Parishes: Biggleswade with Stratton and Holme

Pages 209-215

A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.

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Bicheleswade, Bichelesworde (xi cent.), Bykeleswade (xiii–xiv cent.), Bickleswade (xvii cent.).

Biggleswade, including the hamlets of Stratton and Holme, is a parish with an acreage of 4,647½ acres, of which 2,932 acres are arable land, 1,148½ are permanent grass, and 6½ woods and plantations. (fn. 1)

The slope of the ground is from south to west, the west of the parish, bounded by the River Ivel, being especially low-lying, and subject to floods in the immediate neighbourhood of the river. The lowest point here is only 86 ft. above the level of the sea. Toplers Hill in the south is the highest district, 249 ft. above the sea level. The Great Northern Railway main line passes through the parish, and has a station in the town of Biggleswade. The Roman road to the north also traverses the parish, running northwards from Baldock. The town of Biggleswade itself is concentrated in the west central part of the parish. Stratton, a scattered hamlet, lies a mile and a half to the south-east of the town, Holme a mile to the south. In the north lies Biggleswade Common. The Roman road, leaving Bleak Hall to the south soon after it enters the parish, passes through the hamlet of Stratton, which takes its name from its position. A branch road on the north leads to Stratton Park, lying in 160 acres of beautifully-wooded grounds. The main road approaches the town of Biggleswade from the east, and at the entrance to the town divides into two branches, one taking a westerly direction, and going on to Moggerhanger, while the other passes along the outskirts of the town on the east, and goes on to Potton.

Another road leading from Langford in the south passes straight through the hamlet of Holme, entering the town of Biggleswade at the south-west. On the west of the road at the north end of the hamlet lies Scroop's Farm, an interesting reminder of the Scroops, who in the early fourteenth century were manorial lords here. A path here leads down to the river past the moat and Holme Mills.

The town of Biggleswade is built round a large oblong market-place from which the main streets radiate, Shortmead Street running westward to the church and thence north, and crossing the Ivel by a bridge on the outskirts of the town, where it joins a branch of the Great North Road; Hitchin Street, running south; and High Street, running east to the London Road. In the south-west of the town there is a second bridge over the Ivel. The principal house in the parish is Stratton Park, a modern house about two miles south-east of the town.

The town was much damaged by fire in the eighteenth century; a note in the registers of June, 1785, records the destruction of 103 houses in five hours, which would suggest a predominance of half timber and plaster buildings.

There are no domestic buildings of special interest, though the town can boast its fair share of the eighteenth-century red-brick fronts and doorways which form the chief attractions of so many country places, and as usual there are a few older timber buildings. The bridge over the Ivel at the northeast is mediaeval, of three pointed arches, and very probably the subject of Bishop Dalderby's indulgence of 1302, which was designed to promote the building or repair of Biggleswade bridge. (fn. 2)

At the east end of the market-place is the Town Hall, a rather unattractive stone building dating from 1814, and at the west end is the principal inn, 'The Swan,' with a picturesque yard behind it.

The parish church stands in a large churchyard on the west side of the town, and its tower, though of no great height, forms a landmark for some distance, owing to the flatness of the surrounding country.

Ancient British coins of gold (inscribed), silver, copper and brass, have been found in this parish. (fn. 3) Traces of ancient earthworks are to be found at Holme in the form of a small square moat, about 100 ft. each way, with a circular raised platform in the centre, and several detached traces of moat lines in the fields near. (fn. 4) In 1547 Biggleswade contained 440 'houselyng' people, (fn. 5) and the population at the last census was 5,120.

The following place-names have been found in this parish: le Nezerhalke, Barleslade, and Ashwelleweye in the fourteenth century; (fn. 6) Helolme, Lyncroft, Lovelayeslane, Hungerhill, Crouchewey, Conyesfurlong, Overfoxehale, Mitlylmere, le Prestysbrade, Remededyche in the fifteenth; (fn. 7) Spectacles or Spectlacon, Bushopps, Radwells Hook, Pittholme, Colgrene, Jacklynsholm, Stows, Barleslade, Saltwell, Holmfanne in the seventeenth. (fn. 8)


Previous to Domesday BIGGLESWADE MANOR was held by Archbishop Stigand, but at the time of the Domesday Survey it belonged to Ralph de Lisle, who held it of the king in chief, and was assessed at 10 hides. (fn. 9) Ralph de Lisle did not retain permanent possession, for in 1132 Henry I granted Biggleswade manor to Alexander bishop of Lincoln and his successors as an endowment for the cathedral. (fn. 10) The bishop of Lincoln rendered feudal service for this manor, assessed at half a knight's fee, to the king in 1284, (fn. 11) and in 1329 Bishop Henry received a charter of free warren here. (fn. 12)

Diocese of Lincoln. Gules two leopards or and a chief azure with Our Lady sitting therein and holding the Infant Saviour.

In 1547 Henry Holbeche, then bishop, transferred Biggleswade manor to Edward VI in exchange for other lands, and it thus became crown property. (fn. 13) It was leased in the time of Henry VIII to William Steward for a certain term of years, which was still running in 1575. (fn. 14) In 1604 it became part of the jointure of Queen Anne wife of James I, (fn. 15) and at a later date of Henrietta wife of Charles I. (fn. 16) In 1689 Lord Carteret was holding the manor (fn. 17) by lease; and in 1772 Robert, Earl Granville, became lessee for thirty-one years at a yearly rental of £26 19s. 7d. (fn. 18) Shortly after the expiration of this lease Biggleswade manor was sold, in 1807, to Sir Francis Willes for £2,180. (fn. 19) He died in 1827, when he bequeathed the manor to Peter Harvey Lovell, whose representative Francis Lovell is at the present day lord of the manor. (fn. 20)

Amongst under-tenants of the bishops of Lincoln the name of Le Blunt or Blundell occurs frequently. Simon Blundell and Emma his wife held lands and rents in Biggleswade in 1276, (fn. 21) and some years later William Blundell was holding there. (fn. 22) An inquisition taken at the death of Alan Blundell in 1304 shows that he held land here of the bishop of Lincoln (fn. 23) in 1334, and his son John died seised of 50 acres of land in Biggleswade held in the same manner. (fn. 24)

In the fifteenth century the Enderbys also were tenants of the bishop. Maud Bothe, widow of John Enderby, held 10 messuages and 200 acres of land as of Biggleswade manor in 1474, (fn. 25) and her son Richard Enderby held six messuages and land of the bishop in 1488. (fn. 26)

There are four entries concerning the hamlet of STRATTON in the Domesday Survey. Ralph de Lisle, lord of Biggleswade manor, held a manor assessed at 4 hides, which had formerly belonged to Archbishop Stigand. (fn. 27) This manor appears to have become absorbed in Biggleswade, and passed with it to the bishop of Lincoln, who in 1284 held half a fee in Stratton as part of Biggleswade manor. (fn. 28) A second holder was the Countess Judith, who held 3½ virgates which afterwards became STRATTON MANOR. (fn. 29) It formed part of the honour of Huntingdon, and on its subdivision among the co-heirs of John earl of Huntingdon, the overlordship of Stratton fell to Ada his youngest sister, and, like Potton Bur detts (q.v.), passed by her marriage with Henry Hastings into the possession of the earls of Pembroke. (fn. 30)

Lt Scor. Or three piles gules.

Hastings. Or a sleeve gules.

No connexion has been found between the undertenant, Fulk of Paris, mentioned in Domesday, and William Rixband, who was holding in Stratton as early as 1231, (fn. 31) and whose family continued to hold this manor, for in 1322 Margaret Rixband, presumably a descendant, enfeoffed William Latimer of her manor in Stratton. (fn. 32) From this date the manor appears to have followed the same descent as Potton Burdetts (q.v.), (fn. 33) until Elizabeth Latimer brought Stratton as dower to her husband Robert de Willoughby. Before his death in 1397 the manor had been leased for a rent of £10 per annum to Richard Enderby and Alice his wife, and they appear subsequently to have acquired the full possession of the manor, for John Enderby their son held the manor at his death in 1457. (fn. 34) Maude, his widow, subsequently married Robert Bothe, and at her death in 1474 the manor passed to Richard Enderby, her son by her first marriage, (fn. 35) who died in 1487, (fn. 36) when his son John acquired the manor, and died in 1509 leaving an only daughter, Eleanor, as heiress. (fn. 37) She married Francis Pygott, and an inquisition taken at the death of their son Thomas Pygott in 1581 states that he, 'having cause to mislike the marriage of their eldest son Michael with Margaret, daughter of one Gill,' settled the manor of Stratton on his son Lewis and heirs male, with remainder settlement to a younger son John. (fn. 38) Seven years later Lewis and John alienated the manor to Sir Edmund Anderson, chief justice of the Queen's Bench. (fn. 39) The Andersons of Eyworth (q.v.) continued to hold the manor until the death of Edmund Anderson in 1639, (fn. 40) whose daughter and sole heiress married Sir John Cotton. (fn. 41) In 1764 the manor of Stratton was purchased of the relatives of Sir John Cotton, last heir male of the family, by the trustees of Curtis Barnett, who had died in 1746 at Fort St. David, and it is held at the present day by Mr. Barnett, a representative of the same family. (fn. 42)

Cotton. Azure a cheveron between three hanks of cotton argent.

There are seven entries in Domesday, amounting in all to 6 hides 3½ virgates of land, relating to the hamlet of HOLME. Two of these holdings became, by the thirteenth century, absorbed in neighbouring manors. The first was the manor of 2 hides held by Ralph de Lisle, lord of Biggleswade manor in 1086, (fn. 43) which by 1284 had become absorbed in Biggleswade. (fn. 44) The second property was the hide of land held by Walter the Fleming at the time of the Survey, (fn. 45) which subsequently became appurtenant to Langford manor. (fn. 46) Another holder in Holme at the Survey was the Countess Judith, of whom Fulk of Paris held 3½ virgates. (fn. 47) This property, which never attained the status of a manor, followed the same descent as Sutton (q.v.), and after the fifteenth century no further trace is found of it. (fn. 48)

Barnett. Or a saltire sable with a leopard's head sable in the chief.

Other holders in Holme were Nigel de Albini, of whom Fulk of Paris held half a hide, (fn. 49) of which one further mention is found in the thirteenth century, when Richard Cosyn held I hide in Stratton and Holme of the honor of Ralph St. Amand and Isabella de Albini. (fn. 50) Alwyn, a king's bailiff, held 1½ hides of the king in Holme, (fn. 51) which reappears in the thirteenth century as the hide which Ivo Quarel held of the king in serjeanty. (fn. 52) Hugh de Beauchamp owned a virgate, which was held of him by Mortuing. (fn. 53) This land appears to have been granted by them to the abbot of Abingdon, who in 1236 had a dispute with Geoffrey de Beauchamp concerning free tenements which he held of him in Holme and Stratton. (fn. 54) In 1346 Richard de Milnho held one-tenth of a knight's fee of the abbot of Abingdon in Stratton. This fee, which had formerly been held by Roger de Milnho, probably represents the ancient Beauchamp holding, of which no further trace has been found. (fn. 55)

William d'Eu also held a small estate of 3 virgates in Holme at the time of the Domesday Survey, (fn. 56) which disappears after the beginning of the fifteenth century, until which time it appears to have followed the same descent as Edworth (q.v.). (fn. 57)

The Holme portion of HOLME WITH LANGFORD MANOR, of which the history is given in Langford parish, consisted of land in this hamlet of which Henry le Scrope died seised in 1337, (fn. 58) whose son Richard le Scrope in 1398 granted all his lands in Holme and Langford to Richard II, who immediately transferred them to the abbey and convent of Westminster. (fn. 59)

Scanty reference has been found from the fifteenth century onwards to ESTONS MANOR in Holme belonging to the family of Eston. In 1484 Thomas Eston and Christina his wife conveyed this so-called manor by fine to William Finderne and others under trust for re-conveyance. (fn. 60) Some years later, in 1516, Richard Eston, probably a son of Thomas, died seised of lands and tenements in Holme, (fn. 61) leaving a son Thomas aged six, who in 1549 did homage at the Biggleswade court for a messuage and a virgate of land inherited from his father. (fn. 62) The latter history of this property may be inferred from an extract from a Biggleswade Manor Court Roll (c. 1660) by which customary lands which had formerly belonged to Thomas Eston, then to William Plomer, were transferred by Sir Edward Alford and others to Erasmus de la Fontaine. (fn. 63) No further mention of this property has been found.

Scrope. Azure a bend or.

Westminster Abbry. Gules St. Peter's keys crossed or.

Ralph de Lisle owned two mills in his manor of Biggleswade which were worth 47s. at the time of Domesday. (fn. 64) In 1611 these mills were separated from the manor and granted to Edward Ferrers and Francis Philips. (fn. 65) Stratton manor appears to have had a water-mill attached to it in 1436, in which year John Enderby conveyed it to John Broughton and other trustees. (fn. 66) There was a free fishery in the waters of Biggleswade manor during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (fn. 67)

Biggleswade is an ancient BOROUGH by prescription which has never received a charter of incorporation or returned members to Parliament. Small but undoubted traces of Roman remains have been discovered, (fn. 68) and the early importance of Biggleswade as an agricultural centre was probably owing to its favourable position on the Roman road to the north. The earliest mention that has been found of burgage tenure is in 1247, when Sewel de Haswell alienated a burgage to Henry le Sweyn. (fn. 69) In 1293 the burgesses of Biggleswade claimed from Bishop Sutton the right of leaving their burgages by will by a certain charter which granted them 'liberties and customs which are observed in other boroughs.' The bishop ordered an inquiry into the validity of such claim, the result of which does not appear. (fn. 70)

Biggleswade was a mesne borough which grew up under the protection of the bishop of Lincoln, to whom the manor was granted in 1132 by Henry I. (fn. 71) In 1547 it passed by exchange into the possession of the crown, (fn. 72) and subsequently was held with the manor (q.v.) by the stewards. There were two courts baron belonging to Biggleswade, one of which was for the borough and the other a forinsec court for dealing with the district outside the borough; (fn. 73) there were also courts leet held twice a year, (fn. 74) kept by the steward of the manor to whom a yearly fee was paid, which in 1649 was 26s. 8d. (fn. 75) There was also a reeve elected by tenants with the consent of the lord for the collection of rents, who received 14s. per annum, and a beadle who received 7s. (fn. 76) The burgage tenants paid 4d. on descent or alienation of land as a fine to the lord of the manor, and the rents of assize within the manor in 1649 amounted to £22 6s. o½d. (fn. 77) The borough courts were held as late as 1670, at which date Biggleswade formed part of the possessions of the dowager queen Henrietta Maria. (fn. 78) In 1830 a contemporary writer says of Biggleswade, 'In ancient records it is called the borough and foreign of Biggleswade, and it hath now its bailiwick or franchise to which the tolls of the market and fairs are payable. The present proprietor is Mr. Simeon Sill.' (fn. 79) Biggleswade has always been an agricultural centre owing to its favourable position and its early privileges as a market town. In 1227 Henry III confirmed a market to Bishop Hugh, which was granted by King John to be held freely and without interruption, (fn. 80) and in the fourteenth century the bishops of Lincoln successfully claimed a Monday market. (fn. 81) This market was again confirmed by Henry VIII in 1528, (fn. 82) and when in 1547 the manor passed to the crown the right to hold a market continued to be attached to it. Thomas Margetts in 1662 petitioned successfully to have the market day altered from Monday to Wednesday, (fn. 83) on which day a market is still held.

The bishops of Lincoln also held from the earliest times at least one fair annually in Biggleswade. In 1228 its date was altered from the Feast of the Assumption (15 August) to Holy Cross Day (14 September). (fn. 84) This fair was confirmed to the bishop in 1528, and in addition two other yearly fairs of three days' duration were granted to be held on the Feasts of St. Mary Magdalene (22 July) and of Sts. Simon and Jude (28 October). (fn. 85) Edward Ditchfield, as lessee of the manor, received other fairs on Whit Monday and the Feast of the Purification (2 February) in 1631, (fn. 86) and Camden notes Biggleswade as famous for its horse fair and its stone bridge. (fn. 87) Defoe's Tour styles it 'one of the greatest markets in England for barley.' At the present day five fairs, corresponding to these various grants, are held on 14 February, Saturday in Easter week, Whit Monday, 27 September, and 8 November.

The straw-plait trade formed one of the staple industries of Biggleswade from the eighteenth century, but with the recent introduction of foreign plait it has now completely died out. (fn. 88) Early in the nineteenth century white thread lace and edging were manufactured here, but this industry has also disappeared. Market gardening is, however, an important modern development in this parish.


The church of ST. ANDREW consists of a chancel 54 ft. by 23 ft. 4 in., with modern north vestry and organ chamber; nave 52 ft. 6 in. by 21 ft. 2 in. with north aisle 15 ft. 9 in. wide and south aisle 18 ft. 4 in.; western tower 15 ft. 3 in. by 16 ft., and south porch. The earliest part of the church appears to be at the west end of the nave, where the eastern arch of the tower shows details of c. 1300, and is flanked by buttresses which show signs of the rake of an earlier roof to the nave. These buttresses are set symmetrically with the centre line of the tower and not with that of the present nave, the arcades of which date from the fifteenth century. On the buttresses abutting the tower arch remains of a raking weather mould can be seen from the aisles, and give evidence to the pitch of a former nave roof of earlier date than the present arcade.

No other features in the nave are earlier than 1340, to which date the south doorway and a blocked window to the west of it belong. A south aisle, and probably a north aisle, were in existence at this time, but with the destruction of the older arcade or arcades, and remodelling of the aisles in the fifteenth century, their history has been lost. The chancel is recorded to have been rebuilt between 1467 and 1481, by John Ruding, archdeacon of Bedford, but its details suggest a date nearly a hundred years earlier, and it is probable that the rebuilding was rather a remodelling of older work. Fisher (fn. 89) gives a drawing of a misericorde seat with a crescent between five scallops, evidently part of Ruding's work. There have been modern restorations in 1832 and 1884, and the tower was rebuilt in 1720, its east wall alone being preserved. The chancel has an east window of seven lights in fifteenth-century style, the stonework being modern. On the south are three three-light windows in late fourteenth-century style, much repaired, and below them is a contemporary moulded string course. At the south-east of the chancel is a piscina and three sedilia, also of the same period; none of this work can be so late as the recorded rebuilding of 1467. There are no old features in the north wall, against which a modern vestry and organ chamber are built. The chancel arch of two moulded orders is of the same date as the south windows and has a pointed relieving arch above it. The nave arcades are of four bays, c. 1450, with moulded arches of two orders, and piers of engaged half-round shafts and half-octagonal moulded capitals. Above is a clearstory with four three-light squareheaded windows on each side, c. 1500. The east window of the north aisle is of four lights with late fifteenth-century tracery, and now opens to the organ chamber. In the north wall are two similar windows, and near the west end of the aisle a doorway, the external stonework of which has been renewed. The west window of the aisle is of clumsy Gothic detail inserted in a wider opening and is comparatively modern. In the south aisle the east window is of four lights of late fifteenth-century detail. In the south wall are two three-light windows, and to the west of them a fourteenth-century south doorway opening into a late fifteenth-century porch with stone-vaulted ceiling and a parvise reached by a stair at the south-west, and lighted by a three-light south window. At the south-east of the porch is a contemporary opening, formerly a window, but now cut down to make a doorway. West of the porch and blocked by the parvise stair is an early fourteenthcentury window of which only the rear arch is now visible, and the west window of the aisle is of late fifteenth-century detail. The internal doorway to the parvise stair remains, blocked with masonry. The only old roof is that over the south aisle, which is of the fifteenth century, with moulded timbers and carved bosses showing traces of colouring; on the eastern boss is a pelican. All the wooden fittings of the church are modern except the south door, which is of the fifteenth century, (fn. 90) and the door to the rood stair at the north-east angle of the south aisle, also of the fifteenth century with tracery panels, and an openwork iron lock-plate which has been backed with red leather. At the south-east angle of the north aisle is a plain piscina, and in the south aisle there is a squareheaded recess in the east wall, and a restored fourteenth-century piscina at the south-east.

The tower which, as has been said, was rebuilt in 1720, is of three stages, with an embattled parapet, and a staircase at the north-east angle. The belfry windows are four-centred and of very plain detail, and the west window on the ground stage is modern, copied from the south windows of the chancel. There is a small blocked doorway in the south wall, and the traces of the abutment of the former south wall can be seen on the south-east buttress, showing that the former tower was wider than the present.

The font at the west end of the nave has a plain bowl on an octagonal panelled stem with emblems of the crucifixion carved on it. Against the north wall of the chancel is a modern stone slab in which are set fragments of the fine brass of John Ruding, archdeacon of Bedford, 1481, a small drawing of the complete brass hangs on the wall, showing its former arrangement. (fn. 91) The figure stood under a canopy with a small figure of death on the right side and an inscription below in lines alternately incised and in raised letters on an enamelled background, and a long marginal inscription went round all four sides of the stone. A considerable part of this is still preserved. Scallops and crescents, being charges from the arms of Ruding, occur in the inscription and on the slab. There is also a head of St. John Baptist on the charger, supported by angels; he was no doubt the archdeacon's patron saint. There is also a brass to William Halsted, 1449, and his two wives, Isabel and Alice.

There are five bells, the first four by Thomas Russell of Wooton, 1721, and the tenor by Taylor of St. Neots, 1806.

The plate consists of a communion cup of 1781, a paten and flagon of 1842, and a second chalice of 1870 with a paten of 1868, both presented in 1876.

The first volume of the registers contains burials and baptisms from 1697 to 1765. The second contains marriages from 1754 to 1789.


The rectory to which the advowson of the vicarage is attached was formerly annexed to a prebend in Lincoln Cathedral. In 1132, together with Biggleswade manor (q.v.) it was granted to the bishops of Lincoln, (fn. 92) and in 1535 the vicarage was worth £10. (fn. 93) In 1837 the archdeaconry of Bedford, hitherto in the Lincoln diocese, was transferred to Ely, whose bishop now holds the right of presentation to Biggleswade. (fn. 94)

There appears to have been a chapel in Stratton in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In 1317 Thomas de Northfleet, canon of St. Paul's, left money for the repair of the chapel of St. Mary. (fn. 95) John Enderby left alms in 1457 for masses for his soul to be said in Stratton Chapel, (fn. 96) and in 1473 Maud his widow obtained a licence to found a chantry at the altar of St. Mary in the chapel of Stratton for the souls of John Enderby and others. (fn. 97)

Diocese of Ely. Gules three crowns or.

The church of St. John the Baptist in the north of the town, designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield, is a building of brick, erected in 1883.

There are in Biggleswade at the present day Strict Baptist, Baptist, Wesleyan, and Primitive Methodist chapels, and a meeting-place for the Salvation Army. There are also a council and two non-provided schools.

In 1475 the bishop of Lincoln received a licence to found a fraternity or gild to be called the Gild of the Holy Trinity, (fn. 98) whose object was to provide a priest to say a daily mass in the church of St. Andrew, Biggleswade, 'for the good estate of the said King (Edward IV) and Queen, the soul of the late Duke of York, father of the king, and all the brothers and sisters of the said guild.' (fn. 99) At the Dissolution its value was £7, but in 1547 it was found no longer to fulfil the purposes for which it was established, and was abolished. (fn. 100)


Charity of Sir John Cotton, bart., known as the Flitwick Charity. In 1726 Sir John Cotton, bart., by his will, directed (inter alia) that a sum of £1,800 should be laid out in the purchase of freehold lands, and that out of the rents and profits two-ninths thereof should be paid to the vicar of St. Notes, county of Huntingdon, two-ninths to the rector of Conington in the same county, one-ninth to the vicar of Biggleswade, as augmentations of their respective benefices, twoninths to the schoolmaster in the township of Holme (in the ancient parish of Glatton, Huntingdonshire), and two-ninths to the schoolmaster in Biggleswade for the instruction of children in the principles of the Christian religion as practised in the Church of England.

By the direction of the Court of Chancery an estate in the parish of Flitwick in the county of Bedford was purchased in 1752, the rental value of which is about £200 a year. The official trustees hold (1906) a sum of £53. 15s. 11d. consols, towards replacement of a sum of £375, borrowed in 1897, for enlargement of the farm-house.

By an order made under the Board of Education Act, 1899, two-ninths of the net yearly income has been assigned for purposes of education under the title of Sir John Cotton's Educational Foundation (Holme), and the same proportion under the title of Sir John Cotton's Educational Foundation (Biggleswade). The other proportions are duly applied for their respective objects of trust.

Robert Braynforth (as appeared from the Table of Benefactions), by his will, date unknown, charged certain land in Distaff Lane, in the parish of St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, London, with the yearly sum of £10 for the use of the poor of the town and parish. The rentcharge was redeemed by the payment into court of £333 6s. 8d. consols, which sum was, in or about the year 1898, with the consent of the court re-invested, with other monies advanced for the purpose (since replaced out of income), in the purchase of a groundrent of £15 a year, payable out of No. 215, London Road, Croydon, belonging to a society known as 'The Institute Building Society.'

The income is distributed in money to the poor inhabitants on St. Thomas's Day in sums of 10d. to each recipient.

The Table of Benefactions also showed that John Wright, by his will, date unknown, gave the sum of £4 a year, payable out of a house in the Market Place, to be distributed among such poor people as should live in the parish. The property charged now consists of shops and a house in the Market Place, of which Mr. A. J. Brookbanks is the owner. The charity is distributed at the same time and in the same manner as the last-mentioned charity.

It also appeared, from the same table, that the Rev. E. B. Frere, vicar of the parish, deposited £52 10s. in the Savings Bank in trust for the poor for ever. The gift is now represented by £51 10s. 6d. consols, with the official trustees, and the dividends, amounting to £1 5s. 8d., are distributed in bread.

In 1795 Jane Brooks, by her will, proved in the Archdeaconry Court of Huntingdonshire, on 24 January, 1797, bequeathed £160 to trustees upon trust to invest the same and to apply the income for the benefit of poor people of the respective parishes of Hinxworth and Baldock in the county of Hertford, Biggleswade and Stotfold in the county of Bedford, in equal fourth-part shares for distribution in bread amongst the most necessitous poor of the respective parishes.

The legacy was, in 1833, laid out in the purchase of two contiguous pieces of land known as the Great Mill Field and the Little Mill Field, in the parish of Stocking Pelham in the county of Hertford, containing together 7 a. 3 r. 18 p.

By an order of the Charity Commissioners of 2 April, 1889, the churchwardens were appointed trustees of the charity. The rent, amounting after deductions for tithes, &c., to £4 9s. 8d. is applied in the distribution of loaves.

In 1808 George Herbert, by his will, bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens £300 in trust to distribute the income in monthly portions at the times of distributing the sacrament-money to poor inhabitants of the parish usually attending divine service. The legacy is represented by £393 8s. 10d. consols, with the official trustees. The dividends, amounting to £9 16s. 8d., are distributed in gifts of 1s. monthly to communicants.

Mrs. Elizabeth Meen, by her will, proved in the P.C.C. on 13 May, 1840, left £200 upon trust to be invested and the income applied for the benefit of that class of poor widows of the town of Biggleswade upon St. Thomas's Day in every year for which a collection had usually been made. The legacy is represented by £217 7s. 10d. consols with the official trustees, the dividends of which, amounting to £5 8s. 8d., are applied by the vicar and churchwardens in the distribution of bread.

National and Infant Schools (see above, 'Schools'). In 1755 Edward Peake, by will, gave a house and 2 roods of land, situate at Holme, and an annual sum of £13, charged on other premises at Holme, for purposes of education; this sum, together with £2 3s., the rent of the house and land, is applied for the benefit of these schools.

See also Sir John Cotton's Charity, abovementioned.


  • 1. Returns of the Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. a Linc. Epis. Reg. Dalderby, 46.
  • 3. V.C.H. Beds. i, 173.
  • 4. Ibid. i, 308.
  • 5. Chant. Cert. Beds. 1, No. 27.
  • 6. Anct. D. (P.R.O.), C. 3003.
  • 7. Ibid. C. 1080, 1183, 2201, 2836.
  • 8. Ibid. C. 1295; Pat. 18 Eliz. pt. 13; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lx, No. 57; Add. Chart. 35251.
  • 9. V.C.H. Beds. i, 256a.
  • 10. Dugdalc, Mon. vi, 1271.
  • 11. Feud. Aids, i, 4; Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 243.
  • 12. Chart, R. 3 Edw. III, No. 46.
  • 13. Pat. 1 Edw. VI, pt. 5.
  • 14. Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), bdle. 170, No. 6; Pat. 18 Eliz. pt. 13.
  • 15. Ibid. 1 Jas. I, pt. 20.
  • 16. Ct. R. bdle. 153, No. 11. Court Rolls, both foreign and borough, exist of courts held in the name of Henrietta between 1640 and 1670. At a court held in 1660 a certain Helen was presented as an eavesdropper, and one making dissension among her neighbours, and was amerced 2s.
  • 17. Feet of F. Beds. Hil. 1 Will. and Mary.
  • 18. Rep. of Crown Lands, 1787–92, i, 1.
  • 19. Gent. Mag. 1830, pt. 2, p. 19.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. Feet of F. Beds. 4 Edw. I.
  • 22. Ibid. 2–3 Edw. II.
  • 23. Chan. Inq. p.m. 32 Edw. I, No. 9.
  • 24. Ibid. 7 Edw. III, No. 23.
  • 25. Ibid. 13 Edw. IV, No. 45.
  • 26. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, 125.
  • 27. V.C.H. Beds. i, 250a.
  • 28. Feud. Aids, i, 3.
  • 29. V.C.H. Beds. i, 258. Of the o'her two Domesday holders, Walter the Fleming held 1 hide 1½ virgates of land which formed part of his manor of Langford, (ibid. i, 250a), and Walter Giffard had 1 hide 1½ virgates, of which no further trace has been found in Stratton, but which is probably to be found in a holding under the same overlordship in Holme; V.C.H. Beds. i, 232.
  • 30. Feud. Aids, i, 4, 23; Cal. of Close, 1313–18, p. 388; Chan. Inq. p.m. 10 Edw. II, No. 48; 4 Ric. II, No. 35; 5 Ric. II, No. 35; 12 Ric. II, No. 40; 20 Ric. II, No. 54; 13 Edw. IV, No. 46; 3 Hen. VII, No. 286; (Ser. 2), cxciii, No. 90; Ivi, No. 199. In the last inquisition, dated 1616, the manor was stated to be held of the king in chief.
  • 31. Feet of F. Beds. 16 Hen. III, No. 18.
  • 32. Ibid. 15 Edw. II, No. 3; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 76.
  • 33. References as in Note 29.
  • 34. Add Chart. 35245; Chan. Inq. p.m. 20 Ric. II, No. 54. In this inquisition the jurors state that at the death of Robert de Willoughby he was not seised of this manor.
  • 35. Add. Chart. 35237–45.
  • 36. Chan. Inq. p.m. 13 Edw. IV, No. 46; (Ser. 2), iii, No. 39.
  • 37. Ibid. (Ser. 2), xxv, No. 154.
  • 38. Ibid, xcv, No. 1; cxciii, No. 90.
  • 39. Feet of F. Beds. Hil. 30 Eliz; Pat. 30 Eliz. pt. 8.
  • 40. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxciv, No. 107; lvi, No. 199; ccclxii, No. 188; cccclxxxvii, No. 175; Recov. R. Mich. 4 Chas. I, R. 84; Feet of F. Div. Cos.; East. 13–15 Chas. I.
  • 41. His grandfather, Sir Robert Cotton, had collected the famous library which his grandson presented to the nation.
  • 42. Recov. R. East. 1652, Trin. 1653; Hil. 3 Anne; East. 12 Geo. II; Trin. 7 Geo. III; Feet of F. Beds. Trin. 1653; Hil. 28 Geo. III. Lysons, Magna Brittannia, i, 57.
  • 43. V.C.H. Beds. i, 256a.
  • 44. Feud. Aids, i, 4.
  • 45. V.C.H. Beds, i, 250b.
  • 46. Feud. Aids, i, 4.
  • 47. V.C.H. Beds. i, 258a.
  • 48. Feud. Aids, i, 4; Cal. of Pat. 1313–17, p. 222; 1422–9, p. 455; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 77.
  • 49. V.C.H. Beds. i, 245b.
  • 50. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 250b.
  • 51. V.C.H. Beds. i, 264a.
  • 52. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 243b.
  • 53. V.C.H. Beds. i, 241b.
  • 54. Close, 20 Hen. III, m. 10d.
  • 55. Feud. Aids, i, 23.
  • 56. V.C.H. Beds. i, 233a.
  • 57. Feud. Aids, i, 23, 37; Chan. Inq. p.m. 35 Edw. I, No. 14; 22 Ric. II, No. 101.
  • 58. Chan. Inq. p.m. 10 Edw. III, No. 47. He held of three overlords— a messuage, 80 acres of land and 2 acres of meadow of Sir John de Moubray; 20 acres of William le Latimer, by service of 3s.; a curtilage and 8 acres of the bishop of Lincoln, of 5s. o¼d. yearly.
  • 59. Chart. R. 21–3 Ric. II, m. 74, No. 7; Westm. MSS. bdle. 5.
  • 60. Feet of F. Beds. 2 Ric. III. The manor was warranted to them against John abbot of St. Peter, Westminster, who had obtained very extensive privileges in Holme by charter of 1399.
  • 61. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xi, No. 2.
  • 62. Ct. R. portf. 153, No. 9.
  • 63. Westm. Abbey, MSS. Ct. R.
  • 64. V.C.H. Beds, i, 256a.
  • 65. Pat. 8 Jas. I, pt. 33, No. 6.
  • 66. Add. Chart. 35242.
  • 67. Pat. 18 Eliz. pt. 13; 4 Chas. I, pt. 33.
  • 68. See above, p. 6.
  • 69. Feet of F. Beds. 31 Hen. III, No. 28.
  • 70. Line. Epis. Reg.
  • 71. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 1271.
  • 72. Pat. 1 Edw. VI, pt. 5.
  • 73. Parl. Surv. No. 16, Beds.; Ct. R. portf. 153, No. 10.
  • 74. Ct. R. portf. 153, No. 11.
  • 75. Parl. Surv. No. 16, Beds.
  • 76. Ibid.
  • 77. Ibid.
  • 78. Ct. R. portf. 153, No. 11.
  • 79. Gent. Mag. 1830, pt. 2, p. 19.
  • 80. Cal. Rot. Chart. (Rec. Com.) 33.
  • 81. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 42.
  • 82. Pat. 19 Hen. VIII, pt. 2.
  • 83. Ibid. 12 Chas. II, pt. 17.
  • 84. Close, 15 Hen. III, No. 7; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 42.
  • 85. Pat. 19 Hen. VIII, pt. 2.
  • 86. Ibid. 6 Chas. I, pt. 33.
  • 87. Camden, Magna Britannia, i, 324.
  • 88. Lysons, op. cit. i, 56.
  • 89. a Collections for Beds. pl. cxiv.
  • 90. b Fisher, op. cit. pl. xvi gives remains of an inscription on this door, mentioning John Tadelowe and Maud his wife.
  • 91. c Gough, Sepulchral Monuments, ii, 272. An engraving and full descriptions of the brass are here given.
  • 92. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 1271.
  • 93. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 198, 199.
  • 94. Linc. Epis. Reg.; Inst. Bks. P.R.O.; V.C.H. Beds. i, 347
  • 95. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. ix, App. pt. i, 46b.
  • 96. Add. Chart. 35245.
  • 97. Cal. of Pat. 1467–77, p. 400.
  • 98. Ibid. 485.
  • 99. Chant. Cert. 1, No. 22; 2, No. 5.
  • 100. Ibid.; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 198.