A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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The parish of Maulden covers an area of over 2,604 acres of land, of which 1,149½ are arable land, 759½ permanent pasture and 343¼ woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The wooded portion lies to the east and comprises Maulden Wood, Wellhead and Readshill Plantations and Pennyfathers Hills. The low-lying ground by the River Flitt to the south is in some places less than 200 ft. above ordnance datum, but it rises in the north and east to 355 ft. The soil is partly sand and partly clay with a subsoil of greensand, and there are many old clay pits, besides sand and gravel workings. The chief crops are wheat, barley, beans and peas, whilst market gardening employs the greater part of the population.
The village straggles along the road from Ampthill to Shefford, and there is a distinct hamlet of Hall End, a continuation of Clophill, which extends into Maulden parish. (fn. 2) Most of the cottages are built of brick with thatch or tile roofs, though daub and wattle and half-timber construction is not uncommon among the older buildings, many of which are built upon a base of ironstone. The charm of this otherwise delightful village has been somewhat spoilt by the erection of many modern cottages not in keeping with their surroundings. The 'Anchor,' an old half-timber and thatch inn, stands picturesquely on the south of the main road at the west end of the village opposite the road from Haynes, while at the other end of the village is the White Hart Inn, an old thatched building having its walls covered with plaster. Situated on a hill and approached from the main road through a cornfield is the church, overlooking the village from the northeast. In the churchyard to the south of the church is the octagonal base and stump of a mediaeval cross. Near by is a handsome mausoleum erected to the memory of Diana Countess of Elgin. There are Methodist chapels at Hall End and Breach, a Baptist chapel at Duck End, and also a Wesleyan chapel.
In the northern part of the parish are the remains of two moats, evidently the sites of two of the manors of Maulden. The mill stands on the banks of a branch of the River Ivel below Hall End, and there was formerly another at Breach, pulled down within recent years.
The following place-names have been found in connexion with this parish:—Woodmerleys, Chappelles and Hollondon Mead in the 16th century (fn. 3) and Sunder Mead, (fn. 4) Trilley Southwick and Hall Stockins in the 17th century. (fn. 5)
Maulden parish was inclosed in 1796. (fn. 6)
There are five entries in the Great Survey relating to Maulden. The principal estate, MAULDEN MANOR, assessed at 5 hides 1½ virgates, was part of the land of the Countess Judith, (fn. 7) of whom and of whose descendants it was held as of the honour of Huntingdon. (fn. 8) In 1542 it was annexed to the honour of Ampthill, (fn. 9) of which it was still parcel in 1617. (fn. 10)
The manor was bestowed on Elstow Abbey by the Countess Judith previous to the Survey of 1086, (fn. 11) and about the beginning of the 13th century the abbess added considerably to this estate, (fn. 12) valued at £5 0s. 4d. in 1291. (fn. 13) There was a view of frankpledge attached to the manor, with tumbril, pillory and other rights claimed by the abbess in 1286 and 1330 by a charter of Henry I. (fn. 14) At the Dissolution Maulden, valued at £18 18s. with a wood worth £6, (fn. 15) escheated to the Crown, by whom it was retained until 1559, when it was granted by Elizabeth to Henry Cary Lord Hunsdon, (fn. 16) whose son George succeeded him in 1596. (fn. 17) On the latter's death without heirs male in 1604 the manor passed to his brother John, (fn. 18) who held it till his death in 1617, when he was succeeded by Henry his son. (fn. 19) Henry, who was created Earl of Dover in 1628, (fn. 20) conveyed the manor in 1633 to Sir Thomas Daws, Sir Francis Swifte and Arnold Spencer, (fn. 21) by whom it was alienated in 1635 to Thomas Earl of Elgin, (fn. 22) in whose family it remained until 1738, when it was sold by Thomas Earl of Ailesbury to John Duke of Bedford, (fn. 23) ancestor of the present duke, now lord of the manor. (fn. 24)
A second manor in Maulden parish known later as RAGONS MANOR was held at the Survey by Walter Gifard, and was assessed at 3 hides. In the Confessor's time this land had been held by Alwin brother of Bishop Wlui. (fn. 25) Unlike most of the lands of Walter Gifard, which on the death of his son without heirs passed to the family of the Earl of Pembroke, (fn. 26) his Maulden estate became annexed to the barony of Wahull, of which it was held in the early 13th century. (fn. 27) The overlordship of this manor remained attached to the barony of Wahull, and is last mentioned in 1428. (fn. 28)
In 1086 Hugh Bolebec held this manor, (fn. 29) of which his descendants afterwards became the intermediary lords. Hugh was succeeded by his sons Hugh and Walter. The latter's daughter and heir Isabella married Robert Earl of Oxford, (fn. 30) and their son Hugh inherited the manor, which he held in 1286. (fn. 31) No later mention of the intermediary lordship has been found.
The manor was subinfeudated some time in the 13th century, and was held by Hugh de Bray (fn. 32) and afterwards by Matilda, (fn. 33) doubtless his widow. In 1286 Godfrey de Lyner was in possession, (fn. 34) but in 1287 the manor had reverted to Geoffrey son of Hugh, who in that year brought an action against Robert de Hoo for unjustly entering into the estate described as one messuage and a carucate of land. (fn. 35) In 1304 and 1346 (fn. 36) it was held by David son of Hugh de Esseby, but for the next hundred years its descent has not been traced. It reappears in 1428 in the hands of Reginald Ragon, (fn. 37) who had as early as 1377 held other lands in Maulden inherited from his father Sir John Ragon. (fn. 38) Reginald, from whom it derived its distinctive name of Ragons Manor, was succeeded by a son Sir John, but there is no further mention of the manor until the beginning of the 16th century, when it was held by John Hill. (fn. 39) His son John left it by will in 1546 to his wife Alice and son Edward, (fn. 40) and the latter's son Richard was in possession in 1590. (fn. 41) The manor remained in this family for the next hundred years, and in 1634 Richard Hill, sen., quitclaimed his right in it to Richard Hill, jun. (fn. 42) From him it descended to John Hill and his wife Mary, who in 1691 alienated it to Thomas Earl of Ailesbury, lord of Maulden Manor (fn. 43) (q.v.), with which it has been held till the present day.
In 1292 Robert de Hoo received a grant of free warren in his demesne lands in Maulden, probably appurtenant to a neighbouring manor. (fn. 44) In 1370 these lands were held by the heirs of his descendant Thomas de Hoo. (fn. 45) No further mention of this estate has been found.
In 1286 the master of the Knights Templars held 1 virgate of land in Maulden, (fn. 46) and at the same time he claimed to have view of frankpledge from his tenants there. (fn. 47) This land afterwards passed to the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, (fn. 48) who in 1330 claimed views of frankpledge in Maulden, (fn. 49) and at the Dissolution was granted to Sir Richard Longe. (fn. 50)
In the middle of the 13th century the abbey of Warden obtained various small grants of lands in Maulden. (fn. 51) These lands were held by the abbey until the Dissolution, when they passed to the Crown. Some time previous to 1566 (fn. 52) this estate was granted to William Faldo, whose family had held lands in Maulden early in the 16th century. (fn. 53) William Faldo died in 1566 and his estate descended to his son Richard, (fn. 54) who at his death in 1576 left a son Robert, then aged about ten years. (fn. 55) The latter in 1589 obtained livery of the estate, which was afterwards sold in accordance with the instructions of his father's will. It passed into the possession of Michael Grigg, who died in 1624 and was succeeded by his son another Michael, but after this date the history of the capital messuage is obscure.
In 1086 Hugh de Beauchamp held land in Maulden assessed at half a hide and half a virgate, (fn. 56) which afterwards became annexed to the barony of Bedford (fn. 57) (q.v.). The only tenants of this land that have been mentioned were the heirs of Gilbert de Cotes, who held it in the 13th century. (fn. 58)
In 1086 a king's bailiff held half a hide in Maulden of the land of the reeves and almsmen of the king, (fn. 59) and 25 acres of land held by Nigel de Albini had been taken by John de Roches from the men of the town. (fn. 60)
Between 1106 and 1109 Henry I confirmed to the Priory of St. Faith, Lonqueville, a virgate of land and the tithe of the demesne at 'Maldon.' About 1150 the demesne tithe here is included in a confirmation by Walter Giffard Earl of Buckingham of all the gifts made to the priory by his father. It is not mentioned in the great original charter of confirmation granted by Henry II in September 1155. (fn. 61)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel about 26 ft. by 24 ft., a north vestry, a nave 54 ft. by 24 ft., north aisle 12½ ft. wide, south aisle 16 ft. wide and west tower 10 ft. square. The whole church with the exception of the tower and part of the north aisle was rebuilt in 1858–9 in 14th-century style. There is a 15th-century doorway and a length of walling probably of the same date in the north aisle, while the lower part of the tower is 14th-century work with angle buttresses and a small west window of two trefoiled lights, under which is a trefoiled niche. The upper part of the tower dates from the 16th century, and, as at Cranfield, is wider than the older work, its walls being partly carried on arches set against the 14th-century wall-face; the belfry windows are pairs of uncusped lights, and the embattled parapet is modern.
At the east end of the south aisle is the cover slab of a raised tomb, now set upright against the wall; on it are the brass figures of Richard Faldo, 1576, Amphyllis Chamberlin his wife, and their four sons; the figure of a daughter is lost. There are six shields with the arms of Faldo and Chamberlin and their alliances. Above is the brass of Anne daughter of Richard Faldo, 1594.
There are a few 18th-century monuments in different parts of the church, and on the north side of the church a mausoleum erected by the Earl of Elgin in 1656 to his second wife Diana daughter of the second Earl of Exeter.
There are five bells. The first is inscribed 'Te deum laudamus,' with the mark of Roger Landon, c. 1450; the second is by Emerton of Wootton, 1780; the third by John Dier, 1593; the fourth, of 1738, by Thomas Russell of Wootton; and the fifth, by T. Mears of London, 1831.
The registers are in eight books: (1) and (2) mixed entries 1558 to 1653; (3) and (4) the same 1653 to 1699, the burials being continued to 1704; (5) mixed entries 1699 to 1756; (6) baptisms and burials 1757 to 1812; (7) and (8) marriages only 1754 to 1788 and 1788 to 1812.
The right of presentation to the church of Maulden belonged to the abbey of Elstow. (fn. 62) The value of this church in 1291 was £4 13s. 4d., (fn. 63) and at the Dissolution £15 9s. 6d. (fn. 64) From this date the advowson followed the same descent as the manor (q.v.) until 1738, when, on alienation of the latter to the Duke of Bedford, the former was retained by Charles Lord Bruce, (fn. 65) and is vested in his descendants at the present day. (fn. 66)
In 1654 Robert Becket by will bequeathed £100 upon trust, to be laid out in land, the rent to be applied for the relief of poor widows, the putting forth of fatherless children, and the payment of 10s. for a sermon on Trinity Sunday. The legacy was invested in land in Millbrook, in respect of which on the inclosure in 1803 in that parish 7 acres in the Town Field was allotted, now let at £14 a year.
In 1693 Nicholas Cobbitt by will left £50 for the poor, and in 1699 Thomas Sheppard by will bequeathed £20 for the putting poor children to school to learn to read English, which legacies were laid out in the purchase of a messuage and 3 a. 0 r. 18 p. in Flitton, including Spinneyhole, now let at £16 a year.
The Town Estate now consists of five cottages in Town Row, eight other cottages with gardens, 1 rood of land at Duck End, known as the Hemp Land, and 10 a. 2 r. 28 p. called Ampthill Fields, being an allotment made on the inclosure in lieu of other lands held from ancient time by feoffees in trust, as appears by an indenture of 1686, to apply one moiety of the rents for the repair, use and ornament of the parish church, and the other moiety for the relief of the poor. The gross yearly income amounts to £58 or thereabouts.
The charity of John Bryan, will, 4 August 1655, is regulated by schemes, 1877 and 1906, the share of this parish being £350 14s. 4d. consols, producing £8 15s. 4d. a year, of which nine-fourteenths is applicable in providing gowns and shoes for four poor widows and five-fourteenths in bread for twelve of the poorest people.
In 1687 Arthur Wichalse by will bequeathed £700 to be laid out and profits applied in apprenticing in this and three other parishes. The share of this parish is represented by £188 8s. 6d. consols, producing £4 14s. a year.
The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, who also hold a sum of £10 consols in trust for Thomas Sheppard's charity, representing the redemption of yearly payment of 5s. by trustees of the Town Estate, which, with the rent of 1 acre known as the Spinneyhole, above mentioned, was by an order 17 February 1905 made applicable for educational purposes.
By an order of the Charity Commissioners, 10 July 1896, one-half of the income of the Town Estate charity was separated from the rest of the endowment of the above-mentioned charities as an ecclesiastical charity, of which the rector and churchwardens were appointed trustees, the remainder of the charities to be called the eleemosynary charities.
The fuel allotment consists of 19 a. 1 r. 33 p. at Bluck Moor, awarded in 1796, on the inclosure in this parish, for the use of the poor, in compensation for any ancient usage in cutting peat or turf for fuel. The land is let in allotments, producing in 1909–10 £35, which, after payment of expenses, was applied in the distribution of coal at Christmas time.