The Story of Heyford: Rev Henry Isham Longden and Mr Fred Potter V3C10

Henry Isham Longden was born at Lamport Rectory on 26th September 1859. Following the death of Thomas Crawley in 1897 he became Rector of Heyford where he remained until his own death in 1942. He was a popular man in Heyford and in 1943, one year after his death, a book about his life entitled ‘A Northamptonshire Rector — The life of Henry Isham Longden’ was published by Joan Wake. The following is an extract from this book relating to his time at Heyford.

A Northamptonshire Rector – The life of Henry Isham Longden

Except for a brief interval during the war of 1914-1918, Heyford was Mr Longden’s home for the next forty-five years. The population of the parish was about 800. His rectory, though commodious and comfortable within, is externally an unattractive mid-nineteenth century building of local ironstone, overdone with gables and plate glass. The beautiful old church lies only some 100 yards away. His church services were, as to be expected, on the high church pattern. He introduced a choral communion service on the first Sunday of every month, at which he officiated investments, then rarely seen in a country church in the Peterborough diocese. He did not, however, indulge in extreme practices of a ritualistic type. The biretta which he had worn as a curate was discarded for a mortar-board on Sunday mornings. Though ready to suffer and possibly to fight for his opinions as other clergy had done, there was no occasion for it – his bishops left him in peace.

In the musical part of the services he was faithfully and ably assisted by Fred Potter, a man of musical ancestry and himself of no inconsiderable musical gifts. Fred had learnt to play the organ at the age of eleven, and officiated voluntarily as a boy at Shangton Church. At Heyford he became honorary organist and choirmaster, and so remained for forty-five years until his master’s death.

Mr Longden always attended the weekly choir practice and wrote out the lists of hymns and chants himself. Until the later years he taught in the Sunday School. On the friendliest terms with his parishioners, he took an interest in the social as the religious activities of the parish. One of his first acts was to collect funds for a church room which after six or seven years he succeeded in building. He founded a village cricket club, and for years was a member of the eleven. The village lads were very fond of him and he corresponded with many of them during the war of 1914-18. He had one or two pupils at the Rectory during the early years, including the Crawley boys from Stowe-nine-churches Rectory.

From the beginning Mr Longden always farmed his own glebe, though the management was left largely in the capable hands of Mr Potter, whose whole heart was in the work. A great reputation was made with the Heyford strain of Berkshire pigs, as also with the hunters, bred and trained on the place, for which purpose a short ‘steeple-chase’ course was laid out. The Hunters’ Improvement Society’s Show at Islington in March, at which many prizes were won, was an important annual event, which was much enjoyed by both master and man.

The Rectory garden, too, except in Winter time, was always ablaze with masses of flowers. The greenhouse also was full of carnations, begonias, cyclamen, and other flowering plants, all under the care and supervision of Mr Potter. He had from the first days at Shangton always lived under his master’s roof, but when in 1901 he married Miss Bertha Nightingale of Pattishall, he moved to a cottage in the village. This arrangement did not last long, and in 1902, to everybody’s satisfaction, they were allotted pleasant rooms at the Rectory. The bacon-curing, butter-churning, and domestic work of the house were carried out by this devoted couple. The affection and respect which they had for Mr Longden was heartily reciprocated, and the party at the Rectory was essentially a happy and contented one.

Rev Henry Isham Longden with Fred Potter

All the Longden children had been taught to ride at Lamport Rectory, but though he kept a horse at Shangton and was always fond of riding, as a young man Mr Longden did not shew any sporting proclivities. After a few years at Heyford, though not actually ill, his health was not up to the mark and Potter suggested that an occasional day with the hounds might do him good. He had bought his brother Arthur’s mare when the latter went out to the South African war in 1899, so now had a suitable mount. Mr Longden agreed, his health improved, and he soon developed a great love of the chase, though he was rather ‘a parson who hunted’ than one of the old-fashioned type of hunting parson like his great-grandfather the Rev. Vere Isham.

Heyford lies just inside the Pychley country, on the borders of the Grafton, but though he would take an occasional day with the former pack, Mr Longden always considered himself a Grafton man. The masters liked to see the sport patronised by the cloth, and Mr Longden’s ‘cheery courtesy and inveterate love of little jokes,’ as Mr Cruft writes, ‘made him ever welcome, even to the most anti-clerical followers of the hounds.’ Well-mounted and well turned-out in top hat, black coat and white cord breeches, he arrived at the meets accompanied by Potter, who besides enjoying the sport quite as much as his master, was thus able to school – and sell – the young hunters bred at Heyford Rectory. Then General Livingstone-Learmouth came to live at the parish, and for eight years after the war Mr Longden hunted regularly two days a week from the middle of November right through the season. (He never cub-hunted). The General used to drive him to the meets, Potter going on with his horse. One day with the Pychley – the meet was at Cottesbrooke – hounds had a great run from Maidwell gardens by Kelmarsh, Arthingworth, Braybrooke, nearly to Brampton Ash, and finally killed not far short of Market Harborough. The General was galloping along beside his Rector. “Padre, I can’t go on any more,” he called. “no man ever stopped in the middle of a run in the Pychley country!” shouted back the parson. Both sportsmen were in at the death, and rode home together the many weary miles to Heyford, gruelling their horses at the Ismays at Hazelbeach on the way.

Then one sad day in the March on 1928, when hounds were running near Preston Capes, someone inadvertently slammed a gate in front of Mr Longden. He tried to pull up but there was not time. His horse swerved and jumped the gate-post, throwing him onto his head on the hard road. Only his top hat saved him from breaking his neck. Potter was with him in a moment and took him home. This was the end of the hunting. The old horse was turned out to grass and Mr Longden was no more to be seen with the hounds. He was then in his seventieth year.

Fred Potter

The relationship between Mr Longden and Fred Potter was obviously a very close one. Joan Wake’s book includes an appendix headed ‘Faithful Service’ which includes the following words written by Canon F. S. Keysell, Vicar of East Haddon, and formerly Vicar of Weedon.

“No record of the late Rev H. Isham Longden at Heyford could be complete without a reference to his trusty servant and faithful friend for 50 years, Mr Fred Potter. In his early days at Heyford Mr Longden used to drive a horse and trap, but with the coming of motor cars and the increase of road traffic and consequent inconvenience, Mr Longden, like many others, though he never went in for a motor car, decided to give up driving and took to a bicycle. It was then, and not till then, that Mr Longden, acting on the advice of Potter decided to take to hunting, for though he had always been fond of a horse, he had never previously appeared in the hunting field.

Potter, who had always been a good judge of a horse, was soon able to fix the Rector up with the right sort of mount, and not feeling it advisable for him to go alone, decided that it would be in the best interests of all concerned that he should accompany his master in the capacity of second horseman. Henceforth for many years the Rector and his groom were generally to be found at meets of the Grafton hounds on Mondays and alternate Fridays, with an occasional meet of the Pychley on Saturdays thrown in. Though Potter made it his first business to see that his master was in the same field with the hounds not only at the meet, but also when they were running, and though he always seemed to be in the right spot when a lead was required over a difficult jump, yet at the same time Potter was generally to be found here, there, and everywhere. Did any rider take a toss and let go his horse? Potter was always there to catch the animal, and if need be to render first aid to its owner. Did anyone at the tail end of a hunt forget to shut a gate? Potter was always there to do the needful in time to prevent any cattle from straying. Did anyone lose their bearings and not know how to find their way home or the place where they had left their car? Potter was always there to tell them, and if necessary to point them by the shortest cut.

Potter soon came to be recognised as an authority on horseflesh, and it became widely known that in the stables at Heyford Rectory there was sometimes to be found a useful, well-trained type of hunter for sale. Would-be purchasers, however, were warned that it was no good going to Heyford with that object in view on a Sunday morning (which alas! had become the fashionable day for such transactions), because at that time the Rector would be standing in the pulpit and Potter would be sitting at the organ, where for many years he acted as voluntary organist and trainer of the choir.

A nasty hunting accident some fifteen years ago when he was then about seventy years of age ended Isham Longden’s hunting career, and Ruby, the much loved horse which had carried him so well for many years, was turned out in the Rectory field where he was allowed to end his days in peace.

Fred Potter, on the right

Photo lent by Charlie Masters

Potter, however did not allow himself to be downcast because he had no more days to look forward to in the hunting field, but turned his attention to gardening (with the exception of an occasional day’s shooting) and soon the Rectory garden became as well worth a visit as had been the stables in earlier days. On one occasion he was showing the beauties of the garden to the writer of this article. Potter remarked to him “There can be no such thing as a groom-gardener, you must be one or the other – you must concentrate!”

The passing of Isham Longden in the early summer of 1942 meant the breaking up of the home in which Fred Potter and wife had for over 40 years devoted themselves heart and soul to all that concerned the well-being of their master and friend, but it has not meant the breaking up of Potter.

The latest report about him is that he is now farming at Heyford on his own account, for though he is old in years he is still young in mind and body. His many friends will wish him every success and if, when the war is over and the country has settled down, ‘Grafton Mondays’ come into their own again, all followers of the hounds will know that there is one farm in that county at all events on which they can be sure of a hearty welcome, and on which the gates and fences will be in good order, and there will be no barbed wire to obstruct. Potter has, and always has had, that mark of the true sportsman that he likes to share his pleasures with others and to enable them to enjoy to the full the things which he has enjoyed so much himself.”

The words of Canon F. S. Keysell, former vicar of Weedon

The memories of Bill Nickolls

A number of local people still remember Mr Longden and Fred Potter, and talk about them with affection. Mr Longden was a kind man who could relate to people of all ages and backgrounds. If you were unwell in hospital he would visit you, ‘even if you attended chapel rather than church!’ The church in those days (19205 and 30$) was well attended. It was normal to go three times a day – morning service at 9.00am, bible classes in the afternoon and evening service at 6.00pm.

Bill Nickolls particularly remembers the choir. It was a full choir, singing all parts. Some of the attendees were Harry Eales, Fred Goodman, Mr Pearson, Charlie Foster, Nell Nickolls, Freda Tebbit, Doll Collins, Ethel Barnes, Bill Nickolls, ]o Nickolls, and ]ack Nickolls. Choir practice on Friday evenings Was run by Fred Potter who was a skilled and knowledgeable musician. He also made it fun. He used to send out to the shop for some sweets and they sometimes played games.

The will of the Rev. Henry Isham Longden

Henry Isham Longden suffered a stroke and finally died in the arms of his friend and servant Fred Potter on Sunday April 26th 1942 at the age of 82 years. The following details from his will are reprinted here from a newspaper cutting (date and source unknown).

‘The Rev. Henry Isham Longden of Heyford Rectory,.who died on April 26 last, left £11,168 9s 1d gross with net personalty £9,725 8s 7d. He left certain furniture and his horses and crops etc. to his faithful friend and servant Frederick W. Potter, and £1,500 upon trust for him for life, and then upon trust for his wife for her life. £300 upon trust to pay the stipend of the organist of Heyford Church. £100 to the rector and churchwardens to provide an additional bell for the church, and £50 to complete the church room.’

Fred Potter

Fred Potter moved to a house in Church Lane and kept a small dairy herd in the field opposite (now known as Rice’s paddock and partly built on). He continued to farm and to produce milk for the villagers. He died at Nether Heyford on November 10th 1964, aged 87 years and was cremated at Milton.

~~

Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 3 of 4 | Chapter 10 of 17 | Page 20 to 24

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

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The Story of Heyford: Heyford Manor and the Manor House V2C5

In DESIRABLE FREEHOLD ESTATE
Consisting of The
MANOR or REPUTED MANOR
of
HEYFORD
Stone—Built Mansion or Manor House
with
Suitable Offices, Stabling, Gardens etc.
And
Sundry Eligible Farms with their Suitable Buildings
And
528A. 2R. 28P. of uncommon rich Arable, Meadow
Pasture and Wood Land
Let to Tenants on Leases which will expire at Lady Day next, at very low Old Rents (the Wood Lands in Hand included) of
FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY~NINE POUNDS

These are how the Particulars and Conditions of Sale read on Thursday, February 2nd, 1792 at the Auction held by Mr Christie at his Great Room in Pall Mall. At that time a Fee Farm Rent, payable to the King was 3s. 4d, Land Tax for the whole of the Estate was £54.16s.0d and various Tithes to be paid meant total outgoings of ,£112.6s.9d. Part of the outgoings included an Annual Payment of £20 to the Hospital at Northampton, “out of which £4 is allowed in Land Tax”. The actual Manor House was much smaller than it is now — the East and West Wings came at the turn of the Century and the small ‘Garden House’ at the back, although keeping the original frontage and downstairs room complete with large stone fireplace, was added to as late as 1982.

The early estate

The original Manor House was at Upper Heyford and the remains of its foundations can still be seen. This was the Manor House of the Mauntells and Morgans, Prestons and Herbert Marquis of Powis and is supposed to have stood in the field called the Upper Park. John Mauntell of Heyford, descended from Michael Mauntell of ‘Rode’ married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Lumley (also reputed to be of Heyford) and ‘levied fine of Heyford Manor’ in the reign of Henry VI (around 1446) and so founded a dynasty of Mauntells at Heyford.

Prior to the Mauntells the Tudenhams ruled the roost at Heyford (also ‘big’ in Suffolk; as you approach Bury St Edmunds you can see the village of Tudenham signposted) and presumably occupied the old Manor House, but we are going back to 1333 here and records are a little vague as to Lords of the Manor, but they were certainly large land owners and owned “the manor of Heyford with pertinences, lands and tenements in Bugbrook, Flore and Farthingstone, Grimscote, (Cold) Higham and Carsecoell (Carswell in Greens Norton?), lands and tenements in Cold Ashby and West Haddon”.

The Mauntells

What we do know, however, is that the ‘younger generation’ of Mauntells let the family name down as John and Elizabeth Mauntell had a son, Walter, later knighted, (buried in Heyford with his wife also called Elizabeth) and his son and heir, ]ohn Mauntell, well and truly blotted the family name. In 1541 John “sallying forth in company with his brother-in-law, Lord Dacre, and others, on a nocturnal frolic to chase the deer in Sir Nicholas Pelham’s park in Sussex, encountered three men, one of whom being mortally wounded in the affray; he and his associates were convicted of murder, executed, and their estates escheated to the crown.”

And to make matters even worse and to complete the irretrievable ruin of the house, his only son Walter Mauntell engaged in the Kentish insurrection to oppose the marriage of Queen Mary, headed by Sir Thomas Wyatt, and was taken prisoner with him, sent to the Tower and subsequently executed in Kent, 27th February 1553 and ‘attainted’ (i.e. he lost his estate to the crown).

However, due to a bit of forward planning the Manor was saved from the general wreck of the family fortune as John Mauntell had made a settlement of the Manor to his wife Anne (leafing through old cuttings I came across an article on the Manor written in the Herald September 1908 which said it was his mother, sister of Lord Dacre, who was the recipient of the settlement, but I am sure the Press were apt to make errors even then as old family trees show his wife Anne to have inherited) who with her second husband Richard Johnson and Francis Morgan ‘serjeant—at-law’ (who was lessee for the years 1555-56), “levied a fine of the three manors of Heyford, Over Heyford and Nether Heyford and the advowson, or rather two thirds of the advowson, of Nether Heyford, to the use of Sir Richard Sackville and his heirs.”

The Morgans and Prestons

This meant that Sackville took over the Mauntell estates in Heyford but Francis Morgan soon after obtained the ‘fee simple’ and after Francis Morgan died in 1558 ( he and his wife Anne are buried at Heyford) the estates descended to his son Thomas. However in the archives it is written that Matthew Mauntell ‘of Horton and of Collingtree’ son of the executed Walter, ‘was restored to his father’s estate in the 15th reign of Elizabeth’. This would make it 1573. So it is unclear whether there was another (short) ‘reign’ of Mauntells in between the Morgans.

In any event Thomas Morgan’s daughter and heiress married Sir John Preston of Furness in Lancashire and he was succeeded in his title and estates by his brother Sir Thomas Preston who in May 1685 settled the manors of Heyford, Nether Heyford and a whole lot more on Mary his eldest daughter and co-heiress in marriage with William Lord Herbert, son and heir of William Earl of Powis.

Now, the Earl was zealously attached to James II who selected him to accompany the Queen to France and on abandoning the throne in 1688 James joined them both there. In return the King gave him the titles of Duke of Powis and Marquis of Montgomery. But the Duke was outlawed for remaining abroad in the service of the deposed monarch and died at the court of St Germain’s in 1696.

After a lapse of 30 years, a ‘mandamus’ (judicial writ issued from the King’s Bench Division) was granted and it was accordingly reversed by the court of the King’s Bench in April 1722; by which reversal his only son, William Lord Herbert (as above) then Viscount Montgomery, was restored to the Marquisate and all the other honours to which his father was entitled prior to James II leaving his throne.

The Dukedom and second Marquisate were never legally recognised in England, though generally adopted by courtesy. William the 3rd Marquis or Duke of Powis, only surviving son of the preceding, died unmarried in 1747 and the titles became extinct; but by his will, dated 28 April of that year he left his extensive family possessions (by-passing his several sisters) in trust for Henry Arthur Herbert, then Lord Herbert of Chirbury, who was afterwards created Earl of Powis and in 1751 married Barbara, the posthumous daughter and heiress of his brother Edward.

Decay

Now, if you can keep up with any of this, comes the crunch. The Trustees under the Marquis’s will were empowered to sell all or any part of the Northamptonshire estates towards the liquidation of his debts, and towards raising a fund for working his lead mines and in November 1758 with the approbation of the Earl of Powis and under the authority of an act of Parliament, confirming the authority of the Trustees, the whole, comprising the manors of Heyford and surrounding manors with about 3000 acres of land were disposed of in lots by public auction and produced the princely sum of £65,424.

By this time Sir Thomas Preston may have demolished the actual Manor House, or it may have fallen into general decay during the Commonwealth period (the 1650s). Here again the Herald (and this is substantiated) states that early in the Civil war the Manor House was uninhabited. It was still unoccupied in 1652 as we learn from an entry in the Parish Registers (“lying open into vagrants”).

But in any event the estate itself remained intact and Miss Nelson writes “in 1758 the estate was sold by auction in London, the business taking three days. The names of some of the tenants of farms at that time were Ed Middleton, Richard Gardner, Sam Newbold, Thomas Payne and Richard Claridge. Also Will Simons, who farmed Pond Close, or Pastel Pan and Pastle Pightle. Other field names mentioned in the catalogue are The Spung, Stocking Meadows, Worsten Pond Field, Talland, Adal, Bell Pool Leys, Flash Close and Blakes Hitch.”

Thus the old Manor met its demise and its vast estates were split up.

A new house is built

But a new era had already begun with the building of the new Manor House where it still stands, in Nether Heyford. It is believed to have been built about 1740 by William the 3rd Marquis of Powis (as above) using the stone from the original Manor. (The earliest date found on the old walls of the existing Manor is 1794 but the stone is worn and could read ‘1714’). Some researchers have stated the Manor and 30 acres was then bought by Rev Henry Jephcot in 1759 (who in 1789 became Rector of Heyford) but according to Joan Wake in her book ‘The Life of Henry Isham Longden’ published in 1942 she states “Heyford, like Stowe IV (now Stowe IX) Churches was a Crawley living, a member of that family having bought the two advowsons and the Manor House at Heyford in 1764.”

Churchmen take up occupancy

However according to the auction details of 1792 they clearly state that the Manor was let to the Rev Mr Henry Jephcott “at Will, at a low old rent of £63.0s. 0d” so he would have been a tenant at that time. In 1800 we know that he died and the property passed to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband the Reverend R B Hughes, Rector of Kislingbury. And they must have owned the property as in 1802 they sold the house and land to Reverend John Lloyd Crawley who in 1800 had succeeded Henry Jephcott as Rector of Heyford. John Crawley remained at Heyford as both Rector and Lord of the Manor until his death in 1850 and was succeeded as Rector by his son, Thomas, but he moved into the newly built rectory in 1851.

So, interestingly enough, for the sixty years between 1789 and 1850 there were two successive rectors who were also Lords of the Manor and it was to the Manor House that ‘privileged young people’ went for Sunday School.

When John Lloyd died in 1850 his widow Anne Crawley (at that time 65) remained in the Manor House with her sons Alfred and Charles and three domestic servants (Footman, Ladies Maid and Housemaid) until 1871 when we know from details of a Census that John Smith, Curate of Norton, his wife and their five children and four domestic servants (Cook, Housemaid, Scullery Maid and Groom) took over for the next ten years and by 1881 Charles Carden, aged 61, a retired army captain lived there with his wife, six children and four servants (Housemaid, Ladies Maid, Cook and Groom), a Governess coming from as far afield as Liverpool and a Head Gardener, Richard Houghton, who hailed from Milton.

Then in 1891 Joseph Faulkner, a shoemaker aged 60 with his wife, four children, son-in-law and grand-daughter – who presumably helped out with all the chores as there were no domestic servants recorded – took over the Manor until the turn of the century when the ]eyes family arrived.

The Manor House in 1825

12_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

From a print lent by Tony Landon

The early 1900s – military men and merchants

Mr Jeyes was the brother of Philadelphus ]eyes who owned a chemist shop in the Drapery in Northampton. He was a ‘country gent’, sported a coach house and kept three or four hunters in the stables to the west of the Manor (now houses and garages). It was probably while the Jeyes family were in situ that a visit to Nether Heyford Church was arranged in 1906 by a local Architectural and Archaeological Society for the Archdeaconries of Northampton and Oakham as the Rector, the Rev H Isham Longden, was ‘a true archaeologist’ and a visit to the Manor House had been planned. But “time and the weather did not permit a visit” and instead they all headed back to the Rectory for tea presided over by ‘Mrs Crawley’.

After the Jeyes family moved out it was said that it was empty for a while, but then came the Muir family and documentation to this effect is available in the form of an Indenture made out in 1914 by John Buchanan Muir’s son Matthew Andrew which left everything to his wife, Jessie Agnes Muir, on the understanding she did not leave him, in which case she would lose the lot… What is interesting about this Indenture is that the Fee Farm Rent was still 3s.4d….

The Conveyance for the sale to the next occupant was dated 5th December 1919 and this was Lieutenant Colonel Livingstone-Learmouth who was based at the Ordnance Depot in Weedon and it is said that he had the house massively extended with new wings at each end. However it is more likely the East Wing was put on quite a bit earlier and the flat-roofed West Wing added during the first World War as wood was difficult to come by although one rumour has it that the occupant, a woman at the time – Mrs Muir? – could not afford a ‘proper’ roof .

The Manor house around the turn of the century

13_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

Gardens, stables and domestic service

But what we do know is that Frank Pearson’s parents came to Heyford in 1919, his father becoming Head Gardener at Heyford Manor until his death in 1948. Frank was born in the Head Gardener’s cottage which was situated backing on to the Churchyard and Frank himself helped his father in tending the Manor gardens. The earliest inhabitant of Heyford Manor Frank can remember was Brietmeyer “a big man who was very fond of hunting, which he enjoyed sometimes three times a week”. Certainly there are still memories in Heyford at the time of writing of the Master riding to Hounds and scattering coins to the children who had gathered in what is now Manor Walk to see this awesome sight.

But the Livingstone-Learmouth era (1920s and 30s) was probably the last of the ‘greats’ in the sense that here was a large Manor, acres of land, servants and a Head Gardener. The gardens, as remembered by Frank Pearson, comprised rose beds, rockeries, kitchen gardens,flower borders and grass walks, asparagus beds and apple stores and the horse and cart track led down to the ‘Coach Bridge’ and thereon down to the mill. Frank himself told of how he was responsible for raking the gravel drive in order to keep it tidy which ran by the existing boundary at the front of the Manor and on down to The Sun. At that time he said the servants used the West Wing and the ‘garden room’ there was the servants’ dining-room.

The whole of the bottom floor of the Manor was I believe devoted to kitchens and the old bread oven can still be seen in the middle part of the Manor – the little ‘Garden House’ at the back was reputed to be the dairy (although as the present occupants pointed out, strange that the dairy should be in the front of the building?) – and ladies from Heyford can remember helping out in these vast kitchens.

There is still an enormous cellar for the fine wines and the scribblings of the Butler above the store bins denoting the type of wine enclosed. The old bells to summon the servants are also still in place and until very recently so was the ‘dumb waiter’. In the East Wing the stairs to the attic where the servants slept are pitted with their constant footsteps and the bannisters uneven where they slid their hands down in their haste to attend to their duties. The attic roof was bare With no insulation but the coal fire must have been lit as there is an enormous chimney breast which goes through their attic rooms in order to give them some warmth. It must have been a hard life for the young girls who Would have been employed around this time.

But by now the First World War had struck, twenty three soldiers from Heyford losing their lives and Lieutenant Colonel Livingstone-Learmouth CMG, DSO, RHA unveiled the War Memorial in 1921 which stands on the green at the junction of four cross roads. The Rev Isham Longden conducted the service and amongst the names on the memorial is Captain T H O Crawley.

Bill Kingston remembers when there were no buildings between the Foresters Arms and Richard Denny’s house and there was a field stretching back to the Manor House in which the occupant at that time, Captain Shield, kept several hunters.

In 1928 another auction took place this time with only 23 acres attached, the land gradually being eroded by new buildings. This may have been bought by ‘the Diamond Merchant’. Unfortunately no other details as to this person emerges except he left strong evidence of his occupancy within the house itself!

For sale by auction – July 19th, 1928

14_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

From a newspaper cutting (source unknown) lent by Tony Landon

The Manor House and gardens as they appeared between the wars

15a_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

The surrounding fields

15b_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

From illustrations made by the late Frank Pearson

The post-war years

During the Second World War soldiers were billeted in the Manor and on the West Wing ground floor there was a telecommunications room for use between Bletchley Park and Weedon, the room still being there and until recently with a complicated wiring system intact.

After the War the Manor House became a school for deaf children and according to Mary Warr (wife of the former Headmaster of Bliss School) in 1970 it was still listed under ‘Schools’ in the telephone directory… However, Raymond Wray, the present Landlord of the Foresters remembers clearly seeing a plaque on the Manor with ‘St Dunstan’s’ inscribed on it so it looks as though it was actually a school for the blind. But of course there may have been two types of school here.

In the latefifties the house was up for sale again – actually I’m guessing here. I have a copy of the details but no date, the only clues being ‘after the building of the M1 and before decimalisation’ – this time at £18,500 With 18° acres, having been subject to ‘considerable expenditure’, the agents being Knight, Frank & Rutley of Hanover Square, London. Here the Agent’s details reveal that the East Wing was entirely self-contained and used for staff only. And guess What? The Fee Farm Rent payable to the Queen is listed at – 3s. 4d. per annum…!

An aerial view of the house in the late 1960s

16_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

An aerial photo from the late 1960s lent by Julie Rands-Allen

By the sixties the Manor was still intact but with even less land as an old aerial photograph shows the beginning of the new chalet bungalows in Manor Walk built on the grounds of the old Chauffeur’s cottage. And we know that at this time it was occupied by the Architect Mr D Harwin as he was responsible for a lot of the new bungalows materialising. Raymond Wray (at that time living in Flore) was, at twenty-seven, the General Foreman for one of Mr Harwin’s building firms and was responsible for the building of this new development and he is almost certain that it would have been Mr Harwin who purchased the Manor for the sum of £18,500.

Separate dwellings

Then in 1975 with the rising tide of up-keep costs, the Manor and all its remaining land was sold to Cooper Construction Ltd of Lichfield for a housing development known now as Manor Park. Fortunately many of the trees were given Preservation Orders (the Manor itself is a Grade II listed building) and a fine old oak and many Scots Pines stand proudly still, including a very old apple tree which would have been in the old orchard near the stables and garage block.

And the Manor House became divided into three dwellings. The frontage which sports a beautiful old sundial and small oval windows became the back and the large grassed circle. the front of the Manor. The land which swept down passed the Horestone Brook and across the Nene was now all taken up with the new development. Its Glory Days were indeed over! Manor ‘Walk became built up with even more new houses but Manor Cottage — the old Gardener’s Cottage – is still there and other cottages dotted around Manor Walk and others backing on to the Churchyard still look much the same as they did when they belonged to the Manor and its estate. And although the drive that swept through Manor Park and through to Middle Street has long gone, one of the pillars which marked the entrance is still there at 15 Manor Park in Bernard Carpenter’s back garden…

Michael N Harbour, a former member of Northampton’s Royal Theatre Company bought the East Wing and was especially delighted when the BBC offered him a leading role in ‘A Last Visitor for Mr Hugh Peter’ as it depicted the story of Cromwell’s chaplain who is spending his last days after being imprisoned by the Royalists. The Battle of Naseby took place about ten miles from the Manor and Michael believes dead bodies could easily have been buried at Nether Heyford as the soldiers returned to London. Another bit of history to add to the already long one of Heyford Manor…And we mustn’t forget a piece of recent ‘history’. In the Great Northampton Floods of Easter 1998 both the East and West Wings were flooded when the River Nene broke its banks — the worst floods for over a hundred years.

Tony Landon bought the main part of the Manor and skillfully finished converting it into a period home for his family, and the Rands-Allens (appropriately hyphenated) bought the East Wing from Michael Harbour where they have lived for the past seventeen years. Gill and Tony Pont and their family live in the West Wing, keeping all of the original features, having been there for fourteen years, and Wayne and Ann Edmonds live in the little studio at the back which Michael Harbour built and lived in for a time before moving to London. Unfortunately there appear to be no sightings of ghosts from any of the occupants.

With all its history, both actual and imagined and with all the changes the years have seen, one thing remains constant. Families have lived in the Heyford Manor House over the centuries, are doing so now and will continue to do so over the Millennium and far beyond.

Julie Rands-Allen (with a little help from some friends!)

Article updated for the years 1947-1956 in Volume 4 Chapter 6:

The Story of Heyford: The Manor House 1947-1956 V4C6

~~

Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 2 of 4 | Chapter 5 of 11 | Pages 9 to 17

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: Cricket on the Village Green V4C5

Like most villages in England Nether Heyford sported the idyllic sight of twenty two people dressed in immaculate whites playing the age-old sport of Cricket on the Village Green.

A team game remarkably like cricket was being played in England as early as 1300 and by the 1700’s it was being played by the landed aristocracy and so became part of our culture. In the early 1890’s County Cricket was established with clubs being admitted only when the MCC judged their standard to be acceptable and the county of Northamptonshire was admitted in 1905.

The period 1890-1914 is regarded as the golden age of cricket with interest in the sport becoming widespread. Today it is not quite so popular with the young and it is not surprising that India and Pakistan have such magnificent teams as children take up cricket there as soon as they can hold a bat and at week-ends you can see teams and teams of players on any given space practising their skills -far more than even our local lads play football.

The tradition of a local cricket team still goes on in Heyford, but not on the Green. For the last few years you could see Julian Rice and his merry men playing on the well-tended sports ground by the Pavilion built ten years ago and situated just as you enter Heyford from the A45. (The Pavilion used to be the football changing rooms which were moved from the village green to the sports field). Still an idyllic sight but not the same perhaps as when cricket was played in the centre of the village.

The early years

The Cricket Club in Heyford was founded by Henry Isham Longden when he came to the village as Rector in 1897. He was, according to Joan Wake in her book ‘The life of Henry Isham Longden’, fond of cricket and apparently he had played for the Northampton Cricket Club in his curate days, so it is not surprising that he was always ready for a village cricket match. Hevford’s Bob Browning (1892-1997) recalls cricket being played on the green in the early 1900s, but these were in the days of friendlies against neighbouring villages.

There must have been a lapse of all activities during the 1914-1918 war with all able-bodied men fighting, but cricket resumed in the 1920’s. At this time the green was more uneven than it is today as it was grazed by cows. There was continual debate about whether a proper pitch could be laid. According to the rules laid down for the management of the green no digging could take place, and much argument went on about laying such a pitch. However agreement was eventually reached and a wicket turf was laid on the centre part of the green by Jack Nickolls and Tommy Kingston.

In the 1920’s the Heyford team consisted of such people as Bert Thompson, Frank Reeve, Bob Foster, Dick Foster and Ron Humphrey. They played friendlies against local villages, Farthingstone and Everdon. Before each match nets were erected along the far side of the green to protect the windows and slates of the houses nearby. And of course they all met afterwards in the clubroom of the Foresters Arms.

In the 1930’s the players included Bill Kingston, Bernard North, Charlie Copson, Jack Butcher, Dennis Clarke and Reg Collins. The main umpire for Heyford was Sonny Thompson and they played against Everdon, Pattishall, Astcote, Bugbrooke, Kislingbury and Harpole. Bill Kingston recalls that before they could play they had to make up the pitch. They had to fill in the holes, patch it, turf it and roll it because the cows had been on it all week! And according to Charlie Copson the pitch was so well prepared that it was used on Friday evenings for tennis matches.

Cricket as it appeared on the Green in the 1940’s and 1950’s

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NetherHeyford_Cricket_2

The team in the 1960’s

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Standing, left to right: Jack Draper, Peter Brodie, John Draper, Michae Ingray, Norman Fonge, Bernard North, Ron Copson, Bert Thornicroft, Ben Spokes

Kneeling, left to right: Dennis Clarke, Jim Blood, Harry Haynes, Charlie King, Reg Collins 

Twenty years without a club

Then the cricket ceased. In the Sunday Telegraph a few weeks before Easter 1999, it was reported “The village Cricket Club has been forced to close after the wives and friends of the players refused to make their teas”. This, I hasten to add, was not what happened to Heyford. By the 1950’s Tommy Rolfe had left the Foresters and houses had been built alongside the green between Middle Street and the Post Office, making it difficult to protect them against damage from the balls. Also there were few young men in the village in the post war years because many were moving to town to take advantage of modern work and housing opportunities.

In the Mercury & Herald November 6th 1969 a little piece about Nether Heyford appeared. “Heyford is developing fast with an attractive diversity of new and stylish housing running in price to the five figure bracket, but in the heart of the village the scene remains much the same as half century ago – thanks to the preservation of one of the most expansive village greens in England. It is a curious fact, however, that Nether Heyford has no cricket club. It used to have one but the young people have cars these days and go where they will for their sport and pleasure”.

The club reformed

However, on the 16th June 1977 a meeting was held with Charles King asking the question “Would it be possible to raise a cricket team in the village?” and no article about cricket in Nether Heyford would be complete without a mention of Dave Jenkinson who, after this initial meeting, was elected Chairman of the newly reformed Cricket Club with Charles King, who lived in Hillside Road, becoming the Secretary.

Charles told the local paper that when they had started up again they played half-a-dozen evening games with limited overs to test out the interest. But with no pitch and little equipment and the green being used all winter for football, it was becoming very difficult to keep interest going. He reported that “we’ve had talks with a local farmer about using one of his fields, but at the moment we’re playing all our matches away from home; we book pitches on places like the Racecourse in Northampton. But the real snag about a square on the green, is that we’d need to spend £160 on safety netting along the roadside”.

Thus a new venue for cricket was being called for. Plans for playing fields were being started and fund-raising events taking place. And an apt headline appeared in the paper: “Cricketers bat on and refuse to be stumped”.

Discos at the Foresters Arms followed and on December 23rd 1977 a Christmas Supper Dance was held, music by the Neal Stanton Band, and tickets at £2.50. At this time the membership fee of the Cricket Club was £1 a head and the match fees 10p per game. More and more local people became involved with the Club and Mrs. Rosemary Haddon was elected Treasurer having the grand sum of £155.4p in the kitty.

In 1978 on the 25th May the Mercury and Herald reported some memories from Mr. Albert Garrett who was clerk to the parish council for 35 years and at that time 79 years old. “We used to play cricket on the green” he said “they’ve just started the club up again. I played until I was 60” and he laughed. “We used to break a lot of windows but this time I think they’re getting something to protect them. Even so, we always had a collection to pay for them, especially for one old chap who had his broken regularly.”

And in 1982 when Dave Tite was secretary, the Club was looking back to 1977, the year that Heyford Cricket Club was reformed and remarking on how well the club was doing since it started without money, equipment or fixtures. In March 1983 Geoff Garrett was voted Captain and Paul Horrocks was persuaded to take on the job of fund raising- a difficult but necessary job in the circumstances. They had a full fixture list and entered for the Watney Mann Cup.

All matches ‘away’

In 1984 still without proper grounds the Cricket Club flourished, meetings were held still at The Foresters Arms with Mine Hosts Alf and Marg Parker and youngsters were being recruited. At the Parish Council Annual Meeting members raised the subject of their need for practice nets in the village, perhaps on the green, and these “would not take up a great deal of room and could be used by the School and would add to the attractions of the village”. If you look at the fixture list for July 1984 you will see that not one of the matches were played at home. And amusingly on the front of the fixture list you will see the following:

REMEMBER:

It is better to have played and lost than never to have played at all.

(Gayton excepted)

At the 7th AGM of the Heyford Cricket Club on Sunday, 31st March 1985, the Chairman reported sadly that there was now no prospect of home fixtures being played within the Parish Boundary but that it was to be hoped that progress on the Heyford Playing Fields project would mean a ray of hope for future seasons.

The following report in September in the Prattler went “Came second to Ryland 0/B’s in the Clenbury / Haine Shield. Lost in the final. Watney Mann Cup got through to the second round by having a bye in the preliminary round – and beating Gayton in the first round. Lost to Buqbrooke in the second round. We have started a Youth Team with the lads doing most of their own organising. They have been going for about six months and have had two fixtures against very good sides. They tied their first game against Wootton Youth and narrowly lost to Rylands Under 15’s. They have a practise net on the Green every Monday evening. The lads show a lot of promise and hopefully next season we call get them into a league through the Cricket Association. “

But it was to be some time before cricketers could enjoy the game on their home turf. An article appeared in February 1987 stating that “The Parish Council, through its Leisure and Amenities Committee, has been looking into the possibility of acquiring enough land to provide a playing field for the use of the inhabitants of both Nether and Upper Heyford. This matter was also discussed at the last Annual Parish Council meeting. A steering group has been formed to consider the matter, and the outcome of their enquiries to date is that Mr. J Spokes of Upton is prepared to sell approximately 10 acres of land, which seems to be ideally suited to a games area. The land forms part of a flat field, which is situated behind the allotments and Mrs. Smith’s field on the Upper Road.”

The team in 1980

NetherHeyford_Cricket_4

This photograph, taken on Jeremy Rice’s front lawn, shows the team as proud winners in 1980 of the Clenberry / Haine Shield.
Standing: Julian Rice, Ray Haddon, Dave Tite, Tony Charville, G Starmer, Graham Drake
Seated: Alex Kirkbride, Geoff Garrett, Geoff Sturgess, Mike Tharby

Home turf at last

In July 1988 the cricket square was making good progress “thanks to the efforts of the Grounds Committee headed by Jeremy Rice.” And in 1989 Geoff Sturgess of Hillside Crescent was very encouraged by the good turnout for the Youth Cricket Under 16’s Team as nets were now available down on the Playing Field.

In the Prattler, May 1989, the following article appeared compiled by Alex Kirkbride:

“The merry click of bat against the ball, the expectant rush, the cheering that proclaims skill of the greatest of all English games; Flutter of the flags, the branches of the trees swaying beneath the summer breeze; No sweeter music in the world is found than that upon an English cricket ground.

R Ratcliffe Ellis; Cricket Music

Yes, the dream is now a reality. Heyford Cricket Club is back at home”.

And now in 1999 Simon Legge has taken over the captaincy from Julian Rice and will lead his team in League Cricket. The village Green has seen the very last of the cricket but thanks to all the efforts of the stalwarts of the village, the cricket heritage will continue.

 

With grateful thanks to Barbara Haynes, Julian Rice and Dave Tite

Julie Rands-Allen

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Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 5 of 8 | Pages 22 to 27

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: Four Hundred Years of Bell Ringing V2C3

Bell—ringing in the parish church of St Peter and St Paul goes back at least four centuries. The two oldest bells are dated 1601 and one of these is inscribed ‘Thomas Morgan gave me to the church frank and free.’  Judge Morgan lived in the Manor House at this time. Both bells were cast by a founder called Watts and one is the heaviest bell in the belfry. It is the tenor, weighing over seven hundred-weight: that’s over 784 lbs. or 356 kilos. Another bell was added in 1638, cast by Watts II, and a fourth in 1704 cast by H. Penn. With these four bells it was possible to ring a maximum of 24 changes or sequences (English Change Ringing is based on mathematical sequences rather than musical composition). This was how it remained for 250 years.

Originally there was an external door in the tower where the bell-ringers could gain access. In 1855 there was extensive restoration work in the church which included opening up the tower inside, moving the organ and sealing off the outside door. The heavy wooden door which was removed became the one now hanging as the front entrance to the Old Sun pub. This would be appropriate as the vestry meetings used to adjourn to the Old Sun. Of course, it is still the tradition today for the bell-ringers to finish off every Friday-night ringing practice with a drink in the local – even if, for some reason, ringing hasn’t actually taken place!

During the 1930s the ringers included Mont Smith (John Smith’s grandfather), Fred Browning, Charlie Foster, Bernard Kingston, Harry Eales and Dick Capell. At this time, ringing only usually took place on holy days such as Christmas or Easter; for church services, the bells were just tolled. During the Second World War, bell—ringing generally was banned and only to be used as an alarm for the community. However by 1943 the threat of invasion was considered over and the ban lifted.

A new era and two new bells

This spelled a new era for the Nether Heyford bells. Fred Browning, as the tower captain, recruited and trained a new generation of ringers, including Ted Garrett and Hilda Collins who are still ringing today. Fred also developed handbell ringing at Christmas time. This new enthusiasm was further encouraged by the addition of two new bells after the Reverend Isham Longden, rector from 1897 to 1942, left £100 in his will for a new bell. Even in the 1940s, this provided only a quarter of the amount needed to cast and hang the bells, so an active fund—raising campaign started in the village.

Coffee mornings, whist drives and sales helped to raise £400 and on 21st September 1946, two treble bells were dedicated in church. They were made in London by Gillett and Johnson and hung on a metal frame above the others who were still on a timber frame.

One was called the Victory Bell and there is a list from 1943 of villagers who donated funds towards it. The list includes the rector “Mr” (sic) Mortimer, Harry Allen the verger, Jack Capell the butcher, William Wakefield Whitton, the Kingston family, the Brownings, the Collins’s and the carpenters shop. Most contributed £1, some as much as £5 and some gave ‘two ‘n’ six.’ Now with six bells, the number of possible changes increased dramatically from 24 to 720.

Repairs

In 1979, the four older bells on their wooden frame needed to be rehung and refitted. They had been taken down before but this was the first time in nearly 400 years that they had left the village. They were taken to Taylors of Loughborough and their transport was provided by Jeremy Rice. An eight mile sponsored walk from the church to Flore and Stowe was organised to help raise funds.

Lowering the bells

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The Tenor bell of 1601 bearing the Morgan family crest

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Removing the bells to Loughborough in 1979

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Left to right: Wilf Denny, Bill Collins, Malcolm Chown

Photos lent by Hilda Collins

In 1995, a quarter peal was rung to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE day. This consisted of 1260 rings non stop and lasted for about an hour. In 1996, the church celebrated the half-century of the treble bells with the Heyford Morris Men, handbell ringers, a lone piper, John Anderson, and a special commemorative service.

Sarah Crontear with thanks to Hilda Collins and Ted Garrett

~~

Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 2 of 4 | Chapter 3 of 11 | Pages 6 & 7

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers