Thursday, 14 October 2010

Henham, Essex

St Mary the Virgin is pleasant enough but I didn't really enthuse about it - which is strange as it has all the elements that should add up to a great church. Perhaps it was the oversized tower hulking over the body of the church or the fairly Spartan interior that left me cold. Whatever it was, for me, the sum of it's parts do not add up to a fantastic total, which is a shame because the village is beautiful and I also shot my, to date, favourite tree picture here.

ST MARY THE VIRGIN. C13 chancel with some lancet windows and a plain S doorway. The rest mostly C14 (except for the embattled C15 S porch). C14 W tower with diagonal buttresses (also into the nave where a squinch is necessary to under-pin the buttress). Later brick battlements, and recessed lead ‘spike’ of Herts type. C14 arcades of four bays inside, with quatrefoil piers, moulded capitals, and double-chamfered arches. The S arcade is earlier. It has sturdier piers. At its E end an irregularity explained by the Royal Commission as follows. The original nave, about 1300, was enlarged by a S transept. To this belong the two semi-octagonal responds. The S aisle was added later and incorporates the earlier transept. The N arcade has a similar irregularity. A piece of the C13 nave was left standing at its E end. The capital of the middle pier has a delightful enrichment, a tiny carved demi-figure of the Virgin, very simply dressed with rather baroque folds and two censing angels l. and r. of her. Their style dates the arcade. It seems to me to be c. 1500. - SCREEN. Specially sumptuous, as Essex screens go, single-light divisions with ogee heads and elaborate panel tracery above. - PULPIT. C15 with two panels to each side of the hexagon and a buttress between them. - DESK with C17 plaited ornament and an acorn knob l. and r. of the desk top. - MONUMENT. Samuel Feake, 1790, by W. Vere of Stratford. Very purely neo-classical, with an urn against an obelisk. The urn on a base projecting triangularly - a design quite out of the ordinary run. 

Arthur is rather more complimentary but he's always objective in his reports:

HENHAM. With wide greens about its roads and pretty cottages with long gardens, it is a delightful place. One of the most charming of the thatched cottages stands by the churchyard, from which rises a handsome tower with a lead spire. The wide nave and the chancel of the church are l3th century, the 14th century built the tower and added the aisles, the 15th built the high chancel arch and the attractive porch. Tiny fragments of glass have been in the windows 500 years, one a shield with emblems of the Trinity; but the great attractions here are the old carvings in wood and stone. A beautiful bit of work on one of the capitals shows two angels censing the Madonna and Child, and on the same 14th century arcade are a leopard’s head and a dragon. From the 15th century come the fine font with richly carved shields in its panels, the high screen, a niche with traces of its ancient colouring, and, best of all, the oak pulpit with its little buttresses and pinnacles and traceried panels. The elaborately carved book-rest is 17th century. There is a monument to Samuel Feake, Governor of Fort William in the 18th century. It has a vase carved with an East Indiaman.

Mill Farm has kept and restored a windmill from the 17th century.

Flickr set.

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