A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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Langeford (xi cent.).
The parish of Langford, covering an area of 2,070 acres, lies south of Biggleswade. It is watered by the River Ivel, which forms its southern and western boundary. The surface is almost level, what slope there is being from west to east of the parish. The soil is chiefly gravel, and the subsoil gravel. Of the acreage 1,589 acres are arable land, and 246¾ are permanent grass. (fn. 1) The south of the parish is given over to agriculture, and here are situated the Vine, Langford Hill, and Park farms. There are also brickworks close to the Great Northern Railway. The long straggling village lies in the north-west of the parish, on both sides of a road which runs northwards to Biggleswade. On the west flows the River Ivel, at first some distance off, but gradually approaching the road until opposite the Methodist chapel, river and road almost meet. The road then takes a turn to the east, and the distance between the two increases considerably. More than half-way up the street a short branch road on the west leads down to the river, on which is situated a corn mill, and on the north of this road is the church of St. Andrew, standing back from the main street. On the east side of the street at this point are the church and manor farms, separated by the infant school. Higher up the road, near the parish boundary, is the vicarage, inclosed in its own grounds, and beyond are the Ivel meads. Denny cottages on the same side mark the parish boundary. The Great Northern Railway main line runs due north through the parish, the nearest station being at Biggleswade, 2 miles distant. Prehistoric implements and also ancient British coins of copper and brass have been found here. (fn. 2)
Among place-names may be mentioned the following:—Scroop's meadow (recalling the fourteenthcentury holder of Holme cum Langford manor), Marriners, Ballance, Stanners Close, Slingsby, in the seventeenth century, Hesmore End and Hamonds in the eighteenth. (fn. 3)
There are at the present day three manors in Langford, of which two—the manors of Holme with Langford and Langford Rectory—may be termed offshoots of the principal manor of LANGFORD. At the date of the Domesday Survey this manor, assessed at ten hides and originally held by Lewin, a thegn of Edward the Confessor, was in the possession of Walter Fleming, founder of the Wahull family. (fn. 4) This family continued to hold the manor in chief in an almost direct line of succession till the later half of the sixteenth century. Simon, grandson of Walter the Fleming, was succeeded by a son Walter, (fn. 5) who died without issue, and whose nephew Saer, son of his brother Simon, was lord of Wahull at his death in 1250. (fn. 6) Walter, son of Saer, succeeded his father, (fn. 7) and the succession of father and son was maintained unbroken from this time till the death of Nicholas de Wahull in 1367. (fn. 8)
He left two infant daughters, Elizabeth and Eleanor, to succeed him, who both died before 1377, and the manor therefore reverted to Nicholas de Wahull their great uncle. (fn. 9) Again for more than a century and a half the manor continued in the direct male line, (fn. 10) till the death of Anthony Wahull, in 1541, (fn. 11) when it passed to his daughter Agnes, seventeen days old at the time of his death. (fn. 12) She married twice, first Richard Chetewood, and secondly Sir George Calverly, and on her death in 1576 her son Richard Chetewood succeeded her. (fn. 13) He married Anne daughter of Sir Valentine Knightley, (fn. 14) and by his alienation of the manor to Charles Nodes in 1628, it finally passed from the family in whose hands it had remained since the Conquest. (fn. 15) The Nodes were still holding the manor in 1704, in which year George Nodes transferred it to John Draper, (fn. 16) who in 1716 conveyed it to Thomas Browne, (fn. 17) and from that date until the beginning of the nineteenth century its descent is the same as that of Etonbury manor in the parish of Arlesey (q.v.). (fn. 18)
The present lord of the manor is Mr. Gurney.
The manor of HOLME WITH LANGFORD was an appurtenance of Langford manor, and was originally held of the Wahulls by service of a twelfth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 19) The first holder of whom mention has been found is Peter de Richmond who, early in the fourteenth century, alienated by fine land held of the Wahulls in Langford to Henry le Scrope. (fn. 20) The latter already held other property in Langford of the same overlord, together with land in Holme held of the de Moubrays and Latimers. (fn. 21) Margaret, Henry le Scrope's widow, married Hugh Mortimer, and in 1358 Langford is mentioned as part of her dower. (fn. 22) In 1398 Richard le Scrope, son of the above Henry, granted all his lands in Holme and Langford to Richard II, who immediately transferred them to the abbey and convent of Westminster, (fn. 23) who continued to hold the manor until the dissolution of the monasteries, when it was transferred to the Dean and Chapter of St. Peter, Westminster. The manorial courts were held in their name, but their usual practice was to lease the manor for long periods. Thus in 1571 it was let on a ninety-nine years' lease to Paul Luke, whose interest in 1642 was transferred for £15,000 to Lady Camden, (fn. 24) and she in her turn sold the residue of the lease to Sir Erasmus de la Fontaine. (fn. 25)
Confiscated under the Commonwealth legislation abolishing deaneries and chapters, the manor of Holme with Langford was leased by the Commissioners to John and James Noel, (fn. 26) but returned to the Dean and Chapter at the Restoration, and before 1677 Sir Erasmus de la Fontaine had resumed his interrupted lease, and at that date he obtained a renewal till 1698. (fn. 27) This manor is still in the possession of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster.
The origin of the manor of LANGFORD RECTORY was a grant made by Simon de Wahull, son of Walter the Fleming and Sybil his wife, of the church of Langford, together with land, a mill and all rights of sac and soc, toll and theam, to the prior of the Knights Hospitallers, (fn. 28) which grant was confirmed by King Stephen and others. (fn. 29) In 1276 the prior claimed view of frankpledge twice yearly in this manor, (fn. 30) and in an extent of the property of the Hospitallers taken in 1338, the value of the church of Langford, with rents and services, was estimated at 20 marks yearly. (fn. 31)
At the time of the Dissolution Langford Rectory manor, then valued at £6, (fn. 32) became the property of the crown, and for a short time appears to have been granted to the master of the college of Fotheringhay, which, though surrendered to the crown in 1539, was allowed to retain its property till the second year of Edward VI. (fn. 33) Elizabeth granted the manor to John Winch in 1574, (fn. 34) and in 1616 Humphrey Winch obtained a renewal of the grant. (fn. 35) In 1618 he alienated this manor to Daniel Newman, (fn. 36) whose family still retained it in 1790. (fn. 37) Lysons, writing early in the nineteenth century, says that by the marriage of Anne daughter of Daniel Newman of Canterbury, (fn. 38) to Sir John Fagg, the latter had acquired Langford Rectory manor. (fn. 39) It was the property of the late Lord Brampton who died in 1907.
At the time of the Domesday Survey Walter the Fleming possessed two mills in Langford worth 26s. 8d. (fn. 40) In 1368 these two mills were in ruins, and worth nothing for want of repair (fn. 41); they are mentioned as part of the extent of the manor in 1628. (fn. 42)
A third mill, expressly described as new, was granted by Simon de Wahull as part of the endowment of Langford Rectory, (fn. 43) and a corn-mill still stands by the banks of the Ivel, near the church. Langford manor also possessed the right of free fishery in the waters of the Ivel. (fn. 44)
The church of ST. ANDREW consists of a chancel 33 ft. by 17 ft. with north vestry and organ chamber, nave 19 ft. by 57 ft. 6 in., with north and south aisles 10 ft. wide, and a tower over the south porch 11 ft. by 10 ft., all measurements being internal.
The nave, aisles, and tower all belong to a rebuilding begun about 1320, while the chancel, which leans considerably to the south in plan, and has very thick walls, is evidently of earlier date, though remodelled in the fifteenth century, and having no doorways or windows of an older time than this. The order of rebuilding in the nave seems to have been first the south aisle, then the north aisle and the chancel arch, and lastly the tower.
It was also intended at this time to rebuild the chancel, making it wider than at present, as is shown by the width of the chancel arch, for which the west end of the south wall of the chancel has been cut away. As already noted, this was not carried out, but new windows and doorways were inserted in the fifteenth century, and the east wall was probably rebuilt. The windows and doorway of the chancel have been restored in modern times, and buttresses added at the eastern angles, while a new vestry has been built on the north side, and the space between the north aisle and the vestry closed in quite recently to form an organ chamber. The old walling is mainly of cobbles, with some freestone rubble, and angle dressings of cream-coloured and ferruginous sandstone.
The east window of the chancel is of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery over, with a two-centred segmental head; the two south windows are of the same character but of two lights, the tracery in all three being modern. The south doorway is all old but the outer order and label; it has a four-centred arch with traceried spandrels in a square head. The north window is partly blocked by the vestry, but its traceried head is glazed and is similar to those opposite. West of it is a modern doorway to the vestry and an arch to the organ chamber. The piscina in the south wall has been either recut or renewed. It has a continuous hollow chamfer and a two-centred arch, with a label rounded above and chamfered and hollowed below.
The chancel arch has semi-octagonal jambs with moulded bell capitals and bases, and the arch is of two chamfered orders with a label.
The nave arcades are of four bays with octagonal columns and moulded bases and bell capitals of a slightly earlier character than those of the chancel arch. The arches are of two chamfered orders with simple labels, the stops to the labels taking the form of heads, both human and otherwise. Corbels for the rood-loft or beam remain in the eastern angles of the nave, and south of the chancel arch is an image bracket. There is a second bracket on the southwest face of the first column of the north arcade, and a third, quite plain, on the north-west face of the corresponding column on the south. In the south-west face of this column is a shallow niche 15 in. high by 7 in. wide, and there are traces of cutting away for screens in the eastern bays on both sides. In the south face of the second column of the north arcade is a rectangular sinking 3 in. deep by 13 in. high and 8 in. wide.
The west window of the nave is a fine specimen with trefoiled ogee heads to the main lights and net tracery. The east windows of both aisles are original, each of three cinquefoiled lights with beautiful geometric tracery; that in the north aisle looks into the organ chamber and has had the glazing removed, the space being filled with the organ pipes. In the south wall the first window from the east is like that in the east wall; the second has three trefoiled lights with ogee heads and net tracery; the other aisle windows are of plainer description and of two lights, the two eastern windows in the north wall of the north aisle having leaf tracery in the heads, while the rest have a simpler form of tracery with a flowing quatrefoil.
The north and south doorways of the nave have continuous mouldings of two orders, the south, as being the principal entrance, being a little more carefully treated.
The outer doorway of the south porch has two continuous outer orders, chamfered, and a moulded inner order with shafts and capitals, the whole a good deal patched. The porch and tower are in a bad state of repair, the east and west windows of the porch, each of two lights, being much decayed, while in the upper part of the tower, which is of two stages only, the belfry windows are very dilapidated, without luffers or other protection from the weather. That on the east is of two lights; the others are single lights, all of fourteenth-century style, and the parapet is plain and has lost most of its copingstones. The woodwork of the roofs is modern, but across the chancel arch is a good fifteenth-century screen, the tracery in the head of which has been much repaired. In the nave are some fifteenth or sixteenthcentury oak benches with panelled and buttressed ends, while the chancel seats and pulpit are modern and good of their kind.
On the chancel arch is a painted cheveron pattern in red, old work retouched, and in the north window of the chancel are a few fifteenth-century quarries with various devices; elsewhere in the church a little old glass is to be seen.
The font appears to be of the fourteenth century, but has been cleaned in modern times; it has a square bowl on an octagonal central shaft and four round angle shafts with moulded capitals and bases, and is set on a modern plinth.
There is a small brass in the chancel to Thomas Hundon, vicar, who died in 1528.
There are three bells; the first cast by C. and G. Mears in 1855, the second by Edward Arnold of St. Neots, 1780, and the third by Joseph Eayre, 1772.
The plate is modern, and includes a silver chalice, paten and flagon.
The registers are complete from 1717.
The advowson of Langford church went with the Rectory manor until its sequestration in the reign of Henry VIII, (fn. 45) when it was separated from the Rectory (fn. 46) and retained by the crown, with whom the right of presentation now remains. (fn. 47)
Langford has a Wesleyan chapel.
The parish officers formerly held £40, known as the Poor's Money, arising partly from small benefactions and partly from accumulations and contributions. £20 thereof was expended at the time of the parish inclosure, and £20 in 1869 among the poor.
In 1777 John Ward by a codicil to his will, proved in the P.C.C., bequeathed £200 stock to the minister and churchwardens, dividends to be applied for the benefit of the poor not receiving parish relief. The legacy is now represented by £222 4s. 5d. consols with the official trustees. The annual dividends amounting to £5 12s. are distributed in coals.
The parish is possessed of about 3 a. of land known as the Town Land, producing a rental of about £6 a year, which is distributed in bread and clothing, and the official trustees hold a sum of £19 14s. 2d. consols transferred to them under the title of Wallett's Charity, presumably in extinguishment of a rentcharge of 6s. 8d. on land sold in 1885 by the authority of the vestry; the dividends thereon are similarly applied.