A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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The advowson of Landbeach church, which has always remained a rectory, and to which presentations were recorded from the late 12th century, (fn. 1) then belonged to the Beach family. In 1247 it was agreed that Ellen of Beach's successors as lords of the manor should present alternately with the Avenels descended from her sister Isabel, the latter having the first turn. (fn. 2) In the 1250s Ellen and John le Bere released and confirmed their rights in the advowson to Walter le Chamberlain. (fn. 3) The arrangement for alternate presentations was confirmed in 1261, (fn. 4) and, after a dispute, in 1309, (fn. 5) and was usually observed until the 1340s. During minorities the Avenels' turn was exercised by the Beres of Ellington as guardians. Walter le Chamberlain used his turn to present his younger sons: Tibbald c. 1262 and John, rector in 1265 and 1294. (fn. 6) The Avenels last presented in 1349. (fn. 7) Under agreements of 1355, Sir Thomas Chamberlain in 1359 and John Avenel in 1363 gave their interests in the advowson to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, for a planned appropriation. (fn. 8) When in 1389 Sir Peter Courtenay, an influential courtier, claimed the advowson as remainderman under an Avenel settlement of 1303, (fn. 9) the college appealed to its patron John of Gaunt and bought out Courtenay's claim in 1392 for 100 marks. (fn. 10) The patronage remained with it thereafter until the late 20th century, (fn. 11) when following the union with Waterbeach in 1979 the college became alternate patron of the combined living. (fn. 12)
Presentations were made by feoffees for the college from 1374 (fn. 13) and by the college itself from 1398, (fn. 14) its members being regularly chosen from the 1380s. (fn. 15) When its masters were to be presented, as at alternate vacancies between 1490 and 1570, nominees were appointed to present. (fn. 16) In 1617 the college granted a turn to Sir Francis Bacon, who presented his chaplain and eventual biographer, William Rawley, (fn. 17) a former fellow, as were almost all the rectors presented until 1910. (fn. 18) From 1911 to 1959 former members of the college were still chosen. (fn. 19)
Under grants c. 1100 from Picot and his successor Pain Peverel to Barnwell priory of two thirds of their knights' demesne tithes, (fn. 20) the priory was entitled to a tithe portion out of the rectory of £1 in the 13th century, (fn. 21) £2 by 1500. (fn. 22) The portion remained payable to the Crown until redeemed in 1783. (fn. 23) Another such portion arising from the Brays demesne due to Bermondsey priory (Lond., formerly Surr.) was set at 10s. yearly c. 1230. (fn. 24)
The rector possessed until inclosure in 1813 all tithes, great and small. Milk tithes were commuted c. 1535. Others were demanded in kind in the 16th century and probably still in the 1630s. For the tithes of the hay in Frith Fen he received 3 a. of the fen a year, (fn. 25) which by 1615 was reckoned as part of his glebe, then, as c. 1800, comprising 60 a. of open-field land. (fn. 26) From the 1490s at latest to the mid 18th century the glebe and tithes were usually entirely leased to local farmers for short terms. (fn. 27) In the early 18th century the college sometimes leased Lordship farm to the rector to increase his income. (fn. 28) Robert Masters took his glebe in hand in 1760 and all the tithes from 1763. (fn. 29) By 1800 the great tithes were let to the farmers. (fn. 30) At inclosure the rector was in 1813 allotted 94 a. for the glebe and sheepwalk, and, after some dispute over his demand for a share in the fens, 330 a. for the tithes. (fn. 31) The land thus allotted, totalling 433 a. in 1887, (fn. 32) remained with the living until 1919, when 392 a. were sold to the county council. After other sales c. 1930, (fn. 33) 30 a. near the village still belonged to the rectory in 1985. (fn. 34)
Landbeach yielded a handsome income to its incumbent from the 13th century to the late 19th. It was taxed at 10 marks in 1217 and 1254 and at 20 in 1276, (fn. 35) although at only 15 in 1291. (fn. 36) About 1500 it was leased for 20 marks a year, (fn. 37) and, although assessed only at £10 1s. 3d. in 1535, (fn. 38) was in the 1530s thought by the rector to yield over £12. (fn. 39) By 1553 it was being leased for £20, (fn. 40) and in 1650 and 1728 it brought in £160. (fn. 41) Following inclosure the rectory was worth c. £630 net from 1830 to the 1850s (fn. 42) and its value reached almost £750 net in the 1870s, (fn. 43) but was more than halved by the 1890s. (fn. 44)
The medieval rectory house presumably stood in the 2½-a. close south-east of the church. (fn. 45) From 1430 Adam Clerk, rector from c. 1429 to 1462, leased much of the adjoining manorial close, including its garden. (fn. 46) In 1466 the rector and college were in dispute over the boundaries there. (fn. 47) The disputed land, north-west of the rectory, which became its garden, was sometimes, as in 1583, claimed as glebe, (fn. 48) and was finally ceded to the rector at inclosure. (fn. 49) From the original rectory house (fn. 50) there survived in 1986 a stone-walled cellar, the northern corner projecting beyond the modern outer wall. It was vaulted in brick on stone ribs with bosses, and had on its wall the arms of Bishop Lisle (1348- 61). The wing over it, which in 1512 contained a parlour and buttery with chambers above, (fn. 51) perhaps represents the central part of a medieval hall house. It was reconstructed at much expense, probably by 1535, by William Sowode, rector 1528-44, to suit his dignity as master of the college. (fn. 52) From his timber-framed central hall with its brick chimney, Gothic arches later decorated in stucco led to the offices in the north cross wing, which had a red-brick lower storey. Its western extension was the great parlour, while the smaller south cross wing with a little parlour probably housed the rectory farmer. A lease of 1553 reserved a parlour and one high chamber by the great chamber over the hall, for the rector when resident, and another chamber permanently for his curate. (fn. 53)
John Mickleburgh had expensively repaired and beautified the house by 1745. (fn. 54) Robert Masters within a year of his installation in 1756 enlarged it, taking in the western courtyard between the wings to provide an entrance hall and staircase, and turning the old hall into a kitchen. On the west he made a plain, uniform seven-bay front in brick. (fn. 55) His successor, T. C. Burroughes, added a projecting bay window to the south. (fn. 56) Probably c. 1863 John Tinkler removed the late medieval staircase in the north wing and added a classical porch to the west front, by then refaced in grey brick. The house was sold in 1976. (fn. 57) A large timber-framed tithe barn of c. 1600 to the east, then retained by the Church Commissioners, was leased in 1975 to the Landbeach Society, which restored and rethatched it as a venue for concerts and meetings. (fn. 58)
An almost continuous series of rectors was recorded from the late 12th century, the first two named being styled magistri. (fn. 59) One rector served as the bishop's penitentiary for the parish in 1346. (fn. 60) His successor, presented in June 1349, (fn. 61) received leave of absence for two years in 1353. (fn. 62) The next rector, in office by 1367, (fn. 63) was sick and aged by 1374, when the woman living with him, suspected of 'dishonest' conduct, was alleged to be wasting the rectorial property. (fn. 64) From 1380 the rectory was held by members of Corpus Christi for long terms, usually until their deaths: only eight rectors served between 1380 and 1515. (fn. 65) Adam Clerk was probably resident, (fn. 66) being buried in the chancel in 1462, as were two of his successors in 1490 and 1517. (fn. 67) William Sowode, 1528-44, and Matthew Parker, 1545- 54, later archbishop of Canterbury, (fn. 68) presumably sometimes inhabited the handsomely rebuilt rec tory. Parker as master of the college took much interest in the management of its Landbeach estate. (fn. 69) He was deprived in 1554. (fn. 70) Although Sowode was called his 'ghostly father' by one parishioner in 1529, neither he nor Parker probably did much parochial work. (fn. 71)
The cure was probably served by the parish priests or chaplains sometimes recorded, as in 1379 (fn. 72) and 1406. (fn. 73) John Swayne, of a local family, was stipendiary chaplain from 1463 to his death in 1496, when he left books, including the Pupilla Oculi. (fn. 74) Other priests were frequently recorded at Landbeach in the early 16th century, some acting as curates. One served from 1532 to 1543, while three died during Parker's incumbency. (fn. 75) It was usually curates who witnessed the parishioners' wills and with other priests received legacies to sing masses. (fn. 76) Landbeach had three guilds by the 1520s. That of All Hallows received frequent legacies from 1519, and its light was mentioned in 1529. The Jesus guild (fn. 77) perhaps sponsored Jesus masses, such as those for singing which on Fridays Thomas Lane in 1519 left a house and 4 a. (fn. 78) Money was left for masses of the Five Wounds as late as 1541. (fn. 79) Land sold by the Crown in 1570-1 included 1 a. given by Henry Chamberlain c. 1313 on behalf of the town for a mass and light at the Virgin Mary's altar, still mentioned in the 1520s, and a light before St. James's image. A guild hall sold in 1572 (fn. 80) was possibly the town house or guild hall built at the common charge of the town c. 1527, for which the churchwardens paid nominal rents to the lords of both manors until the 1540s. (fn. 81)
William Whalley, rector 1554-8, chosen on Parker's recommendation, (fn. 82) left money to Landbeach's church and poor, and probably resided. (fn. 83) His successor, John Porie, though master of the college until 1570, was said in 1561 both to reside and sometimes to preach. (fn. 84) In 1561, however, he and his curate displeased the villagers by neglecting to catechize their children. (fn. 85) The next rector, Henry Clifford, probably resided from his appointment in 1570 to his death, aged 77, in 1616, having apparently no curates until after 1600. (fn. 86) He had occasional trouble with misconduct during and after services, as in 1599. (fn. 87) The parish was perhaps of a conservative character: its rood loft and candle beam were still in place in 1594. (fn. 88)
William Rawley, rector 1617-67, continued to serve his patron Francis Bacon until Bacon's death in 1626, and employed curates in 1619 and 1625. (fn. 89) Rawley had perhaps come to reside by 1638, having married a Cambridge alderman's daughter. (fn. 90) Despite a petition against him, probably supported by 22 parishioners, in 1644, (fn. 91) he retained his living throughout the Interregnum, even though condemned in 1650 as 'no profitable minister'. He was then preaching twice a month, but otherwise left the church to a curate, (fn. 92) still employing one in 1665. (fn. 93) John Cory, rector from 1688, (fn. 94) held Landbeach until his death in 1727. John Mickleburgh, 1727-56, 'honest, absurd, and corpulent,' (fn. 95) who like Cory also held St. Andrew's, Cambridge, and latterly Impington, (fn. 96) was in 1728 holding two services every Sunday, though living in college. In the late 17th century communion was usually celebrated on the four major feasts, and in 1728 six times a year for c. 12 communicants. (fn. 97) Robert Masters, rector 1756-97, had married Cory's granddaughter. A diligent antiquary, he wrote the history of his college and collected materials for that of Landbeach, and resigned the rectory in favour of his son-in-law Thomas Cooke Burroughes, of Caius College, in 1797. (fn. 98)
Masters regularly resided and served Landbeach in person, in 1776 holding two Sunday services and communions thrice a year. Both practices continued under his successors until the 1830s. Burroughes, also resident, preached each Sunday morning. Edward Addison, 1821- 42, claimed 15 communicants by 1825 and 20 by 1836. (fn. 99) In 1851, when the church could hold 200, John Tinkler, 1843-71, had c. 50 adults regularly attending morning service and c. 115 in the afternoon. (fn. 100) Bryan Walker, 1871-87, an authority on Roman law, (fn. 101) similarly had up to 100 adults at his evening services. In 1873 he preached twice each Sunday, besides celebrating monthly communions, continued thereafter. In the 1890s the communicants usually numbered barely 25-30 out of c. 100 adult churchgoers, and in 1885 and 1897 only a third of the population adhered to the Church of England. (fn. 102) Landbeach continued to have rectors of its own until 1975. (fn. 103) From 1979 it was held with Waterbeach, where the joint incumbent dwelt in 1986. (fn. 104)
The church of ALL SAINTS, so named by 1439, (fn. 105) is built of field stones dressed with ashlar, and save for the tower is rendered. It comprises a chancel with rebuilt north chapel, an aisled, clerestoried, and embattled nave with south porch, and a three-stage west tower surmounted by a slim octagonal spire with alternating lucarnes. (fn. 106) The fabric is mainly 14th-century, although the base of the tower and the chancel walling may date from before 1300. The threelight chancel east window has uncusped intersecting tracery. The former north chapel in 1745 had a lancet to the east, and was entered from the north aisle under a low arch, reopened in 1878. In 1345 there was also a south chapel, where Henry Chamberlain desired burial. (fn. 107) It did not extend further east than the priest's doorway surviving in the chancel south wall.
The church was considerably reconstructed and refurnished after 1350. The tower bears the earlier emblem of the Cambridge Corpus Christi guild, founder of the college, while two of four misericords in the surviving stalls in the chancel bear the arms of Bishop Lisle, 1348-61, and Bishop Arundel, 1378-89. The four-bay nave arcade, which has moulded arches on octagonal piers, stops short of the tower, leaving sections of perhaps earlier walling to buttress the tower. The tower was probably then heightened, and received its west window containing ogee tracery. In the north aisle wall is an ogee-arched recess, elaborately crocketed, cusped, and foliated, and later mutilated. It has been variously described as a Chamberlain monument and, more probably, an Easter sepulchre. The south porch, covering a doorway matching that on the north side, is probably also 14th-century. In the 15th century the aisles received new three-light windows in standard Perpendicular style. A new roof, lower in pitch than an earlier one whose higher line is visible on the tower east wall, was probably also installed in the 15th century, when the existing clerestory with its two-light windows was erected.
The church retains much medieval woodwork, not all original to it. The nave roof, which may re-use the principal timbers of its predecessor, has tiebeams with alternating supports, resting on wooden shield-bearing angels, alternately gowned and feathered. The probably 15th-century aisle roofs, of differing patterns, each have simpler angel brackets, on the north wooden, on the south of stone. Many late medieval carved bench ends survived to be re-used in the nave seating, installed in 1878. The rood loft, probably still in place in 1745, allegedly matched the stalls linked to the east side of the screen and the hourglass pulpit to the west, which has ornate 14th-century tracery. The upper part of the screen was cut down by Robert Masters in 1757. (fn. 108) The late medieval screen standing across the chancel arch in 1986 was apparently brought from the tower arch and slightly widened to fit its new position in 1878. The heads of the aisle windows retain some late medieval glass, including much tabernacle work on the south side. The fragmentary glass in the chancel east window, however, including small figures and some portrait heads, was inserted by Robert Masters. (fn. 109) Remains of medieval wall painting discovered c. 1855 (fn. 110) were destroyed when the church was replastered in 1857. (fn. 111)
One wall was cracked in 1665, (fn. 112) but the fabric was mostly thought sound in the 18th century, except for the north chapel, left derelict after 1700. Masters proposed to remove it in 1757, and did so after 1783. He had in 1757 refurbished and wainscotted the chancel, (fn. 113) and in 1787 he installed behind the communion table a painting of the Adoration of the Shepherds, dated 1542, by J. Beuckalaer. It was removed to the rectory in 1868 and sold in 1981 for £21,000, used for church repairs. (fn. 114) Masters also replaced the old font with a marble basin placed on the old stem, itself replaced in 1846. (fn. 115) About 1790 he acquired from the recently remodelled Jesus College chapel much panelling of c. 1500, bearing Bishop Alcock's emblems. Mostly used to decorate the pews and benches, it was largely sold back to Jesus college when Landbeach church was restored in 1878. (fn. 116) About 1857 John Tinkler had the chancel reroofed and repainted, (fn. 117) but major restoration was delayed until 1878, when the nave and aisle roofs were reconstructed and releaded, the aisle walls underpinned, their window tracery being partly renewed on the south. The old north chapel was rebuilt to provide an organ chamber and vestry. The tower was repaired in 1888. (fn. 118) In 1882 a 17th-century carved wooden angel of Flemish workmanship was acquired for use as a lectern. (fn. 119) A new organ was installed c. 1910. (fn. 120) The spire was rebuilt in 1972. (fn. 121)
The plate in the 1980s included a late 16thcentury cup and paten, probably those recorded in 1775. (fn. 122) There were three great bells in 1552, (fn. 123) four by 1745, (fn. 124) presumably as later including one of c. 1520 with a black-letter inscription, one of 1577, and two of 1619. (fn. 125) The registers are virtually complete from 1538. (fn. 126) About 1873 and again in 1924 the rector gave a rood from his glebe to enlarge the churchyard eastward. (fn. 127)
The church was maintained partly out of the rents of the town lands. John Swayne (d. 1439) gave 1 a. for church repairs, and in 1460 the rector conveyed 2 a. to parish feoffees to whom another 1 a. was given for the church fabric in 1481. From 1559 to 1658 trustees held 4 a., (fn. 128) whose rent was £1 10s. or more in the 17th century, £3 in the late 18th. (fn. 129) At inclosure the parish was allotted 4 a. for the land, and for the right to receive for the church the excess grass of Frith Fen. (fn. 130) The rent, £10 by 1863, was still solely used for church repairs in the later 19th century. (fn. 131) Bequests totalling £450 for maintaining graves in 1928 and 1945 provided additional funds for church repairs. (fn. 132)
The parish clerk, who also dug the graves c. 1558, (fn. 133) was rewarded with 1d. a house and two yearly dinners by 1533, but after 1639 from a rate instead. (fn. 134) One of three cottages included in Robert Masters's charitable bequest of 1797 was intended as a home for the clerk, (fn. 135) who continued occasionally to occupy it until the 1930s. (fn. 136) The cottage just north of the church was decorated by Masters with fragments of medieval woodwork, mostly lost in a fire of 1972. (fn. 137)