Farthinghoe is a small village in Northamptonshire that is situated on the road between Brackley and Banbury. The Egertons of Heaton Hall had owned the Farthinghoe estate long before they acquired the Heaton estate in 1684. Quite conveniently it lay on the route between London and Lancashire, and Thomas Egerton, (7th Baronet and 1st Earl) frequently called in there in his journeys between London and Heaton.
The Church of St. Michael and all Angels, Farthinghoe.
Possibly the estate came into the family in 1610 when Sir Rowland Egerton (1577-1648), the 1st Baronet, married Lady Bridget Grey of Wilton Castle. He had been born in Cheshire, but died in Farthinghoe. Lady Bridget, who was born at Wilton Castle in Herefordshire, also died at Farthinghoe, and was buried there. Lady Bridget was the sister of the 15th Baron Grey de Wilton who was attainted for his part in the Rye House Plot and lost his title and lands. It was this title that the Egertons always maintained should rightfully have passed to them through Lady Bridget, and when Sir Thomas, the 7th Baronet, was ennobled in 1784 he took the title Baron Grey de Wilton, subsequently being raised to the Earl of Wilton.
It would appear that for the early part of the seventeenth century Farthinghoe was often the home of the family. Sir John the 2nd Baronet was born there, and Sir John the 3rd Baronet may have been born there, and was certainly Christened there. But after the acquisition of Heaton in 1684 and the building of a new hall there, (the building prior to the existing one), Heaton became the principal abode of the family.
To some extent the Farthinghoe estate may have suffered neglect after that. In 1771 and 1772 the young Sir Thomas Egerton, having just come of age, commissioned two surveys of the land at Farthinghoe, possibly with the view of selling the estate to provide funds for the new Hall he was intending to build at Heaton.
The 1771 survey described the extent of the estate. There were seven farms rented out to tenant farmers; a house and pasture with two small parcels of land; a house with shop and stable; an inn; a cottage rented out without land; and a small plot of land without buildings rented to a freeholder. This first survey was a preliminary one. The survey made in the following year described the condition of the land and made suggestions for improvement, suggesting there had been some neglect of recent years.
‘This Estate… is naturally good land and had formerly been open field, perhaps 200 years ago, and applied to the growth and getting of corn ….. and some of the lands by too frequent tillage are become poor, so that they now only grow a small quantity of corn on a deal of land. …… On the grazing farms they milk many cows but having no convenience fit to make cheese but take off the butter and feed hogs with the milk, which form of management appears (to me at least) wasteful, as I think butter, cheese and hogs would pay more than butter and hogs only. ……. Also I think it would be right to admit a small quantity of tillage on the grass farms, with the restriction not to take more than two crops, and lay it down with white clover. ….. The hedges (which are the landlord’s property) are very much overgrown and want to be cut.’
The valuation placed on the estate was a net annual rental income, after land tax, of £800 which, using the practice of valuing land as thirty times the annual income, gave the sale value of the estate as £24,000 (about £1.5 million at today’s values). As things turned out, young Sir Thomas Egerton did not sell the estate. About the same time he inherited another estate from a cousin, and that was sold to help finance the rebuilding of Heaton Hall during the 1770s.
On his frequent journeys between London and Heaton Thomas Egerton frequently called in at Farthinghoe to keep in touch with his people there. In the account of his travel expenses that he kept, he recorded that on his journey back to Heaton after his grand tour in Europe, he visited Farthinghoe on 25th July 1785, where he gave a guinea to the bell-ringers, two guineas to the poor of the parish, and five shillings to the sexton of the church. The journey from London to Heaton took about eight days, with overnight stays along the way. He did not stop overnight at Farthinghoe, but at Aynhoe the night before, and at Banbury the night after.