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Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fairstead

Description: Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin

Grade: I
Date Listed: 21 December 1967
English Heritage Building ID: 115361

OS Grid Reference: TL7678516689
OS Grid Coordinates: 576785, 216689
Latitude/Longitude: 51.8209, 0.5637

Locality: Fairstead
Local Authority: Braintree District Council
County: Essex
Country: England
Postcode: CM3 2AU

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Listing Text

(south side)

2/8 Parish Church of St.
21.12.67 Mary the Virgin


Parish church. Late C11, extended in early C13, restored in C19. Flint and
pebble rubble, with dressings of limestone, clunch and brick, partly Roman,
roofed with handmade red clay tiles. Nave and western half of Chancel late C11,
W tower c.1200, eastern half of chancel c.1230, N porch C15. The Chancel has
Roman brick quoins approx. 3.5 metres from the W end which indicate its original
termination. The quoins of the eastern extension are of limestone, chamfered
with step and roll stops. In the E wall are 3 C13 lancet windows with rear
arches chamfered on the inside and outside; the middle window is set high, above
an internal recess with trefoiled head and modern reredos. In the N wall are 3
C13 lancets with shallow 2-centred rear-arches, chamfered on the inside. In the
S wall are 3 similar windows, much restored; further W is a C13 'low-side'
window with 2-centred head, much restored. Between the 2 eastern windows is a
blocked C19 doorway, and between the 2 western windows is a blocked C16 doorway
with jambs and 2-centered arch of brick. The Cll chancel arch has square
plastered responds with chamfered imposts at the E angles, and a semi-circular
arch, of which the voussoirs of Roman brick have been exposed on the E face.
The roof of the Chancel is 7-canted, boarded internally in the C19; a high
collar in the gable, 2 pairs of projecting sole-pieces, profiled sprockets and
weathered plain bargeboards indicate that it is medieval in structure, probably
C13. The Nave has quoins of Roman brick, with a C17 brick buttress at the SW
corner, and a C20 brick buttress/stack near it. In the N wall are 2 windows;
the eastern is C19 except for C15 splays and segmental rear arch; the western
window is of c.l100, of one light with plastered jambs and semi-circular head,
enclosed by the N porch. The N doorway is C14, with jambs of 2 chamfered orders
and a 2-centred arch of 2 hollow-chamfered orders with a modern wooden frame and
door. The NE corner of the Nave is cut back to form a reredos, with remains of
an ornamental ribbed vault and bosses in moulded plaster, late C15/early C16.
Near the E end of the S wall is a rood-stair within the rubble wall, with early
C16 brickwork projecting on the outside; the lower doorway has jambs and
4-centred arch of brick; the upper doorway is blocked, plastered and painted
over (see paintings). Further W are 2 windows uniform with those in the N wall,
and the early C13 S doorway, with chamfered jambs and 2-centred arch with a
moulded label, and a plain boarded door, blocked on the inside, set below a
semi-circular arch of Roman brick, c.llOO. The roof of the Nave has 3 original
cambered tiebeams, chamfered with square stops, and 3 more at a higher level, of
which the middle one is a modern replacement; it is 7-canted, plastered to the
soffit, with C19 carved wallplates. The W tower, c.1200, is of 3 stages divided
by string courses of Coggeshall brick, with a single clasping buttress at the SW
corner to the first stage only. The quoins are of Roman and Coggeshall brick.
It is surmounted by an octagonal broach spire of timber clad with shingles. The
tower-arch has square responds and a semi-circular arch, all plastered, with a
plastered bulls-eye window above. In the second stage of the N, S and W walls
there is an early C13 lancet window with jambs and head of Coggeshall brick and
timber lintels inside. The bell-chamber has in the N, S and W walls a C13 lancet
with Coggeshall brick jambs and C17/C18 brick heads, except the S window, which
has a stone head. (P.J. Drury, The Production of Brick and Tile in Medieval
England, C.B.A. Report 40, Medieval Industry (ed. D.W. Crossley), 1983, 126-7).
The early C13 W doorway, restored, has a 2-centred arch of 2 chamfered orders;
the outer order of each jamb has a C19 detached shaft with heavily weathered
foliated capital. There is an original floor of plain horizontal joists on 2
beams, with a framed bell-trap. Spire not examined, but reported by RCHM to be
c.1600. The N porch is C15, restored, timber framed in 2 bays. The outer
archway is 4-centred, with moulded shafts, and a square outer head, rebated with
unusual converging step stops, flanked by rectangular windows. The E and W
walls have plain openings in the N bay with diamond mortices for unglazed
windows. The S bay is panelled with old boards, but also has diamond mortices.
The roof is of simple collar-rafter construction, with gauging holes in the
rafters. Paintings. There are 6 consecration crosses in red paint, 2 Latin and
one formy, the latter scribed in the plaster, on each of the N and S walls.
There are C13 paintings above the Chancel arch in 4 tiers; at the top, a man on
an ass with a tree, probably Balaam; below, scenes from the Passion, including
the Last Supper; below, probably a Doom; and in the fourth tier a row of
figures, of which only 2 are now distinct. On the S wall, in the blocked upper
doorway of the rood-stair, a black letter injunction to pray for King James I
and the royal family, with traces of a border, and near the W end, a head of a
man with cap, C13/C14. On the W wall, N of the tower arch, is an illegible
inscription in an ornamental frame, early C17. Fittings. There are 4 bells,
the third C14 inscribed 'Vocor Johanes' and the founders name, Peter de Weston,
and the fourth by Richard Bowler, 1601. The font is C18, with a round marble
bowl on a tapering column and octagonal base of limestone. On the S wall of the
Chancel there are slate tablets to Joshua Blower the elder, 1694, rector of the
parish, and to Elizabeth (Oliver), second wife of Joshua Blower, 1656. In the
Chancel is a piscina of c.1240, with double hollow-chamfered jambs and segmental
head with mask stops, the round basin cut back, and 2 sedilia with chamfered
jambs and 2-centred head with moulded labels and imposts, 2 mask stops and a
floriate stop, the middle pier finished with an octagonal shaft having a moulded
base and resting on a bracket with mask-stop corbel, c.1240. There are 14 early
C16 benches with moulded top rails and panelled ends, mostly linenfold, 2 with
panelled backs, the other backs plain, and one similar panelled front.

Listing NGR: TL7678516689

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.