All Saints, Wakes Colne, Essex

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Feature Sets (3)


Wakes Colne is a village in the Colne valley, midway between Halstead and Colchester. It is a substantial settlement now extending N and S from the intersection of the A1124 with the minor road to Great Tey and Bures. Since 1849 it has been served by the Stour Valley Railway.

The church and Wakes Hall are half a mile W of the village centre, and the church consists of a 12thc nave with a timber W bell turret with a short spire, and a 15thc N porch, and a chancel that was extended eastwards in the 19thc. There is a modern vestry on the S side of the chancel at the W end. The E chancel wall is of brick and the remainder of coursed flints.  12thc work is found in 5 nave windows – 3 in the N wall and 2 in the S, all plain round-headed lancets and not recorded here; the N and S nave doorways and the font.


A manor of 1 hide and 30 acres in Wakes Colne was held by Azur in 1066 and by Robert Malet in demesne in 1086. This manor formed part of Robert’s Honour of Eye, where it was recorded in 1210 and in 1274. The tenancy was granted c.1174 to Saher de Quency, from whom it passed toi his brother Robert (d.c.1197) and thence to Robert’s son Saher, Earl of Winchester. This Saher gave the manor to his younger son Robert, who died before 1264, the manor passing to his daughter Hawise and hence to Baldwin Wake, her husband, from whom it took its present name.

The advowson of the church followed the descent of the manor, at least from the 14thc and probably earlier.


Exterior Features


N nave doorway

Round headed, 2 orders under a timber and brick porch.

Height of opening 2.44m
Width of opening 1.05m
1st order

Plain and continuous.

2nd order

Detached cylindrical nook-shafts in sections on very worn bases, probably attic. The capitals are in a hard, dark grey stone and are cushions with plain neckings and high abaci marked with a pair of horizontal grooves. There are no impost blocks and the arch has a fat roll on the face and a quirked chamfered label.

S nave doorway

Round headed, single order, plain and continuous.

Height of opening 2.15m
Width of opening 1.11m




At the W end of the nave is a font apparently of the Purbeck type, but with a hexagonal bowl with angles chamfered (making it technically dodecagonal), and with three plain recessed arches on each of the six main faces. The bowl is unlined and has the remains of repairs in each spandrel of the rim. In fact it is not Purbeck marble but appears to be of clunch, and an inscription reveals that it came from Messing church, and that the Vicar of Messing, Thomas Henderson, brought it with him when he took up the rectorship of Wakes Colne in 1848. Only the bowl is original, and it stands on a base of 1930 consisting of 3 slender outer cylinders and a central fatter one on a two-step plinth. The outer cylinders are at each alternate angle of the hexagon, presenting a curiously unstable prospect from the N and S.

Height of bowl 0.245m
Height of font 1.00m
Exterior diameter of bowl (across flats) 0.63m
External diameter of bowl (corner to corner) 0.70m
Internal diameter of basin 0.52m


Messing, where the font originated, is 6 miles S of Wakes Colne. The font itself is clearly a copy of the Purbeck imports that are so common in this part of Essex, although so far I have not encountered a hexagonal example. RCHME correctly describes the font as hexagonal, but Bettley and Pevsner call it octagonal. Both date it to the late 12thc, which is reasonable. The impostless capitals on the N doorway may be compared with Great Clacton.


  • J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 802-03.

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 3: North East (1922), 225-26.

  • Victoria County History: Essex X (2001), 116-28.

Exterior from SE
Interior to E


Site Location
Wakes Colne
National Grid Reference
TL 890 286 
now: Essex
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Essex
medieval: London
now: Chelmsford
now: All Saints
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
24 September 2014