A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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The parish of Easton covers an area of 1,352 acres of clay land producing wheat, barley and beans. The land is flat and low-lying in the north between the Ellington Brook, which for a part of its course forms the northern boundary, and a smaller stream which rises in Spaldwick and runs eastward to Ellington. Southward of the latter stream the ground rises from 66 ft. above the Ordnance datum in the village to over 200 ft. on the south-west boundary. The land is mostly pasture.
The village stands about half a mile to the south of the road from Huntingdon to Thrapston and six and a half miles from the former town. The smaller stream, already referred to, runs by the village street, on the south side of which is the church. Most of the houses and cottages date back to the 17th century and are timber-framed with thatched or tiled roofs. A road leading south from the village widens out as it skirts Calpher Wood, where it is called Hartham Street. Calpher Wood, formerly known as Calfo Park, contained 30 acres and belonged to the manor of Spaldwick in 1279. (fn. 1)
There was an Inclosure Award in 1775. (fn. 2)
The nearest railway station is that of Grafham, three miles to the south-east. In 1637 Giles Randall, the curate, preached a 'scandalous and seditious' sermon against ship-money in the parish church on a general fast day, and was bound over as a recusant. (fn. 3) He appeared as vicar of Easton before the Court of High Commission in 1640. (fn. 4) The Wesleyan Methodist chapel built in 1840 is now used as a parish room.
EASTON was a berewick of Spaldwick (q.v.) in 1086 and passed as part of the 'appurtenances' of Spaldwick in 1109 to the Bishop of Lincoln. It has ever since descended as part of the 'soke' of Spaldwick (q.v.) and now belongs to the Duke of Manchester.
There was a dispute in 1086 between Eustace the Sheriff and Ely Abbey about one-sixth of a hide here, Eustace having wrongfully seized this land in about 1071. (fn. 5) As neither Eustace nor his usual successors the Lovetots (fn. 6) are mentioned again, it is evident that the Abbot of Ely recovered this land for his manor of Spaldwick. It had probably been enfeoffed by the abbot to some Bedfordshire landowner whose estates had been confiscated. The interesting fact in connection with the dispute is the jury's statement that while the land lay in Huntingdonshire, it paid geld in Bedfordshire. (fn. 7) This has been taken by Dr. Round to suggest that the unidentified 'Estone' of the Bedfordshire Domesday Survey may be Easton, Hunts, but there is no doubt that 'Estone,' Beds, was Little Staughton. (fn. 8)
One hide in Easton belonged to the Honour of Kimbolton in 1279, (fn. 9) but this possibly represented the land held by William de Warenne in 'Estone,' Beds, in 1068.
In 1261 Nigel de Hardwick sold ½ a hide of land in Easton to Simon de Kingeston and Joan his wife. (fn. 10) Nigel's immediate predecessor was probably Peter de Lekeburn, who held 8 virgates at Hardwick in the parish of Tilbrook. (fn. 11)
Simon de Hardwick (1278–87) held a virgate as a twelfth of a knight's fee of Thomas de Bekering, Lord of Catworth, William Wyne and William Hokeman holding 2 virgates of de Bekering by the same service; (fn. 12) but as de Bekering held it of the Lord of Kimbolton, this was probably in 'Estone,' Beds. Robert Wyne and Peter de Hardwick, however, certainly possessed groves in Easton, Hunts, in 1300–1301; (fn. 13) and Robert Wyne purchased tenements here in 1346. (fn. 14)
The family of Bedell occurs in Easton as early as 1383, when John Bedell and others were concerned with a settlement here. (fn. 15) Thomas Bedell purchased 100 acres of land, etc., in Easton, Kimbolton, Spaldwick and Ellington, from Edward Mulsho and Mary, his wife, in 1567; (fn. 16) and there are family dealings with their lands here in 1582 and 1596. (fn. 17) In 1587 Edward Bedell bought 10 acres of pasture and 4½ acres of wood in Easton and Spaldwick from John Beck and Dorothy, his wife; (fn. 18) and their name continues in the parish register until a still later date.
In 1578 Sir Thomas Cecil, Kt., and Dorothy his wife sold 160 acres of wood in Easton, Long Stow and Spaldwick to Peter Assheton. (fn. 19)
The church of ST. PETER consists of a chancel (22½ ft. by 13½ ft.), nave (47¼ ft. by 16½ ft.), south aisle (10 ft. wide), west tower and spire (9½ ft. by 9½ ft.), and north porch. The walls are of rubble with stone dressings and the roofs are covered with lead.
The church is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), but the thick north wall of the nave and numerous carved stones built into the walls point to a stone church on the site by the beginning of the twelfth century; probably it had an aisleless nave. About 1300 considerable alterations were made, the south aisle with its arcade being added, and the chancel and chancel arch probably rebuilt. The tower and spire were built at the end of the 14th century. In the 15th century the east end of the chancel was largely rebuilt and the walls of it and of the nave were heightened and new windows inserted in them, but the windows of the clearstory seem to be early 16th century. The porch and the rood-stairs were built about 1500. The chancel was restored in 1871, when the east wall was largely rebuilt and a new roof put on, and the rest of the church about 1876–9; the south aisle was partly rebuilt and considerable other repairs done in 1903–4. The chancel was again restored in 1905. The spire was struck by lightning 3 July 1908, and repaired.
The 14th-century chancel has a 15th-century threelight east window with tracery in a rather depressed four-centred head. The north wall has a late 14thcentury two-light window heightened in the 15th century and having simple tracery in a four-centred head; and a 15th-century two-light window with tracery in a depressed four-centred head. The south wall has two windows similar to those on the north; and an early 16th-century doorway with continuous moulded jambs and a four-centred head under a square label. The chancel arch, c. 1300, is twocentred of two chamfered orders, the inner order resting on moulded corbels. In the gable above, the marks of the earlier nave roof may be seen. The roof is modern.
The nave has, in the north wall, a late 15th-century three-light window with transom and with tracery in a rather straight-sided four-centred head; a similar two-light window; a 14th-century doorway with two-centred head and continuous moulded jambs; the eastern inner jamb of a destroyed earlier doorway; and the reset semicircular head of a small 11th-century window.
The south arcade, c. 1300, has four bays of twocentred arches having two chamfered orders and resting on circular columns and semicircular responds, all with moulded capitals and chamfered bases, the bases of the responds brought to a square with large and coarse angle-stops, and on high square plinths; at the east end is the upper doorway of the rood-stairs. The clearstory above has four early 16th-century square-headed three-light windows. The flat oak roof of 1630 has moulded and carved beams, jack-legs and braces, bolection moulded spandrels, and shaped and pierced pendants; the eastern tie-beam is dated 1630. There are some ornamental lead spitters on both sides of the nave.
The south aisle, c. 1300, largely rebuilt in 1903, has in the east wall a late 15th-century square-headed three-light window, to the north of which, inside, is an almost destroyed bracket. In the south wall are three late 14th-century two-light windows with tracery in four-centred heads, the easternmost much restored; an original doorway with a two-centred head and continuous moulded jambs (the eastern having remains of a stoup), and having a modern door on which are fixed parts of the original iron hinges, one with a stamped rosette and stamped lappet resembling Thomas de Leighton's work; and an original piscina with two-centred head and a round basin. In the west wall is a late 15th-century squareheaded three-light window. In the north-east corner is the lower doorway of the rood-stairs, c. 1500, which occupy a rounded turret in the angle between the aisle and the chancel. The aisle has low buttresses and modern stone parapets; before 1903 the ancient parapets had been replaced with modern bricks. The modern roof includes two 17th-century beams and a purlin.
The late 14th-century west tower has a two-centred tower arch of three chamfered orders, the inner order resting on attached semicircular shafts with moulded capitals and bases. In the north wall is a curious recess with four-centred head. The west doorway has a two-centred head and continuous moulded jambs. The west window is of three lights with cinquefoiled transom and a nearly straight-sided fourcentred head. In the stage above is a two-light window with a four-centred head. The belfry windows are coupled two-lights with quatrefoiled transoms and with tracery in two-centred heads. The tower has square buttresses set well in from the angles, which rise to the springing of the heads of the belfry windows, and just below the spire is a band of quatrefoils; the tower stairs are in a square turret at the south-east angle. The broach spire (112 ft. 8 in. from ground to top) has three tiers of spire-lights all on the cardinal faces; the two lower are twolights, and the upper are single-lights.
The north porch, c. 1500, has a two-centred outer arch with continuous moulded jambs. The gable above retains the string-course of the parapet of a low-pitched roof, but a steeper gable has been built above it, and the porch has been roofed with tiles. The side walls each have shallow wall-arches with four-centred heads and continuous chamfered jambs; each containing a two-light window with simple tracery in a four-centred head. In the south-east angle is a recess with a four-centred head, in which has been fixed an octagonal stone stoup. (fn. 20) The modern roof includes two 17th-century tie-beams and jack-legs with moulded pendants.
There are four bells, inscribed: (1) Henry Penn made me 1718; (2) Sancta Marea; (3) Mr. Whitehead C. W. Taylor and Son Found. (fn. 8) St. Neots 1821; (4) Praise the Lorde. The second and fourth bells are by Newcombe of Leicester, about the middle of the 16th century. In 1552 there were four bells and a sanctus bell. (fn. 21)
There is a fine 15th-century oak screen under the chancel arch, of five bays with open tracery above and traceried panels below; the coving and loft have gone and the remaining portion is somewhat mutilated. A few old benches with panelled ends and two of them with late poppy-heads remain in the nave.
An early 17th-century Communion table with turned legs is in the south aisle; a somewhat similar table is in the nave, and a plain 17th-century chest in the tower. A 17th-century poor-box is fixed to one of the nave seats. Some of the turned balusters from the 17th-century altar-rails are incorporated in the litany desk and credence table. The 18th-century pulpit, of mahogany and ebony, came from South Shields.
The following stones built into the walls were found in the walling of the south aisle in 1903: in north wall, a long narrow coffin-lid with a much worn cross at the head, calvary at foot and the doubleomega ornament, found in fragments and put together; in south wall of south aisle, (1) a fragment of a small tympanum, (2) a 12th-century double capital, (3) the bottom part of a coffin-lid with crudely formed calvary of five steps, (4) a stone with a cross in relief, perhaps a consecration cross, (5) numerous other wrought stones. Other wrought stones lie in the churchyard.
The church of Easton was a chapelry in the soke of Spaldwick (q.v.) and in the gift of the prebendary of Stow Longa or Long Stow (q.v.). (fn. 22) The vicarage was united to Stow Longa in 1869 by Order in Council.
Thurston's Charity originally consisted of a rentcharge of £5 per annum issuing out of an estate at Halstead, but was redeemed in 1886 and is now represented by a sum of £167 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock with the Official Trustees. Four-fifths of the income is given to the vicar for preaching sermons and the remainder is distributed in doles to the poor of the parish.
The Town Lands consist of 5 closes of land in the parish containing about 24 acres, which are let to various tenants for terms of 3 years. The rents are distributed in doles to the poor of the parish.
Stephen Whitehead, by will proved at Peterborough 13 Jan. 1879, gave a sum of money for the deserving inhabitants of the parish. This sum is now represented by £99 5s. 1d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock with the Official Trustees, the income from which is distributed to the poor in doles.