Earls Colne

Pages 87-90

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

20. EARLS COLNE. (B.c.)

(O.S. 6 in. (a)xvii. S.W. (b)xvii. S.E. (c)xxvi. N.W. (d)xxvi. N.E.)

Earls Colne is a parish and village (Plate, p. 123) 4 m. N. of Great Coggeshall. The church, Priory and Colneford House are the principal monuments.


a(1). Parish Church of St. Andrew stands at the E. end of the village. The walls are of flint-rubble, with limestone dressings; the roofs are tiled. The history of the building is much obscured by restoration, but the earliest detail is the S. arcade of the Nave and a reset window in the N. chapel which are of c. 1340; the Chancel and South Aisle are probably also of this date. The West Tower was added c. 1460, but it was restored and partly rebuilt by John Earl of Oxford in 1534. A South porch was added in the 15th century. In the 19th century the church was restored, the South Porch rebuilt and the North and South Chapels and North Aisle added.

The W. tower is a handsome example of its period. Among the fittings the pre-Reformation paten is noteworthy.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (38¾ ft. by 23 ft.) has no ancient features.

The North Chapel is modern but reset in the N. wall is a window of c. 1340, partly restored and of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head.

The South Chapel is modern, but the W. arch incorporates some 14th-century moulded voussoirs.

The Nave (50½ ft. by 22¾ ft.) has a modern N. arcade of three bays. The 14th-century S. arcade is of three bays with two-centred arches of two moulded orders; the octagonal columns and semi-octagonal W. respond have moulded capitals and modern bases; the E. respond is modern, the E. arch has been rebuilt and most of the other work has been scraped.

The South Aisle (19½ ft. wide) has in the S. wall two 14th-century windows almost entirely restored and each of two cinquefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head, with a moulded label; further W. is the S. doorway, all modern except the 14th-century moulded rear-arch and part of the splays. In the W. wall is a modern window, incorporating some old stones.

The West Tower (13 ft. by 14 ft.) is of three stages (Plate, p. 221) with a crow-stepped and embattled parapet enriched with panels of flint-inlay having cinquefoiled or trefoiled heads; the larger panels have each the Vere molet in the middle; in the middle of the E. and W. sides is a carved achievement of arms, with supporters and the Garter, on the E. side the shield bears Vere impaling Trussell for John 15th Earl of Oxford and his wife, and has below it the date 1534 and regnal year H.8. 25; the shield on the W. side bears Vere quartering Collroke, Clare, Sergeaux, Badlesmere, Samford, and Fitz Hamon; the parapet of the stair-turret also has flint-inlay and the Vere molets. The 15th-century tower-arch is moulded and two-centred and springs from moulded and shafted responds with moulded capitals to the shafts. The W. window is of c. 1460 and of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label and stops carved with busts of women holding hearts; the W. doorway is modern, but the 15th-century string-course on either side of it has carved flowers and heads. The second stage has in the E. and W. walls a single 15th-century light with a trefoiled head; a similar window in the N. wall has been removed; in the E. wall is also an early 16th-century doorway of brick, with a four-centred head. The bell-chamber has in the E., S. and W. walls a 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a square head. In the N. wall is a much restored early 16th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights in a square head.

The Roof of the nave is of early 16th-century date and of five bays with moulded principals, collars and purlins, and a carved boss on the middle of each collar. The roof of the S. aisle is similar in date and detail to that of the nave, but is of six bays and has moulded wall-plates; one of the bosses is carved with the Vere molet. The 15th-century roof of the S. porch has moulded and embattled wall-plates and tie-beam; the other tie-beam is plain, but both support king-posts.

Fittings—Chairs: In N. chapel—with carved and inlaid back, turned legs and shaped arms, inlaid front-rail, early 17th-century. In chancel— two with richly carved backs and front rails, turned legs and shaped arms, probably late 17th-century and foreign work. Monuments: In S. chapel—(1) of Richard Harlakenden, 1602, and Elizabeth (Hardres), Elizabeth (Blatchenden), Jane (Josceline) and Anne (Dewhurst), his wives, small painted wall-monument of alabaster with kneeling figures of man and wives flanked by pilasters supporting an entablature, achievement and four shields of arms, restored early in the 18th century; (2) to Jane and Mabell Harlakenden, 1614, plain rectangular tablet; (3) to Mehetabell, daughter of Edward Eileston, 1657, oval tablet with white marble frame; on S. wall—(4) to John Eldred, 1646, rectangular tablet with marble frame and cornice and resting on two carved stone heads. In churchyard—S. of church (5) to Francies (Fletcher), wife of John Hutchinson, 1712, head and foot-stones. Plate (Plate, p. xxxv): includes early 16th-century paten with sexfoiled sinking and incised figure of Christ in a circle in the middle, cross formy in a circle on the rim; large late 16th-century cup with bands of incised ornament. Table: In N. chapel—with turned legs and shaped brackets to top rail, 17th-century. Weather-vane: with copper corona and cock, late 17th or early 18th-century.

Condition—Good, much restored.

b(2). Earls Colne Priory, monuments, walls and fragments at house, ¼ m. E. of the church. The Priory was founded in the first year of the 12th century for Benedictine monks and as a cell to Abingdon Abbey. The lines of some of the original buildings are reported to have been visible in the turf on the N. side of the present house during the dry summer of 1921. The existing house has no ancient features, but in a covered passage at the back of the house are preserved four altar-tombs, formerly in the priory church—(1) probably of Robert de Vere, 5th Earl of Oxford, 1296, altar-tomb (Plate, p. 86) of c. 1340, with moulded and embattled slab of Purbeck marble richly arcaded sides and end, side with three main niches with cinquefoiled ogee and crocketed heads and shafted jambs; three smaller niches with trefoiled heads and crocketed gables; between the niches are small buttresses with pinnacles and in the spandrels above the larger niches are blank shields suspended by their straps; in the smaller niches are much mutilated figures; the freestone effigy of c. 1296 is in mail with kneecops, a long surcoat and prick spurs; the head rests on a cushion supported by angels, and the feet on a boar; there are traces of colour and gesso on the effigy and of colour on the tomb. Four niches with figures from the destroyed sides of this tomb are now built into the gate-piers of the stable yard and three others are fixed in the wall near tombs (3) and (4). (2) and (3) were formerly one large tomb (Plates, pp. 86, 90) of alabaster and probably of Richard de Vere, K.G., 11th Earl of Oxford, 1417, and Alice (Sergeaux), his wife; the two long sides form the fronts of the two altar-tombs as at present arranged; at the head of (2) is a square cusped panel probably part of the monument of Robert, 9th Earl of Oxford and Duke of Ireland, 1392. The long sides of the two tombs have each five panels with angles holding rectangular shields and divided by traceried panels; the moulded cornice is embattled; the shields bear (a) Vere, (b) Vere impaling Badlesmere, (c) Vere, (d) Vere impaling Fitzwalter, (e) Vere. On tomb (3) (a) Vere, (b) Vere impaling a saltire between 12 cherries for Sergeaux, (c) Vere, (d) Vere quartering checky for Coucy, (e) Vere. The earlier panel at head of tomb (2) has a shield with the arms of Bohun. At the foot of tomb (2) and fixed into the wall elsewhere are four other fragments of the tomb of the 11th Earl with angels bearing shields (a) Vere with scutcheon of pretence, (b) defaced, (c) St. George and (d) France ancient quartering England. The effigy of the woman (Plate, p. 91) on tomb (2) has an elaborate horned head-dress, collar, low-necked gown with tight sleeves, loose cloak with cord fastenings, head on cushions with two supporting angels and at feet two small dogs. The man's effigy (Plate, p. 91) is in plate-armour with a wreathed bascinet inscribed across the front in black letter "Ihs: nazarenus," plate gorget and besagues, collar of S.S., breastplate with the arms of Vere, skirt of taces with mail beneath, remains of sword and dagger, garter on left leg, head on helm with boar crest, feet on lion. (4) Probably of Thomas de Vere, 8th Earl of Oxford, 1371, alabaster altar-tomb (Plate, p. 87) with moulded and embattled cornice, front with six niches divided by shafts and having trefoiled ogee and crocketed heads; each niche has two weepers, all men in civilian dress; the corresponding work of the other side of the tomb has been reset in the wall at the back of the modern recess; it has similar weepers including one bishop. The effigy (Plate, p. 91) is in mixed mail and plate with bascinet, camail, jupon with the arms of Vere and with enriched edge, ornamental hip-belt, etc. Across the head of the modern recesses of tombs (3) and (4) is an early 16th-century carved oak beam, removed from the old Priory House which was pulled down in 1825, with running foliage, the Vere molet, and six grotesque heads.

The boundary wall of the grounds on the S.E. and S.W. sides is largely of late 16th-century date and of red brick. It contains the initials R.H., W. and X.W. in black bricks. On the S.W. side is a modern doorway with a door made up of 15th and 16th and 17th-century panelling; above the doorway is a reset 15th-century niche with a cinquefoiled head and containing two figures. The lower part of the wall contains some reused worked stones. In the garden is a 15th-century panelled stone stem of octagonal form and possibly part of a font.

In the summer-house near the Priory pond is the bressumer of a fireplace, carved with the Vere molet and boar, with other beasts and birds and with conventional leaf-ornament of the 16th century.

Condition—Of monuments, good.


c(3). Lodge Farm, house and moat, nearly 1¾ m. S.W. of the church. The House, now two tenements, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably early in the 16th century and altered late in the 17th century. Inside the building are exposed ceiling-beams and joists and one wall-plate has the mortices for the diamond-shaped mullions of a former window.

The Moat is incomplete.

Condition—Of house, good.

Monuments (4–34).

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.

High Street, N. side:—

a(4). House, two tenements and shop, 120 yards W.N.W. of the church, has a late 15th or early 16th-century outbuilding at the back, but the building itself is of the 17th century. The outbuilding has an original king-post roof of three bays.

a(5). House and shop, W. of (4), was built in the 16th century and has a 17th-century addition on the N. Inside the building are original moulded ceiling-beams and a doorway with a four-centred head. There is a little 17th-century panelling.

a(6). Castle Inn, W. of (5), is of half H-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. It has two original chimney-stacks, one of five shafts set diagonally on a rectangular base and one of three octagonal shafts. Inside the building the middle room has an original moulded ceiling-beam resting at one end on a wall-post with the enriched mouldings. The E. room has above the fireplace a 17th-century painted panel with the verse "The houer Runneth | and T(ime flieth) | As Flower Fadeth | So Man Dieth | Sic transit Gloria | Mundi"; on each side of it is an hour-glass, cherub's head, flower and skull and beyond a pair of crouching lions with swags above.

a(7). House, now club, shop and tenement, W. of (6), has a cross-wing, with a projecting upper storey, at the E. end.

a(8). Cottage, 150 yards W. of (7) and on the E. side of Queen's Road.

Earls Colne, Plan Shewing Position of Monuments

a(9). House, now Bank, 80 yards W. of (8), was built early in the 16th century and has a long wing at the back; the front has been faced with modern brick. Inside the building the W. room has original moulded ceiling-beams and moulded joists; the beams and plate are carved with running foliage (Plate, p. xxxvii) and a shield with the molet of the Veres. The back wing has an original king-post roof.

a(10). House and shop, W. of (9), was built probably early in the 16th century and has an original king-post roof.

a(11). Lion Inn and house, 20 yards W. of (10). The W. end of the house is of late 16th-century date and has original moulded ceiling-beams. The E. front has been rebuilt.

S. side

a(12). House, four tenements, 20 yards S.W. of (11), was built probably in the 15th century, with cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. The W. gable in front has plain old barge-boards with curved brackets.

a(13). House (Plate, p. 188), two tenements and shop nearly opposite (4), was built c. 1500. The upper storey projects in front and has a moulded bressumer, carved with twisted leaf ornament and, at intervals, with the molet of the Veres. Inside the building are original moulded ceilingbeams and joists. The roof has original king-post trusses.

a(14). House, two tenements, 30 yards E. of (13), has two projecting gables in front with carved fascias, one with the date and initials 1674 E.P.

a(15). Cottage, two tenements, S. of (14).

a(16). Cottage (Plate, p. 177), 80 yards S.S.W. of (12), has an original chimney-stack with four octagonal shafts.

Pound Green

b(17). Cottage, on N. side of road, 300 yards S.E. of the church, was built early in the 18th century.

b(18). George Hotel, on S. side of road, 130 yards N.E. of (17), was built probably in the 16th century and has a cross-wing at the W. end.

b(19). House, E. of (18), has a cross-wing at the E. end.

b(20). Cottage, two tenements, 90 yards N.E. of (19), has a cross-wing at the W. end.

b(21). Range of three tenements, N.E. of (20).

b(22). House, 45 yards N.E. of (21), was built probably late in the 16th century, but has been much altered.

b(23). Colneford House, 240 yards N.E. of (22). The S.E. wing is of late 16th-century date, but the front is probably entirely of c. 1685. The front has an upper storey richly ornamented between the windows with pargeting (Plate, p. 235); the panels have elaborate designs of conventional foliage and foliated borders; one panel has the initials and date GTE 1685, probably for George and Elizabeth Toller. Inside the building are some fireplaces with moulded architraves of late 17th-century date and some bolection - moulded panelling of the same period. The staircase of dog-legged type has turned balusters and moulded rails. The S.E. wing has original moulded ceilingbeams and joists.

b(24). Range of six cottages, 70 yards N.E. of (23). The upper storey projects in three gabled bays on the N.W. front.

b(25). Cottage (Plate, p. 189), on N.E. side of the road, 700 yards E.S.E. of the church, has on the W. side an original dormer window with a moulded head to the window carved with the date and initials 1640 E.S.

d(26). Mill's Farm, house, ¾ m. S.S.E. of (25).

d(27). Burnt House Farm, house, ½ m. S.S.E. of (26).

d(28). Becklandwood Farm, house, 1,200 yards W. of (27).

c(29). Whitegate, house, about 1,000 yards S.W. of (28).

c(30). Cottage, on W. side of road, about ½ m. N. of (29).


c(31). Cottage, 100 yards N. of (30).

c(32). Range of three tenements, on N. side of Curd's Road, 650 yards N. of (31).

c(33). Cottage, 180 yards N.W. of (32).

c(34). Cottage, 150 yards N.N.E. of (33).