Pages 173-176

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Cambridgeshire, Volume 1, West Cambridgshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1968.

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In this section


(O.S. 6 ins. aTL 25 N.E., bTL 35 N.W., cTL 25 S.E., dTL 35 S.W.)

Longstowe, generally presumed, but perhaps incorrectly, to have given its name to the hundred of which it is a part (Reaney, 'Place-names of Cambs.', 154), occupies 1544 acres to the W. of the Ermine Street which divides it from Bourn and Wimpole. The remaining boundaries, N. to S., are with Caxton, Great Gransden (Huntingdonshire), Little Gransden, Hatley (formerly East Hatley), Croydon, and Arrington; the last three come nearly to a point at N.G. TL 307528 in the extreme S. of the parish. The land is almost entirely boulder clay over 200 ft. above O.D. Cole (B.M. Add. MS. 5823, 160) remarks that the place 'is unhappy for the want of good water, as most Towns thereabout are, having neither springs or brookes to supply the defect', but a few small streams drain N.E. to the Bourn Brook.


The epithet 'Long' was in use in 1268 (Reaney, 'Place-names of Cambs.', 163). This suggests that the existing street village, which resembles the adjacent lay-out at Little Gransden, had by then already taken shape. An earlier nucleated village around the church and hall (Monument (2)) is a possibility. The sharp bend at N.G. TL 30895528 and a resumption of the N.N.E. direction at 31085605 seem to indicate that an old road through Longstowe to Caxton End, Bourn, has been displaced. There are suggestions of a diversion to the W. of the hall on the enclosure map of 1799 (C.R.O.). Such displacement would have been at an early date, as there are no traces on the ground, but a small deer park created by Sir Anthony Cage after 1571 (BM. Add. MS. 5832, 161) may have influenced its course.


b(1) Parish Church of St. Mary stands in a large irregular churchyard, bounded generally by a ditch, in a setting of park and woodland. A sketch by Cole (reproduced in Palmer, Inscriptions and Arms from Cambs., Plate XX), shows that by his day the church, which had been transeptal, retained only the lower walling of the S. limb; this last, constructed or reconstructed in 1610, became dilapidated in 1719. The fabric was rebuilt in 1864–5 under the supervision of W. M. Fawcett except for the late 14th- or 15th-century West Tower.

Architectural Description—The West Tower (9¾ ft. by 9½ ft.) is of fieldstones and carstone rubble with dressings of carstone and freestone, and has three stages above a moulded plinth and with an embattled parapet. Small rectangular lights to the S. and W. in the middle stage are modern or completely restored; the bell chamber has in each face a restored window of two cinque-foiled lights with net tracery. The tower arch is of two orders, moulded except for the outer order on the W. which is chamfered; the outer order is continuous, the inner is carried on attached shafts with moulded caps and bases. The stair is entered by a doorway across the S.W. corner with continuous moulded jambs and four-centred head.

Fittings—Bell: one only, inscribed in black-letter 'Sancte Paule Ora Pro Nobis', with initials 'IS', a coin impression, and various stops (Raven, Church Bells of Cambs., 38–41 and 167–68; two others were then existing), probably 16th-century. Bell frame: with pits for three, old. Communion table: with turned legs, mutilated, early 17th-century. Glass: in E. lancet of N. chapel, the three lower of four shields of arms resemble the 17th-century arms described by Cole (Palmer, Inscription and Arms from Cambs., 111–2); the first, of Seckford, is original, the other two with quarterings illustrating the alliances of Cage and Seckford, are heavily restored. Monuments: reset in N. chapel, on W. side—(1) of Charlotte Eleanora Luck and Charlotte Ann Thomson, n.d.; wall monument, c. 1800; (2) of Sir Ralph Bovey, Bart., 1679 (Plate 138), wall monument in marble consisting of a semi-domed and garlanded recess surmounted by an urn and flanked by foliated scroll brackets, all on a boldly gadrooned shelf with cherub heads and cartouche of arms in the apron and central inscription panel; within the recess is the half effigy of the deceased naked except for a cap or turban, rising from the sea and reaching up with his right hand towards an anchor extended by a hand issuing from clouds in the head of the recess. Two Latin elegiac couplets explaining the imagery are stated to be the deceased's own composition; (3) ostensibly of Anthony Cage, 1603, and his wife Dorothy (Rudstone) n.d., but the figure of the woman is much smaller and more crudely executed than the man and does not accord very well with Cole's description and sketch (B.M. Add. MS. 5803, 125–6); she may be Jocosa (Mount), 1627, wife of Anthony Cage's eldest son John. The existing monument, which is of clunch and alabaster, seems otherwise to be made up from fragments of the canopied tomb of Anthony and Dorothy Cage which stood in the N.E. corner of the chancel, and to which a second monument in the S. chapel (built 1610 and derelict after 1719) to John and Jocosa Cage bore a general resemblance. The man is in Greenwich armour and the woman has a long gown with ruff and a tight cap. The front of the chest has a moulded base, dentilled capping enriched with acanthus, and flanking pilasters panelled with arabesque and supporting a mutilated entablature; framed in these is an inscription in English, being an 18th-century repainting of that transcribed by Cole, painted over the incised Latin elegiacs also mentioned by him, which are now in part upside down; below are the figures of six sons and four daughters. At the N. end of the chest is a strapwork cartouche of arms flanked by arabesque pilasters, Cage quartering Rudstone, unidentified (13) and Dale. Plate: includes a cup with London marks for 1780 and stand paten with London marks for 1720 or 1721. Miscellaneous: large carved wooden cartouche surmounted by a putto in half figure, painted with a modern memorial inscription; said to have been brought from Italy; 17th-century.

Longstowe, the Parish Church of Saint Mary


b(2) Longstowe Hall, house, stables and park, is at the N. end of the village adjoining the Ermine Street.

The House, drastically restored c. 1880, was again enlarged and virtually rebuilt between c. 1897 and 1914 in an accomplished Jacobean idiom on the advice of J. W. Simpson for William Arthur Briscoe (d. 1934); it is of two storeys and attics with red-brick walls and tiled roofs. The E-shaped plan of an Elizabethan nucleus erected by Anthony Cage (d. 1603) can however still be traced, and the N.W. front with its three gabled projections incorporates original walling, much patched and with modern openings; there is also some old brick on the S.E. Inside a quantity of reused woodwork, some of high quality and mostly continental, includes reset 15th- or 16th-century moulded beams which may be indigenous. The original main range has an old roof with numbered members, of which the main rafters, flush purlins and cambered tie beams are chamfered; a second roof, at right angles, also has stop-chamfered members including the ordinary rafters.

The Stables, S.W. of the house, of red brick, c. 1700, now form an oblong block but may have been U-shaped. Three of the four corners have rusticated quoins and the elevation N.E. to the house is symmetrically designed with a central doorway and two windows, all with eared architraves of rubbed brick and now blocked. The N.W. and S.W. sides retain further old openings but have been much altered.

The attractive Park is comparatively modern. The enclosure map of 1799 (C.R.O.) shows the area divided up into closes except for Great Wood to the E. of the house. The ornamental waters to the W. have been formed by amalgamating a number of rectangular fishponds.

b(3) House (Class D), with cross wing at the S. end in 19th-century white brick. The lower, framed and rough-cast, main range, of one storey with attic with half-hipped N. end, is of uncertain date; it may have been in whole or part open to the roof as a hall, but the evidence is inconclusive. A tall chimney at the junction has two old diagonal flues, while a chamfered beam in the N. ground-floor room has notched stops; these features are 17th-century.

b(4) Rectory, two-storeyed, of white brick with hipped slated roofs, has a stone panel with the date '1839' over the N. entrance. The house is of Class-U design but with a lower service wing to the E. in which are two reused 16th-century moulded beams, one with carved leaf stops at one end. Inside are some fireplace surrounds and other details in the Regency tradition. In the kitchen is a 19th-century cooking range, with ancillary equipment, by Beales & Co., Cambridge, and Flavel & Co., Leamington.

d(5) Barn, at Three Horseshoes public house, of three bays with narrow aisles, gabled and tiled queen-post roof; the red-brick walls are 17th- or 18th-century casing of a framed structure, perhaps 16th-century.

d(6) Middle Farm (Class U), two-storeyed with attics, is probably a 17th-century frame remodelled in the mid 18th century. The elevations are in uniform white brick of the later date with a first-floor platband; tiled roofs in two N. and S. spans are closed by side gables, above a second platband, with kneelers and parapets; three of the gables rise to chimneys. Inside, the framing of some partitions is exposed; some ceiling beams are intersecting.

d(7) House (Class J), two-storeyed with attic, framed and plastered, with tiled gabled roof. The base of the chimney, which is built within a chimney bay, is of clunch ashlar; one block, reset, bears the dates '1668'(?), '1696' and '1699'.

d(8) Lower Farm, buildings include a five-bay barn, framed and boarded, with half-hipped tiled and pantiled roof, of 17th-century origin; and a framed and boarded granary, raised on short piers, with tiled pyramidal roof, perhaps 18th-century.

d(9) The Red House, public house (formerly Golden Lion), of two lofty storeys and attic, partly of red brick and partly framed, with slated roof, in three symmetrical bays E. to the Ermine Street, and with end chimneys; of c. 1800 with additions. The central front door is flanked by wooden pilasters and has a flat hood carried on shaped brackets; round- and ogee-headed windows above have intersecting glazing bars creating a 'gothick' effect.

b and d(10–11) Houses (Class J), respectively two-storeyed and one-storeyed; framed and plastered, with thatched roofs; 17th- or 18th-century. In the ground floor of (10) is a ceiling with notched stop.


d(12) Village remains (partly on O.S.). The old plan of a street over 1 m. in length running S. from the hall and church has been disturbed at the S. end by the building, in 1867, of the Cambridge to Bedford railway and, quite recently, of the road to Little Gransden parallel and to the N. of it. The original road, 50 ft. wide, can be traced at N.G. TL 306540. House sites are indicated by 18th- to 19th-century debris to the W. The numerous small closes along the street existing in 1799 (enclosure map 1799 in C.R.O.) may indicate that some houses had disappeared, while the ridge and furrow in the closes at the N. end of the street suggests that at one time the hall, rectory and church were divided from the rest of the village by a strip of arable land. The oblong and L-shaped ponds shown on the O.S. 6 ins. maps may have delimited house platforms but only a few certain traces remain: (a) The field N. of Broad Close Spinney and W. of the road (centre at N.G. TL 30625437) was in 1799 divided into Burnt Yard to the N. and Old House Close, a strip 150 ft. wide to the S. A scarp facing S.W. and 2½ ft. to 3 ft. high marks the line of division. The unploughed S.E. part of the field is very disturbed. (b) Immediately W. of the junction between the old street and the new road at N.G. TL 305541 is an arable field, called Farm Close in 1799, and shown on O.S. 6 ins. maps as containing long wet ditches, now destroyed. In this area pottery from the 12th to 19th centuries including St. Neots ware and many 13th-century sherds, cobbles, oyster shells and other occupation debris indicate a house site.

b(13) Moated site (Class B; N.G. TL 308558), on a flat terrace of boulder clay above a valley to the N.W. and rising gently to Ermine Street on the E. A wet ditch 17 ft. to 40 ft. wide and 6 ins. to 5 ft. deep encloses a rectangular island measuring 150 ft. N. to S. by 65 ft. The interior, raised 2 ft. above the surrounding area, is reached by footbridges at the centre of the N. and S. sides. On the 1799 enclosure map and an estate map of 1857 this moat is shown as hexagonal with a long ditch running S.E. from the W. angle. Its present form seems therefore to be 19th-century. It may originally have been a garden feature like the lakes to the N.W., also altered since 1857.

Longstowe, Monument 13

b(14) Moated site (N.G. TL 313551), immediately S. of the cross roads, probably the site of the Hospital of St. Mary of Stowe founded c. 1250 for a Master and Sisters (V.C.H., Cambs. II, 35 and 310), since in 1799 the field containing the moat and those adjoining were called 'Nuns' (enclosure map 1799 in C.R.O.); the total area of these, 16 acres, was the acreage held by the Hospital in 1279. A rectangle measuring 200 ft. E. to W. by 110 ft. was enclosed by a wet ditch, of which only the S. side, 20 ft. wide and 2½ ft. deep, still remains. There are traces of the N. and E. sides. A bungalow has been built over the E. ditch, filled in since 1900, and the site is occupied by gardens.

d(15) Mound (N.G. TL 30585493), on flat clay land 200 yds. W.N.W. of Middle Farm, is an irregular mound 70 ft. across and 8 ft. to 10 ft. high with a flat top, surrounded on all sides except the W. by a wet ditch 30 ft. to 35 ft. wide and 2 ft. deep. The ditch has been widened 15 ft. at the N.W. and extended 40 ft. to the E. to form cattle drinking places. The mound and ditch are marked on the enclosure map of 1799. Spoil from the ditch overlies ridge and furrow on the W. The mound, which may perhaps be part of a landscape gardening scheme, is connected with Longstowe Hall by an avenue along the old track which it blocks. There are trees on it and it is surrounded by pasture.

(16) Cultivation remains (not on O.S.). Ridge and furrow survives in many of the fields on both sides of the long village street, with straight and curved ridges 120 yds. to 200 yds. long, 6 yds. to 9 yds. wide and 9 ins. to 1 ft. high, with headlands of 5 yds. to 10 yds. The ridge and furrow in these fields was formerly in numerous small closes which have since been amalgamated, and the former hedge lines can be seen as low banks, and shallow ditches 3 ft. to 5 ft. wide.

Ridge and furrow also exists in the park made up of curving furlongs abutting against each other, with ridges 70 yds. to 260 yds. long with headlands 7 yds. to 11 yds. wide and 9 ins. to 1 ft. high. These have clearly once been part of an openfield system, but in 1799 they were already enclosed, although the park itself was not made until the 19th century.

Traces on air photographs show straight ridge and furrow in the old closes round the village and curving ridge and furrow elsewhere especially in the S.E. of the parish.

Nearly half of the parish had been enclosed before 1799, and even before 1517 60 acres of arable had been enclosed for pasture.

(Ref: enclosure map 1799 (C.R.O.); I.S.Leadam, 'The Inquisition of 1517' in Royal Hist. Soc. Trans., N.S. VIII (1894) 298–305; air photographs: 106G/UK/1490/4018–20; CPE/UK/2024/3031–4, 4056–8.)