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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'Roydon', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2, Central and South west, (London, 1921) pp. 207-209. British History Online [accessed 25 April 2024]

In this section

80. ROYDON (B.b.)

(O.S. 6 in. (a)xl. S.E. (b)xlix. N.E.)

Roydon is a parish and village in the Stort valley, 4½ m. W.S.W. of Harlow. The Church and Nether Hall are the principal monuments.


a(1). Parish Church of St. Peter stands in the village. The walls are of flint-rubble, mixed with some freestone; the dressings are of limestone and clunch; the roofs are tiled. The Nave was built in the first half of the the 13th century. c. 1330 the North Aisle was added, and late in the same century the West Tower was built. Early in the 15th century the Chancel was re-built. The church was restored in the 19th century.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (28½ ft. by 18½ ft.) has a 15th-century E. window, partly restored, and of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label. In the N. wall are two 15th-century windows, the eastern is of one cinque-foiled light under a square head with a moulded label, and the western window is similar, but of two lights; both have been partly restored. In the S. wall are two 15th-century windows, the eastern is of two cinque-foiled lights in a segmental-pointed head with a moulded label; the western window is of two cinque-foiled lights rebated for shutters and is set low in the wall; between the windows is a doorway; all modern externally. There is no chancel-arch.

The Nave (49½ ft. by 18½ ft.) has an early 14th-century N. arcade with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the octagonal columns have moulded capitals and bases; the responds have attached half columns. In the S. wall are three windows, the easternmost is of 14th-century date, partly restored, and of two cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the second window is of mid 15th-century date and of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a segmental head with a moulded label; the westernmost window is of lancet form and completely restored; between the two western windows is the 14th-century S. doorway, entirely covered with cement externally.

The North Aisle (16 ft. wide) has in the E. wall a 14th-century window of three trefoiled ogee lights with net tracery in a two-centred head. In the N. wall are three 14th-century windows, all much restored and each of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery, with a two-centred head to the two eastern windows and with a square head to the westernmost window; this window is set higher in the wall than the others, and partly below it is the 14th-century N. doorway with double-chamfered jambs, two-centred arch and moulded label. In the W. wall is a window uniform with that in the E. wall but much restored.

The West Tower (11½ ft. by 11ft.) is of three stages with an embattled parapet and has been almost completely restored externally. The late 14th-century tower-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders dying on to the responds. The W. doorway is cemented, except the splays and rear-arch. The late 14th-century W. window is of two cinque-foiled ogee lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head. The second stage has in the W. wall a window of two cinque-foiled lights with a sexfoil in a two-centred head, all cemented. The bell-chamber has in each wall a two-light window, almost entirely modern.

The Roof of the chancel has cambered tie-beams and hollow-chamfered wall-plates, probably of the 15th century. The 15th-century roof of the nave has three plain tie-beams (two cased), with king-posts, two-way struts and central purlin. The 14th-century roof of the N. aisle has three trusses; the octagonal king-posts have moulded capitals and bases and two-way struts.

Fittings—Brasses: In chancel—(1) of Thomas Colte, 1471, and Johanne, his wife, with figures of man in plate armour with collar, and woman in mantle with butterfly head-dress and collar of suns and roses; four shields of arms: (a) a fesse between [three galloping colts] for Colt; (b) two cheverons and a border engrailed for Tyrell impaling Colte; (c) Colte impaling gyronny for Trusbut; (d) as (c); a loose shield of Trusbut belonging to this brass is now preserved at the Vicarage; (2) of John Colte [1521], and Elizabeth (Eldrington) and Mary (Anle?), his wives, with figures of man in armour and tabard and two women in heraldic mantles, eighteen children, mutilated marginal inscription with evangelistic symbols (one missing), three scrolls, one shield of arms, Colte impaling a fesse between two cheverons, for Anle or Inle, and three lead shields, one Colte, the other two illegible, indent of Trinity; (3) of [John Swifte, 1570], with figure in fur-lined cloak, five shields of arms; on S. wall, (4) of Elizabeth (Dinn), wife of John Stanley, 1589, plate with figures of woman and five children, and shield of arms. Chairs: In chancel—two with elaborately carved backs and rails, late 17th-century. Font (Plate p. 6): octagonal bowl with four carved heads in hats with rolled brims, circular stem with four detached shafts of Purbeck marble with continuous moulded capitals and bases, late 13th-century. Glass: In chancel—in N.E. and S.W. windows, quarries with foliated designs, late 15th-century. In N. aisle—in E. and N. windows, fragments of tabernacle work and borders, grisaille, 14th-century. Monument and Floor-slabs. Monument: In chancel—on S. wall, to Margaret (Heath) wife successively of John Ducket, John Swift, and Henry Colt, 1602, also to John Swift, and Richard, his son, 1601, tablet flanked by enriched pilasters with cresting and four shields of arms. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to Amphillis (Butler), wife of Robert Wyld, 1676, with shield of arms; (2) to Elizabeth (Percival), wife of Nathaniel Gyles, 1695. Painting: In N. aisle—on N. wall, traces of painting. Piscina: In chancel—square chamfered recess, now filled by brass, date uncertain. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1564. Scratchings: on N. doorway and in W. tower, dates and initials from 1601 to 1680. Screen (Plate p. 3): between chancel and nave, with doorway and five bays on each side, side bays with trefoiled ogee heads and cusped spandrels, elaborately moulded beam, close lower panels with quatrefoil peep-hole, c. 1340, mullions modern. Miscellanea: In vicarage—two open trefoiled panels of oak with moulded mullion, late 14th-century.

Condition—Good, but stonework much perished.


a(2). Nether Hall, ruins and moat, 1½ m. S.W. of the church. The Ruins consist of the gatehouse, angle towers and part of the curtain of a quadrangular fortified house. They are of red brick with some clunch dressings. The house was built probably late in the 15th century, but was dismantled and the domestic buildings entirely destroyed in the second half of the 18th century.

The ruins are of interest as a good example of a fortified brick manor-house.

Nether Hall, Plan

Architectural Description—The Gatehouse (Plates pp. 208–9), stands in the middle of the S. side of the quadrangle and is of three storeys with diapering in blue brick. It was flanked by two semi-octagonal towers of which the front of the eastern and the back of the western have fallen; adjoining the eastern tower is another semi-octagonal projection rising to the full height of the building, and behind it is the staircase-turret. The outer face of the W. tower has cruciform loops to the ground floor and windows with four-centred heads and square labels; the E. annexe has square-headed windows. The parapets have corbel-tables of trefoiled brick arches, and there is a similar feature between the two lower storeys of the W. tower. Rising above the E. part of the gatehouse are two original chimney-shafts with moulded bases and spiral enrichment. Between the two towers is the original outer arch of the gateway, with moulded stone jambs and four-centred arch in a square head; the W. jamb has been restored; the rear-arch has a slot with two shutes communicating with the room above. Above the gateway are remains of a large square-headed window of stone, the lights of which had four-centred heads; above this window the wall is brought forward on a four-centred machicolation-arch, springing from the flanking towers and having a gap between it and the main wall face. The N. elevation has a portion of the original panelled and crow-stepped parapet on a trefoiled corbel-table.

The interior of the gatehouse was vaulted in three bays and there are traces of the springers in the S.W. and S.E. angles. In the E. wall is an original doorway of stone with moulded jambs and four-centred arch under a square label. On the E. side are three rooms, two with barrel-vaults and one having several recesses with four-centred heads. On the first floor there was apparently a large room extending over the gatehouse and into the two flanking towers, with which it communicated by moulded and four-centred arches. In the S.E. angle is an original oak boss carved with an irradiated rose with a tun in the centre. The floor above had similar arches opening into the towers, but only that on the W. side remains. Projecting from the back on the E. side was a semi-octagonal building enclosing the former staircase to the first floor, and access from the first floor to the second and the roof platform is obtained by a circular staircase further S. with a sunk and moulded brick handrail.

Adjoining the gatehouse on the E. is a length of curtain with an octagonal tower at the S.E. angle of the enclosure. This wall has loops and a trefoiled corbel-table continued round the tower at a higher level. The western part of the wall is carried up above the parapet and encloses two original windows with trefoiled heads and now blocked. There are traces of a former building against its N. face. Between this building and the angle tower are remains of the former embattled parapet. About half the E. curtain remains. The remainder of the curtain on the N., E. and W. sides is represented by foundations only, as are the N.E. and S.W. angle towers. The tower at the N.W. angle is still standing and is similar to that at the S.E. angle, but has a cruciform loop in each face. Foundation mounds of the domestic buildings are traceable about the middle of the site. The former garden to the N.E. has original brick walls with blue-brick diapering.

The Moat is rectangular and skirts the curtain walls; it has a brick revetment to the outer bank also.

Condition—Ruinous, much ivy on gatehouse.

a(3). Manor House, S.W. of (2), is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 16th century with a gabled cross-wing at the N. and S. ends. Probably in the 17th century a second gabled cross-wing was added at the S. end. On the E. front the upper storey projects at the ends of the cross-wings. Inside the building is an original doorway with a four-centred head and cusped spandrels.


Monuments (4–16).

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. Many of the buildings have original chimney-stacks, wide fireplaces, and exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good or fairly good.

a(4). School House, 30 yards S.E. of the church, was built probably late in the 16th century and has a cross-wing with a projecting upper storey at the S. end.

a(5). Cottage, 230 yards S. of (4), has an original chimney-stack with two diagonal shafts.

a(6). Elm Cottage, 100 yards E. of the church, has an original chimney-stack with grouped diagonal shafts.

a(7). Cottage, on N. side of main road, 180 yards S.E. of (5). The original chimney-stack has attached diagonal pilasters.

Eastend, S. side

a(8). House, 1,200 yards E. of the church, has an original chimney-stack with grouped diagonal shafts.

a(9). House, 100 yards N.E. of (8).

a(10). Cottage (Plate p. 44), 50 yards E. of (9,) was built early in the 16th century and has 17th-century modern additions at the back. On the N. front the upper storey projects on an original moulded bressumer, and the timber-framing is exposed. The two doorways are original and have four-centred heads, one with carved and foliated spandrels. One window has an original moulded mullion. The central chimney-stack has one octagonal and one diagonal shaft. Inside the building the middle room on the ground floor has original moulded wall-plates and ceiling-beam and a fireplace with moulded jambs and square head. A doorway has moulded jambs and four-centred head. The original roof has tie-beams with curved braces, and above a door on the first floor is some linen-fold panelling.

a(11). Lightfoot Farm, house 700 yards S. of the church, has an original chimney-stack with grouped and semi-diagonal shafts.

a(12). Cottage, at Halls Green, 1¼ m. S.S.E. of the church.

b(13). Black Swan Inn, at Roydon Hamlet, about 2 m. S.S.E. of the church, was built originally in the 16th century, but all but a part at the N. end was re-built in the 18th century.

a(14). House, on the N. side of the road, 700 yards S.E. of (2), has an original chimney-stack with grouped diagonal shafts.

a(15). Low Hill, house 400 yards N. of (2), has an original chimney-stack, cruciform on plan and set diagonally.

a(16). Pages, house and barn, 200 yards W. of (15); the barn is of three bays.