A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The parish of Littleton lies to the west of Laleham. The northern portion is roughly triangular in shape, the base about 2 miles long, lying along the road from Staines to Kingston, the sides narrowing gradually towards the village at the apex. The southern part is a mere slip of land about 1½ miles long and nowhere more than half a mile wide, which runs from the village to the River Thames. The curious shape of the parish may perhaps be accounted for by the fact that it probably formed part of Laleham until the end of the 11th century, (fn. 1) when this wedge-shaped piece was separated from the western part of the latter, the dividing line being drawn at the River Ash. The ground falls gradually towards the Thames, and the higher and more northerly parts are well wooded, while two stretches of common, known respectively as Astlam and Littleton Common, fall within the northern boundary. The village is one of the least spoilt in the county. It is built almost entirely of red brick, and presents a cheerful and peaceful aspect as it clusters about the church. There has never been either publichouse or shop in the parish, and the only trade represented is that of the blacksmith. No railway line runs through the parish, the nearest station being at Shepperton, 1½ miles. A road from Feltham passes through the village from north to south, and joins the Laleham-Shepperton road, which runs across the narrow part of the parish, and from the latter a road leads southwards to Chertsey Bridge.
There was formerly a wooden bridge here connecting the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, of which either county maintained half. (fn. 2) About 1770 the Middlesex part was much out of repair, and the magistrates of Middlesex prevailed on those of Surrey to join in building a stone bridge. When the contractor had finished the number of arches he had undertaken, they did not reach to the Surrey shore, and it cost that county a large sum to make good the deficiency. (fn. 3)
Much land in the parish belongs to Captain Thomas Wood of Gwernyfed Park, Three Cocks, Brecknockshire. Littleton House, which was originally the family seat of the Woods, was burnt down in 1874. It was a large brick mansion, surrounded by a park and grounds of 600 acres, and is said to have been built during the reign of William III, by the workmen who were then employed at Hampton Court. (fn. 4) This seems all the more likely considering that the Thomas Wood of that time was ranger at Hampton Court. (fn. 5) Littleton House contained Hogarth's famous picture 'Actors Dressing,' which was destroyed when the house was burnt. (fn. 6) A portion of the house has been rebuilt, and is now the residence of Mr. Richard Burbridge. It stands behind the church to the south of the village, and the waters of the River Ash form a natural boundary to the grounds.
Littleton was inclosed in 1848 under the General Inclosures Act. (fn. 7) There are 1,138 acres in the parish, of which 325 acres are arable, 524 acres are permanent grass, and 270 acres are woodland, and 19 acres are water. (fn. 8) The population is principally dependent on agriculture. The soil is sandy loam, and the subsoil gravel. The chief crops are wheat, barley, clover, mangold-wurzel, peas, and beans.
A weir is mentioned in 1235, when it was conveyed by William le Sire to Robert de Beauchamp. (fn. 9)
LITTLETON is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey. In the reign of Edward the Confessor it was probably included in the estate of Achi, a servant of the king. (fn. 10) The 'soke' then belonged to Staines. Achi's manor, assessed at 8 hides, passed to Robert Blund, to whom it belonged in 1086, when it was said to be in Laleham. (fn. 11) But it has been seen that the estate was probably too large to have been included as a whole within the present bounds of that parish, (fn. 12) and as the two parishes are contiguous, and as the descendants of Robert Blunt held Littleton in the time of Henry II, (fn. 13) it may be concluded that in the 11th century the latter formed part of the 8 hides ascribed to Laleham.
Littleton is first mentioned by name about 1166, when it was held as one knight's fee in the barony of William Blunt, Baron of Ixworth, by whom it had been inherited from his father Gilbert, who held it in the reign of Henry I. (fn. 14) It still formed part of the barony in the latter half of the 13th century, (fn. 15) but on the division of the Blunt lands after the death of William Blunt at the battle of Evesham (1265), (fn. 16) the mesne overlordship of the fee does not appear to have passed to either of his heirs. It appears to have been by 1316 in the hands of the Abbey and Convent of Westminster, (fn. 17) who had temporalities there as early as 1291, (fn. 18) and it is probable that the abbey may have received a grant of it towards the end of the 13th century. It was apparently held of them in 1528.
In 1166 Littleton was held of the Blunts by Robert de Littleton. (fn. 19) It apparently descended to Osbert de Littleton, who conveyed it in 1204 to Robert de Leveland, (fn. 20) the son of Nathaniel de Leveland and Desirea, his wife, of Leveland in Kent. (fn. 21) His family held the offices of custodian of the royal palace of Westminster and of the Fleet Prison, (fn. 22) which offices descended at this time with the manor of Leveland. (fn. 23) The Leveland inheritance came in the reign of Henry III to an heiress, Margaret de Leveland, who married first Giles de Badlesmere, (fn. 24) and secondly Fulk de Peyforer, (fn. 25) but having no issue by either marriage, her heir was found to be Ralph de Grendon. (fn. 26) On his death, which occurred about 1280, he was succeeded by his brother Stephen, who was also known as de Leveland, (fn. 27) and who left an only daughter and heiress Joan. (fn. 28) She married John Shenche or Sench, by whom she had a son of the same name, (fn. 29) who died in 1349 and was succeeded by Margaret his daughter. (fn. 30) Margaret died in 1361, and her heir was found to be Roger, son of Roger Sapurton, (fn. 31) who held the manor of Littleton, (fn. 32) and also the offices of custodian of Westminster Palace and the Fleet Prison. (fn. 33) After the death of Roger the manor was held by his daughter Elizabeth, (fn. 34) whose husband, William Venour, was keeper of the Fleet in 1440. (fn. 35) It came probably after the death of Elizabeth to Ellen, the daughter and heir of John Sapurton, brother of Roger, who married Robert Markham, with whom she conveyed it in 1528 to Anthony Windesore, representative of the family of Windsor of Stanwell. (fn. 36) Edward Lord Windsor sold it in 1563 to Francis Vaughan, (fn. 37) and it appears to have come before 1573 to John Bartram, who transferred his right in it in that year to Thomas Newdigate. (fn. 38) The latter possibly acted for the Somerset family, as Francis Newdigate married Anne, Duchess of Somerset, the widow of the Protector, (fn. 39) and Henry Newdigate conveyed the manor in 1600 to her son, Edward, Earl of Hertford. (fn. 40) It was inherited after the latter's death by his grandson and heir William, (fn. 41) who succeeded to the earldom in 1621. (fn. 42) He conveyed it in 1627 to Daniel and Thomas Moore, (fn. 43) of whom Thomas conveyed it to Nathaniel Goodlad in 1648. (fn. 44) The history of the manor for the next hundred years is somewhat obscure. It is said to have come early in the 18th century to the family of Lambell, (fn. 45) the last of whom, Gilbert Lambell, certainly held it in 1749. (fn. 46) He died in 1783, (fn. 47) having sold the manor to Thomas Wood, whose family had held the manor of Astlam (q.v.) in this parish since 1660. His direct descendant, Captain Thomas Wood, holds the manor of Littleton at the present day. (fn. 48) Several members of the family have gained distinction in military service, of whom perhaps the most famous is General Sir David Wood (1812-94), the son of Colonel Thomas Wood of Littleton. (fn. 49) He served in the Boer campaign of 1842-3, and commanded the Royal Artillery at Balaclava, Inkerman, and before Sebastopol, and the Horse Artillery in the Indian Mutiny. (fn. 50) The eighteen tattered colours of the Grenadier Guards, which now hang in the church, were placed there by the father of the present representative of the family, who was colonel of that regiment.
The Leveland family appears to have let the manor to tenants. Robert de Winton held it as a tenant of Robert de Leveland in 1209, paying a yearly rent of 1 lb. of pepper. (fn. 51) Edward de Winton owed the service of three-quarters of a knight's fee in Littleton during part of the 13th century. (fn. 52) It is uncertain how long the de Wintons held the manor, but it was probably until about 1335, when an Edmund de Winton presented to the rectory, (fn. 53) the advowson having been first granted to Robert de Winton in 1209. (fn. 54) Possibly the manor passed very shortly to William de Perkelee, who held the advowson about that time, (fn. 55) and tenants of the same name, who were presumably his descendants, held the manor in the reign of Henry VI, rendering the same yearly rent of 1 lb. of pepper by which the de Wintons had held. (fn. 56) Guy de Perkelee, citizen and fishmonger of London, appears to have held the manor in 1424. (fn. 57) A few years later Simon de Perkelee and his brother Guy, who were possibly his sons, held the manor together. (fn. 58) Simon, who was a citizen and scrivener of London, died in 1439, leaving a son William, then nineteen years of age. (fn. 59) Litigation took place in 1444, Guy and his sister Matilda, the wife of John Talent, having apparently taken possession of the manor, and their nephew William attempted to recover it from William de Bokeland, to whom they had conveyed it. (fn. 60) It is possible that William de Perkelee died before the conclusion of the suit, for in the following year the manor was divided, two-thirds being held by Guy and his wife, and one-third by Agnes, who was William's wife, with remainder to Guy. The latter, in that year, (fn. 61) conveyed his share and the remainder of the third part to William de Bokeland, who appears to have held the whole manor in 1458. (fn. 62) After this time the under-tenure seems to have lapsed.
The so-called manor of ASTLAM (Ashlam, Aschlam, Astelam, Astleham, xvii and xviii cents.) appears to have been held in chief. The name first occurs in 1600, when Katharine Ryse, widow, conveyed the manor to Francis Townley. (fn. 63) Nicholas Townley, who was probably the heir of Francis, and Joan his wife held it in 1650-1, (fn. 64) and in 1660 sold it to Thomas Wood, the son and heir apparent of Edward Wood, alderman of London, (fn. 65) who was the first of his family to settle at Littleton. (fn. 66) The manor remained with his descen dants, (fn. 67) and was inherited by Thomas Wood, who bought the manor of Littleton (q.v.) towards the close of the 18th century. It is last mentioned in 1801, (fn. 68) after which time it was probably merged in the manor of Littleton. The name is still preserved in Astlam Common, which lies in the north-west of the parish.
According to an extent taken in 1660, there was a 'mansion house built with brick,' where the lord of the manor dwelt. (fn. 69) Belonging to it were outhouses, barns, stables, mill-houses, orchards, gardens, and 'back sides.' (fn. 70) A dove-house was built between 1600 and 1650, and dovehouses are mentioned in 1660. (fn. 71)
The Beauchamps of Hacche in Somerset held land in the parish for several generations. It does not appear of whom the land was held in early times, the only mention of an overlord occurring in 1360, when the Abbot of Westminster is named. (fn. 72) Robert de Beauchamp acquired land there in 1235 from Richard son of Bartholomew, (fn. 73) and in the same year a weir from William le Sire. (fn. 74) In 1341 John de Beauchamp, Baron of Hacche, the descendant of Robert, received lands in Littleton from Henry de Roydone and Joan his wife, which were, however, held by Henry and Joan for the term of their lives for the yearly rendering of one rose. (fn. 75) In the same year Alice widow of William Raghener conveyed premises in Littleton to John de Beauchamp which she also held for life on rendering one rose yearly at the feast of St. John the Baptist. (fn. 76) The Ragheners, or Raheners, had held land in Littleton since 1283, when John Rahener acquired 8 acres from John Argent and his wife Margaret. (fn. 77) William Raghener held land there in 1310, (fn. 78) and William de la Lee conveyed certain premises there to him in 1321. (fn. 79) John de Beauchamp's lands were inherited by his son, also named John, (fn. 80) who died seised of tenements at Littleton in 1360. (fn. 81) His heirs were found to be his sister Cicely and his nephew John Meriet, the son of his second sister Eleanor by her first husband. (fn. 82) The Littleton lands apparently fell to the share of John Meriet. (fn. 83) In 1373 he released all his right to the 'manor' of Littleton to William Beauchamp and others, who were presumably acting as his trustees. (fn. 84) This is the only instance in which the estate was called a manor. John Meriet died in 1391, leaving an only daughter and heiress Elizabeth, who married Urias Seymour. (fn. 85) The Meriet lands came in this way to the Seymours, as did the lands of the Beauchamps by the marriage of Cicely Beauchamp with Sir Roger Seymour, (fn. 86) and were inherited eventually by Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and Duke of Somerset, who acted as Protector in the reign of Edward VI, and who was created Baron of Hacche in 1536. (fn. 87) His son held the manor of Littleton (q.v.), and it is probable that the lands originally held by the Beauchamps became merged in that estate.
It is just possible that in 1340 Sir John de Moleyns held lands here, which were sometimes called a manor. In that year he obtained a confirmation of the manors of 'La Lee - - - Littleton,' and others. (fn. 88) He forfeited his lands in that year, and they were not restored until 1345. (fn. 89) No mention is made of this 'manor' in the records of the restitution. Possibly the lands had been granted to some tenant, not improbably to Augustine Waleys. On 26 March 1346 Augustine Waleys and Maud his wife conveyed the 'manor of Littleton' to John Gogh, (fn. 90) who conveyed it at midsummer of the same year to Edward de Bohun and Philippa his wife, with remainder in case of default of heirs to Guy de Brian. (fn. 91) It seems very likely that this estate was not really a manor. It probably came to Guy de Brian in due course, although there is no mention of a 'manor' belonging to him. Sir Guy already held lands in Littleton, part of which (one messuage and 1 acre of land) he had acquired in 1346 (fn. 92) by conveyance from Sir John de Moleyns, who held it as early as 1340. (fn. 93) He received a grant of free warren in his demesne lands at Littleton in 1350. (fn. 94) The estate passed in 1390 to his eldest surviving child, Philippa, wife first of John Devereux, and then of Sir Henry de Scrope. (fn. 95) She died holding a 'toft and lands in Littleton' in 1407, when her property passed to her sister Elizabeth, wife of Robert Lovell. (fn. 96) About 1473-4 Robert Lovell was engaged in a lawsuit with one Katharine Palmer concerning these lands. (fn. 97) But they were never known as a manor, and are not traceable beyond this date.
The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE consists of chancel 39 ft. 2 in. by 17 ft. 6 in., nave 33 ft. 4 in. by 19 ft. 4 in., north aisle 6 ft. wide, south aisle 6 ft. 9 in. wide, west tower, and some buildings on the north of the chancel, which were burialplaces for the Wood family, built in 1705, but are now transformed into vestries.
The chancel seems to date from the 13th century, and the plan of the nave is perhaps of the 12th, a south aisle having been added in the 13th century, and a north aisle in the 14th; the clearstory is of red brick, and probably of the 16th century; and the west tower except for its top stage, and the south porch are perhaps of the same date. The walls, except those of the clearstory and north aisle, are rough-cast, and the roofs are red tiled, with plastered coves.
The chancel has a modern east triplet of lancets, two original lancets on the north, to the east of which is a modern doorway into the vestries; and in the south wall three modern lancets, a window of two trefoiled lights at the south-east, and a south door between the first and second lancets from the east. The proportions suggest that it has been lengthened eastward since its first setting out.
The chancel arch is old work in two pointed chamfered orders, and at the springing is a modern moulded string; to the south of it, in the angle of the nave, is a lancet window inserted to give light to the pulpit, which looks like old work re-used.
The nave has a north arcade of two bays, with arches of two chamfered orders with a label, and an octagonal central column of 14th-century detail; the responds have a moulded string on the inner order only. The south arcade has two pointed chamfered orders with a large circular column, and semi-octagonal responds with plain capitals, probably cut down, and bases which show remains of 13th-century detail. The clearstory has two square-headed two-light windows on either side over the arches, of cut red brick with moulded labels.
The walling of the north aisle is rough rubble of stone and flint; in the west wall is an old lancet window, and to the south of it can be seen the angle of the earlier aisleless nave. In the north wall is a pointed 14th-century doorway with an external hood; it is now blocked, and contains a small window. To the east is a window of two trefoiled lights with a segmental head, the jambs being probably 14th-century work, while the tracery is modern.
The south aisle has an old lancet window at the west end, and a modern doorway and two-light window on the south. The porch has a fourcentred outer order and moulded 16th-century beams in the ceiling.
The tower is in four stages; the top stage, which seems an 18th-century addition, has no roof, but a quatrefoiled opening in each wall. The third stage has two-light belfry windows in red brick, and in the ground stage is a fourcentred west door with a three-light window over it.
There are some simple 15th-century pews in the nave, and in the vestry is an old iron-bound chest of the reign of Henry VIII, ornamented with leather and nail work. The pulpit is good 18th-century work, and at the west end of the nave is a large organ. The font is octagonal on a round stem, and is ancient but extremely plain. Its pierced and domed wooden cover seems to include a little old woodwork.
In the north wall of the chancel is a brass inscription taken up from the floor, 'Here lyeth Lady Blanche Vaughan, sometyme wyfe of Syr Hugh Vaughan, knight, who lyeth buryed at Westmynst' whych Lady Blanche decessyd the VIIIth day of deceber, An° Dni m1 vcliii whose soules Ihu pdon.' Below is a shield with three castles and a fleur de lis, and on each side of the shield a double rose, having on their centres the words 'Ihu mercy.' There are several later monuments to the family of Wood.
The plate consists of a chalice of 1632, engraved with three fleurs de lis in a border bezanty, quartering a fesse checky in a border engrailed, the whole impaling a quarterly shield: 1st, a bend bearing three stags' heads embossed on an escutcheon between six crosslets fitchy; 2nd, three leopards passant, a label of three points; 3rd, checky; 4th, a lion rampant; a flagon with date mark 1734, given by Mrs. Elizabeth Wood in that year; a small cover paten of 1632, engraved with a goat's or bull's head breathing fire; a standing paten of 1680; a chalice of the 1696 cycle; and an embossed salver marked
The earlier registers are: (1) christenings 1579 to 1652, marriages 1564 to 1652, burials 1562 to 1651; (2) woollen burials 1678 to 1715, marriages 1678 to 1705, burials without affidavits 1698 to 1705; (3) printed marriages, 1754 to 1810; (4) baptisms 1664 to 1811, burials 1664 to 1812, and marriages 1664 to 1751.
The church of St. Mary Magdalene is first mentioned in 1209. (fn. 98) The living is a rectory, the gift of which appears to have been held in early times by the sub-tenant of the manor. It was conveyed by Robert de Leveland in 1209 to Robert de Winton, (fn. 99) and appears to have remained with the de Wintons for over a century, Edmund de Winton presenting in 1335. (fn. 100) It then probably passed to William de Perkelee, who presented on four occasions between 1321 and 1336. (fn. 101) Four years later, however, it was conveyed by Master John de Redeswelle, parson of 'Goderushton,' to Sir John de Moleyns. (fn. 102) On Sir John's imprisonment in that same year (fn. 103) it was taken into the king's hand, Edward III presenting in 1343. (fn. 104)
In September 1345 Edward III gave the order to restore the advowson of the church of Littleton to Sir John. (fn. 105) At Easter 1346 the latter conveyed it to Sir Guy de Brian. (fn. 106) At midsummer in the same year a settlement of the advowson was made by John Gogh (apparently a trustee) on Edward de Bohun and Philippa his wife, with remainder in default of heirs to Guy de Brian. (fn. 107) This may perhaps be explained in connexion with Moleyns' recent forfeiture. The person represented by Gogh may possibly have had a grant of the advowson between 1340 and 1345, so that the rights of both parties may have been compromised in this act.
In 1355, however, the advowson of Littleton was settled by Edward de Bohun on his wife: (fn. 108) Edward died childless in 1362, (fn. 109) so that the lastmentioned settlement would be rendered ineffective by the former remainder in favour of Guy de Brian. The latter evidently came into possession, for he gave it in 1372 to the priory of Hounslow, for the remembrance of his own and his wife's anniversary. (fn. 110) It remained with Hounslow Priory until it was granted by Prior Thomas Hide to Edmund Windsor. (fn. 111) Andrew Lord Windsor presented in 1537, (fn. 112) the next presentation being made by his son's executor, (fn. 113) Roger Roper, in 1554. (fn. 114) The advowson was sold by his grandson, Edward Lord Windsor, in 1563, with the manor, (fn. 115) and came with the latter to Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, who first presented in 1572. (fn. 116) In 1610 the advowson was granted by the king to William Hughes, (fn. 117) who was probably a fishing grantee. Later in the same year he and his father Reginald Hughes conveyed their right to Francis Townley, (fn. 118) but the Earl of Hertford presented in 1616 and 1617. (fn. 119) Litigation ensued, and Francis Townley recovered the right of presentation from the earl, (fn. 120) and the rector, who had been inducted in 1617, was admitted a second time (in 1619) on Townley's presentation. (fn. 121) The Seymours, however, seem to have retained some right in it, for in 1637 Frances Countess of Hertford held the patronage for the term of her life, (fn. 122) after which it appears to have passed to the Townleys. Nicholas Townley held it in 1650, (fn. 123) and conveyed it in 1660 to Thomas Wood. (fn. 124) It has remained with his descendants to the present day (fn. 125) and is now held with the manor by Captain Thomas Wood. In 1341 the parish was rated at £9 6s. 8d., but because the land was sandy, and the inhabitants were unable to sow it on account of their poverty, only £6 could be raised. (fn. 126) The rectory was valued at £14 at the Dissolution, (fn. 127) and the same in 1548. (fn. 128) In an extent of 1610, a mill, house, dovecote, orchard, garden and fishing are mentioned as belonging to the rectory. (fn. 129)
A chantry was founded in 1324 by Thomas de Littleton, then rector of Harrow, and formerly rector of Spaxton. (fn. 130) By an agreement with the Abbot and Convent of Chertsey, the latter bound themselves to pay 5 marks yearly to a chaplain to celebrate divine service daily at the altar of St. Mary in the church of Littleton, in honour of the saint, and for the souls of the founder, of his parents, and of Simon de Micham. The chaplain was to be appointed by Thomas de Littleton, and after his death by Sir Geoffrey de Perkelee, the rector of Littleton, and his successors. (fn. 131) In 1548 the chantry was served by a French priest, Sir Philip Lyniard, who had a house, an orchard, and a little croft or close. (fn. 132) After the dissolution of the chantries in 1548 the land seems to have been held by the Crown until 1610, when it was included in a grant of the advowson of the rectory to William Hughes. (fn. 133) It has probably descended since with the rectory.
The Bread Charities.-In 1724 Mrs. Elizabeth Wood, by will, bequeathed to the minister and churchwardens £100 to be put out at interest, and the yearly income thereof to be laid out in bread to be distributed every Sunday among poor attending the church.
These legacies are represented by a sum of £217 4s. 9d. consols, with the official trustees. In 1906 the dividends, amounting to £5 8s. 4d., were applied in the distribution of bread every Sunday to five families.
The school, formerly carried on in a room on the estate of the Wood family, was erected in 1872 in memory of the late Lieut.-General Wood. It is endowed with a sum of £382 13s. 7d. consols with the official trustees, producing £9 11s. 4d. a year, which arose from the accumulations of a legacy of £30 bequeathed by will of the Rev. Thomas Harwood, D.D., rector, dated in 1731, and from subscriptions in 1787 of £50 each by Thomas Wood, Thomas Wood, junr., Edward Elton, and the Rev. Henry Allen, D.D., rector.