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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There was a church at Swavesey, possibly a minster, by the late 11th century when Count Alan, lord of Richmond, gave it to the abbey of St. Sergius and St. Bacchus, Angers (Maine-et-Loire), which had founded a priory there by 1086. (fn. 172) Alan's successors as lords of Swavesey manor claimed the advowson of the priory; it was confirmed to Alan la Zouche in 1304. (fn. 173) A claimed confirmation to the abbey by William la Zouche, allegedly son of Roger and grandson of Alan la Zouche, was presumably a forgery. (fn. 174) The Zouches and their successors continued to claim the advowson of the priory in the late 14th and early 15th century. (fn. 175) By 1254 the priory had appropriated the church and a vicarage had been ordained; (fn. 176) the first known vicar was named in 1260. (fn. 177) The living remained a vicarage in 1988, although from 1987 it was held in plurality with the united benefice of Fen Drayton and Conington. (fn. 178)
The advowson of the vicarage descended with the priory estate to St. Anne's priory, Coventry, (fn. 179) but between 1341 and 1399 the Crown presented during the war with France. (fn. 180) St. Anne's presented from 1461 to 1527. (fn. 181) Between 1542 and 1603 the farmers of the rectory or their nominees presented, except in 1565 and 1568 when the bishop of Ely collated by lapse. (fn. 182) In 1612 the patronage was disputed by the bishop and the archbishop of Canterbury. (fn. 183) The bishop again presented in 1616 and 1665. (fn. 184) Meanwhile in 1558 the Crown had granted the patronage to Jesus College, Cambridge, at the bishop's request. (fn. 185) In 1701 the college at last exercised its right. (fn. 186) It retained the advowson in 1988. (fn. 187)
The rectory was valued at £13 6s. 8d. in the early 13th century. The vicar's annual income increased from £5 in 1254 to £8 13s. 4d. in 1291. (fn. 188) It had apparently fallen to less than £8 by the late 15th century (fn. 189) and was £7 6s. 6d. in 1535. (fn. 190) First £15, then £30 was granted to the minister in 1650 out of the rectory; (fn. 191) by 1693 the lessee of the rectory was charged with a fixed payment of £15 to the vicar. (fn. 192) About 1830 the vicar's net income was £428, almost wholly from small tithes. (fn. 193) A modus for the tithes of the Eye meadow had been established by 1543, (fn. 194) although the vicar disputed it in the 1570s, (fn. 195) and by 1838 a modus of £2 0s. 6d. was payable from the whole manor farm. (fn. 196) Payments in cash for the tithes were customary but disputed in the 1730s. (fn. 197) By the 1830s nearly half the vicarial tithes were let by composition, the rest paid in kind. (fn. 198) They were commuted for a rent charge of £262 10s. with effect from 1841. (fn. 199) There was apparently no vicarial glebe until 1362, when the vicar bought a house, held of the rectory manor, in the later Station Road for a permanent vicarage. (fn. 200) It was usually in poor repair from the 17th to the earlier 19th century, (fn. 201) but with the ½-a. croft behind it was still the only glebe until 1840, when the southern Parsonage close was allotted to the vicar. (fn. 202) A new vicarage was built there in 1865. (fn. 203) From 1866 further glebe, estimated at 102½ a. by 1887, was bought in Preston (Suff.) out of augmentations, (fn. 204) and a further 4 a. was bought in Swavesey in 1886. (fn. 205) Meanwhile the site of the old vicarage had been sold in 1884. (fn. 206) The vicar's income was £360 net in 1885 but had fallen to £256 by 1897 (fn. 207) and was apparently unchanged in 1913, despite the sale in 1903 of the Preston glebe. (fn. 208) In 1988 it was planned to sell Swavesey vicarage house, as the priest-in-charge lived at Fen Drayton vicarage. (fn. 209)
In 1283 Ellen la Zouche founded a chantry at Swavesey and endowed it with rent in Eynesbury (Hunts.). (fn. 210) By the suppression it also had land in Swavesey. (fn. 211) It was probably the chapel of the Holy Trinity, to which the Zouches and their successors as lords of Swavesey presented chaplains in the 14th century and the early 15th, (fn. 212) although a chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary was mentioned in 1476. (fn. 213) The chapel was a separate building from the church (fn. 214) and perhaps stood in Chantry close south-west of the enclosed town. (fn. 215) By 1638 it had been converted to a cottage. (fn. 216)
John of Wendy about 1200 endowed a lamp at the altar of St. Mary in the church. (fn. 217) There were altars of St. Thomas and St. Andrew by the late 13th century (fn. 218) and a chapel of St. Andrew in 1545. (fn. 219) Guilds of St. Andrew were mentioned in 1527 and 1540, of our Lady in 1527, and of St. Catherine in 1529; there was also a Holy Cross guild. (fn. 220) In the late 13th century the church was well supplied with service books; others had been given by 1311. (fn. 221)
The first known vicar was recorded only through his sins. (fn. 222) Two thirds of the vicars presented between 1374 and 1612 are known to have been graduates, as were all of those presented from 1616 to 1934 and probably later. (fn. 223) In the later 14th century the cure may have suffered from chop-churching, (fn. 224) though the vicar was perhaps resident in 1380. (fn. 225) Nicholas Holdy, vicar by 1421 and until 1439 or later, had been living in Swavesey in 1398, had been chaplain of Swavesey chantry from 1403, and may have resided as vicar. (fn. 226) Some early 16thcentury vicars were or may have been resident. (fn. 227) Of later vicars until 1864 only the orientalist Simon Ockley, curate from 1701 and vicar 1705- 20, is known to have resided and died at Swavesey, and from 1785 to 1864 the living was normally held in plurality. (fn. 228) Curates were mentioned regularly from 1561 to the mid 19th century. (fn. 229)
In 1638 services were held regularly, with communion three or four times a year. (fn. 230) Between 1775 and 1836 there were two services each Sunday, and communion was celebrated thrice or more yearly. There were 9 to 12 communicants in 1825 and over 20 in 1836, out of several hundred adults in the parish. (fn. 231) On Census Sunday 1851 there were 100 attending morning service and 230 in the afternoon. (fn. 232) The Church was losing ground to Dissent, and in 1868 George Long of Manor Farm claimed to be the only Anglican farmer in Swavesey. (fn. 233) H. I. Sharp, vicar 1863-84, (fn. 234) built a new vicarage and moved into it, and restored the church. (fn. 235) He claimed in 1873 to have raised congregations to 500 and communicants to 60 at the great festivals, still 20 at regular communions which he held weekly. A third service with catechism had been established on alternate Sundays. (fn. 236) Registered Easter communicants increased from 30 in 1865 to 44 in 1875 and 69 in 1885. To counter the attractions of the dissenting chapels in Middle Watch and Boxworth End (fn. 237) Sharp's successor T. G. L. Lushington built St. Peter's mission church in Boxworth End on land given by Trinity College in 1889; it had opened by 1893 and was sold in 1921. (fn. 238) Although Dissent had been said to be preponderant in 1873, by 1897 churchgoers were thought to outnumber dissenters. (fn. 239) Nevertheless in the 1920s the vicar was still concerned about the effect of Dissent on the size of congregations, which partly for that reason were still small in the 1980s. (fn. 240)
Fragments of late medieval choir stalls (fn. 241) suggest that the church had a choir then, as it did by c. 1820. The choir gave concerts by 1864. (fn. 242) From 1886 or earlier a choral festival was held yearly at Swavesey and the choir also sang at such festivals elsewhere. (fn. 243)
The church of ST. ANDREW, so called from the late 11th century, (fn. 244) is built of field stones, ironstone conglomerate, re-used brick which is probably Roman, and coursed limestone rubble with ashlar dressings. It has a chancel with north aisle and vestry and south chapel, an aisled and clerestoried nave with south porch, and an aisled west tower. The long and short quoins of the early, perhaps late 11th-century, chancel were formerly exposed in the chancel south wall (fn. 245) and the similar quoins of the south-east and northeast corners of the nave are still visible. (fn. 246) The present nave, which is poorly set out and tapers markedly from west to east, may in part follow the lines of its predecessor of the 11th century or earlier.
The church was repeatedly enlarged in the 13th century. Soon after 1200 the nave was rebuilt, at a length (22.5 m.) exceptional in Cambridgeshire, with narrow lean-to aisles continued westwards to flank the contemporary tower. The chancel and tower arches are of that date. The south chapel was added in the earlier 13th century, probably by the Zouches, whose arms were recorded there in the 17th century. (fn. 247) It projected east of the chancel, from which it is separated by a two-bayed arcade; its east window retains the original shafted jambs. In the south wall a former recess, of which one flanking shaft and jamb survive, may have housed the tomb of the builder of the chapel. About 1300 the south aisle was widened to align with the chapel; it retains tall two-light windows with Y-tracery, and a similar three-light window was inserted into the chapel. The south porch, beneath which there was a Zouche vault, is contemporary with the aisle. (fn. 248) In the earlier 14th century the chancel was extended to align with the chapel and a piscina and triple sedilia were built into the new work. The second window in the south chapel and the north doorway are of about the same date and it may have been then that central transoms decorated with cusping were put into the windows of the south aisle.
In the 15th century the nave was rebuilt with six-bayed arcades and a clerestory, the north chancel aisle and vestry were added, and the north aisle was refenestrated and paved at the expense of William Everard. (fn. 249) New windows were also put into the chancel, the tower, the west end of the south aisle, and the east wall of the south chapel, where sedilia were built into the south wall, destroying the earlier founder's tomb. Alterations at the east end of the south aisle may have been required by the insertion of a stair to a rood loft. The roofs are of the 15th or 16th century and of low pitch. The nave and south aisle are separately ridged as they probably were in the 14th century, although then more steeply pitched.
The church was repaired in the late 16th and early 17th century. (fn. 250) Drop finials were added to the chancel roof about then and an aisle tiebeam is dated 1629. (fn. 251) By 1742 the south aisle was separated from the south chapel by a breast wall. (fn. 252) The tower was rebuttressed in 1747. (fn. 253)
The church was restored in 1866-7 (fn. 254) apparently to the designs of G. E. Street. The roofs and tower were repaired, the vestry and a fallen part of the north aisle were rebuilt, and the south porch was restored; (fn. 255) it was perhaps then that the entrance to the vault below was blocked. In the east window of the south chapel Perpendicular tracery was replaced by five lancets under one head. (fn. 256) The choir vestry north of the tower was dedicated in 1911. (fn. 257) The tower was again restored in 1913. (fn. 258)
The 19th-century choir stalls in the chancel include medieval fragments, and medieval pew ends survive in the south aisle; until the restoration of 1866-7 they stood in the nave. (fn. 259) In 1607 Thomas East obtained a faculty to erect a pew apparently at the east end of the south aisle. (fn. 260) The church was repewed in 1866-7. (fn. 261) The octagonal font is late medieval, with traceried panels and blank shields. A new clock and organ were given in 1894. (fn. 262).
A brass to William Fairfax (d. 1501) and his wife Agnes lay in the nave in the 17th century. (fn. 263) On the south wall of the south chapel is an elaborate monument, designed by Nicholas Stone, (fn. 264) to Anne (d. 1631), first wife of Sir John Cutts (d. 1646). It is in the form of a halfopen marble cupboard surmounted by an open segmental pediment.
There were four bells and a sanctus bell in 1553. (fn. 265) The great bell was recast in the time of Simon Ockley, vicar 1705-20, who added an Arabic inscription. (fn. 266) In 1753 there were six bells, five having been cast by Joseph Eayre of St. Neots (Hunts.) in that year. (fn. 267) The plate in 1553 consisted of a parcel gilt chalice and paten, but in the 1960s there was no plate earlier than 1800. (fn. 268) The registers include baptisms from 1576 and marraiges and burials from 1613, with gaps 1679-80 and 1689-1701. (fn. 269)
The churchyard was extended in 1306 and 1850. (fn. 270) The latter extension or another was consecrated in 1859. (fn. 271) Part of the churchyard was taken for the present Station Road at inclosure between 1838 and 1840. (fn. 272)