Pages 126-130

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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In this section

75. ROCHFORD. (F.c.)

(O.S. 6 in. (a)lxx. S.W. (b)lxx. S.E.)

Rochford is a parish and small town on the N. bank of the river Roach, 3 m. N. of Southend-onSea. The church and Rochford Hall are the principal monuments.


a(l). Parish Church of St. Andrew (Plate, p. 126) stands to the W. of the town. The walls are of ragstone-rubble with some flint and septaria in the chancel walls, and squared rubble in the S. aisle, porch and stair-turret of the tower; the N. chapel and the W. tower are of red brick; the dressings are of Reigate and other limestone; the roofs are covered with tiles and lead. The thickness of the E. wall of the nave and of the N. wall W. of the arcade seem to indicate remains of early work. The North Aisle was added in the first half of the 14th century, and there was perhaps a S. aisle of the same date. Late in the 15th century the Chancel, the N. and S. arcades of the Nave and the South Aisle were re-built, the South Porch added, and the tower stair-turret begun. Early in the 16th century the North Chapel was added and the West Tower completed. The church has been much restored and the Organ Chamber is modern.

The W. tower is a good example of early 16th-century brickwork.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (33½ ft. by 17½ ft.) is probably of the 15th century; the lower part of the walls are of stone and the upper of flint-rubble, but the work is probably all of the same date, as it continues also round the buttresses. The E. window is partly restored, and of five cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label of late 15th-century date. In the N. wall is a modern arch; further E. is an early 15th-century doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred arch in a square head with quatre-foiled spandrels enclosing small heads; the moulded label has one head-stop; E. of the doorway is an early 16th-century squint with a square head, brick reveals and stone inner jambs. In the S. wall are two windows, all modern except the splays and segmental rear-arches, which are probably of the 15th century; further W. is a narrow modern opening into the S. aisle. The chancel-arch is modern except for some re-used stones in the responds.

The North Chapel (22 ft. by 12 ft.) is of early 16th-century date and of red brick. The E. window is of stone and of three pointed lights in a segmental-pointed head with a moulded label. In the N. wall are two windows, each of two plain square-headed lights with a moulded label; between them is a fireplace with hollow-chamfered jambs and four-centred arch in a square head; the N. wall has two projecting plastered gables, probably of late 16th or early 17th-century date. In the S. wall is a large recess with a four-centred head, now partly blocked. In the W. wall is a doorway with moulded jambs, four-centred arch and label.

The Nave (49 ft. by 17¼ ft.) has 15th-century N. and S. arcades, each of three bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the octagonal columns have moulded capitals and bases and the responds have attached half-columns. The clearstorey has no ancient features.

The North Aisle (10 ft. wide) has in the E. wall an early 14th-century window of three cinque-foiled ogee lights with net tracery in a square head. In the N. wall are two windows, all modern except the splays and rear-arches, which are probably of the 14th century; between them is the 14th-century N. doorway, with moulded jambs, two-centred arch and label with defaced stops; it is now blocked. In the W. wall is a late 15th or early 16th-century window of two trefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label, partly of brick.

The South Aisle (11 ft. wide) has an embattled parapet of chequer-work. In the E. wall is a 15th-century window of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with restored label and mullions. In the N. wall, E. of the arcade, is the 15th-century lower doorway to the rood-loft staircase; it has rebated jambs and two-centred head. In the S. wall are two 15th-century windows, each of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head and modern externally except the jambs; between them is the 15th-century S. doorway, with moulded jambs, two-centred arch and label. In the W. wall is a 14th-century window of one cinque-foiled ogee light in a square head; further N. is the late 15th-century doorway to the tower staircase, with hollow-chamfered jambs and two-centred head.

The West Tower (11 ft. square) is of c. 1500 and of red brick; it is of three stages, with an embattled parapet and an octagonal turret rising above it and much diapering in black brick; the lower part of the turret is of stone and of 15th-century date. The two-centred tower-arch is of three continuous chamfered orders; the inner order is interrupted by moulded capitals and bases, the former being of whitewashed brick or stone. High up in the S. wall of the ground-stage, inside, is a blocked opening with a moulded segmental arch of stone; it is probably a 15th-century doorway from the stair-turret. The W. window is of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the W. doorway has moulded jambs, four-centred arch and label; above it is a rectangular sunk panel containing a stone shield—a chief indented for Butler, Earl of Ormonde. The N., S. and W. walls of the second stage have each a window of one pointed light, more or less restored. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head and all modern externally except the heads of the E. window and part of the heads of the N. window.

The South Porch is of late 15th-century date, and has a chequer-work parapet like that of the S. aisle. The two-centred outer archway is of two moulded orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the label is moulded. The side walls have each a window of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head, partly restored. In each angle of the porch is a moulded corbel for a projected vault.

The Roof of the N. aisle is flat-pitched, and may incorporate some old timbers. The roof of the S. aisle is largely modern, but incorporates some 15th-century timbers, and there are three 15th-century stone head-corbels. The floor of the first stage of the tower has early 16th-century moulded beams and a square bell-way in the middle.

Fittings—Brass: In nave—of Mary Dilcok, 1514, small figure of woman in pedimental head-dress; indents of scroll and figures of Virgin and Child. Coffin-lid: In S. porch—with moulded edges and raised cross, probably 13th-century. Communion Rails: with twisted balusters, c. 1700. Doors: In chancel—N. door (modern) has two old strap-hinges, probably 15th-century. In tower —in lower doorway to turret-staircase at W. end of S. aisle, of nail-studded battens, fillets planted on and strap-hinges, late 15th-century; in upper doorway of same staircase, of battens with strap-hinges, same date. Monuments: In churchyard— N. side—(1) to Richard Knight, 1702, table-tomb; (2) to Stephen Jackson, 1706, table-tomb; N. of tower—(3) to John Fortescue, 1710, and Anne, his wife, 1709, table-tomb; (4) to Ralph Desbrow, early 18th-century table-tomb. Piscinae: In chancel—with cinque-foiled head, label cut back, late 14th or early 15th-century, modern sill. In S. aisle—in S. wall, with moulded jambs and rounded head, broken round drain, 15th-century. Plate: includes large cup and cover-paten of 1705. Scratching: In chancel—on jamb of S.W. window, the name and date—Samuel Purkis, 1642. The doorways to the rood-loft staircase, and the tower stair-turret have masons' marks common to one another.



Rochford Hall

a(2). Rochford Hall, house (Plate, p. 127) and boundary walls, 110 yards W.N.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of rubble and brick; the roofs are tiled. It was formerly one of the largest houses in the county, with at least three if not four courtyards, and was built c. 1540–50. The whole of the S. part of the house has been entirely destroyed; the surviving buildings of the western courtyards have been reduced in height and turned into barns, etc. The only part remaining to the full height consists of the two wings meeting at the N.E. angle. The walls generally are covered with a thin coat of plaster, which must always have been the case, as the mixed rubble and brickwork of the walls is evidently not intended to be exposed.

The house is of much interest as the wreck of a very large 16th-century mansion.

The E. Elevation has four original gables with the stumps of pinnacles at the apexes. All the existing windows are modern, but the blocked openings of a number of square-headed windows are visible, with labels cut back flush with the wall. At the N.E. angle is an octagonal turret with remains of an embattled parapet and some original windows with square-moulded labels.

The N. Elevation. Only the E. part stands to the full height, and has four gables, each with a single octagonal chimney-shaft rising from the apex; three of these shafts retain their moulded caps. The original windows have all been wholly or partly blocked, and are similar in form to those on the E. side. To the W. of the wing just described is a rectangular projecting bay, formerly the central feature of the N. front. It is ruined to the ground-storey, and has remains of an original opening in the W. wall and a low brick arch in the N. wall, possibly for a drain and now blocked. The remainder of the N. front is standing one storey high and is used as barns. In it are some original windows, one of four round-headed lights in a square head, and an original wide door or archway with a four-centred head. At the N.W. angle is the lower storey of an octagonal turret similar to that at the N.E. angle.

W. Elevation. The remaining part contains two old windows similar to those already described.

The house has been so completely gutted that it is impossible to determine the original arrangement of the main rooms or to identify the site of the great hall or main entrance. The only feature of interest inside the house is the spiral staircase of solid oak treads.

The N.E. Courtyard has in the N.E. angle an octagonal stair-turret (Plate, pp. 56–7) brought out to square at the base. It contains some original single - light windows and has remains of an embattled parapet with a moulded string. There was formerly a projecting building in the middle of the N. side, now destroyed, but with a blocked fireplace-opening with a three-centred head at the first-floor level. There are traces and part of the base of another but quite small projection on the W. side. Various original windows remain, all with rounded heads to the lights in a square outer order. The central block, now of cruciform plan owing to the partial destruction of the cross-arm, has a number of original windows, and on the W. side at the S. end a wide four-centred and moulded arch (Plate, pp. 56–7); the responds have attached shafts with moulded capitals. There is another four-centred archway of smaller size in the S. wall of the adjoining cross-wing. At the S. end of the main block, in a wall formerly internal, are two recesses, both with four-centred arches in square heads; one has the spandrels enriched with blank shields with an inlaid filling.

The N.W. Courtyard has a semi-octagonal turret in the N.W. angle, and there are a number of original windows and four doorways with four-centred heads.

The outer Boundary-wall towards the road is original, and has black-brick diapering. Outside it is part of an original drain with a four-centred brick covering, at the side of the road. Other boundary walls are probably original.

Condition—Poor, partly ruinous.

Monuments (3–10).

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century, and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. Some of the buildings have original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.

a(3). Almshouses (Plate, pp. 56–7), four tenements on N. side of Church Street, 340 yards N.N.E. of the church, were founded by Robert Rich, Lord Warwick, early in the 17th century, and form a long rectangular block of red brick, one storey high, with two projecting gabled bays on the front. The bases of three chimney-stacks are old, but the solid door and window-frames have apparently all been renewed.

b(4). The Forge, on N. side of Church Street, 160 yards S.E. of (3), has an 18th-century addition on the N. and a later W. wing, to the N. of which, lighting the first floor, is an original window of two lights with solid frame and mullion.

b(5). Range of shops and tenements (Plate, p. xl), on E. side of South Street, 180 yards N. of Salt Bridge. The gabled cross-wing at the N. end is probably of 16th-century date, but the rest of the building is of the 17th century.

b(6). House (Plate,p.xxxv), 40 yards N.of (5), was built in the 15th century with a central hall open to the roof, and N. and S. cross-wings. Late in the 16th or early in the following century a first floor was inserted in the hall, and there is a modern addition at the back. The upper storey of the N. wing originally projected on the W. front, but has been under-built; it retains the curved supporting braces at either end. The chimney-stack to the N. wing is of four shafts on a cruciform plan set diagonally; the chimney to the hall-block is rectangular. Inside the building some of the rooms have exposed ceiling-beams. The hall was in two bays with a central king-post truss, now visible on the first floor; the tie-beam was supported on curved braces, which still show in the lower room. In this room is an open fireplace. The roof over the S. wing is in four bays with king-post trusses with curved braces.

b(7). House, on N. side of road, opposite N. end of North Street, was probably built in the 17th century, but is of at least two periods. The S. front has three gables.


b(8). House (Plate, pp. xxxiv-v), now two tenements, adjoining (7) on the E., has a projecting upper storey at the E. end. The central chimney-stack has a moulded capping to the base.

b(9). King's Hill, house, 120 yards S.E. of (8), has a W. cross-wing, possibly of 16th-century date, to which was added in the 17th century an E. block, thus making a building of T-shaped plan. To it have been added modern extensions on the N. Inside the house, at the top of the staircase, are five turned balusters of late 17th-century date.

a(10). House, at Stroud Green, about 1 m. W.N.W. of the church, is of one storey with attics, and was built in the 16th century. It has a cross-wing at the W. end and a modern N.W. addition.