Remains of church and churchyard, 80m south east of The Ryes


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019664

Date first listed: 05-Jan-2001


Ordnance survey map of Remains of church and churchyard, 80m south east of The Ryes
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Braintree (District Authority)

Parish: Little Henny

National Grid Reference: TL 86098 38492


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.

The remains of the church and churchyard, 80m south east of The Ryes, will graphically illustrate the church's demise from a small medieval church with full parochial status to little more than a ruin by the 16th century, before destruction by fire in the late 16th or early 17th century. This early abandonment will have ensured that elements of the earliest church, dating from the 12th century, will have survived particularly well. Archaeological levels beneath the surviving fabric, and within the known area of churchyard to the east, will contain archaeological information relating to the rebuilding of the church in the 14th or 15th century, as well as environmental evidence for the landscape in which they were constructed.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the remains of the church of Little Henny, which lies on a ridge of high ground to the west of the Stour river valley. It is situated some 80m to the south east of an early 19th century house called The Ryes. The original manor house was sited to the east of the church close to the Rye river from which it takes its name; successive lords of the manor held the advowson of the church. The site of the manor house is not known for certain and it is therefore not included in the scheduling.

The monument includes a rectangular church with external dimensions of some 16.5m by 7m, the walls of which survive to a maximum height of 1m. Although apparently a single-celled structure, a projection of masonry at a point some 4.5m from the east end suggests that there was originally a dividing arch here which would have effectively created a small chancel some 2.5m long internally, with a nave some 11.5m long internally. The walls are exceptionally thick, averaging about 1m, and built of mortared flint rubble (with a few pieces of boulder and brown sandstone) and quoins of dressed Barnack stone and sandstone. The use of Barnack stone and the form of the west end buttresses suggest that the original church was built in the second half of the 12th century.

In the 14th or 15th century the church was reconstructed by cutting off its eastern portion with a new wall located just to the north of the chancel arch and the erection of new walls upon the old foundations around the remainder of the building. This created a slightly smaller church, some 12.5m by 7m internally, without a dividing arch. The final destruction of the church occurred in the late 16th or early 17th century, and excavation has shown this to have been by fire, as the entire floor level was covered by a layer of charcoal and at one point a charred rafter could be followed for some length.

Documentary sources record that the manor was held in 1234 by Gilbert Mauduit, and that it had passed before 1268 to John de Ry. In the early 18th century the church had long since been demolished and the parishioners had to use Great Henny Church, paying the minister and churchwardens of that parish three pounds per year for its use.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32439

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Morant, P, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, (1768), 274-5
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, (1922), 168
'Essex Fines' in Essex Fines, (), 111
Fairweather, F H, 'Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society' in The Ruined Parish Church of Little Henny, , Vol. Vol.XX, (1933), 33-40
Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Card TL83NE01, (1950)
Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Card TL83NE01, (1976)
Tyler, S, MPP Film , (2000)

End of official listing