In the Shadow of Windsor
The name derives from Clifwara meaning “Cliff-Dwellers”, ie. those who lived below the hill on which Windsor Castle was built. The Manor of Clewer Brocas was owned, naturally enough, by the famous medieval family of the same name. Though their main residence was later Beaurepaire in Sherborne St. John (Hants), in the 14th century they were important court officials and needed to be near Windsor. Arnold Brocas came over from Gascony to fight for Henry II at Bannockburn. He was killed in the fighting and the King took on the wardship of his three sons. The eldest, Sir John, bought his Clewer manor in the 1320s, along with other lands including the Brocas in Eton. He was a great friend of Oliver De Bordeaux (of Foliejon in Winkfield) and was much favoured by both Kings Edward II & III. The latter appointed him Chief Forester of Windsor Forest (like the modern Ranger) and he fought for the King at Crecy. He may also have owned an early wine merchants in Windsor. Sir John died at Clewer in 1365. His third son and eventual heir, Sir Bernard, grew up with the Black Prince who became his great friend. The Royal youth wanted him to marry his cousin, the widowed Fair Maid of Kent, but when they met he decided to wed her himself. Sir Bernard was appointed Queen’s Chamberlain under Richard II and acquired the hereditary position of Master of the Royal Buckhounds through an advantageous marriage. It was to the memory of his wife, Mary, that he and his second wife founded the Brocas Chapel at Clewer Church in 1384. The hermits of nearby St. Leonard’s Chapel appear to have been the chantry priests. Sir Bernard died in 1395 and was buried in St. Edmund’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey where his fine effigy can still be seen today. His son and namesake was executed in 1400 for supporting Richard II against the usurping Henry IV. Though they recovered their estates, the family fortunes were never quite the same. They took to their country retreat in Hampshire, eventually selling off Clewer in 1499.
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