Locally thought to mean literally what it says, "Holy Port", a stopping off point for pilgrims on their way from Canterbury to St. Davids, old documents show that the name originally stemmed from Horrig-Port or "Muddy Market". Thoroughly unromantic. The beautiful village green was one of several stopping places for drovers to graze their sheep in the parish of Bray. Today the place is well-known for having one of the few real tennis courts in the country and two fine pubs. The Belgian Arms was remained as such because, when it was the 'Eagle', German prisoners of war would salute it as they passed!
Holyport lies within the manor of Philiberts, which was merged with the manor Cresswells in about 1283. Both were old moated buildings. The latter lies under the motorway and the former was pulled down in 1500. It had been the home of the Lords de St. Philibert. In 1345, the second Lord de St. Philibert went on a pilgrimage to Italy with friends, at the age of only eighteen. They were unjustly imprisoned in Pisa and, in retaliation, King Edward III threw all merchants from that city then resident in England into the Tower of London until young St. Philibert was released. Unfortunately, this still took two years! He then served with the Black Prince in France and Gascony. The superb black and white timber-framed replacement manor-house at Philiberts became the home of King Charles II's closest friend, William Chiffinch, and a regular meeting place for the King and his mistress, Nell Gwynne. But this too was ruthlessly demolished in 1850. The present uninteresting house is late Victorian. There are a number of other ancient manors in the area, including Moors (from Shortford Moor) and Stroud. The present Stroud Hall (now Farm) is a partly 14th century building dating therefore from a time when it was named after its owners, as 'Shiplakes'. Shortly before 1400, it was in the hands of the well-known Staverton family. William Staverton was one of the surveyors of Maidenhead Bridge but was attacked and murdered in that year by "certain evil-doers"! His descendants lived at the Hall for a hundred years before passing to their heirs, the Loggins'. Another branch of the family lived at Heathley Hall in Warfield. The most prominent great house of today is Holyport Lodge. This striking Queen Anne building, overlooking the Green, has earlier timber-framed rooms within. It is currently a nursing home.
See also Bray.
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