The Church of St Oswald, Rand



Rand church is first explicitly noticed in 1241 although priests of Rand repeatedly appear in 12th-century charters. The excavation, however, has suggested that the church was a more ancient foundation and was preceded by a graveyard which may or may not have been associated with an earlier church. Since early documentation is absent it is clearly not possible to describe the early history of the church with any degree of precision but its origins and status can be inferred from what can be perceived of the nature of early ecclesiastical provision within the wapentake of Wraggoe. Since the relationship between churches and estates was very clear in the early middle ages the analysis must inevitably begin with the tenurial context of Rand.

In 1086 the vill was apparently one parcel of land held by 8 sokemen and 5 bordars and was soke of the manor of Wragby. This extensive estate was held by Erneis de Burun in succession to Countess Gudeta, the wife of Earl Waltheof, and consisted of a manorial caput in Wragby itself, with a berewick in Kingthorpe,and sokeland in Hatton, Calceby, Panton, Hardwick, Barkwith, Torrington, Langton, Fulnetby, Rand, Girsby and Burgh. In addition there were 4 bovates of sokeland in Legsby which were held by William de Percy and almost certainly one carucate in Holton which was accidentally omitted from Domesday Book. It appears in the Lindsey Survey of c.1115, and all the subsequent feodaries, and makes up the assessment of the vill to three carucates, a basic unit of assessment in the wapentake. Unlike many manors in the Lincolnshire Domesday, Wragby was not tenurially dependent upon another estate and the size and spatial distribution of its soke within the centre of Wraggoe and the common first element in both their names, suggest that the manor had a primary relationship to the wapentake. Whatever the origins of the type it is clear that Wragby is of the genus large soke, shire, lathe or multiple estate, that is an estate which owes its form and constitution to a system of royal tribute.

One of the characteristics, and indeed, diagnostic features of the type is the presence of a unified ecclesiastical structure. In the north of England the identity of shire and parish is well recognised, 6 but the form is not unknown in Lincolnshire. In 1086 the ecclesiastical dues of the soke of Grantham belonged to St Wulfram's7 and until the 19th century all the churches of the liberty pertained to the two Salisbury prebends in the same church. The reasons for the survival of this minster and its parochia are complex but the emphasis is upon survival for it is probably a mistake to see the church of Grantham as an example of a rare type of foundation. Even though it had an extensive parish in 1086 it had evidently begun to fragment before the Conquest. The church of Great Ponton, for example, belonged to the soke but that of Little Ponton did not, even though the vill clearly had been at some earlier period. It would appear that the creation of Turvert's manor in the settlement, presumably by booking, (although not necessarily to Turvert as tenant or his predecessor) had been accompanied by alienation of ecclesiastical dues, for in the 13th century the lord of the fee, Baldwin de Ponton, had the advowson of the church. The fragmentation of the parochia in this way was probably arrested by the emergence of the church of St Wulfram as an interest with its own identity. In 1086 it was held by Bishop Osmund of Salisbury and it is possible that it had formed a separate estate before the Conquest. thus the ecclesiastical provision of the soke was removed from the land market and the disruptive effects of booking and manorialisation at an early date. It is probably precisely for this reason that the archaic ecclesiastical structure of the soke survived.

Elsewhere large churches, whether minster or collegiate, may have existed but failed to survive because they were overcome by the forces which were leading to the fragmentation of estates in the 10th and 11th centuries. Nevertheless, it is sometimes possible to identify such churches and their former parishes, when specific evidence is wanting, by examining the pattern of advowsons in relation to estate structure. Such an analysis suggests that ecclesiastical provision in at least seven parishes was reserved to the manor of Wragby. In Table 1 the patron of every church in the wapentake of Wraggoe, where known, is indicated and the fee to which the church belonged is identified by reference to its Domesday Book counterpart. Thus, for example, the church of Burgh on Bain belonged to Nuncoton Priory in the 13th century to whom it had been granted by the chapter of Swinehey (Yorks) and Richard de Verli. Richard held his manor from the Archbishop of York whose estate in Burgh is described in the Lincolnshire Domesday2/5. It is an open question whether there was a church in Burgh in 1086 but if there was it is more likely to have belonged to the Archbishop's fee than any other for, whatever the reason, the manor later had the rights to ecclesiastical dues from the parish. Table 1 shows that three churches recorded in Domesday Book-West Barkwith, Panton and Wragby-were in the soke of Wragby and a further four-Hatton, Holton, Rand and East Torrington-were associated with the Wragby fee since they were held by knights who had been enfeoffed in the soke. Other churches should perhaps be added to this total. Legsby church belonged to Robert de Tegney who held of the Percy fee. In 1086 at least 4 bovates of this manor was soke of Wragby. Langton church was held by William, son of Simon de Kyme, who held his fee from the Bishop of Lincoln. In 1086 the land was soke of Waldin the Engineer's manor of Wragby in succession to Godevert. Although the estate is very small, which makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions from its form, the fact that it mirrors the relationship between Gudeta's manor in Wragby and its sokeland in Langton, may suggest that it had formerly belonged to the larger estate. At any rate the church of Langton is quite clearly associated with the vill of Wragby. Bullington church also belonged to William, son of Simon de Kyme, but it cannot be identified with a Domesday book fee.

Table 1: the patrons of churches and the corresponding Domesday fees







LRS 9, 67




HW 3, 71


Barkwith, East

Hugh de Verly, Beatrice de Verly

LRS 9, 137; BF 170


Barkwith, West

Robert de Davill

LRS 9, 132







Bp of Durham

LRS 9, 218



William son of Simon de Kyme

LRS 18, 92


Burgh on Bain

Nunccoton Priory, Suyna, Verly

LRS 9, 60; Mon.Ang. v, 675; BF 170







Hugh Brito, Constance his wife

LRS 9, 120



Robert de Ros

LRS 9, 109







William son of Simon de Kyme

LRS 18, 92; BF 171



Robert son of Robert de Tegney

LRS 18, 2; BF 171






Ludford Magna

Jocelin of Louvain

LRS 18, 36


Ludford Parva





Walter Wildeker

LRS 9, 203; BF 172







William son of Hacon

LRS 18, 36



Helto of Snelland

CChR 2, 291



Bardney, William de Neville?

LRS 3, 140; BF 170



Stainfield Priory

LRS 9, 66



Ralph de Normanville

LRS 9, 196


Torrington, East

John de Jurpenville

LRS 9, 196; BF 172


Torrington, West

Bullington, Gilbert son of Jocelin

LRS 9, 83; VCH




Mon.Ang. vi, 425


Willingham, South





William de Ros

LRS 3, 209


Thus, with the exception of Kingthorpe in Apley and Burgh on Bain, wherever there was soke of Wragby the church of the parish belonged to the Wragby fee or was associated with the vill of Wragby. This is a truly remarkable pattern in the light of the complexities of tenurial structure in the wapentake. It is true that two parishes, Rand and Hatton, and possibly a third, East Torrington, were composed entirely of soke of Wragby, but the remaining parishes encompassed a number of estates held by different lords.It seems more than coincidental, then, that the church is always associated with the fee of Wragby, a phenomenon which is the more striking since much of the land was soke in 1086 and only manorialised in the 12th century. It suggests that ecclesiastical provision in these parishes was in some way reserved to the Wragby fee. Thus, although other lords may have obtained manors by booking, the ecclesiastical dues were usually retained within the soke and so, by implication, belonged to a church in Wragby, just as the soke dues belonged to a hall in the same vill. The continued reservation of ecclesiastical provision in this way must imply the existence of daughter churches within the soke.With the growing acceptance of the right of existing churches to expect tithe from from a defined area, the freedom to build new foundations on bookland probably became increasingly circumscribed. Hence the survival of a substantial part of the soke of Wragby into the 11th century, with its own ecclesiastical structure, ensured that ecclesiastical dues were retained within the manor despite the emergence of new estates within its parish. It is true that Domesday Book only records three churches in the soke in 1086 but the silence of the survey is to be expected and, somewhat obliquely, reinforces the argument. In Lincolnshire, as elsewhere, the commissioners did not record every single church. the main criterion of selection seems to have been related to the main aims of the enquiry: the record of the interests of the tenants-in-chief. 76% of all churches occur in manorial entries, and many of the remaining 24% are associated with demesne teams. Overwhelmingly, the Domesday Book church is private and manorial and, by implication, has more or less full parochial rights. thus a collegiate foundation like Winghale does not appear in the body of the text-its existence is noted incidentally in the Clamores- because it was not held by anyone in particular. Similarly the church of Colsterworth does not appear because it belonged to the church of Grantham and its value is subsumed in that entry. The absence of the record of a church implies a non-demesnal, perhaps collegiate, church, a dependent daughter church or no church at all. The evidence from the soke of Wragby is consistent with this analysis. All three of the Domesday churches are associated with demesne: a church is recorded in the caput in Wragby and in Barkwith and Panton where Erneis de Burun had demesne teams. Any daughter church would be less likely to appear because of its status. Nevertheless, the excavation has shown that Rand at least was probably in existence at the time when the Domesday Book survey was compiled.

In conclusion it can be suggested that the ecclesiastical structure of the soke of Wragby was probably similar to that of Grantham. despite the absence in the sources of any explicit relationship between the church of Wragby and the surrounding churches. The pattern of advowsons in the wapentake suggests that here was a minster in caput of the manor with daughter churches, of which Rand was one, within the soke. Unlike Grantham this structure did not survive into the well-documented 13th century and beyond. Its dissolution can probably be attributed to the fact that the church of Wragby was not granted to a religious corporation at an early date. The process of disintegration probably began before the Conquest. The parishes which are associated with the manor of probably define the minimum area of the parochia of Wragby, but already its topographical anomalies suggest fragmentation. The division of the Barkwiths and the Torringtons is reminiscent of the two Pontons and suggests that booking was responsible. If this process was initially checked the complete disintegration of the structure probably went hand in hand with the dissolution of the soke through the creation of demesne, enfeoffment and manorialisation after the Conquest.

It was clearly this process which saw the emergence of St Oswald's as a private church with full parochial rights. By the late 13th century the lord of Rand was the patron of the parish church and the closeness of the relationship is apparent in the earthworks of the nucleated village. In the first observable phase of its development the church was adjacent to, if not part of, a two row settlement which probably owed its form to seigneurial regulation, while in the second it was completely enclosed within the manorial curia. Its importance is apparent but the exact nature of the relationship is probably not simple. Firstly, the actual change of tenure was probably protracted for it is difficult to identify a precise date when Rand was separated from the soke. According to the inquest returns of 1212, there were two phases of enfeoffment. Between c.1153 and c.1176 William Trussebut parcelled out fees in Holton, Fulnetby, Kingthorpe, Panton, Hatton, East Torrington and West Barkwith. Some years later between c.1190 and c.1193 his second son Robert created further fees in Hellethorpe, Rand and Beckering, Holton and Torrington. There is clearly some substance in this account. Rand was granted to Stephen Burdet for the service of a half of a knight's fee and was subsequently held by the Burdet family until the late-14th century. It cannot be doubted that the years between c.1190 and c.1193 marked a significant departure in the history of the settlement but the exact nature of that departure is not absolutely clear. We can be reasonably certain that there was no tenant in Rand up to c.111525 but the Burdets must have already been established in the vill when Robert Burdet de Rand witnessed a Bullington charter in 1165. In the absence of further evidence it is perhaps futile to attempt to reconcile the apparent contradiction of the sources but it may attest to the fact that enfeoffment and manorialisation were complex and protracted processes. The soke could not be and was not extinguished overnight. Indeed, as late as 1194 the Pipe Roll still refers to 'the soke of Wragby'.

Secondly if extinction of the soke nexus was a slow process, vestiges of the rights of the minster of Wragby may have persisted for some years after the first enfeoffment and even after manorialisation. However, very little evidence has survived. The first record of an institution occurs in 1241 when William de Ros, lord of Wragby, presented Master William de Horton. But this is unlikely to imply that the advowson still belonged to the manor. In both 1235 and c.1245 we hear of the lady of Rand who was probably the widow of William Burdet or his heir. Her interest in Rand was presumably confined to a dowage portion while the rest was held by William de Ros as the immediate lord in wardship. Evidently by 1242 the heir, Nicholas Burdet had come of age29 but it is not until 1283 that we learn that the lord of Rand held the advowson when Nicholas, son of Almeric Burdet, presented another Nicholas Burdet to the living. However, the church must have long been seignurial by this time. Despite the possible reservation of some of the minster's rights, it cannot be doubted that it had become closely associated with the Burdet family from the time they became permanently established within the vill, that is by 1193 at the latest.

The Parish

The parish was probably substantially defined before the church attained full parochial rights. No medieval evidence for its extent has come to light but in the 17th century, as today, it encompassed the settlements of Rand and Fulnetby and the site of Hellethorpe. In 1856 White asserted that Fulnetby was a chapelry but no authority has been found for this statement. Despite the lack of early evidence there is no reason to doubt that this was substantially the area of the medieval parish. The three settlements always seem to have been closely associated. In 1316, and subsequently, they apparently constituted a villa and part of the territory of Rand, the present Rand Wood, was situated to the north of the causeway between Whitebridge and Claybridge adjacent to the site of Hellethorpe in the 14th century. But more compelling evidence is provided by the pattern of tenure before the Conquest. If ecclesiastical dues were reserved within the soke, those of the parishes beyond probably belonged to eigenkirchen and had either always been independent of Wragby or had been appropriated to estates at the time of booking. Thus in 1086 there were independent manors to the north south and west of Rand and Fulnetby. Only to the east was there soke of Wragby in Holton and Beckering which formed a separate parish. Their distinctive character therefore define the broad outlines of parochial structure in the 11th century. In the absence of any evidence for a separate parish of Fulnetby or Hellethorpe then we are left with the essential elements of the present parish of Rand.

If there was substantial stability in the area of the parish it is nevertheless clear that its boundaries have been subject to minor alterations. There is only one medieval reference to a boundary which can be identified on the modern map. In 1306 Whitebridge was said to be between the townships of Rand and Newball. Both today and on the earliest maps the parish boundary passes through this point. This early reference is of interest since the pattern of tenure in the 11th century would tend to suggest an early boundary at this point. Such is not the case to the east. The boundary with Holton and Beckering, likewise in the soke of Wragby, may have been subject to adjustment. Indeed the three carucates of the 1212 fee which seem to represent the Domesday Book entry identified as Rand, are said to be in Rand and Beckering. Subsequently, the fee also included land in Holton. The boundary with the parish of Bullington to the south is a more difficult problem . In the 16th century Bullington cum Goltho was in some way associated with Rand. However, the chapel of Goltho, a donative, was still in use and the interests of Rand church may have been confined to burials-the monuments of the Metham family of Bullington Hall are still preserved in the church. It is therefore unlikely that the boundary was affected. However, adjustments may have been made at an earlier date. Rand and Bullington intercommoned in the 13th century and part of the boundary between them, possibly to the south-west, may have been subsequently defined. The prior of Bullington also held land from the manor of Rand, part of which was probably situated to the south of the causeway next to Rand Wood. This may have been incorporated into Bullington, with consequent changes in boundaries, after the Dissolution since the priory's lands were tithe-free.

The area of the parish, although in its essentials early, probably does not necessarily represent any defined Anglo-Saxon economic unit. Little is known of the relationship between sokemen in the 11th century, even less earlier. But the nucleated settlement of Rand is probably a post-conquest development closely associated with feudal lordship. In 1086 settlement may have been more dispersed with a consequent for less communal organisation but Rand and Fulnetby with Hellethorpe, assessed at 6 carucates in 1066, may have together constituted a unit of local government, that is half a hundred, or individually, subdivisions thereof.

Later History

The patronage of the church remained with the lord of the manor until it was granted to Bullington Priory in 1461 by William de Willoughby. Nothing is known of the role of the various manorial lords of the parish in the development of the fabric. No doubt one of the early phases identified in the excavation represents a church enlarged or rebuilt by the Burdets when they acquired the advowson but as little is known of the manorial history of the parish as of the church. It is therefore impossible to attempt to identify the historical context of each phase. In general terms, however, the church probably reflected the fortunes of the parish. in the 13th and 14th centuries Rand cum membris was probably well-populated and modestly prosperous. in 1291 St Oswald's was one of the most valuable churches in the wapentake, some 10 above the average, and no doubt, the church had been enlarged to meet the needs of the community at this time. Rand itself suffered its worst depopulation in the 15th and early 16th centuries43 but its effect on the church may have been delayed by the patronage of the prosperous Fulnetby family of Fulnetby. Moreover in the 16th century the income of the parish must have been augmented, if only marginally, by the association of the parish of Bullington cum goltho with Rand. In 1603 there were 123 communicants drawn from the two parishes. The parish was probably enclosed in the course of the 17th century and by the early 18th century its population was down to 15 households in Rand and Fulnetby combined. By 1783 resources were not adequate enough to maintain the church and the parishioners demolished the north aisle claiming that it was 'in so ruinous a state that it must be taken down.... the said church is much larger now than is necessary to contain the parishioners and inhabitants'. Nevertheless with the help of generous incumbents and loans the parish managed to undertake two major building projects in the 19th century. In 1830 the nave was virtually rebuilt at a cost of about 550 and 1862/3 the chancel was demolished and a new one built with a vestry to the north at a cost of 230. In 1897 there were again extensive alterations to the church.

Throughout its history the church has been a rectory. After the advowson was granted to Bullington Priory apparently no attempt was made to appropriate the church. The community only seems to have enjoyed the patronage and a vicar was therefore never ordained. After the Dissolution the right of presentment again passed into lay hands. The living was not of great value- 8 4s 10d in 1554, 30 in 1690, 68 3s 4d in 1718- and non residence was common in the 16th-18th centuries when the rectory was held in plurality. a curate was appointed to conduct the services at a small salary. The tithes were paid for by composition of 2 shillings in the pound from before 1697. By 1864 they had been commuted for 439. The glebe of the church was not extensive; the parsonage, built sometime before 1606 of wood and clay, was of three bays and floored with earth. There were three rooms with three chambers over. A new rectory was built in 1834 and enlarged in 1860. There was a little close of glebeland to the west containing 2 to 3 acres and a yard and orchard to the east.

© David Roffe, November, 2000.