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St Mary, Strethall, Essex

St Mary The Virgin Church, Off Royston Lane,, Strethall (52°2′13″N, 0°9′51″E)
TL 485 398
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
medieval unknown
now St Mary
  • Ron Baxter
10 November 2015

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Strethall is a dispersed settlement in Uttlesford district of NW Essex, 3 miles W of Saffron Walden. The church is sited in a farmyard, in an otherwise isolated setting of rolling farmland. It consists of a 13thc chancel with a N vestry, an Anglo-Saxon nave with long and short work at the W angles and a S porch, and a 13thc W tower. The features described here are the chancel arch and a corbel reset in the NW exterior angle of the tower.


Strethall was a berewick of Littlebury in 1086; held by Hugh (de Berners) under the Abbot of Ely in 1086, and by William and Alwig from the abbot in 1066. It was assessed at 5 hides. The manor remained in Hugh’s family and was held by Ralph de Berners in 1210, by John in 1252 and by another Ralph in 1262. By 1298 it had passed to Ralph de Tibetott.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

The treatment of the chancel arch is reminiscent of the framing features seen on the chancel arch at Wittering (Cambs) or the tower doorway at Earl’s Barton (Northants). It was described by Taylor and Taylor as ‘one of the finest examples of Anglo-Saxon workmanship in smaller parish churches’, but it is by no means certain that it predates the Conquest. It is certainly 11thc, however. The corbel could as well be 13thc as 12thc, but is included as a possibility.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, London 1899, III, 271.

J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 755-56.

Essex Sites and Monuments Record 3915.

Historic England Listed Building 413434

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, Harmondsworth 1954, 344.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1: North West 1916, 295-97.

R. M. and J. Taylor, Anglo-Saxon Architecture, II, 596-98.

T. Wright, The History and Topography of the County of Essex, II, 1831, 180-81.