Holy Trinity, Littlebury, Essex

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Feature Sets (3)


Located at the southern edge of the village at a crossroads on what was once the A11, now the B1383.  The road from here between Littlebury and Audley End to the south was new in 1811, the original link being further west. The church comprises chancel, nave with aisles of three bays each, north and south porches and a west tower.  The oldest part of the church is the nave, which dates from the 11thc-12thc. Aisles were added in the 13thc and a W tower in the 14thc.The building was radically reworked in two phases during the nineteenth century (1847 & 1856-58). Previously there had been major reconstruction in the late C15 and early C16 (L. Sanders and G. Williamson, 36). Construction is of lint rubble with detailing in clunch. Romanesque features described here are the south nave doorway and the font.


Littlebury was held as a manor by Ely Abbey in 1086 and before the Conquest.  It was assessed at 25 hides, with woodland for 160 pigs, 55 acres of meadow and 4 mills. It was a substantial manor with 65 inhabitants listed, equivalent to a population of some 300 souls. No church was recorded in Domesday, but there is documentary evidence of clergy in Littlebury in the medieval period – Tubert in the mid-11thc, Martin around 1163 to 1189 and Walter the clerk in 1222 (L. Sanders and G. Williamson)


Exterior Features


S nave doorway

2 orders, round headed. The doorway is reset in the 13thc aisle wall. All stonework is weathered and dirty, not immediately obvious to interpret.

Height of opening 2.51 m
Width of opening 1.08 m
1st order

En-delit nook-shafts on chamfered attic bases, carrying capitals of which the W has deeply carved waterleaf and the E stiff-leaf volutes.  Both capitals have plain neckings and undercut hollow chamfered imposts with a roll at the lower angle of the face.  The arch has a keeled angle roll with deep hollows on face and soffit.

2nd order

As the 1st order in all respects. There is no label.




The font is positioned within the south aisle adjacent the tower side wall, beside the south door. It is enclosed within a later linen-fold oak panelled casing, and is only visible from the uncased rear (W) face. It consists of a plain square bowl with a slight chamfer to the edges. The basin is circular and lead lined. The bowl is carried on a heavy central polygonal shaft with slender shafts at the angles, chamfered to an octagonal section. Integral capitals are simply moulded, and the octagonal bases are chamfered. The shafts stand on a sqaure base block enclosed within the later wooden case, and this on a square chamfered plinth and a step extended to the E that carries a brass plate recording the restoration of the font in 1853.

External width of bowl E-W 0.724 m
External width of bowl N-S 0.724 m
Height of bowl 0.394 m
Depth of basin 0.216m
Diameter of basin 0.540 m
Height of base block 0.121 m
Height of font above base 0.972 m

Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae

Pillar piscina shaft

At the E end of the S aisle is the shaft of a pillar piscina. The shaft is square with chamfered angles having simple chamfer stops at top and botton resulting in an octagonal section. The shaft is has a central drilled drain hole and a chamfered base but no capital.

Dimensions at top 0.20 m x 0.20 m
Overall height 0.55 m


The reset S doorway is no later than 1200 but no earlier than 1180. Bettley and Pevsner describe the font as transitional, and the form of the piscina shaft suggests the same date.


  • J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Essex. Yale University Press 2007. 543-545

  • J. Cooper, The Church Dedications and Saints’ Cults of Medieval Essex, Lancaster 2011, 147.

  • W. N. Paul, Essex Fonts and Font Covers. Baldock, 1986

  • L. Sanders and G. Williamson (ed), Littlebury, A Parish History, 2005.

  • G. Worley, Essex, a Dictionary of the County mainly Ecclesiological. London 1915, 162

  • P. A. Wright, The parish church of Holy Trinity, Littlebury. 1947 (ERO)

Exterior from SE
Interior to E


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TL 517 394 
now: Essex
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Essex
now: Chelmsford
medieval: London
medieval: Holy Trinity (since 1510)
now: Holy Trinity
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ann Hilder, Michael Pearson, Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
September 2013 (MP), 13 August 2015 (RB)