A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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Horninghold lies seven miles north-east of Market Harborough and four miles south-west of Uppingham. The parish, which is 1,217 a. in area, extends over the Middle Lias clays which underlie the hills on the borders of Rutland. The soil is chiefly clay and largely devoted to pasture. The road from Hallaton to Uppingham, on which the village stands, crosses the parish from west to east; it is joined at the east end of the village by a road from Great Easton. There are two field tracks, one to Blaston, and one which crosses the road from Hallaton to Allexton and continues to Keythorpe.
The houses in the village are built along the main road and along a short road running north, which later becomes the track to Keythorpe. At the junction of these roads, immediately north of the church, is a small triangular green inclosed by posts and chains. Between the green and the church stands a restored stone cottage, dating from the late 16th or early 17th century, which was formerly used as a Rectory. All the remaining houses in the village are the result of complete or partial rebuilding by the Hardcastles of Blaston Hall. (fn. 1) The post office and two other brick cottages are the work of Thomas Hardcastle (d. 1902) in 1882-3, but most of the rebuilding was carried out by his son T. A. Hardcastle between 1905 and 1911. He set out to create a model 'garden' village, planted with a great variety of trees and ornamental shrubs. The cottages are built of local ironstone, are planned on generous lines, and stand in large gardens. Where original early-17th-century features existed, Hardcastle was careful to retain them, and all later work was altered to conform with this style. An exception is Orchard House, now a racing stable, (fn. 2) which is of red brick and has a symmetrical 'Queen Anne' frontage dated 1913. Tudor House is of 17th-century origin, retaining four-centred stone door-heads. It was largely rebuilt in 1905 as the Horninghold Estate Office. A pair of stone cottages at the north end of the village carries a tablet of 1911, stating that the Globe Inn formerly stood on the site. The tradition of well-kept gardens, hedges, and grass verges is still maintained in the village.
Manor Farm, formerly the manor-house, is a stone building standing south of the church. It was probably built by William Turpin c. 1600 and a painted panel bearing his arms (fn. 3) is still in the house. The building was extended and largely reconstructed by T. A. Hardcastle in 1909 but two original stone fire-places and a mullioned window survive. To the west is a fine avenue of limes, probably dating from the early 18th century.
Horninghold House, sometimes known as Horninghold Hall, stands in a large garden to the north of the main road. It was converted from an old farm-house by Thomas Hardcastle and the baywindowed stone front is in a 19th-century Tudor style. The extensive red-brick stables are dated 1882 and their construction shows an early use of cavity walling. Alexander Cross, tenant of the house until he bought the estate in 1916, kept as many as 30 hunters here. (fn. 4) After the Second World War, during the ownership of H. Bernstein, part of the outbuildings was occupied as a clothing factory. (fn. 5) Since 1956 the stables have been used for commercial mushroom-growing by Mr. K. Grant. (fn. 6)
The population of Horninghold has never been large. The recorded population in 1086 was 13. (fn. 7) There were 25 taxpayers in 1381. (fn. 8) There were 20 households in 1563, (fn. 9) and 36 houses with hearths in 1670. Of these, 21 paid hearth tax, including the house of Sir John Heath with 13 hearths, two each had 2 forges, and there was one empty house. (fn. 10) In 1603 there were 96 communicants, and in 1676, 102. (fn. 11) There were 20-30 families in the early 18th century. (fn. 12) The population was 76 in 1801, 126 in 1881, and 97 in 1891. After the Hardcastles' improvements it rose to 124 in 1911, but in 1951 was only 86. (fn. 13)
Before the Conquest HORNINGHOLD was one of a group of estates apparently held by four thegns, Osulf, Osmund, Roulf, and Levrick. In 1086 the vill was said to be held by Robert de Todeni, lord of Belvoir, (fn. 14) though it may have been given before this date to Robert's priory of Belvoir, which had been founded in 1076. (fn. 15) At the beginning of the 12th century it was farmed by William D'Aubigny. (fn. 16) Horninghold formed part of the original endowment of the priory and remained in its possession until the Dissolution. (fn. 17) It was confirmed to the priory at various times during the Middle Ages. (fn. 18)
At the Dissolution the manor passed to the Crown, and in 1545 Henry VIII licensed Edward Elrington and Humphrey Metcalf, to whom he had previously sold it, to alienate the manor and the rest of the former priory's property in the parish to John Beaumont and Henry Alycock. (fn. 19) There was a lease of the manor outstanding for 41 years from 1531 which had been made by Belvoir Priory to Anthony Bewell, the priory's bailiff. (fn. 20) On Beaumont's forfeiture the manor once more passed to the Crown, and in 1553 it was purchased for £566 by Edward Griffin, the Attorney-General, whose family owned the nearby manor of Gumley. (fn. 21) In 1590 William Turpin of Knaptoft, whose father had owned land in Horninghold, purchased the manor from Edward Griffin's heir. (fn. 22) Turpin was knighted in 1603 and died in 1617; his widow held the manor until her death about the end of 1633, (fn. 23) and was succeeded by her daughter Elizabeth, who married Sir John Pretyman of Loddington. (fn. 24)
The estate was settled upon their eldest son John and his wife Margaret on their marriage in 1649. (fn. 25) John Pretyman died in 1658 leaving his widow as owner of the estate, which she brought to her second husband Sir John Heath, the second son of Sir Robert Heath of Brasted Place (Kent) and M.P. for Clitheroe (Lancs.) from 1661 to 1679. (fn. 26) She died in 1676 (fn. 27) and the available evidence suggests that Horninghold manor did not descend to her daughter and heir. It appears to have been sold by Heath to Sir Edward Hungerford, who was in possession by 1676 and presented to the living. (fn. 28) Thereafter the manorial descent is lost. Sir Edward Hungerford died in 1711, but it is by no means certain that he could or would have retained the manor of Horninghold for more than a few years, for his extravagance was notorious and he is said to have disposed of more than thirty manors during his lifetime. (fn. 29)
In 1730 Thomas Dummer, later of Cranbury (Hants), was lord of the manor of Horninghold. (fn. 30) He died in 1765 and was succeeded by his son Thomas upon whose death in 1781 the estate passed to his widow Harriet with reversion to Thomas Chamberlayne, a member of a family with which the Dummers had been previously connected. (fn. 31) Harriet Dummer married Thomas Chamberlayne, and after his death, which presumably occurred very shortly afterwards, she married Nathaniel Dance, the artist, who afterwards took the name of Holland and was created a baronet in 1800. (fn. 32) His widow retained possession of the manor after his death in 1811 until her death in 1825 when it finally passed to William Chamberlayne, (fn. 33) in whose family it remained until about 1880. (fn. 34) It was then purchased by Thomas Hardcastle (d. 1902) of Blaston Hall, was inherited by his son T. A. Hardcastle (d. 1941), and sold in 1916 to Alexander Cross who had previously been the tenant of Horninghold Hall. (fn. 35) Cross died c. 1921 and it was owned by his brother Thomas until his death. The estate was sold, in and after 1931, in several lots. (fn. 36) The hall and the advowson were acquired by W. R. Crabtree and a large part of the land passed to George Brudenell of Deene (Northants.). (fn. 37) The manorial rights seem to have died out at the same time.
In 1086 there were 3 carucates of land in Horninghold, which had been ploughed by 3 ploughs in Edward the Confessor's reign. By 1086 Robert de Todeni had 2 ploughs in his demesne, and 8 villeins, 3 socmen, and 2 bordars had a further 3 ploughs. There were 12 a. of meadow and woodland one furlong by two furlongs in extent. The value of the estate had been raised to 30s. from 10s. before the Conquest. (fn. 38) There were still 3 carucates in 1279, one held in demesne by Belvoir Priory, one held in villeinage, and the other held by free tenants. (fn. 39) All the inhabitants assessed for tax in 1381 were described as tenants at will, but in 1408 the Prior of Belvoir asserted his right to hold court for the free tenants and the villein tenants of the manor. (fn. 40)
The woodland of Domesday Book probably survives on the parish boundary with Stockerston and in Stockerston itself. An undated charter of John Sampson regulated the boundaries between his woods and those of Belvoir Priory, and the names of Muckelborough (Michelberwe) and Bolt Wood (Boutewood) can be identified in it; the charter probably dates from before the reign of Henry VI, the date of the cartulary in which it survives. (fn. 41) Pasture rights in the wood were clearly important in the Middle Ages, and part of the wood was inclosed; an agreement of 1417 between Elizabeth Boyvill and Belvoir Priory gave each party the right to inclose a portion of woodland, subject to the preservation of pasture rights. (fn. 42)
Inclosure appears to have been the occasion of a dispute in the mid-16th century, when a number of persons were charged with breaking into a close belonging to Sir Edward Griffin, near Horninghold Wood, and pasturing beasts there. (fn. 43) In 1607 Sir William Turpin was stated to have converted 80 a. of arable land at Horninghold from tillage to pasture and to have destroyed one farm-house. (fn. 44) When he died in 1617 he had 100 sheep grazing on his pastures at Horninghold, and it has been suggested that his inclosures were in fact more extensive than the returns of 1607 indicate. (fn. 45) In 1620 Sir William was said to have held the manor of Horninghold with 10 named closes as well as others, but no mention is made in the inquisition of open arable land. (fn. 46) There was still open land about 1675, however, when particulars of the manorial lands mention a yardland of 30 a. in the common fields. The same documents mention over 150 a. of closes, as well as a considerable area whose acreage is not stated. (fn. 47) According to the inclosure Act of 1730 there were still 916 a. in the three open fields-Moor Field, Hog Field, and Little Field-and an open Cow Pasture at that date, (fn. 48) so that it seems probable that about two-thirds of Horninghold remained open until 1730.
The accounts of the churchwardens have survived for the period 1773-1855, and the surviving vestry book for 1830-6 contains the accounts of the overseers of the poor. (fn. 49) There was no workhouse in 1802-3, when 4 adults and 12 children received out-relief. (fn. 50) After 1836 the parish belonged to the Uppingham Union. (fn. 51)
Horninghold church seems, on the architectural evidence, to have been built in the early 12th century. In or shortly before 1151 it was confirmed to Belvoir Priory by Archbishop Theobald, after an unsuccessful attempt by Geoffrey de Normanville to disturb the monks' title. (fn. 52)
The church was appropriated before 1220, (fn. 53) and Belvoir Priory remained the patron until the Dissolution. (fn. 54) Afterwards the rectory and advowson descended with the manor. (fn. 55) In 1930 the living was united with Blaston St. Giles and Blaston St. Michael. (fn. 56) In 1957 the incumbent lived at Blaston and the patron of the combined living was W. R. Crabtree, (fn. 57) whose executors held the advowson in 1959. (fn. 58)
In 1254 the church was valued at 6 marks, corrected to 10, and at 7 marks in 1291. (fn. 59) Seven marks was also the value of the rectory in 1535. (fn. 60) In 1626 the rectory was worth £50, (fn. 61) and about 1675 was said to be worth £70, of which £55 came from tithes. (fn. 62) About the same date the tithes were leased for £56. (fn. 63) About 1666 a prospective tenant for the rectory refused to pay more than £60. (fn. 64) The rectorial tithes were specifically excluded from the Inclosure Act of 1730 and were commuted in 1849 for £10. (fn. 65) The vicarage was worth 5 marks about 1220. (fn. 66) In 1535 it was valued at £6 16s. 6d. (fn. 67) and in 1626 at £12. (fn. 68) Horninghold remained a poor living although it was augmented by Queen Anne's Bounty in 1777 and 1802 with £200 on each occasion. (fn. 69) In 1831 it was worth only £83. (fn. 70) Some of the vicarial tithes were apparently commuted in 1730 for a rentcharge of 10d. an acre, and others were commuted for £23 in 1849. (fn. 71)
The church of ST. PETER stands to the southwest of the village. It is built of ironstone and limestone and consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north porch, and spired west tower. Its most striking feature is the early-12th-century south doorway. (fn. 72)
The early church dated from the first half of the 12th century when it probably consisted of nave, chancel, and tower. The base of the tower and portions of the nave walls survive. When aisles were added the small south doorway was preserved and reset in the new outer wall. The voussoirs of its semi-circular arch have three tiers of chip-carved ornament below a billet hoodmould. The chamfers of the imposts are finely carved with honeysuckle and other ornament and include symbolic beasts on the two reveals.
The south aisle was added early in the 13th century. The arcade of three bays has round arches of two chamfered orders, octagonal piers, and moulded capitals. Near the east end the aisle contains a small recess and a 13th-century piscina. The north aisle is of the later 13th century, with some indication that the most easterly bay was the first to be built. (fn. 73) The pier to the west of it consists of a short length of Norman walling, left in situ. The three arches of the arcade are slightly pointed. At the north-east corner of the aisle is a stone angle-bracket, probably for the support of an image. The belfry stage of the tower, which has windows with forked tracery, and the small broach spire date from the end of the 13th century. The wide tower arch of four chamfered orders without capitals is probably of the early 14th century. It is evident that there has always been a tendency to settlement at the south-west corner of the church and angle buttresses were added to the tower in the 14th century. There are signs that the tower walls were already bulging when the south arcade was built 100 years earlier. (fn. 74) In the 15th century the roofs of both nave and aisles were raised and a low clerestory was inserted. The line of the earlier nave roof is visible above the tower arch. The roofs still retain some original moulded timbers and carved bosses. The north porch and the windows in the north aisle appear to be contemporary with the clerestory, except for the large three-light east window which is later in date. The chancel, which has an unusually small square-headed east window, appears to have been entirely rebuilt in post-Reformation times.
Archdeacons' reports in the 17th and 18th centuries recommend routine repairs and complain only of defective roofs, damp floors, and defective fittings. (fn. 75) By 1794 cracks were reported in the walls of the tower, which needed underpinning. (fn. 76) Repairs to the church were carried out in 1829 and in 1836 the chancel roof was renewed. (fn. 77) New internal fittings were provided between 1833 and 1844. (fn. 78) In the early 19th century the tower arch was blocked with brickwork.
A restoration took place in 1904-6, when the porch was rebuilt and new three-light windows were inserted in the side walls of the chancel. (fn. 79) In 1934 the church was in poor condition generally and severe structural defects had developed. A restoration, which included repairs to the roofs, was completed in 1936. (fn. 80) In 1951 two buttresses were added near the west end of the south aisle. The architect for both restorations was Albert Herbert of Leicester. (fn. 81) During excavation for the buttresses in 1951 a 13th-century coffin lid of Clipsham stone was unearthed and placed inside the church. (fn. 82)
The plain octagonal font bowl stands on circular supports and is probably of the 13th century. The cover may be the one supplied in response to an archdeacon's request in 1777. (fn. 83) There are early18th-century communion rails and turned balusters of slightly earlier date form part of a modern vestry screen in the north aisle. Several oak bench-ends with carved finials, dating from the 15th or early 16th century, have been incorporated in later pews. In general the wooden fittings appear to date from the refitting which took place just before the middle of the 19th century. The only mural tablets are two small brasses, one being a memorial of the First World War and the other commemorating Walter R. Crabtree (d. 1957). Slate slabs to M. Mason (d. 1746), vicar, and members of his family (1788- 1823) are mounted externally on the east wall of the north aisle.
There are three bells: (i) and (iii) undated; (ii) 1628. (fn. 84) The plate consists of a silver cup and paten of 1638 and a pewter cup and cover. (fn. 85) The registers date from 1661 with a gap in the entries of baptisms from 1800 to 1811. There are earlier bishops' transcripts. (fn. 86)
In 1672 Matthew Clark, an ejected minister, was licensed to preach at Horninghold. (fn. 87) Two houses were licensed as meetinghouses: in 1718 the house of Elizabeth Clarke, and in 1722 that of Richard Patrick. (fn. 88) Nothing further is known of nonconformity in Horninghold.
A Sunday school was opened in 1829 and voluntary contributions paid for the education of 5 boys and 9 girls. At the day school which was opened in 1830 'a young woman' taught, in 1833, 6 boys and 10 girls, who were educated at their parents' expense. (fn. 89) This school was closed after a few years. Horninghold children in 1959 attended school at Hallaton.
John Atkins, by will dated 1727, left land in Horninghold for the provision of £5 a year for such poor persons in the parish 'as should endeavour to obtain a living without pilfering', with preference for persons named Atkins. In 1837 the income was regularly received by the churchwardens and overseers who distributed it in money and fuel to poor persons resident in the parish. (fn. 90) In 1877 the rent received from the land was £10 10s. (fn. 91)
In 1737 Thomas Roberts gave 5 a. of land in the parish to provide 12d. worth of bread each Sunday for poor persons attending morning service. The surplus was to be divided among poor parishioners attending service upon St. Thomas's Day. In 1877 the land was let for £16 10s. a year. (fn. 92)
A piece of ground called the Washpit Piece was said to have been allotted at inclosure in 1730 for the benefit of the poor. In 1837 this land had been lost to the parish and formed part of the estate of the lord of the manor, (fn. 93) but by 1906 it had been recovered. A Charity Commission Scheme of that year consolidated the three parish charities and united the rents of three pieces of land, Washpit Close, Atkins Close, and Roberts Close, into a single fund, then worth £12 19s. a year. (fn. 94) In 1951-3 the annual income of £14 19s. was largely spent in 12 gifts of coal. (fn. 95) In 1958 Washpit Close and Roberts Close were sold to the Brudenell Estates for £250 and the money invested. (fn. 96)