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in old time only a free chapel, for as such Sir Maurice de Bruin presented to it, A.D. 1326; but in the next vacancy, in 1328, the same Sir Maurice presented the same person to it as a rectory, so it has continued ever since." Morant and Salmon, in their Histories of Essex, state that a church existed earlier than this, but they do not state their authorities; but such undoubtedly was the case, as the style of architecture amply proves.
The church, prior to its restoration, consisted of a chancel, north chapel, nave, north aisle, porch, and west round tower; the predominant style of architecture of the church is that known as " Early Pointed", and bably is of the latter end of the twelfth century. The proportion of the nave on plan is similar to that of a Norman church, and I should not be at all surprised to find that, if ever the foundations were uncovered, the remains of a Norman church would be found; besides, the west wall of the nave, where it abuts on to the tower, is abnormally thick, much thicker in fact than the walls of the north aisle, the set-off being on the outside, the quoin of which is formed of Barnack stone.
The main entrance into the church is through a door in the wall of the north aisle. The doorway is so beautiful, that I should like to draw your attention to it. Buckler pronounced it to be "a choice specimen of Norman detail, though not even alluded to by the county historians"; he further adds: "though small compared with many examples of Norman doorways, the variety and combination of the ornaments around the arch are remarkable, and produce an effect rarely to be met with." It is to my mind the richest and most superb piece of Norman work in Essex; and I am glad to report that it is in a fairly good state of repair, it having by some means or another escaped mutilation at the restoration. This doorway certainly has the appearance of being of a much earlier date than the existing north aisle and nave. For an illustration of the doorway see Britton's Antiquities, and for a detailed description see Buckler's Churches of Essex.
The church contains a very fine stately Elizabethan monument, to the memory of Sir Richard Saltenstall, knight, and his wife, erected in 1601; it is composed of
variegated marble, and highly emblazoned. I am glad to say this has not been restored, but nevertheless it is in rather a dilapidated condition. There are also the remains of some very fine brasses, among which is a brass to Ingelram Bruyor, or Bruin, knight, lord of the village, and patron of this church; he died 12th Aug. 1400. This brass, or what remains of it, is one of the finest specimens in Essex of a warrior in plate armour. In 1856 this brass was in a fairly perfect condition, being only minus its head; a few years ago, however, it was pulled out of its Purbeck slab to make room for a second-hand or
gan. It is now, with all its rich canopies, etc., built into the rubble walling of the chapel, where it has been shamefully treated, nails having been driven right through the brass for the purpose of attaching it to the walls; other brasses have been similarly treated.
I have drawn the attention of the Society for Preserving Memorials of the Dead to the condition of these monuments, and I venture to think if a small sum of money were judiciously laid out, it would be the means of preserving for many years these interesting artistic relics of the past.
Hou. -Glass Stand,
I should like to record the fact that this little wroughtiron hour-glass stand (see sketch) was found on a heap of rubbish in the churchyard after the restoration, by Mr. W. Springham, a blacksmith in the parish, who has faithfully repaired it, and again placed it on the pulpit.
With reference to the restoration of this church I am inclined to think that had it been placed in the hands of the village tradesmen, such as the blacksmith, mason, and bricklayer, there is a probability that it would have been restored more in character with the then existing fabric than it is, for the reason that not being architects it is probable they would not have been acquainted with any other style than that already existing in their church, therefore it is not unreasonable to suppose they would have done their best to copy the old work.
The Tower.-Very little of the original work of South
Ockendon round church tower remains to be seen at the present day, either internally or externally; it has, in common with other parts of the church, been shamefully restored away. The tower originally was built of rough rubble masonry, the face work of which has been entirely pulled down and refaced, in what one might call nineteenth century flint work; original windows and openings have been blocked up, pulled down, rebuilt, and otherwise disfigured to such an extent that it would have been impossible to tell to what period any part of the tower belonged had it not been previously recorded by Buckler in his valuable and interesting work on South Ockenden Church; valuable as it is, containing as it does a description of this church and tower prior to its last complete mutilation. And last, but not least, in connection with this so-called restoration, the upper part of the tower has been entirely rebuilt, the design totally differing from that of the original building, the summit being now embattled with stone, and pierced with large circular-headed windows, having massive stone mullions. The tower has now the appearance of being out of proportion, and much too high for its diameter, the restored style being unmistakably nineteenth century work.
The tower, like those before described, is situated at the west end of the nave, and is joined on to the nave walling; the centre line of the nave passes through the tower, as shown on the plan. On plan the tower is round, although slightly irregular, and, like the Essex towers before described, is a little flat on the east face, where it is joined on to the nave. Like Great Leghs it has two entrances, one being on the west face, and the other on the east. That on the east is open to the nave, and consists of a very fine early pointed stone tower arch of noble proportions, and coeval with the arches forming the arcade dividing the north aisle from the nave. The arch is massive, with two chamfered reveals; the outer reveal is carried down to the floor, while the inner reveal rests upon large bold semicircular stone columns, 2 ft. in diameter, with deeply sunk moulded capitals and bases. The height from the floor of the nave to the soffit of this arch being 13 ft., and the width of the opening between the semicircular columns is 8 ft. 6 in. The entrance on the
west face is through a very slightly pointed opening, so slight in fact as to be nearly semicircular, and is said by Buckler to be "Early Perpendicular". This door or entrance, like Great Leghs, is undoubtedly an innovation; Great Leghs being the only other round tower of Essex having a western entrance. The width of this opening on the outside, between the stone quoins, is 3 ft. 10 in., and 4 ft. 4 in. in the inside between the reveals. The existing height of the tower as restored is about 56 ft. from the floor in the inside to the top of the stone embattlement. At the time Buckler wrote his description of the church, he states that the tower, in its decapitated condition, is 37 ft. in height, and surmounted at summit with a conical tiled covering.
The original tower was probably intact up to 1638, when the upper part was struck with lightning and destroyed, the top of the tower at that time being surmounted with a wooden spire. In Buckler's book there is a sketch showing the condition of the tower in 1856, and judging from this, and the tower even in its restored condition, it certainly had originally a resemblance to those of Great Leghs and Broomfield, especially in the dimensions of the base and the position of the windows; its height when intact probably did not exceed 45 ft., which would be equal to about 2 diameters. The diameter of the tower internally varies from 13 ft. 9 in. to
14 ft., the rubble walls being about 4 ft. thick, consequently the external diameter is about 22 ft., therefore the height of the tower as restored is 23 diameters. The basement, or lower part of the tower, is covered over with plaster internally, so that no original rubble work can be seen, nor can any junction between nave and tower walling be seen, if any exists. Besides the two openings in the basement, or first storey, viz., the western entrance and the tower arch, there is a window immediately above the west entrance, which gives light to this storey. It still bears traces of an ancient window, being semicircular; it is 2 ft. wide, and about 4 ft. high to the soffit of the arch, and heavily splayed in the inside, being 3 ft. 6 in. to 3 ft. 9 in. wide. This window has undergone considerable alteration, the arch and quoins, both inside and out, baving been rebuilt of red modern bricks, and you can well imagine how they harmonise with the restored flint work, to say nothing of the old rubble work.
The tower internally, when intact, was undoubtedly divided into three storeys or floors, viz., the first, or basement storey; the second, or middle storey; and the third, the top or belfry storey, if any bells then existed. The basement storey is 17 ft. 6 in. in height, being divided from the second storey by a wood floor, which has been renewed, but appears to be in its original position. From this floor a small surface of the original rubble walling can be seen, the stones forming the rubble being nearly all rounded and water-worn, and not angular, and are laid in lime mortar, with some slight respect to courses. In the wall on the eastern side of the tower, and directly over the centre of the pointed tower arch, are two roughly turned stone semicircular arches, probably introduced to relieve the arch from the superincumbent weight of the superstructure. Whether they are coeval with the main structure of the tower it is difficult to say. They have also the appearance of assisting to gather over from the straight line of the nave wall into the circular walling of the tower, and are filled in with rubble work. The diameter of the tower on this floor is more regular, being 14 ft. in all directions. This storey receives light from two windows or openings (it originally had three), the distance from the floor to the sills being different in each