A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1925.
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The parish of Taplow covers an area of 1,762 acres, of which 473 acres are arable land, 616 acres are laid down in permanent grass, and 322 acres consist of woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is loam, with a subsoil of chalk and gravel, which has been worked in pits near the station. Taplow quarry is mentioned in the 16th century. (fn. 2) The chief crops are wheat and oats. In the south and west, where the Thames forms the parish boundary, the land lies low, about 72 ft. above the ordnance datum, but it rises gradually northwards to a height of 296 ft. in the grounds of Cliveden House. It was stated in 1332 that a tax of 10 marks had been remitted to Taplow parish, as much corn had been destroyed by the Thames' winter flood. (fn. 3) The main line of the Great Western railway, which crosses the south portion of the parish, has a station at Taplow, three-quarters of a mile north-west of which is the village. Some remains of the old church close to Taplow Court existed in 1853, and a laburnum tree marked the position of the chancel window. (fn. 4) The foundations were discovered to have passed over a ditch with a rampart, which showed that the position had been fortified. (fn. 5) The adjacent land in front of Taplow Court is known as the Bury or Berry Fields. Quantities of pottery fragments dating from British, Roman and Saxon times were picked up on or near the surface of the old churchyard. At the west end of the churchyard is an artificial mound, upon which stood a fine old yew tree, which was blown down in a gale before the tumulus was excavated in 1883. It proved to be an Anglo-Saxon grave containing weapons, drinking horns, a bowl and jewellery of various kinds, all of which are now in the British Museum. (fn. 6) Bapsey Pond in this locality is connected by tradition with St. Birinus, afterwards first Bishop of Dorchester, who is said to have baptized his Saxon converts here.
North of the site of the old church is Taplow Court, the seat of Lord Desborough and the residence of the Hampsons in the 17th century. It was partly rebuilt and enlarged by the Earl of Orkney in the 18th century, but the old portion was restored by Mr. Grenfell in the middle of the last century. (fn. 7) It is now an imposing mansion of red brick with stone dressings in the Tudor style, and a tower at one angle, in grounds of about 200 acres, whose wooded slopes extend to the river banks. There is a large avenue of Lebanon cedars in the park. Along the road leading south to the railway line are several houses standing in their own grounds: The Elms, Springfield and Taplow House. The latter was purchased and enlarged by Mr. Pascoe Grenfell about 1794, but sold in 1839 to the Marquess of Thomond, from whom it passed to Mr. Neville Ward. (fn. 8) It is now the property and residence of Mr. W. Baring Du Pré, M.P. Further south is Berry Hill.
South of the hill is Amerden Grove with Barge Farm, and to the east of this is Amerden House, the residence of Mrs. Whitlaw. In the meadows nearer the river is Amerden Bank, standing back from the towing path near Bray Lock.
The wooded heights in the north of the parish are covered by the grounds of Cliveden House, the seat of Mr. Waldorf Astor, which stands on a high eminence overlooking the Thames and Windsor Forest. The park, which consists of about 300 acres, contains many beautiful avenues and offers varied scenery. There are many lodges, temples and pavilions in the grounds, erected for the most part in the 18th century. From the Octagon Temple, built in 1735, a yew walk leads to the river. The original house, a magnificent palace, was built by George Duke of Buckingham, (fn. 9) and was visited by John Evelyn on 23 July 1679. He describes it as 'that stupendous natural rock, wood, and prospect … buildings of extraordinary expense … the cloisters, descents, gardens, and avenue through the wood, august and stately; but the land all about wretchedly barren, and producing nothing but fern.' His chief praise was bestowed on 'a circular view to the utmost edge of the horizon, which, with the serpenting of the Thames, is admirable.' (fn. 10) The house was finished by the Earl of Orkney (fn. 11) and occupied for some time by Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of George III. It was here that Thomson about 1740 presented his 'Alfred,' a masque of Liberty, for which Dr. Arne composed the air of 'Rule Britannia.' (fn. 12) The house was destroyed by fire in 1795 (fn. 13) and rebuilt in 1830 from the design of John Shaw. (fn. 14) In 1849 it was again burnt down, and the present house was erected in 1851. (fn. 15) It is a building of three stories, with a balustraded terrace on the south front in the Palladian style, from designs by Sir Charles Barry. Above the ground story, which on the south is lighted by a row of arched windows, the elevations are treated with a large Ionic pilaster order supporting a crowning entablature surmounted by a balustrade. The design is a good example of the better type of Victorian architecture.
Taplow or Cliveden Heath, in the north of the parish, was the scene in 1689 of the race for Lord Lovelace's plate. (fn. 16) It was formerly called Taplow Wood and Green Common, and was the subject of many disputes in the 16th and 17th centuries between the lords of the manor and their tenants. (fn. 17) In 1717 the lord of the manor was presented at the court leet and court baron for ploughing up a great part of the common and fined £10. (fn. 18) In 1729 it was stated that the tenants only of certain farms had the right to pasture sheep on the common. (fn. 19) Part of the common was inclosed in 1787, and the award is with the clerk of the peace. (fn. 20)
Among place-names in Taplow occur Clystone, Tullesdene, Whaylts, (fn. 21) Short and Long Wythies, Dononedown Lane, Flexhill Furlong, Upper and Lower Ferney (fn. 22) (xvi cent.); Gurdons, Glasons, Tothills (fn. 23) (xvi–xviii cent.).
TAPLOW MANOR, which had been held by Asgot, a man of Earl Harold, was assessed at 8 hides 1 virgate in 1086 among the lands of the Bishop of Bayeux, (fn. 24) with which it passed as in Weston Turville (fn. 25) to the honour of Leicester (fn. 26) and duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 27) The claim of the officers of the duchy for 13s. 4d. from the tenant of the manor was, however, resisted in 1500, on the ground that Taplow was held neither of the king in chief nor as of his duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 28) After the Dissolution the manor was attached to the honour of Windsor, (fn. 29) the connexion being last mentioned in 1630. (fn. 30)
Holding under the bishop in 1086 was Roger, (fn. 31) who was succeeded here as in Weston Turville by the Bolbecs and Turvilles. In 1197 William de Turville and his wife Isabel subinfeudated Taplow to the Prior of Merton, (fn. 32) and their interest as intermediary lords (fn. 33) was represented in 1361 by Walter de Turpleton and Ella le Botiller. (fn. 34)
In 1252 Merton Priory obtained a grant of free warren in Taplow, (fn. 35) and its estate here was assessed at £6 10s. in 1291. (fn. 36) In 1303 additional land was acquired, (fn. 37) and the successive priors retained the property until the Dissolution, successfully resisting the attempt of the intermediary lords in 1286 to regain the ownership in fee. (fn. 38) In 1533 a twentyone years' lease of the manor (fn. 39) was made to Thomas Manfield at a rent of £13 6s. 8d., (fn. 40) and after the suppression of the monastery various leases which appear to have included the site were made to the stewards and others. William Ferror alias Turner obtained a lease in 1549, (fn. 41) Thomas Jones in 1557, (fn. 42) John Lely in 1570, (fn. 43) Richard Pickman in 1587, (fn. 44) and Richard Morgan in 1602. (fn. 45) Thomas Jones died in 1584 (fn. 46) before the expiration of his lease, and a quarrel arose between his brother and heir Matthew Jones and his nephew and residuary legatee William Price. (fn. 47) All the lessees and stewards, however, gave up their interest before 1604 to Sir Henry Guilford, (fn. 48) who in that year obtained a life grant of the stewardship of Taplow. (fn. 49) In 1610 and 1614 he was granted a lease of the site of the manor (fn. 50); it is probably the house referred to in 1616 as burnt to the ground. (fn. 51) In 1630 Taplow Manor was bestowed on Charles Harbert, (fn. 52) by whom it was sold in 1635 to Thomas Hampson, (fn. 53) Sir Henry Guilford renouncing his rights in the site and fisheries about the same date. (fn. 54) Thomas Hampson, created a baronet in 1642, suffered in the Civil War at the hands of both parties. (fn. 55) At his death in 1655 he was succeeded by his son Thomas, (fn. 56) who died in 1670, leaving a son Dennis, (fn. 57) who was sheriff for the county in 1680 and 1683 (fn. 58) and M.P. for Wycombe in 1685. (fn. 59) Dennis Hampson held Taplow until some time about 1700, (fn. 60) when he sold it to George Earl of Orkney. (fn. 61) His daughter and heir Anne Countess of Orkney married her first cousin William O'Brien, fourth Earl of Inchiquin, and succeeded to her father's estate in 1737. (fn. 62) Her daughter and heir Mary (fn. 63) Countess of Orkney succeeded her mother in 1756, and like her married her first cousin Murrough O'Brien, fifth Earl of Inchiquin, created Marquess of Thomond in 1800, (fn. 64) with whom she held Taplow till her death in 1791. (fn. 65) The Marquess of Thomond survived until 1808, when the family estates descended to their daughter and heir Mary Countess of Orkney, widow of the Hon. Thomas Fitz Maurice. (fn. 66) Their son John Fitz Maurice died in his mother's lifetime, and she was succeeded on her death in 1831 by her grandson Thomas John Hamilton, fifth Earl of Orkney. (fn. 67) Taplow Manor was alienated by him in 1852 to Charles Pascoe Grenfell, whose father Pascoe Grenfell, member for Great Marlow 1802–20, (fn. 68) had acquired Taplow House in 1794 (fn. 69) and died there in 1838. (fn. 70) Charles Pascoe Grenfell was succeeded in 1867 by his grandson William Henry, a minor, (fn. 71) created Lord Desborough in 1905, the present lord of the manor.
The origin of AMERDEN MANOR, held in the 16th century of the Crown as of Taplow Manor, (fn. 72) is to be found in 3 virgates 2 acres and an assart with fishing in the Thames subinfeudated in the 12th century by William Turville to William Piscator. (fn. 73) His son Stephen was called Stephen de Taplow or Stephen de Cliveden, and in 1213 did homage for his lands in Taplow to the Prior of Merton at the instance of William Turville. (fn. 74) Stephen had two sons, Geoffrey and William, between whom his estates appear to have been divided, the former obtaining the portion afterwards known as Cliveden Manor (q.v.) and the latter retaining the Amerden part. (fn. 75) William de Cliveden is mentioned in 1304 (fn. 76) and again in 1308 with his wife Alice de Mikleham. (fn. 77) He was succeeded by a son Richard living in 1347, (fn. 78) who apparently died without issue, as the property passed to another son Nicholas, whose name occurs in 1351. (fn. 79) His daughter carried it in marriage to John Goldby, (fn. 80) and their son John Goldby alienated it in 1408 to John Newenham, and after several intermediate conveyances it was obtained in 1433 by Robert Manfield. (fn. 81) This Robert Manfield apparently died in the early part of the reign of Henry VI. (fn. 82) He was succeeded by another Robert, who was master of the Mint in the reign of Henry VI, (fn. 83) obtained a grant of free warren in Taplow in 1440, (fn. 84) and was knight of the shire in 1441 and 1453. (fn. 85) He was succeeded in 1459 (fn. 86) by his son Robert, (fn. 87) called 'of Amerden,' (fn. 88) who held this estate until his death in 1500. (fn. 89) His son and heir Thomas obtained in 1513 a confirmation of the grant of free warren, (fn. 90) and his property here was assessed at £21 in 1523. (fn. 91) His name occurs several times in connexion with Taplow before 1540, (fn. 92) when he died seised of this estate, then first called Amerden Manor. (fn. 93) His son and heir Henry lived at Amerden Place, (fn. 94) which passed at his death in 1568 (fn. 95) to his son and heir another Henry. (fn. 96) He was summoned in 1581 before the Privy Council for nonconformity, (fn. 97) and his goods were seized on the same pretext in 1587. (fn. 98) In 1608 again he is described as a recusant, and his fine was bestowed on the queen's usher. (fn. 99) His son and heir Edward, afterwards Sir Edward Manfield, who inherited Amerden in 1636, (fn. 100) also suffered as a Roman Catholic, but received in that year a twelve months' travel permit within the kingdom, (fn. 101) the licence being renewed the next year. (fn. 102) In 1647, his lands, being those of a Papist, were valued at £150. (fn. 103) Sir Edward had two daughters and heirs, Mary and Dorothy, (fn. 104) who were the wives respectively of Gilbert Wells and Robert Sherborne in 1640, (fn. 105) but Amerden did not pass to them, but to another Edward Manfield holding in 1671, (fn. 106) who may have been a son of Sir Edward by a second wife. He mortgaged Amerden Manor to William Rawstone, by whose widow and son it was conveyed to trustees in 1703 to the use of Budd Wase. (fn. 107) By 1720 it had come into the possession of Sir William Scawen, who alienated it in that year to George Hamilton Earl of Orkney, (fn. 108) lord of Taplow Manor, with which it descended for over 100 years. (fn. 109) Amerden appears to have been sold by the Earl of Orkney some time about the middle of the 19th century, when he disposed of Taplow. Amerden House is now the property and residence of Mrs. Whitlaw.
CLIVEDEN, though never apparently a manor, doubtless acquired its separate entity on the division of Stephen de Cliveden's lands in the early 13th century. His son Geoffrey is mentioned in 1237 (fn. 110) and again in 1253, (fn. 111) but it appears probable that he died without issue and that Cliveden reverted to the owners of Amerden, as it reappears as Cliveden Park alias Manfield's in the possession of the Manfields in the 16th century. It was settled by Thomas Manfield, who died in 1540, on his wife Katherine. (fn. 112) In 1561 it paid a rental of £6 13s. 4d. to the Crown, (fn. 113) and was said in 1569 to contain 50 acres of wood and a house called the Lodge. (fn. 114) By 1573 there were two lodges, the old and the new, and the pasture, arable land and wood composing the park amounted to 160 acres. (fn. 115) Common of pasture in Taplow Wood Common and Green Common was claimed in 1610 in right of the park. (fn. 116)
Cliveden Park was sold by Edward Manfield about 1680 to George Villiers Duke of Buckingham, (fn. 117) but it was exempted from the Act of Settlement of 1689 enabling the trustees to sell the duke's estate in order to pay his creditors, and Edward Manfield resumed possession. (fn. 118) It passed with Amerden (q.v.) to Budd Wase in 1703, and was sold by his trustees in 1706 to William Vanhull, (fn. 119) probably agent for the Earl of Orkney, as the latter is said to have purchased it in that year. (fn. 120) It descended with Taplow (q.v.) until about 1830, when Sir George Warrender, bart., purchased it, (fn. 121) but sold it about 1848 to the Duke of Sutherland. (fn. 122) It was the property of his widow in 1862, (fn. 123) but was afterwards acquired by the Duke of Westminster, from whom it was bought about 1890 by Mr. William W. Astor, father of Mr. Waldorf Astor, M.P., the present owner.
Many references occur to water-mills in Taplow, and two were on William Turville's estate in 1194. (fn. 124) They passed to Merton Priory, which in 1213 granted Stephen de Taplow, the tenant, wood to repair them. (fn. 125) Geoffrey son of Stephen unsuccessfully claimed this right in 1237. (fn. 126) In 1304 William de Cliveden received licence to alienate in mortmain to the priory three mills in Taplow, (fn. 127) and in 1315 the priory leased to John the Dyer a fulling-mill in Taplow with two islands for 40s. a year, as his father had had before him. (fn. 128) The fulling-mill was demised to John Holderness in 1523 for twenty years at a rent of £8 10s., (fn. 129) and in 1544 to John Rye for twentyone years at £11 with the barges and islands called 'Teynterett, Assheyte, Gladmansett and Normansett.' (fn. 130) The grant was probably ineffectual, as late in that year Jane Holderness, widow, and her son Roger received a twenty-one years' lease of the same at a rent of £8 10s. and 50s. increase for the repair of Windsor Castle. (fn. 131) In 1580 Roger Holderness renewed the lease for forty-one years, (fn. 132) but gave up his interest before 1605 to Sir Henry Guilford, steward of Taplow Manor. (fn. 133) A lease of the mill and islands was granted in 1609 to Francis Philipps and Edward Ferrers. (fn. 134) In 1613, when Henry Manfield of Amerden attempted to set up an overshot mill, the damage to the fulling-mill was estimated at £10 per annum. (fn. 135) In 1621 and again in 1622 Widow Phipp was summoned to repair the mill gate and fence bordering the mill lane. (fn. 136) During the 17th century the mill is constantly mentioned, (fn. 137) and from the end of this century to the 19th century three mills in Taplow are given. (fn. 138) A corn-mill was leased in 1698 to Joseph Darvell for £60 a year and the site of the mill and orchard for £20. (fn. 139) In 1709 Mr. Norris of Taplow obtained a fifty years' lease of a mill at £40 rent. (fn. 140) Towards the end of the century the corn-mills were held by two tenants, one of whom paid £8 6s. 6d. in rates for his share. (fn. 141) A twenty-one years' lease of the Mill Place and the old mill at Taplow, the cotton manufactory, was made in 1803 to Joseph Wise, cotton manufacturer, at £77 yearly. (fn. 142) There is a paper-mill in Taplow at the present day.
There is a solitary mention in the 16th century of land belonging to the Manfields, late Mr. Whitten's, called the 'maner of Rayes,' (fn. 143) and there is afterwards attached to Amerden Manor Ray Mill, said to be a water-mill in 1671 (fn. 144) but a windmill in 1720. (fn. 145)
The right of free fishing in the Thames was an important adjunct to the Taplow manors. In 1086 1,000 eels from the fisheries are mentioned under Taplow Manor. (fn. 146) In 1297 Edward I ordered all the kiddles to be removed from the Thames, (fn. 147) and in 1340 several inhabitants of Taplow were summoned for removing weirs, stakes, nets and other engines of the queen's fishermen and taking fish to the value of £10. (fn. 148) In 1387 ten 'pykes' and one 'troute' priced at 11s. 7d. were illegally caught in 'Reylake.' (fn. 149) In the 17th century lengthy disputes were carried on between the queen's farmer of Cookham and Sir Henry Guilford, queen's farmer of Taplow, as to fishing rights claimed by the latter in right of Taplow Mill. (fn. 150) The right of free fishing and to a ferry across the Thames occurs among the liberties of Taplow Manor during the 18th and 19th centuries. (fn. 151) Half the fishing in the Thames between Maidenhead Bridge and Amerden Ash was claimed by the Manfields in the 16th century as pertaining to their manor of Amerden from time immemorial, (fn. 152) and in 1562 John Fisher and John Norris were ordered to pull up the stakes, piles and 'chalke' with which they had encroached upon this fishery. (fn. 153) The Manfields kept in repair a lock and weir on the river. (fn. 154) In 1674 they leased the fishing for a yearly rent of £8 and a salmon, (fn. 155) and the rights in it were afterwards obtained in 1720 by the Earl of Orkney. (fn. 156)
In 1573 Henry Manfield owned a wharf in Cliveden Park called Pages Wharf, (fn. 157) which descended with the manor, with which it was alienated in 1703 to Budd Wase. (fn. 158) Right of drawing ships and boats from Amerden Bank to Ray Mill was also among the perquisites of Amerden Manor. (fn. 159)
The right of free warren granted to the Prior of Merton and Robert Manfield respectively in 1252 (fn. 160) and 1440 (fn. 161) occurs among the liberties of the manor from the 17th to the 19th century, as does the right to hold courts leet and courts baron. (fn. 162)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS formerly stood at the west end of the village near Taplow Court. It was pulled down in 1828, when a new church was built on the present site. The new church was a plain brick building in the Gothic style of the day, to which a chancel was added in 1865. In 1912, however, it was rebuilt in stone in the style of the 14th century.
The font stands upon a base of Purbeck marble of the 12th century, while in the north transept is some 17th-century panelling from the former church. Several interesting brasses have also been preserved and are now placed at the east end of the nave. The finest of these is that to Nichole de Aumberdene, which probably dates from the middle of the 14th century. The design consists of a cross with a foiled and floreated open head and a plain tall stem with a moulded base standing upon a dolphin. In the open head is a bearded figure in civil costume, and beneath the cross is inscribed, 'Nichole de Aumberdene jadis pessoner de Londres gist icy: dieu de salme eit mercy amen.' (fn. 163)
Of the brasses to the Manfield family, Robert Manfield, who obtained the estate of Amerden in 1433, (fn. 164) is probably commemorated by a palimpsest inscription in Roman characters, evidently composed or reinscribed in the late 16th century. This is in Latin hexameters and runs as follows:—
'Conditur hic Miles Robertus nomine Manfelde
Aulicus effulgens Henrici tempore quinti
Qui varios subiit sum[m]o pro rege labores
Dum Gallos et Normannos per bella domabat
Armiger ac quartus H. pro tutamine sexti
Extitit electus dum mors in funera traxit.'
On the back, as appears from a rubbing now in possession of the Society of Antiquaries, is part of a male figure in the civil costume of the 15th century. His son Robert Manfield is probably the subject of the following inscription on marginal plates, now set in six lines on the same slab:—
'Roberti Manfyld corpus tegit iste lapillus
Spiritus in celum querit adire deum
Rex cristus capiat hunc post s'vicia regū
H (?) quinti sexti scandere regna poli
Aprilis quarto nonas 1 et m sociatis
C quater et nono tollitur e medio.'
This tortuously expressed date is apparently intended to mean 1459. On the same slab are also set an inscription in Roman letters commemorating Robert Manfield, the son of the preceding Robert, who died in 1500, and Jane daughter of Peter Fettiplace, his wife, who died in 1512, and six shields with arms of the Manfield family. A brass with three figures commemorates three children, probably of the Robert Manfield who died in 1459, Richard 'sone and Eyre,' who died in 1455 at the age of nineteen, his sister Isobelle, and 'yong John his brother be the seconde wyfe.' From the mouths of the figures issue scrolls inscribed with prayers in English, while above are two shields and below one shield and four indents. The remaining brasses to members of the Manfield family are to Thomas Manfield, who died in 1540, and his first wife Agnes, to Henry Manfield his son, who died in 1568, to his wife Jane daughter of John Lovelace, who died in 1584, and to Hester Manfield, wife of Henry son of the preceding Henry Manfield, who died in 1617. The inscription of the first-named brass, which rubbings now in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries show to be palimpsest, is in black letter and states that Agnes was one of the daughters and heirs of John Trewonwall of Molash in the county of Kent, and asks prayers for the prosperity of Katherine, 'now lefte wedow of ye sayde Tho[ma]s manfelde.' Above the inscription is the figure of Thomas Manfield wearing armour of the period, with those of his two wives on either side, and there are also three shields of arms with the indents of two shields now gone. The brass of Hester Manfield bears an inscription, partly in black letter and partly in Roman characters, stating that she 'died in the Catholique Romane faith in wch shee lyved,' and concludes with an anagram upon her name. Besides these there are also brasses to Thomas Jones, who died in 1584, and to Ursula his wife, the date of whose death is not given, on which it is recorded that she had been imprisoned for her faith. This last brass is also palimpsest.
There was formerly a ring of three bells, all by Thomas Mears, but in 1913 these were recast into one tenor bell. There is also an undated sanctus bell, said to have been previously a clock bell at Cliveden.
Taplow Church was bestowed upon Merton Priory at the same time as the manor, (fn. 165) but a claim to the advowson was made in 1271 by the Prior of Chalcombe and the intermediary lords. (fn. 166) A few years later there was trouble with Missenden Abbey, which as the result of a suit with the rector of Taplow was allotted a pension in Taplow Church to which it had no right. (fn. 167) The church was assessed at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291 (fn. 168) and united to that of Hitcham in 1517. (fn. 169) It was retained by the priory until the Dissolution, (fn. 170) when it was assessed at £12 9s. 4d. (fn. 171) It then escheated to the Crown, by whom the patronage was exercised until late in the 19th century, (fn. 172) when it passed to the Bishop of Oxford, the present patron.
In 1867 John Ashford, by will proved at London 10 April, bequeathed a legacy, now represented by £618 9s. 4d. consols, the dividends, amounting to £15 9s., being applicable in the distribution among old men and women of fuel, clothes, meat or bread under the title of the Ashford and Moore charity.
The poor's allotment consists of 3 acres situate on the south-east part of Taplow Great Common, acquired under an inclosure award of 8 February 1787, upon which six cottages have been erected of the annual letting value of £36 4s., of which £20 a year is contributed to the Taplow coal and clothes clubs and £4 to the Dropmore coal club, the remainder being expended in rates and upkeep of the cottages, &c.