Parishes: Cholsey

A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.

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'Parishes: Cholsey', A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3, (London, 1923), pp. 296-302. British History Online [accessed 25 June 2024].

. "Parishes: Cholsey", in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3, (London, 1923) 296-302. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024,

. "Parishes: Cholsey", A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3, (London, 1923). 296-302. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024,

In this section


Ceolesig (ix cent.); Celsei (xi cent.); Chausy (xiii cent.); Cholsey (xv cent.); Choulcey (xvii cent.).

Cholsey lies low, most of it being about 200 ft. above the ordnance datum. The level in the east by the Thames is still lower. The highest ground is on Cholsey Hill and Lollingdon Hill (314 ft.) and on Cholsey Downs in the south-west. The parish contains 4,438 acres of land, more than two-thirds of which are arable. (fn. 1) The subsoil is mainly chalk with some Greensand. On the east the River Thames forms the boundary and on the north Bradford's Brook and Mill Brook. There are several streams in the parish which flow into the Thames, one of them turning Cholsey Mill. The village of Cholsey is the meeting-place of several roads, of which the chief runs north to Wallingford. The main road from Reading to Wallingford also crosses the parish, but does not pass through the village. The main line of the Great Western railway crosses the parish, and the Cholsey and Moulsford station, opened in 1893, in place of the old Moulsford station, lies 1½ miles south-west of the village. There are extensive sidings and the station is the junction for the branch line to Wallingford. Part of the village near the railway was destroyed by fire on 18 June 1887. The County Lunatic Asylum, known as the Moulsford Asylum, opened in 1870, is in Cholsey parish near the Reading and Wallingford road. It stands in an estate of 80 acres and accommodates 750 patients.

The site of the ancient monastery can be still traced near the railway station by certain mounds and a long moat, (fn. 2) which has a branch leaving it at right angles in the centre. Another moat of irregular shape, fed by a small stream, surrounds Lollingdon Farm, a house containing some 16th-century features, but much modernized, while remains of a third moat can be traced near Cholsey Church. North of the church near Cholsey Farm is the site of the old abbey barn. It was probably built about the end of the 15th century, and is mentioned in 1569–70 (fn. 3) under the name of Cowper's Barn. It was of great size, measuring 303 ft. in length, 51 ft. in height and 54 ft. in width. The upright walls were not more than 8 ft. high, the remarkably high roof being supported by two rows of stone pillars, each a yard square, which rose above two-thirds of the height of the whole building. The frame-work of the tiled roof was mainly hewn oak, with a few beams of chestnut. The barn was pulled down in May 1815. (fn. 4) The Abbots of Reading seem to have had a country house at Cholsey, and it is recorded that the last abbot Hugh rebuilt their 'capital mansion' there. (fn. 5) This house, which was called Blomes, together with a close, an orchard and the wood called Unhold lying partly in Streatley, was granted by Edward VI to Princess Elizabeth in 1551, (fn. 6) to be held by her as long as she remained unmarried and otherwise unprovided for. A lease of the house had been previously given to Thomas Parry for twenty-one years. (fn. 7) Queen Mary granted the reversion of the house to Sir Francis Englefield and his heirs and assigns, (fn. 8) but he fled the country after the accession of Elizabeth, (fn. 9) and his lands were seized by the queen, who granted the house and wood with the manor to Sir Francis Knollys and his wife Katherine. (fn. 10) There is now no trace of this house.

Winterbrook is a hamlet in the parish near the River Thames; mention is made of it in the reign of Henry III (fn. 11) and in the Reading Cartulary. Several discoveries of prehistoric implements (fn. 12) have been made at Cholsey and also coins of the Romano-British period. (fn. 13) The parish, including the open fields, downs, moors, meadows and waste lands, was inclosed by Act of Parliament, the award being dated 25 October 1851. (fn. 14)

The following place-names occur: Wynshurst, Retham, the Wyneyarde, Longlees, Tansey, Breach, Monkenden and Odsam.


By a spurious charter Denewulf, Bishop of Winchester (879–908), held land at Cholsey, (fn. 15) which together with other lands in Berkshire he exchanged for King Alfred's lands at 'Ciseldenu.' According to tradition King Ethelred founded a monastery at Cholsey about 986 in atonement for the murder of his brother Edward the Martyr, (fn. 16) and probably he gave land in the parish for its endowment. He appointed as abbot, probably in 992, (fn. 17) German, Abbot of Winchcombe, but nothing further is known of the monastery. It is said indeed to have been destroyed by the Danes in 1006. (fn. 18)

The manor of CHOLSEY was held by King Edward the Confessor and passed to the Conqueror, who had it in demesne in 1086. (fn. 19) Henry I bestowed it on Reading Abbey. In the foundation charter he recites how the three ancient monasteries of Reading, Leominster and Cholsey were destroyed and their possessions dispersed into lay hands. Cholsey was thus among the original possessions of the abbey, (fn. 20) which held it in demesne and in frankalmoign until the Dissolution. (fn. 21) The manor remained in the possession of the Crown until 1564, when Queen Elizabeth granted it to Sir Francis Knollys and Lady Katherine his wife and their heirs male, (fn. 22) bestowing upon them also the reversion of certain of the demesne lands that Queen Mary had leased for twenty-one years to Richard Drury. (fn. 23) After the death of his wife Sir Francis quitclaimed the manor and lands to the Crown in 1569–70, (fn. 24) with the exception of the capital messuage, Cowper's barn and Unholt Wood, but immediately obtained a new grant to trustees to his own use for so long as he or any heir male of himself and his wife Lady Katherine should be alive. (fn. 25) Sir Francis, who had been treasurer of the royal household (fn. 26) (1592–6), was succeeded on his death in 1596 by his second but eldest surviving son William, created Lord Knollys of Greys in 1603, Viscount Wallingford in 1616, and Earl of Banbury in 1626. (fn. 27) The latter obtained a new grant of the manor from James I to himself and his wife Elizabeth and the heirs male of Sir Francis and Katherine. (fn. 28) In 1629–30 the earl obtained a new patent from Charles I (fn. 29) to enable him to settle Cholsey on his great-nephew Henry Earl Holland and Baron Kensington, on the ground that, as he had no heirs of his body, the manor was in danger of reverting to the Crown. (fn. 30) By this plea he ignored the two sons of Lady Banbury, Edward, born in 1627, and Nicholas in 1630–1, whose paternity was questioned, and whose claims to the barony of Knollys of Greys were afterwards the subject of several famous law-suits. (fn. 31) On the death of the Earl of Banbury in 1632 (fn. 32) Cholsey was held by his widow Elizabeth for her life, according to the patent of 1629–30, the reversion being in Earl Holland. She married as her second husband Lord Vaux, (fn. 33) very shortly after the death of the Earl of Banbury. Lord and Lady Vaux were recusants and two-thirds of the manor of Cholsey were sequestered by the Parliament during the Civil War. (fn. 34) She and her husband seem to have sold the manor to Edward Lord Howard of Escrick. (fn. 35) The latter petitioned that, finding two-thirds of his purchase sequestered, he might compound for it. (fn. 36) This sale does not seem to have been followed by the transfer of seisin, or perhaps Lord Howard repudiated his purchase, since in 1651 (fn. 37) John White of Reading gave information that, though both Lord Vaux and his wife were Papists under sequestration, they had received £1,000 by fines and perquisites of courts held during the last twelve years in the name of Sir Robert Thorold, who was tenant of the manor under them. They appear to have brought the period of sequestration to a close by 1655, (fn. 38) when they complained that the manorhouse and other buildings had fallen into decay while in the hands of the tenants. (fn. 39) The countess died three years later, (fn. 40) and under the settlement of 1631 (fn. 41) the manor presumably passed to Robert (Rich) second Earl Holland, his father, Henry the first earl, on whom the reversion had been settled, having been executed as a traitor to the Parliament in 1649. (fn. 42) Whether he actually obtained seisin before the Restoration is perhaps doubtful. He succeeded at the death of his cousin in 1673 as fifth Earl of Warwick (fn. 43); his son Edward sixth Earl of Warwick and third Earl Holland held the manor in 1694 (fn. 44) and his grandson Edward Henry, the next earl, in 1719. (fn. 45) The latter died unmarried and intestate in 1721, (fn. 46) when his honours passed to a cousin and his estates to his aunt Elizabeth the wife of Francis Edwardes. Her son was created Lord Kensington in 1776, and on his death in 1801 the manor passed to his son and heir. (fn. 47) The second Lord Kensington appears to have sold it, since in 1825 (fn. 48) George Payne was lord of the manor. Before 1847 it was in the possession of James Morrison, M.P., and from him it passed to the late Mr. Charles Morrison of Basildon, who died in 1909. (fn. 49) It was entailed on his brother Mr. Walter Morrison, who is still living, but by a family arrangement it was handed over to one of his nephews, Major James Archibald Morrison.

Knollys, Earl of Banbury. Gules a cheveron argent with three roses gules thereon.

Rich, Earl Holland and of Warwick. Gules a cheveron between three crosslets or.

The Abbot of Reading claimed to exercise many rights under the royal charters to the abbey, and the trustees of Sir Francis Knollys obtained, in addition to the manor, a grant of turbary, fisheries, warrens, court leet and view of frankpledge. (fn. 50) A free fishery in the Thames and a passage or ferry across the river in Cholsey parish are mentioned in 1633. (fn. 51)

In 1086 there were various free tenants holding land of the king in Cholsey, who appear to have succeeded the ten freemen of the time of Edward the Confessor. These latter held 12½ hides of the manor, but could not withdraw themselves. (fn. 52) Of this land Richard Puingiant (fn. 53) held 8 hides, assessed at 3 hides; two sub-tenants under him, William and Hugh, held 3 hides and 1 hide respectively. Another estate of 3 hides and 1 virgate was held by Hervey. A third tenant, Gilbert by name, held 5 virgates of land, assessed as 1 virgate. (fn. 54) These holdings cannot be traced in the later history of Cholsey, unless it is possible to identify one of them with the later sub-manor or farm of KENTWOOD or CHOLSEY, held of the abbey of Reading as of the manor of Cholsey. Before the Dissolution a distinctive name does not seem to have been given to it, but shortly afterwards it began to be described under the name of former tenants, the family of Kentwood. In 1392 (fn. 55) John Kentwood held one messuage and 2 carucates of land in Cholsey of the abbey by fealty. The annual value was £10, and presumably this estate afterwards formed the manor of Kentwood. His family held another manor of Kentwood in the parish of Tilehurst (q.v.), and the descent of both manors seems to have been the same until the 17th century. (fn. 56) In 1676 (fn. 57) Edmund Dunch, the lord of the manor, together with Robert Loder, sen., and other members of the Loder family, presumably interested in the manor, conveyed the manor of Kentwood to Francis Sayer. It appears to have passed during the following century to Richard Blackall and from him to Richard Hayward in 1780. (fn. 58)

The manor of LOLLINGDON was held by a freeman named Elmaer in the reign of King Edward the Confessor. In 1086 it was in the hands of Richard Puingiant. (fn. 59) Lollingdon had been included in the ferm of Cholsey, but was separated from it during his tenure. (fn. 60) There is no evidence to show the ownership of the manor until the 13th century. Herbert de Shortecombe died seised of 2 marks rent in Lollingdon at some date prior to 1240, when his nephew and heir Robert de Shortecombe, then a minor, remitted that rent to Bartholomew Peche in exchange for the reversion of land in Sparsholt. (fn. 61) Bartholomew's son and heir Herbert Peche died about 1272 holding the manor of Lollingdon of Robert de Shortecombe in free socage by 1d. yearly. (fn. 62) The Shortecombe mesne lordship appears to have lapsed very shortly after the death of Herbert Peche, whose son and heir Bartholomew (fn. 63) held Lollingdon of the king in chief as one-tenth of a knight's fee. (fn. 64) He died seised about 1283, (fn. 65) leaving his son, another Bartholomew, a boy of three and a half, as his heir. In 1327 (fn. 66) Joan, the widow of Bartholomew Peche, impleaded John Peche concerning an agreement made between them as to the manor of Lollingdon. The younger Bartholomew was knighted and his son John is mentioned in 1349, when the manor of Lollingdon was held for life by Elizabeth Edward, by a certain Joan and by William son of Joan. (fn. 67) This John Peche (fn. 68) may be identified with the Sir John Peche for the payment of whose debts his son John pledged the manor of Lollingdon (fn. 69) at the time of his marriage with Lady Isabel Mounbocher, daughter of Sir Richard Willoughby. In 1392 Lollingdon was granted by trustees to William de Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, (fn. 70) who immediately annexed it to his manor of Brightwell. In 1327 the bailiff of the Abbot of Reading stated that the manor of Lollingdon was in the liberty belonging to the abbey and claimed to have jurisdiction there. (fn. 71) It does not appear, however, that Lollingdon had been a sub-manor held under Cholsey since the first grant to Richard Puingiant, and therefore it could not have been in the abbot's liberty and reconstructed hundred of Reading. In the beginning of the 13th century (fn. 72) Lollingdon was still in the hundred of Eletsford as at the date of the Domesday Survey. In 1275 Lucy Peche, probably the widow of Herbert Peche, and the heir of Herbert had free warren in Lollingdon. (fn. 73)

Peche. Azure a lion with a forked tail ermine having a golden crown.

In 1086 there were three mills on the king's manor of Cholsey. (fn. 74) Mills at Cholsey were mentioned in 1570 (fn. 75) and 1694. (fn. 76) At the present day there is a water-mill in the parish, to the north-east of the village of Cholsey.


The church of ST. MARY consists of a chancel 40 ft. 4 in. by 18 ft. 10 in., a central tower about 15 ft. square, a north transept about 19 ft. square, a south transept about 20 ft. by 19 ft. 3 in. and a nave about 68 ft. 9 in. by 22 ft. 9 in. These measurements are all internal. The material is flint, with dressings of hard yellow oolite.

The earliest church on this site of which traces remain was probably of the first half of the 11th century, and would seem to have been, like the present church, cruciform with a central tower. The present central tower has long-and-short work at three angles up to the level of the ridge of the present roof, while the south-west angle has been altered for a 14th-century turret stair. The great thickness of the tower piers seems to indicate a reinforcement of the earlier work in the 12th-century rebuilding.

The present church is almost wholly of the 12th and 13th centuries, the chancel having been much altered and lengthened in the latter century. The 12th-century church, incorporating the 11th-century tower, consisted of a short chancel, transepts with apsidal eastern ends, and a nave rather shorter than that at present standing. The apses have both disappeared, but in the north transept the opening is merely blocked, and its semicircular arch is visible internally, while the outline can be plainly traced externally. In the case of the south transept the recent excavation revealed the foundations of the apse, which was exactly equal in width to that of the north transept.

The western half of the present chancel, which doubtless had originally an apsidal termination, the inner faces of the tower piers, the transepts, and the greater part of the nave are of the 12th century. About 1260 the chancel was lengthened eastward to its present dimensions. In the latter part of the 14th century the tower was rebuilt from the level of the roofs, and the stair turret was added, when the thickening of the southern half of the western face of the tower probably took place. This may, however, indicate that the upper stage of the old tower had fallen, necessitating the repair of the remaining portion on that face. At the same time the south wall of the south transept was rebuilt.

In the 15th century the nave appears to have been lengthened a little, and the present west wall and west window were made. In 1849 the nave was reroofed, two new windows were inserted in each side wall and a south porch was removed. In 1877–8 the north wall of the north transept was rebuilt, both transepts were repaired, the south transept fitted for service, and the chancel was restored. At the same time two new windows were inserted in the western end of the south wall of the chancel in place of a 12th-century window. Much of the stone work was scraped and retooled, and the present capitals of the responds of the eastern crossing arch of the tower were inserted, in imitation of the 12th-century work of the existing capitals of the western crossing arch.

The east window is of three trefoiled lights with tracery of the late 13th century under a pointed head. The rear arch has deeply undercut mouldings, and the jambs detached shafts with carved capitals and moulded bases. In the east end of the north wall of the chancel are three original lancets, grouped together on the inside, with richly moulded and labelled rear arches and widely splayed inner jambs with attached shafts, having moulded capitals and bases, at the meeting of the splays of the centre light with the side lights, and corresponding shafts at the angles of the side jambs. The outer jambs are chamfered, and over each lancet is a moulded label terminating in grotesque head-stops. To the west of these windows is a single round-headed light of 12th-century date, which was discovered in the restoration of 1878. The jambs have small attached angle shafts with cushion capitals and moulded bases, but only the east jamb of the window is original. In the east end of the south wall are three lancets similar to those in the opposite wall, but having stepped sills, which were only found in the recent restoration, and have been considerably restored. In the western half of the sill of the easternmost window are two piscinae, the first basin being quatrefoiled, the second plain, while in the sill of the centre light are two sedilia and in the eastern half of the end light a third. To the west is a 13th-century priest's doorway with a pointed head and continuously moulded external jambs, and an external label, stopped on the west side by a head-stop, but on the east carried round the wall of the chancel below the windows as a string-course. The two western windows are modern, and are copied from those just described. At the east end of the chancel, inside, at the level of the window sills, a moulded stringcourse, much restored, marks approximately the 13th-century lengthening. It is stopped on the north and south walls by carved heads. The moulding has been copied and carried along at the sill level of the modern windows in the west end of the south wall. The walls are plastered internally.

Plan of Cholsey Church

The tower, which is crowned by an embattled parapet, is carried up almost square without any external offsets or buttresses, and has in the south-western angle a stair turret of the 14th century, which was originally entered from the north-west corner of the south transept, but now from the outside at the angle of the nave and south transept wall. The walls of the ground stage are nearly 6 ft. thick, and are carried on the east and west sides by semicircular arches of three square orders. The abaci at the springing were moulded originally with a quirk and hollow chamfer, but, having been badly restored, now assume the section of the classical echinus. The responds taking the two outer orders are of the same section as the arches they carry, but the inner orders are stopped at the springing and carried by attached half-round piers having carved capitals and moulded bases. The capitals to the responds of the eastern arch are both modern, but those of the nave arch are both original. Opening into the transepts are semicircular arches the full width of the walls of the tower and springing from the moulded abaci which are continued round the walls from the responds of the east and west arches. Lighting the ringing chamber from the south and west are small single trefoiled lights, and lower down in the west wall, just above the level of the ridge of the nave roof, is a larger modern two-light window. In each face of the bell-chamber is a window of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights with a quatrefoil under a pointed head. At the angles of the parapet are the stumps of pinnacles, and on the cornice under the parapet on each side are two grotesque gargoyles. The walls of the tower are faced with coursed rubble. The south-west angle of the lower part is covered by the 14th-century stair turret, but on the other three angles the long-and-short work of the 11th century can be very clearly seen.

In the east wall of the north transept is a semicircular blocked arch springing from square responds with grooved and chamfered abaci and having an internal label of the same section. This arch originally formed the opening into the apse. Against the north wall of the tower is the north jamb of a blocked-up squint. The north wall was entirely rebuilt in 1878, when diagonal buttresses were added at the east and west angles, but many old stones were re-used in the north window, which is of three trefoiled lights with reticulated tracery under a pointed head. On the west side, placed high up in the wall, is a small original round-headed opening with widely splayed inner jambs and an external chamfer. The head is in one stone with a groove incised round the opening and along the edges. The still is modern and the jambs have been slightly restored. To the south of this window is a modern doorway with a shouldered head.

The greater part of the east wall of the south transept has been rebuilt, though a mark in the masonry in the outside of the wall may indicate the commencement of the original apse; a modern roundheaded window has been inserted in this wall. In the south wall is a good 14th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery under a pointed head, and an external moulded label with much decayed head-stops. In the west wall is a 12th-century window similar to that in the north transept; the still is modern. Across the north-west angle is the blocked stair-turret doorway, which has a pointed head wave-moulded continuously with the jambs, while over the doorway is a moulded string-course. At the corners of the south wall are two diagonal buttresses, the eastern much restored, and at the foot of the gable are much mutilated heads.

The nave has in each wall two modern three-light windows of 14th-century character. Between the windows in the south wall is a mid-12th-century doorway which has been much restored. The round head is of two orders, the outer enriched with cheveron ornament and contained within a hollow-chamfered label, the vertical face of which is ornamented with a flat zigzag, while below the chamfer is a row of circular pellets. The head is filled by a tympanum, on which an incised line follows the curve of the semicircle, but the horizontal chord is turned up towards the centre, as though some more elaborate work had been contemplated, but progressed no further than the first drafting lines. The outer order is carried by detached shafts having carved capitals and moulded bases, but the jambs taking the inner order are square. The capital to the eastern shaft is carved on each face with an inverted trefoil with a beast's head at the angle, while the western capital is of an interlacing scroll design. There are marks of sundials on both the east and west jambs and also on the tympanum. Over the doorway are the lines of the steep-pitched roof to a porch which was removed in the restoration of 1847. At the west end of the nave is a wooden gallery (in which is the organ) lighted by a 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights, with vertical tracery under a four-centred head. The west wall has a stepped gable, and below the stepping, following the line of the roof, is a moulded string terminating at the north angle in a winged angel, but on the south the stop has been broken off. Internally the nave is heavily plastered throughout, and outside the walls have been covered with rough-cast, effectually concealing any traces of the original windows or other features, with the exception of a lancet window which can just be discerned between the western window and the doorway in the south wall.

The roof of the chancel is steep-pitched and modern, but of good design. The transept roofs are also modern, but in that to the north transept many old timbers were re-used. The roof of the nave is wholly modern, but the marks of a steep-pitched early roof can be seen on the western face of the tower.

The eastern end of the front bench on the south side of the chancel is of the 15th century, and has traceried panelling with a poppy-head finial; three of the panels in the front of this row have cinquefoiled heads of the same date. In the floor of the chancel, underneath the east arch of the tower, are several 14th-century tiles, and there are also several in the floor at the north-west corner of the south transept.

On the floor against the south wall of the south transept is a mutilated 14th-century stone effigy of a lady wearing a long cloak with her head upon a pillow and her hands clasped upon her breast. In the floor of the south transept against the west wall is a brass to John Barfort, who died in 1361, and in the floor of the chancel on the south side is a brass figure of a priest in eucharistic vestments holding a chalice and below it an inscription to John More, vicar, 1471. On the opposite side of the chancel is a brass to John Gate, vicar, who died in 1394. In the north transept is a slab with the matrices of the figures of a man and his wife and two shields, and a modern brass in the matrix for the inscription, assuming it to commemorate John Willmot, who died in 1529, and his wife Agnes.

There is a ring of six bells: the treble and fourth by John Hunt of Cholsey, 1826; the second is inscribed 'SAMUELL KNIGHT MEAD MEE THE LEADER OF THIS RING TOO BEE,' underneath which is the date 1642 (the last figure is almost indecipherable, but is probably a '2'); the third by Samuel Knight, 1685; the fifth by John Warner & Sons, 1869; and the tenor by Samuel Knight, inscribed 'W. B. S. K. 1685.' There is also a sanctus bell, probably dating from early in the 14th century, inscribed in Gothic capitals 'Ricardus de Wimbis me fecit.'

The plate consists of a cover paten dated 1577 with the date letter of that year, a chalice and cover paten stamped with the date letter of 1646, the chalice inscribed 'Legatum Thomae Brackley,' a modern silver paten, and an almsdish and modern chalice, neither of which is silver. There is also a silver-mounted modern glass flagon.

The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1541 to 1611 and 1617 to 1676, marriages 1548 to 1644 and 1658 to 1678, burials 1540 to 1609, 1617 to 1620, 1630 to 1647, and 1652 to 1678; (ii) baptisms 1679 to 1793, marriages 1680 to 1754, burials 1679 to 1794; (iii) marriages 1754 to 1791; (iv) marriages 1791 to 1815; (v) baptisms and burials 1794 to 1812; (vi) baptisms in duplicate 1805 to 1813.

There is a Baptist chapel in Cholsey.


William I granted the church to the abbey of Mont St. Michel, in Normandy, which held it of him in 1086, together with 1 hide of land belonging to the church. (fn. 77) Two priests also held of the king in Cholsey, 'in tithe and church what was worth £4.' (fn. 78) Henry I, between the years 1125 and 1129, made an exchange with the Norman monastery, granting them 12 librates of land in Budleigh Manor, co. Devon, in return for the surrender of the two Berkshire churches of Wargrave and Cholsey, (fn. 79) which he gave to the abbey of Reading at the time of its foundation. (fn. 80) The church of Cholsey belonged to Reading until the dissolution of the abbey, (fn. 81) a vicarage having been instituted in the 13th century, (fn. 82) either during the episcopate of Robert Bingham (1229–46) or Robert Wickhampton (1274–84). It appears to have been the custom of the abbot to grant leases of the rectory, and the last of these, dated 1533–4, was running at the time of the dissolution of the abbey. (fn. 83) The rectory remained with the Crown, and Queen Elizabeth granted a lease of it to Ralph Mercer and his two sons for their lives, (fn. 84) but the fee simple was retained by the Crown until after the accession of James I. In 1605, on the petition of Sir Thomas Sherley, the king granted the rectory and church of Cholsey to Anthony Crewe and William Starky, both of London, for the yearly rent of £20. (fn. 85) William Bonham and his wife Anne conveyed it in 1622–3 (fn. 86) to Uriah Babington, who with his wife Alice and William Babington sold it in 1623 to Edward Pottinger and his wife Joan. (fn. 87) Seventeen years later these owners conveyed the rectory, possibly in mortgage to Geoffrey Farmer, Richard Andrewes and John Bradley. (fn. 88) In 1682 it was in the possession of Mary Pottinger of Cholsey, wife of Edmund Gregory, and of Mary daughter of Geoffrey Farmer and wife of Jethro Tull. (fn. 89) In that year, possibly owing to the financial embarrassments of Edmund Gregory, (fn. 90) the rectory was sold to Richard Stevens. (fn. 91) In 1686–7 (fn. 92) it was held in four parts, three of which were in the possession of George Bayley and Mary his wife. It seems impossible to trace the different portions of the rectory at this time. In 1781 (fn. 93) Earl Harcourt and his wife Elizabeth and George Davis gave warranty for a moiety to Sir William Lee, bart., who had married the sister of Earl Harcourt. (fn. 94) Ten years later, however, Joshua Street and his wife Frances appear to have had the whole rectory. (fn. 95) In the middle of the 19th century the Comtesse de Broc owned the great tithes (fn. 96) and at the present time Mr. Walter Carter is the impropriator. The tithes from certain demesne land of the manor of Cholsey appear to have been separated from the rectory and to have been granted to the lords of the manor after the Dissolution. In the grants to Sir Francis Knollys these lands were called the Vineyard, Longlees, Tansey, Windhurst, Retham and Smithe's Mead. (fn. 97) This may account for the fact that Lord Kensington in the early years of the 19th century (fn. 98) was said to be the impropriator of the great tithes as well as lord of the manor.

The advowson of the vicarage and church of Cholsey was not granted away from the Crown with the rectory. In 1585–6, (fn. 99) however, it was included in the lease granted to Ralph Mercer and his sons Stanshall and John, who paid a yearly rent of £20 and were responsible for the repair of the chancel of the church. Certain apparent transfers of the advowson were probably only transfers of this lease. In 1581 (fn. 100) it passed from John Reade to George Chowne, Giles Flyde and Christopher Puckering, and in 1591 (fn. 101) to James Morrys and Francis Cradocke. The lease seems to have come to an end before 1617, (fn. 102) when the Crown presented to the vicarage. The Lord Chancellor is patron of the living at the present day. The Abbot of Reading, the rector, had a pension from the vicarage of Cholsey in the 13th century, (fn. 103) while the Prior of Wallingford had a 'portion' in it. (fn. 104) Possibly this portion was payable from the demesne land of Moulsford, then a chapelry to Cholsey, since Emma de Cholsey had granted to the priory, probably during the episcopate of Jocelin de Bohun (1142–84), two-thirds of the tithes from the demesne of Moulsford. (fn. 105) The parish church of Cholsey held land in the 16th century, (fn. 106) given for the repairs of the church; at the time of the dissolution of the chantries the land was occupied by the Stampe family.


John Symonds, who died in 1640, by will left £10 for poor widowers and widows. This amount was augmented to £20 by legacies under the wills of Epaphroditus Christian, John Hill and Elizabeth Moulden. The trust funds are now represented by £33 4s. on deposit in the Post Office Savings Bank.

It was stated in the table of benefactions that William Button gave to the poor £1 4s. per annum charged on an estate called Henclose for ever. The Henclose estate now consists of two houses with orchard and meadow, the whole containing 2 a. 3 r., occupied by Mr. S. W. Cozens, the owner, by whom the annuity is regularly paid.

The same table stated that Francis Sayer and Richard Sayer, his son, each gave 10s. a year for poor widowers and widows. An annuity of £1 is regularly paid by Major J. A. Morrison of Basildon, the owner of the Kentwood estate.

By the Cholsey inclosure award, dated 25 October 1851, among other allotments for public purposes, a plot containing 6 acres was awarded for the recreation ground and 10 acres for the labouring poor, subject to a rent-charge. The land is let in allotments. The receipts in 1907 were £15 5s. 9d.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Cf. V.C.H. Berks. i, 269.
  • 3. Pat. 12 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 24.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. lxxxvi (1), 105.
  • 5. Pat. 4 & 5 Phil. and Mary, pt. viii, m. 21.
  • 6. Ibid. 5 Edw. VI, pt. iii, m. 31 (837).
  • 7. Ibid. 4 & 5 Phil. and Mary, pt. viii, m. 21.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. See Englefield.
  • 10. Pat. 6 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 21.
  • 11. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 585a.
  • 12. V.C.H. Berks. i, 194.
  • 13. Ibid. 205.
  • 14. Blue Bk. Incl. Awards, 6.
  • 15. Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 205; F. M. Stenton, Early Hist. of Abingdon Abbey, 13.
  • 16. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 1615; Gale, Scriptores XV, 546.
  • 17. Chron. Abbat. Ramesei. (Rolls Ser.), 110.
  • 18. Symeon of Durham, Historia Regum (Rolls Ser.), ii, 139–40. Shortly before this Archbishop Ælfric (995–1005) had left the reversion of lands near Wallingford to 'the church of Cholsey' (Chron, Mon. de Abingdon [Rolls Ser.], i, 418).
  • 19. V.C.H. Berks. i, 328.
  • 20. Harl. MS. 1708; Cott. MS. Vesp. E. fol. 17.
  • 21. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, p. 15; Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 124b; Feud. Aids, i, 48; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, g. 282 (81).
  • 22. Pat. 6 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 21.
  • 23. Ibid.; 12 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 24.
  • 24. Ibid.; Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 12 Eliz.
  • 25. Pat. 12 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 24.
  • 26. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 27. G.E.C. Complete Peerage; Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 3 Jas. I; Recov. R. Mich. 20 Jas. I, rot. 119.
  • 28. Pat. 20 Jas. I, pt. ix, no. 1.
  • 29. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1629–31, p. 199.
  • 30. Pat. 5 Chas. I, pt. v, m. 23; Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 5 Chas. I; Mich. 6 Chas. I.
  • 31. G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
  • 32. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), dcvii, 92; G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
  • 33. G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
  • 34. Cal. Com. for Comp. 2011, 174.
  • 35. Ibid. 2011.
  • 36. Ibid.
  • 37. Cal. Com. for Advance of Money, 1317.
  • 38. Cal. Com. for Comp. 2011.
  • 39. Ibid.
  • 40. G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
  • 41. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), dcvii, 92.
  • 42. G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
  • 43. Ibid.
  • 44. Com. Pleas D. Enr. Mich. 6 Will. and Mary, m. 10.
  • 45. Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 6 Geo. I.
  • 46. G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
  • 47. See Recov. R. Trin. 38 Geo. III, m. 124.
  • 48. Ibid. Trin. 6 Geo. IV, rot. 23.
  • 49. a Inform. given by Mr. J. H. Cope.
  • 50. Pat. 12 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 24.
  • 51. Feet of F. Div. Co. East. 9 Chas. I.
  • 52. V.C.H. Berks. i, 328.
  • 53. He also held Lollingdon (q.v.).
  • 54. V.C.H. Berks. i, 328.
  • 55. Inq. a.q.d. file 415, no. 2.
  • 56. In 1484, however, John son and heir of Robert Kentwood confirmed a grant of the Cholsey manor to Alexander Cheyne and his wife Florence, apparently the widow of Robert Kentwood, to hold during her life (De Banco R. East. 1 Ric. III, m. 1 d.).
  • 57. Feet of F. Berks. East. 27 Chas. II.
  • 58. Ibid. Mich. 21 Geo. III.
  • 59. V.C.H. Berks. i, 360.
  • 60. Ibid.
  • 61. Assize R. 37, m. 17 d.
  • 62. Cal. Inq. p.m. (Hen. III), 285.
  • 63. Ibid.
  • 64. Ibid. 1–19 Edw. I, 293.
  • 65. Ibid.
  • 66. De Banco R. 270, m. 7.
  • 67. Feet of F. Berks. 23 Edw. III, no. 50.
  • 68. Wrottesley, Ped. from Plea R. 58.
  • 69. Cal. Close, 1349–54, p. 607.
  • 70. Cal. Pat. 1391–6, p. 61.
  • 71. De Banco R. 270, m. 7.
  • 72. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 132.
  • 73. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 10.
  • 74. V.C.H. Berks. i, 328.
  • 75. Pat. 12 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 24.
  • 76. Recov. R. Mich. 6 Will. and Mary, rot. 274.
  • 77. V.C.H. Berks. i, 328.
  • 78. Ibid.
  • 79. Cal. Doc. of France, 259; Cal. Close, 1330–3, p. 480; Dagdale, Mon. iv, 40.
  • 80. Harl. MS. 1708.
  • 81. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188; Pat. 6 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 21; Dugdale, Mon. iv, 49.
  • 82. Harl. MS. 1708; Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188.
  • 83. Pat. 28 Eliz. pt. vi, m. 2.
  • 84. Ibid.
  • 85. Ibid. 2 Jas. I, pt. xxii, m. 4.
  • 86. Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 20 Jas. I.
  • 87. Ibid. Mich. 21 Jas. I.
  • 88. Ibid. Hil. 17 Chas. I.
  • 89. Recov. R. Trin. 34 Chas. II, rot. 132; Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 34 Chas. II; Cherry, op. cit. ii, 409, 534.
  • 90. Cherry, op. cit. ii, 409.
  • 91. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 34 Chas. II; Recov. R. Trin. 34 Chas. II, rot. 132.
  • 92. Recov. R. Hil. 2 & 3 Jas. II, rot. 36.
  • 93. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 21 Geo. III.
  • 94. G.E.C. Complete Baronetage.
  • 95. Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 31 Geo. III.
  • 96. Post Office Dir. 1847, 1854, 1869, 1883.
  • 97. Pat. 12 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 24; cf. Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 12 Eliz.; Div. Co. Hil. 3 Jas. I; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), dcvii, 92.
  • 98. Lysons, Mag. Brit. i, 262.
  • 99. Pat. 28 Eliz. pt. vi, m. 2.
  • 100. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 23 & 24 Eliz.; Mich. 27 & 28 Eliz.; see below, p. 506.
  • 101. Ibid. Mich. 33 & 34 Eliz.
  • 102. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 103. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188.
  • 104. Ibid.
  • 105. Dugdale, Mon. iii, 280.
  • 106. Chant. Cert. 3, no. 39.