Sunday, 29 January 2012

Little Totham, Essex

Heading for the Tolleshunts I passed a sign for All Saints so did a U-turn and found an unexpected church, I'd not included it as a church on my Google map so it really was unexpected.

All Saints sits beside a Hall in the back of beyond and was, amazingly, open. Again it's a very simple church with a stunning Norman south door and a handsome C17th monument to the Sammes family. Although it's suffered under the hands of an over zealous restorer it retains much of its original charm.

ALL SAINTS. A good Late Norman S doorway is the most rewarding piece of the church. It is of two orders of columns and decorated with certain unusual motifs. The columns for instance have square blocks with rosettes round their waists - rather a low waist-line, that is about one third up. The voussoirs combine roll-mouldings with a kind of three-dimensional double-saltire frieze. One frieze runs parallel, one at r. angles to the door opening. An earlier Norman N doorway, quite plain. C13 lancets in the nave on the N and S and also the chancel N and S. Handsome E end with three stepped single lancets. Early in the C16 a big W tower was added, of squared flints. But the enterprise was stopped and the tower later finished in timber, weatherboarded, with a pyramid roof. Inside, original roofs with low tie-beams. - FONT. Perp, octagonal, bowl decorated with tracery. The font is quite unusually interesting, because the carver used apparently what were to him eight current tracery motifs. They are indeed such as one sees frequently in church windows. But although the date is no doubt C15, the Dec motifs of cusped intersection and of ogee reticulation are still there. Otherwise the motifs are those of three- and four-light panel tracery and the Perp type with straightened reticulation, both with and without transome. - PULPIT. Incorporating bits of the C17. - DOOR in N doorway. With iron hinges with large and small scrolls; c. 1200. - ORGAN. Early C19 Gothic. - MONUMENT. Sir John Sammes and wife, mid C17, but still in the Jacobean tradition. Standing wall monument with two large kneeling figures opposite each other by a praying desk. Each figure against an arched niche. Below a deep arched recess with the equally large kneeling figure of the son.

All Saints (2)

Sammes Monument (6)

Peacocks (2)

LITTLE TOTHAM. The villagers live in a group of cottages a mile north of the old hall, among whose barns and trees the small Norman church is almost lost to view. The central part of the hall is 500 years old and has good timbering. Close by is a pond covered with lilies in due season. Pines, poplars, and young chestnuts give beauty to the spacious churchyard. We come into the church through a magnificent Norman doorway, a lovely example of about the year 1160, the shafts and the three orders of the arch elaborately carved. There is another Norman doorway blocked up. The 15th century font has on all its eight sides miniature carvings of varied styles of window tracery. The ancient craft of the smith, too, is well represented in the ironwork of the doors, foliage work of the 12th and 13th century. On a marble monument lie Sir John Samms and his wife, facing each other in prayer, he clad in his armour of Stuart days.


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