Radnage Parish

Radnage Church by John Piper

Radnage: Radenach, Radenai, Radenhach (12thC); Radenache (13thC); Radenhag, Radnashe, Radnage (16thC onwards)- meant ‘Red Oak’ in Old English
Radnage is a Border Parish of 1,368 acres, of which 903 are Arable & 250 permanent Grass.  The Soil is Chalky with a Subsoil of light Loam & Clay. The crops produced are Arable.

The Parish is well Wooded, containing 52 acres; Ballards & Mead or Shaw are the principal Woods. The latter name recalls Richard Mead, who in 1654 obtained the reversion of Leighton Manor, to which Radnage was attached.  Radnage, though itself in parts more than 600-ft above the Ordnance Datum, is surrounded and sheltered by the heights of the Chilterns. Langley remarks on the extreme salubrity of the Air and consequent longevity of the Inhabitants, and is corroborated by Sheahan.  The Village, which contains a few houses of the 16th & 17thCs, lies high in the North-west of the Parish. The Church stands to the North of the Village in a well-wooded Churchyard with the Rectory, a Red Brick House, to the West of it. An old Well here bears the name of the Monks’ Well. The houses collected in the south of the Village, amongst them a Timber & Brick 17thC Cottage, are known as Town End, a name of some Antiquity. Bennett End comprises an Inn and a few houses, some of them of Brick & Timber with Tiled or Thatched Roofs of the 17thC, and The City, the highest Ground in the Parish, where are a Mission Chapel & Schools and some 17thC Brick & Timber Cottages. Radnage Common is south of The City and includes Pond Farm, over 300 acres in extent, with a good House, and Ashridge Farm, a 17thC Timber & Brick House, in the Parlour of which is an open Fireplace with Chimney corner seats. Andridge Common with a Farm of the same name is in the North-west. Just below the Common is the Grange Farm with a large & ancient Farm-house. Both these Commons were Inclosed in 1860. Radnage House, the principal House in the Parish, belongs to Mr Bennett and is at present occupied by him.

The Inhabitants of this Parish were mainly engaged in Agriculture, but Chairmaking was also carried on. Until recently Lace-making by hand was a further Industry.

There were 2 small Primitive Methodist Chapels in the Parish.

No mention has been found in Domesday of Radnage, which at that date appears, according to a 13thC document, to have been Royal Demesne attached to the Manor of Brill.  Early in the 12thC Radnage was divided, and the smaller part was Granted by Henry I to Fontevrault Abbey and will be examined later. The larger portion, afterwards known as Radnage Manor, was retained by the Crown for some years longer and was made the subject of temporary Grants. Under Henry II Walter son of Ernald is Returned for £10 in Radnage  Between the years 1200 & 1207 the name of Godfrey de Luvem appears as paying £40 in Radnage.  A few years later in 1215 King John Granted Radnage to the Knights Templars,  and at various times during the next 5-yrs the Sheriff of the County is commanded to give them Seisin.  The Templars received a Confirmation in 1227  & in 1275/6 claimed View of Frankpledge here.  On the suppression of the Templars at the beginning of the 14thC the Hospitallers here, as elsewhere, acquired their Lands, for which they were assessed in 1316.  The Rents derived from the Manor about this time were 10-Marks.  One mention only of this Manor has been found in the Cartulary of the Hospitallers, and that is the Election in 1522 of Andrew & Edmund Windsor as Stewards of the Manors of ‘Radnache,’ Temple Wycombe & Marlow at a Salary of 26s-8d.  At the Dissolution this Manor fell to the Crown.  The Manor was heavily Mortgaged by Charles I in the 1st-yr of his Reign to Edward Allen & other Citizens of London.  Langley, writing at the close of the 18thC, says that Charles II gave the Quitrent to one of his Mistresses, who afterwards sold it to the Family of Chase.  Stephen Chase certainly owned Rents issuing from the Manor in 1758, and Frances Hearne Bettesworth, Spinster, appears as Vouchee for the same interest in a recovery of 1808.  The Lordship of the Manor, of which the Lands are all Freehold, still remains Vested in the Crown.

The Nuns of Fontevrault Abbey appear to have received a Grant of £4 rent in Radnage at the same time as they received from Henry I the more important Property in Leighton, Beds, to which this Property was attached.  The 1st mention of the Nuns Holding in Radnage is found on the early Pipe Rolls of Henry II.   In 1164 he confirmed to them the Grant of £4 from the Manor of Radnage, which Grant is also mentioned in the Charter of Richard I of 1189 to the Nuns.  In 1200 a further confirmation was received by the Abbey.  

Grovebury Priory Leighton Buzzard c.1812

Shortly previous to this last date a Cell of Fontevrault, known as La Grove or Grovebury (Priory), had been founded at Leighton (Buzzard) itself,  and in 1228 the Prior there claimed Customary Services from Ralph de Radenache & others.  View of Frankpledge was claimed here in 1254 and again in 1275 on behalf of Fontevrault, though on what Warrant was not known.  In 1285 the View for Radnage was held at Leighton
Excavations at La Grove Leighton Buzzard revealed much rebuilding at the Site in the 14thC including Tile Ovens, Timber Buildings, Drains and a rectangular Well relating to a cobbled Courtyard subdivided into terraced Yards. The Bailiff’s accounts mentioned above record a Pigeoncote, also identified by excavation, 2 new Farm Buildings, a Cow House and “Hakhous” which were built of wattle, daub &hatch. A stable, dairy and grain barn are also mentioned.
In 1344 during the 100 yrs War with France the Abbess of Fontevrault obtained a confirmation of her Lands here & elsewhere.  On the Dissolution of the Alien Priories in England, Radnage, which now begins to be called a Manor, was Granted to Sir John Philip in 1413,  by whom it was settled on himself & his wife Alice daughter of Thomas Chaucer, son of the Poet & their Issue.  Sir John Philip died childless in 1415,  and his Widow Alice married William de la Pole Duke of Suffolk.  In 1444 she and her 2nd husband Granted the reversion of Radnage to Eton College with the consent of William brother & heir of her 1st husband John Philip.  Between this date & 1472 it passed, together with Grovebury, through a Series of temporary Alienations. It was then finally confirmed to Alice & her heirs by a Grant from the Crown  and on her death in 1475 descended to her son John Duke of Suffolk.  In 1480 he, together with his wife Elizabeth sister of Edward IV, received Licence to Grant it to the Dean & Canons of Windsor,  who retained it till the 19thC. As with Leighton it was the custom of the Dean & Canons to let this Property on Long Leases, and during the 17th & 18thCs it was held thus by several Generations of the Family of Leigh of Stoneleigh, Warks.  During the last Century it passed to Colonel Fane, whose representative, Major John Augustus Fane of Wormsley in Stokenchurch, is at the present day one of the principal Landowners in this Parish.

A View of Frankpledge was attached to the Manor held by the Knights Hospitallers in Radnage & Court Rolls of the time of Edward VI are still in existence. At a Court held here in 1549 the Tenants of the Manor claimed right of Common in ‘Croull Wodd‘ (Crowell Wood). At the same Court the Village Constable was Elected and William Wheler was Fined 2s because ‘two swarme beis came into the Demesne’ of the Lord. The Family of Este or East of Radnage is returned in the Herald’s Visitation of the 16thC.  They appear to have held Land in Radnage about this date.

St Mary the Virgin c.1912

St Mary the Virgin Church
The Church consists of a Chancel measuring internally 21ft x 15ft, Central Tower 9ft-6ins. square, Nave 43ft x 16ft., and a South Porch.

The Building, which is of unusual Plan, the Central Tower being narrower than either the Chancel or Nave, dates from the opening years of the 13thC, at which time the Nave was considerably shorter than at present. The Nave was lengthened & re-Roofed in the 15thC, when the height of the Walls was raised and the South Porch added. During the 16thC the Walls of the Chancel were raised and a new Roof added; the Tower was restored in the 17thC and there has been a recent restoration. The materials are Flint Rubble with Limestone Dressings, and the Roofs are covered with Lead. The Chancel has a triplet of original Lancets in the East wall. In the South wall are 2-14thC windows each of 2 cinquefoiled lights with Tracery under a pointed Head and in the North Wall are 2 similar windows, but the lower part of the Eastern window has been built up. In the South Wall is a 13thC Piscina with a shouldered Head, the Bowl of which has gone and one of the Jambs has been cut away, and on the East Wall is a Stone bracket, intended, perhaps, to support a Reredos. The Central Tower has an original 2-centred Arch to the Chancel, with plain square edges broken at the springing by moulded Abaci, and a similar Arch opening into the Nave. The Jambs of both Arches show pin holes for Screens, and the Base & Impost mouldings have been cut for their fixing. There is a blocked Lancet window on the North and another on the South placed high in the Wall; below the latter is an original round-headed Doorway with a window in it, both of which are blocked. On each side of the Belfry is a plain pointed window partly blocked, that on the North being of Brick.

The Nave is lighted by 2 windows in the South wall, one near the East end of the North Wall, and one in the West Wall; all 14thC windows of 2-lights and similar to those in the Chancel. The extent of the lengthening disclosed during a recent restoration appears to be about a 3rd of the present length. The South Doorway, between the windows, is of original date and has a plain 2-centred Arch with a Roll Label and chamfered Jambs & Abaci; the blocked North Doorway opposite is also original, but quite plain.

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The Nave has a fine late 15thC roof with moulded Trusses, Ridges & Purlins. The Tie-Beams are Embattled and supported on curved Brackets with Traceried Spandrels, and the triangular spaces above the Tie-Beams are also filled with Tracery between the Purlins.

St Mary’s Chancel

The Chancel has a low-pitched Roof of the 16thC, the moulded Trusses of which are supported on Curved Brackets. The Porch, which retains its original moulded Roof, is entered by a 15thC 4-centred Arch and has an original trefoiled Light in each of the East & West Walls. The Font is probably of the 17thC; it is now covered with Plaster and Paint and has a cover with a Strap Hinge. The hexagonal panelled Pulpit, supported on a turned Shaft, dates from the late 17thC. On the North & East walls of the Nave and on the Walls & Window Jambs of the Tower are traces of early Painting.

On the North wall of the Chancel there is a Brass to William Syer, Rector, who died in 1605, and on the south wall of the nave is a brass to William Este, 1534, Sybil his wife, and their 4 daughters & 8 sons. At the East end of the Nave, partly below some Pews, there is a Slab with indent for a Brass. In the Chancel is a Floor Slab to Ann daughter of Thomas Colby, who died in 1640.
There are 4-Bells; the Treble by Lester & Pack of London, 1763, the 2nd, 1634, & Tenor, 1637, by Ellis Knight & the 3rd, 1729, by Richard Phelps.
The Communion Plate includes a Cup & Cover Paten of 1577.
The Registers begin in 1574.

The Church of Radnage appears to have been Granted with the Manor to the Knights Templars, whose Master Presented in 1231. Like the Manor it subsequently passed to the Hospitallers and at the Dissolution became Crown Property, and has so remained, the right of Presentation being exercised by the Lord Chancellor. In 1291 the church was assessed at £6-13s-4d. and in the 16thC the Rectory was valued at £8-0s-0¾d. The annual Pensions then included one of 13s-4d. to the Master of the Knights Hospitallers.
The Poor’s Land, which was the subject of an Inquisition of Charitable uses held in 1632, is regulated by a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 16th November 1869. The Trust Estate consists of 25 acres or thereabouts in Radnage, 5 acres in Kingsey & 3 Cottages with Gardens of the annual rental value of £44. By an order of the Charity Commissioners 1904 1/3rd of the net Income is made applicable for Educational purposes as the Poor’s Land Educational Foundation and is applied towards the maintenance of the Parish School. The remainder of the Income is applied equally between the Parish Church and the Poor in Clothing & Coal.

Old Rectory Church Lane Radnage

Old Rectory House. Early-mid 18thC with late 18thC Segmental Bay to left, the right End rebuilt 20thC. 19thC Extensions to Rear. 2 original Centre Bays are of Red & Vitreous Brick with Flint Plinth and later Dentil Eaves. Right Bays rebuilt to match. Late 18thC Bay is of alternate Red & Vitreous Headers with gauged 1st-Floor Band Course, narrow Dentil Cornice, and Parapet with Stone Coping. Rear extensions are of Flint & Brick. Old Tile Roofs. Late 18thC Bay is of 2 Tall Storeys, each having 3 Sash windows with fine gauged Heads, the Ground-floor Sashes taller than those above. 4-Bays to right are of 2-Storeys and an Attic with Sash windows to Main Floors and 20thC 2-light Dormers. Sashes have repaired gauged Heads. 20thC Conservatory in rear angle.

Interior: has late 18thC Staircase with moulded Handrail & stick Balusters. Late 18thC plaster Ceiling Cornices; reproduction Panelling in central Ground Floor Room.

Radnage Bowl

Made from a mixture of translucent dark Blue & opaque White Glass, the Bowl’s exterior is characterised by a series of raised Ribs, radiating out from its Base. The Marbling seen in photos was created by heating & fusing together many small fragments of Blue & White glass into a single Disc. When still hot, this was draped over a mould in the shape of the Bowl’s interior, after which the Ribs were expertly created by Pinching its outer Surface. The result is a dazzling work of Art, as remarkable now as the day it was created. It was probably made in Northern Italy in the middle of the 1st Century AD – more or less contemporary with the Roman Invasion of Britain.

The Bowl gains extra significance when one considers that, to the Indigenous British, it would have been entirely exotic & alien in its material, its form and its colour. It was a symbol of the massive Technological & Cultural change that the arrival of the urbanised, centralised and highly efficient Roman State and Military Machine represented. Up to this point Bucks had fallen within the Territory of the Iron Age Catuvellauni Tribe. The local Populations were still building in Wood, living in isolated, fortified Farmsteads and relying on an economy of subsistence Farming. The arrival of the Romans – with Stone Architecture, Cities, Roads & Writing – is a scale of change comparable to that which, some 1500-yrs later, sub-Saharan Africa experienced when the Ships of the European Powers Landed on their Shores. Our understanding of the effects that the Romans had on Bucks itself is characterised largely by a number of Villa Sites – each the centre of a large Agricultural Estate – spread across the County. There were few larger Settlements and little Sign of Military activity. Then, as today, this was a largely Rural Region crossed by key Communication Routes leading from the Port Cities of the South to the strategic centres of the North. The only significant Roman Town within the Boundaries of the modern County of Bucks today was Magiovinium, on the Fringes of modern Fenny Stratford (Watling Street). So why was such an exceptional object buried in such an apparently remote spot? Radnage is as far away from the Roman Road Network as it is possible to get in the County. Clues are to be found in some of the other objects that were dug up with the Bowl: an amber-coloured Glass Jug, again of the highest quality; 9-dishes of burnished Red Samian Crockery; and, most significantly, the remains of a wooden Chest containing burnt Bones. What the workman had found was the grave of someone of considerable wealth, who appears to have died in Bucks in the early years of Roman Rule.

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One of the most attractive specimens to be found i n Britain is a pillar-moulded bowl, from Radnage in Bucks, which was found in a cemetery. It is made of blue & white “murrine” glass , and it can be seen in the British Museum.
3 Pigeons Pub Radnage

1881/Rebecca Stone/Inn Keeper, Widow
1881/Leande Stone/Daughter
1881/Thomas Stone/Son, Chair Maker
1881/George Stone/Son, Chair Maker
1881/John Stone/Son, Chair Maker
1881/Harry Stone/Son, Chair Maker

The Radnage Firemen were men who worked during the day and were in the Fire Service out of work hours. They manned the Fire Hut which was a Wooden Hut. It was equipped with Bunks and a Primus Stove to make tea-I think the War was won on tea! The Firemen were on a rota to man the Hut each night —but when there was an Alert they all turned out. The Equipment, pulled by Mr J Rowntree’s Car, was a Trailer with Ladders and a Coventry Climax Godiva Pump. My dad, Bill Barrett, was an Engineer so he was in charge of the Pump which was a little temperamental at times. As part timers they were responsible for the First-aid at local Fires and when the Blitz was at its height they would be ready to stand in if needed for Stokenchurch , who were an actual Fire Station with a proper Tender, when they went to Wycombe as the Wycombe Firemen were sent to London. The Members of the Fire Service were all men who worked Full-time during the day. They worked in all sorts of jobs which the Government considered to be of National importance, these were called Reserved Occupations. Several of the men worked on the Farms. One was a Forester, Wood was urgently needed, several worked in Factories in Wycombe, one or 2 ran their own Businesses, some were too old for Active Service and some may have been Classed as not Fit enough. The photo were taken outside The Three Pigeons Pub. Now a Private House. I think that this was the Fire Service Pub, while the Home Guard used The Crown. The personnel are
Front Row kneeling from left: Steve Norcott (factory worker), Bill Barrett (Engineer), Mr Dorset (Farmworker).
Middle Row: Aubrey Tapping (Chairmaker), Joseph Rowntree (Factory Owner), Ted White in the Gas outfit (Publican of The Three Pigeons), Harry Holland (Builder and Smallholder)
Back Row: Alan Simmonds (Carrier), Arch Sears (Forester), Mr Hutton (Artist)
The Fire Service drilled on Sunday morning near the Chapel, which kids loved as they watched before going to Sunday School. At the end of the war they were disbanded and for many years the old Fire Hut was used as a Garage,

The Wards Radnage

House. 17thC, altered. Timber-frame with whitewashed Brick Infill, partly Herringbone; end Walls rebuilt in whitewashed Brick. Half- hipped old Tile Roof. Whitewashed Brick Chimneys to left & centre Front. 2-Storeys & Attic, 3 Main Bays. Irregular wooden Casements: 4 x 2-light to 1st-Floor, the left old & part Leaded; one 2-light, 2 single lights and one Leaded Casement to Ground Floor. 2 hipped Dormers with paired Wooden Casements; other Attic windows in small Roof Spur behind Central Chimney. Flush-panelled Door with 20thC Gabled Timber Porch in left Bay. 20thC extensions set back to right.

Bennett End Farm Radnage
3 Horshoes Bennett End
Blacksmith Arms -Bottom Road now a Private House – Formerly Wethereds, Marlow Brewery.
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