An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 1, South. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1912.
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(O.S. 6 in. lii. S.E.)
(1). Parish Church of St. Mary, stands in the village. The E. and S. walls of the chancel are faced with modern flint, the N. wall is covered with plaster; the walls of the nave are of flint, with wide joints, and the quoins are partly of pudding-stone; the tower is of brick, covered with plaster, except the brick plinth; the dressings are of stone; the roofs are tiled. The Nave was built early in the 12th century, and the foundations of an apse are said to have been found. The chancel arch was re-built c. 1190, and the Chancel, on a larger scale, c. 1340. The West Tower was built in the 16th century. The church was restored and the South Porch added in 1866; the whole building was restored again in 1906–7.
The church is especially interesting on account of the early 12th-century work of the nave; the 14th-century windows in the chancel and nave are also noteworthy. The 14th-century glass in the windows of the chancel is of exceptional interest, as it is unusually complete, and the original scheme has been preserved.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (28 ft. by 16 ft.) has a 14th-century E. window of four cinque-foiled lights and tracery under a two-centred head and the remains of an external label with head-stops; the internal jambs and mullions have attached shafts with moulded bases and foliated capitals; the rear arch is moulded. In the N. wall are two windows, of c. 1340, but restored; they are each of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the jambs and rear arch are similar to those of the E. window: near the W. end of the wall is a small modern doorway. In the S. wall are two windows similar to those opposite; near the W. end, low down in the wall, is a single trefoiled light, much restored, and, high up in the wall, a trefoiled circular window of the 14th century; in the same wall is a small doorway, re-cut inside, and modern outside. Carried round the walls inside is a plain string-course with a head-stop on the N. wall. The chancel arch, of c. 1190, is semi-circular, of two square orders, with a small moulded label on the W. side; the inner order rests on half-round keeled responds with moulded bases, and carved and moulded capitals; the outer order rests on square jambs; on the E. side the lower part of the S. jamb has been cut away and a head-corbel carved to support the upper part; the two springing stones of the inner order of the arch have each a square hole, now filled in, probably used originally for the beam supporting the rood. The Nave (31½ ft. by 19 ft.) has, in the N. wall, near the E. end, a window of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head, of late 14th-century date, but repaired with cement; the external label is of brick: further W. are two small windows of early 12th-century date, the eastern now blocked; they have no external dressings, but the deeply splayed inner jambs and semi-circular rear arch are of clunch. The S. wall has windows similar to those in the N. wall, and between the two western windows is a doorway with a moulded two-centred arch of late 14th-century date, and modern jambs; near the W. end of the wall a patch of modern flint-work marks the position of a former window lighting a gallery. The West Tower (10 ft. square) is of two stages with an embattled parapet. The tower arch and jambs are chamfered and of 16th-century brick; the arch is four-centred. The W. doorway is similar to the tower arch in detail; the window over it resembles the 14th-century windows of the nave, but has an outer order, sill and label of brick; it was probably moved from the W. wall of the nave when the tower was built. The four windows of the bell-chamber are of the 16th century and have chamfered brick jambs and four-centred heads; in the N. and S. walls, lower down in the second stage, is a similar but smaller window. Roofs: the chancel and nave have plastered ceilings, but old tie-beams remain, one in the chancel, and four, with king-posts, in the nave. Over the E. side of the chancel arch is a slender stone shaft which rests on a moulded corbel and has a scalloped capital at the level of the ceiling; it probably supported the ridge of a former roof.
Fittings—Bells: three, 2nd inscribed 'sancte petre', probably by John Saunders, 16th-century. Brasses and Indents. Brasses: In chancel—(1) of Nicholas Clarke, 1551, son of Sir John Clarke, of Weston, 'who took the Duke of Longevyle prisoner', figure in armour, with inscription, two sons and indent of two daughters, in same slab inscription and verse to Jane, one of the daughters, 1563, and shield with arms; partly hidden by altar platform, (2) to Sir Francis Clarke, youngest son of Sir William Clarke of Hitcham, with inscription and lozenge bearing arms. In nave—(3) of Thomas Ramsay, 1510, and Margaret, his wife, two figures, man in armour, four sons and three daughters, with inscription and two shields bearing arms. Chest: in the nave, of oak, with initials and date R.C. 1684; three locks. Communion Table: with plain turned legs, 17th-century. Door: in W. doorway, plain, probably 16th-century. Glass: in the chancel:—in tracery of E. window, in octofoil, remains of seated figure of Christ between the four Evangelists (?); in N. quatrefoil, remains of winged angel standing on wheel, holding crown of thorns, head missing; in S. quatrefoil, similar angel with cross, almost complete: in N. and S. windows the following figure, representing the nine orders of angels, with the four Evangelists in the quatrefoils—in N.E. window, in the quatrefoil, fragments of figure of St. John, wings, etc.; in E. light, part of draped figure holding an orb in one hand, head missing, fragments of canopy border, etc., probably transferred from E. window; in N.W. window, in the quatrefoil, seated figure of St. Luke, writing on a scroll, inscribed 'Missus est Angelus Gabriel ad Mariam Virginem', almost complete; in W. light, remains of figure of winged angel, with eyes in the wings, head and feet missing, background original; in E. light, fragments of similar figure with wheel at feet and the word [virt] utes; in S.E. window, in the quatrefoil, seated figure of St. Matthew with symbol, the letters S. Ma above figure, scroll inscribed [Natus] est in Beth[leh]em diebus Erodis Reg, in E. light, fragments of winged angel, as in N.W. window; in S.W. window, in the quatrefoil, remains of seated figure of St. Mark, with scroll inscribed, 'Recumbentibus undecim discipulis aparuit il [le], in both lights, fragments of cherubim on wheels, below the western figure is the word 'Dominationes', all this glass is of c. 1340, and has been recently re-leaded and carefully restored with plain glass. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In chancel—on N. side, (1) of Sir William Clarke, 1624, son of Nicholas Clarke of North Weston, and of Elizabeth Ramsey of Hitcham, large monument, almost entirely of white marble, with effigy of knight in armour in square-headed recess, on base kneeling figures of five sons, one headless, and of three daughters, one broken in three pieces; on each side of recess figure of soldier holding back a curtain, in soffit cherubs' heads, on back inscription with helm and pair of gauntlets carved in high relief, on sides shields with arms, traces of gold and colour, above the monument funeral helm with ram's head crest; the whole enclosed by contemporary iron railings; on N. wall, (2) to T. de Birchensty, 1657; on S. wall, (3) of Roger Alford, 1580, and Elizabeth, his wife, daughter of Thomas Ramsey, and widow of Nicholas Clark, kneeling figures of man and woman with son and daughter, all in white marble, with inscription, in recess flanked by black marble columns with Corinthian capitals of white marble over it, broken pediment and achievement of arms. In churchyard—(4) large marble tomb of Edward Nicholas, 1696, and Bridget, his wife, 1692; (5) tombstone with inscription to Robert Ashby, 1685; on E. wall of chancel, (6) slab to Edward Evans, 1685, and Elizabeth, his wife, 1690. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to Grissilla, 1647, and Philidelphia, 1646, infant daughters of John and Philadelphia Clarke; (2) to Dorothy, 1647, wife of Thomas Garard, and daughter of Sir William Clarke. Painting: over chancel arch, on W. side, traces. Panelling: on walls at S.W. corner of nave, of oak, from box pew, with hinges for doors, late 17th-century. Piscinæ: in S. wall of chancel, with chamfered jambs and moulded ogee arch, shallow half-round basin with flat knob by drain, grooves in sides for shelf, 14th-century: in S. wall of nave, with chamfered jambs and head, remains of shallow basin with drain. Plate: includes cup and cover paten of 1684, alms-dish of 1694. Pulpit: hexagonal, with richly carved panels, back and canopy, 17th-century, base modern. Sedilia: in S. wall of chancel, two, with moulded ogee arches and defaced foliated capitals, 14th-century, lower part modern. Tiles: in floor of chancel, a large number with various designs, including a man on horse with falcon, a lion passant reversed, a hound hunting a stag, a mermaid, foliage with three shields—(1) a mill-rind cross, (2) three cheverons, (3) a cross, 14th-century and later date. Miscellanea: against S. walls of tower and nave, outside, three coffin-slabs, of Purbeck marble, first with remains of raised cross, second with traces of incised cross, third quite plain, a fourth slab of limestone, head only, with top of raised cross, all 14th-century; in sill of S. window of chancel, corbel carved as winged lion, 14th-century: in buttress of S. wall of churchyard, stone inscribed A° Dni 1681.
(2). Hitcham Farm, house and barn, about 70 yards E. of the church. The House is of two storeys and an attic, built probably in the first half of the 17th century and restored in the 19th century. The plan is of modified L-shape; the lower storey of the main wing, which extends towards the S., is of thin bricks, the upper storey, probably timber-framed, is covered with plaster. The smaller wing is at the N.W. angle and extends towards the W.; the walls are of brick and timber, the upper part weather-boarded, except the E. wall, which is gabled, and entirely of brick and timber. The roofs are tiled. On the E. side of the main wing are two projecting chimney stacks of thin bricks, with modern shafts; a third stack on the N. side of the small wing is original. The Barn is of the 17th century, built of brick and timber, partly weather-boarded; the plan is F-shaped; the roofs are covered with tiles, and have large tie-beams with curved supports.
(3). The Old Manor House, remains, about 200 yards N.E. of the church, chiefly consisting of walls built of 17th-century brick, enclosing an extensive garden; those on the W. side have blocked openings and originally formed part of the house. Some cottages on the S. side of the garden, belonging to Blythewood House, have, built into the N. wall, four Doric columns of wood, on stone bases; on the E. side are two large gates with pillars of brick, which have moulded stone caps and ball tops; the gates are of wrought iron with vine ornament; outside this entrance a wide avenue can be traced.
(4). Hitcham Bury (the old Rectory), ½ mile N.W. of the church, has been almost entirely re-built, but has a little old brickwork in the lower part of the W. wall and at the W. end of the N. and S. walls. Inside the house, on the ground floor, is a large fireplace of brick, with moulded jambs and four-centred arch, probably of the 16th century.