St Andrew, Barnston, Essex

Feature Sets (2)


Barnston is a village in the west of Essex, 2 miles S of Great Dunmow and 9 miles NW of Chelmsford. The old village centre, around the church and Hall, is half a mile E of the compact, modern settlement. The church consists of a 12thc nave with a timber bell turret, probably 18thc, at the W end and a S doorway without a porch.  This is 12thc as are two round-headed lancets in the N wall, one blocked.  The chancel has no details earlier than the 13thc.  The exterior walls are rendered. Repairs undertaken in 1967-71 included the digging of a shingle-filled drain around the walls, but clearly this was not entirely successful as work was being undertaken on the drainage system in 1998.  The S doorway is the only Romanesque feature described here.


Barnston was held in 1066 by Wulfwine as a manor of 2 hides and 30 acres, and in 1086 by Hugh de Hugh de Bernières from Geoffrey de Mandeville. The manor also included woodland for 200 pigs and 20 acres of meadow.


Exterior Features


Nave S doorway

2 orders with tympanum, round headed

Height of opening 1.99m
Height of tympanum and lintel (radius) 0.73m
Width of lintel (diameter) 1.46m
Width of opening 1.23m
1st order

Plain square jambs carrying quirked hollow chamfered imposts. Tympanum, lintel and arch appear to be modern insertions. The lintel is monolithic with a chamfered upper edge and a horizontal groove cut in the section over the door, just above the lower edge. The tympanum is recessed and on the arch that surrounds it are two concentric grooves towards the intrados.

2nd order

Detached nook-shafts in en-delit sections on worn bases, perhaps originally attic, carry scallop capitals. The W capital has three scallops on the front face and two on the side face, all with sheathed cones and daisies on the shields.  The E has three scallops on the side face and two on the front face, all with sheathed cones and plain shields. Both have plain roll neckings, and to the W of the W capital, on the front face of the same block, is a roundel with two rings of concentric beading and a drilled centre.  Both impost blocks are heavy and hollow chamfered with an angle roll between face and chamfer, and the W inpost has beaded zigzag on the tall face. Both are at least twice as tall as the 1st order imposts and made to a completely different design, and both have their front faces cut back.  The arch has a half-roll with a hollow outside it on the face, and at the extrados a raised fillet might serve as a label.


Only the outer order of the doorway is original, although the jambs might contain some 12thc stonework.  The capitals and imposts suggest a date c.1140-50. Rodwell records that the cement on the walls was recently replaced (    ). At the time of the visit some of this and the whitewash was flaking off in places and repairs were being carried out. Rodwell also mentions that repairs undertaken in 1967-71 included the digging of a shingle-filled drain around the walls. Work was being undertaken on the drainage system at the time of the visit in 1998.

RCHME (1921), Pevsner (1954) and the EH listing (dated 1967) describe the dedication as unknown. The dedication to St Andrew postdates 1999, but was in place by 2007 (Bettley and Pevsner).


  • J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 109-10.

  • English Heritage Listed Building 122491

  • J. Fitch (ed), Essex Churches and Chapels: A Select Guide, Donington 1997, 32.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, Harmondsworth 1954, 65-66.

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2: Central and South West (1921), 11.

  • W. Rodwell, Historic Churches - a Wasting asset, CBA Research Report 19, 1977, 95


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TL 653 196 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Essex
now: Essex
medieval: London
now: Chelmsford
now: St Andrew
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ann Hilder, Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
15 February1998 (AH), 05 October 2011 (RB)