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St Mary, Drayton Beauchamp, Buckinghamshire

(51°47′54″N, 0°41′41″W)
Drayton Beauchamp
SP 901 119
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Ron Baxter
07 August 2006

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Feature Sets

Drayton Beauchamp is on the eastern edge of central Buckinghamshire in the Domesday hundred of Yardley. It lies on the Hertfordshire border, just W of Tring and 5 miles E of Aylesbury. The land here rises to the Chilterns in the S, and the village is scattered for about a mile along an ancient trackway (the holloway) that runs SE from Puttenham to join the Roman road from Aylesbury to Tring (now the A41). The church is to the W of the village street, more or less at the southern end, and alongside it to the NW is a moated site. The expansion of Tring, and the construction of the Aston Clinton bypass, have effectively enclosed the village in a web of development. A branch of the Grand Union canal that ran through the village is now piped, but can still cause flooding. There are plans to reopen the canal as a navigable waterway.

St Mary’s has an aisled and clerestoried nave, chancel and W tower, externally of the late 15thc. The nave has 4-bay aisles with 14thc arcades incorporating 13thc piers and capitals at the W end (according to RCHME). The clerestory and aisle windows are late 15thc, and the N doorway is under a 15thc porch, while the 15thc S doorway is blocked. The chancel windows are late-15thc and the chancel contains, on the N, the imposing monument to William Lord Cheyne, Viscount Newhaven (d.1728) by William Woodman. The seated figure of his wife Gertrude (d.1732) was added by William Woodman the younger. The tower has a tall SE turret and diagonal W buttresses. The tower arch is 13thc, but the tower itself is 15thc. Nave and tower are of flint with decorative ashlar blocks; these become chequerwork in the tower. The chancel is of grey ashlar with bands of ironstone. The church was restored in 1867 by William Slater and Richard Cromwell Carpenter of London, and repaired in 1951-52 by H. J. Stribling of Slough. The only evidence for a Romanesque church on the site is the arcaded font.


The manor of Drayton Beauchamp was held by Mainou the Breton, and by Helgot from him in 1086. It consisted of 6 hides and 3 virgates, with meadow for 3 ploughs and woodland for 200 pigs. It had been held by Aelfric, a thegn of King Edward, before the Conquest. A second holding of 1½ hides was held by William fitzNigel from the Count of Mortain in 1086. This also included meadow for 1 plough and woodland for 25 pigs, and had been held by a widow from Beorhtric before the Conquest. A third holding here was held by Leofsige from the Count of Mortain, and was assessed at 1½ hides and 2 parts of a virgate with meadow for 1 plough and woodland for 25 pigs, and had been held by Wicga, a man of King Edward, before the Conquest.

The overlordship of the main manor passed to Mainou’s descendants, the Wolvertons, remaining part of their barony until the 17thc. The subtenancy was in the hands of William de Beauchamp by 1225, remaining in the Beauchamp family until the death of another William in 1312. It passed to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Ralph de Wedon, who was still holding it in 1346. Subsequent holders were Mary, Countess of Norfolk and her son John de Cobham (1349), and Thomas Cheyne (1364). It remained in the Cheyne family until the 18thc.

The church was first recorded when William de Beauchamp presented to the rectory, c.1221. The advowson descended with the manor. The parish is now in the benefice of Aston Clinton with Buckland and Drayton Beauchamp.





Pevsner describes the font as Norman, and VCH as 12thc. The fictive architecture of the arcading points to a date near the beginning of the century for the bowl, while the support and its water-holding base looks like an addition of c1200.


N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings ofEngland: Buckinghamshire.London1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 287-88.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in theCountyofBuckingham. Volume 1 (south).London1912, 135-37.

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. III (1925), 341-45.