A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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The parish of Farnborough, which lies on the Berkshire Downs, contains 1,886 acres, of which about two-thirds are arable land. (fn. 1) There are two plantations of considerable size known as Farnborough Copse and Tinker's Corner; the others, Whiteshute Row, Upper Grove, Liddiard's Green and Coombe Plantation, being quite small. The soil is clay with a subsoil of chalk, producing the usual cereal crops. The water supply is derived from wells, some of which penetrate into the chalk to a depth of over 300 ft., and from dew-ponds and clay holes. There is a disused stone quarry in the north-east of the parish.
From the highest point (720 ft.) in the centre of the parish, where the village is situated, there is a downward slope to the east (511 ft.), south and west, the lowest point in the last direction being 547 ft. above the ordnance datum.
The old pack-horse road which used to run from Hungerford through Abingdon to Oxford passed through Farnborough, and a field near the village still bears the name of Pack Acre. The road was diverted in the 18th century, but a continuation of it is to be found in East Hendred leading to the Pack Horse Inn at Steventon.
The parish was inclosed in 1777. (fn. 2)
The village of Farnborough is situated on the high ground in the middle of the parish. It consists of a few brick cottages which are of little interest. The church stands to the south of the settlement; in the churchyard, in front of the southern entrance to the church, are the base and stump of a mediaeval cross. To the north-east of the church, standing back in a large garden facing the south and commanding an extensive view over the Downs, is the rectory, a mid-17th-century house two stories high, built of red brick and roofed with tiles. It is symmetrically designed with a porch of the Doric order, though sash windows have been inserted throughout in place of the original wooden mullioned and transomed frames. The house originally belonged to the Price family and is said to have been designed by Inigo Jones, an attribution which is not improbable.
The manor of FARNBOROUGH was held at the date of the Domesday Survey by the abbey of Abingdon, (fn. 3) which had also held it under Edward the Confessor. (fn. 4) The abbey claimed to have had an estate there which had been acquired by grant from one Edric, whose title to the land had been confirmed by Elfreda, Queen of the Mercians, in 878, (fn. 5) but Kemble rejects the latter charter as of very doubtful authenticity. Alfeah, the king's 'minister,' is also said to have made a grant to the abbey of 10 cassati which he had received from King Athelstan in 931. (fn. 6) Shortly after this, however, Farnborough appears to have been lost to the abbey and was held by a certain widow Eadfled, from whom Alfred called 'Puer' took it away by force; but he, after being condemned by the Council of Cirencester, fled from the country, and Eadfled, having recovered the land, left it at her death to King Ethelred, who restored it to the abbey in 993. (fn. 7) In 1039 the grant was confirmed by Harthacnut, King of the English and the Danes. (fn. 8) It is related that Herbert, treasurer of Henry I, deprived the monastery of a hide of land, but, worn out by the importunity of the abbot, he finally restored it. (fn. 9)
The estate was evidently well timbered, as 5 acres of woodland that provided fencing are noted in the Survey, (fn. 10) and in the 11th century the abbot ordered that the tithes from Farnborough should be paid in wood for the rebuilding of the abbey. (fn. 11) In 1246 the abbot dealt with common of pasture in Farnborough. (fn. 12) The estate was enlarged by a grant from John de Elsefeld in 1302, (fn. 13) and the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1390 confirmed the tithes of certain lands which had been granted to the abbey. (fn. 14)
After the Dissolution (fn. 15) the manor was granted in 1540 to Edward Fettiplace, (fn. 16) from whom John Wardram, lessee of the site and demesne lands of the manor under the monastery, in the following year purchased a certain portion of the land. (fn. 17) In 1542 Edward Fettiplace conveyed the manor, together with the reversion of a wood called Gungrove (fn. 18) and land called Grovefeld, to John Wynchcombe of Newbury (fn. 19) (a descendant of the famous clothier Jack of Newbury), who settled it before his death in 1557 upon his second son Henry with his wife Agnes. (fn. 20) Henry died seised of it in 1562, (fn. 21) his wife Agnes, who married William Nottingham as her second husband, retaining a life interest. (fn. 22) At her death after 1575 the manor reverted to John the elder brother of Henry, Sheriff of Berkshire in 1570, who was dealing with Farnborough in 1596. (fn. 23) On his death in 1610 he was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 24) who died in 1636, (fn. 25) leaving a son, another John, as his heir. The latter died about 1669 and directed by his will that the manor should be sold for the payment of debts and legacies, and accordingly in 1671 it was sold by his widow Martha and his son John Wynchcombe to Philip Jennett, (fn. 26) who settled it in the following year upon his only child Anne wife of Sir Jonathan Raymond. (fn. 27) Anne was dealing with it in 1687 (fn. 28) and bequeathed it to her son Sir Jennett Raymond, (fn. 29) whose only surviving daughter Elizabeth (fn. 30) wife of John Craven was holding in 1768. (fn. 31) Her son Fulwar Craven sold it to the Rev. William Wroughton of Woolley Park, (fn. 32) and on his death in 1812 the manor passed to his son Bartholomew Wroughton, who died without issue in 1858. The manor passed to his brother Philip, on whose death in 1862 it came to his son Philip. He died in 1910, and his son Mr. Philip Musgrave Neeld Wroughton is the present lord of the manor.
With the exception of the 15th-century tower, the building dates from the 12th century. The porch was added comparatively recently. In 1883 and in 1885 the building was restored and reroofed. Some new windows were then inserted into the chancel walls and the chancel arch widened, an operation which necessitated the building of buttresses at the east ends of the north and south walls of the nave to take the greater thrust.
The east window of the chancel is of 15th-century date and of three trefoiled lights under a fourcentred head. At the east end of the north wall is a modern square-headed two-light window of 14thcentury design, while at the west end is a small lancet with widely splayed inner jambs and an external chamfer. It was found and reopened during the restoration, the external masonry being modern. Lighting the chancel from the east end of the south wall is a modern two-light window of the same design as the window opposite, though the inner jambs appear to be old, while at the west end of the wall can be seen the jambs of a blocked window. Below the sill of the former is a small shaft piscina, which, was found in the walling of the old chancel arch when it was widened, and is probably of early 13th-century date. To the west of the window is a small late 15th-century priest's doorway having a four-centred head with a square lintel behind it. The walls of the chancel are built of flint and are covered internally with plaster.
At the east end of the north wall of the nave is a 14th-century window of two trefoiled ogee lights under a square head, having an external hood mould and segmental rear arch. West of this are two small round-headed windows, set rather high in the wall and having widely splayed inner jambs. Both are of 12thcentury date, though the stone work has been scraped and the external jambs to the westernmost one have been entirely renewed. Between them is a 12thcentury semicircular-headed doorway, now closed up. It is of a single order with the angles of the jambs slightly rounded, while at the springing are quirked chamfered abaci, stopping a double-chamfered label. The south-east window, which is modern and of two lights, is similar to the modern windows lighting the chancel. To the west of this is a pointed doorway. At the west end of the wall is a 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights under a square head. As with the chancel, the walls of the nave are built of flint with stone dressings, but are coated both internally and externally with plaster.
The tower stands on a moulded plinth and is divided externally into three stages by moulded string-courses and surmounted by an embattled parapet. At the south-east corner is an octagonal stair turret stopping about half-way up the height of the middle stage, while at the western and the north-east angles are two-stage diagonal buttresses carried up to about the same level. The tower arch is modern and the full width of the tower. The west window is of three four-centred lights under a square head. It appears to have been inserted shortly after the tower was built. The ringing chamber is lighted from the north and west by single pointed lights, having sunk spandrels on either side of the openings, while in each wall of the bell-chamber is a window with a fourcentred head of two uncusped ogee lights, having fourleaved flowers carved in the spandrels formed between their apex and the centre mullion, which is carried up to the head of the window. The upper part of the west window of the bell-chamber is covered by a solid clock dial. On the story below the parapet are carved grotesque beasts' heads, which are used as gargoyles. The tower is built of stone.
All the roofs are modern and are covered with tiles. To the north of the east window is a mural tablet commemorating William Garnam, who died in 1669, and his wife Mary, who died in 1683. on the south side is a tablet to Bartholomew Price, who died in 1677, his wife Mary, 1686, and his son Bartholomew, 1668.
There is a ring of three bells and a 'sanctus' bell. The treble and tenor are early bells from the foundry distinguished by Mr. A. H. Cocks as the 'WokinghamReading-London Foundry,' (fn. 33) and are respectively inscribed in black letters 'Sancte Clemens or . . .' and 'Sancta Anna ora pro nobis,' while the second is by Edward Read, 1753. The 'sanctus' bears no inscription, neither does a small bell preserved in the ringing chamber.
The plate consists of two silver cups with cover patens, all inscribed 'Farmbrow, Berks 1724,' and stamped with the date letters for the years 1721 and 1724, and a silver salver inscribed 'Ad gloriam Deiet D.N. Jesu Christi DD Bartolomaeus Price in fest: Pasch: A.D. MDCCXLIV.'
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1553 to 1675, marriages 1553 to 1682, burials 1653 to 1679 (all entries between 1653 and 1660 are of a very fragmentary nature); (ii) baptisms 1679 to 1715, marriages 1684 to 1715, burials 1680 to 1715; (iii) baptisms and burials 1716 to 1767, marriages 1716 to 1753; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1811; (v) baptisms 1767 to 1803, burials 1768 to 1803; (vi) baptisms and burials 1803 to 1812.
The advowson belonged in the 12th century to the Abbot of Abingdon, whose right to it was confirmed by the bull of Pope Eugenius in 1152. (fn. 34)
In the 14th century there was a dispute as to the right of presentation, which the king claimed in 1345 on the plea that John de Elsefeld had held the advowson in the reign of Edward I and had given it to the abbot without licence. (fn. 35) The abbot appears to have successfully maintained that the abbey had held it from time immemorial.
In 1538 the possessions of the abbey were surrendered to the king, (fn. 36) who granted the advowson of the rectory to William Gorfyn in 1545. (fn. 37) His successor John Gorfyn conveyed them in 1550 to Alice Gorfyn, (fn. 38) who in the following year conveyed them to John Paulet and others. (fn. 39) Under this settlement (fn. 40) she held the advowson for life, with reversion to Chidiock Paulet, third son of the Marquess of Winchester. (fn. 41) His son William conveyed it in 1582 to William Dunche, (fn. 42) who died in 1597 (fn. 43) and whose son and heir Edmund Dunche (fn. 44) presented in 1607, (fn. 45) and bequeathed the patronage in 1623 to Edmund his grandson and heir. (fn. 46) In 1677 the advowson belonged to Petley Yarnam, but in 1720, 1732 and 1739 Ralph Price presented and was succeeded in 1757 by Ralph Price, clerk, (fn. 47) who made a settlement of the advowson in 1774. (fn. 48) From 1783 to 1815 it was held by a Ralph Price, clerk, (fn. 49) followed by George Price till 1850 and then by Ralph Price till 1873. Between this date and 1883 Mr. J. B. Homes and the Rev. W. A. Homes were the patrons, and the living is now in the gift of Mr. J. B. H. Whitehurst.
In 1851 the Rev. George Price, formerly a curate of the parish, by deed gave £100, the interest thereof to be applied for the benefit of the deserving poor resident in the parish, and for widows of good character beyond the age of sixty-five. The legacy is represented by £103 2s. consols with the official trustees. The annual dividends, amounting to £2 11s. 6d., are distributed in sums varying from 10s. to 3s. 6d.