Stiuecle (xi cent.); Stiuecleya Abbatis, Stiuecle parva, Stiuecle minor (xiii cent.). See also Great Stukeley.
Little Stukeley is a parish of 1,523 acres lying near the centre of the county, some three miles north-west of the county town; it is a narrow strip of land, bounded mainly by the parishes of Great Stukeley and Alconbury. The land is highest in the north; towards the south, near Alconbury brook, the lowlying pasture-land is liable to flood. The soil is stiff clay and part gravel; subsoil clay. The chief crops are wheat, barley, roots and beans.
The village lies at the crossing of Ermine Street by the road to Abbots Ripton. The more important part of it, including the church, rectory and schools, is on the north side of Ermine Street along the Abbots Ripton Road, where there are many picturesque timber framed, thatched or tiled houses and cottages of the 17th and 18th centuries. The post office at the north-east corner of the crossing is a 17th-century two-story building with an early 18th-century addition. On the south side of Ermine Street the houses are more scattered. Here at the south angle of the crossing is a house, which was formerly the Swan and Salmon Inn, a two-storied brick house with tiled roof and a gabled projection in front. On a chimney-stack on the north-east side is a panel showing a chained and collared swan and a shield with initials C. and E. D. for Christopher and Elizabeth Druell and the date 1676. Under this is another roughly made panel showing a pike on metal, probably the arms of Elizabeth [Pickering]. At the Manor Farm, further south, are the foundations of an earlier house.
A Purbeck marble effigy wearing a chasuble and alb with feet resting on two couchant rams, apparently representing Ralf, abbot of Ramsey (d. 1253), was found by Dr. Philip Nelson used as a mounting stone at an inn at Little Stukeley. The figure when complete would measure 7 ft. 6 in. by 2 ft. 3 in. (fn. 1)
Land at STUKELEY formed part of the endowment given to the abbey of Ramsey in the 10th century by Aylwin, the founder. (fn. 2) In 1086 the abbey possessed 7 hides here, with land for 11 ploughs, besides demesne land for two ploughs; it was then worth £4 10s., having had a value of £6 in the time of King Edward. (fn. 3) The manor remained in the possession of the abbey until the Dissolution. (fn. 4)
At the time of the Domesday Survey (1086) two knights, Richard and Hugh, held three hides of the abbot. (fn. 5) Possibly one of these knights was father of Nicholas, archdeacon of Huntingdon (ob. c. 1110), the father of Henry of Huntingdon, the historian, who apparently succeeded his father as archdeacon and died c. 1155. We know Henry the archdeacon had houses on the demesne of the abbot and held Stukeley at fee farm. (fn. 6) He was succeeded by his son Adam, who held the vill for £8, with two ploughs. (fn. 7) In the time of Abbot Robert (1180–1200), Adam de Stukeley, with Aristotle his son, made an agreement with the abbot to farm Stukeley for £5. (fn. 8) Between 1214 and 1216, however, the abbot assigned the manor of Stukeley towards the upkeep of the fabric of the abbey and of the infirmary. (fn. 9) Nicholas de Stukeley, the son of Aristotle, however, entered on a suit against the abbot with the view of establishing some hereditary right to the manor. (fn. 10) Eventually, in 1228, Nicholas renounced all claim to this manor and that of Gidding, receiving 30 marks from the abbot. (fn. 11)
In 1239 the manor was leased to Thomas, the abbey’s porter, for seven years at a rent of £20 payable to the master of the works and the master of the infirmary. The grant excluded yearly tallage, sheriff’s aid and hundred aid with ward peny and other customs due to the abbot’s chamber from the manor, as from other abbey manors put to farm. (fn. 12) Notwithstanding the surrender by Nicholas to the abbey we find that Paulinus de Stukeley was holding a carucate of land as a manor in Little Stukeley of the abbot with suit at the abbot’s court at Broughton in 1279 (fn. 13) and that Ralph de Stukeley his son had lands there in 1308. (fn. 14)
In the 12th and 13th centuries the family of Lenveyse were, except for the Stukeleys, the chief tenants of the abbot. Jordan Lenveyse held land here in 1199 (fn. 15) and in the next century he, or his namesake, owed suit at the abbot’s court at Broughton and service. (fn. 16) In 1279 Ralph Rastel owed similar service. (fn. 17)
After the Dissolution the manor appears to have remained some years in the crown, though numerous life-grants and leases of small parcels of the manor were made. (fn. 18)
In 1590 the whole manor was granted to Richard Younge, Edward Rust and George Garth and their heirs. (fn. 19) Edward Rust held a court here in 1592. (fn. 20) In 1594 Richard Younge died holding two-thirds of the manor leaving his son Edmund as heir. (fn. 21) By 1604 the manor had passed to William Buggins (fn. 22) and in 1625 Elizabeth Buggins was lady of the manor. (fn. 23)It was held in 1653 by William Buggins (fn. 24) and in 1664 by John Buggins. (fn. 25) The last-named sold the manor about 1665 to Anne Bigge, widow. (fn. 26) John Bigge held the property in 1673 (fn. 27) and his son John Bigge left it at his death in 1748 to his sister Lucy (d. 1748) for life, with remainder to his friend Sir John Bernard. (fn. 28) The manor passed before 1767 to his son Sir Robert Bernard, bart. (fn. 29) who died unmarried in 1789. From this date it followed the descent of the Bernards’ estate in Brampton (q.v.) and the Duke of Manchester is the present owner.
By a 12th-century extent of the lands of Ramsey Abbey we find that Josceline de Stukeley held 2 hides and a virgate in Stukeley. (fn. 30) These lands seem to have extended into Great Stukeley. Josceline was a contemporary of Henry [de Stukeley] archdeacon of Huntingdon (1110–55) (fn. 31) and was probably grandfather of Josceline, son of Walter de Stukeley, who married Aline, afterwards the wife of James Wake, (fn. 32) and was sheriff in 1205. (fn. 33) Walter, son of Josceline de Stukeley, (fn. 34)appears as steward of the abbey lands (1214–15). (fn. 35) He died about 1237 in the time of Abbot Ranulf (1231–53) when Alice his wife agreed with the abbot for the custody of her three daughters and ‘the little one not yet born. (fn. 36) Walter, however, left a son Barnabas, probably the little one then unborn, who was said to be seventeen at the death of his grandmother, Aline, wife of James Wake, in 1254. (fn. 37) Barnabas died without issue, leaving a widow Margery who afterwards married Norman Darcy. (fn. 38) Barnabas’s heirs were his three sisters, Joan the wife of William le Waleys who died without issue in 1281, Alice who married William le Coynte and died in 1280 leaving a son and heir William le Coynte, and Mary who married Peter de Boweles (fn. 39) and left a son John de Boweles. In 1259 William le Waleys and Joan and William le Coynte and Alice conveyed their two-thirds of a messuage and 3 carucates of land in Stukeley to William de Swyneford and Margery his wife. (fn. 40) William de Swyneford was imprisoned during the Barons’ Wars as one of the king’s enemies and in 1266 his lands in Stukeley were seized by the sheriff of Huntingdon. (fn. 41)
He was succeeded by John de Swyneford, and he by his son John (then aged four years) in 1332. (fn. 42)Margaret de Swyneford, wife of Thomas FitzEustace, possibly a sister of John, died seised of a ruinous messuage and 240 acres of land in Stukeley of her own inheritance held of the Abbot of Ramsey in 1349. She left a daughter Joan and a kinswoman Eleanor, wife of William de Swyneford, who had a son Thomas, 15 days old, and daughters Isabel and Elizabeth. (fn. 43) The Swyneford two-thirds fell to co-heirs and in 1368 were apparently conveyed by William Scot de Holbeach of Yaxley, fisher, and Emma his wife as a moiety of the manor of Great Stukeley which Thomas FitzEustace and Eleanor his wife held for the term of the life of Eleanor to Nicholas de Stukeley, Robert Waryn of Offord and other Stukeley trustees. (fn. 44) It would seem that Thomas Fitz Eustace had married Eleanor the kinswoman and one of the heirs of his former wife Margery Swyneford. Seisin of a portion of the Swyneford property called ‘Swynefordsmanere’ in Great Stukeley was in 1380 given to William Burgate. (fn. 45)
In 1293 John de Boweles, who held the remaining third part of the manor, conveyed the third of a moiety of the manor of Stukeley which Margery, widow of Barnabas de Stukeley, then held in dower, and also a third of the manor of Stukeley which Norman Darcy and Margery his wife held as dower, to William son of Thomas Inge of Dunstable. (fn. 46) William Inge, who was Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, left a son Fremund, who died childless, (fn. 47) and a daughter Joan, who married Eudo la Zouche. (fn. 48) This part of the manor, like the Swyneford portion, fell into the hands of feoffees in trust for co-heirs.
It would seem that the various interests in the manor were united under the name of RAWLYNS MANOR which in 1386 Thomas Hildegare conveyed to Sir John Holt, John Warwyk and others. (fn. 49) In 1388 John de Stukeley and Agnes, his wife, conveyed it to Sir John Holt, Nicholas de Stukeley and others with warranty against the heirs of Agnes. (fn. 50) For some time this property seems to have followed the descent of the manor of Nokes in Great Stukeley (q.v.). In the early part of the 16th century, however, it appears to have passed from the chief line of the Stukeley family and was held by Thomas Stukeley (fn. 51) whose daughter and heir Anne married George Wynsore. The Wynsores sold it in 1535 to Edward Montagu (fn. 52) and henceforth it followed the descent of Hinchingbrook (q.v.) in the family of the Earl of Sandwich.
The Church of ST. MARTIN consists of a chancel (18½ ft. by 17 ft.) with north chapel (21½ ft. by 8 ft.) and south chapel (20 ft. by 9 ft.), nave (29¼ ft. by 16 ft.), north aisle (8 ft. wide), south aisle (9 ft. wide), west tower (11½ ft. by 11½ ft.), and south porch.
The walls are of rubble largely faced with ashlar, but parts of the north aisle and chapel are of brick; the roofs are covered with lead and tiles.
The church mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086) was probably of timber, and Henry of Huntingdon (the archdeacon) is recorded to have built (i.e., rebuilt) it in the 12th century. (fn. 53) His building apparently consisted of a chancel and an aisleless nave; portions of the latter remain in the north-west, south-west and south-east responds of the present nave; a large reset arch between the chancel and the north chapel probably formed part of the chancel arch; one of the window heads has been built into the north aisle wall, and a length of corbel-table has been reset at the top of the same wall. The walls of the tower and the south aisle are largely built of 12th-century stones, and a quantity of loose stones of this date remain in the north chapel, some of which exhibit the peculiar local form of six (or more) pallets of varying length (the longest in the middle) overlapping a roll and hollow after the fashion of a beak-head. (fn. 54)
That a north arcade and aisle were added to this church in the 13th century is witnessed by the stones of this period still remaining in the north arcade. (fn. 55) The western tower was added towards the end of the 13th century, and early in the following century the chancel was rebuilt and widened and a north chapel added.
About the year 1500 the nave with its arcades and clearstory and the chancel arch were entirely rebuilt, the south chapel, aisle and porch added, some alterations made in the north chapel and aisle, and large buttresses added to the tower. Considerable works were done in the latter half of the 17th century: the south porch was rebuilt in 1652, the belfry in 1659, and the north aisle in 1673. The north aisle was again rebuilt in 1887 when the north chapel was altered to form a vestry, and the tower was repaired. The east wall of the early 14th-century chancel was rebuilt with the old materials in 1910.
The chancel retains an original three-light east window with original jambs and head but 15th-century tracery. In the north wall an original arch incorporates on its northern face the stones of a large, richly ornamented 12th century arch. In the south wall is a large arch of c. 1500, remains of the inner jambs of two original windows, and a mutilated piscina.
The arch, c. 1500, is of two orders on semi-octagonal respond shafts with moulded capitals and bases; above it are some fragments of cusping built in the form of a lozenge. On the north, a large block of walling probably contained the rood staircase, and the upper doorway remains in the north-east angle of the nave, while the lower doorway is in the north chapel. The roof is modern.
The nave arcades, c. 1500, are of two bays each, with chamfered arches resting on octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases. The northern arches consist largely of 13th-century stones re-used, and above the column is a large stone bracket supported by a demi-angel. (fn. 56) In the north-west corner a small part of the 12th-century nave remains.
The south arcade also appears to retain part of the 12th-century nave at its western end, and on the eastern respond is a semi-octagonal bracket resting on the recumbent figure of a man with long pointed headdress curled over and ending in a tassel.
The contemporary clearstory has two three-light windows on each side, and carved corbels of the same date now support the jacklegs of the modern roof.
The north chapel and north aisle are not structurally separated. The east wall has a modern two-light window and a stone bracket supported by a ram, evidently a reference to Ramsey Abbey. In the rebuilt north wall is a plain doorway at the extreme east end, two modern windows, and some 12th-century corbel stones reset outside. The west wall has a modern window. In the south wall of the chapel is a plain 14th-century recess, perhaps originally a piscina.
The south chapel and south aisle, of fine design of c. 1500, are also not structurally divided. The east wall has a three-light window and two stone brackets supported by demi-angels. The south wall has two three-light windows, a doorway with crocketed label, and a piscina with projecting ogee head and side recess. The west wall has a three-light similar to the rest. Two of the windows contain a few fragments of original glass. Part of the ‘Old Hundredth’ psalm has been painted on the south wall in the 17th century.
The Domesday Survey for Little Stukeley records the existence of a church there, with a priest. (fn. 58) It belonged, with the manor, to Ramsey Abbey (q.v.). Henry the Archdeacon was stated to have caused the church to be built and dedicated to St. Martin. (fn. 59)
¶The advowson descended with the manor after the Dissolution, presentation to the rectory being made by the lord of the manor except for occasional grants made by others for one turn only. (fn. 60) The present patron is the Duke of Manchester. In 1922 the benefices of Little Stukeley and Abbots Ripton were united by Order in Council, the patron of Little Stukeley having one turn to two of the patron of Abbots Ripton. (fn. 61)
Town Lands. It appears from an old manuscript paper in the parish chest that part of the town land was anciently vested in feoffees in trust for the parish church and the maintenance of the poor, but as long as is known the rents have been appropriated exclusively to the use of the church. The endowment now consists of the Town Close, land containing about 9 acres and an allotment of about 7 acres in the parish of Alconbury the rents of which are carried to the churchwardens’ account.