Besides the Mother Church of Chinnor, the Parish had a Private Chapel dedicated to St James at Henton from at least the early 13thC until the end of the Middle Ages.
The earliest Documentary evidence for the Parish Church is the record in about 1160 of a Priest named Robert and of another called Master Adam de Chinnor who was apparently his Successor. It is uncertain who was the Patron at this time. In a Suit in the King’s Court in 1235 about the right to present a new Parson it was claimed by Roger de Quincy, then Lord of the Manor, that a former Lord, Walter de Vernon (fl. 1155), had been Patron. On the other hand, one Simon de Chinnor said his ancestor Adam de Chinnor, uncle of Adam the Parson, had Presented, while the Prior of Wallingford claimed that his predecessor Prior Sampson had done so. It appears that Simon’s Family may once have had the Patronage for the Prior produced a Grant from Simon in which he recognised the Prior’s Right, but Simon said he made it under duress in Wartime and had omitted to make any complaint about it in Peacetime. However, the Jury decided in favour of Wallingford Priory, although it said that there was no great certainty about the matter as the Parson had held the Living ‘for a 100 years‘. The Case is still further complicated by the fact that Bishop Hugh de Welles collated in about 1219 ‘on the Authority of the Council‘.
In 1235 the King Presented because of a Vacancy at St Alban’s Abbey, of which Wallingford was a Cell, but agreed that in future the Priory should be allowed to Present even when the Abbey was Vacant. The Priory successfully maintained its claim later in the Century and thereafter always Presented, so far as is known, until 1450, when it Granted the Presentation to John Goldsmith of Chinnor. Later, in 1479, the Right to Present was granted to Sir Edmund Rede of Boarstall, who Presented his son Thomas. Perhaps it was worth more to the Priory to sell the Presentation than to Appropriate the Church, for although in 1445 Royal Permission to Appropriate was given so that the Priory might increase its numbers, the Priory never did so.
After the Dissolution of Wallingford, the Advowson of Chinnor was Ganted in 1528, with the rest of the Priory’s Possessions, to Cardinal Wolsey for his Oxford College. On Wolsey’s fall the Advowson reverted to the Crown and in 1544 was Granted to Richard Fermor, the Lord of the Manor. The Crown’s Right to Grant the Advowson was disputed in 1545, when John Fermor Presented, on the Grounds that Wallingford had sold the Presentation before its Dissolution. The Fermors, however, Established their Right but sold the next Presentation to William Wynlowe, who Presented in 1560. Wynlowe probably also Presented in 1586, when Richard Wynlowe, no doubt a relative, became Rector. The Fermors sold the Advowson with the Manor to Sir John Dormer in 1607 and he sold it in 1621 without the Manor for £500 to Nathaniel Giles, a future Rector, and his wife Ann. Giles left it by his Will of 1654 to his 2nd wife Elizabeth, who in 1657 sold it to Richard Braham of New Windsor for £200. In 1659 Braham sold it to the Rector Henry Edes, whom he had just Presented to the Living. Shortly afterwards, in 1662, Edes Presented William Paul, but Paul became Bishop of Oxford in the same year. He was allowed to hold Chinnor as well, but his Promotion seems to have given rise to the Crown’s claim to Presentation on his death in 1665, for Presentation to cures void by Promotion belonged to the Crown. Edes disputed the Claim but seems to have lost his turn and the Crown Presented the next Bishop of Oxford, Walter Blandford. After Presenting once again in 1668 Edes sold the Advowson in 1671 for £612 to the then Rector Stephen Jay. In 1688 Jay offered to sell the Living & Advowson to the Bishop of Oxford in exchange for a London Living, the Advowson of Cuddesdon, and an Eton Fellowship for his son. It was alleged that another condition was Jay’s Promotion to the Bishopric. Although the Exchange was never made, the proposals well illustrate the value of the Chinnor Living, estimated to be worth £300 a year, with its large Rectory House, which had cost £2,000 or £2,500 to Build. The Advowson Descended to Jay’s son Charles, who became Rector in 1691 on the Presentation of Richard Thompson, Clerk. It would appear that this must have been done by arrangement, it being illegal for Charles Jay to Present himself. In 1692 Jay married Elizabeth, daughter of William Nelson of Chaddleworth (Berks), and made a Settlement of the Rectory. He reserved the next turn in the Patronage to his widowed mother-in-law, Dorothy Nelson, and arranged for Trustees to sell the Advowson for the benefit of his wife. On Jay’s death in 1698 Dorothy Nelson Presented to the Rectory John Pocock, one of the parties to the Settlement. The Presentation appears to have been irregular, for Pocock was temporarily deprived for Simony, and in 1707 replaced by Samuel Dunster, on a Royal Presentation.
In 1718 the Advowson was sold by Jay’s Widow Elizabeth and her 2nd husband Edward Thorneycroft, a London Goldsmith, after a Chancery Suit in which Thorneycroft, from whom she had separated, claimed that his marriage had given him the Right to the proceeds of the Sale of the Advowson. The Purchaser, Robert Gardner, sold it again for £2,000 to John Huggins, Keeper of the Fleet Prison & Christopher Tilson. On Huggins’s death, the Advowson passed to his brother William, who about this time became Lord of the Manor. Since then the Advowson has Descended with the Manor, except for a short period after the death of Sir James Musgrave in 1814, when the Advowson passed to his elder son, Sir James, and the Manor went to the younger, William Augustus. The last, however, eventually became his brother’s heir.
Chinnor in the Middle Ages was a well-endowed Rectory, valued at £10-13s-4d in 1254, and at £13-6s-8d in 1291, together with 2 Pensions. In 1535 its value had risen to £26-0s-4½d net. The Living remained a rich one after the Reformation. By the 2nd half of the 17thC it was leased for about £300 a year & by the early 18thC, when the Rector was collecting his own Tithes, it was said to be worth over £500. In 1811 its net value, after the Curate’s Stipend had been paid, was £596, and in 1831, when it was valued at £509, it was the richest living in Aston Deanery. In 1844, when the Tithes were commuted, the Rector was given a Rent-charge of £707-6s.
For such a large Parish the Glebe was unusually small. In 1635 it consisted of 10 Strips in the 3 Open-fields, and in 1685 of 8 Strips, together with 13 acres of Pasture & Meadow. This was much the same as the 16 acres, partly in Chinnor & partly in Henton, which the Rector held in 1844. In 1939 the Rector still had 11 acres of Glebe.
The Rector received most of the Tithes from his large Parish, but in about 1087 Miles Crispin, the Lord of Henton gave part of the Tithes on his Henton Demesne to the Abbey of Bec (France). In the late 13thC, when these Tithes were valued at 13s-4d, they were being collected by the Keeper of Bec’s Bledlow Manor (Bucks). When Bec lost its English Possessions in the early 15thC, some of them, including the Tithes from Chinnor, were Granted to the Duke of Bedford, who held them at his death in 1435. They were Granted to Windsor College, which continued to collect them. They were known as ‘Beckharlewins‘, ‘Beckharvest‘, or ‘Berkharvest‘ Tithes, and in 1844 were commuted for a Tithe Rent charge of £50, Windsor also acquired in 1532 a Pension, which had been paid throughout the Middle Ages to the Prior of Wallingford, an arrangement which probably began when Wallingford became the Patron. The Pension was originally 7s but had been increased to 9s by 1535.
It was not until 1240 that the Rector of Chinnor was Granted the remaining Demesne Tithes of Henton. Aumary de Sulham gave these to the Rector, William de London, in return for certain concessions to his Chaplain. In the late 17thC the Parish was divided for the payment of Tithes into 3-Districts or Tithings, Chinnor, Oakley, & Henton, but at the time the Tithes were commuted there were only 2 Tithings, Chinnor & Henton.
Because of its wealth, Chinnor had a number of distinguished Medieval Rectors of whom many, particularly in the 14thC, were Graduates. Master Adam de Chinnor, for instance, who became Rector in the late 12thC, was a man of Property with Land in the Parish & in Oxford. He was related to the De Chinnor’s of Henton. In his later years, he served as Official to the Archdeacon of Oxford. Some later Rectors were non-Resident, especially those in the Royal Service, like William de London, the Queen’s Chaplain (1235–c.1283), who was presented by the King and was allowed to have a Vicar in the Parish, and William de Leicester (1314–c.1338), who was ‘always attendant in the King’s Service‘. It may be noted here that William de London’s influential position probably helped in the new arrangement, which was made over the Tithes of Henton and the position of the Chapel at Henton. Aumary de Sulham, Lord of Henton, agreed that the Tithes of his Demesne should be paid to Chinnor in future and that the Chaplain of his Chapel should agree before admission not to administer the Sacraments to any of the Henton Tenants. In return, the Rector permitted him to take the Offerings from Aumary’s Family, his Guests & his Free Servants and to retain the Land which he had for his support. Aumary’s Serfs & Cottagers, on the other hand, were to attend at Chinnor with their Offerings. It seems that what had begun as a Private Chapel was being turned into a Public one and that this agreement successfully safeguarded the Rights of the Rector of Chinnor. At the Archiepiscopal Visitation of 1320, the Henton Chapel was treated as the Private Oratory of the Lord & was exempted from Visitation. The Building had recently been put in order, for in 1308, probably when the Malyns Family came to Henton, 20-days’ Indulgence was Granted to those helping in its repair. The important position held by William de Leicester was also reflected in the Parish, for it was his Wealth which enabled him to build the 14thC Chancel of the Church. William’s successor, an even more influential man, was resident for a part of the year and for the rest was within easy riding distance of his Parish. He was Master John de Hotham, Provost of The Queen’s College & Chancellor of Oxford University. It is significant that he chose to be buried in his Parish Church where his Brass still is. A 15thC successor, Master Thomas Nash, may have been non-Resident for at least part of the year, as in 1437 he was given permission to Hold the 2nd Benefice, and in the 1st half of the 16thC Master John Incent (1520–45), though later distinguished as Dean of St Paul’s and an Educationalist, appears to have been both non-Resident & neglectful. It was reported in his time that the Rectory was Farmed to a Layman, no Distributions were made to the Poor and the Ceiling over the Altar was in a ruinous state.
After the Reformation Residence was generally the Rule and the Rectors were men of Wealth & some Social standing, who often also held the Advowson and on 2 occasions were Bishops of Oxford. Nathaniel Giles (Rector 1628–44), for instance, was the son of the Composer & Organist at Windsor Chapel and was himself a Canon of Windsor. The State he kept at Chinnor may be illustrated by the great size of the new Rectory he built there, with the help of his friend the Parliamentarian John Hampden. The ‘Banqueting House‘ which formed a part of it may have been used for the Easter Monday Entertainments which the Rectors were accustomed to give to all their Parishioners. The Civil War brought to an end Giles’s life at Chinnor. In 1643, according to Sir Samuel Luke, he joined the King’s Forces and in 1644 he was Sequestered from his Living by the Parliamentary Visitors. His Rectory House was ‘impaired & defaced‘, and robbed of its Lead by the Parliamentary Soldiers. Men more in sympathy with Puritan ideas were instituted to the Living. One, whose name is unknown but who may have been Henry Edes, was a friend of Thomas Ellwood, the Quaker of Crowell. Ellwood relates how, though he found Quakers hard to understand, he ‘Civilly abstained from casting any unhandsome reflections on them‘, After the Restoration, William Paul, another strong Royalist, who had been Chaplain to Charles I and had been deprived of his Livings, was instituted to Chinnor, and after becoming Bishop of Oxford was allowed to retain Chinnor and his other Rectory at the neighbouring Brightwell Baldwin in commendam, so as to assist him in the repair of Cuddesdon Palace, which had been severely damaged during the Civil War. Paul had a Curate at Chinnor and spent £100 on repairing the Rectory. The Curate, who returned 4-hearths for the Hearth Tax in 1665, was probably living in a part of it.
When Stephen Jay became Rector in 1668 the Village once more had a Resident Parson. He found the Rectory in a dilapidated state and evidently spent a good deal of money on its repair. Jay was followed as Rector by his son Charles (1690–98), and in the earlier 18thC Charles Huggins (1728–50), son of the Keeper of the Fleet Prison, was Resident for a long period. These men, however, perhaps because of their Wealth & Social Status, were unsuccessful in combating the non-conformity which had been strong in the District from early in the 17thC. Jay’s interests, moreover, seem to have lain more to Fighting Popery in the Country at large than in checking the growth of the Sectarians at Chinnor, for he wrote a Pamphlet in Defence of Shaftesbury’s Policy. Thus in 1738, when Huggins reported to the Bishop, he had to admit that though great numbers came to the Sacrament which he administered 5 times a year, no Candidates had Presented themselves for Confirmation in his large Parish. In fact, Methodism had transformed the Religious life of the Village and by 1759, when James Musgrave (1750–78), son-in-law of the Patron and also Lord of the Manor, was Rector, a 3rd of the Parish attended Methodist Meetings. The Rector attributed the increasing Dissent to ‘love of novelty‘. It certainly does not appear to have been due to gross negligence on his part, for he held 2 Services with Sermons on Sunday in order ‘to render inexcusable all Dissenters & Absenters from the Church’; he had Prayers on all Holy Days & in Passion Week; and administered the Sacrament 6 times a year. Nevertheless, he could only report a small number of Communicants, between 30 & 70 in 1771 and as few as 20 in 1774. He attributed Absence from Church to ‘a bad example set by the Higher Rank of people‘ and to ‘Irreligion among all Ranks‘. The fact that he only Catechised twice a year and had abandoned the old practice of entertaining his Parishioners on Easter Monday at the Rectory may have been contributory factors. When he became Rector it was still customary for the Parishioners on this occasion to be given bread made from 3-bushels of wheat, ¾-cwt of cheese, Ale Brewed from a sack of Malt, and ½-Gross of Pipes and 1-lb of Tobacco, the share of the Farmers & young men being in the proportion of 3 to 3 to that of the women & Poor men. Dr Musgrave transferred the Feast to the ‘Crown‘ Inn and distributed a double quantity of Liquor in compensation, but by so doing he broke the personal link with his Parishioners.
His successor, William Friend (1778–1804), left the care of his ‘Populous Parish‘ for at least 10-yrs to the Curate of Crowell, to whom he paid £40 and refused to Reside on account of his ‘other Avocations‘. Throughout most of the 19thC, the Spiritual care of the Parish continued to be neglected. The Patrons, the Musgraves, appointed members of their own Family, who mostly proved indifferent Pastors. Typical of the times was the request in 1809 to the Bishop that the Rector might be permitted to be non-Resident as he was holding the Living for the Patron’s 2nd son who was still at Christ Church. Typical, too, was the expenditure by the Patron of £2,600 on rebuilding the Parsonage. The long Incumbency of William Augustus Musgrave (1816–75) was little short of disastrous. He succeeded to the Baronetcy & the Manor and was more of a Landed Gentleman than a Parish Priest. Indeed, Bishop Wilberforce declared that he was ‘wholly irreligious‘ and attributed the evil state of the Church to his inactivity: even on Sundays, he worked in his Garden and on his Farm. The Parishioners complained of spiritual neglect and Wilberforce obliged him to employ a Curate. In 1854 the latter reported that he was holding 2 Services with Sermons on Sundays, was holding a monthly celebration of the Sacrament, and was Catechising the children weekly. Even so, Congregations remained very small, 90 in the morning and 200 in the afternoon compared with the 700 of the Dissenters. When Wilberforce visited the Church in 1855 he found it ‘sadly empty‘, though the Congregation was larger than usual.
The arrival of the able Francis Buttanshaw as Curate in 1855 brought about a change, and the restoration of the Church Building was undertaken in 1863 under his inspiration, despite the fact that the Church was ‘poor and dissenting‘ and the Church Rate was constantly opposed. On Musgrave’s death in 1875 the energetic & popular E J Howman became Rector. He improved the Church building still further, enlarged the School & erected a Reading Room. At Hempton, Wainhill & Sprigg’s Alley, 2 Mission Rooms were built in 1886 & 1889. He was a man of means and was generous to the Poor.
The Church of St Andrew is a large Building of Flint with Stone Dressings comprising a Chancel, Nave, North & South Aisles, South Porch & Western Tower. Although the present structure appears externally to be of the 14thC, there are in fact considerable remains of an earlier Church. It is evident that the Nave was rebuilt early in the 13thC, for its North & South Arcades have Cylindrical Columns & Bases of that Period. The mouldings of the Arches of the Northern Arcade are, however, earlier in character than those on the Southside. Whether or not there was a West Tower in the early 13thC is difficult to determine, as the existing Tower appears to have been begun towards the end of the Century. Its West window dates from that Period, and straight joints in its West Wall show that it was built before the Aisles assumed their present form.
Early in the 14thC the whole Church was enlarged & remodelled in the style of the Period. The Chancel was entirely rebuilt & furnished with a Piscina & Triple Sedilia; the Aisles were widened & re-windowed; the Tower was heightened; a vaulted South Porch was added. The recorded dedication of the High Altar & Chancel in 1326 probably marks the completion of the Work. It was probably sometime later in the Century that a Clerestory was formed over the Nave and a low-pitched Roof with Parapets took the place of the high-pitched 13thC Roof whose weathering on the East face of the Rower can be seen in Buckler’s View of 1822.
No further Structural changes appear to have taken place until the 17thC when the Roof of the Chancel was lowered. The Inscription ‘1633 Natha. Gy Pastor et Patronus‘ was carved on one of the Beams. The Nave Roof was renewed in 1658–59 when a special Rate was raised for the purpose. In the next Century, growing Population led to the erection of a Gallery in the Tower Arch in 1729. Compared with many neighbouring Churches the building seems to have been in fairly good order in 1759, for only minor repairs were ordered by the Archdeacon. The North Door was to be mended, the Belfry Door renewed or thoroughly repaired, the Floor was to be levelled & the Seats repaired. Some minor repairs were carried out in the South Aisle in 1809, in the Chancel in 1832, and in the North Aisle in 1854, but in general, the Fabric was neglected until 1863. The cumulative effect of this neglect was described by the Curate, Francis Buttanshaw, in a detailed Account of the state of the Fabric before the restoration of 1863. The Exterior was covered with rough-cast, rubble blocked several windows; parts of the Tower were repaired with Red Brick; a slightly embattled Brick Parapet surrounded the Top of the Tower, the Chancel & the Aisles; the Stone Mullions of the Clerestory windows on the South side had been replaced by wooden Frames. The appearance of the inside of the Church was spoilt as the upper parts of the East window and the Chancel Arch were cut off by the Flat Ceilings. The Labels of many windows were mutilated; the Pews were in ‘every degree of dirt & dilapidation‘; Pillars & Arches were thickly whitewashed and the Walls decorated with Painted Texts. Some years later the Church was reported to have been for the last 20-yrs in worse repair than any in the Diocese.
In 1858 the Rector, the Rev Sir William Musgrave, agreed to pay for the proposed repairs to the Chancel, having long refused to do so, and Funds were obtained for a general restoration from the principal Landowners, and from the Diocesan Building Society. The Architect was E Banks of Wolverhampton, but his Plans were modified by G E Street & J H Parker. The Builder was Cooper of Aylesbury. Work was begun in 1863 and was completed in 1866 at a total cost of £3,000. It included enlarging & raising the Level of the Chancel above that of the Nave and restoring the high-pitched Roof of the Nave. The Chancel was relaid with Minton Tiles and new Stalls were erected. The Body of the Church was reseated, and such Medieval Tiles as were not too worn were assembled & relaid. They can now be seen in the Nave. The Ancient Painted Glass was so skilfully restored by Clayton & Bell that it is difficult to tell what is Medieval & what is 19thC. A new East window of Painted Glass by Clayton & Bell was inserted at the expense of J S Turner and the Rev Sir William Musgrave. The 14thC Font & the Oak-panelled Pulpit & Sounding Board were replaced by a new Font & Pulpit of Caen Stone. The 18thC Oil Paintings of Christ, the 4-Evangelists & the Disciples, that adorned the Chancel, were cleaned & re-backed & removed to the Nave. These were said at the end of the 19thC to be the work of Sir John Thornhill and may have been presented by James Musgrave.
The Chancel was refurbished. The Altar Cloth by Jones & Willis, and other Furniture for the Sanctuary were the Gifts of the Rector & several friends of the Church. An Organ seems to have been installed about 1859 and was not replaced until 1909. Two years later Oak Panelling, designed by H Read of Exeter, was installed in the Chancel at the cost of Miss Howman in Memory of her Father, late Rector. In the North & South Aisles windows of Painted Glass by William Aiken have been erected to Leonard Baldwyn (Rector 1902–34); to W E Benton (d.1940); to 3-Airmen Killed in 1941; to Capt C G P Cuthbert, Killed in Tunisia, 1943, and to Elizabeth Anne Benton (d.1947).
In 1930 a Faculty was obtained to fit up the Side Chapel of the South Aisle; between 1934 & 1937 a new Vestry & Choir Stalls were installed at the expense of W E Benton, and the 14thC Font was dug up & restored to the Church. In 1940 a Clock was placed in the Tower. In 1951 and again in 1957 extensive repairs to the Woodwork were carried out after the ravages of the death-watch beetle. In 1957 the Walls were also Lime-washed and much of the 19thC pitch-pine furniture was removed. St Andrew’s was restored in 1863-66. The plans were by the Architect Edward Banks of Wolverhampton but were modified by the Oxford Diocesan architect G E Street & the Oxford Architectural Writer & Publisher J H Parker.
The Church is notable for the early-14thC Rood-Screen which separates the Chancel from the Nave. It is pierced with Geometrical Tracery springing from turned Wooden Shafts on moulded Bases. Though it has lost its Loft and was reduced in height in 1866, it retains its original Wrought-Iron Hinges. A Piscina in the Wall of the Nave on the Southside of the Screen probably marks the position of a former Altar beneath the Rood-Loft. In 1660 the Restoration was marked by the erection above the Chancel Screen of the Royal Arms of Charles II, painted by William Goldfinch of Chinnor for £2-15s and of a Partition to separate the Chancel from the Nave. The Screen was made by a local Carpenter and was no doubt the ‘Jacobean‘ one that was removed in 1863. In 1661 the Communion Table was provided with a Carpet at a cost of £3-17s. The Carved Jacobean Panelling, apparently brought from some demolished House, which was in the Church in 1874, may also have been installed at this time. Some early-15thC Glass survives in the Chancel. At some time it had been used to Glaze the East window, but in 1866 it was replaced in the North & South windows to which it evidently belonged. It includes Figures of St Laurence, St Alban, a Bishop & an Archbishop. The East window of the North Aisle contains fragments of Medieval Glass depicting Christ in Majesty & 2 Angels censing. Some Heraldic Glass, including the Arms of Zouche, Sapey & Malyns, was seen by Anthony Wood in the 17thC. Only the Shield of Zouche remains.
There is one Medieval Monument, the recumbent Effigy of a cross-legged Knight, clad in Mail & Jupon, and dating from about 1270. It stood originally at the West end of the South Aisle but is now at the East-end of the Aisle.
There are some Medieval Brasses which were removed from their Slabs in 1866 and subsequently fixed to the Walls of the Chancel. The earliest bears the Head of a Priest within a Foliated Cross; it commemorates William de Leicester (Rector 1314–c.1338), who rebuilt the Chancel. Others are to 2 Rectors, Master John de Hotham (d.1351), represented in Academic Dress & Alexander Chelseye (d.1388). All were originally laid in the Chancel. At the East-end of the Nave were the late-14thC Brasses of the Malyns Family: Effigies of Reynald de Malyns (undated) in Armour, and his 2 wives; demi-Effigies of Sir Esmond de Malyns (undated) and his wife Isabel; an inscription to Adam Ramsey (c.1400), the 2nd husband of Isabel de Malyns; and the Figure in Armour with Arms to John Cray (d.1392), Esquire to Richard II, who was perhaps related. There are 15thC Brasses to Robert atte Heelde and his wife Katherine; to their son Nicholas atte Heelde; and a 3rd to Reynald Malyns (d.1430/1). There is also an inscription, now undated, to John Cristemas (c.1400). There is one 16thC Brass to Folke Poffe (d.1514) and one of his wives, which was moved from the Vestry in 1935. A wall Tablet to William Turner (d.1797) is the only post-Reformation Memorial before the end of the 19thC apart from a number of Ledger Stones. Later Brasses are to Henry Douglas (d.1899), Churchwarden, and his wife Ann; to Lt Donald Coker Beck (Killed 1916); and to Gunner G T North (Killed 1917). Inset – Medieval Brass in Chinnor Church with Bullet Holes: during the lead up to the Battle of Chalgrove 18th June 1643 in the English Civil War
Both the Chancel & the Nave were once Paved with Medieval Figured Tiles. Many of these were destroyed at the Restoration of 1863, but some were relaid. Others of the late-15thC date were discovered in the Nave in 1957.
Only one Silver Chalice, 4 Bells & a Sanctus Bell were recorded in 1558. A large Silver Paten, dated 1761, engraved with the Arms of Musgrave & Huggins, was later given by the Rector James Musgrave and his wife, a daughter of a former Lord of the Manor, William Huggins. In 1958 there was a Ring of 6-Bells and a Sanctus Bell. Two of these were re-Cast in 1864 from the former Tenor Bell of 1651; the present Tenor is a comparatively rare specimen of the work of William Knight of about 1586; and 3 others, dated 1620, 1635 & 1663, were made by other members of the Knight Family.
The Registers begin in 1581 for Baptisms (with a gap 1609–21) and in 1622 for Marriages & Burials. There are some 17thC Churchwardens’ Accounts.
In the late 16th & early 17thCs, the Harper Family was outstanding for its Recusancy, 4 women members being returned as Recusants between 1577 & 1604. In 1604 a Chinnor Gentleman & a Yeoman were also listed. In 1717 Roboaldo Fieschi, a Roman Catholic of London & his step-sisters held a small Estate in Chinnor, which he may have visited. In 1759 the Rector reported one Papist and some years later Chinnor was among the Villages served from the Roman Catholic Centre at Britwell Prior. In 1780, however, the Parson said that Popery was unknown in the Parish.
Early Records of Protestant Nonconformity in Chinnor are meagre. Thomas Ellwood of Crowell, the Quaker, relates how a Bucks Quaker testified after a Service in Chinnor Church and was brought before Ellwood’s father, who was a Magistrate. He was dismissed because he had behaved himself ‘peaceably & quietly’ & ‘without passion or ill language‘. Soon after, the son of Dr Dove of Chinnor was sufficiently curious about the Quakers to attend a London Quaker Meeting in 1662. In 1676 the Compton Census recorded 2 Nonconformists and at Bishop Fell’s Visitation in about 1685 2 Quakers were reported.
18thC Visitation Returns mention a number of Anabaptists: in 1732 Richard King’s house was Licensed for Baptist Worship and there were 6 Anabaptists in 1759 & 1768, who were attending a Meeting-house at Princes Risborough. More important was the growth of what later became Congregationalism: large Meetings were held in the Bakehouse in the Village which were visited by Travelling Preachers, including John Cennick ‘the Apostle of Wiltshire‘ & George Whitefield. In 1759 the Rector also reported that a 3rd of the Parish was ‘Methodist‘ and that there were Services at 2 Meeting-Houses. One was in the House of Harrington Eustace, and was Licensed in 1753, Eustace was a Schoolmaster in the Village, and originally a Persecutor of the Nonconformists, but later one of their most ardent Leaders. The other Meeting was served by one Bidwell, a Preacher from High Wycombe. In 1778 the Rector reported that Methodists were very numerous and were increasing; they had a Meeting which they pretended was Licensed; their Preacher, named Oates, pretended to be in Orders & ‘wears the Habit‘. Although there was some decline in numbers in the latter part of the Century Nonconformists still made up a quarter of the Parish in 1784.
The Congregationalists failed to acquire a permanent Site for their Meeting until 1805 when through the exertions of Joseph Paul, a Private Schoolmaster, a ‘small neat‘ Chapel was built. Paul acted as Minister and ‘laboured‘ both in Chinnor & other Villages with such success that in 1811 Chinnor Chapel had to be enlarged. It was apparently not Licensed until 1823. Towards the end of Paul’s Pastorate differences arose with some influential members of his Congregation, including William Allnutt & Thomas Keen, both Farmers & William Wiffen, Paul’s Assistant in the Chinnor School & from 1821 Minister at Thame. A rival Chapel was opened in 1826. The Schism was probably healed under Paul’s popular successor Samuel Allen, who was at Chinnor from 1828 until 1833, and as a youth had unsuccessfully applied for admission to the Countess of Huntingdon’s College. In the time of James Rutherford, who followed him in 1839, the 2nd Chapel became the Manse. The signatures to the Deed recording the reassignment of the Lease throw light on the composition of the Congregation: they include 2 Allnutts, one a Farmer & the other a Grocer, a Blacksmith, a Shopkeeper & a Farmer from Henton, a Basket-maker & a Chair-turner. Rutherford found his Flock had been greatly diminished by the departure of many influential Families & the death of many Members from an outbreak of ‘pestilential fever‘. He wrote in 1841 that ‘Calamity followed Calamity and we trembled for the Ark of God‘; nevertheless, his Congregation numbered 166 with 200 children in the Sunday School. The Chapel was Licensed for Marriages in 1837 and was an original Member Church of the Association of Independent Churches in Oxfordshire & Berkshire, formed in 1840. Rutherford’s successor, Joseph Mason (1844–62), also had a ‘Memorable‘ Ministry, and in 1855 one of the Chief Tenant Farmers reported to Bishop Wilberforce that all the Religious Poor were Dissenters. By that time besides the Congregational Chapel there was a Primitive Methodist one, and Dissent was strong in Chinnor’s Hamlets, especially Henton. Between 1814 & 1840 5-Houses were Licensed there for Dissenting Worship. In 1828 a House had been Licensed in the Crowell part of Sprigg’s Alley, which Chinnor people also no doubt used, and in 1840 one was Licensed at Oakley. This was probably the small Wesleyan Chapel mentioned in 1854.
In the 2nd half of the Century, Dissent continued to flourish. In 1864 during the Pastorate of Edwin Green (1862-68), there was a project to build a new Congregational Chapel, but there was difficulty in securing Land and the old Chapel was restored instead at a cost of £500. In 1879 Out-stations were formally set up at Henton & Oakley; in 1884 a Schoolroom was built on Land adjoining Chinnor Chapel and in 1888 the Chapel itself was reseated & restored. This was a very prosperous period for Chinnor Congregationalists: 3-yrs later they reported that there were nearly 100 persons on the Church Roll and attendance of from 225 to 318 persons, with 9-Lay Preachers. They had a Mutual Improvement Society, a Band of Hope, Dorcas & Samaritan Societies, together with a growing Sunday School. Their influence in the Parish moreover was out of proportion to their numbers; in 1895 out of 12 Parish Councillors 11 were Nonconformists, although they claimed to have Congregations amounting at most to just over a quarter of the Population. In 1903 numbers were reported to be decreasing owing to ‘deaths & removals, the influence of Public Houses, Sunday desecration and want of greater spiritual life’. Encouragement was given in 1932 by Thomas Bishop Allnutt of Basingstoke, who left £1,000 to the Berks, South Oxon & South Bucks Congregational Union. Ten pounds of the income from this was for the use of Chinnor Congregational Sunday School and the residue was to augment the Minister’s Stipend. In 1953 the Chapel, Schoolroom & Manse were vested in the Union.
Methodism made no headway until the mid-19thC. In 1854 the Rector reported the existence of a Primitive Methodist Chapel; it had probably been built in the 1840‘s. In 1871 the Trustees, who included a Chinnor Grocer & 3 Chair-turners, 3 Stokenchurch Chair-turners, a Carpenter & a Labourer from Aston Rowant, bought Land for a new Chapel. This had been built by 1874, when it was Registered for Worship. It was served by a Resident Minister from at least 1887 until 1920, but the Manse has since been sold. In 1931 it was Registered for Marriages. In 1958 the Chapel had an active Membership of 9 and was visited by the Minister from Watlington.