Maldon St. Peter

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Maldon St. Peter', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2, Central and South west, (London, 1921) pp. 177-182. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

In this section

64. MALDON ST. PETER. (H.c.)

(O.S. 6 in. liv. N.W.)

St. Peter's is the parish of Maldon which entirely surrounds All Saints' parish. The important monuments are St. Giles' Hospital, the Plume Library, and Beeleigh Abbey.


(1). St. Giles' Hospital, ruins, stands about 900 yards S. of All Saints' Church. The walls are of flint-rubble with some Roman brick and the dressings are of limestone. The hospital is said to have been founded by Henry II. for lepers, and the existing ruins forming the E., N. and S. arms of a cruciform building are substantially of the end of the 12th century, except the S. wall of the S. transept, which was built early in the 13th century. The ruins are much patched with 16th and 17th-century brick and were long used as a barn; they are now roofless. It is doubtful if the whole building formed the hospital chapel, but no doubt the E. arm and probably the transepts served that purpose, while the destroyed W. arm may have been the hall.

The ruins are interesting as remains of an early hospital.

Maldon. St Giles' Hospital.

Architectural Description—The E. Arm (22 ft. by 16 ft.) retains only its N. wall, which has a moulded internal string-course of late 12th-century date, with a return at the point where the E. wall joined the N. wall; below this string-course is a rough relieving-arch of Roman brick, visible both inside and out and of doubtful purpose. Only foundations remain of the S. wall.

The Crossing (16 ft. by 13 ft.) had at each internal angle an attached shaft of the 12th century with a simple foliated capital and square abacus; the S.E. angle has been destroyed and the capital of only the N.W. shaft remains; above it is re-set a broken 13th-century capital.

The N. Arm (13 ft. by 16 ft.) has in the E. wall remains of the Roman brick responds of an arch with the springers also on the S. side; inserted in the filling is a 17th or 18th-century doorway. The N. wall is broken away in the middle but retains on each side the outer splays and springers of two windows; there were doubtless three windows originally in this wall. In the W. wall (Plate, p. 176) is an original 12th-century window with a round head and now blocked with 17th-century bricks; further S. is a much altered doorway with a segmental-pointed rear-arch probably of the 14th century, and a S. splay of Roman bricks perhaps of the 12th century; the N. jamb retains a few courses of moulded 14th-century work.

The S. Arm (13 ft. by 12 ft.) has in the E. wall a 12th-century round arch with plain responds all of Roman brick and now blocked. The S. wall is standing to the full height of the gable; it has a graduated triplet of early 13th-century lancet windows partly filled with 17th-century bricks. The W. wall has the N. splay and part of the round arch of a 12th-century doorway.

The W. Arm has been completely destroyed, except for the start of the side walls.

Condition—Bad, the walls are cracked and suffering from the weather, and will probably collapse unless immediate steps are taken to preserve them.


(2). The Plume Library and tower of St. Peter's Church stands on the N. side of High Street. The walls of the tower are of flint-rubble with dressings of limestone; the walls of the library are of red brick and the roofs are covered with slates. The West Tower was built late in the 15th century. The rest of the church appears to have fallen into disuse at the Reformation, and on its site was built early in the 18th century the Library founded by will of Dr. Plume, in 1704, the tower being used as a vestibule (Plate p. 176).

Plume Library, with the Tower of another Church, Plan

The West Tower is of three stages with an embattled parapet restored with 17th-century bricks. The two-centred and moulded tower-arch springs from responds with attached semi-circular shafts with moulded capitals and bases. In the S. wall is an inserted doorway with modern jambs and a two-centred arch; it is protected externally by an early 18th-century portico, between the buttresses of the tower, with columns, carved brackets, entablature and pediment, all of wood. In the W. wall is a 15th-century doorway with jambs and two-centred arch of two chamfered orders with a moulded label; it is now partly blocked and used as a window; above it is a 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head. The ground stage is now divided into two storeys. The second stage has in the N., S. and W. walls a square-headed 15th-century window. The former bell-chamber has in each wall a window of one cinque-foiled light in a square head. There is one Bell by Jacob Bartlet, 1699.

The Library adjoins the tower on the E. and has cement quoins, a plain band between the storeys and a plaster eaves-cornice. The early 18th-century windows are square-headed with a plain key-block and have each a single solid mullion and transom. Inside the building the plain chamfered ceiling-beams are exposed. The Library on the first floor is fitted with early 18th-century bookcases with moulded cornices and the walls have early 17th-century panelling re-set. Above the fire-place is an early 17th-century overmantel of three bays with enriched arches and baluster pilasters. The other contents of the library include a collection of books from the 15th to the 18th century a series of portraits, mostly copies, and three early 18th-century tables.


(3). Beeleigh Abbey, house, about ¾ m. W.N.W. of St. Peter's Church, is of two storeys with attics. The walls are partly of stone and partly of plastered timber-framing; the roofs are tiled. The stone employed is mainly boulder clay or septaria and puddingstone with dressings of Reigate stone and Purbeck marble. The abbey of SS. Mary and Nicholas was founded for Premonstratensian canons removed here from Great Parndon (see Gt. Parndon Monument (3)) c. 1180, by Robert Mantell. The remains consist of parts of the E. and S. ranges flanking the cloister, and include the Chapter House and dorter sub-vault with the dorter above them in the E. range and the passage and room over at the N. end of the S. or Frater range. These are of early to mid 13th-century date, with some later windows inserted, and the upper part of the dorter was remodelled early in the 16th century. Probably shortly after the dissolution in 1536 the timber-framed addition was made at the S. end, incorporating part of a ruined building, probably the Rere-dorter. The church N. of the cloister, frater, cellarer's building, etc., were probably destroyed at the same period. There is a modern addition in the S.E. angle of the former cloister, and the rooms above the chapter house are mainly modern.

Beeleigh Abbey. Maldon.

The house is an interesting fragment of monastic building, and the 13th-century details of the Chapter House and dorter sub-vault are excellent examples of the period.

The Chapter House (40 ft. by 19 ft.) has on the outer face of the N. wall traces of the spring of the barrel-vault of a building 21 ft. long, and probably a Parlour or Sacristy. The chapter house itself is of four bays with three Purbeck marble octagonal columns down the centre, each with moulded capital and base and supporting quadripartite vaulting with moulded ribs, springing, against the walls, from moulded corbels with abaci continued along the walls as a string-course (Plate p. 179); the ribs have remains of painted masonry lines. In the E. wall are two 14th-century windows each of two cinque-foiled ogee lights in a square head, much restored externally. In the N. wall is a single light window of the 13th century, altered late in the 14th or early in the 15th century and with a cinque-foiled head. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern of the 14th century, much restored and similar to those in the E. wall; the western window is a 13th-century lancet. In the W. wall are two 13th-century windows, each of two lancet lights with a quatre-foiled piercing in a two-centred outer order; the lights are divided by a shaft with a moulded capital and defaced base; the shaft of the N. window is restored; between the windows is a double entrance of the 13th century with moulded two-centred arches and defaced labels; both internally and externally the outer jambs have each a single shaft and the central pier has remains of dog-tooth ornament and three shafts, all partly restored and with moulded capitals and bases.

The Parlour or Passage (21 ft. by 10 ft.), S. of the Chapter House, probably to the former Infirmary, is barrel-vaulted and has in the E. wall remains of the 13th-century archway, now blocked, with two-centred head and defaced label. In the N. and S. walls are modern doorways. In the W. wall is an open archway similar to that in the E. wall but covered with plaster. Above the springing of the vault are traces of 13th-century painted foliage ornament, and in each section are painted masonry lines with a central flower.

The Dorter Subvault (42 ft. by 21 ft.), probably the Warming House, is divided into four bays by a central arcade of circular Purbeck marble columns with moulded bases and bell-capitals; one capital has mediæval graffiti (the names Lyghtwod and Lychfeld); the chamfered ribs of the quadripartite vaulting spring against the walls from moulded corbel-capitals carved variously with floral and spiral patterns (Plate p. 178); the ribs have remains of painted masonry joints. In the E. wall are three 15th-century windows, the northernmost completely restored; except for the splays, jambs and rear-arch; they are each of three cinque-foiled and transomed lights with vertical tracery under a four-centred head with a moulded label; further S. a 17th-century oak framed doorway with a two-centred head and a contemporary battened door partly occupies the site of a fourth window. In the S. wall are two doorways, both of the 13th century, with two-centred heads and segmental rear-arches towards the S. In the W. wall are two doorways; the southern is of the 13th century and has a two-centred head; it opens into the former passage under the frater-range; the northern doorway, now blocked, is of the 17th century and has a flat four-centred head; between the doorways is a 15th-century fire-place, having a segmental arch of two hollow-chamfered orders with carved roses, etc., and traceried spandrels containing shields, etc.; over it is a frieze carved with six angels holding musical instruments, under an enriched and embattled cornice; flanking the fireplace are remains of attached shafts. Hung in the windows are seven loose glass panels; six are of early 15th-century date, with canopies and figures respectively of the Virgin (Plate p. xxxv), St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine, St. John the Evangelist, and on two panels St. Gabriel; the seventh is made up probably of late 15th-century fragments, including a Trinity (Plate p. xxxv). On the N. and W. walls are traces of 13th-century painting, and on the W. wall is a large painting of a cock, probably of the 16th century.

The Dorter extended over the sub-vault, passage and Chapter House and was thus of L-shaped plan; there is no indication that the main E. wall of the range was carried across the vaulting of the Chapter House. The N. end of the dorter, over the Chapter House, has been almost entirely re-built, partly with old material; in the E. wall are two windows similar to those below and incorporating some old material; in the N. wall are three windows, all largely restored; the two eastern incorporate 15th-century work and are of two cinque-foiled lights under a square head; the westernmost is of late 14th-century date re-set and of two cinque-foiled two-centred lights under a square head; in the S. wall are three windows; the easternmost and westernmost are modern except for the splays of the easternmost, which are probably of the 15th century; the middle window is also modern except for the four-centred head and the splays, which are carried down to the floor level. The main block (Plate p. 176) has in the E. wall six brick windows of early 16th-century date, each of two two-centred lights under a square head with a moulded label. The S. end of the dorter was partitioned off about the middle of the 16th century and sub-divided into two storeys with a dog-legged staircase in the western half; the partition incorporates part of a late 15th or early 16th-century screen with a moulded and embattled rail and close panels divided by buttressed muntins; the staircase has chamfered newels, moulded handrail and close panelling. In the S. wall are two doorways: the eastern is of the 13th century with a two-centred head and probably opened into the former reredorter; the western is of the 16th century (post suppression) and has a flat three-centred head with a square oak frame. In the W. wall over the entrance to the Chapter House is a modern window; further S. are traces of at least three windows similar to those in the main E. wall. At the S. end is a 16th-century doorway opening into the frater range; it has a four-centred head now plastered, and contains a door made up of 17th-century panelling. The roof of the dorter has double collar-beams and trussed rafters, with occasional king-posts on the lower collar-beams, which are supported by curved braces forming four-centred arches (Plate p. 182).

Maldon, Plan Showing Position of Monuments Described.

The Frater Range (27 ft. wide) has been destroyed except for a fragment containing the former passage under its E. end; the 13th-century N. and S. entrances of this passage remain; each with chamfered jambs and two-centred head, but it has been sub-divided by 16th-century and modern partitions; the walls retain the springing of the original barrel vault. In the E. wall of the passage is a 16th-century brick doorway with a flat four-centred head, opening into a small lobby between the passage and the dorter sub-vault; in the N. wall of this lobby is a doorway incorporating remains of a 13th-century doorway with a blocked two-centred head; it opens into a narrow compartment probably under a straight stair to the dorter; in the S. wall of the lobby is a modern window in a roughly cut opening which may represent a former doorway. On the first floor is a single room formerly open to the roof; in the N. wall is a late 14th or early 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights under a square head; it appears to have been re-set in modern times; further E. is a narrow doorway with an oak frame having a four-centred head enriched with painted scroll pattern. In the S. wall is an 18th-century window. In the W. wall is a recess with chamfered jambs and four-centred head of 16th-century brick; in it is a modern window; further N. is a late 16th-century stone fire-place (Plate p. 247) brought from Monument (17) in Maldon All Saints; it has moulded jambs and flat four-centred arch with carved spandrels and frieze. Over this room is a 16th-century attic entered from a brick doorway with a four-centred head and a door made up of 17th-century panelling; on the S. side is a 16th or 17th-century dormer-window of three lights; in the W. wall is a 16th-century brick fire-place with a four-centred head. The roof is probably mediæval and is of trussed-rafter type.

At the S. end the dorter range is prolonged by a timber-framed addition (Plate p. 183), probably of post-suppression date incorporating remains of the former passage to the rere-dorter. The E. wall which is part of the original structure, on the ground floor contains three windows; the northernmost is modern and has been inserted in the blocking of a triangular-headed doorway; the middle window is a 13th-century lancet; the southernmost is probably also of the 13th century, but now has a square head; the upper storeys have each a modern window. The S. wall is of 16th-century timber-framing, except for a short return of the masonry wall at the E. end of the ground storey; on the ground floor is a modern French window flanked by two 16th-century windows each of two lights with moulded mullions; the upper storeys have each two 17th-century windows. On the W. elevation the studding is filled with herring-bone and horizontal brick-nogging; the third storey projects on exposed joists, and the second storey formerly also projected but was under-built in the 17th century; the lower bressumer is enriched with carved ornament and appears to have been moulded; on the ground floor is a 17th-century window of four transomed lights; the upper storeys probably each had a 16th-century oriel window flanked by two small windows with moulded mullions and frames, but the oriels have been replaced by modern windows. Inside the western rooms on the first and second floors are 16th-century brick fireplaces each with a three-centred head, now plastered. On the first floor is a door made up of 17th-century panelling. On the second floor are two plain 17th-century roof trusses.

N. of the chapter house are two stone coffins, one with a ridged lid, and there are various architectural fragments in the garden.


(4). Homestead Moat at Maldon Hall, nearly 1 m. W.S.W. of St. Peter's tower.

Monuments (5–17).

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. Several of the buildings have original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good, or fairly good.

(5). Little Beeleigh Farm, house, 1¼ m. W. of St. Peter's tower, was built c. 1500. Late in the 16th century a wing was added on the W. side. The upper storey projects on the E. front and has a moulded bressumer and brackets with foliated spandrels. Inside the building is an original moulded ceiling-beam and some early 17th-century panelling. The roof has an original king-post truss.

High Street, N. side

(6). Houses (Nos. 69 and 71), 90 yards E. of St. Peter's tower, were built probably in the middle of the 16th century. The upper storey projects at each end of the front; and there are three gables on this side of which the easternmost (Plate p. 228) projects with original moulded barge-boards, fascia and shaped brackets; the lower projection has similar brackets and fascia. Inside the building is some early 17th-century panelling and a door with fluted, quadrant-shaped panels in the head.

(7). Houses and shops (Nos. 65 and 67), W. of (6), were built probably in the 17th century.

S. side

(8). House and shops (Nos. 46 and 48), 100 yards W.S.W. of St. Peter's tower. The rectangular building at the back is of the 15th century, but the front part of the structure is of early 17th-century date much altered and with a modern front. Inside the building on the W. side is an early 17th-century staircase with flat-shaped balusters and moulded hand-rails; there is also some 17th-century panelling and two doors of the same date. The building at the back has original king-post roof-trusses, and in the N. wall are two 17th-century windows.

(9). House and shop (No. 50), E. of (8), is of four and three storeys. It was built late in the 17th century but has been refronted and extensively altered.

(10). House (Nos. 54 and 56), 10 yards E. of (9), is of three storeys with attics; the walls are of red brick. It was built early in the 18th century and has plain string-courses between the storeys and a modillioned cornice of wood. The windows have flat heads cut in a wavy form. In the roof are four pedimented dormers. Inside the building some rooms have original plain deal panelling. An upper staircase has flat shaped balusters, a close string and newels with ball-tops, cut into facets.

(11). Chequers Inn, 10 yards E. of (10), was built late in the 17th century and has a modern brick front. Inside the building the staircase has original turned balusters.

(12). House and shop (No. 66), 15 yards E. of (11), was built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century, but has been much altered.

(13). House (No. 70), E. of (12), is modern, but contains part of an early 18th-century staircase with turned balusters and close string, some 17th-century panelling and a carved beam with the date 1597. In an outbuilding is a re-used and four-centred door-head probably of the same period as the beam.

Market Hill, W. side

(14). House and shop (No. 1), opposite St. Peter's tower, was built probably early in the 17th century.

(15). Building, 10 yards W. of (14), was built probably late in the 17th century.

E. side

(16). House (Nos. 22 and 24), 200 yards N. of St. Peter's tower, was built probably in the 15th century with a central Hall and cross-wings at the N. and S. ends. The upper storey projected in front at the ends of the cross-wings but the S. projection has been under-built. The Hall has been divided into two storeys. Inside the building the main block has an original roof-truss with a rebated king-post and four-way struts.

(17). House, now two tenements, 15 yards N. of (16), was built probably in the 17th century. The upper storey projects on the W. front.


(18). Mound, probably tumulus 550 yards S. of (3), has a diameter of about 120 ft. and is now 4 ft. high.

Condition—Almost obliterated.