Hanborough: Church

Pages 173-177

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.

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Hanborough church was in existence by c. 1130 when Henry I granted it to Reading abbey. (fn. 7) Reading abbey retained the advowson until the Dissolution. (fn. 8) The king presented during voidances of the abbey in the 13th century and the earlier 14th, but in 1365 the abbey successfully claimed such presentations for the prior. (fn. 9) In 1552 the advowson was among a number of estates granted to Edward Clinton or Fiennes, Lord Clinton and Say, who before 1558 conveyed it to Sir John Baker, speaker of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer. (fn. 10) From Sir John (d. 1558) the advowson passed to his son Richard and then to Martin Culpeper, later warden of New College, Oxford. (fn. 11) Culpeper granted an interest in the advowson to his brother Walter (d. 1616) and to Walter's wife Jane or Joan (d. 1636), but the advowson itself seems to have been claimed after Martin's death in 1605 by his daughter-in-law Joyce (d. 1618) and his nephew John Culpeper. In 1623 the patrons were Jane Culpeper and William Sandys, apparently Joyce Culpeper's heir; they had granted a turn to John Tylie of Castle Combe (Wilts.) and John Fudgell of Charlecombe (Som.). (fn. 12) In 1638 Sir William Sandys conveyed the advowson to his son William and to Thomas Ayres, to whom Thomas Culpeper, son and heir of John Culpeper, quitclaimed it. (fn. 13)

At the request of Archbishop Laud, Sandys and Ayres conveyed the advowson to St. John's College for the benefit of the president of the college. (fn. 14) Before that conveyance, however, Sandys and Ayres had granted a turn to Adam Torless of Lambeth, who presented in 1638. (fn. 15) In 1665 John Houghton, fellow of Brasenose College, presented Richard Baylie, president of St. John's College, presumably by a grant of a turn. (fn. 16) Thereafter the college regularly presented successive presidents until 1854 when the living was separated from the presidency. The college was still patron in 1986. (fn. 17)

The living, a rectory with 4 yardlands of glebe, was valued at only 8 marks or £8 in 1254, but at £11 16s. 8d. net, after the payment of a pension of 30s. to the abbot of Reading, in 1291. (fn. 18) The value in 1254 may have been reduced by the payment of a pension to a former rector. The 30s. pension to Reading abbey continued to be paid until the Dissolution, an attempt by Henry Beaufort, bishop of Lincoln, in 1403 to stop the payment of that and other pensions to Reading having failed. (fn. 19) The value of the living was unchanged in 1526 and in 1535, £13 6s. 8d. gross, £11 6s. net after the payment of the abbot of Reading's pension and of procurations and synodals. (fn. 20)

In the early 17th century the rectory was said to be worth £100, and in the early 18th century £300. (fn. 21) At inclosure in 1773 the rector was allotted c. 309 a. for tithe and 93 a. for the 4 yardlands of glebe. (fn. 22) In 1831 the income was £382 gross, £353 net; by 1851 it had risen to just over £400 gross, and in 1865 it was £600 a year gross, £537 net, almost all derived from land. (fn. 23) The glebe was leased and in 1896 the rector complained that the net income of £296 10s. did not allow him to employ the curate or reader whom he needed. By 1899, however, the rent for the glebe farm had risen to £363. (fn. 24)

In 1237 Reading abbey presented to a vicarage composed of a third of the endowments of the church, but the arrangement seems to have ended in 1239 when the vicar was presented to the rectory and the former rector, who had served the church since 1220 or earlier, was given a pension of 18 marks a year and the use of the vicar's house for as long as he lived as a layman. (fn. 25)

The medieval rectory house stood south of the church on the site of the later rectory farmhouse. The site, or part of it, seems to have been acquired by exchange in 1255-6, and in 1257 the rector had 12 oaks from Pinsley wood to repair the buildings. (fn. 26) The north-south range of the surviving house is of later 16th-century origin, and may then have formed part of a larger house. In 1662 the rectory house was the largest house in the parish, assessed on 10 hearths, and in 1685 it had seven low rooms on the ground floor: kitchen, hall, wainscoted parlour, dairy house and 3 'butens', and eleven chambers and a long gallery above them. (fn. 27) For most of the 18th century the house seems to have been occupied as the glebe farmhouse, but c. 1795 the rector, Michael Marlow, added four rooms for his own use, perhaps incorporating part of an older range. (fn. 28) The interior was refitted in the earlier 19th century, perhaps c. 1815 for the first resident curate, but the building deteriorated thereafter, and despite the addition of buttresses was found in 1845 to be in a dangerous condition. A new rectory house was built that year in Cotswold style on glebe land north-west of the church. The old house was repaired as the rectory farmhouse. (fn. 29) The Victorian rectory house was replaced in 1966 by a new house in Long Hanborough. (fn. 30)

The large size of the 12th-century church suggests its importance, and in 1220 and c. 1221 the rector was styled dean. (fn. 31) Henry de Wengham, presented by Henry III in 1253, was a nephew of the royal clerk and later bishop of London of the same name; the younger Henry was studying at Oxford, and was perhaps given Hanborough rectory to support him there. (fn. 32) Henry of Woodstock (d. 1277), a licensed pluralist, was the queen's chancellor and a papal chaplain. (fn. 33) Two 14th-century rectors, Alexander de Quappelode (1311-36) and John Noyon (1345-9), had licences to study, presumably at Oxford; a chaplain and a parochial chaplain, who may have been curates, were recorded in 1362 and 1382. (fn. 34) John Turry, rector in 1410 and 1426, had a testimonial letter from Oxford university in the latter year, suggesting that at least part of his time was spent in Oxford. (fn. 35) Neglect by such absentee rectors perhaps accounts for the presence of Lollards in the parish in 1414 and 1415. (fn. 36) The later 15th-century rectors were all members of the university; Roger Combe died in Oxford in 1458, and at least one, Simon Tawere (1458-75), was a pluralist. (fn. 37) John Higden, rector from 1518 to 1532, was successively president of Magdalen College, dean of Cardinal College, and dean of Henry VIII's College or Christ Church. About 1520 it was reported that Higden did not reside and two former churchwardens had failed to account satisfactorily for church goods. (fn. 38) By 1526 Higden employed a curate to serve the cure. (fn. 39)

The rector from 1534 to 1558 was the pluralist John Holyman, bishop of Bristol from 1554, (fn. 40) who seems to have lived at Hanborough for much of his incumbency. In 1537 one of Cromwell's spies reported that he was a secret favourer of the bishop of Rome and 'marvellous familiar' with the abbots of Eynsham and Reading. (fn. 41) Some at least of his parishioners shared his views; one in 1557 left 8d. for an antiphonal for Hanborough church. (fn. 42) His successor at Hanborough was his protegé Thomas Neal, later professor of Hebrew at Oxford, who was 'more Catholic than protestant', but whose two curates at Hanborough conformed to the Elizabethan settlement. (fn. 43) Neal resigned in 1567, retiring to Cassington, but he remained on good terms with his curate and successor Ralph Merryman, being an executor of his will in 1577. (fn. 44) Merryman's successor, John Bates, rector 1576-1623, lived in Hanborough where he acquired an estate of 2 yardlands in addition to his glebe. At his death in 1623 his possessions included an unspecified number of books, which he left to Edmund Hiorne and his kinsman John Slatter, apart from one to be given to his curate. (fn. 45) In 1634 the rector, Joseph Ford, appeared before the court of High Commission, (fn. 46) but the nature of the charge is unknown.

The pluralist Thomas Walker, fellow of St. John's College and later master of University College, was rector from 1638; he was ejected c. 1649 but restored in 1660 and held the living until his death in 1665. (fn. 47) The minister from 1653 or earlier until 1660 was Robert Rogers, a fellow of New Inn Hall who seems to have been non-resident part of the time, although his children were baptized at Hanborough in 1648, 1649, and 1657. From 1658 to 1665 or later the rectory house was occupied by John Wainwright, fellow of All Souls College and chancellor of Chester diocese from 1661, (fn. 48) but there is no evidence that he served Hanborough. Rogers was later accused of having neglected the cure, failing to visit the sick and not administering communion for c. 2 years, and of having made excessive claims for tithes and mortuaries. (fn. 49)

From 1665 the rectory was annexed to the presidency of St. John's College, and successive presidents employed curates to serve the parish. The two known 17th-century curates, Thomas and William Ayerst, were members of University College; William remained in the parish until his death in 1723, although he did not apparently act as curate after 1699. (fn. 50) Thomas Smith served the cure from 1699 until his death in 1729, living in the parish; his son James was ordained to the cure in 1736 but had left it by 1738. (fn. 51) In such circumstances, the sequestration of the living in 1710, for debts allegedly incurred by the rector as vice-chancellor of Oxford university, (fn. 52) presumably had little or no effect on the parish. Later curates were usually fellows of St. John's College who served the cure from Oxford for a stipend which rose from £40 in 1759 to £80 in 1815. (fn. 53)

During the later 18th century there were two services and one sermon on Sundays, with holy communion four or five times a year, the standard duty for country parishes. In 1738 the curate reported that, for unknown reasons, many people did not attend church, and tried, not very successfully, to account to the bishop for the small number of confirmation candidates from the parish. Later rectors and curates reported no absenteeism, and the number of communicants remained fairly steady at 40-50. (fn. 54) Michael Marlow, rector and president of St. John's College 1795-1828, took an interest in the parish, spending some time there himself in vacations. In 1815, however, the bishop required him to employ a full-time curate, permanently resident in the parish. (fn. 55) By 1831 the curate's stipend had risen to £120, and there were two full services on Sundays, attended by 200-300 people, between a third and half the population of the parish; the number of communicants at the quarterly communion had fallen to 20. There had been a slight improvement by 1834, and Bishop Wilberforce found the curate in the 1840s a respectable man, although he took pupils to augment his salary and was inclined to the High Church party. (fn. 56) Attendance on Census Sunday in 1851 was only 130 adults and 49 children in the morning and 230 adults and 37 children in the afternoon, less than a quarter of the population. The curate blamed the poor attendance on the wet weather and on the distance of the church from Long Hanborough. (fn. 57)

The separation of the living from the presidency of St. John's in 1854 seems to have made little difference to the church life of the parish. The number of communion services rose to one a month in 1860, but the number of communicants fell, and in 1878 the rector reported that half the population were dissenters, and that church attendance had further decreased because of 'feelings stirred up by the Labourers' Union'. (fn. 58) By 1884 the rector employed a full time curate, and had started holding services in the infants' school in Long Hanborough to overcome the problem posed by the distance of the parish church from most of the population. In 1893 the new rector built a mission church, Christ Church, on the main road in Long Hanborough. (fn. 59) Both churches were in use in 1986, the parish church remaining the principal church although further from the centre of population. In 1985 the benefice was united with that of Freeland.

The parish church of ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL (fn. 60) is built of ashlar, and comprises a chancel with north and south chapels and a north vestry, and an aisled and clerestoried nave with north and south porches, and a west tower with stone spire, which is flanked by the aisles. The 12th-century church seems to have comprised a chancel flanked by short chapels and a long aisled nave. Several windows and the north and south doorways with carved tympana survive, the north tympanum showing St. Peter with a lion and the lamb of God. (fn. 61) The chancel and the chancel arch were rebuilt early in the 13th century, the chancel being of notably high quality, and the north chapel was extended eastwards about the same date. Also at that time the aisles were heightened, the porches were added, and a tower was built at the west end of the nave. Early in the 14th century the north chapel was remodelled and the vestry added. In 1399 an indulgence to all those giving alms for the fabric and conservation of Hanborough church (fn. 62) marked the beginning of a series of works to remodel the building. About 1400 the tower was rebuilt, leaving only the bases of the original arches to the nave and aisles, and western buttresses and a spire were added. Shortly after that the nave arcades were rebuilt, the new arcades having two-centred arches and tall octagonal piers with concave faces. The arcades' similarity to those at Northleach (Glos.) has led to the suggestion that they are the work of the same master mason. (fn. 63) Later in the 15th century new windows were inserted in the aisles and the east end of the chancel, (fn. 64) and the chancel and its chapels were cut off from the nave by the surviving carved and painted wooden screens; the work appears to have continued for some time, as the northern screen is appreciably later and more elaborate than the southern one. (fn. 65) The clerestory and a new low-pitched roof were added to the nave in the early 16th century.

Regular repairs were carried out in the 17th and 18th centuries. Extensive work between 1660 and 1662 included repairs to the spire. (fn. 66) Much of the roof seems to have been renewed in 1778-9 and 1799-1800. (fn. 67) More important repairs carried out between 1845 and 1847 may have included the removal of a gallery, perhaps the singer's gallery recorded c. 1806. (fn. 68) The church was restored in 1860 under the supervision of S. L. Seckham; the east window was replaced by one in 14th-century style, and a new window was inserted west of the south porch (presumably new tracery in an existing window opening). The 15th-century screens were saved only by the intervention of Bishop Wilberforce. (fn. 69) Further alterations were made in 1892 when the west door was opened, the font moved to a position under the tower, and the 15thcentury pulpit repaired and lowered to its original level. The south chapel was refurnished as a war memorial chapel in 1947, and in 1952 a new altar was placed in the Lady chapel and a rood hung over the chancel screen. In the same year the south porch was made into a temporary boiler house (still in use in 1986). The spire was repaired in 1972. (fn. 70)

The monuments include, at the east end of the nave, a brass of c. 1500 to Christopher Ford and his wife Joan and to Joan's first husband Thomas Wheeler, and, on the south wall of the chancel, a shroud brass to Alexander Belsyre (d. 1567). (fn. 71) On the north wall of the chancel are marble wall monuments to Thomas Smith, curate 1699-1729, and his wife Mary and to Margaret, wife of Humphrey Clarke (d. 1592), a large plaque bearing her arms, erected by her grandson in 1632, and on the south wall are elaborate monuments, now virtually illegible, to William Denison (d. 1756), to Anna Maria Denison (d. 1761), and to Jane widow of Walter Culpeper (d. 1636). (fn. 72) At the east end of the north aisle is a monument to Thomas Bouchier (d. 1723) and his wife Frances Astell and other members of their family, erected by their son William in 1780. Until the restoration of the church in 1860 there was painted on the south wall of the chancel a Latin poem in honour of Charles I. (fn. 73)

In 1728 the goods in the churchwardens' hands included Jewell's Works, Erasmus's Para-phrases, and the Book of Homilies. The books were still in the church in the early 18th century. The plate includes a silver chalice with paten cover of 1575, presumably that in the church in 1728, and a large, two-handled cup and cover of 1725, the gift of the rector William Derham (1748-57). (fn. 74) There are five bells: (i) 1803; (ii) 1615; (iii) 1602; (iv) 1603 (probably an error for 1623); (v) 1786. (fn. 75)

The rector John Bates, by will proved 1623, left £4 stock, the profits to be used for church repairs. The money was intact in 1685, when the church also held £6 said to have been given by the rector Ralph Merryman (d. 1578), although it was not mentioned in his will. (fn. 76) By the early 17th century the church also held four houses, a piece of land, and a fishery, from the rents of which it received nearly £5 a year, and in 1663 it had 10 small areas of grassland. (fn. 77) In 1773 the church land in Church field was let for £7 a year, the church close for £1 9s. 6d., and the fishery for £3 10s. a year. The income from the church property was sufficient to cover the churchwardens' normal expenditure until c. 1890. (fn. 78)

Thomas Bouchier (d. 1723) built a small, square mausoleum in the north-west corner of the churchyard in a vaguely gothic style. It survived until c. 1845 when it was apparently demolished for its materials which were used for building the new rectory house. (fn. 79) The churchyard was extended in 1873. (fn. 80)

CHRIST CHURCH, Long Hanborough, built in 1893 to the designs of E. H. L. Barker, (fn. 81) is a small church comprising chancel and nave with south porch and west belfry. The north, south, and west windows are lancets, the east is in 14th-century style. A kitchen and lavatory were added on the north in 1979. (fn. 82) On the north wall of the chancel is a memorial tablet to William Wynne Wilson, rector 1891-1906, who was responsible for building the church.


  • 7. Reg. Regum Anglo-Norm. ii, p. 282; Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. d 460.
  • 8. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. d 460, ff. 164-5.
  • 9. P.R.O., CP 40/421, rot. 36 and d.; Reading Cart. i, pp. 377-9.
  • 10. Cal. Pat. 1550-3, 373; O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. d 105, p. 178; for Baker, D.N.B; V.C.H. Oxon. xi. 29.
  • 11. P.R.O., C 142/123, no. 99; O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. d 105, p. 239; Reg. Mat. Parker, iii (Cant. 8 York Soc.), 1001-2; for Culpeper, Alum. Oxon. 1500-1714, 303.
  • 12. P.R.O., PROB 11/106, f. 290; O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 70, no. 75; Hist. Dean and Chalford (O.R.S. xvii), 77-8, 80.
  • 13. St. John's Coll. Mun. XXXVII. 1-3.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 70, no. 76.
  • 16. Ibid. no. 77.
  • 17. Oxf. Dioc. Yr. Bk.
  • 18. Lunt, Val. Norw. 307; Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 31.
  • 19. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 184; B.L. Add. Ch. 19647.
  • 20. Subsidy 1526, 266; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 184.
  • 21. B.L. Harl. MS. 843, f. 9v.; Par. Colln. 157.
  • 22. O.R.O., incl. award.
  • 23. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues [67], p. 781, H.C. (1835), xxii; Ch. and Chapel, 1851, no. 198; St. John's Coll. Mun. LXXXVI. G. 2.
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  • 25. Rot. Grosse. (L.R.S. xi), 454, 462.
  • 26. Cal. Chart. R. 1427-1516, 286; Close R. 1256-9, 281.
  • 27. P.R.O., E 179/255/4, rot. 281; O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Archd.
  • 28. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 661, f. 105.
  • 29. Ibid. b 103, no. 5.
  • 30. Ibid. c 1842/1.
  • 31. Oseney Cart. iv, p. 168; Eynsham Cart. i, p. 17.
  • 32. Cal. Pat. 1247-58, 220; Emden, O.U. Reg. to 1500, 2014.
  • 33. Rot. Graves. (L.R.S. xx), 231; Cal. Pat. 1272-81, passim; Cal. Papal Reg. i. 453.
  • 34. C.C.C. Mun., Twyne transcript, iii, pp. 87, 106; Emden, O.U. Reg. to 1500, 1362, 1537.
  • 35. Emden, O.U. Reg. to 1500, 1918; Epist. Acad. Oxon. (O.H.S. xxxv), pp. 18-19.
  • 36. Cal. Pat. 1413-16, 271; Reg. Repingdon, iii (L.R.S. lxxiv), p. 73 n.
  • 37. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. d 460; Cal. Papal Reg. xi, 673; Emden, O.U. Reg. to 1500, 474, 1850.
  • 38. Visit. Dioc. Linc. i. 129; Emden, O.U. Reg. to 1500, 931.
  • 39. Subsidy 1526, 266.
  • 40. Emden, O.U. Reg. 1501-40, 295; D.N.B.
  • 41. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xii (1), p. 78.
  • 42. O.R.O., MS. Wills Oxon. 181, f. 123.
  • 43. O.A.S. Rep. 1911, 101-4.
  • 44. O.R.O., MS. Wills Oxon. 185, ff. 517v-518.
  • 45. Ibid. 5/1/13; Reg. Mat. Parker, iii (Cant. &York Soc.), 1001-2.
  • 46. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1634-5, pp. 268, 272, 277, 334.
  • 47. Walker Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 300.
  • 48. Par. reg. transcript, s.a. 1658; P.R.O., E 134/20 Chas. II/East. 1; ibid. E 179/255/4, rot. 281; Hearth Tax Oxon. 110; V.C.H. Cheshire, iii. 38; Alum. Oxon. 1500-1714, 1552.
  • 49. Calamy Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 415; P.R.O., E 134/19 Chas. II/Mich. 1; ibid. E 134/20 Chas. II/East. 1; par. reg. transcript.
  • 50. St. John's Coll. Mun. XXXVII. 5 (chwdns' accts.), p. 51; Alum. Oxon. 1500-1714, 47; par. reg. transcript.
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  • 52. Hist. St. John's Coll. (O.H.S. N.S. xii), 166-8.
  • 53. O.R.O. MSS. Oxf. Dioc. b 30, f. 7v.; b 33, f. 7v.; b 35, f. 144v.; d 556, f. 5; d 549, p. 121; d 568, f. 161; Bodl. MS. Top. Eccles. e 1, f. 111.
  • 54. Secker's Visit. 70-1; O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. d 556, f. 5; d 558, f. 5; d 562, f. 9; d 564, f. 200; c 327, f. 166.
  • 55. O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. c 661, ff. 12-13, 105-8; b 33, f.7v.
  • 56. Ibid. d 550, f. 49; b 38, f. 106; b 39, f. 165.
  • 57. P.R.O., HO 129/161.
  • 58. O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. c 344, ff. 189-90; d 180, f. 519.
  • 59. Ibid, c 347, f. 197; c 350, f. 180; c 359, f. 193; Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. d 42, ff. 47-69.
  • 60. St. Peter in 1399 and the early 18th century: Cal. Papal Reg. v. 278; Par. Colln. 157.
  • 61. C. Keyser, Norman Tympana and Lintels (1972), pp. xviii, xxxi, lxxiii, 22-3, figs. 8, 133.
  • 62. Cal. Papal Reg. v. 278.
  • 63. J. Sherwood, Guide to Chs. of Oxon. 55.
  • 64. Parker, Guide, 145.
  • 65. F. E. Howard, 'Screens and Rood Lofts in Oxon.' Arch. Jnl. lxvii. 188.
  • 66. St. John's Coll. Mun. XXXVII. 5, pp. 16-25.
  • 67. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Hanborough b 7 (unfoliated).
  • 68. Ibid. s.a. 1845; MS. Oxf. Archd. Oxon. b 24, f. 139; C.C.C. Mun., AL 1/30.
  • 69. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. d 178, p. 258; Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. d 91, ff. 6, 28.
  • 70. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 1841.
  • 71. M. Stephenson, Monumental Brasses, 406.
  • 72. Par. Colln. 157-9; Bodl. MS. Don. d 140, f. 76v.
  • 73. N. & Q. (4th ser.), iv. 441, 508.
  • 74. St. John's Coll. Mun. XXXVII. 5, inside front cover and p. 6; Evans, Ch. Plate, 76-7.
  • 75. Ch. Bells Oxon. 152-3.
  • 76. O.R.O., MS. Wills Oxon. 185, ff. 517v.-518; ibid. 5/1/13; ibid. MS. Oxf. Archd. Oxon. b 40, f. 150.
  • 77. St. John's Coll. Mun. XXXVII. 5, pp. 1, 25.
  • 78. O.R.O., MS. d.d Par. Hanborough b 7 (unfoliated).
  • 79. Ibid. MS. Wills Oxon. 9/1/5; Bodl. MS. Dep. c 274; drawing in Bodl. MS. Don. a 7, no. 3.
  • 80. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 1842/1.
  • 81. Pevsner, Oxon. 691.
  • 82. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 1841.