BLACKMORE, Priory Church of St Laurence (TL 603 016), Bell tower

Felling dates: Winter 1397/8, 1398/9 and 1399/1400

All timbers (6/7); Posts (4/4) 1370(H/S), 1371(H/S), 1397(22C), 1399(20C); Window jamb 1352; Arch brace 1398(26C). Site Master 1266-1399 BLCKMORE (t = 10.3 OXON93;  10.2 HANTS02;  10.1 LONDON).

Pevsner famously describes this as, ‘one of the most impressive, if not the most impressive, of all timber towers of England’. C. A. Hewett, 1980, English Historic Carpentry, Chichester, proposed a date of around 1480 though others have suggested a pre-Black Death origin.  This three-tier structure supports a tall broach spire and is constructed from unusually large timbers containing many rings –unusual in this part of Essex. Dating commissioned by the Parochial Church Council. (Miles and Worthington 2005, VA 36, list 166)

GREAT LEIGHS, Lawns Farmhouse (TL 740 138)           

(a)     West (lodging) range      

Felling date range: 1538-52

(b)     South range        

Felling date range: 1625-57

(a1) Principal rafters (1/2) 1519(8); Purlins 1493, 1529; Floor beam 1536(20); (a2) Tie 1548 (?C); Collar 1548(33C). (b) Storey post 1616(h/s). Site Masters (a1) 1377-1536 LAWNS1 (t = 11.4 ANGLIA01; 9.0 LONDON1175; 7.5 KENT); (a2) 1416-1548 LAWNS2 (t = 5.9 ESSEX; 5.6 LONDON1175; 5.3 SALOP95); (b) 1556-1616 lwn09 (t = 6.4 ESSEX; 5.0 BOARSTL2; 4.9 HILLHALL2).

The west range (a) has two single-bay interconnected rooms at ground-floor level. The two rooms above appear, from doors in the north wall, to have been accessed independently. The plan is not typically domestic and the building is thought to have been built as a lodging range. The flat section floor joists between the ground and first floors are jointed into the axial bridging joist with diminished-haunch soffit tenons. The main storey posts are jowled, as are the bay posts on both floors. The two sets of timbers in the west range did not match each other, suggesting the precise felling date of winter 1548/9 for two timbers may not apply to the whole range. Only a single structural timber in the south range (b) was dated. The house is described in the VAG Spring Conference Programme (2003). Dating commissioned by the owners. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2004, VA 35, list 152)

HADSTOCK, St Boltoph’s Church (TL 559 448), North door        

Felling date range: after 1034, probably c.1050-75

Boards 929+c53 NM, 977+c48 NM, 1001, 1022. Site Master 663-1022 HADSTOCK (t=8.3 LONDON; 5.7 BRITIM; 4.7 ALDATES).

This is thought to be one of the earliest surviving doors in the country, and has been described many times, notably by Hewett (1980) and Geddes (1999). Hewett considered it to be Anglo-Saxon, claiming that it has no structural affinities with known Norman door leaves. He suggested that the four boards must have been seasoned because the long joint edges have never opened from shrinkage. The splayed-edge joints and details of the D-section ledges and their attachment using nails and roves reflect shipbuilding traditions. All four boards matched each other and were clearly from the same tree, which must have started growing at least by AD 600, making it over 450 years old when felled. Comparisons with dendrochronologically dated boards from items of known construction date strongly suggest that the timber was felled about the time of the Conquest. The stonework carving from the doorway itself would suggest a date in the 1060s, indicating that the door is most likely of late Saxon or very early Norman origin using Anglo-Saxon craftsmen. Dating commissioned by Dr Jane Geddes with a grant from the Society of Antiquaries of London. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2004, VA 35, list 152)

MANUDEN, Maggotts End, Battles Hall (TL 476 277)    

Felling dates: Winter 1605/6 and Winter 1606/7

All timbers (3/10); Principal rafters 1603(3+7NM), 1605(12C), 1606(24C). Site Master  1514-1606 BATTLES1 (t = 8.9 WIMPOLE1; 8.0 ANGLIA03; 7.5 LONDON)

The ground storey of this timber-framed building on a partly-moated site has been faced in brick and the upper storey plastered. A two-storey entrance porch, also reworked, leads into the central room. The present analysis gives the building date of the main range. The roof is fully-hipped with side purlins into which the common rafters are tenoned and pegged. The RCHME noted that the building included smoke-blackened timbers re-used as common rafters. Dating commissioned by the owner. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2006, VA 37, list 177)

PEBMARSH, Marvels Green Farmhouse (TL 851 327)   

Felling date: Winter 1458/9

Wall plate 1458(12C); Studs (0/4); Arch brace (0/1); Tiebeam (0/1); Post (0/1); Rafter (0/1). Site Master 1390-1458 mgp09 (t = 6.8 SUTTON HOUSE; 6.7 LONDON; 5.6 ESSEX)

A two-bay hall with an integral storied service bay to the north-east and integral storied parlour/solar bay to the south-west. There are deep arch braces to the central hall tiebeam, and an octagonal crown post with a moulded capital and base and four-way bracing. The service end of the hall has ogee display bracing. The upper timbers are heavily smoke-blackened. This is an exceptionally complete and unchanged example of a typical Essex hall house. Timbers from the ground-floor studding and crown-post roof match each other but do not date. Only the wall plate provided a date, later than the listing date of c.1400. This single timber is likely to be primary. Dating commissioned by the owner. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2004, VA 35, list 152)

ST OSYTH, 8 Spring Road (TM 123 156)   

Felling date range: 1494-1500

All timbers (3/13); Wall-plate 1459(H/S+28NM); Floor beam 1463; Window frame 1494(36). Site Master 1365-1494 OYSHOP (t = 7.6 CANN HALL; 6.0 BRITTANY3; 5.5 CONDOVER).

The building has been used as a shop for many years and was being converted at the time of sampling. The structure suggests an original public use, conjecturally the Guildhall (Brenda Watkin). The use of diminished-haunch soffit-tenon joints where the floor joists meet the main floor beams, gives the earliest date for this feature yet found in Essex, though it was used much earlier elsewhere. Dating commissioned by Channel 4’s Time Team programme. (Miles and Worthington 2005, VA 36, list 166)

ST OSYTH, 45 Mill Street (TM 117 156)    

Felling date range: 1427-59

All timbers (4/6); Posts 1380, 1407; Joist 1397; Wall-plate 1418(H/S). Site Master 1282-1418 OYMFOUR (t = 6.3 CANN HALL; 6.0 PLACEHS; 5.7 BLETCHLEY)

The property appears to be the surviving cross-wing of a once larger house. Dating commissioned by Channel 4’s Time Team programme. (Miles and Worthington 2005, VA 36, list 166)

ST OSYTH, St Clere’s Hall (TM 126 148), Brace to arcade plate    

Felling date range: 1500-32

All timbers (1/7); Brace 1491(H/S). Site Master 1397-1491 OYC07 (t = 7.9 MARY ROSE; 7.5 LONDON; 6.3 CANN HALL)

The primary timbers were too fast-grown for dendrochronological dating in this house identified by Hewett as of 13th-century origin, C. A. Hewett, 1980, English Historic Carpentry, Chichester. The dated sample is presumably a later addition. Dating commissioned by Channel 4’s Time Team programme. (Miles and Worthington 2005, VA 36, list 166)

Wimbish, Broadoaks Manor (TL 590 335) Middle and West Ranges      

Felling date range: 1572-94

Floor joists (3/3) 1542, 1546, 1556; Floor beams (3/4)  1554(h/s), 1556, 1560(h/s); Floor boards (3/4) 1536, 1543, 1556; Rafters (5/7) 1554(h/s), 1558(h/s), 1562(9), 1563(1), 1563(h/s). Site Master 1440-1563 WIMBISH (t = 8.6 HILL HALL; 8.2 LT WYMONDLEY; 8.0 IGHTFIELD)

The middle and western ranges of this large brick building are thought to have been contemporaneous, now confirmed by the dating. The timbers in the south range, which clearly post-dates this section, were largely re-used and had too few rings to be dated. Dating commissioned by the owner. (Miles and Worthington 2003, VA 34, list 140)