A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The church mentioned at Teversham by 1086, one of the few then recorded in Cambridgeshire, was attached to the hide appropriated from the abbey of Ely by John son of Waleran, (fn. 1) whose father had already granted tithes from Teversham to St. Stephen's abbey, Caen (dep. Calvados). (fn. 2) That abbey's cell, Panfield priory (Essex), received in 1291 and later a tithe portion of 10-12s. yearly, (fn. 3) much in arrears by 1340. (fn. 4)
Patronage of the church, which has remained a rectory, was recovered, however, by Ely, and exercised by its bishop from the 12th century into the late 20th. (fn. 5) Although William fitz Auldelin, John's successor, presented during a vacancy of the see, probably that of 1169-74 after Bishop Nigel's death, the bishop successfully asserted his right in 1205 against fitz Auldelin's successor, William of Warbleton. (fn. 6) The advowson was alleged in 1810 to be held of the honor of Richmond. (fn. 7) The king presented in 1357-8 when Bishop Thomas Lisle was in exile, (fn. 8) and during later vacancies of the see in 1436, 1586, 1594, and 1635. (fn. 9) The archbishop of Canterbury presented by lapse in 1752. (fn. 10) In 1979 part of Teversham ecclesiastical parish was transferred to Cherry Hinton. (fn. 11)
The rector's glebe, comprising in 1279 a messuage and 18 a., (fn. 12) produced in 1340, with the tithes not arising from corn, wool, and lambs, just over half of his income. (fn. 13) In 1810 the rector claimed besides a glebe covering, as in 1639, 17½ a. and two leys (3 roods). He also received all the tithes, save for those from 17 a. in Mill Hill field at the southern extremity of the parish, and from c. 24 a., possessed by Peterhouse as impropriators of Cherry Hinton. (fn. 14) As requested, (fn. 15) the next rector was allotted for his glebe the Church crofts with 10½ a. in three old inclosures, all lying near the rectory house. For tithes he received c. 216½ a. in Causeway and Mill Ditch fields and Fishers fen. (fn. 16) In 1935 Rectory farm, 119 a., was sold for £11,000 to Marshalls to make their new airfield, the rector hoping thus to keep Teversham separate from Cambridge. (fn. 17) Another 110 a. remained with the living until the early 1950s. (fn. 18) In the 1950s small pieces were sold for road widening and to enlarge the school site. (fn. 19)
The rectory was assessed at 20 marks c. 1217, 25½ marks 1256, (fn. 20) but c. 33 marks in 1276 and 1291. (fn. 21) One rector who retired in 1452, broken by age and sickness, was allowed by the bishop a pension of 10 marks, a third of the income, with a chamber in the rectory house. Another resigning in 1497 was allowed only 5 marks, (fn. 22) although in 1535 the living was worth just under £20. (fn. 23) In 1650 the minister William Sharpe declined to pay his taxes until the rate set on his benefice was reduced from £120 to £110. (fn. 24) Reckoned as £84 a year in 1728, (fn. 25) the estimated gross income fluctuated during the 19th century. In 1832 it was £370 gross, of which £60 was paid to the curate. (fn. 26) In 1841 the rectory land yielded £300-350 in rent, depending on the price of wheat. (fn. 27) From £350 in 1851 (fn. 28) the rector's income rose to c. £500 in 1873, but, coming almost entirely from land, fell well below £380 net by 1885. (fn. 29) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners gave temporary augmentations in 1911 and 1918-20, and one of £28 between 1928 and the sale of 1935. (fn. 30)
The former rectory house, mentioned in 1403 and possibly remodelled by Lawrence Moptyd, rector 1555-7, whose arms once appeared in its hall window, (fn. 31) stood by 1639, when it had 15 rooms, in a 2 1/2-a. close north-west of the churchyard. (fn. 32) In 1782, when it was let to a farmer, much work was needed on its plaster, tiling, and thatch. (fn. 33) In 1818 John Brocklebank, presented in 1817, was licensed to be absent, because it was unfit. (fn. 34) He complained that he had found everything fallen into dilapidation, and spent over £2,000, effectively of his own money, on building in 1819 a new house, (fn. 35) just west of the earlier one, which was then removed. The modern rectory house was repaired in 1892, (fn. 36) 1933, and 1955. (fn. 37) The removal of additions made on the east and north sides has since left the two-storeyed brick house as it was when built in 1819; its original rectangular plan conformed to a standard pattern of rectory houses, including a study for the incumbent near the front door. The house has original plaster cornice mouldings, and reeded doorcases and fireplace. (fn. 38) It remained the incumbent's residence until c. 1980. (fn. 39)
A chaplain was serving the parish in the late 12th century, (fn. 40) and rectors were recorded from the mid 13th: the ex-rebel William of Swaffham, the first so styled, in 1267, was a pluralist. (fn. 41) His successor by 1279, though Paris-born, was of a Hauxton family. (fn. 42) In the 14th century the living attracted a few clerics of some standing. The pluralist graduate Walter Stratton, who in 1337 obtained leave of absence at the request of Elizabeth de Burgh, had four successors by 1349, the first not in higher orders. (fn. 43) The right of a king's clerk presented in 1357 was disputed by a papal provisor. (fn. 44) In 1371 Teversham was briefly held by another pluralist, Thomas Eltisley the younger. (fn. 45) William Bridge, rector 1376-82, who like two successors before 1400 obtained Teversham by exchange, (fn. 46) was apparently resident: in 1377-8 he claimed a mortuary from a widower and in 1378 denied one woman, allegedly excommunicate, her Easter communion. (fn. 47) Bridge acted as commissary to the archdeacon of Ely's venal official and was cited in 1378 for misappropriating as executor a deceased man's goods. (fn. 48) In 1403 the next rector but two was wounded when attacked with another priest in his house by a chaplain, (fn. 49) probably one of those occasionally recorded in the 14th and 15th centuries, who helped serve the parish. (fn. 50) One gave a set of vestments c. 1370, when a rector of East Hatley had given a 'Reymund', perhaps the canonist Raymond de Penafort's book on penance. (fn. 51) Rectors were still sometimes graduates in the mid 15th century: a bachelor of theology who had been a college fellow c. 1403 retired only in 1452. (fn. 52)
A church reeve was suing in 1378 on behalf of the parishioners for breach of faith, presumably over some debt. (fn. 53) Under Ralph Hopwood (d. 1538), who held the living with Fen Ditton, (fn. 54) Teversham was probably still mainly served by parish priests. Wills which they witnessed included bequests for the lights of the sepulchre, Our Lady, All Saints, and that of the sacrament. (fn. 55) There was probably then a guild of the Trinity. (fn. 56) One priest who preached there in 1533 was later accused of supporting the Papacy and criticizing the king's remarriage. (fn. 57)
After 1560 Teversham was often held by eminent university men, including John Whitgift, 1560-72, and Richard Bancroft, 1576-86, who also succeeded Whitgift as archbishop of Canterbury. (fn. 58) The queen's second nominee, in 1594, Thomas Neville (d. 1615), master of Trinity College, Cambridge, acted with Whitgift in the 1590s to uphold Calvinism. (fn. 59) Matthew Wren, rector 1615-35, later the strongly Laudian bishop of Norwich and Ely, when made master of Peterhouse in 1625 was dispensed not to reside and to hold other preferments. (fn. 60)
Whitgift, though sometimes resident c. 1560, (fn. 61) was employing a curate by 1570. (fn. 62) In 1577 the churchwardens were admonished for not checking the licences of clergy sent over from Cambridge university to preach. (fn. 63) Curates were again frequently reported under later rectors from the 1590s. (fn. 64) One man hanged himself c. 1579 after being accused of fathering a bastard. Some parishioners were reported in the 1590s for carting on the Sabbath, absence from church, and shooting in service time. (fn. 65) The rector in 1638, a Crown nominee, (fn. 66) was ejected in 1644. He reappeared in 1647 to attack parliament from the pulpit and hinder payment of tithes to the successor whom it had appointed, to whom parishioners were still refusing to pay them in 1650. (fn. 67) That successor, who in 1658 adhered to the Cambridgeshire Presbyterian classis, died in office in 1661. (fn. 68) In 1685 the church still needed a new bible, and books of Common Prayer and the canons. (fn. 69)
The rectors appointed between the 1660s and the 1810s, some men of distinction, retained the living for long periods, Joseph Beaumont, master of Peterhouse, serving 1664-99, and two successors, 1725-61 and 1768-1811. Until the 1760s they were usually pluralists, (fn. 70) dwelling at their other livings and leaving the rectory house to decay. (fn. 71) John Warren, 1761-8, chaplain and secretary to successive bishops of Ely, later himself received two Welsh bishoprics. (fn. 72) As Beaumont had done, (fn. 73) they employed curates, one of them paid £24 in 1728, who also often lived in college at Cambridge. The curates held two Sunday services in 1728, as usually in 1775, besides the normal three annual sacraments. In the 1810s a fourth was added. (fn. 74) In 1767, after thirty years in office, one curate was as 'tired of the parish' as it was of him. (fn. 75) By 1825, when there were 12 communicants, John Brocklebank, though also holding Willingham since 1824, dwelt at his new rectory house and performed Sunday services alternately morning and evening because the population was small. Half paralysed from 1827, he left to take the waters at Bath and Brighton, serving Teversham through curates, one in 1836 a fellow of Queens', who from 1833 held two services weekly. (fn. 76)
The elderly canon of Ely who was rector 1843-59 claimed in 1851 an attendance of 50 on Sunday mornings, but 80 in the afternoons, besides 20 Sunday-school children. (fn. 77) He did not visit the poor. Services in his time were remembered as 'bald, meagre, and altogether disgraceful': in winter villagers might sleep in the unlighted church through regularly recycled sermons, and the village shoemaker as parish clerk 'snuffled' through hymns in the gallery, discordantly accompanied only by cello and clarinets. (fn. 78) In the later 19th century few of the rectors, though normally resident and serving almost single-handed, stayed more than 8-10 years. (fn. 79) Two died suddenly in office, in 1881 and 1891, the former much mourned. (fn. 80) At communions, held monthly by 1873, weekly in 1885 and later, about half the 40 communicants, out of c. 100 estimated churchgoers, a third of the inhabitants, attended regularly in 1873, nor did more than 28 of the 54 adult churchgoers in 1885. (fn. 81) In the 1880s evening services were usually best attended, but children's Sunday afternoon ones declined by 1886 into Sunday schools, while special services, as in Holy Week, seldom drew many people. (fn. 82) A choir and bible class had been started by the early 1890s. (fn. 83) In 1897 a rector who visited the whole parish monthly claimed 47 communicants. The church then had 140 sittings, all but 10 free. (fn. 84) Teversham continued to have resident rectors until 1979. (fn. 85) Thereafter it was served by priests-in-charge or from neighbouring parishes, c. 1990 from Cherry Hinton. (fn. 86)
The church, named from ALL SAINTS when it was reconsecrated in 1393, (fn. 87) is built of field stones, flint, and clunch, partly dressed in limestone, all tiled, as in 1744, and partly cement-rendered. It consists of a chancel, an aisled nave, west tower, and south porch. (fn. 88) Inside it contains notable carving in clunch. In the early 13th century were built the unbuttressed chancel, which retains one lancet in its north wall, and the arcades of the nave, from whose clerestory there survive, in the arcade spandrels, vesica-shaped windows, two each side, set horizontally. Both arcades, then of four bays, have double-chamfered arches on octagonal piers, their capitals carved with stiff leaf, with more elaborately worked, trumpet-shaped east responds. In the 14th century the aisles were rebuilt on a wider plan, that on the north apparently reusing in its lower part rough limestone from its predecessor, below the squared clunch blocks mainly used also in the south aisle. The aisle roofs were made continuous with the higher-pitched roof of the nave, so enclosing the earlier clerestory. The aisles were also then given windows, much restored c. 1890, (fn. 89) mostly of two lights, foiled, some below quatrefoils. The north aisle, perhaps the chapel of St. Mary whose altar had its own chalice c. 1275, (fn. 90) retains a piscina in its north wall. Another restored piscina is in the south aisle, which has a moulded external string course and contemporary, though renewed, doorway. The lower walling of the south porch may be of that period, though its upper parts are of c. 1890. Perhaps c. 1390, (fn. 91) the chancel was remodelled, its partly chamfered western arch being rebuilt in clunch upwards from the capitals of the late 13th-century shafted limestone responds; behind the southern one survive traces of a stone screen. The chancel had also had new foiled windows, mostly of two lights, one square-headed, inserted in its side walls, one with a low side below a transom. The east window, in whose glass the arms of Mortimer, Earl of March, survived in 1744, had then five lights. Another chancel window then contained emblems of the crucifixion. (fn. 92)
A 15th-century doorway in the chancel north wall presumbly once led to a demolished vestry. In the 15th century, too, a triple, stepped sedilia, with arcading above nodding arches, some ogeed, and a matching piscina, were inserted in the chancel south wall. (fn. 93) Earlier in that century the three-stage west tower with its crow-stepped parapet, wide buttresses, and south-western stair turret, was inserted into the western end of the nave, projecting slightly westward. Its thick walls fill the fourth nave bay, leaving only the springing of the fourth arch visible. The tower west window of three cinquefoiled lights retains in its glass reset fragments of medieval canopy work. Probably then squints were pierced through the north and south chancel arch responds, while a (later blocked) roodstair was made at the north aisle east end.
The much-recut, perhaps 13th-century, octagonal font stands on a 15th-century stem. The ornately carved oak roodscreen, which replaced any earlier stone one and was noted in 1744, when the chancel was 'stalled round', (fn. 94) is of c. 1400. Above, it has six bays, the two central ones being combined as an entrance below, with thickly cusped and quatrefoiled tracery over ogeed arches, and bears traces of original paint. Two of the panels below were replaced with Jacobean woodwork. (fn. 95) The oak-plank door to the ringing chamber and seven oak benches with panelled ends in the nave are also probably 15thcentury. Shortly after 1500 the boarded ceiling to the tower's lowest stage was painted: sixteen of its panels with flowers, the four central ones with shields. That painting was renewed in 1891. (fn. 96) In 1643 William Dowsing destroyed all but six copies that he could not reach of the name of Jesus, still then inscribed in great capitals six times over the six nave arches, twelve times in the chancel. The altar steps which he also demolished had still not been restored in 1744. (fn. 97) A pilastered alabaster tomb chest for Edward Steward, with effigies of himself in Greenwich armour and his beruffed and farthingaled wife Margaret, and their arms, erected by his son-in-law Thomas Jermy at the north aisle east end, was in 1863 removed, with its contemporary iron railing, to the south aisle west end. (fn. 98)
About 1620 Matthew Wren complained that through the churchwardens' neglect rain was pouring into the nave through the unslatted roof. (fn. 99) In 1695 the chancel ceiling was broken down. (fn. 100) By 1744 the chancel east window's upper tracery was missing and in 1782 its other windows were unglazed, and patched with tiles and mortar. (fn. 101)
In 1862-3 the church was restored, partly at parish expense, under Mr. Jeckell of Norwich. The chancel was given a new reredos and threelight east window in Geometrical plate tracery, and was reroofed, reseated in oak, and paved with tiles. (fn. 102) Further substantial work, following demands by the archdeacon in 1886, was undertaken on the nave and aisles, to designs by J. P. St. Aubyn, in 1888-90. The aisle roofs, though not lowered to reveal the old clerestory, as he suggested, were renewed, while the nave was refloored and its seating rearranged, and the tower was screened off as a vestry. The tower was reroofed and its parapet restored, and also its tracery in 1891, when a Jacobean oak pulpit discarded from Cherry Hinton church replaced a stone one of the 1860s. (fn. 103)
About 1300 the church had, besides ten or more service books, some poorly bound, two chalices, (fn. 104) as in 1552. (fn. 105) The existing plate includes a cup of 1638 and an early 18th-century paten, given, after a cup and paten were stolen in 1698, by Ralph Witty, rector 1689-1717. (fn. 106) An organ replaced a harmonium in 1887. (fn. 107) A bell frame, probably medieval, for three bells, presumably housed the three reported in 1552, two invoking St. Mary and St. Katherine. (fn. 108) One lay broken by 1744, two in 1782, when their metal was sold to help pay for church repairs, (fn. 109) leaving the third, recast by Taylor of St. Neots in 1799, which remains in the tower. (fn. 110)
The parish registers survive from 1592, the first being composite. In the 18th century they were apparently copied annually from draft paper registers. (fn. 111) The churchyard, which contains carved 18th-century headstones, was enlarged westwards in 1927. (fn. 112)
From the 1660s the church was partly maintained from Lady Joan Jermy's charity, out of which it was to receive £1 a year for repairs after 1729. (fn. 113)