Parishes: Shellingford

A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.

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'Parishes: Shellingford', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4, ed. William Page, P H Ditchfield( London, 1924), British History Online [accessed 12 July 2024].

'Parishes: Shellingford', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Edited by William Page, P H Ditchfield( London, 1924), British History Online, accessed July 12, 2024,

"Parishes: Shellingford". A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Ed. William Page, P H Ditchfield(London, 1924), , British History Online. Web. 12 July 2024.

In this section


Scaringaford (x cent.); Serengeford (xi cent.); Salingeford, Schalingeford, Shallingford, Sallingford, Schillingford (xiii cent.); Shillingworth (xviii cent.).

Shellingford is a small parish containing 1,761 acres, of which 482 acres are arable land and 1,096 acres permanent grass. (fn. 1) The ground slopes upwards from the River Ock, which forms part of the southern boundary of the parish, till an altitude of 368 ft. above the ordnance datum is attained on the road from Faringdon to Wantage, which forms the northern boundary.

Most of the houses in the village are modern, but a few old ones still remain. To the south of the church is a rectangular two-storied building of rubble. It was apparently built early in the 16th century, and the south front has two square-headed doors and six windows, each of two four-centred lights with a square label. The upper floor has one and twolight windows of similar character. In the centre rises a good stone chimney stack with a sundial on the south face, and octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and bases. Most of the back windows are small, but one is of two lights like those on the front.

The rectory is a gabled Elizabethan house with stone-mullioned windows, facing west. The interior has been much altered and the original hall divided up. The entrance from the hall to the staircase had originally three oak arches on circular Doric columns, but two of these are now covered or obscured. A similar feature occurs at the first-floor landing. The staircase itself is a good example of late 16th-century work with a well, fine turned balusters and newels with balls and drops. The ceiling of the drawing room has plaster trabeations of the 17th century, enriched with running foliage and flowers. In the kitchen is an old window with three rounded lights and a square label.

Kitemore, a house built in the French-Gothic style, is situated a little to the north of the village, and commands a fine view of White Horse Hill; it is the property of Major Harold G. Henderson, M.P., J.P., the lord of the manor. The old manor-house, which Lysons described in 1813 as 'an ancient stone building called, it does not appear for what reason, Shellingford Castle,' (fn. 2) has now disappeared. There is a small Congregational chapel in the village.

John Parkhurst, master of Balliol College from 1617 to 1637, was chaplain to the lord of the manor, Sir Henry Neville, when ambassador at Paris, and was presented by him to the rectory of Shellingford in 1602. He resigned his mastership of Balliol in 1637, and was buried at Shellingford, 29 January 1639. (fn. 3) Sir Edward Hannes, who married Anne the daughter of Robert Packer, then lord of the manor, and Temperance his wife, attended William Duke of Gloucester at his death on 30 July 1700, and two years later became physician to Queen Anne. He died in 1710, and was buried beside his wife at Shellingford. (fn. 4) Little Newbury Farm, on the outskirts of the village, recalls the existence of the manor of Shellingford Newbury. A messuage and lands called Little Newbury are mentioned as early as 1539. (fn. 5)

Among place-names found in local records may be mentioned Erlycheham, Oldeland, Southbury, Stenyng, Duyrlyng (fn. 6) (xv cent.); Wickmeade (fn. 7) (xvii cent.); and the Great Sands, the Sands Mead, the Great Slow, the Little Slow, Winterstone, Coxwell Hill, Fernham Hill, Lyde Wood and Willmoore (fn. 8) (xviii cent.). The soil is sandy loam and clay, and the subsoil Corallian Beds and Kimmeridge Clay. The chief crops are the usual cereals.


According to the monastic chronicle in 931 King Athelstan granted 12 cassates of land in Shellingford to Abingdon Abbey, (fn. 9) and, although the charter quoted in support of this statement cannot be entirely accepted as authentic, it seems possible that the writer had before him some earlier record of the gift. (fn. 10) At the time of the Domesday Survey 9 hides worth £9 were held by the abbey, while the rest of the value of £3 was in the possession of two tenants, named respectively Gilbert and Wimund. (fn. 11) The 9 hides in the possession of the abbey were afterwards known as the manor of SHELLINGFORD NEWBURY. This estate remained part of the possessions of Abingdon until its dissolution in 1538. (fn. 12) In 1212 the Abbot of Abingdon was summoned to show what right he had to a fair at Shellingford, the Earl of Albemarle having complained that it was prejudicial to his fair of Wantage. (fn. 13) The abbot's defence was that neither he nor his men had taken toll or other customs, but the admitted that from time immemorial people had assembled at Shellingford for the purpose of buying and selling. At the same time the Abbot of Beaulieu (co. Hants) acknowledged that he had a certain custom of salt from that fair which he had of the gift of the king. (fn. 14) As a result of this suit the Abbot of Abingdon was apparently restrained from holding the fair, but in 1221 he obtained a royal charter, granting him permission to hold it every year on the eve and the feast of St. Faith until the king's coming of age. (fn. 15) Afterwards the amercements were paid to the king, although the fair still remained free from toll. (fn. 16) In 1276 complaint was made that Fulk Fitz Warin, then lord of Wantage Manor, had slain a certain man called Seman at Shellingford, had compelled all the other frequenters of the fair to go to Wantage, and was then holding the fair at Wantage every year and was exacting toll. (fn. 17)

The Abbot of Abingdon had free warren granted to him by Henry III. (fn. 18) The tenants paid part of their rents in cheese to the abbey, as much as 30 lb. of cheese being delivered yearly to the refectory. (fn. 19)

In 1538 the manor was surrendered to the king, (fn. 20) and in the following year was granted at a rent of £4 17s. 6d. to Alexander Unton, (fn. 21) who in 1508 had obtained a thirty-three years' lease from the abbey. (fn. 22) In 1544 Alexander obtained a grant of the reversion of the manor of Hatford (q.v.) after the death of his wife Cecily, and from this date onwards the history of the two manors is identical until 1598, (fn. 23) when Shellingford was purchased by the courtier and diplomatist, Sir Henry Neville, from the trustees of the late Sir Henry Unton. (fn. 24) Sir Henry Neville died seised of the manor in 1615. (fn. 25) His heir was his son Sir Henry Neville of Billingbear in Waltham, who in 1620 sold the estate to John Packer of Westminster, (fn. 26) who had acted as secretary to his father while ambassador in France. (fn. 27) John Packer became a great favourite at court owing to the patronage of Lord Burghley, Thomas and Richard Earls of Dorset, and the Duke of Buckingham, but he allied himself with the Parliamentary party on the outbreak of the Civil War. (fn. 28) He died in 1649 and was buried at St. Margaret's, Westminster. (fn. 29) In 1625 he rebuilt Shellingford Church at a cost of at least £200, and 'at his own expense he sent able and orthodox ministers to preach in Lancashire, Staffordshire, Westmoreland, South Wales and other remote parts of the kingdom.' (fn. 30) On his death his estates passed to his son Robert Packer, M.P. for Wallingford, (fn. 31) who married Temperance daughter of Col. Edward Stephens of Sodbury, member of the Long Parliament, and died in 1687. (fn. 32) He was succeeded by his son Robert, (fn. 33) M.P. for Berkshire 1710–11, 1713–14, 1722 and 1727, who married Mary, the daughter and eventually sole heir of Sir Henry Winchcombe, bart., of Bucklebury and Donnington Castle, (fn. 34) and died in 1731. (fn. 35) Their son Winchcombe Howard Packer (fn. 36) sold the manor and advowson of Shellingford for £8,000 to Sarah Dowager Duchess of Marlborough in 1738. (fn. 37) The latter by her will, dated 11 August 1744, bequeathed all the manors she had purchased in Berkshire in trust for her grandson John Spencer, the third and youngest son of her second daughter Anne Countess of Sunderland. (fn. 38) On the death of John Spencer, in 1746 Shellingford passed to his son John Spencer, who was created Earl Spencer in 1765. (fn. 39) He died in 1783, and was succeeded by his son George Earl Spencer, (fn. 40) who sold Shellingford in 1796 to William Yarnton Mills. (fn. 41) From the latter it passed by purchase at the beginning of the 19th century to Henry Jeffery Lord Ashbrook, who sold it some time afterwards to the Goodlake family. On the death of Thomas Leinster Goodlake towards the end of the 19th century his executors sold the estate to Sir Alexander Henderson, bart., of Buscot Park, (fn. 42) whose son Major Harold G. Henderson, M.P., J.P., is the present lord of the manor.

Packer of Shellingford. Gules a cross indented or between four roses argent.

There was a mill in Shellingford in 1085, (fn. 43) and a water-mill is included later among the appartenances of the manor. (fn. 44)

The later manor of SHELLINGFORD BLEWBURY probably represents the Domesday holding of Gilbert and Wimund, tenants of the abbey of Abingdon. (fn. 45) In the reign of Henry III the holder of this estate, then assessed at half a fee, was William Salmon. (fn. 46) John Salmon, rector of Shellingford, and Thomas Salmon, son and heir of Henry Salmon, quitclaimed their lands, rents and services in Shellingford in 1363 and 1368 respectively to Sir John de Blewbury, rector of Witney (fn. 47) (co. Oxon.). Although the tenure of the latter was but short, he gave his name to this estate. (fn. 48) The exact date when he granted it to the abbey of Abingdon is uncertain, but there is no mention of his holding any land in Shellingford in the inquisition taken on his death in 1372. (fn. 49) Ashmole, writing in 1719, describes his monument in Shellingford Church, as also the gravestone of William de Blewbury and Isabel his wife. (fn. 50) In 1428 the Abbot of Abingdon held the third part of a knight's fee in Shellingford formerly held by Henry Salmon. (fn. 51) Separate accounts were kept of this estate, some of which are still extant. (fn. 52) Shellingford Blewbury was surrendered to Henry VIII with Shellingford Newbury in 1538, and has since followed the descent of that manor (q.v.).


The church of ST. FAITH consists of a chancel 24 ft. by 14 ft. 3 in., nave 54 ft. by 19 ft. 4 in., west tower about 10 ft. square, south porch and north vestry. These measurements are all internal.

The nave and chancel appear to have been built late in the 12th century, but both have been considerably altered, while preserving their original proportions. The west tower was added in the first half of the 13th century, and in the 14th century the chancel was largely rebuilt. About 1400 a chapel was apparently added on the north of the chancel, but this was subsequently destroyed at some uncertain date. The tower arch was rebuilt in the 15th century. In 1625 the church underwent an extensive restoration, much of the nave walls being rebuilt, the south porch added and a spire built. The building has been again restored in modern times, and in 1848 the spire was destroyed by lightning and rebuilt.

The chancel has a 14th-century east window of three lights with net tracery in a pointed head. Towards the east end of the north wall is a moulded and pointed arch of about 1400; the soffit is ornamented with quatrefoils in circles, each with a grotesque face or flower in the centre. The arch is now blocked and filled with a late three-light window, partly restored. Further west is a 14th-century singlelight window. There are three similar windows in the south wall, the sill of the first being carried down to form a sedile; further east is a trefoil-headed piscina, recut. The priest's doorway, between the two western windows, is 12th-century work reset; it is of two orders, the outer ornamented with cheverons, and the jambs have each two banded shafts with moulded abaci. The late 12th-century chancel arch is of two plain round orders; the responds have each one semicircular and one detached shaft with foliated capitals, square abaci and circular bases. The flat tie-beam roof is probably of 17th-century date.

The nave has in the north wall three windows, each of two lights, cusped, transomed and squareheaded; they probably date from 1625. Between the two western is the late 12th-century north door of two orders, the inner continuously moulded and the outer resting on side shafts with simple voluted foliage capitals; the arch is enriched with a series of plain beak heads. In the south wall is a 14thcentury window of three lights with net tracery in a pointed head. Further west are two early 16thcentury windows, each of four lights, with depressed heads and transoms. Between them is the good late 12th-century south doorway of two orders, the outer with a double cheveron and the inner with a roll moulding; the label has dog-tooth ornament with grotesque animal head-stops, and the jambs have each one detached and one engaged shaft, the former banded, and both with square moulded abaci, foliated capitals and bases with spur ornaments. The nave roof, probably of the 17th century, has moulded tie-beams with curved braces and moulded stone corbels. The walls are embattled, and high up on the south side is a shield inscribed 1625.

The 13th-century west tower is three stages high and finished with an embattled parapet. The 15thcentury tower arch is four-centred with moulded imposts. In the west wall is a single lancet window. Above it, in the second stage, is a second lancet, and the bell-chamber has a very tall lancet window in the north and south walls. The tower is surmounted by an octagonal stone spire, with rolls at the angles and four spire lights near the base, each of two lights set in a stone frame.

The south porch has a pointed outer archway and a two-light window in the west wall. Set in the gable is a modern stone inscribed 'Carol. rex 1625.' The panelled half doors to the entrance are of this date.

On the north wall of the chancel is an elaborate marble monument to Mary wife of Robert Packer (d. 1719), and on the south wall is a tablet to Edward Neville (d. 1632), with the Neville arms with a rose on the saltire. To the north of the altar is a tablet to John Packer (d. 1682), with two shields, one Packer impaling Stephens, and the other Packer. On the floor, partly covered by the altar step, is a large slab with the indent of a canopied brass and a marginal inscription. On the north wall of the nave is a large 18th-century monument to Sir Edward Hannes, and south of the chancel arch is one to William Viscount Ashbrook (d. 1780). There is also a brass inscription to Mary Knappe (d. 1621). In the churchyard, south of the chancel, is a good altar tomb to Alicia wife of Richard Clayton, rector (d. 1643), with a shield of Clayton impaling a lion and a chief with three roundels therein.

In the second window on the south of the nave the lower lights are filled with fragments of ancient glass, including the heads of four saints, the tops of four canopies, grisaille, &c.

There are four bells: the treble is inscribed 'When I am tolled with speed prepare both young and old God's word to heare, Robert Tompson Churchwarden, Edward Neale of Burford made mee 1653'; the second is uninscribed; the third is by H. Bagley, 1738, with the names of the churchwardens; the tenor is inscribed in black letter 'Gloria in excelciuc (sic) deo W.K. 1586.' There is also a ting-tang, dated 1668.

The plate includes a cup and cover paten (London, 1597) of silver gilt, with an incised pattern round the rim of the cup, a stand paten (London, 1624), inscribed 'P.P. 1641,' with a shield of Packer impaling Mills of Bitterne, a modern flagon and a chalice and paten given by E. M. Goodlake in 1850.

The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1579 to 1781, marriages 1582 to 1754, burials 1581 to 1781; (ii) mixed entries 1678 to 1782; (iii) marriages 1755 to 1812; (iv) baptisms and burials 1782 to 1812.


The first mention of a church in Shellingford is in 1248, in which year the Abbot of Abingdon engaged in a dispute with Thomas de Ferrers, lord of the manor of Stanford in the Vale, about the advowson. (fn. 53) He was successful in proving that Hugh, his predecessor in the abbacy, had presented a certain Walter de Lascy to the church, and therefore made good the claim of the abbey to the right of presentation. (fn. 54) The church was valued at £8 in 1291 (fn. 55) and at £17 8s. 10d. in 1535. (fn. 56) The advowson was surren dered to the king by the Abbot of Abingdon in 1538, (fn. 57) but was not included in the grant of the manors to Alexander Unton in the following year. John Guise of Elmore (co. Glouc.) obtained a grant of it from the king in 1540, (fn. 58) but the Untons are found in possession of it in 1589, in that year dealing with it by fine. (fn. 59) The advowson has since followed the descent of the manors, the present patron of the living being Major Harold G. Henderson, M.P. (fn. 60)

There do not appear to be any endowed charities subsisting in this parish.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Lysons, Mag. Brit. i, (2), 360–1.
  • 3. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Pat. 31 Hen. VIII, pt. i, m. 12.
  • 6. Accts. of the Obedientiaries of Abingdon Abbey (Camd. Soc.), 145–7, 151–3, 158–60.
  • 7. Close, 17 Jas. I, pt. iv, no. 33. There is a Wickwood Farm and a Wickwood Copse now, a little to the north of Little Newbury Farm.
  • 8. Ibid. 12 Geo. II, pt. ix, no. 3. There is a Sands Farm, a little to the south of Little Newbury Farm. Lyde Wood is now called Lyde Copse.
  • 9. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), ii, 276; Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 372–4. The boundaries of the land thus granted are given, and were much the same as at present. Thus the River Ock ('Eoccen') and Bagmore ('Baccan mor') are mentioned as forming part of the southern boundary. 'Hlydan' can easily be identified with 'Lyde Copse,' on the western boundary of the parish, while the Ridgeway ('Hryegwege') is probably the main road from Faringdon to Wantage, which forms part of the northern boundary.
  • 10. a For a discussion on the authenticity of the charter see Stenton, Early Hist. of Abingdon Abbey, 38.
  • 11. V.C.H. Berks. i, 341.
  • 12. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), ii, 310; Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 124, 132; Close, 19 Hen. III, pt. i, m. 15 d.; Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 21 Hen. III, no. 1; Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 191; Feud. Aids, i, 52, 58; Cal. Pat. 1446–52, p. 23.
  • 13. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 85.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. Rot. Lit. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i, 460.
  • 16. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 11.
  • 17. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 11.
  • 18. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 217.
  • 19. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), ii, 287.
  • 20. Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 29 Hen. VIII.
  • 21. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), g. 1354 (44).
  • 22. Ibid. xv, p. 558.
  • 23. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lxxxvi, 3; ccxxvii, 222; cclii, 100; Exch. Inq. p.m. file 203, no. 61; Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 31 Eliz.; Div. Co. Mich. 39 & 40 Eliz.; Close, 40 Eliz. pt. xvii; Recov. R. Mich. 39 Eliz. m. 191.
  • 24. See Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cclvi, 123.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 17 Jas. I; Close, 17 Jas. I, pt. iv, no. 33.
  • 27. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. x, App. vi, 174.
  • 28. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 29. Ibid.
  • 30. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. x, App. vi, 174.
  • 31. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 1652; Recov. R. Berks. Mich. 1652, m. 200; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 32. Gen. vi, 69.
  • 33. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 11 Will. III; Recov. R. East. 4 Anne, m. 157; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 34. Cherry, 'Prosapiae Bercherienses,' i, 447–8.
  • 35. Monument in Shellingford Church.
  • 36. Cherry, loc. cit.
  • 37. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 11 & 12 Geo. II; Recov. R. Trin. 11 & 12 Geo. II, m. 232; Close, 12 Geo. II, pt. ix, no. 3.
  • 38. Gent. Mag. xiv, 588.
  • 39. G.E.C. Complete Peerage, vii, 202.
  • 40. Ibid. 203.
  • 41. Lysons, loc. cit.
  • 42. Inform. from Major Harold G. Henderson.
  • 43. V.C.H. Berks. i, 341.
  • 44. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 17 Jas. I; Trin. 11 Will. III; Recov. R. Mich. 1652, m. 200; East. 4 Anne, m. 157.
  • 45. V.C.H. Berks. i, 341.
  • 46. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), ii, 311; Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 109, 121, 126.
  • 47. Close, 36 Edw. III, m. 4 d.; 42 Edw. III, m. 15 d.
  • 48. He was holding property in the parish already in 1361, in which year he obtained licence to alienate in mortmain two messuages and 1⅓ acres of land in Shellingford to the Abbot and convent of Abingdon in exchange for a messuage and 76 perches of land in the same vill (Cal. Pat. 1361–4, p. 5).
  • 49. Chan. Inq. p.m. 46 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 5.
  • 50. Ashmole, Antiq. of Berks. ii, 180–4.
  • 51. Feud. Aids, i, 61.
  • 52. Accts. of the Obed. of Abingdon Abbey (Camd. Soc.), 155–7, 160–1.
  • 53. Assize R. 38, m. 14.
  • 54. Ibid
  • 55. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 186.
  • 56. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 156.
  • 57. Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 29 Hen. VIII.
  • 58. Pat. 32 Hen. VIII, pt. i, no. 62.
  • 59. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 31 Eliz.
  • 60. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxxvii, 222; ccliii, 100; Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 39 & 40 Eliz.; Berks. Hil. 43 Eliz.; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccclvi, 123; Close, 17 Jas. I, pt. iv, no. 33; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.); Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 1652; Recov. R. Mich. 1652, m. 200; Feet of F. Berks. Trin. II Will. III; Recov. R. East. 4 Anne, m. 157; Close, 12 Geo. II, pt. ix, no. 3; Recov. R. Mich. 20 Geo. III, m. 154.