A History of the County of Rutland: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1935.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The parish of Wing is on the hill, which rises to over 400 ft. above the Ordnance datum, between the River Chater (about 220 ft. above Ordnance datum), there forming the northern parish boundary, and a stream forming the southern boundary. The land falls somewhat abruptly on the north side of the hill but gradually on the south. The subsoil is Inferior Oolite and Upper Lias, and the soil a red loam. The land is mostly pasture, only about a third of the area being used for cereals and roots.
The village stands on the northern slope of the hill overlooking the valley of the Chater. Like so many of the Rutland villages of the forest type, it is built round and within roads forming roughly a quadrilateral figure, the road at the summit being called Top Street. The church on the south side at the west end of this street is approached by steps. The cottages are mostly built in rows at right angles to the street similar to those at Greetham.
The rectory house has been much altered and modernised, but a stone, now on an inside wall, bears the date 1617. On the north side of the church is an undated 17th-century stone house, with two-story mullioned bay window, end gables and stone-slated roofs, and another farther east has a panel inscribed 'anno 1622. w.s., w.b.' A block of three cottages on the north side of the village, known as 'The Almshouses,' is also of 17th-century date, with low mullioned windows, sundial and stone dormers. A short distance up the lane leading to Glaston, cut in the turf by the roadside, is a circular maze, 40 ft. in diameter, with narrow grass paths about a foot in width. (fn. 1) The Grange, half a mile to the south-west of the village, is a red brick house and the seat of Miss Brocklebank, O.B.E., J.P.
'Westhrope' was apparently a hamlet of Ridlington in former times. (fn. 2)
An Inclosure Award for 1,400 acres was made in 1773. (fn. 3)
Among the celebrities of Wing was Amelia Woodcock, the wise woman of Wing, the wife of a labouring man, who died about 1867. She obtained a reputation for healing every variety of disease including cancer. At first she relied on herbs gathered in the fields and woods, but later she made up her medicines from drugs purchased from a chemist. She was visited by many persons of wealth, and it is said she was consulted by medical men. So many were her patients that they had to take lodgings in the neighbourhood until she could attend to them. (fn. 4)
The manor of WING was probably one of the unnamed berewicks of Ridlington (q.v.) in 1086, and granted with Preston (q.v.) to Henry de Newburgh, the first Earl of Warwick, who seems to have sub-infeoffed the Montforts of his lands. (fn. 5) It continued to be a member of Preston (q.v.) in 1315 and until the middle of the 16th century. (fn. 6) In 1622 its tenants owed suit of court at Hambleton. (fn. 7)
Robert de Montfort (ob. c. 1165) gave half the church of Wing and half the manor to the monks of Thorney (co. Camb.), and Thurstan de Montfort his brother, who succeeded him, resumed the gift until King Stephen threatened him. He then granted half the town with half the church and mill except the fee of Thurstan his esquire and the fee of Ralph Fitz Nigel. (fn. 8) John de Stutevill also gave to Thorney half the vill as Robert de Montfort gave it, and the whole church. (fn. 9) In 1206 the Prior of St. Neots (co. Hunts.) sued Thurstan grandson of the above Thurstan for the whole manor and church granted to his church by Thurstan the grandfather and Robert his son. (fn. 10) Both these religious houses retained a manor here until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. (fn. 11) The possessions of St. Neots as an alien priory, however, were frequently in the hands of the Crown during the French wars of the 14th century, until in 1412 the priory was declared independent of the monastery of Bec in Normandy.
Queen Elizabeth leased both manors to Sir Everard Digby of Stoke Dry, who was later implicated in the Gunpowder Plot Conspiracy (1605). The manors were stated to be distinct in 1606; the Thorney manor having its own court and the tenants of St. Neots manor going to the court at Egleton. (fn. 12) The grant in fee of the manor of Wing in 1604 to Sir Thomas Smith, the Latin secretary, and Edmund Lascelles, groom of the chamber, evidently covered both estates. Edmund Lascelles received the customary lands of St. Neots in fee farm. (fn. 13) Both manors were conveyed in 1608 by Hugh Middleton and Richard Hartopp, citizens and goldsmiths of London, to Robert Johnson, Archdeacon of Leicester. (fn. 14) Hugh Middleton, who constructed the New River, was connected with Johnson, his wife being a niece of Johnson's first wife. This conveyance seems to have been for a mortgage, as Sir Thomas Smith's widow, Frances, married a year after his death in 1609 Thomas Cecil, Earl of Exeter, (fn. 15) who acquired the fee of the manors. The Earl made a settlement and died seised in 1622–3. (fn. 16) From this time this manor has descended with Liddington (q.v.). (fn. 17) It now belongs to the Marquess of Exeter.
In Feb. 1445 Thorney Abbey was granted exemption from suits in the county and in 'Framlescounte' and the 'hundred of Rillington' for their lands in Wing. (fn. 18)
The church of ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL consists of chancel 26 ft. 9 in. by 12 ft., with north organ chamber and vestry, clearstoried nave 32 ft. 4 in. by 12 ft., north and south aisles respectively 10 ft. 8 in. and 8 ft. wide, north porch and west tower 8 ft. by 8 ft. 6 in., all these measurements being internal. The width across nave and aisles is 34 ft. 9 in. Owing to the unsafe state of the tower, the spire with which it was then surmounted was taken down in 1840 and has not been rebuilt. (fn. 21) The chancel was wholly rebuilt in its present form in 1875, the organ chamber and vestry extending its full length, and in 1885 the south aisle was rebuilt, a south porch and west gallery removed, the nave restored, and the north porch added. The tower was restored in 1903.
The church is built of rubble, the modern walling having alternate bands of ironstone and freestone. The tower and north aisle bear external traces of a former coat of plaster. The chancel is covered with stone slates, but the nave and aisles are leaded. All the roofs are eaved. Except in the south aisle the walls are plastered internally.
The earliest church on the site was probably an aisleless building and was enlarged c. 1140 by the addition of a south aisle, the arcade of which, originally of three but now of two and a half bays, remains. The pillars and the east respond are cylindrical, with large scalloped capitals and moulded bases, standing on high plinths which are probably portions of the original south wall of the church. The capitals have square abaci. The semicircular arches are of two orders with edge rolls on the side towards the nave, but square towards the aisle, and large half-round soffit moulding. Towards the nave the two eastern arches have cheveron ornament upon the wall and soffit surfaces of their outer orders, but in the western arch this ornament appears only at its eastern springing.
Towards the end of the 12th century, probably c. 1180, a north aisle was added, and the existing arcade is of this date. The semicircular arches are of two chamfered orders on slender cylindrical pillars, (fn. 22) less in height than those opposite, (fn. 23) with disproportionately tall capitals (fn. 24) ornamented with early water-leaf or incurved foliage below the octagonal abaci, and moulded bases with octagonal lower members on high square plinths. The east respond is of similar character. In both arcades the arches have hoodmoulds on the nave side only. Both aisles appear to have been rebuilt in the 13th century, the north aisle being afterwards widened, but the late 12th-century north doorway still remains within the modern porch. (fn. 25) It has a round arch of two orders, the outer order with a prominent edge-roll springing from tall jambshafts, banded in the middle, with moulded bases and water-leaf capitals with square abaci; the inner order has a continuous chamfer.
A plain lancet window at its west end indicates the rebuilding of the north aisle in the 13th century, and part of the head of the south doorway is old and appears to be plain work of the same period. (fn. 26) The chancel arch is also of the 13th century, and in all probability the chancel was rebuilt on its present plan at that time. (fn. 27) A trefoiled lancet window has been re-used in the east wall of the vestry, and at the west end of the south wall of the chancel is a low-side window of lancet shape, the sill and jambs of which are ancient. (fn. 28) Some portions of a stringcourse chamfered on both edges appear also to be old. The chancel arch is acutely pointed, with hood-mould on each side, the inner order springing from half-octagonal moulded corbels supported by heads, the outer dying into the walls. In front of the arch, at its south end, is the doorway to the rood-loft, with a plain triangular head, the sill of which is nearly level with the spring of the arches of the adjoining arcade; it was probably approached by a ladder. (fn. 29)
The north aisle appears to have been widened in the 14th century, the wall being rebuilt with diagonal buttresses, and the chancel remodelled. The ogee-headed piscina, with sexfoil bowl, and the head of the single sedile, with cusping on the inner plane, are of the early part of the century, and were reused in the modern rebuilding. In the north aisle there are two 14th-century windows, that west of the doorway being of two lights with geometrical tracery; the other, a three-light pointed window east of the doorway, appears to be rather later and is a handsome example of reticulated tracery c. 1330, perhaps introduced to give more light to the altar at this end of the aisle. The piscina of this altar was found behind the plaster on the south side when the east wall of the aisle was taken down in 1875, but it was not retained.
Until the close of the 14th century it seems likely that the church had no tower, but only a western bell-cote. The present tower was built c. 1380– 1400, and to make room for it the western bay of the nave was shortened, the tower being constructed partly within the nave, and the west responds and half an arch on each side taken down. The halfarches which remain abut against the eastern buttresses of the tower, but the old responds were reused in part to support the tower arch, their bases being retained and new capitals provided.
The tower is of three stages marked by strings, with boldly moulded plinth and clasping buttresses its full height. (fn. 30) There is no vice. The west window is of two lights with quatrefoil in the head, and the bell-chamber windows are of the same type, but with transoms; they are much restored and have double hollow chamfered jambs, and hood-moulds with head stops. Below the battlemented parapet is a band of quatrefoils on three sides and of trefoils on the north. In the middle stage there is a small trefoiled window on the north side and a quatrefoil opening on the south. The arch (fn. 31) to the nave is of two chamfered orders, the outer continued to the ground. The squinches for the spire remain, and its cock vane surmounts a staff on the roof of the tower.
The modern chancel is without buttresses and has a pointed east window of three trefoiled lights and geometrical tracery, and two two-light windows in the south wall in addition to the low-side window already mentioned. Its ancient features have been noted above. A modern aumbry in the north wall is a copy of the piscina recess. (fn. 32) The ancient stone altar slab is again in use. The modern windows in the south aisle are square headed and in the style of the 14th century. Part of the roof of the north aisle is old, but elsewhere the roofs are modern.
The pulpit and all the fittings are modern. (fn. 33)
Two roundels of painted glass, formerly in the windows of the north aisle, are now in the vestry windows: one, of 14th-century date, depicts the head of our Lord, the other is a yellow foliated quatrefoil on a red ground. (fn. 34)
Traces of wall paintings were discovered during the restoration, but were too decayed to be preserved; over the chancel arch was a Doom, and in the south aisle were faint traces of a hunting scene. (fn. 35)
There are memorial tablets to John Sharpe (d. 1737), John Binnifeild (d. 1732), James Turner, rector (d. 1774), Charles Boys, R.N. (d. at sea, 1809), and to nine men of the parish who fell in the war of 1914–19. (fn. 36) There is a monument to Lieut. A. F. Taverner (d. of wounds, 1916).
There are five bells, the first three by Robert Taylor of St. Neots 1789, the fourth inscribed 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo,' and the tenor by Thomas Newcombe of Leicester inscribed 'S. Taddee.' (fn. 37)
The silver plate consists of a cup and cover paten of 1617–18 inscribed with the names of the rector and churchwardens 1617. There are also a plated paten and a pewter flagon dated 1714. (fn. 38)
The Prior of St. Neots seems to have been successful in his suit of 1206 (fn. 39) and held the advowson from 1217 until the dissolution of the monastery in 1539 except from 1348 to 1411, when the priory was in the hands of the Crown owing to the wars with France. (fn. 40) Edward Watson, probably lessee of the manor, presented in 1527, William Palmer (pro hac vice) in 1550, one Broughton in 1577 and Thomas Baker in 1602. (fn. 41) The advowson did not pass with the grant of the manor in 1604, but remained in the hands of the Crown until 1874, when an exchange of it was made with the Bishop of Peterborough, (fn. 42) who is the present patron.
The living is a rectory. Among distinguished rectors was the divine and author Francis Meres, rector 1602–1647. It is said that he kept a school here; (fn. 43) it is, however, more probable that he had a licence to teach and had a few pupils at the Rectory. His son Francis Meres was head master of Uppingham School, 1641–66, and afterwards Archdeacon of Leicester. (fn. 44)
Dole Money.—The sum of £1 4s. was paid annually by the overseers as interest belonging to several benefactions. From an entry in the overseers' book it appears that at a parish meeting held 21 December 1815, the sum in the hands of the parish, of which the interest was to be distributed yearly at Christmas to the poor, amounted to £24.
Ancient Payments.—(1) A yearly sum of 3s. 4d. was paid customarily for the use of the poor by the ancestors of Mr. Thomas White of Wing. When he succeeded to the estate he increased the payment to 6s. for purchase of coal for poor to be given at Christmas.
(2) A further sum of 6s. a year was paid by Mr. Richard Gregory of Wing as a customary payment in his family. Upon his death his estates were divided among several grandchildren and descendants and the payment ceased.
(3) A further sum of 13s. 4d. was paid by the ancestors of Mr. Henry Sharpe and was understood to be a charge on a yard of land in the open field of Wing according to an entry in the parish register book in 1688. The money was distributed among the poor at Christmas.