(i) Earthworks, etc. Pre-historic and later.
The physical features of the county lend themselves but little to the normal
forms of prehistoric earthworks; the eastern half is largely reclaimed fenland with
occasional 'islands' rising a few feet above the general level; the western half of the
county is formed of gentle undulations, which in no place rise more than some 260 feet
above sea-level. As a consequence there are no examples of hill, contour or promontory
forts. On the other hand, there are numerous mounds, no doubt mostly sepulchral,
but of which only one, at Godmanchester, has been systematically excavated (see
under Roman Remains, p. xxxiii). The other earthworks of early or Roman date
include the rampart of the Romano-British town at Chesterton, and the confused
system of banks and ditches on the Romano-British site at Colne.
Mediæval earthworks are not of much greater importance. The earthworks of
the Castle at Huntingdon have been seriously damaged by a railway-cutting, and
have otherwise suffered from denudation. There is also a small motte at Wood
Walton and works, perhaps of the same class, exist at Kimbolton, Hartford, Ramsey
and possibly as the nucleus of a later work at Great Staughton. The county contains
some 90 homestead-moats.
From the point of view of general archaeology, the most important earthworks
in the county are the two 17th-century forts at Bluntisham (Earith Bulwark) and
Stanground (Horsey Hill). Though no documentary reference has yet been found
to these constructions, there can be little doubt that they date from the period of the
Civil War, and were thrown up to command the traffic on the rivers Ouse and Nene.
The comparatively rare survival of works of this nature, of which Newark and
Carmarthen are the best known examples elsewhere, gives an added importance to
the Huntingdonshire forts which have preserved their forms and contours largely
unimpaired. A small work, perhaps of the same date, lies on the eastern outskirts
of Huntingdon town. The round hill at Conington is probably a post-Reformation
earthwork but its form and arrangement are so unusual as to leave it doubtful if it
were designed as a piece of landscape-gardening or for defensive purposes.
The earthworks connected with the draining of the Fens, form too extensive
and complicated a question to be dealt with here. Though it may perhaps be admitted
that artificial drainage began under the Roman dominion and was certainly brought
to some measure of success in the 17th century, it will be unprofitable to attempt a
survey of an undertaking in which Huntingdonshire had, at best, a minor share.
(ii) Roman Remains.
The famous Roman road—the Ermine Street (fn. 1) —which forms the axis of the
county may be regarded as a relic of the northward progress of the ninth legion in
the early years of the conquest. It enters the county four and a half miles south
of Godmanchester, proceeds north-west (with a slight change of direction at Great
Stukeley) towards Alconbury Hill, and thence in an almost straight line north-north-west to a point about one and a half miles north of Stilton; here it again changes
direction towards the north-west, and leaves the modern road to pass through "the
Castles" at Chesterton and so across the river Nene to Castor. The actual Roman
road-metal has been seen at Godmanchester (where the road was twelve feet wide),
beneath St. Mary's Street in Huntingdon, near Stilton and across the Nene at
Castor (fn. 2) ; whilst the road is still visible as a ridge across "the Castles," where
mile-stones of the years 265 and 276 have been found alongside it. Piers of stone
and remains of a timber-structure found at the crossing of the Nene in the 18th century
possibly represent the Roman bridge here (fn. 3) .
Beyond this road, within the limits of Huntingdonshire, we scarcely touch the
official life of the Roman province. The road itself must have been a busy one, as
traffic went in those days; the imperial post to and from the northern frontier, the
governor, his officials, and at rare intervals the emperor himself, must have been
borne along it. Pack-horses and carts must have used it in the distribution of the
products of the countless kilns which have been identified at Chesterton (Castor)
and elsewhere. Infrequently, a few soldiers may have traversed it to or from the
almost unchanging garrisons of the north. But, except at the river-crossings, of which
more later, a traveller along this stretch of highway in the early centuries of our era
would have seen few traces of any population other than a sparse, hard-working
peasantry, or of any architecture more elaborate than huts and kraals of plastered
wattle in the traditional native manner.
The cultural level of this population had probably varied but little for many
centuries before the coming of the Romans. It was indeed imposed by peculiarly
exacting physiographical conditions, which the modern eye must to some extent
reconstruct. Apart from the gravel terraces bordering the river systems, practically
the whole county consists of claylands, doubtless then densely forested, with a fringe
of fenland on the east. These rivers approximately define the north and south
boundaries of the county; they are joined along the eastern border by a channel
known as the Old West Water, and with it formed a useful system of waterways
which must have carried traffic from early times and may have been developed by
the Romans as part of an extensive series of waterways between Cambridgeshire and
York (fn. 4) . But dry and habitable areas were few and far between. Under primitive
conditions, settlement was inevitably restricted to the intermittent stretches of
gravel of the river-banks or of the small islands amongst the marshes. To unambitious
immigrants drifting inland from the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coast, these gravel-patches presented a ready and tolerably secure foot-hold; but, fen-bound or forestbound as they were, they offered little opportunity for the development of wealth or
of political authority. Their evidence, yielded chiefly in the form of potsherds and
simple implements, thus forms an unusually complete register of the successive
prehistoric cultures of East Anglia, without ever suggesting any higher local initiative
than might be expected from a mixed and scattered population of peasant-cultivators,
hunters and fishermen.
Save perhaps in an accession of public security, the coming of the Romans must
at first have meant but little to a population of this kind. Politically, there can have
been few points of contact between the new authorities and the fen-men, and the
conquest involved no sudden revolution in economic or social conditions in these
outlands. But slowly and indirectly the new regime made itself felt even here; it
slightly modified the distribution of the native population, it provided fresh markets
for the native potteries, and at the same time it developed and materially changed
the character of the native crafts—the inevitable result of the impact of a vital and
efficient culture upon one which had long been poverty-stricken and lacking in
direction and incentive.
In the first place, as to distribution. To the three river-highways of the county
the Roman builders in the early days of the settlement, as we have seen, added an
important overland route across a region hitherto well-nigh impassable. The
Ermine Street must quickly have become the main artery of the district, and at
those points where it crossed the old waterways, at Chesterton and Castor in the north,
and at Godmanchester and Huntingdon in the south, we find, as we might expect,
a new concentration which, at least in the former case, seems to represent a fair-sized
township. Extensive but ill-recorded excavations here, on both sides of the Nene,
have revealed a straggling settlement, or perhaps rather two settlements, extending
over more than a mile of countryside, and apparently not laid out on any systematic
plan. The houses were in some cases richly decorated, with mosaic pavements (Plate 2)
and veneered walls; in other cases, they were simple oblong sheds, possibly work-rooms
or shops; again others were merely timber huts, oblong or circular on plan. Associated
with the settlement were great numbers of kilns, in which the well-known "Castor"
or "Durobrivian" wares were produced. The population must have consisted almost
wholly of natives, but to some of them the local industry, aided by the proximity of
the main road, clearly brought considerable wealth and luxury. It was perhaps the
upgrowth of a fairly prosperous manufacturing class that led during some unsettled
period of the middle or later Empire to the fortification of a part of the settlement
at Chesterton; for, although detailed information is lacking, the earthwork (as it
now appears) known as "the Castles" in that parish, seems to be posterior in date
to the Ermine Street which it cuts, and is significantly surrounded by cemeteries
which seem to have been wholly or largely of the 3rd and 4th centuries.
Of Roman Godmanchester considerably less is known, but the site is that of the
junction of Roman roads, the polygonal shape of the modern village is suggestive,
and Roman relics and foundations are recorded to have been found here. At
Huntingdon, the counter-settlement across the Ouse, the Roman evidence, though
definite, is slighter still. For the rest, the flanks of the Ermine Street in Huntingdonshire have yielded little or no evidence of occupation, beyond the finding of a glass
burial-urn at Glatton (fn. 5) and of "Roman urns" at Sawtry—perhaps the relics of a small
posting-station. The forested clay-lands of this part of the county held their own
against the Romanized peasantry as they had held their own against its prehistoric
Apart, therefore, from the natural tendency to concentrate at the river-crossings
of the new Ermine Street, the population of Romano-British Huntingdonshire
retained its primitive distribution amongst the stretches of habitable gravel dispersed
along the waterways of the county. In the Nene valley, Romano-British hut-circles
are recorded from Orton Longueville Park, whilst at Woodstone and Fletton levelled
floors, pits and burials similarly indicate a peasant-occupation of this period. The
Ouse valley is less productive, but hut-villages are probably represented by 1st-century burials at Houghton and later burials at Hartford and Hemingford Abbots.
The stretches of gravel on the west bank of the Old West Water from Earith to the
north of Somersham, have yielded more abundant evidence of the same type, and
slight traces of occupation come from fen-islands such as Ramsey. All these small
settlements suggest that the enhanced security of Roman dominion may have brought
about an increase in population and, to a less extent, in wealth, but the general
status of the inhabitants must have remained essentially unchanged.
Attention may here be drawn incidentally to the occurrence of a mound containing
a primary urn-burial of the Roman period a mile outside Godmanchester at Emmanuel
Knoll, about forty yards south-east of the Cambridge road. The mound, before its
destruction in 1914, was thirty-two feet in diameter and five and a half feet high,
and was made of the chalky boulder-clay of the district. Near by, close to the road
is another tumulus, unexplored; on the west side of the Ermine Street, at exactly
the same distance south of Godmanchester, is a similar mound, whilst further north,
at Great Stukeley, a fourth and fifth are visible beside the Roman road. Moundburials of Roman date form a distinctive group in our south-eastern counties, with
Continental analogies in the stretch of country between Bavai and Maastricht (fn. 6) .
In date they extend from the beginning of the first century A.D. to the middle of the
second. Their cultural significance has not yet been examined in detail, but they
presumably represent, like the Late Celtic pedestal-urns, the diffusion of certain
distinctive tribal units on both sides of the Channel, and deserve further investigation.
The Godmanchester example seems to be the most northerly of the series definitely
proved to be of Roman date.
If we turn from distribution to commerce and industry, the effects of Romanization become at once more insistent. The fringes of the wooded clay-lands provided
ample supplies both of suitable clay and of fuel for the manufacture of pottery,
and, possibly under influences from north-eastern Gaul and the lower Rhine-valley,
the native potteries of Huntingdonshire in the 2nd and 3rd centuries built up a
flourishing and distinctive industry. The characteristics of the so-called "Castor"
or "Durobrivian" wares—the hard, smooth paste, the use of decoration applied in
relief by the "barbotine" process, the Celtic boldness of the curvilinear designs,
and the vigour of the crudely rendered animal-forms and partially assimilated
classical motives—have often been described and illustrated (fn. 7) , and need not be
discussed in the present context. How far these wares formed a monopoly of the
fen-district, cannot be said with certainty; allied, though not identical, wares are
known to have been manufactured elsewhere in southern Britain. But it is significant
that the main line of dispersal of the Castor wares is north and south, rather than
east and west, and so points to the Great North Road (the Ermine Street), with its
branches and adjacent waterways, as the primary commercial channel. Thus, Castor
pottery is found in fair quantities at York, Corbridge, and other northern sites, and
abundantly in south-eastern Britain, but is rare in Gloucestershire and scarcely occurs
at all west of the Severn. It is likely enough, therefore, that the famous potteries
beside the Ermine Street in the Nene valley, did in fact, produce by far the greater proportion of the wares which, in this country, are conventionally associated with them.
Whether the industry developed any extensive over-sea trade is difficult at
present to determine. Pottery of Castor type occurs frequently in Belgium, notably
near the coastline, and in Holland, on the Isle of Walcheren, sporadically in
north-eastern France, and fairly abundantly along the lower Rhine; it is rarer in the
upper valley of the Rhine and in that of the Moselle. (fn. 8) Attention, moreover, has been
drawn to a dedication by a negotiator cretarius Britannicianus at Domburg, on
Walcheren. From these facts it has been inferred with some verisimilitude that Britain
was the centre of distribution. On the other hand, potters are known to have
been active at many points along the Rhine valley, and it is possibly more
correct to regard the British fenland and the lower Rhine in this respect as a single
cultural unit which developed in similar fashion on both sides of the North Sea. It must
be admitted that this alternative view is not proved, whereas some export of Castor
ware from Britain seems tolerably certain—perhaps as a counterpart to the import
of German "Samian" ware into this country during the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
Be that as it may, in the appearance of wealth which seems to have distinguished
one or two of the houses at Castor and Chesterton may be recognized the reflection
of one of the most far-reaching and successful industries of Roman Britain.
Lastly, a word as to the Roman roads of Huntingdonshire, other than Ermine
Street. Two, or perhaps three, roads have a substantial claim to Roman origin.
(i) From immediately north of Godmanchester a road which bears the stamp
of Roman origin strikes south-eastwards to Cambridge, and thence in
the direction of Colchester. (fn. 9) It is clearly secondary to the Ermine Street,
upon which it impinges. In a cutting at Godmanchester, it was seen to
be twelve feet wide, with a ditch on each side.
(ii) In Silver Street, Godmanchester, has been seen a section across another
road which ran south-south-west towards Sandy in Bedfordshire. It
apparently failed to meet a characteristically straight stretch of Roman
road, some five miles in length, at the Sandy end of the route, but the
reason for the break is not clear. It has been suggested that the southern
section is an incomplete Roman reconstruction. (fn. 10)
(iii) A more shadowy road has been thought to leave the Ermine Street in the
neighbourhood of Alconbury Weston and to proceed towards Leicester.
Stretches of existing road, parish boundary and footpath, carry the line
fairly continuously to Titchmarsh, but its further course westwards is
not clear. (fn. 11)
[Bibliography: F. Haverfield, V.C.H. Northants, I.; C. Fox; The Archaeology
of the Cambridge Region, pp. 159 ff.; M. V. Taylor, V.C.H. Hunts, I. For other
references, see these works. Much information has also been received from Mr.
G. Wyman Abbott, F.S.A., and Dr. Cyril Fox, F.S.A.]
R. E. M. Wheeler.
(iii) Ecclesiastical and Secular Architecture.
Building Materials: Stone, Brick, etc.
The county of Huntingdon, as a building area, shares the characteristics of the
two districts adjoining it on the N. and S. Its north-western parishes are close to
the best stone districts of Northamptonshire, and themselves produce a number of
minor building stones, such as Alwalton marble, which were locally employed in the
middle ages. The eastern and southern parts of the county, on the other hand,
produce no stone of their own, and in proportion as they are distant from the
Northamptonshire quarries, the great stone building of that county is replaced by
the less ambitious construction of the Chiltern district. The stones most commonly
employed in the N.W. and to a less extent throughout the county, are from the quarries
of Barnack, Ketton and Weldon, and perhaps some of the Lincolnshire quarries, but
on the S. and S.E. these begin to give place to poorer materials, such as clunch,
ironstone and flint-pebbles. Brick-work first appeared at the close of the Middle Ages
and did not become the predominant material until modern times. Stone rubble is
usual for domestic building of all sizes in the N.W., but elsewhere the smaller buildings
are generally timber-framed. The only buildings of any size built largely or entirely of
brick, are the Palace at Buckden (so far as its surviving parts are concerned) and
Place House at Great Staughton. There are brick church towers at Did dington,
Morborne and Southoe, and a much restored timber tower at Hail Weston.
Three churches only in the county would appear to retain structural remains
of the Saxon period. Of these the W. wall at Woodstone contains a rude double-splay
window, while Haddon has one angle of the nave showing 'large-stone' quoins. The
third example, Great Paxton, is of much greater importance—here is preserved the
crossing and a large part of the nave of an important cruciform church dating probably
from the first half of the 11th century. The details of this building present little
trace of Norman influence, while the masonry of the crossing-responds is definitely
of pre-Conquest character. Pre-Conquest sculpture survives at Alconbury, Elton,
Fletton, Keyston and Long Stow, the first and two last being fragments of late interlaced work; the two small standing-crosses at Elton, with wheel-heads, are also of
late character. The fragments at Fletton are of much greater importance, forming
two groups, the first and earlier group being a series of stones carved with busts,
angels, beasts, conventional foliage, vine-pattern, etc., built into the external walls
of the 12th-century chancel. The free naturalistic character of the vine-scroll
panel implies that the whole group dates from not later than the 8th century.
These stones themselves appear to be marked by the action of fire, and it seems
probable that they originally appertained to the Abbey of Peterborough. The second
group consists of two panels inside the chancel with carved figures of an angel, and
perhaps an apostle, in relief; the work is of later character than that of the first
group and may perhaps be assigned to the 10th century.
Ecclesiastical work of the late 11th and of the 12th century is not very well
represented in the county and very few complete buildings of the period survive.
The most important is the late 12th-century church at Ramsey, built on the plan of
a monastic hospital or guest-house. Its most remarkable feature is the vault of the
chancel which is of the slightly convex or domical form generally called Angevin.
Other churches possessing good detail of this period are to be found at Bury, (W.
doorway and chancel-arch); Fletton, (chancel and N. arcade); Haddon, (chancel-arch); Toseland, (S. doorway and chancel-arch); Southoe, (S. doorway) and
The doorways at Long Stow, Little Paxton and Covington, have crudely carved
tympana, and those at Southoe and Folksworth have chequer or diaper-ornament.
Attention may also be called to the curious grooved 'beak-head' ornaments at
Spaldwick, Little Stukeley and Toseland.
The most notable feature of 13th and 14th-century church-building in Huntingdonshire is the series of fine stone towers and spires of the Northamptonshire type.
The finest of these are to be found at Keyston, Warboys, Buckworth, Easton and
Alconbury. There is a curious spire at Bythorn and a good late spire at Yaxley.
Apart from the spires, 13th-century work is not of any great distinction, though
there is a good chancel at Alconbury, as well as interesting remains of a vaulted church
at Alwalton, and a good tower at Bury. Several churches of this period have internal
Work of the end of this and the beginning of the following century is well represented, especially in the N. of the county. Stanground is a complete church of this
period, and work of the same character occurs at Fletton, Yaxley, and elsewhere.
The finest individual example of the 14th century is the spacious chancel at
Fen Stanton closely dated by the tomb of its founder, which still survives. Another
curious work of the period is the apsidal chancel at Bluntisham, which has, however,
been drastically restored. The tower at St. Mary, Huntingdon, is a notable example
of the period.
Handsome churches, mainly of the 15th century, are to be seen at St. Neots,
Buckden, Ellington and Wistow. The tower at the first-named place is perhaps the
finest in the county, and the tower at Elton, though less ornate, is of good massive
construction and outline.
After the Reformation, the buildings of the dissolved monastic houses, especially
Ramsey Abbey, provided material for a certain amount of ecclesiastical building.
Thus the tower at Holywell, built in 1547, was constructed from materials brought
from Ramsey, and the re-used material in the 17th-century towers of Ramsey
(1672) and Godmanchester (1623) had, perhaps, the same provenance. Other
post-Reformation church-building includes the tower at Leighton Bromswold built in
1634, the tower at Brampton built in 1635, and the nave at Little Gidding built
Comparatively little stone vaulting was used in Huntingdonshire churches.
Ramsey and Alwalton are the only buildings showing evidence of the vaulting of any
of the main spans, and the vault at Alwalton was removed in the 15th century. The
late 12th-century vault of the chancel at Ramsey still survives, and there are also
remains of the stone vaulting of two side chapels. Glatton possesses a stone-vaulted
vestry of early 16th-century date, and there are vaulted porches at Buckden and
Brampton. The ground-stage of the tower at St. Ives has also a stone vault, and there
is a restored vault in the tower at Conington; the vaulted bell-chamber at Bury is
said to have supported a beacon. At Great Staughton a projecting bay in the N.
chapel has a panelled vault of early 16th-century date.
There are many good timber roofs in the county, but nearly all are of the low-pitched type and there does not appear to be a single example of the hammer-beam
truss. The richest roof is to be found at St. Neots, where there is a profusion of
carving including a remarkable series of beasts. The eastern bay of the nave-roof at
Hemingford Abbots is painted and inscribed. Carved angels and other figures occur
on roofs at Ellington, Offord Cluny, Alconbury, Fen Stanton, Kimbolton, Tilbrook,
etc. All these roofs are of 15th or early 16th-century date, and indeed roofs of an
earlier date are very uncommon; there is, however, a late 14th-century roof at
Somersham, and remains of an early 14th-century roof, re-used, at Great Gidding.
The stone corbels supporting the roof-trusses in the naves at Bluntisham and
Somersham are carved with figures of unusual excellence. Roofs of the first half of
the 17th century survive at Leighton Bromswold and Easton.
Monastic and Collegiate Buildings.
At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Huntingdonshire contained the Benedictine
Abbey of Ramsey, and priories of the same Order, at St. Ives and St. Neots, a
Cistercian Abbey at Sawtry, Augustinian priories at Huntingdon and Stonely, a
Benedictine nunnery at Hinchingbrooke, and a house of Austin Friars at Huntingdon.
The remains of all these buildings are insignificant; the rich abbey at Ramsey is represented by remains of the Gatehouse and probably of the Lady Chapel; the lay-out of
the abbey at Sawtry can be traced, but there are no structural remains; some portions
of the nunnery at Hinchingbrooke are probably incorporated in the later house; and
of the rest only a few fragmentary remains survive.
The parish church at Ramsey was perhaps built as a guest-house or hospital
connected with the abbey, and at Huntingdon part of the 12th-century hall of another
hospital has survived.
Post-Reformation collegiate building is represented only by the school-house at
The earliest secular building in the county is the mid 12th-century stone-built
Hall-block at Hemingford Grey Manor House. It is an important example of a scanty
class, more commonly represented in towns. Later mediæval building is uncommon,
there being no examples of 13th or 14th-century houses, and but few of the 15th and
first half of the 16th century. The surviving buildings of this age are all timber-framed except the gatehouse and undercroft at Elton Hall and the fragmentary
remains at Kimbolton Castle which are of stone, and at Buckden Palace which are of
brick. A series of houses of considerable interest begins in the middle of the 16th
century and includes the converted monastic buildings at Hinchingbrooke and Ramsey,
Stibbington Hall, Toseland Hall, Leighton Bromswold Castle and Upwood Manor
House. Late 17th and early 18th-century building is best represented at
Kimbolton Castle, at Huntingdon (Walden House, Ferrar's House and Cowper House),
and Hemingford Grey Rectory.
Godmanchester contains a good series of timber-framed houses, many of them
dated, and extending from the later part of the 16th century to 1714.
Huntingdonshire possesses a good series of bridges, of which the earliest is perhaps
the fine structure at Huntingdon, dating mainly from c. 1300. The bridge at St. Ives
retains its 15th-century chapel standing on the middle pier, and the bridge at St. Neots
has a central arch of wide span. All these bridges cross the great Ouse. Wansford
Bridge, in the northern part of the county, spans the Nene, and crossing minor streams
are bridges at Alconbury, Spaldwick, Hinchingbrooke, Wistow and elsewhere.
The Barns of the county include besides the usual timber-framed structures, a
number of large brick or stone barns, including the remains of one at Stanground, of
Military architecture is represented in the county only by the Gatehouse at Elton
and this is an example of late 15th-century castellated architecture built more to
accord with tradition than to serve any useful military purpose.
1. Pre-historic and Roman.—The ramparts at Chesterton have been much reduced
by ploughing and several of the mounds have suffered from the same cause.
2. Mediæval Churches, etc.—Of the ninety-five churches of ancient foundation,
in the county, six have been largely or entirely re-built, and the rest are, with very
few exceptions, in a state of good structural repair.
About 10 per cent. of the secular buildings are in a poor or bad condition, but
most of these are of little importance. The larger houses are nearly all in good
condition and the same may be said of the bridges except that at St. Ives, where
some of the piers show signs of subsidence.
The castle at Huntingdon has been divided by a railway-cutting, but the two
17th-century forts at Stanground and Bluntisham have been but little damaged by
time or by the hand of man.
Altars: There is a mediæval altar-slab at Old Hurst and doubtful examples at
Kings Ripton and Catworth.
Bells: There are apparently some forty-eight pre-Reformation bells still remaining
in the county, but of these some of the later ones assigned to the founders Newcombe
and Watts, are of rather doubtful date. The earliest bell is probably that at Sawtry,
which may date from the early part of the 14th century; the first at Water Newton
and the first at Bury are also of the 14th century, and have been attributed to the
Ruffords. There are also four or more bells probably from the foundry of William
Dawe, who flourished 1381–1418. The post-Reformation bells need not here be
particularised, but mention must be made of the foundry of William Haulsey,
established within the county, at St. Ives, between 1617 and 1629. He was responsible
for the casting of eleven bells still existing in Huntingdonshire.
Brasses: The county contains comparatively few brasses of interest; the earliest
is to a civilian and his wife, c. 1400, now covered by the organ at Tilbrook, another
important example is to a member of the Moyne family, 1404, and his wife, at Sawtry;
the male figure is in armour. There is another figure in armour, engraved c. 1440, at
Offord Darcy and a figure of William Taylard, 1505, and his wife, at Diddington, may
also be mentioned. Also at Offord Darcy is a kneeling figure of William Taylard,
Doctor of Laws, c. 1530, in his academic robes.
There are a fair number of 14th-century indents of brasses with inscriptions in
separate Lombardic letters; of these the most important are those at Fen Stanton
and Great Gransden.
Chests: There are mediæval 'dug-out' chests at Somersham and Wistow.
The later chests are not of great interest, but those at St. Neots, Easton, St. Mary
Huntingdon, Great Gidding, Sawtry and St. Ives are worth mention; the last named
is dated 1703. The chest at Sawtry has remains of painted decoration.
Communion Tables and Rails: Handsome examples of Jacobean and later
Communion tables remain in the county; of these the richest are at Alconbury,
St. Neots and Catworth, the last mentioned being dated 1634. Good tables of simpler
design remain at Bythorn, Holme, Abbots Ripton, Upton, Winwick and Wyton.
Communion rails of the Laudian period and of unusual and interesting form remain
at Great Gidding and there are others of some note at Denton and Great Staughton.
Doors: The doors at Great Paxton, Wistow and Wyton, have 13th or 14th-century
ornamental ironwork, and there are remains of similar work at Easton. Doors with
traceried panelling remain at Brampton, Long Stow, Kimbolton, etc.
Fireplaces and Overmantels: Domestic fittings of this class are generally undistinguished. There are remains of a 12th-century stone fireplace in the Manor House at
Hemingford Grey, but apart from this there is nothing of earlier date than the end
of the 15th or the beginning of the 16th century. The wide fireplace in the Lion
Hotel, Buckden, has a carved lintel of c. 1500. There are Elizabethan or Jacobean
overmantels of carved oak at Hinchingbrooke (dated 1580), Buckden Manor House
and Huntingdon (28). A fireplace at St. Neots (7) has a plaster panel above it with
Fonts: None of the fonts of the county are of very early date. Late 12th or
early 13th-century examples of some distinction are to be found at Stibbington,
Upton, Kings Ripton and Warboys; the two latter have square bowls with carved
foliage-decoration, and both have been partly restored. The best fonts of later
13th and 14th-century work are at St. Ives, Stanground, Woodstone and Old Hurst.
There are 15th-century fonts of some interest at Bluntisham, Little Stukeley, Little
Raveley and Brampton, and a curious 16th-century example at Fletton. At Little
Gidding there is a 17th-century font of brass.
Glass: There is little ancient painted glass of importance; the most complete
example being the window at Wistow showing the Annunciation and Resurrection.
The earliest glass of importance is probably that at Wood Walton which includes late
13th or early 14th-century figures of St. Katherine and St. Lawrence. There is fairly
good tabernacle-work with small figures at Buckden and Upwood, as well as figures
of seraphim at Catworth and a single figure at Kimbolton. Heraldic glass is poorly
represented, though there are 14th-century shields at Covington and Stanground and
later heraldry at Great Gransden and Sawtry. The only other glass that need be
mentioned is the miscellaneous collection at Diddington, some good borders at
Bury, and glass of a variety of types at Keyston, including a lion of St. Mark.
Lecterns: The remarkable 14th-century oak lectern at Bury is one of the most
interesting fittings in the county. There is a much restored 15th-century lectern at
Ramsey, and an early 17th-century example at Keyston, both of oak. A brass
'eagle-lectern' of the 17th century survives at Little Gidding.
Monuments: There are fifteen mediæval effigies in the county in a whole or
fragmentary condition. The military effigies consist of the shattered examples at
Hinchingbrooke and Orton Longueville and the curious late 13th or early 14th-century
figure at Conington in a Franciscan habit. There are figures of priests at Morborne,
Stibbington and probably at Southoe, the last a partial figure only, cut on a coffin-lid;
the upper part of another figure of a priest survives at Grafham and at Gaynes Hall,
Great Staughton, is the upper part of an effigy of an abbot under a small canopy;
fragments of yet another effigy of a priest survive at Yaxley. The finest effigy of a
civilian is that preserved at Ramsey Abbey, and there are others at Offord Darcy
(with wife) and at Water Newton. A defaced effigy forms part of the coping of the
Quay at St. Ives. The only wooden effigy is the 'cadaver' at Keyston. Other mediæval
monuments, of interest, include a late 12th-century cross at Fletton, a heart-burial of
c. 1300 at Yaxley, a good 14th-century tomb-recess at Abbotsley, an altar-tomb at
Diddington and an altar-tomb in the churchyard at Buckden. Renaissance monuments are poorly represented in the county, there is, however, a good series at
Conington, mostly erected by Sir Robert Cotton to the memory of his ancestors.
Monuments with figures of judges remain at Great Staughton and Tetworth and there
are other 16th and 17th-century monuments of interest at Chesterton, Kimbolton,
Leighton Bromswold, Orton Longueville, Great Staughton and Upwood. At Elton
is a slab with an incised figure in armour of 1600–1.
Paintings: Remains of mediæval figure-subjects are comparatively numerous.
There are 'Dooms' at Broughton and Haddon and faint traces of a third at Ellington.
Figures of St. Christopher occur at Orton Longueville, Molesworth, Hamerton and
Hemingford Abbots, but the two latter are almost completely defaced; the figure at
Molesworth is set in a large panel and has a corresponding painting of St. Anthony
on the opposite wall. At Yaxley is a painted series of events after the Resurrection.
Other figure-subjects are to be found at Glatton, Hamerton, Old Weston, Ramsey,
and Conington. All the above are of 14th, 15th or early 16th-century date. There
is some 13th-century painted decoration at Alconbury and Godmanchester. The
screens at Bluntisham, Kimbolton and Tilbrook have painted figures of saints. At
Yaxley the W. end of the nave has an elaborate scheme of painted decoration of early
17th-century date. There is little painted decoration in secular buildings, but a
'royal arms' survives at Godmanchester (60) and some conventional decoration at
St. Neots (3) and Yaxley (10), all of late 16th or 17th-century date.
Piscinae: The earliest piscinae of interest date from the 13th century, and of
this period there are good examples at St. Ives and Leighton Bromswold. Those at
Catworth, Morborne and Holywell may also be mentioned. Piscinae with good detail
of c. 1300 survive at Yaxley, Buckden and Stanground, and there are 14th-century
examples at Brampton and Tilbrook. The best later examples are at Great Gransden
Plate: The mediæval plate of the county consists of two patens, at Farcet and
Long Stow respectively, the latter with the date-letter for 1491, a portion of a base
metal coffin-chalice at Stanground and the fine repoussé dish at Upwood; this last
is of Spanish origin, and the decoration of beasts and foliage is similar to several
specimens in the Victoria and Albert Museum, S. Kensington. There are thirty-one
Elizabethan cups in the county, the earliest being those at Godmanchester of 1559,
and Abbotsley, 1564; fourteen date from the years 1568–9. The Kimbolton cup is
perhaps of foreign workmanship, and has an elaborately engraved scene from the book
of Bel and the Dragon. There is a curious secular bowl of 1630 (?) at Woodstone
and a very handsome repoussé dish at Kimbolton. The cup (1614) at By thorn is also
Pulpits: There are mediæval pulpits at Fen Stanton and Catworth, the former
with enriched 'linen-fold' panelling; the stems of two more survive at Yaxley
and St. Ives. Late 16th and early 17th-century pulpits are best represented at
Farcet, Buckden, Great Gransden, Orton Waterville, St. Ives, Yaxley, Leighton
Bromswold and Caldecote; those at Farcet (1612), Yaxley (1631) and Caldecote
(1646) are dated, but the pulpit at Farcet is made up with earlier work. The pulpit
at Orton Waterville is a particularly rich example of late 16th-century work, and is
said to have come from a church or college-chapel at Cambridge. Leighton Bromswold
is remarkable as having two contemporary pulpits, differing slightly in design and
placed on either side of the chancel-arch; they both retain their sounding-boards.
At Eynesbury there is a good late 17th-century pulpit.
Rainwater-Heads and Pipes: The county contains some good examples of this
form of leadwork, notably at Kimbolton Castle, Hinchingbrooke, Leighton Bromswold
Church and Great Staughton Church. The examples at the two first named places
have heraldic enrichments, while the leadwork at Leighton Bromswold has painted
decoration. All these examples date from the 17th century, those at the churches
being dated 1632–4 and 1656 respectively.
Screens: Two 14th-century screens remain in the county at Brampton and
Offord Darcy, but the latter retains only the upper part. The best 15th and early
16th-century screens are at Abbotsley, Catworth, Glatton, Kimbolton, St. Neots,
Tilbrook, Wistow, Great Paxton, Spaldwick and Yaxley. Of these the rood-screen
at Tilbrook is the only one in the county retaining its loft. The screen at Yaxley is
of the East Anglian type and one of the screens at St. Neots has carved decoration of
unusual character, resembling that on the stalls in Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster.
Three screens in the county, at Bluntisham, Kimbolton and Tilbrook, have painted
figures of saints. There is a low chancel-screen of early 17th-century date at Leighton
Bromswold, with turned balusters.
Sedilia: Few of the sedilia call for special notice, but there is a 13th-century
example of some interest at Somersham and good ranges of c. 1300 in the N. chapel
at Yaxley, Water Newton, and at Buckden, a 14th-century example at Elton and a
somewhat elaborate early 16th-century recess with a canopy at Conington. Mention
may also be made of the late 13th-century stone seats with arms at Farcet,
Stanground and Houghton.
Staircases: The large houses of the county have almost all had their staircases
either renewed or replaced. There are, however, remains of the rich dado-panelling of
the late 17th-century staircase at Hinchingbrooke, and, at Kimbolton Castle, the
adjuncts of the great staircase remain, though the wrought-iron balustrade appears
to have been renewed. Of staircases in the smaller houses there are good examples
of late 16th and early 17th-century work with symmetrically-turned balusters at
Stibbington Hall, Hilton Hall, Toseland Hall, Manor Farm, Old Hurst, and
the Manor House, Warboys. Other good staircases of rather later date survive at
Offord Darcy Manor House, Yaxley (3), Buckden (7), and the Haycock, Sibson-cum-Stibbington (4). There are early 18th-century staircases at Ferrar's House,
Huntingdon, and the Manor, Fen Stanton.
Stalls and Seating: There are 15th or early 16th-century stalls in the chancels
at Godmanchester, St. Neots, and Yaxley, the two former with elbow-rests and
misericords. The misericords, elbows and desk-ends at Godmanchester, have an
interesting series of carvings. The stalls at St. Neots also have carving of poorer
quality; those at Yaxley are in the form of benches and have been extensively
restored. The finest seating in the county is at Eynesbury, where there is a richly
carved series of early 16th-century pews. Other seating of interest survives at Great
Gransden, Glatton and Diddington and there are early 17th-century stalls at Leighton