A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Werregrava (xi cent.).
The parish of Wargrave contains 2,887 acres, of which more than half are grass, while 188 are covered by woods and plantations. (fn. 1) It is bounded on the west by the River Loddon and by the Thames, and in the extreme north, near Culham Court, the Thames again forms the boundary. Several streams, tributaries of the Thames, flow through the parish, and in the west near the river is Wargrave Marsh. The subsoil is alluvium near the bed of the Thames, chalk in the low-lying lands near the rivers, and on the higher ground Woolwich and Reading beds and London clay. The highest point is at Bowsey Hill (454 ft.), from which the land slopes down towards the river and village, which is situated 118 ft. only above the ordnance datum. The road from Henley to Reading forms the High Street of the village and the Bath Road passes through Hare Hatch, in the southern part of the parish. The Henley branch of the Great Western railway has a station in the village, opened on 1 October 1900. Many houses have been built along the river-side, and several artists, amongst whom Leader and George Leslie may be specially mentioned, have been attracted to it by the picturesqueness of the river and village. The sign-board of the George and Dragon Inn was painted by George Leslie and J. D. Hodgson. The parish church is surrounded by a large churchyard opening on to the Mill Green, in which stand some fine old elm and walnut trees. The green takes its name from a mill that formerly stood upon a stream from the Loddon, now practically filled up. At the corner of the green is the small village pound, and an old road, which was probably an extension of the Roman road from Speen to Bray, (fn. 2) opened on the village green, but is now choked up with brambles. Near by are some half-timbered cottages, probably of early 17th-century date, and at the corner where the lane joins the main road is the Bull Inn, of about the same date, possessing a fine brick chimney stack with two diagonally placed flues. South of the 'Bull' is the vicarage, a pleasing Queen Anne building of red brick. The 'White Hart,' on the east side of the main road, probably dates from the latter half of the 17th century. Besides the High Street, in which stands the Woodclyffe Hall, given to the village in 1900 by Mrs. William Smith in memory of her husband, the chief streets are School Lane and Victoria Road. The Woodclyffe almshouses were also built and endowed by Mrs. Smith in 1902. The Piggott schools, (fn. 3) which were founded in 1798 and rebuilt in 1862, have been amalgamated with the Wargrave National schools. To the east of the village is the pumping station of the Wargrave and Twyford Waterworks Co., which has a large reservoir on Bowsey Hill. There is a brick-kiln at Crazies Hill and a boat-building yard on the Thames, but otherwise the occupation of the inhabitants of the parish is agricultural or concerned with the many summer visitors. Wargrave Court, a completely modernized 16th-century house, stands close to the church and was probably the manor-house. In the first half of the 17th century the third Sir Henry Neville of Billingbear granted Wargrave Court to Henry Newbury. (fn. 4) Part of the Mill Green is now included in the garden of the house, which was the residence of the late Mr. F. W. Bond, D.L., J.P. Other houses of importance are: Hennerton, the residence of Mrs. J. W. Rhodes, which was formerly part of the Park Place property (Remenham) and was sold by Lord Malmesbury on 17 July 1815 to C. F. Johnson, (fn. 5) Wargrave Hill, which is owned by Mr. Sydney Platt, the lord of the manor, and is now known by the name of Wargrave Manor, and Temple Combe, the residence of Mr. Heatley Noble. The latter was formerly known as Slade or Werdon Hill, and, although sold by Lord Malmesbary in 1815, is now part of the Park Place estate. In the grounds is the 'Druid,' a temple which was presented to General Conway of Park Place, Governor of Jersey, by the islanders in 1785. It stood on the Mont de la Ville, near St. Helier, and was conveyed to its present position by sea and river. It is 65 ft. in circumference, and is composed of forty-five granite megaliths. The inscription in French recording its presentation has now become obliterated. The present house of Temple Court is modern. Of the houses near the river, Barrymore dates from the 18th century, (fn. 6) when it was the residence of Lord Barrymore, who in 1788 built, at a cost of over £60,000, a theatre, to which were added a ballroom and supper room in what is now the kitchen garden. Here he entertained lavishly the Prince of Wales and others and was soon ruined. The theatre was dismantled and sold in 1792. (fn. 7)
Along the Bath Road there are several hamlets, of which Hare Hatch, where is an iron mission church erected in memory of Miss Caroline Young, is the largest. The chief houses are Bear Place, a threestory red brick house built in the 18th century, now the residence of Mr. H. F. Nicholl, J.P., Yeldhall or Endalls Manor, (fn. 8) a large modern residence in brick and half-timber, and Hare Hatch House, a three-story red brick Georgian mansion, which formerly belonged to Sir George Holroyd, a judge of the King's Bench, who died there in 1831. (fn. 9) It is now the residence of Mr. Albert E. Huggins. To the east of Hare Hatch House is the Grange, a red brick house of three stories, the residence of Mr. James F. Remnant, M.P. Faceby Lodge is an 18th-century brick house, the residence of Mr. Bernard Crisp. To the east of Hare Hatch, still on the Bath Road, there is a smaller hamlet called Kiln Green, formerly Cutlers Kiln, and there again are several large houses. In the 18th century one of these, called Bear Hill, with a small estate attached, belonged to Thomas Day, the author of Sanford and Merton; his mother lived at the house, and it was on the way to visit her that he was thrown from his horse and killed in a lane called High Cockitt, in Kiln Green. (fn. 10) Bear Hill is now the residence of Miss Choate. Scarlets, a modernized stucco building, formerly the residence of the family of Spiers, now belongs to the Rev. H. M. Wells, and Linden Hill, a two-story stucco building, is the residence of Major H. C. Bulkeley, D.S.O., J.P. Castlemans, a three-story red brick house, is the residence of Mrs. L. Lawrence. To the north-east of Wargrave village is the hamlet of Crazies Hill, and in the north of the parish is Upper Culham. A house was built on the site of Culham Court in 1706, but the present house was built in 1771 by Robert Mitchell, lord of the manor of Culham. It is now owned by the Viscount Hambleden and let to Mr. W. H. Barber. George III with the queen and princesses visited the house in 1804. (fn. 11)
Wargrave parish was inclosed in 1816 by Act of Parliament of 1814. (fn. 12) A market was granted to Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, by Henry III in 1218. (fn. 13) This market was excepted from the general prohibition to hold markets in Berkshire granted since the first coronation of Henry III. (fn. 14) No reference, however, is found to it later than the 13th century. (fn. 15) There is a Congregational chapel in the parish, built in 1835, and connected with Castle Street chapel, Reading.
The manor of WARGRAVE appears to have been granted to Emma of Normandy, (fn. 16) the wife of Ethelred the Unready, and by her to the Old Minster, Winchester. (fn. 17) There is a charter of Edward the Confessor, confirming Emma's grant to Winchester of the town of Wargrave with sac and soc and other rights. (fn. 18) This charter was made (c. 1061–5) after the death of Emma, but if it is genuine the king must shortly after have recovered the manor, since the Domesday Survey states that Queen Edith held Wargrave during his reign. (fn. 19) After the Norman Conquest it was seized by William I, who held it in demesne in 1086, (fn. 20) and it afterwards formed part of the ancient demesne of the Crown. (fn. 21) King Stephen is said to have granted the manor to his brother Henry Bishop of Winchester, but Henry II held it throughout his reign. (fn. 22) Henry also is said to have granted it to the see of Winchester. (fn. 23) but it probably was not acquired by the bishop till 1189, when there is evidence that Richard I sold it to Bishop Godfrey de Lucy in order to raise money for the Crusades. (fn. 24) On the return of King Richard to England Bishop Godfrey fell into disgrace, and in 1194 the king disseised him of the castle and county of Winchester and of the manors of Meon and Wargrave. (fn. 25) King John restored the two manors to the bishop in 1199 in return for a fine of £1,000. (fn. 26) From this time the manor of Wargrave remained in the hands of the Bishops of Winchester until the 16th century. (fn. 27) William of Wykeham restored the manor-house in 1371. (fn. 28)
Wargrave was in the hands of the king for a short time on the forfeiture of Cardinal Wolsey as Bishop of Winchester in 1529. (fn. 29) In 1551 (fn. 30) Bishop John Poynet together with the dean and chapter surrendered the manor to Edward VI. (fn. 31) The king granted it the following year to Henry Neville and Winifred Losse, who was affianced to Neville, (fn. 32) but it was restored in the reign of Mary to John White, Bishop of Winchester. (fn. 33) The grant to the bishop, however, was annulled after the accession of Queen Elizabeth, and Sir Henry Neville recovered Wargrave Manor, which was held by Sir Robert Cecil, to the use of Neville and his heirs. (fn. 34) From this date it followed the descent of Billingbear in Waltham St. Lawrence (q.v.) till 1891, when Lord Braybrooke sold it to Mr. F. Walters Bond, who in 1898 sold it to Mr. Sydney Platt, together with the advowson. (fn. 35)
The Bishops of Winchester had many liberties in their manor of Wargrave, holding in 1276 gallows, view of frankpledge and the assizes of bread and ale. (fn. 38) The right to hold a court leet and law-days was granted by Edward VI to Henry Neville, (fn. 39) and the succeeding lords of the manor continued to exercise the rights. (fn. 40)
Wargrave lay within the forest of Windsor, (fn. 41) but when the manor was granted to the Bishops of Winchester, in the 12th century, they obtained extensive hunting rights. Early in the following century the bishop maintained a forester at Wargrave, (fn. 42) and in 1276 he had the rights of free warren and chase within the manor. (fn. 43) The same rights, including 'parks, warrens, chaces, purlieues and wild beasts,' were granted by Edward VI to Henry Neville, (fn. 44) and are also mentioned in settlements of the manor in the 18th century. (fn. 45) Three fisberies were appurtenant to the manor in 1086, rendering 3,000 eels. (fn. 46) In 1332 complaint was made by John Stratford, Bishop of Winchester (1323–33), that Sir Gilbert de Elsfield, kt., and others had fished in his several fishery at Wargrave and carried away his fish. (fn. 47) A fishery and ferry over the Thames with appurtenances in Wargrave are mentioned in the 17th century. (fn. 48)
The manor of CULHAM is not mentioned until the 13th century, when it was parcel of the manor of Wargrave. Presumably it had followed the history of the larger manor from before the Conquest, since it was said to be ancient demesne of the Crown and was held by the Bishops of Winchester. (fn. 49) It is mentioned specifically in the quitclaim obtained by John of Pontoise, Bishop of Winchester, from Edward I in 1284 (fn. 50) and passed with Wargrave until the 17th century. Sir Henry Neville, who succeeded to this property on his father's death in 1615, (fn. 51) sold Culham Manor and a house called Culham Court to Margaret White, widow, of the parish of St. Bartholomew the Less, London, in the following year. (fn. 52) The premises were at the time in the occupation of Lady Elizabeth Periam for life. (fn. 53) Culham was settled by Margaret White on her daughter Margaret, the wife of Sir Richard Lovelace, kt., (fn. 54) who came into possession of it on the death of her mother in 1621. (fn. 55) In that year the manor was mortgaged for the life of Sir Richard Lovelace, (fn. 56) and his descendants held it for the greater part of the 17th century. (fn. 57) John, the second Lord Lovelace, ruinted himself by his extravagance. (fn. 58) He mortgaged the manor, and in 1679 sold it to Richard Stevens of the Inner Temple. (fn. 59) In 1695 Henry Stevens, also of the Inner Temple (fn. 60) and afterwards a serjeant-at-law, had succeeded his father and was still lord of the manor in 1738. (fn. 61) In 1760 his successor was John Stevens. (fn. 62) Culham passed before 1770 to Robert Michell of Windsor, one of whose daughters, Caroline, married the Hon. Frederick West. (fn. 63) She died in 1795, (fn. 64) but in 1801 her husband was lord of Culham Manor. (fn. 65) It passed to their only daughter, on whose death part of the property was sold to Messrs. Micklem & Vidler, who conveyed a portion to John Noble of Park Place, but the house and the greater part of the estate were purchased by his son-in-law Mr. Diggle, from whom they passed to the Viscount Hambleden.
The so-called manor or farm of SCARLETS was held of the manor of Wargrave. (fn. 66) In the 16th century it was owned by Richard Pyttetts or Pettit, whose daughter and heir Margaret married Thomas Spier, who settled the manor in 1535. (fn. 67) Thomas and Margaret, who were in seisin in 1557, (fn. 68) were succeeded by their son Richard. (fn. 69) The latter died in 1581 seised in tail-male and was succeeded by his son Richard, (fn. 70) a minor, described as 'of Scarletts.' (fn. 71) Anthony and Richard Spier afterwards held in succession. (fn. 72) It was held in 1790 by James Leigh Perrot and in 1818 by his widow Jane. The Rev. J. E. A. Leigh sold it in 1853 to C. R. Littledale, who conveyed it in 1894 to the Rev. H. M. Wells, the present owner. (fn. 73)
The so-called manor of BEAR PLACE is first mentioned in the 15th century and was held of the Bishop of Winchester. (fn. 74) In 1438 Sir John Harpedon, kt., died seised of a tenement called the 'Bere' in Wargrave, (fn. 75) which may possibly be identified with Bear Place, but the latter name is not definitely used until eleven years later, when Robert Elleworth was owner of this estate. (fn. 76) He sold it in 1449 to one William Mynours, who, however, does not seem to have obtained possession of it before the death of Elleworth. (fn. 77) Alice, widow and executrix of Robert Elleworth, sold the estate to Robert Manfield before 1455, (fn. 78) but the three other trustees refused to make over the estate. A lawsuit ensued and Manfield obtained possession. (fn. 79) There are two Robert Manfields, father and son, given in a pedigree of the family made about 1552, (fn. 80) but it is not certain which was the purchaser of Bear Place. The second of them died seised of land in Wargrave in 1500, (fn. 81) and was succeeded by his son Thomas, (fn. 82) who held Bear Place and the adjoining land at a yearly rent of £3. Thomas died in 1540, (fn. 83) and his lands passed to his son Henry Manfield, who was owner in 1565. (fn. 84) Another Henry, who succeeded him in 1568 while still a minor, (fn. 85) afterwards sold a piece of pasture land called Bear Innings to Henry Neville of Billingbear. (fn. 86) This land was bought in 1641 by the trustees of Mrs. Margaret Poole's charity for the distribution of cloth among the poor of Maidenhead and Cookham. (fn. 87) Henry Manfield gradually sold all his property in Wargrave, Bear Place and certain lands passing to one Kenton in or after 1580. (fn. 88) It is said to have come into the possession of the family of A'bear, who were certainly living in Wargrave in the 17th century. (fn. 89) In the first half of the 18th century it belonged to the second son of the seventh Earl of Abercorn, the Hon. John Hamilton, who built the present house. (fn. 90) He was commander of H.M.S. Lancaster, and in 1755 was accidentally drowned in Portsmouth Harbour. (fn. 91) Three years later his widow sold Bear Place for £1,150 to William Silver, a tallow-chandler of Westminster. (fn. 92) It was then described as a capital messuage or farm-house with about 63 acres of land attached. In 1767 (fn. 93) Silver sold Bear Place to George Rogers, of the Navy Office, for £2,000, and the latter sold it for the same sum in 1784 (fn. 94) to David Ximenes. In 1808 Sara Ximenes, probably his widow, held Bear Place, (fn. 95) which afterwards passed to Sir Morris Ximenes, the eldest son of David. (fn. 96) Sir Morris was Sheriff of Berkshire in 1822. The manor afterwards passed to his brother, Lieut.-General Sir David Ximenes, K.C.H., who died in 1848 and was succeeded by his son Henry Cockburn Milne Ximenes. (fn. 97) The latter sold the property in 1893 to Mr. H. F. Nicholl, the present owner. (fn. 98)
The so-called manor of ENDALLS or YELDHALL is first mentioned in the 17th century. It was then in the possession of Henry Newbury and consisted of two messuages and 40 acres of land which were held of Sir Henry Neville by fealty and suit of court twice a year. (fn. 99) Henry Newbury was succeeded by his son Humphrey, (fn. 100) who may perhaps be identified with the Humphrey Newbury who is buried at Waltham St. Lawrence, (fn. 101) a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, noted for his 'greate learning and knowledge in the lawes of this land.' (fn. 102) In the late 18th century Endalls was in the possession of Mrs. Edwards, who sold it under the name of the manor or reputed manor of Bowsey Hill or Endalls to Mr. Edward Fromont. (fn. 103) In 1870 the property was purchased by Mr. Theodore Waterhouse, who in 1892 sold it to Mr. E. B. Marriage, who began to build the present house called Yeldhall. In 1894 he conveyed it to Mr. P. F. Tuckett, who finished the present house and in 1912 sold the estate to Professor Arthur Shuster, F.R.S.
The church of ST. MARY consists of a chancel 27 ft. 4 in. by 18 ft. 10 in., on the north side of which is a modern vestry and organ chamber, a north transept 14 ft. 2 in. by 11 ft. 6 in., nave 69 ft. 1 in. by 22 ft. 6 in., a modern south aisle 17 ft. 4 in. in width, and a west tower 13 ft. 9 in. by 13 ft. 10 in. These measurements are all internal.
Restoration has almost obliterated the history of the church, but the nave appears to be of the late 12th century, to which period the north doorway belongs. With the exception of the 14th-century roof principals of the nave, no other mediaeval detail exists earlier than the 15th century; of this date may be the small north-east window of the nave, which probably lighted the rood gallery. The north transept appears to be a late 16th or 17th-century addition, and was probably built to contain the pew of the lord of the manor. A corresponding transept of unknown date formerly existed on the south, but was removed when the south aisle and south arcade of the nave were built about sixty years ago. The brick west tower was erected in the 16th century. The windows of the nave and chancel, with the one exception mentioned, were all inserted during the restoration which was undertaken when the south aisle was added, and the chancel arch was also rebuilt at the same time.
The modern east window of the chancel is of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery of 14th-century character in a two-centred head. At the south-east of the chancel is a modern niche with a trefoiled head. In the north wall is a modern segmental twocentred arch opening into the organ chamber and vestry. In the south wall are three two-light windows, the eastern having a two-centred head, while the others are square-headed. The middle window is high up in the wall, suggesting the original existence of a priest's doorway. The modern chancel arch is of three moulded orders with triple-shafted responds.
At the east end of the nave high in the north wall is a single trefoiled light, probably of 15th-century date. Beneath is a modern doorway with a twocentred head leading into the vestry and organ chamber. West of this, communicating with the 16th-century north transept, and contemporary with it, is an opening of two chamfered round-arched orders. The outer order is continuous, but the responds of the inner order are semi-octagonal and have late and debased moulded capitals. West of this again are three modern windows of two lights with traceried two-centred heads. Between the two western windows is the 12th-century north doorway, which has an external semicircular roll-moulded head with shafted jambs and an engrailed label. The jamb shafts are square and cheveron-moulded to within a few inches of the necking, becoming circular above this point, and have scalloped capitals with much-worn abaci. Surmounting the whole is a projecting gabled course which probably supported the end of a porch roof. The portion of the nave wall within and below this is externally faced with ashlar. All the rest of the north wall is plastered externally and crowned by a wood modillion cornice of late 17th-century date. The south arcade is modern and of five bays, with moulded two-centred arches carried by clustered piers and responds with moulded capitals and bases.
The north transept has a narrow round-arched east window, with a square internal head at a considerably lower level, the sill being correspondingly splayed downwards. In the north wall is a squareheaded north window of two round-headed trefoiled lights, with external label. The walls are plastered externally. The nave cornice is returned on the west wall, and there is a similar cornice on the east. The north wall is gabled, and the corona of the cornice is run beneath the tiled verge.
The modern south aisle has an east window of three lights with a traceried two-centred head, and in the south wall are four two-light windows with tracery in heads of a similar form. Between the two western windows is a south doorway. The west window is of two lights with tracery in a two-centred head. The walls are faced externally with flint and there are angle buttresses at the east and west angles.
The west tower is built of brick in three stages with an embattled parapet and octagonal angle buttresses of flint with brick quoins, terminating in plain pinnacles. The stair-turret is at the south-east of the tower, and reaches only to the ringing chamber. The tower arch is faced with stucco, and is of four orders on the east face and three on the west. The responds of the inner order have poor modern stone capitals. The west doorway is of cut brickwork, with a semicircular head. Over this is a window of four uncusped lights with stone mullions and intersecting tracery in a two-centred head. The ringing chamber has north and south windows of two uncusped lights in a head of similar form, and the belfry is lighted on all four sides by three-light windows of the same pattern.
All the roofs are tiled. That of the chancel is supported by queen-post trusses, the timbers of which appear to be old, and the nave roof, which is of the original 14th-century date, has trusses with moulded tie-beams, and shaped octagonal king-posts, from which spring curved braces, supporting collars.
The present font is modern. The original font of the 15th century still exists, however, in very perfect preservation, in the north-west corner of the churchyard. The bowl and stem are octagonal and both are richly panelled. On the rim the holes for hinge and lock are visible. The pulpit is Jacobean. The original sounding-board has been removed, but a panel from the back supporting it has been preserved. On it is carved '1615 AW.' These initials probably stand for Anthony White, vicar in 1614. On the bosses in the center of each panel of the pulpit are faintly cut the initials of the churchwardens of that year. Suspended from the nave roof at the west end is a fine brass chandelier, with ten branches, inscribed in italic capitals: 'The Gift of the Rt Honble The Countess of Preston To The Parish Church of Wargrave 1741.' In the north transept is the Bear Place faculty pew, placed there by the Hon. John Hamilton in 1745; some fine fragments of 15th century bench-ends, with traceried panelling, have been made use of in its construction. Beneath it is the Ximenes vault.
On the north wall of the chancel is an elaborate mural monument of coloured marble to Richard Aldworth, citizen and merchant adventurer of London. who died 13 May 1623, aged sixty-six. In plan it is semi-hexagonal, with three equal sides, in each of which is an arched panel with moulded imposts. These panels are of black marble and contain the inscriptions. Crowning the whole is an entablature surmounted by a model of a ship in full sail. In the frieze of the south side is a black marble tablet inscribed with an appropriate quotation from the Epistles of Horace. On the base of the monument are three shields, one on each face: Aldworth, Argent a cheveron between three dragons' heads razed each with a crosslet fitchy in its mouth all gules; Aldworth impaling Gules a fesse between eight billets or, for Anne daughter of Richard May of London, his first wife; Ermine a cheveron gules, for Margaret daughter of Thomas Deane of Reading, his second wife.
On the south wall of the south aisle is a tablet to Thomas Day, the author of Sandford and Merton, who died in 1789, 'After having promoted by the Energy of his Writings | and Encouraged by the Uniformity of his Example | The unremitted exercise of | Every publick and private | Virtue.'
A tablet on the north wall of the nave is to the memory of Francis Webb (d. 1674) and Rebecca his wife.
There is a ring of six bells: the treble, second and third are inscribed, 'Henry Knight Made Mee 1668' ; the fourth is by the same, but dated 1670; the fifth was by Henry Knight, 1668, but was recast by Mears & Stainbank, 1903; the tenor is inscribed, 'Samuell Knight Made Mee,' and bears the date 1688 with the names of the churchwardens.
The communion plate consists of a cup and cover paten, without date letter, probably of the first half of the 17th century; a flagon, bearing the date letter of 1709; a paten, bearing the date letter of 1763, inscribed, 'This is Given by Mr. Pritchard for the Use of the Communion Service of Wargrave Church Berks'; a paten, bearing the date letter of 1837, presented 'By the request of the late Thomas Taylor Esqr Surgeon'; a chalice and paten, bearing the date letter of 1867, and spoon, presented by the Rev. Arthur Sturges; and a flagon and chalice, presented by the same, bearing the date letter of 1865.
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1538 to 1709; (ii) baptisms and burials 1710 to 1789, marriages 1710 to 1754; (iii) baptisms and burials 1789 to 1812; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1801; (v) marriages 1800 to 1812 (printed). William Derham, vicar (1682–9) compiled a book containing a list of 'gardenages' from 1634, i.e., payments in lieu of tithe on gardens and orchards. The list was continued by the next vicar, H. Frinsham. The book records the names of many of the inhabitants and the old names of roads, farms and houses.
In 1085 the monastery of St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall was granted by Robert Count of Mortain to the abbey of Mont St. Michel in Normandy, (fn. 104) and between 1125 and 1129 Henry I granted some land in Devonshire to the Norman abbey in exchange for its two churches of Wargrave and Cholsey. (fn. 105) These he granted to his newly-founded abbey of Reading. (fn. 106) which afterwards obtained a quitclaim from the Abbot and monastery of Mont St. Michel. (fn. 107) The church or Wargrave belonged to Reading Abbey until its dissolution, (fn. 108) the rectory being then worth £20 a year. (fn. 109) A lease of the rectory at that rent was granted by Henry VIII in 1541 to Hugh Jones, (fn. 110) and four years later the fee simple was granted to Christopher Lytcote and his wife Katherine. (fn. 111) In 1546 Lytcote sold it to George Kenesham, (fn. 112) who some years later obtained leave to alienate it to Thomas Rivett. (fn. 113) This alienation, however, does not appear to have taken place, since in 1564 Kenesham granted it to Sir Henry Neville and his wife Elizabeth for the term of their lives, with remainder to Henry Neville, his son and heir. (fn. 114) In 1612 Neville granted the rectory with the tithes of the parish and the parsonage barn called 'Mombury Barns' to Richard Aldworth, a citizen and grocer of London, (fn. 115) who died seised of it in 1623. (fn. 116) He left by his first wife a son Richard and by his second wife a daughter Margaret and two sons. (fn. 117) both of whom died without issue shortly afterwards. (fn. 118) The rectory was then divided between Richard and Margaret, who in 1624 with her husband George Wilmot was seised of the moiety of the rectory of Wargrave. (fn. 119) The whole rectory finally passed to her half-brother, who commanded a troop of horse on the Royalist side during the Civil War. (fn. 120) He died in 1648–9, and was succeeded by his son and grandson, both Richard by name. (fn. 121) The latter died in 1707, (fn. 122) and the rectory passed to his eldest son John, (fn. 123) who, however, died childless in 1710. His heir was his brother Richard, who married Katherine Neville, and their son Richard inherited both the manor and rectory of Wargrave. (fn. 124) He took the name of Aldworth Neville in 1762, when he succeeded to the Neville property. (fn. 125) The rectory continued to belong to the lords of the manor, and was retained by Lord Braybrooke when he sold the manorial rights and advowson in 1891 to Mr. F. Walters Bond.
A vicarage was instituted in Wargrave Church before 1240, when William, the perpetual vicar of the church of Wargrave, granted an acre of the church land to Reading Abbey, the pension of 2s. payable yearly from the church being remitted in return. (fn. 126) After the dissolution of Reading Abbey the king presented to the vicarage in 1542, on the death of the incumbent. (fn. 127) The advowson of the vicarage was granted in 1544–5 with the rectory to Christopher Lytcote and his wife, (fn. 128) and passed with it to Sir Henry Neville in 1564. (fn. 129) It does not appear, however, to have been sold by Sir Henry Neville with the rectory to Richard Aldworth, being specially excepted in an indenture of 1613, (fn. 130) although according to another document it passed with the rectory. (fn. 131) Sir Henry died seised of the advowson in 1615, (fn. 132) and the lords of the manor held the advowson (fn. 133) until 1891, when Lord Braybrooke sold it to Mr. F. Walters Bond, who in 1898 disposed of it to Mr. Sydney Platt. (fn. 134)
A pension was payable to the Abbot of Reading from the vicarage of Wargrave in the 13th century of 18s. and was not tithable. (fn. 135) A yearly pension of 20s. was granted with the advowson by Henry VIII to Christopher Lytcote and his wife, (fn. 136) and is mentioned in the various transfers of the advowson in the 16th century. (fn. 137)
In 1339 Alan of Elsfield, a poor hermit of Wargrave, obtained a licence from the king to collect alms in churches to build a chapel at Wargrave in honour of Corpus Christi. (fn. 138)
At the dissolution of the chantries 20s. ready money remained from £6 13s. 4d. which had been given to keep an obit in Wargrave until the money had been spent. (fn. 139)
In 1692, as appears from a tablet in the church, Richard Aldworth gave £5 per annum out of the impropriation to be applied in teaching children to read and write, which was paid by Lord Braybrooke, the lord of the manor.
In 1798 Robert Piggott, by his will and codicil thereto proved in the P.C.C. 31 October, bequeathed £6,700 stock, to be applied in the support and maintenance of boys and girls at school. The trust fund was augmented by Mrs. Anne Piggott by a gift in her lifetime of £1,332 13s. 4d. stock, who, by her will proved in the P.C.C. 27 July 1837, bequeathed a further sum of £200, the income to be applied as to £2 2s. for a sermon in Easter week and the residue in providing refreshment, &c., for the trustees.
The trust funds are now represented by £6,700 consols and £1,666 13s. 4d. like stock, producing £209 3s. 4d. annually.
In 1799 Lord Braybrooke, by deed dated 23 August (enrolled 20 February 1800), gave a yearly rentcharge of £5, issuing out of a parcel of land therein described, to be applied in aid of the poor's rate.
The following charities, most of which were mentioned in the table of benefactions, are administered together under the title of General Charities, namely: George Courtrop's, will proved in the P.C.C. 1657, consisting of an annuity of 40s., now paid out of the Linden Hill estate; Freeholders' gift, 1731, being an annuity of 20s. given by the Hon. Henry Grey, with the consent of the freeholders, out of an inclosure in Kiln Green; Freeholders' gift, 1756, arising from the grant of a fee-farm rent of 20s. a year by the Countess of Portsmouth, which two charges of 20s. and 20s. are now paid out of land known as Scarlets; Hannah Deely's, will proved in P.C.C. 1790, trust fund, £165 19s. 6d. consols, producing £4 3s. a year, applicable as to 10s. 6d. to the minister for reading prayers on 4 January annually and the residue for the poor; Rev. Walter Sellon's, will 1793, trust fund, £400 consols, now producing £10 a year (formerly £12); trusts, £10 a year alternately to man-servant and maid-servant who should have lived three years in one place, 30s. a year to the poor, and 10s. to the vicar for preaching a sermon on Michaelmas Day on the reciprocal duties of master and servant; Mrs. Esther Serra's, by will, date unknown, trust fund, £25 consols, income 12s. 6d., applicable in bread on New Year's Day; Rev. John Tickell's, by will proved in the P.C.C. 1802, trust fund, £91 13s. 8d. consols, producing £2 5s. a year, for the poor; Mrs. Mary Tickell's, widow, by will proved with a codicil in the P.C.C. 6 February 1816, trust fund, £200 consols, producing £5 a year, for poor at Christmas; Mrs. Sarah Hill, who died in 1824, bequeathed by will £400 consols, producing £10 a year (formerly £12), which was directed to be applied £1 each to two laboureres, 10s. each to six poor widows or old unmarried women, £3 as rewards to maid-servants and £4 for educational purposes. By an order of the Charity Commissioners of 30 March 1904 the trust was apportioned as to £133 6s. 8d. consols as an educational foundation and as to £266 13s. 4d. consols as the elcemosynary branch. In 1837 Sir Morris Ximenes, by will proved at London, bequeathed a sum of £25 consols, the interest of 12s. 6d. to be distributed in bread on New Year's Day.
The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees in trust for the respective charities, and the dividends thereon are duly applied by the administering trustees.
A gift of 5s. a year by George Webb in 1717 out of 2 acres adjoining the parsonage yard, and of 10 groats by will of Francis Wilkes, 1729, for poor at Christmas, also mentioned in the table of benefactions, appear to have lapsed.