Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Little Waltham, Essex

St Martin's curious tower is probably its most notable feature, evidently it partially collapsed at some point and now it is half flint and half what looks like Tudor brick - it looks quite astonishing and rather beautiful. Sadly the same cannot be said for the rest of the church which suffered a restoration in 1883/4 by Frederick Chancellor, the result of which is a total lack of atmosphere. There is a nice brass of John Maltoun (who died in 1447) and a very good east window designed by Lawrence Lee in 1951 which shows scenes of Little Waltham as a background to the crucifixion. The north aisle windows have nice heraldic glass also by Lee.

ST MARTIN. Norman nave with S doorway (one order of columns, one-scallop capitals, roll-moulding) and one S window. Chancel Perp, W tower also Perp but much repaired in brick in the C16 or C17. Behind the battlements appears a minute cupola with a weathervane dated 1679. - CHEST. ‘Dug-out’, 7 ft long, heavily bound with iron; C13 or C14; nave W end. - PLATE. Cup with Elizabethan stem and bowl of 1619; Paten on foot of 1712. - BRASS to John Maltun d. 1447, in armour, the figure 3 ft long.

St Martin (2)

John Maltoun 1447 (1)

Lawrence Lee 1951 (7)

LITTLE WALTHAM. Many of the farms and cottages round about go back to the 16th and 17th centuries, but a house near Winchford Bridge was built in the 15th century and has attractive woodwork. The church is older still, for its nave comes from Norman England and has kept a doorway and two windows all the time. The chancel was rebuilt about 1400, and the embattled tower is less than a century younger. Its weathervane of 1679 flies as a pennon above the handsome walnut trees in the churchyard. There is a spacious timber porch with beams and cornices and other woodwork by Tudor carpenters; a Tudor door on its old strap-hinges, a fine brass of John Maltun of 1447 who is shown with a dog at his feet and two tiny white cherubs; and an inscription to John Aleyne of 1663. John was a benefactor of the village who left money for the teaching of apprentices, and part of a lad’s leather coat worn by one of them is still a curious treasure here. It is kept in a church chest, a magnificent object hollowed out of a sycamore about 700 years ago, and strongly bound with iron straps. Another chest was made in Shakespeare’s day, and has a leather coat not in it but outside, the arched lid being covered with leather and initialled with the heads of nails.

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