An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2, Central and South west. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1921.

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'Latton', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2, Central and South west, (London, 1921) pp. 145-149. British History Online [accessed 25 April 2024]

In this section

49. LATTON. (C. b.)

(O.S. 6 in. (a)xli. N.W. (b)xli. S.W. (c)l. N.W.)

Latton is a small parish adjoining Harlow on the W. The Church and Latton Priory are the principal monuments.


a(1). About 200 yards W. of Harlow railway station, on a mound known as Stanegrove or Standing Groves, partly surrounded by the River Stort, foundations of walls were observed in 1764 and 1819, and Roman tesseræ, "Samian" ware, bronze objects, and coins of Cunobeline, Tasciovanus and of the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D. have been picked up here at various times. (Gough's Tours, Bodleian Lib. MS., Gen. Top. e. 18, fol. 160; Archæologia, xix, 410. Gent. Mag., 1821 (i) 66; Brit. Arch. Assoc. Journ. iv, 156.) Potsherds and brick and limestone tesserae are still visible on the surface. The mound, which is about 23 ft. high, may be partly artificial. The British coms suggest a pre-Roman occupation; but there is sufficient indication that a Roman building or buildings stood here, and excavation is desirable. (See Sectional Preface, p. xxix.)


a(2). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands in the N. half of the parish. The walls of the chancel are mostly of flint with quoins of Roman brick; the nave and vestry are largely of brick, but are partly covered with cement, the W. tower is of brick faced with flint and cement lined with brick, and the porch is of brick and timber; the old dressings are mostly of clunch; the roofs are tiled. The plan and the presence of Roman brick probably indicate that the Chancel and Nave were built in the 12th century. c. 1470 the North Chapel, now Vestry, was added and the chancel much altered. The South Porch was built probably in the 15th century, and in the last half of the 16th century the West Tower was added. In the 18th century the building was much restored and the N. wall of the nave refaced with brick, and in the 19th century extensive repairs were executed in cement.

The altar-tomb with brasses, and the N.E. chapel with its original wall paintings, are worthy of note.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (27 ft. by 19½ ft.) has in the E. wall a window of three cinque-foiled lights in a two-centred head, probably of late 15th-century date, but partly restored. In the N. wall is an archway, and W. of this a squint, both opening into the N.E. chapel or vestry (see under Fittings); further W. is the 15th-century oak-framed doorway of the chapel with four-centred arch and sunk spandrels; W. of this is a late 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery under a square head with a segmental pointed rear-arch. In the S. wall is a similar window, partly restored. There is no chancel-arch.

The North Chapel (16 ft. by 8 ft.) is of c. 1470, and has in the E. wall a window partly restored and of two cinque-foiled lights under a square head with a moulded label having beast stops. In the W. wall is a similar window modern externally; S. of this is a doorway, probably of slightly later date than the structure, much restored, and with a four-centred head.

The Nave (41 ft. by 21 ft.) has in the S. wall three windows; the easternmost is modern; the second is of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery under a four-centred arch, probably of the 15th century, much restored; the third is of three plain four-centred lights under a square head, probably of the 16th century; between the second and third windows is the S. doorway, now blocked, with moulded jambs and two-centred head, probably of the 16th century, partly restored.

The late 16th-century West Tower (12 ft. by 11 ft.) is of two stages, externally, and of three storeys internally, with a moulded plinth and embattled parapet. The tower-arch is two-centred and moulded and has moulded jambs with attached round shafts having moulded capitals and bases. The W. window is of three cinque-foiled lights and vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a label. The W. doorway has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with moulded label and foliated spandrels with blank shields. The second storey has in the S. wall a single trefoiled and four-centred light under a square head. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two cinque-foiled lights under a four-centred head. The S.E. stair-turret has in the S. wall a doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred head.

The 15th-century South Porch has a cusped barge-board; the entrance archway is of oakframing and a four-centred head with sunk spandrels and a moulded cornice.

The original Roof of the N. chapel is of four-centred waggon form with moulded transverse and longitudinal ribs having modern bosses and boarding; the moulded and embattled cornice is original; the old mouldings are coloured and gilt. The roof of the S. porch includes a four-centred oak truss, probably of the 15th-century.

Fittings—Armour: In tower—in second stage, various fragments, early 17th-century. Bells: four; 1st 1612, 2nd 1627, 3rd 1611, all three by Robert Oldfield; 4th dated 1579, founder unknown. Brasses: In chancel—(1) said to be of William Harper and his wife, Anne (Arderne), c. 1490, figures of man in armour and woman, in long-veiled head-dress, close-fitting bodice and full skirt, below the man three sons; three shields (a) a lion and a border engrailed, for Harper; (b) same impaling Arderne, (c) Arderne; indents of fourth shield, the inscription and figure of a daughter; (2) of Frances (Roberts), wife of Richard Frankelin, 1604, figures of woman and son and daughter, two shields of arms; (3) of Emanuell Wollaye and Margaret, his wife, figures of man and woman, three coats of arms, dates not completed, early 17th-century; on S. wall in wooden frame, (4) to Yelverton Peyton, descended from the baronets of Isleham, 1710, plain inscription. See also Monuments (1). Doors: In N.E. chapel or vestry—(1) in W. doorway, divided by chamfered fillets into three long panels with trefoiled heads and foliage spandrels, 15th-century; (2) in entrance to chancel, of oak battens, with four-centred head probably early 16th-century. In nave—in S. doorway, (3) of nail-studded battens, probably late 16th or early 17th-century. In W. tower—in W. doorway, (4) a pair similar to (3); in stair-turret, (5) similar to (3) but with strap-hinges. Glass: In N.E. chapel—in E. window, re-set (reversed), shields of arms of Wollaye, two dated 1604; a fourth shield containing fragments probably of same date. In a frame—on wall, fragmentary, kneeling figures of men and woman, probably Flemish, 17th-century; ornamented fragment with lettering, probably of 1604; a lion crest, 18th-century. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In chancel—on N. side, (1) of [Sir Peter Arderne, 1467, Chief Baron of the Exchequer and Justice of the Common Pleas, and his wife Katherine Bohun] altar-tomb (Plate p. 103) of Purbeck marble, with moulded edges, on slab brass figure of man with coif and in judicial robes, and woman in long mantle and tall enriched horned head-dress, four shields of arms, (a) paly with a chief charged with three lozenges, on the middle lozenge a chess-rook, for Arderne, (b) a bend cotised with a molet thereon between six lions, (c) a bend with three molets thereon, (d) a cheveron engrailed between three chess-rooks; indent for marginal inscription; sides of clunch each with three trefoiled panels enclosing blank shields; the tomb is set in an archway with a chamfered three-centred head on the N. side and a canopy on the S.; the canopy has moulded jambs with attached shafts having moulded capitals and bases, and consists of three moulded and two-centred arches with foliage spandrels and a moulding mitred over the central and slightly higher arch and carried down to a moulded base on each side; above is an embattled cornice carried on attached shafts with moulded bases and foliage capitals; the cornice projects over the shafts and also has a central semi-octagonal projection with foliated pendant; the hollow of the cornice contains oak and vineleaf bosses bearing the letters P, A, and K; the opening towards the chapel has an iron grill; in the W. jamb is a squint with a trefoiled head on the S. face. On N. wall, (2) to Leventhorpe Altham, 1681, and Jane (Edwards), his wife, 1691, oval tablet of grey marble in square draped frame of white marble carved with flowers, cherub's heads, and shield of arms, etc., additional tablet below to James Altham, 1697. On S. wall, (3) of James Altham, 1583, and Lady Judd, his wife, 1602, alabaster figures of man in armour and of woman, kneeling at prayer-desk; below the recess panels with small kneeling figures of three sons and eight daughters; the recess contains a shield and a lozenge of arms and is flanked by enriched Ionic pilasters supporting a cornice crowned by two obelisks and an achievement of arms; below the panel is a shield of arms flanked by inscriptions; (4) to Sir Edward Altham, 1632, and Joan, his wife; erected 1640, two black inscription-panels in white frames, all of marble, flanked by Corinthian pilasters and surmounted by cornice and curved pediment crowned by an achievement of arms and flanked by urns; on each side is an allegorical figure of an angel on a curved bracket bearing cartouches of arms. In nave—on S. wall, (5) to Thomas Denn, vicar of the parish, 1680, slate and stone tablet with two shields of arms. Floor-slab: In chancel—to James Altham and Dame Mary Judde, 1602. Paintings: In N.E. chapel— over archway of altar-tomb, traces of black-letter inscription and many figures including the Nativity and Shepherds, Virgin and Child, etc.; the figures are in an architectural setting, above squint, traces of painting and a fragmentary black-letter inscription including the words "Dunstanus Archiepiscopus"; on splays of squint two censing angels and traces of black letter; architectural scene with the Almighty appearing in clouds; on the W. wall, St. Christopher at the ford, fragmentary; the whole work is of late 15th-century date. Plate: includes cup, with arms of Woolley, and paten, both of 1602. Recess: In N.E. chapel —below squint, small recess, probably a cupboard, with chamfered and four-centred head, late 15th-century. Sundial: On S. wall of tower, stone with painted numerals and inscription, dated 1661. Weather-vane: On tower—cut as a dragon and pierced "J A 1696."

Condition—good, but much restored in cement. The ivy growing on the chancel is likely to cause harm.

c(3). Latton Priory, ruins and moat, about 2½ m. S. of the church, was founded in the 12th century for Austin Canons. It was always a very small house and by 1534 had been abandoned by the last religious. The walls are of flint-rubble with dressings of Roman brick and Reigate stone. The Church was entirely re-built early in the 14th century; the remains now consist of the Crossing and parts of the North and South Transepts and the Nave. They are now used as a barn (Plate p. 146).

The crossing is a good example of early 14th-century work.

Architectural Description—The Presbytery has entirely disappeared except the start of the side walls adjoining the crossing. The former building projected two bays to the E. and had a diagonal buttress at the S.E. angle.

The Crossing (17 ft. square) has on each side a two-centred arch (Plate p. 147) of two moulded orders with a mounted label; the responds are moulded and have each three attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases.

Latton Priory

The North Transept (19 ft. wide) has in the E. wall a blocked archway formerly opening into a N. chapel; the arch is two-centred and the responds evidently had attached shafts of which the moulded capitals are visible; the E. wall has a moulded internal and external string course. Outside, the line of the pent roof of the chapel is visible. The N. wall has entirely disappeared. In the W. wall is a doorway with a segmental-pointed head on the E. side and a two-centred head on the W. side and formerly opening into the N. aisle of the nave and now blocked; the internal string is mitred over the doorway.

The South Transept (11½ ft. by 17 ft.) has a diagonal buttress at the S.E. angle. In the E. wall is a window, now blocked, and with shafted splays and destroyed head; below the sill is a moulded internal string-course. The S. and W. walls have been destroyed, but in the angle between the S. transept and nave are traces of a circular staircase, which did not descend to the floor-level.

The Nave (18¼ ft. wide) has been destroyed except for about 11 ft. on each side. On the N. wall externally is the weathering of the roof of the former aisle, the raking line of the pent-roof being visible on the W. wall of the N. transept. Above the weathering is a circular clearstorey window formerly sex-foiled and now blocked. In the S. wall is the eastern processional doorway with moulded jambs of two orders and two-centred arch on the inside and a moulded segmental pointed arch on the outside, both with moulded labels.

Fittings—Bracket: In N. transept—on E. wall, moulded corbel, 14th-century. Painting: In S. transept—on E. wall, on string-course, painted letters A V C, date uncertain. Piscina: In N. transept—in E. wall, with moulded and shafted jambs and trefoiled head, drain broken away, 14th-century.

The Domestic Buildings stood to the S. of the church and the modern farmhouse may represent the former Frater.

The Moat is rectangular and almost surrounds the house.

Condition—Of church, ruinous.


b(4). Sawpit Cottage, about 1,400 yards S. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably in the 15th century with a central Hall subsequently divided into two storeys. On the S. front the upper storey projects and is gabled at the W. end. Inside the building the Hall has the smoke-blackened timbers of a king-post roof altered when the chimney was inserted.

Condition—Fairly good.

c(5). Inn, on the Cambridge Road, 1¾ m. S.S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably early in the 17th century and has an original central chimney-stack, cross-shaped on plan and set diagonally.

Condition—Good, much altered.

a(6). Mark Hall, 100 yards N.W. of the church, was entirely re-built late in the 18th century, except portions of the brick cellars which are probably of early 16th-century date. In the S. wall of one cellar is a recess and a doorway both with four-centred heads; the doorway opens into a recess, possibly the head of a former well. There is another original recess in the N. wall.