Our local history expert, Anthea Hiscock, has written a book 'Living in the Gap' covering the history of Whilton covering the period 1,000-2,000 AD. If you would like a copy (281pp price £12.99) please ring Anthea on 01327 843319 or email her. For an independent review of the book by local resident Tom Price, see here.
Previous meetings (click on the links below)
The Brook Project: Peopling the Map (September 2013)
A Voice from Whilton's Past (July 2013)
1656 - One Document's Story (March 2013)
The Art of Whilton (November 2012)
Who was who in South View (September 2012)
Ridge and Furrow - a talk by Barry Smith (July 2012)
Orphaned and fatherless of Whilton (March 2012)
Faces of Whilton (January 2012)
Barley, malt and beer in Whilton (November 2011)
Don Welch and his Times (July 2011)
What to see in Whilton Churchyard (May 2011)
What have you found in your garden? (March 2011)
The Stone House (January 2011)
Christmas Parties at Whilton Lodge (November 2010)
The Plough: Past into Present (May 2010)
Worn in Whilton (March 2010)
Wadds in a Name (January 2010)
William Langton and his Farm (November 2009)
Landlubbers and Boatmen (September 2009)
The Tale of Tommy Adams (July 2009)
Monuments and Memories in Whilton Church (May 2009)
Fetes and Festivals (March 2009)
A Typical Medieval Winter Meal (January 2009)
Whilton Charities (November 2008)
Whilton Fields (August 2008)
The Poor (July 2008)
THE BROOK PROJECT:PEOPLING THE MAP
this project we are looking at the history which surrounds the stream which
passes Whilton, and then runs down past Brockhall towards the Nene. After marking the map with coloured flags to
represent historic figures along the route we heard about two locations passed
by the stream, Muscott village and Whilton Mill.
there is hardly anything left of Muscott beyond the farm and two or three
cottages. This makes it hard to imagine
the bustling agricultural community there in the 1200s and 1300s. Between 1301 and 1377 there was a startling
drop of taxpayers in Brockhall and Muscott together from 48 to 5; even allowing
for some discrepancies, this must indicate a major disaster, and it is most
tempting to look to the Black Death, whether people simply died or chose to
abandon the village.
do have some clues about the people of Muscott before the disaster. Surnames were only just beginning, so many
people had only one name and a description which would later become a
surname. This was particularly important
as Richard was so popular!
through Muscott in the 1200s, we might have met William, son of Stephen of
Brockhall, who had a son called Geoffrey and owned a toft in Muscott next to
the ditch by the yard of Nicholas Albe.
son of Nicholas of Muscott, and married to Cecily, had property in Muscott,
Buckby, Throp and Brockhall. Another Richard, son of Elys and Matilda, had a house in Muscott,
for which he paid one silver mark and service to John “le Louerd” and paid the
chief lord of the fee one clove gillyflower annually. Some of his land lay beside land farmed by
Geoffrey Bercarius (Shepherd). Henry le
Somynour of Muscote, had a son named Thomas. Perhaps Henry’s job was to summon people to
the manor court.
1328 Richard, son of Richard Elyot of Muscott had a house and land, which he held
for the service of providing one candle and one lamp worth 12 pence each year
and paying the lord or lady of Brockhall 2 shillings annually. Another villager
held his “messuage and toft in the town of Muscott” for performing the services
due to the altar of the parish church of Brockhole. This man had a surname: Richard Molt of
Muscott. This was probably the Richard
Mold listed in the 1301 tax list. It is
possible that this surname is an abbreviation of the Latin “molendinarius” or
miller. In this case it might be an
early record of a miller called Richard at Muscott Mill.
WHILTON MILL IN VICTORIAN
of the stories concerning the area around Whilton Mill were less cheerful, but
the following tale dating from 1844 has a happy ending. There was a nasty bend as you came down
Whilton Hill to cross the bridge. Drivers needed to pay attention. It was tempting to come down too quickly
especially if you had already partaken of refreshment at Northampton
this is what had happened to two gentlemen from Welton, on a Saturday evening
in May 1844. Mr Thomas Derby and Mr William
Jones were returning home from Northampton Market.
night being dark they came into contact with a stone bridge near Whilton Mill
(which is a very dangerous place), by which the gig was upset, and the shafts
both broken off. The horse, a spirited
animal, finding himself at liberty, started off at a furious rate through
Norton, and proceeded on to Daventry, and was stopped soon after it had passed
through the town, and although at the time it came through the streets there
were great number of people about, only one person was knocked down by it, and
fortunately he was not injured.
The horse was dreadfully cut on one leg, and he will
be some time before he will be able to work.
Immediately the horse reached Daventry several persons started in search
of the gig, expecting to find the parties injured. When they arrived at Whilton Bridge they found
the body of the gig in the road, and the two gentlemen enjoying themselves at a
friend's house close by. Mr. Jones
escaped unhurt, but Mr. Darby had received a very severe bruise on the ankle,
and it is a miracle they were not both killed on the spot.”
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A VOICE FROM
was an opportunity to hear some of the recorded memories of Will Adams.
various reasons, it seemed appropriate to listen to this recording in 2013 in
the Village Hall. Will was born in Whilton
in 1909 and died here in 1993, 20 years ago. Through his mother, Kate Rose Adams, nee
Taylor, Will was descended from Thomas Taylor, the first schoolmaster of Whilton,
who taught in Whilton School from about 1786. The old Whilton School is now the Village Hall
in which we were sitting to listen. The
recording was made in 1992, a year before Will’s death. We were interested to hear the accent and
speech patterns of an old man, steeped in Whilton history.
referred to his grandfather, James Adams, who was a baker in Whilton. Will did not know where his grandfather baked,
but records show that he lived in the Stonehouse, and that he took over from
his father, another James Adams, who died in 1875.
also referred to his uncle, who had lived in Buckby Lane in a cottage long since
demolished. This uncle was Joseph Adams,
who was left with three children, when his wife Sarah, died in child birth in 1876.
Will remembered that only the two
daughters, Mary Anne and Isabella, lived with their father. Their brother George Lewis Adams, was brought
up by his maternal grandparents, whose surname was Boot.
lived in several Whilton houses, renting according to the fortunes of the family.
He was born at the Manor House, but when
his father became a canal lengthsman, they moved to Windlass Cottage.
the beginning of the First World War the Adamses moved back to the village,
living a while in Tudor House, spending another period in the Manor House, and
at Inglenook. Will grew up with family
members around in the village, and with a younger brother Oliver, and a sister,
Marjorie. His mother had memories of the
1890s in Whilton, and shared them with her children.
a child Will knew a variety of people who came bringing services and goods to the
village, among these were the tinman, who repaired metal utensils,
"Clockie" who mended clocks and watches, especially if provided with
a cup of tea and slice of cake, and the crumpet man, who walked over the fields
with one of his baskets on his head.
were memories of baking day, and the delicious smell of pork pies cooking in the
communal oven at Whilton Feast. This
must have been the memory of Will’s mother, as Will said this had ended before
his time. He did, however, give a clear
description of the way the stick oven worked at Field View.
became a carpenter and married Freda Collier, from a family of carpenters and
wheelwrights. They lived at Field View,
where Will was still living at his death.
recording included details of the Whilton wells, most of them open, but some
with a pump. Langton House and Langton
Cottage had the deepest wells at 50 feet.
In Manor Lane the depth was only 10 feet, and Holly House and The Old Cottage
had springs in their cellars.
minds were taken back over a century, helping us to appreciate the depth of experience
within one small village.
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1656 - ONE DOCUMENT'S STORY
Who was Robert Hill?
the evening we heard that Robert Hill came from a Whilton farming family. In 1554, in the time of Mary Tudor, there
were a Henry and Thomas Hill living in Whilton; it seems likely that Robert was
a descendant of this family. His house
had been in the family since at least his grandfather’s time, possibly
longer. Grandfather John Hill had
married Elizabeth Salorcke in Whilton Church in 1598. When John died he left the farm to his son,
Robert. Robert and his wife Joan spent
the rest of their lives on their Whilton farm.
They had two children; their son, another Robert, was baptized in 1635,
and a daughter, Elizabeth, arrived two years later, no doubt named after her
1656 young Robert’s father was dead, and at 21 he had inherited the farmhouse,
with its sitting tenant. Robert would
have grown up during the Civil War, and maybe experienced the possibilities of
leaving the land. During the Civil War
Northampton had supported the Parliament and provided footwear for its
Army. Young men learning the skill of
shoemaking would have realised that the place to make your money was in the
town, not a little village like Whilton.
By 1656 young Robert had departed from the family farming tradition and
had become a shoemaker, living in Daventry.
By selling the house, Robert was closing his links with Whilton. The document we looked at was William
Langton’s part of the indenture; he would have signed the document which Robert
Hill kept as a record, and from other evidence we know that William Langton
could write. But Robert Hill could not
write. He just “made his mark.” After this the Hill family disappears from
Who was Widow
the house was sold in 1656, Widow Linnell was living in it. The records suggest that the Linnells,
already an old Whilton family, were related to the Sallockes, and this may
explain why she was there.
there were a number of Linnell families, it is impossible to be certain, but it
is most likely that Widow Linnell had been born Elizabeth Phillips in
Whilton. She had married farmer Thomas
Linnell in 1615, and they had gone on to produce 14 children, some of whom did
not survive childhood. The last child, a daughter was baptized in 1641 and so
would have been seen as able to fend for herself by the time her father died in
1655. After all this child-bearing,
however, Elizabeth may well have seemed an old woman.
Who was William
Langton family had been well established here since early Tudor times, but the
Langtons of Whilton are very difficult to disentangle at this period. However,
we do have some clues.
1st April 1681 William Langton, husbandman of Whilton, made his
will, leaving certain property to his son, Thomas Langton. This property was “the house which I bought
of Robert Hill” and all the goods therein at my decease and 30 shillings more
for taking my grandchild Thomas Davis to be his apprentice. This must surely be the house in our
document. William’s other son, Robert
Langton, was executor and received all the rest of my goods, chattels and
cattle, both within doors and without, with crops of hay and corn growing on
the ground at my decease.
old William died in 1683, an inventory was taken of all his possessions. These were:
wearing apparel and money: 10
old cow and a small heifer £2
old garner and chest 6 shillings and 8 pence
old brass pan and other refuse trumpery 3
shillings and 4 pence”
total came to £4.
this sounds rather pathetic, and we may well ask: how did such a man find £28
to buy a house in 1656? But we need to
read behind the lines. Old William had
been a farmer. He had adult sons. He was no longer really farming, but kept a
few animals for interest. He was
probably living with his son Robert in the main farmhouse, where he had always
lived. Robert was the farmer of the next
1683 Thomas Langton received the house which had been bought from Robert
Hill. Old Widow Linnell was no doubt
long gone. Perhaps Thomas was already
living there? There is no suggestion
that Thomas was receiving land or even that Thomas was a farmer. There is a real suggestion that he had a
different trade and had taken on a nephew as an apprentice. He may well have been the Thomas Langton who
was a weaver. This was the time when the
worsted cottage industry was thriving around Long Buckby, and does not preclude
Thomas from being a farmer too.
this the story becomes more murky. A number
of Langtons died in the mid 1680s, including a Robert Langton, which may mean
that the farm descended to his brother Thomas.
The house deed remained in Langton hands, and the house itself may
possibly have been on the site of today’s Langton House, but that cannot yet be
finished the evening by remembering the last descendants of the Langtons here,
who were the twins Beatrice and May Gammage, who died in 1976. Their mother had been Julia Langton before
her marriage. Like them we tasted seedie
cake and currant cake, which they used to cook in Langton House.
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THE ART OF WHILTON
Thursday 29th November the society met to see some of the art work produced in
or depicting Whilton. Among many others,
we were able to see portraits, depictions of the Church and other buildings and
local views, dating from the 19th century to the present. Animals, birds and plants also featured , and
reminders of hallowe’en parties in the last century.
variety of skill, talent and interpretation made the evening interesting for
all. We would especially like to thank
those who hunted through their pictures and were willing to share their own or
other people’s art.
Sketches of the rear
and front of the Manor House by an unknown member of Whilton WI in 1975. Note that the rear view is the view facing
Sketch of Martins
Farm, now called Church Farm, and the derelict old shop beside it in the late
1950s, by Brian Mutton, who married Susan Gardner of the Stone House.
evening was an opportunity to enjoy the talent which Whilton has produced, and
to celebrate the heritage of buildings and landscape in which we live.
art included work by anonymous artists and the following:
Ashwell, Rae Barnes, Janet Bowers, George Clarke, Joan Davies, Frances Drake,
Clifford Ellison, Bennie Eyton-Jones, Edna Gardner, Rev C H Hartshorne, Barbara
Lewis, Brian Mutton, Freda Thomas and Jean Wiltsher.
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WHO WAS WHO IN SOUTH VIEW
society met on 13th September, when the subject was "Who was who in South
1946 there was a drive to replace devastated urban housing, and improve rural
dwellings. Clement Attlee built over a million homes, 80% of which were council
houses. By 1948, 2000 houses had been
built in Northamptonshire, but older housing stock was poor. Daventry Rural District was typical of the
county with a quarter of its houses inspected being declared unfit for human
habitation and beyond repair. Whilton
was not alone in having no provision of mains water, electricity or sewerage,
and much rural housing was damp and pest-ridden. Lack of agricultural labour emphasised the
need for council housing.
site for the first Whilton houses was acquired by August 1946. Other sites had been considered, and the area
of the modern allotments was purchased too. Eight houses were built on what had previously
been glebe-land, overlooking the valley once known as Deepdale to the north.
There was some controversy over naming these houses, as the suggested
"Townley Row", after RD Councillor Townley, was not popular. The village protest was even recorded in the
national press, with the caption: "Row over a row". Deepdale or Glebe View might have been more
appropriate than the compromise of "South View".
April 1946 plans for six houses at Whilton were approved. Type B were priced at £2,509.16.1½ per pair;
Type E were £4,882.5.1 per block of four, although Major Fancott of the RDC
said the prices must be reduced. In October
the Housing Committee recommended building four houses for the agricultural
population at Whilton. These completed
the council housing for Whilton. Plans to
build more never came to fruition, mainly because villages with better services
were considered more suitable for development. Thus Whilton has 9 and 10 The Gardens, but
numbers 1 to 8 were never built.
first South View houses were built by the local firm Holland and Marks, the
Marks family coming from Whilton. Jack
Wright worked for them as a carpenter and joiner. Jack and Kathleen Wright and Don and Vi Welch
were the first tenants, the Wrights moving in on 28th February 1948.
builders struggled to complete with post-war shortages in labour and materials,
including grates, window frames and chain link fencing. In May 1948 the Housing Committee was
dissatisfied with the progress of construction. After discussion the builders promised,
"that one house would be completed in a fortnight, one in a month, one in
five weeks and the fourth in eight weeks from the date of this meeting."
Whilton, as in many villages in this district, the council houses were built before
modern services arrived. Pipes and taps
were provided and water pumped up from a farm spring, although much of the
village still depended on wells or stand pipes introduced in the war. There was no public sewerage, the septic tank
in Number 1 serving all of South View. Other villagers were still disposing of
buckets of night soil until 1953. In
1947 it was noted that the Whilton houses would be fitted with cast iron
independent coppers as electricity was not available in the parish. The houses were wired for electricity, which
finally arrived in 1951.
houses were much sought after. Priority
was given to returning service men and agricultural workers. On the whole these ground rules were kept. Men from the services moved into the first
four, and the fifth was let to the widow of Oliver Adams, who had died at
Arnhem. All of these had young families.
Number 6 was for the large Poole family,
who had had to leave the village in the previous year. In vain, they complained that their four bed-roomed
house was too small. Number 7 was let to
Arthur Gittins who worked on the Emery farm. The letting of Number 8 to farmer’s son, Frank
Ashby, rather than an employee, caused some protest, and he was forced to pay a
have happy memories of childhood freedom, and of playing in the wilderness on
top of the high bank at the front. This
overhung the narrow lane into Whilton. Children made dens and tracks and swung from
the overhanging trees, scaring motorists below.
Eventually the County Surveyor noted that, ‘Along this length of road
there is a steep bank and high hedge. The
Parish Council are concerned about the safety of children who play on this
bank.” By 1966 the ownership of the bank was
transferred to the County, the bank and hedge were removed, the road widened,
and the bank shaved back, giving the modern frontage of today.
abound, from the thrill of having a first bathroom, to gatherings of young men
with motorbikes, and neighbourly support in times of illness. There was irritation over the tenant who
climbed his apple tree to see what was happening over the fence and amusement
that chickens kept for the pot lived to a good old age with the duck.
the ten council houses, only two are now rented. Otherwise tenants took advantage of Margaret
Thatcher’s "Right to Buy" scheme between 1980 and 1998. Kathleen Wright is proud to be the one
original resident; four houses are occupied by families or their descendants,
who were there fifty years ago, but whereas the first residents all had
children, there are only two teenagers today, a reflection of changing times.
View and The Gardens marked a step towards modernisation for Whilton, and a
huge improvement in living conditions for those fortunate enough to be the
early tenants. The residents have played
an active part in parish life for over 60 years. They have produced Parish Councillors, WI members,
gardeners, allotment holders, and produce show winners. Over the years there has been much kindness, and
some tolerance, and still today there is a co-operative spirit, which reveals
itself particularly in mowing the grassy bank, looking out for one another, and
pride in the appearance of South View.
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RIDGE AND FURROW - A TALK BY BARRY SMITH
The society met on 12th July 2012 to
hear a talk by Barry Smith on “RIDGE AND
there was a good attendance from Whilton, our numbers were swelled by a large
company from other villages mainly from the farming community, who were keen to
hear Barry speak. They were not
disappointed, although the hall was so full that there was standing room only
at the back!
experience of farming and his training in historical geography, Barry gave a
lively and educational account of the landscape which surrounds Whilton and
many other West Northamptonshire
villages. He explained the system of
communal farming in great open fields, which were probably laid out as early as
the 6th to 8th centuries AD. Each farmer’s “yardland” consisted of many
strips in different parts of the fields, so that, at least at first, each had a
fair share of fertile, poor, boggy or well drained soil. He described how the
ploughing by a team of oxen created the long s-shaped raised strips, the
ridges, and how the furrows beside them were good for drainage, and also helped
to mark one strip from another, delineating ownership.
farmers sowed their seed by broadcasting or scattering it by hand, and then
treading it in, perhaps a job for children.
The harvest was very limited, providing only a tiny fraction of what
would be expected today, and a run of bad weather, or a season of poor seed
could decimate these poor crops. As agricultural improvements began to create
new possibilities, there was more discontent with this old system, until
finally the open fields were enclosed by fences and hedges and came into
private ownership. Whilton was enclosed
in 1778. This was done by Act of
Parliament and organised and supervised by commissioners. This caused problems in some places, where
especially the poorer people saw there was disadvantage to them.
of open fields became more common, so too the canals were being built, and
these were the means by which grain from the Baltic and Europe could be brought
into the Midlands. There was less demand for home grown
grain. Thus enclosed pasture for meat
production took over from the huge open arable fields. However, when Napoleon’s blockade led to a
drop in imports to 5% of what had been coming in, there was a sudden need to
provide more wheat for bread and barley for beer. In some parishes the ridge and furrow was
adjusted to be flatter for new grain growing; where this was successful it
brought huge wealth to the farmers who could do this. In fact they sometimes incorporated the name
“Gold” into their field names, giving an indication of how good their profits
the talk Barry illustrated his points with slides of local places. We saw aerial and ground level views of
ridges and furrows, examples of baulks and headlands, and the flat areas where
grain would have been stored in thatched ricks before being threshed during the
in all this fascinating information, we were provided with refreshments and
delicious cakes by Mary Emery to end a very successful evening.
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ORPHANED AND FATHERLESS OF WHILTON
Local History Society met on 15th March to hear the stories of four
fatherless children over the centuries.
Felicia de Whelton was the
granddaughter of William, lord of Whilton Manor. She was born in 1264 or 1265, during Simon de
Montfort’s rebellion, in which her father and grandfather were involved. After her father’s death, when she was still
a toddler, feudal regulations allowed her overlord, Joan de Stuteville to
remove her and control her upbringing.
a long and bitter legal dispute over the right to Whilton Manor developed,
Felicia and her mother Joyce came to be on different sides. Over many years a variety of legal methods
were used to promote different interpretations and great sums of money were
expended on lawyers, while the descendants of William de Whelton went to law
against each other.
first part of Felicia’s life was overshadowed by this dispute, as her guardians
fought her case for her in many courts from Rockingham to London. Possession of Whilton changed several times
as courts gave different rulings, and Felicia herself may have come and gone in
Whilton. She was about 20 when a major
ruling gave her possession and sometime in that year she made the decision to
marry Philip de Montgomery. Felicia and
Philip were confirmed as lord and lady of Whilton Manor; the land descending in
the female line.
and Philip had a daughter, Anne, who became heir to Whilton, but after her
mother’s second marriage, Anne lost her rights to Whilton, because Felicia and
her new husband William de Nevill had a son, James, who inherited because he
was male. We heard, however, that in the
long run it was Anne’s heirs who inherited Whilton, and held it until the
next fatherless child was Elizabeth
Langton, brought up at Muscott in the late seventeenth century and who was
well provided for in her father’s will.
She married Richard Freeman, lord of Whilton Manor in 1709, and bore him
eight children, besides being step-mother to the four he already had. One of Elizabeth’s children was the eccentric
Rev Langton Freeman, who, after his death in 1783, was sealed up in his summer
house in the garden of the modern Manor House.
or Billy Adams, a real orphan, would
have been known to Elizabeth Freeman, but he was only four when he left Whilton
to be cared for in Long Buckby after the deaths of both his parents in 1735 and
1736. We traced his sad and short life
until he was 19 and brought back for burial at Whilton. He had been a sickly child in Whilton, with
treatments from the apothecary for colic, coughs and a sore throat. Nothing much worked for Billy, and perhaps
his own attitude to work and inclination to overspend did not help either. As a younger son, he was expected to make his
own way in life, and although his guardians did their best, apprenticing him to
a grocer in London, they could not prevent him stealing from his employer, and
filling his pockets with luxury tea, which he sold in the streets. Later he tried to become an apprentice to a
buckle and stud maker in Birmingham, but had a very poor work record there,
being frequently too ill to work, and coming back to his guardian in Brockhall
to recover, besides running up debts with the perriwig maker and hat
dresser. Finally his illness got worse,
despite treatment with ass’s milk. On 4th
November 1750 the Whilton parish register recorded the burial of “William Adams an apprentice at Birmingham”.
last fatherless child was Edward Tarry
of Chapel Brampton, born in about 1832.
His mother Ann was from Whilton, and after his father died, he seems to
have spent some of his childhood in Whilton, with his uncle John Dunkley, a man
of doubtful and violent reputation.
Edward became a farm labourer in Chapel Brampton. In the 1850s he left this country and appears
to have joined the Gold Rush to Australia, where he eventually married Sophie,
another emigrant from Chapel Brampton.
Conditions in Melbourne in the 1850s, despite or because of the huge
amounts of gold, were described by one English visitor as a “very hell on
earth”. Perhaps this, combined with the
inheritance of his uncle’s Whilton house, was the reason for the couple leaving
Melbourne and returning to England.
1866 Edward and Sophie Tarry had moved into his uncle’s house, which we call
today “The Old Cottage”. Edward
described himself as a grazier or a farmer, but the only land he owned was the
field now known as Tarry’s Orchard. His
income came from fattening stock for market.
There was no sign of a gold digger’s fortune.
couple now put Australia behind them and became part of Whilton village life,
Edward serving on the Parish Vestry and later the Parish Council. The entry in the 1881 census of Edward Tarry,
farmer, aged 49, born in Chapel Brampton and his wife, Sophie, aged 50, born in
Chapel Brampton, suggests a quiet middle aged farming couple, but it belies the
wide ranging experiences of their youth.
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FACES OF WHILTON
Local History Society’s last meeting was on 12th January, and was entitled
“Faces of Whilton”, when members looked
at a presentation of photos of people who have been residents of Whilton during
this Queen’s reign. Besides this some
people had brought their own photos, which proved very interesting, but made us
realize how many, and what a variety of subjects, there are. This was a good opportunity for bringing back
memories of the past.
Local History Society is now embarking on finding and copying photos of
Whiltonians from the last 60 years, and is hoping to provide an exhibition of
these in the church during the Jubilee Weekend.
We shall also be very interested in any photos of how Whilton celebrated
the coronation in 1953, including the fancy dress parade down the main
street. Please do let me know if you can
help with this.
of the meeting was also taken up with making final alterations to our leaflet
about the churchyard, and this will now be available for visitors to the
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BARLEY, MALT AND BEER IN WHILTON
Records of a 1388 investigation show that the lord of
Whilton Manor had stores of malt in his granary and was growing more barley
than any other cereal, some no doubt destined for brewing. The best malt for brewing ale came from
barley, which grew well in Whilton.
Some people were very suspicious when hops were first
introduced from the Continent. Andrew Boorde,
an Englishman, wrote in 1557 “... Beere
is made of malte, of hoppes, and water, it is a naturall drynke for a doche
[Dutch] man, and nowe of late dayes it is moche vsed in Englande to the detryment
of many Englysshe men …. for the drynke is a colde drynke. Yet it doth make a man fatte, and doth inflate
the bely, as it doth appere by the doche mennes faces and beIyes.” Eventually hops became accepted and records
show hops being bought for brewing in Whilton by the early 18th century.
The essential ingredient for malt is grain, and the best
grain is barley. 16th and 17th century Whilton farmers
were making their own malt, and their wives brewing the beer for consumption by
their families and labourers. A malt
house and brewery would have been part of their farm buildings.
After soaking in a steeping vat, the swollen grain was
drained and transferred to a vessel called a couch, where it began to
germinate. It was then spread out on the
growing floor, the depth dictated by the temperature, but sufficiently deep to
encourage vegetation. It was turned at intervals to achieve even growth and
over the next fortnight or so it was turned and moved towards the kiln. Temperature was also controlled by
ventilation. As the germination proceeded,
the grain was spread thinner on the floor.
Once dried, the barley was moved into the kiln, for a few
days. A slow fire was used to start, and
then gradually raised to suit the purpose of the malt and the desired colour. Malt was stored for a few months to develop
flavour. The art of malting depended on
adapting to changes in weather and temperature, and in timing the different
processes as the grain changed. Barley
does not germinate well in high temperatures, and so malt houses were mainly in
action during the winter, which was also a time when agricultural workers
Because the process involved control of the fire beneath
the malt, there were always some hazards. This probably explains why John Dunkley, a
maltster who rented the kiln and part of what is now Holly House in 1735,
included in his lease a "bedsted and
bedding belonging to it", so that he could keep an eye on the process
during the night. An additional hazard
was that the kiln was thatched. We know
that in 1748 Thomas Facer charged 18 shillings for three loads of straw to
thatch this kiln.
While the grain was being roasted, it rested on a hair
cloth to prevent it dropping onto the furnace below. In 1635 yeoman William Langton, who owned a
malt kiln in Whilton, left "the
steeping fatt and haire cloth belonging to my kilne" to his son,
William. This may have been the kiln
purchased sometime before 1591 by Thomas Langton the Elder when he acquired a homestead
with kiln and barns from Sam Lynnell. By
the end of the 1700s, farmers were beginning to buy malt from professional
maltsters, such as the Barkers of Holly House, but farmers’ wives continued to
be the brewers. George Judkins of
Roughmoor left his brewing vessels to his wife in 1802, as did Thomas Emery in
But there was change in the wind. The Plough was originally a private house,
but by 1786 the tenant was William Moss, who besides being a tailor, was brewing
beer there and was described as a publican too. By the 1830s it was "known by the sign of
the Plough," and Joseph Emery was innkeeper. Brewing continued here until Phipps the brewers
took over in mid Victorian times, bringing an end to Whilton brewing.
It may seem surprising, but the 1841 census records four
public houses in Whilton: the Plough, the Spotted Cow at the Locks, which also
served the canal, the Wheatsheaf in Brington Lane, and the Mill, which probably
provided refreshment for the miller’s customers. The publican was his elderly mother aged 84. Other publicans had second or even third
occupations and did not rely on the pub for their whole livelihood.
In addition, Whilton had a short lived off licence. Sometimes before 1901 the Stone House acquired
an "outdoor beer licence". In
1913, the house was put up for sale. The
auction was held in the Plough and the house was bought by Phipps the brewers,
who cannot have enjoyed the competition from down the road. As a result there is a codicil in the Stone House
modern deeds, stating beer may not be sold from the house.
After the war country pubs began to decline, although the
Plough and the Spotted Cow survived into the 1950s. There is a codicil to the story of pubs in
Whilton, because there was an attempt to create a new one. The Bannaventa pub was built by David Steele
in 1975 on the site of the old farmhouse at the Locks. Its history was not happy and it failed to attract
locals or passing trade. It closed in
1991 to become the Whilton Locks Carpet Centre, a rather dismal end to the
Within the last year Whilton-grown barley has stopped being
used for brewing, and so this marks the end of a long tradition in the parish.Back to list
DON WELCH AND HIS TIMES - 1921 TO 2010
Local History Society met in July to hear the about the life and recorded
memories of Don Welch, who died last year.
had clear memories of his happy Whilton childhood. His father and grandfather were hand sewing
shoemakers from Northampton, but Don was born in 1921 in Holly House, where his
family had moved, and he remembered his father as a shoemaker and repairer with
his shop in Rugby. When he was still
small the family moved into the shop, now the Old Shop, on the corner of Buckby
Lane. Don’s mother, Flo, kept the shop there until she was over 80. Don was brought up living with the shop,
which was curtained off from the front room.
He was used to customers arriving at any time of the day or evening; his
mother always had time for them.
was the living room, curtained off from the shop and a little narrow pantry or
larder. Up the winding narrow stairs were two rooms, one leading into another,
and after another brother arrived, the three boys all slept in one bed. They
went up to bed with a candle. There was
no heating, but they kept each other warm.
The wash place was by the cobbled yard, with a copper boiler heated by a
fire below. Clothes being washed were
prodded with a stick. Soft water for
washing came from the roof and was caught in a barrel. Water for drinking was fetched
from the well across the road behind what we now call the Old Post Office. This well was shared by several
households. His mother cooked on a black
leaded stove, with a hook over for the pot and a kettle to one side.
Don with his parents, Bill and Flo Welch, his older
brother Lawrence and his younger brother Norman
was particularly friendly with the Dunkley children at Martins Farm, now Church
Farm. He reckoned that he and Bob
Dunkley were the young tearaways of Whilton, riding horses up and down the
street, and sometimes sheep too! He
loved helping with the farm work, especially shocking up the sheaves to dry at
harvest, and haymaking. He was
interested in the Dunkleys’ animals too, and had his own tortoise and angora
rabbits at home.His
mother sold sweets and the Welch children were allowed to help themselves, on
condition that they did not give them away – that would undermine mother’s
profits! Not that Flo made much
money. A packet of cigarettes was 11½
d, which left Flo with no profit, but
Don reckoned she enjoyed the company of the half dozen or so who came in during
a day. She had always been used to
company, as she was one of 14 children.
In his memories Stan Haynes described how the Haynes children liked
being sent on an errand to visit the shop, perhaps for a quarter of cheese,
adding: “Mrs Welch always seemed glad to see us.” She clearly enjoyed children’s company. Stan also recalled that sometimes a group of
children would go foraging for dandelion leaves and take a bundle to Mrs Welch
for their pet rabbits. “Hold out your
hands,” she would say, and would fill each with half a dozen comfits, which she
called “guinea pig mucks”!
also heard how Don left Whilton School and trained as a carpenter in Daventry,
sometimes going far afield for work during the difficult 1930s and receiving no
pay when the weather was too bad for work.
When war came he was involved in rebuilding the “gun shops” in Coventry by
day after bombing by night. Later he was
called up and was part of the invasion force, crossing the Channel in very
rough weather in a flat bottomed American ship, with tanks which had broken
loose. He then went through France,
Holland, and Belgium in a Bren carrier, a small tank, coming to Arnhem where he
witnessed the chaos a few days after the fighting there. He had to walk across the gliders which had
landed there in order to cross a canal.
As he said: “We were the support troops which did not make it.” After crossing the Siegfried Line, Don could
find no words for what he saw at Belsen, and then went on to the River Elbe, to
face the Germans fleeing from Russian bombing and revenge.
When at last he came
home he took up his work again, and finally returned to Whilton, where he
renovated and modernized the house he had lived in as a child. His craftsmanship and
carpentry skills meant that he was much in demand, and there are few older
houses in Whilton where he did not do any work.
Thus we could say that he literally made his mark on our community.
His patience and hard
work helped him through a number of difficulties, which included the sudden
loss of his first wife, leaving him with four children, and a serious work
injury, which he overcame.
A good number of his family attended this meeting and were able to meet with old friends, all a sign of the respect in which Don was held all his life.
WHAT TO SEE IN WHILTON CHURCHYARD
of Whilton Local History Society met on 19th May to begin work on producing a leaflet
about Whilton Churchyard. The stone
structure we know today as St Andrew’s was probably first built in the late 1100s,
but it is very likely that there was a wooden structure here before that,
especially since we know there was a priest here in 1086. Some historians now think that in many cases
the burial site around a church may have been in existence before there was a
building. It is thus quite possible that
our churchyard is a thousand years old.
is very difficult to estimate how many burials there have been. Until recent times almost everyone dying in
the parish would have been buried here, and a few important people were actually
buried beneath the church. Since the
parish registers have existed there is no record of a plague or disaster
here. In fact there is every reason to
think that Whilton, with its good clean water supply from springs, its hilltop
atmosphere and fertile farming land was a very healthy place to live. Almost certainly it was affected by the Black
Death in the late 1300s, when the lord of the manor and his son both died, and,
if Whilton followed the national pattern, perhaps over half the inhabitants
died. However, even this would only have
been a relatively small number. Over the
millennium perhaps a maximum of 7,000 bodies have been buried.
the middle ages most bodies were buried in a shroud, tied above the head and feet.
As an attempt to help the woollen
industry there were even Acts of Parliament between 1666 and 1680 to force
people to use woollen shrouds. Whilton
has records that burials in woollen were taking place. This law was officially in force until 1814. Coffins became more common for those who could
afford it by the 19th century. While
talking we found we did not know the derivation of the word "coffin".
In fact, it comes through Old French and
Latin from a Greek word, which means "basket”.
the whole, tombstones in churchyards date usually from the 17th century. This is so with Whilton. There are three listed stones outside the west
wall of the south aisle, described by English Heritage as "3 headstones. Dressed
ironstone. Largest to north dated 1691
with cherubs head, middle stone with double volute head to Thomas Embry, Wool
Winder, d. 1681, third with oval laurel wreath facing worn inscription and
are others, some earlier, along the wall by Churchgate. Among them is this stone memorial to Henry
LYETH THE BODY OF
SNEATH HE DEPARTED
LIFE THE 27TH DAY OF JULY
1666* BEING OF AGE 60
WHEN HEE DIED”
This date is hard to decipher but appears to be 1666
early gravestones are small compared with later ones and some are decorated
with worn cherubs’ heads, often used as a symbol of resurrection.
are so weathered that it is difficult, if not impossible, to read the
inscriptions. This is one of the
problems we face in the churchyard. The
local stone used is very soft and crumbles away after time. We are also faced with a healthy growth of
lichen, often a sign of clear air, but not very helpful to us here. This does mean that everything we can record
or notice is quite important, because some things will be illegible after a few
years fashions have changed and different types of memorial have been popular. We do not have extravagant or showy memorials
in Whilton, and that is probably in keeping with the history of the village,
but we do have some examples of changes in fashion in lVhilton. These include a few foot stones as well as
head stones, with just the initials and date, and four chest tombs, of which
that for the Elliott family of the Locks is listed. There are signs that at least two of these
were surrounded by rails. These rails
may have been surrendered in metal salvage collections during the Second World
Greek Revival style in the early 1800s with plain geometric shapes and
triangular heads can be seen in one or two examples here. After the coming of the railway there was more
use of non local stones, which on the whole have weathered better, sometimes
having the letters picked out in black, which helps us to read them. There was also a fashion for curbs around a
grave, which can be seen in the Reynolds memorial to the south of the church. We only have a handful of crosses, and no
standing angels, obelisks or broken columns which became very popular by the
late l800s, and which would have changed the character of Whilton churchyard.
is one of the more ornate tombstones at Whilton. This is in memory of Henry Dunkley, who died
just before the First World War on 26th May 1914, aged 55. Although the gravestone does not record this,
he was drowned in the canal lock.
space below was left for a memorial for his wife, Elizabeth. She was not buried in Whilton churchyard, and
the inscription was never completed.
members looked at leaflets produced by other places and discussed a variety of
possibilities which may be put into a leaflet about our churchyard. This may include its wildlife and the routes
of paths leading into it. We also talked
about what would be the best sort of illustrations. We hope to work on this idea and to produce
something within the coming year. The
Society intends that this will be the first of a series of leaflets on Whilton,
including perhaps the interior of the church, the canal, and other aspects of the
Back to list
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND IN YOUR GARDEN?
This was the
title of the Local History Society’s meeting on 17th March. Julie Cassidy, the Finds Liaison Officer for
Northamptonshire, talked to us about her work identifying old objects all over
the county. Unless an object is
identified as “treasure”, the finder may keep it, but she explained that by
being able to record items and where they are found, it is possible to
understand more about our history and the way we used to live.
Following her talk, there was an opportunity to see and handle examples of items which have been found in the county. Several people had brought items found in Whilton and these were examined. Although there was no official "treasure", those present were very interested to learn about what has been found and what might still be lying in the local fields and gardens.
fossils and water smoothed pebbles, the oldest item was probably a Stone Age
arrow head, which had later been made into an awl for making holes, perhaps in
leather. There was evidence of the
Romans, who would have travelled along the two Roman roads in Whilton. This included some coins and a little Roman
brooch. However, there was also some
pottery from about the first century, which came from the village, and suggests
that there were already habitations on the top of Whilton hill, besides the
town of Bannaventa
on Watling Street.
There was a
small Elizabethan silver coin with a hole in it. Perhaps it was worn around a neck, or
stitched to clothing. Was it a Royalist
or Parliamentary soldier who lost an unfired musket ball from the Civil War
period? An 18th century
thimble had been found in a field. Women
used to sit and stitch in the fields, and this is not an uncommon find.
pottery found included everyday ware from the 1700's and 1800's and early 20th
century bottles for water, beer and Bovril.
There were also coins, clay pipe stems, an instrument for tamping down
tobacco and a solidified spoonful of lead, which was once melted down to mend
All who came were fascinated and went away determined
to look more carefully as we dig our gardens or walk our dogs. For further information, or to talk about a
find, you can contact Julie Cassidy on 01604 237249 or email her.Back to list
THE STONE HOUSE
of the society met on Thursday 20th January to hear the story of the
Stone House. This has probably been the
site of a dwelling since Saxon times. To
the north and east are the old manorial and ecclesiastical centres. In 1301, one of the seven farmers paying tax
probably lived on this site, but we cannot tell if it was Henry Cappe, Luc
Hynes, John Russenole, Richard Bendane, Walter Coupere, Walter de Fodringeye or
Stone House does not follow the pattern of most of the farmhouses in Whilton, which
have fireplaces at the gable end of the building. The Stone House has two fireplaces back to
back in the centre, as does Dormer Cottage.
The listing describes the house as dating from the late 17th
century, built of ironstone ashlar, with a slate
roof with ornamental ridge tiles, brick end and ridge stacks, with 2 storeys
and attic. There is a 4-window range,
with a door to left of the centre blocked with a 2-light leaded wood mullion
and transom window and hood mould. There
are similar 3-light windows to the ground and first floors except for a small
upright oval leaded window with stone surround over the blocked door. There is another similar window in the right
gable. Around the base is a blue brick chamfered plinth.
These blue bricks were perhaps added
late in the nineteenth century, when they were fashionable.
The listing also mentions the quoins, moulded stone eaves and
stone-coped gables with kneelers. Quoins
are the dressed stones on the corner of the building. Kneelers are the roughly triangular stones at
the base of the gable. The rear porch
dates from the last century and is the work of Mick Gardner.
The interior has ogee-stop-chamfered spine beams and some stop-chamfered
joists. (Ogee is the name
given to a double curved shape, like an elongated S. The stop chamfered beams have shaped flat
surfaces at the corners.) The 2 open fireplaces back to back have
stop-chamfered bressumers, the beams supporting the masonry above a fireplace.
do not know who built the house we recognize today. The first owner mentioned in the deeds was a
yeoman, called Thomas Carr, who lived here in the early 1700s. He had two sons, named William and
Thomas. The Carr or A’Carr family had
lived in Whilton since the 1570s, and were farmers, holding positions such as
church-warden in the village.
Carr the father died in 1728. William
inherited the Stone House from his father and continued farming here. The Stone House followed the usual pattern
for a farmhouse, with a yard behind it and a way through to the back. Animals would go through this entrance on
return from their grazing in the common pastures. This entrance shows up clearly in the late
nineteenth century photo of the house.
1730 William mortgaged property including the Stone House to raise £756.3.0, a
very large amount. The money was
borrowed from John Rose a prosperous Daventry saddler. By 1735 he had borrowed another £100. However, in 1744 William died, without making
a will; this suggests he may have died unexpectedly. His brother, Thomas, inherited the Stone
House and the mortgage. Two years later
he “had occasion” to borrow another £250 from John Rose. At this time the house was described as a messuage
with yard, garden, orchard, homestead, home close, backside and appurtenances
in Whilton, standing on the north or north-west side of the public street of
Carr left the Stone House on the marriage of his daughter in 1756, and went to
Welton to live with the young couple, leaving John Dunkley here as their
tenant. By 1759 the house had been sold
to William Humphrey, a butcher. Here he
and his wife Elizabeth brought up their children Thomas, Elizabeth, William,
John, Francis, Jacob and Robert. William
added to his land and property, including the purchase of the south east end of
the Dovehouse Close. After he died in
1812, his widow, Elizabeth, had to collect her annuity once a quarter from the
church porch and his son, Jacob, lived in the house until 1820.The Stone House in the late nineteenth century,
looking as it would have done since the late 1600s. The roof is still thatched, including the
three gables in the attic. The entrance
gate to the yard, can clearly be seen, and above it a thatched garret room.
Humphrey family then sold the house to Walter Watson, but sometime after his
marriage to Sarah Dalton of Rugby, the house was let. By 1863 James Adams, the Whilton carrier, was
living in the house and paying 12 shillings rent. He continued to be their tenant for some
years, but by 1872 he was able to buy the house for £250. He had to take out a mortgage and borrowed
the money from Thomas and Elizabeth Ann Bull, the Watson’s heirs.
Adams was also the baker, with a bakehouse at the west end of the house, but he
died as the result of an accident on 30 December 1875. He was only 48. His only son, James Wallace Adams, inherited
the house and mortgage, and lived in the Stone House, but in 1878 Thomas Bull
called in the mortgage money, giving the family until Lady Day to find the
money. James Wallace Adams arranged to
sell the house to James Emery of the central farm, and thus pay off his
Emery owned the property until his death in 1880, after which the Stone House
and other Whilton properties were to be divided between his three sons, Thomas
James, Robert and James. Robert bought
out his two brothers in 1881. By this
date the Stone House was occupied by William Dunkley, an agricultural labourer,
who also did some gardening and was probably the carrier too. By 1901 it also had an “outdoor beer licence”. Thomas Essen was living there paying £14
rent. He was an agricultural labourer
too, who finally died in 1933 aged 85, maybe still living at the Stone
1909 Robert Emery was probably in financial difficulties. Certainly by 1913 it was
the bank which owned the Stone House and put it up for auction, along with
other Whilton properties previously owned by Robert Emery. The auction was held at the Old Plough at 4
p,m. on Tuesday 7th January 1913, perhaps a bleak day. The purchasers were the brewers P Phipps and
Co Ltd; they may have been eager to
acquire a business competing with their own pub, the Plough. There is now a clause in the Stone House
deeds preventing the sale of alcohol there.
after this, there was a disastrous fire, which destroyed the old thatched roof
and dormer windows and the bakehouse, so that photos dating from about 1930
show the new slated roof. During the war
Colonel Shaw of Whilton Lodge acquired the dilapidated house, which he hoped
might make a new Rectory, but by December 1947 it was bought by Arthur (Mick)
Gardner and his wife Edna.
The Stone House after
repairs following the fire which destroyed its roof and old bakehouse.
door to the off-licence, run by Tom Essen, would later be replaced by a window
in many other Whilton houses, conditions were primitive, but Mick used his many
skills to make the house habitable, with help from other villagers such as Jack
Wright and Roy Carpenter. He made use of
some materials from other old buildings.
These included the ornamental ridge tiles from a school in Northampton,
and the banisters and wrought iron doorway halfway up the stairs with the date
1693, which came from Norton Hall. He
closed off the old off-licence door onto the street, and added a porch at the
rear. Even before there was mains water
in Whilton, he installed running water in an upstairs bathroom and a new sink
in the kitchen, by pumping well water up to a tank in the roof. A bath required one hundred pumps at the
was the Gardner’s who gave the Stone House its name, as, like most houses in
Whilton, it had no name until the mid 20th century. Edna Gardner became the well loved
Postmistress for 18 years, combining this with a small shop in what had been
the bakehouse. After Mick retired from
teaching at Daventry Grammar School, they
moved away to Northampton and the house was sold to Mark and Bennie
Eyton-Jones, who are still here today.
Back to listNovember 2010
CHRISTMAS PARTIES AT WHILTON LODGE
the 1930s, when Colonel Shaw owned the Lodge, he and his family hosted a party
for Whilton children in the week before Christmas. These parties were remembered for years
afterwards by the village children, not only for the food and special
treatment, but for the majestic journey in a chauffeur-driven Daimler or Lancia
from the village down to the Lodge, and for the welcome by Colonel Shaw with
his monocle and waxed moustache, accompanied by his film star-like wife.
of the society sat around a table, as the children did eighty years ago, and
sampled thinly cut sandwiches, orange jellies and fancy cakes. Leaf tea was poured through a strainer and
sugar was served with silver tongs.
Christmas is coming we also enjoyed the nostalgic, perhaps rose-tinted, memory
of Stanley Haynes, one of those Whilton children. This memory must date from about 1937 when
Rev. Lawrence Edward Brown became Rector of Whilton.
It was Christmas
Eve. In the church new candles were in
place, the stove was going well, and the polished copper lamps shone on the
holly which decorated the lectern and the pulpit. There had been a brief snowfall - it would be
a white Christmas - and as the congregation assembled they shook the snow from
their boots on the welcoming doormat, warming their hands over the stove before
taking their places for the Christmas Eve carol service.
The boy in the corner
pumped the organ, Parson Brown announced the hymn, Betty Pride played the
opening chord, and the church rang to the sound of “O come all ye faithful.”
…There’d be two
Christmas services for Dad to attend - the early communion and the mid-morning
Matins. Then it was home to put the dinner
in the oven. From the spring broods of
poultry we’d keep a cockerel. By
Christmas this bird would be in the pink of condition. For some weeks Mum would take a stick into
the hen run to fight the blighter off as he’d always attack a woman - not a man,
as a rule, but how did he know one from the other? Anyway, he’d now be trussed and stuffed - a
feast for kings.
Back to list
THE PLOUGH: PAST INTO PRESENT
On Thursday 27th May, our meeting was based on the story
of the house known as "The Old Plough," shown in this photo of about
This began with Richard Langton of Whilton, who sold a
house in Whilton to Thomas Mutton sometime in the mid 1600s, probably after the
Civil War. Thomas was a prosperous shepherd.
He and his wife, Lucy, seem to have
lived in this house, where they had two children, Alice and Thomas. In December 1656 Thomas Mutton was unwell, and
"considering the weake and fraile
estate of my mortall bodye " he made his will, and died in 1658. The house was left to his widow for life, and
then to Thomas, his son, who was aged about six at his father’s death.
Young Thomas Mutton grew up in Whilton. He became a husbandman, or farmer, and was
active in adding to his property and building. Other houses were also being built in Whilton
at this time of renewed confidence and prosperity after the Restoration. Thomas bought a parcel of ground from widow
Alice Dawson, on which she had built a new house. There was a yard and orchard adjoining it. He also bought an orchard from William and
Hannah Cleaver to the west of Alice Dawson’s house and orchard, and laid it all
out together. William Cleaver kept his
yard, which lay to the south end of this plot. Alice Dawson’s house became the core of what
was to become the Plough.
In 1693, when he was 41, Thomas Mutton had, at least
temporarily, left Whilton and gone to Long Orton near Peterborough. In that year he took out a mortgage on his Whilton
property, borrowing £70 from Thomas Emery.
Borrowing money in this way was common before the days of building
societies and banks for all. The
witnesses to the deed were Jonathan Newbold the blacksmith and Eleanor Edmunds,
the cooper’s widow.
Thomas Mutton was not away long. He is recorded in the poll book as being in Whilton
in 1695. In 1697 John Ball, a Whilton
weaver, died, and Thomas Mutton helped his widow, Mary, to administer his
estate. In the next year he married
widow Mary Ball at Long Buckby Church. By
now Thomas was 46. I have found no
record of any children of this marriage. Thomas and Mary settled to married life in
Whilton, and it appears that they were living in Thomas’ newly built house,
almost certainly what we know as Dormer Cottage. Thomas was overseer of the poor for the year 1698.
By 1722 Thomas was 70 and had found someone to take over
some of his property. George Judkin, (sometimes spelt Judkins) a
carpenter, took a lease of what had once been known as Dawson’s House. The house had probably been enlarged, and
consisted of four bays and part of a fifth, and with it part of the yard and
orchard were leased too, with detailed instructions about the provision and
upkeep of the mounds on the boundaries.
These were thatched cob walls, which required maintenance.
Thomas Mutton was to make and keep a
sufficient mound the whole length of 26 yards on the east side, and on the
south end of the orchard the 20 yard mound wall belonged to George Judkin.
Thomas Mutton was a widower and getting old and described
himself as in "indifferent health”
and so made his will in August 1723, dying a few months later. He left his barn and part of the yard and
homestead which “I sometime since agreed to sell to him, or leased to him, and
which is now in his possession", to George Judkin. His other bequests were to distant relatives,
and his administratix was his kinswoman Barbery Daniell of Whilton. On 4 Feb 1723/4 she left her mark on the
statement: "I acknowledge
Tho. Mutton received of George Judkin sometime since twenty pounds towards the
purchase of a house he bought of the said Tho Mutton in Whilton witness my hand
Thomas Mutton had intended George Judkin to have the
property, but George had only paid £20 at Thomas’s death, and Barbary stood to
inherit the residue of Thomas’ estate.
George Judkin considered that by his will Thomas had left the property
to him and refused to pay the rest of the money. As a
result Barbary and her husband, Sam, would not assent to the bequest. The dispute was finally solved by George Judkin
agreeing to pay £11 5s of the £18 10s he still owed and by the Daniells
assigning the premises "and the other part of the said fifth bay" to
George in November 1724.
George Judkin and his wife Ann now became the owners of
the house, where he ran a carpenter’s business. The property stayed in Judkin's ownership for
generations, although after the first George Judkin they did not live in the
house, but farmed from Roughmoor.
The property was let to a variety of tenants and other
properties were taken in. These included
the site of a cottage which was "ruinous
and much out of repair ", conveyed by John Blencow to tailor William
Moss. William Moss pulled down the
cottage, which was to the west of Dawson’s house and built a new one with a
brewhouse and outbuildings, borrowing £30 from George Judkin to do this in
1789. His fire insurance certificate
noted that all these buildings were thatched. William Moss then became tailor, shopkeeper
and publican. No doubt he needed every
penny as he had twelve children, although one died as a baby.
Other tenants followed and the house was split up into
smaller cottages, with a variety of people calling themselves
"publican", but none depending on this entirely for a living. There can have been little profit from the
By 1810 the publican was Joseph Emery, a carpenter as
well, assisted by his first wife, Susannah, and then his second, Mary. After his death in 1835, Mary Emery and l her
step-daughter Zillah took over from her father at the Plough, as it was now known.
Before long Mary found a new husband,
and married John Kilsby, a mason and victualler, yet again combining the pub
with another job. But John Kilsby died
in 1844. Mary, his widow, conveyed her
pub to John Hyde in 1851. She remained
in one of the little cottages adjoining the Plough. Her gravestone, dated 1857, is in the churchyard
near the gate. It was John Hyde who took
out a mortgage with Phipps Brewery, which by 1894 had taken over the Plough.
The brewery also acquired a little cottage near the
street between the Plough and the modern Dormer Cottage. This cottage had once belonged to John Facer,
who died here in 1760. He sold it to
John Jellis, a Whilton woolcomber. His
son and grandson, both called James, inherited the cottage, but were farmers in
Leicestershire and so let it out to tenants. The younger James sold the cottage to Phipps
Despite a boost during the Second World War, when
soldiers from Brockhall and Whilton used the pub, trade gradually declined, and
the pub finally closed its doors at Christmas in 1954. It seems fitting that Harold and Trudy Haynes
were able to acquire the pub as a home. Harold
had Dunkley ancestors, and Harry Dunkley ran the Plough and a carrier’s
business in Victorian and Edwardian times.
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WORN IN WHILTON
IN WHILTON" was the title of our meeting on 23rd March, when we
considered some aspects of clothing worn here over the centuries. Until the eighteenth century the main fabrics
used were wool and linen, the wool being produced locally. The rector had a right to a tenth of the
fleeces, and in 1631 two Whilton men, who had been involved in shearing at
Brockhall, gave evidence about the collection of tithe there. After the farmer’s sister had laid out the
fleeces in tens, the Brockhall rector would send his factor to look over them. He would then choose one from each group as
the rector’s tithe. It is likely that a
similar system operated in Whilton.
this area the wool was mostly used to make worsted cloth, which was made of long-staple
fibres which were combed to remove unwanted short fibres and make them lie
parallel. In the spinning operation,
which gives the necessary twist to hold the fibres together, worsted yarns are
more tightly twisted than are the bulkier woollen yarns. The soft, heavy yarn is strong and durable
and is often used for fine materials. There
is a record of a Whilton farm being sold in 1437 for money and armour, which included
a red worsted doublet, perhaps locally made.
used for worsted cloth required more than carding, as the fibres to be laid parallel
to each other and unwanted short staple wool had to be removed. This process was called woolcombing. It was an apprenticed trade, a seven year
apprenticeship being the norm in the mid eighteenth century with apprenticeship
starting at about the age of 12 or 13.
comb, which was like a short handled rake, had several rows of long teeth, or broitches
- originally made of wood, later of metal. The broitches were heated in a charcoal
fuelled comb-pot, as heated combs softened the lanolin and the extra oil used which
made the process easier. The wool comber
would take a tress of wool, sprinkle it with oil and massage this well into the
wool. He then attached a heated comb to
a post or wooden framework, threw the wool over the teeth and drew it through
them repeatedly, leaving a few straight strands of wool upon the comb each
time. When the comb had collected all
the wool, the woolcomber would place it back into the comb-pot with the wool
hanging down outside to keep warm. A
second hank of wool was heated in the same way.
both combs were full of the heated wool (about four ounces) the comber would sit
on a low stool with a comb in each hand and comb one tress of wool into the
other by inserting the teeth of one comb into the wool stuck in the other,
repeating the process until the fibres were laid parallel. To complete the process the combed wool was
formed into slivers, several slivers making a top, which weighed exactly a pound.
cloth industry was relatively important in Whilton by the late eighteenth
century. With a fast growing national
population the production of clothing was essential. In 1781 there were three weavers and nine
woolcombers in Whilton. Just as the numbers
were reaching their peak, disaster struck, as new methods of making cloth were
invented further north. As factories
took over, there was no work left for Whilton woolcombers. We have the story of one of these men.
records suggest that Richard Constable probably lived in Tudor House. He had a number of children baptized at St
Andrew’s and after his first wife died, he married Ann Townley of Whilton. Like other woolcombers he had various business
interests. He had a shop in Whilton, but
he was almost certainly part of the "harateen" or worsted industry
for which Long Buckby was well known. He
was probably more than an ordinary cottage woolcomber, being involved in
collecting and delivering to other home workers in the area, and in this way
may have had the opportunity to meet a variety of other people. This would have suited him because he was one
of earliest Methodists in this area.
those he met were not trustworthy, as in 1796 when some of his jersey wool was
stolen by a Dodford woman. "Jersey
wool" was wool which had been combed but not yet spun. By the 1800s the home based woollen cloth
industry was in serious decline in the face of industrialization. Richard was one of those left without work. He and his new wife had a baby daughter in
1811 and sometime after this he moved to Northampton in the search of
employment. All the woollen industry had
now moved further north and there was no congenial work available. Ann was pregnant again. With another new baby to feed and no income,
he took on work on a canal wharf in Northampton. The winter of 1813-14 was bitterly cold, and
perhaps it was this freezing weather and snow, which must also have prevented
canal trade, which led to his final illness and his return to Whilton. By February 1814 he had died and the
fatherless new baby was christened here in the following May.
CLOTHES WORN IN WHILTON
heard about some of the clothes passed on through generations in the past, when
hard wearing qualities were more important than the latest fashions. In 1601 Thomas Linnell inherited his father’s
russet coat and hose, and in 1641 William Reeve a Whilton husbandman left his
wearing clothes of linen and woollen to his brother Richard. However, it was usually women who described
their clothes in more detail, when leaving them in their wills.
looked particularly at the clothes of the interestingly-named Philip Smith, a widow,
who died in 1707. She was comfortably
off and left a variety of money gifts to various relatives and friends. She had also given thought to all her dresses,
and divided them up among several women, some of whom may have been her
daughters. Elizabeth Langton received
two "pettycoats and a sute of my best linen". Elizabeth Smith, the daughter of Widow Smith
of Wootton near Northampton got a black gown and petticoat. Mary Russell, wife of Sam Russell of Long
Buckby, inherited a sad coloured gown and petticoat. "Sad" in those days, as we would
expect, meant dull. There was a mixed
serge gown and petticoat for Alice, wife of John Smith of Stow, and Elizabeth
Hedg of Daventry had a different sad coloured gown and a grey petticoat. But
Elizabeth Green of East Haddon received a black tawny gown and petticoat with a
silver lace. A petticoat at this period
was an underskirt, sometimes decorated, and not a piece of underwear.
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WADD'S IN A NAME
meeting in January was based on some of the place names in Whilton, beginning
by re-visiting a Newsletter article by Harold Haynes published in December
1997. He called it "Wadd’s in a
name?”, and raised a number of questions and suggestions, some of which can now
See here for a map showing field names.
rightly guessed that Wadd Close came
from the word "woad". From the
late 17th century until the enclosure, Whilton was in the area known for its woad
growing and processing. The woad people
were itinerant, staying for three or four years in an area, and then moving on.
They would return twelve to fifteen
years later. Woad was not grown in the
open fields, but in old enclosures near the village. Landowners would grant leases to the woadmen who
organised this. Woad Close and second
Woad Close fitted into this category. Some of the enclosures of Roughmoor and fields
in Brington and Norton were used for woad.
was intrigued by the name "Top of
the Town Close", saying you could hardly call this a town. In fact you could. The suffix "ton" is a Saxon word meaning
settlement or village, and in many records over the centuries there are
references to the "township" of Whilton. Modern "Hill Top" stands in this close.
Not only does it mark the top of the
hill, but it also marked the end of the village before the enclosure, when the
road took a different route down to the valley.
Inkerman is another puzzle,
because no record suggests that a Whilton man fought in the Battle of lnkerman
in the Crimea in 1854. However, in the previous
year, a Captain George Jenkinson of Weedon Barracks had purchased Whilton
Lodge, including the Mill and its farm. The
Captain and his family lived in Whilton for a few years, becoming involved in
parish affairs, before he left for his new home after becoming the eleventh
Earl of Liverpool. It would seem likely
that he had some influence in renaming the field in honour of the great battle.
mentioned Windmill Close, Dairy Ground
and Donkey Field as having obvious
meanings, the Donkey Field being where the Rector kept the donkey which pulled
the mowing machine over the Rectory lawns. The Donkey Field was next to a much larger old
enclosure, known as the Dove House Close.
The medieval dove house may well have
stood in this field.
wondered who was the Tarry of Tarry’s
Orchard. Edward Tarry was born in
about 1832 in Chapel Brampton. His
mother, Ann, had come from Whilton. When
his father died, Edward came to live in The Old Cottage, Whilton, with his
uncle John Dunkley, a bachelor. The
records suggest he may have had an unhappy childhood, and this may be what
prompted him to leave for Australia. When
John Dunkley died in 1866, leaving his house and land to his nephew, Edward
Tarry came back from Melbourne. He lived
the rest of his life in the Old Cottage, being a grazier here. Presumably Tarry’s Orchard was used for
grazing and apple growing. Edward Tarry died a widower with no children in
Collins Orchard was remembered by
Harold as a place for scrumping pears. There
were Collins families in Whilton throughout the 19th century. In 1841 Thomas Collins and his family were
living in a cottage next to the Wheatsheaf pub in Brington Lane; almost
certainly it was they who gave the name to the field beyond their cottage. Thomas was an agricultural labourer.
believed the three fields called Butlins
to the north of the road going down Whilton Hill, may have once been farmed by
William Langton Wright Butlin. In fact
they were allotments to John Butlin at the enclosure in 1778. John Butlin must have been a relative of
William Langton Wright Butlin and both were living in Whilton at this time. Later John Butlin seems to have moved to
Duston, and let his farmland to Thomas Humphrey.
Humphrey family were butchers and some were millers. Harold guessed that the two fields off the
Brington Road known as John Humphreys
were allotted to John Humphrey the butcher in 1778. This is probably correct. It is interesting that some of the original
names of people who gained land at the enclosure have been preserved in these
field names after two and a quarter centuries. Lang’s
Hill Meadow and Langs Hill were
allotments to Perridge Langton and Joe
Langs was allotted to Joseph Langton at the enclosure.
noted that one of the fields in the glebeland has the intriguing name,"AngIends". This is in fact a very old name. The first record of it is in 1501, when it was
part of the open Fen Field, and was
known as Hanging Lands or Hanglands, that is "land on a slope".
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LANGTON AND HIS FARM
our November meeting we found out some of the details of the farming life of
William Langton of Whilton. William was
born in the time of Queen Elizabeth, would have lived through the scare of the
Spanish Armada, the accession of James l, the Gunpowder Plot and the early
years of Charles l. He died in 1636.
cannot be sure where William’s Whilton farmhouse stood four hundred years ago, but
there is enough information to give us an idea of what his home looked like. With the aid of a model we considered
William’s yard, which included the farmhouse where he lived. This was probably well furnished for a yeoman,
but we only have records of a bed, chair, cupboards and buffet stool. The house and buildings would all have been thatched
and probably built of cob. The fireplace
was vital for cooking and for warmth, and the fire was kept in all year. The Langtons had a yearly trip to Rugby to
collect coal, presumably from the Warwickshire mining area, and they also burnt
furze in the house. Furze could be used
as a form of kindling or to raise a blaze when more heat was needed. When William later built another farmhouse, he
reckoned there was a need for sixty faggots of furze a year, but the size of
the faggots is not described! There were
trees in or around his Great Close, from which, no doubt, firewood was obtained.
There was timber stacked about the
place, some in sheds, which William referred to as hovels.
yard was almost certainly cobbled. The
outbuildings housed his farming equipment, which included at least two long
carts and two dung carts, his ploughs, with irons belonging to them, and one
great harrow. This equipment would have
been pulled by the six horses owned by William.
In the stables and cow houses round the yard were gear for horses,
racks, mangers and lures. The entry to
this yard was through a gateway, with two garners over it, suggesting a wide
entrance, with gates which were closed at night, something like the farm at
equipment included a salting trough, used in the salting of meat, which would have
been butchered and preserved for the use of the family. There were also barrels, probably for the
storing of beer brewed for the family and its servants and labourers. William had his own malt kiln, with its
steeping vat and hair cloth belonging to it, and used in the production of malt
probably from his own barley. Thomas
Hale, a writer of the next century compared methods for making malt, and wrote, "Of all the methods the plain and
simple hair cloth is the best for the finest malts. A slow fire under this dries it very
gradually and equally, it is easily turned as is required, and when it is done
there is no difficulty in getting it out, for ’tis only turning it at once and all
is clean." This suggests
William Langton knew what he was doing. He
stored his malt in barns round the yard.
July 1602 William was married in Nether Heyford, where his bride was Elizabeth Worley.
Their marriage was to last 33 years,
which was a good long time for those risky days, when many women died young. William and Elizabeth brought up their children
in the old farmhouse. There were two
sons, William and Thomas, and several daughters. William and Elizabeth Langton prospered during
their lifetime, and William was able to build a second farmhouse on Nichols
Yard in Whilton, so that after his death each of his two sons could have his
own farm. This new house had two storeys
and with it a yard, homestead, barns and "edifices". There was a great barn next to "Beane
Well", with a grass close beside it to the west. This new house was probably comfortably
furnished, but the records only mention a table with frame and form in the hall,
a spit, cupboards, a swilling pot and brazen pots, but that there were other
items of furniture too. After William
died, his widow, Elizabeth went to live in this new house with her son Thomas
Langton; she had a patch of south facing ground outside her parlour where she
could sit in the sun.
closes included an orchard, next to Robert Langton’s close, with different types
of apple trees. A few cows were kept in
the Great Close near the house, almost certainly for milking, and some sheep
grazed here too. Besides his two
farmhouses and the hedged fields connected with them, William held four
yardlands of arable land in the open fields of Whilton, just as other farmers
did. A yardland was not a precise measurement
and varied from parish to parish, in this area often being between 25 and 30
acres. If we base our calculations on
the lower figure, we can say that William held at least 100 acres in Whilton
open fields. He also held ten lands, or
strips, in Muscot Field. This was
another open field, stretching up adjoining Whilton, beside Roughmoor Grounds,
which was communally held by Norton, Brockhall and Whilton parishes. In these open fields William grew corn and
peas, wheat and barley. Some barley was used
for malt, but other grain would have been threshed and taken to the windmill on
the hill or the watermill in the valley, to provide flour for the family. He also harvested hay and held the sixth part
of a yardland in the Farm Ground of Whilton. This may have been grassland for hay or
William’s main business involved livestock.
In his old age, he owned 16 cows and 8 heifers, and in the common fields
he kept 30 young sheep, 15 ewes and lambs and 15 barren sheep, besides his
sheep and cows in his Great Close near the house. There were also another 60 hogs (a local word
for yearling sheep). His sons also had their
own flocks and herds, and appear to have worked the farm with him.
from the animals was an important by-product, used for fertilising the ground. William had dung carts for transporting this
manure where required, but the sheep were sometimes folded on the arable strips
which William held, the folds being carried out to the lands. After William died, the sons had to carry out
his will that young William’s sheep should be moved out to a fold on Thomas’s
arable in the open fields every year, so that Thomas should have the muck from
his brother’s sheep kept in Great Close; Thomas had the duty of carrying the
sheep fold out to the fields.
his death in 1636, William Langton was not buried in the churchyard, but in the
church itself, usually the sign that he was an important and wealthy
parishioner. He left the church a plate
for the serving of the bread during communion, but no memorial to him has
remained. His "beloved
friends" whom he made the overseers of his will were other farmers, Thomas
Linnell, William Hall and William Briggs.
William Phillips, another farmer who probably lived in a farmhouse at
the end of Buckby Lane, and the Rector, Samuel Phillips, witnessed the will. The value of William Langton’s goods was
reckoned to be £607-9-4, a considerable sum in 1636.
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LANDLUBBERS AND BOATMEN
At our September meeting, entitled “Landlubbers and boatmen”, we looked at the history of the canal in Whilton, which is over 200 years old.
The boat people spent their whole lives working on the cut, with their own traditions, dialect and costume. Whilton Locks developed as a “service station” for these forerunners of long distance lorry drivers. The Spotted Cow pub (now Foursquare Farm) provided a meeting place, alcoholic refreshment, especially Guinness, and sold fresh produce.
|In 1891 it was sold by auction at the Peacock Hotel, Daventry. The sale details described it as a:-|
“brick-built and slated old-established Public House, very eligibly situated near to the road from Daventry to Whilton, and adjoining the towing path of the Grand Junction Canal, having an extensive frontage thereto. The house contains taproom, bar, two sitting-rooms, pantry, kitchen with room over scullery, top and underground cellars, and four bedrooms. The outbuildings comprise stabling for ten horses, granary, hen and coal houses
| || |
and piggeries, large yard with pump and well of good water, and extensive garden. Well planted with fruit trees, the whole occupying an area of one acre, or thereabouts. The property was for many years in the occupation of the late Mrs Elizabeth Elliott, and is now of Mr William Elliott, the proprietor. It is in close proximity to Whilton Locks, and is much used as a halting place for boats, there being no other licensed house within a considerable distance.”
Memories of the first half of the twentieth century included fishing competitions, clog dancing, and cricket matches with teas provided by the Spotted Cow. The blacksmith, Sam Tomlinson, shoed the horses for the boat people and the hunters from Whilton Lodge, while his wife was a dressmaker. Bonnets and shirts could be ordered on one trip and collected on the next. It took a skilled needlewoman to work these intricate designs.
Because of their nomadic way of life, few boatpeople learned to read and write, and had to have their letters read by Mrs Wright at the Spotted Cow. We also heard how small boys (Will Adams in the years before the First World War and Jack Wright between the Wars) were fascinated by the blacksmith’s forge, which was also making bikes, and by the threshing tackle, engine box, elevators and a set of saws in the yard which is now the site of Saxon Lifts. Small boys nowadays would not have the freedom to roam in such places!
We noted the bewildering variety of activities undertaken by the Victorian entrepreneur, Thomas Henry Reynolds. Among others, these ranged from being a farmer, coal merchant, miller, grain merchant, lime merchant with lime kilns at the Locks, farm steward for John Craven at the Lodge, Rural District Councillor, four times Mayor of Daventry, Guardian for the Daventry Poor Law Union, Whilton School Manager, Churchwarden and Parish Councillor.
In his spare time he was colour sergeant of the Althorp Company of Volunteers. It was he who fired the first shots on the new range at Brington in 1897. Shooting was one of his leisure pursuits, and with two others, he rented the shooting and fishing rights of Daventry Canal Reservoir, although it was generally agreed that his favourite sport was angling. Perhaps this was one of the few opportunities he had to sit quietly! Going home would not have been quiet, as he and his wife, Tryphena, had nine children.
| || |
The Reynolds family lived in the farmhouse, which was demolished in order to build the Bannaventa pub, which has now become the carpet shop. The farmhouse, outbuildings and lime kilns can be seen on the left of this map of about 1880.
The house faced the road with an orchard in the area beside the railway embankment. If anyone has a photo of the front of this house, I would be very interested to see it. Needless to say, a photo of the energetic Mr Reynolds would be equally interesting.
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THE TALE OF TOMMY ADAMS
The Local History Society met on 15th July to hear “The Tale of Tommy Adams."
Tommy was born in Whilton, 280 years ago, and baptised in the parish church on 11th April 1729. He was the middle child of Thomas and Mary Adams, probably descendants of the Adams family who had farmed in Whilton in Elizabethan times. His grandfather, another Thomas, had made money in London as a butcher.
By the time of Tommy’s birth the family was wealthy, living in fashionable comfort in a large house in Whilton, with coach house, brew houses, stable, malt kiln and pump house, besides its orchard and garden. When his parents Thomas and Mary entertained, they may have used their silver spoons, ladle and salver, stirring their tea with silver teaspoons and lifting the sugar with silver tongs. Thomas had a choice of gold or silver watches and maybe the large crystal with two diamonds on Mary’s ring glittered, while the sparkle of Thomas’s silver sleeve buttons and buckles caught the candle light. Thomas would have looked smart, newly shaved by his barber Jonathan Cue, who also provided the powder to whiten his wig. Their visitors may have been from London, or have been squires and their families from local parishes, sometimes on business and sometimes on social occasions. Thomas’s property extended to Warwickshire, other Northamptonshire parishes and London, providing a wide network for the family. Perhaps Mary and Thomas kept in touch with friends and connections writing at the escritoire in the "Best Room".
Sadly this idyllic existence ended with the death of both parents within a year, when Tommy was six. The three orphan children were then brought up under the care of three long suffering guardians, named in their father’s will. The children stayed together at first, but after a year or two being looked after by the Taylors in Long Buckby, Tommy went as a boarder to Guilsborough School.
However, things did not work out well and by 1743 a guardian was writing: “and as to T Adams, am of ye opinion ‘tis time should learne writing and accounts and if he cannot be sufficiently taught att Guilsborough think ye master ...at Preston may be a proper one for him and ye sooner he is sent thither ye better." He was moved to a new master, Mr Jones at Preston Capes, but his interest in education did not improve. He was a constant worry to his guardians, one writing of him: "if he proceeds in this manner he will be fitt for no manner of business and must be ruin’d." We heard of various traumas through his teenage years, and how by 1745 he had run away from his apprentice master in Daventry lest he be forced into the Pretender’s army in 1745 — "a likely story,” as one guardian commented.
Despite his guardians’ concerns, he finally joined the British army in 1747, and experienced his first battle at Maastricht, a disaster for the English and their allies, but a victory for France. Tommy “escaped with only ye loss of his hatt, ‘tho he was in ye hottest of ye battle and very much exposed." We then followed adult Tommy as he blossomed in his army career, with occasional periods of leave back in England, including one in 1750, when he finally sold his Northamptonshire estates and visited Whilton again to follow the coffin of his younger brother, who was brought back for burial here.
Tomrny’s career culminated in his victories in India, where he replaced Robert Clive while he was back in England. As one military historian wrote: "Had Napoleon fulfilled his dreams and added such a campaign to his exploits in Europe, the whole world would still ring with it; yet the conquest of Meerccossim by a simple Major of Foot is forgotten. Nevertheless, be it remembered or forgotten, one of the great names in English military history is that of Thomas Adams of the 84th Foot."
Tommy was posthumously awarded the rank of Brigadier General, but had died in Calcutta from illness after a battle in 1764.
There is no memorial to Brigadier General Thomas Adams in Whilton, but the Local History Society reacted with interest and pride to hear his story.
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MONUMENTS AND MEMORIES IN WHILTON CHURCH
The society met in St Andrew’s Church on Thursday 21st May, which was Ascension Day. In medieval Whilton this was the culmination of Cross Week, when there would be processions around the parish and fields, and litanies would be sung, praying for good crops and that the parish should be free of the pestilence. As the procession went along people would carry banners, probably embroidered with symbols or pictures of saints. These were known as cross cloths, and were sometimes left to the church in parishioners’ wills. They may have been hung near the crosses inside the church for the rest of the year. We have a record that Thomas Tobye left 6 shillings in 1547 to buy a cross cloth for the best cross in Whilton. Cross Week therefore meant a holiday in Whilton, and with that went other celebrations, including the "parish drinking.” The same Thomas Tobye left six hives of bees and their increase to be used "to make a parish drynkyng in the crose weke after ye procession."
We began by walking round the churchyard noting a few of the graves. It was not until the mid 1600’s that gravestones were generally introduced. Among our earliest are those in memory of Ann Dixon, who died aged 26 in 1668, and of her brother, William, who died in 1671.
The first Emery gravestone dates from 1681 and they have a number of other memorials and chest or table tombs over a vault where several members of the family were buried. There is also an Elliott chest tomb. Richard Elliott was a boatman, who brought his baby son for baptism in 1811. He settled at the Locks, where he was variously described as a shopkeeper or grocer, innkeeper at The Spotted Cow, a farmer and a coal merchant. In fact he probably combined these activities for most of his life, serving the boat people. He died aged 68 in 1852.
By far the majority of memorials are to adults who reached a good old age in Whilton, many in their 80’s, suggesting this was a healthy place to live. There are, however, a few to young children and babies, including a stone in memory of Frederick Main Walker, the little son of WhiIton’s second schoolmaster. He died in 1841 aged two and a half. George Watson was another child, aged 7 years 8 months. He died in 1825, after being accidentally drowned at Brownsover.
Inside the Church we noted particularly the memorials to the Freeman and Rose families. Richard Freeman was lord of Whilton Manor and died in 1749. The memorials in the Church tower include Richard, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Jane. Richard and Elizabeth were parents of the eccentric Langton Freeman, whose body was sealed up in the summerhouse of the Manor House in 1784. There is no memorial to him.
At the west end of the Church are several monuments to members of the Rose family. Whilton benefited tremendously from the generosity, taste and genuine social concern shown by this family, especially by Rev William Lucas Rose and his wife, Ann. The memorials reflect this. This Rector died in the bitter January of 1814 when snowdrifts over 24 feet were recorded in Dunchurch.
His memorial is effusive, but records suggest that it genuinely reflects the feelings of his family and parishioners:
"Patron and Rector of this Church and for many years an active and upright Magistrate for the County. Constant in the practice of every Virtue that can adorn the Character of Master; Husband and Father; he directed his chiefest care to the more important concerns of the Pastoral Office, conducting them for thirty-seven years with a fidelity, diligence, and zeal, which afforded to all who knew him abundant testimony that the service of his God, and the Spiritual improvement of his Flock, constituted the first Business and Pleasure of his Life.”
Set into the floor tiles in the chancel are two slabs in memory of John Spateman and his wife. Rev John Spateman was Rector and died in 1749 the same year as the lord of the manor, Richard Freeman. John was Whilton’s poet Rector, writing long works in blank verse, entitled "Jesus” and “War.” He attempted to get another 10,000 word poem printed, entitled "Tobias.” This was going to be in twelve volumes, but there is no record that he managed to get enough subscribers.
We also noted that there are other unmarked burials beneath the Church itself. These include several Tudor villagers, among them Francis Hodge, a farmer, who requested to be buried in the church porch of Whilton in 1597. Our current porch and entrance date from a later period, and so his remains may lie under or near the old tower door. It does mean that he expected parishioners would walk over his bones for centuries to come. Francis also showed concern for the community, leaving six shillings and eight pence to the church and four pence to every poor householder in this town of Whilton.
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FETES AND FESTIVALS
Our March meeting was based on fetes and festivals of Whilton in the last century.
Our ancestors were governed by two main factors for their festivals. These were the Christian calendar and the agricultural year. The calendar of saints’ days and religious festivals was once much better known than today, and had a significance for daily life.
Each parish church was dedicated to a saint or saints, and on that saint’s day, there would be the patronal festival. For Whilton this was St Andrew, and his day is 30th November.
Rents, annuities and debts were often paid on the quarter days, and servants were sometimes hired from one to another.
These were four days, coinciding with religious festivals, each three months from the next. The days were:
· 25 March, Lady Day, once the first day of the year.
· 24 June, Midsummer, the Feast of John the Baptist
· 29 September, Michaelmas, the Feast of St Michael and All Angels
· 25 December: Christmas Day, Feast of the Nativity
By the twentieth century the significance of many of these festivals had faded, and one or two had been revived perhaps from pagan days. The roots of May Day are definitely based on some sort of fertility ritual. There was a revival of May Day in the early twentieth century, and Whilton is no exception in this. The traditions of Rogation and “beating the bounds” may both have mixed origins in Christian and pagan traditions. In Whilton the Rogation tradition has been continued to modern times, and has been extended to such events as pet blessing services, which are really a development of praying for blessings on crops and livestock at Rogation time.
For the farmers, harvest was important and Harvest Festival is still celebrated. The importance of Christmas, of course, has been noticeably over emphasized during the later twentieth century
At the Local History Society in March we used written memories and old photos to recall some of the special events of the twentieth century. Here is a small selection:
May was a good time for days off. In the 1930s the May Queen was crowned on the Green. The Maypole was sometimes in the playground, sometimes on the Green. They sang May songs around the village, and then walked to Norton or went on a wagon, for May Day at Emery’s. Even the children had cake and home made wine at Norton Lodge. Stan Haynes remembered shivering in a white blouse, while Ozzie, Mrs Osborne the teacher, wore her winter coat with fur lined collar. He remembered the year when Annie Bingley looked regal as queen and he and Hilda Clements danced a minuet.
Mrs Osborne’s logbook: 1931 1 May “School closed today for May Day celebrations. After crowning the Queen (Phyllis Essen) posing for photographer, we visited neighbouring farms and were refreshed at Norton Lodge with wine and cake. Mr and Mrs W Emery gave the children a splendid tea – followed by Sports with prizes for all.”
There was a fancy dress parade for the coronation of Elizabeth II.
There were good written memories, but sadly no photos, of the Christmas parties for children at Whilton Lodge, where the host was Colonel Shaw, with his moustache, monocle and red countenance and his filmstar like wife. For most village children presents were sparse at home. Don Welch remembered having an orange, nuts, a book and a drawing book from his parents. Stan Haynes remembered the excitement of having pork pie for Christmas breakfast.
We heard how Empire Day activities on 24th May 1937 suffered from bad weather: “Part of the afternoon was to be devoted to Games in the field, where we are allowed to play through the kindness of one of the Managers, Mr Emery, but owing to the dampness of the grass they had to take place in the playground.” At the 1953 coronation , “the children were presented with the County Souvenir, Richard Dimbleby’s book, “Elizabeth our Queen”, and each child was given a ½ lb Coronation box of chocolates by the Head Mistress.” There are still clear memories of this.
We also heard Tony Allen’s memories of bidding for apples with Marcus Swinford at a harvest auction in the 1960s, only to find they were cookers!
We relished Stan Haynes’ account of Christmas Eve here in the 1930s: “In the church new candles were in place, the stove was going well, and the polished copper lamps shone on the holly which decorated the lectern and pulpit… The boy in the corner pumped the organ, Parson Brown announced the hymn, Betty Pride played the opening chord, and the church rang to the sound of “O come all ye faithful.”
Our evening finished with a photo of Whilton bell ringers ringing in the Millennium on 1st January 2000.
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A TYPICAL MEDIEVAL WINTER MEAL
On Thursday 15th January Whilton Local History Society met for a medieval winter meal.
Over 30 people sat down by candlelight and tucked into a meal based on food either available or produced in Whilton in about 1388.
1388 was a significant year, because John Holt, a lawyer and the lord of the manor of Whilton, a supporter of Richard II, had been declared a traitor by the Merciless Parliament of that year. The king was too weak to prevent him from being exiled to Ireland. Because all the property of any traitor became forfeit to the Crown, the "civil servants" of the day needed to know what John Holt
was worth. As a result we have details of the crops and livestock in the lord’s demesne that year from the ricks of rye and peas and the malt in the granary to the sow with her 12 piglets worth two shillings.
John Holt ‘s land is described as three gardens for depasturing, (this probably means enclosed fields for grazing), 200 acres of arable adjoining the manor, "divers pieces of meadow and pasture", a dovecote, a water mill, rents, perquisites of courts and 13 boon-works for mowing hay. There were fish ponds too, but it appears no one was very keen on fish, despite the medieval rules for avoiding meat on Fridays and other occasions. The fish in the ponds were sold for two shillings.
The first course was leek and rabbit soup, providing a flavour of the medieval winter cooking pot, which hung over the fire. Every cottager had his own piece of garden, which was cultivated to produce essentials for the family. Onions were grown throughout the country, as were leeks.
The rabbits may have been poached, or may have just been culled to protect the crops. The lord of Whilton Manor, William de Whilton, had obtained the grant of free warren in 1258, and so officially all the rabbits belonged to his successors. However it seems unlikely that they all stayed inside the warren!
This was followed by a small taste of terrine of pike, one of the fish which may have been stocked in the lord of the manor’s fishponds.
The main course consisted of smoked bacon, pigeon breast, pease pudding, parsnips and rye bread with mustard sauce. Records show that peas were grown in quantity in Whilton and put into ricks. They provided protein and a filling ingredient in the days before potatoes. The pudding was cooked very long and slowly, and took in the flavours of other items in the pot, in this case the bacon. Parsnips were probably grown in the gardens here and perhaps a few pigeons escaped from the lord’s dovecote!
Lastly oatcakes were served with a choice of honeyed apples or cheese, all good winter fare in medieval Whilton.
The onion and mustard sauce
Some people liked the sauce and asked for the recipe to be published, as follows:
A knob of butter (about 1½ oz)
1 rounded tablespoon flour
Heaped teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
About ⅔ pint of milk and stock (or liquid from your cooking pot)
Heaped teaspoon French whole grain mustard from Waitrose
Melt the butter and very gently cook the chopped onion, without letting it turn brown (about 15-20 minutes).
Stir in the flour and mustard powder over a gentle heat.
Gradually add the stock and milk, until you reach the consistency you wish, stirring all the time over a low heat.
Allow to barely simmer for about 5 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in the French mustard.
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John Murcott was a gentleman of Warwick Square, London, who died in 1833 leaving £100 to the Rector and Churchwardens of Whilton. The interest was to be used for "the benefit of the Poor of the said Parish in purchasing clothing and night covering, except a few shillings to be given to each poor person to commemorate the name of the donor."
John Murcott was born in Whilton in about 1772, and was possibly the brother of the Methodist, Thomas Murcott, of lnglenook. If so, he was one of the eight children of Thomas and Elizabeth Murcott, and may well have had memories of not enough bedclothes to go round, leading to his bequest towards "night covering". It is interesting that he left some money to be given as gifts to the poor to commemorate the name of the donor. This suggests he hoped some people would remember him, and in a way we are commemorating him now.
Over the years the use of his charity changed and it became the coal charity. In providing coal, it continued to fulfil the aim of helping to keep people warm.
Rev Langton Freeman was the fifth son of Richard Freeman and the first son of his second wife, Elizabeth Langton, after whom he was named. He was born in Whilton in 1710, but in contrast to John Murcott, seems to have lived most of his life here.
Langton was destined for the Church and was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford. As Rev Langton Freeman, he became Vicar of Hellidon in 1735. He kept this position until 1760, but this did not stop him also becoming Vicar of Long Buckby in 1738 and then Rector of Bilton. He was never Rector of Whilton, but he did hold property here and in 1749 inherited his position of Lord of the Manor of Whilton.
Langton was a wealthy lifelong bachelor, but gained the reputation of a miserly eccentric. It is even claimed, probably correctly, that he stayed the night with someone and unpicked the threads from his host’s blankets to mend his clothes!
He ended his days in the house known today as the Manor House in 1784. The strange terms of his will were adhered to, and his body was sealed up in the summerhouse in the garden, surrounded with evergreens and a fence, painted dark blue. Perhaps by his death he regretted some of his mean actions, as in his will he bequeathed a recompense to those whom he had robbed in his lifetime! However, in the charity he founded, he showed little sign of generosity, leaving only £20 to the poor of Whilton. This was such a small amount that in later years it was amalgamated with John Murcott’s coal charity.
Mrs Ann Rose was the widow of Rev William Lucas Rose, who had been Rector of Whilton until he died in 1814. During her many years in the Rectory she had helped the poor girls of Whilton with clothing and wanted this to carry on after her death.
In 1823 she set up a trust deed, founding her charity. The trustees were to use the income from the £400 she gave "to purchase once in every year for ever twelve pairs of shoes and twelve pairs of stockings and once in every two years for ever the several articles of clothing hereinafter mentioned, that is to say, twelve bonnets, twelve tippets, twelve pairs of mittens and twelve gowns."
The clothing was for girls who lived in Whilton and who were aged between six and fourteen. This was a charity which had the double benefit of providing apparel for girls and work for dressmakers and shoemakers. During our meeting we dressed Katherine Waterhouse in clothing of the 1820s, as was probably worn by the first charity girls. We now have an idea of how they all looked when they arrived at church on Sunday mornings.
As the years passed, the fashions changed. We heard memories of about 1930, when the girls trooped down to Miss Tomlinson, the dressmaker at the Locks, to be measured for their dresses, and how when all the straw hats arrived at the Rectory, there was no choice of hat: you just had to wear the one that fitted your head! Later on girls were given money and could go to Northampton to purchase a coat, and we saw a photo of Susan Gardner wearing hers in about 1951.
By late Victorian times the coal charity was being distributed at Christmas once every three years, to about 40 households. The trustees "considered this the best course to adopt, the coals being then equally divided between the poor inhabitants of Whilton, whereas if it was distributed every year all the poor persons could not participate in the Charity."
The modern regulations of the Charity Commissioners no longer allow such general distribution, but the Whilton Relief in Need Charities continue with new definitions in the 21st century.
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At our workshop on 21st August, we looked at some of the old field and furlong names (see here for map), and shared memories of some areas of Whilton. As a result we have moved a little further towards plotting more places on our map of Whilton, both before and after the enclosure of 1778.
Some of the field names have lasted through many centuries. Among these are Anglends, earlier known as Hang Lands and, in 1501, as Hanging Furlong, probably meaning "land on a sIope." The fields called Flimbres were once Flintborough Furlong in the open fields. Windmill Close is where the windmill stood from at least 1500, but was in ruins by 1827. The name Mill Leys goes back to at least 1500, near the water mill. There was a dove cote in the Dove House Close, and some people still have a memory of the white house which stood in White House Fields.
Other fields recall the names of those who farmed them. Joe Langs is the field allotted to Joseph Langton in the 1778 enclosure, Butlins to John Butlin, and Dunkleys to John Dunkley. Parson’s Close was allotted as part of the glebeland at the same time. Barkers Meadow was probably so named because William Barker, a maltster and farmer, was renting it from the rector in around 1800.
Some names give clues to old uses, such as Wheatlands and Great Sheep Pen. In the eighteenth century woad was grown in Wadd Close. Edward Tarry, who was born in Chapel Brampton, but farmed here in Victorian times, had fruit in Tarry’s Orchard on the way to Roughmoor Spinney. The Laundry Field was by the laundry which served Whilton Lodge into the twentieth century.
Other field names await further enlightenment. What is the origin of Knavecote, and was a man’s head or skull dug up at Man’s Head Furlong near the Roman Watling Street?
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July 2008THE POOR
In July when there were celebrations of sixty years of the National Health Service, we looked at the poor and how they fared in the past in Whilton. We have records of some with ill health.
One of these was Reuben Kenning, who was born here and who reported that about 1787, when he was old enough to start work, his mother took him to Mr Denny’s of Muscott, “hearing that he wanted a lad to drive plough, to offer him as such, but the weather being bad Mr Denney would not take him at that time, but would send for him, that about the spring of the year the said Mr Denney did send for him and employed him to drive plough and other business which he had for him to do. While he was there he was taken ill with an ague and with his master’s leave he came to his mother at Brington but returned in a very short time to his place again, after then he was ill again with a humour in his eyes when he asked his master’s leave to come again to his mother till he was well.
He returned again to his master in ten days, after that he was ill with a humor in his eyes again and with his master’s leave came to his mother again in Brington, after a short time returned to his master Mr Denney again - that he continued with the said Mrs Denny four years and half that his said master in consideration of his service gave him clothes and sometimes money but he does not recollect how much.”
On the whole people lived and died in the parish, using folk wisdom and medicine with little recall to doctors. Just occasionally there might be a need for specialist help. During the eighteenth century we have records that four of the poorer inhabitants of Whilton were patients in Northampton Hospital. For such poor people to be taken on the long journey and then to be in-patients, there would have been expenses, either borne by the parish or a private sponsor.
Two of the patients were from the same family, and perhaps shared the same symptoms. In June 1745 Thomas Andrew was admitted suffering from sciatica. He was 57 years old and stayed in hospital for nine months. When he was discharged, his condition was recorded as being relieved. In December 1772, William Andrews, aged 56, was admitted, also with sciatica. Six months later he too was discharged with his symptoms relieved. If this was the William Andrews sometimes described as “labourer” and sometimes as “pauper”, then he survived for a long life, dying in Whilton in 1798.
Mary Jellis of Whilton was admitted at the recommendation of Reverend John Cadman. Mary was only 20 and had been suffering from epilepsy for a month. She was in hospital from April to November 1761 and was discharged cured. Unfortunately there is no record of the treatment given! The last patient recorded from here was Elizabeth Berridge. She was 30 and her illness was not recorded, but she died in the hospital in January 1838.
By this time the poor of Whilton were being sent to the Daventry Workhouse. The parish paid according to how many of its residents were inmates, and thus the admission of a whole family could be significant for Whilton. The early 1880s can illustrate this. Thomas Linnell of Whilton was 82 when he entered the Workhouse in 1880. He was described as “not able bodied” and came to end his life there.
In the next year the Dodd family arrived. Fanny, a laundress, clearly pregnant with “infant Dodd” brought with her Ellen and Charles, identified as “illegitimate children of inmate”. Ellen and Charles had both been born during previous stays in the Workhouse. “Infant Dodd” died after 7 ½ weeks, but the family remained inmates for a year or two, with one period away. In fact “infant Dodd” had a name. He was buried in Whilton as George Arthur. The Dodd family had old Whilton connections. Fanny was probably brought up by her grandparents, Thomas and Hannah Andrews of Whilton. Thomas Andrews was very likely descended from the Thomas and William Andrews who suffered from sciatica in the 1700s.Back to list