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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89. STIFFORD. (B.e.)
(O.S. 6 in. lxxxiii. N.E.)
Stifford is a parish and village 2 m. N. of Grays Thurrock. The church and Ford Place are the principal monuments.
(1). Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands on the S. side of the main road towards the middle of the parish. The walls are of flint and ragstone-rubble, with some pudding and ironstone in the re-built S. aisle; the dressings are of Reigate and other limestone; the roofs are tiled. Part of the N. wall of the Nave is of 12th-century date. In the middle of the 13th century the South Chapel was added to the chancel, and c. 1260–70 the South Aisle was added and the S. arcade of the nave built; the West Tower was built probably about the same time. In the 14th century or possibly earlier the Chancel was largely re-built and probably extended eastwards. At some subsequent date the S. arcade was repaired and re-set. The S. aisle has been re-built more than once, and the archway between it and the S. chapel widened. The church was restored in the 19th century, when the North Porch was built.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (26½ ft. by 14¼ ft.) has in the E. wall a three-light window and in the N. wall two two-light windows, all modern except the splays and rear-arches. In the S. wall is a re-built two-centred archway to the S. chapel of mid 13th-century date and of two chamfered orders; the outer dies on to the wall and the inner springs on the E. from a semi-octagonal respond with moulded capital and base and on the W. from a shaped corbel. The chancel-arch is modern.
The South Chapel (19¼ ft. by 15 ft.) has in the E. wall (Plate, p. 53) three graduated lancetwindows, modern externally; they are grouped internally under three trefoiled rear-arches, each of one chamfered order and carried on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. In the S. wall are three lancet-windows, all modern except the re-cut splays and the re-set trefoiled rear-arch of the first window. In the W. wall is a low two-centred arch of two chamfered orders abutting on the N. wall and springing from a plain chamfered respond on the S. Above the arch is a lancet-window, all modern except the two-centred rear-arch and splays.
The Nave (33½ ft. by 18½ ft.) has in the N. wall a wide two-centred recess in which is set a modern lancet; further W. is a two-light window with a square head, all modern except the hollow-chamfered splays and a moulded internal label of late 14th or early 15th-century date; the partly restored 12th-century N. doorway has an arched head of two plain orders, the inner segmental with a plastered tympanum and the outer semi-circular with a moulded label; the jambs are chamfered and have moulded imposts; W. of the doorway is a modern window. The S. arcade is of c. 1260–70 and of two bays with segmental-pointed arches of two'chamfered orders; the middle column is circular, with a moulded capital and base; the outer order is continued down the responds and the inner is carried on short shafts with moulded capitals and crowned head-corbels (Plate, p. 161).
The South Aisle (31½ ft. by 12 ft.) has been re-built, but incorporates some old material. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern modern except for the splays and two-centred moulded rear-arch of c. 1260; the western window is also modern except for the splays, the moulded lintel and the corbelled capital which supports it on the W., which are all of c. 1260.
The West Tower (11¼ ft. by 10¾ ft.) is of three stages, and is surmounted by a shingled broach-spire. The two-centred tower-arch is of late 15th-century date and of two chamfered orders; the inner order is carried on semi-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases, while the outer is continuous on the E. side. The late 13th-century W. window is of a single trefoiled light. The second stage has in each wall a modern window, that in the E. wall communicating with the roof. The bell-chamber has in each wall a late 13th-century window of one trefoiled light.
All the Roofs are modern, but that over the nave incorporates some 15th-century timbers, including a hollow-chamfered tie beam, octagonal king-post with moulded capital and base, and four-way struts.
Fittings—Bells: three; 1st and 2nd by John Clifton, 1633 and 1635 respectively. Brasses and Indent. Brasses: In chancel—(1) of Ralph Perchehay, rector of Stifford, c. 1380, half-figure (Plate, p. 160) of priest in mass vestments. In nave—(2) figure of priest in shroud holding a heart inscribed "ihs"; indent of scroll and inscription-plate, late 15th-century. In S. chapel, re-set on E. wall, (3) of John Ardalle, 1504, and Anne, his wife, figure of man in long furred gown, belted at the waist, and of woman in pedimental head-dress, etc., four shields-of-arms, (a) a cheveron between three stars for Ardalle, (b) a cheveron, (c) crusily a lion, (d) three bulls' heads; (4) of Ann, daughter of Thomas Lathum, 1627, figure of woman in costume of period; (5) of Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Lathum, 1630, figure of woman in costume of period; (6) of William Lathum, 1622, and Suzan (Sampson), his wife, 1622, both figures with ruffs and cloaks with pendant sleeves, woman with conical hat and farthingale, three shields-of-arms. Indent: In chancel—on S. side, partly hidden, Purbeck marble slab with indents of marginal inscription in Lombardic capitals, to David de Tillebery, early 14th-century. Chairs: In chancel—two, with carved backs and arms, carved and turned legs and rails, late 17th-century. Chest: of boards bound with three iron straps, probably 16th-century. Door (Plate, pp. 4–5): In N. doorway, of nail-studded battens, probably 16th-century on later framing; re-set on front, three iron straps, the upper and lower attached to crescent-shaped hinges, and all with scrollshaped ends, also small shaped scutcheon-strap of similar workmanship, early 13th-century, iron catch and lock-plate, 17th-century. Font: square bowl with slightly tapering sides, carried on central stem of three grouped shafts with plain capital and base; four round corner-columns with moulded capitals and bases, 13th-century, partly re-cut. Hour-glass stand: fixed to the pulpit, 17th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In W. tower—on N. wall, (1) to Sir Nathaniel Grantham, 1708, Elizabeth (Kenwrick), his wife, 1711, and Martha, their daughter, 1703, white marble cartouche supported by weeping cherubs, at base a skull and above a defaced achievement-of-arms; (2) to Anne (Robinson), wife of James Silverlock, 1642; Elizabeth, wife successively of Cornelius Speering, Sir Richard Higham and James Silverlock; also to her son John Speering and her daughter Katherine; also to Sarah, wife of Robert Strode and afterwards of James Silverlock; inscription set in an alabaster frame with flanking consoles, and moulded base with curved brackets; on cornice, inscription to James Silverlock, 1667, with broken pediment above and a shield-of-arms. In churchyard—on E. wall of chancel, (3) to James Robertson, rector of Stifford, 1709, head-stone with shield-of-arms. Floor-slab: In chancel—to Anthony Bradshawe, 1636, Judith, his wife, 1641, and William, their son, 1649. Painting: In nave, on E. respond of S. arcade, corbel (Plate, p. 161) coloured in patterns of black, red and gilt, with the carved head, forming the terminal, painted with the same colours, the hair and crown being gilded; on the respond, round the corbel, remains of a design of red rosettes on a black ground and contained within a border, late 13th or early 14th-century, lower part probably a later addition. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1627, dated 1628, flagon of 1665, with the arms of Silverlock and inscription, and a stand-paten of 1683. Pulpit: of oak, octagonal, with shallow Doric pilasters on corners, and three sides with panels in form of arched recesses with responds and keystones; on one side the date 1611; base modern. Stairs: In W. tower—with solid wedge-shaped treads and old newel-post at bottom.
Condition—Good, but the W. tower is greatly overgrown by ivy.
(2). Ford Place, house, outbuildings and walls, 1,150 yards W.N.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are partly of brick and partly of plastered timber-framing; the roofs are tiled. It was re-built c. 1655 on an irregular plan with cross-wings at the N. and S. ends and a second wing on the N. Part of the S. wing has since been destroyed and the S. side refaced. There are modern additions on the W. and N. sides. The E. side of the main block and the S. side of the adjoining cross-wing are of red brick with a heavy cornice and a series of plain 'Dutch' gables; the cornice on the main block is supported by two brick pilasters with moulded capitals and standing on corbelled projections; one gable has a sunk panel with the initials ISM probably for James Silverlock and his wife; the second gable has the date 1655 (Plate, p. 127). A gable on the cross-wing has the initials R.S. The 'Dutch' gables are continued round the N. crosswings, but without the cornice (Plate, pp. 56–7).
Inside the building the S.E. room has an original plaster ceiling divided into four bays by moulded trabeations enriched with guilloche ornament; the panels have elaborate strapwork with a rosette in the middle of each. The S.W. room has a rich plaster ceiling of late 17th-century date, divided into two main compartments and six panels; the main trabeation has running foliage, and the panels are surrounded by a band of bay leaves enclosing wreaths of oak leaves and fruit and flowers alternately; the four wreaths at the corners of the room have figures representing the four seasons; the other two have repainted shields-of-arms (Plates, pp. 152, 153). Several other rooms have original ceiling-beams, and there is a doorway, formerly external, with a moulded and carved architrave and a panelled door.
The Gardener's Cottage, formerly stables, is of 17th-century date, much altered and re-built. The walls round the house and garden are largely of 16th-century brickwork.
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.
(3). Dog and Partridge Inn, 520 yards W. by S. of the church, has an 18th-century extension on the E. Inside the building is some original panelling.
(4). House, two tenements, 150 yards E. of (3), has cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. The upper storey projects at the S. end of the E. cross-wing.
(5). House, two tenements, 200 yards E.N.E. of (4), was built probably late in the 17th or early in the 18th century.
(6). House, three tenements, 40 yards E. of (5), was built probably early in the 18th century.
(7). Cottage (Plate, pp. xl–i), 20 yards N.E. of (6), was built probably early in the 18th century.
(8). Cottage (Plate, pp. xl–i), 20 yards E. of (7). Inside the building are some old battened doors.
(9). Cottage, two tenements, opposite church, was built probably early in the 18th century.
(10). Cottage (Plate, pp. xl–i), two tenements, opposite (6).