. 1270, and of two hollow-chamfered orders, with a plain label and head-stops on the E. and W. faces, but the label and stops on the W. face are modern; the hollow-chamfered responds have attached semi-circular shafts with moulded bases, and capitals with stiff-leaf foliage, partly restored. On each side of the chancel arch is a modern squint with a gabled label on the E. face.

Berden, Parish Church of St. Nicholas

The Nave (44½ ft. by 19¾ ft.) has, at the W. angle, quoins of long-and-short work of doubtful date. In the N. wall, at the E. end, is a two-centred drop-arch of two chamfered orders, and of early 13th-century material, re-used when the arch was rebuilt and widened in the 14th century; the responds were again rebuilt in the 19th century, and have semi-octagonal attached shafts with 14th-century moulded capitals. W. of the arch is a window, entirely modern, except the opening, and at the W. end of the wall is a blocked 12th-century window only visible inside, and half cut away by the wall of the tower. In the S wall, towards the E. end, is a 13th-century arch, two-centred and of one chamfered order; the square responds have modern shafts on the N. side, and are chamfered on the S. side; further W. is a late 15th-century window, of three cinquefoiled lights under a four-centred head; it has some 13th-century material re-used in the internal splays, and has been partly restored. W. of the window is the 14th-century S. doorway with moulded jambs, two-centred arch, and a moulded label; at the W. end of the wall is part of a blocked 12th-century window similar to that in the N. wall; E. of the transept-arch is the 15th-century doorway to the former rood-loft, now blocked; the jambs and four-centred head are chamfered.

The North Transept (18½ ft. by 15½ ft.) has, in the E. wall, a window entirely modern, except the 14th-century opening. In the N. wall is a window similar to that in the E. wall. Further W. is a 13th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred arch.

The South Transept (18 ft. by 19 ft.) has, in the E. wall, a 14th-century window, partly restored, and of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a square head. In the N. wall, at the E. end, one stone jamb of the former opening into the rood-loft is visible. In the S. wall is a 14th-century window, partly restored, and of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head. Further W. the external plinth is stopped and returned on each side of a blank wall space, probably indicating the position of a former doorway.

The West Tower (12 ft. by 11 ft. average) is of three stages, with a modern embattled parapet and a pyramidal roof. The 15th-century tower-arch is two-centred and moulded; the moulded responds have semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The 15th-century W. doorway has been restored and has moulded jambs and two-centred arch, with a square moulded label and quatrefoiled spandrels; the W. window, also of the 15th-century, and restored, is of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head. The second stage has, in the W. wall, a small single-light window with double-chamfered jambs and two-centred head, possibly of the 15th century; over the apex is a round stone, carved with a four-leafed flower. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a 15th-century window, partly restored, and of two cinquefoiled lights in a four-centred head, with a moulded label.

The Roof of the N. transept is possibly of the 16th century; it is of two bays, and a modern tie-beam has been inserted under the middle and northern trusses; the king-post is above the collar-beam. The late 15th-century roof of the S. transept is of two bays, each with curved and chamfered brackets and curved principals supporting the collar-beam, which in the middle truss has a carved leopard's head on the soffit; the wall-plates are moulded, and there are two tiers of wind-braces.

Fittings—Bells: four; 1st by W. and P. Wightman, 1695; 2nd, 1613 possibly by J. Keene; 3rd, by Robert Oldfield, 1613. Bell-frame, old. Brasses: In chancel—in N.E. corner, (1) of Ann, wife of Thomas Thompson, 1607, figures of man in civilian dress, and woman, nine sons and four daughters, with two inscriptions and two shields of arms. In N. transept—in N.E. corner, on modern brick tomb, (2) of William Turnor, 1473, and Margaret and Margery, his wives, figures of man in fur-edged gown, with belt and bag, and of two women in belted dresses and veiled head-dresses, with inscription and two inscribed scrolls, indents of two shields and figures of children. Communion Table: In S. transept—with twisted legs, plain rails and small shaped brackets, early 18th-century. Door: In S. transept—loose, brought from Berden Hall, with six linen-fold panels and moulded frame, early 16th-century. Locker; In S. transept—in S. wall, small square recess, possibly locker. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monument: In chancel—on S. wall, (1) to Thomas Aldersaie, 1598, marble and alabaster tablet, with pilaster on each side, and coat of arms at the top. In N. transept—(2) coffin-lid, of stone, with beaded edges and remains of raised cross, defaced and broken, 13th-century; (3) built into E. wall as bracket, upside down, end of coffin lid, of Purbeck marble, with hollow-chamfered edges and base of cross, 13th-century. Floor-slabs: In chancel—at E. end, (1) to Mary (Aldersey), 1678, wife, first of Thomas Westrowe, secondly of Sir Norton Knatchbull, and thirdly of Sir Edward Scott, with three coats of arms. In nave —(2) to Thomasine, wife of Thomas Meade, 1656, much defaced. In N. transept—(3) to Thomas, son of Richard Meade, of Berden, 1653. In S. transept—(4) to Thomas Grove, 1669, Margaret, his daughter, and to four grandchildren. Panelling: In S. transept—brought from Berden Hall, partition forming small vestry, early 17th-century. Piscinæ: In chancel—with moulded jambs and two-centred head, projecting sill, and quatrefoil drain, 14th-century. In S. transept, in S. wall, with moulded jambs and trefoiled two-centred head, quatrefoil drain, re-cut, at apex carved head of woman in wimple, with small finial above it, 14th-century. Plate: includes elaborate pear-shaped cup of 1602, of secular origin, silver-gilt, with twisted tree-trunk stem, chased bowl, and cover with steeple-top, having a shield of arms; silver-gilt paten of elaborate repoussé work, foreign, secular, 17th-century, inscribed, "Berden Parish, 1768." Pulpit: of oak, octagonal, two sides open, other sides with ornamental panels, second half of 17th century. Screen: In chancel—part, now used as back of organist's seat, one bay of base with three close panels, having cinquefoiled heads and carved spandrels, at the foot of each panel, two quatrefoiled squares, posts at each end, with attached buttresses, 15th-century, rails, modern. Seating: In N. transept—part of three panelled standards, with moulded heads, also moulded upper rails of two seats, 16th-century, made up with modern work. Stoup: In S. porch—E. of doorway, pointed recess with broken round basin, 15th-century. Miscellanea: In S. transept—small cupboard-door with arched panel and two small ornamental hinges, 17th-century, brought from Brick House, Berden. On W. face of chancel-arch—on N. side, below springing line, incised inscription in Lombardic capitals 'Gefrai Limathun' (Geoffrey the Mason), late 13th-century.



b (2). Fortified Mount, at Stock's Farm, ½ m. S.S.E. of the church. The mount, which is about 10 feet high and 123 feet in diameter at the base, is surrounded by a ditch, now partly dry, and has a well defined rampart round the summit.

Condition—Fairly good.

b (3). Berden Hall house, and granary, 120 yards S. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics and a cellar; the walls are of red brick, and the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1580, on a rectangular plan with two wings projecting towards the W. A small addition was made to the S.W. wing in the 17th century, when the windows throughout the house were altered.

The house is a good example of 16th-century brickwork, and the original oak staircase is especially noteworthy.

Berden Hall, Plan

Elevations—The walls are all finished with a plain plinth, and have raised bands between the storeys. On each side of the house there are three gables, all with moulded copings and finials, except the middle gable on the W. side, which has a plain verge; some of the finials have been restored, and many of the windows have modern frames. The 17th-century window-frames in the two lower storeys are solid, and have each a mullion and transom. On the E. Front the central doorway has a chamfered pilaster on each side, and a chamfered three-centred arch with a square moulded label; the original panelled door has moulded and nail-studded rails and muntins, and a drop-handle; on the first floor, between the two middle windows, is a sunk elliptical panel with chamfered edges; three rain-water heads of lead are each dated 1655, and have a quartered coat of arms. On the S. Elevation (see Plate, p. xxiv) the doorway and door are similar to those on the E. front. The W. Elevation has, leading to the cellar, a doorway similar to those already described, with remains of an original panelled door; above the doorway is a large window lighting the staircase. There are four large chimney-stacks; the two on the E. have each four octagonal shafts, modern at the top; the two plain stacks on the W. have been restored.

Interior:—The door of a cupboard on the ground floor and some of the doors on the first floor are original, and of richly moulded battens. The dining room (see plan, A) has an early 17th-century over-mantel, divided into two bays by panelled pilasters; each bay has an oval panel with raised key-blocks; the screen between the dining-room and passage has early 17th-century panelling, and a frieze enriched on the N. side with narrow raised cartouches. The original staircase (see plan, B) up to the first floor is six feet wide, and has square newels with moulded tops, a moulded hand-rail and square pierced pilaster-balusters; the spaces between the balusters are filled with pierced arabesque work. In the attics are four original fireplaces with chamfered jambs and three-centred heads of plastered brick; there is also an original door of battens.

The Granary stands N.E. of the house, and is of the same date, but has been restored; it is a rectangular building of two storeys. The walls are of brick, with a plain plinth, and the S. gable is stepped. Inside the building, the rooms on the ground floor have old chamfered ceiling-beams and plain joists.

Condition—Good, some walls overgrown with ivy.

a(4). Berden Priory, house, well-house and maltings, ½ m. N.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys, with attics and a cellar; the walls are timber-framed, and covered with plaster; the roofs are tiled. It stands on the site of a hospital or priory of Austin Canons, founded in the 12th century. There are no monastic remains in situ, but stone coffins dug up near the house are now preserved in the Saffron Walden Museum. The existing house was built late in the 16th century, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the W. and N.; the kitchen was added in the angle between the wings probably in the 17th century, and a further small addition was made on the N. side.

Elevations—On the S. Front the overhanging upper storey has a moulded oak bressumer; the threshold of the door is formed of two mediæval coffin-lids of stone. The E. Elevation has, on the first floor, an original window of two lights with a moulded frame and mullion; it is blocked below the transom; the original chimney-stack at the E. end has grouped shafts with diagonal pilasters, and a rectangular base. The chimney-stack at the W. end of the house has two original shafts set diagonally, and a third shaft added at a later date.

Interior:—On the ground floor, in the W. wing, one room has walls covered with 17th-century panelling, and in the N. wing is a little linen-fold panelling, not in situ. Incorporated in the walls of the cellar are some stones with traces of moulding, probably mediæval. The upper part of the staircase has a circular newel of oak. On the first floor, some of the doors are of oak battens, two rooms have 17th-century panelling, and a room on the S. front has, in the window, a shield of Dale of Clavering, in late 16th-century glass; in a small room in the N. wing is an original fireplace, with a four-centred head; it is now blocked.

The Well-house, N. of the house, is timberframed, and weather-boarded, and was built probably in the 17th century; many of the timbers have been renewed. It contains a large open tread-wheel, connected by an axle-beam with a reel over the well.

The Maltings, N.W. of the house, are now disused; the walls are timber-framed and weather-boarded. The buildings are of the 17th-century and the roofs have cambered and chamfered tie-beams with curved braces.


Monuments (5–21).

The following buildings, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century, and of two storeys, timber-framed and covered with plaster; 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.

Main Street, E. side

b(5). The Raven Inn, 110 yards E.N.E. of the church, has been re-faced with modern brick, and an addition has been made at the back; the roofs are partly covered with slate. Inside the building the original open fireplace has shaped oak corbels supporting the lintel.

b(6). Cottage, two tenements, 50 yards N. of (5), is partly weather-boarded.

b(7). House, 100 yards N. of (6), at the S. corner of the Clavering road, is of two periods in the 17th century, the N. half being of later date than the other. In the garden in front is a square well of considerable depth.

The Stocking Pelham Road, N. side

b(8). White House Farm, house, now two tenements, at the N. end of the main street, 240 yards N.N.E. of the church, was built early in the 16th century, and has a modern addition at the back. At each end of the house is a gabled wing projecting towards the N. Inside the building, on the first floor, the W. room has a brick fireplace with a moulded cornice and four-centred arch.

b(9). Cottage, two tenements, 40 yards W. of (8), with a low modern addition at the W. end. N. of the house is a deep well, cut through the chalk, and bricked round the upper part, square at the top, and circular at the bottom.

b(10). Martin's Farm, now two tenements, 40 yards W. of (9), is of mid 16th-century date. On the S. front the upper storey projects and rests on four curved brackets. The original E. chimney-stack has apparently three offsets; but is covered with ivy. At the back is a gabled wing, and some of the timber-framing is exposed. The four-centred oak head of a doorway, and part of a staircase, formerly at Martin's Farm, are preserved at the Vicarage.

S. side

b(11). House, now a shop, said to be on the site of the old Vicarage, and outbuildings, 200 yards N. of the church. The House is modern, but the base of the brick walls of the cellar are of the 17th century, and the shop has old ceiling-beams.

The Barn, on the N. side of the road, is of three bays; the trusses of the roof have curved braces.

The Cart-shed, N. of the barn, has an open lower storey of three bays, with angle and intermediate posts, and curved braces.

Condition—Of outbuildings, poor.


b(12). The King's Head Inn, 450 yards N.W. of the church, is L-shaped on plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W.

Dew's Green, N. side

a(13). Cottage, ¾ m. N.W. of the church, is partly weather-boarded.

Park Green, S. side

b(14). Cottage, 1,100 yards S.S.W. of the church, is partly weather-boarded. The original chimney-stack has grouped square shafts.

Condition—Bad, uninhabited.

b(15). Stock's Farm, house, formerly three cottages, at the N. corner of Blacking's Lane, 770 yards S. of the church. At the back, the vertical timber-framing is exposed, and there is a small modern addition. Inside the building are two original doors of moulded battens.


b(16). Cottage, two tenements, ¾ m. S. of the church, is partly weather-boarded.

b(17). Brick House, and barn, 80 yards S. of (16). The House is of two storeys with a cellar; the walls are of brick and the roofs are covered with slate. It is probably of late 16th or early 17th-century date, but the walls were re-faced c. 1670; the building was shortened at the E. end in the 18th or 19th century, and an addition made on the S.W. side. On the N. front there is a plain projecting band between the storeys, and on the ground floor the openings of the windows have segmental heads, and are of c. 1670. Inside the building, three doorways have original moulded frames.

The Barn, S.W. of the house, is of the 17th century, and of four bays; the walls are weather-boarded.

Little London

c(18). Rook's Farm, on the S. side of the road, ½ m. E.S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, with attics and a cellar. It is partly weather-boarded, and has been completely restored and altered. Inside the building, the door of the cellar is of richly moulded battens, and on the first floor there is a door of moulded battens.

c(19). Cottage, on the N. side of the road, 150 yards N.E. of (18), has part of the timber-framing exposed.

Condition—Poor, uninhabited.

c(20). Cottage, at the end of Sawpit Lane, about 1,100 yards E.S.E. of the church, is partly weather-boarded. The original central chimney-stack has attached diagonal pilasters, and a rectangular base with a moulded capping.

c (21). Cottage, two tenements, at Potash Farm, about 1¼ m. E. of the church, is partly weather-boarded.


b(22). Circular Enclosure, 500 yards S.W. of the church, is about 120 feet in diameter, surrounded by a narrow wet ditch.

Condition—Fairly good; the enclosed area is planted with trees.