Monday, 17 May 2010

Clavering, Essex

SS Mary & Clement could, probably justifiably, be kept locked but I've always found it open - for which I'm truly thankful since this is a fascinating church with lots of interest.

ST MARY AND ST CLEMENT. A church of pebble-rubble, all Perp and all embattled. The W tower has angle buttresses, the aisles, clerestory and S porch three-light windows. Inside, the N and S arcades have curiously detailed tall, slim, lozenge-shaped piers. They have a thin demi-shaft on a semi-polygonal base and towards the (four-centred) arches semi-polygonal shafts. The roofs are all original  low-pitched and have a number of original head corbels. The nave-roof has tie-beams, the slightly earlier chancel has not. - FONT. Octagonal, of Purbeck marble, with two shallow blank pointed arches to each side, c. 1200. - PULPIT. Elizabethan, with two tiers of the typical short broad flatly ornamented arches. - BENCHES. Plain in the S aisle, with traceried ends in the N aisle. — SCREEN, with S broad, tall, one-light openings, cusped and crocketed ogee heads and panel tracery above. - STAINED GLASS. Much of the C15 in the N windows ; probably Norwich school. - MONUMENTS. Efligy of a Knight in chain-mail with coif and mail-coat reaching nearly to the knees. Purbeck marble, early C13. - Brass to one Songar and wife, c. 1480 (17-in. figures). - Brass of 1591 with kneeling figures. - Brass of 1593. - Margaret Barley d. 1653 and Mary Barley d.1658, both wives of the same man, almost identical, with frontal busts in oval niches between columns. Attributed by Mrs Esdaile to one of the Marshalls. - Haynes Barlee d. 1696, erected in 1747. Elegant frontal bust with decoration of a cool and classical style.
CLAVERING CASTLE. Remains of the site N of the church, near a handsome gabled C17 house called THE BURY. The site is rectangular with a ditch 75 ft wide and 18 ft deep. There probably have been stone buildings in the castle.

Arthur Mee:

CLAVERING. Scattered about a brook which feeds the River Stort it has, in a meadow by the churchyard, an acre of mounds with a dry moat round them, believed to have been the Roland's Castle in which Normans arriving before the Conqueror fortified themselves after incurring the anger of their Saxon hosts. On the hill is a windmill which has lost its sails.

The Grange, with brickwork between its timbers, stands in spacious grounds, and there are delightful overhanging cottages, one said to have been a 15th century almshouse. Next to it is a shop with carved Jacobean woodwork and wall-paintings of religious subjects. The clerestoried 14th century church has its original porch, and two fine arches in the tower and the chancel, supported by weird heads, are balanced by dignified nave arcades. The oldest possessions of the church are the 700-year-old bowl of the font and a stone figure of a knight in 13th century mail, lying in a recess. On a wall-tablet is Haynes Barlee, of grave features and curly hair, with his third wife, and to keep him company is a tablet in coloured marbles with a bust of his first wife, several children, and some skulls, and a bust of his second wife, "by whom he had a very plentiful fortune." There is another tablet in memory of the wife of William Wales, the gallant astronomer who sailed with Captain Cook and saw him die. He was one of that broken-hearted band who came home with the news a year later, and he settled down as mathematical master at Christ's Hospital. He took great interest in the condition of Society and was one of the first to conceive a census of the English people; but he found so much religious hostility to the idea that he gave up his researches. There are brass portraits of Thomas and Ursula Welbore and their six children in Elizabethan costume, and on another brass are three girls left motherless by Joan Smith in the 16th century.

The church is rich in treasures of 15th century glass, with scenes from the life of St Catherine, angels, Madonnas, the head of Christ crowned with golden thorns, and St Cecilia. All the roofs are 15th century, that of the chancel supported by finely sculptured heads, and a bishop and a company of grotesques sustaining the roof of the nave, which has fantastic bosses carved on its beams and seraphim watching from the sides. One roof has bosses of musicians playing, a priest in his robes, and an angel with an organ.

The high 15th century screen has panels of saints drawn in black lines on a white ground. There are over a score of medieval benches, two Tudor chests, and two 15th century chairs. But the masterpiece of craftsmanship here is the Jacobean oak pulpit, which, set on the stem of its medieval predecessor, is carved on each of its seven panels and has delicate inlay work of other woods.

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