A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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Weston (xi cent.); Wald Weston, Weston de Waldis, Westgrenewold (xiii cent.); Woldeweston (xiii–xiv cent.); Weston super Waldis, Wodeweston (fn. 1) (xiv cent.); Weston upon Brouneswold (fn. 2) (xv cent.); Old Weston (xiv cent.).
The area of this parish is 2,051 acres of mixed soil with a subsoil of clay. About one half of the land is arable and the other half is pasture. There are now only about 11 acres of woodland. Old Weston Grove, in the south-west of the parish, represents the 13thcentury pasture land called 'Woldwestongrave' (fn. 3) or 'Westongrave super Waude.' (fn. 4) In 1340 William de Weston had licence to impark his wood, (fn. 5) and a jury of 1579 stated that they had known the Abbot of Ramsey fell a great wood at Weston Grove. (fn. 6)
A stream flows south-east through the middle of the parish and seems formerly to have had the name of the Cock Brook. It gave its name to Cockbrook Lodge, Cockbrook Lane and Cockbrook Spinney. 'Cukusbrigg' or 'Cukisbrygg' stream is mentioned in the 13th century, and the 'brig' or bridge has been identified with the bridge in Old Weston. (fn. 7) The land is very undulating and varies from about 145 to 245 feet above Ordnance datum. The remains of Old Weston windmill, mentioned as early as 1200, are in the south of the parish and represent one of the two 14th-century windmills in the manor of Old Weston, Brington and Bythorn. (fn. 8)
The somewhat scattered village stands mainly on the north side of the stream, but the church is detached from the village and is on the south-west side of it. The village is said to have extended south of the church but was burnt down, and the record of a brief exists at Leighton Bromswold for the fire at Old Weston on 28 February 1701. A part of the village is built round a loop in the road from Leighton Bromswold, from which the village street runs west and north. The Model Farm on the east side of the road is probably on the site of the manor house, the house and grounds of which in 1279 were said to have covered 10 acres and to have been inclosed by a ditch. (fn. 9) The lord's capital messuage is mentioned in 1593. (fn. 10) The present house was built early in the 17th century, perhaps by Thomas Parratt, who purchased the property about this time, (fn. 11) and is partly timber framed and partly of brick, with a tiled roof. The staircase and some fireplaces belong to the original house. There are other 17th-century timberframed houses and cottages along the part of the village street leading north; among them Hospital Farm, at the north end of the street, is probably of this date, but much altered; it takes its name apparently as the property of Barnwell Hospital (Northants).
Some 13th and 14th century names are Madecroft, le Madplot, le Madslad, Colncroft, Eldebyristode, le Yorn, le Marehyl, le Blakelond, le Benelond, Aylmereowlkested, le Hulkslond. (fn. 12)
A small field in the parish, by long-established custom, belongs to the parish clerk, on condition that he strews the church with hay from it, on the feast Sunday, the first Sunday after St. Swithin. The origin of the custom is not known. (fn. 13)
In 1673 Richard (Butler), Earl of Arran, was created Baron of Weston (Hunts), a title which became extinct with that earldom in January 1685–6. A second creation was made in 1693 for Charles (Butler), Earl of Arran, and those two peerages in 1758 again became extinct. (fn. 14)
Aylwin son of Athelstan the 'half-king,' ealdorman of East Anglia, inherited Brington from his father and OLD WESTON from his mother, who received it from her foster-child King Edgar. These places he gave to Ramsey Abbey when he founded that house, while his brother Alfwold gave Bythorn to the monks. Edgar, Edward the Confessor, William I, other kings and Pope Alexander III confirmed these gifts. (fn. 15)
The Abbey held the 'manors' of Brington, Bythorn and Old Weston in 1086, assessed to the geld respectively as 4 hides, 4 hides and 10 hides. (fn. 16)
By the 13th century, when Brington (q.v.) had become the ecclesiastical head of these three places, (fn. 17) Old Weston had become the manorial head, and so remained. (fn. 18) The three 'vills' were united in the time of Henry I to supply a full farm, (fn. 19) and this was allocated to the monks' hospitality. (fn. 20)
Some time before 1177, one, Henry, increased the Ramsey lands by a hide and 8 acres in Old Weston, (fn. 21) and in 1279 the manor or vill of Old Weston, with Brington and Bythorn, belonging to the barony of Ramsey, was composed of 15 hides, of which the abbot held 8 carucates in demesne. The free tenants did 2 suits yearly at the court of Broughton, and paid sheriff's and hundred aid. Eight villeins paid the same, and tallage, rents of assize, merchet, leyrwite, pannage, 'wodepeny,' lovebones, barn thatching, cornbote, etc., and 28 other villeins did different services, specified at length, and would not work on holidays. (fn. 22) The abbot had gallows, tumbril, view of frankpledge, assize of bread and ale, warren, hidage, custody and marriage of tenants. (fn. 23) In the time of Abbot Hugh Foliot (1216–31) a tallage of 100s. was assigned to the cellarer. (fn. 24)
Old Weston, Brington and Bythorn, as we have seen, originally all formed separate manors, but in course of time the officers of Ramsey Abbey, by negligence or design, allowed the three manors to merge into one by the use of one roll and one court. After the dissolution of Ramsey Abbey in 1539 the Crown retained the manor until 1550, when Edward VI granted what were described as the manors of Weston, Brington and Bythorn, with many other manors, to Princess Elizabeth in fulfilment of the will of his father. (fn. 25) The grant was confirmed in the following year. (fn. 26) In 1581 Elizabeth granted the manor or 'manors' and advowson to Edward (fn. 27) Downing and Peter Ashton, (fn. 28) the latter being possibly the son of Thomas Ashton, (fn. 29) bailiff of the manor in 1546, (fn. 30) lessee of the rectory of Brington, and purchaser of a considerable amount of property here in 1552. (fn. 31) Peter Ashton was a Crown debtor in 1593 (fn. 32) and was apparently in pecuniary difficulties. He was living in 1595 but probably died about this time, as Thomas Ashton presented to the church in 1601. The demesnes of the manor seem to have become split up and the copyholds to have been enfranchised, so that the lands of the three parishes were said to be freehold (fn. 33) and the manor then apparently fell into desuetude. This is corroborated by an inquisition in which it is said that about 1628 Edmund Collyne died seised of tenements in Brington 'formerly parcel of the manor of Brington, Bythorn and Old Weston.' (fn. 34) Thomas Parratt purchased the capital messuage and much of the property from Peter Ashton about 1593. (fn. 35)
In the mid 17th century the so-called manors of Old Weston, Brington and Bythorn seem to have been acquired by Richard Butler, who was created Earl of Arran in 1662 and took a second title as Baron of Weston (Hunts) [i.e. Old Weston] in 1673, before which date he must have purchased Old Weston. About the same time he purchased Leighton Bromswold, which had belonged to his first wife's family, the Dukes of Richmond. He died in 1685, leaving by his second wife, Dorothy daughter of John Ferrers, an only daughter Charlotte, who married Charles, fourth Baron Cornwallis, (fn. 36) to whom Leighton, Brington and Bythorn passed. Weston, however, seems to have gone to his nephew Charles Butler, created Baron Butler of Weston in 1693. He died in 1758, when Weston seems to have passed to Charles, fifth Baron Cornwallis, whose son Charles, second Earl Cornwallis, in 1786 put up the three manors for sale by auction. (fn. 37) Leighton, Brington and Bythorn we find in 1789 in the possession of Lord Porchester and Thomas and Richard Brandon. (fn. 38) They were sold in 1793 to John Norris, of Magdalen College, Oxford, and in 1853, on the death of a later John Norris, Leighton, Brington and Bythorn were again put up for auction and were purchased by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who still hold them. (fn. 39) Old Weston passed before 1854 to Earl Fitzwilliam, R. A. Reynolds and Samuel E. Cooch. (fn. 40) Lord Fitzwilliam died in 1857, leaving his Huntingdon property to his second surviving son, the Hon. George Wentworth Fitzwilliam, who died in 1874. (fn. 41) The estate is now held by his son Mr. George Charles Wentworth Fitzwilliam. Mr. Frederick J. Howson, who in 1885 is said to have shared the manorial rights with Earl Fitzwilliam, was succeeded by his son the late Mr. James Moss Howson of Howson's Lodge, Old Weston.
Many of the free tenants of Ramsey Abbey in the 13th century bear the names of 'de Waldis,' 'de Woldweston,' 'Waldeschef,' (fn. 42) taken no doubt from the wolds here, but the relationship among themselves and with the Stukeleys and Hotots, a branch of the Hotots of Clapton, (fn. 43) other free tenants here, is hard to establish. In the time of Henry I one Fulk held a hide freely, (fn. 44) and he was followed by his son Richard, who was living in 1175–6. (fn. 45) He apparently was succeeded by his son Fulk, (fn. 46) and in 1250 there died Hugh de Weston, tenant of Fulk, son of Richard de Weston, (fn. 47) and possibly grandson of the last-mentioned Fulk. Perhaps Adam, son of Richard, who held 1½ hides (fn. 48) and was dead by 1249, leaving a son Thomas, (fn. 49) was one of the same family.
In 1259–60 William de Waldis, kt., (fn. 50) Alexander de Stukeley and Emma, his wife, and Richard de Hotot (Houetot, Hotoft) and Mariota, his wife, conveyed lands in the three places to Ramsey Abbey. (fn. 51) Emma, widow of William de Waldis, made grants in 1271; (fn. 52) and in 1274 William, son of Maurice de Weston de Waldis, and Margery, his wife, and Ralph Waldeschef of Chesterton and Beatrice, his wife, were dealing with lands here. (fn. 53) It was related in 1279 that John de Stukeley had once held the manor at farm and that then Alexander de Stukeley and Emma, his wife, were among the tenants of Richard de Hotot, who 'defended' a hide here. (fn. 54) Abbot Simon de Eye (1317–42) bought from William Hotot his land in the manor. (fn. 55) An Edmund de Hotot of 1317–20 (fn. 56) was succeeded by 1322 by his son and heir, William, (fn. 57) whose brother John was known as John de Woldweston, clerk. (fn. 58) In 1329 Joan, widow of Edmund Hotot, demised for her life to the abbey all her holding here in exchange for an annuity and a coloured robe with suitable fur yearly. (fn. 59) In 1333 William Hotot and Agnes, his wife, granted the abbey 95 acres of land in Old Weston and Brington in exchange for a corrody and a house in Ramsey. (fn. 60) He is perhaps the William de Weston who had leave to impark his wood in 1340. (fn. 61) His widow, Agnes, released her corrody and robe to the abbey in 1342. (fn. 62) From 1351 to 1360 Thomas, son and heir of William de Hotot, made grants here to the Stukeleys. (fn. 63) The last mention found of this family is in 1448, when John Weston sold lands here. (fn. 64)
The church of ST. SWITHIN consists of a chancel (21 ft. by 15½ ft.), nave (49 ft. by 15 ft.), north aisle (7½ ft. wide), south aisle (9¼ ft. wide), west tower (10½ ft. by 10½ ft.) and south porch. The walls are of stone rubble, coursed in places, and with stone dressings, and the roofs are covered with lead.
The church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), but the earliest parts of the present building are the late 13th-century nave arcades. During the 14th century the church seems to have been largely rebuilt, commencing with the chancel, which was rebuilt and widened to the north in the first decade; the aisle walls in the middle of the century; the clearstory added to the nave about the same time; and the west tower and south porch at the extreme end. The northern part of the east wall of the chancel and the western end of the north aisle were rebuilt in the 15th century. The roof of the nave was reconstructed in 1657; that of the north aisle in 1638, and of the south aisle in 1785. The church was restored in 1895, when the walls were thoroughly repaired and pointed and the roofs re-leaded.
The chancel, c. 1300, has a 15th-century three-light east window with vertical tracery in a four-centred head. The north wall has an original two-light window with a plain spandrel in a two-centred head; and an original two-light window larger than the other, but the outer part re-formed with a 15th-century square head. The south wall has two original two-light windows, each with a plain spandrel in a two-centred head, and the sill of the easternmost carried down to form a seat; an original piscina with a trefoiled head and quatrefoiled basin; and a square-headed squint into the south aisle. The greater part of the east wall was rebuilt in the 15th century, the original south-east corner remaining. The roof is modern. The chancel arch, contemporary in date with the chancel itself, is two-centred, of two wave-moulded orders, continuous except for a moulded capital introduced at the springing line of the lower order; it rests on a hollowchamfered plinth.
The late 13th-century nave has an arcade of four bays on either side. The arches are two-centred, of two chamfered orders resting on octagonal columns and semi-octagonal responds all with moulded capitals and hollow-chamfered bases. The middle column on the north has a circular abacus to its capital, and it, together with the capital of the western column on the south, has the nail-head ornament. At the eastern end of the north wall is the 15th-century upper doorway of the rood-stairs, and four steps in the wall, but there is no lower part, and they were apparently reached by a ladder. (fn. 65) The mid 14th-century clearstory has four two-light square-headed windows on each side. The roof was reconstructed in 1657, but contains a few older timbers. It is of low pitch and the purlins are carried directly on the tie-beams, while short king-posts support the ridge; it has long jack-legs and simple braces. The corbels under the jack-legs are carved with grotesque heads. The western beam is inscribed 'r.a. 1657 r.e. chvrch: w.'
The mid 14th-century north aisle has a 15thcentury two-light east window with vertical tracery in a two-centred head. The north wall has three original square-headed two-light windows; a reset 13th-century doorway with a two-centred head, chamfered jambs and moulded imposts, and with the nail-head ornament in the label. There is no window in the west wall. The western half of the aisle is slightly narrower than the eastern, and may have been rebuilt in the 15th century. The rather flat pent-roof has simply moulded main timbers, one of which is dated 1638.
The mid 14th-century south aisle has an original square-headed three-light east window. The south wall has a late 15th-century three-light window with vertical tracery in a four-centred head, inclosed on the outside, with a square label and traceried spandrels; an original square-headed two-light window; an original doorway with a two-centred head of two continuous orders, one moulded and one chamfered; and an original piscina with ogee head and quatrefoiled basin. (fn. 66) In the west wall is a small single-light window with a modern made-up head. The simple 18th-century pent-roof is inscribed on one beam 'W.T. 1745. I.S.'
The late 14th-century west tower (fn. 67) has a twocentred tower arch of three chamfered orders, continuous except for moulded capitals to the inner order, and has hollow-chamfered bases. There is no west door, but the west window is of two-lights with a quatrefoil in a four-centred head. In the stage above is a small single-light window. The belfry windows are transomed two-lights, each with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. The tower has diagonal buttresses at the north-west and south-west angles, which rise to the sill of the belfry windows; at the springing line of these windows the tower is reduced, by low broaches, to an octagon with a small pinnacle attached to the diagonal faces. The octagon is finished with a moulded cornice from which rises an octagonal stone spire having two tiers of lights both on the cardinal faces, the lower three-lights and the upper two-lights. The tower stairs are at the south-east angle, in a slightly projecting square turret.
The late 14th-century south porch has a twocentred outer archway of two chamfered orders, the lower order resting on semi-octagonal attached shafts with moulded capitals. The side walls have each a two-light window with simple tracery in a fourcentred head.
There are four bells, inscribed: (1) o f o a l t pevgbfes (fn. 68); (2) Non: verbo: sed: voce: resonabo: Domini: lavdem: r: a: e: a: 1612; (3) Non clamor sed amor cantat in avre Dei 1612; (4) Non: sono: annimabvs: mortvorvm: sed: avribvs: vivencivm. The first probably of Elizabethan date and from the Leicester foundry, with capitals of an unusual quasi-gothic type sometimes imperfectly formed; the second and third by Tobias Norris I; and the fourth probably also from the Stamford foundry. In 1552 there were three bells in the steeple. (fn. 69) In 1890 the bells were in very bad order. (fn. 70)
In the chancel are two coffin lids, c. 1300: one with a scroll cross at each end and the double-omega ornament in the middle, and with the later inscription 'c.h. 1637' cut on it; the other with a cusped cross on a calvary and between two roses and two square-leaved flowers, and having the later inscription 'c.h. 1638.' In the churchyard, near the north aisle, is the 15th-century base of a gable cross.
On the south wall of the south aisle are three fragments of wall paintings: (1) the enthronement of a bishop by two others; (2) part of a wheel of fortune; (3) the beheading of St. John the Baptist. On the north splay of the east window of the south aisle is a painting of St. Margaret under a canopy and standing on a dragon; and on the south splay, St. Katharine with wheel. All these paintings were uncovered in 1895, when it was found that all the walls were covered with paintings, in some places, three deep. The top paintings were merely rude lines of black and red; the middle paintings very rich and finely drawn, and including scenes with men in armour and horses; and the lowest and original paintings similar to those which remain. The two upper paintings were very loose and came away with a touch, and the whole of the plaster was so perished that it was impossible to save any more. (fn. 71)
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to Edward Ashton, d. 1802, Jane his wife, d. 1807, and Edward their son, d. 1807; the Rev. John Mayhew Clarkson, rector, d. 1912; and floor slab to I.C. 1706. In the nave, floor slab to John [Aw]ecocke, almost worn out, but 17th century. In the north aisle, to Henry Parratt, d. 1723, and Dorothy (Leach) his wife [n.d.]; and John Parratt, son of the last, d. 1768, and Eleanor (Parris) his wife, d. 1783.
The church plate consists of a coarse silver cup inscribed 'Old Weston Com. Huntington, 1727' hallmarked for 1727–8; a silver paten inscribed 'Old Weston. June 1900' hall-marked for 1900–1; a silver-mounted glass flagon inscribed 'To the Glory of God and in memory of George and Elizabeth Bolton. 1929' hall-marked for 1928–9; a small pewter plate.
The church of Old Weston belonged to Ramsey Abbey in 1086, (fn. 72) and Ailric, the priest, held half a hide here freely in the time of Henry I. (fn. 73) The church was confirmed to the abbey by the Pope in 1178. (fn. 74) About the middle of the 13th century it was still mentioned as a mother church, (fn. 75) but soon after it became a chapelry of Brington (q.v.), to which it is still annexed.
Poor's Land.—This property consists of about 2 roods of land in the parish. The land is let for about £1 10s. per annum, which is expended in the purchase of bread and distributed to the poor at Christmas.