A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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The parish of Binfield was formerly part of Windsor Forest and is still well wooded with many fine old forest trees, particularly oaks and cedars. It has an area of 3,489 acres, of which more than half is permanent grass, while there are 206 acres of woods and plantations and 543 acres of arable land, (fn. 1) producing crops of wheat, barley and oats. An inclosure award was made for the parish in 1817. (fn. 2) The soil is gravel and clay with a clay subsoil. (fn. 3) The average height of the ground is 200 ft. above the ordnance datum, but an altitude of 300 ft. is reached in the south-west, near Amen Corner. At Great Hazes Plantation in the north-east it falls to 134 ft. The water supply comes from the Wokingham District Water Co., but a spring about a mile from the manorhouse was reserved to the sole use of the lord of the manor when Windsor Forest was inclosed in 1817. A stream called the Cut flows in a northerly direction through the parish. The main road from Wokingham to Staines runs from west to east, part of it being known as Coppidbeech Lane, and the road from Reading to Windsor runs in the same direction further north. The village, which is very scattered, is 2½ miles from Bracknell station on the South Western railway. The rectory, Binfield Court, and a few other houses stand by themselves to the north of the rest of the village and probably represent the original settlement. There is an undenominational chapel in the village dating from 1875 and a Gospel hall. The working men's club was built by subscription in 1885.
Probably the oldest house in the parish is Binfield Place on the Windsor road, the residence of Mr. Robert Caswall. The building, which faces south, dates from the reign of Henry VII, though much altered and reduced in size. (fn. 4) It was originally E-shaped in plan, with a total length of about 88 ft., and was evidently of half-timber work above the cellars and foundations. Of the original building only the east wing and the part of the main block east of the former entrance survive, the western portion of the main block having been replaced by or incorporated in an 18th-century wing. The half-timber walls were probably converted into brick during the 17th century and the greater part of the back, or north side, of the building has been modernized. The original wood wall-plate can be seen outside in the main south wall, and the foundations of the west wing have been discovered in places. All the windows are square with wood frames and the roofs are tiled; one of the chimneys bears the date 1702. The present length of the building is about 48 ft. The entrance doorway, originally a window, is in the south wall. To the right of the doorway, inside, is a passage-way lined with early 17th-century panelling with fluted uprights and cornice, and on the inside of the outer wall near the ceiling is an original early 16th-century moulded beam, evidently part of the former half-timber walling. From the passage are steps up to the south-east room, and there are also steps down to the cellar, the latter now covered by an ingeniously hinged trap-door. The room opening off this room to the north of the passageway has a 16th-century stone fireplace with moulded jambs and lintel. The plaster ceiling hides some 16th-century moulded beams, one large bridge joist across the middle supporting the moulded floor joists. These were open from below and have traces of their original painted decoration, a running pattern in red and green with white roses. The stairs, which are opposite the present entrance, are of no particular interest. The screen on the first floor dividing the top landing from the space above the entrance lobby is made up with 17th-century panelling, and opening off this space into the north-west room is an original 16th-century doorway of wood with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with sunk spandrels; the outside of the doorway is on the west side towards the room. A passage on the south, similar to that below, is lined with panelling of about 1620, as is also the south-east bedroom. In the north-east room is a stone fireplace like that in the room below. Against the road to the south, and exactly opposite the position of the former middle doorway, is a 17th-century gateway with brick posts having moulded stone cappings and balls.
Elm Grove, now called Sarscroft, the residence of Mr. Percival Soames, is a small building dating from the 18th century and later. In its grounds is a raised bowling-green, which, it has been surmised, is one of the early earthworks with which this district abounds. Most of the elms, from which the house was named, are now gone, but one or two of extraordinary height remain.
Other residences are Binfield Park House, situated in a park of about 100 acres, lately the property and residence of Mr. W. Burden-Muller, who sold it in 1913 to Mr. A. Vlasto; Binfield Court, the seat of Mrs. W. E. Whitaker; Forest Lodge, belonging to Lady Morshead; Binfield Lodge, the property of Captain E. F. Rhodes, but occupied by Helen, Lady Clark; Arthurstone, the residence of Mr. J. W. MacNabb, J.P.; Egmont, of Major R. E. Lowndes Radcliffe; Park Lodge, of Sir Frederick D. Cunningham; the White Lodge (formerly Seven Acres), of Mr. H. E. Wiggett; Binfield Manor, of Mr. L. R. Erskine; Allanbay, of Mrs. James A. Wiggett; Binfield Grove, of Sir Robert R. Wilmot, bart.; and Farley Copse, the property of Col. Donald MacNabb.
The inn called the 'Jack o' Newbury' is mentioned at the end of the 17th century. (fn. 5) An old house which stood 'near the eighth mile stone on the road to Windsor' was occupied in the 17th and 18th centuries by the family of Lee. Robert Lee, son of Robert Lee of Beaconsfield, Bucks., married Joyce daughter of John Smewyn (fn. 6) of Binfield. Their son Robert Lee of Binfield was aged sixty-three in 1665. He had a son Robert, then aged eighteen. (fn. 7) Judith sister of the latter married Henry fourth Earl of Stirling, who died in 1691. He and his wife, who died in 1681, were both buried at Binfield, and also their son Henry fifth Earl of Stirling, who died in 1739. (fn. 8) His nephew William Phillips assumed the name of Lee. (fn. 9) The house was pulled down before Lysons wrote. (fn. 10)
Alexander Pope (1688–1744) spent most of his boyhood at Binfield. (fn. 11)
The following place-names are found in Binfield: Barghurst, (fn. 12) Redhurst and Suthale (fn. 13) (xiii cent.); Roughgrove with la Giggehurne, Wythemedegrove, Estgrove and le Halle place, (fn. 14) le Hethynnynge (fn. 15) (xiv cent.); Budginhammeade (fn. 16) (xvii cent.).
A capital messuage called Cliftons was forfeited by John Dancastle (see manors) for recusancy in the reign of Charles I. (fn. 17)
At the date of the Great Survey BINFIELD apparently formed part of the royal manor of Cookham, as in 1225 it is called a member of that manor. (fn. 18) It descended with Cookham, forming part of the dower of the Queens of England during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, (fn. 19) and is still in the possession of the Crown.
A so-called manor of BINFIELD was surrendered with Clewer to the Crown in 1546 by Thomas Lord Sandys. (fn. 20) His mother was Margery Bray, niece of Sir Reynold Bray, who had bought lands in Binfield with the manor of Clewer during the reign of Henry VII. (fn. 21) The Crown also obtained land in 1542 by exchange with George Throckmorton. (fn. 22) This land had been bought by George Throckmorton from Thomas Decons, (fn. 23) and had formerly belonged to the Rippons, (fn. 24) and probably to the Smewyns. (fn. 25)
Another manor of BINFIELD was held of the royal manor by the family of De la Beche. John de la Beche died in 1328 seised of a messuage and a hide of land held of the king's ancient demesne by the service of 4s. 8d. and suit to the hundred of Cookham every three weeks. (fn. 26) From John de la Beche the manor descended in his family, and then passed, like that of La Beche in Aldworth (q.v.), through the Langfords to Reade Stafford, (fn. 27) who sold it in or before 1597 to John Dancastle of Welhouse, who died seised of it in 1610, leaving a grandson John, aged thirteen, as his heir. (fn. 28) He settled it by fine in 1658. (fn. 29) His son John (fn. 30) is apparently the John Dancastle buried in the church who died in 1680. John Dancastle, probably his grandson, (fn. 31) the last male heir and the friend of Pope, was holding in 1716, (fn. 32) and sold it in 1754 (fn. 33) to William Pitt, whose nephew William Moreton Pitt sold it in 1778 to Buckworth Herne. (fn. 34) The next owner was William Coxe, from whom it was purchased in 1787 by George Lord Kinnaird. (fn. 35) Eight years later Claud Russell became the proprietor by purchase and was holding in 1813. (fn. 36) It subsequently passed to Sir F. Wilder, whose widow sold it to Mr. Kinnersley. He sold the manor-house and about 60 acres of land about 1896 to Lord Arthur Hill, of whom it was purchased in 1907 by Mr. Lestocq R. Erskine, the present owner. (fn. 37)
The manor of DEPERS (Deapers, Diapers) was surrendered to the king in 1544 by John Leigh of Stockwell and Elizabeth his wife. (fn. 38) It remained with the Crown until the reign of James I, (fn. 39) who bestowed the property in 1616 upon Charles, then Prince of Wales. (fn. 40) In 1628 Charles granted it in fee to Edward Ditchfield and other citizens of London (fn. 41) in trust for the Corporation. In 1690 John Royse and Mary his wife and Lydia R[oyse], widow, conveyed the manor to Thomas Wright, sen., Thomas Wright, jun., and John Bateman. (fn. 42) Later Depers became the property of a Mr. Webb, (fn. 43) and in 1800 was held by Henry William Toovey Hawley. (fn. 44) Five years later it was sold by Zachariah Boult to Charles Browing. (fn. 45) In 1840 the estate was in the possession of Stephen Henry Shepheard and later came into the hands of the Rev.— Lambert, who sold it to the Rev. J. S. Wiggett. It is part of the Binfield Place estate, now called Allanbay, and is the property of Mrs. Wiggett. (fn. 46)
There was a subordinate manor in Binfield called BUCKHURST situated on Buckhurst Hill. It was held in 1608 by Thomas Allen and in 1663 by the heir of Nicholas Ticknor. In 1806 it belonged to Charles Cove, and before that to the Southey family. Cove was still in possession in 1840, but it was afterwards bought by Mr. Heelas of Wokingham and sold to Mr. C. J. Murdoch, M.P. for Reading, to whose widow it now belongs. (fn. 47)
The church of ALL SAINTS consists of a chancel 35 ft. 3 in. by 16 ft. 11 in., with a north aisle 23 ft. 10 in. by 17 ft. 9 in and a south chapel 23 ft. 5 in. by 16 ft. 2 in., north-east vestry, nave 53 ft. by 18 ft. 7 in., north and south aisles each 16 ft. 2 in. wide, south porch, and west tower 9 ft. 11 in. by 9 ft. 9 in. These measurements are all internal.
Only the font remains to suggest the existence of a church here before the first half of the 15th century, to which period the chancel, nave, south chapel and south aisle belong. The south chapel is slightly later in date than the south aisle of the nave, and the tower was added at the end of the same century. The north aisle of the nave was added in 1848, and eleven years later the north chancel aisle was built and the vestry added. The building has been very thoroughly restored, so that but few of the windows retain their original stonework.
The chancel is faced with flint externally. The east window is modern and of three trefoiled lights under a traceried two-centred head, and in either side wall is a modern two-light traceried window, that on the south side having a sedile in its recess. In the east wall, south of the altar, is a trefoiled ogee piscina, of which only the round basin appears to be old. An arcade of three bays, the easternmost modern, divides the chancel from the south chapel. The two original arches are of two orders, the outer hollow-chamfered and the inner moulded with a wave-mould; the columns, the western of which is original, are octagonal, as is the modern east respond, but the west respond is of two chamfered orders. The capitals have bead-moulded abaci. On the north side an arcade of three bays opens into the modern chancel aisle. There is no chancel arch, but a modern iron screen on a stone base separates nave and chancel, and a step descends from the former into the latter; the side arches are also closed by iron screens.
The south chapel, which has been lengthened eastwards, has a 15th-century east window (moved out with the wall) of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery under a depressed head. The six tracery openings were filed with old glass, which was removed in the last century to the modern south-east window. The glass, which is of the 15th century, represents the figures of St. George with the dragon, St. John the Divine with the poisoned cup, St. Peter, St. Paul, and the two figures of the Annunciation, the angel and the Blessed Virgin. The second south window as old and has two cinquefoiled lights with a quatrefoil under a two-centred head; the inner jambs have engaged shafts with moulded capitals and bases, and the rear arch is two-centred and moulded.
The south arcade of the nave is of four bays with octagonal pillars and responds of two chamfered orders; the bases are hollow chamfered and the capitals moulded; the arches are pointed and of two double ogee orders. On the north side an arcade of four bays with octagonal piers and pointed arches, apparently set a little to the north of the former nave wall, opens into the modern north aisle.
The south aisle, which is continuous with the south chapel, has two south windows, both of two lights and of the same type as the south-west window of the chapel, with a south doorway between them. The eastern window retains its old inner jambs and has a stilted two-centred drop rear arch, probably later than the jambs, but, like the western window, has been restored outside. The doorway, which has been partly restored, has a moulded label and is of two continuous orders, the inner hollow chamfered, with square flowers in the pointed head and upper part of the jambs, and the outer moulded with a double ogee. The west window is modern and of two lights under a pointed head. The walling of the aisle is of dark-coloured conglomerate blocks, while the modern extension at the east end of the chapel is faced with flint.
The tower, which is also faced with conglomerate, is of two stages with an embattled parapet, and has diagonal buttresses at the western angles. The tower arch is of two continuous hollow-chamfered orders, and is somewhat to the south of the axial line of the nave, while the floor of the ground stage is higher than the general floor level. The modernized west window has two trefoiled lights under a pointed arch, and a small trefoiled light, breaking the string between the two stages, lights the first story on the south side. The bellchamber is lighted by old windows of two trefoiled lights under two-centred arches of two hollow orders. A modern stair-turret has been built in the middle of the north side, and the entrance to the bell-chamber is through the north window, which has had its mullion removed. The roof is covered with lead, which bears the date 1725 and the initials I.H. and I.S.
The open wooden porch is of the 15th century; each side has eight feathered and traceried bays, differing in detail. The chancel has an opentimbered cradle roof, the timbers of which appear to be old. The nave roof has heavy tie-beams and wind-braced purlins and is probably old.
The font is plain and has an old cylindrical bowl on a modern octagonal stem. The pulpit, which stands in the north aisle, is dated 1628 and is typically carved and panelled. The sounding-board, which was till recently in the vestry, has turned pendants and open ornament over. Next to the pulpit is an elaborate wrought-iron sword-stand with leaf and grape ornament; in the back are a wolf, a pelican and a lion repeated on either side with three shields. The uppermost shield has the arms: Sable a cheveron argent between three harts' heads caboshed; the middle one has a rose tree with red roses; and the lowest is charged Argent three horseshoes sable, the arms of the Farriers' Company of London.
At the west end of the nave is some panelling matching the pulpit and contemporary with it, and the vestry is also lined with 17th-century panelling with carved strap-work. Near the pulpit and organ stands a chest of the same date. The tower archway has been closed by a wood screen in which are fitted some pieces of 15th-century tracery, probably belonging to a former rood screen.
At the entrance to the chancel is a small brass half-figure of a priest with the inscription : 'Water de Anneford gist icy dieu de sa alme eit mercy.' He was rector of Binfield in the first half of the 14th century. Against the east wall of the south chapel is a curious palimpsest brass; it has been damaged and part of the later inscription with the name is lost, but it is said to commemorate Richard Turner and Katherine his wife. (fn. 48) It is in black letter and reads : 'Here lyeth the bodie … yne his wyfe, whiche in this parisshe sumtyme lyved …wyfe. But nowe dethe hathe them ravesshed their ly … past and goone. Theire bodyes lyeth here covered under this marbulle stoone wiche Richard died the xxvi day of October in the yere of our lord god MVcLVIII and the sayd Katheryne dyed the xiii day of Aprill in the yer of or lord god MVc XXXIX whose soules Jhū pardon.' In the registers is found the entry of the death of Catherine Turner, 13 April 1538 , and of Richard Turner, 30 October 1558.
Over this is a portion of a Latin inscription, above which are two fragments of a curved inscribed scroll. The back of the brass bears part of the figure of a bishop or abbot with a staff, holding in his left hand a book inclosed in a bag, while on the reverse of the second inscription is a portion of another inscription reading, 'Orate pro a[nima] Will[elmi] Brampt … et Stok fisshmonger london['] cui[us] …'
In the chancel are gravestones to Elizabeth, the wife of Gabriel Yonge and daughter of Edmund Lechmere, who died in 1686, John Dancastle, 1680, Henry Howard, lord of the borough of Clum, son to Robert Howard, knight of the Bath, 1675, William Blount, 1671, and Henry Alexander Earl of Stirling, 1739. In the nave is a stone to Judith Countess of Stirling, who died in 1681; she was the daughter of Robert Lee of Binfield.
There are six bells: the treble is by Mears & Stainbank, 1882, and the remaining five are by Samuel Knight, 1628; the second is inscribed 'I as trebell do bee ginn'; the third, 'Feare God honer the King'; the fourth, 'Samuel Knight cast this ring'; the fifth, 'In Binfield touar for too sing'; and the tenor, 'Samuell Knight mad mee.
The church of ST. MARK, built in 1866, consists of chancel, nave, aisles and transepts. The materials are red brick with stone facings and the design is in the style of the 13th century. It serves as a chapel of ease to All Saints' Church.
The church of Binfield appears to have been one of the chapels of Cookham given by Henry I to the abbey of Cirencester, (fn. 49) as the church is afterwards found in the possession of that abbey. In 1226 Henry III granted to the church of All Saints of Binfield a piece of ground for making a courtyard. (fn. 50) In 1347 the abbot paid £20 for a licence to appropriate the church. (fn. 51) At the Dissolution, however, the living appears to have been a rectory, (fn. 52) as it still remains. The advowson has been in the Crown since the Dissolution. (fn. 53)
A chantry of one chaplain was founded in the church of Binfield by Robert Broke for the soul of Sir Richard Broke his father and all Christian souls, the priest to have a stipend of £6 13s. 4d. from the manor of Depers. When that manor passed to the king the chantry ceased to exist. (fn. 54)
Two distinguished Royalist divines, David Stokes (1591 ?–1669), the theological writer, and Thomas Lamplugh (1615–91), afterwards Bishop of Exeter and Archbishop of York, held the rectory of Binfield. Henry Dison Gabell (1764–1831), the head master of Winchester College, was the rector there in 1820. (fn. 55)
In 1652 Richard How, by deed, gave land at Finchampstead, onefourth part of the rent to be employed in maintaining at school one or more poor child or children of Binfield. The endowment is now represented by £600 consols, this parish being entitled to one-fourth of the dividends amounting to £3 15s. a year (see under Wokingham).
In 1752 the Rev. John Birch charged Bridge Close with the payment of 52s. a year for bread for the poor, and by deed, 15 January 1770, conveyed the Close and a cottage and orchard adjoining for securing the payment of the charge, the remainder of the rents to be applied in teaching poor children to read. By an order of the Charity Commissioners of 22 April 1904 a sum of £104 consols, part of a sum of £195 2s. 5d. consols, representing the proceeds of the sale in 1887 of Bridge Close, was placed to a separate account entitled Birch's Bread Charity, the dividends being applicable in the distribution of bread under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 19 February 1878. The residue of the endowment, entitled Birch's Educational Foundation, consists of a cottage and garden at Stubbs Hill containing 2 r. 14 p. near Manor Farm and £91 2s. 7d. consols. The income, amounting to £10 16s. 4d. is at present accumulating pending the establishment of a scheme.
In 1647 William Winch by his will charged a cottage and a piddle of ground called Hazel Hatch and 4 acres of land at Rye Arsh with 10s. to be paid annually on the feast of All Saints to ten poor people of Binfield. The annuity is received from Mrs. Rhodes of Newmarket.
In 1648 William Symondson by will gave 100 marks, the income to be distributed on his birthday, 17 November. A cottage and lands were purchased with the money. The property consists of a building formerly used as an infants' school and now for parochial meetings; a pair of cottages with yard, garden and outbuildings; 3 r. 24 p. of land, Brook Meadow, containing 2 a. 1 r. 32 p. and coal shed, and two allotments of land containing 1 a. 2 r., producing in the aggregate £24 a year or thereabouts. The net income is now applied to the Sunday school clothing club as an addition by way of bonus to the sums deposited by the members. (fn. 56)
In 1655 William Randall by deed gave a rentcharge of 10s. charged on Pease Croft and 5s. charged on Long Close to be distributed to the poor every Good Friday. The rent-charge on Pease Croft was redeemed in 1868, and is represented by a sum of £17 10s. 10d. consols. The rent-charge of 5s. is paid by Pembroke College, Oxford, who now own Long Close.
It appears from a tablet in the church that Sir John Ketcher by will gave a rent-charge of 10s. secured upon Paradise Mead to be distributed to the poor on Good Friday. The annuity is distributed with the income of Randall's charity in gifts of 2s. each to poor widows on Good Friday.
In 1719 Michael Wondesford by his will gave £40 for apprenticing poor boys. A piece of land was purchased with the legacy, exchanged in or about 1719 for a close containing 3 a. 36 p. called Overlicks, adjoining Priestwood Common. There was also set out by the award of the commissioners, dated 8 November 1817, under the Windsor Forest Act, (fn. 57) an allotment containing 2 r. 11 p. separated from Overlicks by a stream. The rents, amounting to £45s. 2d. per annum, are applied in apprenticing boys.
In 1785 James Batson, by his will proved in the P.C.C. gave £100 to the parish to be applied as his executor, Edward Batson, might think fit. This sum was invested by the executor (together with a sum advanced by himself) in £200 East India annuities, and he directed that the income should be distributed to the poor.
In 1804 the Rev. Edward Wilson, canon of Windsor, then rector, by his will proved in the P.C.C. 15 December, gave £500 3 per cent. reduced annuities, and directed that the dividends should be distributed together with those belonging to Bowes' and Batson's charities. The endowment of these charities is now represented by £1,203 0s. 2d. consols, producing £30 1s. 4d. per annum, which is distributed on St. Stephen's Day in sums of 20s. to the poor not receiving poor-law relief.
In 1830 John Stevenson gave £50, now represented by £59 16s. 11d. consols, for the benefit of the poor. The income, amounting to £1 9s. 8d. per annum, is applied in the distribution of bread in the same manner as Birch's bread charity (see above). The several sums of stock above mentioned are held by the official trustees.
The fuel allotment—By an inclosure award dated 8 November 1817, under the Act for inclosing Windsor Forest, there was allotted to this parish, in lieu of the right of the poor to cut turves, & c., for fuel, a parcel of land containing 12 a. 3 r. 34p., and another piece of land containing 1 r. 2p. has been purchased subsequently. The land is let and produces £14 17s. 2d. per annum, which is applied in an annual distribution of coals to about fifty poor persons in quantities of 5 cwt. each.