9 SWAFFHAM PRIOR
Fig. 105 Swaffham Prior, Village Map
(O.S. 6 ins. aTL 56 N.W., bTL 56 S.E., cTL 56 S.W., dTL 66 S.W.)
(Fig. 105; Plate 5)
The parish, of about 4600 acres, has an elongated shape
and lies across the junction of chalk lands and fen. The
S.E. half lies on chalk sloping gently N.W. from 100 ft.
to 15 ft. above O.D.; the N.E. half is fenland. It is
bounded on the N.E. by the Devil's Dyke and Reach
Lode. The village consists of a long street running
parallel to the fen edge with a former rectangular green
at right angles to the street and on its E. side. This green
was still open in 1815 (Enclosure Map) but has since been
encroached upon; it is now called Cage Hill from a
19th-century lock-up (30) at the head of the former
green. Along the W. side of the street, on the edge of the
fen, is a line of four Romano-British sites, succeeded by
a row of medieval moated sites; all the moats and larger
early houses are on this side of the village street. On the
E. of the street the land rises more steeply and has
been quarried in places; apart from the two churches
crowning a hill at the S. end, only later buildings,
served by a back lane, are found on this side of the
The W. half of the hamlet of Reach, including the
hythe and site of the fair, was in Swaffham Prior parish
until Reach became an independent civil parish in 1953.
This was presumably a subsidiary settlement similar
to Commercial End and Lode, each of which was
situated at the head of a waterway.
Swaffham Prior was formerly divided into two
parishes with two churches sharing a single yard; this
probably reflects an early manorial or tenurial division.
The two parishes were united in 1667 by Act of Parliament (18 and 19 Chas. II cap. 26), and the churches were
used alternately as convenience and fashion dictated. In
the mid 15th century a chapel dedicated to St. Etheldreda
existed at Reach (C.U.L., Bishop's Registers: G.1/4, 21;
The names of seven manors are known, but the sites
of only four manor houses can be identified: Baldwins
(5), Swaffham (21), Shadworth (27) and perhaps
Enclosure of the parish followed an Act of 1805 and
was completed by 1815.
b(1) Parish Church of St. Mary (Fig. 106; Plate 12)
stands with the church of St. Cyriac in a triangular
churchyard on high ground. The walls are of field
stones, flint with rubble, with dressings of 'Barnack'
and clunch. The roofs are covered with tiles and lead.
The church consists of a Chancel, Nave with Aisles,
West Tower and West Porch. The earliest building on
the site is represented by the nave whose W. wall may
be dated c. 1100; coeval are the remains of a small
window with external rebates, between the present N.
aisle and chancel, indicating an aisleless nave. Later in the
12th century, possibly in the second half, the existing
chancel was built presumably slightly wider than its
predecessor. Still later in the century the lower stages of
the W. tower were added; a large arch was cut through
the W. wall of the earlier nave-wall to conform with the
new tower arch. The size and scale of these additions
suggest that the nave was aisled by the end of the 12th
century; a piscina in the N. aisle demonstrates that an
aisle was certainly in existence by the 14th century. The
building of the tower continued into the 13th century
when the two upper stages were added. In the second
half of the 13th century internal recesses were cut into
the N. and S. walls of the tower, probably to accommodate altars flanking the tower arch. The nave, aisles,
clearstorey and a W. porch belong to the 15th century.
A stone spire (Plate 35), probably of 13th-century date
(illustrated by The Itinerant, Cambridgeshire (1801),
Gentleman's Magazine (1815) as in 1802, and by Relhan
in 1801 (C.A.S. watercolours)), was demolished in
1802–3 at a cost of £25 (C.R.O., P150/5/2, P150/6/2;
Churchwardens' Accounts, Easter 1803). The nave
roof, reported as in 'great decay' in 1802 (C.R.O.,
P150/6/2), was removed by 1806 but the chancel
remained roofed (illustrated in Lysons, Cambridgeshire
(1808) as in 1806). The chancel was repaired and a vestry
added in 1878 by Arthur Blomfield whose proposals
appear to have been completed in 1902 when the nave
was heavily restored and the S. aisle rebuilt except for
the E. wall (C.U.L., Ely Faculty Reg. and plan, 1878;
Kelly, Directory (1922), 216). The top of the tower was
reinstated to a modern design in 1965.
The church is noteworthy for work belonging to the
Norman period. In the later 12th century it was a large
building of considerable distinction. The W. tower is
remarkable for the polygonal forms of its upper stages,
and for the unusual recesses contrived later in the side
Architectural Description—The Chancel (33½ ft. by 18¼ ft.)
has been refaced externally with field stones, probably by
Blomfield in 1878, so obscuring blocked openings visible
internally. The unbuttressed E. wall may be 12th-century; the
window is modern. In the N. wall is a wide, round-headed
rear-arch with partly exposed splayed jambs, of the mid or
late 12th century. The vestry doorway and the opening for
the organ are probably late 19th-century. Further W. are the
externally-rebated jambs and E. splay of a window, possibly
of c. 1100; the head is now flat and the W. splay is hidden on
the conversion of the opening into a squint in the 14th
century. Above this window are some worked stones, possibly
the E. jamb of an upper window. The windows in the S. wall
are modern but between them is the 12th-century rear-arch of
a window similar to that on the N. but slightly narrower;
below it is a restored doorway with segmental rear-arch,
probably 15th-century. The chancel-arch, without responds,
is a restoration.
Fig. 106 Swaffham Prior (1), The Parish Church of St. Mary
The Nave (48½ ft. by 19½ ft.) (Plate 13) has four-bay 15th-century N. and S. arcades of two moulded orders, the outer
continuous and the inner springing from shafts with moulded
bases and embattled capitals. Below the much-restored or
rebuilt clearstorey is a moulded and embattled string-course;
between each two-light window is a shaft with embattled
capital carrying a wall-post of the roof, renewed except for
those at the W. In the W. wall is an intruded arch with plain
voussoirs producing a stilted and depressed outline; the ashlar
jambs have small chamfers and in the reveals is a roll-moulded
and chamfered clunch impost moulding. Above the arch is an
offset. The N. Aisle (10¾ ft. wide) has a modern rag stone
facing. The openings are modern except for a blocked 15th-century N. doorway which has a two-centred head, external
label and segmental rear-arch. The S. Aisle (9½ ft. wide) is
modern except for the E. wall, which was refaced with the
chancel in the 19th century; the side wall in rag stone was built
on the old line in 1902; the original W. wall survived until
that time (C.A.S., Photographs of c. 1900). The 15th-century
rood-loft stair in the N.E. angle has upper and lower doorways with four-centred heads.
The West Tower (16 ft. by 15½ ft.) is of four structural
stages, but is now undivided internally. The rectangular lower
stage has a chamfered plinth and crowning course carved with
billet moulding. The E. wall is built against the earlier nave
wall through which a wide arch conforming with the later
tower arch, has been cut (see Nave); a straight joint exists
between the rubble reveals of the intruded opening in the
nave wall and the clunch ashlar of the tower arch. The
octagonal second stage is carried on round-headed squinch
arches which are finished externally as broaches on the W.
and single-pitch weatherings on the E., perhaps reflecting the
pitch of the former nave roof; on each N., S. and W. face is a
round-headed window externally of two orders, the inner
plain and the outer roll-moulded, having shafts with moulded
bases, cushion capitals decorated with reeding, and abaci. At
the top of the stage is a diapered string-course. The third,
sixteen-sided, stage has small external broaches and shallow
internal squinches at the junction with the octagonal stage.
Alternate sides have tall lancet windows of two external
chamfered orders. The much-rebuilt top stage is also sixteensided and the alternate tall lancet windows are placed over the
blind faces of the stage below. The string-course below the
modern parapet is enriched with grotesque heads, one of
which is original but reset. Inside, the round-headed tower
arch has unmoulded jambs and a head with two orders on the
W., the inner roll-moulded and the outer recessed (Plate 14).
The arrises do not align with the W. face of the arch, inferring
a detached angle shaft with a base in the surviving re-entrant
angle of the podium and a capital beneath the projecting
impost moulding; this last is a continuation of the impost
moulding cut into the reveal of the intruded arch. Above the
tower arch is a 12th-century round-headed recess with rebated
jambs; it penetrates as far as the nave wall (Plate 15). In the E.
half of the N. and S. walls of the tower are 13th-century
internal recesses with chamfered jambs and asymmetrical
heads; the E. wall of the tower has been cut back to receive
the arches. The arches were probably inserted to provide the
additional width necessary for small altars flanking the entrance
to the nave. The N. recess has a moulded impost on the W.
An upper voussoir of the S. recess has an unexplained projection. Between the S. recess and the tower arch are two 13th-century corbels from which spring vaulting ribs, perhaps for
a canopy over an object such as a statue or stoup for which a
circular sinking survives in the podium. Against the reveals of
the tower arch are remains of stone benches, one with a shaped
arm rest, probably of the 13th century; another bench-like
projection is in the S. recess. The W. doorway has 12th-century inner splays but the moulded outer jambs, four-centred head and segmental rear-arch are 15th-century; in the
jambs are draw-bar recesses. In the N.W. angle of the tower
is a 15th-century stair turret which is carried up to the base of
the second stage. A doorway in the canted E. face has continuous chamfered jambs, and the stair is lit internally by a
group of three primitive and later loops and an original
chamfered loop, all with square heads.
The West Porch, of the 15th century, is partly ruined and the
stonework much weathered. Some earlier moulded fragments
are included in the walling. The head of the W. archway has
fallen but the moulded responds remain. The side walls each
have a window opening, originally of two cinque-foiled lights,
in a pointed segmental head with label. On N. and S. are
remains of benches. The springers of the former ribbed vault
rest on angle shafts; the vault originally incorporated the arms
of Tothyll (Blomefield, Collectanea Cantabrigiensia (1751), 178).
Fittings—Books: various, in chest (2) including a large book
of Common Prayer, 1727. Bracket: inserted in first pier of N.
arcade, enriched but mutilated, 15th-century. Brasses and
Indents: in N. aisle—(1) of William Water de Rech, 1521, and
Alice his wife, figures of man in civil dress and woman, plate
showing six sons, and modern blank plate for daughters, plate
below figures with black-letter inscription, set in carboniferous limestone slab, also another brass separately mounted
with invocation (Plate 44); (2), of Richard Water, February
1515, and Alice his wife, figures of man in civil dress and
woman, indents for children and plate below figures with
black-letter inscription, set in slab as (1). In S. aisle—(3),
of John Tothyll, 1462, and wife, figures of man in armour
and woman, and plate below figures with black-letter inscription, set in floor slab (9); (4), in same slab as (3), of Robert
Chambers, 1638, shaped brass engraved with semi-profile
figure of man in civil costume (Plate 45); (5), (a) figures of
man and wife in early 16th-century costume, and blank plate
in old indent (Plate 44); (b) small plate with invocatory
inscription in black-letter; (c) indent for small figure, fitted
with modern blank plate. Loose in tower—(6), slab with
indents for two rectangular plates, late medieval. Chests: (1),
oak, hutch-type, probably 17th-century but heavily restored;
perhaps one of two chests that St. Mary's and St. Cyriac's
were obliged to provide in 1665 (Palmer, Episc. Returns,
1662–5, Cambs. and Hunts. Arch. Soc. (1930) Pt. II, 29). (2),
deal, with shaped bottom rail forming feet, 18th- or 19th-century. Coffin: in tower, end only, with head-recess, medieval.
Coffin lids: in tower—(1), plain tapering slab; (2), loose,
tapering slab with double omega ornament, 13th-century.
Cross shaft: loose in W. tower, fragment (2¾ ft. long),
ornamented with two circular rosettes on one face, circular
star-pattern and part of inscription in Lombardic lettering on
reverse, probably 12th-century (Fig. 107). Font: square bowl
with later splayed corners and chamfered under-edge, modern
stem, 13th-century. Glass: in S. window of chancel—(1),
scenes from life of Christ, 1842; date recorded on brass tablet
below; in S. window of tower—(2), various medieval fragments. Hatchments: (1), on canvas, with arms of Allix impaling
Pardoe for John Peter Allix, 1848; (2), on canvas, with arms of
Allix impaling Collier for Sarah Allix, 1807. Locker: in S. wall
of chancel, rectangular with rebated reveals, medieval.
Fig. 107 Swaffham Prior (1), Fragment of Cross shaft
Monuments and Floor slabs. Monuments: in nave—on W.
wall (1), of John Peter Allix, 1848, and Maria his wife, 1854,
tablet with shaped black backing. In N. aisle—on N. wall (2),
of Catherine (Rowland) wife of Rev. George Jermyn, 1828,
stone tablet with arms of Jermyn impaling Rowland; (3), of
Alfred Fenner, 1847, marble tablet. Floor slabs: in nave—(1),
of Rev. William Collier, 1787, and Sarah his wife, 1791. In N.
aisle—(2), of Martin Hill, S.T.P., 1712, with shield of arms
(Plate 65); (3), of Roger Rant, 1654, and Roger Rant, 1728; (4),
of Elizabeth, wife of Roger Rant, 1726, Purbeck slab with indent for former inscription plate to John Rant, 1603 (B.M. Add.
MS. 5807, 18–20); (5), of Roger Rant, 1684; (6), of Charles
Chester, 1795; (7), of Catherine Jermyn, 1828, Ann Maria
Jermyn, 1830, and her daughter, 1831, with marginal inscription and incised cross. In S. aisle—(8), of Sarah Allix, 1836; (9),
of . . . Druery and Alice his wife, late 17th-century; (10), of
Sir John Ellys, 1716, Master of Gonville and Caius College,
with crest of a mermaid, in a shield. (11), of George Gilbert
Allix, 1795, and his brothers Thomas, 1809, Wager, February
1812, and William, 1812; (12), of John Peter Allix, 1807,
and Catharine (Green) his wife. Floor slabs (2) to (5) were
formerly in St. Cyriac's and all except (1), (7) and (10) are
mounted into aisle-walls. In churchyard are about 25 carved
headstones of the 18th century. One of the early 18th century
is carved with representation of Cupid on the wheel of Fortune
blown by the winds of Fate; on base-panel is a verse by Francis
Quarles (Plate 53(b)). Paintings: in chancel—(1), on splay of N.
window, masonry lines, 12th- or 13th-century; loose in S.
aisle—(2), on copper, the Nativity within a mandorla of
flowers, Spanish (?), 17th-century. Piscinae: in nave—in S. wall
(1), recess with trefoiled head and rectangular drain, 15th-century; in N. aisle—in S. wall (2), recess with trefoiled head
and defaced drain, 14th-century. Plate: cup (ht. 7 ins.) inscribed
'Soffame Prire othr wyse called Sant Serres' and cover paten
inscribed 'SP', Elizabethan; cup (ht. 8½ ins.) and a pair of patens,
given by Rev. G. L. Jenyns, London 1842; flagon (ht. 11¾ ins.),
pewter, inscribed 'St marie', 17th-century. Recess: in chancel,
in N. wall, rectangular, date unknown. Seating: see W. Tower
and W. Porch. Scratching: in reveal of W. archway of nave,
elongated head, medieval. Miscellanea: In nave—(1), reset as
corbels, two 12th-century voussoirs with chevron ornament,
perhaps from the S. doorway of St. Cyriac's (C.A.S., watercolour by Relhan, 1801). In tower—(2), various carved stones
including head-corbel, probably early 13th-century.
Fig. 108 Swaffham Prior (2), The Church of St. Cyriac and St. Julitta
b(2) Church of St. Cyriac and St. Julitta stands
in the same churchyard as St. Mary's church (Fig. 108;
Plates 34, 66). The walls of the nave and chancel are of
white brick with stone dressings and the tower is of field
stones, flint, rag stone, some brick, and stone dressings. The
tower, for which a bequest was made 'ad edificationem
campanilis' in 1493 by William Larde (C.U.L., Probate,
Ely Consistory Court, 1486–96), alone remains of the
medieval church which survived in ruins until 1805
when Charles Humfrey was commissioned to design
and build a new nave (C.U.L., Ely Faculty Reg. Book,
1791–1829, 15). The medieval church then standing
had a S. aisle with a 12th-century doorway, presumably
reset (illustrated in The Itinerant, Cambridgeshire (1801)
and watercolour by Relhan, 1801); the date of this
church is unknown but one dedicated to St. Cyriac is
recorded in the mid 13th century (C.A.S., Vetus Liber
Archidiaconi Eliensis (1917), 230). The foundation-stone
for the present nave was laid in May 1806 (Camb.
Chron.) and it was well under construction by July
of that year (letter from G. Jenyns to S. Lysons, B.M.
Add. MS. 9412, 290), but Humfrey was still unpaid for
his work in 1812 (Camb. Chron. 24 April 1812). Its
condition has degenerated since the restoration of St.
Architectural Description—The 19th-century church, consisting of chancel (10 ft. by 14 ft.), nave (55¼ ft. by 18 ft.) with
aisles (11 ft. wide) and transepts (14¼ ft. by 9 ft.), is in the
Gothic style with embattled parapets, diagonal buttresses
partly of reused limestone including 'Barnack', and pointed
windows with wooden jambs and mullions in stone surrounds.
The aisles have gabled roofs. The nave of three bays has
slender quatre-foiled wooden piers, stone responds, with
moulded capitals beneath a low-pitched plastered ceiling of
the nave and flat ceilings of the aisles (Plate 67).
The 15th-century West Tower (14 ft. square) is of three
internal stages, the two lower being square on plan and unified
externally, with diagonal buttresses on the W.; the upper
stage is an octagonal bell chamber. The plinth consists of a
chequer-pattern band of stone and red brick squares beneath
a wave-moulded weathering. The four-centred tower arch
is 19th-century. The W. doorway has chamfered jambs and
moulded head with label. The three-light W. window, with
cinque-foiled-cusped transom and pointed segmental head with
label, has a rear-arch of three chamfered orders, the outer
being hollow; the lower part of the window is blocked and
the upper tracery renewed in wood. The second stage has
loops with four-centred heads on the N. and S.; at the outer
angles of the triangular weathering of the octagonal stage are
the stumps of pinnacles. Pilaster-like buttresses at the corners
of the octagon rise from corbels carved with lions' heads,
grotesque heads and half-angels holding crowns or shields,
and terminate as stumps of pinnacles above the parapet. On the
brick-backed embattled parapet, now mutilated, are flush-flint
panels with trefoiled heads and other enrichments. In each face
of the octagonal bell chamber is a two-light window with
transom and pointed segmental head with label. An external
stair turret on the N.E. rises the full height of the tower; the
turret is entered externally by a 19th-century doorway, the
original doorway on the S. being blocked. The Roof of the
tower has two intersecting stop-chamfered tie beams, one
inscribed 'TL 1738 WE', and straight braces to wall posts.
Fittings—Bells: seven; a ring of six by John Briant, Hertford,
1791; clock bell, 1798, by same founder, formerly in iron
frame of 1848, above tower roof. Bell frame: probably c. 1791.
Benefactors' table: in tower, board with reeded frame and angleroundels, referring to provision of free seats, early 19th-century. Clock: in tower, late 17th-century, with inscription
recording repair by Thomas Safford in 1811 (Plate 64). Gallery:
at W. end of nave, with break-front, carried on shafted
wooden posts, 1806–12. Monuments: loose in church, three
headstones with shaped tops, early 18th-century. Paintings: in
chancel, on plastered walls, tables of Creed, Decalogue and
Lord's Prayer, 1806–12. Seating: in nave and aisles, deal box-pews, fragmentary, 1806–12. Miscellanea: in nave, fragments
of window jambs and heads, 15th-century.
b(3) Zoar Chapel (30 ft. by 20 ft.), with timber-framed
and plastered walls, and pantiled gabled roof, contains a
modern tablet: 'Zoar Chapel erected 1821'. In the late 19th
century the building was enlarged by the addition of a slated
brick lean-to on the S., and the E. front was cased in brick.
Original interior fittings include thirteen benches with shaped
ends and two box-pews.
b(4) Swaffham Prior House (Fig. 109; Plate 92),
consisting of house and outbuildings, stands in a park at
the S. end of the village. The House of two storeys with
attics and cellar, has walls of narrow yellow bricks, and
tiled gabled roofs with central valley and cross-roofs.
Fig. 109 Swaffham Prior (4), Swaffham Prior House
The estate was bought in 1751 by Dr. John Peter Allix
(d. 1758), Dean of Gloucester and Ely (Burke's Landed
Gentry), from the Rant family. The present house
incorporates an earlier one, probably of the early 17th
century with a Class-G plan. Later in the century a
kitchen block was added at the rear. In the mid 18th
century a drawing room was added on the E. and soon
afterwards further additions were made on the N. and
the whole building was encased in yellow brick. Late
19th-century work includes additions on the N. and W.
and the rebuilding of a tall semicircular bay window
at the E. end of the drawing room (C.A.S., watercolour
Fig. 110 Swaffham Prior (4), Balusters
The main front on the S. is of nine bays, the centre three
breaking forward; the earlier house occupied the seven W.
bays. There are first-floor and attic platbands and 19th-century parapet with stone balustrade which replaces a plain
parapet shown by Relhan (also, painting in house, 1836). The
pedimented stone porch is late 19th-century. The sash windows have hidden frames except for two with wide glazing
bars at the W. end. The dormers have hipped roofs and
sliding sashes. The roof over the area of the first house may
be original but early walling is mostly invisible.
Inside, the enlarged stair-hall occupies the end room of the
early house; the stop-chamfered ceiling beam is 18th-century.
The W. room is lined with 17th-century panelling in five
heights, partly augmented with modern work and probably
all reused. The fireplace has a panelled overmantel with two
round-headed porches, jewel-ornamented responds, foliagecarved spandrels and fluted pilasters; above is a triple arched
panel with fluted pilasters. Elsewhere in the house is some
reused 17th-century panelling, and in the attics are a number
of doors of varying design, all of this date. The main staircase
is modern but a back stair has reused 17th-century symmetrically-turned balusters (Fig. 110).
To the S.W. of the house the Outbuildings (Fig. 111) incorporate a former house of the late 16th century. It is of two
storeys, timber-framed and plastered, with tiled gabled roof,
and conforms to a Class-G plan with a contemporary wing,
open to the roof, at the rear. The lower storey was under-built
in brick in the late 18th century, but in other respects the house
preserves original features including a cross passage structurally within the service end, originally divided axially, and a
central 'hall' with stop-chamfered cross beam and a chimney
stack with single fireplace. Upstairs, the end rooms are
divided by braced tie beams; the down-braced corner posts
have enlarged heads. A four-light window with diamond
mullions survives. The roof has collars which clasp purlins,
and convex wind-braces. The rear wing, possibly of the 17th
century and always open to the roof, has braced tie beam,
corner posts with enlarged heads and middle rail.
The house stands in the centre of a large garden and Park of
140 acres. Until the early 19th century the garden was a
rectangle of 10 acres of which an 80-yd. long ha-ha remains,
130 yds. N.W. of the house (Enclosure Map). Between
1814 and 1834 a small park of 45 acres was laid out W. and
S.W. of the house, and survives with little alteration (O.S.
1-inch map (1834)). Enlargement of the park took place
in the early 1880s when the road S.E. of the house was diverted
to its present line; at the same time an elaborate water garden
was constructed and an avenue of trees was planted, aligned
on the newly-built Swaffham Prior station.
b(5) Baldwin Manor (Fig. 112), of two storeys partly
with cellars, is timber-framed with tiled, hipped and
gabled roof. The name derives from the family of
Baldwin who held land in Swaffham Prior at least as
early as the 13th century (Rot. Hund. (1817) l, 52–3).
The house dates from the first half of the 16th century
and originally conformed to a Class-G plan with parlour, hall and service rooms, with upper chambers
throughout; the parlour had been removed by 1815
(Enclosure Map). Later in the 16th century a cross wing
containing a kitchen was added on the W.; this wing
was subsequently extended to the N. with a wider range.
Fig. 111 Swaffham Prior (4), Outbuildings
Three and a half structural bays survive of the original S.
front (Plate 76), to which the end of the added cross wing
forms a fourth bay. There is a continuous first-floor jetty,
slightly lower in the later cross-wing bay which formerly
had a gable on the S. The ground-floor stage has studwork
and down-brace to the original S.W. corner post; the upper
stage has down-bracing which does not respect the posts
marking the structural bays. The continuous jetty is carried
by twelve unequally-spaced brackets, a number of which
spring from narrow engaged shafts with moulded capitals,
mostly mutilated. The jetty bressummer is moulded and
carved with folded-leaf decoration; the jetty plate of the later
W. wing is enriched with embattling. The inner faces of the
brackets flanking the door are carved with conventional rose
and a squirrel sejant, the crest of Baldwin (Plate 78); the doorway has four-centred head and spandrels, one carved with a
thistle, the other with three fishes entwined (Plate 78). The
ground-floor windows make use of original openings but
the three eastern have been altered in size and shape; on the
first floor early window-sills show that some openings have
been widened. The frames and fittings are perhaps late 17th-century. The E. gable-wall incorporates a large chimney stack,
built of brick and clunch, into which is inserted a length of
medieval corbel-table in clunch, with paterae in a casementmoulding. The stack, originally internal, had one flue serving
the hall only. In the rear wall, on the N., are two ground-floor
windows: one of seven lights with roll-and-hollow moulded
mullions is probably a late 16th-century addition; the other
of four tall lights with double hollow-chamfered mullions,
ogee heads and pierced tracery is original (Plate 78).
Fig. 112 Swaffham Prior (5), Baldwin Manor
Inside the house, the main room on the E., originally the
hall, and the former screens passage at its W. end together
occupy two structural bays. The hall has primary cross beams
and secondary axial beams, all double ogee-moulded; that on
the E. is mitred with the cross beam and that on the W. has
leaf stops at the intersection. The S. wall post has an enlarged
head and the N. post is a reused moulded beam perhaps from
the demolished parlour. The wooden fireplace bressummer
has cambered top and the face is carved with leaf ornament
and a central rose; the moulding along the edge is mitred and
continues on the clunch jamb (Plate 87). The N. jamb is
rebuilt in brick. A lobby flanking the stack has a doorway
with four-centred head, spandrels with leaf ornament, mutilated, and a lintel with band of folded-leaf decoration.
The central room has intersecting beams: the cross beam
and the W. axial beam have mortices for studwork of former
partitions, presumably enclosing butteries, on the W. of the
former screens passage, over which the axial beam of the hall
continues. In the S. wall mortices for diamond mullions
survive in the rail soffit. The W. room, in the cross wing, has
stop-chamfered beam and wall posts. The first-floor rooms
correspond with the structural bays; one room has diamond
mullions in the N. wall. The roof of the main range has
chamfered tie beams, arch braces to wall posts with enlarged
heads, and crown posts. The roof of the W. wing has been
roofed in later times in continuation of the main roof, but
mortices for curved braces to a former tie beam relate to the
original roof which had a S. gable.
To N. of house, Outbuildings include a three-bay granary
constructed of timbers from a 16th-century building which
had braced tie beams and diamond-mullioned windows.
The house and outbuildings occupy the interior of a small
Moat (Class A1 (a)), now almost entirely destroyed. It formerly
comprised an enclosure of about ¼ acre, bounded on all sides
by a water-filled ditch at least 30 ft. wide. The moat is shown
complete on the Enclosure Map of 1815, but only slight traces
of a depression round the house remain.
b(6) Old Vicarage, of two storeys, attics and cellar,
has red brick walls, some clunch, and tiled hipped roofs.
According to Cole, writing in 1744, the house was built
by Dr. Peter Allix, vicar 1712–53 (B.M. Add. MS. 5807,
9); it subsequently became the residence for incumbents
after Allix had acquired Swaffham Prior House in 1751.
The house is in two sections and although the external
brickwork of the northern section is the earlier, the
southern may incorporate parts of a pre-existing
structure; the northern is certainly attributable to Dr.
The main E. front (Plate 93) is in five bays with an
asymmetrically-placed front door and sash windows in narrow
openings with darker brick dressings; over the lower windows
are short lengths of platbands. The wall has been heightened
and a plaster cove added at the eaves. On the N. the wall
contains a patch of clunch and a projecting chimney stack.
Upper openings in the W. wall are original. The S. section
has parallel and parapeted gabled roofs with a chimney
stack in each. The S. wall is of clunch with red brick plinth
and quoins. Inside, the fittings described are c. 1740; the more
elaborate are in the N. section. The N. room is lined with
fielded panelling in two heights with moulded dado rail and
cornice; the fireplace has moulded eared surround. The staircase, rising to the attics, has square newels, closed string,
turned balusters and moulded handrail (Plate 96). A bedroom,
originally much longer, has two round-headed doors with
fielded panels in a square architrave with key-block, impost
and moulded cornice. Other rooms contain fireplaces with
stone surrounds with moulded edges; a dressing room is
fitted with contemporary shelves and drawers of graduated
b(7) House, of one storey and attic, yellow brick walls with
red dressings, clunch gable wall on the E., tiled roof with
gable parapets, is 18th-century. Formerly fronting on to the
village street, it once abutted against a slightly wider range on
the E. An extension at the rear is built up on a boundary wall.
On becoming a lodge to Swaffham Prior House in the 1880s
it was converted to a Class-T house.
Fig. 113 Swaffham Prior (8), Plan of House
b(8) House (Figs. 1, 113), of one storey and attics, is timber-framed, partly brick-cased, with thatched gabled roofs perhaps
once half-hipped on the S. It originated as an atypical threecell house of the early 17th century, but, with a modern
alteration in the position of the main door, is now Class J.
The S. room, originally open to the roof, was the service end.
Inside, a window with diamond mullions exists in the S. room
and there is evidence for another in the N. room but the
mullions have been removed. In the N. and centre rooms are
chamfered axial beams. The fireplace in the centre room has
moulded clunch jambs and chamfered bressummer, but that
in the S. room is probably an addition against the earlier stack.
The stair has been moved from the W. to the E. side of the
stack. Joists of the upper floor are carried on planks applied to
the studwork about a foot below the wall plate.
b(9) Anglesey House, of two storeys and cellar, has a framed
and plastered front wall on the W. with a brick plinth; all
other walls are of clunch. The gabled roofs are tiled.
Originally with a Class-J plan, it was increased by the
addition of a single room on the N. and a narrow parallel
range at the rear which has three gabled roofs at right angles
to the main range; these works took place within the 17th-century. In the 19th century a cross passage was cut through
the main stack. On the street front the iron-framed casements
with leaded lights are of two or three lights with transoms;
elsewhere there are similar windows without transoms. Inside,
a large room on the S. has intersecting stop-chamfered ceiling
beams. Two rooms N. of the main stack, each with fireplaces
in the end walls, have axial beams, one being stopped at the
partition. The additional N. room is faced in narrow gault
bricks. The parallel range has no original divisions but contains a stair which, although reconstructed in the early 18th
century, may replace one flanking the internal stack of the
b(10) House, of one storey and attics, is framed and plastered,
with hipped and gabled roof covered with pantiles. Now
approximating to a Class-I house, it was originally open to
the roof throughout and may not have been for domestic
use. The inserted floors may be 18th-century. An additional
flue has been added to the former one-flue chimney stack.
The roof, in three equal bays, has tie beams.
b(11) Terrace of four dwellings, of two storeys with slated
gabled roofs, was built in the early 19th century. Each dwelling
has two rooms arranged in double depth. The terrace is urban
in character with a symmetrical elevation accentuated by a
central blind window.
Fig. 114 Swaffham Prior (12), Plan of House
b(12) Priory Cottage (Fig. 114; Plate 108), Class C, of one
storey, attics and cellar, is framed and plastered, with pantiled
roof, now gabled but formerly half-hipped on the S. The
structure originated with a two-bay central hall open to the
roof, flanked by single-bay rooms and is probably 16th-century.
Originally the S. room may have been the service end. In the
17th century a chimney stack was built in the N. bay of the
hall into which an upper floor was inserted, thus forming a
Class-J plan; the tie beams were removed at this time but the
half-hip survived until the 19th century when an end-gable
stack was added on the conversion of the house into three
dwellings. The internal chimney stack is rectangular, in two
stages with weathered offsets. Inside, the former hall, now
amalgamated with the end room, has an inserted stop-chamfered axial beam; in the E. wall is a wall post, dividing
the hall into two bays, with enlarged head and mortice for
braces to tie beam now removed; in the W. wall, opposite
the later stack, is evidence of an original window. In the N.
end room is an inserted moulded beam in the position of a
former partition, between the hall and the former N. room,
possibly the parlour; the mortice for a partition-rail survives
in the wall post. The roof, consisting of rearranged timbers,
includes a principal rafter morticed for wind-braces.
b(13) House (Plate 108), Class F, of one storey and attics,
framed with white brick additions, has tiled roof, gabled on the
N. and hipped on the S. with gablet. It is probably late medieval but whether originally conforming to Class C, with a
central open hall, or to Class F from the start, is uncertain. In
the 17th century a kitchen was added behind the service end;
further additions were made on the W. in the 19th century. On
the E. a 19th-century shop front with lead-covered hood served
a shop in the former service end. Inside, the central room of
three structural bays has a chimney stack in the S. bay and, to
the N., intersecting and moulded cross and axial beams of the
16th century; moulded joists are not now visible and the axial
beam has been curtailed on the N. for a stair. In the former
parlour, on the N., an original W. window with diamond
mullions is inferred; the ceiling was raised and the N. gable
replaced in brick about 18 inches further out, in the late 19th
century. The service end, on the S., contains a cross beam
above a former partition, and mortices for a diamondmullioned window in the end wall.
Pigeon house, W. of house, has clunch walls, hipped and
tiled roof with gablets, and date-panel '1723' over a widened
b(14) Terrace of three dwellings (Fig. 115), of two storeys
with clunch side and rear walls, brick front wall, and slated
gabled roofs, was built c. 1830. Each dwelling has a front and
back room on each floor, main doors with semicircular heads
and blind painted fanlights, and sash windows on the W. The
terrace has an urban character.
b(15) Red Lion Inn, of one storey, attics and cellar, has a
gabled roof covered with slates and pantiles. It consists of two
rooms of an 18th-century timber-framed house to which was
added one room in clunch in the 19th century. The centre
room has a stop-chamfered axial beam.
b(16) House, of two storeys, attics and cellar, is timber-framed and plastered, with brick plinth and S. gable wall,
and tiled gabled roof. It originated as a Class-I house in the
early 17th century but was extended on the E. by a room with
a roof at right angles to form a Class-J plan later in the
century. The chimney stack of the first date has grouped flues;
aligned with it on the S. is a blocked doorway and to the W.
a blocked window. The S. gable, projecting slightly from the
main front, has kneelers, parapet and two square chimney
shafts joined at the top. On the E. is a moulded wooden eaves
cornice. Inside, the cross beams are chamfered in the centre
and W. rooms; that in the E. room, at right angles to the
S. gable, has roll-and-hollow mouldings. The roof over the
main range has a cambered tie beam and mortices for arch
braces. Early 19th-century fittings include a fielded-panelled
cupboard and a fireplace with wooden reeded surround. In
garden, beside a pump, is an octagonal font bowl, probably
b(17) Goodwin Manor Farm (Plate 109), Class J, of two
storeys and cellar, framed and weather-boarded, hipped roof
with diaper-patterned tiling, was built in the 17th century; later
in the century a kitchen wing with a half-hipped roof was
added at the rear, together with a projecting stair turret
adjacent to the chimney stack of the main range. A 19th-century outshut now engulfs this stair. The leaded casement
windows on the first floor have moulded mullions, plain
transoms and some original furniture. The ground-floor
windows are replacements, each with two mullions possibly
reproducing their predecessors.
Moated Site (Class AI (b)) covers ¾ acre and formerly
included the house in its E. corner. The wide wet ditch
has been recut for modern drainage on the N.E., and the S.W.
and N.W. sides are marked only by a shallow ditch 30–35 ft.
wide and up to 2 ft. deep, while little trace remains of the
S.E. ditch. The interior has been built up 3 ft. above the
natural slope of the land to give a level surface. The N.E. and
N.W. sides are shown complete on the Enclosure Map.
b(18) House, of two storeys, is timber-framed and plastered,
with brick plinth and pantiled, formerly thatched, gabled
roof. At the E. end is a large brick stack of two weathered
stages with external plinth. A plaster panel inscribed '1736'
over the S. door may be accepted as date of construction. At
right angles on the W. is a 19th-century wing which may
have replaced some part of the earlier house. On the N.,
overlapping the two structures, is an external stair turret,
perhaps original but partly rebuilt in clunch. Inside, the E.
room has intersecting stop-chamfered beams.
The site may be that of the manor house of Knights.
Fig. 115 Swaffham Prior (14), Terrace
b(19) House, Class J, of two storeys and cellar, has clunch
and brick walls, and a tiled gabled roof; it is 17th-century and
later. The S. gable, rebuilt several times, has the lower part in
clunch, the centre section in pink brick, replacing clunch, and
the upper part in yellow brick, originally with a crow-stepped
gable but now increased in height to form a plain gableparapet; at first-floor level are two parallel platbands and a
ground-floor window of two lights with wooden diamond
mullion. Inside, the W. and centre rooms each have chamfered
axial beams and the E., at the service end, has a similar beam
morticed for a stud partition.
b(20) Almshouses, of one storey and attics, brick and
clunch walls and tiled gabled roof, was built in two stages,
the S.E. section being the earlier and 18th-century. The N.W.
section, in pink brick, is perhaps a rebuilding and extension in
the early 19th century. The building, now of four tenements
but formerly fewer, has an internal stack. The original
arrangement of rooms is unknown. Over a doorway in the
later section is a rectangular clunch slab, the inscription
b(21) The Hall (Fig. 116; Plate 92), of two storeys,
has walls of clunch and timber framing; the tiled roofs
are hipped or gabled. The building, approximating in
plan to Class D, incorporates a former open hall and
service end, probably of the 15th century, and a rebuilt
parlour wing of the early 16th century. The hall and
service end are timber-framed but the cross wing containing the parlour is of clunch throughout. Leading
off the cross wing, and apparently contemporary with
it, is a narrow range with the lower storey in clunch and
the upper in timber; no features survive as evidence of
its purpose, but in spite of its size and shape, it possibly
contained a closet with garderobe, and perhaps a stair.
The open hall subsequently received an upper floor and
against the screens passage at the W. end a chimney
stack was added. In the 18th century, a drawing room
was added on the N., and the front wall of the medieval
hall was heightened and new windows inserted; the
medieval parlour wing, which projects slightly beyond
Fig. 116 Swaffham Prior (21), The Hall
the side wings, thus became a central entrance hall.
Early in the 19th century timber-framed additions were
made at the rear including a turret, almost free-standing,
designed to house a water-closet which was fed by tanks.
The site is that of the manor house of Swaffham.
The front elevation on the E., has a central front doorway
with flanking sash windows grouped together and separated
only by pilasters; a common cornice rises as an open pediment
to enclose a dummy fanlight over the door. The flanking wings
have Palladian windows on the ground floor and three-light
sashes on the first floor. The part-octagonal two-storey bay
window on the N. has sashes in each face. Elsewhere there
are a number of iron-framed windows with leaded lights, in
Inside, the entrance hall occupies the E. part of the former
cross wing in which is an internal chimney stack; it has primary
axial and secondary intersecting cross beams each with rolland-hollow mouldings and leaf stops (Plate 79); the W. cross
beam, against the stack, is moulded on one side suggesting that
the stack is an original feature and contemporary with the
early 16th-century ceiling. In the service end is an axial beam
with stop-chamfers indicating the position of a former
partition between butteries and screens passage; at first-floor
level the partition survives. The roof of the two-bay medieval
hall is visible in part, on the W. The sawn-off ends of two tie
beams which have broach-stopped chamfers, and rebates to
take plank-infilling in the spandrels, remain, together with the
wall plate and some rafters; these timbers and the W. gable of
the hall are smoke-blackened. In the 18th-century drawing
room is a white marble fireplace with moulded and enriched
surround and frieze, but the central panel in relief is missing.
To the S. of the house is a single-storey Outbuilding with
clunch walls and brick dressings, timber-framed apices to the
gables, and tiled gabled roof, which has a gabled turret now
plastered, perhaps a dovecote of the 18th century (Plate 115).
b(22)Kent House, of two storeys, has brick walls of several
dates, and a slated gabled roof. It originated in the late 18th
century as a Class-T building, to which was added an
extension on the S. and wing on the E. in the early 19th
century. These alterations included the removal of the stairs
to the S. end room of the earlier house and the building of a
chimney stack in the new S. gable, so preserving a Class-T
b(23) Home Farm, of two storeys, timber-framed and
plastered, clunch and brick, with tiled gabled roofs, has a
16th-century origin although the plan of the house at that date
is uncertain. The main range, running approximately E. and
W., has at the E. end a brick-faced section, incorporating an
18th-century chimney stack, and an E. gable which may have
had a first-floor jetty. This section contains a moulded ceiling
beam and a roof consisting of a tie beam with curved braces
and an octagonal crown post, possibly indicating the survival
of a cross wing to a former 'hall' range. The W. part of the
main range is in clunch and has chamfered beams; it is probably
early 17th-century. On the N. is a small early 18th-century
wing with a chimney stack in the gable; inside, is a stop-chamfered axial beam. The main range was lengthened on the
W. in the 19th century. The house has a number of ironframed casements with leaded lights.
Barn, timber-framed and weather-boarded, with half-hipped
thatched roof, is perhaps 17th-century. It is aisled and of five
bays. The trusses have main posts with enlarged heads, braced
to tie beams, with collars and thin wind-braces above; the aisles
have two tiers of raking struts, parallel to the pitch, above and
below aisle-ties. Arcade plates, with bladed scarf joints, have
curved braces to the main posts. The gable-trusses have arcade
and central posts.
b(24) Ivy Farm, mostly of two storeys but partly with attics
and cellar, has walls of timber-framing, plastered or brickcased, and tiled gabled roofs. The house has four stages of
development: first, a 16th-century framed building of which
the N. cross wing survives; second, the replacement in the
17th century of the main range on the S., possibly with a cross
passage adjacent to the earlier cross wing; third, the brickcasing of the E. and S. sides of the main range and the
symmetrical rearrangement of the interior, late in the 17th
century; fourth, the reduction in the number of windows on
the E., early in the 18th century. The cross wing was brickcased in the 19th century.
The cross wing, with roof at lower level than the main
range, has a later, probably 17th-century, large external
chimney stack on the N. Between the two ranges is a
blocked doorway leading to the cross passage suggested
above. On the E. the central doorway is plain and is flanked
by single segmental windows with narrow mullions and
transoms, replacing the former narrower windows in five
bays. The eaves have a moulded wood cornice. The S. end,
incorporating a gable chimney stack flanked by four blocked
openings and separated by platbands, is late 17th-century.
Inside the cross wing are chamfered cross beams, and a roof
with cambered tie beam, heavy curved braces, wall posts with
enlarged heads, octagonal crown posts, collar purlin and
collars; the roof is now concealed. In the N. wall is a blocked
first-floor doorway with four-centred head, possibly leading
to a former garderobe annexe. Inside the main range, is a
central stair hall with stair having closed string, square newels
with ball-finials and turned balusters, possibly late 17th-century.
Pigeon house (Plate 115), W. of the house, is clunch-built with
brick quoins and has hipped tiled roof with gablets; perhaps
b(25) House, possibly Class G, of one storey and attics, was
originally timber-framed but three main walls were later
rebuilt in clunch; the gabled roof is tiled. It is probably 17th-century. Inside, the stack with a single flue is placed off-centre,
and the partition between the centre and end rooms has been
b(26) Cats Alley, a uniform early 19th-century development, consists of three separate buildings, one of three dwellings, and two of two dwellings. They have two storeys at the
front, and one storey with attics at the rear. The walls are of
clunch with brick dressings and the gabled roofs are slated.
Each dwelling has two rooms arranged in double depth.
Fig. 117 Swaffham Prior (30), The Cage
b(27) Manor Farm, of two storeys and cellars, has timber-framed walls, partly brick-cased, and some brick walls, with a
slated hipped roof. The S. half incorates a 17th-century
framed house but the original plan cannot be ascertained; it
retains an axial beam on each floor. In the 18th century the
house was extended to the N. with timber-framed side walls
and brick gable wall which includes a chimney; the W. wall
has chevron-patterned pargetting. Early in the 19th century, a
kitchen was added on the W., a stair hall made from the end
of the N. room, the 17th-century range heightened and the
whole re-roofed at a lower pitch; internally, new doorways
with reeded architraves were introduced together with a new
staircase. Later in the 19th century further additions were
made on the W.; bay windows were added to the main E.
front which, with the N. gable wall, was refronted in yellow
brick around 1860.
Barn, timber-framed and weather-boarded, with gabled roof,
formerly thatched, is aisled and of seven bays. A brace between
tie beam and post is inscribed 'RB 1767' which may be
accepted as the date of construction. The trusses have main
posts with enlarged heads braced to tie beam and to arcade
plate having tabled scarf joints; the aisles have sills and raking
struts parallel to the pitch; the main roof has double purlins,
the upper clasped by collars.
Moated Site (Class A1 (b)) consists of a rectangular area of 1¼
acres surrounding the house. The wide ditch, filled from a
spring in the S. corner, survives only as a slight hollow on the
S.E. where it has been destroyed by the garden, and the other
three sides, now 30 ft. wide and 8 ft. deep, have been recut
for modern drainage. Owing to the natural slope of the land
the interior had to be levelled by raising the N.W. end by
3 ft. The moat is shown complete on the Enclosure Map. It
may be identified as the site of the manor house of Shadworth.
b(28) Almshouses, of one storey, yellow and red brick,
thatched gabled roof, now metal-covered, comprise three units
each of Class-S plan; they were built in the 18th century. The
E. gable is parapeted and contains wall-anchors in the form of
letters 's' and 'p'.
b(29) Houses, pair of Class-T dwellings, of one storey and
attics, has variegated brick front wall and clunch back and
gable walls, pantiled gabled roof, and was built c. 1840.
b(30) The Cage (Fig. 117) consisting of a pound, lock-up and
fire-engine house, is of white brick with slated gabled roof; on
the parapeted gable are three stone crosses. It was built in 1830
in which year payment for iron fittings were made (C.R.O.,
P150/9/2). The fire-engine inscribed 'Bristow Fecit' and
'The gift of Mrs. Allix . . . 1791' survives. The lock-up has two
barrel-vaulted cells each with an oval iron-barred window
above an iron-studded door. The pound has clunch and brick
b(31) Windmill, of octagonal smock-mill form in four
stages, the lowest of which is of brick and the upper three of
stout timbering with vertical tongued-and-grooved boarding.
Internally the boarding is coated with lath and plaster. The cap
is missing. A mill was on this site after 1821 (Baker's Map)
and before 1836 (O.S. map) but the present mill is said to
have been built between 1875 and 1880 (Newcomen Soc.,
Trans. XVII (1949–51),103).
b(32) Windmill (Plate 116), round tower-mill in three storeys
with revolving cap, is built of clunch with a facing of brick.
It stands on a low mound. The boarded cap is covered with
small rectangular sheets of metal. The machinery of wood and
iron remains, including two pairs of mill-stones on the first
floor. The mill was probably built c. 1860 (C.A.S., Procs.
XXXI (1931), 28; Newcomen Soc., Trans. XVII (1949–51),
The adjacent miller's house, Class U, of two storeys, is built
of white brick and has slated roof and sash windows;
probably c. 1850.
d(33) Bunbury Farm (TL 602622), consists of house and
farm buildings erected between enclosure in c. 1810 and 1836
(O.S. map). The House, Class T, of one storey and attics, has
red and yellow brick walls with tiled gabled roof. The Farm
Buildings include a barn of clunch with white brick dressings;
the three-bay half-hipped roof is slated. The entrance has a
b(34) Partridge Hall Farm (TL 585623), consists of a pair of
dwellings for labourers, and farm buildings established
between enclosure in c. 1810 and 1836 (O.S. map). The
Houses of one storey and attics with red brick walls and half-hipped tiled roofs, are much altered. The Farm Buildings are
placed on two sides of a yard otherwise enclosed by clunch
walls. The clunch-built barn with slated half-hipped roof in
six bays has opposing entrances, one with a lean-to porch
and end compartments with a lean-to roof. In the S.W. gable
is a clunch slab inscribed 'MA 1849'. The stables, earlier than
the barn, have walls of clunch and brick with slated gabled
b(35) Vicarage Farm (TL 583629), consists of a pair of
dwellings for labourers, and farm buildings. The Houses may
belong to a farmstead established by Rev. G. L. Jenyns during
enclosure in c. 1810. They are single-storey with attics, brick
gable walls and timber-framed side walls but have been much
altered. The Farm Buildings, erected in 1844, are grouped round
three sides of a yard which is closed on the S.E. by the houses.
Two similar confronting barns are clunch-built with slated
gabled roofs and end compartments with lean-to roofs
(Plate 114). A clunch tablet inscribed 'G. Jenyns 1844' is in one
gable. On the N.W. of the yard is a rebuilt range formerly a
stable (C.R.O., sale catalogue).
b(36) Cadenham Farm (TL 574629), consisting of a labourer's
dwelling and farm buildings, was constructed c. 1840. The
House, of one storey with white brick walls, gabled slated roof
and sliding sashes, has three rooms and an end chimney stack.
The Farm Buildings, grouped on three sides of a yard,
include a centrally-placed barn. It is built of clunch with brick
dressings and has a pantiled gabled roof; it has three-bay
tie-beam roof with struts; early 19th-century.
a(37) Harrison's Farm (TL 53446941), includes a Class-T
house of one storey and attics, with a rear wall of weather-boarded timber-framing and remaining walls of brick, mansard roof covered with pantiles and slates. It was built c. 1810
by Thomas Harrison (Enclosure Map).
b(38), b(39), b(40), b(41) Houses, Class I, of two storeys, or
one and attics, with timber-framed or clunch walls, tiled or
slated gabled roofs, are early 19th-century. (39), perhaps late
18th-century, has half-hipped roof and formerly two shallow
bay windows, one only surviving.
b(42), b(43), b(44), b(45), b(46), b(47) Houses, Class J, of one,
one and attics, or two storeys, with timber-framed or clunch
walls, tiled or slated gabled roofs, are late 18th- or early 19th-century. (46) has an end room removed and may be 18th-century.
b(48), b(49), b(50), b(51), b(52) Houses, Class S, of two
storeys, or one and attics, with timber-framed or clunch walls,
tiled gabled roofs, are early 19th-century. (51) is a pair of
Class-S dwellings. (52) has a central door and stair between
two rooms (Plate III).
b(53), b(54), b(55), b(56), b(57), b(58), b(59) Houses, Class T,
of two storeys, or one and attics, with clunch or brick walls,
tiled gabled roofs, are early 19th-century. (57) has timber-framed rear wall and coeval brick front and gable walls.
Prehistoric and Roman
ab(60) Prehistoric occupation site (centred TL 561650), on
the fen edge, on lower chalk, between 12 ft. and 15 ft. above
O.D., I mile N.W. of the church. Quantities of flint imple
ments have been found over an area of 50 acres and include
evidence of a blade industry, probably of Mesolithic date;
finds include blades, cores, blade-scrapers and burins, as well
as many waste flakes. A number of flint and stone axes of
Neolithic type, flint arrowheads and awls have also been
found. Some of the many implements in the C.M., provenanced only as from the parish, probably came from this site.
(C.M. and private owners; V.C.H. Cambs. I, 261; C.A.S.
Procs. XXXII (1932), 17–23; C.B.A. Group VII, Bulletin No. I
(1954) and No. 7 (1962))
b(61) Barrow (TL 57626235), lay immediately N.E. of
Middle Hill Plantation, on chalk, at 110 ft. above O.D. The
site was discovered and excavated by C. P. Allix in 1902, who
found a circular ditch 68 ft. in diameter and 2 ft.–3 ft. deep.
The ditch contained a contracted female inhumation, part of a
child's skeleton, flint scrapers, hammerstones, one partly
perforated, charcoal and many animal bones. Fragments of
some biconical urns, one with an applied horseshoe loop and
another with finger impressed decoration on the shoulder,
were also found. The site, once described as a settlement, is
almost certainly a barrow. (C.M.; Fox, A.C.R., 47–8; V.C.H.
Cambs. I, 282)
b(62) Ring ditch (TL 58746151), 400 yds. N.E. of New
England Farm, on chalk, at 115 ft. above O.D. Diam. 70 ft.,
b(63) Ring Ditch (TL 59906303), immediately S.W. of the
Devil's Dyke and N.E. of the racecourse, on chalk at 80 ft.
above O.D. Diam. 55 ft., ploughed out. (Commercial air
photographs in N.M.R.)
b(64) Ring Ditch (TL 58186455), immediately S.W. of the
Devil's Dyke on the crest of a low chalk ridge at 100 ft. above
O.D. Well-marked circular ditch 10 ft. wide visible in
ploughed land. Diam. 55 ft. with area of chalk rubble 20 ft.
in diameter in the centre.
Since investigation was completed, air photographs (in
N.M.R.) have revealed the following additional ring ditches
in the parish:
b(64A) Ring Ditch (TL 58076362), 300 yds. N.N.E. of Bye's
Farm on chalk, in the bottom of a broad shallow valley at
70 ft. above O.D. Diam. 90 ft., ploughed out.
b(64B) Ring Ditch (TL 57906369), 200 yds. N.W. of above, in
a similar position. Diam. 60 ft., ploughed out.
b(65) Roman Settlement (TL 56196376), 200 yds. W.S.W.
of Swaffham Prior House, close to the fen edge, on chalk, at
20 ft. above O.D. Large quantities of Roman pottery were
found here in the early years of this century, much of which
appears to have been Horningsea ware. This and the following
sites (66–69) probably represent a line of settlement along the
fen edge. (O.S. Record Cards)
b(66) Roman Settlement (TL 56376396), 120 yds. N. of
Swaffham Prior House in a similar situation to (65). Large
quantities of Roman pottery, mainly Horningsea ware, were
found early in this century. (O.S. Record Cards)
b(67) Roman Settlement (TL 56546412), N.E. of Manor
Farm, in a similar situation to (65). Quantities of Roman
pottery found here in 1952. (C.M. Records)
b(68) Roman Settlement (TL 56956448), immediately S.W.
of Moat (72) in a similar situation to (65). Large quantities of
Roman pottery including Horningsea ware and colourcoated wares of Nene Valley type were found here in 1969.
Immediately to the S.W., pottery and other objects including
box tiles and a bronze penannular brooch have been found in
b(69) Roman Settlement (TL 57106491), lies at the extreme
N. of the village on chalk marl at 20 ft. above O.D. Large
quantities of Roman pottery, mainly of Horningsea type, roof
tiles, plaster, and animal bones have been found after deep
For Swaffham Prior Roman Villa, see Reach (30).
Medieval and later
b(70) Moat (Class A2(a); TL 56656418), lies 300 yds. N.N.W.
of St. Mary's Church, on the edge of the fen, on lower chalk
at 25 ft. above O.D. It consists of two conjoined square enclosures, with sides 100 ft. long, orientated N.E.-S.W., and
bounded by narrow ditches, now dry, 12 ft.–15 ft. wide and
2 ft. deep. There are slight traces of low internal banks, but the
rest of the interiors are flat and featureless. The N.E. side and
E. corner of the N.E. enclosure have been largely destroyed by
tree mounds and a later building. Nothing is known of its
history. (V.C.H. Cambs. II, 41, in which the N.E. enclosure is
b(71) Moat (Class AI(b); TL 56726432), lies immediately
N.W. of The Hall, on lower chalk at 20 ft. above O.D. on
the edge of the fens. It originally consisted of an almost square
enclosure, covering 4 acres, bounded by a wet ditch. Only the
ditch on the S.E. side now remains intact, 500 ft. long, 30 ft.
wide and up to 4 ft. deep. A fragment of the N.E. side remains
near the E. corner, the S.W. side has been altered by the construction of a later drain and the N.W. side has been
obliterated. The interior slopes N.W. and has been ploughed.
Nothing is known of its history and the site was already in its
present condition by the early 19th century. (C.R.O., Enclosure
Map; V.C.H. Cambs. II, 41)
b(72) Moat (Class A4; TL 56966449), lay 200 yds. S.W. of
Manor Farm (27) on lower chalk at 20 ft. above O.D., on the
fen edge. The site has been completely destroyed. O.S. maps
and local information show that it consisted of a ditch, 345 ft.
long and 35 ft. wide orientated N.W.—S.E., which turned
S.W. at both ends, thus forming a three-sided enclosure. It
is clear that there never was a fourth side (cf. R.C.H.M.
Cambs. I, Gamlingay (59) and (60)). Nothing is known of its
history. A small quantity of medieval pottery, including some
12th-century St. Neots ware, has been found on the site.
(V.C.H. Cambs. II, 41)
For Moats at Baldwin Manor, see (5); at Goodwin Manor
Farm, see (17); at Manor Farm, see (27).
b(73) Earthworks (TL 56526399) immediately N.E. of
Baldwin Manor (5) consist of raised flat rectangular platforms
up to 40 ft. long, 20 ft. wide and 3 ft. high. The remains are
certainly those of former buildings, of which only one remained by the early 19th century (C.R.O., Enclosure Map).
a(74) Reach Lode (Plate 7) is an artificial navigable watercourse three miles long, between Reach village (TL 565664) and
the River Cam at Upware (TL 537699). It is certainly recorded
in 1279 (Reaney, 'Place-names of Cambs.', 136) and may
perhaps be identified as the fovea de Reche referred to in 1097
(V.C.H. Cambs. II, 384; Lib. Elien., 233). The relationship of
the Lode to the adjacent Devil's Dyke indicates that the Lode
is earlier than the Dyke and is therefore likely to be Roman
in date (see p. 129 and Fox, A.C.R., 180).
The present appearance of the Lode is the result of a long and
complex history of alteration and recutting, mainly from the
17th century onwards. Up to the mid 17th century the alignment of the Lode was approximately as it now is except at the
N.W. end where it swung N. of the present Lode to follow
the parish boundary between Swaffham Prior, Burwell and
Wicken. Probably in the early 1650s a straight new Lode was
cut by the Bedford Level Commissioners from Reach to
Upware, S.W. of the older Lode, on the line of the present
Engine Drain and its continuation to the S.W. (TL 5645664553786975; see (79)). This work was carried out to improve
both navigation and drainage (C.R.O., Moore's Map of the
Fens, 1663; C.A.S. Procs. XXXIII (1933), 113–14).
Routine payments for the scouring of the Lode by the Bedford Level Commissioners are recorded throughout the 18th
century (e.g. C.R.O., R59/31/10/4; R59/31/10/19 etc.). In
1766 the responsibility for drainage of the fenland S.W. of the
Lode passed to the Swaffham and Bottisham Drainage Commissioners. In 1767 the Commissioners abandoned the Lode
then existing and recut the original Lode on its present alignment. A large bank, called the 'Division Bank', then 12 ft.
wide and 4 ft. high, was erected along the S.W. side of the Lode
to protect the Swaffham fens from flooding from the Lode and
the adjacent Burwell fens (C.R.O., R59/31/10/29; Swaffham
I.D.B. Minutes, 22 July–11 November, 1767).
Both the Bedford Level Commissioners and the Swaffham
and Bottisham Drainage Commissioners continued to spend
large sums of money on heightening the banks on either side
of the Lode throughout the late 18th and the 19th century as
the level of the fen sank owing to drainage.
The present Lode consists of a wide watercourse which
starts at the N.W. end of the Hythe at Reach village (see
Reach (31)) and runs for about two miles in a N.W. direction
until it is joined by Burwell Lode approaching from the E.
(at TL 54746930). This section is almost straight except for a
series of gentle curves near the S.E. end. At its junction with
Burwell Lode, it turns sharply through 25 degrees and runs
W.N.W. for ¾ mile on a straight line. The Lode is not fed by a
major upland stream, but by two catch-water drains which
skirt the fen edge N.E. and S.E. of Reach village. The Lode is
30 ft. wide at its S.E. end, gradually widening to 40 ft. at its
junction with Burwell Lode. Thereafter it gradually widens
to 50 ft. at Upware. It is bounded on both sides by banks up
to 30 ft. wide. These increase in height from 4 ft. at the S.E.
end to 12 ft. near the centre, where the Lode is crossing the
open fen, and then fall to 6 ft. at Upware. Towards its S.E.
end are a series of large rectangular ponds (in Reach parish),
three on the N.E. side (TL 56046730–56206705) and one on the
S.W. side (TL 56216681); it is said that the Lode banks were
strengthened by clay from these ponds.
Fig. 118 Swaffham Prior (75), Fen Drainage
Fig. 119 Swaffham Prior (76), Site of Windpump
abc(75) Fen drainage (Fig. 115). The earliest indication of
drainage work in the parish is a straight cut which is unrelated
to later drains; it is presumably pre-17th century. It appears on
air photographs (in N.M.R.) extending from the fen edge, 230
yds. N.W. of Manor Farm (TL 57016480), in a N.W. direction
for about a mile to a point 300 yds. N. of Adventurers' Ground
Fen (TL 55626512); near its N.W. end (TL 55856608) it cuts
across an earlier watercourse, now visible as a rodden, and at its
furthest point it appears to join another rodden. The drain
survives as an earthwork (12–15 ft. wide, 1½–2 ft. deep) where
it crosses Driest Droveway (TL 56146600), and at its S.W. end
where it remains in an old pasture field. Air photographs and
crop marks show that a number of minor drains, now filled in,
fed the main watercourse at right angles.
The first datable remains of drainage belong to the mid
17th century. In 1637 an area of 585 acres (centred TL 546687) in
the N. of the parish was granted in three allotments to the
Adventurers, following earlier attempts at drainage (C.R.O.,
R59/31/9/1A). Work was probably started in 1651 and completed in 1665–6 (C.R.O., R59/31/9/5 and 6) by which time
Reach Lode had been realigned and new drains cut across the
Adventurers' Lands; drainage of the area discharged into the
Lode or flowed through an old watercourse known as Head
Lake, which was widened and strengthened. Other drainage
works of the 17th century included the strengthening of the
upper or S.W. part of the Head Lake Stream in order to drain
the S. part of the Adventurers' Lands in Swaffham Bulbeck,
and the cutting of a new drain, known as White Lake Stream,
which affected the N. part of the Lands, in Swaffham Bulbeck,
and other areas in Lode; the latter cut, now destroyed, met the
Head Lake Stream at TL 54656763. From 1660 to 1800 the
remaining fenland was enclosed and drained, notably Driest
Fen (centred TL 560650) between 1669 and 1702, and Little
Fen (centred TL 550660) by 1680 (Reaney, 'Place-names of
Cambs.', 137; C.R.O., R59/31/9/10; C.R.O., Swaffham Prior
Court Book 1674–1688). The pattern of the present fields in
these areas suggests two separate phases of enclosure although
drainage was by way of a single watercourse flowing N.W.
to the Head Lake Stream; fenland N.W. of Reach village
(centred TL 555670) was probably enclosed and drained by
1710 (Norfolk R.O., Consistory Court Wills, 385), but some
of the land near the River Cam (centred TL 533676) had been
drained by 1682 (C.U.L., Ely Church Commissioners' records,
1682). Between 1661 and 1735 there is evidence of farmsteads
being established along the edge of the River Cam (C.R.O.,
Swaffham Prior Court Books).
In 1767 responsibility for drainage passed to the Swaffham
and Bottisham Drainage Commissioners who carried out a
number of alterations, principally the recutting of Reach Lode
(74) on its original alignment. The N.W. half of the former
course of this Lode, before this recutting, was retained as a
drain from the Head Lake Stream to a new windpump at
Upware (77–79). Some of the land in the N.W. part of the
parish was drained by the natural flow of watercourses which
were carried through tunnels in the wash banks of the river.
Work on this had started by 1762, and was continued in 1795
(C.R.O., R59/31/10/27 and 37), but owing to shrinkage of peat
in the fens, the Swaffham Drainage Commissioners found
it necessary in 1800 to construct another windpump (76)
adjacent to the river. The two windpumps operated
effectively until 1821, when the Steam Engine (77) was built
at Upware, and continued thereafter to drain smaller areas in
the vicinity; the Upware windpump was removed in 1830
and the second pump in 1850, when the new Steam Engine
(78) was erected. The Engine Drain (79) cut for the Steam
Engine and utilized by the new Engine (78) traversed the parish
and replaced the Head Lake Stream which was then practically
The stages of enclosure and drainage of the Swaffham Prior
Fens are traceable on the ground despite minor changes. The
limits of the Adventurers' Lands are visible and the wash-bank
tunnels, now redundant, survive (TL 52746807, 53026830 and
a(76) Site of Windpump (TL 52986807), 430 yds. N.E. of
Commissioners' Farm and below the wash bank of the River
Cam, consists of a low mound, 20 ft. diam. and 2 ft. high,
within a semicircular outer drainage ditch of 50 ft. radius (Fig.
119). Modern and disused drains approach the site from the
N.E., S.W. and S.E.; beyond the wash bank, to the N.W.,
a ditch running into the river is traceable. The mound is the
site of a windpump built in 1800 at a cost of about £1000 by
the Swaffham Drainage Commission to improve the drainage
of Swaffham Fen (C.R.O., Swaffham I.D.B. Minutes, Nov.
1786, May 1800–May 1801). It was known as Swaffham Upper
Mill. Having been frequently repaired it was sold in 1844; the
scoop wheel was refitted to Horningsea Mill (Lode (36)) (ibid.,
(77–79) Steam-engine pumps and Engine drain. Drainage
in the N. corner of the parish has undergone a complicated
development (Fig. 120). Until the early 18th century
drainage was by gravity into Reach Lode and thence to the
River Cam, but in 1719 a 'new mill', presumably a windpump,
was built near the end of the Lode to drain most of the N.E.
part of the fen (C.R.O., R59/31/10/13). In 1768 the Swaffham
and Bottisham Drainage Commissioners replaced this windpump by another (C.R.O., Swaffham I.D.B. Minutes, July
1767-November 1768; Map of Swaffham Fen, 1800). At the
same time Reach Lode was recut along its pre-1650 course and
the abandoned channel used as the main drain for the new
windpump. In 1821 the Commissioners erected the Steam
Engine and pump (77) near the windpump and altered the
main drain to connect with it; this drain was extended across
the fen as the main Engine or Commissioners' Drain. The
windpump remained working until 1830, when it was re-erected in Bottisham Fen (see Lode (36)). The steam-engine
pump proved inadequate owing to its small horsepower and
the progressive lowering of the fen surface caused by pumping;
in 1850 it was replaced by a larger Steam Engine (78), which
was built on the site of the windpump, and the old drain was
recut to serve as the new Engine Drain. The engine of 1850
successfully drained the fen S.W. of Reach Lode until 1939,
when it was superseded by diesel pumps which were supplemented in 1957 by an electric pump.
a(77) Site of Steam-engine pump (TL 53726963), 30 yds.
S.W. of present pumping station, below wash bank of River
Cam, consists of an area 34 ft. square bounded on the N.E.
and S.E. by banks 6 ft. wide and 1 ft. high with ditches on the
outside, on the N.W. by a 1½ ft.-high scarp and on the S.W.
by the modern road; the banks and scarp mark the walls of
the boiler and engine house, and the N.E. ditch is the former
scoop-wheel channel. The S.E. ditch is modern. Scattered over
the site are fragments of slate and early 19th-century white
brick. The outfall ditch is traceable in The Washes (Plate 10).
The engine, designed and built by Boulton and Watt of
Birmingham, was installed in 1821 at a total cost of about
£6000; the elder John Rennie acted as engineer in charge. The
structure containing the engine house and boiler room was of
brick with slated roof and measured 34 ft. square (R. L. Hills,
Machines, Mills and Uncountable Costly Necessities (1967), 84,
156–7). The scoop wheel was initially left uncovered for the
sake of economy (C.R.O., Swaffham I.D.B. Minutes, 1819–
1821). Records of this engine are contradictory: Hills (op. cit.
157) describes it as a rotative beam engine of 24 horsepower
with 26½ ins. by 60 ins. cylinders and operating at a speed of
21½ r.p.m.; Joseph Glynn (C.R.O., op. cit. July 1832) gives
the horsepower as 30, the cylinder size as 30 ins. by 60 ins.
and the speed as 24 r.p.m. The scoop wheel was 26 ft. diam.
according to Hills and 27 ft. 10 ins. according to Glynn.
Subsequent alterations included covering of the scoop wheel
late in 1821, the addition of a second boiler in 1830, lowering
the scoop wheel by 1½ ft. in 1832, and increasing the diameter
to 29 ft. and lowering it by 1⅓ ft. in 1842 (C.R.O., op. cit.,
Dec. 1821, Sept. 1830, July 1832, March 1842). It was dismantled in 1850 (Fig. 12a).
a(78) Site of Steam-engine pump (TL 53796975), is incorporated in present pumping station. The building (Plate 9)
which contained engine house, boiler room and scoop wheel
was of white brick, with slate roof. The boiler room, 38 ft.
by 50 ft., formerly had three boilers; the walls had large brick
panels, three lunettes on the S.E. and parapets. The tripleridged roof was supported on cast-iron columns. The taller
engine house with chimney had similar panelled walls. The
structure was built in 1849–50 using local bricks probably from
the kilns in Horningsea (see Horningsea (36)). It was partly
demolished in 1939 and finally in 1969 (Fig. 12b).
The engine, a rotative beam engine of 70 horsepower, was
built in 1850 by Daglish of St. Helens for £8740 including the
buildings (Swaffham I.D.B. Minutes, 1848–52; R. L. Hills,
op. cit., photographs on p. 85, wrongly described as the
Boulton and Watt engine, see (77)). In 1936, after many alterations, it was described as having 42 ins. by 84 ins. cylinders,
operating at 15 r.p.m. Its scoop wheel was then 36 ft. diam.
with 48 paddles 5 ft. 9 ins. long (R. H. Clarke, English
Mechanics, XXI (1936), 148).
ac(79) Engine or commissioners' drain (TL 5161632453776975), runs for a distance of 5 miles across the Bottisham
and Swaffham Fens in two straight alignments, widening as
water is drawn to it from the fens (Plates 8, 9). Starting near
Fen Head on the parish boundary of Lode and Stow cum Quy
(TL 51616324), it takes a straight course for 3½ miles to Swaffham
Prior Fen (TL 55186802) passing under Bottisham and Swaffham Lodes, and turns N.W. to reach the pumping station at
TL 53776975 in an almost straight line 1½ miles long. Although
converted to an Engine Drain in 1821, the N.E. section was
cut in the mid 17th century as part of the new Reach Lode
(see (74)); when the present Lode was cut in 1768, it became
the main drain to the windpump erected at its N.W. end at
that date. In 1820, on the recommendation of John Rennie, the
S.W. section (shown as Engine Drain on Fig. 10) connecting
to the old windpump drain, was cut. The windpump drain
was widened and its N.E. end altered by the addition of a new
cut which joined the steam-engine pump situated 130 yds. to
the S.W.; the junction of these drains survives as a bend in the
present watercourse. Work was completed in 1821 (C.R.O.,
Swaffham I.D.B. Minutes, 1819–22). In 1850 the installation
of a new steam-engine pump (78) necessitated the cutting of a
new drain which ran parallel to the windpump drain; the
drain to the engine of 1821 was abandoned but its line is
traceable as a depression. The drain has been widened and
deepened many times.
Fig. 120 Swaffham Prior (77–79) and Burwell (139)
Steam-engine pumps and Engine Drains
b(80) Quarries, in Swaffham Prior village, remain behind
many of the existing houses on both sides of the High Street
and Cage Hill, cut into the rising ground. They vary in size
from 2–3 acres to a few square yards, but all are within existing house plots. They probably represent small-scale clunch
quarrying of medieval and later periods for local use. There is
no indication of large-scale quarrying.
b(81) Cultivation remains. There were three large
common fields, stretching S.E. from the village, before
enclosure in 1814. Of these only one large earthen ridge, a
former headland, remains: 500 yds. S.W. of Vicarage Farm
(TL 57586292–58306229), 860 yds. long, 30 yds. wide and 1 ft.
high. It is slightly curved and orientated N.W.-S.E. (C.R.O.,
Enclosure Map and Award; see also Reach (39)).
For Devil's Dyke see p. 139.
b(82) Burials (TL 57206415), found on Greenshead Hill,
E. of village, during pipe laying in 1966. Six skeletons were
recovered, apparently without associated finds. (C.M. records)
b(83) Long mound (TL 59036202) lies 380 yds. N.W. of
Beacon Farm on a low chalk rise at 110 ft. above O.D. It
has been heavily ploughed and almost completely destroyed.
The low mound is 150 ft. long and 40 ft. wide but is only
9 ins.-1 ft. high. It is orientated almost E.N.E.-W.S.W. and is
surrounded by a shallow ditch now 25 ft. wide and up to 9 ins.
deep. (Air photographs in N.M.R.)
b(84) Linear ditches (TL 57686460–58456352), visible only
on air photographs, consist of two narrow parallel ditches 25
yds. apart, running in a N.W.-S.E. direction about half-way
between the Devil's Dyke and Swaffham Field Road, but
parallel to neither. They first become visible S.E. of the
Swaffham Prior-Burwell road (TL 57686460) and are traceable
fot 600 yds. in a S.E. direction (to TL 58006416). After 500
yds. they reappear (at TL 58236379) and may be traced for a
further 400 yds. (to TL 58456352) after which they disappear.
Their date and purpose are unknown, but they may be
associated with the Devil's Dyke, or be the remains of part of a
headland in the common fields. (Air photographs in N.M.R.)
b(85) Soil mark (TL 57856402), 700 yds. N. of Bye's Farm
on a slight S.-facing chalk slope at 80 ft. above O.D. Air
photographs show an elongated C-shaped feature defined by
a narrow ditch, open at the N.E. end. (Air photographs in