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


I feel that I cannot do better than follow the example of my predecessor, Lord Burghclere, in the general arrangement of the prefatory notes to this volume. For this reason a great deal of what follows in explanation of the arrangement of these pages and of the manner in which the monuments have been recorded is identical with that which has already appeared in the preface to the first volume.

This volume contains (in addition to the terms of appointment and the official report with a list of monuments that the Commissioners have selected as especially worthy of preservation) a Sectional Preface which, under subject headings, calls attention to any particularly interesting examples mentioned in the Inventory; an illustrated Inventory, with a concise account of the monuments visited; a glossary of architectural, heraldic and archæological terms; a map showing the topographical distribution of the scheduled monuments, and an index.

Under the heads of parishes, arranged alphabetically, will be found a list of their respective monuments, and an introductory paragraph which calls attention to the more noticeable monuments in the parish. The chronological sequence chosen is not perhaps scientifically perfect, but it has been found a workable basis for classification. The order adopted is as follows:—

(1) Pre-historic monuments and earthworks.

(2) Roman monuments and Roman earthworks.

(3) English ecclesiastical monuments.

(4) English secular monuments.

(5) Unclassified monuments.

In addition to dwelling houses, the English secular class (4) includes all such earthworks as mount and bailey castles, homestead moats, etc. To the section of unclassified monuments (5) are assigned all undatable earthworks.

The enquiries for this volume were initiated before the War, and each category of monuments has been under the care of separate Sub-Commissions, with the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, the late Professor Haverfield, the late Lord Burghclere, and myself as Chairman.

The descriptions of the monuments are of necessity much compressed, but the underlying principle on which accounts of any importance are based is the same throughout. Thus, in the case of ecclesiastical monuments, the description begins with a few words on the situation and material of the monument, together with a statement as to the development of its various parts. A second paragraph calls attention, when necessary, to its more remarkable features. This is followed by a concise description, mainly architectural, of its details. A fourth paragraph deals with the fittings of churches in alphabetical order, while the concluding sentence gives a general statement as to structural condition. The accounts of less important buildings, whether secular or ecclesiastical, are still further compressed, and in the case of secular monuments consists of a single paragraph, or of a mere mention of their situation if they belong to a group with certain characteristics described in a covering paragraph.

The illustrations are derived from photographs taken expressly for the Commission, and reproduced by H.M.'s Stationery Office. They have been chosen rather for their educational than their æsthetic value. Had appearance alone been made the test of selection, many more might easily have been included. The map at the end of the Inventory shows the distribution of the monuments, and incidentally throws some light on the concentration of population in the country at various times before the year 1714.

To ensure clearness of description, all ancient churches not illustrated by historically hatched plans have been provided in this volume with key plans to a uniform scale of 48 feet to the inch, with the monumental portions shown in solid black; the dimensions given in the Inventory are internal unless otherwise stated; and monuments with titles in italics are covered by an introductory sentence to which reference should be made. Further, the index has again been revised at the hands of the small Committee of the Commission, whose report and recommendations were adopted for the preparation of the index to Essex, Volume I.

It may also be well again to draw attention to the fact that our Record Cards may be consulted by any properly accredited persons, by giving notice of any such intention to our Secretary, at 66, Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W.1. The cards contain drawings of tracery and mouldings as well as plans and sketches of the monuments—forming in truth the complete National Inventory—and will ultimately be deposited for reference in the Public Records Office.

As in the past, no monument has been or will be included in our Inventories that has not been actually inspected and the account checked in situ by a member of our own investigating staff. In a work of such intricate detail there must be mistakes. But I hope these are neither numerous nor serious. A further guarantee of accuracy lies in the fact that Mr. W. Page, F.S.A., Mr. C. R. Peers, F.S.A. (Director of the Society of Antiquaries), have revised the reports of our Inventories on secular and ecclesiastical monuments, while Mr. D.H. Montgomerie, F.S.A., has himself visited and supervised the reports on earthworks. As before, the heraldry of the Inventory has been checked by the Reverend E.E. Dorling, F.S.A.; the descriptions of armour by Mr. J. Murray Kendall, F.S.A. (Assistant to the Secretary of the Imperial War Museum); the descriptions of glass by our colleague, Dr. M.R. James, F.S.A., F.B.A., Provost of Eton College; the descriptions of brasses by Mr. Mill Stephenson, F.S.A.; and the spelling of names and descriptions of costumes by Mr. O. Barron, F.S.A. Nevertheless I shall welcome any corrections and criticisms that may be sent to me with a view to their possible inclusion in some future edition.

The Commission's Report included with this volume records the deep sense of loss felt by the Commissioners at the deaths of Lord Burghclere, Professor Haverfield and of Sir William St. John Hope (Assistant Commissioner); mention is also made of the services of the Staff during the War, and the gallant actions which secured Military Crosses for three of our Investigators.

It will be noted also that the list of Monuments selected by the Commission as especially worthy of preservation is incorporated in the Report (par. 16) instead of forming, as hitherto, an appendix to the Inventory.

It is much to be regretted that owing to the financial exigencies of the time it has not been possible to restore our staff to its pre-war strength, and that a further reduction in number has still to be faced. The success that has already attended the publication of the Commission's Inventories, and their value in securing the preservation of monuments of historical interest, that otherwise might have been destroyed, leads me to hope that the reduction of the work of investigation that must result will only be temporary, and I welcome the recent accession of strength that has been allowed to the body of Commissioners through the appointments of Sir Arthur John Evans, Sir Charles Hercules Read, Dr. Montague Rhodes James, Mr. Duncan Hector Montgomerie, Mr. William Page, and Mr. Charles Reed Peers.