Fig. 193 Wakerley Village Map
Wakerley is a parish of 766 hectares on the S. of
the R. Welland. Although outside Rockingham
Forest, there are 196 hectares of purlieu wood in
the S. of the parish. The church stands on a hill
above the valley and by the early 12th century was
a large building of high quality. Between it and the
site of the manor house to the N. is a knot of paths
and a former triangular open space, which
probably represent the original position of the
village. The straight street running W. from the
former triangular green, ending in an abrupt angle,
is doubtless a secondary extension of the village,
with plots only on the S. side of the street. A
charter for a fair was obtained in 1263 but the fair
only continued for a short period. The manor was
bought in 1618 by Sir Richard Cecil of
Collyweston, son of the first Earl of Exeter; he
died here in 1633 and probably laid out the large
garden of which earthworks remain (RCHM,
Northants. I, Wakerley (4), Fig. 112). The house
was demolished later in the century but the manor
has remained in the hands of the Cecil family.
There were 32 families in 1673 and 41 in 1801.
The Hearth Tax returns suggest much poverty in
1673, for almost half of the households were
exempt, but there were also more houses with
three or more hearths than usual, and only one
with two hearths. The social contrasts implied by
this can be detected in the surviving houses, and in
the layout of the village. The Cecils were in
possession of the whole village by the early 17th
century, and they or their predecessors had
amalgamated holdings to form large leasehold
farms, their houses standing isolated in enlarged
plots. Several were repaired or rebuilt by the
Exeter estate in the 18th and early 19th centuries
The parish was enclosed in 1749 but there are no
early outlying farms. A park was created in 1228
(Cal. Chart. (1226 –57), 70) but no traces survive.
(1) The Parish Church of St. John the Baptist (Figs.
194. 195: Plate 10), standing in a large churchyard on
rising ground S.E. of the village, is now vested in the
Redundant Churches Fund. The building comprises a
Chancel, Nave with North and South Chapels, West Tower
and North Porch. The main walls are of coursed rubble
and the tower of ashlar; the chancel and nave roofs are
low-pitched and the side chapels steep-pitched and stone-slated. The earliest parts of the structure are the E. wall
of the nave including the chancel arch, and the E. half of
the S. wall of the nave; this can be dated to 1120–30 on
the analogy of comparable work at Castor which was
probably executed in 1124. The proportion of the present
nave at Wakerley suggests that the 12th-century nave
was of the same length. It was certainly without an aisle
on the S., and probably also on the N., as demonstrated
by a round-headed window which survives in the S. wall
of the nave. The chancel was the same width as the
present one, on the evidence of string courses. In the
13th century the S. chapel was added, the S. wall of the
nave being pierced by two arches. Late in the 14th
century the church was considerably rebuilt: the N. wall
and the W. half of the S. wall of the nave were totally
reconstructed and a W. tower and N. porch were built.
A weathercourse on the E. face of the tower relates to
the steeply-pitched roof of the rebuilt nave before the
clearstorcy was added in the 17th century; it presumably
also reflects the line of the 12th-century nave roof, as the
extant 12th-century corbel course is level with the foot of
the weathercourse. A chapel was added on the N. of the
nave in the 15th century, balancing that of the 13th
century on the S. and possibly replacing an earlier one.
The chancel was rebuilt in the late 15th century. The
nave roof was repaired in 1737 –8 (Ex. MS. 61/88) and
the tower restored in 1825 (NRO, Parish Record 41).
The church was refurbished and repaired in various ways
in 1875 under the direction of J. B. Corby (Faculty, Feb.
Fig. 194 Wakerley Church
The church is noteworthy for the wide chancel arch
with its elaborately carved capitals and flanking recesses
of c. 1130.
Architectural Description - The Chancel, rebuilt in the
late 15th century, has plain parapets and diagonal
buttresses with wave-moulded weatherings. The E.
window has graduated cusped lights in a four-centred
head. The N. wall in banded masonry is perhaps 17th
century.Built into the wall is a 12th-century cushion
capital. In the S. wall are two rectangular windows of
two lights each with depressed cusped heads, probably of
the 17th century. The S. doorway is late 19th-century
(Clarke, Churches, 274). The chancel arch is of two
orders, the inner a half-round flanked by three-quarter
rolls, the outer a roll with an outer band of double
chevron ornament. The head is now pointed as a result
of rebuilding, perhaps in the 13th century. The carved
cushion capitals (Plate 11), supported on half-round
shafts with saw-tooth patterned bases, have abaci which
continue to the side walls of the nave and chancel.
Beneath the capital is a cable necking. The main capital
on the N. is carved with a scene of two figures in mail,
one on horse back flanked by a castle or city wall and by
a group of arcaded and domed structures; the secondary
capital is carved with foliage and interlace. On the S. the
main capital is carved with four fabulous beasts fighting,
and the secondary capital with a monster-head and
foliage. Flanking the chancel arch are two recesses at
slightly different levels with roll-and-hollow moulded
semi-circular heads, chamfered imposts, nook shafts,
cushion capitals and bases with saw-tooth carving (Fig.
The Nave has a N. wall entirely rebuilt in the late 14th
century on a line slightly S. of the 12th-century wall it
replaced as indicated by the splay at the junction with the
E. wall. At the head of the splay is a trefoil-headed arch
which restores the alignment of the wall above.
Externally, a short length of double-chamfered string
course of the 12th century, enriched with zig-zag
ornament, exists in the E. wall between the chancel and
the N. chapel. The E. half of the nave wall is occupied
by a two-bay 15th-century arcade with double-chamfered
arches, a central octagonal pier with moulded capital and
wave-moulded base, and straight responds with moulded
semi-octagonal corbels carrying the inner order of the
arch. The late 14th-century N. doorway has a four-centred head, wave-and-hollow moulded arch and label
terminating on male and female head stops, with shafts
below. The wall W. of the porch has an ogee-moulded
plinth and a two-stage weathered buttress at the N.W.
corner; the window has a quatrefoil in the head flanked
by short mullions. The E. half of the S. wall of the nave
is pierced by a two-bay arcade of the late 13th century. It
comprises arches of three chamfered orders, an octagonal
pier with moulded capitals and roll-moulded base, and
straight responds with semi-octagonal corbels resting on
mask stops, much renewed, and carrying the inner order
of the arch; labels on both sides terminate on head stops,
one of which has a mitred head. Some of the voussoirs,
carved with lozenge-pattern, are presumably reused.
Above, and visible from the nave is the head of a roll-moulded rear arch of a blocked 12th-century window.
This window is high in the wall, and it was presumably
tall. At the head of the wall on the S. side is a 12th-century corbel-table with nine corbels, some with
grotesque heads, supporting a ledge decorated with saw-tooth ornament. This corbel-table returns on the E.,
externally, on two additional corbels; below this is a
length of string-course, double-chamfered and decorated
with zig-zag. Original quoins at the external angle of the
nave have been removed. The W. half of the S. wall,
rebuilt in the late 14th century, has an ogee-moulded
plinth and buttresses of two weathered stages. Inside, at
the level of the arch springing, is a short length of 12th-century double-chamfered string-course enriched with
lozenge pattern. The S. doorway, with a four-centred
head and continuous mouldings, is late 14th-century, but
was blocked internally in 1904. The adjacent window
repeats that on the N. The walls of the nave were
heightened in the 17th century to form a clearstorey with
a plain parapet; the rectangular windows with chamfered
mullions have rear arches of 1875, replacing wooden
The North Chapel has an ogee-moulded plinth, a two-stage diagonal buttress and plain eaves. The E. window
has ogee cusped lights, vertical tracery and a quatrefoil in
the head. In the N. wall are two 17th-century rectangular
windows, one with hollow-chamfered mullions, the
The South Chapel has two-stage angle buttresses at the
S.E. corner and plain eaves. The E. window and the two
S. windows are of similar date and design to those in the
N. chapel. The W. wall, rebuilt in the late 14th century,
has a wave-moulded plinth and a lateral two-stage
buttress. Reset internally below the S. windows is a
12th-century double-chamfered string-course enriched
with lozenge pattern.
The West Tower, in fine ashlar, is late 14th-century.
Externally it is in four stages with a multiple ogee-moulded plinth, four-stage angle buttresses, embattled
parapet and octagonal stone spire with crockets. The
tower arch has three chamfered orders on the E. the
outer continuous, the inner resting on half-round
responds with moulded coved capitals, but no bases; the
label terminates on male and female head stops. The W.
window has cinque-foiled cusped lights, two confronting
mouchettes in the head, and a label with head stops. The
second stages is blank. The third has on three sides small
cusped windows with square labels, and on the E. is a
weathered gable-course relating to a former steeply
pitched roof. The belfry stage has pairs of tall openings.
each of two lights with cusped heads and transoms; the
openings on the E. and W. have square heads, those on
the N. are pointed and those on the S. have been
incongruously repaired with round heads, perhaps by J.
B. Corby in 1875. Below the parapet is a band of blind
quatrefoils. On the spire are two tiers of lucarnes, the
lower of two trefoiled lights, the upper of one.
Fig. 195 Wakerley Church Nave
Reconstruction of 12th-century section
with surviving E. wall
The North Porch, integral with the nave, has plain
eaves. The archway is of two orders; the inner is wave-moulded and carried on half-round responds and the
outer is continuous. Over the archway is a niche with
trefoil head. Inside are stone benches.
The Roofs over the chancel and nave have cambered tie
beams, ridge and side purlins. The nave roof has at the
E. and W. braced tie beams and wall posts supported on
carved stone corbels, now mutilated; bosses are carved
with various figures and heads in the medieval tradition.
The nave roof was entirely reconstructed in 1737–8,
apparently re-using some earlier timbers (Ex. MS. 61/88).
Fittings – Bells 1st, 1598; 2nd by Thomas Norris,
1663; 3rd, 1599; 4th, on floor of tower, by Joseph Eayre,
St. Neots, 1766; 1st and 3rd are inscribed in Lombardic
characters. Brackets in N. and S. chapels, pairs of
chamfered shelves flanking the E. windows; 15th-century. Brass Indents in chancel, stone slab with indents
for a male figure, three plates and three shields, late
medieval. Font (Plate 38): on four square columns with
moulded capitals and bases, square bowl carved on the
E. with a large quatrefoil containing fleurs-de-lis, on the
N. with an inverted trefoil head and on the S. and W.
with trefoil heads; 13th-century, probably recut. Glass:
(1), in E. windows of N. and S. chapels, yellow stain
foliage, floral roundels and fragmentary inscription, in
original position, 15th-century; (2), in nave, shield of
arms of Delawarr, 14th-century; the manor was held by
the Delawarr family in the 14th and early 15th centuries.
Monuments and Floor slabs. Monuments in chancel – (1),
of Richard Cecil, second son of Thomas 1st Earl of
Exeter, 1633, panel inscribed in large Roman characters
set in a late medieval surround having a four-centred
head and cusped spandrels with a plain masonry chest
below, possibly the survival of an Easter Sepulchre; (2),
of Charles Jackson, 1819, tablet with draped urn, by
Gilbert; (3), of Rev. Samuel Hunt, January 1814, and
wife Sarah, 1843, by T. Swann, Barrowden; (4), of
William Jackson, 1810 and wife Sarah, 1810, marble
tablet with obelisk; (5), of Joseph Howkins, February
1813, and wife Ann, 1823, design as (4), by Gilbert,
Stamford; (6), of John Chapman, 1840, by Smith,
Stamford; (7), of Ann Chapman, 1823, by Gilbert,
Stamford. In nave – (8), of Anthony Pepper, 1826, stone
tablet with grey marble obelisk; (9), of Sarah Pepper,
1812, and husband John, 1814, as (8); (10), of John
Pepper, marble tablet, stone surround with arched top,
1843, by Swann. Floor slabs in chancel – (1), of [David]
Cecil, March 1638 aged 8; (2), of Edward Cecil,
February 1638, aged 10; (3), of William Cecil, August
1638, aged 7; (4), Edward Cecil, 1636, aged 2; being the
sons of David 3rd Earl of Exeter. In nave – (5), of
Walter Smith, January 1765, marble; (6), of Mary Miles,
1765, as (5). Piscinae in chancel – (1), bowl with septfoil
sinking, medieval. In N. chapel – (2), ogee head, bowl
with quatrefoil sinking, 15th-century. In S. chapel – (3),
pointed head, label with mask stops, bowl with sexfoil
(2) Two storeys, abnormal plan with two-room front
range entered from the side into a passage against the
back wall, and with a central stack, early 19th-century.
Freestone dressings, triple sash windows, parapeted
gables with roll finials. The service range to the rear is
post-1850 in its present form.
(3) Wakerley House Farm (Fig. 196; Plate 118), two
storeys with cellar, class 8, second quarter 19th century.
The house, of neatly coursed rubble with hipped stone
slate roof with overhanging eaves, has ovolo-moulded
two-light windows on the front, the lower with Gothick
pattern glazing bars; the doorway has a four-centred
head. Inside, the original stair and most of the door and
window architraves have survived. A single-storey
outbuilding contemporary with the main house has
reused roof timbers from a roof of late medieval date; it
has a principal and two braces from an arch-braced collar
truss, and a purlin with notches for wind-braces.
Fig. 196 Wakerley (3)
(4) Nos. 20, 21, 22, latterly three cottages but
originally a three-room house of the 18th century with a
later wing on the N. Reused in No. 21 are fragments of
17th-century panelling including a carved frieze.
(5) No. 28 (Fig. 197), two storeys, probably
heightened from a one-storey building, class 4b, early
19th-century, extended to the S. after 1850.
(6) The Manor House, an L-shaped building with
modern additions, includes a two-storey and attics three-cell range of 18th-century date, refaced and modernized
in the Gothick style in the second half of the 19th
century. The two-storey early 19th-century range to the
E., formerly with central entrance, replaces an earlier
range shown on a map of 1772 (BEO). A quoin at the
N.W. corner is inscribed 'John Archer 1769'.
Fig. 197 Wakerley (5)
(7) Copper Beech, formerly the Rectory, now of two
storeys throughout, is of early 18th-century origin. A
stone fireplace with eared surround of this date survives
in the W. room. The E. part of the house, divided from
the W. by a thick stone wall, was formerly of one storey
with attics as indicated by a roof scar on the E. face of
the wall. Openings on the front are early 19th-century
and contain sashes. Ashlar stacks and parapeted gables.
The kitchen wing is late 18th-century and contains
contemporary cooking arrangements with a fireplace
flanked by a bread oven and cupboard (Plate 127).
(8) Three two-storey class 4c cottages with coursed
rubble walls, parapeted gables and Welsh-slated roof.
Only the N. wall is obviously ancient but a house is
shown on the site on a 1772 map of Wakerley (BEO).
Modified in the late 19th century.
Fig. 198 Wakerley (9) Exeter Arms
Plan to show former arrangement
(9) The Exeter Arms (Fig. 198; Plate 122), of two
storeys and cellar, was built as a public house in the early
19th century. The front is symmetrical with a two-storey
porch. Windows with four-centred heads with rubble
arches and recesses below the sills; doors also with four-centred heads.
(10) No. 5 (Fig. 199), one storey and attics, thatched
roof, class 4a, 18th-century.
Fig. 199 Wakerley (10)
(11) No. 4, one storey and attics, perhaps originally
class 4a, 17th-century, largely rebuilt in the late 19th
century. Mullioned windows, pantiled roof, formerly
(12) No. 3. two storeys, class 4a, set at right angles to
street, not shown on the estate map of 1772 (BEO), early
(13) Dovecote, to S.E. of the earthworks of the
gardens of the former Hall which was demolished at the
end of the 17th century (RCHM, Northants. I, Wakerley
(4) ), is almost square in plan and now ruined. Nesting
boxes, with stone slabs and alighting ledges for some 378
pairs of birds survive. It does not appear on the map of
1772 and may be the dovecote built by the Exeter estate
in 1775; the masonry by Adam Elsam cost £13 os. 2d.,
the carpentry by Thomas Archer £2 9s. od., and it was
thatched (BEO, Day Books, I775–6).
(14) A two-room house of one storey and attics, red
brick stacks on gables, thatched roof, late 18th-century,
possibly the house shown on the 1772 map (BEO). Probably class 6b but the central doorway is now blocked.
(15) Manor Farm, one storey and attics, some crested
ridge tiles, originated in the 17th century as a two-room
house with internal stack. The fireplace in this stack has
pilasters with chamfered capitals similar to those at
Duddington (30) and Nassington (33). Slightly later the
building was extended to the S. It has been curtailed on
the S. since 1901 (OS) when it appears to have been an
L-shaped building with four bays in the front range; only
three bays now survive giving a class 2 plan. The house
was extensively refitted in the early 19th century and a
new stair was inserted against the recess of the earlier
stair to the E. of the original stack. A blocked door in
the N. gable, with monolithic segmental chamfered head
and chamfered jambs is unusual in its position; it is of
similar character to a mutilated door in the S. room.
(16) No. 1, a symmetrical fronted two-room cottage
of two storeys, early 19th-century. The door and
window openings have two-centred heads, the windows
having Gothick pattern glazing; hipped roof, and deeply
(17) Wakerley Bridge (Plate 75), spans the R. Welland
between Wakerley and Barrowden in Rutland. It is of
medieval date and has five pointed arches of two
chamfered orders on the E. side and has been widened
on the W. side by the addition of round arches of one
unchamfered order. There are cutwaters on each side and
a causeway on the S. On each side, over the second arch
from the N., marking the county boundary, is a
medieval head corbel. In 1472 William Edgosse of
Bulwick bequeathed 6s. Sd. for the maintenance of this
bridge and the bridges of Thyrpul, Harringworth and
Bulwick (NRO, Early Northants. Wills f. 31). Repairs
were carried out in 1793 by Thomas Swan (BEO, Day
Books, 1793–4) and the bridge bears a tablet inscribed
'TS 1793'. Further repairs were made in 1843 (NRO,
Q.S. Order Book June 1843).