An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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THIS Volume contains (in addition to the Terms of Appointment and official Report) a Sectional Preface, which, under subject-headings, calls attention to any particularly interesting examples mentioned in the Inventory; an illustrated Inventory, with a concise account of the monuments visited; a list of monuments that the Commissioners have selected as especially worthy of preservation; illustrations of architectural mouldings; a glossary of architectural, heraldic and archaeological terms; a map showing the topographical distribution of the scheduled monuments, and an index.
The monuments will be found, as in the Essex Inventories, under the heads of parishes arranged alphabetically, with an introductory paragraph calling attention to the more noticeable among them in each parish. The chronological sequence chosen is not perhaps scientifically perfect, but it has been found a workable basis for classification. The order adopted is as follows:—
In addition to dwelling houses, the English secular class (4) includes all such earthworks as mount and bailey castles, homestead moats, etc. To the section of unclassified monuments (5) are assigned all undatable earthworks.
In the first place, the Parish is located by letters in brackets which refer to the square where it is to be found in the map at the end of the volume; reference is also given where necessary to the Ordnance sheets (scale 6 inches to the mile) by small letters in front of the number of each monument. In the case of churches, the description begins with a few words on the situation and material of the monument, together with a statement as to the development of its various parts. A second paragraph calls attention, when necessary, to its more remarkable features. This is followed by a concise description, mainly architectural, of its details. A fourth paragraph deals with the fittings in alphabetical order, while the concluding sentence gives a general statement as to structural condition. The accounts of less important buildings, whether secular or ecclesiastical, are still further compressed, and in the case of secular monuments, consist of a single paragraph, or of a mere mention of their situation if they belong to a group with certain characteristics described in a covering paragraph.
The standardization of the spelling of proper names in the Commission's inventories has always presented considerable difficulties, and almost any system is open to criticism. It is well known that during the period covered by our terms of reference, and indeed to a much later date, the art of spelling was in a very fluid state, proper names especially being subject to a wide variation, dictated partly by their phonetic values and partly by individual caprice. In the absence, therefore, of any final court of appeal, it has been thought best to abide, in the matter of place-names, by the spelling adopted by the Ordnance Survey, without prejudice as to its accuracy. In the matter of personal names, in treating of individual funeral-monuments, etc., the actual spelling of the memorial has been reproduced, while in the rest of the text the normal spelling of the name has been adopted.
The illustrations are derived from photographs taken expressly for the Commission, and reproduced by H.M. Stationery Office, whose work, I think, deserves special recognition. They have been chosen both for their educational and for their aesthetic value. Had appearance alone been made the test of selection, many more might easily have been included. The map at the end of the Inventory shows the distribution of the monuments, and incidentally throws some light on the concentration of population in the county at various times before the year 1714.
To ensure clearness of description, all ancient churches not illustrated by historically hatched plans, have been provided with key-plans to a uniform scale of 48 feet to the inch, with the monumental portions shown in solid black. The dimensions given in the Inventory are internal unless otherwise stated.
It may also be well again to draw attention to the fact that our Record Cards may be consulted by properly accredited persons who give notice of their intention to our Secretary, at 29, Abingdon Street, Westminster, S.W. The cards contain drawings of tracery and mouldings as well as plans and sketches of the monuments— forming in truth the complete National Inventory—and will ultimately be deposited for reference in the Public Record Office.
As in the past, no monument has been, or will be, included in our Inventories that has not been actually inspected and the account of any monument of importance checked in situ by a member of our own investigating staff. In a work of such intricate detail there must be mistakes. But I hope these are neither numerous, nor serious. A further guarantee of accuracy lies in the fact that my fellow Commissioners, Dr. James, Mr. Page, and Mr. Peers have revised the reports of the Inventories of secular and ecclesiastical monuments, while Mr. Montgomerie has visited and supervised the reports on earthworks. Further, the heraldry of the Inventory has been checked by the Reverend E. E. Dorling, F.S.A.; the descriptions of armour by Mr. J. Murray Kendall, F.S.A. (Assistant to the Secretary of the Imperial War Museum); the descriptions of glass by Dr. M. R. James, F.S.A.; the description of brasses by Mr. Mill Stephenson, F.S.A.; the spelling of names and descriptions of costumes by Mr. O. Barron, F.S.A.; and the accounts of Roman monuments by Dr. R. E. Mortimer Wheeler, F.S.A. (Keeper of the London Museum). Nevertheless, I shall welcome any corrections and criticisms that may be sent to me with a view to their possible inclusion in some future edition.
The success that has already attended the publication of the Commission's Inventories, and their value in securing the preservation of monuments of historical interest that otherwise might have been destroyed, leads me to hope that the reduction of the work of investigation will be only temporary.