Hiltone (xii cent.), Hulton (xiii cent.)
Hilton was not formed into a parish until 1873,
before which date it was a chapelry of Fen Stanton.
It lies on the south-east boundary of the county
and covers 1,263 acres of heavy, rich loam, with a
subsoil of Oxford Clay. It is for the most part low
lying, being about 50 ft. above the ordnance datum
and nowhere rising to more than 100 ft. The land is
The village, which is one of the prettiest in the
county, lies off the east side of the road from Potton
to St. Ives, about four miles south-west from the
latter town. The church stands at the south end
of the village, and to the east of it is Church Farm,
which was unfortunately burnt down some years ago.
A 17th-century chimney stack and a square 18thcentury brick dovecot, however, have survived. To
the north-east is the large village green, around
which stand the principal houses. On the south
side is the Grange Farm, on the site probably of the
grange of the Abbey of Tarant (co. Dorset). Adjoining it are two tithe barns of the 16th century or
perhaps earlier. The old vicarage, now three cottages,
is at the south-west end of the green. Near by is the
Manor Farm, an 18th-century brick house of two
stories with hipped roof probably built by the Malletts.
Hilton Hall stands due north of the church. It is a
brick house built in the early part of the 17th century
and refronted some hundred years later. To the
south of it is a 17th-century pigeon house, square in
plan and built of brick. North-west is Hilton House.
There are many 17th-century cottages in the village.
A little to the west of the village on the road known as
Graveley Way is St. John's College Farm, surrounded
by the remains of a moat. The house was originally
built in the 15th century with a central hall and
wings at each end, but it was considerably altered
and enlarged in the 17th century, when the west
wing was removed and the hall received an upper
floor. It is of half-timber construction with a tiled
roof, and has remains of pargeting work. No doubt
it was the house conveyed with 140 acres of land,
10 acres of meadow, 4 acres of pasture, and 6 acres of
wood in Hilton by George Bowlys, clerk, in 1533–4
to the master and fellows of St. John the Evangelist
in the University of Cambridge, who are now the
principal landowners. (fn. 1) Another 15th-century house
similar in plan, with a central hall and two wings,
lies north-east of the church. It was formerly the
Red Cow Inn and was altered in the 17th century,
when the north wing was demolished and the hall
converted into two stories. Near it is Park Farm,
built in the 16th century.
On the Green is a circular maze 53 ft. in diameter,
originally cut in the turf in 1660, which has since
been recut several times. It surrounds a stone
obelisk terminating in a ball which bears on its south
face the inscription 'Sic transit gloria mundi, Gulielmus Sparrow, gen. natus ano 1641, aetatis sue 88
quando obit, hos gyros formavit anno 1660.' and
on its east face 'Ad hoc William Sparrow departed
this life the 25th of August anno Domini 1729, aged
88 years'; on the north and west faces are respectively 'ab hoc' and 'per hoc.' We know little
of William Sparrow, whose fame does not seem to
have gone beyond his parish. He was overseer of
the poor in 1675, (fn. 2) and left a charity for the poor of
the parish. (fn. 3)
The nearest station is at St. Ives.
There was no separate manor of
HILTON, which has always been parcel
of the manor of Fen Stanton (q.v.), but
it has comprised some large freeholds held of the
lords of the manor. (fn. 4) Some of these had been formed
by Joan Queen of Scotland, lady of the manor of Fen
Stanton, who was evidently developing her property
here. The estate she granted to the abbey of
Tarent (co. Dorset), already referred to under Fen
Stanton, included lands in Hilton. The abbess of
Tarent, however, conveyed these lands to the succeeding lord of the manor and others shortly after
the death of the queen in 1238.
It is evident that the queen was in debt to Thomas
de Durham, citizen of London, and gave him as
security 18 virgates and 70
acres of land in Hilton. (fn. 5)
After the queen's death, in
1238, the king allotted her
executors the issues of the
manors of Driffield and Fen
Stanton for payment of this
debt. (fn. 6) In 1239 the lands in
Hilton, lately held by Thomas
de Durham, were restored to
Stephen de Segrave, lord of
Fen Stanton, in exchange for
lands at Dunmow (co. Essex),
but a messuage and virgate of
land in Hilton were reserved to Thomas and his heirs
at the rent of a pair of gilt spurs. (fn. 7) Isabel, widow of
Thomas de Durham, in 1256–7 acquired from John
Moryn and his wife Maud lands in Stanton, Gryseby,
and Hilton. (fn. 8) It was probably over these lands in
Stanton that Ralph Moryn and John his son had
received a grant of free warren in 1253. (fn. 9) 'Jollen'
de Durham (Duresme), who with his wife Ada
dealt with property in Stanton and Hilton, (fn. 10) was
presumably the heir, and probably the son, of Thomas
and Isabel. 'Joiland' de Durham was returned in
1279 among the free tenants of Nicholas de Segrave
in Hilton as holding 42½ acres of land and meadow
at a rent of 1 lb. of cumin, with 15 acres of meadow
in demesne, 2 villeins, and a cottar, of the abbess
of Tarent. (fn. 11) A note entered in this return shows
that the above land was part of 20 librates given by
Queen Joan of Scotland to the abbey.
Durham. Argent a cross gules with five fleur de lis or thereon.
The Durhams continued to hold land in Hilton
until, in 1342, Edmund de Durham died, leaving
three daughters and co-heirs: Ada, Elizabeth, and
Maud. He had alienated before his death to Alice
de Hernestede, to hold for life, with reversion to his
heirs, a messuage in Fen Stanton and Hilton, with
80 acres of arable land, 18 acres of meadow, and
40s. rent, held of John de Segrave, except 20 acres
of arable land held of Maud Oweyn. (fn. 12) It was
probably this property which John de Lacy, son
and heir of Sir Henry de Lacy, kt, released to Sir
Thomas de Clopton, kt., and his wife Ada, probably
the eldest daughter of Edmund de Durham, in 1359. (fn. 13)
In 1529 Roger Grauntoft died seised of a messuage
and land in Hilton, Fen Stanton, Hemingford Abbots
and Hemingford Grey, and in Elsworth (co. Camb.)
called 'Danettesthyng,' held of Thomas Lord
Berkeley as of his manor of Stanton. Roger
Grauntoft had acquired this land of Gerard Danet, (fn. 14)
possibly a representative of one of the co-heirs of
Edmund de Durham. In the previous year Roger
had made a settlement on his wife Joan, and on his
grandson Roger, son of his son Henry Grauntoft,
of Fen Stanton, with the condition that if Roger
died before reaching the age of twenty all the property he was to inherit was to be disposed of for
the good of his soul. The grandson Roger also died
in 1529, aged 14, leaving four sisters as his co-heirs,
Anne, Mary, Ellen, and Margaret. (fn. 15) During the
lifetime of the elder Roger, messuages in Hilton were
the subject of Chancery proceedings instituted
against him, with others, as a feoffee, by Susan, late
wife of James Berkeley, (fn. 16) and his death was followed
by further proceedings instituted by John Clerke and
his wife Anne, together with Eleanor, Mary, Margaret,
and Elizabeth Grauntoft in connection with the bequest of their grandfather Roger Grauntoft, of Hilton,
to their brother Roger. (fn. 17) This property probably
passed to the Malletts, but its later descent is lost.
Henry de Frowick or Fresewyk, citizen of London,
was another freeholder in Hilton who held of the
abbess of Tarent 6 virgates and 10 acres of land,
and 22 acres of meadow at a rent of 1 lb. of pepper.
In 1279 he is returned as a free tenant of Nicholas
de Segrave. (fn. 18) After the Battle of Evesham (1265)
he forfeited his lands as a citizen of London, but
they were restored to him before 1276. (fn. 19) Nicholas
de Segrave was buying up the freeholds here and in
Fen Stanton (q.v.) at this date, and probably acquired
Lands called the Townlands and appurtenances
in Hilton, in which were included a tenement with
croft adjoining called the Vicarage House, another
tenement called the Town House, were in 1572
granted to Richard Hill, of Heybridge in Essex, and
William James, of London, (fn. 20) with much other chantry
The Church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE consists of a chancel (27½ ft.
by 15 ft.), nave (40 ft. by 14½ ft.),
north aisle (10¼ ft. wide), south aisle (10 4/1 ft. wide),
west tower (10¾ ft. by 10¼ ft.), and south porch.
The walls are of pebble rubble, with stone and
clunch dressings and the roofs are covered with lead,
tiles and slates.
The church, which was a chapelry to Fen Stanton,
is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1086),
but apparently there was a stone church here in the
12th century, of which small portions of walling
and of impost moulding remain on each side of the
chancel arch. The chancel arch and its responds
are of the 13th century, and the tower of the late
14th century, but the rest of the church is wholly
of 15th-century date. The church was restored in
1850 and 1889, and at the latter date was partially
reseated and the chancel raised, the north-west
corner of the tower was repaired in 1904–5, and the
chancel in 1909.
The features, unless otherwise stated, are of the
The chancel has a three-light east window and
two two-lights in each of the side walls. In the east
wall is a late 14th-century bracket supported by a
carved head; and the two side walls have each a
semi-octagonal bracket with rounded hole in the
top, perhaps intended to hold candles. The south
wall has also a 14th-century door and a small piscina
of about the same date. The 13th-century chancel
arch is two centred and of two orders resting on
square responds with semi-octagonal attached shafts;
on the east side of the north respond and on both
sides of the south are portions of 12th-century
impost mouldings. On the east gable is a 15thcentury gable-cross.
The nave has an arcade of four bays on each side,
having two-centred arches of two moulded orders
resting on narrow piers formed by the continuation
downwards of the outer orders between two attached
shafts. On the south side of the chancel arch is a
fragment of a 15th-century niche, much modernised.
The clearstory has four two-light windows on each
side, largely modern. The contemporary roof is of
plain king-post type, with jack legs and curved
The north aisle has a three-light window at the
east end, two two-lights and a plain door with stoup
to the east of it on the north, and another two-light
in the west wall; the windows are largely modern.
The rood stairs are in the south-east angle, partly
forming a turret outside; the lower doorway is in
the aisle and the upper door is blocked. The roof
is of 15th-century date, with cambered tie-beams
and curved braces.
The south aisle is generally similar to the north,
but there is no stoup nor rood stairs. In the
south-east corner is a gabled and crocketed niche.
The late 14th-century west tower has a 15thcentury arch to the nave, of three moulded orders
resting on attached shafts with moulded caps. The
west doorway has a two-centred arch with continuous
orders: above it is a two-light window, and the
stage above has a small modern single-light in the
south and west walls. The belfry windows are of
two lights. The tower is finished with an embattled
parapet. The stairs, in the north-west angle, were
rebuilt in 1904–5, when a round-headed cross with
crucifixion of early 13th-century date was found at
the top, and has been built into the north wall.
Some 12th-century cheveron ornament and other
stones found at the same time have been similarly
The south porch has a two-centred outer archway
of two moulded orders resting on attached shafts.
There is the stump of a cross on the gable.
The 15th-century font is a plain octagon on an
octagonal stem and base.
There are four bells, inscribed: (1) Maria Magdalene will sing sweetli befoor cum mereli after,
1604; (2) Joseph Eayre, St. Neots, 1767. Walter
Peck, John Hemington, Churchwardens; (3) Thomas
Norris made me 1635; (4) I: Eayre, fecit, 1744.
God speed us well. Tho: Pain, Edward: Martin,
Churchwardens. The treble, probably originally by
Richard Holdfield, was recast in 1898. The bells
were rehung by Messrs. Taylor and Co., of Loughborough, in 1897.
In the nave is the matrix of a 15th-century brass
to a priest; and in the chancel two pieces of 15thcentury alabaster panelling.
There are the following monuments: in the chancel,
a window to William Theed, d. 1861, and Ann his
wife. In the nave, floor slabs to Robert Walpole,
d. 1699, aged 100; and Mrs. Alice Walpole, d. 1709.
In the north aisle, to Thomas Sheppard, d. 1733;
Mary (Clench) wife of Walter Powell, d. 1736,
Walpole Clench Powell, d. 1796, and Ann his widow,
d. 1801; Edward Theed, d. 1835, Jane (Searle) his
wife, d. 1821, and Capt. John Theed, R.N., d. 1822;
and Tace Davey, wife of William Theed and relict
of George Goodman Hewett, d. 1855. In the south
aisle, windows to John T. Carroll, 1845, and Anne
his wife, d. 1877; and Thomas Percival Carroll, d.
1896; and floor slabs to Charles Sheppard, d. 1719;
and the following to Peck: Roger, d. 1699, and
Annis, his wife, d. 1722; Roger, d. 1740; John,
d. 1766; Dennis, relict of John, d. 1776; John son
of Walter and Ann, d. 1788; Catherine daughter of
Walter and Ann, d. 1790; and Walter, d. 1798. In
west tower, window to Spencer Martin Mayson, d.
The registers are as follows: (i) Baptisms,
marriages and burials, 28 Sept. 1558 to 9 January
1785; marriages end 10 Oct. 1753; (ii) baptisms
and burials, 12 May 1785 to 15 Nov. 1812; (iii) the
official marriage book, 5 May 1755 to 16 Nov. 1812.
The usual modern books.
The church plate consists of: A silver cup with
band of Elizabethan arabesque ornament, hallmarked for 1571–2; a silver cover-paten, similarly
hall-marked; a silver standing paten, inscribed
'Hilton Church in Huntingtonshire, 1682,' and
hall-marked for 1681–2.
Hilton, until 1873, was a chapelry
to Fen Stanton. In 1392, licence
was obtained for the endowment of
a chaplain to celebrate divine service daily at the
altars of St. Mary, both in the parish church of
Fen Stanton (fn. 21) and in the chapel of Hilton, (fn. 22) for the
souls of the parishioners and all faithful departed.
The list of presentations to the chantry of Fen Stanton
dates from this year (1392). (fn. 23) The advowson was
retained by the lords of the manor of Fen Stanton, (fn. 24)
although that of Fen Stanton itself had been alienated
in 1393. At first one chaplain (fn. 25) apparently served
both chantries, but by 1402 the lord of the manor
seems to have presented separately to the chantry
of St. Mary in Hilton, when the king so presented
owing to the minority of Thomas son and heir of
Thomas Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 26) In 1535 the chaplain
at Hilton was Laurence Mariet and that at Fen Stanton, Richard Stilbarne. (fn. 27) Later the rectory of Fen
Stanton (q.v.), with the chapel of Hilton appropriated
to it, was leased to George Symcote in 1545, to Henry
Trafford in 1566, and to Sir John Spencer in 1599,
but the advowsons were reserved. The lands of
the dissolved chantry of Hilton, under the name of the
Chantry Land in Hilton, were leased by the Crown
in 1551 to John Tibbolde for 21 years (fn. 28) and in 1568 to
Robert Rampton and Freman Young. (fn. 29) In the meantime the chantry chaplain seems to have continued
to serve the cure as vicar. The orders issued for
payments from the Countess of Northampton's
impropriate rectory of Fen Stanton in 1645–6 included
one for £22 10s. to Mr. Edward Ottaway, minister
of Hilton, as an augmentation of the chapel there, (fn. 30)
and another out of the Countess of Northampton's
impropriate rectory of Hilton of £15 for an augmentation of the vicarage of Huntingdon. (fn. 31)
From 1873, when Hilton became a separate parish,
the advowson was held by Mrs. Anne Hoare till 1890
when she was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas Carroll.
In 1914 it was held by Mrs. Rogerson, eldest daughter
of the Rev. Thomas Carroll, and in 1920 by the Rev.
S. Rogerson, M.A., the present patron.
Charles Shepherd by will dated
8 October 1719 left £20 to purchase
land the rent of which was to be
given in bread to the poor of the parish.
William Sparrow by will dated 10 February 1723
left 30s. to be given in bread to the poor of the parish.
This sum is paid as a rentcharge issuing out of land
John Peck by will dated 7 July 1864 bequeathed
20s. to be distributed in bread to the poor of the
parish. This sum is paid in respect of a small close
of land in Hilton.
The above-mentioned rentcharges amounting to
£3 10s. are distributed to the poor in coals.
The trustees of the charities are the vicar and two
trustees appointed from time to time by the Parish
Council of Hilton.
Spencer Martin Mayson by his will dated 28 May
1889 gave a sum of £180 for investment: £2 per
annum of the interest was to be distributed among
poor widows and the remainder for the benefit of the
poor. The endowment now consists of £190 4s. 6d.
2½ per cent. Consols with the Official Trustees, producing £4 15s. annually in dividends, £2 of which is
paid to poor widows and the balance is distributed
in bread to the poor. The charity is administered by
the vicar and churchwardens.
Town Estate. The endowment of this charity
consists of 26 acres of land let in allotments, two
cottages and garden and a garden, all in Hilton, the
whole producing in rent about £38 per annum.
Under an order of the Charity Commissioners
dated 17 January 1899, the original charity was
divided into two charities, namely: (1) The Church
Charity, consisting of ½ of the clear yearly income of
the property which is applied towards church expenses.
The vicar and churchwardens are the trustees of this
charity. (2) The Town Charity, consisting of the
remaining half of the clear yearly income of the
property, which is distributed in money to the sick,
coals to the poor and a donation of £1 1s. to the
hospital. The trustees of this charity are the vicar
and two trustees appointed from time to time by
the Parish Council of Hilton.