Parishes: Stanwick

Pages 51-54

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

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Stanwige (xi-xvi cent.); Stanwicke.

The parish of Stanwick, containing about 2,023 acres, between the River Nene and the Bedfordshire border, in 1935 became part of Raunds. The village stands on a slight hill overlooking the Nene, about a mile and a half from Higham Ferrers station. Bridges mentions a spring called the Holywell, which rose to the south-east of the church of St. Lawrence, and a stream, in the manor-house land, known as Finswell, which ran for a distance of about 12 poles above ground and then disappeared. Stanwick House, occupied by Mr. James Adams, stands on rising ground west of the church and has a fine view of the country-side. The solar with a chapel, built here by Robert de Lyndesey, Abbot of Peterborough (1219–22), is said to have been taken down when the house was rebuilt in 1714. (fn. 1)

The rectory, however, has been more prominent in history than the manor-house. In the time of Queen Mary Richard Gill was deprived on 22 May 1554 and his successor, John Smythe, on 19 January following. (fn. 2) William Dolben, who was buried here on 19 September 1631, was so beloved by his parishioners that they ploughed and sowed the glebe at their own expense during his illness, so that his widow might have the profit from the crops. The rector left two daughters and three sons, of whom the eldest, John, was born at Stanwick on 20 March 1625. John Dolben was at Christ Church on the outbreak of the Civil War, but at once took arms for the king, serving as ensign at Marston Moor. He was seriously wounded in the defence of York, but afterwards joined the garrison at Oxford, where, after the surrender of the city in 1646, he resumed his work, taking his M.A. degree in the following year and being elected to a fellowship, of which he was subsequently deprived by the parliamentary visitors. In 1660 he was made Canon of Christ Church, in 1662 Dean of Westminster, and in 1666 Bishop of Rochester, where he remained until his appointment in 1682 as Archbishop of York. (fn. 3)

The rectory house was rebuilt, at a cost of £1,000, by Peter Needham, a distinguished classical scholar, who was appointed rector in 1717 and died here in 1731. (fn. 4) His successor was Denison Cumberland, whose son, Richard Cumberland the dramatist, has left in his memoirs an account of his youth at Stanwick, where he projected a universal history and wrote a play upon Caractacus in the Greek manner. An income which secured him leisure to develop his literary activities was assured to him by his appointment as private secretary to Lord Halifax, an office which seems to have been almost a sinecure. Denison Cumberland had enlisted in the neighbourhood two full companies for a regiment raised by Halifax in 1745; and Halifax recognized this service, together with the rector's support of the Whigs in the contested election at Northampton in 1748, by providing for his son. The elder Cumberland himself left Stanwick in 1757, on his appointment to Fulham. (fn. 5)

It was an old custom in Stanwick to allow the young people to jangle the church bells on Shrove Tuesday, but this practice seems to have been discontinued about 1880.

The soil varies considerably; the subsoil is chiefly Great Oolite, with a deposit of Cornbrash in the eastern part of the parish, but a belt of alluvium and Upper Lias clay follows the course of the River Nene. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, beans, peas, and potatoes. The common lands were inclosed in 1834. (fn. 6)


The manor of STANWICK formed part of the fee of Peterborough Abbey in 1086, when it was assessed at 1 hide and 1 virgate. (fn. 7) It was held of them by Ascelin de Waterville in the reign of Henry I, (fn. 8) but his son Hugh granted it to the abbey, with the exception of 2 virgates held of him by Assur and Gunfrey and another virgate which Ascelin had given in marriage with his two daughters. Geoffrey the brother, and Ascelin the heir apparent, of Hugh gave their consent to the grant. (fn. 9) Henry de Stanewig held 5 virgates at Stanwick in 1187, and in 1195 Adam, Abbot of Peterborough, granted that Henry and his heirs should hold all the land of him for a yearly rent of 30s. (fn. 10)

In 1224 Joyce of Chelveston claimed the right of common in Stanwick 'because the men of the same Abbot common in Joyce's land at Chelveston, and so it was done after the conquest of England'. . . . The abbot, however, replied that he claimed no common with the men of Chelveston, nor had it; and this he offered to prove by battle or by putting himself on the assize. (fn. 11)

The men of the Abbot of Peterborough in Stanwick were released from attendance at the Hundred Court at Higham Ferrers by William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby. (fn. 12)

At the Dissolution the manor was granted to the dean and chapter of Peterborough Cathedral. (fn. 13) It seems, however, to have remained or returned to the Crown, for Queen Elizabeth granted more than one lease of it; (fn. 14) and a moiety seems to have been sold in fee to Lewis Nicholls in 1585. (fn. 15) He, with Francis and Austin Nicholls, conveyed it in the following year to Robert Ekyns and John Atkyns. (fn. 16) In May 1609 James I granted the whole manor to George Salter and John Williams, (fn. 17) from whom it presumably passed to John Saunderson and Cecily his wife, John Coxe and William Tawyer, who conveyed it to Nicholas Atkyns and John his son in 1622. (fn. 18) John Atkyns and Frances his wife levied a fine concerning the manor in 1651, (fn. 19) probably in connexion with the marriage of their son John to Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Richard Willis, (fn. 20) as the young couple, together with Richard Willis and his wife Prudence, were also parties to the fine.

John Atkyns died on 17 January 1669, having had seven sons and five daughters, of whom six sons and three daughters survived him. (fn. 21) His son John with his wife Agnes sold the manor to the Ekins family in 1671. (fn. 22)

John Ekins of Rushden was lord in 1723, (fn. 23) but in 1773 it was the property of Mary Pacey, and in 1876 of Mr. Spencer Pratt.

Plan of Stanwick Church

Half a fee in Ringstead and Stanwick was held in 1242 of William Earl of Ferrers by Matthew de Iverny, (fn. 24) and subsequently by William de Walda, (fn. 25) and this was divided in 1275 between Roger Barbedor and Ralf Waldeshef. (fn. 26) It seems probable that an arrangement was made by which the land in Stanwick was held by Waldeshef, and that in Ringstead (q.v.) by Barbedor, for in May 1298 William Waldeshef only is said to have been holding in Stanwick of the Earl of Lancaster of the honor of Peverel. (fn. 27) The Waldeshef fee was held about 1330 by Ralf Waldeshef, the heir of William de Vaux; (fn. 28) but the property, like that in Ringstead, was in 1428 in the hands of Sir Simon Felbrigge. (fn. 29) It seems to have passed not long afterwards to the College of Higham Ferrers, and was granted, with other lands formerly belonging to the College, to Robert Dacres on 17 April 1543. (fn. 30) His grandson, Sir Thomas Dacres, held at the time of his death in 1616. (fn. 31)

Certain lands in Stanwick, described in 1462 as a manor, were held in the 15th century by the Tresham family and followed the descent of Rushton (q.v.). (fn. 32)

Lands and tenements in Stanwick formed part of the appurtenances of the manor of Cotes held by Sir Henry Green at the time of his death in 1399. (fn. 33) The property followed the descent of his estates, (fn. 34) and is mentioned by Bridges in 1723 as 'a small manor consisting of rents of the yearly value of £1 11s. 11d., reserved out of certain lands formerly copihold but now manumised', belonging to the Earl of Peterborough. (fn. 35) The date of the enfranchisement is uncertain, but the rent is described as a free rent at the death of Henry Lord Mordaunt in 1609, when it was of the yearly value of 38s. 8d. (fn. 36)

There was a mill worth 20s. attached to the manor of Stanwick in 1086, with a meadow of 8 acres. (fn. 37) The meadow and mill, with lands and pastures, were valued at £8 11s. for the taxation of 1291; (fn. 38) and seem to have followed the descent of the manor. Two mills in Stanwick, 'being a water-mill and a windmill', parcel of the lands of Peterborough, were leased to Edward Ferrers and Francis Phelips on 19 May 1609. (fn. 39)


The church of ST. LAWRENCE consists of chancel, 30 ft. 6 in. by 17 ft. 6 in., with north vestry and organ-chamber; nave, 59 ft. 6 in. by 18 ft. 6 in.; south aisle, 16 ft. wide; south porch, and octagonal west tower, 12 ft. 6 in. in diameter, with tall stone spire. All these measurements are internal. The width across nave and aisle is 37 ft. 7 in.

The building is mainly of the 13th century, in the earlier part of which, c. 1220–30, aisles were added to an existing 12th-century nave, the chancel was rebuilt, and the tower and spire erected. Some late-12th-century indented moulding is used in the reconstructed chancel arch, but with this exception little or nothing from the earlier fabric has survived. The porch appears to have been contemporary with the aisle, but a chamber was built over it, probably in the 14th century, and buttresses added: a window at the west end of the aisle is also of this period. In the 15th century the chancel was rebuilt and its width reduced by setting back the south wall some 2 or 3 ft., new windows were inserted in the aisles and parapets added to the walls. That there was formerly a north aisle seems plain from the nature of the outer wall of the nave and its junction with the tower and chancel, and also from the evidence of the plan: the remaining portion of the original north wall of the chancel at its west end stands considerably in front of the wall of the nave, and the tower and chancel arches are no longer in its line of axis. (fn. 40) Originally the width of the nave was about 21 ft., but at what period the aisle and its arcade were removed is unknown. In the existing wall are a blocked 13th-century doorway and three 15th-century windows, but it seems most likely that the aisle was pulled down and the present wall erected in 1664, which date, with the initials R. s., is on a panel above the doorway, (fn. 41) which is the old one re-used. The windows of the aisle were also incorporated in the new wall. The chancel was again largely rebuilt in 1823, the old windows being retained, and an extensive restoration of the fabric was carried out in 1855–6. (fn. 42)

With the exception of the chancel the building is of rubble and has battlemented parapets throughout. The high-pitched roof of the nave is covered with Colleyweston slates, but the chancel and aisle roofs are leaded. There is no clerestory.

The chancel is of two bays, faced with coursed dressed stones and has a 15th-century east window of four cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery, and one of three lights at the west end of the south wall: the eastern bay is blank and the priest's doorway is a renewal. Part of the old north wall remains, with a window jamb at its east end, but no ancient ritual arrangements had survived. (fn. 43) The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, the inner springing from halfoctagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases. The arch is four-centred and the labels differ, that facing west having a big indented moulding and the other a large nail-head, the explanation probably being that a late-12th-century arch was reconstructed in the 13th and again in the 15 th century, at the enlargement and at the rebuilding of the chancel. On the north side of the opening facing east is a beautiful 13th-century niche, or stall, with a rounded trefoiled head of two moulded orders, the inner resting on shafts with moulded capitals and bases: the cusping has foliated terminations. (fn. 44)

The nave arcade is of three bays, with arches of two chamfered orders on 13th-century piers composed of four clustered shafts with moulded capitals and chamfered bases and responds of like character. The arches are four-centred, but having hood-moulds of distinctly 13th-century character have been considered contemporary with the piers: (fn. 45) it is not unlikely, however, that the arcade was rebuilt in the 15th century with careful re-use of the old material and the shape of the arches altered. The upper doorway (fn. 46) of the rood-loft remains at the east end of the arcade. The three pointed 15thcentury windows of the nave are each of three lights with quatrefoil tracery and are set high in the wall, with a portion of moulded string below the sills inside. The north doorway is of two unmoulded orders, with plain jambs and hood-mould, but the double chamfered impost, which is a continuation of the external string, belongs to the period of rebuilding. The roofs of the nave and aisle are modern. (fn. 47) In the south wall of the aisle are two four-centred three-light windows with vertical tracery, but the square-headed east window is of two lights. In the usual position south of the aisle altar is a 13th-century double piscina, with plain chamfered arches on small shafts with moulded capitals and bases: one of the bowls is plain and the other fluted. The 13th-century south doorway is of two chamfered orders, the outer on shafts with moulded bases, and the inner continued down the jambs below moulded imposts: the capital of the shaft on the west side is moulded, the other foliated. The 13th-century outer doorway of the porch is of two chamfered orders on half-round responds with moulded capitals and bases, and label with a headstop on one side and on the other a beautiful leaf-scroll corbel: the trefoiled side windows appear to be 14th-century insertions. The porch has a battlemented low-pitched gable and restored square-headed two-light window to the chamber, access to which is given by a vice in the north-west corner, entered from the aisle by a modern doorway: (fn. 48) there is an older blocked doorway in the aisle wall farther west, which was probably the original entrance. The 14th-century west window of the aisle is square-headed and of two trefoiled lights.

The treatment of the tower is very unusual. It is octagonal in plan from the base, with flat clasping buttresses at the angles, but is so contrived on the east side that 'a square surface is presented to the body of the church', (fn. 49) the angles being occupied at different levels by vices, or circular stairways, to the bell-chamber. The lower stair, in the south-east angle, does not go higher than the roof of the aisle, to which it gives access, but from this level a stepped passage in the thickness of the wall is taken across the tower arch to the upper stair in the north-east angle, which is carried up as an engaged turret nearly the full height of the upper stage, and opens to the bell-chamber by an elegant pointed arch springing from moulded corbels. The tower has a well-moulded plinth with a scroll-moulding as its upper member, and over this a keel-shaped string, both of which are taken round the buttresses. The west window is a single lancet of three chamfered orders, widely splayed inside, with a pointed chamfered reararch of two orders springing from double shafts, the capitals of which on the north side are foliated and on the south moulded. Above the window is an octofoil opening splayed to a circle within, but the lower stages on the north and south and canted western sides are blank, except for a small single lancet high in the south wall. The arch opening to the nave is of three chamfered orders on the east side, continued to the ground below moulded imposts. The upper, or bell-chamber stage, which is slightly set back, consists of an arcade of chamfered semicircular arches resting on groups of clustered shafts with moulded capitals and bases, those on the cardinal faces being pierced with two lancets with clustered mid-shafts (fn. 50) and quatrefoils in the heads. On the alternate faces there are two blind-pointed arches with mid-corbel, and over all is a trefoiled corbel- table resting on faces and notch-heads from which the spire rises behind a later battlemented parapet. The spire has ribbed angles and three tiers of gabled openings on the cardinal faces, the bottom ones transomed and of two lights. The total height of tower and spire is 156 ft. (fn. 51)

The late 14th-century font consists of an elaborately carved octagonal bowl and base, but the stem is missing. The bowl has a cinquefoiled crocketed canopy on each face and the base a band of quatrefoils and trefoils.

The wooden pulpit and chancel screen are modern. (fn. 52) There is an oak chest dated 1701 and at the east end of the aisle a good Jacobean communion table with carved top rail and thick fluted baluster legs.

In front of the chancel arch is a floor slab with a brass inscription which reads: 'Hic jacet magist' Thom[a]s de Wynceby qñd[a]m rector isti' eccliē cuī' añ ppiciet' ds amen.' (fn. 53)

In the chancel is a mural monument to John Atkins, gent., 'lord of the manor of Stanwigge' (d. 1668–9), and at the east end of the aisle one to Mrs. Mary Pacey, lady of the manor (d. 1784).

There are three bells, the first of 14th-century date inscribed 'Symon de Hazfelde me fecit', the second dated 1721, and the tenor 1613. (fn. 54)

The plate consists of a silver paten of 1705, an alms dish of 1734, a flagon of 1845, and two cups of 1856, all London make. (fn. 55)

The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms and burials 1558–1678, marriages 1561–1677, with a gap in all entries 1570–7; (ii) baptisms 1680– 1757, marriages 1695–1757, burials 1679–1758; (iii) baptisms and burials 1758–1812; (iv) marriages 1758–1812.


The church of St. Lawrence at Stanwick was valued in 1291 at £13 6s. 8d., deducting the pension of £1 and the portion of £1 6s. 8d. due to the Abbot of Peterborough, to whom the advowson belonged. (fn. 56)

In the Easter term of 1369 an interesting case was brought on a writ of quare impedit against the papal presentee to this church. (fn. 57) Michael Skillyng stated on behalf of the king that the church had fallen vacant when the temporalties of the abbey were in the king's hands by the death of Abbot Adam of Boothby (1321– 38), for which reason the king should have made the presentation. William Kirkstede, the incumbent, replied that Thomas de Winceby had been provided by the Pope in the lifetime of Adam and had been parson afterwards, and that he himself had been provided by the Pope on Winceby's death after Henry of Overton (1361–91) had become abbot. Thomas de Winceby, who was parson of Stanwick in 1344, (fn. 58) had probably been provided during the vacancy, for on 24 August 1352 he obtained a ratification of his estate with a warrant against disturbance by reason of any title the king could claim by reason of the voidance of Peterborough Abbey. (fn. 59) Presumably the king reserved the right to make its next presentation. The jurors, however, found simply that 'the said church was vacant during the vacancy of the abbey: so that the Lord King may recover the presentation'. (fn. 60) Accordingly, Edward presented Richard son of John Travers of Aldwinkle on 18 November. (fn. 61)

At the Dissolution the advowson of Stanwick passed to the Crown, which retained it. (fn. 62) The living is now in the gift of the Lord Chancellor.


There are 11 acres of arable land in the parish called the Church Lands, the rent of which has from long usage been applied by the churchwardens towards church expenses. The land is let on yearly tenancy for £12 10s.

Peter Needham, D.D., Rector of Stanwick, bequeathed £10 to be laid out in land, the income to be distributed to poor housekeepers. The money was laid out in the purchase of land in Scaley Field which was conveyed by deed dated 29 July 1734 to the vicar and churchwardens. On an inclosure of the open fields an allotment of 1 a. o r. 5 p. situate in the adjoining parish of Raunds was set out in lieu of the land in Scaley Field. The land is let on a yearly tenancy and produces £2 5s. which is distributed in money to about 20 recipients.


  • 1. Bridges, Northants. ii, 195.
  • 2. Northants. N. & Q. i, 215.
  • 3. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. 45 Will. IV, cap. 83.
  • 7. V.C.H. Northants. i, 314.
  • 8. Ibid. 377.
  • 9. Cott. MS. Cleop. C. ii, fol. 24, no. cxliii.
  • 10. Ibid. fol. 14.
  • 11. Bracton's Note-Book (ed. Maitland), 971.
  • 12. Reg. Rob. de Swaffham, cciii, s.d.
  • 13. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvi, g. 1226 (10); xx, pt. ii, 1066.
  • 14. Pat. 2 Eliz. pt. xiii; 38 Eliz. pt. vii.
  • 15. Recov. R. Hil. 27 Eliz. m. 13.
  • 16. Feet of F. Northants. Hil. 22 Eliz.
  • 17. Pat. 7 Jas. I, pt. xvi.
  • 18. Feet of F. Northants. Hil. 19 Jas. I.
  • 19. Feet of F. Div. Co. Trin. 1651.
  • 20. M.I. in Stanwick Church.
  • 21. Ibid.
  • 22. Bridges, Northants. ii, 195; Feet cf F. Northants. East. 23 Chas. II.
  • 23. Bridges, loc. cit.
  • 24. Bk. of Fees, ii, 933.
  • 25. See above, p. 41.
  • 26. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), ii, 10.
  • 27. Cal. Inq. p.m. iii, 4.23, p. 206.
  • 28. Feud. Aids, vi, 568.
  • 29. Ibid, iv, 46.
  • 30. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xviii, pt. 1, g. 474 (27).
  • 31. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccclix, 119.
  • 32. Cat. Pat. 1461–7, pp. in, 431; 1476–85, pp. 201, 416.
  • 33. Chan. Inq. p.m. 1 Hen. IV, pt. 2, no. 1.
  • 34. Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 2 & 3 Phil. and Mary; Recov. R. Trin. 18 Eliz.; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccix, 200.
  • 35. Bridges, Northants. ii, 195.
  • 36. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccix, 200.
  • 37. V.C.H. Northants. i, 314.
  • 38. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 54.
  • 39. Pat. 7 Jas. I, pt. xvi; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1640, p. 659.
  • 40. The 13th-century roof-table on the east side of the tower extends some distance beyond the face of the present nave wall.
  • 41. The panel appears to be contemporary with the walling on either side and below it.
  • 42. A west gallery, erected by the Rev. Denison Cumberland, rector 1731–57, was then taken down; it was 'done in Doric woodwork' and obstructed the tower arch. The church was reopened after restoration 16 September 1856. The organ-chamber was added at this time, on the west of an earlier vestry.
  • 43. A 'railing, screen & entablature upon three-quarter columns' (i.e. a reredos), erected by the Rev. Denison Cumberland, have been removed.
  • 44. The stall is probably in its original position, but the chancel has been so much altered that there is some uncertainty.
  • 45. Chs. Archd. N'ton, 48.
  • 46. It is square-headed and pierces the wall.
  • 47. The nave roof was restored to its original pitch in 1856, before which it had been so much lowered that the top of the tower arch appeared above it: Chs. Archd. N'ton, 48.
  • 48. The chamber, which measures internally 9 ft. 6 in. by 8 ft. 6 in. was 'discovered', or opened out, about 1848. The cuspings of the window had then gone: ibid. 48, 50.
  • 49. Chs. Archd. N'ton, 44. 'Two squinches necessary for the conversion of the square into an octagon abut on the tower arch, and above them at the same relative position in the angles are the commencement of groining ribs': ibid. 46.
  • 50. Except on the east side, where the shaft is octagonal.
  • 51. Chs. Archd. N'ton, 46.
  • 52. In 1849 the pulpit given by John Dolben, bishop of Rochester, was still in the church: ibid. 50.
  • 53. Bridges says that the name does not occur in the Lincoln register. His suggestion that Wynceby was rector before Richard Travers, instituted in 1369 (op. cit. ii, 196), is correct: see below, under 'Advowson'.
  • 54. North, Ch. Belli of Northants. 403, where the inscriptions are given. Simon de Hazfelde was casting 1353–73; a bell by him is at Sutterton, Lines.
  • 55. Markham, Ch. Plate of Northants. 266. The whole of the plate was presented by Stephen Eaton Elland in 1856 as set forth in an inscription on the alms dish.
  • 56. Pope Nich. Tax. 40.
  • 57. De Banco R. 434, m. 69.
  • 58. Cal.Pat. 1343–5, p. 352.
  • 59. Ibid. 1350–4, p. 317.
  • 60. De Banco R. 434, m. 69.
  • 61. Cal. Pat. 1367–70, p. 168.
  • 62. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).