A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1930.
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The parish of Hemington covers an area of 1,354 acres and stands at an average height of 200 ft. above the ordnance datum. The subsoil is Oxford clay with cornbrash in the east. The upper soil varies. About a third of the land is laid down as grass and the remainder, except for about 15 acres of woodland, is arable land producing barley and wheat.
A road leading from Great Gidding to Polebrook goes through the village past Hemington Lodge, and the vicarage, church and school. North of the school a branch road goes eastwards past the remains of the old Manor House, which survived as two tenements in 1888. This, the second Northamptonshire home of the Montagus, was surrounded by a moat, inclosing 8 acres. The last member of the family who lived here was Elizabeth Harington, widow of the second Sir Edward Montagu, known as 'The Blind Lady Montagu.' (fn. 1) Dean Swift, writing to the Duke of Montagu in 1713, nearly a hundred years after this lady's death, said, 'I was at Hemmington according to your order, and found no mansion house there, and was informed it had been pulled down about 30 years before.' (fn. 2) The population of Hemington numbered 106 persons in 1921.
Part of HEMINGTON was given with Barnwell St. Andrew (q.v.) to Ramsey Abbey by Ethelric Bishop of Dorchester. The gift consisted of 3 hides and 2 virgates of land. (fn. 3) The area by 1086 and in the 12th century had fallen to 2½ hides. (fn. 4) The tenants in fee holding of the Abbot as at Barnwell St. Andrew (q.v.) were the le Moynes (fn. 5) until Abbot William de Godmanchester purchased the manor with Barnwell in 1276. (fn. 6) In 1293 Abbot Sawtry appropriated Hemington to the uses of the Abbey cellar. (fn. 7) After the Dissolution the Crown in 1540 granted the manor to Sir Edward Montagu, Chief Justice of the King's Bench. (fn. 8) From 1540 the manor descended with Barnwell St. Andrew (q.v.), but the Duke of Buccleuch did not sell it with that manor in 1913, and is still owner. (fn. 9)
Another fee in Hemington, also 2½ hides, the soke of which lay in Oundle, was held of the abbot of Peterborough by three knights in the 11th and 12th centuries. (fn. 10) The overlordship of the abbey over these lands continued to the Dissolution. (fn. 11)
In the reign of Henry I, one of the three knights had been succeeded by Richard Fitz Gilbert, (fn. 12) who has been identified with the son of Gislebert Favel, a tenant of the abbey in 1086. (fn. 13) Richard's holding comprising a hide and 1½ virgate formed the nucleus of the manor of Hemington parcel of the manor of Southorpe which was held of the abbey. (fn. 14) Between 1173 and 1176 Ivo, son of Geoffrey de Gunthorpe and Richard his brother, probably the sons of Geoffrey de Southorpe, (fn. 15) and John de Hemington, confirmed the church of Hemington to the Priory of St. Neots. (fn. 16) The same John contributed towards an aid at the end of the 12th century. (fn. 17) He was succeeded by Richard de Hemington, said to be his son, whose wife was Amice. (fn. 18) Their son John in 1232 acknowledged the right of the daughters of Robert de Hemington to lands in Hemington. (fn. 19) He was succeeded by his son Richard (living 1277), (fn. 20) who in 1254 obtained licence from the bishop of Lincoln to have a chapel and chantry without burial, font or belfry, except one bell for the elevation of the Host, at his manor. (fn. 21) He confirmed the advowson of the church of Hemington to St. Neots Priory in 1269. (fn. 22) Possibly the relict of his son or grandson, Richard de Hemington, Joan, then wife of a Colville, settled lands in Hemington, which she had of Gilbert son of Simon, and Joan, daughter of Simon de Hemington, on her children, Roger (who had a son John), Richard (who had a son Richard, who married Divorgela), and Elizabeth. (fn. 23) John, son of Richard de Hemington, did homage to the Abbot of Peterborough in 1290, when he was aged seven years. (fn. 24) This John had two sons, Richard and John (who had a son Thomas, mentioned in 1367). (fn. 25) Richard and his wife Joan were living in 1329 and 1345. (fn. 26) Probably Joan held the manor in dower, as we find that in 1350 Roger Hyrst held for the term of the life of his wife of the inheritance of Richard de Hemington, a third part of a fee in Hemington. (fn. 27) Richard and Joan had two sons, Richard Hemington (living in 1361, 1374), who married Margerie, and John (living in 1361), whose wife was Joan. Richard and Margerie seem to have had a son John, who with his wife Joan was living in 1401. (fn. 28) It seems probable that they had a son Richard, as Katherine, daughter and heir of Richard Hemington, settled the manor in 1424 (fn. 29) on her marriage with John Kirkby, (fn. 30) who was holding three parts of a knight's fee in Hemington formerly of Roger Hyrst of the abbot of Peterborough. (fn. 31) Before 1455 the manor had fallen to the coheirs of Katherine lady of Hemington. In that year William Inglefield and his wife Agnes with William Elyngton and his wife Joan conveyed a third of the manor to Henry Ehen, chaplain, and others. (fn. 32) A settlement of another third was made in 1456 by Richard Blogwyn, son and heir of Margaret Blogwyn, one of the coheirs of Katherine, and his wife Alice. (fn. 33) A moiety of the remaining third belonged ten years later to Henry Wytlessy. (fn. 34) The manor of Hemington became settled upon William Est the elder, with remainders to his sons William and Robert in tail male. Alice, widow of the elder William, had a life interest, and she and her second husband, John Dann, held the manor. William the younger married Anne Montgomery, upon whom a settlement was made, and they had an only child Anne. His widow Anne married Thomas Dykons and in 1489 Alice and Anne and their husbands brought an action against Robert Est, described as of London, draper, who as heir male under the settlement had sold his interest to Thomas Montagu. The dispute was compromised and all parties, together with John Heryng and Anne his wife, apparently the daughter of William Est the younger, quitclaimed their interests to Thomas Montagu. (fn. 35) Thomas died in 1517, having settled Hemington in tail male on his eldest son Edward with remainder to a younger son John. (fn. 36) From this date the manor has followed the descent of the chief manor.
The second of the three Peterborough knights in Hemington in the reign of Henry I was Guy Maufé, whose share in the fee was half a hide and half a virgate. (fn. 37) He was the heir and probably the son of Roger 'Malfed,' the abbot's Domesday tenant at Woodford, (fn. 38) whom he had succeeded in 1114. He and his wife Adeliza granted tithes to Peterborough in 1141. (fn. 39) He was succeeded by Simon, possibly his son, who with Alexander Maufé had some right to the advowson about 1176. (fn. 40) The Maufé fee followed the descent of Woodford (q.v.) and about 1254 was divided among the four daughters of Robert Maufé. The small holding in Hemington seems to have been acquired by Thorney Abbey, Peterborough Abbey and Richard de Hemington, and in the 16th century came to Thomas and Edward Montagu. (fn. 41)
A share in the Peterborough fee equal to that of Guy Maufé belonged to Reginald le Moyne in the reign of Henry I. (fn. 44) This seems to be the so-called manor said to have been conveyed by Berengar le Moyne in the 13th century to Sir Richard de Hemington, (fn. 45) but in 1315 a later Reginald le Moyne still held the sixth of a knight's fee in Hemington and Littlethorp of the abbot of Peterborough. (fn. 46)
Two landowners in Hemington whose names appear in the return of 1316 are John Sandon and John Cardoun. (fn. 47) John Cardoun was at the same date one of the lords of Thurning with Winwick, then in the county of Huntingdon, (fn. 48) and either he or his heir of the same name in 1330 defended his right to take toll of carts passing through Winwick to avoid the difficult transit by the highway through Thurning and Hemington. (fn. 49) John Sandon may possibly be the Essex landowner of that name in 1303. (fn. 50)
In 1291 there was a mill on the Ramsey Abbey land in Hemington. (fn. 51)
The church of ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL stands on the south side of the village and consists of chancel 24 ft. 6 in. by 16 ft. 2 in., nave 38 ft. 6 in. by 19 ft. 4 in., south porch, and west tower 8 ft. 8 in. by 9 ft. 6 in., all these measurements being internal. With the exception of the tower, which is of late 15th century date, very little ancient work survives, the old chancel and nave having been pulled down in 1666 and a new building erected by Lord Montagu consisting of a rectangular body measuring 38 ft. by 19 ft., (fn. 52) with square-headed windows taken from the ruins of the old manor-house. (fn. 53) The church remained in that condition until 1872, when the nave was restored and a chancel and south porch added. (fn. 54) The new work is in the style of the 14th century, but the chancel arch is said to be a reproduction of an arch which had formerly existed and of which a few stones had been built into the walls. (fn. 55) These stones are of early 13th century date, and include the two respond capitals, which have nailhead ornament, and part of a moulded base. The arch itself, which is almost wholly modern, is of two chamfered orders. New windows in the 14th century style were inserted in the nave in place of the old square-headed windows, but the 17th century roundheaded south doorway remains. The chancel is faced with ashlar and has a slated eaved roof. The nave retains its 17th century open-timber roof of four bays, with turned pendants to the tie beams. It is covered with grey Colleyweston slates.
The tower is of grey rubble masonry in four stages, with embattled parapet and diagonal buttresses. Above the west doorway is a square panel with the arms of Montagu, and the west window is of three cinquefoiled lights, with four-centered head and hoodmould. The mullions and tracery are new. The bell-chamber windows are also four-centered and of two plain pointed lights. The lofty tower-arch is of two chamfered orders dying into the wall. There is no vice.
The font is of late 12th or early 13th century date, and consists of an octagonal bowl and circular moulded stem, in which the nail-head ornament occurs. The shorter sides of the bowl have carved heads in their upper part.
In the chancel are ten oak stalls, five on each side, of late 15th century date, said to have come from Fotheringhay church. (fn. 56) All retain their carved misericords the subjects of which are as follows:— North side: (1) dragon, (2) crown, (3) hawk in fetterlock, (4) publican with jug, (5) mermaid; South side: (6) owl, (7) tailed beast in monk's hood, (8) tumbler, (9) two boars saltire-wise, (10) helm and mantling. The four end counters have traceried designs, and carvings of a rose, boar, crown, and hawk in fetterlock. The knops are also carved.
At the east end of the nave is a floor slab with brass figures of Thomas Montagu and his wife Agnes (Dudley), and a shield in each of the four corners. The male figure is bareheaded, with long flowing hair and wears a large cloak and gown edged with fur; the lady is habited in a tight-fitting gown and wears a pedimental headdress. The inscription records that Montagu died 5 September, 1517. (fn. 57)
A glass panel with the arms of Montagu is in one of the south windows of the nave. (fn. 58)
There are four bells in the tower, the treble by J. Taylor & Co., of Loughborough, 1872, the second by Thomas Eayre of Kettering, 1724, the third a recasting by Taylor in 1908 of a bell dated 1598, inscribed 'Cum voco ad ecclesiam venite,' (fn. 59) and the tenor undated, but inscribed 'Obe the Prince.' There is a pit for a fifth bell.
The plate consists of a cup and cover paten of about 1683, and a paten and flagon of 1699 presented by Robert Wells and Alice his wife, 'who designe to be Buried in this church by their only son Robert, who died ye 12th of Novr. 1685.' (fn. 60) There is also a brass alms dish.
The advowson of the church, dedicated to St. Peter, at least as early as 1254, (fn. 61) but since 1786 to St. Peter and St. Paul, (fn. 62) was given, with a virgate of land in the parish, to the monks of St. Neot's by Thurstan, the priest of Hemington, in 1149, on the condition that after his death Roger, his son, should hold it for life. (fn. 63) Between 1173 and 1182 the prior and monks were inducted into the church by order of Geoffrey, Bishop elect of Lincoln, Roger, then priest, retaining possession in the name of the monks and paying them 2s. a year. (fn. 64) Although Thurstan's grant had thus obtained episcopal sanction and was ratified by the several tenants of the abbot of Peterborough in the parish, [see above] the Priory was not undisturbed by rival claimants. The Ramsey Cartulary preserves a bull of Pope Alexander III which confirms Hemington with its church to the Abbey, (fn. 65) and at a later date the abbot of Peterborough laid claim to the advowson. (fn. 66) The dispute between the Priory and Abbey was finally settled in 1219 when the prior surrendered his right to the church of Clapton on condition that the abbot gave up the advowson of Hemington to him and paid him the ancient and due pension which he was wont to receive from Clapton. (fn. 67) It was amongst the possessions of St. Neot's Priory at its surrender (fn. 68) and was included in the grant of Luddington (q.v.) to Sir Edward Montagu in 1544. From that date the rectory and advowson followed the descent of the manor (fn. 69) until 1920, when the Duke of Buccleuch conveyed them to Mr. Benjamin Measures.
A vicarage was ordained during the episcopacy of Hugh de Welles (1206–35). (fn. 70)
The rectory belonged to the Priory of St. Neot's until 1539 (fn. 71) and in 1544 was granted to Sir Edward Montagu with the advowson (q.v.) with which it has since descended.
In the 14th century the Priory of St. James, or Hinchinbrooke Priory, near Huntingdon, owned certain tithes in Hemington which were leased to Sir Edward Montagu for £1 4s. a year at its surrender. (fn. 72)