Parishes: Courteenhall

A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1937.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


'Parishes: Courteenhall', A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4, (London, 1937), pp. 242-246. British History Online [accessed 25 June 2024].

. "Parishes: Courteenhall", in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4, (London, 1937) 242-246. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024,

. "Parishes: Courteenhall", A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4, (London, 1937). 242-246. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024,

In this section


Cortenhale (xi cent.); Curtehala, Cortehalle (xii cent.); Kortinhale, Cortenhalle (xiii cent.); Cortnall, Cawtnoll, Curtenhall (xvi cent.); Courtenhall (xvii cent.); Courtnall (1702).

The parish of Courteenhall is 1,601 acres in extent, about 425 acres of which are arable; the soil varies between the Oolite and Lias formations; the subsoil is clay and sand. The chief crops produced are wheat, oats, and roots. In 1884 a small detached part of Wootton parish was added to Courteenhall. The village, which consists of 18 houses (exclusive of outlying farms and cottages), stands a mile from the main road from London to Northampton. It has diminished in size since its inclosure in the 17th century. Bridges, writing between 1719 and 1724, says of the church, 'It is now seated at the upper end of the town, but within the memory of man had many houses standing beyond and about it, which since the enclosure of the parish have been destroyed.' (fn. 1)

There was a school at Courteenhall in 1593, but nothing is known of its previous history. It had ceased to exist in 1672, when Sir Samuel Jones by his will left an annuity of £100 towards the maintenance of a schoolmaster and usher in the parish, together with £500 for the adaptation of a farm-house as the master's and usher's dwelling, and for the erection of a Free School. The school was for the children of Courteenhall and within 4 miles compass thereof. The last master under the old foundation died in 1898. The school building lies in the park west of the church, and is constructed of roughly coursed limestone, with dressings of local ironstone and red tiled roofs. The two-storied (fn. 2) middle portion, in which there is a good oak well staircase, (fn. 3) was the dwelling-house of the schoolmaster, and the usher lived in the smaller east wing. The school-house occupied the whole of the larger west wing, which measures internally about 45 ft. by 20 ft. The doorway is at the north end and the fireplace in the middle of the long east wall. Opposite are three tall square-headed two-light windows and the room is further lighted from the south end, and from each end of the east wall. The original fittings round the walls, and the desk at the south end remain, and over the doorway, outside, is this inscription:

Hoc Musarum domicilium Juventuti ad quatuor milliaria circumvicinae gratis erudiendae SAMUELIS JONES Militis munificentissimi literarum patroni sumptibus conditum dotatumq: Henricvs Edmunds & Franciscvs Crane Armigeri juxta Testamenti fidem absolverunt A.D. 1680.

There is also an inscription at the north end of the east wing, as follows: 'Aediculam hanc proprijs sumptibus struxit robertvs ashbridge primus hujus Scholae Moderator A.D. 1688.' In 1923 the east wing was altered for use as an elementary school, a purpose it still serves, the mistress residing in the middle portion of the building, while the west wing is used as a Parish Institute. A Latin inscription, commemorating its restoration by Sir Hereward Wake, was placed over the door. In 1935 a pavilion, in the same style as the old building and connected to it, was added.

Of the manor-house, which according to Bridges was in part built by Richard Ouseley in 1580, (fn. 4) no part remains. The site is said to have been to the north of the church, between it and the present Courteenhall Hall, which is a large plain rectangular stone building of three stories, designed by Samuel Saxon, with cornice and slated hipped roofs, erected in 1790. (fn. 5) The entrance front is on the north, and there is a covered passage to the offices on the west side. The stables, about 200 yards south of the house, were built about 1750.

Richard Lane, the father of Sir Richard Lane, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal in the reign of Charles I, lived at Courteenhall, and lies buried with his wife, Elizabeth, in the parish church.


In 1086 William Peverel had 3½ hides in COURTEENHALL, with soc of another ½ hide and ½ virgate which Turstin held in Courteenhall. (fn. 6) Peverel, who subsequently held 7 hides here and in Blisworth, (fn. 7) gave his land in Courteenhall, except one fee held by Walter son of Winemar and the land of Turstin Mantel, to Lenton Priory on its foundation at the beginning of the 12th century. (fn. 8) To the same monastery Henry II gave 80 acres of essarts in Courteenhall in exchange for some other lands. (fn. 9) In 1236 the prior of Lenton had rights of pasturage in Salcey Forest in right of his manor of Courteenhall, (fn. 10) which was valued at £32 18s. 7d. per annum in 1291. (fn. 11) The priory in 1330 successfully claimed view of frankpledge, assize of bread and ale, and other privileges in Courteenhall. (fn. 12) The manor seems usually to have been let on lease by the priory. (fn. 13)

Lenton Priory. Quarterly or and azure a Calvary cross or fimbriated and stepped sable.

Jones. Argent a lion vert wounded gules in the breast.

In 1538 the manor of Courteenhall was seized into the king's hands, with the other possessions of the priory, (fn. 14) and four years later was incorporated in the newly created honor of Grafton. (fn. 15) In 1550 it was let on lease for 21 years to Reynold Conyers. (fn. 16) On the expiration of his lease in 1571, Queen Elizabeth leased Courteenhall to Richard Ouseley, a clerk of the Privy Seal, at a rent of £30. (fn. 17) The manor was then 'all tillage, little or no pasture, and no wood', its yearly value being £90, (fn. 18) and the tenants having hedgebote, ploughbote, cartbote, and firebote. Richard Ouseley grumbled constantly at the ill repair of the manor-house and farm buildings, (fn. 19) complaining that he had spent £700 in repairing them and that he had the manor 'with so great chardges and smale benefitt as I had bin happie yf I had never knowne it for I have spent uppon it and about it in buildinge and otherwise more than twise the purchase of yt in fee simple, but I never had this worldlie luck in anie thinge'. (fn. 20) His offer to purchase the fee simple was apparently accepted. He died early in 1599, his will being proved on 13 March. (fn. 21) He was succeeded by his son Sir John Ouseley, who married Martha daughter of Bartholomew Tate of Delapré. (fn. 22) In 1647 their eldest son Richard conveyed the manor to Timothy Middleton and Thomas Thynne, (fn. 23) from whom it passed to Sir Samuel Jones, the son of a London merchant, who became a Shropshire gentleman and was sheriffof that county in 1663. (fn. 24) Sir Samuel died without issue in 1672, leaving his whole estate to his sister's grandson, Samuel, fifth son of Sir William Wake, 3rd baronet, on condition of his taking the surname Jones. Samuel Wake-Jones died in 1712, (fn. 25) and left the property to his nephew Charles Wake, younger son of his brother Baldwin. Born early in 1701, he was a minor at the time of his uncle's death. He took the name and arms of Jones about 1718, and married Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of Sir Samuel Sambrooke. He died on 22 March 1740 without issue. (fn. 26) Under his uncle's will the property passed to his elder brother Charles who took the name and arms of Jones, and succeeded his grandfather Sir Baldwin Wake as baronet in 1747. Sir Charles Wake Jones, 6th bart., died without issue on 27 January 1755 and was buried at Courteenhall. (fn. 27) The manor passed to Sir William Wake, 7th bart., who was the son of the Rev. Robert Wake, Dean of Bocking, Essex, the fourth son of Sir William Wake, 3rd bart. (fn. 28) The Wake family have held Courteenhall manor in direct descent since that date, the present owner being Major-General Sir Hereward Wake, 13th baronet.

Plan of Courteenhall Church


The church of ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL consists of chancel, 30 ft. 4 in. by 16 ft. 6 in.; nave, 33 ft. 9 in. by 17 ft. 3 in.; north and south aisles, 11 ft. 3 in. wide; north and south porches, and west tower 12 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. The north aisle covers the chancel for about half its length.

The building has been several times restored. In 1883 the chancel, nave, and aisles were refloored with red tiles and the pews replaced by chairs, and there were further restorations in 1897 and 1912. The ground falls from south to north, and there is a tendency in the building to settle in that direction. (fn. 29) In 1895 the north arcade was underpinned and timber buttresses put across the north aisle, the outer wall of which was strengthened.

The building generally is of limestone rubble, with ironstone dressings to the windows and in the quoins of the tower; the south porch is of ironstone. With the exception of the porches the roofs are all leaded and of low pitch behind straight parapets: in the chancel the lead overhangs the east gable. The south porch is slated and the north porch tiled. Internally the plaster has been stripped from the walls. (fn. 30)

The earliest church appears to have been an aisled late-12th-century structure, evidences of which remain in the north arcade, the south doorway, and elsewhere. In the 13th century the building was largely reconstructed, and in the 14th century the chancel appears to have been rebuilt on its present plan, and the south porch added. The tower is of 15th-century date; a blocked round-headed opening on the east side suggests the retention of some part at least of a late-12thcentury tower, but it may be an old feature re-used. The church was extensively repaired under the terms of the will of Sir Samuel Jones (d. 1672), who left £500 for that purpose and for increasing the number of the bells: to this period the existing aisle windows belong, and the east window was at the same time altered. A north porch may then have been added, but the present porch is wholly restored or modern.

The chancel is without buttresses, except at the northeast angle, and has a chamfered plinth, and a string at sill level. In the south wall are two 14th-century pointed windows (fn. 31) of three cusped lights, the mullions crossing in the head, and with double wave-moulded jambs. The sill and moulded jambs of the five-light east window are still in position, but in the 17th century its pointed head was replaced by a square one with round-headed lights, (fn. 32) and this in its turn has given place to the present pointed traceried arch. There is a smaller blocked 14th-century window at the east end of the north wall, and at the south-west corner of the chancel is a tall 14th-century single-light trefoiled lowside window. (fn. 33) Below the westernmost of the two south windows is a priest's doorway, now blocked, with slightly ogee head, hood-mould, and continuous wave moulding. Internally there is a string at sill level on the south side only, but it formerly was carried along the east wall. The 14th-century piscina and triple sedilia are below the south windows. The piscina has a trefoiled ogee head with blind tracery and crocketed hood-mould; the bowl slightly projects and has four orifices grouped round a four-leaved flower. The sedilia are on one level, under cinquefoiled ogee crocketed arches terminating in finials; the jambs and dividing shafts are covered with diaper ornament and there are blank shields in the spandrels. In the north wall is a double aumbry with plain pointed openings, the heads cut in one stone, and farther west a 13th-century pointed arch of two chamfered orders, the inner order on moulded corbels, which opens to the chapel at the east end of the north aisle. In the south-west corner of the chancel is a squint from the south aisle, with small rectangular opening, directed to the altar in the north chapel. (fn. 34) The pointed chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous, the inner springing from half-octagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases: the hood-mould has been mostly cut away.

The nave is of three bays, with pointed arches. On the north side the arches vary little in width, (fn. 35) but on the south their variation is considerable, the span increasing from west to east, (fn. 36) the pillars thus being not opposite to one another. On the south side the arches are of a single square order slightly chamfered on the edges, springing from octagonal pillars with moulded capitals and bases, and at the ends from moulded imposts. The bases stand on square plinths, but both capitals and bases differ in their details.

The arches of the north arcade are of two chamfered orders, with hood-moulds, and spring at each end from 13th-century moulded corbels. The westernmost pillar, which is of the same period, is octagonal, with moulded capital and base, (fn. 37) but the other is a late12th-century cylindrical pillar, with circular moulded base on a square chamfered plinth and carved capital with square abacus: the carving represents early foliage. The sill alone of the rood-loft doorway remains at the east end of the nave north of the chancel arch.

The 17th-century windows of the aisles are all squareheaded, with rounded (fn. 38) lights and moulded jambs and mullions; those west of the porch are of two lights, the others of three, and in both aisles the west wall is blank. There are no ancient ritual arrangements in either aisle, but near the east end of the north aisle wall, in the former chapel, is a small square-headed low-side window, the sill of which is 4 ft. above the ground. There are buttresses only on the north. The south doorway has a round-arched head cut from a single stone, but is much restored, the plain outer order of the 'arch' being lined to represent voussoirs: it has a chamfered hood-mould and jambs. The plain narrow pointed north doorway has a single continuous chamfer.

The 14th-century south porch is plastered internally and has square-headed windows of two trefoiled lights and outer pointed arch of two wave-moulded orders and hood-mould with head-stops: the inner order rests on half-octagonal responds with moulded capitals. There is no clerestory, but the nave wall above the arcades rises well above the aisle roof.

The tower is of three stages (fn. 39) marked by strings, and has a moulded plinth and diagonal angle buttresses on the west side. The vice in the south-west corner has been filled in with concrete and access to the bellchamber is now only by a ladder. The pointed west doorway is of two continuous moulded orders, and above it is a tall pointed window of two cinquefoiled lights; immediately over this again is a small single trefoiled opening. On the north and south sides the lower stage is blank, but there is a trefoiled opening higher up. The pointed bell-chamber windows are of two cinquefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head, and the tower terminates with a battlemented parapet. The lofty pointed arch to the nave is the full width of the tower and of three chamfered orders dying into the wall. The floor of the tower is flagged.

The plain circular bucket-shaped font is apparently of 12th-century date; it is lead-lined and stands on a square masonry base.

The oak pulpit is modern. On the upper part of the westernmost pillar of the south arcade, immediately below the capital, are remains of three paintings, now protected by glass. (fn. 40)

It remains to notice the monuments in the former chapel on the north side of the chancel. The earliest of these is the table-tomb of Richard Ouseley (d. 1599) and his two wives, the first of whom was Jane Arden, widow of Sir Miles Partrige, who died without issue by him, and the second Magdalen, daughter of John Wake of Hartwell, by whom he had twelve children, and who died in 1607. The tomb is of freestone with panelled sides and ends containing blank shields, and a flat top; upon this, supporting a black marble slab, is a stone band 9½ in. high, round which, in two lines of Gothic lettering, runs the inscription recorded below. The marble slab bears the indents of brasses; they included a man in civil dress, two groups of children, a scroll, and a small figure at the top, which apparently was a representation of the Holy Trinity. The inscription begins on the north side of the tomb, finishing on the east, each of the two lines running round all four sides, but it forms twelve rhyming lines, (fn. 41) as follows:

A Sallops Oseley I A ruen Partrige woone No birds I had her by Such worck with her was doone She dead I turtle sought A Wake in Salsie bred Twice six birds she me brought She lives but I am dead. But when ninth year was come I sleapt that was a Wake So yeildi(n)g to Death's doome Did here my lodgi(n)g take.

The monument to Sir Samuel Jones (d. 1672) is against the east wall and is of black and white marble, with broken pediment supported by Ionic columns, (fn. 42) and shields of arms. Below are kneeling figures of the knight and his first wife Mary Middleton, Who predeceased him. (fn. 43) There is also a white marble wall tablet to Sir Charles Wake Jones (d. 1755) erected in 1767 by Sir William Wake, and in the chancel one to Henrietta, wife of Henry Grattan, who died in 1838. In the aisles are numerous 19th-century marble tablets to members of the Wake family, and in the tower three hatchments. (fn. 44)

There is a ring of five bells cast in 1683 by Henry Bagley of Chacombe. (fn. 45)

The plate consists of a cup and cover paten of 1603 engraved with the arms of Sir Samuel Jones, and a cup, paten, flagon, and bread-holder of 1870, presented by the parishioners. (fn. 46)

The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries Nov. 1538–Feb. 1672–3; (ii) Jan. 1672–3– Sept. 1760, marriages to 1754; (iii) baptisms 1794– 1812, burials 1761–1812; (iv) marriages 1754–1812.


The advowson was apparently given by William Peverel (fn. 47) to the Cluniac priory of Lenton, and the grant was confirmed by the pope in 1205. (fn. 48) The priory received a pension of ½ mark from the church, the grant being confirmed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, at his visitation in 1319. (fn. 49) The rectory was valued at £13 8s. 1d. in 1535, out of which 10s. 7d. was paid to the Archdeacon of Northampton for procurations and synodals, and 6s. 8d. to the priory of Lenton. (fn. 50) At the dissolution of the monasteries the right of patronage fell to the Crown, but in 1868 it was purchased by the lord of the manor and has since descended with it. Courteenhall had a staunch puritan rector in William Castell who was presented to the church in 1627. When Commissioners came to visit the church in 1637 and complained of the rails of the communion table, Castell refused to allow any alterations, 'saying there should be no new tricks put upon him, and that he could live as well in New England as here'. A statement of his irregularities in performance of divine worship was drawn up, stating, 'He made diminutions and alterations in the service, never wore surplice or hood, did not use the catechism in the Prayer Book, hindered the churchwardens from cancelling in the communion table, and was a quarreller and fighter on the bowling leys'. (fn. 51)


Sir Samuel Jones by his will proved 4 January 1673 gave to the overseers of the poor a yearly sum of £20 issuing out of lands in Courteenhall, Quinton, Wootton Road, and Ashton to be employed to put out as apprentices three boys or girls, born in the parish. The charity is now regulated by a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 1 February 1910, under the provisions of which the income amounting to about £27 yearly is applicable for apprenticing, &c.


  • 1. Bridges, Hist. Northants. i, 353.
  • 2. There are also attics in the roof, lighted by dormer windows.
  • 3. The stairs go up to the attics. They have panelled risers, square flat-topped newels, and twisted balusters.
  • 4. Hist. of Northants. i, 352. The initials of Richard Ouseley and his wife, with the date 1580, were on the porch, and also on a large barn dated 1572.
  • 5. The south elevation and plans of the principal and first floors are engraved in Richardson's Vitrwvius Britannicus (1802– 8), plates lxvii and lxviii. The engravings are dated 26 December 1801.
  • 6. V.C.H. Northants. i, 337, 339. It seems probable that the ½ hide held by Turstin was not in Courteenhall but in Somershale, as given in the Northamptonshire Survey. The land was afterwards reckoned as in Roade.
  • 7. Ibid. 375.
  • 8. Mon. Anglic, v, iii. In the charter it is described as 'Corthahala in Hantesyra'. The grants of William Peverel to Lenton Priory were confirmed by a charter of Henry I (1107–13) now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, a facsimile of which is given in Northants. Record Soc. Publications, iv (ed. by F. M. Stenton, 1930), ii, 159. Professor Stenton gives his reasons for doubting the authenticity of that quoted in Mon. Anglic.
  • 9. Cal. Chart, iii, 316.
  • 10. Cal. Close, 1234–7, p. 286.
  • 11. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 53b.
  • 12. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 576.
  • 13. Cal. Pat. 1324–7, p. 56; ibid. 1340–3, p. 436.
  • 14. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xxviii, 97. Cf. V.C.H. Notts, ii, 99.
  • 15. Stat. of the Realm, 33 Hen. VIII, cap. 38.
  • 16. Acts of P. C. 1550–2, p. 229.
  • 17. Pat. 13 Eliz. pt. 6.
  • 18. Cal. S.P. Add. 1566–79, p. 561.
  • 19. Ibid. pp. 502, 561, 568.
  • 20. V.C.H. Northants. Families, 326.
  • 21. Ibid.
  • 22. Metcalfe, Visit. Northants. 190.
  • 23. Feet of F. Northants. Hil. 22 Chas. I.
  • 24. Bridges, Hist. Northants. i, 353. See an article on the Berwick Almshouses, founded by Sir Samuel Jones, in Shrops. Arch. Soc. Publ. xli.
  • 25. V.C.H. Northants. Families, 330.
  • 26. V.C.H. Northants. Families, 330,
  • 27. Ibid. 329.
  • 28. Ibid. 331.
  • 29. Sir Henry Dryden's MS. in Northampton Public Library.
  • 30. A water-colour drawing of the interior, which hangs in the church, shows the walls plastered, plaster ceilings to chancel and nave, square box-pews, and a three-decker pulpit. The drawing is undated, but is before 1883.
  • 31. The sills are 5 ft. 6 in. above the plinth. The mullions are moulded and the hoodmoulds have mask stops.
  • 32. Shown in the drawing of the church before referred to.
  • 33. Assoc. Arch. Soc. Rep. xxix, 339. The sill is 3 ft. 10 in. above the floor. The opening is 14 in. wide splaying internally to 3 ft. 10 in., and its height is about 5 ft. The transom has been cut away and the whole opening glazed: see also Sir Henry Dryden's MS. notes in Northampton Public Library.
  • 34. On the chancel side the opening is 6 in. wide by 7 in. high, with cusped head, and towards the aisle 1 ft. 4 in. wide by 2 ft. 5 in. high. The squint is figured and discussed by Sir Henry Dryden in Assoc. Arch. Soc. Rep. xxiii, 357.
  • 35. 9 ft. 9 in., 8 ft. 8 in., 9 ft. 4 in. from west to east.
  • 36. 7 ft. 10 in., 8 ft. 7 in., 11 ft. 1½ in., from west to east.
  • 37. There is no square plinth to the base, which is 21 in. high.
  • 38. Except in the windows of the north chapel, where the lights are square-headed.
  • 39. On the west side the lower stage is again divided by a string.
  • 40. One represents a queen (or the Virgin crowned), and others female heads—one nimbed, the other with long hair. Each measures 9½ in. by 8 in.
  • 41. In lines 1–8 the husband speaks, in lines 9–12 the second wife speaks. The tenth line is a pun.
  • 42. The shafts are of black marble, with white marble capitals and bases.
  • 43. The inscription is given in Bridges, op. cit. i, 354.
  • 44. They are those of Sir William Wake, 8th baronet (d. 1785); Sir William Wake, 9th baronet (d. 1846); and Sir Charles Wake, 10th baronet (d. 1864).
  • 45. North, Ch. Bells of Northants. 234, where the inscriptions are given. In 1552 there were four great bells and a sanctus bell. Sir Samuel Jones in his will left money for increasing the number of the bells from four to five.
  • 46. Markham, Ch. Plate of Northants. 82.
  • 47. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. v, 112. Doubts are expressed by Prof. Stenton (Northants. Rec. Soc. iv, 160) as to the authenticity of this second charter of William Peverel.
  • 48. Cal. Pap. Reg. i, 18.
  • 49. Cal. Pat. 1381–5, p. 187.
  • 50. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 330.
  • 51. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1637, p. 382.