An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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95. WISTOW (D.c.).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)XIV N.E., (b)XIV S.E.)
Wistow is a parish and village 3 m. S.S.W. of Ramsey. The church, bridge and Limetree Farm are the principal monuments.
a(1). 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 slates and lead. The S. wall of the Chancel and possibly also the South Aisle are of early 14th-century date, but most of the rest of the church, including the Nave, North Aisle and the chancel-arch, was re-built late in the 15th or early in the 16th century, when the nave was probably widened towards the N. The West Tower was added probably in the second half of the 16th century. The South Porch is modern, but the church generally has been but little restored.
The church is a good example of late Gothic work, and the details of the clearstorey are interesting. Among the fittings the screens and glass are noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The details not otherwise described are of late 15th- or early 16th-century date. The Chancel (26 ft. by 15 ft.) has a plain parapet with gargoyles at the E. angles. The E. window is of four cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label and beast and human stops; the jambs and splays are casement-moulded. In the N. wall is a window of three cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label, beast-stops and casement-moulded jambs. In the S. wall are two windows, the eastern similar to the window in the N. wall; the western is of early 14th-century date and of two trefoiled ogee lights in a square head with a moulded label and mask-stops; the jambs and mullion are moulded and the window is continued down below a transom as a 'low-side.' Between the windows is a 14th-century doorway with moulded jambs and segmental-pointed head. The chancel-arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the moulded responds have each an attached shaft with moulded capital carved with paterae and a defaced moulded base.
The Nave (32¾ ft. by 16¾ ft.) has N. and S. arcades (Plate 61) each of two bays with two-centred arches of two moulded orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting on attached shafts with capitals similar to the chancel-arch and moulded bases; the moulded labels have grotesque beast-stops; the inner face of the piers has a small shaft carried up to the roof. The clearstorey has on each side two pairs of windows, each window of two cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head; the moulded splays have attached shafts from which springs a trefoiled and sub-cusped rear-arch, with foliated points to the main cusps. At the base of the clearstorey is a moulded string-course, and it is finished externally with a moulded parapet and grotesque gargoyles. In the E. wall of the nave, N. of the chancel-arch, is the doorway to the rood-loft; it has chamfered jambs and four-centred head; the staircase-turret is carried up above the roof and finished with a pyramidal top of octagonal form; the E. gable has an old gablecross.
The North Aisle (11½ ft. wide) has an embattled parapet with the merlons removed; it has three large gargoyles of monsters, one of which is winged. The E. window is of three cinque-foiled lights with casement-moulded jambs and vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label. Across the S.E. angle of the aisle is the doorway to the rood-loft staircase; it has moulded jambs and a four-centred head. In the N. wall is a window uniform with that in the E. wall and partly restored; the N. doorway is of the 14th century, re-set; it has chamfered jambs and two-centred arch with a moulded label and mask-stops. In the W. wall is a window uniform with the E. window and with restored mullions.
The South Aisle (8¾ ft. wide) has a moulded parapet with two grotesque gargoyles, that at the S.W. angle having the bodies of a bird and a lion with a single head. The E. window is of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with casement-moulded splays and a moulded label with grotesque beast-stops. In the S. wall is a window uniform with that in the E. wall; the early 14th-century S. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch of two chamfered orders with a chamfered label, mostly modern; the doorway is flanked externally by semi-octagonal projections with pyramidal tops, that on the E., partly restored. In the W. wall is a window similar to the others in the aisle, but of two lights only.
The West Tower (10½ ft. square) is of mid to late 16th-century date and of three stages with a moulded plinth and embattled parapet. The tower-arch is two-centred and of two continuous orders, the outer hollow-chamfered and the inner chamfered; the responds have each an attached shaft with a crudely moulded capital not supporting any part of the arch. The W. window is of three three-centred lights in a square head with a moulded label; the W. doorway has moulded jambs and three-centred arch in a square head with a moulded label and all set in a projection from the main wall-face. The second stage has in the N., S. and W. walls a pointed loop. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two four-centred lights in a square head with a moulded label.
The Roof of the nave is of tie-beam type with short king-posts, the tie-beams and purlins are moulded; the main ties have wall-posts with curved braces and standing figures of an angel or woman and a king on the N. and a woman or angel, holding a cup, and a bishop or abbot on the S.; at the ends of the intermediate ties are carved figures in copes, those on the N. holding a shield and a book respectively, and those on the S. with crossed hands and in an attitude of prayer; the stone corbels are carved with angels, except the western pair, which have grotesque heads. The N. aisle has a pent-roof with moulded purlins, chamfered principals and two moulded wall-posts with solid braces having traceried panelling in the spandrels; on the face of the posts are figures, probably of two apostles, each holding a book; the bracket below the eastern post bears the date 1845 and that below the western the date 1668, the date of repairs to the roof. The S. aisle has a roof generally uniform with that of the N. aisle, but with no dates and with only one figure remaining, holding a book. The ground-stage of the tower has an old roof with a square bell-way.
Fittings—Brackets: In N. aisle—on E. wall, two moulded stone corbels, one tapering and one square at the ends, late 15th-century. Chest: In tower—of oak, dug-out, with large iron hinges and three locks, mediæval. Coffin-lid: In churchyard—S. of chancel, upper part only with foliated cross, 14th-century. Doors: In N. doorway— of feathered battens on framing, strap-hinges with foliated ends, lozenge-shaped scutcheon with ornamental piercings and drop-handle, 14th-century. In S. doorway—of battens (Plate 161) with strap-hinges and enriched with two foliated iron sprays, ornamental lozenge-shaped scutcheon, 14th-century. Font: octagonal tapering bowl supported on central stem with two round and two octagonal subsidiary shafts with moulded capitals and bases, 13th-century. Glass: In S. aisle—in W. window (Plate 157), removed from E. window of chancel and restored in 1872, two figure-subjects (Plate 156) (a) the Annunication with figure of the Virgin kneeling at desk, dove descending above, lily-pot in front, scroll with the words "ancilla dni."; (b) the Resurrection with figures of sleeping soldiers in plate-armour and camails and angel; both subjects set in elaborate tabernacle-work with four figures of angels in niches at base, in tracery, four smaller figures of angels, foliated designs, etc., early 15th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs: Monuments: In S. aisle—over S. doorway, (1) to Uriah Harris, 1686–7, Barbara his wife, 1695, and others of the same family, veined marble wall-monument flanked by Corinthian columns supporting entablature with hour-glasses, vase and cherub-heads. In churchyard—S. of chancel, (2) to M.B., 1683 [Martin Brett, 1683–4] brick tomb with coped slab, head and foot-stones; (3) to R.B., 1683 [Robert Brett, jun., 1683–4] brick tomb similar to (2); (4) to R.B., 1688 [Robert Brett, sen.], foot-stone; (5) to . . . . . Brett, head-stone, probably from (4); (6) to Elizabeth, wife of John Lack, 1687, and to John Lack, 1703, head-stone; S. of tower, (7) to T.G., 1668 [Thomas Gosling], tomb similar to (2); (8) to E.G., 1686, [Elizabeth Gosling] tomb similar to (2). Floor-slabs: In S. aisle—(1) to Elizabeth Harris and two infants; (2) to Uriah Harris, jun., and Barbara Harris; (3) to Uriah Harris, sen., and John Harris, all late 17th- or early 18th-century. Piscinae: In chancel—with hollow-chamfered jambs, trefoiled and sub-cusped arch in a square head and quatre-foiled drain with boss in middle, 15th-century. In S. aisle—in S. wall, with chamfered jambs, cinque-foiled head and round drain, 15th-century. Plate: includes a large pewter flagon and plate, late 17th- or early 18th-century. Screens: In nave—now under tower-arch, upper part of former rood-screen incorporated with modern work, of five bays including central doorway, all with pointed heads and range of traceried panels above, each of three lights, 15th-century. In S. aisle—two parcloses, screening off the E. bay; N. parclose (Plate 61) of six and a half bays, including former doorway, open upper panels with cinque-foiled ogee heads with carved crockets and cusp-points, traceried spandrels above and moulded posts, rail and head, close lower panels with cinque-foiled heads and foliated spandrels; W. parclose, generally similar to that on N. and of seven bays, including wide central doorway; both late 15th- or early 16th-century, considerably restored in 1914. Seating: In nave—two bench-ends with carved popey-heads, incorporated in modern reading-desk, 15th-century. Sedilia: In chancel —two bays with chamfered jambs and cinque-foiled ogee heads, central shaft partly restored, 15th-century. Sundial: On S. wall of S. aisle— painted rectangular dial with iron gnomon, early 18th-century. Miscellanea: Incorporated in church walls, fragments of moulded and worked stones, including small 12th-century capital. Incorporated in churchyard wall—part of stone finial with shallow ogee-headed niche, 15th-century.
a(2). Wistow Bridge (Plate 131), 340 yards N.E. of the church, is of stone repaired in brick, and of three spans. It was built in the 16th or 17th century, but has modern widening over the cutwaters on both sides in re-inforced concrete. The arches are round and plain, and the piers have pointed cutwaters on each side.
b(3). Limetree Farm, house on the N. side of the road, 350 yards S.W. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and faced with modern brick; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably early in the 16th century on an H-shaped plan with the cross-wings at the N.E. and S.W. ends. Inside the building, the ground-floor room of the central or Hall-block has an original moulded ceiling-beam; the walls have early 18th-century painted panelling. The front room in the S.W. wing is lined with early 18th-century panelling; the fireplace is flanked by fluted pilasters (Plate 158) and to the left of it is a panelled recess with a fluted head and scrolled key-block; the ceiling-beam has panelled casing. The early 18th-century staircase has turned balusters and moulded hand-rail; it is either not in situ or was formerly open to the Hall.
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, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good or fairly good, unless noted.
b(4). House, on the S. side of the road, 100 yards S.W. of (3), is of L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.E. and N.W. It has been partly refaced with brick. Inside the building is one early 18th-century corner-cupboard, with fluted pilasters and a dentilled cornice.
b(5). Mill Farm, house 300 yards N.E. of (4), is of irregular plan. The S. part of the house was built probably early in the 17th century; later in the same century the N. part was added, together with a wing at the back. The back wing is faced with brick and was wrought-iron capitals S.G.E., perhaps for Stephen and Elizabeth Gosling; the southern of the two gables has an oval panel.
a(6). Cottage, on the S. side of the road, 60 yards E.S.E. of the church.
a(7). Manor House, on the E. side of the road, 160 yards E. of the church, was built on a T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the W. end; there are modern additions on the N. and E. The W. front is plastered and has two swags of drapery and two double scrolls, probably original and very crudely executed. The central chimney-stack has three square shafts with a common capping and a rectangular base with the date 1662 in a sunk panel.
a(8). Porch House, 100 yards N. of (7), has a later extension on the S. The plastered front has a rectangular panel with diagonal lines. The original central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts on a rectangular base with the initials and date E.G. 166 in a sunk panel.
a(9). Cottage, on the E. side of a court S. of the road and 150 yards N.E. of the church. The front is plastered in panels.
a(10). House, on the W. side of the road, 320 yards N.N.W. of the church, has an original central chimney-stack with grouped diagonal shafts and square base with a sunk panel, bearing the initials and date I.M. 1655, probably for John Margets.
a(11). Cooper's Farm, house 60 yards N. of (10), was built c. 1600. The original central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts. Inside the building the middle room has an original moulded ceiling-beam with moulded offsets at the ends.