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Description: Parish Church of Great St Mary's
Date Listed: 6 June 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 160758
OS Grid Reference: TL4850014822
OS Grid Coordinates: 548500, 214822
Latitude/Longitude: 51.8123, 0.1528
Explore more of the area around Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire at Explore Britain.
Parish Church of
Great St Mary's
TL 4849 1481:3/61 6.6.52
C13, C14 and C15 with C19 restorations notably by G E Pritchett (1824-1912)
in 1856-59. Medieval parish church now C of E. Built of flint rubble with
flint facing, stone quoins and dressings, smooth render to chancel and C16
red brick stair turret to tower. Lead roofs generally but N aisle
re-covered in copper in 1951. Chancel, nave and lower part of W tower C13.
N and S aisles and SE chapel early C14. Clerestory, raised nave roof, S
porch and upper part of tower C15. Large square tower of 3 stages with
crenellated moulded parapet surmounted by octagonal Hertfordshire Spike,
its raised lead ribs forming a lozenge diaper pattern below a ball and
slender wind vane. String courses at each stage with polygonal C16 brick
stair on S side with crenellated top rising only to 2nd stage. C14 W
doorway, C15 Perpendicular 3 light window over. C13 lancet in N and S
walls of 2nd stage. C15,2-light windows with Y-tracery to 3rd stage with
belfry louvres and clock dial on W face below cill. Plain parapets and
buttresses elsewhere on church. N wall of chancel has blocked C15 door and
RCHM (1911) 203 records 2 centred arch in S wall c.1300. C13 chancel arch.
5 light E window, 1 window in N wall and 2 in S wall. SE chapel has E
window, blocked C14 window on S and rood stair in NW corner. Nave has
3-bay C14 arcades of 2-centred arches on quatrefoil pillars with moulded
caps and bases. Upper door to rood loft to S of chancel arch. Narrower
N aisle is C14 but probably some 20 years earlier than S aisle. 3-light
windows to E and W ends and 2,2-light windows on N,all with rear arches and
moulded jambs. C14 N doorway. Piscina by altar. Wider S aisle has 2 S
windows and C14 doorway with traceried medieval S door with decorative
ironwork. C14 tower arch. Chancel oak ceiling put up in 1872. Beams
inscribed '1662. Thomas Russel repaired this chancel' and 'W Sharpe 1884'.
Nave roof is C15 with moulded members, traceried spandrels and stone corbels.
Both C15 aisle roofs have mouldings and carved bosses. The easternmost
stone corbels in the S aisle have symbols of the Evangelists. Plaster
removed from between the ribs of the aisle roofs in 1951. C15 timber roof
to S porch. Octagonal font c.1400 with panelled stem and quatrefoil panels
around bowl. C15 oak chancel screen of 3 bays traceried above and panelled
below. Panelled oak pulpit in Jacobean style inscribed 'Christe is all in
all. 1652'. Oak poor box with 3 locks c.1600. C17 large oak parish chest
with 5 locks. Several early C16 bench ends. There are a great many
funeral brasses and sculptured monuments of the very highest quality.
According to Mrs Esdaile 'The Church in fact is a museum of English
sculpture by great artists'. This is corroborated by Pevsner who also
notes the C18 gravestones in the churchyard. The church is of special
interest as a substantially unaltered large medieval parish church, typical
of the Hertfordshire type, and with an outstanding collection of memorials
of the highest artistic quality. (RCHM (1911) 202-3: VCH III (1912) 344-6:
Pevsner 2nd Ed Rev (1977) 233-5: WEA II (1967) 37-46: Church Guide (1975)).
Listing NGR: TL4850014822
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.