Ashwell

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English Heritage

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1910

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38-40

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'Ashwell', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire (1910), pp. 38-40. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=123540 Date accessed: 20 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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8. ASHWELL.

(O.S. 6 in. (a)ii. S.W. (b)iii. N.E. (c)iii. S.E. (d)iv. S.W.)

Pre-historic

c(1). Arbury Banks (Hill Fort), lies ¾ mile S.W. of the village, between Claybush and Newnham hills, not quite 300 feet above O.D., and consists of the remains of a rampart and ditch partly enclosing an area of 12½ acres. The defences were formerly double on the N.W. and S.E., but are now reduced to a single scarp, from 5–9 ft. high and 8–16 ft. broad; this is better preserved on the S.E. and S., where it forms a bank 5–6 ft. high and 14–27 ft. broad. There were formerly traces of entrances on the NN.W. and SS.E., and of pit dwellings within the area.

Dimensions—Greatest length, S.W. to N.E., 930 ft. Greatest width, N.W. to S.E., 770 ft.

Condition—Poor.

Ecclesiastical

d(2). Parish Church of St. Mary, stands under the hill at the edge of the great plain stretching N. and E. to Cambridge and the Fens, and is of flint rubble and clunch. The first four bays of the Nave, with clearstorey, and the chancel arch were constructed c. 1340–50; the Chancel, West Tower and Aisles were built, the last bay of the nave was inserted to connect it with the tower, and the clearstorey was completed c. 1360–80. A North Vestry, since destroyed, was also built in the 14th century. The South Porch, with parvise, was added c. 1420; and in the same century a North Porch was built, and some of the windows of the aisle were heightened. During the 19th century the chancel was repaired, and the roofs of the chancel and nave renewed.

The lofty W. tower of four stages, the untouched though rather dilapidated condition of the whole fabric, the Latin verses commemorating the Black Death, and the drawing of what is supposed to be old St. Paul's, scratched on the wall of the tower, are features of peculiar interest.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (50½ ft. by 19½ ft.) has an E. window of five lights, two N. windows and three S. windows, each of three lights; all are of late 14th-century date, with much repaired tracery. In the N. wall are two 14th-century doorways, one partly under a window, the other, which led to the vestry, now blocked. The 14th-century chancel arch is of two moulded orders, with responds having moulded bases and capitals. The Nave (90 ft. by 24 ft.) has five bays; the first four are of c. 1340–50, and are of two moulded orders with labels on both sides of the walls; the piers have clustered shafts with moulded bases and capitals; the plinths of the bases have been mutilated; the last bay, wider than the others and of slightly different detail, is of c. 1380; W. of this bay the walls have long traceried panels and form the E. buttresses of the tower; the rood-loft doorways on the E. are blocked, but their lines are distinct. The clearstorey has six windows on each side; the two middle windows on the N. side are of c. 1350, the two westernmost windows on both sides are of c. 1380, and the others were altered in the 16th century. The North Aisle (90 ft. by 14 ft.) has a 14th-century E. window of three lights with tracery, and five 15th-century N. windows of three lights, of which the tracery is much decayed and partly destroyed. The N. doorway is of late 14th-century date. The W. wall, built of ashlar, is of c. 1360–70, and has a large, blocked barrow hole. The South Aisle (90½ ft. by 13½ ft.) has an E. window of three lights with tracery. In the S. wall are five windows, also of three lights; the heads were raised in the 15th century, and the decayed tracery is of that date; much of the head tracery is missing. The S. doorway is of the 14th century, and W. of it is a blocked doorway to the parvise staircase. The Tower (16 ft. square), unusually high, is of four stages with a parapet, formerly embattled but now retaining only the corner merlons, and a small leaded spire on an octagonal drum. The walls are about 8 ft. thick at the base, and are supported at the corners by massive buttresses. The stair-turret begins at the S.W. corner, and is continued above the first stage in the S.E. angle, the connection being through a passage in the thickness of the wall. The tower arch is of c. 1360; it is of three sub-divided, moulded orders, the shafts in the jambs having moulded bases and capitals; the bases are worn, and large pieces have been cut out above the capitals on the W., probably for a gallery which has been taken down. The large W. window of four lights has lost some of the head tracery, and the rest is repaired with cement. Of the sexpartite stone vault over the first stage only the corbels and wall ribs remain. In each face of the third stage are two lofty windows with a band of much defaced tracery below them. The fourth stage, less high and of plainer appearance than the other stage, has four windows each of two lights with tracery. The North Porch, an interesting example of 15th-century work, has unglazed traceried windows, and holes for an oak bar remain in the doorway. The South Porch, with parvise, has unglazed windows with iron stanchions; the stone vault is modern. The parvise has been restored, and the stair-turret is now entered from the porch. The Roofs of the aisles are probably of the 14th century, and the roof of the N. porch is of the 15th century. The chancel roof is modern, and the nave roof is almost entirely of modern timbers.

Fittings—Bells: six; 2nd 1694. Brackets: in E. wall N. aisle, of stone, much defaced: in E. wall S. aisle, large, moulded, much broken. Brasses and Indents: in the nave, inscription to John Sell, 1618: in the chancel, three slabs with indents, 15th-century: on S. doorstep, part of a similar slab. Chest: in the vestry, of carved oak, early 17th-century. Communion Table: 17th-century. Doors: N. and S., oak with ironwork, original. Font: modern, steps probably 14th-century. Glass: in heads of N.E., N.W., and S.W. windows of the clearstorey, some painted glass, probably early 15th-century: in the N. aisle, some fragments of later date. Locker: in S. aisle, on N.E., recess only remains. Monuments: on N. wall of nave, to Ralph Baldwyn, 1689, with arms: at E. end of N. aisle, rectangular tomb, 15th-century, with plain top and traceried sides, much defaced and mutilated. Niches: in two chancel windows, one plain, the other with moulded brackets: in S. aisle above the piscina, of considerable height; all probably 15th-century. Piscinae: one in each aisle, c. 1350: one in N. wall of chancel, outside, also c. 1350: one inside chancel, forming a group with sedilia, c. 1380; the projection has been broken away from each bowl. Plate: includes an engraved cup of 1688, and a paten of 1632. Pulpit: of carved oak, dated 1627. Screens: at W. end of both aisles, probably removed from E. end, traceried oak, 15th-century. Stalls: remains, including two finials, incorporated in the back of the organ stool, possibly 15th-century. Sedilia: in chancel triple, with cinque-foiled and crocketted heads, and foliated finials, c. 1380. Miscellanea: On N. wall of tower, scratched inscription as follows:— M.C. ter X. penta miseranda ferox violenta ...................superest plebs pessima testis ....................oc anno Maurus in orbe tonat: with glosses: over first line, 'pestilencia' with 'xlix' over it; over penta 'quinque': at end of second line, 'in fine eq (?) ventus validus': at end of third line, M. C.C.C. lxi. Also a drawing, apparently of old St. Paul's Cathedral.

Lychgate: at the S.W. entrance to the churchyard, of timber, probably 15th century.

Condition—Of chancel, good; tracery of aisle windows much broken and decayed. Stonework generally of aisles, and parapets, buttresses and windows of the tower much decayed and weatherworn.

Secular

Homestead Moats

a(3). 'Mobs Hole,' 1 mile E. of Guilden Morden, with a wet ditch, and a smaller moated site in the W. corner.

Condition—Fairly good.

b(4). N. of Love's Farm, two moats.

b(5). At Bluegates Farm, fragment.

d(6). At Westbury Farm, encloses a long narrow island. Traces remain of a further extension on the N.E.

High Street, S. side

d(7). Cottage, formerly the ' British Queen Inn,' about ¼ mile from the church, at the W. end of the street, was built in the 15th century and altered in the 17th century. It is a small rectangular building of two storeys with plastered walls, partly timber-framed and partly of harder material; the roof is thatched and is gabled at the E. and W. ends; the two chimney stacks are of thin bricks, but have been restored at the top. The N. side, facing the road, appears to have been originally the back of the house; in it, near the W. end, are the remains of a 15th-century stone window of two trefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; the E. jamb was destroyed to make room for a modern window; the kitchen, or westernmost room on the ground floor, is lighted by this window, and has a moulded oak beam in the ceiling with cable ornament on the edges. The principal entrance is in the S. wall opposite the chimney stack, and between the other two rooms on the ground floor; the original oak lintel of the doorway is now in an outhouse; the soffit is cut to form an ogee arch. All the internal fittings of the house are modern.

Condition—Good.

d(8). House, of plastered timber, was built probably in the 17th century, but retains little of its original character, except the two chimney stacks of red brick, with square shafts set diagonally.

Condition—Fairly good.

d(9). Cottages, S. of the church, on both sides of the street, built in the 17th century, of red brick and of timber and plaster, with projecting upper storeys supported on wood brackets. On the S. side of the street one of the cottages has a pargetted front which bears the date 1681, and the figure of a dolphin.

Condition—Fairly good.

b(10). Farmhouse, at Ashwell End, about ½ mile N.E. of the church, is a two-storeyed building of plastered timber, partly decorated with combed work; the roofs are tiled. It is of early 17th-century date, and of the L type. Both wings are gabled; one contains the parlour, an enclosed staircase and domestic offices; in the other is the kitchen. Between the kitchen and parlour is the original chimney stack. In the interior the studding shows in many places, and the kitchen has a wide fire-place, partly blocked. A few of the doors are made up of early 17th-century panelling, and some iron casements with plain furniture remain.

Condition—Fairly good.

Unclassified

d(11). Tumulus, on Highley Hill.

Condition—Poor.



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