Monument record MCC7019 - Church of St Barnabas, Great Tey


The central tower is of four stages. The lower three stages are most likely pre-Conquest; the top stage is Norman.


Grid reference Centred TL 8920 2578 (31m by 19m) (FCE)
Map sheet TL82NE
County ESSEX


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Lower 3 stages of the central tower are pre-Conquest; the top stage is Norman. Roman brick and tile in church, especially in tower.<1> RCHM dates tower to c.1100 except N and S arches and embattled parapet. The tower has four stages, divided externally by projecting courses of Roman brick. The circular NW stair-turret rises above the parapet but the lower part is now blocked. The tower has retained its round-headed windows and recesses, some blocked, some use Roman brick. Photo of church in RCHM.<2> Tower is mostly Saxon with Norman upper part.<4> OS photo card of tower in record.<5> Fragment of a large and important Saxon and Norman church survives in the form of the central tower. The lower 3 stages are accepted as pre-Conquest by Taylor who considers the tower was axial originally. To the W was a large aisled nave in Norman times, demolished in 1829. Transepts opening off the tower are C15. "The problem of earlier transepts, or `porticus' is a difficult one; if they existed they must have been entered through smaller, lower arches than those in the E and W sides of the central tower; this is by no means improbable, but all traces of these arches would have been removed by the N-S openings to the transepts. These arches themselves are oddly proportioned and have no bases to the responds. The pre-conquest E and W openings survive, intact, but the 'stripwork' on the eastern arch, illustrated by Taylor, is dubiously older than the C19. The portion to the N of the arch is now missing and that to the S appears to be made of plastered timber. In support of the suggestion that lateral chambers existed prior to the erection of the C15 transepts, it may be noted that the latter are both irregular in plan and exhibit tiled offsets at ground level. These offsets appear to pre-date the transept buttresses. Church graded AIb by Rodwell.<6> Other refs:<7><8>

Bettley & Pevsner (2007) wonder why such a magnificent structure was built here. 'The crossing tower is once of the proudest pieces of Norman architecture in Essex'.<3>

Rodwell & Rodwell (1977) state, "Cleary, major archaeological investigations are needed at Great Tey to seek answers to the innumerable questions which surround both the Saxon and medieval phases of what was once a great and impressive structure. The tower is in need of repointing, but the entire fabric should be drawn to scale first. Dampness is a problem in the N transept and ground level externally has been lowered a little at some time. A concrete apron has recently been laid around the S side.'<6>

Seven digital photographs taken July 2016.<10>

Sources/Archives (11)

  • --- AP: unknown. unknown. TL 891253 43/6.
  • <1> DESC TEXT: unknown. 1960 0nwards. SMR form unknown.
  • <2> DESC TEXT: RCHME. 1922. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex - Volume 3. Vol 3, pp.129-130.
  • <3> Monograph: Bettley, James and Pevsner, Nikolaus. 2007. The buildings of England: Essex. p.421.
  • <4> RECORD SHEET/FORM: Ordnance Survey. unknown. OS cards. TL82NE10, 1976.
  • <5> RECORD SHEET/FORM: Ordnance Survey. unknown. OS cards. TL82NE10, 1976, photo.
  • <6> Monograph: Rodwell, Warwick J with Rodwell, KA. 1977. Historic Churches: a wasting asset. p.120.
  • <7> DESC TEXT: Taylor, HM and Taylor, J. 1965. Anglo-Saxon Architecture. Vol 2, pp609-611.
  • <8> DESC TEXT: Fisher, EA. 1969. Anglo-Saxon Towers. p162.
  • <9> AP: Tyler, Sue. 2000. CP/00/40/10.
  • <10> Photograph: Tipper, J.. 2016. Photographs of St Barnabas Church, Great Tey. Digital.

Finds (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Sep 13 2016 2:51PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.