31. GREAT BENTLEY. (E.d.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxix. S.W. (b)xxxviii. N.W.)
Great Bentley is a parish and village 3½ m.
N.N.E. of Brightlingsea. The church is interesting.
b(1). Parish Church of St. Mary (Plate, p. 108)
stands in the village. The walls are of very
regularly coursed iron pudding-stone, largely laid
herring-bone-wise and of small stones; there are
some courses of septaria; the quoins and dressings
of the doorways are of Barnack stone but the
original windows have pudding-stone jambs and
heads. The extension of the chancel contains a
larger proportion of septaria. The tower is of the
same materials with much brick and a certain
amount of water-worn granite, trap and other
igneous stones. The roofs are tiled. The Chancel
and Nave are of c. 1130–40. The chancel was
extended towards the E. probably in the 14th
century. Late in the same century the West Tower
was added. The North Porch was built in the
14th or 15th century. The church was restored
in the 19th and 20th centuries; the chancel-arch
is modern and the N. porch mostly rebuilt.
The church is a very complete example of careful
Architectural Description—The Chancel (36 ft.
by 20¾ ft.) has an E. window, modern except the
splays which are possibly of the 14th century.
The quoins of the E. angles are reused 12th-century material. In the N. wall are two windows,
the eastern is a mid 13th-century lancet with wide
splays; the western is an early 12th-century
window of pudding-stone, but with ashlar splays
and rear-arch. In the S. wall are three windows,
the easternmost is a very small 15th-century
cinquefoiled light, above the piscina; the two
western windows are 13th-century single lights,
with modern trefoiled heads and all modern
externally; above the westernmost window are
traces of the head of a former 12th-century
window; between the two western windows is a
doorway, all modern except one stone of the label.
The chancel-arch is modern.
The Nave (54 ft. by 24½ ft.) has in the N. wall
three windows, the eastern is of the 15th century
and of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical
tracery in a two-centred head, with a moulded
label and head-stops; in the E. splay is a doorway
with a four-centred head, to the rood-loft staircase; the two lowest steps are cut in the sill of
the window; the stair is set in a thickening of the
wall, with a tabled top; the two western windows
are of the 12th century and similar to that in the
chancel; the westernmost is very much restored;
between them is the 12th-century N. doorway,
with plain jambs and round arch, each voussoir
of which has axe-worked diapering; the impost
stones have a boldly projecting volute worked on
the inner face of each. In the S. wall are three
windows, the easternmost is of the 15th century
and of three cinquefoiled lights with vertical
tracery in a four-centred head; the two western
windows are uniform with the corresponding windows in the N. wall; between them is the 12th-century S. doorway, with a round arch carved
with cheveron ornament and a label with cable
ornament, and terminating on the E. in an upright
grotesque head; the inner order has a segmental
arch supporting a tympanum and with each voussoir
carved with two sunflowers; the jambs have each
a free shaft with cushion capitals carved with leaf
ornament, moulded bases and chamfered abaci
continued round the plain inner order.
The West Tower (12 ft. by 10¾ ft.) is of late
14th-century date and of three stages, with an
embattled parapet. The two-centred tower-arch
is cemented and of uncertain date. The W. window is modern except for the head, label and
head-stops; the W. doorway has double hollowchamfered jambs and two-centred arch with a
moulded label; the hollow-chamfers of the head
have a series of carved square flowers. The second
stage has in the N., S. and W. walls a pointed
window of brick. In the E. wall is a four-centred
doorway of brick now appearing in the nave above
the collar-beams. The bell-chamber has in each
wall a window of two cinquefoiled lights with a
quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded
label and head-stops; the N. and W. windows are
mostly modern and the other windows partly
restored; above the E. and N. windows is a cross
in brickwork, and W. of the S. window is set a
round stone bored through.
The North Porch is of timber on modern dwarf
walls; the old timbers are of the 14th or 15th
century and include the inner pair of posts, curved
outwards at the top and the hollow-chamfered
plates with the mortices for diamond-shaped
mullions now replaced by modern work.
The Roof of the Chancel has moulded 15th-century plates (now  being opened out).
The early 15th-century roof of the nave is of trussed-rafter type and of four bays with curved and
chamfered principals, with moulded and formerly
embattled wall-plates and moulded wall-posts.
Great Bentley, the Parish Church of St Mary.
Fittings— Bells: eight; 6th by Miles Graye,
1683; 7th by Henry Pleasant, 1703. Chest:
In tower—with cambered lid and iron straps, chest
covered with skin, late 17th-century. Coffin-lid:
In nave—upper half of tapering slab with hollowchamfered edge and remains of formy cross, 13th-century. Font: octagonal bowl with doubletrefoiled panels and shields alternately, three
shields with traces of crosses, moulded under-edge
with carved flowers, stem with plain pointed
panels, 15th-century. Niches: In chancel—
flanking E. window, two with hollow-chamfered
jambs carved with flowers, ogee crocketed heads
and finials, carved spandrels, side pinnacles and
embattled head, late 14th-century, head of N.
niche, modern. Paving: In chancel floor, nine
slip-tiles with various patterns, including a greyhound, and a stag, late 13th or early 14th-century.
Piscinae: In chancel—with chamfered jambs and
two-centred head, quatrefoiled drain, 14th-century.
In nave—in S. wall, with chamfered jambs and
trefoiled head, remains of colour, 15th-century.
Plate: includes cover-paten without date mark
and a pewter flagon perhaps of early 18th-century
date. Scratchings: On font and W. doorway,
date and other marks, 17th-century; on E. jamb
of S. doorway, two sundials. Stoup: In nave—
W. of S. doorway, recess for former stoup.
a(2). Parsonage Farm, house, barn and moat,
¾ m. N.N.E. of the church. The House is of
two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the
roofs are tiled. It was built probably in the
17th century and has cross-wings at the N. and
S. ends. Inside the building the main block has
exposed ceiling-beams and joists.
The Barn, E. of the house, is timber-framed and
weather-boarded. It was built in the 16th century
and is of four bays with a porch on the N. side.
The Moat is fragmentary.
Condition—Of house, good.
The following monuments, unless otherwise
described, are of the 17th century and of two
storeys, timber-framed and plastered or weather
boarded; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Many
of the buildings have original chimney-stacks
and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, or fairly good.
a(3). Crabtree Farm, house, nearly 1¼ m. N. of
the church, with large modern additions.
b(4). House, two tenements, at Green Corner,
500 yards N.N.E. of the church. The front half
is probably part of a 16th-century house; the
back half is modern.
b(5). House, two tenements, standing back
from the road, 250 yards S.S.W. of (4), built
probably late in the 16th century.
b(6). House, 100 yards E. of the church, with
walls of red brick.
b(7). House, adjoining (6) on the W., built
probably in the 16th century. Inside the building
some of the timber-framing is exposed.
b(8). House, called the Poplars, 300 yards N.E.
of the church, has been refronted with modern
b(9). Eden's Farm, house, nearly 1 m. E. of
the church, was built probably late in the 16th
century with a cross-wing at the E. end. There is a
modern addition on the N. side. The gable of the
cross-wing has the date 1717 probably indicating
b(10). Tye Homestead, house, two tenements,
nearly 1½ m. E.S.E. of the church.
b(11). Moat and Fish Pond in Hall Field, S. of