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1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"BEDFORD LEVEL, an extensive tract of flat marshy ground, also called the Fens, on the eastern coast of England, comprising parts of the six counties of Lincoln, Northampton, Huntingdon, Cambridge, Norfolk, and Suffolk. It is situated to the south of the Wash, extending from the river Welland, in the south-east part of Lincolnshire, to Milton, in Cambridgeshire; and from Peterborough, on the river Nen, in Northamptonshire, to Brandon, on the little Ouse, in Suffolk. It is about 40 miles in length from N. to S., and the same in its greatest breadth. The Level is divided into three parts, the North, Middle, and South Levels. The first is the district lying between the rivers Welland and Nen; the second, that between the Nen and the old Bedford river; and the third, that which lies to the south-east of the old Bedford river. The area of the Level is estimated at about 400,000 acres. Above half of that area is comprised in the Isle of Ely. When the Romans invaded Britain, the whole of this district, it is believed, was a great marsh, and its surface was considerably lower than at present. Roman ways were formed across its site, one of which is still to be seen. Writers of the 12th century describe the Fens as being at that time a most fruitful and agreeable country, with lakes and many rivers, woods, and orchards. But in the following century it was all changed; for in the year 1236, on occasion of a fierce storm which lasted above a week, the sea broke in and spread destruction over the country. Similar calamities occurred several times in subsequent years; the natural drainage was stopped, and the whole district again became a morass. In some parts it was covered with stagnant water above ten feet deep, and boats were necessary for communication between the towns and villages. In the 15th century, the first attempts were made to drain the Fens. One of these was Bishop Morton's Cut, from Peterborough to Guyhern, 40 feet in width, and now forming part of the river Nen. After several other failures, the task was undertaken afresh in the reign of Charles I., by Francis, Duke of Bedford. A charter was granted to the company formed under the presidency of that nobleman, and in three years their proposed works were completed. It was in honour of this important undertaking for the drainage of the Fens that they have since been called the Bedford Level. Fresh works, however, soon became necessary, and in 1664 the company received a charter of incorporation, with all necessary powers and regulations for maintaining and improving them. They are styled the Corporation of Bedford Level, and consist of a governor, 6 bailiffs, 20 conservators, and a commonalty. The principal cuts formed under their management are, the Old and New Bedford Rivers, Bevil's River, Sam's Cut, Peekirk, South-eau, and other great drains, besides many smaller ones. The most important recent works are the following:-A new channel; 6½ miles long, for the outfall of the Nen, by which a larger area has been reclaimed, and the Wisbeach navigation much improved; a new communication opened between Lincolnshire and Norfolk by a bridge over that channel, and a long bank across the sands at Sutton Wash; a new drain for the waters of the North Level; a new cut, 11 miles long, for the drainage of the Middle Level; and works for the drainage of Whittlesea Mere. The cost of the Nen outfall was £200,000; that of the new drain for the North Level, £150,000. The Old and New Bedford rivers, which run parallel to each other, are 21 miles in length and 1 mile apart. The former is 70, the latter 100 feet wide. They extend from Earith in Cambridgeshire, to near Downham in Norfolk."

"CHERWELL RIVER, rises at Charwelton, in the county of Northampton, and runs in a southerly direction to the Thames below Oxford; the river Snere joins it near Deddington, and the river Ray near Islip."

"CHIPPING-WARDEN, a hundred in the S.W. portion of the county of Northampton, contains the parishes of Ashton-le-Walls, Boddington, Byfield, Chipping-Warden, Edgcott, Eydon, Greatworth, Sulgrave, and Woodford, comprising 21,370 acres."

"CLELEY, a hundred in the S.W. portion of the county of Northampton; contains the parishes of Ashton, Easton-Neston, Grafton-Regis, Alderton, Cosgrove, Furthe, Hartwell, Potterspury, Passenham, Roade, Wicker, Stoke Bruerne, and Paulerspury, comprising 26,620 acres."

"CORBY, a hundred in the northern portion of the county of Northampton, contains the parishes of Blatherwycke, Great and Little Newton, Weston, Weekley, Wilbarston, Cottingham, East Carlton, Dingley, Fineshades, Stoke-Albany, Wakerley, Gretton, Corby, Sutton-Basset, Oakley, Brigstock, Ashley, Deene, Geddington, Great Weldon, Brampton, Balwick, Harringworth, Laxton, Rockingham, Stanion, comprising 59,400 acres."

"DANES MOOR, (or Duns Moor), in the county of Northampton, 4 miles N.E. of Banbury. Here the Yorkists, under the Earl of Pembroke, were defeated in 1469; and Charles I. quartered here before the battle of Edgehill, in 1642.

"ELKINGTON, a township and parish in the hundred of Guilsborough, county Northampton, 22 miles S. of Welford, its post town, and 9 N.E. of Rugby. It is situated in the vicinity of the Grand Union canal. There is no church, it having gone to decay many years back. Sir James Hey Langham, Bart., is lord of the manor, which formerly belonged to the monastery of Daventry, and subsequently to that of Pipewell."

"FAWSLEY HUNDRED, one of the 20 hundreds or subdivisions of the county of Northampton, situated in the W. part of the county It embraces the two ancient hundreds of Gravesend and Alwardeslea, and is bounded on the N. by the hundred of Guilsborough, on the E. by the hundred of Nobottle Grove, on the S. by the hundreds of Greens Norton and Chipping Warden, and on the W. by the county of Warwick. It included the parishes of Ashby St. Legers, Badby, Barby, Braunston, Catesby, Charwelton, Daventry, Dodford, Everdon, Farthingstone, Fawsley, Helledon, Kilsby, Litchborough, Newnham, Norton, Preston-Capes, Staverton, Stowe, Nine Churches, Weedon Beck, and Welton, comprising about 49,200 acres."

"GREENS NORTON HUNDRED, one of the 20 hundreds or subdivisions of the county Northampton, situated in the south-western part of the county. It is bounded on the N. by the hundred of Fawsley, on the E. by the hundred of Towcester, on the S. by the hundred of King's Sutton, and on the W. by the hundred of Chipping Warden, and includes the parishes of Canons Ashby, Blakesley, Bradden, Greens Norton, Maidford, Morton Pinkney, Plumpton, Silverstone, Slapton, Weedon-Loys, and Whittlebury, comprising 22,080 acres."

"GUILSBOROUGH HUNDRED, one of the 20 hundreds of county Northampton, situated in the north-western part of the county. It is bounded on the N. by the county of Leicester, on the E. by the hundreds of Orlingbury and Rothwell, on the S. by the hundred of Fawsley, and on the W. by the county of Warwick. It has within its limits the parishes of Cold Ashby, Clay Coton, Cottesbrook, Great Creaton, Crick, Long Buckley, Elkington, Guilsborough, West Haddon, Lilbourne, Naseby, Stanford, Thornby, Watford, Welford, Winwick, Yelvertoft, and a portion of Ravensthorpe, comprising about 43,300 acres."

"HAMFORDSHOE, a hundred in the county Northampton. It contains the parishes of Mears-Ashby, Great Deddington, Earls-Barton, Ecton, Holcot, Sywell, Wellingbro, and Wilby, comprising 16,530 acres."

"HIGHAM-FERRERS, a hundred in county Northampton, contains the parishes of Bozeat, Chelveston, Easton Maudit, Hargrave, Higham-Ferrers, Irchester, Newton Bromshold, Raunds, Ringstead, Rushden, Stanwick, Strixton, Wollaston, and part of Farndish, with the ext parish place of Higham Park, comprising about 30,430 acres. It gives names to a deanery in the archdeaconry of Northampton, and diocese of Peterborough."

"HUXLOE, a hundred in the county of Northampton, contains the parishes of Great and Little Addington, Aldwinkle, Barnwell, Barton Seagrave, Burton Latimer, Cranford, Denford, Finedon, Grafton Underwood, Irthlingborough, Islip, Kettering, Lilford, Lowick, Sudborough, Twywell, Warkton, and Woodford, comprising 41,790 acres. This hundred is mentioned in the Domesday Survey as Hochesla."

"KINGS SUTTON, a hundred in county Northampton.

"NASSABURGH, a liberty within the borough of Peterborough, county Northampton."

"NAVISFORD, a hundred in the county of Northampton, it contains the parishes of Clapton, Pilton, Stoke Doyle, Thorpe-Achurch, Thrapston, Titchmarsh, and Waden hoe, comprising an area of 13,090 acres."

"NEN, (or Nyne), a river of county Northampton, rises at Chapel Well, near Naseby, and passing through part of Cambridgeshire, falls into the Cross Keys Wash, near Sutton St. Mary, in Lincolnshire.

"NOBOTTLE-GROVE, a hundred in the county of Northampton. It is mentioned in Domesday Survey as Nevebote and Nivebottle. It contains the parishes of Althorpe, Chapel-Brampton, Church-Brampton, Brington, Brokhall, Bugbrook, Dallington, Duston, Floore, East Haddon, Harleston, Harpole, Nether and Upper Heyford, Holdenby, Kislingbury, Upton, Whilton, and part of Ravensthorpe, comprising an area of 34,160 acres."

"ORLINGBURY, a hundred in county Northampton, contains the parishes of Brixworth, Broughton, Cransley, Hannington, Hardwick, Great and Little Harrowden, Isham, Lamport, Old, Orlingbury, Pitchley, Scaldwell, and Walgrave, comprising an area of 29,600 acres."

"PETERBOROUGH, (or Nassaburgh), a liberty in the county of Northampton, containing, besides the city of Peterborough, the parishes of Bainton, Barnack, Borough-Far, Castor, with chapelries of Sutton and Upton, Etton, Eye, Glinton, Helpstone, Marholm, Maxey, Newborough, Northborough, Paston, with the chapelry of Werrington; Peakirk, St. Martin Stamford Baron; Thornhaugh, Ufford, Wansford, Whitring, and part of St. John Baptist, comprising 51,430 acres, exclusive of the city of Peterborough.

"POLEBROOK, a hundred in the county of Northampton, contains the parishes of Barnewell St. Andrew, Benefield, Hemington, Oundle, Polebrook, Warmington, and parts of Luddington, Thurning, and Winwick, comprising an area of 19,840 acres."

"ROTHWELL, a hundred in the county of Northampton, contains the parishes of Arthingworth, Barford, Little Bowden, Braybrook, Clipston, Desborough, Draughton, East Farndon, Glendon, Harrington, Haselbeech, Kelmarsh, Loddington, Maidwell, Marston-Trussell, Great Oxenden, Rothwell, Rushton, Sibbertoft, Sulby, Thorpe-Malsor, and part of Theddingworth, comprising an area of 42,640 acres."

"SPELHOE, a hundred in the county of Northampton, contains the town of Northampton, and the parishes of Abington, Great and Little Billing, Boughton, Kingsthorpe, Moulton, Overstone, Pisford, Spratton, and Weston-Favell, comprising an area of 1.7,650 acres."

"TOVE, (or Tow), a river of county Northampton, joins the Ouse near Stoney Stratford.

"TOWCESTER, a hundred, county Northampton, contains the parishes of Abthorp, Cold Higham, Gayton, Pattishall, Tiffield, and Towcester, comprising about 27,490 acres."

"WELLAND, a river rising near Sibbertoft, on the borders of counties Leicester and Northampton, and, after a course of 70 miles, falls into the Wash at Fosdyke in Lincolnshire."

"WILLYBROOK, a feeder of the river Nene, rises near Dene, county Northampton."

"WILLYBROOK, a hundred in the N.E. division of county Northampton, contains the parishes of Apethorpe, Colley Weston, Cotterstock, Duddington, Easton, Fotheringhay, Glapthorn, Kingscliffe, Nassington, Southwick, Tansor, Wood Newton, Yarwell, and part of Sutton, comprising together 27,490."

"WYMERSLEY, a hundred in county Northampton, contains the parishes of Castle Ashby, Blisworth, Brafield, Cogenhoe, Collingtree, Courteenhall, Denton, Grendon, Hardingstone, Horton, Great and Little Houghton, Milton, Piddington, Preston Deanery, Quinton, Rothersthorpe, Whiston, Wootton, and Yardley Hastings, comprising 36,060 acres."