Parishes: Upper Stondon

Pages 304-305

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section


Standon (xi cent.).

The parish of Upper Stondon contains 427.768 acres, of which 332½ are arable land, 59 permanent grass, and 4 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is rich loam, the subsoil clay. The principal crops are wheat, barley, peas, and beans. The slope of the land is from north to south, the highest point attained is 272 ft., the lowest 204 ft. above the ordnance datum. The road from Meppershall forms part of the northern boundary of the parish, and then strikes south-east, and passing through the village leads to Lower Stondon in the parish of Shillington. The village, which is extremely small, is in the east of the parish. The rectory lies on the right-hand side of the road from Meppershall. Immediately opposite is All Saints' Church, and beyond on the same side the Manor Farm. The nearest station is Henlow, 1¼ miles to the west, on the Bedford and Hitchin section of the Midland Railway. There are brick-works in the north-eastern corner of Upper Stondon.

Ancient British coins of copper and brass have been found in this parish. (fn. 2)


In the time of Edward the Confessor Ulmar of Eton held 2½ hides in UPPER STONDON, which, when the survey was made, were part of the dower of Azelina wife of Ralph Taillebois. (fn. 3) Like all his lands, this estate passed to the Beauchamps and became part of the barony of Bedford. (fn. 4)

Engelar held 2½ hides of Azelina in 1086, (fn. 5) but there is no further record until 1201, when William Briton alienated a virgate of land in Stondon to Stephen de Holwell, (fn. 6) and a few years later conveyed to Roger Briton half a virgate of land, and a messuage in the same place. (fn. 7) In 1261 Richard Briton was holding in Stondon, in which year he conveyed the advowson of the church to the prior of Merton. (fn. 8) Documentary evidence is scanty, but the Britons apparently continued to hold the manor, and in 1302 William Briton held one knight's fee in Upper Stondon of the barony of Bedford. (fn. 9) Forty years later the same fee was held by John Briton. (fn. 10) Some time in the latter part of the fourteenth century the manor was transferred from the Britons to the Wenlocks by the marriage of Margaret Briton to William Wenlock, who was knight of the shire in 1404. (fn. 11) As in the case of the manor of Someries in Luton (q.v.), Upper Stondon, on the death of Sir John Wenlock in 1471, passed to the family of Rotherham, (fn. 12) and was alienated in 1565 by George Rotherham to William Huls, (fn. 13) who, in 1592, sold it to Henry Grey earl of Kent. (fn. 14) From this point onwards the descent of Upper Stondon follows that of Wrest in Flitton-cumSilsoe (q.v.), and it is now held by Lord Lucas and Dingwall. (fn. 15)

Briton. Azure three seallops or.

Wenlock. Argent a cheveron between three blackmoors' heads razed sable.

In 1287 the prior of St. John of Jerusalem claimed view of frankpledge as appurtenant to his manor of Clifton. (fn. 16) Judgement was on that occasion deferred, but a similar claim made in 1331 secured recognition. (fn. 17) Chicksands Priory also owned lands in Upper Stondon which were parcel of their manor of St. Thomas Chapel in Meppershall. (fn. 18) These lands were granted in 1543 to Sir Henry Grey of Wrest, (fn. 19) and are subsequently found included in Upper Stondon manor (q.v.) which came into his family some years later. (fn. 20)


The church of ALL SAINTS was rebuilt in 1857, and consists of a chancel 18 ft. by 12 ft., nave 29 ft. by 16 ft., north transept 17 ft by 16 ft., and a small tower with one bell. The south doorway, which dates from the fourteenth century, is the only relic of the former church.

The single bell is dated 1819.

The registers date from 1683, the first book containing baptisms, marriages, and burials to 1787, and the second those from 1787 to 1812.


In 1261 Richard le Breton confirmed the advowson of the church of Upper Stondon to Merton Priory. (fn. 21) No mention of it as part of the possessions of the priory has been found at the Dissolution, (fn. 22) but in 1617 John Rotherham, who presented in 1605, (fn. 23) and whose family had recently alienated the manor of Upper Stondon, conveyed the advowson by fine to Margaret Lawrence. (fn. 24) Joanna Lawrence exercised the right of presentation in 1679, (fn. 25) and her daughter Joan married Samuel Leach, (fn. 26) who presented in 1721. (fn. 27) Lysons, writing in the early nineteenth century, says Thomas Leach, probably a son of Samuel, was the patron. (fn. 28) He was succeeded by John Smythe, who presented till 1850, (fn. 29) and from 1860 the late Rev. Richard Hull (who was rector from 1844 to 1890) held the advowson, which is now in the hands of his trustees

There are no endowed charities in this parish.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. V.C.H. Beds. i, 173.
  • 3. V.C.H. Beds. i, 262a.
  • 4. Ibid. 200; Feud. Aids. i, 13, 31. Cf. also Astwick for the Beauchamp lordship.
  • 5. V.C.H. Beds. i, 262a.
  • 6. Feet. of F. Beds. 2 John, m. 4.
  • 7. Ibid. 16 Hen. III, m. 16.
  • 8. Feet of F. Beds. 45 Hen. III, m. 3.
  • 9. Feud. Aids. i, 13.
  • 10. Ibid. 31.
  • 11. Ibid. 46. Cobbe, Hist. of Luton church, 354.
  • 12. Cobbe, Hist. of Luton Church, 196.
  • 13. Feet of F. Beds. Mich. 7 Eliz.
  • 14. Ibid. Trin. 34 Eliz.
  • 15. Feet of F. Div. Cos. Trin. 43 Eliz.; Mich. 17 Chas. I; Beds. East. 14 Jas. I; Mich. 22 Jas. I; East. 1651; Recov. R. Trin. 43 Eliz. rot. 92; Trin. 12 Geo. III, rot. 247; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccxlix, No. 172; Lysons, Mag. Brit. i, 136.
  • 16. Plac de Quo War. (Rec. Com.), 6.
  • 17. Ibid. 19.
  • 18. Pat. 34 Hen. VIII, pt. 4.
  • 19. Ibid.
  • 20. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccxlix, No. 172.
  • 21. Feet of F. Beds. 45 Hen. III, m. 3; Dugdale, Mon. vi, 247.
  • 22. The Valor Eccl. does not mention Stondon.
  • 23. Beds. N. and Q. ii, 232.
  • 24. Feet of F. Beds. East. 14 Jas. I.
  • 25. Inst. Bks. P.R.O.
  • 26. Blaydes, Gen. Beds. 273.
  • 27. Liber Regis.
  • 28. Lysons, Mag. Brit. i, 137.
  • 29. Clerical Guides, 1829, 1836; Cler Lists, 1841–50.