Beleton (xii cent.); Beautone, Belton (xiii cent.).
The parish of Belton contains 1,024 acres of land and was formerly within the bounds of Leighfield Forest. The soil is clay and the subsoil consists of Upper and Middle Lias and the Great Oolite series. (fn. 1) The land falls about 200 ft. from the north-west of the parish, where it is 500 ft. above the Ordnance datum, to the Eye Brook which forms the southern boundary. The parish, which was inclosed in 1794, is almost entirely pasture land.
The village stands on the side of a steep hill about half a mile north of the main road from Leicester to Uppingham, from which it is distant about 3½ miles. It is formed round an oval space once surrounding the village green, which is now obscured by some modern brick houses. At the ends of the back gardens of the houses on the outer side of the road inclosing this space, lanes have been made forming an outer ring, that on the west being called Backside Lane. The village was practically destroyed by fire in 1776 when 27 houses were completely burnt. (fn. 2) The present houses are mostly of stone with slate or stone roofs, one or two only being thatched. On the green is a stone obelisk which forms the war memorial, the base of which, called the King’s Stone, is said to have been a stone on which Charles I sat after the battle of Naseby. (fn. 3) At one time there was a cross at the east end of the village, towards the setting up of which Thomas Haselwood of Belton bequeathed 2s. in 1612. (fn. 4) The Old Hall, near the church, with remains of Tudor work, was probably the manor house and the site of the house where the Blounts lived in the 14th century. (fn. 5) The present house was probably built by the Haselwoods in the 16th century.
The nearest station is at East Norton.
The manor of BELTON was probably one of the berewicks attached to the manor of Ridlington in 1086. (fn. 6) It was presumably alienated by the Crown with the manor of Oakham (q.v.) in the 12th century, and from that time was held of the castle and manor of Oakham (fn. 7) as one knight’s fee.
The first sub-tenant of the manor seems to have been Ralph de Freney (de Fraisneto, du Frenai), who granted land belonging to his fee in Belton to the Priory of St. Mary at Brooke, (fn. 8) probably at its foundation by Hugh de Ferrers before 1153. (fn. 9) Whether Ralph held the whole manor or whether its division into moieties (fn. 10) had already taken place is unknown. Ralph was living in 1166–7, and was succeeded by his son William, mentioned in relation to Rutland from 1175 to 1203. (fn. 11) William refers in charters to Brooke Priory, to his sons Robert, his heir, and Reginald. (fn. 12) Robert possibly died without issue, as Reginald succeeded to Belton, where he had held a virgate of land in his father’s lifetime. (fn. 13) He lost his property in England, as a Norman, in 1205, (fn. 14) but Alice de Freney, probably holding the manor in dower as widow of William de Freney, leased in that year a carucate of land to Peter de Aslaketon. (fn. 15) After her death the manor reverted to the chief lords, and in 1232 Henry III intimated to Peter Fitz Herbert and Isabel his wife, then overlords, that it was his pleasure that they should restore Belton to Henry son of Reginald de Freney. (fn. 16) Before 1237 Henry de Freney sold a moiety of the manor of Belton to Hugh de Mortimer, son of Isabel by her former husband Roger de Mortimer. (fn. 17) On his death it passed to his mother, who was the tenant in 1244, (fn. 18) when Alice, widow of Hugh, sued her mother-in-law for dower in Belton. Alice, however, was required to give an undertaking that if she recovered dower, it should revert to the Crown after the death of Isabel. (fn. 19) Isabel died in 1252, (fn. 20) when the overlordship reverted to the Crown and passed in that year with Oakham (q.v.) to Richard, Earl of Cornwall. The sub-tenancies granted for the life of Isabel probably went to the Earl of Cornwall and were granted out by him. We find one moiety a few years later in the possession of the Blount family. It is said to have been brought to them by the marriage of Robert le Blount with Isabel, one of the heirs of Sir (William) Odinsells. (fn. 21) There is no contemporary evidence, however, that Robert, who is said to have died in 1288, or his son and successor Ralph ever held Belton. (fn. 22) The first member of the family who was undoubtedly seised of property in Belton was William le Blount, who in 1270 settled lands and rents, which evidently represented the moiety of the manor, on himself and Isabel his wife and the heirs of their bodies with remainder to Walter le Blount, their younger son. (fn. 23) Sir William le Blount, son of Walter, was holding Belton of the Earl of Cornwall in 1300 (fn. 24) and was knight of the shire for Rutland in 1301, 1307 and 1313. (fn. 25) In 1322 he served against the Scots in the retinue of Henry, Earl of Lancaster. (fn. 26) He married as his second wife Joan de Soddington and died in 1337. He was succeeded by his brother John le Blount. (fn. 27) Before 1370 the moiety of Belton had passed to Alice, daughter of Sir John Blount, and her first husband Richard Stafford. (fn. 28) In 1393 Alice and her second husband, Sir Richard Stury, settled Belton on themselves and the heirs of their bodies, with remainder to Elizabeth le Blount for life and then to Sir Walter Blount, kt., and his son John, who were cousins of the Soddington (co. Worc.) branch of the family. (fn. 29) Alice died in 1415, leaving no children. The manor, however, had been granted by Richard Dudley and John Lovedale, probably feoffees, to Sir Walter le Blount (d. 1403) in the reign of Richard II. (fn. 30) Sir Walter was succeeded by his son Sir John le Blount of Soddington, (fn. 31) whose brother Thomas was lord of the manor in 1428. (fn. 32) He was succeeded by his son Walter le Blount, who in 1465 was created Lord Mountjoy, (fn. 33) but Belton seems to have come into the hands of John Elryngton and his wife Margaret, against whom his younger son John, the third Lord Mountjoy, brought an action for its recovery in 1476. (fn. 34) His successors (fn. 35) held the manor until 1557, when James, sixth Lord Mountjoy, sold it to Thomas Haselwood, (fn. 36) at one time keeper of Leighfield Forest, under the Earl of Huntingdon. (fn. 37) On his death in 1559 (fn. 38) the manor passed to his son Francis, who married Anne daughter of Paul Dayrell of Lillingstone Dayrell (co. Bucks). (fn. 39) The Haselwoods were people of considerable wealth and Francis’s household at Belton contained some forty people. His demesne lands were insufficient for his household needs and he annexed the lands of several farms at Belton. For his action in the matter he was sued by John Dive of Ridlington Park Lodge, who had recently become a tenant at Belton. (fn. 40) The evidence showed, however, that Haselwood had improved his property, building new houses and adding land to some of his farms. (fn. 41) Francis Haselwood died in 1604 leaving his son Thomas, a minor, as his heir, (fn. 42) but the manor was held for life by his widow Anne, who married Christopher Beane. (fn. 43) In 1612 Christopher and Anne leased the manor for 40 years, should Anne live so long, to William Rolfe and George Burrowes. (fn. 44) The next year the lessees assigned the lease to George Boteler of Leigh Lodge, and it appears that the manor was charged with an annuity of £40 payable to Sir Thomas Dayrell of Lillingstone Dayrell. (fn. 45) On succeeding his mother, apparently in 1613 or 1614,Thomas Haselwood seems to have renewed the lease of the manor to George Boteler. (fn. 46) His lands were sequestrated under the Commonwealth for recusancy, (fn. 47) but Boteler in 1650 petitioned to have the manor of Belton released as he had been in possession of it for many years. (fn. 48) Haselwood had no sons and his co-heirs were Elizabeth, the wife of George Pilkington of Stanton le Dale (co. Derb.), and another daughter, probably Jane, wife of Robert Smyth. These latter in the same year had released the manor to Thomas Waite, with warranty against the heirs of Jane. (fn. 49) George Pilkington died in 1658, (fn. 50) but his widow Elizabeth survived him and was apparently living in 1672. (fn. 51) After the Restoration, the Pilkingtons evidently recovered Belton, since Haselwood, son of Elizabeth, died there in 1661 (fn. 52) and his brother Thomas, with other members of the family, (fn. 53) levied various fines of the manor, presumably to secure peaceful possession from the various claimants to ownership. (fn. 54) After 1672 Thomas seems to have sold the manor to Richard Verney, who was lord of the manor in 1684. (fn. 55) Verney was knighted in 1685 and successfully claimed the barony of Willoughby de Broke in 1695. (fn. 56) He was a learned antiquary of some repute: ‘a true lover of antiquities and a worthy Mecænas.’ (fn. 57) Before 1775 the manor had come into the hands of George, Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham, (fn. 58) who died in 1826. (fn. 59) Belton, like Burley (q.v.), passed to George Finch, who died in 1870. (fn. 60) His son, George Henry Finch, M.P. (d. 1907), succeeded him and his grandson, (fn. 61) Alan George Finch of Burley-on-the-Hill, is the present lord of the manor.
The second moiety of the manor of Belton, which seems to have reverted to the Crown after the death of Isabel de Mortimer, the overlord, in 1252, was possibly represented by the lands which we find in the possession of the two co-heirs, Emma the wife of Nicholas de Brimminghurst and Isabel wife of John de Beyvill, who, in 1285–6, quitclaimed 2 messuages and 2 virgates of land in Belton to Peter le Venur. (fn. 62) This, however, would not represent the whole of the moiety. (fn. 63) Peter was living in 1324, (fn. 64) but before 1340 had been succeeded by Theobald le Venur, who held half a knight’s fee in Belton valued at 100s., William le Blount holding an exactly similar amount. (fn. 65) Theobald possibly held only as a guardian, since the Beyvills continued to have land in Belton. In 1386, John, son of John Beyville, alienated the lands in Belton, which he had inherited on the death of his father, to certain feoffees. (fn. 66) This perhaps was the sale of the moiety of the manor, or Beyvill’s share of it, to Alice Blount, who obtained the whole manor before 1393. (fn. 67) After this date the moieties, being united, followed the same descent.
The Priory of St. Mary at Brooke had lands in Belton, 5 bovates of which were granted to them by Ralph de Freney in the 12th century. (fn. 68) They were alienated, after the Dissolution, with the other possessions of the priory in 1536 to Anthony Cope. (fn. 69) Lands in Belton, which had belonged to St. Michael’s Priory, Stamford, Oulston Priory, Lincolnshire, and the Priory of Launde, Leicestershire, were sold in 1553 to Thomas Brown and William Breton of London. (fn. 70) The possessions of the hospitals of St. Lazarus and St. Giles in Burton Lazars were granted in 1544 to Sir John Dudley, Viscount Lisle. (fn. 71)
In 1330 a fair was granted to William le Blount and his heirs to be held in the manor of Belton yearly on the vigil and day of St. James the Apostle. (fn. 72) In 1332 the fair was extended to three days. (fn. 73)
A mill is mentioned in 1270 among the properties at Belton settled on William le Blount and his wife Isabel. (fn. 74) Three mills are mentioned as appurtenant to the manor in 1650 (fn. 75) and two in 1663. (fn. 76) A windmill was sold with other property in Belton in 1680 by Richard Verney and his wife Frances to Baptist, Lord Campden. (fn. 77)
The church of ST. PETER consists of chancel, 20 ft. by 16 ft., with modern vestry and organ-chamber on the north side, clearstoried nave 45 ft. by 18 ft., south aisle 12 ft. 6 in. wide, south porch, and west tower 9 ft. 3 in. square, all these measurements being internal. The width across nave and aisle is 33 ft. 9 in.
There was formerly a north aisle, but the church is said to have been partially destroyed by fire some time before the 14th century, and the aisle, with its arcade, was not rebuilt. The remaining south arcade is the oldest part of the church, dating from c. 1190, but nothing else of this period has survived, with the possible exception of the lower part of the walls of the chancel, where at sill level there is a stringcourse chamfered on both edges. The south doorway and a lancet window at the west end of the north wall of the nave are of 13th-century date, but if the former north arcade was set out like that opposite, the window cannot be in its original position. In the 14th century a great reconstruction appears to have taken place, the south aisle being rebuilt and probably widened, the old doorway being re-used, a clearstory erected on this side and the porch added. The tower is an addition or rebuilding of the 15th century, in which period too the upper part of the walls of the chancel was rebuilt and a buttress added on its southeast angle. The western part of the south aisle was rebuilt, or refaced in ashlar, in the late 16th or early 17th century, but with this exception all the walling is of rubble.
The chancel (fn. 78) has a stone-slated eaved roof, but there are straight moulded parapets to the aisle and porch. The low-pitched roof of the nave is leaded and overhangs. There was an extensive restoration of the building in 1897–8, when the organ-chamber was added. With the exception of the tower all the walls are plastered internally. The roofs are modern. The chancel has a 15th-century east window of four cinquefoiled lights, and a priest’s doorway on the south side with four-centred moulded head. West of the doorway is a modern two-light window. The later walling above the string is reduced in thickness. The piscina is coeval with the earlier walling and has a pointed recess with chamfered hood and circular bowl. In the north wall is a rectangular aumbry and further west a modern arch to the organ-chamber and vestry. There is no arch between the chancel and the nave, its place being taken by a modern arched oak beam on stone corbels. There is a modern oak screen. The floor of the chancel is level with that of the nave.
The late 12th-century nave arcade consists of four semicircular arches of two chamfered orders springing from short (fn. 79) octagonal piers and similar responds, with moulded bases and large moulded octagonal capitals. The arches have chamfered hood-moulds without stops on the nave side only. The capitals vary in design and the bases of the eastern respond and of the first pier are mutilated. The mutilated capital of the eastern respond has good conventional stiff-leaf foliage, but those of the first pier from the east and of the western respond are without ornament. The capitals of the middle and western piers are carved on the north and south sides with rude masks between the upper member and the neck-band.
The 13th-century window in the nave is a trefoiled lancet, (fn. 80) and the south doorway has a pointed arch of two continuous moulded orders and hood with headstops. In the usual position in the aisle is a trefoilheaded piscina, the bowl of which has in the centre a semi-human head with ass-like ears and protruding tongue, the orifices being on either side. (fn. 81) In the same wall further west is a wide tomb recess with plain two-centred chamfered arch. The east window of the aisle, and two in the south wall east of the porch, are of 14th-century date, that next the porch of two and the others of three lights, all with tracery and hood-moulds. The aisle has diagonal angle buttresses and a string at sill level east of the porch. At the west end, as already stated, the walling is of ashlar, and the windows, one in the west and one in the south wall, are plain square-headed openings of three and two lights respectively, with moulded string-course above. There are three modern windows in the north wall of the nave, but the blocked doorway appears to belong to the 14th-century rebuilding. The three south clearstory windows are squareheaded and of two trefoiled lights.
The porch has been considerably repaired and contains little old work. (fn. 82) The outer doorway is of two continuous chamfered orders and hood with headstops; above it in the gable is a sundial. The tower is of three stages with moulded plinth, battlemented parapet and small clasping angle buttresses stopping at the middle of the upper stage. The bottom stage is blank on the north and south, but has a pointed west window of two trefoiled lights. There is a single-light trefoiled window on the south side of the middle stage, and the bell-chamber has tall pointed transomed windows of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head. Below the parapet is a band of traceried panelling, (fn. 83) and at the angles big gargoyles. The vice is in the south-west angle. The arch to the nave is of two chamfered orders (fn. 84) with hood-mould, the inner order on half-round responds with moulded capitals and tall bases.
The 13th-century font consists of a circular bowl and cylindrical stem, but of the supporting shafts only the capitals and bases remain. The pointed arcading and bold dog-tooth ornament of the bowl are badly mutilated.
The pulpit and seating (fn. 85) are modern. The modern altar is of a somewhat elaborate character, the front being of wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl, ebony and ivory. The wooden reredos and organ-case are illuminated in gold and colours. There is a good 17thcentury oak communion table at the east end of the aisle.
In the chancel floor, north of the altar, is an alabaster slab with incised effigies of Thomas Haselwood (d. 1559) and Clemence his wife. The man is in armour and the hands of the woman are uplifted; their eight children are also represented. (fn. 86) Inserted in the wall near by are two 16th-century shields with the arms of Haselwood. (fn. 87)
Of later memorials the oldest is one in the nave to George (d. 1700) and Thomas Mairston (d. 1715), the latter of whom left the interest of £10 to be distributed to the poor in bread yearly on St. Thomas’s Day.
A lych-gate was erected at the south-east entrance of the churchyard in 1911.
There are six bells by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon, cast in 1911. (fn. 88)
The plate consists of a paten of 1637 with scalloped edges and two fluted ears for handles; a cup and cover paten of 1715–16; a flagon of 1764 inscribed ‘The gift of Mrs. Catharine Roberts, youngest daughter of the Rev. Mr. Rowland Roberts (fn. 89) and Catharine his wife 1764′; and a cup and paten of 1845–6 inscribed ‘Belton Church The gift of the Venerable Archdeacon Pott, a.d. 1845.’ (fn. 90)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries, 1577–1653; (ii) 1653–90; (iii) 1690–1739; (iv) 1740–86; (v) marriages, 1754–95; (vi) baptisms and burials, 1787–1812; and (vii) marriages, 1796– 1812.
The chapel of St. Peter at Belton was in existence in the latter part of the nth century and was then attached to the church of Wardley. It is mentioned in the charters relating to Wardley of William the Conqueror and Henry II. (fn. 91) The patronage has passed to the present day as a chapelry or vicarage belonging to Wardley (q.v.). (fn. 92)
In 1609 the rectorial tithes of Belton were severed from Wardley and were held of the king by Francis Morrice and Francis Phelps, for the rent of £6 10s. (fn. 93) Morrice and Phelps sold them to George Boteler, who immediately enfeoffed George Marston, yeoman, and his heirs. (fn. 94) Marston died seised of the rectory in 1638, his heir being his son Thomas, a minor. (fn. 95) Thomas died at Belton in 1702, having purchased other property in Belton, and was succeeded by his grandson, George Marston, who was sheriff of Rutland in 1731. (fn. 96) On his death in the following year, he was succeeded by his surviving son George, who owned the rectory at his death in 1771. (fn. 97) It passed to John Loake and his wife Jane, possibly the sister and heir of George Marston, who were the owners in 1779. (fn. 98) Francis Chesilden and Francis Kemp were the joint owners of the rectory in 1794. (fn. 99) At that date, when the parish was inclosed by Act of Parliament, all tithes were commuted for an allotment of land. (fn. 100) It may be noticed that East Mickling, a meadow which had belonged to the rectory, was then in the ownership of William Kemp. (fn. 101) In 1846 the land allotted for tithes was owned by John Engleton and one Bishop. (fn. 102) In 1862 the rectory belonged to the Corporation of Lincoln, (fn. 103) and since 1874 has belonged to the Bishop of Peterborough.
There is a Baptist chapel in the village built in 1843.
The United Charities are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 16 March 1926 and comprise the following charities:—
Poor’s Land.—By a decree of the Commissioners of Charitable Uses dated 25 October 1688, 34 acres of land in the parish of Leighfield, known as Fair Ash Sale, were assigned, together with several sums of money, for the relief and maintenance of the poor. The endowment now consists of Fair Ash Sale, rented at £20 per annum, and £400 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock producing £10 per annum.
Duke of Buckingham’s charity, founded by deed dated 7 February 1651, consists of a rent-charge of £10 issuing out of 2 pieces of land called Stockwood and Huntswood in the parish of Leighfield.
John Neale, by his will proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 9 April 1842, gave an annuity of £5 to be distributed in bread to the poor. The testator’s estate being insufficient to pay the charge in full, an order of the court reduced the payment to £1 11s. 2d. The endowment now consists of £53 7s. 9d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock producing £1 6s. 8d. per annum.
James Neal York, by his will proved in the Principal Registry 27 December 1882, gave to the vicar and churchwardens of Belton £100 to be invested in Consols, the income to be distributed in bread to the poor. The endowment consists of £97 18s. 3d. 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock producing £2 8s. 8d. per annum.
The trustees of the United Charities are the vicar of Belton, ex officio, 3 representative trustees appointed by the parish council and 3 co-optative trustees. The net income of the charities is applied for the general benefit of the poor.
Church Land.—By an inclosure award, dated 15 October 1900, a piece of land, 1 acre 21 poles, was allotted to the churchwardens of Belton, no trusts being declared. The land has been sold and the endowment now consists of £100 New South Wales 5¼ per cent. Inscribed Stock, 1947–57. producing £5 5s. per annum. The income has always been applied for purposes of the church.
Orlando Green, by his will proved at the Principal Registry on 11 May 1905, gave the proceeds of the sale of real estate (subject to a life interest) to trustees (vicar and 2 workmen) to be invested and the income to be applied primarily for a poor and deserving young couple about to be or who had been married in the parish church, who intend to reside in the parish, and who were, or one of whom was, born in the parish. Any income not so applied in any year to be equally divided between families of the labouring classes. The endowment of the charity now consists of £554 1s. 6d. New Zealand 5 per cent. Inscribed Stock, 1935–45, producing £27 14s. per annum. The charity is administered by a body of trustees appointed by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 31 January 1919, and the income is applied in accordance with the trusts.
The Rev. F. D. Hall, by a declaration of trust dated 17 December 1927, gave the sum of £129 12s. 11d. 3½ per cent. Conversion Stock, the dividends to be applied by the Belton church council in augmentation of the organist’s salary. The stock produces £4 10s. 8d. per annum.
¶The Rev. Abraham Jobson’s Charity.—The trusts of the charity are set out in a letter dated 30 January 1824 signed by the Rev. A. Jobson, who gave £100 3 per cent. Reduced Annuities and directed the interest thereon to be applied in the purchase of Bibles, Testaments and prayer books and thereafter school books, sold by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, for the poor of Wardley and Belton. The charity is administered by the vicar and churchwardens of Belton and the endowment now consists of £100 2½ per cent. Consolidated Stock producing £2 10s. annually in dividends which are applied in accordance with the trusts.
The several sums of stock are with the official trustees.