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Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

(52°39′48″N, 0°9′37″E)
TF 462 095
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cambridgeshire
now Cambridgeshire
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

The stones numbered 1, 2 and 3 were part of a batch of material given to the museum on 10 January 1872 by Mr John Batterham, a member of a family of local builders. Such details of provenance as were supplied at the time are given below, but the accession register is sketchy and the original correspondence is lost. Any marks that were made on the stones at the time of accessioning have long disappeared. I am most grateful to Robert Bell, Assistant Curator, for his help.



Loose Sculpture


1. St John the Baptist, Parson Drove, is a chapelry in the parish of Leverington, some six miles W of Wisbech. Its earliest fabric is 13thc., but its original chancel is said to have been washed away in floods in 1613. It has not been used since 1974 and is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. As far as I know, this is the only surviving pillar piscina in the county. The superficially similar examples at Wilburton and Willingham prove, on examination, to be constructions of capitals and nook shafts, lacking drainage holes. Similar fluted capitals are known at Wentworth and Ely Cathedral, but it is not an unusual form. Dating: probably c.1100–25.

2. Capitals of this form are unusual on doorways and windows, but suitable for pier responds and wall arcading, which suggests that it came from quite a large church. Volute capitals were commonest before c.1110 and, in a slightly different form, after c.1180. Both the state of wear and the unusual form of this rather arbitrarily designed example makes deciding between the two difficult, but on the whole it looks earlier rather than later.

3. Found on the Museum site, and assumed to originate from SS Peter and Paul, Wisbech a few yards away. A ubiquitous form, which could have been produced at any time between 1120 and 1200. It is probably from a doorway.

4. Waterleaf capitals become common after 1180, giving way to stiff-leaf almost entirely by 1220. The square notch suggests that this is a late example.