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Holy Cross, Felsted, Essex

(51°51′25″N, 0°26′1″E)
TL 677 204
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
24 October 2018

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=6813.

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Felsted is a substantial village in the Uttlesford district of central Essex. It is 11 miles E of Bishops Stortford and 6 miles W of Braintree; the centre grouped around a junction of the B1417. Despite its village status it boasts a large II* listed house of 1596 (Boote House), two public houses and the church described below.

The church stands at the crossroads in the centre of Felsted, and consists of a chancel with a S chapel and organ room, and a N vestry; an aisled nave with S porch and a W tower. To the N of the nave and connected to it by the N doorway is Smylie Hall built in 2014-15; a large church room complex. The church is 12thc in origin, with an early 12thc W tower, a late-12thc S aisle, and a 14thc N aisle and clerestorey. The chancel was rebuilt in the 14thc, and the porch added in the 15thc. The S chapel was built to house the tomb of Richard, 1st Baron Rich (d.1567) Lord Chancellor of England from 1547-51, and his son Robert. The church is of flint and rubble with brick and tile and stone dressings, except for the Rich chapel which is of clunch ashlar. Romanesque features described here are the S nave arcade, the tower arch, and the S and W doorways.


Felsted was held by Earl Aelfgar before the Conquest as a manor of 5 hides, and in 1086 it was held by the Abbey of La Trinité of Caen as 4 hides. The missing hide was given by King William to Roger God-save-the-ladies and Gilbert fitzSalomon. Both men had other holdings in Felsted to which these gifts were added.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches



The earliest features belong to the tower. The W doorway and the tower arch are dated c.1140 by RCHME. Then come the S arcade and the S doorway; probably from a campaign of the 1180s. The cusping described on the tower arch and the arcade arches must be a later ornament; it also occurs on the 14thc. N aisle.


J. Cooper, The Church Dedications and Saints’ Cults of Medieval Essex, Lancaster 2011, 132.

J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 354-55.

Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID: 122542

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2: Central and South West (1921), 73-74.