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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71. STRETHALL. (A.b.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)ii. S.E. (b)viii. N.E.)
Strethall is a very small parish, and village, about 3 m. W.N.W. of Saffron Walden. The Church is the principal monument.
a (1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands at the S. end of the parish. The walls are built of flint rubble with some pebbles and a few stone block in the walls of the chancel; the dressings are of limestone and clunch; the roofs are covered with tiles. The Nave was built probably shortly before the middle of the 11th century. In the 15th century the Chancel was partly rebuilt and widened towards the N., but the S. wall probably stands, at all events partly, on the old foundations; the West Tower was rebuilt and the nave re-roofed also during the 15th century. The church was restored in the 19th century, when the Vestry and South Porch were added.
The western angles of the nave are typical examples of 'long and short' work, and the chancel-arch is another feature of pre-Conquest date.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (22 ft. by 14 ft.) has 15th-century diagonal buttresses at the eastern angles. The E. window is modern. In the N. wall is a modern doorway to the vestry. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern window is modern and the western is a low-side window of early 15th-century date and of one light with a trefoiled head. Between the windows is a 15th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and four-centred head. The 11th-century chancel-arch (see Plate, p. 296) is semi-circular and of one square order, with a crudely moulded label on the W. face continued down outside the jambs and forming rough pilasters; the jambs are square and have crude cable and roll-moulded imposts chamfered underneath and enriched with rough saltire ornament.
The Nave (26 ft. by 15½ ft.) has original 'long and short' quoins at the western angles (see Plate, p. 295). In the N. wall are two modern windows. In the S. wall is a modern window and further W. is the S. doorway which has 'long and short' jambs apparently of the 11th century, but chamfered in the 15th century, when the present arch was built. In the W. wall above the tower-arch is a small single-light window, much defaced with plaster but apparently original; it has a fairly deep external splay and now opens into the tower.
The West Tower (10 ft. square) is of three stages with a plain parapet, a bold weathered offset at the base of the second stage, and the remains of a weathered gargoyle at the N.W. angle. The 15th-century tower-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders. The W. window, of the same date as the arch, is of two rough uncusped lights of slightly ogee form. In each wall of the second stage is a pointed window, much restored. The bell-chamber, which has been much rebuilt, has a modern window in the S. wall, and in the N. wall, visible internally, are remains of a blocked 15th-century window. On the E. wall, outside, is visible the weathering of a nave roof of steeper pitch and earlier date than the present roof.
The Roof of the nave is of early 15th-century date; it forms two bays with two trusses, one being set against the W. wall; the trusses have cambered tie-beams with large curved brackets, moulded wall-plates and plain collars; the middle truss rests on corbels, the northern is carved with kneeling three-quarter figures of a man and a woman; the southern corbel bears an angel with a shield.
Fittings—Bells: Two; 1st, by William Revel, c. 1350; 2nd, uninscribed, possibly of the same date. Brasses: (see also Monument) In chancel— (1) of priest in cassock, tippet and hood, 15th-century; on same stone, (2) to Thomas Abbot, 1539, parson of the parish, inscription plate, said to be palimpsest, on reverse, inscription to Margaret Siday, c. 1450, "quondam formosam mulierem religiosam." Door: In S. doorway—with moulded frame and battens. large stock-lock, c. 1500. Font: tapering octagonal bowl on modern central shaft and four smaller shafts alternately round and octagonal, with crude bases and capitals, late 12th-century. Monument: In chancel—against N. wall, to John Gardyner, lord of the manor and patron of the church, 1508, Johane (Wodecok) his wife, and Henry their son, tomb with quatrefoil panelled side, canopy above it, partly recessed, and with a moulded four-centred head, recess flanked by slender engaged shafts supporting a moulded cornice; at back of recess, brass inscription plate. Piscina: In chancel—with trefoiled moulded head, c. 1310. Plate: includes a cup of 1561 and cover-paten of 1567. Seating: At W. end of nave—two small plain open seats, 15th-century. Sedilia: In chancel—sill of S.E. window carried down, only stone bench old. Miscellanea: In W. wall of tower—recess with cinquefoiled head and stone bench, purpose uncertain, 15th-century.
The following monuments are generally of two storeys, timber-framed and covered with plaster; the roofs are tiled and thatched. Most of the buildings are of the 17th century, and some of them have exposed ceiling-beams and original chimney-stacks.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
a (2). Strethall Hall, now a farmhouse, N.W. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W. In the angle between the wings is an 18th-century addition, and the N. wing has an extension of the same date. At the S. end of the E. front, the upper storey projects and is gabled. The original chimney-stack at the S. end of the building has battered offsets, but is modern above the eaves. The stack near the N. end is also original, and has three square shafts separated by slots, with a common offset capping.
b (3). Rectory Farm, house, about 400 yards S.W. by S. of the church, is of mid or late 16th-century date, and of L-shaped plan, with wings extending towards the N. and W. and a two-storeyed projection in front. The W. wing is of one storey only. Inside the building the first floor S. of the central chimney-stack is supported by a heavy moulded beam, and the roof construction is visible in the room N. of the central stack.
b (4). Rider's Farm, house, about 425 yards S. by E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics, and of T-shaped plan, with the main block extending towards the E. and a cross-wing of slight projection at the W. end. The plastering has zigzag ornament, possibly original.
b (5). Cottage, now two tenements, in a lane about 325 yards S. of the church, is partly weather-boarded; the thatched roof is much patched with other materials. The W. wall has close-set timberframing.