A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1927.
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Becentone, Bechentone (xi cent.); Becchamton (xii cent.); Bechehampton (xiii cent.).
This parish covers 1,528 acres, of which 1,229 acres are permanent grass, 229 arable and 28 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is clay, the subsoil limestone. The chief crops are wheat, oats, beans and barley. The parish is well-watered, and the low-lying land in the north-west, where the Ouse forms the boundary, is liable to flood. A stream which enters the parish on the south-east runs through it in a north-westerly direction, finally joining the River Ouse. Closely parallel to this stream is the road along which straggles the village, its north end bounded by a crossroad, on the far side of which stands the church of St. Mary. The land near the river lies low, usually less than 200 ft. above the ordnance datum, but on each side of the village it rises to over 300 ft. Hill Farm and Beachampton Grove also stand high.
Hall Farm, a little distance to the north of the church, on the south bank of the Ouse, is all that remains of Beachampton Hall, (fn. 2) long the residence of the lords of the manor. It is a two-storied house of stone with tiled roofs, and dates in its present state principally from the first quarter of the 17th century. The plan is irregular, the main block being placed north and south, and having wings at the northwest and south-east. The latter wing probably occupies the position of the solar and undercroft of a late 15th-century house, the gable at the west end of the south wall of this wing probably marking the site of the north end wall of the hall to which the solar and undercroft were attached. The surviving portion of the plan, with this exception, is entirely of the 17th century, and contains, at the south end of the principal block, a very fine staircase leading to the upper floor of the solar block. The mediaeval house to which the greater part of the present building formed an addition was removed in the 18th century, and some of its stones have been re-used in the outbuildings of the farm.
The southern portion of the house, which is no longer inhabited, remains very much in its original state. The staircase, on the south, rises in four flights, the solar or great chamber on the first floor of the south-east wing being entered by a doorway opening off the landing at the head of the two lower flights. Both these and the third flight have heavily moulded and carved strings and handrails, with turned balusters, and square carved newel-posts surmounted by square baluster-shaped finials supporting heraldic beasts holding shields, a lion, two unicorns with collars and chains, and a griffin. In the east wall of the great chamber is a large bay window with five mullioned and transomed lights in the principal face, and one in each return. Some heraldic glass of the 16th century still remains in the window. The walls have 17th-century oak panelling, now covered with paint and crowned by a later deal frieze. The stone fireplace on the south is now blocked and two of the windows on the north are hidden by the panelling. Below this portion of the house is a basement containing two rooms. The elevations are characteristic of the period, and many of the original mullioned windows survive, the gabled end of the south-east wing with the bay window lighting the great chamber being especially noteworthy. Fragments of a wall with gate piers, to the south of the house, appear to be of the early 17th century, and in a ruined wall to the north-west of the house is a reset doorway of the late 15th century.
To the south-east of the village lies the farmhouse known as Elmer School, a stone building of the last half of the 17th century, two stories in height with an attic, and having wood-mullioned windows and tiled roof, and an entrance porch with a roundheaded outer doorway on the principal front. The building has undergone alteration in the succeeding century, the roof, which is surmounted by a cupola, having been reconstructed with the present dormer windows. The plan is rectangular and the end walls are gabled. On the south side of the lane, opposite Elmer School, is the Grange, a two-storied farmhouse of stone, with a timber-framed upper story, dating from the first half of the 17th century. (fn. 3) On the south-west front is a projecting two-storied timber porch, with open balustered sides to the ground stage, and a gabled upper story with a mullioned window projecting on shaped brackets. Later additions have been made at the north-west and a wing has been added at the south-east.
Seventeenth-century field-names include Poor Man's Plot, Bridge Meade, (fn. 4) Shrives Close and Queen's Close, (fn. 5) the last-named recalling the fact that the Queens of England once held lands here as part of their dower.
Willis states that the parish was inclosed in 1579–80. (fn. 6) There is no Inclosure Act.
Before the Conquest Alric, a man and thegn of King Edward, held and could sell a manor in BEACHAMPTON which was in the possession of Walter Giffard in 1086. (fn. 7) It thus formed a parcel of the honour of Giffard, and the overlordship descended with that of Lillingstone Dayrell (q.v.). As in the case of this latter parish, Walter's Domesday tenant Hugh was succeeded by the Earls of Oxford, to whom a mesne lordship of both manors belonged, (fn. 8) their rights in Beachampton being mentioned as late as 1634. (fn. 9)
The first under-tenant recorded was Osmer de Beachampton, mentioned in 1175–6, (fn. 10) and the names occur in 1202 of Richard de Beachampton and Avis his wife. (fn. 11) Richard appears to have been identical with the Richard son of Roger de Beachampton who in the early 13th century granted his son Richard land in Beachampton, which included a virgate which Osmer had held. (fn. 12) Sir William de Beachampton, kt., son of Richard, was lord of this part of Beachampton by 1218. (fn. 13) He was probably the elder son of the younger Richard. (fn. 14) William, or a son of the same name, continued seised of the manor as late as 1254–5, (fn. 15) but John son of William succeeded before 1284–6. (fn. 16) In 1289 John de Beachampton conveyed to John Wolf and Amice his wife two-thirds of the manor, with the reversion of the remaining third after the death of William's widow Margery (fn. 17); this conveyance was made in favour of the heirs of Amice. (fn. 18) By 1302 Philip de Hardreshull was lord of the manor, (fn. 19) which he held in the right of his wife Amice, (fn. 20) evidently the widow of John Wolf. She died in 1332, (fn. 21) but Philip was still lord in 1333. (fn. 22) Robert Wolf, son of John, (fn. 23) however, held in 1346. (fn. 24) William Wolf was apparently lord in 1349, (fn. 25) but in the following year the estate was in the hands of guardians owing to the minority of the heir, (fn. 26) evidently the Philip Wolf who with Elizabeth his wife made a settlement of the manor in 1357. (fn. 27) Philip and Elizabeth Wolf still held in 1407, in which year mention is also made of their son John and Joan his wife. (fn. 28) Five years later John was seised of the manor. (fn. 29) A Roger Wolf of Beachampton was alive in 1414, (fn. 30) but there seems to be no definite evidence concerning the manor for the next forty years. In 1455 it was held by John Cornwall and Elizabeth his wife in the right of Elizabeth, (fn. 31) who may thus have been the daughter and heir of John Wolf. The Cornwalls quitclaimed the manor in that year to John Mody, (fn. 32) who had received a quitclaim in 1453 from William Joyntour, (fn. 33) probably a trustee. Beachampton passed within the next few years to Richard Pigott, who was slain at the battle of Wakefield in 1460. (fn. 34) His son John inherited the manor, and his widow Joan, who afterwards married Richard or William Forster, also held a share. (fn. 35) In 1490 Agnes, widow of John Mody, petitioned against both Joan and John for her dower of a third of the manor and of five messuages and 35 acres in Beachampton, (fn. 36) but the result of the suit is not apparent. The Pigotts, however, remained seised of the manor. John was followed by his son Robert, and he by his son Thomas. (fn. 37) In 1585, on the marriage of his eldest son Valentine with Eleanor Fortescue, Thomas Pigott made a settlement of the manor by which, after various provisions, it was eventually to remain to the sons of Valentine and Eleanor, and, in default of such, to the other children of Valentine. (fn. 38) Valentine died in 1590, during his father's lifetime; his heirs were his three daughters by a former marriage, Mary, Ursula and Judith, who shortly after married respectively Thomas Waterhouse, Christopher Pigott and William Tresham. (fn. 39)
Each heiress dealt with a third of the manor by fine in 1591–2, (fn. 40) but as Thomas Pigott was still alive at the time it was he, not they, who by the terms of the settlement was actually in seisin of the manor. (fn. 41) In June 1592 the heiresses and their husbands brought a suit in Chancery (fn. 42) in which they complained that their uncle, George Pigott, eldest surviving son of Thomas, was attempting to defraud them of the reversion of the manor after the death of Thomas, who was 'very old, and weak in his mind.' Both Ursula and Thomas Pigott died at the end of the year 1592. (fn. 43) Probably there were some further difficulties between George Pigott and his nieces, as in 1593–5 he received quitclaims of their shares, (fn. 44) and soon afterwards made a settlement of the whole manor. (fn. 45) A further settlement was made in 1599. (fn. 46) Sir Thomas Pigott, kt., George's son, was seised in 1609, in which year he conveyed Beachampton to Sir Thomas Bennett, kt. (fn. 47) The latter made a settlement in 1613 in favour of his second son Simon, (fn. 48) who also inherited Calverton (q.v.), with which Beachampton descended until the early 19th century. (fn. 49) It was then sold by the Marquess of Salisbury, the sale being completed in August 1807, to George Brooks, trustee of the will of Ann Brooks, to the use of her nephew, John Harrison of Shelswell, Oxfordshire, for life, with contingent remainder to her cousin James Walker. (fn. 50) John Harrison died in or about September 1834, without issue male, whereupon Beachampton passed to James Walker of Sand Hutton, Yorkshire, son of the above James Walker, who had died in 1829. (fn. 51) James Walker was created a baronet in 1868, (fn. 52) and the property has since continued in his family, Sir Robert James Milo Walker, the fourth baronet, being the present lord.
A considerable portion of land in the parish is owned by the Marquess of Lincolnshire, whose ancestor, according to Lipscomb, obtained it about 1806. (fn. 53)
A manor-house was in existence in 1333. (fn. 54) Record of it is again found in 1592, when it was apportioned to Valentine Pigott's widow after the death of Thomas. (fn. 55) It was included in the conveyance of 1609. (fn. 56)
A water-mill stood on this manor in 1086 and was valued at 10s. (fn. 57) In 1285 there were two watermills in Beachampton, which were conveyed in that year to Ellis de Tingewick and his heirs. (fn. 58) This conveyance was made by the lord of the second manor in Beachampton, but in 1324 Ellis de Tingewick's widow petitioned the lords of both manors for her dower in the two mills. (fn. 59) They were among the appurte ances of the united manor in 1593, (fn. 60) and 'the water-mill called the Upper Milne' was conveyed to Sir Thomas Bennett with the manor in 1609. (fn. 61)
A second manor in Beachampton, known afterwards as WHITYNGHAM'S MANOR, was held by Lewin of Nuneham (Courtenay) both in the time of King Edward and in 1086. (fn. 62) It passed to the Fitz Niel family with Lewin's manors in Mursley and Salden (q.v.), and followed the descent of these and of Whityngham's Manor in Great Kimble (fn. 63) until 1499, in which year Richard Whityngham sold his manor in Beachampton to Richard Emson. (fn. 64) Two years later Richard Emson sold it to John Pigott, (fn. 65) lord of the other moiety of Beachampton, with which this was doubtless amalgamated after that date, as no separate mention of it occurs again.
There were tenants holding this manor of the Fitz Niels in the 13th and 14th centuries. Robert de Bray, who is mentioned in 1277, (fn. 66) held 'half the vill of Beachampton' of Robert Fitz Niel in 1284–6. (fn. 67) He quitclaimed the manor in 1291–2 to Ralf de Bray (fn. 68) and died before 1298 leaving a widow Juliana. (fn. 69) Robert de Bray, son of Ralf, held in 1302–3, (fn. 70) and Ralf de Bray, possibly a younger son of Ralf, in 1316. (fn. 71) The second Ralf married Maud, and their son John was lord in 1346. (fn. 72) The return of Ralf's name as tenant in 1349 (fn. 73) is obviously erroneous, for the son, John de Bray, (fn. 74) continued to hold and is mentioned as late as 1360. (fn. 75) There is no further record of these tenants.
A third holding in Beachampton in 1086 consisted of a hide, previously held by Levric, a man of Azor, which at this date was held by Lewin of Roger de Iveri. (fn. 76) The latter's possessions were afterwards known as the honour of St. Walery, (fn. 77) and in 1254–5 it was found that Robert Fitz Niel had a hide of land in Beachampton which usually paid 2s. hidage per annum to the sheriff, but that this sum had during the past year been seized for the honour of St. Walery. (fn. 78)
The priory of Snelshall also held lands here, granted by the lords of both moieties in the 13th century. (fn. 79) In 1535 the prior paid an annual rent of 7s. 5d. to the Pigotts. (fn. 80) A terrier of 1581 belonging to the Beachampton free school mentions the 'houses and closes, lands and meadows belonging to the grange in Beachampton being now the lands of John Fortescue Esq. formerly belonging to the Priory of Snelshall and now in the tenure of William Elmer.' (fn. 81) This Elmer was no doubt the ancestor of the founder of the free school; the trustees of the Elmer charity still own land here.
The church of the ASSUMPTION OF ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel 28 ft. by 14 ft., with modern north vestry and organ chamber, nave 33 ft. by 14 ft. 6 in., north aisle 8 ft. 6 in. wide, south aisle 8 ft. wide with south porch, and west tower 6 ft. by 5 ft. 6 in. These measurements are all internal.
No detail survives of an earlier period than the north arcade of the nave, which is of the first half of the 14th century; the aisle then added was probably the first of a series of additions to a previously existing church consisting of a chancel and an aisleless nave. Further alterations and additions seem to have been undertaken a few years later, the chancel being rebuilt and an aisle thrown out on the south side, while the clearstory was added to the nave and a tower built at the west end. In the early part of the 15th century both aisles were much altered. The church was restored in 1873–4, and again more recently. The chancel and the wooden bell-chamber and spire of the tower have been rebuilt, while the north vestry and the organ chamber and the south porch are modern. The walling generally is of rubble.
No original features remain in the east and north walls of the chancel; the windows at the east and north-east are modern, and a modern archway opens to the north organ chamber. At the east end of the south wall of the chancel is a much-restored 14thcentury window of two lights with uncusped tracery in a pointed head. To the west of this is a pointed doorway of the same date, and at the west end of the wall is a square-headed two-light window of c. 1600, (fn. 82) both features, as in the case of the southeast window, having been reset and restored. The chancel arch is of two pointed and chamfered orders springing from moulded capitals supported by carved corbels, that on the north having a grotesque head, and that on the south large leaved foliage. In the east wall of the vestry is a reset 15th-century window.
The 14th-century north and south arcades of the nave are each of three bays with pointed arches of two chamfered orders carried by clustered columns having moulded capitals and bases, the mouldings of the capitals in the south arcade being of a slightly later section. The east and west responds continue the outer order, the inner order being carried by foliated or grotesque corbels with moulded capitals. The nave roof is of low pitch, and on the tie-beam of the eastern truss is the date 1622.
The north and south aisles are each lighted from the side by two square-headed early 15th-century windows in the north and south walls, the eastern windows being of three lights and the western of two. At the east end of the north aisle is a modern archway to the vestry, and at the east end of the south aisle is a pointed late 15th-century window of three transomed and cinquefoiled lights with a traceried head, on either side of which are plain image brackets, the southern one being a restoration. The window in the west wall of the north aisle and the north doorway are modern. To the east of the latter is a stoup recess with a round head, the basin being destroyed, and in the same wall is a square-headed aumbry. The pointed south doorway, which is of two continuous chamfered orders, is of the 14th century, but has been much restored. At the east end of the south aisle is a 15th-century piscina with a trefoiled head and round basin. The outward thrust of the north wall has necessitated the erection of a flying buttress spanning the aisle.
The tower is of three stages, crowned by a plain parapet, above which rises the timber bell-chamber and shingled spire, originally built in 1680, but much altered in the last century. The western angles are strengthened by diagonal buttresses, stopping below the third stage. The tower arch is of two orders, both chamfered, the outer brought to the square of the plain jambs by broach-stops and the inner carried by roughly-worked corbels. The two-light west window of the ground stage has modern tracery. The uppermost of the stages in the stone portion of the tower has a rectangular 14th-century opening with tracery, placed low down. The remains of a flight of steps to the intermediate stage of the tower can be seen against the west wall of the north aisle.
The font and fittings are modern.
On the south wall of the chancel is a curious and elaborate monument with a figure in grave-clothes and an inscription on a brass plate commemorating Matthew Pigott, a former rector (d. 1598). A modern slab in the north aisle contains the brass, with figure, of William Bawdyn of Beachampton, blacksmith (d. 1600). In the south aisle is a brass to Alice wife of George Baldwyn, and daughter of William Mathew of Calverton (d. 1611). The brass is engraved with her figure and those of her two sons and two daughters. At the east end of the nave is a brass to William Elmer (d. 1652), a benefactor to the parish. A modern recess in the north wall of the chancel contains a monument commemorating Simon Bennett (d. 1682), Grace his wife, and their children. The monument is of marble and of elaborate design, consisting of a black marble pedestal, on which stands a white marble bust under a classical canopy, supported by Ionic columns and bearing the arms and crest of Bennett. A floor slab in the chancel commemorates Sir Simon Bennett, bart. (d. 1631).
There is a ring of five bells which were recast from three old bells in 1912, and a sanctus. The original treble, inscribed 'Sancta Margareta Ora Pro Nobis,' bore the initials of Johane Sturdy, the widow of John Sturdy, and must have been cast between 1458 and 1461, the years of her widowhood (fn. 83); the second was probably of the 14th century, and bore the inscription, in Gothic capitals, '+ Nos: prece: sanctorum: defendas: Xpe: tuorum'; the tenor was inscribed 'Robert Atton made me 1633 W.E.' The sanctus is dated 1695 and is probably by Richard Chandler.
The older plate consists of a chalice, paten and flagon and two large plates. There are also a modern chalice, two patens and a flagon.
The registers begin in 1628.
The church of Beachampton was held at an early date in separate moieties by the two lords of the vill. Richard Fitz Niel granted his moiety to the priory of Luffield (fn. 84) probably in the 12th century. (fn. 85) The priors from that time until 1470 presented a rector to their moiety. (fn. 86) The other half was held by the Beachampton family and their successors, the earliest presentation recorded being made in 1218 by Sir William de Beachampton. (fn. 87) Their incumbent appears to have ranked as a chaplain. (fn. 88) In 1470 an agreement was come to by the Pigotts and the prior by which the two moieties were united under one incumbent, (fn. 89) who was presented by the priors and the lords of the manor alternately. (fn. 90)
The manorial portion always descended with the manor. (fn. 91) That held by Luffield was granted after the Dissolution, with the site of the priory, to Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, (fn. 92) and continued to be held by this family and their heirs the Temples as late as 1701. (fn. 93)
In 1687 both Viscountess Baltinglass, the granddaughter and co-heir of Sir Arthur Throckmorton, (fn. 94) and Mrs. Bennett were returned as presenting to the living. (fn. 95) Willis states that this was the result of a claim to the patronage set up by Lady Baltinglass, (fn. 96) but that all the Luffield right had been sold to the Pigotts about 1610. (fn. 97) The latter statement does not appear to be correct, but it is possible that some agreement was afterwards come to between the Temple heirs and the lords of the main manor, as the latter continued sole patrons as late as 1798. (fn. 98) In 1811 William Palmer presented William Jocelyn Palmer, (fn. 99) who vacated the living and presented the next rector in 1815. (fn. 100) By 1827 the patronage was vested in the Master and Fellows of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, (fn. 101) by whom it is still held.
An annual rent from half a yardland was paid for the maintenance of a light in the church. (fn. 102)
For the charity of Sir Simon Bennett, bart., founded by will, 1631, see under parish of Calverton in Newport Hundred. The share of this parish in 1910 amounted to £16 15s. 10d., of which £12 was applied in clothing and £4 15s. 10d. was carried to the churchwardens' general account.
Charity of Simon Bennett, or the Bradwell estate (see under parish of Calverton). In 1911 the share of this parish amounted to £9 10s., being five twentyfirst parts of the net income, which was distributed in coal.
The following charities were founded by will of William Elmer, proved at Westminster 3 May 1653, namely:
(1) The school, for which see article on Schools. (fn. 103) The charity is now administered under a scheme of the Board of Education of 19 January 1906. A sum of £352 17s. consols is held by the official trustees, producing £8 16s. 4d. yearly.
(2) Charity for clothing sixteen poor men and women. The trust property consists of a messuage called The Grange and several parcels of land, containing together about 60 a. and two cottages, producing together about £50 a year. The official trustees also hold £69 18s. 5d. consols, producing £1 14s. 8d. yearly. The will directs that three of the men and three of the women should belong to Beachampton, one man and one woman to Maids' Moreton, one man and one woman to Nash, two men and two women to Whaddon, one man and one woman to Calverton. After providing coats and gowns to the sixteen beneficiaries, the net income is paid proportionately to the parish officers of the five parishes specified, and applied for the benefit of poor families.
(3) Charity for apprenticing, consisting of 4a. 1r. 24p., formerly known as Water Close, now as 'Five Pound Meadow,' let at £5 a year.
(4) Bridge Trust, endowed with 2a. 2r. in Calverton of the rental value of £3 a year, and £5 0s. 6d. consols with the official trustees.
(5) Charity for the trustees, consisting of 3a. 1r. 17p. in Side Meadow, let at £2 18s. a year.
(6) Charity for the poor of Beachampton, endowed with 3a. 1r. in Whaddon, let at £3 a year.
(7) For charity for the poor of Whaddon and Nash see under Whaddon parish in Cottesloe Hundred.