A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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Praxemere (xi cent.); Pesimare (xi cent.); Pasemere (xiii cent.); Pasmere (xiv cent.); Pesemere, Pesmere (xiii–xv cent.); Pusmere (xiv cent.); Paximere, Peasmoore (xvi cent.); Peasmore (xvi–xvii cent.); Peysmer, Peasemore (xvii cent.).
The parish of Peasemore lies on the southern slope of the Berkshire downs and is drained by subterranean streams in the dry valleys which lie above the sources of the Winterbourne Brook. From the bounds of the township of Chieveley as given in the 10th century it would appear that Peasemore then formed part of that vill, but before the Conquest it had become distinct for secular, and shortly afterwards for ecclesiastical, purposes.
The village lies around a circular inclosure within which are the church, rectory and some of the houses. Most of the houses and cottages are of brick and of no particular architectural interest, but Gobley Farm, on a hill to the south-west of the village, is an old brick and timber building. Originally the front had two gables, but it has been extended and now has three. The eaves descend very low at the back of the house. The highest point in the north of the parish is a little above 600 ft. and the lowest, at the south-west corner, is 382 ft. above the ordnance datum. The parish contains 2,049 acres, of which 1,556 are arable, 146 permanent pasture and 15 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The principal crops are wheat, barley and oats. The soil is mostly loam and clay overlying chalk, but there is sand at the northeast corner. No railway or canal runs through the parish, the nearest railway stations being Welford Park and Hampstead Norris, both about 5 miles distant, nor any road which can be termed a highway. There are no industries in the parish and the population is purely agricultural. There is a Primitive Methodist chapel here.
A great fire broke out here on 27 July 1736, doing damage which was estimated at £1,575 6s. 4d. (fn. 2)
The overlordship of the first, held by two thegns in the reign of Edward the Confessor and at the time of the Domesday Survey by Ralph de Mortimer, (fn. 3) passed at his death, like the overlordship of Brimpton in this hundred (q.v.), to his son Hugh and continued to pass with the Mortimer estates until, after the death of Cicely Duchess of York in 1495, it reverted to the Crown. (fn. 4)
Oidelard held this manor of Ralph de Mortimer at the time of the Domesday Survey, (fn. 5) but it soon passed into the hands of Richard de Peasemore, who was the owner of another manor here, and who appears to have acquired this manor early in the reign of Henry I. Richard had a son Philip, who was associated with him in a quarrel with the abbey of Abingdon, (fn. 6) and another Richard, possibly the grandson of the former, owed a mark in 1204 for having recognizance of novel disseisin for his free tenement here, (fn. 7) which he was holding later in this century. (fn. 8) He died before 1263, when his widow Julia claimed one-third of the manor from his son William, also from another son Richard, and her dower in other lands there from Reginald Fitz Peter and others. (fn. 9)
William de Peasemore died before 1280, when his son Richard was under age. (fn. 10) In due course Richard obtained seisin of the manor and died seised of it in 1300, when his heir was his daughter Agnes, an infant less than a year old. (fn. 11) The following year the king ordered a dower to be assigned to Richard's widow Agnes, (fn. 12) and it appears that a third of the manor was held in dower by Alice the widow of William. (fn. 13) Alice had taken as her second husband Robert le Poer, and they were holding their share of this manor in 1307, (fn. 14) and Robert Power, either this man or a son of the same name, was holding it in 1322–3 (fn. 15) and in 1325. (fn. 16)
Before 1320–1 the manor, with the reversion of Alice's dower, seems to have passed into the hands of Richard de Abberbury of Donnington (q.v.), for in that year he granted it to Simon son of Robert de Norton and his wife. (fn. 17) The subsequent history is obscure, but Simon was holding the manor in 1324 (fn. 18) and 1327, when part of it was held of him by Warin de Lisle, lord of the adjoining manor of Beedon. (fn. 19) How long Simon continued to hold it is uncertain, nor are his heirs known, but it is probable that William Nououn or Noioun, who held the manor in 1360, was his son. (fn. 20) At this point there is another difficulty in the descent. A William Noion or Noun was holding this manor in 1398, (fn. 21) but twenty years before, in 1377–8, the manor or the reversion of it seems to have been conveyed by William Lemere and his wife to Sir Richard de Abberbury. (fn. 22) How the grantees obtained their right in the manor has not been found, but it seems clear, at any rate, that Sir Richard obtained the manor in 1377–8 and attached it to his manor of Donnington, which he sold in 1415 to Thomas Chaucer, (fn. 23) whose only daughter married as her second husband Thomas de Montagu Earl of Salisbury, who was holding this manor in 1425 and in 1428, (fn. 24) just before his death that year. This manor like the others seems to have continued a parcel of the manor of Donnington (q.v.) and with that manor to have passed to the Crown in 1535.
The second manor was held in the reign of the Confessor by Godwin and Urlewin and at the time of the Domesday Survey by Gilbert de Bretville. (fn. 25) As in Gilbert's other manors the overlordship seems to have passed to the king, who in 1232 handed it over to Herbert son of Roger and others, from whom it seems to have passed to the Earls of Devon and eventually to the Earls of Salisbury, and, like the manor of Wille in the parish of Hampstead Norris (q.v.), it became forfeit to the king in 1400, on the death of John de Montagu Earl of Salisbury.
This overlordship was restored with the title and other estates to his son Thomas on 10 April 1409 and he died seised of it on 3 November 1428. The later descent of the overlordship is well known, and it passed to the Crown on the death and subsequent attainder in 1499 of the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 26)
The manor was held of Gilbert de Bretville at the time of the Domesday Survey by Richard, (fn. 27) and it seems possible that this was the fee of which Martin de Peasemore obtained possession in 1221 at the death of his father Gilbert. (fn. 28) Land here was also sold by John de Peasemore to Herbert son of Roger in 1234–5. (fn. 29) It would seem that in 1232 it was found that this manor had been held in fee by Richard de Peasemore and had escheated to the king, who directed that it should be handed over to Herbert son of Roger, Hugh son of Alexander and Gervaise son of Vivian. (fn. 30)
Later in the century Nicholas de Eddington held half a fee here successively of the king, Herbert son of Roger, the Earl of Devon and Matthew de Columbers. (fn. 31) In 1237 Nicholas granted certain lands here to William Prior of Poughley, (fn. 32) and it seems likely that the remainder passed into the hands of Richard de Peasemore (fn. 33) and passed with his manor to Sir Richard de Abberbury, who had a grant of free warren here in 1340, (fn. 34) and attached these lands to his manor of Donnington (q.v.), with which it passed to the Crown in 1535. (fn. 35)
The lands granted to the Prior of Poughley were confirmed to him by the king in 1248, (fn. 36) and the priory acquired fresh lands here in 1260–1 from William le Bel and his wife. (fn. 37) The prior is returned as holding land here in 1315–16 (fn. 38) and again in 1428 (fn. 39) and at the time of the dissolution of the priory in 1525. (fn. 40) The land was granted to Cardinal Wolsey in 1526 (fn. 41) for his college at Oxford, (fn. 42) and was conveyed by him the same year to the 'Dean and Canons of the College of Thomas Wolsey.' (fn. 43) After Wolsey's attainder these lands were granted in 1531 to the abbey of Westminster, (fn. 44) which was permitted to exchange them in 1541 with John Carleton of Walton-upon-Thames, Surrey, and Joyce his wife. (fn. 45) A farm close to the church known as Prior's Side seems to represent these lands.
The third manor was held in the reign of the Confessor by Alwin and at the time of the Domesday Survey by William Count of Evreux, (fn. 46) who granted it to the church of Noion. It was confirmed to them by his grandson Simon between 1140 and 1157. (fn. 47)
It seems probable that as in the case of the count's manor of Calcote in the parish of Hungerford it was held of the priory of Noion in the 13th century by Alan de Farnham, (fn. 48) from whom it passed to John de St. Helena and his wife Juliana. (fn. 49) These manors passed to the son of Juliana by a former marriage, Gilbert de Elsefield, (fn. 50) who granted them to Henry le Tyes of Chilton and Margaret his wife. (fn. 51) On the death of Henry and Margaret they passed presumably to their son Henry, who was executed in 1321, when his heir was his sister Margaret wife of Warin de Lisle. (fn. 52) These lands are perhaps included in those held by Warin in 1324, (fn. 53) and he died seised of them in 1327, (fn. 54) when they are described as being held of Simon de Norton or Northampton. Warin had evidently been interested in lands here as early as 1320, when at his orders several of his servants came to Peasemore and so ill-used Robert de Ilsley that he died. (fn. 55) He attached these lands to his adjoining manor of Beedon, and they have passed with that manor (q.v.) to the present day and are now owned by the Lady Wantage. (fn. 56)
By 1535 both of the first two manors had come into the hands of the king and for ten years these estates, now treated as one manor, remained part of the lordship of Donnington. (fn. 57) In 1545 this manor was leased for forty years to Edward Fettiplace, the king's servant, (fn. 58) and in 1563 it was granted by Queen Elizabeth to John Lyford and others. (fn. 59) John Lyford, who lived at Rushdens in the parish of Stanford Dingley, conveyed the manor to trustees in 1600. (fn. 60) He alienated to trustees in 1608–9 for the purposes of settlement (fn. 61) and died in 1610 seised of the manor, which passed to his son Richard. (fn. 62) On a brass erected to his memory in the church of Stanford Dingley he is described as citizen and merchant tailor of London. (fn. 63) Richard took possession of the manor in 1611, (fn. 64) and in 1634, with Joan his wife, (fn. 65) he settled (fn. 66) it on his son Richard on his marriage with Mary daughter of Thomas Castell. Richard the younger died in 1638 seised of this manor. (fn. 67) His father survived him and died at Rushdens in 1640. (fn. 68)
At the death of the younger Richard the manor passed under the settlement of 1634 to his widow with remainder to his daughter Mary, and in 1661 Charles Evans and Mary his wife and Thomas Edwards and Mary his wife conveyed the manor to trustees. (fn. 69) It seems possible that these two Marys were the widow and daughter of Richard Lyford. (fn. 70) The elder Mary must have died and the younger Mary married again before 1686, when Thomas Coward, sen., clerk, and Mary his wife placed the manor in settlement, (fn. 71) for the Mary in this case, as appears from the inscription on her monument, was the daughter of Richard Lyford. (fn. 72) On 5 April 1705 her only daughter Mary was married to Mr. Ralph Sherley of Oxford, (fn. 73) and Mrs. Coward died 16 October 1709, aged seventy-four years. (fn. 74)
In 1719 Ralph Sherley, clerk, and Mary his wife conveyed the manor to John Beale, apparently in trust. (fn. 75) Mary died in 1729 and Anne, her daughter, in 1745. (fn. 76) In 1756 Ralph and other members of the family conveyed the manor to John Archer and John Loder, clerk, (fn. 77) probably as trustees for a settlement. Ralph died in 1760, when he was described as 'Rector of Welford and of this Parish Church and Lord of the Manor of Peasemore.' (fn. 78) He seems to have been succeeded by his son William, who is described as lord of the manor, and who died childless in 1775, aged sixty-one. (fn. 79) The manor then seems to have passed under the provisions of the settlement of 1756 to John Archer of Welford, and he and Rosanna his wife with others conveyed it to trustees in 1784. (fn. 80) The manor has since passed with the manor of Welford (q.v.) and is at present owned by Col. G. B. Archer-Houblon.
The altar has five 17th-century panels carved in high relief, formerly part of a chest, the bottom band of ornament being pierced by a key-hole. The first panel represents the 'Descent from the Cross,' the second the 'Adoration of the Shepherds,' the third the 'Last Supper,' the fourth the 'Adoration of the Magi' and the fifth the 'Conversion of St. Paul.'
On the north wall of the tower is a brass with an inscription in verse to Thomas Stampe, who died in 1636. His arms and crest also appear on the plate. There are also some 18th and 19th-century monuments. On the north side of the churchyard, which contains two cedars and other large trees, is a lychgate.
The plate comprises a chalice, paten and flagon of 1853. On the base of the flagon is the inscription 'The gift of William Coward 1737.' Probably the base is of this date and is soldered on to a later top; the beaten surface of the metal seems to bear this out. There are also a Britannia-metal plate and a circular pewter wafer box.
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1538 to 1803, marriages 1574 to 1762 and burials 1574 to 1804; (ii) marriages 1755 to 1812 (baptisms from 1803 and burials from 1804, both to 1812, are missing). There is an overseers' book of 1764 with churchwardens' accounts from 1786 at the other end, also a surveyor's book of 1769, housekeeper's book 1761 and a constable book of 1760 to 1827.
Peasemore was originally part of the parish of Chieveley, and between 1078 and 1097 Richard de Peasemore, who held the main manor, built a chapel with a cemetery, which was dedicated by Osmund Bishop of Salisbury. In 1104–5 it would seem that Richard desired that this should be a parish church, and he refused to pay his dues to the church of Chieveley. He was censured by the abbot, but appears to have had his way, and Peasemore has since that date been a parish. (fn. 81)
The advowson appears to have remained in the family of Richard de Peasemore, and a number of disputes respecting it between his descendants occurred in 1263, 1280, 1306, 1307 and 1308. (fn. 82) Owing to the minority of the owner the king presented in 1306, 1307 and 1308. (fn. 83)
In 1320 Richard de Abberbury sold the advowson to Simon de Norton, (fn. 84) but in 1377–8 his heir Richard purchased it again from William Lemere or Lesnier. (fn. 85) It subsequently passed with the lordship of Donnington and came in 1535 to the king, who presented in 1544. (fn. 86)
The advowson was granted in 1563–4 with the manor to John Lyford, (fn. 87) and descended with the manor, Richard Lyford presenting in 1637 and Thomas Lyford in 1678. Alienations of the right of presentation for one turn only were, however, made on several occasions. In 1632 the presentation was made by Edward Pocock, clerk, Oliver Smyth and Amos Avery, clothier, (fn. 88) and in 1680 by John Whitwick. Mary Coward, who presented in 1686, was lady of the manor, and the bishop presented in 1710, while in 1761 the presentation was made by John Archer and John Loder. The presentation was again sold, for Catherine Ready presented in 1791, George Watts, clerk, in 1801, and Thomas Hughes, clerk, in 1807; but John Archer-Houblon, the lord of the manor, presented in 1816, and the advowson has continued in his family. The present patron is Col. G. B. Archer-Houblon, the lord of the manor.
In 1291 the church was valued at £8, while the estate of the priory of Poughley in the parish was valued at £3 17s. 6d. (fn. 89)
In 1340–1 the ninths were valued at 9 marks, and it was then stated that a carucate of land belonged to the church. (fn. 90)
A chantry, known as our Lady's chantry, was suppressed at the time of the Reformation. (fn. 91)
It is stated in the Parliamentary Returns of 1786 that William Coward, by his will dated in 1739, which was proved in the registry of the Archdeacon of Berks., left £40 for the use of the poor, the payment of the interest to be made on 23 February each year (the day the testator died) 'to the world's end.' The income is duly applied.