Centre of the Fines Bayliwick
Billingbear Park, just south of the village, was the centre of Binfield Walke or Fines Bayliwick, the greatest of the sixteen red-deer stocked sub-divisions into which Windsor Forest was split. It was granted to Sir Henry Neville by Edward VI in 1549. He was the younger brother of the 5th Lord Bervagenny and a descendant of the Nevilles of Bisham & elsewhere. His fine monument (1593) can be seen in the parish church. Sir Henry’s son and namesake was Ambassador to France, but was implicated in the Earl of Essex’ plot against Elizabeth I and imprisoned in the Tower. During the Civil War, the area was deeply divided: Colonel Richard Neville of Billingbear House fighting on the opposite side to his Parliamentarian brother, Henry. After Charles II was restored to the throne, the house was the scene of a great dinner party. The King, the Duke of York, Prince Rupert and many other nobles rode over from Windsor in 1667. The fine Elizabethan House burnt down earlier this century.
It appears to have been in this area that Mabel or Arabella Elsmore, a local 17th century witch lived. She married one Ralph Medwin in 1622 and together they had at least two children. We no nothing of the crimes of which she was accused but, at the age of sixty-eight, she appears to have fallen victim to the witch-hunters of the age. She was executed (burnt?) at Reading in 1656 and buried at Waltham St. Lawrence.
See also Waltham St. Lawrence.
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