A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1930.
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Warkton parish, covering an area of 1,921 acres, rises from the eastern bank of the River Ise to a height of 338 ft. above ordnance datum. The soil is of limestone, clay and red loam, and is, and in mediæval time was, for the greater part under pasture. The village stands on the brow of a hill and from it fine avenues of trees run in the direction of Weekley and Grafton Underwood. These avenues the parish owes to John, Duke of Montagu, known as Duke John the Planter, from the miles of such avenues he planted in this and adjoining parishes. Buried beneath the road at the east end of the bridge over the Ise, is a medieval arch (? 14th century) which originally crossed the stream, the old course of which can still be seen in the field to the south of the road.
The church lies in the centre of the village, and the houses are grouped for the most part in its vicinity. Opposite the church, on the other side of the main road, is the rectory, which was built by the Duke of Buccleuch in the middle of the 19th century to replace the old thatched rectory house then pulled down, which occupied a lower and less favourable position. In 1922 the ecclesiastical parish of Warkton was united to that of Weekley under the name of Warkton-cum-Weekley. The incumbent of the united benefices resides at Weekley, and the rectory house at Warkton with part of the glebe was in the same year sold to Mr. Charles Edward Lamb, who has since occupied the house. To the north of the church is the school built in 1867 by the Duke of Buccleuch. Even in this somewhat remote spot the effects of the Civil War were being felt in 1643. Nicholas Estwick, rector of Warkton, in a letter to Edward Montagu prays that peace may come, adding 'We do already taste the miseries of Civil War.' (fn. 1)
Bridges writes of a close with a petrifying spring, where a petrified human skull was found, and of two quarries of excellent stone. In the west of the parish is a long and deep trench. Just over the southern boundary is Warkton Spinney, and in the south is Warkton Lodge, while Cinquefoil Lodge is in the east.
An Inclosure Act was passed in 1807, and an award made in 1810, when an allotment was made for tithes. The common and open fields in the parish and manor were then about 1,300 acres in extent. The glebe lands were 34 acres; the inclosed glebe land, including the churchyard, was 3 acres in extent. (fn. 2)
Before the Conquest WARKTON was the property of Ælgifu, wife of Earl Ælfgar and mother of Earl Morcar. It was given to the abbey of Bury St. Edmund by Queen Maud, wife of the Conqueror, (fn. 3) and continued to be held with other possessions of Ælfgar which the abbey acquired in Scaldwell, Boughton and East Farndon. (fn. 4) In the Domesday Survey it was entered in Navisland hundred among the lands of St. Edmund, held by the abbot himself of the king, and it had risen in value from £7 to £8. There were 3½ hides there, a mill and woodlands 3 furlongs in length and 2 in breadth. (fn. 5) In the 12th century Northamptonshire Survey 4 hides in Warkton were entered in Northnavisland as held of the fee of St. Edmund. (fn. 6) At the end of the 12th century the abbot of St. Edmundsbury conveyed the manor to Ernald de Herlaw, who in 1201 reconveyed it to Samson abbot of St. Edmundsbury for 60 marks, giving an undertaking to burn the charter made to him by the abbot. (fn. 7)
The soke of Warkton comprised the lands of the abbot of St. Edmundsbury in the district, perhaps those which had been held by Ælfgar. It was divided into the In-Soke and the Foreign-Soke. The In-Soke included Warkton, Boughton and Geddington, and the Foreign-Soke Scaldwell, Houghton next Scaldwell (Hanging Houghton), Lamport, Kilmarsh and Maidwell, Clipston, Braybrook, Ugthorp, East Farndon and Arthingworth. (fn. 8) All the tenants owed suit at the abbot's court of Warkton, but the tenants of the In-Soke paid a rent and had many services to perform, particularly when the abbot visited the manor. The tenants of the Foreign Soke mostly paid a rent for all services. (fn. 9) The abbot had his hall here as early as the 12th century, at which his steward lived, and here the abbot had a miraculous preservation from fire in 1186. (fn. 10)
In the early part of the 13th century a dispute arose between the abbot of Peterborough and the abbot of St. Edmundsbury regarding the manor of Warkton, which the former claimed to be within his seven hundreds. It was agreed that the bailiff of the seven hundreds should have supervision of the view of frankpledge and St. Edmundsbury should pay a mark yearly for quittance of all claims by Peterborough. (fn. 11) There were courts and halimotes at Warkton. The native tenants had to pay the usual fines for marrying their daughters or for their sons frequenting the schools and also for leyrwite. The abbot of St. Edmundsbury was quit of regard of the forest by charter of 1171, confirmed at later dates. (fn. 12) There seems to have been a flourishing community of tradesmen in the 13th century at Warkton. We have mention of William the Carpenter, who paid a capon for his shop; Richard de Pit for two salt pans, three capons; Richard the Smith for his smithy, two capons; Robert le Iremonger 12d; Richard at the Bridge over the Ise, 6d.; and John Confort who held a messuage near the Cross. (fn. 13)
Warkton was included in a list of manors appropriated to the cellarers of the abbey for which custodians were appointed in 1215. (fn. 14)
In 1284 the abbot of St. Edmund held Warkton in pure alms of the king in chief, (fn. 15) and in 1291 he received from it the considerable sum of £22 15s. 5¼d. (fn. 16) The abbot was having difficulties with his tenants about rights of common and other matters early in the 14th century, and possibly as a result of these disputes he leased the manor, excepting the advowson of the church and view of frankpledge, in 1312 to the homage of the court of Warkton for 12 years at a rent of £80 a year. (fn. 17) The abbot obtained a grant of free warren in 1330 (fn. 18) and proved his claim to view of frankpledge and weyf in the Manor (fn. 19) from time immemorial.
In 1414 William Cratefeld, abbot of St. Edmundsbury, leased the manor for ten years to Thomas, Earl of Dorchester, at a rent of £25 a year, and in 1417 the Earl, who had been created Duke of Exeter, wrote complaining that the abbot had arrested his farmer of the lands for arrears of rent due from him. (fn. 20)
The abbey of Bury St. Edmunds continued to hold the manor until the Dissolution, when in 1535 it was in lease to Thomas Lane for a rent of £32. On 20 March 1541, the manor and advowson of the rectory of Warkton, together with its soke, as part of the late possessions of the abbey, with all the lands of the abbey in Warkton, were granted for life to Sir Edward Montagu, Chief Justice of the King's Bench, (fn. 21) to whom on surrender of this patent a fresh grant was made in fee on 18 March 1542. (fn. 22) Lands in Warkton were granted with the manors of Holwell, Brixworth, Lamport, Hanging Houghton, etc., by Robert Burdon of Hanging Houghton and his wife Joan, and Robert Burdon, junior, to Sir Edward Montagu in 1541. (fn. 23)
The manor seems to have been settled on Ellen the third wife of Sir Edward Montagu, Lord Chief Justice, who in 1557 leased it to her son Edward. (fn. 24) It descended to Sir Walter Montagu, kt., younger son of Sir Edward Montagu and grandson of the Lord Chief Justice, who in 1604 settled it on his second wife Ann. He died without issue in 1616, his wife Ann surviving him, and his heir being his brother, Sir Edward Montagu, (fn. 25) created Lord Montagu of Boughton in 1621. His grandson Ralph was created Duke of Montagu in 1705, and his son, the second Duke, died in 1749, leaving two daughters, Isabel and Mary. Warkton went to the latter, who married George Brudenell, who was created Duke of Montagu in 1766, with special remainder to his grandson Henry James Scott, son of Henry Scott, Duke of Buccleuch, and Elizabeth, daughter of the first Duke of Montagu. He succeeded as Duke of Buccleuch in 1812 and the manor has descended with the dukedom to the present day. (fn. 26)
The church of ST. EDMUND consists of chancel 36 ft. 8 in. by 18 ft. 6 in., clearstoried nave 35 ft. 8 in. by 14 ft. 9 in., north and south aisles 15 ft. wide, south porch, and west tower 11 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. The width across nave and aisles is 51 ft. 6in.
The nave arcades are of two bays: they appear to have been originally of the latter part of the 12th century, but have been very much restored. The two semicircular arches on each side are of a single square order and spring from a cylindrical pier with moulded base and square abacus, and from plain imposts at either end: the eastern respond on the north side has a roll moulding at the angles, but the others are square. The arches, however, in their present form may date only from the 18th century, at the time of the rebuilding of the chancel. In Bridges' time the old chancel was standing: it had buttresses at the east end and 'four stone seats' in the south wall near the altar. (fn. 27) On the north side the first Duke of Montagu, who died in 1709, had built a 'place of sepulture for himself and family,' (fn. 28) and some forty years later, after the death of the second duke in 1749, the chancel was entirely rebuilt in the style of the day. It has four large recesses for monuments, two on each side, and a wide round-headed east window: externally it is faced with ashlar, and has a high parapet and a pediment at the east end. The burial place is entered from the east end of the north aisle, and covers the chancel about half its length.
The aisles were rebuilt and the clearstory added in the 14th century, but were completely restored in 1867–8. They have plain parapets and leaded roofs, but all the aisle windows are modern, and those of the clearstory, which are square-headed and of two trefoiled lights, extensively renewed. The moulded south doorway, however, is original, and a buttress with triangular head remains at the north-west angle. In the south aisle is a 14th-century piscina with fluted bowl. The pointed chancel arch dates from 1867. In 1872 a vestry was added at the east end of the south aisle, partly covering the chancel. The 15th-century porch has been rebuilt: it has plain parapets, leaded roof and outer moulded doorway with hood.
The tower was built in the middle of the 15th century, and is of four stages, with broad angle buttress of square section and vertical outline, and a vice in the south-west angle. At the foot of the buttresses above the plinth is a band of quatrefoils, as at Kettering, and another band above the west doorway. The doorway has continuous mouldings, and is set within a rectangular frame with traceried spandrels: over it is a three-light pointed window with embattled transom. The three lower stages are blank on the north and south sides, but in the third stage facing west is a square-headed loop, and on the east a doorway formerly opening on to the nave roof. The bell-chamber windows are of two-lights with embattled transom and a quatrefoil in the head, and the tower finishes with a band of quatrefoils and battlemented parapet with tall angle pinnacles. The height to the top of the pinnacles is 70 ft. The arch to the nave is of three chamfered orders, the inner springing from half-round responds.
The monuments in the chancel are of more than local interest, and of their kind are fine examples of the sculptural art of the period. In the western recess of the north wall is that of John, 2nd Duke of Montagu (d. 1749), by Roubiliac, with an allegorical group of Charity and her nurslings exhibiting a medallion of the duke to the mourning duchess. Opposite, in the south wall, is a group of the three Fates, also by Roubiliac, commemorating the duke's widow Mary Churchill (d. 1751), fourth daughter of the first Duke of Marlborough. The second monument on the north side is to the memory of Mary, Duchess of Montagu (d. 1775), youngest daughter and co-heir of the second duke, and takes the form of an allegorical group within an architectural setting designed by Robert Adam, the sculpture executed by Peter Matthias Van Gelder. It was erected by her husband George, Duke of Montagu and 4th Earl of Cardigan, who survived her 15 years, dying in 1790, when the dukedom became extinct. The remaining recess on the south side is filled by a seated statue, by Thomas Campbell, of Elizabeth Montagu, widow of Henry, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, who died 1827, erected by her grandson Walter Francis, 5th Duke of Buccleuch.
At the east end of the south arcade, below the arch, is a wall monument, with shield of arms and rhyming inscription, to Thomas Johnson, 1657. (fn. 29)
There are five bells, the first and second by J. Taylor and Co., of Loughborough, 1887; the third by T. and J. Eayre, of Kettering, 1718; the fourth by Thomas Eayre, 1761, and the tenor by Hugh Watts II, of Leicester, 1638. (fn. 30)
The plate consists of a paten without marks inscribed 'Given to the parish of Warckton, Northtonsheir An. dom. 1683,' and a modern mediæval cup and paten of 1868, given in 1876. There are also a pewter flagon and breadholder. (fn. 31)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms and burials 1559–1741, marriages 1559–1740; (ii) baptisms 1742–1812, marriages 1742–1756, burials 1741–1812; (iii) marriages 1756–1812. The churchwardens' accounts begin in 1769.
The church was held with the manor by the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, and appears before 1191 in a list of churches of manors belonging to the abbey as worth 10 marks yearly. (fn. 32)
Edward Hunt, by his will proved at Northampton 7 Dec. 1674, gave land in the parish of Broughton for the benefit of the poor of certain parishes. The land, which consisted of a farm of 64 acres, was sold in 1921 and the proceeds invested in stock with the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds. The stock has now been apportioned in the Official Trustees' books between the parishes interested and the sums of £19 4s. 4d. Derby Corporation 6 per cent. Redeemable Stock and £19 8s. 1d. Middlesbrough Corporation 6 per cent. Stock, producing together £2 6s. 4d. yearly, represent the endowment of the charity for this parish. The income is distributed in money by the minister, churchwardens and overseers to about 12 poor.
By a Deed of Trust dated 28 Dec. 1922, Mrs. Elizabeth Panther established a charity comprising a sum of £178 0s. 8d. 2½ per cent. Consols vested in the Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance. The income is applicable by the rector and churchwardens for the maintenance of the Sunday school, and, subject thereto, for the maintenance of the fabric of the church.