An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 2, North. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1913.
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Unlike the other home counties Buckinghamshire retained an existence independent of London until recent developments of railway systems made it more accessible to strangers; the length of Middlesex, much of which till after the Norman Conquest was uncultivated forest, acted as a barrier between it and the metropolis. Thus Buckinghamshire for long continued a secluded county, little known to those living outside its borders.
The scenery, following the geology of the county, shows well-wooded land in the valley of the Thames, rising gradually in the east, but steeply in the west to the more barren chalk lands of the Chilterns, where a height of over 800 feet is reached. These hills, which are well covered with beech trees in the less exposed parts, continue northward, and end abruptly along a line running north-east and south-west nearly midway across the county. The sudden change from the high lands of the Chilterns to the low plain of the Vale of Aylesbury is remarkable, producing fine effects of scenery and extensive views. The Vale of Aylesbury is gently undulating, and has a wide expanse of open pasture land with hedges well marked by elm and ash trees. Northward, the land rises again about Cublington and Whaddon Chase, but falls in the valleys of the Ouse and Ouzel in the extreme north of the county.
Buckinghamshire can boast of little industrial activity beyond chair-making at Wycombe and in the neighbourhood, established there on account of the supply of beech wood; boat-building on the banks of the Thames; brick-making and a little quarrying in the north; pottery and brick kilns at Brill, Slough and Burnham; and such home industries as lace-making, established in the 17th century, about Newport Pagnell, High Wycombe and Aylesbury; straw-plaiting, introduced in the 18th century, on the eastern side of the county; and, from the latter part of the 16th century to the earlier part of the 19th century, needle-making at Long Crendon, where the disused needle factory still exists. The high chalk lands in the south supply a certain quantity of corn, but are better suited to pasture, while the gault and clays northward are mainly given up to grass. Indeed, Buckinghamshire is so much a pastoral county that four-fifths of its area are devoted to grazing. The Vale of Aylesbury was formerly famed for sheep-farming, but is now better known for its dairy-farming and duck-breeding, and the Thames valley is becoming a district for market gardening.
Altogether, Buckinghamshire is a pleasant quiet land, a land of competence without great wealth. The lack of industrial opportunities, and the prevalence of pasture, which requires less labour than agriculture, have had the effect of maintaining a small and unexpanding population. Hence many of the towns and villages have been in the past but slightly tempted to increase, and consequently have altered little as regards their general plan.
The lines of communication are the principal factors in the settlement of a district. In the pre-historic period the rivers were the common highways. Buckinghamshire is fairly well provided with water transit, having the Thames on the south, with the Chess, Misbourne, Wycombe River and Thame all eventually draining into it; the Ouse on the north; and its tributary the Ouzel on the east. That the Thames on its southern boundary was used as a highway is sufficiently indicated by the evidence of the 'dug-out' boats of the Bronze Age, found at Marlow and Bourne End, while the settlements along the Thames Valley, to which reference is hereafter made, show that the waterway attracted pre-historic man. It is probable that other rivers which drain the county were utilised in a like manner and that their banks similarly attracted settlers. The earliest road in this district is probably the so-called Icknield Way, which ran from Cambridgeshire in a south-westerly direction to Dunstable, thence to Ivinghoe, Little Kimble, and so out of the county into Oxfordshire; this road, which runs at the foot of the Chilterns, was in parts used and possibly constructed in the Celtic Age. Akeman Street, which has but slight characteristics of a Roman road, is possibly of British origin; it comes from Cirencester, where it joins the Fossway and forms the main road from Bicester to Aylesbury and on to Berkhampstead, possibly joining Stane Street to Colchester at Braughing in Hertfordshire. Early in the Roman occupation Watling Street was definitely laid out by Roman engineers, its course, through Fenny and Stony Stratford, on to Towcester, being well known. From the position of the Roman settlements it would appear that some of the rivers as well as the roads were still used as lines of communication.
The Saxons in the early part of their occupation of this country, although not discarding the Roman highways, used waterways probably in preference, but as their population and settlements increased, tracks were worn from one village to another, which eventually became roads. The lines of these trackways, not having been originally laid out definitely like Roman roads, were governed by the necessities of avoiding obstructions, such as woodland, marsh, rivers, proprietary rights, unevenness of ground, and generally by the tendency of the traveller, as can be seen in most field paths at the present day, to diverge from the straight course. Hence it is that roads surviving from this date are serpentine in their character, an inconvenience which has become emphasized in these days of motor traffic. In the Chiltern district the rivers and streams all flow from the north-west to the south-east, directly or indirectly, into the Thames; consequently the roads generally run in the same direction, either in the river valleys or along the ridgeways at the top of the hills. Thus the main road from Rickmansworth to Chesham and Tring follows the valley of the Chess, and a series of ridgeways or roads run almost parallel to one another about half a mile apart at Hawridge, Bellingdon, Ashridge, Chartridge and Hundridge. The road from Uxbridge to Amersham and Wendover follows the valley of the Misbourne, which is the principal pass over the Chiltern Hills, and the road from London to Aylesbury takes the valley of the Wycombe River by Beaconsfield and High Wycombe. Thus the roads in the south part of the county are fixed by the physical features, but north of the Chiltern Hills no such considerations apply.
Probably the earliest form of settlement of the Saxon period is the 'nucleated' village, as Professor Maitland describes it, which usually lies on rising ground a little way off a road or river, in order that the settlement may be in the middle of its territory. In Buckinghamshire this type is more frequent in the north than in the south; it may be found in the valleys of the Ouse and Ouzel at Thornton, Haversham, Little Linford, Gayhurst and elsewhere, and in the valley of the Thames at Hitcham and Hedsor, and has the hall or manor house with the adjoining church standing on high ground at one extremity of the settlement. In some instances the village has migrated to the road, leaving the manor house and church at some distance. Another type of settlement, and the most common in the county, is the somewhat straggling road settlement as at Stewkley (fn. 1) and Haddenham (fn. 2); this type is indicative perhaps of a later date and altered conditions, when the advantage of an isolated position for defensive and organizing purposes had ceased and the convenience of communication for trade had become more important. A third type is that around a returning road forming a three or four-sided figure which is usually to be found in forest districts, and is frequent in Middlesex and the woodland parts of Sussex. The church is at an angle of the road, and the village sometimes comprises two or more settlements. Instances of this type will be found in the inset maps given in the Inventory of this Report for Cuddington, (fn. 3) Newton Longville (fn. 4) (with three settlements:—London End, Westbrook End and Moor End), and Swanbourne (fn. 5) (with three settlements:—Smithfield End, Duck End and Nearton End). In all these types of villages there still survive in some instances, the mill, the smithy, the green, the pound and the dovecot, and, occasionally, the stocks and cage or lock-up, all relics of a now departed manorial or parish organization.
The bounds of the settlements would coincide approximately with those of the later parishes, forming the areas from which the tithe was allotted by the lord of the settlement to the parochial church or other ecclesiastical body. These bounds, where convenient, follow the lines of rivers, but frequently they follow roads, indicating that such roads existed when the boundaries were ascertained; thus Hedgerley and Ashley Green are for the greater part bounded by roads. On the other hand, by the yearly process of beating the bounds, tracks were formed which occasionally developed into roads.
It is interesting to notice that, as on the South Downs, the parishes along the escarpment of the Chiltern Hills, Drayton Beauchamp, Buckland, Aston Clinton, Ellesborough, Great and Little Kimble, Monks Risborough, Princes Risborough, Horsenden, Saunderton and Bledlow are peculiarly long and narrow, having a length from north-east to south-west of about 6 miles, but ranging from half a mile to a mile and a half only in width. The same arrangement will be found in the cases of Taplow, Hitcham and Farnham Royal in the southern escarpment of the Chilterns (fn. 6); the villages of these parishes lie a little below the chalk escarpment, where water is plentiful and the soil fertile. The reason for this formation is that each settlement may have a share of the different soils suitable for arable and pasture at various times of the year.
Except Buckingham, which grew up at the fortifications established there in the 10th century, the towns in the county have arisen at cross roads or under the shadow of a castle. Aylesbury, perhaps the oldest town in the county, reference being made to it as early as 571, (fn. 7) probably arose in this way; it lies on Akeman Street, and is crossed by the roads from London and Wendover to Winslow and Buckingham, and from Thame to Leighton Buzzard and Bedford. The town clusters round the market-place, which originally extended apparently into Kingsbury, but has been much encroached upon, the island row of houses on the east side of Kingsbury being a typical early encroachment which occurs at many places, notably at St. Albans and Berkhampstead in Hertfordshire; the church stands on the north-west side, and the inns, houses and shops of the burgesses fill up the other sides. The roads are so arranged that all travellers by the routes mentioned must pass through the length of the market-place; this was for the purpose of attracting as much traffic as possible to the market for trade and for the collection of toll.
Wendover lies at the crossing of the roads from London to Aylesbury and on the Upper Icknield Way going from Princes Risborough to Tring, and is just at the entrance of the former road to the pass through the Chiltern Hills. The town clusters round the market-place in the High Street, which has also been encroached upon by an island row of houses (fn. 8); here, again, the road from London to Aylesbury takes a double elbow bend, as frequently found elsewhere, in order to bring all the traffic through the market-place; an interesting point is that the manor house and parish church lie a third of a mile or more from the Icknield Way and the present town, which suggests that the original settlement, 'a nucleated village', was here, and that the population migrated to the road when Wendover obtained a market and burghal rights in the 12th century. Other towns in Buckinghamshire show similar arrangement of market-place and roads, but at Beaconsfield, which is possibly of later formation as a borough, the roads cross almost at right angles; each road widens out towards the crossing, suggesting that the market-place originally extended up all the roads, although it is now confined to that leading to Aylesbury; the church is at the south-west angle, and the part of each road in the town is called after the place to which it leads, as Windsor End, Aylesbury End, Wycombe End and London End.
At the time of the Domesday Survey, 1086, Buckingham was the only borough mentioned separately, though Newport Pagnell had burgesses. Like Hertford, a town of similar foundation, Buckingham fell into decay shortly after the time of the Domesday Survey, and Aylesbury again became the most important town. There is no indication of burghal rights at any other town till the 12th or early part of the 13th century. At that date Aylesbury, Wendover and Wycombe probably obtained the liberties of self-government essential to a borough, and then, or a little later, Great Marlow, Chesham, Long Crendon, Brill, Princes Risborough and several other Buckinghamshire towns secured very varying degrees of municipal freedom.
Buckinghamshire was originally formed for military purposes, like other counties taking their names from their county towns. In 915 Edward the Elder went with the forces he had collected against the Danes to Buckingham "and sat there four weeks and wrought both the burghs on each side of the river before he went thence." (fn. 9) Buckingham thus became a military centre, and to it were subsequently assigned a number of adjoining hundreds, perhaps the eighteen of which the county consisted in 1086. This aggregation of pre-existing hundreds may be the reason that the county has such unsymmetrical boundaries, which seldom follow the physical features of the land. (fn. 10) From being the military centre Buckingham soon became the administrative capital of the district, forming the county for which a separate sheriff and county court were appointed.
The origin of hundreds is unknown, but the system among Teutonic nations of supplying a hundred warriors from each canton is mentioned by Tacitus in the 1st century. (fn. 11) The earliest reference to the hundred as a judicial area in this country is in the Laws of Edgar in 970, (fn. 12) and by the time of Ethelred, or possibly before, it was adopted as an area of a hundred hides for purposes of taxation. (fn. 13) For many centuries afterwards the hundred continued to be both a fiscal and judicial, and sometimes a military, district. Thus for fiscal purposes it was a unit for the collection of the Danegeld and later for subsidies, and in its judicial aspect its courts, which were held originally every month, then in the time of Henry II every fortnight, and finally, after 1234 every three weeks, (fn. 14) took cognizance of both civil and criminal matters. Twice yearly the sheriff held his 'tourn' or progress through the hundreds to hear special complaints. The court or meeting was held in the open air at some well-known and easily recognised landmark such as an earthwork, tumulus or tree, and sometimes, particularly when the hundred was of later formation, at a town or village. Thus in Buckinghamshire the meeting places of the hundreds of Cottesloe, Rolowe, Sigehow (old form Sigelowe) were at the barrows or 'lows', from which they take their names, and those of the hundreds of Desborough and Risborough (fn. 15) at the ancient earthworks of those names. Each township within the hundred was nominally represented at the meetings or courts.
Detached portions of counties and hundreds usually originated by reason of " the connection between property and jurisdiction." (fn. 16) A powerful lord having an outlying estate would withdraw the suit or attendance of his tenants at the county or hundred court, in whose jurisdiction it lay, and attach it to his own court elsewhere. Possibly in this way there were in Buckinghamshire several detached parts of counties. Lillingstone Lovell and Ackhampstead were isolated parts of Oxfordshire in Buckinghamshire, while Coleshill in Amersham parish was a similar part of Hertfordshire, and Caversfield and Studley hamlet in Beckley parish were parts of Buckinghamshire locally in Oxfordshire. (fn. 17) Detached parts of hundreds were more numerous than those of counties. The origin of most of these detached parts, certainly in the cases of Coleshill and Caversfield, must be sought for before the time of the Domesday Survey (1086). It has been suggested that before the hundred was adopted as a unit for the collection of the Danegeld its extent was more fluid, and would more easily permit the detachment of a township from one hundred to another, and therefore in some instances from one county to another. (fn. 18)
There were eighteen hundreds in Buckinghamshire at the time of the Domesday Survey (1086), which possibly as early as that date had become grouped into threes, a system which is found also in Worcestershire, Yorkshire, and elsewhere. By the beginning of the 14th century these groups, with one exception, had each become a complete hundred, thus reducing the total to eight, the number which remains at the present day. The Domesday hundreds were Stone, Risborough and Aylesbury (which together became Aylesbury Hundred), Burnham, Desborough and Stoke (which continued three separate hundreds known as the Three Hundreds of Chiltern), Ickeshull or Ticheshele, Ashendon and Waddesdon (which became Ashendon Hundred), Yardley or Erle, Cottesloe and Mursley (which became Cottesloe Hundred), Stodfold, Rolowe and Lammua (which became Buckingham Hundred), and Bonstowe, Segehowe and Moulsoe (which became Newport Hundred).
The practice of conferring the stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds, as 'an office of honour and profit', upon members of Parliament to enable them to vacate their seats, apparently came into use after the passing of the Place Act of 1742. (fn. 19)
When the district now known as Buckinghamshire became Christian in the 7th century it was no doubt under the rule of the short-lived Wessex bishopric of Dorchester, afterwards transferred to Winchester; after its conquest by Offa of Mercia it was brought within the Mercian bishopric refounded at Dorchester, and so continued till that see was transferred to Lincoln in 1072. Although Henry VIII proposed to place Buckinghamshire in his new diocese of Oxford, it remained in the bishopric of Lincoln till 1837, when it was transferred to Oxford, in which diocese it remains. From the 11th century the county has formed an archdeaconry; the parishes of Winslow, Grandborough, Aston Abbots, and Little Horwood, belonging to the abbot of St. Albans, however, were part of the archdeaconry of St. Albans, and after the Dissolution were, with that archdeaconry, attached to the diocese of London till 1837, when they were transferred to Oxford. Risborough Deanery, comprising lands belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury, was a peculiar in the jurisdiction of the archbishop. From the 13th century there were eight deaneries, Buckingham, Newport, Wendover, Burnham, Wycombe, Mursley, Risborough and Waddesdon, but many changes were made in the 19th century.
The earliest evidences of man are mainly flint implements, of which a common form are flakes used as knives and scrapers, but carefully-made oval, ovate and pointed implements, to be held in the hand without handle or shaft, were also employed for various purposes. Men at this time lived in caves or rudely-built tree huts; their chief occupation was hunting, and so far as we know they neither reared cattle nor tilled the soil. In Buckinghamshire the remains of this period have, as yet, been found only on the Chiltern Hills and in the Thames Valley; they are scarce, however, even there, and those connected with the drift gravels may have come from outside the county. Our knowledge therefore of this obscure epoch is perhaps even less with regard to Buckinghamshire than for many other parts of Britain.
Hitherto it has been generally thought that there was a complete hiatus between the Palæolithic and Neolithic periods, caused by geological and climatic conditions. Evidence, however, is now being collected on the high lands of the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire and on the South Downs in Sussex which may possibly demonstrate the continuity of these periods. During the Neolithic period, which covered a very considerable time, there were distinct improvements in the conditions of life; towards the end of it at all events men lived in "pile dwellings" and "pit dwellings". A group of pit dwellings has been found at (fn. 22)Hitcham in the south part of the county. Each of the dwellings was formed by digging a hole in the ground 3 feet to 7 feet in depth and 14 feet to 20 feet in diameter, the earth being thrown up so as to make a bank round the hole or pit; into this bank stakes, leaning towards the centre, were driven, and against them ferns, turf, or other such materials were piled to form a roof. Associated with these dwellings were Neolithic implements, but from the evidence of other objects found, the village was evidently inhabited well into the Bronze Age. Similar dwellings have been found at Clifton Reynes and on the golf course at (fn. 22)Ellesborough. (fn. 20) Neolithic man also reared cattle and built camps for his own and their protection; he tilled the ground, wove the material for his garments, and made pottery; his implements were still of stone, many of them ground and polished, and his tools and weapons (which included the bow) were far more varied than those of his predecessor of the Palæolithic age; he buried his dead in long chambered barrows.
The physical conditions of the country were assuming the aspect which subsequently prevailed, but the forests were more dense and covered a greater area, and the number of inhabitants was necessarily small. From the flint implements found, however, it would appear that the population, although sparse, was fairly well distributed over the county. The principal centres were Taplow, Hitcham and Princes Risborough.
The metal implements of this period were better adapted to clear the forest land and so gave more facilities for settling this district and opening it up by means of roads. For this reason probably more evidence of the Bronze Age than of the preceding periods has been found in Buckinghamshire. The conditions of life naturally improved with the use of metal tools and weapons; objects of greater comfort could be made, and a more civilized form of warfare could be maintained. The people of this period undoubtedly had a high appreciation of form, for it would be difficult to surpass in artistic merit some of their weapons and personal ornaments. They buried their dead in round barrows instead of in the long barrows used by the Neolithic people.
It may be that the metal-working people were invaders who overpowered the Neolithic inhabitants, and it is generally reckoned that their age began in Britain approximately about B.C. 1800. In Buckinghamshire the Bronze Age people apparently made their settlements principally along the banks of the River Thames, which, it is clear, was used for purposes of communication. Two 'dug-out' boats, considered to be of this date, have been found in the county, one at Marlow and the other at Bourne End; each of them was made in the ordinary manner of primitive people by hollowing out a tree trunk. The boat from Bourne End (fn. 21) measured 25 feet 3 inches in length and 3 feet 4 inches in width. Several bronze implements have been found at Datchett and at Taplow, where a very elegantly formed bronze spear-head 17½ inches long has been discovered, together with some leaf-shaped spear-heads. At Hitcham the settlement made by the Neolithic people continued to be occupied by the Bronze Age people; higher up the river remains were found at Hedsor and Medmenham. Cinerary urns of the Bronze Age have been discovered at High Wycombe and a bronze sword at Hawridge, while in the Vale of Aylesbury some bronze celts have been found at Waddesdon, and an important hoard of bronze implements, including celts, spear-heads and a sword at New Bradwell.
One of the distinctive features of this period was the introduction of the use of iron; the date at which this occurred is uncertain, but it is attributed to about B.C. 500. For some time, however, bronze continued to be the metal principally employed, and it was in this metal and in pottery that the native art for which this period is so justly famed was practised; the chief characteristic in the work was the mastery of line, and although the modelling of human and animal forms was weak, the boldness of the design approached the Classic. Good specimens are a bronze sword scabbard found at Amerden a little below Taplow on the Thames, and now in the British Museum, and some pottery found at Aston Clinton, now in the Aylesbury Museum.
The conditions of living no doubt showed an advance on the previous age. A pile dwelling of this period was discovered at Hedsor and excavations were made on the site in 1894; the oak or beech piles about 9 inches in diameter and 5 feet apart, with intermediate piles of less diameter, were found to support a floor of oak about 4 inches thick; on this floor were apparently some slight remains of a hut-dwelling consisting of sticks and twigs. Although these pile dwellings originated probably in the Late Celtic period, they extended into the Roman occupation, as the principal objects found associated with them were of the latter time. (fn. 23) The people of this age organized a road system. The great crosses cut in the turf on the chalk sides of the Chiltern Hills at Monks Risborough and Bledlow may be of this date; at present, however, we know little or nothing of such hill-side figures, and the evidence regarding them has yet to be collected.
It was during the latter part of this period, possibly about B.C. 200, that all south-east Britain, including the greater part, if not all, of Buckinghamshire, was over-run by Belgic tribes from north-east Gaul. The tribe that occupied this district was the Catuvellauni, miscalled in MSS. of Ptolemy 'Catyeuchlani,' the boundary of whose territory, it has been suggested, was Grim's Ditch which passes across Buckinghamshire. The chief town of this tribe was at Verulamium near St. Albans, but so far as discoveries have gone there were no important settlements in Buckinghamshire. This people were the first to introduce coinage, and several of their coins have been found in the county, but in no quantity at any one place, except at Whaddon Chase, where a hoard of 400 gold coins of this period was discovered in 1849. It is clear that after Cæsar's second invasion (B.C. 54) these Belgic tribes adopted much of the civilization of Rome and inscribed their coins in Latin.
Roman Period. (fn. 24)
In the Roman period the area now called Buckinghamshire must have counted for very little; its southern part seems to have been pastoral and woodland region, ill-watered and sparsely populated; its northern part, though somewhat better watered and less heavily wooded, was no more thickly occupied. Naturally enough, Roman Buckinghamshire included no large towns, no dense rural population, and no vigorous industries; it provides us rather with a typical example of a scantily inhabited rural district, resembling most of central Britain under the Roman rule. The details summarized in the Sectional Prefaces and set out more fully in the Inventory show one small town or posting-village (in Little Brickhill), planted on the line of the Roman road now called Watling Street at the southern skirt of the present town of Fenny Stratford, and in addition about a dozen farms or country-houses of varying sizes, and several stretches of Roman road, all (with the exception of Watling Street) of little more than local importance. Only one of the country-houses seems to have been large or luxuriously fitted, the 'Villa' found in 1722 on the south edge of High Wycombe, (fn. 25) and this is so imperfectly recorded that we cannot be quite sure of its character or the wealth of its occupants.
A smaller 'Villa', at Chenies (see plan shown above), which was perhaps rather a commodious farm than a landowner's 'château', may serve as an example of the general features of the few rural dwellings in our area. The ruins of this house stand at the bottom of the sheltered valley of the Chess, close to the Hertfordshire boundary, about half-way between Chesham and Rickmansworth, and near Dell Farm. It was partly uncovered in 1863–4, and has been more recently and carefully examined by Mr. W. Calcott Stokes and Mr. A. M. Williams. If we may judge by the plans and details which they have very kindly supplied to us, it was a moderate sized house, built along one side or more of a yard which covered some 80 feet by 90 feet in extent. The principal part of the house seems to have been the central block, occupying the west side of the site; here we have a row of rooms grouped along a corridor 140 feet long or more, which looked on to the courtyard and in which was an entrance. Most of these rooms were paved with red and white tessellation of simple character, while the walls were plastered and coloured with graceful patterns; some of the rooms at the south-west end contained arrangements for heating and for baths. Two wings seem to have run eastwards from this central block. These have not been fully explored; they lie under the modern highway on the one side and under modern buildings on the other and are not open to complete search. There seems, however, no reason to doubt that such wings once existed, even though their extent and character cannot be fixed. The analogy of other Romano-British houses suggests that the western or central block, which has been almost wholly uncovered, formed the residence of the farmer, while the wings may have been used for servants or farm-buildings, and the yard was no doubt used like farmyards elsewhere. If one may judge by the coins and potsherds, the house may have been occupied from the end of the second to the middle of the fourth century. By the courtesy and kindness of Mr. Stokes, we are able to give a plan, brought up to date (February, 1913), of these typical remains.
One other Romano-British structural remain in Buckinghamshire may be noticed here, as adding colour to the picture of the region. A little to the north-west of Yewden Manor Farm, 400 yards from the Thames, in the parish of Hambleden, (fn. 26) extensive remains of buildings were noticed in 1911 and were excavated in 1912 at the expense of the landowner, the Hon. W. F. D. Smith, under the superintendence of Mr. A. H. Cocks, F.S.A., and Mr. A. G. K. Hayter, with the assistance of Dr. Peake. Apparently the area covered was large, perhaps 11 or 12 acres or more, enclosed by a wall and contained several buildings. One was a smallish 'corridor house' of normal type (about 80 ft. by 90 ft.), intended rather for a farmer than for a wealthy landowner, but furnished with tessellated flooring in blue-gray, red and white. Another building seems to have been a small cottage. Another, again, apparently a large barn or a walled yard, contained underground flues and furnaces which yielded a little iron slag (probably accidental), much wood ash and some charred grain, while other similar flues were uncovered close by. Somewhat similar flues and furnaces have been found on various other sites in Britain, though nowhere else in such concentrated abundance. In each case, the peculiarity of the flues consists in a T-shaped arrangement of the end of the flue, the furnace being at the base of the T, while the chimneys or smoke-exits must have occupied the horizontal crossbar at the top of the T. It has been suggested by Professor Gowland that they were used for warming floors on which, according to an intelligible fashion, still practised in the East, grain gathered unripe in wet seasons could be dried in large quantities. (fn. 27) If this conjecture be right, it is likely enough that the Yewden buildings belonged economically to the other bank of the Thames. The narrow Hambleden valley can never have grown any very great amount of corn; on the other hand, wood must have always been common near it, and it is therefore probable that the grain may have been brought by water from better cornlands a little higher up the river and across it. The Yewden site seems to have been occupied from the end of the 1st till the opening of the 5th century A.D., that is till the end of the Roman period in this country, but it does not of course follow that these drying sheds were in continuous use for three centuries. (fn. 28)
It has been considered generally that the district now known as Buckinghamshire was conquered from the Britons by the West Saxons in 571, in accordance with the statement in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. (fn. 29) An alternative theory has been put forward that the West Saxon campaign of that date under Ceawlin was not against the Britons, (fn. 30) but against the Angles, who had conquered this district in the 5th century. So far as it goes, however, the archæological evidence is against this suggestion, as the objects associated with pre-Christian burials of this period in the neighbourhood are rather Wessex than Anglian in type. (fn. 31) It is uncertain whether the northern part of the present county was annexed to Wessex by Ceawlin or belonged to the Middle Anglian territory. According to the most recent interpretation of the Tribal Hidage, (fn. 32) a document originating in the middle of the 7th century, the southern part of the county was occupied by the Cilternsaetas or dwellers in the Chilterns who belonged to the West Saxon race, while in the north-east were the Middle Angles and in the north-west the Herefinna, a tribe belonging to the Middle Angles. In the latter part of the 7th century the whole district was probably conquered by Æthelred of Mercia, but was reconquered a few years later by Caedwalla of Wessex; it remained with Wessex probably till Offa restored the supremacy of Mercia by the defeat of Cynewulf at the Battle of Bensington near Dorchester in 777, and so it continued a part of Mercia till all England was brought under the rule of Alfred.
The Danes did not arrive in this part of England till the end of the 9th or early in the 10th century. In 906 they made peace with Edward the Elder at 'Yttingaforda', possibly near Linslade in Buckinghamshire, (fn. 33) and in 921 they raided the county from the north to Aylesbury. (fn. 34) They are thought to have settled around Bernwood Forest where there is a group of places with the Danish termination 'thorp', Tythorpe, Eythorpe, Bexthorpe and Southorpe; besides which there are Westhorpe in Little Marlow, Colstrop in Hambleden and Castle Thorpe elsewhere in the county. (fn. 35) The Danes passed through the Chiltern district to Oxford, which they sacked after mid-winter 1009–10, and again in the following year the county was plundered. (fn. 36)
There is no evidence of any Celtic or Roman Christianity in this sparsely populated district. If it ever existed, all vestige of it would have been lost with the fall of Verulamium in the 5th century. The conversion of the Saxon settlers is attributed to the monks of St. Berinus at Dorchester in the middle of the 7th century. (fn. 37) At first no doubt the conversion was not very deep-rooted; tribal feeling was strong, and when the king adopted Christianity, he was followed by his thegns and they by their subordinates. Hence the relapse of a king into heathenism, which occasionally occurred, meant that the whole of his kingdom became pagan. The missionary organization of the church from Dorchester or Winchester would therefore probably have sufficed for the district now comprised in Buckinghamshire during the first few years of the conversion. Within the diocese however there must shortly have been formed other centres of ecclesiastical organization, either monasteries of professed monks, or minsters with communities of canons or priests, for as yet parish churches were unknown. From these centres priests were sent out to minister and preach to the people in the surrounding districts or parishes as they were sometimes called. Bede (fn. 38) tells us that in the 7th century it was the custom of the English people to collect together when a clerk or priest came into their township, and at his call they listened to the Word of God and his preaching. Although the priests travelled over the country in this way, ministering and preaching, yet the people had on certain occasions to attend the church of the monastery or minster of the district, at which also were performed the rites of baptism and burial; hence for their convenience most of the monasteries of pre-Conquest foundation are on ancient roads.
With regard to the monasteries or minsters which were probably founded to serve the district now known as Buckinghamshire, it seems highly probable there was a minster at Aylesbury shortly after the missionary efforts of St. Berinus. The position of the town on Akeman Street, with another ancient road going north and south passing through it, and the fact that it was the most important town in the district, with apparently a royal residence and later a mint, made it a particularly appropriate site. (fn. 39) Moreover we have the legends that St. Oswyth and her sister St. Edburga, grand-daughters of Penda, were brought up here in the 7th century by their aunt Edith, who presided over a religious house. The strongest evidence however comes from a surer source. From the Domesday Survey we learn that Stoke Mandeville had belonged to Aylesbury church, afterwards passing to Wulfwig Bishop of Dorchester, and then to Bishop Remigius, when the see was transferred to Lincoln, and that the socmen of the eight hundreds around Aylesbury had made contributions in corn to the church, endowments far beyond the requirements or what was usual for a parochial church. We also know that Aylesbury was a prebendal church held by the Bishop, and the ancient chapelries of Stoke Mandeville, Bierton, Buckland and Quarrendon were appendent to it. Taking these facts into consideration it would seem probable that a minster existed at Aylesbury, which became impoverished during the Danish invasions, and was discountenanced as a secular house and suppressed under the influence of the reforms of Ethelwold, Dunstan and Oswald; it then probably became a prebendal church and its endowments were appropriated by the Bishop. (fn. 40)
At Buckingham the legends of St. Rumbold may suggest the existence of a religious house in early times which would have served the north-east part of the area now forming the county. At Staines in Middlesex there was possibly a similar small community of priests who may have served the surrounding district extending into the south of Buckinghamshire, for the church is called in Domesday a minster and received payments from lands at East Burnham in Buckinghamshire. (fn. 41) The church of St. Firmin of North Crawley is also described as a minster in the Domesday Survey, and may previously have had a small community of priests. The term minster, however, has so wide an interpretation that it would be unwise to lay too much stress on the point. At the same time it is obvious that there must have been many more small minsters to serve the country than we now know of.
The Abbot of St. Albans probably provided for the spiritual needs of his tenants on the large estates which he held in the county. In like manner the Archbishop of Canterbury and other ecclesiastics who had properties in the county would supply proper ministration for their tenants.
The practice of establishing manorial or parish churches, which was eventually to change completely the organization of the church, was of gradual growth. Its origin is of particular interest, as a very large number, and perhaps the most interesting of the monuments scheduled by this Commission, are parish churches. The system began with the building of private chapels or oratories adjoining the residences of the lords of the districts, which in France was becoming common among the nobility by the middle of the 9th century. (fn. 42) Although such churches were then doubtless occasionally founded in this country it was not till after the destruction of many religious houses during the Danish invasions, and the reformation of the Benedictine monasteries and suppression of the smaller secular houses by Dunstan and his contemporaries in the 10th century, that these foundations became necessary. The earliest reference to them, as regards this country, is perhaps in the ordinances of Edgar of 970, (fn. 43) and although manorial churches were built about this time the great period of their erection was in the 11th and 12th centuries.
The evidence forthcoming with regard to the building of the churches in Buckinghamshire is more scanty than it is in many other counties. Four churches contain the remains of pre-Conquest work; that at Wing is probably of a date not later than the 10th century; the other three churches date probably from about 1025, and are at Iver, held in 1066 by Tochi, a thegn of Edward the Confessor; at Hardwick, then held by Saxi, a thegn of the same king; and at Lavendon, which great manor was then held by eight thegns of whom Alli, a thegn of the king, was the chief; it is quite conceivable that these men or their immediate predecessors built and endowed the churches on their demesnes. Domesday does not add much to our knowledge on this subject. At Haddenham (Nedreham), which was given to the Archbishop of Canterbury between 1066 and 1086, Gilbert the priest held three hides and a church with its tithes; at Boveney, a chapelry in Burnham, which was held by the church of Cookham, Rainbald the priest held a hide in alms of the king; at Wingrave, Turstin the priest held half a hide of Miles Crispin, which before the Conquest was in lay hands, so that if the half hide was an ecclesiastical endowment it must have been given and the church probably founded after 1066. Godwin the priest held lands at Aston, Tyringham and Wavendon, and Wulmar the priest at Hartwell, but from the nature of the entries, they appear to have held their lands in their own right and not as an endowment of a church.
Between 1072 and 1092, Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester, by consent of the Bishop of Lincoln, consecrated the church of High Wycombe, which had been built by a wealthy townsman, (fn. 44) and was possibly the first church erected in the town. (fn. 45)
Nearly all the churches in Buckinghamshire are dedicated to the honour of the Virgin or the Apostolic Saints, which is not suggestive of early foundation and may be the result of re-dedication. Bradenham was dedicated to the honour of St. Botolph, and Maids' Moreton to St. Edmund. At Monks Risborough, which belonged to the church of Canterbury before 995 and where the arch bishops had a residence and therefore probably a church as early as the 11th century, the church is dedicated to the honour of St. Dunstan who died in 988, and must therefore have been dedicated after that date. At Shalstone the church is dedicated to the honour of Edward the Confessor, and cannot therefore have received its dedication before 1066. There are thirteen churches in the county dedicated to the honour of St. Nicholas, whose cult is supposed to be unknown in this country till towards the end of the 11th century; in eight of these there is 11th or 12th-century work, and therefore, unless the dedications were changed, the early work remaining would probably belong to the original churches.
Six churches (Bradenham, Lillingstone Dayrell, Newton Blossomville, Ravenstone, Shabbington and Thornborough) show signs of having been built immediately after the Conquest, and 116 churches were apparently built in the 12th century.
Although the evidence as to the date of the adoption of parochial or manorial churches in Buckinghamshire is not very satisfactory, it points on the whole, as it does elsewhere, to the practice of building such churches having become common in the 11th and 12th centuries. In many instances, therefore, the present parish churches, often greatly altered and enlarged, are substantially the churches of the original founders.
According to Mr. F. Baring, the Conqueror's main army crossed the Thames at Wallingford and kept on the west side of the Chiltern range, while a detachment went eastward and encamped at Slough. (fn. 46) The main army seems later to have split up into two or more divisions, but their routes are not very clear. They wasted the county as they passed through it to Lavendon and into Bedfordshire, and across it into Hertfordshire by Wigginton.
So soon as William had been recognised as king, the English landowners were for the most part dispossessed of their property and replaced by the Conqueror's followers. These, as shown by the Domesday for Buckinghamshire, were not exclusively Normans; some of them, such as Walter the Fleming and Winemar the Fleming, or Maino the Breton and Gozelin the Breton, evidently brought large contingents of soldiers from elsewhere than Normandy and were rewarded with considerable grants of land in Buckinghamshire. (fn. 47) The practice of the Conqueror was to give the lands of an English landowner, often somewhat scattered, to one of his retainers. He retained, however, in his own hands the lands which had belonged to Edward the Confessor and 'Earl' Harold, as the Domesday Survey describes him; they consisted of most of the important places in the county, such as Buckingham, Aylesbury, Wendover, Princes Risborough, Swanbourne, Upton, Brill and Biddlesden. To his Queen, Matilda, William gave Marlow and Hambleden, and his kinswoman Countess Judith, widow of Earl Waltheof, was allowed to retain her husband's lands. To his half-brothers he gave large estates in the county; on the Count of Mortain he bestowed property in the south and middle parts of the county, including lands in Amersham, Bledlow, Wycombe and Wing, and to the Bishop of Bayeux he gave other lands in Amersham and Wycombe, and property in Chalfont St. Peter, Chesham and elsewhere, mostly in the north part of the county. Outside the royal family the largest grantee was Walter Giffard, ancestor of the earls of Buckingham, to whom William gave the lands of several of King Edward's thegns; a part of these estates Walter retained in his own hands, making his residence probably at Long Crendon where he had his park; the rest he distributed among his retainers, the largest shares going to his kinsmen Hugh de Bolebec and to Turstin son of Rolf, both of whom held other lands directly of the king, and smaller holdings he gave to some nine other followers.
William Peverel was granted the lands of Alwin, a thegn of King Edward, and those of Guerth, the wife of the rebellious Ralph Earl of Hereford. The Domesday fief in the county which remained longest in the family of the Domesday holder was that of Walter son of Other, ancestor of the Lords Windsor whose descendants held Eton as late as 1668.
Of the more important English landowners in the county we can glean something from the Domesday Survey. Edith, queen of Edward the Confessor, and her brothers Harold, Lewin and Tostig, held much land scattered over the county, some of which, as Mr. Round suggests, (fn. 48) may have belonged to their father Earl Godwin, and Mr. Freeman thinks that the county was within the Earldom of Lewin. (fn. 49) The avaricious Archbishop Stigand held some little property in Buckinghamshire, as he did in many other counties. The other pre-Conquest lords are little known to fame; Alsi, son-in-law of Wulfward White, a wealthy Englishman, seems to have earned the good-will of Queen Edith by his marriage with Wulfward's daughter, and so continued to hold some of his lands. Like Alsi a few of the English landowners were allowed to retain their holdings, and it is interesting to note that Miles Crispin, successor by marriage, it is supposed, to some of the great estates of another wealthy Englishman, Wygod of Wallingford, who made his peace with the Conqueror, kept most of the English tenants on his lands in Buckinghamshire. The Bishops of Bayeux and Coutance also allowed a few of the former English tenants to remain, while Lewin of Nuneham and Morcar, two Englishmen, must have been reconciled to the king and continued to hold their lands in the county. But the main body of English thegns and landowners undoubtedly suffered great poverty and wretchedness. One of the more fortunate perhaps was Ethelric who was permitted to retain his land at Marsh Gibbon 'at farm' of the Norman, William Fitz Ansculf, and held it, as it is expressed in the Domesday Book, 'in heaviness and misery' (graviter et miserabiliter) which, as Mr. Round observes, 'is one of the most graphic touches that the Survey contains.' (fn. 50) It was the Norman lords who thus took possession of the Englishmen's lands, and their near descendants who built the monasteries, churches and castles, the remains of which are described in these reports.
It is now generally admitted that the castles of 'the mount and bailey' and 'moated mount' types were mainly introduced by the Normans. The former consisted of a 'motte' (mount or mound), raised to a height of from 10 feet to 100 feet, and a bailey (court) or baileys of varying size. The 'motte' was usually surrounded by a fosse or ditch and on the top of it at first stood a timber tower or keep called a 'bretashe', to which access was obtained by a steep bridge over the fosse. The baileys were also surrounded by one fosse or more, and these fosses were often further defended by stockades. Masonry could not be erected till the newly thrown-up earth had sufficiently settled, which would take possibly about fifty years, and in many instances masonry was never used. Around the castle was frequently an outer and larger enclosure which included the church, and the 'burgus' or borough that sometimes arose under the more important castles. The moated mount type consisted of the 'motte' without baileys.
With the exception of Buckingham, which was probably erected for military purposes, all the Norman castles in the county, of which there were some twenty-two in number, were merely manorial strongholds. Their positions were usually chosen because they happened to be the sites of the residences of the lords who required a secure habitation for defensive or offensive purposes during disturbed times, such as those which followed the Conquest or during the 'Anarchy' in Stephen's reign or the Barons' Wars of the 13th century. Many of these strongholds were destroyed as 'adulterine' or unlicensed castles by order of Henry II, and those which had not received masonry works had probably been abandoned by the close of the 13th century. Ordericus Vitalis refers to the oppression of the lawless barons of the 'Anarchy' who 'cruelly oppressed the wretched men of the land with castle works.' (fn. 51) Special mention is made by Pope Eugenius in 1147 of three Buckinghamshire barons holding castles in the county, namely William Mantel, Hugh de Bolbec and William Beauchamp, who robbed men and wrongfully exacted castle works from them. (fn. 52)
Of Buckingham Castle, which lay in the middle of the town, little now remains. It was probably one of the castles of the Conquest period and is said to have belonged to Ivo de Taillebois and subsequently became the head of the fief of the Giffards, Earls of Buckingham. Nothing is known of its masonry works, which seem to have been demolished at a comparatively early date; there was no trace of them above ground in 1670, and in 1777 the earthworks were partially levelled for the site of a church. In 1821 however some of the foundations of the castle were found in digging for a cellar on the slope of the hill, and lately traces of masonry were found in Well Street. Some of the castles of the mount and bailey type were the heads of Buckinghamshire baronies; thus Wolverton Castle was the head of the Buckinghamshire barony of Wolverton; this fief was granted by the Conqueror to Maino the Breton and was the largest of the Buckinghamshire baronies. Maino's descendants, the Barons of Wolverton, held the manor of Wolverton till the middle of the 14th century.
The castle of Bolebec in Whitchurch parish was the head of the Buckinghamshire barony of Bolebec. This may have been the castle for the erection of which complaint was made against Hugh de Bolebec in the middle of the 12th century for the wrongful exaction of castle works. It was later apparently defended by a masonry keep, and remains of foundations still exist on the mount. The manor was held at the time of the Domesday Survey and for long afterwards by the Bolebec family. The castle, which followed the descent of the manor, is said to have been finally destroyed at the end of the Civil Wars of the 17th century, but had then long been in ruins. (fn. 53)
Castle Thorpe, where considerable remains of the earthworks still remain, was the head of the little Buckinghamshire barony of Hanslope held by the Mauduits, afterwards Earls of Warwick. During the Barons' Wars it was besieged and destroyed by the infamous Faulkes de Brèauté in the autumn of 1215, when it was held against the king by William Mauduit. William de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, to whom the property descended, seems to have had a fortified house here, the garden (viridarium) of which he had licence to fortify with an embattled wall in 1291. (fn. 54) Possibly the fortified house and garden are represented by the remains of the rectangular enclosure south-west of the castle. (fn. 55)
At Lavendon Castle foundations are said to have been discovered, but there is no masonry work now above ground. The manor belonged in the 12th century to the baronial family of Bidon, founders of Lavendon Abbey, who possibly built the castle. It contained a chapel, which in the 13th century was served by the vicar of the parish. (fn. 56)
The Castle Tower, Little Missenden, was probably the seat of the lords of Mantels manor in Little Missenden and it may have been for it that William Mantel wrongfully exacted castle works in the middle of the 12th century. The manor was held at the time of the Domesday Survey (1086) by Turstin Mantel and continued in the possession of the Mantel family till the 15th century. It was held by the serjeanty of being the king's naperer. (fn. 57)
Weston Turville was from the end of the 12th century, and perhaps before that time, the seat of the Turville family, who held it till early in the 14th century and probably erected the castle there. In 1333 John de Molyns had licence to crenellate or fortify the site of his manor house which was probably to take the place of the castle as his residence. (fn. 58)
Nothing is known of the little mount and bailey castle in Little Kimble beyond the fact that the manor was held in 1086 by Turstin son of Rolf; nor of Cymbeline's Mount in Chequers Park, Ellesborough, except that the manor in which it lies was held at the same date of William Fitz Ansculf by one Ralph; nor of the castle at Saunderton except that the lands there were held partly by a family bearing the name of Saunderton and partly by the Sandfords and Beauchamps; nor of the castle at Bradwell except that the manor was apparently held by Miles Crispin in 1086.
Of the 'moated mount' type of castles there are several in the county, but in some instances it is uncertain whether the existing mount is not the sole surviving remains of a mount and bailey type of castle. The castle at High Wycombe was the head of the Doyley barony in Buckinghamshire and was held by Miles Crispin in right of his wife Maud, daughter of Robert Doyley, and later passed to Brian Fitz Count, one of 'the three constant companions' of the Empress Maud in her struggles with King Stephen.
Of the castle mount called the Beacon at Cublington little is known. The manor was held in 1086 by Gozelin the Breton whose descendants took the name of Chesney and continued to hold the manor as of the honour of Gloucester till the end of the 12th century. It then passed, by the marriage of a Chesney coheiress, to the Lucys. Geoffrey de Lucy joined the barons against Henry III and forfeited the manor, which was however later restored to him.
Castle Hill in Wing parish was possibly a stronghold of a branch of the Talbot family who held the manor from the end of the 12th to the middle of the 13th century. At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor of Wing formed a part of great estates granted by the Conqueror to his half-brother Robert Count of Mortain, and was forfeited by his son William, who joined in the rebellion against Henry I in 1104.
In Buckinghamshire, homestead moats are found mostly in the middle and northern parts of the county, where they occur in great numbers, but a few exist in the valleys of the Thames and Misbourne in the south. As the moats were always wet, they are less frequent in hilly country, and so there are none on the higher parts of the Chiltern Hills. The shape of the moats was usually four-sided, but they vary considerably in this respect. The earth from the moat was thrown inside and spread over the island thus formed, on which was built the house with its barns and cattle sheds. The majority of the makers of the homestead moats were members of the wealthy middle class that arose at the end of the 12th century and in the 13th century, whose demand for land was met by subinfeudation by the larger landowners impoverished in consequence of the Barons' Wars. The owners of the new manors thus created, required security for their possessions in disturbed times and therefore defended their homesteads with moats. The system of subinfeudation however brought confusion with regard to the services due from the land and led to the enactment of the Statute of 'Quia Emptores' in 1290. It is quite possible that some of the homestead moats are earlier than the end of the 12th century and many of them are undoubtedly later than the 13th century as this system of defence continued into the 16th century.
There were no great monasteries in Buckinghamshire to match St. Albans in the neighbouring county of Hertford or Abingdon or Reading in Berkshire, and although much land was held by the church, no religious house existed in the county after the Norman Conquest till the 12th century. At this time the barons and wealthier lords, following the fashion of the day, founded monasteries, but except Notley Abbey they were all poorly endowed and constantly in pecuniary straits; none of them except Notley, Missenden and Biddlesden, had an income of £80 a year at the time of the Dissolution, and the incomes of four of them were under £25 each. Notley Abbey in Long Crendon parish, the wealthiest of the monasteries in the county, was a house of Austin Canons founded by Walter Giffard early in the 12th century. Many of the conventual buildings of this monastery, now converted into a large farmhouse, (fn. 59) still remain, and some idea of the monastic arrangements of a house of the Augustinian order can be obtained from them. Missenden, another abbey of Austin Canons, was founded about 1133 by William de Missenden; a house now occupies the site of the abbey, (fn. 60) and some of the monastic buildings have been incorporated in it. The other houses of Austin Canons in the county were not established till the 13th century, and were small and poor. Chetwode Priory, which was founded in 1245 by Ralph de Norwich, had only three or four canons; the church became parochial in the 15th century, and remains of it survive in the present church, but none of the monastic buildings now exist. Of the little priory of Ravenstone, founded in 1255 by Peter Chaceporc and supporting only two canons, nothing apparently remains. Burnham Abbey for Austin nuns was not founded till 1266 by Richard King of the Romans; parts of the conventual buildings of this monastery exist and, like Notley, they give a good idea of the plan of an Austin house, but it will be noticed that the cloister was on the north side of the church. The eastern range, comprising the chapter house, sacristry, parlour and warming house; the inner wall of the frater forming the north range; and parts of the infirmary and gardrobe still remain, but the church and western range have been destroyed. (fn. 61)
The monasteries of the Benedictine order in the county were of still less importance than those of the Austin Canons. Luffield Priory, founded before 1133 by Robert de Bossu, Earl of Leicester, was so much impoverished in 1493 that Henry VII obtained papal permission to suppress it, and to transfer its endowment at first to the Canons of Windsor and later to his chapel at Westminster. At the time of its suppression it could only support three monks, and the buildings were in ruins so that nothing now remains of them. The small Benedictine priories of Bradwell, founded about 1155 by Meinfelin, Lord of Wolverton, and of Snelshall, founded about 1219 by Ralph Martel, had only provision for some five or six monks, and nothing now remains of their buildings, except some re-set details and possibly part of one wall at Bradwell Abbey. The Benedictine nuns had three small and poor houses in the county, namely at Ivinghoe, (fn. 62) founded before 1129 by the Bishop of Winchester, at Ankerwick in Wyrardisbury parish, founded about 1160 by Gilbert de Montfichet, Lord of Wyrardisbury, and at Little Marlow, founded in the 12th century. These houses had very few inmates. Some ruins at Ankerwick and Little Marlow indicate their sites, and in the case of Little Marlow the plan of the house has been recovered by excavation. (fn. 63)
The two Cistercian houses in the county were Biddlesden and Medmenham Abbeys. The former was founded in 1147 by Arnold de Bois, steward of the Earl of Leicester. Nothing but some worked stones now remain of the abbey buildings. Medmenham Abbey was founded in 1204 by Isabel de Bolebec, Countess of Oxford; it maintained only the abbot and one canon at the time of the Dissolution; some of the walling of the buildings may be incorporated in the house now standing on the site, but few details remain, except a column of the church which is not probably in its original position. (fn. 64)
There was a priory of Cluniac monks known as Tickford or Newport Pagnell Priory, founded by Fulk Paynel before 1154, which was dissolved in 1524, before the general dissolution, and its endowments given to Wolsey's College or Christ Church, Oxford. Only a few stones and a fragment of glass remain of this monastery, and are now incorporated in the house built on the site.
Ashridge College, the principal of the two houses of Bonhommes in this country, was founded in 1283 by Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, and followed a rule similar to that of the Austin Canons. The site of this house, however, although formerly partly in Buckinghamshire, has been transferred to Hertfordshire.
The military orders had a commandery of the Knights Hospitallers at Hogshaw, founded in the 12th century by William Peverel, and a preceptory of the Knights Templars at Bulstrode, to which the earliest reference is in 1276.
The friars arrived in the country in the first half of the 13th century, but their work lay, as a rule, in the larger towns. Aylesbury was the only place in the county which could claim that designation, and here a Franciscan friary was founded in 1386 by James Butler, Earl of Ormond. It was a small house, and accommodated only some seven friars.
Hospitals were not generally established till the 13th century, but there were two leper houses at Aylesbury, St. John the Baptist and St. Leonard, founded in the reign of Henry I, and a hospital at Ludgershall, founded before 1156. The Hospital of St. John the Baptist at High Wycombe was founded apparently late in the 12th century, as the considerable remains (fn. 65) which still exist are of c. 1180. The leper houses of St. Margaret and of St. Giles at High Wycombe were founded in the 13th century, as were also the leper house of St. Lawrence and the Hospital of St. John the Baptist at Buckingham. The hospital of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, and the hospital of St. Margaret at Newport Pagnell were both founded in the 13th century. The earliest mention of the hospital of St. John the Baptist, which stood on the bridge at Stony Stratford, and the hospital of St. John the Baptist at Wendover, is in the early part of the 14th century.
Buckinghamshire suffered much from the pestilence known as the Black Death which spread over England in 1349. At Salden near Winslow all the tenants save one died of it. Seventy-seven of the clergy and the heads of three religious houses succumbed to it, and some of the smaller monasteries such as Luffield, Bradwell and Chetewode never recovered from its effects. Notwithstanding the grave results of the plague, which elsewhere formed a contributory cause for the social unrest of the time, the tenantry of Buckinghamshire took little or no part in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, although the adjoining county of Hertford was a centre of the disturbances. The probable reason for this is that the demand for labour, which was the chief cause of the disaffection, was not so great in a pastoral district such as Buckinghamshire as in more agricultural parts where labour was much required.
This tranquillity continued through the period of Civil War which followed in the next century, for the Wars or the Roses had little effect on the county beyond the inconveniences common to all subjects of a nation during internal warfare.
Although Buckinghamshire could boast of few monasteries, yet a very large proportion of its lands and churches was held by ecclesiastical corporations, most of which had their head-quarters outside the county. In 1291 more than half the parish churches which then existed in the county were held by religious houses and some few of them by alien and foreign monasteries. There was undoubtedly a tendency for the religious houses to starve the parish churches in their patronage by taking the revenues and providing for the cures in the most economical manner possible. In order to put a stop to this growing scandal, the bishops of Lincoln endeavoured to compel the patrons to make proper provision for the maintenance of the clergy by the ordination of vicarages, whereby a house and a proportion of the tithes and offerings were allotted to the vicar and the religious house as rector took the other profits. In Buckinghamshire this system began in the middle of the 12th century, some time before the Third Lateran Council of 1179, at which the matter was brought forward. The obligation by the rector to maintain the fabric of the chancel probably arose about this time and later evidence of the unwillingness to fulfil this obligation is found in the episcopal visitations preserved at Lincoln. It is remarkable that, in consequence probably of the energetic administration of Bishop John Dalderby of Lincoln, the chancels of no less than sixty-six churches in Buckinghamshire were re-built or repaired during the first half of the 14th century.
Another difficulty with which the Bishops of Lincoln had to contend was superstition which seems to have been peculiarly prevalent in Buckinghamshire. In 1296 Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, was forbidden to allow superstitious objects to be venerated and pilgrimages to be made at his chapel of Hambleden where pretended miracles were performed. (fn. 66) A like order was made against superstitions at the church of North Crawley. Pilgrimages to a well at Linslade, where miracles were said to have been effected, were also forbidden. The best known superstition however of this nature refers to Master John Schorne, rector of North Marston, who died in 1314. Several miracles are related of him, one that a well, which is said to have remained till recently, appeared in the place where he struck his staff; but the chief miracle for which he was renowned was the conjuring the devil into a boot, from which that evil spirit could not escape whilst Schorne's hand was raised in benediction. A shrine was erected over his body in North Marston Church, to which pilgrims flocked in great numbers, especially those afflicted with ague. The shrine became so famous and profitable that the Dean and Chapter of Windsor, the patrons of the living, removed it to St. George's Chapel, Windsor, leaving an image in North Marston Church which possibly stood in the elaborate niche still remaining outside the chancel.
Chantries were a very popular form of religious foundation and existed in most of the more important parishes in the county; their foundation followed that of the monasteries and began about the 13th century, continued through the 14th and 15th centuries and ended in the first half of the 16th century. They were sometimes founded at existing altars in a church, or new chapels were built for them, either attached to the church, usually on the north or south side of the chancel, or in the churchyard or in some distant hamlet. The primary object of their foundation was that of ensuring perpetual service for the healthful estate of the founders and their families and for the repose of their souls after death; but other duties were imposed upon the chantry priests, such as those of assisting the parish priest in the services of the church and the teaching of the children of the neighbourhood, as at Aston in Ivinghoe and at Thornton. Some of the foundations which come under the general term of chantries were established by the inhabitants of outlying hamlets and were more in the nature of district chapels; such for instance were the chapels at Dagnel in the parish of Edlesborough which 'did great ease to the most part of the said parish because many dwell four miles from the church'; or at Colnbrook in Langley Marish and Horton parishes, or Aston in Ivinghoe parish where the people could not get to their parish church in winter. The difficulty of communication in many parts of the county necessitated the establishment of many such chapels, few of which now survive, though the remains of some still exist and are catalogued in the Inventories of the Commission; amongst them may be mentioned Hundridge chapel in Chesham parish, Ackhampstead and Widmer Chapels in Great Marlow, and the Chapels in Quarrendon and Lillingstone Dayrell.
As a result possibly of the inefficiency of the parochial clergy caused by absentee patrons and pluralities, Lollardy obtained a firm hold in the county; the existence also of so many small houses of Austin Canons, who were often favourable to ecclesiastical reform, may have tended in the same direction. Although Wicliff probably had little personal influence in the county, yet from the time that he held the living of Ludgershall (1368 to 1374) a spirit of religious unrest existed in Buckinghamshire. Sir John Cheyne, a large landowner in the county, was a follower of Wicliff and is said to have been a friend of Sir John Oldcastle; he and his relative Thomas Cheyne, Thomas Drayton, rector of Drayton Beauchamp, and John Agret, parson of Latimer, all suffered imprisonment for Lollardy early in the 15th century. Other clergy in the county were tainted with heretical opinions, and about this time several men of Amersham, High Wycombe and Little Missenden were condemned for heresy, some being executed and others pardoned. The Lollard doctrines spread rapidly in the county, particularly in the south; by the middle of the 15th century the county had become a centre of Lollardy and contributed a long list of martyrs for their religious opinions. With the sixteenth century the Lollards merged into the reformers of that date who maintained the spirit of ecclesiastical reform in the county.
Buckinghamshire being naturally a pastoral county, there was not that temptation to convert arable land into pasture which, in the latter part of the fifteenth century, threw such hardships upon the labouring classes elsewhere. The Depopulation Returns, however, show some evictions for this cause in the middle part of the county. At Doddershall, in Quainton, 24 houses were destroyed and some 120 persons evicted; at Littlecote, in Stewkley, 84 persons were evicted; at Birdstane, in Aston Abbots, 400 acres were enclosed and 60 people, the whole population of the hamlet were evicted; at Hogshaw also practically all the inhabitants were turned out; at Castle Thorpe 100 acres were enclosed and 88 inhabitants evicted. Altogether some five villages were destroyed. (fn. 67)
In the time of the Inclosure Riots of the middle of the sixteenth century, although there were tumults in 1549, they were soon suppressed and the agitation which spread over the south of England did not materially affect Buckinghamshire.
The suppression of the monasteries did not influence Buckinghamshire as it did many other counties. The religious houses in it were small, and had not much property, so that neither they nor the possessions of monasteries outside the county provided estates for the founding of families by wealthy merchants and others, as occurred in Hertfordshire and elsewhere.
In the parish churches the dissolution of the chantries in 1547 could not involve the destruction of the chapels attached to the churches, although it did so in the case of detached chapels unless they were specially recommended for continuance.
The changes in religious observances of the middle of the 16th century caused the destruction of many of the ritual fittings of the parish churches, but they did not, as a rule, affect the actual fabrics. The stone altars, images and coloured glass were destroyed early in the reign of Edward VI, and the roods, with the accompanying figures, were then taken down, but the rood-lofts remained till 1561, (fn. 68) when an order for their removal was issued by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the stairs to them were blocked. The rood-screens were allowed to remain, and some of them adorn the churches of Buckinghamshire at the present day. By the Injunctions of 1547, pulpits were to be provided for such churches as did not already possess them, but no pulpits of this date exist in the county. The 'Poor man's Box', which had to be provided by the same Injunctions, occasionally survives; one remains at Loughton, and the smaller chest at Amersham is possibly also such a box. Other ancient church fittings are noted in the Sectional Prefaces to each division of the county.
The earliest school in the county of which we have evidence is that at Buckingham; it was in existence in 1423, (fn. 69) and was probably founded by John Barton, recorder of the City of London. Some forty-five years later a chantry to which a school was attached was founded by the widow of a brother of John Barton in Thornton. Buckingham School was re-endowed by Dame Isabel Denton in 1540, the Thornton School being afterwards merged in it, and the schools became known as the Royal Latin School, Buckingham; it was held in the ancient chapel of St. John the Baptist and St. Thomas of Acon until 1902, when it was removed to a new site.
The next school in order of date is Eton College which, like all the great public schools, belongs to the empire rather than to the county. The earliest foundation charter, which was granted in 1440, incorporated it under the name of the 'Provost and King's College of the Blessed Mary of Eton by Windsor' and named a provost, three priest fellows, four choristers and two 'needy scholars'. In 1443 William or Waynflete, head-master of Winchester, was appointed provost of Eton. Statutes modelled on those of Winchester were drawn up whereby the college was to consist of a provost, seventy scholars, ten fellows and sixteen choristers, ten chaplains, ten chapel clerks, thirteen poor scholars and thirteen almsmen, a parish clerk, a vestry clerk and four gentlemen clerks; in addition the sons of noble and powerful persons to the number of twenty might be educated at the College, and outsiders were also to be admitted.
Henry VI. (fn. 70) selected his site, acquired the property with the advowson of the parish church, and planned the buildings. There was to be a gateway flanked apparently by an almshouse where Weston's House now stands. The almshouse was built in 1446, and apparently part of it was cased in Weston's until the late alterations there. Mr. Leach, (fn. 71) however, places correctly an almshouse near the site of Upper School, but there is no reason to identify that with the original. The almsmen were soon suppressed, and the building probably diverted to other uses. The present almshouses for ten old women were founded by Provost Godolphin in 1714.
From the Great Gateway a road was to lead to the Great Court where now are the Cloisters, and the Cloisters were to be on the site of the present School Yard. The entire area was to be surrounded with a wall, 3,690 feet long, with towers at intervals, all carefully laid out and measured in the King's 'Avyse.' In 1441 they set to work on the Chapel raised on 13 feet of solid 'enhancement', and made such progress that in 1443 Bishop Bekynton celebrated his first Mass on the site of the High Altar, and entertained visitors in a building on the north, now Lower School and perhaps Long Chamber. The King altered the dimensions of his Chapel more than once and finally a second building rose on the same spot 47 feet longer and 8 feet broader, according to the King's 'Avyse' which altered the King's previous 'Will'. This alteration accounts probably for the faulty outlines of the arch of the great east window. Meanwhile the cellar, hall, buttery, cloisters and kitchen were being built, the hall of stone, the rest of brick with stone dressings. The cloisters were built in two storeys with the rare feature of an upper gallery corresponding to the cloisters below. A very elaborate system of sewers and flushing was also arranged by the founder.
When the House of York usurped the throne, every attempt was made to suppress Eton College and transfer the endowments to Windsor. This was hardly averted by Provost Westbury and Bishop Waynflete. The latter abandoned Henry's scheme for a vast nave 168 feet long (which would have stretched across the Slough Road and would have been of the same length as, but broader than, the nave of Lincoln Cathedral), and built, at his own cost, the present ante-chapel, similar to those at New College and Magdalen; it was begun in 1479 and probably finished about 1482. During the first quarter of the 16th century, when the Wars of the Roses had ended, Provost Lupton altered the west side of the cloisters into a fine suite of state rooms with a brick tower, carried on a groined stone vault, in the centre, and a façade of unsurpassed beauty of design fronting the school yard.
There had been damage and decay during the Yorkist supremacy, and Lupton no doubt repaired the Long Chamber range and the roofing of College Hall. Election Hall, which contains fragments of the fine original glass, was to be a library, and Election Chamber gave access to the Provost's lodgings west of College Hall. Lupton also added to the north side of the chapel the chantry which bears his name and contains his tomb.
In 1475 the old parish church, which stood in the churchyard south of the chapel, was partly dismantled, and in spite of some subsequent repairs its destruction was complete in 1517. Thenceforth the ante-chapel became the parish church (as at Merton College, Oxford). The present parish church was dedicated in 1854.
In 1547 Sir Thomas Smith, the first married Provost, was residing at the northwest angle of the Cloisters with the 'magna parlura' for his 'summer dining room' and annexed for his kitchen, part of the ground floor of the collegers' wing and apparently claimed Election Hall as 'Mr. Provost's Hall'. From that time the Provost's Lodge has slowly increased till now it absorbs the whole of Lupton's front, a large northern wing and part of the Fellows' rooms in the north cloister.
An Upper School was built by the liberality of Allestree in his Provostship (1665–168 0/1), closing the west side of School yard which had till then remained open to the road. This room, figured by Hollar and Loggan, was of faulty construction and was replaced between 1689 and 1691 by the present room, built by subscription.
This quadrangle thus completed presents buildings of three different centuries and each of very high excellence. Upper School is dignified and well proportioned. The north side with Long Chamber and Lower School is even simpler in design, but of extreme beauty. Lupton's buildings on the east side are of very subtly varied design and great stateliness, probably the best specimen of Tudor brickwork in England, while the north side of the chapel, forming the south side of the quadrangle, is hardly less varied and certainly more magnificent; it surpasses the external design of King's as much as it is surpassed internally by King's, and perhaps the massive grandeur of its south elevation is the most beautiful and impressive of all.
Between 1726 and 1729 College library was built, from Mr. Rowland's plans, on the south side of the cloisters, taking in a strip of the green court, and the cloister arcade was protected by a dwarf wall and railings of solid design. In 1759 an attic storey was added to the north and east sides of the cloister buildings. This storey was faced with Headington stone and the slender buttresses were pared away from the wall plate of the gallery, which was stuccoed to harmonise with the stone.
Of other ancient schools in the county High Wycombe School was founded in 1550 by George Juncklyn out of the endowments of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist and refounded by Queen Elizabeth in 1562. The school was held in a part of the 12th-century hospital buildings (fn. 72) till the present century.
At Amersham the Grammar School was founded under the will of the Rev. Robert Challoner, D.D., the rector, about 1621. It was at first held in the church house, a much older building, on the north side of the High Street, (fn. 73) and remained there until buildings were provided in 1905.
Sir William Borlase's School at Marlow, founded in 1624, has been considerably enlarged, but retains the old front, and the Aylesbury Grammar School, founded in 1687 by Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, in what was supposed to be a chantry chapel, was removed to new buildings in 1718 and again in 1907.
In the 17th century Buckinghamshire rose to a position of political importance which it never attained either before or afterwards; this was principally owing to the fact that it was the home of many of the most prominent persons engaged in the political struggles of that date. First amongst the principal residents in the county at the time was the patriot John Hampden of Great Hampden, who, from the beginning of Charles' reign, had opposed the Court party in Parliament while representing Buckinghamshire constituencies. It was in respect of his property at Stoke Mandeville that the legality of the Ship Money was tested and the famous judgment was given against him in 1638; he took up the question again in the Short Parliament of 1640 and in the Long Parliament of the same year. Although bitterly opposed to the Court, he was not an opponent to monarchy, and, when he was mortally wounded in the engagement at Chalgrove field near Chinnor in 1643, the King, it is said, offered to send his own surgeon to attend him. In Great Hampden church a monument was erected to his memory by his grandson.
Cromwell was related to the Hampdens and to the Russells of Chequers Court, and his wife and daughters lived for some time at Woodrow High House in Amersham. John Milton, at one time Cromwell's Latin secretary, although a Londoner, was connected with the county; in 1632 his father retired to a house now destroyed, at Horton, near Colnbrook, where Milton resided with him for six years and about this time wrote 'l'Allegro', 'il Penseroso', 'Comus', 'Lycidas' and other works. After 1639 his connection with the county seems to have ceased till 1665 when during the plague in London his friend Thomas Ellwood, the quaker, took 'a pretty box' for him at Chalfont St. Giles; the house known as Milton's Cottage is described in the Inventory of South Buckinghamshire. He was there only for a short time, but it was at Chalfont that he gave Ellwood the completed manuscript of 'Paradise Lost' and, as a result of a remark then made by Ellwood, he determined to write 'Paradise Regained'.
Many of the regicides were Buckinghamshire men. Among them were Thomas Challoner and James his brother, of Steeple Claydon; Colonel George Fleetwood, of the Vache, in Chalfont St. Giles; Thomas Lord Grey, of Bletchley; Robert Hammond of Stony Stratford; Cornelius Holland, lessee of the Creslow estate; Sir Richard Ingoldsby, of Lenborough; Henry Martin, of Stoke Poges; Simon Mayne, of Dinton Hall, near Aylesbury; Thomas Scott, of Aylesbury; and Isaac Penington, of Chalfont. (fn. 74) The Bekes of Haddenham, the Temples of Stowe and many other families were also actively engaged in favour of the Parliament. On the other side Buckinghamshire was not so strong, but there were several who suffered much in consequence of their devotion to the cause of the King, such as Sir Alexander Denton of Hillesden, Sir John Packington and a few others.
Although Buckinghamshire sustained considerable damage from the constant movement of the troops of both parties throughout the Civil War, the chief engagements in the neighbourhood took place outside its borders.
The first disturbances were apparently at Aylesbury, where, in 1640, thirty houses were burnt by the undisciplined Scotch troops. (fn. 75) In August, 1642, Amersham, described by a Parliamentary trooper to a friend as "the sweetest country that ever I saw; and as is the country so also is the people", (fn. 76) had not accommodation enough for the troops and a halt was made at Great Missenden. There the soldiers had noble entertainment from the whole town, especially from Sir Brian Treson and the minister. The next day they passed through Wendover to Aylesbury, where a pulpit was set up (fn. 77); they stayed several days at Aylesbury, ransacking the Papists' houses for meat and money, and sending six delinquents to London. After a mutiny was quashed they marched on 20th August to Buckingham, where, owing to the presence of Lord Brooke's company which had raided Bourton House, the country houses around were forced to shelter the soldiers for two days. (fn. 78)
Prince Rupert, after the battle of Edgehill on 23rd October of this year, passed through Aylesbury on his way to London, but was driven back by the Parliamentarians on 1st November at Holman's Bridge, just outside the town, and retreated towards Oxford. (fn. 79) Later in the month, however, the Royalists revenged themselves on the townspeople by plundering their houses, until they were repulsed by the inhabitants. (fn. 80) It was probably at the former of these fights that the entrenchments at Quarrendon, still existing, were thrown up. Cromwell is said to have stayed at Chalfont St. Giles, after the Battle of Aylesbury, as it was called, with his friends the Ratcliffes, who lived there at 'The Stone'; his troops were at the same time quartered in Sibsden mead and some shots found in the timber roof of the church are thought to have been fired by them. (fn. 81)
It was during his stay at Colnbrook, on 11th November of this year that Charles received the petition for peace presented by the Lords and Commons (fn. 82); on the 29th November, Charles withdrew to Oxford, leaving a garrison at Brill, (fn. 83) but Rupert's cavalry remained in the south of Buckinghamshire, where they plundered Colnbrook (fn. 84); and we have evidence in the churchwardens' accounts of Great Marlow that the church there was used as a fortification, bulwarks being thrown up about it and at Duck Lane, and the soldiers lay in the church, which had to be cleaned out after their departure. (fn. 85)
A detachment of Prince Rupert's troops under Sir John Byron was quartered about this time at Fawley Court, the seat of Bulstrode Whitelocke, Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal. (fn. 86) Although Sir John Byron gave strict orders that no plunder would be allowed, Whitelocke says "there was no insolence or outrage usually committed by common soldiers on a reputed enemy, which was omitted by these brutish fellows at my house." He complained that his writings and MSS. were destroyed, the beds cut up, the coach with the four horses and the saddle horses carried away; the park pales pulled down and the deer killed, with the exception of a tame young stag which, with the hounds "which were extraordinary good", constituted an acceptable gift for Prince Rupert. (fn. 87) The house was so much damaged that it was afterwards pulled down and the present one is said to have been built in 1682 from the designs of Sir Christopher Wren. (fn. 88) Harleyford House apparently suffered at about the same time. (fn. 89) On 23rd January, 1643, Hampden made an attempt upon Brill, "but without effect and with some considerable loss." (fn. 90) Probably the entrenchments still visible north of the church were thrown up at this time.
In the abortive Proposals for the cessation of arms delivered to the King at Oxford on 1st March, it was suggested that the Royal forces in Buckinghamshire should advance no nearer to Aylesbury than Brill, and the Parliamentary forces should not approach nearer Oxford than Aylesbury, then garrisoned by Parliamentary troops. (fn. 91) On 23rd March Prince Rupert appeared before Aylesbury, but did not attack it. (fn. 92)
In June the Royalists, under the command of the Earls of Cleveland and Carnarvon, burnt the village of Swanbourne. (fn. 93) They were at Buckingham at the end of June and a skirmish occurred at East Claydon on 2nd July. (fn. 94) In the west, round Thame (Oxon), there was skirmishing by the Earl of Essex. A "handsome smart conflict" at Padbury, on 2nd July, cost Essex with the Parliamentary forces 100 men in addition to some "prisoners of name"; (fn. 95) he thereupon fell back upon Aylesbury, but the boggy ground outside the town hampered his cavalry, who were also harassed by the Royalists from fields of standing wheat. (fn. 96)
At the beginning of the following October the Royalists appeared in the north part of the county, and Sir Lewis Dyves, a Royalist officer, began to fortify Newport Pagnell whilst Prince Rupert made a diversion to protect him by taking Bedford. Newport Pagnell was intended for a Royal garrison in order to establish a direct line of communication with the northern parts and to hinder commerce between London and the associated counties. Essex, hearing of the plan, moved from Windsor to St. Albans, the train bands of London joining him, whereupon Dyves, misreading orders from Oxford, drew off from Newport Pagnell on 28th October; greatly to the disappointment of the Royalists, Essex entered the town two days later, and it proved "a very useful garrison" in checking the movements of the Royal troops at Towcester. (fn. 97) In December of that year (1643) the Independents, treating secretly with Charles, offered Aylesbury, a town "much in the King's eye", as a pledge of good faith, which it was alleged, Colonel Mozeley, one of the garrison, was prepared to betray. (fn. 98) Mozeley, however, revealed the plot to the Committee of Public Safety, (fn. 99) and when, on 21st January, 1644, Prince Rupert advanced to take the town, Mozeley refused to open the gates; a snowstorm completed the disaster, and Rupert lost about 400 soldiers in his retreat to Oxford. (fn. 100)
The year 1644 witnessed the most stirring events in Buckinghamshire during the civil war, and included the sieges of Hillesden and Greenlands and the first siege of Boarstall. Hillesden was the seat of Sir Alexander Denton, a Royalist, and held a garrison under the command of Colonel Smith. (fn. 101) On 3rd March Cromwell slept the night at Camp Barn, Steeple Claydon, where a modern brick house, 'The Camp', and some entrenchments then thrown up, mark the site. (fn. 102); on the following day he advanced to the attack and, after capturing the church, he took Hillesden House. Colonel Smith and Sir Alexander Denton were made prisoners, and fire was set to the building. (fn. 103) Denton wrote "Those officers that commanded that place were taken and some 150 men, and some 19 killed on both sides, the house pilladged, all my cattell and wine taken away, my house the next day burnt downe to the grounde, and but one house left standinge in that end of the towne." (fn. 104) Traces of the fight remain in the bullet holes made in the church doors, and in the uneven nature of the ground on the opposite side of the road at the west end of the church, which marks the defensive works of the Royalists. The house, though re-built, was pulled down in 1824, and now only parts of the garden walls, the garden terraces and ornamental lake remain to mark the site. After taking Hillesden House, Cromwell spent several weeks at Buckingham, (fn. 105) but the forces went to Newport Pagnell, (fn. 106) where, with the troops left by the Earl of Manchester, they formed a strong garrison which the Committee of both kingdoms thought necessary to maintain on account of the "great consequence of the town, the dangerous effects the loss thereof might produce as barring all intercourse with the north-west." (fn. 107)
About 25th June the Royalists "sat down before Aylesbury and played with their great guns against it." (fn. 108) They were compelled, however, to retire, that they might join the King at Buckingham, whither he had marched on 22nd June. (fn. 109)
In the meantime, preparations were being made in the south part of the county for the reduction of Greenlands House, in Hambleden, which was garrisoned for the King. The Royalists had sent Colonel Hawkins, "a very able soldier", on 15th May with his regiment to keep Greenlands House, and had provided him with sufficient ammunition and bread from Oxford. (fn. 110) On 18th June the forces before Greenlands House were warned "to look to themselves, that they be not surprised." (fn. 111) The siege was considered "to be of so great importance that it cannot without very great prejudice be deserted." (fn. 112) On reaching Aylesbury, on 8th July, Major-General Browne, the Parliamentary general, received instructions to abandon the siege of Greenlands for the present and to attempt the reduction of Boarstall, "which the enemy lately took in, and are now fortifying." On representations, however, from Browne, the Committee reconsidered their decision and ordered him to march with great strength against Greenlands. (fn. 113) The soldiers made a forced march all night to Wycombe and rested there on the 10th July, news being brought to Browne that the enemy were gathering in force to prevent him reaching Greenlands. (fn. 114) He arrived there on the 11th without obstruction, and "drawing up my main body, faced the house, firing a few shots with our gun, which did good execution." (fn. 115) Clarendon says that the house "could not possibly be longer defended, the whole structure being beaten down by the cannon"; (fn. 116) and the Governor capitulated on honourable terms. The garrison was to march away, officers with horses and swords and the soldiers with their arms and colours, leaving all the ordnance behind; they were to have a safe conduct as far as Wallingford. (fn. 117) Browne wrote for instructions, whether to demolish the house or leave it standing, (fn. 118) but getting impatient at not receiving an answer, he acceded to the general wish of the country side and commenced to 'slight' or destroy the fortifications. (fn. 119) On the 18th, however, when too late, he received instructions to garrison Greenlands House against a possible siege, "if the enemy should look that way." (fn. 120)
Hillesden and Greenlands having fallen, the last stronghold of the Royalists in the county was Boarstall House; it had been abandoned by the Royalists in the spring of the year (1644), though reputed a strong place, and as the King did not want a number of small garrisons near Oxford, the garrison was ordered to destroy the works and to join the army. Their policy was, however, a mistake, for the Parliamentary garrison at Aylesbury immediately possessed themselves of the house and used it as a base for raids against Oxford. (fn. 121) Colonel Gage, a Royalist officer, offered to reduce Boarstall, and was supplied with three pieces of cannon, a troop of horse and infantry. (fn. 122) The Committee hastily sent down ammunition and arms, (fn. 123) and on 12th June, at the break of day, the siege was begun. Gage, "with little resistance, got possession of the church and the out-houses, and then battered the house itself with his cannon, which they within would not long endure, but desired a parley." The house was surrendered with one piece of ordnance and large stores of victuals, in return for free departure with horses and arms. The Royalists lost only one lesser officer and two or three men. Gage left a garrison in it to defend Oxford from incursions and his soldiers 'took prey' "from the very neighbourhood of Aylesbury." (fn. 124) It was to prevent these manœuvres that Sir William Waller appeared before Boarstall House about the 18th June with some horse and dragoons. The garrison refused to surrender owing to his lack of foot and artillery, and Waller, for the same reason, abstained from attacking. (fn. 125) On 3rd August, Major-General Browne was ordered to send forces to Boarstall to hinder the fortifications and incursions of the Royalists, (fn. 126) and received instructions on the 10th to march with the main body under his command to Aylesbury. (fn. 127) The siege of Boarstall was abandoned with the approach of winter.
Brill was one of the winter quarters of the Parliamentary army; (fn. 128) Manchester's horse was quartered at Buckingham, some of his foot at Hillesden; (fn. 129) and Newport Pagnell, reputed one of the strongest places in the kingdom, (fn. 130) was the head-quarters. (fn. 131) The Royalists were by no means idle. Sir William Campion was appointed Governor at Boarstall and ordered to pull down the church and houses adjoining for the better defence of the house, and to cut down trees for "pallisadoes." Early in February, 1645, he was told to impress one cart out of every parish adjacent, to use for thirty days in the work of fortification, but on 29th March he was ordered to send his two brass pieces to Oxford. (fn. 132) At the end of May or beginning of June, Fairfax made an attempt upon Boarstall, but was beaten off and retired towards Buckingham. (fn. 133) The Committee wrote to him on the 5th June, "We desire that you would not amuse yourself about Boarstall House." (fn. 134) Clarendon speaks of Fairfax as having "attempted to take a poor house that lay near (Oxford)", and as having "been beaten from thence with considerable loss and had drawn off . . . very little to his honour." (fn. 135) Campion was not molested again that year, but was asked to send the bells from Boarstall Church to Oxford in the following July. On 28th August the King himself passed through Boarstall on his way from Wing to Oxford. (fn. 136)
There is little record of the movement of the rival forces in Buckinghamshire for the rest of the year. Besides the chief Parliamentary garrisons, forces were quartered at Ivinghoe, (fn. 137) Beaconsfield, (fn. 138) and High Wycombe. (fn. 139) During the winter the Parliamentary forces seem to have remained quiet. On the 23rd March, 1646, Fleetwood was sent to quarter at Brill and worry Oxford from that side, (fn. 140) and about this time some damage was done at Dorney Court by Parliamentary troops.
The siege of Boarstall was resumed with the spring, and on 4th May, Fairfax again attempted an assault. (fn. 141) On 12th May, after nearly eight weeks' blockade, he summoned Campion to surrender, (fn. 142) but without avail, and a mortar piece, lately at Banbury, was sent to his aid on the 20th; (fn. 143) this may have induced the defenders to come to terms, and they surrendered upon honourable conditions on 6th June. (fn. 144) With Boarstall fell Charles' last support in the county. In July the Aylesbury fortifications, being no longer necessary, were demolished and the garrison disbanded. (fn. 145) On 6th August an order was given for the demolition of the fortification at Newport Pagnell, (fn. 146) but for some reason it was not carried out, and on 6th May, 1648, a further order was given for the immediate destruction of the works. Their formidable nature made the place very dangerous, and, until the destruction was completed, a force was to remain in the neighbourhood. (fn. 147)
Charles went through the county in the following month on his way from Caversham to Wooburn, passing through Wycombe (fn. 148) and staying the night of 22nd July at Latimers. (fn. 149) He was at Caversham on the 30th, where "The Heads of Proposals" were submitted to him, (fn. 150) Fairfax in the meanwhile having established his head-quarters at Colnbrook. (fn. 151) In August Charles spent a night at Stoke Park as a prisoner on his removal from Moore Park. (fn. 152)
As a closing event of the Civil War, Cromwell, in 1651, received at Aylesbury the delegates sent by Parliament to congratulate him on his victory at Worcester. (fn. 153)
Although the Civil War was answerable for much damage both to ecclesiastical and secular buildings, yet the condition of the former was anything but satisfactory before the war began. A visitation of 1637 shows the churches in the county (fn. 154) to have been in a somewhat lamentable state; the windows of nearly all of them were broken and 'dammed up'; the roofs let in rain and at Thornton an elder tree grew out of the top of the 'steeple' or tower. The principal complaint, however, was regarding the great family pews which existed in every church and obscured the view of the chancel. At Dorney, Sir James Palmer's seat was '3 yards high or thereabouts', and pews of about the same height were reported from Wooburn, Brill and Penn, while seats of from 4 feet to 7 feet in height existed in almost every church in the county. Perhaps the most remarkable was that of Sir John Parsons in Langley Marish church, which was built on the roof of a vault nine steps above the level of the church and was 7 feet high; it was provided with eight lattice windows and a doorway into the church and another into the churchyard.
The condition of the churches became worse during the war. Boarstall was pulled down for military purposes, Hillesden and Great Marlow, and probably others, were fortified and used as barracks, while complaints of damage by the soldiers were made from Lillingstone Dayrell, Grandborough, Winslow, Hogshaw, East Claydon, Addington, Maids' Moreton and elsewhere.
With the Restoration the fabrics of the churches received some attention and important work was carried out, amongst other places, at Dorney, Ravenstone, Stoke Mandeville, Turville and Willen. It was not, however, till the early part of the eighteenth century that, largely under the influence of Browne Willis of Whaddon Hall, the historian of the county, repairs were generally undertaken. Willis was the patron of several livings in the county and expended much money on the churches in his gift; on Bletchley alone, he spent £1,200, a large sum at that time. Later in the same century churches were re-built; amongst others, Gayhurst in 1728, St. Giles, Stony Stratford, in 1776, and Loudwater in 1791, while many were repaired and restored, in most instances with somewhat disastrous results from the antiquarian and æsthetic point of view.
Nonconformity was always strong in the county. The same spirit that made Buckinghamshire conspicuous for Lollardy in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries caused Nonconformity to flourish in the sixteenth century and later. George Fox visited the county and had a large following of Quakers, numbering amongst them such well-known people as Isaac Penington, Thomas Ellwood, and later, William Penn. Jordan's Meeting house at Chalfont St. Giles was built in 1688, and Penington and Penn are both buried in its graveyard. The Presbyterians, Baptists and Independents, were also numerous and took advantage of the Toleration Act of 1689 to build chapels. It was under this Act probably that the Particular Baptist chapel at Winslow was built; it is the only surviving Nonconformist chapel of the seventeenth century in the county. In the eighteenth century the influence of Wesley was strongly felt, and Methodism and other forms of Nonconformity increased and chapels were built in many places.
It was a long time before the damage sustained by secular buildings during the Civil War was made good. The smaller houses burnt or otherwise destroyed at Aylesbury, Swanbourne, Hillesden, Boarstall and elsewhere were no doubt quickly replaced, but the owners of the larger houses were so much crippled in their resources that they were compelled to abandon or delay the rebuilding of their ruined homes. Boarstall House, Seymour Court and other houses were never re-built, and it was not till many years after the Restoration that Fawley Court, Hillesden and Greenlands were re-erected.
The eighteenth century was a great building era in the county. The most important houses of that date were perhaps Stowe—with its classic gardens, temples and statues, built by the Temples—Shardeloes, Cliveden, Chicheley, Harleyford, Langley and Dropmore, while in the following century Mentmore and Bulstrode were built. The Thames Valley was becoming a fashionable pleasure resort and smaller houses arose in the district, bringing prosperity and increased building to the towns.
With the eighteenth century, politics of a more peaceful nature were again becoming part of the life of the county. Lord Beaconsfield is reported to have remarked (fn. 155) that there was 'something in the air of Bucks favourable to political knowledge and vigour.' The Temples and Grenvilles of Stowe and Dropmore, Edmund Burke at Penn, and the less reputable John Wilkes at Aylesbury, and his sponsor for the Hell Fire Club, Sir Francis Dashwood of Medmenham Abbey, did much to maintain the reputation of the county for vigorous politicians. Indeed, there can be little doubt that the discussions among 'the Cobham cousins' at Stowe and, in the next century, the Sunday gatherings at Hughenden strongly influenced the destinies of the nation at two important epochs of its history.
Buckinghamshire, generally, provides few local types of ecclesiastical architecture. There is nevertheless a considerable variation of design and material in its different quarters which becomes more marked as the borders of the neighbouring counties are reached. Thus the use of flint and clunch is mainly confined to the south and east, and the churches built of these materials bear a distinct affinity to the churches of Hertfordshire. Marked examples of this affinity occur at Ivinghoe and Pitstone, where there is 13th-century work which closely corresponds to work of the same date at Flamstead and Gaddesden in Hertfordshire. Again, the small lead-covered spirelets so typical of Hertfordshire are also met with along the southern and eastern borders. In the north and north-west, stone churches approximating to the Northamptonshire types occur, such as Leckhampstead and Tingewick, and the spires of Olney and Hanslope show the same influence; while, along the Oxfordshire borders is a group of stone churches of a different type, of which Twyford, Marsh Gibbon and Ickford are examples. In the north-east, walling of ironstone with some pebbles, similar to that used in Bedfordshire, is not uncommon, and the churches at Linslade and Milton Keynes are more or less like those of Bedfordshire. The 14th-century chancels at Olney, Emberton and Milton Keynes form, however, a group which provides a style of work peculiar to this district. Another local peculiarity is shown in the foiled circular windows in the clearstoreys at Bletchley, Padbury, etc. But, taken as a whole, the ecclesiastical architecture of Buckinghamshire does not reach a high level. With comparatively few exceptions the churches are neither large nor of rich or fine design, and few would attract much attention in such counties as Northamptonshire or Norfolk.
The fittings of the churches also present few local characteristics, though five bells may be noted, which are the only known examples of the work of Michael of Wymbis, a London founder of c. 1300. Of local founders the most notable were the Attons of Buckingham and the Chandlers of Drayton Parslow, but the majority of the bells came from foundries in neighbouring counties. The 15th-century chrismatory in Grandborough Church, the vestment cupboard of c. 1500, with swinging 'perks', in Aylesbury Church and the Boarstall Horn, probably of the 15th century, preserved at Dorton House, demand mention as rare survivals.
In a less degree the influence of neighbouring counties is visible in the secular architecture. This is especially noticeable along the Northamptonshire border, and stone rubble houses are common at such places as Calverton, Lavendon, Tingewick and Stoke Goldington. The majority of the houses, however, are of plastered timber; but though this timber construction is common it never developed beyond a simple type and there is nothing that approaches the elaboration of the ornamental panelling, etc., of Lancashire and Cheshire. It is also noteworthy that, owing to its elastic qualities, timber-framing, here as elsewhere, is a marked characteristic of the clay districts. Plastering is usually quite plain, and the combed work and pargeting of Hertfordshire is very rare. Brick-work is not very common; it is generally of fairly late date and offers no outstanding peculiarities; the earliest use is at Eton where the brickwork, dating from the middle of the 15th century, is quite plain. Nevertheless, a considerable number of 16th-century chimney stacks have shafts ornamented with moulding or panelling; the best perhaps are those at Chenies Manor House.
Nor is the county rich in great houses, though such buildings as Creslow and Gayhurst would be notable in any district of England, and other good houses are Chequers, Dorney, Dorton, Hartwell and Denham. Secular buildings of moderate size are much more thickly distributed over the southern than over the northern district, where there appear to have been considerable tracts of uncleared forest land to a comparatively late date.
In the Sectional Prefaces which introduce the Inventories of this volume and the volume dealing with South Buckinghamshire special attention is called to the best examples of ecclesiastical and secular architecture in the two divisions of the County. There also will be found a general statement as to the present structural condition of the various classes of monuments.
The books of Reference dealing with the County which have been of special assistance in preparing the Inventories are (1) The Records of the Buckinghamshire Archæological Society (1854–1910); (2) Lipscomb, History of Buckinghamshire (1831–47); (3) The Victoria County History of Buckinghamshire, vols. I and II (1905–8), the only volumes yet published; (4) Sheahan, History and Topography of the County of Buckinghamshire (1862); (5) A. Heneage Cocks, F.S.A., The Church Bells of Buckinghamshire (1897); (6) Willis and Clark, The Architectural History of the University of Cambridge, vol. I (1886); (7) Maxwell Lyte, History of Eton College (1899); (8) The Verney Memoirs (ed. 1904); (9) Haines, Monumental Brasses (1861).