Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Chignal Smealey, Essex

To my utter amazement I found St Nicholas open, given its size and location I assumed it would be locked, so you can imagine my delight to find the opposite! I couldn't find the light switches, I suspect they are in the vestry, and it was gone 2pm on a gloomy winter afternoon so the church was quite dark. It must be said St Nicholas is a brick built gem of a church.

The church building is mainly Tudor brickwork, with the exception of the North Aisle which is later in period. The font is unique, being also of Tudor brick and is believed to be one of only two in the country.  A detailed history is usually available in booklet form at the church but was sadly sold out when I visited.


The parish is currently priestless, and has been since 2002, and is currently run by the two Churchwardens to whom, I suppose, we owe large thank you for allowing the public access to their church.


ST NICHOLAS, Chignal Smealy. An all-brick church of the early C16. The brick is decorated with blue brick diapers. The view from the E is specially picturesque with three gables of different heights. The W tower is not tall. It has diagonal buttresses, battlements, and brick windows. Brick windows in nave and chancel as well. The E window is renewed; the N aisle was added in 1847. The two-bay arcade however is original and one of the rare cases of a complete brick arcade. Octagonal pier and four-centred arches. - FONT. Even the font is of brick, octagonal and quite undecorated, except for the moulding between stem and bowl. - SCREEN. Plain, one-light divisions with ogee arches. - PULPIT. Nice plain C17. - PLATE. Secular Cup of 1617 with chased bowl.


St Nicholas (2)

CHIGNAL SMEALEY. Brick Chignal it has been called, and not without reason, for we come here to admire the beautiful work of Tudor craftsmen who could make a church without stone. The whole structure is brick, even the 16th century font. The tower has pinnacles and a high parapet; the doors have been swinging on their hinges since the days of Shakespeare; the pulpit is a century younger, and the Tudor screen is carved with leaves and tiny roses. There are two piscinas of brick shaped and moulded like stone, and three brick niches enshrining tigures of Christ, a child, and a saint. The arcade and the aisle are of last century, and have not the rich warm glow of the Tudor brickwork. In two windows we see the oldest things in the village, oak leaves and foliage in glass 600 years old. Close to the church stands a 16th century house, still with an original fireplace.


Flickr set.


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