An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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73. SIBSON-CUM-STIBBINGTON (A.a.)
(O.S. 6 in. I S.E.)
Sibson-cum-Stibbington is a parish on the S. side of the River Nene in the N.W. corner of the county 6½ m. W. of Peterborough. The principal monuments are the Church, Stibbington Hall, The Haycock and Wansford Bridge.
(1). Artis marks buildings on the right bank of the Nene (a) opposite Yarwell; (b) between the high roads to Oundle and Huntingdon, just within the angle of their junction. He is also said to have marked an iron furnace here. The ordnance maps mark a number of potteries and iron-works which do not appear in Artis's maps; (c) at the cross-roads near the present school-house, buildings and potters' kilns were found before 1828, and others again in 1844. A cemetery in this neighbourhood is described by Stukeley. (d) At Sibson, near Wansford railway station, houses and potteries were found in the "twenties" about here by Artis. In building the railway-line, in the spring of 1844, three mutilated statues and a hand belonging to a fourth, all of Barnack stone, were found. Artis digging at this spot immediately afterwards opened the remains of pottery-kilns, whilst building-debris, potsherds, etc., were also observed by Hartshorne, who assumed that a building once stood here. The statues represented Hercules, the torso of Apollo, and a life-size figure of Minerva. All three statues were much damaged, the Hercules not surviving frost; they were taken to Woburn Abbey, the Minerva being thought worthy of a place in the sculpture-gallery. In May, 1846, two pottery-kilns were excavated by Artis in a field called "Woodgate Wat," apparently immediately north of the station and on each side of the main road, and either then or earlier he found a curious leaden indented urn. Lastly in Mr. Bodger's collection, in Peterborough Museum, are two urns which were found full of burnt bones about 1891. (E. T. Artis, The Durobrivae of Antoninus, 1828; Stukeley's Letters III., Arch XXXII., Proc. Soc. Antiq, 1st Ser. I; A. H. Smith, Catal. of Sculp. Woburn Abbey).
(2). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist stands in the village. The walls are of rubble with dressings of Barnack stone; the roofs are covered with stone slates. The Nave and chancel-arch belong to an early to mid 12th-century church to which a N. aisle was added c. 1180. In the middle of the 13th century the Chancel was re-built, widened towards the S. and no doubt lengthened; later in the same century the S. arcade and aisle were re-built. In 1848–49 the church was completely restored, the North and South Aisles being re-built, a W. tower removed and the Vestry, Organ Chamber, South Porch and timber bell-cote added.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (32¼ ft. by 14¾ ft.) has in the E. wall two 13th-century lancet-windows with moulded labels and mask-stops; above them is a quatre-foiled window, of the same date, with a moulded label. In the N. wall is a modern arch, to the organ-chamber and a modern doorway to the vestry, with a segmental arch of two chamfered orders, re-set; further E. is part of the external E. jamb and head of a destroyed doorway. In the S. wall are three windows the two easternmost of c. 1330 and each of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded label and mask-stops; the westernmost window is similar to the other two but the tracery is of rather earlier character; below it is a blocked "low-side" window with a square head; E. of this window is a 13th-century doorway with chamfered jambs, two-centred arch and moulded imposts. There is a moulded internal string-course carried round the E. end of the chancel at the sill-level. The early to mid 12th-century chancel-arch is round and of two orders both square and the inner having a broad roll on the soffit; the responds have each a half-round shaft to the inner order, with partly buried bases, scalloped capitals and grooved and chamfered abaci continued along the wall-face and partly restored.
The Nave (35¼ ft. by 17 ft.) has a N. arcade of c. 1180 and of two bays with round arches of two plain orders and a chamfered label on the S. side; the round column has a moulded base and scalloped cruciform capital with a moulded abacus; the responds have attached half-columns. The 13th-century S. arcade, of three bays partly restored, has two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the octagonal columns have moulded capitals and bases; the responds have attached half-columns. In the W. wall is a partly restored 12th-century doorway (Plate 126) with jambs and head of three orders, the inner plain and shouldered at the head to support a modern lintel and an old tympanum, enriched with plain tegulated ornament; the other orders of the arch are round and roll-moulded and outside them is a broad band of billet-ornament and a label; the jambs have each two free shafts with cushion-capitals and modern bases; above the doorway is a modern window.
Fittings—Brass: In chancel—on S. wall, to John Hanger, S.T.P., 1638, rector of the parish, inscription only. Chest: In vestry—of hutch-type and of plain boards, with three hasps and staples, probably 16th-century. Communion Table: of oak, with turned legs and plain rails, mid to late 17th-century. Font: (Plate 8) octagonal bowl, each face with rough round arch resting on small shafts at the angles with moulded capitals and bases, plain round stem with eight subsidiary shafts with moulded bases and capitals, chamfered plinth, late 12th- or early 13th-century, bowl repaired. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In chancel—against S. wall, (1) stone effigy of priest in mass-vestments, hands resting on breast, head and feet missing and otherwise defaced, 14th- or 15th-century; (2) In churchyard—to Thomas True and Lennard True, 1667–8, table-tomb, with chamfered slab and plinth; (3) to John ..... head-stone, carved with leaves, skull at top, probably early 18th-century. Floor-slab: In chancel—to Giles Aleyn, S.T.P., 1678, rector of the parish, black marble slab, with shield-of-arms. Plate: includes late 16th-century cup of gobletform with very deep bowl and moulded stem, engraved band round top with vase, foliage, beasts and birds; large salver with shield-of-arms probably of 1671, given by Giles Aleyn; stand-paten of 1667 or 1674 and large flagon probably of 1659. Miscellanea: In chancel—fragments of heads of crosses of round form with carved or incised crosses of various forms, 12th- and 13th-century, also fragments with conventional foliage in relief, date uncertain.
(3). Stibbington Hall (Plate 128), house and gateway, stands 70 yards N.W. of the church. The House is of two storeys: the walls are of Ketton stone and the roofs are covered with Collyweston slates. A small wing at the N. end of the house appears to be of slightly earlier date than the main block which is dated 1625 and was originally a complete, but small, E-shaped building with the wings projecting towards the S.W. A wide passage at the back of the main block, forming, on the first floor, a small 'long gallery,' was added probably later in the 17th or early in the 18th century and further extensions have been made on the N.E. in modern times. The S.W. front is a good example of the architecture of the period and is almost entirely unaltered.
Elevations—The S.W. front has gabled wings projecting at either end and a central projecting porch of two storeys surmounted by a curvilinear gable with finials above the kneelers and at the apex. The entrance-archway has a semi-circular head with a moulded architrave, rectangular key-block with 'jewel' ornament, moulded imposts, sunk spandrels and stop-chamfered responds; the voussoirs have masons' marks; it is flanked by Doric pilasters, standing on pedestals and surmounted by an entablature the cornice of which is continued across the whole front as a string-course at the level of the first floor; on the right hand pilaster is a square incised sundial; the upper floor has a superimposed order with Ionic pilasters with pedestals and entablature and between the pilasters is a three-light window with moulded jambs, head, transom and mullions; below the window is a sunk rectangular panel, inscribed with lead letters "DEO TRIN-UNI SIT GLORIA 1625." In the gable is a raised shield carved with the arms of Peter Edwards of Alleston and Joan (Knight) of Piddington, his wife; set in lead, below the shield, are the initials "I.E." and "I.H." presumably those of John Edwards (son of the above) and his wife. A chamfered plinth is continued round the whole front from the side walls of the porch. The inner entrance-doorway has a flat four-centred arch within a square head; the arch mouldings are continued half-way down the jambs and terminate with moulded stops. In the main wall flanking the porch on either side on the ground-floor is a window of four lights similar to the window above the entrance-archway but with a moulded label and there is a similar window in the wall above, the head of which is carried up above the level of the eaves in a stone gabled dormer; it has finials above the kneelers and at the apex and within the pediment is a small oval light with a moulded architrave. Each of the end wings has on the S.W. face a projecting bay-window of four transomed and mullioned lights on the front and one on each of the returns; each bay is carried up into the gable and is finished with a moulded parapet; in the pediment above is a small oval light; the gables have shaped finials above the kneelers and at the apex. On the inner face of each of the side wings on each floor are traces of small original windows now blocked. Behind the ridge of the main block are two chimney-stacks each of twin rectangular shafts with a common head and a moulded cornice. The S.E. elevation has towards the S.W. end a projecting chimney-stack with twin-shafts at the top similar to those of the main block; S.W. of the chimney-stack on the lower floor is one original two-light window. The N.W. elevation has a small piece of old walling at the S.W. end, with an old two-light window in the upper part. In the return wall on the main front, near the junction with the northernmost wing of the main building of 1625, are traces of a blocked doorway. The whole of the buildings at the back of the house are modern.
Interior—The Hall (22 ft. by 16 ft.) has an original stone fireplace with moulded jambs, flat two-centred head and moulded cornice. In the N.W. and S.W. walls are original stone doorways painted and similar to the entrance-doorway. In the N.E. wall is a similar doorway. One room in the S.E. wing has an original fireplace similar to that in the hall. The staircase-hall appears to have been re-built but contains the original oak staircase (Plate 164) from the ground to the first floor; it has a close moulded string, moulded handrail, turned balusters and square newels with moulded finials; the newel on the middle landing is widened in the solid below the finial to receive the handrails of both the upper and lower flights.
The forecourt in front of the house has a low S.W. boundary-wall in the middle of which is a small entrance-gateway (Plate 116) of Ketton stone. It has an arched opening with semi-circular head similar to the archway to the entrance-porch, above which is a moulded cornice surmounted by an open shaped gable enclosing a pierced stone circle with flanking finials and a finial at the apex. Flanking the gateway are buttresses and there are also buttresses on either side of the opening at the back.
(4). The Haycock, house (Plate 129), on E. side of the Great North road immediately S. of Wansford Bridge, is of two storeys with attics and cellars. The walls are of local stone and the roofs are covered with Collyweston slates. It is said to have been built as a posting-house and a loose stone dated 1632, found on the site, indicates the probable date of erection. It remained as an inn until late in the last century when it was converted into a private residence.
The main block of the original building fronts the road and is of H-shaped plan with N. and S. cross-wings; lower ranges project eastwards from the cross-wings partly enclosing a courtyard at the back. The E. range and the E. end of the N. range to the courtyard were added later in the 17th century. The front to the main building appears to have been remodelled at the same time. In the 18th century an addition was made on the E. side of the central block of the main building with an open gallery to the upper floor but this was subsequently filled in; 18th-century extensions include the kitchen in the S.W. corner and other additions to the main building on the W. side of the courtyard. The building was generally repaired when it was converted into a private house, the windows to the main block were remodelled to receive sashes and other alterations were made to the interior. The central porch to the main front is a 19th-century addition and covers the remains of a former archway.
Elevations—The W. front is symmetrical and of squared rubble with plinths and dressed stone quoins. The projecting wings are gabled and have flat copings with moulded edges and consolebrackets as kneelers. At the level of the first floor is a moulded string-course which rises to a higher level over the head of the former central archway and also against the wings; at the base of the gables is a second moulded string which is carried along the return walls of the wings and along the central block below a coved eaves-cornice. In the wall behind the porch are the ashlar-dressings of the former central-archway and above it is a square-headed window, probably of late 17th- or early 18th-century date, with a moulded architrave and rustications and surmounted by an entablature and pediment. The remaining windows have plain square-headed openings and the windows in both the gables, now blocked, have moulded labels. In the roof of the main block are five segmental-headed dormer-windows and one at each end of the return roof of the wings, all probably of late 17th-century date. To the N. of the window above the entrance-porch are two moulded brackets or corbels, probably for the former sign-board of the inn. Two chimney-stacks on the main block are of old design but re-built. The N. front of the main block has a moulded string at the level of the first floor of slightly different section to that to the main front. It has ranges of windows on both the ground and first floors and four dormers in the roof, all similar to those on the main front. The S. front of the main block is similar to the N. elevation. The E. front towards the courtyard is of 18th-century or modern date except the exposed portions of the gabled ends of the cross-wings of the main block. On the original main wall and the return walls of the S. wing are remains of the plinth and the moulded string at the first-floor level but these are now inside the building; on the first floor the inner walls of the wings retain original early 17th-century windows with moulded mullions, labels, etc., one label is also left in place in the ground-floor return of the S. wing.
The N. range flanking the courtyard is probably of early 17th-century date and has on the N. front two original windows, one on each floor, both now blocked. The front towards the courtyard retains portions of a moulded string-course at the first-floor level; in the western half are two original doorways with segmental heads and further E. are two others, partly old but probably a little later in date; at the W. end one old window on the ground-floor has been altered to a doorway. The E. half of the wing has been widened to the N. in modern times.
The S. range has on the S. front, on the ground-floor, two original windows, one of three lights and the other of two, each with moulded jambs and mullions and square heads with moulded strings as labels; on the first floor is an original three-light window, now blocked. The front to the courtyard is partly covered by the later kitchen, the E. wall of which butts on to an original doorway; the E. jamb and architrave are exposed and above is a moulded string and pediment, the former being continued eastwards over an altered two-light window. The upper floor has two early 17th-century windows, both altered. The E. range of the courtyard has in the W. front two doorways with flat four-centred heads.
Interior—Inside the house few old features remain. In the attic over the middle of the main block is an original stone fireplace with a flat four-centred head and in the back of each of the cross-wings to the main building is an original oak staircase. Both staircases are painted and may possibly have been re-set; they have heavy turned balusters but the original handrails have been encased in later deal and later deal mouldings have been fixed on the strings; the newels to the N. stairs have later deal cappings above which are oak ball-heads; the newels to the S. stair have shaped terminals. In the cellars are remains of several former external windows now blocked and below the N. wing of the main house is an original fireplace with a four-centred head.
In the garden S. of the house is a small stone with a coped head inscribed on the face "T 1632"; it was dug up in the grounds.
(5). Wansford Bridge (Plate 125), carrying the Great North road across the River Nene between the parishes of Wansford, Northants, and Sibson-cum-Stibbington is of twelve arches and is built of a light-yellow ashlar masonry. The seven northernmost arches are in Northamptonshire and a stone in the parapet inscribed "PM 1577" marks the date of this erection. The three next arches were re-built in 1672–4, the arches which they replace having been carried away by floods; these three arches, with the one adjoining on the S., span the main stream. This last arch was built in 1795 and carries a wider roadway than the rest; the small arch adjoining is perhaps of the same date or later.
The ten northernmost arches have a coped parapet with a string-course below. On the W. side the piers of each of these arches have V-shaped cutwaters but on the E. side only the piers to the arches which were re-built in 1674 have cutwaters. The earlier arches are semi-circular and of two plain square orders, to which a modern inner order has been added in the three S. bays. The northernmost bay has the crown of the arch almost buried below the soil of the flats and of the second arch only the crown is visible; the next five arches are of narrower span than the three re-built in the 17th century. These latter arches are semi-circular and of one plain order only. On the parapet of the northernmost of the three eastern cutwaters is the inscription "PM 1577" and on the outer face are the following inscriptions; on the Northamptonshire side "HVC NORTH P REPARAT SVTV COMITAT 1674" and on the Huntingdonshire side "P HVNT HVC REPARAT SVTV COMITAT 1672"; there are also many masons' marks. On the cutwater on the W. side of the same pier is the boundary-stone between the two counties. The parapets are old excepting some modern repairs at the N. end on the W. side while some of the arches over the shallow water and the plinths of some of the piers have been restored in modern times.
The following monuments unless otherwise described are of two storeys and are built of local stone and roofed with stone slates.
Condition—Good or fairly good.
(6). The Rectory, (Plate 130) S. of the churchyard, is of two storeys with attics. The house was built probably in the second half of the 16th century on a long rectangular plan and has a lower extension which has since been again extended to the E.; the staircase-hall was added on the N. in the 17th century. The S. front has a modern bay-window but the remaining windows are original and mostly of three lights with moulded stone jambs, heads and mullions with square moulded labels; the entrance-doorway has a moulded stone architrave. In the W. wall is a late 17th-century window with wood mullions. The N. front has similar windows to those on the S. and the staircase-hall is built very closely between two of them and partly covers their labels; in the W. end of the wall is a blocked window and blocked doorway; in the former has been re-set, upside down, the head of a square-headed 15th-century window of three trefoiled ogee lights with pierced spandrels. The staircase-hall has two-light windows in the W. wall resembling those of the main building; the upper one is blocked. Inside the building the Dining Room has a stone fireplace probably of late 17th-century date with eared architrave and moulded cornice; the adjoining room has a somewhat similar fireplace of different detail. The staircase is of the first half of the 17th century and has a moulded handrail, turned balusters and square newels with ball-tops.
(7). Stibbington Manor, or Stibbington Lodge Farm, house (Plate 130) 150 yards W. of the church. It was built c. 1625 but has modern additions. The W. front has, to each floor, ranges of two, three, four and six-light, square-headed windows with moulded jambs, heads, mullions and labels. There are two original chimney-stacks with detached shafts, moulded neckings and a common moulded cornice at the top. Inside the building, in a wing at the back, is an original staircase with turned balusters, moulded handrail and square newels surmounted by tall shaped finials.
(8). Farmhouse (Plate 130), now tenements, 1,200 yards S.S.E. of the church. The eastern arm is of c. 1600 and was possibly part of an L-shaped building with the wings extending towards the E. and N. The N. wing has been re-built, if it is not entirely modern, and at the W. end and on the N. side are modern extensions. The S. wall of the old block has on the ground-floor two original windows each of three lights with moulded jambs, heads, mullions and labels; further W. is a similar window, fitted with a modern frame. There are other original windows in the upper storey and in the N. wall. The E. end is gabled and has in the upper part of the wall a number of courses of projecting rough stones. The central chimney of the E. wing is original and of two square stone shafts under a common head with a moulded necking and cornice. The chimney-stack at the N. end of the N.W. wing is of similar design and appears to have been re-set.
(9). Sibson Manor House (Plate 130), about ¾ miles S.S.E. of Stibbington Church, is a small rectangular building of c. 1630 with a modern wing at the back. The S.W., or front elevation, has an original doorway with chamfered jambs and lintel and four windows each of three lights; the second from the N.W. is original but the others are probably restorations in the original openings. The upper storey has a range of five partly restored three-light windows with moulded jambs, heads, mullions and labels. The central chimney-stack has four square detached shafts under a common head with a moulded string, necking and cornice. The N.E. or back elevation also has some original windows and the chimney-stack behind the S.E. room appears also to be old. Inside the building one room on the first floor has an original stone fireplace with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head.
Built into the walls of a modern summer-house in the garden to the S.W. of the house are some fragments of 15th-century stonework. These are thought to have belonged to the former Sibson church which is supposed to have stood opposite the house on the other side of the North Road. They include a window-head with a four-centred arch in a square outer order; an X-shaped stone; a man's head corbel; part of a door-jamb of two square orders; fragments of cusped tracery or window-heads and probably part of a piscina-basin.
(10). Cottage, now four tenements, stands on the W. side of the road 200 yards S. of the bridge. It is of one storey with attics and was built probably early in the 17th century on a L-shaped plan with the wings projecting towards the N. and W.; later additions have been made at the back. The central chimney-stack and that on the N. end appear to be original and are each of a single square shaft with a moulded capping. In the S. wall is an original window, now blocked, of two lights with moulded jambs, head and mullion. The W. end of the W. wing has an old chimney-stack.
(11). Stocks, on the S.W. side of the road, opposite (9), are badly dilapidated and there is nothing to show their age. The two beams have holes for four legs.
(12). Mound, on the 50 ft. contour-line, 600 yards W.N.W. of the church, was roughly circular but is now almost formless.