Ramsden Bellhouse

Pages 119-120

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 4, South east. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1923.

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(O.S. 6 in. (a)lx. S.E. (b)lxviii. N.E.)

Ramsden Bellhouse is a parish 2½ m. E. of Billericay.


b(1). Parish Church of St. Mary (Plate, pp. xxxviii-ix) stands about the middle of the parish. The tower or belfry and the S. porch are timber-framed. The West Tower or belfry is of the 15th century, and the South Porch is perhaps of late 14th-century date. The rest of the building is modern.

Architectural Description—The West Tower is timber-framed, and consists of a central rectangular structure with the roof carried down over annexes on the N. and S. There is a third annexe on the W. side with a pent-roof. Placed astride the main roof is the timber bell-chamber, surmounted by a short octagonal spire. The main structure rests on four oak posts with curved braces and modern added struts. In the W. wall of the W. annexe is a 15th-century oak doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with spandrels carved with foliage, a rose and a shield. The bell-chamber has in each wall a two-light window with modern pointed heads.

The South Porch is timber-framed, and probably of late 14th-century date. The outer archway is two-centred and is flanked by openings with ogee heads. The gable has foiled barge-boards and the side walls have modern diamond-shaped mullions. The roof has one tie-beam with curved braces, old rafters and a central purlin.

The Roof of the chancel has three tie-beams, the two western with plain king-posts; the middle tie-beam has early 16th-century twisted foliage ornament; the westernmost is probably of the 15th century and the easternmost probably of the 17th century. The 15th-century roof of the nave is of three bays with four king-post trusses, chamfered tie-beams and one plain and three rebated king-posts, one with moulded base; the tie-beams have mortices for braces, except the easternmost, which is probably of later date.

Fittings—Bells: three; 1st by William Land, 1615 or 1618; 2nd by William Lambert, 1638; 3rd by Richard Phelps, 1711. Chairs: In chancel —two, with carved backs and front rails, twisted posts, early 18th-century. Chest: In nave—large and heavily bound with iron, lid in two portions, each with five strap and three link-hinges, four hasps and staples, two handles at ends and two handles to lids, probably mediaeval. Door: In W. doorway of tower—of battens with fillets planted on, late 15th or early 16th-century. Font: octagonal stem and moulded base, 15th-century, bowl and part of base modern. Font-cover: of wood with eight voluted supports to turned middle-post, late 17th or early 18th-century. Plate: includes Elizabethan cup of 1562 with two bands of engraved ornament, small paten of about the same date, also engraved but without foot. Recess: In nave—re-set in N. wall, with stop-moulded jambs, trefoiled and sub-cusped head and quatre-foiled spandrels, moulded cornice above, late 14th-century, probably piscina or stoup.

Condition—Good, mostly re-built.


b(2). Homestead Moat, at Cox Green, 1,500 yards N.N.W. of the church.

a(3). Chitham's Farm, house and moat, about 1¼ m. N.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably in the 16th century with a central block and N. and S. crosswings, but has been much altered and added to on the S. and W. The upper storeys of both the cross-wings originally projected on the E. front, but the upper storey of the S. wing has been under-built. Inside the building one small room has exposed ceiling-beams.

The Moat entirely surrounds the house.

Condition—Of house, good, much altered.

b(4). Barn, at Ramsden Bellhouse Hall, N.W. of the church, is timber-framed and weather-boarded, with a thatched roof, and was built probably in the 17th century. The barn has two porches on the S. side.


b(5). Stable, at E. end of churchyard, is of the 17th century, timber-framed and weather-boarded; the roof is thatched.

Condition—Fairly good.

a(6). House, on S. side of the road to Billericay, nearly 1¼ m. N.N.W. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably in the 16th century, and now consists of a rectangular block with an E. cross-wing and a staircase block in the S.W. angle, to which has been added a modern wing extending towards the S. The base of the chimney-stack at the E. end is original, and inside the building some of the timber-framing is exposed.

Condition—Fairly good, much altered.