The Royal Manors

Saxon and NormanMagna Carta BaronsMagna Carta18th Century

Wraysbury Manor

The manor of Wraysbury, the only estate in Buckinghamshire held by Robert Gernon in 1086,  was afterwards held of the Crown as parcel of the barony of Stansted Mountfitchet, the caput of which was at Stansted Mountfitchet in Essex.   In 1540 it was annexed to the honour of Windsor.

Mountfichet Arms

Before the Conquest this manor was held by Edmund, one of King Edward’s thegns.  Gernon, the Domesday tenant, died without heirs, and his lands were given by Henry I to William de Muntfichet.   Gilbert, his son, a minor at the time of his father’s death sometime after 1135, was succeeded by his son Richard before 1186. He was Sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire in 1200,  and died three years later, when the custody of his heir Richard was given to Roger de Lacy.  Richard de Muntfichet was one of the twenty-five barons who called in the aid of France against John, and was taken prisoner at the battle of Lincoln.    He died without issue shortly after in 1268, leaving as heirs the descendants of his three sister , Margery, Aveline and Philippa.

Fortz Arms

The second sister, Aveline, had married William de Fortz Earl of Albemarle, and Wraysbury Manor with Langley Marish (q.v.) was allotted to her granddaughter Aveline.   During Aveline’s minority her lands remained in the hands of the King, who gave her in marriage in 1269 to his second son Edmund Earl of Lancaster.  He and his wife obtained seisin of her lands in 1273.   She died in the same year     without issue, and Wraysbury became the right of Ralph de Plaiz, son and heir of Philippa de Muntfchet.   

Since Ralph was only nine years old, the Crown had his wardship.   Ralph de Plaiz died while still a minor sometime before 1284   and the claim of the, descendants of his bother Giles was afterwards ignored by the Crown.   Wraysbury Manor was leased in 1282 to Christine de Marisco (Mariscis or Marreys), second wife of William de Marisco,   for her life,   and to her executors for three years after her death.   She died in 1311, and six months later her executors surrendered the remainder of their claim on Wraysbury to the king in exchange for a tenancy of Overstone Manor, Northamptonshire, for seven and a half years.   Wraysbury  was afterwards administered as a royal manor.  

 In 1313 part of the issues of this manor was assigned to the chaplain and clerks of the chapel in Windsor Park,  predecessors of the Dean and Canons of Windsor.

Harcourt Arms

The arrears for fourteen years amounted to £140 in 1327.  In that year Wraysbury was given to Queen Isabella for life.  It was afterwards assigned in dower to the queens of Edward III,  Richard II  and Henry IV.  Sir John Fray was holding Wraysbury Manor for life in 1447, when the reversion was granted to Eton College.   

This grant, however, proved abortive, although Wraysbury was excepted from an act of resumption in 1455  and a fresh grant was made in favour of Eton College in 1457 during the lifetime of Sir John Fray.   In 1465 this manor was settled on Elizabeth, queen of Edward IV, for her life.  It formed part of the dower lands of Elizabeth, queen of Henry VII,  also of Katherine of Arragon,   of Anne Boleyn,   and of Jane Seymour.  The later also had land known as Queens Mead, adjoining the Staines boundary, as another portion of her dowry.

In 1627 a grant of Wraysbury Manor was made to John Sharrow,  who conveyed it in the same year to trustees.   In 1649 they conveyed a moiety of the manor (including the right of holding courts)  to Thomas Ling and Humphrey Carter in trust for Andrew King, to whom it was transferred in 1656.  Lipscomb, who appears to have had access to the manorial Court Roll of that data, says that Andrew King died in 1659, and was succeeded by his son Andrew,  who was knighted on the accession of Charles II.

Sir Andrew King died in 1678  and his executors, following the instructions contained in his will,  sold Wraysbury Manor in 1685 to John Lee,  who died in 1704.  His widow Mary owned Wraysbury until her death in 1725,  when it passed to Philip Harcourt, grandson of Elizabeth, John Lee’s sister.  He died in 1759, and was buried at Wraysbury.   His brother and heir John died in 1785,   leaving a son and heir John Simon.   He alienated the manor to John Blagrove of Cardiff Hall, Jamaica who held his first court in 1807.

The trustees for Blagrove’s daughters held a court in June 1828,  but within the year the manor had been purchased by George Simon Harcourt,  son of the former owner.   His grandson Mr. Guy Elliot Harcourt was lord of the manor of Wraysbury in 1925.

 In 1369 the manor-house of Wraysbury, an old hall and some 277 acres of land were leased for thirty years to John Jourdelay and Thomas Remenham.   This estate, known as the site and demesne of the manor, was leased in 1543 for twenty-one years to Sir Walter Stonor.  

Sir Walter, Lieutenant of the Tower, is said to have built a house,  known as Place Farm, on the site of what is popularly believed to have been a Hunting Lodge of King John.  Five years earlier he had obtained a settlement in his favour of Remenham Manor (q.v.), and this lease follows the same descent in the Stonor family.  

The reversion was granted in 1555 to Sir Thomas Smith, and the lease renewed in 1574.   It was held in 1605 by Sir William Smith,  nephew and heir of Sir Thomas,  who obtained an extension in that year.  The estate was granted in 1628 to trustees for the City of London, a clause relative to the lease being introduced into the grant.  It was sold at the expiration of the lease, and, under the name of Place Farm, followed the same descent as Remenham Manor  (q.v.).

The right of view of frankpledge, in Wraysbury is named in the 13th century.   References to the court leet occur in the 17th century.   The court baron is still held annually.  In some cases it was customary on the death of a copyholder to pay as heriot the second best beast to the lord of the manor.   In 1725 from 38 acres of heriotable land two heriots were due, namely, "the best living or dead goods."  In. 1799 willow plantations for copyholders were to be held in severalty.

Silvester, rector of Wraysbury, owned land there in 1231.   In 1350 Edward III transferred to the collegiate church of Windsor, then in possession of the advowson (q.v.), a small estate granted to him by Richard of Gloucester.   These lands remained as the RECTORY MANOR with the college, which was exempted from suppression at the Dissolution.   In 1651 it was dispossessed and the manor, valued £3 8s. 6d., was sold nominally to John Bland  for Sir Andrew King, then lessee of the estate. After the Restoration the Dean and Canons of Windsor recovered the manor,   which they retained  and still own.

The lease of Wraysbury House and grounds, parcel of this manor, was owned consecutively by members of the Hassel and Gyll families during the 18th and 19th centuries,  and the owner was a lay rector.

Remenham Manor

A second manor in this parish, called Wyrardisbury or Remenham Manor, owes its name to the Remenham family, who were living here in the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1289 John de Remenham and his wife Alice held land and a mill in Wraysbury.   His descendant Thomas in 1343 settled land here with a weir and fishery in the Thames on himself, with remainder to his sons John, William and Richard.  Reference has already been made to the joint lease held by Thomas de Remenham in 1369 of the principal manor in Wraysbury (q.v.).

In 1463 Edward IV granted Wraysbury Manor to John Brecknock to hold by fealty and rent of a pair of spurs, or 3s. 4d. yearly.    He died in 1476,  and his widow Elizabeth held the manor until her death in 1489.   She was succeeded by Sybil granddaughter of John Brecknock and wife of Thomas Stonor.  

In 1538 this estate, under the name of Remenham, was secured to their son Sir Walter Stonor, kt.,  and his wife Margaret with reversion to Walter’s daughter Elizabeth  and her heirs. Sir Walter Stonor, died in 1551,  and was succeeded by Elizabeth, then wife of Sir Phillip Hoby.  She was buried at Wraysbury in 1560,  as was also her son and successor Walter Walshe  in the following year.  His son William  afterwards Sir William Walshe owned Remenham Manor in 1611, but before 1626 it had been purchased by Sir William Smith, kt., who died in that year.  

The manor passed to his son Sir William, kt.,  who, dying in 1631, left as heir an infant son Edward.   He died unmarried, and soon afterwards his uncle Thomas later Sir Thomas Smith, bart.,  in 1651 sold Remenham to Richard Hale.   His son  Dr. Richard Hale, dying in 1728,  bequeathed it to his nephew Thomas Tower, with remainder to Christopher, brother of Thomas, and his sons.  

Christopher Tower, son of the above Christopher,  was the owner .in 1778.  In 1785 he sold the manor to William Gyll,  who died in 1798.  His son and heir William died in 1806 , and was succeeded by Brooke Hamilton Gyll, his son, who was in possession in 1862.   The Remenham estate passed to his brother Gordon and afterwards to Gordon’s son Major Fleming Gyll,  from whom it was purchased about 1886 by  Captain Charles Hargreaves.

In 1611 Remenham Manor owed suit at the courts leet and baron of Wraysbury Manor.  It owned a ferry across the Thames,  and the fishing rights in 1785 extended about half a mile.

The so-called manor of COW or COKKE in Wraysbury appearing in the early 17th century  follows the same descent as Remenham. It is last mentioned in 1825.

Ankerwycke Priory

Ankerwycke Priory owned an estate in Wraysbury,  with which it was endowed by its founder, Gilbert de Muntfichct, about 1160.  This was increased by further gifts from him and his family, all of which are enumerated in 1251.  This property was owned by the priory at the Dissolution, when the demesne lands at Ankerwycke were valued at £4 13s. 4d. and the rents and farms in Wraysbury £5 6s. 8d. yearly.  In 1536 Ankerwycke was leased to John Norris for twenty-one years, and the reversion of this lease was included in the foundation grant to Bisham Abbey in 1537.  It was transferred to Andrew Lord Windsor in 1539,  but exchanged with the Crown for other property in 1542.

Smith Arms

In 1550 Sir Thomas Smith received a grant of the manor,  which was settled, shortly before his death in 1577,  on his brother George and George’s son William in tail-male.   William succeeded his father in 1584  and was knighted in 1603.  He acquired Remenham Manor (q.v.), and Ankerwycke follows the same descent until 1652, when it was conveyed by Thomas Smith  to John Lee of London.   He died in 1682,  and since 1685, when his son John  acquired Wraysbury Manor, the descent of Ankerwycke has corresponded with that of the manor.

Ankerwycke Priory owned all weirs and Fisheries in the Thames from Ankerwycke Ferry to Old Windsor. These were included in the grant of 1539 to Lord Windsor, and were held at that time by Thomas Edwards and William Danby.

The Ankerwycke estate, still owned by Mr. Guy Harcourt, in 1925, lies in the south of the parish. The ruins of Ankerwycke Priory, a house of Benedictine Nuns, are apparently of the 13th century with 15th century additions, and consist of a length of wall, 10ft high, running east and west with two shorter fragments at the east and north-west. In the longer wall are three windows, all facing the south. There is a 15th century opening in the fragment of wall at the north-west, and the east wall is strengthened by diagonal buttresses. All are now in a ruinous condition

Ruins of 13th cent Ankerwycke Priory c1860

Ankerwycke House, the residence of Mr. A. H. Benson, was built by John Blagrove in the early 19th century  on the site of the 16th century residence of Sir Thomas Smith, statesman and scholar under Edward VI and Elizabeth.  The latter sovereign visited Sir Thomas Smith there in 1565.  The grounds overlook the Thames with the Surrey hills in the background. The house fell into disrepair whilst owned by Bucks County Council and was demolished in the late 1970s

The Land in Wraysbury continued to be used for hunting by royal personages, the last recorded being that of the Prince Consort who, in the mid 19th century, hunted in the locality with his harriers.  By this time, however, much of the game had disappeared.  He also took an interest in the activities of the village, especially the Ploughing Matches which he sometimes attended.






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