Parishes: Brightwell

Pages 464-471

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

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Beorhtwille (x cent.); Bristowell, Bricstewell (xi cent.); Brictewell, Bretewell, Brithwell, Brygtwell (xiii–xv cent.); Bretwell, Britwell, Bryghtwell (xv–xviii cent.).

The entire area of Brightwell is 2,064 acres. There are 1,306 acres of arable, 610 acres of grass, and 10 acres of woodland. (fn. 1)

The parish extends from the Thames on the north to the Moreton Brook on the south. The soil is sandy loam, resting partly on Greensand. The northeastern portion is an elevation of the Upper Greensand rising to a height of 371 ft., with the Gault intervening between this and the river. The southern portion is level marsh-land. The whole, both arable and pasture, is very fertile. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, beans and turnips. The occupations are chiefly confined to agriculture and grazing. The common was inclosed in 1813. (fn. 2)

In the 10th century the area of Brightwell appears to be included in Sotwell (q.v.), which is a small parish crossing Brightwell from north to south and dividing it into two separate portions. In the western portion is the principal village called occasionally Westbrightwell (xiv cent.), (fn. 3) and the hamlet of Mackney is south of it. The portion east of Sotwell is Slade End, at the end of the 'slad' or valley. The four hamlets of Brightwell, Mackney, Sotwell, and Slade End form practically one large village in the middle of the entire area. There is a central recreation ground in the parish of Sotwell. The line of cottages along the northern edge of the village on the high road (partly in Sotwell) is known as Little London. This principal high road coming from Wallingford proceeds towards Abingdon; a branch diverging southwards at Slade End passes westward through Sotwell and Brightwell; and outside the western end these roads are connected again by a cross road in a series of right angles which are said to be the result of difficulties encountered when it was made to form a turnpike road by Didcot into west Berkshire about 1800. (fn. 4) Several byways cross southward between the high road and the parallel thoroughfare through the villages. The most important of them, being the western boundary of Sotwell, carries on the line of 'Green Field Lane,' which crosses the hill from the north, and continues southward in Mackney Lane leading to that hamlet, whence a foot-path, which may have been known as a cattle track as early as the 10th century, (fn. 5) again continues its line to the brook at Tadsey Bridge. The course of the Saxon highway from east to west is seen in a direct line in a foot-path across Slade End fields, then in the street of Sotwell, and in a foot-path passing behind the houses of Brightwell Street and emerging again upon the roadway westward; thence continuing in a cart-track, and afterwards in a field boundary called 'Beggars' Path,' so leading up towards Haddon Hill. A parallel foot-path from Slade End crosses Sotwell and becomes the main street of Brightwell.

The village is mostly modern, the cottages being built chiefly of brick with slate or tile roofs, though a few of the older ones are thatched. Standing back on the west side of a lane running north from the church is a small 16th-century house in a dilapidated condition, now turned into two cottages. It is of half-timber and brick construction and is roofed with tiles. At the south end of the lane, on the east side, are some old thatched cottages. On the upper floor of one of them are three curious wall paintings which appear to be of early 17th-century date. The subjects are a matter of conjecture, but probably represent some story. In the first a woman lying on a bed in a tent is being raised by a man in a black robe with a halo round his head. The middle painting represents a child lying on a couch with a figure holding a lamp bending over her. Above them is a red canopy or tent. The third shows a figure in a red gown getting out of a bed over which is a black canopy. In the bottom right-hand corner is a hand holding a candle, and in the opposite corner is a head with a halo.

At the west end of Brightwell Street are the rectory-house, of which the old part is said to be of the time of Henry IV, (fn. 6) and the church of St. Agatha. Behind the church is the house of Manor Farm, known as Brightwell House, and now occupied by the Misses Turner, Woodhouse and Harrowell; the back part bears the date 1605, (fn. 7) but the front is a three-story building of about 1800 of purple-coloured bricks with red brick dressings and a tiled roof. Its moat, with a large mound at one corner, formerly inclosed the church also. (fn. 8) This is doubtless the site of the Norman castle (fn. 9) which was delivered up by King Stephen to Duke Henry after the Civil War (fn. 10) 'and probably was then demolished.' (fn. 11) The moat is supplied by the 'clear spring' which gives the name to the village, (fn. 12) rising at a short distance on the north; and it may be presumed that the mill of the Survey (fn. 13) was here. A streamlet diverted from the Sotwell spring runs along the street into this.

The hamlet of Mackney (Maccanige, Maccanie, x cent.; Maccanyng, xiv cent.; Mackeney, Makeney, xii–xvii cent.) is half a mile south of Brightwell. An ancient bridge of large flagstones carrying the roadway over an intervening ditch was condemned as unsafe in 1901 and a bridge of brick was substituted. (fn. 14)

At Mackney Court a portion of the house built by Robert Court before 1509 (fn. 15) still exists, (fn. 16) with the remains of its moat. (fn. 17) Much of the old house of Sherwoods is incorporated at the back of the modern house. A fine gabled house of stone, known as Small's House, built by Small, a burgess of Wallingford, in the reign of Elizabeth, is unaltered, but occupied by cottagers. (fn. 18) It is on an estate belonging to New College, Oxford.

Slade End House is a substantial brick building, erected about 1800, now the property of the Rev. John W. A. Slatter Betteridge.

Fields near the village are Dews Close, Kates Close, Tittlings Piece and Pisshe (otherwise Priests) Meadow. The brook bounding the parish on the south was 'Sandlac' in the 12th century. (fn. 19) The brook dividing it from Little Wittenham on the north-west was 'Scillingesbroc.' (fn. 20)

The western boundary of Mackney is Kibble Ditch (Gybhild, ? x cent. (fn. 21); Gebyll, or Gibble, xvi cent. (fn. 22) ). Along the verge of these two brooks passed the Roman road from Dorchester to Streatley which formed the boundary of Sotwell (including Bright well) in early times, (fn. 23) and of which a considerable part survives in existing tracks from Tadsey Bridge along Mackney Fields, then for a few yards at Moor End Cottage in Brightwell; after which its course disappears over a field called 'Cuckoo Pen' and beside Redgate Farm on the high road, and it reappears from the brow of the hill, passing between Felmore Copse and the Wittenham Wood down to the river bank. (fn. 24) The field track and pathway crossing the northern part of the parish was called 'Bridgeway' perhaps as early as the 10th century. (fn. 25) At its eastern end is 'Kedging Meadow' (Kechill Mede, xvi cent.), partly in Sotwell and partly an isolated portion of Brightwell. In the 'Ham Fields' on the eminence Brightwell Barrow (fn. 26) is conspicuous. The earliest recorded name of the ridge was Caberes Back, and 'heathen burial-mounds' which have disappeared were at the western apex of the parish, (fn. 27) now 'Dead-man's Acre.' Fields at this point are 'Haddon' and 'The Coombs.' East of them are 'Butts Close' and 'Mellaway.' Between these within living memory a mere bank, facing the entrance of the camp on Castle Hill in Little Wittenham (q.v.), passed southward and a field called Bloody Mere adjoins it. (fn. 28) In Slade End, south of the roads already described and continuing the line of a foot-path near the brook, is a portion of the Roman road which led westward from Wallingford with its banks and ditches, its line being carried on by a foot-path across Sotwell, and thence by the 'Witches' Walk' leading from Mackney Lane into 'Cow Croft,' and afterwards reappearing in the high road to Didcot, which further west is called the Portway. (fn. 29) The Slade End meadows between this track and the brook are 'Millony' (fn. 30) (Meldanige, ? x cent.; Meldynige, Mildeney, xiv cent.; Millney, xvii–xviii cent.), bounded on the west by another primitive track meeting the former at a wide angle and passing southward by 'the Evils,' (fn. 31) where it becomes part of the eastern boundary of Sotwell.

Brightwell Church from the North-east

Inclosures adjoining Mackney Court called Great and Little Culbery probably represent the primitive 'bury.' (fn. 32) Getseys Close adjoins Mackney Lane, Downhearse and Beegarden occur in 1770. Meadows on the Moreton Brook are 'the Evils' (partly in Sotwell), the Street, and Tadsey. (fn. 33)

There was a windmill in the parish in the 18th century. (fn. 34)

Notes of a Rogationtide 'drinking,' c. 1655, are preserved. (fn. 35) A village feast is held on the second and third Sundays in August. The observance of Shroving Day with doggerel rhymes and of May Day with garlands is kept up among the children.

There was a meeting-house for Dissenters in Brightwell in 1840. (fn. 36) There are now a Primitive Methodist chapel, erected in 1882, and an undenominational mission hall.

The Church of England school was founded in 1846 and rebuilt in 1870. A clock tower attached to it is the gift of the late Mr. Edward Fairthorne, who also founded some almshouses for three aged persons. The Stewart Memorial Hall for parochial purposes was erected by public subscription in 1880 as a memorial to the Rev. James Haldane Stewart, rector from 1866 to 1879.

Thomas of Brightwell, Chancellor of Oxford University, who suffered as a Wycliffite, is supposed to have been a native of this place. (fn. 37) There have been several distinguished rectors. Thomas Godwin, D.D., master of Abingdon School, a classical and theological writer, died in 1642. (fn. 38) He was succeeded by Edward Hyde, D.D., a Royalist divine, who was deprived as being disaffected to the Parliament in 1645, (fn. 39) when John Ley, a member of the Westminster Assembly, was appointed. (fn. 40) Edward Bernard, D.D., astronomer and orientalist, was presented in 1691 and died in 1697. (fn. 41) Anthony Alsop, a poetical writer, presented about 1717, was accidentally drowned abroad in 1726. (fn. 42) Thomas Wintle, a distinguished Hebraist, died in 1814. (fn. 43)


According to a charter dated 948, probably embodying genuine materials, (fn. 44) but contained in a chartulary of ill repute, compiled at St. Swithun's, Winchester, in the 12th century, (fn. 45) King Eadred granted to the thegn Ethelgeard 5 hides at Mackney and 5 hides at Sotwell, and also 46 acres outside Wallingford. (fn. 46) The Liber de Hyda, however, states that King Eadwy in 957 bestowed upon Ethelgeard 15 hides at Sotwell (Stottanwille), and the boundaries included what Eadred had granted, together with that portion of the present parish of Brightwell which lies between the western boundary of Sotwell and the line of the Roman road, and also what is now Slade End excepting the south-eastern portion known as Millony, of which lands Ethelgeard is said to have granted the reversion after the death of himself and his wife to the New Minster (Hyde Abbey) at Winchester. (fn. 47) The name of BRIGHTWELL appears in a spurious charter dated 945, purporting to be a grant by Eadred to Ethelgeard of 30 hides about the vill called 'Æt Beorhtanwille,' 10 of which are at that place, 15 in a part of the vill called 'Æt Suttanwille,' and 5 in Mackney island; also the 46 acres near Wallingford. (fn. 48) It describes all that constitutes the present parishes of Brightwell and Sotwell, including the westward extension of Brightwell beyond the line of the Roman road, the eastern half of Mackney, the southern portion of Sotwell, and Millony, all of which are outside the limits of the grant of 957. (fn. 49) Possibly this is based on a true tradition that the additional Brightwell lands had belonged to the cathedral abbey of St. Swithun, but before the Norman Conquest the 10 hides at Sotwell belonged to Hyde Abbey, and only the 15 hides at Brightwell with the 5 hides at Mackney were the property of the bishopric. The Domesday Survey states that Bishop Stigand held 20 hides here in right of his bishopric of Winchester, but after the Conquest it was assessed as 10 hides, yet the value had increased from £20 to £25; also Bishop Walkelin held twenty-seven tenements in Wallingford belonging to this manor. (fn. 50) In 1276 a complaint was raised in the hundred court that the bishop had withdrawn the tithing of Brightwell to the damage of the king's hundred and had otherwise claimed undue rights there. (fn. 51) In the reign of Edward II Brightwell, Mackney and Sotwell were still reckoned as one 'vill,' the Bishop of Winchester and John de St. John being the lords. (fn. 52) In 1583 the capital messuage and certain lands were leased to Queen Elizabeth for seventynine years. (fn. 53) Edmund Dunch, son of William Dunch of Little Wittenham, was occupying it in 1588, (fn. 54) and probably his son William Dunch in 1605. (fn. 55) In 1648 the commissioners for the sale of church lands sold it to Robert Gale, (fn. 56) who conveyed it in 1651 to Edmund Dunch, (fn. 57) grandson of Edmund above named. It reverted to the see in 1660, and was evidently held on successive leases by the Dunch family till 1754. (fn. 58) About 1762 the Tooveys were the tenants, (fn. 59) and in 1800 it was sold to William Toovey, with whose descendants it continued until in 1914 the Rev. William Toovey sold it to Mr. Allan L. Morphew. (fn. 60) The office of reeve of the manor continues and a court is held about every five years.

Dunch. Azure a cheveron between three castles or.

The history of SLADE END (fn. 61) (Sladend, xviii cent.) is traceable in part from 1354, when a carucate was held of the Bishop of Winchester as of his manor of Brightwell by John Stonor, (fn. 62) being a portion of the manor afterwards called Sotwell Stonor in Sotwell (q.v.), and the connexion lasted when the Sotwell manors passed to Sir Adrian Fortescue. (fn. 63) Hence this portion is sometimes described as in Sotwell, and in the 17th and 18th centuries it appears to be often distinguished as Bishops Sotwell or Sotwell Bishop.

The tenement on the site now occupied by Slade End House was held formerly by the Ford family. It is presumably the messuage with 40 acres held for a term of years by Richard Ford in 1515, (fn. 64) at the same time that John Ford obtained from Fortescue a lease of the portion in Sotwell (q.v.). Ralph Ford of Slade End died in 1633. (fn. 65) John Ford was living there about 1655. (fn. 66) He died in 1669, (fn. 67) and another John Ford in 1702, when his son of the same name was admitted as tenant, the estate being considerably augmented when a fourth John Ford succeeded his father in 1734, but much of it was alienated and all was heavily mortgaged before his death in 1773, and his son James Ford quitclaimed the last rights in 1783 to Mr. Edward Wells of Wallingford, who acquired other properties also in Slade End and conveyed them to his son Edward Wells in 1796. (fn. 68) John Wells, second son of the latter, was living here in 1797, (fn. 69) the estate having been bestowed on him, and at his death shortly afterwards it descended to his son Edward, who eventually purchased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners the manorial rights which have since passed with it. (fn. 70) After the death of Mr. Edward Wells in 1875 the estate was purchased by Mr. Edward Fairthorne of Brightwell, who left it by will to his brother's daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Jane, afterwards wife of the Rev. John William Abraham Slatter Betteridge, to whom it passed at her death in 1911. (fn. 71)

Five hides in MACKNEY formed part of Eadred's grant to Ethelgeard in 948, and before the Conquest the entire area of Mackney, together with the rest of Brightwell, belonged to the bishopric of Winchester. (fn. 72) It is not named in the Domesday Survey, being part of the bishop's manor, and his overlordship was recognized in the time of Henry III (fn. 73) and of Edward II, (fn. 74) though he quarrelled with his tenants both in 1197 and in 1292. (fn. 75) In 1350 Mackney is first called a manor. (fn. 76)

In 1196 Ralph de Mackney recovered from Thomas de Mackney his inheritance, consisting of a messuage and 6½ virgates in Mackney, and he granted to Thomas a moiety of the land, half a hide being held by Cecilia the mother of Thomas as dower, of which at her death 1 virgate was to pass to Ralph, who also retained the capital messuage, and the remainder to Thomas and his heirs. (fn. 77) Ralph's estate descended to a son and heir of the same name, (fn. 78) whose son Robert in 1253 conveyed a messuage and land in Mackney to Ralph de Naketon (fn. 79) and a meadow there called 'Buricroft' to William de Mackney to hold for five crops (fn. 80); Robert died without issue and William de Mackney was probably his nephew, son of Ralph de Mackney. (fn. 81) William appears as lord of Mackney in 1289, (fn. 82) and in 1292 he made an exchange of land here with the Bishop of Winchester. (fn. 83) William was still living in 1307, (fn. 84) but in 1320 Rowland Hastings was lord of Mackney. (fn. 85) In 1323 Ralph Restwold received from John de Fleckenho a grant of the wardship and lands of John son of William Mackney in Ladbroke (co. Warw.), (fn. 86) and in 1350 he and Edmund de Bereford settled the manor of Mackney on William de Mackney and his wife Ellen and their issue. (fn. 87) William was living in 1355, (fn. 88) but was probably dead in 1371, when Dame Helen (presumably Ellen) de Mackney demised land in Mackney to John Cokelestote and Joan his wife for her life. (fn. 89) Courts were held by William de Ryburgh, probably for this lady, from 1372 to 1378. (fn. 90) Richard Mackney was lord of the manor in 1426. (fn. 91) He was son of William and grandson of William and Ellen, and he left a son Henry, (fn. 92) who in 1430 was distrained at the manor-court of Sotwell to do fealty for his lands, (fn. 93) and afterwards was sued by his sisters, Isabel wife of John Colyngryge and Agnes wife of John Fitz Robert, because, having no children, he had agreed to sell the manor to Thomas Stonor, (fn. 94) thus depriving them of their inheritance. (fn. 95) In 1466 he is described as 'late of Makney.' (fn. 96) The manor courts of Mackney were held by a lady (possibly the widow of Richard Mackney) from 1457 until 1472. (fn. 97) Finally, in 1488 Henry de Mackney conveyed the manor to Robert Coorte, (fn. 98) or Court, who was auditor to Prince Arthur and died in 1509, (fn. 99) leaving an only daughter who married Sir Adrian Moleyns. (fn. 100) Their son William Moleyns (fn. 101) conveyed the manor in 1523 to Nicholas Hare in trust for his son Robert Moleyns, (fn. 102) who was living here in 1542, (fn. 103) and who in 1553 settled it on himself and his direct heirs with remainder to Henry the son and heir of John Moleyns. (fn. 104) Anthony, the eldest son of William Moleyns, appears to have been living here in 1564 and his brother Michael in 1577–8, (fn. 105) the latter being described as 'of Mackney.' (fn. 106) Henry Moleyns had come into possession of the manor in 1597 (fn. 107) and sold it in 1611 to William Westbury and Henry Dixon, (fn. 108) of whom it was purchased in 1614 by Robert Westbury. (fn. 109) Robert sold it in 1617 to Francis Winchcombe, (fn. 110) on whose death in 1619 it passed to his son Henry. (fn. 111) Henry was succeeded in this manor ten years later by his second son William, (fn. 112) who sold it in 1650 to Miles Flesher, (fn. 113) with whose family it remained (fn. 114) until in 1689 Elizabeth Flesher and her son James sold it to John Carpenter. (fn. 115) It belonged in 1700 to the Rev. Bardsey Fisher of Cambridge, (fn. 116) who conveyed it in 1714 to John Hawkins and Richard Webb. (fn. 117) They may have been trustees for Matthew Black, who was in possession in 1724 and 1755. (fn. 118) It came soon afterwards to the Martin family and was held about the close of the 18th century by Matthew Martin. (fn. 119) It next belonged to Charles Morrell of Wallingford, from whom it was purchased early in the 19th century by Robert Dalzell. From him it passed to his son John Thomas Robert Dalzell, who died in 1873. (fn. 120) It then passed to the Ramsay family, and the trustees of the late William Fermor Ramsay are the present owners. (fn. 121)

Moleyns of Mackney. Or a cross moline sable and a chief azure with three talbots' heads razed or therein.

An estate in Mackney known later as SHERWOODS was granted by copy of Court Roll in 1605 by Henry Moleyns to John Wing and in 1644 by William Winchcombe to Thomas Wing, son of John, who in 1669 bequeathed it to his two daughters Mary and Elizabeth. The former of these married Philip Mayne, and their son Philip in 1707 conveyed his share to the latter, who was wife of Ralph Sherwood. (fn. 122) Ralph by his will in 1711 devised the whole to his son Edward Sherwood, (fn. 123) who in 1744 bequeathed it to his daughters Elizabeth and Sarah. (fn. 124) They sold it in 1755 to William Fludger of Wallingford, (fn. 125) who in 1770 bequeathed it to his son James, and eventually it passed to his grandson Henry Fludger, whose coheirs were his sisters, Frances Jane the wife of Charles Lutyens and Elizabeth the wife of Joseph Hopkins. The former lady and her nephew Fludger Hopkins were admitted to the estate in 1835, the former alone in 1849, and her son Charles Henry Augustus Lutyens in 1851. He sold the estate in 1877 to Mr. Robert Wellington Cozens, (fn. 126) who died in 1889 and his widow in 1899, from whose executors it was purchased by their third son Mr. William Robert Cozens, the present owner.


The church of ST. AGATHA consists of a chancel about 37 ft. 6 in. by 18 ft. 10 in., with a continuous nave about 39 ft. by 19 ft., a modern organ chamber, a north aisle 41 ft. 6 in. by 14 ft. 4 in., south aisle about 42 ft. 2 in. by 10 ft. 8 in., west tower about 11 ft. square, and a north porch. These measurements are all internal.

The south arcade and the west wall of the nave are of the late 12th century, and a doorway of the same date remains in the south wall of the south aisle. A west tower was added in the early 13th century, and the north aisle is an addition of the first half of the 14th century, while the chancel and south aisle appear to have been rebuilt and widened a few years later. The present west tower dates from 1797, but the 13th-century arch opening to the tower then removed was left intact. In 1815 the roof of the nave was ceiled, and in 1858 the church was restored, when the present east window was inserted. A second restoration took place in 1884, and in 1903 the organ chamber was added.

The modern east window of the chancel is of three lights designed in the style of the late 13th century. At the north-east is a pointed 14th-century window of two cinquefoiled lights. To the east of this window is a modern aumbry, and the jambs of a blocked-up doorway can be seen on the outside face of the wall. The remaining portion of the wall is chiefly occupied by the doorway to the organ chamber and the organ opening. To the west of this, high up in the wall, is a four-centred doorway to the rood-loft, inserted late in the 15th century. At the south-east is a 14th-century two-light window similar to the corresponding window in the north wall, while at the south-west is a pointed window of two trefoiled lights with tracery and a segmental rear arch. The mullion is modern. Under the eastern window of the south wall are two sedilia with cinquefoiled heads under moulded segmental labels, in range with a trefoiled piscina having a pointed label. The hood moulds intersect, and terminate on the east and west in carved head-stops. The work is mainly of original 14th-century date, but the basin of the piscina and the heads of the sedilia have been restored. There is no chancel arch, but the 15th-century rood-beam remains and carries the wall between the roofs of the chancel and nave. The walls are faced externally with dressed rubble masonry. Built into the north wall at the east end is a small piece of an early string-course. In the north wall of the organ chamber is a pointed doorway under a 14th-century moulded label with original head-stops.

The north arcade is of three bays with pointed arches of two chamfered orders, carried by octagonal piers with moulded capitals and bases and semioctagonal responds of the same detail. The bases of the two piers and that of the west respond have been slightly restored. The south arcade is of the same number of bays, and has pointed arches of two square orders, carried by circular piers having moulded capitals with octagonal abaci and moulded bases. The clearstory windows, four on either side, are of the 15th century, and each is of two cinquefoiled lights under a square head. Crowning the clearstory walls are moulded cornices, still retaining on each side two original grotesque gargoyles, under which are 18th-century lead rain-water pipes with fine heads.

In the east wall of the north aisle, now opening into the modern organ chamber, is a fine pointed 14th-century window of three trefoiled lights with tracery in the head and moulded internal jambs. To the south, against the respond of the north arcade of the nave, is a square-headed rood doorway. In the north wall are two 14th-century pointed windows, each of two cinquefoiled lights, with geometrical tracery in the head. To the west of these is a pointed doorway continuously moulded externally with two sunk quarterrounds, and having a two-centred segmental rear arch. In the west wall is a pointed window like those in the north wall. Externally the walls are covered with roughcast, and are crowned by a stone parapet with a small cornice beneath it, on which, to the east of the north porch, is carved a grotesque head.

The east window of the south aisle, which is of original 14th-century date, is of three trefoiled lights with fine reticulated tracery under a pointed head, and a moulded rear arch. The two windows in the south wall are of the same character as the east window; each is of two trefoiled lights with tracery in a pointed head, and both have been considerably restored.

Between the two windows is a reset late 12th-century semicircular-headed doorway of two orders. The inner order is continuous, but the outer was originally carried by small shafts having carved capitals with moulded abaci and bases; the shafts and bases, however, are now missing. On the east jamb of the doorway is scratched a rude sundial. Externally on the east and south-east the walls of the aisle have been refaced with yellow Bath stone; the west end is rough-casted. The wall is crowned by a cornice on which are carved three grotesque heads. The walls of the porch are plastered, and over the entrance is an oak beam, the upper part of the porch being of half-timber construction.

The tower, which is of two stages, stands on a stone base, and is built of purple-coloured bricks with red brick quoins and dressings to the doorway and windows, and a brick parapet. The 13th-century tower arch is pointed and of two chamfered orders. The inner order is carried on plain corbels, and the outer order by responds with moulded abaci and chamfered angles. The 18th-century west doorway of the ground stage, originally round-headed with a stone keystone and springing blocks, has been 'gothicized.' The ringing stage is lighted on the north and south by small square-headed openings, and the bell-chamber by a round-headed brick opening with a stone keystone and springing blocks in each face.

Over the chancel is a steep-pitched trussed rafter roof of 14th-century date with a moulded tie-beam in the centre. The rood-beam between the roof of the chancel and nave is moulded, and is supported by slightly curved braces carried on semi-octagonal moulded corbels. The nave roof is ceiled, and that of the south aisle is modern, but over the north aisle is an original lean-to roof. All the roofs are slated except those of the vestry, north aisle, and tower, which are covered with lead.

The pulpit and font are both modern. In the north-east window of the north aisle are some fragments of 14th-century glass removed from the window in the east wall of the aisle. These include the head of a crowned female saint with the inscription 'S[ancta] Margareta' and pieces of leaf pattern in red, black, and white. Similar fragments are also preserved in the north-west window of the same aisle. There is suspended from the ceiling of the nave a very fine 18th-century brass candelabrum.

Plan of Brightwell Church

In the floor of the south aisle is a brass with the following black letter inscription: 'Hic jacet corpora (sic) m[agister]i Joh[ann]is Scolffyld | qui obiit xvo die mē maii ao dñi millmo VcVIIo cui9 aīe [pro]picietur Deus Amē.' Above the inscription is the figure of a priest in eucharistic vestments, holding a chalice and wafer. In the floor of the nave is a brass inscribed, 'Pray for the soules of Robert Court sumtyme Auditor to prynce | Artour and Jane his wyfe the whiche Robt decessyd the XXVIIJ day of | June the yere of or lord MVcIX on whose soules ihũ have mercy Amen.' Over the inscription are the brass figures of Robert and his wife, the former with his hands in prayer, wearing a gown with ermine facings and having a purse suspended from his belt. At the west end of the nave is another brass, with the figures of a man and his wife inscribed as follows: 'Pray for the sowlles of Rychard hampden and Jane his wyfe | the whych Jane decesyd the XXIIJ day of februarius the yere of our | lord MoCCCCCXII on whos' sowllis jhū have mercy AMEN.'

There is a ring of six bells: the first five are by Thomas Mears, 1808, but the tenor was recast in 1908 by Mears & Stainbank; there is also a sanctus bell, which bears no date or inscription.

The plate consists of a silver cup of 1599 inscribed, 'The Communion Cwp of the Parish of Britwell gathered and made by the payns of John Goodday William Perrey and James Leirpin June 12 1600,' a paten of 1633, a small paten of 1752 inscribed 'Brightwell Berks 1841,' and a larger paten of 1771–2.

The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1564 to 1690, burials 1615 to 1690, marriages 1615 to 1689; (ii) baptisms from 1691, burials from 1690, both to 1812, marriages 1691 to 1754; (iii) marriages 1754 to 1812.

Brightwell Church: The Nave looking West


The church of Brightwell is mentioned in the Domesday Survey. (fn. 127) In 1284 the king quitclaimed to the Bishops of Winchester all right to the advowson, (fn. 128) which remained with the Bishops of Winchester, (fn. 129) though the king occasionally presented during vacancies of the see, (fn. 130) until in 1852 it was transferred to the Bishops of Oxford from the next voidance of the see of Winchester, which took place in 1869. (fn. 131) In 1868 the chapelry of Sotwell was annexed to Brightwell, (fn. 132) and the eastern portion of Slade End in Brightwell was transferred ecclesiastically to the parish of St. Leonard in Wallingford.


The four charities following are administered together, namely:— 1. The Rev. Thomas Godwin, D.D., a former rector, founded by deed, 1642, trust fund, £559 9s. 10d. consols, arising from the sale in 1880 of the real estate belonging to the charity;

2. John Leaver, will proved at Oxford in the court of the archdeaconry of Berkshire 8 July 1713, consisting of a rent-charge of 40s. (less land tax), now paid by Mr. A. D. Wells out of Leaver's, otherwise Baker's, Farm in Sotwell;

3. Rev. Thomas Wintle, D.D., a former rector, by will, date not stated, trust fund, £165 18s. 10d. consols;

4. Mrs. Jane Field, by will, date not stated, trust fund, £134 3s. 4d. consols.

The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, and the total annual income of the charities, amounting to £23 5s., is distributed at Christmas in money doles. In 1907 there were 104 recipients.

Maundy Thursday Dole.

—From time immemorial the rector has made gifts to the poor according to what is described in the parish register as 'the custom of Brightwell.'

In 1639 Dame Elizabeth Isham, by deed, charged certain lands at Sandford, in the county of Oxford, with 20s. a year, to be divided equally among four poor widows upon 1 August (Lammas Day), now paid by Messrs. Benfield & Loxley of Cowley, builders.

In 1676 the Rev. Michael Woodward, D.D., Warden of New College, Oxford, by will proved in the P.C.C. 9 July charged his lands in Brightwell with £5 a year, to be applied in apprenticing. The annuity is received from New College, the owners of Smalls Farm, and applied in premiums usually amounting to £15.

In 1726 Frances Riggins, by will left £100 to be invested in land, the income to be applied for the benefit of the poor of Slade End in bread and schooling. The legacy was never invested in land, but is represented by £210 consols with the official trustees, one moiety of which is held in trust for the bread charity and the other moiety for the educational charity, the annual sum of £2 12s. 4d. being applicable for each purpose. The bread is duly distributed, and the income of the educational charity is accumulating until sufficient to send a boy or girl to Wallingford Grammar School.

The Fairthorne Scholarships.

—In 1882 Edward Fairthorne by deed declared the trusts of a sum of £700 Great Eastern Railway 4 per cent. stock, the dividends, amounting to £28 a year, to be applied in creating two scholarships, not exceeding £14 a year each, for boys resident in Brightwell or Sotwell who had been educated at a public elementary school in Brightwell, to enable them to carry on their education at some place of higher education or by apprenticeship to some skilled trade or profession. The stock is held by the official trustees.

In 1908 there were three holders of these scholarships at the Wallingford Grammar School.

The Stewart village club, erected on land conveyed by deed 1 December 1879 by the said Edward Fairthorne, is used as a club-room for the parishes of Brightwell and Sotwell, and is supported by voluntary contributions.

The recreation ground consists of 5 acres in Sotwell conveyed by deed 8 October 1897 by the said Edward Fairthorne in consideration of £100 raised in commemoration of the sixtieth year of the reign of Queen Victoria.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Local and Pers. Act, 51 Geo. III, cap. 83; Blue Bk. Incl. Awards, 6.
  • 3. Cal. Pat. 1313–17, p. 409; Anct. D. (P.R.O.), C 1856.
  • 4. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xvi, 120.
  • 5. Liber de Hyda (Rolls Ser.), 171; J. E. Field, 'The Saxon Charters of Brightwell,' Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xii, 8–10. See below.
  • 6. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xvi, 120.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. V.C.H. Berks. i, 269. It passed within living memory between the church and the rectory.
  • 9. Cooper King (Hist. of Berks. 90) and others wrongly place it 'on the heights.'
  • 10. Matt. Paris, Chron. Maj. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 191.
  • 11. Lysons, Mag. Brit. (ed. 1806), i, 250.
  • 12. Skeat, Berks. Place-names, 104.
  • 13. V.C.H. Berks. i, 335.
  • 14. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xii, 9. There was apparently a church here in 948 (ibid. 51; cf. Kemble, Cod. Dipl. v, 315).
  • 15. Leland, Itin. ii, 12.
  • 16. Hedges, Short Hist. of Wallingford, 162.
  • 17. V.C.H. Berks. i, 269.
  • 18. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xvi, 120; xvii, 22.
  • 19. Ibid. xii, 84.
  • 20. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), i, 135.
  • 21. Kemble, Cod. Dipl. v, 302; Birch, Cart. Sax. iii, 6. See below.
  • 22. Ct. R. of North Moreton penes Lord Aldenham.
  • 23. 'Of Maccaniges forda andlang stræte ut on Temese' (Liber de Hyda [Rolls Ser.], 171; Birch, Cart. Sax. iii, 184).
  • 24. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xi, 112.
  • 25. 'Brycwege,' Liber de Hyda (Rolls Ser.), 171.
  • 26. V.C.H. Berks. i, 279.
  • 27. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), i, 135; Kemble, Cod. Dipl. v, 302; Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 568; Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xii, 85.
  • 28. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xvi, 120.
  • 29. Ibid. xii, 11, 12.
  • 30. Ibid. 8.
  • 31. Ibid. 10.
  • 32. Ibid. 9.
  • 33. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xvi, 120.
  • 34. Ibid. xvii, 89.
  • 35. Ibid. 88, from Oxf. Archd. Papers (Bodl. Library), Berks. C 107, fol. 2.
  • 36. Lewis, Topog. Dict.
  • 37. Reg. of Exeter Coll. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), 12.
  • 38. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 39. Ibid. John Gauden, Bishop of Exeter and reputed author of 'Eikon Basilike,' has been claimed as rector, but incorrectly (ibid.).
  • 40. Ibid.
  • 41. Ibid.
  • 42. Ibid.
  • 43. Lysons, Mag. Brit. (ed. 1806), i, 250.
  • 44. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xii, 49.
  • 45. Add. MS. (B.M.), 15350.
  • 46. Kemble, Cod. Dipl. v, 314, 315; Birch, Cart. Sax. iii, 5, 6; Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xi, 108; xii, 49.
  • 47. Liber de Hyda (Rolls Ser.), 170–3; Birch, Cart. Sax. iii, 183–5; Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xi, 111; xii, 7–9. In Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 125, 'a certain Wulward' is said to have granted Brightwell to the Bishop of Winchester.
  • 48. Add. MS. (B.M.), 15350; Kemble, Cod. Dipl. v, 301; Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 567.
  • 49. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xi, 111; xii, 82.
  • 50. V.C.H. Berks. i, 325, 335.
  • 51. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 16.
  • 52. Feud. Aids, i, 52.
  • 53. Close, 24 Chas. I, pt. i, no. 13.
  • 54. He was active against the recusants (Cal. S. P. Dom. 1581–90, p. 457).
  • 55. Reg. of baptisms.
  • 56. Close, 24 Chas. I, pt. i, no. 13.
  • 57. Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 1651.
  • 58. Eccl. Com. Rec.; Feet of F. Berks. East. 27 Geo. II.
  • 59. Note Bk. in possession of the reeve.
  • 60. a Eccl. Com. Rec.
  • 61. The name first occurs in 1592 (Reg. of baptisms).
  • 62. Chan. Inq. p.m. 28 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 56.
  • 63. Sir Adrian purchased 'padlocks for the barns at Brightwell' in 1534 (L. and P. Hen. VIII, vii, 243).
  • 64. Leadam, Dom. of Incl. (Royal Hist. Soc.), i, 107. Wills of two Richard Fords were proved in 1529 and 1555, and of John Ford in or about 1560, all of Brightwell (Berks. Wills [Oxf. Hist. Soc.], 65).
  • 65. Berks. Wills, loc. cit.
  • 66. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xvii, 88.
  • 67. Parish reg. of burials. A weathervane on the dovecote and granary of this period recently bore the initials J. F. A note-book of the 17th century written by John Ford and relating to the estate passed with it into the possession of the Wells family, but is lost.
  • 68. Deeds in possession of Mr. A. D. Wells.
  • 69. Ibid.
  • 70. Inform. from Mr. A. D. Wells.
  • 71. Local inform.
  • 72. Vide supra.
  • 73. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 110, 123.
  • 74. Feud. Aids, i, 52.
  • 75. Fines, 1197–8 (Pipe R. Soc.), 220; De Banco R. 92, m. 48.
  • 76. Feet of F. Berks. 24 Edw. III, no. 6. cf. also Eccl. Com. Rec. Winchester; Mins. Accts. passim. The Court Rolls from 1372 to 1379 are in the Record Office, besides several of the 15th century.
  • 77. Fines, 1196–7 (Pipe R. Soc.), 43.
  • 78. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 110, 123; De Banco R. 92, m. 48.
  • 79. Feet of F. Berks. 37 Hen. III, no. 8.
  • 80. Cat. Anct. D. ii, 466.
  • 81. De Banco R. 92, m. 48.
  • 82. Cat. Anct. D. i, 407.
  • 83. De Banco R. 92, m. 48; Add. Chart. 28663.
  • 84. Feet of F. Berks. 35 Edw. I, no. 18.
  • 85. Anct. D. (P.R.O.), C 1856.
  • 86. Ibid. A 7050.
  • 87. Feet of F. Berks. 24 Edw. III, no. 6; Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 40, no. 87.
  • 88. Anct. D. (P.R.O.), C 2968.
  • 89. Ibid. C 91.
  • 90. Ct. R. (Gen. Ser.), portf. 154, no. 39.
  • 91. Ibid. no. 40.
  • 92. Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 40, no. 87.
  • 93. Ct. R. (Gen. Ser.), portf. 154, no. 62. No lord is named in the next court roll of Mackney in 1455 (ibid. no. 41).
  • 94. He was of Sotwell (q.v.).
  • 95. Early Chan. Proc. loc. cit.
  • 96. Cal. Pat. 1461–7, p. 502.
  • 97. Ct. R. (Gen. Ser.), portf. 154, no. 41.
  • 98. Feet of F. Berks. case 13, file 88, no. 4; Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 339, no. 93, 98; De Banco R. Chart. Enr. Trin. 4 Hen. VII, m. 21; Mich. 10 Hen. VII, m. 1.
  • 99. M. I. in Brightwell Church.
  • 100. Lysons, Mag. Brit. i, 402.
  • 101. Visit. of Berks. (Harl. Soc.), i, 112.
  • 102. Feet of F. Berks. East. 15 Hen. VIII
  • 103. Leland, Itin. ii, 12.
  • 104. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 1 Mary.
  • 105. They had daughters baptized at Brightwell in these years (Parish Reg.).
  • 106. Visit. of Berks. loc. cit.
  • 107. Recov. R. East. 39 Eliz. m. 10.
  • 108. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 9 Jas. I.
  • 109. Ibid. Hil. 11 Jas. I.
  • 110. Ibid. Trin. 15 Jas. I.
  • 111. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccclxxviii, 129.
  • 112. Ibid. ccccxlviii, 115.
  • 113. Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 1650.
  • 114. Ibid. Trin. 20 Chas. II.
  • 115. Ibid. Trin. 1 Will. and Mary.
  • 116. Ibid. Div. Co. Mich. 12 Will. III; Hearne, Coll. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), v, 380.
  • 117. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 13 Anne.
  • 118. Ibid. Trin. 10 Geo. I; Recov. R. East. 28 Geo. II, m. 404.
  • 119. 'It had been a considerable time' in his family (Lysons, Mag. Brit. [ed. 1806], i, 250).
  • 120. Inform. from the late Miss C. M. L. Dalzell.
  • 121. Local inform.
  • 122. Deeds penes Mr. W. R. Cozens.
  • 123. Will, Berks. Archd. Reg. 20, fol. 59.
  • 124. Ibid. Reg. 24, fol. 72.
  • 125. Recov. R. D. Enr. Hil. 29 Geo. II, m. 38; Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 29 Geo. II
  • 126. Deeds penes Mr. Cozens.
  • 127. V.C.H. Berks. i, 335.
  • 128. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, p. 274.
  • 129. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 130. Ibid.; Cal. Pat. 1301–7, p. 304; 1313–17, p. 540; 1317–21, pp. 398, 402, 411; 1330–4, p. 516.
  • 131. Oxf. Dioc. Reg.
  • 132. Ibid.; Parl. Papers, 1870, liv, no. 433, p. 92.