Parishes: Woodston

Pages 233-236

A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1936.

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In this section


Wudestun (x cent.), Wodestun (xi cent.), Wudeston (xiii cent.).

The parish of Woodston was divided, under the provisions of the Local Government Act, 1894, into Woodston Rural parish, containing 984 acres, and Woodston Urban parish, containing 70 acres. The Rural parish is controlled by the Old Fletton Urban District Council, and the Urban parish is included in the Municipal Borough of Peterborough. The ecclesiastical parish is undivided. The subsoil is Oxford Clay, Cornbrash, Great Oolite and Alluvium. The River Nene forms the northern boundary of the parish and the village seems to have been the landing place for goods coming by river to the market of Yaxley. Prehistoric implements have been dug up mainly in the gravels of the Nene, and the parish has also yielded many traces of the Romano-British times. (fn. 1) The Saxon cemeteries have already been described. (fn. 2) The parish was inclosed under a local Act of Parliament in 1809. (fn. 3) There are artificial silk works and brick works. The London Brick Co. are now the largest landowners in the parish.


The manor of WOODSTON was given by King Edgar (959–975) to Bishop Ethelwold of Winchester in exchange for other land, and the bishop then gave it to the Abbey of Thorney, (fn. 4) which held it in frankalmoin (fn. 5) till the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It seems possible that it was held in the early 13th century by Eudo and his co-parcenors as sub-tenants, but more probably they only held an important free tenement from the abbot, for which they themselves owed suit to the county court. (fn. 6) Certainly from 1279 the abbey appears to have held the manor in demesne. In the Domesday Survey, it was assessed for geld at 5 hides of land. (fn. 7) In the 13th century, the whole township contained 5½ hides and 1½ virgates of land, each hide containing 5 virgates and each virgate 25 acres, a somewhat unusual measure. (fn. 8) In 1553 Edward VI granted the manor in fee to Sir Walter Mildmay, who had obtained a grant of it for life four years earlier. (fn. 9) It passed to his son and heir Anthony (fn. 10) and from that time followed the descent of Stanground (fn. 11) (q.v.) until 1674, when that manor was sold by the Earl of Westmoreland to Sir John Brownlow, bt. (fn. 12) It is probable that Woodston was sold about the same time. James Wright, M.D., of Kensington, Middlesex, owned it before 1697, in which year he sold it to Robert Tompson, of Stanground, with the advowson of the rectory and all appurtenances and rights for £3,604. (fn. 13) In 1809 the lord of the manor was Carrier Tompson. (fn. 14) It remained in the Tompson family until 1914, soon after which date the estates were sold and the manorial rights were presumably lost.

A windmill on the manor of Woodston is mentioned in 1279 (fn. 15) and was worth 13s. 4d. a year. (fn. 16) A fishery was appurtenant to the manor in the reign of Edward I, (fn. 17) and was, after the dissolution of Thorney Abbey, granted by Edward VI to Sir Walter Mildmay. (fn. 18)

The Abbot of Thorney held the view of frankpledge and waifs in Woodston manor, presumably basing his claim on the privileges conferred by King Edgar's charter. (fn. 19) In 1285, he held the view twice a year and made no payment for it to the king. (fn. 20) The succeeding lords of the manor after the dissolution of the abbey also claimed to hold the view of frankpledge in Woodston. (fn. 21) In the 13th century, the abbot had a pillory and tumbrels in the manor and other unspecified rights. (fn. 22)

William the Conqueror granted to the Abbey of Thorney a market at Yaxley, (fn. 23) but in practice it was found that Woodston on the river Nene was a much more suitable place for taking toll and custom, (fn. 24) unloading the goods there and taking them overland to Yaxley, and so avoiding for all goods coming from the west the tolls charged at Peterborough. The right of the abbot to do this was successfully disputed in 1201 by the burgesses of Northampton, since the charters upon which the abbot based his market rights made no mention of Woodston. (fn. 25) Probably it was in consequence of this decision that in 1268 the abbot obtained a grant of a weekly market at Woodston to be held on Wednesday, the day before the Yaxley market. (fn. 26) No market is mentioned at the dissolution of the abbey, (fn. 27) and probably it was never held separately from Yaxley. In 1268, the abbot also obtained the right to hold a fair on the vigil and feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29), (fn. 28) but this is also not mentioned among the abbey's possessions at its dissolution, (fn. 29) nor in the grant of the manor to Sir Walter Mildmay. (fn. 30)


The church of ST. AUGUSTINE consists of a chancel (31¾ ft. by 15¾ ft.), with chapel (13½ ft. by 8½ ft.) and vestries (18 ft. by 13½ ft.) on the north, an organ chamber (11 ft. by 8 ft.) on the south, nave (45 ft. by 17 ft.), north aisle (16¾ ft. wide), and south aisle (16¾ ft. wide), each with quasi transepts 2¾ ft. wider, west tower (7 ft. by 4½ ft.), and north porch. The walls are of coursed rubble with stone dressings and the roofs are covered with stone-slates.

The church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086), and a fragment of pre-Conquest wall with a small window remains in the west wall of the tower. Previous to 1844 the church seems to have had a 14th-century chancel, a 13th-century south arcade to the nave, and a pre-Conquest tower with a 12thcentury belfry; but the whole church was rebuilt in that year except parts of the side walls of the chancel and of the west wall of the tower. The rebuilt church consisted of a chancel, nave, north and south transepts, two aisles, a west tower and two porches. (fn. 31) In 1883–4, the aisles were rebuilt and widened almost to the ends of the transepts, and an organ chamber, north chapel and vestry added; a new north porch was built, but the south porch was abolished. In 1896 the chancel was enlarged and a clergy vestry added.

The chancel has a modern three-light east window. The north wall has an early 14th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and segmental head; a modern doorway; and a modern arch to the north chapel. The south wall has two modern square-headed twolight windows; a piscina partly of 14th-century date; and a modern arch to the organ chamber. The chancel arch is modern.

The nave has a modern north arcade of four bays having semicircular arches of two chamfered orders resting on circular columns with carved capitals and moulded bases. The 15th-century south arcade is of four bays with two-centred arches of one chamfered order on octagonal columns and attached half columns to the responds, all with moulded capitals and bases. The modern roof has two dormer windows on each side.

The modern north transept has a triple lancet window in its north wall and a modern arch to the north chapel on the east.

The modern south transept is similar, but the triple lancet is partly ancient; the arch in the east wall opens into the organ chamber, and there is also a single-light window in this wall.

The modern north aisle has two double lancet windows and a doorway in the north wall and a double lancet window in the west wall. There is no structural division between the aisle and the transept.

The modern south aisle has two double lancet windows and one single lancet in the south wall, and is otherwise similar to the north aisle.

The modern tower stands entirely within the nave; the side walls are solid and the tower arch is semicircular and rests on low buttresses. The west wall is carried by an arch filled in with a modern doorway, above which is a small piece of pre-Conquest wall which contains a small round-headed double-splayed window. The next stage has a small single-light window in its north, south and west walls; and between it and the belfry is a 12th-century string-course with hatched ornament. The belfry has, in each wall, a reset 12th-century window of two-lights with jamb-shafts and a central shaft, under a round arch; and the tower is surmounted by an embattled parapet below which is a band of reset 15th-century quatrefoils.

The late 13th-century font has an octagonal bowl with tapering sides standing on a circular central and four octagonal angle shafts, the latter with moulded capitals and bases; above the angle shafts are inverted notch-heads attached to the bowl.

There are six bells, inscribed: (1) To the Glory of God this bell is given by Charles Edward Crawley and his family June 1914. Cast by Gillett and Johnston, Croydon; (2) Omnia: fiant: ad: gloriam: Dei: 1608. Recast by Gillett and Johnston, Croydon 1914; (3) Arguta resonans campanula voce. J. Eayre, St. Neots. 1749. Grata sit. (fn. 32) Recast by Gillett and Johnston, Croydon. 1914; (4) Johannes Clement Rector Petrus Chune Ch: wa. 1636; (5) A.M.D.G. Ex dono W.D. Thompson, M. J. Thompson, E. J. Twells, E. Nash, 1914. Cast by Gillett and Johnston, Croydon; (6) A.M.D.G. The gift of the parishioners, J. N. Raper, Rector, A. Sharp, J. W. Crawley, Churchwardens. 1914. Cast by Gillett and Johnston, Croydon. The second, third and fourth are the old bells recast; the old second was probably by Holdfield and the fourth by Norris. Three new bells were added, and all were tuned on the Simpson principle and hung in a new steel frame in 1914.

In the churchyard are two old coffin-lids, one having a cross and the double-omega ornament.

There are the following monuments: in the chancel, to the Rev. Reginald Tompson, Rector, d. 1907; glass window to R. T. 1890; and floor slab to the Rev. John Vokes, Rector, d. 1702; and Mrs. Mary Walsham, d. 1745. In the north chapel, to Vokes, son of John Walsham and grandson of the Rev. John Vokes, d. 1714; John Dickenson, of Peterborough, d. 1730/1; Major John Dorset Bringhurst, fell at Waterloo 1815, and the Rev. John Bringhurst, Rector, d. 1828; George Hart, d. 1830; and glass window given by M.C.E. Tompson, 1884. In the north transept, to Mary (Vokes) relict of Richard Dickenson and widow of John Walsham, no date. In the north aisle, to William Henry Darker, d. 1887, and Emma Louisa Harrison his wife, d. 1885, and their children Philip Henry and Louisa Darker; and glass window to H. and M. A. Pratt, no date. In the south transept to James Wright, d. 1723; Thomas Vaughan, d. 1764, and Martha (Wright) his wife, d. 1756; Thomas Wright Vaughan, son of Thomas Vaughan and grandson of James Wright, d. 1859, and Sophia Ann (Musters) his wife, d. 1850; and glass window to Herbert Bird, d. 1888. In the south aisle, glass windows to the Rev. Reginald Tompson, d. 1907; Elizabeth Madgin Bird, widow of Herbert Bird, d. 1915; and Charles Edward Crawley, d. 1922. On the outside of the south aisle are monuments to Ann (Addison) d. 1640, Ann (Grombell) d. 1650, and Jane (Parrish) d. 1675, wives of William Shipp, and to William Shipp, d. 168¾; and the Rev. Robert Smyth, Rector, d. 1761; and outside the south transept to Elizabeth, wife of James Wright, d. 1680, and Mary his daughter, d. 1691/2.

The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms, marriages and burials, 23 October 1559 to January 1719/20; (ii) the same, 29 July 1721 to 15 August 1812, marriages end 5 April 1764; (iii) marriages, 12 October 1755 to 9 June 1812.

The church plate consists of a silver cup with some Elizabethan ornament, hall-marked for 1569–70; a cover paten for the same, similarly hall-marked; a silver-gilt repoussee bowl with two handles, hallmarked for 1630–1; a silver standing paten bearing the Norwich hall-mark for 1671–2; a silver-gilt standing paten hall-marked for 1731–2; (fn. 33) a silver flagon hall-marked for 1727–8; a silver-gilt chalice inscribed 'A thank offering for the Woodstone Mission, Feb. 12th-22nd 1887, from the Communicant Members of the Congregation, Easter 1887,' hall-marked for 1886–7; a silver-gilt paten, similarly inscribed, but with a monogram 'E.B.M.' added, same hall-mark; a silver-gilt alms dish engraved 'Let us do good unto all men while we have time,' inscribed and hall-marked as last; a silver chalice hall-marked for 1902–3; a silver paten engraved with 'I.H.S.' on the underside, and hall-marked as last.


There was a church on the manor in 1086, (fn. 34) and the advowson of the rectory was held by the Abbey of Thorney until its dissolution. (fn. 35) In 1543, William Cony presented, (fn. 36) probably for one turn only. The advowson was granted with the manor to Sir Walter Mildmay in 1549 (fn. 37) and followed the descent of the manor (q.v.), with which it was sold in 1697–8 to Robert Tompson. (fn. 38) The next presentation, however, was made by George Maydwell, 1702, (fn. 39) but in 1721 and 1730 Carrier Tompson presented, (fn. 40) and in 1762 James Tompson. (fn. 41) In 1780 John Bevis presented for one turn (fn. 42) and in 1808 Carrier Tompson owned the advowson. (fn. 43) The next presentations were made in 1829 by Margaret Ann Tompson of Round Coppice, Iver, Bucks, (fn. 44) and in 1897 and 1907 by Major-General W. D. Tompson. (fn. 45) The advowson is now owned by Col. H. W. Tompson. An annual pension of half a mark was payable to the sacrist of Thorney Abbey from Woodston church, and is mentioned at the institution of a rector between 1209 and 1219. (fn. 46) The same pension was still payable at the Dissolution (fn. 47) and in 1602 was granted by Queen Elizabeth to Christopher Smythe and his son Millicent. (fn. 48) The tithes of the demesne lands at Woodston were also reserved to the Abbot of Thorney early in the 13th century. (fn. 49) These tithes probably passed into the hands of Adam Smythe, who died seised of tithes in Woodston in 1587, leaving a son named Robert as his heir. (fn. 50)

At the Dissolution of the Chantries, 2 acres and 2 'buncks' of land, valued at 16d. a year, had been given to provide lamps in the church. (fn. 51)

The church was taxed at £8 in 1291 and at £8 11s. 2d. in 1535. (fn. 52)


Poor's Land.—The endowment of this charity consists of 3 a. 2 r. 7 p. of land allotted to the rector, churchwardens and overseers by the award of the Commissioners for the inclosure of the open fields of Woodston. The land is now let in allotments and the rent, amounting to about £10 per annum, is distributed to the poor in fuel.

Mary Walsham, by her will dated 19 January 1744, willed that all her corn, grain, cattle, stock, etc., belonging to her farm, called Sexton Barns, should be sold and the proceeds paid to the minister, churchwardens and overseers for investment, the interest to be applied for the benefit of poor inhabitants. The endowment of the charity is now represented by a sum of £466 8s. Consols with the Official Trustees. The dividends are distributed in money to the poor of the parish.

Walsham Charity for Poor.—John and Mary Walsham, by an indenture dated 24 January 1728, among other charitable bequests, gave a yearly sum of money for the benefit of poor inhabitants of Woodston. Under the provisions of clause 3 of a scheme made under the Endowed Schools Act, 1869, on 17 July 1873, a yearly sum of £15 was paid by the Governors of the charity of John and Mary Walsham (now called the Walsham Educational Foundation) for this purpose. The said sum of £15 is now represented by £600 Consols with the Official Trustees, the dividends on which are distributed in money to poor inhabitants in accordance with the directions contained in the deed of foundation.


  • 1. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 218, 249, 251.
  • 2. Ibid. 272–276.
  • 3. Local Act of Parl. 49 Geo. III, c. 132.
  • 4. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, p. 598–9.
  • 5. V.C.H. Hunts, i, p. 345; Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 597, 604–5, 613; J. W. Clark, Lib. de Bernewelle, 270; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 643.
  • 6. Clark, loc. cit.
  • 7. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 345.
  • 8. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 643.
  • 9. Pat. R. 7 Edw. VI, pt. xi.
  • 10. Pat. R. 32 Eliz. pt. v; Recov. R. East. 42 Eliz. ro. 2; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. ii), ccclxxvi, 94.
  • 11. See p. 213.
  • 12. Feet of F. Hunts, Trin. 26 Chas. II; Recov. R. Trin. 26 Chas. II, ro. 139.
  • 13. Close R. 9 Will. III, pt. x; Feet of F. Hunts, East. 10 Will. III; Lansd. MS. (B.M.) 921, fol. 132.
  • 14. Local Act of Parl. 49 Geo. III, c. 132.
  • 15. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 643.
  • 16. Huntingdon R. (Bodl.) 1, m. 16.
  • 17. Rot. Hund. loc. cit.
  • 18. Pat. R. 7 Edw. VI, pt. xi.
  • 19. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 598–9; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 298.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. Pat. R. 7 Edw. VI, pt. xi; Feet of F. Hunts, Trin. 17 Chas. II; ibid. East. 10 Will. III.
  • 22. Huntingdon R. (Bodl.) 1, m. 16.
  • 23. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, p. 65.
  • 24. Cal. Cur. Reg. i, 449; Select Civil Pleas (Selden Soc.), i, 11.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, p. 101.
  • 27. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 613.
  • 28. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, p. 101.
  • 29. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 613.
  • 30. Pat. R. 7 Edw. VI, pt. xi.
  • 31. For the description of the church previous to 1883, see F. A. Paley, Twenty Churches near Peterborough, pp. 46–50; and W. D. Sweeting, Parish Churches in and around Peterborough, p. 132.
  • 32. In 1748, the Archdeacon ordered the old second bell to be new run (Rec. Archd. Hunt. no. 305, Archdeacon's Notebook). The inscription began with the words 'Grata sit'; that given above is taken from Messrs. Gillett and Johnston's statement hanging in the church.
  • 33. '1732 Gilt salver and small wrought piece for offerings, given for Comn. Service by Mrs. Walsham' (Register). The 'small wrought piece' is perhaps the bowl of 1630–1, for in 1709 and in 1724 there appears to have been only a silver cup and cover and a silver salver, although in the latter year there also was a pewter flagon (Rec. Archd. Hunt. no. 232, Terriers).
  • 34. V.C.H. Hunts, i, 345.
  • 35. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 574, 594, 604–5; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 643; Huntingdon R. (Bodl.) 1, m. 16; Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. iii, 275–6; Rot. Hug. de Welles (Cant. and York Soc.), i, 9; Rot. Rob. Grosseteste (Cant. and York Soc.), 262, 274; Cal. Pat. R. 1232–47, p. 205; Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 267.
  • 36. Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. iii, 276.
  • 37. Pat. R. 7 Edw. VI, pt. xi.
  • 38. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. ii), ccclxxvi, 94; Ct. of Wards and Liv. Inq. p.m. lxvi, 83; Recov. R. East. 42 Eliz. ro. 2; Feet of F. Hunts, Trin. 18 Chas. II, Trin. 26 Chas. II; Lansd. MS. (B.M.) 921, fol. 132; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.), 1661; Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. iii, 275, 276; Close R. 9 Will. III, pt. x.
  • 39. Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. iii, 276; cf. Feet of F. Hunts, Hil.; 1 and 32 Chas. II.
  • 40. Instit. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 41. Ibid.
  • 42. Ibid.
  • 43. Local Act of Parl. 49 Geo. III, c. 132.
  • 44. Cambs and Hunts Arch. Soc. Trans. iii, 276.
  • 45. Ibid.
  • 46. Rot. Hug. de Welles (Cant. and York Soc.), i, 9.
  • 47. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 36; Feud. Aids, ii, 479; Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 267.
  • 48. Pat. R. 44 Eliz. pt. xxiii.
  • 49. Rot. Hug. de Welles (Cant. and York Soc.), i, 9.
  • 50. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. ii), ccxiv, 206.
  • 51. Add. R. (B.M.) 34357.
  • 52. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 36; Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 267.