A History of Frieth
Ackhampstead - by Dr. G H Wyatt
The History of Ackhampstead
The End of Ackhampstead
The Registers of Baptisms
Some Dramatis Personae
Family Names in the first Ackhampstead baptism register
[ Ackhampstead was a detached part of Oxfordshire in the parish of Lewknor, part of a division of the parish known as Lewknor Uphill and lay to the south and east of Moor Common. This history was compiled by Gordon Wyatt in 1969 for the Frieth Village Society with whose kind permission it is reproduced here. It gets a little dense in places but I hope you will find the effort worthwhile to get the most out of this fascinating story. I have added a couple of pictures in an effort to show what very little remains today. Decimal numbers (in brackets) refer to the References section at the end of this page. ]
Ackhampstead does not exist, and when it did it could have been known to very few people away from its immediate neighbourhood. Yet, when the attempt is made to write its history, it is surprising how much can be discovered about it. In the account that follows I have largely copied other people's writings and opinions. In particular, Mr. Sidney J. Smith of Bolter End has generously allowed me to use the extensive knowledge of our district which he has assiduously collected since he was 12 years old - he is now in his retirement. My only regret is that this paper does not provide the opportunity to publicise yet more of his collections relating to Lane End and Cadmore End, or his fascinating account of the local life in his youth and as related to him by older members of his family.
In his book 'The Lost Villages of England', Beresford (1) writes that Buckinghamshire was one of the counties most affected by depopulation in the Middle Ages: there are many sites known to have been then centres of population but which have since disappeared. Two reasons were common for this change: either the landowner found it profitable to enclose the land for sheep grazing, or the village was found to interfere with development of the park associated with the local 'big house'. However, none of the Buckinghamshire lost villages were within the Chiltern area. Ackhampstead was formerly a populated area large enough to require its own chapel until about a hundred years ago, so it does not fall within the category of the lost villages just mentioned. Nevertheless, it decayed and today the 2½ inch Ordnance Survey map merely has 'Chapel (rems of)' to mark the site of the chapel, and the name Ackhampstead does not appear at all. Some buildings survive near the Moor Farm, and one of the cottages has a boundary stone built into its wall (2).
The chapel's enclosure is still easily found, on the opposite side of the lane a little to the south-east of Moor Farm; it is approached from the lane by steep rough steps formed from stones of the former chapel. These steps also form a part of the adjacent footpath, which starts from a point on Moor Common where the private road to Moor Farm leaves the Frieth to Lane End road and goes to Finnamore or Chisbridge. It is advisable to use this footpath when going to the chapel because the farmer takes exception to approach from other directions, including the lane.
The site of Ackhampstead Chapel in 2011 - sadly very little to see
In 1912 the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments (3) described the chapel: "Only low remains of the flint walls are visible. The building is said to have been rectangular with lancet windows. Condition - bad; grass and trees are growing in and around the ruins". The last curate at the chapel, Rev. Frederick Menzies, wrote (4): "It had no architectural interest, nor were there any graves found within or without". It was said (5) that the new chapel at Frieth was only six or seven feet larger than that at Ackhampstead: this gives an idea of the size of the latter.
In 1949, Dr. Morley Davies 6 found the ruins to be "still in much the same condition as in 1912", adding that "the walls, of rough flint, are only two or three feet high and largely buried in mould. The site is fenced in, and forms a thicket of cherry, holly and other trees, with much bramble and ivy. Two shaped blocks of what appears to be Aylesbury limestone represent the remains of the doorway".
In 1965, Mr. S.J. Smith (2) and Vincent North dug a hole before the altar and at a depth of about 3½ feet found what appeared to be a beaten earth floor with about ¼ inch of lime plaster above it. They recovered a brick in 'new' condition; it measured 8 x 4¼ x 1¾ in., which seems to be right for the latter part o:f the 13th century. Having been promised help by a number of people, Mr. Smith obtained permission from the appropriate authorities to tidy up the chapel enclosure in 1967. In the event, the work was done by Mr. Smith, his family and Vincent North. It took them 32 working hours to clear the blackthorn, hawthorn, holly, ash, bramble, wild cherry and wild clematis. Little more than the foundations of the chapel were then to be found.
The Rev. Menzies wrote (4) that when he was curate "there was no road whatever", This is strange because, like many ancient roads, the existing lane is sunk deep beneath the level of the surrounding fields as if worn down by centuries of traffic. Moreover, on Bryant's map of Buckinghamshire (1825), only a little before Menzies' time, the chapel is shown at the crossing of four tracks: the land is shown as a "good cross or driving road" and is better than any other track in the immediate neighbourhood.
In 1849 Lewknor-up-Hill was described (5) as "an extensive district in the midst of a wild part of the country, intersected to a great extent with clumps of beech trees, and with a settled population living in small hamlets or villages. One of these villages where some portion of the inhabitants are collected is called Ackhampstead, the population of which has been differently stated ... but this point has been set right by the affidavit of a reverend gentleman, who stated that the population consisted of 58 individuals. They inhabit two farm-houses, the Moor Farm and the Finnamore Farm, and ten cottages. The parish of Hambleden adjoined Ackhampstead so closely that there was some doubt whether a certain cottage is in the one parish or the other". Presumably, this is the cottage "at the corner of Ackhampstead Wood" that is said (4) to have "had formerly the unique privilege of being in two counties, Oxford and Bucks, and three parishes, Hambleden, Lewknor and Fingest. On the days when bounds were beaten a boy was passed through the oven!" In 1845 (5) the two landowners and "fifteen inhabitants and owners of cottages in the district ... comprised all the owners of property in the district in which the chapel was situated."
Until late in the 19th century Ackhampstead had been situated immemorably in a detached part of Oxfordshire known as Lewknor-up-Hill, being a part of Lewknor Hundred, and the chapel 'was the responsibility of the vicar of Lewknor. It has been suggested (5) that this state of affairs may have arisen because at an early date lands in each place had a common owner: in support of this idea is the fact that when the Jodrell family owned land in Lewknor-down-Hill they exercised the manorial rights of Ackhampstead.
Another detached portion of Oxfordshire in Lewknor-up-Hill, has been identified (6) as Abefeld (i.e. Abbeyfield), another lost community situated on the Marlow - Stokenchurch road (B482), which was later to provide a connection between Ackhampstead and the modern Cadmore End. In a terrier of 1685, mentioned later in this paper, it is made clear that the chapel served the Abefeld part of Lewknor-up-Hill. It is also interesting that two of the field names in Bigmore, which is in the old Abefeld, should be "Great Ashampstead" and "Pond Ashampsteadt" (2).
The extent of Ackhampstead is perhaps most clearly seen on Bryant's 1825 map of Buckinghamshire, which is of large scale for its date. The area was an irregularly shaped strip almost a mile wide and about 1½ miles long, in a. direction roughly NW to SE - Dr. Morley Davies (6) estimated it to contain about 456 acres. Moor Farm was just within one end of the strip and Finnamore Farm at the other end, Chisbridge Cross being just outside it. Widmere Farm, with its early 13th century chapel, is only about ¾ mile away, to the east.
The Royal Commission on Historical Monuments was concerned with "monuments and constructions ... which may reasonably be accredited to a date anterior to 1700", and in Ackhampstead it mentions (3) only the chapel and Moor Farm with its associated buildings. The farmhouse is described as modern, except the 17th century south wing, which probably formed part of a building at that date. Two outbuildings are mentioned: A building partly of 17th century brick to the north, and a barn to the south, probably of brick and tile of similar date. Also, the inventory includes a house, disused in 1912, built of flint with dressings of thin brick; a prominent feature of the house is an original chimney stack of thin bricks. The house is of late 16th or early 17th century construction but some of the windows have been altered and two small lights in the south gable are blocked. "Inside the house is a wide fireplace with chimney-corner and oven". Sheahan (7) says, in 1862, there also remained the walls that surrounded the garden of the 'manor house', to which the chimney stack belonged. He says this 'old house' was then in Marlow parish but a 'substantial farm-house' built on the manor house land, occupied by Mr. David Bigg, was in Oxfordshire.
In passing, it is interesting that the Rusty Back Fern, Ceterach officinarum, was found (8) in some abundance on a wall at Moor Farm, near Lane End by Mr. Daniel Avery in 1868: it was seen there by Dr. Druce , who reported it (9) in 1926, and I confirm that it is still there "in some abundance", although I do not know of another site for it anywhere in the district. This should clearly be preserved. In the courtyard of Moor Farm there are two objects of note: (i) a very largo boulder of unusual shape said to have been taken from the fields at Parmoor , and (ii) a finely carved Italian stone well head with wrought ironwork above, purchased from Medmenham Abbey.
When the parish of Lane End was constituted, in 1867, Moor Farm was placed in the parish of Hambleden. Well might Dr. Morley Davies (6) write of "this complicated part of the Bucks-Oxon boundary" and remark that Ackhampstead "has so completely lost its identity that the revised parish boundary between Hambleden and Great Marlow cuts across it".
Like most of our ancient place-names, Ackhampstead has varied in its spelling: the Place-Name Society (10) lists the following:
The authors derive the name from Old English achamstede , meaning 'oak-homestead '. Other spellings, obviously variants of the same name , appear in this history, viz. ,
What is the significance of the name Moor End? The Place-Name Society (10) has nothing to say about this. Many, if not most, of the numerous 'ends' in Buckinghamshire follow personal names, and ours may refer to a past family of Moor or More. Stanton (4) thought it might be Mare's End rather than Moor End because a person of that name lived at Moor Farm. Stanton also reports that Thomas More of Medmenham, 'groom of the cellars to the King' was given land (in 1537) at Greys, near Hambleden, after the dissolution of Bisham Abbey, the former owner. Langley (11) relates how the Grenville family owned Widmer manor (in Great Marlow). Hester, widow of Richard Grenville, Esq.., was granted the dignity of a countess of the kingdom of Great Britain by the name, style and title of Countess Temple. Her eldest son Richard Grenville Temple, later Earl Temple, K.G., sold the manor about 1747 to Daniel Moore, Esq.. but first transplanted beech trees from Widmer to the gardens of Stowe. This Mr. Moore sold the estate in 1766 to William Clayton, Esq., It is evident that there were Moor's, More's or Moore's in the district for a long time. In warning that the above named 'Thomas More was not the notable Sir Thomas More, who was executed 6th July 1535, Mr. S.J. Smith (2) remarks that the latter had a son-in-law named Roper: if it could be shown that he had indeed a connection with Ackhampstead or its immediate neighbourhood this might account for the name Roper's or Rope's Hole, or House, that appears near Moor Farm on some old maps. However, this is supposition.
A second possibility is that the early word 'maere', meaning a boundary, is concerned. Local examples are Cadmore, i.e. 'Cada's boundary', on the former Bucks-Oxon county boundary; and Bockmer, i.e. 'Bucca's boundary', on the parish boundary of Medmenham.
Moor may indeed mean a moor as usually understood, as it does in Finnamore, i.e. 'Fenny Moor'. It may also be derived from 'mere' a pond or lake, as in Parmoor , i.e. 'pear-tree mere'; and Widmere, i.e. 'withy mere'. In deciding between the possible origins of 'Moor End' it should not be overlooked that not far from the chapel and farm, in Moor Copse just outside Ackhampstead, there is one of the finest swallet, or swilly holes in the district, if not in the whole of the Chilterns. In wet weather a large pond forms and drains away only slowly. The swallet hole does not seem to have a name today, but Sheahan (7) called it Guvin's Pit.
The Swallet Hole in Moor Copse (in dry weather)
The History of Ackhampstead
Ackhampstead does not appear in Domesday Book (1086), but an account of the Abbey of Abingdon (12) gives the ownership of Lewknor before the conquest (6), including its being granted to the Abbey, 'from sorrow at the under-nourishment of the younger monks', by King Edward the Confessor and Queen Eadgitha in 1052: this includes a reference to Luuechenore "cum membris suas (id est Hachamstede et caeteris)".
Next, Dr. Morley Davies finds (6) that between 1154 and 1158 Ansgerus, a clerk of Lewknor, obtained from Abbot Ingulf for 40 shillings a member of Lewknor called Hacamsteda that hitherto had rendered 50 shillings: this bargain he obtained "tam prece quam pretis - as much by persuasion as by payment".
The Place-Name Society give (10) the source of their 1199 spellings as the Curia Regis Rolls but the subject matter is not known to me. Mr. S.J. Smith (2) found a 'Feet of Fines' reference of this year (1 John, Westminster - 20 Nov. 1199) in which Willehmum do Lega ( = Leigh ?) petitions about "terre cum part. in Akamsted ... la Rugegrave at la Rugecrofte" (Saxon 'rub wyrth' ? - rough farm or enclosure). The same petitioner also appears in a foot of fine (2) in 1222: "Will de Leghe pet. et mag. Jacobus de Lewkenore ten. ½ a hide in Akamstede". William conceded it to Jacob as well as 30 acres, viz. the land between Chisebechfeld and la Morfeld, for his life at a rent of 12 shillings. On the death of Jacob the property would return to William and his heirs. Also (15 Henry III, Westminster - 27th Oct 1231), Matilda de Hettone conceded to Will de Leghe a moiety of 3 virgates (or yardlands, a variable unit of land) in Hakamsted for a rent of 12 pence: William gave Matilda one mark (12s. 4d). Again (31 Henry III, Westminster, Oxford - 3rd June 1247) Will de Leghe recognised that a carucate (i.e. land for one plough) in Achamsted was the right of Thomas de Leghe and the heirs of his body to be held of the chief lords: if' he had no heirs it was to remain to Steven, brother of Thomas, and his heirs. Thomas gave William 20 shillings. Lastly (also Henry III but undated) Will de Lega conceded to Adam de la Stokke and his wife Leticia a croft in Hachamsted called Rowecroft, for the life of Leticia at a rent at 2 shillings. It is suggested (2) that the Leigh's may have given their name to Leygroves in Abefeld.
The earliest reference to the chapel seems to be that of 1242 when a chapel is mentioned in the deanery of Aston (i.e. Aston Rowant) at "Ackhampstead or Chyssebeck". This is reported by Salter (13) and is possibly the sane document as that found by Mr. S. J. Smith (2) in the registers of the Bishop of' Lincoln - the 1241 'ordination' (i.e. deed of endowment) of Lewknor vicarage, which requires the vicar or his curate to celebrate in Ackhampstead chapel every Sunday and on the feasts of the apostles.
There was a tradition (7) that the old chapel was built by two maiden ladies living at the nearby 'manor house'. Another idea was reported by the curate, Rev. Frederick Menzies (4), to the effect that it was built, "supposedly in the 14th century", by the monks of Kenilworth for the use of their swineherds who brought their swine there to feed on the acorns at certain seasons. Yet another tale (14) was that the chapel was built about 1415, but no detail is given. More convincing evidence is given below for building operations about 1412.
Queen Matilda gave Lewknor manor and its appurtenances (6) to Abingdon Abbey in 1278 (Hundred Rolls): Thomas de Lega, kt. (see 1199, above) held two carucates (i.e. land for 2 ploughs) in one tenure for 40 shillings annual rent to the Abbot; these were called Achamstede and Chissebech. Helyas de Wytefeld held half a hide (i.e. about 60 acres) for l8s. 4d annual rent to the kitchener of Abingdon (possibly related to Queen Eadgith 's concern for the hungry young monks in 1052 ?). In spite of these associations of Chisbridge with Ackhampstead, Dr. Morley Davies found that the former was always a Buckinghamshire hamlet in the parish of Hambleden.
In 1342 Pope Clement VI granted a faculty to the Abbey of Abingdon to appropriate the church of Lewknor: this would, of course, also include Lewknor-up-Hill and, therefore, Ackhampstead.
Sir Edmund Crayster of All Souls College, Oxford, has been quoted to me (2) as having seen a copy of a deed of 1374, in which Sir Robert Symeon styles himself Lord of' the Moor and stipulates for a payment of a rent charge at Moor Court, "curia de la More", now a farmhouse between Lewknor and South Weston. This may indicate that the house served as manorial court for a moorland holding in the uplands, i.e. Moor End.
When a faculty was sought in 1849 to pull down the chapel and rebuild it at Cadmore End, much interesting information was reported (5). It was said by counsel that "in ancient times there was a family in the district of the name of Brinckhurst, who are supposed to have been the original founders of the chapel", but he gave no authority for this, unless he intended by implication that it was contained in a document of 1412 that he presented to the court. We have seen that a chapel was mentioned in 1242, so the Brinckhurst's could not have been the original founders: it is probable that the chapel was rebuilt by them about 1412.
The 1412 document (5) was an "inspoximus" , or confirmation by the grantor of his gift, and it set out what belonged to Lewknor - tithes, rights etc. - and the duties of the vicar, who was to appoint a chaplain. Services were to be performed in the chapel every Sunday by one or the other. The chapel was endowed with both great and small tithes; that is, the tithes were specific to Ackhampstead. Note: from early times Christians set aside a tenth part of their goods (crops, cattle or trading profits) for the church. When parishes were formed, these tenths or tithes were assigned to the parish church. Later, the rector took the tithes and sent a substitute to do the parish duties. If the advowson of the church had been given by the lord of' the manor to a monastery, the latter usually kept the 'great tithes' of corn and wool, while the incumbent had the 'lesser tithes' of practically everything else.
Dr. Morley Davies (6) quotes from (15) that in 1429 there was "reversion of the manor of Akhampstede, co. Oxford, held by Thomas Chaucer, esquire, for life". Thomas was son of' the poet Geoffrey Chaucer and is buried at Ewelme at the foot of the Chi1terns: the Purbeck stone tomb has brasses of Thomas (died 1433) and his wife Maud (died 1437). The magnificent canopied tomb with alabaster effigy of their daughter Alice, Duchess of Suffolk (died 1475), wearing the Garter, is of course well known. Thomas Chaucer was member of parliament for Oxfordshire 1400 - 31 and Speaker 1407 - 11.
A 'Court of Requests' document ' (2, 16), not actually dated but of about 1530, records an appeal of one John Rocold to "the Kyng owre Sovreyne Lorde" against a decree of "master doctor t'hurlbye" that he ought to pay 12 shillings yearly to William Richardson, vicar of Lewknor, out ot his lands in hamolden (Hambleden). Rocold claimed that whereas the vicar "for that Rentt and other tythes and profetts" should "wekely eny Sunday and eny Apostylls day to fynd a prest in Akamstede chapell", there is "no masse songe some tymes in vi weks together". The vicar had said the 12 shillings had been paid by Rocold' s grandfather, but he "dyscesyd abowght xiiij yeres past" and no one before him had paid: moreover, Rocold claimed "all hys londs bene entaylyd to him and have bene two hundred yers past and more". The document ends "and yor sayd Orator shal dayly pray for the prescrvacyon of yor grace longe to endure". We do not know if this final promise made Rocold's appeal successful.
In 1545 the Crown sold the lordship of the manor of Lewknor (2), together with the manor of Moor Court (see 1374, above) and the land called Moorlands, together with a cottage "beside the Moor Chapel". The name Moor Chapel was commonly used in the 19th century. There seems to be no other evidence for a cottage close beside the chapel and it is possible that one of the buildings near Moor Farm was intended - or even the old cottage at Moor End, near Moore Copse ?
The Oxford diocesan papers at the Bodleian Library include a series of dispositions in the Bishop's Consistory Court (2). In 1605 a witness deposed that about twenty years before (i.e. about 1585) the chapel at Ackhampstead was 'decayed' and the inhabitants built the nave, whereas Mr. Wright, vicar of Lewknor built the chancel and then 'began to find' a minister or reader in the said chapel for the inhabitants of Ackhampstead. However, another witness said that Mr. Wright refused to repair the chancel or to provide anyone to read divine service until an inhabitant had complained to the Archbishop of Canterbury and obtained an injunction!
In 1685 the vicar, chapel wardens and some of the inhabitants signed a 'terrier' (5), or account of the extent and rights of land, etc. After stating "housing there are not any", a surprising observation, it estimates there were 5½ acres of glebe. Besides the great and small tithes from Ackhampstead and Finnamore, the chapel, received 12 shillings yearly from the founders and their successors. For persons who were married out of the parish by 1icence the chapel received one shilling for the banns and two shillings for the marriage. Easter offerings were two pence each, while offerings from women upon churching after childbirth were sixpence each. The chapel also received the small tithes from Cadmore End (and half the small tithes of Dells (2) - a farm in Abefeld), although this was contested. "On these grounds it was clearly to be held that this chapel was a parochial chapel" and not a mere chapel of ease; it was a "separate district church given to the vicar of Lewknor" and "it was, then, to be inferred that it had been a consecrated chapel". It may be noted in this connection that in a grant of land to Edward Tomlinson and Anthony Page dated 1579 there is mention (2) of "the late free chapel called More Chapel" - free, yes, but why "the late" chapel?
The next reference to Ackhampstead, in chronological order, was :found by Mr. S. J. Smith in a bundle of deeds in. the Records Office at Aylesbury. In 1715 a cottage in the tithing of Plumridge, Lewknor (at Cadmore End (2)? ) then occupied as two tenements by William Turner and by John Plomeridge (assignment from William Turner) and his wife Elizabeth was given to the churchwardens and overseers of Lewknor and the chapelwardens of Ackhampstead in trust for the poor of the parish. The same cottage, then in three tenements, was assigned by the churchwardens to Bartholomew Tipping in 1755 in exchange for a freehold messuage at Cadmore End.
At Tippings, Stokenchurch is a manuscript 'History of the Free School of Stokenchurch' by Thomas Delafield, curate at Fingest in 1746. This was shown to Mr. S. J. Smith, who tells me that it mentions William King, master of Stokenchurch from 1705 to 1725, as being a one time curate of Moor Chapel who married a wealthy ·wife. Among the Diocesan Visitation Returns (2) in The Bodleian Library the earliest is dated 1738, in which it says that there was only an afternoon service at Ackhampstead, onoe a fortnight in summer and once a month in winter. The arrangement was unchanged in 1790 but in 1808 a morning service was held once a fortnight throughout the year. In 1768 and 1771 sacraments where administered four times a year to about 20 communicants.
Discussing the formerly common plurality of curacies, Diana McClatchey instances (17) John Holland who, in 1783, was serving the church at Lewknor with the chapel at Ackhampstead, as well as the churches of Pyrton and Shirburn. Quoting from Oxford diocesan manuscripts, she says that in 1784 the rector of Lewknor was Dr. Daniel Slater, who lived at Princes Risborough, Mr. Holland served at Lewknor "and at Ackhampstead chapel annexed 9 miles distant, for not more than £30. N. B. Service only once a fortnight in summer and once a month in winter at Ackhampstead, and Mr. Holland pays £7. 4s. out of his stipend to some clergyman for it". In 1796 (17) "Lord Howard and Mr. Joseph Copestake Townsend pay £50 to the curate of Ackhampstead annually and Mr. Townsend desires service may be oftener on account of the augmentation. Chapel out of repair".
During the last years of active life of the chapel the vicar of Lewknor, who was of course responsible for it, was the Rev. Edward Brietzcka Dean and the living was in the gift of All Souls College, Oxford (5). In fact, when All Souls College was founded by Henry VI and Archbishop Chichele a bull was granted by the Pope (Florence, 3rd July 1440) impropriating the benefice of Lewknor to the College (copied (2) from Lewknor Church History, in the church 1961). It is interesting to note (17) that the Rev. Dean found it necessary in July 1853 to complain that the Radcliffe Infirmary "sometimes discharged its patients in so exhausted a condition that they had considerable difficulty in making the return journey to their homes". He came to a 'satisfactory arrangement' with the vicar of Hambleden (5), who undertook to provide a curate for the services at Ackhampstead. This curate was the Rev. Frederick Menzies (4), a college friend who helped the vicar, the Rev. William Henry Ridley, eldest son of the former vicar, Henry Colborne Ridley. .Although the Ridley's played an important role in the history of Frieth and Lane End, they seem scarcely to have affected the story of Ackhampstead. The Rev. Menzies lived at first at Skirmett, later at Lower Parmoor: he said the district around the chapel was then almost heathen, many of the people being unbaptised (4). Yet the congregations at Ackhampstead "usually consisted of 80 or 90 individuals"; of these only about 20 came from Lewknor-up-Hill and some 50 were resident at Hambleden, others came from adjoining parishes. If we accept the same authority's estimate (5) of the population of Ackhampstead as 58, we should today regard 20 attendances as very satisfactory! However, it was then considered the population was so scattered in hilly country that "there would be obstacles to the attendance of any large proportion of the inhabitants".
There was at that time one service in the day and it was held alternately in the morning and the evening (5). Unfortunately, complaints were made to Bishop Bagot of Oxford that the evening service was at an inconvenient time, 6.0 p.m. and the Bishop ordered that the services should in future take place "at the canonical hours of 10 and half-past 2". Baptism was the only rite performed in the chapel: for their marriages and burials the parishioners had to go elsewhere. Yet we have seen that in 1685 dues were fixed for marriages and 'churching'; standards had obviously fallen.
The End of Ackhampstead
Those living in the Cadmore End part of Lewknor-up-Hill decided that it was too far for them to go to Ackhampstead for their services: they arranged a vestry meeting (5) to take place at Cadmore End on 12th August, 1847. At this meeting it was resolved to make application to the Bishop for a faculty to remove the chapel from Ackhampstead to Cadmore End. It appears that the vicar of Lewknor and the Bishop of Oxford had already expressed a wish "to provide as far as possible for the whole district ... they considered it expedient" to move the chapel to "a more convenient district at Cadmore End". This, of course, would create an exactly similar inconvenience to the Ackhampstead people, and they protested. However, at a meeting held at Cuddesdon, it was proposed by the Bishop and "assented to by the vicar and the parishioners that a new chapel should be built at Cadmore End". It was alleged their intention was that, when the new chapel had been built, the Ackhampstead chapel should be transferred to Hambleden parish, and the curate (Rev. Menzies) had already "gone to work and called for subscriptions to erect a new chapel at Frieth, in the parish of Hambleden".
A Consistorial Court of the Diocese was held on 28th April, 1849 in the vestry of the church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford to hear the views of the parties on the application for the faculty, which was for the demolition of' the Ackhampstead chapel and its rebuilding at Cadmore End. The proceedings were reported in full detail in the newspaper called the Oxford University City and County Herald, which also reported the Judgement, granting the faculty, in a later issue (5).
The Court was presided over by Dr. Phillimore, Chancellor of the Diocese. The promoters were the Rev. Edward Brietzcke Dean, vicar of Lewknor "and others"; the opposers were Sir William Robert Clayton, Bart., Joseph Townsend, Esq. "and other parishioners of' Ackhampstead". The vicar's brother-in-law, R.R. Dean, Esq., barrister-at-law appeared for the promoters, and George Lathom Browne, Esq., barrister-at-law for the opposers, whose solicitor was Mr. Taunton of' Oxford.
A proportion of the history given in the present typescript was provided in evidence by one or other of the parties, and will not now be repeated, One question was the status of the application itself, which had been signed by the vicar of Lewknor; Philip Wroughton, Esq., proprietor of land in Cadmore End; William Curtis, chapelwarden; and William Trafford, overseer. All of these persons lived in the Cadmore End area. Moreover , the vestry meeting was "held at a public house at Cadmore End" and one senses that the Ackhampstead people felt there had been a little sharp practice about it. However, they could not escape the fact that they could only muster 58 inhabitants; as against the 114 of Cadmore End, even if the vestry meeting did represent only 1,094 of the 2,102 acres in the whole of Lewknor-up-Hill. The following rateable values were also given at the Court:
Rent charge paid to vicar of Lewknor-up-Hill for services at Ackhampstead chapel:
Where the remainder of the £190. 10. 0d. came from is not revealed.
There was discussion as to whether the Chancellor, Dr. Phillimore, could rightly hear the case: it was thought the Bishop should preside. Dr. Phillimore corrected the latter view, saying that "nothing can be more complete than the surrender of all his powers to me". The Court was told that the Bishop had given his opinion as spiritual superior of the parish in a letter to the promoters in March 1849: he favoured moving the chapel "both as to the change of site and the plans and estimates for the proposed new chapel at Cadmore End, all of which charges he considered well calculated to promote the spiritual advantage of the district". The Counsel for Ackhampstead commented adversely on this action by the Bishop.
Also it was contended that the Chancellor, presiding at that Court, was not invested "with the power of sanctioning the demolition of the said chapel, and the removal of it to another and different site in the manner proposed. We have looked in vain for any written authority for such a proceeding. The utmost extent of episcopal power on the subject which we can discover is "that if a church be so much out of repair that it is necessary to pull it down, or so little that it needs to be enlarged" the major part of the parishioners, having first obtained the consent of' the Ordinary to what is needful and meet, upon due notice, may make a rate for new building, or enlarging, as there may be occasion". It should be noted that no one suggested the chapel was ruinous, so it is fairly certain that it was not so. Many precedents of' various degrees of similarity were quoted by Counsel and by Dr. Phillimore in his Judgement, in which he concluded that he had the necessary power. The Chancellor then gave his reasons for deciding that to move the chapel was expedient concluding his remarks as follows: "He would grant the faculty, but "praestetur sufficiente cautione",[be given sufficient caution] for he should expect a bond for £800 to be given for the proper finishing of the new chapel and all the expenses attending the same, and he should also direct a clause to be inserted for securing that the arrangement should be effected without having recourse to a rate upon the parish; and there must be another clause to protect the site of the old chapel from desecration".
Dr. K.E. Kirk, Bishop of Oxford" wrote (14) "It is said to be the only instance of such a faculty on record". Of the £800, it was said (5) by Counsel for the promoters that the Diocesan Church Building Society had contributed £60 towards the object and that £600 had already been raised. I understand that :Mrs. Wroughton of Ibstone House was the one mainly responsible for the building of the church. (2)
During the Court hearing, it was contended by the promoters (5) that the Ackhampstead parishioners would not suffer unduly, because the new chapel at Frieth would be convenient, and Dr. Phillimore said that the latter would be consecrated, according to public notice, within the next three weeks i.e. from his Judgement of 14th May, 1849. However, Counsel for the opposers argued that Frieth "was likely to be an increasing district in point of population, and to that increasing district would accrue the legal right which the inhabitants had to accommodation in the new chapel. How, then, could this be an equivalent to the inhabitants of Ackhampstead for the loss of their chapel?" The arrangement with the vicar of Hambleden to take services at Ackhampstead might not be continued by the successors of Revs. Ridley and Menzies. It is thought peculiar (2) that throughout the hearing no one mentioned the nearby church in Lane End, which had been consecrated in 1832. It seems that for some reason the Lane End parish was not legally constituted until 1867 (by Order in Council) - this might explain the omission.
After the Chancellor had given his Judgement (5), "the learned Counsel for the opposers remarked that this decision left untouched the important question which was raised in the pleading, whether the new chapel at Frieth, in another parish, afforded an equivalent for the spiritual advantages enjoyed at the existing chapel, upon which the opposers strongly rested their case".
Having disposed of the chapel, the Consistorial Court had, in fact, sealed the fate of the decaying Ackhampstead . In 1885 it was officially merged with Hambleden, but for education and poor relief it was included in the parish of Great Marlow (18?). The baptismal registers were taken to the new chapel at Cadmore End, which was duly consecrated in 1851 and was dedicated to St. Mary le Moor to preserve the link with the old Moor Chapel.
St Mary Le Moor, Cadmore End. Image by Nigel Cox
There is no doubt that some of the material from the demolished chapel was used in the new and it is possible, but not certain (2), that the single bell was transferred. Mr. S. J. Smith's grandmother, Ellen Carpenter, saw the Moor Chapel pulled down and stood outside the new chapel during its consecration: an aunt prevented her from going inside!
The Registers of Baptisms
I am indebted to Mr. S. J. Smith, who has examined the Ackhampstead registers, for the information in these paragraphs. The two registers covered the periods (i) 7th May 1786 to 4th May 1812 and (ii) 7th February 1813 to 11th February1912.
In the early register the first baptism is that of John Stone and the last, that of Harriet Elizabeth Webb. There are 84 entries and a list of family names is given on a separate sheet of this history. The register ends with a note by the curate, Richard Hunt, explaining that the new register book for baptisms is as required by Act of Parliament. It is then suggested that the register did not go back earlier than 1786 because it had previously been the custom to make an annual report to the vicar of Lewknor, who returned a copy with that from the mother church at the annual visitation. The chapelwardens were then, 29th May 1813, Joseph Webb and James Trendall. The curate before Richard Hunt was a Mr. Sears.
The first entry in the later register was that of Samuel Plumridge. The curates following Richard Hunt were: Charles D. Farnshaw and Frederick Lee: D. Davies, G.E.C. Walker, Charles Peers, Richard Walker, Henry Tufnall Young, Henry Palmer, F.A. Powys, Isaac Fiddler, Frederick Bissel, W.A. Ridley and lastly, Frederick Menzies all sign the register as "Officiating Minister". For two entries only, in 1834, J. Peers signs as "Curate of Ackhampstead" but he was vicar of Lane End. On one occasion only, in 1841, the register was signed by John C.B. Riddell, "Vicar".
During the first 17 years of Lane End church there were 101 baptisms at Ackhampstead, whereas in the previous 17 years there had been only 61: the competition seems to have been stimulating! The occupations of the parents were those to be expected in a rural community, but an unusual one is found in September 1842 when Charles and Sarah Woodman brought their daughter to be baptised at the chapel; they had come all the way from Steventon in Berkshire, where the father was "Policeman on the Great Western Railway".
The last entry in the Moor chapel register, before it went to Cadmore End, was 22nd .April 1849: Isaac, son of Thomas and Charlotte Brazull of Moor Common. There is a general belief that the last baptism was of a Collier in 1846, but the last entry for that family was Thomas George, son of Thomas and Hannah Collier, farmer of Frieth - on 27th April 1845. The Brazull entry is in the middle of a page and there is no indication that the new church was concerned until the top of the next page. The register closes, with an entry, at Cadmore End of course, on 11th February 1912.
Mr. S. J. Smith noticed in the old register, 2nd December 1810 "Olive the son of Thomas and Ann Carpenter". This was his great-grandfather, whose name was Oliver: when the mother was asked for the child's name she gave the customary familiar form "Olly". In the new register there appear: 30th October 1842, Ellen daughter of Holly and Diana Carpenter of Mozzels (Muswell) Farm. This was Mr. Smith's grandmother, and again the name "Olly" seems to have defeated the curate!
Some Dramatis Personae
John Rokolde, who pleaded about payment of tithes, about 1530, seems to have had a variant of a name, Rockell, that is still to be found in the Marlow/High Wycombe area. The Place-Name Society (10) reports Rockwell End in the forms Rocolte (1307), Rokholte (1340) and Rockall End (about 1825), remarking that Rockall occurs frequently in Great Marlow Registers. A Thomas de la Rocolte lived in the early 14th century (18).
The pedigree of Brinkhurst of Great Marlow is reproduced here from that in the Herald's Visitation (19) of 1634. John Brinkhurst, the founder in 1608 of the Oxford Lane almshouses in Marlow for four, later six, poor widows died in 1614 owning land called Moorland: at that time he had lived at Moor Farm (18). It may have been this John who in 1600 was the ''Mr. Brinckhurste" who paid 10s. 4f. "for 34 foote of tymber for the Bell frame" in the church (20). It is supposed (18) that the John Brinkhurst whose tomb of 1681 in Marlows old Church is listed by Langley (11) was our John's nephew and heir. who forfeited his lands in 1653 for recusancy. The 'Episcopal Visitations Book' presents (2) in 1662 "John Brinchurst esquire with his wife and part of his family, recusants within our parish" (Marloe Magna). It was convenient for recusants to live in an area 'detached' from the main part of the county - Bucks authorities would have had no powers within Lewknor-up-Hill and the Oxford authorities would seldom make the journey to it. We find a similar situation used by the Quakers who met at Thomas Ellwood's house at Hunger Hill, a detached part of Hertfordshire near Coleshill and Amersham.
At the time of the Consistorial Court the district of Ackhampstead was divided (5) between two owners only: Sir William Robert Clayton and Mr. Joseph Townsend who had 309 and 135 acres respectively. Counsel for the proposers was careful to point out that neither of these gentlemen lived at Ackhampstead!
Mr. Townsend came of a family that bought Woodend in 1730: Langley (11), writing in 1797, says that in Medmenham parish is "Wood-end, the seat of Joseph Townsend, Esq.., whose grandfather purchased it in 1730". Lipscomb (21) records the tomb of William Townsend, died 1836, and other tombs of the family, in Medmenham church; Sheahan (7) mentions that Joseph Townsend was living at Wood End in 1862; lastly, the "Domesday" return of land owners (22) in 1873 shows Mrs. Townsend of Lewknor-up-Hill as owning 51 acres 2 roods 28 poles of land having gross estimated rental £39. 11s.
Sir William Robert Clayton, Bart. (pedigree on separate sheet) succeeded to Harleyford House (18), to the west of Marlow in 1866. He was described (23) as "5th baronet, of White Hall co. Norfolk, the Cottage near Marlow; Marden Park co Surrey, and Harleyford co. Bucks and Gloucester Place, Portman Square, London". He was member of Parliament for Marlow in 1836. The Harleyford estate was bought by his ancestor Sir William Clayton in 1735. Other purchases in the district by the family included the manors of Great Marlow, Widmer and Hambleden. The last named was bought by Sir Robert Clayton in 1696 and remained in the family until it was sold in 1802 to Robert Scott of Danefield. (18)
Lastly, there remains the Lord Howard who, in 1796, was contributing to the payment of the curate. It seemed that no Lord Howard lived near Ackhampstead or owned land there: his identity was obscure to me until the D.N.B. (24) yielded the following information. John, the eldest son of William Whitwell and his wife Ann, sister of Lord Griffin of Braybrook, was born in 1719 at Oundle, Northamptonshire. In 1749, by Act of Parliament, he assumed the name of Griffin and in that year he inherited his aunt's share of the Saffron Walden estate in Essex: he also inherited from her Audley House. He had a military career, and became member of parliament for Andover in 1749 but in 1784 lost his seat on becoming 4th Baron Howard de Walden. He married twice: the first wife, 1749, was Anne Mary, daughter of John Baron Schutz; the second, 1765, was Catherine, daughter of William Clayton, Esq. of Harleyford, Bucks. Lord Howard became Baron Braybrooke of Braybrooke, Northamptonshire in 1788 and died in 1797 without issue, I presume that the second wife hold some, at least, of the Clayton land in Ackhampstead.
Family Names in the first Ackhampstead baptism register (2) 1786 - 1812
Bracketed numbers here indicate the numbr of times the names occur.
1. Beresford, Maurice, The Lost Villages of England, 1954
2. Mr. Sidney J. Smith, private communication
3. Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England). An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire (South), vol. I, 1912.
4. Stanton, A.H., On Chiltern Slopes, the Story of Hambleden, 1927.
5. Report of the Hearing before the Consistorial Court of the Lord Bishop of Oxford; Oxford University, City and County Herald, 5th May, 1849; and Judgement ... ibid., 19th May, 1849.
6. Davies, Dr. A. Mor1ey, Abefeld and Ackhampstead, Records of Buckinghamshire, vol. XV, pt.3, pp. 166-171 (1949); pt. 4, p.277 (1950). Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society.
7. Sheahan, J.J., History and Topography of Buckinghamshire, 1862.
8. Quarterly Magazine of the High Wycombe Natural History Society, vol.II, pt.3, p.62 (1869).
9. Druce, G.C., The Flora of Buckinghamshire, 1926.
10. English Place-Name Society, vol. II. The Place-Names of Buckinghamshire, by A. Hawer and F.M. Stanton, 1925.
11. Langley, Thomas, History and Antiquities of the Hundred of Desborough ... 1797.
12. Stevenson, J., editor, Historia (or Chronicon) Monasterii de Abingdon, vol. I, 1858.
13. Salter, H.E. in Victoria County History of Oxfordshire, vol.II, pp. 58-9, referring to Linc. Epis. Reg. Grosteste Inst.
14. Kirk, K.E., Church Dedications of the Oxford Diocese, 1946.
15. Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1422-9, p. 535.
16. 'Court of Requests' Document No. 112, Public Records Qf'fice, bundle No.6. (ca. 1530).
17. McClatchey, Diana, Oxfordshire Clergy, 1777 - 1869, 1960.
18. Page, W. editor, Victoria County History of the County of Buckingham, vol. III, 1925.
19. Rylands, W.H. editor, Visitation of the County of Buckingham made in 1634 ... the Harleian Society, vol. LVIII (1909).
20. Cocks, A.H., Church Bells of Buckinghamshire, 1897.
21. Lipscomb, G., History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham, vol. III, 1847.
22. England and Kales (Exclusive of the Metropolis), Return of Owners of Lend 1873, vol., I, 1875.
23. Berry, Wm., County Genealogies, Pedigrees of Buckinghamshire Families, 1837.
24. Lee, Sidney, editor, Dictionary of National Biography, voL, X, 1909.
ISBN: 0950018600 DDC: 942.5