11. BIRDBROOK. (D.a.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)iv. S.E. (b)v. S.W. cx. N.W.)
Birdbrook is a parish and small village about
10 m. E. of Saffron Walden and W. of Sudbury.
The most important monuments are the Church,
Baythorne Hall and Eagle Farm.
a(1). Parish Church of St. Augustine stands
in the village. The walls are of stone, flint, and
pebble-rubble, mixed with tiles, and the dressings
are of limestone and clunch; the roofs are tiled.
The Chancel and Nave were built late in the 11th or
early in the 12th century; early in the 13th
century the nave was lengthened towards the W. to
form a chapel, and shortly afterwards the chancel
was partly rebuilt, probably lengthened, and
widened towards the S. In the 15th century an arch
was built across the nave about 8 feet E. of the W.
wall, to support a bell-cot. The church was
restored in the 19th century, when the S. wall
of the chancel and the South Porch were rebuilt.
Though much restored, the church retains some
good examples of 13th century-work.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (30 ft.
by 19 ft.) has, in the N. wall, several herring-bone
courses of Roman brick, which possibly indicate that
the wall is of late 11th or early 12th-century date.
In the E. wall are three tall lancet windows of the
13th century, with double-chamfered and rebated
jambs, moulded labels and mask-stops, much
restored; the rear arches are moulded and spring
from detached circular shafts with moulded bases,
bands and bell-capitals; between the heads of the
windows, outside, are two sunk and moulded quatre,
foil panels, each carved with a human head. In the
N. wall are three windows; the two eastern are 13th-century lancet windows, much restored, with
double-chamfered and rebated jambs; the western
window is of late 14th-century date and has the
name 'Thomas Cersey' on the tracery, in Lombardic
capitals; it is of two cinquefoiled lights with
a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the cusps of
the quatrefoil have foliated and grotesque points.
In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern is a
lancet similar to those in the N. wall, but externally
almost completely restored; the western window is
modern except some of the stones in the internal
splays. Between the windows is a modern doorway. The chancel-arch is modern.
Birdbrook, the Parish Church of St. Augustine.
The Nave (64½ ft. by 20½ ft.) has, in the N. wall,
some courses of Roman tiles set herring-bone-wise;
the western third of the nave is of early 13th-century date. In the N. wall are three windows;
the easternmost is modern, except the internal
splays and rear arch, which are of the 15th century;
in the E. splay, part of the sill is carried down to a
ledge with a small embattled cornice; the second
window is modern; the westernmost window is
a 13th-century lancet with chamfered and rebated
jambs, and is now blocked; W. of the easternmost
window and set high in the wall, are the splays and
semi-circular rear arch of an 11th or early 12th-century window, now blocked and not visible
externally. Between the two western windows is
the 13th-century N. doorway with jambs and two-centred head of two chamfered orders. In the
S. wall are four windows; the easternmost is
modern, except part of the internal splays
and the rear arch, which are probably of the 15th
century; it is of two uncusped lights under a
two-centred head, and the sill is carried down to
a ledge similar to that of the easternmost window
in the N. wall, but quite plain; the second window
is of the 14th century, much restored, and of two
cinquefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in
a two-centred head; the third window is modern,
except the internal splays and rear arch, which
are of the 14th century; the fourth window is a
lancet similar to that in the N. wall, and also
blocked; between the easternmost and second
windows, and set high in the wall, is an 11th or
early 12th-century window, similar to that in the
N. wall and now blocked. Between the second and
third windows is the late 13th-century S. doorway
with a moulded two-centred arch and label. In
the W. wall are three early 13th-century lancet
windows, that in the middle being set higher
than the others; under the northernmost is a
small crude window of one pointed light and of uncertain date. About eight feet E. of the W. end is a
wall with a 15th-century arch in it, inserted to support the timber bell-cot; the arch is two-centred
and of two moulded orders, and the responds have
semi-circular attached shafts with moulded capitals
The Roof of the nave is of the 15th century,
with moulded and embattled wall-plates, moulded
collar-beams, purlins, and principals with curved
Fittings—Altar: In churchyard—S. of chancel,
slab with hollow-chamfered edge, possibly altar-slab. Bells: three; 1st by Richard Bowler,
1591; 2nd by Peter Hawkes, 1612; 3rd dated
1570. Brasses and Indents. Indent: In chancel—
in S.E. corner, woman's figure standing on canopied
brackets, with marginal inscription and four shields,
late 14th-century. Communion Rails: with
moulded rail and twisted balusters, early 18th-century. Locker: In chancel—in E. wall, rectangular, with wooden lintel, date uncertain.
Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In
chancel—at N.E. angle, (1) coped coffin-lid with
traces of cross, 13th-century, much worn. In
tower—(2) to Martha Blewitt of Baythorne End,
the wife of nine husbands, of whom the last survived her, 1681, also to Robert Hogan of Birdbrook,
the husband of seven wives. Floor-slab: In nave
—to James Walford, 1713 or 1743, much worn.
Piscinæ: In nave—in S. wall, E. of the wall of the
bell-cot, with chamfered jambs and two-centred
head, fluted drain, early 13th-century. Plate:
includes a cup of 1562 with cover-paten of 1561.
Screen: In chancel—incorporated in modern
quire-stalls, nine cusped and traceried heads,
probably from late 15th-century screen. Seating:
In chancel—incorporated in quire-stall, one benchend with carved popey and moulded book-board,
late 15th-century. Stoup: In S. porch—E. of
S. doorway, small recess. Miscellanea: In the
chancel—in N. wall, recess with three-centred
head and remains of flue, possibly a fireplace
in a vestry behind the altar. Above S. doorway—
circular boss, carved with foliage, 13th-century.
Condition—Good, much restored.
b(2). Homestead Moat, at Whitleys, 1 m.
E.N.E. of the church. Built into the modern
house is a stone, roughly inscribed in Lombardic
capitals "... pro anima Rogeri comitis
a(3). Birdbrook Hall, N.E. of the church, is
of two storeys with cellars; the walls are of
plastered timber-framing and modern brick, and
the roofs are covered with tiles and slate. It was
built in the 17th century, on an L-shaped plan
with the wings extending towards the S.W. and
N.W., and with a small staircase projection in the
angle between the wings; the cellar under the
N.W. wing is apparently of earlier date. On the
S.W. side and at the end of the N.W. wing are
Interior—At the E. angle of the house the rooms
have original moulded ceiling-beams, and other
rooms have chamfered ceiling-beams. The cellar
under the N.W. wing has walls of old brick with
small arched recesses, and a large chamfered
ceiling-beam carrying wide joists.
b(4). Baythorn Hall, 1¼ m. N.E. of the
church, is of two storeys; the walls are of plastered
timber-framing, and the roofs are tiled. It was
built in the 15th century, with an open Hall in the
middle, and a cross-wing at each end. In the 16th
century an upper floor and a chimney-stack were
inserted in the Hall. On the S.E. front the upper
storey of the cross-wing projects, and is supported
by curved brackets.
Interior—On the ground floor, in the middle
block, is a moulded and embattled ceiling-beam,
re-used, and now partly cut away; it probably
formed part of the original Screen. Opening
into the N.E. wing is an original doorway with
chamfered jambs and two-centred arch under a
square chamfered head. On the first floor is
visible the roof of the former Hall, which has
moulded ceiling-beams, and joists with carved
stops, probably original, but re-set. The other
rooms have chamfered ceiling-beams. In the N.E.
wing large curved and stop-chamfered braces are
b(5). Baythorn Park, house, nearly 1¾ m.
E.N.E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics;
the walls are of plastered brick and the roofs are
tiled. It was built probably at the end of the 17th
century, but contains much material of c. 1600,
or earlier. At the S.W. end is an addition, probably
of the 18th century. The walls are now surmounted by a parapet. The roof is of two spans
and is hipped at the ends. The chimney-stacks,
apparently of late 17th-century date, have square
shafts with attached tops and recessed angles.
Interior—On the ground floor, a room on the S.E.
side is lined with early 17th-century panelling,
re-set, and the fireplace, probably of early 18th-century date, has an enriched wooden architrave
and a moulded marble shelf; above it is a 17th-century panelled overmantel, with an early
18th-century painting of a horse. On the first
floor, one room has three walls covered with early
17th-century panelling, and the fourth wall
with plain early 18th-century panelling; the
fireplace has a bolection-moulded architrave of
late 17th or early 18th-century date, and an overmantel of mid 17th-century date with fluted
Doric pilasters, and arched panels with facetted
projecting bosses. Another room is lined with
early 17th-century panelling, re-set, and an
adjoining room has a fireplace with a heavy moulded
architrave and shelf, of late 17th or early 18th-century date. The roof contains a few timbers of
c. 1600, re-used.
Condition—Good, much altered.
The following monuments, unless otherwise
described, are of the 17th century, and of two
storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs
are tiled or thatched. Some of the buildings have
wide fireplaces, original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams, and many of them have
Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.
Main Street, W. side
a(6). The Plough Inn, 50 yards S. of the church,
with extensive modern additions on both sides and
at both ends. The original central chimney-stack
has grouped diagonal shafts.
a(7). Cottage, now three tenements, 150 yards
S. of the church, with a modern addition at each
a(8). Cottage, N. of (7), with a modern addition
at the N. end of the E. side.
a(9). Moat Farm, house, 250 yards E. of the
church, is of two storeys with cellars. It was
built on a modified L-shaped plan with the wings
extending towards the N. and E., and has a small
projection at the S. end of the W. side. There are
large modern additions on the E. side, and at the
end of the N. wing.
c(10). Wash Farm, house, now three tenements,
½ m. S.S.W. of the church, was built late in the
16th or early in the 17th century, and has a modern
addition at the S.W. end. The original central
chimney-stack has moulded capping and four
octagonal shafts with moulded bases and modern
c(11). Cottage, 120 yards S.W. of (10), originally
of the central chimney type, has been shortened at
the N.E. end.
c(12). Whitehouse or Upperhouse Farm, house,
1,000 yards S.S.W. of (11), was built on an
L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards
the N.E. and S.E. The upper storey has been
heightened, and the roofs rebuilt.
c(13). Baileyhill Farm, house, 1,200 yards S.
of the church, was built on an L-shaped plan with
the wings extending towards the S.E. and S.W.
c(14). Cottage, now two tenements, 300 yards
E.S.E. of (13), was built early in the 16th century.
On the N. front the upper storey projects, and is
supported by three original moulded brackets.
Inside the building, on the ground floor, over a
fireplace, is an original moulded oak lintel, carved
with running foliage, but somewhat damaged. A
partition wall is formed of old oak panelling with a
fluted frieze, re-used. The roof has tie-beams with
b(15). Eagle Farm, house, now three tenements,
at Baythorn End, 1½ m. N.E. of the church.
It was built early in the 16th century, on a rectangular plan, but there is a large modern wing at the
N.E. end, and a modern addition on the N.W. side.
The numerous moulded and carved ceiling-beams are of interest.
On the S.E. front of the original block the upper
storey projects, and is supported by five curved
brackets. The original central chimney-stack has
an original rectangular base with moulded capping,
and grouped diagonal shafts of the 17th century,
rebuilt at the top. Inside the building, on both
floors, are original moulded ceiling-beams, and joists
with carved stops; some of the beams are carved
with running foliage and others have Tudor roses,
stars, etc. carved on the soffits.
b(16). The Swan Inn, at Baythorn End, 100 yards
N.W. of (15), was built on an L-shaped plan with
the wings extending towards the N.W. and S.W.,
and has modern additions on the S.W. side of the
N.W. wing. The N.E. front has an early 18th-century wooden eaves-cornice.
a(17). Chadwell Farm, house, ¾ m. N. of the
church, is dated 1631, but may have been built
at an earlier date. It is of T-shaped plan with
the cross-wing at the W. end, and with a small
projection at the E. end of the S. side. There is
a modern addition at the S. end of the cross-wing.
At the E. end of the N. elevation is a gable, and at
the E. end of the S. elevation is a slight projection
with a corresponding gable; both the gables have
original moulded barge-boards, much weathered.
The large central chimney-stack has a moulded
capping and four attached octagonal shafts with
moulded bases and modern tops; on one side of
the stack is a sunk panel bearing the date 1631 and
the initials M.S. E.S. incised in cement, but the
chimney-stack is probably of earlier date. Inside
the building is an old oak battened door.