Pages 29-33

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

20. DANBURY. (D.b.)

(O.S. 6 in. liii. S.E.)

Danbury is a parish 5 m. E. of Chelmsford. The church and the camp are the principal monuments.


(1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist (Plates, pp. xxxii, 24) stands on the S. side of the village. The walls are of iron pudding-stone-rubble except the tower which is of pebble-rubble; the dressings are mostly of Reigate stone and the roofs are tiled. The earliest part of the building appears to be the North Aisle, the base of the N. wall of which is of coursed rubble, possibly of 12th-century date. It is possible that this aisle was the early nave. It was much altered in the latter part of the 13th century when the Chancel was built. The N. arcade is of about the same date. The Nave and a S. aisle were built early in the 14th century and probably in the order named; the West Tower was added about the middle of the same century. The spire fell in 1402, destroying some of the roofs; it was restored in the 15th century and the North Vestry added about the same time. The South Chapel was added in 1837, the chancel-arch re-built in 1846, and the church restored in 1866–7 when the South Aisle was re-built, and the North Porch added.

Among the fittings the three oak effigies are noteworthy.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (32¼ ft. by 20½ ft.) has an E. window, modern except for the 15th-century splays and two-centred rear-arch. In the N. wall is a 15th-century window partly restored and of three cinque-foiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; further E. is the early 15th-century doorway to the vestry, with moulded jambs and two-centred head; E. of it is a small 15th-century piercing, set low in the wall and trefoiled at the top and bottom with splays towards the vestry. The S. arcade and chancel-arch are modern.

The North Vestry (14 ft. by 9 ft.) has in the E. wall a modern window. In the W. wall is a doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred head, said to be modern but possibly of re-used material.

The South Chapel is modern but has a re-set buttress at the S.E. angle and two 15th-century windows re-set in the S. wall; the eastern is of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head and modern externally; the second is similar, but of three lights with a moulded label and one old head-stop; this window is much restored.

Danbury the Parish Church of St John the Baptist

The Nave (39½ ft. by 20¼ ft.) has late 13th and early 14th-century N. and S. arcades of three bays (Plate, p. 24), with two-centred arches of two orders, both hollow-chamfered on the N. and one chamfered and one hollow-chamfered on the S.; the columns are of quatre-foiled plan with moulded capitals and bases; the base-moulds differ slightly on the two sides and the bases of the N. arcade stand on square plinths; the responds have attached half-columns; the N. arcade is of rather earlier date than the S.

The North Aisle (16¾ ft. wide) has an E. window all modern except the splays; S. of it is a 14th-century squint to the chancel, with a two-centred head. In the N. wall are four late 13th-century windows, all much restored internally and each of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; between the two western windows is a doorway of the same date with moulded two-centred arch and label; the jambs have each an attached shaft with a moulded capital and base. In the W. wall is a window all modern except the late 13th-century splays, rear-arch and moulded label with head-stops.

The West Tower (12½ ft. square) is of mid 14th-century date and of three stages with an embattled parapet and a spire covered with shingles and lead. The two-centred tower-arch is of one chamfered order. The W. window, restored externally, is of two trefoiled ogee lights and tracery in a two-centred head; the W. doorway (Plate, p. 84) has moulded jambs, two-centred arch and label returned as a string-course and with another string-course at the level of the crown of the arch: between the string-courses and flanking the doorway are two niches each with moulded jambs, cinque-foiled head and moulded label. The second stage has in the E. and N. walls a single-light window, the latter covered by the clock. In the S. wall is a window of one cinque-foiled light with a square moulded label. In the W. wall is a similar window of one trefoiled light. The bell-chamber has in the E. wall a defaced window with a square head. In the N. wall is a 16th-century window, partly of brick and of two round-headed lights with a square defaced label. The S. wall has a similar window but restored in the 18th century except the W. jamb. In the W. wall is a plain single-light.

The Roof of the chancel is probably of the 15th-century and is of plain trussed-rafter type with moulded plates. The Vestry has a pent-roof with a moulded plate of the 15th century. The roof of the nave appears to have been reconstructed but incorporates old timbers. The roof of the N. aisle has a high-pitched trussed-rafter roof; the eastern part was subsequently wainscoted and has moulded ribs finished with moulded bases, resting on oak corbels carved with the heads of two kings and two women of late 14th or early 15th-century date; the moulded plates are of the same date partly restored, but the rest of the roof is probably of c. 1300. The 15th-century spire has a centre-post resting on four curved braces and with massive tie-beams at the base.

Fittings—Bells: five; 3rd and 5th by Miles Graye and dated 1642 and 1622 respectively. Brasses and Indent. Brasses: In N. aisle— (1) to Edward Mildmay, 1635, inscription and shield-of-arms; (2) to Humfrey Mildmay, 1613, inscription and two shields-of-arms. Indents: In N. aisle—of cross with foiled ends, inscription-plate and two shields, c. 1420. Chair: In chancel —modern but incorporating rough carving of St. Catherine, 16th or 17th-century. Chest: Small, hide-bound, with cambered lid, 17th-century. Funeral-helm: In N. aisle—on E. wall, combed funeral-helm with vizor, carved lion crest, late 16th or early 17th-century. Gallery: In tower—with hollow-chamfered arches, 15th-century and turned balusters, c. 1600. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In chancel—on N. wall, (1) to John Nicoll, 1690, plain white marble tablet with shield-of-arms. In N. aisle—in N. wall, (2) recess with shafted jambs and moulded segmental-pointed arch with a moulded label; under it oak effigy (Plate, p. 29) in chain mail, surcoat to just below the knees, crossed legs, feet on lion, hand drawing sword, late 13th-century; (3) adjoining (2) and with similar recess, head-stop between the two, oak effigy (Plate, p. 29) similar to last but sheathing sword and feet on lion, dragon biting scabbard, late 13th-century. In S. aisle—in S. wall, (4) similar recess, re-set in modern wall, oak effigy (Plate, p. 29) similar to (2) and (3) but surcoat rather longer, knee-cops, hands in attitude of prayer, mail coif, feet on lion, c. 1300. In tower—(5) to George Wither, D.D., 1605, alabaster tablet with strap-ornament and shield-of-arms. In churchyard— S. side, (6) to John Lawrence and Alice his wife, also their children, John, Alice and Elizabeth, 1705, head-stone. Floor-slabs: In S. chapel— (1) to Thomas Langham, 1669, and Sarah Nicoll, 1683, with shield-of-arms; (2) to Robert Cory, D.D., rector and prebendary of St. Paul's, 1704, with shield-of-arms. In N. aisle—(3) to John Mildmay, 1673, with shield-of-arms; (4) to William Mildmay, 1682, with shield-of-arms. In S. aisle—(5) to Samuel Cooper, 1677, with shield-of-arms. Niche: In S. aisle—in E. wall, small, with lancet-head and chamfered jambs, 13th-century. Painting: In chancel—on S. wall, Jacobean strap-work in red, early 17th-century. In N. aisle—on walls, masoned lines and on E. wall, interlacing foliage in brown, yellow and black, late 13th-century, much restored. Piscinae: In chancel (Plate, p. xlv) —with hollow-chamfered jambs and cinque-foiled head with moulded label and mask-stops, round drain partly restored, late 13th-century. In N. aisle—in E. wall, square - headed recess, with damaged round drain, date uncertain. In S. aisle— re-set in S. wall, round drain, date uncertain. Plate: includes paten of 1667 and brass alms-dish of foreign workmanship with repoussé figures of Adam and Eve, inscription "Humfri Tailler 1631" and a meaningless succession of letters in two bands. Seating: In nave—four benches (Plate, p. 5) with moulded rails and three popey-heads, remains of beasts on shoulders, 15th-century. Scratching: On jamb on N. doorway—the name Ysabel and a cross, mediaeval. Stoup: In N. aisle—in N. wall, with re-set drain from a piscina and segmental head, probably 15th-century. Miscellanea: Incorporated in backs of benches and cupboard in tower, traceried panels and desk front, 15th-century.



(2). Frettons, house (Plate, pp. 56–7), 100 yards N.E. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are timber-framed and refaced with brick; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably early in the 16th century and consisted of a central hall with E. and W. cross-wings. Later in the same century a wing was added to the S.W. of the building. A kitchen block was built parallel to this addition at the S.E. corner of the house late in the 17th century, and there are small modern additions. The chimney-stack on the S. side of the hall is original and has an embattled offset and a single diagonal shaft. The S.W. wing has two late 16th-century chimney-stacks with grouped diagonal shafts. Inside the building the Hall is lined with 17th-century panelling and has an overmantel of two square carved panels divided by a pair of tapering pilasters with a narrow round-headed panel between them and supporting a carved frieze. The lower part of the walls of another room are lined with 16th-century panelling.

Condition—Good, much altered.

Monuments (3–8).

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of late 16th-century date and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered or weather-boarded; the roofs are tiled. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams and original chimney-stacks.

Condition—Good or fairly good.

(3). Griffin Inn, 130 yards N. of the church, has cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. It has been considerably altered and has a modern addition at the back. One chimney-stack has two diagonal shafts. Inside the building are some fragments of 15th-century quatrefoil carving, said to have been brought from the church.

(4). House, opposite (3), was built early in the 16th century with a cross-wing at the W. end. The upper storey projects on the N. The main doorway has a four-centred head with spandrels carved with foliage.

(5). Elmgreen Farm, house, 500 yards N.W. of the church, with modern additions on the S. It has a gabled cross-wing at the N.W. end with a projecting upper storey.


(6). Cottage, ¼ m. S. by W. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E. The S. end of the W. wing has a projecting upper storey. In the W. wall is an original doorway with moulded jambs, four-centred head and sunk spandrels.

(7). House, now tenements, at Russell Green, about 1 m. E. of the church, was built probably early in the 17th century.

(8). Slough House (Plate, p. 32), at Slough Bridge, 2 m. S.E. of the church, was built late in the 15th or early in the 16th century and consists of a central-hall block with gabled cross-wings at the N. and S. ends. The central block and the N. wing were largely re-built probably in the 17th century. It has a modern addition at the back. On the N. and S. sides of the original building are large mid 16th-century brick chimney-stacks each with two octagonal shafts. Inside the building on the upper floor is a stone fireplace with a four-centred head; the roof retains a central purlin and a rough king-post with two-way struts.

Part of the garden wall is built of blocks of pudding-stone and ragstone, probably re-used material.

(9). Douglas House, about 400 yards E. of the church, was built in the 15th century with a hall and cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. The hall was subsequently divided into two storeys. Inside the building the hall has an original roof truss with curved braces and octagonal king-post with moulded capital and base. At the W. end of the hall is an original doorway with a two-centred head.


(10). Danbury Camp, is a roughly oval earthwork, situated on high ground at the W. end of a promontory, between the Rivers Blackwater and Crouch, and enclosing the church and churchyard. Though much denuded, the entire outline of the work can still be traced, but on the N. a slight dip, towards the road, is all that remains. The defences consisted, apparently, of a single rampart and ditch, with a slight mound (shown on Morant's 18th-century plan as 'site of beacon') at the N.W. corner. There are slight traces of transverse banks inside the camp.