"Dwellers in the Valley of the Oaks"

Ackhampstead Chapel Reconstructed as St Mary le Moor Cadmore End

History of Ackhampstead

Achamstede is an Olde English word meaning Oak Homestead. Ackhampstead the "lost village" about three quarters of a mile South of Lane End, had it's 800 year old Church taken down stone by stone and rebuilt at Cadmore End.

In 1847 it was decided that the population of Cadmore End, which had grown to 114, twice that of Ackhampstead, warranted the removal of the Chapel to Cadmore End. A small copse of trees has grown over the remains of the flint walls of the Chapel and the only visible reminder (in Jun 1998) was a small wooden Cross with the name Ackhampstead on it.

Ackhampstead, while geographically separate, was a part of the Hundred of Lewknor in a detached part of Oxon known as Lewknor Up Hill. It was maintained and used by the Vicar of Lewknor who was to hold services there every second Sunday and on the Feast of the Apostles.

It is possible that the Brinckhursts founded the Chapel though this is sometimes disputed. The Brickhurst appear to have remained Catholic as they were often before the Sessions on a charge of Recussancy.

On 20 Mar 1711/12 John Brinckhurst Lord of the Manor of Ackhampstead appointed John Oxlade, Labourer of Lane End,Great Marlow as his Game Keeper. In October 1711 John Oxlade is described as Game-Keeper to Sir Richard Grenville Esq. of Widmer Estate

Lewknor Uphill CP/ExP was a Civil Parish in the counties of Buckinghamshire (Ancient) and Oxfordshire (Ancient), in England. It was abolished in 1885. It was also known as Lewknor Up Hill. It was part of Wycombe

PLU/RegD (from 1866); Desborough Hundred; Lewknor Hundred; Wycombe RSD; and Lewknor AP/CP (until 1866).

In 1831 the Parliamentary Borough of Great Marlow incorporated the parishes of Little Marlow, Bisham and Medmenham, and until 1867 Great Marlow also included what is now the Parish of Lane End. In 1867 Marlow's entitlement to two Members of Parliament was reduced to one. In 1885, an area northwest of Chisbridge Cross, called "Ackhampstead", until then a detached part of the Parish of Lewknor in Oxfordshire, became part of Great Marlow. At the same time Marlow lost its right to its own MP, becoming part of the constituency of High Wycombe.

The Widmer Farm Oxlades owned or held land at Chisbridge Cross and Lane End as late as 1822 when Thomas Johnathan Oxlade (1796-1822) left the properties to his sisters Ann, the widow of Henry Palmer of Jamacia and Elizabeth, the wife of John Meadows. The properties were sold soon after.

Whether these were family holdings from previous generations or purchased randomly later is unclear at this stage. They were not mentioned in the ten parchment page Will of Johnathan Oxlade (1710-1771) though could have been purchased from kinsmen later.

Will of Thomas Oxlade(1749-1814) made 8 Nov 1814.

Real Estate Recorded:

1.Munday Dean Farm

2.20 acres of Woodland in Great Marlow Parish

3. Cottages in Town of Marlow in occupation of C.IRVING : BAINES: COX: STROUD

4. 2 Freehold Cottages at Chisbridge Cross

5. Freehold cottage Moor Common (just South of Ditchfield, by Moor End Common near Frieth S.R.)

6. 6 Freehold Cottages at Lane End

7. 3 more Freehold Cottages at Lane End

8. 2 Freehold Cottages near "Green Dragon" in Little Marlow.

9. 2 Freehold Cottages at Wooburn Green Parish


Ackhampstead by Colin Bell

ACKHAMPSTEAD is a name which will be unfamiliar to many people today. Few could pin-point its location in the Chiltern countryside. Yet in the middle of the last century, regular services were held at the chapel there, reportedly attracting congregations of 80 individuals from Ackhampstead itself and the neighbouring parish of Hambleden. Indeed the future of the chapel being somewhat of a cause celebre in a hearing at the Consistorial Court of the Diocese of Oxford before Dr Phillimore, Chancellor of the Diocese. At that time, the area known as Ackhampstead had a population of 58, living in two farm houses and ten cottages.

Today there are few signs that a chapel once existed there. The ruins lie about 3/4 mile south of Lane End and can be reached by footpaths (either GM26 from Finnemore or LE19 from Moor Common). From Moor Common a track leads from the Lane End to Frieth road into a broad meadow with the woodland of Moor Copse away to the right. This path leads directly to Ackhampstead, crossing a farm track immediately before continuing over a stile and entering the site of the chapel, passing along one side of a small copse of trees. These have grown over the remains of the flint walls of the chapel, now largely buried by earth. Brambles, ivy and holly have spread extensively over the site. Dog's mercury, violets and lesser celandines carpet the ground in springtime. One tree carries a small wooden cross with the name ACKHAMPSTEAD on it, the only visible reminder of what this place is called.

Why was a chapel originally built at Ackhampstead? Whom did it serve and what happened to it eventually? To answer these questions, we need to look back at the development of agriculture, settlement patterns in the Thames Valley and the Chiltern Hills, and demographic changes through the centuries.

In the 9th and 10th centuries, land units established in Anglo-Saxon England had evolved into a number of `Hundreds'. Each Hundred was an administrative and military area,...

Per kind favour Rachel Cushing

Site of Ackhampstead Chapel

Oxlade descendant Frederick SMITH on Chapel Site


nominally rated as 100 hides. One of these units was Lewknor Hundred, composed of a number of adjoining parishes (Chinnor, Crowell, Aston Rowant and Lewknor). These parishes are quite long (6-8 miles) but relatively narrow. This Hundred extends from the Oxfordshire Vale in a southeasterly direction, across the Chiltern escarpment and into the hills.

It was common practice to move livestock from lowland regions up to summer pasture in the hills. Upland areas became a part of the Hundred, although in some cases they were often geographically separate from the main bulk of it. Ackhampstead originated as one such area, being situated in a detached part of Oxfordshire known as Lewknor-up-Hill. A chapel was built here to meet the spiritual needs of the inhabitants, but responsibility for the maintenance and use of this chapel remained with the vicar of Lewknor.

Ackhampstead ('Hachamstede') is mentioned as part of Lewknor in a history of the Abbey of Abingdon. This recorded the granting of the ownership of Lewknor to the Abbey by King Edward the Confessor and Queen Eadgitha in 1052. The name is probably a derivation from the Old English `achamstede' which meant ,oak-homestead'. "'

It is not known when the chapel was built. The earliest reference dates from 1242 when a chapel at Ackhampstead was mentioned in the deanery of Aston (Rowant). At that time, the vicar or curate of Lewknor was required to hold a service in Ackhampstead chapel every Sunday and on the feast of the apostles.

Tradition says '°' that the chapel was built in the 14th century by the monks of Kenilworth for the use of their swineherds who came to fatten their pigs on the acorns in the beech forests at certain seasons. 'Acorn' originates from an Old English word which meant the fruit of trees such as oak or beech. Only in later times did it come to mean specifically the fruit of the oak tree.

The tithes and rights belonging to Ackhampstead were recoeded in an inspeximus dated 20 November, 1412. This is a legal conveyance and charter in which the author affirms he has inspected an earlier charter, and which sets out the salient details of this. Ackhampstead was described therein as a district having its own tithes and for which there was to be a chaplain at all times.

We can be certain that services were held at Ackhampstead over a period of at least 600 years and probably significantly longer than this. A register of landed property ('terrier') signed by the Vicar, chapelwardens and some of the inhabitants, and dated January 1685, tells how `in ancient times' there was a family in the district of the name of Brinckhurst, who are supposed to have been the founders of the chapel. Other evidence suggests this is unlikely to have been the case so perhaps the terrier refers to a rebuilding of the chapel, not its original construction.

Dr Wyatt, in his history of Ackhampstead described the state of the chapel ruins in recent times, and referred to a Royal Commission on Historic Monuments from 1912 which described the site thus: `Only low remains of the flint walls are visible. The building is said to have been rectangular with lancet windows.' As to its size, the chapel at Frieth, consecrated in 1849, was reportedly only six or seven feet larger than that at Ackhampstead. Other than this sketchy information, little is known about the structure. The last curate at the chapel, the Rev Frederick Menzies commented that it had no architectural interest.

By the 19th century, the population changes had been such that the population at Cadmore End, another part of Lewknor-up-Hill, was 114, more than twice that of Ackhampstead. The Vicar of Lewknor had arranged with the vicar of Hambleden that he would provide a curate for services at Ackhampstead.This was the afore-mentioned Menzies. Congregations at Ackhampstead were satisfactory in number - a total of 80-90 individuals would be today regarded as excellent in many parishes. However, most came from the parish of Hambleden, a few from other parishes and only about 20 from Lewknor-up-Hill. Evidently, the chapel was serving more the spiritual needs, of residents from elsewhere than those of Lewknor-up-Hill, for whom it had originally been built. Recognition of this situation and the fact that there was no church at Cadmore End, led to a vestry meeting being held at Cadmore End on 12 August, 1847.

At this, it was resolved to apply to the Lord Bishop of Oxford for a faculty for the removal of the chapel from Ackhampstead and for the rebuilding of it at Cadmore End. Some prominent local landowners and some parishioners of Ackhampstead were opposed to this suggestion. A case was therefore brought before a Consistorial Court of the Diocese of Oxford, o April, 1849. This would determine whether a chapel built for the use of inhabitants of a particular district could or should be demolished against their wishes.

One objection was that the projected move would leave the residents of Ackhampstead in the same situation as those at Cadmore End presently were in. Mr R R Dean, barrister-at-lave brother of the then Vicar of Lewknor appeared for the proposers and responded that a new church at Frieth was abou to be consecrated and those people from Ackhampstead who wished to do so could conveniently worship there.

Per kind favour Rachel Cushing

Last changed: 28/12/2006, 02:27:22