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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Boxworth is a parish of 2602 acres, which forms an irregular strip some 4 m. long stretching from the Cambridge to Huntingdon road (the via Devana) in the N. as far as the Cambridge to St. Neots road in the S. The St. Neots road is there almost 240 ft. above O.D. From it the land falls to just under 50 ft. at the N. end, drainage being by two small tributaries of the river Ouse, the more considerable of which forms the boundary on the W. side with Knapwell and Elsworth.
The village, a not inconsiderable one at Domesday, is now small and scattered. A street some ½ m. in length formerly ran from a small triangular green at the S.W. end to a point just S. of Manor House Farm (Monument (4)). This street was part of the old road from Elsworth to Cambridge through Lolworth, and the rerouting of traffic during the first half of the 19th century to join the Roman road about 1 m. further N.W. at N.G. TL 35886562 gave rise to the modern oblique road through the N.E. end of the village; the N.E. half of the old street was abandoned in consequence and at one point (N.G. TL 34916428) actually built over.
The original nucleus was perhaps in the neighbourhood of a second, four-sided, green, some 150 yds. E.N.E. of the church, where disturbed ground in the modern fields may indicate old house sites and closes. Much of this green together with a back lane N. of the church has been enclosed and incorporated in the grounds of the Rectory.
The house of one manor was at Overhall (Monument (15)) on the W. edge of the parish adjoining Knapwell. The old road from Knapwell to Boxworth, which no longer exists, presumably passed through the enclosure of the moated site there.
Much of Boxworth was already enclosed in 1650 (map in Hunts. Record Office); though in 1794, when Vancouver wrote, there were still 900 acres of open field. He describes the parish, not quite accurately, as being in one ownership, and goes on to remark that the 'farmhouses and cottages form a most beautiful village, well situated and in excellent repair' (Vancouver, Ag. of Cambs., 108–10). The monuments listed below include several of brick which he must have seen.
Enclosure, under the general act of 1837, was completed in 1843. Some of the changes described above may have been effected then; the small migration on to the St. Neots road indicated by Monuments (10) and (11) had already taken place.
c(1) Parish Church of St. Peter stands at the N.E. end of the village, in the E. half of a large churchyard which is bounded to the W. by a low 19th-century brick wall with older coping. It consists of a Chancel, Nave with South Aisle and two porches, and West Tower; a vestry, S. of the chancel, overlaps the aisle. The walls are of field rubble and reused material with clunch and freestone dressings. The nave and aisle roofs are lead-covered; the chancel and tower are slated. The N. wall of the nave is 12th-century; its W. wall and the long E. respond of the S. arcade are of 12th-century origin. Threequarter shafts, re-employed in the buttresses of the S. aisle, may be quoins from this original structure. Other reused stonework includes the head of a small window (Plate 4) which, at the latest, is of the 12th century also (see Sectional Preface, p. xxxv). Chantry foundations by the de Bokesworth family from the mid 14th century onward are presumably reflected in the S. arcade and S. aisle which are appropriate in style. A remodelling of the rest of the building was apparently carried out about the same time. The fabric was severely damaged in a storm on November 4th 1636 and was apparently rebuilt in or soon after 1640 (Brief of 22nd June 1639 in Bodleian MS. Gough, Camb. 3, 141). Judging by Cole's sketch (B.M. Add. MS. 5809, 132) the walls of the present chancel can be ascribed to that rebuilding; the vestry, probably on the site of a similar mediaeval annexe, may in origin be contemporary with the chancel. The tower, rebuilt c. 1640 and again in 1811, was remodelled and heightened in a general restoration of 1868–9. The S. porch was then added and the N. porch reconstructed.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (18 ft. by 19¼ ft.) with rendered walls is of 17th-century origin. The four-centred head of the N. doorway, which is of a single continuously chamfered order, is Gothic revival, probably of the 17th-century; otherwise the detail is 19th-century. The chancel arch, 14th-century in origin, is of two chamfered orders with an intervening hollow and rises off responds of similar section with moulded caps but no bases; it has been rebuilt, possibly in the 17th century.
The Nave (54½ ft. by 18¼ ft.) has in the N. wall three uniform windows each of two cinque-foiled lights with tracery in seg mental pointed heads. The first two are in clunch and of the 14th century with original external labels; the third is a modern copy in freestone. Between the second and third windows is the 14th-century continuously moulded N. doorway. Immediately W. of it, rising to a height of about 4½ ft. from the floor of the porch, is the lower part of the W. jamb of an earlier, probably 12th-century, doorway. The clunch-built 14th-century S. arcade is of four arches, each of two chamfered orders with an intervening hollow. The piers and responds are uniform in section with moulded caps and chamfered bases.
The South Aisle (7½ ft. wide) has a blind and featureless E. wall, placed a few feet W. of the chancel arch and ranging with the nose of the long E. respond of the arcade. In the S. wall are three square-headed clunch windows: the first, of four uncusped lights, is of the 16th or 17th century; the other two, of the late 14th or of the 15th century, are each of two cinque-foiled lights. The 14th-century S. doorway has continuous moulded jambs and two-centred head. The W. window, of a single light, resembles and is contemporary with the adjoining windows in the S. wall.
Fittings—Bell: inscribed, by Christopher Graye, 1669. Bell frame: 17th-century or later. Brass: on N. wall of chancel, inscription plate to John Killingworth, Rector, 1667. Brass indents: in chancel—(1) of two rectangular plates of uncertain date; (2) of a priest with attached inscription plate; late mediaeval. Chest: rectangular, dug-out, iron-bound with lock and three hasps; mediaeval, cut down and crudely repaired. Clock: 18th-century, with repair plate of 1879. Font: of freestone, plain octagonal, perhaps 13th-century.
Monuments and Floor slabs. Monuments: On S. wall of chancel —(1) of John Standly, 1761; (2) of Rev. Thomas Hirst, Rector, 1791, his first wife Bridget, 1762, and their son, Thomas, 1761. On N. wall of nave—(3) of Robert Underwood, 1792, with list of benefactions, signed 'Payne St. Ives'. Floor slabs: in chancel—(1) of John Standly, 1761; (2) of Bridget wife of Thomas Hirst, 1762, and Thomas their son, 1761; (3) of Johannes Valens (John Valence), 1653; (4) of Nicholas Saunderson, F.R.S., Professor of Mathematics, Cambridge, 1739; (5) of William Dickons, Rector, 1707. Plate: includes an inscribed cup and a paten, both unmarked, c. 1570 and a 19th-century Britannia metal alms dish by Dixon. Pulpit: octagonal, sides each of two bolection-moulded panels and top rail inscribed 'WW 1682'; original enriched book rest supported on large scrolls; stem consisting of post with moulded cap and base rising to an eight-sided cove, mediaeval. Miscellaneous: incorporated in the N. wall of the nave, below the westernmost window, is the monolithic round head of an 11th- or 12th-century window (Plate 4). It is rebated for an external shutter and enriched with two rows of shallow diaper ornament.
c(3) Church Farm consists of a house and buildings immediately S. of the church. The House of two storeys and attics with walls of red brick and tiled roofs is made up of a N. and S. range, gabled at the ends, with a small block of equal height, roofed parallel, on the W. side at the S. end. Though irregular in design and execution the building appears to be entirely of the mid 18th century. The Buildings include four large barns, the northernmost of which may be of the 17th century.
c(6) Upper End Farm, house, two storeys, of brick and framing, with tiled roofs, is a Class-U house predominantly of c. 1700 but incorporating part of an earlier, perhaps 17th-century, structure and enlarged in modern times. The N.W. front has a platband at first-floor level and dentil cornice. The N.E. end has platbands at first-floor and eaves levels and twin gables each with a bull's-eye window.
c(7) Page's Farm, house (Class L), two storeys and attics, of red brick partly rendered, with tiled roofs, is of the late 18th century. The principal elevation, to the S.E., is symmetrically designed in three bays with central front door and dormers set back from the wall face. There is a gable at either end of the main range. The N.E. end has a semi-external chimney; a second, internal, chimney is placed at the junction of the two ranges.
c(8) Long Row (Plate 34), houses forming a terrace of six, one storey and attics, of studwork with brick ends, is 18th-century. The front doors have framed wooden panels at the head for house numbers. The W. end is decoratively treated with platband at eaves level, tumbled gable parapet rising to a chimney stack and two blind windows, the upper of which is round-headed.
e(11) Two Pots House Farm (N.G. TL 344598), former inn or public house, on the N. side of the Cambridge-St. Neots road, of two storeys, white brick with slated roof, has a symmetrical three-bay front elevation with date stone '1834'. Behind is a small cobbled yard with cellarage and other contemporary outbuildings in red brick, including a brew-house.
c and d(12–14) Houses (Class J), of one storey and attics, with thatched half-hipped roofs. (13) and (14) are framed and plastered; (12) has been under-built in white brick; (14) has lost a bay at the E. end, (5) the smithy being built on its site. All three are 17th- or 18th-century.
c(15) Moated Site (Class A 2 (c)) consists of the moat and a related enclosure. The site, on a gentle slope of boulder clay W. to the stream which forms the boundary with Knapwell parish, is almost entirely covered with the trees and dense undergrowth of Overhall Grove. Somewhat to the S.W. at N.G. TL 33796300 is a chalybeate spring known as the 'Red Well'. The remains may be assumed to be those of the manor of Overhall mentioned in documents of 1386, 1483, 1502, etc. (Reaney, 'Place-names of Cambs'., 165; W. Rye, C.A.S., 8vo. Publ. XXVI (1891)).
The Moat (N.G. TL 339633), which is the nucleus, is roughly rectangular, 130 ft. N. to S. by 110 ft. E. to W., with a ditch 25 ft. to 40 ft. wide, 6 ft. to 9 ft. deep and 5 ft. to 12 ft. wide at the bottom. An external bank is best preserved on the W., where it is 20 ft. wide and 2 ft. to 3 ft. high. The entrance at the E. end of the N. side, a causeway 22 ft. wide, is original; a square projection to the W., 40 ft. by 40 ft. within an indentation of the main ditch, probably protected it (cf. Croydon (19)). Shallow ditches running N. from this entrance may be feeders for the moat. The E. entrance, a causeway 20 ft. wide, is probably not original. Slight mounds and scarps inside the moat give no certain evidence for the internal buildings. Pottery of the 11th to the 14th century has been found.
The Enclosure, of irregular plan, some 500 ft. N. to S. by 640 ft. E. to W., with multiple banks and ditches, can be traced to the N., W. and S. of the moat. The banks are 8 ft. to 20 ft. wide and up to 4 ft. high. The gap 18 ft. wide at the S.W. angle is probably an original entrance; a second gap, in the S. side was apparently made for a later footpath. The S. side terminates to the E. 15 ft. from a wet ditch running N. and S. which may mark the line of the E. side of the enclosure. A second enclosure, to the S., is suggested by a slight bank between ditches roughly parallel to the S. side.
Two rectangular fish ponds connected by a narrow and shallow channel lie at an angle to each other in the N.W. corner of the enclosure: the N.E. pond is 64 ft. long, 20 ft. wide and 6 ft. deep; the other is 80 ft. long, 25 ft. wide and 6 ft. to 8 ft. deep.
The Moat (Class A 2 (c); N.G. TL 348638) is a rectangle measuring 82 ft. N.W. to S.E. by 60 ft. N.E. to S.W. with an inset 18 ft. square at the W. angle. The ditch is 27 ft. to 34 ft. wide and 5 ft. to 8 ft. deep; the S.E. side extends N.E. beyond the moat for 128 ft. and may be an approach leat. There is no clear entrance, but a shallowing of the ditch in the S.W. side just S. of the inset may be the site of one. A platform 18 ft. to 25 ft. wide and 1 ft. high may be for former buildings.
The Enclosure (not on O.S.), 580 ft. N.W. to S.E. by 340 ft. N.E. to S.W., is bounded on the N.E. and S.E. by a spread bank 15 ft. to 20 ft. wide and 1½ ft. high with a ditch 6 ft. wide and 2½ ft. deep outside it, and on the N.W. by a stream; on the S.W. there are faint traces only of the bank and ditch. The moat is towards the N.W. end.
The Moat (N.G. TL 348641) was 50 ft. square with a wet ditch 35 ft. to 40 ft. wide; the Enclosure was to the N.W. The whole lay in a wide strip of unploughed land between old closes showing ridge and furrow.
(18) Cultivation Remains (not on O.S.). Ridge and furrow with straight or slightly curved ridges 100 yds. to 230 yds. long, 6 yds. to 11 yds. wide and 6 ins. to 9 ins. high, with headlands of 5 yds. to 9 yds., lies around the village, e.g. near N.G. TL 346642 and 350641; these are in old enclosures. Around 352647 the ridges, arranged in 7 or 8 furlongs of 20 to 30 ridges each, vary considerably in width. Usually there are 5 to 15 ridges of one width, followed by 5 to 15 of a different width, perhaps indicating strips of 5 to 15 lands in different tenures when part of the open fields, although they were in old enclosures by 1839. Remains S. of the village around 342622 suggest that ridge and furrow was confined to the existing field boundaries which were old enclosures at that date.
Traces of curving ridge and furrow of open-field type occur on air photographs over most of the parish. To the N. of the village around N.G. TL 344651 two blocks, end to end, each over 100 yds. long and with reversed-S ridges, appear to have been ploughed as one, resulting in ridges 320 yds. long with double reversed-S curves and with the intermediate headlands ploughed out. The three open fields of the parish to which most of these traces belonged were called in 1650 'South', 'North' and 'West' Fields, and in 1839 'Backend', 'Down' and 'Elsworth Way' Fields.