ASGARBY AND HOWELL: HOWELL
The present settlement of Howell is not large (Fig 10) and the surviving earthworks are typical of a shrunken village site. They comprise two groups, separated by Howell Manor and the church. In both parts can be seen sunken ways and crofts. To the west of the manor house shallow ditches outline three crofts, one of which appears to be subdivided. Abutting north is a sunken way, an extension of a lane which now only leads to farm buildings. North of this is a short length of north-south ridge and furrow abutting on a long east-west headland. South of the manor house and church the crofts are less regular, with a disturbed area in the centre of the field; they are again delimited by ridge and furrow on the south-west side (Fig 11).
Although the earthworks clearly demonstrate that the village has been much larger than at present, the settlement was probably always of modest size. Before the Conquest it was a minor element in the large estate of Sleaford, but by 1066 it had been divided into four parcels of sokeland attached to manors in Kirkby, Sleaford, Culverthorpe, and Ewerby (1). The total recorded population was thirteen sokemen, seven bordars, and one priest, but this figure probably includes the inhabitants of Boughton, and possibly part of Asgarby, which seems to be included in the account of the bishop of Lincoln's land in Howell (2), and it is clear that the settlement was small for the wapentake and area. Later ecclesiastical taxations and lay subsidies reveal a similar pattern. However, the settlement was clearly not static or in slow decline throughout its history. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the smaller holdings in the vill apparently remained unmanorialised, and rents were paid to non-resident lords, but thirteen bovates in Howell that belonged to the bishop of Lincoln's fee in Boughton, Howell, and Asgarby were granted to a tenant for non-military service, and a knight was enfeoffed in the land which was held of the honour of Gant (3). The effect of these developments on the settlement are undocumented, but population growth, as both cause and result, probably accompanied the process. The subsequent contraction of the settlement has not been dated, but presumably began in the fourteenth century, as elsewhere in the area, and was exacerbated by a severe visitation of the plague in the sixteenth.
1. Lincs DB, 1/3; 7/46; 24/31; 26/39; 67/2.
2. See under Boughton.
3. BF, 179, 1032; RA no 377; RH i, 242.