A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1927.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
WOUGHTON ON THE GREEN
Ulchetone (xi cent.); Woketon (xiii cent.); Woketon, Wocton (xiv cent.); Woughton on the Green (xvi cent.); Woughton alias Wokington super the Green (xvii cent.); Wokington alias Aston super le Greene (xvi and xviii cent.). (fn. 1)
The parish of Woughton has an area of 1,224. acres, of which 333 acres are arable land and 806 permanent grass. (fn. 2) The soil is various, mostly clay, and the subsoil clay and gravel. The principal crops grown are wheat, beans and barley. The parish is watered by the River Ouzel, which forms its eastern boundary. The slope of the land is from 345 ft. above ordnance datum in the west to 216 ft. above ordnance datum in the east, where the Ouzel is liable to overflow its banks. Until the end of the 18th century the river here was crossed by a bridge, known as Monxton's Bridge, connecting Walton and Woughton parishes. (fn. 3) This name is supposed to commemorate William de Mokelestone, at one time lord of a manor in Woughton, to whom the priest's effigy in the church was wrongly ascribed by Browne Willis. (fn. 4)
The village of Woughton on the Green stands on low ground in the east of the parish. and, as its name implies, has grown up around a large central green. On the east side of the green is St. Mary's Church and near by are the entrance gates of Woughton House, a modern building standing in a park of 43 acres. It is the property and residence of Mr. W. J. Levi, J. P. The older houses are mostly of halftimber with brick filling and thatched roofs. The old Swan Inn is a 17th-century house with later additions. The present rectory stands to the south of the church; an older and moated building, situated some distance westward in the neighbourhood of the canal, was formerly used as the rectory. This is probably the house referred to in a terrier of 1639 as a 'homestall' with a moat, a mansion-house containing five bays—namely, a kitchen, buttery, hall, two parlours and a study. There were also a stable of two little bays, a milk-house over the moat containing two bays, a garden plot and orchard of half a rood with a little house standing in the orchard. Without the moat was a barn of six bays, a hay-house of two bays, and land scattered over the common fields. (fn. 5) There is a Wesleyan chapel in the village, erected in 1867. Woughton was inclosed by private Act of Parliament in 1768, (fn. 6) when it was provided that proprietors of inclosed lands should deliver yearly to the poor a certain number of faggots in lieu of the right to cut furze on the waste lands. (fn. 7)
There were two manors in WOUGHTON at Domesday, of which the more important, assessed at 5½ hides, belonged to Martin who had succeeded Azor son of Toti, a thegn of King Edward. (fn. 8) The overlordship of this manor is found later attached to the earldom of Arundel, (fn. 9) until Richard Fitz Alan, Earl of Arundel, a Lord Appellant, was executed in 1397 as a political traitor, his honours being forfeited to the Crown. (fn. 10) The overlordship of Woughton appears to have been permanently alienated from the earldom, and is found in the possession of John Nowers in 1458, (fn. 11) 1459, (fn. 12) and 1470, (fn. 13) after which date no further reference has been found to its exercise.
The descent of the mesne manor of Woughton presents considerable difficulties, which have not hitherto been very successfully handled by Willis and other historians of Buckinghamshire. The lord of this, the principal manor, also owned the advowson of the church, and only by working together two sets of documents, those relating to the manor itself and those relating to the church, has it been found possible to disentangle, as far as may be, the descents. Martin held the land in demesne in 1086, (fn. 14) and the next holders of whom mention has been found are members of the Verly family. Roger de Verly was holding in 1162–3, when he paid half a mark for the king's pardon. (fn. 15) His name occurs again in 1175–6, when he was fined 10 marks for a breach of forest law, (fn. 16) and it is probably the same Roger against whom Avice wife of Robert de Cleies brought a plea of dower in 1200. (fn. 17) In 1221 and again in 1232 one of the same name presented Robert de Haia and William de Haia respectively to the parsonage of Woughton. (fn. 18) In 1234 the lands of Roger de Verly and of Hugh his son in Buckinghamshire and Norfolk were said to be mortgaged to the Jews. (fn. 19) Roger de Verly died about 1235, in which year Hugh was answerable for his father's debts, (fn. 20) and about the same date he was said to hold a fee in Woughton. (fn. 21) Hugh de Verly, of whom no later mention has been found than 1242, (fn. 22) left a daughter and heir Clarice. (fn. 23) His mother, Hawise de Verly, (fn. 24) however, held Woughton in dower, as appears from a suit which she brought in 1258–9 against trespassers on her free fishery there, (fn. 25) and also from the fact that she presented to the church in 1263. (fn. 26) The actual date of Clarice de Verly's occupation of Woughton has not been established; she was succeeded by her daughter and heir Agnes, (fn. 27) who died at some time before 1287, (fn. 28) when Sibyl wife of Robert de Cave and Alice wife of Robert de Brangwyn, sisters of Hugh de Verly, (fn. 29) claimed equal rights in her inheritance. At this date the Brangwyns sued the Caves for the right of presentation to the church, which fell vacant during the minority of Thomas son of Roger de Nikelfield. (fn. 30) Thomas de Nikelfield, whose identity has not been established, was still a minor in 1287. (fn. 31) No further mention of him has been found, and Roger de Tyringham, whose connexion with the lords of Woughton Manor has not been established, presented to the church in 1301. (fn. 32) About this date there seems to have been a partition of the manor into two unequal divisions. (fn. 33) The more important share is found in 1316 in the possession of William de Mokelstone, (fn. 34) who held three parts of Woughton Manor and the advowson in right of Joan his wife. (fn. 35) Together with her he alienated it in 1347, to Sir John de Pulteney, kt., (fn. 36) who appears to have alienated it almost immediately to John de Botetourt, for he is found presenting to the church in 1349. (fn. 37) In 1358 John de Botetourt and Joyce his wife settled the manor and advowson of Woughton on their son John on the occasion of his marriage with Maud daughter of John de Grey of Rotherfield. (fn. 38) John de Botetourt, jun., died seised in 1369, when his son John, aged seven, was declared to be his heir. (fn. 39) At this date the manor was said to be worth 100s. and the church 10 marks. (fn. 40) Maud de Botetourt married a second husband, Thomas Harcourt, and held this manor in dower till her death in January 1393–4. (fn. 41) Her son John predeceased her, and her heir was then her daughter Joyce, wife of Sir Hugh Burnell, kt., (fn. 42) who had already made a settlement of the manor in favour of Thomas Harcourt in 1386. (fn. 43) Sir Hugh Burnell held the advowson in 1394, (fn. 44) between which date and 1417 an alienation took place to Sir Thomas Green, kt., who then died seised. (fn. 45) His heir was his son Thomas Green, who did not long retain the Woughton property, for in 1424 the feoffees of Richard Fox had acquired it. (fn. 46) A gap here occurs in the descent of the manor, which is next found in the family of Vavasour, who are described in the bishop's register as dwelling 'in Partibus Borealibus.' (fn. 47) This description helps to identify them with the Vavasours of Hazlewood, Yorkshire, more especially as names of the Vavasours connected with Woughton fit in with the known pedigree of this family. (fn. 48) In 1490 Sir John Vavasour, justice of the King's Bench, presented to Woughton Church, (fn. 49) and in 1518 one of the same family had the patronage. (fn. 50) Finally, in 1553 Peter Vavasour conveyed both manor and advowson to Edmund Mordaunt. (fn. 51) They were retained by the Mordaunts (later Earls of Peterborough) with the Castle Manor in Lavendon and with Willen (q.v.) till about the middle of the 17th century. (fn. 52) In 1637 Woughton Manor and advowson were conveyed, together with Willen, by John Earl of Peterborough to his sisters, Elizabeth, Margaret and Ann Mordaunt. (fn. 53) In 1640 they and their brother Lewis Mordaunt. (fn. 54) transfered Willen to Roger Nicholls, (fn. 55) the conveyance probably comprising Woughton, since the Earl re nounced all rights in the same in the following year. (fn. 56) In 1656 Roger Nicholls made a settlement on William Nicholls. (fn. 57) In 1678 Richard Nicholls and Elizabeth his wife combined with William Nicholls and others in a further settlement. (fn. 58) Roger Nicholls, the next lord of the manor, presented to the church in 1704, (fn. 59) and finally, in 1717, disposed of the whole estate to William Troutbeck. (fn. 60) Of this latter family Edward Troutbeck, who was vicar of Westbury, presented to Woughton Rectory in 1746, (fn. 61) and Thomas Troutbeck and Lucy his wife made a settlement of the manor in 1781. (fn. 62) Thomas Troutbeck died in 1782, (fn. 63) in which year his widow Lucy presented to the church. (fn. 64) The name of William Troutbeck, a beneficiary under the will of Thomas, occurs between 1793 and 1800, (fn. 65) but shortly after that date changes in ownership took place, the Rev. Mr. Dreyer being patron and incumbent about 1813, (fn. 66) while Francis Rose acquired Woughton from him before 1823. (fn. 67) Sheahan gives the name of the Rev. Maurice Farrell, who died in 1888, as lord of the manor and patron of the rectory, (fn. 68) while since the end of the 19th century the advowson has been held by Mr. Henry Carrington Bowles, who is also one of the principal landowners.
Returning to the history of the second moiety of Woughton Manor, after its partition between the Verly co-heirs, we find very little detail of its descent in the 14th century. Walter de Cheriton appears to have been in possession in 1346, (fn. 69) and forty years later had given place to John Longville. (fn. 70) This family, whose seat was at Wolverton (q.v.), was destined to retain their estate in Woughton for upwards of 400 years. (fn. 71) In 1732 the Longvilles were said still to retain the third of the advowson (fn. 72) and presumably the moiety of the manor. They must have parted with them shortly after this date to the Troutbecks, lords of the other moiety, for four consecutive presentations were made in 1782, 1793, 1796 and 1800 by members of the Troutbeck family, (fn. 73) and no further trace of division of the manor has been found.
In 1086 a second property known as WOUGHTON MANOR was assessed at 4 hides, and attached to the lands of the Count of Mortain. (fn. 74) He was half-brother of the Conqueror, and was usually considered Earl of Cornwall, (fn. 75) to which earldom the overlordship is later found attached. The manor was held by knight's service, ranging from two fees about 1235 (fn. 76) to a quarter of a fee in 1302–3. (fn. 77) At the latter date it was part of the earl's honour of Berkhampstead. (fn. 78) The overlordship was held by the Prince of Wales (also Duke of Cornwall) in 1376, (fn. 79) but in 1388 was said to be exercised by Thomas Pever. (fn. 80)
Overlordship rights in Woughton were attached to the Honour of Berkhampstead as late as 1649. (fn. 81)
Eight thegns, whose names are given, held this manor under the Confessor, and had been succeeded in 1086 by Ralph. (fn. 82) His successors took the surname of de Wocheton, Woketon or Woughton. Of them may be noted Robert de Woketon, who in 1166–7 paid half a mark to the sheriff of the county, (fn. 83) and whose name also occurs as a juror in the first year of King John's reign. (fn. 84) Walter de Woketon appears in 1225, when he was engaged in a dispute with the parson of Woughton as to whether 26½ acres of land were of his lay fee or belonged to the church. (fn. 85) His name occurs for the last time about 1235, (fn. 86) and was followed by that of Hugh de Woketon, holding here in 1255. (fn. 87) His death occurred in or about the year 1279, when a division of his estates took place between his daughters and co-heirs, Joan wife of William de Jarpenville and Sibyl wife of Hugh de Bray. (fn. 88) In that year Hugh de Bray and Sibyl came to the king's court and complained that an unfair division had been made of Hugh's inheritance, and after what they wished to propound had been heard, it was found that the chief messuage that belonged to Hugh de Woketon in Woughton remained to be divided between Hugh and Sibyl and William de Jarpenville and Joan his wife, elder daughter and co-heir of Hugh de Woketon, and it was considered in the same court that William and Joan should have the hearth and the things that pertain to hearth-heir (astrarium), and that Hugh and Sibyl should have their purparty within the said messuage. (fn. 89)
With regard to the history of that moiety of Woughton Manor which fell to William and Joan de Jarpenville, William de Jarpenville's name is returned in the Feudal Aid for 1284–6, (fn. 90) and in 1302–3 that of Robert de Jarpenville associated with him. (fn. 91) In 1321 he acknowledged a debt of £ 500 to Henry de Jarpenville, to be levied in default of payment on his goods and chattels in Bedfordshire. (fn. 92) In 1335 William de Jarpenville, probably a son of the first-named, levied a fine with Hawise Luke on nine messuages, 138 acres of land, 7s. 10d. rent and one-third of a messuage in Woughton, a settlement of this property being made on William, Hawise, Hugh son of Hawise and William his brother, with remainder to the right heirs of William de Jarpenville. (fn. 93) In 1346 Hugh de Croft (fn. 94) held William de Jarpenville's land, while Hugh de Jarpenville held the fee which Robert de Jarpenville held in 1302–3, (fn. 95) but after 1346 nothing further has been ascertained of the Jarpenville moiety.
With reference to the moiety which passed to Hugh and Sibyl de Bray, a settlement is found in 1283, by which Hugh and Sibyl recognized the right of Ralph son of Philip de Woketon (evidently a younger branch of the family resident in the parish) to a messuage and three parts of a virgate in Woughton, Ralph paying a yearly rent and suit of court in return. (fn. 96) Hugh de Bray's name occurs as connected with Woughton in 1284 (fn. 97) and again in 1291, (fn. 98) but shortly after the latter year he appears to have alienated his property in Woughton to Peter de Flitton. (fn. 99) The only evidence that has been found of any composition between them is in 1293, when Hugh and Sibyl acknowledged the right of Alice wife of Peter de Flitton to half a virgate in Woughton. (fn. 100) Peter de Flitton held Hugh de Bray's fee in 1302, (fn. 101) between which date and 1316 it had been alienated by Alice de Flitton to Roger Grey on behalf of his father, John Grey, Lord de Grey. (fn. 102) The Greys (afterwards Earls of Kent) owned the manor of Bletchley (q.v.), and this part of Woughton follows the same descent as that manor until its alienation in the 17th century. Woughton, however, remained with the Greys until certainly the 18th century, and was attached to their manor of Brogborough, Bedfordshire. (fn. 103) Several individual references to Woughton may be noted in accounts of Grey property. In 1323 the total value of Woughton, arising from free tenants, bondmen and rents of assize, was 69s. 11¾d. (fn. 104) In 1324 Roger son of John Lord de Grey was said to hold Woughton Manor, (fn. 105) and in 1388 and again in 1396 the property was described as one-fourth of the manor. (fn. 106) In the middle of the 16th century it is called 'certain lands and tenements. . . parcel of the manor of Brokborowe,' and then included one tenant holding in free soccage, four customary tenants and three paying rents of assize. (fn. 107) After the 17th century casual mention is found of appurtenances in Woughton attached to Brogborough Manor. (fn. 108)
The Abbot of Woburn owned a small property in Woughton, which was taxed, together with Crawley, at 59s. 11d. in 1337. (fn. 109) A messuage and 15 acres in Woughton belonged to the abbot in 1366. (fn. 110) At the Dissolution the abbey's rents in Woughton were demised to Richard Potte, and were worth 13s. 4d. (fn. 111) In 1579 Edmund Downing and John Walker received a royal grant of these lands. (fn. 112)
The church of the ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN consists of a chancel 38 ft. by 17 ft., north vestry, south organ chamber, nave 46 ft. 6 in. by 19 ft., south aisle 9 ft. 6 in. wide, west tower 10 ft. square, and south porch. A north vestry and south organ chamber are modern additions.
The church appears to have been reconstructed and enlarged in the first half of the 14th century, when the south aisle and porches were added, but the chancel and nave incorporate in their north walls remains of a 13th-century building, and the stones of the chancel arch, which was widened when the church was rebuilt, belong to the middle of that century. The west tower was built early in the 15th century. The north vestry was added in 1867 and the organ chamber in 1891.
The chancel is lighted by a modern window at the east end, by a two-light window with modern tracery on the north, and on the south by a two-light 14thcentury window, the sill of which has been carried down to form a seat with traceried back. At the east end of the north wall is a 14th-century recess much restored, with an elaborately moulded ogee arch and a carved finial; two roughly carved heads are set in the imposts, while at the west end of the wall is a modern doorway to the vestry. To the west of the window in the south wall is the entrance to the modern organ chamber. The chancel arch was originally of mid-13th-century date, but the enlargement of the chancel in the 14th-century required increased width of the arch, which does not now fit on to the jambs. The square jambs have half-octagonal pilasters with moulded capitals and bases. There is a 15th-century piscina with a cinquefoiled head having crockets and buttresses, much of which is modern. In the modern organ chamber are two 14th-century windows, that in the east wall was taken from the east wall of the south aisle. A similar window and a door in the south wall have been reset from the chancel.
The nave is lighted from the north by two 15thcentury windows, the eastern of which has modern tracery, and in the same wall is a contemporary moulded doorway. On the south side is an arcade of four bays of early 14th-century date. The arches are pointed and of two chamfered orders, and spring from quatrefoil columns and responds with moulded capitals and bases. In the wall to the east of the arcade is a small arched opening, nearly all modern, but with an old sill about 3 ft. above the floor, in which is the bowl of a piscina. Above the arch is a partly broken grotesque head with curled hair. In the east wall is a 14th-century niche with a trefoiled head partly cut back to the wall. In the modern external cornice of the north wall are set several small carved grotesques, apparently of the 13th century, which were found during restoration buried in the wall. The different character of the masonry in the western bay points to a lengthening of the 13th-century nave in the 14th century.
The south aisle is lighted from the south by two windows and from the west by one window; the openings of both appear to be original but the tracery is modern. Between the windows in the south wall is a 14th-century moulded and chamfered doorway. At the south-east is a double piscina of the 15th century with flanking buttresses and a crocketed and finialled main head of ogee form inclosing two trefoiled heads with a pierced quatrefoil between them. Only the eastern recess has a bowl, and the central mullion is gone. The rood-loft staircase at the northeast corner of the aisle is intact and retains its upper and lower square-headed doorways. Over the latter is a 15th-century canopy resting on grotesque corbels.
The tower is of three stages. The tower arch is four-centred, with moulded capitals and bases. The two-light west window of the ground stage has modern tracery in original jambs. Above it is a small squareheaded window, and in the bell-chamber are four windows of two lights under pointed heads, all badly repaired in cement.
The 14th-century south porch has an outer archway with chamfered jambs having half-octagonal pilasters and moulded capitals, but no bases. Over the arch is an image niche with a trefoiled head. At the sides are square openings containing two lights with trefoiled heads.
The font has a tub-shaped bowl of the 13th century. The communion table is of late 16th-century date, and has large turned baluster legs. It has a modern top and two new legs, and has been much enlarged. There is a chair in the chancel of about the same date with a carved back, turned legs, and curved arms.
In the recess in the chancel is a 14th-century effigy of a priest in mass vestments, his feet resting on an animal. It lies on a slab raised above the floor with a panelled front of tracery of the same date. North of the chancel in the churchyard is a ridged coffin lid with remains of an incised cross of the 13th or 14th century. In the chancel is a marble wall tablet to David James, rector (d. 1746), and his wife Martha (d. 1735). In the tower floor is a slab to the same persons, but not in its original position. Another marble tablet in the chancel is to David James (d. 1789), his wife Catherine (d. 1780), and widow Ann (d. 1791).
There are four bells: the treble and second, formerly dated 1653 and 1717 respectively, were recast in 1887; the third is inscribed 'Chandler made me 1701,' and the fourth is by Pack & Chapman of London, 1771.
The plate consists of a fine 15th-century paten; a flagon inscribed 'Ex dono Mary James 1738,' but without date-mark; a plain cup with moulded stem of 17th-century date, unmarked; a paten inscribed 'The Gift of Da. James Rector of Woughton 1732,' with the date-mark of 1720; and a modern chalice. The 15th-century paten is silver-gilt, and has a central sexfoil sinking inscribed with the sacred monogram, the cusps and foils being engraved with foliated ornament. Round the rim is a black-letter inscription, 'Miserere mei Deus secundum magnam misericordiam tuam,' with foliated stops between the words. The metal shows signs of wear.
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) mixed entries 1558 to 1652, in very bad condition, has been printed by the Bucks Parish Register Society; (ii) mixed entries 1692 to 1718; (iii) baptisms and burials 1718 to 1812; (iv) marriages 1755 to 1812. The entries from 1653 to 1692 have been lost.
The descent of the advowson of the church of Woughton has already been traced under the history of the manor. In 1291 the church was assessed at £6 13s. 4d., (fn. 113) and at the Dissolution the rectory was said to be worth £17. (fn. 114)
By the Inclosure Act of 1768 an allotment of land was assigned to the rector in lieu of tithes. (fn. 115)
Church and Poor's Allotment.—Under the Inclosure Award of 1769 (fn. 116) an allotment of 13 a. 3 r. 2 p. was made to the feoffees of Woughton in lieu of lands formerly belonging to them. The property of the charity consists of this allotment, also of five cottages and two gardens, producing a gross income of about £20. The net income is divided into moieties, one moiety being applied for church purposes and the other, together with the fuel money next mentioned, is distributed in coal.
Fuel for Poor.—Under the Inclosure Act above referred to provision was made for delivery at the church gate of a certain number of faggots for the use of the poor. The sum of £2 2s. 4d. is now paid annually in respect of this charity.
The Rev. Maurice Farrell by his will, proved at London 2 August 1888, bequeathed £100 consols (with the official trustees), the annual dividends of £2 10s. being applicable under the provisions of a scheme of 17 February 1891 for the benefit of the poor in such way as the trustees should consider most conducive to the formation of provident habits.