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St Ethelbert and All Saints, Belchamp Otten, Essex

(52°2′46″N, 0°37′40″E)
Belchamp Otten
TL 803 419
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
21 April 2015

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Feature Sets

Belchamp Otten is a village in the Braintree district of N Essex, 4 miles W of Sudbury and 2.5 miles S of the Suffolk border. The three Belchamp villages occupy a network of minor roads in the rolling farmland on the S side of the River Stour. The church is in the centre of the village, and consists of a 12thc nave with a S porch of the late 14thc, and a bell turret over the W gable. The N doorway now serves as the entrance from the interior of the church to a modern brick vestry. At the W end of the nave interior is a 3-bay timber arcade that carries the bell turret, and on the N wall is a timber gallery reached by a ladder. The chancel is 13thc, and both it and the nave received replacement windows in the 14thc. Construction is flint rubble with the remains of a cement render, and limestone and clunch dressings. The S nave doorway is the only surviving Romanesque carved feature.


The three Belchamps: St Paul, Walter and Otten, are called simply Belcamp or Belcham in the Domesday Survey. The Canons of St Paul’s cathedral held a manor of 5 hides, presumably Belchamp St Paul, before and after the Conquest. A manor of 1 hide and 45 acres was held by Leodmaer in 1066 and by Ulmar from Count Eustace in 1086. A third manor of 2½ hides was held by Wulfwine in 1066 and by Aubrey de Vere in demesne in 1086, and finally a manor of 1 hide and 38 ½ acres was held by 6 free men in 1066, and by Robert de Vaux from Roger Bigod in 1086.

Belchamp Otten took its name from the family of one Otto or Othon, who came into possession of the estate in the time of Henry II (Wright (1836), 581). By 1200 it was held by his grandson, Otho FitzWilliam. His nephew and successor Thomas was married to Beatrix, daughter of William Beauchamp, and died in 1274 having held the post of engraver to the Royal Mint. Details of the later history will be found in Wright (1836).


Exterior Features



The list description dates the doorway c.1130. Similar shafts to those on the doorway are found at Sturmer, on the angles of the chancel.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, 3 vols, London 1899, III, 47.

J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 128.

J. Cooper, The Church Dedications and Saints’ Cults of Medieval Essex, Lancaster 2011, 111.

Historic England Listed building 113961

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1: North West (1916), 14-16.

T. Wright, The History and Topography of the County of Essex, 2 vols, 2nd ed. 1831-36, I, 581-84.