Bierne (xi–xiv cent.); Bytherne (xii–xv cent.);
Byerne (xiii cent.); Bithorne (xiii–xvi cent.).
The parish lies on the Northamptonshire border
and measures about 3 miles in length from north to
south, and from half a mile to a mile in width. It
covers 1,570 acres of clay land which grows wheat,
barley, oats and beans, but most of the land is pasture.
A stream runs from west to east through the middle
of the parish, where the land lies about 120 ft. above
Ordnance datum, and is liable to floods. It rises
to the north on the Northamptonshire boundary to
about 250 ft. and to the south at Mickle Hill to about
The village stands on ground rising from the stream,
and mainly on the north side of the road from Thrapston to Huntingdon, where it is crossed by byroads called Clack Lane, from the south, and Warren
Lane, from the north. The church is in the middle
of the village, surrounded by farms and cottages,
one or two of which date back to the 17th century.
The Baptist chapel, to the north-east of the church,
was built in 1809. There was a windmill on the
south side of the road to Huntingdon, about a quarter
of a mile to the east of the village, which was destroyed
not long ago.
The nearest railway station is at Raunds, 3½ miles
to the south-west.
Alfwold (d. 990), younger brother of
Aylwin, the founder of Ramsey Abbey,
granted BYTHORN to the monks.
Like Brington, Bythorn, after appearing in 1086 as a
'manor' assessed to the geld at 4 hides, became a
dependent part of the manor of Old Weston (q.v.),
the descent of which it followed.
Ramsey Abbey. Or a bend azure with three rams' heads argent cut off at the neck thereon.
It is related that Alfilda, the wife of Alfwold, held
Bythorn in dower and granted it to the monks with
the request that they would
receive Aednoth, the son of
her daughter, as a monk. (fn. 1)
William I confirmed
Bythorn to Ramsey in 1077,
and ordered that half a hide,
of which Humphrey the
larderer disseised them, should
be restored, as it was appropriated for the provision of
their victuals and clothing. (fn. 2)
This may be the half-hide in
Bythorn held by Eulard in
the time of Henry I (fn. 3) and
which passed, after the death
of Henry I, to Henry de Wychenton. (fn. 4) Later William
de Wychentone sold his land in Bythorn to the
abbot of Ramsey, who before 1254 had added it to
the manor of Bythorn. (fn. 5) Between 1254 and 1267 the
abbey allocated to the custody of the shrine of
St. Ive 2s. annual rent from their manor of Weston,
bought from Andrew de Bythorn. (fn. 6)
The church of ST. LAWRENCE
consists of a chancel (21¼ ft. by 15¼ ft.),
with north chapel (21¼ ft. by 7¾ ft.),
nave (39 ft. by 14¾ ft.), north aisle (4¾ ft. wide), south
aisle (41¼ ft. by 8¼ ft.), west tower (8 ft. by 7½ ft.) and
south porch. The walls are partly of ashlar and partly
of coursed rubble with stone dressings, and the roofs
are covered with lead and slates.
The church is not mentioned in the Domesday
Survey (1086), but there was evidently a stone church
on the site in the 12th century, some of the stones of
which are built into the existing walls. The nave
was probably rebuilt towards the end of the 13th
century, when a north aisle was added, but, notwithstanding the presence of a 13th-century piscina, it is
doubtful whether the chancel was rebuilt at this time.
Early in the next century a south aisle was added, and
about 1345 (fn. 7) the chancel was rebuilt and widened to
the south, the tower and porch were added and the
north aisle rebuilt. The clearstory was built in the
15th century, and the north chapel early in the 16th
century. The tower and spire were repaired in 1853. (fn. 8)
The church was largely rebuilt in 1870 and the chancel
much restored in 1874. Some repairs were done to
the tower and the west end of the south aisle in 1907.
The chancel, c. 1340, has a three-light
east window with tracery in a two-centred
head, the lower part largely original, but
the upper part, together with the gable
over it, entirely modern. There is also a
small rectangular recess in the east wall,
near the south end. The north wall has a
16th-century arcade of two two-centred
arches of two orders, one chamfered and
one hollow-chamfered, carried on a central
column formed by the continuation downwards of the outer orders of the arches
between two attached shafts, and similar
responds, all the shafts having moulded
capitals and mutilated bases. The south
wall has two original windows much restored
and with modern heads, and the sill of the
eastern one carried down to form a sedile;
and a 13th-century piscina having a trefoiled head with soffit cusping, projecting
bowl, octofoiled basin, and a wooden shelf.
The chancel arch, originally of c. 1345 but nearly
all modern, is two-centred, of two chamfered orders,
the lower order carried on semi-octagonal attached
shafts with moulded capitals and chamfered bases.
There is a squint on each side, with square heads on
the east and trefoiled heads on the west. The roof
is modern and of steep pitch, rising much above that
on the nave.
The early 16th-century north chapel has no east
window, but in the north wall there are two 15thcentury two-light windows with vertical tracery in
four-centred heads. The west wall has a modern
two-centred arch to the aisle, of two chamfered
orders resting on made-up corbels.
The late 13th-century nave has an arcade of four
bays on each side, both having two-centred arches of
two chamfered orders. That on the north, of late
13th-century date, has one octagonal between two
circular columns, and the eastern respond is a semioctagonal and the western respond a semicircular
attached column all with moulded capitals and bases.
That on the south, c. 1340, has columns composed of
four grouped semicircular shafts with moulded capitals
and bases; the lower orders of the arches, at the east
and west ends, are carried on semi-octagonal corbels
terminating in modern carving. The 15th-century
clearstory has four square-headed two-light windows
with simple tracery, on each side. The contemporary roof has moulded cambered tie-beams with jacklegs and braces, and carved bosses. The mark of the
earlier high-pitched roof may be seen on the east wall
of the tower.
The north aisle, c. 1345, has in the north wall two
original two-light windows each with a quatrefoil in
a two-centred head; a mid 14th-century two-light
window with modern flowing tracery in a square head;
a reset 13th-century doorway with a two-centred
head of one chamfered order on plain jambs with
moulded imposts; and a small niche with a twocentred head. There is a straight joint between the
west wall and the north-west corner of the nave.
Plan of Bythorn Church
The early 14th-century south aisle has, in the east
wall, a much-restored mid 14th-century two-light
window with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; and
a 14th-century chamfered bracket resting on a notchhead. The south wall has three windows similar to
that in the east wall; a reset 13th-century doorway
with a two-centred head of one chamfered order on
plain jambs with moulded imposts. The west wall
has a two-light window similar to the others.
The west tower, c. 1340, has a two-centred tower
arch of two continuous moulded orders. There is no
west door, but a west window of two lights with a
quatrefoil in a two-centred head. In the stage above
in the west wall is a spherical-triangular window with
flowing tracery and a continuous label. The belfry
windows are transomed two-lights with quatrefoils in
two-centred heads. The tower has diagonal buttresses at the north-west and south-west corners,
which rise to the tops of the belfry windows, and is
finished with a band of quatrefoils in circles, above
which is a moulded cornice enriched with carved
grotesque faces. From this cornice rises a stone spire,
square at the bottom but quickly reduced, by means of
splayed broaches, to an octagon. It has three tiers of
spire lights, all on the cardinal faces, the lowest tier
being transomed two-lights, the next simple twolights, and the upper tier single-lights. The stairs
are in a rectangular turret at the south-east corner.
The south porch, c. 1345, has an almost entirely
modern two-centred outer archway of two chamfered
orders resting on semicircular attached shafts having
moulded and carved capitals and moulded bases. The
side walls have each a much-restored single-light
window with a two-centred head.
The 16th-century font has a plain octagonal bowl
with a chamfered lower edge, resting on an octagonal
stem with a chamfered base. (fn. 9)
There are four bells, inscribed: (1) Henry Bagley
made mee 1682. (2) Henry Penn fusore 1711. (3)
Omnia fiant ad gloriam Dei 1620 N.Q. (4) Thomas
Norris made me 1674. The third bell is by Tobias
Norris I. In 1552 there were three bells and a sanctus
bell. (fn. 10)
The 17th-century oak Communion table has carved
and moulded rails and turned legs.
On the south-west buttress of the tower is a well-cut
sundial; and there is a scratched dial on the south
buttress of the chancel.
Some pieces of 12th-century chevron-ornament
have been built into the south wall of the south aisle.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel,
to Francis Parris, d. 1723, and Elizabeth (Sawyer)
his wife; on the floor a brass plate to Philip Hustwait,
d. 1788. In the north chapel, floor slabs to John
Hustwait, d. 1653; Thomas Hustwait, d. 169–, and
Elizabeth wife of Tho. H[ustwait] and Ann wife of
Thomas Ashton, d. 1723. In the tower, on the
floor a brass plate to Sillina wife of William Parris,
The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms 25 April
1571 to 15 January 1642/3, marriages 21 July 1560
to 10 January 1640/1, burials 20 November 1564 to
4 December 1642; (ii) baptisms, marriages and burials
3 April 1640 to 6 April 1684; (iii) the same 6 March
168¾ to 26 September 1777, marriages end 26 February 1754; (iv) baptisms and burials 24 August 1777
to 23 August 1812; (v) marriages 9 June 1755 to
18 November 1811.
The church plate consists of a silver cup of delicate
Renaissance form embossed with roses and foliage,
with a steeple-cover also embossed and having three
shaped brackets supporting a pyramidal spire. The
cup is inscribed 'Bithorne in HuntingtonShire Ann.
Dom. 1639. Tho: Becke: Rich: Browne: Churchwardens,' but hall-marked for 1614–1615; a plated
paten inscribed 'Bythorn. 9th August, 1902'; a plated
The church of Bythorn is mentioned in 1178. (fn. 11) The Richard and
Geoffrey de Br . . ., chaplains,
whose rights were safeguarded when Richard Foliot
was instituted to the church of Brington (q.v.) in
1225 (fn. 12) must have been vicars of Bythorn and Old
Weston. Both were chapelries of Brington, to the
rectory of which they are still annexed.
In Jan. 1345 Philip, son of Lawrence de Bythorn,
had licence to grant 3 acres to the 4 reeves of the
chapel of St. Lawrence for roofing it, renewing and
maintaining vestments, and finding a chaplain to
celebrate 24 masses yearly for his good estate, and for
the repose of his soul. (fn. 13)
The charity consisting of the Baptist Chapel and Trust Property, comprised in indentures dated 16 June
1809 and 22 Dec. 1846, is now regulated by a scheme
of the Charity Commissioners dated 23 Oct. 1923 and
administered and managed by the Baptist Union
Corporation Ltd. as the trustees of the charity.
The Bread Charity established under the will of
Henry Queenby, dated 1 March 1642, consists of three
rent-charges of 12s. 6d., 3s. 4d. and 3s. 4d. issuing out
of St. Katharines Farm, Ekins Farm and Smiths Farm.
These yearly sums are distributed in bread among
poor persons of the parish.