A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1937.
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Oveston (xii–xvii cents.).
The parish of Overstone comprises an area of 1,764 acres of which 30 are water and nearly 200 are covered by woods and plantations. The soil is chiefly red loam, producing fine turnips and crops of wheat and pulse, while the subsoil consists of ironstone with some clay.
Overstone Park, formerly the property of Lady Wantage and afterwards the Philip Stott College for political students in economics, is now a public school for girls under the auspices of the Parents' National Educational Union.
The park covers nearly half the area of the parish and extends into the neighbouring parishes of Sywell and Ecton. A high wall, 6 miles in circumference incloses the park, containing wellgrown plantations and groups of handsome trees. The house, built about 1861, stands in the centre and is connected with the Wellingborough and Kettering highways by a road passing through the park from north to south. It overlooks an ornamental sheet of water of about 23 acres which has been made by draining the surrounding land, and has a fine view over the undulating country. At the north-west entrance to the park the 16th-century gateway from Pytchley Manor House (pulled down in 1824) was erected in 1843. It is of grey stone, with a wide middle archway, pilasters and entablature, and narrower side-openings, the upper part being of a somewhat nondescript character with tall pyramidal obelisk finials.
The village is small with well-built houses, and lies along the north wall of the park; the church standing just within the gates, but the Rectory and Rectory Farm with Overstone Grange and one or two other houses are about a mile north of the village, a little west of the Kettering road. The population in 1931 was 235.
The road skirting the park wall on the west rises from 267 ft. to 388 ft., and then falls again, the house standing on a terrace about 350 ft. which slopes to the lake below, lying at 284 ft.
Overstone is not mentioned in Domesday, but was probably included in Sywell, and was held with it by the Count of Mortain at thatdate. (fn. 1) Sywell was granted to Niel Mundeville, lord of Folkestone, when the Count of Mortain's possessions were confiscated by Henry I. Maud the daughter and heir of Niel Mundeville married Ruallon d'Avranches (de Abrincis), and the overlordship of OVERSTONE remained vested in the d'Avranches until, on the death of William without issue in 1235, it passed to his sister Maud, the wife of Hamon de Crevecoeur, who held it in her right; (fn. 2) but by 1275 it had escheated to the Crown as lands of Normans. (fn. 3)
The mesne lordship was obtained by Humphrey de Millers who married Felice the sister of a William d'Avranches, and probably the daughter of Ruallon and Maud Mundeville. (fn. 4) Humphrey, who was holding the manor in 1166, (fn. 5) had two sons, by the elder of whom, William, he was succeeded, the second son Ralph being rector of Overstone. (fn. 6) William died before 1223, (fn. 7) leaving two sons, the elder of whom, William, presented his brother Humphrey to the church in that year, and a daughter Felice, the heir of her brothers, who both died before 1241. (fn. 8) She was succeeded before 1247 by her son Gilbert de Wyarvill, sometimes called de Millers, (fn. 9) but his lands were forfeited to the Crown in 1271 as being those of a Norman. (fn. 10) Overstone was retained in the hand of the king for some years (fn. 11) and in 1281 the manor was bestowed on Christiane de Mareys to hold for life. In 1285 and again in 1290 one of her tenants Walter le Mazun complained that she had unjustly ejected him from 1 virgate of land which had been leased to him while Richard de Holebrook was bailiff (fn. 12) for 16s. and on which he had expended much money in buildings and improvements. (fn. 13) Christiane died c. 1312 when her executors, who were to hold the manor for 7½ years after her death, (fn. 14) leased it for that term to Robert de Appleby, clerk, at a rent of £50. Their lessee offended the king, who confiscated Overstone, (fn. 15) and appointed Martin de Ispanum steward in 1316, (fn. 16) but compensated the executors. (fn. 17) Overstone was granted in 1318 to Donald de Mar (fn. 18) who, however, joined the Scots against the king in 1327, and was declared a rebel, (fn. 19) Overstone being forfeited and granted to John Mautravers for life. (fn. 20) Richard de Grey of Codnor then petitioned the king for the manor and in 1329 he brought an action against John Mautravers on the ground that Gilbert de Millers, before he forfeited Overstone in 1271, had demised it to Richard de Grey, his great-grandfather. (fn. 21) Richard's claim was recognized to a certain extent, for in 1331 he received a grant of Overstone for 7 years at a rent of £35 12s. 11¾d., (fn. 22) but on his death in 1335 it was confiscated by the king, probably because there were two years' arrears of rent. (fn. 23) Thomas Wake of Deeping was granted the manor in 1335 to hold for one year at an increased rent of £40, (fn. 24) but it is doubtful if the grant ever took effect, as during the same year it was bestowed upon Sir Walter Manny in part satisfaction of £100 per annum granted to him by the king, Overstone being worth 100 marks a year. (fn. 25) Sir Walter Manny was a native of Hainault, but attached himself to the service of Edward III and took part in most of the French campaigns, being present at Sluys in 1340 and at Crecy in 1346, and was knighted in 1331, and in 1346 summoned to Parliament as a baron. (fn. 26) During his tenure of Overstone, John, the son of Richard de Grey who had died in 1335, renewed the claim of the de Grey family to the Overstone estates, (fn. 27) without success; and in 1365 one Edmund de Morteyn claimed that his greatgrandmother Constance was seised of the manor in the reign of Edward I, (fn. 28) but his pretensions were without foundation and Sir Walter Manny died seised of the manor in 1372, (fn. 29) and was buried in the Charterhouse, of which he was founder. His son having been drowned, the title and some of the property became the right of his daughter Anne, wife of John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and on her death in 1384 descended to her son John Hastings, the third earl, who died without issue in 1389. (fn. 30) Overstone, however, had been settled on Margaret, suo jure Countess of Norfolk, the wife of Sir Walter, who outlived her daughter and grandson and died in 1398. (fn. 31) In 1391, after the death of her heirs, she alienated the manor to John Duke of Lancaster (fn. 32) who settled it on John of Beaufort, his eldest son by Catherine Swinford. (fn. 33) John of Beaufort, who was created Earl of Somerset, died in 1410, and his son Henry (fn. 34) on his death in 1418 was succeeded by his brother John, a third part of the manor being held of their mother, Margaret Duchess of Clarence, (fn. 35) who accounted for half a fee in Overstone in 1428. (fn. 36) John was made Duke of Somerset and died in 1444, leaving a daughter Margaret, (fn. 37) who married Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, by whom she was the mother of Henry VII. When she died in 1509 Overstone became the property of her grandson Henry VIII (fn. 38) by whom it was granted in 1537 to Sir William Fitzwilliam, Lord High Admiral of England, and his heirs male. (fn. 39) The manor escheated to the crown on the death of Sir William without issue in 1542, (fn. 40) and was bestowed by Edward VI in 1550 upon Thomas Smythe, one of the secretaries of state, and Elizabeth his wife, and the heirs of Thomas. (fn. 41) In 1577 Sir Thomas Smythe settled the manor on his brother George, after his own decease and for the lifetime of his wife Philippa, at whose death it was to pass to John Wood, his nephew. Sir Thomas died the same year, and his widow dying the following year, the manor came to John Wood, (fn. 42) who in 1610 settled it on his daughter Magdalen on her marriage with Sir Thomas Edmondes. (fn. 43) They had one son Henry, after whose death without issue in 1635 (fn. 44) Sir Thomas settled the manor on his three daughters Isabel la Warr, widow, Mary, afterwards the wife of Robert Mildmay, and Louisa the wife of Thomas Gwilliams. (fn. 45) Sir Thomas died in 1639 (fn. 46) and in 1640 Louisa and her husband gave up their right in the manor to Mary and Robert Mildmay, (fn. 47) Isabel having evidently died before without issue. Mary and Robert were succeeded by their son Henry, who was holding the manor in 1656. (fn. 48) On his death without issue in 1662, his estates passed to his brother Benjamin Lord Fitz Walter who sold them in 1672 to Edward Strafford, (fn. 49) whose son Henry pulled down the old manor-house and built a new one in its place, which he sold with the manor in 1737 to Thomas, afterwards Sir Thomas Drury, bart. (fn. 50) Through Sir Thomas the manor passed together with the advowson of Little Billing (q.v.) to Lord Brownlow, who conveyed it in 1791 to John Kipling, one of the clerks in chancery and Keeper of the Public Records, (fn. 51) of whom it was purchased in 1832 by Mr. Loyd, (fn. 52) father of Lord Overstone, after which date it has a descent identical with that of Abington Manor (q.v.).
The park which now surrounds the house originated in the licence given to Gilbert de Millers by Henry III in 1255 to 'inclose with a dike and hedge or with a wall, his wood of Ouiston, and to make a park thereof'. (fn. 53) It is referred to in 1358, when John Waryn of Yardley, a canon of Ravenstone Priory (Bucks.), and others poached deer in Sir Walter Manny's park of Overstone. (fn. 54) During the reign of Henry VIII several grants were made of the keepership of the park. (fn. 55)
In 1275 two mills are mentioned as belonging to the manor, (fn. 56) which were there also in 1372. (fn. 57) In 1545 Baldwin Willoughby received a 21 years' lease of a watermill, (fn. 58) which was granted with the manor is 1550 to Thomas Smythe. (fn. 59) The second mill must have fallen into disuse before this date as there is mention of one only, which descended with the manor during the 16th and 17th centuries although at the present day there is no trace of it.
The church of ST. NICHOLAS, which stands within the park about a quarter of a mile north of the mansion, was erected on a new site about 1803 at the sole charge of Mr. John Kipling, in place of an older building which was then pulled down. (fn. 60) The old church stood in front of the former manor-house and consisted of chancel, nave, north aisle and embattled west tower. (fn. 61) No adequate record of it has been preserved, and the belief that it belonged to the Decorated period (fn. 62) is based on insufficient data.
The present building consists of chancel, 15 ft. 6 in. long by 19 ft. 6 in. wide, with vestry on the north and organ-chamber on the south side; nave, 30 ft. 6 in. by 10 ft. 3 in., south aisle, 11 ft. wide, and west tower, 11 ft. 4 in. by 8 ft. 2 in., all these measurements being internal. There is also a porch on the north side of the tower. The chancel and nave are under a single slated eaved roof, and the tower is of three stages with embattled parapet and pinnacles. As originally built, the church consisted only of chancel, nave, and tower, with west gallery and squire's pew on the south side of the chancel. (fn. 63) It was in the Gothic style of the day, faced with Kingsthorpe stone, and the interior was described in 1849 as being 'emphatically neat'. (fn. 64) In 1903 the building was restored, the south aisle and organ-chamber added, the gallery removed, and the interior remodelled. All the fittings, including the font (fn. 65) and pulpit are modern. There are mural tablets from the old church to Frances, wife of Henry Stratford and daughter of Thomas Penruddock (d. 1717), Edward Stratford (d. 1721), and Elizabeth, wife of the Rev. Paul Ives, rector (d. 1792): later ones commemorate John Kipling (d. 1830), Harriet, Lady Overstone (d. 1864), Lord Overstone (d. 1883), and Canon E. J. Birch, rector 1857–1900. In the east window is some late medieval German glass, with figures of our Lord and St. John the Baptist.
There are three bells: the first an alphabet bell by Hugh Watts 1609, the second by Henry Bagley 1676, and the third by Taylor & Co. of Loughborough, 1903. (fn. 66)
The plate consists of a bread-holder of 1689 inscribed 'The gift of Paul Ives, rector, to the church of Overston 1704'; a cup and paten of 1735, the former inscribed 'Overston. This cup and Paten were exchanged at ye expence of Doctor Paul Ives, Rector, for ye use of ye Communion Table, 1736'; and a flagon of 1735 given by Dr. Ives in the following year. (fn. 67)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1673–1812, burials 1680–1812, (ii) marriages, 1754– 1812.
The advowson of Overstone Church, first mentioned in 1223, (fn. 68) was appendant to the manor until the end of the 17th century when it was sold by Edward Stratford to Robert Ives, (fn. 69) in whose family it remained until 1743 when Paul Ives conveyed it to Sir Thomas Drury, bart. (fn. 70) It was thus re-united with the manor, and descended with it until 1923, when the rectory was united with that of Sywell (q.v.), the patronage of the united benefices being exercised alternately by the Duchy of Cornwall and Mr. G. E. Stott. (fn. 71)
Edward Stratford by his will dated 22 January 1714 charged his manor of Overstone with a yearly payment of 20s. to the poor. This charge is paid by the owner of Overstone Farm and is distributed in cash to poor widows, as is a rent-charge of 10s. formerly given by a Dr. Bentham, also paid by the owner of Overstone Farm.
John Kipling by his will proved 23 September 1831 gave to the rector and churchwardens a sum of £200 Consols, now with the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds, the interest to be applied for the benefit of such poor women who shall have the care of the church. The dividends, amounting to £5 yearly, are paid to the sexton.