A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1927.
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This parish, which is separated from that of Lillingstone Dayrell by a feeder of the River Ouse, extends east and north to the borders of Northamptonshire. It still belongs to the hundred of Ploughley in Oxfordshire, and formed a detached part of that county until 1844, when it was annexed for local government purposes to Buckinghamshire. (fn. 1) More than half the area of 1,667 acres is pasture, and the remainder includes 512 acres of arable and 165 acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 2) The most important of these are Lovell and Shirehill Woods in the north-west of the parish, and in the north-east, parts of Briary and Cattlehill Woods, both of which extend into Northamptonshire. (fn. 3) The level of the land varies from 336 ft. above the ordnance datum to the east of the church to 431 ft. on the Towcester road in the north-west of the parish. The soil is clay, the subsoil principally limestone and marl, the former supplying the material for the building of the church. (fn. 4) The village is situated about half a mile to the east of the road from Buckingham to Towcester, and is approached by a by-road which eventually passes eastward through Wicken Wood into Northamptonshire. The main part of the village lies on the east side of a stream which flows into the feeder of the Ouse mentioned above. Here are a few old houses, including a 17th-century farm-house of stone, formerly an inn, on the north side of the road, and some thatched cottages of about the same date on the opposite side of the way. The church, rectory, and schools with a few cottages are grouped together west of the stream. Lillingstone Hall, a plain square stone house with tiled roofs south of the village, was built from the 17th-century materials of part of the old Hall. The remains of a homestead moat and fish-pond in the grounds south of the present house doubtless mark the site of the former building. (fn. 5) After their acquisition of the manor in the later 15th century the Wentworths appear to have lived at the house, (fn. 6) but later generations evidently resided elsewhere, probably in Essex, from which county the family originally came. Sir Peter Wentworth, who returned to Lillingstone, certainly speaks of himself in February 1635–6 as 'a mere stranger in the county,' (fn. 7) i.e., Oxford. The house was then in a ruinous condition, apparently caused by fire in that year, (fn. 8) and he evidently repaired and enlarged it. Owing to the money and care he bestowed upon it, the fame of the house spread far. (fn. 9) He also laid out extensive grounds and plantations, (fn. 10) and inclosed a park which was stocked with ten brace of deer from Whittlewood Forest by a grant of the Commonwealth in 1659. (fn. 11) After Major Drake's death in 1788 the estate was neglected; the old timber was cut down and the old mansion ultimately dismantled and demolished, part of the material being re-used for a house at Wicken Park and part for a house at Buckingham. (fn. 12)
The Manor House, a comfortable modern building, is situated about a mile to the north-east of the church, with large grounds and a spinney on the south and south-east. It is the residence of Mr. James Bogle Delap, who is both lord of the manor and sole landowner in the parish.
In the time of Edward the Confessor Azor held in Lillingstone 2½ hides of land, afterwards LILLINGSTONE DANSEY or LILLINGSTONE LOVELL MANOR, which by 1086 had come to Benzelinus. (fn. 13) The holding was later in the St. Martin family, and had passed from Godfrey de St. Martin before 1235 (fn. 14) to his son Hugh, (fn. 15) who held it of the king in serjeanty by the service of guarding the door of the king's hall at the great feasts. (fn. 16) His son Peter succeeded about 1247, (fn. 17) and alienated the overlordship soon afterwards to Patrick Chaworth, who leased it to Peter de Chaceporc, Sir Hugh de Chaceporc holding it in 1254. (fn. 18) It had reverted to Pain Chaworth before 1279, (fn. 19) and passed, through the marriage in 1298 of his niece Maud to Henry, third Earl of Lancaster, (fn. 20) to the duchy of Lancaster, (fn. 21) and is last mentioned in this connexion in 1613. (fn. 22)
William Clifford, tenant of lands in Lillingstone in 1131, (fn. 23) was evidently an ancestor of Margery Clifford, who was holding under Sir Hugh de Chanceporc in 1254. (fn. 24) Her first husband was Peter de St. Martin, (fn. 25) but she was the wife of Peter Dansey in 1260, when Lillingstone Manor was settled on them and their issue with remainder to Margery's right heirs. (fn. 26) He was living in 1266 (fn. 27) and she in 1284. (fn. 28) Her heirs appear to have been Margery Criol (Keriel), Elizabeth wife of John Pabenham, and Margery daughter and heir of Robert and Margaret Hereward, (fn. 29) to whom Richard son and heir of Sir John Clifford quitclaimed in 1313 his rights in Lillingstone and elsewhere, a special point being made of the lands held by Margery Criol it that date, (fn. 30) probably by settlement on her marriage. She was the widow of Sir Nicholas Criol, kt., (fn. 31) and was holding this manor in 1316. (fn. 32) The Margery, however, who married William Lovel was probably Margery Hereward, and received her purparty of Lillingstone, for in the 14th century there took place a division of the estate into the manors of Overend and Netherend, (fn. 33) each apparently held for half a fee. (fn. 34) This distinction was maintained into the 17th century, though the whole property was then again in one ownership. (fn. 35) William Lovel obtained a grant of free warren in Lillingstone in 1346, (fn. 36) and was knighted at the siege of Calais the following year. (fn. 37) His widow Margery is mentioned in 1348, (fn. 38) and Beatrice Lovel, who held this moiety in 1361, (fn. 39) was presumably their daughter. The owner of the other moiety was said to be Margery Criol. (fn. 40) The re-united manor passed eventually with the Criol-Lovel estate in Irchester (Northamptonshire) to Alice daughter of William Adderbury and Elizabeth Swynford. (fn. 41) She married Roger Chamber, (fn. 42) called of Lillingstone about 1382, (fn. 43) and was in possession of a moiety of Irchester in 1428. (fn. 44) Their daughter and heir Mary married Sir John Fitz Simond of North Shoebury (Essex), by whom she had a son and heir Robert Fitz Simond, (fn. 45) owner of both Irchester and Lillingstone at his death in 1473. (fn. 46) The manors passed to his daughter and co-heir Joan, then wife of Robert Timperley. (fn. 47) She afterwards married, as his second wife, Henry Wentworth of Great Codham Hall in Wethershield (Essex), (fn. 48) who died in 1482. (fn. 49) About 1509 she was again a widow, when, under the name of Dame Joan Fitz Lewis, she enfeoffed Sir Thomas Lovel, kt., Sir Richard Fitz Lewis, kt., and Thomas Mansfield in her manor of Lillingstone Lovell to the use, according to directions in her will dated 7 September 1511, of her son Nicholas Wentworth and his issue. (fn. 50) About 1519 he asked for a discharge from a relief demanded, presumably on her death, by the feodary of the duchy of Lancaster, claiming this manor, not by descent, but by purchase in use. (fn. 51) He became seised in fee through an Act of Parliament in February 1535–6, (fn. 52) and was knighted in or about 1545, (fn. 53) shortly before he acquired the other principal manor in Lillingstone Lovell (see later). Sir Nicholas Wentworth held the office of Chief Porter of Calais, and died about 1557, in which year his will, dated 7 February 1551–2, was proved. (fn. 54) He left his manor of Lillingstone Lovell in trust for the use of his wife Jane for her life, his son and heir Peter being then a minor. (fn. 55) She was buried in Burnham Church in 1569. (fn. 56) Peter Wentworth entered Parliament as member for Barnstaple in 1571, and from 1584 was member for the borough of Northampton. He was distinguished for his defence of the House's right to liberty of speech against the queen's attempts to control debate. (fn. 57) In 1591 he was imprisoned in the Tower, so closely at first that his health suffered, and some mitigation had to be made, (fn. 58) but he appears to have been still under confinement at his death in 1597. (fn. 59) His son and heir Nicholas (fn. 60) was granted entry into Lillingstone Lovell in 1600, (fn. 61) and, dying in 1613, was succeeded by his son Peter, (fn. 62) who was made a knight of the Bath in February 1625–6. (fn. 63) He was Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1635, meeting with many difficulties in the levying of ship-money in that county, where he had lately settled. (fn. 64) He sat in the Long Parliament as member for Tamworth (fn. 65) (Staffordshire), and dying at Lillingstone Lovell was buried in the chancel of the church there in 1675. (fn. 66) He was succeeded by his brother Paul Wentworth, (fn. 67) who died in February 1689–90 and was also buried at Lillingstone Lovell. (fn. 68) He left his estates in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire to his executors for ten years, for the payment of debts and legacies (including some of his brother's), with remainders to his kinsman John Creswell of Purston in King's Sutton (Northamptonshire) for life and his son John in tail-male. (fn. 69) The latter succeeded in 1699, under the name of John Wentworth alias Creswell, (fn. 70) his father having died two years previously. (fn. 71) On his death in 1759 (fn. 72) he was succeeded by his nephew William Creswell, (fn. 73) who took the surname of Wentworth in addition to his own. He was Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1768, (fn. 74) and died in 1784. (fn. 75) By his will Lillingstone Lovell passed to his cousin Major Francis Drake of Frimley, Surrey, and, on his death in 1788, (fn. 76) to the Hon. Edward Onslow, second son of the first Earl of Onslow. (fn. 77) In 1821 he sold the whole estate to James Bogle Delap of Stoke Park, near Guildford, (fn. 78) who died in 1850. (fn. 79) On the death of his widow in 1859 it passed to his nephew the Rev. Robert Delap of Monellan, Donegal. (fn. 80) His son Mr. James Bogle Delap, who was sheriff of that county in 1874, succeeded in 1885, (fn. 81) and is the present owner.
Two and a half hides in LILLINGSTONE were assessed in 1086 among the lands of Richard Engaine. (fn. 82) His estate lay chiefly in Northamptonshire (fn. 83) and constituted the honour of Benefield, held for the service of one fee, (fn. 84) of which a quarter was rendered by Lillingstone. (fn. 85) The overlordship passed through a later Richard Engaine to his grandson Fulk Lisors, (fn. 86) whose granddaughter Alice (daughter and co-heir of Hugh Lisors) married Nicholas de Bassingbourn, (fn. 87) overlord of Lillingstone about 1235. (fn. 88) Their son Humphrey de Bassingbourn (fn. 89) died in or about 1280, (fn. 90) and the overlordship was afterwards vested in the Danseys of Dilton, Wiltshire, (fn. 91) John Dansey holding it in 1353. (fn. 92) It lapsed on the acquisition of the manor by the Crown later in the century. (fn. 93)
The Engaine holding in Lillingstone appears to have been subinfeudated in 1131 to Walter Dangerville. (fn. 94) In the later 12th century it was in two moieties, of which Sybil Dangerville held one. (fn. 95) Her moiety, afterwards called GREAT LILLINGSTONE, LILLINGSTONE DANSEY and LILLINGSTONE LOVELL MANOR or KINGSLANDS, descended with Tattenhoe Manor (fn. 96) (q.v.), being confiscated to the Crown with the other lands of William Martel in 1224. In 1225 the king granted his land in Lillingstone during his pleasure to Ralph de Carevill, (fn. 97) who appears to have married a daughter of William Martel (fn. 98) and was holding in 1231. (fn. 99) It was in the king's hands again in 1242, when he granted it to Thomas Barber to hold by the service of a pair of gilt spurs or 6d. yearly. (fn. 100) Thomas Barber was living in 1254, (fn. 101) but his holding had passed before 1276 to James Barber, (fn. 102) who in 1284 successfully contested a suit brought against him by Denise de Carevill, (fn. 103) Ralph's granddaughter. (fn. 104) John Monhaut (fn. 105) and his wife Ellen, possibly a daughter of James Barber, were jointly enfeoffed about 1284. (fn. 106) Ellen was living in 1294, shortly after her husband's death, but their son Adam (fn. 107) had succeeded before 1300. (fn. 108) He died about 1306, (fn. 109) when the custody of his daughter and heir Elizabeth was granted to Geoffrey de la Lee, (fn. 110) who was holding this manor in 1314. (fn. 111) Elizabeth Monhaut married Stephen Trafford before 1316, (fn. 112) and, surviving her husband, died in 1344, when she was succeeded by their son Stephen Trafford. (fn. 113) He granted the manor for life to Thomas Ferrers with reversion to William Baret (whose daughter Margery was Stephen's wife (fn. 114) ) and his heirs. (fn. 115) Thomas Ferrers died in 1353, (fn. 116) but the Baret interest, which was acknowledged in the following year, (fn. 117) had been purchased by Ferrers and the manor granted in trust to John de Newenham, (fn. 118) parson of Cheadle Church (Staffordshire), in addition to Moorend Castle and Manor in Potterspury and other property in Northamptonshire. (fn. 119) The king acquired these in 1363 from Thomas le Despencer, (fn. 120) who had rights in remainder in 1353, (fn. 121) and the Lillingstone Manor in 1364 from John de Newenham. (fn. 122) It was held for a time by Sir John de Ypres, kt., and afterwards by Alice Perrers. (fn. 123) A grant for life was made in 1398 to Philippa Duchess of Ireland, who was pardoned in the following year for entering upon the manor as parcel of Moorend Castle. (fn. 124) In 1516 Sir Thomas Parr and his wife Maud received a grant for life in survivorship, (fn. 125) and in 1545 Sir Nicholas Wentworth (fn. 126) obtained the manor in fee in exchange for an estate in Towcester (Northamptonshire). (fn. 127) He already held by inheritance the other important manor in Lillingstone, into which this estate merged in the 17th century. (fn. 128)
The tenant in 1231 of the second moiety of Great Lillingstone was William de Osevill, (fn. 129) perhaps the William de Olney whose heirs were holding in mesne in 1254. (fn. 130) This overlordship was held by William de Stapelton in 1279, (fn. 131) and descended in his family to Robert de Stapelton, who was living in 1361. (fn. 132)
Walter de Olney was under-tenant in 1254, (fn. 133) and was succeeded by John de Olney before 1276. (fn. 134) He was living in 1294, (fn. 135) but his estate appears to have passed to Geoffrey de Bradden before 1300. (fn. 136) Later in the century it was held by Thomas de Lillingstone, who died seised of it in 1361 (fn. 137) in addition to his small manor next mentioned, from which it is not afterwards distinguishable.
A small estate known as LILLINGSTONE MANOR was held of the king in chief by knights' service. (fn. 138) It seems to have descended from Godfrey de Lillingstone, who is mentioned in 1174–6, (fn. 139) to Thomas de Lillingstone, who died seised of it in 1361, when a carucate of land, a mill, (fn. 140) and 6d. yearly from the pleas and perquisites of the court were included in the extent. (fn. 141) His heirs were a nephew, Thomas atte Well, and a great-nephew, Geoffrey Osberne or Thurbarn, (fn. 142) against whom Christine, widow of Thomas de Lillingstone and later wife of Hugh de Waltham, recovered seisin, only to be again disseised by the king. (fn. 143) In 1390 Thomas atte Well and Geoffrey Osberne granted this manor to Richard II, (fn. 144) so that it became parcel of the royal manor (fn. 145) granted by Henry VIII to Sir Nicholas Wentworth in 1545.
Another small estate in Lillingstone Lovell was given in the reign of Henry VI by John Mantel to Walter Mantel, Elizabeth his wife, and their heirs. (fn. 146) Walter, then Sir Walter Mantel, kt., died in 1487, (fn. 147) and in 1492 his grandson and heir John Mantel (fn. 148) secured his title against Robert Mantel. (fn. 149) This property was afterwards acquired by Sir Richard Empson, and said in 1510 to be mortgaged to John, Earl of Oxford. (fn. 150) The king held in 1512, when he granted it to William Tyler. (fn. 151) It is probably the property including a close called Hollenden, afterwards claimed by Nicholas Wentworth as purchaser of the leasehold rights held at one time by Thomas Empson. (fn. 152) Hollenden Close also appears as one of the contested parcels (fn. 153) in the numerous lawsuits in which Wentworth was involved about 1530 in respect of the Clare or Clarell lands, including Herring's Hoo Balk and Hosells, (fn. 154) claimed by him as parcel of his manor. His principal opponent, Thomas Poyner, stated that his grandmother John had been seised in the lands in dispute in special tail to her and her first husband Thomas Clarell or Clare. She afterwards married John Risley, by whom she had a daughter Jane. After the death of Joan Risley these lands came to her daughter by Thomas Clarell, Isabel (or Elizabeth) wife of Richard Poyner, who in her widowhood gave them to her son, the said Thomas Poyner. (fn. 155) The contest appears to have dragged on for at least fourteen years. (fn. 156) In 1564 the lands were held by Ralph Redmayn and his wife Bridget, with reversion on her death to Robert son and heir of Richard Poyner, and were sold to Peter Wentworth, owner of the manors of Lillingstone Lovell. (fn. 157)
Some land in this parish was held by Luffield Priory as part of its original endowment (fn. 158) in the first half of the 12th century. (fn. 159) In 1279 it consisted of half a virgate of land held under Margaret (usually called Margery) Dansey, and half a virgate held of John de Olney. (fn. 160) This property, mentioned in 1503 on the death of the last prior, Thomas Rowland, (fn. 161) was leased in 1505 for forty years to Sir Richard Empson. (fn. 162) After his attainder a lease for thirty-four years was obtained in 1512 by William Tyler. (fn. 163)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel 13 ft. 6 in. by 17 ft., a nave 48 ft. by 11 ft. 6 in., north chapel 17 ft. 6 in. by 11 ft., north aisle 6 ft. wide, south aisle 10 ft. wide, western tower 10 ft. square, a south porch and a modern vestry on the north side of the north aisle. The measurements are all internal.
There was apparently a small church here in the early part of the 13th century, of which the lower part of the tower, the reset south doorway, and possibly a part of the western walls of the nave still survive. In the middle of the 14th century the church was rebuilt and considerably enlarged. The retention of the tower and possibly the western part of the nave walls of the 13th-century church necessitated an eastward extension and restricted the width of the nave. The utilisation also of the foundations of the north wall of the north aisle of the earlier and smaller church caused the peculiar narrowness of the 14th-century north aisle. The want of proportion of the nave was still further emphasized by the size of the 14th-century chancel, which exceeds the nave in width and formerly extended considerably further to the east. The north chapel, the south aisle, and the topmost stage of the tower are also of the mid-14th-century. The church remained without alteration in plan for nearly three hundred years. About 1639 all the roofs except that of the chancel were renewed and the south porch was added. In 1777 the church was repaired, and it was at this date apparently that the chancel was shortened to about half its length, the east wall being then built in its present position. In 1892 the north vestry was added and the church was restored.
The chancel is lighted from the east by a 14thcentury three-light window with tracery in a pointed head, reset from the older east wall. On the north wall there are indications of the jambs and arch of a blocked window, and on the south is a 14th-century two-light window with tracery in a pointed head. Below this window is a square-headed low-side window with a modern shutter, and eastward is a 14th-century pointed doorway, now blocked. The pointed chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner springing from corbels.
The nave arcades of three bays on each side are of 14th-century date and have pointed arches of two chamfered orders springing from octagonal piers with moulded capitals and bases; the western responds have moulded corbels on carved heads, but the corbels on the eastern responds have been destroyed. There are four modern square-headed clearstory windows with trefoil lights on the south side. At the east end of the north wall is an opening possibly to light the rood-loft, and on the south side is the upper doorway to the loft.
The north chapel is lighted from the east by a 14th-century three-light window with tracery in a pointed head which contains some fragments of old glass. On the north side is a two-light window of similar design and in the south-east corner is a 15thcentury squint into the chancel. In the south wall at the east end of the chapel are a 14th-century double piscina having two trefoiled arches with tracery in a pointed head and a plain pointed sedile.
The narrow north aisle has a 14th-century twolight window in the north wall corresponding to the window in the north chapel, eastward of which is a moulded doorway with pointed head now leading into the modern vestry.
The south aisle is lighted from the east by a window similar to that in the corresponding position in the north chapel. On the north side of the window is a 15th-century squint to the chancel. In the south wall is an early 13th-century doorway, re-used, which has a pointed head of two moulded orders and shafted jambs with foliated capitals and moulded bases. On the east side of the doorway is a 15th-century stoup and further eastward is a plain threelight window with a four-centred head of a similar date. Beyond this window are a piscina and sedile, the former having two trefoil arches with a quatrefoil in a pointed head and the latter having a plain pointed head. Westward of the south doorway is a 14th-century two-light window, almost wholly restored, with tracery in a pointed head.
The 13th-century tower is surmounted by a modern saddle-back roof, below which is a string-course with heads at the angles. It is of three stages, but is without buttresses or external divisions. The pointed tower arch of two orders springs from square jambs with plain imposts. There is a lancet in the west wall of the tower and above is a smaller lancet on each side except the east. The middle stage has square openings on the north and south sides, and the bellchamber has on each side a 14th-century window of two lights with tracery in a pointed head.
The porch has a pointed entrance arch of two chamfered orders, over which is a stone with the date 1639, being that of the erection of the porch, and underneath it the date 1892, when a general restoration of the church took place. There is a round sundial in the gable.
There are two brasses in the chancel, one showing two hands rising from conventional clouds holding a pierced heart, below which is an inscription to John de Merston (Marston), rector of the church, who died on 11 February 1446–7. The other brass shows a civilian and his wife in the dress of the period, and an inscription to Thomas Clarell, patron of the church, who died on 20 September 1471, and to Agnes his wife, the date of whose death is left blank. There is a brass in the nave to William Risley, who died on 11 June 1513, and Agnes his wife, with three inverted shields, one bearing the quartered arms of Bradshaw and the others the arms of Risley of Chetwode. The four bells were made by Alexander Rigby in 1693.
The plate comprises an Elizabethan cup and cover paten, the foot of the latter being lost. They are without date letter or hall-mark. There are also a silver almsdish and flagon given by Mrs. Wentworth Creswell in 1761 and 1765 respectively, and a silver paten. The ancient pewter sacramental vessels were presented to the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society by the Rev. William Lloyd. (fn. 164) The registers begin in 1558.
Half the advowson of the church of Lillingstone Lovell was held in the later 12th century by Sybil Dangerville. (fn. 165) Her share was claimed in 1206 by William de Grendon, who derived his right through John de Loreng, who had married his sister Sybil. (fn. 166) In 1231 the king recovered the advowson against Ralph de Carevill and William de Osevill. (fn. 167) It remained in the Crown (fn. 168) until 1354, when it was granted to Nutley Abbey with licence to appropriate the church in lieu of a right to fuel in Bernwood Forest granted by King John. (fn. 169) As the abbey had trouble in obtaining the appropriation, a grant was made of 12½ marks yearly until such time as it could be effected. (fn. 170) This took place in 1366, when orders were given for the endowment of a vicarage. (fn. 171) No other reference occurs to the vicarage, which was apparently never ordained, and the right of presentation which remained with Nutley (fn. 172) was to a rectory, valued at £9 yearly at the Dissolution. (fn. 173) The advowson remained with the Crown (fn. 174) until about 1892, (fn. 175) when it was acquired by Mr. James Bogle Delap, the present owner.
There was a chapel at Great Lillingstone to which a presentation was made by Godfrey de St. Martin. (fn. 176) His son Hugh gave the advowson to Luffield Priory, which in 1239 sued the parson of Lillingstone for claiming it as appertaining to the mother church. (fn. 177) The right of the parson was evidently confirmed by the bishop, (fn. 178) but no later reference to the chapel has been found.
Sir Peter Wentworth, who died in 1675, by his will bequeathed £300 for the establishment of a charity for apprenticing. (fn. 179) The legacy was laid out in the purchase of a rent-charge of £18 issuing out of property called Keys in the parish of Lillingstone Dayrell, now belonging to Mr. J. B. Delap. One moiety of the rentcharge is applied in the parish of Lillingstone Lovell, and the other moiety is applicable in the parish of Woolstone, but does not appear to have been paid for many years.
The same testator likewise bequeathed for the poor of Lillingstone Lovell the sum of £100, which was laid out in the purchase of a rent-charge of £6 on the property called Keys, above referred to. The income is distributed in coal with that of the charity next mentioned.
The Whittlebury Forest Coal Charity consists of a sum of £63 3s. 1d. consols with the official trustees, arising from compensation for the disafforestation of the forest under an Act of 1852–3. (fn. 180) The annual income, amounting to £1 11s. 4d., is applied in the distribution of coal.
The Rev. William Lloyd, by his will proved at London 15 July 1889, bequeathed a legacy, now represented by £136 13s. 1d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends of which, amounting to £3 8s. 4d., are distributable among the aged and sick poor and the widows of the parish. In 1913 there were six recipients.