A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1925.
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Datchet is a low-lying parish sloping on the southwest towards the River Thames, whose mid-stream here forms the boundary between Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. The land in the neighbourhood of the river is only 56 ft. above ordnance datum and is liable to inundation. The area of Datchet is 1,385 acres, including 497 acres of arable land, 638 of permanent grass and 18 of woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is very fertile loam, the subsoil gravel, while the chief crops raised are wheat, oats and barley. The village is prettily situated on the main road in the west of the parish, opposite Windsor Castle, and on the left bank of the Thames, which is here spanned by two modern iron bridges, the Victoria and the Albert. The church stands in the centre of the village, near Datchet House, with the vicarage to the north of it. Leigh House, the residence of the Lady Mabel Cholmondeley, is further to the east. The Manor House, opposite the church, is a timber-framed house of the latter part of the 16th century. It retains a good deal of its original fittings, but has been much restored and is now divided into two houses. On the west side of the churchyard is the Royal Stag Inn, a 17th-century building of timber and brick, and at the opposite end of the churchyard is a house of the same date with a painted and plastered front. Noticeable in the village are a drinking fountain and trough, presented in 1886 by Lady Georgiana Needham, and a stone cross, 25 ft. high, erected in commemoration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 by Mrs. John Crake. Near the station, which is on the Windsor branch of the London and South Western railway, is an endowed Baptist chapel, built in 1841. (fn. 2) North-east of the village, approached from the Slough road, is Riding Court Farm, a 17th-century house refaced with modern brick and containing several rooms with 17th-century panelling; further north of the same road are the Slough Water Works. The cemetery, south of the Ditton road, covers 2 acres of land and was given in 1896 by the late Dowager Duchess of Buccleugh. In it is a chapel used for divine service. Southlea, bounded on the south and west by the Thames, is mentioned in the 13th century as being in this parish, (fn. 3) and Southlea Farm, near the Albert Bridge, still marks its position. In the same vicinity are the remains of the estate formerly held here by the priory of St. Helen. Datchet has long been known as a resort for anglers. In the 17th century Sir Henry Wotton, Provost of Eton, built a fishing-house about a mile above the village, where he was often visited by his friend Izaak Walton. (fn. 4) The painter Verrio later built a summer-house on the site of Wotton's house, where Charles II was in the habit of coming as Pope has pictured him:—
And see he now doth up from Datchet come, Laden, with spoils of slaughter'd gudgeons, home.' This house has long been destroyed, but the place (known as the Black Pots) is still a favourite fishing pool. (fn. 5)
Datchet Mead, on the opposite side of the river and in the parish of Windsor, is associated with Falstaff's adventures in the Merry Wives and with the horse races founded by Charles II. (fn. 6) The road from London via Datchet Ferry has had an important history as furnishing a short route from London to Windsor Castle, and was frequently used by royal personages and others. In the privy purse expenses of Elizabeth wife of Henry VII two payments are entered to the ferryman of Datchet in 1502. (fn. 7) Ashmole, describing a grand procession of the order of the Garter on 22 April 1520, states that the queen (Catherine of Arragon) and her ladies, after seeing the procession pass from the field at the end of Colnbrook, 'rode to the fery next way to the castle.' (fn. 8) In 1522 payments are entered in the household expenses of the Princess Mary for taking her across the ferry, and between the years 1530 and 1532 similar items occur in the privy purse expenses of Henry VIII. (fn. 9) In September 1594 six persons were accidentally drowned at Datchet Ferry, as appears from the register of Windsor, in which parish they were buried. (fn. 10)
The ferry tolls were claimed by the lord of the manor. (fn. 11) The money for 'a great barge' was originally provided by the Crown in 1278, (fn. 12) and in the next century Sir William de Moleyns was dispossessed of the tolls by the king's ministers. (fn. 13) His widow Margery in 1387 asserted the manorial rights and obtained an inquiry into the matter. (fn. 14) The Crown granted various leases of the ferry during the 15th century. (fn. 15) It was included in the Harbord grant of 1631, (fn. 16) and so passed to the Wheeler family with the manor. Tighe and Davis state that Colonel Wheeler sold it to William III. (fn. 17) The Treasury accounts show that this was before 1700. (fn. 18) A public bridge free of toll was erected in 1706 and the ferry was in consequence discontinued. (fn. 19) The bridge was replaced about 1770 by a wooden one of ten arches resting on stone piers. This bridge partially fell in and became impassable in 1795, (fn. 20) when the Crown provided a temporary ferry. It was thought that Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, whose interests were chiefly affected, ought to contribute to the erection and maintenance of a new bridge. Each county tried to fix on the other the burden, which had been previously borne by the Crown, and much litigation ensued. A curious structure was erected in 1811, built half of wood by Buckinghamshire and half of iron by Berkshire. (fn. 21) This was replaced by the Victoria Bridge in 1851. At the same time the Albert Bridge was built to keep pace with the increasing traffic. (fn. 22) Both counties bore their share in the expense of erecting these bridges and mutually contribute to the cost of maintaining them.
In the parish register of Datchet there is a reference to the plague of 1603, known as one of the great plagues. (fn. 23)
Among notable residents in this parish may be mentioned Isaac Penington, the Puritan and religious writer, who occasionally lived here before settling down at Chalfont St. Peter in 1658. (fn. 24) In 1780 Richard Clark the musician was born in Datchet. (fn. 25) William Herschel also was living there with his sister in 1782 (fn. 26) in a large dilapidated house. (fn. 27)
Prehistoric antiquities have been found in the parish. (fn. 28)
Datchet was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1810. (fn. 29)
The following place-names have been found: Gatebruge, Gateweye (fn. 30) (xiii cent.); Balmerescroft, Bousemed, Chelt. Wilbaldesham, (fn. 31) Dodeshangre, Grunbardeslol, Wateryhale, (fn. 32) Skynnerslane, (fn. 33) Sondermeade or Sumpter Mead (fn. 34) (xiv cent.); the Forty Common (fn. 35) (xix cent.). References to the Fleet Meadow (fn. 36) and lands in the Well or Welly (fn. 37) have been found from the 15th century.
The earliest mention of Datchet occurs between 990 and 994, when King Ethelred made some small grants of land here. (fn. 38) In 1086 DATCHET MANOR was held of the king in chief by Giles de Pinkney. (fn. 39) It formed a knight's fee (fn. 40) of the barony of Pinkney (the caput of which was at Weedon, Northants), (fn. 41) and owed ward to Windsor Castle (fn. 42) of two armed footmen for forty days in time of war. (fn. 43) In 1335 the Crown made a fresh grant of the manor for the service of a rose yearly. (fn. 44) This grant was renewed in 1337 'quit of the service of 2 marks to the castle of Windsor.' (fn. 45) References to it occur in 1346 and 1381. (fn. 46) In the first half of the 15th century Datchet is described as being held in socage of the king (fn. 47); later as Crown land it belonged to the honour of Windsor. (fn. 48)
Giles de Pinkney, the Domesday tenant, held 13½ hides of land in Datchet, (fn. 49) part of which is to be identified with Fulmer (q.v.). His predecessor, Seulf, a man of Earl Lewin, held 6 hides 3 virgates as one manor. (fn. 50) The Pinkney family maintained their connexion with Datchet for two centuries and a half. Gilbert grandson of Giles (fn. 51) was Sheriff of Berkshire in 1157. (fn. 52) He was assessed on his barony in 1166, (fn. 53) and a payment of 15s. is registered against his name in 1171. (fn. 54) His son Henry de Pinkney was in possession under Richard I and John and died about 1210, when his son Robert succeeded. (fn. 55) In consequence of Robert's opposition to King John his estates were seized in 1216, (fn. 56) but on the accession of Henry III he was pardoned. (fn. 57) Henry de Pinkney succeeded his father Robert, (fn. 58) and was followed in 1232 by his son Henry, (fn. 59) who married Alice sister and heir of Gerard de Lindsey. (fn. 60) He died seised of the manor of Datchet (fn. 61) before July 1254, leaving as heir his son, another Henry. (fn. 62) Robert son of Henry de Pinkney succeeded to Datchet about 1276, (fn. 63) and obtained a grant of free warren in his manor in 1294 in recognition of his services in Gascony. (fn. 64) His death occurring within two years, the manor passed to his brother Henry. (fn. 65) Some time before 1300 Henry de Pinkney granted the manor to Hugh le Despencer the elder without royal licence, for which offence Hugh received a pardon. (fn. 66) A formal release in Hugh's favour was also made in 1303 by Edmund de Pinkney. (fn. 67) Hugh continued in possession, (fn. 68) but on his banishment in 1321 Edmund de Pinkney occupied Datchet in opposition to the king's officers. (fn. 69) After the victory at Boroughbridge in 1322 (fn. 70) it took Despencer two years to be reinstated. (fn. 71) On the final downfall of Despencer in 1326 Edmund de Pinkney again entered the manor and held it for five years in opposition to Thomas Earl of Norfolk, (fn. 72) to whom it was granted as part of the forfeited lands of Hugh le Despencer. (fn. 73) Finally it was taken into the king's hands in 1331 and granted to Edmund de Pinkney for life. (fn. 74) He died in 1332, (fn. 75) and in the same year John de Moleyns received a lease of Datchet for £24 13s. 10½d. yearly. (fn. 76) Three years later William Montagu Earl of Salisbury obtained a grant of the manor, (fn. 77) and almost immediately relinquished his rights to John de Moleyns. (fn. 78) From this time the descent of Datchet Manor is the same as that of Ditton in Stoke Poges (q.v.) until 1631, (fn. 79) when it was granted by Charles I in trust to Charles afterwards Sir Charles Harbord, his surveyor-general, (fn. 80) who sold it to William Wheeler (fn. 81) whose family had been connected with Riding Court for some time. (fn. 82) He owned Datchet Manor at his death in 1649 (fn. 83) and left it to his son William, then under fifteen, with remainder to his kinsman William Wheeler of Westbury, (fn. 84) who was made a baronet in 1660. (fn. 85) No later reference to the boy William has been found, and Sir William Wheeler, bart., died without direct heir in 1666. (fn. 86) In 1678 the seven daughters of William Wheeler of Datchet had an equal claim in the manor, and of these Ann was the wife of Charles Pitcarne. (fn. 87) Andrew Pitcarne alias Wheeler, their son or grandson, owned the manor in 1680, (fn. 88) and the next year, according to Lysons, conveyed it to Budd Wase. (fn. 89) Anne, the only child of his brother and heir Henry, (fn. 90) married John Whitfield of Canterbury in 1723. (fn. 91) They were in possession of the manor in 1726, (fn. 92) and conveyed it in 1730 to John Smith and others. (fn. 93) They sold it in 1742 to John second Duke of Montagu. (fn. 94) After the death in 1790 of his son-in-law, George Earl of Cardigan, created Duke of Montagu in 1766, (fn. 95) Datchet Manor passed to the latter's daughter Elizabeth wife of Henry third Duke of Buccleugh. (fn. 96) From 1802 it follows the same descent as Ditton in Stoke Poges (fn. 97) (q.v.), and the manorial rights are now vested in John Walter Edward, second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.
Licence to make a park at Datchet and to hold a fair yearly on the feast of the Assumption, its vigil, and the day after the feast (14, 15, 16 August) was granted to John de Moleyns in 1335. (fn. 98) The last reference to this fair that has been found occurs in 1438. (fn. 99)
Another manor in the parish, that of DATCHET ST. HELEN, was owned by the priory of St. Helen, Bishopsgate. From a dispute about a meadow in 1362 there is evidence to show that this priory owned lands in Datchet in 1263. (fn. 102)
In 1538 the manor of Datchet St. Helen was farmed from the priory by Thomas Shroveller at a yearly rent of £8 7s. (fn. 103) In 1540 it was taken into the king's hands and annexed to the honour of Windsor. (fn. 104) Various leases, or reversion of leases, of this manor were granted later in the century. (fn. 105) St. Helen was included in the Harbord grant of 1631, (fn. 106) and its later descent follows that of Datchet Manor (fn. 107) (q.v.).
There was a view of frankpledge and court leet. (fn. 108)
A third manor appears in Datchet in the 14th century, that of RIDING or RUDING COURT. (fn. 109) It came to John de Moleyns through his wife Gille at the same time as Stoke Poges (fn. 110) (q.v.). He obtained a grant of free warren in Riding in 1331. (fn. 111) Riding was closely connected with Ditton in Stoke Poges and in 1340, when John de Moleyn's manors were in the king's hands, the Riding accounts are placed under those of Ditton. (fn. 112) Frequent references occur to Datchet Manor as that of Datchet with Riding. (fn. 113) It became part of the Crown lands in 1472 at the same time as the manors of Datchet and Ditton, and was farmed as the manor of Riding Court for £12 8s. 4d. yearly, as shown by the bailiff's accounts for the other manors from 1487 to 1493. (fn. 114) In later documents it is called merely Riding Court Farm in Datchet. A lease was granted in 1544 to Maurice afterwards Sir Maurice Berkeley, (fn. 115) renewals of which were obtained in 1557 and in 1576. (fn. 116) The next lessee was Richard Hanbury, who renewed in 1586. (fn. 117) He appears to have obtained a grant in fee later, and at his death in 1608 the estate passed to his daughter Elizabeth (fn. 118) wife of Sir Edmund Wheeler. (fn. 119) It was their son William who purchased Datchet Manor (fn. 120) (q.v.). One of Lysons's correspondents states that Riding Court was severed from the Wheeler estates, (fn. 121) and, after passing through various hands, was finally conveyed to John Duke of Montagu in 1742, (fn. 122) and so once more came under the same ownership as Datchet Manor.
The estate of SOUTHLEA in Datchet originated in a parcel of land belonging to the manor of Datchet St. Helen (fn. 123) and conveyed in 1583 to Christopher Barker, queen's printer, by Thomas and Dorothy Crane. (fn. 124) On Christopher's death in 1599 (fn. 125) his son Robert paid a fine of 2s. to the manor, (fn. 126) and shortly after was granted additional land on payment of 6d. (fn. 127) Southlea was mortgaged in 1620 to Bonham Norton, (fn. 128) father of Sarah wife of Robert Barker's eldest son Christopher, (fn. 129) and further mortgaged in 1627. (fn. 130) In 1631 it was sold to Richard Beringer of Iver, who conveyed it in 1639 to Thomas Willis. (fn. 131) Thomas Browne purchased this property in 1662 for £520, (fn. 132) and left it by will dated 6 December 1673 to Dr. Isaac Vossins, with reversion to Abigail only daughter of Lady Mary Heveningham. (fn. 133) Abigail married John Newton, son of Sir John Newton, bart., of Barr's Court, in 1676, (fn. 134) and before 1681 Southlea had come into their possession. (fn. 135) In 1706 they quitclaimed this property for £900 to Edward Lascelles. (fn. 136) His daughter Mary married Daniel Lascelles, (fn. 137) and through this marriage their grandson Edward, created Lord Harewood in 1796 and Earl of Harewood in 1812, (fn. 138) succeeded to the property, which he owned in 1810. (fn. 139) This estate has remained in the possession of the Earls of Harewood, (fn. 140) the present owner being Henry Ulick Lascelles, the fifth earl, who succeeded in 1892. (fn. 141)
During the 13th century the Windsor family held some land in Datchet. In 1232 Geoffrey de Cruce brought a law-suit against Robert de Pinkney, claiming the custody of Andrew son of John de Windsor. The plaintiff pleaded that his father Reginald had enfeoffed John de Windsor, the defendant that his ancestor, Henry de Pinkney, had enfeoffed John's father, Peter de Windsor. (fn. 142) A few years later Andrew de Windsor was holding part of a knight's fee of Henry de Pinkney. (fn. 143) No further connexion of the Windsors with Datchet has been traced except in 1364, when only 2 acres of land were in question. (fn. 144)
An estate in Datchet known as Fishers' Land had its origin in a purchase of 8 acres of land in 1195 by Salamon the fisherman from Walter de Raundgrave. (fn. 145) Simon, tenant under Henry de Pinkney, (fn. 146) was the son of William the Fisher, otherwise le Passour. (fn. 147) Land at Southlea was acquired by Robert son of Robert the Fisher in 1315. (fn. 148) His wife Agnes was still living in 1343 (fn. 149) and his son John in 1349. (fn. 150) In 1413 (fn. 151) and 1439 (fn. 152) William Aylwin had a claim on the land, which was sold in 1441 to William Tulle by Robert son of William Fisher. (fn. 153) It was purchased in 1448 by Roger Hunt, (fn. 154) and resold by him in 1460 to David Selby and William Est. (fn. 155)
Another small property known as Lincoln's lands can be traced to a grant in 1375 of lands and tenements in Datchet by John Milcombe and John Shepherd of Harrow to William Lincoln of Datchet. (fn. 156) Other purchases were made by William Lincoln in 1378 (fn. 157) and between the years 1389 and 1397. (fn. 158) He left his property by an indenture dated 1399 in trust for his children, John, Roger and Alice. (fn. 159) A small grant to John Lincoln was made in 1409, (fn. 160) and in 1434 he sold all his property in Datchet to John Hill and others. (fn. 161) It passed in 1447 to John Hampden and others. (fn. 162) William Wyot and his wife Elizabeth held land of Datchet Manor in 1414. (fn. 163) In 1417 Sir William Molyns granted them the farm of the manor of Henley-on-Thames for life (fn. 164) in exchange. (fn. 165) Wyot's Farm was part of the property bequeathed to Isaac Vossins in 1673. (fn. 166)
Eton College at the Dissolution owned a small rent-charge on land in Datchet. (fn. 167)
No later mention occurs of 59 acres of land in Datchet which Ankerwycke Priory claimed after the accession of Edward III on the plea that it had been wrongfully deprived by Hugh le Despencer. (fn. 168)
With the exception of the chancel, the church was entirely rebuilt in 1857–60 in the 'decorated' style. The walls of the chancel, though much restored, retain part of their original facing, but the windows and other details have been renewed. Many old monuments, however, remain. On the south wall of the chancel is a brass inscription and shield of arms to Katherine daughter of William Blount and wife of Sir Mores Berkeley, who died in 1559. A tablet on the north wall has a rectangular brass plate with the kneeling figures of Richard Hanbury, citizen and goldsmith of London, the date of whose death (1608) is not filled in, Alice his wife (d. 1593), and two daughters, one married to Sir William Combe and the other to Sir Edmond Wheler. There are also two shields of arms, and on the pediment above are the arms of London between two Tudor roses. In the chancel are mural tablets to Christopher Barker, (fn. 169) who died in 1599, and Rachel his wife, 1607; to Mary wife of Edmund Wheeler, 1626, with arms; to Hanbury Wheeler, 1633, with bust and shield of arms; and to John Wheeler, 1636, also with bust and shield and tablets to the Gore family. In the floor are slabs to Hanbury Wheeler and to Thomas Brinley, who died in 1661, auditor of revenue to Charles I and Charles II, and his father-in-law William Wase, who died in 1642. In the north aisle is a floor slab to George Cooke, who died in 1687, and Alice his wife, 1692; in the south aisle are slabs to Rose wife of Richard Budd, auditor of the king's revenue, who died in 1624, and other members of her family, and to Robert Conway, who died in 1673 (?). In the vestry is a mural tablet to Katherine, wife of John Balch, who died in 1679. Three of the stained glass windows were erected as a memorial to Albert Prince Consort.
There is a ring of five bells: the treble and third by Thomas Mears of London, dated 1795 and 1804; the second by Henry Knight, 1615; the fourth was recast in 1845 by C. & G. Mears of London, and the fifth, by Henry Knight, 1607, is inscribed, 'Sancta Johanis (sic) Ora Pro Nobis.'
The registers begin in 1559. (fn. 170)
About the middle of the 12th century Datchet Church was given to St. Albans Abbey by Gilbert de Pinkney and Eustachia his wife, (fn. 171) and confirmed by Henry de Pinkney in 1238. (fn. 172) In 1291 it was taxed with the chapel at Fulmer at £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 173) The advowson was retained by the abbey (fn. 174) until 1350, when, on condition of exemption by the Crown from the charge of a pension on the new creation of an abbot, (fn. 175) it was alienated to the Dean and canons of Windsor. (fn. 176) At the same time a licence was granted enabling them to appropriate the church, (fn. 177) and a vicarage was ordained in 1353. (fn. 178) The advowson of the vicarage has since remained in their possession. (fn. 179)
Datchet rectory, valued at £6 13s. 4d., was sold in 1659 by trustees for Parliament to William Stanbridge and Thomas Roberts. (fn. 180)
Windsor Collegiate Church regained possession after the Restoration and let the property on long leases. (fn. 181) The lessee in 1810 was John Richards, (fn. 182) who married the eldest daughter of Mrs. Arnold, a former tenant, (fn. 183) and nearly forty years later the lease remained in his family. (fn. 184)
In 1548 Richard and John Hale were trustees for the payment of a yearly rent of 5s. for nineteen years for an obit for Thomas Hethend. (fn. 185)
The Bridge House Trust was founded by Robert Barker by deed 10 February 1644 (enrolled), whereby certain lands and a tenement known as the Bridge House were conveyed to trustees in trust that the rents and profits should be applied in erecting a bridge across the street in the middle of the town over certain waters that stagnated and lay there to the great annoyance of the inhabitants. The trust was the subject of certain proceedings in Chancery in a cause wherein the attorney-general at the relation of the minister, churchwardens and overseers and others was plaintiff and Vigerius Edwards and John Meale were defendants. In the result a scheme embodied in the master's report, bearing date 25 January 1726, was confirmed. The trust is now regulated by schemes of the Charity Commissioners of 1864, 1888 and 1907. The trust property now consists of the Stag Inn, let at £170 a year, 6 a. 2 r. of land at Southlea allotted under the Inclosure Act (fn. 186) in lieu of other lands belonging to the trust, let at £40 a year, and £100 consols, arising from accumulations of income. The income is applied in lighting, in keeping in order the village greens and the church paths, and in keeping the causeways, water-courses, &c., in repair.
The Poor's Land and Money, mentioned in an inscription on a board in the parish church, received additions under the Inclosure Act above referred to, and the property now consists of 4 a. 2 r. 27 p. at Southlea and 1 a. 1 r. at Westfield, producing £27 a year, and a sum of £50 consols given by a donor unknown. The charity is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 18 October 1901.
It was also recorded on the same board that in 1767 Mary Arnold by will bequeathed £100 consols, the income to be distributed to poor housekeepers on Christmas Day; also that in 1772 Francis Marshall by will left £100 consols, the dividends to be distributed yearly on Easter Day to poor housekeepers; also that in 1785 Rosamond Marshall by will left £100 consols, the interest to be distributed among the poor.
It further appeared from the same board that Daniel Marsh gave £2 yearly to be given in bread the first Sunday in January. The annuity is payable out of a farm-house in Datchet and land in Marsh-field and is duly applied.
In 1822, as appears from a separate tablet in the church, James Randall in his lifetime gave £380 7s. consols, producing £9 10s. a year, one-third of the income to be applied in the distribution of bread, one-third in coal and one-third in money.
Edward Mason, who died in 1863, by a codicil to his will bequeathed £164 10s. consols, producing £4 2s. 3d. a year, to be distributed in bread to the poor on Christmas Day, preference to be given to those of fifty years and upwards who have not received parochial relief.
In 1839 Thomas Hancock by his will left a legacy, now represented by £58 7s. 10d. consols, the dividends, amounting to £1 9s. yearly, to be distributed to poor persons not in receipt of parochial relief.
The Vane Church of England Prize Fund, founded by a declaration of trust 27 December 1886, consists of £33 6s. 8d. consols, the dividends, amounting to 16s. 8d., to be applied in the advancement of religious education in accordance with the doctrines of the Church of England. Books are given as prizes.