Parishes: Bury cum Hepmangrove

Pages 164-167

A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1932.

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In this section


Biri, Byrig (x cent.), Byri (xii cent.), Byry (xiii cent.).

Hegmangrave (xi cent.), Hecmundegrave (xii cent.), Heitmundgrave, Hetumgrove, Heytmongrave (xiv cent.).

The parish of Bury cum Hepmangrove lies to the south of Ramsey. It is of very irregular shape, projecting a considerable distance into the fen on the east side of the road from Ramsey to St. Ives. From east to west at its widest part, it is about 2½ miles and from north to south about 1¾ miles. It consists of 1446 acres of which 896 are highland and 489 fen. The land rises on both sides of the brook which runs through the parish from north-east to south-west from 16 ft. above ordnance datum at the brook to 66 ft. on the north-east side and 50 ft. on the south-west. All the fenland and much of the highland is ploughed. The soil is a strong black loam and the subsoil clay. The main crops are wheat, oats, beans and peas on the highland, and potatoes, celery, sugar-beet and the ordinary cereals on the fenland.

Hepmangrove seems originally to have been connected with Ramsey parish, and the brook running through the village of Bury formed the boundary between it and Bury. From the deeds relating to tenements and lands situated within its boundaries, it appears to have been, before the Dissolution of the Monasteries, a populous suburb of Ramsey. Both Bury and Hepmangrove lay within the Banlieu. (fn. 1)

Bury and Hepmangrove, which now form one village, lie somewhat scattered along the road from Ramsey to St. Ives. They still retain several 17th-century half-timber thatched or tiled cottages, some of which have been refaced with brick, but most of the houses are of brick with slate or tiled roofs. At the southern end of the village is Bury Hall, a brick house with a slate roof, built by Mr. Abraham Staffurth about 1860, and now the residence of Mr. William Cordell. A short distance northward, after passing some cottages and some recently built county council houses, is the church, occupying a commanding position on a slight eminence. To the east of the church is the rectory built by Lady Olivia Bernard Sparrow in 1845 and conveyed to the living in 1850. Opposite the church is the old Manor House of Bury, a late 16th-century half-timber building with tiled roof, which is now divided into two tenements. The land falls somewhat steeply here to the brook; the former ancient stone bridge of one arch which crossed it was replaced in 1925 by the present somewhat wider bridge. The north-west side of the bridge is in Hepmangrove in which the greater part of the village lies. On the north side of the road is the parish school built by Lady Olivia Bernard Sparrow in or about 1845 and handed over to the rector and churchwardens in 1878 by the Duke of Manchester. (fn. 2) Further along the road towards Ramsey is a 17th-century timber-framed house with diagonal chimney shafts, the residence of Miss Rowell. On the north side of a barn belonging to the house are the letters [see below] showing presumably that the house was built by John Campion, who in 1671 married Alice Cox and died in 1712. Next to this house is Hepmangrove Manor House, a white brick house faced with stone and tiled, the residence of Mr. E. Rowell.

Inscription on barn (see preceding paragraph)

A little way down the road to Upwood is the Green Dragon, formerly a public house (now a private residence), behind which in a little field the church of Hepmangrove is said to have stood, but no remains of it exist above ground. Further north along the road are the Britannia Iron Works, formerly the type foundry of Messrs. Hughes and Kimber but now disused. Northward of this is Ramsey railway station, which is in Bury parish. Manor Farm House, a white brick house with a tiled roof, in the southern part of the parish, was built by Lady Olivia Bernard Sparrow about 1855 and is now the property of Mr. Joseph Mitcham. In a field south of the old Manor House of Bury, the site of a Roman Camp is marked on the Ordnance Survey map of 1900, but there seems to be no evidence of such a camp, nor that a mound (fn. 3) marked in the same field is a tumulus.

J. A. Poulter, the engraver, lived in Bury and produced many etchings of the neighbourhood at the end of the 19th century.


At the time of our earliest evidence relating to BURY, it was a berewick or out-lying district probably with a separate organisation, attached to Wistow or Kingston (q.v.) and formed part of the grant by Oswald Archbishop of York to Ramsey Abbey, about 974. Some time before 1178, when Pope Alexander granted a confirmation to Ramsey Abbey, Bury had become the head of this holding, and Wistow and Raveley were berewicks to it. (fn. 4) Shortly after this date, at all events before 1252, Bury, Wistow and Raveley had become separate manors. (fn. 5) Bury and Hepmangrove, under the name of Bury cum Hepmangrove, appear to have been united for certain purposes before the dissolution of Ramsey. (fn. 6) After the Dissolution, however, they were granted on 4 March 1539–40, as separate manors, to Richard Williams alias Cromwell and followed the descent of Ramsey (q.v.) until 1662, when Henry Williams and Anne his wife granted the manor of Bury cum Hepmangrove to John Bambridge. (fn. 7) In 1675 the manor was apparently settled by William Maynard and Mary his wife, Nicholas Buckeridge and Sarah his wife and Simon Dyott and Jane his wife, (fn. 8) and in the following year the same parties conveyed it to Sir John Bernard, bart., of Brampton. (fn. 9) In the latter conveyance there is a warranty by the three ladies and their heirs who may have been the coheirs of Bambridge. From the date of the sale to Sir John Bernard the manor has passed with that of the Bernards' seat at Brampton Park (fn. 10) (q.v.). The Duke of Manchester is the present owner.

Bernard of Brampton, baronet. Argent a bear rampant sable muzzled or.

The earliest reference to HEPMANGROVE is in the statutes of Abbot Aldwin (1091–1102) under which the profits from the manor were assigned to the cellarer of Ramsey Abbey for finding and mending the utensils of the refectory, bakehouse and brewhouse. (fn. 11) From a survey of the time of Henry I, three tenants each rendered one or two bolls of honey. (fn. 12) During the 13th and 14th centuries, much of the land in Hepmangrove was granted for religious purposes. In 1352 Philip de Clarvaux gave lands, the profits of which were to be expended in prayers for his own soul, and those of Emma his wife and his ancestors. (fn. 13) In 1307 John de Lincoln, parson of the church of Cranfield, and others, granted lands here and in Ramsey and Bury for finding tapers to burn before the tomb of St. Ive in the Abbey church. (fn. 14) Other lands were given by Henry Malpas in 1396 for the maintenance of the Lady Chapel in the Abbey church, then newly built. (fn. 15)

We have an instance here of a family arrangement, not perhaps unfrequent in the 14th century. In 1362 William de Morton conveyed lands in Hepmangrove formerly belonging to Richard de Morton, possibly his father, to Thomas de Caunville and Fina his wife. (fn. 16) Thomas dealt with the property in 1372–5, (fn. 17) and in 1389 conveyed his lands to John his son and Alice his wife, and their children. By this deed provision was made that Thomas should have the best chamber in their house at Hepmangrove, and should board and have an allowance of 20s. a year, which allowance was to be increased to 40s. should he not approve of the board provided for him. (fn. 18)

The manor remained with Ramsey Abbey till the Dissolution, when it was granted with Ramsey (q.v.) and Bury on 4 March 1539–40 to Richard Williams alias Cromwell and since then has followed the descent of the manor of Bury (q.v.).


The church of HOLY CROSS is built of rubble with Barnack stone dressings and the roofs are covered with slates and tiles. It consists of a chancel (27 ft. by 14½ ft.), nave (48 ft. by 19½ ft.), a north aisle (7½ ft. wide), west tower (11 ft. by 10 ft.), and formerly a western chapel (about 35 ft. by 21½ ft.).

An early 12th-century church which stood here probably consisted only of a chancel and nave; the east and west walls of the nave of this church survive. Early in the 13th century the north aisle with its nave arcade was added and in the middle of the same century the western tower was built. Possibly owing to defects in the foundations, the north wall of the north aisle was rebuilt in the 14th century. About 1400, considerable alterations were again made, the chancel and south wall of the nave were rebuilt and new windows inserted in the north aisle. Towards the end of the 15th century, the large chapel west of the tower was built, possibly as a Lady Chapel. (fn. 19) The chancel was shortened by about 13 ft., probably in the 16th century, as may be seen by the remains of two windows at the eastern angles of the church. The porch was built and the church restored in 1889.

The chancel has a modern east window of three lights. There is a re-set piscina on the south side of the window and in the north wall are two lockers, one over the other. The eastern window on the south side is of the 15th century, of two cinquefoiled lights under a quatrefoiled spandrel in a four-centred head. The western window on this side and that opposite to it are of the date of the rebuilding of about 1400. They are each of one cinquefoiled light which has been carried down below a transom to form a low-side window. In both cases the low-side window retains its shutter, but on the north side this has been plastered internally. The window on the north side has some glass contemporary with the rebuilding of about 1400 which consists of quarries and a border of crowns. Between the windows on the south side is a 15th-century doorway with a four-centred head. The chancel arch belongs to the early 12th-century church. It is semi-circular, of two bold moulded orders springing from half-round shafts with richly carved capitals and moulded bases. The 15th-century rood screen is of five bays. The open panels above have trefoiled ogee heads and the close panels below have cinquefoiled heads with carved foliated spandrels. The screen was formerly in a dilapidated condition and was repaired by the Rev. A. R. Pain with his own hands, after he was appointed to the living in 1845.

The north arcade of three bays is a good specimen of early 13th-century work. It has two-centred arches springing from octagonal piers with stiff-leaved capitals and moulded bases. The present windows were inserted in the south wall in the 15th century. The mid-13th-century arch of the south doorway was reset from the old wall. Beside it is a stoup which was found in rebuilding the bridge over the brook in the village in 1925. The clearstory, with its three windows on each side, was apparently added about 1400 when the south wall was built. The west doorway with the walls on either side also formed a part of the early 12th-century church. The arch is of three orders, the two outer of which have roll mouldings resting on jamb shafts with moulded bases and carved capitals. The doorway has a tympanum formed of square stones set diamondwise. The early 14thcentury lectern at the east end of the nave is a rare example of its kind. It is of oak, carved in the front with five trefoiled arches, at one side with a trefoiled ogee-headed opening and on the other with oak leaves. The desk has a design of foliage. The pulpit is modern. There is a considerable number of plain oak seats of early 16th-century date. There is an early 17th-century oak chest in the church.

Plan of Bury Church

The windows in the north aisle are all a part of the rebuilding of about 1400. Each has two cinquefoiled lights in a square head and each contains some original glass. The north doorway is of a little earlier date and belongs to the rebuilding of the north wall in the 14th century. Remains of the old roof appear below the plaster. At the west end of the aisle is the font dating from about 1200. The bowl was originally square, but the angles have been cut off to form an octagon. It stands on a drum pedestal resting on a square base. (fn. 20)

The west tower is of curious construction. It is of three stages with an embattled parapet with large gargoyles at three of the angles. On the north, south and west sides of the ground stage are two-centred arches, springing from corbels, which were originally open. On the east side is the west doorway of the nave. The western arch became the entrance to the west chapel, but it and the openings on the north and south have been blocked in modern times. The second stage has on each face except the east a long lancet window, and the bell chamber, which has a stone roof, has two lancet windows on each face. (fn. 21)

All that now remains of the late 15th-century west chapel is its east end, which is built of ashlar faced stone. On each side of the archway into the tower is a 15th-century niche with a mutilated tabernacle over it. The remains of a window may be seen at the eastern end of both the north and south walls.

There are monuments in nave to Elizabeth West (d. 1842), Thomas Whiston M.A. who succeeded his father in the curacy of this parish in 1793 (d. 1803); Isaac Slack who served in the 2nd Batt. Royal Rifles and was killed in the Boer War 1899–1902; and on the east wall a marble slab with the names of thirteen parishioners who were killed in the Great War.

There are three bells. The first bears the inscription 'C and G. Mears founders London 1853.' The second is a 14th-century bell with inscription 'Ave Maria,' probably by John and William Rofford, and the third bears the inscription 'Charles Newman made mee 1700. W. Baker T. Robinson.'

The plate consists of an Elizabethan cup with engraved ornament, without mark; a modern plated chalice inscribed '23 Dec. A.D. 1887,' two modern plated patens and a plated flagon, also a pewter plate.

The registers are as follows: (i) Baptisms, marriages and burials 1561–1696; (ii) baptisms and burials, 1707–1812, marriages 1707–1754; (iii) marriages 1754–1812, and the usual modern books.

The churchyard, formerly used as the burial place for the parishes of Wistow, Upwood and Little Raveley, has been lately enlarged. As late as 1877 the portion at the south-east corner, in which the bodies from Little Raveley were buried, was still fenced off from the rest of the churchyard by a hedge. On the south side of the churchyard is the base of an ancient cross. The part of a cross lying near to it was found in the rectory garden about 1868, but possibly does not belong to the cross which stood on the base.


In 1086 there was a church at Wistow which probably served its berewicks of Bury and Little Raveley. As, however, the town of Ramsey grew in the 12th century, the inconvenience of a parish altar in the monastic church led, we may suppose, to the building of a chapel subordinate to Wistow at Bury and near to the town of Ramsey. This chapel, which is described as 'situated next the monastery where your (the abbot's) servants hear divine service,' was confirmed to the abbot of Ramsey by papal bull dated 26 April 1139. (fn. 22) From architectural evidence this confirmation was made probably very shortly after the church was built. (fn. 23) Before 1178 Bury had become the parish church with Wistow and Little Raveley as its chapelries. (fn. 24) By 1199 the chapel of Upwood had been attached to Bury. All parishioners of Bury and its chapelries were buried in Bury churchyard and the church of Bury took the great tithes. Wistow, however, was granted rights of burial in 1351 when it became a rectory.

Bury being within the banlieu of Ramsey (q.v.), where the abbots had episcopal rights, the abbots, as patrons, collated to the church without presentation to the bishop. After the Dissolution, the advowson followed the descent of the manor; the lords of the manor claimed the church as a donative and the incumbents were described as curates. In 1868 the lord of the manor relinquished the right to a donative but retained the patronage, thus making the living a rectory. The Duke of Manchester is the present patron.

In Bacon's Liber Regis (1534–5) there is reference to the church of St. Mary of Hepmangrove, and a tradition exists that there was formerly a church there. In the Valor Ecclesiasticus (1535) the chapel of the Blessed Mary of Redybone is mentioned (iv, 272), and in 1538 we have references to the churchyard of Our Lady of Bury and Our Lady's Gild at Redebourn, and also the churchyard of St. Mary of Bury (see note 17 above). The church of Bury being dedicated to the Holy Cross, it may, perhaps, be suggested that the churchyard, chapel and gild of Our Lady relate to the chapel at the west end of Bury church, built possibly to serve the inhabitants of Hepmangrove, and that Redebourn may be an alternative name for Hepmangrove.


Benefaction Fund. The sum of £50, being the amount of sundry small benefactions for the poor of the parish, was for some considerable time placed out at interest and the interest with other sums subscribed by the parishioners was distributed in fuel among the poor. The endowment of the charity now consists of £54 0s. 11d. Consols with the Official Trustees producing £1 0s. 7d. annually in dividends which are distributed in money to 14 poor persons. The charity is administered by the minister and churchwardens.

Mrs. Elizabeth West, by her will dated 5 March 1841 and proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury 10 May 1842, gave the sum of £500 the income to be distributed on Christmas Day amongst poor widows and other poor men and women of 40 years of age and upwards. The endowment now consists of £521 12s. 4d. Consols with the Official Trustees producing £13 0s. 8d. annually in dividends, which are distributed by the minister and churchwardens among about 50 people in accordance with the directions contained in the will


  • 1. See below under Ramsey; P.R.O. Anct. D. A. 1240, 1248, 1249, &c.
  • 2. Deed held by the rector.
  • 3. This mound is said by an old inhabitant to be the site of a windmill.
  • 4. Cartul. Mon. de Rames. (Rolls Ser.) ii, 135.
  • 5. a Ibid. i, 341, 352.
  • 6. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 271. Hepmangrove also appears here separately.
  • 7. Feet of F. Hunts. East. 14 Chas. II.
  • 8. Feet of F. Hunts. Hil. 26–27 Chas. II.
  • 9. Ibid. Hil. 27, 28 Chas. II.
  • 10. Feet of F. Hunts. Trin. 4 Will. & Mary; Recov. R. Mich. 9 Geo. III, ro. 334; East. 43 Geo. III, ro. 162.
  • 11. Cartul. Mon. de Rames. (Rolls Ser.) iii, 163–4; see also later statutes, ibid. 233–4.
  • 12. Ibid. 271.
  • 13. Anct. D. (P.R.O.) A. 1363.
  • 14. Cal. Pat. 1385–9, p. 327.
  • 15. Ibid. 1396–9, p. 32.
  • 16. Cal. Anct. D. (P.R.O.) A. 1299.
  • 17. a Ibid. A. 5151, 5106.
  • 18. Ibid. A. 1240, 1386.
  • 19. Robert Qwytkake in 1538 directed that his body should be buried in the churchyard of Our Lady of Bury (Wills, Archd. of Hunt. Reg. vi, fol. 30) and T. Dymdille, in 1538, that his body be buried in the churchyard of St. Mary of Bury (ibid. fol. 85). Either the dedication of Bury church must have been changed or the churchyard was perhaps in these instances called after the chapel. There was a chapel of the Blessed Virgin at Bury in the 16th century belonging to Ramsey Abbey, which contained an image of the Virgin. This image was an object of special devotion. The chapel can scarcely be other than the western chapel at Bury church. Cambs. and Hunts. Arch. Soc. Trans. i, 413–18.
  • 20. A fragment of conventional ornament on one face of the bowl has been mistaken to represent the date MCL or MCCC (Cambs. and Hunts. Arch. Soc. Trans. i, 409).
  • 21. The Rev. C. H. Evelyn White calls attention to traces of an octagon lantern, 'which doubtless lighted the fen' (Cambs. and Hunts. Arch. Soc. Trans. i, 406), but there seems to be no evidence of such a lantern.
  • 22. Cartul. Mon. de Rames. (Rolls Ser.) ii, 144.
  • 23. a Cf. Cartul. Rames. i, 246.
  • 24. See Bull of Pope Alexander III, ibid. 135, 146–7.
  • 25. London Gaz. 20 Mar. 1868, p. 1773.