A History of the County of Rutland: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1935.
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Egleton is a small civil parish formerly included as one township with Oakham and Gunthorpe, (fn. 1) and was until recently attached ecclesiastically to Oakham, but has now been joined to Hambleton. The parish contains 923 acres of clay land, mostly laid down to grass, but there is a small amount of arable land. A stream forms the northern boundary of the parish, from which the land rises slightly and falls again to another stream in a shallow valley on the south side of the village.
The village lies about half a mile on the east side of the main road from Oakham to Uppingham and 1½ mile south-east of Oakham. It is grouped round two rough squares between the stream on the south and the church on the north, and affords a pleasing picture with its stone farms and cottages with their stone and thatch roofs. The stream on the south of the village wandered through the common fields of the parish, but when these were inclosed in 1756 provision was made for straightening its course. Amongst those who consented to the scheme for inclosure under an Act of Parliament were certain tenants of the manor holding freehold cottages, each of whom was entitled to common for a cow and five sheep in the common fields, for which they received compensation in allotments of land. (fn. 2) Worked flints of the Neolithic period have been found in the parish. (fn. 3)
EGLETON is not mentioned by name in Domesday Book in 1086, but was one of the five berewicks attached to the king's manor of Oakham (q.v.). (fn. 4) It was held by the lords of Oakham Castle and Manor, but in the 14th century was generally described as a hamlet (fn. 5) rather than a manor, and it is doubtful if it had a separate court. (fn. 6) It was called a manor in 1484 in the grant of Oakham and its dependencies to Henry Grey, Lord of Codnor. (fn. 7) In the time of Edward, Duke of Buckingham, a separate court for Egleton Manor was apparently held, and the perquisites of the court were valued after his attainder in 1521 at 6s. 6d. a year. (fn. 8) Egleton was separated from Oakham under the grant in 1528 from Henry VIII to Sir Anthony Browne and his wife Alice. (fn. 9) The grantees, however, seem to have reconveyed it to the king, and the manor remained in the Crown until Queen Elizabeth sold it in 1600 to Sir John Spencer, knt., subject to the interests of various leaseholders. (fn. 10) Sir John died seised of the manor of Egleton in 1610, and it passed to his daughter and heir Elizabeth, wife of William, Lord Compton. (fn. 11) William, Lord Compton, was created Earl of Northampton in 1618, (fn. 12) and he and his son Spencer granted it to trustees, who were certainly in seisin of the manor in 1627. (fn. 13) They apparently sold it to George, Duke of Buckingham, since it was amongst his possessions which were seized under the Commonwealth. In 1652 the Commissioners for Forfeited Lands conveyed it to Oliver Cromwell, (fn. 14) but after the Restoration the manor was recovered by the Duke of Buckingham, (fn. 15) to whom it belonged in 1684. (fn. 16) From this time it has followed the descent of the manor of Oakham Lordshold (q.v.) (fn. 17) and now belongs to Mr. Wilfred H. M. Finch.
A portion of Egleton called the HIDE appears to have been separated from the rest of the hamlet. (fn. 18) In 1300 the Hide paid 16d. a year for sheriff's aid to the lord of Oakham and a free tenant called Walter atte Hide held a messuage, a bovate of land at a rent of 13s. 4d. and did suit of court at Oakham. (fn. 19) Various other persons of the same surname appear, but it is not known if they succeeded to Walter's tenement. In 1335 William atte Hide of Egleton was a witness to a proof of age at an inquisition (fn. 20) and in 1346 he was one of the collectors of the tenth and fifteenth in Rutland; (fn. 21) in 1373–1375, John atte Hide of Egleton was controller of the works at Oakham Castle and he was living in 1397. (fn. 22)
The lords of Oakham Castle and manor held a view of frankpledge in the Hide of Egleton. (fn. 23) In 1588 Queen Elizabeth leased the view of frankpledge with the demesne lands of the manor for 21 years to Thomas Key and in 1600 she sold the reversion in fee of the lease with the manor to Sir John Spencer. (fn. 24)
In 1756 Thomas Carter, miller, owned a windmill in Egleton, with 32 perches of land in the common fields. At the inclosure of the parish, it was agreed that he should be given a holding of the same size in the common-fields of Oakham and that the Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham and his trustees, as lords of the manor and owners of the Oakham land, would undertake to move and re-erect the windmill. (fn. 25)
The church of ST. EDMUND consists of chancel 28 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft. 3 in., clearstoried nave 41 ft. 6 in. by 20 ft., south porch 8 ft. 6 in. by 12 ft. 3 in., and west tower 9 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. The tower is surmounted by a spire. There was formerly a north aisle of four bays.
With the exception of the tower, which is faced with ashlar, the building is of rubble, (fn. 26) with lowpitched leaded roofs. There are plain parapets to the chancel, but the nave roof is eaved. The walls are plastered internally.
The building dates from the 12th century, to which period the existing chancel arch and south doorway belong, together with a considerable portion of the walling of the nave. The church remained unaltered till the 14th century, when a north aisle was thrown out, an arcade with clearstory over being erected, and the tower and porch added. The chancel seems to have been rebuilt in its present form in the 15th century, and new windows were inserted in the nave. There appears to be no record of the date of the removal of the aisle, but when this took place the arcade was left standing, the arches being blocked (fn. 27) and windows inserted in the filling of the two middle bays. The spire and the two upper stages of the tower were rebuilt more than a century ago, (fn. 28) and the porch, too, appears to have been rebuilt. There was a restoration in 1872.
The semicircular chancel arch is 7 ft. 9 in. wide and of two chamfered orders, resting on large square imposts and single nook-shafts on the nave side with carved capitals and moulded bases. Both imposts and shafts are highly enriched, the former with cable, billet, cheveron and guilloche mouldings and scroll foliage, and the shafts with beaded cheverons and trellis pattern respectively. The capitals of the shafts are carved with conventional foliage and the bases have a cable moulding.
The south doorway is an equally good example of 12th-century work. It has a semicircular arch with cheveron and double-cone moulding and outer band of star pattern, springing from enriched square imposts supported on nook-shafts with carved cushion capitals. The soffit of the arch is plain and the hoodmould terminations are a beast's head and a mask. The western shaft is covered with a variety of devices (fn. 29) and that on the east with a flat zigzag pattern. (fn. 30) Within the arch is a remarkable tympanum of elaborate design, in the centre of which is a large six-limbed geometrical figure, perhaps a conventional rose, set within a circular cable border. The border also encloses a series of shallow concentric circles, and is supported by a dragon and a beast perhaps intended for a lion, both with their claws on the cable and tugging at the ends of another cable above it. On the lintel is a band of scroll foliage with cable above and a wavy line below. (fn. 31)
The chancel is divided externally into two bays by buttresses, and there is a pair of buttresses at the north-east, but none at the south-east angle. (fn. 32) There is a small priest's doorway in the south wall, and with one exception the windows have four-centred heads, hoodmoulds and cinquefoiled lights. The east window is of five lights with tracery, but the two windows on the south side and the easternmost on the north are without tracery and of three lights. The remaining two-light window is square-headed. The sills of the two south windows are lowered to form seats and in the usual position is a moulded piscina, with projecting angular grooved trough. There is a fourcentred moulded wall recess below the north-east window, and in the east wall, on either side of the altar, a plain image bracket. The roof has a plastered ceiling of four bays, between exposed tie-beams. The floor is flagged.
North of the chancel arch, at the north-east corner of the nave, is a blocked doorway to the rood loft stair and above it the opening to the loft. The lower doorway is four-centred, the upper squareheaded. There is also a squint, with plain fourcentred head, cut through the wall north of the chancel arch, directed from the former north aisle. The 15th-century oak rood screen is now in front of the tower arch. It is of three bays, with wide middle opening and traceried lower panels, and on either side are three trefoiled openings. The upper rail has a band of alternate heads and flowers. The screen has been partly restored and reduced in height.
The 14th-century arcade, now incorporated in the north wall of the nave, consists of four pointed arches of two chamfered orders with hood-moulds, on octagonal piers with moulded capitals. The inserted windows are of similar design to the threelight windows of the chancel, but the four clear- story windows are square-headed and of two trefoiled lights. The two large pointed windows on the south side of the nave, as already noted, are 15thcentury insertions. (fn. 33) That east of the porch is of four cinquefoiled lights with tracery and battlemented transom below which the lights are again cusped; the other is of three cinquefoiled lights, with the mullions continued to the head, and the transom is plain. Above the porch is a small squareheaded two-light window, like those of the clearstory opposite, but without cusping. The grotesque stone corbels which supported the earlier roof still remain in the walls of the nave. (fn. 34)
The tower is of three stages, but only the lower portion of the 14th-century structure, with a pointed west window of two trefoiled lights, remains. There is no vice, and the angles are without buttresses. The arch to the nave is of three chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner order on halfoctagonal responds with moulded capitals. The arch is blocked on the west side and a modern doorway inserted. The filling in of the internal angles of the tower is modern and exists only on the ground floor. The two modern upper stages are faced with closely jointed ashlar, and the bell-chamber windows are wide single openings with segmental heads. The tower terminates in a plain parapet with angle pinnacles. The spire has plain angles and is pierced with three tiers of small holes on its cardinal faces. There is a cock vane.
The font dates from c. 1200, and consists of a square bowl (fn. 35) on four modern legs and central shaft, set on the original chamfered plinth. The sides of the bowl are carved with a floriated Calvary cross between two discs (fn. 36) (east), a six-leaved flower or star (west), a plain Latin cross (north), and a circle, now nearly obliterated (south).
The church was reseated in 1872, but four old bench-ends with carved poppy-heads remain in the nave. The pulpit is modern. There are no monuments older than 1756. (fn. 37)
In the tower are two bells, both blank. (fn. 38)
The plate consists of a cup and cover paten of 1569–70, and a two-handled porringer of 1719–20. There are also two pewter plates. (fn. 39)
The chapel of Egleton was formerly appurtenant to the church of Oakham (q.v.). It would be included among the chapelries attached to Oakham when, in 1229, the rector, Gilbert Marshall, obtained for tenants of the church of Oakham and its chapels the privilege of being quit of suit at the shire and hundred courts and of the payment of the sheriff's aid. (fn. 40) The chapel is mentioned in 1374, 1534 and 1584. (fn. 41) The rectory of Egleton was appropriated by the Abbey of Westminster, which held the advowson of Oakham church, but the two rectories formed separate estates. In 1509 that of Egleton was leased at a rent of £6 13s. 4d. to Sir Maurice Berkeley, knt. (fn. 42) After the dissolution of the abbey, the tithes of Egleton were granted in 1542 to the short-lived cathedral church of Westminster. (fn. 43) In 1613 the rectory was apparently in the hands of Elizabeth, the wife of William, Lord Compton, (fn. 44) although it had not been included in the grant of the manor to her father, Sir John Spencer, knt. (fn. 45) It seems, however, to have been recovered by the collegiate church of Westminster, since the Dean and Chapter were the impropriators at the time of the Civil War. In 1658 the rectory was let on lease at £17 a year, which was then received by the Trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers. (fn. 46) The Dean and Chapter again recovered possession after the Restoration, and in 1756 they as impropriators of the rectory held some 39 acres of land and two-thirds of the tithes, leased for a term of 21 years to the Earl of Winchilsea. The common fields of Egleton were inclosed by an Act of Parliament in that year, and land was allotted in lieu of the tithes. (fn. 47) The chapelry is now annexed to Hambleton.
In 1547 the vicar of Oakham had only one curate to assist him, though there were several chantry priests, (fn. 48) but in the 17th century the chapel was served by a curate appointed by the vicar of Oakham. In 1658 his parishioners petitioned the Council of State for a rearrangement of the vicarage, by separating its dependent chapels, except Barleythorpe chapel. Egleton was to be united to Brooke and endowed with the vicarial tithes of both hamlets, augmented by £21 from the profits of the impropriations. It was hoped that 'the chapels of ease shall be more certainly and efficiently provided with painfull and pious ministers,' (fn. 49) but the scheme was not carried out and at the Restoration the rectory was restored to the Dean and Chapter. In 1756 the vicar of Oakham owned a third of the tithes of Egleton in right of his church and was allotted land in their place at the inclosure. (fn. 50)
The Trinity Gild in Egleton held lands in Egleton and Oakham valued, in, 1547, at 108s. 6d. a year, out of which the wardens paid rents of 29s. a year. The gild priest was old and unable to serve a cure, but he was 'a very poor man of good repute among his neighbours.' He probably helped to serve the chapel, as the parish was badly understaffed. A memorandum is appended to the certificate of the possessions of the gild, by the commissioners under the Act for the Dissolution of the Chantries, urging that the endowment of the gild should be retained to provide another priest to help the vicar of Oakham. (fn. 51) The recommendation was not accepted, and in 1549 the lands of the gild were sold to Sir Edward Warner, knt., and John Gosnold, (fn. 52) who conveyed them in the same year to Robert Harebottell. (fn. 53)
Egleton suffered from the general neglect of the chapelries of Oakham during the time of Thomas Thickpenny, vicar of Oakham (1565 to 1596). Francis Pratt was presented in 1576 for saying to Thickpenny that 'if all covetousness were lost it would be found in you priests . . . and in the chancel of Egleton.' The church was at this time served by Thomas Ashbrooke, a layman and schoolmaster at Oakham, who was licensed by the Bishop of Peterborough. He had aided in administering the Communion, which was celebrated only once a year—none 'would receive often if it were oftener ministered unto them.' Ashbrooke was ordered to desist from administering the sacrament and the vicar warned to have four celebrations a year. In 1586 it was reported 'that the vicar letteth his benefice and there is an alehouse kept upon it.' The negligence continued through the early part of the 17th century, when Zacharias Seaton, the farmer of the rectory, was presented for not keeping the chancel in repair. (fn. 54)
Nicholas Towell, by his will dated 21 December 1774, bequeathed £100, the interest to be distributed by the vicar and churchwardens to the poor. It cannot be ascertained whether the whole of the legacy was paid, but it is known that £11 was placed out at interest with a person who became insolvent. Since the year 1800 Mr. Richard Needham paid £3 11s. 6d. a year to the charity. In 1864 a Mr. Thomas Needham paid the sum of £25 to the official trustees. The endowment now consists of a sum of £27 3s. 4d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock with the Official Trustees, producing 13s. 4d. annually in dividends, which are distributed by the vicar and churchwardens amongst the poor, together with the income arising from the poor's money.
Poor's Money.—The origin of this charity is unknown. The endowment consists of a sum of £10 16s. 4d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock with the Official Trustees, producing 5s. 4d. annually in dividends.