Heilweston (xii cent.) Hailweston, Halewestan,
The parish of Hail Weston contains 1,583 acres.
The subsoil is Oxford Clay. About two-thirds of
the land is arable and the remainder grass, with about
53 acres of woodland. The river Kym, anciently
known as the Hail or Hayle, from which the parish
derives its name, (fn. 1) forms the northern and eastern
boundary of the parish. There was an ancient bridge
over the river, which is mentioned in 1377. It was
standing in 1798, when it was built of stone with four
arches, but the parapet was ruinous. (fn. 2) The present
bridge is modern. There are two springs, which were
reputed to have medicinal qualities, but perhaps
derive more fame from the poem by Michael Drayton,
entitled the 'Holy Wells of Hailweston.' The
springs were used for medicinal purposes in the
16th and 17th centuries, (fn. 3) but later fell into disuse.
In 1844 they were sold and are now used by the Hail
Weston Springs Co., aerated water manufacturers.
The village lies on the north side of the road from
St. Neots to Kimbolton. The church is at the
south-east end of the village, which contains several
half-timber houses and cottages of the 17th century.
The nearest railway station is at St. Neots, three miles
away, on the London and North Eastern Railway.
A few Neolithic implements have been found, (fn. 4) but
greater importance is attached to a bronze statuette
of the Romano-British period which was found a few
years before 1824. (fn. 5)
The parish has always been closely connected with
that of Southoe, and though the civil parishes are
now separated, ecclesiastically they are still united.
The population in 1921 was 265.
In the time of Edward the Confessor
the manor of HAIL WESTON was
held by two men, named Saxi and
Uluin Chit. (fn. 6) Although Uluin was a man of Earl
Harold, his manor was in no way subordinate to the
Earl's great manor of Kimbolton. (fn. 7) In 1086, Robert
son of Fafiton had succeeded them. (fn. 8) He seems to
have been succeeded by his son Eustace (fn. 9) and grandson
Aubyn. (fn. 10) In the 13th century, the manor apparently
formed part of the Honour of Mortimer, (fn. 11) and in 1230
and 1242 Roger de Quincy, Earl of Winchester, held
it as a mesne tenant of the Honour. (fn. 12) Before 1279,
his daughters and heirs, Margaret, Countess of
Ferrers, and Ellen, widow of Alan la Zouche, held
their shares in demesne, so that the further sub-infeudation of the manor seems to have come to an
end. (fn. 13) As at Eynesbury, (fn. 14) the Countess obtained
two-thirds of the manor, (fn. 15) which apparently followed
the descent of the manor of Eynesbury Ferrers, (fn. 16) until
1617, when the latter manor was sold by Sir William
Dyer. (fn. 17) He retained the manor of Hail Weston, for
which his son Sir Lewis Dyer, bart., compounded
after its sequestration under the Commonwealth
and was in possession of it in 1659. (fn. 18) After Sir
Lewis's death in 1669, (fn. 19) it passed to William Dyer, (fn. 20)
probably a nephew. Richard Dyer sold it to Henry
Carter in 1699. (fn. 21) Carter became bankrupt and the
manor of Hail Weston was sold in 1715 to Sir William
Scawen, kt., (fn. 22) who resold it in 1720 to Richard
Houlditch. (fn. 23) He, in the same
year, sold it to William
Astell. (fn. 24) In 1723 it was in
the hands of the South Sea
Company. Before 1730 it
had come into the possession
of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, at whose death in
1744 it passed to her grandson John Spencer, created
Earl Spencer in 1765, who
was holding in 1780. (fn. 25) He
was succeeded at his death
in 1783 by his son George
John, second Earl Spencer,
who before 1803 had sold the manor to John Pyne.
It had passed to the Rev. Hele Selby Hele in 1811,
then to John Hyde in 1814 and to Lawrence Reynolds
in 1819. The trustees of Lawrence Reynolds were
holding in 1841 and Edward Reynolds of Little Paxton
in 1885. His son Edward died in 1893 and was
succeeded by his son Capt. Edward Reynolds. After
his death Mrs. Irene Larsen and Miss Gwendolene
Reynolds, sisters of Edward Reynolds, sold the manor
in 1920 to Mr. Robert Holmes Edleston, F.S.A., the
present owner. (fn. 26)
Spencer. Quarterly argent and gules fretty or a bend sable with three scallops argent thereon.
The manor of Hail Weston seems to have been
held in the 12th century by sub-tenants as two-thirds
of a knight's fee. (fn. 27) Whether they had any connection
with Robert son of Fafiton and his descendants or
whether they were enfeoffed by the de Quincys does
not appear. Probably the first sub-tenant was Robert
de Broy. (fn. 28) Two sons are mentioned in one of his
charters, (fn. 29) but he seems to have been succeeded by
William de Auno, presumably his son-in-law, since
William's daughter Agnes calls him her grandfather. (fn. 30)
She married first Hugh de Ardres and secondly
Robert de St. George, (fn. 31) the latter of whom had died
before 1219. She had a son named John, (fn. 32) but in
1219 she granted lands here to William de St. George, (fn. 33)
probably a grandson of Robert de St. George, but not
of Agnes. (fn. 34) He was holding it in 1230 (fn. 35) and 1242–3, (fn. 36)
but died before 1244–5, (fn. 37) when his four sisters, Aubrey
de Windlingbury or Launcelin, Agnes wife of William
Grafham or Brampton, Felicia de Buckworth and
Cecilia de Soke were his heirs. (fn. 38) Their descendants
can be traced amongst the tenants of the Countess
Ferrers and Ellen la Zouche in 1279, but they do not
seem to have held the manor of Hail Weston, which
apparently had escheated to their overlords. (fn. 39)
The third part of the manor held by Ellen la Zouche
passed with the manor of Eynesbury Bulkeley to her
son Oliver la Zouche and ultimately to Sir James
Dyer, (fn. 40) who had purchased the other two-thirds of
the manor. Thus this manor became merged in the
chief manor (q.v.).
HARVEY'S MANOR in Hail Weston was held
in the 16th century of Lord Ferrers of Chartley and
Robert Bulkeley, the lords of the two parts of Hail
Weston manor. (fn. 41) In 1521–2, Sir George Harvey, kt.,
died seised of Harvey's manor and left it by will to
Gerard, son of Margaret Smarte. (fn. 42) No relationship
is stated, but possibly the devisee was an illegitimate
son of Harvey, whose heir was his daughter, Elizabeth
wife of Edward Wauton. (fn. 43) In 1554, Gerard Harvey
alias Smarte settled the manor on himself and his
wife Anne and their heirs. (fn. 44) In 1589 and 1590 a
John Harvey conveyed a considerable quantity of
land in different lots in Hail Weston to Richard
Thodye, Richard Tayleffere, Thomas Dove and
William Barcocke. (fn. 45) Probably if this ever was a manor
it became at this date split up and fell into desuetude.
It does not appear to be identical with a manor of
Hail Weston, which, with a view of frankpledge was
sold in 1638 by Nicholas grandson of Nicholas Luke
to John Rawlins and Richard Weaver. (fn. 46)
Two other portions of land in Hail Weston appear
in Domesday Book. In the time of the Confessor, one
and a half hides of land were held with sac and soc
by Aelget, first of Earl Tosti and afterwards of Earl
Waltheof. (fn. 47) In 1086 they had passed to Eustace
the Sheriff, but were claimed by Waltheof's widow,
Judith. (fn. 48) Another half-hide was held by Godwin
and also passed to Eustace. (fn. 49) The countess does not
seem to have succeeded in her claim to Aelget's land
and apparently both holdings passed to Eustace's
successors the Lovetots. (fn. 50) The land seems to have
been held as part of their manor of Suthoe Lovetot
and not to have formed a separate manor. (fn. 51)
The Priories of St. Neots, (fn. 52) St. Mary's, Huntingdon, (fn. 53) Hinchinbroke, (fn. 54) and Stonley, (fn. 55) all obtained
grants of land in Hail Weston, and were in possession
of tenements there at the time of the Dissolution.
William de St. George granted a windmill to the
Priory of St. Neots in the early part of the 13th century. (fn. 56) His heirs in 1245 quitclaimed all their right
in the windmill to the Priory. (fn. 57) In 1324, the windmill was ruinous and of no value, (fn. 58) but it was evidently
rebuilt or repaired and was in the hands of the priory
at its dissolution. (fn. 59)
The Church of ST. NICHOLAS
consists of a chancel (19½ ft. by 22¾ ft.),
nave (40¼ ft. by 22¾ ft.), timber west
tower (12 ft. by 10¼ ft.), and a modern south porch.
The walls are of pebble rubble with stone dressings
and the roof is covered with tiles.
The church, which is a chapelry to Southoe, appears
to have been originally built in the 13th century, the
greater part of the east wall being rebuilt at the end
of the 15th century and the south wall of the nave
in the 16th century, at which latter date the tower
was built. The church was completely restored in
1884, when a north porch was pulled down and the
present south porch built.
The late 13th-century chancel (fn. 60) has a late 15th-century three-light east window, much restored, the
east wall having been rebuilt from the sill-line upwards
at this date. The north wall has an original lancet
window; and the south wall has a much-restored late
15th-century three-light, a modern doorway incorporating a few 13th-century stones, and an original
double piscina much restored and without a drain.
The buttresses at the two eastern angles have lions
carved on the top slopes.
The late 13th-century nave has in the north wall a
two-light and a three-light window, both modern,
but evidently copied from an early 16th and late 15th-century window respectively, and a modern doorway.
In the south wall are an early 16th-century three-light,
a modern three-light, and an early 16th-century doorway. In the west wall is an early 16th-century doorway
into the tower, and a modern single-light on each
side of it. Both nave and chancel are under one roof,
which is largely modern, but has a few late 15th-century timbers, particularly the eastern tie-beam of
the nave which is carved with a flowing ornament.
The modern south porch is of timber.
The 16th-century west tower is timber framed, and
has large spurs at the corners; the bell chamber
slightly overhangs the lower part, and is surmounted
by a modern pyramidal roof. It was entirely taken
down in 1884, and re-erected on a stone base, previous
to which it had an ordinary span-roof, and the whole
was covered with rough weather-boarding which has
now given place to oak shingles.
The late 13th-century font is a plain octagon on an
octagonal stem and a square base, and shows some
signs of having been coloured.
There are three bells, inscribed (1) Christopher
Graie made me, 1655; (2) Feare God and obeai the
Quene, 1589; (3) John Taylor & Co., Founders,
Loughborough, 1884. The treble bell is a very rough
casting; the second is by Watts. The old tenor is
said to have weighed 8 cwt. 1 qr. 25 lb. (fn. 61) There
were three bells in 1709. (fn. 62)
Between the chancel and the nave is the lower part
of a 15th-century oak screen, much restored. There
are eight early 16th-century benches with carved
poppy-heads in the nave. (fn. 63) The early 17th-century
communion table has turned legs, and rails carved
with arabesque pattern, and lying loose in the tower
is a piece of panelling of a contemporary date.
There is a War Memorial, 1914–1918, and the
east window is in memory of the wife of Henry
Shadforth, d. 1913.
The registers are as follows: i. Baptisms,
marriages and burials, 1563–4; to 24 Aug. 1644; (ii)
the same, 13 Oct. 1653 to 16 March 1704–5; iii.
the same, 26 March 1708 to 31 Dec. 1812; marriages
end 13 Oct. 1756; the entries from 1757 to 1790
have been copied from the transcripts in the Archidiaconal Registry; (iv) the official marriage book,
16 Dec. 1754 to 7 Oct. 1812.
The church plate consists of: A silver cup,
paten and silver-mounted glass flagon, all inscribed,
'Hail Weston Church on its restoration, 1884,'
hall-marked for 1885–6. In 1907 a pewter chalice
was purchased from Hail Weston by the Cambridge
Museum. (fn. 64)
The church or chapel of St.
Nicholas (fn. 65) at Hail Weston has always
been annexed to the church of
Southoe, from its first mention in 1222 to the present
day. (fn. 66) Separate provision for the maintenance of
divine service was made, probably at the instance
of Bishop Hugh de Welles (1209–1235), when the
rector of Southoe in 1222 presented Simon de Eynesbury to the vicarage of Hail Weston, with the consent
of Nigel de Lovetot, the patron of the church of
Southoe. (fn. 67) No tithes, however, seem to have been
assigned to the vicar, but all altar dues of the chapel,
excepting burials and whatever else was due from a
chapel to its mother church. (fn. 68) The provision of a
separate priest at Hail Weston was continued after the
church at Southoe was granted to the Priory of St.
Mary, Huntingdon, and a vicarage instituted. (fn. 69) In
1534, the vicar of Southoe, besides presumably allowing
the same altar dues as in 1222, paid an annual stipend
from his vicarage of £5 6s. 8d. to his curate at Hail
Weston. (fn. 70)
Two parts of the tithes of his land in Weston
were granted in the 12th century by Albin Fafiton
to the Priory of St. Neots. (fn. 71)
At the time of the Dissolution of the Chantries,
five rods of arable land, of the yearly value of 8d.
had been granted for the maintenance of a light in the
chapel. (fn. 72)
The Baptist chapel at Hail Weston is said to be
the oldest in Huntingdonshire, having been founded
in 1757. It has a small endowment.
There are no charities.