A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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Eyworth is a small parish of 1,253½ acres on the Cambridgeshire border. Its south-eastern boundary is formed by the River Rhee. The highest land is in the west of the parish, about 170 ft. above sea level, and there is a general downward slope towards the east. Of the acreage of the parish 819½ is arable land, 358 permanent grass, and 11 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is principally clay, the subsoil clay; the crops are wheat, barley, peas, and beans. The village is situated in the west central part of the parish on the road from Dunton to Wrestlingworth. After entering the parish from the Dunton side this road begins to descend towards the village, to the south of which a branch road on the east leads down to Thistlygrounds Farm, situated in the south of the parish. At the south end of the village a short distance to the east of the road lies the Church Farm, and close to it on the north is the church of All Saints. The Manor Farm is on the west of the road, which, still descending somewhat, passes on to Wrestlingworth. The houses are for the most part on the west of the road, facing a wide uninclosed green, at the south end of which, and just to the north of the church, is a rectangular inclosure of early seventeenth-century brickwork, with small entrance doorways on the east and west, marking the site of what was evidently a building of some importance. The nearest station is Potton, 3½ miles distant, on a branch of the London and North Western Railway. Biggleswade station on the Great Northern Railway is 4 miles off.
The following thirteenth-century field names have been found:—Blakechistel, Longelenecroft, Swynewellehul, Cattesbrayn, Donewynd, Dosshesway, Cross of Warin. (fn. 2)
At the time of the Survey William Spec held EYWORTH MANOR, then extended at 9 hides, of the king in chief, (fn. 3) and it continued to be thus held until 1343, (fn. 4), when Edward le Despenser is described as holding it of the abbot of Warden. (fn. 5) In 1428 the manor was held of the same overlordship, (fn. 6) in 1451 the jurors were unable to discover of whom it was held, (fn. 7) and finally by the attainder of Richard Carleton for treason in 1486 it returned definitely to the crown. (fn. 8)
Walter son of William Spec died without issue in 1153, and left three sisters as co-heirs, of whom Hadwisa, wife of William de Bussy, (fn. 9) acquired Eyworth. Previous to 1225 her son William died, when two daughters, Cecilia and Maud, became his heirs. (fn. 10) Ida, daughter of Cecilia, married Robert de Vipont, and Joan, daughter of Maud, married Thomas de Gravenel, (fn. 11) and the de Viponts and the Gravenels continued to hold in Eyworth until in 1258 John son of Thomas de Gravenel finally transferred his share of the manor to Robert de Vipont, grandson of the above Robert. (fn. 12)
On his death in 1265 the manor was divided between his two daughters, Ida wife of Roger Leyburne, and Isabel wife of Roger de Clifford. (fn. 13) The consequent division of the manor into two parts leads to some complication in its history; what appears to have happened is as follows: Roger Leyburne died in 1283, (fn. 14) and Ida married John de Cromwell, (fn. 15) and on her death in 1334 the manor passed under a settlement made during her lifetime (fn. 16) to Hugh le Despenser and his son Edward successively, (fn. 17) who in 1343 died seised of the manor held jointly with his wife Anne, who was the daughter of Henry Ferrers, lord de Groby. (fn. 18) She held the manor in 1346, her son Edward being still under age. (fn. 19) In 1428 Anne Despenser is described as holding by feudal service in Eyworth 'quod quondam eadem Anna tenuit,' (fn. 20) but by 1486 these lands had become reunited to the other part of Eyworth manor, for the Despenser lands were included in a grant of the manor in 1486 to John Fortescue. (fn. 21)
With regard to Isabel de Clifford's share, her husband at his death in 1283 was described as holding the manor of Eyworth in right of his wife and left a son Robert, (fn. 22) who was slain at Bannockburn in 1314, and whose son Roger de Clifford was executed for high treason after Boroughbridge in 1322. This may account for the alienation of this manor, which next appears in the family of Francis.
Adam Francis was holding in Eyworth as early as 1371, (fn. 23), and his son Adam at his death in 1417 was seised of the manor. (fn. 24) He left two daughters, of whom Elizabeth, wife of Sir Thomas Charleton, succeeded to Eyworth manor, and was followed at her death in 1451 by her son Thomas. (fn. 25) He died in 1463, (fn. 26) and his son Richard, a supporter of Richard III, was attainted of treason in the reign of Henry VII. His estates fell to the crown, and in 1486 were granted by Henry VII to John Fortescue, 'in recompense for services done to him.' (fn. 27) His son John succeeded him in 1510, and held the manor till his own death in 1518, when he left a son Henry, then two and a half years old. (fn. 28) The grant of the manor was reconfirmed to Henry Fortescue by letters patent in 1543, because, as stated in the preamble of the confirmation, owing to some informality the grant was found valid only for the life of the late Sir John Fortescue. (fn. 29)
Henry Fortescue on his death in 1576 left a son Francis, (fn. 30) whose son John (fn. 31) in 1594 alienated the manor to Sir Edmund Anderson, who shortly after acquired the second manor in Eyworth with the advowson of the church, both formerly the property of St. Helen's Priory, London, and after this date both manors became merged into one. Sir Edmund Anderson, when he died in 1605, left Eyworth to his widow Magdalen for life, (fn. 32) and Francis their son, who died in 1616, settled the manor on Edmund with remainder to Stephen, both sons by his first wife Judith daughter of Sir Stephen Soame. (fn. 33) Edmund Anderson died in 1638, (fn. 34) and Stephen, whose son Stephen was created a baronet during his father's lifetime in 1664, held the manor after him as heir male. (fn. 35) Sir Stephen Anderson died in 1707, (fn. 36) and was followed by a son Stephen, whose son Stephen died without issue in 1773, and the baronetcy became extinct, (fn. 37) when the Eyworth estates reverted to Charles Anderson Pelham, heir male of Francis Anderson, younger brother of the first baronet, (fn. 38) who was created Lord Yarborough in 1796, and who in 1804 conveyed the manor by fine to Lord Ongley, (fn. 39) whose son Lord Ongley was holding the property in 1854. (fn. 40) Ten years later it had passed to Arthur Peel, (fn. 41) whose descendant, Viscount Peel, is at the present day lord of the manor.
A second EYWORTH MANOR is an offshoot of the larger manor, and orginated in a charter of Maud daughter of William de Bussy granting to the priory of St. Helen, London, all her lands and rents in Eyworth, save only the marriage portion of her daughter Joan, wife of Thomas Gravenel. (fn. 42) The priory continued to add to its possessions, obtaining further grants of land by purchase from John de Gravenel between 1254. and 1259. (fn. 43) This manor was held of the crown by knight service, (fn. 44) and it continued in the possession of the priory until the Dissolution, when it reverted to the crown. (fn. 45) Elizabeth granted it in 1565 to Robert, earl of Leicester, to hold of the manor of East Greenwich. (fn. 46) He sold it almost immediately to Sir Robert Catlin, at whose death in 1577 it passed to Mary his daughter, wife of John Spencer. (fn. 47) Her husband alienated the manor by fine to Richard Mays in 1575, (fn. 48) between which date and 1595 it passed to John Spurlyng and his wife Anne, who in the latter year conveyed it to the trustees of Sir Edmund Anderson, at that time lord of the larger Eyworth manor (q.v.), with which it became thus once more amalgamated. (fn. 49)
Another tenant in Eyworth at the time of Domesday was Azelina, widow of Ralph Taillebois, of whom Brodo held 1 hide of land. (fn. 50) After the Survey this holding, which never became a manor, appears to have been held of the manor of Cockayne Hatley (q.v.), which Azelina likewise held in 1086, (fn. 51) and early came into the hands of the lords of Eyworth manor.
The earliest holder of this property of whom mention has been found subsequent to Brodo the Domesday tenant is William de Pyrley, who in 1298 received a grant of a messuage and land from Robert Austin, (fn. 52) and in 1305 a messuage, 110 acres of land, and 12s. rent from John de Juvene. (fn. 53)
Edward le Despenser who owned Eyworth manor in 1343 held the messuage and 100 acres of land which had formerly belonged to William de Pyrley, (fn. 54) and between this date and 1465 this property, distinguished by the name Pyrleys and by the different lordship of which it was held, followed the same descent as Eyworth, and finally became absorbed in that manor. (fn. 55)
A mill existed in Eyworth at the time of the Survey of 1086; it was attached to the manor of Eyworth and was worth 8s. (fn. 56) Roger de Clifford held half of this windmill in 1282 in right of his wife Isabel by service of 3d. yearly to John son of Thomas de Juvene, (fn. 57) and in 1283 Roger de Leyburne held the other half of the mill in right of his wife Ida in the same manner. (fn. 58)
There are no details older than the first quarter of the fourteenth century; the south aisle and arcade belong entirely to this date, but the walls of the nave may be earlier than this, though there is nothing to prove it. The chancel seems to have been completely rebuilt, but on the old plan, in the fifteenth century, and the tower is also an addition of this time. The rood-loft stair is of much the same date as the chancel, and the clearstory of the nave belongs to the end of this century or the early years of the next. The plan is simple and regular, with the exception that the tower, for some reason which is difficult to see, is not set centrally with the nave, but some feet to the north, its north wall projecting beyond the line of that of the nave. (fn. 59) The chancel is plastered externally, and has a modern east window of three lights, and square-headed two-light fifteenthcentury windows towards the west on north and south. At the south-east is a segmental headed window of three lights, blocked by the monument of Sir Edmund Anderson, and in the north wall a door with square-headed label and shields in the spandrels, also of the fifteenth century.
The chancel arch, of early fourteenthcentury design, has been a good deal repaired; it has an arch of two moulded orders, with shafts and capitals to the inner order. To the north of it, in the east wall of the nave, is a cinquefoiled fifteenth-century recess, with a square label and trefoiled spandrels, for the image over the north altar in the nave. This altar was lighted by a large threelight window of fourteenth-century date, which has lost its original tracery, and is filled with work of about 100 years later. The shafted jambs and head are of very good detail. East of this window is a small trefoiled recess for a piscina.
The south arcade is of three bays, with octagonal piers and moulded capitals and bases, and arches of two chamfered orders, all much scraped and cleaned, the capitals having suffered particularly in this respect. At the south-east angle of the aisle is the entrance to the fifteenth-century rood stair, and the fourteenthcentury east window of the aisle, of three trefoiled lights with quatrefoils over them, has been pushed southwards to make room for it. In the south wall are two fourteenth-century windows, each of two trefoiled lights, that to the east having a square head, and the other a two-centred arch with a quatrefoil over the lights. The west window of the aisle is a quatrefoil set in a square frame. The north and south doorways of the nave are of plain fourteenth-century detail, and the latter is covered by a modern porch. The tower opens to the nave with an arch of two chamfered orders, having an engaged shaft to the inner order. The west window is of two lights, and at the south-west angle is a stair contrived in the thickness of the wall. The belfry windows are also of two lights, and the tower is finished by a short stone spire with four double spire-lights at the base, and a second tier of single lights near the apex.
The church has embattled parapets throughout, and low-pitched roofs, that over the chancel being in part of the fifteenth century. There is a seventeenthcentury altar table and eighteenth-century rails, but all other wooden fittings are modern. The font has a plain octagonal bowl, much scraped, but apparently of fifteenth-century date.
A certain amount of old glass is preserved here. In the north window of the nave are parts of several figures, and a shield bearing a cheveron or between three indistinct charges; in the east window of the south aisle is a lion counterchanged or and sable, and a few other pieces are set in the west window of the tower and the south-west window of the aisle.
The Anderson monuments in the chancel are excellent examples of their time, that at the north-east being to Sir Francis Anderson, 1616, while opposite to it is that of Sir Edmund Anderson, 1605, and at the south-west is a third to Edmund son of Sir Edmund Anderson, 1638. Sir Francis Anderson's tomb is in poor condition, having lost its canopy and the pillars which supported it; his alabaster effigy, without hands or feet, kneels between those of his two wives, Judith daughter of Sir R. Soane, and Awdry daughter of Sir J. Bottler. Below are kneeling figures of his four sons.
The tomb of Sir Edmund Anderson, Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, is an altar tomb under a canopy carried by Corinthian columns, and surmounted by a circular panel of heraldry. The alabaster effigies of Sir Edmund and his wife Magdalen (Smith) lie on the tomb, on the front of which are kneeling figures of their three sons and four daughters. Edmund Anderson's monument is mural, having the busts of himself and his wife under semicircular arches, with an inscription and heraldry over, and below the bust of their daughter, with another inscription, flanked by allegorical figures resting on the slope of a broken pediment. The top of the tomb has a similar arrangement. In the chancel floor is a brass with figures of Sir Richard Gadbury, 1624, and his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Francis Anderson; between them is their daughter, who died in 1618, and is commemorated by an inscription on the wall near by. There are also slabs to Dame Mary, wife of Sir Stephen Anderson, 1667, Alice, Viscountess Verulam and baroness of St. Albans, 1656, Mrs. Catherine Anderson, 1705, and other members of the family.
There are two bells, the treble, a fifteenth-century bell by a London founder, John Walgrave, bearing 'Sancta Margareta ora pro nobis,' and the other by Miles Graye of Colchester, 1632. Here, as in a few other cases, this founder latinizes his Christian name as Milonem instead of Milo.
The plate consists of a communion cup and flat cover paten of 1625, the cup having a six-lobed foot of unusual type. On both is engraved in dots a boar ermine, with a crescent on the body, which is the crest of Bacon of Redgrave. There is also a second flat paten of 1623, with the same device, but having a coronet over it, and a large flagon of 1638, presented by Dame Dorothy Constable in 1639.
Walter Spec, son of William, and lord of Eyworth manor, gave his nephew Nicholas de Trailly the advowson of all his churches south of the Humber. In a quarrel which arose between the abbot of Warden and the heirs of Walter Spec in 1225, the jurors decided that the advowson had reverted to the heirs of William de Bussy as Walter Spec's heir. (fn. 60)
Maud de Bussy, sister of William, granted a charter to the prioress of St. Helen's, London, by which the latter claimed the advowson of the church. (fn. 61) At first the claim of the priory to half only was acknowledged by the Gravenels, then lords of Eyworth manor, but eventually in 1253 St. Helen's Priory acquired the sole right. (fn. 62) The value of the church in 1291 was £4 13s. 4d. (fn. 63) and in 1329 the priory received a licence of appropriation. (fn. 64) Since the Dissolution both rectory and advowson of the church have followed the same history as the lesser manor in Eyworth, and with it have become merged in Eyworth manor, to which they are still attached. (fn. 65)
Tempsford chantry owned in Eyworth 3 acres of land, valued at 20d., for a light. (fn. 66)
It appears from a brass inscription in the church that Sir Richard Gadbury, who died on 16 October, 1624, gave with certain feoffees in trust for the perpetual benefit of the poor 6 a. of land in the fields of Wrestlingworth, and 8 a. in the fields of Dunton. On the inclosure of the open fields in the parish of Dunton and in the parish of Wrestlingworth (1801), 6a. 3 r. 34 p., situate in White House Way Fields, Dunton, and 3 a. 0 r. 35 p. in Mildridre Fields, Wrestlingworth, were awarded in lieu of the aforesaid lands. By an order of the Charity Commissioners, dated 11 May, 1866, trustees were appointed, and the income directed to be applied in coals, or other articles in kind, and in pecuniary aid in special cases for the benefit of the most deserving and necessitous inhabitants of the parish. The lands produce about £20 a year, onethird being distributed in coals, and two-thirds in money.