Arthur Clear: A Thousand Years of Winslow Life (1888)

pp.5-6 on the living, tithes and advowson of St Laurence church

The Living of "Winslow was for many generations under the spiritual authority of St. Albans Abbey, and it was returned in 1534 as being of the annual value of £11 5 8.

In 1573, Queen Elizabeth, (after reciting the demise dated 1534, by the Abbot and Convent of the late Monastery of St. Albans, to John Boston, of the Rectory of Winslow, and all fruits and tenths of corn and hay, within the parish of Winslow and. fields there, and in Shipton hamlet, with a barn and close, for 40 years, at the annual rent of £14), for divers, causes, and considerations, demised the Rectory to David de Leys, goldsmith, from Ladyday, 1584, for 21 years, at the beforementioned rent.

Again, in 1595, the Queen demised to Henry Best, the Rectory of Winslow, and all tithes of grain and hay in the parish and fields of Winslow and Shipton, with a barn and close to the said Rectory belonging, from Ladyday, 1605, for 31 years, paying yearly the sum of £14.

In 1606, King James I granted to Sir John Fortescue and Richard Tomlyne, the Rectory and Church of Winslow, and the tithes of Winslow and Shipton, with a tithe barn and close of pasture, to hold the same in fee, paying yearly £14 rent, and in 1619, the King granted the same to Lawrence Whitaker and Henry Price, at the same yearly rent.

After the Reformation, the Advowson of Winslow was reserved to the Crown, & made part of the See of London, being wholly exempted from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Lincoln, in whose Diocese the County of Bucks was then situate. After some temporary changes the patronage again became vested in the crown, and the impropriation was given to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's Cathedral, its ecclesiastical government being vested in the Bishop of London, subject to the Archdeacon of St. Albans.

The Crown still retains the patronage, the presentation to the living being made by the Lord Chancellor for the time being. Since 1845, Winslow has formed part of the Diocese of Oxford.

The great tithes, after having been appropriated for centuries to the support of St. Albans Abbey, were, as we have before mentioned, sold by Queen Elizabeth in 1599, away from the Church, and hence­forth became the private property of the Lord of the Manor, this however, did not affect the Living, the Vicar receiving the small tithes as before.

About 1730 a disagreement arose between the Rev. James Edmonds, the then Vicar, and the inhabitants of Shipton, respecting "Tithe Milk," the ground of the Vicar's claim being that as the inhabitants of Winslow had long been accustomed to pay a tithe of milk in kind, he maintained that he was also entitled to the same dues from the township of Shipton.

From a written statement of the matter in dispute, we learn that "The Inhabitants of Winslow and Shipton by custom, have payed for Easter Offerings twopence a head for everyone that is above sixteen years of age, and a garden penny for every family in lieu of tithes in garden stuff. For every calf, at the fall of it, the sum of fourpence, but no tithe for colts has ever been paid or demanded. The Vicar has every tenth lamb wean'd in the Parish, which he is to take on St. Mark's day, if not otherwise agreed upon;and for sheep wintered in the fields of Winslow-cum-Shipton, every tenth fleece of wool, to be taken at shearing time; and for sheep bought in after Candlemas, a groat per month, for every 100 sheep so bought, and so on in proportion for any lesser quantity. On Hock Munday, being the Munday s' night after Easter, they - (Winslow, exclusive of Shipton), begin to pay to the Vicar the tenth meal of milk, and so continue to do till the first day of August, when the tithing time for milk ceases utill Michaelmas Day at night, and they begin again as before, until the 11th day of November called Martinmas Day, and then no more until the next Hock Munday.

The inhabitants of Shipton aforesaid, have time out of mind, paid for their cow's common throughout the fields belonging to the said township, to the Vicar of Winslow and Shipton, after the rate of tenpence for each cow's common per annum, on St. Martins Day, and that no other demands, within the memory of man, have been paid for tithe milk, or for any dues claimed, within the said township."

How this dispute was settled does not appear, but in 1743 an Act of Parliament was passed for "Dividing and Enclosing the Common Fields in the Hamlet of Shipton." This Act gives the names of nineteen persons who were siezed or possessed of the Common Fields at Shipton, amounting to 640 acres or thereabouts, and states that Richard Lowndes, Esq., was Lord of the Manor, and siezed of the impropriate tithes of all corn, grain and hay, arising or growing, within the said Hamlet. That James Edmonds was Vicar of Winslow, and in right of that Vicarage was entitled to certain Vicarial Tithe arising and renewing within the parish. And it directed the Commissioners appointed under the Act "to appoint and allot unto the said James Edmonds, and his successors, Vicars of the Parish Church of Winslow for the time being.- one Close of Greensward, known by the name of Smithell Close, with as much land out of the Red Field thereunto adjoining as together shall be of the yearly value of £30, when inclosed."

pp.8-10 on the parish registers

By an Act passed in 1666, for the encouragement of Woollen Manufacturers, and the prevention of the exportation of monies for buying and importing linen, it was enacted that after March 25th, 1667, no person should be-"buried in any shirt, shift, or sheete, other than should be made of wooll only; " the provisions of the Act were so strict that even the quilting round the inside of the coffin and the ligature round the feet of the corpse were required to be of woollen. This statute was generally disobeyed, and the penalty seldom enforced, to remedy this, a more stringent Act was passed in. 1678, which obliged a Clergyman to make an entry in the Register that an affidavit had been brought to him within eight days after the burial, certifying that the requirements of the law had been fulfilled. Any breach of this Act rendered the offender liable to a penalty of Five Pounds, of which one moiety went to the poor, the other to the informer.
In 1679, a new Register Book was commenced, the first entry being as follows – “A Register of all Burialls in the Parish of Winslow, in the County of Bucks, appointed by an Act for Burying in Woolen, for the year 1679, also of all affidavits, brought, or not brought from the last account of the Overseers of the Poor of Winslow. This Book was brought before us, Aprill, 1680 - Robert Lovell, Edm. West, Bern. Turney."

The number of burials in 1679, was 25, and in each instance a certificate appears to have been produced, or an affidavit made, that the deceased was duly buried in woollen, according to law. In 1700, there were 40 christenings, 4: marriages, and 44 burials, a number of deaths out of all proportion to the population. A few years after we find the following peculiar entries, viz-1713, April 21st, buried, Williarn Gyles, "Antichristian Baptist," and a few months after, November 2nd, 1713, another Willm. Gyles, (probably the son), is also denominated an Antichristian Baptist.

This family was one of good position in the town. They were staunch Nonconformists. In 1696, Wm. Gyles the elder, and Daniel Gyles his son, surrendered the Baptist Chapel to certain trustees, for charitable uses in connection with the Baptist body. Several members of the family were buried within the Chapel, where their memorial slabs may still be found, and up to 1884 several grave-stones bearing the name were standing at the east end of the Church, but are now laid down as pavement round the Chancel.

Under the date 1715-6, an old mode of spelling is revived in the Church Register, the town being designated Wynslow.
In 1716 is recorded the burial on April 28th, of ye Reverend Mr. John Croft, Vicar. In 1728 there appears to have been the large number of 44 burials. A memo. relating to this period states, -"the Register of Burials from A.D. 1739 to 1745, has been for some years missing, no evidence can be obtained that it ever existed. The deficiency however may be supplied from a small pocket book in vellum, probably belonging to the Clerk of the Parish, in which burials are recited from 1736 to 1761."

At the commencement of the year 1752 (new style) appears the following paragraph,-"According to a late Act of Parliament, the year of our Lord begins January 1 st, 1752," and later on is another entry that "Eleven nominal days are omitted in September, 1752, in conformity to a late Act of Parliament. On the 18th June, 1758, is recorded the burial of one "Bartholomew Platt, (Player)” [London Evening Post, 11 July 1758: lately died at Winslow the faccetious Bat Plat, well known formerly for his Performance of several humourous Songs.], and on the 27th of the same month, there occurs that of Jane Morris, (Stroller). On the 1st May, 1767, the Rev. Alexander Markham, (Clerk), Vicar of East Claydon and Steeple Claydon, was buried at Winslow. The burial of two Parish Clerks, both named William Winman, occured in quick succession, viz. 1769 and 1774; and on the 30th January, 1775, was buried the Rev. John Rawbone, Vicar. The number of deaths recorded in 1781 are 24, and this appears to have been about the average of the previous hundred years.

In 1787, May 9th; is the pathetic entry of the burial of some poor unfortunate wayfarer, who is described as a "Stroller, ignotus nomine” his very name being unknown.

In the first year of the present century there were 33 baptisms and 16 deaths. In 1807, the burial fees were increased,-"Memo, Nov. 1807, - The Ministers Burial Fee, increased by consent of the Parish, to three shillings, "J. Preedy, Vicar. In 1830, the following interesting particulars respecting an old inhabitant are given in the Church Register, by Mr. Preedy. "William Ovitts was the second person who enlisted into Elliott's Regiment of Light Dragoons, in 1758. He was known to have been an excellent and brave soldier while he served in that regiment, from which he received his discharge 37 or 40 years since. In the battle of Freyburgh, which happened near the conclusion of the "Seven Years War," when the then Hereditary Prince of Brunswick was attempted to be carried off the Field a prisoner, by French Dragoons, a foot soldier named Ovitts, single-handed, galloped after them, killed the three French soldiers, and rescued the Prince. In this gallant exploit he was badly wounded. The Prince took him to his quarters and had him carefully attended, until his wounds were healed, gave him a purse of 100 guineas, and recommended him for promotion. The latter favour he modestly declined, on account of his education and habits being such as were not suited to any rank above that of a private soldier [after his discharge]. He lived the remainder of his life in this parish. His Grace the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, being made acquainted with his character and conduct, for some years previously to his death, settled on him an allowance of one shilling a day. He was buried on Nov. 20th, 1830, on the south side of the tower."

"Memo. In the year 1829, leave was given by the Vicar and Churchwardens, to the several occupiers of the houses on the south side of the Churchyard, from the Blacksmiths Shop, then in the occupation of Mr. Edward Gray, to the principal entrance from the town to the Church, to enclose at their own cost a portion of ground sixteen-and-a-half feet from each of such houses for gardens, upon condition that each occupier of such houses should pay annually for each such garden, to the Vicar for the time being, if demanded, sixpence. This memo was ordered to be inserted in the Parish Register, by the Rev. John James Watson, Archdeacon of St. Albans. James Preedy, Vicar; Samuel Dudley, .Richard Walker, C.W."

pp.11-13 on St Laurence church

The following description of the Parish Church, was given in 1883 by Mr. John Oldrid Scott, the Architect, who subsequently carried out its restoration.

“Winslow Parish Church is a building full of interest, and although it has suffered from the usual neglect of bygone times, it has received no irreparable injury, while its structure is in unusually good repair, so far as its stability is concerned.  The Church consists of a nave of four bays, a large Chancel, a Western Tower, and North and South aisles.  There is a fine late Porch on the south side of the building, and the Church was originally completed by a Sacristy to the North of the Chancel, this has now disappeared, but its doorway remains.  Generally speaking, the Church dates from the end of the thirteenth century, or the beginning of the next. Indeed the whole is of this period, with the following exceptions-the upper stage of the Tower, the south porch, various windows, especially the east window, which were inserted in Perpendicular times, the upper part of the Clerestory, the five windows of the aisles, and the roofs throughout. The windows at the west end are all original, as are two others, one in the Chancel, and one in the north aisle. - One Clerestory window also remains on each side these are small cusped circles. Inside, the stonework is on the whole in a good state and will require but little doing to it; unhappily none of the ancient fittings remain, nor any trace of them beyond the marks of the old rood screen, and of the parcloses which once filled the nave arches at its eastern end, parting off the chapels which were then at the ends of the two aisles. The pulpit is Jacobean and of very good design, and there are some curious gates at the entrance to the Chancel. During my visit, the old sacristy door, the piscina in the Chancel, and another of somewhat unusual design in the south aisle, were brought to light, as well as an aumbrey, also in the south aisle. The beauty of the church is much hidden at present by galleries etc., when these obstructions are cleared away, the fine proportions of the church will be seen. The church is so very good in itself, that it well deserves good treatment."

The Tower, 64 feet high, contains six bells, and a small Sanctus Bell. Lipscomb states that these were cast from an older peal of five bells, by Keene of Woodstock, in June 1668, and gives the weight of the old bells as 7,500 lbs., and the new ones 6,800 lbs.; only two bells now remain of the latter peal, viz., the fourth and fifth.

The Sanctus bell is the oldest, and bears this inscription, "Robert Atton made me 1611" "W. Lovnes, W. Giles. T. Tomlin ---Gibbard ---witch, benefactors (gave) this Bel." (Cast at Buckingham.)

Second, "Rev. W. W. Mc Creight, Vicar 1846" "Samuel Graves Dudley, Thomas Moorcroft, Churchwardens,"-"C. & G. Mears, Founders, London."

Third, "Thomas Smallbone, John Godwyn, Charles Boiler [i.e. Bowler], C.W.1670," the third bell originally cast by Keene in 1668, appears to have had only a short existence - having been re-cast in 1670.

Fourth, “1668.” Fifth, “1668.” (Dates only, no inscriptions)

Sixth, "John Gibbs, John Dudley, Thomas Ingram, Churchwardens 1777," "Park & Chapman, of London Fecit."
The church is not rich in monumental Tablets and Brasses, yet some have escaped the hands of the restorer, and the ravages of time, but few, if any, occupy the same position in which they were to be found previous to the recent restoration.

In the centre aisle immediately under the clerk's desk was a monumental brass-with deceased's coat of arms, effigies of a man and woman, two boys and five girls, in the dress of the period, with hands folded as in the attitude of prayer, and the following inscription,-"Here lyeth under this stone, the body of Thomas Ffige Gent, and Jane his wife, who had issue by her ii sonnes and v daughters, and dyed ye xxi of Novemb 1578" (This Brass is now placed in the Chancel.)

Monumental Brass in floor of Chancel with effigy of a female, and inscribed as follows,-here lyeth buryed the corps of Dorothy Barnard daughter and co-heir of Ralph Allway, late of Shenley in the covnty of Hartford Esq., who departed this life ye 15th day of Aprill, Ao Dni 1634, aetatis svae 96.

In the floor of the Chancel was a massive flag stone, in which was inserted a diamond shaped piece of black marble, bearing this inscription "Here lyeth the body of Edward Baswell, Gent, who departed this life August ye 30th 1689." (There is a very prevalent local tradition that he was king of the gipsies.) This is now missing.

On a small mural monument formerly affixed to the pier at the east end of the north aisle and nave, and now laid flat in the Chancel under the Choir seats is the following inscription, "Here Lyes interr'd the body of Sarah, Relict of Mr. Tho. Egerton, daughter of ye pious and learned Tho. Fyge, Gent  -the last Heir male of that Family, who departed this life, March ye 19th,1706, leaving behind him Five other Daughters. She bequeathed to the Poor of this Parish of Winslow, (where she Deceased, February ye 7th, 1722, in the 53rd year other age and directed to be buried among her Ancestors,) the annual sum of Twenty Shillings.

In vain I strove to be with quiet blest;
Various sorrows wreck't my destin'd Brest,
And I could only in the grave find rest.

She gave a large Silver Salver for the Communion Service of this Parish.”

A writer, (Topographer vol 1. p. 453) states that this monument was not permitted to be put up in the Church, but remained in the Vestry in 1755, upon account of neither the Salver, or the annuity being appropriated.
In the nave beneath the pulpit was formerly this memorial slab. "Here lieth the body of Master Robert Lowndes, who died the 26th of January 1683, and is interred under this stone, his father and other of his ancesters, having formerly been buried in or near the same place," (This memorial is now lost.) Another Slab in the nave bore the following inscription, "John Markham, Gent died 29th May 1746 aged 63, Phillipa his wife, died 20 August 1723 aged 35, also of Mary and Robert their children who died in infancy." This memorial has also recently disappeared.

On another Tablet, "In memory of Mrs. Susan Bigg, who departed this life the 28th June 1782, aged 83 years, also of Mrs. Elizabeth Bigg and Mr. Robert Bigg" (This marble tablet is now laid under the Choir seats.)
In the floor of the south aisle was a large slab bearing this inscription, "Elizabeth Tookey, Died 9th Sept 1782, aged 73. John Tookey Esq. M.D. son of above, obit 17 Dec 1817, aet 69" This slab ie now lying in the Church yard. In the Porch was a large slab, stating, "In a vault beneath lieth the remains of the Rev. Thomas Walpole, Yicar of this Parish, who died act. 1st, 1840, aged 41 years." (This stone has been removed from its original position, and laid in the Churchyard.) Many of the Gravestones in the Churchyard, some of them of considerable antiquity, have also been taken from their positions, and no longer mark the resting place of the "rude forefathers of the hamlet," whose humble names they bore, being now used as paving stones round the Church.

On the south side of the Churchyard may be found a stone recording an incident of the old coaching days - "here lyeth the body of Mr. Thomas Smith, late of Acton, in the county of Middlesex, Butterman, whose death was occasioned by the breaking down of the Buckingham Stage Coach, near this Town, on the seventh day of October, 1777, and after living four days in the utmost pain, he died on the 11th of the same month, aged 61."

p.17 on the church rate

The Church Rate, so long a source of bitter contention in many parishes, can no longer be demanded, and as we remember the many peculiar purposes to which the money was often applied, one wonders that the impost was so long endured. At Winslow the ordinary half-yearly Rate appears to have been about 3½d. in the Pound, and was expended for such purposes as the following. May 24th, 1838, "Paid Ringers on the Queens Birth-day 5/-."Hire of Horse and Gig for Churchwardens to St. Albans £1 1s. 0d. - Expenses of ditto at St. Albans £2 7s. 6d. Paid for Sparrows 12/-. G. Harrup, for men playing Engine at Fire at North Marston 12/-. Nov. 25th, 1840, Ringers for ringing Bells at Birth of Princess, 10/-. 1841, Paid Mr. Baldwin for Sparrows, £1 16s. 5d. Nov. 10th. Ringers at Birth of Prince of Wales, £1. Jan. 25th, 1842, Ringers for Prince of Wales' Christening £2. 1842, Paid man for keeping Gate at the Confirmation 1/-. However desirable it may be to testify our Loyalty by Bell ringing, yet we now manage to show it pretty freely on the Voluntary System and without a compulsory Church Rate.

p.20 on the bells

Amid all the changes of time the custom of ringing the Curfew Bell at 8 p.m. during the winter months still survives. The Angelus or Gabriel Bell, originally rung to announce the breaking ofthe dawn, may yet be heard each morning. The "Shriving" or "Pancake" Bell, is also rung on each recurring Shrove Tuesday, although its original object of summoning the people to Church to confess their sins, preparatory to Lent, is now nearly forgotten.

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Copyright 25 July, 2015