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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2. ASHDON. (C.a.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)iii. N.E. (b)iii. S.E. (c)ix. N.E.)
Ashdon is a parish and small village on the border of Cambridgeshire, about 3½m. N.E. of Saffron Walden. The principal monuments are the Bartlow Hills, which lie on the N. edge of the parish, and the Rose and Crown Inn.
a (1). Tumuli, known as the Bartlow Hills (see Plate, p. 4), at the extreme N.E. of the parish. They form (or formed) two parallel rows, running nearly N. and S. The eastern row consists of four large steep-sided mounds, in shape truncated cones, the largest 40 ft. high and 145ft. in diameter; since 1760 three of the mounds have been planted with trees. The western row is now less clear: originally, it consisted of at least three small mounds, as was proved by digging in 1832; only two can now be faintly traced. Excavations, chiefly in 1832–40, have shown that all seven mounds contained at the centre regularly walled graves, within which was very costly grave-furniture of glass, decorated bronze, and enamel; almost all these ornaments were destroyed in a fire at Easton Lodge in 1847. The graves seem to belong to the end of the first and beginning of the second century and were doubtless built for Romanized British nobles of the district. The particular method of burial occurs especially in eastern England and in Belgium, and is native, not Roman, by origin: (see Sectional Preface p. xxii.)
Condition—Of the four larger mounds, fairly well preserved; of the two smaller ones, faint. Good care is taken of them by their present owners.
b (2). Dwelling-house, small, in a field called Great Copt Hill (O.S. 25 in. iii. 11, field 16) on Great Bowser Farm, about 1 m. N.W. of the village. It was excavated in 1852; nothing is now visible except stray tiles, etc. on the surface. (See Sectional Preface p. xxii).
c (3). Tile-kiln in a field called Oakfield. about 2 m. S. of the village. It was excavated in 1852, and at once removed; the exact site is now unknown. (See Sectional Preface p. xxii.)
(4). Miscellanea—Other burials have been noticed near the Hills—one with a flint axe and knife, presumably prehistoric. A small dwelling-house was found in 1852 about 100 yards E. of the Hills—mainly, if not wholly, within the Cambridgeshire border—but nothing of it is now visible on the surface; the parish church of Bartlow (Cambridgeshire) has in its walls a few Roman tiles, doubtless from this building. An earthwork (low bank and ditch), is visible in the grounds of Bartlow House on the S. side of the river Granta; possibly it may be connected with the Hills or the dwelling house just mentioned (see Sectional Preface p. xxii. and below p. 9).
b (5). Parish Church of All Saints stands on a hill at Church End, S.W. of the village. The walls are probably of flint rubble, but are covered with cement and plaster; the dressings are of limestone and clunch. The roofs are covered with tiles, lead and slate. The Chancel is of uncertain date; early in the 14th century the North-East and South Chapels were added, and about the same time the South Aisle was rebuilt on the site of a former aisle. At the end of the 14th century the West Tower was built, probably outside the W. wall of the nave, and c. 1400 the arcades of the Nave and the chancel-arch were rebuilt, the clearstorey and North Aisle added, and the North-West Chapel was built, joining the N.E. chapel and the N. aisle. Towards the end of the 15th century the North and South Porches were built. Three windows were inserted in the clearstorey by bequest of Thomas Cornell, who died in 1527. The church was restored in the 18th century, and early in the 19th century the walls of the whole building were covered with cement.
The early 14th-century roof of the S. chapel is especially interesting.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (35½ ft. by 18 ft.) has a modern E. window. In the N. wall is a small doorway of early 14th-century date, with chamfered jambs, ogee head, and pierced spandrels. Further W. is a two-centred arch of c. 1400, and of two chamfered orders dying on to responds of one wide chamfered order. In the S. wall is an early 14th-century arcade of two bays; the two-centred arches are of two moulded orders; the circular column and the attached semi-circular shafts of the responds have moulded capitals and bases. The two-centred chancel-arch is of c. 1400, and of two moulded orders; the outer order stops on the chamfered outer order of the responds, and the inner order rests on semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases.
The North-East Chapel or vestry (14 ft. by 11½ ft.) has, in the E. wall, an early 14th-century window of one trefoiled light with a moulded internal reveal and rear arch; externally the window has been defaced with cement. In the N. wall a window and doorway are probably of the 18th century. In the W. wall is a rough doorway with a flat head, above it are traces of a former half-arch, which are more clearly visible in the N.W. chapel.
The North-West Chapel (17 ft. by 10 ft.) is entirely of c. 1400. In the N. wall is a window of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery under a square head; the external stonework has been defaced with cement.
The South Chapel (25½ ft. by 21 ft.): the E. and W. walls have each a gable with a low parapet, small foiled kneelers, and the carved stumps of gable-crosses. In the E. wall is a 14th-century window, now blocked; it is of three lights with remains of tracery in a two-centred head; the external and internal jambs, head and labels are moulded, and the internal label has stops carved as busts, of a woman, and of a knight in armour with bascinet, camail, etc., each behind a shield which has a cross with five fleurs de lis on it. In the S. wall is a large window of c. 1400, externally much defaced with cement; it is of four septfoiled lights with tracery under a square head. In the W. wall is a segmental half-arch of early 14th-century date, and of two continuously moulded orders; further S. is an early 14th-century window of one cinquefoiled light with flowing tracery in a two-centred head; the jambs, head, rear arch and labels are moulded.
The Nave (42 ft. by 21½ ft.) has N. and S. arcades of c. 1400, and of three bays; the two-centred arches are of two moulded orders; the outer order dies on to the chamfered outer order of the piers and responds, and the inner order rests on semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. E. of the N.E. respond, at the level of the former rood-loft, is a doorway with a segmental head; E. of the S.E. respond is a doorway with rebated jambs and four-centred head, and in the thickness of the wall are five steps. The clearstorey had originally on each side three quatrefoiled windows set in square reveals over the crowns of the arches; all were of c. 1400, but have been either blocked or altered; two are still visible on the N. and one on the S.; another at the W. end of the S. wall was altered early in the 16th century; at the W. end of the N. wall is a mid or late 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights under a flat head; the splays, head and external reveal are moulded; in the S. wall are two early 16th-century windows, each of three uncusped lights, but of different sizes.
The North Aisle (9½ ft. wide) has, in the N. wall, two windows; the eastern is of the same date and detail as the window in the N.W. chapel, and has been defaced externally with cement; the western window is of the 15th century, and of two trefoiled lights under a square head; externally it has been much defaced. Between the two windows is the N. doorway of c. 1400; the jambs and two-centred arch are of two continuously moulded orders with a moulded external label and a moulded segmental rear arch.
The South Aisle (9½ ft. wide) has, on the E. wall, the weathering of a former low-pitched roof. In the S. wall are two windows; the eastern is an early 14th-century window of two cinquefoiled lights with leaf-tracery in a two-centred head; the external reveals and labels are moulded; the western window is similar to the western window in the N. wall of the N. aisle. Between the windows is the S. doorway of c. 1400; the jambs and two-centred arch are moulded. The W. wall has been much rebuilt with 18th-century brick, and in it is a window of that date.
The West Tower (13 ft. by 12 ft.) is of two stages with a stepped embattled parapet. It is entirely of late 14th-century date, except the W. doorway. The two-centred tower-arch is of three chamfered orders; the two outer orders die on to a broad chamfer, and the inner order rests on semi-circular attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The W. doorway is modern, and the W. window is of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head. In the upper part of the ground stage the N., S., and W. walls each have a window of one light with a pointed head, possibly foiled originally, but now defaced. The E. and W. walls each have three single-light windows with trefoiled heads, all much defaced; the N. and S. walls each have one window of two cinquefoiled ogee lights under a square head, all much defaced.
The North Porch has a two-centred outer archway of the 15th century, and of two moulded orders; the inner order rests on semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals. The E. and W. walls have each a 15th-century window of two trefoiled lights under a square head, all much defaced.
The South Porch has an entrance archway of the same date and detail as that of the N. porch. The E. and W. walls have each a window of two pointed lights.
The Roof of the chancel is of early 15th-century date, and of two bays with three trusses, of which two are intact; the tie-beam of the easternmost truss has been cut away between the cusped and sub-cusped braces; the middle truss has a moulded tie-beam with a band of pierced ornament below it, and a moulded king-post with four-way struts; the braces of the tie-beam have pierced traceried spandrels; the western truss is similar to the eastern, but has a complete tie-beam and king-post. The roof of the N.E. chapel is modern, but has, on the N. side, part of a moulded wall-plate of early 14th-century date. The lean-to roof of the N.W. chapel has moulded wall-plates and wall-posts of c. 1400. The early 14th-century roof of the S. chapel has a central truss with a moulded and cambered tie-beam, a king-post of four clustered shafts with moulded capitals and curved four-way struts, moulded purlin and S. wall-plate; the central purlin has, at the ends, curved braces resting on grotesque stone corbels; the N. wall-plate is moulded and of the 15th century, and below the tie-beam is a heavy wooden bracket of the same date. The roof of the nave is ceiled with plaster, but two late 15th or early 16th-century tie-beams and wall-plates are exposed. The roofs of the aisles are also of late 15th or early 16th-century date, but have been partly restored; the wall-plates and principals are moulded. The roofs of the porches are covered with plaster, but have moulded wall-plates of late 15th-century date.
Fittings—Bells: six; 5th by Thomas Chirche (1498 to 1527), inscribed 'Virgo Coronata Duc Nos Ad Regna Beata'; 6th by Miles Graye, 1662. Bracket: In N.E. chapel—on N. wall, remains of moulded bracket. Brasses and Indents. Indents : (See also Monuments). In S. aisle—near S. doorway, (1) part of slab with remains of marginal letters, early 14th-century. In S. porch—(2) slab with brass rivets, indent obliterated. Chest: In N.E. chapel—of 'hutch' type, plain, possibly 15th-century. Communion Rails: Now in outbuilding at Rectory—with symmetrically turned balusters and moulded rail, early 17th-century. Door: In doorway of N.E. chapel—of lapped boards, probably early 14th-century. Font: octagonal stem with moulded capital and base, late 13th-century, rough octagonal bowl, possibly of earlier date. Glass: In N.W. chapel—in N. window, fragments of figures, canopies, etc. c. 1400. In S. chapel—in tracery of S. window, fragments of ornament, c. 1400; in W. window, leaf designs androundel, early 14th-century. In N. aisle—in N.W. window, two fragments, 15th-century. In S. aisle—in tracery of eastern window, in situ, ornamental, early 14th-century, one quarry with flower, 15th-century. Monuments: In chancel— in N.E. corner, (1) to [Thomas Tyrrel of Warley and Ann (Wolley) his wife], altar tomb, S. side and W. end cusped and panelled, with four shields, (a) the quartered coat, 1, two cheverons and an engrailed border, for Tyrrel, 2, paly of six, for Swynford, 3, an engrailed cheveron charged with three dolphins, for Flambert, 4, a cross between four scallops, for Coggeshall; (b) the quartered coat impaling a fleur de lis between two wool-packs within two flanches each with a wolf therein, for Wolley; (c) and (d) as (a); slab of Purbeck marble with indent of inscription plate, early or mid 16th-century; on N. wall—(2) to Richard Tyrrel, 1566, achievement of arms set in a deep moulded frame. In N.E. chapel—in N. wall, (3) moulded E. jamb and spring of arch of tomb-recess, early 14th-century. Painting: In N. aisle—on W. wall, remains, apparently nimbus of a saint. Piscinæ: In chancel—with cinquefoiled head and moulded label, 14th-century. Plate: includes cup and small stand-paten of 1621. Pulpit: Now in barn at Rectory—octagonal, with panelled sides, resting on central post with shaped brackets, early 17th-century. Screen; In N. aisle—at E. end, moulded front beam of former loft. with mortised soffit for former screen, 15th-century. Sedilia: In chancel —two recesses, forming three seats with moulded jambs and segmental-pointed heads, 14th-century. Miscellanea: In tower—on N. wall, stone block, slightly hollowed at the top and with metal socket, probably for candle.
c (6). Homestead Moat, about 1 m. S. of the church.
b (7). The Guildhall, now three tenements, 40 yards S. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are timber-framed and plastered; the roof is tiled. It was built late in the 15th or early in the 16th century, probably as a Church House, and had originally a Hall with Screens at the E. end. On the N. side the upper storey projects, and has small ornamental brackets with defaced shafts; on the ground floor are traces of an original window; in the upper storey are traces of three original windows with projecting sills which have remains of defaced carving. At the W. end is an original chimney-stack of rubble.
Interior—The screen in the room formerly the Hall has a small doorway with a four-centred head, now blocked. The roof-trusses each have a crudely moulded king-post, central purlin, struts and curved brackets. In the S. wall of the upper storey is a four-centred head, probably of an original window, now blocked.
Condition—Fairly good, much altered.
b (7a). The Rectory, 780 yards N.N.E. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of brick, and the roofs are covered with slate and tiles. It was built c. 1600, on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and W. There are extensive modern additions on the S. side and at both ends. Some of the brickwork of the S. wing is probably original, as is the greater part of the projecting chimney-stack at the E. end. Inside the building, a room at the S. end of the former S. wing is lined with original panelling, and has a panelled door and two cupboard doors; the overmantel, formerly in that room, now on the first floor, has terminal figures and a richly carved frieze and middle panel. Two other rooms on the ground floor have some panelling of c. 1600, and at the head of the original staircase is a moulded rail with symmetrically turned balusters.
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. Many of the buildings have original chimney-stacks, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.
b (8). House, W. of (7) was built probably c. 1600, but almost entirely rebuilt in the 19th century.
b (9). Cottage, two tenements, 200 yards N.W. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and E.
b (10). Cottage, three tenements, in a lane on the E. side of the main road, 650 yards N.E. of the church. The original E. chimney-stack has a square shaft set diagonally.
b (11). Cottage, now three tenements, on the W. side of the main road, about ½ mile N.E. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S.E. and S.W. The original central chimney-stack has the stumps of three grouped diagonal shafts.
b (12). The Rose and Crown Inn, 50 yards N.N.E. of (11), was built early in the 17th century on a rectangular plan, but late in the same century a wing was added at the back, making the plan L-shaped, with the wings extending towards the N. and W. The original central chimney-stack has diagonal pilasters.
The painted room (see Plate, p. 8) is a good example of early 17th-century decoration.
Inside the building, on the ground floor, the N. room has late 16th-century moulded beams, re-used in the ceiling. The walls are divided into panels of arabesque work painted in red, black and white, with a frieze of ogee-headed panels, and four black-letter texts, partly defaced; the paintings have been restored. Another room has a late 16th-century moulded beam, re-used.
b (13). The Club Room, on the E. side of the main road, about ½ m. N.E. of the church. On the W. front is a late 17th-century plaster panel with foliage and fruit. Inside the building one old tie-beam is exposed.
b (14). Cottage, 100 yards S.E. of (13).
b (15). Little Sandon Farm, house, 130 yards S. of (14), was built probably early in the 16th century, on a T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the N. end. Inside the building the cross-wing has original moulded ceiling-beams with leaf-stops.
b (16). Cottage, in a lane on the W. side of the main road, 1,100 yards N.E. of the church. The original central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts.
b (17). Cottage, three tenements, at Roger's End, about ¾ m. N.E. of the church, was built probably c. 1700. The windows and doorways are plain and probably original, and some original lead glazing remains.
b (18, 19, 20). Cottages, at Holden End, nearly 1 m. N.E. of the church.
b (21). Little Bowsers, house, about 1½ m. N.W. of the church, with weather-boarded walls, and a modern addition on the N. side. The original central chimney-stack has diagonal shafts and pilasters.
b (22). Ricketts, house, nearly ¾ m. N.N.W. of the church, was built probably c. 1600, but large additions were made in the 17th century on the S.E. side, and the plan is now irregular. Near the N.W. angle is an original chimney-stack with two octagonal shafts. Another chimney-stack has diagonal pilasters.
b (23). Farmhouse, at Ashdon Street, ¾ m. W.N.W. of the church, was originally of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W. There is an 18th-century addition on the E. side. The upper storey projects and is gabled at the S. end of the E. side. The original S. chimney-stack has diagonal shafts, and pilasters with moulded broaches at the angles of the base.
b (24). Puddlewart Farm, house, about ¾ m. N.W. of the church, with modern additions on the N. side.
b (25). Ivytodd Farm, house, about ¾ m. S. of the church, has a chimney-stack probably original, but dated 1750.
c (26). Sprigg's Farm, house and barn, 450 yards S.E. of (25). The House has an original chimney-stack with grouped shafts.
The Barn, N. of the house, has weather-boarded walls.
c (27). Great Mortimers, house, 1 m. S. of the church, has an 18th-century addition on the S.W. side, making the plan L-shaped.
c (28). Rylands, house, 1 m. S.E. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the E. and S.
c (29). Hoy's Farm, house, at Ridduck's Hill about 1½ m. S.E. of the church.
b (30, 31, 32). Cottages, at Water End, 1,100 yards S.E. of the church.
b (33). Midsummer Hill, house, about ¾ m. S.E. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E.
b (34). Goldstones, house, 250 yards N.N.E, of (33), is of three storeys, and was built probably c. 1600. There are modern additions on the E. side. On the W. front the upper storey projects, and has an original carved bressumer; the ground storey has been re-faced with modern brick; at the S. end is a gable with original carved barge-boards. At the S. end of the house is an original projecting chimney-stack with two diagonal shafts. The back elevation has a small gable in the middle, and an old casement window with original fastenings. Inside the building the walls have shaped posts, and there are two old panelled doors. On the first floor, is an original fireplace, now blocked, with chamfered jambs and rounded head; another room has some original panelling and moulded ceilingbeams.
a (35). Earthwork, 300 yards N. of the Bartlow Hills, and 2 m. N. of Ashdon church, consists of a low bank and ditch running about 380 yards E. and W., and about 70 yards N. and S., in the grounds of Bartlow House (Cambridgeshire), S. of the river Granta, and roughly parallel with it. The rampart is about 4 feet above the bottom of the ditch, which is about 22 feet wide. The whole may form the N.E. corner of some enclosure, connected possibly with the Bartlow Hills and the Roman dwelling-house E. of the Hills (see pp. 4, 5), but, without excavation, the earthwork cannot be dated.