A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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The parish of Stanground formerly lay partly in Huntingdonshire and partly in the Isle of Ely, and formerly included the modern parish of Farcet, which was formed in 1885. (fn. 1) In 1886, a detached portion of Stanground at Kingsdelph and Eight Roods was added to Farcet parish. (fn. 2) In 1905, the Huntingdonshire portion of Stanground was formed into the separate civil parish of South Stanground and placed under the Old Fletton Urban District Council. (fn. 3) The old parish contained a large area of marsh land and fen which is now drained.
In the 17th century Stanground marsh was drained under the Earl of Bedford's scheme. (fn. 4) The rights of common in a meadow called Northey in Stanground were vested in the Commissioners for Whittlesea in the Isle of Ely, and the parish was inclosed in 1801. (fn. 5) A considerable number of prehistoric implements have been found, the most important being at Horsey Bridge and in the old course of the River Nene, which crosses the parish at this point. (fn. 6) A Roman pottery kiln was found in 1908, near the Peterborough pumping station. (fn. 7) The church and village of Stanground stand on higher ground, about 23 to 34 ft. above Ordnance datum, above Stanground Lode, about a mile and a quarter from Peterborough East Station. Stanground Manor House was totally destroyed by fire in 1899.
Richard Kidder (1633–1703), who became Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1691, in place of Bishop Ken, was vicar of Stanground in 1659. He was ejected in 1662, not because he objected to episcopacy or the Prayer Book, but because he refused to subscribe to the amended Prayer Book before he had seen it. (fn. 8)
A ferry at Horsey on the old river Nene is mentioned in 1555, when it was let at farm to William Butler. (fn. 9) On Horsey Hill there are earthworks which are the remains of a Cromwellian fort. (fn. 10)
The manor of STANGROUND was said in the 13th century to have been granted to the Abbey of Thorney by King Edgar, (fn. 11) but it is not enumerated amongst the possessions of the abbey in his charter. In the time of Edward the Confessor it certainly was in the possession of the abbey, (fn. 12) which held it as a demesne manor in frankalmoin until the Dissolution. (fn. 13) As was customary with Thorney manors, the site of the manor and the demesne lands were let at farm; (fn. 14) the system was continued after the manor had come to the Crown, and in 1555 the farmer was Sir Edward Walsingham. (fn. 15) Edward VI granted the manor to Princess Elizabeth in 1550, (fn. 16) but when she came to the throne she granted a lease of it in 1562 to Sir Walter Mildmay for 60 years. (fn. 17) In 1576 she granted the reversion of it in fee to Sir Christopher Hatton, (fn. 18) but presumably he relinquished the grant, since in 1588 Sir Walter Mildmay himself obtained the reversion in fee, the queen reserving the rent of 39s. 4d. issuing from lands granted to Sir Francis Walsingham. (fn. 19) On the death of his son and heir, Sir Anthony Mildmay, in 1618, it passed to his daughter and heir Mary, wife of Sir Francis Fane, afterwards Earl of Westmoreland, (fn. 20) and her descendants held it until 1674, (fn. 21) when Charles, Earl of Westmoreland, sold it to Sir John Brownlow, bt. (fn. 22) The 5th baronet, another Sir John, was created Viscount Tyrconnel in 1718. (fn. 23) He died in 1754, leaving his sister Anne, the wife of Sir Richard Cust, bt., as his heir. (fn. 24) Her son Brownlow Cust was created Baron Brownlow of Belton in 1776 (fn. 25) and in 1801 was lord of Stanground manor. (fn. 26) He had then sold a considerable amount of land in the parish to various freeholders, amongst whom Earl Fitzwilliam was the purchaser of nearly 600 acres. (fn. 27) He seems to have sold the manor to Sampson, Baron Eardley of Spalding, who died in 1824, leaving three daughters and co-heirs: Maria, wife of Lord Saye and Sele; Charlotte, wife of Sir Culling Smith, bart.; and Selena, widow of Walbanke Childers. (fn. 28) It had passed to William Lawrence, of Peterborough, by 1854, but was in the hands of the present owner, Mr. Edward Westwood, in 1884.
The gallows at Yaxley served for all the Abbot of Thorney's manors, but there were tumbrels at Stanground in the 13th century, and he had waifs both at Stanground and Farcet. (fn. 29) He paid 20s. to the sheriff for view of frankpledge in Stanground, among other manors, but in 1285 he successfully claimed that of ancient right he paid nothing for the views in his manors. He also claimed to be quit of suit to the county and of sheriff's aid, under a charter of Henry II, (fn. 30) but in 1445, in view of the damage suffered by the abbey by floods, he obtained a grant of freedom from suit in the county for his lands in Stanground, besides other privileges. (fn. 31) The villeins of Stanground in the late 13th century had common of pasture in Kingsdelph, a marsh appurtenant to the townships of Whittlesea and Ramsey. (fn. 32) In 1302, Edward I granted the abbot the right of free warren in the demesnes of Stanground, (fn. 33) in part satisfaction of 500 marks paid for the king to the Pope. Free warren was included in the grants of the manor (q.v.) made to Princess Elizabeth (fn. 34) and subsequently by her when queen. A view of frankpledge was held at Stanground in 1540. (fn. 35) In 1279 there was a separate fishery in the Brodde Ey appurtenant to the manor of Stanground, worth 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 36) At the dissolution of Thorney Abbey, the fisheries of the manor were let at farm for £11 6s. 8d. (fn. 37) In 1555 the farmer was William Godfrey, who held the moiety of the water near Stanground, from the Cross in the Brodde Ey by Peterborough to the lode's end, a water and wear called Park Wear, and waters called Swarlake, Cock delf and Croseleme, lying in Peterborough, Stanground and Whittlesea. (fn. 38) The waters and fisheries were included in the grants of the manor (q.v.) to Sir Walter Mildmay.
In 1086, there were 6 acres of underwood at Stanground. (fn. 39) Henry II afforested all the county of Huntingdonshire, including the Abbot of Thorney's grove at Stanground, and in the forest inquest of 1300 it was returned that this had caused great damage to the abbot. (fn. 40) After the dissolution of Thorney Abbey, all woods were reserved to the Crown when the manor (q.v.) was alienated.
A windmill was appurtenant to Stanground manor in 1278 and was worth 20s. a year. (fn. 41)
The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST consists of a chancel (30¾ ft. by 19 ft.), with north chapel (17¾ ft. by 14½ ft.) and north vestry (13 ft. by 9 ft.), nave (53½ ft. by 20¼ ft.), north aisle (14½ ft. wide), south aisle (14 ft. wide), west tower (11 ft. by 11 ft.), and south porch. The walls are of coursed rubble with stone dressings, and the roofs are covered with slates and lead.
The church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), but nothing remains of this early church. A 12th-century capital turned upside down under the north-west respond of the nave (fn. 42) may represent a 12th-century nave and aisle, and many of the stones of the south arcade indicate a 13th-century south aisle. The whole church was rebuilt, probably upon a larger scale than before, in the first decade of the 14th century. The rood-stairs were added in the 15th century. The church was restored in 1872, the south porch rebuilt in 1876; the top of the spire was rebuilt in 1895, and the tower and spire were restored in 1907. Except where otherwise stated, all the features are of c. 1300–10.
The chancel has a five-light east window with plain intersecting tracery. The north wall has a doorway into the vestry; a 15th-century doorway and a modern opening and a squint into the north chapel; a rectangular locker and another recess. The south wall has three tall two-light windows with plain spandrels in their heads; a three-light low-side window; a priests' doorway with segmental head; a double piscina with traceried head under a pointed arch; and triple sedilia under a segmental-pointed arch.
The chancel arch has two hollow-chamfered orders on similar responds having moulded capitals and bases; on the south of it is a recess with a pointed head and moulded jambs. At the north-east angle is the 15th-century rood-staircase in a turret corbelled out above the floor, and lit by a small cross slit. The roof is modern and covered with slates; until 1872 it was a flat roof covered with lead. (fn. 43)
The north chapel, now used as an organ chamber, has a three-light window with a segmental-pointed head in the north wall. In the south wall are the doorway and opening to the chancel, already mentioned, and in the south-west corner is the lower door of the rood-stairs. There is no structural division between the chapel and the north aisle, but the chapel is inclosed on the west by the lower part of a 15th-century oak screen of four bays with moulded framings and tracery panels.
The nave has an arcade of four bays on each side, the arches being two-centred and of two chamfered orders, and all rest on octagonal columns and semioctagonal responds except at the east end on the south side where the arch rests on a 13th-century moulded corbel. On the north side the capitals of the east respond and the next two columns have 14th-century carved foliage; the western column has a moulded capital following the shape of the arch, and the west respond has a semi-octagonal moulded capital; the bases are all moulded of c. 1300–10, that of the west respond rests upon an inverted 12th-century respond capital.
The south arcade is largely of 13th-century material re-used c. 1300–10, and the springing line of the arches is higher than that on the north. The capitals of the columns are all moulded and follow the shape of the arch, and that of the west respond has some 14thcentury carved foliage; the bases are moulded, of c. 1300–10, except those of the two eastern columns, which are 13th-century water-holding bases. The upper doorway of the rood-stairs is in the north-east corner. On the south side of the chancel arch is a rectangular locker; a modern blocked doorway on the north side once gave access to the pulpit.
The south aisle has in the east and west walls a three-light window similar to that at the west end of the north aisle. The south wall has a three-light window with a segmental-pointed head; a plain doorway of two continuous chamfered orders; a piscina with a trefoiled head; and a segmentalpointed sepulchral arch, below which is a coped slab with a cross at each end and the double-omega ornament. In the east wall are two brackets supported on notch-heads. The east window has a shield of the arms of England in early 14th-century glass.
The west tower has a pointed tower arch of two hollow-chamfered orders on similar responds having semicircular attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases under the lower order. The west window is a two-light with a quatrefoil in the head. In the next stage there is a trefoiled circular window in the north, south and west walls. The belfry windows are of two pointed lights under a two-centred head. The tower has diagonal buttresses at the north-west and south-west angles rising to the full height of the tower and finished with gabled heads. The tower itself is finished with a cornice enriched with ballflowers, and from this springs an octagonal broach spire having two tiers of spire-lights on the cardinal faces, the lower of two lights and the upper of one. There is a slight entasis, particularly towards the top.
The rebuilt south porch has a re-used outer archway of c. 1300–10, with a two-centred arch of two chamfered orders on similar responds having moulded capitals and bases. The side walls have each a quatrefoiled circular window.
The font, c. 1300–1310, has an octagonal bowl with straight sides; its lower edge is a roll-moulding which, on the west and north-east sides, rises very curiously to about halfway up the bowl, and incloses two sunk panels, one with intersecting semicircular arches and the other with two pointed arches. It stands on a central and four smaller circular shafts with moulded capitals and bases, and four outer shafts of trefoiled section also with moulded capitals and bases, the whole standing on an octagonal base with a roll edge.
There are four bells, inscribed: (1) Henry Yeats Smythies B.D. Vicar Josh. Warwick churchwarden 1832; (2) Merorem mestis letis sic leta sonabo. 1617; (3) Merorem mestis letis sic leta sonabo. 1622 E N E H Tobias Norris me fecit; (4) Sarve God and obe thi princes 1588. The first probably by Mears; the second by William Haulsey, of St. Ives; the third by Tobias Norris I; and the fourth by Watts, of Leicester. In 1709 there were four bells. (fn. 44) All the bells were re-hung in a new frame in 1935.
There are two small brass plates on the chancel walls: (1) to Robert Smith, d. 1558, and Alice wife of his son Thomas, d. 1595; and (2) to Elias Petit, Vicar, d. 1634, with coat of arms. On the chancel floor is a large incised slab, much worn but with remains of the calvary at the foot of a central cross, and part of a marginal inscription, '. . . ed qui obiit xiv die mensis Junij Anno Dni. mccccxliii cujus anime propiciet Deus. Amen.' This has been appropriated for Robert Coveney, 1665, and others.
There is a tapered slab in the north chapel, and another in the tower; and a coped slab, already mentioned, in the south aisle. In the churchyard, south of the church are: (1) a coped tapering slab with cross and calvary and the double-omega ornament; (2) a similar slab with a cross at each end and one in the middle; (3) a fragment of another similar slab; (4) a fragment with the double-omega ornament; and (5) a stone coffin found under the south aisle floor in 1907. All 13th century.
Also in the churchyard is a fine 11th or 12th century upright cross known as the Lampass Cross. It has a wheel-head, and shoulder projections at about twothirds of its height. The sides are decorated with a little round-headed arcading and some interlaced work. This cross is said to have stood by the road leading to Farcet, and was found lying across a ditch at the junction of the Farcet and Whittlesea roads in 1865, and removed to the vicarage garden in 1868; it was set up in the churchyard in 1927.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to the Rev. William Forster, S.T.B., Vicar, d. 1679; Catherine wife of William Strong, d. 1816; Margaretta their eldest daughter, d. 1830; Susanna wife of the Rev. William Strong, d. 1835; the Rev. Henry Yeats Smythies, Vicar, d. 1842, and Isabella his relict, d. 1858; the Rev. Robert Cory, B.D., Vicar, d. 1885; the Rev. John Fuller, B.D., Vicar, d. 1897; and War Memorial, 1914–18; floor slabs to Robert Coveney, d. 1665, Thomas Coveney, d. 1684, and Dorothy Sly, d. 1793; the Rev. William Forster, B.D., Vicar, d. 1679; the Rev. William Makernesse, Vicar, d. 1680, and John Chapman, d. 1731; Charles Coveney, d. 169; Thomas Benyon, d. 1691; Alice widow of the Rev. William Forster, d. 1694/5, and her children; Sara wife of Henry Thorn [17th century]; Jane daughter of Robert and Mary Tompson, d. 1711; Mary (Cust) wife of Robert Tompson, d. 1718; Robert Tompson, d. —; the Rev. Samuel Doughty, B.D., Vicar, d. 1720, and Frances his relict, d. 1756; Mary wife of John Sly, d. 1747, and John Sly, d. 1770; John Forster, of Peterborough, d. 1752; Jane Forster, d. 1788, and Amey her sister, d. 1784, daughters of John Forster; — Mewburn, d. 1789, and — his daughter, d. 1788; Thomas William Mewburn, d. 1795, and Mary Ann his daughter, d. 1794; glass window to Susanna Apthorp, d. 1863. In the north chapel, floor slabs to Hannah wife of Carrier Thompson, d. 1752; Carrier Thompson, d. 1757; James Tompson, d. 1768; Katherine relict of Humphry Smythies, d. 1810, and her grandchildren Henry Raymond Smythies, d. 1814, and [Isab]ella Katherine Smythies, d. 1827; the Rev. Henry Yeats Smythies, d. 1842. In the nave, to Margaret Bacon, d. 1927; and floor slab to A.H. 1692. In the north aisle, to the Rev. William Whitehead, Vicar, d. 1754; and floor slabs to W.F.; Sarah Clark, 1755; Rose, wife of George Richardson, d. 1760; John son of John and Ruth —, d. 1764, and another child; George Richardson senior, d. 1771; Ruth Col[e], d. 1779; Eleanor Devie, d. 1781, and the Rev. James Devie, B.D., Vicar, d. 1809; and glass window to Ann, widow of the Rev. Robert Towerson Cory, D.D., Master of Emmanuel Coll., Camb., and her two grandchildren Henrietta and Blanche daughters of the Rev. W. H. Parry, Rector of Bothal, Northumberland, 1857.
The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms, marriages and burials, 27 October 1538 to 30 October 1643, a few baptisms to 1662; (ii) the same, 5 October 1653 to 25 October 1657; (iii) the same, 25 January 1660 to 6 December 1812, marriages end 26 February 1754; (iv) marriages, 19 August 1754 to 15 December 1812.
The church plate consists of: (fn. 45) a cup of Britannia silver, inscribed 'R + S' and 'I + G' and hallmarked for 1703–4; (fn. 46) a silver chalice inscribed 'Omar Ramsden et Alwyn Carr me fecerunt,' hall-marked for 1917–18; a silver paten hall-marked for 1885–6; another hall-marked for 1911–12; and a third for 1917–18; a flagon of Britannia silver, hallmarked for 1856–7, given to the church in 1886; a pewter standing-paten inscribed 'I C' and 'R S'; two pewter plates, one of them inscribed 'I C,' and the other 'I C S'; two pewter flagons. A small fragment of a 13th-century base-metal coffinchalice with a knop, found in a stone coffin under the south aisle in 1907, is preserved in the vicarage.
The church of St. John the Baptist (fn. 47) belonged to the manor of Stanground in 1086, (fn. 48) and the Abbey of Thorney held the advowson until its dissolution. (fn. 49) In 1314 the abbey obtained licence to appropriate the church in mortmain, (fn. 50) but this does not seem to have been done, and a new licence was obtained in 1397. (fn. 51) In 1402, the rectory was appropriated to the abbey (fn. 52) and was assigned to the office of the chamberlain for distribution amongst the monks, (fn. 53) and a vicarage ordained. At the time of the dissolution of the abbey, however, part at least of the great tithes were assigned to the abbot's office. (fn. 54) The rectory was then let at farm for £11 2s. 8d. (fn. 55) a year. It was granted with the manor by Edward VI to Princess Elizabeth in 1550, (fn. 56) and has since been held by the lords of the manor. (fn. 57)
In the confirmation of the possessions of Thorney Abbey by Pope Gregory IX in 1240, no pension is mentioned as payable from Stanground church, (fn. 58) but in 1291 the abbey received £4 13s. 4d. a year. (fn. 59) The same pension appears in the 15th century, (fn. 60) but not at the dissolution of the abbey. (fn. 61)
The church was taxed at £20 in 1291 and 30 marks in 1428. At the Dissolution the value of Stanground and Farcet was £6 6s. 10d. (fn. 62)
The advowson of the vicarage ordained in 1402 (fn. 63) was held by the Abbey of Thorney until its dissolution, (fn. 64) and then passed with the rectory (q.v.) first to Princess Elizabeth and then in 1576 to Sir Walter Mildmay. In 1588, when he had obtained a new grant in fee, (fn. 65) he gave the advowson to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, of which he was the founder, (fn. 66) and the college still owns it. (fn. 67)
The deed by which the vicarage was ordained is preserved at the church; it provided that the abbey was to build a vicarage, with stable and garden, and to distribute £5 a year amongst the poor of the parish. (fn. 68) In 1538, the great tithes of Stanground were leased to the vicar, Andrew Pollard, for life at 12d. a year to increase the vicarage. (fn. 69) Sir Walter Mildmay also further endowed the vicarage in 1588, (fn. 70) possibly with the great tithes of Farcet, which belonged to the vicarage in the following century. (fn. 71) Its value was greatly increased when the plan, begun in 1634, for draining the Fens was carried out. The vicar claimed tithes from the reclaimed land and in 1640 accepted a composition of the annual sum of £25 to be paid by the Countess of Westmoreland. In 1773, further litigation ensued, the vicar finally gaining his case in 1792, after it had been carried to the House of Lords. (fn. 72) In 1801, however, when the parish was inclosed, a further arrangement was made and land was allotted in compensation for all tithes. (fn. 73)
There was a guild of the Holy Trinity at Stanground in the 16th century, to which Robert Gylman made a bequest in 1511, and one of St. John mentioned in 1528. (fn. 74)
Charities of William and Robert Bellamy.—William Bellamy, by his will in 1704, gave to the poor of Stanground a rentcharge of £2 per annum, and Robert Bellamy, by his will in 1779, gave a similar rentcharge for a like purpose. The yearly sum of £4 is now charged upon land in Stanground.
Mary Walsham, by will dated 19 January 1744, gave to the minister, churchwardens and overseers £100 for the benefit of the poor of Stanground. This sum was laid out in the purchase of land which was sold in 1912 and the proceeds invested in £54 14s. 9d. Consols now standing in the name of the Official Trustees.
Poor's Land.—This consists of 3 r. 15 p. of land in Fleet Field and 2 r. 16 p. of land on the Fleets, Stanground, comprised in an inclosure award dated 2 November 1805, and is now let for about £4 10s. per annum.
Rebecca Clarke, by will proved 27 December 1855, gave to the vicar and churchwardens £100, the interest to be distributed in coals to the poor of Stanground. The endowment now consists of £101 11s. 10d. Consols with the Official Trustees.
The Rev. Robert Cory, by will proved 10 April 1885, gave £100 to the vicar to be distributed in coals to the poor of Stanground. The endowment now consists of £134 14s. 6d. Consols with the Official Trustees, and the dividends are applied as directed in the will.
Church Land.—By an inclosure award dated 2 November 1805 an allotment of freehold land containing 1 a. o r. 27 p. was awarded to the minister and churchwardens of Stanground in lieu of some leys of land which had formerly been appropriated for the repairs and service of the church. The land is now let for about £3 12s. per annum, which is carried to the churchwardens' account.
Edward Bellamy, by will dated 12 January 1657, gave to the churchwardens and overseers of Stanground and Farcet a yearly rentcharge of £3 issuing out of his lands in Fletton, the rent to be employed to put out one apprentice yearly in turns, the one year of Farcet and the other year of Stanground. The rentcharge was redeemed in 1925 and the endowment now consists of a sum of £120 Consols with the Official Trustees. The income is applied in accordance with the directions contained in the scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 30 April 1909, under which the charity is now regulated.
Thompson's Charity.—It is recorded on a tablet placed in the church that Robert Thompson, by his will, gave £5 per annum to the poor of Stanground to be paid by his executors. The charity has since been lost, and nothing is now known of it in the parish.