Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Toppesfield, Essex

The area around St Margaret of Antioch is about as hilly as it gets around these parts and thus the church commands the village and provides some great views. Sadly it was locked with no keyholder listed and the general impression was of dilapidation, general neglect and, nonetheless, genteel decline.

A heavily restored chancel and nave had a brick built tower added in 1699 and the overall effect is definitely a Marmite one - I think I come down on the side of love it....but then again....nope definitely love it. I got the feeling that this church would absolutely deliver on the interior but we'll probably never know as all Google returns show it as locked. I would like to know what the curious iron 'candle' spikes on the exterior north nave wall were for though.

UPDATE: Having been told that keyholders are now listed I revisited on 28/02/13 and, after having received the third degree before the key was released into my care, gained entry. The interior though simple is as lovely as expected; light, airy and spacious - it has a really nice feel to it.

ST MARGARET OF ANTIOCH. W tower of 1699, built of red brick. On the W side together with other names that of the bricklayer, Daniel Hill, is recorded. The tower has arched windows and battlements with obelisk pinnacles. The distinguishing feature is the semicircular troughs between the battlements. The church is of the C14. It has a S aisle with an arcade on octagonal piers, carrying double-chamfered arches. The chancel on its S side has a group of cusped arches, first a low broad recess, then two single sedilia seats and then the piscina. In the recess a low tomb-chest with quatrefoil decoration. The windows are all Perp. - STAINED GLASS. In the S aisle E window small figure of the C15; Coronation of the Virgin and one censing angel. - MONUMENTS. Knight of c.1260, cross-legged with flat-topped pot-helmet, Purbeck marble (below the organ). - Brass to John Cracherod d. 1534 and wife (also below the organ)*. - Dorcas Smyth d. 1633 by John Colt, son of the more famous Maximilian Colt. The monument is a display of emblems, without effigy; beehive for Industria Dulcis, heart for Spes, hand pointing upward for Caritas. Originally there was also a dove for Fides. On the sides open books with their titles now alas mostly illegible.

* The knight effigy is not visible (and probably wasn't when Pevsner wrote this entry) and only half of the Cracherod brass peeks out from under the organ.

St Margaret of Antioch

St Margaret of Antioch (3)

Curiosity (2)

TOPPESFIELD. True to its name, it stands high, with wide views over Essex and Suffolk, and with a rich heritage of old houses round about. Toppesfield Hall, close to the road, is 300 years old and has much original woodwork. Berwick Hall has kept some of its moat; Bradfield’s Farm is 15th century and has a Tudor barn; and parts of the rectory are thought to be 500 years old. The most striking sight in the village is a pinnacled brick tower built in the last year of the 17th century, the guardian of a church much older. Both its porches are 15th century, one timbered and weather worn, the other with an embattled parapet and a grotesque gargoyle. The doorways are 14th century and so is the chancel, which leans out of line with the nave. The south aisle roof has been here 500 years, and the nave roof has a beam carved about 1600. There is some 17th century panelling, and a little 15th century glass probably from a picture of the crowning of the Madonna. Under a canopy is a panelled tomb with a cross in bold relief, thought to be the sleeping-place of the founder of the chancel 600 years ago; but the surprising monument is one with two piles of carved books supporting a broken pediment with a beehive. It has a lamb crouching on a book below the inscription, which is to Dorcas Smyth who died in 1633.

Flickr set.

1 comment:

  1. Great info, my 5th Great-grandfather was baptised here in 1811