An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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14. BYTHORN (A.d.).
(1). Parish Church of St. Lawrence stands in the middle of the village. The walls are of Weldon rubble and cobbles, squared Weldon stone and ashlar; the roofs are covered with slate and lead. The presence of 12th-century detail incorporated in the walling suggests a former church of that date. Late in the 13th century the church was re-built with a chancel, Nave and N. aisle. The S. arcade and South Aisle were added early in the 14th century. About 1340 the Chancel was re-built and probably widened, the North Aisle was also re-built and the West Tower and South Porch were added. The clearstorey is an addition of the 15th century. In the 16th century the North Chapel was built. The church was restored in 1870 and the chancel in 1874.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (21¼ ft. by 15¼ ft.) has a modern E. window incorporating some 14th-century work in the splays, jambs and mullions; the upper part of the E. wall has been re-built. In the N. wall is a 16th-century arcade of two bays with two-centred arches of two orders, the outer hollow-chamfered and continuous and the inner chamfered and springing from semi-circular shafts to the central pier and responds and having moulded capitals and defaced bases. In the S. wall are two two-light windows both modern except the splays, rear-arches, and parts of the sills and moulded jambs which are of 14th-century date; the upper part of the wall is modern. The much restored chancel-arch of c. 1340 is two-centred and of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner carried on semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and chamfered bases; on the W. side the arch has a moulded label, repaired and with modern stops; both arch and responds have been considerably restored and the N. capital is modern; on either side of the arch is a squint, that on the N. side has chamfered jambs and a trefoiled ogee head on the W. face and a square head on the E. face; the S. squint is similar but with a two-centred trefoiled head on the W. face.
The North Chapel (21¼ ft. by 7¾ ft.) has in the N. wall two re-set 15th-century windows, the eastern of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label, and the western of two trefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label. In the W. wall is a modern archway into the S. aisle springing from old shaped corbels.
The Nave (39 ft. by 14¾ ft.) has a late 13th-century N. arcade of four bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders with a moulded label on the S. side. The piers are alternately circular and octagonal with a semi-octagonal E. respond and semi-circular W. respond, all with moulded capitals and bases. The early 14th-century S. arcade is of four bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders with a moulded label on the N. face; the piers are quatrefoil on plan with moulded capitals and bases but have been repaired and the capital to the first pier is modern; the outer order of the end arches dies on to the end walls and the inner is carried on moulded corbels with modern carving; the W. side of the westernmost arch was probably re-built when the W. tower was added. The 15th-century clear-storey has an embattled parapet and four windows on each side, each of two trefoiled lights with blind tracery in a square head with a moulded label.
The North Aisle (4¾ ft. wide) has in the N. wall three windows; the easternmost is of early 14th-century date and of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the middle window is similar but with modern repair; the westernmost is of mid 14th-century date and of two trefoiled lights with modern tracery in a square head with a moulded label and defaced head-stops. The re-set 13th-century N. doorway has chamfered jambs, moulded imposts and a two-centred chamfered head with a moulded label and crude head-stops. A straight joint marks the junction of the W. wall with the older W. wall of the nave.
The South Aisle (9 ft. wide) has in the E. wall a restored mid 14th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the rear-arch and splays are modern. In the S. wall are three restored windows each of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label and mask-stops; the easternmost window has one head-stop; the re-set and restored 13th-century S. doorway has chamfered jambs, moulded imposts and a two-centred chamfered head with a moulded label and defaced stops. In the W. wall is a two-light window similar to those in the S. wall but mostly modern.
The West Tower (about 8 ft. by 7½ ft.) is of c. 1340 and is of three stages with a moulded plinth; it is surmounted by an octagonal spire splayed into a square at the base. The tower-arch is two-centred and of two continuous moulded orders, with a moulded label returned along the wall to the side walls of the nave; above the arch the line of the former roof to the nave is visible. In the W. wall is a window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label and grotesque head-stops. The second stage has in the W. wall an equilateral triangular window with tracery and a continuous moulded label. The third stage has in each wall a two-light transomed window with the lower lights trefoiled and the upper lights cinque-foiled and with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label and grotesque head-stops; the transom of the W. window is modern. Above the windows is a frieze of quatre-foiled panels surmounted by a moulded frieze with grotesque carved bosses. The spire rises from a plain base, the angles of which are splayed back from a square to an octagonal plan. Between the spire and the base is a moulded string-course. Lighting the spire are three tiers of spire-lights towards the cardinal points. The windows in the first tier are transomed and each of two ranges of two trefoiled lights with a cusped panel in a gabled head; the windows of the second tier are each of two trefoiled lights with cusped panels in a gabled head; and the windows of the top range are each of a single trefoiled light in a gabled head. The spire is surmounted by a moulded finial.
The South Porch (8½ ft. by 7½ ft.) is of 14th-century date. The outer archway is of 14th-century origin but, except for part of the moulded jambs and the bases to the semi-circular responds, is of modern work. In the E. wall is a single-light window with hollow-chamfered jambs, two-centred head and moulded label but the splays and rear-arch are modern. In the W. wall is a similar window which retains part of the original rear-arch.
The Roof of the nave is of late 15th- or early 16th-century date and of four bays with moulded and cambered tie-beams, curved and moulded braces, short king-posts beneath which are carved bosses of foliage and heads, and carved grotesque faces at the junction of the tie-beams and purlins.
Fittings—Bells: four; 1st by Henry Bagley, 1682; 2nd by Henry Penn, 1711; 3rd by T. Norris, 1620; 4th by Thomas Norris 1674. Bracket: In S. aisle—on E. wall, with deep chamfer on a mask-corbel, 14th-century. Brass and Indent: Brass: under tower—to Sillina, wife of William Parris, 1658, inscription only. Indent: under tower—of inscription-plate, probably 17th-century. Communion Table: with plain top having modern addition at each end, carved and moulded rails and heavy turned legs, mid 17th-century. Font: octagonal bowl with chamfered upper and lower edge, plain octagonal stem and chamfered base on modern plinth, 16th- or 17th-century. Monument and Floor-slabs: Monument: In churchyard—in angle between chancel and S. aisle, head-stone to John Pierson(?), 1710. Floor-slabs: In N. chapel—(1) to Thomas Hill (?), 1693, also to Elizabeth, wife of . . . . . (2) to John Hustwait, 1653. Niche: In N. aisle—in N. wall, with two-centred chamfered head and moulded label, 13th- or early 14th-century. Piscina: In chancel—with hollow - chamfered jambs and trefoiled head with soffit cusping and chamfered label and projecting bowl with octofoiled drain, 13th-century. Plate: includes cup of 1614, given 1639, with baluster-stem and enriched steeple-cover. Recess: In chancel—in E. wall, small rectangular recess with modern sill. Sedile: In chancel—sill of S.E. window carried down to form seat, 14th-century. Sundials: On buttress, S. wall of chancel, scratched, with gnomon missing. On S.W. buttress of W. tower, carefully cut dial with figures, gnomon missing. Miscellanea: Fragments of 12th-century cheveron - ornament, re-used in S. wall of S. aisle.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys; the walls are of coursed rubble and the roofs are tiled or thatched. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams.