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St Barnabas, Great Tey, Essex

(51°53′55″N, 0°44′54″E)
Great Tey
TL 892 258
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
25 September 2014

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Great Tey is a village in the Colchester district of Essex, 6 miles W of Colchester. The village extends for approximately a mile along the minor road that runs across the Colne Valley from Bures and Wakes Colne south to Marks Tey. The church is alongside this road at the S end of the village, and a moated site immediately to the E suggests the presence of a manor house.

St Barnabas’s is an imposing sight and was once bigger still. What survives is the crossing of a cruciform church with a tower above it, a long 3-bay chancel, the remains of one nave bay, and N and S transepts. The 1st storey of the tower is now a gallery. Entry is through a porch added to the W side of the S transept, and the N transept now houses the organ. The crossing and the remains of the S nave arcade are 12thc, the chancel and the transepts were both rebuilt in the 14thc and the S tower arch was rebuilt in the 15thc. In 1829 most of the nave including the aisles were removed, and the nave closed off with a W wall. The porches on the W sides of both transepts are modern too. Construction is of flint rubble with some Roman bricks and freestone.


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 (1836), Great Tey was held by Eustace of Boulogne in 1086, passing by descent to King Stephen. He gave it to his third son, William, who granted it in 1162 to Richard de Lucy. His daughter Maud conveyed it with her other holdings to her husband Walter fitzRobert, who held it in 1211. It remained in this male line until it failed in the 15thc.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches



The Norman work belongs to the early 12thc, as indicated by the prevalence of volute capitals and the simplicity of the architectural features. The reset head is puzzling. It looks like a rescued head from a Burgundian tympanum . Neither the RCHME nor Pevsner nor Bettley seem to have noticed it.


J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 420-21.

Historic England Listed Building 419093

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, Harmondsworth 1954, 192-93.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 3: North East (1922), 129-32.

T. Wright, The History and Topography of the County of Essex, 1, 1836, 416-19.