25. FAIRSTED. (G.a.)
(O.S. 6 in. axxxiv. S.W. bxxxiv. S.E.)
Fairsted is a small parish 4 miles S. of Braintree.
The church is the only important monument.
a(1). Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin
stands about the middle of the parish. The walls
are of flint and pebble rubble; the dressings are
mostly of limestone and clunch, with some brick,
partly Roman; the roofs are tiled. The Nave and
the western half of the Chancel were built late in
the 11th century. The shortness of the original
chancel seems to imply the former existence of an
apse. The West Tower was added c. 1200, and
c. 1230 the chancel was lengthened towards the E.
In the 15th century the North Porch was built.
Probably early in the 17th century the spire was
added. The church has been restored during the
The church is interesting from its early date,
and the paintings are noteworthy.
The Church, Plan
Architectural Description—The Chancel (30 ft.
by 16¼ ft.) has, near the middle of each side wall,
the quoins of Roman brick of the 11th-century
chancel. In the E. wall are three 13th-century
lancet windows, partly restored; the middle one
is set high in the wall above an internal recess
or reredos. (See Fittings.) In the N. wall are three
lancet windows similar in date and detail to those
in the E. wall. In the S. wall are three windows
similar to those in the N. wall, but much restored;
further W. is a 13th-century 'low-side' window,
with a two-centred head; it is now blocked and
has been much restored; between the two eastern
windows is a modern doorway, and between the
westernmost window and the 'low-side' is a
late 16th-century doorway, now blocked, with
jambs and two-centred arch of brick. The 11th-century chancel-arch has square plastered responds
with chamfered imposts to the E. angles, and a
semi-circular arch, of which the voussoirs of Roman
brick have been exposed on the E. face.
The Nave (30½ ft. by 19 ft.) has quoins of Roman
brick. In the N. wall are two windows; the
eastern is modern, except for the 15th-century
splays and segmental rear-arch; the western
window is of c. 1100, and of one light with plastered
jambs and semi-circular head; below it is the
N. doorway, probably of the 14th century; it
has jambs of two chamfered orders and a two-centred arch of two hollow-chamfered orders, and
is fitted with a modern frame. Towards the E.
end of the S. wall is a 17th-century buttress of
brick with crow-stepped offsets; in the S. wall
are two windows uniform with those in the N.
wall; below the western window is the early 13th-century S. doorway, now blocked; it has chamfered
jambs and two-centred arch with a moulded label,
and is set in a wider doorway of c. 1100, with a
semi-circular arch of Roman bricks.
The West Tower (about 14 ft. square) is of three
stages with brick quoins and divided by stringcourses of brick; it is surmounted by an octagonal
broach spire of timber covered with shingles. The
tower-arch has square responds and semi-circular
arch, all plastered; above it is a 'bull's-eye'
window of doubtful date. The N., S. and W. walls
have each an early 13th-century lancet window
with jambs and head of brick; the early 13th-century W. doorway, much restored, has a two-centred arch of two chamfered orders; the outer
order of each jamb has a modern detached shaft
with a much weathered foliated capital. The
bell-chamber has, in the N., S. and W. walls, a
13th-century lancet with brick jambs and a 17th-century brick head, except the S. window, which has
a stone head. The Spire is probably of c. 1600,
and is timber-framed with shaped wall-posts,
carried down within the walls of the bell-chamber,
and curved braces.
The North Porch is of the 15th century, timber-framed and of two bays. The outer archway
is four-centred and is flanked by rectangular
windows. The E. and W. walls have each plain
openings to the N. bay with the mortices of former
mullions; the rest of both walls is weather-boarded.
The Roof of the nave has three cambered tiebeams, probably of the 17th century. The ground
storey of the tower has old ceiling-beams. The
15th-century roof of the N. porch has a cambered
tie-beam with curved braces.
Fittings—Bells: four; 3rd by Peter de Weston,
14th-century, inscribed "Vocor Johanes" with
the founder's name; 4th by Richard Bowler, 1601.
Chest: In tower—iron-bound 'dug-out' with
lid in two sections, possibly 13th-century. Communion-Table: With twisted legs, possibly late
17th-century. In vestry—table with turned legs,
carved top rails and moulded lower rails, early
17th-century. Consecration Crosses: In nave—
seven, three on the N. and four on the S. wall,
two on each wall of Latin type and later date
than the rest, these probably replaced the three
earlier which are of formy form, all in red
colour. Monuments: In chancel—on S. wall,
(1) to Joshua Blower, the elder, 1694, rector of
the parish, slate tablet; (2) to Elizabeth (Oliver),
second wife of Joshua Blower, 1656, slate tablet.
Paintings: In nave—above chancel-arch, in
four tiers, in apex of roof apparently a firmament,
much damaged; second tier, apparently scenes
from the Passion including a Last Supper, the
rest almost obliterated; in the third tier, possibly
a Doom; in the fourth tier, a row of figures much
damaged, and only two now distinct, 13th-century.
On N. wall, short length of blue, red and white
border. On S. wall, black letter inscription, injunction to pray for King James I. and the royal family,
traces of border, early 17th-century; higher up
on wall, traces of a row of figures, and below them
a band of ornament; near W. end, head of man
with cap, all 13th or 14th-century. On W.
wall, N. of tower-arch, illegible inscription in
ornamental frame, early 17th-century. Piscina:
In chancel—with hollow-chamfered jambs and
segmental head, c. 1240, basin cut back. Plate:
Includes a pewter flagon, possibly of the 17th-century. Recess: In chancel—below middle window
in E. wall and of same width, with chamfered
jambs and trefoiled head, sill about 2 ft. above
sills of windows on each side, 13th-century.
Reredos: In nave—N. of chancel-arch, wall cut
back and recess returned the same distance along
N. wall of nave, both with remains of ornamental
ribbed vault with bosses, front cut back to face
of wall, late 15th or early 16th-century. Seating:
In nave and tower—14 benches with moulded top
rails, panelled bench-ends mostly with linen-fold
ornament; panelling against walls, early 16th-century. Sedilia: In chancel—two with chamfered
jambs and two-centred heads with moulded labels
and imposts, middle pier finished with an
octagonal shaft having a moulded base and resting on a bracket with mask-stop corbel, c. 1240,
back of W. bay cut away to form modern
Condition—Good, except for some cracks in
the walls, tower secured with iron ties.
a(2). Homestead Moat at Dines Hall, 1 m.
N.W. of the church. The island was formerly
divided by a cross-arm.
a(3). Beauchamp Farm, house and moat, about
¼ m. N.W. of the church. The House is of two
storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs
are tiled. It was built in the 15th century with a
central Hall and wings at the N. and S. ends.
The N. wing has been destroyed. The upper
storey projects and is gabled at the S. end of the
E. front. The 17th-century central chimney-stack
stands on a square base. Inside the building both
storeys have chamfered ceiling-beams and joists.
On the ground floor is an old door.
The Moat is imperfect.
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 have original chimneystacks, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—When not specially mentioned, good,
or fairly good.
a(4). Phoenix, house, 700 yards S.W. of the
church, with a modern addition on the N. side.
a(5). Cottage, on the S.W. side of Fuller Street,
nearly 1½ m. W.S.W. of the church, with modern
additions on the W. and N. The original central
chimney-stack has two attached shafts, set
a(6). High Hall, cottage, nearly 1¼ m. W.N.W.
of the church, has an original central chimney-stack with two attached shafts, set diagonally.
a(7). Cottage, on the N. side of the road at Ranks
Green, about 1½ m. N.W. of the church, with 18th-century or modern additions at the E. end.
a(8). Great Walley Hall, house, now two tenements, and barn, almost 1 m. N.N.W. of the church.
The House is of T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the E. end; there is a modern addition at
the N. end of the cross-wing, and the walls are now
The Barn, S.W. of the house, is of five bays
with aisles. It was built in the 15th century,
and has weather-boarded walls and a roof of the
(9). Great Troys, house, now two tenements,
about ½ m. E.N.E. of the church. It was built in
the 15th century with a central Hall and crosswings at the N. and S. ends. Late in the 16th or
early in the 17th century the Hall was divided into
two storeys and a chimney-stack inserted. There
are modern additions on the N. and E. sides.
On the W. front the upper storey of the original
wings projects and is gabled; under the northern
projection are three curved brackets. Inside the
building, between the former Hall and the S. wing,
is a blocked opening with a four-centred head,
now papered over. The roofs of both wings have
original tie-beams with curved braces, but the
upper parts are ceiled in. At the head of a staircase in the N. wing are some late 17th-century