A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Northill is a large parish of 4,140 acres, watered by a feeder of the River Ivel, which itself forms the eastern boundary of the parish. The land lies low, the highest point above the ordnance datum being 205 ft. in the west, the lowest 74 ft. in the north. The soil is clay and gravel, the chief crops being wheat, oats, barley, beans, peas and market gardening produce. Arable land covers 2,142 acres, permanent grass 753 and woods and plantations 271½ acres. (fn. 1) Northill is served by the Great Northern railway, the nearest station being Biggleswade, 3¾ miles off.
The village of Northill in the west of the parish is comparatively small; the fine church of St. Mary, once collegiate, stands in the centre, and grouped near are the rectory, schools and Grange. To the south of the village is Ickwell Bury, occupied by Mr. John Cunningham Thomson as a preparatory school for boys, standing in large grounds; it is built of brick, and the oldest part of the present house was put up in 1683; the walls finish with a brick cornice decorated with balusters. Part of the stables was also built in 1683, and over the roof of this portion is a square tiled clock turret, surmounted by a small cupola on eight Doric columns. Over the entrance to these stables from the courtyard is a shield of arms, a cheveron between three talbots' heads with three trefoils on the cheveron impaling three voided lozenges on a bend. At later dates wings have been added to the house and other alterations made. In the interior some of the rooms have ceilings decorated with very elaborate and rich plaster-work, and in one room is a finely carved wood panel, formerly hidden by plaster. There is an open staircase round a square well with spiral balusters, which dates from 1683. In the grounds is the site of an older building, all traces of which have disappeared, and the moat which surrounded it is now filled up, though it was visible until quite recently. There remains an old octagonal pigeon-house built of brick with a tiled roof, with two dormers and two small gable lights. In the interior is an upright post that revolves, with timber framing attached for reaching the holes, of which there are fourteen rings, each containing fifty-six holes.
East of Ickwell Bury is the hamlet of Ickwell, with a spacious village green where until recently stood a maypole, the scene of annual village revels. Tradition says that an ancient farm-house by the green marks the site of the college. (fn. 2) Ickwell House, also called the Old House, in the south of the hamlet, was once surrounded by a moat, but is now quite modernized. It is the residence of Captain Tippinge.
East of Ickwell is the hamlet of Upper Caldecote, with All Saints' Church, a chapel of ease to the parish church, consecrated in 1868. Caldecote Lodge, the principal house and residence of Mr. Glynn Taddy, is north-east of the church. In the south of the hamlet is a green, round which are grouped the manor farm, a public-house, and various cottages. Lower Caldecote is a small outlying district lying farther to the north-east.
Other hamlets in the parish are Thorncote, consisting of a few plaster and tile cottages grouped round a triangular green, Hatch with an old farmhouse and a few cottages, Brook End and Budna, which are in the north of the parish. Beeston in the north-east, partly in Sandy parish, is rapidly growing owing to the development of market gardening in the surrounding country. Round the green, which seems to be a distinctive feature of the hamlets in this parish, are many cottages, modern brick and slate intermingling with the old thatched ones. Beeston completes the tale of seven hamlets composing this scattered parish, which are described in the 16th century in the following manner: 'Two of them be ¾ mile from the church and every [one] of them as distant from other, and other two hamlets be a mile distant from church and every one of them as far distant from the other.' (fn. 3)
Traces of Roman remains have been discovered in 1845 and again in 1881. (fn. 4)
The parish was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1780, whilst a small portion was included with Blunham in 1796. (fn. 5) Under the provisions of the Divided Parishes Act in 1882 Beeston, a detached part of Sandy, was added to Northill, and a detached part of Northill was transferred to Sandy for civil purposes.
The following place-names have been found:— Astonthorn, Blunt's Headland, Bodenhollfeld, Clayhull, Long Drimell, Drew's Wood, Dam Acre or Dame Margaret's Holme, Entellhedelond, le Heychal, Loaddenhooclose, Orrell, Pollyesland, Sollchiscroft, Syresholme, Wolmeres, le Wowelond.
At the time of the Domesday Survey NORTHILL MANOR, then assessed at 6½ hides, was held by William Espec or Spech. (fn. 6) Its early descent is the same as Old Warden (q.v.) until the death of Walter Espec in 1183, when it passed to his second sister and co-heir Albreda wife of Nicholas de Trailly. The manor formed part of the barony of Warden, (fn. 7) and while it may be noted that it was held as a dower manor in 1185 by Mary de Trailly widow of Geoffrey de Trailly, (fn. 8) and for some years between 1248 and 1272 by William de la Zouche, second husband of Maud widow of John de Trailly, (fn. 9) yet in the main it followed the same descent as that of Yelden (q.v.) (fn. 10) until Reginald, the last of the Traillys, alienated it in 1401 to Sir Gerard Braybrooke, the younger, and others (with the exception of 1 acre reserved so that Reginald might still remain king's tenant (fn. 11)). They acted as executors after Reginald's death in the following year, and an alienation appears to have taken place about this time probably to John de Meppershall, for in 1428 Henry Godfrey held the property as part of the inheritance of his wife Joan, who was daughter of John de Meppershall. (fn. 12) Richard Godfrey, their son, succeeded his mother in 1460, and his wife Elizabeth was buried in 1492 in the chancel of Northill Church. (fn. 13) Richard Godfrey left daughters as co-heirs and his property in Northill became divided (see Carminos Manor), and Northill Manor descended to Richard Harding, who was in possession in 1584. (fn. 14) He was one of the Bedfordshire contributors to the defence of the country at the time of the Spanish Armada and died in 1600, being succeeded by his son Lewis, to whom livery of the manor was granted nine years later. (fn. 15) Lewis died in 1616 and was buried at Northill. Elizabeth, his daughter and heir, married Edward Kent in 1624, and entered into possession of Northill Manor the following year. (fn. 16) No later reference to her has been found, but in 1652 Thomas Ellis conveyed the manor to Thomas Bromsall. (fn. 17) It remained in his family for some time, passing in the next century to the Robinsons of Denston Hall, Suffolk, apparently through the marriage of John Robinson with Frances Bromsall, an heiress of the Bromsalls, of which family the last reputed heir male, Owen Thomas Bromsall, was buried at Northill in 1731. (fn. 18) John Robinson, a descendant of John and Frances Robinson, was in possession of Northill Manor at the time of his death in 1772, his widow being lady of the manor in 1780. Their son John having obtained leave by Act of Parliament to sell the family estates in Bedfordshire, this manor was purchased in 1802 by John Harvey of Ickwell Bury, in whose family it still remains, the present owner being his grandson, Mr. John Edmund Audley Harvey. (fn. 19)
The yearly value of the manor of Northill in 1185 was estimated at £14; in 1319, during the minority of the third Walter de Trailly, at £9 14s. 6d.; in 1401, after the death of the last John de Trailly, (fn. 20) at 40 marks (fn. 21); in 1802 at £612 10s., when it comprised 663 a. 1 r. 3 p. of arable land, meadow, pasture and woodland, the greater part of which was distributed among four large farms. (fn. 22) The right of free warren in Northill was granted in 1271 to John de Trailly and his heirs, (fn. 23) and was claimed by Walter de Trailly in the time of Edward III. (fn. 24) The court leet and view of frankpledge once pertaining to the manor of Northill, formerly part of the possessions of Henry and Richard Godfrey, were granted in 1589 to Walter Coppinger and Thomas Butler. (fn. 25) Free fishery, liberty of foldage and view of frankpledge in Northill were enumerated as manorial rights in the 17th century. (fn. 26) A windmill was named in connexion with the manor in 1290, (fn. 27) but no later reference to it has been found.
The RECTORY, afterwards NORTHILL COLLEGE MANOR, was an important manor in Northill. In the time of Edward III Roger de Lameleye, parson of Northill Church, claimed view of frankpledge over all lands pertaining to the glebe of the church, stating that his predecessors had been seised of these liberties from time immemorial. (fn. 28) When Northill parish church became collegiate in 1404 Sir Gerard Braybrooke and the other executors of Sir John and Sir Reginald Trailly obtained a licence to appropriate it in mortmain in aid of the maintenance of Northill College. (fn. 29) The rector was created master of the college, and so the Rectory Manor became the College Manor, (fn. 30) which was further increased in 1518–19 by Edward Stacy's grant of land to the college, of which particulars will be found under Beeston. At the Dissolution Northill College Manor passed to the Crown, and in 1549 it was granted to Sir William Fitz William, who died in 1559, being succeeded by his widow, the Lady Joan. (fn. 31) After her death in 1575 the manor, which was held of the queen in chief for one-hundredth part of a knight's fee, was divided between Sir Thomas Browne, who had married Mabel, (fn. 32) one of the daughters and co-heirs of Sir William Fitz William, and his other surviving daughters, Katherine wife of Christopher Viscount Gormanston, Elizabeth wife of Innocent Rede and Elizabeth wife of Francis Jermy. (fn. 33) Sir Thomas Browne acquired two of the last three moieties in 1577 and 1580 respectively, and Katherine died without issue, (fn. 34) so that eventually the whole of the manor reverted to Richard Browne son of Sir Thomas, who was in possession in 1597. (fn. 35) In 1610 he sold the manor to Edward Osborne of the Inner Temple, second son of Sir Edward Osborne, who held it until his death in 1625, and was succeeded by his son, another Edward, also of the Inner Temple, who in 1651 suffered a recovery. (fn. 36) He was buried at Northill in 1679, leaving his property, which in his will was no longer called Northill Manor, to his grand-niece Elizabeth Osborne. (fn. 37) During the next century the Osborne estate must have become quite dispersed, and no reference is found to it when the parish was inclosed in 1780, with the interesting exception that College Farm was in the possession of John Harvey of Ickwell Bury. (fn. 38)
St. Anne's Farm at Thorncote, which belonged to St. Anne's Chantry (see below), is named in the Court Roll of Northill College Manor in 1381 as being in the tenure of one William Feevell. (fn. 39) In 1548 it consisted of 64 acres of land and 4 acres of meadow and was in the tenure of John Rysley, who paid a yearly rent of £2 14s. 4d. (fn. 40) The steward of the manor, at a court held in 1612, stated that one Ferneslie or Verneslie dwelt at St. Anne's Farm and that the croft near was called after his name. (fn. 41)
A manuscript book of Northill College Manor, which is extant, contains a brief history of it between the years 1380 and 1612 with catalogues of Court Rolls (most of which are preserved in the Public Record Office) and rentals and of the names of tenants with notes of the tenures, rents and services of each. In the earliest existing Court Roll, that of 1381, William Borstall, the rector, as lord of the manor held a court leet and court baron in the parsonage-house. Heriots were due to the lord. (fn. 42) A survey of the college in 1535 shows that the manor consisted then of a mansion-house called the City, 80 acres of arable land, twelve small pastures and meadow land, with Drew's Wood (demised in 1536 to the Abbot of Warden for forty years for a yearly rent of 10s.). (fn. 43) Stacy's Wood and another small wood provided with the hedgerows an abundant supply of firewood. The college had the right of keeping on the town commons 300 sheep and other animals. (fn. 44) A mill and mill-house stood within the precincts of the college, which were leased in 1545 to William Wood for twenty-one years at 13s. 4d. rent, but no further mention of them has been found. (fn. 45)
No reference is made in Domesday to the hamlets of Ickwell or Caldecote, but Eudo son of Hubert owned 3 hides of land in Northill, which were afterwards included in these hamlets. Of these 3 hides 1½ were tenanted by Ralf, (fn. 46) and became known later as ICKWELL or ICKWELL BURY MANOR, being attached to the barony of Eaton (fn. 47) (q.v.) in common with other estates formerly belonging to Eudo in Bedfordshire. Before 1284 this manor, by the gift of William Hobcote, belonged to the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem, who paid sixths from it to the county and the hundred. (fn. 48) It remained in the possession of the Hospitallers, (fn. 49) and after the Dissolution was granted by the Crown in 1543 to John Barnardiston and his wife Joan. (fn. 50) The former died in 1587 and was succeeded by his grandson Robert, who died at Ickwell Bury in 1631. (fn. 51) Robert's son Henry died in 1640 and Henry's son Robert in 1652 suffered a recovery of the manor; but in 1680 with his son George conveyed it to John Harvey. (fn. 52) Since this time the Harvey family in the direct line have continued in possession of Ickwell Bury Manor, (fn. 53) the present representative being Mr. John Edmund Audley Harvey, lord of the manor of Northill.
In 1639 Ickwell Bury Manor comprised 487 acres lying together, with the exception of about 96 acres in the common fields, worth in all £404 15s. 4d., with timber and woods worth £400, while Bowells-fields lying in the adjoining parish of Old Warden were worth an additional £60 6s. 8d. On this estate there were two freeholders but no copy-holder. (fn. 54)
The Old House at Ickwell Green, which was leased to John Corker in 1639, (fn. 55) afterwards came into the possession of Humphrey Fish, probably through his mother Margaret, daughter of John Barnardiston. (fn. 56) He died in 1647, leaving his property to his brother Henry, representatives of whose family, Humphrey Fish, senior, and Humphrey Fish, junior, were commissioners of the land tax for Bedfordshire in 1707. (fn. 57) The latter died in 1720, being the last heir male of his family and an octogenarian, and was buried at Northill. (fn. 58) His descendants on the female side, Henry and Charles Fish Palmer, are named in the Inclosure Act of 1780, (fn. 59) and the estate remained in their family, (fn. 60) the last member of which, Lady Madeline Palmer, died in 1840, when it was bought by John Harvey, father of the present owner, Mr. John Edmund Audley Harvey.
The Prior of St. John of Jerusalem claimed view of frankpledge in Caldecote, Ickwell and Caldecote, (fn. 61) which with a court leet was granted in 1543 to John Barnardiston. (fn. 62) In 1676 the right of holding a fair on Ickwell Green on 25, 26 and 27 March (and if one of these days happened to be a Sunday then on the Monday following) was granted to George Barnardiston and his heirs. (fn. 63) One of Lysons' correspondents stated in 1812 that Ickwell fair had been transferred to Beeston, but no other reference to it has been found. (fn. 64)
The lords of the manor of Ickwell Bury claimed a right of way to Northill Church, which about 1550 involved John Barnardiston in a lawsuit. (fn. 65)
In 1086 Pirot held the other 1½ hides of Eudo, (fn. 66) part of which in 1284–6 was held by Thomas de Kancia, (fn. 67) and became known later as CARMINOS or LOWER CALDECOTE MANOR. It was held of the barony of Eaton, and the last reference to the overlordship is in 1428. (fn. 68) John de Carmino, who gave his name to this manor, succeeding James de Kancia, probably the son of Thomas, was in possession in 1316, (fn. 69) and was followed by his wife Joan, who was lady of Carminos in 1346 and 1350. (fn. 70) In 1360–1 Ralph son and heir of Walter de Carmino, and probably the grandson of Joan, granted his manor to Ralph Restwold, who a few years later alienated it to Richard de Craunfeld. (fn. 71) Before 1428 it had passed to Henry Godfrey, (fn. 72) then lord of the manor of Northill, whose granddaughter Elizabeth with her husband, Randall Borough, sold the reversion to Thomas Chibnall, and he to John Poley in 1556. (fn. 73) The latter died in 1558 and was succeeded by his son Francis, who died ten years later, leaving as heir an infant daughter Alice, who married Robert Reade. (fn. 74) In 1588 Robert and Alice alienated their manor to George Mordaunt and Cecilia his wife. (fn. 75) The Mordaunts retained the manor for nearly 100 years, George Mordaunt, the grandson of George and Cecilia, owning it in 1657, (fn. 76) but it passed from them when it was conveyed to William Atkins and others in 1685–6. (fn. 77) The later history of Lower Caldecote Manor is obscure, but Lysons states in 1813 that it had been more than a century in the family of John Harvey, its proprietor at that date. (fn. 78) Since then its descent has been the same as Northill Manor, Mr. John Edmund Audley Harvey being its present owner.
CALDECOTE MANOR was another manor in Caldecote and Ickwell, which probably consisted of lands formerly belonging to Northill Manor, the possession of which was claimed by Warden Abbey from the 12th century. In 1252 free warren was granted to the abbot in the woods belonging to the granges of Caldecote, and this right and that of view of frankpledge were asserted under Edward III. (fn. 79) The manor remained with the abbey until the Dissolution. (fn. 80) In 1564 it was granted to Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, (fn. 81) and subsequently came into the possession of George Fish of Southill, who died seised of it in 1603. (fn. 82) In 1674 it was owned by John Moore and Mary his wife, who quitclaimed it to Nicholas Ratchford. (fn. 83) In the reigns of William III and Anne George Vaughan possessed the manor, but in 1714 it was conveyed to trustees for the use of Mrs. Stukeley, sister-in-law of Sir George Byng, (fn. 84) and was owned by his grandson George fourth Lord Torrington in 1776. (fn. 85) It was probably purchased from him by Thomas Smith of Gray's Inn, in whose possession it was early in the 19th century. (fn. 86) Caldecote Manor afterwards passed to the Thornton family, Col. Godfrey Thornton owning it in 1821, (fn. 87) after which date its identity as an independent manor has not been preserved.
Cook's alias Butler's Farm, of which Nicholas Cook died seised in 1561, was named two years later as having formed part of the possessions of Warden Abbey, while some of the abbey farms in Ickwell are specified as the property of William Scroggs, who died in 1606. (fn. 88)
Views of frankpledge were held twice yearly at Caldecote, of which Court Rolls are preserved at the Public Record Office for the latter years of Henry VIII. (fn. 89) Court leet and free warren in Caldecote were included in the grant made to Robert Earl of Leicester. (fn. 90)
The origin of a fourth manor in Caldecote and Ickwell, that of UPPER CALDECOTE, formerly BLUNDELLS alias HARTSHORNE, is obscure. The land which John Blundel owned in 1381 was held of Northill Rectory Manor, (fn. 91) but the tenure of Blundells was stated in 1558 to be unknown, while Hartshorne Farm in Ickwell, (fn. 92) then apparently not included in the manor, was held of the king by knight service in 1561 and 1606. (fn. 93)
At the end of the 12th century the Hartshorne family owned lands in Hartshorne, and in 1439 it was still named in connexion with Ickwell, (fn. 94) while scattered references show that the Blundells were settled in Caldecote for upwards of one hundred years from the latter half of the 13th century, but no mention has been found of the manor until the reign of Edward VI. (fn. 95) John Poley acquired Blundells from the Colts, (fn. 96) and bequeathed it to his wife Alice, while his son Francis, who died in 1568, left the reversion to his wife Denys. (fn. 97) From this date the manor followed the same descent as Carminos (q.v.), passing from the Reades to George Mordaunt and his wife Cecilia. John Mordaunt, their grandson, owned Blundells in 1728. (fn. 98) After this date the history of the manor becomes obscure. It apparently became known as Upper Caldecote, which in 1801 belonged to John Harvey, (fn. 99) and passed in the same way as Northill Manor (q.v.), the owner at the present time being Mr. John Edmund Audley Harvey.
Walter Launcelyn owned land in Northill in Caldecote and elsewhere in 1316, which he conveyed to John Colville and Maud his wife in 1331, (fn. 100) and to which no further reference has been found.
The manorial history of the remaining hamlets of this parish is very involved, but what appears to have happened is as follows. In 1086 the land of Eudo son of Hubert in Beeston (exclusive of the 3 hides which he owned in Northill) was assessed at 8 hides, which were divided between three principal tenants, Norman, Rolland and Pirot, who held respectively 4 hides, 3 hides and 1 hide. (fn. 101) Norman's land, which he had occupied before the Conquest, became known later as BEESTON MANOR or BEESTON, THORNCOTE and HATCH. This land escheated to the Crown on the death of Eudo and became attached to the honour of Lindon, (fn. 102) as did other land of his in Easton (Northants). (fn. 103) In the 13th century Beeston Manor was owned by Drew de Sutton and later by William Dru. (fn. 104) In 1313 it was conveyed by John de Wresle to Walter de Huntingfold and Joan his wife. (fn. 105) The Huntingfolds continued in possession of the manor, and we find Joan wife of Godfrey, probably son of Walter, holding it in 1346. (fn. 106) Agnes wife of Henry de Huntingfold was dispossessed by William de Brounsford and his wife Isabel before 1377. (fn. 107) The Brounsfords alienated the manor to Nicholas Westerdale and others, (fn. 108) who obtained a licence in 1386 to convey Beeston Manor to Warden Abbey in exchange for the granges of Ravensholt and Burdon in Cambridgeshire. (fn. 109) The manor remained with Warden Abbey until the Dissolution, after which the Crown at first leased it, (fn. 110) but in 1652 it was granted to John Eldred and others, (fn. 111) well-known land speculators, who apparently cut up the lands into four portions. In 1658 one portion was owned by Nathaniel Parcell and Mary his wife and conveyed by them to Jasper Edwards, chief registrar of the Court of Chancery. (fn. 112) In the course of the next century it reappears as one manor in the possession of Samuel Cockayne and Katherine his wife and Bromsall Throckmorton, (fn. 113) and was purchased later of Thomas Smith of Gray's Inn by Godfrey Thornton of Moggerhanger, who owned it in 1801. (fn. 114) In 1821 his property had descended to his grandson, Col. Godfrey Thornton. (fn. 115)
Courts were held twice a year at Beeston Manor. (fn. 116)
The monastery of Warden had right of common for sheep on Beeston Leys, and the reversion of this land was granted in 1538 to Sir John Gostwick and his wife Joan. (fn. 117) Robert Thornton, lord of the manor of Moggerhanger in 1780, disputed this right of common, which was decided in his favour, since the common of Beeston Leys was described in 1796 as appendant to Moggerhanger. (fn. 118) The name survives at the present day.
The 3 hides of land which Rolland held of Eudo in 1086 became BUDDENHO MANOR or BERELLS and FRENCHES. They formed the corresponding half fee to Beeston Manor and were held of the honour of Lindon (see above). This manor was owned in the 13th century by Eustace de Sutton, and in 1284–6 by Richard de Buddenho. (fn. 121) Nicolaa de Buddenho was in possession in 1316, (fn. 122) but by 1338 the manor had passed to John Stacy. (fn. 123) A descendant of his, Thomas Stacy, was styled lord of Beeston in 1416 and by his marriage with Agnes at some time previous to 1457 had acquired the lands belonging to John Berell and William Frenches, which, added to Buddenho, later gave it the distinctive name of Berells and Frenches. (fn. 124) In 1440–1 he (being then in rebellion) surrendered his estates to his son Thomas, who in 1451 granted the lands which had belonged to his mother to Elizabeth daughter of Robert Codon, and, possibly on this account, was styled lord of half Beeston in 1472. (fn. 125) Between the years 1491 and 1497 William Stacy, probably the son of Thomas, leased Buddenho Manor to Thomas Randolph, master of Northill College, and about the same time granted a rent-charge on it of 4 marks a year to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. About 1519 Edward Stacy son and heir of William granted the manor with other lands in Beeston, Budna, Thorncote and Hatch to Thomas Underhill, then master of the college and other feoffees. (fn. 126) The latter withdrew four years later and Stacy's land remained in the possession of the college and at the Dissolution was worth £6 4s. 0½d., the yearly payment made to Pembroke Hall being £2 13s. 4d. in 1548. (fn. 127) In 1632 it was stated that this manor had long since become extinct, that neither any rentals nor Court Rolls were extant, but only certain deeds and conveyances to prove the past existence of a court. (fn. 128)
Under King Edward the Confessor Ravan, a man of Ulmar of Eaton, held and could assign to whom he wished the land which Pirot owned in Beeston in 1086. (fn. 129) This, together with that which he held of Eudo in Northill (see above), was doubtless comprised in the four fees which his descendant Ralph possessed in 1166 of the fief which had been Eudo's. (fn. 130) From the Pirots a third manor in Beeston and Northill derived its first name PEROTS, later known as BEESTON-CALDECOTE alias TRUMPINGTONS. This manor formed part of the barony of Eaton, but between the years 1369 and 1379 passed to the lords of Groby, (fn. 131) after which the overlordship followed the same descent as that of Moggerhanger Manor (q.v.), though in the case of Beeston-Caldecote one later reference has been found in 1510 to the overlordship of Thomas Marquess of Dorset. (fn. 132) An interesting survival occurred at the inclosure of the parishes of Northill and Sandy in 1780, when an allotment of land was allowed for Dam Acre or Dame Margaret's Holme, which was still held by copy of court roll of the manor of Sandy, the name recalling the tenure of this manor by Margaret Trumpington in the 15th century. (fn. 133)
A Ralph Pirot later than the one mentioned above owned Pirot's Manor in 1284–6, when it formed the corresponding quarter-fee to that held by Thomas of Kancia in Northill (fn. 134) (see Carminos), but by 1300 it had passed into the possession of Giles de Trumpington (fn. 135) (hence one of the later names of the manor), who also acquired the half-fee in Beeston which at some time during the previous century had been owned by Thomas son of Bernard. (fn. 136) From this time the manor followed the same descent as that of Moggerhanger (q.v.), passing from the Trumpingtons to the Enderbys and Lucys until the death of Lady Eleanor Lucy in 1510. It then reverted to Eleanor Enderby (Lady Lucy's daughter by her former husband), who afterwards married Francis Pigot, on whom it was settled in 1539. (fn. 137) Their son Thomas Pigot conveyed the manor of Beeston-Caldecote to Henry Everard in 1555, (fn. 138) in the possession of whose family it appears to have remained during the 17th century, but by 1741 it had passed to the same owners as the manor of Beeston, Thorncote and Hatch, and follows the same descent (see above). (fn. 139)
At the time of the Domesday Survey William Spech held 3½ virgates in Beeston, whose previous possessor had been Lewin Cilt. These virgates evidently lay principally in Thorncote, (fn. 140) and were attached to Old Warden Manor as part of the honour of Warden (Old Warden, q.v.). During the 13th century Fulk le Moyne and Robert Joce each held a quarter-fee of this honour, (fn. 141) and their descendants still owned land in Thorncote during the following century. In 1309 John de Bowels seized the cattle of Robert le Moyne because his services (consisting of those appertaining to half a fee and that of doing suit to John's court at Warden) were in arrear. (fn. 142) In 1346 John Joce owned land of the Abbot of Warden which William Joce had formerly held. (fn. 143) By 1428 it was occupied by three tenants, namely, John Greenlane, John Cooke and Thomas Ivell, after which its descent cannot be traced. (fn. 144)
Other Domesday tenants were Walter, who held half a hide of Hugh de Beauchamp in Northill which Osiet, a man of King Edward, formerly occupied and could sell, (fn. 145) and Turstin the Chamberlain, who owned half a hide of the king in Beeston which previously Godwin, a man of Earl Tosti, held and could assign. (fn. 146) This land later belonged to the barony of Bedford (an overlordship which is traceable in Thorncote as late as 1499), following the same descent as in Astwick, (fn. 147) and appears to have been divided among numerous small tenants. Finally 3 virgates in Beeston in 1086 were held by Godmund of the king and were in the possession of the burgesses of Bedford, but no later particulars about this land have been found. (fn. 148)
It is a beautiful and dignified building, begun about 1330. The nave is the oldest part, and with it the lower part of the tower and the ground story of the porch were built. The chancel belongs to c. 1350–70, and with it the north-east vestry. There has been a break in the work, the upper part of the tower and the vault and upper story of the porch being of 15th-century date, and towards the end of this century two windows in each aisle were altered. The church was repaired in 1862 and a vestry and organ chamber added on the north of the chancel, and the window tracery is almost entirely modern. The walling is of dark brown ironstone, which is also used for the nave arcades and the window heads, but as it is unsuitable for the finer details these are worked in clunch, giving a very effective contrast. The church is very well cared for, and the modern fittings are good of their kind.
The chancel has a modern east window of five lights and three south windows of three lights; only the eastern of the three retains old tracery, though the jambs and rear arches of all are old, c. 1360. Below the window is a moulded string running round the walls in the interior and breaking up over the triple sedilia, which with the piscina have cinquefoiled heads and are original work, plain but very well designed. The piscina has a stone shelf. There are a modern stone reredos and a modern credence in the north wall.
The vestry is entirely modernized, and has a three-light east window and a cinquefoiled piscina on the south, to the west of which are traces of a wide recess now plastered over but showing old stonework.
The chancel arch is modern, a copy of the nave arcades, and in it is a modern screen into which are worked two bands of quatrefoils from an old screen and some traceried heads of panels. Part of the stalls in the chancel are also of early 15th-century date. A range of four stalls with plain misericordes is set against the south wall, with plain panelling above and four bays of panelling to the east over a bench, which though modern seems to represent the original arrangement. On the north is a like scheme, but only two stalls remain. The carvings below the misericordes are simple fleurs de lis or the like, and only three are left. Just east of the panelling on the south side is a priest's door of original date.
The nave arcades are in four bays built of ironstone, with tall lancet arches in two wave-moulded orders, with a fillet between and plain labels on both sides; they spring from tall and graceful piers of four round engaged shafts with rolls in the angles, and have moulded capitals and bases on plinths of unusual and effective character. The responds of both arcades and the capitals of the western pair of piers are in clunch, but all the rest are of ironstone.
In the east respond of the north arcade, facing the aisle, is a trefoiled piscina recess in two moulded orders with a stone shelf, surmounted by a crocketed canopy and flanked by small buttresses, part of the original work, though much restored.
The west and north-west windows are also original but with modern tracery, but the two other north windows were altered in the late 15th century. The outer jambs of the eastern of the two are of 14th-century date, but the head and three-light tracery belong to the alteration, as do the inner jambs. The remaining window is entirely in the later style, but its outer jambs are probably 14th-century work recut. In the third bay is a 14th-century doorway in three wave-moulded orders with a pointed head and label springing from head stops.
The south doorway dates from the 14th century, with a pointed head and label; the head is moulded with three filleted rounds, separated from each other by small hollows and springing from half-round shafts with moulded capitals, which differ in either jamb, and chamfered block bases. The south porch is vaulted in stone in two bays, with diagonal and cross ribs springing from modern vaulting shafts with moulded capitals and bases. At the intersection of the ribs in the centre of the north bay is a foliated boss on which are the arms of Trailly; at the centre of the other bay is a foliated boss of the 15th century, and between them a boss with a rose in foliage.
The wall ribs of the vault are of the same character as the mouldings of the south door, but the ribs are of later type, and it is clear that though a vaulted porch was intended in the 14th-century work it was not carried out till the 15th century. The other details of the porch and its upper story, which has a stair on the west and a four-light opening to the nave, are now modern. The upper story was used as the chapel of St. Anne, founded as a chantry by William Fitz and Cecily Beton in 1489. (fn. 149)
The tower arch has been restored; it is in three wave-moulded orders with labels, and springs from moulded responds with capitals and bases. The top stage of the tower belongs to the 15th century, and at the angles of the parapet are gargoyles; the stairturret, in which are four narrow lights, is at the north-east angle, and is entered from the tower by means of a pointed doorway. At the western angles of the tower are two square buttresses in four stages. There is a pointed doorway into the tower on the south side, a modern alteration, and on the west is a window of three cinquefoiled lights in two wave-moulded orders with a pointed head and label; the mullions and tracery are similar in style to those of the east window, and they and the inner order of the head are all modern. Over this window is a narrow chamfered light. On the east and west sides of the top stage are two windows side by side, in two chamfered orders, separated by a casement; they consist of two cinquefoiled lights: the outer order forms a rectangle round the two windows, the inner orders form pointed heads in which is perpendicular tracery; in the spandrels is quatrefoiled panelling, and also at the base of each light are two quatrefoiled panels. In the other two sides of the top stage is a window of two trefoiled lights in two chamfered orders, with a pointed head and label containing a quatrefoil.
The chancel roof, which is modern except for parts of the arched braces, is of oak in three bays; the nave has a trussed rafter roof of steep pitch, divided into four bays with tie-beams and strutted kingposts; it is very plain work, but perhaps original, and the plain lean-to roofs of the aisles are probably also of 14th-century date.
In the north wall of the north aisle is a brass of a knight in full plate-armour (without a helmet), and a shield quarterly (1) on a bend three trefoils with a molet for difference, (2) and (3) a lion rampant in a gobony border, (4) on a bend three trefoils, and an inscription: 'Hic jacet Nicholaus Harve miles, qui obiit in festo Sancti Oswaldi, Anno Domini millesimo quingentesimo trigesimo secundo ac anno Regni Regis Henrici Octavi xxiiii, cujus anime propicietur deus Amen.'
In the north-east angle of this aisle are ten inscriptions in brass, of the 19th century, to various members of the Harvey family. On the north wall of the chancel and on the walls of the aisles are many memorial slabs of the 18th and 19th centuries and a brass to Susannah widow of John Harvey, esq., 1863, in the floor of the nave near the chancel arch.
There are five bells: (1) 'Sancte Gabriel ora pro nobis,' by Thomas Bullisdon of London, c. 1510; (2) 'Richard Harding et Anne Harding 1589,' by Newcombe of Leicester; (3) 'Feare God and obey the Prince 1602'; (4) 'Richard Chandler made me 1711'; (5) ' Newcome of Leicester made me. A° 16113' (sic).
The communion plate consists of a foot-paten engraved with 'I.H.S.,' a cross, and nails, given by Thomas Clarke to 'the parish of Norrell,' date letter 1689. There are also a smaller foot-paten, the marks of which are quite worn off; a communion cup, with chasing round it, date letter 1569; a flagon, given by Sir John More, Sir Ralph Box and Mr. Thomas Symonds, members of the Worshipful Company of Grocers, to the parish of Northill, date letter 1696.
The registers previous to 1813 are in six books:— (1) all 1562 to 1598 (the next are missing); (2) all 1672 to 1726; (3) all 1727 to 1758, marriages till 1754; (4) marriages (printed) 1754 to 1812; (5) baptisms and burials 1759 to 1778; (6) baptisms and burials 1779 to 1812.
The advowson of the church of Northill belonged to the Trailly family, and followed the same descent as the principal manor (q.v.). (fn. 150) Its valuation in the 13th century was £16 13s. 4d., (fn. 151) and it was taxed at 25 marks in the time of Edward III. (fn. 152) In 1404 the executors of Sir John and Sir Reginald Trailly obtained a licence to change the church into a college, to which they granted the advowson in frank-almoigne. (fn. 153) When the college was dissolved in 1547 the church and rectory, being then valued at £50 11s. 4d., passed to the Crown, (fn. 154) who granted them to Sir William Fitz William in 1553, (fn. 155) after which they once more followed the same descent as the manor, but were not included in the property sold by Richard Browne to Edward Osborne in 1610. (fn. 156) In 1652 the advowson was quitclaimed to Thomas Bromsall, (fn. 157) and within the next ten years both rectory and advowson were purchased (Lysons says with money given by Margaret Lady Slayny) by the Grocers' Company, which in 1662 made a presentation on recommendation by the king, (fn. 158) and is still in possession at the present day. (fn. 159) All Saints', Caldecote, is a chapel of ease to the parish church.
At the inclosure of Northill parish in 1780 the great tithes belonged to John Harvey and the small tithes to the rector, with a few minor exceptions in both cases. The latter received some further allotments for tithes in 1796. (fn. 160)
The college of St. Mary, Northill, was founded in 1404 to pray for the souls of Sir John Trailly and his son Reginald, (fn. 161) its first master being the rector of the parish, John Ward, who died in 1422, and was buried in the chancel of Northill Church. (fn. 162) The succeeding masters were presented by the fellows of the college (who were four in number), and afterwards instituted by the Bishop of Lincoln to the college and parsonage. (fn. 163) The clear income of the college in 1535 was estimated at £61 7s. (fn. 164) Further particulars may be found under the article on the Religious Houses. (fn. 165) The college was dissolved in 1547, (fn. 166) and was granted by the Crown in 1549 to Sir William Fitz William and his wife Joan, (fn. 167) following the same descent as the College Manor, under which the site and demesnes of the college were still included in 1651. (fn. 168)
St. Anne's chantry was founded in 1489 by William Fitz and Cecily Beton, who gave certain lands in Beeston, Hache, Thorncote and Budna to find a priest to sing mass for the souls of William and of William Resby, his grandfather, in a chapel built on the porch of the parish church of Northill, and for an obit to be kept yearly in the same church for their souls and for those of their friends. (fn. 169) It was granted in 1549 to Sir William Fitz William, to be held of the Crown as of the honour of Ampthill, by fealty, in free socage. (fn. 170) The last mention of this chantry that has been found occurs in 1598, after the death of Sir Thomas Browne. (fn. 171)
In 1548 William Abbesse and John Hithe of Kempston held 1s. 4d. in trust for the provision of a sepulchre light in the parish church of Northill. (fn. 172)
The Amalgamated Charities. (fn. 173)
2. Charity of Rev. Robert Hancock, a former rector, founded by will dated 4 September 1683, whereby the testator left £60 to be laid out in the purchase of land, the rents to be applied in mending the footways leading to the church and in relief of poor widows. The legacy with gifts from other donors was applied in the purchase of certain lands comprised in a deed of feoffment, dated 3 October 1687, the specific trusts of which were declared by deed dated 13 April 1691.
3. Clement Marsland's charity, originally an annuity of 4s. on land in Prigdale charged by will, dated 21 April 1612, for sixteen poor people, in lieu of which 3 r. 7 p. in Drover's Way Field was allotted on the inclosure in 1781.
4. Mrs. Elizabeth Hutchinson's charity, founded by will proved 2 May 1728, whereby the testatrix left £200 to be laid out in the purchase of land, the rents and profits to be applied in educating fatherless girls and putting them out as apprentices. The legacy was in 1740 laid out in the purchase of land and cottages at Thorncote (East) and Beeston Leys.
In 1905 the trust estates of the charities nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, consisted of 1 a. 2 r. in Beeston Leys, 16 a. 1 r. 18 p. in Drover's Way, 2 a. 0 r. 19 p. in Vinegar Hill, 1 a. 3 r. 13 p. in Thorncote (East) and Homestead and two cottages producing yearly £70 or thereabouts, which, after deducting outgoings, is with the income of charities 5, 6 and 7 divided as to fifteen forty-eighths to the general poor, two forty-eighths to the widows and two forty-eighths for church paths and twenty-nine forty-eighths to the fatherless girls. Also 2 a. 2 r. 3 p. in Thorncote (West) and two cottages, producing £15 18s. yearly, which is applied as to thirteen twenty-sevenths for the general poor, seven twenty-sevenths for widows and seven twenty-sevenths for church paths.
In 1879 the Rev. John Taddy by will, proved at London 28 February, bequeathed £100, the income to be divided among poor widows as the rector should think fit. The legacy was invested in £102 11s. 3d. consols.
In 1882 Miss Anna Louisa Potts by her will and codicils thereto, proved at London 9 November, bequeathed legacies upon trust to be invested and income applied towards the endowment of the church of All Saints. The trust fund consists of £440 0s. 6d. consols (producing £11 a year) with the official trustees, who also hold £100 Metropolitan Consolidated 3½ per cent. stock and £202 15s. 9d. consols, the dividends of which (amounting to £8 11s. 4d.) are, under a declaration of trust of 28 April 1884, applicable for the maintenance and repairs of the same church.