An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Cambridgeshire, Volume 1, West Cambridgshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1968.
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Harlton is a small village about 1 m. W. of Haslingfield standing in the middle of an irregularly shaped parish of 1261 acres. Drainage is to the Bourn Brook which forms the N. boundary and is less than 50 ft. above O.D. at the point where it leaves the parish; on the S. a ridge of lower chalk, rising to over 200 ft. and capped with boulder clay, divides Harlton from Barrington; intermediate soils vary through chalk and gault to river gravel in the immediate vicinity of the Brook. At the W. end of the S., upland, boundary stood the maypole, believed to have been on the site of the Wetherley hundred moot (Monument (17)).
The village houses range either side of a winding E. and W. street. The church, c. 1370 and of more than ordinary architectural merit, is placed N. of this street with Manor Farm (Monument (2)) and three earthworks (Monuments (14–16)) further N. and W. At the general enclosure (by act of 1808) there was a small green, S. of the church, which was divided and allotted.
Secular buildings of 1715–1850, not separately listed, include some internal-chimney houses in framing with thatched or tiled roofs, as well as others in white brick, clay bat and clunch, mostly with end-chimney plans. Some (e.g. at N.G. TL 38025235 and between 38245235 and 38375236) stand on ground allotted at enclosure to John Whitechurch who in 1814 won a prize from the Cambridgeshire Agricultural Society for 'the landowner who shall have laid the greatest quantity of land in lots of not less than one rood in each lot, to cottage houses, and furnished the cottager with young apple or other fruit trees' (Cambridge Chronicle, 29 April and 8 July 1814); but none of the seven model cottages, if any survive, is certainly identifiable.
(1) Parish Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Plates 92 and 93) stands on a slight eminence in a rectangular churchyard, extended to the E. since the general enclosure; it consists of a Chancel, Nave with Aisles and Porches, and West Tower. The church was entirely faced with Roman cement c. 1844; this has been replaced with later plaster in places, in others it has flaked off, while from the N. aisle it has recently been removed in the course of restoration. Judging from what is now exposed the walls of the chancel are of clunch ashlar, and those of the nave and tower of field stones and clunch, both with dressings of clunch and freestone. The roofs are covered with lead, except those of the aisles which are slated. The fabric, with the exception of the vestry built c. 1844 and the apparently earlier W. tower, may be ascribed on stylistic grounds to the second half of the 14th century. The chancel closely resembles that at Ashwell, Hertfordshire, which has been attributed to a date between 1360 and 1380 (R.C.H.M., Hertfordshire (1911), 38). There are no certain indications of an earlier building, though the carcase of the tower seems to pre-date, perhaps only slightly, its arch and blocked W. window; and the irregular dimensions of the chancel may imply reliance on older foundations. Most of the exterior detail, in particular labels and their stops and vulnerable horizontal features such as the embattled transoms in the S. aisle windows, may be original although the visible materials are entirely 19th-century or later. There is some restoration inside the building too, much of it also in Roman cement. In addition to the work of 1844, further renovation took place in 1912, and more is at present in progress.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (33¼ ft. by 18 ft. E. to 17½ ft. W.) has two-stage right-angle buttresses with weathered offsets at the E. end and on the S. side; to the N. there is only a low buttress of a single stage at the E. end of the wall, which may be the stub of the E. wall of an original comparatively large N. annexe replaced by the vestry. The wide E. window (Plate 69) is of five cinque-foiled lights with vertical and intersecting tracery in two orders. Above it the gable parapet has a moulded string carved with three reptilian grotesques, now much eroded. The N. wall has in the E. half an outward doorway, with continuously moulded jambs and head; at the W. end of the wall is a window of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery. The S. wall has similar three-light and two-light windows, both restored inside as well as out; between them is a doorway with continuously moulded jambs and head. The splays of the windows in the side walls are carried down below the glass; in the first window on the S. side the recess so formed serves as a sedile. The recesses to the two western windows finish level with the top of the stalls; that on the S. is formed by a later blocking of a three-light 'low-side' window below a transom. This 'low-side', exposed during recent repairs and subsequently reblocked, had cinquefoil heads to each light. The corresponding N. window may have had a similar feature. The chancel arch is of two moulded orders separated by three-quarter hollows and has moulded labels both sides, with carved stops (Plate 96) in part defaced or restored; the responds are treated as groups of three part-octagonal shafts corresponding to the orders of the arch, with intervening and flanking mouldings separately stopped, and with moulded caps and bases; the inner shaft on both sides has been cut into to fit the screen, the mullions of which are of the same section.
The Nave (49½ ft. by 18¾ ft.) has uniform arcades of four bays each, with lofty pointed arches of three moulded orders separated by three-quarter hollows; moulded labels both to the nave and to the aisles have carved head stops (Plate 96) some of which have been restored or re-cut. The piers are diagonal square on plan, the corners being treated as partoctagonal shafts with moulded caps and bases; between the shafts the middle orders of the arches are carried down to individual stops. (Plate 8.) The responds are half piers. The low clearstorey is blind.
The North Aisle (9¼ ft. wide) has an E. window of two lights with cinque-foiled heads and a mullion and transom, and flowing tracery in two orders in a two-centred head; its moulded internal label has stops carved as half angels bearing blank shields. The splays are carried down below the glass, presumably for a small reredos, but the recess has been lowered by cutting away another 6 ins. of walling. In the N. wall are three virtually uniform windows, each divided into three lights, with a transom, vertical tracery in a four-centred head, and an internal label; the lights are cinquefoil-headed except those below the transom in the first window which have been altered; the spandrels between the heads of the lower lights and the transoms are pierced in the second window but solid in the third. The blocked N. doorway has jambs and head continuously moulded; the side wall has a restored moulded string at window sill level which is stopped either side of the door. Canted across the S.E. corner of the aisle is a doorway (Plate 8) to an octagonal stair turret to the nave roof; it is continuously moulded, with cusped spandrels above on either side, suggesting a square outer head, and retains its original door. The turret stair has an original moulded and recessed rail and is lit by three trefoiled lancets in the N.E. face; it rises to a door in the S.W. face, now ruinous, above which the turret finishes with an embattled parapet with string-course and small gargoyle. A square-headed doorway to a rood loft was later intruded, but is now blocked.
The South Aisle (9¼ ft. wide) has windows generally resembling those of the N. aisle, but the E. window has flowing tracery and its transom is embattled internally; the side windows uniformly resemble with small variations those in the N. aisle. The S. doorway is wider and higher than the N. doorway and has moulded jambs, two-centred inner and square outer head with sunk cusped spandrels and a moulded label returned to the side walls. Along the S. wall internally at sill level is a moulded string, mutilated and restored. The W. walls of the aisles have apparently been blind from the beginning. The three-stage angle buttresses of the aisles, which have weathered offsets, are uniform except for one on the N. side which has been widened.
The North Porch, the floor of which has been lowered to form a heating chamber, is plastered internally; there are no windows in the side walls. In the angles are the springers of a vault. The entrance arch has continuous moulded jambs and head in two orders separated by a three-quarter hollow. The South Porch, which was formerly higher, is unusually short and wide and is plastered inside and out; no side windows are traceable. The entrance arch is in two orders, the outer continuous, the inner carried on part-circular shafts with moulded caps and chamfered bases.
The West Tower (9½ ft. by 8¾ ft.) is ordered externally in two stages, the lower stage coming right up to the sills of the belfry windows, at which level a string is carried round the tops of the three-stage W. angle buttresses: the upper stage has a large lancet with a label in each face and is surmounted by an embattled parapet. The W. window is blocked. The lofty tower arch is of three moulded orders to the E., separated by three-quarter hollows, the outside ones continuous with the responds, the inmost dying into chamfers, and has a moulded label; to the W. it is of a single moulded order only. The masonry is exposed inside the tower and it suggests that the arch and W. window may have been intruded into somewhat earlier walling. In the lower part of the S. wall is a recess finished with Roman cement, of doubtful date. The tower is topped by a low pyramidal roof.
The Roofs of the chancel and nave are 16th- or 17th-century. The chancel roof is of very low pitch and is divided into three bays by cambered tie beams; these and the ridge piece are moulded, with carved bosses at the intersections; the rafters and boarding are exposed. The nave roof, also low-pitched, has cambered tie beams braced to wall posts, short king posts braced to the ridge, side purlins resting on the tie and a dentilled wall plate; the extremities of the braces are masked by carved bosses resembling corbels and pendants. At the base of the wall posts are 14th-century or later stone corbels carved as half angels, except for two plain replacements. The lean-to aisle roofs are comparatively modern; they are supported at the top by old stone corbels which may be in situ.
Fittings—Benefactors' table: against W. wall of N. aisle, recording the re-pewing of the church in 1843 at the cost of the Incorporated Church Building Society (see Seating below). Brackets: In chancel—at E. end of N. wall (1) moulded and embattled, with supporting half angel; (2–4), reset, carved with conventional clouds and diagonal scrolls (see Screen below). In N. aisle—N. of E. window (5) moulded with supporting half angel. In S. aisle—either side of E. window (6) similar to (5); (7) defaced; set in string course below first window in S. wall (8) half angel with scroll. In N. porch— placed on springers of vault (9–12) four corbels similar to but not uniform with (2–4) above, that on the S.W. springer almost worn away; over N. door, supporting image (see Image below) (13) with several banks of cloud and parallel diagonal scrolls. All are late 14th- or 15th-century. Communion table: with enriched top rail, scrolled braces to turned legs and moulded bottom rail: first half of 17th century. Door: To stair turret in N. aisle (Plate 8) of overlapping vertical planks with scrolled strap hinges; second half of 14th century. Font: c. 1845 in Gothic style. Glass: in E. window (1) shield of the Trinity with gold roundels, ruby and clear background, black-letter inscriptions; second half of 14th century, reset. In E. window of S. aisle (2) a few quarries and border fragments; probably 15th-century. Image: reset over N. door, of clunch, figure seated upon throne in tunic with girdle at the waist, head and arms missing, perhaps Virgin and Child; second half of 14th century.
Monuments and Floor slabs. Monuments: In N. aisle (1) of John Whitechurch, 1828, his wife Sarah, 1837, and James, their son, 1819; in the Greek manner, signed 'Swinton Camb'; (2) of William Simpson, 1844, his wife Jane, 1865 and six children, died in infancy. In S. aisle (3) of Henry Fryer, 1631, his father Thomas Fryer, M.D., 1623, his mother Mary, 1614, and his step-mother Bridget who survived her husband (Frontispiece); 'a most beautiful and magnificent Monument', to quote Cole's description (Palmer, Inscriptions and Arms from Cambs., 73), in carved, painted and gilded alabaster, erected by Henry Fryer's executors, the main feature of which is an arched recess enclosing the kneeling effigies of Thomas, in doctor's robes, Henry in armour, and Mary in a black robe with ruff and flat-topped hat. In a basement is the likeness of Bridget, reclining upon a shelf or tomb chest in black robe with slashed sleeves, veiled and holding a book. The arch is supported by mourning terminal figures (Plate 89) to the same scale as the effigies and of monolithic appearance, on the E. side a male holding the hem of his garment to his left eye, on the W. a female with folded arms; both support cushions upon their heads beneath Ionic caps. The spandrels of the arch are filled by winged victories proffering wreaths; flanking them are two emblematic figures; a third above a scrolled pediment which encloses a cartouche of arms is a Charity with two infants. Within the arch, above the main effigies, is an inscription panel in a cartouche beneath an achievement of arms supported by flying cherubs. A Latin inscription, recording the names and dates of the departed, is followed by a rhyming and punning elegy in English. In the basement, pedestals either side of the effigy enclose further cartouches of arms; the tomb chest has a blank inscription panel on the face, also in a cartouche frame. The gilded iron rails and curtain rod described by Cole have disappeared. In churchyard—W. of tower (4) headstone, of Henry Page, 1717. Floor slabs: In nave (1) of Joseph Rich, 1838; (2) of John Wilson, 1822. In S. aisle (3) of John Whitechurch, date illegible; (4) of Mary, wife of John Whitechurch, 1814;(5) of Ann Whitechurch, 1813;(6) of Mary Whitechurch, 1771; (7) of Eliza, daughter of Robert and Ann Whitechurch, 1817;(8) of Robert Whitechurch, 1837; (9) of Ann Whitechurch, 1791.
Niches: In chancel—either side of E. window, part-hexagonal and almost uniform, each with image recess flanked by buttresses rising off carved corbels (Plate 96) and surmounted by a vaulted canopy with pinnacles at the angles and a cusped arch beneath a crocketed gable in each face, behind which a crocketed spire rises to a finial. The image stood on boldly projecting part-octagonal brackets or pedestals with crocketed gables in the faces enclosing vertical-tracery window forms beneath a carved cornice; the lower parts of these features are concealed or have been replaced by modern woodwork completing the composition. Second half of the 14th century, restored. Piscina: In chancel, having continuous moulded jambs, ogee cinque-foiled head and cusped spandrels beneath a square moulded label with 19th-century stops; no drain; second half of 14th century. Plate: includes a cup, gilded inside, London 1810. Pulpit: Octagonal, panelled in two heights with moulded base and dentilled cornice; the tall lower panels are carved with round arches enriched with guilloche and rising off fluted and reeded pilasters; the upper panels each have two double marigolds against a guilloche ground; first half of 17th century. Recess: In N. face of W. respond of N. arcade, with rebate for door or grille; the back has been hacked away and the wall above is irregular, as though a carved overpiece had been removed; mediaeval. Reredos (Plate 69): Beneath E. window and flanked by the two niches described above, divided by buttresses into 13 bays, and in three stages, the uppermost comprising a row of shallow image recesses, each with moulded jambs, depressed ogee cinque-foiled head and crocketed label rising to a finial beneath a moulded cornice. In the seven centre bays the middle and bottom stages are omitted to allow a plain recess for the altar; in the side bays they are occupied respectively by rectangular cinque-foiled panels and by a bold plinth. The complete buttresses have a base and three offsets. Second half of the 14th century, restored; the sculpture occupying the recesses is modern. Scratchings: A large number inside, scattered all over the building, incised on clunch dressings, mostly less than six feet above ground, predominantly in mediaeval or 16th-century minuscule, in Latin and English but including names and pictorial subjects such as windmills; names incised on the piers of the nave may imply a more or less deliberate votive or commemorative intention. The following is a selection: In chancel—on W. jamb of piscina (1) 'magna est veritas et praevalet'; on N. respond of chancel arch (2) 'suffraunce', followed by a long inscription, not read; on E. face of screen immediately N. of entrance (3) 'Pentecost' several times (also to be found elsewhere in the church). In nave—on first pier of N. arcade (4) 'Syr James [Hylton?]'; on second pier (5), repeated, 'qui me deridet non sua facta videt'; on third pier (6) 'orate pro anima Thome [?] cujus anime propicietur Deus amen'; on third pier of S. arcade (7) 'Pray for the so. ., of Rychard [?]'. The above transcripts have been expanded where appropriate.
Screen: of clunch, added beneath chancel arch but virtually contemporary, in two heights with central entrance having to the W. moulded jambs and continuous four-centred head; to the E. the entrance is rebated for a door and is flanked by pilaster buttresses. The lower height is plain except for a small opening with pointed head in the N. half (see Squint below). The upper height has two narrow openings either side of the entrance with cinque-foiled four-centred heads and sunk spandrels; two similar but wider openings over the entrance have depressed heads; over all is an embattled cornice. The responds of the chancel arch and both faces of the screen exhibit traces of a symmetrical arrangement of niches and brackets. On the W. face above the entrance is a cement patch corresponding to a bracket and image; the patch extends into the central mullion, and a short distance above it is a dowel hole for securing the image. Similar patches and dowel holes at one level are to be seen on the side mullions and on the S.W. and N.W. faces respectively of the N. and S. responds, except for the last mullion to the S. which has been partly renewed and is not dowelled. In the E. angles of the nave are larger patches indicating a pair of niches for images which were probably elements in the same iconographical scheme. There are a number of metal dowels above the cornice. On the E. face of the screen above the entrance is a small bracket carved with conventional clouds and including what may be meant for the lower part of a figure; the flanking pilasters are surmounted by moulded part-octagonal brackets. The lower height of the screen is concealed on the E. by stalls. The screen no doubt included, or was later supplemented by, woodwork. Patches in the nave sides of the E. responds of the main arcades some 2 ft. W. of the screen include provision for a beam somewhat above the level of the screen cornice and for further timbers lower down in the same vertical plane. A groove scored in the soffit of the chancel arch must at one time have held a wooden tympanum.
Some or all of a number of corbels reset in the chancel and N. porch (see Brackets (2–4) and (9–13) above) and a detached image, also in the N. porch (see Image above), may have come from the screen, as the measurements are appropriate. Seating: in the nave and aisles; 19th-century open pews with Gothic tracery are presumably those installed in 1843 (see Benefactors' table above). Squint: in screen and perhaps contemporary with it. Stalls: either side of chancel, returned against screen; only the desks, with crude shaped ends and fronts panelled with applied tracery, are old; 16th-century restored. Stoup: in S.W. angle of N. porch, mutilated and made up with extraneous stonework, but presumably original.
(2) Manor Farm consists of a house and buildings. The House (Class U), of two storeys with attics and cellar, has redbrick walls and hipped slated roof. It is late 17th-century, remodelled in the 19th century; a stone fragment in the garden, possibly part of a date panel, is inscribed '16[87?]'. A platband of three courses at first-floor level runs round the building. The main elevation to the W., in three bays, is 19th-century in character, but two original mullion-and-transom windows survive to the N. and E. Apart from a cupboard with panelled doors and shaped shelves no significant original features survive inside. The Buildings include a six-bay barn, aisled on one side, framed and boarded, of 16th- or 17th-century origin, and another of seven bays, also boarded, in part 18th-century.
(3) House, a square red-brick structure of the early 18th century with an ornamental eaves cornice of five courses and hipped tiled roof rising to a 19th-century chimney; it may have originated as a pigeon house.
(4) House (Class J), framed and plastered, with half-hipped thatched roofs, 17th-century, is of a single storey, open to the roof at the W. end behind the chimney; the remainder is now floored and with an attic. The chimney has a bread oven on the N. side.
(5) Houses, comprising a dwelling and two cottages built as a single unit c. 1840, two-storeyed, with walls of clunch ashlar, apparently of cavity construction, and slated roofs. The dwelling has a main elevation to the W. in three bays with round-headed front door. The cottages are attached to the back at the S. end and share an internal chimney.
(6) House, formerly two dwellings, framed, plastered and thatched, forms a long E. and W. range on the N. side of the street at the western outskirts. Both components are 17th-century. The E. half is of a single storey only and was originally open to the roof which is half-hipped to the E. There are indications of an original central hearth with a studwork chimney or cowl placed on the W. side of a central partition. The somewhat higher W. half has an attic lit by two (probably original) dormers, and a modern internal chimney which interrupts an axial stop-chamfered ceiling beam.
(7) Rectory, now alienated, two-storeyed, of white brick with hipped slated roofs, was built in the Regency tradition, by the then Rector, James Fendall, in 1843 at a cost of £1907. 1. 3. The plan is in double depth save for the lower N. wing which contains the offices: smaller rooms either side of the front door probably served for the professional duties of the incumbent, the larger apartments beyond for his private and social life.
(8) House (Class J), two-storeyed, with plastered downbraced frame and hipped roof covered with tiles, is of mid 17th-century origin. The unheated W. end of the house and the roof may be 18th-century.
(9) House (Class K), of one storey and attic, framed and plastered, with half-hipped thatched roof, was pulled down in 1961. It was of 17th-century origin, but examination during demolition made it clear that the building had been heightened and must originally have been one-storeyed.
(14) Moated Site (?) (N.G. TL 387526, not on O.S.),on a level site of chalk marl in pasture, 400 ft. N. of the church. A roughly rectangular platform, 86 ft. N. by 75 ft. E. by 90 ft. S. by 65 ft. W., is from 6 ins. to, on the W., 1 ft. high. W., S. and E. of this platform the field is scored by about ten parallel oval hollows running E. and W. One of these, 100 ft. S. of the platform, 100 ft. long, 40 ft. wide and 1ft. deep, may have been a pond; the remainder, of comparable length, are 15 ft. to 20 ft. wide and 6 ins. deep. A drawing made c. 1760 (B. M. Stowe MS. 1025, 58) shows a small moat attached on the W. to a larger embanked enclosure; the 1808 enclosure map (C.R.O.) shows the small moat endorsed 'Moat Orchard'.
(15) Pond (N.G. TL 383526; not on O.S.), in the E. half of Butler's Spinney, now dry. A sketch, apparently of this feature, made c. 1760, is in the British Museum (B. M. Stowe MS. 1025, 58). A roughly rectangular area measuring 300 ft. S.E. by 180 ft. W. is bounded on three sides by a bank 35 ft. wide and 4 ft. to 5 ft. high with a flat top 11 ft. to 18 ft. wide. This enclosure seems to have been filled by streams running E. along the S. side and N. along the E. side; the interior is now drained by a deep channel running parallel to and N. of the S. bank.
(16) Moated Site (Class A 3; N.G. TL 385530, only moat (a) on O.S.), occupying a roughly oblong area of gault clay under pasture, with a slight rise to the E., between two streams flowing N. The complex consists of three moats, connecting channels and two fishponds. In the 16th or 17th century the whole appears to have been gardens and pools around a house occupying moat (a), but moat (b), which unlike the remainder is clearly defensive, may have originated as the site of a mediaeval manor house; 17th-century pottery has been found. The enclosure map (C.R.O.) shows that in 1808 the site was approached from the S. by a lane branching off the road and running beside the E. stream and present field boundary.
(a), the middle moat, is sub-rectangular, 80 ft. N. by 117 ft. E. by 92 ft. S. by 95 ft. W., and is surrounded by a wet ditch 30 ft. wide and 2½ ft. deep. Three corners of the interior are slightly raised. A recent trench near the N.W. angle exposed, 6 ins. below the surface, a 6-in. layer of roofing tiles, bones, oyster shells and charcoal, of uncertain date but with a 17th-century potsherd.
The E. stream flows along the E. side of (a). A curving channel to the W. marks a former course of the W. stream and is connected to the S.W. corner of (a) by a ditch, from which another channel, to the N.E., apparently filled two trapezoidal fishponds 15 ft. to 27 ft. wide and respectively 75 ft. and 90 ft. long.
(b), to the S., is rectangular, 142 ft. by 125 ft., with a dry ditch 25 ft. to 30 ft. wide and 2 ft. deep. The ditch was probably filled from the streams by two channels, now dry and shallow. A causeway across the E. side does not seem to be original.
(c), to the N. of (a), is a moat with a ditch 14 ft. to 22 ft. wide and 1½ ft. deep surrounding an island 36 ft. square. The N. side is continued E. and W. by a channel 30 ft. wide with a bank to the N. 25 ft. wide and 1½ ft. high.
(17) Mound (N.G. TL 36725154; at trigonometrical point on O.S.), in arable, on the summit of a prominent hill, of chalk capped with boulder clay, 200 ft. above sea level; 150 ft. in diameter and only 6 ins. to 9 ins. high. Mediaeval pottery of the 11th to 14th centuries and later has been found on the surface. This was the site of a maypole until at least 1887 (O.S. 6 ins., 1st ed.) and may perhaps be the lost Wetherley, the meeting place of the hundred of that name. (Reaney, 'Placenames of Cambs.', 69.)
(18) Cultivation Remains (not on O.S.). Slight remains of ridge and furrow survive in the W. of the parish, around N.G. TL 378525, with ridges 100 yds. long, 6 yds. to 12 yds. wide and 1 ft. high and with headlands of 9 yds. to 11 yds. Others around N.G. TL 389525, with curved ridges, are now only 60 yds. to 100 yds. long, 9 yds. to 12 yds. wide and 1 ft. high with a headland of 15 yds; they are the S. end of a larger block.
There are traces of curving furlongs on air photographs, S. of the village around N.G. TL 384520, and in the N. and N.W. of the parish around N.G. TL 392537 and 384547; between the Cambridge to Wimpole road and the W. parish boundary are traces of two curving headlands 460 yds. and 600 yds. long and 230 yds. to 260 yds. apart, running N.E. and S.W. All the remains and traces seem to belong to the open fields, called in 1808 'Brook', 'High', 'Low' and 'Mill' Fields.