An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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101. YAXLEY (C.b.).
(O.S. 6 in. V. S.E.)
Yaxley is a parish and large village 4 m. S.S.W. of Peterborough. The church is the principal monument.
(1). Parish Church of St. Peter (Plate 162) stands on the N.W. side of the village. The walls generally are of rubble, more or less coursed, except the E. wall of the chancel, most of the tower, the spire and the S. porch which, with the dressings throughout the church, are of Barnack-stone ashlar. The roofs are covered with lead. There was apparently a cruciform church on the site in the 13th century, and of this the side walls and perhaps the ends of the Transepts remain. About the years 1290–1300 the church was largely reconstructed, the North and South Chapels being added or re-built, the transepts altered and the aisles of the nave widened, as is indicated by the partial blocking of a lancet-window in the W. wall of the N. transept. About 1330–40 the E. wall of the chancel was re-built or refaced and the roofs of the N. and S. chapels altered in pitch, that on the N. probably to provide space for the still existing paintings over the arcade; the two piscinae in the S. chapel, together with the two windows in the E. bay indicate that this chapel was extended one bay to the E. at about the same period, the piscina of the earlier chapel being suffered to remain; if this were so, the consequent addition of one bay to the arcade opening into the chancel was done in so close an imitation of the earlier work as to make it difficult to distinguish between the two periods and the same difficulty is seen in the outer walls and buttresses of the E. bay which conform exactly to the western and presumably earlier bays. The large window in the S. transept was inserted at the same time or a little later. In the second half of the 15th century the whole of the Nave and clearstorey was reconstructed and shortly before, though not in the same build, the West Tower and spire were built. The South Porch is also of this period, but replaces an earlier building The church was restored in 1906–10.
The church is a large one and has good 13th- and 14th-century detail; the tower and spire are good late 15th-century work. Among the fittings the paintings, sedilia, screen and pulpit are noteworthy, and the heart memorial is an unusual feature.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (40 ft. by 16 ft.) has an E. wall faced with rough ashlar and finished with a moulded parapet-coping and string. The 14th-century E. window is of five trefoiled lights with flowing leaf-tracery in a two-centred head with moulded jambs, mullions, splays with moulded bases and a label with head-stops; the mullions have been restored; below the sill is a moulded internal string-course. In the N. wall is an arcade of the end of the 13th century and of two bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders and moulded labels; the column is of quatre-foiled plan with moulded capital and modern base; the E. respond has an attached half-column and the W. respond has a moulded corbel from which springs the inner order of the arch. In the S. wall is an arcade of three bays and of slightly later character than the N. arcade, the mouldings being more elaborate; the details are generally similar, but the shafts of the columns are filleted; the inner order of the arches springs on the E. and W. from moulded corbels with diminishing shafts terminating in carved head-stops; the shaft of the eastern column with its base and the base of the western column are modern. The clear-storey is defined at the base by a moulded string-course; it has three 14th-century windows on each side, each of two trefoiled ogee lights in a segmental head; the splays are moulded. The roof rests on moulded corbels supported on small pilasters above the string-course and finished with a chamfer below it. The chancel-arch, of c. 1300, is two-centred and of two chamfered orders, the inner springing from semi-octagonal moulded corbels with diminishing shafts below, terminating on the S. in a broken winged beast; the mouldings of the corbels are continued under the springing of the outer orders of the arch. Above the arch, on the E. face, are visible the weatherings of the earlier chancel-roof, before the clearstorey was added.
The North Chapel (40 ft. by 15 ft. average) has a plain parapet with two grotesque gargoyles and a collared bear on the angle. In the E. wall are three graduated lancet-lights, with a trefoiled head and a trefoil in skeleton-tracery at the head of each and a moulded label with mask-stops; they are of the end of the 13th century and considerably restored. In the N. wall are three windows, the two easternmost similar to the E. window and the westernmost of the 15th century and of four cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label and defaced carved stops. The E. and N. walls have a moulded string-course below the window-sills and partly cut away on the E. wall. In the W. wall is a late 13th-century arch, two-centred and of two chamfered orders with moulded labels and mask-stops under the N. ends of the labels; the inner order rests on moulded corbels.
The South Chapel (39½ ft. by 15½ ft.) has a parapet similar to the N. chapel with three grotesque gargoyles and a crocodile on the angle. The 14th-century E. window is of three trefoiled lights with flowing tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label and head-stops. In the S. wall are three windows, the easternmost similar to that just described, the other two of c. 1300 and each of three pointed lights with pierced spandrels in a two-centred head with a moulded label. The moulded internal string-course is stepped up between the two easternmost windows, probably indicating the point from which the chapel was extended; there is, however, no difference in the section of the moulding. In the W. wall is an archway similar to the corresponding arch in the N. chapel, except that the corbels are finished with tapering shafts.
The North Transept (23½ ft. by 16 ft.) has in the E. wall a lancet-window perhaps of mid 13th-century date and with a moulded label and mask-stops. In the N. wall is a window of the end of the 13th century and of three pointed lights, with skeleton-tracery as in the N. chapel, and all under a segmental-pointed head with moulded labels and mask-stops; below the window internally is a moulded string-course returned a short distance along the side walls. In the W. wall is a lancet-window similar to that in the E. wall but with the S. splay built up when the arch to the S. of it was inserted; this arch is of the end of the 13th century, two-centred and of one moulded and one chamfered order with moulded labels; the N. respond has a triple attached shaft with moulded capital and base; the S. respond is plain and of the date of the adjoining arch to the S.; this 15th-century arch is of straight-sided four-centred form and of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting on attached shafts with moulded capitals. In the S. wall, E. of the nave-arcade, is a square-headed doorway to the rood-loft staircase; the step is a re-used corbel.
The South Transept (23½ ft. by 16 ft.) has a grotesque gargoyle to the parapet of the E. wall; in the same wall is a lancet-window similar to those in the N. transept, but with no stops to the label. In the S. wall is a window of c. 1350 of five trefoiled ogee lights with net-tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the jambs and splays are casement-moulded. In the W. wall is an arch of the end of the 13th century, similar to the corresponding arch in the N. transept, but the S. respond has a semi-octagonal attached shaft with moulded capital and base; the adjoining 15th-century arch to the S. aisle is uniform with the corresponding arch in the N. transept.
The Nave (62 ft. by 19 ft.) has in the E. wall, above the chancel-arch, a modern doorway to the rood-loft on the N. and a square-headed blocked opening on the S., perhaps to the leads of the earlier and lower roof. The late 15th-century N. and S. arcades are of four bays with two-centred arches of two orders, the outer moulded and continuous and the inner chamfered and springing from attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the shafts on the nave side are carried up and finished with a moulded capital, to support the roof-principals. The clearstorey has on each side four windows each of three trefoiled lights in a four-centred head, with a moulded label.
The North Aisle (17 ft. wide) has in the N. wall three windows, the two easternmost of c. 1300 and of three pointed lights in a segmental-pointed head with a moulded label; the westernmost window is of late 15th-century date and of three trefoiled lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label; there is a moulded internal string-course below the window-sills; the N. doorway of c. 1300 has jambs and two-centred arch of two hollow-chamfered orders with a moulded label and mask-stops. In the W. wall is a window similar to the westernmost window in the N. wall; at the N.W. angle is a broken grotesque gargoyle.
The South Aisle (16½ ft. wide) has in the S. wall three windows, the two easternmost of the 15th century and of three cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label; the westernmost window is of c. 1300 and of three graduated pointed lights with a moulded label and mask-stops. The S. doorway of c. 1300 is two-centred and of four moulded orders, the innermost formerly trefoiled but with the cusps now broken away; the jambs have each two free and one attached shaft all with moulded caps, bands and bases; parts of the free shafts are missing. In the W. wall is a window similar to the westernmost window in the S. wall.
The West Tower (14 ft. square) is of late 15th-century date and of four stages with clasping buttresses and embattled parapet with crocketed pinnacles at the angles and elaborate grotesque gargoyles at the angles and in the middle of each side. The W. face and the top stage are of ashlar. There is a straight joint between the tower and the wall of the S. arcade. The three arches of the ground-stage are each two-centred and of two orders, the outer wave-moulded and continuous and the inner chamfered and resting on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The W. window is of three cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the W. doorway has moulded jambs and four-centred arch with a moulded label. The doorway to the turret-staircase has chamfered jambs and four-centred arch in a square head. The second stage has in the S. and W. walls a loop-light with a square-headed label. The third stage has a similar light in the N. wall. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two tiers of three trefoiled lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label. The crocketed octagonal spire (Plate 162), of the same date as the tower, is supported by flying buttresses from each angle of the tower, each with a moulded coping and a raking range of three pierced quatrefoils. The spire has two ranges of lights each four in number; those in the lower range are each of two trefoiled lights with tracery in a gabled and crocketed head; those in the upper range are each of one trefoiled light in a gabled head. The spire is entirely of ashlar.
The South Porch is of late 15th-century date and has a four-centred outer archway of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner springing from attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; above and on either side the archway are niches with bowed trefoiled heads, enriched with crockets and finials and a moulded and embattled bracket below. On the wall of the aisle are the marks of the low-pitched roof of an earlier porch, below the existing roof. In the E. wall is a window, lacking its mullion and tracery, but with a four-centred head and a moulded label. The porch is of ashlar with a moulded coping to the parapet and a low S. gable surmounted by three carved beasts, a lion, a yale and a dog, all seated.
The Roof of the chancel incorporates the tie-beams, purlins and other timbers of the 14th-century roof. The roofs of the N. and S. chapels are modern but incorporate some old curved braces and rest on 14th-century moulded corbels carved with grotesque heads. The modern roof of the N. transept has two 14th-century head-corbels and a corbel in the S.W. angle carved with 13th-century foliage. In the S. transept are two 13th-century grotesque head-corbels. The roof of the nave may incorporate some old timbers. The modern roof of the S. porch incorporates a late 15th-century boss carved with a rose and leaves and part of a second boss carved with a bird.
Fittings—Brackets: In N. chapel—on E. wall, semi-octagonal and moulded, with carved foliage, 15th-century. In S. chapel—on E. wall, two, (a) semi-octagonal capital, set in wall, with carved rosettes, traces of red colour, mouldings and upper part defaced, 15th-century; (b) of ogee form, defaced. In N. transept—flanking E. lancet-window, remains of brackets, cut back. Brass Indent: In N. chapel—of foliated octofoiled cross with half-figure, probably of priest, in head, marginal-inscription, 14th-century, grey marble slab. Chest: In tower—in second stage, plain with thin strap ironwork and fluted feet, late 17th- or early 18th-century. Coffin and Coffin-lids. Coffin: In churchyard—W. end, broken stone coffin and lid. Coffin-lids: In churchyard—W. of N. aisle, (1) slightly coped with scrolled cross, stepped calvary and omega-ornament in middle; (2 and 3) plain coped slabs; (4) flat with fleur-de-lis cross in relief; (5) fragment with plain raised cross; W. of S. aisle, (6 and 7) both coped, with foliated cross, omega-ornament, smaller foliated cross at base and two rosettes; (8) coped slab with three scrolled crosses on one stem; (9) flat slab with double hollow-chamfered edge and raised foliated cross on stepped calvary; (10) fragment of coped slab with scrolled cross; W. side of churchyard; (11) fragment of coped slab, all probably 13th-century. Doors: In doorway of rood-loft staircase—of four linen-fold panels with moulded rails and styles, early 16th-century, repaired. In S. doorway—of twelve panels with modern bolection-mouldings planted on, four panels forming wicket, 17th-century, much restored, iron straps and hinges at back, partly old. In doorway to turret-staircase of tower—of battens with one iron hinge with foliated end, early 16th-century. Font: octagonal bowl with plain sunk panels and hollow-chamfered under-edge, cylindrical stem with moulded capital and base, c. 1300. Lockers: In chancel—in N. wall; in N. chapel, in E. wall; in S. chapel, two in S. wall; in S. transept, in S. wall, all the above rectangular with rebated edges; in S. transept— in S. wall, with rebated jambs and two-centred head, three holes for fixing door, late 13th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In N. transept—on N. wall, (1) projecting stone (Plate 127) with sunk panel, having moulded, pointed and trefoiled head, below it, two arms and hands in relief holding a heart; in modern recess adjoining, a round oak box (4¾ in. by 4 in.) with incised lines and rebated lid, found in 1842 in a cavity behind the heart stone and then containing remains of a heart; two glass jars were also found, probably once containing the viscera, all c. 1300. In N. aisle—loose, (2) two fragments, fitting together, of effigy of priest in mass-vestments in high relief, middle part of figure remains, dark marble, late 13th-century. In churchyard—E. of chancel—(3) to Edmund Annis, vicar, 1705, tapering slab; W. of N. aisle, (4) to Margaret, wife of Rodger Bo(l?)and, 1627, inscription-stone, loose. Floor-slabs: In N. chapel—(1) to John.... Vicker, early 18th-century. In S. chapel—(2) broken stone with part of 'black-letter' marginal-inscription, defaced, 15th- or early 16th-century. In S. transept—(3) to William Frasie, 1699. In S. aisle—(4) fragment dated 1708–9. Niches: In chancel—flanking E. window, two shallow recesses with square moulded brackets and cinque-foiled ogee heads with trefoiled spandrels, embattled cornice with carved paterae and head at angle, late 14th-century. In N. aisle—E. of N. doorway, plain recess with chamfered and grooved pedestal, pointed head made up of moulded fragments. See also S. porch. Paintings: In N. chapel—on S. wall, above arcade, in the four spandrels, from E. end, scenes after the Resurrection—(a) standing Resurrection - figure of Christ with long hair and beard; (b) Christ and St. Mary Magdalene, tall Resurrection-figure of Christ on right with cross-staff and cloak, pink with a white collar, on left, female figure with long hair, in black cloak and kneeling; (c) The Road to Emmaus, three standing male figures, first with white cloak, hood thrown back and staff, second with red cloak with black lining, feet bare, third in brown or red cloak with domed hat and stick in right hand, building over apex of arch; (d) The Incredulity of St. Thomas, Resurrection-figure of Christ with cross and flag, before Him a kneeling bearded figure; background of spandrels (c) and (d) powdered with red cinquefoils; all 14th-century. In N. transept— on N. wall, part of band of running foliage in red on cream, late 13th-century. In nave—on N. and S. walls at E. end, panels surrounded by a border of crude acanthus-ornament, figures on N. defaced, on S. a resurrection of the dead, three figures in shrouds rising from black and red tombs, above a black-letter inscription with red capitals; on face of wall below, red ground diapered with sprigs and flowers, on N. side mostly destroyed, early 16th-century. On W. wall—over tower-arch, the Prince of Wales' feathers with the motto "Ich dien," surrounded by the garter, with crown above and supported by two well-drawn Renaissance angels, above, the initials C.P., below, on left, figure in Roman armour with bow and quiver, and on right figure in long cloak and under-garment and holding a cloak, figures have the names Joseph and Benjamin and extracts from Genesis, chap. 49, verses 22 and 27; still further below, parts of a skeleton and figure of a grave-digger, early 17th-century. Piscinae: In N. chapel—in S. wall (Plate 141) with moulded jambs, trefoiled head and moulded label with mask-stops, octofoiled drain, late 13th-century. In S. chapel—in S. wall, (a) with hollow-chamfered jambs and cinque-foiled arch in a square head, projecting sill with shovel-shaped drain, 15th-century; further W. (b) with chamfered jambs and two-centred head, round drain with front cut away, late 13th-century. In N. transept —in E. wall, with moulded jambs and trefoiled head, quatre-foiled drain, late 13th-century. In S. transept—in S. wall, with chamfered jambs and cinque-foiled head, broken round drain, 14th-century. Pulpit (Plate 152): of oak, hexagonal with moulded rails and three ranges of panels with incised decoration of acanthus-type, set in an interlaced border in the middle panels, in one panel of the top range, the date 1631 and two shields with the initials H.S. and I.P.; sounding-board with moulded cornice, acorn-shaped pendants at the angles and enriched panels to the frieze, one with the initials R.E., sounding-board supported by panelled upright with carved enrichments; 15th-century trumpet-shaped stem of pulpit with moulded ribs and edge and moulded and embattled capital to the former post. Recess: In S. transept —in E. wall, with moulded jambs and round head, label cut back, 13th-century, use uncertain. Scratchings: On W. wall of N. aisle, outside, the name William Joyce, 1604; on W. wall of tower, outside, the name William Conie, T.W., probably 16th-century; on S.W. buttress of S. aisle, a cross potent; also numerous names and initials inside ground-stage of tower and elsewhere, 17th- and 18th-century. Screen: Under chancel-arch—of oak and of six bays, of which the third from N. forms doorway, moulded rail and posts with attached shafts with moulded bases, side bays each with close lower panels of two 'lights' with trefoiled and sub-cusped heads and tracery, upper lights open, with cinque-foiled and sub-cusped heads and vertical tracery in a two-centred head, cusp-points finished with rosettes; doorway with restored main arch and two traceried bays above, similar to side bays and partly restored, loft modern; on close lower panels on N. a band of gold monograms M.R., on a red ground, one to each panel, traces of further decoration above, slight traces of similar decoration on S. panels; remains of painted decoration on post mouldings, running ornament and crossed lines, yellow on green, 15th-century, East Anglian type. Seating: In N. transept—four bench-ends with square tops incorporated in modern pews, early 16th-century. Sedilia (Plate 141): In N. chapel—in S. wall, of three stepped bays with moulded jambs and piers, trefoiled heads and moulded labels with mask-stops outer gabled heads also moulded and with simple fleur-de-lis finials, late 13th-century. Stalls: In chancel—on both sides with returned ends, largely modern, but incorporating two complete desks with popey-head standards and fronts (Plate 51) of two bays with two cinque-foiled and traceried panels, foliated spandrels and divided by buttresses—two complete bench-ends with popey-heads—one popey-head— part of a traceried panel and other portions, backs of stalls on N. with old framing and incorporating moulded rail on S., late 15th-century. Miscellanea: In N. aisle—fragments of moulded capitals, shafting, etc., various dates. Under tower—large thatchhook, probably 18th-century.
(2). Manor Farm, house, 130 yards N.N.W. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are covered with stone slates. It was built early in the 17th century, but has been extensively modernized and is now of T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the E. end. The cross-wing has a late 17th-century chimney-stack at each end with moulded capping and base. The doorway on the S. side is original and has chamfered jambs, four-centred head and a moulded cornice. The smaller gable on the S. side has a blocked window of oval form but brought to a point at the bottom. On the N. side of the E. wing there is an original window of three lights with chamfered jambs and mullions. Inside the building the main room in the E. wing has an original moulded ceiling-beam with wall-posts and braces springing from stone corbels. On the first floor there are two early 18th-century panelled doors.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are covered with thatch, tiles or stone slates. Some of the buildings have original chimney-stacks, wide fireplaces and exposed ceiling-beams.
Condition—Good or fairly good.
(3). House, on the S. side of Church Lane, 100 yards S.E. of the church, has been almost entirely re-built, but contains a late 17th-century staircase (Plate 165) with heavy turned and twisted balusters, moulded rails and strings and square newels with ball-terminals.
(4). House, on S.E. side of the main street, 330 yards S.E. of the church, is of two storeys, with attics and cellars and was built c. 1700. The walls are of brick with a band-course between the storeys and a modillioned eaves-cornice on the N.W. front; flanking the middle window on the first floor of the same front, are plain brick pilasters, and at the same level are two oval windows, now blocked. The roof has three dormers with hipped roofs. Inside the building is some early 18th-century panelling and some panelled doors.
(5). Cottage, 120 yards N.E. of (4) has walls of stone rubble, brick and timber-framing. In the N.E. gable is a small panel with the initials and date W.N. 1712.
(6). Cottage N.E. of (5) has been faced with brickwork.
(7). House, three tenements, 170 yards N.E. of (6), was built probably early in the 18th century and has, in the middle, a large gateway.
(8). Cottage, N.E. of (7) has walls of rubble. Over the doorway is a panel with the initial and date W. 17–7.
(9). Cottage, 40 yards N.E. of (8), and opposite S. end of school.
(10). House (Plate 163), three tenements, 150 yards N.E. of (9), is of late 16th-century date. The upper storey projects on the whole of the N.W. front and the timber-framing is exposed; the lower timbers bear the numerals employed when setting up the frame. Inside the building there is some exposed timber-framing. In the N.E. tenement are remains of a 'black-letter' inscription on a beam, and on the E. and S. walls are painted ornamental panels, of Jacobean character, in red and black on a yellow ground. A painted hunting-scene is said to have been uncovered some years ago, but is not now visible.
(11). Cottage, 40 yards E. of (10) has an original moulded ceiling-beam and some early 18th-century panelled doors.
(12). Cottage, 220 yards E. of (11).
(13). Cottage, E. of the Congregational Chapel and 100 yards E.N.E. of (12), was built probably early in the 18th century and has in the end wall a re-set panel with the initials and date W. and T.E. 1703.
(14). Cottage, on the N. side of the road, nearly opposite (12).
(15). House, on the N.W. side of Middleton's Lane and 130 yards N.N.E. of (10) was built probably late in the 16th century; the walls are partly of rubble and partly of timber-framing. The upper storey projects on the S.E. front and the timber-framing is exposed.
(16). House, on the S.W. side of Dobb's Lane, 500 yards N.E. of the church, has ashlar-faced walls. The N.E. front has a moulded string-course between the storeys; the windows are original and have moulded jambs and mullions; the front doorway has stop-moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head; between the windows on the first floor is a shield with the initials and date T.W. 1649. Inside the building is an original moulded ceiling-beam.
(17). Yaxley Stone Windmill, 600 yards W. of the church, is a round building, the two lower stages of which are of stone. In the wall is a panel with the initials and date M W., I R C., 1677, J W M.