Tansor is a parish of 604 hectares on the E. bank of
the R. Nene, the village standing above the flood
plain. Formerly there was a village named
Elmington, astride the parish boundary with
Ashton, which was almost entirely depopulated in
the late 15th century (RCHM, Northants. I, Ashton
(5) ). Tansor village consists of a single long street,
apparently always with houses on the N. side only.
The church stands on a cramped site above the
river, on the S. of the street. The manor belonged
to the crown in the 11th century but became part
of the honour of Clare in the 12th century. The
church was rebuilt on a generous scale at this time.
Later in the 12th century both manor and parish
were split in two, and this division is reflected in
the plan of the church. The parishes were reunited
in 1324 but the two manors continued distinct. Sir
Guy Wolston acquired the larger manor in the 15th
century, and from him it passed to the Earls of
Westmorland. The manor house has always been
occupied by tenants and survives in part.
In 1673 there were 42 families recorded in the
Hearth Tax returns, and 37 in 1801. Although
there were very few houses with more than two
hearths in 1673, few were exempted from tax,
suggesting a high proportion of small farmers. The
parish was enclosed in 1778, and in the following
decades a few large outlying farms were
established, mainly on the clay uplands in the E. of
the parish. The rectory was rebuilt on a lavish scale
in 1860 to designs by a Mr. Norton, and is the
largest house in the village. Annotation 775
Fig. 185 Tansor Village Map
(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin (Figs.
186, 187; Plates 12, 18), stands at the W. end of the
village on ground which falls sharply on the W. and S.
towards the river. It consists of a Chancel, Nave with
North and South Aisles, a West Tower, North and South
Porches, and a Vestry. The walls are of coursed rubble
with freestone dressings. The chancel roof is steep-pitched and covered in stone slates; the remainder are
low-pitched. The building has an involved architectural
development dating from approximately the late 11th to
the 14th century. The eastern part of the tower survives
from the earliest period and within this work are small
low-level windows, and on the N. is an area of
herringbone masonry. In the mid 12th century the
church was rebuilt except for the tower. The new
building consisted of a chancel, a nave perhaps of four
bays, and aisles. Some lengths of the side walls of this
chancel with the remains of strings and labels exist at the
E. end of the present nave; the three W. bays of the
12th-century nave also survive, if only in part. These
survivals show that the chancel and nave were of the
same width; there was probably no chancel arch but a
change in floor level across the church may preserve an
early division. Also in the mid 12th century a new tower
arch was inserted and at the S.E. corner of the tower a
large stair turret was built, giving access to a first-floor
chamber. A wide arch was made in the E. wall of this
upper room, providing a view down into the nave (Fig.
188). The use of the chamber is uncertain but it may
have been a chapel or an upper pew. The intrusion of the
large stair turret resulted in the nave being rebuilt
asymmetrically with both the tower arch and the earlier
tower. Later in the 12th century the N. aisle was
extended eastward to provide a compartment on the N.
side of the old chancel. There is no evidence to show if
there was, at this stage, an arch in the wall between the
compartment and the chancel. Early in the 13th century
the S. aisle was rebuilt; the new aisle was large being
wider than the nave and extending as far as the E. wall
of the chancel as it then existed.
This enlargement may have been made as a result of
the division of the advowson after a judgement in 1211
between Roald. Constable of Richmond, and Ralph
Camoys (VCH, Northants. II, 595). In the mid 13th
century, as indicated by the style of the windows, the
chancel was extended to the E., giving it a proportion
normal for the period; the division between nave and
chancel appears to have remained unaltered. The side
walls of the 12th-century chancel were remodelled with
arches, but short lengths of the old walling were allowed
to remain at the E. ends. On the N. the spacing of the
arches was determined by the provision of a small room,
now and perhaps always a vestry, in the E. half of the
former compartment, N. of the old chancel. The space
remaining between the arch defining this room and the
12th-century arcade was spanned by two equal arches,
the third pier being rebuilt in the same position as its
predecessor. The positioning of the piers in the S. arcade
was governed by different factors from those in the N.
The placing of the first pier on the E. was probably
determined by the ancient division between the nave and
chancel, where a step still remains. It was thus necessary
to demolish all but the two W. bays of the 12th-century
arcade in order to provide two equal arches of reasonable
span. Also in the 13th century the tower was
strengthened by the insertion of a narrower tower arch
and by the addition of massive buttresses on the N. and
Fig. 186 Tansor Church
The arrangement of the moieties of the church
continued until about 1324 when the half formerly
presented by Roald and his successors came into the
hands of the dean and chapter of Lincoln who had
already, in the late 13th century, presented to the other
half. The patronage thus became united but by this time
'the revenues were so shrunk, as to be barely able to
maintain a chaplain' (Episcopal Register, Lincoln.
Buckingham, pt ii, 450). Nevertheless, in 1359 the
subdean of Lincoln presented two priests, one to the east
and another to the west of the church (LAO, Reg.
Gynwell vol. 9, f. 226, 237V). The chapel at the E. end
of the S. aisle was rebuilt in the early 14th century. To
the W. of it was a further altar, as indicated by a piscina.
The clearstorey is also of the 14th century and
presumably a forerunner of the present timber arch
carried the masonry gable wall of the clearstorey. A
weathercourse on the E. face of the tower suggests that
before the 14th century the nave and chancel were roofed
continuously without a break; the wide 13th-century S.
aisle would therefore have had a gabled roof.
Restorations were undertaken in 1886–7 by Ewan
Christian (NRO, Faculty ML1120, 166–8). The W.
section of the N. aisle was refaced at this time although
the faculty implies that more drastic rebuilding was
intended. At an unrecorded date in the 19th century the
W. half of the tower was totally rebuilt. The porches are
The church was, at least by the mid 12th century, a
large one and alterations and additions continued during
the 13th and 14th centuries. The plan of the church in
the 12th century is unusual in that the nave and chancel
were of the same width, probably without a chancel
arch. Other points of interest include the provision in the
12th century of an upper western chamber in the tower,
the construction of the large S. aisle perhaps as a result of
the division of the advowson in 1212, and the retention
of 12th-century capitals in the 13th-century arcade.
Architectural Description – The Chancel has a
parapeted gable, plain eaves and one-stage angle
buttresses with steeply weathered tops. The E. window,
a 15th-century insertion, has a four-centred head and
vertical tracery. Flanking the window internally are the
jambs of a former window, probably comprising three
lancets; centrally above is an arch with a four-centred
head, perhaps the rear-arch of a round window. In the
N. wall the first window has Y-tracery and the second is
a simple lancet; on the S. the first has a roundel in the
head and the second repeats that on the N. The arch
across the chancel is of timber and of uncertain date, but
probably replaces one of the 14th century. It consists of a
rectangular frame with arch braces and spandrels
containing graduated and cusped openwork and supports
the masonry gable at the E. end of the clearstorey.
The Nave, including the W. end of the chancel, has a
N. arcade of six bays, the first having the lower part
filled by a wall to enclose a vestry (Plate 12). The arch
has two chamfered orders, the outer continuous, the
inner carried on semi-octagonal responds with small
capitals. The responds are built on to the low wall of the
vestry, and are integral with it. In this wall is a doorway
with a head enriched with dog-tooth decoration and the
jambs have small angle shafts with moulded capitals and
bases. Above the first pier are two short lengths of
internal labels of two round-headed windows or blind
arches. These fragments are survivals of the 12th-century
chancel, and possibly indicate a system of alternate
windows and blind arches; the W. label has been
displaced by the insertion of the later arch below it. The
second and third bays of the mid 13th century have
pointed arches with double-chamfered orders, the E. arch
springing from a reset 12th-century scalloped capital; the
pier has a water-holding base. The second and third piers
have multiple roll-and-hollow moulded capitals and
water-holding bases. The three W. bays of the arcade
have round-headed arches of two square orders, scalloped
capitals of slightly varying form, and roll-and-hollow
bases. The S. arcade is of five bays, the eastern three
having pointed arches of the mid 13th century and the
western two having round heads of the mid 12th
century. The pointed arches have double-chamfered
orders. The first pier has a roll-and-hollow moulded
capital and the second a reset 12th-century scalloped
capital. The two W. bays repeat those on the N. On
either side of the E. respond various features of the 12th-century chancel survive: on the nave side is a chamfered
string-course, the end of which turns vertically to form
the beginning of a window label, and on the aisle side
are two string-courses, the upper enriched with pellets,
the lower with billets.
The clearstorey is 14th-century with square-headed
windows each of two cusped lights.
The North Aisle has a 13th-century diagonal N.E.
buttress. An internal double-chamfered string on the N.,
extending just W. of a low pilaster buttress indicates the
limits of a late 12th-century extension to the aisle; the
roof of the extension was originally of steeper pitch and
with lower eaves. The W. section of the aisle was
apparently rebuilt in the 13th century; although again
largely rebuilt in 1886 it doubtless preserves the line of
the mid 12th-century aisle. The aisle now incorporates a
room of c. 1200, probably always a vestry, at its E. end.
The late 12th-century E. window has a round-headed
tympanum of one stone pierced by the heads of twin
lancets. The first N. window is a lancet of the same date.
The second window, of the 14th century, has cusped
ogee lights and spandrels within a square head. The other
windows on the N. may be partly 13th-century, reset in
1886. The N. doorway (Plate 14) is mid 12th-century
and has been reset with a narrower opening possibly in
the 13th century; it appears to have survived the
restoration work of 1886–7 in this altered form. It has a
round head of two square orders with roll-and-chevron
decoration and a label enriched with chevrons. The
jambs have engaged angle shafts and an outer order with
nook shafts, both with foliated capitals and annular rings;
these are probably 13th-century, introduced at the time
of resetting. On the outer chevrons of the arch are the
incised letters 'VADO', probably 13th-century additions
when the door was reset and made narrower. The
irregularity of the central voussoirs indicates this
alteration. High in the W. wall of the aisle is a small
quatrefoil opening. Against the N. wall is a stone seat.
Fig. 187 Tansor Church Development plans
The wide South Aisle of the early 13th century
provided a chapel at the E. end. This chapel was itself
rebuilt in the 14th century. It has been suggested that the
width of the aisle was governed by an earlier S. transept
which was replaced by the 14th-century chapel, but this
explanation conflicts with the evidence (pace A. Hamilton
Thompson, Leicestershire Archit, and Archaeol. Soc., X,
174). The chapel has a high weathered plinth and two-stage angle buttresses and the W. section of the aisle has
a low plinth and a tall clasping buttress at the S.W.
corner. The E. window and the first two on the S. have
19th-century tracery in original openings. The third
window has twin lancets and the fourth is a single lancet.
The S. doorway has a head and label decorated with
dog-tooth, and the jambs have nook shafts. Set low in
the W. wall is a very small lancet.
Fig. 188 Tansor Church
Reconstruction of tower in the mid 12th century
The West Tower is without division on the N. and S.,
but the W. wall, rebuilt in the 19th century, is of five
stages. The parapet is plain. Against the side walls and
the end walls of the aisles are massive buttresses,
probably of the 13th century. The 13th-century tower
arch, built within that of the 12th century, has two
chamfered orders, half-round responds with bell-shaped
capitals decorated with nail-head, and water-holding
bases with spurs at the angles. The round-headed 12th-century arch has two square orders and responds with
scalloped capitals, the lower part of the responds being
encased (Plate 3). In the N. wall of the ground stage is a
small round-headed slit window and adjacent to it is an
area of herringbone stonework; the square head of the
balancing window on the S. appears to be a late
alteration. These features belong to the first period,
possibly of the late 11th century. In the S.E. corner is a
large vice entered from the aisle; its doorway, much
renewed, has its S. jamb almost overbuilt by a splayed
wall of the 13th century, but nevertheless the vice is
contemporary with the 12th-century tower arch. The
treads, each of which are composed of a number of
stones, are carried on a concrete spiral barrel vault. On
the first floor, in the E. wall, is the S. respond and part
of the head of a wide round-headed arch, visible on both
sides of the wall; the remaining respond has a square
jamb and a rudimentary capital, but the base, now
destroyed was probably at, or only slightly above, floor
level. This arch of the mid 12th century was inserted in
an earlier wall and served the upper chamber in the
tower (Fig. 188). In the blocking is a reset altar slab
(q.v.) forming the sill of a recess and squint, probably of
post-medieval date. Slightly above and on the nave side
are some lengths of redundant weathercourse belonging
to the 12th-century nave roof. Except for that on the W.
the belfry windows, possibly reset, are each of two
pointed lights with a central shaft and tympanum within
an outer pointed arch; nook shafts were introduced in c.
1910. The W. window has a round head and is either
reset or a copy.
Fittings – Altar slabs:: in chancel – (1), with chamfered
under-edge, one incised consecration cross, now set in
wooden frame; in S. aisle – (2), as (1) but with four
crosses; (3), reset in tower, rectangular slab with
chamfered under-edge and central inscribed cross; all
medieval. Bells: (1), inscribed in Lombardic capitals 'John
Braadsell OPQRST FGHI' and with coins round rim,
medieval; (2), inscribed and with date, 1611; (3),
inscribed in black-letter characters, medieval (North).
Bell frame: timber, 16th or 17th-century. Brackets:: at E.
end of S. aisle, two chamfered ledges, medieval. Brass: in
chancel, to John Colt, rector, February 1440, figure of
tonsured priest in cope, hands in prayer, plate with
black-letter inscription. Communion rails: oak, turned
balusters with clusters of four at centre, probably early
18th-century. Font (Plate 38): octagonal bowl with large
ball-flowers at three corners, a boss at the fourth, ball-flower paterae on chamfered under-edge, central
octagonal column and four lesser columns with caps and
bases, 13th and early 14th-century. Lockers: in chancel,
(1), and S. aisle (2), rectangular recesses, medieval.
Monuments and Floor slabs. Monuments: in chancel (1), of
John Johnson, 1620, and wife Elizabeth, February 1620,
black marble tablet, white marble surround with
strapwork decoration. In N. aisle (2), of Joseph Foster,
January 1819, freestone tablet with pilasters. In S. aisle
(3), of John Cave, 1821, and wife Jane, 1820, freestone
tablet with fluted cornice and pilasters, surmounted by
urn, signed 'Harrison, Oundle'. Floor slabs: in chancel –
(1), of Rev. George Mervcilleux, rector, 1777, and wife
Martha, January 1791, black marble with incised leaf
decoration; (2) of Dorothea . . . (Sayer), 1677, relict of
rector; also of David Leolinus, 1791: (3), of Rev. Richard
In[ett], rector, 1745; (4), of Samuel Inett, February 1734,
signed 'C. Stavley, Melton', with calligraphic flourishes;
(5), of Jane Inett, relict of (3), 1750, and Ann, relict of
Thomas, 1782; (6), of Thomas Inett, son of (3), 1773. In
nave – (7), of Agnes Mackie, 1832; (8), of Arthur
Mackie, father of (7). In S. aisle – (9), of W.M., 1765;
(10), of S.W., 1791; (11), of I.M., 1757; (12), of Jeremiah
Hick, 1793; (13), of Sarah Hicks (Chew), 1827; (14), of
Thomas Smith, January 1769; (15), of Samuel Coles,
March 1829; (16), of John Cave, 1780; (17), of Thomas
Paintings Scrollwork on nave arches in Romanesque
style, mid 19th-century. Piscinae in chancel (1), double
recess beneath a pointed arch, central column with capital
and base, pointed recess in spandrel, one quatrefoil
sinking, 13th-century; in S. aisle – (2), small respond
capital with foliation and volutes, square sinking in top
with drain channel, 13th-century; (3), beneath third
window, round-headed recess, circular sinking, drill-holes
in jambs, medieval. Pulpit oak, octagonal with shallow
arcade on each face and panel with cut-out decoration
above, moulded cornice, modern stone base, 17th-century. Screen upper part now used as a reredos in S.
aisle, four narrow bays and a wide central bay, cinquefoil
ogee arches with window forms in spandrels, 15th-century; measurements show that it probably originated
in the aisle rather than the nave. Seating in chancel – (1),
seven stalls with misericords (Plate 54) originally at
Fotheringhay, bequeathed to Tansor by Robert Hicks by
will of 1601 (Arch. J., LXX (1913), 413), curved-back
seats, arm rests with demi-angels, mid 15th-century.
Misericords have carving, on N.: feathers with scroll
flanked by fetterlock and rose; foliage flanked by roses;
demi-angel with stringed instrument flanked by knots;
seated angel with stringed instrument flanked by male
heads; on S.: head of woman with butterfly head-dress,
flanked by heads of other women; falcon flanked by rose
and fetterlock; falcon flanked by fetterlocks. The Yorkist
badges (falcon and fetterlock) were carried by both
Richard, Duke of York (d. 1460) and Edward IV (d.
1483). In N. and S. aisles, (2), stone wall benches,
probably 13th-century. In S. aisle (3), three benches with
fleur-de-lis finials, probably late medieval. Tomb recess in
S. aisle, segmental head, plain jambs, 13th-century.
(2) One storey and attics, parapeted W. gable, class 4a,
built in 1698. A date-panel is inscribed 'RB 1698' within
a lozenge. Each room has a chamfered axial beam, one
with notched wave stops, a feature repeated on the
cambered fireplace bressummer.
(3) Tansor Manor (Fig. 189; Plate 98). The main part
of the present house is of two storeys with attics. It
contains a ground-floor hall with a tall first-floor room
above, and has on the N. a stair turret reaching to the
attics. The house probably has a 16th-century origin, and
the gable walls and roof, although reset, survive from
this date. Early in the 17th century it was remodelled and
heightened and a stair turret was added. The parlour end,
to W. of the hall was rebuilt in the 19th century,
retaining part of the original plinth on the S; the range E.
of the hall, presumably on the site of the original service
wing, is 19th-century. The house was considerably
altered in c. 1904 when it was purchased from the
The S. elevation has a chamfered plinth and ovolo-moulded mullioned and transomed windows of two and
four lights linked by continuous labels. The doorway in
the W. bay has a four-centred head and moulded cornice.
A straight-joint at the W. end and a large corbel high at
the E. end suggest that the gable walls survive from an
earlier building. Inside, the hall fireplace has a four-centred head in a rectangular frame. The roof structure is
exposed in the attics and is in four bays; the trusses have
cambered collars, arch braces, raking struts, two tiers of
butt-purlins and wind-braces below the lower purlins. It
is of 16th-century date and was presumably reset at a
higher level in the 17th century.
(4) Two storeys, Welsh slate roof, class 4c, first half
Fig. 189 Tansor (3) The Manor House
Plan and elevation of roof truss
(5) Yew Tree Cottage, two storeys, Welsh slate roof,
sliding sash windows, first half 19th-century. The N.
half, always a two-room dwelling, is earlier than the S.
which may have had an industrial use.
(6) Row of three dwellings, two storeys, Welsh slate
roof, sash windows; two of class 4c, one of class 4a, first
half 19th century.
(7) Old Post Office, two storeys, two-roomed house,
rear wall partly of brick, early 19th-century. Extended to
N. by two rooms in brick, and by a bakehouse with an
oven inscribed 'improved coal oven manufactured by
Stanley, Peterborough'. In 1830 the house was owned by
Thomas Sawford, baker, miller and publican of the
White Horse (8) (Valuation of 1830, Tansor church).
(8) The White Horse, former inn (Fig. 190), one
storey, Welsh slate roof, cellar and attics, class 4a, late
17th-century; increased to the N. in red brick and
timber-framing in the early 19th century so linking it
with another 19th-century outbuilding of unknown use.
The room-use as in 1886 is recorded (Sale description,
Peterborough Advertiser, 13 March). Interior now altered.
(9) Greystones, two storeys, hipped roof, class 8, early
19th-century. Two-storey stable with hipped roof to
(10) One storey and attics, thatched roof, 17th-century
origin but incorporating several building phases. (Not
(11) House, two storeys, hipped roof, ashlar quoins,
class 4c, early 19th-century.
(12) Tansor House, two storeys with dormered attics,
parapeted gables with moulded kneelers and twin-flue
ashlar stacks, dated 1721 (date-slab). L-shaped plan with
two rooms in main range and staircase compartment and
kitchen behind. Two-storey canted bay windows have
been added. The central entrance has been blocked and
the house is now entered from the rear wing. The
staircase has been replanned but the early 18th-century
turned balusters survive.
(13) Elm House, three storeys, Welsh slate roofs, sash
windows, formerly two tenements at right angles, the S.
of class 6b, second quarter 19th century. An earlier one-storey house once stood against the S. gable. (Not
Fig. 190 Tansor (8) The White Horse.
Sketch plan to show room use in 1886
(14) Poplar Farm Cottage, two storeys and attics,
thatched, originally of two rooms, built in 1701, much
altered. On S. gable is a panel inscribed 'CC 1701' in an
oval flanked by husk ornament. Inside, two chamfered
axial beams in S. room, one in N. room. Fireplace
surround and wall cupboard with dentilled cornice, early
(15) Jasmine Cottage (Fig. 191), one storey and attics,
pantiled roof perhaps replacing thatch, class 5, built 1773.
On S. gable a panel with moulded label inscribed 'I E B
1773'. A wide fireplace has been removed from the end
wall of the S. room. Stop-chamfered cross beam in N.
room. To E. a detached one-storey building, formerly
class 1a, now a garage, early 19th-century.
Fig. 191 Tansor (15)
Plan to show former arrangement
(16) Originally one storey and attics, two-room plan,
late 18th or early 19th-century; raised to two storeys in
the 19th century and later divided into two tenements.
Fig. 192 Tansor (19) Tansor Wold
(17) Windmill, tower mill of coursed rubble, early
19th-century, certainly in existence in 1830 (Valuation in
church). For most of the century it worked in
cooperation with Sawford's bakery (7).
(18) Tansor Lodge (TL 055898), two storeys and attics,
class 8 with rear part roofed at right angles with two
parallel roofs, late 18th or 19th-century. (Not entered)
(19) Tansor Wold Farm (TL 084893; Fig. 192), two
storeys and attics, parapeted gables, class 1a, c. 1800; late
19th-century additions at the rear. The windows have
ashlar lintels, those of the lower ones continuing as a
flush platband. The dormers are gabled and the twin-flue
ashlar stacks have moulded cornices. Inside, a fireplace
bressummer and a wave-stopped chamfered beam are
reused, 17th-century. Two former timber partitions
between the centre and S. rooms enclosed a stair.