Madingley: Church

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.

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'Madingley: Church', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds, ed. A P M Wright, C P Lewis( London, 1989), British History Online [accessed 21 July 2024].

'Madingley: Church', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Edited by A P M Wright, C P Lewis( London, 1989), British History Online, accessed July 21, 2024,

"Madingley: Church". A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Ed. A P M Wright, C P Lewis(London, 1989), , British History Online. Web. 21 July 2024.


About 1090 Picot the sheriff gave Madingley church with all its lands and tithes to his newly founded priory, soon removed to Barnwell, to which his successor Pain Peverel and the bishop of Lincoln shortly confirmed it. (fn. 1) The church had been appropriated to the priory by the mid 13th century, and was thereafter a vicarage, (fn. 2) whose advowson remained with the impropriate rectory. It was exercised by Barnwell priory until its dissolution, (fn. 3) then by the Crown (fn. 4) until the rectory and patronage were both included in the exchange of impropriations for manors which Elizabeth I forced upon Bishop Heton in 1600. (fn. 5) Thereafter vicars were collated by the bishops of Ely, who regularly reserved the patronage when leasing the rectory and still collated in the 1970s. (fn. 6)

The church was taxed in the early 13th century at £10, (fn. 7) and by 1276 at £20. (fn. 8) The rectorial portion came to £11 6s. 8d. in 1291. (fn. 9) The rectorial glebe and tithes, usually on lease by 1500 to local men such as the Leyntons and Bushes, (fn. 10) were in 1525 let for 99 years to John Hinde, (fn. 11) and remained with the manorial estate thereafter until the 19th century. (fn. 12) From 1600 (fn. 13) the Hindes and the Cottons held the rectory under successive leases at the old rent, (fn. 14) at first for 21-year terms but by the 1740s for terms of three lives. The last life, under a lease granted in 1812, did not fall in until 1885. (fn. 15) Only then could the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (fn. 16) take possession.

The rectory farm, on the site of which there remained by 1650 only a cottage and the tithe barn, (fn. 17) was still distinct in 1646 and 1728. (fn. 18) Later its lands were absorbed into the Cotton estate whose tenant farmers had the tithes included in their rents. (fn. 19) The 9 a. north of the village set out at inclosure as rectorial glebe were sold by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to Henry Hurrell in 1885. Of the £400 tithe rent charge allotted to the bishop in 1842 £275 were extinguished by merger in 1919. (fn. 20)

The vicarage was endowed originally with the small tithes and a glebe reckoned until the 18th century as 12 a. (fn. 21) A pension of 53s. 4d. due by 1500 out of the rectory (fn. 22) was represented in 1728 by £3 paid from the Exchequer. (fn. 23) The living was therefore of small value in the Middle Ages, being taxed in 1291 at only £4, (fn. 24) and yielding only £6 9s. 8d. in 1535 (fn. 25) and £16 in 1650. (fn. 26) Probably after 1660 the bishops assigned to the vicar an augmentation payable by the rectory lessees, originally of £6, and totalling £24 by 1728, (fn. 27) when the vicar also had £17 for the small tithes. (fn. 28) The ancient vicarial glebe was transferred to Sir John Hinde Cotton c. 1745 in exchange for 13 a. elsewhere in the open fields, (fn. 29) for which in turn 9 a. at the north end of the village street were given at inclosure. (fn. 30) In practice in the early 19th century glebe and tithes were let together by the vicar to the Cottons, who sublet the land to the tenant of Church farm and presumably received the tithes with the tenants' rent, none being paid in kind. (fn. 31) The vicarial tithes were commuted in 1842 for a rent charge of £75. (fn. 32) Of the vicarial glebe 1½ a. was sold in 1900, the rest between 1937 and 1942. (fn. 33) The vicar's income, £125 gross in 1863, (fn. 34) was raised to £220 by an augmentation in 1875 of £90 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 35) It fell again below £150 from the 1880s, so that the vicar was supported largely by his private means. (fn. 36) In 1915 Col. Harding gave £250 towards a further augmentation. (fn. 37)

The original vicarage house, which had two hearths in 1674, (fn. 38) stood in a 1/2-a. close near the church, surrounded in the 18th century by the park. (fn. 39) After 1783 it was exchanged for a house east of the street, (fn. 40) a mere cottage let to labourers or tenant farmers. (fn. 41) That in turn was exchanged with Henry Hurrell in 1876 for a new site south of the Cambridge road, upon which a substantial house, with a parish room attached, was built in 1877-8. (fn. 42) It remained the vicar's residence until the 1970s. (fn. 43)

Vicars were occasionally recorded from the 1260s. (fn. 44) John Collyn, probably of a local family, (fn. 45) held the living while a fellow of the King's Hall, Cambridge, from 1462 to his death in 1492. He left a Bible and other books to his successor as vicar. (fn. 46) One early 16th-century vicar sometimes resided, but William Sowode, 1526-41, master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, employed curates. (fn. 47) There were three guilds by 1505, in honour of St. Mary, St. Catherine, and perhaps St. Michael. One had a guild hall in 1528. William Leynton (d. 1521) left the profits of 12 a. to the church reeves to support an obit and alms. (fn. 48)

The first royal nominee in 1541 (fn. 49) apparently resided until the early 1550s, (fn. 50) but between 1560 and 1580 the vicarage was often left vacant or served only by curates, even clergy presented by the Crown not troubling to obtain institution. (fn. 51) One unlicensed curate in 1579 ascribed his failure to read weekday services or catechize the young to ignorance. (fn. 52) Although there was again a succession of vicars from 1581, few held the living for long. (fn. 53) In 1580 a curate did not wear his surplice. (fn. 54) About 1595 parishioners were dancing and playing ball in the churchyard. (fn. 55) Vicars collated by the bishop after 1600 held Madingley only for 3-7 years each, often in plurality and with Cambridge fellowships, before moving to better livings, (fn. 56) save for William Rannew, who served through the Interregnum from 1628 to his death in 1663. (fn. 57) He continued to wear his surplice until soldiers took it away, taking also the communion rails and having the communion table moved into the nave; it was still there in 1662, when Rannew preached every Sunday. (fn. 58)

From the 1660s Madingley was almost continuously held by non-resident vicars, who usually combined it with fellowships of Cambridge colleges and until 1730 seldom served for more than 10 years; following two 20-year incumbencies, both in plurality, shorter terms recurred between 1772 and 1807. (fn. 59) William Frend, appointed in 1783, served Madingley diligently, but resigned in 1787 when he became a Unitarian. (fn. 60) Incumbents habitually lived in college, going out on Sundays to hold the two services normally performed in 1728, 1807, and 1825. Throughout the period c. 20 people attended the three or four yearly communions. In the early 19th century the vicar usually preached once each Sunday. (fn. 61) T. W. Hornbuckle, vicar 1807- 37, employed a curate from Trumpington to do the whole duty from 1829. The number of communicants had then fallen to 14. (fn. 62) Between 1837 and 1865 there were eight vicars, all nonresident, (fn. 63) including, however, the diligent High Churchman James Atlany, 1848-52, later vicar of Leeds and bishop of Hereford. (fn. 64) In 1851 he had an afternoon congregation of 80 adults, almost filling the church. (fn. 65) Robert Mackray, 1862-5, was later first primate of Canada. (fn. 66)

J. C. Williams Ellis, 1865-77, had the church restored and planned the new vicarage, which at last enabled Madingley to have a resident clergyman. (fn. 67) The Old Testament scholar, E. G. King, 1877-89, held monthly communions for 20 communicants in 1877 and up to 30 by 1885, and claimed virtually the whole population as church people. (fn. 68) In 1897 there were 54 communicants and some 90 regular adult churchgoers, but c. 40 others seldom worshipped anywhere. T. A. Lacey, the High Church vicar presented in 1894, (fn. 69) introduced ceremonies such as elevating the sacrament which alienated the squire, Henry Hurrell, whose family deserted Madingley church. Some villagers followed their example, while the vicar's supporters were threatened with eviction. When in 1897 Lacey installed a new stone altar, he was obliged, after a lawsuit promoted by H. W. Hurrell, to remove it and abandon a projected rood screen. (fn. 70) Lacey resigned in 1903. Madingley continued to have resident vicars until 1980. From 1980 it was served by a priest-in-charge. (fn. 71)

The church of ST. MARY, so named by 1313 (fn. 72) though c. 1521 styled of the Assumption, (fn. 73) comprises a chancel, nave with north aisle and porches, and west tower, and is built of field stones dressed in ashlar, much plastered and cemented. (fn. 74) The square 12th-century bowl of the font, crudely carved with abstract patterns, presumably comes from an earlier building. It was probably removed to the Hall in 1779 (fn. 75) but returned by Henry Hurrell c. 1875. (fn. 76) The existing fabric was gradually rebuilt from east to west in the 13th and early 14th century. The chancel, as it survived in 1744, was of three bays with lancet side windows, three of whose rear arches remain. (fn. 77) In the early 14th century a window with reticulated tracery was inserted in the south-west corner. The nave retains its 13thcentury south wall and at its east end one early 14th-century window, perhaps inserted when plans to add a south aisle matching the contemporary north aisle were abandoned. That aisle has a five-bay arcade on quatrefoil piers; one of its eastern windows with reticulated tracery resembles the west window of the three-stage tower, also early 14th-century and surmounted by a short octagonal spire with canopied lucarnes. The narrow tower arch has mouldings matching those of the arcade. Its east face bears the weathering of a high-pitched earlier roof, replaced in the 15th century when the existing clerestory of five windows each side was added. The remaining south windows, along with those at the east and west ends of the aisle, were also then inserted. The north porch is of the same period. The south doorway contains a door with 13th-century ironwork.

Battered wooden figures placed on the tower walls are probably the survivors of the cherubim, perhaps on the nave roof, whose removal William Dowsing ordered in 1644. He also commanded the destruction of 31 pictures, presumably painted glass, including a crucifixion (fn. 78) in the chancel east window. Its early 16th-century central group was, however, still in place in 1744, (fn. 79) but was removed to a side window at the restoration of the 1870s. The other old glass, mostly 16th-century figures of saints, may have been installed only in 1779. (fn. 80) The open rood screen, whose rood was mentioned in 1521, (fn. 81) along with a parclose in the north aisle perhaps for a guild chapel, survived in 1744. (fn. 82) In 1505 John Leynton left £10 to make a vise in the chapel, and 5 marks for a new sepulchre. (fn. 83)

About 1700 there were placed at the chancel east end facing monuments to Dame Jane Cotton (d. 1692) and her spinster daughter Jane (d. 1707), with respectively a half-reclining effigy and a kneeling figure. (fn. 84) Sir John Hinde Cotton (d. 1795) rebuilt the chancel in 1779, shortening it by one bay to its present 24 ft. and blocking the side windows to accommodate the resited monuments. He also reroofed it, paved it in stone, installed new pews, put at its east end wainscotted panelling containing six early 17thcentury paintings of Apostles formerly in the gallery at the Hall, and brought in a communion rail from Great St. Mary's, Cambridge. (fn. 85) In the early 19th century the monument of Jane Cotton (d. 1707) was removed to the north aisle, and more Cotton monuments and tablets were placed on the chancel south wall, including a large marble flag, signed by Flaxman, to Admiral Cotton, and an urn-topped rostral column to Commodore Charles Cotton (d. 1818) by Richard Westmacott.

The church was thoroughly restored in the 1870s, with John Morley as architect for the nave. Miss Cotton and Henry Hurrell subscribed half the cost. In 1872-3 the nave received a tile floor and a new high-pitched roof, while the north aisle was rebuilt and embattled. In 1873- 4 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners repaired the chancel, which was reroofed. Its walls were rebuilt from the string course upward, three lancets replacing the east window of 1779, while the blocked side windows were reopened. (fn. 86) After 1899 the old communion table with its Jacobean top was reinstated. Col. Harding in 1908 gave a new organ, restored in 1975. (fn. 87) In 1926 he paid for the unsafe upper part of the tower to be rebuilt, re-using the old stonework. (fn. 88)

There were three bells in 1552. (fn. 89) One of two cast in 1723 was recast in 1927, when a 14thcentury bell once named Thomas was placed in the aisle. (fn. 90) A new cup was acquired c. 1570. An almsdish was given in 1756, and another of 1761 by the vicar in 1879. (fn. 91) The registers begin in 1691; bishops' transcripts are complete from 1599, save for some gaps 1673-86. (fn. 92)


  • 1. Liber de Bernewelle, 40, 42, 44.
  • 2. Vetus Liber Arch. Elien. (C.A.S. 8vo ser. xlviii), 86; cf. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 447.
  • 3. e.g. E.D.R. (1890), 440; (1897), 236; (1905), 62; (1911), 88.
  • 4. e.g. ibid. (1912), 73; (1914), 380.
  • 5. Bentham, Hist. Ely, 196.
  • 6. e.g. P.R.O., IND 17002, f. 57; IND 17008, p. 144; IND 17013, f. 446 and v.; Crockford (1896 and later edns.).
  • 7. Val. of Norwich, ed. Lunt, 225, 538.
  • 8. Ibid. 557.
  • 9. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 266.
  • 10. e.g. P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VII/36, m. 2d.; SC 6/Hen. VIII/245, m. 1d.
  • 11. Ibid. LR 14/785.
  • 12. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1591-4, 569; C.R.O., 588/T 200.
  • 13. e.g. C.R.O., 588/T 201; Lamb. Pal. MS. COMM. XIIa/7, f. 75.
  • 14. P.R.O., C 2/Jas. I/H 23/55; cf. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 8/1, f. 22v.
  • 15. Church Com. files, corr. 1875, 1885; cf. Burke, Peerage (1890), 1185-6.
  • 16. Cf. Lond. Gaz. 4 May 1852, pp. 1254-5.
  • 17. Lamb. Pal. MS. COMM. XIIa/7, f. 75.
  • 18. e.g. C.R.O., 588/T 202; C.U.L., E.D.R., B 8/1, f. 22v.
  • 19. Cf. C.R.O., 588/E 38.
  • 20. C.U.L., E.D.R., G, tithe award 1842; Church Com. files; cf. C.R.O., 588/T 306.
  • 21. C.U.L., E.D.R., H 1/Madingley 1615, 1707.
  • 22. P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VII/36, m. 7; SC 11/88.
  • 23. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 8/1, f. 22v.; cf. E.D.R. (1914), 294.
  • 24. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 266.
  • 25. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 502.
  • 26. Lamb. Pal. MS. COMM. XIIa/3, f. 313.
  • 27. C.R.O., 588/T 100.
  • 28. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 8/1, f. 22v.
  • 29. Ibid. D 3/1, ff. 62v.-63.
  • 30. C.U.L., MS. Plan 558.
  • 31. Church Com. files, return 1832; cf. C.R.O., 588/E 49A.
  • 32. C.U.L., E.D.R., G, tithe award 1842.
  • 33. Church Com. files, corr. 1900, 1913, 1937-9.
  • 34. Ibid. corr. 1863.
  • 35. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/27; cf. Lond. Gaz. 23 July 1875, p. 3719.
  • 36. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/38; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1892- 1908).
  • 37. Church Com. files, corr. 1915.
  • 38. P.R.O., E 179/244/23, rot. 60d.
  • 39. C.U.L., E.D.R., H 1/Madingley 1615; ibid. MS. Plan 558, showing both sites.
  • 40. Ibid. E.D.R., B 7/1, p. 43.
  • 41. Ibid. C 1/4; C 3/21; G, tithe award 1842; Church Com. files, return 1832.
  • 42. Church Com. files, corr. and bills, 1876-8.
  • 43. e.g. Crockford (1896, 1973-4).
  • 44. Rot. Selecti (Rec. Com.), 242; Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 278, f. 118v. List of incumbents 1318-1894, E.D.R. (1898), 125, 142, 160.
  • 45. Cf. above, Girton, econ. hist.
  • 46. Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Camb. 151, 554; E.D.R. (1905), 61; (1909), 46.
  • 47. B.L. Add. MS. 5861, ff. 88, 95; cf. Alum. Cantab. to 1751, iv. 126.
  • 48. B.L. Add. MS. 5861, ff. 62, 80v., 95, 105v.; P.R.O., PROB 11/15, f. 129; PROB 11/16, f. 194v.; cf. Trans. C.H.A.S. i. 395.
  • 49. E.D.R. (1912), 73.
  • 50. Cf. B.L. Add. MS. 5861, ff. 26v., 43v.
  • 51. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/3, pp. 93, 130; B 2/4, p. 49; B 2/6, p. 142; B 2/8, pp. 13, 155; cf. Cal. Pat. 1572-8, p. 251.
  • 52. C.U.L., E.D.R., D 2/10, ff. 114, 178v.
  • 53. Cf. E.D.R. (1898), 125.
  • 54. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/11, ff. 25v., 90.
  • 55. Ibid. B 2/13, f. 164v.
  • 56. E.D.R. (1898), 142; cf. Alum. Cantab. to 1751, i. 241, 373; ii. 441; iii. 15, 47.
  • 57. B.L. Add. MS. 5852, f. 55v.; cf. Lamb. Pal. MS. COMM. XIIa/3, p. 313.
  • 58. Cambs. Episc. Visit. 1638-65, ed. Palmer, 98.
  • 59. E.D.R. (1898), 142, 160.
  • 60. Alum. Cantab. 1752-1900, ii. 577-8; cf. D.N.B.
  • 61. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 8/1, f. 22v.; C 1/4; C 1/6.
  • 62. Ibid. C 3/21; cf. Alum. Cantab. 1752-1900, iii. 442.
  • 63. E.D.R. (1898), 160; cf. Church Com. files, corr. 1863.
  • 64. D.N.B.
  • 65. P.R.O., HO 129/186 (2), f. 39.
  • 66. D.N.B.
  • 67. Church Com. files.
  • 68. Alum. Cantab. 1752-1900, iv. 40; C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/27; C 3/31.
  • 69. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/38.
  • 70. Church Com. files, cuttings from Guardian, 5 Apr. 1899; cf. E.D.R. (1898), 53, 88.
  • 71. Crockford (1907 and later edns.).
  • 72. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 278, f. 118v.
  • 73. P.R.O., PROB 11/15, f. 129; ibid. C 142/36, no. 18.
  • 74. Described in 1744: B.L. Add. MS. 5805, ff. 62v.-72; c. 1850: Eccl. Top. Eng. vi, no. 53; c. 1930: Proc. C.A.S. xxxi. 105-24; c. 1955: R.C.H.M. Cambs. i. 176-9.
  • 75. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, p. 43.
  • 76. Proc. C.A.S. xxxi. 117-18; cf. B.L. Add. MS. 5805, f.
  • 77. B.L. Add. MS. 5805, f. 67v.
  • 78. Trans. C.H.A.S. iii. 84.
  • 79. B.L. Add. MS. 5805, f. 68.
  • 80. Ibid. Add. MS. 5848, f. 224v.
  • 81. Ibid. Add. MS. 5861, f. 80v.
  • 82. Ibid. Add. MS. 5805, ff. 72v.-73; cf. Proc. C.A.S. xii. 293.
  • 83. P.R.O., PROB 11/15, f. 129.
  • 84. Mon. Inscr. Cambs. 115-16.
  • 85. B.L. Add. MS. 5848, ff. 224v.-225; Add. MS. 5805, f. 67v.; Add. MS. 5841, f. 197; cf. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 7/1, p. 43.
  • 86. Camb. Chron. 24 May 1873; cf. Proc. C.A.S. xxxi. 110- 22; Church Com. files, corr. and accts. 1872-4, with drawings of ch. before rebldg.
  • 87. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1912); inscr. on organ.
  • 88. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1929); Proc. C.A.S. xxxi. 108.
  • 89. Cambs. Ch. Goods, temp. Edw. VI, 38.
  • 90. Cambs. Bells (C.A.S. 8vo ser. xviii), 157; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1929); cf. B.L. Add. MS. 5805, f. 68.
  • 91. MS. list of ch. plate, in possession of V.C.H.
  • 92. C.R.O., P 114/1/1-7; cf. Proc. C.A.S. xxxi. 106.