The first Caldecote priest known by name was Robert de Holewell (1215), but there were others before him, like an anonymous priest mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The reason he was recorded at all was because he held some land, in the gift of the Lord of the Manor. It was not deemed necessary to name him, although named priests do feature in the Book.
A handful of wills survive, among them the last will and testament of Robert Lee, who arrived in Caldecote in 1507; in 1536 he was preparing to meet his Maker. A tomb in the church was guaranteed, ex officio, but he was very specific as to where exactly. “… And my body to be buryede in the qweyre (quire) of the parishe churche of Caldecoyte before the image of Mary Magdalene”.
William Makeley (Makesey?), who died in 1415, was commemorated in stained glass. When the 16th century reformists smashed up all windows, parishioners rescued what was left of a kneeling figure of the priest and mounted the pieces in a small light of the south window. Pity his head was never found to be reunited with the rest of the body!
Another priest buried in the chancel is Francis Bourne, who arrived in 1681 and died in 1713. Robert Clutterbuck in his “The History and Antiquities of the County of Hertford” of 1815 remembers seeing a tablet in the chancel, but the inscription was already barely legible then. These days the remains of this tablet are themselves buried under a new wooden floor of the chancel.
The only priest whose headstone still survives in the graveyard is ThomasCharles Litchfield Layton. The inscription reads: “Sacred to the memory of the Rev. Thomas Charles Litchfield Layton, Rector of this parish, who died 30th April 1893, aged 70 years”. Rev. Layton came to Caldecote barely a year before.
And finally, Henry Buttanshaw, appointed to Caldecote in 1870 only to be offered a more substantial appointment in Edworth, just down the road, a year later. He however continued as rector of Caldecote until his death. A charming stained-glass window in St George’s church, Edworth, was erected in his memory and reads: “To the glory of God and in memory of the Rev. Henry Buttanshaw MA, 30 years rector of this parish. Born Lady Day AD 1830, died May 28th AD 1891”. Grazyna