1100 to 1500
The Medieval Village
Life and the Land in Medieval Great Addington
The right hand image is a satellite laser scan (LIDAR) of the fields around Great Addington. The map on the left is an Ordnance Survey map from the 19th century for comparison.
The LIDAR image clearly shows the ridge and furrow patterns in the field near the manor (centre of image), and also adjacent to the Ringstead Road on the far right of the image. Additional ridge & furrow patterns can be seen towards the centre top near Rectory Farm.
The Medieval open-field system was still in place in Great Addington in 1803 and has been preserved in the landscape.
Land being ploughed by Oxen
Circa 15th century medieval Cruck House in Didbrook, Glucestershire.
Low stone walls support the "A" shaped cruck frame. The door is modern.
Section of 1802 village plan showing possible Medieval parallel lane at rear of crofts (green)
Also shown is lost footpath to Little Addington (yellow)
Events in Great Addington
The Domesday Survey of 1086 firmly establish the new ownership of lands following twenty years of destruction and chaos of the Norman conquest and documents the feudal system which was to govern life for the majority of the population for the next 400 years.
Until the Census of 1841 onwards the majority of the records of events in the village are related to land transactions and occasional court records. Unfortunately the records of the medieval manor which would have given great insight have as yet not been identified, though they may still lie in some dusty archive.
By 1125, Aubrey de Vere (II), who had taken over the 1.5 hides of land of the Bishop of Coutances, Geoffrey de Montbrai, had added to that a half a hide at Drayton in Lowick. From this point onwards the two properties are held together.
Later in the same century Baldwin Wake granted Thrapston to Robert de Vere on his marriage of Baldwin's sister Margaret. So by the end of the 12th century the De Vere manors in Northamptonshire included Addington, Twywell, Islip, Drayton and Thrapston. In 1335 during Ralf de Vere's tenancy an extent of the manor of Thrapston shows there was there a capital messuage (land and buildings) with two gardens, 100 acres of arable land for the estate (in demesne), 10 acres of meadow, 10 free tenants, 10 native (?) tenants, 10 cottages, a water mill, and a market and fair. Alice, widow of John de Vere, in 1386 had her dower (widows pension) in Thrapston, including the profits of the market and fair, the common oven and a cottage in 'le Draperie.' Thrapston was eventually sold by descendants of the family in 1731.
Robert de Vere's son, Henry was with Richard I (the Lionheart) in 1186 on military campaign in Normandy against Philip Augustus, King of France. At Vaux near the city of Gisors, Henry was involved in skirmish with French troops and killed Ralph de Vaux. Henry was placed in charge of the castle and city of Gisors, until the death of his father when he returned to Addington.
In 1202-3 Martin of Papley, Simon Malse, Ranulf de Clapton, Thomas de Lullington (Luddington), were sent "to hear who the recluse (widow) of Addington wishes to attorn (appoint to act for her in law) against Hugh of Addington and Robert the Big, touching a plea of corn deforced, says that she attorns Ralph Porthos". Papley was a hamlet on the outskirts of Warmington, Northamptonshire. This court case was a claim for dower - the widows pension rights to the estate of her dead husband for the rest of her life. It would seem that Martin, Simon, Ranulf and Thomas were the investigators deciding the widows case against Hugh and Robert. The name of the widow isn't given know but perhaps is the widow of Robert de Vere who died circa 1194. Though Robert's brother John had a wife called Alice and for a period John had been in control of the family lands before he died without a son and Robert had taken inherited from his brother. The Hugh of Addington, may be Hugh de Waterville who is known to have owned the manor in Little Addington; at that time Little Addington was known as Addington Waterville.
Also in the year 1202-3, "Rohesia of Addington appealed (accused) Richard son of William of rape and has not followed it up. And therefore, she in in mercy, and let her be taken". This entry means that Rohesia had accused somebody of rape but had not been able to provide evidence, as such she was now liable to be arrested or fined.
In 1232 Baldwin de Vere received permission from the Abbot of Croyland as patron, Walter, rector of the church of Addington, and Bishop Hugh of Lincoln, to build a chapel, without a baptistery or belfry, in his manor house at Addington, where he and his wife Hawise, their guests and household, might hear divine service, but they still had to use the parish church on certain important dates. Baldwin and his heirs could present a chaplain who would be admitted by the rector, and he and his wife granted certain lands to the parish church. The document says “a chapel, and in it, he, Baldwin, and heirs of the family of his father, and guests… and only let them hear, and say mass”. At the same time he exchanged certain lands with the Abbot of Croyland for other lands before his gate, evidently with the object of improving the approach to his house. In the agreement various place names in the village are given for the first time, such as “Sleng near the fee of Maurice de Audely”; Wudefordebanlon' (Woodford), Grenewey, Ridgeway, Trendlade, Lidewellehil, Michelwelle, Westfield on Scitershul (Shooters Hill), and Brook furlong.
In 1316-17, John Horsot of Great Addington, killed Thomas Frere of Great Addington on 10 Edward II (July 1316 to July 1317). The said John took sanctuary in All Saints Church, Great Addington, and there confessed that he had killed said Thomas, and abjured the realm (swore to leave the country). His chattels (possesions) were worth 3shillings 4pence. The first finder is dead (the person who found the body) and as it happened by day and the township of Great Addington did not capture him (before he got to the church), they are in mercy (compassion for the unfortunate).
In 1318 the Abbot of Croyland - who at the this point still held land in Great Addington - was engaged in a suit against William Marmaduke, bailiff of Richard Marmaduke of Raunds, and others, for damage done to his mill pond at Addington. There is mention of the Abbey of Croyland having a mill in Great aAdington, so if we assume that this is the same mill then we know it was a watermill.
Circa 1330 Robert of Chester, Juxta Durham (from the village of Chester near Durham), for fear of arrest took sanctuary in the Church of All Saints, Addington. He there confessed that he was guilty of divers thefts and abjured the realm . His chatels were worth 2shillings.*
Circa 1330 Henry de Drinere of Burton (Latimer?), for fear of arrest took sanctury in All Saints Church of Great Addington and there confessed he had committed divers (many) thefts and abjured the realm. His chattels were worth 12pence.
Ralph de Vere died in 1335 and a record of Addington Manor taken after his death, showed there was then a capital messuage (meaning a house, lands and outbuildings), a dovecot, a garden with a mill in it and 60 acres of demesne. The fact that it mentions a garden with a mill in it, seems to be further evidence that the original manor house was near to the stream that crosses under modern Lower St.
1367-8. In the reign of Edward III, in Addington (whether Great or Little is not known). Thomas Mayson was found dead by Wiliam (L)adde. Thomas Sumpter and Thomas Kynche (Kenche?) support the statements of William. The coroner (John de Nunton) records a death by Misfortune as "in the house of Roger Mason at night a candle fell on the bed, burned to death". The jurors were Thomas Sumpter, John atte Stones, Bart(holemew) atte Stones, Thomas (?), John (son of Henry Mayson), Robert Raule, Henry Swayn, Thomas Nicol, Simon Kenche, Gerrard Wernerne, Robert Adam. The court roll mentions that the jurors came from both villages. As the house belonged to Roger Mason then it is probably that Thomas was a relative.
The entries from 1202-3 are from the work The earliest Northamptonshire assize rolls, A.D. 1202 and 1203, by Doris Mary Parsons Stenton, 1930. This book is no longer in print. The information shown was gathered by Brian Duncan in 1990.
The references to those claiming sanctuary in the church are taken from THE THIRTY-SECOND REPORT OF THE ARCHITECTURAL SOCIETY OF THE ARCHDEACONRIES OF NORTHAMPTON AND OAKHAM which states they are in the Assize Roll Number 632 from Edward III in 1330. This document is now difficult to locate, but the information shown was gathered by Brian Duncan in 1990.
*To abjure the realm, the person taking the oath swore to leave the country directly and promptly, never to return to the kingdom unless by permission of the sovereign. This was often taken by fugitives who had taken sanctuary in a church. "I swear on the Holy Book that I will leave the realm of England and never return without the express permission of my Lord the King or his heirs. I will hasten by the direct road to the port allotted to me and not leave the King's highway under pain of arrest or execution. I will not stay at one place more than one night and will seek diligently for a passage across the sea as soon as I arrive, delaying only one tide if possible. If I cannot secure such passage, I will walk into the sea up to my knees every day as a token of my desire to cross. And if I fail in all this, then peril shall be my lot."
1301 The Northamptonshire Assesment
Peasants harvesting. Circa 1310 manuscript. They are being directed by the Reeve (prepositos)
This is the earliest found reference to the surname Abbot in the Addingtons and at a time when surnames were still not in common usage. There would be Abbots' living in the village for nearly 700 years.
The Black Death
The Hundred Years War. Battle of Crecy 1346
Earliest surviving portrait of Richard III
War of the Roses
End of an Era
The period from 1301 to 1485 is a long protracted end to the Medieval era. The 1301 Assessment (see above) marks a point in time which can be seen as the highpoint of the Medieval period. The population was booming - fueled by a warm shift in the climate which led to higher crop yields; slavery had been abolished, though the feudal system was still very much in place; and the era of chivalry, knights and tournaments were perhaps only just starting to fade. England had faced setbacks, the civil war of the 12th century had been a period of chaos; later writers referred to it as "the Anarchy", and the English Kings had already started to lose their land holdings in France. King John lost Normandy and Anjou to France in 1204.
However, this long period of plenty from 1200 to 1300 was about to come to an end with a series of natural disasters and wars.
The Great Famine
In the spring of 1315, unusually heavy rain began in much of Europe. Throughout the spring and the summer, it continued to rain, and the temperature remained cool. Grain would not ripen, leading to widespread crop failures. The straw and hay for the animals could not dry, so there was no fodder for the livestock. The price of food began to rise; prices in England doubled between spring and midsummer. Salt, the only way to cure and preserve meat, was difficult to obtain because brine could not be effectively evaporated in wet weather; its price increased from 30 to 40 shillings. Because of the population pressures, even lower-than-average harvests meant some people would go hungry; there was little margin for failure. People began to harvest wild edible roots, grasses, nuts, and bark in the forests.
In 1348 the Black Death, a plaque pandemic, which had been spreading across Europe from the East, arrived in England. The first known case in England was a seaman who arrived at Weymouth, Dorset, from Gascony in June 1348.
By autumn, the plague had reached London, and by summer 1349 it covered the entire country, before dying down by December. Mortality rates are now generally accepted to be between 40–60 per cent of the population, about 3 million people.
Further outbreaks of plague were to follow in 1360–63 - when another 20% of the population are believed to have died; and then again in 1374; 1400; 1438–39; 1456–57; 1464–66; and 1481–85. It was to appear again and again in England until the 18th century.
In the long term, the decrease in population caused a shortage of labour, with subsequent rise in wages, which was resisted by the landowners, and which caused deep resentment among the lower classes. The Peasants Revolt of 1381 (see below) was largely a result of this resentment, and even though the rebellion was suppressed, in the long term feudalism was ended in England.
We have no records relating to Great Addington at this time, but across the Nene in Raunds the annual accounts for 1349 rents were diminished because of the pestilence. There were still many empty properties and untenanted lands at Raunds in 1464, more than a century later.
In Higham Ferrers, the town records show that of 51 individuals involved in the business of the town court on 26 April 1349, that within three weeks 19 were now dead, including the court clerk. In one case in Ecton, not only were the two parties in the court case dead, but so were two of the jurors.
Across Northamptonshire there was shrinkage of villages and abandonment of marginal agricultural land, animals were abandoned as their owners were dead. This was a massive economic recession with decay of most villages and market towns.
With the later outbreaks in 1360-63 and 1374 it is estimated that areas such as Northamptonshire would have lost as much of 60% of its population.
Peasants Revolt of 1381
The War of the Roses
End of the Medieval Period
Henry de Vere
Henry de Vere (d 1493) Tomb in All Saints Church, Great Addington
Henry De Vere letters from the King, Family, Friends & Enemies
Detailed below are a number of letters sent to Henry de Vere, including one from the King, though which King? It was known that Henry de Vere had no love for Richard III and fought against him at Bosworth, but though a supporter of Henry VII, even the King could not ignore complaints from the great Abbey of Croyland - which still held lands in Great Addington. Based on the date of the letter and the location it was sent from it is most likely to be from Henry VII and sent in March 1486. The letter shown is probably the only personal letter from a monarch of England discussing the people of Addington.
Other letters are a mixture of personal and official from friends, family, and enemies. All spelling shown below is as per the original letters.
The first document is a letter of wittness for Henry de Vere against a complain raised by a certain Thomas Watts. The letter is from Nicholas Vaux, 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden (c. 1460 – 14 May 1523) a soldier and courtier in England and an early member of the House of Commons. The Vaux family had connections to the de Vere's. Nicholas Vaux was also a supporter of Henry VII.
The original complaint by Thomas Watts cannot be found, but it is clear by Nicholas's letter that it was serious, including an allegation that Nicholas had been sent to murder Thomas by Henry de Vere. The letter is addressed to my Lord Chancellor, though as it is not dated it is unclear which Lord Chancellor it is.
Right honourable and my most singular good Lord, I recommend me to your good Lordship in as humble manner as I can. Please it your good Lordship to understand, That where one Thomas Watts hath compleyned afore your Lordship and other of the Kings Councel ayenst Harry Vere Squyer, of divers injuries and wrongs supposed that he shuld doe to him in the coming of the Kings Grace into this Lond, for the whyche injuries and wronges the said Thomas had at that tyme a Privy Seal, and of his own offer and desire prayed me to sett him and the said Harry at accord; And the said Harry Vere to appear. And the said Thomas kept still his Privy Seal. And for soe much as he was my Servaunt att the tyme, I, att a Sessions in the second Yere of our said Soveraigne Lord at Northampton, afore Sir Thomas Greene, John Throgmorton, Richard Knightly, and other Gentilmen there present, made a their own agreement and accorde of matters, desires and greves depending betwix the said partyes, from the beginning of the World unto that day of accord, as well of the part of the said Harry as of the said Thomas. And alsoe whereas the said Thomas shuld late surmiis unto your Lordship, that the said Henry should desire me to goe to the house of the said Thomas in Rothewell att my goeing toward the King att his last Journay Northwarde, to slee or destroye (kill) the said Thomas; It was never soe desired by the said Henry, nor noon of his, of me, nor of noon of myne, nor I never thought no suche entent to him, nor to noon other, but according to the Kings comandement, and his Lawes, and thereto I shall be ready to answer as well for my declaration, as for the declaration of the said Henry in all the premisses, whansoever it pleas the Kings Highnes, and your Lordship to comande me. And Almighty God ever preserve your good Lordship to your most hertes pleasure.
A letter from John Tresham, Henry's brother-in-law. Probably written sometime after 1485.
Henry de Vere died in 1493, he was around 33 years of age. The tomb in Great Addington church reads:
Here lyeth the Body of Sr Henry Vere Knight. who was once Lord of this manor . He was Father of Elizabeth, Wife to Iohn the first Lord Mordaunt unto whom his eldest Daughter & Coheire did decend the Greatest part of his Ancient & (?) In heritance. On whose Soule God have Mercy.
There is no mention of his other daughters, there were four in total - Elizabeth, Anne, Constance, and Audrey; nor of his wife who it is believed may have died 3 years earlier in 1490. Though a wife is mentioned in his will but we do not know when the will was written, though the National Archives dates it to June 1493.
John Bloxham, Chantry Priest, Died 1519