An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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3. ALCONBURY (C.d.).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)XVII N.E., (b)XVII S.E.)
Alconbury is a parish and large village (Plate 15) 4 m. N.W. of Huntingdon. The church and bridge are the principal monuments.
a(1). Parish Church of SS. Peter and Paul stands at the N. end of the village. The walls of the chancel are mainly of pebble-rubble but incorporate much re-used stone and the remaining walls are of mixed Weldon and Ketton rubble; the dressings are of Weldon, Ketton and Barnack stone; the roofs are covered with lead. The E. angles of an early and no doubt aisleless Nave survive, incorporated in the W. buttresses of the chancel and there is much re-used 12th-century material in the chancel-walls. The present Chancel is of c. 1250 and probably about the same time the nave was re-built with N. and South Aisles. About 1280–90 the West Tower was built, and the W. bay of the S. aisle re-built. About 1330 the arcades of the Nave were re-built with the North Aisle and the clearstorey, spire and South Porch added. Late in the 15th century the chancel and aisles were re-roofed, the walls, particularly those of the chancel, were heightened. In the following century the nave was re-roofed. The building was restored in 1877 when the lower part of the W. tower was entirely re-built.
The church is of interest, the 13th-century chancel and its 15th-century roof both being particularly good examples of work of their respective periods; among the fittings the early Renaissance communion-table is noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (41½ ft. by 16½ ft.) is of c. 1250 (Plate 12). The E. wall has a low-pitched gable with an ashlar parapet the string of which is carved with foliated corbels and carved angels at the apex and the lower ends. A 13th-century moulded string-course decorated with mask-corbels has been re-used to support the 15th-century parapet to the N. and S. walls. In the E. wall are three original lancet-windows with a conjoined moulded label and mask-stops and with elaborately moulded two-centred rear-arches with a moulded label with one carved and one mask-stop over the middle light; the rear-arches are carried on double or triple detached shafts with attached moulded capitals and bases; from the wall behind the capital to each of the central shafts to the middle light is a small corbel carved with a knot or foliage. The N. wall has a wall-arcade of six complete bays and a half bay at either end, all with moulded two-centred arches with moulded labels and mask-stops; the arches are carried on detached shafts with moulded capitals and bases of similar detail to the shafts to the E. window; the easternmost angle-shaft is carried up to above the springing to carry the half-arch of the E. bay and the westernmost shaft has been taken away and replaced by a corbel carved as a half-angel, probably of 15th-century date, which supports the 13th-century capital; within the second, fourth, sixth and seventh bays are lancet-windows with chamfered jambs and moulded labels with mask-stops; between the two westernmost windows and behind the column of the wall-arcade, is an original blocked doorway with a square head and roll-moulded jambs carried up to form a trefoiled tympanum. The S. wall has an internal wall-arcade uniform with that of the N. wall; in the second bay is a partly restored early 14th-century window of two uncusped lights with a plain spandrel in a two-centred head with a moulded label and mask-stops; in the fourth bay is a lancet-window similar to those in the N. wall, with a moulded label and 14th-century mask-stops and in the sixth bay is a similar window; in the seventh bay is a late 15th- or early 16th-century transomed window of two trefoiled lights with pierced spandrel in a four-centred head with a re-used label and mask-stops; the splays of the former 13th-century lancet have been incorporated in the later window and are visible above the head, the jambs of the lower lights are rebated for shutters, of which the hinge-pins still remain; the window cuts into a blocked doorway of similar design to that in the corresponding position in the N. wall; the 14th-century S. doorway in the fourth bay has moulded jambs and a two-centred head. The chancel-arch (Plate 12), of c. 1250, is two-centred and of a single chamfered order with moulded labels and mask-stops; the arch is carried by single detached shafts with moulded capitals, modern bases and a double chamfered band-course midway up the shaft; the responds have chamfered angles; externally, a projecting moulded string on the E. face of the wall marks the line of the former roof of the chancel and towards the nave this line is indicated on the inside by a difference in the masonry.
The Nave (63 ft. by 22 ft.) has a N. arcade of c. 1330; it is of four bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders incorporating 13th-century voussoirs; the octagonal piers and semi-octagonal E. respond have moulded capitals and repaired bases; the outer order of the westernmost arch on the W. dies against the end wall, and the inner order is carried on a corbel carved with the bust of a man and with a moulded capping. E. of the arcade, high up against the chancel-wall is a square-headed doorway to the former rood-loft. The S. arcade is similar to the N. arcade and also incorporates 13th-century material, but the carved head to the W. corbel is modern. The clearstorey is of the same date as the arcades and has in each wall a range of four windows, each of two uncusped lights with a plain spandrel in a two-centred head with a moulded label and stops carved variously with heads, masks and beasts; externally the walls have an embattled 16th-century parapet with a moulded string and five carved gargoyles on each side.
The North Aisle (13 ft. wide) is of c. 1330 and has a late 15th-century embattled parapet with five carved gargoyles on the string; the buttresses on either side of the N. doorway are of 17th-century date and are inscribed respectively "TA. IP. C.W. 1684" and "1684"; the upper part of the W. wall has been re-built. The slightly repaired E. window is of c. 1330 and of three trefoiled ogee lights with net-tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label and mask-stops. In the N. wall are three windows; the easternmost is of c. 1330 and generally similar to the E. window but has been much restored; the second is of the same date and of two ogee lights with uncusped net-tracery in a segmental-pointed head with a moulded label and restored stops; the westernmost window is of late 15th-century date and of two cinque-foiled lights with a pierced spandrel in a four-centred head with a moulded label and grotesque head-stops; the N. doorway is of c. 1330 and has moulded jambs and two-centred head with a moulded label and head-stops. In the S.E. angle of the aisle are the upper stairs, leading to the rood-loft; they were not enclosed. The W. wall has a restored two-light window of late 15th-century date of similar design to the westernmost window in the N. wall.
The South Aisle (12¾ ft. wide) has a late 15th-century embattled parapet with five carved gargoyles on the string-course. In the E. wall is a window of three lancets grouped under a two-centred head, and though of 13th-century origin it is mostly modern except the splays and rear-arch and parts of the jambs and main head; the internal sill is partly old and has the moulded edge continued along the wall as a string-course. In the S. wall are three windows; the easternmost is of 14th-century date partly restored and of three trefoiled lights with net-tracery in a segmental-pointed head with a moulded label and carved head-stops; the jambs and head are moulded; the second window is of late 15th-century date, partly restored, and of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with moulded reveals and label; the window replaces two 13th-century windows, now blocked but with parts of the jambs, splays and rear-arches still visible; the westernmost window is of c. 1280–90 and has two plain pointed lights with a quatrefoil above, under a two-centred moulded label with head-stops; the S. doorway is of c. 1260 and has a two-centred arch of three moulded orders with a moulded label and mask-stops; the orders are carried on circular shafts with moulded capitals and badly worn bases; the capitals on the E. side are a 15th-century restoration; one shaft on the E. side is modern. In the W. wall is a partly restored 13th-century lancet-window.
The West Tower (12¾ ft. by 12 ft.) is of three stages surmounted by an octagonal broach-spire (Plate 16). The first two stages were re-built in 1877 incorporating some old material which, with the upper part of the tower, is of c. 1280–90. Part of the moulded plinth is original and the tower-arch incorporates the original moulded caps to the responds, some of the voussoirs and jamb-stones and parts of the label on the E. side. In the W. wall is a lancet-window with some re-used dressings. In the second stage the circular quatre-foiled light in the N. wall is largely original; that in the S. wall incorporates old material in the label and jambs. The bell-chamber has in each wall a late 13th-century window of two pointed lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred arch of two moulded orders; the inner order is continued down the jambs and the outer is carried on round shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the moulded labels have mask-stops; the nave-roof abuts against the E. window which has one jamb-shaft missing, the cusping to the spandrel broken away and lower part on the W. side blocked with modern brick. The broach-spire rises from a corbel-table with a series of trefoiled arches springing from alternate mask and head-corbels and with small quatrefoil panels in the spandrels between the arches; The early 14th-century spire has three tiers of gabled spire-lights in the cardinal faces; the windows in the lowest tier have each two pointed lights with a blind cusped spandrel, moulded jambs and 'ball-flower' ornament on the underside of the coping to the gable and plain crosses at the heads; the windows of the second tier are each of one trefoiled light with a sunk spandrel in the gable and those to the third tier are similar but have each a single pointed light.
The South Porch (12 ft. by 10¾ ft.) was added c. 1340 and has a restored outer archway with a four-centred head of two moulded orders and a moulded label with one head and one beast-stop; the responds are semi-octagonal and have moulded capitals and bases; the whole archway appears to have been re-set and the wall is largely modern. The side walls have embattled parapets resting on corbels carved with grotesque, human and beasts' heads; the corbelling terminates about three feet from the S. wall where it is replaced by a moulded string of later date; in each side wall is a partly restored window of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a square head with a moulded label, and defaced head-stops.
The Roof to the chancel (Plate 46) is of late 15th-century date and in four bays with cambered and moulded tie-beams supported on curved and moulded braces forming four-centred arches, moulded wall-posts, purlins and ridge; each bay is sub-divided by a moulded principal rafter with carved bosses at the intersections with the purlins and ridge, and carved angels with outspread wings at the junction with the wall-plates; the angels holding the following instruments: N. side, (a) a shield; (b) a lute; (c) now missing; (d) a wreath; S. side, (a) a shield, (b) a cross, (c) a palm-leaf and orb; (d) is a seraph standing on a pedestal; the wall-posts rest on semi-circular moulded corbels. The late 15th- or early 16th-century roof of the nave was repaired in 1635 and is low-pitched and of six bays with moulded main timbers; the cambered tie-beams have curved braces forming flat four-centred arches; at the feet of some of the braces are various carved figures, one holding a shield with the date and initials 1635 R.W.; the corbels are of 1635 and are carved with rosettes, face and swags respectively; the intermediate tie-beams have plain shields at the junctions with the wall-plate and the main intersections have bosses of conventional foliage; the wall-plates of the three eastern bays, except the S.E. bay, have carved angels with spread wings; on two wall-posts, against the E. wall, are the initials F.D. The late 15th- or early 16th-century roof of the N. aisle is of pent type and of twelve bays with moulded main timbers and foliated decorations at the intersections; the principals have curved braces and five of the wall-posts, on the S. side, have figures holding scrolls, a crown, a wreath and a shield; the posts on the N. have various shaped shields, one painted with a fleur-de-lis and one with a rose-sprig; the N. wall-plate is embattled and partly restored. The roof of the S. aisle is of the same date as that of the N. aisle and of generally similar construction; four of the wall-posts on the N. have carved angels. The partly restored late 15th-century roof of the S. porch is low-pitched and of one bay with moulded timbers.
Fittings—Bells: six; 4th by Thomas Norris, 1673. Bracket: In chancel—on N. wall, in the fourth bay, shaped and morticed at back for wooden upright; perhaps connected with the lenten-veil. Brass Indent: In nave—in grey marble slab, of man and wife and inscription-plate, early 16th-century. Chest: Under W. tower—with four rectangular panels on front with moulded styles, three lock-plates, resting on two bearers with projecting shaped ends, early 17th-century. Coffins: In churchyard—S. of tower, two, of stone, one broken and the other with remains of lid showing stem of a cross, late 13th- or early 14th-century. Communion Table: (Plate 151) with four corner legs in form of Doric columns each with enriched drum of arabesque-ornament and resting on cross-bearers with grotesque masks carved at ends; legs connected at sides by small moulded arch with pendants in middle and small arcade under middle of table with similar arches supported on small Doric columns resting on moulded cross strainer; top rails ornamented with carved cherub-heads above legs and in middle of front; top apparently modern; early 17th-century. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to Elizabeth, wife of John Howell, 1699–1700; (2) to Mary (Howell) wife of Charles Chambers, 1703; (3) to John Howell, 1703–4, with shield-of-arms. In nave—(4) to Elizabeth, daughter of John Jeffery, 1699. In S. aisle—(5) to Howell, son of John Jefferey, 1709(?) Font: with plain octagonal bowl with moulded under-edge, octagonal stem and moulded base, possibly 15th-century, but entirely re-cut. Glass: In spandrels of clear-storey windows, fragments consisting of pieces of borders, tabernacle-work, flowers, parts of figures, quarries with fleurs-de-lis, and part of 'black-letter' inscription, 14th- and 15th-century. Lockers: In chancel—in E. wall, two, square, rebated for doors with iron fixing on northernmost; in middle, a third with a double opening, also rebated for doors, probably all 13th-century. Paintings: In chancel—on splays of windows, traces of masonry lines, etc.; on splayed head of blocked doorway on S. side, conventional foliage pattern, 13th-century. Piscinae: In N. aisle—in S. wall, with chamfered jambs and trefoiled head, semi-octofoiled drain, 14th-century. In S. aisle—in S. wall, with chamfered jambs and trefoiled head, one round and one octofoiled drain, 13th-century. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1634, the cup inscribed and dated 1634; pewter alms-dish given by T. Papworth, late 17th-century, and pewter flagon given by Edward Daniell, 1638. Pulpit: of oak, largely modern but incorporating 15th-century buttresses in pairs at the angles, with gabled and crocketed pinnacles and trumpet-stem with moulded ribs. Recess: In S. aisle—in S. wall, with moulded jambs and segmental-pointed head, probably tomb-recess, 14th-century. Miscellanea: Built into walls of chancel—various 12th-century stones, including enriched impost, shafting, etc.; in third buttress on N. side, fragment with interlacing ornament, probably pre-Conquest. In vicarage garden—various worked and moulded stones of various dates including the stone base of a cross, with socket for shaft and part of a late 13th- or early 14th-century coffin-lid with a foliated cross.
b(2). Homestead Moat, about 1½ m. S.S.W. of the church.
b(3). Weybridge Farm, house, moat and earth-works, nearly 2 m. S. of the church. The House is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably late in the 16th century on an L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the E. and S. There is a small 17th-century addition on the N. side. The house has a brick plinth carried round at various levels and finished with a stone capping. The timber-framing is partly exposed on the W. side and also in the walls of the N. addition. On the N. side is an early 18th-century panelled door. Inside the building some of the rooms have exposed ceiling-beams. The first-floor room in the E. wing has a segmental plaster ceiling and an early 17th-century stone fireplace with a joggled lintel and rounded angles to the opening; the jambs and lintel are moulded; lying in the same room are two pieces of clunch with grotesque carving and tracery perhaps formerly placed above the fireplace. The roofs are of collar-beam type.
The Moat formerly protected the N. and parts of the E. and W. sides; owing to the fall of the ground the rest of the rectangular site is protected by escarpments forming a fairly level platform.
Condition—Of house, bad, partly ruinous.
b(4). Bridge (Plate 131), across the Alconbury Brook, 400 yards S.S.E. of the church, is of ashlar, repaired with brick and with brick parapets. The bridge was built perhaps in the 15th century and is of four spans with segmental-pointed arches, chamfered on the face, and with cut-water piers. The easternmost arch has been re-built and is semi-circular and the southern face of the second arch has been re-built in brick. The cut-waters on the N. side are also mostly of brick.
a(5). Manor Farm, house and barn, 40 yards S.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century with a central block and cross-wings at the E. and W. ends; probably late in the 17th century a block was added on the S.W. The N. front has an original doorway in the main block with a moulded frame and a door of plain battens; further E. is an original window of eight lights with chamfered frame and mullions; above the doorway is a similar window of two lights. The gables of the two cross-wings have each an original window with a chamfered brick label. The S. front has two original gables with moulded copings; the smaller gable is on the end of a small staircase-wing from which the staircase has been removed. The late 17th-century block has two hipped gables and contains a small re-set window with a solid frame. The chimney-stack at the E. end of the house, is original and has grouped diagonal shafts on a rectangular base with a moulded capping. The central stack is also original and has two detached shafts, set diagonally.
Inside the building are some original moulded ceiling-beams, and on the first floor is some original panelling. The attics have some plain battened doors and the modern main staircase incorporates old square newels with moulded terminals.
The Barn, E.N.E. of the house, is of two storeys; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built probably early in the 18th century. The brick wall of the garden, S. of the house, is probably of late 17th- or early 18th-century date.
Condition—Of house, good.
a(6). Manor House (Plate 72), 180 E.S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built late in the 16th century with a cross-wing in the middle; this wing was perhaps extended, at the back, in the 17th century and a kitchen was added on the same side, probably early in the 18th century. The N.W. front has some exposed timber-framing and the upper storey projects along the whole front, on curved brackets; the cross-wing has a high gable and N.E. of it are two small projecting gables; a bay-window to the ground-floor has a moulded cornice with billet-ornament. The central chimney-stack has a moulded base and capping and a small pilaster on each face. Inside the building the N.E. room has original moulded ceiling-beams. The house also contains some early 18th-century doors.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Some of the buildings have original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good, or fairly good.
a(7). Cottage, 30 yards N. of the church, is of late 17th- or early 18th-century date.
a(8). Cottage, 40 yards N. of (7), was built probably early in the 18th century.
a(9). Outbuilding, on the E. side of the road, 20 yards N.E. of (7), is of one storey and has been re-built round a 17th-century chimney-stack and incorporates a stone panel, inscribed "Edw. Haddon Vic. 1685."
a(10). Cottage, 60 yards N.E. of (6), was built probably early in the 18th century.
a(11). Cottage, on the E. side of the road, 200 yards S.S.E. of the church.
a(12). Cottage, opposite (11), was built probably early in the 18th century.
a(13). Bell Inn, 40 yards S.S.E. of (12), has an original central chimney-stack with three detached diagonal shafts.
a(14). Cottage, on the E. side of the Green, ¼ m. S.S.E. of the church, was built probably early in the 18th century.
a(15). Cottage, S.S.E. of (14).
a(16). Cottage, two tenements, S.S.E. of (15).
a(17). Cottage, 50 yards S.E. of (16), was built, probably, early in the 18th century.
a(18). Cottage, 40 yards S.E. of (17), is of late 17th- or early 18th-century date.
a(19). House, 50 yards S.E. of (18), is of T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the S.E. end and has been partly refaced with brick. The central chimney-stack of the main block is original and has square grouped shafts and remains of the painted date 16 . . . The base of the S.E. chimney-stack is also original. Inside the building one room has an original moulded ceiling-beam.
a(20). Sluice Farm, house 220 yards S.E. of (19), is of rectangular plan but consists of two wings extending N.W. and N.E. The original central chimney-stack has four grouped shafts on a rectangular base with a moulded capping and pilasters at the angles. Inside the building some rooms have original moulded ceiling-beams and the N.E. room has a shaped wall-bracket.
b(21). Weybridge Lodge, house 1¾ m. S.S.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics and has been almost entirely refaced with brick late in the 18th century. Inside the building are two original doors with moulded battens and strap-hinges.