Ashendon pre-1800


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Ashendon pre 1800

Today date

Tuesday 1st December 2020

An unknown knight

Ashendon is eight miles from Aylesbury. Lipscomb declares it to be the Essendene of Alfred the Great’s battle with the Danes in 872, and right gladly would we associate our county with the most heroic and picturesque figure in the early history of our island. [Other sources place this battle in Ashdown in Wessex] But certainly the Danes committed great depredations here in the tenth century. In the fourteenth century Ashendon was held by Richard Earle of Arundel, whose execution for high treason took place in 1397, and whose death was accompanied by the additional scandal and tragedy that his son-in-law, Thomas Mowbray, Earl Marshal of England, assisted in binding up his eyes. The church is delightfully situated on a hill. It is evidently old, and has not been “churchwardenised” to use a favourite word for “restoration” that I find in an old county history. We note the squire’s high pew, and the battered figure of a knight in armour, near the altar, which has been whitewashed with the rest of the church. There has been much speculation as to the knight’s identity. It has been assigned to one of the family of Cressy, ancient Lords here. We shall never know. There were formerly many brasses in this church, but all have gone. The theft of brasses in the past might half excuse the locking-up of churches, so common in this county, and so irritating to the traveller, did we not know that many were disposed of by the vicars. The guide-books make very little of Ashendon - one of them does not mention the place - but its elevated structure, the cluster of thatched cottages, and the time-worn church, make it worth a visit.

'Highways & Byways in Buckinghamshire' by Clement Shorter

The Knight in Armour

Ashendon. Crowning a hill in the Vale of Aylesbury, it is set in a delightful pastoral scene, with the Chilterns looking romantic on the horizon. Below and around the Norman church cluster thatched cottages shaded by trees. The church tower, its little windows shuttered with old oak, is 15th century, but a deeply splayed window and a doorway which no longer opens are Norman. So is the font, with a 17th century cover. There is a handsome arcade 700 years old, and an exceptionally wide chancel arch. Five big corbel heads of varied features hold up the medieval roof of the aisle. In a medieval recess, over which are two oak shields from the old rood screen, lies a 13th century knight clad in chain armour, still about to draw his sword. He is believed to have been one of the Cheyndutt family. The pulpit with its raised panels, the altar table, a high chair in the chancel, and a long oak chest are all Jacobean, and in the vestry is a carved stand at which parsons have washed their hands for 300 years.

'The King's England' by Arthur Mee

Ashendon in the Domesday Book



Walter holds POLLICOT himself. It answers for 10 hides
Land for 8 ploughs. Two men-at-arms hold from Walter.
In lordship 4 ploughs.

13 villagers with 1 smallholder have 4 ploughs.
slavesmeadow for 8 ploughs.

The total value is and was £6; before 1066 £7.

          Alric son of Goding held 5 hides of this manor, and three
brothers held 5 hides; they could sell to whom they would.

In ASHENDON Richard holds 8 hides from Walter.
Land for 6 ploughs; in lordship 2.

villagers with 4 smallholders have 4 ploughs.
slavesmeadow for 6 ploughs.

Total value £3; when acquired £4; before 1066 100s.
Three brothers held this manor; they could sell to whom they would.



In ASHENDON Vicking holds 8 hides from Miles. Land for 2 ploughs;
they are there, with

Meadow for 2 ploughs.

The value is and always was 30s.
          He held it himself before 1066; he could sell.

Source: Domesday Book, Volume 13, Buckinghamshire, ed. John Morris, Phillimore, Chichester, UK, 1978.


The records show that before the Conquest, Pollicot was owned by Alric, son of Goding, who owned landsthroughout Buckinghamshire. The lands around Ashendon were shared between “three brothers” and Vicking. After the Conquest, Vicking rented his land from Walter.

WALTER GIFFARD - Domesday commissioner; keeper of Windsor Castle; Earl of Buckingham (1100); died 1102. Holdings in 10 counties. It appears that Walter “The Elder” De Gifford, Lord of Longueville,accompanied William at the Battle of Hastings and was one of the knights who killed King Harold. After the battle, Walter became one of William’s tenants-in-chief. However, he died in France in 1084 and since the Domesday Book was compiled in 1085, the Walter Giffard referred to here is his son, who was the first Earl of Buckingham.

MILES CRISPIN - Related to Gilbert Crispin, Abbot of Westminster. Married Maud, daughter of Roger d'Oilly. Inherited Castle at Wallingford on death of Roger. Lands became Honour of Wallingford. Holdings in Berkshire, Surrey and five other neighbouring counties, including Buckinghamshire.


Battle of Ashendon

The place [Ashendon] appears to have been of some importance in Saxon times, as it is frequently mentioned, according to Browne Willis, in ancient chronicles. About the year 872, the Danes suffered a most severe defeat here by an army led by King Ethelred and Alfred his brother, who afterwards threw up entrenchments and earth-forts around it, and so for some years prevented a recurrence of the evil [view poem by J. M. Neale]. In the year 1016, however, Eadnoth or Adnoth, Bishop of Dorchester (Oxon), formerly a Prior or Abbot of Ramsay, was slain in a battle with the Danes. This village and all the neighbourhood was then in the diocese of Dorchester, and not for some centuries afterwards in that of Lincoln. It has lately, together with the whole of the County of Bucks, been placed under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford.

'Records of Bucks - Vol.1' (pp 134-135)

King Ethelred II

Ethelred II

also spelled Aethelred, byname Ethelred The Unready, or Aethelred Unraed.

b. 968?
d. April 23, 1016, Londonking of the English from 978 to 1013 and from 1014 to 1016. He was an ineffectual ruler who failed to prevent the Danes from overrunning England. The epithet "unready" is derived from unraed, meaning "evil counsel".

The son of King Edgar (ruled 959-975), Ethelred ascended the throne upon the assassination of his half brother King Edward the Martyr in March 978. Widespread suspicion that Ethelred may have had a part in the murder created much of the distrust and disloyalty that undermined his authority. Hence, there was no unified defense when the Danish invasions resumed in 980. Nearly all of the country was ravaged, and Ethelred's efforts to buy peace only made the invaders more rapacious. When they did begin to settle down in towns, Ethelred provoked further invasions by launching a massacre of Danish settlers (Nov. 13, 1002). By the end of 1013 the Danish king Sweyn I had been accepted as king in England, and Ethelred had fled to Normandy.

After Sweyn died in February 1014, Ethelred's council of advisers invited him to return to the throne on condition that he agree to satisfy their grievances. At the time of Ethelred's death in 1016, Sweyn's son Canute was ravaging England. Ethelred was succeeded by his son Edmund II Ironside (ruled 1016); one of his other sons ruled England as Edward the Confessor from 1042 to 1066.