An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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63. PAXTON, LITTLE (C.e.).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)XXV. N.W., (b)XXV. N.E.)
Little Paxton is a parish and village 2 m. N. of St. Neots. The Church is the principal monument.
(1). Parish Church of St. James stands in the village. The walls are generally of pebble-rubble with some freestone and ironstone-rubble in the W. tower; the dressings are of Barnack and Ketton stone with some clunch and some of the quoins to the top stage of the W. tower are of ironstone. The roofs are covered with tiles and slates. The church was built in the second half of the 12th century, the re-set doorway in the S. aisle and blocked windows in the E. and S. walls of the Chancel being of that date. The chancel-arch was re-built late in the 12th century and the E. wall was altered in the 14th century, when a new window was inserted and buttresses added. Late in the 14th or early in the 15th century the West Tower was built and the nave was then probably lengthened to meet it. The S. arcade and South Aisle were added c. 1500. The building has been considerably restored in modern times, the last restoration being in 1890; the N. wall of the nave has been largely re-built, the S. aisle much restored, the North Porch added and a S. porch removed.
The building is of no great interest architecturally, but the re-set S. doorway of the S. aisle is a good example of its period.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (21½ ft. by 13¾ ft.) is of mid to late 12th-century date, but the E. wall was altered in the 14th century. The E. window is modern except the jambs, splays and rear-arch which are probably of late 14th-century date; on either side of the window are the outer jamb, splay and part of the head of a 12th-century window now blocked and partly cut into by the later window. In the N. wall, at the W. end is a late 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a steep four-centred head with a moulded label. In the S. wall are three windows; the easternmost is of 15th-century date and of badly weathered clunch; it is of three cinque-foiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; the sill and mullions are modern; to the E. of the window is the E. splay of a 12th-century window, now blocked; the second window is of late 14th-century date and has been partly restored; it is of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a steep four-centred head with a moulded label and triangular rear-arch; the westernmost window is a 15th-century 'low-side' and of a single cinque-foiled light; from the E. side of the lintel, which acts as a rear-arch, springs the W. side of the semi-circular rear-arch to a blocked 12th-century light, the head of which, cut out of a single stone, is visible externally; the S. doorway is largely of 12th-century material, re-set further W. in the 13th or 14th century and cutting into the lower part of the blocked 12th-century light; the jambs are square and have shouldered corbels supporting a flat arch of three stones; the rear-arch is semi-circular. The two-centred chancel-arch is of late 12th-century date and of one plain order; the responds are square and have each an attached shaft, on the W. face, stopping under the grooved and hollow-chamfered impost of the respond.
The Nave (48 ft. by 20 ft.) appears to have had the N. wall re-built; in it are three modern windows and a modern archway; in the walling is some re-used masonry (see Miscellanea under Fittings). In the S. wall is an early 16th-century arcade, reconstructed in 1849, of four bays with segmental-pointed arches of two chamfered orders, carried on octagonal piers with moulded capitals and chamfered bases; the second and third piers stand on square plinths which show just above the floor-level; at either end the outer order of the arch is continuous and the inner is carried on a semi-octagonal chamfered corbel terminating in a carved knot.
The South Aisle (7½ ft. wide) was added early in the 16th century and has a difference in the walling at the junction of the E. wall of the aisle and S.E. angle of the nave; it was partly reconstructed in 1849. In the S. wall are three windows, each of two uncusped lights grouped under a semi-circular rear-arch and all modern externally except a few stones in the jambs. The S. doorway (Plate 139) is of mid 12th-century date re-set; the jambs have each an attached shaft with a small scrolled capital and moulded abacus and the head has a round arch of one square order and the tympanum is crudely carved with a figure-subject; in the middle is a formy cross with a large head within a circle and a short stem; on the W. side is a figure, probably the Good Shepherd, with long tunic tied at the waist and holding in the right hand a cross-headed staff and with the left hand on the back of an animal, possibly meant for a lamb; on the E. side of the cross are two animals, the larger one a wolf, with mouth open and apparently attacking the smaller, presumably a lamb, outside the fold.
The West Tower (10½ ft. by 10 ft.) is of late 14th- or early 15th-century date and is of three stages with a chamfered plinth and embattled parapet with grotesque human and beast-gargoyles at the angles. The tower-arch is of clunch and is two-centred and of two moulded orders, the outer continuous and the inner carried on semi-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and mutilated bases. The W. door is modern except the moulded inner order of the two-centred arch; the three-light W. window is all modern externally except the grotesque head-stops, but internally the splays and rear-arch are old; over the head of the window is a rough relieving-arch. In the S. and W. walls of the second stage are small single-light windows. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window originally of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the label of the E. window has been cut away; the window in the S. wall has been converted into two plain lights with a wooden lintel and the walling above re-built; the W. window has been altered, the opening filled with two separate cinque-foiled lights in square heads and the tympanum above the two lights filled in with solid masonry, the label has been cut back.
The North Porch is modern but has a re-set N. doorway of 14th-century date with moulded jambs and two-centred head with a moulded label and mask-stops.
Fittings—Bells: four; 1st by Richard Holdfeld, 1610; 2nd, probably by Newman, 1713, and the 3rd probably by Tobias Norris, 1669. The bell-frame is old and has cages for four bells. Bracket: In chancel—on S. side of E. window, rectangular, with concave under-side, probably 13th-century. Font and Font-cover: plain octagonal bowl, with chamfered upper and lower edges, supported on square central shaft with chamfered angles and three small octagonal shafts on octagonal base, partly modern, 13th-century. Font-cover: of painted oak, with octagonal base rising with concave sides to oval-shaped knob at top, partly early 17th-century, restored in deal. Glass: In chancel, in S.W. window, fragments including portion of head of bearded man in turbaned head-dress; portions of border, a crown and tabernacle-work in yellow and brown stain, pieces of yellow and red, 15th-century; in easternmost and middle window, leaded in modern window, lozenge-shaped quarries of old white glass. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In S. aisle—on S. wall (1) to Robert Throckmorton, 1698–9, slate inscription-panel in clunch-surround with gadrooned cornice and shield-of-arms above and cherub-head and drapery below. In churchyard, (2) to Charles Heading, 1714, head-stone. Floor-slabs: In chancel—(1) to Bevercots Cornwallis, 1693; also on same slab to [Abraham] Burrell , full name and date hidden by modern stalls. In S. aisle—partly covered, (2) to [Susanna] (Throckmorton), wife of the [Rev. George Rutherford] 1710, and Susanna their daughter, 1710. Piscina: In chancel, recess with splayed jambs and segmental-pointed head, projecting bowl with round drain, traces of colour on N. jamb and head, possibly 13th-century. Plate: includes an Elizabethan cup and cover-paten inscribed "1569" but both pieces without date-letter, and an inscribed plate of 1685, given to the parish in 1727. Scratchings: In chancel —in easternmost window in S. wall—initials A.A., I.H., I.N., probably early 18th-century; on W. jamb, a few illegible names in 'black-letter' script and two well-drawn horses; on S.W. window, I A X 1707, etc. On tower-arch—on N. respond, I.A. 1711, I.A. 1708, T.S. 1708 and others. On S. respond W.E. 1709, Dn. Roberti Drive in 'black-letter' script, etc. On S.W. buttress of tower, I.M. 1710, W.H. 1710, T.S. 1713, etc. Miscellanea: re-built in lower part of N. wall of nave, pieces of 12th-century masonry including two pieces of arch-mould enriched with billet-ornament, pieces of shafted jamb-stones and several drum-stones from small column.
Condition—Good, but small cracks at S.W. angle of W. tower.
b(2). Paxton Hall, house 230 yards N.W. of the church was re-built c. 1738 but probably incorporates parts of an earlier house, including some walling on the N. side and probably part of a chimney-stack. Inside the building is some re-used Elizabethian panelling.
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.
b(3). Cottage, and post-office, 120 yards N.W. of the church.
b(4). Church Farm, house 60 yards N. of the church, is of two storeys with attics; it was built in the first half of the 17th century and has a later 17th-century addition on the W. side. Inside the building, the western room has a moulded ceiling-beam.
b(5). Cottage, two tenements, 40 yards E. of (4), was built late in the 17th or early in the 18th century.
b(6). Cottage, two tenements, E. of (5), is of the same character and date as (5).
b(7). Cottage, on the W. side of the road, 75 yards W. of the church.
a(8). Meagre Farm, house nearly 2 m. W.N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics.