Monday, 14 February 2011

Great Braxted, Essex

All Saints is possibly the quintessential manor house church and was almost impossible to find. The church gates (at the end of a long tree lined avenue) were padlocked and I had to pluck up my courage to brazenly gain access by driving into Great Braxted Hall and finding it in the grounds - even though a sign said No Entry Function in progress.

A strange thing is happening - I'm beginning to appreciate the Chelmsford style, if the location also appeals which in this case it did. Sadly, but understandably, the church is locked although I would have thought that with a commercial wedding venue only a few hundred yards away somehow a keyholder could be inveigled.

No matter, I suspect the interior would have disappointed. Incidentally if you're a fisher or twitcher this area of Essex abounds with possibilities.

ALL SAINTS. A picturesque setting of the first order, with the large serpentine lake and the generous trees of the grounds of Braxted Park as a background to the little church, which is itself also picturesque. The best view is from the W, with the C13 tower with W buttresses and a bellcote of 1883 (?), behind which appears the timber belfry stage of the tower with two-light windows. Were the recent additions designed by the Rev. E. Geldart, rector of Little Braxted? Of the C13 a S and a N lancet and the tower arch towards the nave without any break between jambs and voussoirs. The rest of the church principally Norman, see one N window of the nave and one of the chancel. The chancel was originally apsed. Its present E end is C13 and has lancet windows, at the E end a group of three single ones stepped. The S porch is C15 with a timber-roof on carved corbels. - PANELLING. In the chancel, early C17, not originally in the church. - STAINED GLASS.  Window of N transept above the Du Cane vault 1844 by Warrington. - PLATE. Cup of 1562, Paten also Elizabethan; Almsdish of 1646; Flagon of 1660; Paten of 1711. - MONUMENT. Robert Aylett d. 1654. Inscription tablet, and l. and r. of it two tablets with shields and two roundels with skulls, bones and a shovel (under the tower).

All Saints (2)

Frost damage

GREAT BRAXTED. It has the mark of a family of the Low Countries who fled to the freedom of Elizabethan England from the terrible Duke of Alva. They were the Du Canes, who acquired wealth by promoting the wool industry of their fellow refugees and bought the great house here, in a park which they made a paradise. Its 500 acres are crowded with magnificent trees, their noble branches reflected in a lake of 14 acres. The churchyard, with a lordly cedar, is ringed round by all this natural glory, and approached from the road by a long avenue of wizened yews.

On these hills lived the Romans, and the Normans used their bricks to shape the windows of the church. The lancets in the chancel and in the walls under the wooden turret were added in the 13th century; one of them has a medieval sundial scratched on it. The roof of the 15th century porch has timbering resting on stone corbels, two angels and two human folk.

Flickr set.

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