A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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The parish of Orton Waterville contains over 1,399 acres of land, (fn. 1) and is separated from Northamptonshire by the river Nene. The altitude varies from 19 to 77 ft. above Ordnance datum. The village lies about half a mile from the river, about 50 ft. above Ordnance datum, with the church on rising ground behind. The railway station is on the London Midland and Scottish Railway. In 1861 Roman tesserae and other remains were dug up and indicate the presence of a Roman villa. (fn. 2) The subsoil is Oxford Clay and Cornbrash. Various explanations of the name Cherry Orton have been given, but it is interesting to find in a will dated 1504 that Cherry Week was an established and recognised yearly event in the parish. (fn. 3) The parish was inclosed in 1805. (fn. 4)
The manor of ORTON WATERVILLE or CHERRY ORTON may, perhaps, be traced back to the 5 hides of land at Orton mentioned in one of the spurious charters of King Edgar, belonging to Peterborough Abbey. (fn. 5) It was held by the king's thegn Alfheah, who presumably gave it to the abbey. (fn. 6) In the reign of Edward the Confessor, five hides of land in Orton formed a berewick of the Abbey manor of Alwalton, but, after the Norman Conquest, the holding at Orton was alienated and granted to a military subtenant, Ansered (fn. 7) or Ansgered, who was the first of the branch of the Waterville family which settled at Orton and at Longthorpe in Northamptonshire and were hereditary marshals of the Abbot's Hall at Peterborough. (fn. 8) Another holding, assessed at 3½ hides, was held by Godwin in the time of Edward the Confessor. (fn. 9) The king had soke over the land, and William the Conqueror gave it to the Abbey of Peterborough, which had granted it also to Ansered before 1086, and the two holdings presumably were formed into one manor. (fn. 10) He was probably succeeded by William son of Ansered, whose name appears amongst those for whose arrears of payments the sheriff accounted in 1131–2. (fn. 11) William had probably already been succeeded by Geoffrey de Waterville, whose name appears in the list of new items for the same year. (fn. 12) A second Geoffrey appears in 1160–2. (fn. 13) In 1189 Robert de Waterville held a knight's fee in Orton, (fn. 14) but in 1208 he alienated a quarter of his holding to Henry Engaine, and his successors held the manor as three-quarters of a knight's fee. (fn. 15) He seems to have been succeeded by his son Guy about 1227, (fn. 16) while another Robert had succeeded before 1252. (fn. 17) In 1275 Guy de Waterville did homage during his father's lifetime for land in Orton to Abbot Richard de London, (fn. 18) but he had succeeded to the manor by 1279. (fn. 19) In 1295 Robert de Waterville held it, (fn. 20) but by 1303 apparently the service had been reduced to half a knight's fee. (fn. 21) Before 1347 he, or his successor of the same name, granted the manor to William de Thorpe, (fn. 22) who paid an aid to Edward III in 1347. (fn. 23) The grantee was probably the father of Sir Robert de Thorpe, who was the king's Chancellor in 1371 and died in 1372, and of Sir William Thorpe, sen., (fn. 24) although it is possible that the latter was himself the grantee. Sir William was seised of the manor in 1383, when he granted it to Sir John de la Warre, kt., and other feoffees, (fn. 25) and he seems to have died before 1395. (fn. 26) The manor passed to Sir William Thorpe, jun., probably his son and certainly the nephew of the Lord Chancellor. (fn. 27) The descent of his lands after his death (fn. 28) is very obscure, but the manor was probably sold by his feoffees. John de Herlyngton seems to have been the tenant in 1398. (fn. 29) He died in 1408, (fn. 30) and his widow Joan, who held the manor for life, granted her right in it and the advowson of the church in 1409 to trustees, (fn. 31) who appear to have been holding it in 1419. (fn. 32) In 1428, Sir Henry Brownflete and John Drayton each answered for half a fee in Orton Waterville, but which held the Peterborough manor does not appear. (fn. 33) Before 1469, it was in the possession of John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, (fn. 34) whose father John, Lord Tiptoft and Powys, had bought the manor of Orton Waterville (q.v.) belonging to the Lovetot Barony about 1418. The earl mortgaged the manor of Cherry Orton, now also probably including the manor just mentioned, to John Hurlegh, clerk, and other feoffees, apparently as security for a loan of £100. Hurlegh provided in his will, on his executors receiving this sum, for the earl to have full seisin of the manor. (fn. 35) The earl was beheaded in 1470 during the short restoration of King Henry VI to the throne. (fn. 36) His young son and heir, Edward, was restored on the return of King Edward IV, (fn. 37) but the manor of Orton Waterville soon afterwards came into the hands of Laurence Bothe, Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge (1450–80), Bishop of Durham (1456), Lord Chancellor (1457–59) and Archbishop of York in 1476. (fn. 38) By his will he left all the residue of his property to certain feoffees for charitable purposes, (fn. 39) and after his death in 1480 these feoffees conveyed the manor to the Warden and Scholars of Pembroke College, (fn. 40) to whom it still belongs.
The 7½ virgates of land in Orton alienated in 1208 by Robert de Waterville to Henry Engaine were held by the latter directly of the Abbot of Peterborough (fn. 41) for the service due from a quarter of a knight's fee. (fn. 42) Before 1253, the holding passed to John de Folksworth; (fn. 43) in 1275 Sir John de Folksworth did homage to Abbot Richard de London (fn. 44) and in 1280 was one of the foresters of the Northamptonshire forests. (fn. 45) He was succeeded by Henry, probably his son, who died in 1291, (fn. 46) when his brother John de Folksworth did homage for his holding in Orton. (fn. 47) Thomas de Folksworth succeeded between 1338 and 1353, (fn. 48) but there is no further record apparently of the family until 1433, when John Folksworth did homage for lands in Orton Waterville held as a quarter of a knight's fee. (fn. 49) Later it seems to have passed into the possession of Pembroke College, Cambridge, since a holding called 'Foxworths' appears in the terriers of Orton Waterville in the 16th century. (fn. 50)
A manor in Overton which afterwards became part of Orton Waterville was granted in the reign of William the Conqueror to a knight named William Olifard to hold as half a knight's fee, (fn. 51) but it does not seem possible definitely to identify it with any one of the Domesday holdings in Overton. It was stated in 1279 that William held it for a long time and then forfeited it to the king for a felony. (fn. 52) In 1116, Hugh Olifard of Orton witnessed a transaction in the Abbot's court at Peterborough. (fn. 53) He appears on the Pipe Roll in 1131, (fn. 54) another William Olifard in 1163, (fn. 55) and Walter Olifard a few years later, (fn. 56) but there is no evidence that any of them held the manor. It would seem possible that it was not the original William Olifard who forfeited the manor, but a later tenant of the same name, since it was certainly in the hands of King John, from whom Nigel de Lovetot, then holder of the Lovetot barony, (fn. 57) and lord of the greater part of Overton, redeemed the manor from the king, (fn. 58) which suggests that it had been held of the barony before the forfeiture. Nigel died in 1219, (fn. 59) and his lands were divided amongst his three sisters and heirs or their descendants. (fn. 60) The pourparty of Roesia, the eldest sister, passed to her grandson Roger de Lovetot, who had also bought the share of the third sister Alice from her granddaughter Roesia, wife of John de Littlebury. (fn. 61) The second sister's pourparty was granted to certain free men, who were in seisin in 1279. (fn. 62)
Roger de Lovetot alienated part of his manor of Overton to Guy de Waterville, (fn. 63) the tenant of the Peterborough manor of Overton (q.v.), and he also had granted £10 rent in Orton Waterville to his daughter Petronilla and her husband Henry de Longueville. (fn. 64) Thus by 1275, Roger's son and heir Thomas de Lovetot was the overlord of the greater part of half a knight's fee in Orton Waterville (formerly Overton), held in chief of the king. (fn. 65) John de Lovetot died seised of rent in Orton Waterville about 1348, (fn. 66) and was succeeded by his son Edward, (fn. 67) who settled the rent on himself, his wife Joan and his heirs. (fn. 68) He died in 1369, when his son John was a minor. (fn. 69) The latter seems to have died, since on the death of Edward's widow Joan, (fn. 70)about 1404, their heir was Margaret, the wife of Sir John Cheyne. (fn. 71) She held the overlordship in 1437. (fn. 72)
The manor of Overton, which was granted to Guy de Waterville, was held of Thomas de Lovetot in 1279 for a rent of 10 marks and suit of court to the county and hundred, besides scutage from half a knight's fee. (fn. 73) Sir Robert Waterville was holding in 1303 and 1316, (fn. 74) and granted it to William de Thorpe; (fn. 75) and presumably from this time it was held with the manor belonging to the Lovetot Barony (q.v.), since they were both apparently included in the grant of the manor of Orton Waterville in 1481 to Pembroke College.
It should be noticed that in the elaborate extent of the manors made in 1279, no villeins appear, but only numerous free-tenants holding their lands, as was usual in Huntingdonshire at the time, by an elaborate system of subinfeudation. (fn. 76) In 1304, Robert de Waterville was granted the right of free warren in his demesne lands in Orton Waterville. (fn. 77)
In the reign of Edward the Confessor, Leuric had 3 hides and 1 virgate of land in the king's soke, but the king granted both Leuric and his land by charter to the Bishop of Dorchester with sake and soke, and after the removal of the see it was held by the BISHOPS OF LINCOLN. The bishop held it in 1086, when an under-tenant named John had been enfeoffed. (fn. 78) In 1279 the bishop's fee was held by various free sub-tenants, of whom William de Charewell or Yarwell held 4½ virgates of land by military service. (fn. 79) A tenement called Yarwells can be traced in the terriers of the manor of Orton Waterville (fn. 80) and a Robert Yarwell was seised of a tenement and windmill there in 1624. (fn. 81) In 1318, 2 messuages and 2 virgates of land, held of the bishop's fee, were released by Sayer de Waterville to Sir Robert de Waterville, the lord of both manors in Orton Waterville. (fn. 82) In 1275, the Bishops of Lincoln had for the last 30 years withdrawn their tenants from suit to the sheriff's tourn, (fn. 83) and in 1278 the bishop claimed to hold a view of frankpledge for his tenants in Orton Waterville. (fn. 84)
In 1278 the Prior of Huntingdon held a virgate of land in frankalmoin by the gift of Ralph de Amundeville, the husband of Avice, the second sister of Nigel de Lovetot. (fn. 85)
The church of ST. MARY consists of a chancel (29½ ft. by 20 ft.), nave (46½ ft. by 15 ft.), north aisle (10¼ ft. wide), south aisle (10 ft. wide), west tower (8 ft. by 8 ft.), and south porch. The walls are of rubble with stone dressings, and the roofs are covered with lead and slates.
The church is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), but it would appear that a stone church with a north aisle existed here in the 12th century. This church, with the possible exception of the chancel (concerning which there is no evidence) appears to have been rebuilt towards the end of the 13th century, commencing with the north arcade, c. 1300, which was rebuilt upon the earlier 12th-century bases, and following on with the south arcade and the west tower some ten years later. The chancel arch was rebuilt c. 1300–1310, and this probably gives us the date when the chancel assumed its present size, and probably the lower parts of the walls of this date remain. The two aisles and the side walls of the porch were rebuilt c. 1330. The clearstory was added in the 15th century. The belfry seems to have been added to the west tower (or rebuilt) c. 1500. The chancel was evidently rebuilt in the 17th century, probably upon the old foundations and using much of the old materials. The nave roof was rebuilt in 1753. Some repairs were done to the church and tower in 1840–1843. (fn. 86) The chancel roof was much restored in 1919, the roof of the south aisle in 1920, and of the north aisle in 1924.
The chancel, rebuilt in the 17th century, has a square-headed four-light east window. The north wall has two square-headed two-light windows. The south wall has two similar windows; a 14th-century blocked single-light low-side window with tracery in a two-centred head; (fn. 87) and a doorway with a twocentred head and continuous chamfered jambs. In the south-west angle is a recess with a segmental pointed arch, possibly for a seat. The chancel arch, c. 1300–1310, is two-centred, of two moulded orders, the lower order carried on a group of three attached shafts with moulded capitals. The roof is very flat and has some 17th-century moulded beams, jack-legs and purlins, but has been much restored.
The late 13th-century nave has an arcade of four bays on each side, having two-centred arches of two chamfered orders, that on the north c. 1270, and that on the south about ten years later. The north arcade has octagonal columns with moulded capitals (their neckings cut off) and 12th-century circular bases on square plinths. The south arcade has octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases; the capital of the middle column is carved with stiff-leaf foliage. The responds have semi-octagonal attached columns similar to the arcades. The 15th-century clearstory has three square-headed two-light windows on each side, but the eastern window on the south has been widened to the east and has two wooden mullions and a wooden lintel. The flat oak roof is dated 1753 on the western beam; the marks of a steeper roof may be seen on the east wall of the tower. The gable above the chancel arch has been lowered and much modernised, perhaps in the 17th century.
The north aisle, c. 1330–40, has a three-light east window with reticulated tracery in a two-centred head. The north wall has three similar two-light windows; a 15th-century square-headed single-light window; and a doorway with two-centred head and continuous chamfered jambs. The inner sill of the westernmost window has an incised circle enclosing a sexfoil worked upon it. The west wall has a mid 14th-century two-light window with a quatrefoiled spandrel in a two-centred head. In the south wall, eastward of the arcade, is a piscina with two-centred head and an octofoiled basin. In the north-east and south-east corners are simple semi-octagonal brackets. The walls have well-moulded plinths and plain parapets, and the buttresses have gabled tops. The simple lean-to roof has cambered beams, and has been much restored.
The south aisle, c. 1330–40, (fn. 88) has an east window and two windows in the south wall, similar to those in the north aisle. The east wall has a 15th-century semi-octagonal bracket supported on a carved demiman; and two other plain brackets. The south wall also has a late 16th-century single-light window with a triangular head; a doorway with two-centred head and continuous moulded jambs; and a piscina with ogee head and sexfoiled basin. The walls have plinths, parapets and buttresses similar to those of the north aisle, and the roof is similar.
The west tower, c. 1270–80, has no tower arch, but an original doorway to the nave having a two-centred head and continuous chamfered jambs. The north and south walls have each a small square-headed loop, and similar loops in the next stage. The belfry windows, c. 1500, are transomed two-lights with simple tracery in four-centred heads. The tower has no buttresses, and the lower parts of the walls are thick; they begin to batter on their outer faces before reaching the first string-course, and the second stage is distinctly narrower at the top than at the bottom. The added belfry is finished with an embattled parapet with shallow traceried panels and with small crocketed pinnacles at the angles.
The south porch has a south wall of c. 1270, with a two-centred archway of two hollow-chamfered orders, on responds formed of three grouped attached shafts with capitals carved with stiff-leaf foliage, and moulded bases. The side walls, which are of c. 1330–40, have no windows.
There are four bells, inscribed: (1) Thomas Norris made me 1670; (2) Sic fiat inter christianvs concordia Richd. Chambers C.W. - I: Eayre fecit 1754; (3) Protege prece pia quos convoco Sancta Maria 1606 T. N.; (4) Jos: Eayre St. Neots fecit Samuel Sharman Churchwarden 1755. The third bell is by Tobias Norris (I), who, apparently, has reproduced the inscription of an older bell. There were already four bells in 1709. (fn. 89)
The 17th-century Communion table, now in the north aisle, has turned legs and moulded brackets to the front rail. The richly carved Elizabethan oak pulpit is said to have come from Great St. Mary's Church, Cambridge. (fn. 90) It is hexagonal, with panelled sides and ogee coving, but without the stem; part of the sounding-board is now fixed above the north door. Above the south doorway is a carved Royal Arms of the Stuart period, perhaps that which is stated to have surmounted the sounding-board in the middle of the last century. (fn. 91)
A priest's desk and seat in the chancel incorporate late 16th-century ends with carved poppy heads, a panelled front and carved brackets. There are two chairs, c. 1700, with shaped backs and cabriole front legs in the chancel; and a 17th-century cupboard in the north aisle.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to the Rev. John Mills, Rector, d. 1892; Royston Cecil Gamage de Plessis le Blond, d. 1915; Valerie Helena (Tatman) wife of Norman Harry Sewell, d. 1927; and floor slab to the Rev. F. Tennant, Rector, d. 1836, and Catherine his wife, d. 1821; in the nave, floor slab to Thomas Marshall, . . . .; in the north aisle, to Richard Chambers, d. 1770, and Mary his wife, d. 1772; Mary Jane wife of Thomas Amies of Peterborough, d. 1864, and three infants; and the inscriptions 'E.M. 1692' and 'M. Chambers, 1772,' cut on the stone of the Herlyngton brass.
The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms, marriages and burials, 8 December 1538 to 10 April 1748; (ii) the same, 15 April 1747 (fn. 92) to 19 December 1812; marriages end 11 December 1752; (iii) marriages, 9 December 1754 to 13 September 1812.
The church plate (fn. 93) consists of a rather squareshaped silver cup hall-marked for 1683–4; a silver plate similarly hall-marked; a small silver bowl of late 17th-century date, but the hall-mark unintelligible; a modern plated flagon. (fn. 94)
Only one church at Orton is mentioned in Domesday Book, and this was undoubtedly the church of Orton Longueville. (fn. 95) A church at Orton Waterville existed in the 12th century, (fn. 96) and had probably been founded by one of the early de Waterville tenants of Peterborough Abbey. The first recorded presentation of a rector was made in 1248 by Sir Robert de Waterville, who had successfully opposed a claim to the advowson made by the lords of the Lovetot fee in Orton Waterville. (fn. 97) In 1273, Roger de Lovetot again attempted to gain possession of it, (fn. 98) but it remained in the hands of the Peterborough tenants. Another Sir Robert de Waterville apparently sold the advowson with the manor (q.v.) to Sir William Thorpe, who presented in 1344. (fn. 99) In 1398, (fn. 100) John de Herlyngton presented to the rectory and Roger Hunte, a feoffee of John's widow, presented in 1419. (fn. 101) In 1467, the advowson had passed to John, Earl of Worcester, the lord of the manor of Orton Waterville, (fn. 102) and was acquired by Archbishop Laurence Bothe, by whose executors it was given in 1481 to Pembroke College, Cambridge. (fn. 103) The church was taxed at £10 in 1291 and at 16 marks in 1428, when a pension of 20s. a year was paid to the Prior of Huntingdon. Its value in 1535 was £13 4s. 8d. (fn. 104)
Although no vicarage was ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln, vicars were presented from 1325 to 1418 by the rectors of Orton Waterville and were canonically instituted. (fn. 105) The vicarage farm is mentioned in 1508. (fn. 106)
A chantry at the altar of St. Mary in the church of Orton Waterville seems to have been founded by Sir Robert de Waterville, who presented a priest in 1330. (fn. 107) The only record of a licence obtained by him for the alienation in mortmain of land in Orton Waterville and in Ashley (Northants) was, however, for the foundation of a chantry with 2 priests in the chapel of Ashley in 1315, where he or his successor of the same name was lord of the manor and probably patron in 1316. (fn. 108) Possibly he changed his original intention and endowed the chantry at Orton Waterville instead. The advowson passed from him to Sir William Thorpe, (fn. 109) senior, and then to his feoffees, who obtained licence in 1395 to endow two chaplains of the chantries with 45 acres of land. (fn. 110) The institution of two chaplains may have begun with this further endowment, but separate presentations to the two moieties only began between 1420 and 1447, (fn. 111) although both advowsons were in the same hands. In 1409, Joan, widow of John de Herlington, included the advowson of the two chantries in the settlement of his estates. (fn. 112) In 1447 and in 1450 William Tresham and others presented, (fn. 113) and in 1459 feoffees of Ralph, Lord Cromwell, made the presentation. (fn. 114) The advowsons then passed to Pembroke College, which held them till the dissolution of the chantries. (fn. 115) In 1538, the chantries were valued at £10 6s. 8d. a year, (fn. 116) but at their dissolution in 1549, the value was returned at £12 os. 4d. (fn. 117) Some of the chantry lands in Orton Waterville were granted in 1549 to Richard Vere and Bartholomew Gybbes. (fn. 118) One rood of land, which had been given for maintaining a light in the church of Orton Waterville, was granted in 1549 to John Dodington and William Warde. (fn. 119)
The lands are now let and about one-half of the rent is distributed to the poor of the parish in coal; a yearly sum carried to the churchwardens' account and the residue carried to the School Account. The charities are administered by the rector and churchwardens of Orton Waterville.