Greneburga, Grenesberga (xi cent.); Greneburne
(xiii cent.); Grenesbyri, Greneborewe (xiv cent.);
Granborough (xvi cent.).
This parish covers 1,580 acres, of which 139 are
arable and 1,223 permanent grass, (fn. 1) and is well watered
by Claydon Brook and another stream which joins it.
The soil is clayey loam with gravel, with a subsoil of
clay and marl, the chief crops being wheat, oats,
and beans. The borders of the parish lie from 300 ft.
to 350 ft. above the ordnance datum, but at the
centre the ground is somewhat higher, and the village
stands on this ridge. It is built around the main
road in rather a straggling fashion; part of it, on a
road branching off at right angles towards Swanbourne,
is known as Green End. At the south-east of the
village stands the church. There is a Wesleyan chapel
dating from 1871.
Several of the cottages have 17th-century brick
chimney stacks and large open fireplaces. The
Sovereign Inn may date from c. 1600; its best
feature is the large chimney stack, and several rooms
have old ceiling beams.
It may be noted that in the parish is a mound
called Millknob Hill, about 4 ft. high by 60 ft. in
diameter. Whether it was made for a mill, or is a
tumulus adapted to such a use, can only be settled
Bigging Farm, taking its name from the manor,
was standing near the bridge joining the Grandborough
and Winslow fields as late as 1861. (fn. 2) A chapel near
the farm is said to have been pulled down about
1680. In a large hollow in one of its beams was
carved a cross before which the parish processions
halted on Rogation Monday. (fn. 3)
An Inclosure Act for the parish was passed in
1796. (fn. 4)
During the reign of Edward the
Confessor, Leofstan, Abbot of St. Albans,
obtained 5 hides at GRANDBOROUGH
from Egelwyn Niger, or Egelwyn 'ye Swarte,' and
Wynflaeda his wife. (fn. 5) In 1086 these were held as a
manor by the abbot and belonged to the demesne of
the monastery, (fn. 6) the descent being identical with that
of Winslow (fn. 7) (q.v.), which was likewise held by the
abbey in 1086. The present lord is Mr. W. SelbyLowndes.
St. Albans Abbey. Azure a saltire or.
Lowndes. Argent fretty azure with bezants at the crossings of the free and a quarter gules charged with a leopard's head or.
As in Winslow the question on what tenure the
abbey held Grandborough was debated in the 14th
century and settled in favour of the abbot.
The first mention of BIGGING (La Bygginge,
xiv cent.) occurs in 1302–3, when the Abbot of
St. Albans held half a knight's fee in 'Biggeng
cum Greneborewe,' (fn. 8) but it seems to have had a
separate identity as a manor as early as 1330 when
it was demised by the abbot to Simon Fraunceys. (fn. 9)
In 1491 this manor was granted (fn. 10) on a fifty-year lease
to Richard Empson for an annual rent of 100s., and
later leased in 1533 to John Duncombe, his heirs
and assigns for thirty-one years. (fn. 11) It was included in
the life grant made of Grandborough, Winslow and
other manors to Richard Breme and Margery his
wife after the Dissolution, (fn. 12) but it seems that John
Duncombe and, afterwards, Benedict Lee, who was
apparently his assignee, continued to farm Bigging
under these grantees. (fn. 13) In 1557 the reversion of the
manor was granted to Benedict Lee and his heirs. (fn. 14)
It was held in 1582 by John Arden, who granted it
in that year to Thomas Lee, and later to Peter
Dormer, his brother-in-law, to be held in trust for four
years, the profits to go to the payment of Arden's
debts. (fn. 15) Soon after, Dormer having died, John Arden
brought a suit against the executor, John Chester.
He stated that his brother-in-law before his death,
finding that he had enough money in hand for the
discharge of all debts, had, before the four years were
up, allowed Arden to enter the manor. John Chester,
however, denied that the entry was made with
Dormer's permission and stated, moreover, that the
debts were not yet settled, offering to show the
Court all his accounts in proof of this. (fn. 16) It is not
clear how Bigging came again to the Lees, but it was
held in 1624 by Sir Thomas Lee, kt., (fn. 17) and sold by
him in that year to William Abel, (fn. 18) from whom it
passed in 1628 to Emanuel Scrope, Earl of Sunderland. (fn. 19) He held Hambleden Manor (q.v.) with
which Bigging descended (fn. 20) until 1678, in which year
it was conveyed to Sir Robert Clayton and John
Morris. (fn. 21) There is no further record of this manor,
but Lipscomb states that it came to the Lowndes
family with the main manor, (fn. 22) in which it was
The church of ST. JOHN BAPTIST
consists of a chancel measuring internally
20 ft. 6 in. by 14 ft. 6 in., a nave 43 ft.
by 21 ft., and a west tower 9 ft. 6 in. by 9 ft.
The nave, dating from early in the 14th century,
is the oldest part of the church; the chancel was
rebuilt at the end of the same century by Abbot
John de la Moote of St. Albans (1396–1401) and the
tower, which is faced with ashlar, dates from c. 1500,
the walls of the nave having been heightened at the
same time. The church was restored in 1881 by
Sir Gilbert Scott.
The east window of the chancel dates from the
rebuilding, and has three cinquefoiled lights with
tracery over, and the north-east and south-east
windows, of two lights, are of the same work. In
the north wall is a 15th-century doorway, while at
the south-west is a low-side window, a single trefoiled
light of earlier style than the rest of the chancel,
and probably contemporary with the nave. The
chancel arch also is of this period, but its moulded
half-octagonal capitals and bases have been reworked
about the time of the rebuilding of the chancel.
The piscina recess, with a cinquefoiled head, is
original, and in the north wall is a locker closed
by an oak door dated 1735. The communion table
is inscribed 'Annis Hopper, 1625,' and has turned
legs and moulded rails; there is also a good 17th
century chair in the chancel. The roof is probably
of late 15th-century date, with trussed rafters and
a moulded plate.
The nave is lighted from the north-east and southeast by three-light windows of late 15th-century date,
inserted to give more light to the nave altars.
Both replace original early 14th-century windows, of
which a west jamb is left in the north wall, and an
east jamb, with an angle piscina set in it, in the south
wall. The second window in the south wall retains
its original early 14th-century design, though its
stonework is nearly all modern or retooled. There
are north and south doorways in the nave of original
date with moulded jambs and heads, but much
repaired, and to the west of them are windows, that
in the north wall, c. 1450, of two trefoiled lights
under a square head, and that in the south wall of
the same type, much restored. The roof is of low
pitch, dating from the time when the walls were
heightened, and has a moulded tie-beam.
The tower is of three stages, with a south-west stair
and square-headed belfry windows of two trefoiled
lights below an embattled parapet. There is a west
doorway and over it a two-light window, all details
being very plain, and the tower arch is of two
chamfered orders with square jambs.
The church possesses a much-weathered alabaster
panel of the Crucifixion, of 15th-century date; it
was formerly built into the gable of a house in the
village. A far more unusual possession is a leaden
chrismatory, a rectangular case 6 in. long by 2 in.
deep by 23/8 in. wide, containing round receptacles for
the three oils, 'oleum sanctum,' 'oleum infirmorum,'
and 'chrisma.' Two of the three retain their lids,
to which are fastened hooks to lift the tow on which
the oil was administered; pieces of tow remain in
each receptacle. The case stood on small feet
modelled as lions, and had a gabled cover with openwork cresting, of which only fragments are preserved.
The chrismatory was found built into the east wall
of the nave, south of the chancel arch. On the
floor of the chancel is deposited a fragment of the
head of a late 15th-century fireplace. This was dug
up in Bigginfield. A black-letter Bible of 1615 is
preserved in a chest at the vicarage.
There are five bells and a sanctus; the treble by
Ellis Knight, 1637; the second, originally by
Richard Chandler, 1636, recast in 1887 by Mears
& Stainbank; the third by Robert Atton, 1623; and
the fourth of 1628 by the same founder. The tenor
is a 15th-century bell, perhaps by Roger Landon,
inscribed 'In multis annis resonet campana Iohannis,'
and the sanctus is blank, and of 17th-century date or
The plate consists of a silver cup of 1569, a
modern silver-gilt chalice and paten, and a modern
The registers begin in 1538.
The church of Grandborough was
held with the manor by the abbey
of St. Albans. In 1291 it is mentioned as a chapel appurtenant to the church of
Winslow. (fn. 23) The church was assessed at £8 in 1535, (fn. 24)
and a rent of £3 6s. 8d. was received from the vicarage,
the vicar being allowed a rebate of 20s. for purposes
of hospitality; he was, moreover, entitled to the
tithes of grain. (fn. 25) The rent from the vicarage was
paid after the Dissolution to the Crown, (fn. 26) in whom
the patronage was vested from that time until after
1865. (fn. 27) Between that date and 1870 it passed to
Sir Harry Verney, bart., of East Claydon, (fn. 28) who was
already impropriator of the great tithes and whose
grandson Sir Harry C. W. Verney, bart., is the
A life grant of the rectory was made to Richard
Breme and Margery in 1540. (fn. 29) A twenty-one years'
lease was made to Thomas Awdley, 'valet of the wet
larder,' in 1567, and in 1573 the reversion of the
rectory was granted in fee to Henry Wellby and
George Blythe and their heirs. (fn. 30) It had passed before
1613 to Robert Hoveden, whose nephew and heir
inherited the property at his death in 1614. (fn. 31) This
family also held the advowson of East Claydon, with
which property the rectorial tithes of Grandborough
appear to have since descended. (fn. 32)
In 1585–6 Queen Elizabeth granted to John
Walton and John Cresset two small closes in this
parish which had been formerly given for the maintenance of an obit in Grandborough Church. (fn. 33)
It is recorded in the Parliamentary
Returnsof 1786 thatadonorunknown
gave 8s. yearly for the benefit of poor
widows. The annuity is received from the rector of
Middle Claydon and distributed on 21 December in
Poor's Allotment.—In 1797, under the Inclosure
Act of this parish, 5 a. 2 r. 22 p. were awarded for
the poor in lieu of their right of cutting furze. The
land produces about £6 a year, the net income being
distributed in gifts of money.
Church Land.—The churchwardens are possessed
of about an acre of land, the rent of which, amounting to £2 13s. 6d., is applied towards the church