Saturday, 2 October 2010

Great Maplestead, Essex

From the front St Giles is a fairly run of the mill atypical north Essex church with a squat castellated tower, which seems to short for the body of the church - it was rebuilt in the 17th century and was, presumably, shortened as it's predecessor was unsafe. From the south, however, a more interesting picture emerges: the sanctuary is rounded and an attractive chapel is tacked on to the south side resulting in an overall pleasing exterior.

The interior is satisfying with some interesting wall and ceiling, modern, painting and some interesting monuments and nice glass (I took one of my favourite window pictures here). But it is the two Deane monuments in the south chapel that lift it into the must see category.

On the east wall is Sir John Deane, Deputy Lieutenant and JP for Essex, 1625, of alabaster and marble, set in a recess, with Ionic side columns and a reclining effigy in plate armour with his feet on a muzzled Bear's head. A shelf at the back shows the kneeling figures of his widow, four daughters and two sons and the monument includes two coats of arms. According to his epitaph "His parts and person were admirable; Desarte & hee were twynns: his piety was ye fountain of his actions: & his hearte was ye seate of equity: truth was ye best interpretour of his words; his meditations were wholy bounded in Heaven: his charity asked tyme to give & gave no tyme to asking: ye pleasures of his life were ye passages of verture, death was his triumph not his conquerer: he was buried in ye teares of ye faithful, & shall rise in ye joy of ye rightious. To whose perpetuall memory Anne Deane his eldest daughter did make and dedicate this inscription".

Opposite him on the west wall is a monument to Anne Drury, his wife, dated 1633, erected by her son, Sir Drew Drury, of alabaster and marble with a projecting shelf resting on Ionic columns supporting the recumbent figure, in plate armour of Sir Drew. A large round headed recess at the back contains the upright figure of Lady Anne in a shroud with a broken pediment at the top with two angels and flanked by two arm cartouches. Her epitaph is no less fulsome:

Her shape was rare: Her beauty exquisite
Her wytt accurate: Her judgement singular
Her entertainment harty: Her conversation lovely
Her harte merciful: Her hand helpful
Her courses modest: Her discourses wise
Her charity Heavenly: Her amity constant
Her practise holy: Her religion pure
Her vowes lawful: Her meditations divine
Her faith unfaygned: Her hope stable
Her prayers devout: Her devotions diurnall
Her dayes short: Her life everlasting

ST GILES. Sturdy, unbuttressed Norman W tower with later battlements, and Norman apse, complete with its three windows. The chancel however is E.E. (one N window with a low-side-window beneath, and remains of a second N window). C14 S aisle with the typical octagonal piers continued with a vertical piece which dies into the double-chamfered arch. The W end renewed in brick early in the C16.  A S chapel or transept was added as a family chapel in the C17. The N side of the church is Victorian. - FONT. Perp, octagonal, with traceried stem, and bowl with foliage decoration. Remains of colour found in 1929. The panels were bright blue with thin yellow diapering. - MONUMENTS. Sir John Deane d. 1625. Semi-reclining figure stiffly propped up on one elbow, columns left and right supporting a shallow segmental arch. Between the columns against the back wall kneel the children. - Lady Deane, erected by her son in 1634. Reclining effigy of her husband (her son?) rolled towards us with arms crossed. The figure is propped up on a folded-up mat. Behind him stands most impressive and ghostly the figure of the lady in her shroud. She looks up and raises one hand. In the coffered arch carved angels. The arch is broken open in the middle, and there a crown appears, and above the arch the Trinity. The monument rests on three short Ionic columns. It is the work of William Wright of Charing Cross, one of a series of such macabre monuments the most familiar of which is Nicholas Stone’s Donne in St Paul’s Cathedral. They are all of the 1630s; there was a decided fashion for them at that moment. 

Well worth visiting and Mee thought so too:

GREAT MAPLESTEAD. The Normans set its church on high, and its cottages run down toward the River Colne. Some of them are 15th and 16th century, the gable-fronted Warden’s House, home of the chaplain to a Diocesan House of Mercy, having a chapel of its own. Dynes Hall, a Queen Anne house with an Elizabethan wing, stands in 500 acres, and has a timbered and plastered dovecot with a gabled roof.

The tower stands on its Norman base, with Norman windows below and 13th century windows in the belfry. Its brickwork is 17th century, the time when the arch was built into the nave. The body of the church is wider than it is long. The choir is 700 years old, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the English builders for not pulling down the little Norman apse with its entrance arch and its three Norman windows. The apse is very tiny, being only six feet wide. It is probable that a stone fragment we found on a windowsill is older still, for it may be Saxon. The font is 14th century.

There are two interesting windows and two remarkable tombs. The small east window has a figure of Christ risen, with a Roman soldier sleeping, and a window given by the village children shows the hermit St Giles holding a wounded fawn, the hunter kneeling in front of him while a red-cloaked man holds his horse. The tombs are both 17th century. On one lies Sir John Deane in armour, with his feet against the muzzled head of a bear, his wife with four daughters and two sons about him on a shelf. On the other tomb is Sir Drue Deane, lying like Sir John, with his mother standing on a pedestal in a loose shroud as if blessing the son at her feet. 

Flickr set.

No comments:

Post a Comment