Souldrop in the thirteenth century:
There were two types of common rights to pasture – on the waste, and on the arable fields after they had been cropped or on the meadows after the hay was mown. In the 12th century grants to use the common were known in general terms or if terms were specific, they were generous.
However, by the mid 13th century, disputes had arisen. Sometimes men tried to share in the common of adjoining vills, as did a Souldrop man at Knotting – but he was debarred. ref 4 .
‘Advowson’ is a term used in English ecclesiastical law meaning ‘The right of presentation to a church or ecclesiastical benefice; the right of presenting a fit person to the bishop, to be by him admitted and instituted to a certain benefice within the diocese, which has become vacant’.
(Black’s Law Dictionary)
Uproar at All Saints!
In 1270 there was an uproar in Souldrop over a disputed advowson, ‘when one claimant with his men took possession of the church, and the other attacked the church with crossbows and brought fire to burn the door, while those inside shot arrows’ – one man was killed. ref 4 .
The disturbance started at the church gates and continued through the churchyard to the church. The rector and his followers locked themselves in the church and went up into the bell tower, pulling up the ladder behind them. Their rivals tried to burn down the church door, but were unsuccessful. The fight continued with bows and arrows, the rector and his supporters having the advantage from their elevated position in the bell tower. The widow of the man who was killed attempted to bring an action against the rector, but no evidence could be produced to prove who had fired the fatal arrow. ref 1 .
Metal detectorists who have surveyed around Souldrop have found a few Romano British denarii,and part of a post medieval silver harness fitting’ ref 5 .
© Ella Jo Street