A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1937.
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The old manor-house, now used as a farm, stands to the south-east of the church and is a picturesque gabled building of stone with slated roofs. The oldest part of the house appears to be of 14th-century date, a twolight traceried window on the north side being of this period, but the building was altered and largely rebuilt in the latter half of the 16th century by Thomas Nicolls, whose arms are over the front entrance. The house then assumed more or less its present appearance, with mullioned bay windows, but it was again restored and enlarged in 1775. In one of the rooms is a painted oak overmantel of three compartments divided by Ionic pilasters and bearing the arms of Thomas Nicolls.
When Bridges wrote the parish had been inclosed for about a hundred years. There were then two woods, and he gives the names of two springs, Marywell and Dunswell. It held 16 families. The population, which was 68 in 1801, was 121 in 1931. The poll-books show that there were 3 freeholders in 1705, and none in 1831.
One hide in HARDWICK was returned in the Domesday Survey among the lands the Countess Judith held in Hamfordshoe Hundred, and had been held with sac and soc before the Conquest by Ulf. It was held, with another hide in Hardwick in Orlingbury Hundred, under the Countess by Alan. (fn. 1) In the 12th century these 2 hides formed the 9 small virgates returned in the Hundred of Hamfordshoe, held of the fee of King David, (fn. 2) and the overlordship of the whole descended with the honor of Huntingdon to Henry de Hastings and his wife Ada, (fn. 3) being recorded separately as in Domesday, i.e. as a quarter of a fee in Hardwick held by the Seymours, and under them by the Barrys, with a half fee held by the Grimbauds and under them by the Seymours; (fn. 4) but also together as one fee held by the Seymours of the Grimbauds, under the de Hastings who held in chief. (fn. 5) In 1236 half a fee in Hardwick was returned among the fees held of the earldom of Huntingdon by Simon Minor. (fn. 6)
Like Diddington (Hunts.) (fn. 7) Hardwick descended from Alan 'the sewer' to the Grimbalds or Grimbauds. About 1095 the Grimbald who held Moulton in 1086 gave the church of that vill to St. Andrew's Priory, Northampton. (fn. 8) The churches of Little Houghton and Hardwick were bestowed on the priory by Robert Grimbaud and Maud his wife, c. 1130, and this grant was confirmed when a fresh grant of Moulton church to the priory was made by Robert Grimbaud of Houghton, William his son and Robert the son of William then confirming the grant, and also earlier grants of the churches of Brafield, Hardwick, and Houghton. (fn. 9) In 1197 William Grimbald granted to Henry de Seymour half a knight's fee in Hardwick, (fn. 10) evidently the half fee the Seymours later kept in their own hands, and Robert Grimbaud in 1242 was holding 4 knights' fees in Houghton, Hardwick, Brafield, Newton, and Moulton of the honor of Huntingdon. (fn. 11) He had been succeeded in 1284 by William Grimbaud, then holding a whole fee in Hardwick of John de Hastings, with Henry de Seymour as undertenant. (fn. 12) The half fee conveyed in 1196–7 was held in 1312 by John de Seymour, (fn. 13) evidently under Robert Grimbaud, in whose hands it was returned in 1325, (fn. 14) being held by the heirs of Robert Grimbaud in 1348. (fn. 15) The manor was returned in 1329–30 as held by John de Seymour of Robert Grimbaud, of the Hastings' pourparty of the honor of Huntingdon, (fn. 16) and as held of the Countess of Pembroke as of the fee of Grimbaud in 1362, (fn. 17) but no further reference to Grimbaud mesne tenants occurs.
The Seymours held under the Grimbauds until the second half of the 14th century, but in 1267 their tenure was interrupted for a time by the grant of the manor to Geoffrey Goscelyn by the king, it having been forfeited by Henry de Seymour. In an extent of the manor then made it was returned that Henry de Seymour had 5½ virgates in demesne of 26 acres, each acre being worth 8d. per annum; 8½ similar virgates in villeinage, worth 17s. 8d. each; and a windmill worth 20s. The manor was extended at £18. (fn. 18) By 1275 the manor was again in the hands of Henry de Seymour, who was claiming view of frankpledge, and in 1284 he held a whole fee in Hardwick. (fn. 19) In 1313 half a knight's fee in Hardwick held by John de Seymour, and a quarter fee (which was probably now known as BARRY'S MANOR) held by Alice Barry, evidently by grant of the Seymours, were included among fees held of John de Hastings. (fn. 20) In 1325 half a fee in Hardwick was returned among the Hastings' fees under the lordship of Robert Grimbaud, the quarter fee being then held by John Barry. (fn. 21) In 1329–30 John de Seymour's claim to view of frankpledge and other liberties in his manor of Hardwick was objected to on the ground that he made this claim for the whole of the manor whereas he held one half, only for life, by grant of one John Barry, and only one half in fee. His reply was that he did hold certain tenements for life only in Hardwick by grant of John Barry, but that he made no claim to view of frankpledge in them; he did, however, prove that he had his own complete manor by right of inheritance, held of Robert Grimbaud of Laurence de Hastings as of the honor of Huntingdon. (fn. 22) John de Seymour died in 1340, his wife Maud surviving him, and was succeeded by his son John. (fn. 23) Besides the manor he held a messuage, 120 acres of land in demesne, 1 acre 1 rood of meadow, and 33s. 4d. rent of free and bond tenants and cottars, evidently the quarter fee or Barry's Manor. John de Seymour his son apparently fell a victim to the Black Death in 1349, in which year an inquisition was taken as to tenements he held in Hardwick and Irtlingborough of the manor of Grafton. (fn. 24) Another, taken on 27 May 1350, (fn. 25) records the action he took as regards his two manors in Hardwick. It states that being sick to death, but of good and sane memory, he gave the manor of Hardwick which he had by ancient right and inheritance to William de Seymour and Elizabeth Chartres (sister of John)—presumably in trust for his young son—and being carried to the door of the said manor, he delivered seisin thereof to William and Elizabeth, and was carried thence to his manor in the said vill late of Peter Barry. He also gave to the same William and Elizabeth a large grange and a large garden, late of the said Peter, and 2 carucates of land, and being carried from one manor to the other said: 'Take this grange and garden by way of seisin'; and so he died seised of that chief messuage late of the said Peter, and of a virgate of land in Hardwick excepted from the said grange and garden. In the inquisition neither date of death nor heir were recorded, but it seems that he left a son and heir John, then aged 13. Proof of the age of this John was taken at Brixworth on 24 March 1358, when it was stated that he had been born on 6 January 1338, and baptized, according to the evidence of John Barry, one of the witnesses, in the church of the vill, his name being entered in the missal of the church because he was the eldest son of his father. (fn. 26) On 24 October 1358 it was returned that John de Seymour had held a messuage and 2 virgates of land of the heir of Laurence de Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, when he died of the pestilence now past, and that his son and heir John was now of full age. The king had taken the profits since the death of John by his escheators. (fn. 27) Sir John de Seymour, in 1361, settled the manors of Hardwick and Grafton on himself and his wife Agnes. (fn. 28) He died s.p. the following year and was succeeded by his brother Thomas, (fn. 29) who, as Thomas Seymour of Hardwicke, occurs as late as 1386. (fn. 30) The Seymour line then seems to have ended in female heirs, as Walter and William St. German, clerks, who had obtained licence to purchase Barry's manor in 1396, were sued in 1402 for disseisin of a certain freehold in Seymours Hardwick by Andrew Brown, Catherine his wife, and Isabel Seymour. (fn. 31)
The manor subsequently passed into the hands of the Greens of Green's Norton, apparently through marriage with a Seymour heiress. (fn. 32) After the death of Sir Thomas Green, in 1391, 8 messuages and 4 virgates of land in Hardwick came to his son Thomas and are noted as held of others than the King. (fn. 33) Sir Thomas Green, son of Sir Thomas Green, settled his manor of Hardwick on his wife Philippa, daughter of Robert de Ferrars, lord of Chartley, and on his son Thomas, and died on 14 December 1420, Thomas who succeeded him being then 18 years of age. (fn. 34) Apparently the Greens of Green's Norton alienated the manor to Sir Henry Green of Drayton, on whose death in 1469 it was assigned by his daughter and heir Constance and her husband John Stafford to Margaret, the widow of Sir Henry, for life. (fn. 35) It then followed the descent of Drayton (q.v.), being held, c. 1515, in thirds by the co-heirs of Sir Henry, daughters of Sir Henry Vere. One third was therefore held by John, Lord Mordaunt, the husband of Henry Vere's eldest daughter Elizabeth, and in 1548 he acquired from George Brown, son of Ann, the second daughter, and her husband Humphrey Brown, lands in Hardwick, probably representing a second third of the estate. (fn. 36) But a grant of a third of the manor made to him next year by the third daughter Audrey and her husband John Browne and their son George (fn. 37) seems to have been ineffective, possibly because they had already mortgaged it in 1530 to Sir Humphrey Browne, serjeant-at-law, the uncle of John. (fn. 38) In 1561 Sir Humphrey Browne was dealing with a third of the manor. (fn. 39) This third, which descended from Audrey Vere and her husband John Browne to their grandson Wistan Browne [of Rookewoods Hall in Essex], (fn. 40) was sold by him on 7 May 1567 to Thomas Nicolls. (fn. 41)
Thomas Nicolls granted to his father, William Nicolls, a lease of the manor for 21 years after his death, and died on 29 June 1568, his father surviving him. He left a son and heir Francis, aged 15, and three other sons, Augustine, Lewis, and William. (fn. 42) Francis, who at the death of his grandfather, William Nicolls, at the age of 96 on 8 September 1576, was aged 19, married Anne Seymour, daughter of David Seymour, and was Governor of Tilbury Fort. He sold to Francis Gill 3 closes of meadow and a little willow grove in Hardwick, and the Neates' Pasture (120 acres) and More Close or Morescole (130 acres) adjoining, all held of the king in chief by knight service. (fn. 43) The manor had still been held in thirds in 1586, when Sir Lewis Mordaunt, Lord Mordaunt, made a conveyance by fine of one third to George Monoux, (fn. 44) but in the following year the manor was held by him and Eliza- beth his wife, and by Francis Nicolls, gent., and Anne his wife. (fn. 45) Francis Nicolls died in 1604 and left a son and heir Francis. (fn. 46) The Nicolls' share in the manor was transferred by either the father or the son to the Mordaunts, probably about the year 1608, in which year the property sold to Francis Gill was conveyed by his son John Gill to Sir Augustine Nicolls, sergeantat-law, (fn. 47) the purchaser of Faxton and of Broughton; and in 1609 Henry, Lord Mordaunt, son of Sir Lewis (d. 1601), was holding the manor alone, and conveyed it by fine to Thomas Lock and John Rowe. (fn. 48) The Nicolls still, however, retained lands in Hardwick, and it was as Francis Nicholls (sic) of Hardwick that Francis, who had succeeded his uncle Sir Augustine at Faxton and Broughton at his death s.p. in 1616, was created a baronet in 1641. He was buried at Hardwick in 1642. (fn. 49) His grandson, Sir Edward Nicolls, bart., of Faxton, bequeathed lands in Hardwick for the augmentation of several livings. (fn. 50)
John, Lord Mordaunt (who succeeded his father Henry in 1608, (fn. 51) and was created Earl of Peterborough in 1628) and his brother James sold the manor for £3,000 with courts leet, courts baron, &c., to Sir Henry Compton, K.B., of Brambletye, Sussex, and William Gage in 1638; (fn. 52) and in 1640 a moiety was conveyed by Sir Henry Compton to Richard, Viscount Lumley in Ireland, (fn. 53) the whole being conveyed in 1649 by Viscount Lumley, Nicholas Lanyon and Dorothy his wife, and William Gage and Dorothy his wife to William Ward and Robert Ward. (fn. 54) This was William Ward of Little Houghton, (fn. 55) and Hardwick followed the descent of that manor until conveyed in 1733 to William Lock by William and Thomas Ward. (fn. 56)
Elizabeth, daughter and heir of William Ward of Brafield, had married in 1692 Thomas Thornton of Brockhall, and it is possibly through connexion with the Ward family that the manor had come into the hands of John Thornton, who was holding it in 1854. In the latter half of the 19th century it was held by Mrs. McKenzie, and for the last fifty years has been held by her trustees.
The church of ST. LEONARD stands on the south side of the village, and consists of chancel, 17 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft.; nave of four bays, 43 ft. by 17 ft. 3 in.; south aisle, 7 ft. 6 in. wide; north porch, and embattled west tower, 8 ft. 3 in. by 7 ft. 6 in., all these measurements being internal. The tower, the nave arcade, and the south side of the chancel date from about 1220 and, though the chancel arch appears to be of rather later in the same century, the church is in plan substantially of one period. A clerestory was added on the south side in the 14th century, and the nave windows and two in the chancel are of that date, though probably insertions in the older walls. In 1795 the chancel was shortened by about 8 ft., and the aisle taken down, (fn. 57) and a new south wall erected blocking the arcade, which was incorporated with it: a south porch was also erected. In 1866 (fn. 58) the arcade was opened out and the aisle rebuilt, a north porch added, the east wall of the chancel reconstructed, and the whole church re-roofed. At the restoration of the chancel the original east-end foundation was found, but the wall was rebuilt on its 18th-century foundation.
The church is built throughout of rubble and the roofs are of low pitch leaded. The chancel has a modern east window of four lights, and in the north wall a restored 14th-century window of two lights. There is a similar restored window at the west end of the south wall and below it a 13th-century low-side window of lancet form, with rear arch, opened out and glazed in 1867. The priest's doorway is also of 13thcentury date: it has three scratch dials on the arch. Internally the chancel is wholly restored and owing to the demolition of the original east end no ancient ritual arrangements remain. On the north wall outside is a corbel carved with a bishop's head, probably an insertion. The chancel arch is of two hollow-chamfered orders, the inner resting on half-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases.
The arches of the nave arcade are of two chamfered orders springing from circular pillars and half-round responds, all with circular moulded bases and capitals, the nail-head occurring in the responds. The three windows in the north nave wall are of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head and ogee hood-moulds, but the tracery and mullions are modern copies of the old work: the two clerestory windows are of similar type restored, but without the ogee hood-moulds. The north doorway, like the windows, is of 14th-century date.
The tower is of three stages, without buttresses, but with a considerable set-back at the second stage. The west window is a tall lancet without hood-mould, but otherwise the walls in the lower stages are blank. The bell-chamber windows consist of two grouped lancets below a containing arch, the head pierced with a quatrefoil opening. The parapet belongs to the 14thcentury alterations, but below it the carved heads of the original corbel table remain. The tower arch is of two chamfered orders dying out. There is no vice. The west window contains some medieval glass with a figure of St. Leonard.
The 13th-century font is one of the most interesting in the county. The upper part of the bowl is hexagonal, the angles supported by detached shafts with moulded capitals and bases, carrying plain chamfered arches: the underside of the bowl is rounded and rests on a massive circular stem. Above the shafts the angles are chamfered upwards, the top thus forming a figure of twelve sides. (fn. 59)
On the south wall of the chancel is the small alabaster monument of Francis Nicholls (d. 1604), with shield of arms, long Latin inscription, (fn. 60) and effigies of himself, wife, and two children incised in slates, the lines being gilded. The monument, which has been restored, also records the death of his son Sir Francis Nicholls, bart., in 1641. (fn. 61) In the chancel floor are brass plates to William Nicolls (d. 1576), Ann, wife of Francis Nicolls (d. 1591), Edward Bagshawe (d. 1620), and Henry Bagshawe (d. 1621). (fn. 62) There is a floor-slab in the nave to the Rev. William Baker, rector (d. 1733).
There were formerly two bells, but the second was sold in 1795 to defray the expense of pulling down the aisle. (fn. 63) The other, a 15th-century bell bearing the inscription 'Sum Rosa Pulsata Katerina vocatur', now stands below the tower, having been displaced in 1896 to make way for a set of tubes.
The plate consists of a silver cup and cover paten of 1570, inscribed 'For the Tovn of Hardwycke', and two silver-plated alms dishes. (fn. 64)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1561–1644, 1661–1742, marriages 1561–1643, 1666– 1743, burials 1559–1643, 1664–78; (fn. 65) (ii) baptisms 1744–80, marriages 1744–54, burials 1678–1780; (iii) baptisms 1776–1812, marriages 1756–1812, burials 1782–1812.
The church was valued at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291. (fn. 66) The profits of the rectory in 1535 were returned as £8 0s. 9d. yearly, of which £1 3s. 4d. was paid annually to the prior of St. John of Jerusalem in England. (fn. 67)
The advowson, which was given to St. Andrew's Priory in Northampton about 1130, (fn. 68) and confirmed to that house by Robert, Bishop of Lincoln, (fn. 69) was in 1199 conveyed by Walter, Prior of Northampton, to the Master of the Knights Templars. (fn. 70) In 1249–50 Robert de Saunford, Master of the Knights Templars, conveyed it to Henry de Seymour, (fn. 71) but the presentation was recovered against John de Seymour in 1304, (fn. 72)and held by the Prior of the Hospital until the Dissolution, since when it has been held by a succession of owners, frequently incumbents. For over 150 years it was held with Faxton Manor (q.v.). It was in the hands of Francis Nicolls in 1628, and was held by Nicolls Rainsford and his wife Mary in 1794. (fn. 73) It is now held by the incumbent, the Rev. E. A. Richards.