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St James the Less, Little Tey, Essex

(51°52′50″N, 0°44′50″E)
Little Tey
TL 892 238
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
25 September 2014

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Feature Sets

Little Tey is a small village in the Colchester district of Essex, situated on the former Roman road of Stane Street (now the A120), some 6 miles W of Colchester. It is dwarfed by its neighbours, Marks Tey to the E and Great Tey to the N, and consists of little more than a few dwellings on a minor road that runs northwards from the A120 and peters out when it reaches the church.

St James’s is a small single-cell building of flint rubble with ashlar dressings and puddingstone quoiss. It has an apsidal E end; originally Norman but refenestrated in the early 14thc. Nave and chancel are decorated with an extensive series of 13thc wallpaintings of the Passion. There is a timber bell turret over the W end of the nave, and a S porch protecting a 12thc doorway – the only feature described here. The N doorway is now covered by a vestry.


The Domesday Survey does not distinguish between the three Tey settlements, but records two holdings between them. Count Eustace held a manor of 3½ hides on 1086 that had been held by a free man in 1066. A second manor of 1½ hides and 20 acres was held by Geoffrey de Mandeville in demesne. According to Wright, however, it was included with Feering in the Survey and was held by Westminster Abbey; a theory apparently confirmed by the fact that the patronage of Little Tey was held by the abbey until its suppression.


Exterior Features



The list description dates the doorway to the 11thc, while the RCHME prefers a date of c.1130 for the nave and chancel, which the present author is happy to accept. Curiously Pevsner (1954) made no mention of the wallpaintings. The use of chip-carved opus reticulatum in the tympanum relates the sculpture to other sites in Essex and Suffolk, e.g. (in Essex) Stansted Mountfitchet, Tillingham and Heybridge.


J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 560

Historic England Listed Building 420604

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, Harmondsworth 1954, 258.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 3: North East (1922), 173-74.

T. Wright, The History and Topography of the County of Essex, 1, 1836, 415-16.