A History of the County of Rutland: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1935.
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Weston, Vestona (xii cent.); Weston, Weston Edith, Edweston (xiii cent.); Weston, Editheweston, Weston Edith, Edyweston, Edi Weston, Weston St. Edith (xiv cent.); Edyweston (xv cent.); Edyweston, Edith Weston (xvi, xvii, xviii cent.).
The parish of Edith Weston, which takes its name from Edith, queen of Edward the Confessor, comprises a long narrow strip of land containing 1852 acres. The land is undulating and falls from about 400 ft. above the Ordnance datum in the south-west to about 200 ft. along the River Gwash, which forms the boundary between Edith Weston and Hambleton. The river flows through Normanton Park, which extends into Edith Weston parish, up to the village. Witchley Warren and Witchley Warren Farm, at the eastern end of the parish, mark the site of 'Wichele,' which was in 1310 within the forest of Rutland. In that year the abbot of Boscherville (or Baskerville) paid 12 marks for licence to assart this waste ground of 100 acres. (fn. 1) The warren belonging to the prior of Edith Weston, is mentioned in 1376. (fn. 2) Richard Halford, in 1621, had a grant of free warren in parcels of land and pasture called Wicheley, le Cowe Close, Kittam Close, New Kirke Golding, le Towne Close, Over and Nether Spyney, and licence to inclose any part with a wall. (fn. 3)
The village is picturesquely situated on the north side of the main road from Manton to Ketton. At the roadside, in the village street, is the base and part of the shaft (21 in. high) of a cross. The church is in the middle of the village, and close to it on the north side stood the Old Hall which was pulled down in 1830. The present hall was built at that date further to the north by the Rev. Richard Lucas, from designs of Lewis Vulliamy. The building, which is in the Elizabethan style, was severely damaged by fire in 1920, but was restored in 1924. It is now the residence of Lady Cicely Hardy, widow of Lieut.-Colonel Francis Henry Hardy, J.P. A portion of the Old Hall, which was left standing in 1830, (fn. 4) abuts on to the vestry, or north quire aisle of the church. It is a 17th-century structure of two stories, with stoneslated eaved roof and a mullioned bay window on the east side: another window is blocked with brickwork.
To the north-west of the church is a plain twostory ashlar-faced house with stone-slated roof and high end gables, which is sometimes spoken of as the Old Rectory. It has low square-headed mul lioned windows with labels and a long projecting wing of rubble at the back. On one of the gables is a panel inscribed '1626. W.A.F.' (fn. 5) It was exchanged about 1860 for a farmhouse, now the Rectory.
Nothing positive is known as to the site of the monastic cell of Edith Weston. Many have assumed that it occupied the site of the Old Hall north of the church. It is more probable that it stood to the north-west of the modern Hall in the park, where there are fishponds and some signs of former buildings. (fn. 6)
EDITH WESTON was probably included at the time of the Domesday Survey in Hambleton Church soke, as one one of the seven 'berewes,' and was therefore demesne of the Crown. (fn. 7) Henry I gave Weston manor to William de Tankerville, his chamberlain, who with the king's consent bestowed it upon the abbey of St. George de Boscherville, (fn. 8) which he and his father, Ralph, had founded in Normandy. Henry I confirmed this gift in 1114 and granted to the abbey freedom from shire and hundred courts, hidage and other dues. (fn. 9) Henry II, Richard I, Henry III and Edward II also confirmed privileges to the Abbey. (fn. 10)
From time to time during the wars with France this manor, valued in 1244 at £30, (fn. 11) was taken into the king's hands and the custody was committed to various keepers. (fn. 12) These were sometimes monks of the priory of Edith Weston, which had been established as a cell of the abbey of St. George de Boscherville. Towards the end of the reign of Henry III the manor was seized by the king's officers because the prior was beyond the seas and had not done service for the manor. Occasionally the rent due from the manor to the king, while it was in his hands, was remitted to the abbot and his proctor in England. (fn. 13)
In September 1390 the prior and convent of the Carthusian house of St. Mary and St. Anne of Coventry obtained licence to acquire the manor house or priory of Edith Weston from the abbot of St. George de Boscherville. (fn. 14) The manor was at that time in the king's hands, and he remitted to the prior the rent due from it. (fn. 15) In 1404 the prior and convent of St. Anne of Coventry, for 577 marks, paid by William Dalby of Oakham, founder of the hospital of St. John the Evangelist and St. Anne of Oakham, granted in mortmain to the warden of that hospital a yearly rent of £20 with power of distraint on their lands at Edith Weston, and a payment of 100s. each time the rent was a month in arrear. (fn. 16) At the time of the Dissolution the farm of the manor was 13s. 4d., (fn. 17) and the priors were receiving a rent of £27 6s. 8d. from the farm of the rectory appropriated to them. (fn. 18)
The manor and the advowson of the vicarage were granted in June 1550 to William, Marquess of Northampton, the Great Chamberlain, 'for his late services against rebels and traitors.' A condition of the grant was that he was to continue to pay the yearly rent, then £26 13s. 4d., to the warden of the hospital of St. Anne of Oakham for the use of the poor therein. (fn. 19) The manor was bought from the Marquess in 1552 by Reginald Conyers of Wakerley (co. Northants) and his wife (fn. 20) Elizabeth, daughter of Geoffrey Chambers, who married (1) Sir Walter Stonor, (2) Reginald Conyers (d. 1560), (3) Sir Edward Griffen, attorney general, and (4) Lord St. John of Bletsoe, whom she survived. (fn. 21) The manor was settled on her death on her children by Reginald Conyers—namely, a son Francis, who died before his mother in 1572, (fn. 22) and a daughter Lucy, who married Edward Griffen of Dingley (co. Northants), son of Sir Edward Griffen, third husband of Lady St. John, by a former wife. (fn. 23) Edward Griffen appears to have sold his wife's interest in the manor before the death of her mother, Elizabeth, Lady St. John, whose refusal to make a conveyance to her daughter led to proceedings in Chancery. (fn. 24) Edward and Lucy conveyed the manor in 1586 to Walter Hastings, Sir James Harington and Sir John Harington, (fn. 25) who seem to have been acting as trustees for John Flower or Flore. (fn. 26) Soon after the purchase by Flower, the warden of the hospital of St. Anne of Oakham found it necessary to sue Flower in the Court of Requests for the rent due to the hospital. He maintained that the rent had been paid regularly until about a year before, when Flower, 'perceiving the hospital to grow weak and not able to contend in law with him,' withheld it. (fn. 27) John Flower was summoned before the Privy Council in 1582 to account for his dealings with Edward Chambers, a relative of Lady St. John (fn. 28) and 'a wandering papist and Jesuit.' Rice or Richard Griffen, son of Lady St. John by Sir Edward Griffen, was also involved in this matter, and his mother in 1581 made suit to the Privy Council for the custody of certain papers belonging to her son, who was then abroad, the papers having been found in a farmhouse at Edith Weston, when search was made there for Chambers. (fn. 29)
In 1595 Flower and Sir John Harington conveyed the manor to Elizabeth, Lady St. John, (fn. 30) possibly in consequence of the proceedings in Chancery, which may have led to a denial of Lucy's claim while her mother lived. Lady St. John and her son, Richard Griffen, who had a lease of the manor, (fn. 31) sold it in 1601 to Richard Halford, (fn. 32) son of Roger Halford of Welham (co. Leic.). (fn. 33) In 1621 Halford obtained a grant of free warren (fn. 34) and died in 1627, when the manor passed to his son Richard. (fn. 35) Thomas, a younger son, was rector of Edith Weston and died in 1648. (fn. 36) Richard, who was sheriff of Rutland in 1619 and 1631, (fn. 37) conveyed the manor in 1654 to Thomas Bradgate and Anthony Oldfield, probably as trustees. (fn. 38) He presented to the church in 1667, (fn. 39) and died in 1675 at the age of 80. (fn. 40) Charles Halford, his son and successor, presented to the church in 1683 and 1687. (fn. 41) He was sheriff of Rutland in 1665. His eldest son, Richard Halford, succeeded in 1696 and presented to the church in 1735. (fn. 42) He died in 1742, (fn. 43) and the manor passed to the Lucas family, who were benefactors to the parish. (fn. 44) Mary Lucas (by birth Halford) was patron in 1753, (fn. 45) and in 1758 Mary Lucas, widow, and Rev. Richard Lucas, clerk, made a conveyance of both manor and advowson. (fn. 46) Richard Lucas was patron in 1786, (fn. 47) when he presented his son Rev. Richard Lucas, who died in 1827 and was succeeded by his son Rev. Richard Lucas, also rector, who rebuilt the Hall and died in 1846. His son and heir Richard Lucas died in 1888 and was succeeded by his brother George Vere Lucas, who assumed the name of Braithwaite under the will of Miss Braithwaite of Stock Park, Ulverston. He died in 1895, and his son Major Ernest Lucas Braithwaite sold Edith Weston in 1904 to his nephew, Stafford Vere Hotchkin (grandson of George Vere Braithwaite). In 1913 Mr. Hotchkin sold the estate (by auction), except the Hall and Park, some of the farms being purchased by the Earl of Ancaster, who in 1921 purchased the advowson. In 1922 Mr. Hotchkin sold the Hall and Park with the lordship of the manor to Mr. F. T. Walker of Norton Lees (co. Derby) and he in 1924 sold them to Mr. T. J. Burrowes, retaining the lordship of the manor. In 1927 Mr. Burrowes sold the Hall and Park to Lieut. Col. F. H. Hardy.
The church of ST. MARY consists of chancel 28 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft. 6 in., with north and south aisles at its west end, clearstoried nave of three bays 41 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft. 3 in., north and south aisles respectively 7 ft. 3 in. and 6 ft. wide, south transept 15 ft. 9 in. by 12 ft., south porch, and west tower 9 ft. 4 in. by 8 ft. 10 in., all these measurements being internal. The tower is surmounted by a lofty spire. The width across nave and aisles is 30 ft. 9 in. The north aisle of the chancel is used as an organ-chamber and vestry.
The chancel was rebuilt in the French style of the 14th century in 1865, (fn. 48) and its aisles erected in the position of former quire aisles or chapels, which had long disappeared, but the blocked arches of which were still visible in the walls. (fn. 49) These arches were pulled down with the rest of the old chancel, but they are said to have been of 13th-century date, (fn. 50) and two moulded corbels of the same period supported by heads, together with two fluted piscina bowls, were preserved and are now in the vestry. (fn. 51) The whole of the north wall of the north aisle of the nave has also been rebuilt. The interior of the church had been repaired and reseated in 1848. The modern work is faced with coursed dressed ironstone, and the transept and tower are of ashlar, but elsewhere the walling is of rubble, plastered internally. The chancel and its aisles, the transept and porch have stone-slated roofs, but those of the nave and aisles are leaded and of low pitch. All the roofs overhang.
The earliest work in the building dates from c. 1170 and comprises the jambs or responds of the chancel arch and the east respond of the north arcade. The chancel arch itself is later and belongs to the period of the rebuilding of the chancel in the 13th century. The jambs have massive half-round responds with moulded bases and capitals with angle volutes and square hollow chamfered abaci, the space between the volutes being carved with simple conventional designs suggesting foliage. (fn. 52) On the west side the inner faces of the jambs are enriched with late star ornament, and towards the nave there are slender engaged shafts with very early stiff-leaf capitals. The capital of the northeast respond resembles those of the chancel arch, though differing slightly in detail, and one of its volutes has been cut away. The arches, pillars and western respond of the north arcade are somewhat later in character, apparently c. 1190–95, though the difference in style may not necessarily indicate that any long period of time elapsed between the beginning of the arcade at its east end and its completion. It is unlikely that a north aisle and arcade of c. 1170 existed to be followed about twenty years later by another, the probability being that the building of the aisle was interrupted soon after it was begun and not resumed till after an interval.
The north arcade consists of three rounded (fn. 53) arches with roll moulding and hood towards the nave and chamfered on the side towards the aisle, the soffits having a deep hollow between two bold round mouldings. (fn. 54) The arches spring from cylindrical pillars with well-defined water-holding bases on plinths which are octagonal above and square below, and the capitals have octagonal abaci and are carved with early incurved stiffleaf foliage which becomes more developed on the second pier and west respond. Early in the 13th century, c. 1200–10, a south aisle was added, and the existing arcade is of this date. The arches are shaped like those opposite, but are of two chamfered orders with hood-moulds on the nave side, springing from cylindrical pillars and half-round responds with circular moulded capitals and bases, the capitals of the eastern respond and adjoining pillar being enriched with nail-head. The aisle wall retains no 13th-century features, though the masonry is probably original. The chancel may have been rebuilt shortly after the completion of the aisle, but all that has survived is its western or chancel arch, which is of three chamfered orders with hood-mould on each side, the middle order being very small. Before its demolition the chancel was without buttresses, and though it apparently retained no distinctly 13thcentury features, except perhaps the capitals of its blocked lateral arches, may have been substantially of that period. (fn. 55)
During the 14th century new windows appear to have been inserted in the aisles, (fn. 56) and it is possible that the transept was then added or an older one rebuilt. On its west side the chamfered plinth stops about 2 ft. from the angle, beyond which northward there is a square rubble plinth, and the upper part of the wall is also of rubble, the ashlar facing on this side being confined to three or four courses. There is also a portion of string-course below the eaves with roughly wrought enrichments, which may be of 13th century date. It is possible, therefore, that there was a transept here in that period, or even earlier, and that it was rebuilt in the 14th century. (fn. 57) The disturbance of the masonry on each side of the existing south window shows that it is a 15th-century insertion. Internally the west wall of the transept is occupied by a wide arched chamfered recess 8 in. deep, now almost hidden by the Halford monument, (fn. 58) which springs at a height of about 4 ft. 10 in. above the floor from chamfered imposts, and has a hood-mould with notch-stops. The claim that this is a 12th-century arch reused is doubtful. (fn. 59) The transept is divided from the aisle by a pointed arch of two chamfered orders springing from the first pillar of the arcade and from a moulded corbel supported by a large notch-head on the south side. (fn. 60)
Late in the 14th century, c. 1380–1400, the tower was added, and the clearstory is little, if any, later in date. The tower is built of Barnack rag and is of four stages marked by strings, with moulded plinth and clasping angle buttresses to the top of the third stage. There is a vice or spiral staircase in the southwest angle. The pointed two-light window extends upwards for the height of the lowest stage into the stage above, the bottom stage being very short; the third stage is blank. The pointed bell-chamber windows have transoms and are of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head, and the tower terminates with a battlemented parapet, crocketed pinnacles and grotesque gargoyles at the angles. The spire is of Ketton stone, with plain angles and two tiers of lights on the cardinal faces. The tower opens into the nave by a lofty arch of two wave-moulded orders, (fn. 61) with hood-mould, the outer order continuous, the inner on half-round responds with moulded capitals and bases. (fn. 62) The doorway to the vice has a fourcentred head. The clearstory has three square-headed windows of two trefoiled lights on each side.
The present porch and south doorway apparently date from the 18th century, and the aisle window west of the porch was probably altered at the same time, or earlier; it is a plain square-headed opening of two lights, but the head-stops of the hood-mould of a former window remain above it. The outer doorway of the porch has an elliptical arch of two chamfered orders, and is provided with wooden gates; the inner doorway is square-headed, with keystone and plain jambs. The roof of the nave is largely old, but is of very plain character with moulded purlins and ridge piece.
The rebuilding of the chancel in 1865 was at the charges of the Rev. Charles Halford Lucas, rector, and is of a somewhat elaborate character with vaulted roof of Ketton stone. (fn. 63) The ridge of the roof is considerably higher than that of the nave, (fn. 64) and the quire aisles are under separate gabled roofs running north and south. Internally the walls are lined with ashlar, the eastern bay, or sanctuary, being arcaded with a series of pointed arches on banded shafts; three of the arches on the south side are recessed to form sedilia. In the west bay are wide arches opening to the aisle and vestry, the roofs of which are of wood. The east window is of three lights with geometrical tracery. (fn. 65) A gilded oak reredos (1896) designed by Mr. A. H. Skipworth, with panels (fn. 66) by Sir George Frampton, is a memorial to Rev. Charles Halford Lucas, rebuilder of the chancel.
The font is ancient, and consists of a plain rectangular bowl with slightly bevelled angles, on a solid stepped base. (fn. 67) It has a modern wooden cover (1897).
The organ is by Samuel Green, 1787, and has a welldesigned case and gilded pipes. It was formerly at the Hall, but was presented to the church in 1867 by Richard Lucas. (fn. 68)
The Halford monument, formerly against the north wall of the chancel, but now in the transept, comprises tablets to Richard Halford, 1627, Richard Halford, 1675, (fn. 69) Charles Halford, 1696, Richard Halford, 1742, and the Rev. Richard Lucas, D.D., 1789.
There are three bells: the first by Tobie Norris (I) of Stamford, 1621, the second dated 1597, and the tenor by Henry Penn of Peterborough, 1723. (fn. 70) A new clock was erected in 1920 in place of an old 'one handed clock,' believed to date from the time of the Commonwealth. (fn. 71)
The plate consists of a cup of 1608–9; a paten of 1637–8; a paten of 1736–7; an alms-dish of 1717–18, given by Richard Halford in 1718; and a flagon of 1829–30, given by Richard Lucas. (fn. 72) There is also a pewter flagon.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1585–1683; (ii) baptisms and burials 1683–1812, marriages 1683–1753; (iii) marriages 1754–1812. There are churchwardens' accounts from 1778 to 1847.
The church is not mentioned in the grants of the manor confirmed by Henry I, Henry II and Richard I, but Henry III confirmed to the abbey of St. George de Boscherville 'the land of Weston and the church.' (fn. 73) Presentations were made very frequently by the king in the 14th century during the wars with France, (fn. 74) for it was customary to retain the advowson in the king's hands when appointing a custodian of the manor. (fn. 75)
The advowson followed the descent of the manor (q.v.) until 1913, when Mr. Hotchkin reserved the advowson from the sale of the Edith Weston estate, and in 1921 sold it to the Earl of Ancaster, who is the present patron.
Edith Weston was in 1538 returned as a church appropriated to the priory of Coventry, (fn. 76) and when the manor and advowson were granted in 1550 to the Marquess of Northampton the living is described as a vicarage. (fn. 77) In 1551, when a similar grant was made to the Marquess, it included the advowson of the rectory, (fn. 78) and the living has since been a rectory.
Wing's Charity.—It appears from an inscription on the table of benefactions in the church at Edith Weston that the sum of £10 was given by Michael Wing, the interest thereof to be laid out in bread and distributed by the minister and churchwardens yearly on Easter Eve. The endowment now consists of a sum of £26 17s. 5d. 2½ per cent. Consols, producing in dividends 13s. 4d. per annum. The income, together with that of the charities of Halford, William Louth, and Humphrey Wells, is distributed by the trustees in bread and meat among 40 families in the parish.
Halford's Charity.—There is a sum of £30 which is stated in an entry in the parish register dated 1742 to have been received by the rector in full satisfaction of a legacy left by Richard Halford for the poor of the parish. The sum of £1 received as interest on the money, which is on deposit, is distributed in the manner stated under Wing's Charity.
Mary Dorothy Lucas, by her will proved in the P.C.C. on 2 October 1868, gave a sum of money to the rector and churchwardens, and directed the income to be expended in the purchase of coals to be distributed at their discretion during the winter among the poor. The endowment now consists of £161 1s. 6d. 2½ per cent. Consols, producing in dividends the sum of £4 0s. 4d. per annum. The income is expended in coal amongst 40 families.
Mary Dorothy Lucas, by the same will, give the sum of £100 to the rector and churchwardens, and directed the income to be applied in maintaining and repairing the memorial window erected by her in the church at Edith Weston. The endowment, increased by accumulations, now consists of a sum of £215 5s. 5d. 2½ per cent. Consols, producing in dividends £5 7s. 8d. per annum.
Humphrey Wells, by his will proved in the P.C.C. on 8 June 1865, gave the sum of £50 to the incumbent to be distributed among the poor. The endowment now consists of a sum of £57 6s. 2d. 2½ per cent. Consols, producing in dividends £1 8s. 4d. per annum. The income is distributed in the manner stated under Wing's Charity.
Richard Lucas, by his will proved in the P.C.C. on 8 February 1889, gave to the rector and churchwardens of Edith Weston the sum of £250, the income arising therefrom to be applied in repairing the parish church and in defraying expenses of any services connected with the church. The endowment consists of £252 8s. 10d. 2½ per cent. Consols, producing in dividends £6 6s. per annum.
William Louth during his lifetime gave the sum of £100 3 per cent. annuities, the income to be distributed among the poor. No deed or instrument declaring the trust exists, but the charity was founded more than 50 years ago. The endowment now consists of £100 2½ per cent. Consols, producing in dividends £2 10s. per annum. The income is distributed in the manner stated under Wing's Charity.