Great and Little Hampden

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 1, South. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1912.

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'Great and Little Hampden', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 1, South( London, 1912), British History Online [accessed 24 July 2024].

'Great and Little Hampden', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 1, South( London, 1912), British History Online, accessed July 24, 2024,

"Great and Little Hampden". An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 1, South. (London, 1912), , British History Online. Web. 24 July 2024.

In this section


(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxxvii. S.E. (b)xxxviii. N.W. (c)xxxviii. S.W.)


c (1). Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Great Hampden, in the park S. of Hampden House, is built of flint with some stone, and stone dressings; the roofs of the nave and chancel are tiled; those of the aisles are covered with lead. The lower stage of the South-West Tower is of late 13th-century date, and the S. doorway, the font, and a piscina in the chancel are also of that period; the present Nave and Aisles and the South Porch were built about the middle of the 14th century. In the first half of the 15th century the Chancel was entirely re-built, the N. aisle was widened, and new windows were inserted in both aisles; the upper part of the tower was apparently completed, the clearstorey was built, and new roofs were added also in the 15th century. The building was considerably restored during the 19th century, and in 1899–1900 a high-pitched roof was erected over the 15th-century ceiling of the nave.

The church is supposed to be the burial place of John Hampden. The monument to his memory in the chancel was erected by his grandson in the 18th century.

Architectural Description — The Chancel (28 ft. by 16 ft.) has a 15th-century E. window of three trefoiled ogee lights and tracery in a two-centred head, with an external label, all partly restored; across the E. wall, inside, below the window, is an original string-course. The two windows in the N. wall and two in the S. wall are of similar design to the E. window, also of the 15th century and partly restored; a squint from the aisle has been cut at a later date through the W. jamb of each western window. The 15th-century chancel arch is of two moulded orders, and has moulded jambs with bell-capitals and semi-octagonal abaci; the moulded bases are mutilated. The Nave (42 ft. by 19 ft.) has a mid 14th-century N. arcade of four bays, with clustered columns and responds, which have moulded bases and capitals; the two-centred arches are of two moulded orders, and the label in the nave has head-stops, two of the heads being crowned. The S. arcade, of three bays, is of similar detail to the N. arcade, and is of the same date; the westernmost label-stop is carved with the head of a bishop, repeated in modern cement over the first column. The 14th-century window in the W. wall is partly restored, and of three trefoiled ogee lights and flowing tracery in a two-centred head; the jambs and external label are moulded. The clearstorey has four windows on the N. and three on the S. side, each of three trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a pointed segmental head, and with a moulded external label, all of the 15th century, restored. The North Aisle (9 ft. wide) has a window in the E. wall, two windows in the N. wall, and one in the W. wall, all of the same date and design as those in the chancel; between the windows in the N. wall is a mid 14th-century doorway, with a two-centred head, moulded jambs and partly restored bases; a moulded string-course carried along the wall inside forms a square label over the doorway. The South Aisle (8½ ft. wide) has an E. window and a S. window resembling those in the chancel; the S. doorway has plain chamfered jambs and two-centred arch, the rear arch is moulded; holes for a wooden draw-bar remain, and on two of the external stones of the jambs are marks of former sundials. The South Porch has an outer archway of similar detail to the N. doorway, and also of mid 14th-century date; the label is modern; in each side wall is a rectangular single light, and against the wall a stone bench. The floor is paved with late 16th or early 17th-century brick. The South West Tower (7½ ft. square) is of two stages, the lower stage divided internally by an upper floor; the embattled parapet is modern, and the roof is flat, with a central post and weather-vane. The two-centred arch opening into the S. aisle is of two moulded orders and has plain splayed jambs; over the arch, in the aisle, is a string-course, which shows the line of the former steep-pitched roof. The S. and W. walls have each a small lancet window, with widely splayed jambs and a chamfered rear arch, probably of late 13th-century date, considerably restored. The second storey has a modern lancet in the S. wall. The staircase leading up to the ringing chamber is probably of late 16th-century date, and is of oak, with a roughly worked square newel at the foot. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a modern window, with two small quatrefoil piercings above it. The low-pitched Roof of the nave is of the 15th century and of four bays, with arched trusses, traceried spandrels, and chamfered tie-beams; the stone corbels are carved as angels holding shields; in the W. wall are courses of tiles, showing the line of the former steep-pitched roof. The 15th-century roof of the porch has moulded wall-plates, carved with square flowers, and two queen-post trusses with moulded timbers; in the middle of the N. tie-beam is a shield with the arms of Hampden, a saltire between four eagles, and at each end a shield charged with a cross, cut off at the ends; between the shields are square flowers; the S. tie-beam has six Tudor roses, and in the middle a shield with the arms of Hampden.

Fittings—Bells: three, 2nd and 3rd, by Ellis Knight, 1625. Brackets: for images, two, at the corners of E. end of S. aisle, one supported by carved head in a hood, probably 14th-century, the other by carved angel with shield, probably later date than the first, and re-set (see Miscellanea). Brasses: in the chancel—(1) of John Hampden, 1496, and Elizabeth, his wife, figures of man in plate armour, woman in pedimental head-dress, four sons, five daughters, with inscription in black-letter, three shields bearing arms of Hampden, Sidney and Popham; (2) of Sir John Hampden, 1553, Elizabeth [Savage], his first wife, and his second wife, three figures, the knight in plate armour, with three daughters, inscription in black-letter, second wife not mentioned, and three shields bearing arms of Hampden and alliances; (3) to Griffith Hampden, 'Lord of Greate Hampden', 1591, and Anne, his second wife, daughter of Anthony Cave, 1594, with inscription, and shield quartering arms of Hampden, etc., impaling Cave; (4) to William, son of Griffith Hampden, 1597, inscription and shield of twelve quarters; (5) small slab with shield bearing the arms of Hampden; (6) to William Hampden, lord of Emmington, in the county of Oxon, 1612; (7) in large slab, plate with small figures of three girls, another with four boys and one girl, shield with arms of Horsey, three horses' heads cut off at the neck, impaling Hampden, late 16th-century. Communion Table: with baluster legs and plain rails, 17th-century, enlarged at each end. Font (see Plate, p. xxvii.): cup-shaped bowl, with shallow flutings, at the top band of ornament with square flowers, stem with two bands of cable moulding, large round moulding between them enriched with pattern of interlacing bands of pellet ornament, moulded base, probably late 13th-century. Monuments: In chancel—on S. wall, (1) to Elizabeth, first wife of John Hampden, daughter of Edmund Symeon, 1634, Purbeck marble tablet with pediment, inscription and arms, marble in bad condition from damp. In N. aisle—on N. wall, (2) to Richard, son of Sir Edmund Hampden of Abington, Northampton, 1662, and Ann, his wife, daughter of Francis Lane, 1674–5, tablet of black and white marble, with Ionic columns and pediment, inscription and achievement of arms. Niches: in cupboard at W. end of N. aisle, fragments, with canopies, parts of pinnacles, angel-corbels, etc., some with original gilding, 15th-century: modern niches at E. end of chancel said to be exact copies of the original niches. Painting: on S. wall of nave, near W. end, traces of large figure, inscription on scroll, part of large wing, etc., only visible where modern plaster has broken away. Piscinæ: in chancel, with chamfered jambs and trefoiled head, shallow circular basin, shelf at back, probably 13th-century: in S. aisle, with chamfered jambs and cinque-foiled two-centred head, shallow circular basin, shelf at back, probably c. 1350. Pulpit: modern, with one linen pattern panel, early 16th-century. Seating: in the nave, with book-rests, moulded top rails, linenpanelled standards, on N. side eight seats, with two front desks and one back, linen-panelled, on S. side, six seats, one front desk and one back, panelled, early 16th-century. Stoup: E. of S. doorway, in porch, with broken basin, probably late 15th or early 16th-century. Tiles: in floor of chancel, on N. side of nave, and in N. aisle, 4 in. square, various patterns, mediæval, many much worn. Miscellanea: at W. end of N. aisle, in cupboard, small carved head of knight, in coil of chain mail, probably early 14th-century, and other fragments (see Niches): on sill of E. window of S. aisle eight fragments, six of carved stone, two of moulded stone, 14th-century; on floor, near the window, one stone of small clustered pillar; all these fragments were found recently, built into the walls of the church.


b(2). Church (dedication unknown), in Little Hampden, has walls of flint rubble, restored with brick and covered with plaster; the walls of the chancel are of modern flint, with stone dressings; the porch is timber-framed, with plaster filling, on a brick base. The roofs are tiled. The Nave was built in the 12th century; the Chancel was re-built and the North Porch added probably in the 15th century. The building was considerably restored in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The church is especially interesting on account of the mediæval timber-framed porch of two storeys; the 13th to 15th-century paintings in the nave are remarkable.

Architectural Description — The Chancel (15½ ft. by 14 ft.) has a modern E. window, and the windows at the E. end of the N. and S. walls are also modern; at the W. end of the N. wall is a small 13th-century lancet window with a transom, the lower part rebated for a shutter and retaining the original hooks for hinges, and the bolt-hole. The two-centred chancel arch is of one square order, re-built, but with many of the stones from the original arch, one stone has a much defaced 12th-century moulding; the apex is of brick. The Nave (20 ft. by 13½ ft.) has, in the N. wall, a doorway of late 14th or early 15th-century date, with a two-centred chamfered arch. In the S. wall are two 18th-century windows, the western in the place of the former S. doorway, of which the lower part is blocked. The W. window is modern. The North Porch is of two storeys; the entrance arch is two-centred, formed by timbers with a natural curve. The small windows in the upper storey are of the 18th or 19th century. The Roof of the nave, probably of the 15th century, is in two bays, with naturally cambered tie-beams, collar-beams, and curved braces. The porch retains the original joists and framing of the roof.

Fittings—Altar-slab (6 ft. 6 in. by 2 ft. 7 in. by 3 in. thick): under the communion table, stone, with original consecration crosses. Communion Table: oak, with turned legs, carved rail at the top, early 17th-century. Image: built into the S. wall of chancel, small figure of bishop (17 in. high), crozier in left hand, traces of inscription, illegible, date uncertain, much defaced. Paintings: in the nave, uncovered in 1907 and carefully recorded, said to have been in four series, one painted over the other, the subjects are apparently as follows:—the earliest, on each side of chancel arch, which cuts into them, figure in mitre and episcopal vestments, in niche with trefoiled canopy, part of third figure remains on the S. side, above and below them, band of running scroll ornament in red, early 13th-century: on N. wall, high up, traces of colour, possibly part of same design as on E. wall, lower down, outline drawing of lions, probably 14th-century; E. of N. doorway two figures, each with nimbus, outlined in red, probably of St. Peter, holding book and key, and St. Paul, holding sword, 13th-century; above them, painted in the 15th century, large figure of St. Christopher, with staff, figure of the Child in his arms almost obliterated; on W. side of doorway, another St. Christopher, early 13th-century: on S. wall at E. end, traces of colour, probably continuation of the pattern on the E. wall, between the windows representation of a 'Doom', probably 15th-century, over western window, representation of St. Michael, weighing souls, with figure of the Virgin at one side of scales, much obliterated, 14th-century: on W. wall, under window, faint traces of human figures and animals. Piscina: in chancel, with two-centred, chamfered arch, and band of running foliage under moulded head, modern window cuts into W. side.

Condition—Generally good; the timbers of the porch are decayed.


c(3). Hampden House, is a large building, on the N. side of a park, on high ground S.W. of Great Hampden church. It is of three storeys, built of stone and brick, and entirely covered with cement. The history of the structure is complex. The only remaining part of the mediæval house is a small projecting wing on the S., known as 'King John's Tower', probably built of stone, but heavily plastered; it retains some details of the 14th and 15th centuries. The original plan was probably E-shaped, the wings extending towards the S.; the hall was in the central block, and may have extended further towards the E. than at present, with the kitchen wing on the W., the solar wing on the E., and the small central wing, which still remains, forming a porch. The E. and W. wings appear to have been re-built c. 1600, and retain some detail of that date. About the middle of the 17th century the present main staircase was added, and towards the end of the century the hall was re-built. The whole house was considerably altered and enlarged c. 1740, when additions, of two storeys, were built at the N. and S. ends of the E. wing; a little later in the 18th century two blocks for domestic offices were added on the N. side, and enclose a small courtyard between the central block and the E. wing; the vestibule of the present main entrance on the W. is on the site of the original kitchens in the W. wing; the interior of the house was also considerably altered during the 18th century. Early in the 19th century the exterior was completely covered with cement; more recently some of the original work has been exposed and carefully preserved both inside and outside the building. The walls of the central block between the wings are of narrow red bricks with a diamond pattern in black headers, visible only where the cement has fallen off. The central projecting wing has, in the S. wall, an external doorway of c. 1400, with continuously moulded jambs and four-centred head; the E. and W. walls, on the ground floor have each a much restored window, with rear arches and splayed jambs of c. 1400; in the E. wall, on the first floor, is a window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a triangular head, and moulded jambs, of the same date and detail as the doorway; in the W. wall, on the first floor, is a long narrow window, set very low, with obtuse pointed head and similar mouldings to those of the other windows, but on a smaller scale; all the mouldings are of clunch. W. of the central wing is a doorway of c. 1600, not in situ and much restored. The only old chimney stacks are of c. 1600, and have octagonal shafts with moulded caps.

Interior:—On the ground floor of the central wing is a doorway of mid 14th-century date, with continuously moulded jambs and two-centred head; the moulded label has carved head-stops. The main staircase, of mid 17th-century date, has a moulded handrail, balustrades of small arcades ornamented with 'planted on' foliage of classical type, and square newels ornamented in the same way with square urns and bunches of flowers and fruit. On the first floor one room in the E. wing has a fireplace with moulded jambs and stops of c. 1600, and a modern head; in the N. wall, is a window of the same date as the fireplace, with moulded mullions and transom of clunch; this wall was formerly external, but is now covered by the 18th-century additions.

Condition—Good, but considerably altered.

c(4). The Old Rectory, about 1 mile S.S.E. of Great Hampden Church, is of two storeys and an attic. It was built probably in the 16th century, but in the 18th and 19th centuries was almost entirely re-faced with brick, and much enlarged on the S. Some old timber-framing with brick filling remains in the gable at the E. end of the house. The roof is tiled. The original house seems to have been of the central chimney type, facing N. and S. with an extra parlour at the W. end; it now contains the kitchens, on the E., some offices, the entrance hall and a study, with bedrooms over them. An original moulded beam supports the first floor over the kitchen and offices.

Condition—Good, much altered.

b(5). The Manor House, now a farmhouse, N.E. of Little Hampden Church, is of two storeys, built of brick with some timber, and partly covered with plaster. The roofs are tiled. The plan is roughly T-shaped, with the central wing projecting towards the N., built probably early in the 17th century; the wing running E. and W. was added later in the same century. The house was considerably altered in the 19th century; the older part is gabled at the N. end, and the newer wing has half-hipped gables.



a, c(6–9). Grim's Ditch and three Moated Mounds (see also Aston Clinton, Bradenham, Buckland, Drayton Beauchamp, Great Missenden, Lee, Monks Risborough, Princes Risborough, and Wendover). The section of the Ditch in this parish is the most continuous in the county, and, like the other sections, consists of a single rampart and ditch, with the ditch S. of the rampart. The work first appears in Oaken Grove, about two-thirds of a mile S.E. of Hampden House, running in a northwesterly direction, after a gap of nearly two miles from the last section near Woodlands Park, Great Missenden, and continues, with intervals, for about 1¼ miles to the corner of Kingsfield Wood, where the ditch turns at right angles in a south-westerly direction through Barnes Grove to Redland End, where it leaves the parish. On the line of the ditch and at its S.E. extremity are two large moated mounds with causeways across the moats from N.W. to S.E.; there is a similar mound in Hampden Park, about ½ mile to the W.

Dimensions—The Rampart, at the strongest point, 6 ft. above the bottom of the ditch, which is about 3 ft. below the crest of the counter-scarp: the ditch, 36 ft. wide from crest to crest. The larger of the two mounds on the line of the ditch, 13 ft. high, 90 ft. in diameter at the base.

Contour Fort, Pulpit Hill, Parish of Great and Little Kimble.