Britwell Salome



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Parish church

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In the chancel of St Nicholas are marble memorials to Richard Newton and Elizabeth, 1859 and 1870, and to James Stopes, 1777, and Mary, 1799. The brass on the chancel floor commemorates Sir Maurice John, dated 1492, with the words Hic jacet magister mores etc. The stained glass window over the altar is a memorial to John Smith, who bought Britwell House in 1873, and his wife who built the church hall, now the village hall. Brass memorial plaques to John's sons can be seen in the body of the church near the lectern and the pulpit.

A brass plate from the old church and commemorating John Brome, vicar in 1554, reads:

Corpus ex sangue meum jacet hic sub marmore dicto terram tegat spiritus also petit.

Lett erth take erth agayne for here I leave my bones to rest and still remayne under these hard stones to thee oh kyng of kynges mercy mercy I cry to my poore soule gyve wyng above the sters to flye.

The altar cross was donated by Eric Pullen, who was church warden with Richard Roadnight for many years. The gradine and the lighting fixtures were donated from the Eric Pullen Memorial Fund. Eric was manager of the Roadnight farms for 25 years and died in 1978.

The set of green altar and lectern frontals were presented by the Misses Jones who for some years played the old harmonium and ran the Sunday School. The kneelers by the altar rail were designed by Leslie Greenwood, the famous flower artist, and were embroidered by Melanie Learoyd, both from Britwell Salome.

Also in the church is a 17th century Spanish oil painting of Christ with the Cross, donated by Major G.C. Whitaker of Britwell House.

St Nicholas has been well served by the Roadnight family, who contributed generously to its upkeep and donated the organ, altar frontal and the wrought iron flower stands. The organ came originally from the Methodist church at Stokenchurch and was brought in pieces to Britwell by Eric Pullen and Alan Shorter, and was reassembled where it now stands. The organ was dedicated in 1977 in the 25th Jubilee year of Queen Elizabeth II.

The list of incumbents is situated by the offertory box on the south wall of St Nicholas. The earliest recorded incumbent was Warin de Shirebourne who, according to ancient records:

...was presented by Almaric, son of Robert, to the Church of Brutwelle in the year of (Bishop) Hugh of Wells 1234 A.D.

For the first century nearly all the parsons had one Christian name only, and a place name of their forebears' origins. Richard Whaddon was the last serving incumbent of the first 100 years in St Nicholas' history, followed by Thomas Mileward in 1397. Mileward is probably a job-related name, possibly derived from 'mill ward'.

Richard de Cuxham served from 1316, but he seems to have ended his incumbency with a scandal. The following extract is from the Calendar of Patent Rolls in 1323:

On complaint by the Abbot of Rewley, and others, William German of Brittwelle and Richard the parson of the Church of Brittwelle, with others, broke and burnt his houses at Nettlebed and Bensington in the county of Oxon, felled his trees, and carried away his trees and other goods.

Thus in 1323, William de Grant of Burtons, Jnr., became the incumbent and nothing more is heard of the wrongdoing Richard.

In 1412 John Beaufitz appears to be the first person to hold a Degree of M.A. A later incumbent, John Brome, Bachelor of Divinity, has a record of bis burial in the old parish register on ye first day of Januarie 1574.

Also in the register is Clement Facer, who became rector in 1610. His wife, Alice, died in 1661, Clement dying ten years later in 1671 after an incumbency of 60 years. After Clement's death began the long dynasty of the Stopes family, with three James between 1671 and 1732, and then John Edwards, rector of Brightwell Baldwin as well as Britwell Salome, and son-in-law to James Stopes the third. In 1744 followed the fourth James Stopes, with three long incumbencies ensuing.

It was the second James Stopes who wrote to higher authority in 1685:

...two little parishes, Britwell Salome and Britwell Prior. Britwell Salome consists of fourteen houses as the circumference, the other parish as the centre containing six houses. At the East end of the Towne are the Church, Parsonage house and one farmhouse more belonging to it. There are no more than twenty houses and yet there are two churches not above a Bowe's shot from one another.

This situation continued for another 180 years, during which the Stopes' dynasty ended in 1777, followed by the incumbents William Finch, Andrew Price and James Johnson. Andrew Price, 1782-1851, was pluralist rector from Downe-Ampney in Gloucestershire, and there is a stained glass window to his memory in the chancel.

James Johnson's incumbency spanned 1851-1892, and he was responsible for the amalgamation of the two parishes into the one Parish of Britwell Salome. Both the chapel of Britwell Prior and St Nicholas Church were pulled down in 1865, apart from the chancel of St Nicholas which avoided re-consecration. The ancient church arch, the South doorway and small round font of Norman origin were retained. For no apparent reason the font had been replaced in 1812 by a small wooden pedestal with an iron frame to take a basin, but Johnson must have reinstated the original font, which now stands at the west end of the church. A small plaque and two windows in the chancel commemorate Johnson's work in rebuilding and enlarging the church, including the reconstruction of the chancel.

The next incumbent, J. G. Deane-Willis M.R., was never resident. In 1897 J. C. Mansfield received the living from Lord Lansdowne. Lord Lansdowne had estates near Kenmare in Ireland, and thus was responsible for introducing an eccentric Kerry man into the parish. Mansfield brought a black Kerry cow with him which was forever escaping from its field.

The Mansfields were at the rectory for 50 years. The rector farmed, played the fiddle, kept bees, and took on many pupils for coaching. His wife, Sybil, and their sons played tennis on the now long-vanished tennis court near the churchyard with its great yew tree, or drove out in a high dogcart.


Parish church

Parish church

Parish church