A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1927.
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The parish of Ilmer, having an extent of a little over 753 acres, lies low, to the north-west of the Chiltern Hills. The land is lowest, under 200 ft. above the ordnance datum, in the south, where two streams cross the parish flowing in a north-westerly direction. Towards the north and east the land rises, especially in the latter district, in which the village is situated and where a height of 282 ft. is reached. The village itself is small and compact, the church of St. Peter standing to the north-east. Near by is the manor-house, now occupied as a farm.
A considerable part of the parish is pasture land; in 1905, 172 acres were arable land, while 580 acres were permanent grass. (fn. 1) It is interesting to note that at an early date the parish was apparently ill-provided with pasture. (fn. 2) Royal licence to inclose the woods of Ilmer and La Sale and to make a park was granted to John de Moleyns in 1336. (fn. 3)
On the arable land of the parish wheat, barley and beans are the chief crops grown. In 1602 the lord of the manor sued a tenant for refusing to render, besides his money payment, an annual rent of two bushels of 'sweet and clean and dry beans' at the lord's house at Ascott. (fn. 4)
Fourteenth-century place-names in Ilmer include Middlefurlong benorth, Middlefurlong undertown, (fn. 5) and in the 15th century Shrobbes pasture, Brookfurlong, Groveditch, and Kingslake are mentioned. (fn. 6)
Before the Conquest Godwin, a man of Earl Leofwin, held in ILMER a manor which he could sell; in 1086 it was of the land of Odo of Bayeux, whose tenant Robert held it as 4 hides. (fn. 7) In the 12th century it was in the possession of the family of Rumenel (Romney), (fn. 8) who also held, as a member of it, Aston Bernard or Aston Mullins in Dinton. (fn. 9) Aston is not, however, invariably mentioned among the Fitz Bernards' lands here, (fn. 10) and in 1371 it was found that the manor of Aston was, and always had been, parcel of the manor of Ilmer. (fn. 11) They were finally separated in the 16th century, when George Earl of Huntingdon and his son and heir Francis Lord Hastings sold Aston in 1537 to Michael Dormer and Ilmer in 1538–9 to Sir Robert Dormer, kt. (fn. 12) Sir Robert held also the manor of Wing, with which Ilmer then descended, passing to the Earls of Carnarvon and Chesterfield, and being held by the latter until the 19th century. (fn. 13) At some period, probably about the middle of that century, Ilmer was sold by the Stanhopes to Moreton John Edwin Frewen, who was lord of the manor in 1862. (fn. 14) He and Mrs. Raper held the manor jointly in 1869 and until some time after 1880, and he and General Raper in 1887. General Raper's share appears to have been Upper Farm, sold by the Raper family in 1909 to Mr. A. Goodchild, the present owner. The greater part of Ilmer, however, consisting of the Manor, Lower and Coldharbour Farms, belonged to Mrs. Moreton Craigie, after whose death a life interest was enjoyed by Miss Moreton. She died in 1912, when the property passed to Mrs. Carter, by whom it was immediately sold, the Manor and Lower Farms being purchased by Mr. W. Hill and Mr. A. A. Kingham, while Mr. A. Fisher bought Coldharbour.
The lord of the manor enjoyed the same rights and privileges in Ilmer as in Aston. (fn. 15)
The capital messuage of the manor is mentioned in 1238, when the sheriff was ordered to assign either it or the one in Aston to Ralph Fitz Bernard's widow Joan. (fn. 16) It is again referred to in 1306. (fn. 17)
A mill was included among the appurtenances of the manor in 1086. (fn. 18) In 1306 there was a windmill, out of repair. (fn. 19) In 1328 the water-mill was also found to be broken down and valueless, (fn. 20) but it was repaired in 1342–3. (fn. 21) Later inquisitions, however, include no mention of either mill. There are interesting surveys of the manor taken in the 14th and 15th centuries, with particulars concerning the economic conditions of the time. (fn. 22)
The office of marshal and keeper of the king's hawks and other birds was held in the 12th century by the Rumenel family, lords of Ilmer, who seem at first to have held the marshalship as their personal right and not as appurtenant to their manor, for in 1204 the king, at the petition of Aubrey de Rumenel, widow of William de Jarpenville, who had with Aubrey 'all her inheritance and the marshalship of our birds,' granted the office to Thomas Fitz Bernard and his wife, the heir of the Jarpenvilles, and to their heirs for ever. (fn. 23) Afterwards, however, the office came to be actually the serjeanty by which the manor was held, (fn. 24) as was also the case with the Rumenels' manor of 'Effeton' in Kent. (fn. 25) In 1338 Sir John de Moleyns, who acquired Ilmer about twenty years after it left the Fitz Bernard family, petitioned the king for a grant of the office with the fees and wages, asserting that it was parcel of the manor, although neither he nor his immediate predecessors in the manor, including Ralph Fitz Bernard, had been seised thereof for some time. It having been found that William Fitz Bernard had held Ilmer by this serjeanty, it was granted to Sir John, 'because the manor is said to have been held by such service and in consideration of his long service to him (the king) and as well of his great charges and grave perils therein both beyond the seas and within.' (fn. 26)
In 1610 Sir Robert Dormer received a confirmation of the serjeanty. (fn. 27) A claim was made for the same office in respect of the manor of Aston. (fn. 28) Charles Earl of Carnarvon, as seised of the manor of Ilmer, claimed to be marshal of the king's hawks in England at the coronation of James II in 1685, but the claim was not allowed, 'because not respecting the coronation,' but the earl was 'left to take his course at law if he thought fit.' (fn. 29)
It is stated in 1306 that the marshal might if he wished send another to fill the office. (fn. 30) He held the post at the king's expense. (fn. 31) By a later account the marshal was found to have the 'superior custody of the king's falcons and other hawks from the game of the river, and the office of surveyor of all the services of the custody or mewing of the falcons, goshawks and other hawks, due to the king by any persons and of rivers preserved'; he had also full power of punishing delinquents in rivers preserved so far as such punishments belonged to the king by right. (fn. 32) The marshal also claimed the right of nominating his under-officers. (fn. 33)
The alienations of parts of this serjeanty in the 13th century have been referred to under Aston. (fn. 34) One portion, a messuage and 34 acres, was held by three tenants of the Abbot of Missenden. (fn. 35) In the reign of Henry III the abbot, with the consent of the tenants, agreed to pay a yearly rent of 7s. 6d. to the Crown in lieu of the serjeanty due for that portion. (fn. 36) In 1585–6 these lands were granted by the Crown to John Walton and John Cresset. (fn. 37)
The earliest part of the building is the nave, which dates from the 12th century. The chancel seems to have been rebuilt in the 14th century, when a small transept, destroyed in 1662, (fn. 38) was added on the south side of the nave. In the 16th century the timber bellcote at the west end of the nave was built, and in 1890 the whole fabric was restored and the porch added.
The chancel, which is divided from the nave by an oak screen on a low stone wall, has two singlelight windows in each lateral wall and a two-light window with modern tracery in the east wall. The north-west window is a 14th-century trefoiled light, but on its inner jambs are two late 15th-century sculptured groups, one representing the Holy Trinity with angels, and the other St. Christopher. The south-east window, which has a trefoiled head and traceried external spandrels, is probably of about 1380; the other windows have been considerably restored. In the south wall is a 14th-century trefoiled piscina.
On the south side of the nave is a blocked 12thcentury doorway with a round head springing from chamfered abaci, and near the east end is a blocked 14th-century arch of two orders which opened to the transept mentioned above; a late 18th-century window of two lights has been inserted in the blocking. In the north wall are a square-headed two-light window of about 1500 and a 13th-century pointed doorway with moulded abaci. The west wall, which is much thicker than the lateral walls, is pierced by a trefoiled light, which appears to have been reset in the 16th century. The nave has a 16th-century collar-beam roof with a plastered ceiling. The bellcote, which is supported by moulded posts at the west end of the nave, is weather-boarded, and is surmounted by an oak shingled spire.
The font is of mediaeval date, but the sides of its plain octagonal bowl have been recut; the oak cover is of the 17th century. The chancel screen, of ten traceried bays on either side of a central doorway with a four-centred head, dates from about 1500.
There are three bells: the treble inscribed 'Henri Knight made mee ano 1618'; the second 'Gloria in excelcuc (sic) deo 1586,' by William Knight; and the tenor 'Sancta Margareta Ora Pro Nobis. W. H,' probably by William Hasylwood of Reading, c. 1500.
The church of Ilmer was granted to the priory of Studley in Oxfordshire about 1203 by Aubrey daughter of David de Rumenel. (fn. 39) The vicarage, which was ordained before 1235, was in the gift of the prioress. (fn. 40) Ralph Fitz Bernard, grandson of the original benefactor, claimed the advowson and part of the land against the prioress in 1229, (fn. 41) but as he could not prove his right was obliged to quitclaim all interest to her and her successors. (fn. 42) In 1535 the annual value of the benefice was £7 exclusive of an annual pension of 6s. 8d. paid by the vicar to the prioress. (fn. 43) After the dissolution of Studley the rectory and advowson of Ilmer were granted to John Croke, (fn. 44) who received licence later in the same year— 1540—to alienate to Sir Robert Dormer and others. (fn. 45) Sir Robert also held the manor (q.v.), with which the rectory and advowson were held (fn. 46) until 1858, when the Rev. W. E. Partridge bought the advowson from the Earl of Chesterfield. (fn. 47) Before this date the incumbents had not infrequently held other livings simultaneously with Ilmer. Thus the vicar at the time of the Commonwealth was also rector of Aston Sandford; Cornish, presented in 1700, was curate of Princes Risborough and Kingsey, while a later vicar was also rector of Radnage. (fn. 48) The Rev. W. E. Partridge at the time of the sale above mentioned was not only the incumbent at Ilmer, but also rector of Horsenden, and these two livings were united by an Order in Council in 1865, the patronage passing, at the death of the Rev. W. E. Partridge in 1886, to his daughter and heir Mrs. Leonard Jaques, (fn. 49) with whom it still remains.
In 1349 Sir Richard Gladwin, the vicar, resigned the living; the lord of the manor then granted him for life a plot of the garden of the manor measuring 100 ft. by 50 ft., with permission to root up trees, to 'bring it into culture and otherwise to do his pleasure therein,' with a further gift of 7½ acres of arable land to be held for a yearly render of a rose at Midsummer, so that he should have the lord and his wife in memory both in masses and orisons. (fn. 50)
The Church Close, containing 1 a. 1 r. 20 p., was given, on a date not stated, by Earl Stanhope for the repair of the church. The land is let in allotments, producing £3 12s. 6d. yearly, which is applied towards the general church expenses.
Mrs. Sarah Maria Clotilda Raper by her will, proved at London 25 May 1881, bequeathed one-nineteenth part of her residuary personal estate for the benefit of the poor. The legacy is represented by £617 17s. 3d. consols with the official trustees. The annual dividends, amounting to £15 8s. 8d., are applied mainly in the distribution of coal and other articles in kind.