Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Chignal St James, Essex

I realised just in time that St James is nowadays a private residence - it should have been blindingly obvious, of course, a quick Google shows that the church of St James was de-consecrated in the late 1980s and internally rebuilt as a house.

The church of St James was originally built in the late 13th or early 14th century, but the church of St Mary, a much older structure, had disappeared by 1360 and the parish of St Mary was shared between James and Smealey.

ST JAMES. Nave, chancel, and C19 bellcote. The church was so much restored in the C19 that little evidence of interest remains except a two-light early C16 brick window in the chancel. - PLATE. Cup of 1667.

St James

In Mee's day things were different of course: CHIGNAL ST JAMES. Fine wych elms cluster round its church, a simple building with walls thick enough to suggest that they were standing in Norman days; but older than anything else in the church are the Roman bricks picked up by the builders and worked into the walls. We come into the church by a 13th century doorway and find inside another doorway of much interest - that of the old roodstairs, which now lead to the pulpit. The oak arch of the doorway is carved in wood with the emblems of St James, a cockle shell and a fisherman’s creel. The roofs are a hundred years older, adorned with leaves and knots and stars; and in a window of the same age are modern figures of St Michael and St George in red and silver and gold. Half a mile away stands the hall with its projecting upper storey. On a wall-plate within it has the name of the man who built it in 1552, John Mason.

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