A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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Caldecote is a small parish with an area of 795 acres, lying on the borders of Northamptonshire, south of Stilton and Washingley. It is a narrow strip of country running from west to east, and crossed by the Ermine Street. The eastern half of the parish is fenland, but the land rises to about 200 feet above Ordnance datum in the west. The soil and subsoil are clay with some gravel, and the chief crops are wheat, barley and beans. The village is near the northern boundary of the parish, with the church about a quarter of a mile to the west. There are three 17th-century cottages, timber framed and plastered, which are in poor condition. The nearest station is at Holme, on the London and North Eastern Railway, about 4½ miles away.
Before the Conquest, CALDECOTE, assessed at 5 hides, was held by Stric, but by 1086 it was in the possession of Eustace the Sheriff, having diminished in value from £4 to £3. (fn. 1) It afterwards became attached to the Honour of Huntingdon, and in 1242 was held as half a fee by Isabella de Brus, (fn. 2) sister and one of the coheirs of John le Scot, Earl of Chester, who died in 1237. The manor was held in mesne lordship by the Brus family until the death without issue of Thomas de Lindsey, before 1263, and again during the tenancy of William de Brus, who held of Robert de Brus in 1276. (fn. 3) Robert de Brus was assessed for onethird of a fee in Caldecote in 1303, (fn. 4) and died in 1304. (fn. 5) Subject to one-third of the manor being held in dower by his widow Eleanor, afterwards the wife of Richard le Waleys, it escheated to the Crown on the forfeiture of his son Robert de Brus, King of Scotland, in 1306. It was afterwards held in chief as of the Honour of Huntingdon.
In 1307 two parts of the manor were granted to John Engaine for life, (fn. 6) and after his death were given, with the reversion of the dower third of Eleanor le Waleys (d. 1331), to Hugh le Despenser the younger in 1324, with the advowson of the church and view of frankpledge. (fn. 7) On his forfeiture, two years later, they were granted to Edmund de Woodstock, Earl of Kent, and this grant was confirmed by Edward III. (fn. 8) No mention is made of the reversion of the dower of Eleanor le Waleys, and the earl died seised of twothirds of the manor, which were granted to his widow Margaret in dower, after his execution in 1330. (fn. 9) He also died seised of a grove called Temple Grove in Caldecote, which was the subject of a petition for restoration, by Simon de Drayton, in 1330, Simon alleging that it belonged to his manor of Washingley and not to that of Caldecote, and that he had been unlawfully disseised by the Earl of Kent. He proved his title, and the land was restored to him as part of his manor of Washingley. (fn. 10)
John, the eldest surviving son of Edmund, Earl of Kent, obtained a grant of his father's lands and died seised of the whole manor in 1352, four years after the death of his mother, Margaret. The property in Caldecote, including a croft called Le Park, was then in a very bad state, many houses and the water-mill being in a ruinous condition, and the plague rife. (fn. 11) His heir was his sister Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent, wife of Sir Thomas Holand. She died in 1385, (fn. 12) and her son Thomas, Earl of Kent, in 1397. (fn. 13) His son, of the same name, forfeited his lands and was executed in 1400, (fn. 14) leaving as his heir his brother Edmund, who received a grant of all the lands, with a few exceptions, forfeited by Thomas. (fn. 15) He died in 1408, leaving 5 sisters his co-heiresses. His brother's widow Joan held the manor in dower, on his assignment, until her death in 1442, (fn. 16) when it apparently passed to Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, son of Edmund's fourth sister Elizabeth. He died in 1484 seised of the manor of Caldecote, held of the king as of his Honour of Huntingdon. (fn. 17) It descended with the earldom of Westmoreland until 1550, when it was conveyed by Henry, Earl of Westmoreland, to Sir Edward Montagu, the Lord Chief Justice. (fn. 18) The manor, subject to various settlements, remained in the family of Montagu of Boughton, (fn. 19) and George, Duke of Montagu, Henry, Duke of Buccleuch, and Elizabeth his wife were dealing with a moiety in 1776. (fn. 20) It passed about the middle of the 19th century to William Wells, who owned the advowson in 1852, and followed the descent of Glatton (q.v.) until the beginning of this century. Mr. John Ashton Fielden was holding it in 1914, but by 1920 the property had been acquired by Mr. Joseph Emerton of Peterborough, the present owner. (fn. 21)
In 1086 the manor was held of Eustace the Sheriff by one of his knights, whose name is not given in the Domesday Survey. (fn. 22) The subtenancy was afterwards held by the Lindseys, and in 1242–3 Felicia de Lindsey held half a knight's fee in Caldecote of Isabella de Brus. (fn. 23) The pedigree of this branch of the family is difficult to trace, but Felicia was probably the widow of Thomas de Lindsey who was dealing with the advowson in 1232. (fn. 24) He died before 1239, when his heir, who was then a minor, (fn. 25) was probably Richard de Lindsey, who married Teofania de Morwick and died without issue; the manor passed, subject to Teofania's dower, to his brother Thomas, who also left no issue, and on Teofania's death it reverted to Robert de Brus, the overlord. Thomas de Fordington, as relative of Richard de Lindsey, claimed the manor and brought an action for illegal seisin against Robert de Brus in 1263, but the claim was withdrawn. (fn. 26) The manor was afterwards held by William de Brus of Robert de Brus, for one-third of a knight's fee, in 1276. (fn. 27) The extent of the property was returned as 3½ hides, each hide containing 5 virgates and each virgate 25 acres, 4 virgates being held by the lord, in demesne. (fn. 28)
Lands in Caldecote were held in 1279 by the Knights Templars, the prior claiming in 1286 the attendance of three tenants at his view of frankpledge twice a year. (fn. 29) The Priory of Huntingdon held half a virgate of land in Caldecote in 1279. (fn. 30)
The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE (fn. 31) consists of a chancel (20 ft. by 16½ ft.), nave (28 ft. by 19½ ft.), modern vestry on the north side of the nave (9¼ ft. by 7 ft.), and a south porch (6¼ ft. by 7 ft.). The walls are of rubble with stone dressings, and the roofs are covered with stone-slates.
The church is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), and the earliest existing remains are parts of the chancel arch which date from the 12th century. The chancel was rebuilt towards the end of the 13th century, and the nave about a hundred years later. In 1552 the chancel was in ruins. (fn. 32) The whole church was rebuilt on the old lines in 1874, (fn. 33) when much of the old material was re-used, but a modern bell-cote on the west gable took the place of the small tower which formerly stood at the west end.
In 1871 the church (fn. 34) had a chancel (12½ ft. by 16½ ft.), nave (28 ft. by 19½ ft.), a west tower (6¾ ft. by 5¼ ft.), and a south porch (6½ ft. by 7 ft.). A 12thcentury (fn. 35) string-course is said to have been carried round the chancel walls inside, although the east wall had been lately rebuilt (fn. 36) about 8 feet west of its original position. The chancel windows were all of the 13th century, but only two, viz., those nearest the chancel arch, were in their original position— that on the south having a transom and the lower part rebated for a shutter. Two other side windows of the chancel were blocked by the rebuilding of the east wall. The 13th-century east window (a triplet) had been reset in the rebuilt east wall, and on the south of it a piscina of the same date had been built in, while on the north was a 12th-century (fn. 37) bracket on a triple shaft. The walls were supported with buttresses some of which were mere brick slopes. The floor was paved with bricks, and the roof was very rough and open to the underside of the slates. The seats and fittings were of mean character, except the altar-rail, which was of oak and was brought from another church. The chancel arch, originally semicircular, was much depressed.
The nave had two 15th-century windows on each side, of two-lights under a square head. The north doorway was plain, but the south doorway had moulded jambs and arch—the latter much out of shape, and the door retained its original ironwork. There was a descent of seven steps from the porch to the nave floor; the floor and roof were similar to those of the chancel, and there was no step at the chancel arch. The walls had side and angle buttresses. Many of the original oak benches remained with plain poppy-head ends and moulded backs, and a small portion of the rood-screen was worked up with the more modern seats. The pulpit was dated 1646. The octagonal font stood on the original base placed upside down, but the stem was wanting; one side was left flat, from which it would seem that it was once placed against a wall. A stone slab corresponding in diameter with the base of the font remained in the pavement close to the west wall of the tower.
The tower opened for its entire width into the nave through a well-proportioned arch. The west wall was covered with plaster which probably concealed a west window. The upper part was larger from north to south than from east to west, and was lighted by small single-light windows, above which it had been rebuilt with modern brickwork and was surmounted by a high parapet.
The chancel has in the east wall a 13th-century window of three graduated lights and a rectangular locker. The north wall has two 13th-century lancets, much restored, and a square moulded bracket on a triple shaft. The south wall has two similar lancets, the westernmost carried down below a transom as a blocked low-side window; a double piscina with trefoiled heads, chamfered jambs and central shaft with moulded capital and base. The chancel arch has a modern semicircular arch on reset 12th-century jambs having scalloped capitals. Above it, on the west side, are two brackets.
The nave has two 16th-century two-light windows in each wall, those on the north much restored; a 14th-century south doorway with a two-centred arch and wave-moulded jambs. The west wall has a low two-centred arch with continuous chamfered jambs, perhaps the old tower-arch reset; beneath it is a modern two-light window with a 13th-century quatrefoil in its head; and above it is a small light with ancient splays and rear-arch. Above the west gable is a modern stone bell-cote for two bells.
The modern south porch, like its predecessor, consists of two plain side walls; it has a timber beam and gable, and carved oak barge boards. A rough bracket and a carved head have been built into the walls.
The 15th-century font has an octagonal bowl with a bold splay on its lower edge, the western side of which is left square; it stands on an octagonal stem and moulded base, the west faces of which are extended to suit the bowl above.
An undated terrier, c. 1709, says that there were then two bells; (fn. 38) and an inventory of 1771 says the same. (fn. 39) Owen in 1899 described the old bells as 'modern looking and blank, . . . they came from the former church and are rung by levers.' (fn. 40) They were in bad repair, harsh and of inferior quality of tone and much out of tune, (fn. 41) and were recast and rehung by John Taylor and Co. of Loughborough in 1926.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, window to Maria Alicia Wells and her son Lionel Francis Wells, erected 1872; in the nave, to William Lamb Shepherd, erected 1890; and War Memorial, 1914–18; in the vestry, to the Rev. Isaac Gregory, Vicar of Peterborough, and Ann his wife, d. 1707; and Robert Newcomb, Rector, d. 1744, and Anne his wife, d. 1720.
The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms 30 July 1740 to — 1785 (one entry in 1806), marriages 24 March 1739/40 to 1 Oct. 1750, burials 4 Dec. 1740 to 6 Dec. 1791; (ii) baptisms and burials 25 Dec. 1798 to 14 March 1813; the usual modern books.
The church plate consists of a silver cup and cover, (fn. 42) with some simple Elizabethan ornament, no identifiable mark; a modern silver flagon with two bands of ornament (Elizabethan style), no marks; a plated dish on three legs.
The Abbey of Crowland apparently had some claim to the advowson of Caldecote, but the abbot quitclaimed it in 1232 to Thomas de Lindsey in exchange for lands in Hulseby, (fn. 43) and in 1239, during his son's minority, Hugh de Pateshull presented as guardian of Thomas de Lindsey's lands. (fn. 44) The advowson reverted to the overlords with the manor, and Robert de Brus died seised in 1304. (fn. 45) It followed the same descent until the beginning of the 17th century, when it was evidently separated from it. Martin Warren presented in 1613 and was followed by a succession of patrons, but later it was again owned by the lord of the manor, William Wells, who presented in 1852. It again followed the same descent, (fn. 46) and was held by Mr. John Ashton Fielden in 1914. Mrs. Churchill is the present patron (1928). (fn. 47)
The living was always a rectory. It was annexed to that of Denton in 1853 and both were united to Stilton in 1928. (fn. 48)
The Priory of Huntingdon received a pension of 6s. 8d. from the church of Caldecote in 1428. (fn. 49)
Poor's Estate.—This charity is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 14 Oct. 1887 and consists of a garden and grass land and £138 2s. 7d. Consols with the Official Trustees. The income is distributed to the poor in coals.
Under the charity of James Charles Dymock Robertson, founded by will proved 17 June 1895, a yearly sum of money is distributed in coals to the aged and needy. The share of the charity for this parish is administered by the rector.