Ancient and Modern


It’s a little hard to see from the photographs, but this is the rare, possibly unique, triangular tower of All Saints Church, Maldon, Essex. The top photograph shows two sides of the triangle as you stand looking up to the belfry from the third side.


It really is a proper three-sided, stone and flintwork tower supporting a hexagonal roof structure. In fact the three walls of the tower actually form an equilateral triangle and were constructed in the mid-thirteenth century from stone reclaimed from an earlier twelfth-century Norman built church.

It was interesting to find such a quirky tower enhancing a local parish church in what is an unremarkable, market town on the watery fringes of Essex, but .  .  .   there was more – striking mid-twentieth-century stained glass.


This stained glass was made by Frederick W Cole (1908-1998) working for Morris & Sons. Yes, that’s Morris & Sons which is not the famous Morris & Co founded by the William Morris. This stained glass company, Morris and Sons, was originally William Morris & Co of Westminster (also known as William Morris Studios). I can’t help but think that in our litigious times the chances of trading with such a similar name to a famous ‘brand’ would be nigh on impossible.

Generally, I am not a fan of twentieth-century figurative glass and I was surprised to find that this beautiful glass was installed in All Saints in 1950. Interestingly the style of the angels would not look out of place amongst late 1960s or early 1970s fashion illustrations yet perhaps Cole had been influenced by the earlier work of the Arts and Crafts stained glass master, Christopher Whall. For comparison some of Whall’s wonderful windows can be seen at Upton on Severn, Worcestershire.


Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

8 thoughts on “Ancient and Modern”

    1. Yes, the colours are lovely. It’s probably why I liked it so much. The colours seemed much clearer and stronger than the neighbouring Victorian stained glass which was very ‘painted’.
      No, I couldn’t find anything more about the triangular choice, but it might have been to do with reusing the old stone, which originally came from some distance away as there’s no natural stone in the area just flint. If they had wanted to build a taller, more impressive tower without sourcing more stone maybe just building three walls and not four was the answer!!
      Or, it could have been to maximise use of the available site space as one wall is right against the line of the old street which could have been an even older boundary. I think these are questions for the landscape and architectural historians.
      Of course, it could’ve been just someone’s idea. Maldon is a quirky town to this day existing in that liminal place of marsh and bog between land proper and open sea.

      1. Yes, I wondered if the site made a difference since I saw it in the location and it seemed to slot right in there like a puzzle piece, I thought maybe it needed to fit. But I really like the triangular look of it and I wonder why more buildings don’t go this route.

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