An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 3, North East. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1922.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
33. GREAT BROMLEY. (E.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxviii. N.E. (b)xxviii. S.E.)
Great Bromley is a parish 5½ m. E.N.E. of Colchester. The church is the principal monument.
a(1). Parish Church of St. George (Plates, pp. 112, 113) stands near the middle of the parish. The walls are of mixed rubble and some brick, with dressings of limestone; the roofs are covered with tiles and lead. The Chancel, Nave and South Aisle were built early in the 14th century. The North Aisle and the N. arcade were built about the middle of the 15th century, and the S. aisle was largely rebuilt; the South Chapel was added about the same time. About 1500 the clearstorey of the nave was built and the West Tower and South Porch were added. The church was generally restored in the 19th century, the chancel-arch being rebuilt.
The church is of considerable architectural interest, the late 15th-century hammer-beam roof of the nave being particularly rich.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (24½ ft. by 18¼ ft.) has an E. window, modern except for the 15th-century shafted splays. In the N. wall are two modern windows. In the S. wall is a mid 15th-century archway, two-centred and of two hollow chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases, all partly restored. The chancel-arch is modern.
The South Chapel (22 ft. by 14½ ft.) has a moulded plinth with trefoiled headed panels of flint-inlay. The E. window is modern. In the S. wall is a 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a segmental-pointed head with moulded jambs and label; further W. is a 15th-century doorway with moulded jambs, three-centred arch and label.
The Nave (41¼ ft. by 22 ft.) has a 15th-century N. arcade of three bays, with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the columns are octagonal with moulded capitals and bases; the responds have attached half columns; the thickening of the wall behind the W. respond may indicate a portion of the earlier nave; E. of the E. respond is a round-headed recess, probably a former squint. The S. arcade is of early 14th-century date and of three bays, with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the octagonal columns have moulded and carved capitals with restored bases; the E. respond has an attached shaft but the W. respond is plain; the capitals of the E. respond and of the first column are carved with oak foliage; the capital (Plate, p. 213) of the second column is carved with grotesque beasts, including one swallowing a man, another with a woman's head preyed upon by reptiles and an angel supporting a woman. The clearstorey (Plate, p. 143) has walls faced with knapped flints in traceried panels of freestone, and an embattled parapet of similar character ornamented with shields bearing the cross of St. George. On each side are seven late 15th-century windows each of two trefoiled ogee lights with vertical tracery in four-centred heads with moulded jambs and labels.
The North Aisle (11½ ft. wide) has a late 15th-century E. window of three cinquefoiled and transomed lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded lable and headstops. In the N. wall are two windows similar to that in the E. wall but much restored; further W. is the late 15th-century N. doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred head and label, with head-stops; the moulding and label are carved with flowers. In the W. wall is a window similar to that in the E. wall.
The South Aisle (average 12¼ ft. wide) has at the E. end of the N. wall the blocked lower doorway of the rood-loft staircase. In the S. wall is a window similar to the S. window of the S. chapel and partly restored; further W. is the S. doorway of c. 1400, with moulded jambs, two-centred arch and label all carved with running foliage; above the doorway are the reset spandrels of a late 15th or early 16th-century doorway carved with figures of Adam and Eve; in the middle of the head is a defaced moulded corbel. In the W. wall is a window of c. 1500 of three cinquefoiled ogee lights with vertical tracery in a segmental-pointed head with moulded jambs and label.
The West Tower (14½ ft. by 12½ ft.) is of late 15th-century date and of three stages with a moulded plinth enriched with quatrefoiled panels and a crow-stepped parapet with pinnacles at the angles; the buttresses are square on plan at the base developing above into octagonal turrets and triple buttresses; on the S.W. buttress is a shield of St. George. The tower-arch is two-centred and of three hollow-chamfered orders, the two outer continuous and the inner resting on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The W. window is modern except for the moulded jambs, two-centred head and label with head-stops; the W. doorway (Plate, p. 132) has moulded jambs and two-centred arch enriched with square flowers and set in a square head with a moulded label and stops carved with an angel with a shield and a griffon holding a scroll; the spandrels have foliage and quatrefoiled circles, one enclosing the letters I H C. The second stage has in the E. wall a blocked doorway to the roof. The N., S. and W. walls have each a window of one trefoiled light in a square head with a moulded label. The bell-chamber has in each wall a transomed window of three cinquefoiled lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label.
The South Porch has a moulded plinth and parapet and the whole of the wall-face of the S. end is finished with knapped flints with elaborately traceried panels of freestone; the buttresses have on the outer face moulded panels with crocketed heads and are finished with embattled pinnacles set diagonally; a similar but square pinnacle rises above the apex of the gable, the outer archway is two-centred and of two moulded orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases, the double label forms a square head, the spandrels of which are carved with figures of St. George and the dragon; below the stops are carved figures standing on small attached shafts, one of the figures is missing. Above the doorway is a large niche with triple buttressed jambs terminating in pinnacles and a rich canopy with three-sided cinquefoiled head, crockets and cresting, terminating in a crocketed and finialed spire. The side walls have each a window of three trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head with moulded jambs and label.
The Roof of the nave is of c. 1500 and of seven bays; the trusses are of the double hammer-beam type, with moulded main timbers and curved braces beneath the collars and hammer-beams, these last are foliated and either embattled or crested; the spandrels of the braces have boldly carved conventional foliage and the braces and wall-posts terminate in crocketed and canopied niches in which are defaced figures of saints; the stone corbels below them have carved cresting and alternate corbels are carved with half-angels; the richly moulded and embattled wall-plates have a deep band of traceried panelling enclosing shields, three of which bear the cross of St. George, a lower band of carving includes wings, crowns and flowers the two E. bays of the roof are painted. The 15th-century roof of the N. aisle is of pent type and of six bays with moulded main timbers. The roof of the S. chapel and S. aisle is continuous and incorporates some moulded 15th-century timbers.
Fittings— Brass and Indents. Brass: In S. chapel—of [William Bischopton, 1432], figure of priest in mass vestments with scroll and mutilated inscription, cinquefoiled canopy with crocketed gable and buttressed standards, pinnacles missing. Indents: In S. chapel—(1) of man in armour and wife, with inscription-plate and two shields, late 15th-century; (2) of man in armour, and wife, inscription-plate, shield, and two groups of children, 15th-century; (3) of civilian and wife, three shields, inscription-plate and one child, late 16th-century. In nave—(4) defaced; (5) of inscription-plate; (6) defaced; (7) of civilian, two wives, and inscription-plate, early 16th-century. In N. aisle— (8) white marble slab, with indent of head and hands of man, remains of figure in incised lines, with pedestal, canopy and side shafts, all much defaced. On same slab is another figure almost hidden by pews, late 15th-century. Chest (Plate, p. xxxii): In S. chapel—of hutch type, with carved and arcaded front of three bays, early 17th-century. Communion Table: In S. chapel— with turned legs, carved top rail and carved brackets, c. 1650. Doors: In N. doorway—with moulded vertical ribs, 16th or 17th-century. In S. doorway— of two folds, each divided into three vertical panels with trefoiled and sub-cusped heads and elaborate tracery in three tiers above them, pierced scutcheonplate, late 15th-century, part of tracery lost. In W. doorway (Plate, p. 132)—of two folds generally similar to above, but with tracery of different design, partly restored, same date. In doorway to turret staircase, with moulded frame and vertical rib planted on, 16th-century. Glass: In S. chapel —in S. window, shield of arms—gules three hammers or, handles argent, for Martel, wings at sides, 15th-century, below it quatrefoils with two roses, same date. Floor-slab: In the S. chapel—to Elizabeth Giels, 1699 (?). Niches: In S. chapel—in E. wall, two shallow recesses without ornament, 16th-century. In N. aisle— shallow recess with rough four-centred head, 15th-century. In S. aisle—in S. wall, round-headed recess, 15th-century. See also Architectural Description, S. porch. Painting: In nave—traces of red and black paint; on first pier in S. arcade, lower part of figure in red lines, probably of 15th-century. Piscinae: In chancel—with chamfered jambs and quatrefoiled drain, date uncertain, head modern. In S. chapel—in S. wall, with trefoiled head surmounted by crocketed and finialed gable, quatrefoiled frieze and embattled cornice, side buttresses with embattled capitals and finials, octofoiled drain, 14th-century. In N. aisle—in S. wall, with moulded jambs and cinquefoiled head, plain drain, 15th-century. Seat: In chancel —incorporating 15th-century carved fragments, Sedilia: In chancel—two bays with cinquefoiled head and moulded jambs, 15th-century, middle shaft modern. Miscellanea: In chancel—in N. wall, moulded cornice with carved flowers, possibly head of blocked recess, 15th-century. In churchyard, S. side—worked stones from tower pinnacles and parts of window jambs and mullions, 15th-century.
Condition—Generally good, nave roof recently repaired.
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. Several of the buildings have original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.
a(2). Farm House, about ½ m. S.E. of the church, is of L-shaped plan, with the wings extending to the N. and W.; the N. wing was extended late in the 17th century.
a(3). Hillyards, house, about 1 m. E.N.E. of the church.
b(4). House, three tenements, on N. side of Hare Green, about 1 m. S.E. of the church, has a cross-wing at the W. end.
b(5). Cottage, three tenements, about 230 yards S.S.W. of (4).
b(6). Cottage, two tenements, at N. end of Balls Green, 600 yards S.S.W. of (5).
b(7). Cottage, on W. side of the road, ¼ m. S.S.W. of (6).