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Pitchley, or Pytchley (All Saints)

PITCHLEY, or Pytchley (All Saints), a parish, in the union of Kettering, hundred of Orlingbury, N. division of the county of Northampton, 2¾ miles (S. by W.) from Kettering; containing 610 inhabitants. This parish, in Domesday book called Picts-lea and Pights-lei, comprises by measurement 2758 acres, whereof 1444 are arable, 1248 meadow and pasture, and 66 woodland. Much of the soil is very excellent, and produces fine barley; the surface is undulated and well wooded, and watered by several brooks that fall into a branch of the river Nene. The substratum contains limestone, used for building and for burning into lime; there is also marble, but of inferior quality. The females are employed in making pillow-lace, for which purpose there are schools; and the manufacture of shoes, for the dealers in the neighbourhood, is likewise carried on. The ancient manor-house built by the Isham family in Elizabeth's reign, was pulled down in 1829, and its beautiful gateway was removed in 1843 to Overston Park: the manor-house of the Washbourns still exists, though much dilapidated. The living is a vicarage; net income, £99; patron and appropriator, the Bishop of Lichfield. The church, which has been recently repaired, is a venerable and spacious structure, of great antiquity, and of beautiful Norman, early English, and later English architecture. There is a small place of worship for Wesleyans. William Aylworth in 1661 bequeathed a rent-charge of £20, for the support of a free school.

In the churchyard, at a great depth, are British kistvaens or rough stone coffins, which seem to have been unknown to the builders of even the earliest walls of the church: the skeletons face the east, and Roman pottery, an amethyst, ear-drop, and a large wild-boar's tusk, have been found among them. A little distance northward of the church is a barrow; Druids' beads and other relics have been found near, and the numerous bones almost indicate a battle at some very early date. Roman coins of Nero, Drusus, and others, have been found in the parish. The usual oolite fossils of the district abound: slabs of stone are quarried, on which impressions of sand-ripple are strongly marked, crossed by footsteps of birds and crawlings of vermicular animals. A shallow valley here has a line of boulders across its surface, consisting of basalt, granite, greenstone, chalk, grit, encrinites, fossil-wood, &c., not belonging to the neighbourhood. Simon Gunton, the historian of Peterborough, was vicar of Pitchley in 1638.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.