A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1937.
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The parish of Wootton, covering an area of 1,735 acres land and 5 acres water, is bounded on the south and south-west by a brook running northwards to the Nene. The height rises gradually from 200 ft. by the brook to 360 ft. in the north. The subsoil is Great Oolite, Middle and Upper Lias, the soil various, the crops cereals with some pasture land. Adjoining the northern boundary is the miscalled 'Danes' Camp' in Hardingstone parish, and the ancient British trackway leading from this Hunsbury camp forms the boundary of the parish. (fn. 1) A hoard of Roman coins, ranging from Gallienus to Numerian, was discovered in 1844. (fn. 2)
The village lies on the higher, north-western part of the parish, 2½ miles south-east of Northampton, with its church in the centre and a green. (fn. 3) In the village there are a fair number of 17th- and early-18th-century houses built of local ironstone, some with thatched roofs; the following dates and initials occur, 1687, 1692, nca 1695, w. r. 1715, 1720 and 1726. Two other houses though later in date (1763 and 1766) retain all the character of the earlier buildings. The older northern wing of the rectory house was erected by Jeremiah Stephens (rector 1626–44) and bears a tablet inscribed deo: eccl: ie: steph: pos: 1630. This part of the building is of three stories with mullioned windows and a gable facing east, but extensive additions were made to the house on the south side in 1835.
Wootton Hall, which was about a mile to the northwest of the village, was taken down in 1911, and a new house was built on a new site a little to the south. The old house was a plain two-story building of late-18thor early-19th-century date, to which additions had been made. (fn. 4)
The windmill, which stands near the junction of the Stony Stratford road with that to the village, was erected after an older mill, probably of wood, had been blown down in October 1815. (fn. 5) It is of red brick with dome-shaped cap. The mill was in use until 1914, but is now (1935) in a very dilapidated state. Wootton Grange is a mile west of the Hall, Milton Ham Farm in the extreme south. The wake followed the feast of St. George. (fn. 6) The population, 744 in 1921, was only 621 in 1931, for the civil parish.
Caroline Chisholm, the 'emigrants' friend', the daughter of a yeoman of this parish, William Jones, also noted as a philanthropist, was born here in 1808. (fn. 7)
In 1086 Walter de Aincurt ('Walter the Fleming') was overlord of 2½ hides in WOOTTON, and 1 hide was soke of the Countess Judith's manor of Yardley Hastings; and Winemar the Fleming was under-tenant of both parts. (fn. 8) The former or WAHULL FEE descended with Pattishall (q.v.), (fn. 9) and mention of this overlordship is found here until 1428. (fn. 10) The service due from the under-tenant included rent for the guard of Rockingham Castle.
In the 12th-century survey the 2⅓ hides of this fee are entered without the name of any tenant, (fn. 11) but by 1181 this had come into the hands of the Biduns, possibly as the marriage portion of Alice sister of William Mauduit, lord of Hanslope, who married John de Bidun I (fn. 12) in about 1150, she being then 15 years old. That Halenath de Bidun, John's father, presented to the church about 1150 may have been owing to the tender years of Alice and John. The date is fixed, because the parson presented was Walter de Bidun, chancellor of the King of Scotland (fn. 13) round 1150, a post shortly afterwards held by several others and not resumed by him till 1171, (fn. 14) when Halenath had long been dead.
John was the founder of Lavendon Abbey, Bucks., to which he, in 1178 or later, gave the church of Wootton. (fn. 15) He died 1180–1, (fn. 16) and his son John died in 1184, (fn. 17) his heirs being his five sisters. They were (1) Amice wife of Henry de Clinton, (2) Amabel wife of Miles de Beauchamp, (3) Sara wife of Richard de Beauchamp, brother of Miles, (4) Maud wife of Geoffrey fitz Geoffrey, (5) Ermingard wife of Aldulf de Gatesden. (fn. 18) All appear in the history of this manor. Amice, the eldest sister, was alive 1235–6, (fn. 19) and left three daughters and co-heirs: Amabel wife of Luke de Colum, Isabel wife of Ralph fitz John, and Agnes wife of Warin de Brageham. (fn. 20) Ralph fitz John seems to have released his right here to the elder Amabel in 1219; (fn. 21) and though Agnes and Warin were living in 1255 (fn. 22) they are not mentioned in connexion with Wootton. The younger Amabel died childless (fn. 23) before 1242–3, when her husband Luke de Colum was joint tenant with Miles de Beauchamp II of the Wahull knight's fee here. (fn. 24) They perhaps had a daughter Joan who predeceased them, for a Joan de Colum enfeoffed Gilbert de Preston (and his wife Alice), tenant of the other fee in Wootton, with 1½ virgates here. (fn. 25) The Colums are no more mentioned.
Amabel, second sister of John de Bidun II, obtained a grant from Ralph fitz John in 1219; (fn. 26)in 1225–6 she had leave to assart 8 acres of wood in Wootton, and when her daughter Sibyl gave them to St. Andrew's Priory she confirmed, as did Miles de Beauchamp, her son and heir. (fn. 27) As 'lady of Wootton' she, with Robert fitz Geoffrey her nephew, recovered the advowson, 1231–2, from Lavendon Abbey. (fn. 28) Miles the son was joint lord 1242–3, (fn. 29) and died in 1264 leaving a son and heir Richard, still living 1292, (fn. 30) but not mentioned in Wootton. Miles (once called Miles de Wootton) had given lands here to his sons William and Geoffrey, who gave part to the parson's foster-son, but seem to have kept lands and definitely taken the name Wootton. (fn. 31) Their uncle or cousin (fn. 32) John de Beauchamp alienated the manor and advowson in 1274 to Robert Burnel, (fn. 33) Bishop of Bath and Wells. The bishop's younger brother, (fn. 34) Philip, died seised in 1281, holding this estate of the bishop, together with certain lands of the Huntingdon fee here, and the bishop was his heir. (fn. 35) Neither the bishop nor his nephew and heir, another Philip, held anything here when they died, (fn. 36) though Philip had presented to the church in 1288. (fn. 37) In 1283 the manor, two mills, the advowson, and the goods of the elder Philip had been taken into the king's hands, (fn. 38) possibly because his widow had remarried without licence. (fn. 39) Next year John de Hastings, overlord of the Huntingdon fee, held the vill as half a knight's fee of John de Wahull, (fn. 40) while in 1304 this was said to be ¾ of a knight's fee and held by John de Hastings and William de Wutton. (fn. 41)
John de Hastings demised the manor for life to Margery, widow (1309 or earlier) (fn. 42) of Alan, Earl of Menteith, (fn. 43) who had some obscure connexion with his family; she, living here in 1316, was tenant. (fn. 44) After her death it reverted to the Hastings family and descended with Yardley Hastings (q.v.) to the Greys, Earls of Kent. (fn. 45) In 1513 Sir Henry Grey, kt. (second son of George, Earl of Kent), on whom the property was settled, conveyed the manor and advowson to Sir Henry Wyatt; (fn. 46) but in a possibly fictitious suit, c. 1540, (fn. 47) Thomas Grey said that Reynold Grey, Lord Hastings, had enfeoffed his younger son Robert who held it for 24 years and more and left a son Humphrey aged 12; whereupon Edmund, Earl of Kent, (grand)son of Reynold seized Humphrey and the manor and documents, which had now come to Sir John Allen, alderman of London, although Humphrey had a son, Sir Edward Grey, father of the petitioner. The Wyatts kept the manor. Sir Henry Wyatt had already obtained in 1511 another small estate, called on two occasions a manor, in this Wahull fee. It was held of Edmund, Earl of Kent, for the service of 6d. yearly by Walter Mauntell, who died seised in 1487 leaving a grandson John, son of his son Henry. (fn. 48) Like his Buckinghamshire lands, (fn. 49) these came to Richard Empson, and were granted in 1511 to Sir Henry Wyatt, (fn. 50) patron of the living in 1523. (fn. 51) However Sir Walter Mauntell just before his death in 1523 willed a 'manor' here to trustees for his son John, still a minor 19 years later, when the surviving daughters claimed. (fn. 52) Sir Henry Wyatt's son, the poet Sir Thomas, and Elizabeth his wife, conveyed manor and advowson in 1541–2 to the Sir John Allen (fn. 53) mentioned above. He made a settlement 1544 and died shortly afterwards, leaving a son Christopher. (fn. 54) Sir Christopher Allen and Audrey his wife conveyed the advowson in 1565 to Bartholomew Tate (fn. 55) of Delapré Abbey, and the manor in the following year to Edmund Huddleston, (fn. 56) who with Dorothy his wife conveyed it to Sir Robert Lane, (fn. 57) and he in 1579, with his wife Mary and William Lane, granted it to William Bradbourne. (fn. 58) William Rande and Dorothy his wife conveyed it in 1582 to William Whittle, (fn. 59) who with William Whittle jun. conveyed it in 1594 to Thomas Rowland. (fn. 60) Thomas settled it on his wife Jane with reversion to his brother John, a Londoner, who made a conveyance in 1625–6 (fn. 61) but predeceased his brother's widow in 1636, when she was wife of Sir Arthur Smithes. He left a son Thomas. (fn. 62) Thomas and John Rowland granted the manor in 1670 to Sir Richard Raynsford, justice of the pleas. (fn. 63) About 1720 Bridges noted that the manor was sunk and the lordship divided amongst several freeholders; (fn. 64) but in 1743–4 John Garth and Rebecca his wife and Elizabeth Brompton, spinster, adjusted their claims to a third of the manor with Richard Hind and John Evans, clerk, (fn. 65) and in 1761–2 Shuckburgh Ashby and Elizabeth his wife conveyed a third of the manor to John Harris, (fn. 66) while George William Johnson, who derived his title from Edmund Wilson, was also concerned with one third. (fn. 67) The Harris family recovered the manorial rights. (fn. 68) William Harris was concerned with the whole manor in 1799, (fn. 69) and William Oliver Harris owned it in 1874, (fn. 70) but the manorial rights appear to have lapsed.
FEE OF HUNTINGDON. The overlordship descended with the manor of Preston (fn. 71) (q.v.) the last mention found being 1428. Winemar's hide, augmented by ⅓ of ½ hide, was in the tenure of his successor Michael de Hanslope in the time of Henry I, (fn. 72) while Walter de Preston, (younger) son of Winemar, gave 2/3 of the tithe of his demesne here to St. Andrew's Priory, Northampton. (fn. 73) Gilbert de Preston died seised in 1274 of 6½ virgates, with 14 customers each holding ½ virgate, of this fee (fn. 74) and a manor here descended with the manor of Preston (fn. 75) (q.v.) until, in or before 1329, Laurence de Preston enfeoffed George de Longueville of Little Billing, who married his daughter Isabel. (fn. 76) Laurence retained a mesne lordship and the service of a rose yearly, as recorded in 1438. (fn. 77) The manor passed by settlement to Margaret wife of Sir Richard Ros for her life, in 1459; (fn. 78) but otherwise it descended with the manor of Little Billing (q.v.) until 1621 when Sir Henry Longueville died seised. It had been settled for her life on his widow Katharine, daughter of Sir Edward Cary (fn. 79) and sister of the first Viscount Falkland. She died in 1635, (fn. 80) and in the same year we find this manor in other hands, though her son Edward Longueville retained Little Billing. Samuel Fryers, clerk, patron of the living, and Elizabeth his wife conveyed it to Caleb Stephens and Philemon Stephens with the advowson, (fn. 81) after which it disappears.
The church of ST. GEORGE consists of chancel, 25 ft. by 14 ft.; clerestoried nave, 40 ft. 3 in. by 14 ft. 6 in.; north and south aisles each about 12 ft. wide; south porch, and west tower 9 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. The width across nave and aisles is 42 ft. 6 in. There was formerly a north porch. Both aisles are extended eastward to form chapels, and cover the chancel about half its length. (fn. 82)
The building was repaired in 1844, and in 1865 was extensively restored under the direction of William Butterfield, when the chancel arch and the arches between the chancel and the chapels were rebuilt, the north porch taken down, and a new south porch, in the style of the 14th century, erected. The chancel, nave, and aisles are of limestone rubble, and the tower and porch of coursed ironstone. The roofs of the nave and aisles are leaded, and that of the chancel is covered with modern red tiles. There are battlemented parapets to the nave, but the tiles and lead of the chancel and aisles overhang. Internally, except in the tower, all the walls are plastered.
The building is in the main of 13th-century date including the chancel, nave arcades, and aisles, but with one exception all the windows are later insertions. The tower was erected late in the 14th century, and some time in the 15th century the clerestory was added with a sanctus bell-cote over the chancel arch, and new windows were inserted in the chancel and aisles.
The east end of the chancel, which stands free of the aisles or chapels, is without buttress or strings, and in the north wall it retains an original lancet window, splaying wide internally, (fn. 83) the hood-mould of which has head-stops. The pointed east window is of three trefoiled lights but the mullions and geometrical tracery are modern; (fn. 84) below the sill outside is a length of keelshape moulding. On the south side is a wide 15thcentury window of three cinquefoiled lights, the vertical tracery of which has a transom in the middle light. The 13th-century piscina has a trefoiled head, and wooden shelf, and the 15th-century sedilia are also of plain design with chamfered jambs and cinquefoiled arched heads; the seats are on one level. The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, the inner springing from half-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases. The arch, like those north and south of the chapels, has been entirely rebuilt, but its details, if a copy of the old, point to the original arch having been erected late in the 13th century. The lateral arches are of a single chamfered order, on moulded imposts. The chancel has a modern open roof of three bays and the floor is tiled. The reredos is in the 13th-century style. The former chapels, which are now used respectively as an organ-chamber (north) and vestry (fn. 85) (south), belong structurally to the nave aisles. (fn. 86)
The nave arcades are alike in design and consist of three pointed arches of two orders, with a straight outer and hollow inner chamfer, springing from cylindrical pillars with circular moulded capitals and bases, and at the east end from half-octagonal responds similar to those of the chancel arch: at the west end the arches rest on corbels carved with large four-leaf flowers. The capitals of the pillars differ only slightly from those of the chancel arch responds, and the double-roll bases stand on high square plinths.
The aisles are externally of four bays marked by buttresses and have a keel-shaped string all round at sill level, except at the west end of the south aisle. The windows are all square-headed and of three or, in the western bays, two cinquefoiled lights, and all have moulded jambs and mullions and hood-moulds with head-stops. The 13th-century south doorway has a pointed arch with outer moulded order on nook-shafts with moulded capitals and bases, inner chamfered order, and hood-mould with head-stops. The north doorway is of the same character but is now blocked and the shafts and capitals have been renewed. Above it is a niche with mutilated trefoiled head on nook-shafts with moulded capitals and bases.
There is no piscina in either aisle, but below the east window of the south aisle is a long and narrow wall-recess, or cupboard, widening out inside, fitted with a modern door, (fn. 87) and on the south side of the window a carved bracket. There is a similar bracket north of the east window of the north aisle. The aisles retain old timber lean-to roofs of plain character.
The clerestory has three four-centred windows of two cinquefoiled lights on each side, with moulded jambs but no hood-moulds. The nave roof is of low pitch and the parapet is carried along the east gable. (fn. 88)
The tower is of three stages, with moulded plinth and pairs of buttresses at its western angles. The pointed west window is of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head, (fn. 89) and the bell-chamber windows are of the same character, all with hood-moulds. Below the west window is a narrow doorway with shouldered arch, either wholly restored or modern. There is no vice. The tower terminates in a battlemented parapet with angle pinnacles, and has a pyramidal leaded roof, with vane. The pointed arch to the nave is the full width of the tower, and is of two chamfered orders, the inner springing from corbels carved with large grotesque faces; the opening contains an oak screen erected in 1925. Built into the north wall of the tower inside is part of a 13th-century grave-slab with 'omega' ornament. (fn. 90)
The font is of Devonshire marble and dates from 1874; (fn. 91) the pulpit also is modern.
On the splays of the lancet window in the chancel are remains of paintings. (fn. 92)
In the chancel is a tablet with long Latin inscription in memory of Jeremiah Stephens, rector 1626–44 and 1660–5, and his son-in-law Thomas Singleton, also rector, from a monument described by Bridges, (fn. 93) which has disappeared.
There are five bells in the tower, the earliest of which are the fourth and second dated respectively 1620 and 1629; the third is by Henry Bagley 1660, the treble by Matthew Bagley 1770, and the tenor by Taylor of Oxford 1836. (fn. 94)
The plate consists of a cup of 1572 with the maker's mark I C in a plain shield, a paten 1828, a cup of 1885, and a paten of 1888. (fn. 95)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms and burials 1707–71, marriages 1707–54; (ii) marriages 1755–1812; (iii) baptisms and burials 1770–1812. (fn. 96)
This descended with the Wahull fee until 1565 when it was acquired by the Tate family of Delapré Abbey (fn. 97) in Hardingstone parish (q.v.), and they retained it until 1631, (fn. 98) when Zouch Tate sold it to Samuel Fryers, clerk. (fn. 99) The latter sold it three years later to Caleb and Philemon Stephens, (fn. 100) members of which family presented until 1680. (fn. 101) Frances Stephens married the parson Thomas Singleton (fn. 102) and they sold the advowson in 1683 to Thomas Rowney, (fn. 103) who gave it to Exeter College Oxford, (fn. 104) the present patrons.
He died in 1178 as rector of Wootton and bishopelect of Dunkeld, Scotland. (fn. 105) Later ones are Jeremiah Stephens, literary coadjutor of Sir Henry Spelman; James Fortescue, rector 1764–77, poetical writer; and Thomas Lathbury, ecclesiastical historian (died 1865), for a time curate here. Jeremiah Stephens quarrelled with his parishioners; many of them, aged and poor, trudged to London to petition against his oppression. The Committee of Sequestrations replaced him before 1647 by the popular Puritan divine Daniel Rogers, and in 1656 Lemuel Franklin was intruded. Stephens returned at the Restoration and died here 1665. (fn. 106)
The Wesleyan Reform chapel at Townsend was registered for marriages in 1871. (fn. 107)
The Reverend Christopher Crouch by will dated 1 August 1735 devised a piece of meadow ground in Hardingstone, the rent to be paid to 10 poor people of Wootton and 10 of Holcot. The land is now let and the rent distributed among poor persons by the ministers of the respective parishes.
John Langford by will dated in 1658 charged certain land in Wootton with a yearly sum of £1 10s. to be given to the poor at the discretion of the minister and churchwardens. The rent-charge is received and applied in accordance with the trusts.
Town Houses (or Poor's Houses) and Town Lands (or Poor's Allotment). By an Award dated 23 June 1779 made under an Inclosure Act, six cottages with appurtenances and land containing 2 a. 3 r. 12 p. were vested in the rector, churchwardens, and overseers in trust for the residence, use, and benefit of the honest and industrious poor of the parish. The endowment now consists of the land and seven cottages. The cottages are let to poor and aged people and the rent of the land is applied in accordance with the trusts.