A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Carlton is a parish containing 1,530 acres, of which 692 acres are arable land, 613¾ acres permanent grass and 23 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) On the north-west the Ouse divides this parish from Harrold, and in the neighbourhood of the river the land is liable to flood. The slope of the ground is irregular, the highest point attained being in the east, where the land is 296 ft. above the ordnance datum. The parish is traversed by one main road running from north to south of the parish. The church of St. Mary stands some distance from the village, which is situated in the north of the parish, grouped round the roads from Turvey and Oakley, the former running into the latter at right angles. Most of the older buildings, which are chiefly of local stone built in rubble courses with thatch or tile roofs, lie to the west of the Turvey Road. The modern cottages are mostly of brick with purple slate roofs. On rising ground to the south-east stand the remains of the hall.
The stone bridge crossing the river at the north end of the village is of fourteen arches. Six of these actually span the river, the remaining eight carrying the road over a large pool on the south side. The soil is clay, the subsoil gravel. Carlton received an Inclosure Award by Act of Parliament in 1805. (fn. 2) There is a Baptist chapel in Carlton built in 1760 with a burial-ground adjoining. Turvey station, 3½ miles distant, is on the Bedford and Northampton branch of the Midland Railway.
The following 16th-century place-names have been found in documents relating to Carlton:—Gyddings, Prechyns, Abbotsland, Marion Preches Barne. (fn. 3)
Four properties are mentioned in the Domesday Survey, none of which had attained to the status of a manor. What later became known as CARLTON or PABENHAMS MANOR is to be found in 1086 in the estate held by the Bishop of Bayeux. It consisted of 1 hide 1 virgate, which were held of the bishop by Herbert son of Ivo, who in his turn had two sokemen holding of him, an exceptional case at Domesday of an undertenant himself having undertenants. (fn. 4) The Bishop of Bayeux was the Conqueror's half-brother, and when he died in 1097 his land in Carlton, which he held in a personal, not an official, capacity, appears to have reverted to the Crown, and henceforth is to be found held of the king in chief. (fn. 5) In 1492 and 1525 it was said to be held of the king as of his honour of Dover. (fn. 6)
It has not been possible to connect the Domesday tenant, Herbert son of Ivo, with the family of de Pabenham, who took their name from the adjoining parish of Pabenham or Pavenham, and who appear to have held in Carlton certainly from the 13th century onwards. The Testa states that John de Pabenham held land in Carlton by one-fifth of a knight's fee, whilst an inquisition taken regarding the property of one of the same name in 1269 describes his land in Carlton as a messuage, 4½ virgates of land, 6 acres of meadow and 12 acres of wood, which is almost identical in extent with Herbert son of Ivo's property at Domesday. (fn. 7)
From this time onwards until 1348 Carlton remained in the Pabenham family and followed the same descent as Pavenham Manor (q. v.). In 1278–9 the estate included 5 virgates, of which 3½ were in demesne, (fn. 8) and in 1300, called for the first time a manor, Carlton was granted by John de Pabenham to his daughter Athelina for her life, and was then extended at a capital messuage worth 3s., 80 acres of arable land, 6 acres of meadow, rents of freemen worth 6s. 6d., and 1¼ virgates of land in villeinage. (fn. 9)
In 1348–9, on the death of John de Pabenham, his brother James as heir entered into possession of the Carlton property, described as a messuage and a carucate of land, a very usual extent in round numbers for a manor in this county. (fn. 10) He died in 1360, when his daughter Margery became his heir. (fn. 11) She married Sir William Hugeford, and at his death in 1409 left Carlton Manor, 'called Pabenham,' to her granddaughter Margery, daughter of her son William, then aged two (fn. 12); but as she died in 1413 it reverted to Alice daughter of Margery Pavenham. (fn. 13)
Alice was married twice, first to Thomas Lucy and secondly to Richard Archer, and William Lucy, her son by her first husband, was her heir on her death in 1420. (fn. 14) Richard Archer survived his wife, and held the manor 'by the courtesy of England' until his death in 1471, when William Lucy entered into possession, (fn. 15) and was succeeded in 1492 by his son Edmund Lucy. (fn. 16) Thomas Lucy son of Edmund died in 1525 seised of Carlton Manor, (fn. 17) and in 1536 his son William justified his succession to the manor in accordance with his father's will, on the death of his mother Elizabeth Lucy. (fn. 18)
In 1564 Thomas Lucy, probably a son of William Lucy, alienated Carlton Manor to Agnes Adams without licence, but obtained pardon for this omission the following year when Agnes Adams's right to the manor was fully recognized. (fn. 19) Some time before 1570 Agnes enfeoffed Thomas Adams of Carlton Manor, (fn. 20) which he sold in 1594 to William Goddard. (fn. 21) He died in 1615, and an inquisition taken at that date declared his son and heir Vincent Goddard to have been a lunatic for some years. (fn. 22) The property is described as the manor of Carlton alias Pavenham with rights and members in Carlton, Pavenham, Chellington and Turvey, and four messuages, one barn, two gardens, 256 acres of land, 15s. rent and rent of two capons in those places. Vincent Goddard died in 1609, and his son William, who succeeded him, held the manor in 1632 and as late as 1656. (fn. 23) In 1704 the manor was sold by the Goddard family to William Steph, who in 1714 for the sum of £154 sold it to William Weald and he to Sir Rowland Alston of Odell (q.v.). (fn. 24) The present owner is Mr. Rowland Crewe Alston. (fn. 25)
There are Court Rolls of Carlton Manor preserved at the Record Office. The courts were held by Thomas Lucy between the years 1512 and 1517. At a court held in June 1516 William Michell was summoned for lodging a certain strange woman in his house to the injury of his neighbours, and was warned to remove her on pain of 20s. Some twelve months later, in July 1517, however, he pleaded that the house wherein he kept her was outside the fee of the lord of the manor, and therefore he refused to answer to his jurisdiction. (fn. 26)
This manor included a park. In 1278 a wooded close of 20 acres formed part of its extent, (fn. 27) and in 1312 John de Pabenham received a licence to inclose and impark his woods at Carlton, which were within the limits of the king's forest. (fn. 28) Carlton Park is mentioned in extents of the manor bearing dates 1321–2, 1409 and 1420, (fn. 29) and in 1495 Edmund Lucy sold to John Fisher and John Taylor a wood called 'Pakenham Parke in the lordship of Carlton, with fre incurse and owtecurse for the fallinge carrynge and remeadynge of the same wode.' (fn. 30)
Like the remainder of Nigel de Albini's estates Carlton became a member of the barony of Cainhoe, whose descent is given in Clophill (fn. 31) (q.v.). The last mention of it as attached to this barony occurs in 1428 (fn. 32); in 1609 it is declared to be held of the king in chief. (fn. 33)
There were two tenants of Nigel de Albini at Domesday: Chetel, who owned 1⅓ hides formerly belonging to Golderon, a man of Levenet, and Bernard, who held 1 hide ½ virgate, including a mill worth 13s. 4d. (fn. 34) This dual tenancy of the barony of Cainhoe appears to have continued until the 14th century, when the share of Bernard (recognizable by the presence of the mill) disappears. By 1260 John de Grey had acquired Bernard's property in Carlton, for in that year he conceded the right of Ralph Perot to lands in Carlton (including a water-mill), for which the latter had paid a yearly rent of 5½ marks for fourteen years. (fn. 35) In 1278–9 Ralph Perot held 1 carucate of land, including a mill in Carlton. (fn. 36) He was apparently still a tenant of the Greys, for in 1302–3 Reginald de Grey was holding of Cainhoe barony together with Henry la Leigh, (fn. 37) and as the latter was holding alone in 1316, (fn. 38) and no further mention has been made of the de Grey interest, there must have been about this date some transference to the La Leighs.
The land in Carlton which Chetel held at the Survey of 1086 appears to have passed some time in the 12th century to the family of La Leigh, which derived its name from Lalegh (now Thurleigh), and which will be found more fully treated under that parish. In 1206 and again in 1217–18 Gerinus la Leigh secured the recognition of his right to the advowson of Carlton (which is always found attached to this manor). (fn. 39) The next mention of the La Leighs holding in Carlton occurs in 1302–3, when Henry la Leigh together with Reginald de Grey held one-fifth of a fee here of the barony of Cainhoe. (fn. 40) In 1330 Henry la Leigh conveyed the manor (here definitely so-called) by fine to William de Stondon, parson of Carlton, and others, (fn. 41) and in 1359, when John la Leigh alienated this manor by fine to John Trailly, this family ceased to have further connexion with Carlton. (fn. 42) John Trailly died seised of the manor, then worth 10 marks, in 1400, leaving as son and heir Reginald Trailly. (fn. 43) He died without issue, and the subsequent descent of this manor is not very clear. In 1428 John le Wolfe held the fee, (fn. 44) but like other Trailly property it is subsequently found in the Vauxes of Harrowden. An inquisition taken in 1464 states that Sir William Vaux had held the manors of Carlton and Chellington since 1461, but they were then in the king's hands. (fn. 45) Sir William Vaux was attainted in 1460 and was slain at Tewkesbury in 1471, and his lands granted by Edward IV to Ralph Hastings, but his son Nicholas Vaux obtained the reversal of the attainder and the restoration of his father's lands from Henry VII, who knighted him after the battle of Stoke in 1486. (fn. 46) He was created Lord Vaux of Harrowden in 1523, and died in the same year in possession of Carlton and Chellington Manors. (fn. 47) He left a son Thomas Vaux, who married Elizabeth daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Cheyne. At his death, which took place in 1556, his son William Vaux succeeded to his father's titles and estates. He was several times convicted of recusancy, and was tried in the Star Chamber in 1581 for harbouring Edward Campion the Jesuit, and sentenced to imprisonment and a fine of £1,000. (fn. 48) In the following year, perhaps in order to find the required sum, he combined with his son and heir-apparent, Henry Vaux, to sell the manors of Carlton and Chellington and the advowsons of the respective churches to Lewis Lord Mordaunt. (fn. 49)
These manors henceforward follow the same descent as the important property of Turvey (q.v.). The present owner is Mr. G. F. Higgins of Turvey House. (fn. 50)
A third manor, that of CARLTON HALL of STAYSMORE, is found in Carlton at the beginning of the 16th century. The first mention of it occurs in 1528–9, when William Staysmore died seised of Carlton Manor, held of Nicholas Lord Vaux as of his manor of Carlton. (fn. 51) His son John Staysmore held the manor in 1530, when he conveyed it to trustees previous to a recovery. (fn. 52) It next reappears in 1609 as the property of Philip Dobbs. He was a recusant, who for nine years had not attended any 'church, chapel or usual place of Common Prayer.' In consequence he was heavily fined, and in default of payment two-thirds of his manor of Carlton Hall was granted by letters patent to Francis Duncombe for forty-one years. (fn. 53) Philip Dobbs died in 1611 and was, according to the entry in the parish register, buried in the night-time. (fn. 54)
It has not been ascertained to whom this manor passed after his death, but in 1640 John Earl of Peterborough conveyed it by fine to Sir Thomas Alston, (fn. 55) and in 1670 Henry Earl of Peterborough, who succeeded his father in 1643, again conveyed it to the same trustee. (fn. 56) Carlton Hall appears to have changed hands about this time, for in 1687 it was the property of Edward Reynolds and Frances his wife. (fn. 57) From them the manor passed to Francis Reynolds, probably their son, by whom it was heavily mortgaged. He died intestate, and the manor fell to Charles Cutts, the mortgagee, who sold it to Uriah Bithray. (fn. 58) He died in 1748, leaving Carlton Hall to his son Thomas Bithray, from whom it had passed by 1764 to his nephews, Charles and William Bithray. (fn. 59) According to Harvey it next passed to Mr. Palmer, an American merchant, who sold it to Thomas Battams. The latter pulled down the old house, and erected a new one about 1805. George Battams, grandson of Thomas Battams, sold it to Earl de Grey, (fn. 60) whose representative, Lord Lucas and Dingwall, at present holds the manor.
Osbern the fisherman held 1 hide 1½ virgates of land in Carlton, which had formerly been owned by a thegn, Godwin Frambolt by name. No further mention has been found of this estate. (fn. 61)
In 1086 Chelbert also owned 3½ virgates of land in Carlton belonging to the reeves and almsmen of the king. He was a man of Queen Edith and could assign to whom he wished, but the jurors declared that he could show no warrant for 2½ virgates which had belonged to Alli, a thegn of King Edward. (fn. 62)
During the 13th and 14th centuries the Beauchamps of Bedford had an overlordship in this parish of which the origin has not been ascertained. William Beauchamp owned one-sixth of a fee here at the time of the Testa, (fn. 63) and in 1278 both Roger Léstrange and Ralph Paynel held fractions of knights' fees in Carlton, (fn. 64) and finally in 1392 property attached to the Bedford Barony was transferred to Harrold Priory. (fn. 65) The Malherbes were early tenants of the Beauchamps of Bedford in Carlton. In 1218 Geoffrey de Karleton quitclaimed land here to Pain Malherbe, (fn. 66) and later in the same century William Malherbe held of this barony. (fn. 67) John Malherbe, who held 3½ virgates of William de Monchensey in 1278–9, is the last tenant of this name of whom mention has been found. (fn. 68) At the same date (1278–9) Henry of Sharnbrooke held in chief of John Patishull, and he of the barony of Bedford, a capital messuage and ½ virgate of land. (fn. 69) Nigel atte Wode had succeeded to this land in 1302–3, (fn. 70) and held it by one-fortieth of a knight's fee. John Spynk was his successor in 1346. (fn. 71)
The Beauchamps of Eaton also appear to have owned land in Carlton, for in an extensive benefaction of Sir Gerard Braybrook to Harrold Priory there is mentioned 15s. 10d. rent in Carlton held of Sir Roger Beauchamp. (fn. 72) At the Dissolution Harrold Priory owned 17s. 2d. rent in Carlton, (fn. 73) but no further trace has been found of this land.
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel 28 ft. by 15 ft. 1 in., nave 35 ft. by 21 ft. 6 in., with north aisle 6 ft. 9 in. wide, and south aisle 8 ft. 8 in. wide, and a west tower 12 ft. 2 in. by 11 ft. 7 in. Early masonry remains in the chancel and tower, which may date from the latter part of the 11th or early 12th century. The church at this time was aisleless. The chancel has been lengthened eastward at a later date, having been some 20 ft. long at first, and a good deal of the early masonry, in small flat stones set herring-bone fashion, is to be seen in its north wall, as well as the remains of an original window, now blocked. It was about 1 ft. 10 in. wide at the wall face, and probably double splayed. The tower is built of small flat stones like the chancel, but set in level courses, and the quoins, now only preserved at the east, are little if any larger than the wallingstones. The same thing is to be seen in the tower of St. Peter's Church, Bedford, also probably of late 11th-century date. The quoins of the aisleless nave are somewhat larger. The difference between the masonry in the chancel and that in the tower may indicate different periods of building, but they are probably not far removed in date. The first enlargement of the church seems to have been the addition of a south aisle to the nave. c. 1275. A north aisle was added about 1310, and a south chapel to the chancel about 1330, the chancel being lengthened at the same time. Early in the next century the blank eastern respond of the north arcade was pierced with an arch, and later in the century a clearstory was added to the nave, but at some time before this a chamber with a lean-to roof had been built against the south wall of the tower and the west wall of the south aisle. The upper stage of the tower also dates from the 15th century. The south chapel was pulled down, and the arches opening to it from the chancel and south aisle blocked up, probably at a late date, the windows of the chapel being reset in the blocked arches. The chamber west of the south aisle has also been pulled down.
The chancel has pairs of buttresses at its eastern angles, and the east window is of the 14th century, but with modern net tracery over three trefoiled main lights. Near the east end of the north wall is a narrow 14th-century ogee-headed light, trefoiled, and immediately opposite to it in the south wall is a similar window, with a contemporary trefoiled ogeeheaded piscina under it, having two drains—one plain and one fluted; under the north-east window is a square locker. In this wall, further to the west, is a square-headed 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights, with a wooden lintel, the mullions being restored, and near the north-west angle a small window of two uncusped lights under a pointed head, perhaps late 13th-century work; immediately below it is a small chamfered doorway with a square head. The blocked early window in this wall has been already noted. On the south side of the chancel, besides the window already mentioned, is the wide blocked arch which formerly led into the south chapel, with a 14th-century window, three trefoiled lights with tracery, doubtless from the destroyed chapel, set in the blocking. The pointed chancel arch is very plain and of irregular shape, of two chamfered orders which die into the wall, without capitals or corbels at the springing: it is perhaps of the 14th century.
The nave arcades are of three bays, those on the north (c. 1310) being exactly similar to those in the neighbouring church of Chellington, of two chamfered orders, separated by a hollow, with a moulded label, and piers formed of engaged half-round shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The lower part of the wall to the east of this arcade has been pierced in the 15th century by a half-arch butting against the mass of walling carried by a 15th-century octagonal pier with moulded octagonal cap and base. This replaces the 14th-century east respond of the arcade, and in the face of the respond of the 15th-century arch is cut a small ogee-headed niche. The south arcade is in two orders, the outer moulded and the inner chamfered on the nave side, while both are chamfered towards the aisle; the pillars are octagonal with moulded caps and bases, and the responds semicircular in plan.
Above these arcades in the 15th century was added a clearstory, with three windows on each side, each of two trefoiled lights under a square head. There is a rectangular doorway, which formerly led to a rood loft, high up in the east respond of the south arcade. The roofs of the nave and chancel are modern. The east window of the north aisle has three cinquefoiled lights with quatrefoiled tracery in the head of 15th-century date, though the arch and jambs are of the 14th century; and in the north wall are a similar threelight window and a 14th-century doorway with continuously moulded jambs and head. In the west wall is a narrow 13th-century lancet, re-used.
The east window of the south aisle was probably that of the destroyed south chapel, and is like that on the south side of the chancel. In the south wall is another three-light window of the same character, and a plain chamfered south doorway with a pointed head under a porch of 15th-century style. On the outer face of the wall are the marks of a previous porch slightly to the east of the present one. To the west of the porch is a 13th-century lancet contemporary with the aisle, while the west wall is blank, but has towards the south a projecting block of masonry in the upper part of which is a fireplace, showing that the destroyed chamber to the west of the aisle had a living room on the first floor, and was doubtless a priest's house. The line of a low-pitched lean-to roof is visible on the west wall of the aisle, the masonry of the clearstory overhanging it and being clearly of later date.
The tower arch is of two chamfered orders dying into the wall, with a label on the east side, and is probably a 14th-century insertion. The tower is of two stories, the lower part being the early work already noted and the upper a 15th-century addition, with an embattled parapet and carved gargoyles projecting diagonally at each angle. At the west angles of the tower are 15th-century diagonal buttresses stopping below the belfry stage. In the north and south sides of the lower story are very small original round-headed lights, and in the west wall a plain square-headed doorway of uncertain date, with a two-light 13thcentury window over it; over this again is a single lancet, also of the 13th century. In every face of the top story is a window of two cinquefoiled lights with a quatrefoil over. The stair is at the northwest, and is lighted by a small trefoiled window and a quatrefoil.
The font stands under the east arch of the tower, and has a round bowl of c. 1130, ornamented with an arcade of round-headed arches, on which are fleurs de lis and heads; it has been altered in the 14th century to fit a stem of six engaged shafts. The stem is now covered with plaster.
At the west end of the chancel is a good 15thcentury screen of five bays, the appearance of which is much spoilt by the lack of a horizontal upper line. The rood loft, with its vaulting beneath, has been destroyed, and the arched heads of the bays form the top of the screen, giving a very unpleasant and unfinished effect. The upper part of the two bays on either side of the central doorway is filled with pierced tracery, while the lower panels are solid, relieved by cinquefoiled arches, with tracery in the spandrels. Against the east side of the screen are set some old seats, probably of 17th-century date; and a large part of the nave pewing is of the 16th century, while the pulpit is good early 17th-century work, set on a modern pedestal. In the chancel is a 17th-century chest.
There is an inscription on a brass plate and a brass scroll in the south wall of the chancel in memory of Joane Goddard, 1610, and on the floor a stone slab to Maria Great Bach and Thomas Great Bach, 1672; and another to Mr. Thos. Wells, 'parson of Carlton & Chellington about threescore years & ten, who died Aug. 5th 1642, aged about a hundred.' In the churchyard east of the chancel is a good 15th-century grave-slab with a cross on it.
There are four bells: the treble by Taylor, 1868; the second by Hugh Watts, 1602, inscribed 'Praise the Lorde'; the third a 15th-century bell, probably from Reading, inscribed 'In multis annis resonet campana Johannis,' and bearing the lion's face, cross and groat associated with that foundry, as well as a shield with a bell like that of Roger Landon, but without his initials. The tenor is a 15th-century London bell, inscribed S· MARTHE, and bearing the mark of Robert Crowche.
Carlton Church is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, and the first reference has been found in 1206 when Gerinus de Leigh, lord of Carlton Manor, attached to the Canihoe Barony, owned the advowson. (fn. 74) In 1278–9 Ralph Pirot, lord of the same manor, had the presentation, and the church was endowed with 1 virgate of land. It remained attached to Carlton Manor (q.v.) until 1710, when together with Chellington rectory it was alienated to Lord Trevor, in whose family it remained until 1862. (fn. 75) The living is now in the gift of and held by the Rev. William Henry Denison.
Before the Dissolution a lamp in Carlton Church was provided from the rent of half an acre of land in the tenure of the churchwardens valued at 4d. There was also a sepulchre light whose endowment was provided from the rent of 21 'fote of medowe' in the tenure of Nicholas Taylor, valued at 12d. (fn. 76)