A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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The parish of Shangton is situated ten miles southeast of Leicester and six miles north of Market Harborough. Hardwick formed part of the parish and probably lay in the area north of the Gartree road and east of the road from Melton Mowbray to Market Harborough. (fn. 1) The area of the parish is 1,268 a.
The village lies in a valley at the foot of a spur formed by two streams which meet south-east of the village to flow into a tributary of the Welland. Shangton, from Old English scanca, a shank or leg, derives its name from this spur. (fn. 2) The land rises from 300 ft. in the south-east to 500 ft. in the northwest. The ground is hilly and the soil mostly clay, but there is some gravel and several gravel pits were worked in the late 19th century. The land is chiefly under pasture.
The parish is crossed by the road running north to south from Melton Mowbray to Market Harborough, and by the Gartree road, which in 1961 was only a rough track to the south-east of its intersection with the Melton Mowbray road. Near the point of intersection is the former meeting-place of the hundred of Gartree. (fn. 3) The Gartree road crosses a bridge over the tributary of the Welland into Stonton Wyville parish. Shangton village itself lies at the junction of two minor roads which form a triangle on the west side of the Melton Mowbray road. Other secondary roads form parts of the southern and northern parish boundaries. The parish boundary is formed by the tributary of the Welland in the south-east and a minor stream in the north-east.
The former manor-house was pulled down in 1836 and a farm-house was built on the site in 1837 by Sir Justinian Isham. (fn. 4) The present house, known as the Old Hall, is of two stories and is built of ironstone ashlar with limestone dressings and a slate roof. Materials from the former house, including the 17th-century windows, have been re-used and one fire-place incorporates ovolo-moulded mullions. Remains of the old forecourt walls and a 17th-century stone gateway are still standing, the latter consisting of a semi-circular arch with a large keystone. Some fragments of masonry, stacked nearby, include crocketted pinnacles and a stone inscribed 'S.I. [sham] 1669'. To the north-east of the house near the stream is what appears to be part of a moated area, perhaps of medieval origin. The road leading south from the village to join the road from Market Harborough to Melton Mowbray was evidently the main approach to the former hall. At its southern end it consists of a broad avenue of ancient wych elms but further north it has been diverted to the west of the hall grounds. An overgrown length of the old drive with a large levelled area beside it are still visible to the south of the stone archway. The 19th-century farm buildings stand north of the hall; one barn is dated 1854 with the initials C.E.I.
The church and former Rectory are on the west side of the southern approach road. The Rectory, now known as the Manor House, was built in 1841 (fn. 5) and is a large brick house, irregular in plan, with a slate roof and widely projecting eaves. The road forming the north side of the triangle referred to above is continued westwards as a short cul-de-sac, on which stand the few cottages which constitute the village. They are mostly of red and blue brick and were built or reconstructed in the middle of the 19th century. An altered row of older ironstone cottages bears a tablet of 1869 with the initials C.E.I. Another pair is dated 1857. A cottage on the north side of the road was used as a school in the late 19th century. The outlying farms in the north of the parish, including Shangton Grange and Shangton Lodge, are of 19th-century date.
Shangton has always been a small village. There were 13 inhabitants recorded in 1086. (fn. 6) By 1377 there were 73 taxpayers, (fn. 7) but fewer than 10 households in 1428. (fn. 8) There were 17 households in 1563 and 69 communicants in 1603, but the population again declined: There were 11 households in 1670 and 26 communicants in 1676. (fn. 9) There were only 7 families in the early 18th century, (fn. 10) and 7 houses in 1879. (fn. 11) The population in 1801 was 34. Apart from a slight decline in the 1820's and 1830's there was a steady rise to the maximum, 101, in 1871. In the 20th century the population has fluctuated between 42 and 58; in 1951 it was 46. (fn. 12) There is no evidence that there was ever a village of Hardwick, and only Shangton Grange now stands in that part of the parish.
Shangton may have formed part of a bequest to Burton Abbey (Staffs.) in 1002–4, but there is no evidence that the abbey ever received this land. (fn. 13) In 1086 there were three holdings in Shangton, those of the king, who held land belonging to the soke of Great Bowden, Robert de Vescy, and Hugh de Grentemesnil. (fn. 14) The king's holding may have been in Hardwick (see below). Robert de Vescy's holding was held by Ansketil in 1130, (fn. 15) but no more is known of it. Hugh de Grentemesnil's was the largest holding, 4 out of 8 carucates, and it was held from him by Hugh de Widville, his tenant also at Stonton Wyville. (fn. 16) The overlordship descended to the earls of Leicester in the 12th century, (fn. 17) and subsequently to the earls of Leicester and Lancaster, and the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 18) The manor remained attached to the manor of Stonton Wyville, and was held from its lords until at least 1523. (fn. 19) It seems possible that the overlordship may have been divided in the 13th century and that part descended, like other land of the earls of Leicester in the hundred, (fn. 20) to the la Zouche, Holand, and Lovel families. (fn. 21)
According to Nichols the manor came into the possession of the family of Lestrange of Cheswardine and Great Ness (Salop.) in the reign of Henry II. (fn. 22) The earliest documentary evidence shows that SHANGTON was in the possession of John Lestrange II (fl. 1197–1234), and that he held ¾ knight's fee there by 1206. (fn. 23) John Lestrange II married Amice la Fusche, (fn. 24) and she, after her husband's death, granted all her land in Shangton to her son William. William must have been born shortly before his father's death, (fn. 25) as he was apparently only just of age in 1253. (fn. 26) Presumably after that date he purchased land in Hardwick and Great Glen; the transaction was witnessed by John Lestrange III (d. before March 1269), John Lestrange IV, and his brother Hamon. (fn. 27) William I was probably still holding Shangton in 1279, from John Lestrange IV; (fn. 28) he died after April 1296. (fn. 29) In 1304 William II granted all his arable land in Shangton and Hardwick for a year to John de Wileby or Willoughby, who had married his daughter Joan. (fn. 30) The conditions of this grant were that John should cultivate the ground and have the labour of William's bondmen, together with the small grange, and should make over to William half the profits of Shangton and a third of the profits of Hardwick. (fn. 31) About the same time he granted to John and Joan the share of his lands in Shangton and Hardwick which he had previously granted to his daughter Hilary, and which he had received back at her death. (fn. 32) These transactions are further complicated by another deed by which John and Joan de Wileby granted back to William the capital messuage of Shangton, with the windmill and other profits, to hold for life with reversion to the heirs of John and Joan. (fn. 33) William Lestrange II was probably dead before 1313 when John de Wileby held 1/9 knight's fee in Shangton and Hardwick. (fn. 34) In 1315 he settled the estate upon his son Robert and Robert's wife Emma. (fn. 35) He was dead before 1327 and perhaps before 1324. (fn. 36)
In 1360 Robert, son of Robert de Wileby, granted to Thomas Drakelowe and Elizabeth his wife all his lands in Shangton and Hardwick for the life of their son Thomas, (fn. 37) who had probably married an Alice Willoughby, perhaps Robert's daughter. (fn. 38) In 1366 Thomas Drakelowe is referred to as lord of Shangton. (fn. 39) The manor passed, again apparently through a woman, to Thomas and Eleanor Chaumbre, who received the manor by a complicated series of transactions in 1428. (fn. 40) Thomas Chaumbre was still lord of the manor in 1444 when he manumitted a villein, (fn. 41) but by 1452 the manor had probably passed to Sir William Vaux of Harrowden (Northants.). (fn. 42) Vaux forfeited the estate with his other possessions in 1461, and in 1464 it was granted to Ralph Hastings. (fn. 43) After 1485 it was restored to Nicholas, 1st Baron Vaux, (fn. 44) who died in 1523, seised of the manor which was still then held of the manor of Stonton Wyville. (fn. 45) In 1557 Nicholas's grandson sold the manors of Shangton and Hardwick to John and Dorothy Wyrley. (fn. 46) In 1560 Wyrley sold the estate to Francis Saunders, lord of the manor of Welford. (fn. 47) The sale was confirmed by the Vaux family in 1562. (fn. 48) The Saunders family held it until 1637, when Sir John Isham of Lamport (Northants.) purchased Shangton for £12,225. Francis Saunders, who sold it, was in great financial difficulties at the time, and it was provided that if Isham was unable to purchase the manor he should accept a mortgage of it and should lend Saunders £6,000. (fn. 49) The manor remained in the possession of the Isham family until 1920. The whole estate of 910 a. was then sold for £22,500. (fn. 50)
The manor of HARDWICK may have been represented in the Domesday Survey by the 2 carucates of royal demesne belonging to the soke of Great Bowden. (fn. 51) By the end of the 12th century the manor seems to have been in the possession of an Agnes, wife of William de Raunson, and then of William and Agnabilla de Neville. (fn. 52) It came into the possession of the Willoughbys of Shangton and descended in exactly the same way as Shangton until its sale to Mary, Countess of Buckingham, before 1632. (fn. 53) Subsequently it was apparently forfeit to the Crown, and was granted to Sir Thomas Hazlerigg in 1663. (fn. 54) By the middle of the 17th century it had been sold to the Palmer family of Carlton Curlieu (fn. 55) who still owned it in 1958. The area of the estate in the mid-19th century was 311 a. (fn. 56) By 1932 Sir Geoffrey F. N. Palmer, Bt., was the chief landowner in the parish. (fn. 57)
Hugh de Grentemesnil's fee in Shangton comprised half the 8 carucates of which Shangton consisted in 1086. There was sufficient land to support 3 ploughs and Hugh de Widville had 2 with a serf on his demesne. Four villeins, 4 bordars, and 2 socmen had a further plough and a half. The value of this holding was 40s. compared with 10s. before the Conquest. Robert de Vescy's under-tenant was called Geoffrey and his holding consisted of 2 carucates, held in demesne with 2 serfs. The royal land was also 2 carucates. (fn. 58) Hugh de Grentemesnil's heir was the Earl of Leicester who in 1124–9 was said to hold 10 carucates in Shangton, and Ansketil, who had inherited Robert de Vescy's lands, held 2 carucates. (fn. 59) By 1279 the Lestrange family were holding 8 carucates in Shangton. William Lestrange held 3 in demesne and 3 in villeinage, and 2 were held by free tenants, among whom was Henry de Hardwick. (fn. 60) There was a windmill at Shangton in the 13th century. (fn. 61)
Little is known of the manor for the rest of the Middle Ages. The decrease in the population of Shangton in the 17th century (fn. 62) may be ascribed to the inclosure which began before the sale of the manor to the Ishams in 1637. In 1639 Francis Saunders was fined £160 for 'depopulation and conversion of houses and lands' in Shangton. (fn. 63) The glebe lands recorded in the terrier of 1679 were stated to have been allotted when Shangton 'was inclosed and settled by a decree in Chancery'. (fn. 64) The names of two open fields are known—Beck Field, which probably lay south of the village, (fn. 65) and Middle Field. (fn. 66)
From inclosure until the present day pasture has heavily predominated in Shangton. In 1801 there were only 17 a. under wheat, 10 a. under barley, and 10 a. under oats. (fn. 67) In 1842 there were 130 a. of arable land, compared with 1,043 a. of meadow and pasture and 40 a. of woodland. (fn. 68) There have been 6 or fewer farmers and graziers throughout the 19th (fn. 69) and 20th (fn. 70) centuries, and little non-agricultural employment.
The manor of Hardwick was apparently given over to pasture at an early date. In 1378 Ralph de Hastings complained that 300 sheep had been stolen from his land in Hardwick. (fn. 71) In 1404 the king granted to William Sampson, one of the grooms of the chandlery, pastures at Hardwick and elsewhere. (fn. 72) By 1464 the whole lordship was probably inclosed: the king then granted it to Ralph Hastings, (fn. 73) and it was described as Hardwick Close in the parish of Shangton, containing 300 a.—the same area as in 1846. (fn. 74) It seems to have been divided into two main closes called Upper and Nether Hardwick, with some smaller areas, like Ash Close and Mare Pens. (fn. 75)
There was a workhouse in Shangton in 1776. (fn. 76) In 1802–3 all relief was given outside the workhouse, 7 adults and 6 children being relieved regularly. (fn. 77) Shangton was placed in Market Harborough Union in 1836. (fn. 78)
About 1220 the church at Shangton belonged to Lilleshull Priory (Salop.). (fn. 79) It may have been granted to the priory by a member of the Lestrange family, lords of the manor of Shangton, who gave Lilleshull much property in Shropshire. (fn. 80) The rectory was never appropriated to the priory. It is not certain whether the prior continued to make presentations to the living in the early 15th century, but in 1461 the advowson formed part of the property confiscated from Sir William Vaux of Harrowden (Northants.) who was lord of the manor of Shangton. (fn. 81) Thereafter the advowson apparently descended with the manor to the Saunders and Isham families. (fn. 82) After 1918 the advowson was acquired by the Martyrs' Memorial and Church of England Trust. The living was united with the rectory of Carlton Curlieu in 1940, (fn. 83) and in 1958 the patrons of the united benefice were the Martyrs' Memorial and Church of England Trust and Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Bt., former patron of Carlton Curlieu, who made presentations alternately. (fn. 84) The rector then lived at Carlton Curlieu.
The rectory was valued at 1 mark in 1217, 3 marks in 1254, and 8 marks in 1291. (fn. 85) The annual value of the rectory in 1535 was £11, (fn. 86) and in 1650, after inclosure, £50. (fn. 87) Early in the 13th century the monks of St. Evroul (Orne) were receiving 2/3 of certain great tithes in Shangton. (fn. 88) The payment of tithes was apparently regulated by the Chancery decree which settled the inclosure soon after 1638. In 1700 Sir Justinian Isham was paying £40 in lieu of tithes. (fn. 89) The rectory was valued at £360 a year in 1831. (fn. 90) The tithes were commuted in 1842 for £326 6s. 4d. payable to the rector, virtually all by the lord of the manor. (fn. 91) There were 29 a. of glebe in 1846. (fn. 92)
Charles Markham (d. 1802), rector in the late 18th century, was also Rector of Church Langton from 1778 to 1782. (fn. 93) While the Isham family were patrons of the living, several members of the family were rectors. Robert Isham (1805–90), who described the previous parsonage as 'a bad cottage', built the existing house in 1841, largely at his own expense but with £900 towards the cost from Sir Justinian Isham (d. 1845). (fn. 94) His cousin Maxwell Henry Close was rector from 1848 to 1857 and two of his sons-in-law were also rectors—Henry Vere Packe from 1857 to 1891 and Henry Isham Longden from 1891 to 1898. (fn. 95) The latter was the author of Northamptonshire and Rutland Clergy (1938–43).
The church of ST. NICHOLAS is a small structure of ironstone and some limestone, and consists of chancel, north vestry, nave with west bell turret, and south porch.
The north wall of the nave still has a short length of a chamfered string course externally above the north door and is probably part of a 13th-century or earlier church. The chancel was rebuilt early in the 14th century. Both the east window and another in the south wall have rear arches decorated with ballflower ornament. The east window has been restored but the side window is well preserved, having two cusped lights with an encircled trefoil in its head under a pointed arch. The sill internally has an elaborate foliated band of ornament which may have been part of a piscina. On each side of the east window are two sections of a quatrefoil frieze that have been reset to serve as a reredos. In the south wall of the chancel is a small locker, and nearby a square-headed window with cusped lights and sunk chamfered jambs was inserted into an earlier opening c. 1340. The south porch, a mixture of ironstone and limestone patching, is an addition of the late 14th century. The nave windows are all Perpendicular in style with cusped lights under square heads and range in date from the late 14th century to c. 1500.
Internally the chancel arch was rebuilt c. 1400 and has narrow semi-octagonal shafts and moulded capitals. Corbels set high up at the east end of the nave probably supported a Lenten Veil. Part of a traceried screen of 15th-century date, which probably divided the nave from the chancel, is now lying in the vestry.
Late in the 15th century the nave walls were heightened and a roof of flatter pitch constructed, from which carved wooden bosses have survived; these are now lying in the nave. It is probable that the west end of the church was partly rebuilt at this period: the present height of the bell turret is compatible with such a roof, and the angle buttresses and plinth, together with the west window, are of similar date. The bell turret has two openings containing bells, one of which is in use.
The archdeacons' reports on the fabric in the 17th and 18th centuries noted the damage caused by damp resulting from the lack of proper drainage. (fn. 96) Extensive repairs carried out in 1838 included new drains, and the belfry was cramped with iron bands. (fn. 97) Two major structural alterations took place in the late 19th century. In 1863 the east end of the chancel was pulled down and rebuilt, although the new east window by Heaton & Butler in memory of Mrs. Pain was not inserted until 1877. (fn. 98) The present vestry and organ chamber were added to the north side of the chancel in 1874. (fn. 99) An organ had been put up by Bevingtons' of London in 1849. Either this or another organ by the same firm was brought into use in 1867. (fn. 100) A partly-obscured 19th-century date tablet with the initials J.L.C.W. above the openings in the bell turret probably refers to repair work at this end of the nave. Repairs to the roof were carried out in 1920 and the whole church was repaired in 1925. (fn. 101)
The font probably dates from the late 14th century; it is octagonal, of grey limestone, and has a low moulded base. The wooden cover is Victorian and incorporates an early roof boss. The old pews were removed and the nave furnished with open sittings in 1845 under the direction of Henry Goddard of Leicester. A new floor and a new door were also added. The cost was borne by a special parish rate and £20 from Sir Justinian Isham (d. 1845). The chancel was similarly refurnished by the rector at his own expense in 1851 when the piscina was uncovered. Some late-15th-century traceried panels were incorporated in a new screen. The pulpit and reading desk were added in 1863. A new altar and furnishings were bought in 1878 to replace the communion table installed in 1842. (fn. 102)
The only memorial of note is a mural tablet on the south side of the chancel with strapwork ornament and flanking columns; it was erected by Matthew Saunders in 1612 in memory of his wife Margaret (d. 1605). The grave slabs of both Matthew (d. 1625) and his wife are immediately west of the altar. A slab against the font is to Joseph Chamber (d. 1726) and a tablet in the chancel is in memory of the Revd. Henry Vere Packe (d. 1903). The Revd. Walter Allicock (d. 1757) is also commemorated.
There was one Anabaptist in Shangton in the early 18th century, (fn. 105) but there is no further evidence of nonconformity and there has never been a chapel.
In 1835 it was reported that there was no school in Shangton. (fn. 106) From 1884 (fn. 107) until 1897 (fn. 108) there was a Church school supported by parliamentary grants. In 1894 it was described as mixed (fn. 109) and the average attendance ranged from 18 in 1890– 2 (fn. 110) to 7 in 1896–7. (fn. 111) The school had presumably closed by 1900 when Shangton children attended school in Church Langton. (fn. 112) The school was situated to the north of the cul-de-sac road in the village. (fn. 113)