A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1927.
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Merstone (xi cent.); Flettemerstone (xiii cent.).
Fleet Marston is a small parish of three farms and several cottages with an area of 934 acres, (fn. 1) which, with the exception of about 24 acres of arable land, is low-lying pasture land of an average height of 250 ft. above the ordnance datum. Both soil and subsoil consist of heavy clay. The church stands in the east of the parish between Akeman Street and the Metropolitan and Great Central Joint Railway. The parsonage accommodation being inadequate, the rector has been non-resident for a long time. A mansion, possibly the site of the manor mentioned in 1517, (fn. 2) formerly stood near the church on Chapel Ground, and was taken down in 1772. (fn. 3) In Akeman Street, near the church, is a 17th-century house, partly refaced with brick, with original chimney, ceiling beams, and oak newel staircase. Fleet Marston Farm, which has plastered walls and a tiled roof, stands to the north of the church; part of the building is of the 17th century and retains some moulded ceiling beams and a portion of the original oak staircase.
Under Edward the Confessor Turgot, Earl Lewin's man, held and could sell FLEET MARSTON MANOR. (fn. 4) In 1086 it was assessed at 3 hides and held by Walter Vernon. (fn. 5) Early in the 13th century the overlordship appertained to the honour of Wallingford. (fn. 6) It continued in this honour (fn. 7) and afterwards in that of Ewelme, (fn. 8) being last mentioned in 1639. (fn. 9)
Fleet Marston Manor was held by the Bellewes in the 12th century, and was divided into moieties at the death of Geoffrey Bellewe, about 1200. (fn. 10) One moiety, afterwards the principal manor, called Fleet Marston Manor and including the doubtful 16thcentury manors of Neyrnuts Grove and Hartshorn, passed through the marriage of his daughter Maud to the Neyrnuts and descended with Pitstone Neyrnut (q.v.) to the sisters of the last John Neyrnut, Margaret wife of John Harvey, and Elizabeth wife of John Hartshorn. (fn. 11) Margaret's share in the estate descended to her grandson George, (fn. 12) afterwards Sir George Harvey, and was conveyed by him in 1513 to Robert Lee of Quarrendon, (fn. 13) to whom he had leased it ten years previously. (fn. 14) Elizabeth's share descended in the Hartshorns, as did Pitstone Neyrnut. (fn. 15) Mary, widow of John Colt and then the wife of Richard Higham, sold it in 1540 to Sir Anthony Lee. (fn. 16) The whole Neyrnut manor in Fleet Marston thus descended with Quarrendon (fn. 17) (q.v.) to Charles Lee-Dillon, twelfth Viscount Dillon, who sold it to John TirelMorin early in the 19th century. (fn. 18) Morin died in 1807, (fn. 19) and his only child, Jane Elizabeth, died in the following year. In 1809 the manor was sold by the trustees under an Act of Parliament (fn. 20) to William Williams of Wandsworth. (fn. 21) In 1862 Miss Williams and Sir Astley Cooper, bart., owned Fleet Marston, (fn. 22) but all manorial rights have apparently lapsed.
The second moiety of the original manor in Fleet Marston, afterwards also called FLEET MARSTON MANOR, passed in 1200 to Geoffrey Bellewe's daughter and co-heir Alice, wife of Thomas son of Richard. (fn. 23) She sold it to Ralph Verney (fn. 24) in 1223. (fn. 25) On his death about 1226 his widow Mabel held it for two years by special grant, (fn. 26) and his son John did homage for it in 1229, (fn. 27) and was still living in 1234. (fn. 28) Ralph Verney had succeeded his father John (fn. 29) before 1246, (fn. 30) and his son Robert was holding in 1283, (fn. 31) and was succeeded in 1322 by his son John. (fn. 32) His immediate successors appear to have been two other John Verneys in the direct line, (fn. 33) Fleet Marston Manor then passing to the last John Verney's brother Edward, (fn. 34) or his son Ralph, father of the first Sir Ralph Verney. (fn. 35) The latter, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1465 and member of Parliament for that city in 1472, (fn. 36) died seised of Fleet Marston Manor in 1478, when his heir was his son John. (fn. 37) From this date the manor follows the descent of Middle Claydon (q.v.) till 1559, (fn. 38) when Edmund and Francis Verney conveyed it to William, afterwards Sir William Hawtrey and his wife Agnes. (fn. 39) By 1612 it had been divided between two of his daughters and co-heirs, Anne wife of John Saunders, and Bridget wife of Henry, afterwards Sir Henry Croke, (fn. 40) who made settlements in this year. (fn. 41) Anne Saunders died in widowhood in 1624, and her daughter and heir Elizabeth, (fn. 42) with her husband Sir Walter Pye, obtained her mother's moiety in 1631. (fn. 43) In 1640 (fn. 44) she died seised of this moiety, and probably Sir Henry Croke held the other. Their lands were split up and sold during the Civil War. (fn. 45) Some of them came to Richard Hampden, and in 1730 were sold by his trustees to Sarah Duchess of Marlborough. (fn. 46) The duchess had purchased other lands in Fleet Marston, including Putlowe's Farm, from the representatives of Sir Richard Anderson, bart., (fn. 47) in 1729, and the whole estate thereupon descended with Upper Winchendon Manor (q.v.) until after the death of George Duke of Marlborough in 1817, (fn. 48) when it was sold to William Williams, (fn. 49) owner of Fleet Marston Manor (q.v.).
LITTLE alias WRETCHED MARSTON MANOR corresponds to the land in Little Marston (a district lying apparently chiefly in Fleet Marston parish and extending into Quarrendon) held by John Fitz Geoffrey in the middle 13th century, (fn. 50) and to the Marston Manor held by his son John in 1264. (fn. 51) It reappears among the estates of Sir Henry Lee in 1577, (fn. 52) when it consisted of a great pasture called Little Marston and some meadows. (fn. 53) It is distinguished from Fleet Marston in the enumeration of the Lee estates (fn. 54) until 1660, (fn. 55) probably on account of its association by tenure with Quarrendon. (fn. 56)
Medmenham Abbey owned some lands in Fleet Marston granted to it in 1349 by Hugh de Berewic. (fn. 57) After the Dissolution these lands, then in lease to Robert Lee, were granted in 1545 to John Lord Russell, (fn. 58) who sold them to Sir Anthony Lee, (fn. 59) and they became incorporated with his other lands.
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel measuring internally 19 ft. by 13 ft. 6 in., nave 39 ft. by 14 ft., north porch and west bellcote; it is built of stone and roofed with tiles.
The church seems to have been considerably altered during the 14th century, and the earliest existing details are of that period, but traces of two small windows in the chancel, now blocked, indicate that the fabric was built at an earlier date. The church was restored in 1868–9, and the porch and bellcote are modern.
The chancel has in each side wall a 14th-century trefoiled light, and at the south-east is a two-light square-headed window of the same period, which retains some fragments of contemporary glass and has a sexfoil piscina bowl in its sill. The southern windows have been restored. The east wall, which seems to have been rebuilt, is pierced by a trefoiled light, mostly modern. In the south wall is also a 14th-century pointed doorway, and in the north wall is a square locker. The roof is modern. The chancel arch, the jambs of which retain traces of a former stone screen, and have ball-flower capitals, dates from the early 14th century; the pointed arch is now somewhat distorted.
In the south wall of the nave is a square-headed window of four cinquefoiled lights of about 1380, and in the north wall are two much-restored windows and a 14th-century doorway. The eastern window, which is of the late 14th century, is of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery, and the other is a wide single light with a 14th-century rear-arch. At the north-east is a corbel, probably for the rood-loft; on the jambs of the north-east window and the doorway are traces of old colour. Externally there is a sundial on the south wall of the nave, and at the north-west is a projection which supported a former bell-turret. The nave has a 15th-century open-timber roof, with queen-post trusses and curved wind-braces. The porch has been rebuilt, but a 14th-century trefoiled light has been reset in each of the lateral walls; above the nave doorway is a moulded trefoiled niche of the same period.
The font, which probably dates from the 13th century, though since retooled, has a rough tapering bowl with an edge-roll at the bottom, and a plain round stem. On the south wall of the chancel is a monument to Agnes wife of John Hoffman, rector of the parish, who died in 1639, and her two daughters. There are also mural monuments to members of the Markham family.
There is one bell, inscribed 'John Woodman. C.W. E.H. 1746,' by Edward Hall of Drayton Parslow.
The plate is modern.
The registers begin in 1630.
The church of Fleet Marston, which is a rectory, was appurtenant to the manor. A presentation was made by the bishop in 1223. (fn. 60) In 1246 Geoffrey Neyrnut made good his claim to the right of presentation for that turn against Ralph Verney, (fn. 61) who afterwards sold his moiety to John Neyrnut. (fn. 62) The right of John Neyrnut was established in law against Robert Verney in 1283. (fn. 63) The church was valued at £4 6s. 8d. in 1291 (fn. 64) and at £10 in 1535. (fn. 65) The advowson descended with the principal manor of Fleet Marston (q.v.) (presentations being made by agreement between the owners of the moieties during the period of subdivision) (fn. 66) until its sale in 1805 by John Tirel-Morin (fn. 67) to Mr. Dobree, whose son the Rev. John Gale-Dobree, rector of Fleet Marston, owned it in the middle of the 19th century. (fn. 68) The advowson has since been frequently purchased by successive rectors. (fn. 69) Mr. W. Brimblecombe has, however, owned it since 1903. (fn. 70)
There do not appear to be any endowed charities subsisting in this parish.