An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 2, North. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1913.
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118. CASTLE THORPE.
(O.S. 6 in. ix. N.E.)
(1). Parish Church of St. Simon and St. Jude, stands on the N.W. side of the village, within the inner bailey of the former castle (see (2)), and is built of stone rubble with squared stone dressings; the tower is faced with ashlar; the nave has a plain parapet. The roofs are covered with lead, except that of the chancel, which is covered with slate. No detail remains to show the date of the original Nave, to which a N. aisle was added c.1190; a S. aisle was built probably at the same time; c. 1340 the Chancel was re-built and considerably lengthened; c. 1420 the North and South Aisles, with the S. arcade, were re-built, some of the old material being re-used in the S. arcade, and the clearstorey was added. The former W. tower fell in 1729 and nothing remains to show its date; the present West Tower was built in the 18th century, when the church apparently was repaired.
The plan of the church is unusual, the nave being very short in proportion to its width. The early 17th-century screen is noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (34½ ft. by 14 ft.) has an E. window of c. 1340, of three trefoiled ogee lights and tracery in a two-centred head, which has a moulded external label with defaced head-stops; at the top of the tracery is an approximately circular opening, with no remaining traces of cusping. In the N. wall is a window, of the same date as the E. window, formerly of two trefoiled lights; the mullion is missing and the tracery much decayed; the two-centred head has a moulded external label with large mask-stops. In the S. wall is a window, also of c. 1340, with chamfered jambs and two-centred head and a moulded external label; it was originally of two lights and tracery, but the mullion and tracery are missing; further W. a 14th-century low-side window of two trefoiled ogee lights and tracery now forms a doorway, the sill having been cut down and the mullion removed; the jambs are chamfered and the head is two-centred, with a moulded external label. The chancel arch is of the 14th century, possibly with some older stones re-used; it is two-centred and of two chamfered orders dying into the walls. The Nave (30 ft. by 21 ft.) has a N. arcade of c.1190, and of two bays, with two-centred arches of one chamfered order— the chamfer stopped at the springing—and with a label in the nave; the column is circular, with a moulded base and foliated capital having a moulded square abacus; the responds are stop-chamfered, and have moulded abaci. In the E. respond is the staircase to the former rood-loft, with five stone steps in the thickness of the wall; the lower doorway, on the N. side, has rebated jambs and two-centred head with chamfered imposts; the upper doorway, on the S. side, has chamfered jambs, imposts and two-centred head. The S. arcade of two bays was re-built c. 1420, some of the 12th-century material being re-used; the two-centred arches are of two chamfered orders; the octagonal column has broach-stops at the base and a capital with broachstops under a square abacus; the responds are stop-chamfered and have chamfered imposts. The clearstorey has, in the S. wall only, three 15th-century windows, each of one trefoiled light under a square head. The North Aisle (10 ft. wide) has, in the E. wall, an early 15th-century window, originally of two cinque-foiled lights under a square head with a moulded external label, but now without the mullion and the middle part of each cinque-foiled head. In the N. wall are two windows, the eastern of the 18th century, and the western modern, in an 18th-century opening. The South Aisle (8½ ft. wide) has, in the E. wall, a window of c. 1420, and of two cinque-foiled lights under a square head and a moulded external label with carved stops. In the S. wall are two windows also of c. 1420, the eastern of three cinque-foiled ogee lights under a square head with a moulded external label having grotesque animal-stops; the jambs and mullions are moulded externally, and the head is chamfered: the western window is similar to the other, but the jambs and mullions are chamfered and the label has face-stops. The West Tower (9 ft. square) is of the 18th century. Built into the wall over the W. window is a carved female head with horned head-dress, of stone and of c. 1380. The flat-pitched Roof of the nave is of late 15th-century date, repaired in the 17th century; it is of three bays with roughly chamfered principals supported by curved brackets and chamfered wall-pieces resting on moulded wood corbels; one truss has pierced tracery between the tie-beam and the rafter; the ridge and purlins are chamfered, and the rafters are concealed by plaster. The N. aisle has a flat lean-to roof of the 16th or 17th century, of three bays; the principal rafters, purlin and upper wall-plate have an edge-roll; the roof is plastered between the principal timbers. The roof of the S. aisle is similar to that of the N. aisle, but is probably of late 15th-century date, and the principals, purlin and upper wall-plate are stop-chamfered.
Fittings—Bell: one, by Joan, widow of Richard Hille, c. 1440; frame old. Font: octagonal bowl, moulded at the top and bottom, at the top, projecting from the two W. angles, carved heads of a man and a woman, plain octagonal stem, no base, late 15th-century, re-tooled. Locker: In chancel—in E. wall, [S. end, rectangular, rebated for shutter, probably 15th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monument: In chancel—against N. wall, of Sir Thomas Tyrrill, knight, Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, 1671, and Bridget his wife, daughter of Sir Edward Harrington of Ridlington, in Rutland; she erected the monument and gave '£10 per annum for ever to the poore' of the parish; large black and white marble tomb, with two alabaster effigies, man's figure in judge's robes, base with two inscriptions, above it Ionic order with curved pediment surmounted by urn, swags and cartouches of arms; alabaster curtain looped back to column on each side. Floor-slab: In chancel—at E. end, to Eyre Tyrrill, infant son of Thomas Tyrrill and Dorothy his wife, date of death, 1701 altered to 1698. Piscina: In chancel—in S. wall, small, with chamfered jambs and pointed head, octofoiled circular basin, 14th-century. Screen: Between chancel and nave— of four bays, two on each side of gates, with elaborate strap-work muntins, enriched semi-circular arches in the panels, and carved spandrels, moulded top rail, moulded middle rail below which panels are plain and pilasters have oval bosses, early 17th-century. Sedilia: In chancel— in S. wall, two, with small attached semi-octagonal shaft on face of division, eastern recess narrower than western with higher seat and segmental pointed head, western recess with semi-circular head, jambs and arches of both rebated and chamfered, 14th-century, base of shaft and seats, modern. Miscellanea: S. aisle—scratched on buttress at S.W. corner, two sundials.
Condition—Exterior:—E. wall of chancel cracked above and below window; stonework of N. window of chancel and E. window of N. aisle, bad. Interior:—Lower parts of all walls and the chancel floor, damp.
(2). Castle Thorpe (Mount and Bailey), with the church in the S.E. corner of the site, stands on nearly level ground about 280 ft. above O.D. It consists of a mount with two adjoining baileys and the remains of an apparently rectangular enclosure.
The work is especially interesting on account of the outworks W. and S.W. of the mount, which are unusual.
The mount retains no traces of masonry, and apparently has been much altered, but it is well defined and stands 36 ft. above the bottom of its ditch, the N. part being higher than the S. part, which forms a platform and drops sharply away to the S. and W.; the ditch is at one point 61 ft. wide, but is only carried round the S. and W. sides. The inner bailey, N. of the mount, covers about 4 acres and is well preserved, except at the S.E. corner, now occupied by the churchyard. The defences consist of a ditch 16 ft. deep and 66 ft. wide on the N., having a bank on the counter-scarp and no rampart on that side, and on the E. a rampart, but no bank on the counter-scarp. There are two entrances on the W. side. About 250 ft. W. of the bailey is a line of entrenchment running in a N.E. direction and consisting of a broad rampart and ditch, the rampart 10½ ft. above the bottom of the ditch, which is 44½ ft. wide from crest to crest. At the N.E. end of the rampart is apparently a barbican mound, covering the entrance to the inner bailey. A slight scarp on the N. appears to have connected this outer work with the inner bailey. S.W. of these defences and separated from them by the railway station, is a fragment of another work, which was apparently rectangular, and may have been connected formerly with the main defences, although not in alignment with them. The remaining S.W. angle consists of a broad rampart 7½ ft. above the bottom of its ditch, which is 34½ ft. wide; another, and somewhat stronger rampart bisects this work from E. to W.
Condition—Well preserved in some places, but the plan of the work, as a whole, is considerably obscured.
(3). Castle Yard (see Plate, p. 61), formerly a farmhouse, now tenements, 150 yards W. of the church, is of two storeys with a cellar; the walls are of stone; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably early in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan, the wings extending towards the S. and E.; the house has been repaired, additions have been built at the E. end of the E. wing, and many of the windows have been blocked. On the S. front the S. wing is gabled, and in the angle between the wings is a large projecting chimney stack of stone; two doorways have moulded frames and one of them has a door with nail-studded oak panels. At the back the S. wing is gabled and has, on the first floor, a window of five lights with a frame, mullions and transom of moulded wood; another window has a moulded frame. Interior:—On the ground floor the ceilings have chamfered beams and one doorway has a moulded frame. In the cellar is a doorway with stop-chamfered jambs and a square head of stone, possibly part of a former building of earlier date. On the first floor is a fireplace of stone with a flat four-centred arch under a square head. The roof-timbers are visible, the collar-beams having arched struts.
Condition—Not very good.
(4–5). Cottages, two ranges, each of two storeys, built of stone in the 17th century; the roofs are tiled. The first range, 100 yards S.E. of the church, has an original chimney stack at the N. end, and a doorway with a moulded frame. Some of the rooms have wide fireplaces, partly blocked. The second range, about 160 yards S. of the church, has an original chimney stack at the W. end. On the ground floor the rooms have open timber ceilings.