19. CONINGTON (C.c.).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)IX S.W., (b)IX S.E.)
Conington is a parish and small village, 10 m.
N.N.W. of Huntingdon. The church and Conington Castle are the principal monuments, and are of
special interest as the burial place and home of
the family of Sir Robert Cotton.
Conington, the Parish Church of All Saints
b(1). Parish Church of All Saints (Plate
39) stands near the middle of the parish.
The walls are of cornbrash-rubble with dressings
of Barnack and Ketton stone; the roofs are
covered with lead and stone slates. The church,
consisting of Chancel, North and South Chapels,
Nave, North and South Aisles, West Tower and
North and South Porches was entirely re-built
c. 1500. The embattled parapets were restored
or added by Sir Thomas Cotton in 1638. It has
been restored in modern times.
The church is interesting as a complete example
of its period; among the fittings the early 14th-century effigy (2) and the later monuments are
noteworthy, not only for themselves but as
memorials erected by Sir Robert Cotton to his
Architectural Description—All the details not
otherwise described are of c. 1500. The Chancel
(27 ft. by 14¼ ft.) has an embattled parapet with a
pierced gable-cross. The E. window is modern
except for the segmental-pointed head, label
parts of the jambs and the rear-arch and splays.
In the N. wall is a two-centred arch of two moulded
orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting
on attached shafts with moulded capitals and
bases; further E. is a window of three lights with
modern tracery in a segmental-pointed head with
a moulded label; the internal recess is carried
down to form a seat. The S. wall has an arch and
window similar to those in the N. wall. The two-centred chancel-arch is similar in detail to the
arches in the side walls; the capitals and bases
have been partly cut away for a former screen; the
gable above is finished with a shaped gable-cross.
The North Chapel (16½ ft. by 13¼ ft.) has in the
E. wall a five-light window with modern tracery in
a four-centred head with moulded jambs and label.
In the N. wall is a window similar to that in the
E. wall, but of four lights. In the W. wall is an
arch similar to that opening into the chancel.
In the N.W. angle is the rood-loft staircase; it
is carried up, in an octagonal turret, above the
parapet of the aisle and is finished with a small
octagonal spire and finial; the lower doorway has
moulded jambs and four-centred head.
The South Chapel (12½ ft. by 13½ ft.) has windows
in the E. and S. walls similar to those in the N.
chapel, except that the S. window is blocked. In
the W. wall is an arch uniform with the corresponding arch in the N. chapel. In the S.W. angle is a
rood-loft stair-turret similar to that on the N. side
of the church but with no access to the roof of the
aisle; the lower doorway is blocked but there is an
external doorway in the S.E. face with moulded
jambs and four-centred arch.
The Nave (55¾ ft. by 16 ft.) has an embattled
parapet with decayed gargoyles. The N. and S.
arcades are each of four bays, the three easternmost
with two-centred arches and the wider westernmost bay with a four-centred arch, all of two
moulded orders, the outer continuous and the inner
springing from triple attached shafts with moulded
capitals and bases; the N. and S. faces of each pier
and respond have attached shafts carried up to
support the roof-principals. In the side walls, E. of
the arcade, are low recesses or openings at the
former rood-loft level each with moulded jambs and
four-centred head; they are now blocked. The
clearstorey has on each side four windows, the
three easternmost of three cinque-foiled lights and
the westernmost of five cinque-foiled lights, all
with four-centred heads, moulded jambs, labels and
The North Aisle (10½ ft. wide) has two gargoyles
to the parapet-string. In the N. wall are three
windows similar to that in the N. wall of the N.
chapel; between the bays are attached shafts
carried up to support the roof-trusses; the N.
doorway has moulded jambs and four-centred
arch; the rear-arch is also moulded.
In the W. wall is a window similar to those in the
The South Aisle (10½ ft. wide) has an embattled
parapet but is otherwise similar, in all its features,
to the N. aisle.
The West Tower (14¼ ft. square) is of four stages,
the third stage being divided into two storeys.
The tower is ashlar-faced and has a moulded plinth
with a band of quatre-foiled panels and an embattled
parapet with a band of trefoiled-headed panels
below; the buttresses and stair-turrets are octagonal and have panelled faces finishing with
trefoiled heads and simple tracery below the string-courses dividing the stages of the tower; the
buttresses or turrets are finished with lofty panelled
and crocketed pinnacles rising above the parapet.
The ground-stage has an E. wall inserted between
the responds of the tower-arch, this forms a narrow
lobby, between the tower and the nave, with passages to the N. and S. communicating with the
stair-turrets. The doorway to the nave has
moulded jambs and four-centred head. The lobby
itself has a plain segmental-pointed barrel-vault;
the doorways on the N. and S. have chamfered
jambs and four-centred heads and are flanked by
the attached shafts of the responds of the tower-arch in the stage above. The ground-stage of the
tower has an ashlar vault, all modern except the
springers and also apparently inserted as an afterthought; the vault springs from angle-shafts with
moulded capitals and bases. The opening in the E.
wall, to the lobby, has stop-chamfered jambs
carried up into the vault. The N. and S. walls have
each a window of two cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head with moulded jambs and label; the
heads of the lights in the N. window are modern.
The W. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch
of two moulded orders with a moulded label; the
inner face has moulded jambs and rear-arch. The
second stage has in the E. wall a two-centred tower-arch of one chamfered order with two chamfered
ribs on the soffit, springing from semi-octagonal
shafts with moulded capitals; between the respondshafts on the N. side is a doorway from the stair-turret, with chamfered jambs and four-centred
head. The W. window is of five cinque-foiled and
transomed lights in a four-centred head with
moulded jambs and modern label; the mullions
and transom are modern. The second stage has a
modern plaster vault. The third stage is divided
into two storeys internally; the lower storey has in
the E. wall a doorway with chamfered jambs and
four-centred head, opening on to the nave-roof.
The N., S. and W. walls have each a window of two
trefoiled lights in a square head, with moulded
jambs and label. The upper storey has in the N.
and S. walls a round multifoiled window, surrounded
by an architrave with round raised panels and a
continuous moulded label. In the W. wall is a
modern clock-face. The bell-chamber has in each
wall a window of four trefoiled lights, with tracery
in a four-centred head, with moulded jambs and
label; there is a second range of trefoiled heads
below the embattled transom.
The North Porch has an outer archway with
responds and four-centred arch of two moulded
orders with a moulded label. In the W. wall is a
modern window. The porch has a barrel-vaulted
stone roof with a moulded ridge-rib and moulded
and embattled cornices at the springing-level.
The South Porch is generally similar to the N.
porch, but there is no window and against the side
walls are benches.
The Roof of the chancel is modern except for
the stone corbels in the western corners. The
modern roof of the S. chapel incorporates some old
timbers. The posts, on the E. side of the N. chapel,
rest on moulded stone corbels. The corbel, in the
N.E. angle of the S. chapel, is carved with an owl.
The nave has a low-pitched tie-beam roof of five
main bays, the two end bays being sub-divided by
a subsidiary tie-beam; the main timbers are
moulded and the main tie-beams have curved
braces and wall-posts standing on the stone wallshafts already described; at the W. end are foliated
brackets; the roof has been extensively restored.
The roofs of the two aisles are generally similar
to that of the nave; there are no shafts on the
outer walls below the westernmost tie-beam, the
wall-post of which is supported on corbels carved
with the heads of a queen and king respectively;
the roof of the N. aisle is, very largely, a modern
Fittings—Brackets: In N. chapel—in N.E.
angle, semi-octagonal moulded shelf with panelled
tapering soffit and rectangular moulded projection
on each side, 15th-century. In nave—over chancel-arch, three small moulded brackets, carved with
flowers, 15th-century. Brass Indent: In tower—
broken Purbeck-slab with indents of crucifix,
shield-of-arms, parts of two figures with scrolls
and marginal inscription, 15th-century. Chair:
(Plate 40) In chancel—called Queen Mary's
Chair, high back with moulded side-posts finished
with headless, seated figures, moulded and
embattled top rail with cinque-foiled and sub-cusped
arched head below it, having main spandrels
carved with the Annunciation and small spandrels
carved with swans and doves, curved and buttressed
arms with small figures of angels, two on each arm,
early 16th-century, now painted, front and seat
modern. Chest: (Plate 146) In S. aisle—
of hutch-type with plain iron-bound sides and
ends, three staples, shaped brackets to front
and plain lid, 17th-century. Communion Table:
with turned legs, plain rails and shaped brackets
to top rail, mid 17th-century. Doors: In N.
doorway—of keeled battens with moulded fillets.
In S. doorway—similar to N. doorway. In
exterior doorway to S. turret-staircase to
rood-loft—of three nail-studded battens with
chamfered fillet round edge, all late 15th-century. Font: octagonal bowl with continuous
interlacing arcade of pointed arches springing
from attached shafts with moulded capitals and
bases, moulded upper and chamfered lower edge,
mid 13th-century, partly restored, stem and base
modern. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In N. chapel—in S.E. angle, (1) of John
Cotton, 1702, white and veined marble tablet with
gadrooned shelf supporting cartouche with bust
in relief, draped and enriched apron below,
one shield-of-arms. In S. chapel—on floor, (2)
Purbeck-marble slab with recumbent effigy of
man (Plate 115) in long habit with cowl
and knotted cord at waist, mail coif and sleeves
show under cowl and at wrists, head on two
cushions, feet mutilated, late 13th- or early 14th-century; perhaps to a member of the third order
of St. Francis; in S.E. angle, (3) of Sir Thomas
Cotton, 1662, white veined marble wall-monument (Plate 45) with bust of man in round
recess, bay-leaf swag below and scrolled pediment above, plain inscribed apron, cartouche and
two shields-of-arms; in S.W. angle, (4) of Sir
Robert Cotton, 1631, wall-monument (Plate
45) generally similar to (3) with cartouche and
two shields-of-arms, both monuments (3 and 4)
erected by Sir John Cotton. In N. aisle—against
N. wall, (5) to [David, King of Scotland and
Earl of Huntingdon] large wall - monument
(Plate 45) of Ketton stone in two stages,
lower of two bays divided and flanked by
Corinthian columns, standing on an enriched
base with eight shields-of-arms, and supporting an enriched entablature; upper stage with
central arched niche containing a large crown
and flanked by Composite columns supporting an
entablature with strap-work cresting and a large
shield-of-arms; flanking centre-piece, two large
seated unicorns, facing outwards, monument
erected, c. 1600; further W. (6) to Prince
Henry of Scotland, wall-monument (Plate 45)
of Ketton stone, with plain recessed panel,
flanked by fluted Corinthian columns standing
on shaped brackets and supporting an entablature, strapwork, cartouche and shield-of-arms,
monument erected c. 1600; at W. end, (7)
of Elizabeth (Honywood) second wife of Sir
John Cotton, 1702, tablet generally similar to
(1) but with bust of woman and shield-of-arms.
In S. aisle—in S.E. angle, (8) to Thomas Cotton
, and Lucy (Harvey) his wife, and to Thomas
Cotton M.P., and Elizabeth (Shirley) his wife,
wall-monument (Plate 45) of Ketton stone
with two round-headed recesses, divided and
flanked by enriched Corinthian columns standing
on bracketed pedestals and supporting an entablature, achievement and seven shields-of-arms,
monument erected c. 1600; further W. (9) to
Thomas Cotton, 1519, and Joan (Paris) his wife,
wall-monument of Ketton stone with recess
flanked by Corinthian columns, supporting an
entablature, cartouche and two shields-of-arms,
monument erected c. 1600. Floor-slabs: In
chancel—(1) to John Cotton, 1635; (2) to Henry
Harris, M.A., vicar of the parish, 1698. In N.
chapel—(3) to D. C. [Lady D. Cotton], 1662–3;
(4) to John Cotton . In S. chapel—(5) to
Sir T. C. [Thomas Cotton], 1662; (6) to Sir R. C.
[Robert Cotton], 1631; (7) to M. C. [Lady M.
Cotton], 1621–2; (8) to Catherine, infant daughter
of Sir John Cotton, Bart., 1714. In N. aisle—
(9) to Isaac Johnson, A.M., Curate of Holme,
1670–1; (10) to —ay wife of Thomas Sibley, 1704;
(11) to Kenelm Collins, 1681. In S. aisle—(12)
illegible; (13) to Ishmael Sibley, 1705. In tower—
(14) to Mary Bray, late 17th- or early 18th-century;
(15) to H.H., 1674. Niche: In nave—over
doorway to tower, moulded bracket, recess with
trefoiled head, flanked by shafts supporting a
moulded ogee label with crockets and finial, c. 1500.
Painting: In S. aisle—over S. doorway, remains of
painting in red and yellow, perhaps of St. George
and the dragon, early 16th-century. Piscinae: In
chancel—recess (Plate 141) with moulded jambs
and cinque-foiled arch in a square embattled head
with foliated spandrels, projecting sill on a grotesque
head, septfoiled drain and plain shelf, c. 1500.
In N. chapel—in S. wall, recess with moulded
jambs and four-centred head, projecting sill,
square drain with carved flower at bottom and
chamfered shelf, c. 1500. In S. chapel—in S. wall,
generally similar to that in N. chapel. Plate:
includes cup of 1711 with baluster-stem and stand-paten of 1702. Scratchings: The masonry of the
chancel-arch, chapels, nave and aisles has a number
of masons' marks. In tower—in second stage,
many scratched names and initials, 16th- and
17th-century. Screens: In N. chapel—under W.
arch, of three bays, (Plate 41) including
doorway, with moulded posts and rail with carved
twisted foliage, close lower panels with cusped
heads and foliated spandrels, open upper panels
to doors with trefoiled and sub-cusped heads,
foliated spandrels and embattled cornice, early
16th-century. In S. chapel—under W. arch, of
three bays including doorway, bays divided by
attached shafts with moulded capitals, moulded
posts, head and rails, side bays with trefoiled ogee
heads and tracery, close lower panels with sub-cusped heads and foliated spandrels, doors with
two trefoiled and traceried heads to open upper
panels, plain close lower panels, early 16th-century,
now painted. Sedilia: In chancel—recess (Plate
141) with moulded and buttressed standards
at sides, canopy of three bays of cinque-foiled
arches with trefoiled spandrels and pendants,
embattled cornice, soffit of canopy with ribbed
vault springing from carved heads, plain seat
with front enriched with flowing cusped panelling
of Ketton stone and clunch, early 16th-century.
Miscellanea: Altar-frontal of modern material
incorporating portions of four stoles or maniples,
two with conventional foliage in silver thread
and two with later embroidery on modern silk,
17th-century, Italian. In rectory garden—various
worked and moulded stones including portions of
window-jambs and mullions, tracery, bases, arcading, piscina and a panelled fragment with a shield
bearing checky on a bend three water-bougets.
The Round Hill Conington.
b(2). In Icehouse Plantation, 200 yards N.N.E.
of the church.
b(3). At Bruce's Castle Farm, 1,000 yards
S.S.E. of the church.
b(4). Conington Castle, house 70 yards S.W.
of the church, is of three storeys; the walls are of
cornbrash, Ketton and some Barnack stone;
the roofs are covered with slates. The house is of
irregular L-shaped plan with the wings extending
towards the E. and S. The S. wing is probably of
mid 16th-century date. The E. wing was built at
the beginning of the 17th century by Sir Robert
Cotton who also refaced the E. side of the S. wing.
It is said that he had a grant of materials from the
destroyed castle buildings of Fotheringhay. In the
19th century the house was extensively altered and
partly re-built, the porch was removed from the E.
side of the house and re-erected on the W. side, a
storey was added to the S. wing, the E. wing re-constructed internally and the upper part re-built,
and additions made in the angle between the
Elevations—The S. wing (Plate 42) has in
the middle of the W. face a semi-octagonal projecting stair-turret, said to have been added in 1880,
and lit by square-headed windows; the remainder
of the range has two or three-light windows with
moulded jambs and mullions and square heads,
except to the ground-floor on the E. side, where the
windows are of early 17th-century date and have
transoms and moulded cornices; these windows
are of two, three or four lights. The W. end of the
E. wing has a reconstructed porch, probably of
late 16th-century date. It has a round outer
archway, with moulded imposts and archivolt, and
is flanked by fluted Ionic columns, standing on
pedestals and supporting an entablature. The side
walls of the porch are pierced by plain round-headed openings. Flanking the porch and set in the
main wall of the building are two round arches each
of two moulded orders with a moulded label; the
moulded responds have each an attached shaft with
moulded and embattled capital and moulded base;
these arches are probably of early 16th-century date
and are said to have come from Fotheringhay
Castle, though it is difficult to say to what part of
the castle they could have belonged. The N. front
of the E. wing incorporates nine similar arches,
three of which are set in a semi-octagonal projecting bay. All these arches, with those on the W.
front, are blocked and have modern windows in the
blocking. The two return faces of the bay have
each a round-headed niche.
Interior—The interior of the E. wing has been
entirely remodelled. The S. wing retains some
To the E. of the house is a garden-wall, partly
built of 16th-century brick.
Condition—Good, much altered.
b(5). The Old Rectory, house two tenements,
700 yards W.N.W. of the church, is of two storeys,
timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled.
It was built early in the 17th century on a T-shaped
plan with the cross-wing at the W. end. Inside the
building there is some exposed timber-framing and
the staircase on the N. side has some original shaped
balusters, square panelled newels and moulded
rails. The first floor has cambered tie-beams and
b(6). Cottage, two tenements, 260 yards E. of
(5), is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered;
the roofs are thatched. It was built late in the
17th century and has a modern addition on the
N. side. There are several original battened doors
with strap - hinges. Inside the building some
original ceiling-beams are exposed. In the garden
are some fragments of worked and moulded
stone including a piece of 15th-century window-tracery.
b(7). Conington Round Hill stands 1¼ m.
W.S.W. of the church, on an eastern spur of a ridge
running nearly parallel to and on the W. of the
Ermine Street, at a height of about 150 ft. above
O.D., the ground falling steeply in all directions
except the S.W. The work forms a pentagonal
enclosure with a partially wet moat and an inner
bank on the N., N.E. and S.E. faces, each about
180 yards long. The N.W. and S.W. faces, 75
yards and 100 yards long, have traces of a shallow
ditch with slight inner and outer banks and join a
symmetrical ogee-shaped annexe which lies axially
with the main work and has also remains of a small
ditch. The eastern rampart, where best preserved,
is from 9 to 12 ft. high above the moat. The whole
work covers an area of 17½ acres. There is a small
pond within the main enclosure but no sign of
foundations. The unusual and symmetrical plan
and the boldness of profile on the E., compared
with the slight defences on the W., make it difficult
to assign a purpose or period to the work.
Condition—Good, where moat is wet; remainder,