Jeeps’ Notes on Impington, 1893



Is a parish situated about 2½ miles north of Cambridge, and 60 miles from London, in the hundred of Northstow, union and rural deanery of Chesterton, county court district of Cambridge, arch-deaconry and diocese of Ely, and western (parliamentary) division of Cambs. and is the house or private seat of one gentleman.

I can find nothing relating to the village until the year 991, when I find the Manor was given to the Abbot and convent of Ely by Duke Brithnoth. This duke was Elderman of the East Saxons. The Eldermen or Earls were next to the king, governing in the name of the sovereign, districts called Shires. They led to battle the men under their rule, presided with the Bishop over the courts of justice, and received one third of the fines and royal rents paid within their counties.

In 991 the Danes invaded East Anglia and to defend the monasteries Brithnoth joined with Æthelwine, Elderman of the East Angles, whom men called the friend of God.

The Danes sailed up the river Pauta or Blackwater to Maldon, in Essex, where Brithnoth and his army met them. Then followed a battle in which the duke was killed by a weapon, which was chiefly used by the Saracens and fierce pirates, called a “hassagay”.

Brithnoth is spoken of as being very brave and good, and there is still preserved part of (the middle) one of the longest and grandest of our old Saxon songs. It describes the battle of Maldon and is chiefly about Brithnoth’s own personal following, and his Thanes and companions who were bound by a special tie to fight for him, and to avenge him.

He was very bountiful to the monks, and helped to found the now famous Abbey of Ely. There he was buried, and his wife Æthelfloed offered a piece of tapestry on which she had worked a picture of all her husband’s good deeds. This has unfortunately been lost. Brithnoth was one of those who refused to pay taxes to the Danes, but as soon as he was dead his successors commenced paying them money.

Previous to the year 1300 the manor was in possession of a family named De Lisle, but in that year I find it in the hands of one named Chauvent. “A market on Thursdays, and a fair for eight days to begin on the Saturday of Easter week, were granted to Peter de Chauvent in the year 1300”. From this date to 1505, I can trace nothing except that a family named Colville occupied the manor some time between those dates.

In 1505, I find a family named Burgoyne had the manor. These people were a very high family, and in the church belfry there is a flat monument with brasses entire of a Knight and his lady, with seven sons and two daughters. This monument was formerly in the nave, but was removed when the Church was restored in 1879. It bears the following inscription in Latin:-

“Here lies John Burgoyne, Knight (d1505), and Margaret his wife , who died in October in the year of our Lord 1525”.

From another source I find the Church porch described as “an interesting structure of the 15th century” so it may safely be assumed that the Church was built previous to the year 1525. (12thC)

The Burgoynes bequeathed a few charities of small value, principally for fuel, and in the 1868 I find they amounted to about £6. The co-heirs of the Burgoynes sold a part of the Manor, called Ferme-Part, to the Pepys family before the year 1632. (c1525) The other part, called the Manor of Burgoynes, became the property of the Master and Fellows of Christs’ College, Cambridge. The Manor of Burgoynes and Ferme-Part extend only over one half of the parish, the Manor of Histon extending over the other half. The rectory of Impington belonged to the Monks of Ely, and was appropriated to the purpose of augmenting their library, or as one of their historians expresses it “making books for the library”. Since the reformation it has been vested in the Dean and Chapter.

Of the Manor of Burgoynes I can say nothing except that it comprises the farm, house and land now occupied by Mrs. French.

Ferme-Part was, as I have stated, purchased from the co-heirs of the Burgoynes by the Pepys family before the year 1632. I first find it occupied by Talbot Pepys, (second son of) John Pepys, (Earl of Cottenham). This Talbot Pepys married a daughter of John Castle of Ravenham in Norfolk, and died in the year 1666, aged 84 years. He left three sons and a daughter. He was great-uncle to Samuel Pepys, who was Secretary to the Admiralty in the reign of Charles 2nd and James 2nd, and who makes the following references to his uncle and Impington in the famous “Pepys Diary” which was written by him.

July 15th 1661.

“Rode to Impington, where I found my old uncle sitting all alone like a man out of the world. He can hardly see, but all things else he can do pretty livily.”

August 3rd 1661.

“At night I took horse and rode with Roger Pepys and his two brothers to Impington.”

(I find Roger Pepys was cousin to Samuel Pepys, was a barrister, M.P. for Cambridge 1661, and afterwards Recorder for the town).


August 4th 1661.

“To Church and had a good plain sermon. At our coming the country people all rose with so much reverence and when the parson begins, he begins “Right worshipful and dearly beloved” to us.”

January 19th 1665.

“Yesterday I received the news that Dr. Tom Pepys is dead at Impington.”

March 12th 1666.

“My Uncle Talbot Pepys died last week.” (from plague at 86yrs)

Among those who received mourning rings at the death of Samuel Pepys I find the name of Mr. Roger Pepys of Impington. It is therefore very probable that he had the Manor on the death of Talbot Pepys.

The motto of the Pepys family translated is:- “As the mind of each, so is the man”. I find that a member of this family (Richard Pepys) was Lord Chief Justice in Ireland in 1654. The next I can learn is that a Mr. Pepys rebuilt the Manor house about 1725 and when he died left the estate to his son.

This son died in the year 1778 and the property was held by his widow up to the time of her death in 1805, when it passed to a nephew of her husbands, the Rev. John Pine-Coffin of Portledge in Devonshire.

In 1799 occurred the remarkable case of Elizabeth Woodcock, full particulars of which will be found in another part.

The parish was enclosed in 1806 in accordance with an Act of Parliament passed in 1801 and the tithes were commuted for about 58 acres of land.

For a description of the Church I will quote from “Notes on Cambridgeshire Churches” dated 1827.

“Impington is a small church, the chancel decorated, with a perpendicular east window inserted. The nave and tower perpendicular, and north door with a four-centred arch and good mouldings. There has been a good wood ceiling, now much defaced, and a wood porch on the South side has been well executed with hanging tracery and side screens. By the pulpit is a good niche, with two drop arches and seven crocketed canopies, near it are some fragments of statues. The font is plain. Fox’s “Book of Martyrs” in 3 black-letter volumes, strongly bound and clasped, is chained to a pew in the chancel”

Of course the church has been considerably altered since the above was written, but I will refer to that later. I find that Fox, who wrote the “Book of Martyrs”, was born at Boston in 1517, and lived until 1587. I have no doubt the book was chained in the chancel so that persons might go there and read it and yet not be able to take it away. In “Collier’s History of England” I find the following passage, which is my reason for making the foregoing statement. “In the reign of Henry the 8th, in the year 1536, Miles Coverdale of Cambridge published the whole of the Bible in the English tongue. By a Royal order, a copy of Coverdale’s translation was chained to a pillar or desk in every parish church, so that all those who chose might read”. The church has a low square tower, containing 3 bells and I take the following description of them from “The Church Bells of Cambridgeshire” dated 1869.

Shield from treble“The treble at Impington bears a shield which is noted by Mr. Daniel-Tyssen as occurring on many bells in Kent, and on two in Sussex. ”

Shield from 2nd“The 2nd at Impington bears a shield, three mullets inverted in chief, a chevron, and a crescent in base inverted. It also bears on the shoulder the Apocalyptic emblems of the Evangelists in the following order:- The bull of St. Luke, the angel of St. Matthew, the eagle of St. John, and the lion of St. Mark. The conception of these mystical figures is very grand, and the execution admirable. No tower in the county will repay the young campanologist so well as Impington. The bell is inscribed Sancta Katerina Ora pro Nobis (St. Catherine pray for us). There is a cross in a lozenge before the shield and a crowned fleur de lis after it. The capitals in the inscription are also crowned”.

“Description of bells.
Impington. 3.
Tenor G sharp, diam. 37 inches, weight 10 cwt.
1. + Sancta Petre Ora pro Nobis.
2. + Sancta Katerina Ora pro Nobis.
3. R.G. made me 1652.”

This 3rd bell was made by Robard Gurney or “Girnie”, presumably at Bury, and who seems to have been in partnership with one John Draper, a noted bell-founder in this district, and who afterwards removed to Thetford where he finally settled.

Impington Church which is dedicated to St. Andrew, was until 1878 in a very dilapidated state. It was then thoroughly restored at a cost of £1400 which was raised chiefly by the vicar, the Rev. C.H.Crosse It was entirely re-seated and there are now about 200 sittings.

During the alterations an interesting Fresco painting of a gigantic St. Christopher was discovered on the North wall and has been carefully preserved. I will give the legend of St. Christopher as given in “Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable”:

“The giant carried a child over a brook, and said “Chylde thou hast put me in grete peryll. I might bere no greater burden”. To which the child answered “Marvel thou nothing, for thou hast borne all the world upon thee, and its sins likewise”. This is an allegory: Christopher means Cross-bearer i.e. Jesus Christ: The child is the offspring of Adam: The river is death. The saint is called a giant because the Redeemer was equal to so great a burden”.

There is a fine tombstone in the Chancel inscribed to Thomas Wibrow and dated 1669.

There is also a marble tablet on the South wall on which is inscribed:

“Sacred to the memory of Catherine Hovenden (relict of Walter Hovenden, Major in his late Majesty’s Service). She died at an advanced age on the 24th of May 1826. In remembrance of the kindest and dearest of Mothers, this tablet is placed here by filial affection”.

In the church there is a handsome brass stand or reading desk bearing the following inscription:

“Presented to the Rev. Dennis Hall M.A. in loving memory of Elizabeth Kershaw and her two daughters, who through suffering and sorrow, soon followed each other.”

The living is a discharged vicarage, yearly value about £128, derived from about 58 acres of glebe land, and held from 1832 to 1878 by the Rev. Charles Bushby B.D. who was a fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge. During the latter part of Mr. Bushby’s life the Rev. Whitehead was curate-in-charge. At Mr. Bushby’s death the living passed to the Rev. C.H.Crosse, who took great interest in the parish. He resigned in 1882 since which time the living has been held by the Rev. Dennis Hall M.A., B.A. The register dates from the year 1562.

Impington National School was established in 1846 and situated near the church. In 1881 it was transferred to the present site, the old school being purchased by W.B.Caldwell Esq. By foundation deed the trustees are:

The Arch-Deacon of Ely,
The Vicar and the Churchwardens.

The area of the parish is 1628 acres, rateable value (1875) £3,137.

Population: 1842 248
1871 387
1881 399

The foregoing account has been written partly from personal knowledge, but the greater portion is taken from a large number of books I have read. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of what follows as it is chiefly “hear-say”.

From 1805 to about 1863 the manor was in possession of the Pine-Coffin family. The manor house was unoccupied in 1810, but was let at different periods to Judge Collier, Mr. Cotton and Pro. Austead.

About 1863 the estate was purchased by Charles Bamford Esq., a student of St. John’s College, Cambridge. He had the manor house encased with red brick and stone, the Park fenced off and stocked with deer, pheasants, etc. (which never prospered), had Saunders’ farm built, also a game keeper’s cottage near King’s Hedges. (King’s Hedges forms part of an old Roman road called Akeman Street, which passed through Cambridge to Ely, and thence to the coast of Norfolk). He had an old house pulled down that stood opposite Bird’s pond. A family named Bird had occupied it for years and after them it was occupied by the man Muncey who was supposed to have found Mrs. Woodcock.

The house now occupied by Mr. James was built for a lodge and he had a road laid out to lead from there to the hall. Trees were planted on either side, but the road was never made.

He married a daughter of the late Mr. Charles Balls of Cambridge (Mrs. S.H.Rowley is another daughter), was most extravagant and squandered most of his fortune.

The estate was purchased by W.B.Caldwell about the year ….. . He had a wall built partly round the estate and also had what is known as the “New” farm erected. In 1891 the estate passed to his nephew Colonel Hamilton, who after residing here a short time sold it to the present owner, W.A.Macfarlane-Grieve Esq. in 1892.

Robt. Jeeps.
Feb. 1893

This electronic form produced by Denis W Payne, Impington, Cambridge 2000

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