We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St Mary, Great Waltham, Essex

(51°47′39″N, 0°27′28″E)
Great Waltham
TL 696 135
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
07 December 2013

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=6198.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


Great Waltham is a large village set in arable farmland in the south of the county, 4 miles N of Chelmsford. The church is in the village centre, and is substantially of the 12thc but almost entirely rebuilt. The walls are of flint and pebble-rubble, with some pieces of puddingstone and freestone in the W tower; the dressings are partly of limestone and partly of Roman and later brick. It consists of a broad, aisled nave (at 32 feet the widest medieval nave in Essex) with clerestoreys and 4-bay arcades, roofed with alternate tie beam and hammerbeam trusses. The S aisle is 14thc, rebuilt in the 16thc, and the N was added by F. W. Chancellor in 1874-75. There is a 16thc S porch (restored in the 19thc). The chancel has signs of blocked 12thc windows in the E wall, but it was rebuilt in the late 14thc or 15thc, again in 1866-63 by Chancellor and again in the 1890s by A. Y. Nutt. It has a N vestry dating from 1890. The W tower is the earliest standing feature, dating from the 12thc but the upper part rebuilt with a new battlemented parapet by Nutt in 1892. It has a late 12thc tower arch and plain round-headed lancets in the lowest storey of the N and S walls. Finally the most striking Romanesque feature is a Purbeck font in the S porch.


Most of Great Waltham belonged to a manor of 8 hides that was held by Esger in 1066 and by Geoffrey de Mandeville in demesne in 1086. This large manor included woodland for 1200 pigs, 44 acres of meadow and 10 arpents of vineyard (an arpent is 100 square perches, so the vineyards here covered some 6¼ acres). There were 2 mills here, and the total estimated population of some 500 people suggests the presence of a church although none is mentioned. Another manor of 1 hide and 50 acres was held by Wulfwine in 1066 and by Roger from Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1086. A third manor was held by Stanheard from the Abbot of Bury St Edmund’s in 1066 and by Albert from the Abbot in 1086. It was assessed at 2 hides less 10 acres. A fourth manor was held by Leofstan in 1066 and by Lambert from Count Eustace in 1086. This was assessed at 2 hides and 1 virgate. Finally Robert FitzCorbucion’s tenant W held a manor of 1 hide and 30 acres in 1086 that had been held by Wulfsige before the Conquest, and another of Robert’s tenants, Ranulf, held a subtenant with 30 acres that Robert had appropriated.


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches




Purbeck fonts are common in this part of the county, but this, as far as can be seen, is one of the plainer ones, carved only with simple arcading.


Anon, Guide to the Parish Church of Saint Mary and Saint Lawrence, Great Waltham. 1964

J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007,.424-25.

English Heritage Listed Building. 112761

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, Harmondsworth 1954,.193-94.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2: Central and South West (1921), 104-12.