East Mersea

Pages 93-94

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 3, North East. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1922.

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23. EAST MERSEA. (D.d.)

(O.S. 6 in. xlvii. N.W.)

East Mersea is a parish comprising the E. half of Mersea Island, 7½ m. S.S.E. of Colchester. The church is interesting.


(1). Parish Church of St. Edmund stands on the S. side of the parish. The walls are of septaria and flint-rubble with dressings of limestone; the roofs are covered with tiles and slates. The S. wall of the Chancel is thicker than the N. walls and may be of the 12th or 13th century. The S. wall of the Nave is probably of the same date and the upper part is of less thickness than the lower. In the 14th century the chancel was widened towards the N. and probably extended one bay to the E. Late in the 15th or early in the 16th century the North Chapel, North Aisle and West Tower were added. The South Porch was added probably late in the 18th century, when various other alterations were made.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (30½ ft. by 19 ft.) has in the E. wall a 15th-century window of four cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head; in the gable is an opening with a trefoiled head and a moulded label. In the N. wall is an early 14th-century window of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head; further W. is a late 15th-century arch, two-centred and of two hollow-chamfered orders; the responds have each three attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. In the S. wall are two 15th-century windows, both partly restored, and each of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label; between them is a 15th-century doorway, with moulded jambs and two-centred arch and label. The late 15th-century chancel-arch is two-centred, but is otherwise similar in detail to the arch in the N. wall.

The North Chapel (14 ft. by 14 ft.) has in the E. wall a late 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights in a three-centred head; the middle light has an embattled transom. In the N. wall is a similar window. The late 15th-century W. archway is segmental-pointed and of two chamfered orders; the responds have each a semi octagonal attached shaft with concave faces and moulded capitals and bases; adjoining the S. respond is a squint with a rounded head.

The Nave (42½ ft. by 20 ft.) has a late 15th-century N. arcade of four bays with two-centred arches of two hollow-chamfered orders; the piers have each four attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the responds have attached half columns. In the S. wall are two windows originally of the 15th century, but with 18th-century wooden frames and mullions; between them is the 15th-century S. doorway, with moulded jambs and two-centred arch;. at the E. end of the wall is a projection enclosing the rood-loft staircase; it has late 15th-century upper and lower doorways with four-centred heads.

The North Aisle (14 ft. wide) has in the N. wall three windows, the easternmost and westernmost are of late 14th or early 15th-century date and are each of two cinquefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a three-centred head with a moulded label, probably reset; the middle window is similar to those in the S. wall of the nave; between the two western windows is the 15th-century N. doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred arch. In the W. wall is a 15th-century window similar to the windows in the N. chapel.

The West Tower (12 ft. by 11 ft.) is of late 15th-century date and of three stages with a modern parapet and old carved gargoyles at the angles; on each face of the middle stage is a rough cross in knapped flints. The two-centred tower-arch is of two hollow-chamfered orders on the E. and of three on the W. side; the responds have each two attached shafts with moulded capital and base. In the N. wall is the doorway to the stair-turret, with moulded jambs and two-centred arch. The W. window is of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a segmental-pointed head with a moulded label; the mullions are modern. The second stage has in the N., S. and W. walls a square-headed loop; below the loop in the S. wall is a small blocked window with a decayed head. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two cinquefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; the S. window has been repaired with modern brick.

The Roof of the chancel has old wall-plates. The roof of the nave is ceiled and has on the N. side a moulded and embattled wall-plate of the 15th century with traces of colour.

Fittings—Bell: one; by Richard Hille, and inscribed: "Sum Rosa Pulsata Mundi Maria Vocata," early 15th-century. Brass: In chancel— to Maudlin Owtred, 1572, inscription only. Doors: In N. doorway, with moulded and studded fillets and strap-hinges, trellis framing, 16th-century. In S. doorway—modern, but with band of quatrefoiled panelling at bottom, 15th-century. In doorway to turret staircase of tower, plated with iron and nail-studded, 16th-century. Font (Plate, p. xxxiv): octagonal bowl, each face with a trefoiled and crocketed head with tracery above and vaulting or tracery below, shallow pedestals at base of panels, top edge carved with square flowers, lower edge with half-angels, stem with cinquefoiled and crocketed panels, moulded base, 15th-century. Glass: In chancel—in N. window, fragments, blue roundel, etc., 14th-century. Hour-glass Stand: on pulpit, of wrought iron, 17th-century. Monument and Floor-slab. Monument: In nave— on S. wall, to Lieut.-Col. Edward Bellame, 1656, framed wooden panel with painted achievement of arms. Floor-slab: In N. aisle—to James Fox, 1710. Niches: In N. chapel—flanking E. window, two wide recesses with mutilated cusped heads, 15th-century. Painting: In N. chapel—at back of niches, remains of painted decoration. Piscina: In chancel—with hollow-chamfered jambs and cinquefoiled head, second opening into splay of S.E. window, rectangular drain, 15th-century. Plate: includes Elizabethan cup with two bands of incised ornament. Pulpit (Plate, p. 181): octagonal, panelled sides with lozenge-ornament, carved cornice, high plastered base, sounding-board with carved standard and frieze with turned pendants at the angles, early 17th-century, now painted. Sedile: In chancel—sill of S.E. window carried down to form seat, 15th-century. Stoups: In chancel—E. of doorway, recess with two-centred head, no bowl, possibly stoup, 15th-century. In nave—E. of S. doorway, with two-centred head, 15th-century, no bowl. Tiles: In chancel—in sills of S. windows and stoup, plain glazed tiles, probably 15th-century. Miscellanea: In N. chapel—worked stones, 14th and 15th-century.

Condition—Poor, external stonework much weathered.


(2). Homestead Moat, around church and Hall, is fragmentary.

(3). Dog and Pheasant Inn, 700 yards N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, partly timber-framed and partly of brick; the roofs are thatched. It was built probably late in the 17th century and has exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Fairly good.

(4). Weir Farm, house, about ¾ m. W. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and weather-boarded; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably in the 16th century and has crosswings at the E. and W. ends. The walls have been partly faced with brick. The upper storey projects at the S. end of the W. cross-wing. Inside the building are exposed ceiling-beams.



(5). Red Hills, two near Reeve's Hall, about 1 m. N.W. of the church. Now levelled.