The origin of the manor of SHILLINGTON is to be sought in the land which formerly belonged to Ailwin, an alderman of Edgar, and which was purchased between 1016 and 1034 by Æthelric bishop of Dorchester. (fn. 7) This land, then estimated at 3 carucates, the bishop subsequently bestowed upon the abbot of Ramsey, the gift being confirmed by Edward the Confessor and William I. (fn. 8)
At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor, held by the abbot of Ramsey, was assessed at 10 hides, and worth £12. (fn. 9) The abbot continued to hold this manor as of his barony of Broughton, and received various grants in Shillington during the thirteenth century. Thus Ralph de Tyville, who in 1230 had recovered half a carucate of land there from Hugh Grandim, (fn. 10) in 1265 granted it to the abbey, (fn. 11) and about the same time Peter de Buel made a similar grant in Shillington, (fn. 12) and the Testa de Nevill states that in the thirteenth century the abbot held altogether 27 hides in Shillington, Pegsdon, Barton, and Little Holwell, which were assessed at four knights’ fees. (fn. 13) In 1251 he received a charter of free warren, (fn. 14) and in 1311 claimed view of frankpledge in his manor. (fn. 15) The abbot was in the habit of leasing out the manor, of which the rent (together with Pegsdon) was estimated in 1336 at £113 6s. 8d., (fn. 16) and in 1450 at £86 3s. 11d. (fn. 17) The difference between these rents may be due to the fact that between the two dates mentioned certain lands acquired by the abbey in mortmain without licence had been forfeited to the crown and regranted to Thomas Fauconer. (fn. 18)
Shillington manor remained in the possession of the abbey till its dissolution, at which time its value was assessed at £88 2s. 10d. (fn. 19
The first mention that has been found of a second manor in Shillington, afterwards called SHILLINGTON or ASPLEY BURY, held of the abbot of Ramsey, is in 1476, when Thomas Lawley transferred this so-called manor to Thomas Rotherham archbishop of York, (fn. 31) who left it at his death in 1500 to Thomas Rotherham, son of his brother John. (fn. 32) Thomas Rotherham was succeeded by his son Thomas, who conveyed the manor to a son, a third Thomas and his wife Alice, for their lives. (fn. 33) George, their son, held the manor from 1561 to 1599, (fn. 34) and his son John, having succeeded him, appears to have alienated this manor, as in the case of Luton (q.v.) to Sir Robert Napier, (fn. 35) for in 1651 he was holding a court at Shillington, (fn. 36) and like Luton it remained in this family to the death of Sir John Napier in 1714. (fn. 37) In 1748 the manorial court was held by Sir Conyers D’Arcy, and in 1759 by the earl of Holderness, (fn. 38) who in 1760 sold the property to Joseph Musgrave, (fn. 39) and henceforward it follows the same descent as Aspley Bury manor (q.v.) in the same parish.
No mention of the so-called manor of ASPLEY or ASPLEY BURY has been found before 1503, in which year Ralph Lane conveyed one-third of this manor to Thomas Montague and Mary his wife for life, with reversion to himself. (fn. 40) He died in possession of this manor in 1541, (fn. 41) and was succeeded by his son Robert, who was holding in 1556, in which year he transferred a messuage and land forming part of the manor to Laurence Eton. (fn. 42) Between this date and 1612, though no record has been found of the transfer, Aspley Bury passed into the possession of Richard Franklin, (fn. 43) whose son John, knighted during his father’s lifetime, succeeded him in 1612. (fn. 44) His sister Elizabeth married Sir Christopher Musgrave, and received Aspley Bury as her marriage portion. (fn. 45) The manor was held in 1757 by their son Joseph, (fn. 46) whose nephew George held the property till his death in 1861. (fn. 47) His son, George Musgrave, was succeeded by a son Edgar, whose son Horace Edgar Musgrave at present owns the property. (fn. 48)
A manor of LITTLE HOLWELL, sometimes called NETHER HOLWELL, existed in this parish in the thirteenth century, the earliest holders of which assumed the place-name as surname. It appears to have been held in chief, though no mention of the overlordship has been found, but on the forfeiture of Robert Belknappe in 1388, it fell into the king’s hands. (fn. 49) In 1200 Stephen de Holwell held property in Little Holwell, for in that year he alienated a virgate here to Ralph de Standon, (fn. 50) and in 1203 Simon de Holwell alienated a virgate to Robert son of Ascelin. (fn. 51) Another Stephen de Holwell granted the manor to William of Holwell for life in 1257, (fn. 52) whilst John de Holwell held Holwell in 1272 by a fortieth part of a knight’s fee. (fn. 53)
In 1314 Walter de Holwell held the manor, (fn. 54) which was alienated by his son Nicholas in 1342 to John Avenel. (fn. 55) He transferred it in 1364 to John of Buckingham bishop of Lincoln, (fn. 56) who in 1383 granted it for fifteen years to Robert Belknappe. (fn. 57) Robert Avenel son of John, who married Juliana daughter of Robert Belknappe, disputed the claim of the bishop to the manor, (fn. 58) and it was finally arranged that Robert and Juliana should have the manor, which, failing their heirs, should revert to Robert Belknappe. They subsequently died without heirs, and the manor fell to Robert Belknappe, (fn. 59) and he having been found guilty of treason in 1388, Little Holwell escheated to the crown. (fn. 60)
Reginald Braybroke received a grant of the manor in the following year on payment of an annual rent of 20 marks, which was afterwards remitted. (fn. 61) In 1492 Elizabeth daughter of Gerard Braybroke, who married first William de Beauchamp of St. Amand, and afterwards Roger Tocotes, (fn. 62) died in possession of the manor, (fn. 63) which then passed to her son Richard Beauchamp of St. Amand, who died in 1508 without issue. (fn. 64) Further traces of this manor are scanty; in 1528 Thomas Brook of Cobham, as kinsman and heir of Gerard Braybroke, relinquished his right in the manor to John Foule, (fn. 65) and in 1532 Thomas Pares and others gave up their right in Little Holwell to James Dod of London, haberdasher, (fn. 66) but nothing further has been discovered of the history of this manor, which appears to have become extinct.
The manor of HOLWELL BURY appears to have originated in the 3½ hides of land which the abbot of Ramsey held in Holwell at the time of Domesday (1086), (fn. 67) though no mention of it as a manor is found until the fifteenth century. About 1255 William de Holwell held 2 hides of the abbot, for which he gave 10s. per annum and suit at the courts of Broughton and Shillington. (fn. 68) In 1302 one of the same name was holding by feudal service of the abbot in Little Holwell, (fn. 69) as also in 1346. (fn. 70)
Thomas Hobard in 1513 enfeoffed Edmund Jenney and other trustees of Holwell Bury manor to the use of George Ashfield and Margery his wife (probably daughter of Thomas). Margery Ashfield died in 1525, leaving a son Robert as heir, (fn. 71) who in 1553 sold Holwell Bury to Thomas Snagge for £530, (fn. 72) and his son Thomas sold the manor in 1576 to John St. John of Bletsoe. (fn. 73) Oliver St. John, his son, again sold it in 1601 for £1,800 to Richard Hale, (fn. 74) who held it till his death in 1620, (fn. 75) being followed by his son William (fn. 76) and his grandson, another William, the latter holding Holwell Bury in 1670. (fn. 77) The Hales continued to hold this property until the middle of the nineteenth century, when it was purchased by Mr. Dodwell. The property has since been dispersed, and that portion which includes the old farm-house and buildings has been purchased by Mr. Hartley of Liverpool, and is now used as a fruit-growing farm. (fn. 77a)
The hamlet of PEGSDON (Pechesdone, xi cent.; Pekesdene, xii cent.) gave its name to a manor which was assessed at the time of the Survey at 10 hides, and was worth £10. (fn. 78) It appears to have become merged in the abbot’s manor of Shillington at an early date (q.v.), for in 1311 the abbot claimed the hamlet of Pegsdon as member of his manor of Shillington. (fn. 79)
At the time of the Survey the abbot held half a hide in LOWER STONDON, (fn. 80) which afterwards became attached to the manor of Shillington. (fn. 81)
Hanscombe End is a district of Shillington, and a family of Hanscombe has been settled in this parish from the thirteenth century. In 1288 Reginald Hanscombe was a suitor at the abbot of Ramsey’s court of Shillington, and the name constantly recurs in subsequent court rolls. (fn. 82) A branch of the family owned land in Great Holwell in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, (fn. 83) and in 1537 Robert Hanscombe died in possession of land in Shillington. (fn. 84) Descendants of this family are at the present day resident in Shillington.
Three mills are mentioned in the Domesday Survey as belonging to the abbot of Ramsey in this parish. Of these, one was a broken-down mill in Shillington of no value, (fn. 85) the other two were in Pegsdon, and were worth 27s. 8d. yearly. (fn. 86) A charter of confirmation by Henry I to the abbot of Ramsey mentions a mill recently constructed in Shillington, (fn. 87) so the ruined mill of the Survey may have been restored, but one mill only appears to have survived beyond the fifteenth century. This mill is first mentioned in a lease, dated 1265, by Ralph de Tyville to the abbot of Ramsey, and is described as being near the bridge of ‘Watewale.’ (fn. 88) At the Dissolution Whatwell Mill, as it was called, became crown property with the other possessions of the abbey; it formed part of the dower of Anne wife of James I, who in 1612 granted it to Edward Ferrers. (fn. 89) In 1341 a mill is mentioned as belonging to the manor of Little Holwell in the parish of Shillington, which Nicholas de Holwell at that date transferred to John Avenel. (fn. 90)
In the thirteenth century mention has been found of a park at Shillington on the occasion of a release by William le Coynte and Alice his wife to the abbot of Ramsey of their right in land within the bounds of the park. (fn. 91)
moulded capitals and bases standing out from the walls, which, like the vault, are of plastered rubble.
There is no mention of a church in Shillington at Domesday, but the rectory and advowson belonged to the abbey from the earliest times. (fn. 93) When Ramsey Abbey was dissolved they became crown property, and were granted for a short term to Lord Wriothesley. (fn. 94) In 1547 Trinity College, Cambridge, obtained a grant of the rectory and advowson and holds them at the present day. (fn. 95)
In 1514 John Oxenbrigge received licence to found a chantry with one chaplain to celebrate in the parish church of Shillington. (fn. 96) He also received a licence to grant any lands to the value of £10, not held in chief, to the said chantry. (fn. 97) In 1547 the chantry, then worth 27s. 6½d., had fallen into decay. No incumbent was kept, and no poor people relieved. (fn. 98) Rowland Bolton received a twenty-one years’ lease of the Brotherhood House in 1578 at a yearly rent of 31s. 2d. (fn. 99)
Westnynge Chantry possessed land in Shillington to the value of 23s. 6d. to provide obits in the parish church. (fn. 100)
Shillington also contains a Union Chapel for the use of Congregationalists and Baptists, and a Wesleyan chapel erected in 1872. At Bury End there is a Primitive Methodist chapel, and at Pegsdon a Wesleyan.