A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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The parish of Wood Walton now contains 3,882 acres of land and 16 acres of water. A considerable part of the parish is occupied by Walton Fen, which has been drained for many years. The subsoil is mainly Oxford Clay. The Isle of Higney was formerly part of Wood Walton parish, (fn. 1) but when Sir Henry Cromwell sold Wood Walton manor in 1568 to Thomas Cotton and William Lawrence he reserved the Isle of Higney (fn. 2) and attached it to Ramsey, forcing his tenants there to pay tithes to Ramsey. (fn. 3) The village lies two miles to the north-west of Abbots Ripton, where there is a station on the London and North Eastern Railway. At the northern end of the parish there are the motte and moats of the castle, (fn. 4) and to the south-east of the village there is a large inclosure, surrounded by a moat. (fn. 5) In 1886 a hoard of Roman coins was dug up in the parish. (fn. 6)
In the reign of Edward the Confessor, Saxi of Walton, a kinsman of Leofric, Earl of the Mercians, held the manor of WALTON or WOOD WALTON. (fn. 7) He had promised that after his death it should pass to the demesne of the Abbey of Ramsey. (fn. 8) After the Norman Conquest, however, it was given to Hugh de Bolebec, who was the tenant in 1086, when it was assessed at 5 hides of land. There were 16 acres of meadow and woodland for pannage, 16 furlongs in length by 6 furlongs 2 rods in breadth. (fn. 9) Hugh is said in the Domesday Survey to hold the manor of Earl William, but this is presumably a mistake for King William, since there was then no earl of the name (fn. 10) and Hugh's successor, Walter de Bolebec, held it of the king in chief. (fn. 11) Walter was holding it when, about 1134, with his wife and son he granted the manor to the Abbey of Ramsey, to hold by the service of two knights' fees and castle ward. (fn. 12)
The first sub-tenant was probably named Remelin, (fn. 13) whose daughter and heir was Aubrey, wife of Eustace de Sellea (Shelley). (fn. 14) In her widowhood she granted the manor, with the consent of her son Eustace, to the Abbey of Ramsey to hold in frankalmoin. (fn. 15) These grants of Walter de Bolebec and Aubrey de Sellea were confirmed to the abbey by Henry I, (fn. 16) but in the reign of Stephen Aubrey's sons seized the manor and claimed to hold it as two knights' fees. (fn. 17) It was recovered by the abbey, (fn. 18) and Abbot William (1161–77) (fn. 19) arranged that his brother should marry the widow of one of the sons and hold the manor of the abbey. (fn. 20) Michael, son of Michael de Walton or Michael Fitz Odger, granted in 1219 part of two carucates of land in Wood Walton, including the Isle of Higney and half of the wood of Walton, to Abbot Hugh, together with the overlordship of Michael's tenants. (fn. 21) The remainder of the two carucates the abbot regranted to Michael to hold in fee of the abbey as one-fifth of a knight's fee. (fn. 22) Michael was succeeded before 1231 by his brother Odger, (fn. 23) who granted to the abbey, to hold of the king in capite, the reversion of all his land in Walton and the services of his tenants, which he had granted at farm for 15 years to Robert Beville, one of his principal tenants. (fn. 24) At the dissolution of Ramsey Abbey, the profits from the manor of Walton were valued at 116s. 6d. a year, but presumably this included the Isle of Higney. (fn. 25) In 1542, Henry VIII granted it to Sir Richard Williams, alias Cromwell. (fn. 26) It passed to Sir Henry Cromwell, (fn. 27) who sold the manor of Wood Walton in 1568 to Thomas Cotton, of Conington, and William Lawrence, of St. Ives, but reserved the Isle of Higney and Yermesley (Germehey) Wood from the sale. (fn. 28) In 1570 Lawrence alienated a moiety of the manor to his son Henry and Elizabeth Haggard, apparently on the occasion of their marriage, to hold in fee tail. (fn. 29) In 1595, it had passed to Gilbert Pickering, in right of his wife Elizabeth, who was presumably the widow of Henry Lawrence. (fn. 30) John Lawrence had succeeded to the moiety before 1601. (fn. 31) The Lawrences sold it to the Dacres, (fn. 32) and Sir Thomas Dacres was in possession in 1664. (fn. 33) He was succeeded by Robert Dacres, (fn. 34) and the family owned it till 1748, when George Dacres sold it to Nicholas Morice. (fn. 35) It passed to Humphrey Morice before 1779. (fn. 36) Apparently Lieut.-General Vere Warner Hussey purchased the Wood Walton estates in 1786. He died in 1823 and left the property to his nephew, RearAdmiral Sir Richard Bickerton, who took the name of HusseyBickerton. On his death in 1832 he was succeeded by his cousin Richard Hussey Moubray, who also took the family name and became Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Hussey Hussey. He died in 1842, and the manor passed to his son Richard Hussey Hussey, on whose death in 1899 it went to a cousin, Colonel Arthur Moubray, who sold the estates in 1919, but appears to have retained the manorial rights.
In 1593, Robert Cotton and his wife Elizabeth sold the other moiety of the manor to William Marshall, (fn. 38) who died seised in 1629. (fn. 39) He was succeeded by his son John. (fn. 40) Another John Marshall was the tenant about 1667, (fn. 41) and the moiety was in the possession of William Marshall in 1715. (fn. 42) Original Jackson was said to be the owner in 1768, (fn. 43) but the property came into the possession of George Pryme by 1854. (fn. 44) He died in 1868, and the estates were sold by his grandson, the Rev. Alexander George de la Pryme, in 1901, to George and Edward Coleman. George Coleman's executors put them up for auction in 1924, and the property now belongs to Mr. W. S. Smith. As no manorial rights are mentioned, it is possible they were bought by a member of the Hussey family from the Marshalls.
The manor of WALTON BEVILLES (fn. 45) or PENYCOKS, (fn. 46) in Wood Walton, may be identified with one of the two fees in Wood Walton held by Aubrey de Sellea. (fn. 47) Whether it had been subinfeudated before she granted the manor to the Abbey of Ramsey or at some later date is not certain, but Reginald le Moyne was holding a fee here as early as 1166. (fn. 48) Before 1207, his son, Berenger le Moyne, had succeeded him, when an unsuccessful claim to the manor was made by Philip le Moyne. (fn. 49)
When Michael, son of Michael de Walton, granted his lands to the abbey, in 1219, he included his rights in the fee which Berenger le Moyne held of him. (fn. 50) Berenger granted all his lands in Wood Walton to Robert de Beville, for his homage and service. (fn. 51) Odger son of Michael similarly granted all his lands together with the advowson of the church to Robert. (fn. 52) In 1224, Odger granted the homage and service of Robert, together with the reversion of all his lands in Wood Walton, to Ramsey Abbey. (fn. 53) Hugh, Abbot of Ramsey, thereupon redeemed the advowson from Robert, granting him in exchange three virgates of land in Wood Walton, and confirming to him Berenger le Moyne's grant of one hide of land. (fn. 54) About 1230, Robert's heir was in the wardship of William le Bretone. (fn. 55) In 1279, the tenant was Sir Richard Beville, knt. (fn. 56) It seems clear that he was identical with the Sir Richard Beville who with his wife Fresencia obtained a grant of the manor of Le Northend (q.v.). (fn. 57) He was living in 1284, but probably died before 1285, (fn. 58) and certainly before 1305, when his widow held a third of the manor in dower of the inheritance of Idonea, the wife of John de Welle. (fn. 59) The manor had been granted to Richard, the son of John and Idonea, (fn. 60) who took the name of Beville, (fn. 61) and was holding a knight's fee in Wood Walton in 1303. (fn. 62) In 1332, his son Robert settled the manor on himself and his wife Elizabeth and their heirs. (fn. 63) He was living in 1346, (fn. 64) but was succeeded before 1348 by his son Richard. (fn. 65) Robert, the son and heir of Richard, was a minor in the wardship of the Abbot of Ramsey, but was of age before 1363. (fn. 66) He was probably identical with the Robert Beville of Wood Walton who was a knight of the shire for Huntingdonshire in 1382, (fn. 67) and who gave licence in 1392 for the grant of certain lands of his fee to the Abbey of Sawtry. (fn. 68) In 1409 or 1410, his son Thomas Beville was lord of the manor, (fn. 69) but in 1412, Joan, lady of Walton, also had a considerable holding there, (fn. 70) which she was presumably holding in dower. Thomas died about 1436, when his son Richard probably succeeded him. (fn. 71) A Richard Beville died seised of the manor in 1463, when it passed to his daughter Agnes, the wife of John Penycok. (fn. 72) In 1514, John Penycok, probably their son, died seised of the manor, and his heir was his brother Thomas. (fn. 73) In 1528 or 1529, Thomas was said to have granted the manor to feoffees to hold to the uses of his will, (fn. 74) which was proved on January 14, 1530, (fn. 75) and in 1531 his son Anthony dispossessed the feoffees, claiming the manor under his marriage settlements. (fn. 76) Anthony died seised in 1533, leaving his son Robert, aged two, as his heir. (fn. 77) Prolonged litigation took place between Katherine, the widow of Thomas Penycok and wife of Thomas Cotes, and Anthony's widow Mary, who very shortly married Robert Charlton. (fn. 78) Various settlements were made and upset, (fn. 79) but by 1556 Robert Penycok was married, and he and his wife Margaret, together with his mother and Robert Charlton, sold Beville's manor to Thomas Cotton and William Lawrence. (fn. 80) The purchasers also bought the manor of Wood Walton (q.v.) in 1568, and from that time the descent of the two manors was the same.
The manor of LE NORTHEND (fn. 81) or CORNWALLS (fn. 82) manor may be identified with the three virgates of land which Abbot Hugh Foliot of Ramsey granted to Robert Beville in 1224, at an annual rent of 1 silver mark. (fn. 83) The manor was subinfeudated at a subsequent date, probably to Walter Beville, (fn. 84) whose son Thomas held it in 1279 as a sub-manor of Beville's manor (q.v.). (fn. 85) Thomas granted it to his overlord, Sir Richard Beville, knt., and his wife Fresencia and their heirs in fee tail. (fn. 86) By 1305 Fresencia was holding it as a widow, (fn. 87) but after her death the kinswomen and heirs of Thomas Beville, who died in 1295, (fn. 88) claimed the manor, and probably obtained possession. In 1317, one of these heirs, Roesia, with her husband, Paul de Hale, granted tenements, which can be identified with a moiety of the manorial lands, to Richard Cornwall, (fn. 89) who also seems to have obtained seisin of the other moiety belonging to Idonea, the other heir of Thomas Beville and wife of Henry de Lettres. (fn. 90) In 1323 the manor was claimed by Robert Beville, who brought a lawsuit for its recovery which was decided in his favour in 1332. (fn. 91) In the following year, however, a settlement was made with Cornwall, by which Le Northend was granted to Cornwall and his wife Joan for their lives, with reversion to Richard, son of Robert Beville and his wife Elizabeth. (fn. 92) Before the reversion fell in, however, Richard appears to have held the manor at farm from Richard Cornwall at a rent of 100s. (fn. 93) In 1387, Robert Beville, the son of Richard, obtained a release from William Cornwall of his right in all his lands in Wood Walton. (fn. 94) In 1412 Thomas Beville and Joan Beville, lady of Walton, both appear as tenants, but she was probably holding under a settlement as a widow, (fn. 95) and in 1428 Thomas held the whole of the Beville fee in Walton, which would include both the manors. (fn. 96) In 1463 Richard Beville died seised of two manors in Wood Walton, (fn. 97) and on the death of his descendant Anthony Penycok in 1533, they are distinguished as Beville's manor (fn. 98) (q.v.) and Cornwall's manor. From this time they followed the same descent.
In the early 13th century Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, having obtained possession of the barony of Lovetot, (fn. 99) claimed the overlordship of one knight's fee in Wood Walton. (fn. 100) His descendants, until 1402, claimed the overlordship of two thirds and one third parts of a fee, and from the undertenants named it appears probable that they were claiming the overlordship of Beville's manor and its sub-manor of Le Northend (q.v.). (fn. 101) He seems to have obtained with the barony a small holding in Wood Walton, but this extravagant claim, which was entirely ignored by the jurors of the hundred in 1279, (fn. 102) was contested by the Abbey of Ramsey, and was still a matter of litigation with the Duke of Buckingham in the late 15th century. (fn. 103)
In spite of the silence of the Hundred Roll of 1279, (fn. 104) it seems clear that Richard de Clare did obtain the overlordship of land in Wood Walton with the barony of Lovetot. Possibly it was held by the tenants of Beville's manor and Le Northend, and this gave a pretext to the claim to the overlordship of these manors. Till the end of the 14th century, the tenants named in the inquisitions of the Earls of Stafford, who had inherited this part of the Gloucester possessions, were also the tenants of the two manors, (fn. 105) but in 1386 the smaller holding of one third of a knight's fee was in the hands of John Beville. (fn. 106) He was probably identical with John Beville of Chesterton, who, with his wife Agnes, made a settlement of lands in Wood Walton in 1409–10. (fn. 107) From this time the Bevilles of Chesterton appear to have had land or rents in Wood Walton. (fn. 108) In 1563, however, Robert Beville, who may be identified with Robert Beville who had succeeded to the manors of Chesterton in 1553, (fn. 109) sold a messuage, 50 acres of land, etc., in Wood Walton, Denton and Suershaye to William Lawrence, who was one of the purchasers of the three manors in Wood Walton. (fn. 110)
The Abbey of Sawtry was granted a messuage and one carucate of land, etc., in Wood Walton in 1391, which were held of Robert Beville, then lord of Beville's manor (q.v.), (fn. 111) by Robert Huntingdon and John Cosgrave. At the dissolution of the abbey, it held rents of the annual value of £3 6s. 8d., (fn. 112) and in 1537 the reversion was granted to Sir Richard Williams. (fn. 113)
In the charter of confirmation of Henry I of the grant of Wood Walton Manor to Ramsey Abbey, he also gave sake and soke, tol and theam, infangtheof and other privileges in Wood Walton. (fn. 114)
The township of Wood Walton before the 13th century owed suit of court at the Hundred of Norman Cross and the sheriff's tourn and paid annually 4s. 2d. for sheriff's aid, 2s. for hevedpenny and 8d. for wardpenny. (fn. 115) Richard, Earl of Gloucester, however, withdrew this suit and held a view of frankpledge for Wood Walton. (fn. 116) His successors held the court at Sawtry. (fn. 117) He also claimed to have gallows, trebuchet and the assizes of bread and ale in Wood Walton. (fn. 118)
The Abbot of Ramsey in 1278 held a several fishery in Dodemarnes Mere. (fn. 119) At the same date Sir Richard Beville had a windmill on the island of Turkildesholm, which was a several pasture belonging to his fee. (fn. 120) Valuable common rights were attached to Walton Fen, which were the subject of much litigation and many agreements between the abbot and his tenants and neighbours. (fn. 121)
The church of ST. ANDREW consists of a chancel (26¼ ft. by 12 ft.), organ chamber and vestry on the north (9 ft. by 5¾ ft.), nave (39 ft. by 13¾ ft.), north aisle (7¼ ft. wide), south aisle (7½ ft. wide), west tower (10 ft. by 9¼ ft.), and south porch. The walls are of rubble with stone dressings, and the roofs are covered with tiles, stone-slates and lead.
The church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086). This early church probably consisted of an aisleless nave of the same length as the present, and a chancel. About 1250 a south aisle was added, the arcade of which remains. The chancel was rebuilt about eighty years later; and the north arcade was formed, or rebuilt, and the clearstory added early in the 16th century. The tower appears to have been of 14th-century date. The church was restored in 1856–59, when the aisle walls, the tower and the porch were rebuilt and a vestry added. The features of the aisles and tower were probably reproduced in the new work, as the square-headed 14th-century window is a local characteristic. (fn. 122) The vestry was rebuilt in 1897. The porch and western end of the south aisle were again rebuilt in 1906; and the vestry was altered to form an organ chamber in 1911.
The chancel, c. 1330, has a modern three-light east window with an original rear-arch. The north wall has two original windows, the eastern with a twocentred head and the western square-headed; and a modern arch and doorway to the organ chamber. The north-west window has some painted glass, c. 1400, with figures of St. Katharine and St. Lawrence under crocketed canopies, and other fragments in the tracery above: the south-west window has fragments of 15th-century coloured glass. The south wall has two original square-headed two-light windows, the westernmost being carried down below a transom as a lowside window; and an original doorway. The chancel arch, c. 1330, is two-centred and has two chamfered orders, the inner order resting on moulded corbels.
The nave has an early 16th-century north arcade of four bays having two-centred arches of two chamfered orders resting on narrow piers formed by the continuation downwards of the outer orders between two semi-octagonal attached shafts having moulded capitals ornamented with blank shields on the middle pier and battlement mouldings on the others; all have moulded bases. The eastern respond is an embattled corbel, partly modern, and the western a semioctagonal shaft with moulded and battlemented capital and moulded base.
The mid 13th-century south arcade, also of four bays, has two-centred arches having a plain outer order and chamfered inner order, resting on two circular piers and one octagonal pier, all with moulded capitals and bases. The responds are similar to those on the north, but there are no battlements in the capital of the western respond. The early 16thcentury clearstory has four square-headed two-light windows on each side.
The rebuilt north aisle has a two-light window with a four-centred head partly of late 15th-century date. The north wall has two square-headed two-light windows and a doorway with a two-centred head, and the west wall has a square-headed two-light window, all modern.
The rebuilt south aisle has an east window similar to that in the north aisle. The south wall has three square-headed two-light windows, of which some jamb stones of the eastern and western windows are ancient; and a 14th-century doorway with two-centred head of two continuous chamfered orders. There is an incised consecration cross on both jambs of this doorway. The western wall has a modern single-light window.
The rebuilt west tower has a two-centred tower arch of two continuous chamfered orders. The blocked west doorway has a two-centred arch of two continuous moulded orders; and above it is a single-light window. The stage above has a small lancet in each face, that on the east opening into the church. The belfry windows are of two-lights with a quatrefoiled spandrel under a two-centred arch. The tower, which has diagonal buttresses at the north-west and south-west angles, is covered with a tiled roof behind an embattled parapet. In 1836 it had a plain parapet. (fn. 123) The stairs are at the north-east corner.
The modern south porch has a two-centred outer archway, above which is a small niche with a figure of St. Andrew. There is a two-light window in each of the side walls. A few 13th and 14th century moulded stones have been built into the west wall.
There are four bells, inscribed: (1) Wm. Mackness Churchwarden : Hugh Palmer Minister; (2) 1841; (3) 1841; (4) J. Eayre fecit 1764: Hugh Palmer Minister Wm. Mackniss Churchwarden. In 1708 there were only three bells. (fn. 124) Hugh Palmer was rector from 1758 to 1779. The second and third bells are probably by Mears, of Whitechapel. The bells were rehung when the tower was rebuilt in 1859.
At the west end of the north aisle a small 13th-century coped coffin-lid ornamented with a rather crude cross has been fixed against the wall; and three larger and later coffin-lids are fixed in other positions, one of which is inscribed 'F.W. 1800.'
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to Lt. Gen. Vere Warner Hussey, d. 1823; Vice Admiral Sir Richard Hussey Hussey, d. 1842, Emma his wife, d. 1874, Emma their dau., d. 1880, and Richard their son, d. 1899; Emma, Lady Hussey, d. 1874. In the nave, to the Rev. Henry Mellish Stowers, Rector 1856–87. In the north aisle, glass windows to John Ullett, d. 1856, and Rebecca Ullett, d. 1850; and Henry Ullett, d. 1866, and Ann Ullett, d. 1856. In the south aisle, glass window to William Goodliff, d. 1871. In the tower, floor slab to William eldest son of Sir John Marshall, Kt, d. 1750.
The church plate consists of a silver cup with repoussee ornament, inscribed 'The gift of Sir R. Hussey Bickerton, Bart., to the parish of Wood Walton, 1824,' hall-marked for 1821–2; a standing paten of the same date but no date letter; a silver flagon inscribed 'The gift of Richard Hussey Hussey, Esquire, to the parish of Wood Walton, 1869,' hallmarked for 1869–70; a silver chalice, partly gilt, hall-marked for 1924–5; a silver paten similarly hallmarked; a wafer bread box inscribed 'St. Andrew's Church, Wood Walton.'
In 1086, there was a church on Hugh de Bolebec's manor of Wood Walton. (fn. 125) It was confirmed to the Abbey of Ramsey by Pope Alexander in 1178 (fn. 126) and included in the release of the possessions of Michael of Walton given by his brother Odger between 1216 and 1231. (fn. 127) The advowson belonged to Ramsey Abbey until the Dissolution, after which it followed the descent of the manor (q.v.), the lords of the two moieties presenting jointly in 1559 and 1596. (fn. 128) Later they presented alternately. (fn. 129) John Marshall presented in 1669, (fn. 130) and presentations were made as to his mediety of the advowson, in 1736 by Ann Murdin, widow, (fn. 131) and in 1758 by Original Jackson. (fn. 132) Thomas Dacres presented to his mediety in 1706 (fn. 133) and was followed in 1752 by Thomas Palmer of Brampton, (fn. 134) and in 1779 by Humphrey Morris. (fn. 135) In 1827, Sir Richard Hussey Bickerton presented (fn. 136) and apparently obtained the whole advowson by 1854, (fn. 137) and Richard Hussey Hussey was patron in 1887. (fn. 138) In 1907 Col. Moubray owned the advowson, (fn. 139) which was included in the sale of 1919, to the A.M.A. Syndicate, who sold it in 1925 to Dr. E. Rowland Fothergill. It was bought in 1928 by the Rev. P. E. Warrington.
In 1279 a messuage and a virgate of land formed the ancient endowment of the rectory. (fn. 140) Before 1226, a vicarage had been given to Robert, a chaplain, but it does not seem to have been permanently instituted. (fn. 141) The value of the church was £6 13s. 4d. (10 marks) in 1291 and 1428, and had risen to £11 9s. 9d. in 1535. (fn. 142)
At the Dissolution of the Chantries 1 acre of land of the yearly value of 6d. had been given for a light in Wood Walton Church. (fn. 143) In 1549 it was granted to John Dodyngton and William Warde. (fn. 144)
Edward James Coleman, by the codicil dated 6 October 1916 to his will, proved 1 May 1917, gave £50 to the vicar and churchwardens for the purpose of defraying any necessary cost and upkeep of the memorial to his son, Edward Herbert Coleman, the surplus to be applied in such manner as the trustees think fit. The endowment now consists of £53 6s. 6d. War Stock with the Official Trustees.