BURNHAM ON CROUCH
715/2/1 SOUTHMINSTER ROAD
10-NOV-51 CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN
C14, C15, C16; restored 1775 and 1870's (Chares Read).
Flint rubble, rag rubble, and brick. Stone dressings. Tiled roofs, with lead on the aisles.
A hall church with continuous aisles and no structural division between nave and chancel, an unusual plan for Essex. The N and S arcades are of 9 bays, with the western six forming the nave and the eastern three the chancel. There are N and S porches and a W tower.
The nave and chancel are roofed continuously, with no structural division, and the aisles and chancel chapels are also treated as single structural units. The S aisle is embattled to the S, the N aisle has a plain parapet. Three C18 clerestory dormers, inserted when the roof was rebuilt after the fire of 1774, are almost hidden behind the aisle parapets. They have segmental heads and two small paned lights.
The chancel E window is C14 and has 3 trefoiled lights in a 4-centred head. The late C15 N aisle E window has a pedimental head and three lights; the S aisle E window is also late C15 and has three lights under a square head. There is an early C16 door set into a buttress for the S chapel.
The N aisle has five C14 windows in the N wall. That towards the E was reset in the C15. The W window of the N aisle is also C15. The N door is C14 and has moulded jambs and a hood mould with head stops. The door itself is C15 and has trellis framing. The brick N porch was added in the early C16 and has a crow-stepped gable. The outer arch has moulded jambs, and the side walls have diapering and small blocked windows.
The S aisle has seven windows on the S, all of three traceried lights in 4-centred heads with a similar design, but the eastern 3 are apparently c.1520 and the rest late C15. The W window is also C15. There is are early C16 S doors, one between in a buttress between the second and third windows from the east, the other covered by the S porch. The S porch is dated 1523 and has an embattled parapet. The four-centred outer arch has moulded jambs, with shields of arms above it. These include those of Dunnmow Priory, Fitzwalter and Radcliffe. The porch roof has early C16 moulded wall plates. The early C16 S door has chamfered jambs and a three centred arch. The early C16 linenfold doors were reset from the outer to the inner opening in 1930.
The embattled W tower is of three stages, the lower part C14 and the upper parts C15. The W door has chamfered jambs and a hood mould, and was blocked to form a window in the C18. The C14 W window has a steeply angled head, possibly a reworking, and reticulated ogee tracery. Above it is a large cross made in knapped flints. There are single light C15 windows in the second stage, and two-light C15 windows in the upper stage. The top of the tower is said to have been rebuilt and shortened in 1702, and the steeple was lost after storms in 1779.
There is no chancel arch or screen, and the interior is dominated by the long, smooth plaster vault inserted after a fire in 1774. The N arcade is nine bays, and has two chamfered orders on octagonal piers with moulded capitals and bases. The western six bays are C14. The eastern three bays are late C15 or early C16, and are lower than the western bays. The profile of the capitals and bases differs slightly in the two sections. At the W end of the N aisle, a C14 niche, formerly outside, is reset. It has moulded jambs, a triangular head, and a carved and crocketed border. The S arcade is also of nine bays in two sections. The western six bays are c1500, and the eastern three early C16. The arches have two moulded orders and the piers have four attached shafts, with moulded capitals and bases. The tower arch is C14 and has two moulded orders on plain responds. It is closed by a glazed timber screen. The internal staircase in the NW corner of the tower has a C15 door with studded iron bands.
Late C12 Purbeck marble font with a plain, square bowl on five columnar supports, badly worn. The cover was added in 1955. There is a C15 piscina in the N aisle, and an aumbry of 1954.
Pulpit of 1877 by J Forsyth. Very rich, of Caen stone with marble panels and shafts, and carved figures in canopied niches. The choir stalls with open traceried fronts were installed in 1922. The nave benches are C19.
Some good C19 glass, including E window of 1874 and S chapel E window of 1881 by Clayton and Bell, N chapel E window 1884 by Jones and Willis and another N four window of 1879 by Cox and Sons.
Fine, probably late C17 brass chandeliers in the nave and matching candelabras in the aisles. Small brass of c1500 with a Virgin and Child, found in the churchyard in 1977. An indent for brasses found in the N aisle may be Henry Boode, an early C16 benefactor. Wall tablets include an early C19 tablet to the Scott family including Rev. Alexander Scott, chaplain on HMS Victory at Trafalgar, and another to George and Lydia Middleton, d. 1680. There are memorials for both WWI and WWII.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES (IF APPROPRIATE)
In the churchyard, a brick mounting block of 1733.
Burnham was an important port in the middle ages, but the settlement is in two parts, with the church and manor house a little way inland of the port settlement. The church was probably founded in the late C11 or early C12, and it was certainly in existence by 1155 when it was given to Little Dunmow priory. Irregularities in the setting out suggest that the present building developed around an older structure. The nave, chancel, N aisle and lower part of the W tower were built in the mid C14. The upper part of the tower was added or rebuilt in the mid C15, and in the late C15 the N aisle was lengthened to create a N chancel chapel. The S aisle was added or perhaps entirely rebuilt c.1500 and lengthened in the early C16 to form a S chancel chapel. The N and S porches are also early C16. The upper part of the tower was rebuilt in 1702. The roof, including the plaster barrel vault, was redone in 1775 following a fire the previous year. It was restored c.1871-9 to designs by local architect Charles Read. There were further repairs in the C20. There were two religious guilds in the church in the Middle Ages, and the south aisle is known to have been dedicated to St Katherine, and the north aisle to the Trinity. There was also an image, and probably an altar, of St Peter in the north aisle. At least some of the work in the C16 was paid for by Jon Harvey, vicar, and Thomas Ratcliffe, Lord Fitz Walter, and bequests from parishioners are also recorded. New furnishings and pews were installed in the late C16 and C17, but with the exception of the chandelier, these do not survive and were probably destroyed in a fire in 1774. Samuel Deeker, bricklayer and plasterer, was responsible for this restoration work, which cost £812/8/7. The C18 fittings were removed during the C19 restoration, as was commonly done to bring the church into line with new liturgical practices.
Buildings of England: Essex (2007), 188-89
RCHME Essex IV, 17-19
Jefferies, C E, Notes on the Church of St Mary in Burnham-on-Crouch and on its History (1957)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
St Mary the Virgin, Burnham on Crouch is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* A large, fully aisled hall church of the C14-C16 with important surviving medieval fabric.
* An unusual C18 plaster barrel vault, added after a fire in 1774.
* Some good C19 fittings, including an elaborate pulpit by J Forsyth of 1877 and stained glass.