Stow cum Quy

Pages 90-96

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Cambridgeshire, Volume 2, North-East Cambridgeshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1972.

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In this section


(O.S. 6 ins. aTL 55 N.W., bTL 56 S.W.) (Fig. 81)

The parish, extending to 1900 acres, lies on a low area of chalk which rises to about 50 ft. above O.D. It is bounded on the S. by Fulbourn Fen, on the W. by Quy Water and on the N. by the main fenland. The two settlements, now united in Stow cum Quy and once separate parishes, originated in locations with contrasting geographical characteristics. Stow, the early centre of which is now marked by the church (1) and the adjacent site of the manor of Engayne, was close to the end of a gravel-capped ridge from which the land sloped S. to Fulbourn Fen and N.W. to Quy Fen. Quy lay along a low ridge of chalk projecting N.W. into the fen; its limits may have been marked by the church (25), situated close to the modern crossroads, and by the site of the manor of Holme at Quy Hall (3) on the N.W. The names of the two parishes are first associated in 1279 although the appointment of joint incumbents is not certainly attested until a century later. The church at Quy, dedicated to St. Nicholas, fell into disuse in the later Middle Ages.

Both villages appear to have had primary streets running N.W.—S.E. but the increasing importance of the road linking the two centres lessened the emphasis of this orientation. Between 1821 (Baker's Map) and 1840, the year of Enclosure, a small group of cottages was built at Stow around the junction of the linking road and the old street which passed E. of St. Mary's church. After 1840 this street was replaced by a road running W. of the church and thereafter the linking road became the main street of the parish.


a(1) Parish Church of St. Mary (Fig. 82) stands at the extreme S.W. corner of the village. The walls are of flint and field stones with limestone and clunch dressings; the roofs are covered with tiles and lead. The church consists of a Chancel, Nave, North and South Chapels, North and South Aisles, and West Tower.

There is evidence of a 12th-century church in the survival of part of a round-headed window (Fig.83) in the S. wall of the nave but the size of the church to which it belonged is unknown. This window indicates an aisleless nave of the 12th century. In the first half of the 13th century an arch was made in the E. end of the S. wall of the nave, probably opening into a transeptal chapel. A similar arrangement can be inferred on the N. The church was considerably transformed in the first half of the 14th century when the chancel was rebuilt, all four bays of nave-arcading inserted on the N., three bays of the S. arcade continued to the W., and N. and S. aisles added; most of the former S. transeptal chapel and the N. wall of the N. chapel were allowed to remain. The west tower was built late in the 14th century. The addition or rebuilding of a clearstorey took place in c. 1500. In 1665 two chancel windows, then partly blocked, were ordered to be opened (Palmer, Episc. Returns, Cambs. and Hunts. Arch. Soc. (1930) pt. II, 32). Under faculty of 8 September 1739, the E. wall of the chancel was taken down and rebuilt 18 ft. further W. In 1879 the church was restored by William White of London (C. U. L., Ely Faculty Reg., 1879); the upper stage of the tower, which had been removed in c. 1800 and replaced by a wooden belfry, was constructed in stone and flint (The Builder, XXXIX (Dec. 1880), 681).

Fig. 81 Stow cum Quy, Village Map

Fig. 82 Stow cum Quy (1), The Parish Church of St. Mary

Architectural Description—The Chancel (23 ft., previously 44 ft., by average 13½ ft.) is 14th-century except for the E. wall, rebuilt in 1739. The side walls are not parallel. The E. window of three trefoiled ogee lights with net tracery is late 19th-century. Inside, the N. and S. walls have 14th-century wallarcading of two bays, one wide and one narrow, with moulded heads springing from plain rounded responds and a mutilated central corbel carved as a half-angel. In the E. bay, on both N. and S., is a 15th-century window of three cinque-foiled lights with transomed and traceried head; the W. bay is blind. W. of the arcading, on N. and S., is a 14th-century window of two cinque-foiled ogee lights with quatrefoil in the head. The chancel arch of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner springing from semi-octagonal shafts with moulded capitals, is 14th-century. S. of the arch are the damaged concave remains of a former rood-loft stair.

The Nave (53½ ft. by 16½ ft.) has a four-bay N. arcade of the first half of the 14th century, with arches of two chamfered orders; the piers have four attached shafts separated by hollow mouldings, and moulded caps and bases. The capitals of the second and third piers are modern and of different design. Immediately E. of the E. respond is part of a chamfered angle, perhaps a 13th-century respond of an arch leading to a former transeptal chapel. The S. arcade (Fig. 83) is also of four bays. The springing and caps of the E. arch, which belong to the first half of the 13th century, are higher and the voussoirs smaller than those of the three W. bays. The upper course of the E. respond and a small part of the W. respond is enriched with dog-tooth ornament between the shafts, and on the E. capital are three heads now mutilated; the responds have waterholding bases. In the spandrel between the first and second arches is the W. jamb and part of the round-headed rear-arch of a 12th-century window, which is visible to a lesser degree from the aisle. The diagonal buttresses of the tower appear as splays across the N.W. and S.W. angles of the nave; high up on the splays are two plain corbels. The clearstorey of c. 1500 consists of windows of two cinque-foiled lights in four-centred heads.

The North Chapel projects 3¼ ft. N. of the N. aisle; the thicker N. wall of the former transeptal chapel remains. The 15th-century E. window has three cinque-foiled lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head. The N. window is modern. The North Aisle (7½ ft. wide) corresponds with the three W. bays of the nave. The first window of two cinque-foiled lights, quatrefoil tracery with mouchettes and moulded reveals with volute-shaped stops, is 14th-century. The much restored N. doorway of the 14th-century has continuous moulded jambs and head, and a segmental-pointed rear-arch. The third window of two lights is 14th-century and has a large multifoiled segmental-sided triangle in the head, external label with grotesque head stops and internal moulded reveal with volute-shaped stops. The weathering of the diagonal buttress of the tower projects into the S.W. angle of the aisle.

The South Chapel is generally similar to that on the N. The windows of chapel and S. aisle have been entirely restored; on the jambs are 19th-century shields of arms for Ventris of Oakington, Whichcote, Lawrence, and See of Canterbury impaling Herring for Thomas Herring, Archbishop 1747–57, and others. The South Aisle repeats the arrangement of that on the N. but the openings have been renewed; Relhan in the early 19th century shows all the S. windows in the chapel and aisle as blocked, and the W. window as a roundel (C.A.S. watercolours). The windows were renewed piecemeal between 1842 and 1848 but the present stonework appears to be late 19th-century (Accounts at Vicarage).

The West Tower (10¼ ft. square) is in three stages with a plain parapet. The late 14th-century tower arch has two chamfered orders springing from responds with attached shafts having moulded caps and bases. Above is a small rectangular window with chamfered surround, now blocked. A doorway with two-centred head leads to a vice; a similar doorway serves the ringing-chamber. The 14th-century W. window has two cinque-foiled lights and an external label. A single-light window in the second stage is perhaps a modern replacement or insertion. The bell chamber dates from the restoration of 1879.

The Roof of the nave is in four bays with low pitched king-post trusses and curved braces springing from wall-posts carried on late 19th-century corbels; the spandrels are filled with arcade-tracery. Over each clearstorey window is an intermediate false hammer-beam truss with foliage bosses at the ridge. The ridge-piece, purlins, and principal rafters are moulded. The aisle-roofs are low-pitched with moulded principals, curved braces springing from late 19th-century corbels, and central purlins. All these roofs are 15th-century, much restored.

Fig. 83 Stow cum Quy Church

South arcade: north side of first bay

Fittings—Bells: five by John Darbie, 1670; the fifth inscribed in black-letter with Roman capitals, 'Laudo Deum verum Populum voco congrego Clerum'. Benefactor's Table: in N. aisle, alabaster, Purbeck and black marble wall-tablet with side columns, broken pediment and cartouche of arms of Lawrence, recording benefactions in 1675 from estate of Robert Lawrence (d. 1650) (Plate 49). Brasses and Brass Indents: in nave —(1), of John Ansty (d. after 1455), figure of man in armour, part of marginal inscription in black-letter, evangelist symbol of St. Matthew, groups of twelve sons each wearing tabards with arms of Ansty, and of four daughters, and indent for wife and for shields, mid 15th-century (Plate 42). In N. chapel—(2), of Thomas Martin, 1847, and Eleanor his wife, 1825, plate with black and red inlay showing standing figures of man and woman beneath cusped arches. In S. chapel—(3), of Edward, son of John Stern, February 1641, inscription plate, oval plate with arms of Stern encircled by Latin maxim Plate 45), and indent for second plate recorded by Cole (B.M. Add. MS. 5832, 95–7). Indent: in nave for two figures, evangelist symbols, shield and two plates, 15th-century. Door: to ringing-chamber, cut-down, medieval. Font: octagonal bowl with octofoil panels enclosing blank shields, supported by half-angels and with an octagonal stem enriched with trefoil-headed panels, standing on a high moulded base; 15th-century (Plate 39). Hatchments: in aisles—(1) on canvas, of Martin; (2) on canvas, of Whichcote; both 18th- or early 19th-century.

Monuments and Floor slabs. Monuments: in N. chapel—on N. wall (1), of James Martin, 1744, white marble tablet with carved apron; (2) of Thomas Martin, 1821, and Ann his wife, 1843, white marble tablet by T. Tomson, Cambridge; (3) of Susan (Crabb) wife of William Cole Ambrose, 1828, white marble tablet by Gilbert, Cambridge. In churchyard—headstones include two of the 18th century. Floor slab: in nave—of Robert Lawrence, 1650, Frances his wife, 1645, Sarah (Childe) their daughter, 1671, and John Childe, her husband, 1672, and John Childe, the latter's son, 1683–4, black stone ledger laid down in 1675. Paintings: in nave—on S. wall, two areas of painting, one possibly of St. Christopher, medieval; to W., remains of inscription, perhaps 17th-century. Piscinae: (1), in N. chapel—in S. wall, recess with cinque-foiled ogee head and quatrefoil drain, 14th-century; (2) in S. chapel—in S. wall, recess with cinque-foiled ogee head and round drain with raised boss, 14th-century. Recess: N. of chancel arch, rectangular but irregular recess, unknown date. Royal Arms: on canvas in gilt frame, 1714–1801. Screen: under chancel arch— of five bays, the centre being wider for a doorway. The side bays are in three heights, the lowest being filled with blind panelling sub-divided two to a bay, with cinque-foiled heads and tracery, carved foliage, eagles and a mask; the middle height has tracery with cinque-foiled heads with sub-cusping, and the upper height is composed of window-forms of four lights. The centre bay is in two heights, the lower has septfoiled and sub-cusped head, and the upper has two window-forms of four lights with tracery differing slightly from that in the side bays. The posts and rails are moulded and the cornice and cresting are modern; early 15th-century (Plate 57). Stoup: in N. aisle—E. of N. doorway, recess with mutilated bowl, medieval. Miscellanea: in N. aisle—two fragments of tabernacle work and a carved male head, 14th- or 15th-century.

b(2) Methodist Chapel, of white brick with slated gabled roof, originally carried an inscription panel on the S. gable, 'Wesleyan Chapel, A.D. 1840'; the first words are now erased. The side walls each have two round-headed windows with stone sills, blocked on the E., and a buttress between them; there are smaller round-headed windows in the N. gable wall and an entrance with blocked circular fanlight on the S. On the ridge is a small slatted louvre. There are no internal fittings.

Fig. 84 Stow cum Quy (3), Quy Hall


b(3) Quy Hall, consisting of house, stables and park with earthworks (see (28) and (29)) stands N. of the village from which it is separated by Quy Water. The avenue on the S. was in existence by 1821 (Baker's Map).

The House (Fig. 84), of two storeys, has brick walls with tiled gabled roofs. It preserves the H-shaped plan of a late 16th-century house. Relhan's watercolour of the S. front shows squat first-floor windows which suggest that the central range had an inserted floor in a former open hall; however, the surviving late medieval roof timbers are apparently reset. Between the projecting wings on the N. a long entrance hall with gallery above was added, probably in the early 17th century (Plate 100). In 1868–70 the external walls were reconstructed, under W. White, reproducing on the N. the profile of the earlier house although horizontally-patterned brickwork has unified the 16th- and 17th-century phases of construction. The S. elevation (Plate 101) was redesigned omitting octagonal turrets, possibly for stairs, on the E. and W. ends (C.A.S., watercolours by Relhan of N. and S. elevations, 1808 (Plates 100 and 101); early 19th-century painting, and a photograph of S. elevation, now in house). Late 19th-century mural and ceiling decoration in 13th-century idiom, perhaps by Gambier Parry, survives unaltered in two principal rooms (Plate 102). On the N. the side wings have plain gables and the gallery between has three parallel roofs with dutch gables, the centre with triangular pediment and the side with segmental pediments. The internal planning of the house is of uncertain date. The roof (Fig. 84) of the main range includes four equally-spaced trusses of the late 15th century, probably placed in their present positions in the 16th century. The first, second and fourth trusses have cambered collars and hollow chamfered arch braces; the second is similar but always lacked the arch braces. They carry roll-and-hollow moulded purlins with mortices for wind-braces. The principal rafters, which are variously moulded below the collars, rest on later tie beams and consequently the bases of the arch braces have been removed. The three transeptal roofs of the gallery are separated by wide valleys and some 17th-century collarbraced trusses have been retained in the 19th-century reconstruction. The upper rooms in the wings have barrel-shaped plaster ceilings, probably of the 17th century. Internal fittings include three doorcases with moulded architraves, dentilled cornices, pulvinated friezes and fielded-panelled doors, of c. 1740, and a reeded white marble fireplace surround of the early 19th century.

Loose in the grounds are some moulded medieval fragments of stonework said to have come from the church of St. Nicholas, Quy (25); one is a roll-and-hollow moulded voussoir of the 13th century.

The Stables of white brick are early 19th-century. S. of the house, and terminating the avenue, is a cast-iron Bridge, in one segmental span with pierced tracery spandrels, enrichments of portcullises and roses, and railings of octagonal latticework. This bridge was bought by Clement Francis from St. John's College in c. 1853 when the Bin Brook was diverted (St. John's Coll. Muniments, drawer 104/2) and is presumably a contemporary duplicate of the existing bridge of 1822 at the College (R.C.H.M., Cambridge, 202).

The Park, covering about 150 acres, probably originated in the mid 18th century as a small park of around 20 acres which extended from the Hall to Quy Water and included an avenue and the Pond (28). The avenue, almost half a mile in length, stretched across the open fields from the S. edge of the park to the main road providing a vista from the house. The park was increased to its present limits shortly after 1840 when enclosure of the open fields provided an opportunity to acquire the land. The work involved the demolition of two farmsteads and a cottage of which the earthwork remains (29) are traceable. Also, a formal garden with a rectangular pond now dry, was formed on the S. and S.E. side of the house; a ha-ha separated it from the parkland. (Baker's Map, (1821); O.S. 1-inch map (1834); C.R.O., Enclosure Map, 1840)

b(4) House, Class T, of two storeys, white brick and slated gabled roof is early 19th-century but the N. half is earlier than the S. and may be a survival of a larger building.

b(5) House, possibly Class G, of two storeys, plastered clay bat with white brick dressings, pantiled gabled roof, is early 19th-century and possibly built round an earlier chimney stack which now has two diagonal flues and tall rectangular base in narrow yellow brick. The small unlit W. room contains a stair; on the E. and W. are modern additions.

b(6) House, of one storey and attics, framed and plastered, partly replaced in brick, with thatched gabled roof, was built in the early 19th century probably as two Class-S dwellings. Additions have been made at both ends at various times.

b(7) Range of three Class-S dwellings, of one storey and attics, pink brick walls, with tiled and pantiled mansard roof, was built c. 1820–30. The W. gable with parapet is built in alternate courses of Flemish and stretcher bonds and may be an earlier gable reduced in height; in it are two small blocked window openings. A continuous outshut on the S. and a small room on the E. are additions. The three main rooms have axial beams and staircases at the opposite end to the chimney. In the garden is a piece of medieval moulded masonry, probably the springing of a vault (see (25)).

b(8) Park Farm, of two storeys, cellars and attics, with tiled gabled roof, was built initially as a Class-I house of frame and plaster, in the mid 17th century. In the same century a singlestoreyed two-roomed block was added on the E. and a stack built against the earlier house; later, this block received an upper floor and the walls were heightened. The main house, which was encased in white brick in the early 19th century, has a rectangular projecting stair turret containing a stair with closed string, shaped splat balusters, rectangular ogival finials and hollowed pendants, rising to the attics in a number of short flights round a central well; it appears to have been reset (Plate 89). Axial beams in the main house are encased but the inserted axial beam in the E. addition and a cross beam enclosing a chimney bay are stop-chamfered. At first-floor level are swell-headed posts and tie beams.

Barn, of five bays with central entrance and one aisle with arch braces to tie beams and arcade plates, 17th-century.

b(9) White Swan, inn, Class J, of two storeys, attics and cellar, brick plinth, framed and plastered, with tiled gabled roof, may be late 17th-century. It is described as an alehouse in 1764 (C.R.O., Q. S. 4.7). The red brick chimney stack is rectangular with oversailing course. Inside, the S. end partition has been removed. All three rooms have chamfered axial beams, some stopped. The former central room has a fireplace with stop-chamfered bressummer. On the E. are later additions.

b(10) House, of one storey, attics and cellar, is plastered, with thatched and tiled roof. It was probably built in the 18th century to a Class-J plan and later converted to two Class-S dwellings by the addition of a room on the N.; by c. 1800 another room was added on the S.

b(11) House, now three Class-S dwellings, of two storeys, framed and plastered, with tiled gabled roof, originated as a three-room house of the 17th century; the W. room has been removed and on the S. is an addition of the early 19th century. The early rooms are of generous proportions and the E. room has stop-chamfered axial beam, and cross beam denoting a bay for the chimney.

b(12) The Farm (TL 529603), Class-U house, of two storeys, white brick, stone window-surrounds and platband, with slated hipped roof, was built between 1840 and 1850.

b(13) Watermill (TL 50865982), of four storeys, white brick with slated hipped roof, is early 19th-century. The iron-framed windows and some of the machinery are contemporary.

b(14), b(15), b(16), b(17), b(18) Houses, are pairs of Class-S dwellings. (14), of two storeys, red brick and tile, is 18th-century. (15), (17), (18), of two storeys or one and attics, are mostly of clunch with brick dressings, and slated gabled roofs; (16) is timber-framed with plaster scored to imitate ashlar; these last four are not shown on Baker's Map of 1821 but are on the Enclosure Map of 1840.

b(19), b(20), b(21), b(22) Houses, Class T, of two storeys or one and semi-attics, white brick, with slated gabled roofs, are early 19th-century; (21) and (22) were built between 1821 and 1840.


Prehistoric and Roman

b(23) Probable Barrow (TL 51156230), 170 yds. N. of Lower Farm, on chalk at 14 ft. above O.D., on the edge of the fens. Diam. 65 ft., ht. 1 ft. (C.B.A. Group 7, bulletin No. 2 (1955); commercial air photographs in N.M.R.).

b(24) Site of Roman Building (TL 515611) close to Quy Hall, on lower chalk, at 20 ft. above O.D. Its exact location is not known, but quantities of Roman pottery, including Horningsea and Nene Valley wares, box and roof tiles have been found in the gardens adjacent to the house; a substantial building is indicated.

Medieval and Later

For Fen Drainage see Fen Ditton (41).

Anglo-Saxon remains reputed to have been found at Quy (Ash. Mus.) are almost certainly from the large cemetery in Little Wilbraham parish. (Fox, A.C.R., 264)

b(25) Quy Church (TL 519607) stood W. of Park Farm and within the park. Until the Second World War a length of masonry walling up to 3 ft. high is said to have existed, but nothing is now visible. Pieces of medieval carved stones apparently from the site are now in the gardens of Quy Hall (3) and range (7). The church was dedicated to St. Nicholas.

ab(26) Quy Water (TL 50955945–53156300) is an artificial watercourse, almost 3 miles long, carrying the outflow from the former Fulbourn Fen into Bottisham Lode (Lode (32)).

Unlike the other major artificial watercourses in the area, Quy Water lies mostly away from the fenland. It consists of a broad channel up to 40 ft. wide which begins at the narrow entrance to Fulbourn Fen and flows N. on an embankment 4–5 ft. above the surrounding ground. It then turns N.E., cutting through a low N.W. promontory of chalk, S. of Quy Hall, and thereafter crosses almost at right angles the broad open valley of a stream flowing N.W. where massive embankments, up to 8 ft. high, contain the water until it reaches higher ground N. of Anglesey Abbey. For the rest of its course to Bottisham Lode the banks are low. The N.E. section, laid out in seven straight stretches of varying lengths, has been made more winding by subsequent clearing and cutting; in the S.W. it follows a meandering course.

The purpose of Quy Water was, as it still is, to divert water from Fulbourn Fen which originally flowed N. towards Fen Head and then N.E. across the centre of Bottisham Fen into Bottisham Lode (Geol. Survey 1-inch Map, sheet No. 188). The date of its construction is unknown but it is certainly later than the medieval drainage channels around Anglesey Abbey, one of which it blocks (Lode (3)). It was in existence by 1604 (B. M. Harl. MS. 5011, I, 38), but may be considerably earlier; later recutting perhaps produced the blocking by the Anglesey Abbey drainage ditch. This later recutting is possibly that referred to in a mid 17th-century document which records a 'Waterwork . . . almost finished' passing through the Anglesey estate (Christ's College, Muniments, Misc. B/45). This work was intended to improve the outfall from Fulbourn Fen and so ease the drainage of the Fen Head area which was allotted to the Adventurers at this time.

b(27) Remains of Brick Works (TL 520622) lies ¾ mile N.E. of Quy Hall on a thin bed of lower chalk over gault clay, at 16 ft. above O.D. The site, now ploughed, consists of uneven ground on which wasters of early 19th-century bricks have been found. The workings had been abandoned by 1840 when the area was known as Brick Kiln Ground. (C.R.O., Enclosure Map, 1840; see Lode (37) and (38))

b(28) Ornamental Pond (TL 51656105), called 'Moat' on O.S. map, 160 yds. S.E. of Quy Hall, consists of an island 200 yds. long and 30 yds. wide, lying within an unusually wide section of Quy Water (26). Until at least 1840, it comprised two long ponds lying parallel to, but unconnected with, Quy Water (C.R.O., Enclosure Map, 1840; V.C.H., Cambs II, 41); it was altered to its present form after 1840 when the park was enlarged. Both stages of its development are associated with landscape gardening, but it is possible that it originated as a headwater pond for a mill which appears to have existed prior to 1726 (C.R.O., R52/6/1).

b(29) Earthworks (TL 51806080), 460 yds. S.E. of Quy Hall and within the park, consist of a number of large building platforms, scarps and banks associated with a wide hollowway. They are the remains of two farms and a cottage, still in existence in 1840, and apparently removed soon afterwards when the park was enlarged (C.R.O., Enclosure Map, 1840).

(30) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the parish were not enclosed until 1840. Before that date, there were four large open fields covering some 920 acres lying S., E. and W. of the village. Low ridges up to 300 yds. long and 30 yds. wide, sinuous on plan, which are the remains of headlands between former furlongs, exist in five places: at TL 529607, formerly in Bradens Field, TL 537600 in Adler Field, TL 526605 and 523602 in Town Field and TL 513598 in Stow Field. (C.R.O., Enclosure Map and Award, 1840; C.U.L., Tithe Map, 1838; map in Quy Hall, 1827)