What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
=How to get there.=–Train from Liverpool Street. Great Eastern Rly. =Nearest Station.=–Colchester (7 miles from Layer Marney). =Distance from London.=–51-3/4 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 1 and 2-1/4 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 9s. 9d. ... 4s. 4-1/2d. Return 14s. 8d. ... 8s. 9d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"The Red Lion Hotel,” “George Hotel,” “The Cups Hotel,” etc., all at Colchester.
The unfinished home of the Marneys rises in lonely grandeur in an out-of-the-way part of Essex. To the north runs the road to Colchester; southwards the ground slopes away in the direction of the Blackwater. The great gateway has stood in these peaceful surroundings quite untouched for 400 years. A small portion of the mansion is by the side of the gateway, and the church with the Marney monuments is further to the left.
Lord Marney fought for Henry VII. in France, and was one of the court counsellors at the time of his son’s accession. He became a great favourite with Henry VIII., and was created a baron, besides being made a Knight of the Garter and Captain of the Bodyguard. He came of an old Norman stock, but had not overmuch land. At Layer Marney, his chief estate, he determined to build a fitting abode for himself. It was one of the earliest buildings since Roman times to be built of brick. The terra-cotta mouldings are a peculiar feature. It is thought that Lord Marney brought over Italian workmen to make the terra-cotta, for there is a classic touch about the ornaments. The gateway has two towers, one ivy-clad. The whole structure is strikingly original in style. It was commenced in 1500, but Lord Marney died before the work was done. John, his son, died the next year, and with him the line of Marneys became extinct.
In the church are three monuments of the Marneys. The tomb of Henry, Lord Marney, is in the arch leading to the Marney Chapel, which was founded by him. The figure is of dark marble, clad in armour, and wearing the robes of a Knight of the Garter. An ancestor of Lord Marney, who died in 1414, lies near. The effigy is clothed in mail. The figure of John, the last of the Marneys, is of black marble. There are some curious frescoes in the church, and an oak screen. The interior of the building is probably older than the exterior, which is of about the same date as the towers.
The church keys may be procured at the rectory.
[Illustration: LAYER MARNEY TOWER, ESSEX.
Commenced by the first Lord Marney about the year 1500, but owing to the death of Lord Marney and of his only son, the year following, the buildings were never finished.]