Lordship Title of Sonning Reeve ID1615

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At the date of the Great Survey the manor of SONNING formed part of the possessions of the Bishop of Salisbury, who held it in demesne as of his bishopric. It was assessed in the time of King Edward at 60 hides, in 1086 at 24. It then probably included part of Hurst, the whole of Ruscombe, Sandhurst and Arborfield, and most of Wokingham. These afterwards became separate manors. The extent of Sonning included two mills, five fisheries, 40 acres of meadow and woodland for 300 swine. Sonning appears to have been the seat of a bishopric in Saxon times, and there was a residence there of the Bishops of Salisbury for several centuries after the Conquest. In the reign of Henry II Bishop Jocelin exchanged with John de Earley 2 virgates of land at Bulmershe (Buleneirs), one of which had been held by Payn the reeve, for land which John de Earley held in Sonning Park, and for other land there held by William de Earley he gave a hide of land within the manor of Sonning called 'the hide of Ailmar the Priest.' This points to the park of Sonning being either made or enlarged at this time. It is mentioned in King John's itinerary that he was the guest of the bishop in 1216, receiving at the palace the ransom of William Daubeny, one of the insurgent barons. In 1227 Bishop Richard le Poor was granted a weekly market to be held on Tuesday 'in his manor of Sunning at Wokingham,' and the right of being quit of all 'tolls, shires, works of castles,' &c., while all forfeited chattels were to fall to him, and no sheriff was to have power or entry upon any of his lands, but in spite of this we find in 1288 the guardian of the bishopric ordered to provide oaks fit for timber for the repair of the bridge at Windsor Castle. In 1276 the liberties claimed by the bishop included the return of all writs, stocks, assize of bread and ale, and pleas de namio vetito, but by what warrant was unknown, and mention is made that Bishop Richard and his successors had encroached in the manor upon the royal forest. Bishop Nicholas Longespée received a grant of free warren in all his demesne lands of Sonning in 1294, and this was confirmed exactly a hundred years later. The bishops also had rights of free chase in a part of Windsor Forest called 'Le Bisshopesber.' Geoffrey de Pycford, keeper of the castle and forest of Windsor, appropriated and afforested this ground in the reign of Edward I, but the rights of the bishop were restored to him after inquisition held in 1300. Bishop Robert Wyville received licence to crenellate his mansion at Sonning in 1337. It was in Sonning Palace that the bishop received information in 1389 of the secret practices of the Wickliffites, and it was here during the episcopate of Bishop Nicholas Bubwith that Isabel of Valois, the wife of Richard II, fled for protection when her husband had fallen into the hands of his enemies. She remained there after his death in 1399 in Pontefract Castle, and was visited in 1400 by John Earl of Salisbury, one of her husband's most devoted adherents, shortly before he met his own death at the hands of the mob. Joan Queen of England was staying at Sonning in 1408, when Letters Patent were dated there by her. On 30 June 1450 Thomas Durlyng, the king's serjeant-at-arms, was commissioned to arrest and keep safely all goods late of William Aiscough, Bishop of Salisbury, who had been murdered by the populace the day before during the rebellion of Jack Cade, within the manor of Sonning. The temporalities were restored to his successor, Richard Beauchamp, in the following October. In 1535 the bishop's estate is entered under the double heading of Sonning Bedell and Sonning Reeve (Prepositus), the first being worth in rents of assize and perquisites of court about £126 and the second about £9. Leland, writing about the same date, mentions that 'the Bishop of Saresbyri hath had at Sunning afore the Conquest an ancient maner place and hath be lordes there. And yet remaineth a faire olde house of stone even by the Tamise ripe longging to the Bishop, and thereby is a faire parke.' Timber from the manor was granted by Cardinal Campeggio, whilst Bishop of Salisbury, to Wolsey for his college at Oxford. Edward Duke of Somerset, Protector of England, was lessee of Sonning at the time of his execution for high treason in January 1551–2. The manor remained with the see until 1574, when Edmund Bishop of Salisbury exchanged it with the queen for an estate in Wiltshire. The property is described as the manor of Sonning alias Sonning Bidell and Eye alias Eye Bidell and Sonning Reeve. Sonning remained in the Crown until 1610, when James I granted the manors of Sonning and Eye, Sonning and Eye Reeve and Sonning Bedell to Henry Prince of Wales, and after his death they were granted in 1616 to Charles Prince of Wales. In 1628 the manor, as Sonning alias Sonning and Eye alias Sonning Bedell alias Eye Bedell and Sonning Reeve, was granted by Charles I to Laurence Halstead and Abraham Chamberlain, his father-in-law, which caused the Earl of Banbury to pray Buckingham that 'so great a royalty be not confirmed upon so base a man,' Halstead being the object of his scorn. Thomas Chamberlain, probably the son of Abraham, and Laurence Halstead conveyed the manor in 1654 to Thomas Rich, a Turkey merchant, befriender of the clergy who suffered under the Protector, who in return for his loyalty and his services was created a baronet in 1660. He was succeeded in 1667 by his son Sir William, who died in 1711, leaving a son and heir Sir Robert, who was dealing with the manor by fine in 1712 and 1720. After his death in 1724 it presumably devolved upon his son Sir William, who died in 1762 and was followed by his son Admiral Sir Thomas Rich, who founded a free school in Sonning in 1766. In 1775 a recovery of the manor was suffered by Daniel Danvers Rich, son of Daniel Rich, uncle of Sir Thomas, by Martha daughter and heir of Daniel Danvers of Eydon, Northants. A settlement was probably made on him by Sir Thomas, who had himself no legitimate issue. Daniel Danvers Rich died unmarried in 1783, and in 1795 the manor was sold by Sir Thomas Rich to Richard Palmer. At his death in 1806 Palmer left two sons and a daughter, viz., Robert, Richard and Susanna, who each succeeded in turn to the property. The heir of the latter, who died in 1880, was her nephew, the Rev. H. Golding Palmer, and upon his death in 1897 his cousin Mrs. Wade, who took the name of Palmer, succeeded. In 1912 her property in Sonning was bought by the South Berks. Syndicate, Ltd. In the grant of the manor in 1628 (see above) the parks called East Park and Holme Park were reserved. The estate of Holme Park in Sonning was apparently formed out of the Holme or Home Park of the bishops. In the latter half of the 16th century lands here were held by Anne Barker, apparently widow of William Barker of Sonning, Fellow of the Middle Temple, nephew and male heir of William Barker, steward to the Bishop of Salisbury, who held a lease of part of Sonning Park and died in 1549. William the younger's successor was his son Sir Anthony, who was making a grant of land and tenements in Sonning in 1608, and who died in 1630. In 1611 and 1616 reference is found to his uncle John Barker, who also held land there, and in 1623 to his younger son Henry, who had a lease from Sir Richard Lovelace of land called the East Park. Robert, son of William Barker, Sheriff of Berkshire, and grandson of Sir Anthony, is described as of Sonning. He and his brother John apparently died without issue and the eventual heirs of William the father were his daughters Anne, who married Sir Pope Danvers, bart., of Culworth, Northants, and Frances wife of Richard House of Whitley, Berks. Holme Park was eventually purchased (probably at the same time as the rectory, q.v.) by Richard Palmer. It is now the property of Mr. Corry Yeo. In accounts of the 15th century the issues of the manor included £6 6s. 8d. for the farm of the mill, but nothing for the fulling-mill because it was in ruins. In the same accounts the 'farm of the water of Thames' was said to be worth 60s. The fishery at East Park, which had formerly brought in 8s. a year, was then let with the demesne lands. Free fishing in the Loddon and the Thames is mentioned among the appurtenances of the manor in conveyances of 1654 and 1720.
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