584/10/125 HYTHE HILL
Former Church of St Leonard at the Hythe
(Formerly listed as:
Church of St Leonard at the Hythe)
C12 in origin. Chancel, north arcade and north aisle c1330. W tower late C14. Chancel arch, south arcade, south aisle, clerestory and south porch late C15 and early C16. Extensively restored in the C19 and C20.
MATERIALS: Mixed rubble, including septaria, flint, pebbles, brick and freestone. Limestone dressings, leaded and tiled roofs.
PLAN: Nave with north and south aisles, chancel with north and south chancel chapels and north-east vestry. West tower. South porch.
EXTERIOR: A small and attractive church, largely in a late medieval style. The chancel has a heavily restored C15 east window vertical tracery, and a restored C14 window in its south wall; there is a similar window in the north wall above the vestry. The north-east vestry has an early C16 north window and a C19 east door. The south aisle and south chancel chapel are continuous, and have an embattled parapet and heavily restored early C16 windows. The south chapel door is early C16 in origin, but has been heavily restored. The north chapel and aisle have similar windows, but the north aisle door is C14 as is the north aisle west window. The nave clerestory has early C16 two-light windows in square frames, all heavily restored. There is no nave parapet. The embattled, two-storied south porch is late C15 in origin, but was entirely rebuilt in the C19, and has windows in square frames. The south doorway is late C15 and has a pointed head in a square frame with carved spandrels; the south door is also C15. The lower parts of the three stage west tower are late C14, the upper part was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1884. The west window has been heavily restored, and the blocked west door below it is probably C14 in origin. The bell openings have hexagonal, reticulated tracery, and the restored, embattled parapet is done in flint flushwork.
INTERIOR: The chancel arch is late C15. It is four-centred and has a continuous outer order and an inner order on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The sides of the arch are badly distorted. The two-bay north and south chancel arcades are c1500 and have four-centred arches with a continuous outer order and an inner order on a central, quatrefoil pier. There is an early C16 squint from the south chapel into the chancel. The C14 former chancel north door now forms the entrance to the vestry. The nave arcades are of four bays. That on the north is early C14, and has moulded, pointed arches on quatrefoil piers with attached, half-round shafts and moulded capitals and bases. The south arcade was built or rebuilt in the later C15, and has four-centred arches on quatrefoil piers with half round shafts that have been partially rebuilt. The arches from the aisles into the chancel chapels are early C16 and have continuous outer orders and inner orders on shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The tower arch is late C14 and has a continuous outer order and an inner order on polygonal shafts. The doors survive for what was clearly a very large and elaborate rood screen stretching the whole width of the church, including upper and lower doors in the north-west corner of the north chapel and another in the south-west corner of the north chapel at high level. The nave has a hammerbeam roof of c1500. The north aisle and north and south chapel roofs are early C16.
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The church retains a High Church interior. Piscinas of c1500 in the chancel and south chapel. C15 south door and early C16 door to vestry. Octagonal C15 font originally in East Donyland church, brought to St Leonards in 1840. Good choir stalls with poppyheads of 1849 by Henry Ringmer. The chancel and chapel screens, and the rood, are early C20, but incorporate some late C15 or early C16 screenwork. Late C19 or early C20 stone pulpit, and early C20 painted and stencilled reredos in south chapel. Good early C20 stained glass by Heaton, Butler and Bayne. Wall paintings of 1901 over the chancel arch; the decorative scheme formerly extended along the nave walls above the arcades, and medieval wall paintings are said to have been discovered, then painted over, in the chancel in the 1860s. Monument to William Hawkins, d.1812, by George Lufkin. There are also a few ledger slabs.
HISTORY: There was a church here by the mid-C12, but the present building is largely the product of successive rebuildings and additions of the C14, C15 and early C16. The chancel was rebuilt, and north arcade and north aisle added or rebuilt, c1330-40. north-east vestry is contemporary or slightly later. West tower is late C14. South arcade, south aisle and south porch are C15. The chancel was remodelled c1500, when the chancel arch was rebuilt, and the north and south chancel chapels built or rebuilt, possibly as a single project as the work is quite consistent throughout. The clerestory was also added c1500. Rood stair rebuilt c1530. The church was damaged during the Civil War and repaired in 1662. There was further work in the C18 and early C19, including rebuilding the top of the tower in brick in 1788. The church suffers from structural problems and was extensively repaired in the C19, including in 1839 and 1848, when the chancel roof was redone. H W Hayward partially restored the church in 1863, and there was further work by W A Moy in 1865-6, including opening up the tower arch, which had been blocked. The upper part of the tower was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1888, and the church was partially refurnished in the early C20. It closed in 1983 and is now cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust. Purcell, Miller, Triton carried out repairs for the CCT in the late C20.
Bettley, J and Pevsner, N, Buildings of England Essex, (2007) 267
RCHME Essex III, (1922) 44-6
VCH Essex IX, (1994)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
The former Church of St Leonard at the Hythe, Hythe Hill, Colchester, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Much good quality work of the C14 and late C15/early C16, retaining medieval fittings
* Good hammerbeam roof of c1500 in the nave
* Extensively restored in the C19, when a number of good fittings were introduced