A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1930.
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The parish of Denford lies on the eastern boundary of the county. The land rises from the River Nene eastward about 150 ft. The soil, which is a stiff clay lying on the Great Oolite, Cornbrash and Oxford Clay beds, produces barley, wheat and root crops. The Kettering and Huntingdon branch of the London Midland and Scottish Railway crosses the parish, the nearest station being at Thrapston. There were formerly brick and tile kilns which are now disused.
The village stands on the road from Chelveston to Thrapston and adjoins the eastern bank of the River Nene. The church is on the northern side of the village near the river. Not far from it is the Cock Inn, a two-storied house which is dated 1593: except for one or two mullioned windows, it has no special architectural features. Another house in the village has a panel inscribed 'T.G. 1622.'
The parish was inclosed in 1765 but mention is made in the award of previous inclosures. (fn. 1)
In the reign of Edward the Confessor, Burred held 5 hides of land in Denford. (fn. 2) In 1086 he had been succeeded by the Bishop of Coutances, but it seems clear that the holding as described in Domesday Book included much land in other townships. (fn. 3) In the 12th-century survey, which was drawn up after the Bishop's fief had escheated to the crown, Denford seems to have been included under Ringstead and Cotton. (fn. 4) By 1124–9 the manor of Denford had come into the possession of Gilbert Fitz Richard, whose wife Adeliza de Claremont or Montmorency in 1147–68 is described as Lady of Denford. Roger de Clare, c. 1152, gave to St. Werburgh's, Chester, a mark yearly from Rothwell so that when God delivered to him his inheritance of Denford he would assign a place there from which the rent should be taken. Probably Adeliza his grandmother was then still alive. The manor (fn. 5) was apparently held of the honour of Clare in 1242, (fn. 6) while in 1262 Richard, Earl of Gloucester, died seised of the overlordship there. (fn. 7) The manor was afterwards held of the Gloucester Fee in Northamptonshire, (fn. 8) to which it still belongs.
The first tenant in demesne of whom record has been found was Frumbold Denford, who in the 12th century survey appears as holding half a hide of land in Cotton of the fee of Denford. (fn. 9) In charters of the same century, Walter son of Gilbert Denford appears (fn. 10) and he was succeeded by his son Gilbert and grandson Walter, the latter of whom was living in 1219. (fn. 11) Shortly afterwards the manor was divided, but the fact that the number of knights' fees in Denford varies in different inquisitions on the Gloucester lands makes its history difficult to trace. Probably, however, the manor was held as one knight's fee and the later moieties each as half a knight's fee. (fn. 12)
In 1242 Walter Denford held half a fee of the honour of Clare and was probably the mesne lord of the other half fee. (fn. 13) He was succeeded by Gilbert Denford, whose heir was holding in 1262 (fn. 14) and may possibly have been Joan the wife of William Shardelow, who was certainly the heiress of lands in Denford at this time. (fn. 15) She and her husband granted lands in 1263 to Richard Trailly of Woodford (fn. 16) and in 1284 William Trailly is said to have held the township of Denford of the Earl of Gloucester. (fn. 17) In 1285 the lands that had formerly been held by Walter and Gilbert Denford had passed to William Trailly and John de Tolthorp. (fn. 18) It seems fairly clear that John de Tolthorp held the half fee which Walter Denford held in 1242, since in or before 1326 his widow Maud died seised of a moiety of the manor of Denford, which was held as half a knight's fee. (fn. 19) Her heir was her son Gilbert (fn. 20) and his sons Gilbert and John both seem to have succeeded him. (fn. 21) John in 1353 quitclaimed all his right in the manor to Sir Richard Chamberlain, (fn. 22) who also obtained the third part, which Elizabeth, the wife of Ralph Beauchamp, held in dower. (fn. 23) In 1373 John Chamberlain and his wife Katherine, who seems to have had some right in the manor, quitclaimed it to Sir Richard Chamberlain, (fn. 24) on whose death his son and heir Richard assigned the manor to his mother Joan in dower. (fn. 25) She died seised in 1410 and it passed to her grandson, another Richard Chamberlain, (fn. 26) who granted it to certain feoffees. (fn. 27) In 1432 these feoffees granted it to John Gryffyn and William Aldwinkle, who were in seisin at the time of the death of Richard in 1439, (fn. 28) and of his son, a fourth Richard, in 1440. (fn. 29) Aldwinkle died before 1472, when his heir Thomas Lenton gave a release of the manor to a fifth Richard Chamberlain. (fn. 30) Another Richard, probably his son, died in 1496, leaving the manor in trust to be divided amongst his three sons, with remainder to his daughter Anne. (fn. 31) The next tenant, however, who appears is John Audlett, of Abingdon, Berks, who died seised of the manor in 1537. (fn. 32) His heirs were first said to be his cousins Ralph Edmunds and Margaret, wife of Ralph Tomson. (fn. 33) Edmunds sold his moiety to Katherine, the widow of Audlett, (fn. 34) and the Tomsons granted their moiety to her for life in satisfaction of her dower. (fn. 35) Later, William Boller, the true heir of Audlett, appeared and sold the manor to Katherine Audlett and her nephew Thomas Reade and his wife Anne. (fn. 36) After Boller's death, his daughter and heir Margaret and her husband, William Sergeant, tried to recover the manor. (fn. 37) An agreement, however, was reached in 1544 with the Reades, (fn. 38) whose descendants retained possession of the manor. (fn. 39) In 1661 Compton Reade was created a baronet, (fn. 40) but in the early years of the 18th century the manor was sold by Sir Thomas Reade to Joseph Diston, (fn. 41) who in 1719 resold it to Jeremiah Sambrooke. (fn. 42) It afterwards passed to John Freeman, who sold the manor in 1764 to Leonard Burton. (fn. 43) The trustees of Thomas Burton owned the manor in 1874, (fn. 44) and Mr. Thomas Freeman and Mr. George Keeble, J.P., are the chief landowners at the present day.
The other half fee in Denford seems to have been in the hands of Matthew the Butler in 1242, (fn. 45) but by the following year his heir or heirs had succeeded him. (fn. 46) His heirs possibly were Isolda, the wife of Brian Denford (fn. 47) and the wife of Ralph de Pulteney, as in 1262 Brian and Ralph were tenants here of the Earl of Gloucester. (fn. 48)
In 1285 Ralph de Pulteney (fn. 49) was living, but in 1314 he had been succeeded by William de Pulteney, (fn. 50) and in 1365 Isabella, daughter of William Pulteney, sold a messuage and lands to Sir Richard Chamberlain Knt. (fn. 51) Before 1425 a tenement called Pulteneys was in the hands of Richard Chamberlain, (fn. 52) who held the other moiety of Denford (q.v.), and though he granted it to Thomas Chamberlain and his wife Katherine, it seems probable that from this time the Chamberlains and their successors held the greater part at least of Matthew the Butler's half fee. (fn. 53) Brian Denford's share cannot be traced after 1285, when his son Robert had succeeded him. (fn. 54)
Another tenant of the Gloucester Fee in Denford before 1240 was Simon de Berughby, whose wife Alice (fn. 55) was possibly another heir of Matthew the Butler. Alice de Berughby was holding in 1262, (fn. 56) William and Hugh Berughby appear as tenants in 1285, (fn. 57) and John and Robert Berughby in 1314. (fn. 58) This may be the manor in Denford which, though not held in chief, is said to have been granted in 1374 or 5 by Edward III to Robert Ward. (fn. 59) The latter, with his wife Emma, conveyed it in 1410 or 11 to Thomas Cantlowe, (fn. 60) who granted it to William Aldwinkle. (fn. 61) The latter by will left it to his wife Elizabeth, who afterwards married William Chaumbre. (fn. 62) It seems, however, to have been in the hands of trustees, who sold it in 1488 to John Selyman, the chaplain of the chantry founded by Chaumbre in Aldwinkle church. (fn. 63) The lands of the chantry seem to have been seized by Henry VIII, who in 1546 granted the manor to Sir Edward Montagu. (fn. 64)
The Earls of Gloucester and their successors held a court leet and view of frankpledge for their tenants at Denford. (fn. 65) In 1616, Thomas Reade obtained a grant of free warren in his manor of Denford. (fn. 66)
In 1086, two mills at Denford, paying £2 10s. 8d. and 250 eels a year are mentioned, but it is not certain that both were in Denford itself. (fn. 67) A mill at Denford is mentioned in the reign of Henry III, (fn. 68) and again in 1537. (fn. 69)
A free-fishery in Denford was granted in 1545, by William Burton and his wife Joan, and Margaret Gale, widow, to Gilbert Pickering. (fn. 70)
The church of the HOLY TRINITY consists of chancel 31 ft. by 14 ft. 9 in., clearstoried nave of four bays, 49 ft. 4 in. by 21 ft. 6 in., north and south aisles each 10 ft. 6 in. wide, south porch, and west tower 12 ft. 6 in. by 12 ft., surmounted by a spire. All these measurements are internal.
The building belongs generally to the later part of the 13th century, c. 1275–90, but the lower stage of the tower and some other features appear to be rather earlier, and it is, therefore, not unlikely that the church was building during a rather protracted period, extending over the latter half of the century. In the 14th century, new windows were inserted in the south aisle, and the clearstory was added, but no material alteration was effected in the plan. The east window and two in the north aisle are 15thcentury insertions, and a window at the east end of the south aisle is about a century later. Originally, the north aisle extended some 20 ft. further eastward, covering the chancel for more than half its length, and forming a chapel with a vestry at its east end. The church was restored in 1864, and in 1897 the lower part of the tower, including the buttresses, was newly faced and the spire restored. In 1925, the east ends of both aisles were taken down and rebuilt, (fn. 71) the north aisle roof renewed and the roof of the nave repaired. The roofs are of low pitch, leaded to the aisles, slated to the nave and chancel.
The chancel is built of grey stone with an iron-stone band every fourth course, and has plain parapets and chamfered plinth, but no string course. The walls inside are plastered. The east window retains 13th-century moulded jambs and part of the early rear arch has been re-used, but is otherwise of 15th century date, of four trefoiled lights and Perpendicular tracery. Two late 13th-century windows remain in the south wall, one of three and the other of two lights, with tracery formed by the forking and intersection of the mullions. There is no window in the north wall, but a doorway (now blocked) with a drop arch and continuous roll moulding, led formerly into the vestry, from which there was a squint to the chancel. In the usual position on the south side is a rather plain 13th-century piscina, the bowl of which has been blocked. Originally the interior of the chancel was surrounded with trefoiled arcading. Two arches remain on the south side, and four on the north, with excellent filleted roll-mouldings and soffit cusping, on triple clustered shafts and single-shafted responds. The shafts stand clear of the wall and have moulded capitals and bases, and in the spandrels on the north side are sculptured faces, a man's and two women's. Of the northern arches, three are placed beneath a relieving arch in the wall, and in the tympanum thus formed, are four recesses, which may have been intended for acoustic purposes. (fn. 72) The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, the innermost carried on moulded corbels. There is no screen.
The nave arcades spring from piers composed of four attached shafts with moulded capitals, and from half-octagonal responds. The arches are of two chamfered orders. On the south side, the piers have moulded bases, but not on the north. The doorways of the aisles are of the 13th century; the northern has a simple chamfer, the southern is of two chamfered orders, the innermost on shafts with moulded capitals and chamfered bases, the shafts being new. The outer arch of the porch is of two chamfered orders on imposts, with tooth ornament in the hood mould. The windows of the aisles are of various dates. The easternmost window in the south wall and the westernmost in the north wall are of three lights and have the late 13th century intersecting tracery already described, and another at the east end of the north wall has three gradated lancets under a single arch with pierced spandrels. The west window of the north aisle is blocked, and the two 15th-century middle windows are of three trefoiled lights with vertical tracery. In the south aisle, on either side of the doorway, and at the west end, are rectangular openings with excellent mouldings and tracery of a late 14th century type, and the window at the east end of the aisle is four-centred and of three uncusped lights with vertical tracery. It appears to be a 16th-century insertion, at which time probably the east end of the north aisle was walled up, after the disuse or removal of the chapel. The south aisle appears to have been repaired at the end of the 14th century, as indicated by the character of the square-headed windows, and the parapet has fine gargoyles of this date. The clearstory windows are square-headed and of two trefoiled lights, but on the north side they were altered to plain single openings probably in the 18th century, the old rear arches being retained.
The tower is of two stages with massive double buttresses to half its height, and a vice in the southwest angle. The lower stage is of rubble, and the upper or bell-chamber story of dressed stone. The west doorway is a modern 13th-century restoration, but the tall lancet window above is original. The north and south sides of the lower stage are blank, and the bell-chamber stage sets back slightly. The windows consist of two grouped trefoiled lancets, with shafted jambs and moulded heads, with trefoil opening above, set between two blind lancets, the whole composition forming a triple arcade on each side, covering the greater part of the wall surface. The arch between the nave and tower is modern. The spire belongs to a type sometimes known as timber spires worked in masonry, and rises from behind a plain parapet with angle pinnacles, carried on a bold corbel table. The spire has ribbed angles, and two sets of gabled lights on its cardinal faces. At the level of the lower lights, it is ornamented with bands and strings.
The font and pulpit (fn. 73) are modern. The roofs also are modern throughout, but the corbels for the wall-pieces and some fragments of the timbers appear to be old. A bracket for an image remains in the south-east corner of the south aisle. The east end of the north aisle is screened off to form a vestry. The organ is under the tower arch.
There are six bells, the first by Thomas Norris of Stamford, 1629, the second by Robert Mott of Whitechapel, 1581, and the others by Matthew and Henry Bagley, of Chacomb, 1680. (fn. 74)
The plate consists of a silver cup of c. 1570, a paten inscribed 'Denford 1682,' and a cover paten of c. 1700. (fn. 75)
The advowson of the church of Denford appears to have been held by Hugh, Earl of Chester, (fn. 76) after the forfeiture by the Bishop of Coutances. Before 1100, the earl granted it to the abbey of St. Werburgh at Chester. (fn. 77) In 1394, it was obtained by Richard (le Scrope), Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, (fn. 78) who two years later appropriated it to his table, on condition that a vicarage was ordained. (fn. 79) Before 1535, the vicarage of Denford was united to the chapelry of Ringstead. (fn. 80) In 1551, Richard (Sampson), Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, leased the rectory and the advowson of Denford for a hundred years at a rent of £18 to Nicholas Williamson of Kingsthorpe and his wife Mary. (fn. 81) She married as her second husband, John Warde, and they were sued for the rent by Bishop Thomas (Bentham). (fn. 82) The property passed to Bridgit, apparently the daughter and heir of Nicholas, who married Thomas Williamson, presumably her cousin. (fn. 83) In 1588, Thomas and Bridgit, together with their son Nicholas and his wife Anne, sold the rectory to Lewis, Lord Mordaunt, (fn. 84) whose descendants owned the advowson and rectory till after 1681, (fn. 85) whether still as leaseholders of the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield or as freeholders does not appear. They were probably sold after the death of Henry, the last Earl of Peterborough, in 1697. (fn. 86) In 1720, the rectory was sold by William Freind, clerk, and his wife Bridgit, Mary Cleter, widow, and Stephen Ashby to Jeremiah Sambrook, (fn. 87) who had recently bought the manor (q.v.). He presented to the vicarage in 1752, (fn. 88) and both advowson and rectory passed with the manor in 1764 to Leonard Burton (fn. 89) and his descendants.
Before 1874, Miss Leggatt was patron of the living. (fn. 90) In 1898 it belonged to S. G. Stopford Sackville of Drayton House, Thrapston, and is now owned by Mr. Nigel Stopford Sackville.
Church Estate. There is no documentary evidence of the origin of this charity. The property consists of meadowland containing about 4 acres and 4 cottages with gardens, the whole producing £31 13s. yearly which is applied to church expenses.
Three cottages and a garden situate in Pegg's Lane were sold in 1916 and the proceeds invested in £211 10s. 1d. 5 per cent. War Stock with the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds. The dividends on this sum are invested in augmentation of the principal.