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Church of St Laurence

A Grade I Listed Building in Blackmore, Essex

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Latitude: 51.6904 / 51°41'25"N

Longitude: 0.3178 / 0°19'4"E

OS Eastings: 560305

OS Northings: 201611

OS Grid: TL603016

Mapcode National: GBR YC.0SR

Mapcode Global: VHHMQ.GSC1

Entry Name: Church of St Laurence

Listing Date: 20 February 1967

Last Amended: 9 December 1994

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1197161

English Heritage Legacy ID: 373310

Location: Blackmore, Hook End and Wyatts Green, Brentwood, Essex, CM4

County: Essex

District: Brentwood

Civil Parish: Blackmore, Hook End and Wyatts Green

Built-Up Area: Blackmore

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Blackmore St Laurence

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

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Listing Text


723-1/15/11 Church of St Laurence
(Formerly Listed as:
Church of St Lawrence)


Parish church. Mid-C12, altered and extended in C14, truncated
and altered in C16, restored by Frederick Chancellor from
1895. Flint rubble with dressings of clunch and red brick, the
latter partly plastered, roofed with machine-made red clay
tiles; belfry timber-framed, partly weatherboarded, spire
Founded as an Augustinian Priory in mid-C12, dissolved 1527.
The existing building represents the structural nave and
aisles of a larger building which formerly extended further E,
and formed the parish nave and chancel, of which 2 incomplete
windows remain at the E end. The N arcade, except the W bay,
was rebuilt in the early C16; the C12 W bay survives. W belfry
and spire C14. Early in the C16 arches to N and S of the
parish altar were inserted, for 2 storeys in the aisles, with
large plain openings towards the nave. E end demolished and
blocked. N porch C19, incorporating fragments of the original.
N arcade rebuilt with the same stones 1895-1907; E end of N
aisle also rebuilt.
NAVE: the nave of the priory church forms the parish nave and
chancel. The E wall is C19, incorporating numerous worked
stones; internally the wall is splayed back to reveal part of
the mid-C14 octagonal responds of a former transverse arch;
they have moulded capitals and are tapered back to a point
about 2m above the floor. In the N wall are 6 arches: the
easternmost is early C16, of plastered brick, 4-centred and of
3 chamfered orders with semi-octagonal responds of which the
eastern has a moulded stone capital and base; the western
respond is repaired with cement, and the base is cut away. The
arch is kept low to allow an upper floor in the E bay of the N
aisle, since removed. The second, third, fourth and fifth
arches are C14, rebuilt; the moulded 2-centred arches have
moulded labels with shield-stops, some C19, and spring from
columns each with 4 attached shafts with moulded capitals and
bases; the responds have attached half-columns. The sixth arch
is mid-C12, semicircular and of one square order; the square
pier has at each corner an attached shaft with 3 waterleaf
capitals, and a scalloped capital to the NW, and moulded
imposts; the respond of the fifth arch is built against this
pier; the W respond is similar to half a square pier. Above
the E arch of the arcade is a plain window opening with
shallow segmental head, now blocked on the S, which formerly
opened from an upper floor in the N aisle. E of the head of
the arch, partly cut away by the E wall, is a blocked C12
window with roll-moulded jambs and semicircular arch. Above
the fifth pier and centrally over the C12 pier is a C12
clerestorey window of one rebated round light, now opening
into the N aisle but with the weathering of the original aisle
roof below it.
SOUTH ARCADE: is of 6 bays; the easternmost arch is uniform
with that opposite, but the capitals of the responds are
cement-rendered. Above and to the east of the arch is part of
a blocked window similar to that opposite, but with a short
length of roll-moulded string course to W of it; centrally
over the arch is a plain opening, wider than that opposite,
with a square head, and a timber from on the S side,
indicating the former existence of an upper floor in the E bay
of the S aisle. The second, third, fourth and fifth bays of
the arcade have 2-centred arches of 3 chamfered orders, and
brick octagonal piers and semi-octagonal responds with moulded
capitals, early C16. The second column has a round stone base,
reused; the fourth column and W respond have moulded stone
bases. Painted in red on the E side of the fourth arch is a
consecration cross with the letter M below it. The sixth bay
is C12 and uniform with that opposite, except that all the
attached shafts have scalloped capitals, and the impost
mouldings are repaired with cement. Above the fifth pier is a
window uniform with that opposite, with a similar weathering
WEST WALL: is entirely C12, and was external before the timber
belfry was erected against it; the W doorway is of 3 plain
orders with a semicircular head and chamfered label; the jambs
formerly each had 2 free shafts and one worked on the inner
order; only the scalloped capitals remain, with grooved and
chamfered abaci; the jambs are repaired with brick. Above the
doorway are 2 hollow-chamfered and round-headed windows, and
higher up a circular window, C19 internally. S of the doorway
the rubble has been cut back for a first-floor fireplace and
flue, which must pre-date the belfry as it is obstructed by
one of the main posts. The roof is C19, retaining some late
C14 carved bosses of faces, foliage and shields.
NORTH AISLE: has in the E wall the southern part of an arch,
probably C13, dying into the C19 buttress; the remainder of
the arch has been destroyed, and the filling is C19. The N
wall is C19 E of the porch and C14 to W of it; in it are 5
windows; the easternmost is a single early C16 light with a
4-centred head, restored externally; the second window is C19;
the third window is C19 except for the head and tracery of the
western light and the internal head of both lights, which are
C14, re-set; the fourth is similar to the third, and is C14,
re-set with some C19 stonework; the fifth window is similar
but with a restored moulded label. Between the fourth and
fifth windows is the mid-C14 N doorway with 2-centred arch,
moulded label with C19 headstops, and restored moulded jambs.
E of the porch and projecting on C19 buttresses are two C17
gabled dormers, each of 3 lights with an oval light above,
with moulded mullions, jambs and heads, and diamond leaded
glazing; the E dormer is restored, the W has only minor
repairs; both have C17 bargeboards.
SOUTH AISLE: has in the E wall a blocked C13 2-centred archway
with a moulded label on the W side; the S wall is splayed back
to allow for the width of the archway. At the SE corner is a
brick diagonal buttress inscribed with the date 1714 and 2
initials, of which the second letter is B. The S wall is
mainly early C16 except at the E end, where it may be C13,
with a C13 blocked 2-centred doorway from the former cloister;
externally part of the 2-centred arch is visible, with a
weathered capital for a round shaft, missing; internally the
whole arch and the segmental pointed and shouldered rear-arch
with moulded label; above it internally is set the carved
figure of a beast with the head broken off.
W of this arch is a blocked C16 brick window with chamfered
4-centred head and jambs, visible externally. Further W are
three C19 windows; between the second and third is the C18 S
doorway with a chamfered lintel, formerly a W doorway from the
cloister. On this side are three C19 dormers. The upper part
of the W end of the wall is timber-framed. In the W wall is an
C18 window of 2 semicircular lights with a C20 frame.
BELFRY: almost square in plan, of 3 diminishing stages, the
lowest of exposed timber framing, the middle stage clad with
vertical hardwood boards, the third clad with C20 horizontal
weatherboarding; between the stages and above are pent-roofs;
the lowest is tiled, with projecting eaves supported by wide
solid brackets; the others are shingled; the top stage is
finished by an octagonal spire. 4 massive posts are arranged
in a square, with 2 high 2-centred arches across the axis, and
an intermediate post and 2 lower 2-centred arches in each
side. 3 of the posts are approximately 0.50m square at the
base, with a chamfered order attached by slip tenons and
aligning with similar orders on the transverse arches; in the
NE post the chamfered order is cut in the solid, giving
overall dimensions of 0.57 x 0.66m, an exceptional timber in
any context. In the spandrels of the transverse arches are
vertical struts, with curved altire braces above. To each side
are curved shores up to 0.16m thick in 6 successive stages. In
each side are 4 pairs of curved saltire braces, up to the
first floor which is partly rebuilt. Outside the main posts
are 14 wallposts, and heavy studs 0.28-0.38m apart with curved
braces trenched to the outside. The N wall has an inserted
door, the S wall has an unglazed window with restored diamond
mullions and an original shutter rail, a rare feature. The S
and W walls retain many panels of wattle and daub infill. All
the sills are original, up to 0.48 x 0.42m, the plinths
rebuilt. In the W wall is a window of 6 lights with a straight
head; the head and outer jambs are chamfered with broach
stops; the mullions and inner jambs are moulded in 2 hollow
chamfers and are grooved for glass. Cinquefoiled wooden
tracery, also grooved for glass, appears to have been inserted
after the original construction, probably in the late C15; a
mortice for a former mullion is visible above it.
2 arched braces have been removed from the E frame to clear
the C12 windows, presumably in the C19 restoration. Above the
first floor each side of the square frame has one intermediate
post; the 8 panels so formed each have curved saltire braces;
the floor above is original, of horizontal joists with a
framed bell-trap. Above this each side of the tower has paired
curved tension braces to the corner posts, with wattle fixings
for former infill of wattle and daub.
The bell-frame is a later addition, wholly composed of
straight timbers, diagonally braced, tenoned and pegged,
probably of C16 construction. The base of the octagonal spire
has been restored, and the upper part rebuilt with some
restored timbers. Canted posts are tenoned to tie-beams above
the highest stage of the tower, with 2 stages of curved
saltire bracing; at the head is a horizontal frame carrying
the spiremast.
HISTORICAL NOTE: in 1962 CA Hewett dated the belfry and spire
to c1480, and this dating has been followed by Pevsner and
Scarfe; however, this dating was greatly influenced by the W
window tracery which was taken to be integral with the main
structure. It now appears that an originally unglazed window
was glazed in the C15, and that the cinquefoiled tracery was
inserted at that time. The multiple curved bracing, the heavy
sections of the braces and brackets (even those which do not
carry much stress), and the form of the tying-joints, are all
more typical of the early C14. On historical grounds too, it
is unlikely that the Priory would have been able to undertake
a major timber construction of this quality in a period of
falling revenues and high wages, or at any time after the
Black Death. The large number of timbers each having long
sequences of growth-rings makes this structure highly suitable
for dendrochronological analysis.
FITTINGS AND MONUMENTS: the font, C14/15, has an octagonal
bowl with a hollow chamfered lower edge, an octagonal stem,
and an octagonal plinth with similar moulding. In the chancel
is an indent of a foliated cross with stem resting on breast
and an incomplete marginal inscription in Lombardic letters;
and in the nave is an indent of a brass now stored in the
vestry, of a secular male figure in fur-trimmed gown,
inscription and lower half missing, early C15. In the chancel
and nave are floor slabs to Stephen Smyth 1670; Henry Smyth
1671; Stephen Smyth 1672; Thomas Smyth 1684; Charles Smyth
1720; and Arthur Smyth, undated, all in black marble with
achievements of arms, and to Simon Lynch, Rector of Runwell,
1660, with achievement of arms. In the N aisle is an
altar-tomb in white marble to Charles Alexander, 1775, and
floor-slabs to Thomas Alexander Smyth 1747; Mary Tendring
1732; Esther Acworth 1768 and Dorcas Spriggs 1752. In the S
aisle is an altar-tomb (of Thomas Smyth 1594, and Margaret,
his wife), the base of C19 brick and cement with enriched
alabaster pilasters, gadrooned table and recumbent effigies of
a man in armour, and a woman in ruff and close dress, all of
alabaster repaired with plaster; and on the S wall a monument
to Joanna Gibson 1746, in alabaster, with tented drapery,
putti and scrolls incription partly indecipherable. There are
5 bells, the second by Miles Graye 1657, the third by Miles
Graye 1648, and the fourth by Thomas Lester 1752. In the
belfry is a large panel of painted pine with a moulded frame,
recording benefactions to the poor up to 1728.
(Archaeological Journal: Hewett CA: The Timber Belfries of
Essex: 226-244).

Listing NGR: TL6030501611

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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