Thursday, 26 July 2012

Elmstead, Essex

SS Anne & Laurence - a rather odd looking church - was, sadly, locked. I say sadly because I had wanted to see the wooden effigy of a knight therein contained and the rather nice glass which I'd seen on Flickr. The rest of the interior looked rather plain.

An unusual feature are two scratch dials side by side to the west of the south door - something I've not seen before.

ST ANN AND ST LAURENCE. The N side should be examined first. It has a display of a doorway and some windows giving a complete chronology of the church, from the Norman doorway with Roman brick surround by way of the two-light windows with Y-tracery (c. 1300) in the chancel, to the C14 and early C15. The church is essentially C14. Tower over the porch not higher than the nave roof; W window like those in the chancel. The best architectural feature is the S chapel, again early C14. It has an arcade of two bays with a quatrefoil pier and an arch of two quadrant mouldings and in addition wall-shafts and wall-arches against the S wall. Contemporary Piscina on demi-shafts. Also early C14 the Sedilia and Piscina in the chancel. The cusped arches have hood-moulds resting on heads of exceptionally fine quality and gratifyingly unrestored. The E window unfortunately has been reduced in size, see the outside. It must originally have given the chancel great breadth and dignity. Unusual features in the church are the quatrefoil squint S of the chancel arch and the three ‘low side windows’, one in the chancel and two in the S chapel. They have recently been fitted with C14 bits of STAINED GLASS from the E window. - DOOR (behind the pulpit) with C12 iron-work. - COMMUNION RAILS with C18 balusters. - Box Pews early C19. - IRON CR0ss with highly scrolly decoration; it was a hat-rack originally; the date perhaps c. 1800. - PLATE. Elizabethan Cup with bands of ornament and Paten on foot. - MONUMENTS. Oak efligy of a cross legged Knight. His feet rest against a female figure. - BRASS. Two hands holding a heart inscribed Credo. Dated c. 1500 by Haines.

St Anne & St Laurence (3)

Mass dials

ELMSTEAD. It has old cottages where the roads from Harwich and Walton meet, inns that have seen many centuries go by, a timbered hall 400 years old, and a roughly built church enshrined in trees. Begun in the 14th century, the church has a chancel nearly as big as the nave, and an unfinished tower with red tiles peeping out oddly among the trees. Here are fine stone seats with a king and a bishop carved on them 600 years ago, and a tablet telling us that an old vicar buried his little son the year before the plague came to London. The epitaph tells us that as careful mothers put their babes to sleep when they would play the wanton too long, so Nature put this little one to bed betimes to save his youth from harm. The chief possession of Elmstead is an old wooden figure, one of very few in Essex, showing a cross-legged knight with his feet on a woman, a strange piece of carving thought to be a memorial of Lawrence de Tony, who died about 1310. There are only a small number of these wooden figures in all England, probably a hundred.

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