A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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CAMPTON CUM SHEFFORD and CHICKSANDS
Camelton or Campton (xi cent. to xx cent.), Cambleton (xiv cent.), Shyfforth (xvi cent.).
The parish of Campton cum Shefford contains the village of Campton and the market town of Shefford, the outlying parts of which merge into the parishes of Meppershall, Clifton, and Southill. The parish is triangular in shape, the apex being at the north-east, and containing the town of Shefford; two tributaries of the River Ivel form the northern and eastern boundaries respectively, that in the east separating the parish from Meppershall and passing close by the village of Campton. The northern branch of the river runs through the grounds of Chicksands Priory, where it widens out into a small lake, passing through two plantations known as the Upper and Lower Alders. The general fall of the ground is from west to east, the highest point being above the 200 ft. line near Highlands Farm on the west boundary, and the lowest about one hundred and thirty feet in the town of Shefford, which is built round the junction of the Ampthill road with that from Bedford to Hitchin.
The former becomes the High Street, and runs in an easterly direction, passing under the Bedford and Hitchin branch of the Midland Railway, and is of an ample width, having on the south side the parish church and a large Roman Catholic orphanage, St. Francis's Home, established in 1869. Attached to it is a church of St. Francis, built in 1884. The Bedford road running south and south-east becomes North Bridge Street, taking its name from the bridge over the stream at the north end of the town, and continues beyond its junction with the High Street to the South Bridge over the second stream. The buildings of the town are in no way remarkable, but there are a number of good red-brick fronts, and some interesting sixteenth-century timber work in North Bridge Street. The railway station is to the north of the High Street, with the old school close by, and the houses run westward from this point as far as the junction with the road to Campton village. Further to the west, opposite the entrance gates of Chicksands Priory, a second road runs due south to Campton, joining the first in the middle of the village, the church standing on the north side, with the Grange opposite to it. From this point roads run south-west to Upper Gravenhurst, and south to Meppershall, the latter crossing the stream, on which, at the south end of the village, is Campton Mill.
To the north-west of the church is the rectory, an old house with an eighteenth-century red-brick front. Opposite to it, and standing back from the road is Campton House, now after a period of neglect being put into a state of repair. It is an interesting gabled timber and plaster house of c. 1590, of two stories, with a central hall and wings at either end. The porch and bay of the hall have developed into small two-story projections with gabled roofs, and the entrance door is now in the middle of the hall, apparently an eighteenth-century insertion. The hall stands north and south, and at its lower or south end the screens remain, a beautiful piece of contemporary woodwork with open strap-work cresting. In the west wall is a large four-centred stone fireplace with panelling over it, though this latter is for the most part old work brought from a farm-house in the neighbourhood. The stairs go up from the north-west of the hall, and are of eighteenth-century date, but the west room on the ground floor in the north wing has some very good original panelling with a vine trail frieze and a fine chimney-piece, and stone arched fireplace. The panelling on the north side of the room is of plainer type and partly of deal. A glazed shotriddled panel on the east side commemorates the escape in 1645 of Sir Charles Ventris, then owner of the house, according to an inscription painted below the panel. He was '(in the night time) by Oliver's party, shot at, as he was walking in this room, but happily missed him.' The front of the house is rough-cast in panels with vandyked borders, apparently eighteenth-century work, but the back has been refaced with brick. In Fisher's view of the front (Collections for Beds. pl. xix), the date an° 1591 is shown on the rainwater heads.
According to the Ordnance Survey Campton has an area of 969 acres, while 144½ acres comprise the township of Shefford. The Agricultural Returns for 1905 show that rather more than half the parish consists of arable land and rather less of grass land and woods respectively. The soil is strong clay, but the subsoil is lower greensand and gault; the chief crops are wheat, barley, beans, peas, and garden produce of all kinds, for which Shefford is noted. The population of Campton in 1901 was 437 and that of Shefford 874.
Chicksands Priory possessed in Clifton a meadow called Midsummer Mead, which was given in 1544 to Thomas Harding, (fn. 1) and in 1553 to John earl of Bedford; (fn. 2) the priory also possessed other lands in Clifton; some in Blanchmore Furlong, which were granted to Thomas Harding in 1544, (fn. 3) and were the property of the queen in 1649, who also owned Blomeale Mead. (fn. 4) Some lands in Burneham Mead were granted to John Gostwick in 1530, (fn. 5) and other lands in the same meadow, which used to belong to Chicksands Priory, were given in 1553 to John earl of Bedford; (fn. 6) in 1618 George Franklin died seised of lands in Burneham Mead. (fn. 7) Richard earl of Kent possessed lands in Southwater Mead, which were granted in 1590 to Richard Wood, (fn. 8) and were in the possession of Henrietta Maria in 1649. (fn. 9) Chicksands Priory also owned a close, called Nones Stocking, which was granted in 1553 to John Green and Ralph Hall. (fn. 10)
Two saucer brooches have been found at Shefford of West Saxon workmanship, in an ancient cemetery, but vases and other remains show that the cemetery was in use in the Romano-British period. (fn. 11)
Robert Bloomfield, the shoemaker poet, author of 'The Farmer's Boy,' lived for a few years at Shefford, and died there on 19 August, 1823, in poverty stricken circumstances, leaving a widow and four children. He was buried at Campton.
At the time of the Domesday Survey the overlordship of CAMPTON belonged to Walter Giffard, (fn. 12) and, as in the case of Millo (fn. 13) (q.v.), passed to Walter Marshal earl of Pembroke, and in the thirteenth century was granted to Henry son of Gerold, hitherto his undertenant, who continued to hold it of the crown in chief. (fn. 14)
Ralph de Langetot held the manor as undertenant at Domesday, but there is no evidence of its existence between 1086 and 1228, at which latter date it was in the possession of Henry son of Gerold, who gave it to Warine son of Gerold. (fn. 15) The manor then passed to the latter's descendant Warine de Lisle (Insula) of Rougemont, (fn. 16) who died seised of it in 1296. (fn. 17) As his son Robert was then only six years old, Edward I in 1301 granted the custody of two parts of the manor, then extended at £12 13s. 6d., to Robert de Ispannia, yeoman of Edward Prince of Wales. (fn. 18) The other third was held by Alice widow of Warine, as part of her dower, and the whole manor was held for a knight's fee. (fn. 19) Robert came of age and was holding the manor in 1316, (fn. 20) but alienated it in 1334 to his son John and his wife Maud, without licence from the king, for which omission John and Maud had to obtain pardon. (fn. 21) Robert died in 1342–3, having become a monk shortly before his death. (fn. 22) John, who was one of the first founders of the order of the Garter, was summoned to Parliament from 1350 to 1354, and died in 1356, the manor then descending to his son Robert, (fn. 23) who sat in Parliament in 1357 and 1360. Robert died in 1399, having in 1368 given eighty-six knights' fees to the king. (fn. 24) It is not known whether he left a son, although the visitation of Somersetshire for 1623 states that Sir William de Lisle was the son of this Robert.
This Sir William, who was holding the manor of Campton in 1392, (fn. 25) was more probably the brother of Robert, who apparently alienated the manor to him before his death, (fn. 26) and he seems to have died without issue, when the manor escheated to the crown, and was probably granted to Reginald de Grey, who was holding in 1428, (fn. 27) and it descended to his great-grandson George earl of Kent, who was lord of the manor in 1492. (fn. 28) In 1499 the latter settled the manor on his son Richard Lord Grey and his wife Elizabeth, (fn. 29) who were holding in 1504. (fn. 30) Between that date and 1508 the manor was alienated to Giles Lord Daubeny, who died seised of it in the latter year, (fn. 31) and his son and heir Henry probably conveyed the manor to Sir William Compton, who died seised of it in 1528, (fn. 32) when it passed to the king as the result of a settlement made previously by Sir William Compton in order to ensure the observance of his will. (fn. 33)
Two years later it was leased to John Gostwick, auditor of the king, and Edward Copley, for twentyone years at an annual rent of £4. (fn. 34)
In 1543 Campton was again in the king's hands, (fn. 35) and was annexed to the honor of Ampthill. Thomas Viscount Fenton, steward of the manor, surrendered his office in 1613, (fn. 36) and Edward Lord Bruce was appointed in his stead. (fn. 37) The office continued in the family of the earls of Elgin and Aylesbury, Robert Bruce holding in 1673; (fn. 38) it was sold by them to the duke of Bedford in 1738, (fn. 39) and the lease of the stewardship was renewed in 1771 and 1773, (fn. 40) the then duke of Bedford still holding in 1839. The manorial rights were afterwards resumed by the crown, (fn. 41) who holds them at the present day.
There was another manor in CAMPTON belonging to the priory of Chicksands which probably originated in two hides all but a quarter of a virgate of land, held by Trustin of the king at Domesday. (fn. 42)
This land apparently came to the Beauchamps, and, c. 1150, Payn de Beauchamp and Rose his wife confirmed to the priory 3 virgates of land which had been bestowed on it by Adela wife of Walter de Mareis. (fn. 43) This grant was also afterwards confirmed by William son of Simon de Beauchamp. (fn. 44) By 1346 the land was held of the king in chief as a knight's fee. (fn. 45) The overlordship remained vested in the crown until after the Dissolution, the last mention occurring in 1560. (fn. 46)
The priory's possessions in Campton increased considerably in value, for in 1291 its manor was worth £18 14s. 7d., (fn. 47) and during the fourteenth century the estate was augmented by various donations. (fn. 48) In 1445 the priory received in rents from the bailiff of Campton £6 13s. 4d. at Easter and £13 6s. 8d. at Michaelmas, (fn. 49) and in 1535 the value of the property in Shefford was £12 10s. 6d., and of that in Campton £8 6s. 8d. (fn. 50)
After the Dissolution the value of the possessions in Campton and Shefford was £15 16s. 2d. (fn. 51) The manor was taken into the king's hand at the Dissolution and was granted, together with the manor house, to Sir Thomas Palmer by Edward VI in 1548. (fn. 52) Sir Thomas Palmer was convicted of treason and executed in 1553, (fn. 53) his possessions being forfeited to the crown, and Elizabeth in 1560 granted the site of the manor to Joan the widow of John Ventris and her heirs. (fn. 54) The manor remained in the possession of the Ventris family for over two hundred years. Sir Francis Ventris Joan's grandson, who succeeded her, died seised of the manor in 1627, having made a settlement on his second son Charles, on the occasion of the latter's marriage with Mary daughter of Sir Lewis Pemberton of Rushden. (fn. 55) Francis the eldest son held the manor for the term of his life, and on his death in 1631, Charles entered into possession. (fn. 56) Charles fought for the king in the Civil Wars, and was knighted by him in 1645. Charles died before 1651, when his estates were sequestered. (fn. 57)
The manor afterwards passed to his son John, who died in 1706. His son Charles died in 1719, leaving a son John who died a few months later. Francis brother of John inherited the manor, but on his dying without issue in 1743 it passed to his sister Henrietta, who had married John Field of Cranfield. (fn. 58) From John and Henrietta descended Sir Charles Ventris Field, (fn. 59) who sold the manor between 1778 and 1803 to Sir George Osborn, bart. (fn. 60) The latter, or his descendants, sold their rights to Mr. John Lewis ffitche, who was lord of the manor in 1877. Mr. ffitche dying in 1902, these rights are now vested in his trustees.
The earls of Norfolk had an estate in Campton held by the services of half a knight's fee in 1307, when Roger le Bygod died seised of it. (fn. 61) In 1433 it was held from the priory of Chicksands, (fn. 62) and in 1461 was held by Eleanor duchess of Norfolk, as her dower, after the death of John duke of Norfolk, by the services of a quarter of a knight's fee, (fn. 63) but after this date no further trace of the property can be found.
The hamlet of SHEFFORD possessed a market from a very early date; the first mention of it occurred in 1225 (fn. 64) when the king, hearing that the market at Shefford was harming that at Bedford, commanded the sheriff to make inquiries and to suppress it if he found the allegations to be true; evidently the rumour was unfounded, for Henry son of Gerold in 1229 was granted a market on Friday at his manor of Campton 'in the place called Shefford.' (fn. 65) It was on the strength of this charter that Warine de Lisle claimed a market in the reign of Edward I; (fn. 66) at the same time he justified his claim to free warren by a charter granted to Warine son of Gerold by Henry III, in 1253, and stated that a view of frankpledge belonged to the manor. The market continued attached to the manor, and in 1312 Robert de Lisle was granted a yearly fair to be held at the Feast of St. Michael for seven days. (fn. 67) Later on in the reign of Edward III, Robert was called upon to prove his title to the market, fair, free warren and view of frankpledge. (fn. 68) In 1614 the tolls were granted to Laurence Sampson, (fn. 69) and Henrietta Maria, in 1625, bestowed the tolls and profits of the weekly market and yearly fair on James Sampson of Henlow, probably a relative of Laurence, for twentyone years at an annual rent of £12. (fn. 70) It was stated in 1649 that the tolls were worth £16. (fn. 71) In 1636 Humphrey Sampson, son of James, brought an action against Thomas Stephens, Oliver Thody and others, who persisted in destroying the stalls which he had erected. (fn. 72) The tolls of the market and fairs were granted to Timothy Wilson and Elizabeth his wife, who held them in 1681, (fn. 73) and in 1713 the market and three annual fairs were granted to Robert Bruce, earl of Elgin. (fn. 74) The market in the eighteenth century became comparatively unimportant, (fn. 75) but in the beginning of the nineteenth century it was revived, and is still held on Friday. (fn. 76)
The royal manor of Campton-cum-Shefford had a court-leet and court-baron; the court-leet was granted to Laurence Sampson in 1614. (fn. 77) In a Parliamentary Survey of 1649 it is stated that the court-baron was usually kept at Shefford at the will of the lord and that the court-leet was held at the usual times. The freeholders had to pay as a relief, upon descent and alienation, a year's quit-rent and only three heriots were due from one tenant, who held by lease. They were due on the death of the persons mentioned in the lease, and consisted of the best beast or chattel upon the land. (fn. 78)
In 1839 the court-leet was held annually, but in 1851 it was stated to be held once in two years.
There was a mill in Campton at the time of the Domesday Survey on the land belonging to Walter Giffard, worth 3s. 3d. (fn. 79) It continued to belong to the manor, and Warine de Lisle in 1296 died seised of a water-mill, (fn. 80) but the mill probably fell into disuse as there is no later mention of it.
The church of ALL SAINTS, CAMPTON, has a chancel 25 ft. by 16 ft. 7 in., with a north chapel and south organ chamber, nave 50 ft. by 18 ft. 4 in., with north aisle 12 ft. wide, south aisle 10 ft. 2 in. wide, and south porch, and south-west tower occupying the western bay of the south aisle.
Its development from the thirteenth century is clear, but no evidence of earlier work remains. The south arcade is of late thirteenth-century date, and the nave at this time was of its present dimensions, but had no north aisle. About 1320 the chancel was enlarged on the south side, its new south wall continuing the line of the south arcade of the nave, but the old north wall was retained, thus throwing the chancel out of centre with the nave. At the same time the south aisle was remodelled, though most of the work of this date has since been renewed. The tower dates from the fifteenth century, the last bay of the south arcade having been destroyed at its building, an examination of the present west respond of the arcade showing that it is part of a complete pier now half absorbed in the north-east pier of the tower.
The north aisle and chapel (the Osborn chapel) date from 1649, and of late years (1898) the church has been extensively repaired, the tower being rebuilt with the old material and the north aisle provided with an entirely new set of windows. In the rest of the church the old tracery has been replaced by modern copies, except in the case of the east window of the Osborn chapel. The organ chamber dates from this repair. The chancel has an east window of four lights of modern tracery, and has on either side a cinquefoiled fourteenth-century recess for an image. The south window, likewise of fourteenthcentury style, is of two trefoiled lights with a segmental head. At the south-east angle is a fourteenthcentury piscina. The north wall has been almost entirely removed, but at its west end is the jamb of a transomed window of which the rest has been cut away, the opening being now filled by an oak screen with two tiers of balusters, the upper carrying semicircular arches, springing from Ionic capitals and having moulded bases which rest on square dies ornamented with sunk carving. The whole is a very attractive piece of mid-seventeenth-century design. The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders dying out at the springing, and over it is a small arched opening looking into the roof of the chancel.
In the Osborn chapel, now used as a vestry, are several large monuments of the Osborn family. It is lighted by a large east window of four uncusped lights with rounded heads and a transom at half height; below the southern light is a square-headed doorway.
The north arcade of the nave is of four bays of curious spiritless Gothic, but interesting from its date (1649). The pillars are octagonal with moulded capitals and bases, low-pitched four-centred arches and plain responds with no shafts or capitals. No features contemporary with this arcade are retained in the aisle walls, modern Gothic windows having been substituted for the wood-framed seventeenthcentury lights.
The south arcade, now of three bays but formerly of four, has pillars of quatrefoiled plan with a plain respond at the east, the alternate pillars having rolls in the angles. The moulded capitals follow the plan of the piers, and the arches are of two moulded orders.
The windows of the south aisle have flowing tracery copied from their early fourteenth-century predecessors, the east window being of three lights, and the others of two. At the east end of the aisle is a fourteenth-century piscina and on the sill of the east window a collection of carved details of thirteenth and fourteenth-century date, some of which, together with other like details in the walls of the north aisle, may have come from Chicksands Priory.
The west tower is of three stages and externally entirely modern. It opens to the south aisle by an arch of two chamfered orders, with half-round responds and moulded capitals, and on the north it opens to the nave by a plain chamfered arch, whose centre is to the north of the axis of the tower.
The south porch is entirely modern, replacing one of half timber, and has a holy-water stone to the east of the doorway ornamented with roughly-executed carvings which suggest rather the knife of the casual loiterer than any intentional scheme of decoration.
The roofs are modern throughout and covered with red tiles, but the chancel screen is a pretty piece of fifteenth-century work with moulded posts and rails and pierced tracery in the heads of the upper lights and of the solid lower panels. The pulpit is square and apparently made up of woodwork of much the same age as the screen, which probably formed part of the parclose round one of the nave altars. The names of some of the early eighteenth-century bell-ringers are scratched on the stones of the tower, the dates ranging between 1702 and 1707. The font near the north door is of white marble and entirely modern.
At the south-east angle of the nave the brass of Richard Carlyll, 1489, and Joan his wife, is fixed on a stone slab let into the wall.
There are four bells, the treble by Richard Chandler, 1700, the second and third by William Culverden of London, c. 1520, inscribed 'Sancte Paule ora pro nobis,' and 'Sancte Andree ora pro nobis,' and the tenor, by Hugh Watts of Leicester, inscribed 'Praise the Lord, 1603.'
The plate given by Sir John Osborn in 1793 comprises a chalice, paten, a bread-holder and flagon, all of Sheffield plate.
The first book of the registers begins in 1568 and the second in 1659.
The church of ST. MICHAEL, SHEFFORD, consists of a nave 53 ft. long by 18½ ft. wide, a south aisle 63 ft. by 21 ft. divided from the nave by a line of iron pillars, and a west tower 17 ft. wide by 7 ft. 2 in. deep.
With the exception of the west tower the church has been entirely rebuilt in modern times.
The east windows of nave and aisle are of three lights in thirteenth-century style; the north wall of the nave has four similar windows of two lights and the south wall of the aisle five similar windows and a three-light west window. The tower is of three stages, with a plastered brick parapet, of no great age, and belfry windows of two cinquefoiled lights with a quatrefoil over, which date, with the rest of the tower, from the first half of the fifteenth century. The west window is of three lights with modern tracery, but its jambs are old and the rear arch has engaged shafts with moulded semi-octagonal capitals and bases. The east arch of the tower is four-centred, of two moulded orders, its section showing a hollow between a double ogee, and an ogee and a hollow chamfer springing from semi-octagonal moulded capitals. The jambs, after a fashion not uncommon in the district, have small shafts between two chamfers which terminate below the capitals without any corresponding member in the arch. The bases are hidden by woodwork or cut away.
There is a modern north door to the tower, and a newel stair in the south-west angle. The material is small coursed rubble, and the whole tower has been plastered externally.
The roofs of the church are modern and slated, the line of a previous roof being visible on the tower wall just above the present one.
There is one bell dated 1808.
The plate consists of a modern cup, paten and flagon.
The registers previous to 1812 are included in those of Campton, the church having been until recently a chapel of ease to that living.
The church of Campton was given to Beaulieu Priory in Bedfordshire, a cell to the abbey of St. Albans. (fn. 81) Neither the date of the gift nor the name of the benefactor is on record, but it is probable that Robert D'Albini, who founded the priory in 1150, and endowed it with 20 acres of land in his demesne of Campton, also bestowed upon it the advowson. (fn. 82) Beaulieu Priory was certainly presenting to the church before 1220, (fn. 83) and in 1245 Richard, a deacon of Campton, was presented by the prior. (fn. 84) The value of the church in 1291 (fn. 85) was £4 6s. 8d., and the pension of the prior amounted to £2, but by 1341 the value had diminished to £3 13s. 4d., (fn. 86) and this reduction was accounted for by the fact that 40 acres of arable land and 30 acres of meadow in the gift of the church, included in the assessment of 1291, were exempt in this later one.
Beaulieu Priory was annexed to the abbey of St. Albans in 1428, (fn. 87) and the right of presentation was then transferred to the abbey, together with the pension of £2. The church remained in the gift of the abbey until the Dissolution, when it was taken into the hands of the king; it was worth £11 9s. 6d. in 1535, (fn. 88) and was granted with the rectory to Thomas Lord Seymour in 1547. (fn. 89) After his execution in 1548–9, Richard Snowe received a grant of it, and died seised of the advowson in 1553, (fn. 90) when it passed to his son Daniel, who was patron in 1566. (fn. 91) The latter probably alienated it to Daniel Goldsmith, who had the right of presentation in 1605, (fn. 92) and was rector in 1644, (fn. 93) while George Noble was patron for that turn. In 1685, Sir John Osborn, bart., owned the advowson, (fn. 94) and since that date it has remained in his family, being vested at the present day in Sir Algernon Kerr Butler Osborn, bart. (fn. 95)
The church at Shefford was a chapel of ease to Campton. In 1567 it was granted to Hugh Councell, Robert Pisen, and their heirs, (fn. 96) but from 1685 the presentation belonged to the Osborn family. In 1903, however, Shefford was created an ecclesiastical parish, and the vicarage is in the gift of the archdeacon of Bedford and the rectors of Campton and Clifton. (fn. 97)
There is a Roman Catholic Chapel in Shefford, erected in 1884 at the cost of Mrs. Lyne-Stephens of Thetford, attached to an orphanage called St. Francis's Home, and a seminary of St. Thomas Aquinas. There are also a Union chapel built in 1825, a Wesleyan chapel built in 1835, and Salvation Army barracks.
Poor's Land.—The parish is in possession of a small piece of land in Clifton Fields, conveyed in 1730 by John Kelyng unto Sir Daniel Osborn and others on trust to apply the rents and profits towards the relief of poor and indigent persons in satisfaction of a bequest of 2s. a year to the poor left by the will of his father Antelminelly Kelyng. The land is let at £3 a year, which under the title of the Gunpowder Charity, is applied on 5 November with the other charities for the benefit of the poor.
The Poor's Stock consists of £103 5s. consols (with the official trustees), representing the benefactions of Dr. Thomas Osborn and Daniel Goldsmith, the trusts of which were by a deed dated 23 June, 1812, declared to be for distribution of the income among the poor inhabitants.
Thomas Kentish's Charity, Will, 1712.—The sum of 10s. a year, formerly paid out of an estate known as the Bury Farm in this parish (see St. Albans), is now represented by £20 consols with the official trustees. In 1904 the rent of £3 was distributed in shares of 5s. each to twelve poor widows, and the dividends on the stock, amounting to £31 1s. 4d., were applied in gifts of money among seventeen aged people.
Township of Shefford: The Feoffment Estate—or the Charity of Robert Lucas.—This estate was vested in and under the direction of feoffees chosen from the freeholders and principal inhabitants of Shefford, and was originally settled by Robert Lucas, gent., in the second year of Queen Elizabeth in trust 'for the yearly repairing, maintaining, and keeping the bridges, causeways, and highways within the town of Shefford in good and sufficient repair; the overplus to be employed and given to the poor people dwelling and inhabiting within the town of Shefford.'
The property has been considerably improved by exchanges and alterations, and now consists of 12 acres in Meppershall, 2 a. 2 r. 11 p. in Shefford, 3 a. 3 r. 35 p. in Clifton, dwelling-houses and cottages at Shefford, two public-houses, and 9 a. 1 r. 12 p. grass land and cottage at Arlesey. The official trustees hold a sum of £317 16s. 3d. India three per cents. arising from sale of a house in North Bridge Street. The income from all sources averages about £210 a year. The administration of the trust is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, dated 28 June 1904, under the provisions of which—after reserving an annual sum of £15 for the general benefit of the poor of the town of Shefford, and £5 a year for an exhibition for higher education to be awarded to children resident in the said town of Shefford qualified as therein mentioned—the net income is applicable in the repairs of bridges and highways in the ancient parish of Shefford, and in parts of other contiguous parishes within a radius of a mile from the parish church; also in the supply of water and light and other works of public utility.
In 1855 William Rushton Gresham by will left £1,000 to be invested and income applied for benefit of poor widows. The legacy was invested in £1,052 15s. 3d. consols (with the official trustees), and the dividends amounting to £25 16s. 4d. are administered under the provisions of a scheme of the High Court of Chancery of 15 February, 1859, as varied by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 20 November, 1906.
In 1888 James Mead by will left £50 to be invested and income applied for the benefit of widows and orphans of the chapel members of Union chapel. The legacy is represented by £48 3s. 7d. India three per cents. with the official trustees, and the dividends of £1 8s. 8d. are duly applied.
CHICKSANDS.—Chichesane (?), Cudessane (xi cent.); Chikesond (xiii cent.); Chickessaund (xiv. cent.). Chicksands, formerly extra-parochial, is now a parish of about 1,439 acres, which is ecclesiastically annexed to the parish of Campton cum Shefford. The soil is sand and the subsoil gravel, and there are two old sand-pits and an old gravel-pit in the parish, besides two disused clay-pits. The chief crops are wheat, barley, and turnips. The ground rises in the middle of the parish, the highest point being 281 ft. on the western boundary; Chicksands Priory is on the low ground close to the stream near the Campton parish boundary, and there is a second stream in the north of the parish, joining the first near Shefford. There are 695 acres of arable land, and 458½ of permanent grass. (fn. 98) The boundary line between the two parishes runs through the grounds of Chicksands Priory, following the general direction of the stream to the south of the buildings. On this stream, south-east of the house, used formerly to stand a mill at a point where there is now an artificial cascade. The population in 1901 consisted of sixty-two, and is composed mainly of employees on the estate of Sir Algernon Kerr Butler Osborn, bart.
At the time of the Great Survey (1086) there were two manors in CHICKSANDS, one of which was held by three sokemen of Azelina wife of Ralph Taillebois, who claimed it as part of her dower. (fn. 99) Probably as in the case of Henlow Warden (q.v.) Hugh de Beauchamp who held 2 hides in Chicksands, (fn. 100) made a counterclaim, for the overlordship passed to the Beauchamps and the two estates coalesced to form one manor. This manor is probably the one comprised in the grant of land to the priory of Chicksands by Payn de Beauchamp and Rose his wife towards the end of the twelfth century, (fn. 101) a grant which was confirmed by Simon Beauchamp and again by William his son. (fn. 102)
In 1285 the priory was granted free warren in its demesne land of Chicksands. (fn. 103) In the reign of Edward III the prior also claimed view of frankpledge over his tenants in Chicksands. This manor, together with that of Campton, was assessed in 1291 at £18 14s. 7d., (fn. 104) and in 1317 the second manor, later referred to, was given to the priory by John Blundel. (fn. 105) After this date the manors appear to have coalesced, and their descent becomes identical. In 1346 and 1428 the prior held half a knight's fee. (fn. 106) At the Dissolution in 1539 the manor was taken into the king's hand, and in 1540 the house and site and the demesne lands, worth altogether £38 3s. 4d., were leased to Thomas Wyndham for twenty-one years. (fn. 107) In the same year William Ardren and Richard Cooke were granted free warren and certain closes within the manor, which they had rented from the priory since 1538. (fn. 108) Towards the end of the same year, Henry VIII granted to Richard Snowe and Elizabeth his wife the manor of Chicksands, and also the reversions of the leases held by Wyndham, Ardren, and Cooke for the sum of £810 11s. 8d. (fn. 109) In all documents dealing with this property, the site of the dissolved priory and the manor of Chicksands are mentioned separately, although their history has been identical. Richard Snowe died in 1553, (fn. 110) and was succeeded by his son Daniel, who apparently conveyed the manor to Peter Osborn, for in 1578, Edward Snowe, his brother and heir, brought a suit against Osborn, claiming the estate as next of kin, and demanding the production of the will which Daniel left in the keeping of the defendant before he went to Jerusalem. (fn. 111) The manor was conveyed by fine in 1587 to Peter Osborn and John his son by Edward Snowe and Emma his wife; (fn. 112) and in 1592, on the death of Peter, it passed to his son John, (fn. 113) who was knighted in 1618, and who died in 1628. (fn. 114) The manor was then inherited by Sir Peter Osborn, the son of Sir John. (fn. 115) The estate suffered during the Civil Wars, for Sir Peter and his second son Henry assisted the king against Parliament, and were obliged to compound for delinquency, the amount of the fine being £2,266 5s. 4d. (fn. 116) Henry in 1657 petitioned the Protector against the levying of the decimation tax on his estate at Chicksands, and was exempted on the ground that he had been obedient and peaceful. (fn. 117) Sir Peter Osborn died in 1653, and was succeeded by his son John, who was created a baronet in 1662. On the latter's death in 1699, the manor passed to his son John, who held it till 1720. His son John having died in 1719, it passed to his grandson, Danvers, who died in 1753, and left the manor to George, his son and heir. A recovery was suffered in 1794 for the purpose of barring all estates male and remainders, (fn. 118) and the manor has continued in the possession of the Osborns up to the present day, the present lord of the manor being Sir Algernon Kerr Butler Osborn, bart., a great-great-grandson of Sir George Osborn mentioned above. (fn. 119)
The buildings of Chicksands Priory stand on gently sloping ground, a tributary of the Ivel flowing in an easterly direction through the park, a little to the south of the monastic site. To the north the ground rises in open grass land, with woods on the higher point, and from this direction the water supply of the priory must have been drawn. The park is of considerable extent, and is well timbered, the low ground by the stream being a favourite haunt of wildfowl at all times of the year, and in the season woodcock are fairly plentiful in a wood through which the stream runs.
Houses of the Gilbertine order, to which the priory of Chicksands belonged, are few in number, and their remains very scanty. Chicksands is therefore of exceptional interest, as it preserves in a most unusual state of completeness all four sides of one of the cloisters of such a house. Of the church only part of the south wall remains, and the second cloister, which probably stood to the north of the church, is entirely destroyed. Externally the building is of little interest, both Ware, in 1750, and James Wyatt at the end of the century, having done their best to reduce it to a characterless regularity, and having destroyed nearly every ancient feature. A comparison of Buck's drawing of 1730 with the present appearance throws much light on the methods employed; the projecting end of the west range was cut away, the gables destroyed, and mechanical copies of two types of the mediaeval windows were monotonously reproduced at regular intervals in both stories. The old roof, fortunately, was not much tampered with, and its scale and pitch give a dignity to the building which the eighteenth-century detail cannot entirely destroy.
The front entrance is now in the middle of the eastern range, and opens to a hall which takes up the whole of the ground floor, the main staircase being opposite to the entrance. To the right are the kitchens and offices, in a comparatively modern wing, built on the site of the church, and to the left is a passage to the dining-room and library beyond, both in the southern wing. The ground floor of the western wing is partly a chapel, partly a lumber-room, and is the best preserved part of the monastic buildings. All the early work appears to be nearly contemporary, c. 1230, and the general disposition of the building was as follows:—The north side of the quadrangle was formed by the church, with the north walk of the cloister set against its south wall. On the other three sides the ground story was divided into two spans by a row of pillars or a solid wall, the latter arrangement obtaining on the south and east, where the inner divisions formed the cloister walks; these were lighted by wide fourlight windows with tracery under low four-centred heads, three on each side, being insertions of fifteenthcentury date. There is nothing to show what the previous arrangement was. The eastern range was widened by Wyatt at the expense of the cloister; the new work, which contains the principal staircase, projecting 18 ft. 6 in., from the old line; and at the same time the central walls in the south and east ranges were taken down. The staircase window, which is a copy of the cloister windows, is filled with broken fragments of old glass, collected at a time when little was thought of such matters, from churches in the neighbourhood, while other pieces came from Notley Abbey. On the west the fourth walk of the clo ster was either open to the sky, or covered with a wooden pentice set against the east side of the western range. The only part of the ground story of the quadrangle which now retains much trace of its original arrangement is the western range, which is vaulted for its whole length in two spans, with octagonal central shafts and half-octagonal corbels in the walls. The vault is of seven bays, the northern of which formed the outer parlour, or passage from the cloister to the courtyard west of the buildings; of the remaining bays, two are now a lumber-room, two the chapel, and two at the south end a library. This end of the range formerly projected southward beyond the line of the southern range, but the projection was cut away by the eighteenth-century architects, and the last bay of the vault is incomplete. The east wall of the range ran through to the southern end, but it has been pulled down at this part, and a third span of vaulting added, in imitation of the older work. The first-floor rooms are fine and lofty, but with the exception of that at the south-west angle of the block, where a fifteenth-century oriel window remains in the east wall, filled with pieces of old stained glass, (fn. 120) they have no ancient features. With the roofs, however, it is a different matter. In both east and south ranges there is clear evidence that the middle part of the upper floor was occupied by a fine room with an open timber roof, while the rooms on either side had flat ceilings, and were evidently of less importance. In the southern range this was doubtless the frater, while in the eastern the principal room would naturally be the dorter. The western range would contain the quarters of the lay brothers or sisters, and perhaps the guest-hall over. The ground stories of the east and south ranges, being divided longitudinally by walls, could not have contained rooms of importance, and the chapter-house doubtless projected to the east of the former. Its site is now covered by a carriage drive, and it is worthy of note that part of the Purbeck marble effigy of a woman, with a shield at her feet, of thirteenth-century style, was found in this position a few years since. It may even be part of the tomb of the foundress, Rohesia de Beauchamp, though of course of later date than that of her death. A drain has been discovered leading towards the stream from the south-west angle of the buildings, and the rere dorter must have stood in this position. The kitchen must have stood near the south-west angle, but the eighteenth-century builders have destroyed any traces which may have remained. The south wall of the church still exists to some height, but the only feature of interest is the south-west doorway of the nave, of good thirteenth-century work, like the rest of the building, with pairs of shafts in the jambs, and an arch of two moulded orders.
It seems clear that no work which can be contemporary with the foundation of the priory is now left standing, unless part of the south wall of the church may be of that date, and nothing definite can be said of the rest of the monastic buildings. Gilbertine houses, being for a community of men and women, required a double set of buildings, and the only Gilbertine site which has as yet been adequately explored, that of Watton Priory, Yorkshire, has yielded a very good example of this arrangement. (fn. 121) Watton, according to the statutes of the order, was the largest house in the country, its full complement being 70 canons and 140 nuns, while Chicksands came third with 55 canons and 120 nuns. The principal cloister at Watton, the nuns' cloister, was 113 ft. by 98 ft., and attached to the north side of the church; while the canons, whose buildings were at some distance from the church to the north-east, had a cloister about 100 ft. square. At Chicksands the only remaining cloister is about 76 ft. square, and it is impossible to say to which division of the house it belonged. If the ratio of size to numbers at Watton may be used as a basis, it should have been that of the canons, but in the absence of more definite knowledge, it is advisable to leave the question open. Tradition speaks of another cloister on the north side of the church, and burials have been discovered during the making of a garden north-east of the site of the church.
The church and one cloister were probably destroyed soon after the Suppression, and the remaining cloister converted into a dwelling-house. Its arrangements at a somewhat later date (seventeenth century), are fortunately preserved as far as the ground floor is concerned, in an outline plan in the possession of the present owner of Chicksands and here reproduced to the same scale as that showing the present arrangement.
The eastern range, retaining its central wall, was occupied as cellars, with the main entrance to the cloister, 'the coming in,' at the north end, and a second entrance at the south. Both these entrances are shown on Buck's drawing of 1730, and may be of mediaeval date, belonging respectively to the inner parlour and the passage to the cemetery or infirmary. The room at the south-east angle is called the chapel, and the first floor of the range contained the hall.
In the southern range, which also retained its central wall, the main staircase occupied the west end, and the chapel the east, the space between being cut up into chambers, whose use is not otherwise specified. On the first floor was the dining-room, probably the old frater, just as the 'hall' in the eastern range represented the dorter.
At the south end of the western range were the 'lyme house' and the garden house, and at the north end the outer parlour had become the passage to the garden, the next two bays of the subvault being devoted to what was perhaps their original use, a store house. The later additions to the house date chiefly from the early part of the nineteenth century, and are of no great importance. The most notable is a large octagonal room, north of the quadrangle, purporting to be copied from the chapter-house at Peterborough—a statement which has no foundation in fact—and containing a splendid state bed with its hangings and embroideries, formerly known as the 'Warming pan Bed,' in reference to the story of the supposititious son of James II. It seems to have come into the Osborn family through a marriage with the widow of the Lord Molyneux, who was an officer of the bedchamber to James II.
The present chapel is fitted with high wooden pews, painted white, and is entered from the quadrangle by a door at the north-east. Over the altar is a fine piece of early sixteenth-century Flemish tapestry.
The series of pictures, portraits and otherwise, in the house, is an interesting one, the most notable being a very fine portrait of Edward VI, attributed to Holbein; there are also portraits of Cromwell, Sir William Temple and Dorothy Osborn, George Montagu, earl of Halifax, Sir Kenelm Digby, and many members of the Osborn family. One of the rooms in the south wing has a fine eighteenthcentury Oriental wall paper.
In a wood on the high ground north-west of the house are the remains of a 'chapel,' obviously one of the sham ruins, in this case largely composed of really old fragments, which the taste of the eighteenth-century Gothicist delighted to construct. To complete the illusion, several genuine mediaeval gravestones have been set near to it, two of them on imitation altar tombs. One of these is a very fine and interesting slab with the effigy of an abbot in mass vestments, with the marginal inscription: 'Hic jacet Frater T(homas de C)otgrave abas de Pippewel' cui' aī ppiciet' Deus.' (fn. 122)
Pipewell was a Cistercian abbey in Northamptonshire, and there is nothing to show how the slab came to Chicksands.
The other manor in CHICKSANDS mentioned in Domesday was held by Germund of Ralph Langetot an undertenant of Walter Giffard. (fn. 123) The overlordship passed from the Giffards to the Pembrokes as in the case of Dunton (q.v.). No documentary evidence for the existence of the manor during the next two centuries has been found, but in 1302 Margery Dagnel held the manor for half a knight's fee, (fn. 124) and in 1316 Peter Dagnel was joint lord of Meppershall, Chicksands, and Stondon with Nicholas Meppershall. (fn. 125) In 1317 this manor was given to Chicksands Priory by John Blundel at the instigation of Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke; (fn. 126) and having become amalgamated with the manor then held by the priory, it has had from this date a descent analogous to the one already traced.
The abbey of Warden held half a hide of land in Chicksands which had been conveyed by fine to Payn, abbot of Warden, by Robert son of Olympeas in 1197. (fn. 127) This grant was confirmed by Richard I in 1198, and by Edward I in 1286. (fn. 128) No further trace, however, of this holding can be found.
Other lands in Chicksands were held by Marina de Beseville, who, with her tenants, held half a knight's fee in Chicksands in 1302. (fn. 129) Matilda, the widow of John Botetourt, alienated lands in Chicksands to William le Latymer and Elizabeth his wife in 1328, (fn. 130) and in 1388 John de Neville of Raby and Elizabeth his wife had a fee in Chicksands. (fn. 131)
The dukes of Norfolk also possessed a small estate in Chicksands, and John de Mowbray, duke of Norfolk, died in 1433 seised of the quarter of a fee in Chicksands; (fn. 132) his son John died in 1461, and in 1470 Eleanor his widow was assigned the quarter fee in Chicksands as part of her dower. (fn. 133)
On the estate belonging to Chicksands Priory was a farm called the Dayre House, which was leased out, and at the Dissolution the amount of the rent was £1. (fn. 134) When Thomas Wyndham in 1540 obtained a lease of the house and site of Chicksands Priory, there was included in the lease the rent of the Dayre House, which amounted annually to 100 quarters of malt, 20 quarters of corn, 20 quarters of wheat, and 20 of pease, which the farmer used to pay to Chicksands Priory. (fn. 135) This rent was granted to Richard Snowe at the expiration of the lease, (fn. 136) and it passed to the Osborns with the manor. (fn. 137) Sir John Osborn died seised of the house called the Dayre House in 1628, (fn. 138) and there is no further mention of the farm or rent.
There is a mill mentioned in Domesday on the land which Walter held of Azelina, wife of Ralph Taillebois, it was worth 10s. (fn. 139) This mill came into the possession of Chicksands Priory, which owned it in 1535; (fn. 140) it was then mentioned as a water-mill, and was worth, together with a rabbit warren, £4. In 1540 the rent of the mill had risen to £5 6s. 8d., (fn. 141) and Thomas Wyndham was granted the use of it; the miller was to grind all Wyndham's corn, when he wanted it, and to ask no fee as he had done before from the priory. (fn. 142) Richard Snowe obtained a grant of the reversion of the mill in the same year, (fn. 143) and died seised of it in 1553. (fn. 144) The mill was conveyed by Edward Snowe to Peter Osborn in 1587, (fn. 145) and was held by the latter's grandson in 1640; (fn. 146) it is last mentioned in 1711, when it was in the possession of John Osborn. (fn. 147)
The church of Chicksands, which formed part of the original endowment of the priory, was founded at the same date, c. 1150, (fn. 148) by Payn Beauchamp and Rohesia his wife, and at the beginning of the next century the gift was confirmed by William son of Simon de Beauchamp. (fn. 149) Chicksands was extra-parochial, and the church was attached to the priory and attended by the canons and nuns solely. In 1253 and 1255 the priory obtained grants of protection for their conventual church from the pope. (fn. 150) It was one of the poorest endowments in the county, and was worth only £2 13s. 4d. in 1291. (fn. 151) It continued annexed to the priory until the Reformation, when it was granted together with the bell-tower and cemetery to Richard and Elizabeth Snowe. (fn. 152) Richard's son Edward conveyed the church to Peter Osborn in 1587, who died seised of it in 1592. (fn. 153) There is no further mention of the church or chapel, which probably fell into disuse soon after.
Parish of Chicksands.—There are apparently no endowed charities in this parish.