A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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The parish of Chellington contains 1,530 acres, of which 692 are arable land, 614 pasture and grass and 23 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) Chellington is separated from Harrold and Odell by the River Ouse, and here the land is liable to flood. The slope of the ground is irregular; the highest point is in the east, where the ground rises to 296 ft. above the ordnance datum. The soil is clay save in the neighbourhood of the river, the subsoil gravel, the principal crops being wheat. Chellington village, consisting chiefly of modern cottages, is in the north of the parish; it is little more than a hamlet of Carlton, and is so called in 1278–9. (fn. 2) The church of St. Nicholas stands by itself on Chellington Hill, in a field some distance from the village, which local tradition asserts was formerly near the church. (fn. 3)
There is one main road running north-east from Felmersham to the south-west of the parish, where it passes to Carlton. It is said that before the Marriage Act people used to come to Chellington to be married on account of its obscurity, but this assertion is not borne out by the parish registers. (fn. 4) Sir Robert Darling, whose tomb is in the south-east corner of Chellington Church, is reported to have kept cows on Chellington Hill as a boy. He subsequently rose to be Sheriff of London and Middlesex in 1767, and in the following year, together with Edmund Burke, represented Wendover in Parliament. (fn. 5) Chellington received an inclosure award in 1805. (fn. 6)
There is no mention of CHELLINGTON MANOR by name in the Domesday Survey, but guided by feudal evidence (i.e. the later appearance of the Trailly fee in Chellington) there can be no doubt that it is to be identified with a certain manor, to which no name is attached, held by the Bishop of Coutances. This manor, which contained 4 hides, had been held by Turbert, a man of King Edward, and the bishop held it in exchange for 'Bledone,' to be identified with Bleadon in Somerset, where the bishop held much land. (fn. 7) Geoffrey, Bishop of Coutances, who was a trusted friend of the Conqueror, appears to have held Chellington in a personal, not an official, capacity. (fn. 8) He took part in the rebellion of the barons against William Rufus in 1088, but was included in the general pardon granted to them. He died in 1093, and the overlordship of Chellington subsequently passed to the honour of Gloucester. In 1257 and again in 1278–9 the manor was held by service of half a knight's fee, (fn. 9) which by 1290 had diminished to one-third of a fee. (fn. 10) In 1360 the land was held of this honour by service of suit at court twice yearly. (fn. 11) The last reference to the overlordship occurs in 1609–10, when the manor was held of the king, into whose possession that portion of the honour to which Chellington was attached had passed. (fn. 12)
The Domesday tenant of this manor was Geoffrey de 'Trailly,' who probably derived his name from Trelly, a few miles south of Coutances, and with whom originated the Bedfordshire family and barony of Trailly. (fn. 13) Geoffrey also held a large manor of 10 hides at Yielden in Stodden Hundred, and the Trailly, family will be found worked out in more detail under that parish (q.v.). It is not until 1257, on the death of John de Trailly, that mention has been found of Chellington Manor by name, (fn. 14) but from that time onward the manor passed in an unbroken line from father to son until the 15th century.
In 1278–9 Chellington Manor, which was then held by Philip Burnet for life of the gift of Walter Trailly, included free tenants of whom Norman son of Walter held 1 virgate of land at 4s. rent which went towards sustaining a lamp in the church. John de Cowe held 1½ virgates at 1d. per annum, including a capital messuage with a fishery in half the River Ouse from Harrold Bridge to Odell Ford; half virgates were also held by Godfrey de Carldon and Richard Bridge respectively. (fn. 15) The manor was extended in 1290 at 14s. 5d. and ten capons, rent of assize of the free tenants, and £7 6s. 1d. rent of customary tenants. Walter de Trailly also claimed view of frankpledge and other manorial rights in Chellington in the reign of Edward III and paid a fine to the king for their exercise. (fn. 16)
In 1359–60 John Trailly acquired the more important manor of Carlton (q.v.), (fn. 17) and from this date until 1710 Chellington follows the same descent. (fn. 18) Between that year and 1720 together with the advowsons of Carlton and Chellington it passed from the Mordaunts to Sir Thomas Trevor, afterwards Baron Trevor of Bromham, who was presenting to both churches at the latter date. (fn. 19) It thus became merged in what is known as the Bromham estate, of which it forms part at the present day. In 1805 Thomas second Viscount Hampden was lord of Chellington, (fn. 20) and this manor, like Bromham, is at present the property of Mr. Trevor Wingfield. (fn. 21)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS has a chancel 20 ft. by 14 ft. 6 in., a nave 40 ft. 8 in. by 18 ft. 9 in., north aisle 7 ft. 2 in. wide, south aisle 6 ft. 3 in. wide, and a west tower 9 ft. 6 in. square, with a tall stone spire.
No part of the church seems older than the 13th century, the chancel and both aisles of the nave dating from c. 1250. Both arcades of the nave seem to have been rebuilt in the 14th century, the north arcade c. 1330 and the south some thirty years later. The fine west tower was added about the middle of the same century, and since then the building has not altered its plan, though a good deal repaired in modern times and entirely replastered within.
In the 14th century, but after the building of the tower, the aisle walls were heightened and the pitch of the roof altered, and it seems that the 13thcentury roof ran unbroken over nave and aisles. The clearstory is a 15th-century addition.
The chancel is built of freestone rubble, with small ashlar quoins; its east window (c. 1370) is of four lights with net tracery and vertical lines in the head, and on each side of it are stone brackets for images, that on the south side being broken, and in the north-east angle there is a locker. In the north wall there is a 14th-century window of two lights with flowing tracery and a label with dripstones now of Roman cement; there is a similar window opposite to it in the south wall. In the north wall near the chancel arch there is a small low-side window with a square head but semicircular rear arch, and in the east end of the south wall there is a cinquefoiled ogee-headed piscina. A square-headed priest's door and a second low-side window in this wall have been built up. The chancel arch is a very pretty piece of 13th-century work, of two orders, both being chamfered on the east side, but the outer has deeplycut mouldings towards the nave. The roof is of steep pitch and is modern.
The nave arcades are of four bays. The north arcade, which is the earlier of the two, has piers of four engaged shafts and half-octagonal responds; the capitals and bases are moulded, and the arches are of two orders, with plain and hollow chamfers separated by a hollow, while those of the south arcade are of two plain chamfered orders with octagonal columns and moulded capitals and bases much renewed. Above each arcade is a clearstory with three similar windows a side, each of two trefoiled lights under a square head. The roof is modern, the principals being supported by plain stone corbels, and the nave walls finished with a modern parapet. Both aisles have 13th-century lancets in the west wall, and the north aisle also in the east; the east window of the north aisle is set in an arch of the full width of the aisle and partly overlapped by the east respond of the north arcade, which seems to be thicker than its predecessor; the same thing is to be seen in the south aisle. There is a trefoiled piscina in the south wall of the north aisle, between the east end and the respond of the nave arcade, and an aumbry in the north wall, and further west a rebuilt 15th-century window like those in the north aisle at Carlton, of three cinquefoiled lights with flowing tracery, and an internal as well as an external label. Further to the west in this wall is a narrow two-light 14th-century window with a square head and trefoiled lights, with a trefoil over. The north doorway is a very good piece of 13th-century work, though now blocked. It is set within a gable mould, and is of two moulded orders with a line of dog-tooth and pairs of shafts in the jambs. West of the doorway is a second 14th-century window of two lights, with a new mullion. The aisle has an original cornice with mask corbels, and pairs of buttresses at the angles. Under the east end of the aisle was a charnel, the openings to which may still be seen. The east end of the south aisle has been restored and all the west part of its south wall rebuilt. It has a cornice and buttresses like the north aisle, and at the south-east a 14th-century two-light window, also like those in the north aisle. The south porch is plain and probably not ancient, and the south doorway is 14th-century work clumsily reset. There is a small trefoiled piscina at the south-east, and below the cornice of the aisle is a 17th-century sundial inscribed with ut hora fugit vita. At the south-east of the nave are the rood-loft door and the remains of a spiral stone staircase which led to it.
The 14th-century tower is in three stages, with pairs of buttresses at the western angles. There are cinquefoiled niches on the north, west and south on the ground stage outside, doubtless for images. On the west is a two-light window with trefoiled heads, and in the second stage plain lancets on the north and south. The belfry windows are of the same type as the west window below, and are all in modern stonework The broach spire has also had its upper half renewed, and all its spire lights are modern. The tower arch is in three chamfered orders. In the south aisle there is a late 13th-century circular font on a square stem, with chamfered angles and four detached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. There are some broken pieces of 17th-century Flemish glass in the tracery of the east window. Most of the pewing is modern, but there are some 17thcentury benches in the aisles and a 17th-century oak pulpit, altar table and chest.
There are four bells, the tenor being cracked. The treble is by John Hodson, 1654; the second, of 1630, is inscribed 'Prayse ye the Lord'; and the third is a 15th-century London bell, with the initials of John Danyell and the legend 'Sancta Katerina ora pro nobis.' The tenor is by the Buckingham founders, W. Atton and Robert Atton, 1611.
The first mention that has been found of Chellington Church is in 1278–9, when it was attached to the manor and endowed with one messuage, a croft and 3 roods of land. (fn. 22) It has followed the same descent as Chellington Manor (q.v.), with which it is always found associated. In 1291 it was worth 7½ marks, and was assigned as part of the dower of Eleanor widow of Walter de Trailly. (fn. 23) In the Liber Regis Chellington rectory is valued at £10, (fn. 24) and in 1769 it was consolidated with Carlton Rectory by Act of Parliament. (fn. 25) The advowson is now in the gift of and held by the Rev. William Henry Denison.
In 1790 Henry Sharp by his will bequeathed £100 consols, the dividends—subject to the payment of 5s. a year to the sexton for keeping his family graves in order—to be applied in the distribution of bread to poor indigent parishioners of Chellington.