Southoe and Midloe History

The village of Southoe and the hamlet of Midloe form a civil parish lying west of the A1 Great North road in the county of Cambridgeshire.  Southoe is a dormitory and agricultural village with some 400+ residents.  It has a long history of occupation and has been known variously as Sutham (6th century), Sutho, Suho (12th century and later), and Southogh (15th century).  Its population has increased from 234 in 1801, 307 in 1851, 213 in 1901, 267 in 1951, 269 in 1971 and 465 in 1991.

Midloe has been known as Middelhoo, Mydelhoo (12th-16th century); Medlowe (16th century) and Midloe (Modern).  Originally for ecclesiastical purposes, Southoe was linked with Hail Weston, being known as 'Southoe with Hail Weston', but this link has now been broken. The civil parish was abolished in 1935 to help create Southoe and Midloe .  There is no church in Midloe, which itself consists solely of a 16th century grange farmhouse and a scattering of cottages. Geographically Southoe is located in OS grid square TL 184644 and occupies 1487 acres of land of which more than 12 acres is covered by water (Paxton Pits lies within the parish).  Years ago the hamlet of Boughton lay partially in this parish and partly in Diddington which adjoins it to the north. However, Boughton became an abandoned village many years ago and only Boughton Lodge Farm continues the name.

 

St Leonard’s church does not appear in the Domesday survey of 1086 but, in about 1160, a stone church was built here, of which the greater part of the chancel with the chancel arch remains, and the south doorway which has been reset in the wall of the south aisle. In the 13th century, the chancel was lengthened, the nave rebuilt with a south arcade and a south aisle. In about 1500, the north arcade and aisle were added, the south aisle largely rebuilt and the clearstory and porch added.  Towards the end of the 16th century, the tower was built on the site of the western bay of the north aisle. The church was restored in 1859 when the south-west corner of the chancel, the clearstory, the east respond of the south arcade, the east window of the south aisle, the west window of the nave and the porch were rebuilt, and the whole of the roofs were renewed.  The church of St. Leonard consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, south aisle, tower at the north-west corner and a south porch. The walls are of pebble rubble, except for the tower and clearstory which are of red brick; all have stone dressings. The north aisle is of ashlar, and the roofs are of slate and lead.  The south facing porch is partly of Norman origin.

 

The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland – 1868 says

"SOUTHOE, a parish in the hundred of Toseland, county Huntingdon, 7 miles south-west of Huntingdon, its post town, and 3 north-west of St. Neot's. It is situated near the river Ouse, on the Great North-road from London to York. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agriculture. Southoe was formerly held by the Lovetots, John of Gaunt, and the Pickerings. The living is a vicarage with that of Hail Weston annexed, in the diocese of Ely, value£288. The church, dedicated to St. Leonard, is an ancient structure with a square embattled tower containing a clock and four bells. The parochial charities produce about £2 per annum. There is a National school for both sexes. R. W. Standley, Esq., is lord of the manor."  Sadly the school disappeared in the 1970s, followed by the two remaining public houses and the village shop and Post Office. 

 

The Lovetot family are mentioned again here –

 

The village lies along a by-road just west of the modern main A1 dual-carriageway highway from London to the north, on ground rising westwards from the River Ouse. The church stands near the crossing of two roads, and to the west of it is the old rectory with the Rectory Farm. To the east of the rectory is a homestead moat which probably marks the site of the house of the Lovetot family which they made their chief home when John de Lovetot was born in 1298. The home was said to be in ruins by 1350 and was probably never rebuilt; shortly after, the property went to the Earls of Gloucester who had much other property elsewhere. There are other timber-framed houses and cottages in the village street, at the south end of which is Manor Farm where there is another homestead moat within which probably stood the home of the Ferrars, of Winchester Manor.

 

 The date of this account is not known.  Eustace de Lovetot was Sheriff of Huntingdonshire in the time of Domesday and his descendants lived here for many hundreds of years.  The Ferrars mentioned in this extract are probably the “Ferrers” mentioned here:

“An entirely distinct property in Southoe and Hail Weston was held in the time of Domesday by Robert Fafiton. Later on, it belonged to Saher de Quincy, and passed, like much of his property, to the Lords Ferrers of Chartley. A property which was probably this was purchased by William Chaderton, Bishop of Lincoln (1596–1608), and descended by heir-ship to Samuel Fortrey.”

 

The village was even the home of one of the Bishops of Lincoln -

“William Chaderton — Chatterton — (held office 1595‑1608), President of Queen's College, Cambridge, 1568; Archdeacon of York; Prebendary of Westminster, 1576; Bishop of Chester, 1579‑1595; resided at Southoe.”   This must have been when the diocese was the largest in England, extending from the Thames in the south to the Humber in the north.  Chaderton apparently let the former Bishop’s Palace in what is now Buckden Towers, go to ruin, presumably because he preferred to live in Southoe!

This description of a Mr Thomas Bowyer of Huntingdon confirms the existence of the Bishop’s Palace in Southoe:-

A man of great taste and fine culture, he is naturally much at home in his position of Church Warden of Southoe Church. A devoted Churchman, he is always ready to speak of the close association between his house and the ancient Bishops of Lincoln. Here for many centuries they possessed a palace and park, in the days when they ruled over the Church from Thames to Humber. Four of those eminent prelates rest within the fine old church, including the saintly Dr Sanderson, who had so much to do with the last revision of the Book of Common Prayer. Needless to say, this historic structure will lose nothing of its dignity under the care of so able and popular a custodian.”   George Gaskell 1900

Important days for the village of Southoe!  It would be interesting to know where the “palace and park” were located.