A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Tempsford a parish on the Huntingdon border has an area of 2,340 acres, of which 1,060 are arable land, 1,010 permanent grass, and 35 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The ground is uniformly level, the north-western boundary of the parish, which is here liable to floods, being formed by the River Ouse. The soil is sand and clay, subsoil clay, and the chief crops produced are wheat, barley, peas, and beans. The Great North Road runs through the village of Tempsford, which is situated in the centre of the parish at the junction of the road running westwards from Potton and Everton. A second road a little further to the north runs westward to the railway station on the Great Northern line, and on this road Mossbury manor, now a farm-house, lies on the left-hand side. The main road continues to the northern boundary of the parish through a district chiefly agricultural.
The village is composed of two principal groups of houses, the first, including the church and rectory, lying to the south of the grounds of Tempsford Hall, and the second, known as Langford End, to the north along the road to Tempsford railway station; neither settlement has any houses of architectural interest. Tempsford Hall, now occupied by Sir George Sutherland Mackenzie, K.C.M.G., C.B., was built in 1898 on the site of an older house destroyed by fire. The owner is Lieut.-Colonel Dugald Stewart. There is a public elementary school built in 1870.
The church stands to the west of the road, with the rectory close to it on the west. The latter, though in the main modern, preserves a wing of the older timber-built house, and a little fifteenth-century detail, including a wooden shaft and capital in the present larder; the roof, now hidden by a plaster ceiling, is said to have carved or moulded timbers. Near the rectory is the earthwork known as the Gannocks, about 200 yds. to the south-west, of exceptional interest as being almost certainly that, or part of that, made by the Danes in 921, and stormed by King Edward the Elder in the same year. (fn. 2) The whole parish, lying in the Ouse valley, is flat, the chief natural feature being the well-wooded grounds of the hall.
Palaeolithic implements have been found in Tempsford, at a spot where the Great Ouse is joined by the Ivel. (fn. 6) Tempsford also contains an example of ancient earthworks in Biggin Wood, a type of early inclosed homestead. (fn. 7) Among place-names which have been foundin Tempsford may be mentioned the following:—Pesefurlong, Potteresland, Swarmereslade, examples of thirteenth-century field-names, (fn. 8) Sernes and Slades Closes, (fn. 9) Lamcote End, which still exists as the name of a farm, (fn. 10) Strachyns, le Hellepytte, le Mores, (fn. 11) are all found in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. The Gannock is also found mentioned in a sixteenthcentury document. (fn. 12)
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle contains two separate references to Tempsford, one in 921, as already noted, (fn. 13) and another in 1010, when the Danes are described as penetrating as far as Tempsford, burning and pillaging as they went. (fn. 14)
At the time of the Domesday Survey Eudo Dapifer, son of Hubert, held TEMPSFORD MANOR, which had previously belonged to Ulmar of Eaton. Its extent at that time was 5 hides 2 virgates, of which 4 hides 1 virgate were held by an undertenant, William de Carun. (fn. 15) On Eudo's death in 1120 the overlordship of Tempsford manor, which formed part of the barony of Eaton, escheated to the crown, and was granted to the Beauchamps of Eaton. (fn. 16)
Ralph de Beauchamp exercised the right of overlordship in 1284, (fn. 17) and the last reference that has been found to the exercise of this right is in 1428, when Northill College and Robert Scot together held one fee of this barony. (fn. 18)
William de Carun held this manor of Eudo at Domesday, (fn. 19) and his direct descendants continued to hold in Tempsford till well on into the thirteenth century. Robert de Carun, probably a son, presented Tempsford Church to St. Neots in 1129, (fn. 20) and in 1130 paid 69s. into the exchequer for lands of his brother Ralph. (fn. 21)
In 1201 two knights' fees in the county were held by John de Carun, (fn. 22) who was followed by Walter de Carun, who was holding here in 1228, (fn. 23) and he in turn by Robert de Carun, who in 1284 rendered feudal service for one and a-half knight's fees in Tempsford. (fn. 24) He died before 1297, leaving two daughters as co-heirs, Agnes wife of Roger de Cantilupe, and Joanna wife of Miles de Drayton, (fn. 25) who each took a share of the manor, their holdings being afterwards known as Tempsford manor and Drayton's manor. Agnes de Cantilupe was holding Tempsford manor as late as 1346; (fn. 26) between that date and 1428 it had passed to the College of Northill in Bedfordshire, founded at the beginning of the reign of Henry IV, (fn. 27) and remained in its possession till the Dissolution, when the temporalities of the college in Tempsford consisted of 13s. 3½d. rent of free tenants, and 6s. 8d. by the bailiff of Tempsford. (fn. 28) In 1550 the manor was granted by Edward VI to William Fitzwilliam, (fn. 29) who three years later alienated it to Thomas Sheffield, (fn. 30) and he in 1565 transferred it to George Keynsham. (fn. 31)
He, at his death in 1593, left a grandson, George, as heir, (fn. 32) but his wife Elizabeth, subsequently married to Francis Gill, held Tempsford till her death in 1605, (fn. 33) when George Keynsham succeeded to the property. (fn. 34) He became insane in 1639, and the manor passed to his daughter Anne, then fourteen years of age. (fn. 35) She married Anthony St. John the same year, and died in 1700, (fn. 36) and from her the manor appears to have passed at some time to Henry Bendish, who held this property at his death in 1753. (fn. 37) He left two daughters as co-heirs, Mary Berners and Elizabeth Hagar, (fn. 38) who in 1772 sold the Tempsford property to Sir Gillias Payne. (fn. 39) His grandson, Sir Charles Payne, held Tempsford, Drayton and Brayes manors in 1814, (fn. 40) and in 1830 sold them to William Stuart, (fn. 41) whose grandson,Lieut.-Colonel Dugald Stuart, at present owns this property.
In the late thirteenth century DRAYTON'S MANOR was separated from Tempsford manor (q.v.). Miles de Drayton, who rendered feudal service for his manor in 1316, (fn. 42) was before 1346 succeeded by a son Geoffrey. (fn. 43) By 1428 this manor had become the possession of Robert Scott, (fn. 44) whose daughter and heiress, Elizabeth, transferred it to her daughter, Margaret Sheffield, as appears from an inquisition taken at her death in 1525. (fn. 45) Thomas Sheffield, in 1565–6, alienated Drayton's manor to George Keynsham, who had at the same time acquired Tempsford manor (q.v.), and the two manors thus reunited have not since been separated. (fn. 46)
The origin of a third manor in Tempsford, MOSSBURY alias SARNES, is to be found in the 1 hide 1¾ virgate of land which the bishop of Lincoln owned in Tempsford at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 47) There are evidences that the bishop continued to be overlord till 1428, (fn. 48) after which the right lapsed, and in 1480 it is stated to be held of the king in chief. (fn. 49) William de Carun held this property of the bishop in 1086, (fn. 50) and it remained with the de Caruns until 1228, when Walter de Carun alienated it to John de Loring, (fn. 51) who in 1231 transferred this land to Nicholas de Cernes, from whom the manor derives its distinctive name, (fn. 52) and in 1284 one of the same name was holding half a fee in Tempsford of the bishop of Lincoln. (fn. 53) In 1297 Nicholas conveyed property in Tempsford to the abbot of St. Mary's, Stratford, (fn. 54) who retained possession of it till 1332, when the abbot obtained a licence to grant to John Morice and his wife Agnes the land which he possessed in Tempsford, (fn. 55) and accordingly in 1346 John Morice is to be found holding the fee of the bishop. (fn. 56) Between this date and 1428 the manor passed to Thomas Fulthorp, though the method of transference has not been ascertained. (fn. 57) His grandson, John Dale, (fn. 58) died seised of this manor in 1480, (fn. 59) and his son, William Dale, left the property in 1537 to a daughter, Joan, married to William Woolascote, (fn. 60) and their son, William Woolascote, in 1596 alienated Mossbury or Sarnes manor to Laurence Saunderson, (fn. 61) whose grandson John held it in 1669. (fn. 62) His sister Anne, widow of Robert Hasleden in 1683 conveyed the manor to John Wilshire and other trustees. (fn. 63) Very little further has been found concerning this manor; in 1737 Barwell Colling owned it, (fn. 64) and in 1803 William Colling Cumming, with others, transferred it to Godfrey Thornton. (fn. 65) At the present day a farm of the same name exists in Tempsford.
In the two hides which Richard Pungiant held in Tempsford of the king (fn. 66) is to be found the origin of a fourth manor, BRAYES, in this parish. This manor was held in 1324 of the prior of Wallingford by service of 40s. yearly, (fn. 67) but no further mention has been found of any overlordship.
It has not been found possible to connect Richard Pungiant, the Domesday holder, and those who followed him, but the early history of Brayes manor is given in the evidence brought forward by Hugh de Bray to support his claim to a view of frankpledge within the manor in the fourteenth century. He says it was formerly in the possession of William de Bretville, who enfeoffed a certain John Blundell. (fn. 68) The Bretvilles certainly owned lands in Tempsford; at the beginning of the thirteenth century Geoffrey Bretville alienated land there to John Thurald, (fn. 69) and again in 1240 Walter de Carun recognized his right to 12 virgates of land in Tempsford. (fn. 70)
Between 1240 and 1268 what afterwards became Brayes manor passed to the Blundells, (fn. 71) whose tenure appears to have been very brief, for in the latter year Roger de la Leye acquired from Richard Blundell his messuage and a carucate of land in Tempsford. (fn. 72)
His grandnephew, Roger de la Leye, held this land at his death in 1324, (fn. 73) and according to the evidence of Hugh de Bray he left a daughter Ada, by marriage with whom Hugh acquired possession. (fn. 74) He appears to have been in money difficulties, for in 1331 he acknowledged that he owed £100 to a London merchant, and that distraint should be made, in default of payment, on his lands and chattels in Tempsford. (fn. 75) This may account for the alienation of the manor, whose history is difficult to follow at this point.
It would appear that like Drayton's manor (q.v.) it came into the possession of Robert Scot in the early fifteenth century, for his granddaughter, Margaret Sheffield, was in possession of it at her death in 1525. (fn. 76) In 1559 John Colbeck and Bridget his wife, who was possibly a Sheffield, transferred the manor to John Fuller, (fn. 77) who in his turn sold it to George Keynsham in 1565, (fn. 78) and it thus became joined to and followed the same descent as Tempsford and Drayton's manors (q.v.). (fn. 79)
The prior of St. Neots acquired considerable grants of land in Tempsford during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In 1129, when Robert de Carun presented Tempsford Church to the priory he also granted 1 virgate 3 acres; the gift was confirmed later by Walter de Carun, and other small grants made by the de Bretvilles. (fn. 80) The priory held this land of the barony of Eaton by service of one-fifth of a knight's fee, (fn. 81) and in 1287 claimed view of frankpledge in Tempsford, (fn. 82) apparently as appurtenant to his manor of Crendon (Buckinghamshire), for Tempsford is so described in 1535 when the prior's rents from customary tenants were worth £6 6s. 3d. (fn. 83) This view of frankpledge appears to have remained attached to Crendon till 1573, when Lord Buckhurst resigned it to George Keynsham. (fn. 84)
In 1086 Alwin, a bailiff, held 1 hide ¼ virgate of the land of the reeves and almsmen of the king, but no further trace of this holding has been found. (fn. 85)
When the Survey was made in 1086 Tempsford had four mills. Of these two were the possession of Eudo, son of Hubert, and were worth 10s. and 12s. respectively. (fn. 86) The latter was held by William de Carun, and in 1218 Amice de Carun recovered possession of it after temporary alienation during the civil war. (fn. 87) These mills appear to have remained appurtenant to Tempsford manor, and are given as part of its extent in 1814. (fn. 88) The other two mills, which were worth 40s. and 120 eels, were held by William de Carun of the bishop of Lincoln, (fn. 89) and remained attached to the manor of Mossbury or Sarnes (q.v.) till the sixteenth century. Thomas de Cernes made a temporary grant of the mills to Thomas Esperun in the thirteenth century, (fn. 90) and in 1289 Nicholas de Cernes alienated them to the abbot of St. Mary, Stratford, (fn. 91) who in 1297 made good his claim against Roger de Cantilupe and Miles de Drayton. (fn. 92) In 1537 William Dale, lord of Mossbury manor, settled a water-mill on his daughter Anne, wife of Alexander Fettiplace, (fn. 93) and in 1613 Sir Edmund Fettiplace died seised of 'two watermills under one roof in Tempsford,' held of the king as of his manor of Biggleswade, by fealty and suit of court. (fn. 94)
The right of free fishery in the Ouse was also attached to Mossbury manor. It was owned by Nicholas de Cernes, (fn. 95) and is mentioned as appurtenant to this manor in 1596. (fn. 96) John Morice also received a charter of free warren in this manor in 1342. (fn. 97) In 1593 a free fishery is mentioned as belonging to Tempsford manor. (fn. 98)
TINGEYS HOUSE, which gives its name to a farm at the present day, probably dates from 1535, when Henry Tingey was bailiff of the manor in Tempsford which Northill College held. (fn. 99) By 1565 this capital messuage had been transferred by William Tingey to John Fuller, (fn. 100) who in that year transferred it to George Keynsham, (fn. 101) whose wife held it at her death in 1605, together with the manor of Tempsford, in which it appears to be henceforth merged. (fn. 102)
The church of ST. PETER has a chancel 26 ft. 6 in. by 14 ft. 6 in., and a nave 49 ft. by 22 ft. 8 in. with north and south aisles and porches, the total internal width being 45 ft. 2 in. The western tower measures 9 ft. 8 in. by 8 ft. within the walls. There is apparently no work of an earlier date than the middle of the fourteenth century, to which period the main structure belongs, nor is there any definite evidence of the earlier church from which the present building has developed. Considerable repairs were made in 1621, especially in the south-west part of the church and the tower, and the whole building was 'thoroughly restored' in 1874. Records of the former repairs are preserved on two stone tablets, one in the west wall of the tower, on the inside, and the other at the southwest angle of the clearstory, outside. The former gives the names of the 'overseers of the new work and patentyes of his Majesty's letters patent granted for the same, May xii, 1621,' while the latter records the gift of 2s. 6d. to the work. On the south clearstory is the date 1621.
The chancel has no features earlier than the fifteenth century, though its walls may be older. The east window of four lights is of late fifteenth-century style, and the south-east window, of three lights, is probably of the same date. The north-east bay is blank, having been masked by a north-east vestry, the entrance door to which, and the arched head of a recess in its south wall, like that at Sutton church, are still to be seen on the outside. In the western bay of the chancel are three-light north and south windows of poor style, which are probably fifteenth-century work remodelled in the seventeenth century. At the south-east are the remains of sedilia and a piscina of which the basin and drain are old, but the trefoiled head is apparently a re-used piece of fourteenth-century window tracery, since it is worked on both sides and has a glass-groove. The nave with its aisles and the west tower are all of fourteenth-century work, but have been much repaired, the two western arches of the south arcade and the south jamb of the tower arch, together with the whole of the clearstory, having been rebuilt in the seventeenth century. The chancel arch is fourteenth-century work, but has been much restored and the jambs cemented over.
The nave arcades are of four bays, with octagonal pillars, moulded capitals and bases, and arches of two chamfered orders. They are worked in Totternhoe stone, the seventeenth-century repairs being in an oolite of good quality, with details designed to harmonize with the older work, and very good of their kind, the capitals showing a very interesting attempt at Gothic feeling. The masons' marks on this work are worth noting. The aisles have lost most of their original details, but their east windows are exceptionally good specimens of mid-fourteenth-century tracery, each of two lights, while at the west end of the north aisle is a lozenge-shaped window with tracery, which though now in modern stone, is a copy of a fourteenthcentury original, and notable for its unusual shape. The remaining windows in the aisles are of late Gothic type, and their stonework has been almost entirely renewed.
At the north-east end of the nave the upper and lower entrances to the rood-loft stairs remain, and at the south-east is a blocked squint. In the east wall of the north aisle is a fourteenth-century image bracket, and on either side of the east window of the south aisle are contemporary canopied niches for the same purpose. The tower, the oldest parts of which seem to be contemporary with the nave, has an eastern arch with half-octagonal responds of which the northern respond is original, and the southern belongs to the repairs of 1621. The west window in the ground stage is modern, and there are traces of the former existence of a west doorway below it.
The font, which stands under the tower, is of plain fourteenth-century work, and the wooden fittings of the church are nearly all modern. The exceptions are the base of a fifteenth-century screen at the west of the chancel, and an octagonal pulpit with traceried panels, a pretty specimen of fifteenth-century work in good preservation. At the wall plate of the nave roof is a line of egg and tongue ornament, evidently a relic of the roof of 1621.
At the east end of the north aisle is an iron-bound wooden chest 6 ft. 8 in. long. At the south-east of the north aisle is part of a fifteenth-century painting of the martyrdom of St. Katherine; the figure of the saint, almost obliterated, stands between two large toothed wheels, and in the foreground lie the dead bodies of the philosophers converted by her arguments, and martyred for their newly-adopted faith. (fn. 103)
There are five bells, the treble and third by Miles Graye of Colchester, 1656, the second by Chandler of Drayton Parslow, 1703, the fourth by Newcombe of Bedford, 1614, and the tenor of 1829, by Mears.
The plate consists of a communion cup and cover paten of 1660, the former inscribed 'O Lamb of God be with us,' and the latter 'Lord, evermore give us this bread,' and on the cup a crucifix is engraved. There is also a modern plated flagon and an almsdish.
There are several gaps in the registers. The first book contains all entries 1604–31, the second the same 1653–65, and the third runs from 1691 to 1698. The fourth carries on the entries to 1736, and the fifth contains baptisms and burials 1743–1812, and marriages 1745–53. The sixth book contains banns and marriages 1754–1812.
The first mention that has been found of the church of Tempsford is the grant of it in 1129 to the priory and convent of St. Neots by Robert de Carun on the occasion of his grandson, Anselm, taking monastic vows there. (fn. 104) In 1291 Tempsford church was worth £8, (fn. 105) and in 1389 the right of presentation was in the king's hands on account of the war with France, when St. Neots, as an alien priory, became sequestrated. (fn. 106) At the Dissolution the living, which is a rectory, worth at that time £28 17s. 2d., (fn. 107) fell to the crown, which has made occasional grants; thus in 1680 Henry Coventry received the next right of presentation to Tempsford, (fn. 108) and in 1686 James Halsal was presenting. (fn. 109) Except for such grants the advowson has remained with the crown. (fn. 110)
Tempsford chantry was founded within the parish church of Tempsford by Sir John Milton and Thomas Bowles to put in a priest to pray for their souls. (fn. 111) The lands with which it was endowed lay in Tempsford, Everton and Sandy, and were worth at the Dissolution £5 6s. 8d. at which time the chantry was said to have fallen into decay. (fn. 112) In 1550 this chantry with the lands and tenements attached was leased to Richard Hacklete for twenty-one years at a rent of £6 11s. 2½d., (fn. 113) and in 1606 it was sold by James I to Richard Cartwright for £175. (fn. 114)
This parish is possessed of 4 acres of grass land known as the Poor's Land, allotted on the inclosure in the parish in lieu of other lands in the open fields belonging to the poor. It is let at £7 a year which is applied in the distribution of 4-lb. loaves of bread to about eighty families.
Unknown Donors' Charities. An annual payment of £1 is made to the rector for preaching a sermon, and 5s. a year is distributed in bread. These charges are upon a close of land in the parish of Cardington and are regularly paid.
In 1847 Luke Addington by his will left £300 to be invested and income applied in the distribution of money for the benefit of sick and needy persons in the parish. The legacy is represented by £327 8s. 5d. consols with the official trustees.