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Remains of church and churchyard, 80m south east of The Ryes

A Scheduled Monument in Little Henny, Essex

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Latitude: 52.0136 / 52°0'49"N

Longitude: 0.7104 / 0°42'37"E

OS Eastings: 586098.221737

OS Northings: 238492.16044

OS Grid: TL860384

Mapcode National: GBR QHQ.LFY

Mapcode Global: VHKF9.8NF6

Entry Name: Remains of church and churchyard, 80m south east of The Ryes

Scheduled Date: 5 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019664

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32439

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Little Henny

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Great and Little Henny

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes the remains of the church of Little Henny, which lies
on a ridge of high ground to the west of the Stour river valley. It is
situated some 80m to the south east of an early 19th century house called The
Ryes. The original manor house was sited to the east of the church close to
the Rye river from which it takes its name; successive lords of the manor held
the advowson of the church. The site of the manor house is not known for
certain and it is therefore not included in the scheduling.

The monument includes a rectangular church with external dimensions of some
16.5m by 7m, the walls of which survive to a maximum height of 1m. Although
apparently a single-celled structure, a projection of masonry at a point some
4.5m from the east end suggests that there was originally a dividing arch here
which would have effectively created a small chancel some 2.5m long
internally, with a nave some 11.5m long internally. The walls are
exceptionally thick, averaging about 1m, and built of mortared flint rubble
(with a few pieces of boulder and brown sandstone) and quoins of dressed
Barnack stone and sandstone. The use of Barnack stone and the form of the west
end buttresses suggest that the original church was built in the second half
of the 12th century.

In the 14th or 15th century the church was reconstructed by cutting off its
eastern portion with a new wall located just to the north of the chancel arch
and the erection of new walls upon the old foundations around the remainder of
the building. This created a slightly smaller church, some 12.5m by 7m
internally, without a dividing arch. The final destruction of the church
occurred in the late 16th or early 17th century, and excavation has shown this
to have been by fire, as the entire floor level was covered by a layer of
charcoal and at one point a charred rafter could be followed for some length.

Documentary sources record that the manor was held in 1234 by Gilbert Mauduit,
and that it had passed before 1268 to John de Ry. In the early 18th century
the church had long since been demolished and the parishioners had to use
Great Henny Church, paying the minister and churchwardens of that parish
three pounds per year for its use.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and
containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for
Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on
Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated
into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in
its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and
are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides
accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the
priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes
provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional
altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west
end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon
and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish
churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south
or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation
were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were
rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of
the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little
fabric of the first church being still easily visible.
Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the
density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed
settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest
clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of
1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New
churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to
around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches
have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for
their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later
population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour
and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are
identified to be nationally important.

The remains of the church and churchyard, 80m south east of The Ryes, will
graphically illustrate the church's demise from a small medieval church with
full parochial status to little more than a ruin by the 16th century, before
destruction by fire in the late 16th or early 17th century. This early
abandonment will have ensured that elements of the earliest church, dating
from the 12th century, will have survived particularly well. Archaeological
levels beneath the surviving fabric, and within the known area of churchyard
to the east, will contain archaeological information relating to the
rebuilding of the church in the 14th or 15th century, as well as environmental
evidence for the landscape in which they were constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Morant, P, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, (1768), 274-5
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, (1922), 168
'Essex Fines' in Essex Fines, (), 111
Fairweather, F H, 'Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society' in The Ruined Parish Church of Little Henny, , Vol. Vol.XX, (1933), 33-40
Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Card TL83NE01, (1950)
Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Card TL83NE01, (1976)
Tyler, S, MPP Film , (2000)

Source: Historic England

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