719/10/316 CHURCH ROAD
10-APR-67 CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN
C11 nave, C14-15; restored 1858 by William Watts.
Mainly flint rubble with some Roman brick and stone mixed in. The NE angle of the nave and the N door have Roman brick quoins, the other dressings are stone. Timber-framed S porch. Tiled roofs.
Unaisled nave, wider on the S wide, with W tower, N vestry and S porch. Chancel.
The chancel has large, C19 diagonal eastern buttresses with brick on their outer faces. There is an early C15 E window of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery. There is an early C15 window in the S chancel wall, with two cinquefoiled lights and a matching window was blocked on the n side of the chancel. There is also a low-side window of the C15 and a blocked door in the chancel S side, and a small, square window is placed off-centre in the E gable wall.
The S side of the nave projects beyond the chancel and has an early C14 window with flowing ogee tracery in its E wall. It has a hood mould with finely carved head stops. There is a similar, smaller window, also with head stops, in the nave N wall. The NE quoin of the nave is Roman brick and the N door is late C11 with a Roman brick surround. There is some herringbone brickwork in the lower part of the nave N wall, indicating a later C11 date; the upper part was later rebuilt. The lean-to NW vestry was added in the early C19. The S wall of the nave has been partially rebuilt and has a C18 window to the W of the porch and a C19 Decorated style window to the east of it. The S door is mid C14 and has moulded jambs and a hood mould with head stops. The S porch may be C15 and is timber framed with rendered brick infill. The outer opening has a shouldered head.
The late C14 W tower is of three stages and has an embattled parapet and a N stair turret. The C14 W door has continuously moulded jambs and a hood mould. Above the door to the left (N) is a rectangular recess, probably formerly for a statue, with three carved finials springing from shields on its lintel. The second stage has a W window and has two traceried lights, also with a hood mould, and there are smaller single light windows in each face. The upper stage has 2-light, square headed windows. A brick-framed panel on the S side was probably a C16 addition for a sundial.
The interior is plastered and painted, but wall paintings were uncovered during C20 repairs. The nave roof was largely rebuilt in the C19, but retains three C15 tie beams, that in the middle with short, arched braces standing on corbels. The N corbel is a C14 male head. That on the S is C19. The chancel arch was rebuilt c.1350 and is set asymmetrically in the nave E wall. It has two orders, the outer continuously moulded, the inner chamfered and set on attached half shafts. The chancel is dominated by the large Mildmay tomb. The upper and lower rood stair doors survive in the NE corner of the nave. In the S nave wall are two very fine c.1330 tomb recesses, holding chests with timber effigies of a man and a woman, and a matching piscina. Above them is fine carved string course with foliate bosses, and the C14 windows have internal hood moulds with head stops. The tower has a medieval ceiling and an inserted C20 platform. The W gallery was removed in the C20.
There is an excellent, large, and very well preserved, C14 wall painting of St Christopher on the nave N wall opposite the S door. There is also a second figure within an architectural frame on the left of the main figure. To the E of the N door is a figure of a devil on a faux-ashlar background. There is some medieval glass, including a c. 1400 St Michael and the Dragon in the E window, and fragments of saints, canopy work and borders. Other C14 fragments are reset in the nave windows.
In the nave S wall are two elaborate c.1330 tomb recesses in the S nave wall, both with elaborate segmental, cinque-foiled ogee openings, with foliate brattishing and finials. The tomb chests have quatrefoils panelling with shields. On the chests are timber effigies are a man and a woman, both in civilian dress, probably members of the Filiol family. A contemporary piscina in the nave S wall is part of the c.1330 scheme. In the chancel, an elaborate monument to Henry Mildmay, d. 1639, attributed to John and Matthias Christmas: a large alabaster effigy in armour lying on a chest with his wives kneeling below, surmounted by an entablature with a broken segmental pediment on columns; military trophy bas-reliefs flank the epitaph. It is surround by a spiked iron railing, probably contemporary. Other monuments include a brass to William Toft, d.1470 and another to Mercymight Bristowe, 1611, and a floor slab for Henry Mildmay, d.1692.
Late C20 choir stalls and simple C19 nave benches. C19 polygonal timber pulpit with panelled sides. Octagonal C19 font. War memorials of limestone.
The nave is late C11, but its S wall was taken down and rebuilt further south c.1330, widening it asymmetrically as if an aisle was intended but not built inside. As part of the rebuilding, two tomb recesses were built in the nave S wall. New windows with excellent tracery and carved head stops were also introduced at this time, probably as part of a scheme to fit out a chantry for the occupants of the tomb recesses. The masons are unknown, but the workmanship is very high quality. The chancel arch was rebuilt at the same time or shortly thereafter. In the later C14 the W tower was added, and the chancel was rebuilt in the early C15. Also in the C15 the S porch was added. The N vestry and a W gallery were added c.1800. The church was restored in 1858 by William White, and included rebuilding part of the S wall of the nave. There was further work in the C20 when the W gallery was removed.
A Roman hypocaust has been found in the churchyard. Little Baddow is mentioned, with Great Baddow, in the Domesday book of 1086, but the church is not included. Churches were frequently omitted from the Essex Domesday, however, and the church was probably built shortly after the Norman Conquest. Its unusual plan, with an enlarged nave but no aisle, of the C14 might suggest that the parish was simply too poor to afford a full aisle, but the elaborate tombs in the S nave wall, undoubtedly associated with a chantry, make it more likely that there was originally a S arcade or large screen of some form, perhaps of timber as it has left no trace in the fabric. Both the elaborate C14 tombs, and the large Mildmay tomb, speak of the close association between the church and the local manor. William White, who carried out a sensitive restoration in the mid C19 was a well known church architect, particularly associated with Oxford.
RCHME Essex II (1921), 150-2
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The church of St Mary the Virgin, Little Baddow is designated at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
* Although modest in scale, the church combines a late C11 core with outstanding medieval fittings and decoration, including a notable and very-well preserved C14 arrangement including tomb recesses with timber effigies, a matching piscina and new windows.
* Some excellent C14 architectural sculpture including head stops and other decorative features.
* There is a very fine, well preserved wall painting of St Christopher and other medieval wall paintings.
* Some good medieval glass is preserved.
* The Mildmay tomb of 1637 is a fine Artisan Mannerist monument from a noted London workshop.