A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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The parish of Roxton has an area of 2,918 acres, of which 1,938 acres are arable, 532¾ acres permanent grass and 53 acres woods and plantations. (fn. 1) Its western boundary is formed by the River Ouse, in the neighbourhood of which the land is liable to floods.
The highest point above ordnance datum is 279 ft. in the north-east of the parish, while in Chawston there is a bench mark showing 73 ft. The soil is clay and gravel, of which there is a pit to the south of Chawston. Wheat, barley, oats and beans are the principal crops, while an increasing area is devoted to market gardening.
The village of Roxton in the extreme south-east of the parish stands some little distance off the main road. It is picturesquely situated at the foot of a hill between the river and the road. The majority of the houses are old, and there is no principal village street. The church of St. Mary is in the east of the village, which has also a fine Congregational chapel built in 1822. Roxton House, standing in a park, is an 18th-century brick building in the south-east. The population is chiefly agricultural and is steadily decreasing. Outlying districts of the parish are Chawston hamlet in the north, where there is an ancient moat surrounding a modern house which marks the site of Chawston Manor, and Colesden in the west with a Grange farm in existence in 1677. (fn. 2) Water is obtained in this parish by pumps. Roxton was inclosed in 1810. (fn. 3)
The principal holder of land in this parish in 1086 was William Spec, who held ROXTON MANOR assessed at 8 hides and 3 virgates. (fn. 4) Like other of William Spec's land this manor is later found held of the barony of Trailly. (fn. 5) As in the case of Biddenham the Trailly interest in this parish was later attached to the honour of Gloucester, of which mention has been found as late as 1518. (fn. 6)
In 1086 Roxton Manor was held by twelve socmen. (fn. 7) The first tenants found holding this property after the Survey are the Bowels; in 1219 Henry de Bowels was accused by Aubrey Espec of taking homage and relief in her free tenement in Roxton. (fn. 8) In 1227 John de Bowels brought a suit against Nicholas de Themes here, (fn. 9) and in 1235 one of the same name is found benefiting the monks of Pipewell by a grant in this parish. (fn. 10) John de Bowels held the property in 1246–7, (fn. 11) and in the latter part of the 13th century he was proved to hold one and a half knights' fees in Roxton. (fn. 12) By 1302 these knights' fees had passed to Alexander Bosun, (fn. 13) and the descent follows that of Bosoms in Stagsden (q.v.) from then till 1423, after which it follows that of Bosoms in Wootton (q.v.) until 1447, when Margaret the wife of William Bosun died seised of the manor. (fn. 14) It then passed to Robert Olney, husband of her younger daughter Goditha. (fn. 15) The next mention of Roxton Manor is in 1518, when Robert Throckmorton died seised of it, (fn. 16) being succeeded by his son George. (fn. 17) The latter held it till 1541, (fn. 18) in which year he transferred it to the Crown in exchange for other manors. (fn. 19) Roxton was granted by the Crown to John Lord Mordaunt in 1553–4, (fn. 20) in whose family it remained till 1624, when John Lord Mordaunt transferred it to Gideon de Lanie or Laune, (fn. 21) a French apothecary, who held the appointment of surgeon to Anne of Denmark and was Master of the Apothecaries' Society in 1637. (fn. 22) The family already owned Netherbury Manor in Great Barford. Gideon de Laune died in 1659, (fn. 23) and William Delaune, with his son-in-law Sir William Hugessen, made a settlement of the manor in 1660 (fn. 24) and again in 1663. (fn. 25) William Delaune in 1688 still owned the manor, (fn. 26) which was in the possession of one of the same name in 1715. (fn. 27)
By 1737 it had become the property of William Metcalfe (fn. 28) and in 1784 William and James Metcalfe suffered a recovery of it. (fn. 29) James died in 1796, and in 1811 his son Charles James Metcalfe was under age. (fn. 30) In 1847 his son Charles James was lord of the manor, but sold it before 1854 to the Rev. Robert Delap of Monellan, Ireland, whose son James Bogle Delap holds it at the present day. (fn. 31)
At the time of the Domesday Survey William Spec held 7 hides and 3 virgates of land in Chawston, (fn. 32) and Eudo Dapifer 1 hide and 1 virgate, (fn. 33) and the overlordship of both these holders is subsequently found in what later became known as CHAWSTON MANOR. William de Roos, representing the Spec honour, held here in the middle of the 13th century, (fn. 34) whilst Richard de Beauchamp at the same date held 1 virgate of the honour of Eaton, into which Eudo Dapifer's lands had passed. (fn. 35) In 1290 the dual overlordship of the de Roos family and Beauchamps is mentioned, (fn. 36) but after this date Chawston Manor is stated to be held of de Roos of Hamlake only, mention of the overlordship occurring in 1302, 1343, 1346, 1414 and 1428. (fn. 37)
The tenants of William Spec at Domesday were William son of Raineward and William Gros, whilst no tenants are named as holding of Eudo. (fn. 38) In the middle of the 13th century four holders in Chawston are given. (fn. 39) Of these Richard de Beauchamp and Ralf Ridel (who held of both honours) appear to have preceded John de Kirkeby, Bishop of Ely, to whom land was conveyed in 1270, (fn. 40) and who died seised of property in Chawston in 1290. (fn. 41) This passed to his brother William de Kirkeby, (fn. 42) at whose death in 1302 he was proved to hold Chawston Manor (here so called for the first time). (fn. 43) His four sisters were his co-heirs, of whom Mabel Grymband inherited land in Chawston (treated of below), but Chawston Manor remained in the possession of his widow, Christine de Kirkeby, who held it in 1316, (fn. 44) and in the same year conveyed it by fine to Oliver Calverly and Mary his wife. (fn. 45) Oliver de Calverly still held the manor in 1330. (fn. 46) By 1343 this property had passed to Thomas Swathyng and Margaret his wife (fn. 47); and forty years later a further transfer had taken place to John Corner of Norfolk and Anora his wife, who in that year conveyed it by fine to John Fage. (fn. 48) A few years later the manor was again alienated to Roger or Robert Hunt, who held it in 1414, (fn. 49) in which year he was M.P. for Bedfordshire. (fn. 50) He was succeeded by his son Roger, who held by knight service in 1428. (fn. 51) The latter was a distinguished lawyer, and was Speaker of the House of Commons in 1433, (fn. 52) and five years later was created baron of the Exchequer. His son Roger inherited the manor from him, (fn. 53) and died seised of it in 1518, (fn. 54) when the property passed to his son Thomas, who was in turn succeeded by William, the eldest of his five children. (fn. 55) The latter died in 1593, and left the manor to Roger, his fourth child but eldest son, (fn. 56) upon whose death Chawston descended to his eldest son Thomas, who held it in 1628. (fn. 57) Thomas Hunt left the property to his second son Thomas, (fn. 58) who suffered a recovery of Chawston Manor in 1631. (fn. 59) Upon proof of his recusancy two-thirds of his estate were sequestered and granted in 1635–6 to William Bell for thirty-one years, (fn. 60) he having had an interest in the manor four years previously. (fn. 61) In 1641 Thomas Hunt is still found owning a portion of Chawston Manor, (fn. 62) but he died in that year, (fn. 63) and in 1653 another Thomas compounded for the two-thirds of it that had been sequestered. (fn. 64) In 1699 John Cufaude, who married Anne daughter of Roger Hunt, held half the manor of Chawston. (fn. 65) He died in 1701, (fn. 66) and four years later the whole of the original property was in the hands of Mary Hunt, spinster. (fn. 67) She is the last member of the family found holding the manor, (fn. 68) for at about this time it became the property of the Metcalfes, and henceforth follows the descent of the main manor of Roxton (q.v.). (fn. 69)
Upon the marriage of Mabel, youngest sister and co-heir of William de Kirkeby, with William Grymband, (fn. 70) a portion of the manor of Chawston was granted as her dower in 1301–2. (fn. 71) This consisted of 40 acres of arable, 2 acres of meadow and 30s. 8d. rent of assize, and was held as one-sixteenth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 72) Mabel died in 1312, and was succeeded by her son Robert, whose son was William, (fn. 73) upon whose death the property passed to his son Robert. The latter left it to his son Robert, from whom Nicholas his son inherited it. It was then held successively by his daughter Joan, her son Thomas and his daughters Joan and Agnes. William Lytton was son of Agnes, and he, together with Richard Hill and the latter's sister-in-law, transferred it, as co-heirs to the property, to Roger Hunt in 1507, (fn. 74) after which it followed the descent of the rest of the Hunts' property in this parish.
A third manor in Roxton appears in the 15th century, which originated from land held by William Spec at the Survey. It was known as COLESDEN MANOR, and its overlordship follows that of Roxton Manor (q.v.), (fn. 75) and is last found mentioned in 1480. (fn. 76)
In 1410 Joan, formerly the wife of Richard Boltere, conveyed the manor to Thomas Martin and Thomas Englysshe, (fn. 77) whose daughter Margaret brought it in marriage to John Radewell. (fn. 78) She died in 1444, (fn. 79) and the manor passed to her son Thomas Radewell, who died the same year as his mother, when Henry Englysshe, his kinsman, inherited Colesden. (fn. 80) In 1472 the manor was granted by John Dundin to John Fitz Jeffrey, (fn. 81) who died seised of it in 1480, (fn. 82) and upon its sale by Francis Fitz Jeffrey, in 1546, to Lord Mordaunt (fn. 83) it became joined to and followed the same descent as Roxton Manor (q.v.).
The manor of THROCKMORTONS or BOXES in this parish originated in a grant by the Crown of a portion of Sir George Throckmorton's property to William Boxe, citizen and grocer of London, and Anne his wife in 1546. (fn. 84) By 1553–4 it had become the property of Lord Mordaunt, (fn. 85) and it henceforth followed the descent of Roxton Manor (q.v.). (fn. 86)
The family of Ardens, who held property in Roxton in the early 13th century, give their name to the manor of ARDENS. In 1231 Roger de Hillingdon was summoned to answer Eustacia wife of Thomas de Ardens for a breach of an agreement as to 6 virgates of land in 'Ructona.' (fn. 87) In 1347 Thomas de Ardens, kt., who owned Roxton Manor, was outlawed for felony. (fn. 88)
A property reappears in the 16th century which is called Arderns Manor, a third of which was transferred in 1543 by Nicholas Bradshawe to Thomas Child. (fn. 89) Another third was transferred to him by Ralf Heydon in 1546, (fn. 90) whilst in 1548 he acquired the remaining third by fine from the same persons. (fn. 91) Robert Child died holding tenements in Roxton in 1639–40, (fn. 92) but no further trace of the manor has been found. (fn. 93)
Another manor in Roxton is CARLYLES or ROXTON WOOD END, first mentioned in 1472, when Walter Stotfold and Joan his wife conveyed it to Richard Carlyle. (fn. 94) In 1501 it was in the possession of William Mordaunt and Anne his wife, (fn. 95) and henceforward it follows the same descent as Roxton Manor (fn. 96) (q.v.), and is mentioned separately in documents as late as 1813. (fn. 97)
Walter de Baa or Bathonia (fn. 98) held by knight service of the Trailly fee in right of Anne his wife from 1284 to 1316. (fn. 99) By 1346 this fee had passed to Reginald de Cobham, (fn. 100) and in 1428 it was dispersed into five parts. (fn. 101)
Jordan de Colesden held property in Colesden in 1199 (fn. 102) which descended to William his son and grandson of the same name, (fn. 103) being held in the 13th century as half a knight's fee of Alinor Wake, of the honour of 'Buly.' (fn. 104)
In 1086 Roxton Mill, held by William Spec, was worth 33s. and 260 eels. (fn. 105) It was bestowed in 1235 by John de Bowels on the monks of Pipewell, together with holms and meadows adjoining it, (fn. 106) and after the Dissolution was granted in 1546 to Trinity College, Cambridge. (fn. 107) These meadows were held of the latter in 1585 by Edmund Day, who appears to have acquired the mill and who brought an action against John Webster in that year for erecting certain flood-gates and mills upon the Ouse, whereby the plaintiff's property was destroyed. (fn. 108) The last mention of the mill is found in 1604, when it was the property of William Webster. (fn. 109)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel 31 ft. 10 in. long by 16 ft. 8 in., a nave 46 ft. by 20 ft., a south aisle 14 ft. 4 in. wide overlapping the tower, and a west tower about 13 ft. 6 in. square.
The south arcade of the nave, of the early part of the 14th century, is the earliest piece of detail in the church, but the north wall of the nave is probably older. A south chapel was added to the chancel about 1330, and the chancel may have been lengthened at the same time; the arcade opening to the chapel remains, but the chapel itself has been pulled down. The arcade projects for about half its thickness from the face of the wall, and it seems that the wall has been rebuilt a little to the south of its former line in order to make the axis of the chancel correspond with that of the nave, the arcade itself being left undisturbed. There is nothing to show the process by which the original alteration of axis was brought about, for it must be assumed that the nave and chancel were in the first instance set out symmetrically.
In the 15th century the west tower was built, perhaps taking the place of an older tower, and at the end of the century or later the south wall of the south aisle was heightened and the aisle itself extended westward to the west face of the tower. About the same time a window was inserted in the north wall of the chancel and another in that of the nave.
The chancel has a modern east window of three lights with flowing tracery, to the south of which is a locker and at the north-east and south-east are two-light 14th-century windows, the latter having clearly been reset. This must have been done when the wall was rebuilt on its present line. In the north wall is a doorway in modern stonework and west of it a late window, perhaps c. 1520, of three cinquefoiled lights. In the south wall is a square chamfered piscina recess, and to the west of it is the blocked 14th-century arcade of two bays, which once opened to a south chapel. It has chamfered arches resting on octagonal shafts with moulded capitals, the responds having been made into shafts by the addition of cement and plastering. The chancel arch is pointed, all cement-faced and modern.
The nave has an early 14th-century south arcade of three bays with arches springing from octagonal columns and half-round responds with moulded capitals and bases. At the south-east angle is the rood stair. In the north wall near the chancel arch is a 14th-century square-headed window of two trefoiled ogee lights set low in the wall, and to the west is a late 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights of the same kind as that in the chancel. The north doorway has a single chamfered arch and label, probably of 14th-century date, and to the west of it is a three-light window with net tracery of the same date.
In the south wall of the aisle are three tall 15thcentury windows with square heads under which are three cinquefoiled lights; the doorway consists of two pointed chamfered orders and a label and is now blocked. At the east end is a blocked two-centred drop arch which led into the chapel, and at the west end is a square-headed window of three cinquefoiled lights with multifoiled net tracery.
The tower is not divided into stages, but has an embattled parapet, and at the north-east and south-west angles are large 15th-century buttresses ending underneath it. The west doorway is 15th-century work, and above it is a late two-light plain window; the belfry stage is lighted by two-light 15th-century windows cinquefoiled under a four-centred head, and on the north by a restored trefoiled lancet window, there being one similar in the west wall of the story below.
The font is of the 14th century and has an octagonal bowl on a square chamfered shaft round which are four roughly octagonal detached columns with capitals and bases. There are a few interesting monuments. On the south side of the chancel is a panelled altar tomb bearing shields of Hunt, and on the top slab is a brass plate inscribed simply 'Hic jacet Rogerus Hunt,' already referred to in the account of Chawston Manor. In the south wall is another brass with a Latin inscription to John Fage the elder of 'Chalvesterne' (Chawston), 1400, and in the floor a stone to Mrs. Ann Andrew, 1693. In the north wall of the nave is a plain 14th-century recessed tomb, consisting of a chamfered depressed two-centred arch, under which is the mutilated effigy of a lady in long robes. The proportions are very long and slender, but the drapery is good; the head is gone, and the feet are turned outwards in an ugly way; between them is a little dog curled up and asleep.
The pewing and fittings are modern, but the 15th-century lower part of the rood screen remains with six cinquefoiled panels each side, each panel except those nearest the wall on either side having three holes pierced in the head. These are much larger to the north than to the south. The panels bear paintings of saints, the figures on the north being smaller than on the south, the paintings not going so far down the panel. All are mutilated, but some are still recognizable. On the north are (?) St. James, St. Erasmus, the Resurrection, St. Christopher, King Edmund (? St. Sebastian) and St. Dorothy; on the south are the four doctors, a king in ermine robes carrying crozier and book, and St. Helena.
There are four books of registers before 1812. The first has all entries, 1684 to 1742; the second the same, 1743 to 1755, with the years 1725 and 1726 missing, and baptisms and burials to 1802; the third baptisms and burials 1803 to 1812; and the fourth marriages 1755 to 1812.
Until the Dissolution Roxton Church follows the same history as that of Bromham (q.v.). In 1546 it was granted to Trinity College, Cambridge, (fn. 113) who have held it until the present day. In 1736 it was attached to Great Barford. (fn. 114) The rectory was valued at £14 at the Dissolution. (fn. 115)