A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1925.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Eddinberge (xi cent.); Aedulfi Berga, Edulferesberga, Edulnesberth (xii cent.); Edoffebergh, Edelvesberge, Hedesburuwe, Edelesbury (xiii cent.).
Edlesborough is a large and straggling parish covering an area of 3,670 acres, of which 1,268 acres are arable land and 926 acres permanent grass. (fn. 1) There is a copse called Oakley Wood towards the south, but on the whole the parish is very sparsely wooded. The parish contains the village of Edlesborough and the hamlets of Dagnall and Northall, and until recently the hamlet of Hudnall, which was annexed to Little Gaddesden (Herts.) in March 1885. (fn. 2)
The soil is clay with a subsoil of chalk, Upper Greensand and Gault, producing crops of barley, wheat and beans.
The southern part of the parish which lies on the Chiltern Hills reaches a height of 687 ft., and there is a fall towards the north to 289 ft.
The village lies to the north of the parish and consists of about half a dozen farms and several cottages; many of these, though much restored, date from the 16th or 17th century, and are of timber and brick with thatched or tiled roofs. The green, a square open space several acres in extent, lies to the east of the village and is bordered by several old cottages and the smithy. The church is built on a hillock at the western extremity with the vicarage some distance to the east. There is a Wesleyan chapel built in 1858.
At Church Farm, some distance east of the church, is a fine barn probably of early 16th-century date. It is of eight bays, framed out of heavy timbers, with side aisles, and originally rested on an ashlar stone base, part only of which remains. The infilling is of thin bricks. It has been a good deal altered by the insertion of doors, windows and partitions, and an upper floor at the north end, and has a modern tiled roof. The south end was apparently rebuilt in the 18th century. To the north of the church there is a 17th-century house of red brick which has, however, been much altered.
There are several moated houses in the neighbourhood, among them the Manor Farm, and Butler's Farm, a brick house on the western boundary. East of the village on the Bedfordshire border are the Edlesborough Mills, with an old windmill adjacent.
Dagnall (Daganhalle, xii cent.; Daghehal, xiii cent.; Dakenhald, xv cent.) is a fair-sized hamlet situated south-east of Edlesborough. Here is a Wesleyan chapel erected in 1848 and a residence for the curate. There is also a schoolroom built by Lord Brownlow.
The hamlet of Northall (Northale, xiv cent.; Northill, xvi cent.) lies north-west of Edlesborough on the Bedfordshire border, on either side of the road from Leighton Buzzard to Hemel Hempstead. It has a Baptist chapel dating from 1812.
An Inclosure Award for Edlesborough, Dagnall, Northall and Hudnall, dated 14 June 1865 under the Act of 1845, is in the custody of the clerk of the peace. (fn. 3)
Prehistoric remains have been found here. (fn. 4)
Among place-names are: Storks nest, Snytemere (xiv cent.). (fn. 5)
The manor of EDLESBOROUGH, which was held before the Conquest by Ulf, a thegn of King Edward, had passed to Gilbert of Ghent in 1086, and was assessed at 30 hides, of which 10 lay in Bedfordshire. (fn. 6) It was held of the king in chief, and in the 13th century was attached to his honour of Mortain. (fn. 7) The overlordship is last mentioned in 1457. (fn. 8) In the early 13th century the manor was held by the rent of a sparrowhawk, (fn. 9) but from 1270 the tenure was by knight service. (fn. 10)
Gilbert of Ghent was succeeded before 1115 by his son Walter, (fn. 11) but by the middle of the 12th century this land had passed to Osbert Martel, (fn. 12) who held it until about 1170. (fn. 13) Osbert subinfeudated William de Baseville, who appears as under-tenant in 1171, (fn. 14) but the mesne lordship lapsed shortly afterwards, as the successors of William de Baseville held of the Crown in chief.
By 1201 William de Baseville was succeeded by Richard de Baseville, (fn. 15) who seems to have left as his heir a daughter Hawise, who married William Russell. (fn. 16) He is mentioned about 1210 as holding land in Edlesborough with the heir of Richard de Baseville. (fn. 17)
The name of William Russell occurs again in 1253, (fn. 18) but his wife Hawise was a widow at her death in 1270. (fn. 19) Her possessions were divided between her two daughters and heirs, Joan de Baseville and Rose, the wife of Stephen de Penescestre, Joan's moiety becoming known as Edlesborough Manor. (fn. 20) Joan held the manor (fn. 21) until her death in 1291, (fn. 22) when she was succeeded by her son, Sir Gerard Salveyn, (fn. 23) who died about five years later, leaving as heirs his sisters Joan and Nichole, (fn. 24) the wives of Adam de Thorp and John Em respectively. (fn. 25) Adam de Thorp held part of Edlesborough in right of his wife in 1316, (fn. 26) but apparently died before 1323, when his widow Joan, the wife of — de Scures, united with her sister Nichole and John Em to alienate the manor to William Barde and Joan his wife. (fn. 27) William Barde died about 1334, (fn. 28) whereupon Joan became sole possessor of the lands. (fn. 29) She died about ten years later and was succeeded by Durand her son. (fn. 30) Durand died in 1347 leaving a widow Isabel, to whom lands were allotted in dower, (fn. 31) and a son and heir William, a boy of thirteen. During William's minority the custody of Edlesborough was granted to John Bulneys, by whom it was transferred to Roger Grove in 1352. (fn. 32) William Barde appears to have died without issue, leaving a younger brother John as heir, the custody of whom was given in 1357 to Roger Green. (fn. 33) John Barde died in 1373 and was succeeded by his son Durand, (fn. 34) who died three years later, leaving as heirs his sisters Isabel and Alice. (fn. 35) The whole property seems eventually to have come to Alice, who married first John Houghton and then John Adam. She died in 1443 leaving a son John Houghton as heir. (fn. 36) He died in 1455 and was succeeded by his daughters Alice, wife of John Hulcote, and Elizabeth. (fn. 37) The latter died unmarried in 1457, when her share of the property passed to her sister Alice Hulcote. (fn. 38) The further descent of this property cannot be traced. From the death of Alice Adam in 1443 it was not called a manor, and was probably broken up into numerous small holdings.
The other moiety of Edlesborough which, on the death of Hawise de Baseville in 1270, descended to her daughter Rose, wife of Stephen de Penescestre, (fn. 39) was known as FITZ HUGH'S MANOR by the 16th century. Rose apparently married as her second husband John de Columbars, with whom she held this manor in 1284. (fn. 40) After her death he and his second wife Alice conveyed the estate in Edlesborough to John Waleraund in 1289. (fn. 41) Three years later John Waleraund died and was succeeded by his brother and heir William, (fn. 42) who in 1301 conveyed this land to William Fitz John of Marsworth. (fn. 43) The latter increased his property in Edlesborough by an exchange of land in Derby with the king in 1302, (fn. 44) and in 1305 acquired further lands from John and Nichole Em. (fn. 45) In 1313 William Fitz John settled the manor on himself and his wife Elizabeth, (fn. 46) who entered into possession on her husband's death about 1316, (fn. 47) receiving a pardon for the alienation of the manor without licence. (fn. 48) Elizabeth died in 1343 and was succeeded by her son and heir Henry, who died six years later. (fn. 49) He left as his heirs William Bullock and John de Stepyng, (fn. 50) between whom the manor was divided. John de Stepyng's moiety was alienated by him in 1370 to Thomas brother of William Bullock, (fn. 51) and descended to Thomas's two daughters and heirs Joan and Katherine. (fn. 52) Katherine brought her portion in marriage to Thomas Rufford, (fn. 53) of Butlers Manor (q.v.), with which it descended under the name of Eastbury Manor (q.v.). The other daughter Joan married John Fitz Hugh, (fn. 54) who died in 1434 leaving two sons Nicholas and John, (fn. 55) and their interest in this moiety probably became absorbed in the other moiety held by William Bullock in 1349.
In 1402 William Bullock settled his moiety in trust for William Fitz Hugh and the above John Fitz Hugh, husband of his niece Joan. (fn. 56) William Bullock and William Fitz Hugh both died without issue, and on the death of John Fitz Hugh in 1434 the trustees granted the lands to his younger son John, contrary to the conditions laid down by William Bullock. (fn. 57) In 1441 a commission was appointed to inquire into the matter, (fn. 58) and it is possible that the manor was taken into the king's hand, for its descent for more than a century is very obscure. Thomas Sankey, who died at Edlesborough in 1548, left a son and heir Edward, (fn. 59) whose son Thomas (fn. 60) was in possession of this manor, then called Fitz Hugh's, in 1586. (fn. 61) His daughter Winifred, who married John Pigott of Stratton (Beds.), died in 1592, (fn. 62) and it was probably their son Thomas Pigott who conveyed it in 1627 to William Abraham. (fn. 63) By 1644 it had come to Edward Smyth and Sara his wife. (fn. 64) From this date it descended with the manor of Edlesborough or St. Giles (q.v.) and is last mentioned by name in 1715. (fn. 65)
That portion of the manor inherited by Katherine Bullock, and by her brought in marriage to the Ruffords at the beginning of the 15th century, (fn. 66) was known as land in Eastbury in 1439, (fn. 67) but by 1479 had acquired the name of EASTBURY MANOR. (fn. 68) It descended with the Ruffords' manor of Butlers (fn. 69) (q.v.), and is last mentioned as a distinct manor in 1744. (fn. 70)
Other lands in Edlesborough attached to the honour of Mortain (fn. 71) and always held in chief, the overlordship being last mentioned in 1584, (fn. 72) were known from the 16th century as EDLESBOROUGH or ST. GILES MANOR. In the early part of the 13th century the tenant was Nicholas son of Bernard, (fn. 73) and in 1244 his widow Margery conveyed lands and rents here to the Prioress of St. Giles in the Wood, Flamstead, Herts. (fn. 74) In 1268 Isabel, daughter of Bernard son of Nicholas, granted all her lands in Edlesborough to the Prioress of St. Giles, (fn. 75) and she and her successors held them until the Dissolution. (fn. 76) In 1539 Sir Richard Page, a privy councillor, obtained a grant of this property (fn. 77) which his daughter and heir Elizabeth carried in marriage to Sir William Skipwith. (fn. 78) He and his wife in 1566 conveyed this land, then called a manor, to Ralph Heydon, (fn. 79) as a preliminary to its alienation to Robert Sawell and his heirs. (fn. 80) Robert Sawell died in 1582, leaving a son and heir Thomas, a minor, (fn. 81) who received livery of the manor in 1584, (fn. 82) and settled a third of it in 1615 on Rebecca the wife of his son Thomas. (fn. 83) Thomas the father died in 1623. He was succeeded by his son Thomas, (fn. 84) who in 1631 conveyed the manor to Edward Smyth and John Smyth, jun. (fn. 85) In 1674 Dr. John Smyth conveyed the manor to John Seare, jun. (fn. 86) In 1700 Thomas Seare alienated it to William Chew of Dunstable, (fn. 87) who died in 1712. After his death, in pursuance of his wishes, his three relatives, Mrs. Frances Ashton, Mrs. Jane Cart and Mr. Thomas Aynscombe, conveyed it to trustees for the support of charities in Dunstable. (fn. 88) The trustees of these charities are still among the principal landowners of Edlesborough. (fn. 89)
The estate in Edlesborough afterwards known as DAGNALL and SPIGURNELLS MANOR was to some extent presumably part of the land of Gilbert of Ghent and with it escheated to the Crown. It was, however, a composite holding, and though the Crown appears to have been overlord of the largest portion, (fn. 90) for which it received 8 lb. of cummin, (fn. 91) yet the names of several other overlords are mentioned in the 14th century, among them the Earl of Warwick, (fn. 92) the Prioresses of Markyate and of St. Giles and the Prior of Caldwell. (fn. 93) It was first called a manor in 1366 and was then said to be held of Dunstable Priory, (fn. 94) which appears as sole overlord in 1386, (fn. 95) but for the next 100 years it was held of the Crown in chief. (fn. 96) In 1492, (fn. 97) and again in 1525, (fn. 98) the Abbot of Peterborough had the overlordship rights, but by 1575 these had reverted to the Crown, when Dagnall was held by the service of being master of the queen's falcons. (fn. 99) In 1616, when it is last mentioned, the overlordship was still vested in the Crown. (fn. 100)
In 1199 a certain Richard Spigurnel (Esspigurnell) held a virgate of land in Northall, (fn. 101) which was possibly the nucleus of Dagnall Manor. About the middle of the 13th century Nicholas ' Sprignel,' probably a descendant of Richard, held land in Edlesborough. (fn. 102) By the year 1297 this land had passed to Henry Spigurnel, who possessed a house at Dagnall (fn. 103) and received a grant of free warren here in 1309. (fn. 104) Henry held Dagnall until his death about 1328 (fn. 105) when he was succeeded by his son Thomas. (fn. 106) Thomas was alive in 1339, (fn. 107) but Henry Spigurnel appears to have been in possession in 1341. (fn. 108) In 1366 William Spigurnel died seised of the manor of Dagnall, leaving a son and heir William, a minor, (fn. 109) to whose mother Joan the manor was demised during his nonage. (fn. 110) On the death of William Spigurnel without issue in 1386 the right to Dagnall Manor vested in his father's sister Lucy, wife of William Alberd. (fn. 111) A moiety of the manor was held in dower by Joan the mother and Alice the widow of William Spigurnel, (fn. 112) and Alice brought an action in 1387 to enforce her claims. (fn. 113) Lucy Alberd died in 1390 leaving as heir her daughter Amice, sometimes called Anne, wife of John Kirkham. (fn. 114) Settlements of the manor were made by the Kirkhams in 1394, (fn. 115) 1398, (fn. 116) and 1425. (fn. 117) Anne Kirkham, then a widow, died in 1427 and is said to have left no heirs, (fn. 118) though the manor, in accordance with the settlement of 1398, ought to have passed to Sir Philip Vache and his heirs. (fn. 119) Rights in this manor, now called Edlesborough Manor, were conveyed about 1440 by Sir John Cheyne of Isenhampstead to Thomas and Henry Frowyk and William Walton, evidently trustees. (fn. 120) Their interest was transferred in 1450 to John Brecknock, (fn. 121) who at his death in 1476 was said to hold it in right of his wife Letitia, by whom he had two daughters and heirs, Alice and Margaret. (fn. 122) William Lucy who had married Margaret, dead within two years of her father, (fn. 123) claimed half the manor as her right, (fn. 124) and apparently obtained it, for at his death in July 1492 the property passed to Edmund Lucy, his son and heir by Margaret, (fn. 125) from whom his widow Alice claimed one-third of the manor in dower that year. (fn. 126) Edmund was succeeded by his son Sir Thomas Lucy, (fn. 127) to whose use this moiety of the manor was settled in 1512. He died in 1525 and was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 128) who in 1549 conveyed his moiety of the manor to Sir Robert Dormer, (fn. 129) with whose manor of Wing (q.v.) it descended for over 100 years. (fn. 130) By 1664 it had passed to John Egerton, Earl of Bridgewater, (fn. 131) and from this date has descended through the Earls and Dukes of Bridgewater to the present Earl Brownlow, now lord of the manor.
The other moiety of Dagnall Manor was divided between Alice and Margaret, the wives of Thomas Cavendish and Richard Quadring respectively, and doubtless daughters and heirs of John Brecknock's other daughter Alice. (fn. 132) Thomas Cavendish died in 1524 seised of a quarter of the manor, and was succeeded by his son George. (fn. 133) In 1542 a certain John Smyth, probably son-in-law of Richard Quadring, died seised of the other quarter of the manor, leaving a son and heir John. (fn. 134) By 1544 this quarter seems to have come to George Cavendish, who then conveyed the moiety to Robert Dormer. (fn. 135) He shortly afterwards acquired the other moiety (q.v.), thus uniting the whole manor.
The Quadrings appear to have conveyed part of their quarter manor to the Brocas family, who was said to hold it of the Quadrings during the 16th century. (fn. 136) John Brocas died seised in 1518 of this portion, which was called the manor of Dagnall. (fn. 137) He also held Cheddington Manor (q.v.), with which the Edlesborough property descended (fn. 138) until 1583, when it was apparently excepted from the sale of lands to Francis Combes by Bernard Brocas. (fn. 139) The latter held the manor of Little Brickhill (q.v.) with which this estate passed, and it is last mentioned in 1637 in the possession of Thomas Brocas. (fn. 140)
The priory of Grovebury, Beds., acquired lands in Northall and Edlesborough, which after its suppression became known as EDLESBOROUGH MANOR. A meadow at Northall and land called ' Ther the oxe layded ' was bestowed on the priory probably in the 13th century, (fn. 141) and in 1281 6½ acres of arable land were acquired in Edlesborough. (fn. 142) In 1291 these possessions in Northall were assessed with those in Slapton at 19s. 4d., (fn. 143) and were granted in 1413 with the rest of the priory's estate to Sir John Philip during the war with France. (fn. 144) In 1414 on the suppression of Grovebury as an alien religious house, Sir John Philip obtained licence to settle the estate on himself and his wife Alice, (fn. 145) daughter of Thomas Chaucer (? son of the poet), and on their issue. (fn. 146) Sir John died in 1415 without issue, (fn. 147) and Alice subsequently married William de la Pole, Marquess, afterwards Duke of Suffolk, (fn. 148) and in 1444 granted the reversion of her lands in Edlesborough and Northall to Eton College. (fn. 149) In 1480 John Duke of Suffolk received licence to alienate these lands to the Dean and canons of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, (fn. 150) but the grant does not appear to have taken place, as Edlesborough is not mentioned on the steward's Rent Rolls (1500–5), and there is no further trace of this property. (fn. 151)
Much of the rest of Edlesborough appears to have been held in chief by the Beauchamps from the 12th to the 14th century. Probably after the death of Osbert Martel the king gave part of his fee to that family. This part included the lands known later as the manors of Bowells, Butlers, Caldwell, and Hudnall, besides the manor of Bates, held in demesne by the Beauchamps until 1338. The Beauchamp fee was held by the service of 23/8 fees in 1214, (fn. 152) but this mesne overlordship seems to have lapsed after the middle of the 14th century.
An estate in Edlesborough, which by the 16th century had acquired the name of BATES MANOR, was held of the Crown in chief. From 1338 to the last occurrence of its name in the early 19th century it descended with the manor of Eaton Bray, Beds., to which it was said to be attached in 1559. (fn. 153)
This land was held in demesne by the Beauchamps, of whom Hugh de Beauchamp was representative from 1192 until 1214 at least. (fn. 154) He appears to have been succeeded by Adam who was alive in 1229. (fn. 155) Miles de Beauchamp, the next owner of whom there is mention, (fn. 156) died in 1268, leaving his son Richard as heir. (fn. 157) Richard was living in 1284 and in 1303, (fn. 158) but his lands had passed by 1338 to Roger de Beauchamp, who in that year received licence to enfeoff William la Zouche of Harryingworth of his possessions in Edlesborough. (fn. 159) The Zouches already owned Mentmore Manor (q.v.) with which their property in Edlesborough descended through the families of Bray and Sandys until the 17th century. (fn. 160) In 1623 the trustees of William Sandys conveyed the manor to George Huxley, (fn. 161) who was in possession in 1626 (fn. 162) and died in 1627, leaving a son and heir John. (fn. 163) The latter died in September 1661, and his will proved the following January mentions his son George. (fn. 164)
A descendant, Thomas Huxley, by his will dated 16th July 1742 and proved the following July, left the manor to his brother-in-law in trust to sell the same to raise legacies for his two daughters. (fn. 165) Bates was purchased by John Potter, Archbishop of Canterbury, who by his will dated 1745 left it to his son, Thomas Potter. (fn. 166) It was settled by the latter in 1761 on his son, another Thomas, (fn. 167) who sold it in 1763 to William Beckford, Lord Mayor of London. (fn. 168) By 1781 (fn. 169) and at the beginning of the 19th century another William Beckford, doubtless a son, was lord of the manor, (fn. 170) when Bates is mentioned for the last time.
The first under-tenant of whom there is record is Philip le Botiller, who was holding in 1302. (fn. 173) He was succeeded by Thomas le Botiller who was living in 1346. (fn. 174) For nearly a century the descent of this land is very obscure. It may have belonged to Thomas Rufford, who died seised of an estate in Edlesborough in 1420, (fn. 175) or to his son and heir Thomas. (fn. 176) The latter died in 1439, and was succeeded by his son Robert, (fn. 177) upon whom ' the manor of Boteres' in Northall was settled in 1450 (fn. 178) by his mother Joan and her second husband John Fitz Geoffrey. (fn. 179) Robert died in 1471, and was succeeded by his son Thomas, (fn. 180) who died eight years later, leaving his brother John as heir. (fn. 181) The latter died in 1504, and was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 182) who died in 1553, leaving a son and heir Giles. (fn. 183) Two years later Giles died, and was succeeded by his brother and heir Thomas, (fn. 184) who in 1597 settled the manor-house of Butlers on his wife Anne for life, with remainder to his son William Rufford and Jane Engeham on their marriage. (fn. 185) Thomas died in 1599 and left as heir his son Henry. (fn. 186) In 1611 the manor was conveyed by the Ruffords to Edmund Brudenell. (fn. 187) In 1623 Edmund, William and Giles Duncombe, possibly trustees for Edmund Brudenell, conveyed it to John Langford, (fn. 188) who died seised of it in the following year. (fn. 189) John was succeeded by his son Robert, (fn. 190) who sold Butlers in 1659 to John Kidgell. (fn. 191) The latter died before December 1690, leaving a son John Kidgell, (fn. 192) who conveyed Butlers in 1696 to Peter Ward. (fn. 193) In 1699 Ward conveyed it to Samuel Brewster. (fn. 194) The latter seems to have had two daughters, the wives of John Moyer and Henry Bernard, who had each succeeded to a moiety of the manor by 1720. (fn. 195) Some time after 1744 (fn. 196) the Bernards' moiety passed to the Moyers, and in 1813 the manor was owned by Catherine Moyer, (fn. 197) of whom the family of Egerton is said to have purchased it. (fn. 198) It has since descended with Dagnall Manor (fn. 199) (q.v.).
In the 13th century the reputed manor of BOWELLS was held of the Beauchamps. It derives its name from the family of Boweles. In 1262 Simon de Horncastle quitclaimed to Hugh de Boweles and his heirs a messuage in Edlesborough in exchange for other lands in the same place. (fn. 200) Hugh was apparently succeeded by John de Boweles, who in 1284–6 and in 1302 held half a knight's fee in Edlesborough. (fn. 201) John was succeeded after 1313 by Stephen de Boweles, (fn. 202) who was living in 1346, (fn. 203) and is mentioned again in 1348. (fn. 204) From this date there is a hiatus of nearly 100 years, until in the 15th century it reappears with Butlers as the property of the Ruffords. (fn. 205) From this date Bowells Manor descended with Butlers (q.v.), (fn. 206) and is last mentioned by name in 1744. (fn. 207) During the 17th century, however, it appears to have been temporarily alienated, as in 1609 it was in the possession of Sir George Sandys, kt. (fn. 208) By 1616 it was the property of Michael Blackwell, who conveyed it in this year to John Martyn. (fn. 209) In 1624 there was a Christopher Martin in Edlesborough probably holding this estate. (fn. 210) About 1647–50 it was held by the Brugis family with the manor of Aston Castroffe in Ivinghoe (fn. 211) (q.v.). Before 1696, however, it had again reverted to the owner of Butlers Manor. (fn. 212)
An estate which afterwards became known as NORTHALL or CALDWELL MANOR was held in the 13th century of Ralph de Beauchamp by Caldwell Priory. (fn. 213) Ralph Beauchamp's overlordship rights probably soon lapsed as in Hudnall Manor (q.v.), for from the 14th century onwards this land was held in chief of the Crown. (fn. 214)
The priory's possessions in Northall were assessed at £3 8s. 5d. in 1291, (fn. 215) and this certificate was exemplified in 1342. (fn. 216) In 1535 the estate was returned at £3 6s. 8d. (fn. 217) At the dissolution of Caldwell Priory the manor was bestowed in 1542 on Sir Richard Page, (fn. 218) who had already obtained Edlesborough St. Giles Manor (fn. 219) (q.v.), with which Northall descended until some time before 1582, when it appears to have been alienated by Robert Sawell. (fn. 220) In 1615 it was conveyed by Anthony Putnam and Joan his wife to Thomas Putnam, (fn. 221) who settled it in 1631 on his son and heir Gabriel, who entered into possession on his father's death in 1638. (fn. 222) In 1647 Gabriel Putnam alienated Northall Manor to John Smyth, (fn. 223) lord of Edlesborough St. Giles Manor (q.v.), with which Northall again descended, being last mentioned by name in 1715. (fn. 224)
HUDNALL appears to have belonged in the 13th century to Ralph de Beauchamp, who held land in chief in Edlesborough by military service. (fn. 225) About 1290 the Earl of Cornwall was one of his sub-tenants, (fn. 226) presumably in Hudnall, but the overlordship of Ralph with regard to the earl very soon lapsed, for on the death of the latter in 1300 his fee in Edlesborough was held of the king in chief. (fn. 227) The king was his kinsman and heir.
In about 1291 the earl granted his lands in Edlesborough (fn. 228) to the rector and brethren of Ashridge, who held them until the Dissolution, (fn. 229) obtaining a grant of free warren in 1309. (fn. 230)
In 1545 the king granted 'the farm of Hudnall' to Robert Browne, goldsmith, of London, (fn. 231) and others, who in the following year received licence to alienate it to Richard Snowe. (fn. 232) Shortly afterwards Hudnall seems to have come to the Dormers, and to have descended with this family until the Lady Elizabeth Dormer, daughter and co-heir of Charles Earl of Carnarvon, brought it in marriage to Philip, second Earl of Chesterfield. Hudnall is said to have been then settled for life on Sir William Stanhope, son of Elizabeth, with remainder to the heirs of the Earl of Chesterfield in tail-male. (fn. 233) In 1738 Philip Dormer, fourth earl, conveyed the manor of Hudnall to Elizabeth Dyson. (fn. 234) In 1778 it belonged to Jeremiah Dyson, (fn. 235) who is said to have conveyed it to Thomas Poynder. (fn. 236) Early in the 19th century the latter sold it to John William, eighth Earl of Bridgewater, (fn. 237) and thereafter the descent of Hudnall follows that of Dagnall and Spigurnells (q.v.).
SMELTS was in 1611 in the possession of Edmund and William Duncombe, who conveyed it to John Duncombe and others. (fn. 238) It doubtless passed with Butlers Manor in 1623, for John Langford died seised of it in the following year, (fn. 239) and it has since descended with Butlers, though not specifically mentioned after 1744. (fn. 240)
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were two mills in Edlesborough worth 15s. 4d. belonging to Gilbert of Ghent. (fn. 241)
In the middle of the 14th century the king held a court at Edlesborough. (fn. 242) During the Commonwealth a court leet belonging to the three hundreds of Cottesloe was usually held twice a year at the township of Edlesborough. At the same time it was reported that there was a three weeks' court there which had not of late been held. (fn. 243)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel 38 ft by 21 ft., north chancel aisle 15 ft. 3 in. by 16 ft., nave 55 ft. by 21 ft., north and south aisles each 10 ft. wide, west tower 17 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft., and north and south porches.
The walls are mainly of ashlar limestone, coated and repaired with Roman cement, especially such features as labels and stops. Much of the cementing is now falling off, and the exterior generally, but the tower particularly, are in need of restoration. The north and south porches have plain moulded parapets, and the remaining walls have embattled parapets. The roofs are covered with lead, except that of the south porch, which is tiled, and that of the modern passage from the chancel to the north chancel aisle, which is of stone.
No detail in the present building of an earlier date than the middle of the 13th century survives. At this period the aisles were added, the nave being extended by at least two bays in a westerly direction. The chancel was remodelled later in the same century, and in the first half of the 14th century the aisle windows were renewed and the west tower was built, the westernmost bay of each nave arcade being demolished for the purpose. In the 15th century the nave clearstory was added, the walls of the chancel were raised and windows inserted, the north aisle was extended eastwards to form a chapel, the north and south porches were built, and the whole of the building was re-roofed. In 1828 the spire was struck by lightning and the interior of the tower destroyed by fire; the tower was subsequently repaired and the bells recast. The whole building was restored in 1867.
The chancel has a late 13th-century east window of five lights, the centre light being wider than the others, with geometrical tracery in a two-centred head; it is of elaborate design and heavily moulded, the jambs and mullions having attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases, and the moulded rear arch being carried by similar shafts. In the north wall is a window of two trefoiled lights with tracery of similar character and date to that of the east window. To the west of this window is a small 15th-century doorway with a four-centred head, now leading to the modern passage to the vestry. The western half of the wall is pierced by a large 15th-century drop-arch of two moulded orders dying into square jambs. On the south side are three windows of the late 15th century, each having three cinquefoiled lights in a two-centred depressed head. The easternmost, which is rather higher than the others, has the internal sill lowered to form two sedilia; to the east of this window are a third sedile with a fourcentred head, a piscina with a cinquefoiled shouldered head, and a 15th-century semi-octagonal stone bracket. Between the first and second windows is a doorway with moulded jambs and a two-centred head, and above the westernmost window, built into the wall, is a piece of defaced moulding, apparently part of a label. The north and south walls each have a 13th-century moulded string-course, probably marking the springing line of the original roof, and near the centre of each wall is a vertical mark in the masonry, denoting possibly the positions of wall shafts to the original roof, which may have been vaulted. The chancel arch is of 15th-century date; it is of two moulded orders, the inner continuous and the outer dying into the walls.
The north chancel or Rufford's aisle, (fn. 244) now used as the vestry and organ chamber, has in the east wall a modern opening to the passage leading into the chancel; built into this wall, and evidently not in their original positions, are five stone brackets, carved as follows: the first, an angel with a shield charged with a cheveron between three trefoils; the second, a skull surmounted by a crown; the third, a winged beast; the fourth, a chalice surmounted by a crown; and the fifth, an angel with a shield charged with a lion rampant with a forked tail; the second and fourth were evidently originally carved with heads and have been re-cut. In the north wall is a 15th-century window of five cinquefoiled lights under a depressed two-centred head; in the south wall is the arch to the chancel, and in the west wall an arch opening into the north aisle. The latter is of 15th-century date and is two-centred and of two hollow-chamfered orders dying into the walls; it is now entirely closed by a modern screen.
The nave has arcades on the north and south sides of four bays each, with two-centred arches. In each arcade the three eastern bays have octagonal columns and semi-octagonal responds with chamfered bases and moulded capitals; between these bays and the fourth is a short length of walling, the arch to this bay springing on the east from a semi-octagonal respond and on the west from an octagonal column, both of which have moulded bases and capitals similar to those of the other bays; to the west of each arcade the springing of another arch can be clearly traced. Above the chancel arch the east wall has a moulded and embattled set-off and in the south-east angle is the upper doorway to the former rood-loft. The clearstory has four windows in each wall, each of two trefoiled lights with tracery in a pointed head.
The north aisle is spanned by four-centred arches of stone, dying into the walls and dividing the aisle into four bays corresponding to those of the north arcade. The easternmost window in the north wall is an insertion of the 15th century, and is of three transomed and trefoiled lights under a segmental head. The windows in the second and fourth bays are of the 14th century, but their tracery is modern. At the west end of the wall, low down, is a very small 15th-century window with a four-centred head containing some original glass. Between the first and second windows is a niche with a defaced cinquefoiled head, probably originally canopied, the back of which retains much of the original colouring, leaving void the shape of a human figure. In the third bay is an early 14th-century doorway with moulded jambs and a two-centred head. In the west wall is a rectangular chamfered recess, at the top of which is the start of a channel or flue. This end of the aisle may have been occupied by a two-storied cell partitioned off from the rest of the aisle. The upper part of the north wall has a decided outward inclination. The south aisle has a 15th-century east window of two cinquefoiled lights in a flat head. North of the window the opening and stairs to the former roodloft still remain; externally the wall is splayed in the angle to give space for the stairs, which are lighted by a small quatrefoil; the soffit of this splay is carved as a trefoiled canopy. On the south side of the window is a tall narrow niche with an ogee head and jambs continuously moulded. In the south wall are three two-light 14th-century windows with modern tracery. Between the second and third windows is a 14th-century doorway with a two-centred head and jambs of two continuous orders. At the east end of the wall is a piscina with an ogee head and a stone shelf at the back. This aisle is spanned by stone arches like those of the north aisle.
The west tower is of two stages and has an embattled parapet. At the south-west is an octagonal stair turret carried above the roof. The tower arch is sharply pointed and of three chamfered orders, the inner order springing from chamfered responds and the two outer orders from wide splays, all of which have moulded capitals which are continued along the east and west faces of the walls as a string-course. Above the arch is visible the line of the former steep-pitched roof of the nave. The west window is a single tall cinquefoiled light and is restored externally. The upper stage has two openings in each face, each of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil. The east face has, in addition, a clock dial. The stair-turret is lighted by four loops, and on the west face of the tower are two lead rain-water pipes with moulded heads, probably of 18th-century date. The date 1708, with other dates, probably recording repairs, remains on the tower.
The north porch has an entrance arch with a twocentred head and continuously hollow-chamfered jambs; it is now fitted with doors. The east and west walls have each a window of four cinquefoiled lights in a square head.
The south porch has a similar entrance arch with doors.
The roofs, with the exception of that of the south aisle, which is modern, are of the 15th century and of flat pitch. The chancel roof is of three bays with four trusses and has large cambered tie-beams, that of the eastern truss being cut away on each side of the east window; there are curved struts beneath the tie-beams and the spandrels are filled with trefoiled tracery. The roof of the north chancel aisle is of two bays with three trusses and has cambered tie-beams with curved and moulded struts. The nave roof is in four bays with five trusses, and is similar to that of the chancel with the exception that the struts to the tiebeams are solid. The roof of the north aisle is divided into four bays or compartments by the stone arches which span the aisle; each bay has two trusses with chamfered principal rafters, supported by curved struts.
On the west wall of the chancel aisle, in a tablet with Ionic pilasters, is a brass with an inscription commemorating ' Wenefrid,' only daughter of Thomas Sankey (Sankye) of ' Edlesborowe,' who married John Pigott of Stratton in Bedford and died 1592; it is surmounted by the figures of a man and woman in the costume of the period. Above it is another plate inscribed to Henry Brugis, who married Frances Pigott, 1647. In the top of the slab are five shields charged as follows: (i) a cross charged with a leopard's head, for Brugis; (ii) three picks, for Pigott; (iii) on a bend three salmon, for Sankey, impaling four lions passant between two bends, for Browne; (iv) Pigott impaling quarterly fessewise indented with four hunting horns countercoloured; (v) Sankey impaling crusily fitchy three roundels and a crescent for difference. In the floor at the east end of the north aisle is another brass with an inscription to John Rufford, who died in 1540, his wives Brygett, Anne and Elynore, with figures of the man in armour and the wives in costume of the period. Below is an indent for the figures of four boys and six girls, and above the indent of a shield. On the north wall of the chancel is a slab with the indent of an inscription surmounted by a cross. In the north aisle are two slabs with indents, one of a small kneeling figure with a scroll, and the other apparently of a man in armour, with an inscription and four shields, all within a marginal inscription. In the south aisle is another slab, broken and much worn, with the indent of a small figure, a scroll and an inscription. (fn. 245)
The chancel contains four modern lozenge-shaped floor slabs: to John Theed, who died in 1686, Richard Theed (his infant son), 1680, Margaret wife of Thomas Bayley and formerly wife of John Theed, who died in 1701, and to William Ginger, who died in 1738; also two smaller slabs of the same form, one inscribed M T 1700 and the other J.T. 1695.
In the south aisle is a floor slab to Elizabeth Hutchinson, daughter of Henry Brugis and wife of Ralph Hutchinson, 1636, with a shield of arms.
On the north wall of the chancel is a marble tablet, surmounted by an urn and supported by cherubs' heads, to Margaret Bayley and Margaret her daughter by John Theed, who died in 1700. Below is a lozenge with the arms of Theed between two shields, the first of Theed and the other of Bayley, impaling a fesse between three owls with three crosslets on the fesse. On the east wall of the north chancel aisle is a marble tablet to Thomas Rufford, kt., who died in 1599, with his arms quartering a fesse between three scallops, and two other shields, one of Rufford impaling a cheveron between three harts' heads razed, with three hunting horns on the cheveron, for Huntley, and the other Huntley quartering four other coats.
A number of mediaeval tiles of various designs remain both in the chancel and nave. The font, which probably dates from the 15th century, has an octagonal basin with a sunk quatrefoil panel in each face and is supported by an octagonal stem with a moulded base.
The chancel screen and pulpit are both of oak, and are very fine examples of 15th-century workmanship. The screen is divided by the main uprights into five pointed bays and has a carved middle rail. The central bay, which is slightly wider than the other bays, is occupied by a pair of gates with two traceried close panels on the west face of the lower half of each leaf and two open lights with cinquefoiled ogee heads and tracery above in the upper half. The top rails of the gates are shaped to form, when closed, an inverted ogee arch. The head of the central bay has septfoiled and pierced subfoliated cusping with fourleaved flowers at the points of the main cusps. Each of the bays on either side has three traceried close panels on the west face like those of the central doors, while the upper part contains three open cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery in the head of the bay. The main uprights have attached shafts with moulded bases and capitals from which originally sprang the ribs of the vaulted coves beneath the loft, but the original arrangement is preserved on the chancel side only, the cove having been destroyed on the west side, where the screen is crowned by a modern cornice. Against the east side of the screen, arranged on either side of the central opening, are six contemporary stalls with moulded top rails and elbow-pieces carved with grotesques. Each stall has a miserere, the carvings of which are well preserved and represent a variety of subjects, including an owl, a winged beast, a woman suckling a lion, an eagle, and a double-headed beast. The desks to these stalls and the returns on either side of the chancel are contemporary and have buttressed standards with poppy-head finials and fronts with traceried panels.
The pulpit is octagonal, two sides forming the door, and is considerably restored. It rests on an octagonal shaft with a moulded base and capital, from which a curved and moulded rib springs to each outer angle of the pulpit. At each angle is a buttress with a moulded base and a crocketed finial. Each of the faces of the octagon has a sunk panel with a bracket for an image and an elaborately cusped and traceried square head, in front of which, at a slightly lower springing level, is a projecting canopy with a panelled soffit, and a central crocketed and moulded finial flanked by curved and crocketed gablets with carved spandrels. Above the pulpit is an extremely elaborate octagonal canopy in three diminishing stages, crowned by a crocketed and finialled openwork spire, and supported by two slender posts buttressed like the angles of the pulpit. The soffit is groined, and the lowest stage has on each face a canopy of the same form as those on the sides of the pulpit. These are separated from each other by crocketed pinnacles with flat shields on their undersides. Each face of the tall second stage is occupied by two trefoiled and transomed open lights under a traceried two-centred head surmounted by a canopy like those of the stage beneath. The third stage is of the same design, but on a smaller scale; the crowning spire is finished at the top with a carved and gilded ball. On the jamb of the chancel arch, to the east of the pulpit, is an hour-glass, probably of the 17th century, in its original stand.
The chancel contains a 17th-century chair, and in the vestry are two chests of the same century, one of which is dated 1689, and a large 17th-century table with turned legs and carved top and bottom rails with arcading. In the tower are an 18th-century benefaction board and a painting of Aaron, probably of the same period.
In the vestry is a piece of carved stone, on the face of which are two sunk cinquefoiled panels in a square head, while in the tower are a number of fragments, including parts of a stone coffin, pieces of window tracery, and parts of a monument on which are traces of heraldic painting, and a defaced carved oak wall bracket.
There are six bells, all by T. Mears, 1828, which bear inscriptions recording the fire, the restoration of the tower, and the recasting of the five former bells into six in 1828. There is also a sanctus bell of the same date.
The communion plate consists of a large cup and cover paten of 1636, the gift of Ralph Hutchinson; a small cup and cover paten of 1607; and a large paten on the stand of which is engraved the symbol of the church feeding her children.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries from 1568 to 1683; (ii) all entries from 1683 to 1726; (iii) burials in woollen from 1678 to 1699; (iv) all entries from 1727 to 1781, the marriages stopping at 1753; (v) marriages from 1763 to 1812; (vi) burials from 1786 to 1811, and baptisms from 1782 to 1812.
Gilbert of Ghent gave the parish church of St. Mary in Edlesborough to the monks of Bardney Abbey, Lincolnshire, and the grant was successively confirmed by his son Walter in 1115 (fn. 246) and by Hugh de Beauchamp in 1192. (fn. 247) The church, which was assessed at £30 in 1291, (fn. 248) and again confirmed to Bardney by the king in 1331, (fn. 249) was given by the Abbot of Bardney in 1385 to the king, (fn. 250) who bestowed it on the monks of the Charterhouse in 1392 on condition that a sufficient proportion of the profits were devoted to the relief of the poor. (fn. 251)
A vicarage was ordained about 1396, and in 1535 the church was assessed at £14. (fn. 252) In 1541, after the Dissolution, the king granted the advowson to Richard Bream, (fn. 253) who died in 1546, leaving a son and heir Edward. (fn. 254) The latter died under age in January 1558–9, and his property came to his brother Arthur Bream, (fn. 255) by whom the advowson was alienated in 1572 to Edward Randall, (fn. 256) who died in 1577. (fn. 257) By his will Edward Randall left it to his wife Alice for life, and then to his son Edward, who entered into possession in 1590. (fn. 258) In 1614 Sir Edward Randall, kt., conveyed it to Thomas Egerton, Lord Ellesmere, (fn. 259) who died in 1617, and was succeeded by his son John, Earl of Bridgewater. (fn. 260) The advowson descended in this family to the present Earl Brownlow. (fn. 261)
There was apparently a manor of the rectory, and towards the end of the 13th century the rector claimed the assizes of bread and ale, and withdrew his tenants from the suit to shire and hundred. (fn. 262) The rectory follows the descent of the advowson (q.v.), Earl Brownlow being the present impropriator.
In the year 1338 Thomas le Botiller received licence to found the chantry of St. Mary the Virgin and All Saints in Edlesborough Church, (fn. 263) many references to which occur in the 14th century. (fn. 264)
During the first quarter of the 16th century the chaplain complained that fruit trees growing on land belonging to the chantry and inclosed by hedge and ditch had been despoiled of their unripe fruit by one Benet Smith, who had also pastured his horses and cattle there. (fn. 265)
At the close of the reign of Henry VIII this chantry was of the annual value of £10 12s. 7d. (fn. 266) In 1549 the Chantry House, which had been in the possession of the chantry, was granted to Edward Pese, William Wenlowe, and others and their heirs, (fn. 267) and about the same time John Russell, who had unjustly seized a tenement called the Broadegate belonging to the chantry, had 'commandment to avoyde the possession thereof, and he was contented so to do.' (fn. 268)
In 1297 Henry Spigurnel received licence to have an oratory in his house at Dagnall, (fn. 269) and in 1322 he alienated lands and rent in Dagnall to a chaplain ' to celebrate divine service daily in the chapel of All Saints, Daggehale.' (fn. 270) A chantry was ordained in Dagnall chapel in 1326, (fn. 271) and from this date onward the chapel is called indifferently the chapel or chantry of All Saints in Dagnall. (fn. 272) The advowson descended with the manor of Dagnall and Spigurnells (q.v.), and in 1535 there were said to be two chantry priests here, the part of one being worth 78s., and that of the other £8 13s. 4d. yearly. (fn. 273) At the dissolution of the chantries, that at Dagnall was worth £4 6s. 8d., and had one chalice of 4 oz. and two vestments. It was 2 miles distant from the parish church. (fn. 274)
In 1550 the chantry and all the foundation land was granted to Thomas Reve and others, and their heirs. (fn. 275) In 1589 3 acres of land that had belonged to the chantry were granted to Sir Edward Stanley, kt. (fn. 276)
In the 13th century John Crachale, rector of Edlesborough, granted to Sir William Russell and his wife Hawise 'a chantry in their Oratory in their Court of Northhale,' in return for the gift in free alms of a meadow in Schepemede. (fn. 277)
Charity of — Randall, mentioned in the Parliamentary Returns of 1786 as having been founded by deed 1597, whereby 5 quarters of wheat and money were distributed among the poor yearly. About 860 loaves are distributed by the parish officers in Easter week, and are paid for by Earl Brownlow from the Ashridge estate.
Charity of George Burghope, founded by deed 28 February 1723. In respect of 12 acres intermixed with the glebe land, the vicar is required to pay to the clerk 3s. 4d. for tolling the bell on St. John's Day and to pay to the poor sums of 6s. 8d. for attending services on certain holy days, and 20s. to poor widows and other poor within ten days after the anniversary of the funeral of the donor. In 1908 the sum of £2 12s. 10d. was so distributed.
Colemare's charity consists of 10s. a year issuing out of land in Hemel Hempstead for purchasing four Prayer-books for children giving the best account of their catechism. The Prayer-books are given to the most deserving children attending Sunday school.
The Town Land of this parish and that of the hamlet of Dagnall and the Edlesborough Church Estate (fn. 278) have been amalgamated. The property now consists of 18 acres or thereabouts, situate in Edlesborough, of the annual rental value of £23 5s., which, under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 17 December 1907, is applicable one-third towards providing a parish nurse for the poor of the parish, including the hamlets of Northall and Dagnall, and two-thirds for church purposes. The official trustees also hold £31 1s. 2d. India 3½ per cent. stock in trust for the parish nurse branch, arising from accumulations of income.
In 1819 Thomas Ginger, by his will, gave an annual sum of £20 out of his estate at Northall for the benefit of the poor of Edlesborough and Northall. The charity was in operation for a certain period, but being void in mortmain was subsequently discontinued failing confirmation by the devisees.
Countess of Bridgewater's charity, founded by will and codicil thereto, dated respectively 24 December 1846 and 28 December 1848. This parish receives £15 a year, part of the dividends on a sum of £5,997 10s. 8d. India 3 per cent. stock held by the official trustees, which is applied towards the support of the school.
In 1869 Thomas Ginger, by deed dated 26 October, declared the trust of a sum of £100 6s. consols, the income to be applied in bread or other articles in kind, or for the benefit of children attending a school in the parish, irrespective of their religious persuasions.
In 1871 Thomas W. Ginger, by his will proved at Oxford, 14 February, bequeathed £106 16s. 2d. consols, the income to be applied in bread on Christmas day to poor of Edlesborough and the hamlet of Northall.
The sums of stock belonging to this and the preceding charity are held by the official trustees, and the dividends, amounting to £5 3s. 4d., are distributed in bread at Christmas.
In 1894 Joseph Chennells, by will proved at London, 22 December, bequeathed £100 consols (with the official trustees), the income to be applied in bread at Christmas to agricultural labourers of the parish, exclusive of the hamlets of Dagnall and Northall. The distribution is made to about ninety families.
The poor's allotments, awarded in 1865 for labouring poor, consist of 3 a. 0 r. 8 p. situate at Northall Green, subject to a rent-charge of £4 16s. 4d.; 2 a. 0 r. 22 p. in Summer Leys, subject to a rentcharge of £3 2s.; 1 a. 3 r. 18 p. on Edlesborough Green, subject to a rent-charge of £3 9s., and 4 a. 1 r. 14 p. in Edlesborough, subject to a rentcharge of £4 9s. 10d.
The rents are applied in paying the rent-charges and expenses.
The hamlet of Northall.
This hamlet also receives the sum of £10 a year from the trustees of the Countess of Bridgewater's charity above mentioned, which is applied towards the support of the school.