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Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene, Wethersfield

Description: Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene

Grade: I
Date Listed: 21 December 1967
English Heritage Building ID: 115693

OS Grid Reference: TL7122131250
OS Grid Coordinates: 571221, 231250
Latitude/Longitude: 51.9534, 0.4902

Location: 4 High Street, Wethersfield, Essex CM7 4BY

Locality: Wethersfield
Local Authority: Braintree District Council
County: Essex
Country: England
Postcode: CM7 4BY

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Listing Text

(south side)

5/181 Parish Church of St.
21.12.67 Mary Magdalene


Parish church. Mainly C12 to early C15, altered in C18, restored in C19. Flint
and pebble rubble with dressings of limestone and clunch, roofed with handmade
red clay tiles and lead. The earliest part is the NW corner of the Nave,
possibly pre-Conquest. W tower, late C12. S arcade early C13. N aisle, N
arcade, and W end of S aisle, early C14. Chancel mid-C14. S aisle, S porch and
part of N porch, early C15. Clerestorey late C15/early C16. Organ chamber,
vestry and restoration 1874. The Chancel has the axis deflected to the N. The
C14 E window is of 3 trefoiled ogee lights with net tracery under a 2-centred
head, restored. External string course at sill height, and a moulded internal
string course. In the N wall are 2 windows of c.1340, restored, each of 2
cinquefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a 2-centred head. Below the eastern
window is a tomb recess with low segmental-pointed and chamfered arch having a
moulded label with foliate stops, C14. Between the windows is a doorway of
c.1340 with jambs and 2-centred arch of 2 moulded orders. The N and S walls
each have 4 bays of plain wall-arcading, with jambs and 2-centred arches of 2
chamfered orders and seats, C14. In the S wall is a window similar to those in
the N wall, with replaced mullion. Further W a C19 doorway has been cut through
a bay of the arcading into the vestry and further W is a C19 arch into the organ
chamber. The chancel-arch is C13, altered in the C14, 2-centred and chamfered.
On the W face of the arch the chamfers stop approx. 0.75 metre above the moulded
imposts, possibly for a former rood-loft; the responds have trefoiled and
cinquefoiled stops below the imposts, and broach stops at the base. The E
window of the C19 vestry has been moved from the S wall of the Chancel, similar
to those in the N wall but continued below a transom to form a 'low-side'
window. 2 sedilia with chamfered jambs and 2-centred heads, C14, form a
continuous range with the S arcading. The Nave has a N arcade of 4 bays,
c.1310, except the easternmost bay, which is wider than the rest, rebuilt in the
C15; the 2-centred arches are of 2 chamfered orders, and the octagonal columns
have moulded capitals and bases and square plinths; the E respond has a moulded
corbel supported on a corbel carved as a woman's head, the face replaced by an
incised flower; the W respond also has a defaced head-corbel. The early C13 S
arcade is of 4 bays; the easternmost bay is narrower than the rest, rebuilt in
the C14; the 2-centred arches are of 2 chamfered orders; the round columns have
moulded capitals and bases and square plinths. The inner order of the E arch
springs from a moulded and foliated corbel with a carved head below, defaced;
the W respond has a moulded tapering corbel finished with a carved knot. The
clerestorey is late C15/early C16, built in red brick which has been repaired in
the C18, plastered internally, with crenellated parapets. The 4 N and 4 S
windows are each of 2 cinquefoiled lights under a square head, with moulded
jambs and rear-arches. The late C15/early C16 roof of the nave is in 4 bays,
low-pitched, with cambered tiebeams supported on wall-pieces and wooden corbels
with arched braces, with intermediate tiebeams above the clerestorey windows,
ridge-piece and butt-purlins, all moulded, with plain rafters of horizontal
section. The N aisle has an external string course and crenellated parapet. In
the E wall is a late C14 window of 3 cinquefoiled lights and quatrefoiled
tracery under a square head with a 4-centred outer order which has a moulded
label; the jambs and mullions are moulded; there is an original or early wrought
iron grill. In the N wall are 2 restored windows similar to that in the E wall;
the internal sill of the eastern window has been lowered to form a seat. Further
W is the C14 N doorway with jambs and 2-centred head of 2 chamfered orders, and
a moulded label with a defaced headstop. The W jamb is considerably decayed,
and the E jamb has been repaired with brick. The door leaf is original, of
V-edged wedge-shaped planks moulded on the thick edge, on a rivetted portcullis
frame, with strap hinges incised with a herringbone design. The roof of the N
aisle is original, of plain rafters of horizontal section. The S aisle has a
moulded external string course and crenellated parapet. The E window is similar
to that of the N aisle, restored. In the S wall are 2 windows similar to those
in the N aisle, restored. Further W is the C15 S doorway, with moulded jambs
and 2-centred arch in a square head, each spandrel with a blank shield in a
quatrefoil, and a moulded label with defaced headstops, all much decayed. The S
door leaf is original, similar to the N but additionally having a pierced iron
scutcheon-plate and square spindle. In the W wall is a window similar to those
in the S wall but with a square rear arch. In the SE corner of the aisle is a
damaged niche, the canopy and bracket broken off. The roof is mainly C19. The
late C12 W tower is of one stage with a SW stair turret inside. The doorway to
it has C12 jambs and a timber lintel with 3-centred arch. The door leaf is of
plain boards with one incomplete C-hinge, probably original. The doorway and W
window are C20, with C12 internal splays and semi-circular rear-arch. The N and
S walls each have in the lower part a small C12 window with a pointed head and
semi-circular rear-arch. The N, S and W walls each have in the upper part a C12
window of 2 small lancet lights divided by a chamfered square mullion with
moulded capital and plain base; the capital of the W window is foliated, with a
defaced head above it. In the middle of the tower a jowled samson post,
chamfered with step stops, stands upon a timber sill and supports the main floor
beams, with straight braces of square section; this and the floor are late C13.
The pyramidal base of the spire, which forms the bell-chamber, is a timber
structure of the late C13, supported on 3 main beams with wall-pieces and curved
braces, with multiple diagonal bracing (C.A. Hewett, Church Carpentry, a Study
based on Essex examples, 1982, 64-6 and 74-5). Upper part of spire not
examined. The N porch, rebuilt in the C18 from a C15 original in stone, is of
red brick in English bond with limestone dressings, plastered internally. It
has a moulded external string course, crenellated parapet, and 2-centred outer
arch with a keystone dated 1750. There are 2 lancets in each side wall with
4-centred rear-arches, the jambs carried down to form stone seats. The roof is
C15, shallow-pitched, with moulded ridge-piece and principal rafters, and plain
rafters of horizontal section, restored. There are carved wooden heads at each
end, immediately below the ridge-piece. The S porch has a C15 outer entrance,
much defaced, with plastered brick at the base of the jambs. The W wall has a
plain arched window of red brick. The E wall has a square recess containing the
disused font, the upper part of the wall extensively repaired in red brick in
English bond, with a crenellated parapet, C18. A plain coffin lid of Purbeck
marble forms the threshold. The roof is similar to that of the N porch but not
altered, and with only one wooden head at the inner end. Fittings. There are 6
bells, the sixth by Miles Graye, 1623. The font in the S porch has a plain
hexagonal bowl, buttressed and panelled stem and moulded base, C15. There are
fragments of C14 and C15 glass, re-set in the N window of the Chancel, the E and
SE windows of the S aisle and the NE window of the N aisle. This last has also
early C16 glass, mostly shields of arms. In the Chancel is an altar tomb with
alabaster effigies of a man in plate armour with tabard, head on helm, and feet
on a defaced unicorn, probably Henry Wentworth, 1482; and of a woman with
pedimental head-dress, elaborate necklace of roses, and long cloak, with feet on
damaged beast, probably Elizabeth (Howard), his first wife. There are traces of
original colour and gilding; both figures are defaced. The tomb has cusped
panelled ends and S side with painted shields of arms. On the N wall is a
tablet of stone and slate to Joseph Youngman, alias Clerk, 1681-2, with curved
pediment and achievement of arms. There are floor-slabs to Mark Mott, 1691, and
Mark his father, 1694; to Simon Delboe, 1685, with shield of arms; to Barbara,
the widow of Mark Mott, 1730, with crest; and to Mercy Mott, 1752, and Dorothy
Mott, 1776. There are 3 piscinae: (1) in the Chancel, double, with chamfered
jambs, round shaft having a moulded capital and base, 2 trefoiled ogee heads
with a quatrefoil under a 2-centred arch, with one octofoiled square drain and
one sexfoiled circular drain, C14, in range with the sedilia and arcading, (2)
in the E wall of the N aisle, with trefoiled head, C14, restored, drain missing,
and (3) in the S aisle, with moulded jambs and 2-centred head having panelled
spandrels, late C14. The C15 Chancel screen is of 11 bays, the 3 middle bays
forming the doorway, all with traceried heads, and divided by moulded mullions
having attached shafts with moulded capitals in the side bays, foliated
cresting, a moulded middle rail and close lower panels, with minor restoration.

Listing NGR: TL7122131250

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.