Monument record MCC7319 - Layer Marney Tower


Gatehouse and remaining E and W wings of a great early C16 house which was never completed. Long Gallery to the south, contemporary originally built as stables, barn to the east mid C15 with reused C13 timbers.


Grid reference Centred TL 928 174 (98m by 59m) (FCE)
Map sheet TL91NW


Type and Period (3)

Full Description

Gatehouse and remaining E and W wings of a great early C16 house (not before c.1520) which was never completed. It was begun by the first Lord Marney (Sir Henry) who died in 1523, and his son, John (d. 1525). There has been some C20 restoration and a few small additions.<1>

The gatehouse is a fine example of early Renaissance work, said to have been designed by the Kings Italian architect, Guilamo de Travizi. It is c.80ft tall of red brick with terracotta dressings and diapering in flared headers, moulded plinths and string courses, and bands of cusped panelling. There are three storeys and on the south side flanking semi-octagonal turrets of 8 storeys with subsidiary turrets of 7 storeys on the north side. The small west wing and small modern north wing form the north side of the outer courtyard.<7>

The interior fittings are mainly Edwardian but in the W wing two first floor rooms have intersting ceilings, one of them probably the earliest in the country with polygonal panels of various size made into the pattern.

The house appears to have been designed on the courtyard plan, to the north of the gatehouse, with an irregular outer court on the south side.<2><3>

Crude studwork for a former wattle and daub filled partition wall was identified and recorded during conversion works in the east range, built in the early 16th century. The partition was added to the existing roof truss after a second floor was inserted to form a second floor attic level. The quality of the timber and the fact that it is hand sawn suggest a pre-19th century construction.<6>

The Long Gallery forms the south side, of two storeys in red brick with number of original doorways and windows. It is contemporary with the house, although parallel to it, and built as stables. The building was converted to a gallery and ante-room c.1910, in the course of which the upper floor was removed. Impressive roof of twelve bays with three tie-beams. The tie-beams carry (or did originally) 13 queen-posts.<7>

There is a barn between the Long Gallery and E Wing, mid C15, weather-boarded incorporating some reused C13 timbers.

Photo of the gatehouse in Essex HER.<4> See also three digital photographs taken in July 2016.<8>

Site Assessment = The gatehouse is a remarkable and very fine example of early Renaissance work and ornament. <1>


Sources/Archives (15)

  • --- AP: unknown. unknown. Layer Marney.
  • --- AP: unknown. unknown. 38-10, 11, 12, 13.
  • --- Photograph: unknown. unknown. unknown.
  • --- AP: unknown. unknown. Layer Marney.
  • --- DESC TEXT: English Heritage. 2001. Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England - 2001 Part 15 Essex.
  • --- Watching Brief Report: Orr, Kate. 2003. An archaeological watching brief at Rockingham's Farm, Layer Marney, Essex September 2002-July 2003.
  • <1> DESC TEXT: Department of the Environment. 1982. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Colchester Rural. pp.237-8.
  • <2> Photograph: Tipper, J.. 2016. Photographs of Layer Marney Tower. Digital.
  • <2> DESC TEXT: RCHME. 1922. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex - Volume 3. Vol 3, p157-8.
  • <3> RECORD SHEET/FORM: Ordnance Survey. unknown. OS cards. TL91NW14, 1960.
  • <4> Photograph: unknown. 1985. TL91-009. one frame.
  • <5> AP: Tyler, Sue. 1986. Layer Marney Towers.
  • <6> DESC TEXT: Letch, Andrew. 2003. Layer marney Tower, Layer Marney, Near Colchester, Essex:The recording of a partition wall in the east range..
  • <7> Monograph: Bettley, James and Pevsner, Nikolaus. 2007. The buildings of England: Essex. pp.526-529.
  • <8> Photograph: Tipper, J.. 2016. Photographs of Layer Marney Tower. Digital.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Sep 9 2016 2:54PM

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.