Orton Waterville

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

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'Orton Waterville', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire, (London, 1926) pp. 194-198. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/hunts/pp194-198 [accessed 20 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. 6 in. V N.W.)

Orton Waterville is a village and parish on the S. of the Nene, 3 m. S.W. of Peterborough. The Church and Manor farm are the principal monuments.


(1). A villa 2 m. S. of the village seems to be indicated by the discovery in 1861 of tesserae and and a black indented urn of the 3rd century, now in Peterborough Museum.


(2). Parish Church of St. Mary stands on the E. side of the village. The walls are of limestone-rubble with dressings of Barnack stone; the roofs are covered with lead and slates. The bases and probably also the capitals of the N. arcade of the Nave are of the 12th century but the arcade generally was re-built c. 1270. The S. arcade, the South Aisle and the lower part of the West Tower are of a slightly later date, c. 1270–80, and the chancel-arch is of c. 1300–10. The outer wall of the South Porch is of c. 1270, but in the first half of the 14th century the side walls and also the N. and S. aisles were considerably re-built, and later, probably in the 15th century, the N. arcade was largely reconstructed and a clearstorey was added to the nave. In the 15th century the upper part of the W. tower was added and in the 16th or 17th century the Chancel was re-built. In 1753 the nave-roof was re-built and various repairs have been made in modern times.

The church is of some architectural interest, and among the fittings the pulpit is an unusually fine and well-preserved example of its date.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (29½ ft. by 20 ft.) is entirely of 16th-century date unless otherwise stated. In the E. wall is a blocked four-light window with chamfered jambs and square head. In the N. wall are two similar two-light windows not blocked. In the S. wall are two windows similar to those opposite; between them is a doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred head; W. of the doorway is a small external recess or blocked window, with chamfered jambs and trefoiled ogee head with a trefoil above; it is of the 14th century, re-set. The chancel-arch is of c. 1300–10, two-centred and of two moulded orders, with slightly repaired responds of triple engaged shafts with moulded capitals; the bases have been cut away and the lower courses are of very narrow, re-used stones; the stop-chamfered angles terminate at the springing on the N. side in small trefoils and on the S. in shaped stops.

The Nave (46½ ft. by 15 ft.) has an N. arcade of c. 1270, altered in the 15th century, of four bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders with a moulded label on the S. side; the piers are octagonal with semi-octagonal responds and have moulded capitals from which the former foliage has been cut away and round chamfered bases on square plinths; the bases are of the 12th century and the capitals have probably been cut from circular to octagonal form; the arcade appears to have been re-built and the capital to the first pier is several inches higher than the others, the piers have some modern repairs. The S. arcade is of c. 1270–80 and of four bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders with a chamfered label on the N. side and three carved head-stops; the piers are octagonal with semi-octagonal responds and have moulded capitals of varying section and much-worn moulded bases; the capital to the second pier is carved with elaborate 'stiff-leaf' foliage (Plate 55). The 15th-century clearstorey has three windows in the N. wall and two in the S. wall, each of two lights, with square heads; a third window in the E. end of the S. wall has been widened.

The North Aisle (10¼ ft. wide) has in the E. wall a window of c. 1330–40 of three trefoiled ogee lights with moulded jambs and net-tracery in a two-centred head. In the N. wall are three windows; the first is of late 15th-century date and of a single cinque-foiled light in a square head with a moulded label and the second and third are each of c. 1330–40 and of two trefoiled lights with a two-centred traceried head and a moulded label; the N. door-way is of c. 1330–40 and has jambs and two-centred head of one chamfered and one hollow-chamfered order, with a moulded label and defaced stops. The W. wall has a mid 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label.

The South Aisle (10 ft. wide) has in the E. wall a three-light window and in the S. wall two two-light windows all similar to the corresponding windows in the N. aisle, but the westernmost has some modern repairs; in the E. end of the S. wall is a small late 16th-century single-light window with plastered jambs and triangular head; the S. doorway is of c. 1320 and has a chamfered plinth, elaborately moulded jambs and two-centred head with a moulded label. In the W. wall is a two-light window similar to that in the W. wall of the N. aisle.

The West Tower (8 ft. square) is of three stages with a chamfered plinth and an embattled parapet. The ground-stage has in the E. wall a late 13th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred head. In the N. and S. walls are small loops with square heads; that in the N. wall is now blocked. The second stage has in the N. and S. walls similar loops to those in the ground-stage; on the E. wall can be traced the lines of a former roof to the nave. The bell-chamber has in each wall a late 15th- or early 16th-century window of two transomed lights having trefoiled lower lights and cinque-foiled upper lights with moulded jambs and a four-centred head with a moulded label. The parapet has a moulded string with beast-head gargoyles at the angles, cinque-foiled-headed panels to the merlons, coupled quatrefoil panels below the crenels and panelled and crocketed pinnacles at the angles.

The South Porch has an outer archway of c. 1270, two-centred and of two hollow-chamfered orders with a moulded label and defaced head-stops; the responds have triple attached shafts with capitals, carved with 'stiff-leaf' foliage and mutilated moulded bases.

The Roof of the chancel is of 16th-century date but has considerable modern repairs; it is of flat pitch divided into four bays by moulded tie-beams with wall-posts and braces and the ridge and purlins are also moulded. The roof to the nave was reconstructed in 1753 but incorporated in it are some re-used timbers. The aisles have much restored 'lean-to' roofs with curved tie-beams.

Fittings—Bells: four; 1st by Thomas Norris, 1670; 3rd by Tobias Norris, 1606. Brackets: In N. aisle—in N.E. corner, semi-octagonal with shaped sides and moulded upper and lower edges; in S.E. corner, semi-octagonal with hollow-chamfered under-side. In S. aisle—at E. end, roughly shaped; mouldings partly cut away; on E. wall, (a) semi-octagonal, with chamfered shelf supported on carved corbel (Plate 118) of man's head and shoulders with hands resting on chest, 15th-century; (b) plain, chamfered and semi-octagonal. Brass and Indents. Brass: In N. aisle—to John de Herlyngton, 1408, inscription and indent of shield below. Indents: In chancel—(1) in Purbeck-marble slab, of inscription-plate; (2) set in step to chancel, with rivets. Chairs: (Plate 40) In chancel—two, with shaped and inlaid splat back, shaped and inlaid front to seat and cabriole front legs, late 17th- or early 18th-century. Communion Table: In N. aisle—with turned legs and moulded brackets to front rail, 17th-century. Cupboard: In N. aisle—at W. end, with two panelled doors, moulded cornice, flat pedimental top and three flat shaped pinnacles, 17th-century, considerably repaired. Door: to tower-doorway, of over-lapping battens with two-centred head and two large strap-hinges with shaped ends, 15th- or 16th-century. Font: octagonal, with plain bowl with chamfered under-edge supported on plain central octagonal stem and four small octagonal shafts with plain capitals and moulded bases, all on large circular plinth, c. 1300. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In churchyard—by S. doorway, to George Heales, 1676, head-stone with inscription set within decorative round-headed arch. Others with illegible inscriptions, possibly of 17th-century date. Floor-slabs: In N. aisle—(1) to E.M., 1692; (2) late 17th-century but partly hidden by modern boarding. In S. aisle—at E. end (3) part of inscription only, probably 17th-century. Panelling: In N. aisle—at W. end, partly hidden, with bolection-moulded panels, late 17th- or early 18th-century. Piscinae: In N. aisle—with chamfered two-centred head and octofoiled drain, 14th-century. In S. aisle—with chamfered jambs, trefoiled ogee head and sex-foiled drain, front of shelf cut away, 14th-century. Plate: includes a cup and paten both of 1683 and a small dish or paten, probably secular, late 17th-century. Pulpit: (Plate 107) of oak, hexagonal, with elaborately panelled sides having on each face small recessed arch with 'jewelled' responds and archivolt and carved spandrels and flanked by carved and panelled pilasters with carved capitals supporting an entablature with deep frieze, and dentilled cornice; in frieze, panels carved with foliated designs and flanked by projecting brackets above the pilasters with upper part carved in form of grotesque woman; carved and panelled plinth on carved convex base with two crowned fleurs-de-lis, putti, etc., with mouldings below having scroll-brackets at the angles terminating at the top in grotesque beast-heads and rising off moulded capital of truncated stem; stem and base gone; part of sounding-board, now fixed above N. door, retains five rectangular panels on soffit, moulded and carved with conventional floral design and one triangular panel carved with winged cherub-head, late Elizabethan, said to have been brought from a church or college-chapel in Cambridge. Royal Arms: In S. aisle, above S. doorway, of oak, carved in relief, achievement of the Stuart arms. Recess: In S.W. angle of chancel, semi-circular with pointed segmental head, upper part plastered and lower lined with modern panelling, 16th-century. Stall: (Plate 40) In chancel— with standards to bench and carved popey-heads; desk with panelled front and standards with strapwork brackets, shaped feet and carved popey-heads with vine-ornament; on inner side, two shelves, one scratched with initials "T.C. 1713," 16th-century desk, subsequently altered. Sundials: On doorway to S. porch, below W. stop to label (1) scratched with radiating lines and sinking for gnomon; (2) on E. buttress to S. porch, similar to (1). Miscellanea: Incised carving on stone in sill to westernmost window in N. wall of N. aisle, of septfoil, constructed of intersecting circles within a circle, partly cut away when adapted for sill.

Condition—Good, but stonework of top of tower requires attention.


(3). Manor Farm, house and brew-house W. of the church. The House is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble with some Barnack-stone dressings and the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1571 on an H-shaped plan with the cross-wings on the N. and S. There is a 17th-century addition on the N. and modern additions on the E. and W. of the main block. The W. front (Plate 47) of the main block has three two-light transomed windows with moulded jambs, mullions and labels; the two gabled dormers have each a similar window without label. The ends of the cross-wings have similar windows of three or more lights with labels but, except for the lower window in the S. wing, without transoms. The apex of the gable of the N. wing has a carved lion and at the S. end of the gable of the S. wing is a square panel inscribed 1571 R.M. There are other original windows, of similar character to those in front, in the S. and E. walls of the S. wing. Inside the building some original chamfered ceiling-beams and plates are exposed. On the ground-floor of the main block is an original stone doorway (Plate 116) with moulded jambs, stopped a little below the square head, plain flanking pilasters with moulded bases and a continuous cornice supporting a curious cresting. The cresting has enriched pedestals, above the pilasters, surmounted by discs and a middle panel with a zig-zag coping and with the crowned inscription "Anno 1571 R.M., A.M."

The Brew-house, N.E. of the house, is of stone with a tiled roof. It is a rectangular 17th-century building, gabled towards the E. and W. and the roof has tie-beams and collars.


Monuments (4–20).

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are covered with thatch, stone slates or tiles. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams and original chimney-stacks.

Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.

Town Street. E. side

(4). Cottage, ¼ m. N. of the church. The gables have moulded copings and in the S. gable is a blocked original opening.

(5). Cottage, three tenements, 100 yards S.S.W. of (4).

(6). Cottage, two tenements and post office, S. of (5).

(7). Cottage, 20 yards S.S.W. of (6), has an original chimney-stack at the S. end with moulded cornice and necking.

(8). Cottage, 20 yards S.S.W. of (7).

Orton Waterville, Plan Showing the Position of Monuments

(9). House, 40 yards S.S.W. of (8), has five original windows in front, one of two and the rest of four square-headed lights with moulded jambs, mullions and labels. At the back are two blocked windows of similar character. Inside the building, one room has a late 17th-century fireplace with a moulded architrave and cornice. At the top of the staircase is an original newel and some flat shaped balusters.

(10). Windmill Inn, 150 yards S.S.W. of (9), has a modern E. wing and has been refaced with modern brick.

(11). Cottage, three tenements, S. of (10), is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and E. The W. front has three gabled dormers. Set in the wall at the back is a 13th-century moulded capital.

(12). Dovecote (Plate 166) at Rectory, 130 yards S.S.W. of the church, is a square building with a pyramidal roof.

(13). Cottage 140 yards S. of (11).

W. side

(14). House and barn, 40 yards S.W. of (13). The House has three gabled dormers in front and shaped brackets at the base of the N. gable.

The Barn, S. of the house, has an iron roof. In the E. gable is a panel inscribed A.S. 1682.

(15). Cottage, at road-fork 140 yards N. of (14).

(16). Cottage, opposite (3), has a later extension on the N. and modern additions at the back. Used as a doorstep is a marble slab with the indent of a brass.

(17). Cottage, two tenements, 180 yards N.N.E. of (16), has a modern extension on the N. and modern additions at the back.

(18). Cottage, 160 yards N.N.E. of (17), has an early 18th-century addition on the S.

(19). Cottage 15 yards N. of (18).

(20). Cottage, two tenements, opposite (4).