Holewelle (xi cent.).
The parish of Holwell has an area of 892½ acres,
almost the whole of which is arable land. (fn. 1) The soil
is stiff clay, the subsoil, clay; the principal crops are
oats, barley, beans, and peas. The land slopes from
a height of 235 ft. above the ordnance datum in the
south-west to 170 ft. in the north-east. It has been
transferred, since the survey of 1831, from Bedfordshire to Hertfordshire.
The country is open and level, traversed from
north to south by the main road from Shefford to
Hitchin, and the few houses which form the village
stand, together with the church and vicarage, at a
little distance to the west of the road. In the
south-east corner of the parish is a small group of
houses, known as Cadwell, and on the northern
boundary is Holwellbury, the only considerable building in the parish, with Old Ramerick Farm at a little
distance to the west. This last is apparently but a
fragment of a larger building, formerly of some
Two small streams, tributaries of the Hiz, run
across the parish from west to east, and the main line
of the Great Northern Railway cuts through the
eastern side, beyond the line of the main road, the
nearest station being at Henlow.
The house at Old Ramerick has an eighteenthcentury red brick front, but at the back, and also in
one of the barns, there are remains of old stonework.
The manor of HOLWELL originated
in a charter of King Edgar, bearing date
968, and granting land in Holwell to the
abbey of St. Peter of Westminster, which was confirmed in 1066 by Edward the Confessor when the
land is described as 6½ hides. (fn. 2) At the Domesday
Survey in 1086 the abbot of Westminster held a
manor of the above extent in Holwell. (fn. 3) In the
thirteenth century this manor was assessed for scutage
at 9 marks yearly, (fn. 4) and included 6 hides, (fn. 5) and in 1490
Thomas Peyton held it of the abbey by service of £6
yearly, (fn. 6) but no further trace has been found of the
overlordship, and it is not mentioned in the Valor
Ecclesiasticus as belonging to Westminster Abbey.
The earliest lords of Holwell Manor, the Malories,
are found settled in Holwell from the twelfth century
holding their lands from the abbey of Westminster.
A charter of John's reign contains the grant of half
a virgate in Holwell from Simon Malory to his
nephew Simon son of Robert. (fn. 7) Alice Malory, possibly the wife of the younger Simon, made good her
claim to half a virgate here in 1228. (fn. 8) In 1241
Robert Malory held Holwell, described for the first
time as a manor, (fn. 9) and a few years later was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 10) who justified his claim to
Holwell by descent from one Bertram Malory. (fn. 11)
John Malory held Holwell Manor in 1316, (fn. 12) and
the family evidently retained the lordship, for in
1357 Simon Francis was holding land in Holwell of
John Malory by service of suit of court. (fn. 13) Eleanor
the daughter of a late John Malory married Sir John
Bernard of Islesham, (fn. 14) who in 1464 placed this manor
in the hands of trustees, (fn. 15) preliminary to settlement
on his daughter Margaret who married Thomas
Peyton. (fn. 16) Thomas Peyton, son of the above Thomas,
died in possession of the manor in 1490 and left a
brother Robert as his heir. (fn. 17) Though there is little
documentary evidence, this family appears to have
continued to hold Holwell manor, for in 1561 it
was in the possession of Thomas Peyton, (fn. 18) who in
1564 finally alienated it to Robert Ivory. (fn. 19) John
Ivory, probably son of Robert, held the manor in
1600 (fn. 20) and was followed by William Ivory who in
1656 alienated the manor to Thomas Stoneylove. (fn. 21)
He transferred it in 1673 to George Nodes, (fn. 22) by
whose son George it was alienated in 1704 to Ralph
Wingate and Robert Raworth. (fn. 23) This manor subsequently passed to the Foresters, though no record
of the transfer has been found, and in 1765 Baldwyn
Leighton, nephew of Diana Forester, sold it to John
Radcliffe. (fn. 24)
Malory. Or a lion gules with a forked tail.
Peyton. Sable a cross engrailed or.
He died without issue in 1783, and was succeeded
by Mr. Delmé who had married his niece Anne
Clarke. (fn. 25) The manor then passed to Henry Delmé
Radcliffe, their son, (fn. 26) who died childless in 1830
and was succeeded by his brother Frederick Peter,
whose son Francis Delmé Radcliffe is at the present
day lord of the manor. (fn. 27)
In the fourteenth century the family of Spigurnel
held land in Holwell, of which the first mention is
found in 1309 when Henry Spigurnel received a
charter of free warren here. (fn. 28) In 1386 William son.
of William Spigurnel, and probably grandson of
Henry, held a toft, a carucate of land and 6s. 8d.
rent in Holwell, which passed at his death to his
aunt Lucy, wife of William Alberd. (fn. 29) She, at her
death in 1390, left a daughter Amicia wife of John
de Kyrkham, (fn. 30) but it has not been found possible to
trace the descent of this property further.
Radcliffe. Argent a cros.let gules between three bends engrailed sable with a label and a quarter sable and a crosslet or upon the quarter.
Delme. Or an anchor sable between two lions passant gules.
The church of ST. PETER was entirely rebuilt in 1877 in fourteenthcentury style, and consists of a chancel
19 ft. by 16 ft. 6 in.; nave 38 ft. by 18 ft. 6 in.,
south aisle 26 ft. 6 in. by 10 ft. 6 in., and south
porch with a small tower over.
A few pieces of old work have been re-used, the
most interesting being the string across the inner face
of the east wall of the chancel. This is of fourteenthcentury date and has a hollow chamfer on the under
side. At the north end is a grotesque beast with a
long snout, and closed wings; out of its mouth issues
a wavy stem on which at irregular intervals are set
ball flowers, human heads, and leaves.
In the north wall of the nave a fifteenth-century
piscina head has been reset with modern jambs, &c.;
it was probably cinquefoiled, but only a piece of the
middle foil remains.
The doorway on the north side of the nave is also
of fifteenth-century date with a four-centred arch.
The details of the modern work call for little description. The chancel has an east window of three
lights, two single-light windows on the south, and
one on the north. The chancel arch is of two
chamfered orders springing from short corbelled
shafts, and the nave has a south arcade of two bays,
and a west window of three trefoiled lights with
tracery over. The east window of the aisle is a
single trefoiled light and in the south wall are two
square-headed windows, one of two and the other of
three trefoiled lights. There is a doorway at the west
end of the aisle, in addition to those north and
south of the nave.
The only monument of interest is a slab at the
east end of the nave, with an inscription on a brass
plate to a priest, Robert Wodehouse, who died in
1515. Above the inscription is a chalice and Host,
instead of the figure of the person commemorated,
and on either side two will men or Woodhouses,
armed with clubs and targets.
In the tower are two bells by T. Mears, 1841.
The plate is modern, consisting of a silver cup,
large and small patens and a plated flagon.
The registers begin in 1560, and the first book
contains baptisms, marriages, and burials to 1765.
The advowson of Great Holwell
church appears to have been attached
to the manor (q.v.) (fn. 31) until 1673,
when it was purchased from George Nodes by Sir
Ralph Radcliffe, (fn. 32) whose great-grandson John Radcliffe acquired in 1765 the manor of Holwell (q.v.),
with which the advowson has since gone. (fn. 33)
Rand's Educational Foundation,
derived under the will of John Rand,
1706. See above, 'Schools.'
Rand's Elementary Charity.—By an order of the
Charity Commissioners of 5 August, 1904, made
under Board of Education Act, 1899, the following
items were exempted from purposes of education and
continue to be applicable under the provisions of a
scheme of the High Court of Chancery of 21 April,
(a) The Rectory House at Holwell.
(b) The land and building, appropriated for the
purposes of almshouses belonging to the
(c) A yearly sum of £180 out of income in the
maintenance of almspeople and pensioners.
(d) A yearly sum of £40 for relief of sick and
(e) A yearly sum of £100 to the rector of Holwell for the performance of divine service with
sermon in the church twice on every Sunday
throughout the year.
(f) A yearly sum of £160 for apprenticeship
premiums and rewards.
(g) A yearly sum of £10 for the benefit of the
village lending library.
By the Chancery scheme above referred to the
benefits of the charity were extended to Pirton,
Ickleford and Lower Stondon.