All Saints’ ChurcH Hartford

All Saints’ Church Hartford

The Hollow

Hartford, Huntingdon. PE29 1XP


Revd Geoff Boucher


on 01480 461846

The Church by the River

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The thickness of the north and east walls of the chancel indicate that they were built in the 12th Century. The chancel measures 211/4' x 131/2'. It has no ancient features except hollow chamfered splays and two 14th Century, centred rear arches to the east window, which were reset in 1861. The stained glass of this window was put in in 1867. The altar was raised in 1861. There is an inscription on the edge of the second step, unfortunately covered with car-pet, which ends in

'MDCCCLXVIII'. The floor was laid with 6in Jerrometallic Staffordshire red and black tiles. An unusual feature is that the 1861 Norman style, Chancel Arch is carved on both sides.

The Crucifer is 'In memory Ann Pryer 1853-1936' and the folding section on the oak altar rail is in memory of 'George William Knight, 1981, churchwarden for 34 years'.

North & South Aisles

With the exception of the east wall of the south aisle, most of the walls and windows were rebuilt during the 1861 restorations. The south doorway was reset with a modern round arch and c.1190 free shafts to the jambs, with simple moulded capitals and one with a chamfered abacus rounded at the angle. The doors are oak. The South Porch was built in 1861. The north aisle windows were presented by 'Rev. G. Cockburn Dickinson in Commemoration of the Queen's Jubilee 1887'.


The tower (11 ft. square) is built of stone rubble, with dressings of Barnack stone and other free stones. It was added to, or rebuilt in the late 15th Century and in July 1552 there were five bells. The tower is divided externally into four stages by string-courses and finished with an embattled parapet with crocketed pinnacles at the angles and a trefoiled ogee and crocketed arch over the middle crenel of each side, the merlons have brick filling. The two-centred tower-arch is of three chamfered orders, the two outer continuous and the inner resting on semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals. In the south wall is a doorway to the stair turret with chamfered jambs and four-centred arch. The west doorway, now blocked, has jambs and four-centred arch of two chamfered orders with a moulded label.

Five of the present bells are dated 1796 and one 1799 (see appendix 2), these were re-hung in 1895. One of the bells was apparently forfeited by King's Ripton for not burying a parishioner. On the north wall is a painted wooden notice informing us that:






According to the Vestry meeting Minutes of 26th April 1939, the bells were again unsafe. The 2nd bell was cracked and the estimated cost of repair was £300. The chiming set was installed in 1949 in memory of those who died during the Second World War (see appendix 4).

In 1874, the clear glass was put into the large west window. It has three modern trefoiled lights in 15th Century casement-moulded jambs and four-centred arch with a moulded label and head-stops. The second stage has in the three walls a round-headed loop over which the string-course is mitred. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two pointed lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label and carved stops.

There is a carved wooden screen across the West End of the nave in memory of Patience Seeley who died in 1938. This was extended in 1995, to completely enclose the choir vestry, as a memorial to Peter & Jean Bath.


On the west wall of the tower are two giant wooden boards, which were cleaned and restored in 1978 by Mr. J. Dillistone.

These set out clearly the details of two charities:

In 1707, Bank's charity gave 40 shillings a year to the poor on St Bartholomew's day and New Year's day.

In 1716, Thong's charity was set up to provide £4 per annum for the minister and churchwardens. £16 was to be used to apprentice a boy who must be able to write, cast accounts, and repeat the catechism. £12 was to be given to him at the end of his apprenticeship.

Organ Chamber

The organ was moved into the old vestry, above the boiler house, on the north side of the chancel, in 1895. This involved cutting an arch into the north wall of the chancel and a window into the west-end of the chamber. Apparently the heat helped solve problems with the organ. According to the minutes of the Vestry meeting of 6th August 1880, it was agreed to move the organ to the north corner of the nave 'nearer the warming apparatus with a view to the instrument being kept in better tune'. The move allowed light from the west window back into the church.


The vestry was built in 1895, when the old vestry was converted into the organ chamber. On

the south wall there is a brass shield inscribed with


Above the doorway from the organ chamber there is a painted wooden notice informing us that



There are two small benches in the Sunday school corner, numbered 14 & 15, which an un-dated plan in the County Record Office show as originally being in the tower.


19th Century Restorations

During these restorations, according to W. H. Saunders 1888, Legends, etc., of Huntingdonshire, upwards of 20 broken stone coffins were found, whilst making preparations for new flooring. The lids of eight bore the Saxon symbol of the cross and anchor, whilst several others had richly floriated crosses of a later date. There were also traces of rude distemper paintings, including full length figures of a queen, St. George and the Dragon and large Maltese crosses on the columns and wall, according to this same source.

In Huntingdon's County Record Office there are some undated plans, which since they do not show the present organ chamber, I assume were prepared for the 1861 restoration. Rolled in these plans is a 'Specification of works required to be done in the restoration of the Chancel for the Lady Olivia Bernard Sparrow'. They noted 'to take off the old roof and clear away the old pews in Chancel to be the property of Lady Olivia Bernard Sparrow'. The timber for the roof was to be best Douglas yellow fir and the oak for the pews and door was to be English and five years seasoned. These were to be finished with linseed oil, mixed with a little red lead.

There are several entries in the Parish Minute Book between February 1863 and January 1864 referring to the mortgaging of church land to raise the means to liquidate the debt of £160 incurred in restoration.

The Vestry Minutes of April 1895 record the estimated cost of restoration at £400 and a subscription list being opened. The 24th October records the re-opening of the church by Lord Bishop of Diocese. The 1895 restoration is well documented, with a copy of the original 'Specification & Plans'; a copy of the Faculty required from Ely before work could commence and a detailed account in the Vestry Minutes of 1897.

Lady Olivia Bernard Sparrow

Married Brigadier-General Robert Bernard Sparrow in 1797, but he died at sea in 1805. Inherited estates of the Bernard family and lived at Brampton Park. According to Robson's Directory 1839 entry for Hartford she was 'Lay Rector & Impropriator of Great Tithe' and was therefore responsible for the upkeep of the chancel.

Church Plate

The Rev. E. G. Alderson deposited the items not in constant use, in 1932, for safe keeping in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. They can be viewed by viewed by prior arrangement. See appendix 3 for a description of the items.


There are no early family monuments as largely the monks of the Priory ministered to the church, and the Prior himself was lord of the manor. He and the monks he appointed as vicars would be buried in the Priory graveyard.

In the church are five 18th Century wall memorials, and one slate memorial in the nave floor near the lectern. There are three 19th Century wall tablets and two floor memorials at the west end of the nave. These were only revealed again in November 1991 after the wooden floor had to be removed. One memorial window in the south wall of the chancel, is in memory of the Rev. Cockburn-Dickinson's son, drowned in 1885, aged ten.

There are four 20th Century memorial plaques, the one on the chancel wall is in memory of a victim of the Titanic disaster in 1912. Mr. R.C. Coleridge, pictured below.

He was instrumental in helping to form the 1st. Hunts (Hartford) Scout Group in 1908.

Mr Coleridge had apparently booked on the 'New York' sailing from Southampton, but was offered a place on the Titanic sailing from Liverpool because there was a strike.

There are of course, War memorials to parishioners who died in the two great wars of this century (See appendix 4). The other chancel window was restored in memory of Leonard & Phyllis Everett in 1983.

Some of the memorials are mentioned in the text as they form part of the fixtures or fittings. There is a small pottery group of Christ showing a bird to some children commemorating H. Pardoe, who died in 1976.

Parish Registers & Minute Books

Apart from the present ones, the Registers of Baptisms, Marriages, Burials and the Minute Books are kept in the guardianship of the County Records Office in Huntingdon. Appendix 5 is an edited list of their references.

The Minute Books come in various shapes and sizes, as does the hand writing. This gives the reader a challenge, but can be rewarding and interesting given the time.

The early books mainly seem to record such appointments as churchwardens, constables, overseers of the poor; highways board way warden. There are details of some payments for certain offices and the setting of rateable value on local properties. The later books show a more verbatim account of the important events of the church community.

The Churchyard

In the churchyard, near the Southeast corner of the chancel, there is an interesting memorial, a triangular obelisk, inscribed "MORS META VIARUM" and the date "MDCCXXXV" at the base. Translated, the inscription means "Death is the turning point of the ways". It is said to commemorate the clearing of the churchyard in 1735, in order that it might be buried over again, a common practice in days gone by (marked S on the map).

On Tuesday 22nd May 1860, Thomas the Bishop of Ely, consecrated an addition to the church yard of '32 perches, fenced by a brick wall'. The land had been 'conveyed by Edward Barnard

Original drawing by Mike Stephenson Huntingdonshire Family HistorySociety

Hopkins and Ann Eliza Hopkins the tenant in fee & by the mortgages in fee of the Manor of Hartford, with consent of Sir Henry Pelly, tenant for life of the said Manor'.

It was extended northwards in 1906 for reasons that are described in this cutting from the Hunts County News and this now includes an area for the interment of ashes.

The 1951 Act of Parliament saw the discontinuance of new burials. The last recorded burial in a family grave was in 1978, according to the Record of Burials. The first ‘Internment of Ashes' was 1966.

The churchyard is now in the care of Huntingdon Town Council. The map opposite, in conjunction with appendix 6, gives details of some of the inscriptions. The area enclosed by the dotted line on the north 8 side of the church, will be the site of our new extension.

The Vicarage

According to an entry in the Vestry Minute Book for 1790 "the vicarage was built with stud, clay and thatch. Three little rooms above and below, one little barn and one stable with adjoining close - 1 acre, fenced round with dead hedge. Tithes due to Vicar, wool, lamb, calf, pig, eggs, corn and bullock - but there has been a composition of about 30 years standing consented to by the vicars successively and by the major part of the parish that vicars should be allowed in lieu of these tithes, twenty shillings of plow and four shillings of cottage per annum."

The 1822 Glebe Terrier describes the vicarage as "belonging to the King, with the glebe and profit of the vicarage worth 134 per year (sic). It comprised a dwelling house 42ft long and 20ft breadth and a thatched connected barn and stable 45ft by 13ft. A ring fence enclosed a 3 acre orchard, garden and close, adjoining the church yard of 1 rood. There was an enclosed allotment of 57 acres in lieu of tithes. The land left for the repair of the church, is situated in the parish and commands a rent of £17 10s per year. The rectory belongs to Lady Sparrow."

A new vicarage was built whilst John Daniel Hopkins was the vicar around 1845 and an ex-tension, including a new porch with the date on key stone added in 1860. What might have been desirable in the 19th century seems to have become a liability during the 20th Century. In 1912 Hartford Lodge, Sapley Lane was being used by the Rev. A. Crosfield because it was a more manageable size than the vicarage on Hartford Road. This didn't last long because the Hunts County News informs us of the auction of Hartford Lodge.

In 1934 a letter to Ely Diocesan Dilapidation's Board from Architect Inskip Ladds stated that the house with 4 sitting rooms, 7 bedrooms and 2 kitchens, was far too large and had too many out buildings. Amongst several proposals he recommended pulling down part of the domestic quarters and altering the remainder. It was proposed that the stable was converted into a garage, the hay store into a wood shed; the coach house and several buildings should be pulled down. The garden was "much too large and in these days of high wages an insupportable burden".

Suggestions were made for selling various parts, stressing the importance of the provision of fencing. By 1936 the building was reduced and refurbished with the installation of mains water and electricity in readiness for the arrival of the Rev. J.G.F. Holmes.

The PCC minutes of June 13th 1949, records that Vicar Canon Green's son bought a house in Huntingdon, apparently near Edward house and the Bishop gave approval to let the vicarage. There was also a proposal that the old vicarage was sold and a smaller one built on glebe land. There were a number of tenants during the early 1950's after the vicarage had been sub-divided and let.

Canon Green retired in 1955 and the PCC Minutes of October 10th 1956 record the "Proposed sale of existing parsonage, purchase of 'Lindisfarne' on junction of Wyton/Warboys road". This did not happen and according to the PCC Minutes of October 13th 1958, the Rev H Hinkley had a telephone installed in the vicarage.

The garden also played its part in Hartford's history.

In 1910 fragments of 12th &13th Century coffm lids and other worked stones were found.

On the 1st August 1964 the 'Hartford Hoard' was found close to the East Side of the entrance drive, about 40 feet from the main road, and some 30 inches below the ground.

During the construction of Longstaff Way, two County Council workmen unearthed 1,108 English and French silver coins dating from about 1450 to 1503 AD.

At the subsequent Inquest, which took place in the Town Hall, the hoard was declared 'Treasure Trove' and so went to the British Museum.

The most remarkable feature of the collection was the great number of coins, which were in mint, or near-mint, condition, particularly the groats.

Rev. Herbert Hinkley

1960 at gates of vicarage