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.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The patronage of Dry Drayton church remained with Crowland abbey until the Dissolution. (fn. 1) Rectors were recorded from the mid 12th century, the first known being William of Lavington, archdeacon of Ely c. 1150-8. (fn. 2) By the mid 13th century the rector had to assist him a chaplain, by the 1270s formally installed as vicar, but in 1282 the vicarage and rectory were consolidated. (fn. 3) Thereafter the incumbents were regularly styled rectors. (fn. 4) Between 1282 and 1284 the abbey, challenged in its rights over the church by Geoffrey Mauthorp, employed 80 men to guard the building against intruders. (fn. 5) Sir John Heron presented in 1517 and the king in 1532, both under grants for one turn from the abbey, another such turn being exercised in 1541. (fn. 6)
The Crown granted the advowson to Thomas Hutton with the abbey's manor, (fn. 7) with which it descended until the 19th century. (fn. 8) In 1675 it was in dispute between Richard Cutts and Humphrey Weld, whose candidate the bishop admitted. (fn. 9) A rector, Dr. Samuel Smith, acquired it with the manor in 1795, and his son Samuel, himself rector 1808-29 and 1832-41, (fn. 10) devised the advowson by itself in 1841 to his eldest surviving son William, (fn. 11) rector 1841-69. (fn. 12) The advowson was successively acquired by Francis Walker of Elm Hall, Wanstead (Essex), who presented his son Francis Augustus, rector 1873-80, (fn. 13) by Arthur Wolfe Hamilton-Gell, who presented himself in 1880 and resigned in 1887, (fn. 14) and by Simon Henstock of Bonsall (Herts.), who presented his son Francis William, rector 1887- 93. (fn. 15) By 1895 it had passed to Frederick Crisp of Scotland Farm, (fn. 16) then to M. A. Du Cros, and by 1904 to the royal solicitor Sir Henry A. White, who c. 1906 sold it to T. F. Hooley of Scotland Farm and his trustees. (fn. 17) None had any opportunity to present. About 1925 Hooley gave the advowson to Harrogate College, controlled by the Revd. Percy Warrington. (fn. 18) Probably through him, it was transferred c. 1955 to the Martyrs' Memorial Trust, (fn. 19) with which it remained when presentation was suspended in 1973. (fn. 20)
In the mid 12th century the rector received all the tithes except those of Crowlands demesne, an exemption confirmed by the bishop of Ely in 1259. The abbey also received by 1190 a pension from the incumbent of 20 marks, (fn. 21) reduced by the 1250s to 1 mark and later halved. (fn. 22) Although the rector thereafter took all the tithes save those of monastic land, he had, perhaps already c. 1340, (fn. 23) no glebe except the site of his glebe house. (fn. 24) About 1620 the small tithes were being collected partly as Easter offerings at so many shillings for each plough, garden, milking cow, calf, lamb, and pig. (fn. 25) At inclosure in 1811 all tithes and moduses save those of the windmill were commuted for an allotment of 427 a., mostly south-west of the village, (fn. 26) often for sale from 1931, (fn. 27) and finally sold in 1951. (fn. 28)
The value of the living was assessed at 15 marks c. 1217, 25 marks in the mid 13th century, (fn. 29) and 30 marks in 1291, (fn. 30) but only just over £11 in 1535. (fn. 31) By the 1650s it was worth £100. (fn. 32) In 1728 its potential value was reckoned as £360. (fn. 33) Following inclosure it brought in £320 c. 1830, (fn. 34) but £600 gross by the early 1870s. (fn. 35) By 1887 the income was reduced to c. £200, and in the 1890s, the glebe being untenanted, to barely £100. (fn. 36)
The original rectory house probably stood as in 1615 in a 1&frac1/2;-a. close west of the churchyard and north of Crowland abbey's manor house. (fn. 37) Edward Angier, rector 1633-65, had rebuilt it by 1662 to comprise a hall, parlour, and kitchen with three chambers and a gallery over them, containing 8 hearths. (fn. 38) In 1675, however, Humphrey Weld had that house demolished to improve the view from his remodelled manor house. The site, included in its park, was still called Parson's Grove in the 19th century. (fn. 39) In 1729 William Hetherington, rector 1728-53, built west of the village street a substantial redbrick house with a five-bay front, (fn. 40) which was kept in decent repair until the early 19th century. (fn. 41) Samuel Smith (d. 1832) largely rebuilt it c. 1830. (fn. 42) The new house, standing in well timbered grounds eventually covering 12 a., (fn. 43) was built of grey brick in three storeys. Its fourbay front towards the garden had a pedimented centre. A contemporary ice house is sunk in Ice House Grove to the west. Later rectors enlarged the house to include over 26 rooms by the 1920s. (fn. 44) It was sold with the glebe in 1951. (fn. 45) A smaller house, built in the village by 1964, (fn. 46) was apparently not used by the minister after 1973. (fn. 47)
John Barton, rector from 1349 to after 1370, gave the church a suit of vestments. (fn. 48) The arithmetician Thomas of Newmarket, (fn. 49) who obtained the rectory c. 1375 under a papal reservation but continued to study at Cambridge, was deprived in 1376, being neither dispensed for his parents' divorce, nor in major orders. (fn. 50) His successor in 1379 had two chaplains to assist him. (fn. 51) In 1406 there were three, at least one from a local neif family. (fn. 52) Hugh Lancaster, rector 1402-6, left to the church eight service books and a chalice, provided that the next rector did not demand dilapidations. (fn. 53) From 1437 Crowland abbey sometimes gave the living to canon lawyers, including William Spalding, official to the archdeacon of Ely, 1438-44. (fn. 54) A fellow of Michaelhouse, rector from 1464, was a theology graduate. (fn. 55) A pluralist, Andrew Benstead, who succeeded in 1494, was allowed a pension of £8 when he resigned in 1517 on grounds of age. (fn. 56) His successors, who included at least one royal chaplain in the 1530s, were probably non-resident: (fn. 57) parishioners' wills were commonly witnessed by curates. (fn. 58) John Clever, rector 1541- 67, a pluralist, (fn. 59) employed a curate in the early 1540s. (fn. 60) He was still non-resident, dwelling with a lady in Leicestershire, in the early 1560s, when there were no sermons. (fn. 61)
Dry Drayton had two chantries. Agatha of Stanton, who was permitted a private oratory in 1348, (fn. 62) late in 1349 gave 50 a. drawn from her husband John's family lands to endow one, whose chaplain was to be chosen by the rector. (fn. 63) The rector, John Barton, was licensed in 1353 to give 60 a. to endow a chantry for himself at St. Mary's altar in the parish church. (fn. 64) By 1500 the two chantries had apparently been amalgamated and were said to be in honour of St. Mary and St. Nicholas, for whom there were in the 1520s two guilds in the parish. The chaplain probably served in the south aisle chapel, where St. Mary's light was mentioned in 1520. (fn. 65) The chantry lands, c. 100 a. worth 5 marks c. 1535, came into Thomas Hutton's hands and were sold by the Crown in 1553. (fn. 66) By the 1550s Hutton also possessed the village guild hall. (fn. 67)
His son John, puritanically inclined, (fn. 68) chose as rector in 1570 (fn. 69) the learned and energetic Richard Greenham. A zealous Sabbatarian, Greenham would not subscribe to the Common Prayer Book or wear vestments: the parish had no surplice in 1591. He preached every Sunday, catechized the village youth twice a week, and gave early morning sermons on weekdays for the benefit of the labourers, but had little success: in 1591 many villagers were not receiving communion. In 1592, despairing of his 'peevish, ignorant' flock, he quitted Dry Drayton. (fn. 70)
His successor Richard Warfield regularly resided in his parish until his death in 1619. (fn. 71) Edward Angier, appointed in 1633, although c. 1638 insulted by farm labourers whom he sought to catechize (fn. 72) served through all changes until his death in 1665, (fn. 73) constantly residing. The altar rails and steps, in place in 1638, were demolished in the 1640s, and the monuments pillaged by 'a company of rambling, runagate soldiers'. In 1662 Angier was reported never to have taught anything contrary to the 39 Articles. (fn. 74) The next rectors were transient, one employing a curate. Between 1689 and 1713 the living was held by two masters of Magdalene College, Cambridge, (fn. 75) the second of whom often made parishioners go to the college chapel to be married. (fn. 76) Early nominees of the Russells included the latitudinarian divine, A. A. Sykes, 1714-18, and Henry Haslop, 1725-8, an importunate protégé of Sir Robert Walpole. (fn. 77)
William Hetherington, 1728-53, (fn. 78) resided, long declining offers of wealthier livings. (fn. 79) In his time, as was usual between the 1660s and the 1830s, there were normally two services each Sunday and the sacrament three or four times a year. (fn. 80) For 30 years from 1755 the rectory was held in plurality with a Suffolk living by another Russell protégé, Richard Bullock, (fn. 81) who was resident in 1776. (fn. 82) Samuel Smith, 1786-1808, headmaster of Westminster School 1764-88, (fn. 83) apparently resided at Drayton in his last years. (fn. 84) His son and successor Samuel, canon and from 1824 dean of Christ Church, Oxford, (fn. 85) long served Drayton through curates, but after the death of his eldest son Samuel, rector 1829-32, served in person. (fn. 86) In the early 19th century the ministers, who mostly preached once every Sunday, claimed only 10-15 communicants. (fn. 87) William Smith, an enthusiastic shooting man, lived at Drayton throughout his incumbency from 1841 to 1869. (fn. 88) In 1851, when there were 150-200 sittings, he claimed an average attendance of 70-100 in the morning and 130-190 in the afternoon, besides 30-40 Sunday-school children. (fn. 89)
An interim curate in 1869 was said to have greatly improved the religious and moral condition of the parish. (fn. 90) By 1873, when the afternoon congregation was thrice as large as the morning one, F. A. Walker held communions twice a month. By 1879 he had added an evening service to compete with the dissenting chapels. The adult choir had been replaced with one of schoolboys in 1873. The number of communicants increased from 20 then (fn. 91) to 35 out of 200 churchgoers by 1885, and 43, at weekly communions, out of 260 in 1897. Richard Winkfield, headmaster of Ely Cathedral school since 1870, served from 1894 to his death, aged 92, in 1929. In 1897 he held four services each Sunday, and claimed to visit the whole parish six times a year. (fn. 92) The total average attendance was 40- 60 c. 1922, and 80-90 out of 150 nominal churchgoers in 1932. In his last years Winkfield was often assisted by Ridley Hall students. (fn. 93) From 1933 to 1962 Dry Drayton was held with Hardwick rectory, where the incumbent lived from 1951. (fn. 94) Although the parish had a minister of its own in the 1960s and 1970s, he was usually a priest-in-charge, also serving the Bar Hill chapel, and after 1973 lived outside the parish. (fn. 95)
From 1965 a church at Bar Hill was proposed to be shared with two other Protestant denominations. (fn. 96) The rector of Dry Drayton and until 1970 an elderly Congregational minister held services there, initially at the school. (fn. 97) At the centre of the new village a church with annexes for other communal purposes, planned from 1968, (fn. 98) was built in 1972, of brick and glass. It included an octagonal room with a central altar, used for services on Sundays, and a baptistry for adults. The interdenominational congregation, to which c. 70 families then adhered, (fn. 99) was served continuously by the Anglican priest from Dry Drayton (fn. 100) and intermittently by nonconformist ministers, including a Presbyterian c. 1971-5 (fn. 101) and a female Baptist c. 1976-81. In 1976 attendance averaged 40-70, (fn. 102) and in 1983, when there was a resident Anglican priest, c. 100. (fn. 103) By 1985 the new church with only 100 seats was too small. (fn. 104) Bar Hill still belonged ecclesiastically to Dry Drayton parish, whose churchyard its burials rapidly filled in the 1980s. (fn. 105)
The old parish church of ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL, so named by 1486, (fn. 106) built mostly of field stones, consists of a chancel, aisled and clerestoried nave with north porch, and threestorey west tower. (fn. 107) That tower, unbuttressed, is 13th-century, but its windows have 14thcentury tracery, mostly renewed. The three-bay nave and the chancel were probably also rebuilt in the late 13th century, from which period dates the double-chamfered chancel arch, matching those of the arcades on octagonal piers. The south arcade with its wider capitals probably preceded the north one, perhaps early 14thcentury, with label stops carved as angels. Each aisle has in its west and side walls reset, but probably original, two-light windows. The south aisle east wall contains three mutilated 14thcentury niches that once perhaps backed an altar. The 13th-century north and 14th-century south doorways have both been reset. Until the 19th century both nave and aisles were under a single high-pitched roof, the existing clerestory being 19th-century. At the Victorian restoration Decorated windows replaced in the eastern part of the aisles Perpendicular ones still extant in 1744 and 1850. The long chancel also had Perpendicular windows in 1744, some surviving c. 1850.
The plain octagonal font is 13th-century. A 15th-century chancel screen, patched with Jacobean woodwork, complete in 1745, was probably removed in the 1840s to the tower arch. (fn. 108) A mid 16th-century brass, moved from the south aisle to the chancel step in the 1870s, of an armoured man, his wife, and 11 children, re-using part of one to an ecclesiastic, (fn. 109) probably represents Thomas Hutton (d. 1552). (fn. 110)
The chancel was ruinous in 1552 through the default of the absentee rector. (fn. 111) One of its walls was leaning and cracked in 1685, (fn. 112) probably the east one, in danger of falling in 1768. The rector was given leave to take it down and reduce the chancel's length from 32 to 20 ft. (fn. 113) In the early 19th century open seating for the labourers filled the nave, while the farmers occupied large pews in the aisles. One pew in the south aisle was in 1744 reserved for the duke of Bedford's family. (fn. 114)
The main restoration was mostly carried out by William Smith at his own expense. Between 1851 and 1853 he reconstructed the chancel, approximately to its ancient length, providing new glass as a family memorial. Between 1859 and 1862 he restored the nave, clearing away the old pews and a gallery, and almost entirely renewing the seating and other woodwork. The north aisle, already leaning in 1834, was virtually rebuilt between 1869 and 1873. (fn. 115) The tower had its brick parapet renewed in stone with battlements in 1874. F. A. Walker went on in 1876 to repair the north porch, renew the aisle seating, and remove the screen, which Smith had apparently used to conceal a vestry in the south aisle, back to the tower arch. In 1877 he had the church reroofed and tiled. (fn. 116) A. W. Hamilton-Gell gave an organ in 1881. (fn. 117) The cracked tower west wall was underpinned in concrete in 1899. (fn. 118) The Victorian chancel east wall was also underpinned between 1902 and 1904. (fn. 119)
A silver cup and cover of 1588, recorded in 1662, and a paten ordered in 1685 (fn. 120) were deposited by 1931 in the Fitzwilliam Museum. (fn. 121) By 1778 a late 17th-century silver cup, made in Paris, had been acquired. (fn. 122) There were four bells in 1552, (fn. 123) as in 1745. (fn. 124) In 1746 three were recast as four. The five bells, rehung in 1874, (fn. 125) could not be rung for over 30 years from the 1930s because the tower was weak. A clock had been installed in 1878. (fn. 126) The parish registers are substantially complete from 1565, save for a gap in baptisms and burials between 1781 and 1813. (fn. 127)