COVINGTON, HUNTINGDONSHIRE, ENGLAND

Takes it's name from the Anglo-Saxon "Town of the Cufa Tribe" or Cufa-inga-tun.

A Parish in Huntingdon District in the County of Cambridgeshire, 3.25 miles WNW of Kimbolton and 11 miles East of Wellingborough, covering 1294 Acres. Archdeaconed at Huntingdon and diocesed in Lincoln.

Registered District Number 333-2.

National Grid Reference TL0571.

A small and quite remote little farming village, Covington is near the Three Shires Stone which marks the point where Cambridgeshire (or Huntingdonshire as it would have been when the stone was erected), Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire meet.  A moat of an early building survives and the church retains both Norman and Saxon fonts. 

It is described simply as a village with a 17th Century Hall and a church on a hill amongst great elm trees.

Military History

The war memorial with detailed information about those who fell is available on the Roll of Honour site for Huntingdonshire.

Population

Population in 1801 - 104.
Population in 1851 - 162.
Population in 1901 - 100.
Population in 1931 - 82
Population in 1951 - 90.
Population in 1971 - 92
Population in 1981 - 95.
Population in 1991 - 83.

Poorhouses, Poor Law etc

The parish of Covington was in the Thrapston Union of Northamptonshire for Poor Law administration.

Statistics

The parish of Covington occupies 1294 acres of land.

THE CHURCH

The doorway of the Norman-built St Margaret's Church, which is dedicated to All Saints, is as original with a plain door set in stone of wood & iron. This north doorway is believed to be unchanged since built by the Normans. Wind and rain have worn away the sculpture in the tympanum above the door, but the quaint Norman carving can still be recognized. It shows a bird, riding a griffin and a monkey riding a lion. There is also a 13th Century chancel, the font, a stained glass window, a chest made in 1700, a group of Tudor bench-ends, a medieval stone coffin and a fragment of 14th Century glass.  

There has been a lot of debate over the years as to whether this is the church of All Saints or of St. Margaret. The Victoria County History comments as follows:

"The dedication is commonly supposed to be to St. Margaret, but ancient wills conclusively prove it to have been to All Saints".

Of course, some still believe that the name was changed after the Reformation and although the current name may be All Saints, the original (Catholic) name is St. Margaret's. Then again, during the Civil War, Covington was close to the seat of Cromwell's power, and the then Lord, the Duke of Manchester, was a sympathiser. The name may have changed then. There is certainly some evidence that the history of the church had been tampered with in the years following the Civil War, one of our more illustrious Rectors - who was expelled during the Civil War - seems to have been erased from the records, for instance.

The arms on the window fragment represent Sir Robert de Bayeux, or Bayouse, a Norman lord of the manor of Covington, who sat for the county in the Edward 2nd Parliament of 1309. The church register dates from 1539. In 1821 the living was described as a rectory, in the archdeaconry of Huntingdon, and diocese of Lincoln, rated in the King's books at £10 1s 8d.  

Only the nave remains of the original 12th century stone church, which may have replaced an earlier building, but there's no evidence of it's existence now. The chancel was rebuilt c1300 and early in the 14th century a chapel was added on the south side of the nave. This chapel was demolished and the connecting arch blocked at some time in the 15th century. The tower was probably built around 1330 but was considerably altered around 1500. There is some evidence that the tower once had a spire but this may have been pulled down around 1500. Local stories suggest that the top part of the tower did, in fact, fall down. Certainly, the tower exhibits some alarming (but stable) cracks. Some less stable than others, a fact missed by a recent survey but noted while maintenance and restoration work was being undertaken. Previous restoration work was carried out in 1882-3 involving the roof and south porch. The organ chamber and vestry were also added then. The south wall of the chancel was rebuilt in 1911 and the northern roof of the Chancel was re-tiled in 1999 with Marley "Dreadnought" tiles - the same tiles as used in 1882-3, except the 1999 tiles are metric. The 1882 roof is visible on the picture (below), but it's not possible to see how badly frost-damaged the tiles are.

On a less serious note, the view from the South-East corner of the Churchyard is locally considered to be one of the best in Huntingdonshire, with a fine view down the valley towards the villages of Tilbrook and Kimbolton, the church towers of which can be clearly seen. Although considered to be a pretty flat county, Covington is situated approximately 76m (220ft) above sea level, which makes it one of the loftiest parts of Huntingdonshire.

The following comments can be found on the official Covington Amenities Committee Website in, Huntingdonshire website, penned by Simon Parsons  http://www.covington.org.uk - clearer info on the Coat of Arms can be found on my Coat of Arms web page.

Have you noticed the "arms" of the Parish? - It came from a broken painted plaster plaque found under a cupboard in the church vestry with the dedication "Covington" at the top and the motto "INVIDERE SPERNO" (never spurn) at the bottom. Such is the state of the local archives that the origin of the arms is unknown - perhaps it's one of those "Arms of your family" you used to be able to buy mail order? 

I suspect that it's involved with the supposed dedication to St. Margaret. The shield shows a net (fishing for souls) and a cross - probably depicting the cross of St. Andrew on the Scottish flag (St. Margaret was a Queen of Scotland although she was actually English). The little stars are starfish, by the way. The rest of the achievement appears to have been lifted from the arms of Huntingdonshire with a slight modification to the standard. The design and colour scheme doesn't follow the rules of Heraldry, so it's at best no more than 150 years old (many town and council arms appeared at that time and also have colour-on-colour arms). It's also not the arms of the original Norman Lord of Covington.

The main landowners in 1940 were Messrs. William Brown, Arthur Higgins & Oliver Williams. Covington Hall overlooks the village.

Churchwardens of St. Margarets Church in May 1985 were Mr. T. Brown of The Manor, Covington (Tel Huntingdon 861525) & Mrs. G. Hill, Rookery Farmhouse, Covington (Tel Huntingdon 861311).

The Rural Dean & Priest in charge of Covington, Catworth & Tilbrook was Rev. R.J. Macklin, The Vicarage, Kimbolton.

Patron - Earl Fitzwilliam of Covington, a parish in the union of Thrapston hundred of Leightonstone.

(Topographical Dictionary of England)(The Kings England)/(Kelly's Directory (Hunts))(Lewis's Topographical Dictionary)(News Sheet for the Parishes of Catworth, Covington & Tilbrook)(Census of England & Wales 1931, 1971 & 1981)(Gazetteer of the British Isles - Bartholomew 9th Edition)(A Genealogical Gazettteer of England - Smith)


Additional historical detail on St Margaret from Rupert Barnes (r@rahbarnes.demon.co.uk)

Margaret's father was Edward the Ętheling (known as "Edward the Exile"), son of King Edmund Ironside. Two princes fled abroad when Cnut seized the throne and started murdering their kinsmen. Edward the Exile and his two children returned from Hungary only during the reign of his uncle (and namesake). In 1066 Margaret and her brother Edgar fled to Scotland, with much of the English nobility. Edgar tried ineffectually to wrest the throne from William the Bastard. Margaret reluctantly married Malcolm III (aye, that one - the final hero in Macbeth).

Queen Margaret's sons inherited Scotland and her daughter married Henry I of England. Thus Queen Margaret, and the House of Wessex, gave birth to the royal lines of England and of Scotland, two lines reunited in James VI & I of course.

Queen Margaret's youngest son was David I, King of Scots. Through his marriage to the Countess of Huntingdon, Scots kings held the Earldom of Huntingdon for many years. Whether that influenced the original dedication of Covington church we may never know.

Queen Margaret was hailed as a saint for reforming (or perhaps deforming) the church in Scotland, bringing it into line with continental norms.  That might also be a motivation for removing her dedication later, though until we know when that happened we can only guess at the reasons.

Yours sincerely

Rupert Barnes

 

FURTHER COVINGTON DATA

OFFICIAL COVINGTON VILLAGE WEBSITE

 

  

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E-mail to: covingtonhistory@btinternet.com
Copyright Martin H Covington 1956, updated 30 Aug 2000