A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1937.
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Risdene (xi cent.); Risscheden, Rissendene, Rysshedene (xiii cent.).
The parish of Rushden, containing about 3,775 acres, lies to the south of Higham Ferrers with which the town is now continuous; and the town has a station on the Wellingborough and Higham Ferrers section of the L.M.S. railway, the nearest main line station being at Irchester, about 2 miles eastward. The town, which in 1881 was no more than a large village with 3,657 inhabitants, grew very rapidly during the last decade of the 19th century, the increase in the population between 1891 and 1901 being over 5,000. The census returns of 1931 showed that the number of inhabitants had then risen to over 14,200, this growth being due chiefly to the establishment of the boot-making industry.
The present rectory-house appears to have been built about 1870, and cannot therefore claim to be the birthplace of either of the two clerics of distinction who were born at Rushden. Daniel, the son of Thomas Whitby, born on 24 March 1638, when his father had been rector about seven years, (fn. 1) afterwards became famous for his advocacy of the inclusion of non-conformists within the church and for his Paraphrase and Commentary on the New Testament. John Lettice son of the Rev. John Lettice and Mary daughter of Richard Newcombe, rector of the neighbouring parish of Wymington in Bedfordshire, was born on 27 December 1737. (fn. 2) He lived to a great age, dying on 18 October 1832; but though 'greatly respected by his parishioners' at Peasmarsh, Sussex, for whom he wrote The Village Catechist, he is better known for his writings on secular subjects such as travel, history, and antiquities, than for any contribution to theology.
The parish of St. Peter was formed 14 October 1913 from parts of the old parishes of Irchester, Irthlingborough, and Higham Ferrers, the church having been built in 1907. There is also a Roman Catholic church of St. Peter in the Higham road, which was opened in 1905. The Baptist chapel in Little Street was built in 1797 and is now used as a Sunday school, a newer chapel having been built in 1884 and enlarged in 1893. The Zion Baptist chapel in Station Road was built in 1800 and that in Park Road just a hundred years later. The Independent Methodists have a chapel built in 1889, with a mission chapel on the Wellingborough road established in 1901. There is another Methodist chapel in Fitzwilliam Street. The head-quarters of the Salvation Army are in Queen Street and the Church Army has a social centre built in 1920 on the Irchester road.
The town was governed by a local Board of Health from 25 March 1891 until the establishment of an Urban District Council under the provisions of the Local Government Act of 1894; (fn. 3) it is lighted with electricity, (fn. 4) and has water-works at Sywell, which were completed and opened in July 1906.
Rushden Hall stands almost in the centre of the town, near the church, and is a two-story building of various dates erected round a small rectangular courtyard, with the hall in the south range. The greater part of the house, which is of local limestone with red tiled roofs, appears to be of the 16th century, but has been much altered and modernized. The south front has project- ing gabled ends, mullioned and transomed windows, and a central two-story porch with battlemented parapet. The hall is wainscoted with black oak linenfold panelling and has a good four-centred arched fireplace. The east, or terrace front has also projecting ends with curved gables and two-story semicircular mullioned bay windows, and a similar one in the centre, all with battlemented parapets and ball ornaments. (fn. 5) It is now the property of the Urban District Council and the wellwooded grounds are a public park.
The soil varies from a stiff clay to a light sand; the subsoils are Oxford Clay, red marls, and Great Oolite, with belts of alluvium and Upper Lias along the course of the Nene, and a patch of inferior Oolite to the north of Rushden Hall. The chief crops are wheat, barley, and beans.
There was land for 12 ploughs, 30 acres of meadow, and a mill in RUSHDEN in 1086, and the manor was assessed at 6 hides in the Domesday Survey. It was one of the members of Higham Ferrers, though the Bishop of Coutances claimed the homage of the 19 socmen who held the land, on the ground that they had been Burred's men. (fn. 6) The manor afterwards followed the descent of Higham Ferrers (q.v.); (fn. 7) but various leases of the demesne were granted by the Crown during the 16th and 17th centuries, (fn. 8) and there are traces of corporate action among the tenants for the protection of their own interests. Several pleas were brought against the king's auditors in connexion with claims to exemption from suit at court and abatement of rent by the tenants jointly during the reign of Henry VII; (fn. 9) and in 1551 John Purevey, who had obtained a lease of the demesne lands in the previous year, assigned 'all his estate, title, and interest in the manor' to trustees to the use of all the inhabitants of Rushden. (fn. 10) One of the trustees, Robert Pemberton, was afterwards accused by John Maggetts and William Mayes of procuring a new lease under the seal of the Duchy of Lancaster in order to pervert the trust to his own use of all the meadows in Rushden which were parcel of the demesne. Pemberton in his answer admitted that John Purevey . . . 'by deed of 4 February 5 Edw. VI, in consideration of £10 paid to him by divers of the inhabitants, parcel of a common stock within the said town, and by special means of Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, did assure to the defendant and other persons all his estate . . . to the use of all the inhabitants'. He declared, however, that 'the said Inhabitants have ever sythens been quietly possessed and injoyed the use of the demesnes'. The matter was presumably decided in favour of Pemberton, for he seems to have continued as trustee in a fresh lease made by Queen Elizabeth on 8 February 1582 for 41 years. On 23 December 1606 King James I let the demesne to Sir Peter Young for 31 years after the expiration of the lease to Pemberton and his co-trustees, but Young also demised his interest to the inhabitants, and it was only when this lease came to an end in 1654 that the property could be enjoyed by Robert Sanderson and Francis Gray who had bought it in fee before the survey of 1649. (fn. 11)
This survey contains an interesting memorandum about the customs of Rushden, and the composition regarding the copyholders' fines made by the tenants with King James I:
'The inhabitants on 28 November 1618 did compound with King James for £2165 19s. 10d. . . . to make their fines upon Alienation or Descent certain, to uphold their ancient Customs, with liberty to inclose, with divers other privileges and freedoms as is at large expressed in the aforesaid decree. There are two Courts Leets every year at Michaelmas and at Lady day. The Court Baron is to be kept once every three weeks. . . . There is a certain parcell of meadow within the parish of Arkellborow beyond Neene, which the bailiff is allowed for his labour to gather up; the lord's rent is valued at 23s. 4d. . . . The Regalitie of the river Neene as far as the manor extendeth, namely from the lower end of the meadow called Symede to Ditchford Bridge, is leased out for this year at 10s.' (fn. 12)
The socage tenants, according to the custom, paid their rent at Michaelmas only; the customers and copyholders at Michaelmas and Lady Day. The distinction between the tenures was still observed when Bridges's History of Northamptonshire was written; the 'bornhold' or 'bondhold' land paying double rent and double fine to the Crown. (fn. 13) The copyhold land, which in the 18th century was 'near 4/5 of the lordship', descended according to the custom of gavelkind. (fn. 14)
The sale of the manor in fee to Robert Sanderson and Francis Gray, recognized in the Parliamentary Survey, does not appear to have taken effect, though as Gray seems to have been an ardent royalist (fn. 15) it might have been expected that his right at least would be recognized at the Restoration. The manor, however, was resumed by the Crown, and still forms part of the Duchy of Lancaster.
LENTON LANDS. One virgate of land was granted to the prior and convent of Lenton in Nottinghamshire, founded by William Peverel, with the advowson of the church, (fn. 16) and another halfvirgate was acquired by them in 1199 from Abel of Rushden. (fn. 17) After the Dissolution the Lenton lands in Rushden seem to have remained with the Crown until 1609, when James I granted them with the parsonage to Robert Pemberton, who had already obtained the site of the manor. (fn. 18) He was succeeded in the same year by his son Sir Lewis Pemberton, who was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1621. The holding is described at this time as including the Parsonage with glebelands belonging to it of 21 acres, and one close called Monkes Close and 'halfe a Close over the backwall of the Vicarage, besides hay'; (fn. 19) but the survey which was made for the purpose of a sale did not take in Sir Lewis Pemberton's 'Cheife house Called the Hall', said to be held of the Crown in socage. (fn. 20)
Although Rushden Hall was not among the lands thus put up for sale, both it and the parsonage were held by John Ekins during the Interregnum. He was the second son of Thomas Ekins of Irchester, (fn. 21) and had inherited a freehold in Rushden from his mother Elizabeth, daughter and one of the heirs of John Page of Rushden and Alice his wife; she was married to Thomas Ekins in 1607. (fn. 22) Her younger sister Alice married, before 1625, Francis Gray, afterwards one of the purchasers of Rushden Manor. The sisters, or their husbands, quarrelled over the freehold; for Francis Gray asserted that 'the said John Page considering that the house wherein ye said Thomas Eakyns did inhabit, which was not above 2 myles from ye dwelling of the said John Page, was of better strength than the house of the said John Page, and that Thomas Ekyns did keep more persons in his family, did place in the dwelling house of Thomas a chest'. The key of this chest he gave in August 1622 to Francis Gray with some account of the contents; after his sudden death 'a writing purporting a feoffment' was missing, and Gray complained that he and his wife were 'like to be done out of their share'. (fn. 23)
John Ekins, the son of Thomas Ekins, in 1633 was prominent in the neighbourhood for his resistance to the payment of ship-money. On 27 March 1637 a nag belonging to him was taken by way of distraint and locked up in a stable at Raunds, but it was rescued the very same night. Francis Gray, (fn. 24) on the other hand, took the unpopular side with a vigour which brought upon him the notice of Parliament. In 1642 it was alleged that he had procured a privy sessions of the peace to be held at Kettering to molest those who were well affected to the Parliament, because they had 'thrown down at Isham a cross which had on it a superstitious engraving which occasioned many gazers thereon'. He was also reported to have 'caused his servants to make great store of bullets to be employed against the well-affected, whom he called round-headed rogues'. A party of soldiers was sent to his house at Wellingborough to arrest him, and a full account of his attempted rescue by 'the common People (who seldom love or hate moderately),' is given in Mercurius Rusticus; (fn. 25) but as the affectionate regard of his poorer neighbours resulted in the death of Captain John Sawyer, it cannot have improved his position with the authorities. He was imprisoned, and though allowed a certain amount of liberty at the end of nine months, was not fully discharged until 1645.
The site of the manor passed on the death of John Ekins to his son Thomas Ekins, who was seised of it in 1677. It remained, after his death in that year, for some time in the possession of his family. John Ekins, who was in occupation of it in Bridges' time, was also steward of the manor for the Crown; (fn. 26) but Rushden Hall is said to have passed shortly afterwards to Lord George Germaine. (fn. 27) Early in the 19th century it was sold by Thomas Fletcher to Thomas Williams, (fn. 28) but, as the purchaser lived near Dorchester, the Fletchers continued to occupy the house. (fn. 29) John Fletcher was still living there in 1838, but about 1849 the Hall passed into the possession of Mr. F. V. Sartoris, (fn. 30) from whom it passed to Mr. Herbert Sartoris, being subsequently acquired by the Urban District Council.
One-sixth of a knight's fee in Rushden was held of William de Ferrers in 1242 by Henry de Billing, (fn. 31) who with his wife Wymare had acquired lands here from Sara, daughter of Warin le Falconer in 1222. (fn. 32) This Warin may perhaps be identified with Warin the son of Nicholas who acquired a virgate in Rushden in 1219. (fn. 33) 'The heir of Henry de Billing', who was in possession of a quarter of a knight's fee in Rushden in 1284, (fn. 34) was perhaps Cecily the wife of Henry le Sauvage; she, with her husband, quitclaimed two virgates to John Brabazon in 1290. (fn. 35) William Brabazon had a freehold in Rushden in the time of Edward III, assessed at 1/40 of a fee only, and held at an earlier date by Ralf de Punchardon, (fn. 36) of whom there is apparently no other record here. By 1428 it had passed into the hands of John Basset, whose land, though described as 1/16 of a fee, is stated to be that formerly held by William Brabazon, (fn. 37) but after this date the descent becomes obscure. It is just possible that this holding may be identified with the freehold which belonged at the end of the 16th century to John Page and afterwards descended to his daughters Elizabeth, the wife of Thomas Ekins, and Alice, the wife of Francis Gray; (fn. 38) and if so it probably became merged in the property attached to the site of the manor.
Land in Rushden was given by Warin le Falconer to the hospital of St. James outside Higham (to which no other reference appears to have been found), but part of it was unjustly alienated by William Bunch, the predecessor of John, who was master in 1284. (fn. 39)
A mill, rendering 10s., was one of the appurtenances of the manor in 1086. (fn. 40)
The church of ST. MARY consists of chancel, 38 ft. by 16 ft. 6 in., with north and south chapels its full length; north and south transepts; clerestoried nave of three bays, 54 ft. (fn. 41) by 19 ft. 6 in.; north aisle, 14 ft. wide; south aisle, 11 ft. 6 in. wide; north and south porches, and west tower, 14 ft. square, with tall stone spire. All these measurements are internal. The width across nave and aisles is 50 ft. 6 in. and across the transepts 85 ft. 6 in., the north transept projecting beyond the aisle 20 ft., the south transept 14 ft. 6 in.; both transepts are 20 ft. wide. The extreme internal length of the church is 113 ft.
The building is faced with rubble and has lowpitched leaded roofs throughout. The parapets are of ashlar, those of the transepts and porches plain, but elsewhere battlemented. The walls are plastered internally, except at the west end of the nave and in the south chapel.
The ground-plan of the church is almost entirely of the later part of the 13th century, but the building underwent various changes in the two following centuries, assuming its present aspect about 1500. The nave arcades seem to have been rebuilt about the middle of the 14th century, and the tower and spire are a little later, but apparently the tower replaced an earlier one and when it was erected the old nave roof was lowered and a clerestory added. The south porch also dates from the 14th century. The existing clerestory and the strainer arch between the nave and crossing of the transept are of the early i 5th century, while the north and south chapels of the chancel are a late-15th-century rebuilding and probable enlargement of earlier chapels which involved also the rebuilding of the chancel arcades. To the 15th century also belong the north porch, windows in the aisles, the east window of the south transept, the roofs of the nave and aisles and the parapets throughout. The church was restored in 1872.
Externally the whole of the east end of the building is of late-15th-century date, except the 13th-century priest's doorway in the south chapel, which is of a single continuous chamfered order with hood-mould. The chancel roof is lower than that of the nave, and the chapels have high lean-to roofs, making a long straggling battlemented gable across the whole of the unbroken east front. The chancel has an elaborate four-centred east window of five cinquefoiled lights, with battlemented transom, vertical tracery, and crocketed hoodmould with figure stops and finial carried up the middle merlon of the parapet to a now empty canopied niche. To the north of the altar is an image-bracket and cinquefoiled canopied niche and in the usual position in the south wall a beautiful 13th-century piscina and triple sedilia forming a single composition of four delicately moulded trefoiled arches, under straight labels or canopies with head-stops and small trefoils in the spandrels. The arches spring from detached shafts with moulded bases and moulded and foliated capitals. (fn. 42) At the east end the jamb is an attached shaft with fillet on the face and moulded capital and base: the seats are on one level. The west jamb of the piscina is chamfered, with a moulding at the top: the bowl is mutilated. Above the sedilia is a 13th-century opening of two uncusped lights, with a quatrefoiled circle in the head, flush with the face of the wall and repeated towards the aisle, or chapel; this opening is without glass lines and appears to have been always an internal feature, but some alteration in position may be suspected.
The chancel arcades have four-centred arches of two orders separated by casements, on piers consisting of four attached shafts with hollows between, and moulded capitals and bases. The two arches on the north side, which open to the Lady Chapel, are considerably wider than those opposite and both orders are moulded, the inner order resting on half-round responds, the outer continued to the ground. On the south side the orders are hollow-chamfered and are similarly treated. The sharply pointed chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, the inner springing from half-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases, the outer continuous.
The Lady Chapel (33 ft. 6 in. (fn. 43) by 14 ft. 6 in.) is lighted on the north side by two four-centred windows of three and four cinquefoiled lights respectively, with simple tracery and hood-moulds with head-stops, and at the east end by a large pointed window of five cinquefoiled lights with moulded jambs, elaborate vertical tracery and enriched hood-mould. The flowers in the hollow of the hood-mould are repeated in a stringcourse below the parapet. The west arch, separating the chapel from the north aisle, is of three chamfered orders on the west and two on the east side, the inner order on half-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases, and the hood-mould terminating in grotesque heads. The east end of the chapel is screened off, as at Higham Ferrers, by a solid wall about 8 ft. high, against which the altar was set, the space beyond forming the sacristy, a long narrow chamber about 4 ft. in width. The upper part of the screen, or reredos, has an arcading of five cinquefoiled crocketed ogee arches and battlemented top. There is no trace of a piscina, but a rebated rectangular aumbry remains in the north wall. The sacristy is entered from the chancel by a 13th-century continuous-chamfered doorway, and at its north end, covering the north-east corner of the building, is an octagonal battlemented turret containing a vice which gives access to the chapel roof; the doorway to the vice is 13th century, but is probably not in its original position. (fn. 44) The chapel roof is modern, but old stone corbels remain on the south side.
The south chapel (38 ft. by 14. ft.) is lighted at the east end by a pointed window of four lights and on the south by three four-centred windows, the westernmost of two and the others of three cinquefoiled lights, all with transoms, vertical tracery and crocketed hoodmoulds. In the easternmost window on the south the transom is battlemented and the hood-mould of the middle window has stops containing shields with the monograms [IHC] and [M]. In the usual position in the south wall is a 15th-century piscina with cusped head, crocketed label, and square bowl. The elaborate west arch of the chapel is of two moulded orders, its western face set within a rectangular moulded frame with panelled spandrels supported by scroll-bearing angels (fn. 45) on brackets. The jambs of the arch have a deep casement and shafted mouldings with capitals and heads over the hollows: an inscription on the soffit records the construction of the arch by Hugh Bochar and Julian his wife. (fn. 46)
The transepts for the most part preserve their late13th-century character. The walls, with their short coupled angle buttresses of a single stage, remain unaltered, and with the exception of the east window of the south transept, which is a tall 15th-century opening of three cinquefoiled lights with two embattled transoms and elaborate vertical tracery, all the original windows have survived. There is a chamfered stringcourse at sill level all round, stopping against the aisle walls, but both end-gables are of low pitch and the roofs have been altered. In the south transept ironstone is used in quoins, parapets, and bands in the south and west walls, but in the north arm in the quoins only. The end window of the south arm consists of three trefoiled graduated lancets, with pierced spandrels, double chamfered jambs, and hood-mould with notch terminations. The west wall is blank. The north end window is of four lights with intersecting tracery consisting of trefoiled circles, and has double hollow-chamfered jambs and hood-mould. The two inner lights are trefoiled, the outer plain. In the east wall is a window of two lancet lights with trefoiled circle in the head and notch-ended hood-mould, and a smaller one with reversed trefoil in the head high up at the south end of the wall. There are corresponding windows, slightly differing in detail, in the west wall. In the north transept are two rectangular aumbries, one at each end of the east wall, and in the west wall below the window a pointed doorway of a single continuous chamfered order: there is no piscina. The south transept was set apart in 1919 as a War Memorial Chapel, and the walls covered to sill level with panelling. Both transepts are separated from the aisles by 15th-century screens, but their roofs extend to the arcade of the nave, the eastern bay of which forms a structural 'crossing': the roofs are modern, or much restored. In the south transept the string below the parapet belongs to the 14th-century alterations and is ornamented with heads connected by tendrils.
The arches of the nave arcades are of two chamfered orders with hood-mould, springing from rather slender octagonal piers (fn. 47) with moulded capitals and bases: the inner order dies out above the capitals. The easternmost bay ranges with the transepts and its arches are therefore considerably wider than those farther west: (fn. 48) the responds follow the design of the piers but their moulded capitals are simpler. There are also transverse arches across the aisles west of the transepts, of two chamfered orders, straggling and unequal in shape, which spring on the wall side from corbels placed lower than the pier capitals. The strainer arch, which was introduced early in the 15th century to counteract the thrust of these transverse arches, consists, like that at Finedon, of a two-centred segmental moulded lower arch springing from the capitals of the easternmost piers, with an upper single-segment inverted arch resting upon it. The spandrels are filled with large traceried circles and elongated quatrefoils, and the inverted arch consists of a moulding and band of pierced quatrefoils set lozengewise surmounted by a battlemented cresting. At the spring of the lower arch, on either side, are figures of angels masking its junction with the arcade.
The two tall four-centred 15th-century windows of the aisles are of three cinquefoiled lights, of the same general character as those at the east end of the church, with elaborate vertical tracery beginning considerably below the spring of the arch and divided into two stages by embattled transoms. The single round-headed windows at the west end of the aisles appear to be 18thcentury insertions, or adaptations of earlier openings: the stops of the hood-mould of that to the north aisle bear the date 1718. (fn. 49)
There are five pointed clerestory windows on each side; three over the two western bays are of four cinquefoiled lights with traceried heads, and the others over the transepts are single cinquefoiled openings.
The 13th-century north doorway is of two hollowchamfered orders, the inner continuous with trefoiled head, the outer semicircular on nook-shafts with moulded capital and bases, and hood-mould with head-stops. The beautiful 15th-century two-story porch is elaborately vaulted and has a four-centred moulded outer arch within a rectangular frame, with traceried spandrels (fn. 50) and canopied niche above. The bracket for a statue remains, but in 1829 the niche was converted into a window to light the porch chamber, the original window on the west side being then blocked. Access to the chamber is from the outside by a doorway cut through the upper part of the east wall. (fn. 51) The diagonal angle buttresses of the porch are of two stages and in the west wall is a four-centred traceried window of three cinquefoiled lights.
The 14th-century south doorway is of two continuous wave-moulded orders, as is also the outer doorway of the plain unbuttressed contemporary porch, the coped gable of which has a trefoil finial: high up in the east wall is a small niche and in the west wall a singlelight window.
The graceful west tower and spire are, of their period, inferior to none in the county. The tower is of four stages, the three lower supported by double buttresses set back from the angles, above which, on each side, is a grotesque head. In the upper stage the angles are marked by flat pilasters. The buttresses and the quoins of the upper story are of ironstone, and there are ironstone bands irregularly placed on the intervening wall-spaces. The vice is in the south-west angle. The west doorway is covered, as at Higham Ferrers and Raunds, by a shallow stone porch (8 ft. by 4 ft.) with continuous moulded outer arch the straight-gabled embattled canopy of which is connected by cusping with the tower buttresses. Over the arch is an empty trefoiled niche, and above the canopy a plain gable of masonry forming the roof of the porch, which internally is covered with a small quadripartite vault whose chamfered ribs, as well as the wall-arches, spring from mutilated carved corbels: the boss is a six-leaf flower. The inner doorway has continuous mouldings divided by a casement but is without a hood, the wall above being quite plain. The west window is of three cinquefoiled lights, with moulded jambs and vertical tracery, and above it, in the third stage, is a clock dial. On the north and south sides the two lower stages are blank, but in the third stage is a small pointed window of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head. The large double bell-chamber windows are of the same type, but deeply recessed, with moulded jambs, and hood-moulds continued round the tower as a string. Above them, between the pilasters, is a band of trefoiled tracery, and the tower terminates in a beautiful parapet of pierced quatrefoiled circles on a corbel table of heads and flowers, with shafted angle pinnacles attached to the spire by pierced flying buttresses. The spire has crocketed angles and three tiers of gabled openings in the cardinal faces, the two lower being of two trefoiled lights, with transom and a quatrefoil in the head. The spire is 96 ft. high and the total height of tower and spire 192 ft.
The late 13th-century font has an octagonal bowl, the sides of which are carved with bold leaf-work, and the shaft has traceried ornament of various patterns.
The interesting 15th-century oak pulpit has traceried panels divided by buttresses, moulded top, and embattled bottom moulding: the canted front is supported on a shafted stem. (fn. 52)
The roof of the nave is of five bays, with moulded principals resting on angel corbels, and carved bosses: each bay is subdivided by moulded ribs into eight compartments and the battlemented end-pieces have shields within quatrefoils and an angel in the centre. The shorter roofs of the aisles are equally good, of two bays, with moulded principals, quatrefoiled wall-plates, and end-pieces, the bays subdivided as before, with angels below the intermediate cross ribs. The roof of the south chapel, though altered and much restored, is in large measure original, and has four moulded principals and battlemented wall-plate.
The 15th-century screenwork remains to be noticed. The rood-screen is much restored and the upper part modern: it has three tall traceried openings on each side of the doorway, but the lower part is quite plain, the rail and upright being unmoulded. The screens between the chancel and chapels extend across both openings on either side: less in height than the rood-screen they are of the same general character, with traceried openings and moulded top-rails and uprights, but they are extensively restored. (fn. 53) At the west end of the south chapel, below the Bochar arch, is a screen with two traceried openings on each side of the doorway and solid lower panels, the top-rail of which facing west is carved with vine pattern; and in a similar position in the north chapel a screen with elaborately carved top and middle rails, traceried openings, and solid lower panels.
The long screens inclosing the transeptal chapels are generally of the same character, but differ in detail, the upper rail of that on the north side being plain and the tracery rather simpler; both screens stand slightly in front of the aisle walls and are returned at the west end.
A few 15th-century seats remain at the west end of the nave.
At the east end of the north chapel, against the screen wall, is the canopied monument, with kneeling figures, of Robert Pemberton, 'gentleman usher to Queen Elizabeth for 30 years' (d. 1609), and Mary Traughton his wife (d. 1608). (fn. 54) The cornice is supported by pilasters with Renaissance ornament, and in the two panels at the base are the figures of four sons and four daughters. Against the north wall of the same chapel is the canopied tomb of Sir Goddard Pemberton, kt. (d. 1616), high sheriff of the county of Hertford, with reclining figure in armour under a semicircular coffered arch. There are also mural tablets to John Ekins (d. 1677) and Elizabeth his wife (d. 1663). (fn. 55)
In the tracery of the east window of the chancel are a few pieces of 15th-century glass, the remains of a Jesse window, comprising four prophets and eight kings, on a blue ground: the prophets wear hats and stand within loops of the vine, embowered in foliage, (fn. 56) the kings are nimbed. Other fragments of the same period occur in the east window of the north chapel, and in the north window of the nave. (fn. 57)
There are six bells, five by R. Taylor of St. Neots 1794, and the tenor by the same firm, then Robert Taylor & Son, 1818. (fn. 58)
The plate consists of a modern medieval chalice and paten of 1849, and a pewter flagon and bread holder. (fn. 59)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1598–1724; (ii) baptisms and burials 1726–83, marriages 1726–58; (iii) baptisms and burials 1783– 1812; (iv) marriages 17 54–1806; (v) marriages 1806–12.
The advowson of Rushden was granted by William Peverel to the prior and convent of Lenton, a cell of the abbey of Cluni, (fn. 60) and was seized by Edward II in 1324, and on various other occasions when England was at war with France. (fn. 61) At the Dissolution the rectory was valued at £12 yearly. (fn. 62) The advowson remained in the possession of the Crown until 1649, (fn. 63) though Sir Lewis Pemberton presented for one turn in 1630; (fn. 64) and it was granted during the Interregnum to John Ekins. (fn. 65) He surrendered his grant at the Restoration, petitioning for a fresh one from the king, (fn. 66) apparently unsuccessfully, as the Crown presented in 1665. (fn. 67) The living was in the gift of the Lord Chancellor in 1873, but afterwards passed to the Church Pastoral Aid Society, the present patrons; its net value is £444, including the residence and 6 acres of glebe. The vicarage was stated, in the 17th century, to be 'provided for £60 per annum besides major tythes'. (fn. 68) In 1324 the parson, Hugh de Willoughby, had enjoyed 'the greater and lesser tithes, profits, and fruits, and all tenements belonging to the church'; but this was only by virtue of a special lease made to him by Geoffrey the prior and the convent of Lenton for five years from 1 August 1324, in consideration of the release of an ancient debt of 200 marks obtained by them from his father, Sir Richard de Willoughby. (fn. 69) The church had been valued at £20 in 1291. (fn. 70) The chantry certificates of Edward VI's time record a gift of land and rents to the value of 14d. 'by divers persons' for the maintenance of lights in Rushden church.
By his will dated 24 May 1619 William May gave £100 to be laid out in the purchase of land for the benefit of the poor. Upon the inclosure of the parish 10 acres of land at Wollaston was allotted in lieu of the land purchased. This is now let at £20 per annum.
A yearly sum of £3 is paid by the trustees of Parson Latham's Hospital in Barnwell agreeably to the direction of Nicholas Latham the founder, who died about 1620.
A sum of £3 yearly, usually called the Bull Money, was originally given by a Mrs. Mary Greaves (date unknown). This rentcharge, which issued out of certain land in Rushden, was redeemed by the transfer in 1905 of £120 Consols to the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds. The above-mentioned charities are administered by a body of trustees known as the Parochial Trustees in conformity with the provisions of a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 29 May 1877. The income is applied in doles of 5s. each to aged poor and for the benefit of the local hospital.
Parish Clerk's Charity. For upwards of 250 years a piece of land containing an area of 222½ sq. yards with dwelling-house situate in Newton Road, Rushden, was held for the benefit of the Parish Clerk. The property was sold in 1923 and the proceeds invested, producing £38 10s. 6d. yearly in dividends. The charity is administered by the rector and churchwardens.
By his will proved in P.R. 1 May 1855 John Ward gave £400 Consolidated Bank Annuities, the interest to be applied in the first place in keeping in repair the tomb of his late father situate in the burial ground of the Baptist chapel, and the surplus to be applied in the repair of the chapel and towards the general expenses of the chapel. The endowment consists of £400 Consols producing £10 yearly in dividends. In 1922 £4 15s. was spent in repairs to the tomb.
Wm. Henry Wilkins by his will proved in P.R. 28 September 1905 gave to the Rushden Parochial Trustees two £50 4 per cent, mortgages of the Rushden and Higham Ferrers District Gas Co. the income to be applied for the benefit of the Rushden Nursing Association.
The same testator gave part of his estate to his wife's sisters, Mary Ann Foskett and Susan Elizabeth Foskett for life and directed that after the decease of each sister a sum of £200 should be paid to the Park Road Baptist Church and the residue to the parochial trustees, the income to be applied for the maintenance of any cottage hospital or nursing institute in Rushden. He also directed that the foregoing charities founded by him should be known as 'The Foskett Wilkins Charity'.
Miss Susan Elizabeth Foskett by her will proved in P.R. 25 February 1911 gave £50 and Miss Mary Ann Foskett by her will proved in P.R. 21 December 1918 gave £300 in augmentation of the charity for the Cottage Hospital. The endowments of these charities now produce an income of about £100.
The Wilkins Foskett (Cemetery) Charity was founded by Declaration of Trust dated 28 June 1922. The endowment consists of £10 original stock of the Rushden and Higham Ferrers District Gas Co. and the income is applied by the parochial trustees towards the upkeep of the cemetery for the parish of Rushden and particularly the graves of the Wilkins Foskett family.
By his will proved in P.R. 12 January 1924 Jeremiah Knight gave the interest on £1,000 and his house in Denmark Road, Rushden, to his niece Florence Cowley for life, and directed that upon her death the property should form part of his residuary estate, which he bequeathed to the trustees of the parochial charities for the support of a cottage hospital or nursing institute.
By codicil to his will proved in P.R. 11 January 1924 Joseph Arthur Loval Dearlove gave £100 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock, the income arising therefrom to be applied by the rector and churchwardens in keeping the Rushden churchyard in good order and particularly the grave of the testator's parents.
The Skinner (Cemetery) Charity was founded by Declaration of Trust dated 12 February 1925. The endowment consists of £120 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock and the income therefrom amounting to £3 yearly is applicable by the parochial charity trustees in the repair of the cemetery and the graves therein.
The several sums of stock are held by the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds.
The four almshouses built in 1883 to the memory of Frederick Maitland Sartoris are supported by his family.