RAVENSTON, in the hundred and deanery of Newport, lies on the borders of Northamptonshire, nearly six miles north of Newport-Pagnell, and about three miles west of Olney. A priory of Austin canons was founded at this place by King Henry III. in the year 1255. It was suppressed in 1525, and given to Cardinal Wolsey, but afterwards resumed by the crown, and by three successive grants passed to Sir Francis Bryan, Sir Robert Throckmorton, and Sir Moyle Finch: the last grant was in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and bears the date 1591. It is now the property of George Earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham a descendant of the last-mentioned grantee. There are no remains of the conventual buildings. The manor was anciently in the Giffards and Wahuls; of the latter it was purchased by Peter de Chaceport, archdeacon of Wells and master of the wardrobe, whose son Henry gave it to King Henry III. That monarch granted it, with the advowson of the rectory to his newly founded convent at this place, and it has ever since been annexed to the priory estate. Ravenston was for some time a seat of the family of Finch. The great Lord Chancellor Nottingham was described as of this place when he was created a baronet in 1660; he attained the highest honors of his profession, and was advanced to an earldom. The late learned Mr. Justice Blackstone speaks in the highest terms of his abilities and integrity, and calls him a thorough master and zealous defender of the laws and constitution of his country: his eloquence was held in such esteem by his contemporaries, that it obtained him the appellation of the English Roscius and the English Cicero. Lord Chancellor Nottingham died in 1682, and was buried at Ravenston, where a most magnificent monument ws erected to his memory by his son, with his effigies finely executed in white marble, in his chancellor's robes, reclining under a canopy supported by four pillars of black marble of the Corinthian order. The epitaph is printed in Collin's Peerage.
The Earl of Winchelsea is impropriator of the great tithes which belonged to the priory, and patron of the vicarage. Lord Chancellor Nottingham having purchased the fee farm rent of the manor of Ravenston, amounting to 84 l. per ann. gave it as an endowment for the vicarage. He founded a hospital also at this place for six poor men and six poor women, who have a weekly allowance of 3s. 6d. each, and a gown every year. The chancellor also gave 10 l. per ann. towards ornamenting the church. Mr. Chapman, the late vicar, founded a charity school for all the poor children of this parish, for which he intended a large endowment, but it is disputed in chancery by his heirs; the master receives at present a salary of 12 l. per annum.