Parishes : Grandborough

Pages 48-50

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

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Greneburga, Grenesberga (xi cent.); Greneburne (xiii cent.); Grenesbyri, Greneborewe (xiv cent.); Granborough (xvi cent.).

This parish covers 1,580 acres, of which 139 are arable and 1,223 permanent grass, (fn. 1) and is well watered by Claydon Brook and another stream which joins it. The soil is clayey loam with gravel, with a subsoil of clay and marl, the chief crops being wheat, oats, and beans. The borders of the parish lie from 300 ft. to 350 ft. above the ordnance datum, but at the centre the ground is somewhat higher, and the village stands on this ridge. It is built around the main road in rather a straggling fashion; part of it, on a road branching off at right angles towards Swanbourne, is known as Green End. At the south-east of the village stands the church. There is a Wesleyan chapel dating from 1871.

Several of the cottages have 17th-century brick chimney stacks and large open fireplaces. The Sovereign Inn may date from c. 1600; its best feature is the large chimney stack, and several rooms have old ceiling beams.

It may be noted that in the parish is a mound called Millknob Hill, about 4 ft. high by 60 ft. in diameter. Whether it was made for a mill, or is a tumulus adapted to such a use, can only be settled by excavation.

Bigging Farm, taking its name from the manor, was standing near the bridge joining the Grandborough and Winslow fields as late as 1861. (fn. 2) A chapel near the farm is said to have been pulled down about 1680. In a large hollow in one of its beams was carved a cross before which the parish processions halted on Rogation Monday. (fn. 3)

An Inclosure Act for the parish was passed in 1796. (fn. 4)


During the reign of Edward the Confessor, Leofstan, Abbot of St. Albans, obtained 5 hides at GRANDBOROUGH from Egelwyn Niger, or Egelwyn 'ye Swarte,' and Wynflaeda his wife. (fn. 5) In 1086 these were held as a manor by the abbot and belonged to the demesne of the monastery, (fn. 6) the descent being identical with that of Winslow (fn. 7) (q.v.), which was likewise held by the abbey in 1086. The present lord is Mr. W. SelbyLowndes.

St. Albans Abbey. Azure a saltire or.

Lowndes. Argent fretty azure with bezants at the crossings of the free and a quarter gules charged with a leopard's head or.

As in Winslow the question on what tenure the abbey held Grandborough was debated in the 14th century and settled in favour of the abbot.

The first mention of BIGGING (La Bygginge, xiv cent.) occurs in 1302–3, when the Abbot of St. Albans held half a knight's fee in 'Biggeng cum Greneborewe,' (fn. 8) but it seems to have had a separate identity as a manor as early as 1330 when it was demised by the abbot to Simon Fraunceys. (fn. 9) In 1491 this manor was granted (fn. 10) on a fifty-year lease to Richard Empson for an annual rent of 100s., and later leased in 1533 to John Duncombe, his heirs and assigns for thirty-one years. (fn. 11) It was included in the life grant made of Grandborough, Winslow and other manors to Richard Breme and Margery his wife after the Dissolution, (fn. 12) but it seems that John Duncombe and, afterwards, Benedict Lee, who was apparently his assignee, continued to farm Bigging under these grantees. (fn. 13) In 1557 the reversion of the manor was granted to Benedict Lee and his heirs. (fn. 14) It was held in 1582 by John Arden, who granted it in that year to Thomas Lee, and later to Peter Dormer, his brother-in-law, to be held in trust for four years, the profits to go to the payment of Arden's debts. (fn. 15) Soon after, Dormer having died, John Arden brought a suit against the executor, John Chester. He stated that his brother-in-law before his death, finding that he had enough money in hand for the discharge of all debts, had, before the four years were up, allowed Arden to enter the manor. John Chester, however, denied that the entry was made with Dormer's permission and stated, moreover, that the debts were not yet settled, offering to show the Court all his accounts in proof of this. (fn. 16) It is not clear how Bigging came again to the Lees, but it was held in 1624 by Sir Thomas Lee, kt., (fn. 17) and sold by him in that year to William Abel, (fn. 18) from whom it passed in 1628 to Emanuel Scrope, Earl of Sunderland. (fn. 19) He held Hambleden Manor (q.v.) with which Bigging descended (fn. 20) until 1678, in which year it was conveyed to Sir Robert Clayton and John Morris. (fn. 21) There is no further record of this manor, but Lipscomb states that it came to the Lowndes family with the main manor, (fn. 22) in which it was apparently absorbed.


The church of ST. JOHN BAPTIST consists of a chancel measuring internally 20 ft. 6 in. by 14 ft. 6 in., a nave 43 ft. by 21 ft., and a west tower 9 ft. 6 in. by 9 ft.

The nave, dating from early in the 14th century, is the oldest part of the church; the chancel was rebuilt at the end of the same century by Abbot John de la Moote of St. Albans (1396–1401) and the tower, which is faced with ashlar, dates from c. 1500, the walls of the nave having been heightened at the same time. The church was restored in 1881 by Sir Gilbert Scott.

The east window of the chancel dates from the rebuilding, and has three cinquefoiled lights with tracery over, and the north-east and south-east windows, of two lights, are of the same work. In the north wall is a 15th-century doorway, while at the south-west is a low-side window, a single trefoiled light of earlier style than the rest of the chancel, and probably contemporary with the nave. The chancel arch also is of this period, but its moulded half-octagonal capitals and bases have been reworked about the time of the rebuilding of the chancel. The piscina recess, with a cinquefoiled head, is original, and in the north wall is a locker closed by an oak door dated 1735. The communion table is inscribed 'Annis Hopper, 1625,' and has turned legs and moulded rails; there is also a good 17th century chair in the chancel. The roof is probably of late 15th-century date, with trussed rafters and a moulded plate.

The nave is lighted from the north-east and southeast by three-light windows of late 15th-century date, inserted to give more light to the nave altars. Both replace original early 14th-century windows, of which a west jamb is left in the north wall, and an east jamb, with an angle piscina set in it, in the south wall. The second window in the south wall retains its original early 14th-century design, though its stonework is nearly all modern or retooled. There are north and south doorways in the nave of original date with moulded jambs and heads, but much repaired, and to the west of them are windows, that in the north wall, c. 1450, of two trefoiled lights under a square head, and that in the south wall of the same type, much restored. The roof is of low pitch, dating from the time when the walls were heightened, and has a moulded tie-beam.

The tower is of three stages, with a south-west stair and square-headed belfry windows of two trefoiled lights below an embattled parapet. There is a west doorway and over it a two-light window, all details being very plain, and the tower arch is of two chamfered orders with square jambs.

The church possesses a much-weathered alabaster panel of the Crucifixion, of 15th-century date; it was formerly built into the gable of a house in the village. A far more unusual possession is a leaden chrismatory, a rectangular case 6 in. long by 2 in. deep by 23/8 in. wide, containing round receptacles for the three oils, 'oleum sanctum,' 'oleum infirmorum,' and 'chrisma.' Two of the three retain their lids, to which are fastened hooks to lift the tow on which the oil was administered; pieces of tow remain in each receptacle. The case stood on small feet modelled as lions, and had a gabled cover with openwork cresting, of which only fragments are preserved. The chrismatory was found built into the east wall of the nave, south of the chancel arch. On the floor of the chancel is deposited a fragment of the head of a late 15th-century fireplace. This was dug up in Bigginfield. A black-letter Bible of 1615 is preserved in a chest at the vicarage.

There are five bells and a sanctus; the treble by Ellis Knight, 1637; the second, originally by Richard Chandler, 1636, recast in 1887 by Mears & Stainbank; the third by Robert Atton, 1623; and the fourth of 1628 by the same founder. The tenor is a 15th-century bell, perhaps by Roger Landon, inscribed 'In multis annis resonet campana Iohannis,' and the sanctus is blank, and of 17th-century date or later.

The plate consists of a silver cup of 1569, a modern silver-gilt chalice and paten, and a modern plated cruet.

The registers begin in 1538.


The church of Grandborough was held with the manor by the abbey of St. Albans. In 1291 it is mentioned as a chapel appurtenant to the church of Winslow. (fn. 23) The church was assessed at £8 in 1535, (fn. 24) and a rent of £3 6s. 8d. was received from the vicarage, the vicar being allowed a rebate of 20s. for purposes of hospitality; he was, moreover, entitled to the tithes of grain. (fn. 25) The rent from the vicarage was paid after the Dissolution to the Crown, (fn. 26) in whom the patronage was vested from that time until after 1865. (fn. 27) Between that date and 1870 it passed to Sir Harry Verney, bart., of East Claydon, (fn. 28) who was already impropriator of the great tithes and whose grandson Sir Harry C. W. Verney, bart., is the present patron.

A life grant of the rectory was made to Richard Breme and Margery in 1540. (fn. 29) A twenty-one years' lease was made to Thomas Awdley, 'valet of the wet larder,' in 1567, and in 1573 the reversion of the rectory was granted in fee to Henry Wellby and George Blythe and their heirs. (fn. 30) It had passed before 1613 to Robert Hoveden, whose nephew and heir inherited the property at his death in 1614. (fn. 31) This family also held the advowson of East Claydon, with which property the rectorial tithes of Grandborough appear to have since descended. (fn. 32)

In 1585–6 Queen Elizabeth granted to John Walton and John Cresset two small closes in this parish which had been formerly given for the maintenance of an obit in Grandborough Church. (fn. 33)


It is recorded in the Parliamentary Returnsof 1786 thatadonorunknown gave 8s. yearly for the benefit of poor widows. The annuity is received from the rector of Middle Claydon and distributed on 21 December in each year.

Poor's Allotment.—In 1797, under the Inclosure Act of this parish, 5 a. 2 r. 22 p. were awarded for the poor in lieu of their right of cutting furze. The land produces about £6 a year, the net income being distributed in gifts of money.

Church Land.—The churchwardens are possessed of about an acre of land, the rent of which, amounting to £2 13s. 6d., is applied towards the church expenses.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Sheahan, Hist. and Topog. of Bucks. 382.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Priv. Act, 36 Geo. III, cap. 36.
  • 5. Cott. MS. Nero, D vii, fol. 89b; Kemble, Cod. Dipl. iv, 296; Gesta Abbat. (Rolls Ser.), i, 39.
  • 6. V.C.H. Bucks. i, 242.
  • 7. See Winslow; see also Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 245; Feud. Aids, i, 84, 94, 113, 119; Priv. Act, 36 Geo. III, cap. 36.
  • 8. Feud. Aids, i, 94.
  • 9. Cal. Pat. 1327–30, p. 497; Chron. Mon. S. Albani (Rolls Ser.), ii, 71.
  • 10. Exch. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), file 6, no. 15.
  • 11. Ld. Rev. Misc. Bks. clxxxviii, fol. 188.
  • 12. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, p. 541.
  • 13. Ld. Rev. Misc. Bks. clxxxviii, fol. 188, 189; Pat. 3 & 4 Phil. and Mary, pt. vii, m. 5.
  • 14. Pat. 3 & 4 Phil. and Mary, pt. vii, m. 5.
  • 15. Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), bdle. 203, no. 37.
  • 16. Ibid.
  • 17. Recov. R. Mich. 22 Jas. I, m. 87; Feet of F. Bucks. Mich. 22 Jas. I.
  • 18. Ibid.; Com. Pleas Recov. R. Trin. 1 Chas. I, m. 6.
  • 19. Feet of F. Bucks. Trin. 4 Chas. I.
  • 20. Ibid. East. 28 Chas. II. Martha James alias Sandford, the mother of the earl's children, compounded for the her estate in Grandborough in 1647 (Cal. Com. for Comp. 67).
  • 21. Feet of F. Bucks. Trin. 30 Chas. II.
  • 22. Lipscomb, Hist. and Antiq. of Bucks. i, 248.
  • 23. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 37.
  • 24. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 231.
  • 25. Exch. Spec. Com. no. 435.
  • 26. Ibid.
  • 27. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.); Bacon, Liber Regis. 512; Lipscomb, op. cit. i, 249; Clergy Lists.
  • 28. Clergy Lists.
  • 29. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, p. 541.
  • 30. Pat. 16 Eliz. pt. iv, m. 1.
  • 31. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccxliii, 152.
  • 32. See East Claydon advowson; Sheahan, op. cit. 382.
  • 33. Pat. 28 Eliz. pt. xiv, m. 12.