St Edmund, Abbess Roding, Essex

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Feature Sets (2)


Abbess Roding is one of a group of eight villages called Roding in the SW of the county, 8 miles E of Harlow and 9 miles W of Chelmsford.  The group is spread over a wide area, so that they lie in three separate boroughs (Chelmsford, Uttlesford and Epping Forest). Abbess Roding is in the Epping Forest district, and stands on the line of the Roman road from London to Bury St Edmund’s. The village is set in flat, mostly arable farmland, and consists of a few dwellings along a minor road, with the church and hall in the centre. The church consists of a nave and chancel with a W tower carrying a Hertfordshire spike.  There are N and S doorways to the nave, the S with a timber porch, and the N used as the entrance to a vestry built around it.  The nave was rebuilt in the 14thc and the chancel in the 15thc.  In the 19thc the church was restored and the tower and vestry added. The only Romanesque feature is the font.


Abbess Roding was held in 1066 by Leofhild as a manor and as 3 virgates, and in 1086 by Geoffrey Martel from Geoffrey de Mandeville. Domesday records that the manor also included woodland for 40 pigs and 15 acres of meadow.  The hundred testified, however, that the land was possessed by the Abbey of Barking, which soon regained it and held it until the Dissolution. The abbey also held the church and its advowson until the Dissolution.





The font stands at the W end of the nave.  The clunch bowl is rectangular with a round basin lined with lead.  It is in a poor state of repair and has been stabilised by cementing it to a thin stone slab and surrounding it with an iron clamp.  There are vertical cracks on the W and N faces that have been repaired with iron staples, and damage to the rim in the centre of the S face has been partly repaired with tiles.  Other mortar repairs are visible in the photographs.

Each face of the bowl has a relief design surrounded by a plain frame (described below. The bowl stands on four slender cylindrical shafts at the angles and a central thick cylinder.  These are all modern, but stand on a 12thc square stone plinth with an upper angle roll.  The chamfered step is modern.

Height of bowl 0.39m
Height of font (without step) 0.94m
Internal diameter of bowl 0.57m
Width of bowl (EW) 0.74m
Width of bowl (NS) 0.73m
E face

A pair of large compass-drawn 6-petalled daisies side by side. Between them at centre top and bottom are two double 5-petalled daisies, and in the corners are four quatrefoils.

N face

A pair of intersecting, sinuous stems issuing from a single branch at the lower right  and foliated with trilobed leaves.

S face

A pair of large ten-petalled daisies with pointed petals like rays. In the cenre of each is a double 5-petalled daisy, and on the vertical axis between them is a flat disc above another carved with a spiral design.

W face

A symmetrical design of curving stems liberally foliated with five-lobed leaves.


Pevsner (1954) dates the font to the late 12thc and identifies the flat disc above the spiral on the S face as the sun. Bettley and Pevsner (2007) accept the late 12thc date and compare it to fonts at Little Laver and Fryerning, which are both by the same workshop and share many motifs. Similar motifs also appear on the Purbeck font at Moreton.


  • J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 85-86.

  • J. Cooper, The Church Dedications and Saints’ Cults of Medieval Essex, Lancaster 2011, 157.

  • English Heriatge Listed Building 118285.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, Harmondsworth 1954, 51.

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2: Central and South West (1921), 1-2.

  • Victoria County History: Essex IV (1956), 190-95.

Exterior from SE
Interior to E


Site Location
Abbess Roding
National Grid Reference
TL 571 114 
now: Essex
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Essex
medieval: London
now: Chelmsford
now: St Edmund
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ann Hilder, Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
07 December 2013