Hambleden Parish

Hanbledene (11thC); Hamelden, Hameledene (15thC).


Hambleden is a large Parish extending over 6,598 acres, of which 2,553 are Arable, 1,308 are Permanent Pasture and 2,034 acres (nearly 1/3rd of the whole area) are Woods and Plantations.   The land rises sharply from 100ft by the Thames, which forms its Southern Boundary, until it reaches 618ft in the West & North-West of the Parish. The soil is light and Chalky, a thick stratum of Chalk being worked in various parts of the Parish. The chief crops are wheat & barley.

The main Road from Great Marlow to Henley runs through the Southern part of the Parish, and another Road in the Valley of the Winter-bourne runs due North up the centre of the Parish. This section is called a ‘Winter-bourne’ because it only flows after the Winter rains.  Winter-bourne Streams have their own special wildlife which is adapted to cope with intermittent flows.  The Village is about a mile from the Southern end of this Road.  In the middle of it stands the Church. The School, built by Viscount Hambleden in 1897, is outside the Village on the opposite side of the Road.  Near the junction of the 2 Roads, the foundations of Roman Buildings were noted in 1911 and have since been excavated by Mr A H Cocks, FSA, and are to be housed in a Museum near the School built by Viscount Hambleden.


The Manor House, a picturesque, many-Gabled Structure of dressed flint and red brick, standing to the East of the Church, was the Residence and Property of Mr Francis Scott-Murray.  It was built in 1604 by Emanuel Scrope, afterwards Lord Scrope of Bolton and Earl of Sunderland, but was altered, restored and added to in the 19thC.  The old part retains some of its original features. In the Hall is some mid-17thC panelling brought from a neighbouring Farmhouse. The old Manor House stood to the South-East of it and is partly incorporated in the present Rectory.
House. Early 17thC U-plan building, said to have been built 1603 for Emanuel Scrope, later Earl of Sunderland.  Altered and extended c.1830 & 20thC.  The original part is of flint with narrow brick Dressings and old tile Roof.  Brick Chimneys to Left & Rear with groups of square Shafts set Diagonally. 2-Storeys, Cellars & Attic. Chamfered plinth moulded string courses.  West Front has 3-Gables with moulded and plastered brick coping, each Gable having a large 4-light Attic window with chamfered Brick Mullions & Transom, and 20thC leaded glazing.  Main Floors have 4-Bay fenestration in altered openings, the Ground Floor with 3-pane sashes, the 1st-Floor with larger 19thC Sashes.  Ground Floor Sashes in Right Bays have thick glazing bars. Cellar openings in left Bays.  2-Storey Gabled Porch projects to Centre, of coursed and squared flint with moulded brick string raised over chamfered Brick lozenge. Moulded 4-centred brick arch with hood-mould; 3-light window above with hollow-chamfered brick mullions.  Similar 2-light window to 1st-Floor of left return, 2-light leaded casement to right return.  Flanking Porch has lead rainwater pipes dated 1748.  c.1800 2-Storey Brick extension to left, with dentil eaves & hipped roof.  South Front is similar to West Front but with French Doors to Ground Floor and 19thC tripartite Sashes to Attic.  c.1830-40 Extension to right, of Flint with Brick Dressings, and with Gable and shallow canted projection.  Sash windows with gauged brick heads. c.1960 Garden Room & Billiard Room, of Flint with Stone Dressings, to far right.
Interior remodelled c.1830 & 20thC Ground Floor Rooms 
in South Wing have good c.1830 reeded Doorcases and plaster ceiling cornices.  Entrance Hall has fine early 19thC corner cupboard with Pilasters, Arch & Cornice, scrolled spandrels, shaped marbled shelves, and dome painted with flower basket.  Some 17thC Doors and Timber partitioning in Attic.


The Elizabethan Manor house opposite the Church, formerly the home of Maria Carmela Viscountess Hambleden, was built in 1603 of Flint & Brick for Emanuel 11th Baron Scrope who became Earl of SunderlandCharles I stayed there overnight in 1646 while fleeing from Oxford. The Manor House, Hambleden is also the former home of Lord Cardigan who led the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade. Another notable (Listed Grade II) building is Kenricks which overlooks the Cricket Ground and was the previous Manor House and the home of Philadelphia Carey Lady Scrope, a cousin and Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth I. On her death in 1627 it became The Rectory and was altered in 1724 by the Rector Rev Dr Scawen Kenrick. It ceased to be The Rectory in 1938 and was acquired by the 3rd Viscount Hambleden and renamed Kenricks.

Yewden Manor House, Hambleden

Yewden Manor House, the Property of Viscount Hambleden, and later occupied by Mr Philip Barnett, is at the South end of the Parish. In its Grounds, there is an avenue of Yews of great age.  Yewden House and part of the Watermill on the opposite side of the Marlow Road both date from the early 17thC, and a House on the South side of the Henley Road, further West, is partly of the 16thC, but all have been modernised.  In 1871 Yewden Manor House had been Rented from W H Smith by an interesting character named Gustav Christian Schwabe (1837-1897), who continued to live there until his death in 1897.
House, now 4 Apartments.  Oldest part is probably late 16-17thC, remodelled and extended to left late 19thC, with late 17-18thC projecting wing and lower 19thC Wing to right. 16-17thC part (No.3) has Timber-frame concealed by colour washed roughcast, and flint and brick plinth.  Plain tile Roof, Chimney Stack of thin Brick to left with 4 diagonal Shafts and one Square Shaft.  2-Storeys & Attic, 2 Gabled Bays & one Chimney Bay to Front.  Irregular fenestration with leaded Sashes to Grd Floor right, cross windows to 1st-Floor and paired casements to Attic, most windows leaded. 19thC Arched door to left. Lead Water Spout to centre.  Large projecting 19thC extensions to left (Nos. 1 & 2), are in matching style, roughcast and colour washed, with tiled Roofs and Bick Chimneys. 3 Gabled-Bays to Front, the Centre Gable smaller, with large transomed wooden casements, canted Bay with Sashes and cornice to Grd floor right, and Gothic doorway in large gabled porch between left bays. 17-18thC Wing projecting to Right of original part is of Flint, mostly roughcast & colour washed, and has Gable to Front with 3-pane Sash to Upper Storey. 19thC Venetian window to left return; blind Turret to centre of Roof. Single-Storey 19thC Flint & Brick Wing to far right, with Gables over wooden casements and central arched door.  Rear has 5 Gables with 19thC canted Bay windows to outer Bays & Centre.
Interior: No.3 has fine moulded and stopped 16-17thC wooden Doorcase, originally external, and Upper Room with 17thC panelling and painted stone Fireplace. Early 18thC Staircase with turned Balusters, and knob finials.


ObituaryGCSchwabeLiverpoolCourier1897Schwabe was born in Hamburg in 1813 and was a prominent Patron of the Arts in his day, eventually leaving his Collection of Pictures to his Native City.  For which Bequest he was made an Honorary Citizen in 1886.  This was the 1st time Hamburg had made the Honour since Otto von Bismarck and General Helmut von Moltke in 1871.  Schwabe was followed by Johannes Brahms in 1889, by General von Waldersee (who commanded the German Troops sent to put down the Boxer Rebellion) in 1901, and by General von Hindenburg in 1917.]. Schwabe gathered about him at Yewden a number of Artists known as the “St. John’s Wood Clique”, many of them Royal Academicians. Schwabe, although only a Tenant, not only added the South Wing and a portion of the Centre (indicated by the lower line of the Roof) to the Manor House, but also built a number of flint and Brick Cottages in the Village.  Mr Schwabe was a very shrewd man, one of the originators, of the White Star Line and the Founder of the great Shipbuilding Yard of Harland & Wolff.  After Schwabe’s death in 1897, a there was a succession of Tenants up to 1953.


Friends at Yewden’ by C T Wells shows a group of Artists seated around G C Schwabe who wears a hat, holds a newspaper and is looking over his shoulder at the artists P H Calderon, RA who is standing and leaning forward. The figure in the Boat holding the pole is G D Leslie, RA; next to him is G D Storey, RA; standing together are J E Hodgson, RA and W F Yeames, RA The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1882.

The Village contains several Cottages of early 17thC date.
At Hambleden, I once lectured on Village Antiquities.  Some enthusiastic ladies set about examining their District. They found a large number of what appeared to be Roman Tiles, and this led to the discovery of a Roman Villa of great interest, and Viscount Hambleden, son of the Right Hon W H Smith, who resided at Greenlands, erected a Museum for the Exhibition of the spoils.  It is a beautiful Village with an interesting Church.  Greenlands was besieged during the Civil War.

HambledenExcavations1912Roman remains were unearthed to the South of the Village in 1912. The Villa complex was made up of a Central House and several Outbuildings surrounded by a Boundary wall. 14 Kilns, possible for Pottery, possibly Malting Ovens, were also found, suggesting it had quite an Industrial character. A contested theory was put forward in 2010 that a Military Brothel might have formed part of the Yewden Villa Site after Archaeologists discovered skeletal remains of what appeared to be 97 newborn babies.  Infants were not considered to be “full” human beings and any younger than 2 were not buried in cemeteries.  As a result, infant burials tended to be at Domestic Sites in the Roman Era.

The 2 Parsonage-houses, the Upper & Lower, remained until 1724, when Dr Kenrick, then Rector of Hambleden, built the Rectory-House, the front of which remains substantially unaltered to the present day, on part of the site of the old Manor House, utilising a portion of its Fabric.


Near the Mill is Hambleden Lock, newly erected in 1376, when the London Bargemen lodged a complaint against the Tolls exacted from them at the Locks on the Thames contrary to their Franchise.


Greenlands is the well-known Residence of the Rt Hon W H Smith, and has been by him considerably enlarged; a comfortable House, but the contrast of the dark Cedar trees around gives it rather a sombre effect. There are some fine Inland Ponds near, where skating in the Winter is very good; these Ponds and the Ditches and flat Meadows about, are favourite haunts of Heron & Lapwing.



William Henry Smith 1835-91

At the head of the deep bend in the River to the West of the Lock stands Greenlands, the seat of Viscount Hambleden. The original House, which stood on the River Bank to the South of the Site of the present Mansion, was Garrisoned for the King in May 1644 by a Force under Colonel Hawkins. In the 1st week of June General Browne, in Command of a Parliamentary Force, was ordered against it, but various causes delayed the Siege until 11th July following, when Browne’s Artillery overcame the Resistance of the Royalists: the House ‘could no longer be defended, the whole structure being beaten down by the cannon.’  Hawkins marched out with all the Honours of War, surrendering only the House and his Ordnance; and the Parliamentary General, without waiting for Instructions, proceeded with the hearty Goodwill of the Countryside to Demolish what was left of the House.  Portions of the Foundations have been uncovered from time to time, and Cannonballs, relics of the Siege, have been found in the Garden and are now preserved at Greenlands. The nucleus of the present House consists of the smaller Entrance Hall entered from a Pillared Portico on the South side facing the River, which contains the Staircase and has the Library and small Drawing Room to the West & East. This part, built by Mr Coventry early in the 19thC, was occupied for several years as a Farmhouse. Mr Edward Marjoribanks (d.1868), of Coutts Bank the next Owner in 1852, built the 2 Bow-windowed additions containing the Billiard Room & large Drawing room on either side of this portion; he also laid out the extensive walled Gardens & Park.  The Rt Hon W H Smith, MP, who purchased the Greenlands Estate in 1871, made great additions, building the Dining Room, the Tower and the Ranges of Offices, etc, on the North side and giving the House the appearance which it now has. The Main Entrance on the West side opens into a square and spacious Hall with the Billiard Room leading out of it on the right-hand.

Greenlands Campus

The present Building was built on the site of a previous House which was owned in the 17thC by the D’Oyley Family, descendants of the Norman Robert D’Oyly.  In the early 19thC, the Land was owned by Thomas Darby-Coventry and a House called Greenland Lodge was built.  It was bought by William Henry Smith, son of the Founder of W H Smith.  He further extended the Building, though its appearance received a cool reception from Jerome K Jerome who joked in Three Men in a Boat that it was ‘the rather uninteresting-looking River Residence of my Newsagent.’  On Smith’s death, his Family was ennobled with the Title of Viscount Hambleden. Greenlands remained their home until immediately after the WW2.

Early OS Map of Oxfordshire


Three miles North of Hambleden Village is the Hamlet of Skirmett, with All Saints’ Church, a Chapel of Ease to the Parish Church, an Infants’ School and a Congregational Chapel. To the West of it are Poynetts House and Wood, which derive their name from the Poynants, who were 14thC holders of Skirmett Manor. The House is modern with a 17thC nucleus; the Foundations of an older House, burnt down in the 14th or 15thC, lie about 50 yards East of the present structure.  Sheepwashes Place is recorded as the Manor House in the 17thC.  Among the materials were some Roman Brickbats, probably re-used from the ruins of a Roman House in the neighbourhood.  Poynetts was the Residence of Mr A Heneage Cocks, FSA, who kept in his grounds Otters, Wild Cats & other beasts.

Area Map


Frieth, with St John’s Church, another Chapel of Ease to Hambleden Church, a Parsonage, Village Hall and School, is 3-miles North-east of Hambleden.  To the North-West of it is Little Frieth, with a few outlying Cottages.

Parmoor House 1870

About half a mile to the South-West of Frieth stands Parmoor House, the Property and Residence of Lord Parmoor of Frieth, KCVO It is built of Brick in the Queen Anne style, and commands a fine view of the surrounding Country.  In 1860 the House and 400 acres were purchased by Henry William Cripps QC who was fond of Country Pursuits and wanted a Family Home for himself, his wife Julia and their 10 children.  However, he found that the House being in 2 parts was extremely inconvenient so he set about demolishing much of the original Brick & Flint building and remodelling the House completely.  The only relics of the older House are one Brick & Flint wall, the Oak Beams in the Kitchen and the Oak used for the Banisters, Newels in the Hall Staircase and some of the Bookcases in the Library.  This Oak was considered to be of great age.  Many famous people have visited Parmoor House, as it was then known, including Lord Baden Powell, Albert Einstein, Haile Sellassee, Jaharwal Nehru with his daughter Indira, and of course Family members including his sister-in-law Beatrice Webb with her husband Sydney and his youngest son, Stafford, who as post-war Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Stafford Cripps, is probably the most remembered Member of the Family these days.

Sir Stafford Cripps 1947

Further South is the Hamlet called Rockwell End, which may derive its name from the family of Rocolte, of whom Thomas de la Rocolte is mentioned in the early 14thC.  A later form of the name is Rickoll or Rockoll from 16th & 17thC Tenants.

The Road between Parmoor & Hambleden Village leads over Pheasant’s Hill and past the Hamlet of the same name, where there is a Congregational Chapel, built in 1810. To the West of Pheasant’s Hill, but the opposite side of the Valley, on the Skirmett Road, is Bacres, known as Baker’s Farm in 1714.  After the death in 1866 of Mr Thomas Raymond Baker, who lived there for 50 years, the Property was bought by the Rt Hon W H Smith and the spelling of the name altered from Bakers to Bacres. It has been enlarged and was now the Residence of Mrs Henry Grenfell.  North of Bacres Farm is another Farm called the Howe; this is bounded by a Road which formerly ran from Marlow past Parmoor and which on the West of the Valley is called Dudley’s Lane, leading to Luxters, an old Farmhouse which is said to have sheltered for a night the Earl of Leicester on his way from London to Cumnor. In the Eastern half of the Parish on high ground about a mile south-east of the Village is Burrow Farm (la Berewe alias la Burgh, 14thC; the Burrow, 17thC), which was bequeathed by Elizabeth Lady Periam in Trust to Archbishop Laud,  who founded with it 2 Scholarships in Balliol College, Oxford.  It is a 16thC house with 17thC additions & modern restorations. It retains a good many original features, including the entrance doorway (now disused), a Chimney stack, windows, Fireplaces and some old panelling.

Huttons Farm, east of the Village, and Chisbidge (Chissebech, 14thC; Chesbeche, 14thC  Farm, near the Eastern boundary of the Parish, both built of flint and brick, are of early 17thC date with later alterations.

Hambleden was the birthplace of St Thomas de Cantelupe, son of William de Cantelupe and his wife Millicent (Hambleden Manor qv). He was Lord High Chancellor of England and Bishop of Hereford, and was Canonised in 1320, becoming 2nd only in popularity to St Thomas of Canterbury among the later English Saints, and was the last English Saint to be recognised by the undivided Western Church.  Another Parish Worthy was Dr Roberts, who was sequestered from the Rectory of Hambleden for Loyalty in 1644 and at the Restoration petitioned the King for the Archdeaconry of Winchester on the ground of the great misery that he had suffered in consequence.  The Parish Register notes on 17th May 1685 that Mary Wallington had a Certificate to go before the King for a disease called the ‘King’s Evil.’ (Scrofula)

Palaeolithic and Neolithic implements have been discovered at Skirmett and in other places, particularly at Burrow and in Fields near the River.

The following Place-names occur in Hambleden: Bennetts, Grey, Holmes (16thC); Adams & Colsthorpe or Collmanstrop (17thC); Oliver’s Mead (18thC).

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