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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17. CHICKNEY. (B.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xiv. S.W. (b)xiv. S.E.)
Chickney is a small parish N.W. of Great Dunmow, consisting only of a few farms. The principal monuments are the Church, and Sibley's farmhouse.
b (1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, stands in the S.E. corner of the parish, and is built of flint and pebble rubble, partly covered with plaster; the dressings are of limestone and clunch; the roofs are covered with tiles. The Nave is of pre-Conquest date, and the W. half of the Chancel is nearly contemporary with it. Early in the 13th century the chancel was lengthened. The West Tower was added in the 14th century. Probably early in the 15th century the South Porch was built, and during the same century the N. and S. walls of the nave were cut back at the E. end, and arched recesses formed, probably to give more space to two nave altars. The church was restored in 1858.
The church is an unusually complete example of pre-Conquest work. The erratic planning of the whole building is remarkable.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (26 ft. on N. by 16 ft.) with the axis deflected to the S., has a 14th-century E. window, partly restored, of three trefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with moulded internal and external labels and internal head-stops; below the internal sill is a 13th-century moulded string-course continued along the side walls as far as the eastern pair of windows, and finished with foliage-stops. In the N. wall there are two early 13th-century lancet windows, and between them a rough plastered straight joint indicates the N.E. angle of the pre-Conquest chancel; W. of the western window is the springing of the W. jamb of a blocked pre-Conquest window, and a blocked square hole partly edged with tiles, which possibly opened into a former ankar-hold. In the S. wall there are two early 13th-century lancet windows, and between them are traces of the S.E. angle of the pre-Conquest chancel, and of a blocked pre-Conquest window, apparently with a round head. The early 14th-century chancel-arch, partly restored, is pointed and of two chamfered orders; the square responds have chamfered and stopped angles, much restored, and modern imposts; the inner order of the arch is carried on projecting corbel capitals, with a panelled soffit in place of a 'bell,' they are possibly of later date than the arch; in the N. side of the N. respond is a skewed squint of 15th or early 16th-century date, and of two trefoiled lights on the W. side with a mullion on both faces; the upper part of the S.W. light is grooved for glass.
The Nave (about 31½ ft. by 18 ft.) is of rhomboidal plan with the acute angles at the S.E. and N.W.; the angles are built without quoins. In the N. wall, at the E. end is a window of c. 1360 and of two cinquefoiled ogee lights under a square head; the wall on the E. side, and also under the internal sill has been cut back; the E. splay is supported on moulded corbelling, and has a half-arch on the E. side. Further W. is a small N. doorway, possibly of the 14th century, and of a single chamfered order with a pointed head; immediately E. of the doorway is a blocked pre-Conquest window apparently double-splayed and only visible externally. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern is of the second half of the 14th century and of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery under a square head. The wall on the E. side and below the window has been cut away like the N. wall; the western window, set high in the wall, is a double-splayed single light of pre-Conquest date, with a round head plastered inside and outside; further W. is the early 14th-century S. doorway of two moulded orders with a two-centred arch and a moulded label, which has a returned stop on the E. and a mask-stop on the W.
The West Tower (7 ft. square), with the axis deflected to the S., is of three stages with a pyramidal roof and diagonal W. buttresses. The 14th-century tower-arch is pointed and of two moulded orders, the inner dying on to the side walls, and the outer continuous on the E. face of the opening. The 14th-century W. window, much restored, is of two trefoiled lights, with tracery in a two-centred head with an external label. In the W. wall of the second stage is a 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; it has been much repaired with modern plastered brick. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a 14th-century window of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a pointed head; the N. window has been blocked, and the W. window entirely restored; the E. and S. windows have been repaired in plastered brick.
The South Porch is timber-framed, and plastered externally.
The Roof of the nave is of the 14th century, and has three king-post trusses carrying a central purlin; the king-post of the second truss has apparently a moulded base and four-way struts; the truss at the W. end has no king-post. The pyramidal roof of the tower is modern, but inside the bell-chamber in the angles, are four oak posts, with the mortises of the former hip-rafters of a lower roof of similar form. The roof of the S. porch has two tie-beams, one with curved braces, and both probably of the 15th century.
Fittings—Altar: In chancel—in use, plain slab with chamfered lower edge and incised with five crosses, found under floor in 1858, possibly 13th-century. Bells: two, both by John Kebyll of London, 15th-century; 2nd inscribed 'Ad Celi Syna Perducat Nos Caterina.' (St. Katherine was buried on Mount Sinai.) Bracket: In nave— on E. wall, N. of chancel-arch, broken and moulded, probably 15th century, re-set. Communion Table. Now in tower—small, with turned legs, top forms small chest with panelled sides, modern tracery in front and modern lid, said to have been former communion table, early 17th-century. Font: (see Plate p. xxix.) octagonal bowl, of clunch, carved with four septfoiled ogee canopies, having crockets and finials; each canopy including two faces of bowl; soffits carved with half-angels; moulded and enriched cornice, and, in spandrels, raised shields, charged with arms—(a) six voided lozenges for Braybrook; (b) a fesse between two cheverons; (c) a bend with a ring in the foot; square stop-chamfered central stem and four subsidiary buttressed shafts at alternate angles; moulded base with carved foliage at alternate angles, probably early 15th-century. Lockers: In chancel—two in N. wall, one in S. wall, plain square recesses, date uncertain. Piscina: In chancel—with moulded jambs and trefoiled head with roll points to foils, round drain, early 13th-century. Plate: includes small cup with baluster stem, probably c. 1630–40, mark erased. Miscellanea: On S.E. window of nave and S.E. window of chancel a number of scratched Sundials. In nave—re-used in desk, small piece of oak cresting, 15th-century.
Condition—Fairly good, some of the external stonework is perished.
a (2). Homestead Moat, ¾ m. N.W. of the church.
b (3). Chickney Hall and barn, about 200 yards E.S.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of plastered timberframing; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the E. and N., and probably at the end of the 17th century the E. wing was extended towards the E. and the building was heightened to form attics; there are modern additions on the W. side of the E. wing, and on the E. side of the N. wing. The N. wing has on the S. front a late 17th-century wood cornice with modillions, carried round the ends of the wing; in the roof are four hipped dormer windows with old glazing. Inside the building in the E. room of the original E. wing is a dado of early 17th-century panelling, re-set, and there is similar re-set panelling in the adjoining W. room. In the N. wing is an original door of moulded battens.
The Barn, N.E. of the house, is probably of the 17th century.
Condition—Of house and barn, good.
a (4). Sibley's Farm, house, barn and dovecot, 1¼ m. N.N.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 15th century, apparently on an H-shaped plan with the cross-wings at the N.W. and S.E. ends; late in the 16th century a small staircase projection was added to the S.E. wing, an upper floor was inserted in the Hall, the main staircase and a chimney-stack were also inserted and the walls were heightened. The N.W. wing was extended and altered in the 18th and 19th centuries. On the S.W. front the upper storey of each wing projects and is gabled; a window in the S.E. wing is of three lights, and probably of the 17th century. In the staircase projection are two 15th-century windows, re-set and now blocked, each of three lights with moulded oak mullions. The central chimney-stack is of late 16th or early 17th-century date, and has clustered diagonal shafts, partly rebuilt.
Interior—In the middle room, formerly the Hall, a partition of the 16th century or earlier date, probably represents the original screens, and in the W. wall behind the partition, is an original doorway, probably re-set, with a four-centred head; in the ceiling is a heavy stop-chamfered beam. In the N.W. wing are original exposed joists and a heavy chamfered beam with curved braces; at the N.E. end of the wing is a wide fireplace with chimney-corner seats. In the S.E. wing is a stop-chamfered beam on shaped posts, probably original; in the W. wall is a fireplace, of late 16th-century date, with a four-centred head of plastered brick. S. of the central chimney-stack is a late 16th-century staircase with a central newel and winders; under it is a cupboard with an old oak battened door with strap-hinges. In the upper storey the roof of the main block is of three unequal bays with a central purlin and cambered tie-beams, two of which have curved braces; the roof of the front part of the N.W. wing is of two bays with a chamfered tie-beam on shaped posts; the roof of the back part of the N.W. wing has a central purlin and tie-beam with the mortises of former braces; there is also a plain oak door, re-used, with straphinges. The roof of the S.E. wing is of two bays with a king-post truss having a cambered tie-beam on shaped and chamfered wall-posts. In the W. wall of the S.E. wing is a late 16th-century fireplace with a moulded and enriched mantelshelf.
The Barn, W. of the house, is timber-framed and weather-boarded; the roof is partly thatched and partly tiled. It has four bays with queen-post trusses of the 16th-century, but has modern extensions at the N. and S. ends.
The Dovecot, S. of the house, is of two storeys, timber-framed and weather-boarded; it is square and has a gabled roof; the timber-framing is possibly of the 15th century.
Condition—Of house, barn and dovecot, good
a (5). Burnt House, cottage, now two tenements, about ¼ m. S.W. of (4), is of two storeys, timberframed and plastered; the roofs are thatched. It was built in the 17th century. Inside the building the ground floor has stop-chamfered ceiling-beams.
a (6). Cottage, about ¼ m. S.W. of (5), is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are thatched. It was built in the 17th century, and has a modern addition at the W. end. Inside the building the ground floor has chamfered ceilingbeams.
a (7). Cottage, nearly 1 m. N.W. of the church, on the W. side of Chickney Green, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are thatched. It was built probably early in the 17th century. The original central chimney-stack is modern at the top. Inside the building are chamfered ceiling-beams, some with moulded stops ornamented with a lozenge.
Condition—Poor, especially thatch.