A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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Laughton lies thirteen miles south-south-east of Leicester in the hills along the Northamptonshire border. The roughly triangular-shaped parish has an area of 1,151 a.
Most of the parish lies above 500 ft. and the Laughton Hills, in the south, exceed 550 ft. The ground falls in the north, towards the reservoir in Gumley and Saddington, and in the west, down to the Saddington brook which forms much of the parish boundary on that side. Field boundaries form the parish boundary on the east, and on the south the boundary lies along the steep south-facing slope of the hills. The soil is chiefly clay, with some gravel, and the land is mostly under pasture. Several small woods lie on the slope of the hills in the south. There are disused gravel workings west of the village.
Two gated roads run approximately from east to west across the parish: one from Gumley to Mowsley, the second, along the top of the hills in the south, from Lubenham to join the Mowsley-Theddingworth road. A cross-road links the other two. The houses of the village lie along a short stretch of 'loop' road on the north side of the Gumley- Mowsley road, and along a cul-de-sac (Main Street) running northwards from the same road. There is a small green where these roads meet. Field roads run north from the village to Saddington and south to Theddingworth.
Most of the houses in Main Street are small twostoried brick buildings, a few having thatched roofs and several dating from the 19th century. On the west side a row of cottages opposite the churchyard is partly of medieval origin. The central cottages retain two cruck trusses of the original timber-framed construction; other crucks have either been destroyed or are concealed by 18th- and 19th-century brickwork. A gable-end facing the street at the south end of the row may represent the front of a timberframed cross-wing, added later to the medieval structure. A brick addition was used as a cobbler's shop in the late 19th century. Other houses in Main Street which were formerly of timber construction are the Old House and Home Farm. The walls of both were rebuilt in brick during the 18th century and in the case of Home Farm the brickwork is ornamented with vitrified headers. The older part of this house was originally a 17th-century structure of three bays, the position of its cross-passage being indicated by a blocked doorway on the street frontage. The Cottage in Main Street, a low building with a central chimney and half-attic bedrooms, may be mud-walled. Against the churchyard a small mudwalled outhouse with a thatched roof was formerly used as a slaughterhouse. Nearby a primitive cottage of similar construction was demolished in 1961.
Along the loop road to the east of Main Street there are three large houses, Killock House, Laughton House, and the Old Rectory. (fn. 1) Killock House, formerly Killock Farm, is a two-storied brick building dating from the late 17th or early 18th century. The front of the roof is hipped and there are three gables facing the garden. The house has a moulded brick plinth set on cobbled footings and the south wall carries a slate sundial. The brickwork is ornamented with diaper designs picked out in vitrified headers which include bold intersecting diamonds on the south wall, small diapers in the gables, and a band at first-floor level, now interrupted by alterations to the window openings. A first-floor room contains a cornice and panelling of c. 1700. The brick garden walls and gate piers appear to be contemporary with the house. A house to the south carries a date tablet of 1724 with initials CIA, originating from a cottage on the same site. Laughton House is a large threestoried red-brick building which, with its gate piers, stables, and coach-house, dates from the early 19th century. One pair of Council houses, erected after the Second World War, represents the only modern building in the village.
Lodge Farm and Old Mill Barn in the south of the parish were both built in the 19th century. Manor Farm is an early-19th-century house, later heightened from two to three stories. One of two inscribed bricks on a barn in the farmyard is dated 1832. Brian's Close, built in the 1930's, is a large and prominent house on the wooded slopes of the Laughton Hills.
The recorded population of Laughton in 1086 was only 7. There were 13 households in 1563 and 18 in 1670. In 1603 there were 118 communicants, and in 1676 65. (fn. 2) There were 20-22 families in the early 18th century, (fn. 3) and 145 people in 33 houses in 1798. (fn. 4) The population reached 180 in 1841, but had fallen to 87 by 1921; in 1951 it was 92. (fn. 5)
MANORS AND LESSER ESTATES.
In 1086 2 carucates in Laughton were held by Walter under Robert de Todeni. (fn. 6) No evidence has been discovered for the descent of this holding in the 12th century but by the beginning of the 13th an interest in Laughton had been acquired by Robert FitzParnell, Earl of Leicester (d. 1204), and it figured in the partition of the honor of Leicester between his two sisters and co-heirs, Amice, widow of Simon de Montfort, and Margaret (d. 1234), wife of Saer de Quency, later Earl of Winchester (d. 1219). (fn. 7) The latter's share included 20s. and 5s. yearly from the rents of Geoffrey de Cranford and Philip de Wastenys in Laughton. (fn. 8) In 1271 Saer de Quency's son Roger, Earl of Winchester (d. 1264), was said to have died seised of one knight's fee in Laughton, (fn. 9) which, at the division of his possessions among his three daughters, was allotted to Elizabeth, or Isabel, wife of Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan (d. 1290). (fn. 10) The overlordship passed to Henry de Beaumont, Lord Beaumont, by his marriage with Alice, niece and heir of John Comyn, Earl of Buchan (d. 1308). (fn. 11) It descended in the Beaumont family as part of the honor of Winchester (fn. 12) until the possessions of William, Viscount Beaumont and Lord Bardolf, were forfeited to the Crown in 1461 and his share of the honor was granted to William, Lord Hastings (fn. 13) (d. 1483). After the restorations of Viscount Beaumont in 1485 and Lord Hastings's son Edward in 1487, (fn. 14) the honor was held by these two, together with Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset (d. 1501), and afterwards his son Thomas (d. 1530), (fn. 15) to whom had descended the inheritance of Margaret de Ferrers, Countess of Derby, the eldest daughter and co-heir of Roger, Earl of Winchester. (fn. 16) The Winchester fee in Laughton was apparently held of Viscount Beaumont (fn. 17) until his death without issue in 1507 and subsequently of the Marquess's grandson, Henry, Marquess of Dorset, (fn. 18) created Duke of Suffolk. After his attainder in 1554 it reverted again to the Crown. (fn. 19)
In 1223 Margaret, Countess of Winchester, granted to Hugh de Vere, Earl of Oxford (d. 1263), £4 8s. in rents which included 17s. 6d. from Geoffrey de Cranford in Laughton and the service which he owed her. (fn. 20) In 1296 Hugh de Vere's son Robert died seised of £4 rent from free tenants in Belgrave, Leicester, and Laughton held of John Comyn, Earl of Buchan. (fn. 21) The earls of Oxford were apparently recognized as mesne lords of the Winchester fee in Laughton (fn. 22) until about 1388 when Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland, forfeited his possessions to the Crown. (fn. 23)
Of the known under-tenants, reference has already been made to Geoffrey de Cranford. In 1207 Alan Clerk of Kilworth surrendered to Thomas Malmeins his charter from Robert, Earl of Leicester, granting him 10 librates in Laughton. (fn. 24) About 1220 both Malmeins and de Cranford are mentioned, with Gregory de Forumere, as the tenants of the demesnes from which the abbey of St. Evroul (Orne) was taking tithes. (fn. 25) In 1279 the heir of Geoffrey de Cranford was holding 10 virgates of land in Laughton. (fn. 26) In 1323 William de Cranford conveyed 3 messuages, a mill, and 3 virgates to William de Mowsley. (fn. 27) It is possible that all the property held by de Cranford ultimately passed to Leicester Abbey (see below).
Other early tenants of the Winchester fee were Brian de Goiz of Durweston, Knighton, and Long Crichel (Dors.), (fn. 28) and Geoffrey de Skeffington of Skeffington. In 1279 they were reported to hold 28 virgates of Robert de Vere in Laughton. (fn. 29) In 1283 Brian de Goiz the elder held a carucate of land in Laughton. (fn. 30) In 1344 Brian de Goiz released his rights in Laughton to Sir John de Pulteney. (fn. 31) The de Goiz holding (fn. 32) is probably identifiable with the 'manor' of Laughton, held from the Earl of Oxford, of which Sir Henry Green, of Boughton and Green's Norton (Northants.), Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, (fn. 33) died seised in 1369. (fn. 34) He was succeeded by his son Sir Thomas Green (d. 1391), and his grandson Thomas. (fn. 35) In 1496 the widow of the latter's grandson, Sir Thomas Green (IV), (fn. 36) founded a chantry in the church of Green's Norton (fn. 37) which she endowed with property in Laughton. After the Dissolution this property, described as 5 messuages, 13 virgates, and unspecified lands, was granted in 1549 to William Cecill and Laurence Eiresbie. (fn. 38)
The holding of Geoffrey de Skeffington consisted in 1265 of 6 virgates and a windmill, which had formed the jointure of his wife Iseult. (fn. 39) The Skeffington family (fn. 40) evidently continued to hold property in Laughton (fn. 41) though no details of it are available until 1543 when Thomas Skeffington died seised of 3 messuages, 200 a. of land, and 16s. rent in Laughton. (fn. 42) In 1606 the property was described as 5 messuages, 2 cottages, a windmill, 390 a. of land, and 16s. rent. (fn. 43) At John Skeffington's death in 1613, (fn. 44) his property in Laughton appears to have descended to John St. Andrew of Gotham (Notts.), son and heir of Skeffington's sister Mary. (fn. 45) John St. Andrew died in 1626 leaving three daughters and co-heirs (fn. 46) for whom the Laughton estate was surveyed in 1646. It was then described as 4 messuages, 3 cottages, 9¾ yardlands, a cow pasture, and several closes. (fn. 47) The later descent of this property has not been traced.
Leicester Abbey may have received grants of property in Laughton from the earls of Winchester: Roger de Quency (d. 1264) granted the abbey freedom from his right to the services of the abbey and its men in Laughton. (fn. 48) The greater part of its interest there, however, probably resulted from the licence granted in 1338 to William le Keu and Robert 'of the Hall' to alienate property in Mowsley, Fleckney, Laughton, and Knaptoft which they had been granted by Robert son of William de Mowsley and which was then held for life by Ellen de Mowsley. (fn. 49) The property in Laughton consisted of 10 messuages, 10 virgates, and a mill held of the Earl of Oxford to whom payment of 20s. was reserved on the death or cessation of each abbot. (fn. 50) After the Dissolution messuages and lands belonging to 5 tenants, described as the 'manor' of Laughton with appurtenances in Laughton and Mowsley, were granted to Anthony Williams and John Conyers in 1553. (fn. 51)
It appears that some interest in Laughton was allotted in the partition of 1204 to Amice, Countess of Leicester (d. 1215), although it is not included in what survives of an inquisition relating to that partition. (fn. 52) It was subsequently held of the honor of Leicester and the Duchy of Lancaster. The earliest known tenant of this fee was Walter Illing who held 20 virgates there as ¼ knight's fee of the Earl of Leicester in 1279. (fn. 53) The Illing family had been associated with Laughton since the beginning of the 13th century: in 1206 Alan Clerk of Kilworth claimed a virgate there against Richard de Illing. (fn. 54) In 1324 Robert and Richard Illing of Laughton released to Robert son of Walter Doseville all their right in a messuage, 7 virgates, 10 a. of meadow, and 6s. 4d. rent. (fn. 55)
By 1344 Robert de Saddington, Chancellor 1343- 5, (fn. 56) held the greater part of ¼ knight's fee in Laughton of the Duchy of Lancaster (fn. 57) and in the same year received a grant of free warren in his demesne lands there; (fn. 58) in 1346-7 he was said to hold a fraction of a knight's fee in Laughton of the honor of Leicester. (fn. 59) Though he may also have possessed property in Langton, (fn. 60) it is quite likely that this ¼ knight's fee is identical with the one in 'Langhton' which he held of the Duchy in 1330 (fn. 61) and which appears as 'Langeton' in 1361 among the lands of Henry, Duke of Lancaster (d. 1361). (fn. 62) Robert de Saddington died in 1350 leaving as heir Isabel, the wife of Sir Ralph Hastings. Their granddaughter Isabel Heron (d. c. 1438) married Thomas de Hazlerigg (d. 1422) of Eslington (Northumb.). The Saddington inheritance in Laughton evidently descended in the Hazlerigg family as unspecified property there was included in a fine levied in 1516 by Thomas and Robert Hazlerigg, Isabel's great-grandsons, to Sir Richard Sacheverell and others. This property, or part of it, presumably passed with Saddington from Henry Sacheverell to John Bale in 1606 since it is mentioned in a fine levied in 1640 by Edmund Bale to William Wollaston. (fn. 63)
Another part of the Duchy's interest in Laughton was held in 1557 by George Belgrave of Belgrave (fn. 64) who died seised of a 'manor' and other property there, worth 9s. yearly. (fn. 65) The same inquisition cites the settlement made by Belgrave in 1551 of property, including that in Laughton, on his second wife Joan, daughter of Robert Farnham of Quorndon, for life. After Belgrave's death she married secondly Clement Saunders of East Haddon (Northants.) and Blaby, (fn. 66) who died in 1583 seised of 7 virgates in Laughton, then or lately in the tenure of William Ruddington, of which 6 had been held of Thomas Cotton and one of the queen as of the honor of Leicester. The two holdings, which were worth together £4 yearly, were left to his wife Joan for life with remainder to his son and heir William. (fn. 67) Joan was still living in 1597 when she was reported to have 'by herself, her farmers and tenants and the husband she hath married enjoyed most of the said premises' which had been settled on her by her first husband, including those in Laughton. (fn. 68)
It was presumably by an amalgamation of several holdings that the later manor of LAUGHTON was formed. Part of this property was probably derived from the former possessions of Leicester Abbey and of the chantry of Green's Norton. (fn. 69) William Cotton died seised of the manor in 1631, held in chief. It then consisted of 6 messuages, 11 cottages, and 29 virgates in Laughton and Mowsley. (fn. 70) William's son Thomas in 1658 levied a fine of the manor and property in Laughton, Knaptoft, Mowsley, and Lubenham to George Faunt of Foston and Anthony Major. (fn. 71) Probably soon after 1670, Faunt appears to have conveyed the manor to Col. William Cole (d. 1698). The latter's daughter married the Revd. B. Shuttleworth who was succeeded by his son John and his grandson Robert. Robert Shuttleworth in 1776 sold the manor to Lebbeus Humfrey (d. 1790) of Kibworth Beauchamp. (fn. 72) His son the Revd. Lebbeus Charles Humfrey (d. 1833) and his grandson, another L. C. Humfrey (d. 1852), were both lords of the manor. (fn. 73) The last Humfrey was succeeded by Charles Smith who remained lord of the manor until after 1896, (fn. 74) but during the 20th century, until about 1930 when they were thought to have lapsed, the manorial rights belonged to the trustees of the late Mr. Eames. (fn. 75) It appears that Mr. Eames sold the present Manor Farm about 1917. (fn. 76)
There were 3 ploughs in Laughton in the time of King Edward, but in 1086 only 2, one with 2 serfs in demesne held by Walter, and one held by 3 villeins and 2 bordars. Walter held 2 carucates of Robert de Todeni. (fn. 77)
Little has been discovered about agricultural conditions in Laughton during the Middle Ages. In 1524 and 1545 the chief landowner was apparently Giles Norton. (fn. 78) After the Dissolution there were three principal families, Cotton, Saunders, and Ruddington, to which by 1603 might be added the Bryan family. (fn. 79) The manor of Laughton was built up from the property of these families, some of it probably former monastic land. (fn. 80) In 1601 there were three open fields: Coom Field, Nether Field, and Mill Field. (fn. 81) Surviving 17th-century conveyances suggest that the parish contained at least 100 a. of furze and heath, and several acres of woodland. (fn. 82) The ancient inclosures included Watermill Close by the Saddington brook. (fn. 83)
The whole parish was inclosed by agreement in 1663. (fn. 84) The proprietors concerned were George Faunt, lord of the manor, who held 33¾ yardlands, Edward Rawlins, the rector, who held a yardland of glebe, and 18 others who held approximately 14 yardlands between them. Twelve acres in Coom Field were allotted to the poor, and it was agreed that in order to prevent depopulation and to ensure the survival of existing houses of husbandry, 20 a. were to be allotted to each house and 4 a. to each cottage. Faunt received 614½ a. and the remaining 18 farmers 359½ a. between them. (fn. 85) In spite of the provision to preserve houses of husbandry, very little of the parish remained under tillage during the 18th century. In 1798 it was reported that the general and most profitable mode of management was to breed sheep on land which was worth under £1 an acre, and to fatten sheep and bullocks on the land of higher value. (fn. 86) In the 19th and 20th centuries most of the parish has been under pasture, and few people have been engaged in non-agricultural occupations. (fn. 87)
A windmill belonging to the principal manor was mentioned in the conveyance to William Cotton in 1618, and also in the fine levied to George Faunt and Anthony Major in 1658. (fn. 88) In 1265 Geoffrey de Skeffington inherited a windmill in Laughton with his wife's marriage portion. (fn. 89) A windmill was included in the property of Sir William Skeffington in Laughton in 1606, (fn. 90) but was not mentioned in the 1646 survey of Skeffington land. (fn. 91) A mill was also included in the holding of Leicester Abbey. (fn. 92) This may have been the one which had been held earlier by the Cranford family. (fn. 93) There was a Watermill Close in 1663 marking the site of a mill on the Saddington brook. (fn. 94) Old Mill Barn in the Laughton Hills may indicate the site of a windmill.
The annual average expenditure on the poor during the years 1783-5 was only £52, but by 1802-3 the annual expenditure had risen to £307. In the latter year the parish erected a workhouse at a cost of £117, and 20 adults and 10 children were receiving regular outdoor relief. (fn. 95) After 1836 the parish was included in the Market Harborough Union. (fn. 96) The vestry appears to have continued to let certain parish houses, and 12 tenants were paying rent in 1877. (fn. 97)
During the 19th century the annual Easter vestry meeting appears to have elected 2 churchwardens, 2 assessors and collectors of taxes, 2 overseers, 4 constables, and a waywarden. (fn. 98) Churchwardens' accounts survive for the period 1801-1901 and constables' accounts for 1805-35.
Shortly before 1220 Saer de Quency, Earl of Winchester (d. 1219), was patron of the church of Laughton. (fn. 99) The advowson had probably come into his hands in 1206-7 when the honor of Leicester was partitioned: (fn. 100) Robert FitzParnell, Earl of Leicester (d. 1204), had granted the tithe of his demesne in Laughton to the abbey of St. Evroul (Orne) c. 1190-1204. (fn. 101) The abbey was later stated to be taking two parts of the tithes from the demesnes of Thomas Malmeins, Gregory de Forumere, and Geoffrey de Cranford. (fn. 102)
After the death of the Earl of Winchester the advowson of Laughton passed in turn to his widow Margaret (fn. 103) (d. 1234) and his son Roger, Earl of Winchester (d. 1264), (fn. 104) and in the partition of the latter's possessions was allotted to his youngest daughter Ellen (d. 1296), (fn. 105) wife of Alan la Zouche (d. 1270). Their grandson Alan la Zouche (d. 1314), (fn. 106) left three daughters and co-heirs (fn. 107) of whom the second, Maud, brought the advowson to her husband Robert de Holand (d. 1328). (fn. 108) The Crown made the next presentation after Maud de Holand's death in 1349, claiming the custody of her lands and heir, (fn. 109) Robert de Holand (d. 1373). The latter was succeeded by his granddaughter Maud (d. 1423), the wife of John Lovel, Lord Lovel (d. 1408), (fn. 110) and the advowson subsequently descended in the Lovel family (fn. 111) until their interest lapsed with the attainder of Francis, Viscount Lovel, in 1485. (fn. 112)
After the Reformation the ownership of the advowson was associated with the demesne tenants of the manor. Thomas Cotton presented the Revd. Thomas Cotton in 1588, and although Drugo Lucas made the next presentation in 1618, another Thomas Cotton presented Thomas Hill in 1638. (fn. 113) The advowson passed from the Cottons to George Faunt (d. 1697) of Foston and from him to William Cole (d. 1698). (fn. 114) The latter's daughter married the Revd. B. Shuttleworth who presented himself to the living in 1742. (fn. 115) Shuttleworth's grandson Robert sold the manor and advowson in 1776 to Lebbeus Humfrey of Kibworth. (fn. 116) It is not known how the advowson was transferred to the Revd. A. Matthews, Rector of the adjoining parish of Gumley, who presented J. B. Fawssett in 1876. (fn. 117) In 1889 he presented his son A. H. J. Matthews, who was the last to enjoy the independent rectory before its union in 1928 with the rectory of Knaptoft with Mowsley to form a new benefice, Mowsley with Laughton and Knaptoft. (fn. 118) The patronage of the united benefice was shared by the former incumbents, A. H. J. Matthews and D. A. G. Taylor, the latter being also the first incumbent of the new living. (fn. 119) Mrs. A. H. J. Matthews presented to the living in 1933, but at the next vacancy in 1945 Mr. D. A. G. Taylor was unable to make a presentation, (fn. 120) and the advowson fell to the Diocesan Board of Patronage. (fn. 121)
The rectory was valued at £5 in 1254, (fn. 122) and £6 in 1291. (fn. 123) The gross annual value in 1535 was £11 1s. 4d. (fn. 124) Some of the rectorial tithes were commuted under the agreement made in 1663 for inclosing the open fields of the parish. By an agreement made with the rector in 1665 (fn. 125) the lord of the manor was allowed to hold his lands tithe-free, and the former in compensation for loss of tithes was allotted 56½ a. in Coom Field and 3½ a. in Mill Field, as well as 21 a. in Mill Field in lieu of glebe. These allotments were equal to the current value (£60 a year) of the ancient glebe and tithes. In addition the rector was to receive payments amounting to £22 19s. charged on the other allotments, including the Poor's Land, at the rate of 1s. 3d. an acre. (fn. 126) By Act of Parliament for discharging the manor of Laughton and other lands in the parish from the payment of tithes, (fn. 127) the rector in 1778 received another allotment of 21 a. (fn. 128) In the 19th century the glebe therefore consisted of 98½ a. (fn. 129) In 1798 the rectory was valued at nearly £130, out of which the rector allowed £30 for his curate, (fn. 130) and in 1831 it was valued at £247. (fn. 131) By the tithe apportionment of 1839 the rector received rentcharges worth £108 a year in lieu of the tithes payable from 383 a.; this was land not belonging to the manor either in 1663 or 1778 and the tithes on which had not been discharged. (fn. 132)
The two-thirds share of the tithes from certain demesne lands in Laughton which in the early 13th century belonged to the abbey of St. Evroul (fn. 133) was subsequently taken by the abbey's cell at Ware. (fn. 134) It was commuted for a sum of money paid by the Rector of Laughton to Ware Priory; (fn. 135) the priory's portion out of the rectory was stated to be 16s. in 1291. (fn. 136) At some unknown date (fn. 137) and at a time when St. Evroul's possessions were in the king's hands, tithes in Laughton were apparently held by Leicester Abbey. (fn. 138) In 1415 Ware and its possessions were granted to Sheen Priory, (fn. 139) and at the Dissolution 2s. 6d. was being paid to Sheen for the tithes due from Laughton. (fn. 140)
The former rectory house at Laughton was built in 1818 for the Revd. L. C. Humfrey (d. 1833). (fn. 141) It is a two-storied stucco house with a hipped slate roof and with the ground-floor front windows set in round-arched recesses on each side of a Doric portico. On the north side a service wing including the kitchen may belong to a pre-1818 house. It was sold in 1927 when the benefice was united with Knaptoft and Mowsley, (fn. 142) and since then the incumbent has always lived at Mowsley Rectory. (fn. 143)
It was found that Thomas Cotton, the rector in 1607, did not read the morning or evening service further than the second lesson and did not wear a surplice. (fn. 144) His successor Thomas Hill was ejected from the living in 1647 and replaced by Richard Muston. (fn. 145) The benefice was sequestrated in 1662 when the latter refused to subscribe. (fn. 146)
The church of ST. LUKE consists of chancel, aisleless nave, bell-cote, south porch, and vestry, and is built of cobble walling and ironstone. There are some features of the 13th century and later medieval date in spite of the extensive rebuilding which took place in the 18th and 19th centuries and which included the demolition of former north and south aisles. The nave in part is of the early 13th century. Its west wall, built of cobbles, has an external projection below the bell-cote and this is pierced by a narrow lancet window with a roundheaded rear arch. The north nave wall has, externally, a blocked pointed piscina, which presumably served an altar in the former north aisle. The nave arcades, now incorporated in the north and south walls, are each of three bays and have pointed chamfered arches with a low springing line. A well-preserved capital survives at the west respond of the north arcade. Differences in the treatment of the hoodmoulds at this end of the arcades suggest that their building may not be of exactly the same date. A clerestory, later removed, was added to the nave, probably in the 15th century.
Before the 19th-century restoration the chancel had cobble walling, a priests' door with a large fourcentred arch, and a two-light Perpendicular window. (fn. 147) In spite of extensive rebuilding the chancel retains ancient triple-moulded jambs to the east window and a medieval piscina and sedilia.
The aisles were removed about 1780 and the arcades built up to form external walls. (fn. 148) The windows inserted at this time had leaded casements in square frames. Large brick buttresses were built on either side of the southern door and these supported a pentice roof which formed a porch. The flat-pitched roof of the church was slated, as was the brick bell-cote. (fn. 149)
A general restoration was undertaken in 1879-80 at a cost of £1,400 under the direction of Charles Kirk of Sleaford (Lincs.). (fn. 150) A new chancel was built, incorporating some earlier features, and a north vestry was added. The nave was re-roofed, new paired lancet windows were inserted, and a south door was provided; the bell-cote was also rebuilt. It was presumably at this time that the clerestory was removed: it had still existed in 1798. (fn. 151) The stained glass window at the west end of the nave was presented by the contractor who carried out the restoration. (fn. 152)
The communion table and altar rails are believed to date from 1761, (fn. 153) but the remaining furniture was mostly installed during the restoration of 1880. In 1798 the church was described as 'newly pewed and seated with deal', (fn. 154) and W. C. Humfrey, rector 1833-74, constructed a gallery across the west end of the nave in 1850 and refurnished the interior in 1859. (fn. 155) In 1880, however, the gallery was removed and new pewing introduced; the pulpit and font were also removed, and although a new font was installed in the same year the pulpit has never been replaced. Part of the old pewing and the original font could still be seen, at Killock Farm, in 1958, the former in the barn and the latter in the garden. By 1961 the old font was in the church, though not in use; it is octagonal with roll mouldings at each angle and rests on an inverted capital of the late 13th century, serving as a base. The lectern was designed, made, and given by A. H. J. Matthews, rector 1889- 1927. The organ was installed in 1920. (fn. 156) There are memorial tablets to Col. William Cole (d. 1698) and four former rectors: Barton Shuttleworth (d. 1754), William Major (d. 1774), Lebbeus Charles Humfrey (d. 1833), and William Cave Humfrey (d. 1874).
The churchyard wall on the north and west sides is of mud with a slate capping. The gates date from 1945. There is one bell: 1777, by Edward Arnold of St. Neots. (fn. 157) The plate includes a silver cup dated 1781 and a paten dated 1880; a pewter set may date from the early 18th century. (fn. 158) The registers begin in 1754 and are substantially complete.
Although no conventicle was reported in Laughton in 1669, (fn. 159) there were 2 nonconformists in 1676 (fn. 160) and 2 others in 1705-16. (fn. 161) Samuel Beasley's house was licensed as a meetingplace in 1720, (fn. 162) and Thomas Wilson's in 1787. (fn. 163) It seems probable that there were two separate sects in the early 19th century. Elizabeth Taylor licensed her house in Laughton as a meeting-place for dissenters in 1825, and William Wood his house in 1826. The latter was a Methodist. (fn. 164) The Wesleyan chapel, erected in 1859, (fn. 165) an extension on the south side of Home Farm on the west side of the main street, was apparently not used after 1879 when it was converted into a private dwelling-house. (fn. 166) This date and the owner's initials, T.T.P. (Thomas Tertius Paget), could be seen in 1958 on a plaque in the east wall of the building.
There was a schoolmaster in Laughton in 1634. (fn. 167) By 1819 a Sunday school was already in existence; (fn. 168) in 1833 it contained 22 children. (fn. 169) It is not certain whether the private school containing 12 boys and 14 girls which was reported in 1871 (fn. 170) was in fact Laughton National School or another independent institution.
The National school was erected in 1852-3 with donations from Mrs. Mary Anne Humfrey (d. 1869), the second wife of the rector, W. C. Humfrey, and others. (fn. 171) In 1862 it was reported that over £19, the annual income from the rents of the Poor's Land, was being applied to the maintenance of this school. (fn. 172) The Laughton charity trustees were apparently school managers and appointed the mistress. (fn. 173) A Charity Commissioners' Scheme of 1891 which regulated the Poor's Land charity still allowed part of its income to be applied in school prizes and in bursaries to encourage children to stay at school. (fn. 174) Mrs. Humfrey, by will dated 1856 and proved in 1874, also bequeathed £200 to be invested for the benefit of the school. Religious instruction was to be on strictly Church of England lines. (fn. 175) In 1894 there were 13 children in attendance, but shortly before 1900 the school was closed for lack of pupils. (fn. 176) Arrangements were made to send the remaining children to Mowsley, and the trustees of Mrs. Humfrey's bequest paid their annual income of £5 17s. to the Mowsley school managers. (fn. 177) The former school building has been acquired since the Second World War by Laughton parish meeting as a village hall. (fn. 178) It is built of brick with stone dressings in the 'Tudor' style and is surmounted by a lead cupola and a chimney stack with diagonal shafts.
The origin of the Poor's Land charity was apparently an allotment made at the time of the inclosure in 1663. (fn. 179) The earliest surviving reference to it is in a deed enfeoffing new trustees in 1777. The property of the charity in 1837 consisted of a close of pasture land containing 12 a. of which 2 a. had been broken up into gardens. It was then shared between 5 labourers, each pasturing one cow, and 16 labourers, each with an allotment garden, and their rents yielded an annual income of £9 17s. 4d. which was applied with the poor rate to general parish purposes. (fn. 180) After 1852 the charity was apparently used to support the village school (see above). In 1862-3 the property included a cottage and garden as well as 12 a. of land, and yielded £19 12s. a year. (fn. 181)
Probably in the mid-17th century, (fn. 182) Thomas Hefford and William Cave each gave £3 to the poor of Laughton. Until the early 19th century the capital was held by a local farmer who gave 6s. interest to the vestry each year, which was divided between 6 poor persons. (fn. 183) It was afterwards deposited in a savings bank and in 1862-3 yielded only 3s. 6d. (fn. 184)
All the Laughton charities were regulated by a Charity Commissioners' Scheme of 1916 which replaced an earlier Scheme of 1893. By its provisions, the trustees are entitled to make subscriptions to hospitals, friendly societies, a village reading room, society or club, to provide nurses and proper care for the sick, to buy clothes or fuel, and to give temporary relief in money to the poor. (fn. 185) In 1956 they gave away 3 vouchers for food and provisions which were worth £3 each. (fn. 186)