Pages 94-96

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

24. ELMSTEAD. (D.c.)

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

Elmstead is a parish and village 4 m. E. of Colchester. The church, Hall and Allen's Farm are the principal monuments.


b(1). Parish Church of St. Anne and St. Laurence stands in the N.E. corner of the parish. The walls are of mixed rubble with some puddingstone; the dressings are of limestone and the roofs are covered with tiles and lead. The Chancel, Nave and South Tower were built probably c. 1310 but the nave may possibly be earlier; about twenty years later the South Chapel was added and the chancel-arch rebuilt. The tower was probably never completed. The church has been restored in modern times.

The church with its South Tower is of some architectural interest and has been little touched by modern restoration. Among the fittings the wooden effigy is noteworthy.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (34 ft. by 19½ ft.) is of early 14th-century date and has a modern E. window set in the old opening with a two-centred head and moulded labels with external stops carved as kneeling angels. In the N. wall are two windows each of two pointed lights with a spandrel in a two-centred head with a moulded label and head-stops. In the S. wall are two windows, similar to those in the N. wall, but the label of the eastern has a carved head at the apex; between the windows is a doorway with hollow-chamfered jambs, two-centred arch and moulded label with defaced head-stops. The mid 14th-century chancel-arch is two-centred and of two moulded orders; the chamfered responds have each an attached and filleted shaft with a moulded capital cut back on the face; S. of the arch is a squint with a round sexfoiled opening.

The Nave (42½ ft. by 21½ ft.) has in the N. wall three windows, the easternmost is of the 14th century and of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a segmental-pointed head, with a moulded label; the middle window is of c. 1400 and of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the westernmost window is of early 16th-century date and of three cinquefoiled lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label; between the two western windows is the N. doorway with a round plastered head of uncertain date; it is now blocked. At the E. end the wall has been cut back to provide access to the former rood-loft and the N. rebated jamb of the former lower doorway remains. The mid 14th-century S. arcade (Plate, p. 93) is of two bays with two-centred arches of two moulded orders; the column is of quatrefoiled plan with moulded capital and base and the responds have attached half columns; further W. is the 14th-century S. doorway with double chamfered jambs and two-centred arch; above and to the W. is a second doorway, at the gallery level, with moulded jambs and two-centred arch. In the W. wall is a window similar to those on the N. side of the chancel.

Elmstead, The Parish Church of St Lawrence.

The South Chapel (22¼ ft. by 10¼ ft.) is of c. 1340 and has an E. window of three lights with moulded jambs and shafted splays; the head has been replaced by a flat lintel and the lights are mostly blocked. In the S. wall is a wall-arcade of two bays with moulded, two-centred arches and labels with head-stops; the pier and responds are of semi-quatrefoiled plan and have moulded capitals and bases; each bay has a window similar to the N.E. window in the nave but with head-stops to the label. Below each is a small trefoiled ogee light set low in the wall and now blocked.

The South Tower (8½ ft. square) is of the 14th century and of one and half stages high and finished with a pyramidal roof. The ground stage forms the S. porch and has on the N.E. and N. sides a wall-arch with chamfered jambs and two-centred head; in the S. wall is a doorway with a two-centred arch of two moulded orders; the jambs have each an attached shaft with a moulded capital. The upper part of the tower has in the S. and W. walls a plain loop.

The Roof of the S. chapel incorporates some moulded tie-beams, rafters and a wall-plate of c. 1500 but has been much restored.

Fittings — Brass and Indents. Brass: In chancel—two hands issuing from clouds and holding a heart inscribed "credo," above a scroll, indent of inscription-plate. Indents: In chancel—(1) of figure; in S. chapel (2) of armed figure, inscription-plate and four shields, 15th-century. Communion Table: with heavy turned legs, moulded end rails, early 17th-century, top and sides modern. Door: In S. doorway—of battens with broken strap-hinges, date uncertain. Glass: In vicarage —grisaille foliage, with border of castles and fleurs-de-lis, from heads of pointed lights, c. 1300. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In chancel—on E. wall, (1) to Thomas Martin, 1672, vicar of the parish, and to William, his son, 1664, two small rectangular wooden panels with moulded frames. In S. chapel—(2) on sill of E. window, carved oak effigy (Plate, p. 170) of man in mail with pointed bascinet, short surcoat, knee and elbow cops, heater-shaped shield, legs crossed, head on lion, feet against female figure, c. 1310. Floor-slab: In nave—to William Bendische, 1627. Panelling: In chapel—incorporated in 18th-century pews, early 17th-century. Piscinae: In chancel—in range with sedilia and forming together four bays each with moulded jambs and cinquefoiled head with a moulded label and headstops including a king and bishop; the jambs of the third bay have carved stops of a stag and a male head; trefoiled drain to piscina, late 14th-century. In S. chapel—in S. wall, with shafted jambs and moulded trefoiled head with moulded label, sexfoiled drain, moulded sill and plain shelf, 14th-century. On wall in S.E. angle, moulded shelf. Plate: includes Elizabethan cup with engraved bands, and cover-paten with Tudor rose on foot. Sedilia: See Piscina.



d(2). Homestead Moat at Parsonage Farm, 600 yards S.S.W. of the church.

b(3). Elmstead Hall, W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1500 with a central Hall and cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. The back part of the E. wing was rebuilt and heightened probably late in the 16th century. The gables at the S. end of the E. wing, at the back of the main block and the three gables of the W. wing have moulded barge-boards. Inside the building is a considerable amount of 17th and 18th-century panelling; the room above the Hall has fluted pilasters and a moulded cornice. There are some original doorways with four-centred heads and on the first floor is a doorway with original jambs and square head. The room above the kitchen has a 16th-century door with moulded vertical fillets. The W. staircase leading to the attics has solid winding treads. In the attic of the W. wing is a 16th-century window of six lights with moulded mullions. There are several 16th and 17th-century doors.


Monuments (4–9).

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. Some of the buildings have original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good, or fairly good.

a(4). Allen's Farm, house, about ¾ m. W. of the church, was built c. 1584. The upper storey projects on the N. front and the ground storey is divided into bays by five posts carved with twostage panelled buttresses on which stand crested shafts supporting curved brackets with foliated spandrels, two of these have shields each charged with a mill-rind cross. Beside the front door is a carved panel with two similar shields and the date 1584. Inside the building, above the fireplace of a room on the first floor is a 17th-century panel with a reversed fleur-de-lis between two wreaths.

Elmstead Market

d(5). Cottage, three tenements at S.E. corner of cross-roads, about 1 m. S. of the church.

d(6). King's Arms Inn, E. of (5), has been completely altered.

d(7). House and shop, 30 yards E. of (6).

d(8). Cottage, three tenements 200 yards N.E. of (7), is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and W.

e(9). Fen Farm, house, 1¼ m. S.S.W. of the church, was built in the 15th century with a central Hall and cross-wings at the N. and S. ends. In the 16th century the N. wing was extended towards the E., the S. wing probably rebuilt and the Hall divided up and a gable added. The upper storey projects at the W. end of the N. wing and the W. gables of the main block and the W. wing also project. Inside the building the S. room has an original moulded ceiling-beam. The top staircase has late 17th-century turned balusters. The roof of the N. wing is original and of two bays with a cambered tie-beam, stop-chamfered king-post and four-way struts. The roof of the main block has been much altered but has an original king-post with a moulded capital and stop-chamfered central purlin and base; the timbers are smoke blackened; the roof extended down over an annexe or aisle on the W., but whether this was the original arrangement is doubtful. There are some 17th-century doors.