History of Furtho

Map of Furtho 1900

Furtho is an ancient small parish, part of which was at times made up of households lying within the modern boundaries of Cosgrove and Old Stratford. The population of Furtho proper has not risen above 30 in its whole history, and in 1931 it was abolished as a civil parish:

The mediaeval village of Furtho seems to have grown up near the church, at the junction of the lanes which converged on the village from the four points of the compass. Through the late mediaeval and early modern periods the parish underwent a long slow depopulation as it declined into a set of farms and fields. By 1524 most of the houses in the village seem to have been demolished. A mill is mentioned in 1535, but by 1605 it was out of use - probably as a direct consequence of the depopulation process. Usage of the fields seems to have changed to pasture around the old village, though it remained mixed arable and pasture in the outlying sections of the parish until 1767.

Inclosure came early to Furtho, starting in 1572 and being completed in 1767 with the inclosure of most of the land belonging to the parish but situated outside the village. In 1572 Thomas Furtho exchanged 20 acres of common fields for plots in Furtho village held by Cosgrove villagers. As part of the exchange the villagers also surrendered their rights of way along the eastern lane into Furtho from Cosgrove. There is some debate amongst scholars as to whether this hastened or confirmed the depopulation process when the lane was stopped up, but at any rate Furtho never sat on the main road from Northampton to Watling Street (the current A508 ) and was in no position to benefit from increased trade and industrial progress which followed in later centuries.

Map of Manor Farm, Furtho
Details of Manor Farm and the Church

Furtho was counted as Crown land in 1541 and was made part of the Honor of Grafton when that was created, even though it had previously been considered part of the Duchy of Lancaster, whose rights were specifically reserved by the Act of Parliament which created the honor of Grafton. The Furtho family had held the manor from about the middle of the 14th century and their holdings were also considered to be part of the honor. Enforcement of the honor's rights and the collection of the quitrents proved more problematic, however, and from the late 1660's the manor seems no longer to be considered as part of the honor, though the Dukes of Grafton regained some control over the selection and presentation of the church incumbent after the merger of the parish with Potterspury in 1921 (see below).

The Thomas Brookesby whose will is transcribed elsewhere in Furtho Wills was the second husband of Catherine, widow of the William Furtho who died in 1503. Though married to the widow of a Furtho rather than being born a Furtho himself, he nevertheless exercised the traditional duties of a lord of the manor, and stood the traditional costs. When Edward Furtho died childless in 1621 the manor passed to his sisters in the Staunton family who sold it in 1625 to Sir Robert Banastre, a Crown official who had recently bought Passenham from the Duchy of Lancaster. Banastre's heirs sold the manor to the Arnold family in 1666, and it subsequently became the basis of a charitable trust which it has remained under various trustees to this day.

The only surviving remnant of the mediaeval manor house is a dovecot dating from the 15th century. It lies within what was the front garden of the manor house. It was restored twice in the last century - in 1917 and again in 1939-40 - and is now a scheduled ancient monument in the care of the county council.

Furtho Dovecot
FXIII.116 Bill for repair of Furtho Dovehouse by Thomas Lepper 1748

1.  December 1747

A Bill of work don at Fortho Duffhous a under Building the Inside and Reparing the pigin holes a tiling and Mending plastering on the outside of the Duffhous for Mr Alexander    

£ d
for 18 days work of Thomas Lepper masson 1 10 0
for 6 days of Samuel Read masson  0 10 0
 Reads Boy a serving 0 3 0
2 3 0

August the 14 then Recd the Contents of this Bill By mee

                                                            [signed] Thomas Lepper

2. Delid to Foather by the Order of  Mr Alexander  Nov 21 1747 £ s d
6 lb of Nails  0 2 0
8 lb of Spicks & Nails   0 2 8
1000 of 3d Lath nails 0 1 6
Dec 4  12 lb of Spicks & Nails 0 4 0
Dec 5   7 lb of Spicks & Nails 0 2 4
Dec 10  2 pare of hookes & honges 0 2 3
2000 of 3d Lath nails  0 3 0
0 17 9

Jan 23th 1747/8

Reced the full Contents by me  John Watts

3. November 6 1747  John Allexander his Bill for roofing the dovfos and other Repares   

£ s d
William Jarvies 6 dayes woorke   0 9 0
William Blackel 6 dayes woorke 0 9 0
November 16 W Jarvis 6 dayes woorke 0 9 0
William Blackel 6 dayes woorke 0 9 0
Edward Jarvies 6 dayes woorke 0 9 0
November 23 W Jarvies 6 dayes woorke 0 9 0
William Blackel 5 dayes woorke 0 7 6
Edward Jarvies 6 dayes woorke 0 9 0
November 30 W Jarvies 4 dayes woorke 0 6 0
William Blackel 4 dayes woorke 0 6 0
Edward Jarvies 4 dayes woorke 0 6 0
December 7 W Jarvies 2 dayes woorke  0 3 0
William Blackel 2 dayes woorke 0 3 0
4 11 6

Received this bill by mee

William Jarvies

4.  A Bill of the Repares of the Dufus 
£ s d
Paid for Tile and Lime 2 5 0
Paid the Mason Bill    2 3 0
Paid a Man to Sarvis the Mason 18d  0 15 0
Paid the Carpenter his Bill 4 11 6
Paid for Nails and Spikes   0 17 9
10 12 3

The manor house proper seems to have been rebuilt in the early 17th century by Edward Furtho. Repairs continued at intervals throughout the next two hundred years till in 1907 the building was beyond repair, having been empty for over 20 years in the agricultural depression of the late 19th century. In 1908 the old house was demolished and a new building was erected. The old farm buildings survived as such till 1997, when they were converted into office premises.

Furtho House plan c.1670

The church, which is dedicated to St Bartholomew, was extensively rebuilt in 1620, though the chancel retains 13th and 14th century windows. Owing to the process of depopulation, the living could only ever be viable in conjunction with another, and the advowson passed from Edmund Arnold to Jesus College, Oxford, where it remained till 1921 when the rectory of Furtho was united with the vicarage of Potterspury with Yardley Gobion to form the united benefice of Potterspury with Furtho with Yardley Gobion. Potterspury was the parish church; Yardley Gobion and Furtho adopted the status of chapel of ease. The patronage alternated between Jesus College and the Dukes of Grafton, who later presented it to the dean and chapter of Peterborough. In 1984 the living was united with Cosgrove rectory.

St Bartholomew

John Williams Mason, rector from 1843 till 1880, appears to have stimulated interest in restoring the church, but appeals to the Arnold Charity met with little success in terms of major restoration of the fabric of the building, though some refurbishment of the roof and the interior was carried out. (Read the curate's Memorandum from 1870). Since the union with Potterspury in 1921, Furtho church has faced the repeated threat of demolition. Between 1972 and 1975 the Friends of Friendless Churches, in collaboration with the Arnold Trust, did restore the church and improve public access, and in 1977 the first public service for over 40 years was held there. However, the poor condition and usage - or rather non-usage - of the church remains a source of contention. The late 1990s saw some landscaping work, carried out by the Arnold Trustees around the farm, the dovecot and the church, but those three structures are all that remain of the settlement which was once the mediaeval village of Furtho.

Memorandum. The parish Church of Furtho was restored in the year 1870. It was reopened for Divine worship on the 18th. of September in that year having been closed for nearly nine months. The restoration was carried on under the auspices of Mr. Bird as churchwarden.
R.E. Crawley Curate

The Arnold Chest from Furtho, dated 1695 - now in the foyer of the Northants Record Office