A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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The parish of Cranoe, which is 805 a. in area, lies five miles north of Market Harborough. It is roughly triangular in shape; the south-western angle extends to the top of Langton Caudle which rises to over 475 ft.; the northern angle to hills which reach a height of more than 500 ft.; and the south-eastern angle to the valley of a small tributary stream of the River Welland. The area is chiefly covered with boulder clay and the soil is a loamy clay largely devoted to pasture.
The village stands in the centre of the parish where the road from Tur Langton to Hallaton running from west to east crosses the road from Glooston to Welham. Part of the latter north of Cranoe is believed to follow the line of the Gartree road. (fn. 1) Most of the houses lie on the north side of the road from Tur Langton to Hallaton where the ground rises steeply. The parish church stands at the top of the village where the Glooston road, which runs in a gully up the side of the hill, turns sharply to the west. School Lane, which runs up the hillside parallel with the Glooston road but further west, is a cul-desac. In the Middle Ages a roadside cross probably stood where the road from Cranoe to Hallaton passes into Slawston parish, a place which was known as Cranoe Cross. (fn. 2) A little further along the same road was a wayside well known as Holy Well or Our Lady's Well and fed by one of the springs which are frequent in the neighbourhood. (fn. 3)
In 1086 the recorded population was 5. (fn. 4) There were 8 households in 1563 and 56 communicants were returned in 1603. There were 23 households in 1670 and 69 communicants were returned in 1676. (fn. 5) There were 27 families in the early 18th century. (fn. 6) In 1801 the population was 91. It rose to 137 in 1841, after which there was a gradual decline to 98 in 1901. During the 20th century this decline continued. In 1951 the population was 41. (fn. 7) Foundations of houses recently demolished are visible, particularly on the east side of the Glooston road. Cottages which stood immediately south of the churchyard have disappeared since 1826. (fn. 8) At the beginning of the 20th century there were remains of buildings in fields at the west end of the village, probably on or near the site of the former brickworks. (fn. 9) There are two pumps on the south side of the road going to Tur Langton. By one of them, at the bottom of School Lane, the R.D.C. had installed a cistern shortly before 1958, the only source of purified drinking water. (fn. 10)
Since the 16th century the greater part of Cranoe has belonged to the Brudenell family of Deene (Northants.), subsequently earls of Cardigan. The former Rectory stands on the east side of the Glooston road opposite the church. It is a two-storied brick house with whitewashed walls and a hipped roof of stone slates. It was built by the rector, J. H. Hill, who in 1838 acquired the site from Lord Cardigan in exchange for the homestead on the south side of the churchyard which had previously been the Rectory. The latter is now called the Manor House. It is a three-storied red-brick farm-house mostly of c. 1830 but with modern bay windows and a new frontage of 1910. The two-story wing at the rear is older and probably represents the cottage occupied by the clerk in 1833. (fn. 11) Cranoe school on the east corner of School Lane is built of ironstone and has a symmetrical frontage with diagonal glazingbars to the windows. It carries the date, 1843, and the arms of Lord Cardigan on the central gable. There is one public house, 'The Cardigan Arms', at the cross-roads on the east corner of the Glooston road. This building is a two-storied cottage built of ironstone with red-brick dressings, roofed with slate. The other houses in the village are chiefly of a similar character, but one thatched range in School Lane, probably dating from the early 18th century, has a lower story of ironstone with brickwork above.
John Harwood Hill (1809-86), the author of The History of the Hundred of Gartree, was rector from 1837 until his death. (fn. 12) His history, in which he made extensive use of Nichols's work, appeared in two parts: a history of Langton in 1867, which he originally undertook to raise funds for the rebuilding of the church at Tur Langton (1866) and to be 'a lasting record of one of the greatest church restorations ever made within the memory of man, in any one parish of the Archdeaconry of Leicester, or Diocese of Peterborough', (fn. 13) and a history of Market Harborough in 1875.
MANOR AND LESSER ESTATES.
In 1086 Cranoe was held from the Countess Judith by an under-tenant named Azo. (fn. 14) By 1136 the overlordship of the manor had passed to the Earl of Leicester who inherited more than one of the countess's Domesday holdings. Richard Basset held it from the earl. (fn. 15) The manor remained the property of the earls of Leicester and Lancaster, and the dukes of Lancaster. (fn. 16) The Basset family continued to hold from them until at least 1361. (fn. 17)
The early history of the demesne tenants is obscure. It is probable that in the early 13th century the manor of CRANOE was held, like that of Stockerston, with which it was closely connected during the Middle Ages, by the Sampson family, who held the advowson. (fn. 18) The Boyville family held land in Cranoe by the middle of the century, and probably held the manor. In 1279 William Boyville held his property by knight service from William Murdak, whose daughter Alice married Boyville's son Thomas. (fn. 19) The Murdaks' claim to land in Cranoe was probably, like their claim to land in Stockerston, asserted through the wardship of an heir. (fn. 20) Their connexion, if any existed, with the Sampsons is not known, and in Cranoe they conveyed their property to the Boyvilles, whereas in Stockerston they kept it in their own hands. In 1268 William Boyville received a carucate of land in Cranoe by fine from William and Iseult Murdak. (fn. 21) This property passed to Thomas and Alice Boyville. In 1304 Thomas received a grant of free warren in his demesne at Cranoe. (fn. 22) After his death shortly before 1308 his lands descended successively to his sons William (d. 1311) and John. (fn. 23) John Boyville (d. by 1356) was succeeded by another John, who died in 1377. Thomas Boyville, the latter's son, died in 1404 and his son John, then a minor, succeeded. John Boyville held the manor until his death before May 1468. He was succeeded by three daughters, Elizabeth, wife of John Cockayne, who did not long outlive her father, Anne, and Margaret. (fn. 24) Elizabeth's estate, of which Cranoe formed part, passed to her husband. (fn. 25)
Before 1527 the manor was acquired by Sir Robert Brudenell (d. 1531), who had purchased land there in 1515. (fn. 26). It has since descended in the Brudenell family, (fn. 27) and was in 1958 the property of Mr. George Brudenell of Deene (Northants.).
In 1086 a carucate of land in Cranoe belonged to the king as part of the royal soke of Great Bowden. (fn. 28) It was mentioned again in 1130, (fn. 29) and in 1279 was said to belong to the soke of Stretton, then held by Richard de Harcourt, to whom its tenants paid 17s. 4d. yearly. (fn. 30) The descent of this land is not known, but it was probably purchased before 1531 by Sir Robert Brudenell, who was then incorrectly said to hold all his property in Cranoe by suit of court at Stretton. The inquisition on the death of his son Thomas does not mention this. (fn. 31)
There was no large monastic holding in Cranoe. A small grant of land there was made to Launde Priory in 1350. (fn. 32)
In 1086 Cranoe was assessed at 3 carucates, two of them the Countess Judith's land and 1 royal demesne. Judith's tenant Azo had 1 plough on his demesne, and 4 villeins had another. There had been 3 ploughs before the Conquest. There were 4 a. of meadow, and woodland 4 by 2 furlongs. The estate was valued at 20s.: it had been only 8s. before the Conquest. (fn. 33) In 1279 William Boyville had 2 virgates in demesne and 1½ in villeinage. There were 4 freeholdings: 1 of ½ carucate, 2 of 1 virgate, including the rector's lands, and 1 of ½ virgate. (fn. 34) The Boyvilles did not live at Cranoe during the Middle Ages but at Stockerston. (fn. 35) In 1368-9 the bailiff's account for the manor included a payment of 30s. 8d. to the lord in his chamber at Stockerston. (fn. 36)
In 1381 15 tenants at will and their wives contributed to the poll tax. No free tenants are mentioned. The other inhabitants listed were a shepherd, a labourer, the rector's servant, and one man whose occupation is not given. (fn. 37) Two free tenants are mentioned in 1440-1. William Fowler held a messuage and ½ virgate, for which he made yearly payments of 6½d. and 3 birds; Thomas Trenchant held a messuage and 2 a. and paid ½d. and 2 birds. Sixteen tenants at will are mentioned in this survey, some holding considerable property, like Thomas Thorp who paid 40s. a year to have the farm of the manor, and 4s. 4d. for other lands. The other rents ranged from 40s. for a messuage and 2 virgates of land, to 16d. for 2 crofts and a rood. (fn. 38)
The three open fields were known as South, West, and North Fields in the Middle Ages. (fn. 39) In 1527 several tenants were presented for having too many sheep in the fallow field and two of them were each said to be pasturing 100 sheep. The manorial court decided that each tenant should pasture no more than 70 sheep. (fn. 40) In 1536 it was stated that no one was to have his sheep kept by any but the common shepherd. (fn. 41) Cranoe Close had been created for a sheep pasture before 1560. (fn. 42) In 1583 the Rector of Cranoe released all the tithes out of the 'new close' or Cranoe Close to Sir Edmund Brudenell for 60 years or the grantor's life-time, for which he was to have pasturage in the close for 5 cows and 1 horse, Sir Edmund finding hay for the animals in the winter. (fn. 43) Three years later the rector released to Thomas Brudenell his rights of common in the great pasture of Cranoe called the High Field, and in a newlyinclosed close called Innam Leys. (fn. 44) Cranoe Close lay to the west of the bridle road to Keythorpe, between North Field, immediately to the north of the village, and Wood Nook at the extremity of the parish. Innam Leys (sometimes called Innam Close) lay very near the village on the south side. (fn. 45) About 1598 William Halford of Welham was reported to have stopped up the road from Cranoe to Market Harborough by means of a new inclosure. (fn. 46)
By 1637 considerable inclosure had affected the area between the village and the boundary with Slawston and Welham, though Burrough Field in the south-west, North Field, and Radley Field remained open. The estate survey made in 1637 states that the total area of the parish was 807 a., and of this the demesne of 306 a. was let to Edward Bond. There were 5 other main tenants holding land in parcels ranging from 65 to 21 a., and 5 cottagers with very small amounts of land. Two free tenants held 6 and 7 a. respectively. The cow pasture was reckoned at 15 a. and the Great Farm (193 a.) was probably another common pasture. There was also a common of 2 a. called Bushy Banks. (fn. 47) At Cranoe, as on their neighbouring estates, the Brudenells abandoned the policy of farming their estate themselves and began to draw increased profits from leasing. Cranoe Close, in the family's own hands in 1583 and 1588, was leased by 1606. (fn. 48) It then yielded £100, and it was leased for £120 in 1617. By a new 7-year lease in 1635 the rent was raised to £158 17s. 6d. (fn. 49) In 1606-7 the total rental of Cranoe was £118 7s. 6d.; by 1635 it had been increased to £264 2s. 9d. (fn. 50) There was still a considerable amount of open land later in the 17th century, and in 1679 there were three fields: Nether Radley Field, Burrough Field, and Thrally Field. (fn. 51)
From the late 17th century Cranoe was administered in close connexion with Glooston, and was one of the four Brudenell estates in the area which owed suit of court at Slawston. (fn. 52) In 1659 a division of sheep walks between Cranoe and Glooston was ordered, with tellers of cattle for each village to see that the allotted stints were not exceeded. (fn. 53)
The parish was finally inclosed with Glooston under an award of 1828, at which date it was estimated that 557 a. of Cranoe remained open. (fn. 54) In 1801 only 155 a. were stated to be arable, so it seems that although remaining open, a considerable part of the open fields was under pasture. The three former open fields seem by 1828 to have been subdivided into five: Radley Field, Burrough Field, East Field, Church Field, and Townside Field. There were only three owners, of whom Lord Cardigan as lord of the manor received over 405 a. (fn. 55)
A 'town house' is mentioned in 1637, (fn. 59) and in 1776 £1 13s. 4d. was spent on the rent of a workhouse, and housing for poor persons. (fn. 60) In 1802-3 out-relief was given to 8 adults and 4 children. (fn. 61) In 1835 Cranoe was placed in the Market Harborough Union. (fn. 62)
By the inclosure award (1828) Stone-pit Close, a gravel and stone pit 2 a. in extent, was allotted to the churchwardens as a source of road-mending material for parish roads. By about 1870 the gravel and other materials had been exhausted, and the land was let, the rent being expended on the upkeep of parish property. After 1894 it was paid to the R.D.C. in part satisfaction of rates due from the parish. (fn. 63)
There was a priest at Cranoe by 1199, (fn. 64) and the church was probably founded earlier in the 12th century. It may have been originally a daughter church of Welham, for about 1220 burials still took place at Welham although in all other respects Cranoe seems to have been completely independent. (fn. 65) The living, a rectory, was united with the vicarage of Slawston in 1930. In 1956 this united benefice was combined with the united benefice of Stonton Wyville and Glooston under the name of Stonton Wyville. (fn. 66)
In 1220 the patron was an unknown member of the Sampson family. (fn. 67) In 1240-1 a presentation was made by Eustace de Folville who presumably held the advowson for a single turn. (fn. 68) In 1274 William Boyville was stated to have recovered the advowson from William and Iseult Murdak. (fn. 69) Thereafter the advowson descended with the manor.
The church was valued at 2 marks a year in 1254, (fn. 70) at £5 in 1291, (fn. 71) and at £4 13s. 4d. in 1428. (fn. 72) In 1535 the net value was £8 16s. 8d. (fn. 73) In 1650 the living was worth £30, and at the end of the 18th century £57 15s. 1d. (fn. 74) The allotment of land in lieu of tithes in 1828 brought the value of the living to £181 in 1831. (fn. 75)
In 1279 the rector held one virgate of land (fn. 76) and the rectors continued to hold a small estate in Cranoe. In 1637 it consisted of 34 a. of land. (fn. 77) At the inclosure in 1828 the rector received more than 35 a. in lieu of glebe and common rights, and about 103 a. in lieu of tithes. (fn. 78) In 1846 the rectorial estate was said to be 145 a. (fn. 79) but it was sold after the First World War and the proceeds invested. (fn. 80) The Rectory was said to be ruined in 1777, when the living was vacant, and it was supposed that the new incumbent would recover enough dilapidations to rebuild it. (fn. 81) Rebuilding took place before 1796, but although the house was then new it needed re-thatching and repairs to a chimney. (fn. 82) In 1833 the rectory was described as little more than a cottage in which the clerk lived, both the rector and curate being nonresident, the former out of the county and the latter at Kibworth. (fn. 83) In 1838 a new house was built on a site given by Lord Cardigan in exchange for the old one. (fn. 84)
The church of ST. MICHAEL stands above the village and to the north of it. It is built of ironstone with limestone dressings and consists of nave, chancel, west tower, and south porch. With the exception of the tower it was rebuilt in 1846-9. A plain circular font survives from the 12th century.
The base of the tower is of 13th-century date and has a single lancet window in its west wall. The upper stage, with its belfry windows and castellated parapet, is an addition of the 15th or early 16th century. There is no spire. The earlier church had a south aisle, probably dating from late in the medieval period, and a post-Reformation south porch. (fn. 85) In 1619 it was reported that there was no pulpit and that the font, which stood in the chancel, lacked a cover. (fn. 86) Throughout the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries the fabric remained in reasonably good condition, only routine repairs and replacements being recommended in the archdeacons' reports. (fn. 87) It was still in good repair in 1842 (fn. 88) but was severely damaged by a storm in 1846. The rector, J. H. Hill, took this opportunity of rebuilding the body of the church. (fn. 89) The architect was I. G. Bland of Market Harborough (fn. 90) and the style a fairly faithful reproduction of the Perpendicular. This was the first of the many rebuilding schemes which took place in the Gartree Deanery during the later 19th century. (fn. 91)
The organ stands at the west end of the nave, blocking the tower arch which was altered to accommodate it. The handsome pews with poppy-head finials were partly paid for in 1848 by a grant from the Incorporated Church Building Society. (fn. 92) There are no mural tablets but the east window contains memorial glass by Powell (fn. 93) to the 6th Earl of Cardigan and his sister (d. 1837 and 1846). The south chancel window commemorates the completion of the rebuilding in 1849. There are two bells, both undated. (fn. 94) The plate includes a silver cup of c. 1725, a set of silver plate presented by Adeline, Countess of Cardigan, in 1876, and a set of pewter plate given by Elizabeth, Countess of Cardigan, in 1728. (fn. 95) The registers begin in 1653 and are complete.
There was a schoolmaster in Cranoe in 1629. (fn. 98) In 1833 Cranoe children attended a Sunday school at Glooston, but by 1836 Cranoe Sunday school had been opened. (fn. 99) Cranoe National School, designed by the rector, J. H. Hill, was erected in 1843 by the 7th Earl of Cardigan (d. 1868) for the use of children in four parishes where the Brudenell estates lay-Cranoe, Stonton Wyville, Glooston, and Slawston. (fn. 100) The building was enlarged in 1874. (fn. 101) In the two years following the school's acceptance of a parliamentary grant in 1876 the average attendance increased from 26 to 47 children. (fn. 102) In 1910 the average attendance was 30. (fn. 103) In 1929 the school was restricted to juniors and after this date senior children attended school at Church Langton. (fn. 104) The average attendance of juniors in 1933 was 29. (fn. 105) In 1952 the school accepted 'controlled' status under the local authority, and in 1957 the attendance of juniors and infants was 27. (fn. 106)
Katherine Oswin (d. 1656) (fn. 107) and Christopher Bent gave £6 at an unknown date, and Henry Bootheway by will dated 1780 bequeathed £5; the interest from both sums was to be given to the poor. In 1837 the income was distributed by William Warner of Slawston who held the principal. (fn. 108) From 1896 the gift was represented by £10 stock, worth 5s. yearly in 1953. The income was not paid out annually but was allowed to accumulate to provide for larger occasional payments. (fn. 109)