Parishes: Catworth

Pages 28-35

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section


Cateuuorde (xi cent.); Cattewrda, Catteswyrth, Cateworth (xiii cent.).

The civil parish of Great Catworth has since 1885 included the hamlet of Little Catworth, which for ecclesiastical purposes remains in the parish of Long Stow, and for jurisdictional purposes is partly in the soke of Kimbolton and partly in the soke of Spaldwick. The civil parish covers an area of 3,094 acres of clay land. The ground rises from the Ellington Brook, forming the northern boundary of the parish, where it is about 100 ft. above Ordnance datum, to about 250 ft. on the southern boundary.

The village lies in the middle of the parish on the road from Kimbolton to Thrapston. The church is in the middle of the village, and near to it are the Rectory House and School and several 17th- and 18thcentury houses. Indications of a homestead moat, a little to the south-west of the church, possibly mark the site of the manor house. Church Farm, northeast of the church, is a 17th-century house with two large 16th-century chimney-stacks. Manor Farm, at Church End, was built in the 18th century, but has been remodelled and rebuilt. A little south-west of the church are Methodist and Baptist chapels and the Wagon and Horses Inn. Two roads, the northern one called Church Lane, to which reference is made in 1545, (fn. 1) branch west from the church. At Brook End, about a quarter of a mile west of the village, is an interesting house, Brook House, added to and enlarged by Sir Felix Booth (d. 1850), distiller and alderman of London. It incorporates part of a 16thcentury house, and the hall has an original fireplace. Another house at Brook End, in poor condition, has 16th to 17th century chimney-stacks. A little farther west is Road Piece Spinney.

An Inclosure Act for Little Catworth was passed in 1780, (fn. 2) affecting 800 acres of common fields partly in Great Catworth and partly in Long Stow, (fn. 3) and another in 1795 for Great Catworth, affecting 2,000 acres. (fn. 4) A bell rung every day at noon maintains a tradition that a stranger found men making hay on a Sunday, not knowing what day of the week it was; he therefore left money to have a bell rung at noon on Saturday that they might recognise the day. This practice developed into ringing the bell daily.

Sir Wolston Dixie, Lord Mayor of London in 1585, for whom one of the earliest city pageants was performed, came of a family belonging to this parish. (fn. 5)


There were six principal holdings of land in Great and Little Catworth at the time of the Domesday Survey (1086): (1) The holding of William de Warenne, which comprised a hide in Great Catworth and a hide in Little Catworth, and later became parcel of the Honour of Kimbolton; (fn. 6) (2) the holding of Eustace the Sheriff, 5 hides, (fn. 7) which became part of the Lovetot Fee; (3) the holding of 4 hides in Little Catworth by Ely Abbey, which became the Ely Fee; (fn. 8) (4) the holding of one and a half hides in Great Catworth held by Eustace the Sheriff, of the Abbey of Peterborough, surveyed under Northamptonshire, and now presumably represented by the eight little detached portions of that county, marked on the older maps, in the parish of Catworth, which was the nucleus of the Peterborough Fee; (fn. 9) (5) the holding of two hides by Ulwin Chit, one hide being in Great Catworth of the King's soke, which Harold did not hold, and the other in Little Catworth, of which King Edward had the soke but Ulwin could sell, although the men of the Countess Judith claimed that King William had given it to Earl Waltheof, (fn. 10) and this holding seems to be the origin of the Huntingdon Fee; (6) the holding of 4 hides by Eric, the King's thegn, (fn. 11) which appears to have become split up among the other holdings.

Warenne. Checky or and azure.

The WARENNE FEE in Great and Little Catworth, consisting of a hide in Great Catworth and a hide in Little Catworth, was held by William de Warenne in 1086. The head of the Warenne Fee in Huntingdonshire was Kimbolton, of which the Warenne property in Catworth was held. The overlordship followed the descent of Kimbolton Castle (q.v.) and now belongs to the Duke of Manchester. (fn. 12)

Bekering. Quarterly argent and gules a bend sable.

The earliest recorded undertenant of this property was Mary, daughter and heir of James de Cauz by his wife Alice, daughter and co-heir of Walter FitzGilbert, lord of the barony of Bolam (co. Northumb.), and his wife Emma, who after Walter's death in 1206 married Peter de Vaux (d. before 1256). (fn. 13) Mary, daughter of James and Alice de Cauz, married Thomas de Bekering of Bekering (co. Linc.), who died in 1272 seised of 4½ virgates in Great Catworth, held of the inheritance of Mary his wife. (fn. 14) Mary died in 1279 seised of a hide held of the Earl of Hereford, (fn. 15) her son and heir Thomas being aged 40 years. In the same year Thomas de Bekering was returned as lord of a knight's fee in Great Catworth, with a hide in Hargrave, a hide in Little Catworth, and a hide in Weston, all held of the Earl of Hereford as of the honour of Kimbolton. (fn. 16) At Great Catworth he had in demesne 2 carucates of land, 3 acres of meadow, a culture called Madcroft, an acre of garden and a windmill. Catworth was returned among the lands held of the fee of Kimbolton which were not geldable in 1285, (fn. 17) in which year Thomas de Bekering (II) died. (fn. 18) He left a widow Cecily, and two sons, Leonard and Thomas, both minors. The custody of Leonard, his heir, was granted in 1285 to Master Henry Wade, king's sergeant, (fn. 19) but he died before 1289, when he was succeeded by his brother Thomas. In 1286 Cecily received licence to marry again, (fn. 20) and in 1288 as the wife of John de Bray received dower out of Catworth, (fn. 21) and in 1289 dower was also assigned to Lettice, widow of Leonard de Bekering. (fn. 22) In the same year Thomas, still a minor, became the heir to the property of his uncle, Peter de Bekering. (fn. 23) In 1290 a fresh assignment of dower was made to Cecily, widow of Thomas de Bekering, (fn. 24) and the advowson of Catworth was delivered to her in dower in 1293. (fn. 25) Thomas, as son and heir of Thomas de Bekering, proved his age at Huntingdon in 1297, when it was stated he was born at Bekering and baptised in the church there. (fn. 26) In 1318 he settled his Northumberland property on his son Thomas, (fn. 27) and died in 1326. (fn. 28) The fourth Thomas de Bekering, his son, with his wife Isabel, settled the manor in 1338. (fn. 29) He died at Bekering in 1352, (fn. 30) and the wardship of his son and heir John, a minor, was granted to Sir Robert de Herle. (fn. 31) In 1376 Sir John de Bekering, kt., died seised of the manor and advowson, leaving a son and heir Thomas, a minor, (fn. 32) who died seised of the manor in 1386, and was followed by his son, another Thomas. (fn. 33) The sixth and last Thomas de Bekering died in 1425, when his heir was his daughter Alice, the wife of Sir Thomas de Rempston, kt. (fn. 34) Sir Thomas was returned in 1428 as lord of one fee in Catworth. (fn. 35) Alice was apparently dead by 1458, when Sir Thomas Rempston, kt., died seised of the manor and advowson, which he held for life of the inheritance of his three daughters, the heirs of his wife Alice de Bekering: Elizabeth, aged 40, wife of John Cheyne; Isabella, aged 36, wife of Sir Brian Stapulton, kt.; and Margaret, aged 32, wife of Richard Bingham, jun. (fn. 36) Catworth fell to Elizabeth, whose husband survived her and died seised in 1489. (fn. 37) Their son and heir Thomas Cheyne, aged 40 at his father's death, married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Henry Huddleston, (fn. 38) and died in 1514. (fn. 39) By his will dated 1512 Sir Thomas bequeathed the manor and advowson to his second wife Anne, with remainder to Elizabeth, his daughter by his first wife. Elizabeth married Thomas, son of Sir Nicholas Vaux, Lord Vaux of Harrowden, and died seised of the manor in 1556, (fn. 40) when it passed with the manor of Great Gidding (q.v.) to their heirs. It was conveyed by them to Lord Mordaunt and Edward Watson in 1586 (fn. 41) and descended with Great Gidding to the Rockinghams. (fn. 42) A lease of the manor and advowson was apparently made in 1588 by Edward Watson and his wife Anne to Thomas and John Ekins. (fn. 43) The manor was dealt with in 1612 by John Ekins the elder and Anne his wife, and John Ekins the younger and Anne his wife. (fn. 44) The latter John died seised of messuages in Great Catworth in 1633, leaving a son and heir, Thomas. (fn. 45) At the passing of the Inclosure Act in 1795 the manorial rights in Catworth were held, as regards the main part of the manor, by William, Duke of Manchester, and of the eight little detached pieces of Northamptonshire by Susanna Rait, widow. (fn. 46) In the 19th century the Dukes of Manchester were lords of the manor of Great Catworth. In 1918 the duke sold the Manor Farm to Samuel Holmes, whose trustees now hold it. The copyholds have been enfranchised and the manorial rights have fallen into desuetude.

With the Warenne hide in Great Catworth a hide in Little Catworth also descended, and was held of the Bekerings (in succession to Tored). In 1279 Richard de Molesworth appears as Thomas de Bekering's tenant of a hide in Little Catworth entered under Great Catworth. (fn. 47) Richard, son of Hugh de Molesworth, of Little Catworth, who appeared in a plea of debt in 1321, (fn. 48) may have been Richard's grandson. Walter de Molesworth, who with his wife Katherine held lands and rents in Great Catworth afterwards in the hands of his widow and her second husband, Richard de Bayeux, in 1319, (fn. 49) was probably a member of the family, and identical with the Walter de Molesworth, sheriff of Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. (fn. 50)

Another holding of 4 virgates of land for 2s. rent and foreign service of the Warenne Fee, appears in 1279 in the hands of Richard de Catworth, who, with his tenants, held of John, son of Godwin le Bere. This holding seems to have been mainly in Little Catworth. John le Bere held of Thomas de Bekering (fn. 51) who was tenant of Humphrey de Bohun of Kimbolton. (fn. 52) In 1286 Thomas de Bekering granted the custody of lands, which had belonged to Thomas de Catworth in Catworth, to Richard Burdon, by whom they were conveyed to Maud Fyn. (fn. 53) Ivetta, wife of Richard Burdon who was dead before 1286, and Maud Fyn were apparently co-heirs, probably daughters, of Thomas de Catworth. (fn. 54)

The homage and service of Richard de Catworth for his free tenement in Little Catworth were conveyed in 1346 by Richard Hotot to Stephen le Bere of Ellington and his wife Alice and their heirs, with remainder to William de Melchburne. (fn. 55)

Possibly these two properties may have been represented by an estate in Great and Little Catworth consisting of a chief messuage and lands, held by William Hawkins, who died at Tilbrook (Beds), in 1625. (fn. 56) His heir was his daughter Rebecca, wife of Sir Beauchamp St. John, kt., to whom he bequeathed Bedfordshire property in tail, with remainder to William Hawkins of Bedford. The later descent of this holding has not been traced.

Lovetot. Argent a lion parted fessewise gules and sable.

The LOVETOT FEE in Catworth originated in the lands held in 1086 by Eustace, the oppressive sheriff of Huntingdonshire. Eustace's lands passed to Roger de Lovetot. Eustace held in Catworth 3 hides which Auic had formerly held; 2 hides which King Edward had previously held and in 1086 were the lands of William the Conqueror; a hide and a half held of the Abbot of Peterborough; and a hide held of William de Warenne. There is much confusion about the descent of these holdings. The hide of the Warenne Fee has been already traced, but the remaining hides seem to have passed with the manor of Clapton (co. Northant.), (fn. 57) to Roger de Lovetot, who held them either of the Crown or of the Abbot of Peterborough. Roger de Lovetot, who was living in 1125, (fn. 58) was succeeded by his son William, who had two sons: Richard, to whom the Lovetot Yorkshire fees passed, and Nigel, who took the barony of Southoe and the Peterborough fees including Catworth. Nigel is said to have had five sons: Richard, the eldest, who died childless in 1191, Roger, Nigel, Robert and William. Roger, the second son, had six children, William, Nigel, Geoffrey, Amice, the wife of Ralf de Amundeville, Royce, the wife firstly of Hubert de Bromford, and secondly of Hugh le Fleming; and Alice, the wife of William Patrick. William, the eldest son, died childless and Catworth went to Nigel, a clerk. At his death in 1219 he was succeeded by his three sisters or their representatives. Robert, son of Hugh le Fleming and Royce, who seems to have been also undertenant of some of the lands here, bought out the interest of the Lovetot holdings in Polebrooke, Kingsthorp and Clapton, and Walter Fitz Walter acquired the Lovetot interest in Catworth and Winwick. In 1224 Walter enfeoffed his kinsman, John de Vaux, (fn. 59) of 2 carucates of land in Catworth which he and Walter de Gyney in 1232 sold for £100 to the Abbey of Sawtry. (fn. 60) The Abbot of Sawtry did suit for these lands at the Abbot of Peterborough's court at Castor. (fn. 61) Sawtry Abbey was at this time acquiring an estate in Catworth. In 1279 the abbot and monks of Sawtry were holding in Catworth 10 virgates of the Lovetot lands which they had by purchase from John de Vaux for half a fee, besides lands called Bereshill, Juddescroft and Berescroft held of Thomas de Bekering, (fn. 62) which were probably the Bere holding already mentioned. The Abbey of Sawtry also in 1279 held ½ a knight's fee of Thomas de Lovetot, (fn. 63) son of Roger de Lovetot, son of Richard, son of Royce de Lovetot and Hubert de Bromford, which Richard had taken his mother's name of Lovetot.

Sawtry Abbey. Argent two bars gules fretty or.

Tenants there holding of the fee of Lovetot paid 2s. 4d. yearly sheriff's aid and 12d. at view of frankpledge. That some part of the abbot's property was held of the Bekerings is evident from the supplementary inquisition made in 1287 as to fees held of Thomas de Bekering, when, with other tenants enumerated in 1279, the Abbot of Sawtry was returned. He was holding one twenty-fourth of a fee. (fn. 64)

Beville. Gules a cheveron or between three bezants.

The abbey retained their estate in Great Catworth until the Dissolution, when a yearly rent of £6 13s. 4d. was included in a grant to Richard Williams alias Cromwell in 1537. (fn. 65) In 1541 he sold the abbey estate as the manor or grange of Great Catworth, with lands in Great Catworth and Kimbolton, to William Bickells, or Bickles, (fn. 66) by whom it was sold about 1552 to William Beville. William Beville died in 1553 (fn. 67) seised of this manor or grange, livery of which was delivered in the following year to his son Robert Beville of Chesterton. The rent reserved was then paid to Robert Beville at Chesterton by Thomas Ekins, evidently lessee here as in the principal manor. Proceedings were subsequently instituted against Robert Beville to obtain possession of this manor on behalf of Margery Lanesdale of Hoane, a minor, by her guardian Ralph Lanesdale, on the ground that she should inherit the manor from her deceased mother Ada, daughter of Thomas Bickells, an illegitimate son of William Bickells. (fn. 68) Thomas Ekins, from whom the rent was demanded by both parties to the suit, instituted counter proceedings (fn. 69) in order to obtain leave to make his payment into the Court of Chancery. Robert Beville appears to have retained possession of the manor, (fn. 70) which had passed in 1625 to Roger Jones of Long Stow and his wife Antonina, by whom it was conveyed in that year to John Lee and George, his son and heir. (fn. 71) John Lee died in 1626 and was succeeded by George, aged 13½ years, (fn. 72) who was dealing with the manor in 1637. (fn. 73) From the Lees it passed to the Earl of Manchester and was possibly included in lands here with which he was dealing in 1649. (fn. 74) As the Grange of Great Catworth, it was held by William, Duke of Manchester, in 1822. (fn. 75) The Duke of Manchester sold his outlying estates, including those in Catworth, in the early part of the 20th century.

The ELY FEE in Little Catworth passed as a berewick of Spaldwick (q.v.) from before the Conquest and has descended to the Duke of Manchester.

The PETERBOROUGH FEE seems to have passed partly to the Warennes and partly to the Lovetots, under whose fees it has been traced.

The HUNTINGDON FEE originated apparently from the hide in Little Catworth which was held in 1086 by Ulwin, who could give or sell it to whom he pleased. The soke of his holding had always belonged to King Edward. This land, however, according to the claim of the men of the Countess Judith, was given by King William to her husband, Earl Waltheof. (fn. 76) It would seem that this hide descended with the Countess Judith's four hides in Molesworth which in 1279 were held as one-sixth of a fee by William Fitz Ralph, by homage and scutage of William de Brus of Caldecote, who held it of Robert de Brus of the honour of Huntingdon. (fn. 77) Robert de Brus was assessed to military service in 1303 for this hide, (fn. 78) which, as the result of the Brus forfeiture, was transferred to the Earls of Kent. It was held of Edmund, Earl of Kent, in 1330, as a quarter of a fee, by John Banston, who had probably married Fitz Ralph's widow, (fn. 79) and was again returned among the fees of John, Earl of Kent, in 1353. (fn. 80) The pardon granted in 1361 to Robert Huntingdon of Great Catworth for his outlawry in Northamptonshire for non-appearance before the king to answer Richard, son of Richard Fitz Ralph, touching a plea of trespass, (fn. 81) may have been connected with his acquisition of this quarterfee. A Robert de Huntingdon was returned as its owner in 1397, (fn. 82) and was probably identical with the Robert de Huntingdon of Catworth who held an official position in the king's forest of Weybridge in 1390, (fn. 83) and who in 1393, as Robert Huntingdon of Catworth, was dealing with lands and rents in Great Catworth, Huntingdon and Little Paxton. (fn. 84)

Lands were held in Catworth by several monastic owners. In 1273 a fine relating to messuages and lands was levied between Walter Mowyn (Mowin) and the Master of the Knights Templars in England. (fn. 85) A hide of land was held in 1279 of Thomas de Bekering by William Mowyn, of whom the Templars held 2 virgates by gift of his ancestors in free alms. (fn. 86) Another tenant of William Mowyn at that date was Richard de Gravely, who held half a virgate and of whom 10 acres were held by the Prior of Stonely. (fn. 87) This priory held property granted by Richard Hardelike, son of William the Chapman of Great Catworth; also the lands lying upon 'le Hole' and abutting upon Ketelstanweye and 'le Presseweye' in Catworth, which had been granted to it in free alms by Robert, son of Walter de Denton; (fn. 88) and lands held of the Abbey of Sawtry, presumably represented in 1535 by rents worth 18s. (fn. 89) William Mowyn held a quarter-fee of Thomas de Bekering in 1287. (fn. 90) Thomas de Denton, who held lands of the Abbot of Sawtry as well as of William Mowyn, when outlawed for felony in 1262, had leased them to William Fitz Ralph of Catworth, (fn. 91) and was possibly the son of John de Denton killed by Thomas le Bere of Catworth before 1245. (fn. 92) The Prior of Bushmead was returned for a messuage and land held of the Abbey of Sawtry in 1279. (fn. 93) In 1291 the Priory of Huntingdon had lands and rents here, (fn. 94) and rents worth 2d. in 1535. (fn. 95) Half a yardland in Great Catworth was granted to Hinchingbrooke Priory by Alexander Fitz Richard in the late 12th century, to be held at 4s. rent by Walter Fitz William. (fn. 96)

Windmills were held with their manors in 1279 by both Thomas de Bekering and the Abbey of Sawtry. (fn. 97) In 1580 a windmill in Great Catworth was conveyed by John Brockett and his wife Katherine to Richard Lynwood. (fn. 98) This was granted in 1603 by Thomas Lynwood and his wife Anne to Thomas Wightman. (fn. 99)


The church of ST. LEONARD consists of a chancel (31¼ ft. by 17½ ft.), modern organ chamber and vestry on the north (fn. 100) (17¾ ft. by 7¾ ft.), nave (48¼ ft. by 16¼ ft.), north aisle (8¾ ft. wide), south aisle (8½ ft. wide), west tower (9¼ ft. by 9¼ ft.) and south porch. The walls of the tower are of ashlar, and those of the rest of the church are of coursed rubble with some pebble rubble, and with stone dressings, and the roofs are covered with tiles and lead.

The church is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), but a fragment of 11th or 12th century tombstone seems to suggest that there was an early church here. It is evident that by the middle of the 13th century the nave had already reached its present length and that it had a south aisle, the greater part of the south and west walls of which still remain. A considerable rebuilding took place towards the end of the 14th century, when the chancel arch, the south arcade and the eastern part of the south aisle were rebuilt, the north arcade and aisle were built or rebuilt, and the tower and porch were added. About a hundred years later the chancel was rebuilt and widened to the north, and the clearstory was added to the nave. The whole church was restored in 1876, when the two side walls of the chancel were rebuilt and the vestry added. The spire was struck by lightning on 1 July 1914, and restored the same year; and the north aisle roof was restored in 1925.

The late 15th-century chancel (fn. 101) has a five-light east window with an embattled transom and a depressed four-centred head, much restored, and the gable above has been raised to suit a modern high-pitched roof. The north wall has a modern archway into the organ chamber; and a two-light window with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. The south wall has three two-light windows similar to that in the north wall, the two western of which retain some quarries of 15th-century glass. There is also in the south wall a reset 13th-century piscina with trefoiled head, detached jamb-shafts with moulded capitals and bases, portions of a second arch indicating that it was formerly a double piscina, and an octofoiled basin. The north and south walls have been rebuilt; the latter formerly had a small priest's door. (fn. 102) The late 14th-century chancel arch is two-centred, of two orders—wave moulded on the west and chamfered on the east, resting on three attached shafts having moulded capitals and bases, and with hollow mouldings between them.

The modern organ chamber and vestry has a plain doorway with a re-used early 14th-century twocentred and trefoiled head from the former priest's doorway. The north wall has two late 15th-century two-light windows similar to those in the chancel, and probably removed from the north wall.

The late 14th-century nave has an arcade of four bays on each side, having two-centred arches of two wave-moulded orders resting on columns formed of four attached semicircular shafts with hollow mouldings between them, and the shafts having moulded capitals and bases on square plinths. The responds are similar attached half-columns. The late 15th-century clearstory has four two-light windows each side, having simple tracery in four-centred heads.

The contemporary low-pitched roof has moulded tie-beams, jack-legs and braces with traceried spandrels and carved bosses. The jack-legs rest on carved stone corbels. The marks of the earlier steep-pitched roof remain on the east wall of the tower.

The late 14th-century north aisle has an original three-light east window with vertical tracery in a four-centred head, now unglazed and opening into the organ chamber and vestry; and a 15th-century rectangular moulded bracket. The north wall has three three-light windows similar to the east window; a late 14th-century doorway with two-centred head of two chamfered orders on hollow chamfered jambs with moulded imposts, composed partly of re-used materials; and a 13th-century bracket carved with stiff-leaf foliage. The west wall, which is very thick and may be of earlier date than the rest of the aisle, has a three-light window similar to the others. The windows have fragments of 15th-century painted glass, mostly simple quarries, but the east window has parts of four seraphim. The early 16th-century pentroof has simply moulded main beams which had applied carved bosses at the intersections, now all missing.

The south aisle is largely of 13th-century date heightened in the 14th century; the steep pitch of the earlier west gable may still be seen. The eastern part is wholly of the latter date, and has a late 14thcentury two-light east window, with vertical tracery in a four-centred head. The south wall has a somewhat similar window but with a two-centred head and more simple tracery; a mid 14th-century two-light window probably originally square-headed with ogee heads to the lights, but now with a late 14th-century fourcentred head with vertical tracery added to the original window; a similar window to the last but with rather more of the original tracery left; a mid 13th-century doorway with a two-centred head of three hollow chamfered orders resting on three detached shafts on each side, all with capitals carved with conventional foliage and with moulded bases. The easternmost window has a little 15th-century painted glass. The west wall has a late 15th-century three-light window with a four-centred head. The early 16th-century pent-roof has moulded beams with bosses carved on the solid at the intersections.

The late 14th-century west tower has a two-centred tower arch of one continuous moulded order. The west doorway has a two-centred head and continuous moulded jambs; above it is a two-light transomed window with a four-centred head. In the north wall is a small four-centred recess with a flue in the wall having a quatrefoiled outlet a little higher up, perhaps 15th century, and possibly used for baking the wafers. In the next stage there is a spherical-triangular window with tracery composed of six trefoiled triangles, in the west wall; and a cruciform loop with lobed ends in the north and south walls. The stage above has a two-light window with a four-centred head, in the west wall. The belfry windows are coupled two-lights with transoms and with twocentred heads. The tower has diagonal buttresses at the north-west and south-west corners and rising to the sills of the belfry windows; above the windows is a band of quatrefoiled panels below an embattled parapet with carved grotesques below the stringcourse, and large carved gargoyles in the centre of each face. Base blocks for pinnacles remain on the angles of the parapet coping. From behind the parapet rises an octagonal stone spire divided into stages by four string-courses and having a small doorway on to the parapet on the western side, and two tiers of spire lights on the cardinal faces, both two-lights, but the upper tier has lost its mullions. The copper weather-cock is dated 1834. The tower stairs are in the south-east corner, where they form a rectangular projection, and push the southern belfry window out of place. The top of the spire is 108 ft. 4 in. above the ground.

In 1793 a west gallery was erected for the singers (fn. 103) and, presumably, it was taken down in 1876.

The late 14th-century south porch has a twocentred outer archway of two moulded orders, the lower order carried on semicircular attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The side walls each have two square-headed two-light windows with vertical tracery. The roof is of 16th-century date with moulded beams.

The aisles and porch have plain parapets, and the nave has embattled parapets with grotesque gargoyles.

The 14th-century font has a plain octagonal bowl on an octagonal stem and a square base.

There are four bells, (fn. 104) inscribed: (1) Vox mea plene dulces laudes det Magdalene. (2) G. Mears & Co. Founders London Richard Latham Rector John Pashler Churchwarden 1863. (3) Vox dni ihu xpi wox exultacionis. (4) Robarte Newcombe made me. 1585. The first bell by Robert Oldfield of Nottingham. The old second was by William Hull and was dated 1687. (fn. 105) The third bell by Watts of Leicester; and the fourth by Robert Newcombe of the same place. In 1709 there were four bells and a sanctus bell. (fn. 106) The bells were rehung in a new frame in 1863. (fn. 107)

The church seems to have possessed a clock in 1709; (fn. 108) but a new one is said to have been provided in 1759, which was restored and improved in 1922.

Under the chancel arch is a 15th-century oak screen, consisting of three bays with two-centred arches; the two side bays each having two mullions and vertical tracery, and the central opening having similar tracery but the lower part broken away. The closed lower panels of the side bays are divided into three and have tracery with eagles and foliage in the spandrels. The loft and coving have gone, and there is not so much as a cross-beam above the arches. (fn. 109)

The oak Communion table has large turned and carved legs and carved rails, and is inscribed on the front rail 'The gift of Thomas Ekins in the yeare 1634,' and on the back rail 'TE WE EE HE.'

The octagonal oak pulpit is modern but incorporates some 15th-century mouldings and traceried panels.

On the east wall of the vestry is a late 13th-century tapering coped slab with scroll-crosses at each end and a plain cross in the middle. Also in the vestry, a large stone slab with chamfered under-edges on two sides, may be an altar slab. A fragment of an 11th or 12th century headstone with broad-armed cross lies loose in the north aisle. In the churchyard is a 13th-century tapered coffin-lid having a cross on a calvary and with the double-omega ornament.

In the nave is a very fine brass candelabrum with a large ball and two tiers of candle-brackets, and surmounted with a double-headed crowned eagle displayed. The ball is engraved with two coats of arms with inscriptions below them: (1) Brasenose College, 'Collegium Aenei-nasi'; (2) Sable, on a saltire engrailed argent, an escutcheon or charged with a cross gules. (Morris.) 'Luceat Lux vestra. Ex donis Joannis Morris de London generosi, 1666.' It must have been given by Morris to the College, and by them, at a later date, to the church.

A picture of the Entombment, by Vandyke, now on the south wall of the south aisle, was given by Sir Felix Booth.

Five pieces of 14th-century embroidery from this church were sold to the South Kensington Museum in 1902. Originally the orphreys of a cope, but made up as covers for five kneeling cushions possibly in the 16th century. They contain figures of St. Philip, St. James the Less, St. Thomas, King Edward the Confessor, and a sainted Pope, and the arms of William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon, and Juliana de Leybourne, his wife (married 1329). (fn. 110)

There was an Easter Sepulchre in 1503, and an image of Our Lady of Pity in 1530. (fn. 111)

There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to Elizabeth (Humfrey) wife of Thomas Brudenell, d. 1656; Anne (Chernocke) wife of the Rev. William Bunbury, d. 1737; the Rev. William Bunbury, Rector, d. 1748, and the Rev. Charles Bunbury his son, d. 1749; the Rev. Matthew Maddock, Rector, d. 1788, and Penelope (Wickham) his wife, d. 1793; the Rev. Thomas Evanson, Rector, d. 1835; the Rev. Richard Latham, Rector, d. 1873, and Arabella his wife, d. 1885; and glass windows to Harriet, younger daughter of Major-Gen. William Croxton, d. 1876; the Rev. William Woodward, Rector [d. 1912]; and Elizabeth Mary, wife of the Rev. William Woodward. In the nave, to Leonard Austin Coe, killed in the Great War, 1916, and Ralph Reader Coe, died of wounds, 1917. In the north aisle, to Major-General William Croxton, H.E.I.C.S., d. 1844; Sir Felix Booth, Bart., d. 1850; Elizabeth Booth, daughter of Philip Booth and sister of Sir Felix, d. 1846; William Pashler, d. 1915, and Mary his wife, d. 1912; and floor slab to MajorGen. William Croxton, d. 1844. In the south aisle, to Dr. John Lawton (n.d.), and Rose (Driden) his second wife, d. 1710; Benjamin Measures, d. 1924, and Anne (Peake) his wife, d. 1924.

The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms, marriages and burials 1 May 1561 to 2 April 1677; (ii) baptisms 26 Nov. 1696 to 29 June 1707, marriages 12 Oct. 1693 to 30 January 1704/5, burials 4 April 1679 to 26 Aug. 1707; (iii) baptisms, marriages and burials 10 Feb. 1707 to 10 June 1810, marriages end 4 March 1753; (iv) baptisms and burials 10 Aug. 1809 to 29 Dec. 1812; (v) the Official Marriage Book 28 July 1754 to 6 Aug. 1812.

The church plate consists of (fn. 112) a silver cup with an engraved band of Elizabethan ornament round the bowl, hall-marked for 1568–9; a silver paten, old and thin, with no marks; a silver plate, inscribed 'The Gift of Penelope the wife of Matthew Maddock Clerk Rector of Great Catworth to the Church there. Dec. 25, 1778,' hall-marked for 1778–9; a silver jug, inscribed 'Triuni Deo et Ecclesiae de Catworth Magnâ in Com Huntingdon, D.D.D. M. Maddock, Rector 1771,' hall-marked for 1771–2.


The advowson was held by the Bekerings, subtenants of the principal manor and their descendants (fn. 113) until purchased in 1675 by Brasenose College, Oxford, (fn. 114) by whom it is now held.

The church was taxed at £16 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 115) and valued at £18 13s. 4d. in 1535. (fn. 116)

Inclosures and encroachments at an earlier date had led in 1749 to an agreement at a public vestry signed by the minister and parishioners to regain lost lands and inquire into boundaries. (fn. 117)


The following charities are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 22 June 1923.

(1) Poor's Land.—About 2½ acres of land in Mill Fields was allotted under an award dated 8 November 1799 made under the Inclosure Act. The land is let in allotments, the rents of which amount to about £35s. per annum.

(2) The charity known as Maundy Thursday Dole comprises the charities of Susan Hawkins, Ellen Walsham, William Croxton, Robert Pashler and Mrs. Simpson, Parish Property, and the charity of the Rev. Thomas Evanson for Money Gifts: The charities of Susan Hawkins and Ellen Walsham consisted of sums of £10 and £4 cash and were originally given to be laid out in land for the poor. They were expended in improvements of the land of the Poor's Land Charity and a sum of 12s. 6d. a year has been paid out of the income of the Poor's Land Charity as interest on these sums. The charities of William Croxton and Robert Pashler consisted of sums of £5 and £10 cash and were originally given for the benefit of the poor. They were in 1763 applied towards building a house for the parish clerk. Since then 15s. a year has been paid out of the income of the Parish Clerk's Charity as interest on these sums. The charity of Mrs. Simpson consists of two rentcharges of 5s. each issuing out of two houses in Catworth. The Parish Property and the charity of the Rev. Thomas Evanson for Money Gifts were founded by will proved 14 March 1835. The endowment of these charities consists of £74 18s. 4d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock.

(3) The Apprentice Fund, comprising the charities of Ann Banks, the Rev. Matthew Maddock, the Rev. Thomas Evanson for apprenticing, and the charity of John Evanson (otherwise Mrs. Howell's Fund): The charity of Ann Banks consists of an allotment of land in Mill Fields containing about 2½ acres allotted under the above award. The land is let in allotments and produces about £2 15s. per annum in rent. The charity of the Rev. Matthew Maddock was founded by will in 1788. The endowment of this charity consists of £243 0s. 5d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock. The charity of the Rev. Thomas Evanson for apprenticing, founded by will proved 14 March 1835, consists of £99 14s. 5d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock. The charity of John Evanson was founded by gift about 1835. The endowment of this charity consists of £224 10s. 9d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock. There are also a sum of £449 12s. 1d. War Stock and a sum of £37 0s. 3d. Consolidated Stock representing the accumulations of income of the four charities comprised in the Apprentice Fund.

(4) William Cooper's Charity, comprising the charities of William Cooper and the Rev. Thomas Evanson for New Year Bread: William Cooper by will dated 1770 gave the sum of £20 for the benefit of the poor of the parish. The sum is now represented by £21 15s. 4d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock. The endowment of the charity of the Rev. Thos. Evanson, founded by will proved 14 March 1835, consists of £43 11s. 5d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock. There is also a sum of £7 1s. 1d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock representing the accumulations of income of the two charities comprised in William Cooper's Charity.

The several sums of stock are held by the Official Trustees.

The first, second and fourth charities have been consolidated under the title of Eleemosynary Charities and the third is administered under the title of the Apprentice Fund. The trustees of the charities are the rector of Great Catworth (ex officio) and 4 representative trustees appointed by the Parish Council of Great Catworth. The income of the charities, amounting to nearly £50 per annum, is applied in accordance with the provisions contained in the said scheme of 22 June 1923.

The charities known as Church Land and Parish Clerk's Charity are now regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 22 June 1923.

Church Land.—An allotment of land in Mill Fields containing about 5 acres allotted under the award dated 8 November 1799 made under the Inclosure Act 35 Geo. III. The land is let in allotments and the rent is applied towards the maintenance and repair of the parish church.

Parish Clerk's Charity.—The endowment of this charity consists of the Parish Clerk's House and an allotment of land in Mill Fields containing 1 rood 24 poles allotted under the said award. The income of the charity is applied in accordance with provisions contained in the above-mentioned scheme.

The charities are administered by the rector and churchwardens of Great Catworth.

Town Lands in Little Catworth.—The Town Lands are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 15 December 1871 and consist of pasture land in Catworth and Long Stow containing about 4 acres 2 roods. The land is now let to Mr. J.W. Bridge at a rent of £6 per annum, which is applied for the benefit of deserving and necessitous inhabitants of Little Catworth.


  • 1. Wills, Archd. Hunt. Reg. vii, fol. 215.
  • 2. Priv. Stat. 20 Geo. III, cap. 62.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid. 35 Geo. III, cap. 24.
  • 5. Dict. Nat. Biog.; cf. Chan. Proc. (Ser. ii), bdle. 53, no. 77.
  • 6. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 347b.
  • 7. Ibid. 349b, 351a.
  • 8. Ibid. 328, 342.
  • 9. Ibid. Nortbants, i, 316b.
  • 10. Ibid. Hunts, i, 354–5.
  • 11. Ibid. p. 317.
  • 12. Duchy of Lanc. Anct. D. 19; Cal. Inq. ii, no. 313; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 624; Cal. Close R. 1374–7, p. 24; Chan. Inq. p.m. 46 Edw. III, no. 10; 11 Ric. II, no. 7; 4 Hen. VI, no. 25; (Ser. ii), cclxxxiv, 35; cccx, 75; Feet of F. Hunts, East. 4 Jas. I.
  • 13. H. H. E. Craster, Hist. of Northumberland, x, 308–9.
  • 14. Cal. Inq. Hen. III, no. 791.
  • 15. Cal. Inq. ii, 313.
  • 16. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 624. 632.
  • 17. Feud. Aids, ii, 467.
  • 18. Cal. Fine R. 1272–1307, 214.
  • 19. Cal. Pat. R. 1281–92, p. 179.
  • 20. Ibid. 254.
  • 21. Cal. Close R. 1279–88, p. 504.
  • 22. Ibid. 1288–96, p. 28.
  • 23. Cal. Fine R. 1272–1307, 256.
  • 24. Cal. Close R. 1288–96, p. 79.
  • 25. Ibid. 279.
  • 26. Cal. Inq. iii, no. 435.
  • 27. Cal. Pat. R. 1317–21, p. 151. His mother Cecily was still living (ibid. 216).
  • 28. Cal. Inq. vi, no. 684.
  • 29. Cal. Feet of F. Hunts (Camb. Antiq. Soc.), 70.
  • 30. Cal. Close R. 1349–54, p. 444; Cal. Inq. x, no. 39.
  • 31. Cal. Pat. R. 1354–8, p. 432.
  • 32. Chan. Inq. p.m. 50 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 8.
  • 33. Ibid. 11 Ric. II, no. 7.
  • 34. Ibid. 4 Hen. VI, no. 25.
  • 35. Feud. Aids, ii, 475.
  • 36. Chan. Inq. p.m. 37 Hen. VI, no. 14.
  • 37. Cal. Inq. Hen. VII, i, nos. 568–74.
  • 38. Ibid. no. 297.
  • 39. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. ii), xxix, 10.
  • 40. Ibid. cvii, 55.
  • 41. Cal. Feet of F. Hunts (Camb. Antiq. Soc.), p. 190.
  • 42. Recov. R. East. 14 Eliz. ro. 921; 7 Anne, ro. 7; Hil. 9 Geo. II, ro. 190; Cal. Feet of F. Hunts, loc. cit.
  • 43. Ibid. pp. 191–2.
  • 44. Feet of F. Hunts. East. 10 Jas. I.
  • 45. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. ii), dcxxxiv, 21. In 1635 Thomas Ekins presented his son-in-law, William Berridge, to the rectory. He possibly lived in a great house, whose foundations are indicated near the church (Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. iv, 58–9).
  • 46. Priv. Stat. 35 Geo. III, cap. 24.
  • 47. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 624. Before the parishes of Great and Little Catworth were united for civil purposes in 1885, a small part of Little Catworth had been attached to Great Catworth, but the greater portion was attached to Stow Longa.
  • 48. Cal. Close R. 1318–23, p. 354.
  • 49. Cal. Feet of F. Hunts (Camb. Antiq. Soc.), p. 54; Cal. Close R. 1318–23, p. 163.
  • 50. Ibid. 1302–7, p. 44; 1307–13, p. 381.
  • 51. Cal. Inq. ii, no. 679.
  • 52. Rot. Hund. loc. cit.
  • 53. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), p. 303.
  • 54. Assize R. 348, m. 1.
  • 55. Cal. Close R. 1346–9, pp. 64–5.
  • 56. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. ii), ccccxxix, 132.
  • 57. V.C.H. Northants, iii, 125; Hunts, ii, 347–8.
  • 58. Cbron. Petrob. (Camden Soc.), p. 173.
  • 59. Pytchley, Bk. of Fees (Northants Rec. Soc.), 97, 99 n.; Cal. Feet of F. Hunts (Camb. Antiq. Soc.), 9, 14; Cal. Doc. Scotl. i, no. 1153.
  • 60. Ibid.
  • 61. Pytchley, op. cit. 97.
  • 62. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 625.
  • 63. Ibid. 626.
  • 64. Chan. Inq. p.m. 16 Edw. I, no. 26.
  • 65. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xii (ii), g. 1311 (20).
  • 66. Ibid. xvi, g. 878 (31); Cal. Feet of F. Hunts (Camb. Antiq. Soc.), 132; with 2 messuages, 400 acres land, 20 acres meadow, 30 acres pasture, 6 acres wood, 6s. 8d. rent, in Great Catworth and Kimbolton.
  • 67. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. ii), ci, 90.
  • 68. Chan. Proc. (Ser. ii), bdle. 111, no. 34.
  • 69. Ibid. bdle. 59, no. 48.
  • 70. Pat. R. 9 Eliz. pt. viii.
  • 71. Feet of F. Hunts, Mich. 1 Chas. I.
  • 72. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. ii), ccccxxv, 77.
  • 73. Recov. R. Mich. 13 Chas. I, ro. 97.
  • 74. Feet of F. Hunts, Hil. 1649–50.
  • 75. Recov. R. Mich. 3 Geo. IV, ro. 139.
  • 76. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 355a.
  • 77. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 626, 632.
  • 78. Feud. Aids, ii, 470.
  • 79. Cal. Inq. vii, no. 300 (p. 229); Cal. Close R. 1330–3, p. 201.
  • 80. Ibid. 1349–54, p. 553.
  • 81. Cal. Pat. R. 1358–61, p. 531.
  • 82. Chan. Inq. p.m. 20 Ric. II, no. 30: at the death of Thomas de Holand, Earl of Kent.
  • 83. Cal. Pat. R. 1388–92, p. 331.
  • 84. Cal. Feet of F. Hunts (Camb. Antiq. Soc.), 94.
  • 85. Ibid. pp. 37–8.
  • 86. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 624.
  • 87. Ibid.; and see p. 625.
  • 88. Cat. Anct. D. i, B. 947; iii, D. 180.
  • 89. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 258.
  • 90. Chan. Inq. p.m. 16 Edw. I, no. 26. Another tenant of Thomas Bekering in 1287 was Gilbert Russel for 1/24 fee. The Russels and their heirs, the Papworths, held with Papworth lands and rents of the abbots of Sawtry (Cal. Inq. Hen. III, no. 133; Cal. Inq. v, no. 464; Cal. Feet of F. Hunts (Camb. Antiq. Soc.), 58).
  • 91. Cal. Inq. Misc. i, 585.
  • 92. Cal. Close R. 1242–7, p. 312.
  • 93. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 625.
  • 94. Pope Nicb. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 51.
  • 95. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 253.
  • 96. Add. Ch. 33242.
  • 97. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 624, 625.
  • 98. Cal. Feet of F. Hunts (Camb. Antiq. Soc.), p. 177.
  • 99. Feet of F. Hunts, Trin. 1 Jas. I.
  • 100. The vestry is entirely modern, 1876; it is not mentioned in J. H. Parker, Eccles. and Arcbit. Topog. of Engl. pt. v, Hunts, 1851.
  • 101. William Smyth, rector, 1528, left 'To a table carving of Saint Leonard in timber work £3, also that the said table be giltede at my cost and charge.' Evidently a retable (Wills, Archd. Hunt. Reg. iii, fol. 53).
  • 102. From an old photograph.
  • 103. Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. iv, p. 54.
  • 104. Wm. Smythe, rector, 1528 left 6s. 8d. to the bells (Wills, Archd. Hunt. Reg. iii, fol. 53).
  • 105. T. M. N. Owen, Cb. Bells of Hunts, quoting Tyssen's 'Sussex Bells.'
  • 106. Rec. Archd. of Hunt. no. 228, Terriers.
  • 107. Churchwardens' Books.
  • 108. Rec. Archd. of Hunt. no. 228, Terriers.
  • 109. Alice Torkington, 1528, left 20d. to painting the rood-loft (Wills, Archd. Hunt. Reg. iii, fol. 39a).
  • 110. They are described, with illustration, by W. R. Lethaby in Proc. Soc. of Antiq. of London (2nd series), xxxi, pp. 392–393.
  • 111. Wills, Archd. Hunt. Reg. ii, fol. 43; Reg. iv, fol. 21.
  • 112. In 1709 there were a silver chalice, 5 dwt. 9 grains, and a plate, presumably the cover, 2 dwt. (Rec. Archd. of Hunt. no. 228, Terriers).
  • 113. Rot. Rob. Grosseteste (Cant. and York Soc.), 262; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 624 et seq.
  • 114. Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. iv, 51.
  • 115. Pope Nicb. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 36.
  • 116. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 260.
  • 117. Cambs and Hunts Arcb. Soc. Trans. iv, 52–3.