15. CHELMSFORD. (F.c.)
(O.S. 6 in. lii. N.E.)
Chelmsford, a cathedral city and the county
town of Essex, stands at the junction of the
rivers Chelmer and Can. The principal monuments are the Cathedral and the Friary.
(1). Fragments apparently of a bath-building
were found in 1849 during excavations for a sawpit between Lady's Lane and Moulsham Street
(the London to Colchester road), i.e., in the angle
formed by the latter and the River Can (Essex
Arch. Soc. Trans. I., 59). The foundations, so far
as examined and recorded, do not form a coherent
plan, but include part of a corridor with a pillared
hypocaust on its N.W. side and another room at its
S.W. end. N.E. and N.W. of this group are
remains of other rectangular compartments that
on the N.E. apparently marked the end of the
building in that direction, but 45 ft. N.W. of the
corridor was an apse 20 ft. in diameter containing
another pillared hypocaust. The walls were of
septaria with brick bonding courses, and remained
to some height. The usual painted wall-plaster,
coins, pottery (some of the 1st century), etc., were
found but ill-recorded and one tile was inscribed
C.I.S. and stamped in relief with a scene of wolves
attacking stags. There were indications that the
building had been destroyed by fire. The foundations were left and covered up again.
In the same district coins, including a silver
coin of Claudius, and urns, some containing burnt
bones, have been found at various times both
S.E. and N.W. of the London (Moulsham) road;
especially in 1901 in extending the electric light
works of Messrs. Crompton, Writtle Road; in
1893 in Cherry Garden Lane between Chelmsford
and Widford; in 1849, opposite the "new chapel
at Moulsham." N. of the river similar finds are
recorded from Springfield in making the railway
line in Stump Lane, and between there and
Chelmsford. (Gent's. Mag., 1840, II., 258; Brit.
Arch. Assoc. Journ., III. (1848), 321; Essex
Arch. Soc. Trans. I., 199; 6 in. O.S. Map, lii. N.E.;
Essex County Chronicle, 24th May, 1901.)
These finds indicate a small settlement close
to the main road and probably S. of the rivercrossing.
(2). Cathedral Church of St. Mary the
Virgin (Plate p. 42) stands in the town. The
walls are of flint-rubble intermixed with some
blocks of freestone; the dressings are partly
of limestone and partly of Reigate stone; the
roofs are leaded. The old details are all of the
15th or early 16th century. The S. and W.
arches of the North Chapel and the W. arch of
the S. chapel are of c. 1400–1410, indicating that
at that period the plan included at least a Chancel,
North Chapel, North Aisle, and South Aisle.
Probably c. 1430 the South Chapel was added or
re-built. The South Porch was added in the second
half of the century, and c. 1489 the N. and
S. arcades were re-built and a clearstorey added
to the nave. The exterior of the nave is said to
have borne the following inscription: "Pray
for the good estate of all the townsheps of Chelmysford that hath . . . good willers and procorers of helpers to this werke and . . . them
that first began and longest shall continowe . . .
in the yere of our Lorde I thousand IIII hundreth
[LXXXV]IIII." At the same time the N. and S.
aisles were possibly re-built. The West Tower was
added c. 1500 and was flanked by the ends of the
aisles, which may have been lengthened to receive
it. Probably early in the 16th century the S. chapel
was lengthened and re-built. In 1800 the roof
of the nave fell, destroying the clearstorey and most
of the S. arcade and part of the N. arcade, and
extensive rebuilding took place. During the 19th
century most of the structure was altered or
renewed; the N. chapel and S. porch were largely
re-built, and a clearstorey added to the chancel.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (41 ft.
by 21 ft.) has a modern window in the re-built
E. wall. In the N. wall are two arches: the eastern
is modern; the western (Plate p. xxx) is of early
15th-century date; it is semi-circular and moulded,
with two two-centred and moulded sub-arches
and a pierced central spandrel filled with vertical
tracery; the sub-arches spring from a pier with
four attached shafts having moulded capitals and
bases; the responds are attached half-piers. On
the S. side is an arcade of c. 1420–30 and of three
bays with four-centred arches of two orders, the
outer order continuous in the E. and W. responds;
the piers and responds are similar to those of the
sub-arches in the N. wall. The chancel-arch is
probably of late 15th-century date; it is moulded
and two-centred, with a plain label on the W. face
springing from moulded capitals which now have
no shafts; the responds have attached semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and bases.
The North-East Chapel (14 ft. by 16 ft.) is
modern in all details, but the E. wall is apparently
of old flint with bands of ashlar. In the W. wall
is a modern arch into the N. chapel.
The North Chapel (24½ ft. by 16 ft.) has in the
N. wall a modern arch opening into the N. vestry.
In the W. wall, opening into the N. aisle, is an
early 15th-century moulded and two-centred
arch springing from responds with attached shafts
having moulded capitals and bases, the latter
The North Vestry is modern.
The South Chapel (41½ ft. by 15½ ft.) is modern
in all details except the 15th-century piscina in
the S. wall (see Fittings), and the early 15th-century archway in the W. wall, opening into the
S. aisle; it has a two-centred arch of two orders,
the outer continuous, the inner springing from
attached shafts with inserted moulded capitals
of early 16th-century date and bases, one of
which is modern.
The Nave (73 ft. by 22 ft.) has N. and S. arcades
of four bays and of late 15th or early 16th-century
date largely re-built; the piers have attached
shafts of trefoil plan on the E. and W. sides and of
circular plan on the N. and S. sides; the bases
and capitals are moulded, and above the capitals
the shafts are continued as mouldings on the
arches; in the N. arcade the N. shaft of the third
pier is mostly missing. At the W. end the E.
buttresses of the tower project into the nave and
enclose tall cupboards, each ventilated on the E.
face by a square pierced quatrefoil, with a central
rose boss on the N. and a flowered lozenge on the
S.; above these openings the buttresses are
sloped back to the walls, and from this level
spring the attached shafts of a roof-arch of c. 1800;
in the S. wall is an isolated capital, possibly
connected with a former roof.
The North Aisle (16 ft. wide), has in the N. wall
W. of the modern arcade a window of three trefoiled lights with tracery under a square head,
all of the 15th century, much restored. In the W.
wall is a modern window.
Chelmsford, The Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin.
The South Aisle (15 ft. wide), is modern in all
The 15th-century South Porch is of two storeys
and is enriched externally with stone and flint
inlay pattern, much restored, consisting of a high
dado of chequer-pattern surmounted by crocketed
and trefoiled panels; above these is 16th-century
brickwork and a panelled and pinnacled parapet,
partly restored. The entrance-archway and windows are all modern except some of the splaystones of the window in the W. wall.
The West Tower (15 ft. by 16 ft.), is of three
stages with a moulded plinth enriched with panels
and shields, and an embattled parapet with stepped
merlons, probably modern, and a moulded string-course having beast-head gargoyles. The E.
tower-arch is of two moulded orders, the inner
springing from a large and the other having a
small semi-octagonal shaft with moulded capitals.
The N. and S. tower-arches are similar but much
lower. The late 15th-century W. window is of three
cinque-foiled lights with moulded jambs and vertical
tracery under a moulded four-centred head;
the label has been restored. The late 15th-century
W. doorway has a moulded two-centred arch in a
square head, and moulded jambs each with two
attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases,
much perished; the ogee label is crocketed; the
spandrels of the arch are traceried and have each
a shield, one with a De Vere molet in the quarter and
the other with a Bourchier knot; the spandrel
of the label is carved with a chained boar. S.
of the W. doorway is the doorway to the stair-turret; it has a flattened four-centred head. The
second stage has in the N., S. and W. walls a
window of two cinque-foiled lights with moulded
jambs and tracery under a two-centred head;
the labels are modern. The third stage or bell-chamber has in each wall a late 15th-century
window, partly restored, of three cinque-foiled lights
with tracery under a two-centred head. Above the
tower-roof is an 18th-century leaded spirelet rising
from an open octagonal lantern with elliptical
arches on moulded capitals; above the arches
is a moulded cornice.
The Roof of the N. aisle is modern except for
the late 15th or early 16th-century westernmost
principal, which is moulded and carved with
running foliage; below it is an arched truss carved
with foliage, and with pierced traceried spandrels;
it is supported by figures with shields, probably
modern; some of the purlins are old and carved
with foliage. The roof of the S. aisle is modern
except the westernmost principal of c. 1500.
The ceiling of the S. porch incorporates twenty
traceried heads of 15th-century panelling and one
moulded beam. The ceiling of the lowest stage
of the tower is divided into nine square bays by
moulded principals, and has moulded diagonal
joists and common joists, probably all of c. 1500.
Fittings—Books: In parvise of S. porch—small
library, mostly of theological works, many old,
in modern shelves with two old cartouches, one
with coat of arms, the other with donor's inscription
and date 1679. Coffin-lid: In churchyard—
W. of tower, tapering slab with hollow-chamfered
edge, probably 13th-century. Door: In doorway
to stair-turret, with moulded frame, four-centred
head, and vertical moulded fillets, late 15th-century. Indent: In churchyard—E. of S. chapel,
of civilian, two wives, and inscription plate,
c. 1430. Inscriptions and Scratchings: Fixed
to N.E. buttress of tower—lead panel with Royal
Arms and inscription dated 1637, from former
roof. On S.E. buttress of tower—slab with
inscription recording benefaction, dated 1701.
Scratched on N.W. respond of tower—I.W. 1656.
On S. arcade of chancel—numerous mason's marks.
Lockers: See Nave. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In N. vestry—against E.
wall, (1) of Thomas Mildmay, 1566, and Avice
(Gunson), his wife, 1557, high sarcophagus in
freestone, erected in 1571, divided in front into three
panels by fluted Composite attached columns
supporting entablature with enriched frieze and
standing on enriched plinth; middle panel with
achievement of arms; N. panel with small kneeling
figures of woman and seven daughters; S. panel
with similar figures of man and eight sons; above
entablature are crude pinnacles and three enriched
pediments, one segmental and two triangular;
tomb finished with a capping of ogee form fluted
on top with strap-work in front and terminating
in a Greek Ionic capital surmounted by a gilt ball;
N. end of tomb has panel and pediment and shield
of arms; S. end modern. In S. chapel—on S.
wall, (2) of Mathew Rudd, 1615, marble tablet
with pediment and black marble slab with inscription and engraved with kneeling figures of
man in civil dress, with wife, two sons and three
daughters, at a prayer-desk, on which stands a
skeleton. In outer N. aisle—on N. wall, (3) to
Robert Bownd, 1696, white and grey marble
tablet flanked by Ionic columns surmounted by
broken voluted pediment with urn and shield of
arms. On N.E. buttress of tower—(4) fragment of
panelled front of monument with part of lozenge of
arms and coronet, early 17th-century. Floor-slabs:
In nave—at E. end, (1) to Anne (Caryer) wife of
Rev. Mr. Pocklington, rector, 1709, and to Rev.
Oliver Pocklington, 1741; (2) to Francis Porter
and Thomasina (Bownds), his wife, 1692. In
outer N. aisle—(3) to Hannah (?Maplesden),
(?) wife of (?) Eleazar Bownd, 1714; (4) to Robert
Bownd, 1696. In S. aisle—(5) to Thomas
Hammond, 1702; (6) to Rev. Michael Batt, (?) 1705.
Under tower—(7) to Thomas Marsh, 1698, Mary,
his wife, 1715, Thomas, their son, 1706, and infant
daughters, Mary and Love. In churchyard—E.
of S. chapel, (8) to John Woodcock, 1705. Piscina:
In S. chapel—in S. wall, with damaged sex-foiled
drain, chamfered jambs and four-centred head,
15th-century. Plate: includes cup of 1620, dated
1621; two large flagons of 1697, dated 1697;
alms-dish of 1700, dated 1701, and two stand-patens
of 1707, dated 1707.
Condition—Good, much re-built and restored.
(3) Guy Harlings, house, 60 yards E. of the
cathedral, has been entirely re-built, but the modern
hall is lined with early 16th-century linen-fold
panelling; the frieze is carved with a variety
of men's heads and above one doorway is a shield
of arms, on a bend between three roundels a lion
passant impaling a cheveron engrailed.
The following monuments, unless otherwise
described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys,
timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled.
Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams
and original chimney-stacks.
Condition—Good, or fairly good.
(4). House, two tenements, on the E. side of
the street 50 yards N. of (3). The upper storey
projects in front.
(5). House, now two tenements, opposite (4).
Tindal Street, W. side
(6). Bell Hotel, 100 yards S. of the cathedral, is
of three storeys with attics. It has been refronted
with modern brick and otherwise much altered.
(7). Spotted Dog Inn, 40 yards S.E. of (6), is
of three storeys. The back wing was built probably
in the 15th or early in the 16th century. The
rear portion of the main block is of early 17th-century date but the front is entirely modern.
Inside the building the back wing has original
king-post roof trusses.
(8). House, two shops, S.E. of (7).
(9). Dolphin Inn, 40 yards S.E. of (8), was built
early in the 16th century, and has inside the
building original moulded ceiling-beams and joists,
some with foliated stops. On the first floor are
original cambered and chamfered tie-beams.
(10). House and outhouse, S.E. of (9). The
House, now a shop, with the Outhouse at the back
was built late in the 17th or early in the 18th
century. The house has been refronted with
(11). House, now two shops and gateway, S.E.
of (10), is of three storeys.
High Street, W. side
(12). House, now two shops, 330 yards S.S.E.
of the cathedral, is of three storeys with attics.
The walls are of brick. It was built probably
early in the 18th century, and has an original
modillioned eaves-cornice to part of the front. In
the roof are two dormer windows with segmental
(13). House and shop, 30 yards S.S.E. of (12)
and N. of the Queen's Head Inn, is of three storeys
and has a modern front. This with the Inn (re-built)
and (14) probably formed one building originally.
The upper storey projects on shaped brackets under
the covered entrance on the S. side.
(14). House and shop, S. of the Queen's Head
Inn, is of three storeys with a modern front.
Inside the building is an original staircase with
(15). House and shop, 10 yards S. of (14), is
of three storeys with attics, and has a modern
brick front. Inside the building is some original
panelling with a moulded cornice.
(16). House and two shops, 25 yards N. of the
old bridge, has a covered passage on the S. side
leading to Ormonde's Yard. This passage has
chamfered gate-posts with two original carved
consoles to the lintel.
(17). House and shop, 180 yards S.S.E. of the
cathedral, is of three storeys, with a modern brick
front and a narrow passage on the N. side..
(18). House and shop, S. of (17), has been re-built
in the 18th century except the back wing which
has a projecting upper storey on the N. side.
(19). House and three shops, 70 yards S.S.E.
of (18), was built in the 16th or early in the 17th
century, and has an 18th-century brick front with
a modillioned eaves-cornice.
(20). Cottage, at back of No. 24, High Street
and 15 yards E. of (19), has an original chimney-stack with three conjoined diagonal shafts.
(21). King's Head Hotel, 10 yards S. of Springfield Road, is of two storeys with attics and cellars.
It has remains of late 15th or early 16th-century
construction, a 17th-century addition at the back
and a modern brick front. The 17th-century
wing has a gable with moulded barge-boards.
Inside the building is an original fireplace with a
Chelmsford, Plan Shewing the Position of Monuments.
(22) House, two shops, 12 yards S. of (21), is of
three storeys, and was built early in the 16th
century. The upper storey originally projected
in front but has been much altered and faced
with modern brick. Inside the building, the N.
shop has richly moulded ceiling-beams and joists.
On the S. side is an original partition with some
re-used moulded joists and part of a doorway with
a four-centred head.
Moulsham Street, E. side
(23). House and four shops, 110 yards S.S.W.
of the old bridge, has a brick front.
(24). House, four tenements with two shops,
70 yards S.W. of (23), was built c. 1600.
(25). House, two tenements, 35 yards S.W. of
Hall Street. The upper storey projects in front.
(26). House and shop, 20 yards S.W. of (25),
has a projecting upper storey in front.
(27). House, 40 yards N.E. of Hamlet Road,
has been entirely re-built but has, set in front,
an oak panel with the inscription "Anno Domini
1579 A C: R I."
(28). The Friary (Plate p. 45), five tenements
and shops, at the N.E. corner of Friar's Place,
was built late in the 15th or early in the 16th
century. The gatehouse of the Dominican Friary
is said to have adjoined it on the S.W. The upper
storey projects in front and has in the southernmost bay an original moulded bressumer carved
with two bands of ornament, one of vines and one
of scrolled foliage. The S.W. side has an original
window with diamond-shaped mullions, now
blocked, and a 16th-century panelled door. Inside the building the southernmost shop has
moulded ceiling-beams and joists.
(29). House and two shops, at the S.W. corner
of Friar's Place.
(30). House and two shops, S.W. of (29), was
built probably early in the 16th century. Inside
the building is an original roof with king-post
(31). House and shop, 5 yards S.W. of (30).
(32). House and shop, 60 yards S.W. of (31),
has a back wing of early 16th-century date. The
front part was re-built probably late in the 17th
century. Inside the building the back wing has
an original moulded ceiling-beam.
(33). House and two shops, 50 yards S.W. of (32).
(34). House, S.W. of (33), was probably re-built
in the 18th century, but contains a considerable
quantity of mid 17th-century panelling, with
fluted pilasters and geometrical ornament.
(35). Bay Horse Inn, 80 yards S.W. of (34),
was built about the middle of the 16th century
on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending
towards the S.W. and N.W. The roof has tiebeams with curved braces and queen-posts.
(36). House and two shops, on the S. side of the
Baddow Road 125 yards S. of the old bridge,
was built in the 16th century. The western
part is a 17th-century addition. The upper storey
projects in front at two levels. Inside the building
is an original moulded ceiling-beam.