A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Rushden is a small parish with an area of only 1,508 acres, of which about two-thirds are arable land, a quarter permanent grass and a fifteenth woodland. (fn. 1) Friars Wood, of some considerable size, is in the north-east of the parish and Bachelors Wood to the north of Southend Green. The parish lies on the chalk downs, which here reach a height of 500 ft. in the north-east, sloping down to about 350 ft. in the south.
Evidence of early settlement on the chalk lands of this district is furnished by the discovery of about forty implements of the Bronze Age at Cumberlow Green, which is the most important find of this period in Hertfordshire. (fn. 2)
The village of Rushden is very small. It is situated a little off the road connecting Baldock and Buntingford, and lies about midway between these two towns, in which are its nearest railway stations. An old road, called in Rushden (of which it forms the western boundary) Shaw Green Lane, intersects this road near Cumberlow Green, and after passing through Rushden and Wallington joins the road known as the Icknield Way. Another road which branches off from this at Cumberlow Green and joins it again near Redhill passes through the Mill End. The church of St. Mary stands a little to the east of it, with the school close by. The vicarage is half a mile to the east at Southend Green. To the south of the church in the main part of the village called Church End is a plastered timber building of the 16th or 17th century, formerly used as a post office. It has a tiled roof and one overhanging gable. It bears the date 1730, but this probably only refers to the plaster. Near it stands the old Rose and Crown Inn, which dates from the end of the 16th century. It also has a tiled roof and is built of plastered timber which is decorated with combed work. In addition to these there are some 17th-century thatched cottages and farm buildings. The village smithy is at Mill End.
The parish of Rushden includes several small hamlets. Shaw Green, on Shaw Green Lane, is a mile to the north-west of the village, Mill End is half a mile to the west, Southend Green half a mile to the east, connected with the village by a road, Offley Green a mile to the north-east between Julians and Friar's Wood, whilst Cumberlow Green is situated on the main road at the point where it enters the parish one mile to the south-west of the village.
The manor of RUSHDEN was held before the Conquest by two sokemen, 'men' of Archbishop Stigand. (fn. 3) In 1086 it was assessed at 5 hides and was held by Sigar de Cioches. (fn. 4) The lands of the Cioches family lay for the most part in Northamptonshire and were known as the honour of Chokes. (fn. 5) These lands descended to Anselm de Cioches, who forfeited under Henry I, and in 1130–1 paid 170 marks of silver, five warhorses and three palfreys for the restoration of his lands. (fn. 6) He was succeeded by his son Robert de Cioches or Chokes. (fn. 7) Robert was the last in the direct line to hold this honour, which on his death passed to William of Bethune, advocate of Arras, brother of Baldwin de Bethune Earl of Aumâle, who in 1200 paid £100 to have seisin of the lands in England (fn. 8) which had belonged to Robert de Cioches and which he claimed as great-nephew of Anselm father of Robert. (fn. 9) In 1203 Baldwin was granted the lands and possessions of his brother William in England. (fn. 10) Baldwin died in 1212, (fn. 11) and William de Bethune must have died shortly after, as in 1214 his son Robert was allowed full seisin of his lands. (fn. 12) Robert was succeeded by his brother Daniel in 1217, (fn. 13) and the latter before 1223 by Robert de Bethune, advocate of Arras, (fn. 14) presumably his son. Robert granted the honour of Chokes to Robert Count of Gisnes, who became the advocate of Bethune. (fn. 15) He was holding 3 hides of land in Rushden when he died. (fn. 16) After this the overlordship of Rushden appears to have lapsed. In 1461 the manor was said to be held of George Hyde in socage, (fn. 17) but this was possibly an error, as seventeen years later it was said to be held of the king in chief. (fn. 18)
The first sub-tenant in the manor of Rushden of whom there is any trace is William Basset, who held it at the beginning of the 13th century. (fn. 19) In 1239 a William Basset, probably his son (see advowson), was holding a carucate of land in Rushden of Thomas de Breaute. (fn. 20) This William paid £6 yearly for the lands which he held in Rushden of the honour of Chokes. (fn. 21) In 1272 Peter Basset was evidently lord of the manor, (fn. 22) but before 1310 he had been succeeded by Robert Basset, (fn. 23) of whom there is mention in 1313, 1353, and 1384. (fn. 24)
With La More in Sandon (q.v.) Rushden came soon after to the Bealknaps and in 1390 was in the king's hands by the forfeiture of Sir Robert Bealknap. It was granted with other lands to Juliane, wife of Robert, for the support of Robert, then in exile in Ireland, and of Juliane and her children. (fn. 25) Hamon son of Robert was holding the manor in 1419 and sold it in that year to John Fray and Agnes his wife. (fn. 26) John Fray held it until his death in 1461, (fn. 27) when by his will it remained with his widow Agnes for life, with reversion to their daughter Agnes and her heirs, with contingent remainder to their youngest daughter Katherine and their other daughters in succession. (fn. 28) Agnes Fray died in 1478, (fn. 29) their daughter Agnes died without issue, (fn. 30) and Rushden passed to Katherine, then wife of Humphrey Stafford. (fn. 31) In 1482 Katherine died, (fn. 32) her husband only surviving her for four years, (fn. 33) and Rushden descended to her young son Humphrey, aged eight. (fn. 34) He was knighted before 1531, (fn. 35) and died in 1545, his son Humphrey, aged forty, being his heir. (fn. 36) This Humphrey (of Kirby Hall, co. Northants) was knighted in February 1546–7 at the coronation of Edward VI. (fn. 37) He held the manor (fn. 38) until 1574, when he sold it with a wood called Westhay to Robert Newport of Sandon (co. Herts.). (fn. 39) Robert Newport died in 1583, (fn. 40) and Rushden passed to Edward Newport, (fn. 41) apparently his son. (fn. 42) He with his wife Anne sold it in 1604 to John and William Rowley. (fn. 43) By 1615 it had come into the possession of John Goodman (whose family had held land in Rushden for some time previously), (fn. 44) who with John Goodman, junior, and Grace his wife then conveyed it to Sir William Smyth. (fn. 45)
From Goodman the manor seems to have passed to Sir Thomas Stanley, kt., of Leytonstone (co. Essex). (fn. 46) His wife was Mary Hammond, sister to William Hammond and cousin to Richard Lovelace the poet. Stanley held in 1648, when he settled the manor on his son Thomas Stanley, (fn. 47) who is known as a poet and as the author of the Lives of the Philosophers, (fn. 48) on the occasion of his marriage with Dorothy daughter of Sir James Enyon, bart., of Floore (co. Northants). (fn. 49) Thomas Stanley died in 1678, (fn. 50) and his widow Dorothy Stanley and his son Thomas sold the manor the following year to Joseph Edmonds (fn. 51) of Cumberlow Green, son of Simon Edmonds, alderman of London. (fn. 52) On the death of Joseph Edmonds Rushden descended to his daughter and heiress Anne, who married Sir Cleave More, bart., in or before 1689. (fn. 53) She died in 1720, (fn. 54) and Rushden was inherited by her son Sir Joseph Edmonds More, (fn. 55) who continued to hold it with his wife until 1729, when it was bought by John Spence (fn. 56) in trust with other lands under the terms of the will of Luke Hodges, merchant of London, who had married John's daughter Mary Spence in 1692. (fn. 57) This was proved in 1715 by his widow, (fn. 58) who subsequently married Benjamin Avery, LL.D. (fn. 59) On her death in 1737 (fn. 60) these lands passed by settlement to the sons of Dorothy Mole, cousin of Luke Hodges. The two eldest sons must have died without children, for in 1779 Rushden had descended to Christopher Hodges, formerly Mole, late of the Inner Temple, only son and heir of Christopher Mole, late of the East India House, deceased, (fn. 61) third son of Dorothy Mole. (fn. 62) In this year Christopher Hodges sold it to Adolphus Meetkerke the younger of Julians. (fn. 63) He died in 1784, (fn. 64) and his son Adolphus Meetkerke died in 1841. (fn. 65) He was succeeded by a son of the same name, who on his death in 1879 left two daughters. (fn. 66) The elder of these, Mary Florence, married in 1878 Frederick Morehouse Metcalfe of Inglethorpe Hall (co. Norfolk), who died in 1893. (fn. 67) Mrs. Metcalfe inherited her father's estates in Rushden, and is the present owner of the manor, residing at Julians. (fn. 68)
Bradfield Grange alias Fryers Grange
BRADFIELD GRANGE alias FRYERS GRANGE (fn. 69) originally formed part of the manor of Broadfield, but there seems no doubt that it lay in Rushden. (fn. 70) In the days of Edward the Confessor Broadfield was divided between the men of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Queen Edith. (fn. 71) In 1086 one of these holdings, a hide and a quarter of a virgate, had passed into the possession of Hardwin de Scales and was held of him by Theobald. (fn. 72) In 1150 Theobald, probably grandson of the former Theobald, with consent of his brother William, granted 30 acres of land in Broadfield (i.e. in the manor of Broadfield) to Warden Abbey (co. Beds.). (fn. 73) This estate, according to a later confirmation of the grant, included the grange of Bradfield and a wood named Fildenwode. (fn. 74) In 1291 the abbot was assessed at £1 19s. 8¼d. for his lands in Rushden. (fn. 75) These remained with the abbey until its dissolution. (fn. 76) In 1543 they were granted as 'Bradfield Grange in the parish of Rushden' to Richard Andrewes of Hailes (co. Gloucester), (fn. 77) who in the same year alienated the Grange to John Newport, who for many years had held a lease of it under the abbey of Warden. (fn. 78)
John Newport died in 1552 and his lands passed to his son and heir Robert, aged thirty. (fn. 79) Robert acquired the manor of Rushden (q.v.), and on his death in 1583 Edward Newport inherited his lands. (fn. 80) In 1603 Edward Newport alienated Bradfield Grange to John and William Rowley, (fn. 81) who sold it to John Stone of co. Hunts., (fn. 82) son of William Stone of Segenhoe (co. Beds.). After this there seems no trace of it as a separate property. The situation of Bradfield or Fryers Grange is marked by a large wood called Friars Wood in the north-east of the parish, which has Friars Farm on its north side.
JULIANS was a capital messuage or farm which Richard and William, sons of John Stone, bought in 1603 from Edward Newport, who had acquired it in 1586 by purchase from William Wilson of Walkern. (fn. 83) Richard Stone was knighted, and in 1651, with Elizabeth his wife and John Stone, was holding land in Rushden. (fn. 84) On his death his heir was his son Thomas Stone, who died in 1696. (fn. 85) He left no son, and his elder daughter and co-heir Penelope inherited Julians. (fn. 86) She married in 1699 Adolphus Meetkerke, who was descended from Sir Adolphus Meetkerke, President of the High Court of Flanders in the latter half of the 16th century. (fn. 87) He was an adherent of the Reformed religion and took part in an endeavour to surrender Leyden to the Earl of Essex. (fn. 88) The plot failed and he was obliged to take refuge in England. Later he was appointed ambassador to England by the United States of Holland, and he died in London in 1591. (fn. 89) His two eldest sons were killed fighting in the Netherlands, but his fourth son Edward, who was only a year old at the time of his father's death, settled in England, and, taking holy orders, was for many years Professor of Hebrew at Christ Church, Oxford. (fn. 90) His grandson, who married the heiress to Julians, died in 1732, (fn. 91) and Penelope died in 1746, (fn. 92) when Julians descended to their son Adolphus Meetkerke, (fn. 93) who purchased the manor of Rushden in 1779, and from this date Julians has descended with that manor (q.v.).
The mansion-house of Julians is situated about half a mile north of the church. It was erected by William Stone about 1610. The house was entirely recased about the beginning of the 18th century, but the old walls appear to have been left standing, so that the general arrangement of the house is very little changed. The present front is cemented and is very plain. The doorway is in the middle, entering into the hall. The staircase opens directly off the hall, and probably at one time formed a back projection, but considerable additions have been made to the house. The stair is a very good example of the Queen Anne period, with delicately twisted and fluted balusters and carved ends to the steps. The details are very similar to the stair at the Great House, Cheshunt, which belongs to the same period, though the arrangement of the returned ends of the steps is somewhat different. There are wide folding doors at the foot of the stair, to shut it off from the hall when desired. To the right of the hall on entering is the drawing-room—no doubt the old parlour, and to the left is the kitchen wing, which still contains a little 17th-century panelling and an oak chimneypiece. The site of the old Bury can be traced in the park, immediately to the north of the church.
The descent of the manor of CUMBERLOW GREEN (Comerlowe Green, Cumbarlo Green, xvi cent.) is very difficult to trace. It appears to have been called the manor of Broadfield in 1346, when it was held by Walter de Mauny, (fn. 94) and from him it afterwards took the name of Maunseys. (fn. 95) He does not appear to have held it long, and it may probably be identified with the manor of Broadfield which in February 1361–2 was in the hands of John de Ellerton, King's Serjeant-at-Arms, to whom Edward III granted free warren. (fn. 96) In 1376 Sir Walter Lee, kt., quitclaimed all right in the manor of Cumberlow to Richard de Ravensere and others, (fn. 97) probably in trust for the lord of the manor of Broadfield, for in 1428 Walter de Mauny's holding had come to John Clerk, to whom the manor of Broadfield belonged. (fn. 98) It descended with that manor (q.v.) until 1486, when, on the death of Margaret Dunstable, they became separated and Maunseys in Cumberlow descended to her son and heir Thomas Hatfield, (fn. 99) who sold it in 1492, as the manor of Broadfield in Cumberlow Green, to Thomas Oxenbrigge. (fn. 100) He must have sold it to John Fortescue, who died seised of the manor of Cumberlow Green in 1517, when it descended to his son Henry. (fn. 101) Henry Fortescue was holding lands in Cumberlow in 1537–8, (fn. 102) but he conveyed the manor to William Goodman, (fn. 103) who was holding it in 1574. (fn. 104) On his death it descended to his son John, to whom Francis Fortescue quitclaimed all right in the manor in 1577. (fn. 105) John Goodman, who built a house at Cumberlow Green, (fn. 106) was holding the manor in 1601. (fn. 107) He shortly afterwards acquired the manor of Rushden (q.v.), and from this date the two manors have descended together. Cumberlow Green lies in the south-west of the parish, on the borders of Clothall, into which parish the manor extended and in which the manor-house was situated. (fn. 108)
The Knights Hospitallers held certain lands in Rushden which were attached to their preceptory of Shingay in Cambridgeshire. (fn. 109) This manor of Shingay was given them by Sybil de Raynes, daughter of Roger de Montgomery, in 1140, (fn. 110) and it is probable that the land attached to it in Rushden represents the half hide which Earl Roger held in Broadfield in 1086, (fn. 111) for there is no further trace of this holding in Broadfield and the boundaries of the manorial holdings do not seem to correspond with the present boundaries of the parishes. (fn. 112) In 1198 the Knights Hospitallers were holding land in Rushden and were fined for receiving a fugitive, Ralph Rusticus, there. (fn. 113) They continued to hold these lands (fn. 114) until the dissolution of the order, after which the preceptory of Shingay with all its appurtenances in Rushden and elsewhere was granted by Henry VIII to Sir Richard Long in tail-male in 1540. (fn. 115) There is no further record of the Rushden estate after this date. Shingay survived as the name of a wood, which is marked on the tithe map of 1845. (fn. 116)
The Knights Templars also seem to have had a small holding in Rushden, attached to their manor of Temple Dinsley, in 1309, the year of the suppression of their order, when a report was ordered to be made on all their lands in Hertfordshire. (fn. 117) After the grant of the Templars' lands to the Knights Hospitallers (fn. 118) this estate probably became amalgamated with the Hospitallers' other holding in Rushden.
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of chancel 28 ft. by 14 ft., nave 43 ft. by 20 ft., south porch, west tower 11 ft. by 10 ft. 6 in., all dimensions taken internally. The walls are of flint rubble covered with cement, the dressings are of stone; the chancel is built of brick and the roof slated, the nave roof being covered with lead.
The nave dates from about 1340–50; the chancel is modern, although built on the old foundations, parts of which are visible on the south side. The chancel arch is of 15th-century date; the west tower of about 1400.
In the original 14th-century plinth visible on the south side of the chancel are the jambs of an old doorway. The four-light window in the east wall of the chancel and the two windows of two lights in each of the north and south walls, together with the doorway in the south, are all modern. In the south wall a late 14th-century piscina has been reset; the head is cinquefoiled and the plain projecting sill is made up with cement. The 15th-century chancel arch is of two moulded orders, the inner one supported on responds with capitals but no bases, the mouldings stopping on a plain splay. The jambs have been repaired. In the north wall of the nave is a late 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights under a four-centred arch, a good deal repaired; a late 14th-century doorway has been blocked: it has an arch of two orders. In the south wall are two windows of two cinquefoiled lights with transom and traceried heads under four-centred arches; they are of late 15th-century work much repaired. The mid-14th-century south doorway is of three moulded orders, with moulded capitals and splayed bases; the capital on the east side is enriched with leaf ornament, the other being plain. The south porch is modern. At the south-east angle of the nave are the remains of the stair to the rood loft, constructed in the thickness of the wall. In the east wall, north of the chancel arch, is a large niche with cinquefoiled four-centred arch under a square head; above is a frieze filled with square panels cusped and traceried; portions of the flanking buttresses and the sill have been cut away. It is of 15th-century work. On the north wall of the nave, opposite the south door, are traces of paintings.
The west tower is of three stages with an embattled parapet. The tower arch is of three splayed orders with responds and moulded capitals, the bases are modern. The west window is of two trefoiled lights with a sixfoiled opening in the centre and is of late 14th-century date. The second stage is pierced on the south face only by a narrow loop-light; the belfry lights are single with trefoiled heads and are much decayed.
The octagonal font belongs to the middle of the 15th century; the sides of the basin are decorated with cusped and foliated panels; the base mouldings have been repaired with cement; the cover is of 17th-century work.
The registers are in four books: (i) baptisms from 1607 to 1668, burials 1607 to 1668, marriages 1607 to 1669; (ii) baptisms and burials from 1673 to 1770, marriages 1673 to 1753; (iii) baptisms and burials from 1700 to 1812, marriages 1700 to 1748; (iv) marriages from 1792 to 1812. It will be seen that book iii is largely a repetition of book ii. A book containing marriages (1754–92) was accidentally burnt in 1792.
The patronage of the church of St. Mary the Virgin was originally vested in the lord of the manor, the earliest recorded presentation being made by William Basset in 1220. (fn. 119) Soon after he granted the church to the Prior and convent of Dunstable. (fn. 120) On the living falling vacant in 1241, however, William Basset, probably his son, disputed the presentation, but the prior succeeded in securing the living to his own nominee. In 1272 a similar dispute took place between the prior and Peter Basset, who presented his brother John. This ended in a composition made between them by which Basset quitclaimed all right to the prior. (fn. 121) In 1310 the Prior and convent of Dunstable received a confirmation of the church from Robert Basset, and in the same year obtained licence to appropriate the church, (fn. 122) which in 1310 they alienated in mortmain to the Chapter of Lincoln. (fn. 123) To this alienation Robert Basset gave his consent. (fn. 124) The advowson of Rushden remained with the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln until 1908, (fn. 125) when an exchange was made by which the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln became patrons of South Reston, co. Lincoln, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster became patron of Rushden. (fn. 126)
The living was formally declared a vicarage in 1336. A terrier of 1709 shows that besides the small tithes the vicar had half the tithes of hay and the tithe of wood excepting Shingay Wood, which was tithe free. (fn. 127)
In 1815 William Love by his will gave £180 3 per cent. consols, the dividends thereon to be applied towards providing a master or mistress of the Sunday or any other school for the instruction of poor children and for purchasing books and other necessaries for the use of the school. This stock was sold in 1819, and with the proceeds and from part of the residue of the personal estate a sum of £233 6s. 8d. consols was purchased.