Irthlingborough Historical Society - News Page
Chairman: Roy York Secretary: Dorothy Brawn Treasurer: Jackie Thorogood
Archivist: Jackie Morton
Irthlingborough Baptist Chapel
The first purpose-built nonconformist chapel in Irthlingborough was erected by the Baptists in Meeting Lane in c1723 for a society which was reorganised as a Strict Baptist church in 1770. Galleries were added to the building in 1794. Further rooms were built at one end and the interior refitted c1884, and other rooms were added at the back in 1930 and 1941.
John White, a shoe manufacture of national and international repute was born and brought up in Irthlingborough. His memories of the Baptist Chapel in Meeting Lane are interesting; “I have witnessed many baptisms in the little Baptist Chapel at Irthlingborough. There was a forbidding pool in front of the pulpit where the baptisms were to take place. In the pool the Minister would take his position and wait for the participants to come round, the men from the Vestry and the girls from another with everyone clad in very light clothing for the purpose. The Minister would them immerse them in the water as the congregation, always a large one would sing ‘Praise ye the Lord, Hallelujah’. My uncle was a fervent believer in Baptism. As he rose from the water he shouted, ‘Repeat it – repeat it!’ He was most earnest in his faith. He still managed to marry three times, each succeeding wife more prosperous than the one who went before!”
A small graveyard adjoins the building and the names recorded on the memorials confirm that many prominent families from the town attended the Chapel. The inscriptions also give an insight into the problems of early death, and the scourge of infant mortality faced by those living in the town during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
The gravestones of John and Elizabeth Scarborough illustrate the point; although John was aged 77 when he died in 1893, Elizabeth had died in 1881 aged 61; their youngest daughter [her name is not recorded] died in her 24th year; son Robert died in Northampton after a short illness in his 18th year; John was aged just 3 years and 2 months at his death in 1853; John William was just a year old, whilst two others died in infancy.
Another stone stirs memories of Elizabeth Beall who died in 1914 aged 93 years. Such memories take us back to the time when her shop, in a cottage close to the Cross was just one of ten grocers’ shops in the High Street. Elizabeth, sorry Miss Beall – she was never referred to by anything more familiar, by anyone – was employed as assistant to the original owners of the shop John and Mary Beall. Their 19 year old son Josiah, however died in 1858, to be followed ten years later by John and Mary. Miss Beall then took over as the shopkeeper along with her cousin Stephen Beall, a draper from Bletsoe. After Stephen’s death in 1894 Lydia Beall, a niece arrived from Lincoln to help in the shop. Elizabeth Beall was regarded as a most formidable lady, very correct in both manner and dress, and a force to be reckoned with.
Yes, graveyards can make very interesting reading.
John Trimming, the Baptist Minister recorded in 1851 that the chapel could seat 230, and also accommodate a further 80 to 90 standing. The Religious Census of that same year informs us that on Sunday, 30th March the congregation at the morning service numbered 170, between 250 and 300 attended in the afternoon, and a further 200 in the evening.
It is a great pity that John Trimming did not include details of the number of children attending Sunday School that day. Like the other churches in the town the Baptists did sterling work in the field of education before compulsory schooling became the norm. On Sunday, 21st July, 1912 services to commemorate the 96th Anniversary of the Sabbath School were held. Pastor E.Marsh of Kent was engaged to preach the sermons at both morning and evening services, and also to address scholars and friends in the afternoon. The Secretary’s Report reveals that 72 girls and 68 boys were on the school roll at that time. We are also informed that £5-6-11d was spent on the purchase of books for prizes, whilst Reward Bibles for the year 1912 cost £1-10-0d.
All Saints Church, Irthlingborough
Up to 1511 Vicars of All Saints Church were appointed by the Abbott & Convent of Peterborough. The first recorded vicar was Master Geoffrey de Warmington. We have no date of induction but he resigned in 1274 to become Vicar of St Peter’s. The unfortunate William de Bolewyck (Bulwick), instituted 30th May, 1347 died in 1349 of the Black Death.
Charles Carter was instituted to the Rectory of All Saints Church in 1664. He had been educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge where he was a class-mate of Samuel Pepys. In his entry in the diary for Wednesday, 8th February, 1660 Pepys records, “….and afterwards Mr Carter, my old friend at Cambridge, meeting me as I was going out of my office I took him to the Swan, and in the way I met with Captain Lidcott, and so we three went together and drank there,” and later, “I returned to Mr Carter…..and thence to a Rhenish wine house, and in our way met with Mr Hoole, where I paid for my cozen Roger Pepys his wine, and after drinking we parted.” Eventually the day ends with Pepys lamenting, “I came home and to bed. Went to bed with my head not too well by my too much drinking today, and I had a boil under my chin which troubled me greatly.”
Dr William Knowler was instituted as the last Vicar of All Saints on 21st September, 1726. A pluralist, he was also Rector of Boddington. Following his death at Boddington on 26th January, 1774 the parishes of All Saints and St Peter’s were united.
All Saints Church stood about a quarter of a mile east of St Peter’s in what is now known as Coneygeres Field. A large part of the village was centred around the church.
The earliest church can be dated to mid to late 12th century. The foundations suggested a nave, chancel and apsidal presbytery. That building was much smaller than St Peter’s. The church was later totally rebuilt with a tower. A later fire again necessitated further rebuilding, when a south aisle and porch were added.
As the population began to migrate west towards St Peter’s the houses around All Saints were left empty and neglected. As early as 1428, there were only 8 parishioners. Following the Episcopal Visitation of 1570 the churchwardens were admonished that… “the glasse windows be broken that XX nobles (£6-13-4d) will not make them sufficient.” The churchyard was described as “in confusion” and a complaint was made of “Popish practices.” The wardens were given six months to amend the matters. Nothing appears to have been done however - in fact one churchwarden reputedly punched the bishop on the chin!
At the Visitation of 1637 the church was described as “utterly ruinated. There is no service said there, no divine offices performed there…..the parishioners are enforced to repaire to St Peter’s which is not capable to receive them all…..needs to have the church aforesaid re-edified or else have the church of St Peter’s enlarged….”
The state into which the All Saints Church had fallen by 1637 could well be explained by a letter dated 17th September, 1562 from John Mountsteven to Sir William Cecil, later Lord Burghley in which the latter was offered the lead from the roof of the church for use in his new building of Burghley House, near Stamford. The price agreed was £10. Mountsteven was a notary public, and a friend of the bishop, Edmund Scramber. By the mid 19th century very little evidence of the church, churchyard or other buildings remained above ground.
Between 31st July and 18th December, 1965 the site of the church was excavated by Mrs Gwen Brown on behalf of the Ministry of Public Works and Buildings. The bulk of the work was carried out by the people of Irthlingborough and the surrounding area, and the local children, without whose help the site could not have been cleared. Alan Pack and Sidney Howlett also gave great assistance to Mrs Brown.
Masonry and skeletons had been disturbed by Mr Paul Brightwell when his bulldozer levelled about a quarter of an acre of rough ground in the field known as Coneygears, or Priest’s Close. It became apparent that this must be the remains of the old church which had lain buried for so long.
About 400 skeletons had been buried within the church and alongside the outer walls. All the skeletons were of the long-headed group, and the males were of large stature, with well developed backbones and large hands and feet as though they were used to hard and heavy work. Chronic and advanced rheumatic complaints were common. Very many had dental irregularities and abscesses were common. Many teeth had worn down to the gum. The average age at death was 35-40 years. Not surprisingly, small children formed a high percentage of the deaths. There was even a children’s corner at the east end of the cemetery.
On Rogation Day, 1931 Rector Percy Lidster presided at an open air service on the site of All Saints and the congregation numbered 300.
The period between 1658 and 1670 must have been a time of great uncertainty in Irthlingborough with no fewer than five priests serving the needs of the parishioners – William Wood 1658-62, Humphrey Lucas 1662-63, Mr Salisbury 1663-64, Isaac Massy 1664-66 & Richard Kingston 1666-70.
With such regular upheaval it is hardly surprising that some people began to feel that their faith did not fit within the traditional doctrine promulgated within their parish churches. They developed individual religious beliefs arising from their personal consciences and felt compelled to live by such religious beliefs and inner revelations. They believed that direct experience of God was available to all people and could be obtained without the help of what many described as ‘hired clergy’ or through outward sacraments. For this they suffered great hardships and deprivation as severe penalties and punishments were meted out to any who were ‘presented’ by the Churchwardens for failure to worship regularly in their own parish church. These people became known as Quakers.
In 1801 Richard Glover settled his estates in Irthlingborough for the poor people of the Society of Friends, or Quakers by which £10 per year was to be applied to the poor of the parish at Christmas, and a further £10 to be spent providing bread on New Year’s Day which was to be distributed amongst all the poor of the village.
There was no purpose-built Quaker meeting house in Irthlingborough but when Glover made his bequest Quakers had been meeting here, although not necessarily regularly, for over one hundred and forty years. In his excellent book Finedon otherwise Thingdon John Bailey informs us that in 1659 John Garratt of Finedon was arrested at a Quaker meeting in Irthlingborough and was committed to jail. He was considered to have been a little bit unlucky as there had been twenty seven at the meeting, all of whom could have been imprisoned, but the jail was so full only two could be accommodated. An entry in St Peter’s Burial Register in that same year records that Doraty, wife of William Ward, was buried ‘in the orchard’ – being a Quaker she preferred not to be buried in the Churchyard.
The passing of the Toleration Act of 1689 gave dissenters, including Quakers, permission to meet and hold services in chapels, or meeting houses of their own. Finedon was a stronghold of Quakerism and their meeting house, erected in 1690 is the oldest in the country.
There is some evidence to suggest that during the second half of the eighteenth century a house in the High Street was regularly used as a Friends’ Meeting House. Quakerism had begun to decline in Finedon at about that time so it is quite probable that any remaining adherents would have supported ‘The Meeting’ here. In fact a document recording a marriage according to Quaker rites names both bride and bridegroom, as well as several of the witnesses as residents of Finedon.
Whereas William Harlock of Thingdon, farmer,and Mary York, daughter of Thomas York of Thingdon aforesaid, having declared their intentions of taking each other in Marriage before several meetings of the People called Quakers in Arthlingborough, and the Proceedings of the said William Harlock and Mary York after due Enquiry and deliberate Consideration were allowed by the said Meetings, they appearing clear of all others and having consent of Parents and Relations concerned.
Now these are to certify to all it may concern, that for the Accomplishment of their said Marriage this twenty second day of the eighth Month called August in the year one thousand and seven hundred and sixty seven. They appeared in a Publick Assembly of the aforesaid People and others in their Meeting house at Arthlingborough and he, the said William Harlock taking the said Mary York by the Hand did openly and solemnly declare as followeth – “Friends, in the fear of the Lord and before the Assembly, I take this my friend Mary York to be my wife, promising through Divine assistance to be unto her a faithful and loving husband till the Lord by death please to separate us.” (Mary then likewise made her declaration.) And the said William Harlock and Mary York as a further Confirmation thereof and in Testimony thereunto, did then and there to those Present set their Hands.
Twenty three of those present witnessed the document, prominent amongst those names being York, Wallis, Woolston and Harlock,
Perks for the Rector!
William Trigg died in 1729 aged about 83 years – a very good age in those days. He had lived in a substantial house in the town and also owned several other properties in Irthlingborough, Rushden and Finedon. There can be no doubt that he was a very wealthy man and a highly respected member of the community. His family tombstone now forms part of the floor of the John Pyel Chapel.
As part of several educational and charitable bequests in his will he directed his executors “…to cause to be paid unto the Minister of Irthlingborough aforesaid for the time being the sume of twenty shillings of good and lawfull money of Great Britain to preach two sermons yearly one on every good fryday and the other on every fifth day of November at two equal payments and that immediately after the sermons are preached...”
The requirement to preach a sermon on Good Friday fell into abeyance quite early on, presumably as one would be included in the service of the day as a matter of course. Although the remuneration for the other sermon was reduced to five shillings the William Trigg Sermon continued to be preached regularly on Bonfire Night for over 250 years. Generally it became expected that the Rector would preach an anti-Catholic sermon and recall the infamous Gunpowder Plot as several of the plotters had had links with the Vaux family and had visited their house here in Irthlingborough. Rector John Phillips (1975–1988) felt that the requirement to preach such a sermon flew in the face of the excellent inter-church relationships which existed in the town and declared that, as a matter of conscience it was a thing which he could not do.
267 years after it was established The William Trigg Charity was wound up on Sunday, 5th November 1995 and Canon Roger Knight preached the final Trigg Sermon during Evensong. Members of the Historical Society re-enacted scenes from Trigg’s life before handing over to the Rector the customary remuneration to which he was justly entitled, in good and lawful traditional English money – a Crown piece. The service was recorded by BBC Radio Northampton.
Note: In Trigg’s will very little regard was paid to the niceties of spelling and grammar – in fact only two full stops appear in 411 lines, and not a single comma!
The first 50 years was a story of stout hearted fighting for the cause, inspired and encouraged by boundless faith which kept the flag flying when all seemed hopeless.
It was in about 1880 that the very first meetings were held in the village. They were worked from Wellingborough by Capt & Mrs Bishop and Lieutenant Bishop. The meetings were conducted by girl Cadets from the Finedon Garrison. The message was taken to the people at meetings often held in backyards or any suitable place behind rows of houses.
It was in 1884 that the Irthlingborough organisation started as a separate Corps. The first room in which meetings were held was let to the Corps by Mr B.Butcher and this was above a stable and pigsty, thus the choruses sung by the members above were often accompanied by a chorus from the animals below.
On Monday evening a “Hosanna Meeting” was held at the Salvation Army Warehouse
which consisted of songs and selections played by the band of the Wellingboro’ Corps.
A small charge was made to meet the expense of seating and the cost of the gas fittings etc.
Wellingborough & Kettering News
April 12th 1884
Lieut. Henry Otway was one of the officers at that time and in later years he was promoted to the rank of Corporal. He died in 1925.
Peter Cotton, a shoe-hand from Rushden was summoned for disturbing the congregation of the Salvation Army at Irthlingborough on June 28th 1896.
Capt. George Gates said that whilst a Special Service was being held the defendant, who was drunk, disturbed the proceedings and had to be turned out by the police.
He was fined 5/- and ordered to pay 6/- costs.
Harry Bollard, a riveter of Irthlingborough was summoned for assaulting William Issitt on January 1st 1897. The disturbance arose through the defendant having interrupted a Salvation Army service.
He too was fined 5/- and 6/- costs.
It was a great struggle to keep going and after a time the room was closed down. In due course, Mr George Bayes, the Sanitary Inspector contacted Northampton H.Q. and urged them to re-start the Corps and in 1894 an empty workshop, standing on the site now occupied by the Conservative Club, was leased from Mr Butcher for six months.
The Commanding Officers were Capt Blackwell and Lieut Paine. William Langley JP was appointed Corps Secretary and Treasurer. There was plenty of local opposition to contend with but this time the Army had now come to stay!
Mercury –March 23rd 1894
The Salvation Army have recently acquired the warehouse of Mr B.Butcher and after having it renovated it was opened on Saturday by Captain Prentice and Lieutenant Harrison.
On Sunday the Army had quite a field day. The band of the Rushden Corps paraded the village and drew together a large number of people.
All the services were crowded.
The week before the opening of the new Barracks the ‘newly formed’ Irthlingborough Corps was being congratulated in The War Cry for increasing its sales to four dozen copies
In 1896 a big move forward was made when the Corps leased a hall in Lees Lane built by Mr A Dunmore at a rent of 11/- a week. This was opened by Capt King & Lieut. Knowles with the Kettering Citadel Band attending. Well known members of the Corps at that time included Mr J.Mills, Fred Wright, Mr J.Neville, Wm Burnham, Mr A.Drage & Mr A.Spriggs.
Major Coates, who in 1934 was in charge of the Cardiff Division, went into training from the Irthlingborough Corps.
The hall in Lees Lane continued in use until 1934. The footpath leading up to Victoria Street is still known as Army ’ill by older residents.
Confirmation that the Army really had come to stay in Irthlingborough was provided in October 1935 with the opening of a purpose-built citadel in Spinney Road.
Mercury 26th October, 1935
NEW ARMY HALL AT IRTHLINGBOROUGH
LARGE ATTENDANCE AT OPENING CEREMONY
The Salvation Army at Irthlingborough is now in possession of its first permanent structure in the town. On Saturday the new Army Hall, which was built to commemorate the jubilee of the Salvation Army in the town, was opened. The building, which has been constructed on up-to-date lines at a cost of £1450 is in Spinney Road. It is the result of 6 or 7 years’ efforts. The programme commenced with a short service out of doors when the band, conducted by Bandmaster R.S.Langley accompanied the singing. After that Col. Charles E.Bax, representing H.Q. London presented the key of the hall to Alderman C.W.Horrell of Rushden who unlocked the door. He then declared the hall open.
A service followed at which Mr W.F.Corby of Raunds presided. Mr.W.Langley, the Young Peoples’ Sergeant Major welcomed the gathering. Col. E.Bax conveyed the greetings of Headquarters and then presented a baton to Bandmaster Robert Langley which was the gift of Mr.T.Thompson an admirer of the band.
£35 RAISED AT SERVICE
The first statements were presented by Brig. H.Neeve who reported that the new hall had been constructed at a cost of £1450. An allocation of £600 was received from Headquarters. There was £392 in the bank collected by the Irthlingborough Corps and a mortgage of £400 was guaranteed by Headquarters. This left a deficit of £58. An appeal for funds to wipe off the deficit brought quick response. Promises and donations from people on the platform and others, and the collection were the means of raising £35.
Prayers were given by Rev. H.J.Blackmore of the Methodist Church and Major Spackman, Assistant Divisional Commander. Pastor H.W.Caten gave a scripture reading and the benediction was pronounced by the Rector of Irthlingborough, Rev. L.W.Wright.
Those present at the indoor or outdoor services in addition to those already mentioned included; Mr J.Newell, Deacon of the Baptist Chapel; Councillors Mrs W.S.Palmer, G.Clarke, R.Bugby, G.Bayes, J.Webb, W.Favell, J.M.Crouch, Mr Wilson (Clerk), Mr & Mrs E.Turnbull (Surveyor), Mr J.T.Hawthorne (Finedon), Mr George Nicholls (Peterborough), Mr W.F.Conley, Alderman C.W.Horrell; Adjutant E.Cook representing Divisional Staff Northampton; Major & Mrs Beaumont of Wellingborough; Capt. M.Glover of Chipping Norton, a former officer at Irthlingborough; Adj. M.Langston & Capt. N.Gibbs of Irthlingborough Corps, and Mrs Neeve of Northampton; Capt. M.Langley of Isham; Mr W.C.Featherstonhaugh; Mr E.Thompson representing the builders and Mr G.Langley, President & Mr C.C.Keech, Managing Secretary who were representing Irthlingborough Co-operative Society.