A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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The greater part of the parish of Stanford Dingley lies on the north side of the valley of the Pang, but a small portion is on the other side of the stream. The village is situated near the ford and not far from the south-east corner of the parish. The church stands to the north of the village, the houses of which run south and west in the form of an L. The vicarage is a fine early Georgian house of red brick, and the principal entrance is distinguished by a wooden door-case of the Ionic order. The house now known as 'the Garden House' is a good example of a slightly later date.
The ground rises from a height of 190 ft. above the ordnance datum, where the Pang leaves the parish, to 384 ft. on the eastern boundary. The parish contains 963 acres, of which 573 are arable, 218 permanent grass and 107 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The chief crops are wheat, barley and oats. The soil is principally sand and clay, the latter predominating, though there is some chalky land near the bottom of the valley. There is no railway or canal in the parish, but the road from Hampstead Norris to Pangbourne crosses the lane from Beenham to Burnt Hill a little north of the village and both traverse the parish. The population is purely agricultural.
In the time of King Edward the Confessor the manor was held of him in alod by Edric, but in 1086 it was held by William son of Ansculf. (fn. 2) As was the case in the adjoining manor of Yattendon, the overlordship of Stanford seems to have passed to William's daughter Beatrice, the wife of Fulk Paynel, to their son Ralph, and his son Gervaise, and then to the latter's sister Avice, who married John de Somery. (fn. 3) Their son Roger was overlord in the 13th century (fn. 4) and died in 1273. The overlordship of this manor (fn. 5) (which owed suit at the court of the manor of Bradfield) descended to his son Roger, who is mentioned as holding it in 1285–6 (fn. 6) and died seised of it in 1290. (fn. 7) In 1292 his rights as overlord were assigned in dower to his widow Agnes, (fn. 8) but in 1314 were held by his son John, (fn. 9) who died seised of the overlordship of Stanford in 1322, when his heirs were his sisters Margaret wife of Sir John Sutton and Joan widow of Thomas Botetourt. (fn. 10) The following year it was granted in dower to Lucy the widow of John de Somery, with remainder to Sir John Sutton and his wife Margaret. (fn. 11) In due course it was inherited by their son Sir John Sutton, who with his wife Isabel sold it in 1340 to Sir Nicholas de la Beche. (fn. 12) From that date it followed the descent of the manor of Aldworth (q.v.) till 1494, when Sir John Langford (fn. 13) held it, after which no further mention has been found of the overlordship.
Gilbert held the manor of William at the time of the Domesday Survey (fn. 14) and in 1224–5 William de Stanford was holding land here. (fn. 15) His son Peter de Stanford held a fee here, (fn. 16) and died without issue in 1252, (fn. 17) when the manor passed to his brother Oliver, who died also without issue in 1260, when his heirs were his sisters Isabel and Amicia, both of full age. (fn. 18)
It seems possible that these two sisters married Reginald son of Peter and Oliver de Punchardon, whom we find in possession of the fee in 1273, (fn. 19) and the same year Reginald disposed of some land here to Isabel de Stanford. (fn. 20) Reginald is returned in 1275–6 as having free warren here, (fn. 21) and in 1281–2 he purchased the advowson of Oliver de Punchardon. (fn. 22) Reginald died in 1286 seised of the fee, his heir being his son John, then aged thirty. (fn. 23) Two-thirds of the manor was allotted in dower to his widow Joan, who retained it until her death. (fn. 24) In 1290 (fn. 25) and 1291–2 (fn. 26) the fee was held by Sir John son of Reginald and Oliver Punchardon, and in 1314, on the death of Joan de Vivonia, the widow of Reginald, it is stated that her son John was dead and had before his death granted the manor to his son Herbert, who was more than thirty years of age at the time of his grandmother's death. (fn. 27) In 1315–16 this Herbert held the manor with Oliver Punchardon, (fn. 28) and in 1316 Herbert settled two-thirds of the manor on himself and his wife Eleanor. (fn. 29) In 1322 both Herbert and Oliver were dead, for the manor was then held, two thirds by Reginald son of Herbert and one third by Robert Punchardon, (fn. 30) and the same arrangement is found the following year. (fn. 31) Robert settled his share of the manor on himself and his wife Agnes, (fn. 32) and died in 1324–5 seised of it. (fn. 33) His heir was his brother Oliver, but Reginald son of Herbert died in 1348 seised of the whole manor, two thirds of which he had received from his father and the remaining third, which formerly belonged to Robert Punchardon, he held jointly with his wife Julian, (fn. 34) who may possibly have been eventually Robert Punchardon's heir.
The manor passed to Reginald's daughters Margaret and Elizabeth, who were then both under age, but a few years later an inquiry was held owing to the abstraction of some deeds relating to the manor. From this it appeared that Herbert son of John had granted the manor to his younger son Reginald, and that later Matthew, the elder brother, quitclaimed to him all his right as eldest son and heir. After Reginald's death Julia his widow was induced to give up this conveyance, and John de Tidmarsh, who afterwards married Julia, gave all the remaining charters and deeds, eighty-five in number, to Sir William de Burton, who was acting as guardian to Reginald's heirs. Edmund de la Beche, the overlord, was ordered to produce the deed of quitclaim under a penalty of £100, and the deed was soon after sent by Edmund, who was then too infirm to bring it, and was duly enrolled in Chancery and then handed over to Sir William de Burton. (fn. 35)
For a time the history of the manor is obscure, but by 1405 it had come into the hands of Thomas Foxcote, who that year conveyed it to William Stokes, Robert Taillour and John Erle, (fn. 36) apparently as trustees for a settlement, for in 1407 they reconveyed the manor again to Thomas Foxcote and Christina his wife, with remainder to John son of William Stokes (fn. 37); William Stokes died seised of it in 1427. (fn. 38) The following year Robert Dingley is mentioned as holding a fee here. (fn. 39)
This Robert Dingley seems to have been a son of William Dingley, whose widow Margaret lies buried in Stanford Church (fn. 40); he conveyed the manor in 1458–9 to Edward Hampden and others, apparently trustees, and was succeeded by his son Edward. Edward's widow, Sanchea, married as her second husband Peter Carvanell, and died in 1493–4, when the manor passed to her son Thomas, then aged fifteen or more. (fn. 41) Thomas died in 1502, leaving the manor to his widow Philippa to hold for life, with remainder to any issue there might be of their marriage. (fn. 42)
A daughter Elizabeth was born some months later, who in due course was married to George Barrett, and in 1524 they conveyed the manor in trust to Sir Andrew Windsor and others. (fn. 43) Their son Edward Barrett was holding the manor in 1572, (fn. 44) and died in 1586 seised of the manor and advowson. He had married in 1570 his second wife Elizabeth, and had apparently soon after settled the manor on his two daughters by her, Elizabeth and Ann, with remainder to Edward and Walter, sons of Charles, his son by his first wife. Charles had married Christian daughter of Sir Walter Mildmay and had died in 1584. (fn. 45) It would seem that Elizabeth and Ann died without issue, for in 1610 Sir Edward Barrett was holding the manor, (fn. 46) and in 1625 he conveyed it to Christine Leveson, widow, Richard Leveson, esq., and two others, apparently in trust, (fn. 47) for he was still holding it in 1641, when he had been raised to the peerage under the title of Lord Barrett of Newburgh, co. Fife. (fn. 48) He died without issue at the end of 1643, and in 1653 Catherine his widow with her two trustees sold the manor to George Browne and Thomas Foley, apparently in trust for the latter. (fn. 49)
In 1668 Thomas Foley and Anne his wife, who was a daughter of John Browne, and Paul Foley their son, conveyed the manor to John Lane, senior, and John Lane, junior, in trust, on the occasion of Paul's marriage with Mary daughter of John Lane. (fn. 50) Paul was holding the manor in 1683, (fn. 51) and in 1694 he and Mary his wife and Thomas their son conveyed it to Sir Thomas Lane and Humphrey Hethrington, apparently again in trust. (fn. 52) Thomas Foley married Ann daughter and heir of Essex Knightley of Fawsley, and died in 1737, leaving a son Thomas, who died in 1749.
It would appear that Thomas Foley the younger or his father must have sold the manor to John Hilsdon, though no record of this sale has been found, and John again sold it to a Mr. Barker, whose daughter held it in 1759. (fn. 53) In 1773 the manor was held by Thomas Cornish, (fn. 54) who may perhaps have married Mr. Barker's daughter, and in 1806 we find it in the hands of Mrs. Cornish. (fn. 55)
Mrs. Sarah Cornish died before 1820, in which year the devisees under her will sold the manor to the Rev. Winchcombe Henry Howard Hartley, who died in 1881, leaving no issue. The manor then passed to his four nieces, daughters of his only sister Elizabeth Ann Hartley. She had married Count Demetrius de Palatiano of Corfu, a member of the Greek diplomatic service, and had by him five children. Of these the only son, Count H. L. H. de Palatiano, died in 1880, just before his uncle, and so the manor passed to his four sisters. In 1907 this manor and the other estates which had belonged to Mr. Hartley were divided among the co-heirs, the manor of Stanford Dingley falling to the share of Olivia, Mrs. White, who is the present possessor. (fn. 56)
There was a house called Rushdens in this parish in the 16th and 17th centuries which belonged to John Lyford, citizen and merchant tailor of London, who was knighted before 1608–9 and died here in 1610, when a brass was set up in the church to his memory. In 1563 he had a grant of the manor of Peasemore (q.v.), which remained for many generations in the hands of his descendants. John's son Richard died here on 16 May 1640, and a descendant of his, also Richard Lyford, who was born at Rushdens in 1651, was High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1716 and died during his year of office. The estate passed in due course to a Mr. Grainger, an attorney, who lived at Worting near Basingstoke, and who had married the Lyford heiress, but nothing now remains of the house but a barn which still retains the name. (fn. 57)
The Domesday Survey makes mention of a mill, (fn. 58) but it is not referred to again until 1324, when Robert de Punchardon died seised of a third of the watermill (fn. 59); in 1348 Reginald son of Herbert died seised of this third of a mill and of the remaining two thirds. (fn. 60) A water-mill is again mentioned in 1602 (fn. 61) and 1683. (fn. 62)
The church of ST. DENIS consists of a chancel about 19 ft. 6 in. by 11 ft. 11 in., nave 39 ft. 2 in. by 12 ft. 1 in. at the east end and 15 ft. at the west end, north aisle 32 ft. 3 in. by 7 ft. 2 in. at the east end and 5 ft. 2 in. at the west end, a south aisle about 21 ft. 4 in. by 8 ft. 8 in., a wooden bell-turret at the west end of the nave, and a modern south porch. These measurements are all internal.
The present building appears to be an enlargement of a small pre-Conquest church without aisles or structural chancel, the north and south walls of which may still exist in the narrower eastern portion of the nave, though pierced by later arches. In the first half of the 12th century the nave was extended westward on wider lines, the original building being probably reserved solely as a chancel; the walls of this extension measure about 3 ft. 3 in. in thickness, while those of the earlier portion of the nave measure only about 2 ft. 3 in. At the end of the same century a new chancel was built to the east of the former chancel, and the north aisle was added to the nave, followed a few years subsequently by the south aisle. No further alterations appear to have been made to the fabric till the latter part of the 14th century, when the timber bell-turret at the west end of the nave was constructed and a new west doorway with a window above it was inserted. The chancel was rebuilt of brick in the 18th century and the whole church was restored in the year 1885.
The east window of the chancel has an elliptical head clumsily set out, while the windows in the north and south walls have semicircular heads. The chancel arch is of original late 12th-century date. It is twocentred with roll-moulded angles and springs from chamfered abaci. The angles of the responds are also roll-moulded with the exception of the western angle of the north respond, in the face of which some mediaeval encaustic bricks have been inserted.
The north arcade of the nave consists of three independent openings. The eastern, which is also the smallest, bay has a chamfered segmental arch of a single order. The east respond is flush with the east wall of the aisle on its north side, but projects slightly on the south. The west respond has shafted angles with modern cushion capitals, probably faithful restorations. The abaci to both responds are plain chamfered. The centre arch is of a single two-centred order with roll-moulded angles, and has shafted responds with grooved and chamfered abaci, and a chamfered label on the nave side. The shafts have cushion capitals and moulded bases. The westernmost arch of the arcade is in the widened portion of the nave, and there is a break back of 1 ft. 4 in. in the wall between it and the central arch, with which it is contemporary. It is two-centred and of a single order with a chamfered label on the nave side, the angles of the arch having a roll mould within a hollow. The responds are plain and have grooved and chamfered abaci. In the west wall is a blocked 14th-century doorway, above which is a window of two trefoiled lights with pierced and foliated spandrels, a segmental rear-arch and a square external head. The south arcade is of two independent arches. The eastern arch is semicircular and was probably pierced at the same period as the north arcade, though the work does not appear to have been completed until a few years afterwards, the western arch, which, like the corresponding arch of the north arcade, is two-centred, having a marked 13th-century character. The pier between both arches was evidently rebuilt at the later date; it has shafted angles and a continuous abacus, the angle shafts having foliated capitals. All the detail is modern, though probably faithfully restored, as the pier was almost entirely renewed in 1885. The west respond, which has detail of the same type, is original. The south aisle does not extend further than this arch, and in the south wall of the western portion of the nave is a modern coupled lancet window, between which and the western arch of the arcade is a break corresponding in depth to that in the north wall, but about 2 ft. further westward, at the lower part of the wall, the break setting back above about the same distance, while the break in the north wall overhangs to a corresponding extent; these breaks probably mark the position of the original west wall. The walls are faced externally with flint.
In the east wall of the north aisle is a small late 12th-century lancet window with a semicircular reararch. The north-eastern window, which though much restored is probably of the early 13th century, is of two trefoiled lights with soffit cusping. There is no rear-arch, the head being formed internally by a wood lintel placed immediately below the wall-plate of the roof. West of this are two trefoiled lancets, the westernmost apparently modern. In the west wall is a plain original lancet. Between the windows and at the east and west ends of the aisle are modern buttresses.
The east window of the south aisle is of an uncommon type and is formed by a quatrefoiled ellipse splayed to a circle internally. The south doorway is of two orders externally; the inner order has a trefoiled head with a circular ornament introduced at the apex and roll-moulded external angles. The two-centred and elaborately moulded outer order has jamb shafts with foliated capitals. The three-light window east of the doorway and the lancet in the west wall are modern.
The west tower or bell-turret is of timber on four uprights standing within the wider western portion of the nave. It is weather-boarded externally and finished by a pyramidal slated roof. The framing is probably of the 14th century, but the weatherboarding is modern. The roof of the nave is of timber and high pitched and seems to be of about the same date as the bell-turret. The aisles have plain lean-to roofs.
Several remains of 13th-century mural decoration survive. The voussoirs of the arches of the nave arcades are painted with a masonry pattern in red and yellow and their soffits with scrolls of trefoil foliage. This appears to be in the main original, though it has been gone over and restored in modern times. On the north wall of the nave over the central arch of the arcade is a Doom. On the soffit of the western limb of the arch is painted a crowned figure of St. Edmund, king and martyr, carrying in his right hand a sceptre and in his left his heart pierced by three arrows. On the eastern limb is the head of a bishop. On the west respond of the western arch of the south arcade of the nave is a figure with hands in prayer; the upper part is now all that remains in good preservation. There is a plain tub-shaped 12thcentury font. The ironwork of the south door appears to be of original 13th-century date and includes a sanctuary ring.
In the floor of the north aisle is a brass with a rhyming Latin inscription and the effigy of Margaret Dyneley, who died on St. Romanus's Day, 1444. In the floor of the same aisle is a brass to John Lyford, citizen and merchant tailor of London, who is said in the inscription to have had eighteen children and to have died on 10 April 1610.
There are three bells inscribed as follows: (1) 'Henri Knight made this bell 1609'; (2) 'Henri Knight made me 1607'; (3) 'Te Deum Laud Amus.' This bell has the later lion's head stamp of the Wokingham foundry, and would appear to date from the end of the 15th century.
The registers previous to 1812 are in three volumes: (i) baptisms 1538 to 1756, burials 1538 to 1756, marriages 1539 to 1754; (ii) baptisms 1757 to 1812, burials 1757 to 1814; (iii) marriages 1755 to 1813.
The first reference to a church here is in 1282, when Oliver de Punchardon agreed to present alternately with Reginald son of Peter, (fn. 63) and it is stated that Sir John son of Reginald and Oliver de Punchardon were holding it of Roger de Somery, lately deceased, in 1290. (fn. 64) About the same time the value of the church is returned at £4 6s. 8d. (fn. 65) In 1340–1 the churchwardens made return that the rector held 2 virgates of land, which with the tithes were worth yearly £1 3s. 4d. (fn. 66) Reginald son of Herbert died in 1348 seised of the advowson, (fn. 67) which followed the descent of the manor. The advowson was sold with the manor in 1653 by Catherine Lady Barrett to Thomas Foley, (fn. 68) who presented in 1662, (fn. 69) and it was still attached to the manor in 1668, 1683 and 1694. (fn. 70) It appears to have been sold soon afterwards, for Thomas Walker presented in 1757 and Benjamin Walker, clerk, in 1775, 1784 and 1799. (fn. 71) In April 1800 the Rev. Benjamin Walker and Thomas Walker sold the advowson to the Rev. Dr. Valpy, who granted it in June 1812 to the Rev. Edward Valpy. He, by his will in 1832, left it to his wife Anne Valpy, from whom it passed to her daughter by a former marriage, Anne Baldock. In 1865 Miss Baldock granted the advowson to the Rev. A. B. Valpy, who in 1898 conveyed it to Mr. Herbert Watney, M.D., the present patron. (fn. 72)
Thomas Tesdale, one of the founders of Pembroke College, Oxford, was born here in 1547, and Francis Pordage, brother of John Pordage, the astrologer and mystic, was rector of Stanford Dingley in the 17th century. (fn. 73)
Annuities of 10s. for four poor people and 6s. for the clerk are paid by Sir Cameron Gull, bart., of Frilsham, as owner of Coxlands in this parish, an estate of about 30 acres, which were charged thereon by Sebastian Lyford in 1607.
An annuity of 10s. towards the reparation of the church is likewise paid by Mr. G. C. Grace as the owner of an estate of about 20 acres in this parish charged thereon by Richard Lyford by deed dated 31 August 1622.