A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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Acumesberie (xi cent.); Alchmundesbiri, Alcmundeberi (xii cent.); Alkemundesbiry, Acmundebiry, Aucmundebury, Aumondebiry Weston (xiii cent.); Alkunbiry, Alconbury cum Weston (xiv cent.); Wode or Wood Weston (xiv-xvii cent.).
Alconbury cum Weston was described as one 'vill' in 1316 (fn. 1) and is still one ecclesiastical parish, but Alconbury and Alconbury Weston are separate for civil purposes. Alconbury comprises an area of 3,797 acres and Alconbury Weston contains 1,735 acres. About half of the whole area is arable and the rest pasture. The soil is clay and the principal crops are cereals and beans. The Alconbury Brook, a tributary of the Ouse, runs from the north-west to the southeast of the parish and then, turning south-west, forms the south-eastern boundary. The land rises from the Brook, where it is about 50 ft. above the Ordnance datum, to about 164 ft. at Alconbury Hill and Common Farm on the north-east side, but on the south-west the rise is more gradual, and except at Weybridge Lodge, where it reaches 163 ft., it is mostly low-lying. The Ermine Street is on the eastern side of the parish, and about a mile to the west of it is the Great North Road, which joins the Ermine Street at Alconbury Hill. Matcham's Bridge carries this road over a tributary of the Alconbury Brook and a little to the west of it is the site of Matcham's Gibbet. (fn. 2)
The fairly large but straggling village of Alconbury is about 300 yds. east of the Great North Road, and ¾ mile from the Ermine Street; the Alconbury Brook runs through the length of it. The church stands at the north end of the village with, a little to the south-east of it, the Manor Farm, an early 17th-century brick house with a later addition on the south-west side. It has mullioned windows and tiled roof. Near the house is an 18th-century brick barn of two stories. The Manor House, probably belonging to the manor of the Rectory, is a timber-framed house of the late 16th century. The north front on to School Lane has an overhanging upper story supported on curved brackets and a large central gable with two smaller projecting gables on the east side of it.
The open space at the point where School Lane joins the village street is known as Maypole Square. The long, narrow green, which is mentioned in 1327, (fn. 3) is at the south-east end of the village street and through the middle of its length flows the Alconbury Brook, which is spanned by a 15th-century bridge of four arches, the eastern arch and the south face of the second arch of which have been rebuilt and the cut-waters on the north side much repaired. Bequests towards the repair of this bridge were made in 1497, and at intervals until 1531. (fn. 4) There are cottages facing the Green on the south-west and north-east sides; many of those on the latter side are timber framed, plastered, with thatched roofs and date from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Alconbury House, built in the early part of the 19th century, stands to the east of the village. It formerly belonged to the Rust family and was apparently let by Mr. G. J. Rust to Mr. James Marshall. After Mr. Rust's death, in 1922, it was bought in 1924 by Mr. Harry J. Fordham, who was killed in a riding accident in 1926, when he was succeeded by his two daughters. The house is surrounded by a well-wooded park from which there are extensive views. The park represents possibly a wood of 82 acres which lay between Monkswood and the demesne wood (one league in circuit) given by King John to Earl David, which descended with the manor. (fn. 5) In 1230 the lord of the manor had licence to assart this wood (fn. 6) and in 1234 and 1310 (fn. 7) he had leave to make it into a park. There is a windmill about a quarter of a mile west of the village which is mentioned in 1278–9. (fn. 8)
Weybridge lies to the south of the parish and is the survival of the King's Forest of that name. There are only two dwellings here, Weybridge Lodge and Weybridge Farm, the modern brick house of which takes the place of a timber-framed house which is now in a dilapidated condition and is used for storage purposes. It stands on a moated site and was built in the latter part of the 16th century. It has a tiled roof and a 17th-century addition on the north side. The custody of this house was granted in 1617 to Sir Oliver Cromwell of Hinchingbrooke. (fn. 9)
Alconbury Weston is about ¾ mile north-west of Alconbury on a road running west. The houses are built along both sides of the road, and the Alconbury Brook runs beside the road through the village. The Great North Road passes over the brook at the south-east end of the village by a brick bridge, and a footpath crosses the brook at the north-west end by a bridge with a timber superstructure, the central pier and the abutments of which are said to be built of stone from Copmanford church. (fn. 10) There are several 17th-century cottages, and on the west side of the road, north-west of the bridge, is a 16thcentury timber-framed house with projecting upper story. A cross is mentioned here in 1278–9. (fn. 11)
A weekly market on Thursday and a yearly fair on the vigil, feast and morrow of St. John the Baptist and six following days, granted to John de Segrave and his heirs for his manor of Wood Weston or Alconbury Weston, in 1304, (fn. 12) seem to have been transferred to Alconbury. The fair was abolished in 1872, when it was said to have been held for 'pedlars wares'; the remembrance of it, however, survives in the village feast on 24 June, still called 'the Fair.'
In Hermitage Wood, to the east of the hamlet, is a moated site; whether this has any relation to the hermitage which existed at Alconbury Weston in the 14th century (fn. 13) is uncertain. It has been said that there was a chapel dedicated to St. Anne at Alconbury Hill, (fn. 14) but no documentary evidence of it has been found. The statement evidently arose from a drawing of St. Andrew's church, Sawtry, by Grimm (c. 1810) in the British Museum which is wrongly inscribed as 'St. Anne's Chapel near Alconbury Hill.' (fn. 15) Nicholas Godsowle, of Wodeweston, chaplain, is mentioned in 1308, but it is not stated where he served. (fn. 16)
The Church Mission Room at Alconbury Weston, built in 1878, is the property of the vicar of Alconbury. There is a Baptist chapel at the south end of the hamlet, which was built in 1855. The children attend the schools at Alconbury.
There was an Inclosure Award in 1791. (fn. 17)
Beside the place-names given above, mention may be made of Thorenhill, Wichelgoore, Widenolslade, Rogersholm (xiii cent.); (fn. 18) Schottwood, Stokkyng, Scoles wood, Emmeshook (xiv cent.); (fn. 19) Conscience Hole, Gallycroft, Hallowes and Inditch (1650), (fn. 20) all in Alconbury.
Fourteenth-century names occuring in Alconbury Weston are: Porteweye, Calpedemere, Heremaneswong, Langthornhub, Willewelle, Romeresheved in le Hoo, Long Forest, Stangate, Gosehorn, Plokecesok, Wodepolholm, Estmaneford, Haywardesgore, Wydenhale Slade, le Eststockyng and Wolleymere. (fn. 21)
The manor of ALCONBURY-CUMWESTON (fn. 22) belonged to the king in 1086, when 10 hides in Alconbury and its berewick, Gidding, were assessed. The soke of Thurning was appurtenant to Alconbury, and Eustace the Sheriff held it in demesne, together with his lands in the present Alconbury Weston, Gidding and Winwick (Hunts) and in Luddington (Northants). There is, however, no further mention of any dependence of these places on Alconbury-cum-Weston. Like all the demesne of the Crown in Huntingdonshire, except Godmanchester, Alconbury, by 1086, was in the custody of Ranulph, Ilger's brother, who held the manor of Everton, and in or before 1091 succeeded Eustace as sheriff of Huntingdonshire. (fn. 23)
The manor remained with the Crown (fn. 24) until the end of the 12th century, when it was granted to John Lupus, chamberlain of the Emperor of Germany, but before 1199 he was disseised of the manor and his goods sold. (fn. 25) In that year the men of Alconbury gave 40 marks for having the vill at farm, (fn. 26) and two years later they paid for having it as in the time of Richard I. (fn. 27) In 1203–4 King John gave 10 librates of land in Alconbury and 10 in Brampton to David, Earl of Huntingdon, (fn. 28) younger brother of William the Lion of Scotland, as 2 knights' fees. (fn. 29) After David's death in 1219 the custody of his son and heir John, Earl of Huntingdon (q.v.), together with his lands in Alconbury and Brampton, were granted to his maternal uncle Ranulph, Earl of Chester. (fn. 30)
During the minority of John le Scot, in 1219–20, Stephen de Segrave, Justiciar of England, received a grant of Alconbury during the king's pleasure, (fn. 31) and between 1230 and 1233 John alienated Alconbury in fee to Stephen de Segrave, (fn. 32) retaining the overlordship, which descended with the neighbouring manor of Brampton. (fn. 33) The last mention of the overlordship is in 1375, (fn. 34) after which it passed to the Crown. Following this grant the Crown attempted to regain possession of the manor on the ground that it had only been granted to Earl David until the king should give him other lands in exchange. (fn. 35) Stephen, whose grandfather held Seagrave (Leics) in 1166, became Chief Justiciar in succession to Hubert de Burgh in 1232. He was one of the most unpopular favourites of the king and the barons showed their dislike by burning Alconbury in 1234. He was in disgrace at the time of the above suit, but he managed to retain his land and regain the royal favour. On his death in 1241 (fn. 36) this manor was granted in dower to his second wife Ida, sister of his overlord Henry de Hastings, (fn. 37) with reversion to his son and heir Gilbert. In 1247 Ida married Hugh Pecche, (fn. 38) her brother's steward. (fn. 39) Sir Hugh Pecche was a rebel follower of Hastings in 1264, when the manor of Alconbury was seized by Sir Reginald de Grey, who still held it in 1265. (fn. 40) Hugh Pecche and Ida regained possession and were holding in 1285. (fn. 41) Gilbert Segrave, son of Stephen, a judge, died in 1254 and was succeeded by Nicholas his son, (fn. 42) a strong supporter of Simon de Montfort, who, however, afterwards returned to the king's favour. He was summoned as a baron to the Shrewsbury Parliament of 1283, (fn. 43) and died in 1295 seised of the manor. (fn. 44) John, his son, the second baron, died in 1325; his son Stephen survived only a few months, leaving a son John aged 9 years (fn. 45) and a widow, Alice, who received Alconbury in dower. (fn. 46) John married Margaret, daughter and heir of Thomas, Earl of Norfolk. Their daughter and heir Elizabeth married John, Lord Mowbray of Axholm, (fn. 47) who died seised of Alconbury in 1368, leaving a son and heir John, a minor, (fn. 48) created in 1377 Earl of Nottingham, and a younger son Thomas, who succeeded John in 1382. (fn. 49) Thomas was created Earl of Nottingham in 1383 and Duke of Norfolk in 1397. After the latter's death in 1400, (fn. 50) his widow Elizabeth and her fourth husband Robert Goushill, kt., held one-third of this manor as dower. (fn. 51) Her son Thomas, Earl Marshal, but never styled Duke of Norfolk, predeceased her, having been beheaded in 1405 at the age of 19 for participation in Scrope's rising. (fn. 52) His widow, Constance, died seised in 1437. (fn. 53) She had married as her second husband John, son of Reginald, Lord Grey of Ruthin, who was returned as lord in 1428. (fn. 54) John, brother and heir of her first husband, died in 1432, having been restored to the Dukedom of Norfolk in 1424. (fn. 55) His son and heir John died seised of Alconburycum-Weston in 1461, (fn. 56) and was succeeded by his son John, who died in 1476, leaving a daughter Anne, aged 4 years. (fn. 57) Anne was forthwith married to Richard, Duke of York, second son of Edward IV, who was created Duke of Norfolk and Earl Marshal (fn. 58) and murdered in the Tower in 1483. Anne's mother, Elizabeth Duchess of Norfolk, received Alconburycum-Weston as dower (fn. 59) in 1488, with reversion under settlement by Anne's father to William, son of James, Lord Berkeley, and Isabel, daughter of Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 60) William, who was created Earl of Nottingham in 1483, and Marquess of Berkeley in January 1488–9, settled Alconbury in 1488 and died in 1492. (fn. 61) He was succeeded by Maurice his brother, (fn. 62) who was called simply 'esquire,' and died in 1506. (fn. 63) He left a son Maurice 'esquire' who had licence of entry in 1507, (fn. 64) and is said to have been summoned to Parliament as a baron but never took his seat. He died seised in 1523, his brother Thomas the great grazier in 1533, and Thomas, son and heir of Thomas the grazier, in 1534. Henry, Lord Berkeley, posthumous son of the latter Thomas, was compelled by debts to lease this manor, (fn. 65) and sold it in 1600 to Sir John Spencer, kt., of Althorp, for £4,000. (fn. 66) He died seised in 1610, when his heir was his daughter Elizabeth, wife of William, Lord Compton. (fn. 67) William was created Earl of Northampton in 1618 and died in 1630. (fn. 68) Elizabeth died in 1632 and her son Spencer, Earl of Northampton, succeeded. (fn. 69) He was killed fighting on the king's side at Hopton Heath in March 1643. His son James, Earl of Northampton, (fn. 70) conveyed the manor in 1655 to John Bedell, (fn. 71) who was described as lord of the manor in 1656 and 1660. (fn. 72) In 1705, William Hanbury and Frances his wife conveyed the manor to Charles Sowning, (fn. 73) and three years later (the Rev.) Robert Bragge had a grant from Edward Salwey and John Basnett. (fn. 74) Robert Bragge, M.D., was lord from 1738 to 1755; Robert Bragge succeeded him and retained the manor until it passed in 1778 to Sir John Chapman, bart., (fn. 75) son of Sir William, first baronet, Lord Mayor of London. (fn. 76) It was then acquired by Robert Lathropp, and in 1781 it was held by Robert Booth (fn. 77) of Huntingdon, fourth son of John Booth of Theobalds (Herts). Robert died in 1798, leaving a son Robert, a minor, who became a clergyman and held the manor (fn. 78) until 1840, after which it passed to James Rust, lord in 1841, who in 1873 held 1,273 acres here. (fn. 79) He died in 1875 and was succeeded by his nephew, George John Rust, who died in 1922. The manor has since been purchased by Mr. R. H. Edleston, the present owner. (fn. 80)
Like other lords of manors which had been ancient demesne of the Crown, the lord of Alconbury took tallage whenever the king tallaged his demesnes, and he had gallows, view of frankpledge, fines, and services from free tenants, sokemen and cottars. (fn. 81) Leyrwyte and merchet are mentioned and the tenure of borough english is found. (fn. 82) A court leet and court baron are specified in the transfers of 1655 and 1709. In 1302 a grant was made to John de Segrave and his heirs of free warren in their demesne lands here. (fn. 83)
Henry II granted to Merton Priory, Surrey, which held the rectory, (fn. 84) 50 acres of assarts at Alconbury, (fn. 85) which became the RECTORY MANOR. This would be the land in Weybridge forest held by the priory. (fn. 86) Richard I granted and Henry III confirmed to the canons soc, sac and all other liberties in all their lands, and permission to enclose the 3 acres of wood they held in Alconbury, (fn. 87) in the forest. In 1259 they had leave to assart and cultivate this land. (fn. 88) They held 2 carucates of land here independent of the Segrave fee in 1285, when the right of the priory to gallows and view of frankpledge was questioned, and the juries of the hundreds of Leightonstone and Normancross stated that there were gallows at Alconbury in ancient times, but that they belonged to the Crown manor; the prior was parson of the church, and no parson by reason of his church had the right to gallows. The gallows, it appeared, had been knocked down by an infuriated man forty years before, after a woman had been hanged; and the Crown claimed that having therefore no gallows, the prior could not claim view of frankpledge or its appurtenances. No decision is recorded. The prior had at that time 16 tenants at Alconbury who formed a tithing for view, twice yearly, without the king's servant being present, (fn. 89) and he continued to exercise his judicialia here. (fn. 90) This manor always descended with the advowson (q.v.). In March 1650, as 'the manor of the rectory,' it was granted with the advowson of the church to William Godbid and John Dryhurst, citizens and weavers of London, and Nathaniel Herbert, of Alconbury, under the Act for abolishing deans, prebends, etc. With it were conveyed a windmill, all courts leet and baron and other royalties held by the late dean and chapter of Westminster. (fn. 91) At the Restoration this property was returned to the dean and chapter. (fn. 92)
Merton Priory paid rents to the lord of the lay manor, (fn. 93) and the vicar held an acre by grant of Stephen de Segrave, for keeping a lamp burning in Alconbury Church during service. (fn. 94) The vicar held 191 acres in 1873. (fn. 95)
WEYBRIDGE FOREST (Walberg, Wardeberg, Warburgeberia [xii cent.]; Wauberg [xii-xiii cent.]; Wabrig [xv-xvi cent.]; Waybridge, Weybridge [xvi-xvii cent.]) was a royal forest, and extended into Alconbury, Brampton and Ellington; it was perhaps formed from the 36 hides 'in Brampton' (q.v.) mentioned in 1086. One hide of land in Ellington (q.v.) was waste because of the king's forest in 1086, and was assessed with Weybridge later by order of Henry II. (fn. 96) Henry I dated a writ from his wood here about 1110. (fn. 97) The boundaries of the 'hays' of Weybridge and Harthay in Brampton (q.v.), both already afforested, were perambulated in 1154, 1225 and 1301. (fn. 98)
The foresters of Weybridge are mentioned in 1227, (fn. 99) the warden in 1303. (fn. 100) The wardenship was given to Lord North in the 16th century, (fn. 101) and by James I to his favourite, Robert (Carr), Earl of Somerset. (fn. 102) By that time the forest must have diminished considerably in area; part of it was sold by Lord Berkeley, by mischance, with his manor of Alconbury in 1600, and he was forced to give James I composition for a close of 480 acres, part of which was called 'Great Sartfeild,' and other lands claimed by the king as parcel of his 'forests of Sapley and Weybridge.' (fn. 103) There were 1,229 acres of assarted lands in these two forests in about 1604. (fn. 104) The Crown retained the forest until the 17th century, the wardenship being granted for life to Sir Oliver Cromwell, of Hinchingbrooke, in 1614. (fn. 105) Sir Oliver conveyed his interest to Henry, Earl of Manchester, in 1627, and a week later all the Cromwell interest was surrendered to the Crown. (fn. 106) Possibly the forest was granted to trustees, as in 1632 Nicholas Bacon, and in 1633 Robert Bernard, of Brampton, conveyed their rights in it to Henry, Earl of Manchester. (fn. 107) When Weybridge passed out of the hands of the Crown it ceased to be a forest, and would ordinarily have become a chace, but owing probably to its restricted area, it was known as Weybridge Park. It continued to be the property of the Earls and Dukes of Manchester, and followed the descent of Kimbolton (q.v.) (fn. 108) until 1913, when the Duke of Manchester and his trustees sold the two farms, Weybridge Farm and Weybridge Lodge Farm, representing the park, to Mr. George Ralph Cunliffe Foster, of Cambridge. In the same year Mr. Foster sold Weybridge Lodge Farm to Dr. Joseph Griffiths, of Cambridge, who still owns it, and Weybridge Farm to Mr. Henry Ringrow, who put it up for auction in 1915.
In 1086 one hide in WESTON, now Alconbury Weston, was held by Gulbert of Eustace the Sheriff. (fn. 109) Like Southoe (q.v.), the caput of Eustace's fee in Huntingdonshire, this hide passed to the Lovetots, who continued to be overlords. (fn. 110) Eustace the Sheriff granted this land to Huntingdon Priory at its foundation, (fn. 111) and Henry III confirmed in 1243. (fn. 112) The priory purchased other tenements here. (fn. 113) After the Dissolution, the lands of the priory were granted as a 'lordship and manor' to John Smith and Richard Duffield in fee. (fn. 114) They have not been traced further, and seem to have merged in the chief manor.
The church of SS. PETER AND PAUL consists of a chancel (41½ ft. by 16½ ft.), nave (63 ft. by 22 ft.), north aisle (13 ft. wide), south aisle (12¾ ft. wide), west tower (12¾ ft. by 12 ft.), and south porch. The walls are of stone rubble, some of them coursed, and others mixed with flint, and all have stone dressings. The roofs are covered with lead.
The church is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), but the numerous early stones built into the walls indicate a stone church here in the 12th century. This church probably had a chancel and an aisled nave, to which a low western tower was added early in the 13th century. About the middle of this century the chancel was rebuilt and widened to the north, and soon afterwards the south aisle was rebuilt; the belfry was added to the tower, or rebuilt, towards the end of the century, and later still the spire was added. Early in the 14th century the nave with its clearstory was rebuilt to correspond with the widened chancel; the north aisle was rebuilt about 1330, and about the same time the south porch was built. Towards the end of the 15th century the walls of the chancel were heightened and a new roof put on, and the aisles were also re-roofed; the nave was re-roofed in the 16th century. The church was re-pewed in 1842. The whole church was restored in 1876, the lower part of the tower being rebuilt in 1877, after everything else was finished, the belfry and spire being needled up while it was being done.
The mid 13th-century chancel has, in the east wall, three equal lancet windows under a continuous label, and having well-moulded two-centred rear-arches carried on grouped detached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. Below the windows, behind the altar, is a 13th-century locker with two rectangular openings rebated for doors; and on either side of it is a large square locker. The side walls each have a wall-arcade of six bays, and a half-bay at each end, having well-moulded two-centred arches carried on detached shafts with moulded capitals and bases, but the western columns replaced by fine moulded corbels supported by boldly carved demi-figures of men. In the north wall under four of the arches are plain lancet windows; and near the west end, behind one of the shafts of the wall-arcade, is a blocked doorway with a trefoiled head. About the middle of the wall is a plain bracket. (fn. 115) In the south wall, under the arches, are an early 14th-century two-light window with a plain spandrel in a two-centred head; two plain lancet windows; a two-light transomed window, c. 1500, with simple tracery in a four-centred head, and having the lower parts of the lights rebated for shutters, the iron hooks of which remain; this last window has taken the place of an earlier lancet, parts of the inner splays of which may still be seen; and it cuts into a blocked doorway similar to that in the north wall; there is also a 14th-century doorway with a two-centred head and continuous moulded jambs. The original buttresses of the chancel are low, and the wall only rose to just above the heads of the windows; it was, however, heightened in the 15th century when the original string-course ornamented with notch-heads was re-used under the later parapet. The east gable is now of low-pitch, but the original string-course, ornamented with carved paterae, has been re-used. The weather moulding of the original steep-pitched roof remains on the east wall of the nave. The late 15th-century low-pitched roof has cambered and moulded tie-beams with jack-legs and braces; there are carved angels with outstretched wings at the feet of the intermediate principals, and carved bosses at the intersection of the timbers. There are faint traces of painted decoration on the head of the blocked south door, but in the 17th century the four Evangelists were portrayed upon the walls. (fn. 116) The mid 13th-century chancel arch is two-centred, of one chamfered order, and rests on semicircular attached shafts with a simple band in the middle and moulded capitals and bases.
The early 14th-century nave has an arcade of four bays on each side, having two-centred arches of two chamfered orders, resting on octagonal columns and semi-octagonal eastern responds with moulded capitals and bases; the western responds are carved corbels. At the eastern end of the north wall is the squareheaded upper doorway of the rood-stairs. The contemporary clearstory has, on each side, four two-light windows with plain spandrels in two-centred heads, which contain some fragments of 14th- and 15thcentury glass. The 16th-century embattled parapet has boldly carved gargoyles. The oak roof, c. 1500, has moulded beams, jack-legs and braces, with carved figures at the feet of the braces, one of which holds a shield inscribed '1635 r.w.' The wall-plates of the eastern end are carved with angels with outstretched wings. The two jack-legs of the eastern principal are inscribed 'f.d.' The line of the earlier high-pitched roof is marked by the change in the masonry of the wall above the chancel arch.
In the 17th century the walls of the church had paintings of figures of the twelve Apostles, the twelve Patriarchs, and the tomb of Queen Elizabeth. (fn. 117)
The early 14th-century north aisle has a three-light east window with reticulated tracery in a two-centred head. The north wall has a three-light window similar to the last; a similar two-light window, but with a segmental-pointed head; a 15th-century two-light window with simple tracery in a fourcentred head; (fn. 118) and an original doorway with a twocentred head and continuous moulded jambs. The west wall has a 15th-century two-light window with simple tracery in a four-centred head. In the south wall, east of the arcade, is a 14th-century piscina with a trefoiled head and a semi-twelve-foiled basin. Above it are some steps leading through the wall to the roodloft; they were probably reached by a ladder. The aisle has buttresses square at the angles, and an embattled parapet with boldly carved gargoyles. On each side of the doorway are large 17th-century buttresses, the eastern inscribed 't.a. i.p. c.w. 1684,' the other '1684.' The pent-roof, c. 1500, has moulded beams, jack-legs and braces, and carved figures at the feet of the jack-legs.
The mid 13th-century south aisle has an east window of three graduated lancets under a two-centred label, much restored. The south wall has a 14th-century three-light window with reticulated tracery in a segmental-pointed head; a late 15th-century threelight window with vertical tracery in a depressed four-centred head; a late 13th-century two-light window with a quatrefoil circle in a two-centred head; parts of the jambs, splays and rear-arches of two 13th-century windows; a mid 13th-century doorway with a two-centred arch of three moulded orders on one attached and two detached circular jambshafts each side, having moulded capitals and bases, the capitals on the east side being of 15th-century date; a 13th-century double piscina with a trefoiled head and one circular and one octofoiled basin; (fn. 119) and a tomb recess with segmental-pointed head and continuous moulded jambs. The west wall has a 13th-century lancet window. The windows of this aisle had shields of arms in glass (fn. 120) as late as the end of the 17th century, viz.: Stukeley; England; Segrave; France (ancient); Sable, on a chevron between three mullets or, as many roses gules; and Azure, three cinquefoils argent. The aisle has buttresses square with the walls at the south-east corner and diagonal at the south-west corner, and an embattled parapet with boldly carved gargoyles. The pent-roof, c. 1500, is similar to that of the north aisle.
The tower stands considerably to the south of the centre line of the church, and was, no doubt, built before the enlargement of the chancel in the middle of the 13th century. The lower part, originally built early in the 13th century, but rebuilt in 1877, has a two-centred tower arch of three chamfered orders, the lower order carried on semi-octagonal engaged shafts with moulded capitals and bases. Above it, on the centre line of the nave, is a plain opening with a twocentred head and continuous chamfered jambs. There is no west door, but a single lancet west window, above which is a circular quatrefoiled window of c. 1285. The north and south walls have similar circular windows. This part of the tower has diagonal buttresses at the north-west and south-west angles, and the tower stairs are in the south-west angle.
The belfry, c. 1285, has two-light windows with a quatrefoiled circle in a two-centred head, and having detached circular jamb-shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The belfry walls have no buttresses, but are finished with a corbel-table of small trefoiled arches carried on notch-heads and carved heads. The octagonal broach spire, c. 1300, has three tiers of spirelights, all on the cardinal faces; the lowest tier has large two-lights with cusped spandrels under gabled heads ornamented with ball-flowers and surmounted with crosses; the second tier has single lights with somewhat similar heads; and the uppermost tier has smaller single lights.
The south porch, c. 1340, with a late 15th-century south wall, has a four-centred outer archway of two moulded orders, the lower order carried on semioctagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The side walls have each a square-headed twolight window. The string-courses under the parapets of the side walls are ornamented with carved heads; but the south wall has a late 15th-century moulded string-course. The late 15th-century roof has moulded beams.
There are six bells, inscribed: (1) John Taylor & Co: Founders Loughborough, 1876. (2) and (3) the same. (4) Thomas Norris made me 1673. (5) the same as No. 1. (6) The Revd. D: Williams Vicar J: Pattison. Holmes. & J: Garrott C: Wardens R. Taylor St. Neots fecit 1812. There were five bells in 1748 and in 1771, (fn. 121) and in 1853 one of these was cracked. (fn. 122) By 1876 three of them were broken, and these were recast in that year and a treble bell added; all the bells being rehung, at the same time, by Eaton of Titchmarsh. (fn. 123) The original inscriptions on the three recast bells are not recorded, but they are thought to have had the name of a St. Neots founder and a date. It is recorded that on Sunday after the feast of St. Dunstan 1335 (14 May) the great bell, when being rung for Mass, fell to the ground and was broken to pieces. (fn. 124)
The early 17th-century Communion table has plain top rails ornamented with carved cherubs' heads, supported on four Doric columns connected together at each end with small arches, and having a row of small arches under the middle of the table.
There is an early 17th-century oak chest in the tower. In the nave is a grey marble slab with indents for 16th-century brasses of a man, wife and inscription plate. In the churchyard is a stone coffin, c. 1300, with part of a lid, and another without a lid.
Numerous 12th-century stones are built into the chancel walls; and in one of the north buttresses there is a stone, possibly pre-Conquest, with interlaced ornament. In the vicarage garden is the base of a cross, part of a coffin-lid with foliated cross, and other moulded stones.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to Robert Booth, Lord of the Manor, d. 1798; Ann, d. 1810, Lucy, d. 1818, George, d. 1818, three children of William Green, d. 1824, and Mary his wife; floor slabs to R. Booth, d. 1798; Elizabeth, wife of John Howell, d. 1699/1700; Mary (Howell), wife of Charles Chambers, d. 1703; John Howell, d. 170¾, and his children; Ann Green, daughter of William and Mary Green, d. 1811. (fn. 125) In the nave, floor slab to Elizabeth, daughter of John Jefferey, d. 1699. In the north aisle, to the Rev. Robert Conway, Vicar 1870–1900, George John Rust, Churchwarden 1873–1888, and Lancelot Newton, Churchwarden 1874–1901. War Memorial, 1914–18. In the south aisle, to Arthur Ringrow, killed in the South African War; floor slabs to Howell, son of John Jefferey, d. 1709; John Gray, d. 1800; and glass windows to James Rust, d. 1875; and Agnes Caroline, wife of G. J. Rust, d. 1901. A large stone, quite illegible, lying outside the chancel door may be that of Anthonina (Barlow), wife of Bishop Wickham, d. 1598. (fn. 126)
The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms, marriages and burials 6 August 1559 to 12 March 1806, marriages end 18 April 1754; (ii) baptisms and burials 4 April 1806 to 31 December 1812; (iii) marriages 12 May 1754 to 28 December 1805; (iv) marriages 11 May 1806 to 10 November 1812.
The church plate (fn. 127) consists of a large and coarse silver cup, gilt inside, inscribed 'The Com[m]union Cupp and Couer for the Parish of Aulconburie. 1634. wtt 21 oz. les 4 dwtt,' hall-marked for 1634–5; a silver cover paten which, however, does not fit the cup well, no inscription, hall-marked as cup; a silver standing paten hall-marked for 1868–9; a small silver flagon inscribed 'Parish of Alconbury cum Weston Xtmas 1870. R. Conway, M.A., Vicar, W. Cooper G. Green, Churchwardens,' hall-marked for 1870–1; a pewter plate by George Holmes with his shield of a Catherine-wheel between four fleur-de-lis and inscribed 'Deo & Eccl Alconburiensi D. D. C. Q. T. Papwrth defunct'; a large pewter flagon with the lid broken off, inscribed 'The guift of Edward Daniell (deceased) to the Parish Church of Alconbury weston Thomas Dormar Churchwarden 1638.'
Merton Priory held the church of Alconbury impropriated by gift of King Henry vetus, (fn. 128) probably Henry II. A vicar was instituted 1220–7, (fn. 129) when the vicarage was said to have been ordained 'from of old.' (fn. 130) The priory held the rectory and advowson until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. (fn. 131) They were granted to the dean and chapter of Westminster as the rectory, church, and advowson of the vicarage of Alconbury Weston in 1542, (fn. 132) and with the exception of a break during the Commonwealth, (fn. 133) they have belonged to Westminster Abbey.