The borough of Wallingford: Churches and charities

Pages 539-546

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

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Wallingford seems at one time, perhaps in the 12th century and possibly even later in the 13th century, to have contained fourteen or fifteen churches or chapels. (fn. 1) Of these, ten or eleven were parish churches, three were chapels belonging to religious foundations and one was a bridge chapel.

The church of ST. MARY consists of a chancel measuring internally 25 ft. 4 in. by 16 ft., a north chapel, south organ chamber, nave 58 ft. 11 in. by 22 ft. 2 in., north aisle 53 ft. 2 in. by 14 ft. 10 in., south aisle 53 ft. 11 in. by 14 ft. 11½ in., west tower 17 ft. 9 in. by 14 ft. 6 in. and a north porch.

With the exception of the walls of the chancel and the west tower, the church was completely rebuilt in 1854. In its original state it consisted of a nave with aisles and western tower of the 13th and 14th centuries and a chancel of later date. (fn. 2) The present nave is longer than its predecessor, the chancel having been shortened on the west. The former arcades, which were each of two bays only, have been replaced by arcades of three narrower bays and the aisles have been considerably widened. The north chapel was erected in 1910 in place of a small vestry of 1854. The tower is in two stages with octagonal pinnacled turrets at the angles, a semicircular stair-turret upon the south wall terminating in a conical roof below the belfry, and an embattled parapet. The earliest work now apparent is the tower arch, which dates from the early 14th century. To this date or earlier may belong the walls of the lower portion. The upper portion was rebuilt in 1653 with stones, as is commonly believed, from the castle of Wallingford. Twelfth-century tooling is clearly visible on many of the internal jambs of the windows. To the rebuilding of 1653 must be attributed the whole facing of the tower, the octagonal turrets surmounted by pinnacles at its four angles, and all the windows, with the possible exception of the west windows of the ground stage, which are probably Elizabethan. The tower arch is two-centred and of three chamfered orders, with responds of two orders only. The two 16th-century windows in the west wall of the ground stage give light below and above the west gallery contained within the tower. The upper has a fourcentred head and is of three lights, the centre light trefoiled, and the side lights uncusped. The lower window is of two pointed uncusped lights. Both have external labels. Externally, in the south-west angle turret, is a stone inscribed in Roman capitals 'WILL. LOADER 1653.' The ringing chamber is lighted by two small square-headed lights in the north and south walls respectively. In this portion and in the belfry above are many 12th-century stones, brought here probably from Wallingford Castle. The belfry is lighted on all four sides by square-headed windows of two pointed uncusped lights. The bell-frame is partly composed of moulded timber, perhaps the wall-plate of a 15th-century roof. Built into the interior of the south wall of the belfry is a fragment of 15th-century window tracery. The octagonal crocketed pinnacles at the four angles of the tower are surmounted by crowns, placed there, perhaps, to commemorate the restoration of Charles II.

The pulpit is of marble with bronze bas-relief panels by the late Onslow Ford. It was erected in 1888 in memory of William Reginald Lybbe Powys Lybbe. The only monuments earlier than the 18th century which have survived the rebuilding are those of Henry Stampe (d. 1619), 'son of Isabel the daughter of Sir Michael Molyns, Knight, of Clapcote,' and of Walter Bigg (d. 1659), alderman of London, and a benefactor to the town. These are now placed on the walls of the tower.

There is a ring of eight bells cast (with the exception of the second, which was cast by Mears & Stainbank in the year 1887) by Phelps & Lester of London in the year 1738.

The communion plate consists of a silver-gilt chalice and paten bearing the date letter of the year 1888, and a paten bearing the date letter of the year 1833, presented by the then rector, the Rev. John Langley.

The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1653 to 1711, but the burials between 1678 and 1711 are missing; (ii) 1711 to 1796, the marriages stopping at 1753; (iii) marriages 1754 to 1779; (iv) baptisms and burials 1796 to 1812; (v) marriages 1779 to 1812.

The church of ST. PETER, which was entirely rebuilt in 1769 in the Renaissance style, consists of an aisleless nave measuring internally 54 ft. by 26 ft. 2 in. with a modern apsidal chancel and organ chamber and a west tower with a stone spire.

The present nave and tower were erected in 1769, but the spire was not added until eight years later; in 1904 the present chancel and organ chamber were built. The walls of the chancel and apse are of red brick, faced on the outside with stone. In both the north and south walls of the nave, which has a coffered wagon ceiling, are four round-headed windows having flat external architraves with projecting keystones, springing blocks, and sills, and in the west wall is a square-headed double doorway with a moulded oak architrave, opening into the tower. The walls are faced with ashlar and have rusticated quoins and a small moulded cornice and stone parapet. The tower is faced with flint with rusticated stone quoins, and is divided horizontally into three stages by flat projecting stone bands. In the west wall is a round-headed doorway with moulded angles to the jambs and square springing blocks. Lighting the second stage, above the doorway, is a window of three pointed lights within a semicircular head, the archivolt of which terminates in a trefoil. This window was inserted at the time of the erection of the spire, and above it is a stone plate with an incised inscription stating the dates of the rebuilding of the church and the addition of the spire. On the south, east and west sides are clock faces. The spire, designed by Sir Robert Taylor, is particularly interesting as an essay in the Gothic 'taste' of the Batty Langley school. The upper part of the square tower has a groined vault carrying an octagonal arcade of pointed cinquefoiled arches having shafted jambs with carved capitals and moulded bases, from within which rises the octagonal spire. Above the arcade the spire is divided, by flat projecting bands ornamented on each side with sunk quatrefoils, into four stages, which are pierced on each face with elongated openings having trefoiled ends. At the top of the spire is a small moulded cornice, from which rises an ornamental weather-vane. From the original design, now in the possession of the rector, it appears that the intention then was to have pinnacles placed at the four angles of the tower at the base of the octagonal arcade.

The pulpit is formed from the upper part of an original 'four-decker' cut down; the font is modern.

In the floor of the nave is the slab over the vault of Sir William Blackstone, who died in 1780 and was buried under the church. There is also a monument to him in the outer face of the south wall.

There is one bell by Pack & Chapman, dated 1776, hung within the octagonal arcade. In an extract from Sir Robert Taylor's report he states the desirability of not having a peal unless hung on framing quite independent of the structure of the tower.

The plate consists of a chalice, a paten and an almsdish, all stamped with the date mark of 1777 and bearing an inscription stating that they were given by Sir William Blackstone in 1778, and a plated flagon given by the Rev. John Gregson in 1852.

The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms and burials 1711 to 1812, marriages 1769 to 1812.

The church of ST. LEONARD consists of a chancel 18 ft. 8 in. by 15 ft. 8 in., with a semicircular apse of 14 ft. 9 in. diameter, a nave 41 ft. 6 in. by 18 ft. 4 in., although the west end is only 18 ft. wide through the north wall breaking inwards, and a modern south aisle and west tower. These measurements are all internal.

The church was built late in the 11th century, and the walls of the chancel and nave are of that date. During the Civil War it was badly damaged, and the apse and south aisle are said to have been destroyed by fire, and after remaining in a dilapidated state for several years it was restored and reopened in 1704. In 1850 the structure was again restored and the apse rebuilt on the old foundations, parts of which can be seen below the new walls; the south aisle was rebuilt at the same time and the tower added.

The apse is lighted by three round-headed windows placed high up in the wall between flat buttresses. The walls are built of coursed rubble masonry with ashlar facings, and are plastered inside and decorated with paintings. Between the apse and the chancel is a semicircular arched opening of two orders, which has been very much restored; most of the original stones are considerably calcined. On the apse side the arch is quite plain, but the western faces of both the orders are enriched with diaper work and between them is a large roll. The jambs are of the same section and have carved capitals with moulded abaci and cushion bases of a peculiar type. The abaci are modern and the capital to the north respond has been restored and only a few of the stones of the jambs, which are diapered in a similar manner to the arch, are original. Supporting the roll between the orders on the west face of the arch are modern detached shafts.

The chancel is lighted by two modern lancets in the north wall, while in the south wall are three lancets, all placed at different levels. The easternmost is very small and has been inserted in the jambs of a much larger window, and the centre light, which is placed very high in the wall, is modern. The chancel arch has been considerably restored and is of the same section as that opening into the apse. The inner order is enriched on both sides with a scroll ornament, and the outer order with a plaited enrichment on the side towards the nave only. The jambs show considerable marks of fire and have been much restored, the angle shafts being modern; they are also similar in section to the jambs of the arch to the apse and have peculiarly moulded bases enriched on both sides with diaper work. The cushion capitals are enriched with a plait ornament similar to that round the outer order and have enriched abaci, but of the abacus to the north capital only a small piece at the west angle is original. The walling of the chancel is built of flint rubble plastered on the inside. At the west end of the north wall appear to be indications of the door to the rood-loft, and about 7 ft. above the floor level on the west face of the north respond of the chancel arch, a cavity probably covers the other rood doorway. On the outside below the easternmost window in the south wall is a blocked-up triangular-headed opening and below the middle lancet can be seen the jambs and sill of an early original light. To the east of the next window, at the same height, is a blocked-up round-headed opening.

At the east end of the north wall of the nave is a modern coupled lancet window. Further west is a small lancet with rebates for an external shutter and a semicircular rear arch, and to the west again is a second modern window like that at the east end of the wall. At the north-west is a modern round-headed doorway, with shafts in the outside angles, said to have been copied from an original doorway. The modern south arcade is of three bays designed in the Norman style and over the arcade are three modern trefoil windows. Over the west end of the nave is a gallery. The walls are built of flint rubble and plastered on the inside. In the upper part of the north wall is some herringbone work; above the west jamb of the middle lancet can be seen the jambs of a blocked-up window, and in the wall to the west of the doorway are the jambs of a wider window. The aisle is lighted from the east and west by three-light windows and from the south by three single lancets. The walls are of coarse rubble with ashlar dressings similar to the wall of the apse.

The tower is built in the Norman style and is in three stages surmounted by a hipped tiled roof; the tower arch is modern. The walls are built of the same material as the walls of the aisle. In the south-east angle is an external stair-turret.

The chancel roof is in two bays with a central truss having a tie-beam and a collar supported by arched braces, while between the principals supporting the purlins are wind-braces. The roof to the nave is modern. All the roofs are covered with tiles.

In the apse are three 17th-century chairs, presented in 1850; two of these have the usual high backs, but the back of the third is lower and the chair has arms.

In the tower is one modern bell.

The plate consists of two chalices of 1805, a paten and flagon, both of 1812, and a modern paten and chalice.

The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms and burials 1711 to 1762, marriages 1711 to 1753; (ii) baptisms and burials 1763 to 1812; (iii) marriages 1703 to 1804; (iv) marriages 1804 to 1812.


The advowson of the church of St. Mary-the-More belonged from an early date to the abbey of St. Albans. Between 1077 and 1093 Niel Daubeney and his wife Amice gave half the church of St. Mary in Wallingford to the abbey. (fn. 3) Later the abbey evidently acquired the rest of the church, and it, with the churches of St. John and St. Martin in Wallingford, was granted before 1160 to the priory of Holy Trinity, a cell to St. Albans, (fn. 4) which was confirmed to that abbey by Richard I in 1198 (fn. 5) and by Edward I in 1301. (fn. 6)

The priory held the church until the Dissolution. In 1291 the spiritualities were valued at £4 6s. 8d., with a yearly payment of 13s. 4d. to the Prior of Wallingford. (fn. 7) In 1428 the tithes were valued at 6 marks yearly, (fn. 8) and the church was worth £3 12s. 3d. in 1535. (fn. 9)

There is a reference to sanctuary in St. Mary's Church in 1527, a thief accused of murder and housebreaking and of stealing a white cap from a 'coffin' taking refuge there. (fn. 10)

At the dissolution of the priory of Holy Trinity in 1526 the church of St. Mary-the-More passed to the Crown. It was granted to Wolsey for his college at Oxford in 1528, but on Wolsey's attainder it again reverted to the Crown, (fn. 11) with which the advowson remained until 1853, when the patronage was transferred to the Bishop of Oxford, (fn. 12) the incumbents being rectors.

A severe thunderstorm did much damage to St. Mary's in 1638. The church was described as 'rent from topp to bottom,' and briefs for collecting money to repair it were issued. (fn. 13) The town suffered so heavily during the Civil War that St. Mary's— often at this date called St. Mary Major—was for a time the only church that remained in which service was performed but in 1653 this church had to be extensively repaired. The tithes of St. Leonard's, St. Peter's, and All Hallows were annexed to Sotwell. (fn. 14) Before the end of the century St. Leonard's was again in use but St. Peter's remained in ruin till later. (fn. 15) The corporation petitioned in 1693 for the permanent union of the tithes of the three parishes, those of St. Leonard's with Sotwell being valued at £50 yearly, those of St. Mary's at £5, and of St. Peter's at £11 yearly, but their petition was not successful. (fn. 16)

The parish of St. Mary now includes the former parishes of St. Martin, and of Holy Trinity with St. Peter-in-the-West.

The church of St. Peter, near the bridge, appears to have been built on a tumulus overlooking the ford. It may, perhaps, have been founded by Robert Doyley shortly after the Norman Conquest. (fn. 17) The advowson followed the descent of the castle until the 15th century. (fn. 18) In 1272 the church was valued at 40s. yearly, in 1291 at £4 6s. 8d., and in 1428 at 6 marks. (fn. 19) The churches of St. Mary the Less and of St. Michael were annexed to St. Peter's in 1374. (fn. 20) The value of St. Peter's in 1535 was £6 0s. 8d. (fn. 21) Edmund Rede, lord of the manor of Rush, who died in 1489, held the advowson of St. Peter's, (fn. 22) though it is not known how he acquired it. From him it passed with Rush Manor (q.v.) to the Dynham family. (fn. 23) In 1579 the queen gave licence to John Dynham, with his wife Katherine and George Dynham, to alienate the advowson to William Dunch, who seems to have disposed of it shortly afterwards, (fn. 24) and in 1597 the advowson was being dealt with by Thomas Brickenden, clerk, and his wife Bridget. (fn. 25) In 1624 and 1633 John Gregory of Wallingford was patron, and the advowson remained for a time in his family. (fn. 26) It was the subject of family settlements in 1631 and 1636, being conveyed to John Gregory's son of the same name, together with his wife Margaret. (fn. 27) In 1669 John Gregory granted the right of presentation to Henry Cross, who conveyed it to John Rusden in the following year. (fn. 28) This seems to have been a grant for one turn only, for in 1679 Edward Gregory made the presentation. (fn. 29) In the 18th century the advowson was said to belong to 'the landlord of the houses on the south side of the churchyard'; and the patrons in 1722 were John Clayton and his wife Mary, Joseph Bromley and his wife Hannah and Jonathan Bromley and his wife Elizabeth; possibly Mary, Hannah and Elizabeth were co-heirs. (fn. 30) In 1743 Thomas Tower presented. (fn. 31) The church, which had been almost destroyed in the Civil War, remained in a ruinous state for a long time, the parish being annexed to that of Sotwell. (fn. 32) The rebuilding was begun in 1760. (fn. 33) In 1760 Robert Needham presented. (fn. 34) Before 1768 the advowson was acquired by William Blackstone, afterwards Mr. Justice Blackstone, who made the presentation in that year. (fn. 35) He contributed largely to rebuilding the church, which was opened in 1769. (fn. 36) The advowson passed on his death in 1780 to his son Henry, who presented in 1788 and 1806. (fn. 37) He died childless in 1826, and was followed by his brother James, who died in 1831. The latter's son William Seymour Blackstone then became patron. (fn. 38) On his death the family became extinct, and the advowson was bought about 1860 by the Bishop of Oxford, being annexed by him to the see. (fn. 39)

The church of St. Leonard was granted by Henry I to the monastery of St. Frideswide (fn. 40) at Oxford, with which it remained until the Dissolution, (fn. 41) when it passed to the Crown. In 1428 it was reported that there were not more than ten householders in the parish, (fn. 42) but in 1535 the church with the chapel of Sotwell was worth £7 12s. 6d. (fn. 43) The rector obtained licence to be non-resident in 1537–8. (fn. 44) St. Leonard's suffered severely during the siege. The church was used as a barrack, and the guns of the castle and the besiegers left it almost in ruins. Between 1656 and 1679 the parish was united with St. Mary's, but from 1679 onwards it was separated, presentations to the living being made by the Crown. (fn. 45) The church was repaired to some extent in 1685, and again in 1695 and 1700. A complete restoration took place soon after, and the church was reopened for service in 1704. (fn. 46) From 1721 to 1757, and from 1811 to 1873, the living was held with that of St. Mary. (fn. 47) In 1855 the patronage was transferred to the Bishop of Oxford. (fn. 48) In 1868 the chapel of Sotwell, (fn. 49) annexed to St. Leonard's, was included in the parish of Brightwell.

The parish of St. Lucian was opposite the corn market, (fn. 50) extending up to the mill ditch and between the mill ditch and Winterbrook. (fn. 51) The church was granted by Henry I to the priory of St. Frideswide at Oxford. (fn. 52) By 1291 it had been united with St. Leonard's Church, (fn. 53) which also belonged to the priory. A charter of Adrian IV (1154–9) confirmed the grant of the two churches with the chapel of Sotwell to the priory. (fn. 54) The church is not mentioned after the 14th century and the parish was merged in St. Leonard's. (fn. 55)

The church of St. Ruald, or St. Rumbold, stood in or near Goldsmiths' Lane, (fn. 56) and part of the parish which it served lay outside the south gate of the town. (fn. 57) Very little is known of the church. In 1295 two thieves took sanctuary in St. Ruald's, (fn. 58) and in 1300 an anchoress of this church obtained a grant of land adjoining the churchyard. (fn. 59) Records of presentations to the living between 1306 and 1352 have been found, (fn. 60) but no mention is found of the church after the latter date, and the parish seems to have been united with St. Leonard's in the 14th century.

The church of All Hallows, (fn. 61) or All Saints, stood in Castle Street near the western gate of the castle. The parish extended outside the boundary of the borough and included the hamlet of Clapcot. The church seems to have been granted by Miles Crispin before 1101 to the chapel of St. Nicholas within the castle, (fn. 62) and it remained a prebend of that chapel. In 1200 King John confirmed to Thomas de Brancastre, clerk, the prebend formerly held by Master Gerald in the king's chapel at Wallingford, that is the church of All Saints of Wallingford. (fn. 63) Presentations to this prebend were made by the Crown in this reign, (fn. 64) and until the 14th century the advowson followed the descent of the honour and castle (q.v.). Thus at the death of Richard, King of the Romans, in 1272 the church of All Saints, valued at 100s., was included in the list of his possessions, (fn. 65) and it was held by the Crown or by the grantees of the castle and honour (fn. 66) until January 1388–9, when Richard II granted the advowson to the Dean and Chapter of the college of St. Nicholas within the castle. (fn. 67) No vicarage was instituted, the church being served by the priests of the college of St. Nicholas. In 1428 there were not ten inhabitants in the part of the parish within the borough. (fn. 68) It has often been said that the college of St. Nicholas was granted to Cardinal Wolsey. In 1563 it was stated that the rectory of All Saints, which belonged to the college, had been owned by Cardinal Wolsey, and after him by Cardinal Pole. (fn. 69) No record of such a grant or other evidence of possession by Wolsey has been found. In any event the tithes passed to the Crown, either on the fall of Wolsey or on the dissolution of St. Nicholas. At the date of the dissolution of the college of St. Nicholas by Edward VI a yearly stipend of 40s. was paid to one of the six priests of the college for serving All Hallows Church. (fn. 70) The commissioners reported to the king the necessity for endowing a vicarage for All Hallows or of uniting the church to St. Mary's, there being sixty 'howsling people in All Hallows, since by impropriacion the Deane was both parson and Vicar.' This seems to show that the tithes of All Hallows had not been granted to Wolsey, though they are not specifically mentioned in the valuations of the college in 1535 and 1549. (fn. 71) The recommendations of the commissioners were not adopted. No vicarage was instituted, and the church was no longer served. The church was destroyed during the siege, but the graveyard remained in use until 1859.

In 1564 the tithes of Clapcot within the parish of All Saints were granted to Thomas Reve, William Ryvet and William Hitchins. (fn. 72) Tithes described as the rectory and tithes of All Saints', including two parsonage barns with a garden adjoining, with the tenement known as the Swan, near Shillingford Bridge, with all tithes, both great and small, were granted by James I in 1608 to Richard Lydall and Edmund Bostocke, their heirs and assigns. (fn. 73) It is not certain whether this grant included the Clapcot tithes previously granted to Reve, Ryvet and Hitchins, and there is another difficulty in the fact that the origin of the ownership by the Dean and Chapter of St. George's College, Windsor, of a portion of the tithes of All Hallows has not been found. (fn. 74) The tithes are next found in the hands of Thomas Freeman, his wife Frances, and David Benett, by whom they were conveyed in 1618 to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Sir John Bennett, kt. (fn. 75) This conveyance was connected with the foundation of Pembroke College, Oxford, the tithes having evidently been bought with money bequeathed for the foundation of the college, and in 1626 the archbishop and Sir John Bennett granted the rectory of All Saints to the Master, Fellows and scholars of Pembroke College, Oxford, for ever. (fn. 76) The greater part of the tithes have remained with Pembroke College until the present day, being commuted for a tithe-rent charge of £284 10s. in 1840. (fn. 77) At the same date the Dean and Canons of Windsor owned a tithe-rent charge of £45 10s. In 1872 Pembroke College was approached on behalf of the parish of All Hallows, which asked for an appropriation of a portion of the tithes to the spiritual needs of the parish, which was entirely dependent upon the voluntary services of the rector of St. Mary's. As a result the college granted a tithe-rent charge of £30 5s. 6d., the parish of All Hallows being formally united with St. Mary's. (fn. 78)

The church of Holy Trinity stood near the west gate of the town, and seems to have been founded by Robert Doyley. (fn. 79) It was granted by Geoffrey the Chamberlain to the abbey of St. Albans between 1077 and 1093. A cell of the abbey of St. Albans was established here, and Holy Trinity became the conventual church of the priory of that name (fn. 80) (q.v.). Part of the church remained parochial. (fn. 81) The priory retained Holy Trinity and other Wallingford churches until its surrender in 1525. In 1528 it was granted to Cardinal Wolsey to be settled on his proposed college at Oxford. (fn. 82) On his attainder the advowson of Holy Trinity passed with the other possessions of the dissolved priory to the Crown, (fn. 83) and was granted in 1546 to John Norreys in exchange for lands in Windsor and elsewhere. (fn. 84) He conveyed the whole estate to Christopher Avelyn and his wife Joyce in 1553. (fn. 85) After the Dissolution the church was disused and the parish was merged in that of St. Mary.

St. Michael's Church stood in the southern part of Thames Street, near St. Peter's rectory. (fn. 86) It is mentioned in 1217, when it was in the king's gift, (fn. 87) and the patronage remained with the Crown and the grantees of the honour of Wallingford until 1374, (fn. 88) when, the church being already ruinous, (fn. 89) it was annexed to that of St. Peter. (fn. 90)

The church of St. Mary, which stood on the east side of Fish Street, afterwards called St. Mary's Street, (fn. 91) was known as St. Mary Minor in 1291, (fn. 92) and references to stalls in the churchyard are found in the 13th-century corporation records. (fn. 93) The parish was united with St. Peter's in 1374, the nave being then roofless and the church falling into ruin. (fn. 94) The tenure of a piece of ground 'que nuper fuit cimiterium vocati Sancte Maries the Lesse' is mentioned in 1550. (fn. 95)

The churches of St. John-super-Aquam and St. Martin belonged to the priory of Holy Trinity, Wallingford. (fn. 96)

The church of St. John-upon-the-water was in Thames Street, near the river. It belonged to the priory of Holy Trinity from 1160 (fn. 97) to about 1419, when it was united with St. Mary's. (fn. 98) In 1419 the parish of St. Mary the Great, lately the parish of St. John the Baptist on the water, is mentioned. (fn. 99) An orchard called St. Johns-super-Aquam stretching from Thames Street to the river is referred to in 1550 and 1764. (fn. 100)

The church of St. Martin stood in St. Martin's Street. Its position, close to the point where the main streets cross in the centre of the town, and its invocation suggest that it was founded at an early date, (fn. 101) and it has been identified by Rev. J.E. Field with the church in Wallingford held in 1086 (fn. 102) by Roger the priest of the Bishop of Salisbury's manor of Sonning. It was confirmed to the priory of Holy Trinity by the Bishop of Salisbury in 1160. In 1291 it was returned as untithable, and was valued at 5s. (fn. 103) The chaplain lived in a house in the churchyard about this period. (fn. 104) No record of any presentation later than 1386 has been found, (fn. 105) and the church probably fell into disuse soon afterwards.

In addition to these ten parish churches Wallingford contained three chapels belonging to religious foundations and two other chapels. The history of the collegiate chapel of St. Nicholas in Wallingford Castle, founded in the 11th century and dissolved in 1549, of the hospital of St. John the Baptist, situated in Chalmore outside the south gate, which was founded in the 13th century, and of the leper hospital of St. Mary Magdalene, which stood at the east end of the bridge in the parish of Newnham, has already been given. (fn. 106)

The chapel of St. Mary Grace stood at the west end of the bridge, apparently upon an island, called the 'chapel eyot,' formed by the outflow of the mill stream. (fn. 107) The chapel seems to have been dependent on the chapel of St. Nicholas. The wardens of the chapel are often mentioned in the town records, (fn. 108) and money for masses to be said in the chapel was bequeathed by the townspeople. (fn. 109) The chapel was destroyed during the siege of Wallingford in 1645. (fn. 110)

The church of St. Peter-in-the-West stood in the Kinecroft, near the west gate of the town. (fn. 111) It was probably never a parish church. No record of an incumbent has been found, and it may possibly have been only a gate chapel. (fn. 112). It cannot have been of much importance, for it is not mentioned in Pope Nicholas's Taxation. No record of it is found after the 13th century. (fn. 113)

An old chapel opposite to the south side of St. Peter's Church was used as a Dissenting meetinghouse in the 18th century. (fn. 114) The Baptist chapel with graveyard in Thames Street was founded in 1794; it has registers of births 1794 to 1837, and of burials 1796 to 1837. (fn. 115) The Primitive Methodist chapel, formerly near the Kinecroft, on the south-east, was rebuilt in 1888 in St. Mary's Street. It has a register of births and baptisms 1833 to 1837. (fn. 116) Jireh Chapel, belonging to the Particular Baptists, is in Wood Street. The Wesleyan chapel in St. Leonard's Square was built in 1870. A chapel at the northeast corner of the market-place with a burial ground was founded by the Congregationalists in 1785 and continued until the close of the 19th century, but has now passed into private hands. It has registers of births and baptisms from 1788 to 1837, and of burials 1814 to 1836. (fn. 117) There are gravestones to 1860. A room in Castle Street formerly used as a meetinghouse by the Society of Friends is now used by the Brethren.


The grammar school (formerly Walter Biggs's charity) has already been dealt with. (fn. 118) The endowment now consists of the school building and adjoining land containing together 3½ acres; two-thirds of the net rents of 3, 4 and 5, Little Denmark Street, St. Giles's, London, let to Messrs. Crosse & Blackwell, producing £235 yearly; and £1,200 Midland Railway 2½ per cent. debenture stock, with the official trustees, representing a gift in 1901 of Mr. John Kirby Hedges of Wallingford Castle, who built a laboratory for the promotion of the science of chemistry; and a sum of £100, or thereabouts, in the Post Office Savings Bank, as a repairs and improvement fund. The school is now regulated under the provisions of a scheme established by the Board of Education by an order dated 14 September 1904. The revenues of the school are subject to the payment of £58 a year for thirty years in repayment of loans of £1,600 and £700 borrowed in 1904 from the municipal charities (see below).

The municipal charities formerly under the management of the corporation are now regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 30 March 1893. They include the charities of

(1) Sir Thomas Bennett, kt., founded by two indentures dated 17 January 1616. In pursuance of a decree of the Court of Exchequer, 1831, the share of Wallingford was declared to be threeeighteenths of the net proceeds of an estate at Kirton and Sutterton, Lincolnshire, containing 600 acres or thereabouts, held by the Mercers' Company, averaging about £55 a year. The official trustees also hold £1,081 11s. 9d. consols, arising from accumulations of income, producing £27 a year. This charity is generally known as the Noble Gift; the income is given at Midsummer and Christmas to fifteen aged persons.

(2) Archbishop Laud, will, dated 16 January 1643, proved in the P.C.C. 8 January 1661–2, consisting of fee-farm rents issuing out of estates at East Hagbourne and Aston Upthorpe, amounting in the aggregate to £37 0s. 6½d., and £432 consols with the official trustees, arising from the redemption of certain fee-farm rents, producing £10 16s. a year The income is applied in apprenticing boys to domestic trades, the premiums varying from £15 to £25, also in portions to poor maids contemplating matrimony, usually £14 each.

(3) Walter Bigg for poor, consisting of an annual sum of £26 paid by the governors of the grammar school, which is distributed in June and December among ten aged persons.

(4) Henry Fludger, will, proved in the P.C.C. 14 November 1817, trust fund, £900 consols with the official trustees, producing £22 10s. a year, which is distributed among thirty poor persons.

(5) The almshouses erected and endowed in 1681 at the cost of John Angier and Mary his sister are endowed with 18 acres of the annual value of £24, also with personal estate as follows: £451 12s. 1d. New South Wales 3 per cent. stock with the official trustees, representing the sale in 1903 of lands granted in 1789 by Job Wells and Thomas and Anne Torrey; also with £200 under the will of John Richardson, date not stated, £100 in 1864 by the will of Henry Wells Reynolds, £200 by the will of Richard Deacon, proved at Oxford 24 March 1885, £1,000 stock given in 1886 by Francis Simmons Bunting, £200 by the will of Henrietta Coles, proved at Oxford 29 November 1887, and £500 given in 1894 by Mr. John Kirby Hedges. The above-mentioned legacies and gifts were represented by £2,192 0s. 8d. consols with the official trustees, of which £1,820 15s. 4d. stock was in 1904 sold out to provide a sum of £1,600 as a loan to the grammar school (see above) upon condition of replacement within thirty years, leaving a balance of £371 5s. 4d. consols with the official trustees. The almshouses are occupied by six widows, who receive 5s. 6d. a week each.

(6) Widdows Golding, by his will proved in the P.C.C. 22 February 1821, bequeathed his residuary estate to the corporation of Wallingford upon trust, to apply the interest thereof for the benefit of poor inhabitants of the borough in the distribution of men's great-coats, women's stuff gowns and in flannel and other articles, subject to two monumental tablets in St. Peter's Church being kept in order. The trust fund now consists of £1,600 consols with the official trustees, producing £40 a year, which is duly applied.

(7) The Bridge Estate.—The endowment of the Bridge Estate dates from very early times. The devise by will, however, of William Goldsmyth in the 14th century is the only one of which the record has been preserved. (fn. 119)

The bridge was rebuilt under an Act of 1809. (fn. 120) By an order of the Charity Commissioners of 26 March 1886 the trustees of the municipal charities were appointed trustees of this trust and the real estate vested in the official trustee of charity land. Several sales of portions of the Bridge Estate have been effected, the proceeds of which were invested in consols. The stock was sold out in 1891–2, in respect of which two sums of £1,350 and £1,368 4s. 4d. were advanced by way of loan to the urban sanitary authority and £700 to the grammar school, the annual interest received therefrom amounting to £102 11s. The remaining trust property consists of the toll-house on the bridge let at £6 10s. a year, land at Port Royal adjoining the bridge, let at £1 1s. a year, two pieces of meadow land with fishery containing 2 acres, let at £4, 4 a. 1 r. 7 p. at Benson, Oxfordshire, let at £6 a year, and £50 15s. 3d. consols with the official trustees, who also held in 1907 £1,088 2s. 8d. consols, on an investment account, to repay the loan to the urban sanitary authority, and £272 7s. 11d. like stock in respect of the loan to the grammar school. The available income, amounting to £130 a year or thereabouts, is applied under the provisions of the scheme of 1886 in the maintenance, lighting and repairs of the bridge.

In 1861 Mrs. Margaret Gregson, in memory of her son the Rev. John Gregson, of the Priory, deceased, settled a sum of £300 for the benefit of the Church of England charity school. The gift is represented by £332 7s. 10d. consols with the official trustees, producing £8 6s. a year, which is applied under a scheme of 6 November 1894 as to one-third in prizes and medals for destitute children making the best attendances at the National school and as to two-thirds in boots for the like children.

In 1861 Miss Mary Ann Greenwood, also, by her will proved at Oxford on 15 March of the same year, bequeathed £200 for the use and benefit of the infants' school in Castle Street. A portion of the legacy was expended and the remainder invested in £113 1s. 6d. consols, now standing in the names of John Kirby Hedges, deceased, and three others, the income of which, amounting to £2 16s. 4d., is paid into the general account of the same school.

In 1862 Charles Morrell, by his will proved at Oxford 31 March of that year, gave to the corporation (subject as therein mentioned) certain consols, the income thereof to be equally divided among such ten poor persons as were most worthy of relief. The consols transferred to the corporation amounted in 1883 to £4,075 10s. The stock was with the authority of the Charity Commissioners sold out, realizing £3,580 14s. 5d., which was advanced to the urban district council (gas department) on mortgage of the rates at 3¼ per cent., upon terms that the consols should be replaced in twenty-three years by yearly instalments of £130 to be accumulated by the official trustees at compound interest. The trustees of the municipal charities were appointed in 1904 the trustees of this charity, by whom the income, amounting to £116 7s. 6d. a year, is divided in the first week of February among ten poor persons of both sexes, a preference being given to those who have been in better circumstances.

The Cottage Hospital and Endowments.

—In 1881 Mr. G.H. Morrell and wife gave £1,000 for the erection of a hospital in memory of Miss Mary Morrell, on a site conveyed to the corporation by Mr. Henry Hawkins for the sick and poor of the town and neighbourhood. The endowments consist of £484 5s. 2d. consols, representing a gift in 1894 by John Kirby Hedges, £1,006 0s. 10d. local loans stock as an endowment of a bed in the men's ward, arising from subscriptions in 1901 and known as the Helen Mary Wells Memorial, £51 4s. 5d. New South Wales 3½ per cent. stock, the gift in 1902 of Sir Peter Spokes, and £1,122 15s. guaranteed 2¾ per cent. (Irish land) stock, the gift in 1906 of Mr. and Mr. Alexander Caspar Fraser, for maintaining a bed in the men's ward, to be known as the Fraser Golden Wedding Gift. The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, producing an aggregate income of £74 19s. a year, which, together with voluntary subscriptions, is applied in the maintenance of the hospital.

In 1901 John Kirby Hedges, by will proved at Oxford 19 June, directed that, subject to the life interests of his daughters, the sum of £3,000 should be transferred to the official trustees upon trust to pay the income to the trustees of the public charities of Wallingford, to be applied annually in the winter season in articles of clothing, blankets, coals, or provisions among the deserving poor of the parish of Clapcot, including the castle precincts and the borough of Wallingford, subject as a primary charge to the maintaining and keeping in repair certain memorial windows and reredos in St. Mary's Church. Testator's daughters are still living, but a sum of £3,755 5s. 6d. Irish land stock has been set aside by the executors to satisfy the charitable legacy and duty thereon.

Parish of St. Leonard.

—Church Lands: This parish formerly possessed small quantities of land on Winterbrook Road and Hog Common and in St. Mary's Street, which were sold in 1891 and the proceeds invested in £200 15s. 8d. India 3 per cent. stock with the official trustees. The yearly income of £6 0s. 4d. is applied towards the general expenses of the church.

Parish of St. Mary.

—The Widow's Money consists of an annual payment of £2 given by a donor unknown, issuing out of a small portion of land in St. Mary's Lane formerly belonging to the Wells family, but now the property of Mr. J. Carthew. The money is distributed by the rector on Easter Day to twenty poor widows.

The Church Lands.

—The churchwardens were in possession from time immemorial of certain properties, including the Mermaid Inn, in the market-place, land and buildings in St. Martin's Street and in Church Lane. The whole of the property has been sold, the proceeds of which are represented by £2,221 10s. 5d. consols with the official trustees. The annual income of £55 10s. 8d. is applied in the maintenance of the fabric of the church and in heating and cleaning and other purposes connected with the building.

In 1829 Mrs. Elizabeth Hirst, by her will proved in the P.C.C. 26 February, bequeathed £200 to the rector and churchwardens of St. Mary-the-More, the income to be distributed yearly in bread amongst the poor on 1 August. The trust fund is represented by £211 8s. consols with the official trustees, producing £5 5s. 8d. a year.

Parish of St. Peter.

—The Church Lands, otherwise Clerk's Land, formerly consisted of 1 rood of land situate in Slade End Field, which was sold in 1897 in consideration of the transfer to the official trustees of £40 consols, the income of which is applied to the general purposes of the church.

Mary Bigg's charities.

—It appears from the Parliamentary returns of 1786 that Mary Bigg, by her will under date 1736, bequeathed the sum of 10s. 6d. yearly to be distributed in bread in each of the parishes of All Hallows, St. Leonard, St. Mary, and St. Peter. These payments were paid as recently as 1894 by Mr. T. F. Wells, then the owner of the George Inn, as a charge thereon. The inn is now the property of the Wallingford Brewery Company, Limited.


  • 1. In 1291 eight churches are mentioned (Pope Nich. Tax. [Rec. Com.], 188).
  • 2. a Field, Antiq. of Walling ford, 11.
  • 3. Dugdale, Mon. iii, 279, 280; V.C.H. Berks. ii, 77.
  • 4. Walsingham, Gesta Abbat. (Rolls Ser.), i, 56; Dugdale, op. cit. ii, 223; V.C.H. Berks. loc. cit.
  • 5. Cal. Chart. R. 1300–26, p. 17.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188. A list of the rectors from 1312 to 1386 has been compiled (Hedges, op. cit. ii, 384).
  • 8. Feud. Aids, i, 72.
  • 9. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 153.
  • 10. Corp. Ledger, quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 86.
  • 11. Exch. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), file 799, no. 3; L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv (2), 4471. The grant of lands in Wallingford to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor in 1532 does not include the tithes of St. Mary (L. and P. Hen. VIII, v, 1351; Inst. Bks. [P.R.O.]).
  • 12. Lond. Gaz. 1 June 1853, p. 2104.
  • 13. Hedges, op. cit. ii, 379.
  • 14. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1655–6, p. 311.
  • 15. See below, p. 542.
  • 16. Hedges, op. cit. ii 379–80. For an incomplete list of rectors from 1517 to 1880 see ibid. 383–4.
  • 17. Hedges, op. cit. ii, 391.
  • 18. Cal. Pat. 1216–25, p. 519; Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 108; Chan. Inq. p.m. 56 Hen. III, file 42, no. 1.
  • 19. Chan. Inq. p.m. loc. cit.; Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188; Feud. Aids, i, 72.
  • 20. Boarstall Chart. fol. 14b. Bodl. MS. Gough, Berks. fol. 214 (Reg. of Bp. Wyvile). The church and cemetery of St. Peter are mentioned in Boarstall Chart. fol. 1b, 2b, 3, 4b, 5, 10b, 14.
  • 21. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 153.
  • 22. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, 198.
  • 23. Feet of F. Div. Co. East. 6 Edw. VI.
  • 24. Ibid. East. 21 Eliz.; Pat. 21 Eliz. pt. v; Recov. R. East. 21 Eliz. m. 1406.
  • 25. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 40 Eliz.
  • 26. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 27. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 7 Chas. I; Recov. R. Mich. 7 Chas. I, m. 17; Feet of F. Berks. East. 12 Chas. I.
  • 28. Berks. Arch. Journ. xii, 19, 20.
  • 29. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 30. Ibid.; Recov. R. East. 7 Geo. I, m. 38; Trin. 1 Geo. II, m. 269; Mich. 1 Geo. II, m. 175.
  • 31. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 32. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1655–6, p. 311.
  • 33. Briefs for the rebuilding were issued in 1760 and 1773 (Church Briefs [B.M.], A vi, 6; B xiii, 10).
  • 34. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 35. Ibid.
  • 36. For details of the expenditure see Hedges, op. cit. ii, 400.
  • 37. Dict. Nat. Biog.; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 38. Hedges, op. cit. ii, 407; Lewis, Topog. Dict. (1849).
  • 39. Hedges, loc. cit.
  • 40. Dugdale, Mon. ii, 145.
  • 41. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188; Cal. Pat. 1399–1401, p. 484; Boarstall Chart. fol. 12.
  • 42. Feud. Aids, i, 72.
  • 43. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 153.
  • 44. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (1), 384 (67).
  • 45. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 46. Hedges, op. cit. ii, 392.
  • 47. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.); Hedges, op. cit. ii, 384, 398.
  • 48. Lond. Gaz. 1 June 1855, p. 2104.
  • 49. See above, p. 510.
  • 50. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. i, 85, 590.
  • 51. In the 18th century the site was described as 'five poles southward off the almshouse, the ground extending as far as the knowl in the foot-path to Winterbrook,' and the discovery of human bones near this spot confirms this identification (Skermer, op. cit. 27; Berks. and Oxon. Advertizer, Mar. 1889).
  • 52. Dugdale, Mon. ii, 144, 145; Cal. Pat. 1281–92, p. 111.
  • 53. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188, 191.
  • 54. Dugdale, Mon. ii, 147.
  • 55. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. i, 592; Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188.
  • 56. A burial ground discovered in 1877 where an ironfoundary now stands has fixed the site of this church (inform. from Rev. J. E. Field).
  • 57. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. i, 592.
  • 58. Ibid. 83.
  • 59. Ibid. 591.
  • 60. Hedges, op. cit. ii, 416.
  • 61. This name has been used from the 16th century onwards.
  • 62. See V.C.H. Berks. ii, 104; Dugdale, Mon. viii, 1330 n.c.
  • 63. Chart. R. 2 John, m. 24.
  • 64. Pat. 9 John, m. 1; 16 John, m. 15.
  • 65. Chan. Inq. p.m. 56 Hen. III, file 42, no. 1. In 1291 the church was valued at £6 13s. 4d.
  • 66. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188; Sarum Epis. Reg. quoted in Hedges, op. cit. ii, 290; Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 108; Cal. Pat. 1307–13, p. 109; 1324–7, p. 177; 1385–9, p. 508.
  • 67. Cal. Pat. 1388–92, p. 4.
  • 68. Feud. Aids, i, 72.
  • 69. Pat. 6 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 10.
  • 70. Chant. Cert. Berks. no. 3, printed in Hedges, op. cit. ii, 311; Chant. Cert. Berks. 51, no. 36; 3, no. 2.
  • 71. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 153; Mins. Accts. 1 & 2 Edw. VI, Berks. no. 3.
  • 72. Pat. 6 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 10.
  • 73. Ibid. 5 Jas. I, pt. xxii.
  • 74. The grant by Henry VIII in 1532 of the lands and possessions of Wallingford Priory to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor does not mention tithes in Clapcot (L. and P. Hen. VIII, v, 1351).
  • 75. Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 15 Jas. I.
  • 76. Close, 2 Chas. I, no. 2647, printed in Hedges, op. cit. ii, 324. The grant included the messuage called Conygares in Castle Street.
  • 77. Hedges, op. cit. ii, 331; Lewis, Topog. Dict. (1849).
  • 78. Hedges, op. cit. ii, 280.
  • 79. Dugdale, Mon. iii, 278.
  • 80. V.C.H. Berks. ii, 77, 78, 79; Walsingham, Gesta Abbat. (Rolls Ser.), i, 56; Dugdale, op. cit. ii, 223.
  • 81. The vicar of Holy Trinity is mentioned in 1351, and the parish of Holy Trinity is often referred to in the corporation records (Hedges, op. cit. ii, 7; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. i, 587– 94).
  • 82. Hedges, op. cit. ii, 352; Mins. Accts. Hen. VIII, no. 106.
  • 83. Hedges, op. cit. ii, 355.
  • 84. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xxi (2), g. 648 (10).
  • 85. Pat. 7 Edw. VI, pt. vii.
  • 86. Field, op. cit. 15; Skermer, op. cit. 27.
  • 87. Cal. Pat. 1216–25, p. 27.
  • 88. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 108; Cal. Pat. 1216–25, p. 330; 1225–32, p. 91. In 1272 St. Michael's was said to be worth 'only the service of the said church' (Chan. Inq. p.m. 56 Hen. III, file 42, no. 1).
  • 89. Boarstall Chart. fol. 14b.
  • 90. Ibid.
  • 91. Cal. Close, 1364–8, p. 195. See also Boarstall Chart. fol. 12.
  • 92. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 191.
  • 93. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. i, 573, 576; Boarstall Chart. fol. 6.
  • 94. Boarstall Chart. fol. 14b.
  • 95. MS. Surv. fol. 6.
  • 96. V.C.H. Berks. ii, 77.
  • 97. V.C.H. Berks. ii, 77; Corp. Rec.; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. i, 572–94; Boarstall Chart. fol. 1.
  • 98. Boarstall Chart. fol. 12, 13b, 14. The church of St. John-super-Aquam still existed in 1409.
  • 99. Ibid. fol. 12, 13b.
  • 100. MS. Surv. fol. 11; Hedges, op. cit. ii, 413. St. John's hithe (hetha) is often mentioned in the 15th century (Boarstall Chart. fol. 13b).
  • 101. Field, op. cit. 8.
  • 102. V.C.H. Berks. i, 335; note from Rev. J.E. Field.
  • 103. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188.
  • 104. Corp. Rec.; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. i, 588b.
  • 105. Cal. Pat. 1385–9, p. 137; Boarstall Chart. fol. 6. A list of rectors from 1298 to 1386 is given by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 414–15.
  • 106. See V.C.H. Berks. ii, 99–101, 103–6.
  • 107. Inform. from Rev. J. E. Field.
  • 108. Corp. Ledger, in Hedges, ii, 255, 256.
  • 109. Berks. Arch. Journ. iii, 172.
  • 110. Skermer, op. cit. 26; Hedges, op. cit. ii, 256.
  • 111. Skermer, op. cit. 27.
  • 112. Field, op. cit. 18. The adjacent Cross Keys Inn is a reminiscence of it.
  • 113. See Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. i, 572–94; Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188, 191.
  • 114. Camden, Brit. (ed. Gough), i, 158.
  • 115. Berks. N. and Q (1890), 23.
  • 116. Ibid.
  • 117. Ibid.
  • 118. V.C.H. Berks. ii, 277.
  • 119. Hedges, op. cit. ii, 9, 251.
  • 120. Local and Pers. Act, 49 Geo. III, cap. 143. See above.