A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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EAST SHEFFORD or LITTLE SHEFFORD
The parish of East or Little Shefford lies on either side of the Lambourn Valley and contains 1,069 acres, of which the greater part is arable. (fn. 1) The soil is chalk and the chief crops are wheat, barley and oats. There is no village and the few cottages lie near the river between the manor-house and the church, while a farm-house and some cottages are at Wickfield at the south of the parish. The highest points are in the north and south, where heights of 500 ft. above the ordnance datum are reached. Near the church the land falls to the valley of the Lambourn. The Lambourn Valley branch of the Great Western railway, opened in 1898, runs through the parish. The Newbury and Lambourn high road passes across East Shefford near the river, and the road from Newbury to Baydon crosses the southern end. The very small population is purely agricultural.
An ancient dyke, known as Hug Ditch, runs from south to north, forming part of the west boundary of the parish, then it turns eastward for a furlong, and is said to have continued northwards until it ended in a tumulus, since removed, in what was then the rectory garden. (fn. 2) The Roman road from Speen to Cirencester crosses the southern end of East Shefford and is here almost coincident with the Newbury and Baydon road. (fn. 3)
A Saxon burial ground was discovered here in 1890, when the railway was being made, and most of the objects then found are now in the British Museum. (fn. 4)
The manor-house at East Shefford, known as Hug Ditch Court (Hulkesdiche, xv cent.), where the hundred courts were held, (fn. 5) was destroyed in 1871. (fn. 6) It stood near the old church. (fn. 7) Part of it, said to have been the great hall, was used as a barn. (fn. 8)
Before the Conquest EAST SHEFFORD was held of the king by Brictric. (fn. 9) It was assessed in 1086 at 5 hides, (fn. 10) and was held of the king by Aiulf the Sheriff. (fn. 11) It had passed to the Crown before the beginning of the 12th century, and was granted by Henry I to Payn Peverel. (fn. 12) Shortly after, possibly in 1111, Payn obtained permission to give this manor in frankmarriage with his daughter Maud to Hugh son of Fulbert de Dover (Doure). (fn. 13) About the middle of the 12th century Henry II granted to Hugh and Maud in this manor quittance from suit at shire and hundred and all other exactions save fines for theft and murder. (fn. 14) Hugh was still holding the manor in 1170, (fn. 15) but he left no children by Maud, and Shefford passed with her other estates to her sisters. (fn. 16) It was assigned to Alice wife of Hamon Peche and passed about 1194 to her son Gilbert. (fn. 17) He forfeited his lands under King John, (fn. 18) and Shefford may have been granted to Hamelin de Andeville, who in 1206 subinfeudated it to Henry son of William de Boxworth for the service of half a knight's fee and 1 mark. (fn. 19) The overlordship is not mentioned among the Berkshire estates of Hamon Peche in 1240–1, (fn. 20) but was very shortly afterwards in the possession of his son Gilbert. (fn. 21) It probably passed on the death of Gilbert's son Gilbert with many of his other prossessions to Edward I, (fn. 22) for the manor was held in the 17th century of the Crown. (fn. 23)
Henry son of William de Boxworth forfeited the manor in 1215, when it was granted to William de Rivers, (fn. 24) but in 1216 it was given to John de Turris (fn. 25); Henry had recovered seisin by 1233, (fn. 26) and was succeeded before 1241 by his son William. (fn. 27) Sir William de Boxworth, who was dead before 1316, (fn. 28) married Amice daughter of Philip de Lisle, and after her death, Thomasia, who survived him and was holding a third of the manor in 1332. (fn. 29) In 1332 and 1333 his son Henry received confirmation of the charters of King Henry I and Henry II to Payn Peverel and Hugh de Dover. (fn. 30) In 1333 the manor was settled on Henry, his wife Maud and their heirs. (fn. 31) Henry was still living in 1365, (fn. 32) but the manor had apparently passed before 1346 to John de Stafford, who obtained in that year licence to hold divine service in his chapel of East Shefford. (fn. 33)
In 1374 William Lovet of Liscombe (co. Buckingham) and Alice his wife, in whose right it appears to have been held, granted it to Sir Nicholas de Tamworth and Joan his wife for their lives. (fn. 34) Sir Nicholas seems to have died soon afterwards, and Joan and her second husband Sir Warin de Lisle were dealing with land here in 1380. (fn. 35)" On Joan's death in 1392 (fn. 36) the manor reverted to the Lovets. William Lovet and Alice and their son Roger, (fn. 37) with his wife Joan, conveyed it in 1400 to John Eastbury and others. (fn. 38) Thomas Eastbury was holding land at East Shefford in 1408. (fn. 39)
The manor had probably passed to the Fettiplace family before the middle of the 15th century. Sir Thomas Fettiplace of East Shefford (fn. 40) was buried in the church here about 1447. (fn. 41) Sir Thomas left three sons, William, James and John. Of these William of Stokenchurch, who seems to have held some land in Shefford, (fn. 42) had an only daughter Anne, who married Hugh Unton of Wadley in Littleworth, Berkshire, by whom she had a son Thomas. (fn. 43) James inherited the neighbouring manor of Maidencourt, (fn. 44) and had some interest in this manor, which he released in 1455–6 to John and Isabel Eyston, who at the same time transferred their estate to William York and others. (fn. 45) John Fettiplace was a citizen and draper of London and a member of the household of King Henry VI, by whom he was employed to carry a garter to the King of Portugal. (fn. 46) He inherited this manor, and on his death in 1464 he bequeathed it to his eldest son Richard. (fn. 47)
Richard Fettiplace married Elizabeth daughter and heir of William Besils of Besselsleigh, and died in 1510–11 (fn. 48) leaving a son John, but the manor passed to his widow, who afterwards married Richard Eliot. (fn. 49) In 1514 Thomas Unton, John's cousin, unsuccessfully claimed the manor. (fn. 50) John Fettiplace died in 1524 (fn. 51) and the manor passed to his eldest son Edmund, who died seised of it in 1541–2, when his son John succeeded. (fn. 52) John settled the manor in 1570 on himself and his second wife Joan widow of Francis Fleming with remainder to his eldest son Besils and the latter's wife Helen. (fn. 53) He was knighted in 1575 (fn. 54) and died in 1580. (fn. 55) In 1588–9 Besils sold this manor to Francis Winchcombe. (fn. 56)
Francis Winchcombe (fn. 57) died in 1619, (fn. 58) when it passed under settlement to Mary wife of Sir Edward Clarke and window of William son of Francis Winchcombe. (fn. 59) The reversion after her death passed to Henry, the younger son of Francis. He was succeeded in 1629 by his son Henry, (fn. 60) who was holding the reversion on his death in 1642. (fn. 61) His son and successor Henry was created a baronet in 1661 and died in 1667, leaving a son Henry. (fn. 62) This Sir Henry Winchcombe was twice married, first to Elizabeth Hungerford, and secondly to Elizabeth Rolle. Though blind from his youth, he was M.P. for Berkshire in 1688–9, and died 5 November 1703, when his estates passed to his eldest daughter Frances, who had married Henry St. John Viscount Bolingbroke. (fn. 63)
Frances Lady Bolingbroke died in 1718, and as her sister Elizabeth was already dead the manor passed to the third sister Mary wife of Robert Packer of Shellingford and Donnington. (fn. 64) Mary settled this manor 11 September 1719 on herself and her husband with successive remainders to her children Winchcombe Howard, John, Henry, Robert and Elizabeth. Robert Packer died 4 April 1731 and Winchcombe Howard Packer was holding this manor in 1735. (fn. 65) He died at Golden Square in London 21 August 1746, and as he left no children and his next brother John had died, also without issue, the manor passed under the settlement of 1719 to Henry Packer, who died childless in 1746. The fourth son Robert seems also to have died without issue, and the manor passed under Henry's will to his nephew Winchcombe Henry Hartley, the son of his sister Elizabeth and David Hartley, M.D., F.R.S., of Bath.
Winchcombe Henry Hartley sold this manor in 1777 to his half-brother David Hartley of Golden Square. (fn. 66) David Hartley was a friend of Benjamin Franklin. He was M.P. for Hull 1744 to 1780, was sent as Minister Plenipotentiary to Paris, where he and Franklin drew up and signed a treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States of America on 3 September 1783. (fn. 67) In 1787 (fn. 68) he sold this manor to his half-brother Winchcombe Henry Hartley, from whom he had originally bought it. Winchcombe died in 1794, when this manor passed to his son the Rev. Winchcombe Henry Howard Hartley, by whom it was sold in 1811 to the tenant, John Froome. (fn. 69)
John died 7 February 1837, leaving the manor by his will, proved 2 May 1837, to his son James, (fn. 70) who sold it in 1869 to James Gower. Gower mortgaged the estate on 17 June 1871 to trustees under the marriage settlement of Hill Mussenden Leathes of Herringfleet Hall, Suffolk, and Mary Louisa his wife, and died a pauper lunatic, when the trustees foreclosed the mortgage. Mr. Leathes sold the manor in 1911 to its present owner, Mr. George Baylis of Wyfield Manor Farm, in the parish of Boxford. (fn. 71)
Land now represented by a farm called WICKFIELD at the southern end of the parish was conveyed early in 1199 by Ralph de Wickfeld to Robert de Wickfield and Maud his wife. (fn. 72) This may have been the land which was in dispute between Henry de Boxworth and Nicholas the forester in 1233, (fn. 73) the latter perhaps being identical with Nicholas de Wickfeld whose son John sold to Richard de Elfinton and Nichola his wife a messuage and land in Wickfield. (fn. 74) Before 1316 Wickfield had become part of the manor of East Shefford, (fn. 75) with which it has since descended. (fn. 76)
Two mills of the value of 22s. 6d. are mentioned in the Domesday Survey, (fn. 77) and one is referred to in 1456. (fn. 78) No further references to it have been found, and there is no mill here at the present day.
The old church, of unknown dedication, stands in a low situation close to the right bank of the River Lambourn, but was abandoned when the new church was erected on the hill-side above in 1869. (fn. 79) The church was restored by subscription in 1887 and the monuments cleaned.
The building consists of chancel 20 ft. by 12 ft. with an arched recess on the south side 19 ft. by 6 ft. deep, nave 33 ft. 3 in. by 14 ft. 8 in., and south porch 6 ft. 6 in. square, all these measurements being internal. There is also a wooden stuccoed bell-turret with leaded roof at the west end.
The fabric is usually said to have been rebuilt late in the 15th or early in the 16th century, but it seems more likely that the walls of the chancel and nave represent a late 12th-century building, the only remaining architectural feature of which is a roundheaded window high up in the north wall of the nave together with as smaller opening adjoining which lighted a former rood-loft stair. The walling being stuccoed and whitewashed both outside and within offers no evidence of date. The absence, however, of buttresses and the character of the plan suggest the retention of the greater part of the least of the old building when John Fettiplace, in his will dated 22 August 1464, bequeathed £40 to repair the church, to build new pillars, erect a little steeple of timber and make a closure round the tomb of his father and mother buried there. (fn. 80) How much of this reparation was carried out and when cannot exactly be stated, there being no pillars in the church either 'new' or old, but the 'closure' referred to is probably the long narrow recess on the south side of the chancel from which it opens by a wide arch below which the tomb of Sir Thomas Fettiplace stands. The windows are all of late date and were probably inserted at this time or later. The porch is of brick and is comparatively modern. (fn. 81) The chancel and nave are under one roof covered with modern red tiles carried down over the chancel recess. The building is now used as a mortuary chapel.
The chancel has a square-headed east window of three trefoiled lights, and on the north side a similar one of four rounded lights, perhaps of 16th-century date. There is a late piscina recess in the usual position, but the bowl has gone. Against the north wall is the tomb of John Fettiplace referred to below, and the south side is open to the recess by a wide pointed arch of two chamfered orders. The doorway and window within the recess are modern, the latter being a wooden dormer cut through the roof. The flat-pointed chancel arch is of a single order chamfered on the angles, but rests on older jambs with plain chamfered imposts, the 12th-century arch having apparently been removed when the church was remodelled, and the opening perhaps widened. On the north jamb is an incised votive cross.
The nave is lighted on the north side by a threelight window to the west of the original round-headed opening already mentioned, and on the south by two windows, one of two lights and the other a single rounded light under a square label, both to the east of the porch. All these windows, like that on the north of the chancel, are square-headed with rounded lights and external labels and may be of 16th-century date. The sills are 6 ft. above the floor and the singlelight window on the south side may possibly be an adaptation of an original opening. The 12th-century window in the north wall has been mutilated and is now fitted with a square-headed wooden frame and shutter. The sill is 8 ft. above the floor. The roodstair window is 9 ft. above the ground outside. The south doorway has a pointed arch of a single moulded order continued down the jambs to the ground and is apparently of the same date as the later windows. The west wall of the nave is blank. Over the chancel arch are the royal arms of one of the Hanoverian soverelgns and probably the curved plaster ceiling of the nave is also of 18th-century date.
The chief interest of the building, however, lies in the two Fettiplace monuments in the chancel. The older one on the south side is an alabaster altar tomb without inscription, with recumbent effigies of Sir Thomas Fettiplace of East Shefford and his wife Beatrice widow of Sir Gilbert Talbot. On each of the long sides are four angels holding blank shields and two at either end, and the figure of the man is in complete armour. The bascinet is encircled by a fillet and the head is supported by a mantled and creasted helm. The lady wears a sideless garment above an under-dress or kirtle and skirt descending to the feet. Over her shoulders is a mantle fastened with cord and tassels, and she wears a mitre-shaped headdress. The right arm is broken off, but otherwise both figures are in perfect condition. The details prove the whole composition to have been executed in the workshop of Thomas Prentys and Robert Sutton of Chellaston in Derbyshire. (fn. 82) The Lady Beatrice died on Christmas Day 1447, but the date of Sir Thomas's death is not known. The tomb, however, may be ascribed to c. 1450. The lady was of Portuguese birth, and it is probable that she was in some way connected with the royal family of Portugal. (fn. 83)
The later monument is that of the great-grandson of Sir Thomas, John Fettiplace (d. 1524), and his wife Dorothy Danvers, and stands against the north wall of the chancel. The tomb itself is of a plain character with three shields bearing the arms of Fettiplace along the front, but above is a Gothic canopy of Purbeck marble partly recessed in the wall, below the arch of which are the brasses of a man and woman kneeling facing each other on either side of a shield with the arms of Fettiplace (fn. 84) impaling Danvers. Behind the lady are four daughters and behind the man the indent of his sons. The inscription, which is on a brass plate below the shield, runs, 'Here under this tombe liethe buryed John Fetyplace Esquyer & Dorothye his wife, which John decesside the XIth day of October An° d[omi]ni M°V°XXIIII, for whose soule of your charitie say a pr. nr. & an Ave.' Above on either side of the figures was a shield, that on the dexter side alone remaining, (fn. 85) and between them is the indent of a small figure (?). The canopy has a straight line of Gothic cresting with a band of four-leaved flowers below and the reveals are panelled.
There were formerly some remains of ancient painted glass in the windows, but they were taken in 1880 to the new church and inserted in one of the side windows. 'The principal subject is that of a bishop with mitre, vested in alb and maniple, tunic with fringed border, and cope fastened by a trefoilshaped morse. The hood is brought up over the head partially covering the mitre. In his right hand he holds a service book and a pastoral staff in his left. He wears an episcopal glove on his right hand. Below the figure is a representation of the Annunciation. The Virgin is seated holding an open book on her knees.' (fn. 86) Above these two figures, though not connected with them, is a quartered shield of arms of Fettiplace, Besils and Leigh.
A coffin lid of Caen stone with moulded edge and triple cross was found in 1887 while removing the earth between the porch and the angle of the west wall, and is now placed at the west end of the nave inside. It covered an oak coffin containing the skeleton of an ecclesiastic with pewter funeral chalice and paten. A piece of enamel was also found with the body. (fn. 87)
The new church of the HOLY INNOCENTS (fn. 90) stands on high ground to the south-east of the old building on the north side of the high-road, and consists of apsidal chancel, aisleless nave, and timber west porch, with a stone bell-turret over the west gable. It is in the style of the early 14th century and is built of flint rubble with stone dressings. The roofs are covered with red tiles.
The plate consists of a 17th-century cup, paten and flagon, the cup being inscribed, 'The gifte of Mistres Marye Winchcombe,' and the flagon, 'The gift of Lady Mary Clarke 1640.' (fn. 91)
The first volume of the registers contains baptisms from 1603 to 1734, marriages from 1603 to 1717, and burials from 1614 to 1733. There is then a gap in the registers, the existing second volume containing baptisms and burials from 1774 to 1812 and marriages from 1779 to 1812. The original second volume has long been missing.
The first allusion to a church at East Shefford is in 1222–3, when Henry son of William de Boxworth released all his claim in the advowson to Lawrence Prior of Barnwell. (fn. 92) The advowson had, however, returned into the possession of the Boxworths before 1332, (fn. 93) and from that time it followed the descent of the manor (fn. 94) (q.v.) until 1777, when it was reserved from the sale of the manor by Winchcombe Henry Hartley. It was sold by his son in 1811 to James Herbert of Poughley in the parish of East Garston. (fn. 95)
By his will, dated 16 November 1822 and proved in 1823, James left this advowson to his brothers Richard and William, who agreed in 1844 to sell it to the Rev. Stephen Brown of Marlborough. (fn. 96) Mr. Brown became rector, and on his death in 1873 the advowson passed to his son, the Rev. W. Bryan Brown, the present patron.
In 1464 John Fettiplace left about £5 for the augmentation of the parsonage of Sherfford in order that the parson might pray for his and his ancestors' souls. (fn. 97) His son Richard founded an obit in the church here in 1511. (fn. 98)
The parish property, comprised in indentures of lease and release of 6 and 7 October 1820, consists of two cottages with gardens let at £5 yearly. The net rents are, together with the income of the preceding charities, distributed among poor families.