An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
48. HOUGHTON (D.d.).
(O.S. 6 in. XVIII S.E.)
Houghton is a parish and village 3 m. E. of Huntingdon. The Church is the principal monument.
(1). Parish Church of St. Mary stands in the village. The walls are mainly of pebble-rubble with dressings of Barnack stone; the N. aisle is mostly of modern brick. The roofs are covered with tiles and lead. The Chancel was built or re-built in the second half of the 13th century. In the second half of the 14th century the Nave was largely re-built and perhaps lengthened, the North Aisle and the clearstorey added and, a little later, the West Tower and spire were re-built. A S. porch was added in the 16th or 17th century. The chancel was restored in 1851 and the whole church in 1870–1; the South Porch and the N. wall of the N. aisle are largely modern.
The tower and spire are a departure from the form usual in the district, but otherwise the church has no features of special interest.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (33¼ ft. by 16¼ ft.) has an E. window of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the opening and label are of the 14th century and the tracery of the 15th century. The E. gable has mask-stop corbels at the base and the angles of the building terminate in head-stops on the tabling of the buttress. In the N. wall is an early 14th-century window of two trefoiled ogee lights with net-tracery in a two-centred head; the jambs and mullions are moulded; further E. is an early 14th-century doorway with moulded jambs, acutely pointed head and moulded label. In the S. wall are three windows, the easternmost is of late 14th-century date and of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a re-used 13th-century label and mask-stops; the middle window is a single trefoiled lancet-light, of c. 1300, with hollow-chamfered jambs and head; the westernmost window is of early 14th-century date and of two trefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with moulded jambs and restored mullion and W. jamb. The 13th-century chancel-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting on moulded corbels with 'knotted' terminations; the soffit of the inner order is grooved for a boarded tympanum; the label on the W. face appears to have been re-set and the whole arch is somewhat distorted.
The Nave (48¼ ft. by 17¼ ft.) has a 14th-century N. arcade of four bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the octagonal columns have moulded capitals and bases; the E. respond has a moulded corbel with a defaced head beneath it; the W. springing of the W. arch is enveloped in the tower-buttress. In the S. wall are two 15th-century windows each of three cinque-foiled lights with modern vertical tracery in a four-centred head, with casement-moulded jambs and a re-used 14th-century label with head-stops; one stop to the eastern window is missing; the late 14th-century S. doorway has double shafted jambs and moulded two-centred arch with a label springing from the outer pair of jamb-shafts; at the E. end of the wall is a recess to provide more room for a nave-altar; it has a chamfered two-centred head probably of the 14th century, and at the back of the recess is a blocked opening, showing externally as a patch and having a thin oak lintel. The clearstorey has on the N. side four square late 14th-century windows each enclosing a quatrefoil, modern externally.
The North Aisle (6¼ ft. wide) is modern except the E. and W. walls. In the E. wall is a blocked window with a square head, of late 14th- or early 15th-century date.
The West Tower (10½ ft. square) is of three stages with a spire (Plate 4), all of late 14th-century date; the two lower stages have clasping buttresses at the W. angles. The ground-stage has splayed internal angles resting on small squinches about 5 ft. above the floor. The two-centred tower-arch is of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting on round attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The W. window is similar to the easternmost window in the S. wall of the chancel; the W. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred arch and is set in a slight projection. The second stage has a square-headed window in the W. wall. The bell-chamber is square below and octagonal above with an embattled parapet and tabled angles on which stand the panelled shafts of pinnacles now lacking their cappings. In each face of the stage is a window of two cinque-foiled lights in a two-centred head with a moulded label. The spire of ashlar has a heavy entasis and two ranges of openings; the four lower openings are each of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a gabled head; the four upper openings are each of one trefoiled light in a gabled head.
The South Porch has been largely re-built but has a 16th-century or later outer archway, with splayed jambs, four-centred arch and moulded label; on the W. jamb is the date 1664 in large figures.
Fittings—Bells: 1st by Newcombe of Leicester, 16th-century, inscribed "Virg Bego Egach" probably intended for "Virgo Bega hec"; 2nd to 5th by W. Haulsey, 1626. Piscina: In chancel —double, with moulded two-centred arches, labels with mask-stops, shafted jambs and free shaft with moulded caps and bases, two round drains and old wooden shelf, mid to late 13th-century. Plate: includes early 17th-century cup with Elizabethan stem, no marks. Seat: In N. aisle—at W. end, stone seat (Plate 141) with shaped arms with chamfered edges, 13th-century, not in situ.
Condition—Fairly good, but cracks in walls of tower.
(2). George and Dragon Inn, 160 yards N.N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 16th century with a central Hall and cross-wings at the E. and W. ends; the E. cross-wing has been re-built and is now roofed in continuation with the Hall. The W. end has 17th-century plaster-work in panels and at the back of the W. wing is a chimney-stack of the same date with diagonal pilaster strips. Inside the building, the former Hall has original moulded ceiling-beams, with a moulded stop and a wall-post at the S. end of the cross-beam; the moulded wall-plates have been mostly cut away except for a portion on the N. side which has a shield divided quarterly. The W. wing has chamfered ceiling-beams.
(3). House (Plate 72), on the E. side of the road, 300 yards N.N.E. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. The house was built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S. and E. There is an 18th-century addition in the angle between the wings and a modern addition at the N. end. The upper storey projects on the W. front and at the S. end with a curved diagonal bracket at the angle; two original brackets on the W. side have conventional ornament. The central chimney-stack is original and has three octagonal shafts with moulded bases. The gable at the S. end projects and has a moulded base-beam. On the first floor are remains of an oriel-window, now blocked; adjoining are remains of ornamental pargeting of a lozengy design. Inside the building, the ground-floor rooms have exposed ceiling-beams, two being moulded and one having geometrical ornament in addition.
(4). House, now three tenements, on the S. side of the road, 150 yards N.E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built in the first half of the 16th century with a cross-wing at the E. end. The upper storey projects on the N. front and at the E. end on exposed joists and curved brackets with a diagonal bracket at the angle. In the E. wall is an original window with moulded frame and mullion. The 17th-century central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts. Inside the building some original chamfered ceiling-beams are exposed.
(5). Birchdene, house on the N. side of the road, 30 yards N.E. of (4) is of two storeys. The walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. The house is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the W. and S. The W. wing was built in the 17th century but the main or S. wing was added in the 18th century. Inside the building are some original chamfered and moulded ceiling-beams. The early 18th-century staircase has turned balusters, moulded strings and rails and square newels with ball-pendants.
(6). Houghton Mill, 120 yards S.S.E. of the church, is of three storeys with attics, timber-framed and weather-boarded; the roofs are tiled. It was built, probably, in the 17th century and is of massive timber-framed construction but without any definite indication of date.