A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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The parish of Remenham is situated in a bend of the Thames on the slope of the chalk hills running down to the river and immediately opposite to Henley on the other side. It has an area of 1,573 acres, of which less than half is arable land. (fn. 1) The soil is loam with a subsoil of gravel and chalk, but on the higher parts of the parish there is an upper stratum of clay. Near the church, in the northwest of the parish, also near Remenham Place and elsewhere there are chalk and gravel-pits. The principal crops are wheat, oats and barley. In the neighbourhood of Remenham Hill the ground averages 300 ft. above the ordnance datum, rising to 375 ft. near Park Place. From here it slopes sharply down westwards to the river, where the average height is a little over 100 ft.
The road from Henley runs eastward through the centre of the parish. The nearest railway station is Henley-on-Thames, 1½ miles distant, on the Great Western railway. The two parishes are connected by a bridge across the river built in 1786. A bridge here is mentioned from the 13th century onwards; it was destroyed in 1642 during the Civil War, and after being partially restored was finally swept away by a flood in 1774. (fn. 2) There is a ferry over the river near the hamlet of Aston.
The parish was inclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1799. (fn. 3)
The village of Remenham, consisting of little more than the church, rectory, school, and Remenham Farm, lies on the right bank of the river in the north-west of the parish, while the scattered hamlet of Remenham Hill is situated along the Henley road on its eastern side. To the west of Remenham Farm is the site of the former manor-house, part of the moat of which still exists. The rectory, which was built about seventy years ago, is very conspicuous from the river, and forms a mark often mentioned in accounts of races on the Henley course. Regatta Island, from which the famous course extends to Henley Bridge, is included in Remenham parish. The Leander Club have their house near the Remenham end of the bridge. Aston is a hamlet opposite Remenham on the other side of the bend of the Thames. AngloSaxon remains have been found here. (fn. 4)
Park Place, the seat of Mr. Wilson Noble, is a handsome stone mansion, in a free style of French renaissance, built by Mr. John Noble, who bought the estate in 1870. It stands in a well-wooded park on the site of an earlier house, and has a fine situation on the high ground above the river.
Other houses in the neighbourhood are Wilminster Park, the residence of Mr. Ernest Eveleigh; Woodlands, the residence of Colonel H. M. Vibart, R.E.; and Bird Place, the residence of Mr. W. A. Simmons, J.P., all situated near the river. Underwood, at Remenham Hill, is the residence of Mrs. Ames.
The manor of REMENHAM, which was held in the reign of Edward the Confessor by Queen Edith, was included among the king's lands at the date of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 5) The assessment had fallen from 12 hides to 4 hides. There was a mill worth 20s. and 1,000 eels. The manor was apparently granted by the Crown at an early date to one of the Earls of Warwick, possibly to Henry de Newburgh, the first earl, who received lands in Warwickshire from William II about 1090. (fn. 6) It is found held under the Earls of Warwick by the family of Montfort. (fn. 7) Thurstan de Montfort was holding fees of the old feoffment under William de New burgh in 1166, (fn. 8) and about the same date made payment at the exchequer in regard of his lands in Remenham. (fn. 9) The next tenant of whom we have record is Thurstan de Montfort, grandson, according to Dugdale, of the first Thurstan, whose lands were in the king's hands in 1216, including the advowson of Remenham Church. (fn. 10) Peter son of Thurstan held 'one fee in Ramenham' under the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 11) He was killed at the battle of Evesham in 1265, and left three sons, Peter, William and Robert. (fn. 12) A settlement seems to have been made on the second son William, who was holding the manor in 1308. (fn. 13) William was succeeded by Robert, son of Sir Robert de Montfort, who in 1310 conveyed the manor of Remenham (then held for life by Henry de Malyns) to Henry de Ernesfast. (fn. 14) This was possibly a quitclaim in favour of Peter de Montfort, brother of John de Montfort, head of the elder branch, the Montforts of Beaudesert, for Peter de Montfort held the manor in 1313, when he settled an annuity of £50 'issuing from his manor of Ramenham' upon John his illegitimate son and Thomas de Ilmington, on condition that they resided there or elsewhere according to his wishes. (fn. 15) In 1349 Peter de Montfort settled the reversion of the manor on John for life, with remainder to his own legitimate son Guy de Montfort and his wife Margaret, daughter of Thomas de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick, and contingent remainder to the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 16) Guy died without issue before his father, and apparently the manor was entailed by a later settlement on John de Montfort, for William, son of his son Baldwin, was holding Remenham in 1408, (fn. 17) and in 1425 was defendant in a suit concerning the diversion of a water-course in Remenham to the damage of a freehold in Hambleden (Bucks.). (fn. 18) In 1450 he conveyed the manor to his second son by his first wife, Richard, rector of Ilmington (Warwick), (fn. 19) for settlement on himself for life, with reversion to Edmund, his only son by his second wife Joan de Alderwiche, (fn. 20) to the disinheritance of Baldwin, his eldest son and heir. (fn. 21) William died in 1452, his eldest son Baldwin being his heir-at-law. (fn. 22) The feoffees of William, by way of strengthening Edmund's claim, enfeoffed Humphrey Duke of Buckingham of the manor. (fn. 23) The reversion of his Warwickshire lands, failing his own issue, Edmund settled on the Duke of Buckingham and his heirs, whereupon the duke seized both Bakdwin and his son Simon, imprisoned the one in Coventry and the other in Gloucester, (fn. 24) and by threats compelled them to release the estates to Edmund. (fn. 25)
After the attainder and death of the Duke of Buckingham Baldwin made a final effort to regain his estate and obtained the insertion of a clause in the Act of Attainder safeguarding the rights of his son Simon to this manor. (fn. 26) In 1471 he executed a document setting forth the pressure which had been brought to make him repudiate the entail of the estates and declaring the validity of the entail made by William on himself and his heirs. (fn. 27) Edmund, however, appears to have been holding the manor in 1479. (fn. 28) It is not clear what then happened to it. Baldwin entered holy orders and died in 1493. (fn. 29) Simon was attainted in 1496, and Coleshill, his Warwickshire manor, was granted shortly afterwards to Simon Digby, but it does not appear that any grant was made of Remenham, although the manor seems to have been in the king's hands in 1498–9. (fn. 30) Possibly Simon de Montfort's widow Anne was the Anne Preston who with her husband John released the manor in 1503 to Richard Bishop of Winchester and other trustees for Sir Reynold Bray. (fn. 31) A quitclaim was made to the same by William Norreys, but how he acquired any interest is also not clear. (fn. 32) Bray died without issue the same year. (fn. 33) His niece and heir Margery married Sir William Sandys, (fn. 34) and the manor was assigned to them at the partition of his lands between Margery and her cousin Edmund Bray in 1510. (fn. 35) Sir William Sandys, for his military services, was created Lord Sandys de Vyne in 1523. He was succeeded on his death in 1542 (fn. 36) by his son Thomas, who made a settlement of the manor in 1550, (fn. 37) and died circa 1560, (fn. 38) leaving his grandson William as his heir. The latter, who suffered a recovery in 1599, (fn. 39) apparently conveyed the manor to Miles Sandys, father of Edwin Sandys, the husband of his daughter Elizabeth, for Miles Sandys died seised of it in 1601. (fn. 40) His heir was his son Edwin, who was dealing with the manor together with William Lord Sandys in 1607. (fn. 41) The latter suffered a recovery in 1608, (fn. 42) and apparently a settlement was made on his son William Sandys, for in 1612–13 he conveyed the manor to Sir Richard Lovelace, (fn. 43) afterwards Lord Lovelace of Hurley. The manor followed the descent of Hurley (q.v.) until the death of John Lord Lovelace in 1693. (fn. 44) He died heavily in debt, and in 1695 Sir Henry Johnson, executor of Lord Lovelace, and Martha his wife, daughter of Lord Lovelace and administratrix of Anne and Katherine Lovelace her sisters, were paying off debts due on account of the manor to Sir William Whitlock and others, apparently mortgagees. (fn. 45) The heirs of Lord Lovelace eventually parted with the manor, which in 1723 was held by Bulstrode Whitlock of Phyllis Court, Oxon. (fn. 46) He by indentures of 1723 and 1724 conveyed Remenham Farm and the park or ground called Remenham Park, then held by Anne Whitlock, widow, as part of her jointure, and the manor of Remenham to Gislingham Cooper. (fn. 47) Lysons's statement that the manor was acquired by Lord Archibald Hamilton is unsupported by evidence. It seems more likely that it descended from Gislingham Cooper to Dr. Cooper, who according to Lysons sold it about 1760 to the uncle of Strickland Freeman of Fawley Court (Bucks.), lord of the manor in 1813. (fn. 48) His heir was William Peere Williams, Admiral of the Fleet (grandson of Mary Freeman, sister of John Cooke Freeman of Fawley Court), who took the name of Freeman on inheriting Fawley Court. He died in 1832. His grandson and heir William Peere Williams Freeman dealt with the manor in 1833 (fn. 49) and sold it to Dudley Coutts Majoribanks, afterwards created a baronet. Sir Dudley Coutts Majoribanks sold it in 1871 to the Right Hon. William Henry Smith, who in 1891 was succeeded by his son Viscount Hambleden of Greenlands, Hambleden. (fn. 50)
STROWDES or VYNE'S PLACE
STROWDES or VYNE'S PLACE, now called PARK PLACE, possibly derived its first name from a family of Strode, of whom Richard de la Strode owned land in Remenham in 1257. (fn. 51) John de la Strode, called of Dunsden, bought land in Aston in 1294 and 1305, (fn. 52) and Thomas de la Strode, called of Remenham, granted land in Hurley to the priory in the reign of Edward I. (fn. 53) The property probably took its second name from Thomas Vyne, for whom a messuage and 9 virgates of land in Remenham were held in trust at time of his death in 1479, when they descended to his son and heir Ralph. (fn. 54) In 1591 Thomas Marriott died seised of the capital messuage or farm called Strowdes and Vyne's Place and all the lands there late in the tenure of Stephen Vyne. (fn. 55) John, his son, who succeeded, made a settlement of the property upon the marriage of his son William with Anne Faldo in 1628, (fn. 56) and three years later William Marriott leased it for ninety-nine years to William Faldo. (fn. 57) The latter and the owners conveyed it in 1632 to Robert Salter of Cookham, (fn. 58) who apparently parted with it shortly afterwards, for in 1642 Robert Draper died seised of the messuage called Pecks Place or Strowdes. (fn. 59) Thomas, his son and heir, was aged sixteen. The use of the former name suggests that the property had formerly been held by William Peck, who was living at Remenham in the reign of Henry VI. (fn. 60) Roger Draper held the estate in 1676, when it was called Perkes Place alias Strowdes. (fn. 61)
From a deed now in the Reading Liberary, dated 18 and 19 September 1719, it appears that Lord Archibald Hamilton, son of William third Duke of Hamilton, purchased certain lands called Park's Place alias Strowdes from Mrs. Elizabeth Baker. (fn. 62) He built the house on the site of the present house called Park Place. (fn. 63) About 1738 Lord Archibald sold the estate to Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of George III, (fn. 64) who occupied it during his estrangement from his father King George II. (fn. 65) In 1752 it was purchased by General (afterwards Field-Marshal) the Hon. Henry Seymour Conway, (fn. 66) who started the cultivation of lavender in Remenham and established a distillery there. (fn. 67) The house, which he had much improved, became the rendezvous of many distinguished people, among whom were Horace Walpole, David Hume, the poet Gray, and Mrs. Damer the sculptress, who carved the keystones of Henley Bridge. (fn. 68) The grounds were laid out by Conway according to the taste of the period. At the upper end of the Happy Valley in the park was placed a Grecian ruin built of stones brought from Reading Abbey, and stones frome the same place were used to build and stones from the same place were used to build the bridge over the valley which carried the road from Henley to Wargrave. On a hill beyond the pleasure grounds was a Druidic temple presented to Conway by the inhabitants of Jersey (where it was found near St. Helier in 1785), when he was governor of that island. (fn. 69) After Conway's death in 1795 the house was sold by his widow, Lady Aylesbury, to James first Lord Malmesbury, who was visited there by Pitt, Canning, and many others. (fn. 70) In 1816 it was purchased by Mr. H.P. Spurling, who exchanged it in 1824 with his cousin, Mr. E. Fuller-Maitland, of Shinfield Park, for Norbury Park, co. Surrey. Maitland died in 1858. His son Mr. William FullerMaitland of Stansted Hall, Essex, sold it in 1867 to Mr. Charles Easton of Whiteknights, who pulled down the library and altered the house. He also built the house called Temple Combe. The estate passed in 1870 to Mr. J. Noble, (fn. 71) who built the present house. His son Mr. Wilson Noble is now the owner.
In 1602 William and Dorothy Becke held a fullingmill and three corn-mills in Remenham. (fn. 72)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS consists of an apsidal chancel measuring internally about 17 ft. 9 in. by 14 ft. 4 in., a nave 33 ft. 11 in. by 19 ft. 2 in., a west tower 11 ft. 6 in. by 8 ft. 11 in., a modern choir and priest's vestries on the north side of the chancel, an organ chamber on the south, and a modern south aisle and porch.
The date of the structure is uncertain, the restorations of the 19th century having removed all distinctive detail. The easternmost window in the north wall of the nave, which is the only one which has escaped almost untouched by the 'restorers,' dates from about 1320, but from the plan of the nave and chancel and the position of the windows of the apse it is more likely that the building itself was erected in the preceding, or even the 12th, century, though the present tower was not built until late in the 15th century. In 1870 the drastic restoration took place which has completely modernized the building, and to this date belongs the south aisle. The sacristry and vestry were added in 1892, and the organ was removed to its present position a year or two afterwards, the chamber it now occupies having formerly been the family pew of the Noble family. The walls of the church are faced with flint with stone dressings and on the inside are plastered with a hard cement.
In the wall of the apse, lighting the chancel, are three trefoiled lights, having widely splayed inner jambs and two-centered segmental rear arches with hollow-chamfered angles. The central light is entirely modern, and takes the place of a larger window, but, though all the stonework of the other two is modern, the opening are possibly of the 13th century. Between the central and the southern window is a piscina, and in a corresponding position in the wall opposite is an aumbry. These were discovered during the restoration, and were then restored with chalk taken from other parts of the building, with the result that the aumbry might now be taken for modern work. The piscina has a pointed head, and angle shafts to the jambs with moulded capitals and bases; the basin is circular, but has been entirely renewed. That the unusual position is not due to a removal is proved by the fact that the drain is still connected. Pointed arches, with their inner orders carried on corbels, open into the vestry and organ chamber respectively. The modern chancel arch is treated in a similar manner.
In the north wall of the nave are three two-light windows. The easternmost, though restored, is of early 14th-century date, and of two trefoiled ogee lights with flowing tracery under a pointed head. The other two windows, which are modern, are designed in the same style. The south arcade is of three bays with pointed arches carried on circular pillars. The south aisle is lighted by coupled trefoiled lights, and at the west end of the south wall is the principal doorway.
The tower, which is of the late 15th century, is divided externally into two stages by a deep stringcourse and has an embattled parapet. At the angles are embattled octagonal buttresses of diapered stone and flint-work. The tower arch is modern, and in the west wall, the lower stage of which has been thickened on the outside, is a modern three-light window. The bell-chamber is lighted from the north, south, and west by single trefoiled lights, one in each wall; they appear to be modern.
In a slate slab on the north wall of the tower is set a brass inscription to Thomas Maryet (Marriott), who died 22 December 1591, with the figure of a man in armour; the head is broken off. Over the figure is his barry shield with a molet for difference, while on the helm is his crest of a talbot. Set in a slab on the opposite wall of the tower is a brass inscribed in elegiacs to John Newman, 'hujus ecclesiae quondam pastor,' who died 29 June 1622, aged seventy. Above is his brass effigy in robes and gown.
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms and burials 1697 to 1776, marriages 1697 to 1756 (there are ten entries for the year 1763); (ii) baptisms and burials 1777 to 1789; (iii) baptisms and burials 1789 to 1812; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1813.
The advowson of Remenham (fn. 73) is found in 1216 in the king's hands, with the lands of Thurstan de Montfort. (fn. 74) It followed the descent of the manor until 1678. (fn. 75) In 1684 Edward Smith presented to the church. (fn. 76) In 1689 it was void by simony, and the Crown presented. (fn. 77) Before 1709 the gift of the living had been purchased by Jesus College, Oxford, (fn. 78) with whom it has since remained. (fn. 79)
In 1777, as appeared from the Parliamentary returns of 1786, Sambroke Freeman and freeholders by deed gave to the poor £2 a year, which is received from Mr. Wilson Noble, the present owner of Park Place.
In 1802 the Rev. John Tickel, by will proved at London 8 September, bequeathed for the poor £100, subject to the life interest of his wife, who died in 1815. The legacy, with accumulations, is now represented by £160 consols.
In 1829 Miss Elizabeth Batting by her will bequeathed £200, the interest to be distributed in bread; the legacy, less duty, was invested in £180 consols. The income of these charities, amounting together to £10 10s. a year, is applied in a weekly allowance of bread for five widows and the residue in the distribution of tickets for meat, coals and groceries to about twenty poor persons.
In 1895 Julia Stapleton by her will, proved at London 15 February, left £100 for the benefit of the poor; the legacy was invested in £91 os. 2d. India 3 per cent. stock, producing £2 14s. 4d. yearly, which is applied in weekly payments to two aged widows.
The Church Land charity now consists of £ 155 2s. 10d. consols, arising from the sale in 1878 of 3 r. 1p. allotted under the Remenham Inclosure Act, the annual dividends of which, amounting to £3 17s. 8d., are, under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, carried to the general church account.