BRILL, in the hundred of Ashendon and deanery of Waddesdon, lies about seven miles to the north-east of Thame, in Oxfordshire, and about twelve miles west of Aylesbury. The manor was part of the ancient demesnes of the crown, and it is said with much apparent probability, that the Saxon kings had a palace here, which was a favourite residence of King Edward the confessor. It is certain that our monarchs had a palace at Brill for some time after the conquest: King Henry II. kept his court there in 1160, attended by Thomas a Becket as his chancellor; he was there again with his court in 1162. King John, in 1203, gave the manor of Brill to his chaplain, Walter Borstard, appointing him keeper of the royal palace there. King Henry III. kept his court at Brill in 1224: Hugh de Neville had livery of the manor in 1226. In 1233, Brill appears to have been the property of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, for we are told by Matthew Paris, that his lands and houses there were at that time laid waste by Richard Sward and other exiles. In 1346, the manor of Brill was granted to Sir John Molins, from whom it descended by female heirs to the families of Hungerford and Hastings; the Earl of Huntingdon sold it in the year 1550, to Edmund Rede esq. lord of the manor of Borstall, from whom it descended, together with that manor, to the present proprietor, Sir John Aubrey bart.
In the month of November 1642, the war having commenced between King Charles and his parliament, the king established a garrison at Brill, of which Sir Gilbert Gerard was made governor: not long after this, an attack was made on the garrison, by a party of the parliamentary army, under the command of Hampden, the celebrated patriot, but they were repulsed with considerable loss. About the month of April 1643, after the capture of Reading, Brill was evacuated by the royal garrison, which had been a great annoyance to the parliament, by its frequent excursions to Aylesbury and its neighbourhood.
The great tithes of Brill, which had been appropriated to the convent of St. Frideswide, [footnote: The chapel of Brill, and the great tithes, were given to the monks of St. Frideswide, both by King Stephen and the Empress Maude. ----- Kennet.] in Oxford, are now vested in Sir John Aubrey, who is patron of the perpetual curacy. Brill was formerly a chapel of ease to Oakley: it is now a separate parish, but pays an acknowledgment of two shillings yearly to Oakley, as having been the mother-church. There was anciently an hermitage at Brill, dedicated to St. Werburgh: which was given by King Henry III. In 1252, with an endowment of land to the canons of Chetwode, on condition of their finding a chaplain to officiate in the chapel of the hermitage, and another to officiate in the chapel of the king's palace at Brill.
A fair at this place, which was granted to Sir John Molins in 1346, is still held (though it scarcely deserves the name of a fair) on the Wednesday after Old Michaelmas-day.