Pages 66-70

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.

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23. DIDDINGTON (C.e.).

(O.S. 6 in. XXI S.E.)

Diddington is a parish and small village, 5 m. S.W. of Huntingdon. The church is the principal monument.


(1). Parish Church of St. Lawrence stands in the Park, 150 yards E. of the Great North Road and on the N. side of the village. The walls generally are of stone or pebble-rubble covered with plaster, but the E. wall of the chancel, the W. tower and S. porch are of brick; the walls of the last are also covered with plaster; the dressings are of Barnack stone and the roofs are covered with lead. The Chancel and Nave are of early to mid 13th-century date. The North Aisle was added c. 1275, but was considerably altered late in the 15th or early in the 16th century. About the same time the South Chapel was built (possibly in 1505, the date of the Taylard monument), and shortly afterwards the West Tower and clear-storey were added, the W. parts of the N. and S. walls of the nave re-built, the W. bay of the N. arcade destroyed, and the N. aisle shortened by one bay. In the middle of the 16th century the South Porch was built. In the 17th century the chancel was shortened and the E. wall re-built in brick, and in modern times the North Vestry was added.

The church, though small, is of interest, and among the fittings the glass in the S. chapel is noteworthy.

Diddington, Parish Church of St Lawrence

Architectural Description—The Chancel (19¾ ft. by 18½ ft.) is of early to mid 13th-century date, but was shortened in the 17th century when the E. wall was re-built in brick. The E. window is of three lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label and plain stops; it is of early 14th-century character, but the mullions and tracery are modern, though the jambs and head are of earlier work re-set. In the N. wall are two windows; the easternmost is a widely splayed 13th-century lancet now opening into the modern vestry and with the sill raised to clear the head of the doorway below; the second window is of late 15th- or early 16th-century date and of two cinque-foiled lights with casementmoulded reveals, four - centred head and a moulded label; in the hollow-moulding to each jamb is a carved flower; the early 16th-century doorway has moulded jambs and a low four-centred head. In the S. wall are two windows; the easternmost is a 13th-century lancet and the westernmost is of 14th-century date and of two trefoiled ogee lights in a square head with a moulded label and carved stops; the westernmost light of this window is transomed and has the lower light or 'low-side' rebated on the inside for a shutter; the 14th-century S. doorway has chamfered jambs and moulded ogee head; the chancel-arch and responds are modern, but the lower part of the moulded inner order is of the 14th century, re-set.

The Nave (41 ft. by 18¾ ft.) has a late 13th-century N. arcade of three bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders with circular piers and half-round responds with moulded capitals and bases; the existing W. respond was formerly a free column and the arcade continued one bay further W. The S. arcade opening into the S. chapel is of early 16th-century date and in two bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the middle pier is octagonal with a moulded capital and chamfered base, and the outer order of the arch is continued down the responds; the inner order is carried on semi-octagonal moulded corbels terminating in carved knots; W. of the arcade is an early to mid 13th-century S. doorway with a two-centred head of two orders, the inner chamfered and continuous and the outer square and carried on circular shafts with moulded abaci, capitals and bases. The clearstorey has in each wall a range of three early 16th-century windows, each of three cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head.

The North Aisle (10 ft. wide) was added in the 13th century, but was probably re-built late in the 15th or early in the 16th century, when it appears to have been shortened at the W. end. Two brick buttresses against the N. wall were added in the 18th century and the parapet is of 18th-century brick. The E. window is of the date of the rebuilding and is of four cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head; on the S. side the wall above the sill of the window is recessed, the rear-arch of the window being carried on a corbel from which springs a half-arch abutting on to the wall of the nave and carrying the wall above. In the N. wall are two three-light windows of the same date and of similar design to the E. window; the N. doorway is of late 15th- or early 16th-century date and has chamfered jambs and a moulded four-centred head with a moulded label. At the E. end of the S. wall, high up, is a segmental-headed doorway to the former rood-loft, with two steps in the thickness of the wall.

The South Chapel (18½ ft. by 10¾ ft.) is of early 16th-century date, two bays in length and has a grotesque beast-gargoyle on the string below the parapet. In the E. wall is a blocked window, apparently of four lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label. In the S. wall are two original windows, each with moulded splays and rear-arches and of three cinque-foiled lights, the middle light ogee-headed and with traceried spandrels in a moulded four-centred head with a moulded label.

The West Tower (about 8½ ft. square) is of early 16th-century date and is of three stages, with a moulded plinth and embattled parapet with carved grotesque gargoyles at the angles of the string-course. The tower-arch is two-centred and of two orders, the outer wave-moulded and dying on to chamfered responds and the inner carried on half-round attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the outer orders on the W. spring off the tower-walls. The W. window is of three cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a two-centred moulded head with a moulded label. The second stage has in the E. wall a doorway with an ogee head and in the W. wall a window of one three-centred light. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two four-centred lights with a pierced spandrel in a four-centred head with a moulded label and grotesque beast-stops.

The South Porch is of early to mid 16th-century date and is of red brick covered with a thin coat of plaster. The S. wall has a stepped gable with modern coping and a moulded string below; the outer archway has double chamfered jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with sunk spandrels and a label, covered with cement. In the W. wall is a window of two four-centred lights.

The Roof of the nave is of early 16th-century date and of four bays with cambered and moulded tie-beams with curved braces, resting on original wall-posts with attached semi-octagonal shafts having embattled caps and moulded bases; the wall-plates are moulded and embattled.

Fittings—Bells: three; 1st by R. Chandler, 1688. Bell - frame, old. Brasses: In nave—of [Alice (Forster) widow of Walter Taylard] 1513, with kneeling figure (Plate 44) of woman in widow's weeds with inscribed scroll issuing from mouth; above, figures of the Virgin and Child and, at side, figures of three sons; in bottom of slab, shield of Taylard quarterly [argent and sable] a cross paty quarterly [sable and or] impaling Forster, sable a cheveron ermine between three pheons [argent]; and two small rectangular plates, each inscribed with date 1513, in Arabic numerals, between three fleurs-de-lis and three pheons respectively; immediately below central figure indent for inscription - plate. (See also Monument.) Chest: In W. tower—of oak, covered with sheet-iron and iron-bound with four hasps and two locks, cambered lid, 16th-century. Font: with irregular octagonal bowl rounded at bottom to meet circular shaft, with chamfered cap and double chamfered base, probably 13th-century. Glass: In S. chapel—in first window in S. wall, miscellaneous collection and fragments badly re-set, including in first light, oval panel representing scene from the parable of the "Prodigal Son" with verses from Luke xv in Dutch, 17th-century; three quarries of badge representing pricket or harrow; a lozenge-shaped quarry of badge of a gold tree between initials "I.E." bound together with cord, 16th-century; head of a figure in brown line and various pieces of canopy-work, 15th- and early 16th-century; two seated figures of men in high-crowned hats and jack boots, early to mid 17th-century; fragments of figures, early German or Swiss Renaissance; stars; a red bird; and in top of light, head of cherub; in second light, head and upper part of woman wearing hair in netted head-dress, foreign, 16th-century; two heads of cherubs, early Renaissance; circular medallion of upper part of St. Paul, apparently seated, with sword in right hand and book in left; small pieces of canopy-work; two small figures of nude boys, foreign, late 16th-century, and other fragments; in third light, quarries with columbine-flowers; pieces of canopy-work; face of woman (similar date and character to woman in middle light); two beasts fighting, one in man's dress; a yellow tree; figures of two amorini; portion of border in red stain with crowns and letters "P," 15th-century (similar pieces in middle light); oval panel representing scene from parable of the "Prodigal Son" with verses from Luke xv in Dutch, and other fragments; in tracery in head of window, foliated glass, apparently in situ, early 16th-century. In second window, miscellaneous pieces, (Plate 43) re-set, including in first light figure of St. Margaret, crowned and with halo, wearing blue robe with edging or border of white and gold embroidery and ermine lining; book in left hand and handle of spear in right with which she pierces the dragon on which she stands; part of shaft of spear and dragon missing; background of lozenge-shaped quarries enriched with diapering; below figure, scroll inscribed in 'black-letter' "Sacta Margareta," 15th-century; head of St. James the Greater wearing beaver hat with cockle-shell and having halo encircling his head, 15th-century; several quarries painted with letters "M" and "K" respectively from former borders, 15th-century; several pieces of 'black-letter' inscriptions, all fragmentary, 15th-century; various pieces of conventional foliated border in yellow and brown, pieces of blue glass, etc.; in middle light, Resurrection-figure of Christ, wearing crown of thorns and with halo, rising from tomb; tomb panelled and light-blue colour, part of figure missing, 15th-century; various quarries with diaper-work as in first light; quarries inscribed with 'black-letter' "I.H.C." forming part of border with stars; head of 14th-century figure, with dark brown face and made-up figure of pieces of ruby suggesting kneeling man, all within made-up border of black and white scroll-work; portions of a cherub, late 16th-century; several fragments of 'black-letter' inscription; in third light, figure of St. Katherine in blue robe holding a wheel in left hand and a scimitar in her right; head missing and lower part of figure made up of pieces of glass badly arranged (a tress of hair on right side of figure belongs to St. Margaret in first light); below figure, part of 'black-letter' inscription" . . . acta Kate . . ." ("ina" completing the end of inscription re-set in first light); quarries of border of letters "K" and "M" as in first light; fragments of incomplete 'black-letter' inscriptions, some re-set upside down; head of a lion of St. Mark; in the heads of lights, borders of fleurs-de-lis and rosettes, perhaps in situ; in head of the window, portions of foliated glass apparently in situ, c. 1500. Locker: In chancel—in S. wall, square, rebated for door, with two hooks for hinges on W. side. Monument: under first arch of S. arcade—against E. respond, of William Taylard, 1505, and Elizabeth [Anstye] his wife, altar-tomb (Plate 44) and Purbeck-marble slab against respond at back, slab with brass, of lower part of figure of man in armour of the period, kneeling at a desk, with woman kneeling at a second desk, in pedimental head-dress and heraldic mantle, quarterly 1, Anstye [or] a cross engrailed between four martlets gules; 2, Street [vert] a fesse between three running horses [argent]; 3, Raynes, checky [or] and gules a quarter ermine; 4, Scudamore, gules three stirrups [or]; both figures have inscribed labels; below figures, inscription-plate and indents for groups of five sons and seven daughters and, at top of slab, indent of large rectangular plate, two shields and a Trinity; in bottom of slab, ornamental base with row of quatre-foiled panels with ornament below, and, at sides of slab, two long panels with figures on pedestals in canopied niches of, on N. side, (1) Our Lord with right hand raised and holding in left an orb; (2) St. John the Baptist holding book and Agnus Dei; (3) St. John the Evangelist with chalice and dragon. S. side, (1) Virgin and Child; (2) St. Mary Magdalene with pot of ointment; (3) St. Katherine crowned and with wheel and sword; altar-tomb, with four cinque-foiled panels on N. side with, in each alternate panel, a square flower and a blank shield with sinking in middle probably for brass and at ends of sides long trefoil-headed panel; on S. end, cinquefoil-headed panel with shield as before with trefoiled panel on either side; E. end against respond; S. side apparently similar to N. side, but now covered by modern pew; Purbeck-marble top with moulded edge; moulded base, early 16th-century. Poor-box: In nave— on square post attached to end of S. block of pews, of oak, square in plan, cut out of solid, with two moulded corners and under edge, lid fastened by two iron hinges, iron lock and plate; slot in middle of lid, 17th-century. Seating: Pews—in nave, on N. side, two blocks of four and one frontenclosure, with moulded rails and bench-ends with moulded top rail and sill and ogee cinquefoil-headed panel with tracery and foliated spandrels between small projecting buttresses with moulded bases; the back of the westernmost pew is in three panels with sub-cusped trefoiled heads and spandrels carved with, (a) roses, (b) a lion with winged monster, one spandrel broken, but apparently the same subject, (c) eagles (Plate 51); rear-block similar, front-enclosure with panels and carving similar to back of front block. On S. side of nave, two blocks of four pews with fronts, similar to those on N. side, front and back enclosures of front block in three bays with cusped and traceried heads to panels and foliated spandrels. In N. aisle—at E. end, one pew-front, as others with foliated spandrels. At W. end, refixed against W. wall and incorporated in back of modern pew, part of front of former pew, in three bays divided as above described and with carved spandrels, (a) eagles, (b) beasts fighting small winged monsters, (c) roses, all c. 1500.



(2). Homestead Moat, S. of Top Farm, Boughton, and 1,500 yards S.E. of the church.

Monuments (3–8).

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys; the roofs are tiled or thatched. Some of the buildings have original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good or fairly good.

(3). Range of five tenements on the S. side of the road, 320 yards S.S.E. of the church, has been almost entirely refaced with modern brick.

(4). Range of three tenements, 200 yards E.S.E. of (3), is timber-framed and plastered and was built late in the 17th or early in the 18th century.

(5). Cottage, two tenements, at Boughton, 1,400 yards S.E. of the church and N.E. of Top Farm, is partly of brick and partly timber-framed and plastered. Late in the 17th or early in the 18th century the ends were re-built in brick. In the E. end are two oval panels or blocked windows. Inside the building the E. wall of the E. room is lined with early 18th-century panelling with a moulded cornice; the fireplace has a moulded surround and cornice.

(6). Cottage, two tenements, 200 yards N.N.E. of (5) was originally timber-framed and plastered, but the W. tenement was refaced in brick late in the 17th or early in the 18th century. The original W. chimney-stack has two grouped diagonal shafts.

(7). Cottage, 100 yards S.E. of (6), is timber-framed and plastered.

(8). Lodge Farm, house, about ¾ m. W. of the church, has been refaced in modern brick but has timber-framed additions on the N. side and a modern extension at the W. end.