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St Mary, Harlow (Latton), St Mary, Essex

(51°46′39″N, 0°7′14″E)
Harlow (Latton), St Mary
TL 464 109
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Isabel Tomlins
  • Ron Baxter
24 October 2018

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Feature Sets

Harlow New Town was set up in 1947, covering five old parishes: Great Parndon, Little Parndon, Harlow, Latton, and Nettleswell. It is in west Essex, alongside the Hertfordshire border. St-Mary-at-Latton is the parish church of Latton, in the north central part of Harlow district. The church retains its extensive churchyard, and the presence of Mark Hall Park immediately to the N provides a suitable setting for what is essentially a village church in a New Town. The church consists of chancel nave and W tower, with a chapel on the N side of the chancel and a vestry on the N side of the nave. There is a timber-framed brick S porch to the nave. Construction is of flint rubble with some Roman brick included, except for the windowless N wall which was rebuilt in brick in the 18thc, the N chapel of c.1466 and the N vestry, added in 1973-74. A small round headed lancet and the remains of a doorway arch in the S nave wall indicate its Romanesque origins, and the chancel is assumed to belong to the same period on account of the Roman brick in its fabric. The porch is probably 15thc and the tower is 16thc work.

Inside there is no division between nave and chancel except for a step and a rood beam that belongs to Laurence King's restoration of 1964-65 after a fire. There were earlier restorations in 1848-50, 1873 and 1888. The S doorway is recorded below, and the Norman window has been photographed but is not treated as a feature here.


Latton was held by Bury St Edmund's Abbey as a manor of 4½ hides in 1086, and by Thorgot, a free man, before the Conquest. There was woodland here for 200 pigs and 35 acres of meadow. A second manor of 1½ hides and 30 acres was held by Adelulf de Marck from Count Eustace. This had woodland for 300 pigs, 35 acres of meadow and a priest who held half a hide belonging to a church. Finally a manor of 2½ hides and 30 acres was held by Turgis from Peter de Valognes, which had been held before the Conquest by an unnamed free man. There was a priest here too, as well as woodland for 350 pigs and 35 acres of meadow.

The first of these was apparently united with the abbey's manor in Harlowbury shortly after the Domesday Survey, the second became the manor of Mark Hall, and the third became the manor of Latton, or Latton Hall whose demesne was in the area around the church. The overlordship of this manor remained with the Valognes family (the honour of Benington) until 1235 when the honour was divided between coheirs, and Latton fell to the share of Isabel Comyn, whose son William Comyn was holding it in 1270. The tenant in 1184, 1197 and 1201 was Ralph of Latton. The overlordship of Mark Hall manor descended with the honour of Boulogne while the tenancy remained in the family of de Merk until the death of Henry de Merk in 1291. The advowson of the church was shared between Latton Priory, who had probably received it from Mark Hall, and Latton Hall.


Exterior Features



Latton is included here despite having nothing that could be called Romanesque sculpture on account of the early doorway, using Roman brick, and the historical links with Harlowbury and Latton Priory. The proportions of the S doorway suggest an 11thc date.


J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 454-55.

J. Cooper, The Church Dedications and Saints’ Cults of Medieval Essex, Lancaster 2011, 145.

Historic England English Heritage Legacy ID: 119461

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2: Central and South West (1921), 145-49.

Victoria County History: Essex VIII (1983), 186-95.