A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1927.
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Wlsiestone (xi cent.); Wolfeston, Wulsiston, Parva Wolstone, Wolstone Coudray (xiii cent.).
Little Woolstone has an area of 631 acres (623 acres of land and 8 acres covered by water), of which 147 are arable land, 1½ are covered by woods and plantations and the remainder laid down in permanent grass. (fn. 1) The ground falls from the west, where it rises to 363 ft. above the ordnance datum, to about 200 ft. in the east, where the River Ouzel forms the boundary, and the land is liable to floods.
The village lies in the south-east of the parish on the high road from Newport Pagnell to Fenny Stratford and on a road branching east from it. At their junction stands the Manor Farm occupied by Mr. John Sharman.
At the eastern end of the village is the church, described in 1755 as a poor mean building, with a wooden turret at the west end. (fn. 2) West of the church is the farmhouse which was for many years the residence of the Smith family. It is a 17thcentury red brick building, considerably altered and modernised. (fn. 3) The school was built in 1861 on land given by William Smith. 'Sister Dora,' the celebrated sister of Mark Pattison, was schoolmistress here from 1861 to 1864. (fn. 4) The Mill House on the River Ouzel, is a 17th-century stone house with an upper story of half-timber and a thatched roof.
The Grand Junction Canal passes through the centre of the parish from north to south.
Little Woolstone was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1791, (fn. 5) the award being dated in the following year, when £5 (now £5 5s.) worth of fuel per annum was allotted to the poor of the parish. (fn. 6)
In the reign of Edward the Confessor Edward, a thegn of the king, held 3½ hides in WOOLSTONE as one manor. (fn. 7) This was included in 1086 among the lands of Walter Giffard, (fn. 8) from whom it descended as half a fee held of the honour of Giffard, (fn. 9) through the Clares, Marshals, and Valences, Earls of Pembroke, (fn. 10) to the Talbots, (fn. 11) who leased their view of frankpledge here for life to John Wyche of Hereford, by whom it was conveyed in 1409 to Robert Chidwall and others. (fn. 12) During the 15th century the overlordship of Little Woolstone is confused with that of Broughton, (fn. 13) but the heirs of William de Valence were given as overlords in 1630, when the service was said to be unknown. (fn. 14)
Under Walter Giffard the manor was held in 1086 by Ralf, (fn. 15) from whom it had passed by the early 13th century to Hugh de Chislehampton. (fn. 16) In 1254 Ralf son of Nicholas is given as the holder, (fn. 17) but the Chislehamptons evidently retained their rights, which they transferred to the Coudrays, since in 1262 Peter de Coudray granted a messuage and a carucate of land in Little Woolstone to Hugh de Chislehampton and Rosamund his wife for life. (fn. 18) Peter de Coudray, jun., who may have been a younger son, held Little Woolstone in 1284, (fn. 19) but had been succeeded before 1302–3 (fn. 20) by Thomas, the eldest son of Peter, (fn. 21) who died about this date. (fn. 22) Thomas de Coudray was still lord in 1316, (fn. 23) and settled the reversion of this half fee, extended at eighteen messuages, a mill, a carucate and 8½ virgates of land in Little Woolstone, on his daughter Margery and her husband Roger, son of Roger de Tyringham. (fn. 24) Richard de Woodhill, probably the husband of Peter de Coudray's widow, held for life at this date (fn. 25) and in 1325, (fn. 26) but by 1346 Roger de Tyringham was in possession. (fn. 27) By 1397 Little Woolstone had passed from the Tyringhams to the Broughtons, (fn. 28) and was held with their manor of Broughton (q.v.) until it was conveyed in 1575 by Thomas Duncumbe and Isabel his wife to George Bury. (fn. 29)
In 1596 the manor was granted by George Bury and his wife Mary to Roger Nicholls, (fn. 30) who in April 1597 settled it on his son and heir George in tail-male, and died seised of it on 20 November 1629. (fn. 31) George Nicholls succeeded his father in the manor, (fn. 32) and in 1637 with his wife Elizabeth and others conveyed it by fine to Roger Nicholls. (fn. 33) Roger Nicholls and his wife Anne granted the manor in the spring of 1641–2 to Hugh Smith, (fn. 34) in whose family it has since remained (fn. 35) though the manorial rights seem to have been in abeyance by the end of the 18th. Hugh Smith the elder and his wife Ruth were holding the manor in 1701, (fn. 36) and it was held by Hugh Smith in 1735 (fn. 37) and 1739. (fn. 38) No lord of the manor was given in the Inclosure Act of 1791, but William Smith was returned among the principal proprietors of lands. (fn. 39) Sheahan wrote about 1862 of William Smith as a principal landowner, whose family had been in occupation for over 250 years. (fn. 40) He was the inventor of the 'Steam Cultivator,' and of the mode of cultivation called the Woolstone system. (fn. 41) The present representative of the family is the Rev. H. W. Smith, who is also rector.
In 1086 1½ hides in Woolstone were entered among the lands of William Fitz Ansculf, and had been previously held by Ulf, a thegn of King Edward, who could sell. (fn. 42) This property continued to be held as a quarter of a fee pertaining to the manor of Newport Pagnell (which had been held by William Fitz Ansculf at Domesday) as late as 1322. (fn. 43)
The first under-tenant recorded was William de Newport, clerk, holding 6 virgates in Little Woolstone in 1254. (fn. 44) He or his descendants took the name of Clerk. William's son Henry was holding this quarter fee in 1273, (fn. 45) and it had descended to Henry's son Richard in 1291. (fn. 46) He may be identical with Richard de Tours, by whom it was held in 1322, (fn. 47) for it remained in the Clerk family until conveyed to John Comyn by his marriage with Margaret daughter of John Clerk. (fn. 48) The Comyns made a settlement of it in 1415 on themselves and the heirs of Margaret, with remainder to John's children John, Thomas, William, Alice and Katherine, and their heirs, and to John Tyringham, John Mortimer and Robert Atteford and the heirs of Robert successively. (fn. 49) For the next century the history of this manor remains obscure. In 1537 it was held by Thomas More of Bourton, Buckingham, (fn. 50) who was dead by 1557, (fn. 51) leaving two daughters and co-heirs, Jane wife of Thomas Brooke and Alice wife of Giles Pulton. (fn. 52) Alice married as her second husband Richard Neale of Nether Dean in Bedfordshire, (fn. 53) to whom in 1557 the Brookes conveyed a moiety of the manor. (fn. 54) The two sisters and their husbands joined in 1562 in quitclaiming their rights in the manor to Ferdinand Pulton, (fn. 55) son of Alice by her first husband, (fn. 56) but Richard Neale afterwards acquired sole possession of Little Woolstone, and by his will made 14 February 1574–5 and proved 13 June 1575 bequeathed it to his second son Richard in tail-male, with remainder in tail-male to his elder son Thomas, to his godson Richard Neale, son of John Neale of Yelden, Bedfordshire, the elder, and to John second son of the said John Neale, successively. (fn. 57) Richard Neale apparently died without issue male, and under his will proved in March 1617, immediately after his death the manor passed to his brother Thomas, of Nether Dean, (fn. 58) who in the same year sold it to his second son, Peter Neale of Shelton, Bedfordshire. (fn. 59) This Peter was dealing with the manor in 1649, (fn. 60) and died in 1661, when he was succeeded by a son and heir Noah. (fn. 61) The manor remained in the Neale family, who appear to have migrated to St. Martin, Stamford Baron, Northamptonshire, until after the death of Noah Neale in January 1769. (fn. 62) In 1771 it was alienated by his widow Elizabeth Neale and Noah Neale, presumably his son, to Ambrose Reddall. (fn. 63) At the inclosure of the parish in 1791 no lord of this manor was given, but Ambrose Reddall was described as a considerable owner of lands. (fn. 64) He died in June of that year, and in his will mentions his widow Sarah, his son Henry and his kinsman Richard Ambrose Reddall of Woburn, Bedfordshire, whom he made executor. (fn. 65) The estate was subsequently held by Sir John Riddell, bart., and had passed to Mr. Hanscomb of Newport before 1803. (fn. 66)
A mill worth 10s. was held by Walter Giffard with his manor in 1086, (fn. 67) and remained among the appurtenances, (fn. 68) being leased in 1564 by Sir William Paulet and Dame Agnes his wife to Richard Banes of Woolstone. (fn. 69)
A free fishery was also attached to this manor in the 17th century. (fn. 70) A messuage and land in Little Woolstone, with free fishery in the water of Little Woolstone, was granted in 1701 by John Perry and Susan his wife to John Parrett and Mary Parrett, widow, to hold for 5,000 years at a rent of 2d. (fn. 71)
The church of the HOLY TRINITY consists of a chancel 20 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft. 6 in., nave 49 ft. by 23 ft. with bellcote at the west end, a south porch and a north vestry. All these measurements are internal.
There was probably a church on the site, consisting of a chancel and nave, in the latter part of the 12th century, but nothing of it now remains except the font. Towards the end of the 13th century the chancel was probably rebuilt; the chancel arch of that date still survives. The present nave with its bellcote was built in the middle of the 14th century, and the west jamb of an arched opening in the north wall suggests that there was an intention to build a transept on that side, which was never carried into effect. In the 16th century the south porch was added, though it may have succeeded an earlier structure. There was a restoration in 1854. In 1861 the chancel was rebuilt and the north vestry added, while a further restoration was made in 1866.
The chancel, which is wholly modern, is designed to match the 14th-century work of the nave, but there is a lancet in the north wall with some old stones re-used in the jambs. The 13th-century chancel arch is of three chamfered orders and rests on triple clustered respond shafts with moulded capitals, but no visible bases.
The nave is lighted by one window on the north side, two on the south side, and one at the west end, all of the 14th century and having three lights with tracery in pointed heads inclosed by external labels with head-stops. In the west window are several fragments of 14th-century glass, including part of a winged lion, a sitting animal, a fish, the hinder part of a leopard and some other pieces. The north and south doorways are pointed and continuously moulded, that on the north being blocked. In the south wall is a piscina with a trefoiled head and ogee cusps, without a basin. The hearth for the stove at the west end is laid with several old tiles, each containing a quarter of a circular pattern. On the north side of the chancel arch is a plain square corbel which possibly held one end of the rood-beam, while a set-off in the wall on the south side may have supported the other. There is also a corbel set in the east jamb of the south-east window. The nave roof is of four bays and unusually steep pitch. The rafters and collarbeams are concealed by plaster, but the naturallycambered tie-beams are visible and carry rough octagonal king-posts with moulded capitals and bases which support four-way struts. On the outside a moulded string-course extends for some distance along the south and east walls of the nave and round the buttresses at the south-east angle, but is apparently unfinished.
The bellcote is constructed of ancient oak timbers covered with modern weather-boards and stands on four posts with gallows-bracing between those on the east. The bell-frame forms part of the construction of the cote. The south porch has a moulded but much-weathered plinth; the outer doorway has an innermoulded three-centred arch under a square outer order. Over the arch are two small lights, now blocked, of similar design to that of the doorway. In the side walls are two-light openings of the same character, the mullions of which are now gone. In the north-east corner are the remains of a stoup.
In the window of the modern vestry are some fragments of 14th-century glass, including a bird standing in a trefoiled niche, two human heads issuing from quatrefoils and some tracery.
The font is of the late 12th century and has a moulded base and a circular bowl carved with interlacing semicircular arches and dog-tooth ornament below.
There are three bells, all by Anthony Chandler, 1662.
The plate includes a cup of 1569, similar to that at Great Woolstone and of the same date but smaller; a large paten of 1755, similar to one of the same date at Great Woolstone; and a small modern flagon and paten, unmarked.
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) mixed entries 1596 to 1771, the title is dated 1558; (ii) baptisms and burials 1772 to 1812, marriages 1774 to 1810.
The advowson of Little Woolstone was obtained by the priory of Combwell in Kent, which presented to the church in 1231 (fn. 72) and retained the advowson until the Dissolution. (fn. 73) It seems then to have been held for one turn by Sir John Gage, by whom it was conveyed in 1550 to Anthony Cave, (fn. 74) who presented in 1557. (fn. 75) In 1562 the presentation was made by John Newdigate, (fn. 76) and in 1677 by the Crown, in whom the advowson has since been vested. (fn. 77)
The priory of Tickford held tithes in Little Woolstone (fn. 80) which at the Dissolution were granted to Cardinal Wolsey for his college at Oxford, and after his attainder confirmed to that college refounded as King Henry the Eighth's College, by the king. (fn. 81) These tithes were held in January 1607–8 by Henry Berry at his death, and in 1613 were in the hands of his son George. (fn. 82)
A quit-rent and lands given for the maintenance of the sepulchre light in the church, worth 12d. yearly, were recorded at the suppression of the chantries. (fn. 83)
For the charity of the Rev. Robert Chapman see under parish of Ravenstone.
Poor's rent-charge.—On the inclosure of the parish an allotment was made to the then owner of an estate, now belonging to Mr. J. Sharman, charged with a payment of £5 5s. for fuel for the poor in lieu of the common rights formerly enjoyed by them. The annuity is applied in the distribution of coal.
Church property.—A rent-charge of £1 11s. 6d. issuing out of a farm near the church is annually paid by the owner, the present rector, to the church wardens and carried to their account.