St Peter, South Weald, Essex

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Feature Sets (2)


South Weald is a village within the borough of Brentwood, 2 miles W of the town centre. It is surrounded by farmland and includes Weald Country Park to the N of the village. South Weald is built on a netwerk of minor roads in the vee between the A12 and the M25, with the church in the centre of the village. The present S aisle was the medieval nave and chancel: with no division between the two, and a tower at the W end and a S porch. This was a 12thc structure, as indicated by the S doorway. A N aisle was added in the 13thc, and the tower was built in the 15thc. In 1868 S. S. Teulon replaced the aisle with a new nave and a chancel with a N organ room, turning the original nave into a S aisle, refaced the medival walls and restored the tower.  Then in 2010 a multi-purpose hall, the Belli Centre, was completed on the N side of the church, attached to the nave by the N dooway.  The only Romanesque feature recorded here is the S doorway.


A manor of 2 hides was held by the canons of Holy Cross, Waltham in 1066, which was reduced to 1½ hides by 1086, the lost half hide being in the hands of Geoffrey de Mandeville. A second manor, held by Sprot in 1066 and by Ralph from Robert Gernon in 1086 was assessed at 1 hide. The Holy Cross manor became known as the manor of South Weald. It contained the village and the church, and remained with Holy Cross until the Dissolution. Sprot's manor became Calcott, or Caldecot. From 1275 the advowson of St Peter's was held by the Bishop of London.


Exterior Features


S nave doorway

Round headed, 2 orders with a tympanum.

Tympanum and lintel
Height of tympanum without lintel 0.55 m
Thickness of tympanum 0.20 m
Height of opening (to bottom of lintel) 2.30 m
Width of opening 1.20 m
1st order

Plain jambs; the W entirely renewed and the E original except for the topmost block. They carry a segmental lintel of 11 voussoirs; both end voussoirs and the keystone carrying a suspended roll. The W end voussoir with its roll is a replacement. The tympanum is decorated overall with square diaper diagonally chip-carved. It is maded up of coursed blocks rather than a single slab, and surrounded by a chamfered frame.

2nd order

Detached nook-shafts in sections, decorated with chevron alternately roll and wedge. The shafts stand on roll and quadrant hollow bases, possibly renewed, and these on square socles. Capitals are both of the volute design with plain neckings and a row of beading at the top. The W impost is original and hollow chamfered with a roll at the bottom of the tall face; the E is a replacement, similar but with a plain chamfer. The arch is decorated with two rows of centrifugal chevron lateral to the face: an inner roll and outer hollow with a cogwheel inner edge. Out side this is a flat band of two broad courses but there is no projecting label.


RCHME reasonably suggests a mid-12thc date for the doorway. It has points of comparison with several others in the county, from which one should pick out Orsett as almost identical, down to the beaded volute capitals, Heybridge is a simpler version with a diapered tympanum and a segmental lintel with roll corbels, although it has no capitals. 


  • J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 720-21.

  • Historic England Listed Building,¬†English Heritage Legacy ID:¬†373581

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2: Central and South West (1921), 214-18.

  • Victoria County History: Essex VIII (1983), 74-90.

Exterior from SE landscape
Interior to E
Exterior from SE portrait


Site Location
South Weald
National Grid Reference
TQ 571 939 
now: Essex
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Essex
now: Chelmsford
medieval: London
now: St Peter
medieval: St Peter (pre-Reformation)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
06 February 2018