A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1930.
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The parish of Thrapston contains 1,149 acres of land and is low-lying, being only about 100 ft. above the ordnance datum. The subsoil is alluvium, near the bed of the River Nene, which forms the western boundary of the parish, upper lias, great oolite series and Oxford clay. The Thorpe brook forms part of the eastern boundary. About half the acreage is arable land and the remainder grass land, with practically no woods. A quarry is mentioned in 1330, and mines and quarries in a sale of the manor in 1770. (fn. 1) There is an ironstone quarry at the present day, but the Nene Side Iron Works which once flourished no longer exist.
Thrapston is a small market town, probably owing its prosperity to its situation near the bridge over the Nene, towards which bridge several roads converge. It is the head of the Thrapston Petty Sessional Division, the Thrapston and Oundle County Court District and the Thrapston Rural District. It was almost entirely rebuilt in the 19th century, the later buildings being of red brick. A few older houses remain; a cottage in the Huntingdon road is dated 1755, and the Baptist Chapel adjoining bears a tablet recording that "This place of Worship was built by public Subscription A.D. 1787, for the Propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." It is a plain brick building of two stories. There is also a Wesleyan Chapel in the town.
There is a market place in the centre of the town and the church and manor house lie on its north side. The bridge over the Nene is mentioned in 1224, when Bishop Hugh of Welles granted an indulgence to travellers contributing to its repair (fn. 2) and in 1313 Bishop Dalderby granted an indulgence for the fabric of the chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr next the Bridge of Thrapston. (fn. 3) In the later 14th and early 15th centuries, the bailiffs and men of Thrapston obtained several grants of pontage for the repair of the bridge. (fn. 4) Leland about 1543 mentions a stone bridge with eight arches, (fn. 5) but in a brief for its repair of 1664 it is said to have twenty-four arches. (fn. 6)
The Leper Hospital of St. Leonard existed in the 12th and 13th centuries, but nothing is known of its history and it probably had no endowment. (fn. 7)
There is a station on the Northampton and Peterborough branch of the London Midland and Scottish Railway, which crosses the parish. Thrapston mill is on the river Nene, to the south of the town. A water mill is mentioned as parcel of the manor in 1336 and 1355. (fn. 8) The parish was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1780. (fn. 9)
There is no mention of a pre-Conquest tenant in THRAPSTON, but in 1086 Oger the Breton held 2½ hides. (fn. 10) In the following century 2 hides and 1 virgate were held by his son Ralph fitz Oger of the fee of Bourne in Lincolnshire. (fn. 11) The honour of Bourne passed to the Wakes and Baldwin Wake granted his holding to Robert de Vere, in the latter half of the 12th century. (fn. 12) The overlordship was held by the Wakes, until 1350, when it passed to Margaret, Countess of Kent, (fn. 13) sister and heir of Thomas Wake. On the death of her son John, Earl of Kent, it went to his sister Joan, the wife of Sir Thomas Holand, (fn. 14) but Elizabeth, the widow of John, held it in dower till her death in 1411. (fn. 15) In the interval four Earls of Kent had died, (fn. 16) and in 1424 Joan, daughter of Thomas Holand and Joan, above mentioned, died seised of the rent of 50s. from half a knight's fee in Thrapston. Her property was divided amongst her six sisters or their descendants (fn. 17) and the overlordship probably disappeared after this. In 1481 Roger Wake, of Blisworth, was stated to be the overlord, (fn. 18) and in 1493 Edward, Earl of Wiltshire, (fn. 19) but both statements were probably due to a confusion with the tenure of other property.
The manor of Thrapston was granted by Baldwin Wake to Robert de Vere, and followed the descent of Great Addington (q.v.), where the Veres lived, until the 18th century, when Thrapston was sold. In 1335 during Ralf de Vere's tenancy an extent of the manor of Thrapston shows there was there a capital messuage with two gardens, 100 acres of arable land in demesne, 10 acres of meadow, 10 free tenants, 10 native tenants, 10 cottages, a water mill, and a market and fair. (fn. 20) Alice, widow of John de Vere, in 1386 had her dower in Thrapston, including the profits of the market and fair, the common oven and a cottage in 'le Draperie.' (fn. 21) Thrapston was sold to Humphrey Morice (d. 1731), a merchant and M.P. for Grampound, or to his son of the same name (d. 1785). (fn. 22) It was sold by the latter in 1770 to Leonard Burton, (fn. 23) and the Burton trustees were holding in 1874. (fn. 24) Mr. John Pashler afterwards held the manor, and his widow now holds it.
The third part of the manor, which went to Etheldreda, the youngest daughter of Henry Vere, on his death in 1493, was still in her possession, as a widow, in 1553. (fn. 25) She gave it to her son, George Browne, and it passed to his son, Wystan, (fn. 26) but before 1572 her third part seems to have been again divided amongst heiresses, as transactions as to their thirds of one-third of the manor were carried out by Christiana Browne in 1572, (fn. 27) and Catherine Browne in 1576, (fn. 28) and later by Christiana, the wife of John Tufton, Mary, the wife of Thomas Wilfride and Catherine, the wife of William Rooper. (fn. 29) The last of these transactions was in 1590; no later history of this part of the manor appears, and it was probably conveyed to the Mordaunts.
In the time of Edward the Confessor, Burred held freely 3 virgates of land in Thrapston. (fn. 33) In 1086 this land was held of the Bishop of Coutances, (fn. 34) but after his fief escheated it was granted to the Clares, this holding apparently formed part of half a knight's fee held of the fee of Clare in Thrapston, Denford and Ringstead. (fn. 35) After the death of the last Gilbert de Clare at Bannockburn, this half fee passed to his eldest sister, Margaret, (fn. 36) and through her to the Earls of Stafford. (fn. 37) The last overlord mentioned was Edward, Duke of Buckingham, who was attainted and beheaded in 1521, (fn. 38) and the half fee was presumably held of the Crown after that date.
In 1086, Odelin held this land of the Bishop, (fn. 39) and his son Robert was the tenant under the Clares early in the 12th century. (fn. 40) Towards the end of the century the tenant was Richard de Marun, (fn. 41) but it is difficult to trace the descent of the land in Thrapston. In 1236 Maud, the wife of William Hay, was dealing with land in Thrapston, and in 1242 William Hay held an eighth part of a knight's fee there and in Denford. (fn. 42) Between 1252–3 and 1263, William de Shardelawe and his wife Joan were parties to various fines levied on land in Thrapston which were part of her inheritance. (fn. 43) The next tenants seem to have been John Spigurnel and his wife Alice. (fn. 44) In 1310, they settled a considerable estate in Thrapston, Woodford and Denford on themselves and the heirs of their bodies, with remainder of John, son of Roger Bozun. (fn. 45) Before 1330, John Bozun sold one quarter of a knight's fee in Thrapston to Bernard de Brus, the son of John de Brus of Thrapston. (fn. 46) Athelina, daughter of Bernard, is mentioned in 1367 in connection with other property, (fn. 47) but the next tenants were William Everard de Sutton in Holand and his wife Alice, who settled the manor of Thrapston in 1379 on Hugh Hekelyng and Richard Gettyngton, clerks, with warranty by the heirs of Alice. (fn. 48) In 1387, amongst the tenants of the half fee held of Hugh, Earl of Stafford, appear Alice Vere, possibly identical with Alice Everard, and Henry Petelyng, clerk. (fn. 49) In 1392 they were succeeded by Margery Table, (fn. 50) in 1394 and 1396 by William Braunspath, (fn. 51) but in 1401 Margery Table reappears. (fn. 52) No further tenants are recorded till 1515, when William Thorley died seised of two virgates of land and other property in Thrapston, held of the Duke of Buckingham, his heir being his son Richard. (fn. 53) This holding, however, can only have been a small part of the lands attached to the manor of Thrapston, and presumably they had passed into the hands of many tenants. They seem, however, again to have come into the possession of one tenant and the manorial rights revived, possibly when the over-lordship passed to the Crown. (fn. 54)
In 1574 the manor of THRAPSTON, alias THRAPSTON GALES, was held by John Gale, and was possibly the manor formerly held of the honour of Clare. Gale sold it to Henry Daye, (fn. 55) who in turn sold it in 1575 to Lewis, Lord Mordaunt. (fn. 56) In 1582 the latter obtained a quit-claim of the manor from Anthony Muscott and his wife Ellen, presumably the heir either of John Gale or Henry Daye. (fn. 57) From this time the manor of Thrapston Gales was held with Thrapston manor (q.v.). (fn. 58)
The tenant of the land held of the Honour of Clare did suit at the Abbot of Peterborough's court for Navisford Hundred. (fn. 59) The Earl of Gloucester also held a view of frankpledge, pleas 'de namio vetito,' and the assizes of bread and ale for his tenants at Thrapston. (fn. 60) He also had the return of writs, (fn. 61) and his successors held a view of frankpledge and a court, generally at Denford, for their tenants of the half fee in Thrapston, Denford and Ringstead. (fn. 62) In the early part of the 18th century the Duke of Montagu held the court of Navisford Hundred at Thrapston. (fn. 63)
In 1205 Baldwin de Vere gave two palfreys for the privilege of having a market every Tuesday, (fn. 64) and his market rights were specially reserved to him in the agreement as to view of frankpledge made with the Abbot of Peterborough. (fn. 65) Ralph de Vere in 1330 claimed the market under a charter of Henry III, (fn. 66) and presumably the succeeding lords of the manor of Thrapston held a market there, as it was in the possession of Sir John Germaine and his wife in 1706. (fn. 67) It was not mentioned in the sale of the manor in 1770 (fn. 68) to Leonard Burton, and in 1870 the Thrapston Market Co. was formed by Act of Parliament, in which all control and profit of the market and of the fairs are vested. In 1226 Baldwin de Vere obtained a grant, until the coming of age of Henry III, of a fair to be held on the eve and day of St. Michael. (fn. 69) A fair is now held on the first Tuesday after old Michaelmas day.
Robert de Vere obtained the grant of another fair in 1245 on the vigil, feast and morrow of St. James the Apostle. (fn. 70) A fair was still held on St. James' day early in the 18th century, (fn. 71) and was afterwards kept on 5 August, old St. James' day, but it had fallen into disuse before 1874. (fn. 72) The second fair is now held on the first Tuesday in May.
The church of ST. JAMES consists of chancel 37 ft. 8 in. by 19 ft. 4 in., with organ chamber and vestry on the north side, clearstoried nave, 50 ft. 6 in. by 20 ft., north and south aisles, each 12 ft. 8 in. wide, and west tower, 13 ft. 6 in. by 11 ft., surmounted by a spire. All these measurements are internal. The ground floor of the tower forms the porch. The nave and aisles, (fn. 73) together with the chancel arch, were entirely rebuilt in 1842 in the Gothic style of the period, when galleries were erected on three sides. The galleries still remain. In 1888 an old vestry which had blocked a 14th century window in the chancel was removed, and the present vestry built further west. The building throughout is of rubble with ashlar dressings, and has low-pitched roofs and plain parapets. The walls inside are plastered.
The chancel is substantially of the later part of the 13th century, and retains strings, angle buttresses, priest's doorway, and internally a double piscina of that date. The piscina has two plain pointed arches set within a larger arch, the tympanum being pierced with a quatrefoil. In the 14th century an east window of five lights with reticulated tracery (now restored) was inserted, and long two-light windows with transoms in the side walls. These windows, two in the south wall and one in the north, have cinquefoiled lights and a quatrefoil in the head. West of the piscina, below the first window, are three ogee-headed sedilia of 14th century date, with crocketed arches and dividing shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The seats are on one level. The sanctuary was panelled in oak and a reredos erected in 1920 as a war memorial.
The 14th-century tower has a battlemented parapet, and is of five stages marked by strings, with diagonal buttresses and a vice at the north-east angle. The west doorway has a continuous series of wave mouldings divided by deep casements, and over it is a two-light window with modern tracery. The bellchamber windows are each of two cinquefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in the head. Below the parapet is a continuous row of square quatrefoiled panels, and the gargoyles are set in the middle of each side. The spire is without ribs, and has three sets of lights on each of its cardinal faces. The tower arch is of three chamfered orders, the inner carried on responds with moulded capitals and bases.
The nave is of four bays, and retains most of the fittings of the period of its erection. In the west wall is set a stone with the arms and crest of Washington. It is without inscription, but is said to commemorate Sir John Washington, some members of whose family are buried in the churchyard. The font dates from 1888.
There is a ring of eight bells, cast in 1897 by John Taylor and Co. of Loughborough. (fn. 74)
The plate consists of a cup and paten of 1570, and a cup, paten, and flagon of 1855, given by Alfred Wigan in 1860. There are also a pewter flagon, pewter plates and a brass alms dish. (fn. 75)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms, marriages and burials 1560–1640; (ii) births and baptisms, marriages, and burials 1653–87, with a few earlier notes (1641–52) on one page of births; (iii) parish clerk's paper register book 1643–87; (iv) parish clerk's register 1688–1709; (v) baptisms and burials 1709–59, marriages 1709–54; (vi) marriages 1754–98; (vii) parish clerk's book 1761–90; (viii) baptisms and burials 1790–95; (ix) baptisms and burials 1796–1812, marriages 1798–1812.
The church of St. James (fn. 76) was granted by Baldwin, son of Gilbert, to the Abbey of Bourne in Lincolnshire, which he founded in 1138. (fn. 77) The abbey held the advowson until its dissolution in 1534, but from 1422 frequently granted away the presentation on a particular occasion. (fn. 78) From the Dissolution till the present day the advowson has belonged to the Crown. (fn. 79) No vicarage was instituted, but the rector paid a pension of 4s. a year to the abbey. (fn. 80) In 1600 Queen Elizabeth granted certain tithes in Thrapston formerly belonging to the abbey to the Bishop of Ely. (fn. 81)
Three roods of land and a fishery in the Neve were given for the maintenance of a light in Thrapston church, and in 1552, Edward VI granted them to Sir Thomas Tresham and George Tresham. (fn. 82)
Mary Allen in 1685 bequeathed £1 a year for poor widows. The sum of £20 which was appropriated to answer this charity was applied towards building a poor house, and £1 a year was formerly paid out of the rates and distributed in bread.
By his will proved at Lichfield 31st October, 1878, Matthias Royce Griffin gave £1,000 to the trustees of the Baptist Chapel at Thrapston for the poor. The sum was invested in stock now represented by £969 13s. 11d. India 3½ per cent. Stock, producing £33 19s. yearly in dividends. The income is distributed in kind among about 50 recipients.
The Reynold Hogg Fund is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 16th April, 1924. The property originally consisted of a piece of land in Church Street with buildings formerly used as a Protestant Dissenting Chapel comprised in an indenture dated 6 November, 1812. The property was sold in 1924 and the proceeds invested in £177 19s. 4d. 5 per cent. War Stock, which stock was made up to £200 by the deacons of the Baptist Chapel who were appointed trustees of the scheme. The income is applied for the general purposes of the chapel.