Pages 136-140

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.

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45. HILTON (D.e.).

(O.S. 6 in. XXII S.E.)

Hilton is a parish and village 5 m. S.E. of Huntingdon. The Church, the Maze and Hilton Hall are the principal monuments.


(1). Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene stands towards the S. end of the village. The walls are of pebble-rubble with some freestone and the dressings are of Barnack stone and clunch; in the S. wall of the S. aisle are some small fragments of brick of Roman character; internally most of the dressings are of clunch; the roofs are covered with lead, tiles and slates. The chancel-arch and responds are of 13th-century date, but judging from small portions of impost-mouldings on either side it was inserted in a 12th-century wall. The W. Tower was added late in the 14th century. With these exceptions the whole church, consisting of Chancel, Nave, North and South Aisles and South Porch together with the tower-arch, was re-built in the 15th century. The building was restored in 1850, in 1889, in 1904–5, when work was done to the tower, and in 1909 when the chancel was repaired.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (27½ ft. by 15 ft.) has a partly restored 15th-century E. window of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label and stops carved with a man's head and lion-mask. There are original diagonal buttresses at the angles of the E. wall and two later buttresses have been built on to the wall between them; at the apex of the wall is a 15th-century gable-cross. In the N. wall are two slightly restored 15th-century windows each of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label and lion-mask stops; on the W. the label of the westernmost window butts on to the wall of the rood-loft staircase. In the S. wall are two partly restored windows similar to those in the N. wall; the W. stop to the label of the first window is of a man's head and the remainder are of lion-masks. The S. doorway is of the 14th century and has wave-moulded jambs and two-centred head with a moulded label and lion-mask stops. The 13th-century chancel-arch is two-centred and of two hollow-chamfered orders; the square responds have each a semi-octagonal attached shaft with a moulded capital; on the E. side of the N. respond and on both sides of the S. respond are small portions of earlier impost mouldings.

The Church, Plan

The Nave (40 ft. by 14½ ft.) has 15th-century N. and S. arcades each of four bays with two-centred arches of two moulded orders, the outer continuous and the inner carried on attached half-round shafts with moulded capitals and bases; in the S. arcade the capital to the E. shaft of the first pier with the inner order above the springing has been broken off. Above the arcades is a moulded string-course and a clearstorey with a range of four windows on each side, each of two cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head; the clunch splays are of the 15th century but externally the windows are entirely modern.

The North Aisle (10¼ ft. wide) has an E. window apparently entirely modern except the re-set splays, the sill and the S. head-stop to the label. S. of it is the lower doorway to the rood-loft staircase; it has chamfered jambs and four-centred head; the upper doorway is blocked. In the N. wall are two two-light windows both entirely modern except the splays and sills; the 15th-century N. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred head with a moulded label. On the string-course below the parapet are mask-gargoyles. In the W. wall is a window similar to the N. windows and with an original sill.

The South Aisle (10¾ ft. wide) has a three-light window in the E. wall, two two-light windows in the S. wall and a two-light window in the W. wall all similar to the corresponding windows in the N. aisle; the sills, splays and most of the hood-moulds to the E. and S. windows are original as are also parts of the sill, the splay and the tracery of the W. window. The 15th-century S. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred head.

The West Tower (10¾ ft. by 10¼ ft.) is of late 14th-century date, but the N.W. corner has been re-built. The tower is externally of three stages with a projecting plinth and an embattled parapet. The two-centred tower-arch is of the 15th century and similar to the arches of the nave-arcades, but of three orders, the westernmost of which springs off the side walls of the tower; the responds have half-round attached shafts with moulded capitals similar to the piers of the nave-arcade and the shafts stop on plain square plinths with the corners chamfered off. The W. doorway has moulded jambs and a two-centred arch with a moulded label; the inner order of the arch is modern; the W. window is of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label. Below the bell-chamber in the S. and also in the W. wall is a small modern light. In each wall of the bell-chamber is a window of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label. There is a grotesque gargoyle on each face of the tower on the string-course below the parapet.

The South Porch is of 15th-century date and has a moulded parapet to the E. and W. walls and a gabled S. wall with the stump of an old cross at the apex surmounted by a modern cross. The outer archway is two-centred and of two moulded orders, the outer continuous and the inner carried on attached half - round shafts with moulded capitals and bases but the latter have been cut back on the N. side.

The Roof of the nave is of the 15th century and of four bays with five king-post trusses with curved braces to the tie-beams and moulded main timbers. The 15th-century roof over the N. aisle is of penttype and of four bays with five trusses with cambered tie-beams and curved braces; the spandrel between the tie-beam and the principal rafter of the second truss is filled with tracery. The partly restored 15th-century roof of the S. aisle is similar to that over the N. aisle and is of four bays with three trusses.

Fittings—Bells: four; 3rd by Thomas Norris, 1635. Brackets: In chancel—on E. wall, moulded shelf supported by head of man in hood with scalloped lower-edge, late 14th-century. In N. and S. walls, half-octagonal brackets, hollow-chamfered below and small round socket in top, about five feet above existing floor which has been raised, perhaps connected with lenten-veil. Brass Indent: In nave—of priest, with inscription, 15th-century. Chest: In N. aisle—of deal boards, iron-bound, with two strap-hinges and two original staples for padlocks and lock-plate, ends of chest rounded at top but oak lid is flat, probably 17th-century. Cross: (Plate 50) built into W. wall of tower—round head with Crucifixion, figure in sunk panel, stem with moulded edges, sprig of conventional foliage on front, smaller sprig on each side with three four-leaved paterae below, probably early 13th-century. Font: plain octagonal bowl with hollow-splayed under-edge, plain stem and hollow-chamfered base, 15th-century. Glass: In chancel—in N.W. window, loose panel with head of Christ and oak-leaf fragments, etc., possibly 15th-century. Monument and Floor-slabs: Monument: In chancel—set in N. wall and forming front of seat against S. wall, two pieces of alabaster panelling, probably from same monument, (a) panel with plain shield supported by two angels, (b) two quatre-foiled panels with blank shields, 15th-century. Floor-slabs: In nave —(1) to Alice Walpole, widow, 1709; (2) to Robert Walpole, 1699, aged 101. In S. aisle—(3) to Roger Peck, 1699, and Annis his wife, 1722. Niches: In nave—in E. wall, S. of chancel-arch, with chamfered projecting sill and curved back, 15th-century, jambs and head modern. In S. aisle—across S.E. angle, with moulded and shafted jambs, bowed arch, now broken away, gabled and crocketed head with part of one side-pinnacle, three-sided recess with ribbed soffit to canopy, all clunch, much damaged, 15th-century. Piscina: In chancel— with splayed jambs, two-centred head and sex-foiled drain, probably 14th-century. Plate: includes cup with band of incised ornament and cover-paten, both of 1571, and a plate of 1681, inscribed "Hilton Church in Huntingdonshire 1682." Scratchings: On piers of N. arcade of nave—initials and scratchings of various dates; on second pier the name "Moygne," 15th- or 16th-century. Stoup: In N. aisle—E. of N. doorway, in recess with roughly pointed head, of re-used stones, broken round basin, 15th- or early 16th-century. Miscellanea: Built into walls of tower, fragments of cheveron-ornament, 12th-century, moulded stones, round pier-stones, etc., of various dates.

The churchyard-wall is partly of old masonry at the W. end and is probably of the 15th century. On the S. side portions are of 17th-century date and of red and yellow brickwork. On the S. side of the S. wall is an old well.

Condition—Generally good, but S.E. pier of nave cracked and broken by settlement.


(2). The Maze, on the Green, 230 yards N.E. of the church, was cut in 1660. It is a turf maze of circular form and 53 ft. in diameter. It has been several times re-cut apparently incorrectly. In the middle is a stone pier (Plate 142) with cornice and ball-terminal and inscribed as follows —on the S. face, "Sic transit gloria mundi, Gulielmus Sparrow Gen. natus Ano. 1641, aetatis sue 88 quando obit, hos gyros formavit anno 1660"; on the E. face "Ad hoc William Sparrow departed this life the 25th of August anno Domini 1729, aged 88 years"; the other two faces bear the words "ab hoc" and "per hoc" respectively. On the S. face is an achievement-of-arms.

Condition—Fairly good.

Labyrinth at Hilton

(3). St. John's College Farm, house and moat, 620 yards N.W. of the church. The House (Plate 72) is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built, probably, late in the 15th century with a central Hall, open to the roof, and cross-wings at the E. and W. ends. The W. cross-wing has been destroyed and the Hall-block divided into two storeys. There are 17th-century and modern additions at the back. The upper storey projects at the S. end of the surviving cross-wing and on the gable is a length of running foliageborder in 17th-century pargeting. Inside the building, the Hall-block has an inserted floor with chamfered ceiling-beams. The Hall itself was of two equal bays, with a central roof-truss; the posts supporting this truss remain with a curved brace below the tie-beam on the N. side; a post further W. in the S. wall may indicate the position of the purlin, but the truss, if it exists, is concealed in a partition. The E. wing has an original moulded ceiling-beam in the front room. The back room has been reconstructed, probably in the 17th century and has a chamfered ceiling-beam and wide fireplace. The roof retains much of its original form with a plain king-post and curved braces to the central purlin.

The Moat is fragmentary.

Condition—Of house, good.

(4). Hilton Hall (Plate 149), house and pigeon-house, 300 yards N. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century on a rectangular plan with a staircase-wing on the S. The building was refronted in the 18th century and there are modern additions on the E. The sides and back of the house have brick bands between the storeys. Inside the building, the ground-floor rooms have original moulded ceiling-beams, one being enriched with guilloche-ornament; the E. room has a fireplace with a moulded lintel. The original staircase (Plate 164) has moulded rails, symmetrically-turned balusters and square newels with moulded terminals and pendants.

The Pigeon-house (Plate 166), S. of the house, is a square building of brick and of two storeys with a pyramidal roof, saddle-backed at the top. It was built, probably, late in the 17th century.

Condition—Of house, good.

Monuments (5–17).

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 or covered with corrugated iron. Some of the buildings have original chimney-stacks, open fireplaces, and exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.

(5). Cottage, on the N. side of Graveley Way, 250 yards E. of (3), has been refronted with early 18th-century brick. The original chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts and pilasters.

(6). Old George Inn, E. of (5) has an original chimney-stack, similar to that of (5).

(7). Cottage, on the S. side of Graveley Way, 120 yards E.S.E. of (3).

(8). Cross Roads Farm (Plate 72), 400 yards N. of the church, is of T-shaped plan, with the cross-wing at the W. end. There is a modern block on the W. side. The original chimney-stack has two detached diagonal shafts. Inside the building, one room has an original moulded ceiling-beam.

(9). Cottage, and smithy, 100 yards W.S.W. of (8).

(10). Manor Farm, house and barn, on the N. side of the green, 400 yards N.E. of the church. The House is of brick and was built early in the 18th century. It is of two storeys with attics and has a moulded band between the storeys and a moulded eaves-cornice; the hipped roof has three dormer-windows.

The Barn, N. of the house is of brick and of four bays with a double range of loops.

(11). Cottage, 180 yards E. of (10), has a cross-wing and a lower section on the W. which may be of earlier date. The original chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts.

(12). Cottage, three tenements, on the S. side of the green, 280 yards S. of (11).


(13). Barns, two, at Grange Farm, 50 yards W. of (12) are weather-boarded. The eastern barn is of seven bays with aisles and a queen-post roof, perhaps of the 16th century. The western barn is of six bays and partly of two storeys. Some of the timber-framing is exposed.

Condition—Of eastern barn, poor; of western, good.

(14). Park Farm, house 200 yards E.N.E. of the church, was built about the middle of the 16th century on an L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the S. and E. The original chimney-stack at the E. end of the house has two octagonal shafts with moulded bases; the shafts are decorated with fleurs-de-lis and roses in relief, respectively. The S. wing has an original chimney-stack, re-built above the base, and a 17th-century stack with two square shafts. Inside the building, the E. room has an original moulded ceiling-beam and is lined with early 18th-century panelling with a moulded cornice and an eared architrave to the fireplace. There are other early 18th-century fittings including the staircase, which has turned balusters and moulded rails. On the first floor there is said to be a Stuart royal arms and Prince of Wales' feathers, painted on plaster, but now covered up.

(15). Church Farm, house and pigeon-house, 100 yards S.E. of the church. The House was burnt down some years ago and only a late 17th-century chimney-stack now remains standing.

The Pigeon-house, S. of the house, is a square 18th-century building of brick with a pyramidal roof and 'lantern.'

(16). House (Plate 73), formerly the Red Cow Inn, 120 yards N.E. of the church, was built in the 15th century with a central Hall and cross-wings at the N. and S. ends. The N. cross-wing has been destroyed and the Hall divided into two storeys. Inside the building, the inserted floor of the Hall has an early 17th-century moulded ceiling-beam and exposed joists. In the S. cross-wing is an original moulded ceiling-beam carved with paterae. In the back room is an early 18th-century corner-cupboard and a panelled door of the same date.

(17). Cottage (Plate 73), called the Old Vicarage, now three tenements, 250 yards N.E. of the church, is of L-shaped plan, with the wings extending towards the S. and E.