Felsted is a substantial village in the Uttlesford district of central Essex. It is 11 miles E of Bishops Stortford and 6 miles W of Braintree; the centre grouped around a junction of the B1417. Despite its village status it boasts a large II* listed house of 1596 (Boote House), two public houses and the church described below.
The church stands at the crossroads in the centre of Felsted, and consists of a chancel with a S chapel and organ room, and a N vestry; an aisled nave with S porch and a W tower. To the N of the nave and connected to it by the N doorway is Smylie Hall built in 2014-15; a large church room complex. The church is 12thc in origin, with an early 12thc W tower, a late-12thc S aisle, and a 14thc N aisle and clerestorey. The chancel was rebuilt in the 14thc, and the porch added in the 15thc. The S chapel was built to house the tomb of Richard, 1st Baron Rich (d.1567) Lord Chancellor of England from 1547-51, and his son Robert. The church is of flint and rubble with brick and tile and stone dressings, except for the Rich chapel which is of clunch ashlar. Romanesque features described here are the S nave arcade, the tower arch, and the S and W doorways.
Felsted was held by Earl Aelfgar before the Conquest as a manor of 5 hides, and in 1086 it was held by the Abbey of La Trinité of Caen as 4 hides. The missing hide was given by King William to Roger God-save-the-ladies and Gilbert fitzSalomon. Both men had other holdings in Felsted to which these gifts were added.
|Height of opening||2.905 m|
|Width of opening||1.703 m|
Plain and continuous.
Detached nook-shafts on worn bulbous bases carrying waterleaf capitals with plain neckings and imposts with an undercut hollow below the face. The arch is plain and unmoulded.
|Height of recessed lunette of tympanum||0.50 m|
|Overall height of tympanum||0.82 m|
|Overall width of tympanum||1.46 m|
|Width of recessed section of tympanum||1.07 m|
|Height of opening (without step)||2.14 m|
|Width of opening||1.07 m|
The detached, en-delit nook-shafts on single-roll toroidal bases are modern replacements as are the neckings of the capitals. The capitals themselves are original badly eroded cushions, The S impost is original too and is chamfered with a tall face having a low half-roll towards the bottom. The N impost is a plain chamfered modern replacement. The arch is an unusual 2-row chevron design with the inner row frontal to the face and the outer lateral and centrifugal. Only 6 of the voussoirs are original but enough remains of them to show that this was the intended design.
The jambs presumably as the 2nd order originally but nook-shafts, capitals and bases are all lost and the entire N jamb and the lower part of the S are rebuilt in plain ashlar blocks. Imposts are eroded with all detail of their form lost. The arch is entirely original but catastrophically eroded. What remains shows that it had 2 rows of quirked chevron, probably as the 2nd order.
There is a deep, heavy label but its stones are so badly eroded that its form cannot be described with any certainty.
Plain ashlar responds carrying an ashlar impost, chamfered with a tall face having a low half-roll towards the bottom. The arch is of brick, exposed on the angle and the E and W faces, with a modern raised decoration of circular cusping on the soffit, partly covering the bricks.
En-delit nook-shafts in sections carrying capitals with plain roll neckings. The S capital is a cushion with an angle tuck in which is a triangular wedge. The shields are decorated with concentric half-circles in low relief.
The N capital is a plain double scallop with an angle tuck. Both have plain neckings and the imposts are as the 1st order. The arch has an angle roll and face hollow and outside it on the face is a modern raised nebuly border.
The pier is circular and the capital square with volutes at the angles and a row of upright oblong leaves with raised spines on each face. The necking is plain and circular, and the impost has a hollow between two rolls, the upper roll overhanging.
The pier, necking, capital and impost are all octagonal in plan. Each face of the cpital is decorated with a row of 3 zigzags above the plain necking with a taller unit of zigzag at each angle. Above that on each face are 2 sprigs of stiffleaf. The impost has a quadrant hollow overhung by an angle roll on the face.
The capital and impost are circular on a circular pier. The slightly concave bell is decorated with a row of inverted horseshoe shaped leaves enclosing pellets. The necking is plain and the impost is similar in profile to that of pier 2.
J. Cooper, The Church Dedications and Saints’ Cults of Medieval Essex, Lancaster 2011, 132.
J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 354-55.
Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID: 122542
RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2: Central and South West (1921), 73-74.