Parishes: Denton

Pages 246-248

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

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Dodintone (xi cent.); Dudintun (xii cent.); Parva Dudington (xiii cent.); Denynton (xiv cent.); Dodington alias Deynton (xvi cent.); Doddington Parva alias Nether Doddington (xvii cent.); Denton or Little Doddington (xviii cent.).

Denton is a parish on the road from Northampton to Bedford, 2 miles from the Horton station on the Northampton and Bedford branch of the L.M.S. railway. The soil is principally clay and the chief crops are cereals. There are woods in the south-east adjoining Yardley Chase. The parish lies mostly more than 300 ft. above the ordinance datum. Its area is 1,555 acres. The population in 1931 was 424.

A two-story thatched house on the west side of the village is dated 1606, and not far away is part of an old stone house with mullioned windows which was probably the manor-house. In an adjoining field is a circular dovehouse, built of limestone, with blue-slated roof and cupola: its internal diameter at the ground level is 14 ft. 6 in., and it contains over 500 nesting places. (fn. 1)


The only mention of a manor of DENTON, here called Little Dudyngton by Yardley, during the medieval period occurs in two fines of 1346 whereby it was settled upon William of Brixworth, citizen of London, and John his son for life with reversion to Sir Roger de Akeney and Joan his wife, and to the heirs of Joan. (fn. 2) This isolated reference stands unexplained.

Ramsey Abbey. Or a bend azure with three rams' heads argent thereon.

In 1086, a half hide in Denton was held by Winemar of the Countess Judith, (fn. 3) who held one hide as a member of Yardley Hastings; (fn. 4) and 3 hides in Denton and Whiston were held by Ramsey Abbey, (fn. 5) to which house they had been given by Brithnoth the Earl, (fn. 6) who died in 991. (fn. 7) By the 12th century the Countess's hide had passed to King David, while the fee of Ramsey Abbey in Denton consisted, apparently, of 1½ hides, namely 6 small virgates held by Walter fitz Winemar and 10 small virgates held by William de Whiston. (fn. 8) It would seem that Winemar's half hide had been usurped by the Countess and recovered by Ramsey. But apparently William Peverel obtained possession before his forfeiture in 1155, as just about a century after the Domesday Survey the hidage of the Ramsey estates includes the land of Denton which William Peverel held but which was then in the King's hands and at his disposal; (fn. 9) and evidently this went, with the rest of the Peverel honor, to the Earl of Ferrers. In 1229 William de Whiston (fn. 10) impleaded Walter de Preston to acquit him of services exacted by the Earl of Ferrers in Denton. (fn. 11) Nicholas the Earl's Serjeant held here in 1235–6 one third of a fee. (fn. 12) Probably he was holding it at farm, as in 1242–3 it was held by Gilbert de Preston. (fn. 13) The estates of Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, forfeited in 1266, were granted to the king's son Edmund of Lancaster, (fn. 14) of whom Laurence de Preston was holding one knight's fee in Quinton and Denton in 1297. (fn. 15) Further reference to this tenure appears in 1428 when Winmer de Preston held the same fee, with Ditchford mill, formerly held by Thomas de Preston of the Earl of Ferrers. (fn. 16) This portion of Denton may then have been absorbed into Quinton (q.v.).

The 10 virgates held of Ramsey by William de Whiston in the 12th century were still in the abbey's hands in 1271, when John de Cave held 9 virgates and Master William de Branfelde 1 virgate, as life tenants. (fn. 17) In 1316 a moiety of Denton was held by John de Cave and Margery de Meuse, (fn. 18) together with Whiston, of which manor (q.v.) it apparently formed a member. With Whiston it passed into the hands of the Earls of Gloucester. Hugh, Earl of Stafford, grandson of Margaret, daughter and heir of Hugh, Earl of Gloucester, at the time of his death in 1387 possessed half a knight's fee in Denton held by Sir Thomas Griffin, (fn. 19) and this fee, worth 100s. and held of the king as of the honor of Gloucester, remained with his descendants, (fn. 20) probably until the estates of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, were forfeit to the Crown in 1523. The mesne tenure, held by a Thomas Griffin in 1402 (fn. 21) and 1460, (fn. 22) passed to John son of Nicholas Griffin who died in 1485 leaving his son Nicholas as heir to 10 messuages in Denton held of the Earl of Kent. (fn. 23) On the death of Sir Thomas, son of Nicholas, in 1566, it was found that he had settled in tail male his property in Denton, except 4 messuages to be held by his brother Edward Griffin of Dingley for life. (fn. 24) An agreement about these lands was made in the following year between Edward Griffin and Thomas Markham of Ollerton, Notts., and his wife Mary, daughter of Rice Griffin deceased, son and heir of Sir Thomas. (fn. 25) Edward Griffin died in 1569 when his share in Denton was said to be worth 40s. and held of Sir Henry Compton. (fn. 26)

In 1284 (fn. 27) and 1316 (fn. 28) a moiety of Denton was held by John de Hastings of the king in chief as part of the honor of Huntingdon. By inquisitions of 1325 (fn. 29) and 1348 (fn. 30) it was found that this family owned rents in Denton held as of Yardley Hastings, and a half fee in Denton, Brafield, and Houghton held by William la Zouche of Harringworth. The half fee was held by William la Zouche junior in 1376 (fn. 31) and descended with Little Houghton (q.v.). This moiety of Denton ultimately passed with other lands of the honor of Huntingdon (fn. 32) to the Comptons, Earls of Northampton.

Henry, Lord Spencer, with Richard Spencer his guardian was party to a recovery concerning property including this manor of Denton in 1639, (fn. 33) and James, Earl of Northampton, was dealing with the manor in 1647. (fn. 34) From this date it has descended with the manors of Yardley Hastings and Castle Ashby (q.v.).

A capital messuage here in which John Flamstead lived before his death in 1632 was settled on his daughter Frances the wife of William Andrews, who held it of Sir Hatton Farmer as of his hundred of Wymersley. (fn. 35) The Earl of Pomfret, a descendant of Hatton Farmer, owned half of Denton in the early 18th century, for which suit and service was paid to his court at Cotton End. A stream separated his share from that of the Earl of Northampton, whose tenants owed suit at Yardley Hastings. (fn. 36)


The church of ST. MARGARET stands on high ground in the middle of the village and consists of chancel, 18 ft. 2 in. by 15 ft. with vestry on the north side; nave, 40 ft. square; south porch, and west tower, 7 ft. by 6 ft., all these measurements being internal. The ground falls rapidly from south to north.

The building has been very much altered in modern times and little ancient work remains. The nave was rebuilt in its present form in 1827–8, and the chancel and tower repaired: the vestry, which is only 6 ft. wide and covers the chancel its full length, was probably erected then or shortly after. (fn. 37) There is a similar addition on the south side of the chancel with external doorway only, used for storage. A stone with the date 1629 over the east window of the chancel points to some alteration or repair at that period. (fn. 38) The building is generally of roughly coursed mingled limestone and local ironstone, with slated roofs. The nave has a modern plaster cove in place of a parapet, but a portion of the old parapet remains at each end on the south side and is continued on the east gable. Internally all the walls are plastered and the floors flagged.

The pointed east window of the chancel and those of the nave are modern, all quite plain and of three lights, with wooden frames, and uprights crossing in the head. Two small lancet windows, now in the north wall of the vestry, were originally in the chancel, (fn. 39) and the south doorway, which has a pointed arch of two square orders on moulded imposts, may be also of 13th-century date, together with the lower portion of the tower, in which is a lancet window with hoodmould.

Bridges, writing about 1720, describes the church as consisting of chancel, body, and south aisle, with a north cross aisle, and small embattled tower, (fn. 40) and it so continued until 1827. The plan attached to the faculty of that year, (fn. 41) shows a nave of four bays and south aisle 10 ft. wide. A former north aisle of the same width had apparently long been taken down, except for the eastern bay, the so-called 'cross aisle'; the north arcade also remainded standing though blocked. In the rebuilding both arcades (fn. 42) were removed and the north wall was rebuilt farther out, in line with the north wall of the then existing 'transept', the nave being placed under a single wide-spanned roof. At the west end the responds of the former arcades still remain: they are half-octagonal on plan and have moulded capitals of 14th-century date, and the chancel arch is of the same character and of two chamfered orders. The tower arch springs from moulded corbels of the same period; all of which implies a reconstruction in the 14th century of a 13thcentury structure, to which probably aisles were then first added.

Plan of Denton Old Church (from the plan attached to the faculty, 1827)

The chancel is lighted solely from the east and has a flat plaster ceiling. The nave has three windows on each side, and one at each side of the tower at the west end. There are north and south doorways and the walls are well buttressed. There is a west gallery with good panelled front, on which are the royal arms of George IV. The flat plaster ceiling of the nave is coved.

The tower has small diagonal buttresses of two stages on the west side, but is without strings below the bellchamber stage. Above the lancet window on the west side, already mentioned, is a clock dial and higher again on three sides a small pointed opening. On the south side there is a rather bigger pointed opening about mid height. (fn. 43) All these openings are very plain, with square jambs, the heads of the smaller ones being of one stone. The bell-chamber windows resemble those of the nave, but have cast-iron frames of two traceried lights. (fn. 44) The tower finishes with a battlemented parapet, pyramidal roof, and vane. The angle pinnacles are apparently of 18th-century date.

The font is of cylindrical type, 16 in. high, covered with a sunk geometrical pattern, and stands on a tall moulded base of later date. The bowl may be ancient, but it has no lead lining and is spoiled by paint.

The pulpit is modern. The organ is in the gallery.

On the south wall of the chancel is a black marble tablet within a stone border, put up in 1619 by David Owen, rector of Yardley Hastings, with a long Latin inscription recording the benefactions (fn. 45) of William Andrew and setting forth a grant by the rector to Andrew and his heirs to be buried in the chancel. (fn. 46)

There are three bells in the tower, the first by R. Taylor and Sons, of Oxford, 1827; the second by James Keene of Woodstock, 1625; and the third dated 1629. (fn. 47)

The plate consists of a cup of 1570, with the maker's mark AL linked, a cover paten without marks, but c. 1650, made to fit the cup, and a paten without date letter inscribed 'I.H., W.W., Churchwardens 1683'. (fn. 48)

The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1540– 1653; (ii) 1653–97; (iii) baptisms and burials 1716–41, marriages 1716–38; (iv) baptisms and burials 1741–1812; (v) marriages 1754–1812. (fn. 49)

In the churchyard is a cross in memory of twelve men of the parish who fell in the war of 1914–18.


The church of Denton was a chapelry, stated in 1535 to be annexed to Yardley Hastings, (fn. 50) but by the 18th century, and probably earlier, it was a chapel to Yardley Hastings and Whiston, both in the gift of the Earl of Northampton, whose rectors performed duty here in alternate years and divided the tithes. (fn. 51) In the 19th century, farms of 140 acres and 64 acres belonged respectively to these two rectors. (fn. 52) When a separate benefice was made in 1892 Denton became a vicarage in the gift of the lord of the manor. (fn. 53)


Church Land. The endowment of this charity consists of about 7 acres of land let in allotments, the rents of which amounting to £13 (approximately) yearly are paid to the churchwardens and applied towards church expenses.


  • 1. Northants. N. & Q. N.S. i, 144. Its height to the eaves is about 16 ft. 6 in., but the wall has three set-backs. The roof was renewed 'about sixty years ago' (from 1905).
  • 2. Feet of F. Northants, Edw. III, file 78, nos. 315, 321.
  • 3. V.C.H. Northants. i, 354b.
  • 4. Ibid. 351b.
  • 5. Ibid. 319.
  • 6. Cart. Mon. de Ramesaia (Rolls Ser.), iii, 167.
  • 7. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 8. V.C.H. Northants, i, 376.
  • 9. Cart. iii, 49, 219.
  • 10. In 1200 William de Whiston was impleaded by Gerard de Denton for 4 virgates in Denton mortgaged to Henry de Whiston: Curia Regis R. i, 141, 197.
  • 11. Cal. Close, 1227–31, p. 384.
  • 12. Bk. of Fees, 495, 499.
  • 13. Ibid. 933.
  • 14. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 15. Cal. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 423, p. 296.
  • 16. Feud. Aids, iv, 42.
  • 17. Cart. i, 57.
  • 18. Feud. Aids, iv, 26.
  • 19. Chan. Inq. p.m. 10 Ric. II, no. 38.
  • 20. Ibid. 16 Ric. II, no. 27; 18 Ric. II, no. 43; 22 Ric. II, no. 46; 4 Hen. IV, no. 41; 38–9 Hen. VI, no. 59.
  • 21. Chan. Inq. p.m. 4 Hen. IV, no. 41.
  • 22. Ibid. 38–9 Hen. VI, no. 59.
  • 23. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, nos. 37, 664.
  • 24. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cxlv, 51.
  • 25. Ibid, cliii, 61. Cf. Bridges, Northants. ii, 12.
  • 26. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cliii, 61.
  • 27. Feud. Aids, iv, 6.
  • 28. Ibid. 26.
  • 29. Cal. Inq. p.m. vi, no. 612, pp. 388, 391.
  • 30. Ibid, ix, no. 118, p. 123.
  • 31. Cal. Close, 1347–77, p. 189.
  • 32. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, no. 796, p. 342; ibid, ii, no. 752.
  • 33. Rec. R. Trin. 15 Chas. I, ro. 114.
  • 34. Feet of F. Div. Co. Trin. 23 Chas. I.
  • 35. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccccxc, 152.
  • 36. Bridges, i, 275, 291.
  • 37. It is not, however, shown on the plan attached to the faculty and may be later.
  • 38. A tablet in the church (see below) records the 'adornment' of the chancel some time before 1619. The tenor bell is dated 1629.
  • 39. The openings are 16 in. wide, with external chamfer, but no hood-moulds. The windows were on either side, near the west end.
  • 40. Hist, of Northants. i, 355; the chancel was leaded and the cross aisle tiled.
  • 41. The faculty is dated April 20, 1827. In it the building is described as 'in a very decayed and dangerous state'. The building was re-opened for worship on September 25, 1828.
  • 42. The pillars were octagonal, with responds of the same character at each end.
  • 43. A clock dial on the north side at this height may conceal a similar opening.
  • 44. Probably put in in 1827, when the treble bell was recast.
  • 45. These included a pension to six widows of Yardley Hastings, the gift of a clock to the chapel of Denton, and the adornment of its chancel.
  • 46. Bridges, Hist, of Northants. i, 355, where the inscription is given. The tablet was then on the east wall of the chancel. David Owen was rector 1598–1623.
  • 47. North, Ch. Bells of Northants. 247, where the inscriptions are given. In 1552 there were three bells and a sanctus bell.
  • 48. Markham, Ch. Plate of Northants. 97.
  • 49. The first two volumes were rebound in 1913. The first page of vol. i is torn, but the entries probably began in 1538, There is a gap 1697 to 1716.
  • 50. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 329.
  • 51. Bridges, i, 355; T. Bacon, Liber Regis, 835.
  • 52. Kelly, Directories 1854–85.
  • 53. Ibid.