A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1925.
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Cresselai (xi cent.); Kerslawe, Kyrselowe (xiii cent.); Kercelawe, Kerseloghe, Carselouwe, Crissellow (xiv cent.); Cresselowe (xv cent.).
The parish of Creslow contains 886 acres, comprising 47 acres of arable land and 813 acres of permanent grass. (fn. 1) The pasture lands, for which it has always been famous, are considered the finest in the county. The subsoil is of Kimmeridge Clay and Portland Beds.
The parish is situated on high ground in the centre of the county. The highest elevation, 513 ft. above the ordnance datum, is in the north-west, and from here the ground slopes to the east, where a stream divides the parish from Cublington.
The Manor House, the residence of Mr. Richard Rowland, who farms the surrounding lands, is an exceptionally interesting example of a 14th-century house, though it has unfortunately suffered a great deal from alteration and rearrangement. The original portions, which comprise the greater part of the present house, are of the first half of the 14th century, and were possibly built by John Stretley, lord of the manor at that time. The plan must have then consisted of a hall placed with its greatest length from north to south, and having a slight projection over the west side of the dais, a wing at the north end containing the offices and kitchen, which has now disappeared, and a chamber block on the south, with a vaulted crypt under its eastern end, and a large tower at the south-west with an octagonal stair turret at its north-west angle; a small wing projecting from the east end of the south wall of the solar block also seems to be of original date. In the first half of the 17th century the house was almost entirely remodelled; upper floors were inserted in the hall, and a new staircase was constructed at the west end of the dais, the projection above referred to being partly utilized to form the staircase, and heightened. It is probable that these alterations were very largely the work of Cornelius Holland, the regicide, who is known to have spent large sums of money in rebuilding the house about 1646–7. (fn. 2) In the 19th century the north end of the hall was pulled down, and with it two wings projecting on the east and west, which are shown in old views of the house. At the same time the west wall of the hall to the north of the staircase was rebuilt, the southern half lining with the staircase projection, and a projecting room was constructed at the north-east corner of the curtailed hall. Some old material seems to have been re-used in the new north wall of the house.
Internally the remaining portion of the hall is now cut up by partitions, but three of the original rooftrusses are visible in the attics. They have upper and lower collars with arched braces, and the soot with which they are covered shows that the hall was warmed by a central hearth. The crypt under the east end of the solar block has a quadripartite vault, springing from near the floor level, with chamfered diagonal, lierne and ridge ribs having foliated bosses at their intersections. There are also cellars under the east side of the hall block, that beneath the room at the north-east having a pointed barrel-vault of brick. The top floor of the solar block was formed into a long gallery at the time of the 17th-century alterations. Part of its fine plaster ceiling still remains in position, but some portions have been removed to decorate the inner entrance hall at the north end of the house. Much other good work of the same period also remains, notably the principal stairs, which are of oak and have heavy moulded handrails supported by turned balusters, carved strings and square chamfered newel-posts with finials and pendants.
The exterior of the house, with its many gables and chimney-shafts, presents a very picturesque appearance. The most imposing feature is the tower at the south-west of the solar block. It is three stories in height and is built of large squared blocks of masonry; the semi-octagonal stair turret at the north-west angle is carried above the level of the roof and there is a large buttress at the east end of the south face. The walls are crowned by a plain moulded parapet, apparently of 15th-century date, but beneath it is an enriched 14th-century parapet with gargoyles. In the east face, lighting the first floor, is a 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights, with tracery in a twocentred head inclosed by a label with head stops. The ground floor is lighted by a restored single-light window of the same date. On the south front the two upper floors are each lighted by an early 17th-century stone-mullioned window, while the ground floor is entered by a doorway formed in an old window opening. The windows of the upper stories on the west front are of the same type and date, but the ground floor is lighted on this face by two 14th-century single-light windows, one now blocked, which seem originally to have had trefoiled pointed heads. The stair turret is lighted by three rectangular loop lights, and opens on to the roof by a doorway in its south face.
In the south wall of the solar block is an original 14th-century window, lighting the ground floor, but the other features in this wall are modern or of the 17th century. The east end has a gable, the northern slope of which is stepped, while in the apex is a quatrefoiled circular opening, probably of 14th-century date. The windows are all probably 17th-century insertions. The west end has a gable stepped on both slopes, in the apex of which is a traceried circular opening, beneath which is a window blocked with brickwork. Two original windows in the east and west walls light the upper floor of the south-east wing of the solar block.
The north wall of the hall block contains two recesses with reset stone heads in the lower part of the gable. The apex of the gable is crowned by a chimney stack with diagonal shafts built of early 17th-century brick. The other reset features in this wall include a moulded bracket and a doorway, the latter now converted into a window. On the east side of the hall block are two modern windows lighting the ground floor. The dormer windows above are of the 17th century. The modern north-east wing is gabled, and has in the apex a loop with a reset canopied head. The other windows lighting the two floors have four-centred heads, probably re-used 17th-century work. Built into the wall between them is a head corbel, apparently of 15th-century date. The projecting staircase bay at the south end of the west wall is carried up and gabled in the same way as the ends of the solar; built into its lower part is an original quatrefoiled circular opening. In the apex is a window-opening blocked with brickwork, beneath which are two modern windows. The head and jambs of the dormer at the north end of this elevation are reset 15th-century work.
A Parliamentary survey of 1649–56 states that 'the mansion-house … is situate upon a hill with a handsome prospect, but standeth very bleake without anye shelter for defence of the weather.' (fn. 3)
Adjoining the manor-house on the north-west is the nave of the old parish church. It is about 37 ft. by 19 ft., and has walls of stone rubble with ashlar dressings and a tiled roof. It dates probably from the latter part of the 12th century, but was altered in the 15th century. During Elizabeth's reign services ceased to be performed, (fn. 4) and in 1786 it was used as a dovecot. (fn. 5) Shortly afterwards it was adapted to serve its present purpose as a coach-house by the insertion of partition walls and upper floors, and by the rearrangement of the various openings.
The east wall has been rebuilt, retaining no signs of the former chancel arch, and has a gable of timber framing with brick infilling. The west wall has also been rebuilt.
The north wall has remains of two blocked 15th-century windows, each of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head, and between them, visible internally, is a blocked original lancet window. Near the west end of the wall is a blocked doorway, the pointed head of which is formed of re-used 12th-century material, including cheveron moulded archstones, a billeted label, and one moulded and one carved abacus.
The south wall contains a blocked 15th-century window similar to those in the north wall, two 17thcentury wooden-framed windows, and two doorways, probably also of the 17th century.
The roof is probably of 15th-century date, and has trusses with arched braces beneath the collars, and curved wind bracing.
In the reign of Edward the Confessor CRESLOW MANOR was held by an English lady called Wulwene, and by 1086 formed part of the possessions of Edward of Salisbury, Sheriff of Wiltshire. (fn. 8) Creslow was held of his descendants, the Earls of Salisbury, as of their honour of Salisbury, (fn. 9) until the attainder in 1322 of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, husband of their heir Alice. (fn. 10) It then escheated to the Crown, of which it was afterwards held in chief until 1482, when the holders of the manor quitclaimed the ownership in fee to the Crown, (fn. 11) by which it was retained until the grant in fee to Lord Clifford in 1673. (fn. 12)
The tenant at Domesday was Ranulf, (fn. 13) whose estate was held about the middle of the 13th century by Robert de Hogshaw and Geoffrey son of John. (fn. 14) Robert de Hogshaw appears to have been succeeded by William son of Walter, who alienated his part of Creslow, then called the moiety of the manor, to Geoffrey son of John in 1253. (fn. 15) In or before 1276 the manor had passed to John de Tedmarsh, who died leaving as heir a minor in the guardianship of Jordan de Kendal. (fn. 16) His heir was possibly the Herbert de Tedmarsh who in 1279 was pardoned for killing Ernald, parson of the church of Creslow, in self-defence. (fn. 17) In 1294 the manor had passed to another John de Tedmarsh, who died about this time. After his death an inquiry was held to find out who had broken open his chest at Creslow and carried off charters. (fn. 18) John was succeeded by his son Hugh, (fn. 19) in possession in 1302, (fn. 20) who in 1304 settled the manor on himself for life with remainder to John son of Hugh de Stretley. (fn. 21) John de Stretley acquired Creslow in 1312, (fn. 22) but his right was disputed by Richard de la Welde, who had married a sister of Hugh de Tedmarsh, (fn. 23) and who in 1320, with others, broke the houses and coffers of the manor, dragging out Elizabeth, wife of John de Stretley, although in childbirth. (fn. 24) The dispute terminated in 1324, when John son of Richard de la Welde renounced his right in the manor in consideration of an annuity of 60s. (fn. 25)
John Stretley was dead by 1346, when his widow Elizabeth settled it on herself for life with remainder to their son John Stretley, clerk, and his five brothers. (fn. 26)
The manor eventually passed to the heirs of William the brother of John, for in January 1482 the three great-granddaughters of William, (fn. 27) Edith wife of Alexander Darell, Elizabeth wife of George Cumberford, and Anne wife of Edward Lee, quitclaimed the manor from their heirs to the king and his heirs. (fn. 28) In 1486 the king granted the custody of 'the manor or lordship' of Creslow to Sir William Stonor, kt., for a term of twelve years at a rent of £40. (fn. 29) In and after the 16th century the manor and lands of Creslow were nearly always styled Creslow Pastures, (fn. 30) and the sheep and oxen for the use of the royal household were pastured there until the Commonwealth. The keeper of these pastures, who was appointed by the Crown, usually occupied the manor-house. (fn. 31) James Hurleston is mentioned as giving up the office in or before 1521, in which year Henry Webbe was appointed keeper. (fn. 32) In 1592 a certain James Quarles, clerk of the royal kitchen, was the keeper, (fn. 33) but he held so many posts at the same time that he was 'not able to do good service in any office,' (fn. 34) and had allowed the pasture, barns, &c., to fall into disrepair. (fn. 35) In 1596 the house and pastures were granted to Bennet Mayne for a term of twenty-one years. During the lifetime of James Quarles, Mayne was to pay him 21s. per annum, and after his death £10 per annum to the Royal Exchequer. (fn. 36) In 1604 a lease of the property in reversion was granted to Joseph Mayne for a term of thirty years, (fn. 37) and in 1635 the property was granted to Cornelius Holland for a term of eighteen years. This grant to Holland was renewed in 1645 for a term of twenty-one years, at a yearly rent of £200. (fn. 38) Cornelius Holland seems to have been unscrupulous in his efforts for self-advancement. His father is said to have died while imprisoned in the Fleet for debt, leaving him a poor boy at Court waiting upon Sir Henry Vane. He afterwards acquired the favour of Charles I, who gave him several posts of honour. (fn. 39) In spite of this, having become a member of the House of Commons for New Windsor in 1640, (fn. 40) he signed the king's death warrant in 1649, (fn. 41) and the following year bought the house and closes from the trustees for the sale of the king's lands. (fn. 42) A survey taken about this time gives a detailed account of the duties of the keeper. (fn. 43)
In 1658 Matthew Clark, coachman of Charles II, citing a promise previously made, petitioned him for the post of keeper of Creslow Pastures, should Charles be restored to the throne. (fn. 44) He evidently obtained a minor post, for in 1667 he asked for a lease of the fines in the counties of Denbigh and Flint, being unable to 'make any benefit of what the king intended him in Creslow Pastures.' (fn. 45) In 1660 Edward Mayne, presumably a descendant of Joseph Mayne, begged to be restored to the tenancy of the grounds of Creslow. (fn. 46)
At the Restoration Cornelius Holland was attainted of high treason and fled the country. (fn. 47) His estates were forfeited, whereupon the king granted the Pastures to Edward Backwell for a term of twenty-one years, and they were used again for provision of the king's household. (fn. 48) Backwell apparently surrendered his term before its expiration, (fn. 49) for in 1671 the king granted Creslow to trustees to the use of Sir Thomas Clifford, kt., for a term of sixty years at a rent of £10 in consideration of his services. (fn. 50) Sir Thomas Clifford, who was Secretary of State in 1672, (fn. 51) was created Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, Devon, in that year, (fn. 52) and in 1673 obtained a grant of Creslow in fee tail. (fn. 53) Since that date the estate has remained in the Clifford family, and is now held by the present Lord Clifford. (fn. 54)
The church of Creslow is first mentioned in the early part of the 13th century (fn. 55) as part of the possessions of the priory of St. John of Jerusalem (fn. 56) which retained the advowson until the Dissolution. (fn. 57) Its right was disputed in 1276 by Jordan de Kendal, acting on behalf of the heir of John de Tedmarsh, but judgement was pronounced for the prior with a proviso that the heir should have the right to reopen the dispute. (fn. 58)
The living, which was a rectory, was assessed at £4. 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 59) and at 60s. in 1535. (fn. 60) It escheated to the Crown at the Dissolution, and the last presentation to the church was made by Philip and Mary in 1554. (fn. 61) Elizabeth suppressed the rectory on her accession, as owing to the decrease in population the church had become a sinecure. (fn. 62) The building was eventually desecrated, and the inhabitants of the parish attend the church at Whitchurch.
There are apparently no endowed charities in this parish.