A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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The parish of Horsenden lies in the south-west of the Vale of Aylesbury. The land is well watered by a small stream flowing north, that breaks into many branches near the village. It forms a small lake in the grounds of Horsenden House, and supplies the water in the moat. From the village the stream flows north to Longwick hamlet. The houses are few and scattered, and there is a good deal of wellgrown timber in the parish. The subsoil (fn. 1) is Upper Greensand, and the surface loamy. The occupation of the people is agricultural; there are 220½ acres of arable land, 252½ permanent pasture, and 9 acres of wood. (fn. 2)
Horsenden House is said to have been garrisoned in the Civil War for King Charles by Sir John Denham. (fn. 3) It was rebuilt in 1810, and shows nothing of antiquity beyond the lines of the moat.
Robert Braybrook was rector of the parish in the 14th century. He afterwards became Bishop of London, and played an important part in the struggle between Richard II and his barons. He supported severe measures against the Lollards, but also attempted to purify the precincts of St. Paul's Cathedral, denouncing those who bought and sold or played games there. He died in 1404. (fn. 4)
In the time of King Edward the Confessor, the manor of HORSENDEN was held by three socmen. (fn. 5) Two of these, holding 2 hides of land, were men of Earl Harold, and the third, with 4 hides and 3 virgates, was a man of Ingold. All of them could sell their land. After the Norman Conquest, however, this land was granted to the Count of Mortain, (fn. 6) and formed part of the honour of Mortain, but it does not seem to have followed the descent of the honour. (fn. 7) Horsenden appears to have been granted to John de Montagu, who held many of the Mortain lands. (fn. 8) He held the manor as mesne-lord in 1210, (fn. 9) but joined the barons' party against King John, and forfeited his lands in 1216. (fn. 10) A few years later this land was held of Robert de Cogfeud, (fn. 11) but the overlordship seems subsequently to have lapsed.
In 1086 the manor was held of the Count of Mortain by a tenant named Ralph. (fn. 12) He may have been the ancestor of the family who took their name from the place and held it in the 12th century. In 1210 John de Horsenden (fn. 13) granted all his land in the parish to Robert de Braybrook, the head of the Braybrook family and sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire during part of the reign of John. (fn. 14) Both he and his son and heir Henry are mentioned among the evil counsellors of John at the time of the Interdict; (fn. 15) but Henry, after his father's death, joined the barons' party, and was one of those whom the pope excommunicated by name after his reconciliation with the king. (fn. 16) Henry's lands were confiscated, and Horsenden was granted to Philip de Pery, and later to Philip Giser; (fn. 17) however, in 1217, after the battle of Lincoln, Henry made his peace with the young king, (fn. 18) and his possessions were regranted him. He held the manor in 1225, and had a long law-suit with Alice, the widow of John de Horsenden, over her dower, (fn. 19) the question not being settled till 1231. (fn. 20)
Henry was succeeded by his eldest son Wischard. (fn. 21) Walter the son of Wischard left two daughters as his heirs, and Alice the elder married Sir William Latimer. (fn. 22) He held the manor as mesne lord in 1284, (fn. 23) and his descendant, William Latimer, is mentioned in the same position in 1360. (fn. 24)
The manor was held in demesne by a younger branch of the Braybrook family. John de Braybrook, (fn. 25) the younger brother of Henry, held it after the death of his father. Gerard his son held it in 1284–6, (fn. 26) and their descendants (fn. 27) held it uninterruptedly until the male line came to an end with Sir Gerard Braybrook, who died before 1432. (fn. 28) He demised the manor to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, London, and others in 1426, (fn. 29) and in 1432 Sir William Beauchamp and Elizabeth his wife, the eldest coheiress of Sir Gerard Braybrook, (fn. 30) released all their right in the manor (fn. 31) to the Dean and Chapter. For nearly one hundred years the history of the manor is obscure: it appears to have been granted by the Dean and Chapter to John Ferity, Nicholas Wotton, Thomas Knolles, John Hampden of Kimble, and two others in 1437. (fn. 32) In 1458–9 John Brekenok of Horsenden and others (John Hampden of Kimble being again named) granted it to Sir John Leynham or Plomer. (fn. 33) Various settlements were made by him on his marriage, (fn. 34) and he was jointly seised of the manor with his wife Margaret. (fn. 35) They had no children, (fn. 36) and granted the manor to Thomas Gaune and others to hold to the use of John Morton, Bishop of Ely, Lord Hastings, Ralph Hastings, and others, (fn. 37) presumably after the death of Sir John. (fn. 38)
He died in 1480, (fn. 39) and the next year the manor was conveyed to the grantees to the uses named in the previous charter. (fn. 40) Which of these grantees had actual seisin of the manor does not appear, but early in the 16th century it came into the possession of the Donnes, probably by grant of Sir George Hastings. (fn. 41) In 1529 it was held by Sir Edward Donne, (fn. 42) but he left no son. (fn. 43) His daughter, who seems to have predeceased him, was the wife of Sir Thomas Jones, and had two daughters; Anne, who married John Cotton of Whittington, Gloucestershire, and Frances, who married Robert Lee. (fn. 44) Horsenden formed part of Anne's share of their inheritance, (fn. 45) and continued in the Cotton family. It was held successively by Richard, (fn. 46) William, (fn. 47) and Ralph, (fn. 48) the sons of John and Anne.
Ralph, who matriculated at Hart Hall, Oxford, in 1572, and entered at the Inner Temple in 1580, (fn. 49) married Apolina Childe. (fn. 50) His only son, Don, died in his lifetime, (fn. 51) leaving two daughters Anne and Apolina, who thus became their grandfather's heiresses. (fn. 52) Anne, to whose share Horsenden fell, married Sir John Denham, (fn. 53) the author of Cooper's Hill, who had by her '£500 per annum, one son, and two daughters.' (fn. 54) Denham was active in the royal cause during the Civil War, and, consequently, lost his property and estates, (fn. 55) Horsenden being bought by John Fielder in 1654. (fn. 56) At the Restoration Denham seems to have recovered it, (fn. 57) for in 1662 he sold it to John Grubbe, (fn. 58) whose descendants (fn. 59) held the manor until 1841, (fn. 60) when another John Grubbe sold it to the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. The latter mortgaged it almost immediately, (fn. 61) and the holders of the mortgage, the Norwich Union Office, foreclosed and sold it in 1842 or 1843 to the Rev. William Edwards Partridge, who held it till his death in 1886. (fn. 62) The manor then passed into the possession of his daughter and heiress, Mrs. Leonard Jaques, the present owner of the manor.
On the division of the inheritance of Sir Edward Donne between his two granddaughters, (fn. 63) although the manor of Horsenden passed to the eldest, £2,000 charged on the manor appears to have been part of the share of Frances, (fn. 64) the younger heiress, the wife of Robert Lee. The debt had come by assignment to William Page of Westminster in 1654, (fn. 65) when the manor was among the lands forfeited to the Commonwealth. In order to remove this obstruction in the sale of the manor, it was said to have been sold to William Page to hold during the life of Sir John Denham, but this seems incompatible with the sale to John Fielder in the same year.
Three pieces of land in Horsenden, not granted to the Count of Mortain, are mentioned in Domesday Book. (fn. 66) The Bishop of Bayeux held 1½ hides of land there, of which the hide was held by a sub-tenant named Roger and the half hide by Robert. (fn. 67) Before the Conquest this land was all held by a man of Earl Leofwine, Godwin by name. (fn. 68)
A small tenant in chief named Harding also held 1½ hides here; he had succeeded Ulvured in the land. (fn. 69) This land must have been afterwards united to the main manor of Horsenden, since Gerard de Braybrook claimed that the whole of the township (fn. 70) belonged to his fee in 1285.
Horsenden Manor was held by military service, as one knight's fee of the honour of Mortain. (fn. 71) It is also described, however, as two-thirds of a fee or half a fee, (fn. 72) but this was only in feudal assessments, when the fees of the honour were privileged to pay less than the full amount due.
When the manor passed from John de Horsenden to Robert de Braybrook, the latter was to pay John 2s. a year for all service, except forinsec service. (fn. 73) This rent does not seem to have been continued, and the elder branch of the Braybrooks held in chief of the king. (fn. 74) The younger branch also held by military service. (fn. 75) The Cottons, however, held of the king in chief as of his honour of Wallingford by fealty and suit of court at the honour. (fn. 76) In the 14th century the free tenants of the lord of the manor of Horsenden had pannage rights for their pigs in a wood belonging to the manor of Princes Risborough. (fn. 77) In 1574 John Cotton, who then held Horsenden, took estovers in the wood of Hellworke in Princes Risborough; (fn. 78) he also paid 1 lb. of pepper as rent to the lord of Princes Risborough Manor, (fn. 79) but whether this was for his manor or for the right to take the estovers is not certain.
Gerard de Braybrook, in 1333, obtained a grant of free warren (fn. 80) to himself and his heirs in their demesne lands of Horsenden. (fn. 81) In 1285 or 1286 Gerard de Braybrook claimed the view of frankpledge in Horsenden (fn. 82) as part of his inheritance. It had, however, then been demised for a term of years, together with the manor, to Henry de Shenholt. (fn. 83) Gerard answered, however, to the Quo Warrants inquiries himself and also claimed the right to have tumbrels. He paid nothing to the king for these rights. At the time of the Domesday Survey one mill belonged to the Count of Mortain's manor in Horsenden, but it was of no value in 1086. (fn. 84) It is not mentioned again for many centuries, but when the Cottons were lords of the manor there was a water-mill appurtenant to it; (fn. 85) in 1813 two watermills are mentioned in connexion with the manors of Horsenden and Princes Risborough, one of which was probably in Horsenden. (fn. 86)
The church of ST. MICHAEL having fallen into disrepair in 1765 the old nave was pulled down, with the western tower, leaving only the chancel standing. The present church consists of the mutilated remains of the chancel 45 ft. by 20 ft., with a western tower built from the old material of the nave. It is lighted by five windows, all of the same design and of 15thcentury date, though somewhat restored. They are of three cinquefoiled lights with smaller trefoiled lights over and two-centred heads. At the west end of the south wall is the blocked opening of a squint, at one time opening into the south aisle of the old church. A description of this church is preserved in a letter addressed by Dr. Browne Willis to Mr. John Grubbe, (fn. 87) as having consisted, in 1728, of a chancel, a nave with a blocked south arcade, and an embattled tower; it extended to about as far west as the present stables of Horsenden House.
The tower is of two stages with an embattled parapet. The belfry openings are square-headed, and there is a west window of two trefoiled lights, with a plain chamfered west doorway beneath. The font is modern, octagonal, and of 15th-century detail.
The roof is modern, and also all the fittings, with the exception of the upper part of a 15th-century screen, which is planted against the west wall. It is divided into rather narrow trefoiled openings by stout chamfered mullions, and the spandrels are filled with alternating rosettes and leopards' faces.
There is only one old book of the registers, which contains baptisms from 1663 to 1809, burials from 1637, and marriages from 1707 to 1754, the latter entries being continued in a printed book from 1754 to 1841.
The advowson of the church has been held by the lords of the manor since 1210, when it passed from John de Horsenden to Robert de Braybrcok. (fn. 88) In 1660, however, the Bishop of Salisbury collated to the rectory, presumably during the forfeiture of Sir John Denham's lands. (fn. 89)