A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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The parish of Fletton lies to the south of Peterborough, separated from it by the river Nene, over which there is a bridge in the middle of the boundary. Fletton spring forms the south-eastern boundary of the present Urban parish. Fletton, during the 19th century, became a suburb of Peterborough, the northern part of the parish having entirely lost its rural character. The increase in population has involved various reorganisations of its civil government. New Fletton, as it had become designated, was incorporated with the borough of Peterborough in 1874; the remainder of the parish was called Old Fletton. Fletton Urban, the part added to Peterborough, contains 213 acres. Old Fletton, or Fletton Rural, containing 757 acres, together with Stanground South and Woodston Rural, was on 1 October 1905 formed into the Fletton Urban District under section 36 of the Local Government Act of 1894. (fn. 1) The ecclesiastical parish contains both the civil parishes. The subsoil is Oxford Clay, the character of the latter having led to the establishment of large brickworks and the industrialisation of much of the parish. The works lie along the main line of the London and North Eastern Railway, which crosses the parish, and the station called Peterborough East, serving both the London and North Eastern and the London Midland and Scottish Railways, lies in New Fletton (Urban) to the south of the river. Scattered in the parish various remains of palæolithic man have been found, but the most important was excavated in the yard of the London Brick Company, where there are the remains of an early Iron Age settlement. (fn. 2) Traces of an early Roman settlement have also been discovered about half a mile south of the church, while a little farther north the line of a buried river running east and west has been found on a ridge of gravel. (fn. 3) The gravel pits of New Fletton have also yielded Anglo-Saxon remains of some importance. (fn. 4) The old parish of Fletton was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1760, (fn. 5) the award being enrolled on the Close Rolls at the Public Record Office. (fn. 6)
The manor of FLETTON is said to have been given to the Abbey of Peterborough by Leuiua de London, an important benefactress of the abbey, but Edward the Confessor attempted to obtain possession of it. Abbot Leuric, therefore, paid 8 gold marks to the king to safeguard its possession to the abbey. (fn. 7) The abbey held it in 1086, but there is a suggestion in the 'claims' at the end of the Huntingdonshire Domesday that at some period after the reign of Edward the Confessor part of Fletton had been taken from the abbey. (fn. 8) The manor had originally been assessed as 3 hides, (fn. 9) but certainly before 1086 this had been raised to 5 hides. (fn. 10) In the 12th century (1125–28), the abbey held it in demesne. There were 6 full villeins and 10 half villeins, who paid an annual rent of 10s. and worked for their lord one day a week from Michaelmas to Easter, besides doing other works. They paid to the charity of St. Peter 4 sheep, 5 ells of cloth, 10 dishes, 200 loaves, and 10 hens, as well as a customary payment of 42 hens, 11 geese, 300 eggs. Four cotters [cotsetes] and two freemen completed the list of tenants. (fn. 11) Abbot William de Woodford (1295–99) released to the monks a custom called wether silver amounting to 16s. 6d. paid from the manors of Fletton and Alwalton; the cellarer was to retain 3s. 2d. and the remaining mark was to be given, half to the convent and half to the poor. (fn. 12) Abbot Andrew (1194–99) gave Fletton manor to the monks' kitchen, but reserved the aid paid at Michaelmas. (fn. 13) This aid—which, together with the aid paid from Alwalton manor, was valued at 20 marks a year—was released to the kitchen by Abbot Robert de Lindsey. (fn. 14) At the time of the dissolution of the abbey, the rents and profits of the manor, amounting to over 25l., pertained to the office of the cellarer. (fn. 15) Abbot Benedict (1177–1193) withdrew his tenants from suit at the Hundred court of Norman Cross (fn. 16) and presumably established the view of frankpledge at Fletton, which was claimed by the abbot in 1278. (fn. 17) In lieu of suit to the Hundred court, the manors of Fletton and Alwalton paid an annual rent of 20s. to the Abbey of Thorney, towards the rent paid by the latter abbey to the Crown for the farm of the Hundred. From about 1200 to 1292, this rent was withdrawn by Peterborough and payment was resumed only after lawsuits between the Exchequer and Thorney Abbey and between the two abbeys. (fn. 18) After the dissolution of Thorney Abbey, the rent was paid to the Crown until 1576, when Elizabeth granted it to Sir Christopher Hatton. (fn. 19) The Abbot of Peterborough also had gallows in Fletton, the chattels of his men condemned as felons and fines arising from murders or other forfeitures of his men, pleas of vetiti namii, the return of writs and the collection of the king's debts in his demesne lands. (fn. 20)
After the dissolution of Peterborough Abbey, Fletton manor remained in the Crown, (fn. 21) and was sold in 1552 by Edward VI to Edward Fynes, Lord Clinton and Saye, together with all the rights and liberties formerly held by the abbot, to hold by military service. (fn. 22) In the same year, Lord Clinton alienated it to Roger Forrest, (fn. 23) who died seised of the manor in 1554 and was succeeded by his nephew John Forrest. (fn. 24) William Forrest, apparently John's successor, sold it in 1595 to Edward Apsley, (fn. 25) who obtained a new grant from the Crown in 1601. (fn. 26) He died in 1609, and left the manor to trustees to be sold for the payment of his debts. (fn. 27) The sale did not take place before 1614, when parliamentary powers were applied for. (fn. 28) In 1630 it appears to have come into the possession of Francis Saye. (fn. 29) It next passed to Onslow Winch, (fn. 30) whose son Sir Humphrey Winch, bt., (fn. 31) sold it in 1676 to Sir Thomas Proby, bt. (fn. 32) John Proby, the first Lord Carysfort, was lord of the manor in 1759, (fn. 33) and his son and successor owned it in 1781. (fn. 34) By 1854 it had passed to Nathaniel Hibbert, and in 1885 and 1894 it belonged to the trustees of the late Thomas Mills. Mr. James Bristow acquired it before 1903, and he died in 1926, when the estate was apparently sold and the manorial rights lost. At the present day, most of the land in Fletton is owned by the various brick-making companies with works there.
A mill is mentioned, in general terms, in the grant of the manor of Fletton in 1601 to Edward Apsley. (fn. 35) In 1594, however, a windmill was sold by William Forrest, the lord of the manor, and his wife Elizabeth to William Hewett, (fn. 36) who died seised of it in the same year, leaving his son John, a minor, as his heir. (fn. 37) In 1623 John Fletton and his wife Frances were seised of a windmill. (fn. 38) The Fletton family, who are first mentioned about 1278, (fn. 39) were said in the middle of the 17th century to have been lords of the manor at one time; (fn. 40) presumably they were leaseholders under Peterborough Abbey.
The Bridge fair held on 1–3 October by the Abbey of Peterborough and their successors the Dean and Chapter, though always looked upon as a fair belonging to Peterborough, was, and still is, actually held in the parish of Fletton. (fn. 41) In 1601, Queen Elizabeth granted tolls of market and fairs, with the manor, to Sir Edward Apsley. (fn. 42) Actually, however, the fair did not belong to the lords of Fletton, but certain tolls were paid to them for leave to erect booths, stalls, etc. In 1759, these tolls amounted to some 3l. a year, and on the inclosure of the parish it was arranged that this amount was to be paid by the Dean and Chapter, who were to choose a parcel of land, not exceeding 50 acres, to be set aside for the fair ground. (fn. 43)
The church of ST. MARGARET consists of a chancel (28½ ft. by 13 ft.), organ chamber and vestry on the north (19 ft. by 16½ ft.), nave (40¾ ft. by 14 ft.), north aisle (53½ ft. by 16 ft.), south aisle (40¾ ft. by 7 ft.), west tower (8 ft. by 8 ft.) and south porch. The walls are of rubble with stone dressings, and the roofs are covered with stone-slates, slates and lead.
The church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), but this church was evidently rebuilt in stone as an aisleless nave and chancel, probably of the same size as the present, c. 1150. Some fifteen years later a north chapel and north aisle were added and the chancel arch rebuilt. About 1300 a south aisle and west tower were added, the north aisle was perhaps rebuilt and the vestry built; possibly at this time the wide western arch of the north arcade was built in the place of two semicircular arches. (fn. 44) The church was restored in 1872, when the porch was rebuilt; and again in 1901, when the north aisle was rebuilt, widened and extended to the east end of the chancel, absorbing the former north chapel and vestry. In 1917 the spire was struck by lightning and the upper part was rebuilt.
The mid 12th-century chancel has a three-light east window of c. 1300, with modern reticulated tracery. In the north wall is a late 12th-century arcade of two arches of two chamfered orders resting on a circular column having a scalloped capital with cruciform abacus and a moulded base, and plain responds. A square-headed doorway of c. 1300 opens into the vestry. In the south wall are two early 14th-century two-light windows with pointed heads and reticulated tracery; a single-light low-side window with a square head; a blocked original window visible on the outside only; and a recess for a piscina but without a drain. The chancel has original clasping buttresses at the angles and a shallow buttress on the south, the latter having a modern buttress built against it; two original string-courses, and an original nebuly corbel-table below the eaves. The late 12th-century chancel arch is two-centred and of two plain orders resting on responds having semicircular attached shafts under the inner order and detached shafts at the sides; the capitals of the former are scalloped and of the latter carved with the water leaf, and all have moulded bases.
The modern organ chamber and vestry, which are under one continuous roof with the north aisle, incorporate the east wall of the vestry of c. 1300, in which is a square-headed three-light window; the north wall has a modern square-headed two-light window and a plain doorway; and the west wall of the vestry has a cruciform loop with lobed ends. There is no structural division between the organ chamber and the aisle.
The mid 12th-century nave seems originally to have had a north arcade of four bays of semicircular arches of two slightly chamfered orders on circular columns with scalloped cruciform capitals and moulded bases, and similar half columns at the responds, but about 1300 one column seems to have been destroyed and the space of the two arches supported by it was spanned by a wide sprawling arch of two chamfered orders.
The south arcade, c. 1300, has three segmental pointed arches of two chamfered orders on tall octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases, and similar half columns at the responds. The capitals are of irregular shape following the lines of the orders of the arches. The clearstory, c. 1300, has three square-headed two-light windows on each side. The rood-stairs are in the north-east corner, the lower doorway being in the north aisle, and the upper doorway has been destroyed and the opening in the wall blocked up.
The modern north aisle has five square-headed windows in the north wall, two two-lights and three three-lights; and a reset rectangular locker. The old north wall was dilapidated and propped up with brick sloping buttresses and had three square-headed three-light windows.
The south aisle, c. 1300, has an original three-light east window. The south wall has an original squareheaded three-light window; two similar windows, but modern; and an original south doorway with a pointed arch of two continuous chamfered orders. The west window is similar to that in the east wall.
The west tower, c. 1300, has a pointed tower arch of three chamfered orders, the inner order resting on semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals. The west window is a two-light with a quatrefoil in the head; and in the stage above is a square-headed single-light window. The belfry windows are twolights with pointed heads and a pierced spandrel. The tower has buttresses square with the angles and is finished with a moulded cornice with ballflower ornament, from which rises an octagonal broach spire having two tiers of lights, the lower two-lights and the upper single-lights, both on the cardinal faces. There are no stairs.
There are three bells, inscribed: (1) s. palle; (2) Omnia fiant ad gloriam Dei. 1620; (3) William Wates made me 1590. The first by Edward Newcome, the second by Tobias Norris I, and the third by Wm. Watts.
Built into the south wall of the chancel (inside) are two pre-Conquest stones, perhaps 10th-century, with carved figures of an angel and a saint under round arches. (fn. 45) Built into the south-eastern clasping buttress are six other stones, two with figures of angels and scroll work, one with three saints' heads, one with grotesque animals and interlaced scrolls, one with a man between two grotesque animals and scrolls, and one with interlaced scrolls. These carvings are very similar to those of Abbot Hedda's monument and the stone in the south transept of Peterborough Cathedral, and are probably of the 8th century; the stones are reddened in places, perhaps due to fire. On the same buttress is a 12th-century stone carved with a foliated cross and saltire.
In the churchyard, at the west end of the tower, is a late 12th-century cross with broken wheel-head and richly carved stem, the western face inscribed 'radulfi filivs [w]ielm,' and two medallions containing foliage and animal forms; the eastern face with a large figure, perhaps the Agnus Dei, and two medallions; the sides with foliage. There are also fragments of two coffins, and a 13th-century coped slab with cross.
In the rectory garden is a stone obelisk inscribed: CUI PLACET CURAS AGERE SÆCULORUM DE QUERCUBUS COGITET CONSERENDIS PPRE MDCCLXXVII. The upper part, upon the back of which the inscription has been cut, is an early 14th-century coped and tapering coffin-lid with a cross on a calvary. It is said to have been set up by Peter Peckard, rector at the time.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to Mary, daughter of the Rev. John Wakelin, formerly Rector, no date; the Rev. William Judd Upton, formerly Rector, d. 1894, and Mary Elizabeth Edwina his wife, d. 1902; Annie Frances Hume Dowman, wife of the Rector, d. 1923; in the nave, to Henry William Page, d. 1900; and floor slabs to Mary (Tompson), wife of the Rev. John Wakelin, Rector, d. 1812, and Jane their infant daughter; Catherine, wife of Robert Wright, d. 1812, and Robert Wright, d. 1818; in the north aisle, to John Henery, d. 1832; in the south aisle, to Edward Elgie Page, son of Henry William Page, d. 1890; Henry Bates, d. 1922; and glass window as a War Memorial, 1914–18; in the tower, floor slabs to the Rev. John Wakelin, Rector, d. 1759, and Martha his daughter, d. 1759; Ann, relict of the Rev. John Wakelin, d. 1773, and Jane their daughter, d. 1770.
The church plate consists of a silver cup hallmarked for 1897–8; a silver paten similarly hallmarked and inscribed 'To the Glory of God and in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen this service for Holy Communion was Presented to St. Margaret's Fletton Parish Church by the Communicants. 1897. Charles Dowman, Rector. H. W. Page, W. E. Streatfield, Churchwardens'; a silver-mounted glass flagon similarly hall-marked. (fn. 46)
The church was held with the manor (q.v.) by Peterborough Abbey before 1086. It was confirmed to the abbot and convent by Pope Eugenius III in 1146. (fn. 47) The advowson of the rectory belonged to the abbey until its dissolution (fn. 48) and then passed to the subsequent lords of the manor. (fn. 49) In 1829, the year after his death, the trustees of John Joshua Proby, 2nd Lord Carysfort, presented to the rectory, but they apparently sold it to Earl Fitzwilliam, who presented in 1830. (fn. 50) He left his Huntingdonshire property to his younger son, the Hon. George Wentworth Fitzwilliam; (fn. 51) the executors of his son, Mr. G. C. Wentworth Fitzwilliam, are now patrons. In 1279 an ancient endowment of a messuage and 8 acres of land was attached to the church. (fn. 52)
A guild, of unknown origin and dedication, existed at the Dissolution of the Chantries, in connection with the parish church. (fn. 53) It was possibly already in existence in 1278, when Thomas the Chaplain held a toft of land with a curtilage, for which he paid an annual rent of 2s. to the Abbot of Peterborough. (fn. 54) In 1547, the endowment of the guild consisted of 'le ley' and five parcels of meadow, in the hands of the churchwardens. (fn. 55) In 1570, Elizabeth granted this land to Hugh Councell and Robert Pistor to hold in socage of the manor of East Greenwich. (fn. 56)
The William Judd Upton Fund.— William Judd Upton, by will proved 22 December 1919, bequeathed £350 to the rector and churchwardens for the poor of the parish. This sum was invested in the purchase of £411 2s. 11d. 5 per cent. War Stock, in the name of the Official Trustees and the interest is distributed to the poor in coals and food at Christmas.
Mary Walsham, by will dated 19 January 1744, gave to the minister, churchwardens and overseers £100, the interest to be applied for the benefit of the poor of the parish. To this amount was added £10, given by John Henry.
William Charlton bequeathed to the minister, churchwardens and overseers £10, the interest to be distributed among the poor of the parish; and Charlton Wyldbore, by his will dated 2 August 1764, after reciting that he had in his hands the said sum of £10 bequeathed by his uncle William Charlton, directed that his nephew John Wright should, so soon as he came of age, assure the payment of 20s. a year to be distributed amongst poor housekeepers of the parish. This rentcharge is now secured upon a farm at Stanground near Peterborough.
Robert Wright, by will proved 14 April 1818, gave the sum of £10, the interest to be distributed by the minister and churchwardens among the poor of the parish. This sum, together with the funds arising from the charities of Mary Walsham and John Henry, was invested in the purchase of £122 15s. 11d. 4½ per cent. War Stock, and the interest, together with the rentcharge of £1 per annum, is distributed in coal to the poor of the parish.