08 June 2022

A manor house, a twisted
chimney and the influential
Prebendaries of Buckingham

The Manor House on Church Street, Buckingham and the adjoining and curiously named Twisted Chimney House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Three houses near the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Buckingham show the extensive power, prestige, influence and wealth of the church in the 16th century: the Manor House on Church Street, the adjoining and curiously named Twisted Chimney House, and Prebend House on Hunter Street.

The Manor House on Church Street was built in the early 16th century. The house has been altered from the 17th to the 20th century and is now divided into two houses, the Manor House and Twisted Chimney House.

The building was the manor house of the Prebendal Manor of Sutton-cum-Buckingham, one of the best-endowed prebends in Lincoln Cathedral, and with the largest corps of any prebend in pre-Reformation in England, including properties across Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire.

The manor was held by successive Prebendaries of Sutton-cum-Buckingham. In the Middle Ages they included at least five cardinals, including: Neapoli Sancti Adriani (1303-1314); John de Albanum (1378-1381), later Dean of York; Perun de Sancti Georgii (1388); Cardinal Henry Beaufort (1389), grandson of Edward III and later Bishop of Lincoln and Bishop of Winchester, and Lord Chancellor of England; and Henry (1389), a cardinal of Naples and Archdeacon of Canterbury.

Later prebendaries included Robert Gilbert (1420-1436), later Bishop of London, and William Ascough (1436-1438), later Bishop of Salisbury.

Evidence for dating this house is found in the large original stone fireplace, with its deep hollow-chamfered Tudor-arched opening with foliage to the spandrels, and a frieze above with Tudor roses in quatrefoils alternating with heraldic shields. One of these shield bears three rings, believed to be the coat of arms of Richard Lavender, Prebendary of Buckingham in 1481-1507 and Archdeacon of Leicester.

The house remained the manor house of these prebendaries until the Dissolution, when Richard Cox (1542-1547), the last Prebendary of Sutton-cum-Buckingham, surrendered the prebend and manor in 1547 to the crown. Cox was also Dean of Christ Church Oxford (1543-1553), Chancellor of the University of Oxford (1547–1552), Dean of Westminster Abbey (1549-1553), and Bishop of Ely (1559-1583).

After the Tudor Reformation, the house passed into private hands and local lore says Queen Elizabeth I dined here in August 1568 when she was visiting Buckingham.

The house was used as a school at some time in the 18th century.

Manor House was at the centre of the Prebendal Manor of Sutton-cum-Buckingham (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Manor House is a timber-framed house with brick infill, a plain-tile roof and brick lateral stacks. The hall range is flanked by two cross wings, and the left cross wing has been separated from the main house and is now known as Twisted Chimney House, noted for its distinctive red-brick chimney, artfully crafted into a wonderful helix shape.

The interesting architectural features of this house include a six-panel door with a moulded wood surround and straight hood on scrolled brackets; leaded casement windows; leaded wood mullion and transom windows; a cat-slide roof; and large brick stacks. The first floor was probably originally jettied.

Inside, the ground floor hall has been divided in two, with a stone-flagged floor and chamfered cross beam ceiling with broach stops. The large, early mid-18th century wood chimneypiece in the inner room has egg-and-dart ornament on the fireplace surround, a central lion’s mask and foliage sprays on the frieze.

The drawing room has a Tudor-arched oak doorway to the hall with quatrefoil and foliage to the spandrels in a square panelled timber-framed partition wall. The dog-leg stair has widely spaced turned balusters and the first floor has struts from the posts to tie beams.

On the façade of the Manor House, a plaque showing a cherubic-like infant recalls the legend that has survived of Saint Rumbold.

Twisted Chimney House has a distinctive red-brick chimney, crafted into a helix shape (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Twisted Chimney House or the left cross wing projects considerably at the front and has large arch braces from the end posts to a cambered tie beam, and sash windows, and a two-storey, possible former stair turret at the back of this wing. The large projecting stone lateral stack has a fine original barley-sugar twist brick flue, with an additional 18th century square brick flue behind.

Inside, Twisted Chimney House has a chamfered cross beam ceiling on the ground floor, stone-flagged floors in the hall and kitchen and a rebuilt stair with turned balusters. The three-bay roof has curved braces to the tie beams, queen posts to the collars and one tier of wind-braced purlins. The rear first first-floor room has part of original Tudor-arched fireplace with hollow-chamfer innermost and wave-moulding outermost.

The twisted chimney looks for all the world like a red-brick corkscrew.

The large projecting stone lateral stack has a fine original barley-sugar twist brick flue (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The Prebendaries of Sutton-cum-Buckingham in Lincoln Cathedral also gave their name to Prebend House on Hunter Street, although the first clear evidence of Prebend House is in John Speed’s map of Buckingham in 1610.

The name Prebend or Prebendary is given to many buildings in this part of Buckinghamshire and John Speed’s map shows a large house, Prebend End Manor, on the site of the Island Car Park.

Like other houses on Hunter Street in the 17th century, Prebend House was probably occupied by a tanner and Speed’s map shows tanning pits in the gardens between the house and the river. The preparation of leather was then an important industry in Buckingham and much of it was sent to Northampton, which became the most important centre for boot and shoe making in England.

Prebend House was remodelled in the early 19th century to give it a more modern and fashionable exterior. Some elegant panelling was installed in ground floor and first floor rooms, although vandals have destroyed this in recent years.

AC Rogers, a prominent figure in the town and several times mayor, lived at Prebend House in the late 19th century and early 20th century. He was an agricultural merchant and a breeder of champion shire horses, and his business took up many of the buildings on Hunter Street.

Rogers was a supporter of the Temperance Movement and welcomed the Salvation Army of Buckingham. The founder of the Salvation Army, General William Booth, a regular guest of Rogers at Prebend House.

The University of Buckingham commissioned the restoration of Prebend House in 2010. Removing single- and two-storey additions to the south and north, highlighting the original proportions of this listed building with its imposing stucco classical façade, and stabilising the building.

As for Bishop Richard Cox, the last Prebendary of Sutton-cum-Buckingham, one of his grandsons, Richard Cox, moved to Ireland ca 1600, and was the ancestor of the Cox baronets of Dunmanway, Co Cork.

The Prebendaries of Sutton-cum-Buckingham gave their name to Prebend House on Hunter Street, although the house first appears in 1610 on John Speed’s map of Buckingham (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Praying with the Psalms in Pentecost:
8 June 2022 (Psalm 105)

‘They shackled his feet with fetters; his neck was ringed with iron’ (Psalm 105: 18) … the former prison cells in the Guildhall in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Before today begins, I am taking some time this morning to continue my reflections from the seasons of Lent and Easter, including my morning reflections drawing on the Psalms.

In my blog, I am reflecting each morning in this Prayer Diary in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;

2, reading the psalm or psalms;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Psalm 105:

Psalm 105 is one of the longer psalms, and has 45 verses. It is sometimes known by its Latin name Confitemini Domino. In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate, this psalm is counted as Psalm 104.

Psalms 105 and 106, the two psalms that end Book 4 of the Hebrew psalms, are closely related. Psalm 105 gives thanks for God’s faithfulness to the covenant he made with Abraham; Psalm 106 is a psalm of penitence, reciting the history of Israel’s faithlessness and disobedience.

Psalm 105 was probably written for a major festival, and verses 1-15 are largely reproduced in I Chronicles 16: 8-22, with just two slight differences in the wording of the parallel passages.

Originally the psalm began as it ends, with the words ‘Alleluia!’ or ‘Praise the Lord.’ The word Ἁλληλουιά (alleluia) precedes the opening verse in the Septuagint, where it has been transposed from verse 35 of the previous psalm.

Psalm 105 recalls the events in Israel’s history, from Abraham to the entry into the Promised Land, that show God’s fidelity to his covenant, culminating in the giving of the Law.

Verses 1-6 invite the people, the ‘children of Jacob’ and the descendants of Abraham (verse 6) – not just Joseph and his brothers, but all people in the community of faith – to worship God.

They are called on to give thanks for his deeds with joy and gratitude. God is to be praised for his judgments and for his wonderful works. (verses 1-4).

God’s judgments are for all people. He first promised the land to Abraham, confirmed it to Isaac and to Jacob, and made it part of an everlasting covenant. We are to search for God with all our strength, and to recall his great deeds (verses 5-6).

As they sing this psalm, however, the people are reminded that Joseph was sold into slavery, and that the people were afflicted by famine (verses 16-19). Yet, when Pharaoh set Joseph free, he became a wise teacher, and this is worth recalling and celebrating, for its shows God’s hand in history (verses 20-22).

The story of slavery in Egypt is recalled in verses 23-25, the plagues in Egypt are recounted in verses 23-25, and the Exodus into the wilderness and to freedom are then recalled in verses 37-45.

And for this, we give praise to God (verse 45b).

In Jewish tradition, this Psalm is recited on the first day of Passover. Verses 8-10 are part of the prayers recited in the naming of a boy at his brit milah or circumcision, and verses 8-42 are repeated in the Amidah or principal prayer on New Year’s Day, Rosh Hashanah.

‘He sent darkness, and made the land dark; they rebelled against his words (Psalm 105: 28) … darkness falls on Dublin Castle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Psalm 105 (NRSVA):

1 O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
5 Remember the wonderful works he has done,
his miracles, and the judgements he has uttered,
6 O offspring of his servant Abraham,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

7 He is the Lord our God;
his judgements are in all the earth.
8 He is mindful of his covenant for ever,
of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.’

12 When they were few in number,
of little account, and strangers in it,
13 wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
14 he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
15 saying, ‘Do not touch my anointed ones;
do my prophets no harm.’

16 When he summoned famine against the land,
and broke every staff of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters,
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord kept testing him.
20 The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
21 He made him lord of his house,
and ruler of all his possessions,
22 to instruct his officials at his pleasure,
and to teach his elders wisdom.

23 Then Israel came to Egypt;
Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
24 And the Lord made his people very fruitful,
and made them stronger than their foes,
25 whose hearts he then turned to hate his people,
to deal craftily with his servants.

26 He sent his servant Moses,
and Aaron whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them,
and miracles in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness, and made the land dark;
they rebelled against his words.
29 He turned their waters into blood,
and caused their fish to die.
30 Their land swarmed with frogs,
even in the chambers of their kings.
31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
and gnats throughout their country.
32 He gave them hail for rain,
and lightning that flashed through their land.
33 He struck their vines and fig trees,
and shattered the trees of their country.
34 He spoke, and the locusts came,
and young locusts without number;
35 they devoured all the vegetation in their land,
and ate up the fruit of their ground.
36 He struck down all the firstborn in their land,
the first issue of all their strength.

37 Then he brought Israel out with silver and gold,
and there was no one among their tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.
39 He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
40 They asked, and he brought quails,
and gave them food from heaven in abundance.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.

43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 He gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the wealth of the peoples,
45 that they might keep his statutes
and observe his laws.
Praise the Lord!

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘The Time to Act is Now!’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by Linet Musasa, of the Anglican Council of Zimbabwe.

The USPG Prayer Diary this morning (Wednesday 8 June 2022) invites us to pray:

We pray for those who are directly witnessing the impact of climate change. May we help them to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Four Questions (Ma Nishtanah) from Arthur Szyk’s ‘Haggadah,’ Łódź (1935) … In Jewish tradition, Psalm 105 is recited on the first day of Passover

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org