Wendens Ambo

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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'Wendens Ambo', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West, (London, 1916), pp. 329-332. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/essex/vol1/pp329-332 [accessed 24 June 2024].

. "Wendens Ambo", in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West, (London, 1916) 329-332. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/essex/vol1/pp329-332.

. "Wendens Ambo", An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1, North West, (London, 1916). 329-332. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/essex/vol1/pp329-332.

In this section

80. WENDENS AMBO. (B.b.)

(O.S. 6 in. viii. S.E.)

Wendens Ambo is a parish and village about 2 m. S.W. of Saffron Walden. The Church and the Hall are the principal monuments.


(1). Dwelling-House (see Plan, p. xxii) (60 ft. by 135 ft. area) was excavated in 1853 in 'Chinnels' (O.S. 25 in. viii. 12, field 85) on the south side of Chinnels Lane. Stray tiles, tesserae, etc., still mark the spot. The parish church has much Roman brick in the tower, especially the west doorway. (See Sectional Preface, p. xxiv.)


(2). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands at the E. end of the village. The walls are of flint rubble with some pebbles and stone blocks, and some Roman brick; the walls of the chancel are covered with cement; the dressings are of oolite and clunch. The roofs are partly tiled and partly covered with lead.

The Nave and West Tower were built late in the 11th century. Early in the 13th century the South Aisle was added, and later in the same century the Chancel was rebuilt, widened towards the S. and probably lengthened. A N. aisle was added early in the 14th century. Late in the 15th or early in the 16th century a S. porch was built, the clearstorey added and a Vestry formed in the W. end of the S. aisle. In the 19th century the North Aisle was rebuilt and a little later the Organ-chamber was added and the South Porch rebuilt.

The W. tower is an interesting example of late 11th-century work, and the 15th-century pulpit is noteworthy.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (22½ ft. by 16 ft.) with the axis deflected towards the S., has a modern E. window set in an opening, probably of late 13th-century date. In the N. wall are two 15th-century windows; the eastern is a single trefoiled light with a chamfered rib to the rear arch; the western window is of two cinquefoiled lights; the square head and rear arch are moulded. In the S. wall, at the E. end, is a single-light window of the same date and design as that in the N. wall, and further W. is a modern arch opening into the organ-chamber. The chancel-arch is modern.

The Organ-chamber is modern, but re-set in the E. wall is a 15th-century window of one light, similar to those in the chancel.

The Nave (32 ft. by 17½ ft.) is very high, and the roof rises almost to the parapet of the tower. The early 14th-century N. arcade is of three bays, with octagonal columns, and the responds have smaller half-columns, all with moulded bellcapitals and much defaced bases; the E. respond has been much restored; the two-centred arches are of two chamfered orders, and in the nave they have chamfered labels with head-stops. The early 13th-century S. arcade is also of three bays with round columns which have plain round capitals and moulded bases; the two-centred arches are of two plain orders; the E. and W. arches have been widened, apparently early in the 16th century, when the semi-octagonal responds with crude capitals were also rebuilt. The clearstorey has three N and three S. windows; the easternmost window on each side is of two uncusped lights under a three or four-centred head and a blind spandrel; the internal and external splays are of two chamfered orders, all of early 16th-century brickwork; the other windows are of slightly earlier date, but have been much restored; they are each of two cinquefoiled lights under a square head.

The North Aisle (11½ ft. wide) extends to the W. wall of the tower, and is entirely modern.

The South Aisle (7 ft. wide) has, in the E. wall, a modern archway opening into the organ-chamber. In the S. wall is a mid 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights under a square head, with chamfered reveals. The S. doorway, further W., is of early 13th-century date, altered in the 15th century; the jambs and two-centred head are of two pointed orders, the outer order moulded; the inner order is chamfered and probably of the 15th century; the jambs have been much altered, but the E. jamb retains the capitals of the two original shafts, and the inner order of the W. jamb has a foliated capital, much worn.

The Vestry (16½ ft. by 8 ft.) is formed by the W. end of the S. aisle, which extends to the W. wall of the tower. The partition wall abuts against the W. respond of the arcade and is of stone; in it is a rough doorway of late 15th or early 16th-century date, with jambs and three-centred arch of two chamfered orders. In the S. wall is a modern window, possibly set in an old opening. In the W. wall is a lancet window, entirely modern, except the splays, pointed rear arch and rebated sill, which are of the 13th century.

The West Tower (13 ft. square) is of two stages, and the lower stage is of two storeys; the embattled parapet is of the 15th century and above it is a small spire or spike covered with lead (see Plate, p. 330). The 11th-century tower-arch has been much scraped and restored; it is semi-circular and of one square order, with grooved imposts and square responds. The 11th-century W. doorway has jambs and semi-circular arch of two square orders, the arch is of bricks, chiefly Roman, and the chamfered imposts are flush with the face of the jambs; the plain tympanum is formed of one stone. The 16th-century W. window is of two cinquefoiled lights with modern tracery. The N. and W. walls of the upper storey of the ground stage have each a window of one trefoiled light, apparently of the 15th-century but much restored, and above each window are remains of an arch of brick or tiles, possibly the head of an original window; in the S. wall is a similar but more complete arch and window. The N., S. and W. walls of the bell-chamber have each an 11th-century window; the S. window is of two round-headed lights, divided by a round shaft with a cushion capital, and the jambs are square; the other windows are similar, but in the N. window the shaft is only roughly squared, without a capital and was possibly inserted at a later date; in the W. window the heads of the lights are trefoiled and of the 15th century; all the windows are grooved for glass and above them are round holes, without dressings, three in the N. wall, and two in each of the other walls.

The Roof of the chancel is ceiled with plaster, but has a wall-plate of late 15th-century date. The roof of the nave is modern, with the exception of two king-posts tie-beams, and four wall-plates, which are of the 15th century. The ceiling of the ground floor of the tower is also of the 15th century, and has hollow-chamfered beams and moulded joists with a carved foliation at the junction.

Fittings—Brass: In S. aisle—on S. wall, figure of man in plate armour with besagues and transverse sword-belt, c. 1415. Door: In vestry—with strap-hinges, 16th-century. Font: octagonal, quite plain, c. 1400. Font-cover: domed, wooden, with chamfered ribs, c. 1600. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monument: in nave—on N. wall, to Ambrose Andrews, [1718,] date not filled in, tablet with cherubs' heads, drapery and shield of arms. Floor-slabs: In nave—(1) to Anne, wife of Robert Churchman, 1684; (2) to Elizabeth Burrows, widow, 1698. Piscinae: In chancel— with moulded trefoiled head grooved for two shelves, late 13th-century. In S. aisle—with moulded and pointed head, two basins and part of E. jamb, early 14th-century, the rest modern. Plate: includes cup of 1589 and cover paten of 1569. Pulpit: nine-sided, standing on nine plain square legs, sides with elaborate traceried panels, moulded styles and rails, buttresses at angles, late 15th-century, in excellent preservation. Screen: In chancel— of two bays on each side of doorway, open panels with elaborate traceried heads, carved on E. side above middle rail; below rail, close panels, two in each bay, with traceried heads, remains of ribbed cove on W. side, late 15th-century. Seating: In nave—seven benches and one pew-front, all with buttressed ends and moulded rails, at one end of the pew-front a carved tiger with one paw on a mirror, late 15th-century (see Fig., p. 357). Stoup: In tower—in W. wall, S. of doorway, with moulded trefoiled head and moulded jambs, late 14th-century, basin restored. Miscellanea: In chancel—in S. wall, small square hole, purpose uncertain. In tower— in N.W. corner, quarter-round staircase to first floor, enclosed in close-set chamfered framing, door original, late 15th-century.

Condition—Fairly good.


(3). Wenden Hall, now a farmhouse, about 100 yards S. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are partly timber-framed and covered with plaster, and partly of brick; the roofs are tiled. The plan is rectangular; the E. part was built in the 15th century and possibly formed the Solar wing of a building with a Hall running N. and S.; the W. part is an 18th-century addition, and the whole house was much altered in the 19th-century.

The E. part of the house is an interesting fragment of 15th-century domestic architecture.

The elevations have been completely altered and the original walls are covered with plaster; the chimney-stack is of brick, modern at the top; built into it is a square stone inscribed with the date 1652.

Interior—On the ground floor, near the principal entrance, is a piece of mid 17th-century stonework of arabesque design, possibly the cresting of a gate-pier. The 15th-century block retains part of one roof-truss with a heavy wall-post and curved brackets, on which stands an upright or queen-post with curved brackets to support the purlin and collar-beam; between the queen-post and wall-plate is a horizontal strut roughly moulded and embattled.

Condition—Fairly good.

The Elmdon Road, N. side

(4). Shaft, with basin, in the garden of the vicarage, near the reputed site of Little Wenden church and 400 yards W. of the parish church. The shaft and basin are in one piece, the shaft is stop-chamfered and the basin is square, with traces of crude ornament; at the bottom of the basin is a large hole. It is said to have come from Little Wenden church and is of uncertain purpose and possibly of the 16th century.


S. side

(5). The Bell Inn, 170 yards W. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are timber-framed and covered with plaster; the roof is tiled. The house is of the central chimney type, built c. 1600; at the W. end is a continuation, with an overhanging upper storey, possibly of slightly different date. The rest of the building was much altered and re-plastered in the 18th century. The original chimney-stack has six diagonal strips or pilasters on each face. Inside the building, under the first floor, the plain rough beams remain.


Monuments (6–16).

The following buildings are almost all of two storeys, and of the 17th century, but restored and altered. The walls are timber-framed and covered with plaster; the roofs are tiled or thatched.

Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.

The Elmdon Road, S. side

(6). Cottage, ¾ m. W. of the church, was built in the last quarter of the 16th century. The W. end is weather-boarded and both ends have half-hipped gables. The W. half of the house is lower than the E. half and has, on the first floor, two original windows, one in the N. wall, with moulded wooden mullions, now blocked; the other in the S. wall, restored. The chimney-stack is original with five diagonal strips on each face.

Interior—On the ground floor are two wide open fireplaces and plain chamfered ceiling-beams. On the first floor at the W. end, is a ceiling-beam covered with plaster and ornamented with arabesque and fleur de lis designs.

Duck Street, W. side

(7). Cottage, 320 yards S.S.W. of the church, was probably built on a rectangular plan c. 1600. The chimney-stack is of thin bricks.


(8). House, now two tenements, about 200 yards S.W. of the church. The original building is of one storey, and of rectangular plan; a small 18th-century wing projects from the N. end of the E. front. The N. and S. ends of the building have each two gables; at the S. end the upper storey projects and is supported on three plain brackets. The large chimney-stack has a considerable batter.

(9). House, now three tenements, about 570 yards S. of the church, was built c. 1600 on a rectangular plan. At the S. end the upper storey projects on simple brackets. The central chimney-stack is original, with three projecting ribs on each face.

Church Turning, N. side

(10). House, about 40 yards W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics and a cellar. It was built c. 1600 on a plain rectangular plan; an addition of one storey on the W. side is probably of the 18th century. In front the second storey projects on three rough curved brackets; the plaster has a coarse tooth-pattern, partly hidden by a coating of later date. At the back, towards the N. end, some of the timber-framing, with fairly close-set studs. is visible under the plaster. The chimney-stack is of 18th-century brick at the top. Inside the building there are rough enclosed staircases leading to the cellar and first floor. On the first floor are rough chamfered ceiling-beams and an open fireplace.

(11). Cottage, now three tenements, W. of (10), is L-shaped on plan with the wings extending towards the W. and N. The N. wing is of one storey and the foundations are of brick, with some flint. There are dormer windows in the roof and the chimney-stack is cross-shaped on plan, and apparently original.


(12). Cottages, five, 90 yards W. of the church and next to the post office. The northern tenements are modern; the others have plain chimney-stacks of 17th-century brick.

(13). Cottage, at Drayton's Farm, about 100 yards N.W. of the church, is a rectangular 17th-century building, completely altered in the 19th century. Adjoining it are barns and stabling, probably of the 18th century.


(14). Cottage, about 130 yards N. of the church, is built on a rectangular plan with a plain chimney-stack at one end.


(15). Cottage, in a lane, about 200 yards N.E. of the church, has half-hipped gables at each end.


(16). Trout Hall, about 150 yards S.W. of the church, is of three storeys; the roofs are covered with slate. It was built c. 1600 but has been enlarged, partly re-faced with brick and the third storey added in the 19th century. On the W. side the second storey projects on curved brackets.