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

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The Bull Inn, Stanford Dingley, Berkshire -  Nash Ford PublishingStanford Dingley
Founders & Family Heiresses

Stanford was the 'stony ford' across the River Pang. This was usually a Saxon name applied to a Roman crossing, but there are no known Roman roads in the area. Perhaps it was a smaller track. The place is, of course, listed in the Domesday Survey of 1086. There were eleven serfs & villeins (tenant farmers) and two bordars (cottage dwellers) and their families, and even a mill. Today, the village is full of 17th and 18th century houses. Notable are the two pubs. The Boot Inn is famous, these days, as the former local of the Duchess of Cambridge. The Bull is more historically interesting. It is an old coaching inn dating back to the 15th century where you can still partake of the ancient game of 'Ring the Bull'. You must hook a horn using a ring suspended from the ceiling.

Stanford Dingley Church, like its namesake in the Vale, is dedicated to St. Denys, the headless Parisian martyr. He can be seen on the lectern holding his decapitated head in his hands. The west end of the nave and sides of the chancel arch are thought to contain Saxon work. In the 13th century the church interior was a blaze of colour with many fine wall paintings to help the vicar explain the gospels to the country folk. They were whitewashed out at the Reformation, but were rediscovered by the Victorians. Unfortunately, some of the pictures offended their sensibilities and they quickly covered them up again. St. Christopher has gone, but you can still see St. Edmund the Martyr and St. Thomas Becket.

Hidden beneath the carpet in the north aisle is the brass memorial to Margaret (died 1444), the wife of William Dingley. This reminds us of the family who gave the village its suffix. They originally came from Dineley near Burnley, in Lancashire, but settled in the old manor house that once stood within the moat round the Manor Farm of 1821. Their other major property was at Wolverton, near Basingstoke, in Hampshire. William was an Esquire (or bodyguard) to King Henry VI and the grandson of the Master of the Royal Buckhounds, Sir Bernard Brocas Junior. He inherited Stanford Manor from Margaret's father, for she was the daughter and heiress of Thomas Foxcott of both this village and Foxcott in Hampshire. Margaret was remarkable in being descended from a large number of heraldic heiresses on both her father and her mother's side of the family. Through her descendants, their coats of arms have passed on to many Berkshire families, most notably the Earls of Radnor from Coleshill House. Two of these heiresses were from the Chenduit and the FitzHerbert families who held the manor in earlier years. The FitzHerbert arms survive on Margaret's brass. They were the Barons FitzReynold in the late 13th and early 14th century. They held many lands all over the country, including two castles in Wales, but may have favoured both Stanford and Crookham, near Newbury, for the first Baron is known to have conducted business with Edward II in Reading. Crookham was his father's home. Stanford was his mother's home. She was the heiress of her brother, Oliver de Stanford, who had lived there until his death in 1260.

Across the centuries, several Stanford farmers have become prominent men, both locally and nationally. The Lyfords were lords of the manor of Peasemore, but preferred to live at Rushdens Farm in the extreme west of Stanford parish. John Lyford (died 1589) also did business in London. He had eighteen children and has another brass memorial in Stanford Dingley Church. The Tesdale family also lived in the parish during this period. Thomas Tesdale was born there in 1547 but, soon afterwards, the family moved to Abingdon. It was in that town that he made a fortune as a malt merchant. With no children of his own, he left is money to Oxford University and the powers that be used it to found Pembroke College. By 1830, mechanization had changed the face of Stanford farms out of all recognition. The farm workers were not best pleased and destroyed agricultural machines and fired hay ricks on local farms during the Berkshire Machine Riots.


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