A Few Words About Hurst by the Revd. A A Cameron

The Revd. Cameron was vicar of Hurst from 1833 to 1880. His charming booklet was published in 1882

 

Hurst Parish Church. The Revd. A A Cameron is on the right of the group

Contents

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Ancient Will of a Parishioner
Account of a Visit to Hurst in 1747 by Mr. James Belchin
A Royal Visit to Stanlake Park
Additional Notes

Chapter I

IT is said that one of, the last things people learn (if they ever do so) is to know themselves. It is much the same, though not quite from the same reasons, with knowing about the things closest to us.

People are apt to go on, year after year, without enquiring into what has been, in a certain way, long familiar to them; they know their own village and all about it that immediately concerns themselves so well, that they have never thought, very likely, what its name means, what its history has been, and what changes it has seen, the sort of questions which strangers will naturally ask.

Perhaps then, we may be able to tell our readers some few things about Hurst which will have some interest and be, in part, new to them.

First of all, as to the name, Hurst. This is clearly an old word of our Saxon forefathers signifying "wood." A writer of the days of Queen Elizabeth, Drayton, uses it in that sense and not as a name.

"each rising hurst,
Where many a goodly oak had carefully been nurst."

It is said to mean, not a wood of great trees or a forest, but rather a thicket or cover, with large trees scattered here and there, "nursed" among the lower growth of underwood, as the lines of Drayton express. This is not at all the character of our parish now. There is scarcely a patch left of such rough wooded ground. The general appearance of it, as seen from eminence, is woody; but that arises chiefly from the abundance of hedgerow trees, and of those around the principal houses; not now from anything properly to be called a "hurst."

Not long since, however, it was very different. Persons not far advanced in years ( I 862 ), remember when, what are now the cornfields, about Bill Hill and the Warren Farm, consisted of Commons, interspersed with thickets of oak and abele mixed with hollies and other underwood, and probably the same was the appearance, a little earlier, of those portions still bearing such names as Whistley Green, Merry Hill Green, Lea Heath, .Bear Wood, though the "Greens" and "Heath" have disappeared almost completely under successive enclosures, and the "Wood" remains only, as rescued from the axe, to form part of. the beautiful grounds of Mr. Walter's mansion. Some few other places in different parts of the country have the name of "Hurst" simply: but in the southern counties, - all of them remarkable for their woods and copses, - it is very frequent as the last syllable of a name, as we have "Sand-hurst" in our own county, "the wood on the sandy heath," "Mid-hurst, " "Crow-hurst, "Nut-hurst," "Ash-hurst," and very many more in Sussex and Kent.

Our Church is, as is the case in most, of our old Parishes, by far the most ancient building we have. It is now 800 years since the line of our Norman kings began with William the Conqueror. Perhaps within 100 years of that date 1066), certainly a very little later, a portion still existing of our venerable Church must have been built.

In "Domesday Book," the great survey of the 1and, made just after the Conquest, in which all previously existing Churches are set down, no record is found of any Church in Hurst, but at all events, we may be sure that, for about 700 years, generation after generation of those who have gone before us, have had a holy House of Prayer to worship in, just where we are now called on  to do so.

Many of our readers will have observed in the centre of the Church, on the north side of the nave, the two massy round pillars, having their tops, (or capitals as they are called), of a square form, while the arches that spring from them are round or nearly so. That particular form, and the whole character of those pillars and their arches, mark, beyond any question, a date for that part of the Church between 1066 (the Conquest) and 1200; but the rudeness of the work about the capitals, makes it likely that it was nearer to the first date than the last.

Those times, though they were very troubled, and were far, in many points, from being "the good old times," of which many persons are fond of talking, (though they can never quite settle, to their satisfaction, when, exactly, those "good times" were), had certainly one great good in them; those who lived then, somehow found time and means to do a great deal in building, re-building, and improving Churches. Our Norman ancestors built much, and they built wonderfully well ; so that at the end of 700 or 800 years, a great deal of their work, even where exposed to the weather is as sound and as sharp as ever. Almost all our very grand Churches, as well as our Cathedrals, shew more or less of their work; and there is hardly a real old Parish Church (except in certain districts in England), but what, if you look carefully for it, has something of that date. Thus there is the font at Ruscombe, much altered but clearly of that age, a doorway at Wargrave; an arch or two (probably) near the tower at Lawrence Waltham; some small arcading work in the south chancel wall of S. Mary's, Reading, all like our own central pillars and arches of a date within 150 years of the Battle of Hastings, and the beginning of the Norman Kings.

It is not unlikely that besides these pillars and arches, no other part remains of the original Church, though some of the existing walls may have formed part of it, Possibly the old font, replaced by a new one in 1850, was of the same date, but it had so little to mark it for any particular age, and was so entirely devoid of the curious carved work, with which the masons of those days almost always decorated their fonts, that one could scarcely form any judgment about it; especially after it had been so often pulled to pieces and built up again, and plastered and painted over.

There is nothing that bears any distinct mark of being the work of the 100, or perhaps 150 years that followed. About, or soon after the year 1300, it is plain, that the western portion of the body of the Church was either taken down and rebuilt, or more likely added to. The times then were more settled and prosperous than they had been, and population, no doubt, had increased, and wanted more space than the little, old Church of only two arches afforded. The date is shewn by the shape and workmanship of the window between the porch and the tower, (before the building of the south aisle in 1875) which bears a good deal of likeness to the side windows of Shottesbrook; by the character of the arch opposite, so different from the other two; and by the heads put as brackets to support the inner face of the arch, one of which, near Bigg's tomb, wears a helmet or pointed cap of chain armour like that which appears on the figure of the Black Prince in Canterbury Cathedral.

It is plain also that about this time the body of the Church received anew roof, as the slips of stonework with the heads attached to them, let into the face of the older pillars, on which the wall pieces and the tie beams rest, are of nearly the same period. Possibly the present roof may be mainly the one then erected, and the porch, from its form and construction, bears tokens of nearly as great an age.

The chancel was also rebuilt at the same time; at least such appeared to be the fact from the form of the old buttresses and some fragments of stonework found in the walls, when the outer casing of late brickwork was removed for the repairs and restorations.

The century to which we assign these works, the reigns of the Edwards I., II., III., was like the Norman, a great Church building age throughout the country. The fairest portions of many of our Cathedrals, and of our great Parish Churches, were erected during that time, of which we have near us specimens in the beautiful little Cross Church of Shotteshrook; in the best (old) part of Soning Church; the very fine chancel of Warfield, a good west window in Lawrence Waltham, and a N.E. window in Wokingham and Henley.

We may go on a good many years now and find nothing that has Ieft its mark in the history of our Church. The screen of carved wood separating between the body of the Church and the chancel is, perhaps, of about the year 1500, i.e. of the reign of Henry VII. It is but coarse, bad work for its time, if it was put up so early; but it was just about that date that very many screens, something of the same sort, were put up; as in the Churches of Somersetshire and Devonshire, where they abound; many of them very beautiful and rich with carved work and colour and gold. The ornaments at the top of this are clearly much later, - of the same date as the Royal Arms in the midst of them, which are those of either James I or Charles I.; but they are merely stuck into the upper beam, and being of fir or deal, while the rest of the screen is of oak, they seem to have been a later addition, Some of the ornaments carved on the upper beam seem to show the earlier times of the Tudor Kings, Henry VII. and VIII., as among them the rose, part white, pare red, marking marking that union of the houses of York and Lancaster, which put an end to the long civil war of the "Roses," as it was called; and another is meant to represent the pomegranate - that in which little red grains are seen coming out from a holden husk, which was, for some reason, chosen by Henry VII, as an ornament belonging to his family.

We have now traced down the history of our Parish Church till towards the days-troubled and polluted with much evil, but blessed and over-ruled for exceeding good by the Divine Head of the Church, - of the Reformation - begun in the reign of Henry VIII., carried on with too headlong steps in that of the religious Child-king, Edward VI., providentially checked and tried, though with blood and fire, in the terrible return to Popery under Queen Mary, and then renewed on sounder principles, and with more care to keep all that blessed the Church of Christ, before the corruptions of the Romish system came in, under the wise and politic Elizabeth, No doubt, our own Church and Parish shared in the troubles and searching trials and changes, backwards and forwards, of those days, - (as all must) but, perhaps, not so much as many places. At least, it is remarkable that the earliest monument we have-that of Ward - the builder, we believe, of the old mansion of Hurst House, - who died in the time of Elizabeth, - records, that he held the office of Sub-treasurer or Cofferer to the Court during all those changeful reigns. The influence of a man of such a position, and who had worldly wisdom enough to retain his post, while so many rose and fell around him, might, very likely, have kept things comparatively quiet, even then, amongst our people.

If the chancel screen be, - as we have argued - originally of the date of Henry VII., no doubt, in one of the next two reigns, there must have been taken down from the top of it, the "Holy Rood," as it was called, or figure of Our Lord on the Cross (Rood anciently meaning Cross or tree) which was then, and I believe is now, almost universal in that position in Roman Catholic Churches, and which had been so made an object of superstitious honour and worship, that it was necessary for the sake of purer religion to take it away. Probably with us, this was done peaceably; and the screen itself, - a seemly ornament to the Church, and making a proper division between the body of it and the chancel or choir, - was allowed to remain, without the violent and profane "breaking down the carved work with axes and hammers," of which we have accounts and still see sad traces, in many old Parish Churches and Cathedrals.

 

Pulpit and hour-glass

The pulpit is probably of the beginning of the I7th century: as the Canons, or Church Laws, drawn up in 1603, first ordered that there should be "a decent pulpit in every Church, " and though there are some few older to be met with, the generality of old wooden pulpits shew, by their workmanship and patterns, as ours docs, that they are just about of that date. The pattern of that at Ruscombe is almost exactly the same as ours, - very likely the work of the same hand, as is often to be observed in Church work of neighbouring parishes. Either then, or soon afterwards, it was richly painted and gilt, the remains of which adornment were visible until the re-fitting of the Church in 1837, the sounding-board in particular being coloured blue, powdered with stars in gold. This decoration is occasionally to be met with in other old pulpits and in the coved roofs of chancels.

The iron framework for the hour-glass attached to the pulpit - common we have reason to suppose, and useful in those days of very long unwritten sermons - bears the date 1636, and the inscription - "As this glasse runneth, so man's life passethe," and the letters "E. A." apparently, in a sort of cypher, most likely the initials of the names of the giver. Some handsomer iron-work for the same purpose remains, or did remain till lately, in the neighbouring Churches of Lawrence Waltham and Binfield.

A good deal was done for our Church during the earlier years of the 17th century; in the reign of James I., and the former part of that of Charles I. The ornaments, with the Royal Arms, over the screen, are certainly of that date, whether the lower part be earlier or no. It has been said, by some formerly connected with our Parish, and has got accordingly copied into some books professing to give information about such things, that this ornament of our Church was the gift of the Queen of Bohemia, daughter of James I., in memory of many years spent by her in the ancient mansion Hurst House. We believe that this notion was a mere guess at the beginning, arising from observing the plume of three feathers, with two supporting angels, over the N. doorway of the screen; and also finding the Royal Arms, of about the same date, in stained glass, in the hall of Hurst House. Of course, everyone knows that such a plume was the crest or badge of the King of Bohemia, because even our childish history books tell us that the king of that country, fighting in the army of France at the battle of Crecy, was slain by the "Black Prince," son of Edward III.; and that the Prince took from his head the plume he was wearing as his crest or distinguishing device, and put it on his own head, and so it has been borne ever since by the successive Princes of Wales. Now, as this Plume had, at the time we are speaking of, for nearly three centuries been known in England as "The Prince of Wales' Feathers," it is not very probable that the unfortunate Queen of Bohemia, in erecting any memorial of herself here, would have chosen that particular device, which all English people would have been sure to regard as belonging only to their own Prince of Wales. There is also no trace of her ever having resided at Hurst House, and what is known of her life renders it impossible that if she ever visited the place it could have been for more than a very short time. We fear, therefore, that we must quite give up this legend and tradition of any connexion between our Parish and this Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, the direct ancestress of her present Most Gracious Majesty, Victoria, except some casual visit, which, considering who, as we shall see, were the inhabitants of Haines Hill and Hurst House at that time, is not very unlikely.

The more probable reason of this ornament on the screen in Hurst Church is to commemorate the grant by James I., of all the fee farm rents of the lands held by different tenants of the Crown in Hurst and Sonning, to his son Henry, Prince of Wales. On his death it was granted to Charles, Prince of Wales, and a jointure on it was payable to Queen Henrietta Maria.

The tower of our Church has the date upon it 1612. Many of the large square brick towers in this part of Berks, are just of this same period, as Ruscombe, Wargrave, Tilehurst, and Bradfield. Until the repairs, the brick gables of the chancel, and the chancel aisle, were marked with the dates respectively of 1627 and 1638. The real building of these was, however, very much older, and the dates were only those of re-facing the ancient chancel, and of the addition, probably, of a portion to the chancel aisle to contain the large monuments set up there.

Ward tomb

Chapter II

Although we were obliged to cut off our parish from any connexion it has been supposed to have with one person filling a place in history, the Queen of Bohemia, we can, perhaps, trace out the residence, or visits, of some others whose names appear in the records of those days. In noticing that our old Church passed through the troubled times of the Reformation less injured in its ornamental features than many, we mentioned that probably this might be owing to the influence of one of its principal inhabitants, Ward, who somehow was enabled to hold a high office under all the kings and queens who successively filled the throne during that period. That he did succeed in this we learn from the inscription on his tomb, the oldest we have, on the right of the door entering the chancel aisle. It has the form that was common in older times still, of a sort of stone alter, with the front panelled and carved, arid a kind of canopy over it; but like almost all work of the sort, from about the year 1550 to quite recent times, it is very coarsely and clumsily executed, as compared with the beauty and perfect workmanship that we find in monumental carving of the three centuries before. It was, however, costly and handsome in its way, when perfect. Its material is chiefly the greenish shelly marble, called Purbeck marble; the canopy was enriched with painting and gold, as one may still see; in each panel were shields with arms in their proper colours or tinctures, and at the back were, (and indeed are still, though imperfect,) brasses let in with small figures and inscriptions engraved on them. On the right of the monument itself, the upper brass has a group of Ward himself, with his eight sons behind him, all kneeling; and underneath is the epitaph in Latin verses, of which we give a translation, On the left there is a similar group of females; evidently the wife, - of the singular Christian name of Colubra, so far as we can read it, - kneeling also, with her nine daughters. The head of the principal figure and the inscription beneath have been destroyed; but above is a slip of brass with the words "Colubra Ward dyed the 14th day of April, 1574," The following is the sense of the epitaph :-

"Life flies, and Ward is dead; but mourn him not,
One who so well has lived, true life has got.
Of honoured race he was, a Christian true,
And God to please, his study all life through;
So his Lord loved him,  and His blessings poured
On all he had,- his home with blessings stored.
To Henry, Edward, Mary Great Elizabeth,
Sub-Treasurer he was, faithful in love till death;
Yes, faithful to them all, and so by each beloved,
Ne'er by base thought of gain for self, or kindred, moved.
Godly he was in life; in death the same;
Through death, true life to him, eternal, came;
And with Colubra joined him, ne'er to part;
Their grave, their rest, was one, as ever was their heart."

But although Richard Ward held, in four eventful reigns, an office of some importance in the Court, that of "Cofferer" or Sub-treasurer, and though, if his epitaph be not more flattering than the ordinary run of such compositions, he was held in much esteem in his day, and deserved it (Is it his name that is preserved to this day ion the title of "Wards Cross" belonging to the little farm at the crossing of Tape Lane with the road to Whistley?), still it was not intended to bring him forward as an historical character himself.

He held his office, however, under a man of much more note, William Powlett, first Marquis of Winchester, the Lord High Treasurer, and that he looked up to him as his friend and patron, and might, perhaps, have received him here at his new-built mansion, is shewn, not only by their remarkable continuous service together, whatever changes in Church and State were on around them, but also from this fact: in the in the Hall the Old Hurst House was preserved (and it is retained in the staircase window of the present house) in stained glass, together with the Royal Arms, a Coat of Arms, encircled with the Garter, which on enquiry, was stated by the person consulted, to be that of "Lord St, John of Basing, a Knight of the Garter in the reign of Queen Elizabeth." Though it seemed difficult at first to account for these arms being there, or to trace any connection between such a person, and, the occupants of the house at any period; all the difficulty is removed, when. we find that that nobleman was was then, under that title, as afterwards under the better known one of Winchester, the Head of the Treasury of which Ward, as Sub-treasurer, was fulfilling the chief actual duties. It was natural enough that he should, in this way, seek to show his devotion to, first, his Royal Mistress, and next, his constant noble patron.

A saying of this nobleman is recorded which helps to throw light on the ways by which alone any man could, like our ancient Parishioner, have retained office and favour continuously in every reign from Henry VIII. to Elizabeth. Bering questioned by an intimate friend of his how he stood up for thirty years together, amid the changes and reigns of so many chancellors and great personages? "Why" said he, "I come of the willow, not of the oak;" meaning, it would seem, "I have found bending answer better than standing stiff, under the various winds of fortune." Some lines of his are given by an old writer, as his answer to the same, or a similar question, as to the rules he had kept to, both to preserve life, and to maintain uniform success in life; (he lived in seven reigns, and was 97 when he died;) and these appear to give rather a different vie\v of the comparison he made use of about himself; as if it applied rather to gentleness in office to those beneath, than to pliant yielding to those above him:-

"Late supping I forbear;
Wine and ill living I forswear,
My neck and feet I keep from cold:
No marvel then if I be old.
I am a willow not an oak,
I chide, but never hurt with stroke."

(From Lodge's Portraits of Illustrious Persons)

The next Inscription we come to which throws any light on the subject of the ancient families or persons of consequence connected with our Parish, - after that of Richard Ward, - is one on a flat stone in the pavement in front of the last-named tomb, marking the resting place of his daughter, and, as it would seem, his heiress. How this came to pass; - what became of the numerous train of sons seen kneeling behind their father, in the brass accompanying his epitaph, - we have no means of ascertaining. Our Registers,
(of the earliest of which, beginning 1585, only a fragment now remains, ) are too imperfect, during the period required, to enable us to trace their deaths: and very likely in the stirring, enterprising times of the end of Elizabeth's reign, they wandered far from home, and were not gathered to their fathers here. At all events her tomb stone shews that, whether they died, were disinherited, or were provided with estates elsewhere, she, becoming the wife of Thomas Harrison, became the mother of Richard Harrison, and so the ancestress of the family of that name, of very considerable importance in the reign of Charles I., and loyal supporters of him in the rebellion. And their principal residence was Hurst House, which is always considered was built, or re-built, by the father of this lady, and must have passed through her to that family. Not however that she witnessed the greatness or any of the varied fortunes of her descendants. Her tombstone tells a tale of early blasted hopes. The inscription is "Here lyeth the bodye of Alse Harrison, wife. of Thomas Harrison, Esquire, eldest daughter of Richard Ward, Esq., Cooferor to Queen Elizabeth, who died in child-bed of her first son, Richard Harrison, Esq., the father of Sir Richard Harrison, Knight." Over this inscription is a small brass with the figure of the poor lady in her bed, - curious, as giving the form and mode of decoration of a bed of that date, with posts and curtains, - and also as being a very late instance of the use of engraved brass for monumental memorials; for, since the inscription mentions her grandson, and that after he had received the honour of Knighthood, it must have been put up many years after her death, probably not earlier than 1630.

Engrave bass of Alse Harrison

Harrison monument

The Harrison monument consists of a heavy pile of grey and white marble, with pillars on either side of an arch forming a sort of canopy; and beneath it two kneeling figures of life size, - the man partly in armour; the lady in the dress of Charles I's time, not much unlike that of our own day. They kneel at a fold-stool or desk in prayer, and above them appears the sculptured bust of a younger man. The ponderous structure is fixed to the wall that divides the sanctuary of the chancel from the North Chapel, towards which it faces, and which, probably, belonged to, and was enlarged by the Harrison family, chiefly as a mortuary or burial chapel for themselves. Before the alterations it was easy to see where an addition had been made in brick work, at the East end of the original building of flint; and that bore on the window the date 1627.

The inscriptions on this monument are as follows, on the Eastern side:-

"Here lyes the Body of Sir Richard Harrison, eldest son of Sir Richard Harrison, Lds. of Whistly and Hinton, in this ,Parish, Knights. He married Dorothy, the only dr. and heiress of Wm. Dean, of Nethercot, in Oxfordshire, Esquire, by whom he had thirteen sons and two daughters, and lived in wedlock 49 years with her. He served King Charles I. all the time of the Civil Wars, for which he suffered the persecution of sequestration, composition, &c. His Estate was much wasted by raising two troops of Horse at his own charge, for the King. With the first he served under the command of the Rt. Hon. Earl Crauford, by His Majesty's appointment, and after, under the command of Col. Thomas Howard, since Earl of Bark-shire, (who married his sister), and lived to see the joyful return of King Charles II., under whom he bore the office of Justice of the Peace and Deputy-Lieftenant; and was chosen one of the Privy Chamber in Ordinary to His Majesty; and in the 72nd year of his age he exchanged this life for a better, the 23rd August, in the year 1683."

On the Western side of the table, are first, three lines of Latin signifying that it is the place of sepulture of "Philip Haryson, gentelman, a young man of the highest promise, youngest son of Sir Richard Haryson, Baronet, and of Lady Dorothea, his most worthy wife, who died Dec. 25th, 1683, the 22nd year of his age." Underneath are these lines in English:-

"Stay, Reader, and observe death's partial doom;
A spreading vertue in a narrow tomb;
A generous mind mingled with common dust,
(Like burnished steel covered and lost in rust,)
Dark in this earth he lies, in whom did shine
All the divided merits of his line;
The lustre of his name seems faded here,
No fairer star in all that fruitful sphere;
In piety and parts extremely bright,
Clear was his youth, and filled with growing light,
A morn that promised much, yet saw no noon,
None ever rose so fast, and yet so soon.
All lines of worth were centred here in one;
Yet see, he lies in shades, whose life had none,
But while his mother this sad structure rears,
A double dissolution there appears,
He into dust dissolves; she into tears."

The portion of the inscription describing that "fine old English Gentleman, "the second Sir Richard Harrison, ever loyal and faithful to his King, whatever it might cost him, is far more interesting than these lines to his son, which, however, meant to express the deep feelings of the widowed mother, are more apt, from the bad taste and quaintness of their expression, to make one smile, than think seriously of her double sorrow, in losing in four months her husband and her last-born son.

Those hard words - "sequestration" and "composition," which are used of his losses, were quite as hard things in reality. The first was a process by which the Parliament, in those sad times when it was raising armies and fighting against the King, in his name, took possession of any loyal man's estate and kindly managed it for him, possibly allowing him and his family a little pittance out of it to save them from starving. "Composition" was allowing a man to compound for keeping what was his own rightful property, on paying such a sum as might be fixed on as a fine for not submitting to, and joining with the rebels.

 

Left: Archbishop Laud. Right: Francis Windebank

Chapter III

In the earlier part of Sir Richhard Harrison's life he was the friend of Archbishop Laud, and of Sir Francis Windehank of Hains' Hill, Secretary of State to Charles I., and perhaps the best way to shew the connexion between them will he extract from Laud's Journal the passages referring to his own visits to Hurst.

The first mention of such a visit occurs October 2, 1624, - "Saturday in the evening, at Mr. Windebank's, my ancient servant Adam Torless, fell into a swoon, etc." But doubtless he had been in the house before; as in a letter dated 1631 he speaks of Mr. Windebank as his greatest friend for thirty years. "July 13th, 1625," (very soon after the accession and marriage of Charles I., Laud being then Bishop of S. David's,) "Wednesday, there having died (of the Plague) in the former week in London, ,1222 persons; I went into the country to the house of my good friend, Francis Windebank." "July 20, Wednesday, a Public Fast was held throughout all England. I preached in the Parish of Hurst, where I then abode with Master Windebank.

"July 2, Thursday, I visited Sir Richard Harrison, "and returned. July 24, Sunday, I preached in the "Parish of Hurst. November 24, Thursday, I came" (on the road from his Diocese in Wales) "to the house of my great friend, Fr: Windebank. There the wife of my friend (for himself was then at Court) Immediately, as soon as I came, told me that the Duke of Buckingham had a son born, &c." December 4, Sunday, I preached at Hurst. I stayed there in the country until Christmas. December 14, Wednesday, I went to Windsor but returned the same day," (It was, as appears from a letter to the D. of Buckingham of the same date, in hopes of seeing him there, and wishing him joy of the birth of his son, as he there speaks of his visiting at "his friends house in the Forest, Mr Windebank "December 25, Sunday. I preached at Hurst, upon Christmas Day." He then went to the Court at Hampton Court, where his presence was required to consult about the ceremonies and services to be used for the coronation of Charles I" Jan. 2, Monday, I returned to Hains Hill. For there, not then knowing anything of these matters, I had left my necessary papers with my trunk, When I had put these in order, I went to Sir Richard Harrison's house, to take leave of my friends, There, (if I mistake not) I first knew what F.H. thought of me." (It does not appear whether this was one of the family.)  "I told my mind plainly, &c, I returned,"

1626-7, Jan, 16, occurs a curious entry, shewing how much his thoughts were with his friend, and at his house at Hains Hill,

"Tuesday, I dreamed that the King went out to hunt, and that when he was hungry, I brought him on the sudden into the house of my friend, Francis Windebank. While he purposeth to eat, I, in the absence of others, I presented the cup to him after the usual manner. I carried drink to him, but it pleased him not, I carried it again, but in a silver cup. There-upon His Majesty said, you you know that I always  always drink out of glass. I go away again: and wake"

"1629, Aug. 14, Friday, I fell sick on the way towards the Court at Woodstock: I took up my lodging at my ancient friend's house, Mr, Francis Windebank. There I lay in a most grievous burning fever till Monday, Sept, 7th, on which day I had my last fit."

Oct, 20, I was brought so low that I was not able to return towards my own house at London till Tuesday, Oct. 29th."

Among the fragments of Archbishop Laud's written prayers and private devotions, is (besides some sentences collected from the Psalms, with a side-note referring them to this attack of fever) a Thanksgiving for his recovery, which it may not be out of place to inster here: both as written, very probably, under the roof of Hains Hill, and as shewing Laud in a very different light from that of the stern Judge and statesman, with more of this world's of wisdom than of inward religion in his character, in which popular Histories teach us to view him. The side-note (in Latin) is, "my deliverance from the very serious illness into who I fell, Aug. 14, 1629"

"O Lord, I give Thee humble and hearty thanks for the great and almost miraculous bringing of me back from the bottom of my grave. What Thou hast further for me to do, or to suffer, Thou alone knowest. Lord, give me patience and courage, and all Christian
resolution to do Thee service, and grace to do it. And let me not live longer than to honour Thee, through Jesus Christ. Amen"

No doubt it must have been with considerable state, - according to the manners of the times, when a large number of servants and attending followers was considered a necessary mark of rank and greatness, - that the Bishop (it was hefore he was Archbishop), rode from "ye Rt Worshipful, my very Honable friend, Mr. Francis Windebank, his house, at Haines Hill," to "ye Worshipful Sir Richd. Harrison," or to our old Church. The pulpit from which he preached is, without question, the very same that now remains. And
probably the ancient pew, which some may remember, previous to the alterations in 1837, as occupied by the late venerable Mrs. Wowen of Hurst House, - raised a step above the rest of the floor, with a desk board large enough for a folio Prayer Book, and with some carving on the wainscot of the date of James, or Charles I. - was the very place in which the good cavalier sat to hear his friend's sermons. Other enclosures behind this in the North Chancel-aisle, having work of the same date and pattern, (a few fragments of which are still to be seen in the Vestry,) were probably the seats of other branches of the family of Harrison.

There was at least one other such branch, that of John Harrison; and the following entry in our Register amongst others of his family, shews that he was like the head of his house, in faithful devotion to the Royal cause, even when a failing one: "1648, Aug. 3, - Henrietta Maria, daughter of Mr. Jno. Harrison." For it must be remembered, that at that date, when he had his child christened by the unpopular name of his Royal Master's Queen, Charles was a close prisoner, his Queen long an exile in France, and it was a perilous thing to perform or use any of the offices of the Church, even without joining with the act, as in this instance, anything that family founded two Charities of importance for the poor of this Parish, - and that in each case, after the losses which the head of the house, Sir Richard Harrison, had incurred by his loyalty during the civil war. His widow, Dorothy, Lady Harrison, in the year 1690, gave the rents of her Estate in Binfield, then amounting to £15 per annum, for the following objects:- £5 yearly for the schooling of six poor boys of this parish;- £5 towards apprenticing one such boy yearly; and £5 to be given yearly to five widows, twenty shillings a-piece. "And she did desire that this her Charity to the said widows might not hinder them from their allowance from the parish," As, by exchange of the property, the income of these Charities has become £21 18s. 6d. annually, the number of widows elected every year on old S. Stephen's Day, has been increased to seven, and premiums are given with the apprentice more suited to these times than the original sum of £5 would be.

The other benefactress to our people, of this good family, was Lady Frances Winchcombe, grand-daughter of Sir Richard Harrison, of Hurst. Thomas Howard, third Earl of Berkshire, married Frances, daughter of Sir R. Harrison. Their eldest daughter also, Frances, became the wife of Sir Henry Winchcombe, Bart., a descendant of the famous John Winchcombe, better known as "Jack of Nebury," who though only a clothier and merchant, was a great man enough to send 100 men to fight uner Henry VIII., at Flodden-Field against the Scots, and afterwards to feast the King at Newbury. This Lady Frances Winchcombe, not forgetful of the early home of her mother, founded the Alms-houses at Twyford, for six poor men or women of the Parish of Hurst, endowing it with a sum producing 1s.6d. a week to each, with some other small benefits. The simple inscription over the gate, without any record of the Foundress herself, " Deo et Pauperibus," - "To God and the Poor," - should not be overlooked, - affording as it does, an instance of the truth of the well-known lines:-

" Who builds a house to God, and not to fame,
Will never mark the marble with his name."

There is one other conspicuous tomb in our Church connected with this family, - the great pile of alabaster and marble in the N.E. comer, extending from the floor to the roof. The inscription on it will sufficiently explain who the lady was, who raised it to herself, and her connexion with this place and the family amongst whom she reposes.

Lady Savile Monument

" Here resteth, in expectation of a joyful Resurrection, the Lady Margaret Savile, Daughter of George Dacres, Esq., descended from the Rt. Noble and ancient Family of the Barons Dacres of the North. She had three husbands; the first, George Garrard Esq., second son to Sir Wm. Garrard, Knt., sometimes Lord Mayor of London; the second, John Smith, Esq., of the County of Essex; the third, the Honourable and most famous Knight, both for the studies and the advancement of learning, Sir Henry Savile, Reader to Queen Elizabeth, of blessed memory, Warden of Merton College, Oxford, and Provost of Eton, where he lyeth interred;

"And by them, nine children; By her first Husband, three daughters; the eldest the Lady Anne Carleton, wife of the Lord Carleton, Viscount Dorchester; the second died in her infancy; the youngest, the Lady Frances Harrison, wile of Sir .Richard Harrison, Knt.: By her second husband, three sons, which all deceased in their infancy: By her third Husband, two sons, which died young; and one daughter, the Lady Elizabeth Sedley, wife of Sir John Sedley, Baronet," On the base, underneath this inscription, follows:- " She erected this monument whilst she was yet living, for herself and hers, being desirous to deposit her Body in that place where, living, she had found so much content, and so sweet repose of her age. She was born at Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire, and died A.D. 1631, aged 73." The monument has six full-length figures kneeling at prayer-desks. Those in the centre, we may presume, represent Lady Savile herself, and her husband, (whose name lives in Oxford as the Founder of a Professorship, still called after him.) The two westward are, probably, the two daughters who grew up, Lady Carleton and Lady Harrison, and the pair eastward - the man in the half-armour then commonly worn, - may be Lady Sedley and her husband. Beneath was once a row of smaller figures, but of these now only four or five headless remnants are left.

Notwithstanding the numbers of the family of Harrison, and of those with whom they were allied, Hurst House did not remain long in their possession after the times we have been referring to. In 1720 George Harrison sold it to "Galen Cope, Esq. of Chelsea;" at the end of another twenty years, in 1740, John Cope, son of Galen Cope, disposed of it to "James Waller, or Lincoln's Inn, gentleman;" and again in 1772, James Waller and the Rev. James Waller, once more sold it to " John Wowen, Esq. of Hertford-St., S. George, Hanover Square," whose widow some of us may still remember in possession of it to the time of her decease in her 97th year.

Chapter IV

The passages we have taken from Archbishop Laud's Diary, referring to his visits here, and his intimacy with Sir Richard Harrison have, by the way, brought before us "Hain's Hill" as an ancient House, then existing under the same name as now, and inhabited by the Archbishop's still closer friend, Sir Francis Windebank.

Hains Hill, 1856 (© Mr Alan Godsal)

Although the present front of the mansion is modern built, within 100 years, the portions which look to the South, and towards the older parts of the Park, are evidently old enough to have been that very, "House in the Forest" of which Laud speaks. It was possessed by the Windebanks for two generations, at least; Sir Thomas and Sir Francis. Of the latter, we read in Laud's Diary, 1632, June 15, "Mr. Francis Windebank, my old friend, was sworn Secretary of State; which place I obtained for him of my gracious master, King Charles. "His greatness was not, however, long-Iived.  In 1640, the year that the imprisonment and troubles of his friend and patron began, - he was arrested and accused of various high crimes against the laws, particularly of shewing favour to Popish Priests; and finding himself in great danger, he contrived to make his escape to France, where he died about six years afterwards. His House and Estate were, probably, confiscated and disposed of by the Parliament, who were then beginning to usurp the Royal authority. At all events, within a few years Hain's Hill was in very different hands, - those of Richard Bigg, who, from his being then a Justice of the Peace, appears to have been in favour with the ruling party - that of Cromwell. In our Marriage Register there is this singular entry: - "1658 - Humphrey Duderidge and Margaret Pilgram, alias Coles, were married by Justice Bigg, May 13th."

It does not appear by whom, or according to what form, other marriages were celebrated during those years of confusion, when the Rites and Services of the Church were forbidden to be used. The Register contains notices of a good many, though scarcely of the full number, but in no other instance does the name of the Civil Magistrate appear as marrying the persons so united.

Though the name of Bigg does not sound to us as one of much distinction, the family (from which the present family of Bigg-Wither, in Hants, are descended) appears to have been highly connected. The following inscription remains on a black marble tablet on the north wall of the Church, "Near this place lyeth buried the body of the Lady Phebe, one of the daughters of James Ley, Earl of Marlborough, some-time Lord High Treasurer of England, late wife of Richard Bigg, of Hurst, in the County of Wilts, Esq., who had issue by him four sons, viz., James, John, Daniel, and Richard, She died the 13th day of February, 1653. (Richard Bigg himself was buried here in 1670, but there appears to be no monument to his memory).

Of the youngest of these, 'Richard,' we shall have more to say.

We come now to that one among the Inhabitants of Hurst in days of old, who is perhaps most borne in mind by those of the present generation, and who has given most cause that he should be still remembered; - Richard Bigg, the younger, we hope, who partake of his bounty. have often thankfully read the inscription on his tomb; which, however, for the benefit of others, we here copy.

"Here lies the body of
RICHARD BIGG,

fourth son of Richard Bigg, of Hainshill, Hurst, in the County of Wilts, Esq. - His mother being the Lady Phehe Ley, daughter of James, Earl of Marlborough, who in his great charity gave to the poor of this Parish, three Houses in St Giles-in-the-Fields, in the County of Middlesex, which Houses he directed for the buying of bread weekly. for the poor, and died the last day of July, 1677, in the 27th year of his age."

 

Richard Bigg's table-top tomb

This is inscribed on a large slab of black marble, forming the top of a raised tomb of brickwork at the N. W. end of the Church, - a singular structure for the inside of a Church; but it was, we presume, in accordance with his express desire in his will, in the following words. "I desire that I may lye in that part of the Church, where a monument may be raised upon my grave like to that monument which is in the Churchyard of the said place, upon the grave of Mr. Richard Maynard." The direction that follows, - that "his grave may be digged nine or ten feet deep, if it may be permitted," was an unfortunate one; for to this, and to the formation of other vaults adjoining, is due, no doubt, that failure of the walls of the Church at the N.W. corner which had to be remedied, many years back, by rebuilding the gable very shabbily in brick, and shoring up the N. wall with the clumsiest of brick buttresses.

He directed that his Will should be read in Church, "immediately after Divine Service" on his yearly "Commemoration Day," November 4th; at which Service he not only appointed for ever the Text for the Sermon, but, going somewhat beyond what is strictly lawful, ordered chapter xliv. of Ecclesiasticus to be read instead of the first lesson falling regu larly in course on that day.  On this point, however, it may be well to vindicate his memory from what must, in itself, appear the great arrogance of choosing, as applying to himself, that chapter beginning, " Let us now praise famous men" such as by their good deeds have "left a memorial behind them." At the beginning of the Will, Richard Bigg describes himself as "lately Fellow of New College in Oxford." As such he must have previously been Scholar of the College of Winchester, and there, (as well as, probably, at New College itself, founded also by the great William of Wykcham, more than 500 years ago) it was the established order to read that same chapter in Divine Service, on what is called "Founder's Day," the day kept in memory of their Founder, and other benefactors. It was therefore only very natural, that Richard Bigg, in making provision for a Commemoration day for himself, as connected with the Charity which he was founding, should have followed the pattern to which he was used from early youth.

The income arising from the property left by him - "to be laid out in bread," to be "set on his grave during Divine Service," and immediately afterwards "to be distributed to the indigent and helpless poor creatures of the Parish, either men, women, or children," with a provision that "if any be blind, or sick, and really in great want and poverty, and so by that means be disabled from coming to hear Divine Service," "some sustenance" shall be allowed such disabled (not neglectful or unwilling) persons, - has, of course, varied greatly.  In the year 1819, - the first of which the accounts are now preserved, - it appears to have been £87 10s. For a few years from 1835, leases having been renewed at a great advance of rent, it amounted to £209, subject, of course, to deductions, for insurances, collections, etc. It is now £159, with the same deductions, leaving about £140 clear income. Changes in the course of the main streets in St Giles-in-the-Fields, have rendered all property in the old great thoroughfare less valuable than it used to be, and the almost ruinous state of some of houses required a reduction in the rent to balance the outlay of the tenants in making necessary repairs.

Chapter V

There is another very ancient house remaining in our Parish, inhabited in the early times we have been speaking of, the days from Queen Elizabeth to Queen Anne, by a family of considerable importance and who. certainly, ought not to be forgotten amongst us, the Barkers.

Hurst Lodge

The house in question is that for a good many years past known as Hurst Lodge, the property of Mr. Golding-Palmer, of Holme Park. As the house, like that of Haines Hill, has had a new front given it some 80 or 90 years ago (a very old inhabitant, not long dead, used to say, one of the first things he could remember was the building of it), it is most probably looked on by most of our readers as a house of no great age. The greater portion, however, is probably, of the date of the Barker grave stones in our Church. These Barkers it is likely, were a younger branch of the yet older family of the same name, whose brasses and other monuments remain in Sonning Church.

The earliest record we have of them is the following inscription on a black marble slab, now in the E. Wall of the Chancel Aisle, but formerly in a similar position in the Chancel itself, and removed to make room for the enlargement of the East window :-

"Here lieth interred the bodies of John Barker, Esq., who lived to the age of four score years and upwards, (Servant and Gentleman Usher to the famous late Queen Elizabeth 34 years), and of Frances his wife, - one of the daughters of Henry Mandfield, of Averden, in the County of Buckingham, Esq., deceased, - by whom (having lived together fifty-two years and upwards) he had eight children, three sons and five daughters, and being greatly beloved of good men, and much lamented by the poor, departed this life, January 23rd, A. D. 1620."

One of the sons  of this venerable couple (we presume) is also buried in the Chancel, where his monument still remains conspicuous on the North Wall consisting of a full length figure, lying down, the right. hand resting on a book, the left on his breast. At the head is a figure probably representing an Angel, though without wings; at the foot, "Death," as a skeleton, partly covered with drapery. Under the canopy above are the family arms, the conspicuous part of them being three spears. The dress of the figure appears to be a kind of gown, with gold lace ornaments, very like what is worn at this day by noblemen, who are members of the University of Oxford, on state. occasions. The inscription is:- "Here lieth the body of Henry Barker, of Hurst, in the County of Wilts, Esq., who married Magdalen, the daughter of William Cade, in the County of Essex, by whom he had issue four sons and one daughter viz: John, Henry, Henry, William, and Frances. He departed this life the 7th day of June, A. D. 1651, being the 77th year of his age."

Memorial to Henry Barker

We have had occasion to shew how closely connected with the unfortunate King Charles I. were some of our great parishioners, the Harrisons and Windebanks, in the time of the unhappy war raised against him by his Parliament. But, at that very time, (and we may conclude it was just a sample of what the state of society must have been throughout. the land, in those sad, distracted times), in the principal house lying between the two great Royalists just mentioned, there was living a family no less mixed up, in all likelihood, with the leaders of those in arms against their King. The only surviving daughter, and consequently the heiress, of Henry Barker, whose tomb we have described, was married to Henry Fairfax, second son of Lord Fairfax, the great leader of the Parliamentary Army, second only to Cromwell himself.

With what varied feelings must our parish, so divided as to its chief houses and their retainers, have heard of, or watched, the many sharp struggles of the desolating war, of which our own County or neighbourhood were the scene, - the sieges of Reading, - the two great battles of Newbury, - the attack and defence of Basing House, - besides the more distant but bloodier battles of Marston Moor and Naseby, in which Lord Fairfax was a leader, and in the first of which he was wounded! There is nothing to shew whether Henry Fairfax actually served in the Rebel Army. He appears to have lived here at least the latter part of his life; probably from the death of his father-in-law in 1651: and he was buried here, as the inscription on his tomb states, in 1656. He had a son, also named Henry, who married Ann, the daughter of a man of considerable note in his day as a Physician and Writer, Sir Thomas Browne, Two inscriptions, one on a flat grave stone, and the other on a tablet in the wall, in the chancel isle of our  Church, record this connection, and the second is well worthy to be given here in full length, for the touching picture the verses it contains give of a, beloved child cut off in the lovely bud and promise of his 4th year (as appears in the Register of his Baptism).

Sacred to the Memory of
WILLIAM FAIRFAX, Son to HENRY FAIRFAX, Esq.,
by Ann his wife, daughter to Sir Thomas Browne, Kt.
Who died July the 27th, 1684,

This little silent gloomy monument
Contains all that was sweet and innocent,
The softest prattler that ere found a tongue,
His voice was music, and his words a song
Which now each listening Angel smiling hears:
Such gentle harmony composed the spheres;
Fair as young Cherubins soft and kind,
And though translated, could not be refined.
The seventh dear pledge the nuptial joys had given,
Toiled here with play retired to rest in Heaven,
Where they, the shining Host of Angels, file,
Spread their gay wings before the Throne, and smile.

In the same grave resteth also Ann Alethea, their daughter.

The last old mansion here we have been speaking of, Hurst Lodge, with the property connected with it, including the lease of the Tithes of the Parish, continued in the possession of the Barkers, until it passed into the family Fairfax, through the marriage of the daughter and heiress to Henry Fairfax, the parents of the child whose inscription we have just given. Their only surviving daughter and heiress, Frances, was married in 1697, to the then Earl of Buchan; and as that family had property and interests elsewhere, - in Scotland, at a distance in those days rendering frequent journeys to and fro all but impossible, - they not long afterwards sold the whole estate to the ancestor of the Palmer family, in whose possession, as we stated before, it now remains.

One Farm with the curious old mansion on it., known as the "High Chimneys' Farm," was till very recently in possession of the representative of a branch of the Barker family to whom it had also come by marriage. In mentioning before, the claim of this family to continued remembrance amongst us, we referred, of course, to that most valuable gift of theirs to our poor, - the Almshouses opposite the Church. It bears this inscription on a marble tablet over the entrance gate. "This Hospital for the maintenance of Eight Poor Persons, each at 6d. per diem for ever, was erected and founded in the year 1664 at the sole charge of William Barker, Esq., who died on the 25th of March, 1685, and lies buried in the South Chancel of this Parish."

Henry Fairfax, his nephew and heir, "MP" (These letters stand for two Latin words, signifying that he "put up this Tablet"

Two things ought to be noticed particularly regarding this excellent charity: that it was not a death-bed gift, giving to the Lord and His poor, what the owner, or rather the steward and tenant of it, saw he could no longer keep for himself: but freely bestowed more than 20 years before his death; and further, that it was not till after that event, that his name, by the care of those who succeeded to his property and his obligations, was placed on the building which he had founded and endowed. We shall give some of the regulations which he left, to secure a proper use of his bounty, and good conduct among those partaking of it

We now give a copy from the original Deed of 1682, of some of the directions of William Barker, the founder, as to the kind of persons to be elected into the rooms, and the behaviour to be required of them when elected.

He directs the person by whom the election is, from time to time, as vacancies occur, to be made, to elect "not for any [other] respect, but he shall have respect to the age, infirmities, honesty, and good behaviour, poverty, and sobriety of such persons as he shall elect; and shall elect and chose such as are ancient persons, and have been painstakers, and people of integrity and honesty, and most need, and not lazy, idle persons, or such as have grown poor by their laziness, idleness, or profuseness, or ill-husbandry, or any other vicious course of living; and, so near as may be, a single person." (It is however provided, that married persons, not having the charge of children, may be elected: only that all the benefit is to belong to one of the couple so elected: and, therefore, if that one should be the first to die, the surviving one, whether husband or wife, is not to have any right to remain in the rooms.)

It is also "directed and appointed that the poor people to be elected shall at all times demean themselves orderly, soberly, and honestly, without any scandal, drunkenness, or notorious vice; and shall from time to time be resident and inhabit in the said rooms so to be to them allotted, and continually and in an orderly and decent way, resort to the Parish Church of Hurst on every Lord's day, at the time of Divine Service as now established, unless by some accident or occasion (to be allowed of by the person who shall have the power and authority of electing) they shall be letted or hindered. "The Trustees are also directed to act as visitors, and to "take strict account of their behaviour and manner of living;" and they have authority to suspend for a time, or to remove," any commonly or usually living in any scandalous vice or debauchery, or absenting themselves from their rooms, or from their parish church on any six Lord's days, or more, in an6y one year," without some reasonable cause to be approved by the visitors. The allotment of the rooms named by Mr. Barker at the first election by himself was - three sets of rooms to the Liberty of Whistley; two to that called " Wilts Liberty, (Broad Hinton); two to Winnersh (called here Winhurst, most likely the right word,) and one to Newland. He reserved to himself, however, the power of electing to any rooms becoming vacant, "from any place, or part of the Parish that he
pleased:" but as he directed his successors always to elect from the same Liberty as that of the person whose death or removal caused the vacancy, and the rooms have always, as it appears, been allotted in the above named proportion, it is to be concluded that he did not se any reason afterwards to depart from that, which at the beginning he had established as the rule, and which, on the whole, - looking to the population and to the comparative wants of the several Liberties, -remains a very fair apportionment.

The endowment, charged upon certain lands in Hurst and Sonning, duly described, is for each of the eight persons, 3s. 6d. per week, to be paid monthly, two rooms, an allotted portion of the garden, with the free use in common of the court-yard, oven and bakehouse &c,, and cloth for gown once in two years "of a colour as near purple as may be, and not to exceed 18 shillings in value."

The following curious epitaph must not be omitted, though it has too much in it of the had taste and somewhat irreverent spirit of the times, - which did not scruple to mingle the most solemn subjects with jesting, - to be quite commended. It is engraved on a small square brass tablet, now inserted, for its better preservation, in the east wall of the chancel aisle, but formerly fixed in a large rough slab in the pavement of the chancel. There appears to be no clue now to the residence here, or to the connection in any way with this parish, of this Richard Kippax. There is a parish of the name in Yorkshire, and just a century after this man's death, a Kippax appears as appointed Archdeacon of the Isle of Man, under Bishop Wilson, succeeding his father, who had held the same office
there previously. and who came from Ormskirk in Lancashire, and was therefore of the same county at least, if not of the same family with this man.

The words round the outside border of the tablet are as follows:- "Here lyeth buried the body of Richard Kippax, Gentleman, who departed this life the xiii. day of September, Anno Domini, 1625."

Within this we read :- " Elegiacal, or mournful verses made upon the death of Mr. Richard Kippax, sometime Examiner in the Star Chamber Office; which verses by a Friend well-wishing to his memory are dedicated to Mrs. Ann Kippax, his late wife, sister to the worthy gentleman, Sir Richard Fleetwood, Knight Baronet, (and Baron) of Nuton."

"Forty-three years about the world he went,
And then cast anchor, all his strength being spent.
To die is dreadful; but to set life free,
Crowned with rich hopes, brings joy, and so die he;
For his soul, winged with an ambitious fire,
Told him there was a new Star Chamber higher,
Than that were our Lords sit at Westminster,
Nor could he rest till he had got in there.
His Office, here to that above was base;
Heaven is indeed the true Examiner's place.
Four Counties challenged shares in him on earth;
Ro Lancashire he was engaged for birth:
To Middlesex he in deep bonds did run
For free and generous education:
In Wiltshire did his life break all here charms,
Whilst Berkshire vowed his grave should be her arms;
But his pure soul, which did base earth contemn,
Is a Free-holder in Jerusalem,"

Chapter VI

In some Parishes many curious things are to be found set down in the old Parish Registers, besides what they ought by law, from very old times, to contain.

The Registers of our Parish are by no means so old or so curious, in this respect, as many are; but still, on looking through them, we may glean some things worth noting, as throwing light upon past days and the ways of people then living just where we are now.
The first order for keeping Parish Registers dates from September, 1538. After a long preamble it proceeds " I, Thomas Cromwell, Privy Seal and Vicegerent to the kings Highness, do give and exhibit to you these injunctions following * * * "That you and every Parson, Vicar or Curate within this Diocese, for every Church keep one Book or Register, wherein he shall write the day and year of every Wedding, Christening and Burial made within your parish for your time, and so every man succeeding you likewise."

The same order was continually repeated afterwards in different forms both by the Royal authority, and by that of the Bishop. Whether it was observed at the first in our Parish we cannot say. The earliest book we possess begin with the year 1585, and from the formal title put to it, it seems as if it were, really, the commencement, on the part of the Minister, of keeping such records.

It is on a long paper book, written in a kind of hand-writing very difficult to read, much the same as that used still for engrossing law papers,, but much smaller, and more full of flourishes and ornaments, hiding the true shape of many letters. At the head stands the word " Emanuel " a proper memorial that the several acts to be recorded there were religious acts, and must be done in the power
and in the name of Him who is "God with us." Then follows, "The name and surname of all those which were christened, married, and buried, in the Parish of Hurst, since the Feast of St. Michael, Archangel, Anno Dom. 1585, Elizabethre 27, Thomas Hearne, Minister."

This book goes down only to the year 1608. It was for some time, - we know not how long, - lost to this Parish, and lying among the old Registers of Ruscombe, - the two parishes being probably held by one and the same clergyman, - and being found there by the late Minister, was restored within the last twenty years. One thing strikes one immediately, on looking over this old book, nearly 300 years old, - taking us back almost to the days of the great "Spanish Armada," and its defeat and destruction, - is that so many of the same names come over and over again, that are to be found amongst us, or in our immediate neighbourhood, now, or were within our remembrance.

The very first entry of a Baptism is "Nicholas Mylam, sonne of Rafe Mylam." (We use the old spelling in this instance, but in other cases, except the surnames, we change it to our modern way as more easy to make out.) Arid as we run through the years following to 1608, we find these, "Millard, Eyltes, Maynard, Langley, Pope, Symonds, Goodchild, Holt, CottertelI, Maskoll, Alwright, Jennyns, Nash, Blake, Flower, Cripps, Frift, (apparently, it may be Frith, as the writing is very difficult to read with any certainty), Garraway, Parncott, Lawrence, Poulton." These who were at that time, probably the working men or the yeomen and tenants in our Parish, as there is no notice of any rank such as Gentleman, Esquire, or Master, added to their names, are the real old families amongst us. While all the higher gentry of those by-gone days, - the Wyndebanks, Harrisons, Barkers, of whose history we have found out some traces, - have utterly passed away and left none of their names amongst us, not a few of those who served them, or cultivated their lands, or went out to war at their call, have still their descendants of the same name, after so many generations, farming, or trading, or labouring within a mile or two of their old homes, or perhaps on the very spot. One name, of late again connected with the Parish, in a higher rank, appears in the year 1607, "Richard Bowles, Esquier." It is remarkable, on looking over these old records, that though many of the less common surnames were to be found here nearly 300 years back, just as they are now, very few of those most common in these later days, - such as those taken from trades - Smith, Baker, Tailor, - are to be met with at all so far back. Several occur, as one might expect, taken originally from the particular place where the first that took the name, or had it given him by his neighbours, resided; such as Byforest, Atwater. No doubt the first so called, before surnames were at all general, was known as John or Richard "by the Forest gate or Forestside," or, "at the water side" and then their sons and daughters by degrees took 'Byforest' or 'Atwater' as actual names to distinguish them, as being of that particular family. In process of time, most likely, the first syllables came to be dropped in speaking of them: and so the names of 'Forest,'  'Waters,' and others like them came into use; such as Lee for Atlee, - at the Lee, or ploughed land, - (a name which we had here a few years back), Townsend, for 'at the Town's End,' and so on. Another thing to notice is, that terms which it would now be considered rude and unmannerly to use even in common talk, were then looked on as quite right to se down in a formal formal Register kept according to law; as for instance in 1585, we find "Mother Swann;" the same year Good-man Quint, a stranger, " (his right Christian name probably uncertain); a little afterwards, " Dame Holt,"  "Goodye Lawrence."

It is, of course, a well-known but curious fact, that words expressing people's calling and position in life, - are apt to get by degrees a worse and lower meaning in this way than the first; - as the word 'Parson' is not now considered quite respectful name for the clergyman of a parish, though it is, properly, the legal term for one who has the charge of one; and 200 or 300 years ago we always in that way as the most proper word; or to take words of a still more changed character; 'Pagan,' originally meant only the inhabitants of a country village, whom the light of Christianity might not reach so soon as it did those in towns: "Villlain" meant only a servant, bound to a country farm or estate: "Wench" was an ordinary word, used in the days we are particularly referring to, for any young woman, rather as a word of affection, than as implying anything of coarse manners or bad character, as it is commonly used
now, Several times such entries occur, as (1586), the wife of Wm, Lamb, of Bd, Hinton, a poore man," 1594 - " (Christian name iIIegible) Valantyne, a poore maid;" also, (name illegible)" an old man;" though it is not, perhaps, very easy to see why such descriptions of the persons buried were inserted. Other entries, such as "Edward, servant unto Master Ward;" "Margery Deane, house servant to Mr Martin, of Shinfield," were obviously intended to mark them out from others of similar names, The spelling of the names is, - as is the case in all old writings - very various and uncertain, Thus we have in 1586, "Simon Bathe, of Sinsam; in 1592, "Myleham, of Syndlesham." The frequency with which that name occurs thus early, as of a hamlet of the parish, shows that it properly belongs to what now is growing to be termed the village of Bearwood, and not (as has been sometimes thought), only to the Mill and to the portion of Sunning lying on the other side of the river.

In the year 1589, occurs the burial of "William Hide, of Hinton," but the pen is drawn through the latter word, and "Hains Hill" is written over. It seems likely, that by "Hinton" is meant Hinton House; and that he, or an earlier member of the family, of the same name, was the builder of that curious old house, which, from the style of the carving inside, is evidently of about that date. In the brickwork on the east side the letters "W. H." appear plainly, formed with grey bricks. As this did not become very visible, until the  fresh pointing and dressing of the walls a few years ago, we believe it was generally thought among the neighbours, who noticed the letters, that they were newly placed there, by some of the workmen employed, in honour of the much respected tenant, the late Mr. W. Hicks who occupied the house and farm at that time. We have, however, very little doubt that they were really the initial letters of "William Hide."

The Hydes were a very numerous Berkshire family. John Hyde, Vicar of Sonning, was buried in the chancel of his Church about the year 1501. His cousins Nicholas and John Hyde were residuary legatees, and Walter, Richard, Arthur, and Eliza Hyde are all mentioned in the Will. Whether the Hyde family about this time removed to or from Haines Hill we know not, but as early as 1593 there is a baptism of one of the family of "Wyndbuank" who were possessors of Haines Hill in days a little later, those of James I. and Charles I. "Ellen Wyndebank, ye daughter of Thomas Wyndebank, Esquyer."

It may be observed here that the name of Haines Hill occurs thus early, though the rise of the ground is so little perceptible from many points, that many have said they could not make out where the hill was, When all around was unenclosed Common, with scattered thickets, (as it was to the last century) the House, with its fir wood, and other trees about it, must have been much more conspicuous than it is now, and the real elevation of the ground on which it stands, would be much more easily noticed by the eye.

Chapter VII

After the old fragment of a Register, from which we have taken these entries, ceases in 1608, we have for 25 years no Register preserved.

With the year 1633 commences a large parchment book, but unfortunately it is evidently a mere copy, taken very much later than the above date and not of .sufficient exactness to be of much real value: It is clear that the person who made the copy was unable to read the old original Register correctly, of which the fragment remains, as he has in various instances entirely changed a name through mis-reading; as for example in 1642 he gives the name of "Ellis Bould" - and in 1646 it is "Ellis Boulds," and in 1649 "Ellis Bouls," which, an examination of the earlier register shows is more nearly the  real name "Bowles." In 1652, and several times  afterwards, occurs a name, of which no other trace seems left behind in the neighbourhood, though from the title given, they must have been a family of some consequence:- "Anna, daughter of ye Worshipful Peregrin Willcox," or "Willcocks," - for it appears written in both ways.

In 1655, we meet with "Richard, son of Richard Garth." It is the only time, we believe, that this, now well-known name, is to be met with in the registers, until the Iast generation; and probably this "Richard Garth" is in no way connected with the present proprietor of Haines Hill.

For some years after the date to which we have now come down, - i.e., about the year 1650, there are not many remarkable entries, except some relating to the great families then resident here, most of which we have given before when tracing out what could be known of those families.

Knowing how the Church was overthrown, as to all outward circumstances, during those times, i.e., from 1649, the murder of Charles I, to 1660, the restoration of Charles II, ;- its holy services forbidden, its holy buildings misused and defiled, - one would hardly expect to find any Register of religious acts, such as Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, kept regularly during that time, as if there had been no change at all in Church or State, Such however is the case, though one may, indeed, trace out, especially in the Register of Marriages, some tokens of the prevailing confusion.

Whoever was then endeavouring to keep that Register for the Parish appears not to have registered simply his own acts in joining together his parishioners in holy matrimony, but to have set down those he knew of, however, and whenever, the ceremony, such as it  might be, was performed. Thus as before mentioned, one couple are entered as "married by Mr. Justice Bigg," In 1655, there is this entry, "Thos, Horsey and Faintnot Holdersonesse, were married at Swallowfield," (The name "Faintnot" as a Christian name
of a woman, is also in character with those times, when we know that "Praise God," was the Christian name of the man who presided over the contemptible wreck of Parliament then remaining. We do not, however, observe any other of those extraordinary  names in our registers about this time. In 1659 occurs "Ann Harrison was married," without the name of the husband, or place of marriage, as if it were a mere memorandum of the fact of the marriage, which was to be filled up afterwards, on ascertaining more about it, and from some cause never completed.

Almost the only out-of-the-way name occurring anywhere in these books is in 1608, the marriage of "Joseph Taylor and Venus Daw." In 1674 is the following, "James Bryan, Esq., and ye Lady Theodosia Ivey were married." It  would probably now be difficult to trace, certainly, who the lady of noble rank was, who bore that name, but it may have been Lady Theodosia Magennis, probably daughter of Arthur, third Viscount Magennis of Iveagh, who died in May, 1683.

Another entry relating to a noble family long since extinct, is found in the register of burials, in the year 1732, viz., Montague, son of Lord and Lady Mary Bluden," who is probaly identical with "Montague, son of Lord Blundell and Mary his wife, daughter of John Chetwynd Esq., of Grendon, Co. Warwick, died unmarried, 21 January, 1732." Lord Blundell (Sir Montague Blundell, fourth Baronet) was raised to the peerage in 1720. On his death in 1756, the title became extinct. He had been M. P. for Haslemere. There is nothing to shew what the connexion of the Blundell family with this parish may have been.

The number of marriages per year varies exceedingly, from 12 to 14 down to 2 or 3. This is observable in particular from 1675 to 1686, and from 1690 to 16IJ4, during which periods the number is generally less than 4. The cause of this appears to be the irregularity which prevailed then in regard to the celebration of marriages. Though the law of the Church always required that they should be celebrated after banns asked or by licence, after due enquiry, only in the parish where one of the parties resided, there was no sufficient Statute law to compel this to be observed, so that people appear, having once, somehow, obtained a certificate of banns or a licence to shew, to have been married where they pleased. Hence it might happen that if the Clergyman of a Parish were less easy than his neighbours about all things being quite regular in a marriage, or even if the fees expected were larger than elsewhere, the number of marriages celebrated there, might bear no proper proportion to the population.

In examining the Burial register during the same years, we find in 1705, "The Lady Mary Howard, dr. of the Earl of Berks." Unfortunately in those days the age is never set down, and therefore it is scarcely possible to ascertain which, of various persons bearing the same name, might be signified by any particular entry. If this were a lady of considerable age, it might well be that Lady Mary Howard, who, in 1650, was committed to prison for being concerned in a plot for restoring Charles II. to his rightful throne; but it is more probable that this person was the sister of Lady Frances Winchcombe (of whom we have spoken before), and youngest daughter of Thomas, third Earl of Berkshire, - their mother being a daughter of Sir Richard Harrison, of Hurst.

In 17I I occurs the singular name "Dean Swift, widow."  It is remarkable that, - with the name of "Swift," - occurring, we believe, this once only in our registers, - should be joined as a Christian name, "Dean," - that which became about this time, so famous as a title of office, joined with the name of Swift, in the person of Dean Jonathan Swift, Dean of S. Patrick's Dublin, the author of many writings that made much noise in their day, and of one at least as well known as ever, "GuIliver's Travels." It appears however, (from a Table given in Scott's Life of Swift), that Dean Swift's uncle, Godwin Swift, married as his fourth wife, the daughter and heiress of Admiral Deane, one of those who sat in judgment on Charles I., and that they had a son, Dean Swift, cousin of the author, Dean Swift. It seems probable that the wife of Godwin Swift, (who is mentioned as living till 171 I,) or of his son, Deane Swift, was the person buried here. The family of Deane was then, as it is now, a well-known one in both Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and connected by marriage with this parish.

A curious name occurs in 1720. "Mara Pharaoh, a traveller." It must, probably, have been some poor foreigner, dying here in his, or her, wanderings. One cannot but be struck by the frequency of entries of the same kind occasionally occurring almost from the beginning of the Register, but very commonly in the earlier part of the last century, as in 1725, "a travelling woman;" 1729, "a traveller;" 1731, "a travelling boy: " 1745, "Ann, dr. of a travelling woman;" 1748, "a travelling man," two successive days. These seem to point to those as times when poor houseless vagrants were very common, and when, if sickness came, ending in death, it was not the business, at least not the acknowledged duty, of anyone, to see to them further than just to bury them out of their sight, just as they had fallen, nameless and unknown. Most likely in the then open wild country around our parish, and within its bounds, a good many of these might be poor gypsies, with scarcely any proper names but such as they got among their vagrant companions. Possibly "Mara Pharaoh " might be one of these.

Chapter VIII

In the year 1722 is entered among the burials:- "Captain Edward Polehampton, of St. Sepulchre's, London. August 7th." He was the founder of the Chapel and Free School at Twyford, in this parish, - and that not by will, at his decease (which would have been, in fact, making those who should have been his heirs, do the good work for him,) but during his lifetime. He was not, indeed, permitted to see it completed ; as it was not till 1728 that the Chapel was finished, the minister and schoolmaster appointed, and Divine Service publicly said There; for some legal difficulties arose in regard to realizing his property, and the whole of what he had left was found insufficient, without accumulating for some time, to finish the buildings and provide the necessary yearly income, &c. But he commenced the work in the year 1720 by purchasing land for the purpose, and getting it converted from copyhold to freehold; and in his will dated July 27, 1721, he speaks of the building as already in progress. In that, - while he bequeaths all his property, exclusive of this, to be held in trust for a niece and her heirs, he charges the trustees with the duty, first of all, of completing the chapel, school, and ministers house, according to the plans he had prepared; and out of what should remain of all that God had blessed him with, then, to pay £4o per annum to "some able and sufficient orthodox minister of the Church of England, " who" shall take care duly to supply the said Chapel with the reading of Divine Service on Sundays, both morning and afternoon, and likewise, with a sermon on every Sunday, both morning and afternoon; "and who shall teach" ten poor boys, to be duly chosen out of Twyford by the Minister of Hurst, at the age of eight years, to be taught to read and write till the age of 15 years, if they think fit so long to continue." He also directed £10 per annum to be paid for the clothing of these Ten Boys and gave permission for other scholars to be taken into the school; (boarders, if the minister or master should think fit, for whose accommodation there is a room above the school-room,) and provided that, in case the chaplain should not teach the school himself, a master should be chosen, to have £10 per annum out of the £40 given, together with the use of the house."

Since the Consecration of s. Mary's Church in 1847, the old chapel (never Consecrated), has, by consent of the trustees, with the approval of the of the Bishop, been wholly disused, and the Services transferred to the former, as making far better provision for the inhabitants of the village. Of course, if we look at Polehampton's foundation with the notions of the present day, both the buildings and the endowment must appear miserably poor and insufficient; but we ought rather to have regard both to what was the value of money, and what was the ordinary position of a clergyman 150 years ago, - remembering too that the fixed income of the Minister of the Parish of Hurst was, until about 25 years ago, only £4O, and of the Parish of Ruscombe only £30. Viewed in this light the Foundation of Edward Polehampton at Twyford was, for an age little given to Church building or School founding, a very noble and liberal offering in the service of God.

Little, we believe, is know of the Founder. In the Register, as given above, he is called "Captain;" and this was, in those days, more commonly so called who have really marked his rank, and naval or military profession, than it might now, when many are commonly so called who have no real right to the title. In his Will, he only calls himself "Citizen and Painter Stainer:" but his very likely only means that he belonged to that "Company" in London, not that he ever was really a "Painter" of any kind; just as we know, at present, a venerable member of a Cathedral Chapter, who might be called " Citizen and Girdler," (or "Gridiron maker,") having in his early days taken up his Freedom in that ancient "Company of the City." One, however, of the family of Polehampton was, somewhat later, a painter and artist of some reputation. There used to be a story connection with the village, - to the effect that it was the place where his mother was hospitably received in her hour of need, when she gave birth to him: and that his Foundation was an offering of gratitude for what he had heard of this, in his later years: but this is very probably rather a pretty invention, than a true tradition.

As we proceed downwards through our Parish Registers, with a view to notice any names there that still have any special interest for us, we come in the year 1750, among the Burials, to that of "Lady Ann Colleton." A few of our older fellow-parishioners will at once remember that name as connected in their youth with Haines Hill. Lady Anne Colleton was the daughter of the first Earl Cowper, Lord Chancellor of England in the time of George I., whose name will live on, perhaps, chiefly as being the uncle of the universally known William Cowper, the poet; by whom, in his early life, he endeavoured to provide, by giving him some office in the law, at his disposal, little suited to the tastes and character of the young man. Lady Ann Cowper married James Edward Colleton, Esq., of Haines Hill, in 1731, but died, without leaving any family, in the above-mentioned year, 1750, Her husband was of a younger branch of a very ancient Devonshire family, whose position as Gentlemen bearing arms, is distinctly traced up to the time of Edward I,; and one of whom, Colonel John Colleton, was a very devoted supporter of King Charles' cause, in the civil war, against the army of Cromwell and the Parliament, and after the defeat of the King, and his heavy losses incurred in his service, was obliged to retire for a time to the Island of Barbadoes, where he had considerable estates, After the Restoration he returned to England, and was created a Baronet by Charles II., in the year 1660. A grand-daughter of his married Colonel Garth, and hence, after the death of the above-named James Edward Colleton, in 1787, and the failure of direct heirs in his line, the late Mr, Charles Garth succeeded to the family estates of Haines Hill, and took in addition the name of Colleton.

In 1770 occurs the name of Robert Dunt, and entries of the family are found two or three times further on. Though there is nothing in the Registers, as they were then kept, to point out their position in life, or their residence, it seems likely that from them, somehow, Dunt, or Dunt's Lane took the name by which it is still known.

In 1785, we find the entry, "Mary, Countess Dowager Gower." It appears from Burke's Peerage, that this lady was the third wife (married in 1736) of John Leveson Gower, the first Earl Gower, Lord Privy Seal under George II., and raised in 1746 from the rank of Baron to that of Earl, the great-grandfather of John Leveson Cower, Esq., the present proprietor of Bill Hill.

In looking through the Registers of Burials, we find for some years, beginning with 1784, the letter P. or S.P., in a sort of cipher, added to many names: - to five in that year; to seven in the year following. The meaning of this is made plain when in the year 1788,
we hnd three successive names,-all of one family,
bracketed together, and "Sm : Pox" affixed. In that year no less than 11 names out of 26 buried are so marked. It is well to be reminded of this. The present generation - who are so apt to grumble at being obliged by law to have their children vaccinated, and to doubt whether it is of much use, because a few, who have been ever so carefully vaccinated, do afterwards take the small-pox, and a  very few indeed out of that small number have it dangerously, and even die of it, - have little notion of what small-pox was, when it raged uncontrolled, and was kept alive in every neighbourhood continually, by the practice of inoculating with it, in order to prevent the still greater danger of taking it naturally. When year after year several died of it in this parish - 11 out of 26 in one year, -we should remember how many more must have been grievous sufferers by it, disfigured for life or injured in eye-sight ; and be thankful that before our days, in 1796, - just a few years after these entries in our Registers, - Dr. Jenner was led to the blessed discovery that, taking the same disease called cow-pox, - in fact the very same disease passing through the body of the cow, - was a security, almost complete, against taking afterwards, in any dangerous form, the loathsome and deadly small-pox.

There is a very marked change in the way the Registers both of Baptism and Burial were kept, from the year 1769, for about five years. Both the writing and the spelling are so bad, that it appears that the Minister for the time must have left this matter, very improperly, to the Parish Clerk; and he could have been little qualified for his office.

The following double entry occurs during this time, in the year 1770, among the Baptisms

" Adam Found, which was found, July 29,"
" Moses Found, which was found, July 29."

(There is an entry of the burial of the latter poor little child of sorrow and shame, - as we may suppose, - the following year, " Moses Found.")

Some of our readers may remember in Crabbe's Poem of "The Parish Register," the naming, much after this fashion, of the Founding, "Richard Monday."

The baptism of one born under very different circumstances, and to a different history, is entered a few years later, 1794. "George, son of Hon. George Spencer, (commonly called the Marquis of Blandford) and Susanna his wife, was born the 27th day of December, 1793, and was baptized the 27th day of January, 1794." He afterwards became Duke of Marlborough, and died in 1857. Other baptisms of the same family occur afterwards, as they were then residing, we believe, at Bill Hill.

The marriage of the sister of the Marquis of Blandford is recorded in the marriage register two years later. "The Hon: Crossley AshIey, and the Right Hon: Lady Anne Spencer were' married in this Church by Licence, the 10th day of December, 1796." The Hon: Crosley Ashley was the late Earl of Shaftsbury.

Chapter IX

When it was decided in the year 1847 to pull down the old mansion of Hurst House, in order to re-build it more commodiously,  according to modern notions of comfort, it was expected that some curious things might be discovered in taking to pieces a house of such antiquity, and that had seen so many changes; such as concealed doors, secret closets, possibly hoarded stores of coin. Unfortunately nothing of the kind was turned out from its old walls. Two or three very massive old door frames of solid oak, about 300 years old, appeared built in with the brick-work and hidden for many years by later wood-work and plaster; and one room, when stripped of many layers or coats of papering, shewed a curious kind of decoration of the following kind. It was a spacious, though low room, on the first floor, and had evidently been the great or State bed-chamber. It had been painted in a sort of pattern of pillars and panels of a dark colour, and in the upper portion there had been originally a range of tablets, with scrolls, angels' and griffins' heads intermingled, much in the style of the upper ornaments of the screen in the Church, but all painted on the flat, making a kind of border or frame to each. On each of these were inscriptions of two lines in verse, in the Old English or Black Letter, in which books were printed generally about the year 1600. Only two or three of these could be read, as the plaster on which they were painted had been much of it broken away by the workmen, in tearing down what covered it. The first ran thus:-

"Soon from they bed as thou dost rise,
Take heed, serve God in any wise."

(That is of course "at all events," "any way," whatever may happen)

Another was (in old spelling):-

"As moderate sleep doth helthe maintain,
Excess thereof dolle (dull) the braine."

A third was imperfect, but seemed to be these words:-

"Sleep quietly, and take your rest,
As much as shall be thought the best."

This probably ought to have been read before the caution contained in the previous wise saying. The whole was executed very roughly, and would have been worth preserving (supposing it possible), only as a curious specimen, and probably an uncommon one, of the tastes and customs of our forefathers, in the adorning of their chambers. What they did by moral and religious couplets of verses, like these, we do after our fashion, now that art is cheap, by engravings and photographs of religious subjects and texts also made scarcely legible by illumination, and gilded flourishes; and perhaps the real result and effect is about equal in both cases.

Ancient Will of a Parishioner

(The Editor is indebted for the following, to a correspondent personally unknown to him; and he has gladly made use of it, as curious in itself, and of special. interest to us, from its connexion with our parish in times still earlier than any monuments or records so connected, which he has been able to bring forward.)

The Will of a Parishioner of Hurst in the time of King Henry VIII., August 12th, 1538, taken from the original in the Prerogative Court, Doctors' Commons. Some of the bequests appear to make it probable that the Testator was connected with the North of England; but his daughter had become "Margery Hyde," a name we have before noticed as that of a family of importance in this parish two or three centuries back, - probably the builders of Hinton House; and it is remarkable that amongst us still, are two of the names
of the witnesses to the codicil, "Goswell," and " Higgs." The will commences in this solemn form: (in the old spelling ) "I, Raafe Thomson, of the Parish of Hurste, being stedfast in mynde, and hole of bodye, thankes be to our Lord Everlastenge;" and then, as was customary in those days, - still before the Reformation, though not before some steps towards it, - he leaves divers bequests for masses, and lights to burn before various altars. After bequeathing his soul to Almighty God, he desires his body to be buried in the Chancel of S. Nicholas' Church, in Hurst; and he bequeaths to the Cathedral Church of Sarum, 20 pence: (this was a common bequest then, as being the Mother Church, - as Salisbury continued to be to Hurst, until Berks was annexed to Oxford instead, about 30 years since) ; to the Rood light in the said Church, four pence. He desires to have at his burial a solemn Mass of the Blessed Trinity, a Mass of Jesus, a Mass of the Holy Ghost, a Mass of our Lady; and also a Trental (a succession of thirty Masses) to be said " as ye may have Priests," - (implying that there might be expected to he more than the one curate in charge of the Partish;) at his "month's mind" (a religious festival to be held on the day-month of a burial) a dinner to be provided for his friends, and every Priest coming thereto is to have eight-pence. "Also I will that within two months after my month's mind be kept, a quarter of wheat shall be baken in bread, and brew as much malt, and make drink, as will serve to the same, and kill an ox, or other sufficient beast, and two calves, and four sheep, and call the poor people of Hurst home to them, and spend these victuals amongst them, or else divide in messes at at your discretion and send home to the poor householders there, as is the most need within the Parishes of Hurst and Ruscombe."

"To Sir Thomas, my Priest, (' Sir,' was then commonly prefixed to the name of a clergyman, - answering just to our modern word 'Mister'), to say Mass for my soul, and for my father's soul, and mother's, for one year after my decease, £6 13s. 4d. To my sister Helyne, dwelling in Topcliffe upon Swale, five marks (£3 6s. 8d.) To my cousin Margrett Grevys, dwelling in London, at the West end of Eastcheap, £20 sterling. To my daughter, Margery Hyde, after my wife's decease and mine, my best bed with covering of silk, with the best counterpoint (it is suggested that this means counterpane; but it is as likely that it means 'needlework') of imagery. "To John Bolton, dwelling at Wolton beside Beverley, 40 shillings. After some bequests to "Maister William Hyde" and others, he goes on "I will that every servant in my house that taketh wages of me, have his whole year's wages of my gift, over and above his standing wages, as many as hath served me divers years together at my departing. ...I will that every maiden servant that I have at my departing, shall have a cow with calf, or a calf going by her side." (The waste common-land of those days made this a useful gift.) "Also I bequeath to seven of the poorest householders where most need is, a Noble a-piece, if I do it not with mine own hand, or I depart; to five Bachelors of the poorest of the Parish five Nobles, in the worship (honour) of the five wounds of our Lord;" "also to five poor maidens of the Parish of Hurst, five Nobles, - to every maiden a Noble a-piece." "Also I will that my movable goods, as corn and cattle, these two things, be divided in three parts, and two parts thereof to my wife, because William Atter shall part with her the third part, - my fatting cattle excepted, my mares and my colts, and my sheep, which shall be sold for the performance of my said Will; and also my years of my Parsonage I will shall be sold for the performance of my Will, if other things will not stretch so far."  (This seems to mean that "Raafe Thomson" had a lease of the Tithes of Hurst, with certain "years" still to run. His burial in the Chancel points to the same tact; but it is curious that a Layman should, before the Reformation and the seizure of so much of the Church lands, have been in that position.)

March 4, 1538, (9 ?), he delivered the following "addition" "I Raafe Thomsom, being in good and and perfect remembrance, will that Margaret  my wife, have all my goods, and in her I put my full and whole trust, to see my last Will fulfilled. These being present Henry Wattes (or Walter), John Goswell, John Higgs."

Account of a Visit to Hurst in 1747 by Mr. James Belchin

"From here, (Laurence Walter Common) we came to Hurst, a small village five miles this side Reading, where we arrived at five o'clock at Mr. Man's father's. After we had put up our horses, we went into his house, saluted our new relations, sat down and drank
tea, which being over, by consent of the whole company, we all rose up and took a gentle walk round the village. By this time, the people of the town being alarmed that some company of consequence was arrived, rung the bells of the Church all shewed great demonstrations of joy. After we had taken a cool and pleasant walk, we returned home, sat down by the fire, made a tiff of rum punch and supped on poached eggs. This being over and the evening growing late, drank some friendly healths and parted for repose, each to their several apartments provided for them.

"The next morning, being Sunday, we arose about nine o'clock, washed our' faces and went to breakfast, which being over, dressed ourselves and proceeded to Church, (I must not forget to acquaint my reader that the people of the village continued to shew their demonstration of joy by ringing the bells all this day) which being over, we came out and was met by a noted publican of this place, of Mr. Man's acquaintance; after saluting each other in a gentlemanlike manner, we parted with a promise to return to his house in the afternoon, Being arrived at Mr. Man's, we sat down to a dinner which was provided for us, and after that we all walked together to the house of the persons we had promised, returning from Church. This house is very pleasantly situated and has belonging to it a large and handsome bowling-green for the diversion of those gentlemen who please to play. Being all assembled , together we sat down and smoked our pipes, and drank some wine in a very sociable: manner. The afternoon being half spent, the landlady of the house made her appearance and, in a very complasant manner, desired the company would be pleased to drink tea. Our ladies immediately accepted the offer, and I was the only person among our sex who withdrew with the ladies to keep them company. Tea being over, I left my company and took a little walk to make my observations of the most remarkable things worthy of notice, which are as follows :-

"The principal seat in this town is one of Lord Gower; it stands on a high hill, and makes a very fine appearance at a distance; and near the Church is one Esquire Dalby's, who is lord of the manor. Opposite the Church are eight almshouses, the gift of Wm. Barker, for the maintenance of six poor people at 6d. per day; he died the 25th of March, 1685. Being desirous to see the Church, I went to the Clerk of the Parish, who was very civil, and, at my request, let me in. This Church is very ancient and has the remains of the old Roman relics, as likewise an old cross on the top. At the Communion Table is the monument of the above Wm. Barker and likewise several very ancient ones. There is a fine monument to Sir Richard  Harrison, of Whisley, near Hurst, with his wife and son kneeling at prayers. He died the 23rd of August, 1683. He reduced his fortune by raising troops for the service of King Charles. Opposite to this is the monument of Lady Margaret Seville, who had three husbands, her first was George Gerrard, Esq., whose father was Lord Mayor of London, her second was John Smith, Esq., of Essex, and her third was Sir Henry Seville, Reader to Queen Elizabeth, he was of great learning and lyes interred in Eaton. She died anno 1631, aged 73. She has likewise sixteen children surrounding her monument in in a kneeling posture

"Next to this is a very ancient monument of one, Ward, who died the 9th of April, 1574. The porch of this Church is very old, and is believed to be the only remains of the original Building. After this, gave the Clerk a shilling for his trouble, for which he was very thankful, so we parted

"As I was walking by myself round the Churchyard, I picked up a bone of one of the deceased, which was remarkable for its whiteness, it was so well bleached that I put it in my pocket to bring to London, with an intention to have it converted into toothpickers.

"We got up at five of the clock the next morning, which was Monday, to continue on our intended journey to Oxford. Mr. Mann and his wife, senior, got our breakfast before we set out, after which, took leave of our friends, returning them thanks for all favours,"

A Royal Visit to Stanlake Park

The following story of a Royal visit to Stanlake as it used to be related by an eye-witness, a parishioner of great age, some thirty years ago, and long since laid to her rest in our Churchyard, may come in here. We give it, as nearly as we can in remember, in her own words.

"WeII, Sir; you know the great house at Stanlake, and the new part of it, that don't match-like with the rest; - least ways it was new then, for they were a-building it, though it looks old enough now, I daresay, for its many years since it was done; and many years
too since I see'd it. Well, you see, Sir, my Lord and my Lady, and the family, - it was Mr. Neville then, he wasn't my Lord yet - they was all gone away, while the work was about, and there was only me and my husband, and the dairymaid left just to mind the house, and see to the garden and do the cows, and the butter. It was in the days of good old George the Third, - not as he was old then, for he wasn't at all: and when , he was down at Windsor Castle he used to like to drive about, and visit some of the gentry and great folks as he knowed. Well, one day just as we was having some bread and cheese for dinner in the kitchen, we three together, - you see we was on board wages, to keep ourselves, so we hadn't anything better - there came up the drive, past the window, a grand Outrider, they call them, all in scarlet livery, and then a grand coach of four, and some more a-riding behind, 'Oh,' says I,' Whoever can they be ? 'Its the King' says F, (that's my husband.) He'd often been over to Windsor, and knowed him, - 'leastways his horses and carriages. 'Well,' says he, 'I can't go to the door in these work-a-day old clothes: you must go' 'No' he I. 'I am afeared. 'Lauk,' says the dairymaid, , I don't mind; I'll go' - They says' a cat may look at a king.' Well, Sir, so she went, and F. went after her, for fear she shouldn't know what to say; and I sat still-like in the kitchen, for, thinks I, where - ever they go, they wont ever come in here. And sure enough it was the King and the Queen and the Princesses, - that is two of them, - and the Lords-in-Waiting and all, and they asked if there wern't nobody at home, and the dairy-maid said, , No, your Majesty, only me, and the gardener and his wife.' (you see there had been a letter sent to say as they was a-com-ing,-only it had sent on to master, and he was a long way off.) So, you see, they talked a little together about what they should do, and the king said, Well, I suppose we can come in, and rest awhile, and put up the horses, for they can't go back at once. '0, sure, your Majesty,' says she, 'and welcome; I'll open the shutters in the drawing-room directly.' 'And there's plenty of room in the stables, please your Royal Majesty,' says F.' So in they came; and the King,  syas he, 'Very good, very good: and now is there anything to eat in the house?' So, says she, 'your Majesty, there's only bread and butter, and a bit of cheese, and plenty of milk.' 'Very good, very good,' says he, can't be be anything better.' So you see, Sir, she came out where I was still a-sitting in the kitchen, and we got a tray and a cloth, and some knives and forks, and plates, - the best was all put away - and she took them in; and she told me as they seemed to like it all very much, and the King said, 'That was capital butter, of her making.' And when they had done, the King said he should like to see over the house; and so the dairy-maid went before them and shewed them all the best rooms, though the furniture was all put away like: and the King made himself quite pleasant with her, and looked into everything, and asked all about it. And so she felt quite bold, and said, ' would your Majesty like to see my dairy ? '  'Oh yes,' says they; and so you see, Sir, she brought them all right where I was, the King, the Queen, and the Princesses, and the Lords-in-Waiting and all. I did feel my heart jump into my mouth when I found they was a-coming: but I got up and made my obedience. And the King said, 'Oh, this is the kitchen, is it? Very pretty, very pretty! And I suppose you made that  good bread we had, eh ? 'And I made bold and said, 'yes, please your Majesty, I did.' And then they went into the dairy, and the King looked at the pans, and the cream-pot, and the skim dish, and asked all about it, and how many cows we had, and all. Well, Sir, then they thought the horses might be ready to go back: so the coach, and the outriders and all came round, all so grand, and we three went to the door to wait on them, for I wasn't at all afraid then; and the King and the Queen said, 'Good morning' to us all, very pleasant, and I saw him say something to one of the Lords-in-Waiting, and he put something into F.'s hands, as stood holding the door open, and it was a golden guinea for each of us; and so that wasn't a bad day's work for us, and pleasant to think on  ever afterwards.

Additional Notes

Historical account of the Parish of Hurst, near Reading, Berks, From "Magna Britannica,"Vol. I.

Hurst, in the Hundred of Sonning, lies about six miles E, of Reading. and four nearly N, of Wokingham.

This Parish consists of four Liberties, viz., Whistley, Winnersh, Newland, and Hinton or Broad Hinton. The last mentioned district is an insulated part of Wiltshire.

The Church is in Berkshire.

Each Liberty has its own overseers and other officers.

The Manor of Hurst including the Liberties of Whistley and Hinton belonged to the Abbot and Convent of Abingdon ; having been given to that Monastery by King Edgar. In 1539 it was granted to Richard Ward and Anne his wife, from whose descendants it passed by marriage to the Harrisons.

The late Mr. Dalby, whose family were the next possessors, sold it, about the year 17 85, to Richard Aldworth Neville, Esq., afterwards Lord Braybrook.

Till within the memory of all persons who have attained middle life, Sonning, Hurst, Ruscombe, Wokingham, and Sandhurst, were within the peculiar jurisdiction of the Deans of Salisbury, These Deans held Visitations, took oaths of obedience from the Clergy, and examined their letters of orders. All wills were registered and proved in their Court; they also granter marriage licenses under the Decanal seal.

In 1405, Dean Chandler held a Visitation at his Church of Sonning with its Chapelries.

"The chapels of Sandhurst, Wokingham, Hurst, and Ruscombe, are dependencies of the said Church, and the inhabitants of the said hamlets receive in these chapels all the Sacraments and burial."

Of Dean Vanne's Visitations, beginning in 1538 til 1563, we have a most valuable record in very good preservation at the Probate Office, Somerset House.

There we find the names of all the parochial clergy, the state of their churches and churchyards, and a copy of every will brought for registration. Also the names of persons, who, having; disgraced themselves by profane talk, backbiting, or dissolute manners, were condemned to make amends to their neighbours or to do penance openly in Church.

" Alicia Larkington, a parishioner of Hurst in 1554, was condemned to walk, preceded by the cross, in the Church procession at Wokyngham, with a candle of ijIb. in her hand, to kneel before the high altar at Mass."

The chancel and and chancel aisle of Hurst Church were restored by the Rev. A A. Cameron in 1855. Architect - Ferry, of London.  Stained glass by Hudson, of London. The organ presented by Mrs. Cameron, by Nicholson, of Worcester.

The Church was enlarged by the addition of the South Aisle, and thoroughly restored and re-seated in 1875 -6, the entire cost being born by the late Miss Palmer, of Holme Park, Sonning. It was re-opened by the Bishop on Wednesday, September 27th, 1876.

The Tower contains a peal of six bells which were re-hung at the time of the Restoration of the Church.

In 1881, a Window was placed at the East end of the Chancel, to the memory of the late much beloved and respected Vicar, tthe Rev. Archibald Allan Cameron. The subject of the window is the Ascension of our Lord. It is by Clayton & Bell, and the cost was defrayed by parishioner and friends.

The Vicarage House at Hurst was built in 1863 by the Rev. A, A. Cameron.

The parish of Hurst included until late years, the districts of Bearwood and Twyford.

In the year 1845-6 the district of S. Catharine, Bearwood, was severed from the Parish of Hurst, including parts of the liberties of Winnersh and Newland, with a population of about 500.

This District has a Church in the Decorated Gothic style, built and endowed by the late John Walter, Esq., to which have been added by the present John Walter, Esq., a school-room and Rectory House. The organ, by Willis of London, was presented by Thomas Rickman Harman, Esq., in 1853.

The District of Twyford was severed from the parish of Hurst in 1876, the Rev. E G Wilkinson, being the first Incumbent. For the Church, dedicated to. S. Mary, Twyford is chiefly indebted to the late Miss Currie, then residing at Stanlake, with whom the idea originated and by whom the expense was in great measure defrayed.

The Vicarage House was built in 1877.