Parsons Close & the Tithe Barn

Former Tithe Barn
The former Tithe Barn is in the centre of this photo (between Western Lodge and The Plough). Parsons Close was reached by a path to the right of the Barn, running past the trees.

The right to collect the tithes for Winslow was held by the Abbot of St Albans until 1539, but it was usually contracted out.

1396-1401 Gesta Abbatum iii 446
Also (the Abbot erected) a place for storing the tithes of the same office [the Chamberlain] at Wynselowe. The grange of the same in the manor there had been sold to one Richard Martyn for twelve pence demised annually in fee, and he [the Abbot] redeemed it for eighteen marks, paid to the same for the same. In that place he rebuilt a very good grange, and walled it with very strong earth walls. Hence afterwards he sold or demised the tithes more dearly.

The grange referred to was probably at Biggin, but in the 16th century (if not earlier) it seems that the tithe barn and a close went together, probably meaning Parson's Close and the adjacent barn.

1534    Abbot of St Albans demised the Rectory of Winslow to John Boston with all fruits and tenths of corn and hay, within the parish of Winslow and fields there, and in the hamlet of Shipton, with a barn and close, for the term of forty years, at the annual rent of fourteen pounds.

1573    Similar lease from the Crown to David de Leye, goldsmith, mentions "barn and close"; 21 years; rent £14.

1595    Similar lease to Henry Best, same terms.

1606    Similar lease to Sir John Fortescue and Richard Tomlyne mentions "the tithe barn and close of pasture to the same belonging … late belonging to St Albans Monastery".

1619    Lease of Swanbourne Rectory and. Winslow Rectory to Lawrence Whitaker and Henry Price. Winslow Rectory rental £14 p.a.

1660    Court of Survey held by the Duke of Buckingham, having regained ownership of the Manor of Winslow, mentions "a close called the Parsonage Close and thereon is a barn and part of ye said barn is lately converted into a tenement …"

Parson's Close and the Vicarage
Early 20th-century view of the Vicarage from Parson's Close; the wall in front of the Vicarage is still there

Ownership of the manor and the tithes was reunited until the right to collect the great tithes was extinguished at the enclosure of Winslow in 1767.

1703    Notes made by William Lowndes  (Centre for Bucks Studies D/LO/4/1)

Writings concerning the Mannor Town & Rectory of Winslow with the Parsonage Close and those Eight Acres which were layd to the Mannor.

Map showing Parsons Close and barn29 Feb 1703
2 acr(es) and a Barn in the parsonage Close
8 acres lying dispersedly in Winslow Field
The Manor of Winslow cum membris  
The Rectory impropriate of Winslow and Shipton
The Town of Winslow with the Fairs & Market
                                £4900  0  0        (paid to) Nich Goodwin et al
These are all let together to Robt Gibbs at an old rent of 220 li p(er) annu(m)

Mem. 7
Then Charles Twitty covenants with Mr Richard HiIl that he hath made no Incumbrance Except a lease and Release dated 21st & 22nd Feb 1699 of a tenement called Motehall in Winslow In the Use of Richard Big and his wife and other uses.

William Lowndes rebuilt the Tithe Barn in 1722-3 (see his accounts) at a cost of over £200, on the same site as before. According to Pevsner, he used part of the old building: "The alterations can be seen on the front: the early C18 timber cross-windows on the l. belong to the new part, the r. ones are cut into the brickwork of the barn, with blocked ventilation slits above. Some C17 mullioned timber windows at the back.". See photo below.

1725 Manor court
Boundary dispute about "the Ground of ... Robert Lowndes now in the occupation of William Gibbs adjoyning to the Vicaridge Garden & Orchard of Winslowe". The jurors "say that from the upper Pillaster to the lower Corner of Mr Edmonds [=the Vicar] Sumerhouse of his s(ai)d Garden in Winslowe aforesaid is ninety four feet in length, and that the said Pillaster doth stand three feet within the Ground of the said Robert Lowndes in the occupation of the said William Gibbs, and that the lower end of the said sumer house of the said Mr Edmonds doth stand five feet within the Ground of the said Robert Lowndes in the occupac(i)on of the said W(illia)m Gibbs".

1767    Enclosure Award
Parsonage Close mentioned in list of old enclosures belonging to William Lowndes.

After Enclosure the Tithe Barn was no longer needed for its original purpose, and was converted to other uses. According to Clear (1894, 118), it was used as the "head quarters" for one of the "big lumbering Stage Waggons, drawn by four horses" - either Thomas Rogers' stage waggons sold in 1781 or the Buckingham & Winslow Butter Waggons sold by Thomas Ingram in 1812. It later became a hunting box whose regular occupants were a groom and his family.

1795   1-2 Dec
Lowndes family settlement mentions "all that the rectory or parsonage impropriate of Winslow aforesaid with the appurtenances in the said County of Buckingham with the close called the parsonage close there and one Messuage then sometime since erected on the said Parsonage Close with the appurtenances and all tythes of or belonging to the said Rectory in Winslow and Shipton ..."

1844: Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News, 24 Feb
  DISGUSTING EXHIBITION.- On Monday last, a pugilistic encounter took place in Parson’s Close, Winslow, between Alfred Morecraft and Leonard Baldwin, of that town, for half-a-crown.  After fighting a few rounds, Morecraft was declared the victor.

1845 Bucks Gazette, 3 May
On Friday last, two lectures were delivered at Winslow, by Mr. Albert Pennington, under the patronage of W. Selby Lowndes, Esq. and the Winslow Book Society.   The first lecture was in the morning on astronomy, illustrated by transparent Diagrams, illuminated by the oxy-hydrogen light, and succeeded by an exhibition of dissolving views 50 feet in circumference, and a powerful oxy-hydrogen microscope,- The second lecture was delivered in the evening, and the same subjects continued with similar exhibitions, but with different views and illustrations.   The Tithe Barn was commodiously fitted up for the occasion, and brilliantly lighted with gas.  The numerous and respectable audiences assembled at both lectures testified, in the warmest manner, their approbation of the intellectual treat which had been prepared for them, and much admired the beauty of the dissolving views, and the marvellous power of the microscope.   Most of the influential families in the neighbourhood were present, including W Selby Lowndes, Esq., Sir Harry and Lady Verney and family, P. Dauncey, Esq., and Mrs. Dauncey, the Revds. W. W. McCreight, M. Kerr, E. N. Young, S. Wright, and families, all of whom expressed themselves much gratified.   Mr. Pennington’s apparatus is of first-rate description, and was worked with perfect accuracy throughout, and is well adapted to illustrate his highly interesting and instructive lectures.

1851 Census
Horn Street

Sarah Egleton Servant in charge of house unm 36 House servant b. Winslow
Margaret Whichello Charwoman unm 61 Charwoman b. Odiham, Hants

1857    Rate Book
Jackson Esq & Reynolds
House & Land.
4s 4½d. (2d. in £)

Tithe Barn and Parsons Close
View looking south-east across Parsons Close to the former Tithe Barn, with added stabling

1859    Rate Book
Jackson T. Esq
House etc.
R.V. £26  5  0     
6s 7d (3d in £)
[N.B. Jackson later crossed out and Villars inserted]

1861 Census
Horn Street

William Ann Trew Wife mar 40 Groom's wife b. St George's Hanover Square, London
Emily J. Trew Daughter   15 Scholar b. Lowe, Warws
Eleanor M. Trew Daughter   13 Scholar b. St George's Hanover Square, London
Samuel Trew Son   11 Scholar b. St George's Hanover Square, London
John Frost Servant unm 25 Groom's helper b. Paulerspury, Northants

1861    Rate Book
Villers Hon Mrs         
House etc.
R.V. £26  5  0    
6s 7d

1863    Rate Book
Villers Hon Mrs          House etc R.V. €£26  5  0     6s 7d

1865    Lot 12 in sale of Lowndes estate
Large house and premises in Winslow with capital stabling and loose boxes fitted up for a complete hunting establishment let to Mrs Villiers
[N.B. mentions indenture of 1795]

The premises were bought by David Thomas Willis the solicitor.

1871 Census
Horn Street

William Trew Head mar 52 Groom b. South Weild, Essex
Ann Trew Wife mar 49 Groom's wife b. London
Eleanor M. Trew Daughter unm 23 Dressmaker b. London
Clara Trew Daughter   8 Scholar b. Winslow

1877 Directory
Trew, William, Stud Groom to Lord William Osbourne

By 1881 the premises had been divided into two separate dwellings, occupied by employees of Mr Greaves of Western House.

1881 Census
Parsons Close

Austin Watson Head mar 33 Gardener b. Water Stratford
Maria M. do Wife mar 32 Gardener's wife b. Barton, Oxon
Ernest do Son   11 Errand boy b. Padbury
Clement do Son   9 Scholar b. Padbury
Frank do Son   6 Scholar b. Winslow
Clara do Daughter   4 Scholar b. Winslow
Charles do Son   2   b. Winslow
Louisa do Daughter   3m   b. Winslow
John Turney Head mar 34 Groom b. Hollingdon, Bucks
Rosetta do Wife mar 34 Groom's wife b. Winslow
Fanny do Daugher   9 Scholar b. Winslow
William do Son   5 Scholar b. Winslow

1891 Directory
Watson, Austin, gardener to G.R. Greaves Esq

1891 Census
Horn Street

Austin Watson Head mar 43 Gardener Domestic b. Water Stratford
Maria M. do Wife mar 42   b. Steeple Barton, Oxon
Clement do Son unm 19 Tailor b. Padbury
Clara do Daughter   14 Drapers Apprentice b. Winslow
Charles do Son   12 Grocers Apprentice b. Winslow
Louisa do Daughter   10 Scholar b. Winslow
George do Son   8 Scholar b. Winslow
William do Son   5 Scholar b. Winslow
Ellen do Daughter   2   b. Winslow
John Turney Head mar 41 Groom Domestic b. Hollingdon, Bucks
Rose do Wife mar 42 Groom's wife b. Winslow
William do Son   15 Errand boy b. Winslow
John Smith Nephew   3 Scholar b. West Bromwich

Former tithe barn
Part of the former Tithe Barn is now the Barn Studio. The original function is clear in this view from the rear.

1901 Census
Horn Street

Austin Watson Head mar 53 Gardener Domestic b. Water Stratford
Maria Margaret do Wife mar 52   b. Steeple Barton, Oxon
Ellen do Daughter   12   b. Winslow
Hubert Luing do Son   8   b. Winslow
John Turney Head wid 53 Stableman Domestic b. Winslow [sic]
John Smith Nephew   13 Drapers errand boy b. West Bromwich

1902: Buckingham Advertiser, 8 Nov
 TO HUNTING GENTLEMEN.- The Grafton Bicester, Whaddon Chase, and Rothschild’s Staghounds.  Gentlemen hunting with above packs, will find the best accommodation for their hunters at a first-class private Hunting Stables; large, roomy boxes, every attention.- Address, TURNEY, Stud Groom, Parson’s-close, Winslow, Bucks.

1911 Census
The Close (5 rooms in first house, 4 in second)

Austin Watson Head mar 63 Gardener Domestic b. Water Stratford
Maria do Wife mar 62 married 42 years, 10 children (9 alive) b. Steeple Barton, Oxon
Ellen do Daughter   22   b. Winslow
Robert Turney Head mar 52 General Labourer for Butcher b. Hollingdon, Bucks
Sarah Turney Wife mar 53 married 29 years, 3 children all alive b. Winslow
Albert Robert Turney Son   10 School b. Winslow

1915: Assessment (TNA, IR58/2349)
Situation                                  Parson’s Close     
Description                               House
Gross Value      Buildings £9     Rateable Value £7 - 5
Occupier                                   Austin Watson
Owner                                      Mrs Ellen Mary Greaves, Winslow
Interest of Owner                     Freehold
Occupier’s tenancy,  Term         Tenant at will (Service)
Outgoings -  Land Tax, 18/-(including 74 & 380)     paid by  Owner
Who pays (a) Rates and Taxes (b) Insurance         }
Who is liable for repairs                                          }              Owner        
Former Sales  Dates                         None
Owner’s Estimate Gross Value    Small & Barker
Site Value Deductions Claimed    Yes
Particulars, description and note made on inspection
Brick & Slate Cottage
3 bedrooms & 3 rooms down & W.C. & pantry & 1 attic
            .180 [acre]       29 poles
Valuation – Market Value of Fee Simple in possession of whole property in its present condition    [red] With 72 [see Western House]
Situation                                  Parsons Close     
Description                               House
Gross Value      Buildings £9     Rateable Value £7 - 5
Occupier                                   John Turney
Owner                                      Mrs Ellen Mary Greaves, Western House, Winslow
Interest of Owner                     Tenant for Life Freehold
Occupier’s tenancy,  Term         Quarterly
Actual (or Estimated,) rent       £5
Outgoings -  Land Tax, £ 18/-(see 379)         paid by  Owner
Who pays (a) Rates and Taxes (b) Insurance         }
Who is liable for repairs                                          }              Owner        
Former Sales  Dates                         No Sale
Owner’s Estimate Gross Value    Smith & Barker
Particulars, description and note made on inspection
Brick & Slate Cottage
1 attic & 1 up & 1 down
W.C. & Barn
                     2 poles
Valuation – Market Value of Fee Simple in possession of whole property in its present condition       [red] With 72

1920 Directory
Watson, Austin, Head Gardener to Mrs Greaves, Horn Street

1930 Hilliers Almanac
Parsons Close 1 Mildon, G.P.
3 Elwood, Elizabeth

1937 Hilliers Almanac
Parsons Close 1 Rolfe, A
3 Elwood, Elizabeth
Stables, W.J. Smith Ltd.

1937 Sale of Mrs Greaves' estate including Western House (sale catalogue = Centre for Bucks Studies D/WIG/2/8/339)

The property did not reach the reserve at auction, but was sold privately to the Countess of Lathom in 1938, In 1946 Parson's Close was in the occupation of Mrs Aspinall at a rent of 6s/week.

1946: Buckingham Advertiser, 15 June

With early possession (except one cottage).
On the main Buckingham – Aylesbury bus route
Messrs. GEO.  WIGLEY  &  SONS
are instructed by the Countess of Lathom to sell by auction on MONDAY, JUNE 24th, 1946
At THE BELL HOTEL, Winslow, at 3 o’clock, in one lot.
The Valuable Accommodation Enclosure of about TWO ACRES, known as
having valuable road frontages to Vicarage Lane and Western Road
A PAIR of 16th Cent. Five-roomed COTTAGES well set back and screened from the road.

1952: Buckingham Advertiser, 22 Nov

Parsons Close Controversy

The decision of Winslow Rural District Council to use Parsons Close, Winslow’s historic unofficial recreation ground, as a housing site, is creating much controversy in Winslow.

The R.D.C. wants to purchase 1.24 acres of the Close to build 14 bungalows.  Parish Councillor H. R. Langley told the Inspector he thought it was “sacrilegious, asinine stupidity”.

The following were some of the other views at the Ministry inquiry:-

The owner of the Close, Mr. J. Killick, said that both the land and a nearby house and gardens were on the site of a 14th century Abbey.  It was good pasture land, let to a smallholder, and he was pleased that people used it for recreation.   Some years ago he had thought of giving the land to the Parish Council.

Mr. D. L. Morgan, the smallholder, called it “some of the finest turf in Winslow”.  Water was laid on for his cattle and there was shade for them.  Building on the land would mean selling some of his stock.

Parish Council Chairman, Councillor W. G. Chowles, said it had always been his desire to see it an official open space.

Children would have to cross the main road to get to the playing field and Parish Councillor M. I. Rudd was afraid that if the land was built on, children would play in the street.

Mr. C. E. Beane also pleaded for the present use to be continued.

Mr. A. H. Wigley, a surveyor, maintained there were five alternative sites in Winslow.

R.D.C. Views

Mr. R. G. Brown, Clerk to the R.D.C., said five other sites had been inspected but found to be unsuitable.  Parsons Close would be ideal, with no capital expenditure on roadworks, water mains or sewers.  There was a need for old people’s bungalows.

Rural District Councillor E. W. Peverill said he did not think it was good agricultural land.  Councillors A. Cox and A. R. Heritage also supported the Council’s plans.  The Council’s Architect, Mr. J. H. Cox, said the bungalows would harmonise with nearby Council houses.

1952: Buckingham Advertiser, 29 Nov

Winslow R.D.C. And Parsons Close

To the Editor,
Buckingham Advertiser

Dear Sir, - As you know, the matter of the Council erecting bungalows on Parsons Close is much to the fore here. In my opinion, bearing in mind the old traditions and other factors connected with this Close, it would be nothing short of vandalism to build on it. I enclose my “poetic” contribution to the subject, which possibly you can find room for in your next issue,

                   Yours faithfully,
                                      W. N. MIDGLEY,

Chesham House
High Street, Winslow.
28 November, 1952.

The Winslow Rural District Council like to throw about their weight
And cause us apoplexy or some such parlous state;
They brush aside objections and their energies engross
Towards putting up some bungalows on Parsons Close!
          On Parsons Close! On Parsons Close!
          They’ll erect them by the dozen,
          Or it may be by the gross,
          And start to put up bungle-ohs on Parsons Close!

In times gone by our “bruisers” used to fight upon the Close,
So the Council thought they’d emulate and have another dose,
They started their offensive and we countered with the right,
While the Parish Council stepped in to join the local fight.
          On Parsons Close! On Parsons Close!
          Our heart’s blood it will freeze,
          We’ll go wobbly at the knees
          If they start erecting bungle-ohs on Parsons Close!

We view the drab monotony of the Council houses near
And vow no “Act of Uniformity” should be repeated here.
We see the pleasant greensward and we say ‘twould be disgrace
To put the bungaloid excrescences upon this open space.
          On Parsons Close!  On Parsons Close!
          We shall dance about and shout
          And chase them round the roundabout
          If they start to put up bungle-ohs on Parsons Close!

Times, customs, manners change, as all too well we know,
Fair fields are taken from us – bricks and mortar rule the show;
But surely we may fairly ask that this link with the past
May unencumbered still remain and be with us till the last.
          On Parsons Close!  On Parsons Close!
          And we rather think the Parson
          Would be justified in arson
          Should he see the Council’s bungle-ohs on Parsons Close!

1967 Winslow Expansion Plan, p.10
The area of open land at the junction of Vicarage Road and Burleys Road should be retained as an amenity area and its value lies in the fine view it affords of St. Lawrence's Church from the west of the town.

About 10 years later Parson's Close became a small housing estate.

Copyright 11 May, 2023