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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16. CHIGNALL. (E.b.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xliii. N.W. (b)xliii. S.W. (c)xliii. S.E.)
Chignall is a parish, 3 m. N.W. of Chelmsford, formed by the union of Chignall St. James and Chignall Smealey in 1888. The two churches are interesting.
b(1). Parish Church of St. James stands in the S.W. angle of the parish. The walls are of flint-rubble with some admixture of freestone and fragments of Roman brick; the dressings are of limestone and brick; the roofs are tiled. The Chancel and Nave are of uncertain date, the earliest detail being of late 13th- or early 14th-century date. The E. and S. walls of the chancel were probably re-built early in the 16th century, and the rood stair-turret was added at the same period. The church was restored in the 19th century; the North Porch is modern and the South Porch and bell-cote have apparently been re-built.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (19½ ft. by 14½ ft.) has an E. window of two cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label; it is probably of the 15th century, perhaps re-set in the 16th century. In the N. wall is a late 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights under a four-centred head with a moulded label. In the S. wall is an early 16th-century window of brick and of two lights with four-centred heads and spandrel under a four-centred arch. There is no chancel arch and the junction between the S. wall and the nave is almost a straight joint.
The Nave (34½ ft. by 16 ft.) has in the N. wall a window uniform with that in the S. wall of the chancel; further E. is the rood stair-turret, now altered to form an approach to the pulpit; the lower doorway has an early 16th-century moulded oak frame and four-centred arch in a square head with spandrels carved with a cockle-shell and a fisherman's creel, for St. James; the upper doorway is modern; the late 13th or early 14th-century N. doorway, W. of the window, is partly restored and has jambs and two-centred arch of two chamfered orders. In the S. wall is a window uniform with that in the N. wall; further W. is the S. doorway, probably of the 14th century and with stop-chamfered jambs and two-centred arch. In the W. wall is a modern window.
The Roof of the chancel is probably of the 15th century with chamfered plates, trussed rafters and a tie-beam at the W. end, grooved on the soffit for boarding. The late 15th-century roof of the nave has carved and moulded plates and trussed rafters; near the middle is a truss with curved and moulded braces to the collar; the spandrels are carved with foliage and a pierced molet, seven pointed star, Stafford Knot and Bourchier Knot; near the W. end is a tie-beam with mouldings and cresting on the E. face; it supported a former bell-turret and W. of it the wall-plates are modern.
Fittings—Door: In S. doorway—modern, but with two strap hinges, 16th-century. Glass: Till recently in E. window—panel of Dutch glass, 17th-century, and a roundel with I H S and motto, 16th-century. Piscina: In chancel—with moulded jambs and segmental-pointed head, late 13th or early 14th-century re-set, no drain. Plate: includes cup of 1667.
a(2). Parish Church of St. Nicolas stands in the village of Chignall Smealey. The walls are entirely of red brick; the roofs are tiled. The church, including the Chancel, North Vestry, Nave and West Tower, was built early in the 16th century. In the 19th century the North Aisle was added and the church restored; the South Porch and an annexe N. of the Vestry are modern.
The church is interesting as a complete brick building. Among the fittings the communion cup of 1597 and the brick font and niches are noteworthy.
Architectural Description—All the details are of red brick and of early 16th-century date, unless otherwise described. The whole building has a double chamfered plinth.
The Chancel (17 ft. by 14¼ ft.) has an E. window of three lights, two with pointed and one with a four-centred head, all under a four-centred head with a moulded label and partly restored in stone. In the N. wall is a doorway with chamfered jambs and four-centred head. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern is of one light with a four-centred head and is now blocked; the western window is of two lights with a four-centred head, restored with old bricks, with the mullion carried up to the apex probably in the 18th century; between the windows is a doorway with chamfered jambs and four-centred head. There is no chancel-arch.
The North Vestry has in the E. wall a window, partly restored and of two lights with four-centred heads in a four-centred main head with a moulded label. In the W. wall is a narrow opening with a four-centred head.
The Nave (23¼ ft. by 16¼ ft.) has a modern N. arcade of two bays. In the S. wall is a window of two four-centred lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label; further W. is the S. doorway with double chamfered jambs and a four-centred arch with sunk spandrels each with a blank shield, and over all a square moulded label.
The North Aisle is modern but incorporates in the N. wall a window uniform with that in the nave; further W. is the N. doorway with chamfered jambs and a four-centred head. In the W. wall is a window uniform with that in the N. wall and partly restored.
The West Tower (9 ft. square) is of three stages with angle buttresses above which are small anglepilasters which support square pinnacles with moulded caps and bases; the high embattled parapet has moulded copings and string-course; the walls have diapering in dark brick. The two-centred tower-arch is of three chamfered orders; the responds have attached semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The W. window is uniform with that in the nave. The second stage has in the W. wall a single-light window with a four-centred head and spandrels. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window uniform with that in the nave, but with the mullion and inner order of the jambs and head restored.
The Roof of the chancel has moulded plates, trussed rafters and one tie-beam. The roof of the nave is similar but has one pair of curved principals.
Fittings—Bell: one, said to be uninscribed but ancient. Communion Table: In vestry—with turned legs, plain rails and shaped brackets, late 17th-century, top modern. Doors: In chancel— in doorway to vestry, of plain battens with disc scutcheon and drop handle; in doorway in S. wall, with old battens repaired with new; in nave —in S. doorway of feathered battens with two strap-hinges and circular scutcheon with domical centre, pierced ornament and drop handle, all early 16th-century. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to Joseph, son of Richard Luckin, 1685. In nave— (2) to Frances, daughter of Thomas Clopton, 1675; (3) to Richard Luckins, 1657. Font: of brick, octagonal with chamfered under-edge and plinth, early 16th-century. Glass: In nave—in S. window, fragment of oak-leaf design, 14th-century. In N. aisle—in E. window, ten quarries with running foliage, 14th-century. Indent: In nave—of man in short cloak, and inscription plate, 15th-century. Niches: In chancel—two, flanking E. window, with trefoiled segmental heads, all of brick, early 16th-century. In nave— in S. wall uniform with those in chancel. Piscinæ: In chancel—with trefoiled segmental-pointed head, early 16th-century, no drain. In nave—in S. wall, uniform with that in chancel. Plate: includes a secular cup of 1617 with baluster stem, chased bowl and chased domical lid (Plate p. xxxix). Pulpit: octagonal, each side with three panels, top panel with fluted ornament, middle panel bolection moulded, lower panel plain, cornice with egg and dart ornament, probably early 17th-century. Screen: between chancel and nave, of seven bays, central bay forming doorway with four-centred head and spandrels carved with foliage, a blank shield and a flower, side bays with trefoiled and sub-cusped ogee heads and tracery, cusp points with carved roses, close lower panels, part with reeded muntins, moulded middle rail, early 16th-century, cornice modern. Seating: In nave—six benches with moulded rails and plain bench-ends with moulded capping, early 16th-century.
b(3). At supposed site of St. Mary's Church, 2/3 m. N.N.W. of St. James's Church.
a(4). At Dyves Hall, 400 yards E. of Chignall Smealey Church.
a(5). S.E. of Beremen's Farm and 400 yards N.W. of Chignall Smealey Church.
b(6). Chignall Hall, house and moat, about ½ m. N.W. of St. James' Church. The House is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably about the middle of the 16th century on an H-shaped plan, but the cross-wings have been re-built. The upper storey projects on the E. front of the main block. Inside the building is a wall-plate with carved brackets and inscribed "The bulden (=building) of Chikklnold foust (=? finished) in the her of our Lord God 1552 John Masan"; a wall-post opposite has the date 1686 and initials I. P.
The Moat lies to the N. of the house.
Condition—Of house, good, much altered.
c(7). Gray's Farm (Plate p. 110), house and moat, 1,400 yards S.E. of Chignall Smealey Church. The House is of two storeys with attics, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably in the 15th or early in the 16th century, with a central Hall and cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. Early in the 17th century the Hall was raised and divided into two storeys and various additions made at the back. On the S. front the upper storey projects at the ends of the cross wings, and on this side there are several 17th-century windows; two tablets in the gables are inscribed W. L. 1743, probably the date of some repairs. The central chimney-stack has three grouped shafts. Inside the building are some original windows with diamond-shaped mullions, and in the main block is an original cambered tie-beam. There is a little early 17th-century panelling and some flat, shaped balusters, re-used.
The Moat is fragmentary.
Condition—Of house, fairly good.
c(8). Brickbarns Farm, house, now two tenements, about 1 m. E.S.E. of St. James' Church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the W. and S. The original central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts.
a(9). Cottage, S.W. of Chignall Smealey Church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and weather-boarded; the roofs are covered with slate. It was built probably in the 15th or early in the 16th century and has a cross-wing at the E. end. The upper storey projects at the N. end of the cross-wing. Inside the building the cross-wing has exposed ceiling-beams and a moulded bracket; in the N. wall is an original window with diamond-shaped mullions, and now blocked.
a(10). House, now two tenements, 50 yards N.E. of Chignall Smealey Church, is of two storeys, partly timber-framed and partly of brick; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably late in the 16th century and has an original chimney-stack with four octagonal shafts and a modern brick front.
b(11). Entrenchment, S.W. of Chignall Hall. On a small promontory in a bend of the River Can is the S.W. angle of an entrenched site. The work now consists, on the south, of a double bank with a dry ditch between, and, on the west, of a steep scarp with a wet ditch at the bottom. The original entrance was probably on the W. side.