Little Baddow

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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'Little Baddow', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2, Central and South west, (London, 1921) pp. 150-153. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. 6 in. (a)liii. N.W. (b)liii. N.E.)

Little Baddow is a parish and small village 4½ m. E. of Chelmsford. The Church, Congregational Chapel, Great Graces and Old Riffhams are the principal monuments.


a(1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands on the N.W. side of the parish. The walls are of flint and pebble-rubble mixed with some Roman brick and re-used freestone in the chancel and with iron puddingstone and Roman brick in the N. wall of the nave, of which the N.E. angle and the N. doorway have quoins of Roman brick; the dressings are otherwise of limestone, and the roofs are tiled. The Nave was built late in the 11th century, but c. 1330 its S. wall was taken down and it was widened on that side. Shortly afterwards the chancel-arch was built. In the second half of the 14th century the West Tower was added, and early in the 15th century the Chancel was re-built; probably in the same century the South Porch was added. The North Vestry and the gallery are both of c. 1800. In the 19th century the church was restored, and the S. wall of the nave E. of the porch was re-built above the string-course.

Among the fittings the 14th and early 17th-century monuments are especially noteworthy.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (23½ ft. by 17½ ft.) has in the E. wall an early 15th-century window, much restored, of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery under a two-centred head. In the N. wall is an early 15th-century window, now blocked, but formerly of two lights under a two-centred head with a moulded label. In the S. wall are two early 15th-century windows; the eastern is of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head, much restored; the western is a 'low-side' of one cinque-foiled light with modern jambs and sill; between the windows is a blocked doorway with a four-centred rear-arch. The chancel-arch of c. 1350 is two-centred and of two orders, the outer moulded and continuous, the inner chamfered and springing from attached semi-circular shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the base mould is carried round the outer order, and the base stands on a rough plinth.

The Nave (45½ ft. by 27¼ ft.), has in the E wall S. of the chancel-arch an early 14th-century window of two trefoiled ogee lights with a flowing quatrefoil under a two-centred head having internal and external labels, the latter with stops representing two male heads with liripipe hoods; at the sill level is a broken string. In the N. wall is an early 14th-century window similar to that in the E. wall but smaller and with no sill-string; the internal label-stops represent a woman and a man with curled hair, the external are probably both women with hoods; further W. is the original 11th-century N. doorway, now blocked, with jambs and semi-circular arch of Roman brick and with stone imposts; further W. is a modern doorway; at the E. end of the wall are slight traces of the former doorways to the rood-loft. The S. wall has a moulded plinth and string-course, and contains two windows; the eastern is modern; the western is all of the 18th century or later except the chamfered rear-arch etc., which is of the 14th century, and has above it in the wall a small carved woman's head; between the windows is the mid 14th-century S. doorway with moulded jambs, two-centred arch, and label and defaced head-stops of a man and a woman; the moulded plinth is mitred down on each side of the doorway, and the string-course is mitred up under the label-stops. In the W. wall, S. of the tower, is an awkward break in the building; the moulded plinth and string-course, though of the same section on each side of the break, do not meet; the building was evidently interrupted, perhaps by the Black Death.

Little Baddow. The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin.

The West Tower (11¾ ft. by 11¼ ft.) is of the second half of the 14th century and of three stages with moulded plinth and embattled parapet. below which is a moulded string-course with carved grotesques at the angles. On the S. face of the first stage is a shallow panel framed with 16th-century moulded brick, probably to contain a former sundial. The tower-arch is two-centred and of two hollow-chamfered orders; the responds have attached semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and double hollow-chamfered bases. In the N. wall is a doorway to the turret staircase, with hollow-chamfered jambs and two-centred arch. In the W. wall is a window of two cinque-foiled lights with tracery under a two-centred head with a moulded label; the W. doorway below it has moulded jambs and two-centred arch with a moulded label. The second stage has in the N., S. and W. walls a window of one trefoiled light under a square head with a moulded label. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two trefoiled lights under a square head with a moulded label; the mullion of the S. window has been restored.

The South Porch is possibly of the 15th century and was originally timber-framed but has been largely built up in brick. The timber outer archway has a shouldered head. The seat on the W. side is a heavy baulk of oak.

The Roof of the nave has three tie-beams, probably of the 15th century; the first and third are plain, the middle one has carved hollow-chamfered braces and rests at the N. end partly on a corbel carved with a male head with curling hair, 14th-century. The roof of the S. porch has chamfered posts and a steeply cambered tie-beam, probably of the 15th century.

Fittings—Bells: four; 1st by Miles Graye, 1636; 2nd by Henry Jordan, mid 15th-century, inscribed "Sancte Thoma Ora Pro Nobis"; 3rd by John Dier, late 16th-century; 4th, founder unknown, c. 1400, inscribed "Sancta Maria Ora Pro Nobis." Brasses: In nave—on E. wall, (1) to Mercymight (Springham), wife of Richard Bristowe, 1611, inscription-plate. On floor, (2) to William Toft, 1470, inscription-plate. Chair: In chancel— with carved and pierced high back flanked by twisted posts, turned and carved legs, carved front rail, twisted side and back rails, late 17th-century. Chests: In N. vestry—(1) of plain boarding with scalloped and chamfered edges to lid and front, shaped brackets in front to legs, probably late 17th-century. In tower—(2) dwarf cupboard, door in front on strap-hinges, panelled top, iron-bound, probably 16th-century. Communion Table: In N. vestry—with turned legs and plain rails, mid or late 17th-century. Door: In doorway to stair-turret—with hollow-chamfered styles, middle muntin and head-frame. Glass: In chancel—in tracery of E. window, yellow figure of St. Michael smiting the dragon; he holds a heater-shaped shield bearing an elaborately flowered and crocketed cross in yellow and white; blue back-ground with foliage pattern; also fragments of other subjects including head of saint, possibly St. George, spear, canopy-work, foliage pattern, etc.; all c. 1400. In nave—in E. window, fragments of foliage, pellet border, tabernacle-work, etc., probably 14th-century. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In chancel—on N. side (1) of Henry Mildmay, 1639; large recessed monument (Plate, p. 151) with alabaster effigy in armour reclining on his right elbow; beneath him a plaited mat and a cushion; the recess contains two shields of arms and is flanked by detached shafts of black marble with capitals and bases of white marble and an entablature surmounted by a broken pediment with achievement of arms; in front of the panelled base, kneeling figures of his first wife and of his widow, one on each side of a double desk with books and a draped pedestal; the first wife holds a skull and a book; above the desk a cartouche of arms; round the monument an iron railing with spiked pales, and principals with openwork heads. In nave—on S. side, (2) in recess, oak effigy of man (Plate, p. 154) with long wavy hair and wearing cotehardi with hood and short wide sleeves and slit up from ankles to knees; long and tight-sleeved under-dress; hands in prayer, feet against dog; recess (Plate, p. 155) with wide segmental-pointed ogee moulded and cinque-foiled arch; inner cusps have foliage points, outer cusps have small human faces, spandrels all carved with foliage; label of straight-sided triangular elevation and enriched with close crocketing; the spandrels between label and arch are carved with foliage; the outer moulding of each jamb is carried up and mitred into a horizontal string-course with foliage bosses, and similar bosses on the string-course serve as finials to the arches; the base supporting the effigy is faced with quatrefoil panels containing shields and is surmounted by a low iron railing, now fragmentary, with pointed middle standard which formerly carried a figure or trophy; the intermediate uprights had fleur-de-lis heads, now mostly gone; both monument and recess of c. 1330; immediately W. of this and forming a pair with it, (3) oak effigy of woman (Plate, p. 154) with veiled head-dress descending to her shoulders, wimple, cotehardi with low square neck and short wide sleeves, tight-sleeved kirtle, hands in prayer, pointed shoes, resting against a dog; recess, etc., uniform with (2). Floor-slab: In chancel—to Henry Mildmay, 1692, with shield of arms. Niche; On W. face of W. tower—rectangular with hollow-chamfered jambs and three carved finials, each springing from a shield; the middle shield charged with the device of the Trinity, 14th-century. Panelling: In chancel—re-used in backs of choir seats, late 16th-century. In nave—forming dado, moulded panels, some enriched with scroll carving, late 16th and early 17th-century. Paving: In chancel and nave—black and white paving, c. 1700. Piscinæ: In chancel—(1) foiled drain, cinque-foiled ogee head, damaged, c. 1400. In nave— immediately E. of Monument (2) and forming part of the same design, (2) quatre-foiled drain, trefoiled ogee head, crocketed and finialed; above the drain is a shelf. Plate: includes a large inscribed cup of 1700, with bands of ornament round bowl, stem and foot of 1836. Stoup: In nave—E. of S. doorway, with trefoiled ogee head, 14th-century, basin gone. Miscellanea: In chancel —built into N. wall, fragment of carved stone, 12th-century.

Condition—Fairly good, but stonework of tower much weathered and heavy growth of ivy on it.

a(2). Congregational Chapel stands 400 yards S.E. of the church. The walls are of red brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built in 1708 and is a plain rectangle with a moulded external cornice on the E. and W. walls. In the E. wall are two round-headed windows each of two lights; between them is a doorway in a modern porch. In the N. wall is a round-headed window and above it two oval windows; E. of the lower window is a blocked doorway. The S. wall has a square headed window and a modern doorway. The W. wall has two round-headed windows and a blocked doorway. There are no ancient fittings.



a(3). Phillow's Farm, house and moat, nearly ¾ m. W. of the church. The House is of two storeys, the walls are faced with modern brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 17th century and has an original central chimney-stack with grouped diagonal shafts.

The Moat is incomplete.

Condition—Of house, good, much altered.

a(4). Little Baddow Hall, opposite and S. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. The middle part of the house was built in the 15th century or possibly earlier, and this block was extended towards the N. about the end of the 16th century. This extension has been partly destroyed and the S. cross-wing re-built in modern times; there is also a modern addition on the W. side. On the W. side the upper storey of the original block projects. The late 16th-century chimney-stack at the N. end has grouped diagonal shafts. Inside the building the central block has an original roof of two bays with a king-post truss. There are also king-post trusses of a lighter type in the 16th-century extension and the wall between these two parts is double with a hollow between. The middle room on the ground floor has exposed ceiling-beams, one with mortices for the former braces and straining-beam.

Condition—Good, much altered.

a(5). Great Graces, house and outbuildings. 1 m. S. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics and cellars; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built about the middle of the 16th century and is the only remaining wing, probably at the E. end of a large house of H or E-shaped plan. The S. end has an original curvilinear gable with a moulded coping and three original windows, two of four lights and all now blocked; they have sham dressings of plaster. On the W. side is another original window with a transom and now blocked; further N. is a projecting chimney-stack with a four-centred arch between it and the return of the former main block of the house; in this return is one jamb of an original window. Inside the building the dog-legged staircase is of c. 1600 and has symmetrically turned balusters and newels formerly with tall moulded terminals ending with a large acorn form. A number of the rooms contain 16th and 17th-century panelling, and there are a few doors of the same period.

The Storehouse, S.E. of the house, is of red brick and was built about the middle of the 17th century and was subsequently converted into a cottage. The E. and W. walls have pilasters and stringcourses dividing them into panels. There are several original windows and doors of moulded battens.

The Barn, N.E. of the house, is of red brick and has a projecting wing on the N. side. It was built late in the 17th or early in the 18th century. The walls have brick pilasters and string-courses and several original doorways and windows, now mostly blocked. The garden and yards have boundary walls of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and N.W. of the house are foundations of a destroyed building.

Condition—Of house, good, much altered.

b(6). Old Riffhams (Plate, p. 39), house, 1¼ m. S.E. of the church, is of three storeys; the walls are partly of brick and partly of timber-framing. The roofs are tiled. It was built about the middle of the 16th century on a half H-shaped plan with the wings projecting towards the S.E. In the 18th century the S., E. and W. sides were refronted with red brick, with rusticated angles and a main cornice. On the N. side is a small gabled porchwing with original barge-boards and pendant, a moulded bressumer and a small projecting window with a pediment and a carved bracket. This window was flanked by two pairs of smaller lights, now blocked, but visible inside; they have moulded mullions, etc. The main chimney-stack has three original octagonal shafts. The chimney-stack on the W. side has two octagonal shafts with moulded bases and concave caps. Inside the building, the hall has a fireplace with a four-centred arch, re-built of the old bricks, and a considerable quantity of early 17th-century panelling.


Monuments (7–11).

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered or weather-boarded; the roofs are tiled. They all have exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good, or fairly good.

b(7). Rodney Inn, nearly 1 m. E. of the church.

b(8). Pilgrims, house, now two tenements, 110 yards W. of (7).

a(9). Cuckoos, house, 600 yards S.E. of the church. The upper storey projects at the W. end and has a moulded bressumer with curved brackets, carved with leaf ornament.

a(10). Cottage, near ford, 1,000 yards S.S.W. of the church, was built late in the 16th century and has an original chimney-stack with three diagonal shafts. Inside the building are two original doorways with four-centred heads.

b(11) Bassett's Farm, house 1½ m. E.N.E. of the church, was built in the 16th century. The upper storey projects at the N. end.