Swaffham Prior: Churches

Pages 294-301

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.



Of those Cambridgeshire villages that once had two churches standing within one churchyard to serve separate ecclesiastical parishes, only Swaffham Prior still retains, though mostly rebuilt, both the ancient parish churches certainly established by the early 13th century. (fn. 1) Their benefices have, however, been united since 1667. The church of St. Cyriac and St. Julitta (his mother) was commonly called St. Cyri(a)c's. Its unusual dedication was established by the 1210s (fn. 2) and possibly before the Conquest. (fn. 3) It stands higher and more centrally in the joint churchyard than St. Mary's, which may be of slightly later origin. Both churches however, since their fabric still retained 12th-century features c. 1800, (fn. 4) may well have been founded by 1100. St. Mary's was possibly more important in the earlier Middle Ages. It was admitted, probably in the 1310s, (fn. 5) certainly in the 1560s and probably in the 1660s, (fn. 6) that the demesnes and free and customary holdings of the Ely priory manor, acquired by the abbot before 1000, as well as those of two other manors, Shadworths and Tothills, owed tithe to St. Mary's. That right to tithe was presumably well established before Ely priory appropriated St. Cyriac's church in 1255. (fn. 7) By the early 17th century, too, the vicar of St. Mary's was principally entitled to the tithe of beasts fed on the village's common fens. (fn. 8) In the late 16th and mid 17th centuries the number of children baptized at St. Mary's usually exceeded, being often double or more, that of those christened at St. Cyriac's, although c. 1610-30 numbers were nearly equal. (fn. 9)

St. Cyriac's church presumably belonged before 1200 to the Scalers manor, later Knights. In the 1220s the bishop of Ely sued its tenant Herbert de Alençon over its advowson. (fn. 10) Herbert obtained from his rector of St. Cyriac's, for 3 a., leave to found at his manor house an oratory; (fn. 11) that concession was perhaps the origin of the chapel whose advowson was conveyed with Knights manor in the late 14th century. (fn. 12) In 1240 Herbert sold that church to Ely priory, (fn. 13) to which the bishop appropriated it in 1255. He was to ordain a vicarage, (fn. 14) whose patronage was enjoyed, along with the rectorial rights, by the priory until its surrender in 1539. (fn. 15) It was assigned in 1541 to the newly founded dean and chapter of Ely, who retained and exercised it until the parishes were combined in the 1660s. (fn. 16) The vicarage, established by 1278, (fn. 17) was endowed, besides the small tithes, with a glebe which in 1638 comprised 41 a. of arable with 2 a. of pasture closes. The vicar was also then entitled to yearly payments from the impropriate rectory in cash, doubled after 1540 to £2, and of 5 combs (2 qr.) each of wheat and barley, which represented the yield of 1 a. of each crop. In 1650 that augmentation was worth altogether £8 5s. (fn. 18) The priory collected its corn tithes in kind into the early 15th century. (fn. 19) In the 13th and 14th centuries Rumburgh priory (Suff.) had a small portion in that church. (fn. 20)

St. Mary's probably belonged to the Richmond fee, later Brighams, whose tenant, Hugh of Croydon, in 1254 granted its advowson with 2 a., including 1 a. around the church, in free alms to Anglesey priory. (fn. 21) In 1258 the bishop appropriated that church to Anglesey, reserving to his see the right to collate to the vicarage that was to be established. (fn. 22) Succeeding bishops, (fn. 23) or the Crown during vacancies, (fn. 24) accordingly named those vicars appointed between the 13th century and the 17th. Anglesey retained the impropriate rectory until the Dissolution, (fn. 25) after which it passed briefly to the Crown. In 1562 Elizabeth I granted it by exchange to Bishop Cox of Ely. (fn. 26) Thereafter the rectory and patronage were reunited in the bishops' possession. (fn. 27)

In 1258 the bishop set St. Mary's vicar's portion at 7 marks yearly. To settle consequent disputes between Anglesey and the first vicar, a local man, it was determined in 1260 that the vicar should have not only all the small tithes and offerings, but the hay tithe and 15 a., apparently the former glebe. Anglesey was also required to endow him with 12 a. more from its other Swaffham land and 16s. rent from two of its tenants there. The priory was left effectively with only the corn tithes. As was provided in 1260, (fn. 28) the vicar apparently received, both in 1419 and in 1638, the corn tithe of 1 a. each of wheat and barley, from the Ely priory 'Hall land', later represented by 2 qr. of each crop. By 1535 he was also paid out of the Anglesey rectory a pension of £2 4s. 8d., raised to £4 9s. 4d. by 1638, when his glebe comprised 31 a. (fn. 29)

In the Middle Ages St. Mary's was usually the poorer of the two benefices. (fn. 30) Before 1255 the two unappropriated rectories of St. Cyriac's and St. Mary's had been worth respectively 20 and 12-15 marks, (fn. 31) while in 1278 the two vicarages were taxed at 20 and 12 marks. (fn. 32) In 1535 they yielded respectively £16 18s. 10d. and £14 12s. 10d., (fn. 33) although in 1533 St. Mary's was leased for only £12. (fn. 34) In the 1650s the vicars' incomes were £34-40 and £26. (fn. 35) Both vicars had, by the 16th century and probably earlier, houses beside the churchyard: St Mary's, of two bays in 1638, was up a lane, south of Anglesey close. (fn. 36) In 1260 Anglesey priory had been directed to build a house for the vicar of St. Mary's or pay him 4 marks yearly and let him have the old house where the priest of the church had dwelt, possibly where the later Anglesey House stood south of the churchyard. (fn. 37) St. Cyriac's vicarage house was unroofed in 1564 and in decay by 1593. (fn. 38) In 1664 each of the glebe houses had only three hearths. (fn. 39)

In the 1450s it was usually known to which rectory particular pieces of arable owed their corn tithes, although disputes occasionally occurred between Ely's and Anglesey's appointed collectors. (fn. 40) The crofts owing tithe to the two vicarages could still be distinguished in the 1560s and as late as 1619. (fn. 41) In the 15th and early 16th centuries, too, villagers had known to which parish church they primarily owed allegiance, apparently according to their residence, and left their bodies for burial in its part of the churchyard. (fn. 42) By the 1660s, however, after the two rectories had been leased together to the Rants and sublet by them to the same men for over sixty years, (fn. 43) it was not possible to discover to which rectory the open-field strips were titheable. It was agreed therefore to divide the corn tithes equally between the bishop and the dean and chapter. The partition was confirmed by an Act of Parliament obtained in 1667. (fn. 44) Under it in each of the open fields, c. 250 a. by defined boundaries were assigned to each impropriator, while, if the fens should be cultivated, the crops of the Driest fen were allotted to St. Cyriac's rectory, those of all the others to St. Mary's. Martin Hill, vicar of St. Cyriac's since 1664, was rewarded for his diligence in arranging that settlement by the union of the two vicarages, and held both from 1667. The bishop and the dean and chapter were to present alternately to the united living, the bishop first. (fn. 45) That alternate presentation continued (fn. 46) until 1960 when the bishop ceded his share to the dean and chapter in an exchange. (fn. 47)

Hill was further rewarded in 1667 with another pension of £20, half from each rectory lessee, (fn. 48) and 17 a. of fenland for successfully upholding the dean and chapter's paramount lordship over the intercommonable fens against Sir Thomas Marsh. When that fenland was divided in the 1660s Hill defeated claims that 600 a. of intercommonable fen allotted as Adventurers' land was either extra-parochial or titheable to Swaffham Bulbeck. (fn. 49) By the 1690s Hill claimed to have improved the value of the united vicarage to £140. (fn. 50) By then he was receiving most small tithes, including those of hay, and of sedge mown in the fen, through customary cash payments, besides hearth and garden pennies from parishioners at Easter. (fn. 51) By 1728 the vicar's income was probably £120, (fn. 52) and in 1788, when almost all farmers rented their tithes, £190, including £30 of glebe rent from Charles Allix, and £30 from letting his vicarage house. (fn. 53)

At inclosure all tithes great and small were commuted for land, along with the vicar's traditional pensions. Of c. 895 a. allotted for tithes, the bishop received 310 a., the dean and chapter 225 a., and the vicar 370 a., besides 71 a. for his glebe and 41 a. for the pensions. (fn. 54) Of 483½ a. owned by the vicar in 1887, (fn. 55) 98 a. was sold to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners c. 1901, leaving 385 a. After other sales, Vicarage farm south of the village was sold in 1919 to C. C. Ambrose for £6,400, and most of the remaining 88 a. of fenland soon after. (fn. 56) The vicar retained by 1925 only c. 5 a. around his house. (fn. 57) The vicarial income, £380 gross by 1830, rose into the 1870s, amounting to £500-600 between the 1850s and the early 1880s, but was practically halved by the 1890s. (fn. 58)

After 1667 Martin Hill had replaced the two old vicarage houses, near collapse, with a new one virtually rebuilt from the ground, but reusing the old materials. Standing apparently on the old site by the churchyard, it included a study, parlour, and kitchen, besides chambers, and had a great gate, a barn, and a summerhouse. In 1674 that house had four hearths. (fn. 59) Dean Allix, who in the 1720s resided half the year at Swaffham, (fn. 60) abandoned it, building, 1728 x 1740, a new vicarage house westward across the street. (fn. 61) To a possibly earlier structure remodelled in two bays he added on the north a house of two storeys under a hipped roof with dormers, walled in red brick; some clunch walling survives on the south and north sides, on the south over a brick plinth. The new block's east front has four bays of sash windows. Internally that block retains some mid 18thcentury fireplaces and panelling, and a balustered staircase. (fn. 62) It was soon let by vicars dwelling elsewhere, (fn. 63) and by the 1820s inhabited by curates, (fn. 64) it was again occupied by vicars from the 1850s. (fn. 65) By the 1930s its size and the cost of maintenance deterred prospective incumbents. (fn. 66) It was finally sold in 1967. A new glebe house was bought after 1972 on a housing estate southeast of the churchyard. (fn. 67)

Of the vicars reported at both St. Cyriac's and St. Mary's from 1278, (fn. 68) some were local men. Incumbents were regularly recorded for both vicarages in the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 69) Both churches were sufficiently equipped, with 10-12 service books each, in the 1270s. (fn. 70) St. Cyriac's saw a rapid turnover of vicars in the late 14th century with seven incumbents between 1373 and 1403, (fn. 71) but in the early 15th both John Norton at St. Mary's, c. 1424-57, (fn. 72) and John Gotobed at St. Cyriac's, c. 1431-56, served for long periods. (fn. 73) Assistant clergy were not reported before the 1480s, (fn. 74) but parish priests for both churches were sometimes recorded from the 1490s to the 1520s. (fn. 75) A vicar of St. Cyriac's since 1497, the third legal graduate appointed in that decade, (fn. 76) also held St. Mary's in the 1510s. (fn. 77) A graduate vicar of St. Cyriac's was resident in 1528 and 1536, (fn. 78) but in the 1540s he and his colleague at St. Mary's both paid mostly transient curates to serve their parishes. (fn. 79)

No guilds were recorded in the village, (fn. 80) although in 1432 customary land was given for lights in the church. (fn. 81) In 1450 there was a single pair of 'reeves of church ornaments' managing the finances of both St. Cyriac's and St. Mary's churches. (fn. 82) In the early 16th century St. Cyriac's contained a tabernacle and light for St. James and an altar of St. Catherine. In 1517 a Reach man who was its parishioner left almost £50 to paint St. Cyriac's tabernacle and to buy for that church, besides a cope and vestment, a silver gilt monstrance and processional cross, both still there in 1552, when the cross weighed 5 lb. (fn. 83) As late as 1540 money was left for masses in St. Cyriac's, for its sepulchre light, and to buy it a psalter and antiphoner. (fn. 84) In 1552 St. Mary's had three copes and six sets of vestments, while St. Cyriac's had four sets, one gold-wrought. (fn. 85) The Crown then sold 7 a. given for brotherhoods, lights, or obits. (fn. 86)

In the mid 1560s the vicar of St. Cyriac's, in 1561 resident and qualified to preach, was serving St. Mary's as sequestrator. His colleague there, a pluralist, was non-resident in 1561. (fn. 87) Between 1567 and the 1590s St. Mary's was served by successive vicars, who in the 1570s did not always provide the required quarterly sermons, St. Cyriac's by the same curate as sequestrator. A new vicar was only named to it in 1592. (fn. 88) Besides working on the sabbath and holy days (fn. 89) and repeated absence from communion, (fn. 90) the churchwardens had occasion to report quarrelling in church, (fn. 91) gambling in service time, (fn. 92) and slandering women's reputations. (fn. 93) In the early 17th century some householders would not send their children to be catechized. (fn. 94) In 1609 the parish clerk was accused of parodying the minister singing the litany during Reach fair, even to wearing his gown. (fn. 95) In 1618 one vicar was not wearing his surplice at communion. (fn. 96)

Both vicars, who, having served since the early 1590s, were apparently still normally resident, (fn. 97) quitted their livings in 1618. (fn. 98) After a brief tenure of both livings by the same man, St. Mary's was mostly held until the 1630s by young clergymen starting their careers, including, 1625-9, the later dissenting divine Edmund Calamy. (fn. 99) The young Laudian, Richard Peacock, named to St. Cyriac's in 1639, normally preached and catechized once each Sunday and found like-minded clergy to supply his absences. The local puritans, however, in 1644 accused him of disaffection to Parliament and calling its supporters Roundheads, and of strictly observing 'innovated' ceremonies. Peacock had insisted on the cross in baptism, read communion at the altar even after the rails were pulled down, and preached wearing his surplice. Although ejected in 1644, he reappeared in 1647 to disturb the payment of tithe to Jonathan Jephcott, (fn. 100) vicar of St. Mary's since 1633 and a friend of the Rants, who had been named in 1645 to serve both parishes. The 'godly' Jephcott was allegedly invited back by his Swaffham parishioners after resigning because St. Mary's was poor. He joined the Cambridge Presbyterian classis in 1656 and served Swaffham diligently, preaching twice every Sunday, until 1660 when Peacock's temporary reinstatement made his income again inadequate. Jephcott was formally deprived in 1662. Although the union of the two benefices had been considered in 1657-8, (fn. 101) separate incumbents were presented in 1662-3. (fn. 102)

Following the union of 1667 the increased income resulted in long tenures: there were only four vicars between 1667 and 1848. Martin Hill, already curate at St. Mary's by 1663, served, apparently in person, until he died in 1712. (fn. 103) The beneficial lease of St. Mary's rectory remained with his heirs into the 1780s. (fn. 104) His successor, John Peter Allix, son of a refugee Huguenot divine, (fn. 105) vicar 1713-53, was partly non-resident after receiving Castle Camps rectory c. 1725, entirely after he became dean of Ely in 1730. In 1728, when there were 20-30 communicants, the curates whom Allix employed at Swaffham were holding two Sunday services and three or four sacraments yearly, (fn. 106) both practices continued into the 1830s. (fn. 107) Allix's last curate, William Collier, who succeeded him as vicar, 1753-87, (fn. 108) was resident in 1775, (fn. 109) but George Leonard Jenyns, vicar 1787-1848, did not reside after succeeding in 1796 to the Bottisham Hall estate. By 1830 he allowed his curates a third of the net vicarial income. One resident curate, serving 1820-37, who by 1825 had the children catechized at the new National school, claimed 40-50 communicants. (fn. 110) The Allixes' gamekeeper and village ratcatcher, also parish clerk, then kept order in church from the choir's gallery. (fn. 111)

Under the next vicar, resident like his successors, the average church attendance in 1851 was of 140-170, besides 70 Sunday-school children. (fn. 112) Thomas Preston, vicar 1856-97, in 1861 started harvest festival services, the first to be held in the district. By 1873 he was preaching twice every Sunday and had introduced monthly communions. He visited the whole parish regularly into the 1890s and held cottage lectures at the distant Upware hamlet near Wicken, and from the 1880s occasional missions. But, although the parish contained 450-550 churchpeople, more than enough to fill the 460 sittings in the new St. Cyriac's, barely 18-28 of c. 45-50 communicants attended on average. Preston was constantly discouraged by the difficulty of piercing the villagers' religious 'apathy'. (fn. 113) Swaffham Prior continued to have resident vicars into the 1980s: Preston's successor served until 1932 and only five more before 1988; the last two also held diocesan offices. (fn. 114) In the late 1970s, when one vicar annoyed traditionalist churchgoers by liturgical innovations, the congregation was described as tiny. (fn. 115) From 1988 the parish was served from Burwell. (fn. 116)

The two churches of ST. CYRIAC AND ST. JULITTA and ST. MARY, the second so named by the 1250s, (fn. 117) stand less than 100 ft. (30 m.) apart in a raised churchyard south-east of the south-western part of the village street. St. Cyriac's is on the crest, St. Mary's in a dip to its north, nearer that street. Until 1800 both of their fabrics were mostly late medieval. (fn. 118)

St. Mary's consisted c. 1800 of a chancel, aisled nave, and west tower with porch. The chancel has sections of 12th-century walling. On each side remain the rear arches of wide roundheaded, blocked, windows, and, lower down, by the modern chancel arch, half the splay, with perhaps original red-painted masonry lines, of one north window from an aisleless early 12thcentury nave. Beyond that nave's west wall there was added well before 1200 a massive tower, of fieldstones dressed with clunch ashlar. It opens to the nave through a tall round-headed arch, partly cut through the earlier wall, to which a smaller upper arched recess in the tower's east side also reaches. The tower's squarish base is converted by internal squinches to an octagon with windows with external colonnettes. Above it are two more sixteen-sided stages with alternating narrow windows, likewise round-headed. The whole suggests a primitive imitation of parts of Ely cathedral's westwork. Probably soon after, arches were hollowed into the tower's internal north and south walls, perhaps to accommodate altars before the aisles were built. On the tower's south side are also short incomplete ribs on 13th-century capitals and an apparent stone bench. (fn. 119) The chancel was rebuilt, possibly in the 14th century, in two bays with a high-pitched roof and a four-light east window. In the 15th century the nave received a lowpitched clerestory, eventually embattled, and aisles opening through four bays with surviving moulded arches, their capitals castellated like those of the clerestory shafts. The clerestory windows were almost uniformly of two lights beneath quatrefoils. A stone spire then erected above the west tower apparently had a castellated ring around its lower part and two tiers of lucarnes. A stair was inserted in the tower's north-west corner. The aisle doorways, from which one blocked arch survives on the north, had no porches. A vaulted porch, bearing the Tothills' arms, was built west of the tower. The roodscreen was in place and the roodstair door visible in 1744. Brasses of husbands and wives, formerly with children, then surviving and still extant after 1900, included those for John Tothill, the man armoured, of 1462, for Richard and William Water of Reach, in civil dress, of 1515 and 1521, and one anonymous couple; (fn. 120) Robert Chambers's brass of 1638 shows him three-quarter face, booted and cloaked, praying. Among later monuments was an ornate floor slab to Sir John Ellis (d. 1716).

St. Cyriac's, although apparently retaining c. 1800 a Norman arched doorway, possibly reset, to the south aisle, appeared in the 18th century to be mostly 13th-century and later. It was reconsecrated in 1346. (fn. 121) The aisled and clerestoried nave and two- or three-bayed chancel both had high-pitched roofs, and the chancel and aisle east windows probably intersecting tracery. The aisle and clerestory windows resembled those of St. Mary's. The nave arcade had in 1744 four piers to the north, only three to the south. The surviving west tower, for whose completion money was left in the 1490s, (fn. 122) is largely built of fieldstones. Designed to resemble St. Mary's, it has a tall square base, comprising two internal stages, buttressed; its three-light west window has an arched transom. The tower slopes back to a high upper octagonal stage, whose faces with their tall two-light windows are separated by buttresses rising from corbels carved with angels and grotesque heads. The top was completed, provisionally, with tracery panels filled with knapped flint. A narrower stair turret rises on the north side. In 1744 the church retained its roodscreen and stair, but, as at St. Mary's, no altar rails. There were numerous 17th- and early 18th-century floorslabs to the Rants and other substantial villagers. Those which survived in 1900 have been reset on the walls in the rebuilt St. Mary's.

From the 1560s, when St. Mary's windows were in decay, the villagers repeatedly complained of the bishop's lessee failing to maintain its chancel, (fn. 123) but themselves often refused to pay church rates. (fn. 124) St. Cyriac's chancel was also in decay by the 1590s. (fn. 125) Early in 1644 William Dowsing destroyed many 'superstitious' windows, including 20 'cherubims', and broke down the altar rails and steps. (fn. 126) The Act of 1667 provided that both churches should continue in use, being maintained by the rates of their own ancient parishes, each appointing its own churchwardens. (fn. 127) About 1743 St. Cyriac's nave and chancel were refitted, though St. Mary's chancel was then ill kept. (fn. 128) Separate pairs of churchwardens were elected into the mid 1750s, but only two for the whole village by 1760: probably St. Cyriac's was no longer regularly maintained, the parish considering two churches too expensive to keep up. (fn. 129) In 1783 St. Cyriac's was dilapidated, and all services were held in St. Mary's. (fn. 130) By the 1790s St. Cyriac's roof was collapsing, its walls ivy-grown. (fn. 131)

St. Mary's tower, struck by lightning in 1779, was bulging by 1783. (fn. 132) In 1802 a crack in its facing near the spire base persuaded the vestry, on an architect's advice and despite the intercession of the resident gentry, to have the spire taken down as dangerous. Local builders, clumsily battering down the masonry later that year, left the tower top shattered and the porch vault broken. (fn. 133) In 1805 the vestry, describing the body of St. Mary's as ruinous, resolved, as had been suggested in 1802, to abandon it and obtained a faculty to demolish all the ruined St. Cyriac's but its tower, and build a new church attached to that. Work, eventually costing over £3,100, to designs by Charles Humfrey of Cambridge was begun in 1806. (fn. 134) The church was consecrated in 1809. (fn. 135) The new church, (fn. 136) of grey brick dressed with stone and slated, has a square central body with projecting chancel and transepts, symmetrically balancing the tower, all buttressed and embattled. The windows have minimal three- and four-light Gothic tracery, at the back in wood. Inside, four central wooden piers delimiting a nave support a flat plaster ceiling. Their matching stone responds may reuse stonework from the older fabric. An early 19thcentury wooden gallery survives across the reconstructed tower arch. The complete demolition of St. Mary's, roofless after its lead was sold to meet building costs, was approved in 1805, but, after the south aisle and south clerestory had been taken down, Mrs. Sarah Allix bought the ruins for preservation as a railed-off family burial place. (fn. 137)

Although the new St. Cyriac's was regularly maintained by unopposed church rates into the 1870s, (fn. 138) well before 1850 its style was despised as 'Carpenter's Gothic'. (fn. 139) In the 1870s C. P. Allix proposed the restoration of St. Mary's as the parish church, obtaining a faculty to do so in 1878. Work, to designs by A. W. Blomfield, began that year with the chancel, and was completed with a vestry and organ chamber to its north and the south aisle east end in 1879. The Allixes furnished over £1,600 of c. £2,000 raised (fn. 140) and invested an unspent balance until C. P. Allix sponsored the nave rebuilding, costing c. £4,000, also to Sir Arthur Blomfield's designs, in 1900-1. Within a year, by late 1902, its clerestory and outer aisle walls had been almost entirely reconstructed with walling in flat-coursed rubble, and the whole was reroofed. The completed St. Mary's, then reopened, was formally appointed the sole parish church in 1903. All the new work resembled without definitely copying the medieval designs. (fn. 141) Monuments removed to St. Cyriac's after 1806 were returned, and 19th-century Allix memorial windows brought from there. The surviving square 13th-century font was reinstated in the tower in 1903, when C. P. Allix gave a new oak roodscreen, the new rood above which was renewed in oak in 1907. (fn. 142) C. P. Allix also gave uniformly framed new glass for all the aisle windows; those on the north side, First World War memorials, depict tanks, biplanes, Zeppelins, and U-boats. (fn. 143) The fractured tower top was left unrepaired until 1964, when it was finished with a parapet of close-set arcading over contemporary gargoyles. A slim steel-covered wooden spike, serving as a spire, was installed above it in 1965. (fn. 144) The west porch was reroofed in 1981. (fn. 145) An organ, which in 1866 had succeeded a long-serving barrel organ at St. Cyriac's, (fn. 146) was in use at St. Mary's from 1902 until replaced in 1974 with an electric one. (fn. 147)

Swaffham Prior's Churches c.1806

By the 1960s the walls of St. Cyriac's, left in its turn to decay, were again ivy-grown and its ceiling collapsing. (fn. 148) The medieval tower was, however, restored, 1959-60, (fn. 149) and in 1974 the Redundant Churches Fund spent £10,000 on putting the 19th-century building into good repair. (fn. 150) Thereafter it was occasionally used for exhibitions and concerts. (fn. 151) Effectively, of the two medieval churches there survived in the 1990s St. Cyriac's tower, and at St. Mary's the tower, porch, nave arcades, and some chancel walling.

In 1552 each church had two silver gilt chalices. (fn. 152) The existing plate includes a late 16thcentury cup and paten from St. Cyriac, a pewter flagon from St. Mary's, which then had no cup, and a cup and two patens given in 1842 by the vicar. (fn. 153) In 1552 and 1744 each church had three bells. (fn. 154) They were recast in 1791 as a peal of six, hung in St. Cyriac's tower, retained as the belfry in the late 20th century. The 1791 bell-frame was restored 1990-1. (fn. 155) St. Cyriac's tower also houses a clock, originally installed in St. Mary's by the 1730s, whose late 17th-century works are preserved. (fn. 156) St. Mary's 17th-century church chest was stolen in 1974. (fn. 157)

The churchyard was closed to burials in 1899. In 1897 the parish acquired 2¾ a. to its south for a burial ground, in use from 1898, (fn. 158) in which the visionary poet Edwin Muir (1887-1959), who dwelt at Priory Cottage from 1956, is buried. (fn. 159) In 1929 C. I. L. Allix gave the site of the demolished former school immediately to the north-east to open the view of the churches from the street. (fn. 160) Separate registers for St. Cyriac's and St. Mary's are extant between 1559 and the late 1650s, (fn. 161) after which combined ones, started during the Interregnum, were continued following the formal union of the benefices. (fn. 162)


  • 1. Val. of Norwich, ed. Lunt, 215, 535.
  • 2. Ibid.; B.L. Eg. MS. 3047, f. 194v.; cf. Cal. Pat. 1396-9, 284; Butler, Lives of the Saints (1956 edn.), ii. 552-3.
  • 3. Cf. Ric. of Cirencester, Speculum Historiale, ed. J.E.B. Major (Rolls Ser.), ii. 185.
  • 4. Below, ch. bldg.
  • 5. Hailstone, Bottisham (C.A.S. 8vo ser. xiv), 209-10. Names of abp.'s commrs. correct for 1310s, but those used for manors, corrupted versions of late 15th-cent. ones; presumably 15th-cent. or later summary.
  • 6. C.U.L., E.D.C., 7/12/7, ct. roll 7 Eliz. I; P.R.O., E 134/20 Chas. II/East. 25, interr. for def. 5, and deposns. thereto.
  • 7. Cf. P.R.O., E 40/14297 (explained below).
  • 8. P.R.O., E 134/20 Chas. II/East. 25, interr. for def. 3, and deposns. thereto.
  • 9. Based on C.R.O., St. Mary's and St. Cyriac's, par. reg. transcripts, baptisms, 1569-1644.
  • 10. Cur. Reg. R. xi, pp. 98, 186, 204; xii, p. 25.
  • 11. B.L. Eg. MS. 3047, f. 194v.
  • 12. e.g. Cal. Close, 1364-8, 53, 414-5; 1374-7, 108; P.R.O., CP 25/1/289/85, no. 165. Not recorded after 1400.
  • 13. P.R.O., CP 25/1/24/20, no. 15.
  • 14. B.L. Add. MS. 5819, f. lv.; cf. Cal. Papal Reg. i. 323; E.D.R. (1897), 59.
  • 15. e.g. Cal. Pat. 1292-1301, 414;; E.D.R. (1897), 47; (1898), 56, 90; (1905), 195; (1909), 27, 61; (1911), 88; cf. V.C.H. Cambs. ii. 208-9.
  • 16. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvi, p. 575; C.U.L., CC 137712, m. 15; P.R.O., IND 17002, p. 35; IND 17005, f. 78; cf. P.R.O., CP 25/1/25/30, no. 18.
  • 17. Vetus Liber Arch. Elien. (C.A.S. 8vo ser. xlviii), 46.
  • 18. e.g. C.U.L., E.D.R., H 1/Sm. Pr. St. Cyriac's 1638; ibid. E.D.C., 1c/3, ff. 7, 19; Lamb. Pal. MS. COMM. XIIa/7, ff. 124, 130; cf. C.R.O., P 150/3/2, p. 6.
  • 19. e.g. C.U.L., E.D.C., 7/12/5: 31 Edw. III; ibid. 7/12, bailiff's acct. 6-7 Hen. V.
  • 20. Val. of Norwich, ed. Lunt, 215; Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 267; Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 211; cf. below, Wicken, church.
  • 21. P.R.O., CP 25/1/25/28, no. 4; Hailstone, Bottisham, 205-6.
  • 22. Hailstone, Bottisham, 206-7.
  • 23. e.g. E.D.R. (1898), 19; (1911), 20; (1913), 210, 309; P.R.O., IND 17002, p. 32.
  • 24. e.g. Cal. Pat. 1281-92, 353; Ely Episc. Rec. ed. Gibbons, 445-6, 458.
  • 25. e.g. E.D.R. (1890), 428; P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/264, rot. 1d.
  • 26. Cal. Pat. 1560-3, 224-5.
  • 27. e.g. P.R.O., E 310/9/13, no. 33; B.L. Add. MS. 5846, f. 73; cf. above, manors (Anglesey).
  • 28. P.R.O., E 40/14297; cf. B.L. Add. MS. 3047, f. 194v.
  • 29. C.U.L., E.D.R., H 1/Sm. Pr. St. Mary's 1638; ibid. E.D.C. 7/12, bailiff's acct. 6-7 Hen. V; P.R.O., E 40/14297; ibid. SC 6/Hen. VIII/264, rot. 2; cf. E.D.R. (1909), 86.
  • 30. e.g. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 267; Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 211.
  • 31. Val. of Norwich, ed. Lunt, 215, 538.
  • 32. Vetus Liber Arch. Elien. (C.A.S. 8vo ser. xlviii), 46.
  • 33. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 504-5.
  • 34. P.R.O., C 1/961, no. 23.
  • 35. Lamb. Pal. MS. COMM. XIIa/20, no. 2; cf. ibid. XIIa/3, f. 256; XIIa/7, f. 130.
  • 36. e.g. C.U.L., E.D.R., D 2/10, f. 127; ibid. B 2/12, f. 131v.; ibid. H 1/Sm. Pr. St. Mary's 1615, 1638; cf. ibid. E.D.C., 7/12/6: 19 Hen. VI; P.R.O., PROB 11/136, f. 88v.
  • 37. P.R.O., E 40/14297; cf. above, manors (Anglesey).
  • 38. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/4, p. 117; B 2/13, f. 4.
  • 39. P.R.O., E 179/84/437, rot. 78.
  • 40. C.U.L., E.D.C., 7/12/6: 35-6 Hen. VI.
  • 41. Ibid. 7/12/7: 8 Eliz. I; P.R.O., PROB 11/136, f. 88v.
  • 42. e.g. P.R.O., PROB 11/6, f. 2; PROB 11/9, ff. 80v., 168; PROB 11/25, f. 283v.; B.L. Add. MS. 5861, ff. 14, 50, 68v., 85v., 95v., 116v.; cf. ibid. Eg. MS. 3047, f. 196v.
  • 43. Above, manors (Knights); cf. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/16, f. 72v.; B 2/32A, f. 7; B 2/32, ff. 6v., 30v., 98.
  • 44. C.R.O., P 150/3/2, pp. 1-2; L.J. xii. 60, 67, 69, 74, 109-10.
  • 45. Swaffham Prior Rectories Act, 19 Chas. II, c. 8 (Priv. Act): copy: C.R.O., P 150/3/1.
  • 46. e.g. P.R.O., IND 17008, pp. 150, 449; Clerical Guide (1822), 165; Crockford (1896 and late edns. to 1955-6).
  • 47. C.R.O., P 150/3/24; cf. V.C.H. Cambs. viii. 225.
  • 48. Swaffham Prior Rectories Act.
  • 49. C.R.O., P 150/3/2, p. 4; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1661-2, p. 131; D.N.B. vii. 913-15; cf. above, intro. (boundaries); for Marsh, above, Swaffham Bulbeck, manors (Michell Hall).
  • 50. C.R.O., P 150/3/2, p. 3.
  • 51. Details, ibid. pp. 6-8; cf. ibid. P 150/3/5-6 (tithe accts. 1760s-1790s).
  • 52. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 8/1, f. 30.
  • 53. C.R.O., P 150/3/6B.
  • 54. Swaffham Prior Incl. Act, 45 Geo. III, c. 97 (Private, not printed), pp. 10-13; C.R.O., Q/RDz 7, pp. 375-87.
  • 55. Glebe Returns, 1887, 42.
  • 56. Church Com. files 80101, corr. 1901-4, 1918-21; 62590, corr. 1919-20; Crockford (1907); C.R.O., P 150/3/8; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1904, 1925).
  • 57. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, 352-3.
  • 58. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/24; C 3/31; C 3/39; Church Com. file NB 14/224B, return 1887; cf. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1858-1900).
  • 59. C.R.O., P 150/3/1; P 150/3/2, p. 5; P.R.O., E 179/244/23, rot. 70.
  • 60. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 8/1, f. 30.
  • 61. B.L. Add. MS. 5807, f. 14v. Fate of Hill's house uncertain. Sometimes identified, e.g. Camb. Ind. Press, 17 Feb. 1961, with Anglesey House; but cf. above, manors (Anglesey).
  • 62. Described, R.C.H.M. Cambs. ii. 123.
  • 63. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, p. 17; Eng. Topog. ii. 93.
  • 64. e.g. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/6; C 3/21.
  • 65. e.g. P.R.O., HO 107/1762, f. 219; ibid. RG 9/1033, f. 55; RG 11/1678, f. 43.
  • 66. Church Com. file 62590, corr. 1939.
  • 67. C.R.O., P 150/3/19, 21, 23; Church Com. file 608589; cf. Camb. Evening News, 19 Aug. 1983.
  • 68. Vetus Liber Arch. Elien. (C.A.S. 8vo ser. xlviii), 46; cf. B.L. Eg. MS. 3047, f. 194v.
  • 69. Incumbents from 1250s listed for both churches, E.D.R. (1904), 217. The two presentations to St. Mary's recorded before 1500 (Cal. Pat. 1281-92, 353; E.D.R. 1895), 19) can be supplemented from ct. rolls and other sources: e.g. C.U.L., E.D.C., 7/12/4: 14 Edw. II; 7/12/5: 39 Edw. III; B.L. Add. MS. 5842, f. 4; E.D.R. (1899), 158; (1909), 86.
  • 70. Vetus Liber Arch. Elien. 46-7.
  • 71. e.g. E.D.R. (1896), 14, 47; (1897), 215; (1898), 56, 90, 143.
  • 72. C.U.L., E.D.C., 7/12/6: 2, 35 Hen. VI.
  • 73. Ibid.: 9, 19, 24, 29, 35 Hen. VI; cf. Cal. Pat. 1429-36, 387; 1452-61, 261; E.D.R. (1904), 234.
  • 74. e.g. none mentioned, 1379: East Anglian, N.S. xiii. 154; one implied, 1489: E.D.R. (1909), 170.
  • 75. e.g. P.R.O., PROB 11/9, ff. 80v, 169v. (ibid. f. 168 refers to a vicar); B.L. Add. MS. 5861, ff. 62v., 69, 85v., 102, 109.
  • 76. E.D.R. (1909), 27, 61; cf. Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Camb. 222, 349, 564.
  • 77. E.D.R. (1911), 20.
  • 78. Ibid. (1911), 88; cf. B.L. Add. MS. 5861, f. 209v.; P.R.O., PROB 11/25, f. 284v.
  • 79. E.D.R. (1912), 184, 224; (1913), 41; cf. B.L. Add. MS. 5861, ff. 14, 15v., 21v., 35.
  • 80. But see above, Reach, chapel.
  • 81. C.U.L., E.D.C., 7/12/6: 11 Hen. VI.
  • 82. Ibid.: 29 Hen. VI.
  • 83. B.L. Add. MS. 5861, ff. 62v., 109; P.R.O., PROB 11/25, f. 283v.; cf. Cambs. Ch. Goods, temp. Edw. VI, 21.
  • 84. B.L. Add. MS 5861, f. 50; cf. E.D.R. (1912), 55.
  • 85. Cambs. Ch. Goods, temp. Edw. VI, 21-2.
  • 86. Cal. Pat. 1550-3, 449, 451.
  • 87. B.L. Add. MS. 5813, f: 84; C.U.L., E.D.C., 7/12/7: 8 Eliz. I.
  • 88. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/6, pp. 44, 46, 143; B 2/8, pp. 11, 108, 167; B 2/11, f. 7v.; ibid. D 2/10, ff. 5v., 62v.; cf. Ely Episc. Rec. ed. Gibbons, 445-6, 448, 458.
  • 89. e.g. C.U.L., E.D.R., D 2/10, ff. 12, 219; B 2/13, ff. 104v., 105v.; B 2/18, f. 139; B 2/36, ff. 154, 157v.
  • 90. Ibid. D 2/10, ff. 79v., 214; B 2/11, f. 144; B 2/12, f. 124.
  • 91. Ibid. D 2/10, f. 124v.; B 2/18, f. 182v.
  • 92. Ibid. B 2/13, f. 104v.
  • 93. Ibid. B 2/32, f. 72.
  • 94. Ibid. B 2/36, f. 157v.; B 2/32, f. 62v.
  • 95. Ibid. B 2/18, f. 143.
  • 96. Ibid. B 2/36, f. 157v.
  • 97. Ibid. B 2/18, f. 72v.; B 2/23, f. 7v.; B 2/30A, f. 7; B 2/32, f. 6v.; Ely Episc. Rec. ed. Gibbons, 452, 458.
  • 98. Alum. Cantab. to 1751, i. 96; iv. 239.
  • 99. P.R.O., IND 17002, p. 35; cf. Alum. Cantab. to 1751, i. 173, 281; iv. 386.
  • 100. B.L. Add. MS. 15672, ff. 4v.-7; Add. MS. 15671, ff. 155v.-156.
  • 101. Lamb. Pal. MS. COMM. XIIa/3, ff. 255-6; XIIa/20, no. 2; Calamy Revised, ed. A.G. Matthews, 298; E. Calamy, Nonconformists' Memorial, ed. S. Palmer (1802-3), i. 317-21; P.R.O., PROB 11/304, f. 282v.; ibid. E 134/20 Chas. II/East. 25, m. 5; C.R.O., VC 29, f. 187v. Notes from Jephcott's papers: East Anglian, N.S. vi. 362; cf. ibid. N.S. x. 309-10, 360-1.
  • 102. B.L. Add. MS. 5807, f. 18v.
  • 103. C.R.O., P 150/3/2, p. 1; P 150/3/3; C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/58, f. 7; B 2/67, ff. 25v., 55, 82; B 2/72, f. 24; Alum. Cantab. to 1751, ii. 372.
  • 104. C.U.L., CC 95587, s.a. 1787.
  • 105. Proc. C.A.S. xiii. 224-34.
  • 106. Alum. Cantab. to 1751, i. 22; C.U.L., E.D.R., B 8/1, f. 30; B.L. Add. MS. 5807, f. 14v.; cf. the dean's corr. of 1730s-40s dated from Castle Camps in C.U.L., E.D.C., 6/4/2-6.
  • 107. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/1; C 1/6; C 3/21.
  • 108. C.R.O., P 150/3/4; Alum. Cantab. to 1751, i. 372.
  • 109. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/1.
  • 110. Ibid. C 1/6; C 3/21; Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, 352-3; Alum. Cantab. 1752-1900, iii. 567, 569; E.D.R. (1903), 215.
  • 111. M.G. Witt, notes on par. hist. (in Cambs. Colln.), p. 60.
  • 112. P.R.O., HO 129/189, f. 21; Gardner's Dir. Cambs. (1951); Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1858-1937).
  • 113. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/24; C 3/31; C 3/39; Camb. Chron. 30 Nov. 1856, p. 8; 16 Oct. 1858, p. 5; 5 Oct. 1861, p. 8; 8 Oct. 1864, p. 5; 24 Feb. 1884, p. 4; 7 Apr. 1884, p. 4; 5 Nov. 1897, p. 4.
  • 114. Crockford (1907 and later edns. to 1981-2); cf. Camb. News, 5 Aug. 1966; Newmarket Jnl. 21 July 1988.
  • 115. Camb. Evening News, 13 July 1977; 4, 11-12 July, 1 Aug. 1978.
  • 116. Crockford (1991-2).
  • 117. Val. of Norwich, ed. Lunt, 215; P.R.O., CP 25/1/25/28, no. 4.
  • 118. For their fabric and contents before 19th-cent. rebuilding, Blomefield, Collect. Cantab. 177-82; Palmer, Wm. Cole, 114-5, and Mon. Inscr. Cambs. 162-4 (for 1744, from B.L. Add. MS. 5807, ff. 14-18); B.L. Add. MS. 6753, f. 230 (for 1796); Eccl. Top. Eng. vi. nos. 165-6, describing surviving medieval parts c. 1850, wrongly names St. Mary's St. Cyriac's and vice versa. Illus.: Palmer, Wm. Cole, 159 (from N.); plates in The Itinerant, Cambs. (1801) and Lysons, Magna Britannia (1808), repr. R.C.H.M. Cambs. pl. 35, and on dust jacket (from SW.) reproduced here, fig. 5; and in Gent. Mag. lxxxv (2), opp. p. 297 (from SE.) may not be reliable.
  • 119. Interior shown, plate 5.
  • 120. Possibly John Ellis, of 1532: Mon. Inscr. Cambs. 240.
  • 121. Blomefield, Collect. Cantab. 181; E.D.R. (1894), 181.
  • 122. Blomefield, Collect. Cantab. 181.
  • 123. e.g. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/4, p. 118; D 2/10, f. 150v.; B 2/18, f. 73v.
  • 124. e.g. ibid. D 2/10, ff. 126v., 209 and v.; B 2/17, f. 90v.; B 2/18, f. 202; B 2/36, f. 155.
  • 125. Ibid. B 2/12, f. 39; B 2/28, f. 139.
  • 126. Trans. C.H.A.S. iii. 83: called 'Little Swaffham', but Swaffham Bulbeck mentioned separately.
  • 127. C.R.O., P 150/3/1.
  • 128. Palmer, Wm. Cole, 114.
  • 129. C.R.O., P 150/8/10, 11 (par. acct. and vestry bks. 1721-59-71); C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/1.
  • 130. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, p. 17.
  • 131. Cf. R.C.H.M. Cambs. ii, plate 35.
  • 132. Camb. Chron. 31 July, 1779, p. 3; C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, p. 17.
  • 133. Eng, Topog. ii. 92-3; C.R.O., P 150/6/2 (papers on rebldg. 1802); Camb. Chron. 20 Feb. 1802, p. 3.
  • 134. C.U.L., E.D.R., D 3/2, pp. 14-17; C.R.O., P 150/5/2, s.a. 1805, 1811; Camb. Chron. 13 Mar. 1802, p. 3; 17 May 1806, p. 1; 31 May 1806, p. 3.
  • 135. Cf. Camb. Chron. 20 Mar. 1812, p. 4; 24 July 1812, p. 3; 18 July 1866, p. 8.
  • 136. Described, R.C.H.M. Cambs. ii. 119-20; cf. Church Com. file 51011, survey 1876.
  • 137. C.U.L., E.D.R,, D 3/2, p. 14; Proc. C.A.S. x. 275; cf. Gardner's Dir. Cambs. (1851), 226-7 (misnamed St. Cyriac's). St. Mary's half-ruined state illus. in Restoration Appeal, 1901: copy in Church Com. file 51011.
  • 138. Camb. Chron. 29 Apr. 1865, p. 5; 27 Apr. 1867, p. 8; 18 July 1868, p. 8; Church Com. file 51011, papers 1875 sqq.
  • 139. Eng. Topog. ii. 93; Eccl. Top. Eng. vi, no. 165; but cf. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1858-75).
  • 140. C.R.O., P 150/6/3; Church Com. file 51011, corr. 1875-9, incl. Appeal Feb. 1878; Camb. Chron. 13 Apr. 1878, p. 7; 4 May 1878, p. 8; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1883-8); C.R.O., P 150/3/3 (restoration accts.), pp. 72-89.
  • 141. Proc. C.A.S. x. 276; Camb. Chron. 9 June 1899, p. 4; E.D.R. (1900), 30, 231-2; (1901), 199, 220; (1902), 15, 137, 160, 216; (1903), 175; C.R.O., P 150/3/3, pp. 119-49; P 150/ 3/4; Church Com. file 51011, corr. 1900-3, incl. Appeal 1901.
  • 142. E.D.R. (1901), 220; (1903), 86; (1906), 168; (1907), 133; C.R.O., P 150/3/3, pp. 150-88; cf. Camb. Chron. 18 July 1868, p. 8.
  • 143. e.g. E.D.R. (1909), 112; (1911), 165; (1914), 360-1.
  • 144. East Anglian Mag. xxiii (1964), 167-9; Camb. News, 29 Oct. 1963; Daily Telegraph, 6 Jan. 1964; Guardian, 14 Sept. 1964; Camb. News, 16 Dec. 1964; 4 Feb. 1965.
  • 145. Camb. Evening News, 19 June, 20 Nov. 1981.
  • 146. Camb. Chron. 16 June 1866, p. 8.
  • 147. C.R.O., P 150/3/3, pp. 147, 189; Camb. Evening News, 2 Nov. 1974.
  • 148. R.C.H.M. Cambs. ii, plates 34, 66-7.
  • 149. Camb. News, 27 Jan. 1960.
  • 150. Camb. Evening News, 14 July 1971; 9 Mar. 1973; 19 Feb., 19 July 1974.
  • 151. e.g. ibid. 3 Aug. 1984.
  • 152. Cambs. Ch. Goods, temp. Edw. VI, 21-2.
  • 153. MS. list of ch. plate, in possession of V.C.H.; R.C.H.M. Cambs. ii. 119; C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/59, pp. 20-1; Camb. Chron. 10 Dec. 1842, p. 2.
  • 154. Cambs. Ch. Goods, temp. Edw. VI, 21-2; Palmer, Wm. Cole, 114.
  • 155. Cambs. Bells (C.A.S. 8vo ser. xviii), 169-70; Camb. Chron. 5 Nov. 1791, p. 3; 14 Dec. 1805, p. 3; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1858 and later edns.); Camb Evening News, 26 Mar. 1976; 26 June 1990; 20 Jan. 1992.
  • 156. Blomefield, Collect. Cantab. 178; R.C.H.M. Cambs. ii. 120; cf. E.D.R. (1909), 9; R.A.J. Nixseman, The Clock that changed Hands (1956), 29-32.
  • 157. Camb. Evening News, 11 Feb. 1974.
  • 158. C.R.O., P 150/6/6; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1904); Camb. Chron. 7 May 1897, p. 8; 19 Nov. 1897, p. 8.
  • 159. D.N.B. 1951-60, s.n.; P.H. Butter, Edwin Muir, Man and Poet (1966), 277-9, 289, 295-300.
  • 160. C.R.O., P 150/6/7; cf. below, educ.
  • 161. C.R.O., P 150/1/1-2.
  • 162. Ibid. P 150/1/3-8.