A few months ago the History Association challenged Clive Carter to use his extensive research skills to solve a conundrum that, over the years, has perplexed many historians, including Helen Belgion the author of the comprehensive ‘Titchmarsh Past and Present’. The question is, ‘Where exactly was the Titchmarsh manor house, the home of the Pickering family?’ The prime candidates for its location were the playing field, the corner of Church Field near the Islington/Plum Pudding Road junction, or a site out at The Warren.
Last Friday evening, Clive gave a fascinating account of his research and the conclusions that he has reached. Drawing on an extensive range of documents (some which had to be transcribed from the Latin) including wills, old maps, copies of legal proceedings, the Enclosure Award, church records such as a Glebe Terrier, and a royal pardon, Clive has concluded that:
• the road pattern in the 1600s varied considerably from that today with, for example, the original links to Thrapston and Thorpe following significantly different routes;
• the ownership of the manor of Titchmarsh by the Pickerings was not a simple arrangement and indeed some of it passed out their hands for a while;
• a major change occurred in the 1640s and 1650s when Gilbert Pickering appears to have created Church Street and then subsequently received permission to cut off part of the old road from Titchmarsh to Thrapston;
• there was an earlier manor house known variously as The Lodge or Titchmarsh Grove which was built in the east of the parish near the boundary with Bythorn;
• and, most intriguing of all, Titchmarsh manor house or mansion house as it was sometimes called was located close to the church on and behind the land occupied today by the school and the school field. It was a very large house, similar in size to Canons Ashby House, and was probably built in the mid to late 1500s by John Pickering and demolished by Thomas Powys, later the first Lord Lilford, in 1771.
Not only has Clive finally identified the true location of the house but he has also found descriptions of it and, amazingly, a complete inventory of its contents. He is continuing his research and, among a number of leads, is looking for pictures of the house and of members of the Pickering family.
In response to the many requests from people disappointed not to have been able to attend his talk, Clive has agreed to repeat it early in the New Year. Look out for further details.