A History of Humby
Throughout much of their history both Great Humby and Little Humby were small hamlets which were dependent on neighbouring settlements. Thus, in the medieval period both were in the twelve-carucate hundred, and then vill, of Ropsley, and Little Humby belonged to the Albini manor that was situated there, while Great Humby was a chapelry of Old Somerby and parcel of the Aincurt fee in the same settlement (1).
Nevertheless, there is a separate account of Humby in the Domesday Book, and this seems to refer exclusively to an estate in Great Humby since the land belonged to the honour of Walter de Aincurt. At that time, there were 15 sokemen, one villein, and one bordar there, indicating a sizeable population of perhaps 60 souls or so (2). The land probabl remained soke until sometime between 1212 and 1242 when it was subenfeoffed and a manor house was built, probably on the site of the old hall (3).
In both Great and Little Humby, manorialisation was late and probably never complete, and the fact seems to reflect the basic nature of society and settlement in the area. Socage tenure was all but universal in the eleventh century, and dispersed clusters of farms were probably the predominant form of settlement. As elsewhere, however, changing economic and climatic conditions precipitated changes in the fourteenth century and settlement began to gravitate to the primary centres and the peripheral hamlets to shrink and disappear. By the sixteenth century both Great and Little Humby had attained their present modest size.
At Great Humby the area immediately north of the seventeenth century chapel (4) is marked as the site of Great Humby Hall, and still contains two large linked water-filled moats. In the field north of these moats, and south of Overton Green, a small mound, levelled in 1981, was thought to have been a mill mound.
Great Humby Chapel
Great Humby chapel, with its mullioned windows and western bell-cote, dates from 1682 but was rebuilt and reduced in size in 1754. The building was originally the private chapel of the now demolished Great Humby Hall, the then seat of the Brownlow family.
William de Paris purchased the Manor of Humby, from Thomas de Somerby in 1232. Documentary research revealed the first Manor House was built between 1212 and 1242, probably near to the present chapel.
By the early 17th century a considerable Hall existed, probably demolished in the later 17th century.
The estate then passed finally to Sir William Brownlow, who died at the Hall in 1666.
A fieldwork survey has identified Medieval settlement earthworks, including moats which may be manorial fishponds, associated with the Manor House.
1. Lincs DB, 18/24; 31/4; FA ii Li, 145, 191; BF, 1037; D. M. Owen, 'Medieval Chapels in Lincolnshire', LHA 10, (1975), 20. Before the Conquest Great Humby was probably in the parish of Ropsley, for in 1086 the customs and tithes of the land were said to belong to the church of St Peter (Lincs DB, 72/56). The division of the land of Tori, who held both Ropsley and Old Somerby in 1066, between two tenants-in- chief in the reign of the Conqueror seems to have also shaped the boundaries of parishes in the area. Great Humby was administered with Somerby from the sixteenth century as a member of its parish, and it is possible that it had been in the vill of Somerby at an earlier period.
2. Lincs DB, 31/4.
3. BF, 1037.
4. Pevsner, Lincs, 552-3.