Parishes : Great Woolstone

Pages 509-511

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

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Ulsiestone (xi cent.); Wulsistone, Wolston, Wolleston, Great Woulstone (xiii cent.).

Great Woolstone has an area of 508 acres of land with 6 acres covered by water; about one-third of the parish is arable land and the remainder consists of permanent grass. (fn. 1) The soil is light clay and gravel, with some rich meadow land, the subsoil clay and gravel. The chief crops grown are wheat, beans, barley and oats.

The ground falls from about 300 ft. above the ordnance datum in the west to about 200 ft. in the east, where the River Ouzel forms the boundary.

The village lies in the east of the parish, along the road from Newport Pagnell to Fenny Stratford. It has at its southern end the church and the rectory; Hill Farm, in the occupation of Mr. F. Clarke, lies a little further north, with the smithy beyond. The Cross Keys Inn, at the south end of the village, is a picturesque 17th-century building of stone, two stories in height, with a thatched roof. The lord of the manor, Mr. W. Clarkson, resides at the Manor House.

In 1675 an agreement was come to between the rector and parishioners as to the inclosing of lands in the open and common fields. (fn. 2) The parish was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1796. (fn. 3)

Henry Tattam, D.D., the Coptic scholar (1789–1868), was rector of the parish from 1831 to 1849. (fn. 4)

Among the lands held by the Dudley and Gilpin or Kilpin families, important freeholders here, (fn. 5) occur the following place-names: the Berryes, Ryfurlong Leyes, Tom's Leyes (fn. 6) (xvii cent.); Odells Field, Elbow Field, Meareslade, Jenkins' Close (fn. 7) (xviii cent.).

The Cross Keys Inn, Great Woolstone.


In the time of King Edward Alric son of Goding, who could sell, held a manor of 5 hides in WOOLSTONE, entered in 1086 among the lands of Walter Giffard, and held under him by the abbey of La Couture, Le Mans, Maine. (fn. 8) Rights in Great Woolstone consisting of a leet and rent were afterwards attached to the honour of Gloucester, passing through the Clares (fn. 9) and Audleys, Earls of Gloucester, (fn. 10) to the Staffords. (fn. 11) In 1547 they pertained to the king as part of the honour. (fn. 12)

The more important overlordship rights were, however, exercised by the Bolebecs and their successors, Hugh de Bolebec having bestowed the manor on the abbey. (fn. 13) The grant was said in the 13th century to be in free alms, (fn. 14) but the service recorded a century later was that of a pair of gilt spurs or 6d. (fn. 15) The interest of the Earls of Oxford continued until the abolition of feudal tenures in the 17th century. (fn. 16)

The abbey of La Couture sold the manor in 1243, to Paul Pever of Toddington in Bedfordshire (fn. 17) the Earl of Oxford's stewards, Peter de la Mare and William de Bikeling, in vain asserting the illegality of the transfer to lay hands, the original gift having been in free alms. (fn. 18) Paul Pever also acquired about this date Chilton Manor (q.v.), where the early history of this family has been traced. From the end of the 13th century it has been given under Marsworth (q.v.), which they then obtained. Their property in Great Woolstone descended with Chilton and Marsworth until the middle of the 14th century, with a few divergences which are noted below. After the death in March 1271–2 of Emma, widow of Paul's son, John Pever, the Earl of Gloucester entered upon the manor, which he held for some time, when he was followed by the Earl of Oxford, (fn. 19) both apparently with the object of enforcing their overlordship rights. One mark for hidage and suit was due from Woolstone to the king, but it was stated in 1254 (fn. 20) and again in 1276 (fn. 21) that this had been withdrawn from the date of purchase. Ten years later the 'vill' of Woolstone, John grandson of Paul Pever, and Gilbert de Clare Earl of Gloucester were attached for the payment of this mark and of arrears amounting to £5, the earl's father, Richard de Clare, being accused of having first seized this rent to his own use. (fn. 22) John Pever and his wife Beatrice in 1305 made a settlement of the manor on Robert Durival and his wife Parnel, (fn. 23) and Durival was accordingly returned as lord of Woolstone in 1316. (fn. 24) At his death about 1332 his wife was called Margaret, daughter of the John Pever who made a settlement in 1305, to whose grandson and heir Nicholas the manor reverted. (fn. 25) In 1356 Nicholas Pever alienated Great Woolstone to Sir Henry Green (fn. 26); the grant was for life only, but Green must afterwards have obtained the fee simple, as it thenceforward descended with his manor of Wavendon (q.v.), with which it was divided into thirds in the 16th century. (fn. 27) In 1589 one-third was conveyed by John Tufton and Christine his wife, William Roper and Katherine his wife, and Thomas Wilford, husband of Mary Browne, deceased, to Robert Staunton, (fn. 28) Lewis Lord Mordaunt transferring his right in the remaining two-thirds in the following year. (fn. 29) Great Woolstone had passed before 1704 to John Dormer of Rowsham, Oxfordshire, who was then holding it with his manor of Hollowes, North Crawley. (fn. 30) It shared the history of this manor (q.v.) until about the end of the 18th century, (fn. 31) but appears to have been then acquired by the elder branch of the Lowndes family, the Selby-Lowndes of Whaddon, (fn. 32) W. S. Lowndes of Whaddon holding about 1860. (fn. 33) In 1869 it was the property of Henry Emerson Westcar of Strode Park, Herne, Kent, from whom it had passed between 1871 and 1877 to Eliza, widow of Sir George William Prescott, 3rd bart. At her death in 1887 Woolstone was inherited by her second son Charles William Prescott of Strode Park, Herne, Kent, who in that year assumed the additional surname and arms of Westcar. After his death in 1910 it was sold by his elder son Charles Henry Beeston Prescott-Westcar to Mr. Walter Clarkson, the present lord of the manor.


The small church of the HOLY TRINITY consists of a chancel and nave with a bellcote on the west gable. It is built of stone in the Tudor style and dates from 1839, but stands on the site of an ancient structure, to which reference is found early in the 13th century. (fn. 34) Scanty evidence exists as to the character of this early building, but Browne Willis refers to the church as existing in his day as 'a small mean Fabrick consisting of a Body and Chancel, which are leaded. At the end is a wooden Turrit, supported by the Walls of the Church, and 2 Props or Posts withinside the Church, in which hang 3 small modern Bells.' (fn. 35)

The font, which was removed from the old church of St. Cuthbert, Bedford, has a 12th-century round bowl, the face of which is relieved by four engaged shafts with scalloped capitals. At the west end of the nave is a 16th-century bench with a carved end, and on the nave floor are several floor slabs of the late 17th century to the Dudley and Gilpin families.

The bellcote contains one bell by Anthony Chandler, 1679. (fn. 36)

The plate consists of an Elizabethan cup of 1569; a large paten inscribed, 'This piece of Plate was bought for the use of Woolston Church Octo 21st 1755'; a large modern two-handled cup, unmarked; a silver-gilt flagon, Jubilee Memorial, 1897, and a Sheffield or electro-plate alms-dish, unmarked.

The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) mixed entries 1538 to 1776—the vellum cover appears to be part of a service-book with musical notation, (?) late 15th or early 16th century; (ii) baptisms and burials 1777 to 1810; (iii) marriages 1754 to 1811.


Reference to the church occurs in 1222, when Garnerius was presented by the abbey of La Couture to the perpetual vicarage (fn. 37) which had been ordained after the Council of Oxford. (fn. 38) The advowson descended with the manor, with which, however, it was not alienated to Robert Durival for life in 1305. (fn. 39) Between 1562 (fn. 40) and 1576 it was conveyed to Henry Charge, who presented in the latter year. (fn. 41) It was then held by a succession of owners (fn. 42) until acquired by the Neild family, of whom James Neild of Stoke Hammond, sheriff in 1804, (fn. 43) was in possession in the early 19th century. (fn. 44) His son John Camden Neild of Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, barrister, at his death in 1852 bequeathed the advowson with his immense fortune to Queen Victoria. (fn. 45) The advowson remains the property of the Crown under the patronage of the Lord Chancellor.

The church was valued at £5 yearly in 1291 (fn. 46) and at £9 6s. 8d. in 1535. (fn. 47) The living was consolidated with that of Little Woolestone in 1854.

Tithes in Great Woolstone held by Tickford Priory were granted with the priory's other possessions to Cardinal Wolsey in 1526, (fn. 48) and after his attainder were confirmed by the king in 1532 to Wolsey's college at Oxford founded at that date as King Henry the Eighth's College. (fn. 49)


Richard Bludd alias Blood, who died in 1602, by his will proved in the P.C.C., (fn. 50) bequeathed 5 marks to be put forth for a stock by the minister and churchwardens of Great Woolstone, the increase thereof to be distributed by them yearly upon the Thursday next before Easter amongst the poor there for ever. This legacy was recorded, together with a gift of a tenement for the use of the poor of Newport Pagnell (see under Newport Pagnell Town Lands), on a brass plate affixed to the north side of the chancel in the parish church. The legacy, however, appears to have been lost sight of.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Exch. Dep. Mich. 2 Anne, no. 2.
  • 3. Priv. Act, 36 Geo. III, cap. 12.
  • 4. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 5. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cclxxxvii, 90; dcxxxvi, 92; Chan. Proc. (Bridges Div.), bdles. 155, no. 61; 474, no. 19; 603, no. 95.
  • 6. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), dcclxviii, 7.
  • 7. Exch. Dep. Mich. 2 Anne, no. 2.
  • 8. V.C.H. Bucks. i, 251. There was a mill worth 6s. 4d.
  • 9. Cal. Inq. p.m. (Edw. II), v, 329.
  • 10. Chan. Inq. p.m. II Edw. II, no. 74; 21 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 59.
  • 11. Ibid. 10 Ric. II, no. 38; 16 Ric. II, pt. i, no. 27; 4 Hen. IV, no. 41; 38 & 39 Hen. VI, no. 59.
  • 12. Ct. R. (Gen. Ser.), portf. 155, no. 13.
  • 13. Cur. Reg. R. 131, m. 12d.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. Cal. Inq. p.m. (Edw. II), vi, 300.
  • 16. Chan. Inq. p.m. 6 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 44; 43 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 48; 15 Ric. II, pt. i, no. 24; 5 Hen. V, no. 41; (Ser. 2), dviii, 15.
  • 17. Cur. Reg. R. 131, m. 12 d.; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 84.
  • 18. Cur. Reg. R. 131, m. 12 d.
  • 19. Cal. Inq. p.m. (Edw. I), ii, 66.
  • 20. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 30.
  • 21. Ibid. 40.
  • 22. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 84.
  • 23. Inq. a.q.d. file 55, no. 15.
  • 24. Feud. Aids, i, 109.
  • 25. Chan. Inq. p.m. 6 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 44.
  • 26. Feet of F. case 20, file 93, no. 5.
  • 27. Feet of F. Bucks. Mich. 18 Eliz.; Recov. R. East. 18 Eliz. m. 1106.
  • 28. Recov. R. D. Enr. Mich. 31 & 32 Eliz. m. 20.
  • 29. Feet of F. Bucks. Trin. 32 Eliz.
  • 30. Recov. R. East. 3 Anne, m. 263; Mich. 3 Anne, m. 76.
  • 31. a Recov. R. East 15 Geo. III. m. 158.
  • 32. Lysons, Mag. Brit. i, (3), 672.
  • 33. Sheahan, Hist. and Topog. of Bucks. 650. The trustees of Mr. Westcar, a minor, then owned one of the two farms which constituted nearly all the parish, Mr. Bolding being owner of the other.
  • 34. R. of Hugh of Wells (Cant. and York Soc.), ii, 59.
  • 35. Add. MS. 5839, p. 416.
  • 36. a A. H. Cocks, Ch. Bells of Bucks. 638.
  • 37. R. of Hugh of Wells (Cant. and York Soc.), ii, 59.
  • 38. Ibid. i, 198; Liber Antiquus Hugonis Wells (ed. A. Gibbons), 12. It consisted among other things of the tithes of sheaves of the demesne of the monks and their tenants in Woolstone, all altar offerings, an acre in 'utroque' field in Woolstone and a suitable house.
  • 39. Chan. Inq. p.m. 9 Edw. II, no. 55; Cal. Inq. p.m. (Edw. II), vi, 300; Feet of F. case 18, file 73, no. 15.
  • 40. Feet of F. Div. Co. East. 4 Eliz.
  • 41. Lipscomb, op. cit. iv, 422.
  • 42. Ibid.; Feet of F. Bucks. East. 9 Geo. I; Add. MS. 5839, p. 417; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 43. P.R.O. List of Sheriffs, 11.
  • 44. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 45. Sheahan, op. cit. 650; cf. ibid. 404.
  • 46. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 34.
  • 47. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 245.
  • 48. L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv, 1913.
  • 49. Ibid. v, g. 1370 (23).
  • 50. P.C.C. 40 Bolein.