30. GREAT CANFIELD. (D.a.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxxii. N.W. (a)xxxii. N.E.)
Great Canfield is a parish 3½ m. S.W. of Great
Dunmow. The Church and Castle are the principal
b(1). Parish Church of St. Mary stands N.W.
of the Castle on the S.E. side of the parish. The
walls are of flint-rubble, partly coursed and set
diagonally in the 12th-century work and mixed
with some Roman bricks; the 12th-century
quoins are apparently of Barnack stone; the
roofs are tiled.
The Church, Plan
The Chancel and Nave were built in the first
half of the 12th century. Later, probably in the
13th century, the nave was lengthened about 11 ft.
towards the W., perhaps to accommodate a bell-turret. The South Porch was added in the 15th
century; the North Vestry is modern.
The church is a good example of 12th-century
work with important remains of wall-paintings
and an interesting piece of pre-conquest sculpture.
The Chancel (26 ft. by 21 ft.) has in the E.
wall two round-headed windows separated internally by a round-headed recess, all of the 12th
century (Plate p. 93). In the N. wall are two
round-headed windows of the same date. In the
S. wall are two windows; the eastern is a lancet
probably of the 13th century, partly restored;
the western is modern except for the splays and
square head, which are probably of the 15th
century; between the windows is a doorway
with chamfered jambs and two-centred head,
double-chamfered label and round rear-arch,
probably of the 13th century. The round chancel
arch (Plate p. 93) is of the 12th century, partly
restored; it has a moulded edge and double billeted
label, and the responds have attached shafts
with moulded bases and modern capitals with
double-chamfered abaci, partly restored; in the
S. respond is a small sinking, probably connected
with the former rood-loft; above the arch is a
modern bulls-eye piercing. The N. impost is
re-used material and has on the upper face Anglo-Danish carving of early 11th-century date. Most
of the subject is covered by the 12th-century
masonry, but the lower part, probably of a
conventionalized beast, is uncovered.
The Nave (62 ft. by 24 ft.) has in the N. wall
two windows; the eastern is of the 14th century
and of two trefoiled and sub-cusped ogee lights
with tracery under a square head; the segmental-pointed rear-arch has a moulded label with headstops, one representing a man, the other defaced;
in the window-ledge are cut three steps of a former
winding stair to the rood-loft; the western window
is round-headed and of the 12th century; further W.
is the 12th-century N. doorway (Plate p. xxxi); the
jambs have attached angle-shafts covered with incised chevron fluting, and having cushion capitals
with zig-zag carving on the under slopes and moulded
bases with spur-ornaments; the semi-circular arch
is moulded and has a modern tympanum. In
the S. wall are three windows; the easternmost
is a lancet probably of the 13th century, restored;
the second is of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical
tracery in a square head with a flat segmental
rear-arch, of the 15th century restored; the
westernmost is a 13th-century lancet, restored.
W. of the second window is the 12th-century S.
doorway (Plate p. 93), similar to the N. doorway
but with more elaborate detail; the cushion
capitals are each carved with a mask, the eastern
with pelleted ribbons issuing from the mouth, the
western with two birds pecking the beard; in
the reveal next the W. capital are incised
squares with the swastika; the chamfered abaci
have on their vertical faces incised zig-zag ornament; the moulded arch has a double billeted
label and a tympanum carved with zig-zag
ornament in con-centric semi-circles and enclosed
by a cable-border. In the W. wall is a modern
window. The bell-turret and framework in the
W. part of the nave is probably partly of the
15th century; the oak framing consists of four
posts with tie-beams and struts, and supports a
timber bell-turret covered with modern boarding
and having pointed lights in the N., S. and W.
The 15th-century South Porch has a moulded
plinth and an embattled parapet with a moulded
string-course and containing in the middle of the
S. side a cinque-foiled niche with a square head;
the entrance archway has a two-centred arch in a
square head with a moulded label and quatre-foiled
spandrels each with a blank shield; the moulded
jambs have each an attached shaft with a moulded
capital and base; in each side-wall is a window
of two trefoiled lights, flanked internally by trefoiled panels with moulded jambs and head.
The Roof of the chancel is probably of the
15th century; it is of two bays with a moulded
wall-plate, partly modern, and a moulded and
cambered tie-beam. The roof of the nave has
moulded wall-plates, three rough tie-beams and
trussed rafters of 14th or 15th-century date.
The 15th-century roof of the S. porch has moulded
and embattled wall-plates and moulded main
timbers, partly restored.
Fittings—Bells: said to be three; 1st by Miles
Gray, 1634; 2nd possibly by John Dier, 16th-century; 3rd by John Hodson, 1664. Brasses:
In chancel—on floor, (1) of John Wyseman, auditor
"of the revenue of his crown," to Henry VIII.
and of Agnes, his wife, 1558; figures of man in
armour, and woman, both kneeling before prayerdesks; behind them, figures of four sons and six
daughters; four shields of arms; (2) of Thomas
Fytche and Agnes (Wyseman), his wife, 1588;
figures of man in armour, woman, three sons and
three daughters. Chest: (Plate p. xxxiii) In vestry
—deal, of hutch type, lids and front with reeded
mouldings, 17th-century. Coffin-lid: In church-yard—S. of nave, with double chamfered edges,
broken. Consecration Cross: See Paintings.
Monument and Floor-slabs. Monument: In nave
—on S. wall, of Sir William Wyseman, Bart.,
1684, and Anne (Prescott), his wife, 1662; tablet
with half-length figures of man and woman
flanked by Ionic columns supporting entablature
and segmental pediment with a cartouche of arms.
Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to Elizabeth (Wiseman), wife of Robert Tyderlegh, 1654; (2) to
Elizabeth (Capell), wife of Sir William Wiseman,
Bart., 1660, with lozenge of arms; (3) to Anne,
Lady Wyseman, 1662, with shield of arms. Niche:
See under South Porch. Paintings: In chancel—
on E. wall, in arched recess between the windows
(Plate p. 93), figure of the Blessed Virgin suckling
the Child, who is seated on her lap; she is crowned
and wears a full red cloak over a girdled gown,
and is seated on a stone throne with fluted cornice
and raised on a dais of two steps, the upper with
rounded edge and fluted riser; the recess has below
the dais a border with running foliage pattern;
the edge of the arch has painted foliage, and below
the figure are masonry lines and a formy consecration cross in white on a red circle. The windows
flanking the recess have their arches outlined with
a band of stiff foliage and, on the N., with a
masoned pattern, on the S. with zig-zag pattern;
the splayed soffits have large red and yellow foliage
designs and radiating masonry lines; the imposts
are indicated by bands of foliage; the splays
and most of the E. wall have painted masonry
lines, restored. The central group is little restored
and is good work of late 12th or early 13th-century
date. Plate: includes a cup and paten of 1577.
Sedile: the window-ledge of the S.E. window of the
chancel is set low to form a sedile. Stoup: In
nave—externally in wall W. of N. doorway, part
of a rough basin hollowed out of the front of the
jamb. Miscellanea: built into N. wall of nave,
cushion capital of attached shaft, 12th-century.
b(2). Canfield Castle (Plan p. 92) (mount and
bailey), a few yards S.E. of the church, is situated
on low ground close to the River Roding.
The work is worthy of note as a well-preserved
example of the mount and bailey type of earthwork.
The origin of the work is doubtful, but it was
possibly one of the castles of the de Veres, Earls
The plan consists of a large moated mount,
with a horse-shoe shaped bailey on the S. side,
and traces of a weaker enclosure on the W. The
moats surrounding the mount and bailey are fed
by a small stream which could, in dry seasons, be
reinforced by closing the dam to the E. of the mount
and diverting water from the River Roding into
The mount (48 ft. high and 280 ft. in diameter
at the base from E. to W.) has a distinct berm,
about 10 ft. wide, upon the slope, but it does not
run round the moat at the same level. There is
no apparent entrance. On the summit is a small
mound. The encircling moat, now nearly dry,
varies considerably in width, but is generally
about 45 ft. wide at the bottom. The mount
is thickly planted and there is no trace of masonry
at the summit. The bailey to the S. of the mount,
covering, with its defences, about 7½ acres, was
originally enclosed within a double rampart and
ditch, but the outer ditch has disappeared, except
on the E. The inner rampart is about 10 ft. above
the interior level and 20 ft. above the bottom
of the ditch, which is 100 ft. wide from crest to
crest. On the E. the outer rampart is from 5 to
8 ft. above the ditch and 5 ft. above the exterior
level. The outer ditch is very slight. The entrance
to the bailey appears to have been at the N.E.
A ditch on the W. side leads into the moat
of the bailey but at a higher level. Another ditch,
parallel with the S. wall of the churchyard, communicates with the ditch of the mount, and a large
pond further to the W. may mark the site of the
W. arm of the enclosure.
Condition—Of mount and bailey, good; of
a(3). Homestead Moat, opposite (7), 1½ m.
N.W. of the church.
The following monuments, unless otherwise
described, are of the 17th century and of two
storeys, timber-framed and covered with plaster;
the roofs are tiled or thatched. Some of the
buildings have exposed ceiling-beams, wide fireplaces and original chimney-stacks.
Condition—Good, or fairly good, unless noted.
b(4). Barn, belonging to the Hall, 200 yards
W.S.W. of the church, is weather-boarded and of
seven bays divided by massive roof-trusses.
b(5). Marsh Farm, house, 1,100 yards W.S.W.
of the church, was built on a half H-shaped plan
with the wings extending towards the N.; the
wings have modern extensions, and the S. front
has been refaced. At the E. end of the S. front
is a gable. An original chimney-stack has grouped
b(6). Terriers, house, 1,400 yards W.N.W. of
the church, was built probably on a half H-shaped plan with the wings extending towards
the S., but the W. wing has been re-built, and there
are modern additions at the back.
b(7). Peckers, house, 1½ m. N.W. of the church,
was built probably in the 16th century with a
central Hall and a gabled cross-wing at the N.W.
and S.E. ends; the building has been largely
altered and extended at the back. On the N.E.
front the upper storey formerly projected at each
end but has been under-built. An original chimney-stack retains part of four octagonal shafts.
a(8). Sawkins, cottage, at Puttock's End, ½ m.
N.N.W. of (7), with modern additions at the back.
a(9). Great Canfield Park, house, 2¼ m. N.W.
of the church, incorporates a fragment of a house
built late in the 15th century; in the 17th century
a rectangular block was added on the S., and at the
back are 18th-century and modern extensions.
At the N. end of the original block the upper storey
projects. Inside the building in this block are
an original moulded wall-plate and ceiling-beam
and a door of 16th-century panelling; in the roof
is an original king-post with rebated and hollow-chamfered angles and with four-way struts. In
the 17th-century block is a door of panelling
contemporary with it.
b(10). Ashfield, house, ¾ m. N.N.W. of the church,
was built on a T-shaped plan with the cross-wing
at the W. end. The original chimney-stack has
grouped diagonal shafts.
b(11). Hobbs, house, 1 m. N.N.E. of the church,
was built probably late in the 16th century; at
the S. end is a modern addition. At the S. end
of the E. front the upper storey projects and is
gabled. Inside the building is a small piece of
b(12). Moated Enclosures, two adjoining each
other, S.W. of the Elms house, 1,500 yards N.N.E.
of the church, each about 250 ft. square; probably