Parishes : Clifton Reynes

Pages 316-323

A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1927.

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Cliftone (xi cent.); Clifton next Olneye (fn. 1) (xiv cent.).

Clifton Reynes is bounded on the north and northwest by the Ouse, where the land is liable to floods; it rises in the south-east to 273 ft. above ordnance datum. The Bedford and Northampton branch of the Midland railway crosses the north of the parish. The area is 1,454 acres, of which 387 acres are arable, 967 acres permanent grass, and 50 acres woods and plantations. (fn. 2) The soil is gravel, stone, and loam, the subsoil chiefly stone; the chief crops are cereals and beans.

The small compact village stands on the hill overlooking the Ouse and the town of Olney, and has St. Mary's Church on the west, with the rectory, a 17thcentury stone building incorporating remains of an earlier house, but much altered and restored, to the south of the church. In a terrier of 1639 it is described as of five bays of stone covered with thatch, the whole 'contained in eight rooms.' (fn. 3) About 1830 what is said to have been a small 15th-century oratory, which adjoined the house on the east, was pulled down.

North-west of the church stood the house built by Alexander Small on his purchase of the manor c. 1750. It was destroyed about 1850, (fn. 4) and nothing now remains to indicate its site save the wall round the garden, orchard, fish-pond and portion of the avenue. (fn. 5) The dovecote attached to the manor is still standing in the centre of the village; it is a circular building of 17th-century date with stone walls and a thatched roof.

In the village are some 17th-century houses, among them the Robin Hood Inn.

The common fields were inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1822, (fn. 6) and the award is dated 1824. (fn. 7) According to Sheahan that part of the parish which belonged to the principal manor (Reynes) was inclosed at a remote and unknown period. (fn. 8) One great field of arable land, in extent about 12 score acres, was inclosed about 1560 by Francis Lowe, then lord of that manor. (fn. 9)

Among place-names have been found: Thornydols Close (fn. 10) (xvi cent.); Water Hills, Revell Mead, Aldridge Wood, Pepies Grove, Long Meadow Dusse, (fn. 11) Heirons Grove (fn. 12) (xvii cent.).


Osulf, a thegn of King Edward, held and could sell CLIFTON, afterwards CLIFTON REYNES or REYNES, a manor of 4 hides, 1 virgate of which was held by Alric his man. (fn. 13) By 1086 this manor had come to Robert de Toeni. (fn. 14) He was succeeded by the Daubeneys, (fn. 15) whose land passed about 1248 by the marriage of Isabel, daughter and heir of William Daubeney, to Robert de Ros, (fn. 16) overlord in 1284–6. (fn. 17) The connexion of the Ros family with Clifton existed as late as 1428. (fn. 18)

The under-tenants in 1086 were William de Borard (Boscroard, Bosco Roardi, Bosco Rahara, Bosco Roaldi) and his brother, apparently named Roger. They had also taken possession of 3 virgates formerly held by Suert and Turbert, which they had concealed to the king's damage, as the men of the hundred asserted. (fn. 19) The Borards also held Stathern in Leicestershire, and a Simon de Borard is mentioned in 1166 as holding three fees in that country of William Daubeney. (fn. 20) A late Simon de Borard revolted against King John, but returned to his allegiance in 1217. (fn. 21) A son of the same name, (fn. 22) who came of age before 1230, (fn. 23) held Clifton in the middle of the century, (fn. 24) and is said to have died some time after 1260, the latest reference found bearing date October 1261. (fn. 25)

His successor, Richard de Borard, probably his son, (fn. 26) is mentioned in 1278, (fn. 27) and is returned as lord of Clifton in 1284. (fn. 28) He is mentioned in connexion with Stathern in 1290, (fn. 29) and in 1293 paid £20 to be exempted for life from bearing the arms of a knight. (fn. 30) His sister and heir Joan is said to have married Thomas Reynes, (fn. 31) from whose family Clifton received its distinguishing appellation, and their son Ralf Reynes (fn. 32) held Clifton in 1302–3. (fn. 33) Two wooden figures in the church may commemorate this Ralf and his second wife Mabel, daughter of Sir Richard Chamberlain of Petsoe in Emberton. (fn. 34) He must have died before 1310, in which year Sir Roger Tyringham had the custody of his land and heir. (fn. 35) This heir, a son Thomas, was in possession of Clifton in 1316, (fn. 36) and was knight of the shire for the Parliaments of 1339, 1343, 1344, and 1346. (fn. 37) He is mentioned as in possession of the manor in 1344 (fn. 38) and in 1346. (fn. 39) In 1354 he settled the manor on himself and wife Joan for life, with remainder to Thomas their son and his issue, and contingent remainder to the issue male of Thomas the father, and to Joan, Cecily, and Agnes his daughters. (fn. 40) It was probably the son Thomas who was knight of the shire in 1369 and 1377, (fn. 41) and made in 1368 a settlement of Clifton Reynes, (fn. 42) which he confirmed twenty years later. (fn. 43) He appears to have died about this date, (fn. 44) and was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 45) who is returned as lord in 1394. (fn. 46) By his first wife, Katherine Scudamore, who was alive in 1388, John had a son Thomas, who died during his father's lifetime in 1416, leaving a son John, (fn. 47) who died an infant five years later, (fn. 48) when his grandfather John claid claim to the estate. (fn. 49) By his second wife he had a son Walter, born in 1403, (fn. 50) and by his third wife Alice, on whom he made a settlement of the manor in 1427, (fn. 51) he is said to have left a son John. (fn. 52) John Reynes died in the following year, and Walter Reynes, his son, was found to be his heir. (fn. 53) In 1438 he was sued, unsuccessfully, however, by Joan daughter of Henry Street and of Cecily, daughter of John Reynes by his first wife Katherine, who asserted that in 1388 Clifton Reynes had been settled on John's issue by Katherine, of whom Thomas and Denise his sister had died without issue, leaving Cecily as sole heir. (fn. 54) In 1430 Joan's brother, William Street, had laid claim to lands in Hertfordshire as heir to his cousin John Reynes, who died an infant in 1421. (fn. 55) As wife of John Anstey, Joan Street renewed her claim in 1440, after the death of Walter Reynes without issue, another claimant being her half-cousin Margaret, wife of John Gibbon and daughter of Margery, sister of the whole blood to the said Walter. (fn. 56) It appears, however, that the manor went to John son of John Reynes by his third wife Alice, who is said to have died in 1451, (fn. 57) when Clifton passed to Thomas Reynes of Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire, who had succeeded his father Thomas in that year, (fn. 58) the latter being son of Richard, brother of the John Reynes of Clifton who died in 1428. (fn. 59) This Thomas Reynes, who was sheriff of the county in 1462, (fn. 60) appears to be identical with the Thomas who died in April 1471. (fn. 61) He was succeeded by John Reynes, probably his son, alive in March 1498–9, (fn. 62) who left a daughter and heir Elizabeth, the wife of Richard Dicons. (fn. 63) In 1518 Dicons obtained a quitclaim of rights in half the manor from George Pierpoint, (fn. 64) son or grandson and heir by another husband of the Margaret who claimed half the manor in the suit of 1440. (fn. 65) The Dicons appear, however, to have renounced their interest in Clifton at an earlier date to Thomas Reynes, clerk, uncle of Elizabeth, (fn. 66) who presented to the church in February 1507–8 (fn. 67) and died about the end of 1524. (fn. 68) By his will, proved 18 February 1524–5, he left all his household stuff in Marston parsonage to his nieces, the three daughters of his sister. (fn. 69) He was succeeded by his brother Richard, (fn. 70) during whose tenure of the manor a renunciation of rights appears to have been made in 1528 by Lawrence Taillard, (fn. 71) probably son and heir of Elizabeth wife of William Taillard, and daughter and co-heir of Joan Anstey, the claimant in the suit of 1440. (fn. 72) Richard Reynes settled Clifton on his wife Maud, (fn. 73) and left three daughters and co-heirs, of whom one married Thomas Lowe, esquire of the body and captain under Henry VIII. (fn. 74) In 1540 the Lowes bought up the rights of Sir Robert Dormer, (fn. 75) to whom Clifton may have been mortgaged, and in 1544 Thomas Lowe died seised of the manor, which passed to his son Francis. (fn. 76) Francis got into debt, and into money difficulties, and repeatedly mortgaged the manor. (fn. 77) With his wife Thomasina he was dealing with the manor in 1591. (fn. 78) He was succeeded by his son Reynes Lowe, (fn. 79) who died in 1618, (fn. 80) leaving a son Reynes, a minor, who came of age in 1627. (fn. 81) He was living in 1651, (fn. 82) but by 1661 had been succeeded by James Lowe, (fn. 83) his son, (fn. 84) who with his wife Elizabeth was holding the manor in 1668. (fn. 85) In 1673 James Lowe and his mother, Mary Lowe, sold Clifton Reynes for £13,500 to Sir John Maynard, (fn. 86) Elizabeth wife of John Curtis renouncing any claim to it in the following year for £1,200. (fn. 87) This Sir John Maynard was a celebrated Parliamentarian, but also one of the first serjeants called at the Restoration, and termed therefore by Pepys 'a turncoat.' He died in October 1690, and his estate, according to his will, dated 21 March 1689–90, became the right of Elizabeth wife of Sir Henry Hobart, bart., and Mary wife of Thomas second Earl of Stamford, daughters of his son Joseph, who had predeceased him. (fn. 88) An Act of Parliament was passed in 1694 for settling the estate, (fn. 89) and in 1696 the Hobarts levied a fine of Clifton Reynes. (fn. 90) Sir Henry Hobart was killed in a duel in 1698, (fn. 91) and his widow died in 1701, (fn. 92) leaving an eight year old son, Sir John Hobart. (fn. 93) In 1711 Sir John Hobart settled his half of the manor on his eldest son and heirs male. (fn. 94) His aunt Mary Countess of Stamford died without issue, (fn. 95) and the sole interest in the manor therefore devolved on him. Sir John Hobart as Earl of Buckinghamshire sold it about 1750 to Alexander Small, surgeon of Chelsea, (fn. 96) who died two years later, (fn. 97) leaving a legacy to his widow Martha and settling the manor on trustees to the use of his infant son Alexander. (fn. 98) The eldest son of this Alexander, another Alexander Small, is mentioned in connexion with Clifton in 1785, (fn. 99) when he apparently joined in levying a fine to cut off an entail on the manor. He died in 1794, (fn. 100) and his father survived until 1816, when he was succeeded by his daughter Martha Elizabeth Anne Small, (fn. 101) to whom he had bequeathed the manor for life, with remainder to an illegitimate son, Arthur Small. (fn. 102) This daughter married in 1819 Richard Hurd Lucas, who then became, in right of his wife, lord of the manor. (fn. 103) He had been succeeded before 1831 by Arthur George Small, who was then holding it. (fn. 104) It was sold some years later by the Smalls to Joseph Robinson, (fn. 105) who was still the owner in 1877. (fn. 106) By 1899 it had passed into the possession of Mr. James West Scorer, the present lord of the manor.

Old Dovecote, Clifton Reynes

Reynes. Checky or and gules a quarter crmine.

Lowe. Argent a bend azure with three wolves' heads razed argent thereon.

Two estates in Clifton, one of 1½ hides and the other of 1 hide and half a virgate, which had been held respectively by Alvric, a man of Bishop Wulfwig, and by two thegns, men of Alric son of Goding, were assessed in 1086 among the lands of the Countess Judith. (fn. 107) They afterwards formed part of the honour of Huntingdon, (fn. 108) the overlordship rights passing from the Hastings (fn. 109) to the Greys of Ruthyn, (fn. 110) whose interest in Clifton was acknowledged as late as 1475. (fn. 111) These two estates, the undertenants of which in 1086 were Niel and Roger de Olney respectively, correspond to the later Butlers and Wakes Manors, which extended into the adjacent parish of Newton Blossomville. WAKES MANOR, which owed its distinguishing name to the family who afterwards held it in fee, appears to have passed from Roger de Olney to a descendant, Simon de Olney, who is mentioned in connexion with onethird of a hide in Olney in 1199. (fn. 112) He, or a successor of the same name, was said to hold a quarter of a fee in Clifton of the Earl of Arundel in the next century, (fn. 113) and is probably identical with the Simon de Breynes holding a quarter of a fee of Henry Hastings in 1241. (fn. 114) His successors in the manor, the Wakes, first appear in Clifton in 1281, when Hugh Wake and Isabel his wife made a life grant of land held in her right to Roger de Stowmarket. (fn. 115) Hugh son of the above Hugh Wake (fn. 116) was returned as lord of this manor in 1302, (fn. 117) and in 1305 he and his wife Anderina acquired additional land in Clifton. (fn. 118) Hugh Wake died before 1313, in which year his widow Anderina held alone, (fn. 119) but another Hugh Wake, probably their son, was holding this property in 1318 jointly with Isabel his wife. (fn. 120) He was still alive in 1359, (fn. 121) but had been succeeded in 1375 by Ralph Basset le Riche, (fn. 122) whose widow Joan in 1395 claimed a third of Wakes Manor, first so called, in dower. (fn. 123) It descended with the Basset manor of Newton Blossomville (fn. 124) (q.v.), but after 1423 lost its distinguishing name of Wakes (except for a single late reference in 1686 (fn. 125) ) and probably coalesced with the manor of Butlers, which had been in the same ownership since 1305, to form the manor of CLIFTON. Clifton was retained by the Mordaunts, Earls of Peterborough, when they alienated Newton Blossomville, and descended with the title (fn. 126) until 1789, when the fifth and last earl sold it to John Higgins of Turvey House (Bedfordshire) for £1,400. (fn. 127) John Higgins died in 1813, and was succeeded by his son Thomas Charles Higgins. (fn. 128) He is described in 1822 as holding in his own right, and also as lessee of Queen's College, Oxford. (fn. 129) He died at Leamington in 1865, (fn. 130) shortly after which date the sole interest in the estate appears to have been acquired by Queen's College, Oxford. (fn. 131)

Wake. Or two bars gules with three roundels gules in the chief.

That part of the Countess Judith's lands which afterwards became known as BUTLERS MANOR took its name from a family, a member of which, John Butler (Pincerna), held in Clifton in the early 13th century. (fn. 132) A William Butler and Alice his wife had lands here in 1275, (fn. 133) but the head of the family appears to have been Simon Butler. (fn. 134) He was succeeded by Peter Butler, lord in 1284 (fn. 135) and 1302, (fn. 136) who with Margery his wife in 1305 alienated lands here and the reversion of the dower of Joan, the widow of Simon Butler, to Hugh Wake. (fn. 137) Butlers, first so called in 1395, (fn. 138) henceforward descended with Wakes, but lost its distinguishing name after 1423, probably coalescing with Wakes to form the later Clifton Manor.

Six virgates of land in Newton and Clifton belonged to the honour of Yealmpton (Devon) in the early 13th century. (fn. 139) By 1284–6 the overlordship rights had passed to Reynold Grey, (fn. 140) and they were held in 1442 by Richard Grey de Wilton. (fn. 141) The ownership in fee was vested in the Visdelou family, and in 1188 [Ralf] Moryn paid 1 mark for the farm of Newton which had belonged to Humphrey Visdelou. (fn. 142) A later Humphrey Visdelou was in possession in the early 13th century, (fn. 143) and in 1227 he claimed land here against Robert de Flurs and Hawise his wife. (fn. 144) In 1256 he granted a rent of 2s. in Newton to William de Nottingham and Philippa his wife, (fn. 145) and in 1279 they acquired a messuage and half a virgate of land there from Felise, widow of William de Falconberg. (fn. 146) John de Nottingham claimed common of pasture in Newton and Clifton in 1307 against John Visdelou and others, (fn. 147) and in 1312 Simon de Nottingham and Amice his wife granted land in Newton Blossomville and Clifton to Simon le Bedel of Keysoe (Bedfordshire). (fn. 148) This property is mentioned again in 1442, but the names of the tenants are not detailed. (fn. 149)

Visdelou. Argent three wolves' heads sable.

A manor of 1½ hides in Clifton was held before the Conquest by Alli, a thegn of King Edward. In 1086 it was held by Morcar of the Bishop of Coutances, who had received it in exchange for Bleadon in Somerset. (fn. 150)

Another hide there held in the time of King Edward by Wulfwin, a man of Deus, was held in 1086 by Turbert of the Bishop of Coutances. (fn. 151)

There was a mill on the Bishop of Coutances' land in 1086 (fn. 152) and a moiety of a mill worth 11s. and 125 eels from a fishery on Countess Judith's holding. (fn. 153) Two mills were held with Reynes Manor in 1544 (fn. 154) and in 1627. (fn. 155) Three water-mills were held with it in 1673. (fn. 156) There is a corn-mill on the Ouse just over the western border.


The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel measuring internally about 29 ft. 8 in. by 15 ft. 2 in., north chapel 24 ft. 7 in. by 9 ft. 11 in., nave 31 ft. by 12 ft. 5 in., north aisle 46 ft. by 12 ft., south aisle 45 ft. 8 in. by 11 ft. 6 in., west tower 12 ft. by 11 ft. and a south porch 7 ft. by 8 ft. 6 in.

The lower stage of the tower is the only remaining portion of a 12th-century church, consisting probably of a chancel, nave and western tower. To this church the existing aisles were added in the 13th century. Early in the 14th century the chancel was rebuilt and widened towards the south, and about the same period the present upper stage was added to the tower. Shortly after the completion of the chancel the north chapel was added, and about 1360 the nave arcades were rebuilt, the original proportions of the nave being preserved, and the chancel arch was enlarged to match. The tower arch, which is of the same general type, was widened a few years later, and early in the 15th century the present clearstory was built, its addition above the tall narrow bays of the arcades giving an unusual height to the somewhat narrow nave. The eastern portion of the south wall of the south aisle, the internal face of which leans outward very considerably, may have been refaced and straightened externally in the same century, when the south-east window was inserted. The south-east angle, however, has been underpinned with headstones from the churchyard, and it is possible that the straightening of the wall is modern. It is difficult to assign a date to the porch, but it may be of the 16th century. The north wall of the north aisle was rebuilt in 1801, but the west wall appears to have been left standing. The portion of the aisle overlapping the tower is divided by a stud partition from the rest of the aisle, being now used as a storehouse, and has a lean-to roof sloping from east to west. The church was restored in 1883–4, and in 1905 an arch was built between the north chapel and aisle in place of a partition which had been inserted at a late period. The walling generally is of limestone rubble, and the nave and aisle roofs are lead-covered, that of the north chapel being tiled.

The chancel is a good example of early 14thcentury design, and retains most of its original details. The east window is square-headed and of three cinquefoiled lights; the tracery and head are of the 15th century, but the jambs appear to be of the 14th century. Beneath the sill internally is a partially restored stringcourse, which is dropped on either side of the window, and returned for a short distance upon the side walls. Above the string-course, to the north of the window, is a clumsily moulded image bracket, and beneath it is a smaller bracket, plain and rough, doubtless for a light. (fn. 157) The north side of the chancel is chiefly occupied by an early 14th-century arcade of two bays opening to the chapel. The arches are two-centred and of three orders; the outer order, which projects to allow for the plastering of the wall, now removed, is plain-chamfered, the intermediate order is hollowchamfered, and the inner order is moulded with a swelled chamfer. The central column is octagonal, and the inner orders are carried on the east and west responds by semi-octagonal pilasters. Of the three windows in the south wall the two eastern are each of two cinquefoiled ogee lights with quatrefoiled tracery in a two-centred head. The rear-arches are moulded, and are inclosed by labels with large head-stops, and there are also labels to the external heads. The westernmost window is a single cinquefoiled light transomed to form a low-side window. Between the two eastern windows is a doorway with a two-centred external head of two orders continuously moulded with the jambs, and a moulded rear-arch inclosed by a label with stops carved as dogs' heads. At the east end of the wall are three graduated sedilia with moulded sills in range with a piscina. The head of the piscina is cinquefoiled, but the sedilia have trefoiled heads with sub-foliated soffit cusps; only the head of the westernmost sedile, the cusps of which have leaf-carved spandrels, is original, the heads of the eastern pair having been restored. All spring from circular shafts with moulded capitals and bases and from half shafts against the back of the recess. The late 14th-century chancel arch is of two moulded orders with responds composed of three engaged shafts separated by small rolls, and having moulded capitals of octagonal form with a common upper member to their abaci; the bases are moulded and stand on octagonal plinths. To the south of the arch, cutting partly into the splay of the low-side window, is a 16th-century squint from the south aisle with a cinquefoiled segmental head. Externally the walls are crowned by a modern embattled parapet.

The east window of the north chapel has a twocentred head and is of two plain lights with a plain spandrel. Most of the stonework is modern, but the internal jambs and rear-arch are of original early 14th-century date. In the north wall, which has no windows, is a fine early 14th-century tomb recess with shafted jambs and an elaborately moulded drop two-centred head having cinquefoiled and sub-foliated soffit-cusping. Inclosing the head is a label with spirited head-stops, and over the apex and the springing are three blank shields.

The nave arcades are each of three bays, with piers and responds similar in detail to the responds of the chancel arch, and sharply pointed two-centred arches of two wave-moulded orders separated by a deep casement. The east responds are nearly continuous with those of the chancel arch, the suite of attached shafts being interrupted only by a narrow swelled chamfer masking the eastern internal angles of the nave. The arches have labels with uncarved stops on the nave face. Over the south-west pier is a square recess with moulded edges; it appears to have been originally closed by a grille and may possibly have contained relics. The clearstory has two windows on either side, and one in the east gable over the chancel arch, each of two trefoiled lights with vertical quatrefoil tracery in a two-centred head. The walls are crowned externally by an enriched cornice and embattled parapet, the latter having evidently been designed for a roof of lower pitch than the present one.

The rebuilt north aisle has two pointed three-light windows with a plain pointed doorway between them. An inscribed stone let into the wall externally bears the date 1801. The weather-mould of the original roof remains upon the north wall of the tower. The east window of the south aisle is an early 14th-century insertion of three lights with intersecting tracery in a pointed head inclosed by an external label. To the north of the window is the opening of the squint to the chancel, which has a segmental cinquefoiled head like that on the chancel face. At the east end of the south wall, placed too high in the wall to be in its original position, is a rectangular piscina recess with a round basin. To the west of this is a squareheaded 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled ogee lights with vertical tracery in the head, inserted evidently for the better lighting of the aisle altar. The south doorway, opposite the third bay of the south arcade, has been reconstructed, but the label appears to be original 14th-century work. At the west end of the wall is a plain 13th-century lancet with wide internal splays and a flat segmental reararch, while in the west wall is a similar but larger lancet with an external label. Externally the walls are crowned by a cornice and embattled parapet like that of the nave.

The tower is of two stages with an embattled parapet, the lower stage containing two stories. The tower arch is two-centred and of three moulded orders, the inner orders springing from responds of a more elaborate plan than those of the nave arcades and chancel arch, but having capitals of the same design. Their bases appear to be made up of 13thcentury capitals, perhaps those of the responds of an earlier tower arch. The outer order is continuous on the nave face, but on the west face dies upon the side walls of the tower. In the west wall of the ground stage is a late 15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights within a four-centred head. In the east and west walls of the ringing chamber are plain round-headed 12th-century lights, the former now looking into the nave. The early 14th-century bell-chamber is lighted from each side by a large trefoiled light with an external label.

Plan of Clifton Reynes Church

The porch is quite plain, and has stone seats on either side and a pointed outer entrance with chamfered angles.

The nave has a low-pitched king-post roof with wall brackets resting on wooden corbels; on the tiebeam of the eastern truss is inscribed 'H O R W C 1637.' The roof of the north aisle must certainly be earlier than the date of its rebuilding; the timbers are probably those of a 16th-century roof re-used.

The font is a fine example of late 14th-century work. The bowl is octagonal and has a small shaft at each angle, from each pair of which springs a segmental arch forming a niche which contains a figure. In the niche on the north face are figures of the Virgin and Child, with St. Margaret and St. Katherine in the niches on either side, and on the south is the Trinity, with St. Peter and St. Paul in the flanking niches. In the east and west niches are St. Michael and St. Mary Magdalene or, more likely, St. Barbara, as the object held in the hands resembles a tower rather than the box of ointment. The lower edge of the bowl is enriched with heads and foliage, and each face of the octagonal stem, which stands on a moulded base, has a traceried panel. The altar table is of the 17th century. Two chairs of the same period with carved backs and shaped arms also remain in the chancel.

The south-west window of the chancel and the east clearstory window of the nave contain fragments of late 14th-century glass, which are said to have been brought from Emberton Church. In the former window is the figure of a bishop with a border composed of various fragments, and in the head of the window are fragments of canopy work with a leopard's head. In the north light of the east clearstory window is an imperfect figure of a saint holding a book, and in the south light is the head of another saint, both being made up with fragments of canopy work. The main lights of the western of the two north windows of the clearstory contain some good heraldic glass of the early 15th century, evidently contemporary with the clearstory. The west light, which has ornamental quarries and borders, contains a shield of Reynes impaling Reynes, while in the east light, replaced inside out, is a shield of arms—Gules a cheveron between three scallops or—for Chamberlain. In the partition cutting off the west end of the north aisle is set part of the panelled side of a 15th-century table tomb comprising three quatrefoils, in one of which remains a shield charged with two bars. Several other fragments of moulded stone are preserved at the west end of the same aisle. These include two traceried panels of the 14th century, which must have formed part of the side of an altar or tomb, several moulded jamb-stones of 15th-century section, and a fragment of the edge of a moulded slab.

In the recess in the north wall of the north chapel is a pair of wooden effigies representing a knight and his lady, perhaps Sir Ralf Reynes, who held Clifton in 1302–3, and his second wife Mabel, (fn. 158) daughter of Sir Richard Chamberlain. The knight has crossed legs and wears a mail coif with a fillet, a hauberk of mail covered by a short surcoat and showing the haketon beneath, hose of mail with knee-cops, and the straps of spurs, which are now gone. With his right hand he grasps his sword, which is suspended from a plain belt hung obliquely, and his feet rest on a dog, the head being supported by two cushions. The lady wears a coverchief and wimple, a kirtle with tight sleeves and a long sleeveless cote. Beneath her head are two cushions and at her feet is a dog.

Upon an elaborate early 14th-century table tomb in the west bay of the chancel arcade is a second pair of wooden effigies of a knight and lady in the costume of c. 1320. These would seem to be Sir Thomas Reynes, son of Ralf Reynes and Mabel, who was living as late as 1354, and his wife Joan, who by the heraldry on the tomb appears to have been a Tyringham. The knight is represented as wearing what may be intended for a bascinet with camail, or possibly a coif of mail with a steel cap beneath it. Over his mail hauberk, which has a pointed skirt, appear to be two garments, a short cyclas-like surcoat and a pourpoint with an embattled fringe. Beneath the hauberk appears the lower edge of the haketon. His legs are crossed, and are protected by hose of mail and knee-cops. On his left arm is a small heater-shaped shield. The sword has gone, and his right hand has been broken away. The feet rest on a dog and the head on two cushions. The lady wears a wimple and a coverchief, held in place by fillets passing over the crown of her head and round her temples, a kirtle with close-fitting sleeves and a sleeveless cote. At her feet is a dog, and under her head are two cushions. The tomb upon which these effigies are placed has its sides panelled with quatrefoils containing shields. Those on the north side, beginning from the east, are as follows: three arches, for Arches; a cheveron cheeky between three scallops, for Chamberlain; Chamberlain impaling Reynes; Reynes; and two lions passant with a label of three points, perhaps for Ekeny. On the south side of the tomb, taking them in the same order, are the following shields: a cross engrailed, perhaps for Drayton; ermine a fesse charged with three millrind crosses, for Paynel; three harts at gaze, for Green; a saltire engrailed, for Tyringham, impaling Reynes; and bezanty a quarter ermine, for Zouche.

In the east bay of the arcade is a fine table tomb of the last quarter of the 14th century, with the recumbent effigies in stone of a knight and his lady. The knight wears a pointed bascinet with camail, epaulieres and arm-pieces of plate, a tight jupon of the arms of Reynes, beneath which appears the skirt of the mail hauberk, a richly-studded belt with an elaborate clasp, and cuisses and jambs of plate, with sollerets upon his feet. Upon his hands, which are in prayer, are gadded gauntlets; his sword has been broken away. The head rests on a helm and the feet upon a finely sculptured dog wearing a collar bearing the letters B O, with a cinquefoil flower between them; the letters probably stand for the dog's name. The lady wears the nebuly head-dress, a kirtle, over which is a sideless cote, cut low at the neck, and decorated with a line of elaborately ornamented buttons extending from the neck to the waist, and a cloak over all fastened by a band with rich clasps. The head rests upon two pillows and the feet upon a pair of small dogs. The sides of the tomb have shallow niches or housings with trefoiled ogee heads, crocketed and finialled, and small gabled and crocketed buttresses between them. The niches contain a fine series of weepers, and the tomb is crowned by a cornice with shields. On the north side are the following shields: a chief with a lion passant therein, for Brok; three stirrups, for Scudamore; three crosses fitchy and in chief a demi-lion; a cross engrailed, perhaps for Drayton; a scutcheon in an orle of martlets; Tyringham; and a fesse between six crosses formy. The shields on the south side are as follows: Chamberlain; Paynel; Tyringham; ermine a chief indented, for Morteyne; Arches; Green; an indecipherable shield; and Zouche. The ends of the tomb abut upon the column and respond of the arcade, and are unsculptured. This monument has been ascribed, but with little probability, to Sir John Reynes, who died in 1428, and is commemorated by a brass in the north chapel. (fn. 159) The monument in this case would have been erected at the death of his first wife Katherine Scudamore, who was alive in 1388. It is far more likely that the monument commemorates Thomas, this John Reynes's father, who died between 1388 and 1394. The appearance of the arms of Scudamore would be explained by the supposition that the monument was erected by Sir Thomas's son John, whose first wife was Katherine Scudamore. The later brass affords an interesting commentary on the development of plate armour in the intervening period. The gorget or standard of plate takes the place of the camail, and the jupon has gone out of use, the breastplate, which appears to be worn over mail, being exposed. The armpits are protected by roundels, and the elbow pieces have fan-shaped terminations. The legs and lower taces have disappeared. Beneath is the inscription: 'Hic iacet Joñes Reynes Miles qui obiit xxv° die Marcii anno dñ1 Mill'imo cccc°xxviij° Cuius a[n]i[ma]e ppicietur deus amen.' At the corners of the slab are shields of Reynes. In the floor is a slab with brasses of a man and woman in shrouds, with shields of Reynes, and Reynes impaling Tyringham, at the four corners. The inscription has disappeared, but the brass may be assigned to John Reynes, who was living in 1498. (fn. 160)

In the chancel are floor slabs to Ann daughter of Richard Bernar (d. 1639); to Elizabeth daughter of Samuel Pepys, rector (d. 1680); to the same Samuel Pepys (d. 1703), and to George Pryer, 'gdson of William Pryer ye Elder' (d. 1718). In the north aisle are slabs to Mary Dennis (d. 1652); to Peter son of Samuel Pepys (d. 1684), and a slab, apparently to a Dennis, bearing the date 1637.

There is a ring of six bells, the treble, a modern addition, and the remaining five by John Hodson, dated 1664. The bells are now hung in a steel frame. The old frame, removed in 1905, was dated 1631, and appears to have been constructed for three larger bells.

The plate consists of a silver cup of 1692, a cover paten without date letter, but bearing the same maker's mark, a large pewter almsdish and a plated flagon and plate, presented between 1805 and 1832.

The registers begin in 1653.


Clifton Church was bestowed by Simon de Borard in the early 13th century on the Prioress of Stamford, but, as he was then a minor in the custody of Roger Torpel, he recovered the presentation against the prioress in 1229, compensating her with 8s. rent and 1 virgate in Stathern (Leicestershire). (fn. 161) The advowson of the church, valued at £8 13s. 4d. in 1291 (fn. 162) and at £13 6s. 9d. in 1535, (fn. 163) henceforward descended with the manor of Clifton Reynes (fn. 164) until 1816, when it was bequeathed by Alexander Small in trust for Henry Alexander Small, to whom and his heirs it was conveyed after he had been inducted and instituted rector. (fn. 165) He was holding it about 1862, (fn. 166) but before 1877 it had passed to the Rev. W. Sutthery, who was also rector. He was still holding in 1883, but in 1895 Mrs. G. G. Sutthery presented the Rev. W. Stanley Sutthery, and at the present day the patron is Mr. A. M. Sutthery. (fn. 167)

The rectory was leased in 1565 by the parson, William Astbury, to Ralf Scrope, who transferred his interest to John Studder. The latter in 1571 brought an action against Francis Lowe, lord of the manor, who had deprived him of his rights of common, as lessee of the rectory, for six beasts and forty sheep. (fn. 168) Francis Lowe had previously been in trouble for seeking to obtain by persuasion and threat the benefice in farm. He had had a lease of the parsonage, worth £30 a year, and allowed Richard Ellis, the parson, a mere £6. (fn. 169)

In 1343 Thomas Reynes received a licence to have an oratory in his house at Clifton Reynes. (fn. 170)


Sir Hugh Kite, as appears from the Parliamentary Returns of 1786, gave land then let at £12 per annum for the poor. The land, known as Kite's Closes, contains 19 a. 1 r. 26 p. and is let at £11 14s. yearly. About one-third of the net income is distributed in bread, cheese, tea, &c., the remainder being retained by the rector. (fn. 171)

The Church Allotment consists of 3 a. 1 r. 8 p. of pasture land let at £3 10s. yearly, which is applied towards the upkeep of the church.


  • 1. The additional name of Reynes first appears at the end of the 14th century (Close, 13 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 9 d.).
  • 2. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 3. Add. MS. 5839, fol. 62.
  • 4. Sheahan, op. cit. 520.
  • 5. Wright, The Town of Cowper, 216.
  • 6. Priv. Act, 3 Geo. IV, cap. 6.
  • 7. Com. Pleas Recov. R. East. 7 Geo. IV, no. 6.
  • 8. Op. cit. 519.
  • 9. Ct. of Req. bdle. 108, no. 30.
  • 10. Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), bdle. 115, no. 64.
  • 11. Close, 25 Chas. II, pt. xix, no. 35, 38.
  • 12. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), dcxlvii, 33.
  • 13. V.C.H. Bucks. i, 257.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. Dugdale, Baronage, i, 113.
  • 16. Excerpta e Rot. Fin. (Rec. Com.), ii, 42; G.E.C. Peerage, i, 67.
  • 17. Feud. Aids, i, 82.
  • 18. Chan. Inq. p.m. 6 Hen. VI, no. 35.
  • 19. V.C.H. Bucks. i, 257.
  • 20. Liber Niger (ed. 2), 208.
  • 21. Rot. Lit. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i, 333b.
  • 22. Lipscomb, Hist. and Antiq. of Bucks. iv, 105.
  • 23. Maitland, Bracton's Note Bk. ii, 333.
  • 24. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 244, 251.
  • 25. a Assize R. 58, m. 11 d.
  • 26. Lipscomb, loc. cit.
  • 27. Chan. Inq. p.m. Edw. I, file 22, no. 2.
  • 28. Feud. Aids, i, 82.
  • 29. Cal. Pat. 1281–92, p. 392; Inq. a.q.d. file 15, no. 7.
  • 30. Cal. Pat. 1292–1301, p. 53.
  • 31. Lipscomb, loc. cit.
  • 32. Ibid.
  • 33. Feud. Aids, i, 104.
  • 34. Lipscomb, loc. cit.; Rec. of Bucks. vi, 400.
  • 35. Add. MS. 5839, fol. 62 d.
  • 36. Feud. Aids, i, 110.
  • 37. Ret. of Memb. of Parl. i, 124, 136, 138, 140.
  • 38. Inq. a.q.d. file 272, no. 12.
  • 39. Feud. Aids, i, 130.
  • 40. Feet. of F. case 20, file 92, no. 2.
  • 41. Ret. of Memb. of Parl. i, 181, 195.
  • 42. Close, 231, m. 9 d.
  • 43. Ibid.
  • 44. Assize R. 1543, m. 47a.
  • 45. Ibid.
  • 46. Chan. Inq. p.m. 18 Ric. II, no. 34.
  • 47. Ibid. 5 Hen. V, no. 1.
  • 48. Coram Rege R. 675, m. 111; Chan. Inq. p.m. 9 Hen. VI, no. 62.
  • 49. Coram Rege R. 660, m. 78.
  • 50. Chan. Inq. p.m. 6 Hen. VI, no. 35.
  • 51. Feet of F. Bucks. East. 5 Hen. VI.
  • 52. Lipscomb, loc. cit.
  • 53. Chan. Inq. p.m. 6 Hen. VI, no. 35.
  • 54. Assize R. 1543, m. 47a.
  • 55. Coram Rege R. 30, m. 111–13.
  • 56. Wrottesley, Ped. from Plea R.371.
  • 57. Lipscomb, loc. cit.
  • 58. V.C.H. Beds. iii, 309, where the name of Dicons (see below) is spelt Decons; brass in Marston Church.
  • 59. Ibid.; Lipscomb, loc. cit.
  • 60. P.R.O. List of Sheriffs, 2.
  • 61. Chan. Inq. p.m. 12 Edw. IV, no. 22; cf. Cal. Pat. 1467–77, p. 607.
  • 62. Harl. MS. 6953, fol. 57.
  • 63. Visit. of Beds. (Harl. Soc.), 140.
  • 64. Feet of F. Bucks. Mich. 10 Hen. VIII.
  • 65. De Banco R. Trin. 15 Edw. IV, m. 101.
  • 66. Lipscomb, loc. cit.
  • 67. a Add. MS. 5839, fol. 62 d.
  • 68. He made a settlement of Clifton in that year (Recov. R. East. 16 Hen. VIII, m. 100; Feet of F. Bucks. Trin. and Mich. 16 Hen. VIII).
  • 69. P.C.C. 31 Bodfelde.
  • 70. Lipscomb, loc. cit.
  • 71. Recov. R. Hil. 19 Hen. VIII, m. 125.
  • 72. De Banco R. Trin. 15 Edw. IV, m. 101.
  • 73. Exch. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), file 39, no. 10.
  • 74. Visit. of Bucks. (Harl. Soc.), 87.
  • 75. Feet of F. Bucks. Mich. 32 Hen. VIII.
  • 76. Exch. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), file 39, no. 10.
  • 77. Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), bdles. 115, no. 64; 132, no. 30; Feet of F. Bucks. Trin. 3 Eliz.
  • 78. Feet of F. Bucks. East. 33 Eliz.
  • 79. Visit. of Bucks. loc. cit.
  • 80. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccclxxv, 78. In the same year he had made settlement of the manor on his wife Mary, her son Reynes, and her daughters Magdalen, Thomasina, Elizabeth and Margaret.
  • 81. Recov. R. Trin. 3 Chas. I, m. 60.
  • 82. Ibid. Trin. 1651, m. 23.
  • 83. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 84. Close, 25 Chas. II, pt. xix, no. 35.
  • 85. Feet of F. Bucks. Mich. 20 Chas. II.
  • 86. Close, 25 Chas. II, pt. xix, no. 35, 38; Recov. R. East. 25 Chas. II, m. 139.
  • 87. Feet of F. Bucks. Trin. 26 Chas. II.
  • 88. Dict. Nat. Biog.; Vernon, Cases in Chancery (ed. Raithby, 1829), ii, 644.
  • 89. Vernon, loc. cit.
  • 90. Feet of F. Bucks. Trin. 8 Will. III.
  • 91. G.E.C. Baronetage, i, 13.
  • 92. Musgrave's Obit. (Harl. Soc.), iii, 224.
  • 93. G.E.C. loc. cit.
  • 94. Feet of F. Bucks. Mich. 10 Anne.
  • 95. G.E.C. Peerage, vii, 230.
  • 96. Lysons, Mag. Brit. i (3), 544.
  • 97. Musgrave's Obit. (Harl. Soc.), v, 290. Tablet in church.
  • 98. P.C.C. 107 Bettesworth. By a former wife he had two daughters, both married, one having two children.
  • 99. Recov. R. Trin. 25 Geo. III, m. 234.
  • 100. Lipscomb, op. cit. iv, 108.
  • 101. Tablet in church.
  • 102. Lipscomb, loc. cit.
  • 103. Priv. Act, 3 Geo. IV, cap. 6.
  • 104. Feet of F. Bucks. Hil. 1 Will. IV.
  • 105. Sheahan, op. cit. 520.
  • 106. cf. Ret. of Owners of Lands (1873), Bucks. 17.
  • 107. V.C.H. Bucks. i, 274.
  • 108. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 251.
  • 109. Chan. Inq. p.m. 6 Edw. II, no. 56; 14 Ric. II, no. 9; 21 Ric. II, no. 2.
  • 110. Ibid. 2 Hen. VI, no. 20.
  • 111. Ibid. 15 Edw. IV, no. 44.
  • 112. Rot. Cur. Reg. (Rec. Com.), ii, 37.
  • 113. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 244, 252b.
  • 114. a Cal. Close, 1237–42, p. 370.
  • 115. Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 9 & 10 Edw. I, no. 25.
  • 116. Ibid. case 17, file 58, no. 14.
  • 117. Feud. Aids, i, 104.
  • 118. Feet of F. case 17, file 58, no. 13.
  • 119. Chan. Inq. p.m. 6 Edw. II, no. 56.
  • 120. Feet of F. case 18, file 70, no. 2.
  • 121. Harl. Chart. 57, D 29. See also Feud. Aids, i, 130; Chan. Inq. p.m. 22 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 47.
  • 122. Chan. Inq. p.m. 49 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 70. There is reference to John Wake of Clifton in 1378 (Cal. Close, 1377–81, p. 126).
  • 123. De Banco R. 538, m. 285 d.
  • 124. See also Chan. Inq. p.m. 14 Hen. VI, no. 35; Feet of F. Div. Co. Trin. 22 Jas.I; East. 2 Chas. I.
  • 125. Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 1 & 2 Jas. II.
  • 126. Ibid. Trin. 22 Jas. I; East. 2 Chas. I; Recov. R. Trin. 23 Geo. III, m. 12. See Lavendon for the descent until the middle of the 17th century.
  • 127. Com. Pleas D. Enr. East. 29 Geo. III, m. 46.
  • 128. Lipscomb, op. cit. iv, 115.
  • 129. Priv. Act, 3 Geo. IV, cap. 6.
  • 130. Harvey, Hundred of Willey, 190; cf. Sheahan, loc. cit. The descent of the family as given by Lipscomb loc. cit. is erroneous.
  • 131. Rec. of Bucks. vi, 389.
  • 132. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 244, 251.
  • 133. Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 3 & 4 Edw. I, no. 35.
  • 134. Ibid. case 17, file 58, no. 14.
  • 135. Feud. Aids, i, 82.
  • 136. Ibid. 104.
  • 137. Feet of F. case 17, file 58, no. 14.
  • 138. De Banco R. 538, m. 285 d.
  • 139. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 244.
  • 140. Feud. Aids, i, 82.
  • 141. Chan. Inq. p.m. 20 Hen. VI, no. 23.
  • 142. Pipe R. Beds. and Bucks. 34 Hen. II, m. 9 d.
  • 143. Testa de Nevill, loc. cit.
  • 144. Rot. Lit. Claus. (Rec. Com.), ii, 212.
  • 145. Feet of F. case 16, file 34, no. 5.
  • 146. Ibid. Bucks. Trin. 7 Edw. I, no. 8.
  • 147. De Banco R. 171, m. 46.
  • 148. Feet of F. case 18, file 64, no. 25.
  • 149. Chan. Inq. p.m. 20 Hen. VI, no. 23.
  • 150. V.C.H. Bucks. i, 241.
  • 151. Ibid.
  • 152. Ibid.
  • 153. Ibid. 274.
  • 154. Exch. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), file 39, no. 10.
  • 155. Recov. R. Trin. 3 Chas. I, m. 60.
  • 156. Ibid. East. 25 Chas. II, m. 139.
  • 157. a Probably the light for the maintenance of which part of the rent arising from Kites Closes was assigned in the first instance (Bucks. Rec. vi, 406).
  • 158. See above, p. 317.
  • 159. Rec. of Bucks. vi, 400.
  • 160. Rec. of Bucks. vi, 402.
  • 161. Maitland, Bracton's Note Bk. ii, 333; Feet of F. Bucks. 14 Hen. III, no. 1; R. of Hugh of Wells (Cant. and York Soc.), ii, 79.
  • 162. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 33.
  • 163. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 243.
  • 164. See manor; also Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.); and Add. MS. 5839, fol. 62 d.
  • 165. Sheahan, op. cit. 521.
  • 166. Ibid.
  • 167. Clergy Lists.
  • 168. Ct. of Req. bdle. 108, no. 30.
  • 169. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1601–3, p. 521.
  • 170. Add. MS. 5839, fol. 59 d., quoting Linc. Epis. Reg. Bek.
  • 171. A grant of this close was made to Nichasius Yatwert and Bartholomew Brokesby in 1570, but it was soon afterwards annexed to the rectory. The distribution of bread, cheese and ale was originally made on the occasion of beating the parish bounds in Rogation week (Pat. 12 Eliz. pt. x, m. 28; Bucks. Rec. vi, 406).