A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1932.
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The PRIORY OF ST. MARY, a house of Austin Canons, is presumed to have been founded at the beginning of the 12th century by Eustace de Lovetot. (fn. 1) The priory always seems to have stood outside the town, the tradition that Henry I empowered the Canons to transfer themselves outside arising probably from the confusion of the double dedication of the earlier parish church and the later priory to St. Mary. (fn. 2) All traces of the conventual buildings had disappeared at the beginning of the 19th century, but its site has been established in the east of the borough where the cemetery now is. (fn. 3)
The Earls of Huntingdon were great benefactors to St. Mary's. Earl David was buried in the precincts and his tomb still existed in the 16th century. (fn. 4) The patronage was vested in tenants of the honour, and during voidance the patron had the right to keep a porter at the gate, receiving his maintenance from the priory. (fn. 5)
The canons had a soke within the borough confirmed to them by charter of Henry I and subsequent charters. It was quit of all gelds within the borough. They had also a song school, (fn. 6) mentioned in a charter of Robert, Bishop of Lincoln (1094–1123), the history of which has already been given. (fn. 7)
The pre-Reformation history of St. Mary's Priory and the part it played in the life of the borough has been traced elsewhere. At the Dissolution the lands in Huntingdon owned by the priory were dispersed among various persons. Anthony Mallory acquired some in 1539; (fn. 8) Thomas Hall received a royal grant in 1540 of lands in St. Mary and St. Benedict parishes; (fn. 9) George and Thomas Whitmore received others in 1611. (fn. 10) The site of the priory itself was granted to Richard Cromwell in 1542, (fn. 11) and the buildings were shortly dismantled, (fn. 12) two tons of stone from the priory going to form part of the fabric of Godmanchester church tower early in the next century. (fn. 13)
In the 12th century there was situated in the north of the town and outside the borough boundary a leper hospital dedicated to ST. MARGARET. It owed part of its endowment to King Malcolm of Scotland (1141–65), who granted the hospital 16s. 2d. of the firma burgi; and 40s. of the soke of 'Baldewyneshowa. (fn. 16) The patronage of the hospital belonged to the Earls of Huntingdon and their successors, eventually coming to the crown. (fn. 17)
From a suit against the master or warden in 1340 it appears that the hospital was of the foundation of the king, who could give the mastership at his pleasure for term of life or years subject to the visitation of the chancellor for the time being. It was founded only for sick persons and lepers, who came and departed at their pleasure, so that there was no college of brethren and sisters. John de Bassyngbourne, who was master in the time of Edward II, sold divers corrodies in the hospital to men and women, where they abode. These people were expelled by his successor, who seems to have held the hospital for his own benefit. (fn. 18)
In 1461 Henry VI made a grant of the hospital to Trinity Hall, Cambridge. (fn. 19) The site is now marked by the 'Spitals' in the north of the town, and in the first half of the 19th century the property, stated to be still in the possession of Trinity Hall, consisted of two tenements with small gardens, usually occupied rent free by poor widows or families. (fn. 20) Since the 16th century the Spitals lands appear, however, to have been borough property. (fn. 21)
There was a leper hospital dedicated to ST. GILES in the 13th century, which was apparently still in existence in 1501. (fn. 22)
The hospital of ST. JOHN belonged to the commonalty of Huntingdon, and so escaped destruction at the Reformation, when it was converted into a free school. Part of its endowment was used for the maintenance of almshouses, (fn. 23) called the 'Bede House,' for the entertainment of poor travellers and for the comfort and relief of the poor and sick persons. (fn. 24) It is now represented by the Almshouses.
Many religious houses had properties within Huntingdon. Of these the most important was Ramsey Abbey, whose soke in Huntingdon included in Edward the Confessor's time ten burgesses with all customary dues in one ward of the borough and twenty-two burgesses in the other. The sheriff Eustace had taken part of this property by force, and at the Survey it was in the king's hands. (fn. 25) The soke was, however, confirmed to them with other liberties in 1129, (fn. 26) and the abbey continued to hold the property with various additions down to the Dissolution. (fn. 27) In 1291 the lands were taxed at £1 (fn. 28) and at the Dissolution the temporalities were 51s. 8d. (fn. 29) The lands appear to have extended into the parishes of St. Andrew, St. Edmund, and St. John.
Sawtre had a small property in Huntingdon from the 13th century. (fn. 30) It was granted in 1537 to Richard Williams, alias Cromwell, (fn. 31) who sold it to John Keache. (fn. 32) In 1579 John, grandson of John Keache, sold it back to the Cromwell family, in whose Huntingdon property it became absorbed. (fn. 33)
The Church of ALL SAINTS consists of a chancel (30½ ft. by 16½ ft.), modern organ chamber and vestry, nave (50 ft. by 19¾ ft.), north aisle (36 ft. by 11¾ ft.), south aisle (51 ft. by 12½ ft.), tower at north-west corner (10¾ ft. by 9¾ ft.), and south porch. The walls are mostly of rubble with stone dressings, but the eastern end of the south aisle is of ashlar and the tower is largely of red brick; the roofs are of lead.
The earliest work now remaining is the south arch of the tower which was evidently the western arch of an early 13th-century arcade. The tower was built at the end of the 14th century, and during the following century a general rebuilding of the church took place, beginning with the south aisle and south porch, then the nave arcades and the north aisle and finally (c. 1500) the chancel. (fn. 34) The tower has been partly rebuilt with brick and large buttresses built against it, possibly in the 17th century. The chancel, nave and north aisle were restored and the organ chamber and vestry built in 1859, and the eastern end of the south aisle was rebuilt in 1861.
The chancel, c. 1500, has a four-light east window; the north wall has a large modern arch to the organ chamber and a small doorway to the vestry; and the south wall has three three-light windows and a plain piscina. The windows have depressed four-centred arches with crocketed labels; below the middle window on the south are traces of a former doorway. The sepulchre light which existed in the church in 1528 was probably in the chancel. (fn. 35)
The arch is contemporary with the nave arcade, but the lower order is of smaller stones and may be earlier material reused. The screen was put up in 1898. The roof is of low pitch with moulded beams and carved figures at the feet of the jack-legs, but much restored.
The buttresses are finished with crocketed gables, and the embattled parapet has a string-course ornamented with bosses, amongst which are a crescent, (fn. 36) portcullis, Stafford knot, and (above the east window) a shield with the name R. Nowel. (fn. 37)
The 15th-century nave has an arcade of four bays on each side. The western bay on the north is of the 13th century, resting on a low circular column and a chamfered west respond having a foliated corbel carrying a small shaft with foliated capital. The remaining bays have depressed four-centred arches resting on columns formed of four shafts and four hollows with moulded capitals and bases. On the sides next the nave the arches have moulded labels which turn up at the apex and run into the string-course above. The clearstory has three-light windows, three on the north and four on the south. There is a large modern five-light west window, the glass of which was presented by Richard Ashton in memory of his parents. The roof is modern, although some of the carved figures on the jack-legs may be ancient, but three of the original figures are now preserved in the vestry, and two others are at the Archdeaconry Library.
The 15th-century north aisle has a modern arch to the organ chamber at the east end. In the north wall are three three-light windows having segmental-pointed heads with crocketed labels. The buttresses are finished with crocketed gablets. The roof is modern. At the east end was the image and apparently the altar of the Blessed Virgin. (fn. 38) The 15th-century south aisle has a much-restored four-light east window in a two-centred arch; the mullions are carried down and form traceried panels, of which the two in the centre are abbreviated where the altar came and have four blank shields supported by angels. In the south wall are three much-restored three-lights with similar panelling below them, and a contemporary door. There is a modern canopied niche and figure in the south-east angle. (fn. 39) In the west wall is a four-light window in a four-centred arch. The buttresses have large niches with crocketed heads, and are finished with crocketed pinnacles rising above the embattled parapet. The roof is modern.
The late 14th-century tower stands partly on the western bay of the 13th-century nave arcade, and has a late 14th-century arch to the north aisle. Its walls are chiefly of rubble with stone dressings, but much patched with brick; the belfry, however, has been rebuilt with brick, the old stone dressings, the 14th-century two-light windows, a belt of ashlar at the top and the embattled parapet with crocketed pinnacles, being reused. The string-course below the parapet appears to be largely of 13th-century material. On the outside of the east wall, above the aisle roof, is a stone carved with a cross within a circle, possibly a consecration cross, and another stone with 12th-century cheveron ornament.
The 15th-century south porch has a two-centred outer archway, two-light windows under wall arches in the side walls, and embattled parapets with a small niche in the gable. There is a small stoup in the north-east corner.
The font has a 13th-century octagonal bowl panelled with a circular arch on each face; it has been considerably reduced in height, mutilating the arches. (fn. 40) The stem is modern.
There are six bells inscribed: 1. 'Glory be to God on high and in earth Peace. Mears & Stainbank, 1904.' 2. 'We praise Thee. Mears & Stainbank, 1904.' 3. 'Newcombe of Leicester made mee 1606. We bless Thee. Recast by Mears & Stainbank, 1904.' 4. 'Newcombe of Leicester made mee 1606. We worship Thee. Recast by Mears & Stainbank, 1904.' 5. 'Newcombe of Leicester made mee 1606. We glorify Thee. Recast by Mears & Stainbank, 1904.' 6. 'God save the King. S. Hampshire. Tobias Norris cast me 1646. (fn. 41) We give thanks to Thee for Thy Great Glory. Hedley Vicars, Rector, Charles Berkeley Margetts, Robert Allen Scate, Churchwardens of All Saints. George Thackray, Thomas Scate, Churchwardens of St. John Baptist. Recast by Mears & Stainbank, 1904.'
Until 1903–4 there had been but four bells, represented by the four heaviest of the present six, upon which the old inscriptions have been reproduced.
There are monuments in the north aisle to Walter Coote, d. 1890; Sydney Estelle Jones, d. 1903; War Memorial, 1914–1919; in the south aisle, to Aliey (Greene) wife of Christopher Weaver, d. 1636; the Ven. F. G. Vesey (formerly rector), Archdeacon of Huntingdon, d. 1915, and Annie his wife, d. 1914; South African War Memorial; in the tower, to Sir Lionel Walden, Kt., Elizabeth (Balaam), his wife, and Mary her sister, erected by Catherine Harding, widow of Fisher Harding, master-builder to Queen Anne, 1749; Gervase Fullwood, d. 1672, Mary (Brabine) his wife, and others of his family, erected 1756; Sarah, wife of the Rev. John Mills, d. 1818; and windows: in the chancel, to David Veasey, erected 1872; to the mother of Jane Chapman Vesey, d. 1876; in nave to Arthur Ashton and Caroline, his wife, and Richard their son, d. 1899; in south aisle, to William Jones Mellor, d. 1873.
At the west end of the nave are two standards captured from the Sikhs by the 31st (Huntingdonshire) Regiment in 1845–6, and placed here in 1867.
The registers are as follows: (i) All Saints' Parish, baptisms, marriages and burials, 18 June 1558 to 28 Sept. 1681; (ii) St. John's Parish, 22 Oct. 1585 to 18 March 1681–2; (iii) All Saints' and St. John's, 10 April 1678 to 25 Sept. 1783 (marriages ending 24 March 1754); (iv) All Saints' and St. John's, baptisms and burials, 5 Oct. 1783 to 30 Dec. 1812; (v) All Saints' and St. John's, the official marriage book, 27 Oct. 1754 to 16 Sept. 1783; (vi) the same, 12 Oct. 1783 to 30 Dec. 1800; (vii) the same, 13 March 1801 to 15 Oct. 1812.
The church plate consists of: A silver gilt chalice, Flemish, circa 1750, inscribed:—'✠ To the Glory of God ✠ In loving Memory of their Parents Charles Berkeley and Frances Dorothea Margetts. This chalice is given by Frances Burroughes Margetts, Constance Emily Bevan and Agnes Penrose Vernon. Easter 1920'; a silver chalice inscribed 'For the use of All Saints Church, Huntingdon, a thank offering Christmas 1893,' and hall-marked for 1892–3; a silver paten similarly inscribed, hall-marked for 1893–4; a silver gilt and jewelled chalice with ornamental inscription '✠ Calicem salutaris accipiam et nomen Dei invocabo,' inscribed 'In honour of our Lord Jesus Christ and for the service of the Altar in the Church of All Saints Huntingdon, this chalice and paten were dedicated by Arthur Crean, Assistant Priest, 1891–1899,' hall-marked for 1900–1; a silver gilt paten, inscribed 'All Saints Church, Huntingdon,' and hall-marked for 1900–1.
The Church of ST. MARY consists of a chancel (32¾ ft. by 19¾ ft.), modern organ chamber and vestry on the north, nave (59 ft. by 24 ft.), north aisle (11½ ft. wide at east and 8½ ft. at west), south aisle (8½ ft. wide), west tower (18 ft. by 17¾ ft.), and south porch. The walls of the north aisle and west tower are of ashlar, and of the rest of the church, rubble with stone dressings; the roofs are of lead and tiles.
There are small remains of 12th-century buttresses at the north-east, north-west and south-west corners of the south aisle; the chancel, the nave arcades and the south aisle were rebuilt in the 13th century; the west tower and south porch were built circa 1385; and the clearstory added about 1500. In 1607 the north-east corner of the tower fell down, destroying the north arcade and north aisle, all which parts were rebuilt between the years 1608–1620. (fn. 42) The organ chamber and vestry were built in 1869, when the church was generally restored; a further restoration took place in 1876, and small repairs were done in 1913.
The 13th-century chancel was probably about 18 ft. longer than at present, the east wall being modern and the window a group of three lancets. The north wall has a blocked 16th-century doorway, an original lancet window and a modern arch to the organ chamber and doorway to the vestry. The south wall has an original priests' doorway standing close to the present east wall, and having jamb shafts with water-leaf caps and a label carved with dog-tooth ornament; a modern priests' doorway just west of it, and two late 15th-century three-light windows with 13th-century inner-jambs reset. The 13th-century chancel arch is of two orders and rests on early 17th-century moulded corbels; northward of it, on the west face, is a sunk panel inscribed 'R. Cromwel. I. Tvrpin. Bailiefs, 1609.' Higher up is a blocked opening to the rood loft. A 13th-century lancet is reset in the north wall of the vestry and a late 13th-century two-light in the wall of the organ chamber, both probably from the north wall of the chancel. Outside, at the south-west corner, is a 13th-century mask corbel, perhaps part of the string-course of the original parapet.
The 13th-century nave has a north arcade of four bays with a narrow modern arch to the east of it; the arches have two chamfered orders and rest on two octagonal and two circular columns, all with moulded caps and bases, the eastern pier being modern. On the second column is cut 'Robert Law Vicar 1608' and there are several other names in various places. This arcade was rebuilt with the old materials after the fall of the tower. The 13th-century south arcade is also of four bays with a narrow and later bay eastward of it; the arches are of two moulded orders and rest on varied columns—the eastern is octagonal (1698), the second is composed of four keel-shaped shafts with four smaller shafts in the angles, the third is circular and the fourth octagonal, and all have moulded caps and bases. The western respond has a foliated corbel carrying three short shafts with carved caps. Over the first column is a sunk panel inscribed 'John Bardolph, Job Bradshaw, Churchwardens 1698.' The late 15th-century clearstory has four three-light windows on the north, and three threelights and two two-lights on the south.
The north aisle, rebuilt after the fall of the tower, has a modern arch into the organ chamber on the east and three late 15th-century three-light windows and a blocked doorway in the north wall. Above the doorway, outside, is a sunk panel inscribed 'NOVAE. STRVCTVRAE. ROBERTUS. LAW. VICARIVS. NONO. DIE. MARTII. FVNDAMENTA. LOCAVIT ANNO 1608,'—and on the parapet above 'PERFECIT 1620.' The eastern part of this aisle is widened out, perhaps representing a former chapel. (fn. 43)
The 13th-century south aisle has a much-restored 15th-century three-light window on each inner jamb of which is a moulded octagonal bracket supported by an angel. In the south wall are four modern three-lights, a doorway of circa 1385, and a small 15th-century piscina. In the west wall is a blocked an angel. In the south wall are four modern three-lights, a doorway of circa 1385, and a small 15th-century piscina. In the west wall is a blocked 15th-century window. At the south-west corner is a low 12th-century buttress, and portions of others remain at the north-east and south-east angles.
The west tower, circa 1385, has a modern tower arch. The west wall has a doorway with a pointed arch under a crocketed ogee label in the outer spandrels of which are quatrefoils in circles, the whole being flanked by two crocketed niches. Above it is a three-light window with modern tracery. Just below the belfry stage is a band of quatrefoils. The north wall was divided by two pilaster-strips surmounted by pinnacles into a central and two half bays with crocketed gables, but this was partly destroyed by the fall of the tower. The belfry has two coupled two-light windows in each face except the east, where a rather smaller window has been blocked by the modern facing of the wall. The corners of the tower are supported by well-designed buttresses, gabled and panelled and rising up above the parapet as large crocketed pinnacles. (fn. 44) The parapets are embattled and ornamented with a band of quatrefoils and undulating ornament, much of which is missing, and some of it is reset on the inner side of the parapets. The stair turret is in the north-west angle. There are several inscriptions on the walls, viz.: over the north belfry window, '1613'; on north parapet 'R. H.'; on west face of south-west buttress, 'W.I.—T.D.— Churchwardens, 1672'; on the west face of northwest buttress a 14th-century figure of a bell with curious round canons.
The south porch, circa 1385, has an outer archway of two moulded orders on shafted jambs. The side walls have each a two-light window. The exterior angles are finished with a roll moulding and there are remains of destroyed niches above.
The 13th-century font has an octagonal fossil marble bowl on a central and eight circular shafts with moulded caps and bases.
There are eight bells, inscribed: 1. 'J Taylor & Co., Founders, Loughborough, 1876' and on the waist, 'The two smallest bells in this peal:—Gloria in altissimis Deo: were presented by Matthew Edis Maile, churchwarden, 1876.' 2. 'John Taylor & Co., Founders, Loughborough, 1876' and on the waist 'In terra pax hominibus.' 3. 'John Taylor & Co., Founders, Loughborough, 1876' and on the waist 'Venite exultemus Domino.' 4. 'John Taylor & Co., Founders, Loughborough, 1876' and on the waist 'Laudate Dominum in Sancto ejus.' 5. 'J. Taylor & Co., Founders, Loughborough, 1876' and on the waist 'Sancta Katerina ora pro nobis. Circa 1510.' 6. 'J. Taylor & Co., Founders, Loughborough, 1876' and on the waist 'Vox Augustini sonet in aure Dei. Circa 1510.' 7. 'John Taylor & Co., Founders, Loughborough, 1876' and on the waist 'Labor ipse voluptas utile dulci. 1737.' 8. 'John Taylor & Co., Founders, Loughborough, 1876' and on the waist 'Sit nomen Domini benedictum. Circa 1510. The six largest bells were given by Matthew Edis Maile, churchwarden, 1876, in the place of a former smaller peal.'
In 1607 there were four great bells and one small bell. (fn. 45) The tenor (now the 7th bell) was cast by Joseph Eayre, of St. Neots, 1737, and another was inscribed 'Thomas Norris cast mee 1659'; (fn. 46) in 1833 Sir John Arundel gave an additional bell, (fn. 47) making the six which existed prior to 1876. Owen (fn. 48) points out that the date 1510 is obviously wrong, being much too late.
There are monuments: in the chancel, to Mary Elizabeth wife of Rear-Admiral Robert Montagu, d. 1805; to the Officers and Men of the 31st (Hunts.) Regiment who fell at Sebastopol, 1857; the Revd. Miles Atkinson, Vicar, d. 1894; in the north aisle, to George Maule, d. 1812; the Revd. Alfred Veasey, B.D., d. 1834; James Morton, M.D., d. 1840; in the south aisle, to Sir John Arundel, Kt., d. 1837; the Revd. John Fell, d. 1869; South African War Memorial; on the floor, part of the matrix of a brass with indents of two symbols; in the tower, to Sir Nicholas Pedley, Kt., d. 1685; Thomas Sayer, surgeon, d. 1697, and Elizabeth his wife, d. 1726; John Lovesey, d. 1707; Elizabeth, wife of George Sayer, d. 1729; John Raby, d. 1731–2; Elizabeth (daughter of William Lysons) widow of John Francis de Carcassonnette, and formerly wife of the Hon. Remigius Birmingham (second son of Francis Lord Athunry), d. 1749, and Sir Edmund Gardner, Kt., and Elizabeth his wife, and Thomas Lysons (uncle of Elizabeth de Carcassonnette); George Sayer, surgeon, d. 1752; the Revd. Robert Hodson, M.A., Vicar, d. 1803, and Mary his wife, d. 1800; War Memorial; also windows in the chancel, to the father and mother of Archdeacon Vesey; John William, 7th Earl of Sandwich, d. 1884, Mary his wife, d. 1859, and Sydney Montagu, d. 1860; in north aisle, to Edmund Howson, d. 1895; in south aisle, to Edmund Maile, d. 1829 and Mary his wife, d. 1837; Mary Isabella, wife of J. E. Horsfall, d. 1881; Frederick James Howson and Isabella his wife, both d. 1897; Jane Chapman Vesey, d. 1906.
On the south wall of the chancel is a tablet stating that two standards captured from the Sikhs by the 31st (Hunts.) Regiment in 1845–6, formerly in the church, had been made over to the East Surrey Regiment in 1905.
In the churchyard are two ancient stone coffins.
The registers are as follows: (i) St. Mary's Parish, baptisms, marriages and burials, 1593–1623; (ii) 1624–1636; (iii) St. Benedict's Parish, 1574– 1603; (iv) 1603–1691; (v) St. Mary's and St. Benedict's Parish, 1692–1714; (vi) 1715 to 1761, marriages ending 1754; (vii) baptisms and burials, 1762–1783; (viii) 1783–1807; (xi) 1807–1812; (via) the official marriage book, 1754–1783; (ix) 1783– 1801; (x) 1801–1812.
The church plate consists of: A silver cup with Elizabethan ornament, and hall-marked for 1569–70; a silver cover paten engraved with the letters P S M, and hall-marked for 1624–5; a silver cup (early 17th century) inscribed Sant + Benet + Pereshe +, but without hall-mark; a silver cover paten belonging to the same, engraved with the letters S * B. also unmarked; three silver plates, engraved with a coat of arms, and hall-marked for 1684; a silver flagon engraved with the arms of George Sayer, an inscription in Greek, and 'Ex dono Georgii et Elizabethae Sayer Uxoris Ejus, 1726' and, on the bottom, 'Mr Charles Darlowe, Mr. John James, Churchwardens' hall-marked for 1726; a box inscribed 'To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Richard Edward Woolley, April 1917' hall-marked for 1902.
Among the numerous Huntingdon churches that of ST. MARY has the most ancient history and is regarded as the borough church. According to a claim appended to the Domesday Survey it had belonged to Thorney Abbey and in Edward the Confessor's time was pledged to the burgesses by one of the abbots. King Edward, disregarding the claims of both abbey and burgesses, gave the church to his priests Vitalis and Bernard, who sold it to the King's Chamberlain, he in turn selling it to two un-named priests of Huntingdon. By 1086 it had passed to the Sheriff Eustace, who granted it to St. Mary's Priory, Huntingdon. (fn. 49) A vicarage had been ordained before 1218 when the vicar had the corrody of a canon. (fn. 50) 'The Priory' retained the advowson till the Dissolution when it became crown property and has so remained. (fn. 51)
In 1291 the living was taxed at £4 13s. 4d. and in 1428 at 8 marks. (fn. 52) At this date the church was said to be impoverished and destroyed by fire. (fn. 53) The value of the tithes at the Dissolution was 118s. 4d. (fn. 54)
The presentations to ALL SAINTS or ALL HALLOWS were made alternately by the prior of Huntingdon and the abbot of Thorney. (fn. 55) It was assessed in 1428 at 110s. and at the Reformation the rectory was worth £7 16s. 1d. (fn. 56) At the latter date Thorney and Huntingdon both had pensions of 10s. each in the living. (fn. 57) It then became crown property, and has so remained. In 1637 the lead and material parts of the church were said to have fallen into great decay, the steeple was almost ready to fall and a new communion table and rail were needed. (fn. 58)
These two parishes, which are the sole surviving ecclesiastical parishes in Huntingdon, were united to form one civil parish in 1911.
The church of ST. BENEDICT stood on the north side of the Queen's Head Inn (44, High Street); a part of the churchyard remains, the rest having been built over. The church was granted in the time of Henry I to Huntingdon Priory by Rodbriht the deacon of Huntingdon and is one of the four mentioned in the Papal confirmation of 1147 to the Priory. (fn. 59) In 1428 it was taxed at 74s. 4d. and at the Dissolution the rectory was worth 101s. 10d. (fn. 60) In the 16th century the church had four bells in the steeple. (fn. 61) The fabric is said to have suffered much in the Civil War, but the tower remained standing 'very ruinous and useless' till 1802. (fn. 62) A plan to unite the parish with that of St. Mary was set on foot in 1656 and in 1667 was finally approved by royal warrant. (fn. 63) There are frequent bequests for the repair of the church in wills of the late 15th and early 16th centuries. There was a light of St. Anne in the church and associated with it was the gild of St. Anne. (fn. 64) The tower of the church stood until 1802 when it was taken down; some parts of the foundations of the church still remain.
The church of ST. JOHN BAPTIST stood on the south side of Ferrar House in the High Street. A part of the churchyard still remains. The advowson, which also belonged to Huntingdon Priory in 1147, was a rectory assessed at 66s. in 1428 and £7 16s. 5½d. at the Dissolution. (fn. 65) The living then became crown property and a scheme was finally approved for uniting it with that of All Saints in 1667. (fn. 66) The church suffered during the Civil War and was pulled down between 1651 and 1660 by Sylvester Bedell. Eight of Oliver Cromwell's children were baptised in the church. (fn. 67) From bequests in wills it appears that the church had a chancel, nave and two aisles one of which was called the 'chauntry ylde.' We have mention of lights of the Holy Sepulchre, St. Etheldreda and St. John and of the images of the Blessed Virgin, St. John and St. Crasius (Pancras ?) and references also to the painting of the rood loft. (fn. 68)
The church of ST. EDMUND belonged to Huntingdon Priory in 1147. (fn. 69) Presentations were made during the 13th century, but in 1312 the living had become so small that it was united to St. Mary's. (fn. 70)
Huntingdon Priory acquired ST. MARTIN'S church at the same time as St. Benedict (q.v.). (fn. 71) In 1343 the parish was united to St. Mary's and the priory received permission to do as they thought fit with the church and churchyard. (fn. 72)
Very little is known of the parish and church of ST. MICHAEL. The patronage belonged to Huntingdon Priory in 1290, (fn. 73) but later it appears to have passed to the Prioress of Hinchingbrooke, who in 1416 claimed the 'chapel' of St. Michael, situated in St. Peter's parish (q.v.). (fn. 74) No mention of incumbents has been found and the building was in ruins in 1533. (fn. 75)
The church of ST. CLEMENT was certainly in the south of Huntingdon, for in 1334 its parson claimed that the chapel on the bridge was in his parish. (fn. 76) This may be the church which stood on the south side of Orchard Lane. (fn. 77) It was granted to St. Neot's Priory by William, son of Berengar. (fn. 78) No later mention has been found than 1372. (fn. 79)
A church dedicated to the HOLY TRINITY was also owned by St. Neot's Priory in the 12th century. (fn. 80) The priory at this date paid an annual rent of two marks to Huntingdon Priory which was finally discharged for them in 1220 by Roger de Lovetot. (fn. 81) Mention of the parish is found as late as 1434, but already in 1364 the church was said to be derelict for want of parishioners. (fn. 82)
The church of ST. ANDREW stood near the stream at the north end of the town probably on the site of Dryden's Walk and land called St. Andrew's Close. (fn. 83) The Abbot of Ramsey owned the church which previous to 1086 had been seized by Eustace the Sheriff. In 1086 it was owned by the Bishop of Coutance, but was still claimed by Ramsey. (fn. 84) The abbot later substantiated his claim and in 1178 received a papal confirmation of the church. (fn. 85) A bequest was made to St. Andrew's church in 1483, but after this date, unlike the other churches then existing, it is not mentioned in the wills of the 15th and 16th centuries, so we may presume it was becoming disused. (fn. 86) Presentations were made as late as 1529, but very shortly after the church was said to be in a state of decay. (fn. 87)
Hinchingbrooke Priory held the advowson of ST. PETER'S church (fn. 88) which stood at the bottom of St. Peter's Lane. (fn. 89) During the 14th century the prioress was in the habit of leasing both St. Peter's church and St. Michael's chapel to the rector of St. Andrew's church, leading to various suits about tithes eventually decided in the prioress's favour in 1415. (fn. 90) No names of incumbents have been found and at the Dissolution it was in ruins. (fn. 91)
Two churches in Huntingdon, dedicated respectively to ST. BOTOLPH and ST. NICHOLAS, belonged to Huntingdon Priory, but no names of incumbents have been found (fn. 92) and their positions are unknown.
Speed's map marks the site of ST. GEORGE'S church in George Street east of where the modern church of St. John stood. No earlier mention has been found of it.
A parish and church of ST. LAWRENCE undoubtedly existed in the 13th century, (fn. 93) but no presentations to it have been found. Its site is probably in the garden of Castle Hill House.
There is no pre-Reformation evidence of the existence of ST. GERMAIN'S church in Huntingdon. St. Germain's Street, not far from the Market Place, is marked on Speed's map as Germans Lane. (fn. 94) It is thought that this church was on the north side of this street where bones and other traces of the graveyard have been found.
There was a chapel in Huntingdon Castle which belonged to Huntingdon Priory in the 12th century. (fn. 95)
A chapel, dedicated to ST. THOMAS THE MARTYR and ST. KATHERINE was apparently built on the bridge about 1331. The chaplain was supported out of the alms of those coming to the bridge, and was to celebrate mass daily. (fn. 96) The chapel was granted to the master of St. John's Hospital in 1337; The parson of St. Clement, as already stated, claimed that the chapel was in his parish. (fn. 97) In 1370 the Archdeacon of Huntingdon ordered a collection of alms for rebuilding the chapel. (fn. 98) There are no traces of its existence, but it has been suggested that a cross cut in one of the spaces formed by the buttresses marks its site. (fn. 99)
In the 18th century there was a Quaker Meeting House in Huntingdon and also a chapel of the Countess of Huntingdon's sect. (fn. 100) At the present day there is a Wesleyan chapel originally built in 1811 and a Union chapel of Baptists and Congregationalists built in 1826. A Roman Catholic church was built in 1872.
There was a chantry in St. John's church founded in 1336 by John Russel to celebrate daily mass for the souls of himself and his family and of the king. (fn. 101) The presentation was exercised privately until the close of the 14th century, when it passed to Huntingdon Priory who owned the church. The dedication was to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (fn. 102)
Margaret Holmes, by will proved at Peterborough 18 Dec. 1895, gave to the trustees of the Huntingdon Wesleyan Chapel £90, the interest to be applied towards the cleaning and general care of the chapel. The endowment now consists of a sum of £80 1s. 9d. Consols with the Official Trustees producing £2 annually in dividends which are applied by the trustees of the chapel in accordance with the directions contained in the will of the donor.
Archdeacon Francis Gerald Vesey, by will proved 4 June 1915, gave to the trustees of the Archdeaconry Library £200, the interest to be applied towards the repair or benefit of the library. The endowment of the charity now consists of £271 0s. 5d. 5 per cent. War Stock 1929–47 with the Official Trustees producing £13 11s. yearly in dividends which are applied towards the upkeep of the library.
The following charities comprise the Municipal Pension and Almshouse Charities, and are regulated by schemes of the Charity Commissioners dated 26 September 1899 and 27 September 1907 as varied by a scheme of the said Commissioners dated 1 August 1916.
John Bardolph, by will dated 25 June 1772, bequeathed the dividends on £400 South Sea Annuities to the vicar of St. Mary, the mayor and senior aldermen to be applied in furnishing four new coats and shoes to four poor men chosen from the parishes of St. Benedict, St. Mary, All Saints and St. John, the remainder of the dividends to be laid out in coals to be distributed to the poor of the parish of St. Mary. The endowment of the charity now consists of £544 2s. 10d. Consols with the Official Trustees, producing £13 12s. 0d. annually in dividends.
Robert Cooke, by will dated 1637, gave to the poor of Huntingdon a yearly rent charge of £5 issuing out of land known as the Bridge Close, containing 5 acres in Godmanchester. The land is now in the occupation of Mr. A. G. Hall and the £5 is received annually.
Dr. Thomas King, by will dated in 1667, gave a cottage and land containing 8 a. 3 r. 16 p. at Great Catworth, the rent to be distributed in coals to poor widows. The land was sold in 1915 and the proceeds invested in the purchase of £323 0s. 5d. 5 per cent. War Stock 1929–47, in the name of the official trustees, and produces £16 3s. annually in dividends.
George Raitt, by deed dated 18 Jan. 1780, gave three yearly rent charges of £5, £1 and £1 issuing out of Cromwell House estate, Huntingdon, the £5 to be distributed among the old and poor inhabitants of Huntingdon and the annuities of 20s. each to be laid out in coals for the old and poor inhabitants of the parishes of St. Mary, All Saints and St. John. The estate is now in the occupation of Mr. E. H. Fisher, and the three rent charges are received annually.
Richard Fishbourne, by will dated 30 March 1625, gave to the wardens and commonalty of the Company of Mercers, among other large sums of money, the sum of £2,000 to purchase land and hereditaments to the clear yearly value of £100, and to distribute the same to some good and charitable uses in Huntingdon, as in the maintenance of a lecture, etc. The legacy of £2,000 with other charitable funds was laid out in 1630 in the purchase of an estate at Chalgrave. The endowment of the charity now consists of a proportion being that which 2,000 bears to 6,560 of the net rents of the Chalgrave estate, a yearly sum of £60 paid by the Mercers Company for a sermon to be preached every Sunday in one of the parish churches in Huntingdon, a sum of £130 invested in copyhold property held of the Manor of Alconbury and a sum of £516 7s. 2d. Consols with the Official Trustees producing £12 18s. annually in dividends. Note:— A yearly sum of £18 out of the net income of this charity and any residue of income in excess of £50 constitute the endowment of the Municipal Charities Educational Foundation.
In addition to the above the Almshouse Building known as St. John's Hospital forms part of the endowment of the municipal pension and almshouse charities together with yearly sums of £15 and £104 paid by the governors of St. John's Hospital and Grammar School Foundation for the repairs of the Almshouse building and for the stipends of the inmates of the Almshouses.
The charities are administered by a body of trustees appointed under the provisions of the above mentioned scheme of 26 Sept. 1899, consisting of the rector of All Saints' and the vicar of St. Mary, ex-officio trustees, four representative trustees appointed by the borough council and five co-optative trustees. The income of the charities, which in 1925 amounted to about £320, is applied in accordance with the provisions of the schemes of 26 Sept. 1899 and 27 Sept. 1907.
Gabriel Newton, by deed dated 15 March 1760, settled certain freehold estates in the county of Leicester upon trust, out of the rents and profits to pay to the mayor, etc., of Huntingdon £26 yearly towards the clothing, schooling, and educating boys in the borough of Huntingdon. The endowment of the charity now consists of £823 9s. 1d. Consols with the Official Trustees producing £20 11s. 8d. annually in dividends together with a yearly sum of £26 received from the corporation of Leicester which are expended in paying the fees of several boys and girls attending the Grammar School. The trustees of the charity appointed under the provisions of a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 17 July 1900, consist of the rector of All Saints' with St. John, the vicar of St. Mary with St. Benedict (ex-officio trustees), one representative trustee, and three co-optative trustees.
George Sayer, by deed dated 13 March 1737, gave several closes of land in Huntingdon, the rents and profits to be paid to the vicar of St. Mary so long as he should continue to read the prayers in one or other of the churches in Huntingdon twice every day. The whole land has now been sold and the proceeds invested in the purchase of £613 3s. 8d. Consols and £1,184 4s. 6d. 5 per cent. War Stock 1929–47, with the Official Trustees. The income of the charity, amounting to £74 10s. 6d. annually in dividends, is paid to the vicar of St. Mary, who reads the prayers daily in accordance with the directions contained in the above mentioned indenture.
St. John's and All Saints' Church Estate. The endowment of the charity consists of land containing 4 a. or. 11 p., which it is understood was given to provide for the tolling of All Saints' church bell every morning. The land is let by the churchwardens of St. John's and All Saints', and the rent, which in 1925 was £7 15s., is paid to the sexton for ringing the curfew.
Lammas Rights. The earliest mention of these rights is in an indenture dated 12 Oct. 1564. They consisted of an exclusive right of the freemen and widows of freemen to the pasturage of lands known as Lammas Lands in Huntingdon. These rights have from time to time been sold and the endowment of the charity now consists of a sum of £9,421 17s. 10d. Consols £373 13s. 4d. 5 per cent. War Stock 1929–47, and £185 13s. 3d. 3½ per cent Conversion Stock, producing about £260 per annum in dividends, which are paid to about 24 freemen and widows in sums of money. The charity is administered by the town council. See page 134.
Mrs. Sarah Laura Sophia Geldart, by her will dated 7 Aug. 1902, directed her husband to distribute and divide the net residue of her estate among such hospitals or charitable institutions as he should select. The testatrix's husband predeceased her, and by a scheme of distribution, approved by an order of the High Court dated 5 June 1916, sums of £5,000 and £1,000 were to be paid to the Official Trustees to form part of the endowment of the Huntingdon County Hospital and the Huntingdon and Godmanchester District Nurses' Association. These sums are now represented by £5,099 19s. 7d. 5 per cent. War Stock 1929–47, and £984 18s. 9d. like stock with the Official Trustees, producing £255 and £49 5s. annually in dividends.
The following charities pertain to the parish of St. John:
The Sweeting and Slow charity regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 7 July 1905.
Henry Sweeting, by will dated 18 March 1807, gave £100 to be vested in funds in the names of the rector of St. John and the vicar of St. Mary, the dividends thereof to be laid out in the purchase of bread and given to the poor of St. John's parish on Christmas Day. The endowment now consists of £101 11s. 4d. Consols with the Official Trustees, producing £2 10s. 8d. annually in dividends.
Elizabeth Slow, by will proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury 10 Feb. 1835, bequeathed £50 to the rector of St. John and the vicar of St. Mary the income to be applied in giving blankets to four poor women of good character, in each parish. The endowment now consists of £54 12s. 10d. Consols with the Official Trustees; half of which (£27 6s. 5d. Consols) was carried to the United Charities in the parish of St. Mary.
The income of the charities amounting to £3 4s. 4d. yearly in dividends is applied in accordance with the provisions of the above mentioned scheme, for the benefit of the poor of St. John. The charities are administered by the rector and churchwardens of St. John (ex-officio trustees), and one representative trustee appointed by the borough council of Huntingdon.
The following charities comprise the United Charities of the parish of St. Mary, and are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 13 Nov. 1900:—
Henry Blaine, by will dated 16 Feb. 1796, gave £20, the interest to be applied every New Year's Day amongst the poor of Mutton Lane in the parish of St. Mary. The endowment now consists of £21 7s. 4d. Consols.
George Lyson, by will dated 31 Oct. 1710, gave £50, the interest thereof to provide bread for the poor of St. Mary's parish to be distributed by the churchwardens and overseers. The endowment now consists of £54 11s. 3d. Consols.
Charles Veasey, by will dated 10 Oct. 1854, gave £50 to the vicar and churchwardens, the interest to be distributed to the poor of St. Mary in bread and coals. The endowment now consists of £54 11s. 5d. Consols.
Elizabeth Slow. An account of this charity is given under the parish of Huntingdon St. John. The part applicable for the parish of St. Mary consists of £27 6s. 5d. Consols set aside under the provisions of the scheme of 7 July 1905 to form part of the endowment of the United Charities.
The several sums of stock are with the Official Trustees.
Woodward's Gift. Thomas Woodward, by will dated 30 Jan. 1720, charged a house in High Street, Huntingdon, with a yearly payment of 10s. to be disposed of in bread to the poor of St. Mary by the minister and churchwardens. The rent charge now issues out of a house, shop, and premises known as 31 High Street, in the occupation of Mr. E. Sarll. The rent charge is paid regularly.
The income of the charities amounting to £4 8s. 8d. yearly is applied in accordance with the provisions of the above mentioned scheme to the poor of the parish of St. Mary. The charities are administered by the rector and churchwardens (ex-officio trustees), and one representative trustee appointed by the borough council of Huntingdon.
The charity consisting of the Manse and Trust Property which are held in connection with the dissenting chapel known as Trinity Church, are comprised in a deed poll dated 17 May 1871, and indentures dated 14 May 1907 and 30 Aug. 1910. The manse and property were sold under authority of a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 1 Feb. 1921, and the endowment now consists of £1,166 9s. 3d. 5 per cent. War Stock 1929–47 with the Official Trustees, producing £58 6s. 6d. yearly in dividends, which are applied towards the expenses of maintaining divine worship in the above mentioned church.