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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60. NORTH BENFLEET. (D.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. lxix. S.W.)
North Benfleet is a small parish 8 m. W.N.W. of Southend-on-Sea.
(1). Parish Church of All Saints stands at the S. end of the parish. The walls are of ragstone-rubble with some flint and brickwork; the dressings are of Reigate stone and brick; the roofs are tiled. The Nave was built early in the 13th century, but except for the W. bay it was largely reconstructed in the 17th century. Early in the 16th century the North Porch was added and a bell-turret built. The church has been restored in modern times, when the Chancel was re-built and the Organ Chamber and West Tower added.
Architectural Description—The Chancel is modern, but incorporates the 14th-century moulded splays and rear-arch of the E. window and an early 16th-century brick window in the N. wall of two trefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label.
The Nave (41½ ft. by 21 ft.) has been largely refaced both internally and externally except for the W. bay. In the N. wall are four modern windows and a modern doorway. In the S. wall are four windows, all modern externally but with 17th-century brick splays and rear-arches, except the westernmost which is plastered internally; the internal wall-face is of 17th-century white brick except the W. bay. In the W. wall is a modern doorway, and above it a window of c. 1200 and of one round-headed light. At the W. end of the nave is the timber framework (Plate, pp. xxxviii-ix) of the former bell-turret; it has four main and four subsidiary posts and heavy curved braces.
The North Porch has been partly reconstructed. The early 16th-century outer archway has moulded jambs and two-centred head. The side walls have each a modern window.
Fittings—Bells: two; both by Robert Burford, early 15th-century, and inscribed "San eta Katerina Ora Pro Nobis." Chest: with moulded and panelled lid, front and ends, early 17th-century. Font: square bowl, each face with six shallow pointed panels, square base with seating for stem and four shafts at the angles, early 13th-century, stem modern. Monument: In churchyard—N. side, to Mary Smith, 1711, head-stone. Piscina: In chancel—recess with trefoiled head, 15th-century, much restored, set in it a shaft with 13th-century moulded capital, forming drain, and base. Plate: includes cup of 1564 and cover-paten, the former with a band of engraved ornament.
Condition—Poor, cracks in walls and buttresses falling away.
(2). At Coldblows, 600 yards W. of the church.
(3). At Smith's Farm, 700 yards N.W. of the church.
(4). At Bradfield's Farm, 1,000 yards N.W. of the church.
(5). North Benfleet Hall, house and moat, N. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of plastered timber-framing and brickwork, and the roofs are tiled. It is H-shaped on plan with a staircase block in the W. angle on the N. side. The E. wing is of 15th-century date, but the middle block and W. wing were built or re-built in the 16th century. Considerable alterations were made in the 17th century, when a cellar was formed under the E. wing, and modern alterations include the rebuilding of the roofs of the W. wing and middle block. Both ends of the cross-wings have been refaced with modern brickwork, and the projecting upper storey at the S. end of the E. wing has been under-built. On the S. front the wall of the middle block has a projecting gable at either end, carried on a moulded bressummer at the eaves-level, with moulded brackets below. The entrance door has big strap-hinges with foliated ends, and over it is a blocked two-light window with moulded jambs and mullions. On the upper floor of the E. front of the E. wing is a blocked 17th-century window, and in the W. wall of this wing is a blocked window of five lights with diamond-shaped mullions. On the N. front, over the entrance doorway is a blocked two-light window, and there is a similar window of five lights to the staircase; there are also blocked windows to each floor of the E. wing. The two principal chimney-stacks are of 17th-century date. Inside the building the ground-floor rooms have exposed ceiling-beams and the timber-framing in the walls of the passage on the N. side of the central block and the main staircase is also exposed. There is a 17th-century door adjoining the N. entrance with moulded styles and strap-hinges. The staircase has a moulded handrail and square newel-post with shaped top of c. 1600. The bays of the roof over the E. wing are original, and the main truss has a cambered tie-beam with curved braces below forming a four-centred arch and a king-post with curved two-way struts to the central purlin. The roof over the central block is modern but retains one old cambered tie-beam.
The Moat is incomplete.
Condition—Of house, good.
(6). Great Fanton Hall, house, (Plate, p. 57) about 1 m. N. of the church, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of timber-framing, partly plastered and partly weather-boarded; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century and repaired and altered c. 1787; there are modern additions on the N. and W. On the plastered E. front are the initials W.R. and the date 1787. The central chimney-stack is original and of six grouped octagonal shafts on a rectangular base. Inside the building some of the timber-construction and ceiling-beams are exposed.