An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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27. EYNESBURY (C.f.)
(1). Slight traces on the right bank of the Ouse, in a place known as Conygeare, ¼ m. S.W. of the church, are all that is left of an earthwork which has been ascribed to the Roman period. The only evidence of date is that afforded by finds of Roman coins and pottery within the area (Gorham's History of Eynesbury and St. Neots). In the absence of excavation, it is impossible to determine the date or character of the earthworks.
(2). Parish Church of St. Mary stands in the middle of the town. The walls generally are of pebble-rubble with some freestone; the tower is faced with ashlar; the dressings are of clunch, Barnack and other freestone. The roofs are covered with tiles and lead. The earliest part of the building is the base of the S. wall of the Chancel, which is of the 12th century or earlier. The N. arcade of the Nave has typical 12th-century capitals in the western part and, in the E. half, equally typical early 13th-century carved foliage capitals, there being no apparent difference in detail and date in any other parts of the masonry of the arcade. It may be assumed that this was the first instalment of a rebuilding of an earlier nave and that the western part was first built perhaps outside the W. end of an earlier building; the rest of the arcade was then proceeded with, the whole work taking perhaps from c. 1170–80 to the end of the century to complete. A S. Tower was added about the middle of the 13th century and towards the end of the same century the S. arcade was built; the narrow South Aisle, then added or re-built, was apparently determined by the position of the S. tower or by the width of an earlier aisle. About the same time the chancel was re-built, and soon afterwards the North Aisle was re-built and widened. The clearstorey was added late in the 15th century. The S. Tower is said to have been struck by lightning in the 17th century and its fall seriously damaged the chancel; the Tower was re-built in 1687, but the chancel was only patched up and re-roofed at about half its former height. The Chancel was largely re-built soon after the middle of the 19th century and the church has been generally restored.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (34½ ft. by 15¾ ft.) is largely modern, but incorporates re-used material, the 13th-century N.E. angle and some old walling, perhaps of the 12th century, under the S. windows; near the W. end of this wall is the base of a 13th-century inserted doorway, with moulded jambs. The late 13th-century chancel-arch, is two-centred and of two hollow-chamfered orders, divided on the W. face by a band of flattened 'dog-tooth' ornament; the responds appear to be entirely modern.
The Nave (61¾ ft. by 20¾ ft.) has a N. arcade (Plate 54) of the last quarter of the 12th century and of five bays; the two-centred arches are of two orders, the outer square and the inner chamfered; the columns are cylindrical and the responds have attached half-columns; all have carved capitals (Plate 55), square chamfered abaci and moulded bases more or less defaced or restored; the carving of the capitals advances in form from W. to E.; the W. respond and westernmost pier have scalloped capitals, the next pier has crude foliage; the remaining piers with the E. respond are carved with free foliage; the wall above the arcade is distorted by unequal settlement. The late 13th-century S. arcade is of five bays with two-centred arches of two hollow-chamfered orders with a much restored moulded label on the N. face; the octagonal columns and semi-octagonal responds have moulded capitals and bases; the eastern respond-base is modern. The late 15th-century clearstorey has on each side five windows, each of two cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head with moulded external reveals and label. Externally, the line of the earlier gable is visible on the E. face of the E. wall. The W. window is modern, except for the rear-arch, which may be of late 13th- or early 14th-century date; the W. doorway is also modern, but incorporates some old stones.
The North Aisle (12¼ ft. wide) has in the E. wall a window, all modern except for the late 13th-century splays. In the N. wall are four windows, all modern externally, but with the splays and rear-arches probably of late 13th-century date; the 13th- or 14th-century N. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch of two moulded orders with a label, probably modern; the outer order and label are covered with Roman cement.
The South Aisle (6 ft. wide) has an E. window, all modern externally, but with splays and rear-arch probably of late 13th-century date; above the window internally is an arched thickening of the wall, probably of the date of the tower. In the S. wall are three windows, the easternmost of the same date and detail as the clearstorey windows; the two other windows are square-headed, all modern externally, but with splays and rear-arches of late 13th- or early 14th-century date; the late 13th-century S. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch of two chamfered orders with a moulded label and mask-stops.
The Tower (12 ft. by 12½ ft.) is of c. 1687 and of three stages (Plate 5) with an embattled parapet and pyramidal pinnacles, with ball-tops, at the angles. About half-way up the second stage, at the angles of the tower, are crude corbel-heads. The mid 13th-century tower-arch, re-set, is two-centred and of two hollow-chamfered orders with a chamfered label on the N. face; the responds have semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded bases and capitals carved with nail-head ornament; the capitals have no abaci. The E. and S. walls have each a re-set 13th-century window of one pointed light with a moulded label and head-stops. In the W. wall is a doorway, with chamfered jambs and modern head. The second stage has in the S. wall a single-light window with a segmental-pointed head and a moulded label with decayed stops; in the same wall is a moulded panel inscribed "1687 Henrey Ashley, Thomas Rutland, Churchwardnes"; other parts of the masonry have numerous initials, the name John Thody and the same date repeated. The bell-chamber has in each wall a pair of windows with segmental-pointed heads, moulded labels and crude carved stops; the division between the windows has an attached shaft.
Fittings—Brass Indents: In S. aisle—(1) of half or possibly kneeling figure or figures, inscription and one other plate, marginal inscription with symbols of evangelists at angles, 15th-century; (2) of man and two wives and inscription-plate, late 15th- or early 16th-century; (3) of man, wife, and inscription-plate, 15th-century. In rectory garden—(4) fragment with remains of indent of canopy, two shields and marginal-inscription, late 14th- or early 15th-century. Chests: In nave— small, of hutch-type, with panelled front, ends and lid, late 16th-century. In S. aisle—of hutch-type, panelled front with carved designs in panels, one lock, early 17th-century. In tower—small, iron-bound, with one lock and four hasps, 17th-century or earlier. Communion Table: In S. aisle—round legs with Composite capitals and acanthus enrichment, legs joined by wide shaped and pierced stretcher, moulded top rails, inlaid top, early 18th-century. Monuments: In tower—on S. wall, (1) to John Turner S.T.B., 1705, minister of this church, stone tablet with scrolled sides, cherub-heads, books and shield-of-arms; (2) to Edward Turner, 1714, rector of the parish, stone tablet with scrolled sides, festoons of fruit, cherub-heads and cartouche-of-arms. Painting: On W. capital of tower-arch—faint traces of small foliated enrichment on bell of capital. Piscina: In chancel—recess with hollow-chamfered jambs and cinque-foiled arch in a square head, with foliated spandrels, quatre-foiled drain, 15th-century. Plate: includes pewter flagon, probably late 17th-century. Pulpit: (Plate 153) hexagonal, with inlaid and enriched panel in each face, moulded base and enriched capping; at angles, cherub-heads and festoons of flowers, etc., coved under-side with carved foliage in relief, c. 1700, base modern. Seating: In N. aisle—two blocks of pews of four (Plate 52) and ten pews respectively with front enclosures, all with moulded rails, fronts and backs panelled with cusped heads to panels, some foliated spandrels and flower enrichments to rail-mouldings, moulded bench-ends (Plate 52) with carved leaves, paterae and popey-heads (Plate 53) as follows: —E. block, N. ends, (a) conventional foliage; (b) two large leaves; (c) three channelled leaves supporting part of an animal; (d) and (e) foliage; S. ends, (a) two bearded heads and two women's heads; (b) two large leaves; (c) large leaf with two bulls' heads with sockets for horns; (d) and (e) foliage; W. block, N. ends, (a) foliage; (b) two leaves and head against cushion; (c) leaves with crouching animal; (d) foliage; (e) foliage with camel; (f) foliage and goat; (g) foliage and beast; (h) foliage and crouching beast; (i) foliage and a sitting hen; (j) foliage and two heads of monsters; (k) foliage; S. ends, (a) foliage; (b) foliage and two beasts' heads; (c) foliage and slender horned beast; (d) foliage; (e) foliage and stag; (f) foliage and crouching hound (?); (g) foliage and half bird and half beast form, without head; (h) foliage and beast; (i) foliage and stag; (j) foliage and small beast with nut in mouth; (k) foliage and horse; all early 16th-century. Weather-vane: In S. aisle —in case, of brass with fleur-de-lis enrichment and the pierced initials and date H.A. 1688. Miscellanea: In same case as vane—iron padlock of barrel-form, 17th-century. In churchyard— square stone base, possibly of cross, mediæval. In rectory garden—stone head of sanctus bell-cote, with ogee head and square socket for gable-cross.
(3). The Rectory, 120 yards N.W. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built, probably, early in the 17th century with a main block and cross-wings at the N. and S. ends. The house was much altered in the 18th century, and there is a modern addition at the S. end. Inside the building the N. room is lined with early 17th-century panelling, said to have been brought from elsewhere and made up with modern work; behind the panelling there is said to be a carved beam with the date 1617. Refixed in the hall is a late 16th- or early 17th-century carved panel with the arms of the Poulterers' Company. Some of the original chamfered ceiling-beams are exposed.
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.
(5). House and shop, 25 yards N. of (4), is of two storeys with attics. The front has a moulded eaves-cornice and is symmetrically arranged. The central doorway has a plain moulded hood of shellform and a panelled door. The roof has a central gable flanked by gabled dormers. Inside the building some of the rooms have late 17th-century panelling, cornices and doors. At the top of the staircase is an original moulded rail with square newel and turned balusters.
(10). Chequers Inn, about 180 yards N. of the church may be of early 16th-century date, but has been much altered in the 18th century and later. The plan is T-shaped with the cross-wing at the W. end.
(13). Nag's Head Inn and tenement, on the S.W. side of the road, E. of the churchyard, was built probably in the 15th century with a central Hall and cross-wings at the N.W. and S.E. ends. The N.W. wing was extended, probably in the 17th century, and this part has the timber-framing exposed. Inside the building, the Hall-block has a massive original tie-beam and there is an early 17th-century door of moulded battens. There is a similar door in the attic and elsewhere there are two panelled doors of later date.
(19). House, two tenements, on the S. side of Luke Street, about 300 yards S.S.E. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E. The garden-wall is of late 17th-century brickwork.