A History of the County of Rutland: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1935.
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Rihale (vii cent.); Righale, Riehale (xi cent.); Rihale (xii cent.); Ryale, Reyhal (xiii cent.); Real, Ryhall (xiv cent.); Ruyhall, Ryall, Riall (xvi cent.); with Belmesthorp (vii cent.); Beolmesthorp, Belmestorp (xi cent.); Bulmestorp (xiii cent.); Belstrop, Belmesthorpe (xvi cent.).
Ryhall is a parish of irregular shape on the Lincolnshire border of the county. It comprises the chapelries of Essendine and Belmesthorpe, but Essendine (q.v.) is considered, for lay purposes, a separate parish. Ryhall contains 2,680 acres, and formerly there were 30 acres of the manor in Uffington parish (co. Linc.). It was inclosed in 1800. The land is mostly low lying and falls from Ryhall Heath (about 218 ft.above Ordnance datum) to the River Gwash, where for some distance it is liable to floods. It is mainly agricultural, growing the usual corn and root crops. There is a railway station at Belmesthorpe on the London and North Eastern Railway, about half a mile south-east of Ryhall village, called Ryhall.
The village of Ryhall adjoins the high road from Stamford to Bourne and stands on both banks of the River Gwash, on land that rises slightly from the river banks and the low-lying districts to the east, south and west of it. The portions of the village north and south of the river are joined by a bridge and a causeway over the low-lying land adjoining it. The principal part is on the south side of the river where the church is. The vicarage to the south of it has extensive modern additions, but on the older part is a panel inscribed T. w. 1750. An inn called the Green Dragon, which stands a short distance to the north-east of the church, has a fine vaulted cellar of 13th-century date. The inn itself is a stone house with stone-slated roofs and wood-framed windows of no particular architectural interest, but it has been erected on the site of a much older edifice, which is the house that Blore suggests was the manor house. (fn. 1)
The manor court, it is said, was held here in a chamber which had a door made out of a piece of a fine old painting representing part of the Crucifixion, reported to have been given by one of the ancient lords to the church. At the entrance stood the old buttery hatch, and the hall on the right hand, with a small old window cut out of one stone, on the staircase. In the outside wall a very large arch still remained, showing great antiquity and that it must once have been a larger building. In 1796 the old manor house was an alehouse, at which time it is said there was an old font in the courtyard used as a trough. (fn. 2) In 1813 it was the residence of Col. Pierrepont, (fn. 3) but it was again an alehouse in 1897.
A two-story stone-slated house on the north side of the churchyard has a panel inscribed [IWE] 1685, possibly standing for John Wallett and his wife, whose house is described as on the north of the church (see below). It has wind-break chimneys, but its windows have been mutilated or removed. The other houses are mostly of stone with roofs of varying material.
There is a water-mill, now in a decayed condition, on the River Gwash on the west side of the village. In 1086 there were two mills, (fn. 4) one of which was given by Payn to the Priory of St. Andrew, Northampton; (fn. 5) the other was retained for the manorial use and was under repair in 1321. (fn. 6)
Belmesthorpe is a small hamlet half a mile southeast of Ryhall village, consisting of some farmhouses and cottages. The farmhouse on the north side of the main street has a good square dovecot of stone on the east side of it. In medieval times Belmesthorpe was frequently cut off from the village and parish church of Ryhall by 'streams of water,' so that in 1392 the inhabitants petitioned to have a perpetual chaplain to serve the chapel of St. Mary the Virgin there. (fn. 7) The chapel of Belmesthorpe was still in existence in 1636, though the chancel was then out of repair. (fn. 8) The chapel has since disappeared, but in 1811 its site still retained the name of Chapel Yard. (fn. 9)
In 1276 Hugh le Despenser is said to have appropriated a several fishery in the Gwash. (fn. 10) He evidently made good his claim, for the fishery is mentioned in 14th-century extents of the manor. (fn. 11)
Many traditions are current about the connection of St. Tibba, patron saint of falconers (c. 690), with Ryhall, where she is supposed to have passed much of her life. She is said to have been buried there, but her remains were afterwards removed to Peterborough. (fn. 12) Her cousin and companion, St. Eabba, is supposed to have given her name to Stablesford Bridge (St. Eabba's-well-ford) just above Ryhall. The spring is now called by the shepherds Jacob's Well and is opposite to Tibba's well. (fn. 13)
The manors of RYHALL and BELMESTHORPE are said to have been given in 664. by Wulfere, King of Mercia, to the monastery of Medeshamsted. (fn. 14) In the time of Edward the Confessor his sister Godgive, a widow, gave Ryhall and Belmesthorpe to Peterborough, with the king's consent. Godgive later married Siward, Earl of Northumberland, and soon afterwards died. Siward then agreed with the abbot to retain the two vills during his life. After his death, however, Waltheof, his son, was reluctant to return them and made an agreement with Leofric, the abbot, to hold Ryhall for his life and surrender Belmesthorpe to the monastery. Waltheof later made a further agreement whereby he was to hold both vills for life. (fn. 15) Waltheof was executed in 1075, when instead of the manors returning to Peterborough Monastery they were settled on Judith, Waltheof's widow and niece of William the Conqueror, who was holding them in 1086. (fn. 16) Under the account of the Countess Judith's land in Lincolnshire is an entry that in Uffington the Abbot of Peterborough had before the Conquest 60 acres which Judith then held, but that she had no profit from it in Lincolnshire because she cultivated it in the manor of Belmesthorpe. (fn. 17) Part of the manor of Ryhall was still, in 1807, in Uffington, and it seems probable that this was the estate described as 'Riale and Belmestorp' which was given to the Abbey of Peterborough before 992 by Halfdene son of Brenctine. (fn. 18) From the Countess Judith, Ryhall passed with the Honour and Earldom of Huntingdon to Simon de St. Liz, grandson of Maud daughter of Waltheof, by her first husband Simon de St. Liz. Simon died in 1184 and the honour was granted to William, King of Scotland, who resigned it immediately to his brother David. (fn. 19) The manor of Ryhall then appears to have been separated from the honour, and was assigned in 1195 to Margaret, sister of David and widow of Humphrey de Bohun. (fn. 20) Margaret died in 1201 and in 1204 a dispute arose between her son Henry de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, and David, Earl of Huntingdon, his uncle, concerning Ryhall and 20 knights' fees of the fee of Huntingdon which David claimed. David failed to appear to prosecute his claim and seisin was given to Henry. (fn. 21) He, as one of the leaders of the barons against King John, was disseised of Ryhall by the king's command. (fn. 22) In May 1212 Reginald Dammartin, Count of Boulogne, fled to England and did homage to John, who thereupon restored to him certain manors in Oxfordshire claimed by his wife Ida, daughter of Matthew of Flanders, Count of Boulogne, and Mary, daughter of King Stephen, as parcel of the honour of Boulogne and granted him in addition Ryhall and other manors which had been held of the honour of Huntingdon. Reginald was taken prisoner by the French in 1214 and died in prison. (fn. 23) In 1215 Ryhall was restored to Henry, Earl of Hereford, (fn. 24) but he again forfeited in 1218 for his adherence to Louis of France, and William Marshal was ordered to give seisin to Robert Marshal, seneschal of the Count of Boulogne. (fn. 25)
In 1227 the manor was granted by the king to Hugh le Despenser, until the king should restore it to the heirs of Reginald, Count of Boulogne, of his free will or by a peace. (fn. 26) In 1230 and again in 1233 the manor with its member, Belmesthorpe, was confirmed to Hugh, on the latter occasion to be held quit of suits of shires and hundreds, sheriff's aid, view of frankpledge and murder. (fn. 27)
Hugh le Despenser died in 1238 and for his faithful service the king permitted his son Hugh to marry as it should seem best for his promotion. (fn. 28) Hugh the son received a grant of free warren in Ryhall and Belmesthorpe in 1253 (fn. 29) and in 1257 was released by Richard, King of the Romans, from suits at the county and hundred courts for Ryhall except at the sheriff's tourn at Easter and Michaelmas.' (fn. 30) He joined the barons under Simon de Montfort and was killed at the battle of Evesham in 1265, when his lands were forfeited. The manor was then valued at £40 8s. 10d. (fn. 31) All Hugh's lands were restored to his son Hugh in 1281, though he was not then of age. (fn. 32) In 1285 Hugh le Despenser was summoned to show by what right he held the manor, and he cited the charter granted to his grandfather. (fn. 33) In 1297 Hugh, who was about to go overseas with the king, granted the manor for 7 years to Richard de Lughteburgh and Robert de Harwedon. Later Hugh seems to have given this manor to his son Hugh, for in 1320 Hugh le Despenser, the younger, and his wife Eleanor, by the king's precept exchanged this, among other manors, with Hugh de Audley, the younger, and Margaret his wife for the castle and manor of Newport and other lands. (fn. 34) Hugh de Audley joined in the insurrection of the Earl of Lancaster in 1321, and forfeited this manor, (fn. 35) and though he was afterwards pardoned, Ryhall was not restored to him. The sentence against Hugh le Despenser, who had been banished in 1321, was annulled in 1322 and the manor of Ryhall was in the same year granted to him and his wife Eleanor to hold by the service of rendering yearly one sparrowhawk. (fn. 36) Both the Despensers, father and son, were executed in the autumn of 1326, and the manor of Ryhall came into the king's hands. Edward II granted it to his brother Edmund, Earl of Kent, (fn. 37) and Edward III confirmed the gift on his accession. (fn. 38) Edmund was executed in 1330 at the instigation of Roger Mortimer, and the manor once more escheated to the crown. (fn. 39) It was granted in April 1330 to Geoffrey de Mortimer the king's kinsman, in tail, with remainder to Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, (fn. 40) but on the fall of Mortimer this grant was no doubt annulled. The wardship of the manor and all the goods of the Earl of Kent were granted to Margaret his widow in 1331. (fn. 41) Edmund, eldest son of the earl, was then dead, a minor in the king's wardship, and his brother John was heir to the earl's estates and titles. Margaret was exempted from paying aid for the manor in 1347. (fn. 42) Her son John, Earl of Kent, died in 1352, his heir being his sister Joan, wife of Thomas de Holand. (fn. 43) A few days before his death the earl had granted this manor to Bartholomew de Burghersh for life, and this gift was confirmed by the king. (fn. 44) Bartholomew held the manor till he died in 1355. (fn. 45)
The manor then reverted to Joan, wife of Thomas Holand, Earl of Kent. The earl died abroad in 1360, his son Thomas being then ten years of age. (fn. 46) Joan married, as a second husband, Edward the Black Prince, and was again left a widow in 1376. The guardianship of her son, Richard II, was left in her hands. She was a woman of great tact and ability, and on her death in 1385 her loss as a moderating and reconciling power in the kingdom was greatly felt. Her son Thomas Holand, Earl of Kent, succeeded her at Ryhall. (fn. 47) He died in 1307, (fn. 48) and his son and successor, Thomas, obtained from Thomas le Despenser, Earl of Gloucester, a quitclaim of all the latter's right in the manor. (fn. 49) Thomas, Earl of Kent, having joined in the plot to seize Henry IV, forfeited all his estates as a traitor in 1400. It was found when the manor was extended after his death that the bailiff had made vast extortions and destruction there. (fn. 50) This manor was restored to Thomas Holand's brother, Edmund, who died seised of it in 1408. His heirs were his four sisters and his nephew Edmund, son of Eleanor Countess of March, a fifth sister.
Ryhall manor fell to Edmund's share of the lands of the earldom of Kent. (fn. 51) He died in 1425 leaving as his heirs Richard, Duke of York, son of his sister Anne, and his sisters Joan, wife of Sir John Grey, and Joyce, wife of John Tiptoft. (fn. 52) Joan Grey died seised of a third of the manor in September of the same year, leaving a son, Henry, aged seven. (fn. 53) Anne, widow of Edmund Earl of March, held dower in the manor until her death in 1432, with reversion to Joyce, wife of Sir John Tiptoft, Richard, Duke of York, and Henry Grey. (fn. 54) The manor appears to have been assigned to Joyce Tiptoft, who died, a widow, in 1446. (fn. 55) Her son, John Tiptoft, was created Earl of Worcester in 1449, but on the temporary restoration of Henry VI in 1470, he was beheaded and forfeited his honours. Ryhall manor, which he held at his death, passed to his son Edward, then aged three, (fn. 56) who was restored to his father's lands and honours. Edward died unmarried in 1485. His heir was his cousin Edward, Lord Dudley, son of Edward's aunt Joyce and Sir Edmund Dudley. (fn. 57) In 1490 Sir Edward Dudley and Cecilia his wife sold the manor of Ryhall to Sir Thomas Lovell, (fn. 58) Speaker of the House of Commons, fifth son of Sir Ralph Lovell of Barton Bendish (co. Norf.). Sir Thomas died in 1525 leaving as his heirs general his three nieces, daughters of his brother Robert Lovell. The manor of Ryhall had, however, been settled in tail male upon his nephew and adopted son Francis Lovell, son of Gregory Lovell of Barton Bendish, with remainder in default to another nephew, Sir Thomas Lovell. (fn. 59) Francis with his wife Elizabeth settled the manor in 1541, (fn. 60) and Sir Thomas Lovell of Harling (co. Norf.), his son, who succeeded him, in 1550 bequeathed Ryhall to his wife Elizabeth for life with remainder in tail male successively to his sons Thomas, Philip, Robert, Francis, Harry and Thomas. He died in 1567, when Thomas, the eldest son, succeeded. (fn. 61) In 1584 Thomas and his mother Elizabeth sold the manor to William Cecil, Lord Burghley. (fn. 62) William died seised of it in 1598, (fn. 63) when it passed to his son Thomas Cecil, afterwards Earl of Exeter. From that time the manor descended with that of Barrowden in the possession of the Earls or Marquesses of Exeter (fn. 64) to the present day.
An estate in Ryhall comprising about 280 acres of land and the ancient manor house is said by Blore to have been in the hands of the Netelham, or Netlam, family. William Netelham was farmer of the rectory at the time of the Dissolution and in 1587 John Netelham of Yaxham (co. Norf.), son and heir of William, son of Henry Netelham, conveyed to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, the reversion of three messuages in Ryhall called Redgates, Baldwins and Warrens, of the land which William Freeston and Elizabeth his wife held for the life of Elizabeth, and the reversion of a capital messuage or hall house called Margetts lands in the occupation of William Bodenham and other messuages in Ryhall, all which reversionary estates were expectant on the right which Francis Woodhouse of Breckles (co. Norf.) and Eleanor his wife had in the premises for the life of Eleanor. The Netelhams also had land which towards the end of Elizabeth's reign they conveyed to the Bodenhams, (fn. 65) and Henry Netelham was sued in 1601 by John Waterfall, of Belmesthorpe, for defrauding him of a lease of land in Ryhall and elsewhere. (fn. 66) It appears that William Bodenham of Ryhall bought an estate there in 1591 of Richard Shute, which adjoined land he already held. (fn. 67) William Bodenham died in 1613 and by his will desired to be buried in the south part of the church of Ryhall 'right under the scutchine that is there made for me and Sense (fn. 68) my wife, which scutchine I would have new made in metal, and some part of the Quarles arms joined thereto to shew that my second wife was a Quarles.' (fn. 69) William, who was sheriff of Rutland in 1603 and was knighted in 1608, (fn. 70) was succeeded by his son Francis, knighted in 1616. (fn. 71) Sir Francis was sheriff of Rutland in 1614 and 1634 and member of Parliament for the county in 1625. (fn. 72) He was sequestered as a royalist and died in 1648. (fn. 73) His widow Theodocia begged for a third of her husband's estate in 1652, as she had no jointure, but was only allowed a fifth. (fn. 74) Sir Wingfield Bodenham, son of Sir Francis, was high sheriff of Rutland and was taken in arms against the Parliament in 1644 at Burghley (co. Northant.) by Lieut.-Gen. Cromwell. He was fined £1,000, which he obstinately refused to pay, saying that he was expecting a change. At the beginning of 1646 he was still a prisoner in the Tower, and in March was offered his liberty if he would pay the fine already set. He was released on bail in November 1647; but his fine was still unpaid in July 1651. He petitioned for some allowance for his heavy debt and begged to be allowed to sell his estate to pay his fine. Finally, in August 1653, his fine was reduced to £376, and by September it was paid and he was discharged. (fn. 75) His wife Frances Lady Bodenham in 1650 obtained a fifth of her husband's estate for herself and her children. Sir Wingfield whilst a prisoner in the Tower devoted much of his time to collecting material on matters of antiquity, and was later a liberal encourager of James Wright in his publication of The History of Rutland. (fn. 76) Beaumont Bodenham, son and successor of Sir Wingfield, was sheriff of Rutland in 1663 (fn. 77) and died in 1681 leaving an only daughter Elizabeth. She married Thomas Burrell of Dowsby (co. Linc.), but had no children. In 1708 she settled the estate at Ryhall on the heirs of Thomas. By a second marriage Thomas Burrell had a son Thomas, but he died without issue in 1763, and the estate devolved on his cousin and co-heir, the Rev. Thomas Foster, son of Jane, sister of the first Thomas Burrell. Foster sold the estate in 1800 to Michael Pierrepont, (fn. 78) who resided in 1811, when Blore wrote his history, in the old mansion house of the Bodenhams on the south side of the churchyard, which he considerably improved. He was majorcommandant oi the Militia of Rutland and had been lieut.-col. of the Rutlandshire Fencibles before their disbandment. He died in 1834.
Another property may be traced to Michael Pierrepont. By an undated charter in the possession of the Marquess of Exeter, Reynilda, daughter and heir of Simon, son of Payn de Ryhall, in her widowhood granted to her daughter Susan half her tenement in Ryhall, namely, the northern moiety of her capital messuage and half of 12 acres of land and 2½ acres of meadow and half her rents. By a later charter Susan described as daughter of Reynilda de Hundegate in Ryhall gave the same property to Maud, her daughter. This estate Blore suggests may be that afterwards held by the family of Wallett. (fn. 79) John Wallett served the office of sheriff in 1675. The Walletts' estate was conveyed in 1734 by Mary, widow of a later John Wallett, and John her son to Sarah Sutcliffe, of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, for life, with remainder to Thomas Lawrence, of Empingham, her brother, for life and with further remainder to the heirs of Sarah. The estate included a mansion house on the north of the church and an acre of land, called the Hall Yard, described as the site of the manor of Ryhall. (fn. 80) In 1749 Sarah Sutcliffe died in possession of the estate, which then passed to her nephew William Lawrence. He conveyed it in 1765 to her daughter Sarah, wife of Robert Tomblin, and her son Robert sold it in 1802 to Michael Pierrepont. (fn. 81)
Land in Ryhall and Belmesthorpe was held as a third of a knight's fee of the manor of Ryhall. In 1247 William de Coleville conveyed it to Richard Pekke. (fn. 82) Philip Basset held an estate at Ryhall in 1269, upon which the men of Roger Clifford are said to have trespassed. (fn. 83) By 1331 one half of this land was held by Henry de Sprotton and the other by Henry, son of Thomas. (fn. 84) In 1397 the two parts were held respectively by Agnes Irnhard and William Waryn. (fn. 85) Agnes appears to have been dead by 1409, but William Waryn still held his moiety at that time (fn. 86) and in 1429. (fn. 87) Waryn's holding is perhaps identical with the tenement called Warrens, which John Netelham sold in 1587 to Lord Burghley. (fn. 88)
The other half of this land may be the estate which was held later by the Burtons of Tolthorpe. Blore records that in 1375 William de Burton, Lord of Tolthorpe, held rents of assize to the value of 5s. a year at Ryhall. (fn. 89) Thomas Burton and Margaret his wife made a conveyance of the manor of Tolthorpe with land in Ryhall and Belmesthorpe in 1504, (fn. 90) and this land passed with Tolthorpe manor to the Brownes. Francis Browne died seised of it in 1603 leaving a young son John as his heir. (fn. 91) Thomas Cecil, Lord Burghley, quitclaimed a water-mill and land in Ryhall and Belmesthorpe to John Browne in 1604. (fn. 92) John Browne went out of his mind, and in 1619 was certified as unable to manage his affairs. His son Christopher was an infant. (fn. 93)
Blore states that the Brownes' estate at Ryhall consisted of about 100 acres and was in 1811 in the possession of the Earl of Pomfret in right of his wife, (fn. 94) Mary, daughter and heir of Thomas Trollope Browne, of Gretford (co. Linc.) and Besthorpe (co. Norf.). The earl died in 1830 and the countess in 1839. They had no children.
The church of ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST consists of chancel 31 ft. by 18 ft. 9 in., with vestry on the north side, clearstoried nave of three bays 39 ft. by 21 ft. 9 in., north and south aisles 15 ft. wide, south porch, and west tower 13 ft. 3 in. by 13 ft. 6 in., all these measurements being internal. The tower is surmounted by a short broach spire and the porch has an upper story. The width across nave and aisles is 57 ft. 4 in. and the total internal length of the church about 90 ft.
With the exception of the clearstory, which is of rubble, the building is faced throughout with ashlar and all the walls are plastered internally. The church which William Payn and Adanor his wife gave to the Priory of St. Andrew, Northampton, about 1108, was probably a rectangular building erected at that time covering the area of the present nave, with a small square-ended chancel. This church was, however, rebuilt early in the 13th century, when aisles were added, a new chancel built and a tower and spire erected at the west end. Of this work the nave arcades, the chancel arch, and the tower and spire still remain. Early in the 15th century the chancel was again rebuilt, the aisles widened, and the clearstory raised, and later in the century the porch was added. Externally, therefore, except for the tower and spire, the church has the appearance of a 15thcentury building, with low-pitch roofs behind straight parapets, the porch alone being battlemented. The building was restored in 1857.
The chancel is divided externally into two bays and has a moulded plinth and string and pairs of buttresses at its eastern angles; the buttresses are of two stages with triangular cusped heads, those facing east having canopied niches in the upper stages with brackets for statues. The east window is of three cinquefoiled lights with moulded jambs (fn. 95) and mullions, vertical tracery, and hood-mould with head-stops. The lateral windows, two on each side, are similar in design, but the hood-stops are varied. In the south wall is a four-centred doorway, the hood of which is formed by lifting the wall string: the nail-studded oak door is the original one. Imme- diately east of the doorway are two stepped sedilia, with moulded arches and ogee crocketed canopies, but no other medieval ritual arrangements in the chancel have survived. The vestry is apparently contemporary with or only slightly later than the chancel and stands against the middle part of the north wall, between the windows; it has an east window of two trefoiled lights and a four-centred doorway. The pointed 13th-century chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, with hood-mould on each side, springing from responds composed of large, half-round columns flanked by quarter shafts, with moulded capitals and bases. The chancel has a flat plaster ceiling; externally the hollow moulding below the parapet is enriched all round with heads, flowers, and other devices. The parapet is taken along the low-pitched east gable, behind which the modern slated roof is hipped back.
The nave arcades consist of three pointed arches of two chamfered orders, with hood-moulds, springing from cylindrical pillars and half-round responds, all with circular moulded bases. On the south side the capitals also are circular, but on the north only the western pillar has a circular capital, the others being octagonal above the bell. All the capitals on the north side are carved with early water-leaf foliage, slightly varying in design, but on the south that of the western pillar only, the capital of the other pier having more developed and boldly out-curved foliage, while those of the responds are moulded. The bases, too, vary in character, those of the four responds and of the easternmost pillar on the north side being waterholding, but the others are without hollows and stand on high square plinths. (fn. 96)
Externally the aisles are of three bays and follow the general character of the chancel, with moulded plinth and sill string, triangular-headed buttresses, (fn. 97) and enriched moulding below the parapets. The north and south doorways are in the middle bay and have four-centred arches with continuous hollow moulding; in the north doorway the moulding is enriched with large, widely spaced flowers. The north aisle is lighted by large traceried windows of three cinquefoiled lights, two in the north wall and one at the east end, similar in general character to those of the chancel, but with a battlemented transom in the tracery; at the west end is a small window of two lights placed high in the wall so as to clear the roof of a former anchorage. The same disposition of three-light windows, with a large one at the west end, obtains in the south aisle, but the tracery, though retaining the battlemented transom, is varied. The piscina and aumbry of the side altars remain in both aisles; in the north aisle the piscina is at the south end of the east wall and has a cinquefoil headed recess with fluted bowl, (fn. 98) and the oblong aumbry is in the north wall below the window. In the south aisle both aumbry and piscina are in the south wall, the former oblong, the latter with plain lancet-headed recess (fn. 99) and octofoil bowl.
The porch has diagonal buttresses with cusped triangular heads and pointed doorway of two moulded orders with elaborate cinquefoil cusping, (fn. 100) on filleted responds with battlemented capitals and moulded bases. The pointed lateral windows are of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head. The upper story slightly projects at the sides, the moulded set-off being ornamented with a series of naturalistic carvings, including a bat and a monkey. The chamber, which is lighted by a square-headed window of three lights at its south end, was at one time used as a school, (fn. 101) to which access was gained by a staircase from the churchyard in the north-east angle. (fn. 102)
The pointed clearstory windows, three on each side, are of two trefoiled lights, with pierced spandrels, and hood-moulds with head-stops. The 15th-century roofs of the nave and aisles, though restored, are for the most part original; they are of three bays with moulded principals and wall-pieces on carved stone corbels.
The tower is of three stages marked by strings, with moulded plinth and shallow clasping buttresses. There is a vice in the south-west angle. In the bottom stage, on all three sides, is a plain chamfered lancet window, that on the west being taller than the others, and in the middle stage on each side a recessed lancet of two chamfered orders, the outer one jambshafts with moulded capitals and bases, the inner enriched with nail-head. The deeply recessed bellchamber windows consist of two lancet lights, with pierced spandrel, and are of three chamfered orders, the inner constituting the heads of the lights, all on banded jambshafts with moulded capitals and bases. There is a line of dog-tooth between the outer shafts, and the top moulding of the capitals is carried round the tower as a string upon which the hood-moulds sit. The dividing shaft is attached to a mullion and is not banded. The spire (fn. 103) rises from a cornice of notchheads and has short broaches and plain angles; it is twice banded in its upper part, the lower band being enriched with dog-tooth, and has two tiers of spire lights, the principal ones, in the cardinal faces, being gabled and of two lights with shafted jambs and double line of dog-tooth. The smaller round-headed upper lights are also enriched with dog-tooth, but are now blocked. The spire terminates in a cock vane. Internally the tower opens into the nave by a pointed arch of three chamfered orders, with hood-mould on each side, springing from clustered responds similar in character to those of the chancel arch, but of greater dimensions. (fn. 104) The doorway to the vice has a round head with imposts and chamfered hood-mould. Above the tower arch is a tall, round-headed opening, now blocked. (fn. 105)
The anchorage, which was attached to the west end of the north aisle, has long been removed, (fn. 106) but the line of its roof still remains on the wall, showing that it was about 12 ft. wide. It was apparently erected some time in the 15 th century and is locally associated with the cult of St. Tibba (c. 690). The recess for the altar, with a canopied niche on its north side, and a squint through the wall directed on to the high altar still remain. (fn. 107)
The font has a plain octagonal bowl on a short, circular stem and tall moulded 13th-century base. It has an 18th-century wooden cover. The oak pulpit (fn. 108) is modern, on a stone base. The organ is at the west end of the north aisle. The royal arms of George III (before 1801) are over the tower arch.
In the floor of the chancel is the lower half of a medieval grave slab (fn. 109) with indent of a figure and inscription. On the walls are monuments to Sir William Bodenham (d. 1613), Sir Francis Bodenham (d. 1645) and his two wives (1625, 1671), Beaumont Bodenham (d. 1681), Samuel, infant son (fn. 110) of Henry Barker, vicar (d. 1696), and Thomas Harrison, D.D., vicar (fn. 111) (d. 1782). (fn. 112) In the north aisle is a memorial to sixteen men of Ryhall who fell in the war of 1914–19.
There is a ring of five bells, the first by Edward Arnold of Leicester, 1790, the second (1627), third (1626) and tenor (1633), by Thomas Norris of Stamford, and the fourth by Mears and Stainbank of London, 1867. In the ringing chamber are rhymed ringers' rules dated 1715. (fn. 113)
The plate consists of a cup of 1639–40, inscribed 'This Cupe and cover (fn. 114) doth belonge to the Parish of Riall in Rutlandshire,' and a flagon and two plates of 1781–2 given by Elizabeth Watson. (fn. 115)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1653–1729, marriages 1674–1728, burials 1663–97; (ii) baptisms and burials 1727–94, marriages 1727–53; (iii) baptisms and burials 1795–1812; (iv) marriages 1754–85; (v) marriages 1785–1812.
The advowson and rectory of Ryhall were granted to the Priory of St. Andrew, Northampton, not long after its foundation in 1084 by Simon de St. Liz. According to one authority, Payn (Paganus) made a grant to the Priory of the church of Ryhall, a mill he had built there, and a plough land, for a clerk who was to be made a monk of the Priory. This grant was confirmed, among others, in 1108 by Simon de St. Liz and Maud his wife and King Henry I, and also by Malcolm, King of Scotland, and Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln. (fn. 116) Another account states that the grant was made by William Payn and Adanor his wife and confirmed by their descendant Guy de Rahennis. (fn. 117) St. Andrew's, as a cell of the Abbey of St. Mary de Caritate upon the Loire being an alien priory, was with the rectory of Ryhall frequently in the hands of the Crown during the wars with France. The rectory was farmed from time to time by the priory, the rent in 1443 being £14 13s. 4d. (fn. 118) John Netelham or Netlam was apparently farmer of the rectory and advowson in 1503, when he presented Henry Netelham to the church. (fn. 119) In 1530 William Netelham obtained a lease of the rectory for 51 years. (fn. 120) The Priory of St. Andrews was surrendered to the Crown in 1538 and with it the rectory and advowson of Ryhall. (fn. 121) A lease in reversion of the rectory was granted to Hugh Alington in 1568, (fn. 122) but the advowson seems to have remained in the Crown. In 1544 Nicholas Wylson, S.T.P., presented, probably only for that turn, for in 1572 Queen Elizabeth presented. (fn. 123) In 1581 Edward Downynge and Peter Ashton, at the request of Sir Henry Darcy, exchanged lands in Yorkshire for the rectory and advowson of Ryhall and other property. (fn. 124) They probably conveyed their interest to the Cecils, for Sir Thomas Cecil presented in 1583 (fn. 125) and his father William Cecil, Lord Burghley, purchased the manor in the following year, but the rectory and advowson remained with Thomas Cecil, who was created Earl of Exeter and died seised in 1623. (fn. 126) It was conveyed by William, Earl of Exeter, in 1626 to Thomas Gray and others, (fn. 127) probably trustees for his daughter, Anne, and her husband Henry, Lord Grey of Groby, afterwards Earl of Stamford. Anne's son Thomas, Lord Grey, made a conveyance of the rectory in 1649, (fn. 128) and in 1651 he and his mother and father, and Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Exeter, his grandmother, were in possession of it. (fn. 129) Afterwards it reverted to the Earls of Exeter, and John Earl of Exeter presented in 1681. (fn. 130) Since that date the rectory and advowson have been held by the Earls and Marquesses of Exeter.
Thomas Bradley, by his will proved in the P.C.C. on the 10th April 1878, gave a sum of money to his trustees to be distributed among poor widows. The endowment consists of a sum of £237 9s. 2d. 2½ per cent. Consols producing in dividends £5 18s. 8d. per annum. The income is distributed among about 18 widows by the vicar and churchwardens.
Church Land.—By an inclosure award dated 23rd June 1800 a piece of land containing I acre 3 roods 25 poles lying in the Riddle Field was granted to the churchwardens and overseers. The land is now let at an annual rent of £3, which is devoted to church expenses.
Fuel Allotment.—By the same inclosure award a parcel of land was granted to the Marquess of Exeter, as Lord of the Manor, and the vicar and churchwardens in lieu of the custom of the poor of cutting and carrying away furze upon Aunby Heath. The endowment consists of land containing about 16 acres let to Mr. T. H. Woolley at an annual rent of £18. The income is distributed in coal among about 20 aged persons and 20 other approved persons.
Charles Gann, by his will proved in the P.C.C. on the 6th October 1902, bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens a sum of £200 upon trust to apply the income in renovating, beautifying and repairing the church. The endowment consists of a sum of £205 1s. 6d. India 3 per cent. stock producing in dividends £6 3s. per annum, which is applied by the trustees in accordance with the trusts.
Michael Pierrepont, by his will proved at the P.C.C. on the 6th June 1834, bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens a sum of £500 upon trust to apply the income arising therefrom in the purchase of coal to be distributed among the deserving and industrious poor. The endowment consists of a sum of £500 2½ per cent. Consols producing in dividends £12 10s. per annum. The income is distributed in coal among about 20 aged persons and 20 other approved persons by the vicar and two persons appointed by the parish council.