A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 5, the Hundred of Cleley. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
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The ancient parish of Stoke Bruerne occupies some 2,600 acres towards the north-western corner of Cleley hundred. It is separated from Paulerspury and Alderton to the south by the Tove, and from Ashton and Roade on the east by a tributary of the river. On the west Stoke adjoins Easton Neston and on the north Blisworth in Wymersley hundred.
The parish was divided into two hamlets, Stoke Bruerne in the east and Shutlanger in the west, in the 16th century and presumably before, which were separate for all civil purposes. (fn. 1) The original boundary between the two is probably represented by the stream which rises on the high ground just inside Blisworth and flows more or less south, passing midway between the villages of Stoke and Shutlanger, to join the Tove at the southern edge of the parish. After Stoke Park was created during Henry VIII's reign, although the whole of the park lay on the Stoke side of the brook, henceforth the park (whilst not extraparochial) was treated as belonging to neither hamlet but was rated in moieties, paying half to Stoke and half to Shutlanger. (fn. 2) When the modern boundary between the two civil parishes was settled in the mid 19th century, a straight line was drawn from the stream at the north-western corner of the park, through the park (bisecting the mansion) to the south-eastern corner, thus placing almost half its acreage in Shutlanger and half in Stoke. (fn. 3) In addition, until both hamlets were inclosed in 1844, Stoke and Shutlanger intercommoned a large area of meadow alongside the Tove. Although geographically all of this lay within Shutlanger township, (fn. 4) it formed a detached portion of Stoke until 1883, when it was transferred to Shutlanger. (fn. 5) After this boundary change, Stoke Bruerne civil parish contained 1,270 acres, Shutlanger 1,363 acres. (fn. 6)
The south-western corner of the parish (fn. 7) lies about 270 ft. above sea level; from there the Tove drops gently to about 240 ft. in the southeastern corner some two miles away. From the river valley the land rises to a maximum of about 450 ft. at the summit of the hill which separates Stoke from Blisworth. The high ground is covered by Boulder Clay; the rest of the parish lies on Oolitic Limestone, Upper Lias Clay and riverine deposits. (fn. 8) Besides the stream which divides Stoke from Shutlanger, other tributaries of the Tove run south through each of the two villages and a third flows generally east-south-east from Easton Neston through Shutlanger township.
In 1301 43 households were assessed to the lay subsidy in Stoke Bruerne and 40 in Shutlanger. (fn. 9) The two townships remained much the same size in the 1520s, with about 30 households in each assessed to the lay subsidy. (fn. 10) In 1674 49 households were assessed to the hearth tax in Stoke, of which 20 were discharged through poverty; in Shutlanger 27 of the 52 households were discharged. (fn. 11) In the early 18th century Stoke contained 55 houses and about 260 people, Shutlanger 60 houses and 280 inhabitants. (fn. 12) By 1801 the population of Stoke had grown to 352, probably mainly because of the recent opening of the Grand Junction Canal though the village, (fn. 13) although there were only 61 houses in the township. Shutlanger had contracted slightly, to 49 houses and a population of 257. Stoke continued to grow more modestly to a peak of 469 in 1851, after which there was a steady fall to 438 in 1901 and then a more rapid decline to a trough of 229 in 1951. New building led to an increase to 270 ten years later and 346 by 1981. Shutlanger's 19th-century growth peaked later than in most neighbouring parishes at 403 in 1881, before falling to 293 in 1921 and 215 forty years later. The population was still only 255 in 1981.
The main pre-motorway road from London to Northampton enters Stoke Bruerne at a crossing of the Tove at Twyford Bridge, in the south-east corner of the parish, and runs due north through the eastern side of the parish for about a mile and a half towards Roade, from which a minor road branches north-west to Stoke Bruerne village. The other main road serving the village runs west from Ashton, crosses the London to Northampton road and continues through Stoke to Shutlanger. Until inclosure, this route turned north-west at Shutlanger towards Sewardsley and Hulcote, eventually reaching the main Northampton-Oxford road. (fn. 14) At inclosure, a new road was laid out from Shutlanger to run south-west across the former open fields to Cappenham Bridge in the south-western corner of the parish, where it joined an existing road which continued to a junction with Watling Street at Heathencote. Two lanes ran south from Shutlanger through the open fields to the meadow alongside the Tove, both of which were stopped up at inclosure; a third, which ran close to the western edge of Stoke Park and continued across the Tove to Alderton, remained in use. (fn. 15) A road from Blisworth runs south to cross the Stoke- Shutlanger road west of Stoke village and continues into Stoke Park; another track running down from the high ground between Blisworth and Stoke to the village appears to have gone out of use as a through route after inclosure. (fn. 16)
The Grand Junction Canal, promoted in 1793 as an improved trunk route between London and Birmingham, and completed in 1805, enters the parish by an aqueduct over a tributary of the Tove half a mile north of Twyford Bridge and continues north to Stoke village. Beyond it enters Blisworth Tunnel, through which the canal passes beneath the high ground between Stoke and Blisworth. Between 1800 and 1805, until the tunnel was opened, goods were carried over Blisworth Hill by a horse-drawn tramroad which ran from a wharf on the canal where it was crossed by the London-Northampton road to another near the northern portal of the tunnel. The building of the canal was an event of considerable importance for both the topography and economy of Stoke Bruerne (its impact on Shutlanger appears to have been slight, if any) and has continued to play an important part in the life of the community ever since. (fn. 17)
Apart from the temporary tramroad over Blisworth Hill, the only railway to pass through the parish was the line from Towcester to Olney, authorised in 1879 (fn. 18) but not opened until 1891. Between December that year and the following March a shortlived passenger service called at a station (named Stoke Bruern) built some way from the village at the point at which the Blisworth road crossed the railway. (fn. 19) The line itself remained in use for freight and occasional passenger excursions until 1958; the substantial red-brick buildings at Stoke, which closed as a passenger station in 1892 but remained open for goods until 1952, (fn. 20) were later converted to residential use. A proposal at the time the line was promoted in 1878 to build a branch to the canal wharf at Stoke Bruerne (fn. 21) came to nothing.
LANDSCAPE AND SETTLEMENT
Before the canal.
Worked flints of Neolithic type are said to have been found in the parish and a Bronze Age palstave was discovered near Stoke Plain sometime before 1904; two (or possibly three) Iron Age settlements have also been located. (fn. 22) A Roman glass beaker, a unique import of the Flavian period, was found sometime before 1916 in ironstone workings in the parish. (fn. 23) This must have been near Shutlanger village (fn. 24) and may have been associated with the Roman coarse wares and tile found on the western edge of the parish in 1967. (fn. 25) More important was the discovery of a large villa near the road from Stoke and Ashton, close to the eastern boundary of the parish, which was partially excavated in the 1960s and its plan more fully recorded from aerial photographs. (fn. 26)
The site of the earliest post-Roman settlement in the parish is presumably indicated by the position of the parish church, which stands on high ground on the western edge of Stoke village, near one of the Iron Age settlements and also close to where a single inhumation, assumed to be Saxon, was found c. 1910. (fn. 27) The older part of the village lies entirely to the east of the church, on either side of a stream which flows south from Blisworth Hill to the Tove, where the four roads leading to Ashton, the London road, Shutlanger and Blisworth meet. (fn. 28) Earthworks on the eastern edge of the existing built-up area, to both the north and south of the Ashton road, suggest that in the Middle Ages settlement extended a little further in that direction than was the case by the early 18th century, when the community was mapped for the first time. (fn. 29) A water-mill, recorded in 1086, stood on the stream to the north of the village, alongside the lane leading towards Blisworth. (fn. 30)
Stoke Bruerne lacked a resident lord, both in the Middle Ages and later, and there is no evidence for a capital messuage associated with the manor in the village. The older cottages and former farmhouses are built of coursed rubble limestone and were presumably originally all thatched, as a number are today. A property on the Green, known in modern times as the Dower House, is dated 1636 and most of the other older houses in the village clearly date from the same period.
To the south of the village a park was created in 1529-30, (fn. 31) to which more land was added after the manor was annexed to the honor of Grafton in 1542. In the following few years Crown tenants in both Stoke and Shutlanger were compensated for lost common arable (fn. 32) and the rector offered a composition for lost tithes. (fn. 33) Similarly, in 1628 it was noted that land worth 60s. 3½d. a year on the former Knightley estate in Stoke and 25s. 6d. on that acquired from Sir Arthur Longfield had long since been inclosed within the park. (fn. 34) In 1621 it was claimed that about 300 a. had been inclosed, either by Henry VIII or during Edward VI's reign. (fn. 35) A survey of 1558, on the other hand, found that the park contained only 190 a. (23 a. of meadow, 92 a. of pasture and 75 a. of woodland) and had a perimeter of 907 perches and four yards. (fn. 36) These figures are difficult to reconcile with the other evidence, since when the estate was alienated by the Crown in 1629 it contained 405 a., occupying a large block of land extending from the edge of the village to the Tove, (fn. 37) and there is no indication (either at Stoke or elsewhere) that officials increased the area of parkland within the honor after 1548.
There was a keeper's lodge towards the northern end of Stoke Park, which was rebuilt in the early 1620s and remodelled again in the late 18th century and late 19th. (fn. 38)
At Shutlanger the village also developed on either side of a south-flowing stream where routes from all four points of the compass meet. (fn. 39) Here again earthworks (to the north-east of the existing settlement) suggest that the village may have shrunk in the late medieval period. (fn. 40) Since Shutlanger was neither a parish nor a lordship in its own right, it lacked both a church and a manor house in the Middle Ages, although in the 14th century one of the freeholders built an impressive two-storey stone-built house on the south-eastern edge of the village, which later became a farmhouse on the Fermor estate. It was included in an exchange between the trustees of the 5th earl of Pomfret and the 5th duke of Grafton at the time of inclosure in 1844, (fn. 41) after which it was divided into labourers' tenements. When the Grafton estate in the parish was sold in 1919, the Monastery (as it had become known through a spurious association with Sewardsley nunnery in Easton Neston) was bought by the sitting tenant and remodelled as a private house, (fn. 42) as it remained at the time of writing. In its present form the Monastery extends to 3½ bays, including a two-bay hall, with a half-bay below the spere truss containing the cross-passage and a service bay beyond. An eastern solar or parlour bay has evidently been demolished. The house has an almost complete medieval roof structure and a two-storey entrance porch. This seems to have been added to the main building, which appears to date from the first half of the 14th century, although the windows in the south elevation of the main range, and also the porch, perhaps date from the late 15th century or the beginning of the 16th. The house was modernised in the 17th century by the insertion of a staircase in the cross-passage and a fireplace in the service bay. (fn. 43) Although the original owner cannot be identified for certain, it was the home in the early 15th century of a family named Parles, by whom it must have been built, bought or inherited sometime before 1400. (fn. 44) The house was surrounded by quite extensive grounds, with fishponds and a dovecote, while an adjoining close formed a small park, described in the 1540s as 20 a. of coppice known as Parles Park (fn. 45) and recalled in the 18th and 19th centuries by the field-name 'Pales Park'. (fn. 46)
Besides the two main villages, there was a hamlet in the Middle Ages to the south of Stoke Bruerne, in the area added to Stoke Park during Henry VIII's reign, by which time it was presumably deserted. (fn. 47) There may also have been a small hamlet at Twyford, the crossing of the Tove in the south-eastern corner of the parish, in the Middle Ages: there was certainly a mill there, although this may have been just over the border in Alderton or Grafton Regis. (fn. 48)
Stoke and Shutlanger each had their own common fields and common meadow in the Middle Ages, most of which survived until 1844, when the parish was the last in the south of the county to be inclosed. (fn. 49) They appear to have shared a large area of common woodland or wood-pasture in the north of the parish, which was gradually cleared, although a small portion survived until the 20th century. (fn. 50)
After the canal.
The building of the canal in the 1790s radically altered the layout of Stoke village. After following the Tove valley for several miles from a crossing of the Ouse near Wolverton, the canal leaves the river at the southern boundary of Stoke parish and follows a steeper valley formed by the tributary around which Stoke village grew up, rising by a series of seven locks, five near the point at which the canal passes beneath the Northampton road and two in the village itself, to reach the pound which includes Blisworth Tunnel. Public wharfs were established both at the main road bridge and in the village, which was effectively bisected by the canal. The more northerly of the two lanes crossing the valley floor was stopped up, while the other was realigned and carried over the canal at the tail of the top lock on an elegant brick-built bridge. A little further north, the canal severed the glebe land to the east of the parsonage and the rector, as well seeking the largest possible sum for the land he sold to the canal company, insisted that an accommodation bridge (removed in the 20th century) be built to provide access from the parsonage grounds to his other land. (fn. 51) About a hundred yards beyond this bridge stands the impressive southern portal of Blisworth Tunnel.
By the end of 1796 the canal had been completed from its northern terminus at Braunston as far as Blisworth, where work had started on the tunnel but was then suspended. After plans for a deviation, probably following the valley of another tributary of the Tove to the west of Ashton, and passing close to Hyde Farm in Roade, which would have involved building 29 locks and a reservoir but no tunnel, were abandoned, a road was built over Blisworth Hill in 1797 to carry goods from Stoke to the wharf at Blisworth. (fn. 52) This proved insufficient to deal with the tonnage involved and in 1800 Benjamin Outram (1764-1805) was engaged to design and, using cast-iron rails supplied by his Butterley ironworks in Derbyshire, build a double-track horse-drawn railway from the wharf at the London road bridge, along the canal towpath to the village, and then over Blisworth Hill to the completed section of canal. The railway remained in use for five years, during which time it may have been the most intensively worked line of its kind in Britain. (fn. 53)
In 1800 the canal reached Stoke Bruerne from the south and two years later work resumed on Blisworth Tunnel, which was opened in 1805, so that the the entire canal from Brentford (Mdx.) to Braunston (Warws.) was finally complete. The tramroad was taken up and some of the rails re-used for a line from Gayton to Northampton (which was itself superseded by the Northampton branch of the Grand Junction Canal, opened in 1815). Most of the route over Blisworth Hill can still be traced, including slight earthworks. (fn. 54)
The promotion of a railway from London to Birmingham in the early 1830s prompted schemes for improvements to the canal route, including a new canal running directly from Stoke Bruerne to Birmingham. (fn. 55) None of these came to anything but in 1835 the Grand Junction sought to increase the speed of carrying on its existing line by duplicating the Stoke Bruerne locks, so that boats could pass in both directions at the same time. (fn. 56) In the village this required the building of a second bridge to carry the main street over the tail of the new lock, which stood immediately to the east of the original one. A few years later, after the inclosure of the village green to the east of the canal, a short side-arm was built running to a coal wharf on part of the land, together with a tall, red-brick steam-powered cornmill and a row of four cottages for mill employees. Behind these buildings was a ropewalk, smithy and stables. On the west side of the canal, by the mid 19th century, there was an extensive range of buildings, including the lock-keeper's house, the Boat inn, stables, a coal yard, wharfinger's house and office, and wharfs and warehouses. At the Northampton road wharf there were other buildings, including an agent's house. (fn. 57) On the west side of the canal below the tail of the lower lock at Stoke village there was a brickyard for much of the 19th century. (fn. 58)
Elsewhere in the parish it was the inclosure of the remaining common arable and meadow in 1844, rather than the coming of the canal, which led to change in the landscape. At Shutlanger, the layout of the village was altered at inclosure by the building of the new road to Heathencote and the stopping up of older lanes running down to the Tove. (fn. 59) The avenue from Easton Neston survived inclosure, although it was severed by the new road and by the 1880s trees were beginning to be felled at its eastern end. (fn. 60)
Perhaps most striking was the building of three large new farms on the Grafton estate in the parish on the former open fields, as well as new buildings at existing farms in both villages. Two of the farms, Stoke Gap, which stood at the junction of Ashton Road and Northampton Road east of Stoke village, and Stoke Plain, on the road to Blisworth north-west of the village, were of coursed rubble limestone, like the model farms elsewhere on the estate, but Shutlanger Grove, in the middle of the former Alderton Field south of Shutlanger, was of brick with stone dressings. The bricks were supplied by the Foxleys, who had a yard on the Grafton estate at Alderton, although during the construction of Shutlanger Grove they opened pits and built a kiln on site. (fn. 61)
Both the Grafton and Pomfret (later FermorHesketh) estates built a few new cottages in Stoke and Shutlanger respectively in the 19th century. Wesleyan Methodist chapels were built at both Stoke and Shutlanger in the 1840s, of which the former was replaced by a larger building and the latter extended in the 1870s. (fn. 62) At Stoke a schoolroom built in the late 1830s was enlarged in 1880-2, while at Shutlanger an infants' school, with a reserved chancel enabling the building to be used as a chapel of ease, was opened in 1885, when an older schoolroom became a village reading room. (fn. 63) The mansion at Stoke Park was badly damaged by fire in 1886 and rebuilt a few years later. (fn. 64)
Change in the first half of the 20th century mainly affected the vicinity of the canal. The cornmill closed in 1913 and the building remained disused for half a century; the brickyard was abandoned shortly after the First World War; and traffic on the canal was sharply reduced. (fn. 65) After the Second World War, despite the continuing decline in commercial carrying, the arrival of a new lock-keeper at Stoke Bruerne, Jack James, in 1947 led to a tidyingup of the previously neglected surrounding area and in 1963 the opening of a museum of canal relics in the old cornmill, based on James's own collection. (fn. 66) The Boat inn was modernised in 1960 and opened a tea-room in its former stables three years later. (fn. 67) The development of the museum by British Waterways, combined with the growth of pleasure cruising on the canal, brought far larger numbers of visitors by both boat and car from the 1960s to Stoke than to any neighbouring village, somewhat to the concern of the parish council. (fn. 68)
In the 1930s the rector noted that the architectural character of Stoke was changing, a process that had begun when brick 'invaded the place' some years before. Thatch was also going out of fashion, with corrugated iron and other roofing materials used instead. (fn. 69) By the end of the Second World War many of the cottages in the parish were in poor condition and in 1959 Stoke was described as becoming less picturesque each year, a process aggravated, felt one resident, by the building of a small estate of council houses to the west of the church, beyond the edge of the older built-up area. On the other hand, even by this date newcomers prepared to restore and extend old cottages had begun to arrive. (fn. 70) The transformation continued, as elsewhere in the district, throughout the last quarter of the 20th century, as Stoke came to be favoured by professional and business families who worked elsewhere. Shutlanger, a smaller village lacking the visual focus and economic stimulus provided by the canal, with less variety of building and no parish church, shared in the process to a more modest extent. The growth of population and shift in social structure at Stoke enabled the village school to survive the threat of closure in the 1950s; the former schoolroom at Shutlanger (which closed as an infants' school during the First World War), remained in use at the time of writing as a chapel of ease. (fn. 71) The Stoke Methodist chapel closed in 1974; that at Shutlanger about ten years later. (fn. 72) At Stoke Park, where the parkland was ploughed up during the war and most of the timber falled shortly afterwards, the Victorian house was demolished in 1954 but the surviving 17th-century work, together with some 19th-century service buildings, was restored as a private residence. (fn. 73)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES
The manor of Stoke Bruerne.
In 1086 a Englishman, Swain the son of Azor, held four hides in demesne in Stoke. (fn. 74) The estate appears afterwards to have reverted to the Crown, by whom it was granted out to the Norman family of Mauquency, who were early benefactors to St. James's abbey, Northampton. (fn. 75) In 1162-3 the sheriff accounted for 33s. 4d. from Shutlanger and Blisworth, (fn. 76) and four years later his successor did likewise for one mark for Blisworth and half a mark for Stoke, on behalf of Robert de Peissi, who was also pardoned one mark. (fn. 77) This same Robert confirmed grants by the Mauquency family to St. James. (fn. 78)
In 1199-1201 John Maudit was in dispute concerning 15 virgates of land in Shutlanger, two virgates in Stoke and a mill at Twyford (fn. 79) with Gerard de Mauquency, who had absented himself and the premises had passed to the Crown. John sought seisin of the estate, (fn. 80) initially successfully, (fn. 81) but in 1200 Gerard paid the king 20 marks for the land in Stoke and Shutlanger which he had lost through default and the sheriff was ordered to give him seision. This agreement was then cancelled and John secured the premises for a payment of 50 marks and a palfrey. (fn. 82) The two were also in dispute over a free tenement in Shutlanger in the same period. (fn. 83)
When King John seized the lands in England held by the Normans in 1204, in retaliation for the loss of Normandy, an extent was made of the manor of Stoke, late of John Pratell. (fn. 84) In the same year John assigned Grantham and Stamford (Lincs.) to William de Warenne earl of Surrey until William should recover his lands in Normandy, or until he could make him an equivalent in exchange for them. (fn. 85) The earl appears to have acquired Stoke under this arrangement, since he was in possession of the manor a few years later, when he subinfeudated the estate to William Brewer. (fn. 86) Stoke was still among his fees in the 1230s. (fn. 87) Earl William died in 1240 and was succeeded by his son John (d. 1305), of whom Pagan de Chaworth was found to hold the manor at his death in 1279, (fn. 88) as was his brother Patrick de Chaworth four years later. (fn. 89) In 1284 the manor was returned as being held of the king in chief by the earl for one knight's fee. (fn. 90)
Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, died in 1324 seised of one fee in Stoke Bruerne and Alderton held of the honor of Castle Acre (Norfolk), (fn. 91) in which he had been enfeoffed by John earl of Warenne. (fn. 92) After Pembroke's death the paramount lordship of Stoke and Alderton descended to Roger de Grey, Lord Grey de Ruthyn (d. 1353), who married Elizabeth, daughter of John Hastings, Lord Hastings (d. 1313), by his first wife Isabel, daughter of William de Valence, earl of Pembroke (d. 1296), Aymer's father. (fn. 93) In 1364 Alice de Staunton, the eldest daughter and co-heir of William de Combemartin, died holding a third part of the manors of Stoke Bruerne and Alderton of Juliana countess of Huntingdon, who held the third part in dower after the death of John de Hastings, her husband. (fn. 94) When Isabel, William de Combemartin's second daughter, died in 1401, she was found to hold a third of her father's estate of Reynold Lord Grey de Ruthyn (d. 1440). (fn. 95) In 1441 Margaret, the widow of William Harrowden, held the same premises of Reynold's son Edmund Lord Grey de Ruthyn, (fn. 96) as did Richard Longeville in 1459 (fn. 97) and Margaret Longeville in 1486, the last after Edmund had become earl of Kent. (fn. 98)
The undertenancy to 1318.
The undertenancy of the manors of both Stoke Bruerne and Alderton evidently began with a grant by William earl of Surrey to William Brewer (d. 1226), a prominent crown servant of the reigns of Richard I and John, who in 1210-12 was found to hold lands in Stoke and Shutlanger as successor to Gerard de Mauquency, but by what service was not known. (fn. 99) At some date after 1215 William confirmed to Brewer and his heirs all the lands in his fee in Stoke, Shutlanger and Alderton, with whatever he or his predecessors had in those lands, by the service of one knight's fee. (fn. 100) Brewer, who presented to the living of Stoke in 1217 and 1221 (fn. 101) (and gave his name to the parish) (fn. 102) was succeeded by his son, also named William. (fn. 103) The earl of Surrey made a new grant to the younger Brewer of all the land in his fee in Stoke, Shutlanger and Alderton for the service of one knight, (fn. 104) presumably shortly after his father's death. Brewer in turn made a grant in 1227 to William de Moiun of land in Stoke to be held by the service of half a knight's fee. (fn. 105)
The younger Brewer died without issue in 1232, leaving as coheirs his five sisters and their representatives. In 1233 Stoke was allotted to his third sister Margaret, (fn. 106) subject to the dower of William's widow Joan, (fn. 107) who held one knight's fee in Stoke two years later (fn. 108) and in 1247, (fn. 109) and retained the manor until her death. (fn. 110)
Margaret Brewer married William de la Ferté of Marden (Wilts.), who was dead by 1216, by whom she had one daughter and heiress, Gundred, who married Pagan de Chaworth. (fn. 111) In 1237 Patrick de Chaworth, their son, gave 500 marks to the king for livery of the lands, including Stoke, which had descended to him from his father and from Margaret his grandmother, both of whom were dead. (fn. 112) Patrick died c. 1258 and was succeeded by his eldest son Pagan, then aged about 14. (fn. 113) In 1270 Pagan was given permission to sell 5 a. of wood at Stoke, lying between the church and the vill of Shutlanger, (fn. 114) and in 1276 was found to be holding a view of frankpledge and assize of ale at Stoke without warrant. (fn. 115) A year later he took part in a successful expedition against the Welsh and was given custody of three castles in west Wales. (fn. 116) He presented to the living of Stoke on at least one occasion. (fn. 117)
Pagan de Chaworth died without issue in 1279, leaving his brother Patrick as his heir. (fn. 118) Patrick, who married Isabel daughter of William Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, died in 1283 seised of lands in Stoke, Shutlanger and Alderton, and the advowsons of Stoke and Alderton. His heir was his only daughter Maud, then aged one. (fn. 119) The manors of Stoke and Alderton were assigned in dower later the same year to Patrick's widow Isabel, (fn. 120) who in c. 1287 married Hugh le Despenser. (fn. 121) In 1292 and 1304 Hugh presented to the rectory of Stoke Bruerne in right of his wife. (fn. 122)
Patrick and Isabel's daughter Maud married, sometime before March 1297, (fn. 123) Henry, son of Edmund earl of Lancaster and brother and heir of Thomas earl of Lancaster. (fn. 124) In 1306 Henry and Maud conveyed the manors of Stoke Bruerne and Alderton, with the advowsons of both churches, to William de Combemartin and his heirs. (fn. 125) Ten years later William was returned as lord of Stoke Bruerne, Shutlanger and Alderton. (fn. 126) Also in 1316 he brought an action against the abbot of St. James, Northampton, and many others of Roade, where the abbey held an estate at Hyde, accusing them of breaking into his enclosure at Stoke. The defendants claimed that they had been accustomed to use the enclosure until William had restrained them; he replied that he had held the land in question for ten years since purchasing it from Henry of Lancaster and Maud his wife. (fn. 127)
William de Combemartin's will was proved in May 1318. (fn. 128) In July the same year Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, the paramount lord, granted his widow Margery, in consideration of 600 marks, custody of the manors of Stoke, Shutlanger and Alderton, with the wardship and marriage of Alice, Isabel and Joan, William's three daughters and coheirs. (fn. 129) Margery later married Adam de Courteenhall, who in 1329 was summoned to show by what right he claimed view of frankpledge, infangentheof and rights of waif in the manor of Stoke Bruerne and its members. He pleaded that it was the free tenement of his wife, who was permitted to plead with him. After reciting the purchase from Henry of Lancaster and Maud his wife, Adam and Margery stated that, following William de Combemartin's death, Aymer de Valence had assigned a third part of the manor to Margery in dower and that she had purchased the other two parts for life from her daughters, the coheirs. They were allowed to keep their privileges in return for the payment of fines. (fn. 130)
The descendants of Alice de Combemartin.
In 1346 Adam de Courteenhall accounted for one small fee in Stoke Bruerne, held of the honor of Castle Acre. (fn. 131) He was still alive five years later, (fn. 132) but his wife had evidently died before him, for in 1347 John de Staunton presented to the living at Stoke Bruerne. (fn. 133) He was the third husband of Alice, the eldest daughter and coheir of William de Combemartin, whose first husband was John de Oxenford, lord mayor of London in 1341. Their only son, also called John, predeceased his father, and at Alice's death in 1364, when she was seised of a third part of the manors and advowsons of Stoke and Alderton, her heir was her grandson by her first marriage, another John de Oxenford, then aged 11. (fn. 134) He appears later to have died without issue. Alice's second husband was Walter de Cheshunt of Rainham (Essex), who died in 1344, (fn. 135) by whom she had a son and heir, also named Walter. (fn. 136) In 1366 Walter quitclaimed to Richard Woodville of Grafton his right to his mother's one-third share of the manors and advowsons of Stoke and Alderton, and of a yearly rent of £10 issuing from this third part, (fn. 137) presumably as part of Richard's purchase of Alice's share of the estate.
Richard Woodville died around the beginning of Richard II's reign. (fn. 138) In 1387 Simon Simeon died seised of an estate in Alderton and Stoke Bruerne held of Richard's son John Woodville, (fn. 139) and in 1392 John was found to hold a third of the two manors and advowsons, by virtue of his father's purchase in 1366. (fn. 140) He presented to the living at Stoke in 1393. (fn. 141) Five years later Thomas, son and heir of John Woodville, conveyed to feoffees the manor of Alvescot (Oxon.) and premises in Stoke Bruerne, Shutlanger and Alderton late his father's. (fn. 142) Also in 1398 Sir John la Warre, Lord la Warre, who had married Elizabeth, widow of Simon Simeon, died seised of the same premises in Stoke, Shutlanger and Alderton of the heirs of John Woodville as Simon had held at his death ten years before. (fn. 143)
In 1428 Thomas Woodville and others held half a knight's fee in Stoke Bruerne, which Adam de Courteenhall formerly held of the honor of Castle Acre, (fn. 144) and the following year made a recovery of a third part of the manors of Stoke Bruerne and Alderton, held of the gift of Henry of Lancaster and Maud his wife. (fn. 145) In his will of 1434 Thomas directed his feoffees to keep the manor and advowson of Stoke until they had paid 200 marks out of the estate to his executors to the uses of his will, or until those who pretended title to the manor by tail paid the same sum to his executors. After this sum had been paid, and an annuity of 100s. charged on the manor had also expired, his feoffees were to make an estate to those who pretended to have an inheritance of the manor in tail. (fn. 146) In fact, the Woodville share of Stoke Bruerne and Alderton appears not to have been alienated and to have descended with their home manor of Grafton, passing with that estate to the Crown in Henry VIII's reign. (fn. 147)
The descendants of Isabel de Combemartin.
William de Combemartin's second daughter and coheir Isabel also married three times. Her first husband was William de St. John of Plumpton, who died in 1331; (fn. 148) soon afterwards she married John de Daventry; (fn. 149) and by 1338 she was the wife of Richard de Rothing, (fn. 150) who was dead by 1377. (fn. 151) Isabel, who presented to the living of Stoke in 1349, (fn. 152) died at a great age in 1401, seised of a third of the manors and advowsons of Stoke and Alderton, and lands in Shutlanger, when her granddaughter Margaret, the wife of William Harrowden (d. 1423), was found to be her heir. (fn. 153) In 1409 William and Margaret felt it prudent to obtain an exemplification of the Quo Warranto proceedings of 1329 at which Adam de Courteenhall and Margery his wife had established their rights in the manor of Stoke Bruerne. (fn. 154) Margaret died in 1441 seised of a third of the manors of Stoke Bruerne, Shutlanger and Alderton, together with the two advowsons every third turn, and 20 a. of land in Shutlanger not held in chief. Her heir was her son William Harrowden, aged 30. (fn. 155)
The younger William Harrowden died in 1447, seised of what was described as a moiety (more properly a third) of the manors and advowsons of Stoke Bruerne and Alderton, (fn. 156) which passed (with the family's main estate at Plumpton) first to his son Richard, who presented to the living at Stoke Bruerne in 1457 (fn. 157) and died in 1479. (fn. 158) When his widow Margaret died seven years later it was found that although she and Richard had enfeoffed their share of the manors of Stoke and Alderton to their own use and that of his heirs, the reversion of the premises, after Richard's death, descended to his sister Margery (the other son of that generation, Thomas, having died in 1485 leaving no surviving issue), and not to Margaret's heir George Catesby. (fn. 159) Margery married twice, first to Henry Skenard (or Skinnerton) of Alderton, second to William Garnon (or Gernon), who died in 1479. (fn. 160) As Margery Garnon, she presented to Stoke Bruerne in 1490. (fn. 161)
At her death in 1501, Margery's share of the two manors and advowsons passed (with Plumpton) to her daughter by her first husband, Joan, who married Sir Richard Knightley of Fawsley (d. 1534). (fn. 162) In 1520 Joan and Richard settled the Stoke and Alderton estate on their second surviving son Edmund Knightley on his marriage to Ursula, sister of John earl of Oxford and widow of George Windsor, (fn. 163) although four years later Richard presented to the living at Stoke. (fn. 164) In 1538 Sir Edmund Knightley conveyed his share of the manor and advowson of Alderton to Henry VIII (fn. 165) and in 1542 gave the king his share of Stoke in exchange for the manors of Badby and Newnham. (fn. 166)
The descendants of Joan de Combemartin.
Joan, the third daughter and coheiress of William de Combemartin, likewise had three husbands. The first, Andrew de St. Liz, whom she married before 1329 and who was still alive two years later, died without issue. (fn. 167) Her second husband was John de Wolverton, who died in 1349, (fn. 168) and her third was John de Chastillon of Thornton (Bucks.), (fn. 169) who presented to the living at Stoke in 1377. (fn. 170)
By her second husband Joan had a son, Ralph de Wolverton, who was aged two at his father's death and himself died two years later in 1351, and two daughters, Margaret and Elizabeth, who on Ralph's death became their father's coheirs. Margaret married John Hunt of Fenny Stratford (Bucks.), by whom she had a single daughter and heiress, Joan, who married John Longeville of Little Billing; he died in 1439, leaving a son George as his heir. (fn. 171) Elizabeth married William de Cogenhoe, who died in 1389, (fn. 172) leaving a daughter Agnes, who married John Cheyne, by whom she had a son Alexander, who died without issue in 1444. (fn. 173) By her third husband, John de Chastillon, Joan had a son, also named John, who in 1392 was found to hold a third of the manors and advowsons of Stoke Bruerne and Alderton. (fn. 174)
The younger John de Chastillon, who was alive in 1414, died without issue, (fn. 175) so that his mother's share of Stoke Bruerne and Alderton reverted to the issue of her marriage to John de Wolverton. In 1428 John Longeville and Joan his wife brought an action for recovery against Richard Knightley and John Catesby concerning their third part of the manors of Stoke and Alderton, with the advowsons, (fn. 176) apparently to reverse a conveyance made by John de Chastillon and his wife Margaret to Knightley and Catesby in 1417. (fn. 177) After the death of John Longeville, the estates passed to his son George, who died in 1458, to be succeeded by his grandson Richard. He in turn died a few months later, when the estates descended to his son, another John Longeville, who was then less than a year old. (fn. 178) In 1462 John Dudley presented to the living of Stoke Bruerne on behalf of John Longeville, a minor, and in 1485 Longeville himself presented. (fn. 179)
Sir John Longeville died at a great age in 1541, leaving one legitimate daughter and several illegitimate sons, of whom the eldest predeceased his father. (fn. 180) The Longeville (or Longfield) portion of Stoke Bruerne, including lands there and in Paulerspury and Shutlanger, was conveyed to Henry VIII in 1541 by Arthur Longfield of Wolverton (d. 1557), Sir John's second illegitimate son, who in exchange, and for a payment of £169 13s. 4d., received the manors of Bradwell and Wolverton (Bucks.), and property in Stony Stratford (Bucks.), Bletchingdon (Oxon.), Great Billing and Wicken. (fn. 181)
The manor from 1541.
The Act of 1541 establishing the honor of Grafton annexed thereto all the king's lands in Stoke Bruerne and Alderton, (fn. 182) which would then have included the Woodville and Longfield portions of the two manors (and advowsons), of which the former had been in Crown hands for most of Henry VIII's reign (fn. 183) and the latter acquired the previous June. (fn. 184) The purchase of the Knightley portion was completed in April 1542 (fn. 185) and about a year later Henry redeemed his promise to Arthur Longfield to make a further grant to him in exchange for his share of the estate. (fn. 186)
After these transactions the manor of Stoke Bruerne descended with the rest of the honor of Grafton until 1987, (fn. 187) when it was among the manorial titles from the honor offered for sale. (fn. 188) The manor of Alderton was not included in this sale and at the time of writing remained the property of the 11th duke of Grafton. (fn. 189) The advowson of Stoke was alienated by the Crown in the late 16th century. (fn. 190)
The only addition to the Grafton estate in Stoke Bruerne using the Prizage Fund came in 1841, when the 4th duke and his trustees paid Richard Edward Sheppard of Stoke Bruerne £11,950 for for about 100 a., divided between Stoke and Shutlanger, together with a farmhouse, a number of cottages and the Navigation inn at Stoke. (fn. 191) The Grafton and Pomfret estates also exchanged a number of small parcels and some cottages in both townships at inclosure in 1844. (fn. 192)
The manor of Moor End.
The manor of Moor End in Potterspury, which was annexed to the honor of Grafton in 1542, included premises in Shutlanger, let as a single copyhold tenement in 1650. (fn. 193) A new tenant was admitted in 1724 in succession to her late husband, (fn. 194) and she herself was allowed in 1731 to nominate her son to succeed her, (fn. 195) in both cases according to the custom of the manor, but once the 2nd duke had succeeded in blocking the creation of new copyholds in Potterspury and Moor End (the only manors where customary tenure survived), (fn. 196) the premises were let in the same way as other farms in the parish. (fn. 197)
Stoke Park remained in the hands of the Crown until 1629, when it was granted in fee farm to Sir Francis Crane of Woodrising (Norf.), (fn. 198) a courtier to whom Charles I had mortgaged much of the honor of Grafton, including the manor of Stoke Bruerne, the previous year. (fn. 199) The estate then included 405 a. of land, meadow and wood enclosed within the park fence, and 1 a. of meadow outside. (fn. 200) The grant included all the deer in the park, but was subject to a modus of 44s. 10d. payable to the rector of Stoke for tithes, a fee of £3 10s. to the park keeper, and 40s. keep for the deer, as well as a fee farm rent of £5 a year. (fn. 201) In 1632 Crane settled Stoke Park on trustees to his own use for his life, then to his wife Mary for her life, and thereafter to his right heirs. (fn. 202) The permanent alienation of the honor was strongly opposed by Crane's rivals at court and, although he retained Stoke Park (and also Hartwell Park, which he acquired in 1633), (fn. 203) the mortgage of 1628 was redeemed in 1635. (fn. 204)
Crane died at Garvestone (Norf.) in 1636. (fn. 205) Subject to his widow's life interest in Stoke Park, (fn. 206) he was succeeded in his estates in Norfolk and Northamptonshire by his brother Richard, who in March 1643 was created a baronet. Although twice married, Sir Richard Crane died without issue only two years later, leaving as coheirs his sisters Joan and Edith. (fn. 207) His Norfolk estates and Hartwell Park, subject to his wife's jointure and an annuity of £400 payable to his nephew Francis Arundel under a settlement of 1639, passed to Joan's only child Frances and her husband William Crane of Loughton (Bucks.). Stoke Park, and also the site and demesnes of St. Andrew's priory, Northampton, went to Edith's eldest son Francis Arundel, on whom William Crane and his wife, in return for Francis relinquishing the annuity, settled Hartwell Park in 1645. (fn. 208) From this date until its sale to the sitting tenant in 1912, Hartwell Park descended by the same title as Stoke Park. (fn. 209)
Francis Arundel, who in 1650 bought the fee farm rent of £5 reserved on Stoke Park when it was granted to Sir Francis Crane, together with similar rents due from St. Andrew's priory and Hartwell Park, (fn. 210) and also a house in Stoke Bruerne and an acre of meadow on the edge of the park, (fn. 211) died in 1654, when his estates passed in tail male to his only surviving son, also named Francis. (fn. 212) In 1677-8 the younger Francis Arundel successfully petitioned the Crown to be released from a condition in the grant of 1629 requiring him to maintain 300 deer in Stoke Park, since the deer had died during the Civil War and the park had been converted to other uses. (fn. 213) Although he lived until 1736, Arundel conveyed Stoke Park during his lifetime to his eldest son, another Francis, and made his home in later life at Courteenhall. (fn. 214) The son, who was M.P. for Northampton between 1704 and 1710, died in 1712, and his widow Isabella, the daughter of Sir William Wentworth and sister of Thomas 1st earl of Strafford (of the 2nd creation), (fn. 215) took as her second husband Richard Whitlock, the occupant when Bridges and his illustrator visited Stoke Park in 1721-2. (fn. 216)
Francis Arundel was succeeded by his only son Thomas, who was living at Stoke Park at the time of his marriage to his cousin Harriet, the daughter of Peter Wentworth of Henbury (Dorset), a brother of Thomas's mother Isabella. (fn. 217) Thomas died at Stoke in 1733 (fn. 218) without issue, when the St. Andrew's priory estate passed to his cousin and heir male Francis Arundel of the Inner Temple, and Stoke Park and Hartwell Park came to his only sister Elizabeth (Tordoff). She died without issue in 1779, having outlived both her husbands, and devised the Stoke and Hartwell estates to her cousin Lady Henrietta Harriet Vernon, one of the three sisters and coheirs of William 2nd earl of Strafford, the only son and heir of Earl Thomas, Harriet Arundel's uncle. (fn. 219)
Lady Henrietta, the wife of Henry Vernon of Hilton (Staffs.), died in 1786, having devised Stoke and Hartwell to her youngest son Levison Vernon, (fn. 220) who himself died unmarried in 1831. Both Vernon and his predecessors back to Harriet Arundel's time made gamekeepers' deputations for what they described as their manors of Stoke Park and Hartwell Park, (fn. 221) but there is no other evidence that either estate was regarded as a manor. Levison Vernon was succeeded by his nephew Frederick William Thomas Vernon of Wentworth Castle (Yorks.), the eldest son by his second marriage of his father's eldest brother Henry Vernon. In 1804 Frederick adopted the name and arms of Wentworth in pursuance of the will of Augusta Hatfield Kaye, the wife of John Hatfield Kaye and the sister and heiress of Frederick Thomas Wentworth, 3rd and last earl of Strafford, the grandson of Peter Wentworth, Earl Thomas's brother. (fn. 222)
F. W. T. Vernon Wentworth died in 1885. Under the terms of Levison Vernon's will, (fn. 223) the Stoke and Hartwell estates passed for life to William Frederick Vernon of Harefield Park (Mdx.), the second son of Henry Charles Edward Vernon of Hilton, the only son by his first marriage of Henry Vernon of Hilton. (fn. 224) W. F. Vernon died in 1889; shortly before, in April 1886, the mansion at Stoke was largely destroyed by fire. At the time Stoke Park was let for the hunting season each year to Lord Cloncurry: initially Vernon announced that he did not intend to rebuild the house but would offer the estate for sale to Cloncurry. (fn. 225) In the event, Stoke was not sold but passed in 1889 (with Harefield) to W.F. Vernon's brother George Augustus Vernon. (fn. 226) The following year G.A. Vernon assigned his life interest (under Levison Vernon's will) to his eldest surviving son Bertie Wentworth Vernon, (fn. 227) who succeeded to the Harefield estate on his father's death in 1896. (fn. 228)
B. W. Vernon and his wife Isabella, whose only child died young, made Stoke Park their principal home until both died in 1916, fulfilling the role of a resident squire and his lady in a village which had previously generally lacked such figures. (fn. 229) During their later years, however, the estate became increasingly encumbered with mortgages, (fn. 230) which may explain why the outlying land at Hartwell was sold in 1912. There was also a falling off in their generosity to the parish. (fn. 231) What remained of the estate passed in 1916 to Henry Albermarle Vernon, the eldest son of B. W. Vernon's younger brother Henry Charles Erskine Vernon, who also took up residence at Stoke Park. (fn. 232) In 1918 H. A. Vernon added 37 a. of land and three cottages to the estate when he bought part of the glebe of the parish. (fn. 233)
Vernon, having cleared the mortgages accumulated by his uncle, (fn. 234) sold the mansion and 440 a. in 1928 for £12,000 to Edward Brabazon Meade, the fourth son of the 4th earl of Clanwilliam. (fn. 235) The contents were sold separately the same year. (fn. 236) Meade appears to have tried to revive the estate: he borrowed £680 from the Lands Improvement Company in 1934-6 (fn. 237) and took out a mortgage for £5,000 in 1935. (fn. 238) He also played some part in local life, for example as a school manager. (fn. 239) In 1937, however, he left the district and let the estate to Mrs. Mabel Lister-Lea. (fn. 240)
During the Second World War the mansion and grounds were requisitioned by the Army, (fn. 241) while Meade himself retreated to the Bahamas. (fn. 242) In 1946 he arranged to sell the estate to Hedley Joseph Clarke of Bletchley (Bucks.) for £14,250. Clarke, however, was acting merely as an intermediary, having arranged a sub-sale for £20,000 to a London timber dealer named Leopold Behrman, whose main interest was in the 82 a. of woodland in the park. After some delay, caused partly by Behrman's irritation when he discovered the size of Clarke's profit and partly by the loss of some of the Vernon family's deeds, (fn. 243) the woodland was purchased in September 1946 by Park Royal Woodworkers Ltd., a subsidiary of Leopold Behrman Ltd., for £12,000, while the remaining 357 a. of farmland, together with the mansion and other buildings, went to Leopold's son Boris Behrman for £8,000. (fn. 244)
The following year Behrman tried unsuccessfully to auction the mansion (which was empty and in poor condition after being derequisitioned), the grounds (also 'somewhat out of order'), about 35 a. of parkland immediately in front of the house, and six cottages in the village (all subject to clearance orders). (fn. 245) In 1949 he refused to carry out repairs to the 17th-century pavilions but offered to sell them to the National Trust or the county council. (fn. 246) Five years later Park Royal Woodworkers and Boris Behrman sold the two portions of the estate as purchased in 1946 for £411 and £14,739 respectively, when they were acquired by Stephen Moore, a 'dealer in poultry appliances' of Northampton. (fn. 247) A month later the mansion, grounds and 9 a. of land were bought by Robert Duff Chancellor and Andrew Revai, (fn. 248) which remained in Mr. Chancellor's ownership at the time of writing.
The mansion and grounds at Stoke Park.
In 1558 there was a keeper's lodge of four bays in indifferent repair at Stoke, needing work estimated to cost 10s. to put it in order. (fn. 249) When the estate was surveyed for the grant to Sir Francis Crane in 1629 it was noted that 'There is within the said park a fair house newly erected and almost finished where the former before stood, towards the building whereof the materials of his highness's decayed honorable house at Grafton near adjoining to the same were allowed', together with an allowance in money to make Stoke convenient for the king when he came to hunt. (fn. 250) Crane's new house was thus largely complete before, rather than after, he acquired the estate. He must have begun the work when the keepership of Stoke Park (and numerous other offices within the honor) were held by the duke of Buckingham, (fn. 251) from whom Crane presumably held an under-keepership. According to Bridges, as edited for publication seventy years after he compiled his history, the design for the house was brought from Italy by Crane, who 'in the execution of it . . . received the assistance of Inigo Jones'; (fn. 252) his original notes, apparently based on information supplied by Francis Arundel, simply say that 'the House at Stoke Park was built by Inigo Jones'. (fn. 253) All later attributions to Jones are based on Bridges's published statement or speculation concerning the design, or both. (fn. 254)
The house appears not to have been entirely finished at the time of the grant: in 1632 Crane borrowed 50 cwt. of lead from Sir Robert Heath's house at Collyweston, for which his executors were charged £30 four years later, (fn. 255) and in 1634-5 he was alleged to have pulled down a large part of Grafton House to use the materials at Stoke. Crane claimed that Grafton House was already ruinous and that he had taken nothing of value. (fn. 256)
Crane's house consisted of a central I-shaped block, flanked by curving colonnades on either side leading to two pavilions. The main front faced south, looking out over the park as it sloped gently down to the Tove. The presence of mullioned and transomed windows in the central block suggests that it may have incorporated an older lodge building. It was of three storeys, probably with the main reception rooms on the first floor, and the kitchens and other service rooms may have been in the basement. The eastern pavilion originally contained a chapel and the western pavilion a library, below which is a brick-vaulted room entered from the park which appears to have been a grotto. Both this room and a basement in the eastern pavilion had doorways in the rear wall leading through lobbies into vaulted passages below the colonnades, providing service routes to the basement of the house. The rooms in the pavilions rose to the full height of the building and, since there is no evidence for staircases in either, the only access to the rooms over the porches was along walkways over the roofs of the colonnades. Each walkway ended at a balcony beyond the porch, which commanded views across the park. The pavilions are of cream-coloured ashlar limestone from Blisworth, with dark brown sandstone from Duston used for the giant pilasters, entablature, window architraves and alternate voussoirs above the first-floor windows; the bases and capitals are of limestone. (fn. 257) The colonnades originally had 'red' (or dark brown) columns. (fn. 258)
In the late 18th century Levison Vernon remodelled the house, replacing the pediments on the porches of the pavilions with hips, changing the entablature, and converting the western pavilion into a ballroom with a new Venetian window in the centre of the south front. The eastern pavilion was altered to match. The southern elevation of the main range was refronted, with the entablature raised to eaves level, and the addition of giant pilasters stretching through all three storeys and a pediment over the three central bays. Single-storey lobbies at each end were heightened to increase the width of the house by two bays and the columns of the colonnade were also replaced. (fn. 259) Drawings prepared by John Cheney in 1795 for extensive alterations to the main block appear not to have been carried out. (fn. 260)
In 1886 the central block and the adjoining inner ends of the colonnades were destroyed by fire. Five years later a new house in Jacobean style, with Dutch gables, was built against the north-east corner of the eastern pavilion and the colonnades were rebuilt to a simpler plan. (fn. 261) The architect responsible for the rebuilding cannot apparently be identified; Charles Tew, a Stoke Bruerne stonemason, was in charge of the rebuilding and may have had a hand in the design. When the remains of the estate were sold in 1954 the buildings were in poor condition and there was little interest in late Victorian country houses by unknown architects. (fn. 262) There was therefore no resistance to the demolition of the house of 1891, although a service range to the north was retained. In June 1955 the county planning officer reported that the demolition was nearing completion and the clearance of vegetation around the pavilions proceeding. Four months later an application by Robin Chancellor for the restoration of the eastern pavilion as a private house was approved. The work included the removal of a square bay, added on the south side of the pavilion in 1891, and the reconstruction of the central window from a drawing by Colen Campbell. The colonnades were also retained, as was the western pavilion, which remained a single large room. (fn. 263) Stoke Pavilions, as the property later become known, remained the home of Mr. Chancellor at the time of writing; some of the former stables and other service buildings to the rear were occupied separately as private residences.
Among the outbuildings is a dovecote, of coursed rubble limestone, with a datestone inscribed 'A F F 1684' (i.e. Francis and Felicia Arundel), although the structure was extended in the 19th century. (fn. 264)
An early 18th-century view of Stoke Park from the south-east shows an avenue running from the house down towards the Tove near Twyford bridge, which was still largely intact in the 1880s. (fn. 265) There was another avenue running north-west from the back of the house to the edge of the woodland which occupied the northernmost portion of the park, through which a drive continued to join the road from Stoke to Shutlanger. This avenue was in existence by the late 18th century, if not earlier, and survived until the 20th. (fn. 266) In 1786 Levison Vernon secured the diversion of two footpaths away from the drive to the north of the house and from another which approached the house from the northeast. (fn. 267) In the 19th century there was a small area of ornamnental woodland to the southwest of the mansion, intersected with walks, and formal grounds on all sides of the house. (fn. 268) After the fire the grounds were remodelled (again apparently largely by B.W. Vernon himself, assisted by Tew) and a large pond and fountain brought from the Vernons' other house at Harefield, which was re-erected in front of the pavilions. (fn. 269) A statue of Sir George Cooke of Harefield (d. 1740) said to be by Henry Cheere, was also installed in the grounds. (fn. 270) Most of the wooded parkland setting of the house was lost during war-time ploughing and subsequent felling of timber, but elements of Vernon's layout of the gardens, including the pond, have been restored by Mr. Chancellor.
The Parles estate at Shutlanger.
In the early 14th century Robert de Harrowden held an estate in Stoke Bruerne, Shutlanger, Alderton and Shaw, described in 1315 as consisting of eight messuages, two mills, 17 a. of meadow, 6½ a. of pasture, 44 a. of wood, and various rents, including one for 7½ virgates of land. (fn. 271) Robert's heir was his nephew of the same name, the son of his brother Henry, to whom the younger Robert made a lease of the estate in 1342 for Henry's life at a rent of 40s. (fn. 272) The estate was sold in 1364 by John Harrowden of Chislehampton (Oxon.), presumably Robert's successor, to Ralph Parles of Watford (Northants.) and Katherine his wife, when it was said to consist of nine messuages, two mills, 11 virgates of land, 18 a. of meadow, 10 a. of pasture, 100 a. of wood and 40s. rent in Stoke, Shutlanger, Shaw and Alderton. (fn. 273) Ralph appears to have made his home at Shutlanger, since he occurs repeatedly in local deeds, (fn. 274) whereas his father, Walter Parles, who died in 1361, (fn. 275) does not. In 1411 Ralph, his wife Alice, their son Ralph and daughter-in-law Alice were granted a licence to celebrate divine service in the chapel or oratory within his manor at Shutlanger. (fn. 276) Ralph and Alice re-settled their estate in 1415, when it was described in virtually the same terms as in 1364. (fn. 277) He died in 1420, when his heir was his grandson, also named Ralph, aged 11. As well as the manors of Watford and Byfield, Ralph had four messuages, three tofts, 200 a. of land, 30 a. of meadow, 40 a. of wood, 100 a. of pasture and a water-mill in Shutlanger; another messuage, 23 a. of land, 1 a. of meadow and a water-mill in Stoke; and two messuages, 30 a. of land and 2 a. of meadow in Alderton. None of this estate was held in chief, but of whom and by what service was not known. (fn. 278)
The younger Ralph Parles must have died within a few years of his grandfather, leaving a brother William as his heir, who himself died in 1430, while still under age. Not until 1440 was the surviving son of that generation, John Parles, born in 1419, able to recover the estate from a lengthy wardship. (fn. 279) John himself died in 1452, seised of the same estate as his grandfather, leaving a widow Margaret and a daughter and heir Joan, aged five, to whom his estate was entailed after her mother's death. (fn. 280) Margaret remarried almost at once, taking as her second husband Robert Catesby, (fn. 281) who died within a few years. Margaret herself died in 1459, leaving a son William Catesby, aged seven, as her heir, although it was noted that the manor of Watford (and presumably the other estates which had belonged to her first husband) should properly descend to her daughter Joan Parles, (fn. 282) who came of age two years later. (fn. 283)
Joan's wardship and marriage had been granted in 1454 to William Cumberford and John Lynton, (fn. 284) by whom she was married to John Cumberford, who witnessed a deed relating to Shutlanger in 1477. (fn. 285) In 1482 John and Joan conveyed the manor of Byfield, with extensive premises there and in Watford, Murcott, Shutlanger, Stoke Bruerne, Shaw, Alderton and Wappenham, together with half an acre of land in Yelvertoft and the advowson of the church there, to feoffees, who were to hold the estate to the use of John and Joan for their lives, with remainder to the heirs of their bodies, or in default to the right heirs of Joan. (fn. 286) In 1504, after his wife had died, John Cumberford, together with his son Thomas and daughterin-law Dorothy, sold the former Parles estate in Stoke Bruerne, Shutlanger, Alderton and Wappenham to Richard Empson of Easton Neston, when the premises were described as consisting of eight messuages, six tofts, one mill, 200 a. of land, 24 a. of meadow, 100 a. of pasture, 40 a. of wood and 14s. rent. (fn. 287)
Unless another building of similar status has disappeared from Shutlanger leaving no trace on the ground or in documents, the 14th-century house known in modern times as the Monastery must be the capital messuage belonging to the Parles estate, although whether they built the house, inherited it through marriage to an unidentified local heiress, or acquired it as part of their purchase from the Harrowdens is unclear. (fn. 288) It is presumably possible that the chapel licensed in 1411 occupied the upper floor of the two-storey entrance porch to the Monastery that appears to be a later addition to the main structure.
The Empson and Fermor-Hesketh estate.
Empson's purchase of the former Parles property was one of a number he made in Shutlanger as part of the process by which he built up a large estate centred on his mansion at Easton Neston. (fn. 289) The first may have been his acquisition in 1476-80 from Henry Bacon of Easebourne (Sussex), the son and heir of John Bacon of Easton Neston, of premises there and in Hulcote, Stoke and Shutlanger, (fn. 290) which had previously belonged to Richard Bacon and his son Laurence (fl. 1370-1406), (fn. 291) of whom the latter was perhaps the father of John Bacon, who was alive in 1440. (fn. 292) Empson made further purchases in Stoke Bruerne and Shutlanger in 1484 from Thomas Bosenhoe, son and heir of Maud Bosenhoe; (fn. 293) in 1488-9 from John Claypole and his wife Margery, the daughter and heiress of John Clapham late of Hanslope; (fn. 294) and in 1492 from John Shefford. (fn. 295) In 1499 Empson bought 26 a. of land, 4 a. of meadow and 6 a. of pasture in Stoke Bruerne and Shutlanger from Johnson and heir of William Jones, (fn. 296) whose family had owned the property since at least the 1430s, (fn. 297) and other premises in Stoke, Shutlanger and Litchborough from Edmund Lord Grey de Wilton and Florence his wife. (fn. 298) Also in 1499 John Grey, Lord Grey de Wilton, sold to Richard Empson all his lands and tenements in Shutlanger, Stoke Bruerne and Litchborough for £33 6s. 8d., a transaction confirmed by John's son Edmund following his father's death the same year. (fn. 299)
After Empson's attainder and execution in 1510 his estates were initially granted to William Compton in 1512, when the Shutlanger portion was described as a manor, (fn. 300) as it was in the 1530s and 1540s, when the yearly rental was £13 18s. 4d., together with rents of assize of 7s. 5d. The manor was said then to be 'late Comberford' and included 20 acres of coppice called Parles Park. (fn. 301) The estate passed with Easton Neston to Richard Fermor, from whom it was seized by the crown in 1540 and restored ten years later, (fn. 302) when the manor of Easton Neston was found to include lands in Shutlanger held at will worth £7 11s. 6d. a year and others held on lease worth £8 17s. Part of the estate in Shutlanger was lost to the enlargement of Stoke Park in the 1540s, including land held by Thomas Spurrier worth 30s. a year as part of his tenancy of what was described as the capital messuage of Shutlanger (presumably the house later known as the Monastery), which he held in right of his wife, formerly Anne Wittes, to whom Thomas Empson had granted a lease of the property for her life at £4 a year. (fn. 303)
The grant of 1550 does not describe the Shutlanger portion of the estate as a manor, (fn. 304) although in 1554 John Fermor held a court there, separate from that for his manor of Easton Neston and Hulcote, at which Thomas Spurrier failed to do suit for his 'capital messuage or capital farm', (fn. 305) and in 1557 John conveyed the 'manor of Shutlanger', with tenements there and in Stoke Bruerne, to feoffees. (fn. 306) In 1570, when Sir John Fermor conveyed his estate to the trustees of his son's marriage settlement, Anthony Merry held the capital messuage on a 21-year lease, still at £4 a year, and there were five other holdings in Stoke and Shutlanger (including Stoke mill), all held by lease, paying a total of 72s. 8d. (fn. 307) On this occasion Shutlanger was again described as a manor, (fn. 308) as it was following Fermor's death in 1571, when it was said to be held of the manor of East Greenwich and to be worth £11 6s. a year. (fn. 309)
From 1550 the premises in Shutlanger and Stoke Bruerne, which are not described after 1571 as a separate manor, descended with the rest of the Fermor (later Fermor-Hesketh) estate centred on Easton Neston. (fn. 310) In 1803 the 3rd earl of Pomfret purchased an estate of about 90 a. in Shutlanger, (fn. 311) which had belonged to the Kingston family for some two hundred years, (fn. 312) and in 1805 bought another farm of 85 a. there. (fn. 313) Further acquisitions followed in 1822 (a mixed bundle of property, including a messuage that had once belonged to Sewardsley nunnery and had been sold by the Crown in 1600), (fn. 314) 1826 (7 a. known as Hall Leys Close, also included in the sale of 1600), (fn. 315) 1827 (14 a. previously owned by the Wood family of Potterspury), (fn. 316) and 1828 (10 a., part of which had also been included in the sale of 1600). (fn. 317) In the 1830s the 5th earl of Pomfret owned about 530 a. in Shutlanger, (fn. 318) a figure which remained unchanged after inclosure in 1844, although as a result of an exchange included in the award the Monastery passed to the Grafton estate. (fn. 319)
The estate of Simon Simeon.
Simon Simeon, a Lincolnshire landowner, died in December 1387 seised, with his wife Elizabeth (Neville), of the manors of Great Harrowden, Little Harrowden, Finedon and Nortoft (in Guilsborough), and of other premises in those places and also Irthlingborough, Cranford, Stoke Bruerne, Shutlanger, Alderton and Grafton, (fn. 320) some of which had been in his hands since at least 1356. (fn. 321) He left no issue and his estate passed to his widow, (fn. 322) who by January 1389 was the wife of Sir John la Warre, Lord la Warre. (fn. 323) They resettled 10 messuages, 90 a. of land, 6 a. of meadow, 3 a. of pasture and 2 a. of wood in Stoke, Shutlanger and Alderton in 1390 (fn. 324) and again in April 1393. (fn. 325) Elizabeth died in December that year, (fn. 326) her husband in 1398, without issue, when his heir was found to be his brother Thomas, (fn. 327) a canon of Lincoln who himself died in 1427, (fn. 328) having sold the family's Northamptonshire estate some years before. (fn. 329)
The small Cistercian house at Sewardsley in the adjoining parish of Easton Neston had a messuage and land in Stoke, held at will by William Birt for 5s. a year in 1536, and three messuages in Shutlanger, two held by William Sethen and one by William Slee for a total of 30s. 4d., (fn. 330) for which a handful of pre-Dissolution deeds and leases survive. (fn. 331) The site of the priory and its lands were granted to Richard Fermor in 1550 and absorbed into the family's Easton Neston estate. (fn. 332)
St. James's abbey and Grafton hermitage.
In the early 12th century Gerard son of Geoffrey de Mauquency gave St. James's abbey, Northampton, a virgate of land in Stoke near Hyde (the abbey's manor in Roade), 23 a. of assarts from his wood, a meadow, and common of pasture with his men of Stoke. (fn. 333) The gift was confirmed by Gerard's son Geoffrey in a deed witnessed by William, archdeacon of Northampton between 1144 and 1168, and ratified by Robert de Peissi in a deed witnessed by Robert de Chesney, bishop of Lincoln between 1148 and 1166. (fn. 334) Some fifty years later Pope Innocent III ruled that the parson of Stoke owed tithes to the abbey on this estate. (fn. 335) Sybil, daughter of Miles de Beauchamp, gave the abbey another virgate in Stoke, which her daughter Mary, the wife of Henry Matlath, quitclaimed in 1260. (fn. 336) In 1269 Mary, daughter of Richard de Wyleford, gave a virgate of land (less 3 a.) and 2 a. of meadow in Stoke. (fn. 337) The abbey also received other gifts of land in Stoke and Shutlanger in the 12th and 13th centuries. (fn. 338)
In 1295 Simon de Pattishall died seised of a wood at 'Stok' in Salcey forest, held of Hugh Despenser for 4d. yearly, leaving a son and heir named John, aged three. (fn. 339) In 1317 Sir John de Pattishall and his wife Maud gave a recognisance to Robert de Harrowden, clerk, for £200, which Robert agreed to cancel in return for a conveyance of a wood in the parish of Stoke Bruerne which Robert held on lease from John. (fn. 340) Three years before Robert had obtained licence to inclose with a little fosse and low hedge 6 a. of his wood at Shutlanger, which lay within the bounds of Salcey but was two leagues from the forest proper. (fn. 341) Sir John died in 1349, (fn. 342) leaving a son and heir William, who himself died in 1359, seised of Shaw Wood in Stoke, containing 40 a., of which 20 a. were then waste. The wood was not inclosed or several because the soil was common to all the tenants of the townships of Stoke and Shutlanger at all seasons. It was held of Richard Woodville by knight service and the service of rendering a pair of gilt spurs or 6d. yearly, and doing suit to Richard's court at Stoke every three weeks. William left no issue: his heirs were his three surviving sisters and the son of the fourth, although in 1368 it was found that since his death Henry de Harrowden (also dead) and Maud his wife, then the husband of Richard Tebaud of Evenley, had taken the issues from Shaw Wood. (fn. 343) In 1361 Henry de Bosenhoe of Shutlanger made a settlement of Shaw Wood (fn. 344) but appears only to have had a limited interest in the estate, for in 1370 Richard and Maud similarly conveyed the wood to feoffees. (fn. 345) Another set of feoffees sold the wood, then said to contain 100 a., to Richard Woodville of Grafton in 1373. (fn. 346)
Thomas Woodville, Richard's grandson, by his will of 1434, directed his feoffees to convey portions of his estate, including Shaw Wood (and the hermitage at Grafton), to St. James's abbey, either for a term of 50 years or if possible for ever, to support five poor men and a keeper and also a chantry at the abbey to pray for Thomas and his family. (fn. 347) In 1442, after taking a quitclaim from at least one of the heirs of William de Pattishall's sisters, (fn. 348) the feoffees duly conveyed Shaw Wood, the hermitage and other premises to the abbey. (fn. 349) The wood was among the abbey's estates restored in 1483 after they had been wrongfully taken by Anthony, Earl Rivers. (fn. 350)
The abbey's possessions in Stoke were valued at 13s. a year in 1535. (fn. 351) After the Dissolution some of the estate, including Shaw Wood, appears to have been granted to the Fermors, possibly as part of the abbey's manor of Hyde, since they acquired earlier deeds relating to the premises. (fn. 352) On the other hand, by the early 18th century the land known as the Plain, which appers to represent the site of the wood, was common grazing, as Shaw Wood had been in the 14th century. (fn. 353) Other land previously held by St. James, which had been leased by the Crown in 1557 to Henry Trotter and in 1571 to John Mitchell, was granted in 1587 to Sir Francis Walsingham and Francis Mills, (fn. 354) who immediately sold on to William Wickens of Shutlanger. (fn. 355)
In the late 13th century Robert de Twyford, with the consent of his wife Rose, made a gift to the hermitage of all the rents received by him from Robert de Bosenhoe in Shutlanger, totalling 22½d. a year, (fn. 356) which should have passed to St. James's abbey with the rest of the hermitage estate in 1442. (fn. 357)
The hospital of St. John of Jeru-salem.
In 1330 the Hospitallers claimed that their tenants in Shutlanger and Stoke Bruerne were members of their view of frankpledge at Furtho. (fn. 358) The grant of 1558 which sought to reestablish the order in England listed premises in Stoke Bruerne among estates belonging to the preceptory of Dingley. (fn. 359)
The hospital of St. David and the Holy Trinity, Kingsthorpe.
The hospital owned a parcel of meadow in Shutlanger and Stoke Bruerne, which in 1681 the master and chaplains of the hospital of the Savoy leased (with the site of the hospital and other estates formerly belonging to the house) to Francis Morgan of Kingsthorpe for a term of three lives; his son John Morgan secured a renewal for a further 99 years (or three lives) in 1718. (fn. 360)
Farming in The Middle Ages.
In 1086 Swain's four-hide manor had land for 10 plough-teams, although it was not fully cultivated. Swain had one team on the demesne and the 14 villagers and seven smallholders had another five. There were 30 a. of meadow, a mill worth 13s. 4d. and woodland extending to three furlongs in one direction and two and a half in the other. (fn. 361)
When Pagan de Chaworth died in 1279 there were three carcuates of arable in demesne, together with meadow worth 60s. The manor also had a fishery and a mill, although for neither was a value recorded. (fn. 362) In 1283 the manor was expected to render annually to Maud la Savage 10 quarters of corn, 4 quarters of barley and one quarter of oats, as well as a cartload of hay. (fn. 363) At that date the manor had 259½ a. of arable, 30 a. of meadow, wood worth half a mark, and two pastures called Waymor and Lichesmor, worth 10s. and 4s. respectively. The tenants held 7½ virgates of land and there were also 19 villeins who owed rents and services. The fishery and mill mentioned in 1279 were not listed in 1283.
The lord of the manor collected 113s. 4½d. in rents and services from nine villeins in Shutlanger in 1283 and had the services of both freemen and bondsmen on his lands, although nowhere are the services specified. The villagers of Stoke and Shutlanger also had rights of common in Shaw Wood. (fn. 364)
Each of the two villages in the parish had its own three-field system in the Middle Ages. At Stoke, Wood Field lay to the north of the village, Ash Hill Field to the east, and Hunger Hill Field to the south. Portions of all three were inclosed piecemeal in the late 16th century and later (fn. 365) and a perhaps a third of Hunger Hill Field was lost to imparking in the same period, leaving a legacy of ridge and furrow within the park boundary as well as elsewhere in the hamlet. (fn. 366) Shutlanger also had a Wood Field to the north of the village; to the south the common arable was divided (by a lane leading down to the meadows along the Tove) into Rowslade Field to the west and Alderton Field to the east (although the latter was quite separate from the fields belonging to that parish). (fn. 367) Small portions of the open fields were inclosed in the early 17th century (fn. 368) and in the late 17th century a strip of Rowslade Field near its southern edge was used by Sir William Fermor of Easton Neston for part of the avenue he created running east from his new mansion. (fn. 369)
To the south and east of the fields belonging to each township lay a broad strip of riverside meadow, (fn. 370) which may once have flanked the whole length of the Tove in the parish, although if so, some was lost when the park was extended down to the river.
In the north of the parish, between the two Wood Fields, lay an area of about 120 a. described in the early 18th century as Shutlanger, Blisworth and Stoke Plain, (fn. 371) suggesting that it was shared between the three townships. It was then grassland and there is no evidence of ridge and furrow to indicate that it was once common arable. The Plain may in fact represent the area of medieval woodland known as Shaw Wood, which in 1368 was said not to be inclosed because the soil was common to all the tenants of the townships of Stoke and Shutlanger at all seasons (fn. 372) and which extended to about 100 a. (fn. 373) The best evidence for this is that in the early 18th century the name Shaw Wood (or Shaw) had completely disappeared from the parish and there was no other piece of land large enough to correspond with medieval descriptions of the wood. (fn. 374) Shaw Wood certainly cannot be identified with the woodland to the north of the Plain, on both sides of the Blisworth boundary, known as Plain Woods, which survived to be mapped in the early 18th century. The coppices here were part of the Crown estate and leased as such from 1550 onwards, (fn. 375) whereas Shaw Wood ended up in the hands of St. James's abbey and after the Dissolution seems to have passed to the Fermors of Easton Neston. (fn. 376) It appears that in the early Middle Ages there was perhaps nearly 300 a. of woodland in the north of the parish, forming a wedge between the two sets of open fields; that the southern portion was later cleared to become common grazing; and that the remainder was retained as coppice-withstandards. The map of 1727 marks small closes on the edge of Plain Woods adjoining Stoke Bruerne's Wood Field, suggesting piecemeal clearance, (fn. 377) and there was further encroachment and clearance between then and 1844, when only 112 a. was still wooded. (fn. 378) Less than half that area remained by the time the Grafton estate was broken up in 1919-20. (fn. 379)
Farming on the Crown Estate,1542-1705.
After the annexation of the Crown lands in Stoke to the honor of Grafton in 1542, including both the manor and premises previously held by Sewardsley priory and St. James's abbey, the estate was managed, as elsewhere, through 21-year leases, of which the first were granted between 1550 and 1557. (fn. 380) Most were replacing tenancies at will; there are only occasional references to leases granted by the Crown's predecessors as lords of the manor, (fn. 381) and although St. James leased at least some of their land in Stoke in the early 16th century, (fn. 382) the Sewardsley estate was also held at will. (fn. 383) There is no sign of customary tenure on the main manor by this period, although one copyhold of the manor of Moor End (in Potterspury) survived at Shutlanger until the early 18th century. (fn. 384) The tenancies ranged in size from smallholdings of less than 10 a. up to farms with about 50 a. of open-field arable, together with a house, home close and a few acres of meadow.
The woodland in the north of the parish, reckoned to extend to 177 a. in the 16th century, was leased as coppice-with-standards to a single tenant from among the lesser local gentry at £11 17s. a year. (fn. 385) The first, Anthony Merry, was accused of damaging young timber, leaving springwood inadequately fenced, and felling wood beyond the terms of his lease within a few years of the initial grant of 1550, charges which he denied. (fn. 386) His successor, John Wake, who was granted 21-year leases in 1572 and 1589, faced similar problems in respect of one of the parcels of coppice in the early 1590s. (fn. 387)
Stoke Park was not let but managed by an under-keeper, who had a lodge and 10 loads of wood for fuel each year. The titular keepership, like that of the other parks within the honor, was held with the office of high steward of the honor by a succession of great magnates, beginning with John, Lord Williams of Thame. (fn. 388) Coppice wood from the park was sold from time to time: in 1552-3 a parcel of 45 a. was cropped, of which 10 a. were waste and a further 6½ a. were spent on hedging, tithe and a gratuity to the justice of the forest, leaving 28½ a. to be sold in small parcels to a long list of purchasers in surrounding parishes for a total of £103 12s. 4d. (fn. 389) In 1558 there was oak worth £45 within the park, 200 saplings valued at £13 6s. 4d., and coppice worth £238. It then contained 260 deer, compared with 180 five years before. (fn. 390)
As elsewhere in the honor, the tenants were induced to surrender their leases well before the expiry of the nominal term and pay fines for renewals. The original grants of 1550-7 were renewed between 1566 and 1573; (fn. 391) as soon as that process was complete, the leases of the late 1560s were called in over a lengthy period between 1572 and 1585. (fn. 392) From 1585, when the first of the 21-year leases of the 1570s was surrendered, the Crown began to grant leases for three lives in Stoke; (fn. 393) by 1595, at the end of that round of renewals, most of the tenancies had been converted, although some, including the woodland, (fn. 394) remained on 21-year terms. (fn. 395) Between 1602 and 1607 several leases were renewed for 40 years at rents increased by either 6s. 8d. ('a lamb') or 16s. ('a sheep'). (fn. 396) Otherwise rents remained unchanged.
The first evidence for leasing in reversion in Stoke comes in 1590, for 21 years from the expiry of a lease for three lives of 1585. (fn. 397) Another lease, to the widow of a courtier, was prepared in 1593-4, although the premises were later granted for three lives to a local family. (fn. 398) At least one, for 31 years from 1610, was executed in 1595 (fn. 399) and a second, for 31 years from the expiry of a three-lives lease of 1594, in 1596. (fn. 400) In 1610 part (but not all) of the Stoke estate was included in a large lease in reversion for 40 years from the expiry of various terms to John Eldred and William Whitmore, who by the same grant secured a lease for 60 years in possession of the woodland (then just out of the lease of 1589), still at £11 17s. a year. (fn. 401) In 1626 several Stoke tenants whose holdings were not encumbered in this way surrendered the unexpired years in leases issued during the period in which the honor was administered by the Prince of Wales's commissioners in return for new grants. (fn. 402) Finally, most of the Stoke tenancies were included in the two large leases for 31 years in reversion to Thomas England and Richard Fitzhugh alias Caporne in 1638 and to John Chewe and Fitzhugh the following year. (fn. 403) Over 400 a. was lost permanently by the grant of Stoke Park to Sir Francis Crane in 1629. (fn. 404)
The granting of three-lives leases in the 1580s and 1590s, followed by leases in reversion during the reigns of James I and Charles I, meant that little of the remaining estate was in possession when it was surveyed for sale in 1650. Apart from some accommodation land and smallholdings attached to cottages (and the single copyhold tenement at Shutlanger), (fn. 405) the land was divided into 18 farms, 11 in Stoke, five in Shutlanger, and two with land in both Three were let to a single tenant and another two to another. The arable attached to each farm ranged from 6 a. to 75 a. but most holdings were fairly close to the mean and median of 36 or 37 a., presumably a relic of regular division into virgates in the Middle Ages. The farms had between 2 a. and 8 a. of meadow, together with a few parcels of inclosed pasture. Besides the main block of woodland in the north of the parish, one of the larger farms had 100 timber trees worth £10 in 1650 and three others had smaller quantities. The size and composition of individual holdings appear to have changed little since the first leases were granted in the 1550s, although at any particular date (as in 1650) one tenant might have more than one farm. Most of the farmhouses had three rooms downstairs (hall, parlour and kitchen), with chambers over; in two cases only a hall and parlour are mentioned. Two of the bigger houses also had a buttery and what was probably the largest house in Stoke, let to Robert Wickens (who had two other farms and a total of 100 a. of arable), had a hall, two parlours, a kitchen and buttery downstairs, six chambers on the first floor, and two lofts on the second.
In 1650 the whole estate in the parish produced £44 5s. in rents from leasehold tenements, of which just over a quarter came from the woodland; in addition two freeholders in Stoke paid 8d. in chief rent and four in Shutlanger a total of 12s. 10½d. (of which 10s. 4d. came from Matthew Kingston and another 10d. from Thomas Kingston). The courts were reckoned to be worth a further 40s. a year and 10s. was due from two cottages erected on the waste. (fn. 406) These rents are virtually the same as those collected during the period in which the honor was mortgaged to Sir Francis Crane, when the annual total was £47 6s. 9d., excluding the rents of assize of 13s. 6½d., (fn. 407) and similar to the valuation prepared when the mortgage was granted in 1628. (fn. 408) In 1608 the manor was said to be worth £45 a year beyond charges. (fn. 409)
Farming on the estate was clearly disrupted by the creation and subsequent enlargement of the park at Stoke during Henry VIII's reign. (fn. 410) Tenants resented the loss of common grazing and in about 1590 the Stoke farmers agreed with the steward and the rector that they might each inclose an acre for every 20 a. they held in the common fields. Seeing the success of this arrangement, in 1610 their neighbours in Shutlanger asked Sir George Fermor of Easton Neston, the main landowner there after the Crown, to oversee a similar inclosure of some of their open fields. This went ahead but provoked furious opposition from the rector, Richard Lightfoot, who was concerned at the loss of tithe income from a hamlet with a higher proportion of its land under the plough. With various associates, he was accused in 1621-2 of damaging new hedges and ditches, as well as the pale around Stoke Park, and of blocking up a highway. (fn. 411) Some years earlier, in 1608-10, Lightfoot was involved in a similar dispute with several of his Stoke parishioners, (fn. 412) some of whom in turn complained in 1612-14 about the allegedly oppressive conduct of John Cooke, the Crown's newly appointed under-steward of Stoke. Cooke for his part accused some of the tenants of damage to wood in the park, illegal inclosure, encroachment on the waste and similar misdeeds. (fn. 413)
After the Restoration Queen Catherine's trustees managed the Crown estate in Stoke Bruerne through the same system of leases in reversion as elsewhere in the honor, fining tenants for renewals when they still had a number of years to come in their previous lease, so as to maintain a total of 21 years in all. (fn. 414) There were 14 separate tenements at Stoke in this period and 10 in Shutlanger, including cottages on the waste, as well as the freeholders who owed chief rents. (fn. 415) Leasing arrangements continued unchanged, at the old rents, right up to the queen's death in 1705. Although some of the leases were still held by local farmers, others appear to have passed to descendants who had moved away, including Richard Sheppard, a merchant of Leytonstone (Essex) (previously Bethnal Green, Mdx.), Oliver Cox of Peckham (Surrey), bricklayer, and John Britten, citizen and clothworker of London, or, closer to home, Robert Clarke of Spratton, John Batison of Quinton, or William Samwell of Milton. (fn. 416) The woodland was then leased to William Plowman of Blisworth at the same rent as Anthony Merry had agreed to pay in 1557. (fn. 417)
Farming on the Grafton Estate,1706-1920.
Initially, after the estate passed to him in 1706, the 2nd duke of Grafton continued to grant leases in Stoke in reversion to keep up a term of 21 years. The rents remained unchanged. (fn. 418) In October 1725, however, his commissioners instructed their surveyors to turn their attention to Stoke once they had finished Grafton, Ashton and Blisworth, and began enquiries as to the whereabouts of their main lessee, Richard Sheppard. (fn. 419) By March 1726 Collier and Baker had started their survey (fn. 420) and the commissioners were investigating the tenants' holdings and their leases. (fn. 421) One new three-year lease was given to an existing tenant while the future of the estate was considered. (fn. 422) Some common-field arable was farmed in hand in 1728-9, by which the duke was adjudged the loser, since the land had already been ploughed for the last two or three years, and it was decided to leave it fallow, so that he only lost the rent. (fn. 423) By the autumn of 1729 the tenants were being asked to discuss new leases and by the end of 1730 negotiations seem to have been complete. (fn. 424) Two 12-year leases were granted in 1729 and several others in 1730 and 1733. (fn. 425)
Collier and Baker's survey revealed that, excluding the Stoke Park estate (405 a.) and the extensive common grazing at the Plain and elsewhere (398 a., including roadside waste and water), the duke owned slightly over half the parish, including 835 a. of inclosed land (compared with 630 a. belonging to others) and 720 a. of common field (compared with 582 a. owed by others). (fn. 426)
The amalgamation of the small farms inherited from the Crown proceeded slowly during the second half of the 18th century. There were 14 tenants in the parish as a whole in the 1740s, paying a total of £561 16s. a year, with rents ranging from £10 to £91 around a mean of £40 and a median of £33. (fn. 427) By the early 1760s, when the Stoke and Shutlanger tenancies had been separated, there were eight holdings on the Stoke rental, which totalled £370 10s. a year. Six were paying between £48 and £76 a year, which suggests the farms did not vary greatly in size; the other two tenants (one of whom was the rector) were paying only £14 and £10 a year, presumably for accommodation land. (fn. 428) One of the six farms was divided between the others in 1774 and another two years later, (fn. 429) leaving four main holdings (and the two others) paying £397 16s. by the end of the decade. (fn. 430) Modest increases when tenancies changed hands lifted the total to £414 10s. by the turn of the century. (fn. 431) All the farms had their rents slightly reduced in 1801-2 following the 3rd duke's sale of land for the canal and the temporary railway over Blisworth Hill, taking the total back to £397 10s., (fn. 432) although the 'prospects of the advantages from the canal' led to an increase of 1s. an acre in the rent for common-field land throughout the parish. (fn. 433) When the estate was surveyed in 1811 following the death of the 3rd duke, the four Stoke farms had between 100 a. and 136 a. of common-field arable each, and between 46 a. and 65 a. of meadow and pasture. The surveyor suggested that the existing rental of £397 a year could be increased to no less than £855, (fn. 434) presumably partly because of the prosperity brought by the arrival of the canal. In the 1820s, after some reorganisation (although not inclosure, as recommended in 1811), three principal tenants were paying £230, £262 and £240 out of a total of £814, with the rest coming from three much smaller holdings. (fn. 435)
At Shutlanger the largest farm was let for £94 a year in the 1760s and another three for £25, £31 18s. and £40 10s. (fn. 436) The arrangement of holdings did not change until after the end of the century, although small increases in rent when tenants died or left lifted the total to £206 10s. a year by 1800. (fn. 437) There were still four farms on the estate at Shutlanger in the 1820s, but as at Stoke the rents had been increased sharply, to £226 for the main farm and £60, £88 and £99 for the others, making a total of £473 for the township, (fn. 438) virtually the figures recommended in 1811. (fn. 439) The largest farm then had 117 a. in the open fields and 52 a. of meadow and pasture; the other three had 34 a., 47 a. and 5 a. of arable and 12 a., 19 a. and 21 a. of meadow and pasture respectively.
The estate continued to grant nine- or twelveyear leases in Stoke and Shutlanger until at least the 1750s, (fn. 440) although by this date two of the four Shutlanger farms and six of the nine holdings in Stoke were let as tenancies at will. At Stoke the leasehold tenements were paying £149 10s. a year, compared with £221 paid by the tenants at will; at Shutlanger the equivalent figures were £134 10s. and £59 18s. (fn. 441) By the 1770s the whole of the estate in the parish had been converted to tenancies at will, (fn. 442) as it remained until the sale of 1919. (fn. 443)
Between 1833 and 1841 the Grafton estate kept one of the Shutlanger farms (probably the largest) in hand, with the agent as manager, (fn. 444) who in 1837 referred to farms in both townships as being unlet. (fn. 445) The passing of the Tithe Act in 1836 forced the issue of inclosure in Stoke, since the assistant commissioner responsible for the district immediately pronounced that commutation would be impossible unless the open fields were done away with. (fn. 446)
Both processes were carried through in the early 1840s, when 1,486 a. of common-field land in the two townships were inclosed. (fn. 447) Although there were only two main owners involved, Grafton and Pomfret (since the Stoke Park estate lay entirely outside the scope of the Act), negotiations with the rector, P.H. Lee, and the Grand Junction Canal Company extended over several years before an award was made in 1844. (fn. 448) In June 1841 24 local men were arrested and charged with riotous and tumultuous assembly at Stoke Plain, accused of damaging and destroying new fencing erected there on the Grafton estate and committing other outrages. Aged between 20 and 65, their ringleader appears to have been John Whitlock, 24, one of only three said to be able to read and write well. The men were bailed to appear before the assize judges a month later, when the duke agreed to drop the charges if the men changed their plea to guilty and were prepared to be bound over. (fn. 449) Thus ended, somewhat anti-climactically, what may have been the last inclosure riot in England. By what appears to be a curious coincidence, the Grafton estate let all the fencing, draining, roadbuilding and other works connected with inclosure on their land to Thomas and William Whitlock of Silverstone. The contract totalled £4,700 and included a maintenance agreement for the first four years after the work was completed in 1844. (fn. 450)
Lee also made difficulties over the commutation of tithe, (fn. 451) where awards for the two townships were finally executed in 1844, although apportionments had been prepared two years before. Stoke was found to have 482 a. of arable, 322 a. of meadow and pasture, 124 a. of wood, and 118 a. of common. Of the 1,322 a. in the township as a whole (including a moiety of Stoke Park), 984 a. belonged to Grafton and 208 a. to the Stoke Park estate; the only other estate of any size was the glebe (69 a.). The canal company had 20 a.; the charity estate and recreation ground together amounted to the same; and there were ten small owners with less than 10 a. each, six of whom had less than a single acre. (fn. 452) At Shutlanger, found to contain 1,259 a., a much higher proportion of land was under the plough (770 a., compared with 129 a. of meadow and pasture and no woodland). Most of the land was owned by either the Pomfret or Grafton estates (532 a. and 491 a. respectively), or formed the other moiety of Stoke Park (194 a.), although there were 18 small freeholders with 15 a. or less, 10 of them with less than an acre. (fn. 453) Of the Grafton estate in the parish, 582 a. in Stoke and 460 a. in Shutlanger were new allotments. (fn. 454)
Immediately after inclosure, the Grafton estate built three large new farmsteads to the east and north of Stoke village (Stoke Gap and Stoke Plain) and south of Shutlanger (Shutlanger Grove) on former open-field land, as well as new buildings for the main farm in the village. (fn. 455) As reorganised, there were two main farms in Stoke of 248 a. (Stoke Plain, let for £360 a year) and 244 a. (in the village, let for £420), and a third (Stoke Gap) of 153 a. (£242), as well as a holding of 140 a. let for £288 to George Savage, who had a brickyard, public house and other interests near the canal, (fn. 456) and some smaller parcels of accommodation land. At Shutlanger, virtually all the farmland was let with the new farm south of the village, whose tenant took 439 a. at £820 a year, or about 37s. an acre, compared with between 29s. and 34s. for the three Stoke farms. (fn. 457)
After the expense of inclosure and considerable investment in new buildings, the estate made few changes during the third quarter of the 19th century, except to add about 50 a. to the farm in Stoke village. (fn. 458) The impact of the agricultural depression on the parish is well illustrated by the problems faced by C.H. Franklin at Shutlanger Grove, who in 1879 was paying 35s. an acre for 447 a. (i.e. £790). As elsewhere on the estate, he was granted a 25 per cent abatement from 1881, and in 1886 took a small amount of additional land, making his rent £634. The following year this was reduced to £579 (25s. 8d. an acre) and in 1889 to £540 (24s. 2d. an acre). The nominal rent remained at this level for the following ten years, although in 1897-8 Franklin was given a 'private allowance' of £40, and in 1899 his rent fell to £447, or 20s. an acre, a total drop of more than 40 per cent from the figure he was paying twenty years earlier. (fn. 459) In 1904 the estate managed to increase the figure to £482. (fn. 460) During negotiations over the reduction to £540 Franklin complained that he had lost between £3,000 and £4,000 laying down most of the farm to grass: he now had only 106 a. of arable, 75 a. of new grass and 295 a. of pasture, of which only 65 a. was fit to graze sheep at all times, 'and not a single acre will feed a beast'. Although the agent was sympathetic and described Franklin as a very good farmer and manager, the duke was not, pointing out that he had had the same abatements as everyone else and was simply jealous of what his neighbours were paying. (fn. 461)
Many years after Franklin left Shutlanger Grove in 1904, his son wrote an account of his father's time there, giving a quite different picture from that conveyed by the estate records. As well as stressing his father's skills as a farmer, and especially as a breeder of Red Devon bullocks, for which he won many prizes, he also portrays the farm as a successful business, providing a good living for both family and employees, with the premises always maintained in good order, the land in good heart, and the crops and animals the best in the district. According to Franklin, it was only after 1904, and more especially after 1918, that the farm fell on evil times, although after 1930 a new tenant restored the Grove to its old vigour. (fn. 462)
Both Stoke and Shutlanger were included in the 1919 sale of the northern portion of the Grafton estate. Stoke Gap was bought privately for £3,750, representing 19 years' purchase on a rent of £195, or about £25 an acre for a holding of 147 acres. Stoke Plain (248 a., let for £259) and Rookery Farm (322 a., let for £348) were not sold either before or at the auction. Shutlanger Grove, by this date reduced to 369 a. let for £394 (about 21s. an acre) was auctioned for £8,500 (21 years' purchase or £23 an acre). The tenant, W.F. Clarke, who had succeeded C.H. Franklin, (fn. 463) was not the purchaser but instead bought Monastery Farm (i.e. the medieval house acquired by the Grafton estate by exchange with the Pomfret trustees at inclosure), then let to him with 88 a., which he converted into a private house. (fn. 464) Most of the smallholdings and cottages in both townships were also sold, either privately or at the auction, as were the Boat inn, brickyard and ropewalk near the canal. (fn. 465) The unsold lots were not put up again at the 1920 sale, when the only lot in the parish was the Plain Woods, by then reduced to 62 a., of which 51 a. of actual woodland were in hand and 11 a. of pasture were let, which failed to reach a reserve for £4,600. (fn. 466) The farm at Stoke Plain was sold privately in 1922. (fn. 467)
Farming on the Easton Neston estate.
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries most of the Fermor estate in Shutlanger appears to have been let in four farms, and the rest as accommodation land. In 1656 Sir William Fermor, the 1st baronet, agreed with the inhabitants of Shutlanger that all the exchanges of land in the open fields of the village between his four farms and other holdings made by him or his predecessors should hold good; (fn. 468) his son made further exchanges in 1678, (fn. 469) 1689 (fn. 470) and 1693. (fn. 471) In 1694 the four farms were let for £67, £65, £43 and £18 10s., all of which rents had been slightly reduced to take account of land lost by exchange or planting, (fn. 472) the latter presumably referring to the creation of the park around the new mansion then being built at Easton Neston, where one of the avenues extended into Shutlanger. (fn. 473) There were two smaller holdings in Shutlanger, let for £1 and 23s. 4d., and also the mill at Stoke, giving a total rental for the township of £100 16s. 8d. (fn. 474) There were no significant changes until at least 1708. (fn. 475) In 1756 the four farms were let for £146. (fn. 476) Twenty years later the largest of the four had 82 a. in the open fields, 10 a. of common meadow, and 31 a. of inclosures: the corresponding figures for the other three were 65 a., 13 a. and 46 a.; 58 a., 5 a. and 11 a.; and 24 a., 3 a. and 4 a. (fn. 477)
By 1836, when the other parishes around Easton Neston in which the Fermors were major owners had all been inclosed, a survey valued the open-field arable at Shutlanger at 15s. an acre, inclosed arable at 20s., and inclosed pasture at 25s. (fn. 478) After inclosure in 1844 the earl of Pomfret had about 530 a. in the township (fn. 479) divided between three main tenants, of whom the largest, Widow Cooke, with 180 a. in Shutlanger, had a further 300 a. in Easton Neston, and was paying £740 rent (about 30s. an acre). Richard Nickson's farm of 223 a., let for £368 (33s. an acre) lay entirely in Shutlanger, as did William Nickson's holding of 88 a. Another 7 a. was let with a farm in Paulerspury and Easton Neston. (fn. 480) The estate also had about 20 cottages in Shutlanger and the Plough public house. (fn. 481) In 1851 the Shutlanger portion of the estate was reckoned to amount to 524 a. out of a total of 5,003 a., with an annual value of £711 out of £7,736, (fn. 482) i.e. between 9 and 10 per cent in both cases.
As on the Grafton estate, there was no significant reorganisation of holdings during the third quarter of the 19th century. In 1872 Thomas Cooke of Sewardsley was paying £760 for his 458 a. divided between Easton Neston and Shutlanger, while the two farms in Shutlanger itself were occupied by William Nickson, who was paying £380 for 225 a., and Samuel Peasland (£310 for 196 a.), about 33s. an acre in each case. Nickson's was described as one of the worst farms on the estate, with some bad arable and some better land which was low lying and liable to flood. The house was said to be 'fair' and the buildings, in part newly erected, 'abundant'. They were presumably among the buildings erected by Sir Thomas Fermor-Hesketh in about 1870, which the consulting surveyor who reported in 1872 regarded as an investment of questionable value. Some of Peasland's arable was also cold and wet and needed draining, and the farmhouse ('or rather cottage') was very small and bad, lying away from the buildings, which were also inferior. In 1876 both men were given new 21-year leases, whereas the surveyor's report recommended annual tenancies under written agreements; previously the estate had not used agreements of any sort. (fn. 483) Peasland agreed to take 191 a. in Shutlanger (61 a. of pasture and 130 a. of arable), together with 166 a. in Caldecote, at £565 (32s. an acre); Nickson took 275 a. (117 a. of pasture, 175 a. of arable), all in Shutlanger, at £467 (34s. an acre). His farmhouse was in the village; Peasland lived at Stoke Bruerne, although his land included what appear to be all four of the 18th-century farms in the village itself. (fn. 484)
Within a few years the depression had affected the Fermor-Hesketh farms like those on the Grafton estate. When Walter John Bull succeeded Nickson in 1891 as an annual tenant the rent was initially set at £322 10s. for 268 a. (now divided between 169 a. of pasture and 96 a. of arable, plus 2 a. for the buildings), which was only 24s. an acre. Even this figure had to be reduced from 1896 to 23s. an acre. (fn. 485)
There was a water-mill at Stoke in 1086, rendering 13s. 4d. a year, (fn. 486) and one at Twyford belonging to the manor of Stoke is mentioned in 1199. (fn. 487) In 1304 Henry le Feure conveyed a messuage, mill and virgate of land in Stoke to his son of the same name. (fn. 488) In 1420 Ralph Parles died seised of a water-mill at Shutlanger, which was ruinous, another at Stoke worth 10s. a year, and a rent of 16s. issuing yearly from a third mill in Stoke called Twyford mill. (fn. 489) His grandson William Parles, who died in 1430, and William's brother John, who died in 1452, were also seised of the two mills and rent from the third. (fn. 490) When the former Parles estate was acquired by Richard Empson in 1504 the purchase included only one mill, (fn. 491) presumably that at Stoke, which later passed with the rest of Empson's holdings in the parish to the Fermors. (fn. 492) Those at Shutlanger and Twyford had clearly disappeared by this date. The latter name refers to the crossing of the Tove by the main Northampton to London road near the southeastern corner of Stoke Park, on the boundary with Alderton parish. (fn. 493) Medieval references to Twyford mill being 'in Stoke' probably mean that it lay on the Stoke side of the river, although since Stoke and Alderton share a common manorial history from the early 12th century, (fn. 494) the mill could presumably have been in the latter parish but parcel of Stoke manor. There is no evidence for a mill site there on Collier and Baker's survey of 1727. (fn. 495) At Shutlanger there is a Mill Lane, Mill Lane Close and Mill Way Furlong near Cappenham Bridge, which carried the lane from Paulerspury to Sewardsley over the Tove: these could refer to a lost mill site in Shutlanger near the bridge, although they might refer to Twygrist mill, a short distance upstream in Paulerspury parish, which was in existence in 1086. (fn. 496) A Mill Furlong in Rowslade Field about half a mile north of Cappenham Bridge (fn. 497) possibly refers to a windmill site, since it is some distance from any source of waterpower.
The mill at Stoke was specified in a conveyance to feoffees of the Fermors' manor of Shutlanger in 1557, (fn. 498) a year after it had been leased for 21 years at 25s. a year to Thomas Jackson, who was still the tenant in 1570. (fn. 499) He died in 1579, instructing his executrix to sell the lease of his water-mill for the benefit of his five children. (fn. 500) In 1683 the Fermors' tenant at Stoke mill was John Harris, (fn. 501) who had been succeeded by 1694 by Mary Harris, paying £3 a year. She was followed in turn by another John Harris, who was there in 1701 and 1708. (fn. 502) He was probably the man who also had Bozenham mill in Hartwell, where he died in 1738, and was succeeded at Bozenham by his son of the same name, who died in 1750. (fn. 503) A miller named John Gilby died at Stoke in 1712 (fn. 504) and in 1777 William Jeffery was the miller there. (fn. 505) Stoke mill was marked on Collier and Baker's survey, on the east side of the lane running north from the village, powered by the stream which here flows south parallel with the lane, which was dammed to create a storage pond immediately north of the mill. (fn. 506) The mill was still in use when the Grand Junction Canal was promoted in the early 1790s, (fn. 507) but may have been abandoned fairly shortly afterwards. It had certainly disappeared by 1827. (fn. 508)
In 1619 (but not apparently 1627) there was a windmill in Stoke Bruerne's Wood Field, to the north of the village, which in early 18th-century glebe terriers was known for a time as Windmill Field. (fn. 509) No mill is shown on maps of 1727 or 1779, (fn. 510) but in 1782 Charles West, late of Paulerspury but then of Stoke Bruerne, miller, borrowed £100 secured on a mortgage of a windmill and the ground on which it stood in Stoke field, previously in the tenure of Thomas Biggs, together with all the gear, sails and tackle needed to work the mill. (fn. 511) The windmill appears on the plan of the proposed Grand Junction Canal of 1792, a short distance to the north-east of the water-mill, to the east of the lane. (fn. 512) In 1800 John Biggs of Marston Moretaine (Beds.) sold the mill to West, who was then back in Paulerspury, and the mill was occupied by Thomas Biggs. (fn. 513) By 1827 the mill had either been moved or completely rebuilt on a new site to the west of the lane. (fn. 514) Twelve years later Thomas Cox of Whitechapel, London, paid Thomas Frost, a Towcester butcher, £40 for the mill, (fn. 515) and in 1846 Hatton Cox, who died in 1849 leaving part of his estate to a son named Thomas, (fn. 516) described himself as a miller in Stoke Bruerne's petition against the repeal of the Corn Laws. (fn. 517) In 1862 Francis Woodward bought the mill for £80, (fn. 518) which he promptly resold to the Grafton estate for £85, plus £9 for the fixtures. The estate appears to have put the premises back into order (fn. 519) but they had been demolished by the early 1880s. (fn. 520)
After inclosure in the early 1840s the previously vacant land on the east bank of the canal immediately north of the bridge in Stoke village was developed with a group of buildings, including a large three-storey steam-powered corn-mill. This probably dates from 1842, when James Ebbern was authorised to make a dock about 50 yards long from above the top lock to serve the mill, (fn. 521) which was being operated by George Savage of the Navigation Inn in 1847. (fn. 522) Thomas Grisbrook was the miller in 1849, (fn. 523) Samuel Peasland in 1854, (fn. 524) and Richard John James & Son in 1874-7. They appear to have been the last occupiers to work the mill, (fn. 525) which in 1913 was purchased by the canal company, who demolished the chimney. (fn. 526)
The completion of the Grand Junction Canal in 1805 changed not only the topography of Stoke village (fn. 527) but also to some extent its economy, although the parish as a whole remained principally dependent on agriculture, and some of the effects were transient. For example, during the construction of Blisworth Tunnel, Joseph Ludlam made bricks at Stoke. He was sent to prison in 1805, the year the tunnel was finished, and the brickyard appears then to have closed. (fn. 528)
A wharf was established to the north of the bridge carrying the main road through the village over the canal, where by the 1840s George Savage had acquired a commanding position: as well as keeping the Navigation inn, he was also a farmer, butcher, miller and coal merchant. There was another beer retailer in the village and a second coal merchant. (fn. 529) In about 1846 (when he was given permission to make a dock leading off the canal) (fn. 530) Savage established a brickyard alongside the canal to the south of the village, (fn. 531) supplied with clay from pits on the Grafton estate. (fn. 532) By 1854 the Navigation had closed (fn. 533) and thereafter Savage appears to have confined himself to farming and the brick trade. In the 1860s he had other yards at Blisworth and Towcester. (fn. 534) In the 1880s the Stoke works had four downdraught kilns grouped around the basin off the canal. (fn. 535) After his death in 1899, (fn. 536) Savage's executors (his two sons), who in 1910 also had a yard at Greens Norton, continued the business. (fn. 537) The Stoke yard (29 a.) was rented from the Grafton estate for £60 a year and was sold privately to the tenants in advance of the 1919 auction, together with the Savages' farm (124 a. let for £174 9s. 6d.), for a total of £4,250. (fn. 538) The works were said to have an 'extensive bed of splendid blue clay', with a wharf and basin on the canal and two trolley lines from there to the kilns. (fn. 539) In the event, the Savages closed the brickyard within a couple of years of the sale. One of the brothers, Herbert Augustus Thomas, died in 1922 but the other, Henry Alfred, continued to farm in the parish for a few years longer. (fn. 540)
After the Second World War, Chowns, the Northampton builders, took over the site of the brickyard and in about 1946 installed two new updraught kilns and some other buildings. Clay was brought by tramway from a pit to the southwest of the works. The venture was evidently not a success and the yard closed around 1949. (fn. 541)
Another business closely linked to the canal was the ropeyard established by John Amos in the early 1850s behind the wharf on the east bank of the canal, on part of the site developed after inclosure. (fn. 542) He was succeeded by Thomas Amos in about 1890, (fn. 543) who continued to make rope and twine there until the late 1930s. (fn. 544) He bought the premises from the Grafton estate for £25 in 1919. (fn. 545)
The licensed trade.
About a decade after the Navigation inn closed, Thoms Grisbrook opened the Boat inn on the west bank of the canal immediately north of the bridge. (fn. 546) This came into the hands of the Woodward family about 1880, (fn. 547) who were still there in the 1960s. (fn. 548) The pub was on the Grafton estate and was bought privately by the tenant for £1,000 (36 years' purchase on a rental of £27 10s.) in advance of the 1919 auction. (fn. 549) Two years later the licensee was ill and considered selling to Phipps, the Northampton brewer, but appears not to have gone ahead. (fn. 550) As the largest licensed house in the village, prominently positioned on the canal bank, the Boat was well-placed to benefit from the growth of pleasure cruising and the increasing number of visitors to the museum after it opened in 1963. The pub's premises and facilities were extended, probably to a greater extent than would otherwise have been the case in a village the size of Stoke Bruerne.
Shutlanger had two pubs throughout the second half of the 19th century, the Horseshoe and Plough, (fn. 551) both of which were leased to Phipps from the 1880s, (fn. 552) and possibly earlier. The Horseshoe was owned by the Bosenhoe Charity, which in 1905 had insufficient funds to modernise the house. Phipps agreed to do the work in return for an allowance on the rent; (fn. 553) in the end the pub was closed in 1917 during the war-time reduction in the number of licences. (fn. 554)
Other trades and crafts.
In addition to the businesses directly related to the canal in Stoke, both villages had the usual range of trades in the 19th century, including shoemaking and lacemaking. (fn. 555) Two men were described as lacemakers in Stoke in 1777 (fn. 556) but were presumably in fact dealers.
The only industrial development in Shutlanger came in the early 1870s, when Sir Thomas Fermor-Hesketh, as part of an attempt to exploit the mineral resources of the Easton Neston estate which his father had inherited on the death of the last earl of Pomfret in 1867, leased the ironstone and other minerals beneath most of the estate, including the portion in Stoke Bruerne parish, to Samuel Lloyd, the Birmingham ironmaster. (fn. 557) Work began under a lease of 1873, (fn. 558) and the following year a local directory referred optimistically to the discovery of 'ironstone of a superior quality' being extensively quarried. (fn. 559) In 1875 Lloyd took a new lease for 70 years, by which time a tramway had been laid from the main line near Towcester station through the northern part of Easton Neston parish and into Stoke, where the line ended in two spurs which terminated near Shutlanger alongside the lane to Sewardsley. (fn. 560) Output from pits at Shutlanger was listed in the official returns only in 1873-4, (fn. 561) and by 1878 the tramway had been considerably shortened to end at quarries and a brickyard near the Northampton road north of Hulcote, with only slight earthworks surviving to indicate the site of the workings. (fn. 562) Some men from the village must have worked at the quarries at Easton Neston, which enjoyed mixed fortunes until just after the First World War, for in 1921 Shutlanger parish council received a deputation of unemployed men, the majority of whom had been thrown out of work through the closure of the ironstone pits. (fn. 563)
From at least 1892 William Sturgess of Roade, where he had extensive quarrying and brickmaking interests, was renting a limestone pit on the Grafton estate near Stoke Gap Lodge, which James Woodward took over in 1902. (fn. 564) The tenancy continued until at least 1912 but the business seems to have come to an end before the sale of 1919. (fn. 565)
Carrying and bus services.
Between the 1840s (if not earlier) until the First World War both Stoke and Shutlanger were served by carriers to Northampton and Towcester on several days a week. (fn. 566) By 1920 only the Northampton service survived, from both villages, on Wednesdays (later Fridays) and Saturdays, which continued until the late 1930s. (fn. 567) In 1940 there was still a carrier from Shutlanger to Northampton on Saturdays; Stoke had a 'regular service' of motorbuses to Northampton and Stony Stratford, but Shutlanger had only an occasional bus two days a week to Northampton. (fn. 568) In the late 1950s, as well as the Northampton to Stony Stratford buses, Stoke had a special service once a week to the cinema in Towcester. (fn. 569)
The 20th-century economy.
The break-up of the Grafton estate affected not only farming in the parish but also trade on the canal, which had benefited from bulk orders from a single large customer, whereas individual farmers increasingly received supplies by motor lorry. Boatmen left the canal for better pay and less arduous conditions in factories at Northampton or, closer to Stoke, the Pianoforte Supplies works at Roade. After the amalgamation which created the Grand Union Canal the steam tug used to tow boats through Blisworth Tunnel ceased work in 1934 and the Woodwards of the Boat Inn gave up their carrying service. An attempt by the canal company to open a limestone quarry between the top lock at Stoke and the tunnel, from which the stone would be carried by canal, failed. After a slight revival during the Second World War, commercial carrying remained reasonably constant until 1953, when without warning the entire canal was placed under threat of closure and trade declined sharply. The severe winter of 1962-3, when no proper ice-breaking arrangements were made, accelerated the process and shortly afterwards British Waterways gave up carrying on the Grand Union, except for specialised through traffic between London and Birmingham. (fn. 570) By the late 1950s the main source of employment in Stoke, for both men and women, were factories in Northampton, Roade or Wolverton. The railway works had the advantage of teaching a trade and being regular; Pianoforte Supplies paid better. (fn. 571)
With the growth of pleasure cruising in the 1950s, Stoke Bruerne was already one of the most popular mooring points on the canal network by the time the museum opened in 1963, which brought car-borne visitors to the village as well as boats. By 1967 the museum was attracting over 20,000 people a year. Stoke thus became the only community in the district to develop into a tourist destination, if only on a modest scale and somewhat to the displeasure of residents. Although the popularity of the canal brought benefits to traders serving visitors, notably the Boat Inn, (fn. 572) it had no obvious effect on general retail services in the village, which remained no better than in neighbouring villages of similar size. Nor did Stoke acquire a marina, boat building, boat hire or chandlery services, as did other places on the Grand Union Canal in the county, which might have provided larger-scale local employment. At the time of writing most residents of Stoke, and certainly most people in Shutlanger, worked outside the parish.
In the years immediately following the creation of the honor of Grafton a single court was held for Stoke and Shutlanger (and on some occasions also Alderton), at which the constable and other officials of each township made separate presentments and orders were made concerning the fields of each manor and other matters. (fn. 573) In the early 17th century a court was held for 'Stoke with members', meaning only Shutlanger, not Alderton as well. (fn. 574) Sir John Fermor of Easton Neston held a court for what was described as his manor of Shutlanger in 1554 and possibly other years, although after his death in 1571 the family's estate there ceased to be regarded as a manor. (fn. 575)
After the honor passed to the 2nd duke of Grafton a single court continued to be held for what was called the manor of Stoke Bruerne and Shutlanger, although separate juries were empanelled for the two townships (usually nine men from Stoke and eight from Shutlanger), which each made their own presentments and field orders and appointed or nominated officials. (fn. 576) Each township thus had its own constable, thirdborough, field-teller and hayward. Copyhold had long disappeared from the manor but new freeholders did fealty, including the owners of Stoke Park. (fn. 577) As elsewhere on the Grafton estate, the court sat twice a year in the first half of the 18th century, in spring and autumn, but by the 1760s there was only one sitting, usually in April, and from 1773 the court sat in alternate years, although it continued to discharge the full range of business until the end of the century. (fn. 578) The Stoke and Shutlanger court was still being held in the 1830s (fn. 579) and was presumably given up when the parish was inclosed in 1844. (fn. 580)
As well as having separate constables, whose expenses (at least in the 18th century) were met from the poor rate, (fn. 581) Stoke and Shutlanger relieved their own poor before 1834 and continued to be separately rated thereafter, when both were placed in Towcester union, although the overeers' accounts were passed at a single vestry held for the parish. (fn. 582) In 1792 the vestry noted that there had long been doubt as to whether those who had gained settlement by service or otherwise at Stoke Park belonged to Stoke or Shutlanger, and that the assessment of the estate for the poor rate had been divided unevenly between the townships. It was therefore resolved that in future, to avoid disputes, the assessment should be divided equally and that all expenditure on paupers with a settlement at Stoke Park should be borne equally by the two townships. (fn. 583) In the later 19th century this arrangement led to the creation of a boundary between the two townships which ran in a straight line through Stoke Park (bisecting the mansion as well as the grounds), whereas previously the estate, while not extra-parochial, was regarded as forming part of neither township, but with a moiety belonging to each. (fn. 584) The two townships also maintained their own highways. (fn. 585)
Stoke and Shutlanger became part of Towcester rural district council on its creation in 1894, of the enlarged authority of the same name established in 1935 when Potterspury R.D.C. was abolished, and of South Northamptonshire district in 1974. (fn. 586)
The parish councils.
Both Stoke and Shutlanger were entitled to parish councils under the 1894 Local Government Act. Little is known of the early work of the Stoke council because of the loss of its minutes, although in the 1890s it assisted a voluntary scheme to provide street lights in the village. (fn. 587) The council did not, however, adopt the 1833 Lighting Act until 1949. (fn. 588) In the same period the water supply was improved through the joint efforts of the main owners and occupiers, who laid pipes from a spring belonging to the Grand Junction Canal near the mouth of the tunnel. (fn. 589) The Shutlanger council also undertook work to improve the supply to their village in 1895. (fn. 590) As soon as they were established, the two councils set up a joint committee to manage the charities of the parish, which thereafter reported to both annual parish meetings, (fn. 591) and agreed that income from the allotments laid out on land originally intended to be a recreation ground for the parish should continue to be divided between the two townships. (fn. 592) In 1897 Shutlanger asked the county council to arrange evening classes on gardening at the village school, (fn. 593) and the following year joined with Stoke in providing a guarantee for a telegraph office at Stoke post office. (fn. 594) The two councils also discussed the possibility of a joint recreation ground, but without taking any action. (fn. 595)
There was a modest increase in activity on the part of the Shutlanger council after the First World War, when it asked Towcester R.D.C. for an allocation of six council houses, (fn. 596) protested at the permanent closure of the infants' school in the village, (fn. 597) and asked the county council, R.D.C. and guardians for a scheme to help men thrown out of work by the closure of the local ironstone pits. (fn. 598) It also agreed to meet every two months, instead of quarterly. (fn. 599) In 1922 the two councils combined to provide a recreation ground, which was opened two years later on land rented from the Stoke Park estate, when several of the Shutlanger members offered to provide swings and erect the equipment themselves. (fn. 600) In 1932 the Shutlanger council resisted the county council's suggestion that it and Stoke should share an R.D.C. member, instead of continuing to have one each, pointing out that this would inevitably lead to the expense of elections (hitherto avoided), since each village would want its own man on the council. (fn. 601) The two parishes combined to discuss with the Charity Commissioners and the rector new schemes for the chanties in 1929-32. (fn. 602)
The Shutlanger council minutes are lost for a thirty-year period from 1933, which is about the time the surviving Stoke records begin. These reveal a council mainly concerned with charity business or, during the war, with trying to secure additional supplies of paraffin for a village that lacked either gas or electricity. (fn. 603) In 1943 the council received £13 when its metal railings at the recreation ground and allotments were sold for salvage. (fn. 604) In 1937-8 the R.D.C. made clearance orders to demolish about a dozen houses in the village. (fn. 605)
Stoke's main preoccupation after the war was to secure its proper share of Towcester R.D.C.'s housing programme. The council, which from 1946 met every two months instead of quarterly, (fn. 606) inititally asked for 20 houses, (fn. 607) then objected to the proposed site, (fn. 608) and later protested at the allocation of tenancies to those with no connection with the village. (fn. 609) It also refused to cooperate with the R.D.C. in naming the streets in the village. (fn. 610) When electricity finally arrived, the council installed street lights in 1949-50, (fn. 611) a scheme extended to the new housing estate (Wentworth Way) in 1954. (fn. 612) The break-up of the Stoke Park estate, also in 1954, led to protracted negotiations over the future of the reading room and the recreation ground, the eventual outcome of which was that the parish council became owners of both, (fn. 613) with the reading room being modernised to become a village hall, run by its own management committee. (fn. 614)
The opening of the canal museum in 1963 marked the beginning of over twenty years' hostility between British Waterways and the parish council concerning the development of the museum, which the council consistently opposed. Initially the council objected to the erection of a guillotine lock and weighing machine in the disused lock-chamber near the Boat inn, (fn. 615) and to the opening of a temporary shop in a caravan (fn. 616) (although not to the mooring of a boat alongside the museum from which to sell souvenirs). (fn. 617) By the end of 1964 the number of visitors had increased so much that the police insisted that the village needed more car parking space; (fn. 618) early the following year British Waterways promised better liaison with the council over both parking and other issues. (fn. 619) The resulting truce lasted until 1969, when British Waterways announced new plans for a shop (which the council opposed since a public corporation should not be allowed to compete with local traders for the sale of ice-cream) and a workshop (which aroused fears of noisy machinery). (fn. 620) Rumours the following year that the canal was to be widened near the tunnel to provide aditional moorings were ill-received, (fn. 621) as was the suggestion that boats might be moored on both sides of the canal near the museum. (fn. 622) The council also objected to the opening of a cafe at the museum, or even a picnic site. (fn. 623)
During the 1970s the council complained about the development of private moorings (fn. 624) and at the increasing number of school parties visiting the museum. (fn. 625) In 1976 car parking was described as 'completely out of hand' and the council reluctantly accepted a scheme for double yellow lines throughout the village to control the problem. (fn. 626) A proposal the same year, renewed in 1979, to house a collection of agricultural bygones in the former Methodist church was fiercely opposed, since the council did not wish to see a second museum in the village. (fn. 627) A decision by the district council in 1979 to reject plans by British Waterways to develop their own museum was warmly welcomed. (fn. 628) Overall, the preoccupation of the parish council with the waterways museum, to the exclusion of concerns about new housing which were characteristic of neighbouring communities in this period, (fn. 629) is quite striking, as is the refusal of the council to acknowledge that the museum brought any benefits to the village.
By contrast, the work of Shutlanger parish council was far less eventful. In 1967-8 the council considered either renting the former reading room belonging to the New Charity, whose trustees were planning to sell the building, (fn. 630) or purchasing the old school (then licensed as St. Anne's chapel), which the diocese wished to dispose of, for a village hall. (fn. 631) The choice fell on the latter, but managed by an independent committee. (fn. 632) In 1974 the council established a committee to consider planning applications for the parish, (fn. 633) which the council normally opposed. (fn. 634) In 1982 the village sub-postmistress resigned and Shutlanger lost its post office. (fn. 635) The district council refused a planning application for a new office elsewhere in the village and for a time the parish council paid for the hire of the reading room to enable staff from Towcester to pay pensions and allowances there once a week. (fn. 636) In 1985 the council opposed the conversion of the former Methodist chapel to residential use but raised no objection to its use as a book repository. (fn. 637)
Advowson and rectory.
There was a priest at Stoke Bruerne in 1086 who held land there of Swain son of Azor. (fn. 638) The advowson descended with the manor until the death of William de Combemartin in 1318 and the division of Stoke between his three daughters. Thereafter the advowson was also shared. At various dates in the 14th and 15th centuries successors to all three of William de Combemartin's daughters presented to the living, until in the early 16th century the whole of the manor and advowson were acquired by the Crown. (fn. 639)
In 1551 the advowson was included in a large grant to William Parr, marquess of Northampton, (fn. 640) but appears to have reverted to the Crown when he was attainted two years later, for in 1559 the queen presented to the living. (fn. 641) In 1579 the advowsons of Stoke, Blisworth, Cottingham and Great Billing were granted to Sir Christopher Hatton, the queen's vice-chamberlain. (fn. 642) He died in 1587, leaving Sir William Hatton alias Newport, the son of his sister Dorothy, the wife of John Newport, as his heir. (fn. 643) Newport died without male issue, whereupon his estates passed to another Christopher Hatton, godson of Sir Christopher and son of John Hatton, his nearest kinsman. (fn. 644) The younger Christopher died in 1619, leaving a son, also named Christopher, aged 14, as his heir, (fn. 645) who was created Baron Hatton of Kirby in 1644 and died in 1670. (fn. 646) In 1664 Lord Hatton conveyed much of his estate, including the advowson of Stoke Bruerne, to trustees, with power to make sales to pay his debts. (fn. 647) They appear to have leased the living, for in 1670 Sir William Boreman was described as patron. (fn. 648) It was certainly leased in 1671 (fn. 649) and in 1676 the and Lord Hatton sold the advowsons of Stoke, Great Billing, Cottingham and Old for £1,600 to Brasenose College, Oxford. (fn. 650)
In 1953 the rectory of Stoke Bruerne was united with that of Grafton Regis and Alderton. The first incumbent of the united living was Guy Marshall, previously rector of Stoke Bruerne, (fn. 651) and the presentation alternated between Brasenose and the Lord Chancellor. The living was later further united with Blisworth, leaving Brasenose and the Martyrs' Memorial and Church of England Trust (as patrons of Blisworth) with two presentations in three and the Lord Chancellor with the third. (fn. 652)
In both 1254 and 1291 the church was valued at £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 653) At the Dissolution the living was valued at £31 10s. 7d., less 10s. 7d. for synodal dues and procurations due to the archdeacon of Northampton, (fn. 654) and in 1655 the living was worth £150 a year. (fn. 655)
Before inclosure the glebe included (besides the parsonage and 6 a. of pasture belonging to it) strips in each of the three open fields of both Stoke and Shutlanger, as well as meadow in each township, and three cottages in each. Both the parsonage and the cottages had common of pasture. (fn. 656) The glebe to the north of the parsonage was bisected by the Grand Junction Canal in the 1790s, when the rector held out for the largest possible price and insisted that an accommodation bridge be built to provide access to the severed portion. (fn. 657) In the 1830s the glebe was reckoned to extend to 29 a. in Stoke and 33 a. in Shutlanger. (fn. 658)
The tithes of Stoke Bruerne were leased for three years for £70 a year in 1684 (fn. 659) and the glebe of both townships, with the tithes, for £200 for the same term to a syndicate of four farmers in 1752. (fn. 660) The glebe in Shutlanger was leased for three years in 1755 to five lessees, and that of Stoke to two, in both cases for £25 a year; both leases were renewed in 1758 for a further three years. (fn. 661) In 1772 the rector was granted permission to demolish two glebe cottages in Shutlanger and convert a third into a barn in which to store the great tithes of the township and manure for the glebe land in Shutlanger fields. (fn. 662) Shortly after William Stalman was instituted rector in 1790 he noted that the tithes and glebe of Shutlanger, then in hand, were rated on an annual value of £107 6s. 8d., increased to £138 10s. in 1792, at which it remained until 1796 when they were leased for three years at £213 13s., raised to £250 in 1802. (fn. 663) In 1791 the tithes of Stoke produced £206 and those of Shutlanger £273, with another £5 coming from the modus paid by the Stoke Park estate, Easter offerings and miscellaneous income, making a total of £484. (fn. 664) In 1794 Stalman took his Shutlanger parishioners to the Exchequer to enforce payment of tithe on hay, from which they had been claiming exemption since at least 1767; (fn. 665) in 1813 considered an action to secure tithe on vetches or green fodder taken from the meadows in the parish; (fn. 666) and in 1820 sought to extract tithes from a meadow belonging to the Stoke Park estate which he claimed was not included in the grant of 1629 and therefore not covered by the modus of 44s. 10d. specified on that occasion. (fn. 667)
At inclosure, the Shutlanger portion of the glebe was given up in exchange for an additional allotment at Stoke, so that after 1844 the estate consisted of 69 a., in a consolidated block close to the church and parsonage. (fn. 668) Also in 1844 the tithes of Stoke were commuted for £248 6s. 10d. and those of Shutlanger for £290 19s. 8d., (fn. 669) a total of £539 6s. 6d., a generous settlement, considering that in 1836 the entire income of the living, including the let portion of the glebe as well as the tithes, was reckoned to be £538. (fn. 670) The total was said to be between £600 and £700 immediately after inclosure and commutation, (fn. 671) although a figure of £500 was given in the 1860s. (fn. 672) In 1876 the tithe income was said to have been about £580 over the previous three years, to which could be added glebe valued at £223 a year, making a gross income of around £700, from which £100 for rates and other outgoings had to be deducted, apart from the rector's liability for chancel repairs. (fn. 673) By the 1890s tithe income had fallen to about £420 and the total net income of the living to £470. (fn. 674) It was said to be only £350 a decade later. (fn. 675)
All but 11 a. of the glebe was sold after the First World War, over half of it (37 a.) to H. A. Vernon of Stoke Park. (fn. 676) The income of the living gradually rose between the two World Wars to reach £600 by 1940. (fn. 677) Despite this, R.P. Newton, who became rector in 1928, let the parsonage for £100 a year between 1929 and 1934, moving to a cottage where the rent was only £50. (fn. 678)
There was a parsonage, with barns, stables, outhouses, orchards and gardens, and about 6 a. of inclosed pasture, at Stoke, when the earliest surviving glebe terrier was compiled in 1619. A dovecote is first mentioned in 1692. The house appears to have rebuilt c. 1770, although it clearly remained a working farm. (fn. 679) By the mid 19th century it had been transformed into 'a commodious dwelling, with tastefully laid out grounds'. (fn. 680) Successive rectors made improvements up to the 1920s (fn. 681) but the parish was already considering selling the house and building a smaller parsonage nearby in 1939, (fn. 682) and did so shortly after the war. (fn. 683)
Many of the incumbents of Stoke Bruerne held other livings. Robert de Harrowden was also rector of Finedon from 1296 to 1317 (fn. 684) and his successor John de Harrowden held several benefices, including the rectory of Cottingham, and a canonry at Wilton. (fn. 685) Peter Gunning, rector of Stoke from 1660 to 1669, held the living of Cottesmore (Rutland), as well as academic posts at Cambridge, before becoming bishop of Chichester in 1669 and bishop of Ely in 1674. (fn. 686)
Some of the medieval incumbents were drawn from local gentry families and on occasion were members of the same families as the lords of Stoke Bruerne. As well as the examples of Robert and John de Harrowden, Stephen, the brother of William de Combemartin, who was lord of Stoke between 1306 and 1318, was rector from 1347 to 1349, having been rector of the adjoining Combemartin manor, Alderton, between 1311 and 1347. In 1524 Sir Richard Knightley presented John Knightley to the living. (fn. 687)
Dr. Peter Gunning, rector of Stoke from 1660 to 1669, was perhaps the most notable of Stoke's incumbents. Tutor to the living's patron, Christopher, Lord Hatton, and a staunch royalist during the Civil War and Commonwealth, his greatest fame was as a theologian and disputer. A prolific author, he became Lady Margaret professor of divinity at Cambridge and later regius professor of divinity. During the 1660s he was master of Clare Hall, and later became master of St. John's on his appointment to the regius chair. At the same time as holding Stoke, he was rector of Cottesmore and a prebend of Canterbury Cathedral. (fn. 688) Edward Cardwell, rector between 1828 and 1831, was Camden Professor of Ancient History at Oxford and master of St. Alban's Hall. He edited Aristotle's Ethica and wrote several works on Greek and Roman coinage and theology. (fn. 689) The incumbency of Cardwell's successor, Philip Henry Lee, was notable as much for its length, forty years, as for its achievements. His successor, Robert Wilson, made several improvements to the church fabric, but also incurred rather more expense than the patrons, Brasenose College, expected. (fn. 690) The next incumbent, Seymour Coxe, was a canon of Newcastle and a man of considerable private income. As well as further renovating the interior of the church, he introduced a surpliced choir and was the first rector of Stoke to retire on a pension. (fn. 691)
Following the sale of the advowson to Brasenose College in 1676, several incumbents were members of that college, including John Blackburn, rector between 1693 and 1719, and Edward Cardwell. (fn. 692) Robert Wilson (1876-86) was a fellow of the college prior to becoming rector. (fn. 693) Seymour Coxe (1895-1913) was a Brasenose man, as were the next two rectors, Henry Good and Richard Palmer Newton. (fn. 694)
In the early 18th century, and presumably before, the two townships in the parish were assessed separately to church rates and each elected a churchwarden. From the 1790s the Stoke warden was nominated by the incumbent and by the 1830s was known explicitly as the rector's warden; (fn. 695) the Shutlanger warden was presumably regarded as the 'people's warden' in modern usage. A church rate, usually 1d. in the £ but occasionally 2d. or 3d., was levied annually in the early 19th century and continued to be collected right up to 1868. (fn. 696) The vestry tried to collect a voluntary rate during the 1870s with limited success, leaving the parish heavily dependent on rent from the charity estate. (fn. 697) Collections at services began to be made once a quarter in 1881, were increased to six times a year in 1899, and became weekly in 1912. Some of the rent income was lost after the two parish councils took over the running of most of the charities in 1895. (fn. 698) A fete to raise funds was held in 1920 and intermittently thereafter, a free-will offering scheme was established in 1923, and jumble sales held from time to time. (fn. 699) Despite these efforts, the parish's finances clearly weakened after the First World War, affected by the break-up of the Grafton estate (although the owners of Stoke Park continued to give an annual subscription) and a fall in the population of the parish. (fn. 700)
In 1851 the rector claimed an attendance of 116 at the morning service, 185 in the afternoon, together with 112 children at the morning Sunday school and 114 in the afternoon. Lee observed that nearly half the population of the parish lived at Shutlanger, a full mile from the parish church, which then had 530 sittings, of which only 130 were free. (fn. 701)
From 1884 sidesmen were appointed at the annual vestry, as well as the two churchwardens, and in 1920 the rector welcomed the establishment of a parochial church council as a means of fostering 'a more popular and effectual administration of church affairs'. (fn. 702)
The parish church.
The church of St. Mary consists of a nave, chancel, west tower, north and south aisles and south porch. The tower, except for its Perpendicular top stage, is probably of the early 12th century, with small round-headed windows on the west and south faces of the second stage. In its east wall a large arched opening (fragmentary towards the nave but well-constructed inside the tower) presumably served a west gallery. The arch between tower and nave is of c. 1200, pointed, of two chamfered orders. The eavesline of a slightly lower nave is visible on the east face of the tower.
The nave and both aisles were rebuilt together in the later 14th century: the arcades are of five bays on slender chamfered piers, and the windows are Curvilinear. The chancel has two-light Geometric windows in its south wall and a late Perpendicular east window. The chancel screen is 15th-century, with pierced ogee tracery heads; there is a rood-loft entrance on the north side, with external access via a staircase. A late medieval squint, with an imagebracket above, gives a sight-line from the east end of the south aisle into the chancel. At the east end of the south aisle a cusped piscina adjoins an aumbrey retaining its medieval timber lining and door. The nave clerestory of big, featureless round windows is probably post-medieval, perhaps associated with the date-stone of 1594 in the south parapet.
In 1742 Mrs. Anna Sheppard of Stoke left £100 towards the repair of the parish church, in which she asked to be buried. (fn. 703) The bequest may have been added to the £59 raised the following year by a rate of 4d. in the £ spent on repairs. (fn. 704) In 1772 the rector and churchwardens sought a faculty to replace the ruinous seats at the eastern end of the church with new ones and to allocate places to individuals, 'so that different ranks of inhabitants will know their place becoming their station in life'. Previously very few parishioners had seats of their own, which had led to disputes. They also wished to install a gallery at the west end, with five seats for menservants. (fn. 705) Permission was granted and the work was paid for by a loan, repaid from the portion of the Bosenhoe Charity left for the repair of the church. (fn. 706) In 1783 the parish was allowed to sell some plate (a total of 196 oz.) for £50 12s. 8d. to a dealer in Fleet Street and use the proceeds for repairs to the windows, the purchase of a new altar piece and prayer book, and repointing the masonry. (fn. 707) Some seats were converted into pews in 1797 and eight new pews installed in 1814. (fn. 708)
In 1843 the church was in need of repairs estimated to cost £300, to which the 4th duke of Grafton was asked to contribute £200, which he was advised to do on the clear understanding that Lord Pomfret's trustees also found the means to contribute in proportion to their estate in the parish. (fn. 709) The church was again restored in 1865, when it was reseated with open sittings and the aisles and chancel were refloored; plans for a vestry were not proceeded with. (fn. 710) A new east window was installed in 1877 as a memorial to Philip Henry Lee, rector from 1836 to 1876. (fn. 711) In 1881 a vestry and organ-chamber were added on the south side of the chancel, to the design of E. Swinfen Harris, at a cost of £900, (fn. 712) and in 1901 a new baptistry, designed by Matthew Holding, was added as a memorial to George Savage, for 44 years a churchwarden, who died in 1899. At the same time the interior was restored, with the removal of modern plaster, the painting of the walls and repairs to the stonework. The cost was born almost entirely by the Vernons of Stoke Park, with a contribution by the 7th duke of Grafton. (fn. 713)
There are several late medieval wall monuments and ledger-slabs, including a tablet with a brass for Richard Lightfoot, rector (d. 1625), kneeling at a prayer-desk, and several monuments to the Arundel family of Stoke Park. A small lozenge-shaped hatchment commemorates Jane Nailour (d. 1656). A window in the south aisle commemorating George Fisher (d. 1987), churchwarden, was designed by Chris Fiddes and made by George Wigley of the Monastery, Shutlanger.
St Anne's, Shutlanger.
In 1884 an infants' school was built in Shutlanger on land given by Sir Thomas Fermor-Hesketh, to a design by Matthew Holding, which the following year was licensed for divine worship, with seats for 150. (fn. 714) In 1886 a chancel, with a stained glass east window, was added as a memorial to Mary, the wife of P.H. Lee, who died in 1885, having laid the foundation stone for the building the previous year. (fn. 715) An altar from the parish church, replaced during the restoration of 1881, was installed at the chapel. (fn. 716) The school closed in 1916 (fn. 717) but the building, dedicated to St. Anne, remained in use as a chapel of ease to St. Mary's at the time of writing, with the nave also serving as a village hall.
A house in Stoke Bruerne in the occupation of Charles West was certified as a meeting place for Protestant dissenters in 1801 (and again the following year) by a group that included Stephen Warwick, the prominent Roade Baptist. (fn. 718) What may well be the same house, or at least the same congregation (since Warwick was again involved), was registered in 1811. (fn. 719) Another name that occurs in all three registrations was that of William Heighten, who also helped to register a house at Shutlanger in the occupation of Mary Campion, again in 1811. (fn. 720) Elizabeth Welford registered her home in Stoke Bruerne as a dissenting meeting place in 1802. (fn. 721) In the 1820s houses occupied by Thomas Martin and John Frost at Stoke Bruerne and Richard Jackson at Shutlanger were registered, (fn. 722) as was John Pointer's house at Shutlanger in 1841 and Thomas Tarry's at Stoke in 1846. (fn. 723)
Most of these early congregations were probably Wesleyan Methodist, since purpose-built chapels belonging to this denomination were erected at Shutlanger in 1844 and Stoke two years later. (fn. 724) Both were registered in 1854. (fn. 725) In 1873, when the Shutlanger chapel had seats for 130, that at Stoke had only 80 sittings, (fn. 726) although this building was replaced in 1879 by a new chapel, erected at a cost of £250 on land given by George Savage (whose nearby brickyard supplied the bricks), (fn. 727) which could hold 150. (fn. 728) In 1889 Shutlanger was also enlarged, so as to provide about 160 sittings; (fn. 729) the chapel was free of the resulting debt by 1900. (fn. 730)
When the Stoke trust was refilled in 1922, its members were drawn from several neighbouring communities (Blakesley, Greens Norton, Bradden, Hartwell, Silverstone, Alderton, Caldecote and Towcester), besides Stoke and Shutlanger. They included six farmers and a builder, as well as local tradesmen and shopkeepers and a canal lock-keeper, plus three labourers. (fn. 731) The congregation, responsible for the chapel of 1879 and also that of 1846, later used as a schoolroom, carried out major repairs to both buildings in 1947-52, including the installation of electric light in the chapel. (fn. 732) A grant of £10 from the village Coronation committee in 1953 enabled them to put light in the schoolroom and buy an electric fire for the chapel. (fn. 733) In 1961, however, it was agreed to sell the schoolroom and use the proceeds to improve the chapel. (fn. 734)
The closure of the Stoke chapel, and the transfer of members to Roade or Shutlanger, was first suggested by the circuit quarterly meeting in May 1974. (fn. 735) Opposed by those who wished to keep a free church presence in what was now an expanding village, (fn. 736) the decision to sell the building was carried by a majority of one (with two abstentions) at a meeting of seven trustees in November that year. (fn. 737) The sale of the chapel for £4,550 was completed early in 1976, (fn. 738) by which time remaining members had moved to Shutlanger. (fn. 739) The building was subsequently used as a private museum of agricultural bygones (fn. 740) and later became a cafe, its function at the time of writing.
When the Shutlanger trust was refilled in 1917, five of the 16 trustees were from the village itself and two others from Stoke Bruerne; the rest were from Ashton, Roade, Silverstone, Towcester, Wood Burcote and Greens Norton. They included five labourers and a roadman, three small tradesmen, a bootmaker, a railway signalman, a farmer, a builder, a millwright and a motor and cycle agent, plus one 'gentleman'. (fn. 741) In 1922 the congregation moved for a time to the school-chapel belonging to the Anglicans while their own chapel was closed for major repairs, costing nearly £100. Half of this was paid off by the end of the year and the rest by 1924, when the superintendent minister at Towcester felt they had 'worked wonders'. (fn. 742) Further work to the chapel ceiling was put in hand in 1933 and completed five years later. (fn. 743) By this date all the trustees were from Shutlanger, rather than neighbouring communities. (fn. 744)
The roof continued to cause problems and in 1948 the congregation agreed to take down the extension of 1889 (used as a schoolroom) to get the building back to its original size and shape; it was also resolved to redecorate the interior and install electric light fittings, in anticipation of power reaching the village in the near future. (fn. 745) Once again the congregation worshipped in the Anglican church room, (fn. 746) until the chapel was reopened with special services attended by the rector of Stoke as well as local Methodist ministers in June 1949. (fn. 747) Electricity arrived two years later. (fn. 748) As rebuilt, the chapel had seats for 100. (fn. 749)
Over the following thirty years, Shutlanger seems to have remained a reasonably flourishing congregation, with a healthy bank balance, able to undertake routine repairs to their chapel and occasionally carry out major improvements, such as the installation of electric convector heaters in 1969. (fn. 750) In 1975 they were joined by members of the former Stoke chapel. (fn. 751) A decade later, however, Shutlanger also closed, when a carved communion table (a gift from the Methodists at Little Houghton when their chapel had been given up) was presented to Roade Methodists. (fn. 752) The building was later used as a book repository. (fn. 753)
There was a schoolmaster named John Smith in Stoke Bruerne in 1777 (fn. 754) and in the early 19th century both Stoke and Shutlanger each had several lace schools, at which girls (and a few boys) were taught lacemaking from an early age, and were supposed also to learn to read and write. In addition, a man at Shutlanger had a private school with about 20 children, although this was closed at haymaking and harvest times, when he found more lucrative employment. (fn. 755) In 1833 there were two infants' schools in Stoke and another in Shutlanger, as well as the lace schools, and also Sunday schools in each township, established by the rector, Philip Henry Lee, five years earlier. (fn. 756)
In 1838 Lee asked the Northamptonshire branch of the National Society for help in building a room for the Sunday school at Stoke. The society pointed out that it did not assist Sunday schools but would give a grant if a day school was established as well. (fn. 757) Lee accordingly revised his plans (fn. 758) and in 1838-9 obtained a site from R.E. Sheppard, which was conveyed in trust to the rector, the 4th duke of Grafton and F. W. T. Vernon, (fn. 759) and a grant of £50 from the National Society. (fn. 760) A schoolroom measuring 42 ft. by 20 ft. was built on the road leading up to the church, where in 1840 56 boys and 26 girls, aged between two and 10, were attending a day school; the Sunday school also held there had 56 boys on the books but 65 girls. The difference was explained by the continued employment of girls in lace-making, where they could earn between 1d. and 4d. a day. There was only one girl over eight in the day school, which was described as an infants' school at which the older boys were also taught writing and accounts. All the children in the day school, except the youngest, were expected to attend Sunday school, a rule that may explain the existence in 1840 of a day school for dissenters, with 15 pupils, and a Sunday school with 20. About half a dozen boys from Stoke went to Courteenhall Grammar School and there were 32 children in the village aged between four and twelve not attending any school. (fn. 761)
In 1856 the rector obtained a grant of £5 from the local branch of the National Society to pay for a monitress. (fn. 762) This may have been in connection with the opening of an infants' school at Shutlanger, an initiative warmly supported by both F.W.T. Vernon, who offered £3 a year, (fn. 763) and the 5th duke of Grafton, who agreed to make up a deficiency in the mistress's salary up to £10 a year, stressing that he believed strongly in education for children in agricultural as well as industrial districts, who he felt should not be put to work until they had received some rudimentary instruction. (fn. 764) A teacher was recruited from Lancashire, who moved to Shutlanger in December 1856. (fn. 765) Two years later the Stoke school received a grant of £6 for materials from the local branch of the National Society, on condition that £2 was raised locally. (fn. 766)
From 1870 to 1902.
When the schools were inspected in 1867, that at Stoke, described as 'very satisfactory on the whole, maintaining its high character', had an average attendance of 71, taught by a master and mistress. There was also a night school and a parish library. The infants' school at Shutlanger had an average of 40 pupils, who were said to be 'fairly orderly and clean', but the teaching was 'not very efficient'. (fn. 767) Three years later the Stoke school had 74 childen on the books and an average attendance of 62, divided almost equally between boys and girls. There were three pupils over 12, but the average age of the top class was only 10. The school was still housed in the original schoolroom, said to have space for 105, and was taught by a master and sewing mistress. Voluntary subscriptions amounted to £47 a year, supplemented by £21 in school pence. The teaching was described as of a low standard but well maintained. The infants' school at Shutlanger had 20 on the books and an average attendance of 14, taught by a single mistress in premises measuring 293 sq. ft. Subscriptions raised £21 and school pence £7. There were night schools in both villages. At Stoke the schoolmaster taught on two nights a week during the four winter months and had 17 pupils aged between 12 and 21. The curate taught a similar number at Shutlanger three nights a week from September to Lent. There were no fees in either case. Overall, the parish had ample accommodation to meet the requirements of the 1870 Elementary Education Act, (fn. 768) although the Education Department insisted that at Shutlanger proper offices be provided and a certificated teacher be appointed (in the event the existing teacher was examined and given a certificate). (fn. 769)
The situation changed within a few years and in 1880-2 a new classroom, master's house and entrance porch, designed by E. Swinfen Harris of Stony Stratford, were built at Stoke, where the gallery was removed from the original schoolroom and new closets built in the yard. (fn. 770) The additional land needed was given by the 6th duke of Grafton, and this provided an opportunity to revise the trust on which the premises as a whole were held, giving control to five trustees, including the rector, rather than the incumbent alone, as had hitherto been the case. (fn. 771) In 1883 Sir Thomas Fermor-Hesketh, the main owner there, gave a site at Shutlanger for a new infants' school, (fn. 772) built the following year to a design by Matthew Holding of Northampton at a cost of over £500 and opened in January 1885. (fn. 773) The room, which measured 42 ft. by 21 ft. (fn. 774) and could hold 150, was licensed for worship from the start. (fn. 775) The old school was converted into a village reading room. (fn. 776) The mixed school at Stoke now had accommodation for 150 and an average attendance of 110, taught by a certificated master and his sister; the infants' school at Shutlanger, still taught by the mistress who had come in 1856, had space for 100 children but an average attendance of only 28. (fn. 777) The Shutlanger school was closed in 1894 but had reopened by 1898. (fn. 778) In 1897 the Grafton estate gave land at Stoke to enable the playgrounds to be enlarged and new closets built behind, rather than in front of, the buildings. (fn. 779) A new infants' classroom, designed by F.W. Dorman of Northampton, was built at the same time, together with new cloakrooms and other improvements. (fn. 780)
When the county council took over partial responsibility for the two schools in 1903 (although they remained nonprovided under the 1902 Education Act), it found a recently extended school at Stoke with accommodation for 37 infants and 104 older children and an overall average attendance of 87. The headmaster and his sister had both been at the school since 1880, and were assisted by another teacher and a monitress. The head had a salary of £70 plus a third of the grant and rent-free accommodation in the school house; the assistants had £40 and £20 and the monitress £4. (fn. 781) The mistress at Shutlanger was paid £50. (fn. 782) At Stoke, income from subscriptions in 1900-1 amounted to £53 and the grant £87, leaving a considerable shortfall on expenditure of £204. Both the infants' and elementary departments received goods reports from H.M.I, in 1902. (fn. 783)
Although the managers' overdraft was cleared before the schools passed to the local education authority, thanks largely to the generosity of B.W. Vernon of Stoke Park, (fn. 784) they remained under pressure from the county and H.M.I, to improve the premises at both Stoke and Shutlanger, work that was only completed in 1912. (fn. 785) During the same period, Frederick Coy retired after 27 years service as head at Stoke; (fn. 786) his successor, Robert Hewitt, was appointed on £115 a year. (fn. 787) Like Coy, he continued to teach a night school. (fn. 788)
When the mistress at Shutlanger resigned in 1916 the managers suggested replacing her with an uncertificated teacher, since the school had only 23 pupils. (fn. 789) The Board of Education vetoed this, but the L.E.A. then had difficulty filling the post, (fn. 790) and in May 1918 the managers resolved to close the school for the duration of the war, with the mistress moving to another school in the county. (fn. 791) The local authority asked the managers in July 1919 whether they wished to see Shutlanger reopened, and inconclusive exchanges, also involving the Board of Education, continued until the summer of 1921, when it was accepted that the school had closed for good. (fn. 792) Parents in the village were rather keener than the rector to see the school reopened; (fn. 793) the L.E.A. was unenthusiastic but had promised during the war not to oppose reopening; the Board of Education took the view that if the school was necessary the L.E.A. was bound to reopen it, but if it was not necessary the authority had no power to do so. (fn. 794)
The building became a church room, retaining a chancel and altar. (fn. 795) Shutlanger children thereafter started school at Stoke; conversely, from 1925 older children from both villages were able to go to Roade for handicraft and cookery classes. (fn. 796)
During 1920s and 1930s the number of pupils at Stoke fell from about 120 to fewer than 80 by 1936, when Hewitt retired, with a glowing tribute from H.M.I., (fn. 797) although earlier inspections had produced more cautious reports, suggesting that the teaching could be less mechanical and the children cleaner and healthier. (fn. 798) The L.E.A. recommended that Hewitt be replaced by a headmistress, so as to reduce costs, to which the managers agreed. The school was also facing 'decapitation' (the transfer of pupils over 11 to the larger school at Roade) in the near future. A couple of years earlier the staff had been reduced from one certificated and one uncertificated assistant to two uncertificated posts. (fn. 799) These years were also marked by a rift between the rector and the lay managers, (fn. 800) which reached a climax in 1933-4 when the rector, on his own initiative, proposed to transfer the school entirely to the local authority, a course of action from which he was directed to desist by the bishop. (fn. 801) The arrival of a new headmistress (Mrs. Edith Maud Hughes) in 1936 led to a noticeable improvement in the school and better relations between head and managers. (fn. 802)
In 1946 the rector reported that under the 1944 Act Stoke Bruerne school would close and the children would be transferred to either Paulerspury or, more likely, Roade, although nothing would happen in the short term. (fn. 803) A year later the county development plan confirmed that Stoke would close, probably between 1954 and 1959, and the pupils moved to Roade, where it was planned to open a new secondary modern school in that period. (fn. 804) The Stoke managers meanwhile accepted voluntary controlled status, since the parish could not find the £4,000 needed to bring the buildings up to modern standards. (fn. 805) In 1951 they asked the L.E.A. to install running water, so that washbasins and water closets could be provided, which was done a couple of years later. (fn. 806) Mrs. Hughes was succeeded as head by Mrs. Evelyn Hollis in 1955, when the school had about 35 pupils. The new head instituted open days for parents and visits for the children, and began using her own wireless for some lessons. Like her predecessor she still had to do all the junior teaching herself, supported by one full-time assistant for the infants. (fn. 807) The school received an excellent report from H.M.I, in 1960, the year in which hot water finally became available. (fn. 808) There were 42 children on the roll in 1962, the highest for some years; (fn. 809) two years later the L.E.A. provided indoor lavatories. (fn. 810)
Mrs. Hollis retired in 1970 and was succeeded by Mrs. Kathleen M. Reynolds. (fn. 811) A parentteacher association was formed the same year. (fn. 812) During the 1970s numbers fluctuated around 40, leading on occasions to problems of overcrowding. (fn. 813) There were also recurrent complaints from some parents concerning discipline, which the managers rebutted, although a few children were moved to Blisworth school. (fn. 814) A 'Friends of the School Association' was established in 1978 in place of the previous P.T.A. (fn. 815)
At the time of writing the school had 64 pupils, taught by the head and 2.2 assistant teachers. (fn. 816)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR
Thomas Bosenhoe's Charity.
Thomas Bosenhoe of Stoke Bruerne, husbandman, by his will proved on 10 December 1513, left his house in Shutlanger and all his land in the fields of Stoke and Shutlanger to his wife Isabel for her life and then to his son Robert for his life. After both were dead, the premises were to pass to the churchwardens of Stoke, who were to pay half the income from the estate towards the maintenance of the parish church and half to the towns of Stoke and Shutlanger. (fn. 817) By 1657 the estate was in the hands of 16 feoffees (who were to appoint replacements whenever their number fell to nine, all of whom were if possible to be drawn from within the parish) and consisted of a messuage, part of which was used as a smithy, a close named Huddimore (1 a.), and 20 a. of land in the common fields of Shutlanger. Half the income was used to maintain the parish church and the other half divided equally between the poor of Stoke and Shutlanger. The feoffees met annually on 21 December in the parish church. (fn. 818)
In 1722 the land belonging to Bosenhoe's Charity (or the Old Charity, as it was also known) was let on a twelve-year lease for £7 a year, while the messuage was let for 7s. (fn. 819) In 1781, after he had rebuilt the premises, the tenant was granted a new lease of the smithy for 31 years at 32s. a year, (fn. 820) which by 1797 he had assigned to another blacksmith. (fn. 821) The land, previously let at will to John Kingston for £5 15s. a year, was leased in 1798 to the same tenant for 21 years at £9 16s. (fn. 822) In 1754, (fn. 823) 1774 (fn. 824) and 1796 (fn. 825) the estate as a whole was conveyed to new trustees.
When the lease of the house and smithy expired in 1812, the former lessee remained in occupation as a yearly tenant, paying £10. (fn. 826) When the lease of 1798 expired in 1819, the trustees were willing to grant a new term of 21 years to Kingston's son, also named John, (fn. 827) but he would only agree to three years, at a rent of £16 10s., which was reduced by 10 per cent three years later because of the depression in agriculture. (fn. 828) In 1828 the rent was reduced to £14 10s. (fn. 829) and in 1835 the entire estate was said to be let for £20 15s.
In 1823 the rector suggested that in future the trustees give 3s. to each man and wife who received money from the charity, the same to a widower with children, 1s. for every child under 10, and 5s. to every widow, provided the fund were sufficient. (fn. 830) By this date only five of the trustees named in the last deed, including the rector, the earl of Pomfret and Levison Vernon, were still alive, (fn. 831) and in 1841, on the eve of inclosure, the estate was conveyed to new trustees. (fn. 832)
Thomas Kingston's Charity.
Thomas Kingston, by his will proved on 30 December 1607, charged his farm in Shutlanger with the payment of 12d. a week to the poor of Stoke and Shutlanger (half to each township, in three doles of 2d. each), to be paid by the owners of the farm to those they thought most deserving. The farm itself was left to his daughter Margaret Kingston and her heirs male, with successive remainders in default to John the son of Robert Kingston, John's brother William Kingston, and John's right heirs. If the owners defaulted, the churchwardens might enter and distrain the premises. (fn. 833) In 1622 this gift (and other sums said to have been given for the use of the poor) was the subject of litigation between John Lightfoot (a brother of the rector of Stoke, Richard Lightfoot) and the overseers of both townships and Kingston's heirs. Lightfoot complained that although the rent charge had been paid for about seven years after Thomas Kingston's death by John Cooke, who had married his widow, it had since lapsed. Cooke was accordingly ordered to pay the arrears. (fn. 834)
A similar dispute arose a century later, when Matthew Kingston, who in 1729 was said to have been in possession of the farm for between 30 and 40 years, was accused of stopping payment some 20 years earlier. When presented with the will, he resumed payment, but refused to make up the arrears. Counsel advised the churchwardens against attempting to distrain but to seek some other accommodation with Kingston. (fn. 835) This appears to have been successful, for in 1744 the bulk of the money used to establish the 'New Charity' came from arrears owing on Kingston's rent charge. (fn. 836) The farm itself was purchased in 1803 by the 3rd earl of Pomfret, (fn. 837) who in the early 19th century was paying 52s. a year, which was given under the direction of the estate to three poor women from each village in doles of 2d. a week. (fn. 838)
The Bread Charity.
The Bread Charity was established by Francis Crane, whose will, dated 21 October 1700, conveyed a moiety of a farm in Shutlanger then recently purchased by Francis Arundel of Stoke Park from the executor of John Wickens, and a moiety of a parcel of meadow in Shutlanger bought by Arundel from Thomas Kingston, to a trustee, on condition that he deliver at the parish church every Sunday 10 twopenny loaves, which were to be given to five poor people from Stoke and five from Shutlanger by the minister and churchwardens, with the consent and at the appointment of Francis Arundel and his son (also named Francis), or, after their decease, that of their successors as owners of Stoke Park. In 1702 the sole trustee named in the will conveyed the premises to Francis Arundel and four of his sons, together with the rector and churchwardens of Stoke, subject to the same trust, and also a requirement to reconvey the premises every forty years to eight or more new trustees, who should always include the owner of Stoke Park and the rector and churchwardens. (fn. 839)
In the 1820s the premises were owned by Benjamin Kingston, who paid £4 3s. 4d. a year for the bread, which continued to be distributed on the recommendation of Levison Vernon, the owner of Stoke Park. (fn. 840)
The New Charity.
The New Charity (so-called to distinguish it from Thomas Bosenhoe's Old Charity) was established in 1744 by the purchase by the rector, churchwardens and overseers of Stoke Bruerne of a cottage in Shutlanger, together with a plot of meadow (3½ a.) and several parcels of arable in the common fields of Shutlanger, from Mary Simkins of Ashton and her son John. (fn. 841) The premises, once part of the Sewardsley priory estate, were later annexed to the honor of Grafton, sold off by the Crown in 1600, (fn. 842) and acquired by Richard Simkins in 1683. (fn. 843) The purchase money was £78, which had accumulated in the hands of the parish from arrears owing on Thomas Kingston's benefaction to the poor and from other sums left to charity, of which £49 10s. belonged to Stoke and £28 10s. belonged to Shutlanger. (fn. 844) The origin of the smaller bequests cannot in general now be traced, although a sum of £20 was left by Thomas Chater of Harpole in 1654, the interest from which was to be distributed yearly on 21 December to the poor of Shutlanger. (fn. 845) It was agreed by the vestry in 1744 that the profits of the premises bought with the £78 should be given each year on 21 December by the rector, churchwardens and overseers to the most needy people of Stoke and Shutlanger who did not receive parish relief, the money to be divided between the two townships in a ratio of 7:4 in favour of Stoke, so as to reflect the origins of the capital. (fn. 846)
In 1798 the New Charity estate, previously let, like the Bosenhoe Charity lands, to John Kingston at will for £3 4s. a year, (fn. 847) were leased to him for 21 years at £4 15s. (fn. 848) His son took the premises for another three years from 1819 at £8 19s., abated by 10 per cent from 1822. (fn. 849) In 1828 Kingston's rent was further reduced to £7 15s. 7d., (fn. 850) a figure which had fallen by £1 by 1835. (fn. 851)
The charities after inclosure.
Under the inclosure award of 1844, the trustees of Bosenhoe's Charity received two allotments of former open-field land totalling 14a., and the churchwardens and overseers a further 2 a. as trustees of the New Charity. In addition the churchwardens and overseers received half an acre in respect of land given to the parish church and 4 a. for a recreation ground. All these allotments lay adjacent to each other on the western edge of Stoke village. (fn. 852) After inclosure, they were managed as one and converted into allotment gardens let by the rector, (fn. 853) including the projected recreation ground, which was found to be quite unsuitable for its intended purpose. (fn. 854) In addition the cottages at Shutlanger belonging to Bosenhoe's Charity and the New Charity remained in the hands of their respective trustees. (fn. 855)
In 1873 Bosenhoe's Charity was receiving £37 15s. a year in rent from its two houses in Shutlanger and its share of the allotments, of which half was applied to the parish church and the other half distributed in money to the poor, together with £10 7s. 9d. obtained from two houses and 2½ a. belonging to the New Charity estate. (fn. 856) With the £2 12s. rent charge from Thomas Kingston's Charity (paid in money) and £4 3s. 4d. from the Bread Charity (paid in kind), this gave the parish about £35 a year in charities for the poor. (fn. 857) In 1888 the allotments, including the Church Land and the recreation ground, amounted to 21½ a., which continued to be let in small parcels to a large number of tenants. (fn. 858) In the same year the Bosenhoe trustees let their two cottages, one of which was licensed as the Horseshoe inn, to Pickering Phipps, the Northampton brewer, for 14years at £16 a year. (fn. 859)
In 1896 the Stoke Bruerne and Shutlanger parish councils set up a joint committee to take over the management of the charities, (fn. 860) apart from the ecclesiastical element of Bosenhoe's Charity, which that year was made a separate charity, to be managed by the rector, churchwardens and one other person appointed by them. (fn. 861) In 1898 the joint committee agreed to charge the Shutlanger Reading Room, which stood on New Charity land, a rent of 1s. a year, although this was handed back as a subscription. (fn. 862) Three years later, when appealing for a reduction in their assessment to income tax, the committee noted that the Old Charity had a gross income of £27 a year (£20 net) and the New Charity £10 18s.; the Church Land income was 17s. 6d. gross (13s. 3d. net) and the recreation ground 54s. (22s. net). (fn. 863) The surveyor of taxes agreed to withdraw the assessements on all but the last of these, which was not a charity, although managed as part of the charity estate. (fn. 864)
The committee renewed the lease of the Horseshoe to Phipps for 21 years from 1901 at the same rent of £16, although part of this was abated because of the need for the lessee to carry out extensive repairs. (fn. 865) In 1917 the pub was closed under the war-time policy of reducing the number of licences, and the trustees invested the compensation received (£75 3s. net) in War Loan. (fn. 866) The premises were returned by Phipps at the end of the lease and in 1924 let as a private house. (fn. 867) All the cottage rents were raised by 30 per cent from 1921, the tenants henceforth to pay their own rates. (fn. 868) During the 1920s, the combined income of the charities (including the church element of Bosenhoe's Charity and the Church Land, but not the rent of the recreation ground) was about £70 a year, (fn. 869) disbursed in doles of 2s. 6d. in Stoke and 2s. in Shutlanger, (fn. 870) an approximate reflection of the intentions set down in 1744 when the New Charity was established. According to the rector, every householder in both villages who was not his own master or an employer received the money. (fn. 871) In 1925 the Charity Commission viewed with disfavour (but did not stop) the practice of charging only 1s. a year for the reading room on the New Charity estate, although they prohibited the return of this sum as a subscription. (fn. 872)
In the early 1930s the Commission reorganised the Stoke charities. The War Loan was converted into £100 of Consols, which was transferred to the Official Trustee; (fn. 873) the income of the Bosenhoe Charity was still to be divided between the church and the poor, but the latter portion was to be split equally between the two villages; and the income from the New Charity was to be divided in the proportions of 7:4 between Stoke and Shutlanger, as agreed in 1744. Thomas Kingston's Charity and the Bread Charity, the latter to be given in kind to six poor persons, continued to be shared equally between the two townships. In 1936 Bosenhoe's Charity had an income of £60 in rent from the village post office, another cottage and the allotments, plus interest on stock; the New Charity had £34 from the allotments, two cottages and the reading room; the Church Charity had 16s. 6d. from its share of the allotments; and the Bread Charity had £4 6s. 8d. from the owners of the two properties subject to the rent charges established in 1607 and 1700. (fn. 874) Kingston's Charity had an income of 52s. a year in this period. (fn. 875)
In 1939 and the following years the Bread Charity was given in kind to five people from each village, (fn. 876) while Kingston's Charity was used to give three people from each village 2s. a week, paid half-yearly. (fn. 877) In 1954 the Old Charity had an income of £50, the New Charity £34 and the Bread Charity £4 6s. 8d. (fn. 878) The trustees of both the Old Charity and the New Charity sold their property in Shutlanger, including the reading room, in 1967, (fn. 879) which presumably accounts for an increase in income to £170 for the former and £72 for the latter two years later, whereas that of the Bread Charity and Kingston's remained unchanged. (fn. 880) By 1978 the Old Charity reported a figure of £253 and the New Charity £108. (fn. 881)
Thomas Kingston's Charity was removed from the register in January 1995, on the ground that it had ceased to exist; the New Estate Charity (as it was now known) and both portions of Thomas Bosenhoe's Charity remain in existence for the general benefit of the poor of Stoke Bruerne and Shutlanger. (fn. 882)