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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72. STURMER. (D.a.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)iv. N.E. (b)iv. S.E.)
Sturmer is a small parish and village on the border of Suffolk, about 10½ m. E.N.E. of Saffron Walden. The Church is the principal monument.
a (1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands about ½ m. W. of the village. The walls are of flint and pebble rubble with dressings of limestone and clunch; the roofs are tiled. The Nave is of pre-Conquest date, and was built probably in the first half of the 11th century. The Chancel was rebuilt about the middle of the 12th century. The West Tower was added in the middle of the 14th century, and the South Porch early in the 16th century. The whole church was carefully restored in the 19th century.
The building is a good example of a small church of early date.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (18½ ft. by 14½ ft.) is built of coursed rubble; the E. angles have quarter-round shafts spirally fluted, with plain cushion-capitals of the 12th century. In the E. wall are three lancet windows of c. 1200 with chamfered jambs and heads. In the N. wall are two 12th-century windows with chamfered jambs and semi-circular heads. In the S. wall are two lancet windows, of early 13th-century date, much restored; the jambs and heads are chamfered and rebated outside; the eastern window is higher in the wall than the western window, and below it is an early 16th-century doorway, now blocked, which has a square head and a moulded wooden frame. There is no chancel-arch, but the internal angles have ashlar quoins; those on the S. side are of the 12th century.
The Nave (36 ft. by 17 ft.) is built of coursed rubble. In the N. wall are two windows; the eastern is of the 15th century, and of two cinquefoiled lights under a square head, with moulded splays and segmental-pointed rear-arch; the western window is of the 16th century and of two uncusped lights, under a square outer order, all of brick; W. of the eastern window are remains of the W. jamb and part of the semi-circular head of a pre-Conquest window. Further W. is the N. doorway (see Plate, p. xxviii), probably of the 11th century, now blocked; it is apparently not rebated; the jambs have wide-jointed quoins, and the square head has a stone external lintel, ornamented with checker pattern and cut into a segmental shape at the top; the internal lintel is of wood, and is also ornamented with checker pattern on the soffit. In the S. wall are two 15th-century windows, each of two cinquefoiled lights; the eastern window has a square head and moulded label; the western originally had tracery in a two-centred head, but the tracery was removed and the head altered to a segmental shape c. 1500, when the nave was re-roofed; immediately E. of the eastern window are a few dressed stones, probably part of an 11th-century window. Between the windows is the 12th-century S. doorway; the jambs are of two orders, the inner square, with head-corbels supporting a tympanum, and the outer order has shafts with scalloped capitals; the E. shaft has cheveron ornament, the W. shaft is missing; the outer order of the arch is semi-circular, and enriched with cheveron ornament, and the tympanum has crude interlacing patterns in low relief.
The West Tower (9 ft. by 8 ft.) is of the 14th century, and of three stages; the roof is pyramidal; on the E. wall are the weatherings of the former steep-pitched roof of the nave. In the E. wall of the ground stage is a doorway with jambs and two-centred arch of two chamfered orders, much defaced. The W. window is of one pointed light also much defaced. The S. and W. walls of the second stage have each a single-light window, probably originally trefoiled, but now roughly pointed. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window, originally of two trefoiled lights in a square head; the brick jambs are of the 16th century, and the E., N. and W. windows now have square heads, and the N. and W. windows have no mullions; the head of the S. window is weathered, but unaltered.
The South Porch is of the 16th century, and is built entirely of brick, with a crow-stepped S. gable. The outer archway is four-centred, and of two continuously chamfered orders. The E. and W. walls have each a window of two lights under a four-centred head.
The Roof of the nave is of c. 1500 and of double hammer-beam type; the main timbers are moulded and the spandrels of the hammer-beams are filled with crude pierced tracery; the wall-plates are carved with running foliage. Above the opening between the chancel and nave is a moulded, cambered and embattled beam of c. 1600.
Fittings—Bells: three; 1st possibly by John Sturdy, 15th-century, inscribed 'Sancte Gabriel'; 2nd by Miles Graye, 1617; 3rd by Miles Graye, 1661. Door: In S. door of chancel, of two plain nail-studded battens, 16th-century. Glass: In nave—in S.E. window, two reversed shields (a) or a chief indented sable, for Harsicke, (b) ermine a cheveron sable with three crescents or thereon, for Dorward, late 15th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Floor-slabs: In porch—(1) to Radclyffe Todd of Sturmere Hall, 1675; (2) to [Martha] wife of Radclyffe Todd and secondly of [Thomas] Ferrand, 1679, much defaced. Plate: includes small goblet of 1676, of secular origin. Stoup: In porch—with crude four-centred head, front of basin cut away, early 16th-century.
a (2). Sturmer Hall and moat, W. of the church. The House is of two storeys, timber-framed and faced with modern brick; the roofs are tiled. It was built, probably in the 15th century, but was apparently much altered c. 1600, and again in the 19th century. It is of half-H-shaped plan with the cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. At the W. end is a chimney-stack of c. 1600 with the bases of four octagonal shafts, each surmounted by a modern shaft. Inside the building, a room in the E. wing is lined with 17th-century panelling. The upper storey has a cambered tie-beam with curved braces, but the roof has been rebuilt.
Only the N.W. angle of the Moat remains.
Condition—Of house, good, much altered.
b (3). The Rectory, on the N. side of the road, ½ m. E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are partly timber-framed and plastered, and partly of brick; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably early in the 17th century, and has 18th-century and modern additions on the E. and N. sides. Inside the building there is a rough cambered tie-beam in the roof.
Condition—Good, much altered.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century, and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Some of the buildings have original chimney-stacks, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
Main Street, N. side
a (4). Cottage, 660 yards E. by N. of the church. Condition—Poor.
a (5). The Red Lion Inn, 120 yards W. of (4), with 18th-century and modern additions at the back.
a (6). Cottage, about ½ m. E. of the church. The original central chimney-stack has four attached diagonal shafts.
a (7). House, now tenements, 200 yards E.S.E. of (6), is of T-shaped plan, but the cross-wing is modern. The original chimney-stack has moulded capping, and retains the moulded bases of four octagonal shafts.
a (8). Popemill Farm, house, about 800 yards N.N.E. of the church, is of half-H-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. In the 19th century an addition was made between the wings. The walls of the ground storey have been re-faced with modern brick. The original central chimney-stack has attached diagonal shafts.
a (9). Cottage, about ½ m. N.E. of the church, has been re-faced with modern flint rubble and brick. The original central chimney-stack has a shaft, cross-shaped on plan, set diagonally.
a (10). Bowl Barrow, about ¼ m. N.N.W. of the church, is about 120 feet in diameter at the base and 8 ft. high.