Great Haseley was a large and well-endowed Parish, which for part of the Medieval Period had outlying chapels at Little Haseley, Latchford, & Rycote. The Living (a Rectory) regularly attracted prominent careerists, day-to-day Pastoral care devolving primarily on hired Chaplains or Curates, and from 1708 to 1840 the Rectory was formally annexed to the Deanery of Windsor, successive Deans becoming Rectors of Great Haseley ex officio. Catholic recusancy continued for some decades after the Reformation, particularly amongst local Landholding Families, and on a smaller scale persisted considerably later. Protestant Nonconformity surfaced briefly in the 17th century and was revived in the 19thC, when a Congregationalist Chapel was built in Great Haseley Village. From 1965 the benefice was held with neighbouring Parishes, and in 1988 it was incorporated into a benefice based at Great Milton. The Medieval Chapel at Rycote survived throughout, but from the 16th century and probably earlier was exclusively a private chapel with no parochial functions.
Church Origins, Parochial Organisations & Chapels
The Parish’s absorption of Little Haseley, Latchford, & Rycote suggests that Great Haseley Church was founded relatively early, probably by the 11th or 12th century. By the early 13thC it was fully independent and in the Patronage of the Lord of the Manor, whose predecessors were probably responsible for its Foundation. Reference to a ‘Dean of Haseley’ in the 1230s–40s may indicate that it once formed the centre of a rural Deanery, although by 1254 it was included in the Rural Deanery of Cuddesdon. A Vicarage was briefly ordained c.1217 when the Rector was in Minor Orders, but in 1244 it was reconsolidated, and the Benefice remained a Rectory, which from 1708 to 1840 was annexed to the Deanery of St Georges Chapel, Windsor, to augment the Dean’s income. The Parish was served during that period by stipendiary Curates. The Church was dedicated by the 16th century to St Peter & St Paul, and later to St Peter alone.
Outlying Chapels existed by c.1217, though their status and whereabouts are unclear. A Chapel belonging to the Lord of Little Haseley was mentioned in 1279 when the Rector held 40a of land there in return for providing a Chaplain to hold Services 3 days a week. Possibly that was a Private Chapel which had taken on Parochial Functions, but no later references have been found and the Chapel had probably disappeared by 1452 when Drew Barentin received permission for a Portable Altar. At Latchford, a Chapel dedicated to the Virgin was built or rebuilt c.1293–1300 by Henry Fitz Nigel (Rector 1274–1305), who gave Thame Abbey 38a of land there in return for supplying a Monk or Chaplain to perform daily masses in perpetuity. In 1348 the masses were said to be for the benefit of the Souls of the Earl of Cornwall & Hugh Despenser; the same year, however, the ‘Community’ of Latchford complained to Parliament that the Abbot had allowed the Chapel to fall down and had concealed the Charters, suggesting that it, too, had fulfilled a wider Parochial role.
At Rycote, a possibly Private Chapel with Baptismal Rights existed by 1295, when the Lord’s son Fulk (VI) of Rycote was baptised there. Whether it continued in use is unclear, and c.1449 it was succeeded by a free-standing Chapel next to Rycote House, built on a lavish scale by Richard Quatremain (d.1477) and his wife Sybil. That, too, seems to have intermittently combined Private, Chantry, and Parochial functions. A Chantry there for the benefit of the Quatremains and of the King & Queen was endowed with an Oxfordshire and a Cambridgeshire Manor in 1473, and Chantry Priests were mentioned periodically until the Reformation. In 1469, however, the Chapel was said to be annexed to Great Haseley Church, and the Quatremains’ remaining tenants possibly attended mass there alongside the Lord’s Household. After the Reformation, the Chantry endowments were acquired by Sir John Williams, who in 1550 undertook to provide a Chaplain to perform services and administer the Sacraments to Rycote’s Inhabitants, with Williams and his successors paying a £6 stipend. Whether the arrangement came into force is unknown, and by the 17th century, the building was a Private Chapel of the Lords of Rycote, of whom several were buried there. The dedication to St Michael was established by 1473.
The Boundaries of the Ecclesiastical Parish remained unchanged until 1943 when Upper & Lower Standhill were transferred from Pyrton Parish under an earlier order. In 1964 the Benefice was united with Albury, Tiddington, & Waterstock, but was separated in 1988 and joined with Great & Little Milton.
The Advowson belonged to Great Haseley Manor by 1222 and probably from the Church’s Foundation. In 1360 the Black Prince Presented whilst holding the Manor in Wardship, and in 1400 (when the Advowson was held by Anne, Countess of Stafford) it was valued at £40 a year. In 1478 the Advowson was given with the Manor to the Dean & Canons of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, who Presented most subsequent Rectors. Sometimes they Granted the Patronage to Laymen for a single turn, and the Crown occasionally intervened: Henry VIII Presented in 1542 following the previous incumbent’s Attainder, while in 1660 Charles II unsuccessfully attempted to present a Loyalist exiled during the Interregnum. Charles and his successors also supported the proposal to annex the Rectory to the Deanery of Windsor. In 2015 the Dean & Canons remained Joint Patron of the United Benefice.
Glebe & Tithes
Great Haseley was a well endowed & wealthy Church. In 1279 the Glebe included a hide of Land in Great Haseley, perhaps given at the Church’s Foundation; more recent gifts included the 40a in Little Haseley and a House in the same Township which funded a ‘lamplight’ in the Parish Church. The Rector also held a Yardland in Rycote, 2a in Great Haseley as a Subtenant, and 6a in Latchford given by one of the Pipards and by another Landholder, all or most of the Land apparently held as Church Endowments rather than in a Private capacity. The Vicarage in force c.1217–44 was also relatively well endowed, comprising Altarage and small Tithes, 30a of Roger Pipards Demesne, and Grain Tithes from Cottars and from specified pieces of Land.
The Living was valued in 1254 at 20 marks (£13 6s 8d), more than twice the average for Cuddesdon Deanery. Late 13th- and early 14th-century valuations put it at £22 excluding a 33s 4d pension to Bec Abbey, and a similar valuation was returned in 1428, rising to £30 in 1526. The Pension derived from the 11th-century gift of Tithes to the Abbey by Miles Crispin, which in 1422 were Granted to St George’s Chapel, Windsor, following Bec’s expropriation as an alien house. In the early 16th century the Dean & Canons leased those Tithes to the local Gadbury Family for £3 6s 8d a year, and the Abbey’s former portion was still separately accounted for in the 17th & 18th centuries.
By the early 19th century the Rectory was worth c.£780 a year from Glebe & Tithes, from which the Curate received a salary of £60 (increased soon afterwards to £150). In 1805 the Glebe included c.63a in Great Haseley’s Open-fields, scattered holdings in Little Haseley, and a 22a Close called the Hermitage (sold in 1808) in Rycote. At Great Haseley’s Inclosure in 1822 the Rector received c.87a in lieu of un-Inclosed Glebe Land, the resulting Glebe Farm (91 a.) lying mostly North-West of Great Haseley Village. From 1830 it was let with a Farmhouse on the Village Street. The Tithes were commuted for a Rent-charge of £800 in 1839, and in 1860 the Rector’s gross income was c.£950. Small portions of Glebe were sold in the late 19th & early-20th centuries, but the Rector retained Glebe Farm until its Sale to the Lessee (Harry Smith) before 1962. Around 1950 the Glebe was valued at £80, and the Rector’s net income was £433.
Until its Sale, in the 1920s the Rectory House occupied 2a in the centre of Great Haseley Village, some distance West of the Church. The House has 14th or 15th-century origins but was substantially remodelled in 1846 when the 15th-century Hall was converted into a kitchen. Re-used materials include a 2-light 14th-century window with Tracery and Transom (reset in the East Front), a 15th-century 3-light window with cinquefoil heads and a deep casement moulding & label, and in the Hall 2 15th-century square-headed windows of 2 cinquefoil lights.
Improvements by the Rector John Harding (1597-1610) included wainscoting the Parlour, Roofing Stone Stairs to the Great Chamber, and installing new glass, although his successor still considered the House dilapidated. In 1662–5 it was the largest in the Village, Taxed on 13 hearths, and in the early 18th century (when a Carpenter & Mason undertook repairs) the Rector considered it overly large & inconvenient. Extensive remedial work was planned in 1816, but in 1846 the Architect George Gilbert Scott found the house to be uncomfortable and in very bad repair. He consequently proposed dismantling it entirely apart from the Hall, re-using the materials to build a 6-bedroomed house with Outbuildings. The cost was met by a £1,400 Mortgage taken out by the Rector William Birkett. Later Rectors made minor improvements, but the House was sold in 1924. Thereafter until 1988 Haseleys Rectors occupied Rose Cottage, a small 18th-century house extended by Percy Bown (Rector 1923–45), and improved by his successors.
The former 3-Bay Medieval Hall & adjacent cross-Passage survive on the North of Scott’s House, abutted on the West by a taller North-South Cross Wing. His South-facing 19th-century Block (containing the Principal Rooms) runs parallel to the Hall, to which it is linked by a Central Block with a double-Ridge Roof. The whole is built of coursed Limestone rubble with Ashlar Dressings and has a tiled Roof with crenellated Stone Stacks. The Hall retains its 15th-century Roof, incorporating arch-braced Collar Trusses and 2 rows of Butt-purlins with arched Windbraces; its Eastern Gable end has been rebuilt and contains a 19th-century Fireplace and modern 2-light windows with cinquefoil heads. The Eastern entrance Front includes an Arcade of 2 segmental pointed arches, with a probably 14th-century window set in a Gabled half-Dormer above. The South-facing Garden Front (above) features a Crenellated Ground-floor Bay and transomed windows with cinquefoil lights, while inside, one Room has stop-chamfered pine Beams forming a coffered ceiling supported on timber brackets. Birkett’s Arms appear on a date plaque over the main entrance, and the Cross Wing’s North Gable has a Bell under a Tiled Canopy (below).
Old Rectory, Great Haseley – In its present state, the Old Rectory consists of 2 Main parts, a Medieval Stone Structure aligned East-West, with 4 bays of Timber-framed Roof within, and adjoining it to the South, an extension built in 1846 by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The tall wing to the right is a rebuilding of another part of the Medieval House. Although the east-facing central Gable window is probably early 14thC in date, based on the Decorated Tracery, and is said to have come from the Medieval Building; there is nothing else visible in the Fabric today as early as this. The 3-Bay Hall Roof has Arch-braced Collar Trusses to the open Trusses, Queen-posts with raking Struts to the closed ones at either end. There are 2 Tiers of Butt-Purlins with curved Windbraces – all very impressive and dating probably from somewhere in the 15thC. A wide closed Western Bay may have contained the Screen’s Passage. It was during the 1400s that the Old Rectory was built. Even though it was partly rebuilt in 1846, much of the original 15thC fabric remains. It is of a traditional Open Hall and Cross Wing plan with the large traceried Mullion and Transom windows lighting the Open Hall. It was a building of sufficient antiquity and acknowledged worth to be noted by Delafield in the 1730s as typical of an Ancient Structure.
Former Rectory House from the NE, showing the remodelled Medieval Hall & (right) adjoining Cross Wing, with part of G G Scott’s 1846 additions to the rear
Rectory, now house. Probably 15thC partly rebuilt 1846. Coursed Limestone rubble with Ashlar Dressings; old plain-tile Roof and crenellated Stone Stacks. Hall and cross Wing with rear Range. Front has central Door with 4-centre arched head below a 2-light cinquefoil mullioned window and, to left, a similar window and 2 tall windows of 2 lights with cinquefoil heads above and below the transoms, probably 15thC; to right, projecting Gable of taller cross Wing with mullioned windows to 3 floors and a Bell under a tiled canopy in the Gable. Entrance front to left has Arcade of 2 segmental pointed arches between Gables; at 1st-Floor is a central 2-light Arched window with Tracery & transom, possibly Medieval, set within a Gabled half-Dormer and, to left, a 15thC window of 3 lights with cinquefoil heads with deep casement moulding & label. Garden front has a projecting central Gable with crenellated Bay at Ground Floor; all windows with transoms, cinquefoil heads & labels.
Interior: 4-Bay Front Range contains an open Hall plus a 2-Storey Bay, now forming a Gallery over a through Passage. 15thC roof has 2 arch-braced Collar Trusses and a Gable frame to left, but the Collar Truss to right suggests truncation by the present Cross wing. There are 2 rows of Butt Purlins with arched Windbraces and the rafters have Ashlar pieces. The lower lights of the Hall windows are fitted with pine Shutters. End Gable wall has been rebuilt with a 19thC Fireplace and now has 20thC mullioned windows. 19thC Rear Range contains Principal Rooms, all with moulded pine Beams forming coffered ceilings supported on carved Stone Corbels. The Rectory was rebuilt by William Birkett, Rector, whose Arms appear over the Main Entrance on a date Plaque.
In a letter, John Leland reported on his endeavours to preserve Books, and the extent and thoroughness of his Travels through England & Wales:
- “I have so travelid yn yowr dominions booth by the se costes and the midle partes, sparing nother labor nor costes, by the space of these vi. yeres paste, that there is almoste nother cape, nor bay, haven, creke or peere, river or confluence of rivers, breches, waschis, lakes, meres, fenny waters, montaynes, valleis, mores, hethes, forestes, wooddes, cities, burges, castelles, principale manor placis, monasteries, and colleges, but I have seene them; and notid yn so doing a hole worlde of thinges very memorable.”
Leland was concerned to record evidence for the History of England and Wales as it was visible in the Landscape, and he, therefore, took pains to note all kinds of Archaeological remains, including Megaliths, Hillforts, Roman and Medieval Ruins. He came across several Roman Inscriptions, though he was unable to read most of them, complaining of one that it was made up of “letters for whole words, and 2 or 3 letters conveyed in one”. In 1542, Henry presented Leland with the valuable Rectory of Great Haseley, The year following he preferred him to a Canonry of King’s College, now Christ Church, Oxford, and about the same time, collated him to a Prebend in the Church of Sarum. He was an absentee Pluralist, with the income and leisure to pursue his interests. He retired with his collections to his house in the Parish of St Michael-le-Querne, adjoining Cheapside, London, where he intended to work on his various projects. However, in February 1547 near the time of Henry’s death, “he fell besides his wits“. Leland was certified Insane in March 1550 and died, still mentally deranged, on 18 April 1552, aged about 48. Leland was buried in the Church of St Michael-le-Querne near his home. However the Church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and not rebuilt, and so Leland’s Tomb has been lost.
The Living is a Rectory, valued in the King’s Books at £30, and in the Gift of the Dean & Canons of Windsor: the Tithes have been commuted for £800, and there are about 98 acres of Glebe.
Pastoral Care & Religious Life
The Middle Ages
Around 30 Incumbents are known before the Reformation, beginning with one Robert c.1217. The Pipards’ 13th-century Presentees were mostly in Minor Orders, suggesting young men still in education – the reason, presumably, for the temporary appointment of a Vicar c.1217–44. At least one of the Rectors (William de Pochleya) attended University, and two served for more than 30 years. William, Dean of Haseley (mentioned c.1232–41) was possibly another Incumbent, and (unusually for Clergy in this period) had a daughter. In 1241 he was wounded in a night-time raid on his house. Henry Fitz Nigel (Rector 1274–1305), the Pipards’ last Presentee, Endowed the Chapel at Latchford, but had a troubled relationship with the powerful new Lord Hugh Despenser and with the Lord of Little Haseley William of Skelbrooke, whom he accused of damaging his corn and causing his imprisonment on suspicion of murder. His successors were Despenser’s Chaplain William de Hanlo (Rector 1305–18), who was a Pluralist, and another Despenser Nominee, Robert de Hanlo, who in 1322 received permission to enter into John de Hanlo’s service for 3 years.
Most later 14th & 15th-century rectors were high-flying Administrators or Academics who probably spent little time in the Parish, reflecting the high status of the Church’s Patrons. Those Presented by the de Bohuns included Thomas de Maldon (Rector 1338–40), a recent Graduate who exchanged the Living with Richard atte Lee (1340–2); the latter was in the Earl of Northampton’s service, and was permitted to Lease the Benefice. Master John de Sancey (Rector 1355–60) was a former Canon & Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral who possibly travelled to Rome, and several of his late 14th-century successors were probably also non-resident. Robert de Walsham (instituted 1360) was a Pluralist in the Service of the Black Prince, while John Prophet (Rector 1386) was a Royal Clerk, & Master Raymond Pelegrin (1386–97) had permission to study at University. In their absence, the Parish was served presumably by un-beneficed Chaplains. During the 15th century several Oxford Academics held Great Haseley in Plurality with University Offices and other Benefices, amongst them Nicholas Newton (Rector ?1438–59) & John Parys (1459–69), who were Principals of Academic Halls. Some rectors seem nonetheless to have had local connections. Raymond Pelegrin’s Goods & Oxen were mentioned in the 1380s–90s, and his successor John of Haseley (Rector 1397–1412) was presumably a local man, albeit a Pluralist who may have spent time at University Thomas Butler (Rector 1472–94) was, unusually, buried in the Church, where he is commemorated with a fine Brass.
Presentations by the Dean & Canons of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, followed earlier patterns: John Morgan (Rector 1494–6) vacated Great Haseley on his promotion to the Bishopric of St David’s, while Nicholas Beaumont (1497–1504) held a Living in London, & subsequently received an £8 annual Pension from his Successor Thomas Harrop (Rector 1504–22). Roger Lupton (Rector 1522–5) was a Provost of Eton who later received a £30 annual pension, while Richard Pates (1525–42) employed a Curate and a stipendiary Priest to serve the Parish. Under Harrop (who resided) the Churchwardens nevertheless reported numerous abuses: grazing of animals in the Churchyard, failure to keep the holy oil & Font under Lock & Key or to collect Parishioners’ dues, refusal to visit the sick or to meet Funerals beyond the Churchyard Gate, and on one occasion refusal to bury a Parishioner’s son. The Church & Rectory House were allegedly also in disrepair. Despite such complaints, Harrop founded a Chantry & School and left 3s 4d to maintain the Bells.
Support from local Laity is suggested by endowments for the outlying chapels and for the parish church, which was extended and embellished throughout the Middle Ages. Land for a light there was given by the Fitz Olivers of Little Haseley before 1279, and William Lenthall (d.1496) of Latchford left money to maintain the Bells, & livestock to support the Rood & Trinity lights and lights to St Catherine & St Christopher. The Trinity light was probably in the South Aisle, where Lenthall and several of his descendants were buried. Among lesser inhabitants, Nicholas Green (d.1530) requested burial by the Pulpit, while in 1545 another Parishioner left small amounts of barley to the Church & Rood light. At Rycote, the Quatremains‘ Chantries in the newly built chapel continued until the Reformation, served by at least 2 Chantry Priests in the early 16th century, and by 3 in 1535; of those, 2 received stipends of £6 13s 4d a year, and one £8 5s. The Lenthalls may have established an additional Private Chapel at Latchford, where they reportedly employed a Monk as Private Chaplain in the early 16th century, while at Haseley Court Lady Anne Barentin kept newly gilded religious images in her closet c.1520.
The Reformation to 1800
Richard Pates (Rector 1525–42) was an opponent of Henry VIII’s religious policies, and suffered Attainder & Exile. Following his expulsion, the King Presented his Chaplain, the Antiquary John Leland (Rector 1542–52), whose duties were performed by Curates. Local Wills suggest some lingering Catholic sympathies, and opposition to religious change was a factor in the Oxfordshire rising of 1549, which targeted Sir John Williams of Rycote as one of the Kings Commissioners for the confiscation of Church Goods. The prominent Haseley Farmer Thomas Bowldry played a leading role, though not necessarily for religious reasons. Despite the uprising, Haseley’s Church furnishings were removed in 1552–3 and its lights & local Chantries were suppressed, and from 1558 Great Haseleys Rectors all subscribed to the Elizabethan Settlement. Thereafter most Parishioners seem to have confirmed and made occasional Bequests to the Parish Church.
Catholicism persisted longer among some Landholding Families, notably the Lenthalls of Latchford and the Huddlestons of Haseley Court, who reportedly maintained a Catholic Chapel. William Lenthall (d.1587) chose to be buried in the Parish Church, but by his Will left money from former Chantry Lands (which he had purchased from the Crown) to pay for the ‘de profundis’ Psalm to be recited by the Parish Poor, kneeling before his grave. Yeoman recusant families included the Horsemans of Great Haseley and the News & Youngs, while 7 recusants were named in the early 17th century. Williams himself played an ambiguous role, actively participating in the Reformation, yet collaborating with the Marian Regime in the burning of Protestants.
As the richest of the Livings belonging to the Dean & Canons of Windsor, Great Haseley continued to attract Careerists. The former Curate John Appleton (Rector 1560–73) and his successor Vincent Tuke (1573–93) were both Pluralists, and several others were Fellows of Oxford Colleges, amongst them the Astrologer John Robins (Rector 1556–8), the Professor of Hebrew John Harding (1597–1610), and Christopher Wren (1638–42), father of the Architect. Christopher Potter (Rector 1642–6), Provost of Queens College, acquired the Benefice by an exchange with Wren, having earlier failed to succeed his father-in-law Charles Sonnibanck (Rector 1610–38). Sonnibanck himself lived mostly at Haseley and was buried in the Church, but most of the others were probably non-resident: before Harding’s Institution the Rectory House had been leased for at least 40 years, and though Harding lived there occasionally and improved the building, he employed a Curate. During Sonnibancks Incumbency holy communion was celebrated at Michaelmas, followed later by evening prayers, and the religious tone overall was probably orthodox: new Bells installed under Wren included one inscribed ‘honour the King’, while Christopher Potter was an Arminian and a follower of Laud. By contrast Potters successor Edward Corbet (Rector 1646–58) was a Presbyterian who seems also to have resided, and was subsequently buried at Haseley, his funeral attended by Fellows of Merton College.
The Restoration saw a rapid succession of Rectors, Corbet’s successor Anthony Stephens being replaced by George Morley (who was almost immediately appointed Bishop of Worcester), and by Peter Wentworth (1660–1) & Bruno Ryves (1661–77). Ryves was a Royal Chaplain & Dean of Windsor, whose appointment to Great Haseley was deliberately intended to augment the Dean’s Living. Though non-resident, he donated several pieces of Silver Church Plate. John Durel (Rector 1677–83) was followed by another Dean of Windsor, Francis Turner (1683–4), who became Bishop of Ely and was succeeded at Haseley by the Dean of Guernsey, John Saumares (Rector 1684–5 and 1688–97). Saumares‘ incumbency was marred by disputes with Gregory Hascard, who had been a rival candidate in 1683, and who after succeeding Turner as Dean of Windsor made several attempts to remove Saumares before finally acquiring the Benefice on the latter’s death. Few of these men were Resident, and as earlier the Rectory House was Leased & Services taken by Curates.
In 1708 the Benefice was formally annexed to the Deanery of Windsor by Act of Parliament. Residence was not required, although the Dean was to appoint a Curate with an annual stipend of £60. Ten Deans held the Rectory until its separation in 1840, most of them eminent men; the longest-serving included John Robinson (Rector 1709–29), Peniston Booth (1729–65), Frederick Keppel (1765–77), Bishop of Exeter, and John Harley (1778–88), Bishop of Hereford. Several Curates also served for 10 years or more, notably Thomas Vincent (appointed 1709), Robert Chernock (1724–34) and Christopher Marshall (1757–1800). The arrangement seems not to have had an especially detrimental effect: in 1738 the Curate reported that Communion was celebrated 6 times a year and that there were 2 Sunday Services, one of them with a Sermon, while Prayers were said on Feast days. The pattern remained broadly unchanged in the late 18th century, save that the Palm Sunday Communion was dropped. The number of communicants increased from c.40 in 1759 to 90 in 1793, and despite a sizeable minority of non-attenders, the Congregation was generally maintained. Outlying Hamlets nevertheless suffered from lack of provision: no Services were held at Rycote Chapel despite its 2-mile distance from the Parish Church, Owners of Rycote House using it primarily for family & household burials.
Small-scale Roman Catholicism continued intermittently. Five Roman Catholics were reported in 1676, but Protestant Families succeeded the Lenthalls & Huddlestons at Latchford & Little Haseley, and no papists were mentioned in 1706 or 1738. In 1759 Lady Abingdon and her daughters (at Rycote House) were Catholics, and during the mid 18th century the Catholic Woolfes lived at Haseley Court with their resident Priest Mr Brown, several servants being named as recusants in 1767. By 1771, however, Haseley Court was again occupied by an Anglican Family, and over the following decades the number of Catholics gradually declined, falling to just 2 by 1801. Protestant Nonconformity was equally small-scale. In 1672 an Independent Meeting Place was Licensed at George Gooding’s house in Latchford, to which a Preacher travelled from Watlington. In 1738, however, the Curate reported only two Anabaptists ‘in low circumstances’.
Curates continued to serve the Parish until the Benefice’s separation from the Deanery of Windsor in 1846. Their insecurity as stipendiary rather than perpetual Curates was brought to the Bishop’s attention in 1803–4, apparently without formal resolution: the Rector (Charles Manners-Sutton) seems to have objected to the Bishop’s interference especially over the Curates salary, which was still fixed at £60 under the 1708 Act. The stipend was finally raised to £150 c.1814.
Charles Ballard (Curate 1800–32) was also Vicar of Chalgrove and served under several non-resident Rectors, maintaining 2 Sunday Services but reducing Communion to 4 times a year. In 1805 c.100 inhabitants received Communion at Christmas and half that number at other times. Ballard was perturbed at persistent absenteeism, which he variously ascribed to idleness & indifference, vice, and the pursuit of worldly concerns, and perhaps in response, he began to preach twice on Sundays. His difficulties were compounded by the reappearance of Protestant Nonconformity: a house was Licensed for Worship in 1814, and Meetings in houses continued until a Congregationalist Chapel was built in 1839. Four Roman Catholics were also mentioned in 1814.
Ballard’s successor as Curate was William Birkett (d.1875), who became Rector in 1846 following the separation of Benefice & Deanery and the death of the previous incumbent. Judged ‘clever’ by the bishop, Birkett oversaw rebuilding of the Rectory House and introduced monthly Communion; otherwise Services remained unchanged, and in 1854 the Congregation numbered c.300 (‘much as usual’ according to Birkett). Attendance varied according to the weather & farming season, and c.35–60 inhabitants received Communion. Although Resident, Birkett employed an assistant Curate who catechised the children in School; a later Curate was dismissed, followed in 1865 by the more successful appointment of Frederic Smith.
Despite such improvements, c.1846 the Bishop considered Protestant Dissent to be ‘rife’ in Great Haseley. Up to 55 people attended the Congregationalist Chapel in 1851, its adherents including several of the larger Farmers. Nevertheless, Birkett claimed in 1854 that the number of Chapel-goers was very small, and the Chapel seems to have periodically struggled in the face of strong Anglican opposition. In 1878 Birkett’s successor thought that only 30 inhabitants would call themselves Dissenters, although many others attended both Church & Chapel. In 1889 Chapel-goers averaged around 70 and in 1893 an 8-day Mission from Wheatley was said to have bolstered Haseley’s ‘fluctuating cause’. A more serious problem for the Rector was continuing apathy, with around a 3rd of the Population failing to attend any religious worship.
Henry Ellison (Rector 1875–94) increased the number of Services, and made new efforts to attract Parishioners (especially the young) to bible classes, lectures, & other forms of instruction. A Temperance Society was established, and the Curate hosted a Mothers’ Meeting. Many of those groups continued in the mid-1890s, and although Ellison complained that Church attendances were adversely affected by Pubs opening late on Saturdays and all day on Sunday, the Congregation gradually increased. Introduction of fortnightly and then weekly communion services similarly raised the number of Communicants to 160 in 1890, while a monthly Offertory contributed to Church repairs.
William Edwards (Rector 1894–1922) maintained the pattern of Services & Classes and reported increased attendance, besides raising considerable funds to restore the Parish Church. From 1913 he served as Cuddesdon’s Rural Dean. Percy Bown (Rector 1923–45) made further improvements to the Church, and in 1930 arranged for the fitting up of a Village Hall in the former Glebe Barn, which was sold to the Parish Council in 1973. From 1965 Kenneth Thompson (Rector 1962-75) also served the Parishes of Albury, Tiddington, & Waterstock, reporting News from across the Benefice in a regular Newsletter, while Christopher Abbot (1988–93) was the 1st to serve Haseley from the Rectory at Great Milton. In 2012 Victor Story (instituted 1999) held services at Great Haseley 3 Sundays a month. The Congregationalist Chapel continued in the late 1940s, but was later closed; in 2012 it was disused and in disrepair.
St Peter’s Parish Church
For a small rural Village Great Haseley has a relatively large and impressive church, reflecting in part its high-status Patrons, the size of its Medieval Endowment, and possibly its early origins. The earliest fabric dates from c.1200, when the Pipards held the Manor, but there are hints of an earlier structure: the Nave, in particular, is exceptionally long, prompting suggestions that its easternmost bay may have once formed the Chancel of a smaller 11th or 12th-century Church. The present building was substantially complete by 1500 and comprises a 4-Bay Aisled Nave with South Porch, a taller 3-Bay Chancel, and a Perpendicular West Tower. The most building took place between the 13th & 15th centuries, and Stone Effigies of 2 13th-century Knights and a 13th-century Slab with a foliated Cross may commemorate some of the Benefactors. A North-East Chapel in Perpendicular style was added c.1709. The building as a whole is of coursed Limestone rubble with Ashlar Dressings and numerous Buttresses; the steep Chancel Roof is tiled, while the shallower Roofs of the Nave & Aisles have been re-Roofed in Copper.
The Nave’s 3 Westernmost Bays were built c.1200, and were Aisled from the start: the Arcades reflect the transition from Norman to Early English, featuring large square abaci, embryonic stiff-leaf capitals, and more advanced roll mouldings on pointed arches. A fine Doorway reset in the West Tower is of similar date, with a pointed Arch, 3 orders of roll-moulding, and a band of dogtooth. The Early-English Chancel Arch may be slightly later and has 2 orders of roll-moulding, rising from corbels carved with cinque-foiled leaves.
The high-quality Decorated Chancel was built in the late 13th century, possibly by the unknown Benefactor whose elaborate Tomb Recess survives in the South wall. The recess is unusually ornamented, its Arch cusped and sub-cusped to form a series of trefoils. Adjacent are 3 Sedilia & a Piscina, the whole lavishly carved with crocketed gables, finials, & pinnacles. The Chancel’s North & South walls each have 3 2-light windows with geometrical Tracery, including trefoils and a quatrefoil in the head; above them is a continuous hood and a frieze of ballflower & quatrefoils. The magnificent East window, of 5 lights, has spherical triangles enclosed in a circle in the head.
The Chancel is visible through Squints in the North & South Aisles. The largely Decorated South Aisle is of inferior workmanship to the Chancel, but includes a Piscina with an Ogee Head under a Crocketed Arch with side pinnacles on head Corbels. A Reredos once stood beneath its 3-light East window, and an image Niche survives with a crocketed Canopy. Further West, a row of 3 Tomb Recesses with cinquefoiled arches is probably of early 14th-century date. From the late 15th century the Aisle was adopted as a Mortuary Chapel by the Lenthalls, and appears to have been dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
Relatively little work was carried out during the 14th century, save for a remodelling of the Nave’s Eastern Bay perhaps in connection with the Rood Loft: a Rood Screen (though probably not the loft) remained in the mid 18th century. A sizeable collection of 14th-century Tiles (now reset in the West walls) suggests that the Church was also re-floored. Substantial rebuilding followed during the 15th century, when the Church acquired its surviving West Tower & Clerestory. The former is of 3 Stages with a crenellated Parapet & diagonal Buttresses, and has 2-light Traceried Belfry openings set above a heavily recessed 3-light West window; in 1553 it housed 4 bells. The square-headed Clerestory windows and low plain Porch are of similar date, together with the Nave’s 15th-century Oak Roof with carved braces to the tie beams. A Chapel at the North Aisles East end was added in the late 15th century, perhaps by the Lords of Rycote, with whom it was later associated; the elaborate Tomb Chest of William Barentin (d.1549) was moved there from the Chancel only in the 19th century, probably during Restoration work in the 1840s. A separate Chapel North of the Chancel, in Perpendicular style, was added by the Blackalls c.1709 to accommodate a Family Vault. An accomplished Baroque Monument there by John Piddington of Oxford commemorates George Blackall (d.1709) of Latchford, whose bewigged Bust is set under a broken segmental Pediment with an Heraldic Cartouche.
The church was in disrepair in 1520 when the Chancel walls needed cleaning, and in 1758 the Archdeacon ordered the removal of ivy and minor repairs, including plastering and whitewashing the interior. Further repairs were undertaken in 1801, but by 1837 the building was afflicted by damp, and in 1841 the interior was refurbished, the changes including removal of a Western Gallery and of a flat plaster ceiling in the Chancel, which obscured the East window. The Architect was J M Derick. Minor improvements in the later 19th century were followed by a complete overhaul of the Chancel in 1897, when the Roof was re-tiled & guttered, new drainage & heating systems were installed, and a new Floor, Choir Stalls, & Altar fittings were provided, paid for largely by donations. Floor & Choir Stalls were designed by Thomas Garner. Stained glass was added piecemeal from the 1850s, including work by John Hardman & Co (in the Chancel), Charles Gibbs, & Burlison & Grylls.
Early 20th-century fundraising & benefactions paid for further improvements including restoration of the South Aisle, additional Memorial windows, rehanging of the Bells, refurnishing of the Altar, and extension of the Churchyard, together with provision of electric lighting & heating. A lightning strike in 1963 necessitated repairs to the East end, while theft of Lead from the Aisle Roof led to re-Roofing in Copper in 1978. The Sale for £80,000 in 1996 of William Barentin’s 16th-century Tilting Helmet, formerly mounted over his Tomb, provided funds for further repairs.