Friday, February 22, 2013

Fulling at Fuller's Slade?

I read in a book  a couple of days ago by Marion Hill that Fuller's Slade was so named because Fulling was practised there. Fulling was the process of treating coarse woollen cloth so that it was more wearable. While not knowing any better than Marion Hill, one way or the other, I can only say that this is highly unlikely. Fulling as an industry required a good water supply and a power source. The hand beating of cloth during the fulling process was very, very hard work and would only be undertaken by peasants preparing cloth for their own personal use. If Fuller's Slade was named after a practising Fuller, doing the work for the community, it strikes me as improbable without any machinery.

If fulling was done in Wolverton, which would also require the carting of Fuller's Earth from Wobutn Sands, it is more likely that this happened beside the river or one of the brooks where water power could drive the fulling hammers.

It is more probable that Fuller's Slade acquired its name in a different way. A slade (from the Old English) is a clearing in the wood. Since that area was once heavily wooded the land would have been gradually cleared, become known as the slade, and eventually getting a name attached to it to distinguish it from slades farmed by others. Indeed there are other fields across Wolverton which are known as slades and have other names attached to them.

Professor Hyde suggests that it might have been "Fowler's Slade" at one point. Most of the early documentary references from the 13th and 14th centuries write it as Fulwell's Slade, or some variant. I have also come across a reference to this land naming a William Full.

Terle Mill


There was once a third mill in Wolverton. There are documented references to it in 1465 and indeed there are traces of a building on the site. This sunken trackway would once have led to the mill and continues the road which now leads to Manor Farm. At the time of taking this photograph the river was in flood so it was not possible to inspect more closely. Perhaps in the summer.


It was certainly not functioning as a mill in 1710 when detailed records of the manor occur so we must assume that its life was not extensive or especially productive. Given its location you could guess that the channel cutting across a bend in the Ouse and bordering Colts Holm, was dug as a mill race.


View from the island bank taken by Chris Gleadell (Red spot marks the mill)



From the surviving deeds it would appear to be in the hands of the Hastings family. The Hastings name appears early in Wolverton and is still prominent in the 15th century so it is probable that their ancestor was one of Manno’s retainers who was granted some land on the Wolverton manor and the family prospered over the centuries. You can at once infer from these documents that the Hastings family was one of substance in 1465.

The first of these 15th century documents is a letter of attorney that defines the lifetime interest of one Richard Savage of Kings Norton in these properties which had come to him through his marriage to Alice Hastings, the heiress of John Hastings. Alice had recently died. Several properties in Wolverton, Stony Stratford, Bradwell, Wicken and Padbury were noted, and most of these manors were once within the barony of Wolverton. The date of this letter is 9th April 1465. There is a second deed, dated 19th April 1465,  which releases Richard Savage’s interest to John Hastings and John Hayle. We might assume that John Hastings was a brother of Alice and John Hayle another brother in law. Probably these two had completed a monetary settlement with Richard Savage for his lifetime interest. Then in a third deed, John Hastings grants his interest to John Hayle. The date of this last document is 12th June 1465.

The narrative we can piece together from these papers was that Thomas Hastings (we learn this from another deed) bequeathed most of his property to his son and heir John, but also made settlements on his daughters. One, Alice, was married to Richard Savage; the other, whose name we do not know, was married to John Hayle. The income from these settlements could be used by their husbands but the property itself would revert to the Hastings. In other words a dowry was given which could only be enjoyed by his daughter and her spouse during their lifetimes. This was not uncommon.

The interested parties in this case plainly took this opportunity to untangle this complocated legacy. Savage was first bought out by John Hastings and John Hayle. Subsequently Hastings sold his interest to John Hayle So by June 1465 Hayle and his wife owned all properties.Through this series of documents we can attach  a narrative for family settlements. The mill was a small part of the deal but its mention does provide us with proof of its existence.

We cannot know when it was built but one is drawn to the idea that it was a later medieval venture. There can scarcely have been a need for a third corn mill in Wolverton  so it might possibly have been a fulling mill. Mechanised fulling mills start to appear in England in the very late 12th century and were apparently common in the 13th. So it is possible that this mill was a 13th century foundation but there is no documentary or even (for the moment) any archaeological evidence to help us. The mill is only mentioned in these three documents written with months of each other in 1465.

Woollen cloth is very coarse at first weave so a process was developed in the middle ages of beating out the cloth with flat hammers, together with plenty of water and a clay which was high in magnesium oxide content. This was known as Fuller's Earth. The nearest supply of this to Wolverton was the greensand of Woburn Sands. The work was extremely hard so the mechanization of the process, first developed in France in the late 11th century, was a great development.

As I said earlier, I am only speculating that it might have been a Fulling Mill. The location, with its flat land on the meadow would certainly lend itself to stretching out the cloth to dry, As far as the name is concerned it may derive from twirl which was simply descriptive of the action of the mill. There is a Turl Street in Oxford which derives from twirl.

In the end there may not have been as much demand for the fulling of cloth locally. It was a hard process. Wolverton men may have preferred to raise their sheep, shear them, bundle up the wool, takes their comfortable profits and buy the finished cloth from elsewhere. Certainly it was abandoned before 1700, and possibly much earlier.


[1] Deeds 345, 148, 499

Obscure Stony Stratford Inns - Part III

The Blue Anchor

This is a most unusual name for an inland pub. While this name is often found at coastal towns, it strikes me as rather odd to find it in Stony Stratford. But here it is.


It was probably and alehouse rather than an inn; therefore little more than a house of sorts with the front parlour open to customers. Robert Edge, who is named in the deed, was a gardener by trade and his alehouse provided him with an additional source of income. What he gets in this deed is "all that messuage, or tenement, with the appurtenances situate on the east side" and "a pyghtle of pasture" - meaning a small plot of land. A "messuage" is Norman French, still in use in the 17th century, for a house, any outbuildings and the yard.

The date of this document is 1678. It is the only time The Blue Anchor appears in a document.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stony Stratford's Old Street and Alley Names

Stony Stratford was essentially built along the Watling Street, which became the High Street once it was given a name. Most houses and inns backed off the High Street in long strips of land, either one acre or half an acre. After 1194 a market was founded on the Calverton side. It seems pretty clear that this became the Market Square.

As the town developed, alleys and lanes came off the High Street or developed beyond the Market Square on the east side. Many names have either been lost or have changed. Here is a list.

Cow Fair

This is now Silver Street. As the original name suggest this was the area for the cattle market. Horse Fair still survives as Horse Fair Green. Cow Fair was renamed Silver Street on the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935.

Horn Lane

Horn Lane originally branched off Cow Fair (Silver Street) and had a "L" shape. The first part of it was renamed Oxford Street.

Chapel Street

This was probably the first part of the Wolverton Road. There were 8 dwellings recorded in 1851. including a pub and a few shops. By 1861 it had changed to Wolverton Road.

Ram Alley

This followed the course of New Street. All these properties were acquired by the Reverend William Sankey, a man of considerable personal wealth who spent a great deal of it improving Stony Stratford. New Street, the Vicarage and St Paul's College were all built at his expense.

Claridge's Lane

This was probably at the northern end of town and might be identified with the older Pudding Bag Lane.  It appears as Claridge's Lane in the 1851 and 1861 Censuses and it is quite possible that it was called Claridge's Lane in order to spruce up its image. I don't know who this Claridge was. It was probably pulled down when the land was cleared to build St Pauls School.

Pudding Bag Lane

It is mentioned by Sir Frank Markham as being in the St Paul's area. Quite how it acquired its characterful name is not known.

Coach and Horse's Lane

There was an inn called The Coach and Horses. Markham doesn't identify it in his History of Stony Stratford, but it is definitely in the censuses of 1851 and 1861. Judging by its location it was likely a descendant of The Horseshoe Inn. The 1841 Census identifies Coach and Horses Lane as formerly Malletts Lane. This lane disappeared when St Pauls was built.

Back Way

Here's an original name! The Back Way eventually became Russell Street and Vicarage Road in the 19th century but for centuries was the back lane bordering all the burgage plots on the High Street.

Here are the old names that have survived without change.

High Street

Older documents usually refer to it as the Watling Street, so it is unclear when the term High Street came into being - possibly in the 18th century when the road was built up and became "higher".

Church Street

Plainly, when street names became desirable, this name was applied and stuck.

Market Square

This appears as the Market Place in some earlier documents, but by the19th century Market Square is well established.

Mill Lane

Must date from medieval times because a mill has been there for at least 1000 years.

Horse Fair

This appears in late medieval times, named for the business that was conducted there. As houses developed around it the name Horse Fair Green was applied.

Harlot's Path

From Mill Lane the Harlot's Walk or Path skirted the back of all the High Street plots and came out by the Barley Mow. Obviously this was never an official name but one that pretty much defined what you could expect to find there after dark.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Obscure Stony Stratford Inns - Part II

Following on from the previous post here are three more inns which make a brief appearance in Stony Stratford's history.

The Rowbuck Inn

This was leased to William Sheppard in 1642. That is is only appearance ever. It was on the Wolverton side and it might possibly have been the same building that appeared later in the century as The Queren's Head. We don't know that, but a change of name is more likely than the idea of an inn appearing out of nowhere and then disappearing.

The Crown Inn

This was leased in 1654 by Sir Edward Longueville together with "parts of Mill Meadow and Bridge Meadow, totalling two roods." Sir Frank Markham identifies this with the Crown on the Market Square, but I am not so sure. To start with I am not aware of the Longuevilles ever owning any land around the Market Square. Secondly the land attached to this lease is meadow on the east side of the Watling Street - in other words part of the Wolverton estate. Now although it was not unknown for innkeepers to lease fields in other parts of the manor it does seem odd in this instance for James Barnes to lease a property on the Square together with relatively small strips of land in the north east of Stony Stratford.
I am therefore inclined to believe that this was another Crown altogether, possibly in the north end of town on the east side. It was short lived because it does not appear in the documents of 1710-15 which detail all the leases associated with the Longueville estate.

The Bell

There was a Bell on the Square at one time, but this is not it. Again this was a lease from the Longuevilles on the east side. For the privilege he is paying 22s 8d per annum and two fat capons at Christmas. It is obviously more money than the rent for the Nags Head I wrote of in the previous post but falls way short of the £5 10s paid for the Queens Head, so my guess is that it was more of an alehouse than an inn.

Once more we cannot locate it. Pubs with the name The Bell are often found close to churches so it might have been in the vicinity of St Mary Magdalen.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Obscure Stony Stratford Inns - Part 1

Although there have been some great survivors over the centuries, such as The Cock, The Bull, and The George, there have been those which have come and gone, leaving minimal trace.

Here are three of them.

The Queen's Head

I can tell you a few things about this place, except where it was located. It first appears in a document listing all the properties owned by Sir Edward Longueville, together with the tenant's name and the rent.
Michael Garment is the tenant of The Queen's Head Inn and in 1710 was paying £5 10s. a year in rent.  We can only assess prices by comparison with other costs at the time, but none of the other figures are helpful. A house on Gregg's Arbour, which might have been the forerunner of the Barley Mow, rents for 10 shillings a year, whereas the the Bakehouse Cottage with some land rents for £8. There are other houses which rent for 10 and 13 shillings. One might conclude that land was worth more than property.

So £5 10s a year for a commercial property is probably about right. There would have been the inn itself and several out buildings - stables, brewhouse, kitchen and privies. Michael Garment had been renting on a year-to-year basis since 1694 so one assumes that he was successful.

It was definitely located on the east side of the High Street as it was part of the Wolverton Estate. It was most likely to be found in that section that ran from Ram Alley (New Street) to the Wolverton Road.  argue this because by this date most of the land in the centre and north of the town had either been sold or in an identifiable lease.

It might also have been at the same location as one of the Angel Inns recorded later in the 18th century. Sir Frank Markham believed that this might have been at the site now occupied by The Retreat.

Which Queen the inn was named after will remain another mystery. As a name, The Queens Head has never been popular in Stony Stratford and this is its only known instance.

The Nag's Head

Another inn which appears in the same documents, and possibly near to the Queen's Head, was The Nag's Head. The Nag's Head property, which included a small close or back yard let for 12d. per annum cost Mr. Waggstaff the princely sum of 17 shillings a year which would suggest that the Nag's Head was neither very large or prosperous and may have been not much more than an alehouse. Like the Queen's Head this inn disappears from record in the 18th century. Was it renamed? Possibly. The name never again appears in Stony Stratford's history.

The Black Boy

Here is another inn which only makes a brief appearance, under a name which would not be acceptable nowadays. The location is unknown, apart from inferring that it must be on the east side.

Here is a transcription of the document, dated 1625:
Michael Boughey of Stony Stratford, innholder, and Margaret his wife, convey to John Parsons of Passenham, County Northampton, Gent., and inn called The Black Boy in Stony Stratford in the Parish of Wolverton.
Michael Boughey was a relative of Michael Hipwell and was probably at this time the Innholder of the Swan with Two Necks.