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Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Brentwood (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 64831 96581



TQ69NW OLD CHURCH ROAD 723-1/6/462 (North side) 10/04/67 Church of St Giles (Formerly Listed as: BRENTWOOD OLD CHURCH LANE, Mountnessing Church of St Giles)


Parish church. Late C11 origin, altered in C13, C17 and early C19, restored in 1889. Mixed rubble with dressings of limestone and Reigate stone, and red brick in English bond, roofed with handmade red brick tiles. The nave is of late C11 origin, but the only visible evidence is the use of Roman bricks and tiles in the NE quoin, and the re-use of indurated conglomerate in the C13 aisle walls; W end 1653. N and S aisles built in mid-C13, but N aisle re-faced and S aisle rebuilt in 1889. Belfry in W end of nave, C15. Chancel early C19. S porch and S organ-chamber 1889. CHANCEL: the chancel is of handmade red bricks, with some blue flared bricks, in English bond; a brick in the E wall, 1.30m above ground, is inscribed `SB. 1818', probably the master mason and date of construction. The E window is of 3 lights with a 2-centred head of gauged brick, moulded wooden frame, mullions and Gothic tracery. Clasping buttresses with tumbled courses at the offsets. The N window is rectangular, with a flat arch of gauged brick, 4 lights with 2-centred Gothic heads, one wrought-iron casement on pintle hinges with one of 2 spiral latches, moulded wooden frame and mullion, horizontal saddle bars, diamond-shaped vertical bars behind, and leaded rectangular glazing. The roof is in 5 bays with exposed butt purlins, collars, rafters, ridge and 2 tie-beams. NAVE: the nave has a mid-C13 N arcade of 3 bays, partly restored and re-set, with 2-centred arches of 2 chamfered orders; the round columns have moulded bell-capitals, the eastern carved with stiff-leaf foliage and a head with foliage held in the mouth; the E respond is semi-octagonal and has a moulded capital with stiff-leaf foliage; the W respond and all the bases are C19. The S arcade is generally similar to the N arcade but is slightly later in date; the capital of the eastern column is C19, and that of the western column is simply moulded; the E respond is semicircular and has a semi-octagonal moulded capital with C15 detail; re-set below it is a carved corbel, much defaced; the W respond is semi-octagonal with a moulded capital. E of the arcade is a cutting through the wall containing brick steps to the S, probably of a former rood-stair of which the remainder has been lost in the C19 alterations, the S plain doorway to it is rebated on the W jamb for a door. The W wall is of red brick in English bond, re-pointed with cement mortar, with 4 stepped buttresses and some C19 repairs; in the gable is a blank recess with moulded jambs and straight head, with a moulded projecting sill and broken entablature with steeply-pitched pediment; above the recess is the date 1653 in moulded brick. The W doorway is C19. The W window is C15, re-set and restored, of 2 cinquefoiled lights with recessed spandrels, square head, moulded label, and chamfered 4-centred rear-arch; each light has 5 wrought-iron horizontal bars of C17 or C15 origin, with renewed vertical bars. The roof of the nave has been rebuilt, retaining 3 C15 crownposts and some other components; the crownpost on the middle tie-beam is octagonal with a moulded capital and base. N AND S AISLES: the N aisle has an E window, all C19 except the splays and chamfered 2-centred rear-arch. The E wall is of C13 construction, with reused rubble from the former N wall of the nave, including indurated conglomerate, Roman bricks and tiles, and field stones, roughly coursed. The N wall has been re-worked in the C19, re-using similar rubble without coursing and with regular alteration of the various materials. There are 2 C13 single-light windows with trefoiled heads, re-set; the C19 limestone sills show that the chamfered jambs of Reigate stone or clunch have weathered seriously since the restoration of 1889, probably owing to removal of the older surface. Between the windows is a C13 doorway with chamfered jambs and 2-centred arch, also seriously weathered; it is blocked internally. In the W wall of C19 brick is a C19 window. The S aisle has been wholly rebuilt in the C19; it has no ancient features other than some reused collars in the roof. BELFRY: the C15 timber belfry is inside the W end of the nave, with 2 timber shores extending into each aisle, integrated with the roof of the nave; it has been repaired in the C19, all the sills and some other components replaced in matching style and quality. It is built in 3 stages, of which 2 are visible from below; no access to upper part. Of the 4 main posts, the 2 eastern posts are hollow-chamfered with 5-sided attached shafts, each face slightly concave, with elaborately moulded capitals; both bases and the whole of the SE post renewed. These posts rise to a tie-beam across the wallplates of the nave, with 2 hollow-chamfered braces forming a 2-centred arch; S brace renewed. The W crownpost of the nave roof is moulted on this tie-beam. The western posts also rise to a tie-beam across the nave, but are without attached shafts, and have a cambered tie at half-height, repaired, with 2 original posts rising to it, dividing this side into an arcade, with plain-chamfered arch-braces in each outer bay; above the intermediate tie 2 plain arch-braces rise to the main tie-beam. The N and S sides of the first stage are also divided into half-stages by hollow-chamfered cambered tie-beams; a C19 post below the middle of each tie-beam appears not to be an accurate reproduction of the original construction. Hollow-chamfered arch-braces rise to each intermediate tie, and above it a hollow chamfered post divides the space into 2 panels each of which is saltire-braced by 4 straight or subtly-curved plain braces, halved at the cross-wings. Gruck-like shores extend from the main posts into the aisles; the SE shore has been wholly renewed, the others are scarfed to renewed timber near their bases. 2 cambered E-W tie-beams are mounted across the main tie-beams to form a square base to the second main stage, with hollow-chamfered arch-braces from the intermediate posts of the W frame, and short spandrel-posts in the E frame. 8 posts about 2m high form the second stage, the sides elaborately braced with doubled curved saltire braces, and some C19/20 reinforcement. Diagonal beams form the floor of the third stage, each with 2 hollow-chamfered arch-braces from the corner posts; 4 plain joists of horizontal section complete each quarter. The third stage is weatherboarded externally, without apertures, and forms the base of a shingled octagonal timber spire. FITTINGS: panelled wooden reredos, c1730, with paintings of Moses to left, Aaron to right, and carved and gilt foliage and cornice, restored. Communion rail, c1730, with twist-turned balusters. Font with octagonal bowl, each face with a square panel enclosing carvings of 3 fishes, compass, square and mallet, a formy cross, flowers and foliage, moved from Hutton Parish Church (qv) in 1873 (the previous font is illustrated in Quarterly Papers on Architecture (ed. Weale), 1845. MONUMENTS: (1) in chancel to Edmund Peert [1676], white marble tablet with knotted drapery, tassels and achievement of arms, (2) to John Prescott, 1750, white and grey marble tablet with blank shield, (3) to Henry Blencowe, 1765, white marble tablet with achievement of arms and moulded segmental pediment, (4) to Henry Prescott Blencowe, 1787, and Elizabeth his widow 1843, black and white marble with fluted pilasters and brackets, paterae and moulded open pediment. Floor-slabs in Chancel (1) to Edmund Peert, 1676, black marble with shield of arms, (2) to Alexander Prescott, 1701, limestone with shield of arms, (3) to Alexander Prescott, 1731, white marble, (4) to Alexander Prescott date illegible, limestone with shield of arms, (5) to Mary daughter of Francis Woolmer, 1707, limestone, and (7) one other, limestone, much eroded. Benefactions boards in S chapel, C18, with moulded frames and reversed curves at corners (1) concerning Endimion Canning, 1681, (2) concerning John English and Amey his wife, 1790. Bell, not accessible, reported to be by Thomas Bullisdon, inscribed `Sancte Jacobe Ora Pro Nobis', c1500. It has been suggested that the present S porch was moved from Thoby Priory (since demolished) (Austin, 1989). This church is listed at Grade I because of the outstanding quality of the timber belfry. (Quarterly Papers on Architecture: Weale: 1845-: 37; Austin G: Another Miller's Tale: 1989-).

Listing NGR: TQ6483196581


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Books and journals
Austin, G, Another Millers Tale, (1989)
'Quarterly Papers on Architecture' in Quarterly Papers on Architecture, (1845), 37


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

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Date: 10 Aug 1999
Reference: IOE01/00631/02
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Ian Wiseman. Source Historic England Archive
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