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Introduction

Northill| parish is large and contains a number of settlements. In the north of the parish lie the following hamlets (travelling west to east): Budna;Thorncote Green; Hatch; and Brook End. As these settlements are all quite small they are, in these pages, all dealt with together.

Domesday

As noted in the introduction to Northill, Eudo, son of Hubert, held three hides| in Northill itself. He also held eight hides in Beeston, of which four hides were held from him by a man named Norman who, interestingly, held the land in his own right from the king in 1066. His name certainly suggests he was a Norman, perhaps the reason why he was not ejected after the Conquest. These four hides contained four villagers, two slaves and a mill. The holding had been worth 50 shillings in 1066, though this had declined to 40 shillings by the time Eudo acquired it and remained so in 1086.

Three of Eudo’s eight hides in Beeston were in the occupation of Roland and included four villagers, two smallholders and a slave. The holding had been worth 40 shillings in 1066 which declined to 20 shillings when acquired by Eudo, but had risen to 30 shillings by 1086. These three hides had been held by Norman in 1066.

William Speke owned three and a half virgates| in Beeston which had been owned in 1066 by a thegn of King Edward the Confessor called Young Leofwain at which time it had been worth 20 shillings, a value halved by the time Speke acquired it. The Victoria County History considered that this land land in the vicinity of Thorncote and were attached to Warden Abbey as part of the Honour of Warden.

Beeston, Thorncote and Hatch Manor

Norman's holding described above became the Manor of Beeston, also known as the Manor of Beeston, Thorncote and Hatch which straddled the parish boundary between Northill and Sandy. On Eudo's death it reverted to the Crown and became attached to the Honour |of Lindon. By the 13th century it was owned by Drew de Sutton and, later, William Dru. In 1313 it was conveyed by John de Wresle to Walter de Huntingfold. By 1377 Agnes de Huntingfold had been dispossessed by William de Brounsford and the de Brounsford family alienated the manor to Nicholas Westerdale and they, in turn, conveyed it to Warden Abbey in 1386. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the manor reverted to the Crown and it was leased to various people before being granted in 1652 to John Eldred and others who divided the lands into quarters. The manor passed through Samuel Cockayne, Bromsall Throckmorton and Thomas Smith before being bought by Godfrey Thornton of Mogerhanger who certainly owned it in 1801 and it remained with the family through the century.

Buddenho Manor

Roland’s three hides described above became the Manor of Buddenho, also known as Berrells or Frenches Manor. Like Beeston, Thorncote and Hatch Manor they formed part of the Honour of Lindon after Eudo’s death. By the 13th century the manor was owned by Eustace de Sutton and in 1284 by Richard de Buddenho. By 1338 the manor had passed to John Stacy whose descendent Thomas, at some point before 1451, acquired the lands of John Berell and William Frenches (hence the alternative name of the Manor). The manor stayed in the family until 1519 when Edward Stacy granted the manor, with all his lands in Budna, Beeston, Thornecote and Hatch to ThomasUnderhill, Master of Pembroke Hall, CambridgeUniversity. In 1632 it was declared that the manor was long since extinct.

Land in Thorncote forming part of the Honour of Warden

Fulk le Moyne  and Robert Joce each held a quarter fee of this honouring the 13th century and their descendents held land in Thorncote in the next century. In 1309 Robert le Moyne’s cattle were seized by John de Bowels because le Moyne’s services to him were in arrear. In 1346 John Joce was recorded as holding lands from the Abbey and in 1428 the Honour lands were occupied by John Greenlane, John Cooke and Thomas Ivell, after which it is no longer mentioned in any surviving records.

Medieval Sudden Death

The following is taken from a transcription of Bedfordshire Coroners’ Rolls held by The National Archives made by R.F.Hunnisett as Volume 41 of the publications of the Bedfordshire Historic Records Society: “soon after nones (around 3pm) on 22 May 1272 William son of William Fraunceys of Budna went from his house in Budna with his son Hugh, age 10, and pursued his cattle in a messuage “atte” Hatch in Beeston to take seisin there [i.e. to round them up]. Afterwards Ranulf Bene of Beeston came, carrying a “spart” axe, and a quarrel immediately arose between them over the seisin, which Ranulph claimed to be unjust. William immediately assaulted Ranulph with “apik” axe, which he was carrying, and tried to strike him. He three times assaulted him thus, and Ranulph by misadventure struck William in self-defence above the left ear, giving him a wound a inch long and to the brain in the depth with the covering [?] of his axe so that he immediately fell. Hugh immediately raised the hue, which was followed. William was later taken home, and has the rites of the church and died on 24 May”.

At the inquest the coroner ruled that Ranulph had killed William by misadventure in self-defence. An inventory of Ranulph’s possessions found he had: half an acre of woodland; two houses; three acres three roods of wheat; two acres two and a half roods of barley; two acres of dredge; one and a half acres of peas; two geese; two hens; pasture; three oxen; three sheep; two bushels of wheat; a plough with yoke and irons; and a tub. The sum total of these possessions was a not inconsiderable £4/17/10. He was subsequently outlawed and all his possessions forfeited. Since no Englishry| was presented a murdrum fine was imposed on the whole Hundred|.

Ranulph returned to the house of Henry la Zuche and stayed there for some time after the act. Henry was arrested but pled that he was a member of the clergy and so not able to be tried by a civil court. He was nevertheless convicted and delivered to the Dean of Bedford for punishment. Gilbert Dru, overlord of the Manor of Beeston, Thorncote and Hatch was fined. It later appeared that Ranulph had had land in Beeston which was illegally taken over by Nicholas de Somerford, the Prior of St.Neots, Stephen de Budna and Henry la Zuche – all of whom, except the prior, being fined for it.

Today

Budna was first recorded in 12th century as Budenho; it now consists of little more than Budna Farm. The old farmhouse building was listed by the Department of Environment in 1980. It is considered to have been built around 1600, though it was altered in the 19th century. It is timber framed with brick infill and in the 19th century was partially rebuilt in brick. It has a thatched roof.

Thorncote Green consists of four farms (Village, Thorncote, Little Oak and Rotary) and a number of houses of which numbers 13, 15, 17 and 19 are all listed as of historic interest, all dating to the 17th century with timber framed construction; 13 and 17 have thatched roofs, 15 and 19 clay tiles. Number 19 (formerly divided into three) bears a plaque with the date 1757, presumably the date of significant alterations.

Hatch, consists of Hatch Farm and a number of houses, one of which used to be a public house called the Barley Mow. Most of the houses lie on hatch Common, a non-through road, though it continues as a path which turns sharply right as one walks down it and ends at a small reservoir.

Brook End today is somewhat reduced from its former size. The settlement was larger in the 19th century and evenly divided between the two sides of the road.