A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Hikleford (xiii cent.); Ikelingford, Ikeleford (xiv cent.); Icklesford (xvi cent.).
Ickleford is a long and narrow parish of 1,036 acres, running northwards from Hitchin, from which parish it is divided by the River Oughton. The average level of the land is only about 180 ft. above the ordnance datum. The parish lies in the valley of the River Hiz, which forms its boundary on the east, parting it from Bedfordshire. The parish is entirely agricultural. In 1905 the arable land was estimated at about 800 acres, permanent grass at about 200 acres, while woodland was only 10 acres. (fn. 1) The soil is chalk.
In the middle of the village is a triangular green called the Upper Green, to distinguish it from the Lower Green, which lies at the north end. Around the Upper Green stand, on the south-west the parish church, to the north some cottages and the school, and on the east Pound Farm with a moat supplied with water from the River Hiz. The village extends to the south-west along the Icknield Way and a road leading south to Bearton Green. At the junction of these roads is Ickleford House, the residence of Mr. David Simson. On the road to Bearton Green, about a quarter of a mile from the church, is an old two-storied timber-framed house, on a brick foundation, covered with rough-cast and with a tiled roof. At each end are gabled wings only slightly projecting beyond the central part; one wing has an oriel window, over which is the date 1599. The upper story is overhanging. The village continues northward along the west side of the road, the east side being on low land adjoining the Hiz. The Icknield Way runs through the south of the parish.
Old Ramerick, a moated manor-house, lies 2 miles to the north of the church, and is a two-storied house of L-shaped plan. The main block is 18th-century work of brick, the wing is of the 17th century, and is built of clunch with brick quoins. The moat has almost disappeared.
The Bedford branch of the Great Northern railway passes through the parish, but the nearest station is at Hitchin.
Field-names of the 16th century which occur in this parish are Callouse Peece, Whesell Dytch and Hambridge Peece.
There is no mention of Ickleford in the Domesday Survey. It is evident that it was then included in the manor of Pirton and that the manors which subsequently appear were formed from that manor by subinfeudation. (fn. 2)
The manor of ICKLEFORD was held in the 13th century of the lords of Pirton as a quarter of a knight's fee by the family of Foliot. (fn. 3) Isabel widow of John Foliot appears in 1285 as holding part of the estate of Thomas de la Sale, a felon. (fn. 4) In 1287 John Foliot, then a minor and possibly son of Isabel, claimed view of frankpledge in Ickleford. (fn. 5) By 1303 this quarter of a fee was in the hands of John Fitz Simon, (fn. 6) and in 1346 Hugh Fitz Simon was holding it with several coparceners. One of these was Simon Francis of London, (fn. 7) into whose family the manor seems subsequently to have passed. Ralph Francis (Fraunceys) son of William died seised of the manor in March 1532–3, leaving as heir his son William, aged six years. (fn. 8) This William was holding in 1556. (fn. 9) In 1585 Richard Francis (of Ticknall, co. Derby), apparently his son, (fn. 10) mortgaged the mansion or manor-house of Ickleford, together with certain lands, to Thomas Ansell or Aunsell, (fn. 11) and two years later Francis released the manor to Ansell, (fn. 12) excepting the manor-house and closes called Conygers, Dovehouse Close, Pennes, the Old Orchard, the New Orchard, Duncroft and Earles Close and a water mill called Newe Mill (probably because Ansell already held these). Ansell died in 1606, leaving three sons, William, Thomas and Edward, between whom, by his will, the estate was divided. Thomas and Alice his wife received the chief part, William, the eldest, having only one messuage, and Edward and his wife Susan a tenement and the water mill called Westmill. (fn. 13) The manor descended in the family of Thomas Ansell, (fn. 14) and came to another Thomas Ansell, who was holding in 1714, (fn. 15) and apparently to a third Thomas, who suffered a recovery in 1740. (fn. 16) His widow Elizabeth was holding in 1763, with reversion to her daughter Mary and her husband Thomas Goostrey, (fn. 17) who were in possession in 1776. (fn. 18) In that year they conveyed the manor to Charles Loundes and John Dashwood King, probably for a sale to Thomas Whitehurst. (fn. 19) He in 1788 sold it to Thomas Cockayne, who died in 1809, leaving a son and heir Thomas. (fn. 20) At his death he left an only child Marion Charlotte Emily, who married the Hon. Frederick Dudley Ryder, third son of the first Earl of Harrowby His son, Captain Dudley Ryder, R.N., died in 1898, and the manor was bought by Captain C. J. Fellowes, R.N. After his death it was purchased in December 1910 by Mr. David Simson, who is the present owner. (fn. 21)
The manor of RAMERICK (Ranewick, Ramwardwike, Ramardewick, Ramorwyk, xiii cent.; Ranworthewyk, xiv cent.) was also held of the manor of Pirton as a quarter of a knight's fee. (fn. 22) The first tenant of whom there is record or tradition is Richard Reincourt, whose daughter Margaret is said to have married Robert Filliot and to have had a son Richard Filliot. (fn. 23) Richard Filliot's daughter and heir Margery (fn. 24) brought the manor by marriage to her husband Wiscard Ledet. (fn. 25) Wiscard's daughter and heir Christine married Henry de Braybrok, (fn. 26) by whom she had two sons, Wiscard and John. Wiscard and his son Walter both died before Christine. (fn. 27) Walter left two daughters, Alice and Christine, who married two brothers, William and John Latimer. (fn. 28) The manor remained with Christine, who held it by subfeoffment from her sister. (fn. 29) It descended to her second son John, (fn. 30) who took his mother's name of Braybrok and held the property with his wife Joan. (fn. 31) Gerard de Braybrok, possibly their son, was assessed for this fee in 1303. (fn. 32) In 1333 a grant was made to Gerard de Braybrok, son of the above Gerard, (fn. 33) of free warren in his demesne lands of Ramerick, (fn. 34) and two years later he (then Sir Gerard) and his wife Isabel settled the estate on themselves for life, (fn. 35) with remainder to their son Gerard, with a further remainder to their second son Henry. (fn. 36) Sir Gerard held till his death in 1359 (fn. 37) and was succeeded under this settlement by Gerard, his son, (fn. 38) who married Eleanor de St. Amand. His only son and heir Gerald died in 1428, leaving by his wife Parnel a daughter Elizabeth, (fn. 39) who married first Sir William Beauchamp, kt. (fn. 40) (summoned to Parliament as Lord St. Amand from January 1448–9), (fn. 41) and secondly Roger Toocotes. Her second husband forfeited the estate early in the reign of Richard III as a rebel, and it was granted to Thomas Meryng, one of the king's servitors, (fn. 42) but was restored to Roger Toocotes some seven years later. (fn. 43) Elizabeth died in 1491 (fn. 44) and her husband a year later. (fn. 45) The manor was inherited by Richard Beauchamp, kt., Lord St. Amand, son of Elizabeth by her first husband. Richard was attainted in 1483, but restored two years later by Henry VII. He died in June 1508 without legitimate issue, (fn. 46) having bequeathed all his estates to his natural son Anthony Wroughton alias St. Amand, who conveyed the manor in 1520–1 to St. John's College, Cambridge. (fn. 47) This grant caused some trouble between the college and George Brooke, Lord Cobham, who claimed the manor as heir to Richard Beauchamp, being descended from Reginald brother of Sir Gerard Braybrok, who married Eleanor de St. Amand. (fn. 48) The master of the college appeared against Brooke in a Star Chamber suit for having in February 1529–30 incited various persons to come with weapons at three o'clock in the morning to break into the manor of Ramerick. According to the master, these brought ladders 6 or 7 ft. high and broke the wall of the house and thus entered it and kept possession, refusing admission to a justice of the peace. (fn. 49) Lord Cobham pleaded that he was seised in demesne as of fee of the manor and lived there peaceably until unjustly disseised by the college. (fn. 50) A few years later the dispute was brought to a close by the surrender by Lord Cobham to St. John's College of his interest in the manor. (fn. 51) In 1617 the college received a grant of court leet and view of frankpledge in Ickleford. (fn. 52) The manor has remained in their possession until the present day.
The priory of Wymondley had lands in Ickleford, by whose grant does not appear. A certain Thomas de la Sale, who was imprisoned for felony in the reign of Edward I, held a messuage and 12¾ acres of land of the prior. (fn. 53) The monastery also had a mill called Hyde Mill, (fn. 54) which at the time of the Dissolution was held by the convent of Elstow, co. Bedford, at a rent of 30s. The mill and the rent were granted by Henry VIII to James Nedeham in February 1542–3. (fn. 55) They descended to John Nedeham, who died seised in 1591, leaving a son and heir George. (fn. 56)
In 1566 John Brockett and Ellen his wife conveyed an estate, under the name of the manor of Ickleford, to trustees for a settlement. (fn. 57) Edward Brockett some years after alienated this to Edmund Knott. (fn. 58) A messuage in Ickleford, the residence of Daniel Knott, is mentioned as part of the manor of Ickleford in 1607, (fn. 59) and Edmund Knott, yeoman, died seised of a capital messuage there in 1618, leaving a son and heir John. (fn. 60)
The parish church of ST. KATHERINE, standing in the middle of the village, is of stone, entirely covered with plaster. It consists of a chancel, nave, south aisle and south chapel, north vestry, west tower and south porch. (fn. 61)
The earliest part of the church is the nave, dating from the middle of the 12th century. The chancel and west tower were built early in the following century, and the south porch was added about the middle of the 15th century. In 1859 the church was restored and the south aisle, south chapel and north vestry were added.
The chancel windows are all modern except a 13th-century lancet in the north wall. A modern door opens to the north vestry. The piscina, with a broken bowl, is of the 15th century. Above it is some 15th-century tracery, possibly the remnants of a rood screen.
In the north wall of the nave are two windows, one on each side of a blocked 12th-century doorway, which, although it is much decayed and repaired with cement, has a well-preserved cheveron moulding on the rear-arch. The eastern of the two north windows, of the 14th century, is of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a square head, and the western, of the 15th century, is of two cinquefoiled lights, also with tracery, in a pointed head. Both are much repaired with cement. At the east end of the wall is a roodloft staircase. A much broken piscina is of the 15th century, probably moved from its original position. The roof is of the 15th century, supported on grotesque stone corbels. The south arcade and clearstory of the nave are modern, the latter having three circular lights with roll-ended cusps, surmounted externally by a moulded roll. The modern south aisle has three pairs of pointed lights, with shafted external jambs and drop mouldings with sculptured stops.
In the south wall is a 12th-century doorway with a semicircular arch of three moulded orders, the two shafts on each side having leaf-carved capitals and moulded abaci. The original bases have disappeared, and the doorway has been repaired with cement. This door leads to the south porch, which is embattled, with a central niche over the two-centred entrance arch of two continuous orders. Above the arch is a much decayed string course. To the west of the south door is a 15th-century two-light window with tracery, much repaired with cement. The west tower is of two stages with heavy buttresses, those at the north-west and south-west angles being diagonal. The low pyramidal roof is of lead. The tower arch, which is two-centred, and a small lancet on the south side, are probably original. The west window and the two-light belfry windows are of the 15th century and are repaired with cement.
In the nave is a brass of about 1380 of Thomas Somer and his wife Marjory. The figures are halflength and the inscription is imperfect. There is in the church a 6-in. stone slab measuring 5 ft. by 2 ft. on its upper face and with edges moulded to a large hollow chamfer. An oak chair in the chancel, with a canopy, dates from the end of the 16th or beginning of the 17th century, and is of foreign workmanship.
The bells are five in number: the treble and second are by John Warner & Sons, 1857, the third is by Richard Chandler, 1680, the fourth by Miles Graye, 1650, and the fifth by Thomas Russell of Wootton, 1726.
The plate consists of a cup of 1796, presented by Thomas Cockayne in 1807 and modern paten and flagon, the former made from two old silver patens.
The registers consisted down to 1830 of three books. Since then the first, containing baptisms, burials and marriages from 1653 to 1748, has disappeared; the second book contains baptisms and burials from 1749 to 1812 and marriages from 1749 to 1753; the third book contains marriages from 1756 to 1812.
The church of Ickleford was a chapel to Pirton (fn. 62) (q.v.), and the two livings were held together until divided by order of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1847. The advowson was purchased by Thomas Wilson in 1868. (fn. 63) It was conveyed before 1875 to the Rev. T. I. Walton, and now belongs to the Rev. C. A. Walton, his son.
There was also a chapel at Ramerick attached to the church of Pirton in the 13th century, (fn. 64) but there seems to be no further trace of it.
In the 18th century two houses were registered for meetings of Protestant Dissenters, and another was certified in 1824. (fn. 65) There is now a Wesleyan chapel in Ickleford.
In 1657 Edward Ansell by his will gave 40s. a year for the poor charged on 2 acres of land, exchanged under the Ickleford Inclosure Act for a close of 3 acres in Ramerick Farm, now belonging to St. John's College, Cambridge.
In the Parliamentary returns of 1786 it is stated that a donor unknown gave a rent-charge of 20s. to poor widows, which is paid out of West Mill in the parish of Shillington (Beds.).
The annual sum of 60s. is distributed to about thirty recipients.