Brightwell Baldwin



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Parish church

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The porch of St Bartholomew was rebuilt in 1905, exactly reproducing the old one, as a memorial to Richard du Cane who was agent to the Brightwell estate for many years. Beneath the mat in the porch is a stone commemorating Stephen Rumbold who died in 1687. It reads thus:

He liv'd one hundred and five
Sanguine and Strong
An hundred to five
You do not live so long.

Stephen Rumbold's name lives on locally in Rumbold's Lane and Rumbold's Copse.

The church charities are listed on a board over the church door. In 1669 two of Bishop Paule's sons gave £30 which was invested in land. In 1688 £82, left or given by parishioners between 1612 and 1688, was invested in further land.

Under the Enclosure Act of 1802 William Francis Lowndes-Stone-Norton undertook to make a yearly payment of £10 to be laid out in coals for the poor.

St Bartholomew's churchyard was enlarged in 1892, the ground being given by Roger F. Lowndes-Stone-Norton, Lord of the Manor.

The churchyard lamps were erected in 1981 in memory of George Strang of Brightwell Farm, who was a churchwarden for 29 years. The oldest readable gravestone commemorates Robard Smeith who died in 1630.

Brightwell Baldwin parish was for many years divided into three tythings, each of which held its own court. Sometimes one individual owned or rented all three, at other times they had different owners or tenants. In the latter case, the presentation of the rector became the right of the owners in turn. This arrangement led to disputes and litigation on occasion.

From 1294 to 1419 all the presentations were made by members of the Parke family. In 1419 John Soulby was presented by Henry Soulby and John Eseby after an enquiry had confirmed that it was the turn of the last two, because they had recently acquired part of the manor together with the next advowson. The next presentation was made by Johanna Parke, the last made by a member of this family. On her death the manor was divided between her three married daughters. Two sold their shares to Sir William Stonor who presented Robert More in 1445.

On Robert More's death in 1497 his successor was presented by John Fortescue who was John Stonor's guardian. John Stonor had succeeded his father but was still a minor. Sir John Fortescue was a courtier and a soldier, married to Alice Boleyn, cousin of the future Queen. While guardian of the two Stonor children he arranged their marriages to two of his children, thus ensuring for them the Stonor wealth. John Stonor, who had married Mary Fortescue, died at 17 leaving no children and the Stonor estates were claimed by Adrian Fortescue who had married Anne Stonor. This claim was disputed by Anne's uncle, Thomas Stonor, and a lawsuit started which was to last for 34 years.

In 1502 the rector was presented by Adrian and Anne Fortescue although their right to the advowson was disputed by John Cottesmore who had acquired the third share of the manor from Johanna Parke's other daughter. In 1533 the rector was presented by Adrian Fortescue, now Sir Adrian, whose wife Anne had died. She was first buried at Pyrton but seven years later her body was taken to Bisham Priory where an elaborate tomb had been prepared amongst those of her Montague and Neville ancestors. At the time of the Reformation, fearing that the Priory would be destroyed, Sir Adrian had her remains transferred to Brightwell Baldwin in 1538. No record or monument can now be found in the church. Perhaps Sir Adrian proposed to erect a monument but, as he was beheaded shortly after her reburial for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the Church, he may not have had the opportunity to do so.

Sir Adrian's second wife, also called Anne, remarried after his execution and she and her husband, Thomas Ap-Harry (or Parrey) presented the rector in 1541. Anthony Carleton, who had acquired the Cottesmore's estate in Brightwell Baldwin, presented the next two. In 1572 Herbert Westphaling was presented by the Crown who owned Cadwall, which is in the parish. The following two rectors were presented by Sir John Simeon who had bought the Carleton estate, which was later bought back from him by Dudley Carleton, Lord Dorchester. The Crown presented the next two rectors.

In 1665 Thomas Fiddes was presented by John Stone who had married Catherine Carleton. William White of London bought the right of presentation in 1801 in order to present his son Samuel. The next presentation reverted to the Stone family who made all those which followed until 1955, when F. W. Lowndes-Stone-Norton, who no longer lived in the parish, nominated R. Richmond-Watson to make the presentation. Before the next presentation in 1966 the advowson had been acquired by Frank Dudley Wright.

From 1688 the names of the Brightwell Baldwin churchwardens and their annual accounts all appear in the vestry documents. In such a small parish the duties of churchwardens, constables, overseers and surveyors had to be undertaken by a very limited number of inhabitants. The churchwardens were usually tenant farmers and during the 119 years covered by the first account book only 36 names appear. The churchwardens' duties were many and varied, and some specimen entries from the first account book follow.

Church and churchyard maintenance
These entries were far the most numerous, varying from whitewashing the church £4.15.11 to amending ye tyles and cleaning gutters 1/-. Materials were obtained from various sources including 700 tiles from Nettlebed fields 12/10, one bushel of line from Rusels Water 1/6, stones from Headington quarey 19/-, and carage at 10/6.

For use in the church
A new prayer book 14/6, binding the Church Bible 15/6, for a new surplis and carriage £2.15.0, mending ye Challis cup for ye Communion 4/-, for a mat at the altar 3/6, for two links and two cords to let ye corps in ye grave 1/-, and a chamber pot at 8d.

There are several entries for the replacement of bass viol strings which must have been the band which accompanied the singing. R. E. Moreau, in his book on Berrick Salome, records that the old sexton at Brightwell Baldwin told him that when as a boy he was helping to clean out the tower he came across an old bassoon.

Forms for special prayers were obtained from the Archdeaconry Court:

  • for thanksgiving for the Queen's safe delivery 2/- (1773)
  • a prayer for thanksgiving for ye King's recovery 3/6 (1789)
  • a prayer for victory over the Dutch fleet 1/- (1797)
  • a prayer for thanksgiving for a fine harvest
  • for a prayer to be read for the catel 1/- (this was during an outbreak of distemper in 1746)
  • Poor relief
    The overseers were responsible for the parish poor but the churchwardens dealt with vagrants:

  • a poor man in great distress 1/6
  • a greatbellied woman 1/6 (a frequent entry)
  • for a man and a woman and six children in a bad condition 2/-
  • two poor women burnt out, one from Essex ye other Norfolke 3/-
  • eighteen poor seamen that were took by ye Turks 2/8 (between 1725 and 1735 there were many entries for relief given to seamen took by ye Turks)
  • twenty-five poor lame crippled soldiers 1/6
  • Vermin control
    Churchwardens were responsible for making payments for the destruction of noyfull fowles and vermyn. In the Brightwell Baldwin parish no fowles were considered noyfull and only three animals appear on the list. These were hedgehogs, 96 of which appear on the books at 2d each; polecats for which 4d each was paid for the destruction of 327 (a remarkable number, as latterly this animal is found no nearer than Wales) - possibly stoats and weasels came under this heading; foxes, one person was paid 1/- each for destroying four foxes.

Parish church

Parish church

Parish church

Parish church

Parish church