A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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Slawston lies eighteen miles south-east of Leicester, on the southern edge of the hills overlooking the valley of the Welland and adjoining the county boundary with Northamptonshire. The parish includes the deserted hamlet of Othorpe, formerly a chapelry of Slawston, and has a total area of 1,501 a.
The parish occupies a promontory of higher ground jutting south-eastwards towards the Welland and bounded on north-east and south-west by two small tributaries. The village lies at over 300 ft. and Slawston Hill (sometimes known as Mill, Barrow, or Burrough Hill) (fn. 1) exceeds 400 ft. Near the parish boundary with Medbourne is Port Hill. The promontory is joined by a narrow neck to the hills themselves and there, forming the north-west corner of the parish, was Othorpe. The ground here rises to over 500 ft. Much of the south of the parish is below 250 ft. and the low-lying ground adjoining the Welland is liable to flooding. The soil is a stiff clay, overlying limestone which was quarried in the 18th century; on Slawston Hill the soil was then described as fine and red. (fn. 2)
Streams form much of the parish boundary on north-east and south-west, and for less than half a mile the parish abuts on the Welland. Elsewhere the boundary follows field boundaries and, on the east, a minor road. A small piece of land on the north of the Welland lies in the parish of Weston by Welland (Northants.), on the opposite bank. It is said to have been given by the owners of Slawston on condition that those of Weston should build and repair the bridge over the river at this point. (fn. 3)
Slawston is 1½ mile north-west of the road from Uppingham to Market Harborough at Medbourne, and only minor roads enter the parish. The Hallaton to Kibworth Harcourt road crosses Slawston in the north-west, dividing Othorpe from the rest of the parish. A branch from this road is one of four minor roads converging on Slawston village: the others are from Blaston to the north-east, Welham to the southwest, and Medbourne to the south-east; the line of the Welham road continues beyond the village as a footpath to Hallaton. The Blaston and Medbourne roads are crossed by another leading from Hallaton to the bridge over the Welland. The Gartree road crosses Slawston but its course has been marked only by a footpath in the 20th century. The railway line from Melton Mowbray to Market Harborough crosses the parish in the south-east, in a cutting near Port Hill and on an embankment and a viaduct as it approaches the Welland.
Most of the houses in Slawston lie along the village street, stretching east and west for about a quarter of a mile. The base of an ancient cross stood there in the late 18th century. (fn. 4) The church stands at the east end of the village on the road to Blaston. Hall Close nearby may indicate the site of a former manorhouse. The nonconformist chapel formerly stood on the north side of the street, and on its south side in the 19th century were a smithy and the Blue Lion Inn. There appear to be no buildings in the village dating from before the 17th century. The post office on the north side of the street is a typical example of this period, having a lower story of ironstone rubble with half-attics above. The building is of three bays with a cross passage and a wide hearth; earlier timbers are re-used in the roof. Several other cottages incorporate 17th-century work and Mill Farm also appears to be an ancient building but with no datable features. Valley Farm is a late-17th-century redbrick building and Rosslyn House, built of red brick with vitrified headers, is of the mid-18th century. Both were formerly thatched. Nineteenth-century houses include Ivy House (c. 1820), the stone-built Manor House of rather later date, and Slawston Grange, built in 1894 by a member of the PriceDent family. (fn. 5) The Black Horse Inn has a date tablet of 1867. The corrugated-iron village hall was erected in 1920–1 and there are four post-1945 Council houses at the east end of the village. Mud-walled cottages adjoining the post office were demolished c. 1955 and the only mud walling now to be found is in outhouses and boundary walls.
Only Othorpe House remains at the site of the deserted hamlet: it is built of stone in the Tudor style of c. 1840 and its farm buildings are of the same date. Traces of former houses have been found on the site. (fn. 6)
Fewer inhabitants were recorded at Slawston than at Othorpe in 1086: 8 compared with fourteen. No later figures are available for Othorpe alone. There were 138 poll tax payers at Slawston in 1377, and 21 households in 1563. In 1603 there were 129 communicants, and in 1676 146. (fn. 7) There were 40 households in 1670, (fn. 8) and 43 in the early 18th century. (fn. 9) The population was 266 in 1801; after falling to 203 in 1811, it rose slowly to a maximum of 281 in 1851. It thereafter gradually fell to 121 in 1931 and was 124 in 1951. (fn. 10)
In 1086 two tenants named Godwin and Frane held 2½ carucates from Robert de Buci in Slawston, and another virgate of waste was held by Ingeld. (fn. 11) This holding descended by c. 1130 to Richard Basset, who had inherited much of de Buci's Leicestershire lands, and was then assessed as 3 carucates. (fn. 12) In 1242–3 Hugh de Nevill held ¼ knight's fee in Slawston from Robert de Tatershall who held from Ralph Basset of Weldon. (fn. 13) By 1279 there were said to be 7½ carucates in Slawston, but 1½ of these belonged to the honor of Belvoir (see below) and 3½ may be identified as being in Othorpe. The remaining 2½ carucates were held by John de Nevill from William Maureward, who held from Robert de Tatershall, who in turn held from Ralph Basset of Weldon was tenant-in-chief of 1/5 knight's fee. (fn. 14) In 1302 Robert de Tatershall died possessed of 1/5 knight's fee in Slawston held by William Maureward, (fn. 15) and on the death of his son Robert in 1308 it was said that this land was to form part of the share of John and Isabel de Orby. (fn. 16) Nothing further is known of this interest in Slawston, which died out in the course of the 14th century.
The Nevill family continued as tenants in demesne only until the end of the 13th century or the beginning of the 14th. In 1346 the tenant of the manor may have been Roger Pickering the younger who was assessed to an aid on 1/6 knight's fee in Slawston, part of the Bassets' lands. (fn. 17) The Boyville family obtained the manor by the 15th century, and had held property in the parish since at least 1240. (fn. 18) After the death of John Boyville in 1467 his lands were divided among his three daughters or their heirs. John's widow Eleanor retained a life interest in the manor of SLAWSTON (fn. 19) and it passed before 1477 to Edmund Cokeyn, the son of her daughter Elizabeth. (fn. 20) In 1496 William Bret died seised of 2 messuages and land in Slawston held from John Cokeyn, probably Edmund's son. (fn. 21) It is not definitely known when the Brudenell family obtained the manor of Slawston. Sir Robert Brudenell purchased land there in 1515, (fn. 22) and the manor had passed into the possession of the family before the death of Robert's son Thomas in 1549. (fn. 23) Thereafter it descended in the family, and in 1956 was the property of Mr. George Brudenell of Deene (Northants.).
In 1086 Robert de Buci held 2½ carucates in Othorpe from the Countess Judith. (fn. 24) The 2½ carucates said to belong to David, King of Scotland, in Slawston in 1130 (fn. 25) were almost certainly those in Othorpe, having passed from the countess to her grandson. Thereafter the manorial descent is confused and Othorpe is inextricably associated with Slawston. In 1279 the overlordship of Othorpe, which may be identified as the 3½ carucates of land described under Slawston, had passed from David to his daughter Dervorguilla, wife of John de Balliol, who was one of the heirs of her brother John the Scot, Earl of Chester and of Huntingdon. From her, Ralph Basset, William son of Thomas, Ralph Bretun, and other free tenants held their lands. (fn. 26) The Boyville family had interests in Othorpe from about 1300, (fn. 27) and a family called Chamberlain were probably the most important landowners there in the 14th century. (fn. 28) It seems likely that they were the lords of the manor for in 1343 Ralph Chamberlain held ⅓ knight's fee in Rearsby, Othorpe, and Illston from Ralph Basset of Drayton. (fn. 29) In 1408–9 George Pickering was granted the manor by John Huswif and William Lawrens, whose claim to it is not known. (fn. 30) In 1442 the demesne was divided between Hugh and Alice Boyville, and Mary Boyville. (fn. 31)
It seems clear that by 1442 the manor of OTHORPE was held by the Boyville family. In 1480 Mary, widow of Richard Boyville, died possessed of half the manor, held from Edward, Prince of Wales, and valued at 20s. (fn. 32) It descended to her daughter Elizabeth, wife of John Bawdes, (fn. 33) and in 1508 Robert Bawdes of Somerby (Lincs.), probably their son, quitclaimed his half of the manor of Othorpe to Robert Brudenell. (fn. 34) The other half was held by Hugh Lynoll of Slawston, who seems to have been a man of some means, (fn. 35) and who had been connected with the Boyvilles. (fn. 36) In 1494 it was stated that he had lately sold his part of the manor to Henry Nicol of Othorpe. (fn. 37) In 1511 Robert Brudenell purchased this half of the manor, and thus obtained the whole. (fn. 38) His title was confirmed in 1524 by Margaret, daughter of Hugh Lynoll. (fn. 39) The manor subsequently descended in the family of Brudenell of Deene (Northants.), and in 1956 Othorpe belonged to Mr. George Brudenell. (fn. 40)
About 1130 1½ carucate in Slawston was held by an unidentified William, (fn. 41) and in the light of what is known later about the fee in the honor of Belvoir in Slawston it may be suggested that he was William d'Aubeny. (fn. 42) The Belvoir fee in Slawston was attached to the manor of Medbourne and in 1242–3 was held by the heir of William de Chaworth. (fn. 43) In 1279 Thomas Brid and others held 1½ carucate of this fee from Thomas de [Chaworth], who held from Robert de Ros for ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 44) This estate formed part of the knight's fee in Medbourne and Slawston held in 1343 and 1363 by a later Thomas de Chaworth from the Ros family of Helmsley (Yorks. N.R.). (fn. 45) In 1364 Thomas made a grant of some of his land in Slawston attached to Medbourne. (fn. 46) In 1411 another Thomas de Chaworth claimed the wardship of the lands and heir of Thomas Boyville, who held 14 messuages and lands in Slawston and 10 in Othorpe by knight service. (fn. 47)
This estate may almost certainly be identified with that part of the parish which paid tithe to the priory at Belvoir, (fn. 48) and is probably to be seen again in the 'manor' and rectory owned in the 16th century by the Marston family, who held the Belvoir tithes and claimed manorial rights from about 1583. (fn. 49) Belvoir Priory had been accustomed to lease the tithes to Owston Abbey (fn. 50) and a grant of a rectory and tithes in Slawston, described as lately belonging to Owston, was made in 1549 by the Crown to Sir Edward Montague and John Campanett. (fn. 51) In 1551 Campanett sold the property to William Marston (fn. 52) and it descended in the Marston family (fn. 53) until 1725 when William and Sarah Marston conveyed what was then described as a quarter of the rectory of Slawston to Francis Edwards of Welham. (fn. 54) In 1637 the Marston estate was 223 a. (fn. 55) In 1754 this property formed part of the marriage settlement of Francis's grandson Gerard-Anne Edwards and his wife Lady Jane Noel. (fn. 56) She was still in possession of part of the tithes and other lands in Slawston in 1793. (fn. 57) Nothing further is known of this estate which apparently did not descend in the 19th century to the earls of Gainsborough. (fn. 58)
Small grants of property in Slawston were made to Launde Abbey in 1345 (fn. 59) and 1350, (fn. 60) and to Bradley Priory in the 13th century (fn. 61) and again in 1392. (fn. 62) Nothing is known of the fate of Launde's property after the Dissolution. The Bradley lands were granted in 1539 to Thomas Nevill. (fn. 63) Land given to Noseley College in 1306 by Anketil de Martival (fn. 64) was granted in 1550 to Robert Thomas and Andrew Salter, merchant tailors of London. (fn. 65) The nucleus of the estates of Owston Abbey, the glebe attached to the church, is discussed below, but other grants of land were made to the abbey both in Slawston and Othorpe, for example in 1346 and 1391. (fn. 66) Lands formerly belonging to the abbey but not attached to the church were granted in 1541 to John, Lord Russell, who was licensed in 1542 to alienate them to Thomas Brudenell and his son Edmund. (fn. 67)
The holding of Godwin and Frane was worth 16s. in 1086, a substantial increase on its pre-Conquest value of 3s. Although there had been 5 ploughs before the Conquest, however, in 1086 there was only one plough on the demesne and another for 4 villeins and 4 bordars. The virgate of waste held by Ingeld was worth 4d. (fn. 68) In 1258 Hugh Nevill was said to have 7 tenants, one of whom held 3 virgates of land, on 8 virgates of his fee, and two tenants held a virgate of the Belvoir (here called Aubeny or Albini) fee. (fn. 69) Before the Conquest there were 3 ploughs in Othorpe. In 1086 Robert de Buci held 2 ploughs in demesne, and 8 villeins, 2 socmen, and 4 bordars had 2 ploughs. There were 9 a. of meadow, and woodland one by 2 furlongs in extent. The value had risen from 8s. before the Conquest to £2. (fn. 70)
Our knowledge of the medieval agriculture of Slawston derives solely from what is known of the management of the rectorial estate by Owston Abbey. The abbey retained the demesne in its own hands for most of the Middle Ages, and seems to have maintained a large number of pigs in Slawston for so small an estate. (fn. 71) The grain produced was usually sent to the abbey's granary, but in some years part at least was sold. (fn. 72) Paid servants and a professional bailiff appear at the end of the 14th century; a monk was bailiff in 1360. (fn. 73) Among the 66 contributors to the poll tax in 1381, there were 6 free tenants, 20 tenants at will, and 11 servants; another man was described as 'fermor'. (fn. 74) The medieval open fields were usually known as East, Middle, and West Fields, but by 1476 one was called 'Berehylfeld'. (fn. 75) Very little is known of the history and fate of Othorpe. In 1258 5 tenants held 3 virgates of land there. (fn. 76) The village was probably depopulated in the late 14th century or in the 15th century. A communal bakehouse was still apparently in existence in 1368. (fn. 77)
Under the Brudenells Slawston became the centre of their group of estates in this part of Leicestershire. At the end of the 17th century the manorial court for Slawston, Stonton Wyville, Glooston, and Cranoe was held at Slawston, and the four manors were sometimes clearly regarded as one. (fn. 78) The Brudenells did not let their Slawston pastures in the early years of their occupation, but farmed them for wool themselves. (fn. 79) By the early 17th century this policy had been abandoned and the demesnes were let, usually to one farmer. In 1606–7 rents totalled £13 16s. 4d.; by 1635 they had risen to £148 19s. 4d. (fn. 80) Many of the leases contained the condition that the tenant should cart one load of coal (or occasionally more) to Cranoe or some other part of the estate from the pits in the north-west of the county. From there the coal would be taken to Deene by the Northamptonshire tenants. (fn. 81) An undated terrier of the early 17th century records 7 tenants in Slawston, each with arable, meadow, and pasture in holdings ranging from 32 a. to 103 a. and totalling 387 a. (fn. 82) In 1614 6 messuages and 4 cottages besides the capital messuage were let at a total rent of £10 4s. 1d. (fn. 83)
In 1637, when Henry Parton made a large survey book of the Brudenell estates, with maps, nearly 500 a. were leased, including part of Othorpe. Seven hundred and sixty a. belonged to Lord Brudenell as lord of the manor, and 578 a. to 8 free tenants, including the owner of the rectorial estate who claimed a 'manor'. Another 35 a. were held by 'foreigners that have land and not common', among them the townships of Welham and Thorpe Langton. The tenants held parcels of land ranging in size from 2 a. to 61 a.; one other man held a cottage, and another was said to live in part of the house of John Spencer, one of the smaller tenants, and to have no land. There were 33 a. of cow pasture and 33 a. of roadways. (fn. 84)
The depopulation of Othorpe may have been associated with the conversion of arable land to pasture for it became an important sheep pasture under the Brudenells. In 1560 it was estimated that with Cranoe Close it could maintain 700 sheep. (fn. 85) Like most of the other local Brudenell estates it was not leased until the early 17th century. About 1600 54 a. of pasture there were let in two parts, and in 1614 a close called Othorpe Close was let to Henry Stanford. (fn. 86) In 1637 George Tailby was the tenant of Othorpe House, 30 a. of land, and the 114 a. of Othorpe Close. (fn. 87) In 1606–7 the Brudenells drew £60 rent from Othorpe, and in 1635 £95 1s. (fn. 88) The rent of Othorpe Close itself was £70 in 1631 and had been raised to £80 by 1637. (fn. 89) In the late 18th century there were estimated to be 300 a. of land in Othorpe, about 120 a. of which were old inclosure. The remainder stayed open until 1793 when it was inclosed with Slawston. (fn. 90) In the 19th and 20th centuries there has been only a single farmer in Othorpe. (fn. 91)
At the beginning of the 17th century the three open fields of Slawston were called Holywell, Middle, and Burroughhill Fields. (fn. 92) A proposal to inclose them in 1727 came to nothing, (fn. 93) and very little inclosure had taken place before the parish was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1793. The total area then involved was 1,415 a., nearly the whole area of the parish. (fn. 94) The lord of the manor, James Brudenell, Earl of Cardigan, received over 810 a. in 8 allotments. Lady Edwards, part owner of the great tithes, received allotments of over 350 a. The other holdings were all small: one was of about 56 a. but the other 20 allotments were all of under 30 a. each. Eleven were between 1 a. and 10 a., and 5 under 1 a. The smallest allotments included those of the Hanbury charity at Church Langton and the Welham town and clock estates. (fn. 95)
The inclosure was complete and its effects lasting. In 1801 the vicar reported that there was far too little tillage to support the inhabitants. Out of 1,481 a., only 139½ a. were under grain crops. (fn. 96) In the years immediately following the inclosure, about three-quarters of the old arable land was sown with clover and rye-grass to feed cattle and, especially, sheep. Some of the old grassland had been broken up for corn-growing, and part of Mill Hill—which had formerly been covered with furze—was ploughed and produced crops of corn and roots. (fn. 97) A large part of the parish has subsequently remained under grass. In 1797 there were 9 resident farmers and graziers and 13 non-resident occupiers of land in the parish. (fn. 98) There were 5 farmers and graziers in 1846 and 6 in 1932. (fn. 99)
In 1797, soon after the inclosure, there were numerous inhabitants of Slawston in village crafts and trades, all except the 2 shepherds being unconnected with agriculture. There were 2 carpenters, 2 shoemakers, 2 millers, 2 shopkeepers, and one blacksmith, baker, tailor, barber, victualler, and collarmaker; in addition, there were 7 wool-combers and 27 tammy-weavers. (fn. 100) Tammy-weaving died out during the early 19th century, but several of the crafts and trades were still represented. By the 1930's there was only a shop (also the post office) and an inn, the 'Black Horse'; in the 19th century the latter had had a rival in the 'Blue Lion'. (fn. 101)
William Boyville had a mill at Slawston in 1285. (fn. 102) There was a windmill in 1637. (fn. 103) The name Mill Hill was still in use at the end of the 18th century, (fn. 104) and a disused windmill still stood there in 1928; it had apparently been in use in the late 19th century. (fn. 105)
Among the parish officers there was only one churchwarden between 1789 and 1819 but thereafter usually 2. (fn. 106) In the period 1831–6 the annual expenditure of the 2 overseers varied between £122 and £231. (fn. 107) There was apparently no workhouse, and in 1802–3 18 adults and 29 children received out-relief. (fn. 108) Twelve apprenticeship indentures survive from the years 1784 to 1824; in 8 cases the apprentices were placed with weavers and framework-knitters in Leicester. (fn. 109) In 1836 Slawston joined the Uppingham Union. (fn. 110)
Part of the tithes of Slawston were granted by Walter and his son Norman to Belvoir Priory before 1154–9. (fn. 111) The two donors were probably tenants of the fee of Belvoir in Slawston. The church itself was acquired by Owston Abbey before 1166. (fn. 112) By 1220 a dependent chapel at Othorpe was served three days a week from the mother church. (fn. 113) The church was appropriated to Owston and a vicarage ordained in 1258. (fn. 114) The vicarage was united with Cranoe in 1931 and with Stonton Wyville in 1956. (fn. 115)
Owston Abbey retained the rectory and advowson until the Dissolution. (fn. 116) In 1220 the abbey was said to have the advowson from the gift of Robert, son of Ivo. (fn. 117) The donor was perhaps a member of the Nevill family. In 1224–5 it was stated that Hugh Nevill of Slawston had conceded to the abbot his rights of presentation to the church. (fn. 118) At the Dissolution the rectory and advowson passed to the Crown and were granted in 1543 to Richard Andrews and Nicholas Temple, (fn. 119) who sold them in the same year to Jerome Heydon and Thomas Palmer. (fn. 120) In 1544 Heydon and Palmer sold them to Thomas and Edmund Brudenell (fn. 121) and thereafter they descended with the manor. In 1956 the patron was Mr. George Brudenell.
The church was valued at 8 marks in 1217, 10 marks in 1254, and 13 marks (£8 13s. 4d.) in 1291, (fn. 122) at which last figure it remained for most of the Middle Ages. (fn. 123) These valuations probably refer to the rectory which was valued at £8 6s. 8d. in 1535. (fn. 124) The rectory was worth £40 in 1650. (fn. 125) At the ordination of the vicarage in 1258, Owston retained the rectory house, the tithes of 7 carucates, the glebe of one carucate, and half of the tithes of hay. (fn. 126) The glebe subsequently formed the nucleus of the abbey's estate in the parish, (fn. 127) and it presumably descended with the advowson and the abbey's share of the great tithes after the Dissolution. The great tithes were divided during the Middle Ages and until at least the end of the 18th century. The larger part belonged to Owston Abbey; the smaller was held by Belvoir Priory and after the Dissolution descended to the Marston and then the Edwards families. (fn. 128) Thus the great tithes would have been held by the Brudenells and the Edwardses up to the time of the inclosure. At that time, however, James Brudenell, Earl of Cardigan, although described as impropriator, did not possess any right to the tithes; Lady Edwards was entitled to three-quarters of the great tithes arising from the open fields, and William Hodgkin and Thomas Franks to the remainder. (fn. 129) Lady Edwards was allotted 186 a., and nearly 52 a. were allotted to Hodgkin and Franks. (fn. 130) The Brudenells had presumably surrendered their right to tithes to the other owners. In 1838 the so-called 'impropriators' were said to be Mr. Tailby of Welham, John and William Franks of Glen, John Ellington Jones of Oakham (Rut.), and Mr. Warner of Slawston. (fn. 131) The Earl of Cardigan was said to be the sole 'impropriator' by 1846. (fn. 132)
The vicarage was valued at £6 9s. in 1535 (fn. 133) and was worth £20 in 1650. (fn. 134) In 1723 a grant of £200 was made from Queen Anne's Bounty to meet an equal gift made by the impropriators, the Earl of Cardigan and Francis Edwards. (fn. 135) In 1831 the vicarage was worth £175. (fn. 136) At the time of the inclosure the glebe amounted to about 14 a., together with right of common. (fn. 137) The income of 1831 arose mostly from 20 a. of glebe in Slawston and 32 a. in Sharnford, the latter purchased with the money received in 1723. (fn. 138) By 1928 the glebe was said to comprise 17 a. in Slawston. (fn. 139) At the ordination of the vicarage in 1258 the vicar was awarded half the tithes of hay and the tithes from 3 carucates of land, as well as the altarage. (fn. 140) The vicar still possessed the small tithes at the time of the inclosure, when he was allotted a corn rent of £45 from the impropriators. (fn. 141)
The vicarage house was to be rebuilt under the terms of the ordination of the vicarage in 1258. (fn. 142) It was said to be in disrepair in 1510. (fn. 143) It was probably repaired in 1735 by the vicar, Thomas Hope, (fn. 144) but further repair was ordered at the end of the 18th century; it was then a thatched house. (fn. 145) The house was completely rebuilt in 1826 and was of stone, timber, and brick. (fn. 146) A new Vicarage was erected in 1848; (fn. 147) now known as 'Westgales', it is a tall redbrick building of two storys and attics.
The church of ALL SAINTS, which stands isolated at the east end of the village, is built of ironstone and limestone and dates from the late 13th century. It consists of chancel, vestry, clerestoried nave, north aisle, south porch, and west tower.
Substantial alterations appear to have been made to the body of the church in the earlier 14th century. Features of this period include the four clerestory windows (two with curvilinear tracery), the moulded south doorway, and the two flanking squareheaded windows of two cusped lights and spandrels. The south wall of the nave may contain blocked arcade arches and piers similar to the bay of late13th-century date that is visible internally at the east end of the wall. If, however, the visible bay is the only one which existed it may indicate the position of a former south chapel. Externally at this point the arch and jamb of a blocked rood-loft doorway are visible. The tower also contains features of the early 14th century. (fn. 148) It has three stages and two-light traceried belfry windows on each side. The squat broach spire has small crocketted pinnacles and on the cardinal faces has two-light and single-light openings under gabled heads; the lower and larger openings have flowing tracery of c. 1330 and the whole of the spire is of limestone ashlar. A pointed west door has mouldings of c. 1330 and there is a continuous moulded plinth which includes the angle buttresses. The small tower arch into the nave is of three chamfered orders and springs from semioctagonal capitals and shafts; the outer orders continue to the ground.
The existing nave arcade is of four bays, and dates, with the exception of the east bay, from the 15th century. The east bay has moulded responds similar in style to those of the tower arch and has a hoodmould with bar stops. The piers of the remaining bays have deep chamfered projections without capitals to the nave and aisle, and semi-circular shafts and capitals to the arcade. Also to the 15th century belong the north aisle windows, and the window inserted into the blocked opening in the south wall of the nave. Roof corbels in the aisle have been reset, probably when the arcade was constructed. The aisle walls possibly date from c. 1400, to which date the blocked north doorway may be ascribed, but the aisle roof is of modern origin.
In 1864 a thorough restoration took place under the direction of the architects, Goddards of Leicester. The chancel was rebuilt and all the old windows replaced. A drawing of the church in 1798 (fn. 149) shows the north wall of the chancel with two Perpendicular windows and the east window of three lights under a square head; the latter was replaced by a larger window with reticulated tracery. The porch was also rebuilt; during the excavations for this, parts of an Early Decorated gable cross were found and this was copied on the new porch. Inside the stonework was cleaned and new fittings provided. The wood used was red deal as it was inexpensive. The nave and aisles were re-floored with plain tiles, the chancel with decorated ones. The north door was walled up for extra warmth. (fn. 150) The vestry, too, was built in 1864, extending the north aisle further east. In 1890 the organ chamber was built, the organ installed, and the tower and spire repaired. (fn. 151) The bells were rehung and a new clock set up in 1905. (fn. 152)
There is no chancel arch, but at this point in the late 18th century there was a partition which carried the royal arms of Charles II dated 1670. (fn. 153) A painted Lord's Prayer and Creed flank the altar; both had been lacking in 1777. (fn. 154) A pulpit in existence in Nichols's time was dated 1611 (fn. 155) but was replaced shortly before 1832. (fn. 156) The octagonal font which is of limestone is probably of the 14th century. It has a roll-moulded string at the base and another towards the top of its bowl.
A grave slab with indents at the west end of the north aisle formerly contained 2 chief figures with 11 smaller ones arrayed at the base. The outline suggests a date of c. 1500. There are mural plaques to the Revd. Thomas Hope (d. 1760) and William Marston (d. 1732). In the churchyard, south-east of the porch, is a large, low, coped tomb, probably that said by Nichols to have been dated 1642. (fn. 157)
The chapel at Othorpe is not mentioned again after 1220, and presumably fell into disuse when the hamlet was depopulated. A close near Othorpe House retained the name of Chapel Close in the 18th century, and it was said that foundations had been discovered there. The north aisle of Slawston church was traditionally appropriated to the inhabitants of Othorpe. (fn. 158)
There are three bells: (i) 1660, by Thomas Norris of Stamford; (ii) and (iii) 1768, by Joseph Eayre of St. Neots. (fn. 159) The plate includes a silver cup of 1570. The other plate is modern. (fn. 160) The registers of baptisms, burials, and marriages date from 1559, with a gap from 1573 to 1612.
A chapel for Protestant dissenters of any denomination was built at Slawston in 1776. (fn. 161) In 1829 there were said to be 20 Baptists, (fn. 162) but in 1833 the nonconformists of Slawston were called Independents. (fn. 163) In 1851 the chapel was said to be neither Independent nor Baptist but attended by 'christian nonconformists without any reference to denominational peculiarities', and it was described as 'a branch of the cause at Hallaton.' (fn. 164) The chapel was rebuilt in 1850, (fn. 165) but was closed by 1936 (fn. 166) and demolished c. 1955. (fn. 167)
John Holyoake (d. 1744) kept a 'large boarding school' in Slawston in the early 18th century, and had as many as 20 'young gentlemen' from London and elsewhere. Holyoake was also a landagent. He erected a pew for his boarders at the west end of the north aisle in the church which still remained at the end of the century. (fn. 168) It appears that a school was held in the church in the early 19th century. A note in the register of baptisms records that a school was instituted in 1817 and then had 45 pupils. Subscriptions to it were still recorded in 1821. (fn. 169) In 1832 desks said to have been used by school-children were ordered to be removed from the communion rails. (fn. 170)
In 1833 there was one private day school where 4 boys and 4 girls were educated at their parents' expense. The Independent Sunday school was opened in 1833 and was attended by 26 boys and 34 girls. (fn. 171) Slawston had no later school, the children attending the school built in 1843 at Cranoe. (fn. 172)
The Revd. Thomas Hope, by will proved 1760, left £100 in trust, the annual interest to be expended on coal for 8 of the poorest inhabitants of Slawston of whom the parish clerk was always to be one. Anyone convicted of stealing fuel or breaking hedges was to be excluded. Before 1786 the parish received an anonymous gift of £12 7s. In 1837 the capital was invested and the interest was distributed in coal to the poor, the clerk always receiving one-eighth of the whole. (fn. 173) No more is known of either charity.