A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.
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Morburn (xi cent.); Morborne (xiii cent.); Morbon (xvii cent.).
This small parish, which is bounded on the east by the Ermine Street, lies between Haddon on the north and Folksworth on the south. It is a long strip in shape, narrowing from about a mile across at its western limit to about half a mile at its eastern. A road runs through the village from east to west, from which another road runs south to Folksworth.
The land lies mostly between 75 and 100 feet above Ordnance datum, but rises to 200 ft. at the southwest corner; it is liable to floods near the Billing Brook.
The area is 1,205 acres, and the population was 54 in 1921. The soil and subsoil are clay. The chief crops grown are wheat, barley, beans and peas.
The village is in the centre of the parish, and the church stands at the eastern end of it. South of the church and west of the Folksworth road is the Manor Farm, where there is a late 17th-century house and a fragmentary moat which probably surrounded a manor house of earlier date. The house has a modern south-east wing. In the north wall is an original doorway with its former flat fourcentred head cut away, and above it a square panel with a carved achievement of the Forrests of Morborne, with initials which are apparently A. F. for Sir Anthony Forrest, but the A is broken and resembles a P. On a stone below is the date 1692.
At the north-east corner of the churchyard is a thatched cottage of the 17th century with exposed timber framing inside. At the western end of the village is Earls Farm, with Glebe Farm farther west still.
Two tumuli stand on the west side of the Ermine Street, about 1¼ miles east of the church, one circular and the other rectangular.
Names of closes include Bayly Close; Cherry, Brazen, Pudding and Weaver's Closes; Weldon's alias Blackhalls; and Great and Little Street Pastures. (fn. 1)
MORBORNE, consisting of 5 hides with a church and priest, 40 acres of meadow and one of underwood and worth 100s., belonged to Crowland Abbey in 1086; (fn. 2) King Eadred, it is said, had confirmed it to them in 948. (fn. 3) With the exception of a small estate in Thurning, this was the abbey's only property in Huntingdonshire. (fn. 4) In 1251, the abbot and his men were under threat of distraint for not expeditating their dogs, (fn. 5) and in 1284 the abbey had to defend itself against the charge that suit at county and at hundred courts, owed by them for their tenement at Morborne, had been withheld for 45 years. The abbot declared that suit at county court had not been withheld by himself or his immediate predecessors, and appealed to the Statute of Limitations. He claimed quittance from suit at hundred court by reason of a payment or rent of 11s. 0¼d. made by him to the sheriff, who, however, maintained that this sum was received by him for sheriff's aid, and that the Hundred of Norman Cross was in the hands of the Abbey of Thorney. (fn. 6) Thorney Abbey at the same time claimed view of frankpledge in Morborne as a manor within their Hundred of Norman Cross. (fn. 7) In 1291, the Abbot of Crowland owned lands and rents worth £10 in Morborne, (fn. 8) of which vill he was returned as lord in 1316. (fn. 9) In 1535, the abbey held various rents worth £17 5s. 9d. (fn. 10)
After the Dissolution, the manor of Morborne, with the house and grange of Ogerston (fn. 11) in the same parish, lately the property of the Abbey of Crowland, was granted in 1540, with all appurtenances, to Miles Forrest, (fn. 12) bailiff of the Abbot of Peterborough at Warmington in 1535. (fn. 13) He died in 1558, (fn. 14) leaving a son and heir Robert, aged 30, who had livery of his father's lands, held of the queen in chief, in the following year. (fn. 15) He presented to the church in 1585, (fn. 16) and died in 1599. (fn. 17) His son Miles settled the manor, with view of frankpledge, and the advowson of Morborne, in 1611, on the marriage of his son, Sir Anthony, who was knighted in 1604, with Rebecca Hampson. (fn. 18) Sir Anthony Forrest incurred heavy debts and mortgaged the manor in 1620 to Sir Robert Beville of Chesterton (q.v.), a transaction which resulted in much litigation. (fn. 19) Sir Robert Beville junior, son of the mortgagee, died without issue in 1640, when his heirs were his 3 sisters, (fn. 20) and in 1660 Robert Beville, who may have been a lessee, with Francis, William, Richard and Thomas Beville, probably trustees, sold the manor to Thomas Collett and John Bradbourne, (fn. 21) who were patrons of the church in 1670. (fn. 22) Elizabeth Collett, widow, presented in 1683. (fn. 23) Thomas Collett had a son Peter, who died leaving his sister, Elizabeth Tipping, his heir, and she, with her husband William Tipping, joined with William Cherry and his wife Anne, Henry Meux, and Loftus Brightwell, (fn. 24) probably representing the Bradbourne interest, in selling the manor to Philip Frowde of London, in 1688. (fn. 25) He and his wife Sara sold it in 1699 to Thomas Browne, who was holding the advowson in 1703. (fn. 26) Thomas married Ursula, sister and heir of Sir Charles Duncombe, Lord Mayor of London, and had a son Thomas who took the name of Duncombe and was holding the manor and advowson and those of Buckworth (q.v.) in 1764. (fn. 27) He died in 1779, leaving a daughter Ann, wife of Robert Shafto of Whitworth (Durham). (fn. 28) She had two sons, John who died unmarried in 1802, and Robert who was dealing with the property in 1827 and died in 1848. His son Robert Duncombe Shafto inherited and died in 1889, but the manor was in the hands of Earl Fitzwilliam in 1854, having been recently purchased from the Shafto family. (fn. 29) His son, the Hon. George WentworthFitzwilliam, died in 1874, and the executors of his son Mr. George Charles Wentworth-Fitzwilliam are the present owners.
Fee farm rents in Morborne were sold to Nathaniel Horneby, citizen and haberdasher, and Joseph Horneby, citizen and goldsmith, both of London, in 1672, by the Commissioners for the sale of Fee Farm Rents. The Hornebys sold them in 1678, as a tenth of 35s. out of the manor of Morborne, to Robert Pulleyne of the Middle Temple and St. Neots, from whom they were purchased in 1689 by Philip Frowde. (fn. 30) Two windmills were attached to the manor in 1611, but only one is mentioned in 1666. (fn. 31)
The church of ALL SAINTS consists of a chancel (25½ ft. by 14¼ ft.), nave (32¾ ft. by 15¼ ft.), north aisle (32½ ft. by 6¾ ft.), south transept (18½ ft. by 11¾ ft.), south aisle (20 ft. by 7 ft.), and west tower (10½ ft. by 10 ft.). The walls are partly of coursed rubble and partly of pebble rubble with stone dressings, but the tower is of red brick with stone buttresses. The roofs are covered with stone-slates.
The church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), but the earliest parts of the present building are the east wall of the nave of an aisleless 12th-century church, together with its two doorways now reset in the aisle walls. The whole church was rebuilt in the middle of the 13th century with a somewhat larger chancel, two aisles to the nave, and a south transept set at a curious angle with the rest, the chancel and the north side being rather earlier than the south aisle and transept. The tower was built c. 1600, at which time new windows were inserted in the aisle walls and a north porch added. The church was restored in 1864, when the east wall and part of the south wall of the chancel were rebuilt; and again in 1900–01, when most of the walls and columns were underpinned, the walls repaired, and the chancel roof renewed.
The walls and features are of mid 13th-century date, except where otherwise stated.
The 13th-century chancel has a modern east wall (1864) with a cinquefoiled circle, rather high up, as an east window. The north wall has an original twolight window with a segmental-pointed head and inserted 15th-century tracery, and having small angle shafts to the inside splays and a moulded arch; a plain doorway with a pointed head; and two rectangular lockers. The south wall has an original twolight window with a circle above under a pointed label, and with internal splays and arch similar to that on the north; a lancet window; a double piscina with central shaft and pointed heads, and three small recesses above, all inclosed within a segmental-pointed arch; and a sedile with segmental-pointed arch and a label continuous with that over the piscina. The mid 12th-century chancel arch has a two-centred arch of two orders, the outer with a roll-moulding on the edge and a band of star ornament on the face, the lower with two rolls on the soffit, resting on responds having attached angle and soffit shafts with cushion capitals, carved abaci and moulded bases.
The nave has a 13th-century arcade of three bays on each side, that on the north being slightly the earlier; both have two-centred arches of two chamfered orders on circular columns with moulded capitals and bases; the eastern responds are semicircular attached columns and at the western end the arches die into the wall. The west wall has an arch to the tower, formed by cutting down a small early 16th-century three-light window. At the south-east corner the original quoins still remain.
The north aisle has a 14th-century two-light east window much altered c. 1600. The north wall has a four-light and a one-light window, both of c. 1600; and a reset mid 12th-century doorway with a twocentred head of two orders, the outer order resting on detached shafts having water-leaf capitals and moulded bases.
The 13th-century south transept has a part of the jamb and arch of a blocked recess in the east wall. The south wall has a window of three lancet lights under a segmental label outside and a lintel inside. The west wall has a segmental-pointed arch of two chamfered orders to the south aisle, springing from the column of the nave arcade and from a moulded corbel resting on a carved head.
The 13th-century south aisle has in the south wall a two-light window of c. 1600, and a reset 12th-century doorway very similar to that in the north aisle.
The west tower, c. 1600, has a Renaissance west window of two round-headed lights under a square head and a moulded pediment. The belfry windows are square-headed two lights. The tower is of red brick and has diagonal buttresses at the north-west and south-west angles, embattled parapets and small pinnacles at the angles.
The north porch, c. 1600, has a nearly flat fourcentred outer archway under a square head. The seats against the side walls are formed of 13th-century coffin-lids.
The mid 13th-century font has a plain circular bowl on a modern circular stem and square base. A 12th-century square bowl with chamfered edges lies loose in the south transept.
There are two bells, inscribed: (1) Cvm: voc: ad: ecclesiam: venite: 1614; (2) Henry Penn fvsore 1712. The first by Tobias Norris I. There are pits for four bells; and a tradition says that two were sold, more than a hundred years ago, to Lutton, but it is probably not true. (fn. 32)
In the south aisle is a 13th-century tapered coffinlid with effigy in high relief of a priest in mass vestments and his feet on two human heads; this was found under the tower in 1900. In the south transept is a 13th-century coffin-lid with cross at each end and the double-omega ornament. Also in the church is a stone coffin with shaped head-space.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to Emily Georgina wife of the Rev. Robert Warrener, Rector, d. 1894; in the nave, floor slabs to [Mildred ?] wife of Thomas Butler, d. 1680; William Goodyar, grazier, d. 1724, and Mary his wife . . .; (fn. 33) Robert Laxton, d. 1832; Mary wife of Robert Laxton, d. 1832; Robert Wright Laxton, d. 1857; and L.L. 1857; in the south transept, a loose stone to Thomas Woods, d. 1700; in the south aisle, to Lucy wife of John Laxton, d. 1857.
The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms, marriages and burials, 14 April 1724 to 28 January 1792; marriages end 17 November 1747; (ii) baptisms and burials, 11 April 1792 to 28 August 1812; (iii) marriages, 29 March 1755 to 16 December 1783; (iv) marriages, 2 October 1783 to 20 May 1811.
The church plate consists of a silver cup inscribed: 'The Gift of A.D. (fn. 34) for the Church of Morborn' hall-marked for 1728–9; a silver standing paten, partly gilt, inscribed 'Presented to Morborne Church by C. S. in affectionate remembrance of Eliza Ann Ansted. August 2nd 1873' hallmarked for 1873–4; a plated paten; a broken plated flagon.
In the garden of the Manor House is the base and part of the stem of a churchyard cross; the base is square with splayed angles having bold rounded stops, and the stem is octagonal, rising from the square with broach stops.
The church belonged to Crowland Abbey in 1086, and the advowson was held with the manor (q.v.) (fn. 35) until 1855, but it was evidently separated when Earl Fitzwilliam purchased the property. Robert Duncombe Shafto presented in 1858, but William Slingsby was patron in the following year. He presented Dr. Vincent, who acquired the advowson by 1861. (fn. 36) It was in the hands of Dr. Scott from 1899 until 1916, but by 1917 had passed to Mrs. Bentley, the present patron. The rectory was taxed at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 37) and the value was £12 13s. 2d. in 1535. (fn. 38) Crowland Abbey received a pension of £1 6s. 8d. (fn. 39)
There are no charities for this parish.