Parishes: Spaldwick

Pages 97-100

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


Spalduuic, Spaldewick (xi cent.); Spaldewic (xi–xii cent.).

The parish of Spaldwick comprises 1,552 acres of clay land, most of which is pasture. The Ellington Brook flows through it from west to east to the north of the village, and the land rises from the brook, where it is about 73 ft. above Ordnance datum, to about 180 ft. to the north, and undulates upwards to about 218 ft. to the south. We have reference in the 12th century to the ' Forest of Spaldwick,' (fn. 1) and in 1185 the Bishop of Lincoln owed 35s. 3d. for assarts there and at Buckden. (fn. 2) In 1215 the bishop had permission to inclose and impark his wood at Spaldwick, (fn. 3) and in 1227 he was granted deer-leaps there. (fn. 4) The bishop and the dean and chapter continued to obtain confirmations of their assarts into the 15th century. (fn. 5) Nothing now remains of the park.

The village lies along the road from Huntingdon to Thrapston, from which former place it is about seven miles. This road forms the village High Street, and at the extreme west end passes over the brook by a 15th-century stone bridge of three arches, which has been widened with brickwork on the north side at a later date. On the south side the bridge retains its ancient features, the centre arch being of two chamfered orders, while the side arches are of single chamfered orders; the cutwaters remain on the south side. At the west end of the High Street is the village green, where there is a stone which was probably the base of the village cross; and in the garden of a house on the south side is a stone that may have been a portion of the cross. The street widens out at the west end, and here probably were held the Wednesday market and possibly the yearly fairs held on the feast of St. Philip and St. James (1 May) and the feast of St. Hugh of Lincoln (17 November), which were granted to the Bishop of Lincoln in 1441. (fn. 6) In 1682 a fair on Wednesday before Whit Sunday was granted, and this and the fair of St. Hugh (which became 28 November by the addition of 11 days for the New Style) were held as cattle fairs in the 19th century. (fn. 7) Both market and fairs are now discontinued.

The High Street has some interesting 17th-century houses. The George Inn, at the west end on the north side, is a timber-framed and tiled house with projecting upper story. It was built in the early part of the 17th century, but was much altered about a hundred years later. On the same side, in about the middle of the street, is the Manor Farm, a timber-framed and tiled house with projecting upper story along the street front. It was probably built about 1628, when the manor was granted to Henry, Earl of Manchester. Eastward of the Manor Farm is a late 17th-century red brick house with projecting porch and brick pilasters. This house, known as ' The Limes,' goes with West Lodge Farm and was owned and occupied by the Day family who figured in the two famous trials for ejectment in 1784 and 1797 which raised the question of legitimacy of the defendant. Opposite this house is another red brick house with the initials P D (fn. 8) and the date 1688 over the front door. This house was occupied by William Ladds early in the 19th century and later by the Ashton family. Somewhat westward is a timber-framed 17th-century house called ' Beech House,' in which the Mann family lived early in the 19th century and which was later the home of the Browns. There is a Baptist chapel at the east end of the village which was built in 1844. A Baptist meeting house was registered for solemnisation of marriages in 1838. (fn. 9)

Long Lane leads from the High Street southward to Upthorpe (Opthorpe, xiii cent.; Ugthorpe, xviii cent.), where there was formerly a hamlet (fn. 10) now marked by irregularity of the ground. A Presbyterian meeting house was licensed here in 1672. (fn. 11) At the south-west corner of the High Street a branch road runs to Stow Longa and Kimbolton. At Belton's Hill, half a mile to the north of the village, there is a windmill. There was also a windmill south of the village.

The church stood in a large area inclosed with a ditch and bank (fn. 12) at the west end of the village. This inclosure, known as Bury Close, was probably the site of the Bishop of Lincoln's manor house or grange, but there has not been a house here for many years. There was formerly a windmill here, which was perhaps the mill granted in 1609 to Edward Ferrers and Frank Phillips. (fn. 13)

There was an Inclosure Award for Spaldwick cum Upthorpe in 1777. (fn. 14)

Owen Evans, a royalist, who became vicar of Spaldwick in 1613, was made prebendary of the prebend of Sanctae Crucis otherwise Spaldwick in 1640–1, but was ejected during the Rebellion, the living being sequestrated in 1651. Evans returned at the Restoration, but died in 1662 a very old man. John Mason (1677–1723), son of John Mason, the hymn-writer, was a non-conformist divine at Spaldwick, and his son, another John Mason (1706–63), an author, was also an Independent minister at Spaldwick.

The nearest railway station is at Grafham, about three and a half miles from Spaldwick.


According to the 'Liber Eliensis,' SPALDWICK was granted to Ely Abbey by Brithnoth, (fn. 15) who succeeded Aelfgar, ealdorman of the East Saxons, father of his wife Aethelflaed. (fn. 16) Brithnoth fell at the Battle of Maldon in 991, and the monks brought the headless body of their benefactor to Ely, (fn. 17) where his bones still rest. It was stated about this time that no land in the sheriffwick of Huntingdon was so free that it could not be lost by forfeiture, save two hides in Bluntisham and two hides at Spaldwick. (fn. 18) The manor was allotted by Abbot Leofsin, in the time of Cnut, to the food of the monks for two weeks in the year. (fn. 19) It was confirmed to the abbey by Edward the Confessor. (fn. 20)

Bishopric of Lincoln. Gules two leopards or and a chief azure with the Virgin and Child or therein.

In 1086 the abbey held Spaldwick as a manor of 15 hides, inclusive of its berewicks of Stow Longa, Easton and Barham. Four carucates (fn. 21) were held by the abbot in demesne ' in thegnland,' ungelded, and there were 50 villeins and 10 borders, and in Little Catworth 4 hides with 7 villeins. (fn. 22) In order to compensate the Bishop of Lincoln for loss of jurisdiction when the new diocese of Ely was formed in 1109, Spaldwick ' as the Abbot of Ely held it' was given to him. (fn. 23) The Bishop of Lincoln continued in possession until 1543, (fn. 24) with the exception of a brief period in 1265 when the bishop was believed to have been an adherent of Simon de Montfort, (fn. 25) and again in 1324, (fn. 26) when Bartholomew de Burghersh was deprived for aiding in the escape of Roger Mortimer from the Tower.

In 1547 the bishop exchanged the manor and soke with the king for other property, (fn. 27) and the Crown retained it until 1620. (fn. 28) It was then granted, with all its rights, members and appurtenances, assize rents in Spaldwick, Upthorpe, Barham, Easton and Stow Longa, and the rents of the customary tenants in the same and Little Catworth, to John Lord Digby and his heirs. (fn. 29) Digby seems to have surrendered it to the Crown, and in 1625 it was granted to Edward Allen and others. (fn. 30) In 1628 the manor and soke were finally granted to Henry, Earl of Manchester, and his heirs. (fn. 31) From that date Spaldwick and its soke have descended with Kimbolton (fn. 32) (q.v.).

Free warren was granted to the Bishop of Lincoln in 1329. (fn. 33)

The Marchioness of Northampton had a rent from this manor in the early 17th century, (fn. 34) and from 1700 a yearly rent of £54 7s. 4d. descended with the manor of Leighton Bromswold. (fn. 35)


The Soke of Spaldwick has always followed the descent of the manor, and is now owned by the Duke of Manchester. In 1286 the Bishop of Lincoln claimed in Spaldwick many privileges and jurisdictional rights, including view of frankpledge, waifs, quittance of murders, common amercements, fines and suits of county courts and hundred courts by immemorial right (except murders, which he claimed under charter of Richard I made in 1190), and that he had the right to gallows and tumbril. (fn. 36) The soke includes Spaldwick, Upthorpe (in Spaldwick), Barham, Easton, Stow Longa and the greater part of Little Catworth. In 1086 the soke was stated to be 'altogether three leucas long and 2 leucas broad,' (fn. 37) which closely expresses the present size of 4½ miles by 2¾ miles.


The church of ST. JAMES consists of a chancel (28 ft. by 18 ft.), south chapel (17 ft. by 16 ft.), nave (40 ft. by 20¼ ft.), south aisle (40 ft. by 14½ ft.), west tower (12 ft. by 12 ft.), and south porch. The walls of the tower are of coursed rubble and, of the rest of the church, stone and pebble rubble, all with stone dressings; the roofs are covered with slates and lead.

The church is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), but there seems to have been an aisleless stone church here by the end of the 12th century, of which the north wall and small parts of the east wall remain; to this church a south aisle was added about 1250. The chancel with the chancel arch were rebuilt in the early years of the 14th century. The tower was commenced about the middle and completed, together with its spire, before the end of the 14th century, but apparently there was a cessation of the work about halfway up the tower, which may possibly have been caused by the Black Death (1349). Probably it had been intended to rebuild the nave, for a door for access to the roof was provided in the east wall of the tower; this idea must have been abandoned, and about 1370 a clearstory was added to the existing walls, and about the same time the porch was built. The south chapel was built c. 1500, and the south aisle and porch were rebuilt. In the 17th century two buttresses were built on the north side of the nave, the window between them was altered, and the parapets of the nave were rebuilt. A good deal of work was done at the church between 1810 and 1815; the nave was re-roofed in 1843; the greater part of the spire was rebuilt in 1850, and the upper part was again restored in 1873. The whole church was restored in 1863, when the roof of the south aisle was renewed, nearly all the windows reglazed, and the tower arch opened out. The spire was struck by lightning, 30 May 1904, and was afterwards repaired and partly rebuilt. The chancel was restored in 1908, and the tower in 1914.

The early 14th-century chancel has a three-light east window with geometrical tracery in a two-centred head. The north wall has two similar two-light windows. The south wall has a similar two-light window; a four-centred arch, c. 1500, of two chamfered orders, the lower order resting on semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; and a piscina with two-centred head, quatrefoiled basin and stone shelf.

The early 14th-century chancel arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the lower order is carried on semicircular moulded corbels; the arch is much distorted, and has probably spread to the north, the respond on that side being reconstructed with a curious bend just below the corbel. The northern corbel has been cut out of a 12th-century stone, and retains part of a string-course carved with chevron and billet ornaments. Above the arch the weather moulding of an earlier roof remains on the east side.

The south chapel, (fn. 38) c. 1500, has a four-light east window with a depressed four-centred arch and containing some fragments of early 16th-century glass, reset. On the north is the arch already mentioned, opening into the chancel. In the south wall are two three-light windows with depressed four-centred heads; and a piscina with two-centred head and rectangular basin. On the west is a four-centred arch of two chamfered orders, the lower order resting on semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. In the north-west angle is a moulded shelf. The contemporary oak roof has moulded beams and a carved boss.

Plan of Spaldwick Church

The late 12th-century nave has in the north wall an original doorway with semicircular head and continuous moulded jambs, ornamented with the curious pallets overlapping a roll and hollow after the fashion of a beak-head; (fn. 39) and an early 16th-century square-headed two-light window having 13th-century splays and reararch. The upper part of this wall is of c. 1370, and has three tall two-light transomed windows with tracery in fourcentred heads. The south arcade, c. 1250, is of four bays, having two-centred arches of two chamfered orders, and moulded labels having the nail-head ornament; they are carried on circular columns with moulded capitals (two having the nailhead ornament) and bases; the responds are semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals and chamfered bases, but the western respond is almost built into a buttress of the tower. The clearstory, c. 1370, has three squareheaded two-light windows which appear to have been reconstructed in the 16th century.

The south aisle, c. 1500, has in the south wall three three-light windows with depressed four-centred heads; a reset doorway of c. 1250, with a two-centred head of two continuous orders, the outer moulded and the other chamfered; and a 16th-century rectangular bracket. The west wall has a threelight window similar to the rest.

The 14th-century west tower has a two-centred tower arch of three chamfered orders, the lower order continued down as semi-octagonal attached shafts. The west doorway has a two-centred arch of three continuous moulded orders. The window above is of two lights with reticulated tracery in a twocentred head. The second stage has in the north, south and west walls a lozenge-shaped window with reticulated tracery and a label all round; in the east wall is a narrow doorway with a two-centred head, leading on to the nave roof. The third stage has a single-light window in the west wall. The belfry windows are coupled two-lights with transoms and with tracery in two-centred heads. The buttresses are square with the angles and rise to about halfway up the belfry windows. The tower is surmounted by an octagonal broach spire with boldly projecting figures at the tops of the broaches, and having three tiers of spire lights, all on the cardinal faces, the two lower tiers being two-lights, and the top tier single lights. The height from the ground to the top of the spire is 152 ft., and at the level of the top lights a stone is inscribed ' j. rivitt, 1873.' The stairs are in the south-west corner and are covered at the second stage with a stone vault with chamfered ribs and carved figure on the central boss. From the second stage a stairway entered from the north jamb of the west window runs up in the north-west angle to the belfry.

The south porch, c. 1500, has a reset late 14thcentury archway with a two-centred arch of two moulded orders, the lower order resting on semicircular attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. There is a square-headed two-light window in each of the side walls.

The 13th-century font has an octagonal bowl on an octagonal central and four modern octagonal smaller shafts on a square base.

There are six bells, inscribed: (1) H. T. HavardJones, Vicar. E. F. Brown, F. E. Last, Churchwardens, 1921. Alfred Bowell, Ipswich, made me & hung us all. 1921; (2) God save the King. 1635; (3) Robert Filbrigge and Richard Edwardes chvrchwardens. 1635; (4) Cvm . sono . si . non . vis venire . nvmqvam . ad preces . cvpies ire: 1635; (5) IHS Nazarenvs. rex Jvdeorvm. fili Dei. miserere mei. 1635; (6) Mi soundinge is each one to call to serve the Lord. 1635 (and on a line above) boeth great and small. The five old bells are by Hugh Watts, of Leicester, and are very fine bells. In 1552 there were four bells and a sanctus bell. (fn. 40) The old treble (now the second) bell was recast, a new treble added, and the whole hung in a steel frame by Bowell, of Ipswich, in 1921–22.

The south aisle is separated from the south chapel by an early 16th-century oak screen of five bays and an opening; the bays have simple open tracery and the lower panels, which do not range with those above, have tracery with carved spandrels. The upper beam is carved with an undulating vine and is surmounted by a much-mutilated cresting of foliage and crowns. The screen has been much patched, and possibly comprises parts of two screens. (fn. 41) In the south aisle is a 17th-century chest.

In the churchyard, on either side of the north door, are two early 14th-century coped coffin-lids with crosses at head and foot, and against the west wall of the tower is a portion of another slab.

In the south chapel are the matrices of two brasses: one with indent for figures of man, wife and inscription plate; and the other with indent for a small figure with scroll and inscription plate.

There are the following monuments: in the south chapel, to Ann, wife of the Rev. John Thompson, d. 1802, Mary Ann, their daughter, d. 1806, Mary, his mother, d. 1807, John Rice, d. aged 14, and Frederic Dennis, d. in infancy, two nephews, and the Rev. John Thompson, d. 1826; Mrs. Elizabeth Dennis, sister of the Rev. John Thompson, d. 1828; and the Rev. Richard Andrew, vicar, d. 1848; floor slabs to . . . . . . 1716; Sarah, relict of the Rev. John Davis, vicar of Easton, d. 1819; Letitia (Hewet), wife of William Sharman, d. 1820; and William Sharman, d. 1823. In the nave, to John, son of Christopher and Mary Ann Newton, d. 1820; Christopher Newton, d. 1839; and the Rev. Richard Andrew, vicar, d. 1848; glass windows to Thomas Heading, d. 1885, Alice Jellis (Heading), d. 1911, George Cooper Heading, d. 1884, Kathleen Mary Jellis, d. 1900, and Phyllis May Jellis, d. 1900; Daniel Cooper, d. 1896, Susan Cooper (Jellis), d. 1900, Thomas James Cooper, d. 1898, and Elizabeth Cooper, d. 1896; John Atwood Hulbert, d. 1913, Elizabeth Brown Hulbert (Ravenhill), d. 1905, John Ernest Hulbert, d. 1908, and Patrick Ravenhill Hulbert, d. 1915. In the south aisle, to James Mann, d. 1826; and William Harold Ashton, d. 1919.

The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms 6 January 1687/8 to 16 November 1794, marriages 6 October 1695 to 1 January 1754, and burials 3 March 1697/8 to — June 1792; (ii) baptisms and burials 27 January 1793 to 1 November 1812; (iii) the Official Marriage Book 14 July 1754 to 24 October 1812.

The church plate consists of: A silver-gilt cup, inscribed 'This comunion cupp and trencher was given by the Lady Magdalin Hide to the Church and Parish of Spaldwick for the servis of the Lords table anno domini 1628,' hall-marked for 1628–9; a silver gilt cover-paten, inscribed 'This trencher was given by the Lady Magdalin Hide to the Church and Parish of Spaldwick for the servis of the Lords Table anno domini 1628,' hall-marked as the cup; a small pewter plate.


Although no documentary evidence of a church at Spaldwick has been found before 1248, (fn. 42) the architecture indicates the existence of a church here in the latter part of the 12th century. Stow Longa was the chief church of the Soke and the impropriate rectory and advowson of Spaldwick formed a part of the prebend of Stow Longa in the cathedral church of Lincoln, probably from 1109 and certainly from 1265. The prebend of Sanctae Crucis alias Spaldwick only obtained its second name because at a later date it was endowed with some of the tithes of Spaldwick, apparently those of the bishop's demesne lands there. (fn. 43) The advowson continued to belong to the prebendary of Stow Longa until 1839, (fn. 44) when it was transferred to the Bishop of Ely, who is still patron of the living.

In 1869, the benefices of Spaldwick and Barham were united by Order in Council.


Town and Poor's Estate.—This property consists of 3 acres 2 roods 2 poles of grass land in the parish, the rents of which are applied for the benefit of the poor. The land is now let for about £10 per annum and this sum is distributed in bread and money to the poor of the parish.

Ann Goodwin, by indenture dated 21 Oct. 1735, charged her lands in Barham with a yearly payment of £3 to be distributed as follows: 10s. for the vicar of Spaldwick for preaching a sermon; 1s. for the parish clerk of Spaldwick; 29s. for bibles and prayer-books for distribution amongst children of Spaldwick, Stow, Little Catworth, Easton and Barham; 10s. for distribution in bread amongst poor of the above parishes; 10s. for refreshments on the day of distribution. The rentcharge is regularly paid by Mrs. B. Horsford, the occupier of the lands charged, and distributed by the vicar of Spaldwick as follows: 10s. to the vicar for a sermon; 30s. for bibles and prayer-books distributed amongst children of Spaldwick, Stow, Little Catworth, Easton and Barham; 10s. in bread to the poor of the said parishes, and 10s. to missions.

Charity of Ann Horsford.—This charity consists of a gift of £100 by the two daughters of Mrs. Ann Cooper for the benefit of the poor of the parish. The endowment now consists of £98 7s. 9d. War Stock with the Official Trustees, the dividends on which are distributed in coal to the poor. The vicar and churchwardens are the trustees of the charity.


  • 1. Pipe Roll Soc. xii, 77.
  • 2. Ibid. xxxiv, 59.
  • 3. Rot. Chart. John (Rec. Com.), 204.
  • 4. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, pp. 42, 105.
  • 5. Ibid. 1327–41, pp. 108, 146; Cal. Pat. R. 1422–29, p. 421.
  • 6. Cal. Chart. R. 1427–1516, p. 24.
  • 7. Hatfield, Gaz. of Hunts, 1854, p. 596.
  • 8. Possibly for one of the Dorrington family.
  • 9. Index Lond. Gaz.
  • 10. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 616 b.
  • 11. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1672, pp. 62, 119.
  • 12. V.C.H. Hunts, i, p. 304.
  • 13. Pat. R. 7 Jas. I, pt. xvi; cf. Feet of F. Hunts, East. 17 Chas. II.
  • 14. Com. Pleas, Recov. R. Trin. 20 Geo. III, m. 163.
  • 15. Stewart, Lib. Eliensis, 180–3; cf. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 328.
  • 16. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 17. Stewart, loc. cit.
  • 18. Ibid. 138–9.
  • 19. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. i, 459.
  • 20. Kemble, Cod. Dipl. iv, 246. The genuineness of this charter is doubtful.
  • 21. Both terms, carucate and hide, are used.
  • 22. The Inq. Eliensis (Rec. Com.), 528, states there were 4 carucates besides the 15 hides which were held in thegnland and were ungelded, but the Domesday record (V.C.H. Hunts, i, 342a) does not say this.
  • 23. Harl. Chart. 43, C 11; Vet. Lib. Archidiac. Elien. (Camb. Antiq. Soc.), 170.
  • 24. Pipe R. Soc. xxxiv, 59 and passim; Cartul. Mon. de Rames. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 182; Feud. Aids, ii, 468, 471; Cal. Close R. 1323–7, pp. 86, 92; Cal. Pat. R. 1422 9, p. 421.
  • 25. Cal. Inq. Misc. i, no. 716.
  • 26. Cal. Close R. 1323–7, pp. 86, 92.
  • 27. Cal. Pat. R. 1547–8, p. 153.
  • 28. Chan. Proc. (Ser. ii), cxxxix, 35; Exch. Spec. Com. Hunts, no. 1072.
  • 29. Pat. R. 18 Jas. I, pt. v.
  • 30. Ibid. 1 Chas. I, pt. iv, m. 1.
  • 31. Ibid. 4 Chas. I, pt. xiv.
  • 32. Feet of F. Hunts, Hil. 1650–1.
  • 33. Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, p. 117.
  • 34. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1628–9, p. 161.
  • 35. Feet of F. Hunts, Trin. 12 Will. III; 4 Geo. I; Recov. R. Mich. 9 Geo. I, ro. 69; Trin. 3 Geo. III, ro. 309.
  • 36. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 299.
  • 37. Inq. Eliensis (Rec. Com.), p. 528.
  • 38. This chapel is sometimes called ' The Vicar's Chapel,' but it seems much more likely to have been the chapel of the Guild of St. Mary. John Tryce, 1493, left 2s. to the light of the Sepulchre, 6s. 8d. to the bells, 6s. 8d. to the Guild of the Blessed Mary of Spaldwick.
  • 39. See under Little Stukeley, V.C.H. Hunts, ii, p. 236.
  • 40. Excheq. K.R. Ch. Goods, bdle. 3, no. 5.
  • 41. In 1851 there was a screen across the chancel arch, and no mention is made of a screen to the chapel (The Eccles. and Archit. Topog. of Engl. (J. H. Parker), pt. v, Hunts, 1851). A screen seems to have been moved, in 1863 (Bills in Church Chest).
  • 42. Rot. Rob. Grosseteste (Cant. and York Soc.), p. 246.
  • 43. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 616b.
  • 44. Lond. Gaz. 23 Apr. 1839, p. 855.