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Podcast script - Sunday, April 26, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise. It’s Sunday 26th April and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast. Thanks again for even more feedback yesterday on Glenn Harwood. There are so many more stories emerging about him but there isn’t time to cover them here. But next time you meet Aitch, ask him how him and Cuthy fooled Glenn into believing that the hares of Chelveston-cum-Caldecott whistle to each other in mating time. You had to get up very early to catch Glenn out but they managed it. Glenn’s dog Five had run off that day for the first time ever and Glenn was convinced it was the whistling hares that had distracted him.

Now I talked about the strong links between the Village and the Crown a few days ago. Much of our Village was once Duchy of Lancaster Land, the Monarch’s private estate. We had Duchy Farm in Caldecott and I have since confirmed that there was also a Duchy Farm in Chelveston, where Duchy Close is now. As you know the Duchy still owns land in Bidwell Lane and the Golf Course, part of which is in the Parish.

There is a local legend which Mark Hunter has uncovered. It is called the Battle of Chelveston Hall. On Water Lane, there is a property called Hall Farm House. The current farm house was built in 1902 but it replaced a farm house that was already there. Michelle Abbott shared some pictures recently of the demolition and rebuilding. For many years, Hall Farm House stood derelict. My sons used to call it the haunted house. It was next to the house where Michelle’s parents lived, St Johns Cottages in Water Lane. Which raises an interesting question for Mark. Why are they called St Johns Cottages?

Anyway, Michelle loved that house and was determined to restore it. Many people had wanted to buy it over the years but Michelle managed to trace the then owner. The property had belonged to the Knight family, another of the old Village names. Michelle and Steve restored it to the lovely property it is now.

But why is it called Hall Farm House? Well there was once a large manor house on Water Lane called Chelveston Hall. Hall Farm house was the home farm associated with the Hall. Nothing remains of the Hall and even on the 1807 plans of the Village it had disappeared. However, aerial photography by the RAF in 1925 did reveal soil disturbances where the Hall building was and also showed two rectangular fish ponds next to the Water Lane brook. Fish ponds were common in that era to supply the house with fresh fish.

At the start of the English Civil War, Northampton Town sided with Parliament, whilst the landed gentry left their county estates to side with the King.

Throughout 1643 there were various minor skirmishes for control of the north-south supply routes (now the A1, A5 and A6) across the county.

During one of these skirmishes, a Royalist force ended up at Chelveston Hall, which was located next to Hallyard Farm, in Water Lane as it was then called. A Parliamentary force was summoned and approached from the east toward Caldecott. The local lanes were not ideal for horse drawn cannon and one cannon lost a wheel on the way. The 1930's field name map still shows the field known as "Wheel Away".

Eventually the artillery was set up on the higher ground overlooking Chelveston and the Hall was duly bombarded. No records remain, but it is very likely the Parliamentary forces won.

In the early 1900's, work at the Church required digging into the churchyard at the site of the former coke boiler house on the northwest side. A mass grave was uncovered, containing the bones of both men and horses.

Since the burying of horses in the churchyard could be classed as a desecration, this was most likely done by the Parliamentary forces (who opposed the powers of the Bishops and the established Church), so the remains are probably those of the Royalist force and their mounts. These were removed and reburied in the Churchyard near where the compost heaps are now. Rabbits live under those heaps and regularly bring up small bones of both humans and horses.

Chad and Steph live in Wateryard, the traditional name for the collection of houses opposite the brook along Water Lane. They’ve recently done some building work and discovered lots of old artefacts in the diggings. Chad is having them investigated and is hoping that they will shed some light on this battle. It is a long shot but, we desperately need more information. Mark has not been able to uncover any other sources for this critical battle in our Village.

So you budding historians, does anyone have any more information on the battle of Chelveston Hall. This story fascinates the twins Emily and Jack. For 6 year olds, the idea of a major battle happening right opposite their house is the stuff of fantasy. Wouldn’t it be lovely to make their day?

Thank you.

Thank you