A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In the 11th century it was believed that Felix, first bishop of the East Angles (d. c. 647), had founded at Soham, probably then within their kingdom, a monastery to which his body was eventually translated from the see of Dunwich. That monastery was allegedly destroyed by the Danes. (fn. 1) Felix's supposed relics, however, remained at Soham, perhaps enshrined in a late Saxon minster church serving the surrounding area, until Aethelric, bishop of Dorchester 1016-34, once a monk at Ramsey, obtained King Cnut's leave for that abbey to remove them to its church. In 1026 its abbot, Athelstan, came by boat to take them from the allegedly ruined church at Soham, evading on the return journey an intercepting boat party sent out by the monks of Ely. Ramsey kept the relics thenceforth. (fn. 2)
The church of Soham presumably belonged to the royal demesne manor throughout the 12th century until Richard I in 1189 gave both the parish church and Barway chapel in free alms to the Poitevin Cistercian abbey of Le Pin (Vienne), whose abbot was his almoner. King John confirmed that grant, adding the tithes of Henney, in 1199. (fn. 3) Probably in 1189 the bishop of Norwich approved the appropriation of Soham to Le Pin, and the establishment of a vicarage, (fn. 4) although the actual appropriation may have been delayed. (fn. 5) As late as 1303 a son of a former rector, perhaps the last, released to Le Pin a rent from rectory freehold. (fn. 6) A vicarage was established by 1244, (fn. 7) and the abbey took possession of a substantial rectorial estate, taxed, 1254-91, on 50-60 marks, (fn. 8) and subsequently considered into the 19th century as a manor. (fn. 9) In 1279, besides arable reckoned as 180 a., probably recently augmented by Le Pin's buying in land held freely of its manor, including c. 22 a. and several messuages, it still also comprised lordship over 7 a. of freehold and 8 a. of villein land. (fn. 10) Le Pin arranged in 1285 to cede its Soham estate, including the patronage of the vicarage, to its fellow-Cistercian abbey of Rewley (Regalis locus) (Oxon.) for an annual render of 43 marks. (fn. 11) During the wars with France in the 14th century and later, payment of the render due from Rewley was exacted by the Crown, 1324-8, (fn. 12) and again continuously after 1337, except c. 1362-9. An attempt by Rewley to evade such payment in the 1370s, because Le Pin lay within Prince Edward's duchy of Aquitaine, was overruled. (fn. 13) In 1384 the Crown also named to Rewley the clerk whom it was to present as vicar. (fn. 14) The 43 marks were paid to the Crown or its grantees until the last of them, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, died in 1447. That rent then passed, under a grant of its reversion made by Henry VI in 1440, to Pembroke College, Cambridge, (fn. 15) to which Rewley abbey conceded in 1451 actual possession, confirmed by the bishop of Norwich in 1452, of the rectorial estate and advowson of the vicarage. (fn. 16)
The rectorial glebe, which included 162 a. of arable and 32 a. of grass in 1340, (fn. 17) comprised as received by the college in the 1450s 114 a., partly pasture, in Soham's southern open fields and the adjoining several closes, but only 42 a. in the northern fields. (fn. 18) Much land, including almost all the northern fieldland, was lost to local encroachments in the 16th century, 28 a. passing by an arbitration of 1565 to Edward Barnes. (fn. 19) By the 1630s the college had only 93 a. of glebe arable and 7 a. of pasture (local measure), mostly south of the village. (fn. 20) From the early 17th century to the early 19th the rectorial glebe and tithes were let on beneficial terms, for rents partly in corn, usually to lords of Soham manors or after 1778 to local farmers. (fn. 21) From 1669 to 1703, however, the lease was held by kin of Benjamin Laney, master of Pembroke 1630-43, 1660-2, and bishop of Ely 1667-75. (fn. 22) The head lessees usually, both in the late 16th century and the late 17th, sublet glebe and tithes to local farmers. (fn. 23)
Pembroke's right to choose the vicars was occasionally challenged in the 16th century. In 1502 it proved that it had presented at the last vacancy in 1478. (fn. 24) In the 1540s the bishop of Norwich claimed to nominate whom the college was to present, and sold a turn in 1542. When, however, Pembroke in 1547 presented its Protestant master, the later martyr Nicholas Ridley, heavy pressure from leading privy councillors, including Sir William Paget, obliged the bishop to abandon his claim. (fn. 25) In 1661 the king sought to present Robert Grimer, the expelled royalist curate of Wicken. (fn. 26) Pembroke still possessed the advowson of the vicarage, which it regularly reserved from 1529 when leasing the rectory, (fn. 27) in the late 20th century. (fn. 28) Often from the late 15th century, (fn. 29) and almost invariably from the mid 16th to the early 19th it presented former fellows of the college, (fn. 30) and into the late 20th still chose former Pembroke men. (fn. 31)
Masters and fellows who came to inspect their Soham property, staying at the rectorial 'mansion house', (fn. 32) were also, at least in the 16th century, expected to preach in the church. (fn. 33) That house presumably stood from the 13th century (fn. 34) in a 1 1/4-a. close just south of the church, which Pembroke owned until the 20th century. (fn. 35) The tithe barn, 150 ft. long and 30 ft. wide, end-on to the high street, was demolished, being redundant after the recent tithe commutation, in 1852. (fn. 36)
About 1189 the bishop intended that the vicar, who was to live in the 'church houses', besides enjoying the small tithes and offerings, should receive 10 marks yearly from the parsonage manor assize rents. (fn. 37) That allocation was gradually altered. About 1305 a vicar was in dispute with Rewley abbey over his claim to receive tithe from some crofts and meadows. (fn. 38) Later the vicar had no land, save for the site of his vicarage house, until 1664, when to furnish grazing for his horses he was allotted 4 a. of Soham Moor, north-east of Brook Street. (fn. 39) Instead he was entitled to the profitable small tithes of a largely pastoral parish, yielding an income taxed in 1254 and 1291 as 25 marks, about half that of the rectory. (fn. 40) About 1340, although Rewley apparently received the tithes of hay and of the mills, the vicar, besides offerings and tithes from 'curtilages' and labourers, had those of milk and calves, and probably the income from Barway chapel: that share alone was worth £8 10s. (fn. 41) The vicar's income, taxed in 1535 at £32 16s. 4d., (fn. 42) came in 1552-3 to c. £42 gross, largely from tithes on cattle, taken like most others by composition in cash at standard, probably traditional, rates, which were increased by up to fivefold by 1700. In 1552 householders and their wives moreover paid him yearly offerings at 4d. a head, servants in husbandry a round £1, and a few craftsmen small sums pro arte sua (for their craft). (fn. 43)
By the 17th century at latest local custom had established an unusual division of the tithes. The rectorial impropriator was entitled to all tithes, great and small, arising from both the open fields and the severals, partly pasture, just north of them, also from certain long-inclosed land curving along the north-eastern edge of Soham Mere. In 1814 the area so titheable comprised 1,152 a. of open fields and 783 a., partly grassland, of inclosures (statute measure). The vicar could take all manner of tithe, including that of cropped land, both from the extensive crofts around the village and from almost all the rest of the parish, including the area around Barway and the 'lakes' used for fishing. The Mere rendered, however, only a traditional modus of one mark, nominally for its fishing, to the rectory. That division secured to the vicar the tithe of all beasts fed on Soham's wide fenland. When those fens came to be drained and cultivated from the 1660s, he would also become entitled to tithe all crops grown on them. (fn. 44) In 1669 Pembroke College directed its new rectorial lessee not to hinder the vicars taking all great tithes from the fen, a requirement still in force in 1827, when its lessee had to leave for the vicar all tithes from the 'homesteads', 'hemplands', and fen dolvers. (fn. 45) Although 18thcentury rectory lessees occasionally questioned that abnormal arrangement as potentially illegal, it was never reversed (fn. 46) and was considered the accepted custom by the 1830s. (fn. 47) The vicar had been defeated, however, when in 1691-2 he claimed tithe from those farmers who grew crops on the recently drained Mere. At two successive trials Cambridgeshire juries upheld the ancient modus as being the only render due for tithe from the Mere. (fn. 48)
The vicar's income, though only reckoned as £50 in 1633, was supposedly £100 in 1650 (fn. 49) and had increased to £250 by the 1780s. (fn. 50) In the late 1790s he received c. £750, partly from the traditional Easter offerings by household and the tithe of homesteads and beasts, but mainly from large sums assessed in cash according to acreage from both pasture and cultivated land in the fen. The tithe-payers protested in 1802 against an 'unprecedented' increase upon the ancient compositions. (fn. 51) By 1830 the vicar's income from tithe taken by composition had reached c. £1,300, besides £50 from other sources. With over 200 tithe-payers collection in kind was too expensive. A new vicar, who had by 1832-3 raised the composition to £1,800, yielding £1,570 net, hoped to drive it higher still as cultivation spread. (fn. 52) The tithe-payers were shortly ready to accept his proposal to commute the tithes. Under an agreement reached in 1837, but not officially confirmed until 1845, the impropriators and their lessee, John Dobede (III), were assigned £700 yearly for the tithe of the 1,822 a., including 364 a. of pasture, which paid them tithe. The vicar received £1,655 a year for the tithe of his estimated 1,950 a. of 'highland' old inclosures and 6,500 a. of fen, a third of both areas being reckoned as arable. His share amounted to four fifths of the titheable land in Soham, including double the arable tithing to the rectory. The tithe award recognized the traditional exemption of 1,317 a. in the Mere, while the 300-a. Poors' Commons and the 100-a. Horse Commons were also treated as tithe-free, as was, by prescription, the 10-a. Whitbys close west of Bancroft field. (fn. 53) The vicar's income, totalling £1,687 in 1851, (fn. 54) fell to £1,400-500 net by the 1870s, declining after 1880, by a third by 1900, but recovered, without augmentation, from the 1910s. (fn. 55)
The vicar's dwelling presumably stood by 1500, (fn. 56) as in the 18th and 19th centuries, in a 1 1/2-a. close south-west of the churchyard, taken from the western part of the original rectory close. (fn. 57) One vicar in 1442 left £5 to repair his house, (fn. 58) which had five hearths in 1674. (fn. 59) Reginald Hawkins, vicar 1718-31, rebuilt it as a 'large, handsome' house. (fn. 60) Though thought c. 1830 fit for the vicar's residence, it was again rebuilt or enlarged in 1833-4 to designs by Thomas Rickman. The main block of the greybrick, slated house, dressed in Ketton stone, has a principal south front of three storeys and eight bays of segmental-headed sash windows with a pediment over the projecting central bays. The main entrance was by a massive pedimented mid 19th-century doorway in its east wall. A more irregular rear part, perhaps derived from the earlier house, extends northward towards the churchyard. (fn. 61) That house, occupied by incumbents until the mid 20th century, (fn. 62) contained in 1866 two studies, one for receiving parishioners, with a large drawing room, and upstairs eight bedrooms with both front and backstairs, besides extensive offices and cellarage sufficient to hold the vicar's 300 dozen bottles of port, claret, sherry, and champagne. (fn. 63) By the 1880s, when the house was already thought too large, the vicar, to enlarge his garden, leased part of the rectory site of which he had in 1857 obtained 1 a. from Pembroke in exchange for his 6½ a. near Brook Street. That addition was eventually used to provide direct access from his house to the high street in 1936; then, and in 1957, 1¼ a. there were sold. (fn. 64) The old vicarage house was sold in 1954 to Clark & Butcher, the Soham millers, who still owned it in 1997. In 1953 the substantial Cross Green House, at the junction of Churchgate and Paddock streets, was bought as the new vicarage house. (fn. 65) That early 19thcentury house, of grey brick, slated, has a main front facing north of five bays with sashed windows, with a central doorcase on Doric columns. Its hall retains its original stone paving and balustered staircase. (fn. 66) The vicar still occupied it in the 1990s.
Vicars, some at least resident, were recorded from the 1240s. (fn. 67) Six served successively between the 1320s and the 1350s, one dying in 1349, but between 1361 and 1410 there were only two. Graduates, including one fellow of Pembroke, a would-be pluralist, 1420-7, began to hold the vicarage in the early 15th century, (fn. 68) when there was again a more rapid turnover of incumbents, sometimes by exchanges. (fn. 69) In 1442 one vicar bequeathed 8 marks for a year's masses by a local chaplain. (fn. 70) John Sly, vicar 1450-70, had as chaplain a kinsman, to whom he left his portifer and money for masses at Soham; he also sought his parish's prayers by leaving it a vestment and an altar cloth. Another parish priest in 1502, perhaps one of two, actually bequeathed a book called Ortulus Artium to be chained in St. Mary's chapel in the church, probably that containing her altar, mentioned in 1464. (fn. 71) As late as 1545 a vicar, who devoted the money that was to be raised by selling all his costly books to his neighbour, the vicar of Fordham, to providing 13s. 4d. for his anniversary over seven years. Any residue of his goods should help Soham's single young folk marry. (fn. 72)
Villagers had till then given generously to support traditional pious observances. Bequests were often made between the 1470s and the 1520s to another chapel of St. Mary, presumably a separate building, called St. Mary's chapel by the highway. (fn. 73) A chapel, perhaps that one, with its chapel house, perhaps Our Lady's almshouse where a chimney had been built c. 1475, and yard, apparently copyhold, was in lay ownership by 1552. (fn. 74) It was possibly connected to a guild of St. Mary, recorded 1523-5. (fn. 75) Other guilds receiving legacies included those of St. Katharine, c. 1444, St. Peter, c. 1467-1521, (fn. 76) and, c. 1471-1545, St John Baptist who had an altar in the church by 1473. Money was still left for its light in 1540. (fn. 77) Most important was perhaps the Corpus Christi guild, founded by 1475, which owned land in the southern fields. By 1503 its brothers and sisters employed their own priest, for whom £2 was then left to augment his wage, as was 13s. 4d. in 1524, besides ½ a. of land. (fn. 78) Much land, whose rent was collected by 1500 by the churchwardens, was also given for lights and obits: in 1549 the Crown sold c. 57 a. devoted to such purposes, including 20 a. called the Parson's land, altogether then yielding £3 a year. (fn. 79) Bequests had been made in 1496 and 1540 to pay a priest to sing 'Jesus' masses and in 1502 and 1527 for trentals of St. Gregory. (fn. 80)
Perhaps through its relative isolation in the fens, Soham remained religiously conservative in the mid 16th century, even though a local weaver was tried in 1542 for religious errors, (fn. 81) and probably later. Bequests were made for 'dirige masses' at burials with month's and year's days to follow, well into the 1540s. A widow provided for ten years' requiem masses as late as 1547. (fn. 82) In 1541 her husband, who had wanted 'diriges' not only in Soham church, with four black-gowned poor men attending his body, but in eight neighbouring parishes, left £3 to be given in meat and drink, perhaps at a wake. (fn. 83) Henry Seaman (d. 1607) asked for a 12-hour soul's peal at his burial and ringing for five days following, and, like some others, to be buried under his accustomed stool in the church, but upright. Two minstrels were to play before his coffin to the grave, and all the day after while his executors made good cheer with his neighbours. (fn. 84) Testators until the early 17th century showed no evidence of advanced Protestant belief. (fn. 85)
Soham's late 16th-century clergy were not likely to change such practices. Even Nicholas Ridley, who held Soham vicarage in commendam with his mastership of Pembroke and two successive bishoprics from 1547 to 1552, regretted after resigning it that he had done little for the parish. He found his successor of 1552, though promising well, yielding 'to the trade of the world'. (fn. 86) About 1561 that unmarried vicar, though resident, could not preach. (fn. 87) The next vicar, the pluralist Dr. Humphrey Tyndall, who held Soham from 1591, (fn. 88) served Soham by deputy. A diligent curate acting for him from 1599 found much to correct, backing conciliation with legal pressures. He obliged marrying couples to kneel south of the communion table, not in the 'middle aisle', and persuaded men to take off their hats during services. Those neglecting to partake at the regular thrice-yearly communions were admonished and some even presented. In 1600, to make sermons more audible, the pulpit was moved from the 'middle aisle' to the nave north-east end. The seating of men and women around it, apparently separate, was adjusted in 1602, putting the oldest men and the wealthiest parishioners nearest. The purchase of an hourglass and the repair in 1602, at Tyndall's expense, of the church clock helped the congregation tell, and perhaps control, the duration of the hour-long sermons. (fn. 89) In 1603 there were 800 communicants. (fn. 90)
The villagers' opposition to the fen inclosures authorized for Charles I did not result in any widespread hostility to his ecclesiastical innovations. The vigorously Royalist Roger Heckstetter, vicar from 1631, introduced such 'ceremonies' as the cross in baptism, and insisted on giving communion at the rails. He published the king's Book of Sports and did not reprove villagers who played and drank in alehouses on Sundays. A few local Puritans objected, one c. 1640 going elsewhere to hear afternoon sermons since Heckstetter preached only once, but most villagers apparently supported their vicar: all but three or four of c. 200 householders required in 1643 to take the Covenant refrained after he had refused it. Soon after Heckstetter had to leave Soham, where his communion rails were pulled down. He was officially sequestrated in 1644, on charges laid by ten Puritan villagers. (fn. 91) During the anti-Puritan reaction of mid 1647, numerous villagers combined in July and August, with Samuel Thornton among their sixteen leaders, to expel from the pulpit and vicarage house a new 'godly' minister, and re-instated Heckstetter and the Prayer Book liturgy. They intimidated the local J.P.s, and soldiers from the Isle of Ely garrison had to be called on to repress the disorders. (fn. 92) The living was vacant in 1650, when the villagers asked that their acting minister, who obtained episcopal ordination c. 1655, be continued. (fn. 93) In the late 1650s his successor, however, adhered to the Cambridge Presbyterian classis. (fn. 94) Heckstetter died in 1660, shortly after being again reinstated. (fn. 95)
After 1660 Pembroke men again held the vicarage, at first for relatively short periods. Robert Mapletoft, 1672-7, held the vicarage with the deanery of Ely. Drew Cressener, however, served from 1679 to his death in 1718. (fn. 96) In 1676 the minister reported 530 conformists, compared with only 21 dissenters. (fn. 97) In the late 17th century, as in the 18th, services were apparently performed regularly, including three communions yearly at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun, and the church was refurbished and reequipped. (fn. 98) From the 1710s the vicars, for whom Soham was usually their sole living, (fn. 99) were commonly resident, frequently presiding at the annual Easter vestries, (fn. 100) although curates were also often employed, as in the 1670s, late 1720s, mid 1750s, and late 1780s. (fn. 101) Henry Fisher or Cooper, vicar 1797-1824, regularly resided at first and was assisted by 1806 by a resident curate, then paid £40, £120 a year by 1820, when Fisher was away at Bath through illness. Initially Fisher held, allegedly according to custom, two services one Sunday, one the next, and four communions yearly, including one on Good Friday. By 1813, when there were 70-80 communicants, the clergy provided two Sunday services, preaching alternately morning and afternoon, but parishioners proved utterly unwilling to attend the long-customary weekday prayers, which the vestry nevertheless asked Fisher to resume in 1812. He catechized regularly on Sundays in Lent, using a catechism compiled by himself, but found that many of the poorer villagers failed to attend any worship. (fn. 102) His successor, the bibliophile George Haggitt, 1825-32, (fn. 103) in his will directed that the income, £18 a year, derived from Fisher's redemption of the land tax on the vicarage house in 1799, be devoted to supporting a Church Sunday school. His spinster sisters, his legatees, transferred capital yielding £10 a year in 1833, and Haggitt's charity was thereafter used for such schools. Half its income initially went to one for boys, half paid the mistress's salary for the girls' Sunday school, shortly afterwards linked, as until the 1860s, with the Church girls' day school on Carter Street, where it was held. Thereafter three quarters of that £5 was spent on other incidental costs of that Sunday school, apparently maintained into the 1950s. In 1976 the trust was vested in Pembroke College, which paid the £10 to the vicar in the 1990s. (fn. 104)
Despite the predominance of Dissent in Soham in the mid 19th century and frequent antagonism between Church and chapels, (fn. 105) Haggitt's successor, Henry Tasker, the first of three incumbents whose tenures covered 132 years, retained the villagers' general respect until he died, aged eighty, in 1874. (fn. 106) In 1851 his curate claimed an afternoon attendance of 600 adults, double that in the morning, besides 190 Sunday-school children. Other potential churchgoers could find no seats in the over-crowded church, (fn. 107) where the pews were reallotted in 1854 to add 300 sittings. In the 1870s it could supposedly provide 1,000 sittings, half free, with 250 more for children, the boys and girls in separate galleries. (fn. 108) To serve the extensive parish and its growing population, even though the 1,400 regular churchgoers were outnumbered, 1885-1900, by c. 1,850 dissenters, (fn. 109) Tasker had employed at least one curate in the 1840s. (fn. 110) From the 1850s there were usually two, dwelling in lodgings, one serving 1857-70, of whom one covered Barway chapel. There were three in 1864, (fn. 111) then two again until c. 1890. Thereafter the vicar could afford only one, as remained the case until the late 1930s. (fn. 112) One curate, J. R. Olorenshaw, 1883-9, compiled and published much information on Soham's past. (fn. 113) By the 1870s Tasker could thus provide three Sunday services, all with sermons, and two on weekday mornings outside harvest, together with monthly communions attended by 70-100 of his 200 communicants. (fn. 114)
His successor, J. C. Rust, 1874-1927, (fn. 115) by 1885 held weekly communions, regularly attended by barely 60 out of his 178 Easter communicants. Only two thirds of c. 55 children confirmed, mostly girls, then became communicants, (fn. 116) though most of the hundred confirmed 1892-7 at least came to church in 1897, when there were still three Sunday services. The parish was then visited for the vicar by his curate and by lay readers appointed from 1882, one serving 1890-1912, with c. 20 district visitors. (fn. 117) Soham's Anglicans were rallied in a variety of groups, including a Church Temperance Society started in 1854, when harvest thanksgivings were inaugurated, (fn. 118) and others for singers, ringers, and teachers. (fn. 119) The choir, established by 1843, was from 1882 recruited from a newly organized men's 'guild of St. John Baptist'. (fn. 120) Another 'guild' for women, formed by 1891, was named from St. Etheldreda, like the mission room opened in 1883 in a former schoolroom at the north end of Churchgate Street, which was possibly still in use in 1911. (fn. 121) Rooms in houses on Qua and East fen commons were rented c. 1885-92 for mission rooms and cottage lectures. (fn. 122) A church hall was planned in 1903 (fn. 123) and a site acquired in 1911 across the street from the church, where the hall was eventually built by subscription in 1928-9. (fn. 124) That redbrick hall, accommodating a church youth club in the 1970s, remained in use until the 1990s, but was for sale in 1997. (fn. 125) Rust's successor, P. F. Boughey, served, single-handed from 1945, until 1954. Soham continued to have its own resident vicars in the 1990s. (fn. 126) In 1969 there were only 175 Easter communicants. (fn. 127)
The parish church, which stands almost halfway along the central section of the village street on its west side, was named for ST. ANDREW from the late 12th century (fn. 128) to the mid 18th. (fn. 129) A mid 19th-century ascription to St. John the Baptist, probably arising from an erroneous identification of Soham's midsummer village feast as the patronal one, (fn. 130) was corrected from the mid 1880s, perhaps through Olorenshaw's research, and the church was still called St. Andrew's in the 1990s. (fn. 131) The church, (fn. 132) probably cruciform from the 12th century, comprises a chancel whose north chapel was partitioned to make a vestry, a crossing below the stump of a central tower, an aisled and clerestoried nave with north and south porches, and a west tower. It is built of fieldstones, much patched with red and grey brick, and dressed mainly in clunch ashlar, partly renewed. All its roofs were leaded by 1746, save for the stone-tiled south porch.
The earliest surviving part is probably the late 12th-century crossing, which retains four wide, pointed arches on separate massive round demicolumns. The arches to east, north, and south are triple-stepped. The fourth, to the west, much moulded on its east face, has the west side decorated with three bands of dogtooth and chevron. There followed, soon after, the four eastern bays of the nave with double-stepped pointed arches on alternately round and octagonal piers, also with scalloped capitals. The chancel, whose south wall retains one side of a blocked, probably round-headed, priest's door, and the transepts were probably reconstructed in the early to mid 13th century, from which period survive a pointed arched doorway in the chancel south wall and a blocked lancet in its north one. An elaborately moulded and shafted 13th-century double piscina remains in the south wall of the south transept, which is linked to the nave south aisle by a plain pointed arch, perhaps cut through the earlier transept wall, like the crooked arch from north transept to north aisle. In the early or mid 14th century there was inserted in the north transept north wall a tombchest, with cusped traceried panelling, under an ogeed arch, also heavily cusped, with a crooked cusped piscina to its east. Perhaps contemporary were the ornately ogeed, cusped, and crocketed triple sedilia, beneath a string course with ballflower, and a matching piscina, installed in the chancel south-east corner, uncovered and restored c. 1849. (fn. 133)
In the early 14th century the nave, whose earlier arcade was leaning westward, was extended west by one bay, leaving a short section of walling between, and the gabled south porch was erected. Most of the aisle, transept, and chancel windows are also 14th-century, with tracery of several different patterns, largely renewed externally; the five-light chancel east window, restored c. 1849, (fn. 134) with internal niches each side, has an elaborately flowing reticulated design. (fn. 135) Of the aisle windows, mostly of three lights, both those in the north aisle, with tall lights and traceried heads, and two reticulated ones in the south aisle, one at each end, are early 14thcentury, as is a three-light window in the chancel south wall. The matching window lighting the western portion of the north chancel chapel is probably late 14th-century, perhaps contemporary with the four-light, transomed north transept north window; the latter is still ogeed and has mouchettes in its head. Beyond a wall pierced by a 15th-century doorway containing a medieval door stands the eastern part of the north chapel of two bays, possibly also 14th-century. Perhaps built as a sacristy, it was used as the vestry by 1746, as until the 20th century when it was made a 'lady chapel'. It contains a stone altar and resited fragments of medieval glass. (fn. 136)
In the 15th century the nave received a clerestory of five uniform three-light windows, two similar, taller ones being inserted centrally among the easternmost three in each aisle. Perhaps c. 1500 the north porch, smaller but more used, outside a 14th-century doorway, was reconstructed more ornately, being given an embattled parapet with flushwork, like its plinth, and pinnacles over its buttresses, also stone panelling on its interior walls. Aisles and clerestory were also embattled, along with the chancel north chapels. The clerestory battlements have largely been renewed in red brick. The late 12th-century central tower presumably survived until the 15th century. In 1496 money was left for taking down the 'shaft of the steeple', probably above it, and building a stone 'shaft' on new foundations, presumably the 'new bell tower' for whose repair £3 was left in 1502. (fn. 137) The design of that lofty tower, beyond the west end of the nave, has been ascribed to John Wastell, who had recently worked at Great St. Mary's, Cambridge. (fn. 138) It is of three tall stages with angle buttresses and has a stair turret to the south-east. It is crowned with stepped battlements over arcaded flushwork: below the string-course flushwork, crowns for St. Etheldreda alternate with saltires for St. Andrew. There are four angle and four intermediate pinnacles. The tower's windows are simple save for the renewed main four-light one over its spandrelled west doorway. Inside, there is a lofty, moulded, tower arch.
Presumably contemporary with the clerestory is the late 15th-century nave roof, which has massive tiebeams with arched braces supporting traceried struts each side, alternately with angels upholding hammerbeams. The aisles have simpler contemporary roofs with arched braces, also alternating on the south side. An ornate, probably 15th-century, parclose screen with ogeed arches, the outer two subdivided, supporting tracery and an elaborate cresting, occupies, as in the 1840s, the arch from the north transept to the north chapel. (fn. 139) The lower part of a roodstair survives north-east of the crossing, under whose eastern arch a screen survived in 1746. The nave contains numerous late medieval bench-ends, whose poppyheads, some floriated, but most of beasts, with angels and a bishop, (fn. 140) have been copied on their 19th-century neighbours. Late medieval chancel stalls with plain misericords, still in place in 1746, were moved c. 1849 to the neighbouring north chapel and by the 1880s to the nave west end. (fn. 141) A painting of St. Christopher, facing the nave north door, visible under whitewash in 1746, (fn. 142) has since disappeared, but a 15th-century one of a bishop, perhaps St. Felix, uncovered in 1849, (fn. 143) survives within the blocked lancet in the chancel. The north chapel contains a hanging monument to Edward Barnes (d. 1615) with kneeling figures of his fifteen children ranked below a space from which those of Barnes and his wife Dorothy (d. 1588) have gone, save for his sword. In the 1740s there were visible, besides three medieval stone coffins, numerous floorslabs, sometimes required under wills, to prominent Soham gentry and yeomen of the 16th and 17th centuries, including John Thornton (d. 1598), and the Dowmans, Hammonds, and Peacheys, some of which survived in the 20th century. (fn. 144) A brass eagle lectern, scoured in 1675 and still in the vestry in 1746, was lost by the 19th century. (fn. 145)
In the late 16th century bequests continued to be made for church maintenance, one in 1562 of £5 towards the future repair of the south aisle. (fn. 146) By 1600, however, the church was in decay, many roof timbers rotting, while birds flew in through broken windows. The energetic curate enforced substantial repairs by a rate, despite opposition. (fn. 147) The chancel, however, towards whose maintenance under an award made by the bishop of Norwich in 1510 the impropriator had to pay two thirds and the vicar one third of the cost, a rule still in force in the 20th century, (fn. 148) had its stonework and glazing in decay in 1619. (fn. 149) Among the works undertaken by the churchwardens after 1660 was the erection in 1700 of a gallery, probably that recorded over the north aisle in 1746. Its replacement, projected in 1766, was probably in place over the south aisle in the 1830s, while a new pulpit, succeeding a stone-based one 'new' in 1746, and reading desk were installed in 1775. By the 1830s the nave east end, crossing, and south transept were all occupied by private pews, some under the chancel arch. (fn. 150) In 1826-7 a builder's replacement of seating customarily used by the poor with 20 new pews, illegally auctioned to householders, led to disturbances. (fn. 151)
In 1848-9 Pembroke College and the vicar had the chancel restored. It was re-roofed in oak and floored with encaustic tiles, and two 'new' windows were inserted in the south wall, where two-light ones had been. The chancel woodwork, including reredos, altar, rails, replacing those reinstated by 1746, and stalls, was entirely renewed in oak to designs in the Decorated style by Bonomi and Cory, together with a curvaceous new chancel screen carved by Rattee of Cambridge. A new font was also provided. (fn. 152) Restoration of the rest of the church, costing £3,000, was effected in 1879-80 to designs of 1876 by J. P. St. Aubyn, which included the renewal of the transept and chapel roofs. The galleries and pews were replaced by more uniform seating. (fn. 153) Another new pulpit was given in 1869. The chancel east window was glazed in 1875 in memory of Henry Tasker. An organ installed c. 1852 and placed by 1869 in a gallery, perhaps at the west end, was replaced by a new organ acquired in 1966. (fn. 154) The tower was repaired in the mid 1970s (fn. 155) and the chancel parapets in the 1980s. (fn. 156)
In 1552 the church had only one silver gilt, chalice and paten, and only four sets of vestments, mostly velvet. (fn. 157) By the 1740s the plate included an old silver cup and paten, perhaps the surviving ones dated 1708-10, a larger silver paten of 1719, bought in 1720, and a silver flagon, also inscribed with Scriptural texts in Greek, given in 1730 by Reginald Hawkins, vicar 1718-31. Later there were added a cup and paten of 1761, and cups of 1845 and 1887. (fn. 158)
There were four bells in 1552 (fn. 159) and probably five in the late 17th century, including a great bell recast, adding 126 lb., in 1694. In 1788 the six bells, in poor condition, were recast as a peal of six, using £120 accumulated by Bond's charity. Two others were added in 1790 and two more by subscription in 1808. (fn. 160) About 1800 bells were still rung to signal morning and nightfall, and tolled in harvest time. (fn. 161) Besides the local ringers, called from the 1790s the Soham Youth, the peal of ten attracted teams of outside ringers from the early 19th century. All ten were still in place in the late 20th century. (fn. 162) By 1600 the church had a clock, given its own bell in 1601 (fn. 163) and a dial by 1700, and replaced in 1826. The Baileys, watchmakers at Soham, maintained the clock from the 1860s to the 1980s; one of them left £1,000 in 1988 for having the clock wound by electricity. The existing clock, once an eight-day one, supposedly came from a Cambridge college. (fn. 164) In 1945 Charlotte G. Morris left £50 for the bells and £800 for a stained-glass window in the south aisle in memory of her husband, the Revd. W. C. Morris (d. by 1935). (fn. 165)
Although the vestry still voted church rates in the late 1830s at 2-3d. in the pound, legal stratagems devised by Soham's leading Radical Thomas Wilkin were by then obstructing their collection. (fn. 166) By 1847 some dissenters were openly refusing to pay such rates, whose levy had effectively ceased by the late 1850s. (fn. 167) The dissenting party claimed from 1832 that there were sufficient funds to maintain the church from endowments. (fn. 168) Since the early 18th century the churchwardens had received for that purpose every other year the income, worth £9 a year c. 1830 and £40 by the 1860s, of Bond's 'church and highway' charity, together with that from Wright's 3-a. bequest, yielding c. £10 c. 1830-65. (fn. 169) A Scheme of 1896 finally constituted as a separate ecclesiastical charity the funds which customarily maintained the church fabric, assigning to it half the 'Soham Charity Estate' income from Bond's original 22 a., a third of the rent of Bond's 48-a. fen allotment, and all that of Wright's 2 3/4-a. Brook Dam close, altogether worth c. £36 in the 1910s. (fn. 170)
The parish registers are virtually complete from 1558. (fn. 171) The churchyard was closed by 1873. (fn. 172) Following a cholera epidemic in 1853 it had become over-full, and in 1854-5 £2,700 was raised to buy and prepare 3¾ a. south-west of the Fordham road as a cemetery. It was opened in 1856, the northern half intended for dissenters being left unconsecrated. (fn. 173) The cemetery was thereafter managed under the vestry by a Burial Board, controlled after 1894 by the parish council, (fn. 174) which in 1911 purchased another 2¾ a. to the south-west to enlarge it. (fn. 175) The cemetery contains two facing chapels built in 1855-6, (fn. 176) of black flint dressed in ashlar, to almost identical designs in the Decorated style. That to the south, for Anglicans, was still in use in the 1990s. By 1965 no clergy would officiate in the cold, damp northern one, which had served Soham's once numerous dissenters, (fn. 177) but it still stood, boarded round, in the 1990s, when a charitable trust was set up to preserve it. (fn. 178) A Gothic cottage, which by 1861 housed the curator, initially the sexton, (fn. 179) was sold by the 1990s.
The hamlet had its own chapel by 1189, when its revenues were given to Le Pin abbey with those of Soham. (fn. 180) By 1340, worth £2, they went to the vicar, (fn. 181) who presumably provided any priest who served the chapel. Although bequests were occasionally made to it, the chapel was probably poorly equipped and served in 1523, when a London alderman, Thomas Murfitt, born and christened at Barway, left for it a vestment, silk and linen altarcloths, and similar equipment, together with £10 to support a priest to sing mass there for five years. (fn. 182) In 1552 the chapel had four old vestments and its own silver gilt chalice. (fn. 183) About 1600, when it lacked tiling and glazing, the people of Barway sometimes hired their own reader. Then, as in 1650, it was recognized, despite some disputes with the villagers at Soham, that Barway's people were often cut off in bad weather from the distant parish church, and needed their own chapel, even perhaps their own minister. (fn. 184) In the early 18th century the vicar paid £20 a year to a curate serving Barway. (fn. 185) Under Cawthorne's charity established in 1750, the clerk serving Barway chapel was to receive yearly 30s., duly paid to successive clerks until the 1950s. (fn. 186)
Services, which ceased for a time in the 1810s when the chapel was unroofed, were resumed after repairs in 1819. (fn. 187) In the mid 19th century it was served by one of the Soham curates. (fn. 188) In the 1870s they celebrated one Sunday service there, alternately morning and afternoon, and in 1885 five communions yearly, together with harvest thanksgivings, besides keeping a Sunday school for 20 children. The chapel, which in 1873 could seat 100, (fn. 189) had a harmonium installed in 1883. (fn. 190) Services continued to be held at Barway until 1965. The chapel was declared redundant in 1972 and sold for conversion to a private house. (fn. 191)
The chapel, dedicated by the 1450s to ST. NICHOLAS, like Littlemore nunnery which owned Barway manor, (fn. 192) consists of a medieval nave built of fieldstones dressed in clunch, much patched in brick, and buttressed, and an almost square chancel in grey brick with round-headed windows, presumably dating from 1819. (fn. 193) The existing fabric of the nave is probably mainly 14th-century. The west wall has a three-light window with reticulated tracery, unblocked after 1850, below a double bellcote, which presumably contained the two bells reported in 1552. (fn. 194) The south door is probably also 14thcentury, along with the battered north and south windows of two lights under straight heads. Slate only replaced thatch on the roof in 1869. (fn. 195) When the chapel was sold, the one remaining medieval bell was removed to Soham church, but the other fittings were left at Barway, including an octagonal 14th-century font, a threedecker pulpit brought from elsewhere, an organ, and the balustered 17th-century communion rails, used to front an eastern gallery in the nineroom house constructed by 1974 within the old walls. (fn. 196)