65. RAMSEY (D.c.).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)X S.E., (b)XI S.W.)
Ramsey is a small town 9 m. N.N.E. of Huntingdon. Owing to an extensive fire in 1731 few
old buildings remain in the town. The principal
monuments are the Parish Church, which is of
peculiar interest since it appears to have been
originally a hospital, Ramsey Abbey, Bodsey
House and the Biggin Malting.
a(1). Parish Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury (Plate 113) stands at the E. end of the
town. The walls generally are of uncoursed rubble
but parts of the E. end, of the tower, W. end of
both aisles and part of the S. wall of the S. aisle
are of ashlar; the clearstorey is rendered in
Roman cement. The roofs are covered with
tiles and lead. The whole church, consisting of
Chancel, Nave, North and South Aisles and N. and
S. Chapels, was built about 1180. The N. and S.
chapels were apparently destroyed before the
insertion of a window of c. 1310 in the S. wall of the
chancel. The N. and S. aisles were largely reconstructed if not re-built late in the 15th or early in the
16th century, when the S. aisle appears to have
been heightened. There is literary evidence of the
projected addition of a tower in 1538, but it was not
until 1672 that the West Tower was actually built,
within the lines of the nave; it largely consists of
re-used material, probably from the abbey. A
S. porch was destroyed in 1843 and the church was
generally restored in 1844 and again in 1903 and
1910. There is a modern North Vestry on the site
of the destroyed N. chapel.
The detail of the arcades and capitals are of
considerable interest. Among the fittings the
lectern is noteworthy.
From the unusual features of the plan it appears
almost certain that the building was designed as a
hospital, infirmary or guest-house or at any rate
was built on the plan of such a building and
not on that of a parish church; it conforms in
every particular, including the lack of a tower,
to the most normal arrangement of a large
mediæval hospital, the 'nave' forming the hall
of the establishment and the 'chancel' the
chapel. It is quite possible that the hospital
became a parish church in the 14th century when
occurs the earliest reference to such a building at
Ramsey or even earlier. It would appear that Bury
was, originally, the mother church of the district.
The plan of a very similar building has been
recovered at Sawtry Abbey where it stood S.W.
of the claustral block and probably served as a
guest-house. It may also be compared with the
Newark Hospital at Leicester.
Ramsey, the Parish Church of St Thomas of Canterbury
Architectural Description—The Chancel (about
20 ft. square) has an E. wall (Plate 112) divided
externally into three bays by pilaster-buttresses
dying on to a thicker wall below the windowsills; the buttresses and the wall around the
lower windows are faced with ashlar; there are
three round-headed windows in the lower range
of two plain orders externally and with roll-moulded splays and rear-arches; above the
middle window is a vesica-shaped window of
similar detail; in the gable is a round-headed
opening of two plain orders, now blocked but
formerly lighting the space above the vault; across
the E. face of the N.E. buttress is a raking chase
for the roof of a building formerly extending
further E. The N. and S. walls have a corbel-table
with plain rounded corbels. In the N. wall is a
doorway with no ancient features. In the S. wall
is a window of c. 1310 and of two pointed lights
with a trefoiled spandrel in a round head with a
moulded label and mask-stops; further W. is a
late 16th- or early 17th-century doorway with stop-moulded jambs and flat four-centred arch in a
square head. The chancel has a quadripartite vault
(Plate 113) of rubble with plain square diagonal
ribs springing in the eastern angles from restored
attached shafts with cushion-capitals and on the
W. from the side-shafts of the responds of the
chancel-arch; the crown of the vault drops towards
the N. and S. in the manner known as Angevin.
The chancel-arch is two-centred and of two plain
orders with a moulded label and scrolled stops on
the W. face; the responds have grouped shafts
forming one group with the responds of the nave-arcade; the main shafts are of curious tri-lobed
form and all have scalloped capitals with a common
grooved and chamfered abacus, segmental on plan;
the moulded bases rest on a round plinth continued
under the respond-bases of the nave-arcades. The
space above the vault has no trace of a floor and
does not appear ever to have been used.
The North Vestry is modern but has a 15th-century window re-set in the N. wall; it is of three
cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label and casementmoulded jambs; this window was formerly in the
E. wall of the N. aisle where the opening still
remains. The vestry stands on the site of an
original chapel of two bays with a stone vault; of
this vault the round shaft in the S.E. angle remains
with its cushion-capital and two voussoirs of the
diagonal vault-ribs; in the middle of the wall is the
capital of the respond of the cross-arch between the
bays; it has a main and two side shafts with
cushion-capitals, uniting in a half-octagon above
and with a grooved and hollow-chamfered abacus.
In the S.W. angle are remains of the vaulting-shaft,
now in a recess. The stump of the E. wall of this
chapel remains adjoining the N.E. buttress of the
The South Chapel was destroyed in mediæval
times; it was similar in plan and extent to the
N. chapel, but the respond and vault-shafts of the
former vault are better preserved; the N.E. shaft
has a capital of water-leaf type as are the capitals
of the respond, which retains all its shafts; the
N.W. shaft has a scalloped capital and is of tri-lobed
form; it probably formed part of the chancel-arch
and nave-respond group, the shafting being continued through the existing E. wall of the S. aisle.
The Nave (93¼ ft. by 19 ft.) is now of seven, but
was formerly of eight bays, the westernmost bay
and part of the seventh being occupied by the later
tower. The N. and S. arcades (Plate 114) of
c. 1180 have two-centred arches of two plain
orders with a chamfered label; the piers all
differ on plan, but the pairs on the N. and S.
correspond; the first pier is of four grouped
tri-lobed shafts, the second of eight grouped
round shafts, the third is round, the fourth
square with four attached and keeled shafts, the
fifth octagonal, the sixth of eight grouped and
keeled shafts; the seventh is embedded in the tower-wall but appears to have been round; the first pier
on the S. has been partly defaced and partly
restored. The capitals (Plate 111) all differ and
are as follows—on N. (a) water-leaf type, (b) crude
leaf-ornament, (c) part scalloped and part leaves
with bead-ornament at top, (d) leaves with volutes,
(e) part scalloped and part leaves with volutes,
(f) crude leaves with volutes, (g) defaced and buried
in wall; on S. (a) leaves with volutes at angles,
(b) simple leaves, (c) leaves with volutes, (d) water-leaves, (e) scalloped, (f) water-leaves, (g) simple
fluting. The abaci are alternately square with
rebated angles and round; the E. responds form
one group with the chancel-arch but the scalloped
capitals are at a lower level and have an abacus,
segmental on plan; only the E. part of the springing of the eighth arch remains embedded in the
tower-wall. Above the second pier on each side
is a blocked opening, with a two-centred head,
marking the position of the former rood-loft, the
chases for which remain on the S. side. The clear-storey has on each side seven windows of 15th-century character and each of two cinque-foiled
lights in a four-centred head with a cement label.
The North Aisle (12¾ ft. wide) has buttresses
with moulded offsets and a modern embattled parapet. In the N. wall are seven 15th-century windows, each of three cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label; the 15th- or
16th-century N. doorway has stop-moulded jambs
and four-centred arch in a square head with blank
shields in the spandrels and a moulded label. In
the W. wall is a window similar to those in the
N. wall; the wall is of ashlar and was perhaps
re-built with the W. tower.
The South Aisle (12¾ ft. wide) has buttresses like
the N. aisle and a modern embattled parapet; over
most of the buttresses are the stumps of pinnacles
below the existing parapet; the upper part of the
S. wall is mainly of rubble, and appears to be a
heightening. The E. and W. windows and the
seven windows in the S. wall are all similar to the
windows in the N. aisle; the 15th-century S. door-way has jambs and a four-centred arch of two
orders, the outer chamfered and the inner splayed;
it has a modern moulded label. The W. wall was
perhaps re-built with the tower.
The West Tower (13¾ ft. by 14¾ ft.) was built in
1672 and is of four stages, ashlar-faced and with an
embattled parapet and crocketed pinnacles at the
angles. The tower-arch is two-centred and of four
orders, the inner chamfered and the rest plain with
a chamfered label; the responds are semi-cylindrical with two small attached shafts and have
moulded bases, scalloped capitals and moulded
abaci; the N. capital has leaf-ornament in addition; the work is all of late 12th-century date
re-used. The W. doorway is also late 12th-century
work re-set; the round arch is of four orders, the
inner plain and the rest moulded; the jambs are
also of four orders, the inner chamfered and the rest
each with a free shaft with rich foliated capitals of
varying design, moulded abaci, bands and bases;
the lower part of the jambs and one upper shaft
have been restored. Above the doorway externally
is a sunk rectangular panel with a moulded frame
and the inscription "Take heed, watch and pray,
for ye know not when the time is. S. Mar.13.33."
Higher up is a round raised panel. The second
stage has in the W. wall a re-used 15th-century
window of two cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred
head with a moulded label. The third stage has
in the W. wall a window, made up of moulded
stones and with a moulded label. The bell-chamber has a re-used 12th-century string-course
at the base and in each wall a window of two
lights made up of late 12th-century and 13th-century moulded and carved stones.
Fittings—Bells: six and sanctus; sanctus,
uninscribed and probably old. Bell-frame inscribed "1672 Nevill Jones and Thomas Wallis,
Churchwardens." Books: Erasmus' Paraphrase of
the New Testament and Comber on the Common
Prayer; the latter chained to the lectern and bound
in wood-boards with leather cover and brass clasps
and plates each engraved with a Tudor rose,
binding 16th-century. Brass Indent: In N. aisle—
partly under organ, of foliated cross with flowered
stem, 14th-century. Coffin-lids: In tower—
forming lintel of belfry-doorway, coped slab with
remains of 'omega' ornament, 13th-century.
In churchyard, forming stile on W. side, coped slab
with foliated cross and double 'omega' ornament,
13th-century. Cross: In churchyard—E. of
chancel, churchyard-cross with stone shaft, 9 ft.
high, with stop-chamfered angles, octagonal to
square base with moulded edge, 14th-century,
head of cross missing. Door: In doorway to
tower-staircase—of three battens with strap-hinges and iron handle-plate, 17th-century. Font:
of dark grey marble, hexagonal bowl with lower
edge shaped for six angle-shafts, plain shafts, late
12th- or early 13th-century, middle shaft modern.
Lectern (Plate 32): of oak, square post with
moulded and embattled capital, four buttresses
each with traceried supports, carved crockets and
diagonal pinnacles; double book-rest with moulded
ridge and crocketed tops to gables, 15th-century,
base, one buttress, four figures and most of book-rest modern. Locker: in N. vestry—in S. wall,
rectangular with rebated reveals, probably 13th-century. Monuments: In churchyard—on S. wall
of chancel, (1) said to be to Prebendary Robins,
1673, stone, set in wall, with the word "Resurgam";
S.E. of chancel, (2) to Henery Bellamy, 1702, and
Rebecca, his wife, 1683, and other later names,
panelled tomb with double coped top slab.
Painting: In nave—over easternmost arch of N.
arcade, figure of bearded man in orange red
cloak, upper part of arm bare and holding hand
to forehead, wing of angel on right, possibly
the angels and shepherds, background diapered
with rosettes probably late 13th- or early 14th-century. Piscinae: In chancel—with moulded
jambs and two-centred head, two quatre-foiled
drains in marble slab, 13th-century, probably
re-set. In N. vestry—in S. wall, recess with chamfered jambs and square head, fitted with projecting
drain, partly restored, above it a recess or locker'
with three plug-holes for fixture, probably 13th-century. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten
of 1568 with bands of incised ornament, cover
much damaged and with the name "Ramsaye."
Cup and cover-paten, probably of 1638, but the
stamp reversed, former inscribed "the gift of
Elizabeth Margetts." Flagon of 1712 with
inscription and shield-of-arms. Scratchings: On
stonework of tower, various initials, probably
those of contributors to the tower. Sedilia:
In chancel—base of seats with piers between,
upper parts removed and sills modern. Miscellanea:
Built into tower—portions of cusped panelling,
moulded and foliated capitals, cornice-mouldings,
large 14th- or 15th-century boss from a vault,
carved with the Annunciation, etc. In vicarage
garden—numerous moulded stones including a
mid 12th-century carved capital.
b(2). Homestead Moat, at Worlick, 1¾ m. N.E.
of the church.
a(3). Ramsey Abbey, house, gatehouse, walls
and earthworks, stands on the S. of the parish
churchyard. The Benedictine Abbey of Ramsey
was founded in 969 by Ailwyn and dedicated to
S.S. Mary and Benedict. Of the mediæval
structure nothing now survives except a rectangular
building of mid 13th-century date incorporated in
the house and probably the former Lady Chapel
and a portion of the Gatehouse. The Abbey was
dissolved in 1539 when it passed into the hands of
Sir Richard Williams (alias Cromwell). Most of
the buildings were then pulled down and it was
probably his son Sir Henry Cromwell who began
the conversion of the surviving building into a
house. The alterations which perhaps belong
to two periods include a large extension westward
with a tower at the N.W. angle, a porch and a
tower at the N.E. angle and perhaps the raising
of the main building, which was divided into storeys.
The building was very extensively altered in 1839
when the N. front was largely masked by a narrow
addition and an outer porch built; there is a
modern wing at the W. end and a large modern
bay at the E. end.
The remains of the Lady Chapel have good
13th-century detail and the house also contains a
fine 13th-century effigy. The surviving part of the
gatehouse is also a rich piece of 15th-century
The House is now of three storeys with a
basement; the walls are faced with rough ashlar
and the roofs are covered with slates. The supposed
Lady Chapel forms the E. part of the building and
originally stood free on the E., N. and S. but was
attached to a building, probably of earlier date,
at the W. end of which the thick eastern wall
remains. The arrangement seems to bear a close
analogy to that of the former Lady Chapel at
Peterborough, in which case the earlier wall would
be that of the N. transept of the church. The
building is of six bays divided by buttresses with
tabled offsets and stop-chamfered angles. On the
two E. bays of the S. wall are remains of an original
string-course. Judging from the buttresses the
building originally stopped at the base of the top
storey, which is probably a 16th-century addition.
The building (68 ft. by 23 ft. internally) has otherwise been completely altered except in the basement
which has an internal wall-arcade (Plate 116) of
moulded trefoiled arches with moulded labels and
formerly resting on free shafts with moulded and
foliated capitals and moulded bases; this arcade
has been much mutilated and in parts destroyed
by added walls and alterations; at the E. end there
are two bays of arcading in the middle and one at
each end of the wall the intervening spaces being
left blank; the arcading appears to have been
continuous on the side walls except in the fourth
bay from the E. where on each side there is a
doorway; the N. doorway has chamfered jambs
and four-centred head probably of the 16th
century; the S. doorway, much mutilated and now
blocked, is original and had a moulded two-centred
arch and defaced label; in the blocking is a 16th-century window. The W. wall retains only parts
of three bays of arcading at the S. end. Above the
arcade there are remains of a moulded string-course and no doubt the upper walls were pierced
with large windows, no trace of which now remains.
The existing windows are mostly modern but many
of them no doubt reproduce the design of the late
16th- or 17th-century windows; they all have
square-headed lights with transoms except to the
top floor and basement; an original window on
the N. side is now visible only in the modern
corridor. The 16th-century additions have windows
of similar character. The two towers are each of
four storeys. The porch in the middle of the N.
front is concealed by modern additions except
the gable with three pinnacles and a two-light
window below it. The whole of the main block of
the building is finished with a modern pierced
Ramsey Abbey, Plans of House and Gatehouse
Inside the house at the end of the modern corridor
is preserved a grey marble effigy (Plate 115) of
the second half of the 13th century; the figure is in
civil dress with a long cloak, his left hand is raised
to the cord of his cloak and the right hand holds
two keys and a small wand of raguly form; the
head has curled hair and a beard and the feet rest
on a lion; above the head is a gablet or recumbent
canopy of trefoiled form surmounted by angels
holding the soul in a sheet; on either side are
gabled pinnacles carried on foliated corbels and the
edges of the slab are enriched by leaf-crockets.
In a passage in the basement is preserved a late
16th-century oak door (Plate 160), said to have
been brought from Biggin House; it has a round
head with radiating panels and panels, forming an
oval design in a square, below; in the middle is
an oval boss with the initials H.C. in ironwork
and a half-round iron handle; the moulded ribs
dividing the panels are nail-studded.
The Gatehouse (Plate 117) stands N.W. of
the house and is a partly ruined building of two
storeys; the walls are of stone faced with ashlar.
It was built probably late in the 15th century
and now forms a lodge. The gateway itself
formerly stood across the modern roadway on
the W., but of this only the E. wall remains,
together with parts of the flanking turrets on
the N. and S. The lodge forms the adjoining
block on the E. The N. front has a moulded
plinth, but the top of the building has been
destroyed; the octagonal turret has richly panelled
faces with cinque-foiled and sub-cusped heads and
an embattled cornice between the storeys.
The eastern block has a similar cornice between
the storeys and an altered two-light window to the
ground-floor, with a square moulded label; the
upper storey has a square oriel window of slight
projection and of two cinque-foiled lights on the
face; the window rests on moulded and carved
corbelling supporting a band of quatrefoils and a
moulded and enriched string; the angles of the
window were carried up as pinnacles, but the top
has now been destroyed. The face of the wall
flanking the window-head has a rich band of sub-cusped quatrefoils surmounted by a moulded
cornice with carved bosses. This bay of building
is flanked on the E. by a buttress with moulded
and embattled offset and a panel with a cinque-foiled and sub-cusped head on the face; beyond
the buttress only the core of the wall is left, and
against it has been built a modern gateway. The
rear or S. front has been generally similar to the
N. front, but the turret has been completely ruined
and the lower window has been cut down to form a
doorway; the upper stage of the E. buttress partly
remains on this side and has a niche in the face
with a moulded pedestal. The W. side retains part
of the jamb of the N. arch of the gateway and a
shaft, perhaps a vaulting shaft, in the adjoining
angle; only a fragment of the lower jamb of the
S. arch remains; in the wall is a doorway, now
blocked, with a four-centred head and label. Inside
the building are two doorways with pointed heads,
and the mid 17th-century S. door has a head made
up of moulded and carved woodwork. The main
room has a dado of 17th-century panelling.
The Walls enclosing the grounds on the N. are
probably of the 16th century and incorporate large
quantities of re-used moulded stones; near the
stables are some good pieces of 12th-century
The extent of the precinct is probably indicated
by the banks and ditches shown upon the plan.
On the S. side of the enclosure is an earthwork of
doubtful purpose, known as Booth's Hill. It consists of an 'island' of irregular oval shape, with a
mound about 12 ft. high near the middle of it. This
mound has been altered for the building of an
Condition—Of house, good, much altered, of
gatehouse partly ruinous.
a(4). Biggin Malting and moat, 1 m. W. of the
church. Biggin House was built probably in the
16th century on the site of a mediæval hospital.
The main buildings have been entirely destroyed,
but a long range of out-buildings (Plate 166)
called the Malting remains in a ruinous condition to the N.W. of the site of the house.
The building is of two storeys and the walls
are of yellow brick with red brick dressings. It
was built, probably, in the second half of the
16th century and consists of a long range (165 ft.
long) running E. and W. and a shorter range
extending S. at the E. end; there are indications
of a former range further W. on the same side.
There are a number of modern openings and cross-walls. The walls generally have a plinth and the
buttresses, which are irregularly spaced, have
tabled tops. A moulded brick string is carried over
the lower window-heads as a label; the upper
windows have a similar label but no string-course.
The original windows are of one or two four-centred lights in square heads; they are mostly
blocked; there are traces of two original doorways
in the second bay from the W. of the main block.
On the E. side of the S. wing are traces of a projecting bay or turret.
The Moat is a quadrangular enclosure surrounding the site of the original house.
Condition—Of Malting, ruinous.
a(5). Bodsey House and moat, nearly 1½ m.
N. of the church. The House (Plate 130) is
of two storeys; the walls are of stone and
brick with some timber-framing and the roofs
are covered with tiles and slates. There was a
hermitage at Bodsey, dependent on Ramsey
Abbey, at any rate from the 13th century. The
main block of the existing house is of stone and
appears to date from the early part of the 14th
century and was probably the chapel with a
range of lodgings running N. from it. In the
16th century this building was turned into a
house and much altered; in the 17th century the
main W. wing was added and there is a smaller W.
wing of doubtful date. The former chapel has been
much re-built and probably shortened at the E. end
but at the S.W. angle are two original buttresses
with tabled heads and offsets. In the S. wall are
two blocked windows with pointed heads. The
E. wall is of 16th-century brick and has a square
label as though for a former window. In the
W. wall is a doorway of re-used stones. The 17th-century chimney-stack has diagonal pilaster-strips
and a square base. The original range of lodgings
has in the E. wall two small windows each of a
single square-headed light. Opposite one another
at the S. end are two original stone doorways with
chamfered jambs, two-centred arches and moulded
labels. The 17th-century wing has a large chimney-stack on the N. side, of stone at the base, and with
three diagonal shafts. There is a similar chimney-stack at the N.E. angle of the main structure.
Inside the building some of the rooms have chamfered ceiling-beams and one room has also a moulded
beam. The doorway between the chapel and the
lodgings has an original moulded rear-arch of stone;
the main arch has been mostly cut away. On the
first floor of the W. wing is a stone fireplace with
stop-moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a
square head with a moulded shelf above. In the
garden of the house is a fragment of tracery.
Ramsey, Plan Shewing Position of Monuments.
The Moat only remains on the S. side of the
Condition—Of house, good.
The following monuments, unless otherwise
described, are of the 17th century and of two
storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs
are covered with tiles or thatch. Several of the
buildings have chamfered ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
High Street. S. side
a(6). Rose and Crown Inn, 250 yards W. of the
church, has a back wing of brick bearing the
initials and date E.H. 1661. Inside the building is
a moulded ceiling-beam with shaped ends.
a(7). Cottage, No. 75, adjoins (6) on the W.
a(8). House, two tenements, W. of (7), has been
refaced with brick but the timber-framing is still
exposed on the western tenement.
a(9). George Hotel, 25 yards W. of (8), is of two
storeys with attics; the walls are of brick. The
front part of the house appears to have been
re-built, but the back wing and staircase-block are
original. The original chimney-stack at the end of
the back wing has two diagonal shafts on a rectangular base with a moulded capping. Inside the
building the staircase of c. 1630 has a small well,
heavy turned balusters, square newels with faceted
ball-terminals and acorn-pendants, moulded strings
a(10). House, 120 yards W. of (9), has been
largely re-built but set in the E. wall is a stone tablet
with the inscription "Aug. 13 1653 for 1 doz. of
beer I. Legg. . . . . e me here."
a(11). House, standing back from the road
50 yards S.W. of (10), has been refaced with brick
but has an original chimney-stack with grouped
shafts set diagonally on a square base. The house
is of T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the
a(12). Range of four tenements in yard on E.
side of Schoolhouse Lane, nearly 500 yards W.
of the church; the walls are now of brick and
the roofs are covered with corrugated iron. The
central chimney-stack is original and has grouped
shafts set diagonally on a square base.
Great Whyte. E. side
a(13). Cottage, at S. corner of New Road,
350 yards W. of the church.
a(14). Seven Stars Inn, 300 yards N.N.W. of
(13), has an original moulded ceiling-beam.
a(15). Cottage, two tenements, 70 yards N.W. of
(14), has an original chimney-stack with grouped
diagonal shafts on a rectangular base.
a(16). Cottage, N.W. of (15) was built, probably,
in the 16th century. The upper storey projects in
front and inside the building is an original moulded