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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The parish of Toft, 1285 acres in extent, forms with Hardwick a tidy rectangle flanked on the E. by Comberton and on the W. by Caldecote (originally Bourn). The sub-dividing boundary is irregular, particularly at its W. end, where it plunges sharply to the S. to exclude Hardwick Wood. The ground, here more than 200 ft. above O.D., falls sharply to the winding Bourn Brook, which flows at about 60 ft. as it leaves the parish. The Brook forms the S. boundary, save where its more extravagant meanders have been corrected in comparatively recent times, and at N.G. TL 35985558 where an ancient crossing at the foot of Pinford Well Lane leads S. into Armshold Lane; on the E. side of this last a long oval enclosure of about 3¼ acres forms an enclave of Toft between Kingston and Great Eversden. A number of small streams drain S. in moderately deep valleys to the Brook; the village is placed between two of these on glacial and river gravels with some intervening gault, and is served by one or two springs of water. The remainder of the parish is boulder clay.
The fields of Toft, prior to enclosure by act of 1812, were arranged in rows parallel with the Brook and separated by irregular balks sufficiently wide to provide for local E. and W. traffic (draft enclosure map, n.d.). One of these, called 'Lot Way', links the three churches of Comberton, Toft and Caldecote and corresponds to an ancient road noted by Fox (Arch. Camb. Reg., 169–170). The village has the appearance of interrupting this field and track system. The sub-rectangular grid lay-out, already much decayed, has been further obliterated in recent years by modern building. Church and manor lie at the S.E. corner.
There are no mediaeval buildings in Toft apart from the church, and this, prior to a virtual rebuilding in the 19th century, seems not to have been older than late 14th century or c. 1400. There is some reason to believe that the whole settlement was in a state of decline by the end of the 14th century (V. C. H., Cambs. II, 71); the church had belonged to the alien priory of Swavesey which was then suppressed c. 1401 in favour of the Carthusians of Coventry (W. M. Palmer, 'Swavesey Priory', Cambs. & Hunts. Arch. Soc. Trans. I (1904), 29–48). A few houses of the 17th century, among which Monument (6) is noteworthy, speak for a modest revival and this was repeated under a series of improving 'squarsons' in the early to mid 19th century (Monuments (2), (3), (7) and (13)), clay bat and thatch being favoured materials.
b(1) Parish Church of St. Andrew stands at the S.E. corner of the village. The rectangular churchyard is enclosed by a low wall; the boundary may have been altered somewhat in the 19th century, when the roadway which now runs along the N. side was moved from the S. side. The fabric, of field stones with dressings of freestone and clunch and tiled roofs, is virtually modern. The S. arcade and chancel arch of c. 1400 and the late 14th-century tower arch have been rebuilt using some of the old materials, except for the responds of the S. arcade and the base of the tower which may be in situ. At the rebuilding, in 1863, a N. aisle was added. The W. tower fell in 1890 while being pulled down and was rebuilt in 1894. The 15th-century nave roof is divided into five bays by moulded tie beams with curved braces to moulded wall posts, and has trussed rafters and moulded and embattled wall plates; reset.
Fittings—Bells: three, 1st by Christopher Graye, 1666; 2nd with black-letter inscription 'Sancta Caterina Ora Pro Nobis' and shields of the Bury foundry; 3rd has on waist a gridiron, two coin imprints and a fleur-de-lis; 2nd and 3rd are mediaeval. Brass indents: in nave (1) for small figure with attached inscription plate, late mediaeval; in S. aisle (2) for inscription plate. Font: octagonal bowl with moulded under-edge, plain stem and chamfered base; 15th-century. Monuments and Floor Slabs. Monuments: In S. aisle (1) of Mary, wife of Thomas Wilkins, 1835. In churchyard, on S. side (2) of Thomas Holder, 1775, table tomb; (3) of John Haggerston, 1813, and his widow, Elizabeth Haggerston, 1829, table tomb; in the churchyard, a few 18th-century headstones. Floor slabs: In chancel (1) of Mary, wife of George Chapman, 175(?), slab cut down; (2) of William Eversden, 1737, with shield of arms; (3) of Mary, wife of William Eversden, 1726, and Mary their daughter, 1734, with shield of arms. In nave (4) of William Eversden, 1734, with shield of arms. Glass: in E. window, reset fragments of the late 18th or early 19th century include four small figures in the tracery lights; figures of Moses and Daniel, and of David and Ezekiel, with tabernacle work and appropriate black-letter inscription scrolls, in the main side lights; head of Christ, crucifixion label, soldiers and heads of onlookers, in main central light. Piscina: in chancel, incorporates old octofoil drain. Plate: includes a cup, London 1846. Pulpit: altered and in part made up, although an 'old pulpit' is mentioned by Cole (B.M. Add. MS. 5804, 102); each of four sides has five linenfold panels in moulded frames and a single panel below carved with foliage; of 16th-century origin. Miscel laneous: Alabaster fragments (Plate 13; Philip Nelson, 'Some unpublished Alabaster Carvings', Arch. J. LXXXII (1925), 35–6), with original colour and gilt, reset in a shallow rectangular recess in S. wall of chancel, and all more or less mutilated, include two figures some 2¼ ft. high, of good quality: a bishop in vestments, crozier missing, and a headless figure (? of Henry VI; Nelson says St. Hubert), in robe, mantle, and ermine tippet, bearing, right, a sceptre, and, left, a book, with a yale and a small lion(?) at his feet. Among the remaining eight fragments are the feet of a St. Christopher, portions of soldiers from a Resurrection, etc. All are 15th-century.
The House, built c. 1845 to the designs of S. W. Dawkes (Ecclesiologist IV (1845), 189), is comparatively large, partly of two and partly of three storeys, faced with knapped flints and with sandstone dressings, and has tiled roofs. The idiom is 'Tudor': windows, divided by mullions and some transoms, the subsidiary lights immediately below the lintels having four-centred heads; gables with parapets; gablets with wooden barge boards; and shafted chimney stacks. The chief features of the interior are intersecting ceiling beams, linenfold panelling, and a stair with octagonal newel posts the moulded caps of which terminate in ball finials.
b(3) Range (Plate 33), designed as three dwellings, immediately N. of the church, two-storeyed, of clay bat rough-cast, with thatched roofs. The idiom is cottage Tudor, with gables, dormers, porches, casement windows with square labels, and shafted chimney stacks in white brick. A panel over the middle porch on the S. side is inscribed 'E.P. A.D. 1845'.
b(4) Farm House and Buildings on the S. side of the road to Comberton, all mid 19th-century. The House, two-storeyed and of white brick with slated roofs, has a N. front in three bays with central front door having an oblong fanlight, boxed eaves and end chimneys. The Buildings lie to the N. and occupy three sides of a rectangular yard; they are partly framed and partly of white brick.
b(5) House, L-shaped, two-storeyed, framed and plastered, with tiled roofs. The E. and W. main range is parallel to the Comberton road with the ridge carried over the lower cross wing and terminating in a gablet. A chimney at the junction of the range and the wing is original. There are few distinctive features, inside or out, but the building appears to be 17th-century.
b(6) House and Pigeon House on N. side of Comberton road. The House (Plate 107), two-storeyed, partly framed and partly of brick, with tiled roofs, has a Class-J nucleus, running N. and S., perhaps of the early 17th century. A short distance N. of this, in line but at right angles, was a detached outhouse. The house was enlarged and remodelled in the mid 17th century with balancing cross wings at the N. and S. ends, that at the N. end being provided, then or subsequently, with a lean-to on the N. to link the main building and the outhouse.
Externally the complex is mid 17th-century in appearance, with three shafted chimney stacks set on the ridges of the main range and the two wings. The S. cross wing, which has been formed by extending the S. end of the original Class-J house to the W., is plainly built of plastered framing and red brick; the N. cross wing has a W. gable end in brick with three platbands, the middle one, at eaves level, being returned as a label around the heads of two small symmetrically disposed windows.
Internally the two-phase structural history is clearly reflected. The lower part of the chimney in the main range is of clunch. Some of the framing is exposed. The ground-floor ceiling beams of the original house have wide chamfers with ogee stops and are accurately framed into chamfered plates. The corresponding beam at the added W. end of the S. wing is ovolo-moulded and stopped. S. of the chimney in this wing, and probably of the same age as it, is a winding stair. The bedroom at the N. end of the original house has an original ceiling beam; the other two have ovolo-moulded beams, suggesting that they were originally open to the roof.
At the S. end of the middle room on the ground floor of the original house is a dado of reset mid 17th-century panelling, with a richly carved frieze of foliated strapwork, framed in run-through rails enriched with guilloche and stiles enriched with scroll-work.
The Pigeon house, some 60 yds. N.E. of the house, now framed and boarded but originally plastered, with hipped tiled roof rising to E. and W. gablets, retains some original nesting boxes of clay bat; 18th-century.
b(7) School House (Class S), two-storeyed of clunch ashlar and brick with thatched roof. The central front door is of six panels with circular bosses in the top panels; above it is a rectangular panel with the initials SCW in an oval and the date 1824 in the spandrels.
b(8) House (Class I), the middle portion of a complex of dwellings, of 17th-century origin, framed and plastered, with tiled roof. The structure was heightened later in the century, at which stage a floor was inserted. This is carried on a chamfered axial beam with an elaborate stop, supported at one end by a post and at the other by a strut resting on the fireplace bressummer; the head of the post and the strut are elaborately carved as consoles, with acanthus, guilloche, etc.
b(9) Range, designed in the mid 19th century as four dwellings, two-storeyed, of clay bat with brick dressings and low-pitched slated roofs. The main elevation E. to the street has a gabled cross wing at either end and a shallow central projection, similarly gabled. Inexplicably, one upstairs room to each of the middle dwellings is entirely sealed off and unlit.
b(11) House, partly of two storeys, partly of one storey and attic, with thatched roofs. The lower part, framed and plastered except for some recent casing, is of late and poor construction. The taller block, of the 18th century, is in red brick with platband W. to the street and rebuilt end chimney.
b(12) House (Class L) two-storeyed, framed and plastered, with thatched roofs; inside, some of the framing, which is crude but substantial, is exposed, and includes stop-chamfered ceiling beams; 17th-century.
b(13) Wood Barn (N.G. TL 35465713), two or three houses, designed as a long range with short projecting wing to the S., two-storeyed, of plastered clay bats, with thatched roofs having end gables with barge-boards and shafted chimney stacks in white brick; mid 19th-century.
b(14–18) Houses, of internal-chimney design and of one or two storeys, framed and plastered, one cased, with thatched, tiled or slated roofs, 17th- to 18th-century; (16) may have been heightened; (17) is ruinous except for one inhabited bay.
b(19) Mound (N.G. TL 37105600; not on modern O.S.), the site of a windmill in 1845 (O.S. 1 in. 1845); on the edge of a low gault-clay ridge in arable, 100 ft. above O.D.; 40 ft. across and 9 ins. to 1 ft. high.
b(20) Mound (N.G. TL 35325643), on a ridge covered with boulder clay 160 ft. above O.D.; circular, 60 ft. across and 2 ft. high. Flints and 13th-century and later pottery occur on the surface. The site, now under arable, is that of a windmill reached by 'Mill Way'.
(21) Cultivation Remains (not on O.S.). Ridge and furrow 60 yds. to 200 yds. long, 5 yds. to 11 yds. wide and 6 ins. to 1 ft. high, survives from the open fields in the S. and S.W. of the parish at N.G. TL 370549 and 350560 (curved and reversed-S ridges); also S.E. of Toft Manor at N.G. TL 364555. To the W. and N. W. of the village the remains of old village closes indicate that they were curved like the open-field furlongs, and clearly enclosed from them. Traces of ridge and furrow on air photographs show the curving furlongs of the open fields to the N.W. of the village and, less completely, to the E. and S.E.