Monday, 22 November 2010

Hinxton, Cambridgeshire

St Mary and St John is another Cambridgeshire church which seriously floats my boat - a nice brass, several monuments which led to more connections in my family tree and seriously nice exterior and interior architecture, a little bit of everything!

Evidence suggests that there was a Church in Hinxton in 1080. The Parish of Hinxton was given very soon after the Norman Conquest to the Prior and Convent of Barnwell, near Cambridge, by the founder of that religious house, Pycot, Sheriff of the County of Cambridge. As Pycot put it: “At the counsel of Remigius, Bishop of Lincoln, and moved by the entreaties of Hugoline my wife, I constitute the said Priory and I grant to it certain churches”. Among these is the Church of "Henchistone", which the Priory is “to have and to hold, freely, quietly, honourably, and entirely, in Meadows, in Lands and Pastures, and with the Tithes of Mills.”

The present building dates from about 1150. The walls are of flint rubble with Barnack limestone and clunch dressings. The roofs are tiled and leaded. The lower part of the tower is early English, about 1200-1260, but the upper part is later and, with its octagonal fleche spire and external sanctus bell, was added in 14th century.

The main south door, through which you enter the church, was added in the late 14th century and the wooden door dates from that time, probably being the original door. The porch was added for protection during 19th century restorations.

The blocked Norman doorway in the north wall, opposite the main entrance, was used for the first 300 years of this building's existence. The holy water stoup, beside the door, dates from the 15th century. The bowl was hacked out, probably by William Dowsing, in the 17th century.

The top section of the window beside the pulpit contains some medieval stained glass. There are two panels of richly coloured ancient glass in the window in the south aisle. There is also a tiny piece of medieval glass at the top of the window which is behind the organ.

The chancel screen is basically medieval. It used to be much bigger, but was reconstructed in the early 20thcentury, using some of the original woodwork. The choir stalls are also partly medieval and the fact that the return stalls face the altar suggests that they were there in medieval times.

During the 16th, and early 17th century the chancel was reported as ruinous, and when it was repaired it may have been shortened. The chancel must have been much lighter in earlier times because two windows on the north side have been blocked up. The visible one is Tudor in style and the other is covered by a Georgian monument, which records, among other things, the ravages of smallpox.

The wall monuments commemorate members of the Dayrell family (who were also of Shudy Camps qv) and there are five slate tomb slabs, marking their resting places.

The Hinxton brass on the floor of the south chapel (beneath the rug) is of Sir Thomas de Skelton and his wives, Margaret and Katherine. It is dated 1416. The fine central figure is in full Lancastrian plate armour, like that worn at the battle of Agincourt. Sir Thomas was a steward of John, Duke of Lancaster. The small insignia shields disappeared centuries ago. The south aisle was built under a bequest of Sir Thomas during the 15th century.

The top part of the font is thought to be Norman, but the supporting base was added much later. The date of the wooden font cover is uncertain.

Hinxton church has seven hatchments (five are in storage, requiring restoration), two of which hang above the font. The hatchment on the left is for Edward Green, 1770-1804. His son, Edward Humphrys Green, adopted the name of de Freville in 1850. He was descended from the de Freville family, who had been granted the manor of Great Shelford in 1180 by Henry II. He owned Hinxton Hall and when he died in 1867 he left it to his cousin, Major Edward Henry Green, on condition that he adopt the name and arms of de Freville. This he did and he is commemorated by the brass plaque on the wall, to the left of this hatchment. The hatchment on the right is for Charles Raikes of Hinxton, who died without issue on 16th February 1828.

ST MARY AND ST JOHN. Nave, chancel, S chapel and W tower with a lead spire. Flint and pebble rubble. Norman the plain, blocked, N doorway. The body of the tower is E.E. or rather Transitional, see the arch into the nave which is broad, only slightly chamfered, pointed and has an insignificant angle-shaft on each side towards the nave. The upper part of the tower Perp. E.E. the S chapel, see the unmistakable two-light E window with a quatrefoil above the two lights and inside shafts carrying a depressed arch starting on straight vertical pieces (cf. Duxford Chapel). Then follows the chancel, Dec in most features: arches to S chapel and to nave (four shafts, and in the diagonals four hollows between ridges, arches with two wave-moulds), E window (new?) and N window. - FONT. Square, Norman, with primitive angle shafts. - ROOD SCREEN. With tall one-light divisions, ogee arches and tracery above. Much renewed. - PULPIT. Jacobean, with tester. - DOOR with traceried head, S doorway. - MONUMENTS. Good brass to Sir Thomas Skelton d. 1416 and two wives (S chapel floor), 3 ft 9 in. figures. - Sir Marmaduke Dayrell and his mother, two identical Rococo monuments, ‘certainly by Edward Stanton’ (Mrs Esdaile). - Tablet by Regnart 1795.

St Mary and St John (6)


St Mary and St John (3)


Sir Thomas de Skelton 1416 (2)



HINXTON. Its thatched cottages stand in a row not far from the shady lane where the stream winds lazily through golden meadows, and a fine timbered house nods its overhanging storey in a sort of welcome to any visitor. If we come at the right time we shall be welcomed by the call of the sanctus bell outside the tiny spire rising from a dome set in the battlements of a 600-year-old tower. The story of the church begins about 1080, and from that time comes the font and a doorway blocked up in the nave. The rest of the church is mainly 14th and 15th century, and we come into it by a door which has been hanging most of the time since then. The chancel has old benches, and there are old beams in its roof. The ancient roof of the nave is a fine mass of timbering. There is a little old glass, an old oak screen with traceried bays and a modern cornice, a fine Jacobean pulpit, a peephole in the 14th century chancel arch, and a rood stairway is cut in the splay of a window. Here we come upon Sir Thomas Skelton, steward to John of Gaunt, his portrait engraved in brass in armour as he might have been at Agincourt, with his feet on a lion, and with him are his two wives in long gowns with draped headdresses, and with dogs at their feet.

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