Pages 76-78

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.


In this section

16. COPFORD. (C.c.)

(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxvii. N.W. (b)xxvii. S.W.)

Copford is a parish 4½ m. W.S.W. of Colchester. The church is interesting.


b(1). Parish Church of St. Michael and All Angels (Plate, p. 69) stands at the S.E. corner of the parish. The walls are of coursed rubble, septaria and Roman brick, except the S. aisle, which is of uncoursed rubble; the dressings are of limestone and the roofs are tiled. The Apse, Chancel and Nave were built c. 1100 with a barrel-vault and a chamber above it. Late in the 12th century the easternmost arch of the S. arcade was inserted and a S. transept or chapel added. Probably at the end of the 13th century this chapel was extended W. to form a South Aisle. The barrel-vault of the main building was removed probably late in the 14th century. The church was restored in the 19th century, when the South Vestry and South Porch were added.

The church is an extremely interesting example of its period and the remains of the vaulted roof indicate a most unusual form, comparable with that at Great Clacton. The series of paintings, though much restored, are the finest and most complete in the county.

Architectural Description—The Apse (12 ft. by 20 ft.) of c. 1100 (Plate, p. 140) has flat pilaster buttresses and a plain half-domed vault groined back above the windows. There are three windows, each with a round head of two orders of Roman brick; the external jambs and the splays have each a free shaft, but externally these are modern except for the bases and part of the shafts of the E. window; internally the shafts have carved or scalloped capitals and moulded bases. The apse-arch is semi-circular and stilted and of two plain orders with chamfered imposts.

The Chancel and Nave (66 ft. by 21 ft.) are structurally undivided and consist of four bays with wide pilaster buttresses formerly supporting a barrel-vault of which the abutments remain on each side with the springing of the transverse arches and chamfered imposts at the springing line; round lines on each side-bay of the walls indicate the line of the keying of the former crossvaults and afford evidence of a roof consisting of a main barrel-vault with a series of four very stilted cross-vaults groined into it; the former room above the vault was approached by a doorway cut through the upper part of the second buttress of the N. wall and now blocked. In the N. wall are three windows; the two eastern are modern, but the westernmost is similar to those in the apse and has scalloped capitals to the side shafts; it is much restored; in the easternmost bay is a small doorway of c. 1100, with plain jambs, round arch, and lintel with the tympanum filled with Roman bricks; the doorway is now blocked; in the westernmost bay is the 12th-century N. doorway of three round orders, the two outer moulded and the inner plain and of Roman brick; the two outer orders of the jambs have each a shaft with voluted or cushion capital, moulded abacus and base; the inner order, lintel and tympanum are modern. In the S. wall (Plate, p. 76) are four arches, the easternmost is modern; the second is of late 12th-century date, two-centred and of one chamfered order; the responds have moulded angles and imposts; the third arch is of late 13th-century date, two-centred and of three chamfered orders, the outer of Roman bricks and the others of contemporary bricks; the responds continue the form of the arch, but the two inner orders have a moulded impost; the westernmost arch is of uncertain date; it is two-centred and of one chamfered and plastered order with plain imposts of stone; above the easternmost arch is a round-headed recess indicating the head of an original window; above the second arch is a more complete window-head, also blocked but retaining part of the side-shafts with cushion capitals with voluted ornament and no abaci. In the W. wall are two windows, one above the other; the lower window is of mid 14th-century date and of two pointed lights in a two-centred head; it is set in an original opening with internal shafts to the splays having scalloped capitals; the original Roman brick jambs are invisible externally; the upper window is original and has Roman brick jambs and a round head; flanking it are two small round openings now blocked on the inside.

Copford. The Parish Church.

The South Aisle (11½ ft. wide) has in the E. wall a modern archway. In the S. wall are three windows, the two eastern are modern, but the westernmost is of the 14th century and of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head and partly restored; further W. is the modern S. doorway incorporating some old stones. In the W. wall is a modern window.

The Roof of the body of the church is of trussed-rafter type with moulded wall-plates and two trusses with octagonal king-posts having moulded capitals and bases probably all of late 14th or early 15th-century date. The bell-turret at the W. end of the nave stands on two heavy posts with a tie-beam and curved braces probably of the 15th century.

Fittings—Bells: three said to be; 1st by Henry Jordan, mid 15th-century; 2nd by John Bird inscribed "Sum Rosa Pulsata Mundi Katerina Vocata," 15th-century; 3rd by Thomas Draper and William Land, 1574. Chest: In nave— rectangular, iron-bound with two locks and four hasps, possibly 14th-century. Door: In N. doorway—of battens with marks of former ornamental iron-work, 12th-century. Floor-slab: In nave— to John Poole, 1677. Font: square bowl of Purbeck marble, each face with four round-headed panels but on one side the panels are unfinished, late 12th-century, stem modern. Glass: In nave— in W. window, shield of the arms of Tey—argent a fesse between three martlets azure in chief and a cheveron azure in base, a crescent for difference, ornamental border, irradiated rose above it and at sides part of black-letter inscription, late 15th-century. Paintings: There are remains of mid 12th-century paintings on the whole of the original building; they were discovered in 1865 but have been, with some exceptions, considerably restored. The apse (Plate, p. 77) has elaborate diapering, borders and banding around the three windows and on the splays of the side windows; the splays of the middle window have figures of St. Michael and St. Gabriel; between the windows and to the W. of them are standing figures of ten apostles including SS. Peter and Paul flanking the E. window; each figure stands under a round-headed canopy surmounted by elaborate architecture; the vault has in the middle a Majesty encircled by a rainbow supported by four angels; in the background are the buildings of New Jerusalem, and in the main spandrels are large throned figures of angels one with an open and one with a closed book; the groined vaults over the side windows have each an angel holding a palm and a cross respectively. The arch of the apse is richly diapered and has on the soffit twelve panels formed by interlacing foliage and containing the signs of the Zodiac. In the spandrels of the W. face are flying angels with trumpets and scrolls, and above them is a band of wavy ornament continued along the side walls; this work must be later than the destruction of the former vault. The N. wall of the body of the church has in the first bay much restored diaper and conventional ornament; the second bay has an unrestored painting said (improbably) to be of Christ and the Centurion, with a woman at the back; the respond between the second and third bays has diaper work and a medallion with a nimbed head, and, on the springing of the arch, the lower part of a figure subject possibly Samson and the lion. The third bay has two figures of armed men, one unrestored and one modern; the old figure has a gambeson, long mail hawberk and a coif. The respond between the third and fourth bay has diapering and a medallion enclosing a head and on the springing are remains of a figure subject. The S. wall has in the first bay remains of unrestored paintings, including a crowned figure holding an orb and two angels said to be holding bread and a paten, but now much faded. In the second bay is diapering and part of an unrestored armed figure with conical helmet, and mail; he holds a sword and spear. The respond between the second and third bays is similar to that on the N. and on the springer are remains of a figure subject, possibly the Flight into Egypt. The next respond is similar to that on the N.; the painting on the springer has been entirely restored. On the W. wall are traces of two large figure subjects, that to the N. almost obliterated and that on the S. with a central figure and three armed figures. Scratching: On E. respond of second bay of S. arcade—shield with symbol of the Trinity, 15th-century. Screen: Between chancel and nave—with moulded posts, central doorway with cinquefoiled and sub-cusped head with carved points and spandrels and traceried main spandrels; side bays each with five open panels with trefoiled, sub-cusped and ogee heads and tracery, early 15th-century, cornice and buttresses modern.

Condition—Good, much restored.


Monuments (2–7).

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.

b(2). Vineyard Cottages, range of tenements, ¼ m. W.S.W. of the church. On the N. side is an oval plaster medallion with date and initials, 1702 RLA. One chimney-stack has three diagonal shafts.


b(3). Cottage, 350 yards W. of (2).

b(4). Cottage, 130 yards N.W. of (3), has the timber-framing exposed.


b(5). Mascott's Farm, house, nearly 1 m. N.W. of the church, was built probably at the end of the 16th century but has been much altered.

b(6). Cottage, 1 m. N. of the church, was built in the 16th century and has some exposed timberframing.


a(7). Mantill's Farm, house and barn, 2¼ m. N. by W. of the church. The House has a cross wing at the S. end. One original chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts.

The Barn, N. of the house, is of five bays with a S. porch.

b(8). Mound, probably mill-mound, on N. side of road, 1,500 yards N. of the church.