An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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80. STILTON (B.b.).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)IX N.E., (b) IX N.W.)
Stilton is a small parish and village on the Great North Road, 6 m. S.S.W. of Peterborough. The Church and the Bell Inn are the principal monuments.
b(1). Parish Church of St. Mary stands at the W. end of the village. The walls are of cornbrash-rubble and re-used Barnack and Ketton ashlar with dressings of Barnack and Ketton stone; the roofs are covered with slates and lead. The Nave arcades are of mid 13th-century date, the northern being the earlier of the two, but the church was largely reconstructed in the 15th century when the Chancel and the North and South Aisles, except a portion of the W. wall of the N. aisle, were re-built; the West Tower was added or re-built and the nave-arcades were partly re-built, about the same period. The South Porch was added c. 1500 and the North Vestry is probably of the same date. The church has a considerable amount of modern repairs, a large part of the chancel and N. vestry and the S. aisle having been re-built during the restorations of 1887–88 and 1908.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (27½ ft. by 13¼ ft.) has a modern E. wall and window. In the N. wall is a modern arch. In the S. wall, which has been externally refaced, are two modern windows. The chancel-arch is probably of the 15th century but has been much restored, it is two-centred and of two-chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner dying on to the square faces of the responds.
The North Vestry (14½ ft. by 11 ft.) has in the E. wall a late 15th-century window of three cinque-foiled lights in a square head with a moulded label.
The Nave (43½ ft. by 14½ ft.) has a mid 13th-century N. arcade of three bays but the third bay was probably re-built in the 15th century; the two eastern arches are semi-circular and of two orders with a semi-circular E. respond and circular pier with moulded capitals and bases; the second pier is octagonal with a moulded capital and base and the W. respond is semi-octagonal with a plain 15th-century capital, and a chamfered base; at the E. end of the wall is the rood-loft doorway with a segmental-pointed arch of three chamfered orders. The 13th-century S. arcade is of three bays of which the third was re-built in the 15th century; the first two bays have round arches of two chamfered orders, and the third bay has a very irregularly-built two-centred arch of two chamfered orders; the piers are round and the responds semi-circular and all have moulded capitals and bases but the base to the second pier is modern and the capital has been badly re-set. The clearstorey has three modern trefoiled windows on the S. side.
The North Aisle (6¼ ft. wide) has high up in the E. wall the rebated S. jamb of a blocked doorway, connected with the former rood-loft. In the N. wall are three 15th-century windows each of two cinque-foiled lights with a pierced spandrel in a four-centred head with a moulded label; the 15th-century N. doorway has chamfered jambs and a four-centred head with a moulded label. The W. wall has the upper part recessed on the inside; the external string-course at the level of the window-sills, is of two dates, the southern portion being perhaps of the 13th and the northern portion, which is carried round the N. wall, of the 15th century.
The South Aisle (6¼ ft. wide) has a three-light E. window of 15th-century origin but almost entirely of modern stone. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern similar to that just described and the western a partly restored late 14th-century window, with modern tracery; the restored late 15th-century S. doorway has moulded jambs and four-centred head. On the parapet is a defaced gargoyle.
The West Tower (10½ ft. by 8¼ ft.) is of late 15th-century date and externally is of four stages with an embattled parapet. The two-centred tower-arch is of one continuous chamfered order, on the soffit of which are two chamfered ribs carried on semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The W. door has moulded jambs and a four-centred head with a moulded label and the window above is of two cinque-foiled lights with a pierced spandrel in a four-centred head with a moulded label. The ringing-chamber has in the W. wall a window of two ogee trefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two cinque-foiled lights with a pierced spandrel in a four-centred head with a moulded label.
The South Porch is of c. 1500 but has been largely refaced. The outer archway is of stilted four-centred form and of two moulded orders with a moulded label; the jambs are mostly modern but have attached shafts carrying the inner order of the arch, parts of the bases of which are original.
Fittings—Bells: two; 1st by Thomas Norris, 1639; 2nd with four crosses formy and a Virgin and Child on waist, probably late 14th-century. Bracket: In S. porch—on E. wall, moulded semi-octagonal with small carved flowers below, 15th-century. Brasses: In nave—in floor at E. end, (1) of Richard Curthoyse, 1573–4, and Anne his wife, 1606, with figures of man in civil costume with furred mantle and woman wearing high-crowned hat, etc., inscription-plate recording three sons, John, Thomas, and William, and three daughters, Anne, Isabell and Joane; indent of a scroll above; (2) adjoining (1), of Thomas, 1590, and John, 1618, "sonnes of the above said Richard and Anne" with figures of two men, one wearing long fur-lined mantle, the other a doublet and short cloak. Chest: In vestry—of oak, with panelled front, sides and lid, moulded styles, rails carved with conventional floral enrichment; two iron hinges with hasps, mid 17th-century. Coffin-lids: In S. aisle—(1) portion only (Plate 142), with cross with double axe-shaped arms with bevelled edges, probably late 12th-century. In churchyard— against S. aisle (2) tapering slab with coped top and remains of carved cross on stepped base, early 14th-century; (3) similar to (2) but with bevelled edges, top missing, early 14th-century. Font: of Ketton and Barnack stone, octagonal bowl with chamfered edges and underside, plain octagonal shaft and octagonal base brought out to square with plain broach-stops at angles; at back, small rectangular buttress with chamfered capping at level of under side of bowl, 15th-century. Monuments: In churchyard, S. of chancel, (1) to William Randol, 1613, stone table-tomb; against S. aisle, (2) to Alice (?) Fox, 1681, coped slab; (3) now used as coping to churchyard-wall, probably portion of old coffin-lid with date 1666. Piscina: In S. aisle—re-set in S. wall, recess with chamfered jambs and two-centred head, round drain, 15th-century; Recesses: In N. aisle—in E. wall, with chamfered jambs and four-centred head, 15th-century. In N. vestry—in W. wall, similar to above, 15th-century. In S. aisle—in S. wall, semi-circular, with modern head and half a circular bowl with drain, set in it, probably for stoup. Sundial or cross-shaft: In S.W. corner of churchyard, of Barnack stone, with octagonal shaft rising from a square with plain spurs at angles and moulded octagonal base, probably 17th-century, head missing. Miscellanea: Masons' marks, on N. arcade and on windows in N. wall of N. aisle.
Condition—The S.W. corner of the W. tower has sunk so far as to endanger the structure and there are bad cracks in the walls of the vestry, N. aisle and W. tower.
b(2). Bell Inn, inn and three tenements, on E. side of the Great North Road, 350 yards E. of the church is of two storeys with attics and cellars. The walls are of coursed cornbrash-rubble with Ketton-stone dressings; the roofs are covered with stone slates and on the back at the N. end with modern tiles. It was built in 1642, probably on a half H-shaped plan with the wings projecting towards the E., and a central carriage-way in the middle of the front block, but the N. projecting-wing has now gone. About 1700 the gable at the N. end of the front was partly re-built in brick and during the 18th century extensive alterations were made to the interior of the building by the introduction of further partitions, staircases, etc., and to the exterior by replacing many of the former casements by sash-windows. Subsequently the remaining part of the original inn N. of the central archway was converted into three tenements and added to on the N., and E. In modern times the S. wing has had the lower portion largely re-built and extended, and an upper storey added, and further sash-windows have been inserted in place of the older casements on both fronts.
The W. Elevation (Plate 138) has a projecting plinth, a moulded string-course at the first-floor level to the central block and also a moulded eaves-cornice; there is a gable at each end with moulded stone copings; at the N. end is a two-storeyed bay-window roofed with stone slates. The central lights are modern and the side lights are blocked but have moulded jambs and heads and a continuous moulded string above the lower and a moulded cornice to the upper lights; in the gable to the attic-floor is a blocked three-light window with moulded stone jambs, head, mullions and label; the S. end of the front has been re-built but incorporates old material and has re-set in the gable a stone slab inscribed with the date 1642. The arch to the carriage-way is segmental and moulded and has a moulded label which is continued down vertically and stops upon the moulded imposts; in the spandrels on each side is an ornamental shield; N. of the archway the main block has two bay-windows each of two storeys round which the moulded string-course and cornice are carried and over which the main roof is hipped; there is a similar bay to the S. of the archway but three storeys in height and gabled; the original middle window in each bay on both ground and first floors has been replaced by later sashes but the side lights are original and with one exception blocked; they have moulded stone jambs and heads; the middle window to the southernmost bay on the top floor is original and of four square-headed lights. Projecting from the front and now supported by a post is a sign with elaborate early 18th-century scrolled ironwork. The two main chimney-stacks to the central block are original and are each of six detached square shafts on a common base with chamfered capping and a common moulded cornice and necking. The S. Elevation is concealed by adjoining buildings and the N. Elevation is largely hidden by later additions. The E. elevation is also largely covered by later additions; at the first-floor level is a moulded string which is carried over the segmental arch to the carriage-way as a label, and there is another moulded string below the eaves; in the roof are two original gabled dormers each of stone with a moulded coping and having a window of three square-headed lights with moulded jambs, heads, mullions and label; there is a blocked original window to the ground-floor and immediately above the lower string-course another of two lights with a moulded label.
Inside the building, beams in the ceilings of the ground and first-floor rooms are all cased with the exception of a few which are stop-chamfered. One of the rooms on the first floor has an original stone fireplace, all hidden except for a portion of its moulded head; in the attics are two original stone fireplaces, one with moulded jambs and four-centred head with sunk spandrels and a moulded shelf above, and the other of similar character but chamfered instead of moulded. There is a 17th-century staircase, square on plan and built round a central octagonal newel and a staircase of 18th-century date with moulded faces to the risers.
b(3). House, now shop and two tenements, 240 yards E. of the church is of two storeys; timber-framed and plastered on a stone plinth, the roofs are covered with pan-tiles. It was built late in the 17th century on a rectangular plan with a small projection on the N. but has since been added to at the back and much altered. The roof to the main block has a two-light dormer-window in front; the central chimney-stack has been re-built with old brick. Inside the building some of the rooms have chamfered ceiling-beams and exposed joists.
b(4). House, at N.E. corner of High Street and Church Street, 350 yards E.N.E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. The walls are of cornbrash-rubble with ashlar dressings; the roofs are covered with slates. It was built c. 1700 but refronted in the 18th century and internally altered; at the back are modern additions. The chimney-stacks to the gables of the end walls are rectangular with moulded cappings and bases.
a(5). Cottage, 60 yards E. of (4) is of one storey with attics; the walls are partly of brick and partly timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are covered with thatch. It was built late in the 17th century and is of the central-chimney type. Inside the building are some chamfered ceiling-beams and exposed timber-framing.
a(6). House at corner of junction of High Street and Fen Drove, is of three storeys and a basement. The walls are of brick with plastered dressings and the roofs are covered with slates. It was built c. 1700 on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N. and E. Modern bay-windows have been added and there are modern additions at the N. end and in the angle between the two wings. The elevations have plastered dressings and are divided horizontally by flat plastered bands; the parapets have moulded stone copings. Inside the building is some bolection-moulded panelling and the W. staircase has turned balusters, moulded string and treads and carved conventional foliage at the end of each step.