A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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The parish of Pertenhall on the Huntingdonshire border has an area of 1,614½ acres divided (with the exception of 10 acres of woodland) between arable land and permanent grass, the latter predominating. (fn. 1) The soil is stiff clay and gravel. The land slopes from north to south; the highest point attained above the ordnance datum is 207 ft., the lowest 104 ft. The parish is watered by the River Kym, which forms its eastern boundary with its tributary. The water supply of the village, which is good and abundant, is derived from wells. Pertenhall village is in the centre of the parish. The church of St. Peter is off the main road, and stands in a well-wooded churchyard. Near by is the rectory, an 18th-century red brick house bearing the date 1799, with spacious grounds attached. On the south of the churchyard is the old manor-house, a fine Elizabethan building. Some thirty years ago it underwent a thorough restoration, and in the course of the work portions of twenty-three skeletons were discovered about the house. This discovery, however, is not the first of the same nature in this parish, for in 1797, when the work of inclosure was going forward, a considerable quantity of bones was discovered (a few inches below the soil) in a small piece of common land 150 yds. south of the churchyard. (fn. 2) As the manor-house and grounds are due south of the church the site of the two discoveries is probably the same. The bones are possibly the relics of a skirmish in the Civil Wars.
Some distance east of the village is Pertenhall Hoo Farm, which preserves the name of the ancient manor, and is a small 16th-century building with traces of a moat some quarter of a mile to the north.
There are several outlying hamlets or 'ends' in this parish. Wood End in the north of the parish has a Moravian chapel beautifully situated on high ground with a manse attached. Chadwell End is west of the village, and Green End is in the south of the parish, where there are a gravel pit and a small wood known as Galley Oak Spinney.
No entry in the Domesday Survey has been identified as referring to the manor of PERTENHALL. It would seem possible, however, that the property was considered to be parcel of Kimbolton, as in 1286–7 Humphrey de Bohun Earl of Hereford and Essex (and lord of Kimbolton) claimed that onethird of Pertenhall belonged to his fief, (fn. 3) while the overlordship of this manor followed the same descent as the honour of Kimbolton. The earliest tenants of the Earls of Essex in Pertenhall were the Peyvre family. Nicholas Peyvre was granted rights of free warren in his demesne lands in Pertenhall in 1253. (fn. 4) His successor, Roger Peyvre, held the property, which extended into Little Staughton and other neighbouring parishes, as a quarter of a knight's fee. (fn. 5) In 1308–9 Stephen de Holcote conveyed to Roger Peyvre his right in 3 carucates of arable land, 60 acres of meadow with woodland, and rents in Keysoe and Pertenhall. (fn. 6) Roger Peyvre was still holding in 1316, (fn. 7) but was soon afterwards succeeded by John Peyvre, who filled the office of coroner for the county until 'being sick and broken with age' he was removed in 1343. (fn. 8) He was still lord of Pertenhall Manor in 1346, (fn. 9) but the date of his death is not known, and no further evidence concerning the descent of the manor has been found until 1428, by which year it had come into the possession of John Arthorw, who held it by service of a quarter of a knight's fee. (fn. 10) John Arthorw was succeeded in the tenure by Margaret, presumably his daughter, who first married a Darell and later Arthur Ormsby. (fn. 11) Her son and successor in the manor was Thomas Darell, whose wife Isabel survived him and is found complaining that her husband's executors refused to give her seisin of the manor. (fn. 12) Later she took for her second husband Simon Harvey, and in 1467–8 placed the manor (fn. 13) in the hands of trustees. (fn. 14) She was succeeded by her son Thomas Darell, who settled the manor in 1472. (fn. 15) Thomas Darell died in 1490, (fn. 16) leaving two sons, Thomas and John, each in turn being given as heir in different inquisitions, (fn. 17) but under his will his widow Julian (who later married Thomas Boner) held the manor until her death in 1501. (fn. 18) Her heirs were her granddaughters Beatrice and Anastasia, the daughters of Thomas Darell, who had predeceased his mother. (fn. 19) John Darell, brother of Thomas, is found later claiming, however, that he was the rightful heir to his brother, but that, being under age at the time of his brother's death, he was taken into the custody of the overlord, the Duke of Buckingham, and evilly disposed persons presented his two nieces to the king as the rightful heirs, and that the manor had come into the hands of one Thomas Jermayn, who had purchased the wardship of Beatrice and Anastasia. (fn. 20) In 1518 both John Darell and Thomas Jermayn made over their rights in Pertenhall Manor to Michael Fisher and others. (fn. 21) They were possibly acting for the founders of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, which was established in this year, and at the time of the Dissolution owned Pertenhall Manor, then worth £23 12s. 11d. (fn. 22) This manor has remained the property of the college down to the present day.
The manor of HOWE AND PERTENHALL alias COVINGTON FEE appears to have belonged to the Knights Templars. There is but slight documentary evidence relating to the tenure of the Templars in Pertenhall, but property in the parish retained the name of Templars' Lands down into the 19th century, (fn. 23) and there is still a moat that is pointed out as the site of their manor-house. The Knights Templars' manor of Pertenhall passed, with the bulk of the property of their order, to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who had a preceptory in the neighbouring parish of Melchbourne. These latter appear to have made a temporary grant of the manor in the early part of the 14th century to John Merlyn, to whom Edward II granted rights of free warren in 1319. (fn. 24) The Prior of the Knights Hospitallers held a view of frankpledge in Pertenhall. (fn. 25) After the Dissolution no further mention of this manor occurs until the year 1660, when Richard Spicer alienated it to Simon Grey, (fn. 26) who retained it until 1690, when he conveyed it to Francis Brace (fn. 27); he sold it five years later to James Oliver. (fn. 28) The manor remained in the hands of the Oliver family for a considerable period, and it is probable that an heiress of that family married Simon Taylor, who, with his son Simon Oliver, suffered a recovery of the manor in 1772. (fn. 29) It was purchased from Simon Taylor in 1790 by a clergyman named Paget, (fn. 30) whose heirs held the manor in 1801. (fn. 31) It was purchased from them by William Bricheno, (fn. 32) who sold it to John King Martin in 1820. (fn. 33) His representatives still hold property in Pertenhall at the present day.
Towards the close of the 13th century Edmund Earl of Cornwall was overlord of land in Pertenhall, (fn. 34) later known as HOO MANOR. This overlordship was part of his honour of Wallingford; no mention of its exercise has been found later than the 14th century. (fn. 35) The first tenants of the property that have been found are Robert Ingram and William Oyldebœuf, who held it by the service of half a knight's fee in 1284–6. (fn. 36) By the beginning of the next century it had passed to Robert de Bayeux, (fn. 37) who was still holding in 1323. (fn. 38) He was succeeded by Richard de Bayeux before 1346. (fn. 39) At his death the manor passed to his daughter Elizabeth, (fn. 40) whose two daughters Joan and Margaret, or their descendants, are probably 'the heirs' of Richard de Bayeux recorded as holding this manor in 1428. (fn. 41) No evidence concerning the descent of this manor has been found for the next 100 years, and in the interval it was divided into thirds. Edward Saunders in 1537 alienated one-third of the manor to Edward Montague for forty years (fn. 42); the latter by his will dated 17 July 1556 left his interest in the manor to his sons Roger and Simon. (fn. 43) Another third of this manor was in the hands of Thomas Marborowe in the early part of the 16th century. (fn. 44) After his death his wife held it for her life, and later it came into the possession of Henry Marborowe, his son, who in 1559 alienated it to William Gery for £500. (fn. 45) It appears from a suit which arose later that Marborowe intended this to be only a temporary arrangement, but William Gery claimed that it was a genuine sale, and in 1585 alienated it to Lord St. John. (fn. 46) One, or possibly both of these thirds, was owned prior to the year 1607 by Robert Jackman, who in that year quitclaimed 'the manor of Hoo' to Walter Rolt. (fn. 47) His successor, Edward Rolt, 'Esquire,' of Pertenhall, J.P. and Recorder of Bedford, was eldest son of Thomas Rolt of Bolnhurst. He was buried here in 1616, leaving a son Edward, who was similarly Counseller at law and was buried here in 1652. (fn. 48) By Mary, daughter of Sir Oliver Cromwell of Hinchinbrooke, K.B. (the Protector's uncle), he left three sons, of whom (Sir) Thomas, the youngest, became 'President of India' and purchased Sacombe Park, Herts, while 'Captain' Edward Rolt, the eldest, was a gentleman of the Protector's Life Guard, was 'ambassador' for him to Sweden, and was afterwards a friend of Pepys. He was buried at Pertenhall in 1698, (fn. 49) after which date no trace of the manor is found (fn. 50) until the latter part of the 18th century, when it was in the possession of a Mr. Dean. (fn. 51) From the latter it passed to a relative, John Sismey, (fn. 52) who held it into the 19th century, (fn. 53) since which date no further trace of the manor has been found.
The manor of BELLS is mentioned in a document bearing the date 1772. (fn. 54) Its subsequent history is the same as that of the manor of Covington Fee (q.v.).
In the time of Edward the Confessor Alwin Deule held 1 virgate in Pertenhall of which King Edward had the soke. (fn. 55) In 1086 it was held by William of Bishop Remigius of Lincoln and was valued at 5s. (fn. 56) The Bishops of Lincoln received service for land in Pertenhall until the middle of the 14th century. (fn. 57) Henry Bishop of Lincoln claimed a view of frankpledge in Pertenhall and neighbouring parishes in 1330. (fn. 58) The first tenant of this property of whom mention has been found is Roger son of Jordan, who in 1197–8 alienated it to his brother Richard. (fn. 59) His son Jordan held the property by service of half a knight's fee in the 13th century. (fn. 60) Jordan was succeeded by his son Richard, who held it in 1284–6 by the same service, (fn. 61) but by 1302–3 the service had been changed to a tenth of a knight's fee. (fn. 62) In 1346 this property had passed to John Hervy, (fn. 63) who is the last tenant of whom mention has been found.
In the 13th century Richard de Pertenhall held land by service of one-tenth of a knight's fee and William le Gascon by service of one-twentieth of a knight's fee in Pertenhall of the Earl of Hereford as of his honour of Kimbolton, (fn. 64) but the property so held has not been traced further.
The church of ST. PETER consists of a chancel 29 ft. 5 in. long by 15 ft. 4 in. wide, a north vestry 15 ft. 3 in. by 14 ft. 2 in., a nave 46½ ft. long by 16 ft. 10 in. wide, a north aisle 14 ft. 2 in. wide, and a west tower 11 ft. 10 in. by 10 ft. 5 in.
In the 12th century the church seems to have consisted of nave and chancel only, to which a north aisle—narrower than the present one—was added about the year 1190, when the present arcade was built. The chancel was perhaps rebuilt in the 13th century; in the 14th century a chapel, since destroyed, was added to it on the north, opening to the chancel by an arcade of two bays. In the 15th century the aisle was rebuilt and widened, a clearstory added on the north, the nave windows on the south heightened and the south porch and west tower and spire built.
The east half of the chancel with the north chapel was rebuilt in 1848, according to a date over the east window, which is of three lights, round-headed and modern, but with some re-used 14th-century stones in its jambs and mullions. In the glass is set upside down a 14th-century shield of France ancient quartered with England. In the north wall is a blocked 14th-century arcade of two bays with clustered pier and responds and moulded capitals; in the west bay a small pointed doorway opens to the vestry, which is modern. In the south wall are a small chamfered doorway, which seems to be 13th-century work reset, and a two-light 15th-century window containing a little original glass; the west jamb of another window is to be seen east of the doorway. The roof has two moulded 15th-century tie-beams with carved heads in the middle and an eastern tiebeam, dated 1684, referring to some reconstruction. The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders with half-round responds and moulded capitals, much altered by re-cutting, but perhaps of the 13th century; the jambs are thicker than the arch and are part of the 12th-century walling.
The nave has a north arcade of three pointed arches built about 1190, the arches being of one order, edge-chamfered, with double-chamfered labels, which in the case of the middle arch have small dog-tooth ornament on the under chamfer. The capitals have square abaci and plain spreading bells on round columns and round moulded bases. The capitals of the responds and half of that of the second column are modern. In the south wall are three tall three-light windows, two of them having transoms at half height, while the middle one is in its lower half a squareheaded 14th-century window with trefoiled lights, a 15th-century top having been added above it. The south doorway, with a roll on the inner order, appears to belong to the 13th century and is under a 15th-century porch with remains of a large holy water stone in its north-east corner; there is a second holy water stone inside the church to the east of the doorway. In the east and west walls are windows of two trefoiled lights and the doorway consists of two chamfered orders, the inner of which rests on a halfround shaft with a moulded capital and base; the roof is of the same date. At the south-east angle of the nave is a blocked rood stair.
The north aisle has a recessed arch at the east springing from strings of 13th-century character with nail head and masks, but the date of the arch is doubtful; under it is a damaged late 13th-century mailed effigy of poor workmanship, with crossed legs and wearing a surcoat to the knees; the surface of the armour is smooth and the mail must have been shown by colour or gesso. In the north wall are two windows, one towards the east, of 1848, with a round head and wooden mullion, and the second a threelight 15th-century window. There is another like it in the west wall. The north doorway is in two moulded orders and of 15th-century date, and at the west end of the aisle is a raised platform over a vault, on which is placed part of a 14th-century coffin lid with scrolls on the stem of the cross.
The tower is of four stages with a tall broach spire and two tiers of spire lights. The belfry windows are simple of two trefoiled lights, and diagonal buttresses run up the angles to the eaves of the spire. The stair is at the south-west, and in the third stage on the south is a small two-light window. The west doorway is of three continuous-moulded pointed orders and above it is a three-light window, all details being very simple.
The font is octagonal, on a central and four outer shafts, the capital of one of which has 13th-century foliage. By a curious trick of varying the angles of the sides of the bowl each side is wedge-shaped, wider alternately at top and bottom.
Some of the pewing is of the 15th or 16th century and some of the 17th. The rood screen is a very beautiful fragment, complete up to the level of the loft, but without the vaulting, and has many traces of colour and gilding. The central opening has an ogee head, and apparently had as a finial a group of the Transfiguration, for on the arch is 'Transfiguracio Domini Nostri Ihesu Cristi.'
The heads of the three bays are divided each into three traceried lights, and the solid lower panels have blank tracery and a very effective running pattern on the middle rail. The colour on the north side stops at a definite line, all beneath having been hidden by the north nave altar.
On the south wall of the nave is a tablet recording the deaths of members of the Rolt family between 1616 and 1698, and in the vestry is a good mural monument to Susan (Fisher) wife of Simeon Grey, 1685. In the nave floor is a slab inscribed with the names of Richard Gisby and his younger son of the same name, who died in 1699 and 1690, and on the chancel walls tablets to five former rectors.
There are three bells: the first is of 1666, inscribed 'William Hull made me, Robert Smith, Edward Pecoke, churchwardens'; the second by Thomas Russell of Wootton, 1716, John Wadsworth, churchwarden; the third by John Chandler, 1683.
The first book of registers commences in 1582, and contains all the entries until 1751, the second continues the baptisms and burials till 1812 and the marriages until 1753, and the third marriages up to 1812.
No mention of the advowson of Pertenhall Church occurs before 1361, when Humphrey de Bohun Earl of Hereford and Essex died seised of it. (fn. 65) It, however, seems probable that it had been in the hands of the Earls of Essex from a much earlier period, as were the manor and church of Tilbrook (q.v.). Like the latter church, Pertenhall passed to Thomas Duke of Gloucester, (fn. 66) who married the heiress of the Bohuns and held it in the right of his wife, and later to Edmund Stafford Earl of Stafford. (fn. 67) Though no documentary evidence can be quoted, the advowson probably remained in the hands of the Stafford family until 1521, when Edward Stafford Duke of Buckingham was executed and his property escheated to the Crown. (fn. 68) Edward VI granted the advowson of Pertenhall Church to Henry Duke of Suffolk (the father of Lady Jane Grey), on whose attainder and execution in 1554 the Crown confiscated his property. (fn. 69) Between this date and 1607 this advowson was granted to Sir Richard Dyer, who died seised of it in this latter year. (fn. 70) He was succeeded by his son Sir William, (fn. 71) whose son Sir Lewis Dyer presented to the living in 1660. (fn. 72) In 1680 Noah Neale with other persons presented, (fn. 73) and in 1690 Joseph Aris. (fn. 74) The latter's daughter Elizabeth married John King, who became patron and rector in 1690. (fn. 75) The advowson remained the property of the King family throughout the 18th century, (fn. 76) though the exercise of the patronage would appear to have been constantly leased. (fn. 77) Thomas Martyn, the well-known botanist, a grandson of John King, (fn. 78) who was rector and patron in the early years of the 19th century, (fn. 79) wrote in 1814: 'It is melancholy to see several of our neighbouring parishes, without so much as a resident curate, served irregularly once on Sunday in haste. In this parish the rectors have been constantly resident ever since the Reformation. For the last 120 years my family have been both patrons and rectors and we have considerable influence in it.' (fn. 80) Thomas Martyn's son John King Martyn held the advowson from 1822 to 1854, (fn. 81) when it passed to John Bredham, who held it for thirty years. (fn. 82) His successor was S. K. Morley, whose representatives are patrons at the present day.
The commission of 1548 reported that there was provision for the continuance of a light in the church to the amount of 20d. per annum. (fn. 86)
This parish has from time immemorial been possessed for the use of the poor of 2 a. 3 r. 37p. known as the 'Poor's Close,' 1 a. 2 r. 15 p. known as the 'Town Close,' producing an annual rental of £9 5s.; also of a small pasture field let at £2 a year. The charity is also endowed with a public-house known as the Bricklayers' Arms, with 3 a. 2 r. 8 p. of land let at £11 a year.
In 1834 Jonathan Tebb, by his will proved in the P.C.C. 12 March, bequeathed a legacy, now represented by £316 14s. 1d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends of which, amounting to £7 18s., are in pursuance of a deed poll of 22 December 1834 applied on St. Thomas's Day in the distribution of clothes, books, bread or meat.
The charities are administered together by the rector and churchwardens. In 1910 the sum of £10 a year was paid to the school, (fn. 87) also £1 3s. for coal to the school; and gifts of bread, tea and coal were made to thirty-seven families.