A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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CARDINGTON with EASTCOTTS
Cardington is an extensive parish, covering nearly 5,339 acres, of which 1,480¾ acres are arable land, 1,146 acres are permanent grass and 14 acres woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The parish is watered by Cardington Brook, a feeder of the Ouse. The land slopes from the south-east (where it is 276 ft. above the ordnance datum) to the north, which lies low and is subject to floods. The soil is principally gravel and clay, the chief crops produced being wheat, barley, beans, peas, potatoes and turnips.
The village occupies a west central position in the parish, and is grouped around a central village green. The parish church of St. Mary is on the east of this green, and further north is Howard Villa, for several years the residence of John Howard, the philanthropist. There are several 18th-century houses on the south side of the green, and a few half-timbered cottages are scattered through the village. The Bedford and Hitchin branch of the Midland Railway has a station at the western extremity of the village, where many modern cottages have recently sprung up. Part of the old stone manor farm is still to be seen some three-quarters of a mile south of the village of Cardington on the Warden road. It is surrounded by an extensive moat.
In the village is the Howard Reading Room, which was erected on the occasion of the centenary of John Howard's death by Mr. Samuel Whitbread of Southill Park. On the banks of the Ouse in the north of the parish is the old Cardington Mill, south of which is Cardington Cross, erected in 1837 by William Henry Whitbread. An earlier one dating from 1796, of which the octagonal base and part of the shaft are still to be seen, formerly stood in the corner of a field between the two Bedford roads.
Chapel End is an outlying part of the village with farms and two chapels, one of which is a Wesleyan chapel erected in 1823, and the other a small chapel in connexion with the Bunyan Meeting. (fn. 2)
Cotton End is a scattered hamlet with a school on the London road and a farm of the same name at the extreme south of the hamlet. The large Baptist chapel at Cotton End was founded in 1777, and kept a non-parochial register between the years 1796 and 1837. (fn. 3)
Harrowden and Fenlake are small hamlets lying in the north-west of the parish, and in the former there is a Wesleyan chapel. Harrowden is approached from Bedford by a small private road running south from the road to London. This road crosses the railway and two brooks and becomes a pleasant lane bounded on either side by hedges and high trees with occasional houses and cottages scattered along the sides. It runs into Cardington and joins the road between the village and the Bedford to Roxton road. In the yard of a homestead at the west end of the lane there is a small square plastered pigeon-house with a tile roof, while near a large modern farm-house on the south side of the lane after crossing the London road there is a more ornate structure built of brick with a tile roof, the hips being carried to an apex from which project four small triangular gables. Through the bottom of these gables and through circular openings in their vertical faces the pigeons have access to the interior.
A little lace-making is still done in the parish. An Industrial school, in which, among other things, lace-making was taught, was started by Miss Whitbread at the end of the 19th century, but it was afterwards abandoned. Mrs. Berrington, a famous centenarian lace-worker, died in 1909. There is now no straw-plaiting in the parish.
In the middle of the hamlet of Cotton End, standing back on the east side of the road, is the late 16th-century manor-house now used as a farm building. It is built of brick with stone dressings, and was originally of H-shaped plan with a projecting central porch and inclosing brick garden walls coming down to the roadway, but the south wing of the building has now entirely disappeared and parts of the garden walls are missing, while a small out-house has been added at the back. The house is otherwise in a good state, although many of the stone mullions have been restored and partitions erected in some of the large rooms. To the north of the entrance porch which led into the hall is a partition dividing it from the servants' quarters, while on the south the north wall of the destroyed wing separated the hall from the living rooms. The hall fireplace was in the middle of the east wall between two mullioned and transomed windows, each of two lights, and on the west was a three-light window of similar character. In the partition on the north side were three doors, of which two still remain. The centre one led down into the cellars, the eastern one up a few steps into a large pantry, while the third opened into a wide passage leading along the front of the house to the staircase and kitchen, and was lighted by a window similar to that on the other side of the porch. The kitchen was in the north-east corner of the building, while in the front were an inclosed staircase and a small panelled room opening from the kitchen. On the first floor were two bedrooms, one over the kitchen and the other over the panelled room, while above the whole of the hall block was a large gallery, now divided into compartments, lighted from both sides, with a fireplace on the east and a most elaborate panelled plaster ceiling with a frieze of amorini with grapes and foliage. Down the middle of the ceiling are five geometrical panels, the central one having a shield of arms, a cheveron ermine between three hunting horns impaling an escallop, while in the others are Scriptural subjects; the panels round the border contain fleurs de lis, pomegranates, birds and foliage. The staircase continued up to some garrets above. The elevation to the roof was symmetrically designed, the projecting end block having a gable coped with stone, while the chimneys are of brick with moulded capitals and bases.
In 1400 Pope Boniface IX issued an indulgence for the repair of the wooden bridges of Cardington and Harrowden. (fn. 6)
The parish of Cardington was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1802, (fn. 7) and the three hamlets of Cotton End, Harrowden and Fenlake, while remaining ecclesiastically annexed to Cardington, have been formed for civil purposes into a separate parish under the name of Eastcotts, according to the provisions of the Local Government Act of 1894.
In 1086 Hugh de Beauchamp held 6½ hides and two-thirds of a virgate in Cardington which had formerly belonged to thirteen sokemen. (fn. 8) This estate follows the same descent as the barony of Bedford (q.v.). On the partition of the lands of John de Beauchamp, who was slain at Evesham in 1265, the manor was subdivided; the principal portion, known as CARDINGTON MANOR, passed to Joan daughter of Ela de Beauchamp, who married, first, Michael Picot, and afterwards Ralph Paynell. (fn. 9) The latter died seised of the manor, and was succeeded about 1318 by John Picot son of Baldwin, and probably nephew of Joan's first husband. (fn. 10) John Picot died in 1336–7, when his son John succeeded him. (fn. 11) After his death in 1361 his wife Isabel held the manor until 1375, when she was succeeded by her son Baldwin Picot. His daughter and heir Dorothy married James Gascoigne, son of the well-known judge, and the manor passed to the Gascoigne family. (fn. 12) Sir William Gascoigne, grandson of the judge and Controller of the Household to Cardinal Wolsey, died in 1540. (fn. 13) His son Sir John Gascoigne made various settlements of the manor previous to his death in 1568, after which date his wife Margaret Gascoigne held Cardington for her life, and was succeeded by her son John, who held in 1586. (fn. 14) John Gascoigne left two daughters and co-heirs: Dorothy wife of Sir Gerard Harvey of Thurleigh, and Elizabeth wife of Sir George Blundell. (fn. 15) Cardington Manor passed to Elizabeth, whose husband died in 1627, and remained in the Blundell family for more than a hundred years, passing from Sir George Blundell, who died in 1688, to his only son George, who died in 1709. Another George Blundell owned it in 1731, and died in 1756, (fn. 16) and the manor was purchased from William Nailour Blundell and Mary Nailour, who derived title under his will, in 1769 by Samuel Whitbread, who died in 1796. (fn. 17) It has since followed the same descent as that of Old Warden (q.v.), the present owner being Mr. Samuel Whitbread of Southill Park.
Courts leet pertained to Cardington Manor. (fn. 18) The right of free warren was allowed to William de Beauchamp in 1287, and was confirmed to his descendants in 1304 and 1329. (fn. 19) Assize of bread and ale was also claimed in 1287 and 1330. (fn. 20)
Tithes of Cardington water-mills were granted by Simon de Beauchamp to Newnham Priory. These mills remained in the possession of the lord of the manor, and one is still in use. (fn. 21) In it there is a stone slab recording that it was rebuilt by Samuel Whitbread in 1786 with Smeaton as engineer, that it was destroyed by fire in 1823, and rebuilt by William Henry Whitbread the next year, and that it was again destroyed by fire in 1840, and again rebuilt by William Henry Whitbread in the same year. (fn. 22)
The land later known as WAKE MANOR became the property of Ida, another daughter of Ela de Beauchamp, who married John de Steyngreve. It followed the same descent as Wake Manor in Bromham (q.v.), passing from the Steyngreves to the Patishulls and the Wakes, but after the death of Sir Thomas Wake in 1458 no further mention has been found of this property, which may have become absorbed in the larger manor of Cardington. (fn. 23)
The inheritance of Beatrice, the youngest sister of John de Beauchamp, formed a third CARDINGTON MANOR. (fn. 24) This followed the same descent as Bromham Manor (q.v.), passing to John de Botetourt, her son-in-law, and later to the Latimers and Nevills of Raby until the death of Sir John Nevill Lord Latimer in 1577, (fn. 25) when his Cardington property passed to his second daughter Dorothy, the wife of Thomas Earl of Exeter. The latter died in 1622–3, and was succeeded by his son William, who died in 1640. His nephew and heir, David Earl of Exeter, died three years later seised of lands in Cardington, (fn. 26) but no further trace of the manor has been found. Exeter Wood and land forming part of the estate were purchased by Samuel Charles Whitbread in 1879 from Lord Exeter. (fn. 27)
In 1086 Nigel de Albini held a manor of 6 hides in Harrowden, which 14 sokemen held freely under King Edward the Confessor. (fn. 28) From its after-history it is clear that the Albini land lay chiefly in Cotes, represented by the modern hamlet of Cardington Cotton End, and the overlordship of the barony of Cainhoe (q.v.), of which it formed a part, is traceable until 1541. (fn. 29) The manor of COTES alias COTTON alias EASTCOTTS alias CARDINGTON COTTON END followed the same descent as that of Clophill (q.v.) until the death of Robert de Albini in 1233, when it was divided between his three sisters Isabel, Ascelina and Joan. (fn. 30) Ralph de St. Amand, husband of Joan, and Isabel de Albini held here by knight service in the 13th century, (fn. 31) but the manor eventually passed to Almaric son of Joan and Ralph St. Amand, and followed the same descent as Millbrook (q.v.). (fn. 32) From the St. Amands it passed, as in the case of the second manor of Blunham, through the Braybrookes, the Beauchamp St. Amands to George Lord Cobham, who made various settlements of his property about 1534. (fn. 33) It was settled in 1536 by Richard Osbaldiston on his wife Dorothy, who died in 1541, four months after her husband, and was succeeded by his son John. (fn. 34) The latter alienated Eastcotts Manor in 1544 to Sir John Gascoigne, (fn. 35) who appears to have mortgaged it about 1566 to Thomas Colby of London, (fn. 36) an action which was fruitful in law-suits. Colby's interest in the manor eventually descended to his daughter Dorothy and her husband Philip Lord Wharton, who conveyed it by fine for £600 between the years 1612 and 1613 to Robert Mildmay and John Cason. (fn. 37) A further alienation took place, for in 1633 Sir Arthur Savage died seised of the manor, and was succeeded by his son Thomas, (fn. 38) but by 1693 it was in the possession of Charles Palmer, who bought it from Laurence Purchase. In 1770 the manor belonged to another Charles Palmer, (fn. 39) whose daughter and heir Dorothy sold it in 1779 for £4,000 to Samuel Whitbread of Cardington, (fn. 40) since which time the descent has remained in the Whitbread family, (fn. 41) following that of the principal manor of Cardington. Manorial courts were held twice a year at this manor during the 15th century, the roll for the year 1454–5 being at the present time in the British Museum, (fn. 42) but no later reference to these courts has been found.
The rights of the assize of bread and ale were claimed in Cotes under Edward I and free warren under Henry IV. (fn. 43)
The value of the manor was estimated in 1310 at £9 5s. 8d., in 1400 at £15, in 1427 at £22 8s., and in 1541 at 20 marks beyond reprises. (fn. 44)
A fifth manor in this parish, that of FENLAKE BARNS alias CARDINGTON PRIORS or REGINE, has its origin in the 3 hides which the canons of Bedford held of the Countess Judith in Harrowden and which Azelin had owned before the Conquest. (fn. 45) This land evidently passed to the barony of Bedford, for 3 hides in Harrowden together with Cardington Church formed part of the endowment of Newnham Priory by Simon de Beauchamp c. 1166. (fn. 46) In 1291 the priory possessions in Eastcotts, Fenlake and Harrowden were valued at £1 15s. 4d., (fn. 47) and many small grants were afterwards made in all these places. (fn. 48) The manor of Fenlake Barns owed service to the barony of Cainhoe in 1346, in 1428 to the barony of Bedford. (fn. 49)
The priors of Newnham held the view of frankpledge twice a year at Fenlake Barns, and several references are made to this court in the cartulary of the priory, (fn. 50) while the right of free warren in Cardington and Eastcotts was granted by Richard II in 1385. (fn. 51) Fenlake Barns belonged to the priory at the Dissolution, when its value was estimated at £12 11s. 3¾d. (fn. 52) It remained in the possession of the Crown, who leased it at various times. Thomas Colby held it on lease c. 1579, (fn. 53) but in 1599 it was granted to Michael and Edward Stanhope, (fn. 54) who must have sold it soon afterwards, since Henry Foster owned it at his death in 1625. (fn. 55) He was succeeded by his son John, whose will was proved in 1658, and whose son, another John, died without issue in 1667, when his brother Charles succeeded to the property. His death in 1669 was followed almost immediately by that of his mother Rebecca Foster and his sister Martha, co-legatees with his sisters Elizabeth and Mary. (fn. 56) In 1718 Fenlake Barns belonged to John White, who conveyed it in that year to Thomas Bedford and Martha his wife. (fn. 57) The Rev. Thomas Bedford, to whom it had descended under the will of his grandfather's widow, sold it in 1779 for £720 to Samuel Whitbread, whose ancestors had lived in Cardington from the earlier half of the previous century. (fn. 58) The manor has remained in the Whitbread family, (fn. 59) following the same descent as Cardington Manor (q.v.).
A sixth manor in this parish, that of EASTCOTTS, belonged to Sopwell Priory, near St. Albans, in Hertfordshire, and originated in a grant of 2 hides of land made to that foundation in the time of Henry I by Henry de Albini and his wife Cicely. This grant was confirmed by Henry's son Robert when his sister Amicia became a novice at the priory. Another virgate was granted by Robert when his second sister Cecily followed the example of Amicia. (fn. 60) Sopwell Priory retained the manor until the Dissolution, when it was worth £4 6s. 8d. (fn. 61) Half of this manor was granted in 1544 to Sir Richard Lee, (fn. 62) but after this subdivision no further trace of it has been found.
A third tenant in Harrowden, who is mentioned in the Domesday Survey, was Ernui the priest. He could not prove livery or show writ, but he took possession of 1 hide of land, to the king's hurt, which his father, who was a man of King Edward, had held before him. (fn. 63)
Warden Abbey held land in Eastcotts granted in 1236 by Ralph de St. Amand, (fn. 64) which was granted to John Gostwick at the Dissolution. (fn. 65) Elstow Abbey also owned land held by knight service of the barony of Cainhoe, (fn. 66) which was worth £1 1s. 0½d. at the Dissolution. (fn. 67) In 1377 the hospital of St. Leonard, Bedford, received a small grant of land in Cardington. (fn. 68)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN was entirely rebuilt in 1898–1902 with the exception of the chancel. It consists of chancel with north and south chapels, nave with aisles and north transept, south porch and west tower.
A few relics of the old church, which was most unnecessarily destroyed, are built into the modern walls. The tower arch is made up with the voussoirs of a 12th-century arch, retooled and with a false order cut on them. There are two 13th-century capitals in the nave arcades. The south doorways of the nave and south chapel and the north windows of the north chapel are 15th-century work, and the chancel walls and arcades, as already noted, are the only part of the old building left in position. These arcades, of two bays each side, are early 16th-century work, with four-centred moulded arches, the east bay in each arcade being taken up by a canopied 16th-century tomb, with archways to the chapels at the west end of the tombs. On the northern tomb is the very beautiful brass of Sir William Gascoigne and his two wives. He wears a tabard of his arms, and the wives' mantles are also heraldic. On the cornice of the tomb are a vine-trail and the Gascoigne crest, a luce's head erect between two ostrich feathers, and in the middle a shield with Gascoigne quartering Pigott and Beauchamp. On the north side is a second shield with Gascoigne impaling a fesse indented. Sir W. Gascoigne was controller of Wolsey's household. (fn. 69) Against the east side of the monument is an inscription to Cecill Bussy (only son of Andrew son of John Bussy of Hather, Lincs.), 1632, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Gerrard Hervey of Cardington, with a shield of the arms of Bussy quarterly, 1 and 4, Argent three bars sable, for Bussy, 2 and 3, Gules a fesse indented argent in a border engrailed or, for Nevill, impaling the arms of Hervey quartered with Nernuite, Gascoigne and Pigott. The tomb on the south side of the chancel is of the same character and date, and bears the arms of Hervey impaling Gascoigne, with the crest of Gascoigne in the cornice, and the letters W. B. on either side of the arms. In the 17th century the tomb was appropriated by Sir Jarrate Hervey, 1638, a slab of polished limestone bearing the brass figures of himself and his wife Dorothy Gascoigne being set on the tomb, with pairs of Doric pilasters at either end. The shield on the cornice has the quartered coat of Harvey and Nernuite impaling the quartered coat of Gascoigne, Pigott, Wake, Beauchamp, Vinter and Scargill.
In the transept are several white marble monuments to the Whitbread family, and in the wall at the east end of the south chapel are several 13th-century coffin lids and an earlier cross slab with panels of interlacing work of 10th or 11th-century date. Old piscinæ are reset in the chancel and both chapels. There is in the north chapel a disused 16th-century communion table which has been cut short at some time, mutilating an inscription which runs round the top and bottom rails: 'Thoma[s] Watts Deo dica [vit et] Templo [donav] it. Probet se ipsum [h]omo et sic de pan [e illo] edat et de [calice] bibat 157.' The font is modern, but there is in the church a curious font, apparently of black glazed pottery, dating from c. 1800, and ornamented with classical figures and ornament of very delicate and well-modelled character.
Cardington Church was included in the foundation charter of Simon de Beauchamp to Newnham Priory about 1166 (fn. 70) and was named in the confirmation charters of William de Beauchamp, of Henry II, and of Thomas Mowbray Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 71) It remained in the possession of the priory until the Dissolution, when the advowson was worth £7 17s. and the rectory £24. (fn. 72) In 1546 the Crown granted both rectory and advowson to Trinity College, Cambridge, who owned them until 1902. (fn. 73) They were then purchased by Mr. Samuel Whitbread, who exercises the right of presentation at the present day. (fn. 74)
The fraternity of Blunham owned one messuage given for an obit worth 2s. 4d. yearly and 3 acres of land valued at 2s. yearly, both of which were in the tenure of the churchwardens. (fn. 75) Newnham paid 18d. yearly to the churchwardens to provide one lamp in perpetuity in the church of Cardington. (fn. 76)
In 1661 Thomas Forster devised a close containing 9 acres or there-abouts, at Cotton End, formerly known as Bates's Close, but now as Town Close, and let at £18 a year, for the poor of the township of Eastcotts (see below), subject, under the will of his uncle, Thomas Forster, 1647, to the payment of £5 a year for the poor of Cardington. The annuity together with 5s. a year from a cottage at Wilstead in respect of John Canning Howard's charity, and 10s. a year in respect of Whiteman's charity, received from Samuel Whitbread, is distributed at Christmas time in coals. In 1908 sixty-seven families received 1½ cwts. of coal each.
In 1697 Stephen Whitbread by his will devised a house to be occupied by a widow not receiving parish relief. The house was burnt down and rebuilt by John Howard, the philanthropist, as two cottages, which are occupied by two widows who pay 6d. a week each as rent, which is applied in keeping the cottages in repair.
The Whitbread Almshouses.
Samuel Whitbread by deed dated 18 June 1788 (enrolled) settled a fee-farm rent of £78 6s. 2¾d. issuing out of the manor of Shillington, subject to the payment there-out of £10 yearly to the schoolmaster at Luton under the will of Roger Gillingham, as an endowment of four dwelling-houses erected by him on the Green as almshouses for poor decayed house-keepers, widowers, widows or single persons, regular attendants on public worship, of sixty years of age or upwards, who had resided in the parish for twenty years or upwards; the number of inmates not to be less than four or more than eight. The fee-farm rent is also subject to deduction for land tax. In 1906 a sum of £115 5s. 6d. consols stood in the names of the trustees; an allowance of £20 16s. was made to four widows, £2 2s. to an attendant, together with a supply of coal and clothing.
In 1888 the Rev. Maurice Farrell by will proved in London 2 August (among other charitable legacies) bequeathed a legacy for the poor of this parish, now represented by £100 consols, with the official trustees; the dividends of £2 10s. are in pursuance of a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 16 January 1891 applied in the distribution of clothing.
The Baptist chapel and trust property at the hamlet of Cotton End, comprised in deeds of 1755, 1807 and 1846, consist of three cottages and about 5 acres, producing £18 a year, £586 16s. 2d. consols, arising from sales of land in 1873 and 1874, £150 consols derived under the will of Elizabeth Whiteman, proved in the P.C.C. 12 July 1803, and £100 consols by will of George Brooks, 1817. The sums of stock are held by the official trustees, producing in dividends £20 18s. 4d. a year, which with the rents augmented by pew rents and collections and £5 from Elizabeth Priest's charity (see under Bedford), were in 1906 sufficient to pay to the pastor £100 and the chapel-keeper £5.
Charity of Thomas Forster (see above under Cardington parish).w
In 1906 the yearly rent of the Town Close in Eastcotts, amounting to £13 after payment of £5 to the poor of Cardington, was, together with 5s. from the cottage of Wilstead in respect of Howard's charity and £1 10s. received from Samuel Whitbread out of land in Cardington known as Harlestone's charity, applied in the distribution of £2 2s. to twenty-one poor widows and in gifts of money to 652 recipients.