Thursday, 21 October 2010

Lindsell, Essex

St Mary stands in the middle of the parish, and is completely surrounded by the buildings and land of Lindsell Hall, whose trees make a pleasant background showing the church in its full beauty. It is one of the nicest locations I have visited to date. The church is built of flint and pebble rubble, the tower being partly brick and the dressings of limestone and clunch. The roof is covered with lead, slate and tiles. The fourteenth-century south doorway, simply moulded, is obscured by a modern porch.Inside the church the natural beauty of the proportions is enhanced by the smallness of the building.

The chancel (14 ft x 19 ft) forms a picture of beauty framed by the flattened semi-circular arch, which dates from the mid-twelfth century and may be even earlier. The thirteenth-century east window contains fragments of ancient and beautiful glass, rearranged in 1926 by Archibald Nicholson for Miss Valentine Fane. In the lower part of the two side lights are two panels with half-length figures kneeling in prayer, each with his wife. The persons represented are William Fytch and his wife Elizabeth, and their son Thomas and his wife Agnes. The latter pair are also commemorated by the brass before the Chancel Arch.

In the north wall of the chancel is a small opening (13 x 9 inches), discovered when the chancel was being repaired in 1926. This formed the opening through which a recluse or anchorite who had built a rough cell against the outside wall looked into church and received the Sacrament. The cell dates from the twelfth century.

The fifteenth-century font is octagonal, with mouldings and panels. The squint in the chancel wall was built in the fifteenth century and rebuilt two hundred years later. It provided a view of the altar and the consecration and elevation of the Host for those in the south aisle or gathered in the doorway.

On the floor before the chancel arch is a well engraved and perfectly preserved brass of the Fytch family inscribed:

“Here lie Thomas Ffytch and Agnes his wife which same Thomas died the 21st day of April in the year of our Lord 1514. On whose souls may God have mercy.”

Thomas and Agnes Fytch are dressed in the fur-trimmed clothes of a person of substance. With them are their six sons and five daughters. They were connected with the Fitches of Widdington and Little Canfield. Thomas was the son of William Fitch, and married the only daughter and heiress of Robert Algar, of Brazen Head, where the family continued to live for some centuries. They were of good standing, well connected with other families and, some of them were knighted.

ST MARY THE VIRGIN. A charming approach through the yard of Lindsell Hall, a house with two symmetrical gables to the E, both with over-sailing upper storeys. The church is small and compact, and of an unusual colour, because it is of pebble rubble with red brick dressings. The tower moreover is in an unusual position, at the SW end. It is of the late C16, stone, with a diagonal buttress and battlements. The nave reveals a Norman building. The arch towards the chancel is round-headed on the simplest imposts. Large pointed squinch-arch S of it. S aisle of two bays, E of the tower, with a quatrefoil pier and two quadrant mouldings in the arches, i.e. early C14. The later tower cuts into the arcade. In 1927 traces of an ANCHORAGE were discovered N of the chancel N wall with a small hatch into the chancel as its only opening. - FONT. C15, octagonal, with quatrefoils and shields. - STAINED GLASS. In the E window well arranged fragments of the C13 to C16; specially noteworthy two small C13 figures of Saints. - PLATE. Cup and small Paten on foot of 1632. - BRASS. Thomas Fytche d. 1514 and wife; the length of the figures is 16 in. 

Mee says:

LINDSELL. An out-of-the-way place in beautiful country near Dunmow, it has a church of many centuries hidden among trees and barns, its oldest feature a Norman chancel arch, and it’s most curious a Tudor tower built as an extension of the aisle. The chancel has 13th century windows used again by 18th century rebuilders, and there is a tiny 700-year-old doorway for the priest, with a mass dial to tell him the time. Just as old are the remains of a saintly figure in glass in the east window, which also has medieval pictures of men and women at prayer, a Madonna and Child with an archbishop, and the arms of Walden Abbey. There are a few old tiles with an eagle among their designs, a panelled 15th century font, a medieval dug-out chest, and a peephole with a carving above it of a solemn man with curly hair. He was probably one of the supports of the roodbeam. Thomas Fytche of 1514 is here in his fur-trimmed cloak, with his wife, six sons, and Eve daughters, all on brass.

Flickr set.

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