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Church of the Holy Innocents, Waltham Abbey

Description: Church of the Holy Innocents

Grade: II
Date Listed: 26 January 1956
English Heritage Building ID: 117632

OS Grid Reference: TQ4080997838
OS Grid Coordinates: 540809, 197838
Latitude/Longitude: 51.6617, 0.0344

Location: Manor Road, Waltham Abbey, Essex IG10 4AD

Locality: Waltham Abbey
Local Authority: Epping Forest District Council
County: Essex
Country: England
Postcode: IG10 4AD

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Explore more of the area around Waltham Abbey, Essex at Explore Britain.

Listing Text

830/6/17 AVEY LANE
Church of the Holy Innocents

(Formerly listed as:
Church of the Holy Innocents)

1872-3 by A W Blomfield. Later vestry.

MATERIALS: Rock-faced, snecked rubble with limestone dressing and limestone spire. Clay tile roofs

PLAN: Nave, lower, semi-circular apsed chancel. North and south transepts, north-west steeple, south porch, south-east vestry.

EXTERIOR: The church is a cruciform, Gothic Revival structure whose features derive mainly from Early English work of the C13. The steeple is based on types common in the East Midlands. It has angle buttresses that rise to very near to the top of the tower, and two-light belfry windows with plate tracery. The spire has short broaches and two tiers of lucarnes. The west front of the nave has a pair of tall lancet windows and, between and above them, an oculus filled with a series of cusped circles. The side windows of the nave are Geometrical, of two lights with cusped circles in their head. The apse of the chancel has a series of single lancet windows and also a corbel course of projecting blocks below the eaves.

INTERIOR: The interior walls are plastered and whitened. Round the east end of the chancel the windows have nook shafts with stiff-leaf foliage capitals: the heads of the windows are moulded. The windows in the nave are plainly treated. The arches to the transepts spring from corbels and short shafts and have depressed arch heads. The most striking feature is the steeply-pitched roof over the nave in which the main trusses have short hammerbeams with arch braces to a collar across which runs a longitudinal member which in turn carries thin collars between the common rafters. The chancel roof is boarded and the six ribs in the apse meet at a central point.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: Most of the fittings are original to the building of the church. The pews are largely complete and have L-shaped ends. The font is a circular Norman Revival design with blind arches round the bowl. This stands on a drum of grey granite surrounded by shafts of pink granite. The stone pulpit is polygonal and has a recessed quatrefoil on each face. The sanctuary has an attractive encaustic tile pavement with tiles in brown, green, white and other colours. The organ, at the west end, is by 'Father' Henry Willis and is very little altered: it is one of his smaller instruments and dates from 1878 (the gift of T C Baring). In the Lady chapel there is a window signed by Mayer and Co., c1897. The three east lancets are by James Powell and Sons, 1948, replacing glass lost in a bomb blast in 1945. The tower contains thirteen hemispherical bells cast in 1873 by the Whitechapel Foundry and forming a carillon.

HISTORY: The first church, St Paul's, not on the present site, was instigated by Captain Charles Sotheby who had succeeded as lord of the manor of Sewardstone in 1833. It was intended to serve what was a remote part of the parish of Waltham Abbey and was built in 1835-6 to designs by S M Hubert of Lambeth. Thirty years later this small brick building was considered unsuitable and moves began in 1869 to replace it. The prime mover was now Thomas Charles Baring, a director of Barings Brothers' Bank who had recently moved to Wallsgrove House and who took an interest in local affairs. He offered to pay for the church himself. Not surprisingly this was accepted and the new church was opened on 22 June 1873. The land for the church was given by Charles William Hamilton Sotheby, lord of the manor. Consecration did not take place until 18 August 1883: it became a parish church the following year and the old building was demolished in 1885.

The church was designed by one of the most active and successful church architects of the Gothic revival, Arthur William Blomfield (1829-99) who was the fourth son of Bishop Charles J Blomfield of London (bishop 1828-56). He was articled to P C Hardwick and began independent practice in 1856 in London. His early work is characterised by a strong muscular quality and the use of structural polychrome often with continental influences. He became diocesan architect to Winchester, hence a large number of church-building commissions throughout the diocese. He was also architect to the Bank of England from 1883. Blomfield was knighted in 1889 and was awarded the RIBA's Royal Gold Medal in 1891.

Bettley, J and Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Essex, (2007) 488-9
Haylett (rev. Harold Bodley), The Church of Holy Innocents, High Beach, (c2003)

The Church of the Holy Innocents, High Beech, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is a well-composed Early English Gothic Revival church by a well-known Victorian church architect and occupies a picturesque setting in Epping Forest
* Most of its fittings are intact and it also contains a little altered Henry Willis organ of 1878

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.