Church of St Mary (Bluntisham), in Bluntisham

Rectory Road, Bluntisham, PE28 3LN

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Description of Church of St Mary (Bluntisham) at

Rectory Road, Bluntisham, PE28 3LN

 

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This is a legally protected building of historic significance

This location is listed Grade 1 by English Heritage

 

A description of the church and its contents from the Victoria County History, the County of Huntingdon: Volume 2. Published in 1932.

The Church of St. Mary consists of a chancel (37 ft. by 18 ft.), north vestry (9½ ft. by 10½ ft.), nave (51½ ft. by 16½ ft.), north aisle (11¾ ft. wide), south aisle (11¾ ft. wide), west tower (13¼ ft. by 12 ft.), and north and south porches. The walls are of rubble with stone and clunch dressings, and the roofs covered with tiles and lead.

Of the church mentioned in the Inquisitio Eliensis and in the Domesday Survey (1086) nothing now remains, the earliest parts of the existing building being the chancel with its north vestry or chapel built about 1330, and the west tower built about 1370-1380.

About 1450 the nave and aisles were rebuilt, the aisles being extended to the west wall of the tower, the side walls of which were pierced with arches; and the chancel arch rebuilt. The south porch was built at the same time as the aisle, but the north porch was added slightly later, as is shown by the plinth of the aisle running through the porch wall. (fn. 44)

The church was restored in 1850 when the chancel was much altered, the north wall and the vestry being largely rebuilt and a gallery removed.

The west tower was restored in 1903-1905, the south aisle in 1904, and other works in 1912-1913.

The chancel has a three-sided apse, each face of which is gabled and has a two-light window; in the north wall is a two-centred arch (modern) and a twolight window, and at its western end a round-arched wall recess; the south wall has three two-light windows and a low side window. The 15th century chancel arch is of two orders.

The north vestry or chapel, now an organ chamber, largely rebuilt, has an ancient east window and west doorway. (fn. 45)

The nave arcades are of four bays with two centred moulded arches, piers having four attached shafts with moulded caps and bases, and two-light clearstory windows. The weathering of the earlier and lower roof of the nave remains on the east face of the tower. The upper door of the rood-stairs remains in the north-east corner; the stair turret is on the outside and the lower doorway in the aisle, but access to it has been blocked by a large red-brick buttress built to strengthen the corner. The holes for the front beam of the loft remain on each side. Three of the lower panels of the 15th-century roodscreen remain, but moved to the west end of the church; two are painted with figures of St. John the Baptist and St. George and the Dragon of 16th century date, painted over earlier pictures of which fragments may still be seen. (fn. 46)

The roof is of 15th-century date, with moulded tie-beams and jack-legs with tracery panels in the spandrels. The stone corbels are carved with figures of angels playing musical instruments, etc.

The north aisle has a three-light east window; the north wall has four three-light windows each set in an internal wall recess with a two-centred arch, a doorway with jamb-shafts and moulded arch, and a small doorway to a turret staircase; the west wall has a window and wall recess similar to the others. The roof is of flat pitch and of 15th-century date.

The south aisle is similar to the north, but the east window has a niche on each side, and there is no turret doorway. At the eastern end of the south wall is a cinquefoiled ogee-headed piscina with a quatrefoil drain, and adjoining it is another small recess; immediately above these two is a low and broad cinquefoiled ogee-headed recess, of 14th-century date.

A few 15th-century floor tiles remain at the east end. The roof is modern. The slopes of the earlier aisle roofs are indicated on the fragments of the old west walls which flank the north-east and south-east angles of the tower.

The west tower is of three stages with a moulded plinth and embattled parapet. The eastern arch is original, two-centred and of three orders. The north and south arches are of clunch and were inserted in the 15th century, and the west door and three-light window are of the same date. The second stage has a single pointed light on each side, and the belfry windows are two-lights with restored mullions and tracery. The octagonal spire rising from within the parapet is 122 ft. high from ground to the top; it has three tiers of lights, the first and third on the cardinal faces. The stair turret at the north-east corner is finished at the top with a stone vault.

The north porch has a moulded arch, cinquefoiled and subcusped, inclosed within a segmental pointed arch, and above it is a cinquefoiled niche with crocketed ogee canopy. The side walls each have a twolight window. The porch formerly had a chamber over it, the weathering of the roof still remaining on the aisle wall; but the chamber has been removed and the porch reroofed lower down. The stair-turret remains and is finished with a pyramidal capping above the coping of the aisle parapet; the lower part of the doorway into the chamber may still be seen in the west wall. There is a stoup in the south-east corner of the porch.

The south porch has a moulded arch with a niche over it, and two-light windows in the side walls. On the parapet is an inscription—1656, T.D.—G.P.: T.S.—c., doubtless the date of repairs.

The font is octagonal, the bowl of stone, of about 1500, with quatrefoil panels, grotesque faces, leaves and flowers; the stem of clunch with panelled sides and moulded base, somewhat earlier.

On the walls of the chancel are monuments to the Rev. Samuel Saywell, S.T.P., rector, 1708, and his sister Sara, wife of Andrew Mieres, 1720; the Rev. Samuel Knight, S.T.P., rector, died 1746, aged 72; Margaret (Smelt), wife of the Rev. Richard Tillard, died 1841, aged 60; a window to the Rev. Richard Tillard, M.A., rector 45 years, died 1850, aged 85. On the floors are traces of two incised crosses, matrix of brass to civilian and wife, c. 1460, and slabs to Th- - - - arrington, 1713, aged 76; Richard Drury, of Colne, d. 1738, aged 64, and Joyce, his wife, d. 1752, aged 78, parents of Sir Thomas Drury, of Overstone, Northts., bart.; Ratford Grimditch, d. 1748, Elizabeth his wife, d. 1747, and Thomas their eldest son, d. 1780; Robert Grimditch, d. 1792, aged 57; the Rev. John Jacob Oakes, M.A., rector, d. 1796, aged 72; Dorothy, his wife, born 1730, d. 1780; Dorothy, his daughter, d. 1826, aged 69. In the churchyard is a table-tomb to Adrian Lucas, 1672, with curious inscription.

There are eight bells, inscribed: To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Thomas Edwards, MCMX; Quinque natu majoribus sum addita, MCMX, John R. Wormsley and Alfred King, Churchwardens; Willm. Dobson, Founder, Downham, Norfolk, 1832; Miles Graye made me, 1632; Thomas Newman made me, 1717, recast MCMX; Thomas Skeeles, Tho. Hovson, Churchwardens, 1716; Geo. Key and Aron Brown, juner, Churchwardens, 1801, Robt. Taylor, St. Neots, Founder; Gloria in excelsis Deo. Henry Sayers, Rector, and Arthur David Godfrey, sometime warden, gave me, MCMX.

In 1552 there were three bells. All were repaired in 1910, but they have no wheels and are only chimed.

There are small traces of wall paintings over the north door and at the east end of the south aisle.

 

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Additional high quality pictures relating to the Church of St Mary (Bluntisham)

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Church of St Mary from SE

Church of St Mary from SE

 

Church of St Mary from SW

Church of St Mary from SW

 

S Porch, Church of St Mary

S Porch, Church of St Mary

 

North Door, Church of St Mary

North Door, Church of St Mary

 

Chancel, Church of St Mary

Chancel, Church of St Mary

 

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