A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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The parish of Padworth lies to the north-east of Aldermaston, between Padworth Gully, which forms the greater part of its western border, and Ufton Park. It contains about 1,188 acres, of which 250 are arable land, 633 permanent grass and 132 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The eastern boundary of the parish runs along May's Lane and through Ufton Park, crossing Shooters Brook Lane a little to the west of Ufton Court. The River Kennet forms part of the northern boundary.
The village is widely scattered, but the principal settlement is a small group of buildings near Aldermaston station. The church lies in a churchyard bounded by a laurel hedge, with a modern lych-gate to the south. A fine yew stands on the south side, and there are many large trees close by. Near the church, standing in a well-wooded park which overlooks the surrounding country, is Padworth. House, the residence of Major Christopher Darby-Griffith. It is a plain plastered building mainly of about 1769, and contains some fine Adam work. Among the family portraits are two by Gainsborough of Sir William St. Quintin and Mrs. Catherine Griffith. Near Padworth Common is a farm-house, partly of old brick and half-timber and partly of more modern brick. This probably contains the oldest domestic work remaining in the parish. Close by is a small earthwork.
'A fishery in the Kenette' was among the appurtenances of the manor in 1586, (fn. 2) and a fishery is mentioned as early as 1378. (fn. 3) There is a fish-pond close to the house. The whole parish is very well watered, and the north-eastern part, between the river and the Kennet and Avon Canal, lies very low and is liable to floods. The soil is gravel, the subsoil clay. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats and roots. The nearest railway station is at Aldermaston.
An Inclosure Act for Padworth was passed in 1811. (fn. 6)
The earliest mention of PADWORTH occurs in 956, when 5 cassates of land there were granted by King Edwy to his man Eadric. (fn. 7) It is possible that this estate afterwards became the larger manor of Padworth, which was held by three thegns in parage in the reign of Edward the Confessor, and was in 1086 the property of Stephen son of Eirard. (fn. 8) The manor was held of the king in chief by serjeanty, (fn. 9) the overlordship of the Crown being last mentioned in 1571. (fn. 10) In 1164 the tenant was Miles de Padworth. (fn. 11) His successor Robert, who was perhaps his son, seems to have taken part in the revolt of 1173, for his land was in the king's hands two years later. (fn. 12) Whether this Robert de Padworth can be identified with the Robert de Coudray who died early in the reign of Henry III is uncertain, but about 1240 Fulk de Coudray was holding Padworth (fn. 13) by the serjeanty of finding one man to hold a rope in the queen's ship when she crossed the sea between England and Normandy. (fn. 14) He gave the manor, together with that of Sherborne Coudray (co. Hants), to Maud de Herriard (fn. 15) and Nicholas Sifrewast her son for their lives, in exchange for the manor of Herriard, which Maud had granted to him and his heirs for ever. (fn. 16)
Fulk died in 1251, leaving as his heir his son Peter, whose wardship and marriage were sold by the king to Ralph the son of Nicholas for 300 marks. (fn. 17) Peter's marriage with Agnes the daughter and coheir of Aimery de Sacy had, however, already been arranged, and in 1252 the king agreed that it should take place, 'as he had granted to Fulk in his lifetime.' (fn. 18) Peter de Coudray was afterwards knighted. (fn. 19) He was still living in 1297, in which year he granted three manors, of which Padworth was one, to his eldest son Thomas at an annual rent of £100. (fn. 20) Thomas succeeded his father before 1305, in which year he demised certain of his lands in Oxfordshire to his mother Agnes, while retaining the manor of Padworth for himself. (fn. 21) He was afterwards knighted, (fn. 22) and in 1342 obtained licence to settle this manor on himself and Joan his wife with remainder to his right heirs. (fn. 23) He died in May 1349, (fn. 24) and his widow only a month later, (fn. 25) possibly of the Black Death, which made fearful ravages in the neighbourhood; it is noted in the inquisition taken after his death that the pleas and profits of the manor court were worth nothing that year 'because all the men are dead.' (fn. 26)
Fulk died before 1378 (fn. 29); his wife Joan survived him, and held the manor for her life, the reversion being in the hands of William Mulsho, (fn. 30) kinsman and heir of one of the feoffees of 1368. (fn. 31) This William Mulsho in 1379 sold the reversion 'by command of the king' to William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, (fn. 32) who was in possession of the manor in 1401. (fn. 33) In 1402, however, Edward Coudray, a cousin of Fulk, (fn. 34) obtained, on payment of 100s., licence for Wykeham to enfeoff him and his heirs of the manor of Padworth. (fn. 35) He seems to have been succeeded by his son Thomas, who died childless, the estate passing to his brother Peter. (fn. 36) Edward the son of this Peter died in 1464 seised of the manor, which passed to his son another Peter, (fn. 37) on whose death in 1528 it was divided among his three daughters and co-heirs, Joan, Elizabeth and Margery. (fn. 38)
Elizabeth afterwards married Richard Paulet. In 1540 she and her husband obtained licence to alienate half her share to her sister Joan, the wife of Peter Kydwelly, (fn. 39) and in 1542 they released the remainder to her other sister Margery and her husband William Rythe. (fn. 40) Joan settled her moiety of the manor in 1559, after her husband's death, on herself for life with reversion to William Kydwelly, her son, and his heirs. (fn. 41) She died in 1562, (fn. 42) and William had livery of a moiety of the manor ten years later (fn. 43); he died in 1575 seised of this moiety, leaving as his heirs his sisters Mary and Elizabeth, the wives of Jerome Stanshawe and William Davison respectively. (fn. 44) Later in the same year William and Elizabeth had licence to alienate a fourth of the manor to George Littlefield. (fn. 45) In 1586 Jerome Stanshawe and Mary his wife and Richard Pershowse and Elizabeth his wife, possibly their daughter, obtained licence to alienate their fourth of the manor of Padworth to George Littlefield and his heirs. (fn. 46)
George Littlefield settled the estate in 1589 on himself and Alice his wife, with successive remainders to his sons John, James and William and their heirs male. (fn. 47) He died in 1603, leaving as his heir his grandson George, the son of John Littlefield, then eleven years old. (fn. 48) The sons of this George, Adam and John Littlefield, dealt with his property in Padworth by fine in 1655. (fn. 49)
The other moiety of the manor had been in the hands of Margery, the youngest daughter of Peter Kydwelly and wife of William Rythe. (fn. 50) In 1586 she and her daughter Elizabeth, who was then the widow of Nicholas Tichborne, obtained licence to alienate a moiety of Padworth Manor to Martin Tichborne. (fn. 51) Martin died in 1626, his heir being his brother Sir Benjamin Tichborne, bart., (fn. 52) who sold the estate in 1629, (fn. 53) with the consent of his son Richard, to Sir Humphery Forster, bart. (fn. 54) It continued in the possession of the Forsters as late as 1681, (fn. 55) but its descent after this date is obscure; possibly it was bought by one of the Brightwells, who were apparently regarded as lords of the whole manor in the 18th century.
Adam and John Littlefield sold their share of the manor in 1655 to Thomas Brightwell, (fn. 56) who seems to have settled it three years later on his great-nephew Samuel, the son of his nephew John Brightwell. (fn. 57) Samuel Brightwell's son Loftus died in 1738, leaving four daughters, Mary who married Christopher Griffith, Anne who married Richard Chicheley, and Susannah and Elizabeth who remained unmarried (fn. 58); in 1738 three-fourths of the manor were settled on Mary's son Christopher, who married his cousin Anne Chicheley, (fn. 59) thus obtaining the whole. Christopher Griffith the younger married secondly Catherine St. Quintin; he died childless in 1767, and the estate went after the death of his widow to her nephew Matthew Chitty Darby, afterwards of the Grenadier Guards, who assumed the name of Griffith on his succession. General Darby-Griffith served with distinction in the Peninsular War and was severely wounded at Corunna, but lived until 1823. (fn. 60) He was succeeded by his son Mr. Christopher DarbyGriffith, (fn. 61) M.P. for Devizes 1857–68, whose son Major Christopher William Darby-Griffith is the present lord of the manor.
There was a second manor at Padworth assessed at 2½ hides, which was held of William de Ow by Gozelin at the time of the Domesday Survey, and had been held by Ælfstan of King Edward. (fn. 62) The overlordship afterwards belonged to the Earls Marshal, (fn. 63) and apparently passed by the marriage of Isabel daughter and heir of William Marshal with Gilbert de Clare to the Earls of Gloucester. (fn. 64) After the death of the last Gilbert de Clare in 1314 (fn. 65) Padworth formed part of the portion of Margaret wife of Hugh Audley, one of his sisters and co-heirs. Her daughter and heir, another Margaret, married Ralf Earl of Stafford, (fn. 66) and the overlordship continued in the possession of their descendants at least as late as 1460, when the last mention of it occurs. (fn. 67)
A mesne lordship was held in the early part of the reign of Henry III (fn. 68) by Ralf de Camoys, (fn. 69) the tenant of North Denchworth. (fn. 70) Ralf's son and namesake, who succeeded him, granted Denchworth to Adam Fettiplace about 1263, (fn. 71) and Philip Fettiplace, Adam's heir, obtained a quitclaim of both manors from John de Camoys in 1291. (fn. 72) In 1300 Philip Fettiplace settled the manor of North Denchworth with its appurtenances on himself for life with remainder to his sons Henry and Aimery and the heirs of Aimery. (fn. 73) Among these appurtenances the mesne lordship of Padworth seems to have been included, for it continued to follow the descent of North Denchworth (q.v.) at least as late as 1460, (fn. 74) when it was in the hands of the heirs of Aimery Fettiplace. (fn. 75)
In the 13th century the manor was held of Ralf de Camoys the elder by John de la Husee, from whose family it received its distinguishing name. (fn. 76) He seems to have been succeeded by Piers de la Husee who married Agatha daughter and co-heir of William Banister of Finchampstead. No mention of Padworth occurs in the inquisition taken on the death of Piers, but probably this was because it was not held in chief of the king, for the manor afterwards passed with Finchampstead (q.v.) to the families of Colle and Perkyns, (fn. 77) and has since followed the descent of Ufton Court (q.v. in Ufton). Mr. James Herbert Benyon of Englefield is the owner at the present day.
Certain lands in Padworth were held, towards the close of the 14th century, as parcel of the manor of Ufton Pole, by Sir Thomas Ipre, who granted them in 1396 to John Lord Lovel and Holand and his heirs. (fn. 78) Lord Lovel died in 1408 seised of this property, which was then held of Constance Paynell, lady of Ufton Robert. (fn. 79) His heir was his son John Lord Lovel, whose son William Lord Lovel died in 1455, (fn. 80) leaving the land to his son another John. (fn. 81) Francis, the son and heir of this John, was attainted in 1485, on account of his support of Richard III, and died childless two years later. (fn. 82) Ufton Pole (q.v.) was granted to Richard Weston in 1510, and these lands were probably included in the manor, which later came into the same hands as Ufton Robert.
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were two mills belonging to the larger manor of Padworth, (fn. 83) which was afterwards called Coudrays. (fn. 84) They seem to have followed throughout the same descent as that manor. Two water corn-mills were mentioned among the appurtenances as late as 1828, (fn. 85) but there is now only one mill in Padworth. A moiety of a third mill belonged in 1086 to the same manor, (fn. 86) another moiety being one of the appurtenances of the manor belonging to William de Ow. (fn. 87)
The church dates entirely from c. 1130, and with the exception of the windows and the roof of the nave has undergone little alteration since. Most of the later windows inserted appear to be of the 16th century. Some of the stonework of the fabric has been renewed, a restoration having been undertaken in 1890, about which time the porch and vestry were added.
The east window is a modern restoration of a round-headed 12th-century light, the stonework of which was found in the wall. The south-east window (in the apse) is of two restored round-headed lights, which may be of 16th-century date. It was opened up in 1890. Below the east jamb of this window is a small piscina recess with a semicircular head and a wooden shelf. The basin is modern, but the front of the sill is made up of a piece of 12th-century round string-course, which was found in the walling close by. On the north side of the apse is a plain aumbry. To the west of the entrance to the apse or sanctuary the walls are thinned on both sides by some 6 in. or 7 in., the thicker wall being required probably for the support of the quarter-spherical roof or vault, which has a plain plastered soffit. The two side windows of the western bay are modern insertions and are each of two round-headed lights. Below that on the south side can be seen the angle of the sill and west jamb of an earlier low-side window, probably of the 15th century. The roof over this western portion is a semicircular vault. The chancel arch, which is of the original date of the building, is of two orders towards the nave; the inner has engaged half-round shafts with mutilated bases and carved capitals with leaf ornament; the outer order has attached three-quarter shafts with moulded bases and carved capitals. The abaci are hollow chamfered. The arch is round, but has sunk a little; the inner order is moulded with a three-quarter round and the outer with a hollow and edge roll.
The north and south windows of the nave are each of three lights with plain four-centred heads, and are evidently 16th-century insertions. The north and south doorways both belong to the 12th century and are almost exactly similar in detail. The south doorway has jambs of two orders, with angle shafts having moulded bases and carved leaf capitals; the arch is round, and the inner order is moulded with shallow hollows upon its face and a kind of squarecut bowtel on its edge; the outer has a hollow on its face and a three-quarter edge roll, which is enriched with cheveron ornament, the cheverons pointing to the crown of the arch on both sides. The label is hollow-chamfered and enriched with carving of a honeysuckle pattern. The north doorway differs only from the other in having a plain label. The west window is a round-headed single light, renewed outside, but with old inner stonework. The whole of the outside face of the walling is coated with rough-cast cement.
The roof of the nave has round trusses with plaster filling between the rafters. The timbers appear to be old, as do also the moulded cornices or wall-plates. There was at one time a flat ceiling, the line of which can be seen on the east wall above the chancel arch. Over this is a round-headed opening which gave access to the space above. Externally the roofs are tiled.
The bell-turret stands on a heavy framework rising from the floor of the nave at the west end. It is covered with oak shingles, and the bell-chamber is lighted by modern pointed lights and crowned by a tiled pyramidal roof. The porch and the vestry next to it are of half-timber work.
There are several remains of ancient paintings on the plastered walls. In the sanctuary are two consecration crosses, one in the centre of the apse (below the east window) and one on the north side; the one corresponding in position with the latter, on the south side, is missing. In the nave are four consecration crosses, two on either side wall; the north-west one is hidden by the woodwork supporting the tower. On the east wall of the nave, south of the chancel arch, is painted a large figure of a bishop, with a smaller painting below of St. Nicholas restoring the three students to life. The upper figure is probably also intended to represent St. Nicholas. Adjacent to this, on the south side, is painted a small recumbent figure, but in the absence of the rest of the subject it is not certain whom it is intended to represent. Remains of a piscina were discovered in the wall near here at the restoration of the church. In the chancel are a few old defaced tiles, probably of the 14th or 15th century.
The altar has an old slab, but the five crosses are not visible. The altar rails are of the 17th century. The font and seats are all modern, and there is no pulpit. The former font was of 12th-century date, round on plan; it is thought to be buried somewhere within the churchyard. A drawing of it is preserved in the British Museum. The former altar table, which dates from the 18th century, now stands in the vestry. In the vestry also is a piece of the top rail of a 15th-century rood screen with mortises above (perhaps for the rood) and below for the posts. There are also some fragments of worked stone, including a piece of a 15th-century window-head.
The earliest monuments are ledger-stones in the chancel to Samuel Brightwell, son and heir of Thomas Brightwell, who died in 1679, and to Anna, his eldest daughter, who died in 1684. The more important of the remaining monuments commemorate later members of the same family and of the Chicheley, Griffith and St. Quintin families.
There are six bells, all recast by Mears & Stainbank in 1890. These replace a ring of five, the first of which was dated 1654 and the second 1660; the third was a pre-Reformation bell inscribed 'Sancta Maria ora pro nobis'; the fourth was by James Wells, 1816, and the tenor by Henry Knight, 1597.
The first book of the registers contains baptisms and burials from 1724 to 1783 and marriages to 1754 (there are a few entries of burials and baptisms from 1693 to 1705 on loose sheets); the second book has baptisms from 1763 and burials from 1783, both to 1812; and a transcript contains baptisms and burials from 1783 to 1812.
There was a church in Padworth in 1291, which was then valued at £4 6s. 8d. yearly, and provided a pension for the Prior of Monk Sherborne (co. Hants), to which alien priory the advowson belonged. (fn. 88) The patronage was taken into the king's hands during the French wars. (fn. 89) After the dissolution of the monastery it continued to belong to the Crown until the 19th century. (fn. 90) The present patron is the Lord Chancellor. (fn. 91)
In 1581 Dame Elizabeth Marvin gave, according to the table of benefactions, 10 bushels of wheat, to be made into bread, 12½ ells of canvas for shirts and smocks and 12½ yards of narrow blue cloth for coats and cassocks, to be annually distributed about the middle of Lent. The owner of the Ufton estate fixed the present equivalent of these articles to be 164 loaves, 14 yards of woollen cloth and 19 yards of linen, which are distributed among the poor on the Friday after the fourth Sunday in Lent.
In 1750 Elizabeth Brightwell is stated to have given by deed £200 Old South Sea Annuities for educating poor children. The gift, with accumulations, is now represented by £335 consols with the official trustees, producing £8 7s. 4d. a year, which is applied for educational purposes.
The official trustees also hold a sum of £107 4s. 9d. consols, representing gifts for the use of the poor by members of the Brightwell family, the income of which, amounting to £2 13s. 4d., is distributed with that of the next mentioned charity.
By an award dated 28 May 1814 (fn. 92) two allotments, containing together 2 a. 2 r. 19 p., were made to 'the trustees of Padworth poor' in respect of rights of common. The land is let at £7 a year, which is applied, with the income of the preceding charity, in the distribution of coal.