White Hart Crest of the Royal County of Berkshire David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History

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Of Frethornes & Fettiplaces

Hackpen Hill in Childrey is supposed to be Saxon haecce-penn meaning 'Railing-Pen'. This may relate to a rectilinear earthwork enclosure (120ft by 60ft) which has almost disappeared from the north-west corner of the copse at the head of the Devil’s Punchbowl. At first glance, however, the pen would appear to be the Celtic for 'hill'.

Childrey Church has an unusual lead font, dating from the reign of Henry II, which displays little standing Bishops around its middle. The north transept was St. Mary’s Chantry Chapel founded by Edmund De Childrey, Lord of Frethorne Manor (north of the church), in 1368. The effigial knight here is locally thought to be his, but is more early 14th century in style and probably represents his predecessor Geoffrey De Frethorne (d.1320). The church also features some fine memorial brasses to the Lords of Rampayne Manor and, until destroyed in the 18th century, had a wonderful painted board showing the descent of the Fettiplace family. It may have been similar to that still to be seen at Liddiard Tregoze (Wilts).

Rampaynes is the principle Manor House of Childrey and was named after the family who lived there in the 13th and 14th centuries. By the end of the following century, however, it was in the hands of Thomas Walrond and his wife Alice whose brass can be seen in the parish church. Their sole heir was their widowed grandaughter, Elizabeth Kentwood. Being both heiress to her own father, Thomas Waring as well as her maternal grandparents, this lady was a great prize, won by one of the prolific Fettiplace family of North Denchworth and East Shefford. Elizabeth and her new husband, William, are also remembered in Childrey Church by another, now unusual though once popular, type of brass showing them both rising from the grave! There is also the largest brass in the county (15th century), to William Finderne and his wife, with unusual lead inlay.

The manor house still incorporates part of the Fettiplaces’ building. It was a fine Hall-House which stood well into the last century. However, after the Fettiplaces left in favour of Swinbrook (Oxon) in the 17th century, it became very run down. By 1824 it was dismantled and almost ruinous. What was left has since been restored and incorporated into the present manor house. It still retains the original porch and screens at the west end of what was once the great hall. Parts of the kitchen also survive. Childrey was the village where the Earl of Forth (Lord General of the King’s Army) lodged with his men during the Civil War (April 1644). It was probably one of his soldiers who hid a large hoard of Stuart coins in the village. Also at this time, Charles I is said to have spent a night, at the manor, as the guest of Lady Anne Fettiplace. Almost forty years earlier, she and her husband, Sir Edmund, had played host to a a somewhat more extraordinary guest, in form of William Bush of Lambourn. At the time, in July 1607, he was travelling across the Berkshire Downs in a wheeled ship as part of his attempt to travel by air, land and water in the same vessel. The air part had already been completed from the tower of Lambourn Church and he was later to take to the Thames at Streatley.


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