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St Mary the Virgin, Mentmore, Buckinghamshire

(51°52′10″N, 0°41′18″W)
SP 904 198
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Ron Baxter
04 August 2006

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Mentmore is in E central Buckinghamshire, 6 miles NE of Aylesbury, in the Domesday Hundred of Cottesloe. The village is now dominated by Mentmore Park, the house built by Joseph Paxton in the style of Wollaton Hall for Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild in 1850-55. The village of Mentmore is to the E of the estate, with the church at its W end, alongside the boundary of Mentmore Park. Mentmore Manor, an 18thc house, stands to the NE of the village. Mentmore is on rising land overlooking the broad arable and pasture land of the Vale of Aylesbury. Remains from the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods have been found here.

The church consists of a nave with aisles and clerestory and a S porch, a W tower and a chancel with a N vestry, all refaced in small, regular blocks of a yellowish brown ashlar. The original nave aisles dated from that late 12thc, but only the capitals of the arcades remain, reused as bases to the present 14th-15thc arcade piers. These are clustered with castellated capitals. The aisle windows are of c1300 stylistically, but largely replaced; the clerestorey windows are 15thc. The chancel has 15thc windows too, and is partly of that date, but was largely rebuilt in G. H. Stokes’s enthusiastic restoration of 1858 which also added the N vestry and the S porch. The W tower is 15thc, of a common Buckinghamshire type with a corner turret (here at the SE) rising higher than the main parapet. The nave pier bases and the c1200 font are the only features recorded here.


Mentmore was held by Earl Hugh ofChesterin 1086, and by Robert from him. This enormous manor, assessed at 18 hides, was held by Eadgifu the Fair before the Conquest. The tenancy-in-chief was in the hands of Osbert Martel before 1167, and passed to Adulf de Braci before 1170. Adulf’s daughter Mascelin married William de Cauntelow, who held the manor in the 13thc, and at this time it was said to be a member of the manor of Eaton Bray. In 1273 it passed by marriage to the family of de la Zouche where it remained until Sir John of that ilk was attainted by Henry VII in 1485.

The subtenancy passed from the Robert of Domesday to the families of Hugh Bussell and William fitzMiles in the 12thc. It was held by Roger de Argentein and his wife Maud, perhaps a Bussell, in 1202 and it stayed in this family until the middle of the 13thc. In 1258 it passed, again by marriage of a female heir, to the family of Stretley where it remained until the failure of the male line, when the daughter and heir Elizabeth Wotton sold the manor toRalph Lane, who is recorded holding it in 1503.

The church was given by Hugh Bussell and William fitzMiles to the priory of St Bartholomew,Smithfieldc1200, a gift confirmed by Henry III in 1253, and in 1202 Roger de Argentein gave up his claim to any part of the advowson.

The parish is now in the benefice of Cheddington with Mentmore and Marsworth.


Interior Features






The font and reused capitals date from the years around 1200, and it may not be a coincidence that the church passed to the priory of St Bartholomew at this time. VCH dates the font and (by implication) the reused capitals to the 13thc.


N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire.London1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 472-73.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 2 (north).London1913, 195-96.

Victoria County History: London. I (1909), 475-80. (on St Bartholomew’s,Smithfield).

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. III (1925), 397-410.