Parishes: Yaxley

Pages 241-247

A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.

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In this section


Geakeslea, Iaceslea (x cent.); Jacheslei (xi cent.); Jakeslea (xii, xiv cent.); Yakesle (xiv cent.); Yaxley (xvi cent.).

Northmannescros, Normannescros (x cent.); Normanescros (xi cent.); Normancros (xiii cent.).

The parish contains 4,287 acres of land, and 11 of water. The subsoil is Oxford Clay in the high lands but Alluvium in the fen district in the southern and eastern parts of the parish. The Great North Road follows the western boundary, and the main line of the London and North Eastern Railway runs nearly parallel to it, with the Yaxley and Farcet station about a mile to the north-east of Yaxley village. A large part of the parish is fen. Yaxley Fen was included in the Earl of Bedford's great drainage scheme undertaken in the reign of Charles I, (fn. 1) and other parts were embanked and drained under a private Act of Parliament of 1830. (fn. 2) Neolithic implements in the higher land and a bronze axe in Yaxley Fen have been dug up, (fn. 3) while there are evidences of the existence throughout the Roman occupation of a small fen-side village, built of wattle and daub, the inhabitants of which used pottery and ornaments of Romano-British manufacture. (fn. 4) The church and older part of the village stand on the high land to the north-west of the fen. Yaxley was one of the most important possessions of the Benedictine monastery of Thorney and developed into a small market town of which the abbot was lord. It never attained any status as a borough, though in practice the inhabitants probably enjoyed some measure of control. Thus in 1305, Edward I made a grant of pavage to 'the bailiffs and good men of the town' for five years (fn. 5) and a similar grant for three years was made in 1378. (fn. 6) Certain royal proclamations were also sent to the bailiffs of the town for publication. (fn. 7) Whether the townspeople ever made any attempt to obtain the right to elect their own bailiffs is doubtful, but in 1390, some of the abbot's villeins had been refusing to pay certain rents and customs due to the abbey, (fn. 8) and in 1443 his quarrels with the townspeople appear to have resulted in his excommunicating some of the most important and an appeal to the Pope was necessary before peace was made. (fn. 9)

There are remains of ditches at the Manor House. (fn. 10) In the village there is a public hall for meetings.

The parish was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1767, (fn. 11) the award being enrolled on the Recovery Rolls for 1769. (fn. 12)

NORMAN CROSS is a hamlet in the parish, which gave its name to one of the hundreds of the county and is now the name of one of the petty sessional divisions and also of a Rural District Council. Large barracks were built during the Napoleonic wars in 1796–7 for the accommodation of French prisoners of war, (fn. 13) to whom a memorial was raised in 1914. They were dismantled in 1816.


The manor of YAXLEY formed one of the chief and also one of the earliest endowments of the Abbey of Thorney. From King Edgar's charter to the abbey, it appears that Bishop Ethelwold of Winchester obtained 20 houses (mansas) in Yaxley from Wulfstan by an exchange witnessed by the king and the Witan, and 25 houses in 'the other Yaxley' and Farcet from Aelfric Child, and then gave them to the abbey, (fn. 14) the two Yaxleys being obviously the estates of Wulfstan and of Aelfric Child respectively. In 1086, Yaxley was assessed for geld at 15 hides of land, (fn. 15) and there was land for 20 ploughs.

The abbey seems to have held the whole of Yaxley as one manor in frankalmoin, but certain tenants early in the 13th century owed suit directly to the shire court. (fn. 16) Later in the same century, a detailed rental shows that a considerable portion of the land had been given to various officials of the abbey, the cellarer, the pittancer, the kitchen steward, the farmer of Thorney, the almoner and the precentor, who all had sub-tenants. (fn. 17) Although the services due from the villeins and cottars are enumerated in one rental, from another of the same period it appears that they were entirely commuted for money payments, the villeins paying 20s. a year for each virgate of 30 acres. (fn. 18) In 1452, certain tenants paid individually for sheriff's aid and suit at the county court, generally 1d. a year and sometimes a capon as well. (fn. 19) After the dissolution of Thorney Abbey, Yaxley manor remained in the Crown, (fn. 20) until Edward VI granted it in 1550 to Princess Elizabeth, (fn. 21) who held it throughout her life. (fn. 22) It seems to have been the practice of Thorney Abbey to let all their demesnes at farm for a money rent. (fn. 23) They granted a lease of the site of the manor, known as the Burysted as late as 1533, to Richard Ashwell for 40 years at a rent of £12 13s. 4d. (fn. 24) In 1565–6 Queen Elizabeth gave a lease of the Burysted to Robert Payne for 21 years, (fn. 25) and in 1580 she leased the reversion of it to Edward Emery for 21 years. (fn. 26) Again in 1601–2 she gave another lease of the Burysted to Peter Proby for 60 years. (fn. 27) She, however, retained the manor, which passed on her death to James I. He granted it first to Queen Anne in 1604 as part of her jointure, (fn. 28) and, after her death, to the use of Charles I, then Prince of Wales. On his succeeding to the throne, the manor came into his own possession and he granted it in 1628 to the City of London. (fn. 29) In 1632 the City sold it to Heneage Proby, (fn. 30) who in 1625 had succeeded his father, Sir Peter Proby, (fn. 31) the lessor of the Burysted. From this time Yaxley was held by the Proby family (fn. 32) until the death of the last Earl of Carysfort in 1909, when it passed to his nephew, the late Colonel D. J. Proby, who sold it in 1920 to Mr. W. S. Abbott, of Thornhaugh (Northants), the present owner.

The Abbot of Thorney in 1284 claimed to hold the view of frankpledge freely and to have waifs in the manor of Yaxley by ancient right. (fn. 33) He had tumbrels and a pillory there by reason of the market, and the Yaxley gallows seem to have served for all his Huntingdonshire manors. (fn. 34) He also held the Hundred of Norman Cross, at fee farm, the administration being centred at Yaxley, the most important place in the hundred. (fn. 35)

At the time of the dissolution of the abbey, and probably much earlier, the same official acted as bailiff of the manor and hundred, and consequently the two jurisdictions became much confused. (fn. 36) The system was continued under Henry VIII, (fn. 37) and it was not till Charles I sold the manor to the City of London, and the hundred to Sir Robert Cotton, that any difficulty ensued. It was then discovered that certain rents, claimed from different townships as payments to the hundred, had become absorbed as foreign rents of the manor of Yaxley, and much litigation ensued. (fn. 38)

Edward I granted the right of free warren in the demesne lands at Yaxley to the Abbey of Thorney in 1302. (fn. 39) In 1303 the abbot complained of various people breaking into his closes in the manor. (fn. 40)

In 1617, James I granted free warren to Sir Henry Fynes in all his lands in Yaxley. (fn. 41)

In 1279, there were two windmills in Yaxley, (fn. 42) though in the 16th century only one is mentioned, and its rent seems to have dropped from 20s. a year paid at the time of the dissolution of Thorney Abbey to 3s. in 1632. (fn. 43) The celebrated stone mill may have been built in the 17th century. In Domesday Book no fisheries are mentioned as attached to the manor of Yaxley, (fn. 44) but in 1279 there were separate fisheries in Yaxley manor at Trundle Mere (Trendelmere, x, xi cent.; Trendelmare, xiii cent.); Dray Mere (Driegmaere, xi cent.; Draymere, xiii cent.) and Foxmere. (fn. 45) These fisheries at Yaxley in the 16th century were let at farm, (fn. 46) and a fishery at Pig's Water is mentioned, but about 1604 it was said to be decayed. (fn. 47)

The Abbey of Thorney claimed to hold a market every Thursday at Yaxley, together with sac and soc, toll and all other customs, by grant of William the Conqueror; and charters of confirmation were obtained from Henry I and other kings. (fn. 48) In 1201, it appears that the abbot had been in the habit of taking the customs at Woodston, 'since,' as it was said, 'they could load and unload better at Woodston than at Yaxley,' (fn. 49) but the real object was to avoid tolls at Peterborough, and also to avoid loss of market dues on goods sold during the overland journey to Yaxley. The abbot's right to do this was challenged by the burgesses of Northampton, who obtained judgment in their favour. Their further claim that he had unjustly doubled the amounts taken was unsuccessful, as the jurors found that he had taken the higher sums since the reign of Henry I, and they also lost their claim for freedom from toll and customs at Yaxley, as they had only been freed from toll by King John. (fn. 50) In 1279 the market was worth 60s. annually, (fn. 51) but how long the market was held does not appear. The value of tolls of the market was returned at 10s. a year shortly after the dissolution of the abbey, (fn. 52) but in 1550, in the grant to Princess Elizabeth only the fair is mentioned, (fn. 53) though in 1562 the Dean and Chapter of Peterborough brought an action against Yaxley to try to suppress the market there, probably on the grounds that King Edgar's charter to Peterborough Abbey granted a market at Peterborough and none other between Stamford and Huntingdon. It was decided that the inhabitants of Yaxley might keep a market on Thursdays, between the feast of the Purification and Pentecost, but eventually the market was entirely suppressed. (fn. 54) A hundred years later it was said that the market had long disappeared. (fn. 55) It was revived for a time while the French prisoners were at Norman Cross.

In 1227, Henry III granted a yearly fair on the Saturday after Ascension Day and on the four following days to Thorney Abbey, (fn. 56) and early in the reign of Edward I the profits from tolls and stallage amounted to 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 57) The fair passed with the manor to Queen Elizabeth, (fn. 58) but at the time of the dissolution the tolls were let at farm, and this was continued after- wards. (fn. 59) Robert Bugge held them in 1555. (fn. 60) Queen Elizabeth granted them for 21 years to Thomas Corne at 10s. a year in 1576–7, (fn. 61) but in 1578 she granted this rent to Edward Emerye. (fn. 62) In 1601–2, she granted the tolls to Peter Proby for 60 years, (fn. 63) but the fair itself followed the descent of the manor and so came with it to Heneage Proby in 1632. (fn. 64) The fair is still held on Ascension Day each year. (fn. 65)

Reproduced by permission of the Controller of H.M. Stationery Office from the Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, Hunts.


The church of ST. PETER consists of a chancel (40 ft. by 16 ft.), north chapel (40 ft. by 15 ft.), south chapel (39½ ft. by 15½ ft.), nave (62 ft. by 19 ft.), north transept (23½ ft. by 16 ft.), south transept (23½ ft. by 16 ft.), north aisle (59½ ft. by 17 ft.), south aisle (59½ ft. by 16½ ft.), west tower (14 ft. by 14 ft.) and south porch. The walls of the porch, the east wall of the chancel and parts of the tower are faced with ashlar, and those of the rest of the church are coursed rubble. The roofs are covered with lead.

The church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086). It seems to be probable that an early church, possibly with a central tower, (fn. 66) was enlarged by the addition of large transepts in the middle of the 13th century, and that in the last decade of the century the remainder of the church was rebuilt and further enlarged; of this period are parts of the walls of the chancel and the two side chapels, and those of the two aisles. Apparently, when this enlargement was made, the old arches between the transepts and the aisles were not altered, but the widened aisles were opened to the transepts by means of narrow arches (which still remain) on the outside of the older ones, which were destroyed in the 15th century. About forty years later the east wall of the chancel was again rebuilt and a large window inserted in the end of the south transept. Towards the middle of the 15th century the west tower and spire were built within the church, possibly to replace a central tower, for shortly afterwards the nave arcades were rebuilt together with the arches between the aisles and the transepts, and the clearstory was added. About the same time the porch was rebuilt. The chancel with its side chapels was thoroughly restored in 1902–3, the nave in 1904, the north transept and aisle in 1908, and the south transept, aisle and west tower and spire in 1909–10.

The late 13th-century chancel has a five-light east window, of c. 1335, with flowing tracery in a twocentred head, on each side of which is a late 14thcentury ogee-headed niche. In the north wall is an original arcade of two bays having pointed arches of two chamfered orders on a column of quatrefoil section with moulded capital and base, a similar attached half-column at the east respond and a moulded corbel on the west; and a rectangular locker. In the south wall is an arcade of three bays similar to those on the north but the columns have filleted shafts and the mouldings of the capitals and bases are rather richer, and the responds have shafted corbels resting on carved heads. The clearstory has, on each side, three original two-light windows with trefoiled ogee lights under a segmental head. The original roof, much restored, has moulded beams and purlins, and the jack-legs rest on shafted corbels rising from the string-course below the windows. The very late 13th-century chancel arch is two-centred, of two chamfered orders resting on semi-octagonal moulded corbels with circular conical shafts. On the wall above the weatherings of the earlier chancel roof remain.

The late 13th-century north chapel has in the east wall a window of three graduated lancet-lights under a continuous label with a little simple tracery in their heads; a rectangular locker; and a 15th-century bracket. In the north wall are two similar three-light windows and a 15th-century four-light window with a four-centred head. In the eastern bay of the south wall is a piscina with trefoiled head and octofoiled basin; and graduated triple sedilia with trefoiled heads under a triple-gabled hood-moulding. In the west wall is a late 13th-century two-centred arch to the transept, the lower order resting on moulded corbels. The roof is modern but includes a few old timbers, and the jack-legs rest on corbels carved with grotesque heads.

The late 13th-century south chapel has in the east wall a three-light east window of c. 1335, having flowing tracery in a two-centred head; and two brackets. The south wall has a three-light window similar to that in the east wall; two original threelight windows with pierced spandrels in pointed heads; a piscina with a two-centred head and a mutilated round basin; another piscina, farther east, with cinquefoiled arch under a square head, and a shovelshaped basin; and two rectangular lockers. In the west wall is a late 13th-century arch similar to that in the north chapel. The roof also is similar to that of the north chapel.

Externally the east end of the church is very fine; the chancel has a low-pitched gable with a plain parapet, and is flanked by two late 14th-century buttresses with gabled tops; the parapeted gable-ends of the side chapels are bent about half-way up and are finished at a lower pitch, and have carved animals at the corners, a collared bear on the north and a crocodile on the south.

The late 15th-century nave has an arcade of four bays on each side, having two-centred arches of one moulded and one chamfered order, resting on narrow piers formed by the continuation downwards of the outer orders of the arch between two attached semioctagonal shafts with moulded capitals and bases, and having on the sides next the nave and aisle small attached shafts, those in the nave carried up to support the jack-legs of the roof. At the north-east corner is a large rood-stairs turret much restored, with a modern doorway to the loft; and at the south-east corner is a blocked square-headed opening in the arcade wall. The clearstory has on each side four three-light windows with four-centred heads. The roof is modern.

The mid 13th-century north transept has in the east wall a single-lancet window; a late 13th-century piscina with trefoiled head and quatrefoiled basin; a rectangular locker; and an almost destroyed bracket. In the north wall is a late 13th-century three-light window with simple tracery under a segmentalpointed head. In the west wall is a single-lancet window with its southern internal splay altered; a narrow late 13th-century arch to the aisle having three orders, one moulded and two chamfered, resting on an attached triple shaft on the north and a perfectly plain 15th-century jamb on the south; and a wide 15th-century four-centred arch, also to the aisle, of two chamfered orders springing from the pier of the nave arcade on the south and from a plain respond with a small attached shaft on the north. In the south-east corner is the lower door to the rood-stairs. The jack-legs of the modern roof rest on a 13th-century corbel carved with foliage and on two 14th-century carved heads.

The mid 13th-century south transept has in the east wall a single-lancet window. The south wall has a mid 14th-century five-light window with reticulated tracery in a two-centred head; a cinquefoiled-headed piscina with circular basin; and a locker with pointed head. The west wall has two arches to the aisle similar to those on the north, except that the earlier arch rests on an attached semi-octagonal shaft instead of a triple shaft. The jack-legs of the modern roof rest on two 13th-century carved heads.

The late 13th-century north aisle has in the north wall two original three-light windows with segmentalpointed heads; a late 15th-century three-light window with a four-centred head; an original doorway with a two-centred arch of two continuous hollowchamfered orders; and a plain recess with pointed head. In the west wall is a late 15th-century threelight window with a four-centred head.

The late 13th-century south aisle has in the south wall an original window of three graduated lancetlights under a continuous label; two 15th-century three-light windows with four-centred heads; an original doorway with a two-centred head of four moulded orders, the innermost of which has been trefoiled but the cusps are now broken off, resting on two detached and one attached jamb-shafts on each side, all with moulded capitals, bands and bases. The west wall has a window of three lancet-lights similar to that in the south wall.

The late 15th-century west tower stands on three arches within the church; all are of two orders, the outer orders have wave-moulded chamfers continued down the responds, and the inner orders are carried on semicircular attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The west doorway has a four-centred arch with continuous moulded jambs. The west window is of three-lights with tracery in a twocentred head. In the stage above is a single-light window under a square label, in the west and south walls; and the third stage, which is otherwise blank, has a similar window in the north wall. The belfry windows are three-lights with transoms and depressed four-centred heads. The tower has clasping buttresses at the angles and is finished with an embattled parapet below which is a string-course with carved gargoyles at the angles and in the centre of each side. At each angle is a crocketed pinnacle with a flying buttress, pierced with quatrefoils, to the base of the spire. The crocketed spire, which rises from behind the parapets, has two tiers of spire-lights on the cardinal faces, the lower two-lights and the upper single-lights.

The late 15th-century south porch has a fourcentred outer archway of two chamfered orders, the lower order carried on semicircular attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. Above the arch and on either side of it are niches having moulded brackets and crocketed projecting ogee heads. In the east wall is a two-light window with a four-centred head, but the mullion and tracery are missing. The walls are finished with plain parapets; on the south gable are three carved beasts, viz.: a yale between a lion and a dog. On the wall of the south aisle the marks of the roof of an earlier porch remain.

The late 13th-century font has an octagonal bowl with square sunk panels and a hollow-chamfered underedge, on a modern circular stem with moulded capital and base.

There are six bells, inscribed: (1) J. Taylor & Co. Founders Loughborough 1881. Praise God in his Sanctuary. This bell was added to the ring a.d. 1881. John and Sarah Nickolls Benefactors Fred. J. Moule M.A. Vicar; (2) J. Taylor & Co. Founders Loughborough 1881. Haec est domus Dei et aula coeli Jonath. Styles Vicar 1721. This bell was recast 1881. John Nickolls Benefactor; (3) Domus mea est domus orationis 1721; (4) Gloria Deo excelsis 1721; (5) J. Taylor & Co. Bellfounders Loughborough 1881. Hen. Clinton Comes Lincolniensis Benefactor. John Child Simon Brown churchwardens. Hen. Penn founder 1721. This bell was recast a.d. 1881. John Nickolls Benefactor. J. Turner J. W. Moore churchwardens; (6) Memento mori. Joh. Proby armiger manerii dominus Benefactor 1721.

In 1552 two bells were removed from the church by Mr. Connie 'for my Ladie Elizabethes grace,' of which one was returned to the parish to ring in case of fire; from which it would seem that the church had only two bells and they were left with only one. (fn. 67) In 1709 there were four bells; (fn. 68) by 1721 one of these was cracked, (fn. 69) and this seems to have led to the recasting of all four by Henry Penn, of Peterborough, and the gift of a fifth bell. In 1853 one bell was broken and another cracked. (fn. 70) These were presumably the old treble and the old fourth bell which were recast and a new treble added in 1881. The fourth bell, which had been cracked since 1928, was recast, and the whole peal rehung in 1931.

Under the chancel arch is a 15th-century oak screen of six bays with open traceried panels above and close lower panels bearing remains of painted decoration. The covings and loft are modern and carry the organ. The chancel stalls are mostly modern but include two late 15th-century desks having fronts with tracery panels, and shaped ends with carved poppy heads; two other bench ends with poppy heads; and several other portions.

The oak pulpit, dated 1631 and bearing two shields with initials 'H.S.' and 'I.P.,' is hexagonal and panelled in three heights with carved panels and moulded rails, and has a sounding-board with moulded cornice and the initials 'R.E.' and panelled frieze; it stands on a 15th-century octagonal coving rising from a moulded and battlemented base. (fn. 71)

There are several wall paintings: (a) above the arcade on the south side of the north chapel are 14th-century scenes from the Resurrection, including a standing figure of Christ, Christ and St. Mary Magdalene, the road to Emmaus and the Incredulity of St. Thomas, and remains of floral decoration and powdering of cinquefoils; (b) on the north and south walls at the east end of the nave are early 16th-century fragments apparently flanking a Doom over the chancel arch, on the south figures rising from graves, floral decoration and black-letter inscription; (c) on west wall of the nave, 17th-century painting with Prince of Wales's feathers and motto within a garter surmounted by a crown, figures of a man in Roman armour, another in a long cloak, a gravedigger and a skeleton, with texts; (d) on the north wall of the north transept, late 13th-century band of foliage.

In the north chapel is the matrix of a 14th-century brass with foliated cross having demi-figure of a priest in the head, and a marginal inscription.

In the north wall of the north transept is a projecting stone with sunk panel having a pointed head and two arms holding a heart; a cylindrical wooden box containing a heart was found behind this stone in 1842, and is now preserved in a modern recess near it; the heart is supposed to have been that of William de Yaxley, Abbot of Thorney, who founded a chantry here in 1291, and died in 1293.

In the north aisle are two loose fragments of a late 13th-century effigy of a priest in mass-vestments.

In the churchyard are a broken stone coffin and lid and eleven pieces of coffin-lids, most of them with foliated crosses and two with the double-omega ornament.

There are the following monuments: in the chancel, floor slabs to Mrs. Elizabeth Huddle, d. 1758; John Child, d. 1790. In the north chapel, to Capt. John Draper, R.N., d. 1813; the Rev. Charles Lee, Vicar, d. 1868, and Harriette his wife, d. 1886; Charles Langford, killed in South African War, 1900; and floor slabs to Arthur Lee, d. 1842, and Edward Henry Lee, infant sons of the Rev. Charles Lee, Vicar. In the south chapel, to Thomas Squire, d. 1759; John Newton, late of Spaldwick, d. 1797; Capt. William Taff, d. 1797; Martha Smith, d. 1801; John Child Newton, d. 1803; William Child senior, d. 1813, Susannah wife of his son William, d. 1814, Elizabeth his wife, d. 1820, and William their only son, d. 1825; Susannah (Child) widow of George Paillet, d. 1822, George Paillet, d. 1775, and Susannah Paillet their daughter, d. 1842; Isaac Field, d. 1832, and John Child Field Child, d. 1832; Mary wife of John Newton, d. 1852; and Elizabeth H. Hopkins widow of Edward Jarvis Hopkins, R.N., d. 1870; floor slabs to Elizabeth wife of Thomas Squire, d. 1736, and Edward their son, d. —; Thomas Squire, d. 1759; Peter Lamb, d. 1794, and Mary his wife, d. 1794; J.N. 1797; William Child senior, d. 1813 (all as above); Isaac Field, d. 1832, and John Child Field Child, d. 1832; and glass window to the Squire family, erected by William Squire, 1849. In the nave, floor slabs to Rebecca wife of Thomas Bowker, d. 1752; Mary relict of John Barnes and late wife of John Catlin, d. 1769, and Jeremiah Askew her grandson, d. 1829; Ann Reesby, d. 1799; — daughter of — and Ann Waite, — — and Elizabeth wife of Henry Green, d. —. In the north transept, floor slab to John son of John and Phyllis Chambers, d. 1798. In the south transept, floor slabs to William Frashe, d. 1699; — Faux, d. 1808; Robert Faux, d. 1812; William Sharman, d. 1813; Margaret Faux, d. 1817; and Catherine daughter of Francis Faux, d. 1832; and glass window to the Rev. Edward Howard Brown, formerly Vicar, d. 1925. In the north aisle, floor slabs to John Draper, d. 1813; Freeman Bowker —; — wife of — Bowker —; Phyllis wife of John Chambers, d. 180(?); and John Chambers, d. 1817. In the south aisle, War Memorial, 1914–18; and floor slabs to Thomas Bowker, d. 1792; and — [V]illy, d. 1813.

The registers (fn. 72) are as follows: (i) baptisms, marriages and burials, 13 November 1653 to 27 December 1812, marriages end 25 February 1754, bound in a modern cover; (ii) the official marriage book, 18 June 1754 to 19 November 1812.

The church plate (fn. 73) consists of a plated chalice engraved 'Calicem Salutaris accipiam et nomen Domini invocabo'; a plated standing paten engraved 'Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi da nobis tuam pacem'; a plated flagon engraved 'Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus'; a plated alms-dish engraved 'Benedicamus patrem et filium cum Spiritu,' and inscribed 'To the Glory of God. Presented by the Revd. Charles Lee (Vicar of Yaxley) and his wife as a memoriam of their daughter Henrietta Helen Lee, obiit Jany. 16th 1867.'


The church was held by the Abbey of Thorney (fn. 74) in 1086, and the abbey retained the patronage until the Dissolution. (fn. 75) There were disputed presentations in 1358 and 1391, due apparently to papal nominees trying to gain possession of the church. (fn. 76) The advowson has been held by the Crown since the Dissolution, (fn. 77) and the Lord Chancellor is patron of the living at the present day.

In 1225, Nigel de Insula, a deacon, was presented to the rectory by the abbey and was instituted, but Bishop Hugh of Welles (1209–1235) ordained that Ralph, son of Fulk of Nottingham, was to be appointed as perpetual vicar by Nigel, the abbot and convent consenting; he was to pay the rector 16 marks a year and hold for life all the remainder of the church, from the issues of which he was to pay the annual pension of 2 marks due to the abbey. (fn. 78) In 1249, Nigel was still a deacon, but was to be ordained a priest at Michaelmas, and Bishop Robert Grosseteste (1235–54) therefore ordered that the vicarage and rectory were to be consolidated, as Nigel could then serve the church in person. Apparently a vicar named Thomas had recently died. (fn. 79) Subsequent presentations were made to the rectory, (fn. 80) and formal presentations to a vicarage do not appear, though some arrangement for serving the church must have been made by the pluralist rectors. (fn. 81) In 1314, the king gave licence to the abbot and convent to appropriate the church of Yaxley, (fn. 82) but no steps were taken until 1397, (fn. 83) when a new licence to appropriate it was obtained from Richard II. The vicarage was instituted before 1404 (fn. 84) and the rectory was shortly afterwards assigned to the Abbot of Thorney in support of his office. (fn. 85) The annual pension of 2 marks was received by the abbey as before, being apparently paid out of the issues of the vicarage. (fn. 86) The rectory was leased at farm during the last years of the abbey, a lease being granted as late as 1532 by Abbot Robert Moulton to William Cony for £26 13s. 4d. a year. (fn. 87) Queen Elizabeth gave another lease in 1573 to William Coney, presumably a son of the first-named lessee, (fn. 88) but in 1587, she granted the rectory in fee to Edward Heron and John Nicholas. (fn. 89) They sold it in 1591 to Henry, Earl of Lincoln, and others, (fn. 90) from whom it seems to have passed before 1617 to Sir Henry Fynes of Kirkstead, in Lincolnshire. (fn. 91) In that year he sold it to Michael Cole and John Okes. (fn. 92) Some time after 1642, a suit in chancery was brought by Henry Carey, the second Earl of Monmouth, as executor of his father's will, relating to the rectory of Yaxley and other lands apparently in connection with a debt of Sir Henry Fynes to Sir Sidney Montague, but the record is badly mutilated. (fn. 93) Before 1664, the rectory came into the possession of Sir Thomas Proby, bt., the lord of Yaxley manor (q.v.), and since that date has passed with the manor. (fn. 94)

At the time of the dissolution of Thorney Abbey, the vicarage was valued at £11 a year. (fn. 95) Some rearrangement of the appropriation seems to have been made, since no mention of the pension of 2 marks payable to the abbey appears and the vicarage was endowed, not only with certain tithe and the regular offerings, but with certain glebe lands and an annual pension of £10 paid by the abbey out of the issues of the manor. (fn. 96) The lessee of the rectory was bound by the lease of 1532 to pay £3 6s. 8d. a year to the vicar in augmentation of his stipend, (fn. 97) and the same obligation was continued by Queen Elizabeth in 1573. (fn. 98) The lord of the manor also paid annually £1 6s. 8d. to the sexton for his wages and 10s. to provide bread, wine and wax for the parish church. (fn. 99) In 1767, the parish was inclosed, and it then appeared that the vicar received yearly from Lord Carysfort and his ancestors £10 in lieu of certain glebe lands to which he was entitled, £10 from the impropriator and £20 apparently out of the issues of the manor. For the first two items, by the Inclosure Act he received allotments of land and rights of common appurtenant to the glebe, while Lord Carysfort and his successors were to continue the payment of the £20 a year. (fn. 100) In 1787 the value of the living was returned at £30, but was then augmented by another £70. (fn. 101)

A chapel at Yaxley was enumerated amongst the possessions confirmed to Thorney Abbey by Pope Gregory IX in 1240, (fn. 102) and it may possibly be identified with a chapel of St. Thomas (fn. 103) to which in 1279 a tenant named Walter de Herdele paid a rent of 6d. a year. (fn. 104) A chapel in Yaxley is mentioned in a rental probably made shortly after the dissolution of Thorney Abbey. (fn. 105)

William of Yaxley, Abbot of Thorney, is said to have founded a chantry in the north transept of Yaxley church. (fn. 106) He died in 1293, (fn. 107) and the human heart found in a receptacle in the wall of the transept in 1842 is supposed to have been his. (fn. 108) It seems possible that the pension of £5 6s. 8d., which was paid in the 16th century out of the issues of the manor for a parish priest or a chaplain celebrating in the parish church, had formed the endowment of this or some other chantry. (fn. 109) The pension appears to have escaped confiscation at the Dissolution of the Chantries. (fn. 110) There were guilds of the Holy Trinity, Blessed Mary the Virgin, St. John the Baptist, St. Katherine, St. Peter, the Holy Cross, St. George and St. Giles, in the 15th and 16th centuries, (fn. 111) and a guild hall existed in the 16th century, when its rent was 6d. a year. (fn. 112)

A hospital existed in the town in 1240 (fn. 113) and in 1279 had been endowed with a curtilage containing half a rood and with 3 acres lying in the hide of land held by Richard son of William, one of the chief tenants of the abbey. (fn. 114) Possibly this hospital may be identified with the almshouse for poor inhabitants of the town which in the 16th century held lands at an annual rent of 20d. (fn. 115) and received 26s. 8d. from the issues of the manor each year. (fn. 116)


The Marshall Charity.—Sir Anthony Marshall, by a deed of gift dated 7 August 1906, bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens £571 3 per cent. preference stock in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Co., the interest to be applied for the benefit of the deserving poor. This stock is now represented by £428 London Midland and Scottish Railway Co. stock, the dividends on which are distributed in kind to the deserving poor of the parish.

Charity of William Askew.—The endowment of this charity consists of £194 1s. 5d. consols standing in the names of the vicar and churchwardens of Yaxley, the dividends on which are distributed in doles of 5s. to the poor of the parish.

Robert Marriott and Elizabeth his wife, by an indenture dated 10 December 1714, surrendered to the churchwardens and overseers a parcel of ground containing about 3 acres, upon trust that out of the rent and profits a sum of 20s. a year should be paid to the minister for preaching a sermon and the residue applied for the benefit of the poor of the parish.

By an order of the Charity Commissioners dated 18 December 1897 it was directed that a yearly sum of £1, part of the income of the property, should form the endowment of a separate charity to be called the Marriott Church Charity, the remainder of the original charity to be called the Marriott Poor Charity. The land is now let and £1 of the rent is paid to the vicar for preaching a sermon and the remainder distributed in doles to the poor of the parish. The charity for the poor is regulated by a scheme of the said Commissioners of 24 November 1916.


  • 1. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1640–41, p. 463.
  • 2. Local Act of Parl. 1 Will. IV, c. 53.
  • 3. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 218.
  • 4. Ibid. 222.
  • 5. Cal. Pat. R. 1301–7, pp. 357, 374.
  • 6. Ibid. 1377–81, p. 275.
  • 7. Cal. Close R. 1318–23, p. 670; 1369–74, p. 115.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. R. 1388–92, p. 217.
  • 9. Cal. Pap. Lett. ix, 333.
  • 10. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 307.
  • 11. Priv. Act of Parl. 7 Geo. III, c. 14.
  • 12. Recov. R. Trin. 9 Geo. III, ro. 188.
  • 13. Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. ii, 173; T. J. Walker, The Depot for Prisoners of War at Norman Cross, 1796–1816 (1913).
  • 14. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 598–9.
  • 15. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 345.
  • 16. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 604–5; J. W. Clark, Lib. de Bernewelle, 270.
  • 17. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, p. 640.
  • 18. Ibid.; Huntingdon R. (Bodl.) 1, m. 17.
  • 19. Cott. Ch. (B.M.) i, 2 (1), mm. 15, 16.
  • 20. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 612; L. and P. Hen. VIII, vol. 18 (i), p. 546; Ct. Aug. E 315, vol. 102, fol. 109d.
  • 21. Pat. R. 4 Edw. VI, pt. iii; 5 Edw. VI, pt. iii; Cal. Pat. R. 1549–51, p. 239; 1551–53, P. 89.
  • 22. Rentals and Surv. (Gen. Ser.), ptf. 37, no. 23; Pat. R. 44 Eliz. pt. iii; 1 Jas. I, pt. xx.
  • 23. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 612; cf. Stanground and Farcet.
  • 24. Rentals and Surv. (Gen. Ser.), ptf. 37, no. 23; Pat. R. 22 Eliz. pt. ii.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. Pat. R. 22 Eliz. pt. ii.
  • 27. Ibid. 44 Eliz. pt. iii.
  • 28. Ibid. 1 Jas. I, pt. xx.
  • 29. Ibid. 4 Chas. I, pt. xxxv.
  • 30. Close R. 8 Chas. I, pt. xix (12).
  • 31. Collins, Peerage of England (ed. Brydges), ix, 137–9.
  • 32. Lansd. MS. (B.M.) 921, fol. 134; Feet of F. Div. Cos. Trin. 16 Chas. II; East. 6 Will. & Mary; Recov. R. Trin. 21 Geo. II, ro. 352; Hil. 13 Geo. III, ro. 430; Private Act of Parl. 7 Geo. III, c. 14; Proby Muniments at Elton, Hunts.
  • 33. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 298.
  • 34. Ibid.
  • 35. Ibid.
  • 36. Cott. Ch. (B.M.), i, 2 (1), m. 10.
  • 37. Ibid.; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xviii, pt.i, p. 546.
  • 38. Cott. Ch. (B.M.), i, 2 (1–14); Pat. R. 4 Chas. I, pt. xxxv.
  • 39. Cal. Chart. R. 1300–26, p. 29.
  • 40. Cal. Pat. R. 1301–7, p. 196.
  • 41. Pat. R. 15 Jas. I, pt. 15, no. 12.
  • 42. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, p. 640.
  • 43. Cott. Ch. (B.M.), i, 2 (1), mm. 22, 41d; Close R. 8 Chas. I, pt. xix (12).
  • 44. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 345.
  • 45. Huntingdon R. (Bodl.) 1, m. 17; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 640.
  • 46. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 612.
  • 47. Cott. Ch. (B.M.), i, 2 (1), mm. 20, 42d.
  • 48. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, p. 65; 1300–26, p. 244; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 298.
  • 49. Cal. Curia Regis R. i, 449; Select. Civil Pleas (Selden Soc.), i, 11.
  • 50. Ibid.
  • 51. Huntingdon R. (Bodl.) 1, m. 17.
  • 52. Cott. Ch. (B.M.), i, 2 (1), m. 22d.
  • 53. Pat. R. 5 Edw. VI, pt. iii.
  • 54. W. T. Mellows, Local Government of Peterborough, 67–8.
  • 55. Lansd. MS. (B.M.) 921, fol. 134.
  • 56. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, p. 35.
  • 57. Huntingdon R. (Bodl.) 1, m. 17.
  • 58. Pat. R. 5 Edw. VI, pt. iii.
  • 59. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 612.
  • 60. P.R.O. Rentals and Surv. (Gen. Ser.), ptf. 37, no. 23.
  • 61. Pat. R. 22 Eliz. pt. ii.
  • 62. Ibid.
  • 63. Ibid. 44 Eliz. pt. iii.
  • 64. Pat. R. 4 Chas. I, pt. xxxv; Close R. 8 Chas. I, pt. xix (12); Cott. Ch. (B.M.), i, 2 (2).
  • 65. Cf. Lansd. MS. (B.M.) 921, fol. 134; Report on Markets and Tolls, App. i, p. 171.
  • 66. A local tradition says that a central tower was destroyed by fire.
  • 67. Excheq. K.R. Ch. Goods, bdle. 3, no. 12.
  • 68. Rec. Archd. Hunt. no. 232, Terriers.
  • 69. Ibid. no. 305, Archdeacon's Notebook.
  • 70. Ibid. no. 306, Archdeacon's Notebook.
  • 71. This pulpit was taken down in 1897, and the pieces lay at the west end of the south aisle; it was restored during the recent restoration of the church. The initials 'R.E.' doubtless stand for Robert Edmond, Vicar 1626–1638. It is illustrated in the Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc. (N.S.), iv, 358.
  • 72. The earlier ones are known to have been burnt (Sweeting, Parish Churches in and around Peterborough, 185).
  • 73. In 1709 there was 'a silver bowl given by the Lord of the Manor; Mr. Proby and his wife's names cut in a cypher on it; given in the year 1699.' (Rec. Archd. Hunt. no. 232, Terriers).
  • 74. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 345.
  • 75. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 604–5, 594, 597; Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 267; Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. iii, p. 280; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 643; Ct. Aug. E 315, vol. 95, ff. 25, 106.
  • 76. Cal. Pap. Lett. iii, 592; iv, 372; Early Chan. Proc. file 7, no. 261; file 68, nos. 152 and 242.
  • 77. Pat. R. 15 Eliz. pt. v; Feet of F. Hunts, Trin. 33 Eliz.; Instit. Bks. (P.R.O.); Linc. Epis. Reg. time of Bp. Cooper (Cant. and York Soc.), 66, 67, 281, 282.
  • 78. Rot. Hug. de Welles (Cant. and York Soc.), iii, 48; cf. Cal. Pap. Lett. i, 187.
  • 79. Rot. Rob. Grosseteste (Cant. and York Soc.), 295.
  • 80. Ibid. 299; Rot. Ric. de Gravesend (Cant. and York Soc.), xxvii, 182; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 643.
  • 81. Rot. Ric. Gravesend (Cant. and York Soc.), p. xxvii; Cal. Pap. Lett. iv, 372.
  • 82. Cal. Pat. R. 1313–17, p. 199.
  • 83. Ibid. 1396–99, p. 138.
  • 84. Cal. Pap. Reg. v, 611.
  • 85. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 594.
  • 86. Feud. Aids, iv, 479.
  • 87. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 267; Pat. R. 15 Eliz. pt. v.
  • 88. Pat. R. 15 Eliz. pt. v.
  • 89. Ibid. 29 Eliz. pt. viii.
  • 90. Feet of F. Hunts, Trin. 33 Eliz.
  • 91. Ibid. Hunts, Mich. 15 Jas. I.
  • 92. Ibid.; Close R. 15 Jas. I, pt. ii, no. 30.
  • 93. Chan. Proc. (Ser. ii), bdle. 454, no. 37.
  • 94. Feet of F. Div. Cos. Trin. 16 Chas. II; East. 6 Will. & Mary; Recov. R. Trin. 21 Geo. II, ro. 352; 13 Geo. III, ro. 430; Priv. Act of Parl. 7 Geo. III, c. 14.
  • 95. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 267.
  • 96. Ibid.
  • 97. Pat. R. 15 Eliz. pt. v.
  • 98. Ibid.
  • 99. Ibid. 29 Eliz. pt. viii; Rentals and Surv. (Gen. Ser.), ptf. 37, no. 23.
  • 100. Priv. Act of Parl. 7 Geo. III, c. 14.
  • 101. Sweeting, Parish Churches in and around Peterborough, 185.
  • 102. Cal. Pap. Lett. i, 187.
  • 103. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 641.
  • 104. Ibid.
  • 105. Cott. Ch. (B.M.), i, 2 (1), m. 21d.
  • 106. Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. ii, 173.
  • 107. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 595.
  • 108. Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. ii, 173.
  • 109. Rentals and Surv. (Gen. Ser.), ptf. 37, no. 23; Pat. R. 29 Eliz. pt. viii; Cott. Ch. (B.M.), i, 2 (i), m. 23d.
  • 110. Ibid.
  • 111. Wills, Archd. Hunt. Reg. i, fols. 23, 39; Reg. ii, fol. 86.
  • 112. Cott. Ch. (B.M.), i, 2 (1), mm. 26, 30.
  • 113. Cal. Pap. Lett. i, 187.
  • 114. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 640.
  • 115. Cott. Ch. (B.M.), i, 2 (1), m. 30.
  • 116. Rentals and Surv. (Gen. Ser.), ptf. 37, no. 23; Pat. R. 15 Eliz. pt. v; 29 Eliz. pt. viii.