34. GREAT CLACTON. (F.d.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxxviii. S.E. (b)xlviii. N.E.)
Great Clacton is a parish, village and seaside town
12½ m. S.E. of Colchester. The church is the
b(1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist
(Plate, p. 114) stands in the village of Great
Clacton. The walls are of septaria and mixed
rubble; the dressings are of limestone and Roman
brick; the roofs are tiled. The Chancel and Nave
were built about the middle of the 12th century
when the nave had a stone vault, removed at some
uncertain period. The chancel was altered and
partly refaced in the 14th century. The West
Tower was added in the 15th century; it was
either never completed or the top stage was
subsequently removed and is now replaced by a
timber bell-chamber. The church was restored
in the 19th century when the N. Organ Chamber
with its arcade were built.
Great Clacton. The Parish Church of St John the Baptist.
The church is extremely interesting from the
remains of its unusual system of vaulting, very
similar to that at Copford. The N. and S. doorways
have good 12th-century detail.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (38¾ ft.
by 24 ft.) has in the E. wall two modern windows
and a modern round window above them. The
N. wall has a modern arcade. The S. wall is of
a curious tapering plan, the inside being 12th-century work and the outside face probably a
14th-century repair; in the wall are three windows,
the two eastern have 12th-century shafts with
scalloped capitals to the splays, probably reused
material or a 12th-century alteration to the
original design which is represented by the lower
part of the western splay-shafts of two former
windows set higher in the wall and with a recessed
order of Roman brick; the eastern of the later
windows has two 14th-century trefoiled lights
with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the
western window has a modern filling; further W.
is a third window of the 15th century and of a
single cinquefoiled light set low in the wall. E. of
the modern window is a square label of the 15th
century, but with no traces of a doorway below it.
The chancel-arch is modern but springs from the
original wide 12th-century responds with Roman
brick quoins and chamfered imposts.
The Nave (56 ft. by 24½ ft.) is entirely of mid
12th-century date and is of three bays divided by
wide pilaster buttresses with Roman brick quoins
and partly restored. Corresponding with these
buttresses, internally, are wide pilaster responds
from which sprang the wide transverse ribs of the
main vault; the grooved and chamfered imposts
and springers remain on the eastern responds on
both sides. Each bay had apparently round crossvaults groined into the main structure and the
marks of these are visible in the E. bay of the
S. wall. In the N. wall are three round-headed
windows, all entirely restored externally and with
plastered internal splays and rear-arches; below
the middle one is the 12th-century N. doorway
(Plate, p. 115) with a round arch of three orders;
the two outer are roll-moulded and the inner
encloses a brick tympanum with a plain lintel
below it; the jambs have each two detached shafts,
the outer plain, with a cushion capital and the
inner diapered on one jamb and cable moulded
on the other; the inner capitals are scalloped;
the doorway has a few modern stones and the outer
shaft and capital on the E. are modern; the doorway is set in a recess of which the head is carved
with partly restored diaper ornament. In the
W. bay of the N. wall is a 12th-century doorway
to a turret staircase, with a stone lintel enriched
with diaper ornament and a round arch of Roman
brick enclosing a plain tympanum; the staircase
probably led formerly to the space above the vault,
but now communicates with the tower. In the
S. wall are two windows similar to those on the N.;
the S. doorway between them is similar to the
N. doorway but the shafts are all plain and the work
has been more restored; the head of the recess
is similar to that on the N. side. At the W. end
of the nave is the framework of a former bellturret, consisting of two tie-beams supporting
uprights; it is of 16th or 17th-century date.
The West Tower (13 ft. by 12 ft.) is of three
stages, including the modern timber bell-chamber;
the two lower stages are of the 15th century. The
two-centred tower-arch is of two orders, the outer
moulded and continuous and the inner chamfered
and resting on attached shafts with moulded
capitals and bases. The W. window is of three
cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the W.
doorway has moulded jambs, two-centred arch and
label. The second stage has in the N., S. and W.
walls an opening of one trefoiled light; the heads
of the N. and W. lights are modern.
Fittings—Bells: five; 4th and 5th by Miles
Graye, 1649. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to
Larry Roris, 1648; (2) to Phillip Gardiner, 1704;
(3) to Joseph Long, minister of the parish, and Ann,
his wife, 1660. Font (Plate, p. xxxiv): octagonal
bowl with panelled sides carved with three seated
figures and two angels holding shields bearing the
arms of the Trinity and a cross, 15th-century.
Piscina: In chancel—in E. splay of S.E. window,
with two pointed heads, octofoiled drain, 14th-century. Royal Arms: In nave—on W. wall, of
Queen Anne after the Union, on canvas. Sedile:
In chancel—sill of S.E. window carried down low
to form seat.
Condition—Good, except roof of nave.
b(2). Ship Inn, 120 yards S.S.W. of the parish
church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and
plastered; the roofs are tiled; it was built early
in the 16th century and has a cross-wing in the
middle; the E. part of the house is probably an
addition. The upper storey projects on the
original part of the N. front and has a moulded
bressumer to the cross-wing. Inside the building
are original moulded ceiling-beams.
b(3). Cottage, 400 yards S.E. of the parish
church, is of one storey with attics, timber-framed
and weather-boarded; the roofs are thatched.
It was built in the 17th century and has rough
a(4). Cann Hall, house, nearly ¾ m. W.N.W.
of the parish church, is of two storeys, timberframed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It
was built probably late in the 16th century. The
upper storey projects on the S. front. Inside the
building are some exposed ceiling-beams
b(5). Foundations, in garden of Church Hall,
N. of the church. Rubble foundations of uncertain
character were dug up during the autumn of 1921.