An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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43. HEMINGFORD ABBOTS (D.e.).
(O.S. 6 in. XXII N.E.)
Hemingford Abbots is a parish and village 2 m. W. of St. Ives. The Church is the principal monument.
(1). Parish Church of St. Margaret stands on the S. side of the river and on the N. side of the village. The chancel is of brick and the rest of the walls are of stone-rubble with Barnack-stone dressings; the roofs are covered with lead, copper and slates. Parts of the existing building, which formerly had a central tower, may be of the 12th century. Late in the 13th century the Aisles were built or re-built, followed c. 1300 by the arcades, arches were also inserted or re-built in the N., S. and E. walls of the former central tower, the W. wall of the tower removed, arches thrown across the aisles opposite the destroyed W. wall, and a clearstorey added. The West Tower was built late in the 14th century and partly within the W. end of the nave, and c. 1500 the clearstorey was raised and partly re-built. The Chancel was re-built in the 19th century and other work done in modern times includes the restoration of the S. aisle in 1872, the rebuilding of the South Porch in the following year, restorations in 1875–6 and 1887 and the rebuilding of the spire in 1911. The Organ chamber and Vestry are also modern.
The painted roof of the nave is noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Chancel is entirely modern except the chancel-arch which is of c. 1300; it is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the outer dying on to the wall and the inner springing from semi-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases; the base to the N. respond is mutilated and that to the S. respond is covered by the modern flooring.
The Nave (52¾ ft. by 15¼ ft.) has a N. arcade of four bays; the first arch, of c. 1300, is two-centred and struck from below the springing-level; it is of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous on the E. and the inner carried on a semi-octagonal respond with a moulded capital, similar to those below the chancel-arch, and a partly hidden moulded base; the first pier is octagonal and the full width of the wall it carries, and has a moulded abacus with an incised moulding below; the second and third piers are of c. 1300 and are octagonal with moulded capitals, but the bases are hidden below the present floor; the arches are two-centred and of two chamfered orders with stops to the outer orders; the westernmost arch is not complete, the western half abutting against the E. wall of the W. tower which has been built partly within the nave. At the E. end of the arcade is the upper doorway to the rood-loft staircase; the lower part is blocked and the head is cut into the springing of the chancel-arch. The S. arcade (Plate 75) is of four bays similar to those in the N. arcade; the second pier has three sockets cut in the S. face, and built into the wall on the nave side, above the first pier, is a corbel of a woman's head with a wimple. The wall above the first bay of the arcade on each side is thicker than that of the more western parts, indicating the position of the former central tower. The clearstorey has in the N. wall three windows; the first and second are of early 16th-century date and each of three trefoiled lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label and the third is of late 14th-century date, re-set early in the 16th century and of two trefoiled lights with a trefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label. Traces of three of the windows of the earlier and lower clearstorey of c. 1300 remain, and, from some curved stone-work visible externally at the W. end, they would appear to have been circular; portions of the internal splays of all three windows are visible above the crowns of the three western arches of the nave-arcade. In the S. wall (Plate 75) are three partly restored windows similar to those in the N. wall; the two easternmost have carved stops, (a) a lion's mask; (b) a crowned head; (c) a small shield charged with the letter 'P'; (d) a small shield charged with the letter 'E'; remains of the splays of the three earlier clearstorey windows remain also on this side.
The North Aisle (9¾ ft. wide) has an early 14th-century E. window of three unequal trefoiled lights with a trefoil in a two-centred head with soffit cusping and a moulded label with carved head-stops. The N. wall has three windows, the easternmost is of 14th-century date and of two trefoiled lights in a square head, and the second window is partly restored but of about the same date and of two uncusped ogee-headed lights in a square head; the 14th-century N. doorway has moulded jambs and a two-centred head with a moulded label retaining one mutilated head-stop; the third window is similar to the easternmost. The late 13th-century W. window is of two uncusped lights and a quatrefoil above under a moulded label with mask-stops. Between the first two windows in the N. wall is a semi-octagonal moulded corbel with a tapering bell terminating in a carved leaf; it supports the lower voussoirs of the inner order of a destroyed arch which sprang from the N. wall of the nave above the first pier and which originally supported the W. wall of the former central tower; the arch was of two chamfered orders and of c. 1300. In the S. wall E. of the nave-arcade is a square-headed blocked doorway to the former rood-loft staircase and in the W. end of the wall is a blocked doorway to the staircase to the W. tower; it is of late 15th-century date and has hollow-chamfered jambs and two-centred head.
The South Aisle (12½ ft. wide) has an E. window completely modern except the segmental-pointed rear-arch and splays which are probably of the 14th century; externally, to the N. of this window is the N. jamb and part of the semi-circular head of an earlier blocked window, which is possibly of late 12th-century date. The S. wall has, at the E. end, a late 13th-century internal wall-arcade formerly of at least five bays with chamfered jambs and two-centred arches; the two easternmost arches have been converted into one; this was probably done when the present easternmost window was inserted late in the 15th or early in the 16th century; in this wall are three windows, the easternmost of three cinque-foiled lights with casement-moulded jambs and a four-centred head with a moulded label and defaced stops; the mullions and heads of the lights are modern; the second window is of late 14th-century date and of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. The westernmost window is of three lights and externally is completely modern, but the splays are probably of late 15th-century date; the late 13th-century S. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch of two chamfered orders. The late 13th-century W. window is of two plain pointed lights with a plain spandrel in a two-centred head. Across the aisle from above the first pier of the nave-arcade to the middle bay of the arcade on the S. wall is an early 14th-century arch of two orders, the outer chamfered and the inner wave-moulded and springing on the S. from a moulded corbel terminating in a crowned head.
The West Tower (12 ft. by 12¾ ft.) is of late 14th-century date and is of three stages with a moulded plinth and an embattled parapet and is surmounted by a re-built spire. The angle-buttresses are semi-hexagonal on plan in the first stage, semi-octagonal in the second stage and diagonal in the third stage; they are finished with gabled and crocketed pinnacles; at the angle surmounting the first stage of each buttress is a small crocketed pinnacle with an ogee-headed cinque-foiled panel; the tops of all these pinnacles have been broken off as have also the carved monsters below, except that to the N.W. buttress which is of a grotesque man stroking his beard. The tower-arch is two-centred and of three chamfered orders; the two outer die on to the responds and the inner is carried on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The W. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred head with a moulded label; the W. window is of three cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label. The second stage has in the S. wall a single cinque-foiled light. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label, and all except the E. window, have grotesque stops. The spire is a modern rebuilding, with the old material.
The South Porch was re-built in 1873 but incor-porates a considerable amount of old material. The outer archway, of c. 1300, has stopped jambs and two-centred arch of two chamfered orders; the jambs have attached semi-circular shafts with moulded capitals and bases. At the angles of the parapet are grotesque gargoyles.
The Roof of the nave is of early 16th-century date and of low pitch in five bays with moulded and cambered tie-beams supported by moulded wall-posts with curved braces; each bay is divided into eight panels by moulded ridge, purlins and principal-rafters with carved and foliated bosses at the intersections, that in the middle of the E. tie-beam being a pomegranate-sprig; the rafters are hollow-chamfered and the wall-plates are moulded and have two members carved with twisted leaf-foliage; below the wall-posts are small robed figures each holding a shield, except two which hold open books; at the ends of the principal rafters are angels holding musical instruments, shields, books or scrolls. The first bay (Plate 46) of the roof was painted and most of the colour remains; the decoration is of a nebuly design in red, black and white with Tudor roses and leaves on the braces; the shields appear to have been emblems of the Passion; on the W. face of the E. tie-beam is the following 'black-letter' inscription "Venite benedicti patris mei et [ite] maledicti in ignem eternum," doubtless referring to a 'Doom' once painted over the chancel-arch; and on the W. face of the second tie-beam "Pray for Wyllm basele and for hys wyvs"; the boarding to the roof is modern. The pent-roof of the N. aisle is of two bays with moulded principal rafters and purlins with foliated bosses at the intersections and curved braces with foliated spandrels against the N. wall; the first six bays are of early 16th-century date and the four western are of late 15th-century date and have plain common rafter and braces, one of which has been re-used and one carried down on to a semi-octagonal capital. The pent-roof of the S. aisle is perhaps of the 17th century and has plain chamfered timbers.
Fittings—Bracket: in S. aisle—on S. wall, square, with two sides chamfered on plain chamfered corbel. Brass Indent: In floor of chancel—partly hidden by modern seating, slab for brass with indent of cross in middle and marginal inscription in Lombardic capitals "[persu]ne: de: le: eglise: de [h]emyn[gf]ord . . ." Coffin: Under W. bay of N. arcade—stone coffin and lid, found in Rectory field, with a beaker of Roman type. Font: with octagonal bowl carved with crude arcading, one arch on each face, and supported on central circular shaft and four small octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases, early 13th-century, upper edge partly restored. Locker: In S. aisle— in S. wall, rectangular with rebate for door. Monuments and Floor-slabs: Monuments: In chancel— on N. wall, (1) to Joshua Barnes S.T.B., 1712, marble tablet flanked by Ionic pilasters supporting vases and having a draped projecting canopy above and an apron below carved with cherub-heads and an achievement-of-arms; on S. wall, (2) to Edward Mason, 1700–1, and Mary his widow, 1726, wife of Joshua Barnes, two black marble panels with moulded cornice and shield-on-arms above. In nave—on S. wall, (3) of James Maxey, A.M., 1710, black marble panel on limestone tablet with moulded shelf and cornice surmounted by bust. In churchyard, S. of church, (4) to "An Sparo" [Ann, daughter of William Sparrow] 1694, head-stone; (5) to Mary Scarbrow, 1700–1, head-stone; Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) lozenge-shaped stone inscribed "I.B., S.T.B., G.P., A.D. 1712"; (2) to John Smith, 1713, sometime rector of the parish. Painting: On N. wall of N. aisle, remains of figure of St. Christopher, probably 15th-century. Piscina: In S. aisle—with stop-chamfered jambs and two-centred head with circular drain, partly broken. Sundials: On first buttress of S. wall, two, incised, one complete without gnomon, one in part only. Table: In S. aisle—at W. end, with turned legs, deep panelled top rail and plain bottom rail; two folding lids on top with box-wells below, early 17th-century.
(2). Homestead Moat, on the E. side of Watt's Lane, 600 yards S.S.E. of the church.
(3). Base of Cross, on E. side of cross-roads, 240 yards S.S.E. of the church, has the stump of the stem of the cross still in the socket. The base is shaped like an inverted mortar, but is said to be a solid block.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Some of the buildings have original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good or fairly good.
(4). House, on the N. side of the lane, ½ m. W.N.W. of the church, was built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century. Inside the building, one room has an original moulded ceiling-beam and an open fireplace with an early 18th-century moulded shelf. There is also a panelled door of the same date.
(5). Whitehall, house (Plate 148), 280 yards E.S.E. of (4), is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.W. and N.E. The end walls of the main N.W. wing are of brick and have shaped gables. The front has been modernised. Inside the building are some original doors and two fireplaces with chamfered lintels.
(6). Cottage, 60 yards E.S.E. of (5), has exposed timber-framing at the ends. The upper storey projects on the western half of the S. front. The original central chimney-stack has two grouped diagonal shafts. Inside the building, the middle room has an original moulded ceiling-beam with geometrical enrichment. On the first floor is an original panelled door with strap-hinges having foliated ends.
(7). House, on the S. side of the lane, 170 yards W. of the church, is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S.E. and S.W. The S.W. wing is continued through to the front of the house, where the upper storey projects. Inside the building the middle room has an original moulded and carved ceiling-beam.
(8). Cottage, on the N. side of the road, 120 yards S.S.W. of the church, has two added wings in front.
(9). Axe and Compass Inn, E. of (8), has the lower storey refaced in brick. Inside the building, the fireplace in the middle room has a moulded lintel.
(10). Barns, two, on the W. side of the road, 60 yards S. of the church, are both weather-boarded.
(11). Barn, formerly cottage, E. of the churchyard, has a cross-wing at the S.E. end. The upper storey projects at the S.W. end of the cross-wing and the timber-framing is exposed on its S.E. side.
(12). Cottage, on S. side of by-road, 300 yards S. of the church.
(13). Cottage, on the N.E. side of the road, 60 yards S.S.E. of the church, has an original central chimney-stack with grouped diagonal shafts.
(14). House, on the E. side of Watt's Lane, 600 yards S.E. of the church, was built c. 1741, but incorporates earlier material. On the back of the house are two stone tablets inscribed R.P. 1600 and R.P. 1741. Inside the building one room is lined with early 18th-century panelling with a cornice and the fireplace has an eared architrave. The middle room has an early 17th-century moulded ceiling-beam with geometrical enrichment.
(15). House, on the S. side of the road, ½ m. S.E. of the church.