A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In this section
Blaston lies eight miles north-east of Market Harborough and five miles south-west of Uppingham (Rut.) in the valley of a small stream which is a tributary of the brook flowing south through Medbourne into the River Welland. The parish is 1,287 a. in area; it was formerly divided into two chapelries, Blaston St. Giles and Blaston St. Michael, each with its own chapel. (fn. 1) The houses of the village lie on either side of the road which runs up the north side of the valley to join the main road from Market Harborough to Uppingham. There are field tracks to Medbourne and Horninghold. Before 1840 there was another road which ran behind Blaston Hall parallel with the village street but higher up the slopes of the valley. This was part of the main highway between Hallaton and Uppingham, but there is evidence that it was not passable for carriages, which could only enter and leave Blaston by the Hallaton end. (fn. 2) The lord of the manor, the Revd. G. O. Fenwicke (d. 1863), suggested that it should be closed and the town street extended to form the main highway. The vestry accepted his condition that the parish should henceforward be responsible for the road to Horninghold (Mill Field Road) in January 1840; (fn. 3) the main road was blocked by an order of Quarter Sessions in the following Michaelmas and its length allotted to various owners whose land lay alongside. (fn. 4) The soil is chiefly clay and almost the whole parish is devoted to pasture farming.
The village has never been large. The recorded population was 16 in 1086. There were 129 taxpayers in 1377. (fn. 5) In 1428 there were fewer than 10 householders; (fn. 6) in 1563 there were 7 households, and in 1670 27. In 1676 there were 54 communicants, (fn. 7) and in the early 18th century 20 families. (fn. 8) The total population increased during the 19th century from 58 in 1821 to 114 in 1881. In 1951 it was 59. (fn. 9)
Blaston Hall, now demolished, stood on the north side of the road near the west end of the village. The Revd. John Owsley (d. 1835), who was lord of the manor, Rector, and patron of Blaston St. Giles for 68 years, built the house to his own design in the 1790's, when it was described as 'a neat house on a pleasing eminence'. (fn. 10) He used part of the material of the old hall house of the Nevill family which stood on lower ground to the south-west. (fn. 11) Before its demolition c. 1930 (fn. 12) Blaston Hall was a compact two-story stone house with a threewindowed front and a rear wing at right angles to the main block. (fn. 13) The sash windows had prominent keystones and there were stone vases to the front parapet and to the parapets of the truncated gableends. The lower story had been altered by the addition of a continuous wooden projection across the front in which was incorporated a pedimented doorway, opening upon a balustraded terrace. These alterations were probably the work of Thomas Hardcastle in the late 19th century. His son, T. A. Hardcastle, was the last to occupy the house before its demolition. It had been reported empty in 1924. (fn. 14) All that now remains are the late-18thcentury gate piers of two entrance drives, brick stables (also contemporary with the house), and a detached billiard room (probably built by Thomas Hardcastle).
The so-called Manor House, standing on the south side of the village street, is a former farmhouse to which additions were made in the 19th century to provide a residence for the Fenwicke family. This may perhaps be identified with the house used as a hotel for visitors to Holt Spa. (fn. 15) It is in three sections and was divided into three separate dwellings c. 1950. The road front of the central section, representing the original ironstone house, belonged in 1842 to Ann Broughton and was tenanted by Joseph Fletcher. (fn. 16) The eastern section and the garden front were added c. 1850, (fn. 17) probably for the Revd. G. C. Fenwicke. The western section, which now includes Col. P. H. Lloyd's estate office, was built in the late 1890's. (fn. 18) At the northwest corner is a small clock tower of variegated brickwork carrying the arms of Fenwicke. Behind the house are extensive farm buildings built by Col. Lloyd.
The Stone House, occupied in 1958 by Col. Lloyd, was then the only large residence in the village. It has been suggested that it was originally the manor-house built c. 1650 by Everard Goodman (d. 1687), whose grandfather had acquired both the manors in Blaston. (fn. 19) Alternatively Goodman's house may have been erected near the site of the medieval hall of the Nevill family which is known to have stood close to St. Giles's chapel (fn. 20) and of which considerable remains were still in existence at the end of the 18th century. (fn. 21) Although much altered, the Stone House clearly represents a 17thcentury dwelling of considerable status. It is built of ironstone and limestone with a roof of Collyweston slate. The roof line at the west end of the front range has been raised at some period and the original plan of the house has been obscured by the insertion in the 19th and 20th centuries of partitions, fire-places, and a new staircase. A chimney at the east end has an original 17th-century stone fire-place on the ground floor and above it a similar fire-place altered in the 18th, and again in the 19th, century. At this end of the range there are indications of an important first-floor room, having a partly open roof with arch-braced tie beams. The stone-mullioned windows of the road front have been altered and at least one of the gables has either been added or raised in height. A back wing is partly of modern construction.
The Rectory is opposite the garden of Blaston Hall, on or near the site of an earlier parsonage. (fn. 22) The existing house was occupied as a farm-house while the rectors were also lords of the manor, and it may have been built as such in the late 18th century. Another house in the village, known latterly as the White House, became the home of the curate and later of the rector. The present Rectory has been occupied by the incumbent of the united benefice of Blaston and Horninghold since the Second World War. It consists of a double-fronted 18th-century stone house to which a new entrance and a brick wing were added in the mid-19th century. The latter now contains a parish room on the first floor.
West of the Rectory are Crane's Cottages, a restored ironstone pair with a thatched roof and dormer windows. The front carries a tablet inscribed '1647, restored 1907, T. A. H.'. In the early 19th century this building was the Chamberlayne Arms public house. (fn. 23) The few remaining cottages in the village are of ironstone or brick and are built along the main street. The White House and some adjacent cottages, which stood immediately west of the Manor House, had recently been demolished in 1958. (fn. 24) At the extreme east end of the street the Home Farm, a 20th-century brick building, has a stone and brick barn carrying a tablet dated 1832 with initials I.H.D. (fn. 25) Opposite is a pair of cottages with mud walls, probably of 18th-century origin. The roofs are thatched, the eaves swept up to form half-dormers. The two dwellings, one of which is now derelict, are divided by a chimney and a party wall of brickwork, and there is a brick addition at the east end. Each cottage has a single room and a pantry on the ground floor and a halfattic above.
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
Land in Blaston was said to have been granted to Peterborough Abbey before the Conquest by Earl Ralph of Hereford. (fn. 26) This holding is not mentioned in Domesday, but it may have been included in one of the other Peterborough estates in the area. (fn. 27) The abbey held land in Blaston in chief c. 1250, (fn. 28) in 1279, (fn. 29) 1346, (fn. 30) and 1385; in 1385 the estate was described as the manor of BLASTON. (fn. 31) The abbey's overlordship of this manor is not subsequently mentioned, but in 1505 an estate of 40 a. in Blaston was said to be held of the abbey by members of the Roskyn family. (fn. 32) In the 13th and 14th centuries the immediate under-tenants of the abbey's land in Blaston were the members of the Burghley family, lords of Burghley by Stamford (Northants.), who held by serjeanty, (fn. 33) and from them Blaston manor was held by successive members of the family surnamed Blaston.
About 1250 Robert de Blaston held ¼ knight's fee in Blaston. (fn. 34) He may be the Robert son of Walter who held land in Blaston c. 1220, for St. Michael's chapel was said at different times to be in the fee of Robert son of Walter (fn. 35) and in the fee of Peterborough Abbey. (fn. 36) In 1279 this estate was held by Thomas de Blaston as ½ knight's fee from Robert de Burghley, and Thomas contributed to the guard of Rockingham castle (Northants.). (fn. 37) Two carucates in Blaston were conveyed in 1273 by Master Thomas de Blaston to Thomas de Blaston, clerk, who was in possession in 1323. (fn. 38) In 1346 Robert de Blaston was assessed for an aid on 1/8 knight's fee. (fn. 39) In 1374 a Thomas de Blaston, son of another Thomas, conveyed Blaston manor to Richard le Scrope, knight (later Lord Scrope of Bolton), and others, who in 1385 received a mortmain licence to grant the manor to Bradley Priory. (fn. 40) Scrope was a benefactor of Bradley Priory in other ways, (fn. 41) and the negotiations of 1385 should perhaps be interpreted as the preliminaries to the creation of a trust. Although Bradley Priory acknowledged, in 1385, its obligations to contribute to castle guard at Rockingham, (fn. 42) there is no evidence that the priory held this manor for its own use. On the contrary a manor at Blaston was held in the late 15th century by Elizabeth Scrope, daughter of the younger son of Henry, Lord Scrope, and her husband William Beaumont, Lord Beaumont. Beaumont died in 1507, (fn. 43) and on Elizabeth's subsequent marriage to John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Crown confirmed her possession of the manor for life. (fn. 44) In 1538, after the extinction of the life-interest of Roger Ratcliffe, the Crown granted the manor to Thomas Cromwell (later Earl of Essex), who in the same year conveyed it to trustees for the use of his son Gregory. (fn. 45) The estate became known as CROMWELL'S manor. (fn. 46) Gregory's son Henry granted it in 1580 to his brother Thomas, who sold it in 1595 to Everard Goodman. (fn. 47) Goodman, who bought other estates in Blaston in 1580 and 1610, (fn. 48) acquired Grey's manor in 1612, (fn. 49) thus uniting all the known manorial estates in Blaston in one ownership.
The other manorial estates in Blaston derive from the holdings recorded in Domesday. In 1086 Countess Judith held one carucate, the soke of which was held by Robert de Todeni, and which was held from the countess by Robert de Buci. (fn. 50) Robert de Todeni held 2 carucates belonging to Medbourne manor, (fn. 51) and another 2 carucates which he held of the royal soke of Great Bowden. (fn. 52) The precise relationship between these three holdings and the manors that later emerged in Blaston cannot be explained.
Richard I is said to have granted a manor of BLASTON to Hugh Nevill the forester, the grant being confirmed in 1204. (fn. 53) The overlordship of this manor descended in the family of Nevill of Essex (fn. 54) until c. 1280. In 1292 William de Kirkby claimed that John de Nevill (who succeeded his brother Hugh in 1269 and d. 1282) had conveyed his interest to William's brother John de Kirkby, from whom William had inherited the lordship. This was disputed by the under-tenant (from whom William held a separate estate of 88 a.), but William held the manor at his death in 1302, (fn. 55) and the overlordship was inherited by the youngest of his four sisters and co-heirs, Mabel, widow of William Grimbaud. (fn. 56) Thereafter there are only doubtful references to the overlordship.
This manor was held of the Nevills by undertenants of the same surname, the first of whom may have been the Ivo de Nevill who is named in 1190. (fn. 57) Ralph de Nevill held land in Blaston worth 110s. c. 1227, (fn. 58) Robert de Nevill held ¼ knight's fee there c. 1229 and 1247, (fn. 59) and in 1247 Hugh de Nevill and his wife Juliane received 10 librates of land in Blaston from Hugh's father Ralph Nevill. (fn. 60) Possibly this same Hugh was holding Blaston manor in 1292 as one knight's fee. (fn. 61) In 1302 and 1303 16 virgates in Blaston were held by Ralph de Nevill as ½ knight's fee, (fn. 62) in 1325 a manor of Blaston is said to have been held by Theobald de Nevill of Peterborough Abbey, (fn. 63) and in 1356 16 virgates in Blaston were held by Ralph Nevill of one William whose surname is not known. (fn. 64) It was found in 1359 that Ralph de Nottingham, who had the custody of the lands of Joan, daughter of William de Nevill of Blaston, had committed waste on the land of Joan's inheritance, containing 2 carucates in Blaston. (fn. 65)
By this period the Nevill lands in Blaston may have become confused with lands belonging to the Nottingham family. The lordship of Belvoir descended from Robert de Todeni, lord of Blaston in 1086, to Isabel, daughter of William d'Aubigny; she married Robert de Ros, whose grandson William, Lord Ros of Helmsley, died in 1343 (fn. 66) as overlord of ¼ fee in Blaston held by Hugh de Nottingham. (fn. 67) William de Ros's widow Margery held the same fee at her death in 1363, (fn. 68) as did Mary, widow of John, Lord Ros (d. 1393), at her death in 1394. (fn. 69) The Belvoir fee in Blaston is not subsequently mentioned.
The under-tenant in 1363, as in 1343, was Hugh de Nottingham. (fn. 70) He had been succeeded by 1394 by Ralph de Nottingham. (fn. 71) The interest of the Nottinghams in the Nevills' estate is suggested by the claim, in his wife's right, of Hugh de Nottingham to a half share in the advowson of the chapel of St. Giles, Blaston, formerly exercised by members of the Nevill family, (fn. 72) and by Ralph de Nottingham's custody of the Blaston estate of Joan de Nevill in 1359. (fn. 73) A Hugh de Nottingham and his wife Juliane are mentioned in 1327, (fn. 74) along with John de Holt, who with his wife Margaret claimed the other half share of the advowson of St. Giles's chapel in 1307. (fn. 75) A moiety of Blaston manor was in 1348 the subject of a fine between Hugh de Nottingham and Juliane de Nottingham, (fn. 76) who was said in 1346 to hold ¼ knight's fee of Peterborough Abbey (fn. 77) —a statement that may be related to that about Theobald de Nevill's holding in 1325. (fn. 78)
In 1449 John and Joan Keynsham were party to a settlement of Blaston manor and the advowson of St. Giles's chapel, (fn. 79) and they may have held either the estate which had belonged to Hugh and Ralph de Nottingham or that of the Nevill family, and perhaps both. John Keynsham of Exeter was mentioned in connexion with Blaston in 1425, (fn. 80) and had held lands in Blaston of the Crown in socage in 1402; (fn. 81) Robert Keynsham held the advowson of the chapel in 1468 and 1481. (fn. 82)
Juliane de Nottingham's ¼ knight's fee was apparently that granted to Bradley Priory by Richard le Scrope in 1392, (fn. 83) for in 1428 the priory's land in Blaston, assessed at ¼ knight's fee, was said to have been formerly held by Juliane de Nottingham. (fn. 84) In 1537 this land was granted to Humphrey Nevill who conveyed it soon afterwards to Thomas Smith. (fn. 85) A Thomas Nevill, alias Smyth, sold what appears to be the same estate, described as the manor of BLASTON, to Humphrey Grey and Mary Grey, a widow, in 1611. (fn. 86) In the following year Grey sold a manor of exactly comparable extent to Everard Goodman, (fn. 87) who thus added GREY'S (fn. 88) manor to Cromwell's. Grey's father John had in 1594 acquired an estate from John Harrington, (fn. 89) whose father, Sir James Harrington, had died seised of a 'manor' in Blaston in 1592. (fn. 90) In the deed by which John Harrington conveyed this estate to John Grey in 1594 the total extent is given as about 1,200 a. (fn. 91) (far too large to have fitted into Blaston with the other known estates), and at John Grey's death in 1610 the estate comprised an unspecified 'manor' of Blaston, held in chief as 1/40th knight's fee and worth 20s. a year, together with a capital messuage called Basset House. (fn. 92) Nichols expressed doubts about Harrington's title to a manor in Blaston, (fn. 93) and it seems likely that what Grey acquired from Harrington was no more than a house and grounds with perhaps some manorial rights, actual or pretended, in Blaston.
Everard Goodman was succeeded in 1640 by his son Everard, who sold parts of the estate. Everard's successor William Goodman sold the estate in 1679 to Edward Conyers (d. 1701), from whom it descended to his son-in-law Baldwin Conyers. (fn. 94) John Conyers sold it in 1750 to John Owsley, an apothecary of Hallaton. (fn. 95) On the death of Owsley's son the Revd. John Owsley in 1835, the manor passed to the latter's son-in-law the Revd. G. Owsley Fenwicke (d. 1863), who was succeeded by his son the Revd. G. C. Fenwicke. He died in 1893 (fn. 96) leaving the manor to his widow Kezia. She died c. 1910, (fn. 97) and thereafter the manorial rights seem to have been extinguished. The lord of the manor was not the chief landowner in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1839 Thomas Chamberlayne of Horninghold owned 293 a. in St. Giles's chapelry, compared with 135 a. belonging to the lord of the manor. Some land in Blaston then belonged to the Revd. John Henry Dent of Hallaton, (fn. 98) and more was purchased for the Price-Dent estate towards the end of the century. (fn. 99) In 1922 the chief owners were the Price-Dents and Thomas Cross of Horninghold. In 1937 Col. P. H. Lloyd owned the greater part of Blaston. (fn. 100)
In 1835 Blaston Hall was separated from the rest of the manorial estate and passed to the Revd. John Owsley's son W. P. M. Owsley (d. 1868), and was subsequently acquired by Thomas Hardcastle (d. 1902), a Lancashire cotton merchant. (fn. 101) The Stone House, which may have preceded Blaston Hall as the residence of the lords of the manor, (fn. 102) was occupied after 1919 by Hardcastle's daughter Mrs. C. W. B. Fernie, and from 1937 by Col. P. H. Lloyd; Mrs. Fernie and Col. Lloyd were in turn joint-masters of the Fernie Hunt. (fn. 103)
The Nevill family of Holt held some property in Blaston and at the end of the 18th century were held to have some manorial rights although these were not exactly definable. (fn. 104) Land in Blaston was held at the Dissolution by Dingley Preceptory (Northants.), and this was granted in 1553 to James Greenwood and Dunstan Clarke of Market Harborough. (fn. 105)
The 5 carucates entered for Blaston in 1086 supported a recorded population of 16. There were 15 socmen with 3 ploughs on that part of Blaston belonging to Medbourne. (fn. 106) A villein dwelt on the carucate belonging to the Countess Judith; this holding was worth 2s. compared with 10d. before the Conquest. (fn. 107) No population is enumerated for the king's land. In 1279 Thomas de Blaston held 4½ virgates, part in his own possession, part let to 3 tenants for scutage. Hugh Nevill held one carucate in demesne, one in villeinage, and half a carucate was let to free tenants. (fn. 108)
Blaston probably formed part of the royal forest on the borders of Leicestershire and Rutland until it was disafforested in 1235. In an Exchequer suit of 1259 about common of pasture, it was stated that all the places surrounding Blaston had once been part of the forest, and that after the disafforestation all men were at liberty to encroach upon the waste. (fn. 109) A dispute of 1289 over some land in Blaston suggests that it had been recently disafforested: Thomas de Blaston claimed to own the land as separate pasture, but Hugh Spayne and other Blaston men, claiming rights of common in the land, had been clearing the trees and hedges. (fn. 110) In 1279 Robert de Ros was said to possess an inclosed wood in Blaston. (fn. 111) Further suits involving the cutting down of undergrowth and trees were brought in 1311 and 1327. (fn. 112) In 1328 Thomas de Blaston, who wished to inclose a piece of pasture which he claimed as his, was supported in his claim. (fn. 113)
The inclosure of Blaston took place in the middle of the 17th century. Two hundred acres were converted from tillage to pasture c. 1630, (fn. 114) and the whole parish was inclosed during the Interregnum. (fn. 115) No further information is available. There were three open fields before the inclosure, South Field, Mill Field, and Park Field. (fn. 116) In 1703 a glebe terrier recorded that the inclosure had been made at the time of the Great Rebellion. (fn. 117) Conversion to pasture was apparently complete and lasting. In 1801 only 39½ a. of arable remained, 2¼ of them in Blaston St. Giles. The incumbent then recorded that in the neighbouring villages there was far too little tillage to support the inhabitants and that there was general complaint. (fn. 118) In 1839 only 1½ a. of the 914 a. of Blaston St. Giles were arable. (fn. 119)
There was a windmill in Blaston, held by Ralph Nevill, in 1302, (fn. 120) and one is mentioned in conveyances of the manor in the 17th century. It seems to be last mentioned c. 1675. (fn. 121) One of the open fields was called Mill Field.
Blaston St. Michael was administered as part of Hallaton. (fn. 122) Blaston St. Giles raised a rate of £19 in 1776, an annual average of £37 in 1783–5, and £115 in 1802–3; it had no workhouse and outdoor relief was provided for 5 adults and 9 children in 1802–3. (fn. 123) A few cottages to house the poor were built c. 1800 on the waste by the overseers who paid a quit-rent to the lord of the manor. (fn. 124) In 1836 Blaston was included in the Uppingham Union. (fn. 125) The vestry elected annually 2 overseers, 2 surveyors of the highways, and a constable. (fn. 126)
Blaston was divided by the early 13th century into two chapelries, and both chapels were mentioned c. 1220. St. Giles's chapel, which at a later date served the greater part of the small valley in which the village lies, was then said to belong to Medbourne church. (fn. 127) It was already, in fact, independent of Medbourne: in 1204 it was said to be within the limits of the parish of Medbourne, but to be a free chapel having no obligations to the parish church except for the payment of a pension of 5s. (fn. 128) About 1223, as in 1204, Ralph de Nevill held the right to present the chaplain, (fn. 129) who received all the income of the chapelry, including tithes. (fn. 130) Nichols believed that the chapel's independence arose from its being founded on royal demesne by Richard I. (fn. 131) In 1307 John de Holt and Hugh de Nottingham, each claiming a moiety of the advowson in his wife's right and each having presented to the chapel, agreed that John de Holt's presentation should stand because John's wife was older than her sister, Hugh's wife. (fn. 132) Subsequent presentations were made by members of the Nottingham family until 1396, the three following by John Mitton of Hallaton; and in 1468, after various people had exercised the advowson, Robert Keynsham was described as hereditary patron. He made grants of the advowson for single turns in 1469 and 1481. (fn. 133) Thomas Cromwell and his son Gregory held the advowson from 1538 (fn. 134) although none of the previous lords of their manor of Blaston is known to have had any rights in it. In 1555 the parents of Henry Cromwell's wife presented. (fn. 135) Thereafter the advowson descended with the manor; (fn. 136) from 1738 it was regarded as a donative and the patron was allowed to officiate himself. (fn. 137) In 1930 Blaston St. Giles and Blaston St. Michael were formed into a single ecclesiastical parish, independent of the former mother churches, the benefice being united with that of Horninghold, (fn. 138) and in 1957 the patron of the combined living of Horninghold and Blaston was W. R. Crabtree. (fn. 139)
St. Giles's chapel was valued at 5 marks in 1217 and 1254, and at £5 1s. 8d. in 1291. (fn. 140) In 1428 no valuation was made and the chapel paid no tax because it was said that there were fewer than 10 households in the chapelry. (fn. 141) In 1543 the benefice was valued at £7 6s. 8d. (fn. 142) In 1313 it was stated that for the services which he performed the chaplain was to take all the small tithes from the Nevills' manor, and half the fees for mortuaries. The Rector of Medbourne received all the offerings made at the first Mass said each day at Blaston, and in return for the small tithes, the tithes of a place called 'Rudewong'. (fn. 143)
John Owsley (d. 1835), Rector of St. Giles from 1768 until his death, claimed that by prosecuting those who paid tithes he had successfully increased the annual value of his living from £60 to £260. (fn. 144) The great tithes of St. Giles's chapelry were commuted in 1839 for a payment of £175, including the tithes of the glebe, which then consisted of 43 a. and 11 cow commons amounting to another 11 a. (fn. 145)
In 1313 a dispute arose between the incumbent of the chapel and the bishop over the bishop's rights to the chapel. (fn. 146) The rector, wishing to assert his independence, was required to prove that St. Giles's was a free chapel within the parish of Medbourne and without parish, parishioners, or cure, that it had been customary to institute to it as to a free chapel, that the rector and his predecessors had been accustomed to be free of all payments except the 5s. a year to the church of Medbourne, and that all these facts were well known in Blaston and the neighbourhood. One of the witnesses who were called, Roger de Holt, gave an account of the foundation of the chapel in the reign of Richard I, and stated that it was wholly within the parish of Medbourne and that its liberties had been confirmed by Bishop Grosseteste in a document which he himself had seen. At the time of this dispute the rector or chaplain at St. Giles's held services and heard confessions there by virtue of an agreement made with the Rector of Medbourne, so that the inhabitants of Blaston, especially old people and children, should be in no danger from making the journey to Medbourne church, which, although short, involved the crossing of a brook which was liable to flood. The incumbent of the chapel evidently won his case and St. Giles's was not subject to episcopal authority. By 1626 all burials took place at Medbourne for both St. Giles's and St. Michael's. (fn. 147)
The chapel of ST. GILES stands at the west end of the village. A visitation made in 1619 recorded that the chancel wall was damaged, (fn. 148) and in 1639 the chancel needed painting and paving. (fn. 149) The chapel was rebuilt in 1714, (fn. 150) the new building being a simple rectangular structure with a roundheaded doorway, two-light mullioned windows, and a small bell-cote. (fn. 151) It was demolished and again rebuilt in 1878 by the lord of the manor, the Revd. G. C. Fenwicke. The architect was G. E. Street. (fn. 152) The chapel is built of squared and coursed ironstone and roofed with slates. It is in the Gothic style of the 13th century, with lancet windows and a hammer-beam roof, and consists of nave, small apsidal chancel, south porch, vestry, and bell-cote for one bell. All the fittings date from the last rebuilding, with the exception of the bell which was cast by Thomas Eayre of Kettering in 1720. (fn. 153) There is a mural tablet to George Owsley Fenwicke and his wife, erected by their son G. C. Fenwicke, rector, who built the church. The plate includes a fine silver gilt cup of c. 1500, a good deal restored but a notable piece of early church plate. (fn. 154) The registers of baptisms, burials, and marriages date from 1676 and are complete.
The chapel of St. Michael is first mentioned c. 1220 as belonging to that half of Hallaton church owned by the Martivals. (fn. 155) The chapelry comprised the eastern part of the village and several scattered fields. (fn. 156) St. Michael's was served three days a week from Hallaton in 1220 and continued to be closely attached to the church there. The small paddock in which the chapel actually stands belonged to the rectors of Hallaton until it was sold some years ago. (fn. 157) The tithes of the chapelry were commuted in 1842 for a payment of £76 a year to the Rector of Hallaton, including the glebe tithe of £2. There were 7 a. of glebe. (fn. 158) St. Michael's remained a dependent chapel until in 1930 it was joined with St. Giles's to form a separate parish. (fn. 159)
The chapel of ST. MICHAEL stands in a field to the south of the main street. The present building was erected in 1867–8 by the Revd. G. C. Fenwicke. (fn. 160) St. Michael's seems to have been kept in very good condition in the 17th and 18th centuries. A drawing of 1794 shows it to have been a very small postReformation building with square-headed windows and gables with parapets. (fn. 161) In 1838 the archdeacon reported that the roof was in disrepair and the east and west ends cracking away from the side walls. (fn. 162) In 1842 he described St. Michael's as a most mean building in a dilapidated condition, its timbers rotten, slates loose, and ceiling falling. (fn. 163) The chapel was apparently allowed to fall into worse and worse repair until it was rebuilt. In 1858 it was described as 'delapidated, dirty and dangerous'. (fn. 164) St. Michael's was in 1958 a small rectangular building in much the same style as St. Giles's. No services had been held there since the First World War, the windows were broken, and the roof was in poor repair. It has one bell which bears no date. (fn. 165) The plate consists of a silver cup, two dishes, and a paten, all dated 1735, the gift of the Revd. George Fenwicke of Hallaton, and a pewter flagon of 1698. (fn. 166) The registers of baptisms, burials, and marriages begin in 1676 and are virtually complete.
In 1715 a dissenting conventicle was licensed in the house of Thomas Wilson at Blaston. (fn. 167) In 1829 there were said to be 30 Baptists. (fn. 168) There has apparently never been a chapel in the parish.
In 1830 a day and Sunday school was opened at Blaston. The fees of the children—7 boys and 9 girls attended in 1833—were paid partly by subscription and partly by their parents. (fn. 169) In 1838 the Sunday school had an average attendance of 20. (fn. 170) The school seems to have been closed shortly after this date. The children attended the school at Hallaton in 1956.
By the will of Valentine Goodman, proved in 1685, the Blaston poor became entitled to an eighth of the income of a charity founded by him for the benefit of several parishes. (fn. 171) This share amounted to £15 in 1912 and £8 in 1952. (fn. 172) At the beginning of the 18th century £4 was divided between two poor persons in respect of another gift, of which nothing further is known. (fn. 173) By will proved in 1867 the Revd. J. H. Dent of Hallaton left £100 for the poor of Blaston. From 1907 this gift was represented by £89 10s. stock, which yielded £2 4s. 8d. in 1956. (fn. 174)