A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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The parish of Stotfold has an area of 2,398 acres, of which 1,890¾ are arable land, 302¼ permanent grass, and 8 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is light clay with beds of gravel, the subsoil gault. The chief crops are wheat, barley, beans, and potatoes and market-garden produce generally. The parish is watered by the River Ivel. The general slope is from south to north, the highest point attained above the ordnance datum being 250 ft., the lowest 131 ft. Stotfold Common, of considerable extent, lies in the north of the parish. The road from Baldock to Biggleswade, possibly of Roman origin, runs along the east boundary on a slight rise, the levels falling westward, and is joined in the south-east angle of the parish by the main road to Arlesey and Shefford, which runs in a north-westerly direction. The upper part of the course of the Ivel, which rises at a little distance over the country boundary near Baldock, lies in the parish, which is also crossed by another stream. The surface generally is flat, and the village lies about the middle of the parish, spreading over a considerable area just north of the line of the Arlesey road. The church stands on the east with the vicarage to the north-east, and the outlying parts of the village to the north and south are known as Stotfold Green and Brook End. There are many old cottages, but no buildings of much architectural interest. In the west of the parish, near the Arlesey border, stands the Three Counties Asylum, the most conspicuous object in the district. No railway passes through Stotfold, and the nearest station is Arlesey, on the main line of the Great Northern Railway, two miles to the east of the village. The following thirteenth-century placenames have been found in Stotfold:—Wycklond, Oxemordene, Whichemorhal, Blakemanlond, Soltestockes, Chepyngwey. (fn. 2)
At the time of the Domesday Survey the large and important manor of STOTFOLD BRAYES, then assessed at 15 hides, was held by Hugh de Beauchamp of the king in chief, and had formerly been held by Anschil, a thegn of King Edward. It contained four mills, and was worth £25. (fn. 3) This manor continued to belong to the Beauchamps (fn. 4) as part of the barony of Bedford until it passed by the marriage of Maud, daughter and one of the co-heiresses of William Beauchamp, into the hands of Roger de Moubray, who died in 1266. (fn. 5) Their son Roger succeeded them, and was followed by a son John. (fn. 6) He married Aliva, daughter of William de Braose, and settled Stotfold manor on the latter for life. (fn. 7) John de Moubray joined the insurrection of Thomas earl of Lancaster in 1321, and being made prisoner at the battle of Boroughbridge he was hanged at York soon after. In the same year a grant was made to Hugh le Despenser the younger and Eleanor his wife of the 'manor of Stotfold which William de Braose held for life and John de Moubray forfeited. (fn. 8) Hugh le Despenser held the manor until his attainder in 1326, when his estates escheated to the crown. The manor in 1327 reverted to John de Moubray, son of the above John, hanged at York, all the lands held by his father being granted to him 'in consideration of the ser- But argent. vices of his ancestors to the king's progenitors, and of the services that the king believes he will render to him in the future.' (fn. 9) John de Moubray held Stotfold manor till his death in 1361, at which time it was worth £20 per annum. (fn. 10) He was succeeded by his son John, who died in 1368, (fn. 11) but his wife Elizabeth retained the manor for her lifetime. (fn. 12) In 1377 her son John de Moubray—subsequently created carl of Nottingham—who was under age, succeeded her. (fn. 13) He died under age in 1383, (fn. 14) and his brother Thomas, who acquired the further dignity of duke of Norfolk, succeeded to the manor, (fn. 15) and his wife Elizabeth, who outlived him, held it till her death in 1425. (fn. 16) Her grandson John de Moubray, who died in 1461, followed her in the tenure of Stotfold manor, (fn. 17) and his widow Eleanor was allowed in 1470 a yearly rent of £6 6s. from the manor. (fn. 18) In 1475–6 John de Moubray their son died without male issue, (fn. 19) and his daughter Anne married in 1477 at the age of five the younger son of Edward IV, Richard duke of York, who in contemplation of such a marriage obtained a grant of the dignities and estates of his wife's father. (fn. 20)
After the murder of the duke in the tower in 1483 the earldom of Nottingham passed to William Viscount Berkeley, and the dukedom of Norfolk to John Howard, (fn. 21) whose son Thomas was made earl of Surrey on the same day that his father was raised to the dukedom. The manor of Stotfold was included in the earl of Nottingham's moiety of the Moubray estates, (fn. 22) but after his death in 1491 it passed to the earl of Surrey (whose father had been slain at Bosworth, and his estates forfeited in 1485). By him it was alienated in 1491 to Sir Reginald Bray, minister of state to Henry VII. (fn. 23) The manor, however, did not long remain in this family, Sir Reginald was succeeded by a nephew Edmund Lord Bray, whose son John transferred the manor by fine in 1547 (fn. 24) to Edward Butler. On his death in 1562 (fn. 25) the latter was succeeded by his son George, who died in 1602 in possession of this manor, called for the first time Stotfold Brayes, leaving a son Beckenham Butler. (fn. 26) He in 1610 sold the two manors of Stotfold Brayes and Stotfold Newnham for £5,044 (fn. 27) to Thomas Angell, who in 1620 sold them to Mary Lady Welde. (fn. 28) She died in 1624 and left as her heir her niece Anne, wife of William Litton of Knebworth, (fn. 29) who on her death, before 1638, was followed by her son Roland Litton, (fn. 30) who held the manor till his death in 1674. (fn. 31) William Litton his son died without issue in 1704, and left his estate by will to Litton Strode, grandson of his sister Judith. He died in 1710 leaving the property to his cousin William Robinson, who took the name of Litton. (fn. 32) John Robinson Litton, his son, was in possession of the manor in 1747, (fn. 33) and died in 1762 leaving a nephew Richard Warburton as heir. (fn. 34) In 1795 the two manors of Stotfold Brayes and Stotfold Newnham were purchased by John Williamson, (fn. 35) whose daughter Sara married the Rev. William Alington, who died in 1849, (fn. 36) and whose grandson Julius Alington (son of John Alington) is at the present day lord of the manor.
The origin of STOTFOLD NEWNHAM manor, which by the thirteenth century had passed to Newnham Priory, is to be found in a knight's fee owned by Hugh de Salford in the twelfth century. In 1193 Hugh secured his title to this fee as against the claims of William Rufus, (fn. 37) but five years later he transferred half of the fees to Simon Rufus, (fn. 38) whose son Robert alienated it in 1244 to Newnham Priory. (fn. 39) The other half, together with a capital messuage, which remained in the hands of Hugh de Salford, was granted by Hugh son of Nigel de Salford, probably a grandson of the former Hugh, to Newnham Priory. (fn. 40) These two grants went to form the manor of Stotfold Newnham, which was held by the priory until the Dissolution, when the manor, then valued at a yearly rent of £14 (fn. 41) fell to the king, by whom it was granted in 1547 to Richard Kyrke. (fn. 42) The latter in 1551 alienated Stotfold Newnham to Edward Butler, (fn. 43) who had also acquired the manor of Stotfold Brayes (q.v.) with which its history is henceforward identical. (fn. 44)
Part of the fifteen hides which Hugh de Beauchamp held in Stotfold at the time of the Survey (fn. 47) went towards the formation of a subordinate STOTFOLD MANOR, which belonged to the priory of Chicksands. Simon de Beauchamp (c. 1190) granted the church of Stotfold with all its appurtenances to Chicksands, (fn. 48) and in 1276 the prior held two carucates of land in Stotfold, (fn. 49) and also claimed view of frankpledge in his manor there. (fn. 50) At the Dissolution this manor was granted by the crown to Trinity College, Cambridge. (fn. 51) The grant was confirmed by James I (fn. 52) owing to some question of the validity of the original grant having arisen, and Trinity College is still in possession.
At the time of the Domesday Survey Stotfold was unusually well supplied with mills, Hugh de Beauchamp possessing four which were valued at £4. (fn. 53) Of these one went to form part of the endowment of Stotfold Newnham, (fn. 54) and a confirmation in 1392 by Thomas Lord Moubray of the grants of his ancestors to Newnham specially mentions 4s. 6d. yearly rent from the mill at the ford of Stotfold, (fn. 55) but no further mention of it has been found after the Dissolution. A second of these mills appears to have been part of the grant of the de Beauchamps to Chicksands Priory. (fn. 56) At the Dissolution it was separated from the manor which Chicksands owned in Stotfold, and was acquired by Edward Butler (fn. 57) who owned Stotfold Brayes and Stotfold Newnham manors (q.v.) as appurtenant to which it is henceforward to be found. (fn. 58) Of the other two mills mentioned at Domesday a single reference has been found to one only, when in 1406 John Wedewessen and Alice his wife granted their watermill in Stotfold to Simon Wedewessen their brother. (fn. 59)
The church of OUR LADY consists of chancel 40 ft. by 15 ft. with a small organ chamber on the south, nave 46 ft. 6 in. by 21 ft. 6 in., north aisle 47 ft. 6 in. by 10 ft. 3 in., south aisle 42 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft., south porch and western tower, 12 ft. 9 in. by 11 ft. 9 in.
The building shows clear evidence of development from an aisleless nave, the main dimensions of which have not been altered, and a chancel of the same width as at present, but perhaps somewhat shorter. This was probably the twelfth-century plan, and it seems to have remained unaltered, with the possible exception of the addition of a north transept chapel, till the early years of the fourteenth century. Its north-west angle stands free, and the quoins of its north-west and north-east angles are clearly to be seen. About 1320 a north aisle was added to the nave, and the break in the north arcade between the first and second bays suggests that at the time of its addition there was a wall running northwards at this point, in other words the west wall of a north transept. This transept, as already suggested, appears to have been an addition to the original plan, and was probably of thirteenth-century date; the arch by which it opened to the nave must have been replaced, shortly after the building of the north aisle, by one which harmonized with the two western bays of the arcade. At what time its area was thrown into that of the aisle is not clear, but it was probably at no great distance of time from the building of the aisle.
The addition of a south aisle to the nave must have closely followed the work just described. There is no evidence of any transept here, and the aisle of two bays was set out from the east end of the nave, leaving some 22 ft. of the western part of the south wall of the nave unaltered. This arrangement still exists at the neighbouring church of Edworth, but here it was soon altered, a third bay being added to the arcade, with the same detail, but separated from it by a short length of walling. Its west wall is 5 ft. from the west angle of the nave, while in the north aisle the west wall is carried up to the angle, but the length of blank wall beyond the west respond of the north arcade, 7 ft., points to the fact that the west wall of the aisle was probably at first in the same relative position as that of the south aisle, and has been carried westward at a later date. In the fifteenth century the chancel, with the chancel arch, was rebuilt, and the west tower and south porch added. The last addition to the building was the clearstory, late in the fifteenth century, and fifteenthcentury windows were everywhere inserted in place of the older ones, except in the west wall of the south aisle. It is possible, as has been already noted, that a lengthening of the north aisle took place at this time. The building has been restored several times within recent years, and in 1890 the chancel was entirely rebuilt, except its western arch, and an organ chamber was added on the south side. The walling is of flint rubble with ashlar dressings, and all parts of the building have embattled parapets, those of the nave being modern.
The chancel has a three-light east window, and three two-light windows in the side walls, two on the north and one on the south, all modern and of fifteenth-century style; the organ chamber opens to the chancel with a wide arch and is lighted by a small cinquefoiled window.
The chancel arch is of fifteenth-century date, of two orders, the outer, which is continuous, having a hollow quarter round between fillets, and the inner a wave mould with moulded capitals and plain splayed bases.
To the south of the arch in the east wall of the nave is a fourteenth-century recess for an image over the south nave altar, with a cinquefoiled arch and roll cusps, and jambs moulded with a roll between two hollow chamfers.
In the north-east corner of the nave is the roodstair of fifteenth-century date, the lower entrance being in the north aisle. The arcades of the nave are of three bays, both having arches of two orders with wave moulds, but those in the south arcade are of rather heavier detail than those in the north. The piers in both arcades are of four engaged half-round shafts, but in the south arcade there are also small rounded shafts in the re-entering angles, stopping in the bells of the capitals, above the necking, on small human heads, or in one case, on a beast's head. The moulded capitals, while of the same general character, vary in section, those on the north having a taller bell, and fewer moulded members. The labels of the north arcade are filleted rolls, and those on the south have a scroll and small bead, both having carved stops, mostly human heads. The bases in the north arcade, and in the only example above the floor level in the south, namely, in the western respond, are of three rolls, and there is a slight difference of profile in those of the eastern bay of the north arcade from those in the two other bays. The clearstory over has three windows a side of late fifteenthcentury date, each of two cinquefoiled lights.
The north aisle has three-light east and west windows, and in the north wall two of three lights, and one, west of the north doorway, of two lights; all are of fifteenth-century style, more or less repaired. The south aisle in like manner has a three-light window at the east, and two on the south, of fifteenthcentury style, but its west window is of early fourteenth-century detail, with two cinquefoiled lights and a cusped spherical triangle in the head. The south doorway is also of the fourteenth century, with two continuous double ogee mouldings separated by a hollow.
The tower is of three stages with an embattled parapet, and pairs of two-light belfry windows with two-centred heads. The stair is in the south-west angle, and at the western angles are pairs of buttresses. The west window in the ground stage is of three lights, with a doorway below it, and the eastern arch of the tower is of two orders, the inner with a moulded capital and a wave mould on the arch, and the outer continuous, with a wide hollow, a bead and a hollow chamber. On the south wall of the tower are several incised sundials.
There are a few bits of old glass in the middle window of the north aisle, and in the Gentleman's Magazine for November, 1827, mention is made of wall paintings of St. Michael and St. George; these have now entirely disappeared.
The registers begin in 1589, the first book containing baptisms, marriages and burials to 1702; the second continues the baptisms and burials to 1772, and the marriages to 1754; the third has marriages from 1754 to 1812, and the fourth baptisms and burials 1773 to 1812.
The advowson and rectory of Stotfold belonged to the priory of Chicksands. (fn. 60) At the Dissolution the value of the rectory was estimated at £12, (fn. 61) and together with the advowson it was granted in 1547 to Trinty College, Cambridge, (fn. 62) to which both still belong.
The Poor's Land consists of 5 acres allotted under an inclosure award, 1851, in lieu of about eight acres lying dispersedly in the common fields. It is let in allotments to the poor, producing about £10 a year, which is carried to a general coal fund account. There were thirty-nine allottees in 1905.
By the same award three additional acres adjoining the above were allotted for the labouring poor, let in garden allotments and producing £5 12s. 6d. a year, also carried to the coal fund account. Regulated by scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 7 August, 1903. There were forty allottees in 1905.
In 1610 John Fitzakerly by will, proved in the P.C.C., gave to the poor £5 yearly out of his lands in Stotfold. The estate became vested in two different owners, and in 1903 one moiety of the charge was redeemed by the payment of £125, which was invested in £128 12s. 11d. £3 per cent. Metropolitan Consolidated Stock, with the official trustees, the dividends, amounting to £3 17s. 4d., together with the moiety unredeemed, received from the estate of Mrs. W. Vaughan, are carried to the coal fund account.
In 1684 William Field by will left £60 to purchase land to be settled in trust for the use of the vicar of Stotfold and of the poor of that parish for ever, in equal proportions. A piece of land known as 'Wythe's Close,' containing nearly two acres, is held in trust for this charity, which is let in allotments producing £5 a year, £2 10s. being paid to the vicar, and £2 10s. to the coal fund account. There were twenty-eight allottees in 1905.
In 1713 William Trimer by will proved at Bedford gave 5s. a year out of a close called Morrells, in Stotfold, for buying shoes for poor children. The annuity is received from Mr. William Boot of Ickleford, Herts. and duly applied.
In 1795 Jane Brooks, by will proved in the commissary court of Huntingdon, left £160 for investment in land, one fourth part of the rent to be distributed in bread to the poor of this parish on Christmas Day and Good Friday. The endowment consists of nearly eight acres of land at Stocking Pelham. The amount apportioned to this parish was £12s. in 1905, which was distributed in thirty-eight loaves on Good Friday and in thirty-seven loaves at Christmas. See parish of Biggleswade.
In 1832 Lawrence Tristram by his will (inter alia) gave £100 consols, income to be distributed among the poor in bread, clothes or otherwise at the discretion of the vicar and churchwardens. The stock is held by the official trustees, the income being applied in distribution of bread.
The Church Almshouses, founded by deed of 27 August, 1835, whereby the said H. O. Roe and Mary Hindley conveyed to trustees three roods thirtysix poles, known as Cook's Close, with the almshouses erected thereon by the said H. O. Roe. The endowment fund consists of £5,187 17s. 10d. consols given from time to time in his lifetime by the said H. O. Roe and by a legacy under his will, proved in 1854, but including £200 consols given in 1837 by the said Mary Hindley. The income with the rent of a portion of the land amounts to about £134 a year. The inmates also receive 10s. a week from the interest of £200 Metropolitan three and a half per cent. Consolidated Stock (with the official trustees) given in 1884 by Miss Elizabeth Georgiana Vaughan.
Roe's Church Bread Charity. The said H. O. Roe by deed, 1837, gave £520 consols, augmented by deed of 1849 to £780 consols, in trust for dividends amounting to £19 10s. a year for distribution on Sundays of six penny loaves at the parish church.
Roe's Bread, Fuel, and Clothes Charity, deed 1849 consists of £640 consols, income of £16 a year, applied usually in payment of £10 a year to clothing club and remainder in distribution of coal irrespective of creed of recipients.
Roe's Charity for Parish Clerk consists of cottage in Frog End, Stotfold, purchased in 1835 by said H. O. Roe from Trinity College, Cambridge, the lords of the manor of Stotfold, for the occupation of the parish clerk. By deed, 1837, a sum of £150 consols was given by H. O. Roe for keeping the said cottage in repair. By the Stotfold Inclosure Award of 1851 a piece of land, copyhold, of the Rectory manor containing three acres two roods was awarded in respect of the common rights belonging to such cottage.
Charity for Apprenticing. The said H. O. Roe by his will, proved in the P. C. C. 23 November, 1854, left a legacy, now represented by £987 17s. 10d. consols, income to be applied in placing out in service children of poor persons living in the parish attending the National or Endowed Schools above referred to. The several sums of consols above mentioned, amounting in the aggregate to £11,819 14s. 8d. consols, are held by the official trustees for the several charities respectively.