A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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The modern parish of Farcet was formed in 1885, (fn. 1) and lies south of Stanground, in which it was previously included. It extends to the county boundary on the east and adjoins Ramsey on the south-east and Holme and Glatton on the south-west. At its southern corner it includes part of the area which was formerly Whittlesea Mere. In 1886 a detached portion of Stanground at Kingsdelph and Eight Roods (fn. 2) was added to the parish. In the time of Edward the Confessor the rights of the Abbeys of Thorney and Ramsey in Kingsdelph were subject to an agreement, (fn. 3) and another agreement was made by fine in 1224 as to the right of the Abbot of Thorney in the marsh of Ramsey, by which the abbot was to hold the part towards Farcet and Yaxley quit of any claims for common rights by the Abbot of Ramsey, who similarly was to hold his portion of the marsh near Ramsey free from claims of common rights on the part of Thorney Abbey. (fn. 4) In the 17th century Farcet fen was drained and entirely inclosed. (fn. 5) Whittlesea Mere was drained under an Act of Parliament of 1762, (fn. 6) and the parish was included in the inclosure of Stanground in 1801. (fn. 7) Traces of a fen island site were found in the gravel of Farcet fen. (fn. 8) The soil is fen and loam and the subsoil clay and gravel, and the altitude varies from 15 to 60 ft. above Ordnance datum.
Farcet village lies on the south, on the rising ground overlooking the old course of the Nene. There are several brickworks at Farcet along the London and North Eastern Railway line, and there is a station called Yaxley and Farcet about a mile south-west of the village of Farcet, but in Yaxley parish.
The manor of FARCET, though not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, was one of the earliest endowments of the Abbey of Thorney. It may be identified with the land at Farcet bought by Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester (963–984), from Aelfric. (fn. 9) King Edgar then gave it to the abbey, (fn. 10) which held it in demesne in frankalmoin until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. (fn. 11) Edward VI granted the manor in 1549 to Sir Walter Mildmay for his life, (fn. 12) but in 1553 another grant was made to him in fee. (fn. 13) In 1588 he obtained the reversion of the manor of Stanground (q.v.), of which he himself had a lease, and from this time the two manors were in the same hands (fn. 14) until 1824, when Farcet was apparently inherited by Maria, eldest daughter and co-heir of Sampson, Baron Eardley of Spalding, and wife of Gregory, 14th Lord Saye and Sele. It remained in the hands of that family until the Farcet estates were sold in 1909, when the manor was conveyed to Mr. Samuel Reuben Ginn. He died in 1934 and the manor passed to Mr. Dennis Barton Ginn, who now owns it.
In the early 13th century, the Abbot of Thorney paid 20s. to the sheriff of the county for the views of frankpledge in four manors, including Stanground and Farcet, (fn. 15) but in 1285 he claimed with success that he paid nothing for the views in his manors. (fn. 16) The right to hold them was ancient (fn. 17) and presumably based on the grants of privileges in King Edgar's charter. In the 13th century he had waifs at Farcet. (fn. 18) In 1562, a court-leet was appurtenant to the manor of Farcet, (fn. 19) but probably one court was held at Stanground for both manors, since the records of a view of frankpledge held there in 1540 were produced for evidence as to customs at Farcet. (fn. 20)
A fishery called Farcet Lode was appurtenant to the manor of Farcet and was held by Henry le Katur in 1279 at a rent of 2s. a year. (fn. 21) In 1562 John Johnson held a lease of all the fishery of Farcet, extending from Conquest Lode to Horsebridge and Whittlesea dyke. (fn. 22) At this time the tenants of the manor had common of pasture, fishing and fowling in Farcet Fen, but might only use two nets at once. (fn. 23) In 1562, the tenants of Farcet appear to have had common rights in Kingsdelph. (fn. 24)
The church of ST. MARY consists of a chancel (22½ ft. by 15 ft.), south chapel (22¾ ft. by 11½ ft.), nave (37¾ ft. by 19½ ft.), north aisle (38 ft. by 10½ ft.), south aisle (49½ ft. by 8½ ft., widened to 9½ ft. at east end), west tower (9¾ ft. by 9¼ ft.), and south porch. The walls are of ashlar and rubble with stone dressings, and the roofs are covered with stone-slates and lead.
The church is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), but in the 12th century there was a chancel and an aisleless nave to which a west tower was added in the later years of the century. In the middle of the next century the chancel was rebuilt and a south chapel added. About 1275 the south aisle was added and was continued to the western wall of the tower, possibly with the intention of pulling down the tower and correspondingly lengthening the nave. The south porch was built in the 14th century. The church was restored in 1852, when the chancel and chapel are said to have been rebuilt, the nave roof renewed and the north aisle added. The tower was restored 1894–7.
The 13th-century chancel has a modern three-light east window. The north wall has a 15th-century two-light low-side window; a 15th-century locker; and two stone corbels. The south wall has a mid 13th-century arch to the chapel, having two chamfered orders on chamfered responds with moulded capitals and plain bases; a piscina with trefoiled head, projecting basin and a wooden shelf; a stone chair with shaped arms and a modern seat; and a stone corbel. The late 13th-century chancel arch has a two-centred arch of two chamfered orders resting on chamfered responds with semi-octagonal attached shafts having moulded capitals and bases.
The rebuilt south chapel has a modern two-light window in the east wall, and another and also a plain door in the south wall. The early 14th-century arch to the aisle has a pointed arch of two continuous chamfered orders.
The nave has a modern north arcade of three bays of pointed arches having two chamfered orders on octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases; the east respond is a moulded corbel. The south arcade, c. 1375, has three semicircular arches and one (the western) two-centred, of two chamfered orders on octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases; the eastern respond is a moulded corbel, and the western an attached half-column.
The steps leading to the pulpit are part of the rood stairs which occupied a projecting turret, pulled down in 1852. (fn. 25) The clearstory has three modern quatrefoiled circular windows on each side. The modern roof incorporates three 15th-century carved figures of angels, and its jack-legs rest on ancient stone corbels carved with grotesques and foliage.
The modern north aisle has a modern two-light window in the east wall. The north wall incorporates two 15th-century two-light windows and a modern doorway with re-used 12th-century rear-arch. The west wall has a similar 15th-century window. These features probably came from the north wall of the nave.
The eastern part of the south aisle has a rebuilt south wall having two square-headed two-light windows practically all modern, and a 13th-century locker. It is wider than the western part, but the quoins at the junction between the two seem to be ancient. The western part has a 13th-century south doorway with a pointed arch and continuous chamfered jambs. In the west wall is a 13th-century single-light window with a modern lintel. An arch spans the aisle from the western column to the south wall, and the springing of another arch remains above the capital of the eastern column.
The late 12th-century tower has a two-centred tower arch of two chamfered orders on chamfered responds with attached semicircular shafts having moulded capitals and bases. The west window is a tall narrow light with a semicircular head, and there is a similar window in the south wall. The stage above has a somewhat similar light in the west wall, and a blocked opening in the east. The belfry windows are two-lights with pointed heads and octagonal central shafts, under semicircular outer arches resting on detached jambshafts with moulded capitals and bases. The tower has clasping buttresses rising to its full height, and is surmounted by a plain parapet below which is a series of rounded corbels apparently the remains of a nebuly corbel-table. There are late and crude pinnacles at the angles. From behind the parapet rises a low pyramidal roof covered with lead. The modern stair-turret at the north-west corner only goes to the first stage.
There are three bells, inscribed: (1) T.A. 1673; (2) Praise the Lorde; (3) Omnia fiant ad gloriam Dei A + S 1621. Recast A + S 1854. The treble by Tobias Norris (III), the second by Newcombe, and the old tenor probably by William Haulsey, of St. Ives. The bell frame is inscribed A.F., C.W. 1688.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, floor slabs to Edward Bellamy, d. 1702; Ann widow of Edward Bellamy, d. 1712; (fn. 26) and the Rev. John Montford, curate, d. 1785; in the nave, floor slabs to John Marshall, d. 1822, and Hannah his wife, d. 1827; and Susannah Marshall, d. 1832, and John Marshall, d. 1837, dau. and son of John and Hannah; in the north aisle, to John Bird, d. 1896; and glass window to William Willis, d. 1916, and Russell Spencer Willis his son, d. 1897; in the south aisle, to David Bowker, d. 1781; and John Albert Rimes, d. 1917; in tower, floor slab to John Crane, jun., late 17th century; in the porch to Mrs. Dorotea Wright, d. 1674.
The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms, 2 Sept. 1641 to 23 March 1812, marriages, 16 April 1677 to 13 Oct. 1753, burials, 2 May 1676 to 22 Nov. 1812; (ii) the official marriage book, 16 April 1754 to 23 Nov. 1812.
The church plate consists of a silver cup inscribed: 'the town of favset,' and hall-marked for 1692–3; a cover paten for the same, inscribed '* N * S * Churchwarden,' and hall-marked as the cup; a silver parcel-gilt paten, sunk and sexfoiled and with the sacred monogram in the centre, no hall-mark, but c. 1500.
The chapel of Farcet was dependent on the church of Stanground, and a chaplain was provided by the rector. (fn. 27) In 1402, when the vicarage of Stanground was ordained, the duty of providing the chaplain at Farcet was imposed on the vicar. (fn. 28) In 1562 the Queen, as lady of the manor of Farcet, paid £4 13s. 4d. a year to the support of the chapel. (fn. 29) This grant had apparently been made by the abbey in September 1538 to the then vicar, Christopher Barton, for his life, but the payment was voluntarily continued by subsequent patrons until Henry Salmon (vicar 1634– 1654) demanded it as a right, when it was stopped. (fn. 30) In 1885 Farcet was separated from Stanground by Order in Council dated 1882 and was formed into a separate ecclesiastical parish and vicarage, of which Emmanuel College, Cambridge, is the patron. (fn. 31) The order apparently came into force on the death of the Rev. Robert Cory in 1885.
At the Dissolution of the Chantries, the sum of 30s. remained of certain sums of money given for providing lights. It was in the hands of Leonard Porlarde of Peterhouse, Cambridge. (fn. 32)
There were guilds of the Blessed Trinity and of Our Lady at Farcet, in 1535. (fn. 33)
The Rev. Robert Cory, by will proved 10 April 1885, gave £100 to the incumbent for the benefit of the poor of Farcet. This sum was invested in £100 2s. 6d. Consols in the name of the Official Trustees, and the dividends are distributed to the poor in coal.
The Marshall Charity.—Anthony Marshall, by a declaration of trust dated 7 August 1906, gave to the vicar and churchwardens of Farcet the sum of £1,142 Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Co. 3 per cent. consolidated preference stock, the interest to be expended in the purchase of coals, etc., and distributed to the poor of Farcet, preference being given to members of the Church of England. The endowment of the charity now consists of £857 London Midland and Scottish Railway 4 per cent. preference stock, with the Official Trustees, and the dividends are distributed in accordance with the directions contained in the said declaration of trust.
Farcet Parish Lands.—By the award of the Inclosure Commissioners land containing 1 a. 2 r. 11 p. was allotted to the minister and churchwardens of Farcet, and land containing 2 a. 1 r. 38 p. was also allotted to the minister and overseers of Farcet. These allotments were let as one close and the rents applied for the purpose of apprenticing poor boys of Farcet. The land was sold in 1899 and the endowment now consists of £857 2s. 10d. Consols with the Official Trustees.