A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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The parish of Alwalton lies in the extreme north of the county of Huntingdon, separated from Peterborough and Northamptonshire by the River Nene. The subsoil is mainly Oxford Clay, with some Cornbrash and Great Oolite limestone. The village lies a quarter of a mile to the east of the Great North Road, about two miles from the Orton Waterville station on the London Midland and Scottish Railway. A petrifying spring rises in the parish. The stone known as Alwalton marble, formed of blocks of hard blue limestone, is found on the banks of the Nene. The parish was inclosed in 1805 under a private Act of Parliament for the inclosure of the parishes of Orton Waterville and Alwalton. (fn. 1) Traces of early man have been found. (fn. 2) In Roman times a building of some kind evidently existed at Alwalton, and various coins and pieces of pottery, etc., have been found. (fn. 3)
The Manor House, now a farmhouse, not far from the church, was built about 1600, and has rubble walls with mullioned windows; some late 17th-century additions at the back contain a fine oak staircase. The south-west wing of the house was destroyed by fire about 1789.
A fine Renaissance stone porch, brought from the Drydens' house at Chesterton, (fn. 4) has been erected as part of the lodge at the entrance of the Lynch drive. It is of two stories and has a round archway flanked by Doric columns, supporting an entablature above which is a square-headed transomed three-light window, flanked by Ionic columns, and the whole is surmounted by a shaped gable with finials. Other parts of the Drydens' house are incorporated in the Lynch Farm house, a mile north-east of the church.
King Edred granted 5 hides of land at ALWALTON in 955 to his thegn Aelfsige Hunlafing. From the boundaries given in the document, the whole of Alwalton was included. (fn. 5) It was afterwards given by the ealdorman Leofwine, son of AElfwine, to the Abbey of Peterborough, (fn. 6) which held Alwalton at the time of the Conquest, when part of Orton Waterville (q.v.) formed a berewick of the manor. (fn. 7) By 1125–28 it was held in demesne and was assessed at 5 hides of land. (fn. 8) There were then 7 full villeins and 22 half-villeins, who held 18 virgates of land with 7 ploughs, with which they worked for their lord once a week throughout the year and did other service according to the custom of the manor. They paid a yearly aid of 10s. and various rents in kind. One villein, however, already paid 18d. a year in lieu of all customary services, while 6 cottars paid 3s. 6d. a year rent. (fn. 9) Abbot Andrew (1194– 1199) gave the manor to the monastery, reserving to himself the aid paid at Michaelmas. (fn. 10) His successor Acarius gave up part of this aid, which with that paid by the tenants of Fletton manor (q.v.) amounted to 20 marks a year, allotting 15 marks to the monks, (fn. 11) but Abbot Robert de Lindsey (1214–22) remitted the remaining 5 marks as well. (fn. 12) About 1278, the tallage paid by the villeins and cottars of Alwalton at Michaelmas, which presumably may be identified with the aid, was worth £7 a year. (fn. 13) The services due from the tenants are all given with a money value, but the service of carrying is specially mentioned, (fn. 14) and it is interesting to find that this service on one day in the year was still performed in the 17th century, (fn. 15) when called for by the lord of the manor. In the 12th-century survey, amongst the gifts made in kind, five sheep are mentioned, (fn. 16) and later similar small payments of sheep were made. (fn. 17) A custom called wethersilver, amounting to 16s. 6d. a year, was paid by the manors of Alwalton and Fletton to the cellarer of the monastery, but Abbot William, probably William de Woodford (1295–99), assigned it to the monks. (fn. 18) At the time of the dissolution of Peterborough Abbey, the manor, which had been held in chief of the Crown in frankalmoin, (fn. 19) was worth £23 1s. 1d. a year, and belonged to the cellarer's office. (fn. 20) It was one of the manors assigned to the newly constituted Dean and Chapter of Peterborough, who obtained a grant of it in 1541. (fn. 21) Their lands were forfeited under the Commonwealth, (fn. 22) and the reversion of the manor, which was in the possession of leaseholders, was granted in 1649 to Philip Starkey, cook, of London. (fn. 23) It was recovered by the Dean and Chapter after the Restoration, and they are the lords of the manor at the present day. (fn. 24)
It had probably not been the custom to grant leases of the manor till shortly before the dissolution of Peterborough Abbey, since the bailiff of Fletton received 16s. 8d. a year from the abbey. (fn. 25) In 1535, however, a lease for 30 years was granted to Peter Edward, William Barrett and his wife Joan, daughter of Peter Edward, and their son Richard Barrett. (fn. 26) Later, the name of Edward's wife Susan was inserted in the lease with the consent of the abbot. (fn. 27) The Dean and Chapter granted the reversion to Richard White, a prebendary of Peterborough, from whom it was acquired by John Mountsteven. (fn. 28) After the death of Peter Edward, the leases were bought in reversion by his widow Susan, who married John Arundell. She and her husband also obtained a new lease from the Dean and Chapter, in which no former leases were recited. (fn. 29) Richard Barrett tried to recover his interest in the manor in 1561, (fn. 30) but it seems clear that Susan, who after the death of Arundell married a third time, remained in possession of the manor and that the reversion passed to her son Edward Edward. (fn. 31) The latter died before 1597, when his son Peter was involved in a lawsuit about the lease. (fn. 32) In 1631, the Dean and Chapter gave a new lease of the manor for 21 years to Thomas Gregory; (fn. 33) and Clement Gregory obtained another lease in 1636 for the lives of his two sons Thomas and William, and the wife of Thomas. (fn. 34) In 1674, the leaseholders were William Pinckney and his wife Elizabeth, the lease being for the lives of Elizabeth, Lennott Honeywood and Robert Pallen, who granted their interest in the manor to Edward Checkley. (fn. 35)
Abbot Benedict (1177–94) of Peterborough withdrew his tenants at Alwalton and Fletton from suit at the Hundred Court, paying 20s. annually towards the farm due to the Crown from the Abbot of Thorney, from his hundred of Norman Cross. (fn. 36) This payment was stopped in the time of Richard I, and, without any royal charter, the Abbots of Thorney deducted the amount from the farm. (fn. 37) The deduction was disallowed during the Quo Warranto inquiry of 1276, and the abbot made a composition for the arrears with the king. (fn. 38) The tenants of the Abbey of Peterborough, however, continued to attend the view of frankpledge held by the Abbey of Thorney for the pleas of the sheriff's tourn in the hundred, until the beginning of the reign of Edward I. The Abbot of Peterborough then withdrew the suit of his tenants and claimed to hold a view of frankpledge for them. (fn. 39) He also held the assizes of bread and ale and claimed waifs, chattels of his men who were felons or fugitives, pleas of vetiti namia, the return of writs and the collection of royal debts in his demesnes. (fn. 40)
In 1086 there were two mills on the manor, (fn. 41) but these had been increased to three by 1125–28, when a virgate (virga) was attached to them, the annual rent being £4 2s. (fn. 42) At the time of the dissolution of the abbey the three mills, all probably under the same roof, were let at farm for £16 (fn. 43) and had been leased with the manor (q.v.) to Peter Edward and his fellow lessees. (fn. 44) In 1649, these two water-mills, called the Town Mills, and a fulling-mill which had fallen into decay, were all on the Nene. (fn. 45) The copyholders of the manor in 1633 were said to bring their corn to grind at their lord's mills if well used. Apparently until the granting of the Gregorys' lease, the relations of the lords of the manor and their tenants had been very friendly, and the copyholders were allowed a good deal of freedom in the matter of such customs as suit to the lord's mills. Consequently they had willingly performed such services as the carrying of slate and wood, already mentioned, when the lord's warrant arrived. (fn. 46)
In 1086, there was a fishery attached to the manor, which rendered 500 eels worth 5s. (fn. 47) In 1278 it was worth 6s. a year. (fn. 48) The abbot could fish with one boat on the Nene, for a distance of two leagues (leucae) from 'Wildelake' to the mill of Water Newton. (fn. 49)
In 1268, Henry III granted to the Abbey of Peterborough a weekly market to be held on Fridays. (fn. 50) It is mentioned amongst the abbot's rights in 1286, (fn. 51) but it seems to have been given up before the dissolution of the abbey, (fn. 52) and it is not mentioned in the grant of the manor to the Dean and Chapter in 1541. (fn. 53)
A much older privilege was the right to take a toll, called cayagium, from ships bringing merchandise past Alwalton by river. (fn. 54) This was confirmed to the abbey by Pope Eugenius III in 1146. (fn. 55) In 1286, the abbot took 2d. from each large ship, 1d. from each smaller ship and ½d. from each small boat. (fn. 56) For stone and similar goods a special rate was agreed between the captain and the abbot's bailiff. (fn. 57) The abbot also had a ferry with one boat across the Nene. (fn. 58) In 1633, evidence was given in a lawsuit that no one could remember the tolls being taken or the existence of the ferry, but two meadows were called Ferrie Rood and Landing Place respectively. (fn. 59)
The church of ST. ANDREW consists of a chancel (30 ft. by 15¼ ft.), crossing (12¾ ft. by 17½ ft.), north transept (12 ft. by 13 ft.), south transept (10¾ ft. by 13 ft.), nave (34½ ft. by 17½ ft.), north aisle (5¾ ft. wide), south aisle (5¾ ft. wide), tower (12 ft. by 12 ft.) and a modern south porch. The walls are of stone rubblewith Barnack stone dressings, except the clearstory, which is faced externally with brick and plastered. The roofs are covered with lead and slates.
The church is not mentioned in Domesday Book, but by the end of the 12th century there was a stone church with a north aisle, parts of which still remain. This church was lengthened one bay to the west early in the 13th century, when the nave must have been considerably widened and a south aisle and western tower built. About 1300 it was apparently contemplated to rebuild the church; a large chancel and north and south transepts, all vaulted in stone, were built, with probably the lower part of a central tower. About thirty years later, however, the project was abandoned, the walls of the central tower were pulled down, and a wide arch thrown across the nave in place of its western arch, and the walls of the chancel and transepts finished with a plain quoin at their intersection. In the 15th century the nave walls were raised to form a clearstory, and both nave and aisles were re-roofed, and possibly at this time, or a little later, a chancel arch was inserted and wide arches built between the crossing and the transepts; and the vaulting of the chancel and transepts was destroyed. In 1840–41 the church was restored, the chancel arch rebuilt and a south porch added; the roofs were all renewed, and the south-east corner of the belfry rebuilt. The tower was underpinned and thoroughly restored in 1902–3, and the rest of the church in 1904–5.
The chancel of c. 1300 has an inserted three-light east window of about 1330, with reticulated tracery. The north wall has an original two-light window, beneath which is a tomb recess; and a blocked lowside window. The south wall has two original twolight windows; a partly blocked 14th-century lowside window with fragments of ancient glass; a segmental-headed doorway; an original piscina composed of a quatrefoiled basin under a two-centred arch; and a triple sedilia formed of 14th-century stones re-used. Remains of chamfered vaulting shafts and the springing of the vault may be traced on both sides, and there is a moulded stringcourse all round the walls, below the windows. The chancel arch is modern, but the semi-octagonal responds appear to be of 16th-century date.
The crossing has the chancel arch on the east, above the springing of which may be seen the quoin stones of the chancel walls. On the north and south sides are segmental - pointed arches carried on the original vaulting shafts which have been finished with crude embattled capitals of c. 1500. The western arch is modern, but has semi-octagonal responds of c. 1330.
The north transept of c. 1300 has a two-light east window; a three-light window, much restored, in its north wall; and a plain opening with a two-centred arch to the aisle. The lines of the vaulting and remains of the vaulting-shafts are visible on the west wall.
The nave has on the north side an arcade of four bays. The three eastern bays are of c. 1190, with semicircular arches of two chamfered orders on circular piers and semicircular responds; the capitals are carved with a volute of late form and the abaci are of cruciform plan. The western bay is of early 13thcentury date, but corresponds in general form to the others; the capital of the circular pier has the waterleaf and an octagonal abacus, and that of the respond is left in plain uncarved blocks. The early 13thcentury south arcade is of three bays of semicircular arches of one chamfered order on circular piers and semicircular responds with moulded capitals and bases. The 15th-century clearstory has three twolight windows on each side.
The eastern part of the north aisle is of c. 1190, and has the splays of a blocked window; a modern two-light window; and the jambs of a blocked doorway. The early 13th-century western bay has a two-light window, almost entirely modern, in its western wall.
The early 13th-century south aisle has a 15thcentury two-light window; and an original doorway incorporating some re-used chevron ornament in the arch, and having jamb-shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The splays of a second window are filled in with a 17th-century single-light window.
The early 13th-century tower has a two-centred arch to the nave of two chamfered orders on responds composed of three keel-shaped shafts with small detached shafts between them, and having moulded capitals and bases. The west window is an early 16th-century two-light, much restored; and the north and south walls have each a small lancet window, and similar lancets above them in the next stage. Above the tower arch is a blocked opening into the nave. The belfry stage has a wall-arcade of three arches on each face, the central arch being occupied with a two-light window with a small shaft as a mullion and a quatrefoil in the spandrel—that on the south side having been badly restored as a trefoil. The south-east corner of the belfry has been badly rebuilt, destroying the wall-arcades at that point. The tower is finished with a corbel-table of small trefoiled arches on carved masks, and surmounted with an embattled parapet. The whole tower has been much restored. The tower stairs are at the north-east corner.
There are five bells, inscribed: (1) Thomas Norris made mee. 1661. H.G.P.G.; (2) and (3) Thomas Norris made mee. 1661; (4) Will. Waring. Rector: John. Cox. Chvrchwarden: 1722; (fn. 60) (5) Thomas Norris made me 1672. H.S.H.G. The fourth bell is by Henry Penn, of Peterborough. The bell frame is inscribed w i. m i. i o. c h. c h w a. 1674, and h k. 1790. The bells were rehung in 1904.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to the Rev. Henry Freeman, Rector, d. 1832, and Eleanor his wife, d. 1884; the Rev. John Hopkinson, Rector, d. 1853, and Elizabeth his wife, d. 1872; the Rev. Edward Grey, Rector, d. 1908; the Rev. George Godfrey Ward Clemenger, Rector, d. 1909; Caroline his widow, d. 1921, and Caroline their daughter, d. 1922; War Memorial, 1914–18; floor slabs to Margaret, wife of Clement Gregorie, d. 1634, and Ann her daughter, d. 1695; Clement Gregorie, d. 1639, and Pears his son, d. 1703; William Checkly, d. 1711; Catherine, daughter of Buxton and Ann Kenrick, d. 1820; and the Rev. Henry Freeman, d. 1832; in the north transept, to Charles William Wentworth Fitzwilliam, d. 1894, buried at Marholm; in the south transept, to Sir Richard Hetley, Kt., d. 1807; on the nave floor, to Mary wife of William Brad . . ., (fn. 61) d. 1797; in the north aisle, to Lieut. Col. J. A. Dane, d. 1927; in the south aisle, to William Hetley, d. 1829, and Elizabeth Hetley, d. 1844; and slabs on the floor to them both. Outside the church, on the north transept, to the Rev. Timothy Neve, D.D., Rector, and Archdeacon of Huntingdon, d. 1757; and on the north aisle, to Susanna daughter of Thomas and Jane Rowell, died 1744.
The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms, marriages and burials 1572 to 18 April 1682; (ii) the same 25 March 1697 to 5 May 1754; (iii) the same 5 May 1754 to 3 Feb. 1811, marriages end 18 March 1802; (iv) marriages 4 Oct. 1802 to 22 Dec. 1812; (v) baptisms and burials 23 Feb. 1811 to 21 Dec. 1812.
The church plate consists of a silver cup with band of arabesque ornament on bowl, and egg and tongue on foot, hall-marked for 1569–70; cover paten for same, similarly hall-marked; a silver salver inscribed, 'The Gift of Mrs. Susanna Margaret & Ann Rowell to the Church of Alwalton. 1739,' hall-marked for 1688–9; a silver cup inscribed, 'Alwalton. H. Freeman, A. M. Rector. D. Dedit,' hall-marked for 1818–9.
The advowson was in the possession of the Abbot of Peterborough before 1146, (fn. 62) and it followed the descent of the manor (q.v.) (fn. 63) until 1868, when it was transferred to the Hon. G. W. Fitzwilliam. (fn. 64) It is now held by the executors of Mr. G. C. Wentworth Fitzwilliam.
Poor's Money.—In the year 1802 the sum of £90 representing benefactions for the poor by Pierce Gregory, Mrs. Southgate, Thomas Bayly and the Rev. Dr. Neve, was laid out towards the building of four cottages. The cottages are let to widows at 1s. per week and a sum of £4 10s., part of the total rents received and representing the interest on the said £90, is distributed among the poor of the parish.