Great Leighs

Pages 99-102

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 and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.


In this section

33. GREAT LEIGHS. (F.b.)

(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxxiv. N.W. (b)xxxiv. S.W. (c)xliv. N.W.)

Great Leighs is a parish 6 m. N.N.E. of Chelmsford. The Church is the principal monument.


b(1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands in the middle of the parish. The walls are of flint-rubble with some conglomerate in the chancel and some bricks, probably Roman, in the buttresses; the dressings are of clunch and limestone; the roofs are tiled. The Nave and West Tower were built late in the 12th century. The Chancel was re-built c. 1330. The church was restored during the 19th century, and the North Vestry, South Porch and the spire are modern.

The 12th-century round tower is interesting, and amongst the fittings the early 14th-century monument, sedilia and piscina are noteworthy.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (35 ft. by 19½ ft.), is entirely of c. 1330, and has a moulded internal string-course much restored at the level of the window sills. The partly restored E. window (Plate p. xxx) is of four trefoiled ogee lights with net tracery in a two-centred head; the external jambs, head and label and the rear-arch are moulded. In the N. wall are two windows, partly restored, of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the detail is similar to that of the E. window. In the S. wall are three windows similar to those in the N. wall, and much restored; between the two western windows is a much restored doorway with moulded jambs, two-centred arch and label; further W. is a 'low-side' window, now blocked, with moulded jambs and two-centred head. There is no structural chancel-arch.

The Nave (47 ft. by 24¾ ft.), has in the N. wall three windows; the easternmost is of the 15th century and of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a square head; the moulded label has carved head-stops and a lion's head mask at the E. angle; the two western windows are both of the 12th century and of a single light, with chamfered jambs and semi-circular head; between them is the 15th-century N. doorway with moulded jambs, four-centred arch and label with carved head-stops much defaced. In the S. wall are three windows; the easternmost is similar to the easternmost in the N. wall, but has no carved stops to the label; the second window is a single 12th-century light similar to those in the N. wall; the westernmost window is of early 14th-century date and of two trefoiled lights under a two-centred head with a moulded label and one carved head-stop; between the two western windows is the 14th-century S. doorway set within the 12th-century opening; it has moulded jambs, two-centred arch and segmental rear-arch; above the arch externally is the outer order of the late 12th-century arch with cheveron ornament and a chamfered label, enriched with conventional foliage in low relief.

The West Tower (17 ft. in diameter) is of late 12th-century date and circular on plan; it is of three stages, undivided externally, and has five pilaster buttresses stopping at the floor level of the second stage; the westernmost buttress rests on the label of the W. doorway. The lower part of the E. wall has been re-built, and in it is a modern doorway to the nave; on either side are straight joints, and on the N. side is the springing of a segmental arch, probably all part of the former tower-arch. The 12th-century W. doorway has plain jambs and a semi-circular arch of two moulded orders with moulded imposts; the outer order of the arch has cheveron ornament and a chamfered label. The second stage has two ranges of 13th-century loops, three in each range, and set above one another towards the N., S. and W.

The Roof of the modern S. porch has some old timbers, possibly of the 15th century.

Fittings—Bells: five; all by Miles Graye, 1634. In ground stage of tower—head-stock of bell, 17th-century. Brass and Indent. Brass: In chancel—(1) of Ralph Strelley, 1414, rector of the parish, half figure in mass vestments, and inscription plate, head of effigy lost and replaced by (2) head of priest, c. 1370; see indent. Indent: In chancel—on N. side, of figure of priest and inscription plates and scroll, 14th-century. Chest: In second stage of tower—iron-bound with segmental lid, possibly 16th-century. Doors: In chancel—in S. doorway, with horizontal battens and strap-hinges, 16th-century. In tower—in E. doorway, with three moulded panels, late 17th-century. Font: Octagonal, each face of bowl with quatre-foiled panels, six filled with conventional foilage, and two with shields—(a) a bend sinister engrailed with defaced charges thereon; (b) a saltire; panelled stem, 15th-century, base cut away and rough panels cut in sides. Glass: In chancel—in heads of windows in N. wall, foliage, borders and grisaille, 14th-century, in situ. In vestry—panel made up of fragments, late 14th and early 15th-century. In nave—in easternmost window in N. wall, borders and grisaille in heads of lights and in-tracery, 15th-century, in situ. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monument: In chancel—in N. wall, canopied tomb-recess (Plate p. 103), with septfoiled and sub-cusped arch with foliated spandrels and springing from clustered responds with moulded capitals and bases, above arch a moulded and crocketed gable with a carved finial and a tympanum richly carved with vine foliage, at sides, pinnacled, crocketed and gabled buttresses, attached to wall, early 14th-century. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to Thomas Gynes, 1652, and his wife, 1704, etc.; (2) to John Keble, 1699, sergeant-at-law, with achievement of arms. Niche: In E. gable of chancel—outside, with trefoiled head, 14th-century, entirely restored. Piscina: In chancel—in range with sedilia with cinque-foiled ogee head, side shafts with moulded bases and foliated capitals, richly crocketed gable with carved finial and trefoiled spandrel, at sides gabled and crocketed buttresses with rich pinnacles, c. 1330, partly restored, sill modern. Plate: Includes a cup and cover-paten of 1560. Seating: In nave—eight seats or pews with moulded back rail and traceried and buttressed bench-ends, two pews with panelled and traceried backs, late 15th-century. Sedilia: In chancel—in range with piscina, three, each with arches, gables and buttresses uniform with those of the piscina, c. 1330, much restored. Stoup: In S. porch—E. of S. doorway, remains of recess, much defaced, date uncertain. Tiles: Near font, two, partly glazed.


Great Leighs Parish Church, Detail of Sedilia and Piscina


b(2). Gubbions Hall, house, barn and moat, about 1¼ m. N. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are timber-framed and plastered, and the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 17th century and has later additions at the W. end.

The Barn, N. of the house, is probably of c. 1500 and of three bays but has been lengthened at each end. The original part of the roof is of the king-post type.

The Moat surrounds the house and there is a second small oval moat to the W.

Condition—Of house, good.

b(3). Lyons Hall, 100 yards W. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are mainly of modern brick but with some plastered timber-framing; the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 15th century with a central Hall and cross-wings at the N.W. and S.E. ends; the S.E. wing was re-built and a floor inserted in the Hall probably early in the 17th century. There are large modern additions on the N.E. side. At the N.W. end is a 17th-century chimney-stack with three conjoined shafts set diagonally. Inside the building there are some exposed ceiling-beams and the roof of the N.W. wing has an original king-post truss with curved braces.

Condition—Good, much altered.

Monuments (4–26).

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

Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.

c(4). Whitehouse Farm, house and outbuildings, 2/3 m. S. of the church. The House formed one wing of a late 15th or early 16th-century building. At the N.W. end is a late 17th-century window of three lights with moulded mullions. Inside the building the ground floor has original moulded ceiling-beams and plates.

The Outbuilding stands S. of the house; the upper storey projects at the S. end. The two Barns are of six and four bays respectively.

c(5). Lawns Farm, house, barn, and moat, about 1 m. S. of the church. The House is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E. The S. wing was built early in the 16th century and in the 17th century the E. wing was added. The upper storey projects on the E. side of the S. wing on curved brackets. The central chimney-stack of the E. wing has attached diagonal pilasters. Inside the building are two original doors of moulded and feathered battens.

The Barn N. of the house is of five bays.

The Moat is incomplete.

c(6). Alstead's Farm, house, 1½ m. S.S.W. of the church, has a modern addition at the N. end.

c(7). Wakerings Farm, house, ¾ m. S.S.W. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E. The western half of the E. wing was built probably in the 15th century and extended to the E. in the 16th century. The S. wing is of 17th-century date and has been refronted with modern brick. Inside the building, in the E. wing, is the bressumer supporting an upper storey which formerly projected; on the beam are the moulded heads of two former windows. On the first floor are two 16th-century windows each of three lights with moulded frames and mullions and diamond-shaped intermediate mullions. The roof has an original braced and cambered tie-beam.

b(8). Goodman's Farm, house, 800 yards W. of the church, was built in the 15th century with a central Hall and a Solar and Kitchen wings at the E. and W. ends. The main block was heightened in the 17th century and a staircase added at the back. The upper storey projects at the N. end of both cross-wings. The 17th-century chimney-stack at the E. end has two conjoined shafts, set diagonally. Inside the building, the W. cross-wing has an original king-post truss, now incorporated in a partition. On the first floor there are three original windows with diamond-shaped mullions and now blocked.

b(9). Lowley's Farm, house, 700 yards W.N.W. of (8), has modern additions at the back and an original porch in front with a projecting upper storey. The original chimney-stack has grouped shafts set diagonally.

b(10). Post Office, shop and tenement, about 1 m. N.W. of the church, has an 18th-century wing at the back.

b(11). Cottage, five tenements, opposite (10).

b(12). Watt's Charity, cottage 1½ m. N.N.W. of the church. The original central chimney-stack is cross-shaped on plan.

b(13). Cottage, 300 yards N.N.W. of (12), is of T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the E. end. The W. wing is an addition to the main block.

b(14). Bream's Farm (Plate p. 110), house, 150 yards W. of (13), was built late in the 15th century with a central Hall and cross-wing at the E. and W. ends. In the 16th century the Hall was divided into two storeys, and early in the 17th century an extension was built at the N. end of the E. wing. The upper storey projects at the S. end of both cross-wings. Inside the building there are two original moulded ceiling-beams and on the first floor are three original windows with diamond-shaped mullions and now blocked. The roof of the former Hall has an original cambered tie-beam with curved braces forming a four-centred arch. The roof of the E. cross-wing has also an original tie-beam with curved braces.

a(15). Mulsham Hall, house and barn, nearly 2 m. N. by W. of the church. The House is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the E. and S. There are modern additions on the N. side.

The Barn, E. of the house, is of six bays with two porches.

a(16). North Whitehouse Farm, house, about 1¾ m. N.N.E. of the church, has an original central chimney-stack with a moulded capping. Inside the building is a window with diamond-shaped mullions and now blocked.

Gubbions Green

b(17). Cottage, two tenements, 1¼ m. N. of the church.

b(18). Cottage, 60 yards S.W. of (17).

b(19). Cottage, 70 yards W. of (18).

b(20). Cottage, 1 m. N. of the church, has an original chimney-stack with conjoined shafts set diagonally.

b(21). Cottage, 200 yards W. of (20). Inside the building is a re-used moulded beam of the 16th-century.

b(22). Cottage, two tenements, 300 yards S. of (21).

b(23). Bishop's Hall, ¾ m. N. of the church, is of T-shaped plan.

b(24). Cottage, 150 yards S. of (23), was built probably early in the 18th century.


b(25). Cottage, ¼ m. S. by E. of (24), was built early in the 16th century, apparently with a Hall and Solar wing. The Hall was divided into two storeys in the 17th century. Inside the building, the roof has an original tie-beam and wind-braced purlins.

b(26). Cottage, 1,000 yards E.N.E. of the church.