A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1937.
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Holecote (xi–xiv cent.); Hulcota (xii cent.); Hochecota (xiii cent.); Hocott (xviii cent.).
The parish of Holcot comprises 1,399 acres. The soil is red loam, the subsoil stone. The ground slopes towards the east and south, from about 270 ft. to about 300 ft. A branch of the Northampton and Kettering road leads north-westwards through the parish to Holcot village, which clusters about the meeting-place of this branch road and roads to Moulton, Brixworth, and Walgrave. The church and a Methodist chapel stand in the village.
At the time of the Domesday Survey Hugh held of the Countess Judith 1 hide and 1½ virgates of land in HOLCOT which were worth 20s. (fn. 3) This overlordship afterwards passed with Countess Judith's holding in Yardley Hastings (q.v.). The 12th-century survey states that 1 hide and 2 small virgates of land in Holcot were of the fee of her successor in that place, David I of Scotland. (fn. 4) The manor was held as the fourth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 5) In 1349, when it was extended as worth 20s. a year and said to lie in Wold and Holcot, it formed part of the dower of Agnes, Lady Pembroke; (fn. 6) in 1376 part of that of Anne, Lady Pembroke. (fn. 7)
The mesne tenants of part of this holding were for a time a family named Vitor. In 1241 the service due by Simon Vitor for the moiety of the fourth part of a knight's fee in Draughton and Holcot was assigned to Henry de Hastings and his wife Ada, (fn. 8) and in the following year Simon and his partners (participes) held a quarter fee in Holcot. (fn. 9) Simon's successor was his son John, (fn. 10) and Roger Vitor was one of the tenants of a quarter fee in Wold and Holcotin 1325 (fn. 11) and 1349. (fn. 12) He seems to have died about 1366, (fn. 13) after which date this family disappears. Geoffrey, son of Philip, who held part of this quarter fee in 1323, (fn. 14) was probably identical with Geoffrey Garnel, who held it in 1325 with Roger Vitor. Yet another mesne tenant in 1325 (fn. 15) was the Abbot of Pipewell, who is mentioned in 1376 as the sole mesne tenant of this quarter fee, for which he paid a rent of 20s. a year, (fn. 16) its full value by the extent of 1349. At the time of its dissolution, the abbey was receiving a rent of 18s. a year from Holcot. (fn. 17) In 1546, lands in Holcot, in the tenure of John Hyll and lately of Pipewell Abbey, were granted to George Rythe and Thomas Grantham of Lincoln's Inn. (fn. 18) If any manorial rights had belonged to this property they had probably lapsed long before this date.
The Domesday Survey states that 2 hides and 2½ virgates of land in HOLCOT belonged to the manor of Brixworth. (fn. 19) In the 12th-century survey this holding is described as 2½ hides and 1 small virgate of the fee of William de Courcy. (fn. 20) The overlordship passed with that of Brixworth (q.v.) to the earls of Aumale. The mesne tenancy also coincided with that of Brixworth (q.v.), until it came to Sir James Harrington, knight, who died in 1497, leaving as his heirs ten daughters, of whom Alice (fn. 21) married Ralph Standish of Standish. (fn. 22) Probably, therefore, this holding or part of it passed to Thomas Chipsey, grocer of Northampton, who at his death in 1544 was said to be seised of a manor of Holcot and certain lands there called Standish Lands and Campion's Lands. The latter may have derived their name from William Campion, who held in Holcot between 1515 and 1530, having succeeded his father John son of Thomas Campion. (fn. 23) Thomas Chipsey's heirs were his daughters, Agnes wife of Edmund Kaysho and Joan wife of Thomas Knight, (fn. 24) but in 1541 he had conveyed lands in Holcot, which probably included his reputed manor, and lands and a rent elsewhere to the mayor of Northampton and other trustees to 'provide an honest and sufficient learned master or person to teach grammar within the town of Northampton'. This was the foundation of Northampton Grammar School. (fn. 25)
The church of ST. MARY AND ALL SAINTS stands on the west side of the village and consists of chancel, 27 ft. by 15 ft. 6 in.; clerestoried nave, 45 ft. by 14 ft. 2 in.; north and south aisles, 10 ft. 6 in. and 12 ft. 8 in. wide respectively; south porch; and embattled west tower, 11 ft. 8 in. square, all these measurements being internal. There is an organ-chamber on the north side of the chancel.
The west end of the south aisle is of 13th-century date, and retains two windows of that period, a single lancet in the west wall, and a double lancet with single hood-mould in the south wall west of the porch. (fn. 26) The south doorway is also of this date; it has a pointed arch of two square orders on moulded imposts, the outer jambs being chamfered and the inner square. The chancel and nave were rebuilt about 1350 and the tower somewhat later, though the upper part may have been reconstructed in the 15th century when the clerestory and the porch were added. In 1845 the chancel was restored, its roof heightened, and a vestry built on the north side: the nave was restored and re-roofed in 1889, a west gallery removed, the tower arch opened out, and the vestry turned into an organ-chamber.
There is not sufficient evidence to determine the extent of the 13th-century church, but a portion of string-course in the east wall of the south aisle, similar to that of the west end, suggests that the aisle was then the same length as now. The south aisle is 2 ft. wider than the north.
The building is of rubble, with modern slated lowpitched roof to the chancel and embattled parapets to nave and south aisle. The north aisle parapet is plain. The chancel has a modern east window of three lights and on the south side two square-headed three-light windows. The north wall is blank except for a modern arch to the organ-chamber. Below the south-west window are the remains of what may have been a lowside window. (fn. 27) There is a piscina but no sedilia: the chancel arch is of two chamfered orders on responds composed of three half-rounds with moulded capitals and bases. A wrought iron screen and gates, of 17thcentury domestic workmanship, were fixed at the chancel arch in 1921.
The nave arcades consist of three pointed arches of two chamfered orders, springing from piers composed of four half-rounds with small attached shafts between, with moulded capitals and bases. The capitals on the north and south sides differ in design and the responds are simple half-rounds. The two windows in the south aisle resemble those in the chancel, but only one retains its 14th-century tracery. In the north aisle are two pointed windows of two cinquefoiled lights with quatrefoils in the head, and a three-light window with modern reticulated tracery. The east window of the aisle, which has reticulated tracery, now opens to the organ-chamber. The north doorway is blocked. The clerestory has four square-headed windows of two trefoiled lights on each side.
The tower is of three stages with moulded plinth and flat clasping buttresses two-thirds of its height. The west window is modern, but on the south side is an original quatrefoil opening within a circle. The pointed bell-chamber windows are of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head. There is a vice in the southwest angle. The tower arch is very lofty, of two moulded orders to the nave, the inner resting on halfround responds with moulded capitals and bases. The tower was repaired in 1922.
The font is of 14th-century date with circular moulded bowl and modern shafted stem. The staples of the cover remain. At the west end of the south aisle are the remains of a wall painting discovered in 1889. (fn. 28) Recently numerous other paintings have been discovered, mainly of 14th-century date. Adjoining the earlier find is a much-defaced subject which probably portrays the Incredulity of St. Thomas. Near the south door is the Resurrection. In the nave are various fragments mostly of post-Reformation date. In the north aisle is a finely executed Martyrdom of St. Thomas of Canterbury, depicted with an unusual fidelity to historical detail. Other subjects are St. Catherine before the Emperor, a group of Apostles, and several scenes difficult to identify. On the splays of the windows are single figures of saints, including St. Andrew, while the soffits of the window arches are decorated with a bold scroll pattern in red. There are many evidences of later schemes superimposed on these paintings. The work is of considerable artistic merit, the figure drawing and manipulation of the draperies being most accomplished. The pulpit and other fittings are modern, but some Elizabethan woodwork is preserved on the sill of the east window of the south aisle. (fn. 29) There are also fragments of the 15th-century rood-screen. A Jacobean altar table, removed from the chancel in 1933, has been placed in the south aisle.
There is a scratch dial adjoining the south doorway, A piece of lead, formerly on the nave roof, on which is cut a man's head and date 1666, has now been framed and hangs in the church. The royal arms of Queen Anne, dated 1711, on canvas, hang over the chancel arch. In the sanctuary is a 17th-century oak chest.
There are four bells, the treble by Henry Penn of Peterborough 1703, the second a recasting by Taylor in 1899 of a late medieval bell inscribed: 'Huius sancti Petri', the third by Edward Newcombe of Leicester, and the tenor by Taylor of Loughborough 1899. (fn. 30)
The plate consists of a silver cup and paten of 1834 given by Robert Onebye Walker, a silver-gilt paten given about 1920, and a silver-plated flagon. There are also two pewter plates and a pewter flagon. (fn. 31) A silver chalice and paten were presented in 1934 by the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. A Sacrament house was cut in the north wall of the chancel in 1933 and framed with old woodwork from a reredos formerly in the chapel of Magdalen College School, Brackley.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1559–99, baptisms 1600–40, 1662–1762, marriages 1600–39, 1662–81, 1695–1705, 1716–54, burials 1600–41, 1662–1762; (ii) baptisms and burials 1764–1812; (iii) marriages 1755–1812. In 1638 sixty persons are recorded to have died of the plague. The churchwardens' accounts begin in 1776.
The stump of an old cross, formerly in the rector's paddock, at the corner of the road leading to Walgrave, was removed to the churchyard in December 1885 and placed opposite the porch.
The church of Holcot evidently belonged to the fee held by David I in the 12th century, for it passed to Roger Murdack, who was King David's tenant in Edgcote (q.v.) under Henry II. In 1223 Roger's son and heir Thomas stated that his father had presented to Holcot Church, but Roger's widow Maud, at this time the wife of Theobald de Bray, successfully claimed the advowson as part of her dower. (fn. 32) Very soon afterwards the advowson was acquired by the Prior of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England, who presented to the church in 1227–8, (fn. 33) and subsequently until the Dissolution. About 1291 the church was worth £8 a year. (fn. 34) In 1492 William Lily, the grammarian, who had become acquainted with the Knights Hospitallers in Rhodes, was presented to Holcot rectory by the prior, John Kendall. (fn. 35) At the Dissolution the preceptory of the Knights Hospitallers in Dingley was receiving 40s. yearly from Holcot Church, and the rectory was let to farm to Anne Pachett for £15 17s. 4d. a year. The payment to the archdeacon of Northampton for procurations and synodals was 50s. 7d., leaving a clear income of £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 36) The advowson of the rectory and church was granted in 1548 to Thomas Henneage, knight, and others. (fn. 37) It was held at his death in 1595 by Gilbert Langtree whose son and heir was Edward. (fn. 38) In 1636 presentation was made, jointly, by Sir Anthony Haslewood, knight, Hannah Campion, widow, and Edmund Barves of Cunnington in Huntingdonshire; (fn. 39) in 1640, according to Bridges, the right to present was held by a Mr. Campion, probably identical with William Campion, then rector. (fn. 40) In 1663 the living was presented by the Crown, (fn. 41) probably to Edward Halles, who died as rector in 1715 at the age of ninetyfour. He had a daughter, Anne Woodford, (fn. 42) who presented in 1745 when she was a widow. (fn. 43) In 1777 the Rev. Thomas Gill was patron, (fn. 44) and presentation in 1778 was by Elizabeth Gill, widow. (fn. 45) In 1780 Edward Montgomery, clerk, the incumbent, presented. (fn. 46) The advowson and incumbency continued in this family, the Rev. R. Montgomery being patron and incumbent from 1836 to 1881. Mrs.Daniels (formerly Miss Montgomery) is now patron.
The following charities are administered by the rector and 3 trustees appointed by the parish council of Holcot in accordance with the Scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 1 October 1909 under the title of the United Charities.
1. Blacksmith's Shop Rent-charge. 5s. yearly paid in respect of a former blacksmith's shop, being the interest on a sum of £5 given for the poor by Thomas Campion and invested on mortgage in 1699.
2. Rev. William Campion. Will dated in 1636. Rent-charge of 6s. on a house and a piece of land in Holcot.
3. John Clark. Gift of £1 yearly charged upon Poplars Farm in Holcot.
4. Rev. Christopher Crouch. Will 1 August 1735. Moiety of the rent of 2 acres of land in Hardingstone, leased to Northampton Rural, now District, Council at £12 12s. of which sum half comes to Holcot.
5. Doe Bank Rent-charge. A yearly sum of 10s. in respect of about 1 rood of land called Doe Bank in Holcot is paid, half by the rector and half by Brixworth Rural District Council, who have acquired half the land as building sites. The origin of this paymentis unknown.
6. Elias Groom. Will dated 12 February 1687. Rent-charge of 6s. on a house and land in Holcot.
7. Edward Halles. Will 4 May 1713. 3 poles of land in Holcot let for 10s. yearly.
8. Poor's Land. Inclosure Award 30 March 1778. 1 a. 2 r. 10 p. of land in Holcot let for £2 2s. yearly.
The income of these charities is applied in the distribution of goods to the poor at Christmas.
By the Award of the Inclosure Commissioners dated 30 March 1778 a piece of land adjoining the Poor's Land was allotted, the rents to be applied in repairs of the parish church. The land is let for £9 yearly, which sum is applied by the rector and churchwardens towards church expenses.