A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1925.
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The parish of Drayton Beauchamp covers an area of 1,319 acres, of which 696 are arable land, 327 permanent grass, and 22 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) It is about 5 miles long and averages less than half a mile in width. It runs in a north-westerly direction along the Hertfordshire boundary. The ground rises from 289 ft. above the ordnance datum in the south-west to 802 ft. in the north-east. The soil of the higher land is chalk with a subsoil of chalk and clay, which is worked in pits near the village. The soil of the lower land is gault. The chief crops are wheat, barley, turnips and clover.
The village, which is very small, lies about a mile from the north end of the parish, with its church at the southern extremity, and just south of it the Wendover branch of the Grand Junction Canal, now disused, crosses the parish.
In the village there are several buildings, including Manor Farm and Upper Farm, which date from the 17th century, but are all more or less restored and altered. The old manor-house stood to the southwest of Upper Farm, where there are fishponds and a homestead moat.
A branch road leads south to Akeman Street, the Roman road, off which lies Drayton Lodge, a redbrick 18th-century house standing in a park of 70 acres, the property of Major S. W. Jenney, J.P., V.D., and residence of the Rev. Walter Neame. Grim's Ditch, now only faintly visible, and the Upper and Lower Icknield Ways also cross the parish.
In the 16th century the farm or lordship of Painsend is referred to in tenure of John Payne. (fn. 2) This name still exists in the parish.
In the 17th century some field-names in Drayton Beauchamp were St. John's Field, Trinity Field, le Grove, Perkins Butts, Helsthorpe Mead. Helsthorpe, which was formerly an outlying part of Drayton Beauchamp parish, was transferred in 1886 to the parish of Wingrave. (fn. 3) A prehistoric gold coin has been found here. (fn. 4)
The manor of DRAYTON BEAUCHAMP, which had been held by Alveric, a thegn of Edward the Confessor, was assessed at 6 hides and 3 virgates in 1086 and was then held of Manno le Breton. (fn. 5) The overlordship remained vested in the Wolvertons, Manno's descendants, of whom Drayton Beauchamp was held as part of their barony of Wolverton (q.v.) and is last mentioned in 1619. (fn. 6)
The under-tenant in Domesday was Helgot, but nothing further is heard of the manor until 1225, when William de Beauchamp was in possession. (fn. 7) His right was contested in that year by Roger de Drayton, who declared that his great-grandfather Osbert had been seised of it in the reign of Henry I. (fn. 8) Roger lost his case and Drayton remained in the Beauchamp family (fn. 9) until the death of William de Beauchamp about 1312, (fn. 10) when the manor was divided between his two daughters and co-heirs Alice and Elizabeth. (fn. 11) In 1312 Alice was robbed and carried off by strangers 'to Woodegrene-ende by Agmodesham (Amersham), where by night they killed her,' (fn. 12) and her interest in the manor devolved on her sister Elizabeth, (fn. 13) whose husband, Ralph de Wedon, held in her right in 1316. (fn. 14) In 1322 a settlement of the manor was made by Ralph, whereupon the escheator took possession under the mistaken impression that it was held of the king in chief, (fn. 15) and it was not until 1328, after many petitions, that Ralph recovered seisin. (fn. 16) He still held in 1346, (fn. 17) but in 1349 William de Hynton conveyed Drayton, which he claimed by hereditary right, to Mary Countess of Norfolk, to hold jointly with her son John de Cobham. (fn. 18) The countess died in 1362, (fn. 19) and in the following year John de Cobham granted the king and his heirs the reversion of the manor, (fn. 20) 'because of the great love and good affection that he had towards the Prince, eldest son of the King.' (fn. 21) In 1364 the king granted his interest in Drayton to Thomas Cheyne, his shield bearer, (fn. 22) from whom the reversion descended to William Cheyne, probably his son, who was in possession in 1370, (fn. 23) and died in 1375 leaving a son Roger aged thirteen. (fn. 24) On the death of John de Cobham some time after 1377, (fn. 25) the manor was inherited by Roger, who entered upon the estate and married without the royal licence; his mother Joan likewise entered upon her dower lands, for which pardon was obtained by both in 1385. (fn. 26) Roger died in 1414 and was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 27) who in that year received a pardon for all past offences, (fn. 28) and who in 1430 was accused of terrorizing his neighbours. (fn. 29) He was arrested in the following year and his manors, books and papers seized, (fn. 30) being doubtless suspected of Lollardy as his brother, Thomas Cheyne of Chesham Bois, had already been convicted for heretical beliefs. (fn. 31) In 1466 John settled the manor on himself, his wife Agnes, daughter of William Lexham, and their issue, with remainder to the heirs of Roger Cheyne his father, and dying without issue in 1468, was succeeded at Drayton Beauchamp by his great-great nephew, John Cheyne of Chesham Bois, then three years old. (fn. 32) From this date until about 1728 the descent of this manor is identical with that of Chesham Bois (q.v.), (fn. 33) but after the death without issue in 1728 of William Cheyne, Viscount Newhaven, it is said to have been sold about 1730 by his representatives to John Gumley of Isleworth. (fn. 34) In 1755 it belonged to Samuel Gumley and Mary his wife. (fn. 35) It subsequently passed to Lady Robert Manners, a connexion of the Gumleys. (fn. 36) Lady Robert Manners was succeeded by her daughter, the Hon. Lucy Manners, who died in 1835, (fn. 37) leaving as heir her cousin, Caroline Frances Jenney, wife of William Jenney. Mrs. Jenney died in 1861, leaving the manor to her two sons, Arthur Henry and Stewart William Jenney. Arthur Henry died in 1894, leaving as sole lord of the manor his brother, whose son, Major Stewart William Jenney, is the present owner. (fn. 38)
The manor of HELSTHORPE was held in the reign of King Edward by four thegns, one a man of Earl Lewin, another a man of Wulwene, the third a man of Lewin of Mentmore, and the fourth a man of Brictric. (fn. 39) By 1086 it was held, together with Drayton Beauchamp Manor, of Manno le Breton by Helgot. (fn. 40) Its descent is identical with that of Drayton Beauchamp (q.v.) until 1719, when William, Viscount Newhaven, sold it to John Gore. (fn. 41) He or his son John Gore died in 1763, leaving instructions that Helsthorpe was to be sold by his executors, among them his wife Hannah and Thomas Gore. (fn. 42) His daughters Judith Towsend, widow, Anne the wife of William Mellish, Catherine wife of Joseph Mellish, and Susannah Gore, surrendered their right in the manor in 1773 to Christchurch, Oxford, (fn. 43) in order to obtain their jointure under the terms of their father's will. (fn. 44) No further mention has been found of this manor.
In 1475 John Harvey died seised of lands in Drayton Beauchamp appurtenant to the manor of Wilstone, afterwards Harveys, in Hertfordshire, and held of Elizabeth widow of Sir John Cheyne. (fn. 45) They were sold with that manor by John Harvey in 1565 to William Lake, (fn. 46) in whose family they remained until they were conveyed in 1710 to William Gore of Tring Park. (fn. 47) Before 1739 these lands, hitherto considered to be part of the Hertfordshire Harveys Manor, became known as HARVEYS MANOR in Drayton Beauchamp. (fn. 48) Though the descent of the Buckinghamshire manor is identical with that of the Hertfordshire one, it was regarded as a distinct manor, being always classed with Goldingtons Manor in Marsworth (q.v.), (fn. 49) whereas the Hertfordshire manor was held with Tring. Harveys is last mentioned as a separate manor in 1814. (fn. 50)
An estate in Drayton, afterwards called DRAYTON BEAUCHAMP MANOR, was held in the reign of King Edward in two parts of 1½ hides and 1½ hides and two-thirds of a virgate by a widow, a tenant of Brictric, and by Wiga, a man of King Edward. (fn. 51) By 1086 the overlordship of these two parts had passed to the Count of Mortain. (fn. 52) This estate remained attached to the honour of Berkhampstead, (fn. 53) last mentioned in this connexion in 1459. (fn. 54)
The tenants of the lands in 1086 were William son of Nigel and Lepsi respectively. (fn. 55) Before 1205 their holding seems to have passed to Robert Basset, whose widow Alice in that year claimed a third of the estate as dower, (fn. 56) against the heir William Basset, still living in 1249. (fn. 57)
By 1302 it had passed to Richard Basset, (fn. 58) still holding in 1311, (fn. 59) who was succeeded by his son Sir Ralph Basset of Weldon, (fn. 60) who in 1331 settled his Drayton property on Richard his son and heir on the occasion of his marriage with Nicole daughter of Sir Robert de Arderne. (fn. 61) Richard died childless (fn. 62) and was succeeded by his brother Ralph, who entered the priory of La Laund in 1367. (fn. 63) The estate in Drayton Beauchamp, which is first called a manor in 1383, (fn. 64) passed to his son and heir Ralph, (fn. 65) who died in 1385, leaving a son and heir Richard, a minor. (fn. 66) Doubts seem to have been raised as to the parentage of the latter, (fn. 67) and Sir John Knyvet, kt., and Sir John Aylesbury, kt., (fn. 68) nephews of the Ralph Basset who entered religion, (fn. 69) unsuccessfully claimed the manor against Richard. (fn. 70) However, on the death of Richard Basset without issue, c. 1408, they became his heirs and Drayton Beauchamp passed to Sir John Aylesbury, (fn. 71) who died seised of the manor in 1409, leaving a son and heir Thomas. (fn. 72) The latter died in 1418 and was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 73) who died while still a minor in 1422. (fn. 74) His son Hugh died when a few months old in 1423, and the manor then passed to John Aylesbury's sister and co-heir Isabel the wife of Thomas Chaworth, the other sister and co-heir Eleanor, later wife of Sir Humphrey Stafford of Grafton, receiving other lands. (fn. 75) Sir Thomas Chaworth held Drayton (fn. 76) until his death in 1459, when it descended to his son and heir William, (fn. 77) who died in 1467 and was succeeded by his son Thomas, a minor. (fn. 78) The latter died childless about 1485, leaving as heir his sister Joan, the wife of John Ormond. (fn. 79) In 1502 the manor was settled on Joan and her husband for life with remainder in thirds to her daughters, Joan wife of Thomas Dynham, Anne wife of William Meryng and Elizabeth wife of Anthony Babington. (fn. 80) On Joan Ormond's death in 1507, her heirs were her daughters Joan Dynham and Anne Meryng and her grandson Thomas son of Elizabeth Babington. (fn. 81) Joan Dynham married again after her first husband's death and as Joan Fitz William, widow, conveyed her third to her younger son Thomas Dynham in 1539. (fn. 82) Anne Meryng died without issue, when a moiety of her third was inherited by George Dynham, elder son of Joan Fitz William, who in 1543 conveyed it to his brother Thomas, (fn. 83) who thus owned half the manor. The other moiety of Anne's share passed to her other nephew Thomas Babington, who thus acquired the other half of the manor, and in 1544 he obtained Thomas Dynham's half in exchange for other lands. (fn. 84) In the same year Babington sold the whole manor to William Sedley, (fn. 85) whose son John in 1556 conveyed it to John Cheyne, (fn. 86) when it doubtless became merged in the chief manor. In 1602 it was held by Francis Cheyne as a moiety of the manor of Drayton Beauchamp. (fn. 87)
The overlordship of 3 virgates in Helsthorpe, which in the reign of King Edward were held by Lewin, a man of Godric, had passed by 1086 to the Count of Mortain, (fn. 88) of whose fief the estate was still a member in 1284. (fn. 89)
The tenant in 1086 was Ranulf, and this land may possibly be identical with the 3 virgates held by John de Beville in Helsthorpe in 1225. (fn. 90) By the middle of the 13th century it was in the possession of Gilbert de Greinville, (fn. 91) and from him appears to have passed to Geoffrey le Suminur, who by 1284 had subinfeudated the estate to Roger de Huntingfield. (fn. 92) As there is no further mention of this holding, it may have become merged in the rest of the Mortain fee in Drayton Beauchamp.
In 1365 Thomas Cheyne was granted free warren in the manors of Drayton Beauchamp and Helsthorpe. (fn. 93) A view of frankpledge was held for the manors in 1530, (fn. 94) and is mentioned as pertaining to them in 1615. (fn. 95) From the end of the 14th century, and probably earlier, the tenants of Helsthorpe had to attend the view of frankpledge held at Aldbury (Herts). (fn. 96)
The church of ST. MARY consists of a chancel 32 ft. 6 in. by 16 ft. 6 in., nave 39 ft. by 16 ft. 6 in., north aisle 7 ft. wide, north porch, south aisle 7 ft. 6 in. wide and west tower 10 ft. 6 in. by 9 ft. 6 in., all these measurements being internal. It is built of flint and stone, and the roofs are of lead.
The present church dates from the 15th century, but the still surviving font shows that there was a church here in the 12th century, which was altered and partly rebuilt in the two following centuries. About 1500 the porch was added, and shortly afterwards the clearstory was built. In 1867 the church was restored.
The chancel is lighted from the east by a fivelight window with a square head; from the north by a three-light window with a four-centred head; and from the south by a three-light window with a square head. All of these have cinquefoiled lights, and date from the late 15th century. Below the north window is a 16th-century blocked doorway which, with the window, is now concealed by the organ. The lights of the east window are filled with contemporary painted glass, which has been carefully restored. Ten of the Apostles are represented in two tiers; each holds his symbol and stands under a canopy upon a step on which is his name, while over his head is a scroll with an article of the Apostles' Creed in Latin. In the north window are some fragments of 15th-century painted glass including parts of a figure, and in the south window are three shields, probably of the 14th century, two with the arms of Cheyne, one of which has been restored, and the other Gules two hands cut off at the wrists. At the north-west of the chancel is a late 15th-century low-side window with trefoiled head, and at the south-west are indications of a blocked squint from the south aisle. In the south wall are the remains of a 15th-century piscina with trefoiled head and broken bowl and two niches of the same date which are in the position of sedilia, but one at all events seems too narrow for that purpose. The pointed chancel arch dates from about 1250, but has probably been reset and contains many new stones. The arch is of two chamfered orders springing from semi-octagonal responds with somewhat rudely formed capitals and modern bases.
The nave, like the rest of the church, was rebuilt in the 15th century from materials of the two previous centuries, partly recut to suit the style of the later date. It has on either side an arcade of four bays with pointed arches of two chamfered orders springing from octagonal piers and semioctagonal responds at the east end, and from two round piers on each side westward, with half-round respond at the north-west end and three clustered shafts at the south-west end. The capitals are bell-shaped and those of the eastern columns are recut. The bases are moulded and of the 13th or 14th century, except those of the eastern responds, which are modern. The clearstory has four threelight windows on each side. The pointed tower arch at the west end is of the 13th century, probably reset, the responds having been heightened and 15th-century capitals inserted. The north and south aisles have each a window of three cinquefoiled lights under a square head in their east walls. In the north wall are two similar windows, but of four lights, much restored, and in the south wall a three-light window of like detail to the west and a modern window to the east. The north doorway is continuously moulded and of the 14th century. The south doorway now blocked is of the 15th century and has in its spandrels the arms of Cheyne on the one side and a shield charged with three martlets on the other.
The tower is of two stages supported by diagonal buttresses and crowned by an embattled parapet. The west doorway, dating from about 1480, but restored, has a pointed arch in a square head with plain spandrels, and above it is the west window of about 1450, which is pointed, and has two traceried cinquefoiled lights.
The font, which dates from the 12th century, is circular, and has a short plain stem and a moulded base, while its bowl is enriched by a continuous arcade in low relief of round arches divided by small pillars.
In the chancel are three brasses; that on the south shows the broken figure of a knight in armour of the latter part of the 14th century. The inscription is lost, but the brass is attributed to Thomas Cheyne, who died about 1370. There are indents for two shields. On the north side is another brass, with figure of a knight in armour and indents for four shields, which was originally in the south aisle. The inscription is imperfect, but the brass seems to commemorate (William) Cheyne, who died in 1375. There is also a slab with the indents for the figures of a man and a woman under a double canopy, which is thought to represent Sir John Cheyne, who died in 1468, and Agnes his wife. There is also a brass with the headless figure of a priest in mass vestments and part of an inscription attributed to Henry Fazakerley who died in 1531.
On the north side of the chancel is a large finely executed marble monument to William Cheyne, second Viscount Newhaven, who died in 1728. Under a pediment, containing the arms of Cheyne impaling those of his two wives, supported on pilasters, is the reclining figure of the viscount in his robes. Below is the figure of his second wife Gertrude Pierrepoint, which was added after her death in 1732 by her kinswoman Mrs. Gertrude Tolhurst.
In the sill of the east window of the south aisle are the remains of a 15th-century altar tomb with quatrefoil panels. It is unknown whose tomb this is, but it may belong to a later member of the Cheyne family who held the manor at this time.
The registers before 1812 are as follows:—(i) baptisms 1538–1653, burials 1567–1651, marriages 1541–1643; (ii) baptisms 1653–1741, burials and marriages 1653–1740; (iii) burials 1680–1765, baptisms 1741–1765, marriages 1741–1753; (iv) marriages 1755–1812.
The church of Drayton Beauchamp is first mentioned about 1221, when William de Beauchamp was the patron. (fn. 97) The advowson has apparently followed the descent of the manor of Drayton Beauchamp (fn. 98) (q.v.).
About 1221, when William de Beauchamp presented one Miles, a minor, to the rectory, the Bishop of Lincoln instituted a temporary vicarage, to which Miles had to present a suitable clerk, and which lapsed on the attainment of his majority. (fn. 99) The vicar's portion consisted of the altar offerings and tithes of land beyond Waleweie on the south and a manse between the cemetery and the manse of the church. (fn. 100) A further arrangement was made in 1229, when the bishop consolidated the vicarage and rectory with the authority of the council. (fn. 101) The church was assessed at £8 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 102) and at £12 0s. 0¾d. in 1535. (fn. 103)
Richard Hooker, author of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, was rector of Drayton and in December 1584, was visited by George Cranmer, a former pupil, who, however, had to leave after one night, disgusted with the shrewishness of Mrs. Hooker. (fn. 104)
In 1388 there was a chapel at Helsthorpe annexed to the church of Drayton Beauchamp, (fn. 105) dedicated in honour of the Holy Trinity. In the 18th century the site of this chapel was called Chapel Yard. (fn. 106)
In Drayton Beauchamp a rent of 1d. was given towards the maintenance of a lamp in the church. (fn. 107)
John Cheyne's charity, founded by deed 21 November 1577, consists of an annual payment of £1, part of a rent-charge of £5 issuing out of a farm in Chesham called the Mose. See also under Amersham and Chesham.
The trust property now consists of 2a. 1 r. 36 p. in the parish of Tring let at £2 15s. a year; a rent-charge on Manor Farm, Chesham Bois, £2; rent-charge on Moor's Farm, Whelpley Hill, 14s. 10d.; and £167 0s. 2d. consols, producing £4 3s. 4d. a year, of which £33 6s. 8d. stock represents redemption of a rent-charge of 19s. 6d. formerly paid by the lord of the manor, and £133 13s. 6d. stock, proceeds of a sale of land in 1879.
The income, amounting to £9 13s. 2d., together with £1 from Cheyne's charity, was in 1909 distributed as to £3 6s. to six elderly infirm persons, £6 12s. 4d. to twenty-seven poor inhabitants, and 14s. 10d. to the parish clerk.
The Stephenage Money.
The distribution on St. Stephen's Day at the rectory of bread, cheese and ale to all applicants, which formerly prevailed, but apparently without legal obligation, has for many years been discontinued.