Picture of Watford church

Watford, Northamptonshire

To most people in England, Watford in Northamptonshire means only the Watford Gap service station on the M1 motorway. But the village of Watford is an old and attractive place of quite a different kind.

Here are a few photographs of Watford taken in 1999 and a description of the village taken from the History of Northamptonshire by Whellan published in 1874.

WATFORD PARISH is bounded by Long Buckby on the east, on the north by Winwick, by Ashby-Legers on the west, and on the south by Welton. It is also bounded on the west by the ancient Roman road Watling Street, and is in the line of the London and North Western Railway, the Crick Station of which is situate in this parish. Watford contains 3,385 acres, of the rateable value of 12,349; and the gross estimated rental is 14,170. The soil varies very much; there are some strong chalybeate springs in the vicinity; and the lord of the manor and principal proprietor is Lord Henley.

Manor - Gilbert the Cook held 2 hides of land of the crown in Watford, at the time of the Conqueror's survey (1086), previous to which it was the freehold of Thor, and rated at 10s., but now advanced to 40s. Baldwin, the son and suc essor of Gilbert, was possessed of 4 hides here in the reign of Henry II, and dying without issue, his lands on his decease were escheated to the crown. The manor was at this time in the hands of Eustachius de Arden, or de Watford, with whose descendants it continued till the 4th of Edward I. (1276), when Eustachius de Watford, the fourth possessor of that name, died seized of it; and partition was made of it between his four daughters, Atheline, wife of William Bray, of Brune, Sarah, of John de Burnaby, Joan, of William Parles, and Elena, unmarried. The part allotted to Atheline Bray was by her conveyed to Henry de Bray, from whom it passed some years afterwards to the crown, and was granted, in the 31st of Edward I. (1303), to Eustace de Burnaby and Maud his wife. In the 24th of this reign (1296), Henry de Bray was certified to hold a fourth part of the township of Watford of Athelina de Brun but of whom or by what service is not known, and three of the daughters of Eustachius de Burnaby and John Parles were lords of Watford. In the 20th of Edward III. (1347), Nicholas de Burneby and Walter Parles accounted for three parts of one knight's fee in Watford, Syvesworth, and Murcote, which they held of the king in capite. The estate in the possession of Nicholas de Burnaby continued with that family for several generations. The fourth part of the manor possessed by the family of Parles, was carried in marriage to the Cumberford family about the year 1590, and was called herewith the Cumberford manor. In the 24th of Elizabeth (1582), Christopher Lewys, Gent., died seized of a manor here supposed to be the same which belonged to the family of Cumberford, and was succeeded by his son Clement. It was afterwards purchased by Robert Lord Spencer, who left it at his death, in the 4th of Charles I. (1629), with certain lands and tenements in Watford and Silsworth, formerly purchased of Thomas Cumberford, to William Lord Spencer, his son and successor. Sir George Clarke afterwards received it in discharge for an estate at Bodington, and it passed to his descendants. Picture of Watford church

Besides the above manors, there was an estate here in the possession of the family of De Watford, from which it was carried in marriage to Robert de Cranford. This Robert left issue Emma, who marrying John de Catesby of Lodbroke, in Warwickshire, transferred this estate into that family, and hence it was called the Catesby Manor. From John de Catesby it came, in course of -descent, to his great grandson, William Catesby, Esq., one of the chief instru-ments employed by Richard III., and attainted of high treason in the first Parliament under Henry VII. This manor passed from the family of Catesby to that of Watkins, with whom it continued for several generations. It and the other three manors afterwards fell into the hands of Sir George Clarke by pur-chase, and passed from him, in 1689, to Sir Robert Clarke, son to his younger brother, Robert Clarke, Esq. of Long Buckby. St James' Monastery, near Northampton, the Abbey of Sulby, and the Priory of Daventry had possessions in this parish. The present lord of these manors is Lord Henley.

Anthony Henley Henley is son of the second Baron Henley by the daughter of Sir Robert Peel (first bart.); he was born in 1825, and married, in 1846, the only daughter of the Very Rev. John Peel, Dean of Worcester. She died Feb. 15, 1862, and Lord Henley married secondly (June 30, 1870) Clara Campbell Lucy, daughter of H. S. Tekyll, Esq. He succeeded his father in 1841, and was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Northamptonshire in 1846. The first peer was brother to the first Lord Auckland, and filled the highest diplomatic situa-tions at different courts from 1776 to 1790. The second peer was many years a Master in Chancery, and assumed his maternal name of Henley in lieu of his patronymic Eden. His lordship's heir is his son Frederick, who was born on the 17th April 1849. The family seat is Watford Court, Northamptonshire. Picture of road in Watford

The Village of Watford, which is neat, is situate on a slight eminence, about 4Q miles N.N.E. of Daventry, and about 10 miles N.W. of Northampton.

The Church, dedicated to Sts Peter and Paul, stands in a very pleasant situation, and consists of a nave, north and south aisles, and porches, north chantry chapel, chance], and embattled tower, containing six bells. There are three sediliae and a piscina in the chancel, and a piscina in the south aisle. In the north wall of the north aisle are three sepulchral arches, and in the south wall of the same aisle is another with very rich mouldings. The living is a vicarage in the deanery of Haddon, rated in the king's books at 11, 7s. 8d., and now worth about 270 a year. The patronage is in the crown, and the Rev. William Seymour, D.C.L., is the vicar. The church 'contains several monuments of the Clarke family. Land was allotted in lieu of tithes at the enclosure of the common in 1771. Lord Henley is the lay rector. The Vicarage House is a substantial building.

There is a small Wesleyan Chapel in the village, erected in 1846. The National School is endowed with 35 per annum, arising from an estate of 30 acres of grazing land in Haselbeech, purchased with 400 left by Sarah Clarke in 1702. A new school was built here in 1857, principally at the expense of Lady Harriet Henley. It is a handsome and substantial stone structure of a mixed style, and will accommodate 85 children and a very neat detached classroom has been recently built by Lord Henley, which will accommodate 20 children. Both schools are the property of Lord Henley.

Watford Court, the seat of Lord Henley, is an ancient mansion situated in a beautiful park contiguous to the village. It has been considerably improved and enlarged within the last few years.

MURCOTT is a hamlet, partly in this and partly in Long Buckby parish.

Post Office Mrs Esther Butlin, sub-postmistress. Letters arrive from Rugby via Kilsby at 6.20 A. M.., and are despatched at 6.40 P.M.

Ashby Miss Mary Murcott
Billing Thomas, schoolmaster
Bound, Thomas, shopkeeper
Butlin Miss Eliz., vict. Henley Arms
Butlin Mrs Esther, Post-Office
Capell Edward, horses to let
Cole Mrs Mary, brickmaker
Darker John vict. Stag's Head and farmer, Crick Station
Henley Lord, MP, JP, Watford Court
Mann William, station master
Newton John, carpenter
Orton Ralph, wheelwright
Peabody Martha, shopkeeper
Pool Thomas, butcher
Seymour Rev Wm. DCL, vicar
Thomson William vict. Barley Mow
West, Biddles & Co., coal merchants Crick Station
Wood John, shoemaker

Farmers and Graziers
Abbey Edmond
Ashbey Robert
Collis William, Murcott
Cowley William
Gilbert William and Nathaniel
Gilbert William
Haynes Thomas
Payne Mrs Elizabeth
Poole John
Reeve Mrs Ann
Tebbett Mrs Ann, Murcott
Underwood William
Whitmell Jno. Silsworth Lodge

The omnibus from Guilsborough meets the 9.30 A.M. train at Crick Station, and leaves after the 5.30 train in the evening.

- Extract from Whellan's 1874 History of Northamptonshire.


Here is information about the Peabody family who lived in Watford for several hundred years.
Updated 18 March 1999.