White's Directory 1853
Whatton and Aslacton
Description of the Parish and Villages
Whatton Parish includes the two townships of Whatton and Aslacton, which keep their poor separately, and contains together 764 inhabitants, and about 3,400 acres of land in the vale of the Smite, where that river is augmented by the Wipling.
Whatton village and township is on the south side of the Smite, and on the Grantham road, three miles east by south of Bingham. It was anciently called Wotone, from its watery situation, the flood water lying longer here than in many other places. it contains 404 inhabitants and 1,720 acres of land, and was enclosed in the year 1790, when 36a 1r 18p were allotted to the vicar, and 120a 3r 5p to the impropriator, G.S. Foljambe Esq., in lieu of tithes. The latter sold his allotment to Thomas Hall Esq. of Nottingham, who now owns 1,100 acres here, having purchased several farms of the lord of the manor, the Earl of Chesterfield, who still holds 320 acres, and the remainder belongs to several smaller freeholders. T.D. Hall Esq. erected in 1841 a large and elegant mansion, near the southern point of the parish, which stands on a gentle eminence, and commands extensive and picturesque views over the Vale of Belvoir, with Belvoir Castle, and the Leicestershire hills, seen in the distance. The mansion is built in the Elizabethan style, and is delightfully surrounded with pleasure gardens and thriving plantations. A great part of the village has been rebuilt, slated and stuccoed in the same style as the manor house, which gives an air of elegance and neatness rarely to be met with in an agricultural village.
Aslacton is a pleasant village and township on the north side of the Smite, one mile north by west of Whatton, and 2½ of Bingham. It contains 360 inhabitants and 1,250 acres of land, most of which is occupied by the owners, except the Abbey Farm (200 acres), which belongs to King's Cliffe School, in Northamptonshire, and the following allotments made at the enclosure, viz:- 65 acres to Alexander Heaton and William Bilbie Esq, in lieu of the impropriated tithes, and 44 acres to the vicar of Whatton, in lieu of the vicarial tithes. It consists of as many manors as it has owners, and was formerly a chapelry, but its chapel was in ruins many years ago, and a writer in the 62nd volume of the Gentlemen's Magazine says "part of the walls still remain. These are visible under a modern built house of brick and tile, and the chapel itself is now a common alehouse." The inhabitants now use Whatton church, and pay one third of the church rate. The Ambergate and nottingham branch of the Great Northern Railway passes through this parish, and has a neat station here.
The site of Aslacton manor house, which was the seat of Archbishop Cranmer, and many of his ancestors, is now occupied by the farm house of Mr Joseph Green. Near it may still distinctly be traced several moats, islands and other remains of the pleasure grounds, and at a short distance is a raised walk which leads to Orston, and is yet called Cranmer's Walk. At the west end, on crossing a moat, the visitor may ascend a square mount of considerable elevation, and from thence have an extensive prospect. Here are also two other mounts, said to have been raised by the Archbishop, but they have been greatly reduced by some of the former owners of the estate. On one of them, tradition says, the Archbishop "was wont to sit and survey the surrounding country, and listen to the tuneable bells of Whatton".
Descent of the Manors
After the Conquest, the manor of Whatton was of the fee of Gilbert de Gand. It was long held by the Whattons, Newmarches, and Gascoignes, the latter of whom sold it to the father of the first Earl of Chesterfield, but some of the lands were successively held by the Whalleys, Gelsthorps, and others. Aslacton was of the fees of Walter D'Agincourt, Ilbert de Lacey, and Gilbert de Gand, and a portion of it was long held by a family of its own name, and from them passed to the Cranmers, of whom below.
The church, which Adelina de Whatton gave to Welbeck Abbey, is dedicated to St John of Beverley. It has a handsome tower and spire with five bells, and contains many ancient monuments of the Whatton, Newmarch, Cranmer and other families. The whole was repaired and repewed in 1807 at the cost of £1,700, and the chancel, which was in a very decayed state, was rebuilt five or six years ago by T.D. Hall Esq., the owner of the impropriate lands and patron of the vicarage, which is valued in the King's books at £5 6s 8d, now at £212, and has 92 acres of glebe, including the allotments at the enclosure of Whatton and Aslacton. The Rev. J.I. Maltby is the incumbent, and the Rev. Brough Maltby B.A. the officiating curate. Subscriptions are now being raised for a general restoration of the church, which will cost about £300. T.D. Hall Esq. has given £200, and many others have already liberally contributed. There is a school in connection with the church for the use of the parish, under the superintendence of the Rev. Brough Maltby, of which T.D. Hall Esq. is a liberal supporter. The Wesleyans have a large chapel here.
The charities at Whatton consist of the poor's close (one acre), the tenant of which distributes three tons of coal yearly, and £12 left by John Clayter in 1738, now in the bank at 2½ per cent. In 1816, John Marriott left 20s yearly out of his farm at Aslacton, to be distributed in bread at Christmas.
Archbishop Cranmer, the great church reformer and martyr, was born in Aslacton in 1489 and became, in 1532, the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury. The life of this eminent prelate is the subject of a volume, therefore a brief notice of his last sufferings, under the persecution of Queen Mary, must here suffice.
After condemnation, he was induced to sign a recantation. But, having nobly denied his error, and withdrawn that confession, he was condemned to the stake, at which he suffered on the 21st of March 1556. To this he was brought without any official notice, though he has reason to expect it, and when tied to it he was obliged to listen to all the charges and aspersion of Dr Cole. But Cranmer boldly replied, "I believe every word and sentence taught by our Saviour Christ, his apostles, and the prophets of the Old and New Testament, but as to the Pope, I refuse him as Christ's enemy, or Anti-Christ, with all his false doctrines". So great was his sorrow for his recantation, and so determined was his spirit at the last hour, that he calmly held his right hand in the flames till it dropped off, saying, "this hand has offended". And this he was enabled to do, as his executioners had taken care to keep up a slow fire in order that he should suffer the utmost pain of his punishment, as a proof of their regard for Christian mercies. It has been stated that after his whole body had been reduced to ashes, his heart was found entire, and untouched by the fire, which by some of the bystanders was considered as an argument in favour of his hearty love of the truth, whilst others looked upon it as a proof of the heretical obduracy of that vital part, which would not yield even to the warm argument of a blazing Catholic fire.
[Transcribed by Clive Henly]