29. GREAT CHESTERFORD. (B.a.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)ii. S.E., (b)iii. N.W., (c)iii. S.W.)
Great Chesterford is a parish and large village
3½ m. N.W. of Saffron Walden, on the S. border of
Cambridgeshire. The site of a Roman town or
village lies just beyond the village on the W. side.
a (1). Town or Village. Remains of two or
three dwelling-houses, many rubbish-pits, thick
walls of flint, concrete and bonding-tiles as of a
town, etc., noted at various periods since 1577
in or near the Borough Field (O.S. 25", II. 8 and 12,
fields 74–6, 94–7) indicate a small town or village.
The exact size of the walled area is doubtful. The
London and Cambridge road runs on or near the E.
and S. limits; the Granta flows past the W. side,
which is still traceable by a long scarp in the
ground; the N. end is uncertain; the total area
has been put at about 50 acres. The site has been
dug for gravel for a century and a half, and no
structural remains are now visible. Other buildings
belonging to the place seem to have stood outside
the walls, one or two even W. of the Granta, in
Ickleton parish, Cambridgeshire (see Sectional
Preface, p. xxii). The ancient name of the place is
(2). Temple (often miscalled a 'villa'), about
40 ft. sq., with mosaics, was found in 1847 on a
hill overlooking the Chesterford valley, a mile E.
of the Borough Field. Its exact site is not known.
(For plan, see Sectional Preface, p. xxii).
a (3). Parish Church of All Saints stands
S.W. of the village. The walls are of flint rubble
with stone dressings, some shelly oolite being used
in the quoins; the walls of the S. chapel are
plastered and all the details have been much
scraped. The roofs are covered with lead. The
history of the building has been obscured by
modern restorations. The Chancel is of early or
mid 13th-century date, and a little later the present
Nave was built, aisles were added and probably
a W. tower was built; the two western bays of
the existing nave-arcades are of late 13th-century
date; at that time the nave was two bays longer
than at present and had also a crossing and transepts between it and the chancel. The W. tower
and with it the two westernmost bays of the nave fell
or was destroyed probably late in the 14th or early
in the 15th century; the W. wall of the nave and
the tower were then rebuilt in their present position
and the crossing was thrown into the nave; the N.
and S. arches, formerly opening into the transepts,
were under-built with two smaller arches, and the
chancel-arch was rebuilt further E. At the same
time also the North and South Aisles were rebuilt
and widened and the North Chapel and a S. chapel
added. Early in the 16th century the S. chapel
and part of the S. aisle were pulled down and a
large South Chapel was built. In the 18th century
the tower fell and was rebuilt in 1790. The church
was restored in 1842, when the West Tower was
altered, the chancel-arch rebuilt, and other arches
were probably rebuilt at the same time; the
building was again restored in 1891, and a former
N. porch and N.E. vestry were removed.
Architectural Description:— The Chancel (36 ft.
by 18 ft.) has a modern E. window, with a 14th-century rear arch, internal label and splay; under
it is a sill-course of roughly worked stone, dropped
and carried along part of the wall on each side. In
the N. wall, at the E. end, is a lancet window of the
13th century with an external label; below it and a
little to the W. is a 15th-century blind arch, two-centred and of two orders, possibly a former doorway, but not externally visible; further W. is an
obtuse two-centred arch, either entirely re-cut or a
copy of 13th-century work; it is of two hollow-chamfered orders, with a chamfered label and
cone-shaped stops; the responds have each a semi-octagonal shaft with moulded capitals and bases.
In the S. wall is a 13th-century lancet window
similar to that in the N. wall, but smaller, and
externally entirely modern; further W. is an
archway, similar to that in the N. wall. The
chancel-arch is modern.
The North Chapel (see North Aisle).
The South Chapel (42 ft. by 16½ ft.) overlaps the
chancel by one bay and the nave by about one and
a half bays. The E. window is modern, with a few
15th-century stones in the S. jamb. In the S. wall
are three windows of the 15th-century, much
restored; the easternmost is of three lights, the
wave-moulded internal splay and flat segmental-pointed internal head are original; the second
window is of two lights, with the original external
label and grotesque stops, two-centred rear arch
and internal splay; the third window is of three
lights, part of the label and mullions and one
jamb-stone are original. Between the two eastern
windows is a doorway, entirely modern, except
The Church, Plan
The Nave (53½ ft. by 18½ ft.) has N. and S.
arcades, each of four bays; the two western bays
are of mid 13th-century date, the others have been
either re-cut or are copies of the earlier work,
inserted when the crossing disappeared; the piers
are octagonal and the E. responds semi-octagonal;
the W. responds were originally free piers: over
the easternmost column of the N. arcade the apex
of an arch is visible, probably that formerly
opening into a N. transept; the second pier from
the E. on each side, has a straight joint down the
middle showing the limits of the 13th-century
work. The clearstorey has, on each side, three
modern windows, and near the E. end of the N. wall
externally there is a vertical quoin, probably that
of the older N.E. angle of the nave. The foundations of the two destroyed bays of the nave, with
those of the former W. tower, have been discovered
extending W. of the present church.
The North Aisle (10½ ft. wide) overlaps the
chancel by one bay, and the W. tower by about 8½
ft. In the E. wall is a modern doorway. In the N.
wall, at the E. end, the moulded E. jamb of a 15th-century window is visible outside, and the former
opening shows inside as a narrow splayed recess
with a square head. Further W. are four modern
windows and at the W. end of the wall, probably
not in situ, is a doorway of two chamfered orders,
entirely modern, except the E. jamb.
The South Aisle (10½ ft. wide). In the S. wall
are two windows, both modern, except part of the
W. jamb in the eastern window, which is of the
15th century. In the W. wall is a modern window.
The West Tower is entirely modern, except the
capitals and bases of the tower-arch, which are of
the 13th century and probably re-used material
from the destroyed bays of the nave.
The Roof of the chancel is partly modern, but
incorporates much 15th-century material; it is of
four bays, low-pitched, with king-posts; the wall-brackets rest on wooden corbels, some of them
carved with crowned heads and some with angels
holding shields. The roof of the nave is similar
to that of the chancel, but of slightly higher pitch,
and with modern work; the moulded corbels are
of stone, two at the E. end are carved with grotesque
half-figures. The N. aisle has a lean-to roof
almost entirely modern but including some 15th-century work; one corbel is grotesque and the rest
moulded. The roof of the S. chapel is also almost
entirely modern; it is of low pitch, ridged, and
resting on corbels of moulded stone or wood carved
with grotesque figures. The roof of the S. aisle is
of the first half of the 16th century, low pitched
and ridged, with carved principals and intermediates, roll-moulded rafters and large wall-brackets; the spandrels are carved and rest on
Fittings—Bells: On roof of tower, clock bell, by
Roger Reve, first half of 16th century, inscribed
"Ave Maria gracia plena." Brasses and Indents—
Brasses: In S. chapel—S. side, (1) figure of woman,
with indents of another figure and inscription plate,
early 16th-century; on E. respond of arch to
chancel, S. side, (2) to Mary Bales, 1642, inscription only; under same arch, (3) of John Howard,
7th son of Thomas Lord Howard, baron of
Walden, 1600, swaddled, figure of child, and
inscription, with indent of shield. In nave—in
middle, (4) to George Felsted. yeoman, 1638, inscription only. Indents: In S. chapel—E. end,
(1) of woman's figure, with inscription plate,
early 16th century; (2) inscription plate. Chairs:
two, upholstered, with carved backs, legs, and
rails, arm supports and posts to back twisted,
second half of 17th-century. Communion Table:
with moulded rail, shaped apron and twisted legs,
second half of 17th-century. Chest: In N. aisle—
W. end, plain, rough, iron-bound, with three locks,
late 16th-century. Font: In tower—plain octagonal moulded basin and stem, much scraped,
15th-century. Monuments: In churchyard—(1)
to Thomas Dean, 1680; (2) to Annie Brimbl,
1690; (3) to Thomas Desmond, 1704; (4) to Mary,
wife of William G——, 1710–11. Piscinæ: In
chancel—two, the eastern with cinquefoiled head,
much defaced; second with pointed, hollow-chamfered head, much weathered, possibly 13th-century.
Miscellanea: In chancel—W. side, pavement, of
stone in elongated hexagons. Over doorway of
S. chapel—externally, inscription on stone with
moulded frame, two texts, late 17th-century.
Condition—Good, much restored.
c(4). Homestead Moat, in Paddock Wood, 2
m. E. of the church, is of irregular form and
fairly well preserved; the uneven surface of the
enclosed area may indicate the existence of
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. Many houses have original chimney
stacks, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.
a (5). The Elm Tree Inn, about 30 yards N. of
the church, was built c. 1600 on an L-shaped plan
with the wings extending towards the W. and N.
At the E. end of the S. front the upper storey
projects and is gabled. Inside the building some
of the doors are of old oak battens.
a (6). House, 30 yards E. of the church, was
built probably late in the 15th century and is
rectangular, with a modern addition on the E. side.
The N. or front elevation is gabled and the upper
storey projects, and is supported on moulded
brackets and a corner post enriched with carving;
between the storeys is an ornamental plaster band
probably of early 17th-century date; the upper
storey has plaster, panels with the date 1692. On
the W. elevation the upper storey projects and has
moulded brackets, and on the ground floor is a
window of two lights originally cusped but now
pointed, with carved spandrels and moulded frame
and mullion of wood. The interior of the original
building is divided into two rooms, of which the
southern has richly moulded beams and wall-posts.
a (7). The Manor Farm, ¼ m. S.E. of the church,
was built probably c. 1500, on a rectangular plan.
In the 16th century a wing, subsequently shortened,
was added at the back, making the plan L-shaped,
and there are modern additions on the E. and S.
Inside the building the arrangement of rooms was
much altered in the 18th century. On the ground
floor, in the main block, the E. room has two
moulded beams, which are continued across the
Hall, with a carved boss at the intersection
representing a pelican in her piety. On the first
floor the room over the Hall has similar beams with
a carved rose as a boss. The shaped wall-posts are
visible in the 16th-century wing and there is a door
of old oak battens in the cellar.
Manor Lane, W. side
a (8). House, 300 yards E. of the church, is
probably of late 16th-century date. In front the
upper storey projects and is supported on brackets;
the two N. brackets are carved.
a (9). House, 300 yards E. of the church, has a
small gable in the middle of the front elevation.
The original chimney-stack is cross-shaped on plan
and set diagonally.
a (10). Old School House, now two tenements, 400
yards E. of the church. The upper storey projects
at the S.W. end.
a (11). The Crown and Thistle Inn, 300 yards E.
of the church, was built c. 1500, on a rectangular
plan, but bay windows have been added in front,
and a large modern addition made at the E. end.
The stone fireplace of c. 1500 deserves notice.
The N. or main elevation is covered with 17th-century ornamental plaster and has a gable at
the N.W. end. The back elevation has three gables,
and the brick chimney-stack, which has two
octagonal shafts with moulded caps and bases, is
original. Inside the building, on the first floor, is a
stone fireplace of c. 1500, with a square head,
chamfered jambs and half-octagonal side shafts
with moulded bases.
High Street, S. side
a (12). Cottage, 600 yards E.N.E. of the church, is
of one storey with attics.
a (13). The White House, 80 yards S.W. of (12).
The original part forms a small wing and a cottage
attached to the modern house. The N. or main
elevation has a gabled projection at the W. end
and a small gable in the roof of the cottage.
a (14). Cottage, 500 yards E.N.E. of the church,
is of one storey with attics.
a (15). Cottage, S.W. of (14), is of two storeys.
The original central chimney-stack has two shafts,
one circular and the other square.
a (16). House, S.W. of (15), with two small gables
on the S. side.
a (17). House, S.W. of (16), with a projecting
upper storey at the S. end. The original chimney-stack has two shafts set diagonally.
a (18). House, now a range of four tenements,
S.W. of (17).
Great Chesterford, Plan Shewing Position of Monuments
a (19). Cottage, 500 yards E.N.E. of the church.
Carmel Street, S.W. side
a (20). House, 270 yards E. of the church, was
built probably late in the 16th century, on a
rectangular plan. On the N. elevation the upper
storey projects and is supported on small brackets.
The E. end, now a butcher's shop, was formerly a
slaughter house. Inside the building, a room on the
ground floor has crossed ceiling-beams with a
foliated boss at the intersection.
a (21). House, now a shop, 300 yards E. of the
church, has two gables on the W. front and a low
modern addition at the back. The original central
chimney-stack has sunk panels.
a (22). Cottage. N. of (21). The original chimney-stack has one shaft set diagonally.
a (23). Carmelstead, house, N. of (22), is built on
an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards
the S.W. and S.E.; on the N.W. is a modern
addition. It has been considerably restored and
altered. At the S. end of the S.W. wing the upper
storey projects. Interior—The original Hall, now
the dining room, is in the middle of the building,
with a passage at the W. end dividing it from the
kitchen; in the ceiling is a slightly moulded beam.
a (24). Cottage, 130 yards N.W. of (23), is of a
modified L-shaped plan with the wings extending
towards the N.W. and S.W. There are some
original casement windows.
Condition—Of N.W. wing, bad.
Fag End, S. side
a (25). Cottage, formerly three tenements, 230
yards N.N.E. of the church.
School Street, W. side
a (26). House, 165 yards N.E. of the church, is
built on an L-shaped plan, with the wings extending
towards the S. and E. At the E. end of the E.
wing the upper storey projects.
a (27). The Maltings Inn, about 30 yards S. of
(26). On the front elevation are four gables and
the upper storey projects, but has been partially
under-built. In the maltings at the back are some
a (28). Cottage, 120 yards E. of the church.
a (29). Cottage, now two tenements, S. of (28),
at the corner of Church Street. The front and
back elevations each have a central gable, with
moulded barge boards.
Newmarket Street, E. side
a (30). Cottage, 340 yards N. of the church.
a (31). Cottage, 20 yards S.W. of (30).
b (32). Park Farm, house, 2 m. N.N.E. of the
church. The main block is rectangular on plan
with three small wings projecting towards the S.,
and modern additions at the W. end and to the W.
wing. The S. or back elevation has seven gables,
three of them are at the ends of the projecting