Thursday, 13 May 2010

Chickney, Essex

St Mary was the first CCT church I encountered and immediately became my bell-weather church for Essex - a stunning location, lonely not to say isolated, a beautiful building and, in my experience, always kept open; simply put outstanding.

ST MARY. Saxon nave with two original double-splayed windows. Chancel with small E.E. lancets. The chancel arch is about a hundred years later. Its imposts are exceedingly curious; they are regarded by the Royal Commission as C19, but are not necessarily so. Pretty two-light squint to the l. of the arch. - FONT. C14 with buttressed stem and bowl with deep crocketed ogee arches with shields in the spandrels. - FONT COVER. C16, pyramidal, with embattled foot, and crockets, but certain leaf motifs which look Elizabethan. - PLATE. Small Cup with baluster stem, c. 1630-40.

Arthur Mee:

CHICKNEY. Here, its walls askew, stands one of the oldest and most remarkable churches in Essex. With a couple of farms and a cottage or two, it is all there is of Chickney.

The church stands in an oval churchyard - a shape loved by the Saxons - and is much as the Saxon builders left it. Here are their nave and chancel, the chancel having been lengthened in the 13th century and the little tower added a century later. Stirring it is to look at these walls and feel that they were here when the Conqueror set foot in Sussex. There are doubly splayed Saxon windows in the nave, with doorways of the 14th century; and in the chancel two Saxon windows keep company with two of the 13th century. On two of the windows on the south side are several old scratch dials. The kingpost roof of the nave is 600 years old, and so is the chancel arch, by which is a curiously shaped peephole through which the altar can be seen. The 19th century restorers came upon the altar stone set in the chancel by the 13th century men, and here it is in position again, with its five consecration crosses. A splendid font to which the babies have been coming for 500 years is carved with canopies and angels and shields.

Close by stands a 17th century house which has kept some of its old panelling; and about a mile away is Sibley's Farm, built in the 15th century, a gabled house with overhanging storeys. It has a Tudor staircase, Tudor fireplaces, a Tudor barn, and one of the oldest dovecots in Essex.

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