[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]
"TODDINGTON, a parish and ancient market town in the hundred of Manshead, county Bedford, 15 miles south of Bedford, and 7 north of the Dunstable railway station. This place was the scene of a battle between the Romans under Aulus Plautius and the Britons, in which the latter were defeated on Conger Hill. In the reign of Henry III. the manor, which was a free warren, was given to Sir Paulinus Peyvre, who rebuilt the ancient manor-house, and obtained for the inhabitants the privilege of a market. The manor-house, successively the residence of the Duke of Cleveland and of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Stafford, was visited by Queen Elizabeth and James I., and was the place of concealment of the Duke of Monmouth after the battle of Sedgmoor. The town is situated on an eminence. It had formerly an hospital and a market-house, but these have long since disappeared. The straw plait manufacture is carried on to some extent. The population in 1851 was 2,438, and in 1861, 2,433. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ely, value 8830. The church, dedicated to St. George, is a Gothic structure, ornamented with grotesque sculptures of various animals. The interior contains monuments to the Cheney and Wentworth families; among them is one to Henrietta, Baroness Wentworth, who is said to have died of grief, a few months after the execution of James, Duke of Monmouth, to whom she bad been betrothed, and another to Lady Maria Wentworth. The Baptists, Wesleyans, and Primitive Methodists have chapels, and there are six almshouses: Market day, formerly on Thursday, was changed to Saturday in 1316. Fairs are held on 25th April, first Monday in June, 2nd November, and 6th December."
"CHALTON, a hamlet in the parish of Toddington, in the county of Bedford, 3 miles north of Dunstable."
"FANCOTT, a hamlet in the parish of Toddington, in the county of Bedford, 2 miles south east of Toddington."
"TYTHE, a small hamlet in the parish of Toddington, in the county of Bedford, 2½ miles east north east of Houghton Regis."
The church of St. George is a noble cruciform structure, chiefly in the Early English and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, with sacristy of two stories. clerestoried nave of four bays, aisles; transepts, south porch, and a central embattled tower of three stages, with angle turret, and containing a clock, with chimes, erected during 1862-75, 8 bells, cast in 1792 and a sanctus bell, dated 1665: the nave arcades and the lower stage of the tower are Early English; the upper, stage, aisle and clerestory, Perpendicular: the north aisle and transept, as well as the vestry, have a singular cornice, highly enriched with grotesque figures of human beings, beasts and birds: the roof displays elaborately carved, figures of angels holding shields, wreaths: and other ornaments : in the south transept, under an arched recess in the south wall, are two tombs with recumbent effigies of marble the westernmost being that of a knight in armour: with surcoat of his arms; and on either side an angel holding across his breast an inscribed scroll; the figure represents Thomas Peyvre: 1429, a descendant of Paulinus Peyvre, who held the manors in the reign of Henry III.; the others effigy is that of a female in mantle and richly jewelled wreath, representing Margaret (Loring), wife of the preceding Thomas the inscriptions, now lost, are given in Cott. MSS. Cleop, c. iii. f. 8, Brit. Mus.: against the west wall is the cross-legged effigy of a knight with the arms of Peyvre on his surcoat, supposed to represent Nicholas Peyvre, 1361-2, father of the above; another tomb the sides of which are adorned with shields of arms, is inscribed to Anne [Broughton), 1561, wife of Sir Thomas Cheyne kt. K.G. and warden of the Cinque Ports; the next is an alabaster tomb, now much mutilated and partly of brick, with an effigy in rich armour of Henry Cheyne, baron Cheyne of Toddington, 1587, son of the foregoing; and one more tomb bears the effigy of his wife Jane (Wentworth), 1614, attired in wimple and mantle: in the north transept are several tombs of the Wentworth family, who held the manor in the 17th and 18th centuries, lincluding one erected at a cost of £2,000, to Henrietta Maria, baroness Wentworth, 1686, daughter and sole heir of Thomas, Lord Wentworth, and Philadelphra (Cary) his wife, both of whom, as well as Thomas, earl Of Cleveland, are interred beneath: on the opposite side is a large canopied mural monument to Maria, 1632, eldest daughter of Thomas, earl of Cleveland and Ann (Crofts), his wife; here are also buried William, 1623, and Charles, 1622, sons of the same peer: in the chancel is a monument to Gyles Bruse esq. 1595, youngest son of Sir John Bruse, of Great Wenham, Suffolk kt. placed by his sister Alice; his tomb, with inscription, being under the chancel arch; there are also brasses to Thomas Claver, rector, 1654; and Thomas Pennington, gent. 1643, and some fragments: King James I. attended divine service in this church on the 24th July, 1608: a portion of the fabric was restored, at a cost of about £3,000, by the Rev. John Clegg M.A: rector, 1862-75, and the Rev. C. E. Haslam, rector 1876-86; and during the year 1893 further restoration was carried out at an additional cost of nearly £1,000 and in the course of the work, during the period 1862-86, several mural paintings were discovered on both sides of the nave and over the north door: there are sittings for 750 persons. The register dates from 1540, and is in a fair state of preservation; the 4th vol. contains a large and interesting collection of Briefs from 1653 to 1810. Abraham Hartwell, rector here, according to Lysons, in the 17th century, was a learned writer of that period, and bequeathed his library for the use of his successors. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
Here are places of worship for Baptists, Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists ; the Wesleyans have day and Sunday schools here. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
A Cemetery of 1 acre 3 roods was formed in 1856, and is under the control of the Parish Council. A Reading Room was established in 1897. The straw plait manufacture is carried on here to some extent. There is a fire brigade, consisting of 1 superintendent and 12 firemen and the engine house is in the Church square. The market was originally held on Thursday, but was changed to Saturday by a charter of King Edward II. in 1316. Fairs are held on April 29th, the first Monday in June, November 2nd and December 6th, and a statute fair on the Wednesday before Old Michaelmas Day. Toddington Hospital, founded 21 Henry VI. (1442-3) by John Broughton, for a warden and three poor men, and dedicated to St. John the Baptist, was dissolved by Sir Thomas Cheyne, and subsequently seized by the Crown. The charity estate, comprising a small farm and house, produces about £60 yearly, and is administered by trustees; a charge on Herne farm of £20 a year is for three widows. In a field belonging to1 the late William Harbett esq. in this parish, a variety of antiquities, viz. black earthen pots filled with small bones, also spear heads, swords and iron helmets, have been found. This place was the seat of Sir Paulinus Peyvre, who was steward of the royal household of Henry III. and erected here a fine manor house: here also resided in the reign of Henry VIII. Sir Thomas Cheney K.G. and his son Sir Henry Cheney kt. afterwards Baron Cheney of Toddington; the latter built a magnificent residence here, about half a mile from the church, forming a quadrangle 210 feet on the north and south sides; it was at one time the residence of Henrietta Maria Baroness Wentworth: an oak tree still exists in the park in which her initials are carved; a portion of this mansion is now occupied by William Smith Cowper Cooper esq. the present lord of the manor and principal landowner. The grounds, covering about 80 acres, are let with, the farm. The soil is marl and clay; subsoil, gravel. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, beans and peas. The area is about 5,528 acres of land and 7 of water; rateable value, £13,719; the population in 1891 was 2,087. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
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