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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60. LOW LEYTON. (B.e.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)lxv. S.W. (b)lxxiii. N.W. (c)lxxiii. N.E.)
Low Leyton is a parish and suburb of London, on the left bank of the River Lea.
b(1). One or more Roman buildings were found in 1718 in enlarging a garden on the N. side of the parish churchyard. The property was then occupied by a Mr. Gansell and apparently called "The Grange"; it was described in 1771 as "between the manor house and the canal, where the garden now is," and the site is now somewhere in the neighbourhood of Grange Park and Manor Roads, just on the E. edge of Leyton and Hackney Marshes. The remains were traced over an extent of two acres, and consisted of "very large and strong foundations, in one place all stone with considerable arches, an arched doorway with steps down to it, but quite filled up with gravel. In many foundations were a great quantity of Roman tiles and bricks mixed with more modern materials." Two wells were also found, and "a great quantity of oak timber, some 8, some 10 in. square, mortised together like a floor." Numerous Roman coins, together with "bitts of silver with Saxon characters" were also turned up. A later account speaks of "a large arched gate with mouldings, and the portal to a large gate 9 or 10 ft. high, 5 or 6 ft. broad, the wall 4 ft. thick or more," all at a depth of 6 ft. Foundations also occurred in the ploughed fields then adjoining the garden on the N. and W., but nothing was observed on the S. and E. If the measurements are correct, and if, as seems probable, the work was really Roman, it is difficult to make much of the account. The archway is too large for that of a normal hypocaust furnace, and cellars, though occasionally found, are an unusual feature of Roman buildings.
In the 17th century an urn containing ashes was found in the churchyard, and at the end of the same century a cemetery containing both cremation and inhumation burials was observed by gravel-diggers further S. between Leyton and Stratford, near Ruckholes, on the S. side of Blind Lane, the line of the Roman Road from Colchester to London. Just outside the S. boundary of the parish, at Temple Mills on the River Lea, a site now occupied by the East London Waterworks, "a vault containing several urns," and an urn full of coins from "Julius Caesar to Constantine I," appear to have been found, but are very unsatisfactorily recorded. (See Sectional Preface, p. xxix.)
a(2). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands on the N. side of Church Road, and has been entirely re-built in the 19th century, except the tower, which is of red brick. The tower is said to have been built c. 1658–9.
If the date assigned (by Lysons) to the tower is correct, it is one of the few examples of church building under the Commonwealth.
Architectural Description—The West Tower (10 ft. square) stands at the W. end of the N. aisle and is of three stages, with an embattled parapet and diagonal buttresses at the western angles. The ground stage has in the E. wall a plain archway. The W. window is of three lights and probably of the 18th century. The second stage has in the E. and S. walls an opening into the church, and in the N. and W. walls a single-light window with a round head. The bell-chamber has in each wall a single-light window with a round head. The clock turret is probably of the 18th century.
Fittings—Bells: 6 and clock-bell; 5th by William Wightman, 1694; 6th inscribed in Lombardic capitals, "Domine exaudi oracionem meum et clamor meus ad te veniat," 14th-century; clock-bell, said to be 17th-century. Brasses: In S. aisle—on E. wall (1) of Ursula, daughter of Gasper (Lukas ?), 1493, figure with unbraided hair; (2) to Lady Mary Kyngestone, 1548, inscription only, erected 1557; (3) of Elizabeth, wife of Tobias Wood, 1620, with kneeling figures of man and wife in civil dress with seven sons and five daughters; on S. wall (4) inscription recording bequest of Robert Rampston, 1585; on W. wall (5) to Sir Edward Holmden, 1616. Monuments and Floor-slabs—Monuments: On S. respond of chancel arch— (1) to Newdigate Owsley, 1714, and Catherine, 1709; Newdigate, 1714, and Elizabeth, 1721, his children, marble tablet with composite pilasters, entablature, broken pediment and cartouche of arms. In N. aisle—on E. wall (2) to Charles Goring, Lord Hurst Perpoint and Earl of Norwich, 1670, large marble tablet with architrave, scrolls, entablature, segmental pediment and two shields of arms. In S. aisle—on S. wall, (3) to Andrew Redich, 1603, marble tablet with cornice and cartouche of arms; (4) to Nathanial Tench, 1710, and Ann (Fisher), his wife, 1696, marble draped tablet with cherub-heads and cartouche of arms; (5) to Mary (Tod), wife of William Church, 1707, plain marble tablet. In tower—on N. wall, (6) of Sir William Hicks, Bart., 1680, and Sir William Hicks, his son, 1703, large marble wall-monument with reclining effigy of man and standing figures of his son and his son's wife Marthagnes (Conysby); (7) of Sir Michael Hicks, 1612, and Elizabeth (Colston), his wife (Plate p. 150) wall-monument with panelled base and reclining figures of man in plate armour and woman in long cloak, etc., at the back of each is a semi-circular arched panel, two shields of arms. In churchyard—on E. wall of N. aisle, (8) to Gilbert Kennloe, 1693, tablet with skull and cross-bones. Floor-slabs: In tower—(1) to Robert Harvey, 1695, Rebecka, his wife, 1691, and Robert, Thomas, 1668, Mary, 1669, and Benjamin, 1669, their children, with shield of arms; (2) to Lawrence Moyer, 1685, and Frances (Alvey), his wife, 1686, with shield of arms; (3) to John Wood, 1670, with shield of arms; (4) to John, son of Sir Charles Boyd, Bart., 1667, with shield of arms. Poor Box: In S. aisle— at E. end, small box with figure of man carved on front, 17th-century.
Condition—Good, mostly re-built.
b(3). Church Club, house, on N. side of road, 300 yards E.N.E. of the parish church, is of two storeys with cellars; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It is said to have been built by Rev. John Strype, c. 1700. The S. front has symmetrically placed sash-windows and a central doorway with enriched architrave and pediment; the panelled door is original; the wall is finished with a dentilled cornice. Inside the building is an early 18th-century staircase with cut string, carved brackets and turned balusters. There are also several original panelled doors and one fireplace with a moulded architrave and shelf.
b(4). Unionist Club, formerly Walnut Tree House, on the S.E. side of Leyton Road, ¼ m. N.E. of the parish church, is of two storeys with cellars; the walls are timber-framed and plastered and the roofs are covered with tiles and slates. It was built late in the 16th century, but has been much altered and added to at various uncertain dates. On the S.W. and S.E. sides the upper storey projects; it also projects and is gabled at the N.W. end of the N.E. side. The sash windows are mainly of the 18th century; there are old casement windows in a low addition at the N.W. end.
Inside the building many of the panelled doors are of late 17th-century date, and two rooms on the E. side have panelling, cornices, etc., of the same period. There is also a little Jacobean panelling not in situ. A partition in the N. angle of the house has a glazed upper part with early 17th-century, flat, shaped balusters. A room on the first floor has an original stone fire-place (Plate p. 247) with stop-moulded jambs and square head carved with running foliage; the frieze has also conventional foliage and figures of Renaissance character, all much damaged. The early 18th-century staircase has a moulded handrail, turned and twisted balusters, columnar newels and cut strings with carved brackets.
Condition—Poor, much altered:
b(5). Ive Farm, house on W. side of Church Road, about ¼ m. W. of the parish church, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of brick and the roof is covered with slates. It was built probably late in the 17th century, but has been almost completely altered. Inside the building the original staircase has close strings, square newels and wavy balusters.
c(6). Public Library, on the W. side of High Road, Leytonstone, just S. of the railway, is of three storeys; the walls are of brick and the roofs are covered with slates. It was built early in the 18th century and has rusticated angles, symmetrical windows, and a modillioned cornice. The central doorway has a round head and is flanked by fluted Corinthian pilasters, supporting separate entablatures and a segmental pediment; under the pediment is an achievement of the arms of Parry-Segar.