A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 5, the Hundred of Cleley. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The ancient parish of Grafton Regis occupied some 1,300 acres (fn. 1) on the west bank of the river Tove about ten miles south of Northampton and four miles north-west of Stony Stratford. (fn. 2) The parish was bounded on the east and north by the Tove, which separates Grafton from Stoke Bruerne, Ashton, Hartwell and the Buckinghamshire parish of Hanslope; on the south by Yardley Gobion in the parish of Potterspury; and on the west by Paulerspury and Alderton. In 1883 a detached 16 a. of Alderton at Dunmore Meadow, at the northern end of the parish, was added to Grafton, and in 1935 the rest of Alderton was transferred to Grafton. (fn. 3) The two parishes were combined into a single ecclesiastical living in 1774 when Alderton rectory was annexed to that of Grafton. (fn. 4)
As one of the nine 'out-towns' of Whittlewood, Grafton Regis enjoyed rights of common in the forest between 4 May and 25 September, and when Whittlewood was disafforested in the 1850s claimed compensation for loss of this right. (fn. 5)
The north-western extremity of Grafton parish extended to within a short distance of Alderton village: a small portion of land here formed part of Alderton common fields before inclosure and was let thereafter with one of the Alderton farms. (fn. 6) This, together with the way in which until 1883 the parish of Alderton included an area of former common meadow which geographically lay wholly within Grafton, suggests that in the early Middle Ages the two may have formed a single estate. The case for this is perhaps supported by the fact that both parishes are bounded on the north and south by the same natural feature, i.e. the Tove to the north and an unnamed east-flowing tributary to the south.
The land of the parish rises from the Tove valley in the east, which here drops from about 250 ft. above sea level at Twyford Bridge at the northern end of the parish to about 225 ft. in the south, near the Yardley Gobion boundary, to a maximum height of some 340 ft. on the higher ground to the south west. The parish is composed mostly of Oolitic Limestone, overlain towards the west and south west by heavier clay. (fn. 7)
Only one household is recorded at Grafton in 1086, (fn. 8) although in 1301 no fewer than 62 people were assessed to the lay subsidy. (fn. 9) By contrast, only about a dozen families were listed in the assessment of 1524. (fn. 10) A total of 29 householders were assessed to the hearth tax in 1674, of whom 10 were discharged through poverty. (fn. 11) Similarly, the parish contained 31 houses with a population of 167 in 1801, which rose to a peak of 266 in 1841 before falling back to 169 in 1881. The lowest figure (92) was reached in 1911. A recovery after the First World War lifted the population to 174 in 1931, the last census before the parish was amalgamated with Alderton. The population of Grafton itself fell during the remainder of the 20th century to about 100 in 2000. (fn. 12)
The parish (fn. 13) is bisected by the main road which branches from Watling Street at Old Stratford to run north-north-west to Northampton and on to Nottingham. (fn. 14) The road enters Grafton from the south by a crossing of the unnamed tributary of the Tove which here forms the parish boundary, which is the 'Stone Bridge' referred to in the early 18th century, (fn. 15) and leaves by the rather larger Twyford Bridge, which carries the road over the Tove itself.
Landscape and Settlement.
A prhistoric site about 60 ft. in diameter, with a dark area and many burnt pebbles, found to the west of Grafton Fields Farm was probably a communal cooking area dating to c. 2500 BC. Iron Age pottery has also been found to the west of the main Northampton Road and to the south of Grafton Lodge a large Roman site, probably a farmstead, has produced pottery, building stone and blackened soil. (fn. 16) Systematic field-walking to the south-east of the church has produced evidence of settlement for most periods from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. (fn. 17)
The village of Grafton grew up at the top of the hill (about 300 ft. above sea level) which lies between the two river crossings, where a church was built on high ground overlooking the river valley, a quarter of a mile east of the main road, with which it was linked by two lanes, which together formed a triangular layout. In the Middle Ages settlement extended further to the south and east towards the Tove than it has in modern times, and there were also houses within the triangle of roads which have since disappeared. (fn. 18)
A substantial capital messuage stood immediately to the west of the of the church in the Middle Ages. This may have been the home of the Domesday sub-tenant of Grafton but from about 1100 until 1348 the manor was in the hands of a Norman monastery whose bailiff or lessee presumably occupied the house. The same must have been true for a century after 1348 when Grafton belonged to an absentee magnate family. From about 1440, however, the mansion can legitimately be called a 'manor house', when it was the home of the Woodville family, during which time the village was known as Grafton Woodville. (fn. 19) The house passed with the manor to the Greys, marquesses of Dorset, at the end of the 15th century and then to Henry VIII in 1527. He greatly enlarged the house and it was in this period that the parish acquired its modern name of Grafton Regis. The royal mansion was besieged and partly demolished in 1643 and replaced with a smaller house on the same site in the 1650s. Known as the Great House in the 18th century and since the mid 19th as Grafton Manor, the house was a working farm until the Second World War and retains an extensive range of former farm buildings arranged around a courtyard to the south east of the main building. (fn. 20)
There was evidently a park to the south-east of the manor house in the later Middle Ages, since the field across the road from the house was later called 'Old Park'. (fn. 21) There are earthworks in the field that appear to represent a rabbit warren and fishponds, but it also contains house platforms, indicating that the park occupies land that was once built upon. (fn. 22) This medieval park was presumably converted to inclosed pasture in Henry VIII's time, when a much larger park was created to the west of the main road. (fn. 23)
As well as the church and manor house, there were five farms in the village in the 16th and 17th centuries, a number reduced to two from 1731 and thereafter there were never more than four. (fn. 24) In addition, there was a parsonage to the east of the church and a growing number of cottages with small pieces of land attached, mostly built on the waste on either side of the main road between the two junctions. Eleven cottages are listed in a survey of 1660, (fn. 25) about 20 in 1725, (fn. 26) and roughly twice that number a century later (fn. 27) and in 1875. (fn. 28) Probably by the middle of the 18th century (fn. 29) (and certainly by 1800) (fn. 30) the farmhouses were all stone-built with tiled roofs, although in 1749 the Great House was apparently still thatched. (fn. 31) Most of the cottages, on the other hand, although stonebuilt, were still thatched in 1920, when the duke of Grafton's estate in the village was partially broken up by sale, (fn. 32) and some remained so at the time of writing.
One of the cottages on the east side of the main road, immediately to the north of the White Hart, was the home for some decades in the 19th century of a family named Smith, who had in their possession a portrait, painted in oils on an oak panel, of a young man, dated 1588, when the subject was aged 24. The picture was later taken by a daughter of the family to Winston-on-Tees (Co. Durham), where it hung in the bar of the Bridgewater Arms for some years. About 1907 the painting was claimed to be an early portrait of Shakespeare; it was purchased by one of those who supported this view, Thomas Kay of Stockport, by whom it was bequeathed to John Rylands Library in Manchester, where it remains. (fn. 33) The Smiths' cottage and its neighbour were destroyed by fire in 1908, caused by sparks from a motor wagon belonging to Phipps, the Northampton brewers, (fn. 34) although by that date the picture had long been removed. It was traditionally said to have been hidden in a secret chamber in the cottage, and to have been saved from the ruins of Grafton House in the aftermath of the siege of 1643. (fn. 35)
Outside the village, most of the land of the parish was cultivated in three common fields in the Middle Ages, which, together with the common meadow, were inclosed by private agreement in the 1720s. (fn. 36)
Apart from inclosure, the other major change in the topography of Grafton Regis in the 18th century was the building in the 1790s of the Grand Junction Canal. Entering the parish just to the east of Stone Bridge, the canal ran due north through the old Bancroft Field and Fenn Field and then closely followed the Tove to Dunmore Meadow, where it was supplied with water from the river before continuing north into Stoke Bruerne parish. There were no locks on the stretch in Grafton, which was completed in 1800, and the nearest wharf was at Yardley, a little over a mile from the village, (fn. 37) although four bridges were provided to provide access to fields severed by the canal.
One of these bridges carried a new lane built from the cottages to the east of the church through the inclosed pastures to Bozenham Mill; before this period the lane which ran past the church petered out at the cottages just beyond and the only access to the mill was via the lane which ran from the main road at the Alderton turning due east across the fields. (fn. 38) This provided a convenient route for the farmers of Alderton (fn. 39) but was long way round for their neighbours in Grafton. A bridge over the canal was provided to preserve this means of access, which was still in use as a footpath in the late 19th century (fn. 40) but was later abandoned in favour of the lane from Grafton village to the mill.
There appears never to have been either a water-mill or windmill in Grafton, whose farmers, certainly in the 16th century and later, ground their corn at Bozenham Mill, just inside Hartwell parish. (fn. 41)
The topographical history of the south-western part of Grafton Regis stands somewhat apart from that of the rest of the parish. The ground rises between the main road and the parish boundary about a mile away to the west and the soil here is generally heavier and wetter. It was presumably in this area that most of the woodland said to exist at Grafton in the Middle Ages was to be found. There were 20 acres of wood on the manor in 1086 (fn. 42) and in 1245 the abbot of Grestain was given permission to make a gift of six oaks from the woods of Grafton. (fn. 43) In 1490 the last Earl Rivers in his will asked his chosen heir, Thomas marquess of Dorset, to sell sufficient underwood from the woods at Grafton as would buy a bell for the church there. (fn. 44)
It was also in this part of the parish, a short distance west of the main road, that a hermit established himself, apparently towards the end of the 12th century, who was probably living under the Augustinian rule and may have moved to Grafton from St. James's abbey in Northampton. By 1256, or a little before, the house had grown into a small religious community and continued to prosper until the second half of the 14th century. From about 1370, however, the building appears to have become a perpetual chantry belonging to the Woodville family, one of whom (Thomas Woodville, who died in 1435), tried unsuccessfully to persuade St. James to resume responsibility for the house. At some point in Edward IV's reign, possibly because they were unhappy at the abbey's failure to act, the Woodvilles took over the chantry again and undertook a major reconstruction of the building, which they may have used as a private chapel in this period. After the Woodvilles' fall from power the house probably again fell into decay and may have been suppressed by St. James well before the abbey itself was dissolved in 1538. (fn. 45)
After the chantry was suppressed the buildings were demolished and the site later absorbed into the park which in the 16th century came to occupy much of the south-west of the parish. Once the manor had passed to the Crown in 1527 Henry VIII greatly enlarged what appears to have been a small existing park in this area, adding land from the common fields of both Alderton and Grafton (where the park extended right up to the edge of the village, including the site of the chantry), and created a consolidated area of almost a thousand acres by combining Grafton with the nearby Potterspury and Plum parks. He also built (or rebuilt and greatly enlarged) two lodges for the park-keepers at Grafton and Potterspury, the former standing on newly imparked land about a quarter of a mile west of the village. The whole of this parkland remained part of the Crown estate until 1644, when it was sold, or at least mortgaged in such a way that the Crown was unable to recover the land after 1660. It was therefore not included in the grant of the honor of Grafton to Queen Catherine in 1665, nor the reversionary grant to the earl of Arlington eight years later, and has a separate later tenurial history. (fn. 46)
The destruction of the timber within the park seems to have begun in the mid 17th century, although there was still a good deal of woodland there in the 1720s. Clearance continued, however, and by the end of the 18th century was largely complete. In the 19th century Grafton Lodge was a farm of about 300 a. surrounded by fields which had once belonged to the park. (fn. 47)
The former lodge was the only farmstead in the parish outside the village until the 1840s, when it was joined by Grafton Fields, built by the Wakefield Lodge estate about half a mile to the south, in the centre of what had previously been Sties Field. The new farmstead, of stone with a slate roof, followed a standard design and layout similar to others built elsewhere on the estate during the same period. It was the only major new building anywhere in the parish in the 19th century, which was otherwise confined to a pair of semi-detached cottages on the lane leading past the Manor (fn. 48) and a National school (with house attached), which in 1873 replaced an old farmhouse (and former inn) on the main road at the northern edge of the village. (fn. 49)
Twentieth-century development was equally limited. Neither the Manor nor any of the farms was sold when most of the Wakefield Lodge estate was broken up in 1919-20 and only a few of the cottages were disposed of. (fn. 50) No building land became available as a result of the sales and the first new houses to be erected for many years were two blocks of four built by the rural district council in the 1930s on the south side of Church Lane. (fn. 51) The Grafton Estate sold the Manor in 1966 but retained some 650 a. in the parish, none of which has since been released for building. Development has thus been confined to the replacement of a former farmstead near the junction of the two lanes running east from the main road by a large private house, Barley Barns, and some infilling of vacant plots and refurbishment of existing property on the east side of Northampton Road. All the cottages on the west side of the road were demolished in the 1960s when the road was widened to improve access to the nearby M1 motorway. (fn. 52) During this decade a local guide suggested that owing to the decay of some of the older houses and the felling of many fine trees, the village had lost much of its beauty in recent years. (fn. 53)
A sense of stagnation was also detected in 1971, when residents felt that a few more houses should be built, mainly to attract more young couples. Although Grafton fell within a part of south Northamptonshire which planners wished to preserve as a rural area forming a barrier to the further expansion of Milton Keynes new town, local people could see no harm in allowing at least some infill development. (fn. 54) The growth of the village in fact continued to be constrained by a policy of generally allowing no new building, which was also partly dictated by the limited capacity of the sewerage system. (fn. 55) Several proposals to develop a site on Church Lane alongside the pre-war council houses were turned down in the 1980s. (fn. 56)
The inclusion of Elias, the hermit of Grafton, as a witness to a charter of Walkelin, abbot of St. James's abbey, near Northampton, between 1180 and 1205, (fn. 57) appears to be the earliest evidence for a hermitage at Grafton. In 1233 Thomas the monk of the hermitage of Grafton paid half a mark for an assart there (fn. 58) and in 1256 the master and brethren of the hermitage were granted simple protection for three years. (fn. 59) Richard de Harlestone was appointed master of the house in 1268, presented by James de Woodville. (fn. 60) After Richard's death in 1284 John de Woodville presented Walter Frusellu to the mastership. The brethren put up a candidate of their own but the bishop of Lincoln upheld Woodville's right to make the appointment. (fn. 61) In 1313, after Frusellu's death, Adam de Banfield was presented by the Woodville family and, despite renewed opposition, was appointed. (fn. 62) The Woodvilles presented again in 1340 and 1349, but in 1370 the bishop himself appointed Walter Childe to what was described (as in 1340) as the chantry or hermitage of St. Michael, because the lay patron had failed to do so. Childe seems to have been the last master. (fn. 63)
During the 13th century the house received a grant of 22¼d. yearly rent from Robert de Twyford, with the assent of Rose his wife, being all the rent he received from Robert de Bosenhoe in Shutlanger. (fn. 64) Ingram Cummin gave St. James's abbey 5s. 6d. yearly rent out of virgate of land in Alderton, which the religious brethren of Grafton held of him, rendering 18d. yearly to the chief lord, and William Bond of Alderton later remitted to the brethren of St. Mary and St. Michael of Grafton the latter payment. (fn. 65) The brethren had land and meadow in Alderton in the 14th century. (fn. 66)
The house seems to have gone into decline after 1370 and is not heard of again until Thomas Woodville, by his will of 1434, directed his trustees to convey the hermitage, and other lands, to St. James's, for a term of 50 years, in return for which Thomas asked the abbey to maintain five poor men and a keeper, possibly at the house at Grafton. (fn. 67) Thomas's will was disputed by his half-brother and heir Richard, so that St. James did not receive their donation until 1442, the year after Richard's death. (fn. 68) St. James may have lacked the resources to keep their side of the bargain of 1434 and at some date in Edward IV's reign the Woodvilles repossessed the hermitage, which Anthony Earl Rivers was ordered to return to St. James in 1483. (fn. 69) In his will, made the same year, Rivers left money towards finding a priest for the hermitage. (fn. 70) His nephew, Richard, the third and last Earl Rivers, in his will of 1491 mentioned the 'old inheritance' which he had of the hermitage, perhaps referring to the impending expiry of the term of 50 years created by Thomas Woodville in 1434, but made no gift towards the upkeep of the house. (fn. 71)
There appear to be no later references to the hermitage, for example in connection with the suppression of St. James's abbey, and it may have been abandoned well before the 1530s. The site was later absorbed into the enlarged Grafton Park, which in 1558 contained an 'Armitage Grove' of 3½ acres. (fn. 72)
The site was rediscovered and extensively excavated in 1964-5 when a pillared cloister, measuring some 34 ft. by 35 ft. internally, was found, flanked by a chapel (48 ft. by 15 ft.) and several other buildings, some of two storeys. Beyond lay a dovecote, what may have been a hospital, and an industrial complex. (fn. 73) During the 15th-century rebuilding the cloister was sealed off and the chapel refloored with tiles decorated with the arms of Woodville and the house of York, a feature that has led to the suggestion that the chapel may have been the scene of the marriage between Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville in 1464. (fn. 74)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES
Manor of Grafton.
In 1066 Grafton was held freely by Godwin. Twenty years later it had become part of the extensive Northamptonshire estates of Robert count of Mortain, whose sub-tenant William held four-fifths of one hide there in 1086. (fn. 75) Robert's son and successor William forfeited the comte for rebellion in 1106 and the title was later bestowed by Henry I on his nephew Stephen. On Stephen's death in 1154 his surviving son William succeeded to the comte but died childless in 1159, when it was resumed by the Crown. In 1189 Richard I made his younger brother John count of Mortain, which he lost with the rest of his Norman possessions in 1204. (fn. 76)
Sometime between 1086 and 1106 Count William gave to the abbot and convent of Notre Dame de Grestain, a Benedictine house near the mouth of the Seine, in the diocese of Lisieux, founded by his grandfather in 1040, all that he possessed in Grafton, together with the church there. (fn. 77) The abbot of Grestain thus appears as the tenant-in-chief of Grafton in the early 12th-century Northamptonshire survey, although the manor is placed in error under Towcester hundred and its assessment at four hides appears to be a mistake for the Domesday figure of four-fifths of one hide. (fn. 78) The abbot also appears as lord of Grafton in 1166. (fn. 79)
When John seized the English lands of the Norman monasteries in 1204 Grafton was in the hands of a tenant named William de Humet, (fn. 80) perhaps the successor of the 'Robert de Hum' who owed a mark for building a smithy in the forest there in 1167. (fn. 81) In 1205 the king confirmed the gifts William had made to various subtenants at Grafton. (fn. 82) Grestain paid no fine for the custody of its lands on this occasion but answered for the revenues, since the abbot and the English monks had to promise to send nothing to Normandy. (fn. 83) In 1231 the abbot released three of his tenants from certain services and suit of his court at Grafton. (fn. 84) Conversely, in 1235 the abbot resisted the claim of Walter de Woodville that, as lord of Grafton, he owed suit to Walter's court for the hundred of Cleley, (fn. 85) a dispute in which Grestain was eventually successful, for in 1316 a charter of Edward II, confirming various grants to the abbey, recited that John son of Walter de Woodville had released the abbot and convent and their tenants at Grafton from suit at the hundred court. (fn. 86) In 1245 the abbot was pardoned for making wastes and assarts in the forest without licence and his woods returned to him. (fn. 87)
In 1284 Grestain was said to hold the vill of the count of Mortain, although it was not known by what service, (fn. 88) and the abbot was similarly returned as tenant in 1316. (fn. 89) In 1329 the prior of Wilmington (Sussex), Grestain's English house, claimed to hold Grafton (still said to be in the fee of Mortain) of the king in pure alms, although he knew not by what warrant. The abbot, however, successfully argued that the prior held nothing in Grafton except at his will and that he held it of the king in chief as of the fee of Mortain, as his predecessors had since time immemorial. (fn. 90)
In 1348 Grestain had to dispose of its English property to raise funds for a loan to its patron, Jehan de Melun, sire de Tancarville, who had been captured at Crecy and was in need of money for a ransom. Tancarville argued that their English estates were of little value to Grestain, in view of the difficulties of remitting income back to France during the wars of the early 14th century, but it seems unlikely that they would have disposed of them had they not been forced to, or had not found Norman lands to buy in exchange. (fn. 91) In November that year the abbot was granted a licence to demise eight manors in various counties, including Grafton, for a term of a thousand years to a merchant named Tidemann de Lymbergh. (fn. 92) Tidemann appears to have been acting simply as a middleman: in 1350 he secured a licence to grant the former Grestain estates to any Englishman he chose, to be held of the king by the service of one knight's fee, (fn. 93) and four years later demised Grafton to Sir Michael de la Pole, the wealthy Hull merchant, for the remainder of the term of a thousand years created in 1348. (fn. 94) Also in 1354 Pole had a grant of free warren in his demesne lands of Grafton and elsewhere. (fn. 95)
Grafton, together with some of the other former Grestain manors which had passed through Tidemann de Lymbergh's hands, remained in the possession of the de la Pole family for the next three generations. In 1366 Michael granted Edmund de la Pole an annuity of 10 marks charged on the rents of the manor of Grafton, (fn. 96) and in 1379 Michael and Edmund were granted exemption from the ecclesiastical taxation owed on the manor, which was described as a possession of Grestain. (fn. 97) In 1380 Michael received licence to grant the manor itself, held in chief, to his son William for his life, (fn. 98) which in 1384 was enlarged into a grant in tail male, with successive remainders in default of heirs to William's younger brothers Richard and Thomas, also in tail male. (fn. 99) The following year Michael was created earl of Suffolk but in 1386 was impeached and convicted by Parliament, with many of his lands forfeit. The proceedings against him were declared void in August 1387 but in December that year he fled the realm. In his absence he was found guilty by Parliament in February 1388 of high treason, whereby all his honours were forfeit. He died at Paris in 1389, (fn. 100) when it was found that the manor of Grafton had been occupied by William de la Pole, and not his father, since the grant of 1384. (fn. 101)
William de la Pole died in July 1390, (fn. 102) leaving no male heir. Grafton therefore passed, under the terms of the family settlement of 1384, to his younger brother Richard, then aged about 11, (fn. 103) who was granted livery of the manor in July 1391. (fn. 104) Richard de la Pole died without heirs in December 1403. Although his next heir was his eldest brother Michael, second earl of Suffolk, the descent of the manor continued to be determined by the deed of 1384 and so passed to his youngest brother Thomas, aged about 26, (fn. 105) who was given livery of the manor, held in chief by knight service, in January 1404. (fn. 106) The advowson, on the other hand, did pass to Earl Michael. (fn. 107)
Thomas de la Pole died in 1420, having three years earlier entrusted Grafton to two feoffees, of whom the survivor conveyed the manor, held in chief by the service of one-seventh of a knight's fee, to Thomas's wife Anne and their heirs, without licence from the Crown. (fn. 108) After Thomas's death these trespasses were pardoned for a fine of 40 marks and for a further payment of 20s. Anne's homage was respited until Easter 1421. (fn. 109) Thomas and Anne's only son, also named Thomas, died in 1430 during his mother's lifetime. Although his heir was his sister Katherine, then aged 14, the manor of Grafton was to pass, on the determination of his mother's life interest, to William, fourth earl of Suffolk, the younger son of Thomas's uncle Michael, the second earl. (fn. 110) In 1436 William and his wife Alice received licence to alienate lands held of the king in chief to the yearly value of £400, in consideration of the good service which the earl would do the king in proceeding to the war in France. (fn. 111) In 1440, in pursuance of the earlier licence, Suffolk and his wife conveyed the manor of Grafton, held of the king as of the honor of Pinkney and valued at £24 a year, to Richard Woodville and his wife Jacquetta. (fn. 112)
By this grant Grafton came into the hands of a local family who had risen steadily to prominence in the area since the early 13th century and appear to have been living at Grafton, presumably as tenants of the de la Poles and before that of Grestain, for much of this time. (fn. 113) Richard Woodville, who considerably enhanced his family's standing by his marriage in 1436 or 1437 to Jacquetta, widow of John duke of Bedford, (fn. 114) was the son and heir of another Richard, who died late in 1441, (fn. 115) having inherited from his half-brother Thomas Woodville, who died in 1435, a substantial estate in Grafton and neighbouring parishes, including the hundred of Cleley but not, at this date, the manor of Grafton. (fn. 116) In 1440-1 Richard and Jacquetta used their recently acquired manor, 'called the Bury', as security for two loans totalling 900 marks from two London merchants. (fn. 117)
Richard Woodville continued to prosper during the middle decades of the 15th century. In 1448 he was created Lord de Ryvers and in 1466, following the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth to Edward IV, he was advanced to Earl Rivers. (fn. 118) In 1457 he had a grant of free warren in all his demesne lands in Grafton and two other estates in Northamptonshire. (fn. 119) After the Yorkist defeat at Edgecote, however, in August 1469, Rivers and his son John were taken from their manor house at Grafton to Northampton, where they were given up to the earl of Warwick and executed without trial. (fn. 120) Grafton passed to another son, Anthony, who in turn fell from favour after Edward IV's death in 1483. Arrested by the duke of Gloucester, he was beheaded at Pontefract in June that year, leaving no issue. (fn. 121) The title and estates thus passed to his brother Richard, the third and last Earl Rivers, who died in 1491, also without issue, when the barony and earldom became extinct. (fn. 122)
By his will Earl Richard appointed Thomas Grey, marquess of Dorset, as his heir, to whom he left all his lands, desiring that he should sell as much underwood from the woods at Grafton as would buy a bell for the parish church to serve as a memorial to the last of the Woodvilles of Grafton. (fn. 123) Dorset was the son and heir of John Lord Ferrers of Groby, who was the first husband of Elizabeth Woodville, the daughter of the first Earl Rivers, who married Edward IV as her second husband. He died in 1501 and was succeeded by his son Thomas, to whom he left (among other estates) the neighbouring manors of Grafton, Hartwell, Ashton, Roade, Wick Hamon and Wick Dive. (fn. 124) In November 1502 Thomas received licence to enter all his father's possessions. (fn. 125)
The second marquess of Dorset held the manors of Grafton and Hartwell until 1527, when he surrendered them to Henry VIII in exchange for the manors of Loughborough and Shepshed (Leics.). (fn. 126) He died in 1530. (fn. 127) Just over ten years later Grafton and Hartwell became the nucleus around which Henry VIII created the honor of Grafton and since 1542 the descent of the manor has followed the same course as that of the honor, which remained part of the Crown estate until 1706, when it passed to the 2nd duke of Grafton. (fn. 128) The 11th duke was lord of the manor of Grafton at the time of writing.
The capital messuage belonging to the manor of Grafton (and from 1542 to the honor) has always stood on the site of the existing Grafton Manor to the west of the church; the idea that the medieval hermitage was later a manor house is supported by neither archaeological nor historical evidence. (fn. 129) The mansion next to the church was presumably built by the Woodville family during the period in which they were tenants of either the de la Poles or, before 1348, Grestain abbey. Although there appear to be no medieval references to such a house, it is clear from the earliest accounts of work done at Grafton immediately after Henry VIII acquired the estate that an existing house was being repaired, not a new one being built. In 1528-9 stone and other materials were removed from the old castle at Castlethorpe (Bucks.) and timber taken fron the royal parks at Hanslope and elsewhere to refurbish Grafton. (fn. 130)
Further work was done in 1536-7, when new chimneys were added to the house, a great wrought-iron folding gate was installed next to the church on the street side, and a bowling alley built, enclosed by a wall 14 ft. high built of rubble from Castlethorpe, with the alley itself defined by banks made from potters' clay dug at Potterspury. (fn. 131) This appears to be the feature, of which traces are still visible, later called the 'Gallery', (fn. 132) running parallel with the lane which leads to the mansion, almost as far as the main road, bounded on one side by the lane and on the other by an earthen bank. It may have been built (as a kind of exterior version of a long gallery) to enable Henry VIII to walk from the mansion to his new park on the other side of the main road. (fn. 133)
In 1539 it was noted that there was roofing timber, lead and slate at three recently suppressed religious houses in Northampton that might be suitable for Grafton, (fn. 134) but there is no evidence of further work at the house until 1541, when a campaign began that continued until 1543, coinciding with the creation of the honor of Grafton. (fn. 135) There was renewed expenditure at Grafton in 1545-8, although much of this was probably on lodges, palings and other works in the adjoining parks. (fn. 136)
Both before and after the establishment of the honor, Grafton was one of Henry VIII's favourite houses. He spent several weeks there in most years of his reign from 1527 onwards, typically arriving towards the end of August and leaving in early October, often as part of a progress that included a visit to Ampthill either before or afterwards. (fn. 137) In 1528 the king was prevented from visiting because of an outbreak of plague at Grafton, (fn. 138) and in 1537 he was advised against including the house on his itinerary, since the plague had reached Towcester and Buckingham, (fn. 139) both less than ten miles away. Privy Council meetings were held at Grafton in 1540 (fn. 140) and 1541 (fn. 141) and possibly other years; the ambassadors of Hungary were received there in 1531 (fn. 142) and the Scotish ambassador in 1537; (fn. 143) and, most famously, the negotiations with the papal envoy, Cardinal Campegio, which led to Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn, when Cardinal Wolsey had his last interview with the king, were partly conducted at Grafton in the summer of 1529. (fn. 144) Apart from business, Henry came to Grafton to hunt: during his reign the parks at Grafton and Potterspury, about a mile to the west of the mansion, were enlarged and combined into one, (fn. 145) and a new park was created a short distance to the north at Hartwell. (fn. 146)
No later sovereign showed as much interest in Grafton. About £170 was spent in 1551-3 and £450 in 1553-4 on repairs to the mansion, which was described as the queen's 'stately honor house' in 1558, (fn. 147) but Elizabeth visited Grafton on only three occasions, in 1564, 1568 and 1575, each of which led to minor expenditure. (fn. 148) Robert earl of Leicester, who was then leasing the demesnes at Grafton, may have been referring to one of these visits when he told the queen that of the places she would be staying at on her latest progress, none would be 'more pleasant and healthful' than Grafton, which she had ordered to be repaired and which would be made ready for her. (fn. 149) Between 1573 and 1575 £1,842 was spent on Grafton, under the supervision of Leicester's protege William Spicer. Old buildings were repaired but the principal work was a 'new building', containing two floors and covered by four roofs. (fn. 150) The queen was at Grafton in June and July 1575, when she held a series of Council meetings there. (fn. 151) Further repairs were carried out in 1585-6 at a cost of £396. (fn. 152)
James I seems to have been content to let Grafton fall gradually into decay and after the duke of Lennox's appointment as steward of the honor in 1605 some dismantling took place. At the same time minor repairs were carried out and the house must have remained habitable, since the king stayed as the duke's guest in 1608, 1610, 1612 and 1614. (fn. 153) James was at Grafton again in August 1616 (fn. 154) but no further repairs were carried out after this. The month before the king's visit a Scottish courtier, Sir George Keire, obtained a sign manual for a grant of the materials of the house and a lease of the site, (fn. 155) although this appears not to have taken effect, since shortly afterwards the honor was included in the estates conferred on the newly created Prince of Wales. (fn. 156) The honor had previously been granted to Prince Henry, James I's elder son, who died in 1612. (fn. 157) The grant to Prince Charles, however, implies that the house was in decay and this was confirmed in 1619 when the prince's chancellor gave instructions to his surveyor to board up the new buildings at Grafton, where they were exposed to the elements, using in part old materials. (fn. 158)
Shortly after Charles became king, the honor of Grafton was mortgaged to Sir Francis Crane, who in 1628 also obtained a 31-year lease of Grafton House, (fn. 159) where he proposed to establish a tapestry works, similar to the one at Mortlake, but the project came to nothing. (fn. 160) The king gave Crane £1,000 towards the cost of repairing the mansion but in 1635 he was accused of not carrying out any work. On the contrary, he had pulled down much of Henry VIII's 'large and spacious' buildings and carried off many hundreds of loads of brick, stone, iron, lead and other materials to use at his new house at Stoke Bruerne. He had also cut down sound timber to burn lime for use at Stoke. Crane claimed that he had spent the money and that the house had been ruinous for the past forty years and was not fully repairable. Only loose materials had been removed, which had been taken either to repair Pury Lodge or for his own house at Stoke. They had in any case been removed before Charles became king (and thus before Crane had any interest in the honor) by order of the Prince of Wales's commissioners. (fn. 161) His foreman mason supported him, claiming that what were described as fine royal buildings were in fact built of stone laid in mortar made only of earth, which had become so rotten that the walls had to be taken down before they could be repaired. The materials were so poor as to be hardly worth the cost of carriage to Stoke. (fn. 162) Although some demolition had clearly taken place at Grafton (fn. 163) (and Crane had certainly built a new mansion at Stoke, before, not after, taking the mortgage of the honor), (fn. 164) the real dispute between him and his rivals at court was over the mortgage and claims that he was attempting to secure the permanent alienation of the estate. (fn. 165)
Earlier in the 1630s the earl of Westmorland had rented Grafton as a staging-post on his journeys between London and the North. (fn. 166)
Crane died in 1636, devising the unexpired term in his lease of Grafton House to his widow Mary. In 1638 the Crown sought to remove Lady Crane on the ground that the tapestry works had never been established as her husband had promised; she denied that he had agreed to such a condition, although she was willing to surrender the lease. (fn. 167) This she duly did, (fn. 168) in return for a new lease for life granted later the same year. (fn. 169) Lady Crane was living at Grafton in 1640, when she sent a gift of poultry to the courtier Endymion Porter and his wife. (fn. 170) She was still there in December 1643, when the mansion, garrisoned for the king by Sir John Digby, was captured by Parliamentary troops led by the earl of Essex, set on fire and left in ruins. (fn. 171) In 1650 all that still standing was the stable, brewhouse, kitchen and buttery, with two chambers above stairs and lofts over them, a stable containing two bays of building, and some other outhouses, two courts and a large orchard. (fn. 172) Lady Crane complained that she lost plate, money, household goods and farm stock worth £5,000 in the siege, as well as roofing lead and iron. All the village farmers also suffered from looting and damage by the troops. (fn. 173)
Baker's statement that the house was never rebuilt (fn. 174) is misleading, for in 1661 Marthana Wilson, as executrix of Dame Mary Crane, was petitioning (unsuccessfully, as it proved) for a lease of a house built on part of the site of the mansion demolished only eighteen years before. (fn. 175) This was presumably the oldest part of the existing building, which is shown in elevation on Collier and Baker's plan of Grafton of 1725 as an E-plan mansion of 2½ storeys with a central doorway. (fn. 176) There is a local tradition that the house incorporates two of the walls of the mansion demolished in 1643. (fn. 177) Collier and Baker show only one outbuilding to the southeast of the house (where there was later an extensive range of farm buildings). This is clearly the range fronting the lane near the churchyard whose north wall is lit by Tudor mullioned windows and whose south wall has a buttress of similar date, which has been identified as the 'offices along the street side', the only recognisable surviving part of Henry VIII's mansion. (fn. 178) It was presumably these buildings that the surveyors found standing in 1650.
Although Mrs. Wilson was there in 1660, (fn. 179) Grafton House (with the demesnes) was leased a few years later to the dowager Lady Falmouth, who married Charles Berkeley, earl of Falmouth (previously Viscount Fitzhardinge) in December 1664 but was widowed six months afterwards. (fn. 180) As John Buncher, Edward Arnold's steward at Furtho, reported to his master, 'Grafton House is the Lady Finchardin's. Mr. Wilkes of Ashton seteth the grounds for her and maketh account to live in the house himself'. (fn. 181) In August 1667 Queen Catherine's trustees were concerned at arrears in Lady Falmouth's rent due from both Grafton and Moor End Farm in Potterspury. (fn. 182) Grafton Pastures were sub-let to George Mountague, who in 1668 offered to clear the arrears. (fn. 183) Five years later, shortly before the whole honor was granted in reversion to the earl of Arlington, (fn. 184) the Crown paid Lady Falmouth £11,289 for a surrender of all her leases from the estate, including the mansion and demesnes at Grafton. (fn. 185) In 1682 the same group of premises was leased to Henry Bebington, one of the queen's officials. (fn. 186)
In 1697 the duke of Shrewsbury was living at the house. (fn. 187)
When the reversionary grant of 1673 took effect after the death of Queen Catherine late in 1705, the honor passed to the 2nd duke of Grafton, who found his mother, Duchess Isabella (who died in 1723), and stepfather, Sir Thomas Hanmer (d. 1746), (fn. 188) living at Grafton House, by virtue of a lease in reversion of the mansion and demesnes by Queen Catherine's trustees in 1701, which did not expire until 1721. (fn. 189) Probably for this reason, the duke chose to make Wakefield Lodge, in Whittlewood Forest a few miles away to the southwest, which he acquired as hereditary ranger of the forest, his Northamptonshire seat, from which the estate would continue to be administered until the sales of 1919-20. (fn. 190)
After Sir Thomas Hanmer gave up the lease of the mansion and demesnes at Grafton, the house became a farmstead, although, according to a prospective tenant in 1749, not a very satisfactory one. As well as extensive repairs to the house itself, which was said to be cracked through in three places and the roof (on which jackdaws had spoiled the thatch) propped up in two, Robert Millegan also wanted a number of new outbuildings erecting in the 'yard belonging to the Lower Tenement'. (fn. 191) The latter, which had previously been used as stabling but was excluded from the premises being offered to Millegan, (fn. 192) seems likely to be the Tudor range near the road, since it stands in a yard that is several feet lower than the level of the main house. Millegan also asked for alterations to the house to create additional storerooms and bedrooms, there being 'only three rooms above stairs in the Great House'. (fn. 193) An inventory of dressers, drawers and shelves at the house, drawn up at the same time, mentions only a hall, kitchen and two chambers. (fn. 194)
Millegan stayed at Grafton House for only a few years, and was succeeded in 1753 by John Warr, who took a twelve-year lease of the farm, to which was added in 1757 the 'Lower Yard' previously let separately. (fn. 195) Another member of the same family, Thomas Warr, was still there in the early 19th century, although by this date the farm was being let on an annual tenancy. (fn. 196) George Seabrooke was tenant in 1830 (fn. 197) but in 1833 the house was modernised to become the home for many years of Capt. (later Lieut.Col.) George FitzRoy, a grandson of the third duke, who continued to run the property as a working farm. (fn. 198) He was succeeded after his death in 1883 (fn. 199) by his son Major-General George Robert FitzRoy, who farmed there until 1899. (fn. 200) By this date there was a full range of farm buildings in the yard to the south-east of the house, which by 1911 had been joined by a motor garage. (fn. 201)
General FitzRoy was succeeded at Grafton Manor, as the house was now known, by Henry John Conant, who took a 21-year lease of the farm in 1899 (fn. 202) and was immediately involved in a lengthy dispute with the Grafton estate concerning repairs needed to both the house and buildings, which was not settled until 1902. (fn. 203) Conant stayed only until 1911 (by which date he was sub-letting the Manor to a Mrs. Ridley), (fn. 204) when a new 14-year lease of the house and the same acreage as Conant had farmed was granted to Major (later Lieut.-Col.) Ralph Henry Fenwick Lombe, (fn. 205) who had previously lived at Edwinstowe Hall (Notts.). (fn. 206) Lombe died in 1930 (fn. 207) but his widow stayed on at the Manor until the beginning of the Second World War. (fn. 208) It was then taken by Lord Hillingdon, who for the previous twenty years had lived at Wakefield Lodge. (fn. 209) Lady Hillingdon, however, preferred London society to life in the country and the house was not occupied a great deal in this period. (fn. 210)
After the war Grafton Manor was used as a private school until 1960 and then stood empty for several years. In 1966 the house and 6 acres of grounds were acquired by Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Cockeram, who restored the property as a family home. (fn. 211) After they left, a restaurant was established there, which failed after a few years. (fn. 212) At the time of writing the Manor was occupied by a clinic specialising in treating victims of head injuries.
The Grafton Park estate, which in its final form extended to about 1,000 acres, of which roughly a third lay in Grafton, another third in Potterspury, and the remainder in Alderton and Paulerspury, (fn. 213) developed from three separate parks which lay close to each other on the north-eastern side of Watling Street.
The original nucleus of Grafton Park occupied an area towards the south-western corner of Grafton parish and extended west into Alderton. (fn. 214) At its western end it adjoined the much smaller Plum Park, most of which lay in Paulerspury and the rest in Alderton, which was created in 1328. (fn. 215) A short distance to the south of Grafton Park lay Potterspury Park, first mentioned in 1230, which occupied the northwestern corner of that parish. (fn. 216)
Within a few years of his acquisition of Grafton Regis and the rebuilding of Grafton Manor, Henry VIII began to develop the three parks, which lay within a mile of the mansion. His privy purse expenses for 1531-2 record payments to the keepers of Grafton and Potterspury as well as other nearby parks, (fn. 217) and in the latter year he ordered that Grafton Park be extended northward by the addition of 76 a. from the fields of Grafton and 70 a. from those of Alderton. (fn. 218) Five years later 150 a. were added to Potterspury Park, so that it joined Grafton Park on its northern edge. (fn. 219) In 1543 payments were made to freeholders whose lands had been inclosed in both parks, and for the cost of making a new pond in Potterspury Park. (fn. 220) In 1558 Grafton Park contained 177 a. of pasture, 42 a. of arable and 88 a. of woodland. The woods included 780 oaks and 1,014 saplings, as well as ash trees worth £10 3s. 4d., coppices (£170 16s. 7d.), a thorn grove (3 a., 53s. 4d.), and maple, oak and ash underwood (430 carucates, £28 13s. 4d.). There were then 500 deer in the park. Potterspury Park contained 3 a. of meadow, 195 a. of pasture and an unspecified acreage of woodland worth £24 0s. 4d., including oak (for which no value was stated), coppice (£123), and ash, maple, thorn and hazel underwood (180 carucates, £306). After the extension of 1537 the park extended to 305 acres, containing in 1558 500 deer. (fn. 221)
In 1605 Plum Park was inclosed and united with the two larger parks, when the total perimeter of the three was said to be eight miles; (fn. 222) three years later a payment of £333 9s. 6d. was authorised to Thomas Hesilrige, then lessee of Alderton demesnes, for woodlands to be added to Grafton and Potterspury parks; (fn. 223) and in 1611 Sir Arthur Throckmorton and other tenants in Paulerspury were paid £50 for ground conveyed to the king for enlarging Grafton Park. (fn. 224) Many years afterwards the inhabitants of Alderton claimed to have lost 300 a. from their parish to the enlargement of the park by James I. (fn. 225)
The enlargement of the three parks undoubtedly disrupted farming in both Grafton and Alderton and led to disputes between the two townships in the 1580s (fn. 226) and again in the 1620s, when an agreement was drawn up to compensate the farmers who had lost land and the clergy who had lost tithe income. Despite this, there was renewed litigation between the lessee of Alderton demesnes and farmers in Grafton in the early 1640s. (fn. 227)
The effect of these changes was to create a single estate which extended from Watling Street in the south-west to the Northampton road at Grafton, bounded on the north-west by the common fields of Alderton and Paulerspury, and on the south-east by those of Grafton and Yardley. These boundaries, probably established by 1620 if not a little earlier, remained unchanged until the late nineteenth century. (fn. 228) In 1649 the two parks contained together 1,003 a. (of which Grafton Park accounted for 622 a.) but only 200 deer. There were said to be 7,533 timber trees, excluding dotterells and underwood good only for firewood. Twelve coppices contained a total of 341 a. There were no warrens in either park but there was one fishpond, said to be well-stocked with small fish, despite damage to the pond-head. Five adjoining townships (Grafton, Potterspury, Yardley Gobion, Paulerspury and Alderton) claimed church, poor and Commonwealth taxes from different parts of the estate, as well as rights of way through the park to reach Whittlewood. The incumbents all claimed that tithe was payable on the land inclosed within the park and the rector of Potterspury believed he had grazing rights in Pury Park. (fn. 229)
The two parks remained part of the honor of Grafton until the reign of Charles I and from 1542 a succession of courtiers received grants of the keepership of the two parks, with a fee of 2d. a day for each park, plus herbage, pannage and fallen wood, together with a range of other offices in the honor. (fn. 230) In 1629 the attorneygeneral was instructed to prepare a grant to Sir William Washington and his wife Anne, as the same had been held by the duke of Buckingham, who had died the previous year, since 1622. (fn. 231) Within four years Washington and his wife, and also the earl of Dorset, who had held the office of high steward of the honor of Grafton since 1629, were being asked to surrender their grant of the keepership, so that a fresh grant might be made to Sir Francis Crane and Anne Washington, with reversion to Dorset. (fn. 232) Crane was at this date involved in negotiations to lend £7,500 on security of a mortgage of the honor. (fn. 233) After his death his brother and heir Richard surrendered the offices in 1637. (fn. 234)
As Charles I's financial problems deepened in the 1640s, the Grafton Park estate was seen as a convenient means of raising further sums. In 1641 the king made a grant to Thomas Marsham of London and Ferdinand Marsham of the office of keeper of Grafton and Potterspury parks for life, with the usual stipend of 2d. a day and rights of herbage and pannage, and the browse wood, windfalls and dead wood, with the reversion of the offices to the earl of Dorset. (fn. 235) Three years later the estate itself was sold for £7,000 to Sir George Strode of Westerham (Kent) and Arthur Duck of Chiswick, a master of the Court of Requests, with liberty to dispark the land, subject to the earlier grant. (fn. 236) By December 1645 Duck had paid £1,200 of the purchase price. (fn. 237)
After the Restoration Charles II's officials had to resolve conflicting claims arising from his father's dealings over the Grafton Park estate twenty years before. (fn. 238) In 1660 Sir George Strode and the heirs of Arthur Duck petitioned for the benefit of the grant of 1644, which they had been prevented from enjoying by the 'late troubles', and complained that the parks and woods were now wasted. (fn. 239) At this date Ferdinand Marsham was tenant of the estate, which had allegedly been damaged by Lord Monson, who was accused of cutting down all the trees in Pury Park and the greater part of those in Grafton Park to his own use, timber with an estimated value of £6,400. (fn. 240) In 1656 Monson was found to be seised in fee of a messuage and lands in Grafton Regis worth £106 a year, (fn. 241) presumably meaning the Grafton Park estate. Five years later he was convicted of high treason (fn. 242) and in January 1662 a warrant was issued to search the house of Robert Johnson at Grafton for plate and jewels belonging to him. (fn. 243)
In December 1663, when plans were being made to grant the honor of Grafton to Queen Catherine as part of her jointure, the Lord Treasurer was authorised to treat with the heirs of the grantees of 1644, who were now said to have advanced £7,000 on security of the two parks, and not to have made an outright purchase, so that the estate could be included in the grant. (fn. 244) Early the following year the king agreed to a suggestion that Viscount Fitzhardinge might redeem what was described as a mortgage of £7,000 on Grafton Park and then take a lease of the estate himself, as an alternative to his leasing the mansion and demesnes at Grafton at double the old rent. (fn. 245) In the event Fitzhardinge chose the latter option and Grafton Park was not included in the grant to Queen Catherine of June 1665. (fn. 246)
Meanwhile, title to the £7,000 itself was changing hands. Of this total, only £2,000 had been paid by Strode and the remainder by Duck. Accordingly, in 1661-2, after Du's death, Strode, as his trustee, conveyed one moiety of five-sevenths of the estate to his daughter and coheiress Martha, the wife of Nicholas Duck, and the other moiety to the trustees of William Harbord and his wife Mary, Duck's other daughter and coheiress. (fn. 247) Eight years later Mrs. Duck, by then a widow, sold her share to Harbord, who became the owner of the entire estate in 1671 by the purchase of the remaining two-sevenths from Robert Sainthill, a London merchant who had advanced the £2,000 contributed by Strode in 1644. (fn. 248) Also in 1669 Harbord obtained a Chancery decree requiring Strode's three granddaughters, when they were of age, to make a conveyance to him of any claim they had in his two-sevenths share, which the two surviving granddaughters, Elizabeth the wife of Philip Bedingfield of Ditchingham (Norf.) and Ann Strode of Chipstead House (Kent), duly executed in 1679. Two years earlier Harbord married Katherine, the daughter of Edward Russell, a brother of William earl of Bedford, and conveyed Grafton Park to the trustees of her marriage settlement, making the estate part of her jointure and giving her a life interest after his own death. (fn. 249)
As soon as he secured ownership Harbord attempted to resolve the question of the Crown's interest in the estate. In 1671 he petitioned the king either to make an absolute grant of the two parks, with power to disimpark and reimpark, together with compensation for his losses arising from the damage that had been done there and the expenses he had incurred paying an annuity of £250 to Ferdinand Marsham to extinguish his life interest, or alternatively to redeem the mortgage of £7,000 with other lands or money. (fn. 250) Two years later, when the reversionary grant to Arlington and Euston was under discussion, (fn. 251) a warrant was issued to pay Harbord £9,000 for the purchase of the two parks, (fn. 252) when it was agreed that in future the annuity of £250 would be paid out of the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall. (fn. 253) This plan, however, came to nothing and the Grafton Park estate was not included in the grant of 1673. (fn. 254)
In July 1683 Harbord's house, Pury Lodge, (fn. 255) was searched for arms, of which some were found hidden beneath dirty linen in a maids' room. Harbord complained angrily to both the lord lieutenant and the secretary of state that the militia officer in charge had used excessive force and bad language, and had ransacked the house. He also claimed that the weapons found were merely sporting guns and that he needed to keep arms at his home, which was encompassed by two great roads and a forest, since he had been the target of two attempted robberies within the last year. (fn. 256) The secretary of state ordered enquiries to be made and that in the meantime Harbord's weapons should be returned. (fn. 257) In August Harbord strongly reiterated his version of events and refuted imputations concerning his loyalty to the Crown. (fn. 258) Others persisted in their allegations that Harbord was not to be trusted, pointing out that he had travelled to both Bath and Oxford excessively armed and escorted, as the whole county had noticed. (fn. 259) Early in September the lord lieutenant was still resisting pressure from the secretary of state to return Harbord's arms and defending his officers against complaints concerning a third search of his house. (fn. 260) Nothing more was heard of the matter.
In 1691 Harbord was appointed ambassador to Turkey to mediate between the sultan and the Emperor Leopold, but died on his way at Belgrade in July 1692. (fn. 261) In his will, made the previous November, Harbord devised all his freehold estate equally to his four daughters, Lady Asycough, Lady Kingston, Grace the wife of Thomas Hatcher, and Letitia, afterwards Lady Winn, in fee tail. (fn. 262) Lady Kingston died in 1698, having made no settlement of her quarter share, which accordingly was divided between her three surviving sisters. Mrs. Hatcher had, during Lady Kingston's lifetime, suffered a recovery of her own fourth part and barred the entail, but had not done the same with her third share of Lady Kingston's quarter, which on her death in 1703 passed to Lady Winn and Lady Ayscough. (fn. 263) Mrs. Hatcher bequeathed her own quarter share to Philip Doughty, who in 1696 had lent £30,000 to Katherine Harbord and Edward Russell on security of the Grafton Park estate. (fn. 264) Because of these various complications the matter came before the court of Chancery, which in 1712 ordered that the estate be partitioned and sold. (fn. 265)
The purchaser was John Sharp, the eldest son of the archbishop of York, who in 1710 married Anna Maria, the only daughter and heir of Charles Hosier, then a London merchant, who a few years later bought the Wicken Park estate a few miles from Grafton Park. (fn. 266) In 1717-19 Sharp bought Lady Ayscough's fourth share from Sir Andrew Thornhagh and Matthew Boucherett and their respective wives Letitia and Isabella, her daughters and coheiresses, and also a third of Lady Kingston's quarter share and a moiety of Mrs. Hatcher's third, so that he had in all nine twenty-fourths of the whole estate. (fn. 267) At the same time Philip Doughty's son and heir, George Brownlowe Doughty, a papist, (fn. 268) sold his quarter share (i.e. six twenty-fourths) to John Sharp. (fn. 269)
The owner of the remaining nine twentyfourths, Sir Rowland Winn Bt. of Nostell (Yorks.), the son and heir of Lady Winn, refused to sell to Sharp, (fn. 270) who lived for a time at the parsonage at Wicken, until he was able to move into Pury Lodge (fn. 271) in the face of Winn's opposition. (fn. 272) The house was said to need repairs costing £518 in 1721, whereas Grafton Lodge, which by this date appears to have been let as a farmhouse, needed work costing only £9. (fn. 273) Both Winn and his wife died in 1721, leaving one son, aged 18, whose minority led to further delays. In 1723 Sharp observed that ten years elapsed between his first attempt to buy the Grafton Park estate and being able to move into Pury Lodge. (fn. 274) In the event, he lived there for only three years until his death in 1726, aged 49. (fn. 275) In 1729 Sir Rowland Winn offered to sell his share of the estate to Sharp's widow, who considered the asking price too high, and it was not until 1738 that Charles Hosier of Wicken, Mrs. Sharp's father, bought the share. (fn. 276)
Anna Maria Sharp died in 1747, leaving two daughters, Elizabeth the wife of Thomas Prowse of Axbridge (Som.), and Mary the wife of James Booth of Herefordshire. Grafton Park passed to Thomas Prowse in right of his wife, as did Wicken after Hosier's death in 1750. (fn. 277) Elizabeth Prowse outlived her husband and in her will of 1778 left the Grafton Park estate to her daughter and coheiress Mary, who afterwards married the Revd. John Methuen Rogers, in tail general, with remainder to her other daughter Elizabeth, the wife of Sir John Mordaunt Bt. of Walton Hall (Warws.). Mrs. Rogers died in 1800 without surviving issue and the Grafton Park estate passed to her husband. In 1802 he disposed of his interest to Sir John and Lady Mordaunt, (fn. 278) who had already inherited Wicken directly from Mrs. Prowse. (fn. 279)
Both the Wicken and Grafton Park estates were sold by the Mordaunts in 1877 to the 2nd Lord Penrhyn, who had for many years rented Wicken, where his family remained until 1944. (fn. 280) In 1896 Penrhyn sold Potterspury Lodge and 515 a. to Arthur Henry Newton, who rebuilt the house as a gentleman's residence. (fn. 281) The Grafton Lodge portion of the estate may have been sold at the same time; certainly by 1911 the farm was owned and occupied by John James Martin. (fn. 282) In the early 1920s Martin went to live at Great Houghton Hall and put a bailiff in at Grafton Lodge, which remained the position until the Second World War. (fn. 283) The property was bought in 1946 by Henry Charles Sargeant, a farmer from Milton Malsor, (fn. 284) whose son Mr. Joe Sergeant continued to farm there at the time of writing.
After the enlargement of the two parks into one, there were two main houses on the Grafton Park estate, Grafton Lodge and Potterspury Lodge. (fn. 285) At Potterspury, the lodge lies within the inferred boundary of the medieval park but the present Grafton Lodge stands on the early 16th-century extension. Repairs to the lodge at Grafton and to both parks were specified among work done within the honor of Grafton in 1546. (fn. 286) In 1558 both parks were said to have two lodges, one of which in each case was in great decay and the other (of eight bays with four bays of stabling at Grafton, and six bays at Potterspury) in good repair. (fn. 287) This suggests that new lodges had been built at both parks after the estate was created, that at Grafton (if not both) on a new site.
When Richard Crane became keeper of the two parks in 1633 he found Pury Lodge, where he made his home, in need of some repair, and Grafton Lodge 'altogether ruinous'. He took down an old timber building at Grafton and re-erected it at Pury, which until then had no stables. Two years later he claimed to have spent at least £300 and made Pury Lodge much fitter for the king's service. (fn. 288) Perhaps as a result of this work, in 1637 the 'Great Lodge' in Grafton Park was said to be so badly decayed that it would be better to take it down than repair it. In addition, the paling of both parks was in urgent need of attention to safeguard the deer, for which 100 oaks and £60 would be needed. Sir Charles Harbord, the Surveyor General of Woods and Forests, was to be given the money and was himself to give orders to fell the trees needed for the work. (fn. 289) The following year, another 70 oaks were still needed to complete the repairs at Grafton, which were to be obtained from either Whittlewood or Salcey forests. (fn. 290)
When the estate was surveyed in 1649, Grafton Lodge was still described as old and decayed, worth only £13 6s. 4d. beyond the cost of demolition. Pury Lodge then consisted of a hall, parlour, kitchen, pantry and other service rooms downstairs, with six chambers over and lofts above. Outside there was a dairy house (three bays) and stables (eight bays) and all the buildings were said to be in very good repair. (fn. 291) During the period in which Sir William Harbord and John Sharp were resident owners of the estate, it is clear that they made their home at Pury Lodge, which appears to have been rebuilt in the late 17th century, (fn. 292) and Grafton Lodge was let as a farm. After the Grafton Park and Wicken estates came into common ownership, both lodges became farmhouses and remained so until Penrhyn sold the estate. (fn. 293)
Although Potterspury Lodge was rebuilt after this sale, (fn. 294) Grafton Lodge remained essentially unaltered, apart from normal modernisation. Built of coursed squared limestone and ironstone, with plain-tile roofs, the T-plan house is of two storeys and four bays wide, with a central doorway. The massive end stacks are of thin red brick with flared headers forming a diaper pattern, and both they and the ridge stacks are topped with tall, thin rectangular brick flues. Inside, the first floor is supported on chamfered spine beams and there is an open fireplace with a chamfered bressumer. (fn. 295) The roof trusses are said to be consistent with a date of construction in the early 16th century, (fn. 296) presumably shortly after Henry VIII extended the park to include the site of the lodge. (fn. 297)
There was land for two ploughs at Grafton in 1086, although the count of Mortain's tenant had only one team in demesne, farmed with the help of a single bordar. The estate, which had increased in value from 3s. in 1066 to 26s. twenty years later, contained 11 a. of meadow and 20 a. of wood. (fn. 298)
The three medieval open fields are identified as the North Field, East Field and South Field in 1315, (fn. 299) of which the first presumably lay to the north of the village between the main road (which here forms the boundary with Alderton) and the river; the second to the south-east, again between the main road and the Tove; and the third to the south-west, beyond the main road. By the early 16th century a large area to the north of the village, amounting to about 600 acres in the 17th century, had been inclosed as permanent pasture. (fn. 300) Bridges was clearly referring to this when he described Grafton as an 'inclosed lordship, famous for its meadow grounds and pastures'. (fn. 301)
The remaining common-field arable of the parish, some 272 a., together with 46 a. of common pasture, was inclosed by agreement between the 2nd duke of Grafton and the rector (confirmed by Act of Parliament in 1727). (fn. 302) By this date there were four open fields, of which Sties Field lay to the west of the main road. The arable east of the road was divided into Upper Field, closest to the village, and Fenn Field and Bancroft Field, which occupied the area between the main road, the Yardley parish boundary and the river. (fn. 303) Preinclosure glebe terriers use the names Hill Field, Fenn Field and Low Field (or on one occasion Plain Field) for the same land. (fn. 304) The cow pastures inclosed at the same time appear to have consisted of waste alongside the main road between the southern edge of the village and the junction with a lane which ran along the northern edge of Sties Field, on which there was some further roadside waste. (fn. 305)
By the 1720s most of Grafton's meadows, which formed a narrow strip, varying in width, running along the west bank of the Tove from one end of the parish to the other, had been inclosed and were leased with the demesne pastures. (fn. 306) At the northern end of this area lay Dunmore Meadow, the detached portion of Alderton parish, and Leach Meadow, in both of which there were parcels (three in Leach Meadow, five in Dunmore Meadow) in which individuals other than the holder of the demesne lease had the right to cut and carry away hay, although they had no right of common. One of those who enjoyed this privilege in Dunmore Meadow was the rector of Alderton, who was also entitled to a modus in lieu of tithes in that part of the meadow which lay in his parish. (fn. 307) By this date the remaining common meadow comprised some 18 a. in the extreme south-east of the parish, about a third of it known as 'lot meadow' and the rest as Yardley Mill Holme, although it lay entirely within Grafton. (fn. 308) In 1726 the duke's tenants complained that the miller had penned the water so high that it had flooded and damaged their meadows. (fn. 309)
In 1465 Richard Lord Rivers obtained a grant of a weekly market for his manor of Grafton, to be held every Thursday, and two three-day fairs each year, one at the feast of St. Margaret (20 July) and the other at that of SS. Simon and Jude (28 October). (fn. 310) The Act of Resumption of 1485 specifically exempted both market and fairs (fn. 311) but there is no later evidence of either being held.
Farming on the Honor Estate.
The last medieval private lord of Grafton, Thomas marquess of Dorset, leased all his demesne lands in 1519 to Thomas Hindman for 30 years at £60 a year, together with £10 to the parson for tithes. Hindman, who was previously of Lobthorpe (Lines.) and later had interests in the Isle of Sheppey (Kent), (fn. 312) was described as a grazier, implying that his main interest in the estate was the large block of inclosed pasture to the north of the manor house, which was clearly already in existence by this date. (fn. 313) On the other hand, Hindman took over an obligation imposed on Dorset by the Crown to plough up certain acres of land, as well as repair some of the houses in the village. (fn. 314) In 1525 Hindman was the largest contributor to the lay subsidy in Grafton, (fn. 315) and in 1600 it was said that traditionally twothirds of any parliamentary tax due from Grafton Regis was borne by the Pastures and onethird by the rest of the township. (fn. 316)
As soon Grafton passed by exchange from Dorset to the Crown the demesnes were leased afresh, still at £60 a year, to John Williams, (fn. 317) then near the start of his career as a royal servant, who in 1540 was appointed chief steward, bailiff and park-keeper at Grafton and Hartwell, and keeper of Grafton Manor, in succession to Sir John Russell, and also steward of Alderton and the former Marriott estate in Ashton and Paulerspury. (fn. 318) His lease of Grafton demesnes was renewed in 1544, (fn. 319) in which year he was made chief steward of the honor, with a long list of other offices belonging to the estate. (fn. 320) Lord Williams of Thame died in October 1559, having left his lease of Grafton Pastures to Sir William Cecil. (fn. 321)
A few months before his death, Williams's offices within the honor passed to William Parr, marquess of Northampton. (fn. 322) In 1562 Cecil secured a new lease of the demesnes for 21 years at £42 12s. 11d., the rent having been reduced to take account of land lost by the enlargement of the park. (fn. 323) In the same year three of the five farms in the parish, together with several cottages, were leased to Northampton for 21 years at £7 5s. 4d., on condition that the tenants be allowed to keep their individual holdings as long as they met Northampton's costs, chiefly a fine of four years' rent, in obtaining the lease. (fn. 324) Only one farmer, John Kirby the elder, took a lease directly from the Crown, again for 21 years, paying a fine of five years' rent for his own farm and that occupied by his son John. (fn. 325) A notable feature of both leases is the regularity of farm size: all five holdings had 36 acres of common-field land (i.e. one virgate), 2½ acres of leys and 2 or 2½ acres of meadow. There was no copyhold on the manor by the mid 16th century.
As elsewhere in the honor, the tenants were induced to surrender and pay a fine for renewal well before the expiry of their lease. In 1574 George Ferne took a lease of the farms and cottages demised to Northampton (who had died in 1571) in 1562, on payment of a fine of two years' rent; (fn. 326) he then appears to have sub-let the premises to individual occupiers. (fn. 327) In 1575 John Kirby's assignee, John Whalley, was granted a new 21-year lease of the two farms demised in 1562 in return for a similar fine; (fn. 328) and in 1576 Robert earl of Leicester, who in 1571 had succeeded Northampton as steward of the honor (with all the subsidiary offices), paid 100 marks for a 21-year lease of the demesnes, Burghley having surrendered the remainder of his own term. (fn. 329) Whalley assigned his lease within a few years to Lawrence Manley, who surrendered in 1579 to enable the premises to be divided between himself and Henry Lumbard, (fn. 330) and in 1581 Leicester was fined £20 for a renewal of his lease. (fn. 331)
In 1584 the three farms leased to Ferne were granted out separately on three-lives leases to the occupiers in return for fines of one or two years' rent. (fn. 332) Lumbard similarly secured a lease for lives in 1584, (fn. 333) although his title was disputed by John Whalley and Henry Kirby a year later, (fn. 334) and a new lease had to be issued in 1587. (fn. 335) Also in that year one of the cottagers whose holding had been included in Ferne's lease of 1574 was given a three-lives lease, (fn. 336) although two other cottages also previously leased to Ferne remained on 21-year leases when new tenancies were created in 1587 and 1592. (fn. 337) Other premises in Grafton were leased for 21 years in reversion in 1592, (fn. 338) for 31 years in reversion in 1599, (fn. 339) and for three lives in 1596. (fn. 340) The cottage leased for three lives in 1587 was included in the major lease of honor estate for 50 years in reversion granted to John Eldred and William Whitmore in 1610 (when there was still one life in being), and then again in the lease for 31 years in reversion of much of the honor made to Thomas England and Richard Fitzhugh alias Caporne in 1638. (fn. 341)
Meanwhile, the demesnes were leased in 1587 for 30 years in reversion from 1602 to the sitting tenant (Leicester), and afterwards (in 1610) for a further 31 years in reversion to Sir Robert Osborne of Godmanchester (Hunts.). (fn. 342) In 1614 Osborne sub-let part of the demesnes to a local farmer, who in 1639 was accused of ploughing up the pasture there, to the detriment of the land and of the view from Grafton House. The tenant claimed that the land was unsuitable for sheep grazing and that the presence of ridge and furrow indicated that it had once been arable; the attorney-general retorted that the damage was such that the land would never be such good pasture again, nor would it grow good corn. Osborne denied any knowledge of the ploughing and considered the whole business to be part of the long-running dispute between Sir Francis Crane and his rivals over the mortgage of the honor of 1627. (fn. 343) During the period of the mortgage (1627-35) the farm rental for Grafton was £52 19s. 7d, four-fifths of which came from the Pastures; for the manor as a whole, including premises in Hartwell and quit rents from a number of other townships, the figure was £77 8s. 10d. (fn. 344)
The result of the policy of granting leases in reversion was revealed when Grafton was surveyed in 1650. There were then 13 years unexpired in Osborne's lease of the demesnes of 1610. Of the farm tenants, one had 21 years unexpired in a lease of 60 years made by Eldred and Whitmore immediately after they took a lease of parts of the honor in 1610; another had eight years to come from an assignment of a lease of 40 years in reversion granted to the same pair in 1604, to take effect after the expiry of a lease for three lives of 1584, the last of which died in 1618; a third had six years to come in similar circumstances, the last life in a grant of 1584 having died in 1625; a fourth had 12 years to come in a lease granted for 31 years in reversion in 1627 from the expiry of a lease for lives of 1596, where the last life had died in 1630; and the fifth had 13 years to come in a lease to Eldred and Whitmore of 1610 for 40 years in reversion from the expiry of a lease for lives of 1587, the last in this case having died in 1623. The King's Arms, the smithy and most of the cottages stood in a similar position, with between four and 52 years to come in leases granted in reversion, or in one case 81 years, where the last life in a grant of 1587 was still in being. (fn. 345)
Despite these complications (and the partial demolition of the mansion during the Civil War), (fn. 346) the organisation of the manor had changed little since the 1540s. The inclosed pastures (the former Church Field, Mill Field, Twyford Field and Twycross Field to the north of the village, plus the Old Park to the south), amounting in all to 467 acres, together with 119 acres of meadow, continued to be leased to an absentee courtier. (fn. 347) There were still five farms, each with a 36-acre yardlard of arable, a few acres of meadow and leys, and perhaps a home close. Four of the farmhouses had a hall, parlour, buttery and kitchen downstairs (the fifth lacked a buttery), with three or four chambers over, and between five and 11 bays of stabling and barns, as well as other buildings, in the yard. (fn. 348) The King's Arms similarly had a hall, parlour and kitchen, with a cellar beneath the parlour and four chambers, as well as nine bays of stabling and a five-bay barn. (fn. 349) The smithy was a three-bay single-storey building. (fn. 350) There were six cottages erected on the manorial waste and another cottage with hall and parlour downstairs and two chambers over, (fn. 351) but three other 'cottages' were comparable in size to the farmhouses, with three or four rooms downstairs and either three, four or five chambers. The largest also had cellars, a seven-bay malting house and five bays of stabling, (fn. 352) which suggests that it had once been an inn.
In 1660 nearly 70 per cent of the land of the parish which lay outside Grafton Park (i.e. 627 a. out of a total of 896 a.) was laid down to pasture; of the remainder 257 a. was divided into four arable common fields and there were 12 a. of meadow. (fn. 353) Almost all the pasture (589 a., i.e. 93 per cent) formed the consolidated block of demesne land which had remained in the hands of Sir Robert Osborne (or later his executor, William Downhall) until the lease of 1610 expired in 1663. (fn. 354) In 1660 most of the remaining pasture was occupied by three tenants with 5 a., 7 a. and 10 a. respectively, none of whom had any arable, and the rest, together with the common arable and meadow, was divided into five farms, each of which had between 46 a. and 48 a. of arable, 2½ aof meadow and a few acres of pasture. (fn. 355) The increase in arable acreage, as compared with the survey of 1650, may have resulted from the 'discovery' of some additional land at Grafton in 1656, which was claimed by the five farms. (fn. 356) There were also 11 cottages, all said to have been built on the waste, mostly with half an acre of land each. (fn. 357) The remaining 300 a. of the parish lay within the Grafton Park estate. (fn. 358)
Immediately after the Restoration, officials were bombarded with requests for a lease of Grafton Pastures, particularly from those who claimed to have suffered in the king's cause, (fn. 359) as well as similar petitions concerning Grafton Park, (fn. 360) one from Marthana Wilson seeking a lease of the mansion, (fn. 361) and others relating to individual farms. (fn. 362) The purchaser of the manor of Grafton from the State also wished to know where he stood. (fn. 363) When the lease of the demesnes of 1610 finally expired in 1663, the land was let at twice the old figure of £42 12s. 11d. (fn. 364) At the same date the five farms were let for between 21s. and 43s. a year, and three smaller holdings at between 10s. and 26s., so that the entire estate produced only £53 18s. 10d., against an estimated improved value of £669 15s. 8d. (fn. 365) Meanwhile, the honor as a whole was prepared for a grant in jointure to the queen in 1665. (fn. 366)
After they took over the administration of the estate, and resolved the various conflicting claims concerning farms, both in Grafton and elsewhere, (fn. 367) Queen Catherine's trustees continued the old policy of granting 21-year leases at unchanged rents, combined with entry fines. They also maintained the practice of seeking a renewal of a lease well before it expired, so as to maintain a term of 21 years to come. (fn. 368) The estate remained divided into five farms, together with King's Close (near Alderton), four cottages on established plots, and six more said to have been built on the waste. There was also a forge, the hayward's house, and the King's Arms inn. Apart from the cottages on the waste, all the premises were leasehold. (fn. 369)
Farming Under the Dukes of Grafton.
Because of the policy of leasing in reversion, when when the honor passed to the 2nd duke of Grafton after Queen Catherine's death at the end of 1705, his officials had little scope to alter the way in which the estate was let and, in Grafton as elsewhere, continued to grant similar leases. (fn. 370) In the case of Grafton itself, there was the added complication that the duke's stepfather, Sir Thomas Hanmer, had a lease of the demesnes, (fn. 371) where he and the duke's mother appear to have lived until her death in 1723. (fn. 372)
Once free of these constraints Duke Charles seems to have decided on a radically new approach to the management of the entire honor. In 1724 he appointed a body of commissioners to advise him on running the estate, who met regularly in either London or Northamptonshire, on some occasions with the duke present, determined policy both in general and in matters of detail, and gave instructions to officials on the spot. (fn. 373) An up-to-date survey of the whole estate was commissioned from Joseph Collier and William Baker; (fn. 374) the practice of granting 21-year leases at low rents with entry fines was abandoned in favour of shorter leases at rack rents with no fines; and a policy of inclosing the common fields was decided on, with Grafton itself and Greens Norton the first two manors where this was to be set on foot. (fn. 375)
In the event, no scheme was drawn up for the inclosure of Greens Norton until 1799, (fn. 376) but at Grafton the commissioners set to work with vigour. In December 1725 they sent for the four tenants of the five farms (one was occupying two farms, another a farm and a half), although since the new survey of the estate was not yet complete, any redistribution of the land was postponed. (fn. 377) Once the field book (fn. 378) and maps (fn. 379) were to hand, the commissioners were able to see that, in addition to the 608 a. of demesne pasture occupied by George Stokes, who insisted that he had a promise from the duke that he could retain the land for his life on an annual tenancy without any increase in rent beyond the figure of £590 agreed when he succeeded Sir Thomas Hanmer, (fn. 380) most of the rest of the 1,016 a. which belonged to the duke in Grafton was held by four tenants, Alice Foster (123 a.), Thomas Smith (81 a.), John Newman (56 a.), and Richard Brown (25 a.). The parsonage accounted for a further 6 a., plus 9 a. of glebe, and waste, roads and water amounted to 38 a. Some 46 a. consisted of 'Cow Commons', on which the tenants of the manor had the right to pasture a total of 53 cows in proportion to their holdings in the common fields. (fn. 381) About 2½ a., known as the Church Lands, belonged to the parish and the rent was used by the churchwardens to help meet parish expenses. (fn. 382)
The commissioners could not go ahead at once with inclosure and instead, since all the farm leases granted by their predecessors had expired, in August 1726 let the land for twelve months only at much increased rents totalling £132 10s. for the four holdings. At the same time they noted that the cow commons were producing only about £6 5s. a year, whereas if the land was ploughed it might make £50 for say three years before being laid down to pasture. (fn. 383) The following month the commissioners looked carefully at Collier and Baker's survey and found that the common fields amounted to 276 a., all of which (apart from the glebe and the charity land) belonged to the duke, and again urged that the cow commons be planted with corn for three seasons before being laid down with grass seed. They also tried to secure an agreement with the rector by which he would henceforth receive an annual sum in lieu of tithes, glebe in the common fields and his common rights (which he was said to let for £42 a year), so that the way would be clear for the duke to obtain an inclosure Act, but the rector insisted that this could only be done with the consent of the bishop. (fn. 384)
During the same inspection, the commissioners viewed George Stokes's 608 a. of pasture, the greatest part of which they found he let to several undertenants. They also established that in Leach Meadow, part of his holding, there were three parcels of land where others had the right to cut and carry away hay, as was the case with five parcels in Dunmore Meadow, which was a detached portion of Alderton parish. An old man told them that Grafton Pastures had been ploughed for four or five years some forty years before but this had not been a success: the tenants had lost by it because the ground was too rank. As pasture, the land paid no tithes, beyond a modus of £11 a year. Finally, the commissioners viewed the cottages and smallholdings and set new rents for those that were out of lease, although they discovered that in one case (the house later licensed as White Hart) the existing lease did not expire until 1737 and in another (its neighbour, the Bull Inn) not until 1729. (fn. 385)
In February 1727 the commissioners agreed that the rector should be offered either £43 clear of all taxes in lieu of his tithes, glebe and common rights, or £40 rent and £100 in money so that he could seek an augmentation to the living from Queen Anne's Bounty, and at the same time sought clarification from Thomas Herbert of Shrobb Lodge as to what the rent from the 2½ a. of Church Lands was used for. (fn. 386) The following month their negotiator was authorised to increase his offer to the rector to £53, (fn. 387) which was accepted, (fn. 388) and the bishop's agreement secured. (fn. 389) Later the same year the duke was finally able to obtain an Act embodying the agreement he had reached with the rector and churchwardens whereby he was permitted to inclose 272 a. of common field, 45 a. of cow commons, and some parcels of waste, and to take possession of the parsonage house, 4 a. of inclosed meadow belonging to the rectory, 9 a. of glebe in the common fields and the rector's three cow commons, as well as the 2½ a. of land held by the churchwardens for charitable purposes. In return, he was to pay the rector £53 a year and the churchwardens 20s. (fn. 390)
The following winter the commissioners set to work on Northamptonshire's first inclosure carried out under Act of Parliament. In January 1728 they ordered that the common fields be divided one from another with banks and ditches, the latter to be hedged on both sides, with wood for fencing to be obtained from coppices elsewhere on the Grafton estate due for cutting that year. (fn. 391) By September a local carpenter was being ask to estimate the cost of post and rail fencing along the boundary between Grafton and Yardley Gobion. (fn. 392)
Meanwhile, coming to an agreement with the tenants proved more difficult than actually inclosing the land. The commissioners were unable to obtain an offer of more than £45 a year for the former cow commons for a threeyear tenancy during which the land would be ploughed before being laid down, whereas they wanted £50; (fn. 393) John Newman gave notice that he wished to give up his farm at Lady Day 1728 and subsequently left owing rent; (fn. 394) and Alice Foster, the tenant of the largest of the old openfield farms, died intestate in the summer of 1727. (fn. 395) In September the same year the commissioners opened negotiations with the two remaining tenants, Thomas Smith and Elizabeth Finall (fn. 396) (who appears to have succeeded to Mrs. Foster's tenancy), initially to see if each would take half the newly inclosed land. (fn. 397) The tenants preferred to see the estate divided into three farms and the commissioners produced a revised proposal under which the old Sties Field, to the west of the main road, would form the basis of a farm of 134 a.; Upper Field and Fenn Field would be combined with Yardley Mill Holme to make a farm of 117 a.; and Bancroft Field, plus some old inclosures, would make a third holding of 85 a. Each farm would also receive a third of the cow commons. (fn. 398)
Negotiations resumed in May 1729, when Thomas Smith was more inclined to take half the inclosed land, but since Mrs. Finall would not come to a decision concerning the rest of the estate and Smith refused to offer more than 12s. an acre, nothing was settled. (fn. 399) Tentative offers of 14s. or 15s. an acre were received from prospective tenants from outside Grafton in the autumn of 1729 but the commissioners were looking for 18s. (fn. 400) Having exhausted other possibilities, the commissioners then implemented a decision taken earlier in the year, when the existing tenants were given six months' notice to quit at Michaelmas 1729, and the estate was taken in hand from the latter date. (fn. 401)
After due consideration, it was agreed in January 1730 to plant the 40 a. of arable in the Upper Field with barley, trefoil and hayseed, apart from 2 a. at the top end where sainfoin would be tried as an experiment. The dryer part of Fenn Field (in total also 40 a.) adjoining Yardley Gobion would be sown with barley and the rest with beans, and the entire field also sown with rye grass and trefoil since it was not possible to obtain sufficient hayseed. Similarly, part of Bancroft Field next to Fenn Field would be sown with barley and the rest with beans, with the entire field (60 a.) also sown with clover. Ten acres in the driest part of Sties Field would be sown with turnips and the whole field fallowed the following summer. Finally, the cow commons were to be pastured with Scotch or Welsh bullocks and wethers, as was the grass ground in Sties Field. (fn. 402) Later the same month one of the duke's commissioners reported that he had sent 136 sacks of hayseed down to Wakefield Lodge, out of an eventual total of about 300. In addition, it was reckoned that 240lb. of trefoil would be needed for the Upper Field (61b. an acre for 34 a.), plus eight packets of hayseed. The commissioners also agreed that some of their number should go down to Grafton to direct the ploughing and sowing and find a competent man to supervise the work. (fn. 403)
Early in February the commissioners revised their sowing plans. The Uppper Field was now to have barley, clover and rye grass instead of trefoil, with the same mixture used in Fenn Field in place of beans, trefoil and rye grass. The strong part of Bancroft Field was to be sown with beans and the rest with oats, with the entire field also sown with hayseed as far as it would go, clover and rye grass to be used elsewhere. (fn. 404) Later in the month the duke's surveyor, Joseph Collier (who appears to have been appointed to manage the sowing), reported that he had bought a ton of clover seed, half from a merchant in Reading and half from Finchampstead (Berks.). The 300 sacks of hayseed had also been obtained or promised in time for sowing. The commissioners' plans now changed again. Upper Field was to be sown with barley, clover and rye grass; Fenn Field, if the season permitted, with the same, or with hayseed, except for the lower part, which was wet and where oats or beans (at Collier's discretion) were to be sown. Similarly, Bancroft Field was deemed too wet for beans: barley and oats were to be sown instead, with a small area of beans if the season proved sufficiently dry. Sowing in Sties Field was left to Collier's judgment. (fn. 405)
By April 1730 it was agreed that, although Collier had made drains to run off water, the weather had been so wet that Bancroft Field could not be sown that season; instead it was to be fallowed and sown with hayseed in August or September. Upper and Fenn fields, however, were sown and well laid down. William Sherd, the duke's steward at Wakefield Lodge, had decided against buying any cattle for the cow commons because they were so dear, and it was agreed to let the land for grazing, together with the grass in the former common fields. (fn. 406) The following month Sherd reported that he had let the common-field grazing but could not find tenants for the cow commons. The commissioners therefore agreed to bring some lambs from the duke's estate at Euston to feed there, (fn. 407) an instruction reversed in June, when it was decided to use joist cattle instead, purchased if necessary. At the same time, it was decided to make a winter and summer fallow of Sties Field and to sow barley and grass seed in the spring, except some of the stronger part of the field which was to be sown with sainfoin at Michaelmas. Bancroft Field was to be sown exclusively with hayseed in the summer of the current year. (fn. 408) In September 1730 the commissioners rode over the former common fields to inspect the fallows and the sowing. They found the fallows in Bancroft and Sties fields well ploughed, and the clover in Upper and Fenn fields coming on well, but the hayseed had made little progress. (fn. 409)
The commissioners kept the arable in hand for only two seasons and in September 1731 granted two nine-year leases. William Wayte of Blakesley took a holding of 156 a. made up of Upper Field, Bancroft Field and Fenn Field, plus the meadow near Yardley Mill Holme (just inside Potterspury parish, in Yardley common field), together with the farmhouse near the junction of the two lanes in Grafton previously occupied by Thomas Smith, for a rent of £144. (fn. 410) The land to the west of the main road (the old Sties Field), together with the cow commons, making a total of 175 a., was leased at £112 to John Lloyd of Pattishall, who had the house at the corner of Church Lane and the Northampton road (the modern Paddocks Farm) previously occupied by William Finall. (fn. 411) The three farms at Grafton, together with the parsonage (for which the rector was paying £2 10s. since inclosure), an eight-acre smallholding at the corner of the lane leading up to the Manor, and 18 cottages, in all some 970 a., were thus producing a total of £872 15s. in the 1730s. (fn. 412) This was a substantial increase on the figure achieved immediately before inclosure, especially bearing in mind that two-thirds of the total came from the lease of the demesnes, which could not be raised at inclosure. The former common-field land was thus producing almost £300 a year, compared with less than £150 when it was briefly let at a rack rent in 1726, (fn. 413) and vastly more than the sum received when the duke took control of the estate in 1723.
The next opportunity to reorganise the estate came at Lady Day 1737, when George Stokes gave up most of the former demesne pastures, retaining only the mansion and land worth £60 a year. (fn. 414) He died a few months later, when his remaining land at Grafton passed to his granddaughter Mary Fowkes, who later married Hopcroft Bloxham. (fn. 415) Most of the rest of Stokes's estate, together with the farm previously held by the Wayte family, was leased in October 1739 for three years from the following Lady Day at £200 to John Clare of Shenley (Bucks.), (fn. 416) who was succeeded at his death by his brother James. (fn. 417) In 1755 James Clare was granted a nine-year lease of the same estate at £210 for the first four years, £220 thereafter. (fn. 418) The remaining 93 a. of Stokes's estate was in the hands of Edward Clarke by 1751, for which he was paying £88, (fn. 419) a figure increased to £90 when he was replaced by Joseph Smith in 1755, who took an eight-year lease of the same acreage. (fn. 420) The term was evidently chosen to expire at the same time as a twelve-year lease granted to Smith in 1751 of the farmhouse on the main road known as the Blackmoor's Head which had once formed part of George Stokes's estate. (fn. 421)
Elsewhere on the estate, Samuel Gallard of Muscott succeeded Leonard Lloyd at the farm created out of the old Sties Field let to John Lloyd in 1731, where he was granted a 15-year lease from Lady Day 1746 at £114 2s. (fn. 422) At the Great House, as it was known in this period, William Bradford became the tenant after George Stokes's death, followed for a few years from 1749 by Robert Millegan, (fn. 423) before John Warr took the house and 227 a. for 12 years at £240 from April 1753. (fn. 424) As a result of these changes, when the 3rd duke had the estate surveyed afresh after he succeeded in 1757, Grafton was divided between four farms let at between £114 2s. and £240, one smaller holding (£31), a parcel of accommodation land (£57 2s.), the parsonage, where the rector continued to pay rent of £2 10s., and a dozen cottages. (fn. 425) The total rental for the manor was £775, about £100 below the figure achieved immediately after inclosure. Since rents on the other farms had generally been edged up at each change of tenant, this reduction was entirely the result of the break-up of the old demesne pastures, where George Stokes's successors were together paying rather less than the £590 10s. specified in his lease of 1721.
Throughout the immediate post-inclosure period it is clear that the estate's policy was to lay down an increasing proportion of Grafton to permanent pasture, building on what had already been done on the consolidated demesnes. The leases to William Wayte and John Lloyd in 1731 required them not to plough more than one-third of their land at any one time, nor to take more than two crops without fallowing or laying down the land with grass seed, (fn. 426) and when both farms were surveyed a few years later it was noted that if both were sown with natural grass seed the value of the land would increase to that of George Stokes's pasture. (fn. 427) When Samuel Gallard took over the Lloyds' farm in 1746 he agreed to leave part of Sties Field next to the main road as pasture throughout his tenancy and to continue an adjoining portion in sainfoin; he was allowed to plough the rest of his holding, but only a third at a time. (fn. 428) The scope for bringing the land to the south of the village up to the same standard as the pastures to the north was mentioned again after James Clare succeeded the Waytes in 1751, although it was noted that grazing ground was difficult to let, because of the continuance of distemper among horned cattle, which was then prevalent within a few miles of Grafton. (fn. 429) On the other hand, when John Warr took the Great House farm in 1753 and Joseph Smith the land at Twyford Meadow and Leach Meadow two years later, both leases contained a covenant restraining the tenants from ploughing any of the existing pasture and meadow. (fn. 430) Similarly, James Clare agreed, also in 1755, only to plough the Upper Field and that part of Bancroft Field which had for many years been in tillage, not to take more than two corn crops without a summer fallowing, and not to plough any of the inclosed pasture or meadow on his farm. (fn. 431)
The results of this policy can be seen in the survey of 1757, when it was noted that Fenn Field and Bancroft Field were 'annually improving' and in a few years the latter would be the best pasture in the parish. Half of Sties Field was also said to be good pasture, continually improving. The houses and farm buildings on the manor were in good repair and the holdings generally let at full rent, with the only scope for increases coming from the creation of more permanent pasture. Almost the only discouraging comment was one concerning James Clare, who had suffered great losses from the distemper in horned cattle and had lost most of his sheep from rot the previous year, although he continued to pay his rent on time. (fn. 432)
When the 3rd duke succeeded to the estate the three largest tenants at Grafton had nine- or twelve-year leases, whereas the three smaller holdings were let at will, as were the cottages. (fn. 433) By the end of the 18th century all the farms had been converted into tenancies at will, rents had been increased so that the estate as a whole was producing £950, and the number of holdings slightly reduced. (fn. 434) Neither during the 3rd duke's time (1757-1811), nor after his death, was the estate at Grafton enlarged by purchase, as was the case in neighbouring parishes. The only acquisition at Grafton was of one acre in Dunmore Meadow in 1763. (fn. 435)
By 1800 the Manor House, as it was called in a new survey made following the building of the Grand Junction Canal through the parish, (fn. 436) was in the hands of Thomas Warr (John Warr having died in 1784), (fn. 437) who was paying £279, although it had been revalued at £300, at which it would be let from the following Michaelmas. James Clare's son William had been allowed to take over his father's farm in 1783 at the old rent of £122, on condition that the property would be kept neat and the boggy parts of the Old Park would be drained. When in 1800 the duke found that neither condition had been met and that, apart from the house, the farm was still in a slovenly condition, he raised the rent to £245 from 1802 as an example to the other tenants, a rare case in the 3rd duke's time of a rent being increased other than when a tenancy changed hands. Clare died in 1804 and the duke offered the farm, where the estate had built a new cow-house and repaired the homestead, to his son William, who was only 19, at £300 for two years, since 'I was desirous of giving him an opportunity of shewing if he possesses the requisite qualifications of a good Tenant'. (fn. 438)
In the same way, when Samuel Gallard died in 1758, (fn. 439) his son Thomas was offered the tenancy at £160 for three years, then £165 for another three and £170 thereafter, compared with £128 which his father had been paying, although in this case the estate had provided a new barn and other buildings, which had greatly improved the farm. The land previously let to John Willifer had also been added to the holding in 1785. (fn. 440) By contrast, when Joseph Smith died in 1798, (fn. 441) his nephew, also Joseph Smith, took over only part of his uncle's farm at £50, together with a cottage in the village at 30s., while the farmhouse and the rest of the land was let to John Pittam at £245. (fn. 442)
Further substantial increases in rent were secured after the estate was surveyed following the death of the 3rd duke in 1811, (fn. 443) almost at the peak of the war-time boom in farming. Thomas Warr's rent at the Manor was practically doubled from £300 to £595 8s.; (fn. 444) William Clare similarly found himself required to pay £492 16s. in place of £300; (fn. 445) Thomas Gallard was advanced from £170 to £360; (fn. 446) John Pittam's rent more than doubled from £250 to £512 14s.; (fn. 447) and Joseph Smith's 46 a. of meadow and pasture was raised from £50 to £95. (fn. 448) Even the rector was asked to pay £5 instead of £3 for his parsonage and two acres of pasture. From Lady Day 1812 the Grafton farms were yielding a total of just over £2,000 a year. Not surprisingly, some of the tenants found themselves in difficulty within a few years of accepting these new rents. Although a report on the farms in the parish in 1819 remained optimistic, (fn. 449) two years later Clare was slightly in arrears with his rent and Gallard rather more so. It was proposed to offer all the tenants a reduction of 10 per cent on the rents of 1812, or 12½ per cent in Gallard's case, where it was agreed that the rent was particularly high. Both he and Warr (who was talking of quitting) were to be encouraged to continue, but it was accepted that Pittam could not. Although he was not in arrears with his rent, he had neither the quality nor quantity of stock needed to run his farm successfully. (fn. 450)
By 1830 John Pittam had duly departed and had not been replaced; likewise, Thomas Warr had given up his tenancy at the Manor where he had been succeeded by George Seabrooke. Both these farms (236 a. and 251 a. respectively) were entirely pasture, as was Joseph Smith's 52 a. of accommodation land, whereas William Clare had 52 a. of arable out of a total of 225 a., and Thomas Gallard 70 a. out of 197 a. Over the parish as a whole, only 12 per cent of the 991 a. on the Grafton estate was under the plough in 1830. (fn. 451)
There were only two major changes on the estate at Grafton Regis during the rest of the 19th century. The first was the decision in 1833 by Captain (later Colonel) George FitzRoy, a grandson of the 3rd duke, to make his home at the Manor House, where he established himself as a gentleman farmer of some 367 a. and remained until his death in 1883, when he was succeeded by his son, Major-General George Robert FitzRoy, who continued to farm there until 1899. (fn. 452) The village thus acquired a resident squire for the first time in its modern history, who was admittedly only a tenant but at the same time a member of the family that owned most of the parish. The FitzRoys were not only by some way the largest farmers in the village, but the son in particular involved himself in the life of the community, serving as a school manager and as a rural district councillor. (fn. 453)
Capt. FitzRoy's arrival at the Manor coincided with the death of Thomas Gallard the same year, (fn. 454) although his executors kept on his tenancy of Paddocks Farm, some 218 a., until at least 1844. (fn. 455) This was the only other farmhouse in the village in these years, when the rest of the estate was let as accommodation land, the largest holding being that of Thomas and William Pell (106 a.). (fn. 456) By 1856 another Thomas Gallard had taken over Paddocks Farm, now 173 a., and a further 114 a. was let to Harry Linnell of Bozenham Mill Farm in Hartwell. There were eight small parcels of accommodation land, all of less than 35 a., but the major change over the previous decade had been the builng of a new farmhouse, Grafton Fields, outside the village, west of the main road, on land that had once formed part of Sties Field, where James Linnell was farming 175 a. (fn. 457) Grafton Fields was the only example in Grafton itself of the 'model' farms which the estate erected in several of the parishes in which it was the major owner, either on the edge of a village or on inclosed commonfield land outside the existing built-up area. By the 1870s Grafton Fields, now in the hands of John Cook Brafield, had grown to 215 a., mainly through taking over land previously let to Thomas Gallard. (fn. 458)
During the depressed years of the 1880s the Grafton Regis tenants shared in the general reduction of farm rents across the entire estate, first of 25 per cent in 1882-3, and then a further 10 per cent on the reduced figure in 1887-8. (fn. 459) In 1892 J.C. Brafield's rent at Grafton Fields, where he was now farming 371 a., was reduced from £371 to £341, enabling him to clear accumulated arrears of £170 by 1896. There was no further change in the rent until he gave up the tenancy in 1909; (fn. 460) his successor, J.S.C. Bosworth, took the farm from Lady Day 1911 at £399. (fn. 461) The Brafields also had Paddocks Farm and about 55 a. in these years, paying £58 until 1904 and £52 after that date. (fn. 462) Between 100 a. and 150 a. in Grafton continued to be let with Bozenham Mill Farm, (fn. 463) and there were other parcels of accommodation land rented by farmers from adjoining parishes. (fn. 464)
At the Manor, despite the rent reductions of the 1880s, General FitzRoy gave notice in February 1895 to quit at Lady Day the following year, complaining to the duke's agent that he could not 'afford to lose the large sums I do yearly on my farm any longer'. He claimed that he had lost a total of £1,390 since he took over the farm from his father, all but £198 of that sum since 1890. He was, however, prepared to keep the farm on if the rent (for 225 a.) was reduced to £274 from the £348 he had been paying up to that date. (fn. 465) He clearly did not wish to leave if possible and in Sepember 1895 accepted the duke's 'final offer' of £300 from Lady Day 1896. (fn. 466) When H.J. Conant took the Manor in 1899, with the same acreage as General FitzRoy, the estate was able to secure £400 in return for a 21-year lease, (fn. 467) although only after agreeing to a lengthy list of repairs, (fn. 468) which also led to a protracted dispute with Conant. (fn. 469)
The strengthening market for good agricultural tenancies in the Edwardian period is reflected in the improved rent of £450 achieved when the Manor was let to Conant's successor, Major R.H.F. Lombe, on a 14-year lease from Lady Day 1911. The farm still extended to 225 a., of which only 40 a. was arable. (fn. 470) Unlike Conant, who at least in the later years of his tenancy sub-let the Manor, (fn. 471) the Lombes made the house their home and played a prominent part in village life until Mrs. Lombe, whose husband died in 1930, (fn. 472) left Grafton at the beginning of the Second World War.
Grafton was less affected than other villages on the estate by the major sales of 1919-20 since the Manor and a good deal of the land of the parish was excluded, and in any case only a few of the lots put up for sale were actually disposed of. In May 1920 the tenants at Grafton Fields and Paddocks Farm were offered the chance to buy their holdings at 21 and 20 years' purchase respectively. John Bosworth showed no inclination to buy Grafton Fields, then being let with 347 a. at £370 a year, for the reserve of £8,000, nor did Harry Brafield respond to the offer of Paddocks Farm and 18 a. at a reserve of £1,000. The only substantial private sale was a parcel of 33 a. of meadow, for which Arthur Weston offered £1,320, against a reserve of £1,200, representing no less than 32 years' purchase on the rent of £37. The rector paid £130 (reserve £60) for the field next to the parsonage, and a few cottages were sold in three lots to two purchasers for a total of £625, appreciably more than the reserve of £493. (fn. 473) One further lot was sold in advance of the auction in December 1920, leaving Grafton Fields and 15 cottages, including the smithy, to be offered on the open market. Four of the eight lots of cottage property sold for £370, against reserves totalling £280, but there was no interest in Grafton Fields and Paddocks Farm was not included in the sale. (fn. 474)
During the inter-war period the dukes of Grafton remained the principal owners in Grafton Regis, including the Manor, Grafton Fields and Paddocks Farm. Grafton Fields was still part of the estate in 1944 (fn. 475) and, although the Manor was sold in 1966, (fn. 476) at the time of writing the Grafton Estate Settlement Trust continued to farm some 400 a. in the parish, with a further 250 a. let to a tenant at Paddocks Farm. Some of the cottages also remained in the hands of the estate, which was managed by Lord Charles FitzRoy, the younger son of the 11th duke, from his home at the Old Rectory. (fn. 477)
Farming On The The Grafton Park Estate.
Although both halves of the Grafton Park estate were still wooded, if no longer very well stocked with deer, in 1649, (fn. 478) after the Restoration Lord Monson was accused of having cut down all the trees in Pury Park and the greater part of those in Grafton Park to his own use, realising £3,100, and of having ploughed 100 a. of coppice. (fn. 479) In all he was said to have committed waste to the value of £6,400. (fn. 480) Writing about 1720, Bridges observed that the estate 'hath long ago been converted into pasture and tillage', (fn. 481) and by 1722 much of the land in Grafton and Alderton had been converted into closes, almost all pasture or meadow, divided between nine tenants, of whom the five largest had between 15 a. and 30 a. each. In addition a larger farm of 144 a. (including 30 a. of arable) had been created, centred on Grafton Lodge. One large area of woodland survived, extending to 178 a., which was kept in hand (with other land, making a total of 208 a.), by John Sharp, who had recently purchased the major share of the estate. (fn. 482) In Potterspury, Sharp had 128 a. in hand (including the lodge), of which 18 a. were arable; another 106 a., including 17 a. of arable, were let to a single tenant; and there were two holdings each of about 50 a. of pasture, meadow and wood. The 80 a. in Paulerspury, all pasture, was divided between four tenants. (fn. 483) The surviving woodland (including 10 a. let to tenants as well as Sharp's holding) was mostly oak, together with some ash and small amounts of maple and crabtree. (fn. 484)
In 1723 Sharp was approached by Robert Wilcox, offering to prospect for coal on the estate. (fn. 485)
When Charles Hosier of Wicken Park, John Sharp's father-in-law, finally secured complete ownership of Grafton Park in 1738, (fn. 486) only 59 a. was in hand, probably because the estate no longer had a resident owner. Grafton Lodge was still a farm of 156 a. and the main tenancy in Potterspury Park (106 a.) remained unchanged. Otherwise there had been some reorganisation since 1722: two holdings of 205 a. and 103 a. had apparently been created from the land previously kept in hand, two other tenants had 57 a. and 53 a. each, and there was a tail of nine smaller holdings. (fn. 487) In 1748 Thomas Prowse, who married John Sharp's daughter and heir, (fn. 488) is said finally to have disparked the estate, cut down an avenue of trees, and drained the large pond (from which the carp were sent to the duke of Grafton's recently constructed pond at Wakefield). (fn. 489) Almost all the estate had been converted to farmland by 1789, although the drive from Watling Street to Pury Lodge was still flanked by an avenue, and there remained some woodland in Alderton. (fn. 490) As Baker observed, both Grafton Park and Potterspury Park, once well stocked with deer and 'intersected by rectilinear avenues of noble oaks', had long been sacrificed to the cause of agricultural improvement. (fn. 491)
In the early 1820s the estate was divided between two large farms centred on Grafton Lodge (270 a., let at £380) and Pury Lodge (470 a., £574), with a further 180 a. lying towards Paulerspury let as accommodation land at £180. There was one smallholder and 72 a. of woods in hand, so that the entire estate of 995 a. was let at £1,135, very close to the estimated annual value of £1,158. Most of the land on all three farms was pasture or meadow, partly because much of it was too heavy to be suitable for corn, but also because the land in Alderton, Potterspury and Grafton remained free of tithe unless it was sown with corn (the Yardley Gobion and Paulerspury portions, by contrast, were subject to heavy tithes of all kinds). Even for grass, the accommodation land at Paulerspury was 'weak, cold and poor', although it could be improved by folding with sheep. The ploughed land was heavy clay in need of much shallow draining but similarly capable of bearing good wheat and beans when folded with sheep. On the Potterspury portion of Pury Lodge farm, only two fields were ploughed for turnips and rest kept as pasture, to avoid the imposition of tithe, but it was observed that if the tithes could be purchased much of the land would be worth ploughing, since it would be more productive in tillage than in poor greensward. (fn. 492)
In 1828 the tenant of the accommodation land gave up his holding, which was divided between the two other farms, one of which also changed hands at the same time. From Michaelmas that year Grafton Lodge was let to William Bull at £560 and Pury Lodge (now 342 a.), to John Kendall at £620. (fn. 493) In 1833 rents at both Wicken and Grafton Park were reduced by 10 per cent and John Roper, who had then recently been dismissed as the duke of Grafton's agent and thus had to give up his farm on the Grafton estate at Potterspury, (fn. 494) took over Grafton Lodge at £500, where he was succeeded by his son John Clarke Roper in 1838, while Kendall was paying £570 for Pury Lodge. (fn. 495) Both rents remained unchanged until at least 1849. Besides repairs, charitable donations and other routine outgoings, the Mordaunts were spending regular sums throughout the second quarter of the 19th century on draining their Grafton Park estate. (fn. 496)
The Potterspury Lodge portion of the estate (and probably also the Grafton Lodge portion) was sold by Lord Penrhyn in 1896. Certainly by 1911 Grafton Lodge was an owner-occupied working farm, as it remained in 2000. (fn. 497)
Trades and Crafts.
There is no watermill site in the parish and references to 'Grafton Mill' refer to Bozenham Mill, which lies just inside Hartwell, to which the farmers of Grafton evidently took their corn. (fn. 498) No evidence has been found for a windmill.
Peter Brown was the smith in Grafton in 1650, with a three-bay forge on the west side of the main road, (fn. 499) which he held under a 31-year lease from 1623. (fn. 500) He lost coal, iron and tools in the aftermath of the siege of 1643. (fn. 501) Thomas Brown was the smith in 1676. (fn. 502) The premises consisted of a cottage and smithy in 1757, when they were said to be in bad repair. (fn. 503) The forge remained in use until the Grafton estate was sold in 1920, when it was offered to the tenant at 15 years' purchase, (fn. 504) but neither then nor at the auction was a buyer forthcoming. (fn. 505) The buildings were among those demolished when the main road was widened in the 1960s. (fn. 506)
A minor local speciality in the 19th century was beehive making, practised by two generations of the Blunt family from the 1860s (if not earlier) until the First World War, (fn. 507) and later by George Ray. (fn. 508) In the 1930s George Masom, who kept the village post office, described himself as a 'bee expert'. (fn. 509) By contrast, lacemaking, which continued until the late 19th century in some neighbouring villages, was apparently already in decline in Grafton in the 1840s. (fn. 510)
Thomas Dawson was described as 'tailor and shopkeeper' at his death in 1815. (fn. 511) A shop was run from the White Hart from at least the 1840s until the 1870s; (fn. 512) in the 1880s Mary Ann Hudson had a shop elsewhere in the village; (fn. 513) and from the 1890s George Morton kept a general store in Grafton. (fn. 514) After the First World War Percy Morton, a wounded ex-serviceman, opened a shop, which closed in 1966. (fn. 515) Between the 1970s and early 1990s Mrs. Sue Blake ran a successful craft shop in the grounds of her home at Grafton. The village lost its post office in the 1980s. (fn. 516) There was a coal-dealer in Grafton for a few years in the 1850s. (fn. 517)
Inns and Alehouses.
Among the premises leased to the marquess of Northampton in 1562 was a house and 5 a. of land previously held at will by Robert Wickens, (fn. 518) worth 20s. a year, which in 1574 passed with the rest of the estate to George Ferne. (fn. 519) He assigned to the subtenants the following year and they in turn released the house and 5 a. to its tenant, Richard Richardson of Bozenham Mill, (fn. 520) who in 1585 obtained a new 21-year lease of the premises. The house was leased in reversion in 1592 to John Cobham for 21 years from 1605 and in 1607 for a further 40 years in reversion to William Faldoe, John Faldoe of Stoke Goldington and John Marriott of Ashton to the use of the children of William Richardson deceased, when the rent was advanced to 26s. 8d. (fn. 521) They assigned to Sir Francis Crane when he took a mortgage of the honor in 1627 and he in turn had a new grant of the premises for seven years when the mortgage was surrendered some seven years later.
In 1650 the house was known as the King's Arms, when it was in the tenure of Marthana Wilson, Dame Mary Crane's executrix. It had a hall, parlour and kitchen downstairs, a cellar under the parlour, four chambers above stairs, and three stables, a barn and little fold-yard outside. The premises also included the part of the 'Gallery' (the bowling green and walk to the west of Grafton House) (fn. 522) outside the boundary wall of the mansion. It now had 7 a. of ground and was the meeting place of the manor court. (fn. 523)
When the house was first licensed is not clear. Nicholas Windmill was described as a victualler of Grafton aged 56 in 1600, (fn. 524) and in 1638 the 'inn at Grafton' was among the premises Sir Miles Fleetwood sought as recompense for his losses in trying to recover Grafton House for the king. (fn. 525) Mrs. Wilson complained that she lost 56 qr. of malt, as well as other goods, in the siege of 1643, clearly indicating that it was then an inn. (fn. 526) In 1650 John Hesilrige of Harlestone contracted to buy the property for £169 14s. 6d. (fn. 527) By 1660 William Foster was the tenant, (fn. 528) as he was in 1676. (fn. 529) There were three or four smaller alehouses in the village in the 17th century (fn. 530) and in 1668 Thomas Smith was described as an innkeeper of Grafton and John Kingston as a vintner. (fn. 531) In 1703-5 both William Howson and Thomas Edmonds were innkeepers there. (fn. 532)
The King's Arms stood to the west of the grounds of Grafton House, near the junction of the lane with the main Northampton road. In the 1720s there was a farmhouse on the same site was called the 'Blackmoor's Head', (fn. 533) implying that it had once been an inn, the name perhaps having been changed in the 1650s when the earlier one would have seemed inappropriate. The house was leased in reversion to Alice Foster of Grafton in 1698 for ten years from 1709 and in 1705 for a further term from 1719. (fn. 534) She was still the lessee in the 1720s but the house was occupied by a man named Finall, (fn. 535) possibly the Henry Finall who was described as an innholder when he died in 1730. (fn. 536)
By 1725 Grafton's inn was the Bull, which stood on the same side of the road as the King's Arms at the opposite end of the village, on the corner of the main road and Church Lane. (fn. 537) In 1726 the landlord was John Feary (fn. 538) but the premises were held on a Crown lease (which did not expire until 1737) by Thomas Foster, whose family had been lessees since 1587. (fn. 539) By 1757 the Fosters' house had become a farmstead, occupied by Samuel Gallard, (fn. 540) and in its place the cottage immediately to the north, where another Crown lease had expired in 1729, had become an alehouse, tenanted by Widow Dawson. (fn. 541) The building was extended in 1789-90. (fn. 542) In the 1830s and 1840s the inn was let to Robert Warr, together with 33 a. of land, for £80 a year; (fn. 543) in 1856 the licensee was Stephen Blunt. (fn. 544) In the early 1890s the pub, identified as the White Hart in estate rentals, was in the hands of Edwin Webb, who also had 29 a. of meadow in Grafton and another 40 a. near the Grand Junction Canal for a total rent of £69. He was succeeded by J. Stewart in 1897, followed by Henry Chapman, who remained licensee until his death in 1908. (fn. 545) When the estate came to be sold in 1920 Mrs. Chapman was offered the pub with 35 a. of land at a reserve of £1,510 (i.e. 22 years' purchase); (fn. 546) it is not clear whether she took up the offer on the White Hart itself, but she certainly did not buy the land. (fn. 547) It later became a tied house and remained so until 1997 when it was acquired by the Drake family, who within a few years developed a successful restaurant there. (fn. 548)
The licensee of the White Hart in the mid 19th century, Joseph Smith, also ran a carrying service to Northampton on Wednesday and Saturdays, although this is not mentioned after 1877. (fn. 549)
As agricultural employment declined after 1945, and with little other work available within the parish, the village evolved into an almost entirely residential community whose members followed a variety of occupations, all of them outside Grafton Regis. (fn. 550)
After the creation of the honor a court was held at Grafton which was attended by tenants from Hartwell, Roade and the two Wicken manors, as well as Grafton itself, with each township nominating its own constable. (fn. 551) This remained the position in the early 17th century, (fn. 552) when the court was held at the King's Arms. (fn. 553) In 1674 the tenants of the manor of Grafton were threatened with a fine of £5 for not keeping a pair of stocks, of which £4 was remitted on condition that they set them up without delay. (fn. 554)
During the first half of the 18th century the manor court at Grafton retained something of its status as the principal court for the honor, with residual jurisdiction over several townships in which the Wakefield Lodge estate owned little, if any, land. The appointment of the constable, thirdborough and hayward for Wicken was reported to the court regularly in the 1720s and 1730s, (fn. 555) but the practice had lapsed by the 1740s. (fn. 556) The court was also responsible for the appointment of a thirdborough for Bugbrooke in the same period, but not for nominating the constable, (fn. 557) although in 1737 both the constable and thirdborough were fined for failing to appear. (fn. 558) At several courts in the 1720s two of the jurors were specifically said to be attending on behalf of Wicken and one was from Hanslope (Bucks.); in 1729 and 1730 one juror came from Bugbrooke. (fn. 559) There may have been representatives from other townships on the jury in later years but the minutes do not make this clear, except in 1753, when there were two jurors present from Hanslope. (fn. 560) The main representation from outside Grafton itself, however, came from Hartwell and Roade, each of which sent five or six jurors to each court, which nominated or appointed the constable, thirdborough and field keeper for both townships, as well as those for Grafton. (fn. 561)
The court sat at Grafton in April and October each year in the first half of the 18th century, transacting both leet and baron business for Grafton, Hartwell and Roade, and occasionally the other townships represented on the jury. For Grafton itself leet business disappeared entirely after inclosure: the last orders for stopping up gaps in the common fields or stinting the commons were made in April 1729, (fn. 562) whereas for Roade and Hartwell a full range of leet business continued to be transacted until the end of the century. (fn. 563) Most of the baron business was also concerned with changes in ownership in Roade and Hartwell, rather than Grafton. (fn. 564) There were occasional court baron items for the other townships, including Hanslope in 1748 (fn. 565) and Passenham in 1749. (fn. 566) Exceptionally, in 1753 the court dealt with baron business for Mursley (Bucks.) and Foscote, near Towcester, and the jurors from Abthorpe and Foscote (who normally attended the Alderton court) (fn. 567) were fined for not bringing in their suit bills. (fn. 568)
By the 1760s the court at Grafton, like those for the rest of the Wakefield Lodge estate, was sitting only once a year, at the end of April or the beginning of May, and after 1775 sat only in alternate years. (fn. 569) The other change, as compared with practice earlier in the century, was that the Grafton court was now making leet orders for Ashton as well as Roade and Hartwell, (fn. 570) and the appointment of a constable, headborough and hayward, as well as field tellers, was reported for all three townships. For Grafton, not only was there no leet business in this period, but normally the only official appointed was a constable and even that was abandoned after 1787, when, for the first time for many years, a headborough was also appointed. (fn. 571) Presumably the two men installed that year continued indefinitely, instead of being replaced annually, as had been the practice in the past and continued to be the case for Ashton, Roade and Hartwell. The reorganisation of court business on the estate in this period was reflected in the fact that two separate juries were sworn on each occasion, one for Ashton and the other for Grafton, Roade and Hartwell, although by the end of the century the second of these was being described merely as the jury for Roade and Hartwell, (fn. 572) since there was so little Grafton business coming before the court. For Ashton, Roade and Hartwell there were still baron items at most courts; in 1767 there was also one for Wicken, (fn. 573) and in 1773 a transaction relating to a messuage in Deanshanger said to be within the manor of Grafton was mentioned. (fn. 574)
Surviving court minutes for Grafton (as for the other courts held by the Wakefield Lodge estate) end in 1801 but in the 1830s a court was still held in the village at which the constables for Grafton and other townships were nominated. (fn. 575) In May 1815 the constables and tenants were summoned to a court at the White Hart for the townships of Grafton, Alderton, Ashton, Hartwell, Roade, Abthorpe, Shenley, Mursley, Hanslope and Bugbrooke (and on adjacent days for the other manors on the estate). (fn. 576) What may have been the last sitting of the court was held at the White Hart in 1861. (fn. 577)
Vestry And Parish.
After 1834 Grafton became part of Potterspury poor law union but even after the establishment in 1894 of Potterspury Rural District Council, made up of the Northamptonshire parishes of the union, the affairs of such a small village rarely troubled the authority. Early in 1896 the R.D.C. considered installing a new drain at Grafton, (fn. 578) but appear not to have proceded with the scheme. There were then said to be no complaints about the quality of the well water on which the 150 inhabitants relied, nor with the drainage of sewage into ditches leading to the Tove. (fn. 579) Also in 1896 there was a problem over General FitzRoy's nomination as the district councillor for the parish, even though he was the only candidate, since his proposer was found not to be a resident elector. (fn. 580)
When the R.D.C. began to build houses after the First World War Grafton was not among the parishes pressing for an early allocation from the small number completed in the 1920s, mainly in Deanshanger, Potterspury and Yardley Gobion. (fn. 581) Early in 1931, after the council had become a more enthusiastic house-builder, they approached the Grafton Estates Co. in search of a site on the main road, but were advised by the district valuer to look instead at vacant land fronting the southern side of Church Lane. (fn. 582) The company were prepared to sell half an acre there for £60; the R.D.C. offered £50, a figure which the district valuer supported and was eventually accepted. (fn. 583) Once adequate water had been found on the site (since the village had no piped supply), (fn. 584) the purchase was completed (fn. 585) and, after a year's delay caused by the financial crisis of 1931, Ministry of Health approval for the construction of four houses under the 1931 Housing Act at a cost of £1,086 was secured in November the following year. (fn. 586) They were ready for occupation in May 1933, at a rent of 3s. 6d. a week, with the tenants to be chosen by councillors representing the locality. (fn. 587) The scheme, the first new houses to be built in the village for many years, was evidently popular, for in March 1934 the parish asked the R.D.C. for four more. The council replied on this occasion that they had no plans to build further houses at Grafton, except to replace cottages demolished under the 1930 Housing Act. (fn. 588) A year later, however, the authority agreed to ask the Grafton agent to sell another half-acre of land on which to build under the 1930 Act. (fn. 589) Potterspury R.D.C. was abolished in April 1935, when Grafton and the other parishes concerned were absorbed into an enlarged Towcester Rural District, and it was the new council that completed a second scheme for four houses, alongside the first group.
Grafton was too small, even after it was combined with Alderton in 1935, to have a parish council under the 1894 Local Government Act, and nothing has been discovered of the early activities of the parish meeting. (fn. 590) In 1970 the parish was said to be pressing for various improvements, of which a mains sewerage system was the most urgent. Most of the village had septic tanks by this date but some houses were still dependent on privies with buckets that had to be emptied by hand. On this occasion the rural district council replied that a scheme had been designed for both Grafton and Alderton, on which it was hoped to start work in 1973. (fn. 591) The village eventually had a system installed in 1990. Mains electricity reached Grafton in 1952 and piped water in 1957. (fn. 592)
The advowson of Grafton Regis was included in the grant of the manor by William count of Mortain to Grestain abbey in the early 12th century, (fn. 593) and from 1270 Grestain's English proctor, the prior of Wilmington (Sussex), can be found presenting to the living. (fn. 594) In 1340 Edward III presented, having taken the temporalities of Wilmington into his hands during the war with France, (fn. 595) and over the following twenty years the king defended his right to the advowson against claims by the church. (fn. 596)
The advowson passed with the manor to Sir Michael de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, but reverted to the Crown at his attainder. In 1391 Richard II granted the advowson to Michael's brother Edmund, (fn. 597) who seems to have conveyed it to his nephew Richard de la Pole, since when Richard died in 1403 he was seised of both manor and advowson, of which the latter (but not the former) passed to his elder brother and heir, Michael, 2nd earl of Suffolk. (fn. 598) In 1414 Suffolk secured the restitution of the advowson. (fn. 599) When he died in 1415 the advowson passed to his son Michael, (fn. 600) who was slain at Agincourt the same year, leaving a son and three daughters, all under age, whereupon the advowson passed to the Crown. (fn. 601) The son evidently died young and the advowson came into the hands of his uncle, William de la Pole, earl (later duke) of Suffolk, to whom the manor of Grafton also passed. (fn. 602) Thereafter it passed with the manor to the Crown in 1527 and was reserved when the honor of Grafton was granted out in 1673. (fn. 603)
The rectory of Alderton, also a Crown living, was annexed to Grafton in 1774 (fn. 604) and in 1953 Grafton Regis with Alderton was united with Stoke Bruerne. This united living was itself later combined with Blisworth. After the union with Stoke Bruerne patronage alternated between Brasenose College, Oxford, and the Lord Chancellor; after the union with Blisworth, Brasenose and the Martyrs' Memorial and Church of England Trust had two turns in three and the Lord Chancellor the third for Grafton and Alderton. (fn. 605)
Income and Property.
The living was valued at 8 marks in both 1254 and 1291, (fn. 606) and in the early 15th century was extended at 20 marks. (fn. 607) In 1535 the gross value was £10 (fn. 608) and in 1655 the rectory was said to be worth £55. (fn. 609) In the mid 19th century, after the union with Alderton, the combined living was worth £277 a year, a figure which fell to £200 by the 1890s and £150 in the following decade. (fn. 610) In 1915 the income was £198 17s. 1d., most of which came from Alderton glebe rents (£116 12s. 6d.), £59 12s. 6d. from tithe rent charge (also in Alderton) and £15 from the Queen Victoria Clergy Fund. (fn. 611)
The rector of Grafton had just under 9 acres of glebe in the open fields before inclosure and a close of 4 acres. (fn. 612) Under the inclosure agreement he rceived £53 a year in lieu of tithes from former common-field land, as well as a modus of £11 for the tithes of the consolidated demesnes, another of 6s. 8d. for tithes from the Grafton Park estate, and two of 1s. each for tithes of other pieces of land. (fn. 613) The glebe remained about 13 a. in the mid 19th century. (fn. 614)
A parsonage, in the south-east corner of the village, was described in 1720 as a house of five bays, with eight bays of stables, orchard and garden. (fn. 615) By 1767 a brewhouse and new stables had been built. (fn. 616) The house was substantially rebuilt by F.T.W. Coke FitzRoy in the early 1830s, who added a north wing, (fn. 617) and again by Edwin Annand in the early years of the 20th century, when modern amenities, including a hot water supply, were installed. (fn. 618) Following the union with Stoke Bruerne, the incumbent moved to a new parsonage in Stoke and in 1953 Grafton rectory, together with the 13 a. of glebe, was sold to the earl of Euston (later the 11th duke of Grafton). (fn. 619) In 2000 the house was the home of Lord and Lady Charles FitzRoy.
Church Life and Incumbents.
Barwick Sams claimed an average attendance of 100 at morning service and 120 in the evening in 1851, as well as a Sunday school morning and evening with 50 children at each. (fn. 620) These figures must include Alderton as well as Grafton, since they are greater than either village could have mustered on its own. In the early 20th century there were about 30 Easter communicants in the two villages. (fn. 621)
A joint parochial church council was established for Alderton and Grafton Regis in 1920, when each village had about 40 on the electoral roll and the rector complained tht attendance at church had dwindled of late. (fn. 622) In 1922 the diocesan registrar suggested that two separate P.C.C.s be formed, which was agreed. (fn. 623) A freewill offering scheme inaugurated at Grafton in 1934 proved a success. (fn. 624) Despite this, the council struggled to pay the diocesan quota during the 1930s and had an overdraft during the war, which was paid off by 1946. (fn. 625) In 1948 there were fewer than 30 names on the electoral roll (fn. 626) and throughout the 1950s and 1960s incumbents lamented the small attendance at services. (fn. 627) In the 1980s a small membership worked hard to raise large sums to restore the church fabric. (fn. 628)
Several incumbents held other livings. James Molyneaux was given dispensation to hold a second living in 1480 (fn. 629) and Robert Harding, first rector of the united living, was also vicar of Potterspury. (fn. 630) William Harrison was curate of Roade, as was Alexander Annand, rector of Grafton between 1901 and 1912. Annand's son, Edwin, followed him at Grafton. (fn. 631) At least two incumbents were dismissed. Thomas Bunning, chaplain to Lady Crane of Grafton, was present when Grafton Manor was stormed by parliamentary forces under Sir Philip Skippon in 1643, having already been removed from the living by the parliamentary commissioners. (fn. 632) His predecessor, Thomas Austen, was suspended in 1634 for failing to pay his curate and for contempt of court. (fn. 633) He later petitioned the king in a fruitless attempt to overturn his suspension. (fn. 634) Austen was clearly unpopular, not just with the parishioners but also with the local gentry and in 1640 the inhibition against him was upheld. (fn. 635) He was described by Lady Crane as 'a most malicious man with all his neighbours'. (fn. 636)
The Parish Church.
The church of St. Mary consists of a nave, chancel, north aisle, north chapel, west tower and south porch. The earliest feature is the late 12thcentury tub-shaped font with intersecting blind arcading, drastically re-tooled in the 19th century. (fn. 637) The four-bay north arcade is early 13th-century, with pointed arches of twochamfered orders and saw-tooth hoodmoulds; the chancel arch, also with saw-tooth hoodmould, is probably contemporary. In the 14th century the aisle was widened, with Curvilinear windows, the north chapel built, and the chancel re-fenestrated; there are matching tomb recesses of this date in the south nave wall and the north aisle wall. The tower is documented to the beginning of the 15th century. (fn. 638) The chancel was remodelled and re-fenestrated, probably in at least two stages, in the 15th to early 16th centuries. It south door is flanked internally by contemporary sedilia recesses, all with depressed ogee heads. The remains of a richly painted chancel screen, with one surviving dado panel showing St. Denis, existed in the 1830s. (fn. 639) A large painted panel of c. 1500, showing the Arrest of Christ with christocentric texts, now mounted on the chancel wall, seems most likely to derive from a Passion cycle along the front of the rood-loft. The porch appears to be late medieval, much rebuilt.
The church was repaired and reroofed in 1840, and new pews installed, including two for the owners of Grafton Lodge, at a cost of £1,100. (fn. 640) Further renovation costing £400 was carried out in 1889, when the high pews were replaced, the floor blocked, and new choirstalls, altar, rails and pulpit installed. An east window of Munich glass was placed in the north aisle in memory of Barwick Sams, rector from 1838 to 1885, by his daughter, later the wife of J.B. Harrison, the rector of Paulerspury. A light oak screen was inserted between the nave and tower in the late 19th century in memory of Francis FitzRoy by his widow. (fn. 641) By the 1970s the church was in poor condition and a great deal of restoration work was carried out to the roof, windows and in particular the tower in the 1980s. (fn. 642)
One of four bells was recast in 1906 and all four were rehung in 1948, along with a new treble cast in memory of parishioners who served in the Second World War. (fn. 643)
Resited at the west end of the aisle, though formerly under the arcade, is a freestone tombchest with cusped and crocketed niches (other sections of which are re-used as the chancel reredos), bearing an alabaster slab incised with a full-length figure in armour and an inscription in Latin couplets for Sir John Woodville (d. 1504), builder of the tower. In the late 18th century the tomb stood 'under the low arch, between the body of the church and the North aile', and on the sides were hooks 'whereon formerly hung shields of arms'. (fn. 644) A simpler tomb-chest with cusped niches, bearing an incised cross-slab, is also re-sited in the aisle. Both were moved in 1889. (fn. 645) Of the numerous 19th-century tablets commemorating members of the FitzRoy family, the outstanding one is that to Charlotte Maria, countess of Euston (1761-1808) by John Flaxman. (fn. 646)
Two private houses at Grafton Regis, those of Joseph Adkins and William Seers, were registered as meeting houses in 1831 and 1834. (fn. 647) Both appear to have been short-lived ventures, since no return was made by a Dissenting congregation in Grafton in the census of 1851. In the 1870s and early 1880s the Wesleyan Methodists had a 'preaching place' with 30 sittings (presumably the village school) at Grafton Regis, which had been given up by 1891. (fn. 648) This was possibly organised by a branch of the congregation at Alderton, where a rudimentary chapel was erected in this period. (fn. 649)
A National school serving the combined parishes of Grafton Regis and Alderton was established in 1844, chiefly through the initiative of the incumbent, B.J. Sams, who also set up Sunday schools in each parish. (fn. 650) In February that year the mistress of the Northampton Central Girls' School, which was run by the Northamptonshire branch of the National Society, provided a reference for Ann Cooper, saying that she would be 'quite able to manage the school at Grafton', having spent a week at the infants' school in Northampton, several weeks at the infants' school at Aynho and three weeks at the central school in Northampton, which served as a training centre for teachers in village schools in the county. (fn. 651) There appears to have been no school of any sort in either Alderton or Grafton before this date. (fn. 652) The new venture was supported by a modest grant of £3 12s. from the local branch of the National Society, with which the school was in union and thus under diocesan inspection. (fn. 653)
If Ann Cooper did become the first mistress at Grafton, she did not remain there for very long, since a Miss West was in charge in 1847. (fn. 654) She was followed by a succession of others. (fn. 655) The school had no premises of its own in these years and was presumably held in one of the cottages in the village. When the local branch of the National Society conducted a census of provision in anticipation of the passing of the 1870 Elementary Education Act, it was found that the school occupied some 300 sq. ft. (4,800 cu. ft.), with a single teacher. Serving a population of about 360 in the two parishes, it had accommodation for 37 children, although there were only 11 boys and 19 girls on the books. No figure was forthcoming for average attendance, but an annual income from school pence of £3 10s. suggests the number may have been about 20, assuming a payment of 1d. a week by each child for about 44 weeks in the year. Voluntary subscriptions provided a further £15 5s. a year. Besides the day school, there were night schools in both Alderton and Grafton, the latter open two nights a week for the five winter months of the year, with 13 pupils aged between 12 and 21 and two under 12. The new Act would require the provision of 70 places at the day school, and the cost of providing an additional 33 on top of the existing 37 was estimated at £118 10s., although the parish was already said to be 'Contemplating the erection of a new school'. (fn. 656)
This was indeed what happened. The duke of Grafton provided a piece of land at the road junction at the northern end of the village, on the site previously occupied by the house known as the Blackmoor's Head, (fn. 657) and in October 1871 a trust was established on standard National Society lines, with the rector, the four churchwardens for the two parishes and two other churchmen (who had to contribute at least 20s. to the school's funds) as managers. The head was to be a member of the Church of England. The school was to be under both diocesan and departmental inspection. (fn. 658)
Plans were provided in January 1872 by the local architect, Edward Swinfen Harris of Stony Stratford, for a stone-built schoolroom measuring 36 ft. by 16 ft. and 15 ft. high, with a twobedroomed house for the mistress attached. There were separate playgrounds for boys and girls in front of the school and a large garden behind the mistress's house. (fn. 659) In all the site occupied 1,080 square yards, three-quarters of which was taken up by the playgrounds. The building, which was also used for a Sunday school and parish entertainments, opened on 19 May 1873, with accommodation for 72 pupils. (fn. 660)
A new mistress, Ada Frances Smith, was appointed in 1883. (fn. 661) Miss Smith married a local farmer, Harry Brafield, and remained at the school, assisted only by a series of monitresses and pupil teachers, until her retirement in 1923. (fn. 662) She was by far the longest serving mistress and had charge of the school throughout its late Victorian and Edwardian heyday, when there were 40 or more pupils on the roll. (fn. 663) The school was also well supported in this period by both the rectors, who taught religious instruction as well as taking the chair at managers' meetings and after 1903 acting as correspondent with the local education authority, and the occupants of the Manor, Gen. FitzRoy and Col. Lombe, both of whom served as managers. (fn. 664) In 1899 the duke of Grafton himself attended a managers' meeting. (fn. 665) Apart from a dispute in the early 1890s between Mrs. Brafield and the rector, in which the managers entirely supported the mistress and the bishop eventually moved the incumbent, (fn. 666) these appear to have been happy years for the school.
Mrs. Brafield's salary was raised from £59 to £65 in 1898 (fn. 667) and by a further £5 from 1901, plus a 'donation' or bonus of £5 (including £2 superannuation), provided reports from H.M.I. and grants remained satisfactory. (fn. 668) She also had the help of a pupil-teacher paid £18 4s. a year. (fn. 669) Between them they taught children of all ages in a single room, divided into two by a curtain and warmed by a coal fire in the winter. The children came from both villages, those from Alderton walking over the fields, bringing their lunch with them. (fn. 670) In general, Mrs. Brafield's reports from H.M.I. were satisfactory, even if, as the years went by, her methods were seen as increasingly old fashioned. Discipline was always highly praised and the teaching described as 'painstaking' (fn. 671) or 'industrious', (fn. 672) although in 1907 an inspector suggested that it might be 'more sympathetic and less mechanical'. (fn. 673) In 1920 another hinted that in such a small school discipline need not be as rigid as was the case at Grafton, with ordinary class teaching giving way to more individual methods. (fn. 674)
Until the First World War the school's financial position appears to have been satisfactory, although in 1898 the Education Department noted a falling off in voluntary subscriptions. (fn. 675) On the other hand, in addition to the government grant, the school received an annual gift of £10 from the duke of Grafton (fn. 676) and in 1903 the parish agreed to levy a voluntary school rate of 2d., (fn. 677) as had been done in previous years. (fn. 678) The accounts for 1901-2 showed that a grant of £94 5s., combined with subscriptions of £24 17s. 4d., produced a slight excess of income over expenditure, of which £84 7s. out of a total of £118 16s. 4d. was represented by salaries. (fn. 679)
The 1902 Education Act made little difference to the day-to-day running of the school, apart from requiring the appointment of four foundation managers for what was now officially Grafton Regis & Alderton Non-Provided School. (fn. 680) The new managers declined, possibly for lack of funds, to act on a suggestion by the L.E.A.'s surveyors in 1903 that new boys' cloakrooms might be built, although they did have plans drawn up. (fn. 681)
More serious problems stemmed from the aftermath of the First World War and the break-up of the Wakefield Lodge estate. In March 1919 the school had to be closed because there was no coal, and the wood which the boys had been collecting for the previous fortnight had run out. (fn. 682) The following month Robert Fountaine, the principal farmer at Alderton, helped with a gift of wood but no coal was delivered until May. (fn. 683) The same problem led to another closure in March 1920. (fn. 684) In November 1921 the children observed the Armistice Day silence but Mrs. Brafield decided not to send for any poppies to sell at the school: with fathers' wages much lower than in the past money was scarce in the two villages. (fn. 685) Just over two years later Mrs. Brafield retired after 40 years' service, with a glowing tribute from H.M.I. to the school's 'commendable state of efficiency' and her own teaching, especially with a class whose ages ranged for four to fourteen. (fn. 686)
The new (uncertificated) headmistress was Mrs. Ada Beatrice Lunn, who started at Grafton in February 1924 with an average attendance of only ten; (fn. 687) the following autumn there were 18 children on the roll. (fn. 688) Mrs. Lunn left after little more than two years, (fn. 689) to be replaced by Grace Wells, who was also unqualified and started with only 15 children in September 1926. (fn. 690) The main reason for this drop was the decision by the local authority that small schools such as Grafton should no longer retain pupils beyond the age of 11, who should move instead to larger schools. (fn. 691) In September 1925 it was noted that, in addition to two children leaving for Towcester Grammar School and the Northampton Town and County School, two others had moved to the school at Paulerspury, simply because they were 11. (fn. 692) In April 1926 the rector warned the archidiaconal education committee that the managers were thinking of handing the school over to the L.E.A., which the committee hoped would not have to be done, (fn. 693) and a few months later pointed out that the county council would meet ninetenths of the cost of work that needed doing at the school. (fn. 694) In October 1926 the managers sought clarification from the county council as to whether all pupils had to leave at 11 or only the boys, as the managers believed; (fn. 695) they were told that the boys must transfer to Paulerspury but that girls might stay at Grafton until they reached school-leaving age. H.M.I. described Grafton as a 'Happy little school' in 1925, although he suggested that the teacher make herself more familiar with modern methods. (fn. 696)
Over the next couple of years the school seems to have rallied somewhat. Mrs. Wells organised a successful Christmas concert at the end of 1927, which raised sufficient to buy a secondhand gramophone which Mrs. Lombe at the Manor passed on at a nominal price. (fn. 697) In July 1928 a consignment of books arrived from Northampton as the nucleus of a county branch library to be run from the school, (fn. 698) and in November that year both the head and the school received excellent reports from H.M.I., who referred to a 'happy little hive of industry'. (fn. 699) The problem of small numbers remained, however, which often meant that during the winter attendance was reduced by sickness or bad weather to single figures, especially when none of the Alderton children could get to school. During one week in February 1928 there were only three children present. (fn. 700)
A further blow fell in October 1929 when the L.E.A. directed that girls as well as boys must leave Grafton at 11, for either Yardley Gobion (since it was in charge of a mistreess) or another school chosen by their parents. (fn. 701) Mrs. Wells resigned the same month (fn. 702) and the school was in the hands of a temporary head until the following June, when Edna Smith became the third in a succesion of uncertificated teachers at Grafton. (fn. 703) When Miss Smith was appointed there were 19 children on the roll, a number which fell to 11 within two years. (fn. 704) The school nonetheless received a very good diocesan inspector's report in 1930 (fn. 705) and generally favourable comments from H.M.I. two years later, when it was noted that because of the small numbers most of the teaching was of an individual character, and the head worked in consultation with the schools to which the pupils transferred at 11. (fn. 706)
By September 1933 Miss Smith was herself sufficiently concerned at the low numbers to raise the matter with the L.E.A. She pointed out that she had started the new school year with only eight pupils, of whom two came from Alderton, and that neither she nor their parents liked young children walking unaccompanied from one village to the other. If the school closed, all the Alderton children could walk together to Paulerspury. The L.E.A. observed that the Alderton parents were free to send their children to whichever school they wished and that, although the county's policy was not to close small schools without good reason, the question would inevitably arise if numbers fell as low as six. In the event, the matter was precipitated by Miss Smith's decision to resign on marriage, which she made known to the managers and L.E.A. later that term. (fn. 707) The rector of Grafton expressed the managers' strong opposition to closure, arguing that it would be a loss to village life and impose hardship on the children. If closure was inevitable, the county should meet the cost of transport to the schools at Yardley Gobion or Paulerspury. (fn. 708) Since both schools were within two miles of Grafton and Alderton respectively, the L.E.A. could not help with the cost, although they did have a scheme under which schoolchildren could buy bicycles below normal retail prices. (fn. 709) The question of travelling arrangements was also one of the points the Board of Education raised with the authority before agreeing to closure, as well as requesting a statement of exactly how much money would be saved. (fn. 710) In January 1934 the Board agreed that the school should close the following Easter, but asked the L.E.A. to press for a change in the timetable so that Grafton children could catch a bus to and from Yardley. (fn. 711) By this stage the archidiaconal education committee accepted closure as inevitable but continued to be concerned about the cost of transport. (fn. 712)
The school duly closed at Easter 1934, with only three of the eight children on the roll attending for the last week of term. (fn. 713) The two from Alderton moved to Paulerspury and the Grafton children went to Yardley Gobion, although problems over travelling, with no bus service for the Alderton children (fn. 714) and no help with the cost for those from Grafton, remained unresolved. In the summer term of 1934 the attendance officer was asked to investigate four or five cases at Grafton of children not at school, but was warned to handle the matter with care, since local feeling remained bitter over the closure of the school and parents were pressing for money for bus fares. (fn. 715) In the 1950s carowners in the village organised a rota to take children to school because of the limitations of the bus service. (fn. 716)
After the closure, the duke of Grafton waived his reverter under the School Sites Act to the schoolroom, which was vested in the diocese and managed by the parochial church council. (fn. 717) It became a public hall, which the village had previously lacked, and remained in use for this purpose in 2000, when it was extensively refurbished. Set against this gain to the community was a feeling, expressed by one Alderton resident in the early 1960s, that the closure of the school, which had tended to bring Grafton Regis and Alderton together, led to the two villages growing apart, since the children now travelled to different schools and saw little of each other. (fn. 718)
After 1944 children from Grafton Regis who did not secure selective school places continued to receive all their education at the unreorganised schools at Yardley Gobion and later Potterspury until 1958, (fn. 719) when a secondary modern school opened at Deanshanger, taking children from a number of villages in the area, with a bus service provided. (fn. 720)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
Under the Act of 1727 confirming the inclosure agreement an annual payment of £1 was due in respect of a parcel of land allotted to the poor which was added to the Grafton estate. (fn. 721) The 2nd duke was making such payments in the 1730s (fn. 722) but in 1767 it was said that no money had been received for twenty years. (fn. 723) The charity was regarded as lost by the early 19th century. (fn. 724)