(O.S. 6 ins. TL 45 N.W.)
Coton, though not mentioned in Domesday Book and
probably not a primary settlement, figures in at least
one other 11th-century document. In the reign of
Henry III it acquired full parochial status, having previously been a chapelry of Grantchester, but its early
history may also have involved close association with
Whitwell which lay a bare ½ m. to the W. along an
ancient trackway leading into Cambridge. The settlement is on a spring-line, the position of the main
water supply, which was perhaps the 'petrifying spring'
described by Gardner (Directory, 290), being preserved
in the name 'Well Close', the site of a moat within
which now stands the Rectory (Monuments (13) and
(6)); the public supply was no doubt located on the small
green, where the village pump now stands, at the N.W.
corner of the Rectory moat and immediately E. of the
church. The parish extends only to 970 acres of boulder
clay, chalk and gault. The dwellings lie N. and S. of a
single street, about ¼ m. in length, broadening out in
the middle and there accommodating the church, the
surviving 12th-century work of which suggests prosperity on a small scale. The few surviving secular
monuments are of little interest. Enclosure took place
in 1799–1803. There are a few 'cottages' of the first half
of the 19th century not described in the inventory,
single-storey with attics, of plastered studwork or white
brick, with tiled mansard roofs.
(1) Parish Church of St. Peter (Plate 52), consisting
of Chancel, Nave with Aisles and Porches, and West Tower
aisled on the S., stands in a rectangular churchyard
bounded on the N. by a low wall with old stone coping.
The chancel is of ashlar; the remaining walls are of field
stones and clunch with freestone and clunch dressings.
The roofs are covered with tiles, slate and copper,
except for the W. tower which is surmounted by a short
stone spire. The original 12th-century chapel consisted
of an aisleless nave and oblong chancel. The exterior
walls W. of the chancel arch include much reused
material, some of which is 12th-century, and of the nave
only the shafted S.E. quoins are now surviving in
situ (Plate 62). The chancel was heavily restored though
apparently not completely rebuilt in the last century.
The S. arcade, originally with a low aisle of the present
width as indicated by the height of the S.E. buttress, is of
the early 14th century. The tower belongs to a group,
the dating of which has aroused some discussion (see
Sectional Preface p. xxxix and Inscriptions and Scratchings
(2)) but is probably not later than 1400; with it goes the
heightening and W. extension of the S. aisle. Towards
the end of the middle ages the N. arcade and aisle, and
the N. and S. porches were added. There were restorations in 1863–4, under the supervision of W. M.
Fawcett, and in 1880.
Coton, the Parish Church of St. Peter
Architectural description—The Chancel (25½ ft. by 14½ ft.)
retains the W. portions of an external part-octagonal string at
the sill level of the original windows. The fabric has been
mutilated by the addition of a modern bay on the N. side
resulting in the destruction of the E. half of this wall. Two
uniform original 12th-century round-arched windows survive
in situ, one on either side. They have shafted jambs and
splays with moulded heads and rear arches. The remaining
fenestration is modern save for a rectangular 'low side', now
blocked, which was inserted at the W. end of the N. wall in
the 13th or 14th century. Inside the modern bay a recess has
been formed in its W. wall by resetting the rear arch and splay
shafts of a third original window uniform with the two already
described. The late mediaeval chancel arch, which is obscured
by an organ placed over the screen, is of two orders, the outer
hollowed and continuous, the inner with moulded caps and
The Nave (33¾ ft. by 16¼ ft.) retains externally the shafted
S.E. angle of the 12th-century church. The interior has a late
mediaeval N. arcade of three bays. The arches are each of two
moulded orders, the inner carried on semicircular attached
shafts with moulded caps and bases, the outer continuous,
with the moulding stopped off some way below the caps of
the attached shafts. The early 14th-century S. arcade (Plate 63)
consists of three equilateral arches each of two chamfered
orders rising off quatrefoil piers with small shafts between the
foils and moulded caps and bases. The haunch of the E.
respond is roughly pierced to admit a later rood stair at right
angles to the arcade.
The North Aisle (8½ ft. wide) is coeval with the N. arcade.
It has four uniform windows, one in each end wall and two in
the long wall, each of three cinque-foiled lights with pierced
spandrels in a four-centred head, and a N. doorway with four
centred head the mouldings of which die away into wide
chamfers in the jambs. All these openings are original, although
some window mullions have been restored.
The lower part of the E. wall of the South Aisle (8½ ft. wide),
its S. wall, apart from the western end, and the low diagonal
S.E. buttress are early 14th-century; the rest of its fabric
including everything immediately S. of the tower is later.
The somewhat individual S. doorway (Plate 9) has a two-centred head, the mouldings of which are run out against
chamfered jambs; its label functions as an obtuse-angled
outer frame of four sides with carved spandrels. This doorway and the two windows W. of the porch are contemporary with the heightening and extension of the aisle; both
windows are of two cinque-foiled lights, that adjoining the
porch being rectangular while the other, in the W. wall, has a
small quatrefoil in a four-centred head. The two cinque-foiled
three-light windows E. of the porch, not quite uniform, have
four-centred heads and are also insertions.
The North Porch and the South Porch, uniform in treatment
and both restored, are late mediaeval. The entrances have four-centred heads of two orders, the inner rising off attached shafts,
and the windows are each of two four-centred lights in a square
The West Tower (10¼ ft. square) is in three stages, exclusive
of the basement and plinth and of the embattled parapet with
angle gargoyles, and spire. The W. diagonal buttresses, of four
stages, rise only as far as the bottom of the belfry. Either side
of the N.W. buttress the N. and W. walls are corbelled out for
a vice which is entered from an inside door across the corner.
The belfry windows have been renewed in brick while the
mullions and vertical tracery of the W. window are modern.
The tower arch is of three continuous moulded orders to the E.
and a single chamfered order to the W. A second and lower
arch out of the tower to the S. is of two continuous chamfered
orders separated by a casement mould. The octagonal spire
has two small gablets in each of the cardinal faces. Its E. face
has in addition a doorway opening on to the parapet, with
four-centred head and defaced crocketed ogee label.
Coton, the Parish Church of Saint Peter
The Roofs of the nave and of both aisles and porches are
mediaeval. That of the nave is a steep one of trussed rafters
with four added tie beams and though restored may date from
the period before the nave was aisled. The aisles have late
mediaeval lean-to roofs of low pitch; that to the S. aisle is in
two separate and approximately equal lengths.
Fittings— Bells: three; one, now in S. aisle, dated 1581; 2nd
by Edward Arnold, 1781; 3rd, attributed by Raven (Church
Bells of Cambs., 33) to the Bury foundry, inscribed in Lombardic capitals 'virgo : coronata : duc : nos : ad : regna beata'
with initial cross, 15th-century. Bell frame: old. Brackets: In N.
aisle—N. of E. window (1) square moulded corbel bracket; S.
of E. window (2) part-octagonal, moulded and embattled and
enriched with paterae. In S. aisle— in S.E. corner (3) partoctagonal, moulded, supported by a defaced half-angel with
shield. All three are late mediaeval. Chest: 7¼ ft. long, of oak
planks, with triple lock; the recessed ends with adjoining front
and back stiles are prolonged to act as legs; not later than 16th-century. Communion table: with turned legs and shaped
brackets to grooved top rail, late 16th- or 17th-century, restored. Door: to tower vice, of nail-studded planks with old
furniture, probably original. Font (Plate 5): somewhat tapered
square bowl of limestone marble, three sides carved with crude
arcading, the fourth with cheveron ornament; supported on
five modern legs; 12th-century. Glass: In S. aisle—in E. window (1) parts of a figure in blue robe with quarries, roundels,
monogram border, tabernacle work and other fragments,
some in situ, including parts of inscriptions: 'Orate p aīab ...
et Alicie . . . Lenton~ . . . que fecerunt . . .', 'Orate . . .aīabs
... agnets'; in head of W. window (2) quarry; all late mediaeval. In W. window of tower, with other fragments of little
importance, (3) a few pieces of grisaille of the 13 th or 14th
Inscriptions and scratchings: Among graffiti of various dates on
the stonework are the following (expanded texts as in G. G.
Coulton, 'Mediaeval Graffiti, especially in the Eastern Counties', C.A.S. Procs. XIX (1915), 54–5); on tower arch—on N.
respond (1) 'Thomas Dobson clericus de Cotes anno domini
. . .' On S. respond (2) 'Andreas Swynnow hoc primo in die
Sancti Wlstani incepit, anno domini millesimo CCCC° octagesimo primo'. (Plate 16; Coulton contends that 'the rude
mark before "Andreas" seems pretty plainly intended for a
pair of compasses, a very common emblem of the mason's
craft' and interprets the inscription to mean that 'Andrew
Swinhoe . . . began the arch on St. Wulstan's day 1481';
cf. John Harvey, English Mediaeval Architects (1954), 260.) Also
on S. respond (3) 'Thomas Bradfield clericus de Coty[s] anno
domini [MC] CCC [octa] gesimo tercio'. All three inscriptions
are worn and have been more or less improved by enthusiastic
epigraphists. Monuments: In chancel, at E. end of S. wall (1) of
Andrew Downes of St. John's College Cambridge, Regius
Professor of Greek, 1627; wall monument of painted clunch
consisting of an inscription panel in strapwork frame adorned
with rosettes, obelisks, emblems of mortality and three shields
of arms. In S. aisle (2) of Richard Angier, 1842, and his wife
Ann, 1874; wall monument. In tower aisle (3) of Richard
Hatley, 1707, and Mary, his wife, 1699; table-tomb with
freestone sides, three panelled and one plain, and heavy black
marble top with inscription and achievement of arms in relief.
There are some 18th-century headstones in the churchyard
with inscriptions not wholly decipherable. Niche: over
entrance to S. porch, of clunch, weathered; late mediaeval.
Organ: above chancel screen, in 14th-century gothic style;
19th-century. Plate: includes an inscribed cup, London 1711.
Piscina: in chancel, the E. half including centre shaft of a double
piscina with two-centred head and circular drain; 13th-century
The Church of St. Peter, Coton
Painted Clunch Wall Monument of Andrew Downes, 1627
Screen: in five bays including central entrance, and two
heights; the structural timber up to and including the rail is
mediaeval; remainder modern, incorporating some postmediaeval woodwork. Seating: some 19 benches in five blocks
in the nave and S. aisle with rectangular panelled ends; each
block has panelled and buttressed front desk and panelled and
buttressed back to the rear bench; late mediaeval, restored
(especially the block in the S. aisle). Stoups: In N. porch—in
S.W. corner (1) with chamfered jambs, four-centred head and
recessed bowl; late mediaeval, mutilated. In S. porch—
immediately E. of S. door (2) with trefoiled head, defaced and
with bowl missing; perhaps 14th-century. Tables of the
Decalogue (Plate 20) : in ground stage of tower, framed board
with moulded cornice and pediment painted with emblem of
the Deity and clouds; the 18th-century text has flaked off in
part revealing black-letter inscription of the late 16th or 17th
century, also of the commandments. Miscellaneous: in chancel,
reused as blocking of 'low side' window in N. wall, stone
coping or lid carved with Catherine wheel, late mediaeval;
loose in S. porch, jamb stone, re-worked and of uncertain
date, in two ovolo-moulded orders carved with billet ornament and a marigold; lock (Plate 22), affixed to door in screen,
(2) Cross. The shaft only is above ground and consists of a
tapering monolith about 6 ft. high, square in section with
rounded corners and shallow double hollow with central keel
in each face; mediaeval.
(3) Manor Farm, two-storeyed with attic and cellar, was
built in the second half of the 18th century and consisted of a
N. and S. range with half-hipped mansard roof carried over
service outshuts on the W. The building was subsequently
cased in white brick and enlarged.
(4) Catharine Hall Farm (Class L), two-storeyed, partly
framed and plastered and partly of brick, with tiled roofs, was
comprehensively remodelled in the 18th century but retains
traces of 17th-century origin.
(5) House (Class J), now several tenements, two-storeyed,
framed and rough-cast, with tiled roof, is 17th-century; it
has been extended at the ends and the back in brick. On the
S. side against the chimney is an original porch of two full
storeys with blocked entrance.
(6) Rectory (Plate 32), of two storeys, in white brick with
low-pitched slated roofs, was built c. 1840. The S. elevation has
three tall sash windows on the ground floor with similar
smaller ones above. The original staircase, in a long E. and W.
hall, divides the living rooms from the service block to the N.
(7) Rectory Farm consists of a house (not listed) and buildings. The Buildings include: (a) a framed and boarded structure
of two storeys, the upper of which is a pigeon loft, with a tiled
mansard roof, hipped below and with E. and W. gablets above;
and (b) an aisled barn framed and boarded, with thatched roof,
of five bays, two of which are floored; both 18th-century.
(8) House (Class D), demolished in 1960, was of one storey,
in part at least, with attics, framed and plastered except for
some brick replacement, and with tiled roofs; perhaps late
(9) House (Class I), (Plate 32), one storey with attics,
framed and plastered, with a tiled and pantiled mansard roof;
early 19th century.
(10–12) Houses (Class J), of the 17th and 18th centuries, one
or two storeys high and of various materials.
(13) Moated site (Class AI(b); N.G. TL 410588) around the
Rectory. The rectangular moat measures internally about
240 ft. E. to W. by 200 ft. N. to S.; the greater part of the N.
side has been destroyed and the W. ditch is little more than a
much enlarged stream bed. The ditch varies in width from
20 ft. on the E. to 50 ft. on the S. and W. and is 5 ft. to 10 ft.
deep. An external bank 40 ft. wide and 2½ ft. to 4 ft. high runs
parallel to the S. side; it seems to have been a dam behind
which the stream was ponded to fill the ditch. The interior
has been much disturbed by the gardens around the 19th-century house and the ditch is overgrown.
Coton, Monument 13
(14) Moated site (Class AI(a); N.G. TL 409587) S. of
Rectory Farm, 300 ft. S.W. of the foregoing. The moat is
trapezoidal and measures internally 170 ft. E., 162 ft. W.,
100 ft. S. and 70 ft. N. The only side on which the ditch is well
preserved is the S. where it is wet, 30 ft. wide and 3 ft. deep.
The moat was apparently filled by a channel at the N.E. angle,
tapping the stream which flows through the Rectory moat. The
interior is slightly raised.
Coton, Monument 14
(15) Cultivation Remains. Ridge and furrow with straight
ridges 100 yds. to 170 yds. long, 7 yds. to 9 yds. wide and
9 ins. high with headlands of 5 yds. to 7 yds. survives near the
village, e.g. around N.G. TL 408589 and 410587 (not on O.S.)
These were all in old enclosures; in the second case access
ways 30 ft. wide and ditches are still to be seen and indicate
earlier subdivisions. Slight traces are visible on air photographs,
notably around N.G. TL 408575, where curving ridges of openfield strips have been ploughed out. An Elizabethan survey of
the parish describes all the open fields and lists a number of
balks between the strips. In 1802 there were five 'Fields'—
'Clint', 'Down', 'More', 'Up' and 'West.'
(Ref: survey c. 1600 (King's College, Cambridge; see also
W. J. Corbett, R. Hist. Soc. Trans., n.s. XI (1897), 67); enclosure map (C.R.O.); air photographs: 106G/UK/1490/3032,