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Chellington Rectory

This page has been written by Pamela Hider

There has been a Rectory at Chellington since at least 1218, when our list of Rectors began [Fasti/1/Chell]. Clergy were nominated by patrons, who were either lords of the manor, or by Oxford and Cambridge Colleges. The role of the patron was to present a man to be instituted and inducted by the Bishop into the office. (The Bishop could, with good reason, refuse to oblige). Over centuries this was the status quo. However, inevitably, changes occurred.

In the 14th century, the Trailly family, who were lords of Chellington, obtained one of the manors of Carlton which carried with it the right of presentation to the church of Carlton. Thus the advowsons of both churches came to be vested in the same family, though each retained its own rectory house and land.

 In 1642, Robert Gifford was Rector of Chellington. In 1644, he was sequestered and imprisoned as a Papist. His wife, Anne, petitioned the County Committee for Safety of the County of Bedfordshire, on June 16th,  "If they do not think him fit to continue minister yet she prays them to give his liberty and allow a portion out of the parsonage for them and his children". He had admitted that "surprised by scouts, whom he supposed to be the King's, he spoke foolishly: expressed regret and good affection to Parliament". (A.G.Matthews-Walker Revised: a revision of John Walker's Sufferings of the clergy during the Grand Rebellion 1642 - 1660). There were "seven Bedfordshire Ministers who suffered imprisonment and all were accused of being malignant to Parliament" (ibid). Happily, the Rev. Gifford made peace with Parliament and received the incumbency of Ellsfield, Hants. in 1648 where his son was baptised.

Thanks to a glebe terrier of 1710 [ABE2 volume 1 pp203-208; transcript CRT170/2/15 volume 1 pages 148 - 151], we have a description of the Parsonage House and its location: "The Parsonage House is built of stone and covered with thatch and contains three bays divided into Hall Parlour & Buttery. Hall & Parlour floord with Stone the Buttery an Earth floor, three Chambers boarded & one Garret over the Parlour Chamber". (Incidentally, this description almost exactly matches that of the parsonage house in Carlton,too, at that time). There follows a description of two barns and a stable. "The Homstall (homestead) containing ye ffarm yard & Orchard next to the Street a backyard a little Close containing by estimation two acres more or less & abutteth on the ffield north  on the road south  on the street east & on the Hills west". This description places the homestead at the junction of the five roads in existence at that time and also conveniently within the church field.

The red circle marks the location of the Parsonage House and homestead.

Jefferys map (red marks Parsonage house)
To see larger version please click on the image

In 1769, the rectories of both Chellington and Carlton were ecclesiastically united and the union consolidated by an Act of Parliament [GA1122/3]. At this time, William Hooper MA was rector of Chellington. When Benjamin Rogers, Rector of Carlton, died in 1771, Rev. Hooper became rector of both churches. The parsonage house and buildings at Carlton were considered "amply sufficient for both" and "the parsonage house of the rector of Chellington..taken down together with the ruins of the Barns, stables etc."  [GA1127/12]. By the time Rev. Hooper died, in 1828, he had been rector of Chellington for 60 years and rector of Carlton for almost 57 years.

An account book including income from rents  collected by Chellington Rectory and recorded by the church warden, shows that from 1771, payments were received for the church home (10 shillings per annum) as well as for church land (£2 per annum). From 1779 - 1794, the name of the tenant was recorded - William Laton. In 1795, the rent for both church land and church home came from a Mr. Johnson, but thereafter, rent was collected from him only for church land. As the homestead is not shown on the 1798 pre-enclosure Chellington Estate Map [X1/79], we can conclude that the parsonage house and outbuildings were not "taken down" as mentioned earlier [GA1127/12] until between 1795 and 1798.

After the Reformation, bishops became increasingly willing to grant patronage to those who would finance it and so the sale of advowsons came into being. In 1875, the advowson for Carlton & Chellington came up for sale. Selling it, was the Trevor family, who held the manor of Bromham. Buying it, was the Rev. W. H. Denison, MA of Saint John's College, Oxford. He had purchased it for himself and as a result, he was Rector of both villages from 1876 - 1909. He continued to hold the advowson during the four years of the next rector's incumbency (Rev. W. W. Kenny).The rector after him, from January 1914, was the nephew of W.H.Denison,having been presented by him to the position [Z1521/1/10/2].

In 1805, the "Inclosure Act for Carlton, Chellington & Stevington" [AL366]  had created new roads and abandoned old roads. This was to mark the end of the old village of Chellington, as the already declining population migrated south west towards the new main road running through Carlton to Harrold and beyond; and to Pavenham & Bedford. By 1972, the following appeared in the London Gazette:

"Notice is hereby given that Her Majesty was pleased on the 14th August 1972 by Order in Council to confirm, a Scheme made by the Church Commissioners for linking the parishes of Carlton and Chellington, in the diocese of St. Albans and for declaring redundant the parish church of Chellington.Copies of the said Order may be obtained on application to the Church Commissioners, 1 Millbank,Westminster, London, SW1P 3JZ".

Chellington church had survived Chellington Rectory by more than 200 years, but happily the church still stands and by 2005 was formed into The Chellington Centre, a place where young people can stay for short periods and experience life as a community. Thus 800 years after our rectory records began, Chellington still has a story to tell.