A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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LETCOMBE REGIS with EAST CHALLOW and WEST CHALLOW
Ledencumbe (xi cent.); Leddecumbe, Ledecumba (xii cent.); Ledecumbe, Dunledecumbe (xiii cent.); Ledecombe, Ledcombe, Letecombe, Ledecombe Regis, Dunledcombe (xiv cent.); Letcombe (xvi cent.); Nether Letcombe (xvii cent.).
The village of Letcombe Regis lies at the foot of the Berkshire downs, though part of the township extends over the ridge and a mile down the southern slope. Exclusive of Challow the parish contains 2,155 acres, of which more than half are arable. (fn. 1) The soil is chiefly chalk, with greensand towards the north, and the principal crops are wheat, barley and oats. The Letcombe Brook, which rises in the adjoining parish of Letcombe Bassett, forms for a short distance the boundary between these parishes, then crosses this township and finally divides it from that of East Challow. The highest point on Greenhill Down at the south of the parish is 737 ft. above the ordnance datum, and the lowest, where the brook leaves the parish, about 300 ft. There are four training stables here which employ a number of men and boys, and water-cress is cultivated in the brook. The population is otherwise agricultural.
In the village is a timber and plaster house dated 1698 and bearing the initials HkM. The old manor-house is an 18th-century building near to the church, the house now known as the Manor being a modern building embracing some ancient features. (fn. 2) Antwicks Manor, sometimes known as the Moat House, from its rectangular moat recently filled in, is comparatively modern, but stands on the site of a much older edifice. (fn. 3)
Letcombe Castle or Segsbury Camp is a large earthwork of the hill-top type, on the top of the downs above the village. (fn. 4) British and Roman coins and the remains of a Roman villa have been found. (fn. 5) The Ridgeway runs along the ridge of the downs south of the camp, and the Icknield Way crosses East and West Challow on its way to Wantage.
The township of Challow (Ceueslaue, xi cent.; Chaulea, Chaulauhe, Chawelawe, Shawelawe, xiii cent.) lies to the north of Letcombe Regis in the Vale of White Horse, and is now divided into two civil parishes, East and West Challow, each with its own church, but forming together since 1852 one ecclesiastical parish. (fn. 5a) The parish of East Challow contains 1,657 acres, of which the greater part is permanent grass, 5 acres only being woodland. West Challow contains 1,070 acres, of which 109 are arable and 272 permanent grass. (fn. 6) The subsoil is Gault and the greater part of East Challow is dairy land, while the principal crops on the remainder are wheat, beans, oats and turnips. The Letcombe Brook bounds the parish on the south, but the greater part of the area is drained by the Childrey and Woodhill Brooks. The highest point, near the south of the parish, is 469 ft. above the ordnance datum, while in the north the land falls to about 200 ft. The Great Western main line has a station at West Challow. The Berkshire Canal crosses the parish, as do the high roads from Ashbury and Faringdon to Wantage. The population is mainly agricultural, though there is a factory in East Challow.
Acts for inclosing the common fields in Letcombe Regis and East and West Challow were passed in 1801 and the award is dated 5 October 1804. (fn. 7) Letcombe Field was transferred from Letcombe Regis to Childrey in 1887 and at the same date part of Sparsholt was transferred to West Challow. (fn. 8)
Joan wife of Richard Vokins of West Challow, a Quakeress, and daughter of one Bunce of Charney, went on a missionary journey to America and the West Indies in 1680. She died in 1690, and her brother-in-law, Oliver Sanson, published her writings under the title of 'God's Mighty Power Magnified.' (fn. 9)
The manor of LETCOMBE REGIS was held by King Edward the Confessor and passed to King William, who was holding it in 1086. (fn. 10) The overlordship has remained with the Crown ever since.
In 1136 King Stephen granted this manor to the church of St. Peter at Cluny, (fn. 12) and this gift was confirmed by Pope Innocent II in 1142 (fn. 13) and by King Henry II. (fn. 14) The monks of Cluny rendered £66 13s. 4d. yearly in respect of this manor, (fn. 14) but in 1204 it was taken into the king's hands owing to the revolt of the Normans, when a full extent of it was made. (fn. 15) It was temporarily granted in 1205 to the abbey of Chertsey, (fn. 16) but the Cluniacs had recovered possession before 1209, when this manor was attached to their cell at Thetford. (fn. 17) The manor was confirmed to Cluny by Henry III in 1238, (fn. 18) and in 1240 the abbey was excused from all suits to hundreds and counties and other services, paying only 100s. yearly at Michaelmas to the Exchequer. (fn. 19)
The Abbot of Cluny leased this manor in 1261 to the priory of Montacute, and it had apparently before that time been leased to the priory of Bermondsey. (fn. 20) In 1277 the Prior of Montacute was distrained for arrears of rent due to the Exchequer which had accrued during the tenancies of the Priors of Thetford and Bermondsey. (fn. 21) The lease to the priory had probably terminated before 1316, (fn. 22) and in 1337 the manor was being farmed by Robert of Worcester. (fn. 23)
In 1341, owing to the war with France, the manor was taken into the king's hands, (fn. 24) and the fee farm of 80 marks was granted to John de Offord in 1342, (fn. 25) Robert giving up his lease in the same year. (fn. 26) On the death of John in 1349 the manor was granted to Nicholas de Oterbourne, (fn. 27) but on the conclusion of the war the manor was restored to the abbey of Cluny in 1355. (fn. 28)
War broke out again between England and France in 1359, and this manor was once more taken into the king's hands. The abbot had previously leased it for life to Sir Nicholas de Tamworth and his wife Joan, and it was confirmed to them by the king in 1361, (fn. 29) and they received a grant of free warren here in 1367. (fn. 30) After the death of Sir Nicholas Joan married Warin de Lisle, (fn. 31) and later she took as her third husband Sir Gilbert Talbot. She died in 1392, (fn. 32) when the manor was confirmed to Gilbert, (fn. 33) who appears to have died before 24 April 1399, as the manor was then granted to Simon Felbrigg. (fn. 34)
Simon was dead in 1412, when William Porter, the king's esquire, had licence to cross the sea to bargain with the Abbot of Cluny for the purchase of this manor. (fn. 35) William seems to have failed in his object, but as hostilities broke out again in 1413 the manor was granted to him during the continuance of the war. (fn. 36) William Porter was confirmed in his possession in 1423, (fn. 37) but pursuant to the provisions of the will of King Henry V the manor was granted in 1445 to the abbey of Westminster. (fn. 38)
In 1542 it was granted by King Henry VIII to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, (fn. 39), and was confirmed to them by Queen Elizabeth in 1559–60. (fn. 40) It remained in their hands until in 1869 it passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, (fn. 41) who sold it in 1885 to Mr. Llewelyn Jotcham. Mr. Jotcham conveyed it in 1886 to Mr. Stephen William Silver, who died in 1905, leaving all his property to his wife Sarah Constance Silver. She died in 1908, and the devisees under her will sold the manor in 1910 to trustees for Mrs. Fair, the wife of Captain Arthur Edward Balfour Fair. (fn. 42)
Court Rolls of the manor of Letcombe Regis exist from 1265 to 1271. (fn. 43)
Five mills, worth £4, are mentioned in the Domesday Survey. (fn. 44) One belonged in the 14th century to the Babelak family, (fn. 45) and one called Hodammes Mill occurs in the 15th century. (fn. 46) Richard Goddard died seised of a water-mill here in 1614. (fn. 47) The present Letcombe Regis Mill is to the north of the village on Letcombe Brook. Near it is a fulling-mill, and Windmill Hill, on the border between Letcombe Regis and East and West Challow, probably marks the site of a former mill.
The manor of ANWICKS, now ANTWICKS, held of the manor of Letcombe Regis, appears for the first time in 1508. (fn. 48) It must have originated in land held by the Anwick family, who held part of the neighbouring manor of Letcombe Bassett. Land in Letcombe Regis was held of Thomas Anwick (Avenwyk) in 1332 and 1335. (fn. 49) At the beginning of the 16th century John Isbury, farmer of the manor of Letcombe Regis, (fn. 50) held Anwicks. (fn. 51) He sold the manor to John Daunce, but retained the capital messuage, which he bequeathed to his widow Elizabeth. She afterwards married John Swaynes and outlived Isbury some thirty years. (fn. 52) Meanwhile John Daunce sold the manor to John Audlett, who gave it to William Hyde on his marriage with Margery Cater. 'a near kinswoman' of Audlett. (fn. 53) William Hyde died in 1557, leaving it to his wife Margery. (fn. 54) His son William ultimately succeeded, dying seised of the estate, which he left to his wife Alice, in 1567. (fn. 55) His son William conveyed the site of the manor in 1571 to Anthony Hyde and Thomas Lyons, (fn. 56) probably as trustees for William's uncle Hugh Hyde, who held it three years later (fn. 57) and was still living there in 1581. (fn. 58) The site probably reverted on his death to his nephew William, and Sir George Hyde, son of William, (fn. 59) sold the whole estate in 1611–12 to Edmund Fettiplace, (fn. 60) of whom it was purchased in 1627–8 by Richard Aldworth (fn. 61) of Wargrave. He sold the manor in 1629 to John Shard and William Ley. (fn. 62)
After this the history of this manor becomes obscure. It was held in 1716 by Richard Cartwright, (fn. 63) and in 1724 Thomas and Richard Cartwright sold it to Peter Sayer (fn. 64) of Letcombe Regis, at whose death it passed to his nephew Joseph Sayer. He sold it in 1759 to John Hughes of Ashbury. (fn. 65)
Again there is some obscurity, but in 1810 the manor was held by William Heading and Elizabeth his wife. (fn. 66) William died in 1832 and his widow in 1839 (fn. 67); their sons William and John Heading sold this estate in 1841 to the Rev. Edward Hussey of East Hendred, who sold it in 1857 to John and Edward Rowles.
John Rowles became sole possessor of the manor in 1861 and died in 1883, leaving all his property to his wife Maria. After her death in 1890 her trustees sold the manor in 1891 to Frederick Lynam. Mr. Lynam rebuilt the house here and sold it with the manor in 1895 to Charles Anthony Mills, of whom it was purchased about 1900 by Richard Croker of New York. Mr. Croker filled up the moat that had surrounded the house and sold the estate in 1905 to James Hill, the trustees under whose will are the present owners. (fn. 68)
Land at the north-west of the township of Challow, afterwards known as the manor of PETWICK or WEST CHALLOW, was granted at an early date to the nuns of Amesbury, who were holding it in 1086. (fn. 69) This manor followed the descent of North Fawley (fn. 70) (q.v.), and at the time of the dissolution of the priory in 1541 the farm of the manor with the chapel of West Challow was worth £27 12s. and the perquisites of the court were valued at 13s. 4d. (fn. 71)
The manor of Petwick was granted in June 1541 to Sir Thomas Seymour, who had licence on 4 July that year to sell it to the tenant, Richard Plott. (fn. 72) Richard died not long afterwards, and his son Bartholomew died in 1571, leaving a son Richard, (fn. 73) who sold the manor in 1600 to Henry Martyn, LL.D. (fn. 74)
There is now some obscurity in the history of this manor, but it had passed before 1635 to Ralph Pigott, (fn. 75) and remained in that family until 1802, (fn. 76) when it was sold by John Pigott, clerk, to Thomas Hatton and others.
Thomas Hatton, by his will proved in 1804, left the manor to be sold for the benefit of his sons Richard Belcher and William, and his daughters, Anne wife of John Reade and Rebecca. They sold the manor in 1820 to Daniel Agace of Ascot. On his death in 1828 the manor passed to his relative Daniel Ferard, who died in 1837, leaving it to his eldest son Charles Cotton Ferard. (fn. 77) He left the manor at his death in 1886 to his sons Charles Agace Ferard and Arthur George Ferard, who sold it in 1888 to William Schoolcroft Burton. William, with Mary Judith his wife, mortgaged the manor in 1888, and the mortgagees sold it on 25 March 1899 to Lord Wantage, (fn. 77a) on whose death in 1901 it passed to his widow, the present owner of the manor.
Another estate, also in West Challow, usually called the manor of CHALLOW, was granted by King Henry I to Robert Achard between 1107 and 1118. (fn. 78) It was held of the king in chief, and followed the same descent as Aldermaston (q.v.) until the death of Sir William Forster in 1618. (fn. 78a) His son and successor Humphrey sold land here to Margaret White in 1620, (fn. 79) but no further reference has been found to this manor, and it seems probable that all the copyholds were redeemed. Most of the land in West Challow was purchased at different times by members of the Pigott family, and the remainder by Daniel Agace, (fn. 80) and is now the property of Lady Wantage.
The manor of WOODHILL (Wodhull, xiv cent.) appears for the first time in 1554, when it belonged to Alexander Fettiplace (fn. 81) of Rampayns in Childrey. The owners of Rampayns had been in possession of land at Petwick as early as 1326. (fn. 82) Woodhill followed the descent of Rampayns Manor until 1676, (fn. 83) when it is mentioned for the last time.
The church of ST. ANDREW consists of chancel 28 ft. by 18 ft. 6 in. with north vestry and organ chamber, nave 46 ft. 6 in. by 22 ft., south porch 7 ft. square, and west tower 12 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft., all these measurements being internal.
The two lower stages of the tower date from c. 1195. The priest's doorway on the south side of the chancel is 14th-century work, but with this exception the whole of the remainder of the building, where not modern, appears to belong to the 15th century. Some portion of the chancel walls may be contemporary with the doorway, but the moulded plinth suggests an entire rebuilding of the chancel in the 15th century, at which time also the upper stage of the tower was added and probably the nave entirely reconstructed. The extent of the original 12th-century church can only be surmised. In the 14th century a new chancel appears to have been built, and the jambs of the chancel arch may belong to this rebuilding. In the 15th-century reconstruction the priest's doorway only survived, and the building then assumed more or less of its present aspect. There were the usual internal changes in the 18th century, a west gallery containing an organ (fn. 84) being erected. The pulpit and desk were in the south-east corner of the nave and the squire's pew on the north side of the chancel. A leaded roof was erected in 1737. (fn. 85) In 1863 the church was restored, new roofs of higher pitch erected, the gallery and fittings removed, and the porch constructed.
The church is built of coursed rubble, originally rough-casted, and the roofs are covered with red tiles. The rough-cast has been stripped from the chancel and the south wall of the nave, but remains on the north side and on the tower.
The chancel has a four-centred east window of three cinquefoiled lights. In the north wall is a square-headed window of three cinquefoiled lights near the east end with four-centred rear arch, and in the south wall two similar windows, one on each side of the doorway. The doorway has a pointed arch with plain chamfered head and jambs. The west end of the north wall is open to the organ chamber by a modern arch and there is a doorway to the vestry. The chancel arch is modern, resting on older jambs of two chamfered orders. The walls are plastered inside and the roof is a modern boarded one of three bays. The lower part of a 15th-century chancel screen standing 3 ft. 10 in. high, with fourcentred traceried panels on each side of the opening, has been preserved.
The nave has two pointed windows in the north wall, one at each end, of two cinquefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head, of early 15th-century date, and above each is a square-headed two-light window high up in the wall. Parker, in 1849, describes the nave as having 'two tiers of small windows, (fn. 86) but this feature now exists only on the north side. The windows in the south wall are modern. Externally the nave is divided into three bays by buttresses of two stages, and the walls are plastered inside. The north doorway has a four-centred moulded arch without label, but is now built up, though the old oak door remains externally, where there is a mutilated stoup on the east side. The south doorway is modern. The porch has a timber front and gable with stone side walls. There were formerly seven steps down to the nave.
The tower is of three stages with diagonal buttresses at the western angles and square ones facing north and south on the east side. There is a string below the later belfry stage, but the two lower stages are externally unmarked. The parapet is embattled and has iron ornaments at the angles and gargoyles north and south. In the middle stage there are original windows on the north, south and west sides, each of two pointed lights divided by a shaft with carved capital and moulded base. The windows facing north and south have continuous chamfered heads and jambs, but that on the west has an impost moulding at the spring of the arch. The west window in the lower stage consists of a single lancet without label, widely chamfered outside. The acutely-pointed tower arch is of a single order chamfered towards the nave and springing at a height of 9 ft. 6 in. from chamfered imposts. (fn. 87) There is no vice, access to the belfry being by a ladder.
The font is of 12th-century date and consists of a circular tub-shaped bowl with scalloping round the top between two round mouldings and stands on a circular moulded base without stem. It has a flat 17th-century wooden cover. The pulpit and other fittings are modern.
Some old coloured glass remains in the east window, but there was formerly more. It was described in 1849 as 'nearly perfect,' (fn. 88) but it suffered greatly in the restoration of 1863. At the top of the middle light is a small figure of our Lord seated, His body bare and a yellow garment thrown over His shoulders and lower limbs. His hands are raised and blood is flowing from the wounds in His hands and side. A rich nimbus is shown up by a background of blue and gold. The feet are on either side of a circular object and there is a groundwork of black and white pavement below. The figure, which is within a quatrefoil partly made up with later materials, is older than the window and may be of 14th-century date. Above it is the inscription Inri on a scroll, probably from a late and now vanished crucifixion. Lower down in the middle light are a pair of cross bones and a yellow four-leaved flower or star, and below these again a shield partly made up, with some of the tinctures and bearings gone, but with the names Langley and Tame above. Below the shield again is a blazing sun within a circle. In the dexter or north light is a large shield with the arms of Montagu Earl of Salisbury (Argent a fesse indented of three points gules), and at the bottom a made-up shield with one lozenge and part of a black and white pavement, together with the word '(g)audium,' all that remains of a black-letter inscription. The south light has a shield near the top, Or a bat vert, which is said to be the arms of the Mermylle family, and at the bottom a made-up shield corresponding to that in the north light, with part of another inscription, 'ohn Mermylle uxor sue.' (fn. 89) In each of the three lights are small diamond-shaped quarries with six-leaved flowers of 15th-century date and borders of roses and crowned M's and S's. In the smaller upper lights are a crowned female head and the head and part of the body of another figure, with M's and S's in circles and portions of borders. The glass is of different dates, but most of it may be ascribed to the 15th century.
In the vestry is a small brass of a lady, the head gone, bearing the inscription, 'Hic jacet Alicia Estbury filia Johis Estbury et Agnetis . . .,' (fn. 90) and there are also mural tablets to Anne Grove (d. 1669) and Martha (d. 1694) and Margaret (d. 1698), daughters of the Rev. John Hunsdon, vicar. In the nave is a mural monument erected in 1731 to Alexander Fettiplace (d. 1712), his wife, two sons and a daughter, with the arms of Fettiplace impaling Head, and another to Francis Pigott (d. 1756) and other members of the Pigott family. There are also a number of early 19th-century tablets, one exhibiting a pedigree of the Goodlake family. (fn. 91)
There is a ring of six bells: the oldest (fifth) was cast by Joseph Carter of Reading in 1599; the third and tenor are by Henry Knight of Reading, 1620 and 1621 respectively; the fourth by Oliver Cor of Aldbourne, 1726; and the treble and second by James Wells of Aldbourne, 1805. The bells were rehung in 1905. (fn. 92)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: the first volume, which was for a long time lost, contains baptisms and marriages from 1547 to 1697 and burials to 1698; there are also some entries of baptisms and marriages in 1536; the second contains baptisms 1697 to 1794, marriages 1697 to 1754, and burials 1698 to 1798; and the third baptisms and burials to 1812. (fn. 93)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS, East Challow, consists of chancel 22 ft. 3 in. by 11 ft. 6 in., nave 47 ft. by 15 ft., south aisle 11 ft. wide, and south-west tower 11 ft. square, all these measurements being internal.
In 1858 the building underwent a very drastic restoration, the west end and aisle being rebuilt and lengthened and a new roof erected to the nave. Its external appearance was further changed for the worse in 1884 by the erection of the tower, a low embattled structure of poor design at the west end of the aisle. (fn. 94) Views of the building before 1858 (fn. 95) show a lowpitched leaded roof to the nave with two squareheaded clearstory windows on the south side, a bellcote containing two bells over the west gable, and a round-headed 12th-century west doorway with a pointed 15th-century window above. The aisle had been rebuilt in brick in the 18th century (fn. 96) and had a plain porch with lean-to roof covering a 12th-century doorway. (fn. 97) In the rebuilding of the west end all the ancient features were destroyed, as well as the south doorway, and with the exception of the font no trace of 12th-century work now remains. The old nave was, however, probably of that period, and such of the old masonry as remains, including the greater portions of the north and east walls, may be late 12thcentury work. The north wall is, however, now covered with rough-cast and the windows are of sub sequent date. Early in the 14th century the chancel was rebuilt or reconstructed, the aisle added, and the bellcote erected. The chancel arch and nave arcade, together with the arch on the south side of the chancel, are all of this period, but the chancel windows are largely restored. The roofs are covered with stone slates, except that of the aisle, which is leaded, and the chancel is built of rubble and is without buttresses. There is now no south doorway, and the clearstory and aisle windows are all modern.
The east window of the chancel is of three pointed lights with early geometrical tracery, and the chancel is further lighted on the north side by two squareheaded windows of two trefoiled lights and on the south by one of similar character, all partially restored. No ancient ritual arrangements remain and the walls are plastered internally. The south wall is open at the west end to the aisle, which extends half the length of the chancel, forming a vestry, but whether this is the original plan or whether the arch opened to a chapel separate from the aisle is uncertain. The arch is of two continuous orders with moulded label on either side, the inner order having a wave moulding and the outer a hollow chamfer. The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders with hood mould towards the nave, the outer order continuous and the inner springing from half-round responds with moulded capitals and bases. The oak rood screen with rood and attendant figures dates from 1905.
The nave arcade consists of three pointed arches of two chamfered orders with hood mould towards the nave, springing from square piers with a half-round shaft on each face and from half-round responds at each end, all with moulded capitals and bases. At the east end of the north wall is a single-light trefoiled window and another with a square head near the west end of the old wall, and midway a square-headed 16th-century window of three rounded lights. The west window and doorway and a window at the west end of the north wall all belong to the modern extension. Built into the wall south of the doorway is an early 14th-century stoup with trefoiled head and projecting basin. The tower is open to the nave and aisle by pointed arches.
The font consists of a plain cylindrical barrel-shaped bowl with chamfered plinth standing on a modern circular step. It is 30 in. in height and is lined with lead. The communion table is of 17th-century date with four turned legs, but the top is new. The pulpit is of wrought-iron on a stone base, and with all the other fittings is modern.
There is some old glass in two of the nave windows, including part of a female figure, the head of which is missing, a representation of the Holy Trinity in yellow stain and some later heraldic glass.
The tower contains two undated bells, the smaller inscribed, 'R. Wells, Aldbourne, Fecit,' and the larger without inscription, but apparently cast at the same time. (fn. 98)
The walls are covered with rough-cast and have stone dressings and the roof is of stone slates. The ridge is continuous, but the wall-plate of the chancel is slightly higher than that of the nave, the eaves being tilted. The chancel is 23 ft. in length and is separated from the nave by a 15th-century oak screen. The nave dates from c. 1190, the north doorway being of this period, but the two windows on the south side are nearly a century later. The west window and the bell-turret are of 14th-century date, and the south doorway, which is now built up, the chancel windows and the porch belong to the 15th century: probably the chancel was rebuilt or added at that period. The church was restored in 1892. (fn. 99)
The east window of the chancel is of two cinquefoiled lights and there is a square-headed window of two cinquefoiled lights in each of the side walls near the west end. In the usual position on the south side is a piscina recess with plain pointed head and two modern bowls, and in the east wall on the south side of the window a plain rounded corbel, or bracket, at a height of 4 ft. above the floor. On the north side of the window, 3 ft. above the floor, is a stone shelf 2 ft. long, chamfered on the underside. The walls are plastered internally and the roof consists of coupled rafters with a plain tie-beam above the screen. The floor is tiled.
The nave has square buttresses of a single stage at the west end and on the north side a square-headed two-light window to the east of the doorway. The two windows on the south side each consist of two plain lancets with a trefoiled circle above, but without label or containing arch. The north doorway has a semicircular arch of a single order with a round moulding on the edge, springing from moulded imposts and attached shafts with carved capitals of Transition type. The door has old ironwork. The south doorway is four-centred below a square label with carved spandrels and moulded jambs and head. The west window consists of a single cinquefoiled light with moulded label, the jambs and head having the characteristic 14th-century wave moulding outside. The bell gable is of stone with ogee-headed openings.
The porch is of timber on a stone base, but the sides, which have six cinquefoil-headed openings, have been restored. The carved oak barge-board, four-centred doorway with sunk spandrels, and the general timber work of the front remain a very good example of 15th-century work.
The chancel screen has a plain square-headed central doorway with five cinquefoiled openings on either side. The screen has been restored, and the embattled cornice and plain boarding below the mid-rail are new. The uprights are moulded, and the height to the top of the cornice is 8 ft. The sill forms a low step to the chancel.
The font is of late 12th-century date and consists of a tub-shaped unmounted bowl with a moulded and ornamented rim, set on a modern base, and single original step. The bowl is lined with lead and has a flat modern cover.
The pulpit is of 17th-century date, a simple but good example of Jacobean oakwork, with two panelled sides and moulded ledge, open at the back to the walls and screen. The communion table is of the same period and stands on five turned legs. The rest of the fittings are modern. There are some fragments of old glass in the east window.
In the floor of the chancel are a number of 18thcentury blue stone slabs to members of the Pigott family, and there are mural tablets to Elizabeth Pigott, wife of John Hobbs (d. 1757), and the Rev. John Holmes, vicar (d. 1730).
The plate consists of a cup of 1605–6, with the maker's mark A. B. linked, (fn. 100) and a paten without marks.
A church is mentioned at Letcombe Regis in 1086 as belonging to the nuns of Amesbury. (fn. 1) It was granted with that abbey in 1179 to the nuns of Fontevrault, (fn. 2) and had been appropriated before 1291, when the vicar's portion was £5. (fn. 3)
The priory of Amesbury was dissolved in 1541, when this rectory was worth £13 (fn. 4); it with the advowson was granted in the same year to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester. (fn. 5) They exchanged this living for that of Stoke Charity, Hampshire, in 1893 with the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, (fn. 6) who are the present patrons, but the dean and chapter retained the rectory, which now belongs to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
In 1541 the rectories of both East and West Challow belonged to the nuns of Amesbury. (fn. 7) That of East Challow passed with the rectory and advowson of Letcombe Regis to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester. (fn. 8)
The chapel and rectory of West Challow were granted in 1541, with the manor of Petwick, to Sir Thomas Seymour, (fn. 9) and have since followed the descent of that manor.
The advowson of the united living of Challow was transferred in 1877 by Charles Cotton Ferard of Ascot Place, Winkfield, to the Bishop of Oxford, (fn. 10) in whose gift the living remains.
In 1720 Mrs. Theodosia Fettiplace gave £100 for the poor. This is now represented by £106 19s. 1d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividend of which, amounting to £2 13s. 4d., is divided among six or seven of the poorest labourers having the largest families. The charity is known locally as 'Dorsey's,' meaning Theodosia's, charity.
The official trustees also hold a sum of £24 2½ per cent. annuities, representing the redemption in 1900 of a charge of 12s. a year for bread on a certain acre in White Mead, which was formerly recorded on a wall of the church as being the gift of the ancestors of John Head. One shilling's worth of bread is given at Easter to each of six poor widows and as much at Whitsuntide to six large families.
It was recorded on the same inscription that Dr. Richard Aldworth gave an annuity of £4 for the poor, charged on the Moat House estate. This is distributed at Christmas to about seven recipients. The charity is regulated by a scheme of 21 October 1902.
By the same award an allotment containing 3 acres in Letcombe Regis and 1 acre in Warborough was awarded for the repair of the roads; also 3 roods in White Mead for similar purposes for the benefit of the tithing of East Challow. These allotments are now the property of the Wantage Urban District Council, producing about £3 4s. a year.