A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1925.
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The parish of Fawley, which is bordered on the south and west by Oxfordshire, covers an area of 2,212½ acres. (fn. 1) There are 907 acres of arable land, 839 acres of permanent grass and 585¾ acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 2) The general slope of the land is from north-west to south-east, and falls from 552 ft. to 113 ft. above ordnance datum towards the River Thames, which forms the eastern boundary of the parish. The soil is chalk and loam. Wheat and barley form the chief crops. The houses are scattered and the so-called village is on a ridge nearly in the centre of the parish. The church, school and rectory are grouped together to the southwest of the village, which includes several groups of cottages of 17th-century origin, but more or less altered.
At the north-west of the churchyard is a fine yew tree, in the hollow trunk of which twelve persons can take shelter at the same time. The rectory-house was built by the Rev. John Stevens, (fn. 3) rector of Fawley, in the 18th century. (fn. 4) It is beautifully situated with a fine view of the Thames and from it parts of six counties can be seen. Round House Farm, a cottage opposite, and Crockmore Farm date from the 17th century, and retain a good many original features, but have been considerably altered and added to.
Fawley Court, the seat of Mr. W. Dalziel Mackenzie, the lord of the manor, stands in the extreme south of the parish, with a view over the Deer Park, about 200 acres of which are in Oxfordshire. The old manorhouse, which had been the residence of Sir James Whitelocke, one of the judges of the King's Bench and author of the Liber Famelicus, and of his son Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke, author of the Memorials of English Affairs, (fn. 5) was practically sacked by the Royalists who were quartered there under Sir John Byron in 1642. (fn. 6) It was pulled down when the present mansion was built, as it is said, from designs by Sir Christopher Wren, (fn. 7) in 1684 for William Freeman. (fn. 8) It is a large square brick and stone house, two stories in height, with a basement and an attic. The plan is symmetrically arranged, the entrance hall on the west and the saloon on the east being placed back to back and occupying the whole of the ground floor of the centre of the house, while the principal apartments and staircases are placed in equal-sized blocks on either side, projecting slightly on the west and east fronts. The offices are contained in the basement, which is vaulted with brick throughout, and the bedrooms on the first and attic floors. The house was apparently ready for habitation by 1688, as William III rested here in that year on his progress from Torbay to London, and here received the declaration from the peers who assembled on the withdrawal of James II and an address from the Corporation of London. The internal decoration, however, does not appear to have been completed for a considerable period. The ceiling of the saloon bears the date 1690, but the doorcases and chimneypiece, both here and elsewhere, are mainly of the Adam type. Beyond the addition of a modern wing at the north-west in 1884 the building has undergone little structural alteration during the 19th century. The elevations, which are designed in a plain and dignified manner, are faced with modern brick, the old facing having been hacked to receive the stucco with which the walls were coated about 1800. The quoins and dressings are of stone, and on the ground stage of the recessed central portion of the entrance front on the west is an Ionic portico with a balustraded parapet; the centres of the north and south elevations are slightly broken forward and crowned by pediments. A string-course marks the level of the first floor, and the windows have plain flat architraves, while the walls are crowned by a wood modillion cornice surmounted by a low blocking course. The roofs are hipped, with a central lead flat, and are covered with slates. A cemented terrace with cellars beneath runs round the house on the south and east sides. The entrance hall has been considerably modernized, and the doorcases are all late 18th-century work. The principal feature of this apartment is a modern copy in white marble of Bernini's group of 'David and Goliath.' A doorway in the centre of the east wall leads into the saloon, a finely proportioned room of the same size as the entrance hall. The ceiling, a very fine example of late 17th-century work, modelled with fruit, flowers and birds in high relief, bears upon a scroll at its southern end the date, inscribed thus: 'Anno Domini MDCLXXXX.' The white marble fireplace in the south wall is a fine piece of Adam design, with delicately modelled consoles supporting the mantelshelf, and a frieze sculptured with animals in the Pompeian manner. The staircase hall opens out of the entrance hall by a doorway at the south-west and occupies the whole of this angle of the house. The stairs themselves are of oak, with twisted balusters, and of the original date of the house. In a small drawing room or boudoir, occupying the north-east angle of the house, is a fine carved wood chimney-piece of the late 18th century, painted in black and gold. A room at the south-east angle has a good coved and flat ceiling of the Adam type and a marble fireplace in the same manner. Between this room and the principal staircase, in the centre of the south front, is the library, a charming example of the Adam style at its best. Below the cornice a deep frieze runs round the walls with panels painted in monochrome in imitation of bas-relief, and below this again is a moulded architrave, carried, with the frieze and cornice, across a recess at the west end of the room by four Ionic columns with marble shafts. The doors and bookcases are delicately ornamented with inlaid work by the Hon. Mrs. Dawson Damer, the sculptress of the heads of Thames and Isis on Henley Bridge, and the fireplace is of white and yellow marble. The bedrooms on the first floor open off a central corridor, where some original panelled partition work remains. The large room at the south-east is hung with a wallpaper of 'Persian' design, said to have been made for the Pavilion at Brighton, while the room adjoining it on the north, over the saloon, has a very good 'Chinese' paper, probably of about 1760.
Reset in the porch of the dairy to the north of the house is a fine late 12th-century doorway with a round head of two richly moulded orders and small angle shafts to the jambs. The porch is vaulted, and the bosses from which the ribs spring are probably of the same date. These remains have evidently been brought from the ruins of some ecclesiastical building. In the west wall of the same dairy is a doorway with a four-centred head, brought here from the Great Chamber of Crosby Hall in London in the early 19th century. In the grounds to the south-east of the house is an elaborate 'ruin' with a window of three trefoiled lights under a traceried four-centred head, which appears to be reset 15thcentury work.
Just below Fawley Court is the Island Temple, the starting-place for the boats in Henley Regatta. In the north of the parish is Bosmore, now occupied by Mr. Mackenzie's farm bailiff. Some half a mile to the south-west of it is Eversdown, by which the road leads down to Fawley Bottom, where there is a chalk-pit. Benham's Lane leads south-east from the village past another chalk-pit to Benham's and Benham's Wood. A third chalk-pit is worked in the north-east of the parish and there is a disused one in the north-west. There are two gravel-pits at Oaken Grove, in the east of the parish, and another near the lodge at Fawley Court.
The following place-names have been found in Fawley: Walensisplace (fn. 9) (xiv cent.); Capude, Hulude, (fn. 10) Benstonlondes, Bokoys, Bottons, Buddyngs, Cher. ways, Consett, Copwell, Evynwodes, Lyllyngley, Wolden, Smaldia (fn. 11) (xv cent.).
Under Edward the Confessor FAWLEY MANOR was held by Earl Tosti, (fn. 12) and in 1086, when it was assessed at 10 hides, by Walter Giffard. (fn. 13) It passed as a knight's fee of the barony of Giffard (fn. 14) to the Marshals, Earls of Pembroke, (fn. 15) and to William de Valence, (fn. 16) created Earl of Pembroke about 1265, (fn. 17) by his marriage in 1247 with Joan de Munchesney, (fn. 18) daughter of Joan sister of Walter Marshal. (fn. 19) The overlordship of Fawley then follows the same descent as Dinton Manor until the death of Mary Countess of Pembroke in 1377, (fn. 20) when it passed to Gilbert Lord Talbot, (fn. 21) son of one of her husband's co-heirs, Elizabeth Comyn. (fn. 22) It continued with the Talbots, (fn. 23) the last reference to it occurring in 1507. (fn. 24)
Walter Giffard, during his absence in England at the time of the Norman Conquest, left his steward Herbrand de Sackville to guard his lands in Normandy. In reward for his good services Herbrand was offered the choice between Crendon and Fawley. He chose Fawley 'on account of its beauty' (fn. 25) and was holding it in 1086. (fn. 26) He was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 27) probably the father of the William de Sackville who was holding in 1166. (fn. 28) Jordan de Sackville died seised in the early 13th century. (fn. 29) In 1234 Bartholomew de Sackville had a gift from the king of timber for a room (camera) at his manor of Fawley. (fn. 30) He paid a mark for scutage in 1236, (fn. 31) and his name appears in the Roll of Arms under Henry III. (fn. 32) Jordan de Sackville, probably his son, was holding in 1284 (fn. 33) and had been succeeded before 1302 by another Bartholomew. (fn. 34) Thomas de Sackville, lord of Fawley in 1316, (fn. 35) made a settlement of the manor in the following year on his wife Maud for life, (fn. 36) who, after his death between 1325 and 1332, (fn. 37) married John de Whitfield, (fn. 38) probably the M.P. for Oxfordshire in 1327. (fn. 39) In 1343 Fawley was held by Thomas de Sackville, a minor, who was son and heir of Robert, (fn. 40) presumably brother of the previous Thomas de Sackville. He appears to have attained his majority and to have been knighted before 1358. (fn. 41) He was holding in 1367, (fn. 42) but appears to have been succeeded before 1371 (fn. 43) by his son Thomas, (fn. 44) afterwards Sir Thomas de Sackville, kt., who represented the county in Parliament several times between the years 1379 and 1394, (fn. 45) and was one of the commissioners of array in Buckinghamshire in 1399 (fn. 46) and 1403. (fn. 47) His son (fn. 48) Sir Thomas Sackville, kt., M.P. for the county in 1434, (fn. 49) was holding in 1419, (fn. 50) and was living in 1449. (fn. 51) His son Thomas Sackville (fn. 52) succeeded about 1455. (fn. 53) Fawley passed before 1477, by the marriage of his daughter and heir Margery, to Thomas Rokes or Rooks, (fn. 54) to his grandson Thomas Rokes, (fn. 55) who was elected (fn. 56) Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1477 and 1486. (fn. 57) He died seised of the manor of Fawley in 1527 (fn. 58) and was succeeded by his grandson Edmund, son of Thomas Rokes, who had predeceased his father. (fn. 59) Robert Rokes, another son of Thomas Rokes, father of Edmund, (fn. 60) settled Fawley on his second wife Elizabeth (fn. 61) in 1560 and again in 1577. (fn. 62) After his death in 1580 (fn. 63) she married John Alford (fn. 64) and they were both seised of Fawley Manor in 1585. (fn. 65) William Rokes surrendered his reversionary interests in Fawley (fn. 66) to John Alford in 1589, (fn. 67) and before 1602 the manor had passed to William, afterwards Sir William Alford, (fn. 68) and his wife Elizabeth, (fn. 69) daughter and heir of Robert Rokes. (fn. 70) She died in 1608, leaving two daughters minors. (fn. 71) In 1614 Sir William Alford purchased from Edward Alford his rights in a lease of the manor which had been held by Sir Launcelot Alford, father of Sir William. (fn. 72) The latter sold it in 1617 to James, (fn. 73) afterwards Sir James Whitelocke, (fn. 74) who settled it in 1630 on the marriage of his son Bulstrode, later Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke, with Rebecca Bennett, (fn. 75) and died in 1632. (fn. 76) Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke was member for Great Marlow in the Long Parliament and Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal and Ambassador to Sweden under the Commonwealth. (fn. 77) He died in 1675, (fn. 78) and four years later his son and heir Sir James Whitelocke (fn. 79) sold Fawley Manor to Richard Stevens, (fn. 80) presumably on behalf of William Freeman, (fn. 81) who rebuilt Fawley Court in 1684. He died in 1707, bequeathing Fawley Manor in tail-male to his nephew John Cook, who was to take the name of Freeman. (fn. 82) Fawley continued in John Freeman's family, (fn. 83) passing in 1821 to a grandson of his sister Mary, Admiral William Peere Williams, who in the following year assumed the surname and arms of Freeman. (fn. 84) He died in 1832 (fn. 85) and was succeeded by his grandson William Peere Williams-Freeman, (fn. 86) High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1838, (fn. 87) who sold the Fawley estate in 1853 to Mr. Edward Mackenzie. (fn. 88) He owned Fawley at his death in 1880, (fn. 89) and his son and successor Mr. William Dalziel Mackenzie (fn. 90) is the present proprietor.
About 1234 Bartholomew de Sackville claimed the right of view of frankpledge in Fawley on the ground that it was included with all liberties in Earl Giffard's grant to his ancestor Herbrand and exercised by him and his successor, William de Sackville. (fn. 91) The right had been in abeyance from the time that Earl Giffard's lands had been taken into the king's hands, and, although after the war the elder William Marshal had enforced the liberties of his fees, (fn. 92) the younger William and Richard Marshal had not been able to secure those for Fawley owing to a claim by Fawkes de Breauté. (fn. 93) In 1254 William de Valence (then overlord) was said to have the right of holding the view of frankpledge in Fawley, (fn. 94) but before 1362 (fn. 95) this was exercised by the lords of the manor. (fn. 96) Reference to both courts leet and baron occur in 1833. (fn. 97) A series of Court Rolls commencing with 1362 and extending with some gaps to 1479 are preserved in the British Museum. (fn. 98) In 1379 the customary tenants paid a fine of £1 to the lord on the marriage of their daughters. (fn. 99) In 1397 Bartholomew Shepherd, on his acceptance as a customary tenant of a messuage and half a virgate of land for seven years, paid a fine of six capons. (fn. 100) In 1409 five places are named in the manor where the water was for the common use of the tenants, according to ancient custom, in addition to half the water at Bosmore. (fn. 101) The right of the lord to a private way to the Thames for the watering of his horses is enforced. (fn. 102) Frequent references to fishing rights in the Thames occur from 1560. (fn. 103)
A hide of land in Fawley called BOSMERE MANOR, BOSMERE or BOSMORE was held in the 15th century as a knight's fee, of Fawley Manor, for 31s. 3½d. with suit of court and all services. (fn. 104) Towards the end of the 13th century Henry Mimeau granted Bosmere Manor to Ellis de Whitfield, (fn. 105) father of John de Whitfield, who, or his son (living in 1347), married the widow of Thomas de Sackville of Fawley Manor (q.v.). The elder John de Whitfield conveyed the manor, possibly in settlement, to his nephew Vaal (fn. 106) about 1312. Sir Baldwin Berford, kt., and Edmund Stretley held Bosmere in 1397, (fn. 107) and had been succeeded by Dame Elizabeth Berford and Edward Stretley in 1410 (fn. 108) and by John Barght and John Stretley in 1455. (fn. 109) About 1532 the representative of the Stretley family mortgaged his half of Bosmere to John Williams, (fn. 110) who five years later sold it to John Doyley. (fn. 111) About thirty years afterwards the younger John Doyley acquired the other half of Bosmere from Edward Barrow, (fn. 112) to whom lands belonging to Sir Maurice Barrow (Barough) had descended. (fn. 113) Bosmere follows the same descent as Hambleden (fn. 114) (q.v.), but before 1659 it had passed to Robert Weedon, who died in that year. (fn. 115) His only son and heir Robert (fn. 116) was elected sheriff for the county in 1700. (fn. 117) Thomas Weedon, probably his son, owned Bosmere Manor in 1704 (fn. 118) and 1712 (fn. 119) and his widow sold it in 1721 to John Freeman, (fn. 120) lord of Fawley. Bosmore, as it is now called, has since remained part of the Fawley estate. (fn. 121)
Two hides of land in Fawley called MOUSEHOLES (Moulsoys or Molsholes, xv cent.) were held in free tenancy of Fawley Manor in 1455 by Thomas Stonor for a yearly rent of £2 16s. 8d., with suit of court and all services. (fn. 122) In 1482 this estate was returned as held of Eleanor Lady Scrope of Hambleden Manor. (fn. 123) It remained in the Stonor family, (fn. 124) and is probably still owned by their present representative Ralph fifth Lord Camoys. (fn. 125)
The parish church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel measuring internally 20 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft., north vestry, nave 40 ft. by 20 ft., north and south transepts and a west tower 20 ft. by 11 ft.
The earliest part of the building is the nave, which dates from the 12th century; the west tower, the upper stage of which was added c. 1500, belongs to the latter part of the 13th century. Nothing of the mediaeval chancel remains, the walls having been entirely rebuilt in 1748. (fn. 126) The tower was restored in 1867, and in 1883 the fabric was generally repaired, the vestry and transepts being added and the nave walls raised. The materials are flint rubble with stone dressings and the roofs are tiled.
In the south wall of the chancel is a blocked 16th-century doorway with re-used moulded brick jambs and a round head of the same material. The lower stones of the square jambs of the chancel arch are contemporary with the original building of the nave, but their upper portions, with the arch itself, are modern. The nave, which has two modern windows in each side wall, besides the openings to the transept, has been completely modernized, but some of the timbers of the roof are old.
The tower, in its original state, was crowned by the corbel table, above which now rise the walls of the later bell-chamber. Only the bases of the angle buttresses are old, these, with the crowning parapet, having been renewed. The tower arch is of two chamfered orders and springs from semi-octagonal jambs with moulded capitals and restored bases. Upon the responds are texts inscribed in black letter; these were probably painted in the late 16th century, but the references to chapter and verse appear to have been added subsequently. In the west wall of the ground stage is a modern doorway with an original, but much restored, two-light window above it. On the north and south are contemporary lancets, also much restored. Below the corbel table, on the west and south, and also probably in the ivy-covered north wall, are single lights with four-centred heads, inserted probably when the bellchamber, which is lighted on all four sides by similar windows, was added.
On the sanctuary step is a brass, with inscription in French, to Richard de Aldwine (or Aldeborn), a former rector, who died in 1347. On the west wall of the south transept is an elaborate marble monument with alabaster figures, commemorating Sir James Whitelocke, judge of the Court of Common Pleas, who died in 1632, and Elizabeth his wife, who died in 1631. In the tower is a floor slab with arms to Robert Weedon, who died in 1659.
Three 17th-century chairs are preserved in the chancel, which has fine oak wainscot work of the early 18th century with fruit and flowers carved in high relief upon the panels, and an enriched cornice. A cornice of the same period is preserved in the nave worked up with modern panelling. The hexagonal pulpit has been ascribed to Grinling Gibbons, and, with the reading desk, forms an excellent example of his period. Many of the seats throughout the church have elaborate carving of the late 17th century; all this oak came from Canons in Little Stanmore when it was pulled down in 1747.
There are three bells: the treble is by John Warner & Sons, 1866; the second, probably by John Saunders, c. 1550, is inscribed in black letter, 'sanc ta mar gri ta ora pro no bis' (sic); while the tenor, probably by Roger Landen, c. 1450, is inscribed 'Sancte Johannes Ora Pro Nobis.'
Fawley Church is a rectory with 22 acres of glebe, and the earliest mention of it that has been found occurs in 1291, when it was valued at £11 6s. 8d. yearly. (fn. 127) The Bishop of Lincoln issued a licence for the dedication of the altars of St. John Baptist and St. Nicholas in it in 1297. (fn. 128) The descent of the advowson is the same as that of Fawley Manor (fn. 129) (q.v.) until 1853, when the advowson was retained by Mr. William Peere Williams-Freeman. (fn. 130) It was sold by him about five years later to Mr. Edward Mackenzie, (fn. 131) and his son, Mr. William Dalziel Mackenzie, (fn. 132) is the present owner.
The benefice was sequestered for debt between 4 April and 1 December 1845, (fn. 133) and the tithes had been commuted before 1862. (fn. 134) In 1519 it was reported that there had been no resident rector for thirty years. (fn. 135)