Riseberge (11thC); Magna Risberge (13thC.); Earls Rysebergh (14thC); Princes Risburgh (15thC).
The Parish of Princes Risborough lies on the Western side of the County of Buckingham. It contains 3,936¼ acres, the greater part, viz. 2,620 acres, being Arable land. There are 1,276¼ acres laid down in Permanent Pasture, and 40 acres of Wood. The subsoil is Chalk, but the surface soil is variable; on the Hills, it is generally Light and Chalky and in the Lowlands either Loam or strong Clay. The Parish lies on the North-Western slope of the Chiltern Hills, rising to over 770ft. above the Ordnance Datum.
The occupation of the people was almost entirely Agricultural. There was Gomme’s Iron-Foundry is to be found tucked away behind the Cottages in Foundry Lane, at the Hamlet of Looseley Row, and sequin and bead-work were done by women at Lacey Green. Watercress Beds existed near the Town of Princes Risborough, where there are several Springs. Princes Risborough is a small Market Town, lying 8¾ miles South of Aylesbury on the High Road from Aylesbury to Wycombe. The Road from Wycombe to Thame branches off to the North-West at the Northern end of the Town, and the Upper Icknield Way also crosses the Parish. The Wycombe Branch of the Great Western Railway runs to the West of the Town, the Station being about ¾ of a mile away. In 1906 the GWR opened a branch line to Aylesbury in conjunction with the GWR and this line passes through Princes Risborough Station.
The centre of the Town is at the Junction of the 3 main Streets, where the Square, red-brick Market-House stands, with open Arcades and a covered Walk on its Lower Storey, and a wooden Cupola containing a Bell rising from its low slate Roof. There are a good many 18th-century red-brick Fronts and near the Market-House a Gabled half-Timber House with herringbone brick filling and a fine central Chimney Stack. The Church is at the North-West corner of the Town, standing in a large Churchyard, and to the East of it is the Manor-House, with remains of 2 sides of a deep Moat in its Grounds.
The Manor-House is a handsome red-brick Building with Pilasters and Mouldings in cut and rubbed brick. It appears to date from the beginning of the 18th century, but its Staircase and the Panelling of the Drawing-Room are some 50 years earlier and may have been removed from an older building on the same Site. They fit so well into their present position that it seems as if the House must have been built with a view to receiving them. The Staircase is of Oak with a heavy moulded hand-rail and a balustrade of scrollwork, and large square newels with ball finials and moulded pendants. The Drawing-room Panelling is in 2 Ranges with tall arched upper panels, with small moulded Key blocks. Above is a Frieze and an elaborate Cornice of many moulded members. The Mantel is part of the general design, and is enriched with a small Tuscan Order, a central Oval Panel, and flat baluster pilasters below the mantel-shelf. At the window recesses are Pilasters reaching from Floor to Ceiling, the proportions, workmanship, and design being extremely good, and though comparatively plain, the Room is a charming example of its date. The Entrance Hall is also panelled, but not so elaborately, and is probably of the same date as the House. The windows throughout are Sashed and have heavy glazing bars.
Henry VIII made a Grant to the Inhabitants of Princes Risborough in 1523 of a weekly Market and 2 yearly Fairs. The Market was held on Wednesdays, and the Fairs for 3 days at the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and on St George’s Day. The Market Day in 1792 had been changed to Saturday, and again in 1888 to Thursday. In 1792 there was only one Fair held, on 6th May. A 2nd Fair has since been revived and is now held on 21st October.
The Town obtained a Charter from Queen Elizabeth in 1598, Granting to the Inhabitants Immunity from serving on Juries and paying Tolls. The Ancient Earthwork called Grim’s Dyke enters the Parish on the North-Eastern Border by Lilly-bottom Farm and reaches to Lacey Green. To the West of the Churchyard of Princes Risborough, there is a Site of about an acre surrounded by a Moat that popular tradition asserts to be the Site of the Black Prince’s Palace. The Civil Parish of Princes Risborough contains the Hamlets of Longwick, Lacey Green, Looseley Row & Speen.
Before the Norman Conquest, Princes Risborough belonged to King Harold. There was attached to the Manor in his time a Burgess of Oxford, who remained there after the Norman Conquest, and a Salt-Worker of Droitwich paid an unspecified number of loads of Salt to the Lord of the Manor in 1086.
William the Conqueror kept the greater part of Harold’s lands, and so Princes Risborough became part of the Ancient Demesne of the Crown. Half of this Part of Risborough seems, however, to have been Granted to Ansculf de Pinchengi very shortly after the settlement of the Normans, but was exchanged for part of Ellesborough with Ralph Talgebosch or Taillebois, by the King’s Command. Soon afterwards Risborough again changed hands and was held by the 2nd Earl Walter Giffard, who made various Grants from these lands to the Abbey of Notley. From 1162 to 1180 Princes Risborough is said to belong to the Honour of Giffard, but on the death of the Earl in 1164 it reverted to the Crown, and does not appear to have been included in the Grant of his Honour made by Richard I to William Marshal and Gilbert de Clare, the heirs of the Giffards. Before 1165 the Manor was Granted to Richard die Humeto, the Constable of Normandy, and from this time was reckoned among the ‘Lands of the Normans.‘ The original Grant was probably made by Walter Giffard, but in 1173–4, after his death, Henry II gave a new Charter to the Constable. This Grant was renewed on Richard’s death to his son and successor, William de Humeto. The latter does not appear, however, to have held the Manor, which went to his younger brother Engelard, but by what Charter or right he held it is doubtful. Engelard’s son, named William de Similly, succeeded him and held the Manor till his death, c.1205, when it escheated to the King. While in the Royal hands, various Grants of land in Risborough were made, but only of a temporary nature, and by 1224 William de Similly’s son, another William, was in Seisin of the Manor. The heirs of Earl Giffard now made a determined attempt to recover Princes Risborough, claiming that it was part of the Honour to which they had succeeded. Moreover, they denied that William de Similly could claim from the Grant to the Constable of Normandy, as that Grant had been made to Richard de Humeto and his heirs, and William was not his heir. No result came of their Suit since it was decided that the question must stand over till the King was of Age. A 2nd Suit was subsequently brought by Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester, against William de Similly, but the result is not recorded. The latter, however, remained in peaceful Seisin of the Manor till his death before 1242. The land then Escheated to the King, the heir being a Minor, and the Rights of Wardship were Granted to Drogo de Trubleville.
The heir of William de Similly is never mentioned again and presumably died before coming of age, for in 1243 Henry III Granted the Manor of Princes Risborough to Richard, Earl of Cornwall and King of the Romans. Richard was succeeded by his son Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, who held the Manor till his death in 1300, when it again came into the King’s hands, Edward I being the next heir. The King held it in Demesne in 1302–3, but immediately afterwards he Granted it to Queen Margaret for life, in exchange for certain Castles and Lands with which he had Dowered her. Margaret, the Countess of Cornwall, however, held a 3rd as part of her Widow’s Dower during her life. The Reversion was Granted in 1309 to Piers Gaveston and his wife Margaret, one of the heiresses of the Clares, and also one of the descendants of the Giffards, but this Grant was surrendered in the same year. Queen Margaret lived till 1316, and from the time of her death till 1327 the Manor of Princes Risborough was held by the King. At the latter date, Edward III Granted it to Queen Isabella in reward for her Services with regard to the Treaty with France and the suppression of the Despensers’ Rebellion. In 1330 John de Eltham, Earl of Cornwall and brother of the King, obtained a Grant of the Manor of Risborough, but after his death in 1337 Queen Isabella again held the Manor. The reversion was Granted to Henry de Ferrers, who obtained possession after the death of Isabella and died Seised in 1344.
His son was a Minor, and the Custody of the Manor was Granted to the Black Prince, from whom it took its present name of Princes Risborough. The Prince held the Manor till his death when it passed to Richard his son and heir. The latter, while still Prince, Granted the Manor for life to Lewis de Clifford. He confirmed the Grant on his accession to the Throne, and Lewis held it for his life. Under Henry IV the Manor came into the hands of the Crown and was again Granted to the Prince of Wales. Henry VI succeeded to the Manor, which formed part of the Dower of his Queen, Margaret of Anjou.
Afterwards, however, it seems to have been held by his son Edward, Prince of Wales. It remained in the hands of the Crown apparently till Edward VI Granted the Manor to Princess Elizabeth for life. James I Granted it to Anne of Denmark as part of her Dower, and on her death to Sir Henry Hobart to the use of Prince Charles.
In 1628 Charles I Conveyed the Manor to the City of London in part payment of the large Debts of the King. The Fee-Farm Fent from the Manor was Granted in 1671 to Lord Hawley in Trust for the King’s heirs and successors until it was sold. This sale took place in the same year to Sir Peter Lely, the Painter.
Under the Commonwealth, the Manor of Princes Risborough, distinguished at this time as the King’s Manor, came into the hands of Ralph Adeane. He held it in 1653 and 1655, and after the Restoration Thomas Adeane, a Minor, was Lord of the Manor as heir of Ralph. In 1684, however, Edward Bigland and George Pelham appear to have been in Seisin. In 1702 and in 1729 Henry Penton held this Manor. In 1766 it was sold by the Penton Family to John Grubbe of Horsenden. In the same year he, together with his next brother Samuel, sold it to Edward, the 3rd brother. Edward’s grandson John held the Manor in 1813, but in 1841 it was advertised for Sale by Auction. It was, however, purchased Privately by the Duke of Buckingham & Chandos on the day previous to the Sale. The Duke’s Lands were sold very shortly after the purchase of this Manor, which, in 1862, was in the hands of Mr James Cuddon At c.1958 Mr Humphrey Brill, of Aston Clinton, claimed to be Lord of the Manor of Princes Risborough.
This Manor in Princes Risborough was held by William de Similly by the Service due from 1 Knight’s Fee, and the same Service was performed by the Earls of Cornwall. In later Grants the Service is not defined. The Lords of the Manor under the Commonwealth paid a Fee-Farm Rent, which in 1671 was given as £82 4s 7½d. It is interesting to note that this Rent had hardly varied from the yearly value of the Manor 300 years before. In 1303 it was £82 9s 3d and in 1337 £84, and 1381 £90.
Earl Walter Giffard and Countess Ermengarde Granted a Wood called Lullested in Princes Risborough to the Abbey of Notley, on its Foundation. This Grant was confirmed by Henry II and John and by Edward III.
In 1291 the Temporalities of the Abbey in Princes Risborough were Lands and Meadows worth 12s 9d a year. The Abbey probably obtained further Grants of Land in the Parish, since at the Dissolution it held the Manor & Rectory of Princes Risborough, valued at £40 a year. Henry VIII granted this Manor, known as the Abbots Manor, to the Dean and Chapter of Oxford, but they forfeited it not long afterwards. Edward VI on his Accession to the Throne gave it to Robert King, Bishop of Oxford, but Elizabeth recovered the Manor from the Bishop in 1589. In the same year, she had already Granted it to Thomas Crompton, Robert Wrighte & Gilley Merick. Crompton sold it to John Jackman, who held it at his death in 1622 when it passed to his son. The latter sold it in 1624 to Joan Chibnall and Vincent Barry, who was the Steward of the King’s Manor. During the Civil War, this Manor presumably came into the hands of Ralph Adeane, who certainly had the Rectory. In a Suit as to the Customs of the Manor in 1675, the King’s Manor and the Abbot’s Manor are both mentioned; the Former is said to belong to the Ancient Demense of the Crown, and not the latter, but both seem to be held by Thomas Adeane, and from this time continued to be held together.
Situated in the North West of the town (in a Lane beside the Church), it was for many years the Property of the Family of Penton of Hampshire. The remains of the Mansion are near the Churchyard.
In Elizabeth’s Grant to Thomas Crompton, a Mansion-House called ‘Broke House‘ is specially mentioned, and appears in the majority of the Deeds relating to the Manor. The latter indeed is sometimes called Brooke, the description in 1813 being the ‘Manor of Risborough or Princes Risborough or Brooke or Abbot’s Risborough commonly called the Abbots‘ hold.’ By Walter Giffard’s Grant, the Wood was held by the Abbey in Frankalmoign, and the Bishop of Oxford held the Manor in the Reign of Edward VI on the same Tenure but also paid Rent for it.
Culverton is 1st mentioned in 1247. Stephen son of Hugh of Culverton then held 1 hide of land of Philip son of Oliver. He had formerly paid the yearly Rent of 1 Mark, but it was changed by agreement to the payment of a Clove Gilly-Flower yearly. In 1317 Hugh of Culverton made an exchange of land in Princes Risborough with John de Foxle and his wife Constance. Hugh by this Settlement was to hold his land and Tenements for life, with remainder to John and Constance and the heirs of John. The other piece of land which changed hands was to be held by John and Constance and the heirs of John. These arrangements suggest that Constance was possibly the heiress of Hugh de Culverton. John de Foxle died, in 1324–5, Seised Jointly with his wife of Land at Culverton. Constance then held them alone and presumably was succeeded by Thomas de Foxle.
In the next Century Richard de la Hay held the Manor of Culverton, which in 1443 was settled intact on Matthew de la Hay and his wife Anne. It was sold in 1516–17 by Thomas a Botre and his wife Joan to Robert Bonner. It had apparently been the inheritance of Joan. In 1633–4 the Manor of Culverton alias Frogmore House passed from Charles Alden and his wife Alice to Ralph Baldwin; 5 years later the latter conveyed it to Francis Steevens. John de Foxle held his land in Culverton of the King in Chief, of the Manor of Princes Risborough. He did Suit of Court at Risborough every 3 weeks and paid a yearly rent of 33s 9d.
In 1316–17 the King Granted him and his heirs the Right of Free Warren in all his Demesne lands in Princes Risborough & Saunderton.
Edward, the Black Prince, became the Owner of the Manor in 1343, which was located on the site formerly known as Court Close, later The Mount. The Site of a rectangular enclosure with a Moated Annexe, now largely destroyed by a Car Park. Excavated in 1955 when various remains were uncovered, including wall footings, pottery, decorated paving tiles and a coin of Edward I, minted in 1280/1. The evidence suggested that the Site had been occupied from 13th to 18thC. This is thought to be the site of the Manor of Edward the Black Prince. A Stud is documented here from as early as 11thC and may have occupied the annexe attached to the embanked enclosure. The only upstanding remains of the enclosure survive as an earthen bank dividing a path from the Churchyard.
The Manor of Princes Risborough in 1086 was assessed at 30 hides, and of these 20 were then contained in the Demesne of the King. This suggests that even in the 11th century the nucleus of a Park already existed, and a few years later the Wood of Earl Walter Giffard is mentioned in the Foundation Charter of Notley Abbey. The Park is mentioned in the Inquisition taken at the death of Richard Earl of Cornwall, and the Abbot of Notley had various Rights in it, to maintain which he was continually making complaints to the King. Edward II and probably his predecessors used the Park of Risborough as a Stud-Farm. The Buildings in the Manor were repaired in 1318 so that the Horses of the King’s Stud could be properly kept there, and a special Inclosure was made in which the Horses might be exercised. Orders were given that the Keeper of the Stud should have whatever was required for the Horses. The Colts are particularly specified in some of the Orders, and in the appointment of William de Framesworth as Keeper of the Stud, it is specially mentioned that he was to have the Custody of the Colts as well as of the Horses already broken in. The Deer in the Park were also mentioned in 1337 when Orders were given that 32 should be taken from the Parks of Risborough and Cippenham and sent to Westminster for the Funeral Expenses of John Earl of Cornwall, the King’s brother. The Park was, however, always Granted with the Manor until Henry VIII Granted an Inclosure, called Risborough Park, to Sir Edward Don. The Dons had already held the Parkership of Risborough; Edward IV had Granted it to Sir John Don, who retained his Office after the Accession of Henry VII. In 1520 the Office of Parker was Granted to Sir Edward himself, and to Sir John Daunce in Survivorship. Sir Edward’s daughter and heiress Anne married George Cotton of Whittington, Gloucestershire, and she held the Park for her life.
The Reversion, to fall in after her death, was sold in 1562 by Edward Daunce to Sir William Dormer. Robert Lord Dormer, the son of Sir William, died Seised of the Risborough Park in 1617, his heir being his grandson Robert, whose Estates were Sequestered during the Civil War. In 1561 George Gosnald, of Colston Basset, Notts., obtained the Estate of Lord Dormer in Princes Risborough on a lease, paying £230 a year. Lord Dormer was said to have held it at a yearly rental of £100. This Estate was not definitely called the Park of Princes Risborough, but it seems probable that it may be identified with it. No mention of the Park is made after the Restoration, and it seems to have been recovered by the Lords of the Manor. When Ralph Adeane held the Property in 1653 there were 800 acres of Wood and 60 of Furze and Heath attached to the Manor, the total acreage of Land of all kinds being 1,360 acres, and Rents being paid further to the value of £15 a year. The Abbot’s Manor was not included in this.
One of 3 Mill Sites in Princes Risborough, in Picts Lane, also Longwick and this Watermill off Summerleys Road dates from the 17th century. It was on the Estate of Lord Rothschild and was occupied for many years by Joseph Rogers. Around 1893 it passed into the occupation of the Gurney Brothers, at which time it had 3 pairs of stones. Around 1895 it was converted to a Roller Mill on the Tattersall System. The Mill was powered by an Overshot Wheel of 23 or 24ft in diameter, with a Steam Engine for supplementary Power. The Watermill was still in working order when visited by Stanley Freese in the 1930s, by which time the Waterwheel had been replaced by a Turbine.
Little Mill House (centre), part of a former Watermill which existed at least as early as 1788. The Mill was converted about 25 years ago into 3 very different detached Residences
In the Domesday Book, there were 2 Mills at Princes Risborough, worth 14s 8d a year. They may probably be identified with the 2 Watermills mentioned in the Reign of Henry III. Geoffrey Neyrnut held one of these of the King of Almain, then Richard Earl of Cornwall, the Lord of the Manor, and the 2nd of Richard de la Forde. One Watermill was Held in the 17th century by William Hampden. It was left under his Will to his cousin Richard Hampden.
It was then called Longwick Mill, a name which is still used for the Watermill in the Hamlet of Longwick at the present day. A Watermill was also held by Robert Lord Dormer, early in the 17th century and a Watermill and a Windmill are mentioned in 1712, being then in the possession of Charles Dormer.
Longwick Watermill – A long-established Mill Site, probably dating back to Domesday, the Watermill was still in working order in the 1930s. Longwick Mill which whilst dating back to the 17th century is still run as a Family Business (G B Gomme & Son). Although this is now thoroughly mechanised the traditional buildings and old millstones are still to be seen. In its time it has been used as a Corn Mill and a Paper Mill. With a good water source, it has been water-driven for most of its life, but it was augmented by Steam at the time of WW1. A Grade II listed former Watermill set in grounds of the old mill pond. The Millers House is a former mill house dating back to circa 1750 with later additions in 1810. Character features include a catslide rear Roof, Oak doors, Sash windows, limestone effect walls, open Fireplaces and exposed Beams. Lawned Gardens wrap around the House and back onto the Old Mill Pond.
In the 14th century, there was a Watermill at Culverton. A Mill was 1st mentioned in the Settlement made between Hugh of Culverton and John de Foxle in 1317, and the latter died Seised of a Watermill. In the conveyances of the Manor of Culverton in the 17th century, the Watermill passed with the Manor.
The Buckingham Arms Pub was situated on Longwick Road. This Pub was demolished in the 1920s to be replaced by another larger Pub of the same name. This Pub was in turn demolished and a Tesco Store & Car Park built on the extended Site.
The Kop Hill Climb
In 1910 Motorcyclists, looking for somewhere to stretch their machines, found just what they were looking for in the sinuous & steep Kop Hill Road that climbs to the Top of the picturesque Chiltern Hills. Within a year Cars joined the Motorcycles and the event quickly became The Kop Hill Climb. As speeds increased so too did the Roll Call of famous cars, bikes and their intrepid Drivers. The Greats of the day like Sir Malcolm Campbell in BlueBird, Raymond Mays in his Bugatti, Henry Seagrave in his Sunbeam and the wonderfully named Count Zborowski in his 8 cylinder Ballot were regular Competitors. In fact, the Count recorded the fastest time for a Car in his monster Aero Engine Ballot climbing the narrow winding Hill in 26.8 seconds. But in 1925 one motorcyclist went even quicker – the legendary Freddie Dixon. Riding his highly tuned Douglas he averaged an astonishing 81 mph from a standing start to put the record out of reach forever. Fate was to step in at that event when a Spectator who refused to back away from the Course, despite the best efforts of the Marshals, was struck by a Competitor and broke his leg. The RAC Stewards stopped the meeting and within a week declined to Grant any further Permits for high-speed contests on Public Roads in the UK. And that was that – until a change in the Road Traffic Act allowed Kop Hill Climb to come roaring back. Today it’s no longer a Competition, but a moving Celebration of the History of the Car & the Motorcycle. A chance to marvel at over 100 years of Pioneering, Mechanical progress powered by Steam, Petrol, Electricity, eccentricity & innovation.