A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1925.
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The parish of Dorney covers an area of 1,133 acres, of which 675 are arable land and 279 acres are laid down in permanent grass. (fn. 1) The soil is light with a subsoil of gravel and the chief crops are cereals, peas and beans. The land is flat and low-lying and is about 70 ft. above the ordnance datum. It is watered by Roundmoor Ditch, which forms the eastern boundary, and by a small stream which rises at Lot's Hole north of the village and flowing south past the church falls into Cress Brook. The southwestern boundary of the parish is formed by the River Thames.
The village, which lies on either side of the main road through the parish, contains a number of cottages, mostly of timber and brickwork, which date from the 17th century, but are all much restored. The vicarage at the west end of the village, originally a 17th-century timber-framed house, was enlarged and refaced with brickwork in the 18th century and further enlarged in the 19th century. A fair amount of the original timber construction still remains.
Dorney Court, the seat of Major C. H. D. Palmer, standing near the church to the west of the village, is a picturesque building of the early Tudor period. It was built about 1510, partly rebuilt in the 18th century, and has recently been conservatively restored. It is built on an L-shaped plan with wings running north and west. In the south-west block is a small courtyard surrounded by offices. A considerable portion of this block is of the 18th century or modern, and in the re-entering angle on the north there is a modern addition. Externally the walls of the older parts are in places timber framed with an infilling of thin bricks. Part of the framing and a few features including the oriel window on the east side come from another building. In the west wing of the L-shaped block is the great hall retaining its dais, screens and its original timber roof, the arched trusses of which spring from moulded brackets and are connected by curved wind-braces. The 15th-century stone fireplace is not in situ, and the panelling is said to come from Faversham Abbey. The original timber construction is visible in many places throughout the house and a good many original features, such as fireplace, panellings, &c., remain, while other old fittings have been brought from other houses.
On the opposite side of the road is Dorney House, the residence of Lieut.-Col. William Butler Ferris. At the eastern extremity of the village the road crosses Dorney Common, on the edges of which are Court Farm, Pigeonhouse Farm and the Manor Farm. The common is partly in the liberty of Boveney and is intersected by roads and footpaths leading to Boveney and Eton Wick.
Among the place-names which occur on documents referring to Dorney is Duning's Close in the 17th century, which was charged to provide a rail for Dorney churchyard. (fn. 2)
DORNEY MANOR, which had been held by Aldred, a man of Earl Morcar, was assessed at 3 hides in 1086 among the lands of Miles Crispin. (fn. 3) These lands were afterwards united with those of Robert Doyley to form the honour of Wallingford, (fn. 4) to which Dorney remained attached at least as late as 1540. (fn. 5)
Holding under Miles Crispin in 1086 was Ralf, (fn. 6) who with Roger was also tenant of Crispin in Little Marlow. Dorney descended with his portion of Little Marlow called Danvers Manor (q.v.) until somewhere near the late 13th century. By alienation or marriage the manor had come by 1300 to William Cave, (fn. 7) who held it until his death in 1305, (fn. 8) when he was succeeded by his son Nicholas, aged fourteen, (fn. 9) who proved his age in 1312 (fn. 10) and received seisin of his father's lands. (fn. 11) He remained in possession of Dorney until some time after 1348. (fn. 12) The name of Richard Cave occurs as witness to a charter in Dorney of 1354, (fn. 13) and he was pardoned in 1358 for the death of Robert Bygaunt, (fn. 14) but there is no further trace of this family in Dorney. It may have terminated in an heiress Elizabeth, who with her husband Thomas Parker held the manor in 1371 (fn. 15) and alienated it in 1373 to Nicholas Newnham. (fn. 16) In 1379 this family was represented by Clemencia Newnham, (fn. 17) who with her husband John Paraunt made a settlement of it in 1391. (fn. 18) There is mention about this date of John Newnham of Dorney Manor, (fn. 19) but the Paraunts appear to have had a daughter and heir Elizabeth the wife of Thomas Carbonell, with whom she joined in 1430 to convey Dorney to Thomas Scott, citizen and baker of London. (fn. 20) Thomas Scott held the manor till his death in 1470, (fn. 21) when he left his capital messuage in Dorney to his wife Edith. (fn. 22) On her death five years later Edith bequeathed Dorney to their son John Scott, (fn. 23) who was in possession in 1490, (fn. 24) and settled the manor on himself and his wife Margaret with reversion to his son and heir John. (fn. 25) On the death of the son without issue in his father's lifetime the latter sold the reversion to Richard Restwold and died in 1505, (fn. 26) the manor then passing apparently to the Lyttons, to whom Restwold is said to have transferred the reversion. (fn. 27) Thomas Lytton was called lord of Dorney Manor in 1511, (fn. 28) but by some means unknown Sir Reynold Bray, who died in 1503, (fn. 29) appears to have had a claim to the manorial rights, as his niece, Margaret wife of William Lord Sandys, and his nephew Edmund Bray (fn. 30) quarrelled in 1510 as to the ownership of the manor, Bray basing his right on Sir Reynold's will dated 4 August 1503. (fn. 31) The manor was allotted to Bray, (fn. 32) and must have been alienated by him either in 1529 with Boveney in Burnham (q.v.) or else a little earlier to Richard Hill, against whom Robert Fitz Water of London, tailor, brought an action as cousin and heir of John Scott to recover the titledeeds. (fn. 33) Richard Hill was lord of Dorney in 1530, (fn. 34) when he was accused by Thomas Woodford and others, inhabitants of Dorney, of having together with other ' ill-disposed and myschievous persons' inclosed Dorney Wood with great hedges quickset and deep ditches and built a house in the wood wherein 'divers arrant theves' resorted with his consent and stole sheep and robbed travellers. He was also said to have cut off the legs of their cattle. Richard Hill denied that the woods were ever common and said they had always been held in severalty by the owners of Dorney and Boveney Manors. (fn. 35) The bad feeling between Hill and Woodford culminated five years later in a quarrel over a 'great oke tree,' over 200 years old, growing on Dorney Green in Dorney Manor, which was cut down by Woodford and his servants 'in maner of warre arrayde.' Hill's servants dragged the tree to Dorney manor-place, whereupon Woodford in most cruel and unlawful manner sent to a 'mynstrell called a taberer' to take his taber and to go 'pypyng into the seyd maner place.' The minstrel refused, but Woodford's servants dragged the tree out of the yard, and he himself 'daily doth bayte, hunte and chace with dogge' the cattle of Richard Hill. More amicable relations were not encouraged by Woodford placing some of Hill's servants in the 'stokkys,' but Woodford defended his conduct by declaring that at a court held by the steward of the honour of Wallingford in Buckinghamshire fifteen honest men found Dorney to be a royal manor and that the green was therefore common, as waste grounds, to the tenants dwelling near by. (fn. 36) At his death in 1540 Richard Hill was succeeded by his son James, (fn. 37) who in 1542 sold Dorney to William Garrard, (fn. 38) afterwards Lord Mayor of London. (fn. 39) He held the manor (fn. 40) until his death in 1571, when he was succeeded by his son and heir William, (fn. 41) afterwards knighted, to whom William Lord Sandys, great-grandson of the claimant of 1510. (fn. 42) renounced his rights in 1576. (fn. 43) Sir William Garrard held Dorney (fn. 44) until his death in 1607, (fn. 45) having settled it on his wife Elizabeth for life with reversion to their son and heir Thomas. (fn. 46) Arrangements were made in 1609 whereby Elizabeth Garrard gave up her manorial rights in return for a fixed payment, 100 loads of wood and the use of the manor-house. (fn. 47) Thomas Garrard had married Dorothy daughter of Sir William Clarke of Hitcham (q.v.), against the wish of his father, who by his will forgave his son's 'unkind disobedience' and says that his wife will reward Thomas and Dorothy if they alter their 'untaymed courses of undutifull cariage' towards her. (fn. 48) Thomas Garrard had occasion to regret his obstinacy. (fn. 49) The father and daughter combined to thrust him out of his inheritance, called him rogue and rascal, and refused to admit him into Weston, Sir William Clarke's house in Hitcham. When he called there his wife sent him a message 'that if he lay in the streets and starved, he should not have a groat for his releife of her.' In 1616 Thomas Garrard brought an action to recover the estate and to prevent the further waste and destruction of the woods, and stated that he was willing to receive his wife, though she had led 'a kind of eloped life' for six years. (fn. 50) Their family troubles were doubtless the cause of the sale of Dorney by Thomas Garrard and his brothers in 1624 to Thomas and Richard Palmer, (fn. 51) who appear to have been acting as trustees for James Palmer, (fn. 52) third son of Sir Thomas Palmer, bart., of Wingham (fn. 53) and brother-in-law of the Garrards. (fn. 54) James afterwards Sir James Palmer, (fn. 55) who was a gentleman of the king's bedchamber and chancellor of the order of the Garter, (fn. 56) suffered during the Civil War, as did the rest of his family. His goods at Dorney were seized in 1646, though rescued by a party of soldiers from Windsor, and Parliamentary troops broke down a partition in his house, hoping to find money. (fn. 57) He died in 1657 before the Restoration, (fn. 58) and was succeeded by his son Sir Philip Palmer, (fn. 59) who in 1672 settled the manor on his son and heir Roger. (fn. 60) The latter and other sons, however, dying in their father's lifetime, (fn. 61) Dorney passed on Sir Philip's death in 1683 to his fourth son Charles. (fn. 62) Charles died in 1712 and was succeeded by his son another Charles, who in 1723 became a baronet on the failure of the line of the Palmers of Wingham. (fn. 63) Sir Charles Palmer died in 1773 (fn. 64) and his son Charles having predeceased him, (fn. 65) Dorney descended to his grandson Charles Harcourt Palmer, (fn. 66) through whom it has come to his great-grandson Maj. C. H. D. Palmer, (fn. 67) the present owner.
The church of ST. JAMES consists of a chancel 17 ft. square, north chapel 16 ft. 6 in. by 10 ft., nave 38 ft. by about 19 ft., south porch, and west tower 12 ft. square, all these dimensions being internal.
The chancel and nave date from the 12th century, the tower was built about 1540, and the north or Garrard chapel and the porch were added in the 17th century. The chancel and nave, which have been coated with cement, are built of clunch, the tower of brick with stone, dressings, the chapel and porch of brick and stone, and the roofs are tiled. In the 19th century the building was restored.
The chancel has an 18th-century east window of three pointed lights. On the south side there is a 13thcentury blocked doorway, above which on the outside of the wall may be seen the remains of one side of a plain 12th-century round-headed window. To the east of this is a two-light pointed window of late 13thcentury date, the rear arch of which has been widened and the sill brought down so as to form a sedile. Further east in the usual position is a 14th-century piscina with a two-centred head. At the west end of the south wall is a low side window having an ogee head and pierced spandrels. Opposite to it in the north wall is another low side window, originally of the 14th century, but very much restored. The mid-14th-century chancel arch is of two moulded orders, the inner one of which springs from semioctagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases, one base being cut away.
The Garrard or north chapel is entered from the chancel by a re-set 14th-century arch considerably repaired, in which is a pair of 17th-century doors having plain panelling below, and open balusters above. The east and west walls of the chapel have each a 17th-century window of three lights under a square head, and above in the north wall is a partly blocked window of the same period; the stone work of these windows is in a bad state and has all been made good with cement.
In the north wall of the nave there is a blocked doorway with a pointed head, and in the south wall near the west end is a restored single-light window of the 13th century. The other windows of the nave and the south doorway, with the exception of the rear arch, are modern. At the west end is a gallery supported on four posts; the front bears the inscription 'Henry Felo, 1634'; it has 17th-century balusters in the front, in the back and on the gate at the top of the stairs.
The tower, which has a plinth of pudding stone and flint, is of two stages with an embattled parapet and a projecting stair turret on the south. The tower arch is of two orders, and has traces of painting on the north jamb. The west doorway is much restored, and the three-light window above it has practically been entirely renewed. The bell-chamber windows are original and are each of two lights with an uncusped head. There is an old door in the west doorway, and another in the doorway to the stair turret.
The hexagonal pulpit, recently brought from another church, is of mid-17th-century date. The sides have inlaid panels in two heights. On the north wall of the chancel is a large monument to Jane daughter of Sir James Palmer, kt., 'gentleman usher to Charles I and chancellor of the order of the Garter,' who died in 1663, and in the north chapel is another mural monument with alabaster figures of Sir William Garrard, who died in 1607, in armour, and Elizabeth his wife; in the base are the kneeling figures of seven sons and eight daughters, five of whom hold skulls; above each child is a shield and in the pediment, which is supported on marble columns, is an inscription with arms and a crest. The lower part of the late 15th-century rood screen, which was on the east wall of the chancel, has recently been replaced in its original position; the panels have trefoiled ogee heads and tracery. Across the nave at the west is another screen which includes some 17thcentury work. In the chancel, probably brought from elsewhere, there is a 15th-century traceried seat front with a moulded standard, and in the nave are several 16th-century benches.
There are four bells: the treble by William Eldridge, 1698; the second by Ellis Knight, 1631, inscribed 'Prayes the Lord'; the third by Joseph Carter, 1582, inscribed 'Blecced be the name of the Lorde,' and the tenor by Thomas Swain, 1771.
The registers begin in 1538. (fn. 68)
The church of Dorney is mentioned about 1218 as appurtenant to Dorney Manor, (fn. 69) and the patronage was exercised by the Danvers as lords of Dorney during the 13th century. (fn. 70) In 1275 the Prior of Marlow attempted to seize the advowson from William Danvers, (fn. 71) but without success, and William son and heir of the said William Danvers alienated it to Ralph de Ivinghoe, (fn. 72) by whom the right was conveyed to John de la Bere of Wargrave. (fn. 73) The latter had some trouble in establishing his claim in 1306, (fn. 74) and by 1308 the patronage had passed to John de la Lude, (fn. 75) who in 1338 alienated it in mortmain to Burnham Abbey. (fn. 76) The grant was confirmed in 1401 by Henry VI, (fn. 77) and the abbesses continued to present to the church until the Dissolution. (fn. 78) In 1553 Edward VI bestowed the advowson on William Earl of Pembroke, to hold as of the manor of East Greenwich in free socage, (fn. 79) but William Garrard, lord of Dorney Manor, presented to the church in the following year, (fn. 80) since which date the advowson has descended with the manor (fn. 81) (q.v.), the present patron being Major Palmer.
A vicarage had been instituted in Dorney Church as early as c. 1218, (fn. 82) and the rectorial tithes were enjoyed by the Danvers and their successors in the patronage until the appropriation of the church in 1338 to Burnham Abbey. (fn. 83) John Newnham, lord of Dorney Manor towards the end of the 14th century, probably thought he would revive the old right and carried off by force the greater part of the tithes to his manor-house, as also the abbess's carts and horses. (fn. 84) The church was assessed at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 85) but was said to be worth 60 marks in 1396. (fn. 86) In 1535 it was assessed at £8 13s. 4d., (fn. 87) of which the abbey took £5 in rectorial tithes, paying a pension of £2 13s. 4d. to the vicar. (fn. 88) In 1544 the tithes were demised to William Tildesley, and in 1564 Richard Clough received a forty years' lease. (fn. 89) The rectorial tithes were acquired before 1605 by Sir William Garrard, (fn. 90) lord of Dorney Manor (q.v.), but appear to have been alienated by the Garrards about thirty years later. (fn. 91) In 1616 depositions were taken regarding tithes in Dorney and Boveney, when it was stated that all land in Dorney paid tithe to the lady of the manor, but that the king's farmer of Burnham Abbey Manor took the tithe of corn and hay in Dorney and Boveney. (fn. 92)
In 1638, when Sir John Parsons was rector, a petition was sent to the king by the vicar, William Flood, to prevent the grubbing up of coppice woods which paid tithe to the vicar and their conversion into arable land, the corn on which paid tithe to the rector, by which the value of the vicarage, formerly worth £25, had greatly decreased. (fn. 93) Sir John Parsons still owned the rectorial rights in 1649, (fn. 94) but in 1691 and 1699 conveyances were made of the rectory by William Turvill to the Whitfields. (fn. 95) In 1796 Arthur Eglinton and his wife Sarah owned the rectory, (fn. 96) but by the beginning of the 19th century it had passed to the Palmers, (fn. 97) lords of the manor (q.v.), with which it is still held.
In 1505 John Scott, lord of Dorney, gave some lands to William son and heir of Thomas Windsor to found a chantry in Dorney Church, (fn. 98) to the intent to find a priest to sing for the same John Scott's soul. (fn. 99) Lord Windsor, a descendant of William Windsor, was said in 1535 to appoint the priest, then Thomas Buck, and pay him a salary of £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 100) Thomas Buck died in 1538, leaving legacies to the rood and St. James's light, (fn. 101) and his successor John Moundy was turned out at the suppression of the chantries. (fn. 102) The chantry was then worth 10s. and the priest lived in a house worth 10s. His salary had been reduced to 40s. or 50s., and had not been paid during the preceding three years. (fn. 103) In 1588 the chantry was bestowed in free socage to hold for 6s. 8d. a year on Walter Coppinger and Thomas Butler. (fn. 104)
Mrs. Elizabeth Sedding, as appears from a tablet in the church, gave £250 11s. 2d. reduced 3 per cent. annuities by her will dated 29 May 1810 to the poor of this parish for ever. A further gift of £200 was made by Mrs. Parker Sedding on 8 May 1830, the trust fund of the two charities being now represented by £652 15s. 7d. consols with the official trustees. The annual dividends, amounting to £16 6s. 4d., are in pursuance of a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 24 September 1912 applied in relief to the poor of the parish with preference to widows.