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MAXEY CHURCH AND PARISH.

BY THE REV. W. D. SWEETING, M.A.

(Read at the Peterborough Congress, July 19th, 1898.)
N preparing a paper on Maxey, I am suffer-

ing from an excessive abundance of
material. I have collected matter that
would fill an octavo volume ; and it is
difficult to condense sufficiently so as to
present a fairly intelligible account of

the place, and at the same time not to omit many things that would be likely to interest some, at least, of my hearers. I must, accordingly, make the most of my time, and without further preface devote myself to the subject.

The name of the place describes itself. It is somebody's island. The first syllable, Make, or Mak, is certainly a personal name, though the name is lost. It is situated in one of the gravel uplands of the great wash district, and some parts of the parish are no more than 25 ft. above sea level.

The earliest date at which I find Maxey mentioned is 1013, when it is on record that the place, then part of the possessions of the monastery at Peakirk, was destroyed by the Danes. Thirty-five years later, Edmer, or Edmund, Lord of Holbrook, is said to have recovered possession of it. It is not mentioned in Domesday. About a hundred years later, in 1145, Pope Eugenius III confirmed to Abbot Martin, of Burgh, the fee of Roger de Torpel and the land which he had in Maxey. From that time to the present, the place has been intimately associated with the Abbey and Cathedral of Peterborough ; although now the connection (with one small exception, to which I shall refer hereafter) is limited

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to the right of presentation to the vicarage. In Abbot Benedict's time there was some sort of dispute as to the rectory; for he is said to have acquired the church of Maxey, which he deraigned against Roger de Torpel; by which I understand that he succeeded in establishing his right against the claim of Roger. Some part of the church, as we now see it, was standing at least half a century before Benedict's time. He was abbot from 1177 to 1193. Not long before his death, an important incident in the history of the place occurred. In 1190 the Almoner of Peterborough applied to the Pope to have the church of Maxey permanently assigned to his office. He represented that he had no ecclesiastical benefice to enable him to maintain due hospitality and to give alms. In July, in the same year, in consequence of this application, Pope Clement III sent to Hugħ, Bishop of Lincoln, urging him to use his influence with the abbot and convent to obtain their assent to the proposed arrangement. The bishop succeeded so well that the almoner seems to have got more than he asked for; and in the following year, December, 1191, the next Pope, Celestine III, issued a bull confirming the two churches of Normanby and Maxey to the office of almoner. In 1194 this grant is mentioned in another bull, which gives to the almoner lands in Clopton and Sutton. The present successor to the dignity of almoner of the monastery—though unfortunately not successor to his emoluments—is the Precentor of the Cathedral; and it is a curious reminiscence of this grant to the almoner (this is the one other connection between the parish and the cathedral to which I have referred), that one small field in the parish still belongs to the precentor; and I believe he is the only member of the cathedral foundation who now possesses a vote for the county in virtue of his possession of landed estate.

Immediately after this grant of the church of Maxey to the almoner, the vicarage was constituted. The deed of the ordination of the vicarage is given in the Lansdowne MSS. in the British Museum, and in Bishop Kennett's notes in the cathedral library, and it has recently been printed by Mr. Gibbons in the Liber Anti

quus of Bishop Wells of Lincoln. In this deed the grant to the almoner is recited, and he is charged with the payment of six marks a year to the vicar, and a residence for the vicar was to be provided in the parish. I do not find the exact date, but from other evidence I gather that this was between December, 1191, and the following March. I cannot discover the name of the first vicar.

From 1220, with perhaps one single omission, the list is complete. Upon the death of a vicar, the sacrist of the abbey claimed as a mortuary his best horse, with saddle and bridle. On one occasion the vicar, Robert de Newenden, died in parts beyond the seas, on his return from a journey to Rome. This was in 1349 or 1350, and because he had his horse with him the sacrist had to be content with his next best animal, which was a black cow. In 1440, at the death of Stephen Woodhall, the sub-sacrist also advanced a claim for ceragium, waxscot, a payment for wax candles for the abbey church, and obtained it.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the dean and chapter frequently allowed the right of presentation to the vicarage to be included in the lease of the rectorial lands. Thus, Lawrence Robinson, in 1585, presented Richard Lively, and he afterwards resigned in favour of his daughter's husband, Robert Buddle ; on whose death his son, Zachary Buddle, succeeded. In these cases clearly the rector's lands (commonly described as the Parsonage of Maxey) were leased by successive renewals to members of the same family. In 1656 John Claypole, Oliver Cromwell's son-in-law, is returned as patron. Any genealogists present might make a note of this

. I have occasionally found pedigree-hunters, who, having come across an instance of an ancestor presenting to a living, two or three centuries ayo, assume too hastily that he was at the time possessor of the manor, or at least of considerable property in the parish ; whereas the fact may often be that he was merely lessee of the rector's lands, or of the great tithes. I believe this was the case with another chapter living, that of Great Easton, in Leicestershire, till quite recent times. And I have been given to understand that the dean and

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chapter never presented directly to that living until they appointed Mr. Cape in 1833.

The vicarage house has always been on the present site. Indeed, the whole of the mediæval residence is incorporated in the existing vicarage. It was built of Barnack stone; and the quarries there having been exhausted in the fifteenth century, the old house must have been built before that time. No account seems to have been preserved showing the extent of the præ-Reformation house. But the parsonage—by which I understand the residence on the rectorial glebe, and which is still standing-had a hall, a parlour, a kitchen, and four chambers. The vicarage would certainly not be more capacious than this : more probably it was smaller; and, indeed, the actual size can be exactly determined. Two of the outer walls are still outer walls of the present house; the other two walls are still standing, but are now merely inner partition walls, and are about 2 ft. 3 ins. thick. It was nearly 36 ft. long by 19 ft. broad. The old door, and at least one of the windows, can be traced. The enlargement has, no doubt, been gradual. The old house would be clearly incapable of accommodating a married man with a family. About a century ago, for many years, the vicar was non-resident, and the house was let. At one time, before the Poor Law Acts, it was used as the

poorhouse of the parish. At another time it was let out in separate tenements to labourers, and the upper story was hired by a farmer as a granary. When I first went to the parish, more than one of the older men could remember this, and had themselves carried sacks of corn up to the top of the house.

The church of S. Peter, though not large, is a dignified and most interesting building. Except for three cottages close to the churchyard, now called Church Hall, and formerly the parsonage, there are no houses at all near the church. Hardly any person visits it without asking why the church is so far from the village. Strangers immediately conclude that there was once a village round the church, and that the houses have perished. Of this there is no indication whatever. The true explanation is, that when the church was built, early in the twelfth

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century, there were (exclusive of the hamlet of Deeping Gate) three chief settlements in the parish, Maxey, Lolham, and Nunton. Maxey, it is true, seems always to have been the most considerable of the three; and in course of time this has increased while the other two have dwindled. At Lolham, now, there is a single house with two cottages. At Nunton there are two houses and three cottages.

But in the Poll Tax list for 1377 in the Record Office, I find there were twelve houses at Lolham, and eleven at Nunton. Possibly, two hundred years before, there were more houses at both places. It seems clear that the church was built so as to be fairly equidistant from these three settlements.

The church consists of chancel, with a large lady-chapel on the north, nave with aisles, south porch, and western tower. The porch is now almost useless, the chief entrance being by the north door; because the main road, which formerly ran to the south of the church, was diverted into its present line at the time of the enclosure, about eighty years ago.

The south aisle now is continued to the extreme west, but the portion south of the tower, forming the vestry, is quite modern. I have already said that Maxey is not mentioned in Domesday. There is, however, evidence that a church existed here before Norman times, in a fragment of a coffin-lid, of undoubted Saxon date, which has been found in digging a grave a few years ago, and is now preserved in the church. The present nave arcades, of two broad bays, and the tower to the height of 43 ft., are of the Norman period. The existence of an earlier Saxon building explains what otherwise would present a difficulty, namely, that this Norman work is not all of one date. Mr. Irvine, who has carefully studied the Norman architecture of the neighbourhood, and compared the details of the work at churches where the best examples are to be found, as Castor, Wakerley, and Maxey, with the work at the cathedral, considers that we have at Maxey at least three, perhaps four, distinct periods of Norman building. The Saxon church was, in fact, enlarged by degrees, until the whole was renewed. The first work was the erection of the lower stage of the tower. And here I cannot do

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