Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Rettendon, Essex

All Saints was bolted shut but had a really helpful notice saying that visits could be arranged in advance by phoning a number. What is the point of having a notice saying "phone in advance to arrange a visit" which can only be read when the visitor is already at the church and can't ring in advance as he or she is already there? This is stupidity at its worst and made me doubly angry as the interior sounds interesting.

ALL SAINTS. The surprise of the church is the MONUMENT to Edmund Humphrey d. 1727, signed, according to Mrs Esdaile, by Samuel Chandler. It is a large marble affair with four standing figures and one semi-reclining. The four are arranged triptych-wise with two single figures in niches in the wings and a couple higher up together in one niche. Open segmental pediment above them. - The church still has its plain Late Norman S doorway and its C13 chancel (see the shafted splays  of the new E window, inside a small N lancet, and the trefoiled Sedilia and Piscina). The rest is mostly Perp. Quite a big W tower with diagonal buttresses, SE stair turret, large W window (with tracery that may be C17), battlements and a low pyramid roof. N aisle arcade with short octagonal piers with concave sides and double-hollow-chamfered arches, N chancel chapel of one bay of the same characteristics, and N vestry, two-storeyed with a chimneystack. - STALLS in the chancel with pretty poppy-heads, decorated e.g. with a dog, a lion, a bear, a monkey. Also some traceried panels perhaps re-used. - PLATE. Cup of 1562 with two bands of ornament; Paten on foot, 1641. - BRASSES. Civilian and two wives, c. 1535, with children below. On a stone slab of c. 1200 with an adorned rim with leaves; also birds.

All Saints (2)

RETTENDON. Its tower is seen for miles on land and looks out to the sea; the walls are five feet thick. It must have been well known to Rettendon’s martyr hero, who was burned to death for his faith in 1556; he was John Derifall. The church is from the 13th and 15th centuries, its oldest possession being a stone from a tomb of
Becket’s time carved with birds and foliage. It was used after the Reformation as a gravestone for an unknown civilian whose family portraits are on it in brass; there are himself, his two wives, and seven children. Close by it is the portrait of Richard Cannon.

On the floor are brass portraits with a tragic tale behind them, those of Richard Humfrey, who died a few years before Shakespeare and is here with his three sons kneeling one behind the other. It was one of these sons who accidentally shot his father, a tragedy which caused great concern at the time, the son being tried and convicted and set free by royal pardon. The actual document of the pardon hangs in the chapel here, with the Great Seal of James the First hanging from it. For a hundred years after this tragedy the family thrived at Rettendon, and then came the time of Edmund Humfrey to pass away, a bachelor and the last of his family. He resolved, apparently, that he should not be forgotten, and he built for himself a vast monument completely filling the east wall of the chapel. Sunday after Sunday he would gaze at his marble figure with sobbing cherubs lamenting him. Above him stands an armoured man and a dignified woman, and there are grey pillars supporting a canopy over which are trophies and a painted shield, while a silver arm holds out a gilded cross.

It is pleasant to turn from this extraordinary structure, the work of an Italian craftsman, to the beautiful woodcarving in the choir, where nine bench-ends have elaborate poppyheads carved with beasts, a bear with a ragged staff, and a child in swaddling clothes on which remain the claws of an eagle. In the backs of some of these benches are traceried panels, probably from an ancient screen; they are of much beauty.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

North Fambridge, Essex

Holy Trinity is a tiny brick building which I took to be Victorian but which is actually C18th. Normally I'd write a church like this off but I really liked it, perhaps because it was open.

HOLY TRINITY. Close to the mud-flats of the estuary of the river Crouch. C18, brick, with arched windows, and a bell-turret. The W side altered with half timbering and pebble-dash in 1890.

East window (1)

East window (2)

East window (3)

Arthur either disregarded it or missed it.

Cold Norton, Essex

St Stephen was rebuilt by the Victorians and it shows.

ST STEPHEN. 1855 by Pritchett (GR), with a bellcote quite out of keeping with the style of this part of Essex. But what did the High Victorians care? - BRASS. To a Lady, c. 1520.

Glass (2)

Maude Cammocke 1599 (2)

Brass (1)

COLD NORTON. Its cottages are scattered on a slope above the River Crouch. Its church is of last century and has a few things from the older church, a brass showing a woman in the headdress of 1520, and an oak pulpit carved from the old beams in the roof. From the same ancient timbers comes the reading desk. Crouching apostles and saints with their emblems as corbels support the roof, a modern sculpture gallery; and three panels of glass with backgrounds of rich blue give a glow to the east window. Its central panel is a beautiful Crucifixion.

Mundon, Essex

St Mary is a CCT church, is kept open and is an extraordinary building. The bell "tower" is a windowless semi octagon through whose gloom you enter the body of the church. Remnants of wallpaintings, box pews, a nice pulpit and a general air of shabbiness (in a nice way) greet you. This is a really special building in all its oddness.

ST MARY. Nave and chancel and a timber tower, remarkable in design though hardly higher than the nave roof. Square centre with N, S, and W aisles, the W aisle connected by triangular pieces to N and S aisles (cf. Navestock). The aisle roofs are tiled and start about 8 ft from the ground. The square upper part is boarded. The nave has an early C14 N window with Y-tracery. A brick window and a blocked archway into a chapel on the S side must be early C16. The chancel is early C18. Of brick with original E and N windows. Timber N porch with V pendants hanging from the lower eaves ends of the gable. Humble interior with box-pews and candle-holders on them. - PLATE. Jacobean Cup on a stem for which the Royal Commission suggests a pre-Reformation date.

St Mary (3)

St Edmund (2)

Nave looking east (1)

MUNDON. Odd to look at and lonely in its situation, its church gives us an impression of a day that has passed. An ivied elm and a ragged yew grow at its rustic gate, behind a barn of Stuart days keeping company with its great house, and round it all run traces of a moat which must have been filled with water in the days of the Barons. From those days comes the church’s oldest possession, the Norman font made square 800 years ago but given the fashionable shape of a later day by cutting off its corners. One of the oldest bells in the county still rings as it has rung for more than 500 years. The timber belfry was erected for it in Tudor days, and a very quaint addition it is, half an octagon fitted round the west wall. The same carpenters may have built the porch, with a gable of moulded bargeboards and spandrels carved with twisted leaves.

Woodham Mortimer, Essex

St Margaret was very firmly locked, Victorian and has a curious north chapel and vestry. According to Pevsner I didn't miss much.

ST MARGARET. C19, except for the S wall of the nave with one small Norman window and the rear-arch of the doorway. - PLATE. Cup on Elizabethan stem. - BRASS. Dorothy Alleine d. 1584, nothing special.

St Margaret (3)


WOODHAM MORTIMER. Whoever peeps into this church on the road to Maldon will make the acquaintance of a delightful Elizabethan maid, engraved in brass and wearing a pleated gown. This is from the inscription they wrote for her, little Dorothy Alleine:

A little imp here buried is,
Her soul to Christ is fled.

The church in which she lies has been rebuilt save for one wall, which is Norman and has an arch with remains of red colour. The capital of the pillar piscina is Norman, and possibly the round font, which stands on a medieval stem. The altar table is 17th century and there is carving of that age on the pulpit and the organ case.

The hall by the church is a fine three-storeyed building with a 16th century wing framed in timber at the back, and made imposing by four Dutch gables added to the front 300 years ago.