A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 8, Lewknor and Pyrton Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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Since its inclosure in 1845 until 1912, when it was united with the adjoining Britwell Prior (720 a.), a detached portion of Newington parish in Ewelme hundred, the ancient parish of Britwell Salome has consisted of 884 acres. (fn. 1) In 1932 the united parish lost 175 acres to Watlington: this was mainly woodland that had previously been a detached portion of Britwell Prior. (fn. 2)
By the formation of the new civil parish of Britwell there has been a return in some respects to the 10thcentury position, when there was a single township of Britwell. The division into two parishes was a consequence of Queen Emma's gift of part of Britwell to Christ Church Priory, Canterbury. (fn. 3) The houses in which the tenants of the priory lived, the church that was built for them, and the priory's strips in the open fields came to be known as Britwell Prior. (fn. 4) The priory's main property was at the neighbouring village of Newington, and so Britwell Prior for purposes of ecclesiastical and civil administration was in the parish of Newington and the hundred of Ewelme. Until the 19th-century inclosure it would have been impossible to draw any continuous boundary line between the two parishes. In 1685 the vicar said that there was 'the greatest intricacy and confusion imaginable' about the respective tithes of the two parishes: 'There two or three lands pay tithe to the other parish, there two or three lands pay tithe to my parish.' (fn. 5) The complaint that the lands of the two parishes were 'strangely intermixed' was repeated in 1814. (fn. 6)
The Ordnance Survey map of 1881 shows the rearrangement brought about by inclosure of the open fields which the two parishes had shared. Britwell Salome parish was then divided into halves, separated one from the other by Britwell Prior. The eastern half of Britwell Salome (299 a.), containing the church and vicarage, was bounded in part by the stream; the western half (585 a.) contained the main village and had on its western boundary a detached portion of Britwell Prior consisting of Britwell Prior House, as it was originally called (now called Britwell House), in its 22 acres of grounds. (fn. 7)
The ancient parishes included both valley land and the hill slopes of the Chilterns. Britwell Hill in the south was the parish's highest point: here the land rises from 500 feet where the Icknield Way cuts through the parish to 735 feet above Britwell farm. Most of the land lay between the 400- and 500-foot contours, but a small portion in the northwest next to Brightwell Baldwin slopes down to nearly 320 feet. (fn. 8)
The absence of hedges and woods today gives the parish a downland aspect. In 1958 there was only one small wood on Britwell Hill and another on Castle Hill, and these were comparatively new plantations. The last was probably planted when Britwell Priory, the manor farmhouse of Britwell Prior, was rebuilt early in the 19th century. (fn. 9)
The Icknield Way, running along the lower slopes of the Chilterns, is the oldest road in the parish. The modern secondary road, called locally Rudge Way, running from Benson to Watlington and on to Aylesbury must also be of considerable antiquity. It goes through the northern end of the village and connects the Anglo-Saxon villages at the foot of the Chilterns. Turner's Green Lane, joining Brightwell Baldwin to Britwell Salome village, and its continuation south through the village is shown on Davis's map of 1797. One of its branches goes to Swyncombe and Gould's Heath, but its main course crosses the Icknield Way and runs over Britwell Hill to join the Henley-Oxford road. (fn. 10)
Britwell village grew up close to the Watlington road. It has been suggested that its first name is derived from a personal name or from the name of the stream. (fn. 11) The second name comes from a corruption of the surname of the De Sulham family, the medieval lords of Britwell. (fn. 12) The vicar described Britwell in 1685 as a little village 'made up of two little parishes'. Britwell Salome with fourteen houses formed 'as it were the circumference' and Britwell Prior with six houses was 'mostly seated in the very midst'. (fn. 13) The church of Britwell Prior lay north of the Watlington road and on the lower slopes of Castle Hill overlooking Church Way. It was taken down in 1865, but its foundations could be seen in the early 20th century, (fn. 14) and its graveyard and tombstones are still clearly visible. Farther to the north, at the end of Church Way, was the church of Britwell Salome, the new Rectory, and a large farmhouse that has now gone. It was said in 1685 that the two churches stood 'not above a bow's shoot from one another', and were so arranged that most of the parishioners of Britwell Salome had to cross Britwell Prior land to reach their own church and some of the parishioners of Britwell Prior had to cross Britwell Salome land, for two of Britwell Prior's houses lay at the west end of the village of Britwell Salome. (fn. 15) The two churches are shown on Plot's map published in 1677, but one is omitted from Davis's map of 1797. (fn. 16) This picture of the 17th-century village is filled out by the accounts in the hearth-tax lists. In 1662 thirteen houses were listed for Britwell Salome, and the 1665 list indicates that there was one large house for which Edmund Gregory paid tax on eight hearths and seven fair-sized farmhouses taxed on three or four hearths. (fn. 17) Gregory's house is probably to be identified with the red-brick Elizabethan house with twisted chimney-shafts that stood near the church. It was derelict in 1912 and was subsequently removed and rebuilt at Whiteparish (Wilts.). (fn. 18) A description of the house in 1673 states that it had five bedchambers, together with a house-loft and a garret, a great parlour, hall, kitchen, brew house, milk house, buttery, and a back house with a maltmill in it. (fn. 19) At Britwell Prior Richard Blackall, the tenant of the manor farm, paid on eight hearths, and two other houses paid on two hearths and one hearth respectively. (fn. 20) Blackall's house is to be identified with the present Priory House, which is in origin an esrly-17th-century house and lies between Britwell Salome village and its church. (fn. 21) The surviving 16thand 17th-century houses in Britwell Salome prove that the village lay then as it did when Davis surveyed it in 1797 and as it does today (1959), mainly along the two arms of a triangle based on the Watlington road. (fn. 22) The green enclosed by the roads was known as Rudgeway Piece at the time of the inclosure award. (fn. 23)
The village is fairly compact and all its farmhouses lie in the two streets. Among the older houses is Home Farm (formerly Black Pond Farm), a two-storied house with an extension of one story, part timber-framed with plaster filling, part flint and brick, covering a lath-and-plaster construction. Adjoining is an ancient weather-boarded granary on straddles. Another ancient building, subsequently reconstructed, was the 'Old Queen', a 19th-century public house. (fn. 24) The oldest part of the house is stonebuilt and consists of two rooms only. It has a massive outside chimney-stack and steep-pitched roof, which was probably once thatched. There is some herring-bone brick work on the north-west front. Britwell Farm also dates from the end of the 16th century: it is timber-framed on a flint base and has a hipped roof. It was originally one room up and one down, but it has been extended at a later date. It has two staircases and was evidently once used as two cottages. Another one-time farmhouse, Orchard Close, has been much restored and enlarged at later periods, but its west gable on the south side has the date 1640. The most distinguished house in Britwell Salome is the Rectory, built by James Stopes (rector 1676–1706). (fn. 25) It replaced an older house which was described in 1635 as having six bays, with a barn of seven bays and seven small bays of stabling; (fn. 26) in 1665, when the old Rectory was assessed on three hearths, it consisted of hall, parlour, study, two chambers, kitchen, bakehouse with a chamber over it, and a buttery. (fn. 27) The new Rectory has changed little since it was built in 1675–6. (fn. 28) It was described in 1685 as L-shaped, built of brick, and having three stories in front. It contained hall, parlour, kitchen, brewhouse and pantry, four chambers, and five garrets. A 'fair staircase' is mentioned. (fn. 29) The house is built of brick. It has a central doorway with a hood, five sash windows with their original small panes on the first floor and four on the ground floor, and three dormer attic windows. A flint wall incloses the house and its walled gardens, its stables, and orchard.
There was much new building in the 18th century and probably some expansion, although the population did not increase rapidly until the early 19th century. (fn. 30) Eighteenth-century building included Red Lion Farm in the village street: it is a two-storied and L-shaped house of flint with brick quoins and surrounds to the windows; it has a roof of red tiles. Adjoining the farm is the 'Plough', no longer a public-house. A building is shown on its site in Davis's map of 1797 (fn. 31) and it seems to be a late-18th-century house. 'Flints', once a farmhouse but now a private house, was put up about 1750. 'Kerry Vor', once known as 'Tibbett's Piece', is an earlier house, but it was enlarged in the 18th century, when a brick and stucco extension was added to the old stone house. It was occupied in 1710 by Mark Dyer, an overseer of the poor. (fn. 32) North of the Watlington road is another 18th-century house, once occupied by the Stopes family. (fn. 33)
The 'Red Lion', built of flint and finished with brick, probably dates from 1838, the year inscribed on it. It was evidently the best inn in the village in 1841 when the tithe commissioners used it for their meetings. (fn. 34) Another 19th-century addition was the Wesleyan chapel. (fn. 35) Two 20th-century buildings are in striking contrast with most of the older village houses: they are the village hall of corrugated iron, painted with aluminium paint, and the large machinery shed of aluminium belonging to Mr. Roadnight. (fn. 36) The first was given as a parish hall by the Misses Smith of Britwell House. (fn. 37) Six council houses were built after the First World War and there have been four new ones since the Second. (fn. 38)
Britwell's strategic position on the Watlington road led to its playing a prominent part in the strife of Stephen's reign and in the Civil Wars of the 17th century. When Henry Plantagenet (afterwards King Henry II) and his supporters were seeking to relieve Wallingford in 1153, the defenders of the castle at Britwell long opposed them. (fn. 39) This castle was presumably destroyed when Henry became king, but Castle Hill remains a landmark beside the main road.
In the 17th century royalist troops were quartered in and about Britwell when Prince Rupert was concentrating troops round Henley in 1643. (fn. 40) It was reported on 22 April that there were some 'straggling royalist companies that lye plundering about Britwell', and on 6 May that all the king's forces had left the neighbourhood of Britwell and Watlington; (fn. 41) on 10 June parliamentary forces in Watlington Park had a skirmish with about 200 royalists whom they pursued as far as Britwell. (fn. 42)
Among the distinguished men connected with Britwell was John Howson (1557(?)–1632), who became rector in 1601, and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University in the following year. He was chaplain to James I and noted as an author and robust anti-papist. (fn. 43)
The long connexion of the Spyer family with the village is noteworthy: the name appears on the first page of the church register of 1574 and there were representatives until the death of Miss Spyer in 1944. (fn. 44)
Manor. (fn. 45)
Before the Conquest BRITWELL was one of the estates of Wulfstan, who also held Adwell and other neighbouring manors. (fn. 46) By 1086 Miles Crispin had obtained it. (fn. 47) The overlordship of Britwell Salome, therefore, descended with his lands and Britwell became a member of the honor of Wallingford and subsequently of the honor of Ewelme. (fn. 48) Thus, tenants of Britwell Salome are found attending the honor's courts up to the 19th century. (fn. 49)
The tenant of 1 hide at Britwell in 1086 was a certain William. He must have been the William who held Sulham (Berks.) of Miles Crispin, together with many other estates in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire, and was probably the ancestor of the Sulham family, which held Britwell in demesne for two centuries and gave it its second name. (fn. 50) A certain Aumary, however, had the main estate of 5 hides. There is little doubt that this Aumary should be identified with the Aumary de Sulham, who succeeded William at Adwell, Henton, and elsewhere. He may have been a son, who had been enfeoffed with a fee at Britwell (fn. 51) before his father's death. William was still alive in 1104. (fn. 52) His successor Aumary died before 1130, after dividing his lands between his two sons. The elder son Ralph obtained four fees which included Britwell Salome, Adwell, and Sulham, the family's chief seat. (fn. 53) These four fees followed the same descent, (fn. 54) and Britwell was held for a ¼-fee by the De Sulham family in the 13th century. (fn. 55) In 1272 John de Sulham was in possession and was granted free warren. (fn. 56) Britwell Salome was omitted from the hundred rolls of 1279, perhaps through some confusion with the Wallingford fees in the neighbouring Brightwell Baldwin ('Brictewell'), (fn. 57) but it clearly passed with John's other lands to Richard de la Hyde and his wife Philippa and to Hugh de St. Philibert. They certainly held Britwell Salome in 1285 when they claimed free warren there by right of John de Sulham. (fn. 58) The manor was not long divided: in about 1290 Hugh de St. Philibert granted his holding and the advowson of Britwell Salome to John son of Richard de la Hyde in exchange for half Carswell manor (in Buckland, Berks.). (fn. 59) John de la Hyde soon gave up his interest, for Henry de Malyns, whose son was already lord of the Sulham's Henton manor, appears to have been in possession by 1316. (fn. 60) In the following year John de Bassingbourne, probably a member of a Buckinghamshire family, and his wife Christine released lands in Britwell Salome and Henton to the Malyns family, and in 1322 a John le Warrener quitclaimed all rights in Richard de la Hyde's Britwell lands, then held by Henry de Malyns. (fn. 61) Henry may have died shortly after in 1323, and his son Edmund contributed to the tax of 1327. (fn. 62) In 1428 Reynold de Malyns (d. 1431) was still returned as holding the fee in Henton, Adwell, and Britwell. (fn. 63) The manor of Britwell seems to have passed permanently out of the Malynses' hands shortly after and appeared in the possession of the Cottesmore family, who presented regularly to the church in the 15th century. Amice, widow of John Cottesmore, the Chief Justice, and Matthew Hay (Heye), her second husband, presented in 1443 and in 1453 Matthew Hay was called lord of Britwell. (fn. 64) After the deaths of Amice and Matthew, the manor must have reverted to the descendants of Amice's son John (II) Cottesmore, whose son John (III) Cottesmore was in possession in 1492. (fn. 65) John (III) Cottesmore was succeeded by his son William some time after 1508, (fn. 66) and he held it at the time of his death in 1519 when John (IV) Cottesmore, the son of William and his first wife Elizabeth Bedwall, was his heir. (fn. 67) Cottesmore granted Britwell Salome and the neighbouring Brightwell Baldwin manor to John Carleton, a lawyer of Walton-on-Thames (Surr.). John Carleton died in 1552, leaving Britwell Salome for life to his wife Joyce Welbeck, with reversion to their son Anthony. (fn. 68) Anthony held it in 1563, but by 1571–2 he engaged in legal transactions which terminated in the transference of Britwell Salome manor to John Oglethorpe, (fn. 69) who had married Alice Goodwin of Winchendon (Bucks.), apparently the sister of Anthony's wife Joyce Goodwin. (fn. 70) In 1578–9 John Oglethorpe was succeeded by his son Owen Oglethorpe, perhaps the one-time President of Magdalen, (fn. 71) but the manor again changed hands before the end of the century. In 1593 Owen Oglethorpe and his wife Jane (Perrot), with their son and heir apparent Edward Oglethorpe and his wife Ruth, sold Britwell Salome manor and advowson together with other neighbouring properties to Ralph Adeane of Britwell Salome. (fn. 72) Ralph died in 1608 and his eldest son John in 1614, leaving the manor and advowson to a son Ralph. (fn. 73) These were granted by Ralph Adeane in 1636 to Edmund Gregory, the elder, of Cuxham, his son Edmund and their heirs as a marriage settlement on the younger Edmund and Mary Adeane, Ralph's eldest daughter. (fn. 74) Mary Gregory died in 1639 and Edmund in 1673, (fn. 75) after marrying Mary Edmonds. (fn. 76) By 1656, however, half the manor had passed to Thomas Eustace of Pyrton, (fn. 77) who in 1681 settled a part share in it on his son Thomas at the time of his son's marriage. (fn. 78) A Thomas Eustace and his wife Mary died in 1713 and it was presumably their half-manor for which Thomas Stevens made fine with John Sale, clerk, his wife Mary, and Elizabeth Hill in 1714. (fn. 79) Its further descent is not clear, unless it was the manor of which James Stopes was said to be lord in the early 18th century. Stopes, who was rector of the church, made no mention of manorial rights in his will of 1720, though he had land in Britwell purchased from Edmund Gregory. (fn. 80) By 1754 Edward Horne was one of the manorial lords and he may have been holding the original Eustace portion. (fn. 81) John Horne had succeeded by 1790 and a Horne still paid land tax in the parish in 1832. (fn. 82) At the time of the inclosure award the family's manorial rights were held by Edward Horne Hulton. (fn. 83) In 1864 they were held by Messrs. Paine. (fn. 84)
Another half of Britwell manor, presumably the Gregorys' second half, can be traced in the 18th century descending through the Tooveys of Shirburn, relatives of Edmund and Mary Gregory. (fn. 85) In 1736 Elizabeth Toovey, widow of Thomas Toovey of Shirburn, married John Lydall of Ipsden, thereby giving him an interest in her lands at Britwell Salome. (fn. 86) Later she conveyed certain property in Britwell Salome and Shirburn to Thomas Reade of Uxmore (in Ipsden), probably a connexion of the Lydalls, who had a seat there also. (fn. 87) In 1773 and 1774 the Tooveys, Reades, and Lydalls made an arrangement concerning their half of Britwell manor, (fn. 88) and in 1794 Elizabeth Lydall was said to be lady of the manor. (fn. 89) After her death before 1797 the manor probably went to others mentioned in the settlement of 1773, and after the death of Penelope Harriet Reade in 1825, John Reade of Ipsden was in possession of lands and rents in Oxfordshire. (fn. 90) In 1826 he made an agreement with another claimant, John Dodd Lydall of Uxmore, by which half of the undivided half of Britwell manor, otherwise Britwell Salome and Britwell Prior, and half of the lands held by John Reade were to be offered to a third claimant, John Reade Litchfield of Middlesex, and if he refused were to be held by John Dodd Lydall. The other half of the undivided half was to go to John Reade. (fn. 91) The outcome of this agreement is not known. By 1842 the manorial rights had passed to Edward Horne Hulton and Richard Newton. (fn. 92) They still held in 1854, but by 1864 Messrs. Paine held the manorial rights and continued to do so in 1903. The manorial rights seem to have lapsed by 1920. (fn. 93)
Agrarian and Social History
There is no evidence of any permanent settlement at Britwell in prehistoric or Roman times, although an ancient trackway, the Icknield Way, crossed the parish (fn. 94) and Roman pottery has been found near the church. (fn. 95) The site, however, near the spring level of the Chilterns, well drained, and with a light soil, would obviously be attractive. Anglo-Saxon settlers cultivated the land here and were called the dwellers in the 'feld' or field, i.e. the land to the west of the wooded slopes of the Chilterns. (fn. 96) An early form of the name is 'Brutuwylle' and the etymology 'Bryttawella', 'Briton's' well, has been suggested, which would point to an early date for the settlement; on the other hand the name of the stream that flows near the church in the north-east of the parish may be contained in the first element. (fn. 97) The gift of part of Britwell's land in the 10th century to Christ Church, Canterbury, introduced a complicated tenurial pattern and divided the township into two parishes with two churches. (fn. 98) There was, however, only one village of Britwell for both parishes and one field system, an example of the vitality of the ancient organization of the vill. Although the feudal and ecclesiastical history of Britwell Prior belongs to another hundred, Ewelme, where Christ Church had its main Oxfordshire manor of Newington, its economic history cannot easily be separated from that of Britwell Salome.
In 1086 there were two lords of Britwell Salome, Aumary and William, but this was probably a recent arrangement. On Aumary's 5-hide estate there was land for 3 ploughs, but it was not apparently fully cultivated as there was only 1 plough with 2 serfs on the demesne, and 7 villani and 1 bordar had another. Seven acres of meadow are recorded and underwood (3X1 furl.). A smaller estate, assessed at 1 hide and held by William, had land for 1 plough. No plough-teams are recorded and as there were only 2 villani the demesne, if it existed at all, must have been very small. The 6 acres of coppice recorded were presumably in demesne. In addition to these 4 plough-lands, which may be reckoned roughly as about 320 to 360 field acres, there was that part of the vill's land which belonged to Christ Church, Canterbury. This was probably described under the archbishop's Oxfordshire manor at Newington which had land for 18 ploughs. If any progress had taken place in the cultivation of Britwell's land since the Conquest it must have been on the priory's land, the value of which increased as a whole from £11 to £15. Both the other estates showed no increase on their respective pre-Conquest values of £3 and 10s. (fn. 99) During the 12th century William's holding was taken over by Aumary de Sulham and in the 13th century there were therefore only two large estates in the Britwells. (fn. 100) In 1220 the Sulham estate was estimated at 2½ carucates, (fn. 101) and in 1224 it could apparently be valued at 44 marks, for Aumary Fitz Robert agreed to give all his land in Britwell to Henry Bucuinte, a wealthy London merchant, if he could not repay that sum. (fn. 102)
The account of Britwell Salome in the hundred rolls is incomplete. The Christ Church part of the ancient township of Britwell was duly recorded and it was stated that the priory held the 'hamlet of Britwell', then no doubt a detached settlement and not as now a part of the village of Britwell Salome. The omission may have arisen through some confusion with the Earl of Cornwall's fees in the neighbouring 'Brictewell' (Brightwell Baldwin), which were entered under their respective lords Thomas Huscarl and Reynold de Bracy. There were some 550 field acres in the priory's lordship of Britwell Prior: it had 100 acres of arable, 3 acres of pasture, 10 acres of wood, and 2 virgates (about 50 field acres), the gift of a certain Sybil, in its home farm. In marked contrast to Brightwell Baldwin, there were no freemen recorded on the priory's estates: villeins held the rest of the land, consisting of 14 virgaterholdings at a standard rent of 4s. a year while a cottage was held for 1s. a year. They owed the same labour services as virgaters on the priory's estate at Newington. No week-work seems to have been exacted, but they had to plough 1 acre in the spring, and went to spring and winter boon-ploughings, and to two autumn boons with 2 men; they cut and carried the grain and carted produce to a market in Oxfordshire. In return they had common in the lord's pasture from August to mid-Lent and had 'husbote' and 'heybote', i.e. rights to gather wood, and they were given food at certain times when they worked. (fn. 103)
The priory's court rolls of this time show how their estate was managed. The Oxfordshire manors were administered with their Sussex ones, but local courts were held at Newington and suitors from Britwell attended. The tithing man was responsible for the appearance of men in his tithing and for their conduct: in 1318 William le Pronte and his tithing were fined for not producing a man; at a later court when the offender had still not appeared William's cow was impounded for surety. The office of tithing man was not popular and tenants paid to be exempt from it. Courts regulated works, safeguarded the lord's rights, and settled minor disputes. At Britwell in 1285 and 1318 fines were imposed for marrying or for transferring land without a licence, and for destroying the priory's trees. The priory had the assize of ale and the 'tastors' presented some Britwell people at most courts, usually women, who were fined about 6d. Fines to take up land were paid at the courts and one Britwell man paid 13s. 4d. to enter on a virgate. (fn. 104)
A 1317 Britwell grant shows a traditional field system with intermingled strips: a 9½-acre holding in Watlington and Britwell Salome was distributed in 7 parcels of a ½ acre each and two of 1 rod each in Britwell field. The same grant mentioned the Mill Way and there was perhaps a mill on the Sulham estates. (fn. 105)
The first indication of the number of tenants in the Sulham manor (by now in the hands of the Malyns family) comes from the tax lists of the early 14th century when there were 9 contributors in Britwell Salome and between 7 and 11 in Britwell Prior. The highest contributions were paid by the manorial lords. In 1306 the Prior of Canterbury paid 5s. 9d. and two tenants in Britwell Salome 4s. 4d. and 4s. 1d. to the tax of a 30th. In 1316 the lord of Britwell Salome, Henry de Malyns, paid 8s., three times as much as the three next highest contributors; the remaining five averaged payments of one-seventh of the lord's. Seven of the eleven contributors on the priory land paid 2s. or over. In 1327 Britwell Salome was included under Henton, another Malyns manor; the lord, Edmund de Malyns, paid the highest amount again, about one and a half times more than the next contributors. The two small parishes together contributed about as much as one moderate-sized parish in the Chiltern area: some 26s. in 1306 and 36s. by 1344. (fn. 106)
There is little evidence for 15th-century conditions and nothing to show whether the priory retained a home farm at Britwell or whether, as on other estates, it let out the land. In the 16th century after the dissolution of the priory Britwell Prior came into lay hands. (fn. 107) The tax assessments of the 16th century suggest that the little wealth there was was evenly distributed among Britwell taxpayers. Eight people contributed to the 1523 subsidy for Britwell Salome and their total contribution was only £1 5s. 10d. In 1558 the Britwell returns were included with Adwell and Chinnor, but none of the six persons identified as Britwell contributors paid on goods valued at over £10. In 1577 Britwell Prior was assessed at almost twice as much as Britwell Salome and, of the seven contributors from the two parishes, three paid on £8 worth of goods and four on £3 to £4. (fn. 108) Many of the yeomen farmers were comfortably off and founded families which remained in the village for several centuries: William White, for example, who paid the highest contribution in 1523 and died in 1527, left to his children and godchildren bequests in household goods and money valued at £115 6s. 6d. He had evidently followed the traditional Oxfordshire practice of mixed farming, for he left farm equipment, a cart and plough, to one son and sheep to another. (fn. 109) A Richard White, paid tax on £6 worth of goods in 1558; (fn. 110) there were substantial members of the family in the 17th and 18th centuries; and there were still Whites in the parish in the 19th century. (fn. 111)
A more remarkable example of the concentration of land in the hands of a yeoman family is given by the Adeanes, a family which seems to have come from Newnham Murren, first to Brightwell Baldwin and then to Britwell Salome by the mid-16th century. (fn. 112) John Adeane on his death in 1566 left two freeholds in Watlington and a copyhold farm in Britwell Salome to his son Ralph; his moveable goods were valued at £73 19s. 4d.; (fn. 113) Ralph (d. 1608) was able to purchase the manor of Britwell Salome and leave moveable goods valued at £289; and his son John (d. 1614) left substantial legacies to six of his children and the poor. Ralph Adeane's will, dated 1603, probably shows on what the family's prosperity was founded: he was a sheep-farmer, keeping 90 sheep on Henry Adeane's land in Britwell Salome and other sheep with one Gregory of Tetsworth. (fn. 114) The Gregorys, who succeeded the Adeanes as lords of the manor, came from a 15th-century yeoman family of Cuxham. (fn. 115) In 1665 Edmund Gregory was living in the largest house in the parish. He, too, had sheep on his farm, but he also grew barley, wheat, peas, and hay, and had poultry and cows. (fn. 116) This family, however, seems to have died out in the parish in the 18th century and their place was taken by the Stopes, who had owned and occupied several large farms in both Britwell Salome and Britwell Prior from the 17th century. (fn. 117)
Britwell Prior was almost all owned by the Simeons: they were non-resident from the 17th until the 18th century and their part of the open fields was farmed by tenants. Sir James Simeon's account book of the late 17th century shows that their holdings in Britwell Prior and Minigrove (an estate in Pishill) together yielded some £204 in a half year, about a third of the family's total rents from its Oxfordshire estates. (fn. 118)
The taxable population in the 17th century was small. In 1665 eight were taxed in Britwell Salome though thirteen householders had been listed in 1662; three were taxed in Britwell Prior in 1665. (fn. 119) The population was clearly small too: in 1685 the parson stated that there were twenty houses in the joint village, (fn. 120) and the Compton Census estimated 57 adults in Britwell Salome, an estimate which perhaps also included Britwell Prior, and in the early 18th century 24 male inhabitants (i.e. all those over twelve years of age) attended the Ewelme honor court for Britwell Salome. (fn. 121) In 1738 there were still only 20 houses, but by 1768 there had been a decided increase when the incumbent recorded 30 houses and 32 families. (fn. 122) In 1808 the clerical return gave 30 families and about 130 individuals, while the official census of 1811 gave 221 for both parishes. (fn. 123)
The first large-scale inclosures of Britwell field were not made until the 19th century, although there had been a considerable amount of piecemeal inclosure. A 1635 description of the glebe shows that the two Britwells shared four fields: West Field, East Field, Hill Field, and Cuddenden (later Cuddington). (fn. 124) A 1685 account indicates that there had been some consolidation of strips, but that land was still distributed in some parcels of 1 to 10 acres. Some of the 14th-century field names were still in use: 'Cudyndune', so called in 1317; 'Peggsyre' and 'Myllway', which occur in 1317 as 'Pegesheye' and 'Mullweye'. The 17th-century 'Chalfield' (19th-century Chalfhill) was recorded in the 13thcentury as 'Chalchulle', the name of the neighbouring Watlington field. (fn. 125)
By the time of parliamentary inclosure in 1845 there were some 424 acres of 'old inclosure' in Britwell field. (fn. 126) There are scattered references in the 17th century to the process: Mr. Stone of Brightwell Baldwin, for example, had taken one close out of Britwell field into his wood called Ashleys; Sir James Simeon of Britwell Prior also had various closes; Robert White had part of an acre fenced by a hedge, (fn. 127) and a yeoman farmer John Spire, the elder, left by will in 1692 a pasture close of 4 acres, lying between John Stone's close on one side and the 'slib field' on the other. (fn. 128) In addition, there were no doubt the usual number of small closes that normally adjoin the houses in a village.
Mid-18th-century court rolls for a joint court held by the lords of the manors show how the open fields of the two Britwells were administered. At a court held in 1754 there were twelve homagers present. Among the ordinances issued were those stating that the wheat field was 'not to be brook' until Bartholomew Tide, and the 'gratton' field not until Michaelmas, under penalty of 10s.; and that Watlington men were not to drive their sheep on to Britwell fallow field. There was the usual trouble over boundaries, which generally characterized open-field farming. It was said that the boundary marks had been ploughed up within the last nineteen years and the court ordered that the boundary stones were to be fixed and that no tenant under penalty of 10s. was to plough up the land within 1 foot on each side of them; the homage was 'to set out the mere baulks' and to lay them down as common land once again; no cows were to be kept on them. On 18 May each year the homage were to inspect the fields for encroachments. Transfers of holdings also took place in the court. Two years' quitrent, it may be noted, was the customary payment for a relief on entering a holding. (fn. 129)
Wheat and barley were the chief crops, but considerable quantities of oats, beans, and peas were grown by the 18th century. Husbandry courses could be varied by agreements between tenants. In 1763, for example, land next to the Woodway was sown 'contrary to the usual course'. (fn. 130) In 1769 tenants made an important change in husbandry and agreed to sow grass seeds, corn, or vetches in one-third of the fallow field each year, and thus vary the threecourse system, whereby East Field, West Field, and Hill Field with Cuddington had been completely fallow once every three years. (fn. 131)
In 1754 there were still only ten freeholders in Britwell Salome parish and one in Britwell Prior. There were no families of note in Britwell Salome, but Britwell Prior had the Simeons; the other inhabitants were either farmers or labourers. (fn. 132) The land-tax assessments of the late 18th century show that there was no predominant landowner in Britwell Salome, but that the Welds owned well over fivesixths of Britwell Prior, a difference which probably reflects the medieval history of the two parishes. None of the lords of the manor was resident at this time since the Welds, heirs of the Simeons, resided only intermittently, and there were in fact only four owner-occupiers assessed in Britwell Salome and none in Britwell Prior. In the 1780's most of the land in both parishes was in the hands of three local farmers: Thomas Hussey and later his son John Hussey occupied several estates in Britwell Salome, Moses West in both parishes, and John Stopes owned land in Britwell Salome and occupied almost the whole of the Weld property in Britwell Prior. Various changes in family fortunes altered this picture over the years: by 1825 eleven of the 21 owners assessed in Britwell Salome occupied their own land, and the Hussey and Stopes estates had been broken up. There was, nevertheless, a tendency towards the formation of large farms. By 1826 there were three such farms in Britwell Prior and by 1832 Richard Newton, the tenant of one of them since 1825, had taken over the largest estate in Britwell Salome as well. (fn. 133)
Both parishes were inclosed in 1845 when 1,125 acres (157 a. of it common and waste) were allotted. The commissioners sold 53 acres for £1,145 to meet the cost of inclosure. They bought out manorial rights in commons and waste by allotting 2¾ acres each to the two lords of Britwell Salome and 1¾ acre to the lord of Britwell Prior; these allotments were equivalent to 1/16 of the commons and waste. They allotted 17 acres to the rectory of Britwell Salome, 20 to the incumbent of Britwell Prior, and 40 for commonable lands to the rectory of Ibstone (Bucks.). The largest allotment of 330 acres, of which more than half was in Britwell Prior, was made to Richard Newton, one of the lords of Britwell Salome. The other lords of Britwell Salome and Britwell Prior received 80 acres and 50 acres respectively. Three other fair-sized areas, 98 and 128 acres in Britwell Salome and 179 acres in Britwell Prior, as well as one of 42 acres were allotted. The rest of the land (75 a.) was divided into 25 small parcels of land; six of these were held by persons holding certain offices or already holding allotments, leaving 19 smallholders, one of them, Lord Camoys, for land in Britwell Prior belonging to Stonor manor. The commissioners also allotted 1½ acre for a common recreation ground for the two parishes on Britwell Hill. (fn. 134)
The tithe awards of 1845 and 1846 give a detailed picture of the use of the land of the two parishes at that time. There were some 720 arable acres in Britwell Salome and 440 acres in Britwell Prior. A larger proportion of Britwell Prior was meadow and pasture, some 143 acres compared with 113 acres in Britwell Salome. There were 100 acres of woodland and plantation in the former and only 15 acres in the latter. The pattern of landownership had not changed greatly, probably because inclosure had only confirmed the trends to large estates which were typical in this area in the 19th and 20th centuries and which were well adapted to the Chiltern slopes. There were 35 different owners in Britwell Salome, only 12 of them owner-occupiers, and 17 in Britwell Prior, of which 8 were owner-occupiers. Richard Newton farmed some 400 acres in the two parishes, John Stopes farmed 200 acres in Britwell Prior, and there were two other tenant farmers with 126 acres and 137 acres respectively in Britwell Salome. Six other farmers in the parishes had between 30 to 85 acres each, but there were about 30 people with less than an acre apiece. (fn. 135)
The pattern has remained much the same in the 20th century. In 1913 there were about 35 owners and 30 occupiers, somewhat fewer than in the mid19th century; eight were now owner-occupiers. There was one large farm with over 500 acres in the united parish, another of about 300 acres and 3 holdings of 50 to 100 acres. (fn. 136) Modern farming has been mixed, mainly arable with barley and wheat as the chief crops. Mr. Richard Roadnight's Priory farm is well known as a model of advanced mechanized farming. In 1957 it comprised 2,300 acres on the Chilterns, almost two-thirds of it given over to arable; there were 500 head of Frisian cattle, 400 ewes, a large flock of poultry, 100 sows, and a pedigree herd of Landrace pigs. (fn. 137)
Most Britwell people in the 19th century were still labourers or farmers with a few craftsmen as in previous centuries. In 1851 there were nine farmers in the two parishes, employing from 3 to 40 labourers according to the size of the farm; the occupant of Britwell House was described as a farmer and soap-perfumer; there was a builder employing 4 men, and the Stevenses, iron-founders in the village since the 1830s at least, employed 3 men. Other craftsmen were a blacksmith, chairmaker, shoemaker, carpenter, and machine-maker. The schoolmistress was married to a journeymancarpenter. (fn. 138)
The population increased to 314 in 1851 when there were 55 houses in Britwell Salome and six in Britwell Prior. A decline set in after this date and there have not been as many inhabitants since. Britwell Prior was merged in Britwell Salome in 1912, and in 1921 the united parish was the fourth smallest in the Henley Union with a population of only 156. In 1931 there were 110 people; in 1951 there were still only 165 people and 50 private houses. (fn. 139)
As only a part of the tithes of Britwell were granted to Christ Church in the mid-11th century it is possible that the church of Britwell Salome was already in being. (fn. 140) The earliest evidence, however, for its existence is the 12th-century Norman work in the church building.
From the first recorded presentation in 1234 or 1235 by Aumary de Sulham the descent of the advowson followed that of the manor, passing from the De Sulhams to the De la Hydes (and perhaps the St. Philiberts), to the Malyns family, and then to the Cottesmores. (fn. 141) Manor and advowson were still united in 1610, when John Adeane sold the presentation to John Facer, Rector of Grove (Bucks.), who presented his son Clement to the church. (fn. 142)
When in the mid-17th century the manor was divided, part of it apparently went to the Stopes family, who acquired the advowson. Several members of the family became rectors. James Stopes, a son of a Rector of Crowell, (fn. 143) resigned the Britwell rectory in 1675 after a few years, in order to present his son, another James Stopes. (fn. 144) On the latter's death without children in 1734 (fn. 145) the advowson, which he had inherited, passed to his younger brother Christopher Stopes of Doncaster, who in 1745 presented his son to Britwell. (fn. 146) The advowson descended to this son, James Stopes, and after his death in 1777 his widow Mary twice presented to the church, the last time being in 1782. (fn. 147)
The next presentation was that of 1851, when William Johnson of Dunmow (Essex) presented James T. Johnson, probably a relative. (fn. 148) By 1869 the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne (d. 1927) had acquired the advowson and the present patron is the 8th Marquess. (fn. 149)
Since the parish was small, the living was a poor one, valued at either £1 or £1 6s. 8d. in 1254 and at £3 6s. 8d. in 1291. (fn. 150) By 1535 its value had risen to £6 19s. 2d., and this was followed by a sharper rise, for by the beginning of the 17th century it was said to be worth £40. (fn. 151)
The rector's income came partly from the glebe and partly from tithes. In the 17th century the glebe consisted of a little grass close at the upper end of the town and about 22 acres in the common fields, and in the 19th century after inclosure of about 19 acres. (fn. 152) Since Britwell Salome and Britwell Prior shared a field system, some strips being tithable to the one church and some to the other, 'great quarrels and disputes' arose about the tithes. (fn. 153) In 1685 the rector had a terrier made, with 'a great deal of pains, vexation, and difficulty', of how all the land was tithed. (fn. 154) The confusion is further illustrated by the fact that a little land in Britwell Prior paid tithes to Britwell Salome (fn. 155) and that part of the glebe of Britwell Prior was in the tithing of Britwell Salome. (fn. 156) Disagreements evidently continued, for in 1805 the tithes of a few acres were still in dispute between the rector and the Rector of Newington, to whom the tithes of Britwell Prior belonged. (fn. 157) There was also other intermingling of tithes: the Rector of Britwell Salome had a few tithes in Shirburn (fn. 158) and the tithes of about 3 acres and some catch tithes in Watlington, (fn. 159) while until 1813 9½ acres in Britwell were tithable to Watlington. (fn. 160)
Early in the 19th century the rectory was valued at £146 12s., made up of tithe on the common field land (792 a.) at 3s. an acre, of tithe on inclosure (84 a.) at 4s. an acre, and 22 acres of glebe let at 10s. an acre. (fn. 161) In 1833 it was let for £180, the tenant still collecting the tithes in kind. (fn. 162) The rector had long had to pay a part of his income in rates. In about 1780 the rector's widow, Mrs. Stopes, complained that she was rated at £81, or nearly a quarter of the total rate of £341 3s. 4d. for the parish, (fn. 163) and in 1838, when the question of commuting the tithes was under consideration, it was pointed out that the rector had been paying an average of £65 a year in rates and that this had included church rates, which he was under no obligation to pay. (fn. 164) Negotiations continued for several years and eventually in 1846 the tithes were commuted for a rent charge of £240. (fn. 165)
When in 1867 Britwell Prior was added to the parish, only £25 of its revenue was granted the rector, although its tithes had been commuted for £129 and there were 8 acres of glebe there. (fn. 166) In 1892 on the death of Septimus Cotes, Rector of Newington, a campaign began to get the rest of the tithe rent charge, which the Rector of Newington continued to receive, transferred to the Rector of Britwell. This campaign was supported by the agent of Lord Lansdowne, the patron, who found the living difficult to fill; and by many of the parishioners of Britwell Prior, who were said to consider the arrangement of 1867 'a piece of sharp practice, perhaps legally allowable but morally wrong'. They petitioned the bishop against paying their money to a 'total stranger'. The bishop, however, did not wish to decrease the income of Newington rectory, of which he was patron, and refused to do anything in spite of the possibility that Lord Lansdowne might transfer the patronage of Britwell to him. He regretted that so much hard feeling had been caused and pointed out that when tithe was appropriated outside a parish, as was frequently the case, 'the thing has to be borne'. (fn. 167)
In the Middle Ages the living changed hands fairly frequently, especially in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, when it was several times exchanged. (fn. 168) Some rectors were clearly resident: they are found acting as feoffees for local families. One, Richard de Cuxham, was a local man, who is known to have borrowed £5 from the lord of the manor. (fn. 169) Before the 15th century no university graduate was rector and graduates did not become common until the second half of the century. A graduate with a long association with the parish was Master Maurice John (1453–92), whose brass is in the church; but his successor, Master Edmund Alyard (1492–1508), a prominent Fellow of Oriel College and a pluralist, was probably non-resident. (fn. 170)
From the 16th century onwards many of the rectors held the living for long periods; from 1518 to 1671, for instance, Britwell had only four rectors. The first, John Booth (1518–54), was probably the rector who in about 1520 was said to be neglecting the upkeep of the chancel and living not in his Rectory but in the house of Maud Cottesmore, (fn. 171) a member of the Brightwell Baldwin family, who were also patrons of Britwell. No record remains of the many changes which Booth saw the Reformation bring to Britwell church. Among these were the disappearance of the lights in the church, for in the 16th century there were lights to the Blessed Virgin, the Trinity, St. Margaret, and St. Nicholas. (fn. 172)
Booth's successors, who were apparently resident, were John Browne (1554–75), an educated man, whose effigy is in the church; (fn. 173) Robert Warcopp (1575–1610), a charitable man, but said to be of only 'tolerable ability'; (fn. 174) and Clement Facer (1610–71), who apparently continued at Britwell undisturbed by the religious changes of the 17th century. He lived in his comfortable Rectory and farmed his own glebe. (fn. 175)
After the Stopes family, who were also landowners, had obtained the advowson, Britwell became a kind of family living, and the rectors, who were almost always resident, were the parish's leading inhabitants. In the 17th and 18th centuries there were four rectors named James Stopes. The first (1671–5), 'a constant preacher', only held the living for a few years; the second (1675–1706), who built a new and larger Rectory, (fn. 176) was a strong supporter of the Church of England and deplored all forms of nonconformity. In 1685 he wrote to the bishop that he had no one in his parish who merited the 'dangerous appellation of schismatic whether papist or fanatic', but he feared for the future as some of his parishioners did not come to prayers and the sacraments 'as frequently as obliged'. (fn. 177) In 1706 he became Vicar of South Stoke, resigning Britwell in favour of his son James Stopes (1706–32); (fn. 178) and from 1745 to 1777 the latter's nephew, the fourth James Stopes, was rector. He resided constantly at Britwell, except when visiting friends or called away on business to his other living, where he kept a curate; (fn. 179) held two services and preached one sermon on Sundays; had prayers on the important holidays; catechized the children in summer, using his own exposition; and administered the sacrament four times a year (at Christmas, Easter, Whitsunday, and Michaelmas) to between 10 and 20 communicants. No one, he said, was entirely absent from church, but some did not attend as frequently as they should in spite of frequent admonitions. Parishioners, moreover, were negligent about sending servants and children. (fn. 180) The proximity of the Roman Catholic family of Simeon at Britwell Prior must have been a constant cause for alarm. (fn. 181)
Instead of the two churchwardens habitual in the 16th and 17th centuries, (fn. 182) from at least 1730 until the mid-19th century there was usually only one warden, chosen by the rector. Some of them held the office for many years. (fn. 183) One of the warden's responsibilities was the spending of the income from the church land. A ½-acre of this land was left to the church in 1534 by Richard Mortimer, a Britwell yeoman, and in 1618 it was said that the church had 'time out of mind' owned 3 acres, the rent from which was used for repairs. (fn. 184) In 1771 this land was let to the churchwarden for 15s. a year; in the 1820s it produced £1 11s. 6d. a year, the same amount as in 1939. (fn. 185) In 1939 the church also owned the churchacre, worth 10s. a year, which had originally been given for the upkeep of the chapel of Britwell Prior. (fn. 186) In the early 17th century there was also a small house called the Church House near the chapel in Britwell Prior, the rent from which was used for the upkeep of both churches. By the early 19th century the only house answering the description had fallen down and the income had therefore ceased. (fn. 187)
During the earlier 19th century the rector was Andrew Price, son of Roger Price, a Rector of King's Chapel, Boston, New England, and a son-in-law of the last James Stopes. He became rector in 1782 and died in 1851 at the age of 96. (fn. 188) He carried out much the same programme as his father-in-law, except that in his old age he hired a curate to take the services. (fn. 189) In the 1820s he paid £2 12s. a year to his parish clerk, who also received about 15s. in fees. (fn. 190)
The second half of the century was notable for the incorporation in the parish in 1867 of Britwell Prior, formerly a chapelry of Newington. (fn. 191) The intermingling of the two parishes had long formed an anomaly. (fn. 192) In the late 17th century the rector thought it ridiculous that one little village should have two churches. The fact that they were not only in different parishes and hundreds, but in different dioceses, for Britwell Prior, as a chapelry of Newington, was in Canterbury diocese, he considered 'a matchless instance of confusion', and he strongly urged their amalgamation. Moreover, regular services were not held in the chapel and sometimes for long periods none at all was held, perhaps partly because the lords of the manor, the Simeons, were Roman Catholics. (fn. 193) Therefore Britwell Prior parishioners often came to services in Britwell Salome church and the rector, who received no income from them, ministered 'merely out of charity and honour to the government'. (fn. 194) This situation continued until the mid-19th century, services being held at Britwell Prior for its 50 parishioners usually once or twice a month. (fn. 195) By the 1860s they had ceased altogether and the inhabitants attended Britwell Salome church, where they had customary seats and where, in the 19th century, they made up about a third of the congregation. (fn. 196) The situation was thought to be especially unsatisfactory because Britwell Salome had an almost exclusively labouring population while the principal employers lived in Britwell Prior, and it seemed desirable for the minister to be able to visit both classes. Accordingly, in 1865 both churches were pulled down and that of Britwell Salome was rebuilt on a larger scale. The parishes were united in 1867 and a new benefice called Britwell Salome with Britwell Prior was formed. (fn. 197)
It was a difficult time, for during the rebuilding no services were held for two and a half years. The rector James T. Johnson (1851–92) was in poor health, (fn. 198) and although he usually held regular services he could do little for the young people. After the union of the parishes, however, the congregation grew larger—about two-thirds of the population were said to attend services, and the rector started the Sunday school again. (fn. 199)
Since 1953 the living has been held with Ewelme, where the rector lives.
The church of ST. NICHOLAS, most of which dates from 1867, is a building of flint and stone consisting of chancel, nave, vestry, south porch, and western bell gable. The old church was smaller and had a small wooden bellcot and no vestry. It dated from the 12th century at least, for it had a Romanesque chancel arch and south doorway to the nave. Parker writing in 1850 described the chancel as Decorated with a 'modern' east window. (fn. 200) Drawings of 1812 and 1822 show that there was an early Perpendicular west window of two lights and square-headed windows of a later date in the south walls of the nave and chancel. There was also a dormer window in the nave roof. (fn. 201) No drawing has been found showing the north side, or the east window, but Parker said the north windows were 'modern' and described the roof as plain with queen posts, and partly spoiled by the ceiling. He also recorded that there was an old oak door 'with good Norman hinges' and some old tiles. (fn. 202)
Few records remain of repairs to the ancient church. In 1759 the archdeacon made a number of orders: the porch was to be repaired, its roof was to be plastered and its floor made even, and the lumber was to be moved out of it; the west window was to be repaired; a new door to the church and a new floor to the pulpit were to be provided; and the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments were to be written on small tables and hung up under the king's arms and between the two beams. That there was general neglect is shown by the order to provide a new cushion and cloth for the reading desk, and clear away from the walls trees, bushes, weeds, and banks of rubbish. (fn. 203) Accordingly in 1760 a new cushion and cloths for the pulpit, the reading-desk, and the communion table were provided, and the church was whitewashed. In 1766 the rector, James Stopes, put a railing and a bannister around the altar at a cost of £3 4s. Ten years later the parish paid for a gallery, (fn. 204) which in 1844 was used by the singers, (fn. 205) and the rector inserted a new window, probably the dormer window on the south which would have lighted the gallery. (fn. 206) At some time before 1812 the old circular font had been replaced by a small wooden pedestal with 'an iron frame affixed to it to receive a bason'; this may have been done in order to make room for the children's seats. (fn. 207) Minor repairs were carried out in 1815, 1825, and at other times. (fn. 208)
In 1865 plans were drawn up by the architect Charles Buckeridge for rebuilding the church. The cost of rebuilding the nave without the porch was estimated at £548. (fn. 209) The rector was to pay for the chancel. (fn. 210) It was planned to keep only the doorway and 'the front' (presumably the west front) of the original church, and to pull down Britwell Prior chapel and use the materials for rebuilding Britwell Salome church. (fn. 211)
G. E. Street, the diocesan architect, was critical of Buckeridge's plans, and disapproved of 'needlessly pulling down an old church' without even preserving such old features as the windows and the chancel arch. He also thought it of doubtful advantage to move the 'Norman' doorway from the south wall of the nave to that of the chancel, 'for which place its scale and character appear to be unsuited'. (fn. 212)
In spite of these objections, the plan was carried out largely in its original form, although the chancel arch, the south doorway, and the Norman font were saved. The new church was completed early in 1867. (fn. 213) It was considerably larger than the old one. As the chancel had been extended to the west, the 'Holy Table' still stood in the same place, and therefore reconsecration was thought unnecessary. (fn. 214)
Monuments preserved from the old church are the small brass of Master Mores (i.e. Maurice) John, rector (d. 1492), with the figure of a priest in mass vestments; (fn. 215) and a verse in Latin and English said by Rawlinson to be in memory of John Brome. Rawlinson says that above it there was a bust of 'a judge in his robes'. (fn. 216) The bust has disappeared, but it is possible that it was of John Browne, rector 1554–75, who was buried in the church. (fn. 217) The brass inscription to William White (d. 1530) and his wife Anne has gone; (fn. 218) so also has the gravestone in the nave to James Stopes (d. 1734), Rector of Britwell and later of Brightwell Baldwin. (fn. 219) There remain the monument, with arms, to Mary Gregory (d. 1675), widow of Edmund Gregory of Britwell, marble tablets to James Stopes, rector (d. 1777) and Mary his wife (d. 1799), and to Richard Newton (d. 1859) and Elizabeth his wife (d. 1870). More recent brass inscriptions are to members of the Smith family of Britwell House: John Apsley Smith (d. 1894), Admiral George Walter Smith (d. 1919), Reginald John Smith, K.C. (d. 1916), and Col. William Apsley Smith (d. 1927).
There are stained glass windows in memory of a former rector J. T. Johnson (d. 1892), of John Smith (d. 1888) and of Emily Jane Smith (d. 1914), and of the Revd. Andrew Price (d. 1851), Rector of Britwell.
The church has never been richly furnished. In 1553 it had only a chalice without a paten and a surplice. (fn. 220) The oldest plate now is a pewter plate of the 17th century. There is also a silver chalice of 1839 and a paten of 1843, possibly given by the rector Andrew Price. (fn. 221)
There have probably never been more than the two bells of 1553. (fn. 222) Of the two bells there now, one may be medieval; the other, dated 1761, probably replaced the cracked bell of 1759, which the archdeacon ordered to be recast. (fn. 223)
In 1927 a 17th-century Spanish painting of Christ carrying the Cross was given to the church by Major G. C. Whitaker of Britwell House. (fn. 224)
The registers date from 1574.
The churchyard, which was extended in 1902, has a fine yew tree which appears in Buckler's drawing of 1822.
Roman Catholicism in the village centred upon the chapel maintained until the early 19th century by the Simeon and then by the Weld family of Britwell House. This chapel's history is reserved for treatment under Britwell Prior.
The visitation returns of the 18th century generally reported a few Protestant nonconformists: one Presbyterian and one Independent in 1738, three Presbyterians in 1759, and three Independents in 1774. (fn. 225) By the early 19th century Methodism had appeared. (fn. 226) In 1823 there were about a dozen Wesleyans, some of whom trimmed 'betwixt church and chapel'. They used a small room in Britwell for meetings, but the chapel at Watlington was the 'centre of attraction'. (fn. 227) In 1832 a small Wesleyan chapel was built; (fn. 228) the Huttons, a Britwell family of farmers, are said to have been the founders, and it was attended by four or five families who were taught by a visiting preacher. (fn. 229) Twenty years later the rector estimated the nonconformists to be about a third of the parish. (fn. 230) The chapel survived until about 1935 but by 1951 was derelict. In 1956 it was sold. (fn. 231)
Britwell Salome and Britwell Prior have always shared the same schools. There is no record of a school earlier than 1784. There was then one school supported by contributions where reading and writing and the catechism were taught, and another for Roman Catholics. (fn. 232) In 1808 a Miss Stopes, a kinswoman of the 18th-century rectors, kept a day school for 23 children, some of whom paid about 9d. a week, others nothing. (fn. 233) The Roman Catholic day school had lapsed by 1790, but in 1808 it was said that a Catholic layman, a labourer called Campbell, opened an evening school in the winter where about 13 children were taught writing and accounts; the children were obviously not all of their teacher's faith since the rector reported that Campbell never interfered with the religious principles of his pupils. (fn. 234) There was no further record of this evening school, but there were 23 girls and 7 boys in the day school in 1815, taught by an 'excellent orthodox schoolmistress'. A Sunday school set up in this year was attended by 38 children, 23 boys and 15 girls, mainly from the poorer classes. A few parishioners supported it voluntarily and the rector, Andrew Price, provided testaments, spelling books, and expositions of the church catechism. (fn. 235) Both schools were still there in 1819, but with fewer children: 20 in the day school, each paying 17s. a quarter, and only 4 or 5 in the Sunday school. The rector also patronized another school for 4 or 5 children. There were no endowments for education in the parish, but the rector said that the poorer inhabitants would have liked some kind of instruction and he thought £15 a year would be enough to educate all the children. (fn. 236) There is no indication that the suggestion was acted on. In 1833 there were three day schools, but they took only 33 pupils between them; the cost was met partly by the children and partly by charity. There were two Sunday schools, one for 30 children managed by the Anglicans, another for 33 children managed by the Wesleyans. (fn. 237) In 1854 the rector stated that there was only one day school and one Sunday school. (fn. 238) The day school supported by contributions continued into the 1870's and in 1871 was described as a Church of England school which took 20 children from both parishes; it was said to be in Britwell Prior. (fn. 239) In 1878, however, a School Board was set up under the 1870 Act for the united district of Brightwell Baldwin, Britwell Salome, and Britwell Prior. A board school was built at Brightwell Baldwin in 1879 and the Britwell children attended it. (fn. 240) It became a county primary school in 1929 and seniors went to Watlington. (fn. 241)
Joan Chibnall, by will proved 1649, gave a rent charged on land in Princes Risborough (Bucks.) to provide each of four poor widows or 'ancient maids' of Britwell Salome and Britwell Prior with a cloth gown and an ell of linen cloth yearly on St. Matthew's Day. (fn. 242) The charity was still being regularly distributed in 1820, (fn. 243) and the gowns in 1902. (fn. 244) Before 1925, when the rent charge was redeemed by the purchase of stock yielding £4, the gifts in kind had been transformed into cash payments. (fn. 245) In that year there were five payments of 12s. and one of £1 2s. 6d. The charity money was not being distributed in 1950. (fn. 246)
By the inclosure award of 1845 1½ acre, partly in Britwell Salome and partly in Britwell Prior, was awarded to the parish officers as a place of recreation. Rent received from the grass and herbage was to go towards the rates of both parishes. (fn. 247) This was the origin of the 'herbage money' which was being paid in 1903 for the benefit of the parish by Mrs. Smith of Britwell House. (fn. 248) In 1923–5 its value was £1 18s. and it was being paid by Capt. Carran into the churchwardens' account. (fn. 249) Nothing further is known of this charity, if charity it be.