A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1932.
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This parish, of 1,168 acres, lies on the east of Abbots Ripton, and to the north of Hartford and Huntingdon. The district is low-lying and flat, the highest ground being in the south-west, whence it slopes towards the small group of buildings forming the village. The church stands in the middle of the village. The Rectory Farm, to the east of the church, is a 17th-century half-timber building with brick nogging, and west of the church is a 16th-century farmhouse of half-timber construction with an overhanging upper story on the east front. There is little woodland in the parish, the land being mainly used for farming. The soil and subsoil are clay.
A 15th-century court-roll gives the following place names: Collesland, Bessell, Holondfelde, Bysshop Hegeway, Ramsey Crosse, Stalkersdole, Dogebrige, Caneforlong. (fn. 1)
King's Ripton was included under Hartford (q.v.) in the Domesday Survey (1086), which accounts for the return there of two churches and two mills. In a suit of 1276 it was stated on behalf of the king that the manor appeared to have been ancient demesne of the Crown (which Hartford is shown to have been) 'by inspection of his book which is called Domesday.' (fn. 2) In later documents King's Ripton is described as a hamlet of Hartford. (fn. 3) The earliest record shows it to have been held by the Crown when Henry I granted his manor of Ripton to Walter, Abbot of Ramsey, to hold for ever at fee farm, paying £8 per annum. (fn. 4) King Stephen granted 'his demesne manor of Ripton' to the Abbey in free alms, (fn. 5) but Henry II repeated the terms of the charter of Henry I (fn. 6) and the fee farm, which later amounted to £10 13s. 4d. per annum, was paid to the Crown by the Abbots of Ramsey until the Dissolution. (fn. 7) There is record of a grant made by Abbot William between 1161 and 1177 of some land in King's Ripton 'which Durand, with the charters which he had had of King Henry the elder of the same land, gave to the Abbey with his body for ever.' (fn. 8) In 1279 the abbot was returned as holding 'the manor of Ripton Regis which is a hamlet belonging to Hartford (Hereford). (fn. 9) After the Dissolution the manor appears to have remained for some considerable time in the Crown, but in 1601 Thomas Bellott and Richard Langeley, acting for Sir Robert Cecil, obtained a grant of it. (fn. 10) In 1609 Cecil, then Earl of Salisbury, settled it on himself and his son, (fn. 11) who succeeded him in 1612. (fn. 12) In 1618 William, second Earl of Salisbury, conveyed the manor to Ralph Ratcliff, (fn. 13) who died seised of it in 1622, leaving his nephew Edward his heir. (fn. 14) In 1630 Edward Ratcliff sold King's Ripton for £1,550 to Sir Thomas Power, knt., of London. (fn. 15) It was still held by the Powers in 1659, when it apparently passed to Thomas Parnell. (fn. 16) In 1731 a Thomas Parnell and Hester his wife suffered a recovery of the manor, probably for the purpose of a settlement. (fn. 17) In 1755 the manor was again apparently settled by John Peckard and Mary, his wife, and Peter Peckard, (fn. 18) but the descent of the property from the time of the Parnells is obscure.
The abbot had view of frankpledge in his manor here. In 1276, in a suit between the king and the Abbot of Ramsey, (fn. 19) certain of the men of King's Ripton claimed to be tenants of ancient demesne. They complained that the abbot, by reason of his fee farm, made extortionate claims for relief and distrained their cattle. They contended they should hold by service of 5s. 1d. per annum for each virgate, paying as relief 2s. 6d. for each virgate, and that they should be tallaged according to the King's levies on his other demesne. An inquiry was held and judgment was given mainly in the abbot's favour. The rent and relief quoted by the tenants were found adequate, but it was also ruled that they owed the abbot, as lord, one day's work every week from Michaelmas to 1 August, the day counting from sunrise to sunset. No ploughing was to be done for fifteen days at Christmas nor for eight days at both Easter and Whitsun. When the meadow called Haycroft was cut, the whole township must attend, and they might receive 8d. per head from the abbot's purse for scotale. Moreover, each man might have from this field a bundle of as much hay as he could lift on his scythe. Work during the actual period of harvesting was also very clearly set out, and everyone who could carry a sickle was bound to come, each man receiving a loaf, meat and ale. In the winter two tenants would sow one rood of land with their own seed; each, in the following harvest, might have from it as large a sheaf of corn as they could tie with one binder.
At the time of King Henry the First's gift of Ripton to Ramsey Abbey a certain pasture of 100 acres in a wood in King's Ripton called Kingesho belonged to the 'manor of Hereford with Rypton Regis.' (fn. 20) The King had been accustomed to have pannage of his pigs there, but in the reign of King John, the abbot of that time had the wood assarted and gave the assart to Walter de Stukeley, then steward of the Abbey, who afterwards enfeoffed the Prior of Huntingdon with a portion. (fn. 21) In 1279 Kingesho was held partly by the prior and partly by Walter de Stukeley's 'successors,' Ralph Rastell and Margery his wife—'and thus the assart is alienated from the rest of the said manors except in so far as the parson of the said manors receives tithes of corn of the said assart.' (fn. 22)
A small portion of land known as Le Heuth in King's Ripton, in the hay of Sapley in the forest of Weybridge (Wauberge) was granted to John Pykard by John de Crokesle in 1301 for a yearly rent of 13s. 2d., to be inclosed out of the forest and reduced to cultivation. (fn. 23) It does not appear ever to have been held as a manor. It passed soon afterwards to William de Bureford and Joan his wife; (fn. 24) it was subsequently held by John Stukeley, (fn. 25) and in 1385 by John Colles of Collesplace in Abbots Ripton (fn. 26) (q.v.). A close called Collesclose was farmed with the manor of King's Ripton in 1534. (fn. 27)
Although not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey, the church is without doubt one of the two churches recorded under the manor of Hartford. Of this building, however, nothing remains, the earliest part of the present church being the south wall of the nave, probably of the 13th century, and the north and east walls of the chancel dating from late in the same century. In the 14th century a north aisle was built, the nave walls raised and a clearstory added. The south wall of the chancel was rebuilt early in the 15th century, and a little later the west tower was built; the porch was built early in the 16th century. The church was restored about 1851.
The chancel has in the east wall a late 13th-century three-light window with modern tracery, and a small square locker; in the north wall, which has two red brick buttresses, is a 15th-century two-light; in the south wall, which is faced with red brick, are a 15th-century three-light, a plain 14th-century door, and a late 13th-century piscina with two basins under a trefoiled arch. The arch is of late 14th-century date, apparently reset. The ancient altar-slab remains. The roof is modern, but on the gable is a late 13th-century cross.
The nave has a late 14th-century north arcade of three bays with chamfered arches on octagonal piers with moulded caps and bases, and three restored contemporary quatrefoil clearstory windows. The 13th-century south wall has two three-light windows, the lower parts late 14th century, the upper parts and the tracery early 16th century; the doorway is of late 14th-century date, and the roof is largely of the same period.
The 15th-century west tower has an arch to the nave of three chamfered orders, a plain west door with a three-light window above it, and simple two-light belfry windows with transoms. It has an em battled parapet with bases of pinnacles at the angles. The stair turret is in the south-west angle.
The early 16th-century south porch has a modern outer archway, above which is the string-course of a flat-pitched parapet, the present tile roof being modern. The side walls have each a two-light window, and there is a contemporary stoup in the north-east angle.
There are two bells, inscribed: 1. Sancte Johannes ora pro nobis. 2. Sancte Johannes. Both by William Culverden (1510–1523). In 1552 there were three great bells in the steeple; (fn. 28) the bell frame still retains the pits for three bells, and the disparity in the size suggests that a middle bell is missing—it is said to have been taken to Hartford. (fn. 29)
The registers are as follows: (i) Baptisms, marriages and burials, 26 April 1597 to 20 Nov. 1763; marriages end 1753; (ii) baptisms and burials, 15 Jan. 1564 to 20 Dec. 1812; (iii) the official marriage book, 10 Oct. 1754 to 14 Dec. 1812.
The advowson of the rectory was held by the Crown when the manor was ancient demesne, (fn. 30) and the church remained Crown property, presentation being made by the king, throughout the abbey's lordship of the manor. (fn. 31) The rector had a virgate of 30 acres, for which it was stated that rent and services had at one time been paid to the king. In the 13th century the rector claimed that he held this in free alms and paid no rent or works. (fn. 32) The church was valued at £8 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 33) at 13 marks in 1428, (fn. 34) and at £12 10s. 4d. in 1535. (fn. 35) After the Dissolution the advowson remained in the Crown, (fn. 36) and presentation to the rectory is now made by the Lord Chancellor.
In 1381 the rector petitioned against the keeper of the king's forest of Sapley for his tithes of woodfalls, of the king's deer and of the profits of agistment and pannage of the forest within the bounds of his parish, and it was adjudged that he was entitled to them, although hindered by the king's ministers from obtaining them. (fn. 37)
Margaret Holmes, by her will proved at Peterborough 18 Dec. 1895, gave £100 to the rector and churchwardens, the interest to be applied for the benefit of widows and other poor persons. The endowment now consists of £80 1s. 9d. Consols with the Official Trustees producing £2 yearly in dividends, which are distributed in accordance with the terms of the will.
The same donor, by will proved as above, gave the sum of £50 to the trustees of the Wesleyan Chapel, the interest to be applied towards the upkeep of the chapel. The endowment now consists of £40 0s. 5d. Consols with the Official Trustees producing £1 yearly in dividends, which are distributed in accordance with the directions contained in the will.