A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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This small parish lies between Chesterton and Stibbington-cum-Sibson and is bounded on the north by the Nene. The Billing Brook divides it from Chesterton on the east, and very picturesque views are characteristic of this riverside region.
A short distance south of the river, the parish is crossed from east to west by the Great North Road, and the village is about half a mile from the western boundary. The church, rectory, school, and postoffice lie between the river and the Great North Road, across which on the south side is Water Newton House, with the smithy to the east of it.
It is said that the main road once came down to the ford, and passed close to the north and west walls of the church. The Hall, or Manor House, originally stood to the west of the Rectory; (fn. 1) the cottages now on the site being part of the outbuildings, and probably incorporating also some manor-house material. Water Newton Lodge, which stands about a mile south of the church, is built of re-used early 17th-century materials, but has some more modern work in parts. A deed of 1794 (fn. 2) describes it as having been built by Richard Edwards, chiefly out of materials taken from the manor-house called the Hall. The Hall was described as ruinous when sold by Richard Edwards in 1742, (fn. 3) but very little could have remained at this time because the greater part had already been pulled down. The deed would seem to suggest that Water Newton House, on the south side of the road, 150 yds. S.S.W. of the church, and the house of contemporary date on the north side of the road, (fn. 4) north-east of it, were originally both inns. Water Newton House was built early in the 17th century, the north front being remodelled early in the 18th century; it has later or modern additions at the south wing. The second early 17th-century house referred to on the north side of the road was remodelled on its western front early in the 18th century. The rectory house was built early in the 18th century, but has modern additions.
The area of the parish is 883 acres and the ground rises to about 115 ft. above Ordnance datum in the south, but is liable to floods in the north. The soil is mostly gravel, and the subsoil part clay and part sand. The land is very good and well cultivated, the chief crops being wheat, barley and oats. Local Romano-British remains, including villa sites and a cemetery, have been described in a previous volume. (fn. 5)
Close names found include Hall Close, Upper and Nether Middle Ground, Duncoat, Great and Little Spring Fields, Hawkins' Homestead, Berridge's Close, Long Lane or the Old Lane, Sibson Close, Sibson Common Town Field, Great Ramfield. (fn. 6)
The first endowments of the abbey founded at Ancarig c. 662 by Saxulph, Abbot of Peterborough, and after devastation by the Danes in 870 refounded as the Abbey of Thorney by Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester, in 972, appear to have included a manor of Newton, which was acquired for the abbey by Æthelwold from a knight called Ælfric Child, and confirmed to the abbey by King Edgar's foundation charter of 973. (fn. 7) The Abbey of Thorney in 1086 had a manor of 5 hides in Newton, with 2 mills rendering 32s., a priest and a church, 60 acres of meadow and a custom worth 2s. in the wood of the Abbey of Peterborough. One hide was demesne land. (fn. 8)
In 1279, the manor and vill were returned as containing 5½ hides of 5 virgates each, reckoning 26 acres to the virgate. Of these the abbot had in demesne 1½ hides and ½ virgate, and there were 14 acres of meadow. The Abbot of Thorney had 3 watermills, a several fishery in the Nene for the whole length of the mill-pond, and a common fishery beginning at Huntingdon Holme and extending to the boundary between Newton and Chesterton, 1½ leagues in length, which belonged to the manor. There were 3 freeholders, among them being Nicholas de Newton, who held 6 acres, residue of 2 virgates formerly held by Ralph de Newton, from whose heirs the Abbot of Thorney had bought 44 acres. This land owed suit at the court of the Hundred of Norman Cross, and at the Abbot of Thorney's court at Yaxley. Among the duties returned as due from one cottar for his holding was that of taking robbers captured in the manor of Newton to Huntingdon or Yaxley, and of doing 'averagium' with the common boat of Newton from Newton manor to Thorney. (fn. 9)
In 1286 the abbey claimed view of frankpledge and waif ab antiquo in Newton. (fn. 10) In 1390 the bondmen and bondage tenants of the abbot, together with his tenants in Stanground and Yaxley, refused services and customs due and formed leagues to resist him. (fn. 11) After the Dissolution the manor remained for a time in the hands of the Crown, and a grain rent from the farmer there was granted in 1546 to Thomas Rawlins of Stetchworth (Cambs). (fn. 12)
In 1548 the manor and advowson, with the pension from the rectory, hitherto paid to Thorney, and fee farm rent of £24, were granted to Sir Thomas Heneage, kt., and his wife Katherine and to Sir William Willoughby, kt., Lord Willoughby. (fn. 13) In 1549 Lord Willoughby granted them to George and Adam Smythe; all right in the same was released in 1550 by Adam Smythe to George Smythe, who died in the same year, leaving a son and heir Adam, aged 21, (fn. 14) who inherited. He died at Wansford in 1559 seised of the manor, advowson, etc., and leaving a brother and heir Christopher. (fn. 15) In the following year Christopher received freedom of the manor, (fn. 16) as heir of his brother.
In 1602 another grant by letters patent was made to Christopher Smythe and his son and heir apparent Millicent, confirming to them the fee farm, manor, etc., as granted to Sir Thomas Heneage and Lord Willoughby. (fn. 17) After the death of Christopher, his son Millicent in 1610 sold the manor and advowson, mills, and rents for £5,800 to Sir John Whitbrooke, kt., of Bridgenorth, co. Salop. (fn. 18) Sir John Whitbrooke settled the manor in 1614 on his wife Joan, and died in 1620 seised of the manor, the fee farm of which was granted in the same year to Lawrence Whitaker and Henry Price. (fn. 19) He was survived by Joan, who was living soon after at Shier Lane in the parish of St. Clement Danes, co. Middlesex, and by a son and heir Thomas, (fn. 20) aged 16½. Thomas on 2 August 1620 married Susan, daughter of John Sotherton, Esq., Baron of the Exchequer, at Frampton, and died the following October, when his heir was his brother Simon, aged 17, (fn. 21) who next held this property, which he conveyed in 1633 to John Glover, (fn. 22) who died seised in 1649. (fn. 23) The manor and advowson, mills, etc., had passed before 1673 to Robert Pemberton, Glover's nephew, and his wife Cecily, who in that year conveyed them to Sir Edward Turnor junior, kt., Arthur Turnor his brother, and Sarah Turnor. (fn. 24) Sir Edward, who was the eldest son of Sir Edward Turnor of Pardon Parva (Essex) (Speaker of the House of Commons in 1661, and Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 1671), died in 1721, survived by a son Charles, and a daughter Sarah, wife of Francis Gee. (fn. 25) Charles's two daughters died unmarried, and Arthur Turnor, their father's uncle, who had inherited his mother's property of Shillingley Park (Sussex), apparently succeeded to the manor under the terms of a settlement, and died in 1724, (fn. 26) leaving a son Edward, who sold it to Richard Edwards in 1735 (fn. 27) and died without issue in 1736. By his will he appointed as his heir his cousin Sarah, wife of Joseph Garth and daughter of Francis and Sarah Gee. The Turnor estates then became involved in litigation between Sarah and Joseph Garth and their children, and Richard Edwards, the owner of Water Newton. It resulted in the sale of the manor to Edward Knipe, of London, merchant, and his wife Dorothy, for £12,000 in 1742, and part of the payment was made by a transfer of South Sea bonds. (fn. 28)
In 1743 Edward Knipe settled the manor and advowson on his wife Dorothy, daughter of the Rev. Montague Lloyd, D.D., and to provide portions for his younger sons and daughters, with remainder, after her death, in tail male, to Randolph Knipe, then his only son and heir. (fn. 29) Randolph died in the lifetime of his father, who was survived by his wife, the aforesaid Dorothy, when he died at Epsom in 1786. This lady then held the manor and advowson, etc., with which she and her second but eldest surviving son, Edward, were dealing in 1794 to bar the above entail. (fn. 30) After the death of his mother in 1794, (fn. 31) the manor passed to Edward Knipe. (fn. 32) It remained during the earlier part of next century in the Knipe family. Edward Knipe of Epsom presented to the rectory in 1807, and Randolph Richard Knipe in 1846. (fn. 33) The Rev. Randolph Richard Knipe was lord of the manor in 1854. (fn. 34) and died at Bath in 1859. His successor of the same name was rector, and presumably lord of the manor, in 1873. The Marquess of Huntly afterwards bought the estate, probably in 1874, as he presented to the church in that year. He was lord of the manor in 1903, (fn. 35) but sold it soon after to Mr. John Henry Beeby of Peterborough, who died in 1924. Mrs. Beeby owned it in 1931.
The church of ST. REMIGIUS consists of a chancel (27 ft. by 14¾ ft.), nave (42½ ft. by 16¾ ft.), north aisle (6¼ ft. wide), south aisle (9¾ ft. wide), west tower (8½ ft. by 8½ ft.) and south porch. The walls are of rubble with stone dressings and the roofs are covered with stone-slates and lead.
The church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), and numerous 12th-century stones have been re-used or built into the later walls, but nothing of this date remains in situ. The chancel and nave were rebuilt and presumably the two aisles were added in the 13th century, and to this church a west tower was added early in the 14th century. (fn. 36)
A few years later the south aisle was rebuilt and possibly widened and the clearstory and the south porch added. The western end of the north aisle seems to have been rebuilt as a small chamber at the extreme end of the 14th century. In 1887 the greater part of the north aisle and its arcade were rebuilt and the whole church generally restored. The tower was restored in 1892.
The 13th-century chancel has a 15th-century threelight east window, but the inner jambs and parts of the arches of the original window, possibly two grouped lancets, remain; there are also two 15th-century brackets on this wall. In the north wall are two mid 14th-century two-light windows and a square locker. In the south wall are two similar windows, a small door, and a single-light low-side window, all of the same date, and the remains of two 13th-century windows; also 13th-century sedilia with three pointed arches supported on jamb-shafts and two circular shafts; and a 14th-century piscina with a segmental arch.
The 13th-century nave has an arcade of three bays on each side. The rebuilt north arcade has semicircular arches of one chamfered order resting on octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases; the eastern respond having a moulded corbel resting on a notch-head, and the western respond being a halfcolumn now enclosed in the churchkeeper's storeroom. The south arcade has similar arches, the western slightly later than the others; the eastern column, which is largely modern, is composed of four grouped shafts, and the western is octagonal, both with moulded capitals and bases. At the east end, on the north side of the chancel arch is a mutilated early 14th-century piscina with a cinquefoiled head. The clearstory has three mid 14th-century two-light windows on each side. The roof is modern, but six 15th-century figures of angels have been fixed on the jack-legs. (fn. 37)
The rebuilt north aisle has a mid 14th-century twolight window reset in the east wall, and two others and a blocked doorway in the north wall. The western end of this aisle is of late 14th-century date, is shut off from the rest by a cross wall, and used as a churchkeeper's storeroom; the west and north walls each have a narrow window, and near the top of the former is a small trefoiled opening, now blocked, which once opened into a space between the roof and a lower ceiling, possibly used as a dove-house for the rector's pigeons.
The mid 14th-century south aisle has a two-light window in the east wall and three others and a reset 13th-century doorway in the south wall. In the sill of the south-east window is a small sexfoiled sunk basin for a piscina; and in the south-east angle is a plain chamfered bracket. The roof is modern but is supported on some 14th-century stone corbels.
The early 14th-century tower has no tower arch, but a plain doorway, of c. 1400, opens into the church, and above it is a rough relieving arch; still higher up is a square-headed opening made up of 12th-century stones. The two side walls have each a reset 13thcentury lancet, and the west wall has a small niche containing the figure of a man (the head modern) and below it a sunk panel inscribed 'vovs ke par issi passez pvr le alme [th]omas pvrdev priez,' which is supposed to commemorate the builder of the tower. The belfry windows are two-lights, those on the north and east enclosed in a semicircular outer arch, and the others under pointed arches, but the outer orders are all decorated with the chevron ornament, and they appear to be 12th-century windows altered and reset in the 14th century. The tower, which has no buttress, has a very bold plinth, and is finished with a cornice of notch-heads and surmounted by a rather short octagonal broach spire having two tiers of lights; the upper part has been rebuilt with new stone and the old stones have been built into the churchyard walls. The height to the top of the spire is 95 ft.; and the vane has the initials 'J.C. 1803,' for John Compton. The stairs are in the south-east angle.
The 14th-century south porch has a pointed outer arch of two orders, the inner one resting on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. In the northeast corner is the moulded octagonal base of a shafted stoup.
There are three bells, inscribed: (1) Ave : gri : plena : Dns : tecum; (2) 1665; (3) Sancta Maria ora pro nobis. The first probably by William Rufford; the second by Tobias Norris (III). The bells were restored in 1902.
Several 12th-century stones are built into the wall of the north aisle. Lying loose in the south aisle is a small stone figure, c. 1300, of a man in a long gown, with angel at his head, and feet resting on a lion, all under a crocketed canopy carved with dog-tooth. An octagonal font-bowl, also lying loose in the church, was found in a field near Oundle. In the churchyard is a large Roman coffin and lid.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to Caroline Knipe, d. 1832; Harriot Jane Knipe, d. 1833, and William Knipe, infant, d. 1824; Harriot wife of the Rev. Randolph Richard Knipe, d. 1840; Frances Knipe, d. 1844; Frances wife of Edward Samuel Knipe, d. 1844; the Rev. Randolph Richard Knipe, Rector, d. 1859; the Rev. Randolph Knipe, Rector, d. 1873, and Elizabeth his widow, d. 1908; floor slabs to John Harbottill, of Baston, Lincs, d. 1646/7; the Rev. Jeffery Hawkins, Rector, d. ; Mary wife of the Rev. Jeffery Hawkins, Rector, d. 1709; [Hannah] daughter of the Rev. Jeffery Hawkins, Rector, d. 1715; the Rev. Robert Fuller, Rector, d. 1735, and Jane (Fuller) his widow, d. 1757; Original Jackson, d. 1771; Jane daughter and heiress of the Rev. Robert Fuller and Jane his wife, d. 1805; the Rev. Edward Kerriche, Rector, d. 1807; Richard Edwards, eldest son of Richard and Mary Edwards, d. 1808, and Edward Edwards, Admiral of the White Squadron, their second son, d. 1815; Mary wife of Samuel Edwards, their fourth son, d. 1816; and glass windows to Henry Edwards of King's Lynn, d. 1868; Samuel Edwards of Lewisham, Kent, d. 1882; and Elizabeth widow of the Rev. Randolph Knipe, Rector, d. 1908. In the nave, floor slab to John Compton, d. 1815, and Elizabeth his wife, d. 1831. In the north aisle to William C. Woodhouse, brother of the Rector, d. 1892; Charles James Sampson, d. 1916; Hugh Delane Sampson, died of wounds received in France, 1917; and floor slabs to the Rev. John Old, Rector [d. 1753], and [Jane] his widow, d. , and [Elizabeth] (fn. 38) daughter, d. 1767; Easter Fuller, d. 1769; Jane daughter of Richard Edwards, d. 1780, William son of Richard and Mary Edwards, d. 1784, and Samuel another son, d. 1816; Mary (Fuller) wife of Richard Edwards, d. 1801. In the south aisle glass window to Caroline Maria Woodhouse [mother of the Rector], d. 1876; and C.B.E. 1887.
The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms, 29 January 1687/8 to 12 October 1812; marriages, 2 February 1712 to 31 March 1752; and burials, 18 February 1699/1700 to 22 October 1812; (ii) the official marriage book, 25 June 1758 to 1 May 1812.
The church plate consists of (fn. 39) a silver cup which looks as if part of the base is missing, inscribed 'Water Newton' and hall-marked for 1636–7; a silver cover-paten which does not fit the cup, inscribed in script, except the two capital letters, 'Water Newton,' 17th century, but no hall-mark; a small silver bread box inscribed 'I.M. - - - E.L.R. 1918,' hall-marked for 1909–10.
The advowson followed the descent of the manor (fn. 40) until about 1930, when it was bought by the Rev. George Henry Woodhouse, who left it at his death at the end of that year to Keble College, Oxford, the present patrons.
In 1279, the rectory was endowed ab antiquo with a messuage and a virgate of land. (fn. 41) The church was valued at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291 and 1428. (fn. 42) Its value had risen to £8 12s. 4d. in 1535. (fn. 43)
A lease of the tithes of the demesnes was the subject of Chancery proceedings in 1590, instituted by Christopher Smythe against Samuel Willingham, then rector, and Martin Furnilowe. (fn. 44)