HAMBLEDEN, in the hundred of Desborough and deanery of Wycombe, is situated in a pleasant valley, about a mile out of the road from Marlow to Henley, at the distance of about six miles from the former, and somewhat more than four from the latter. It had formerly a market on Mondays, granted in 1315 to the Baddlesmeres, with a fair on the festival of St. Bartholomew, and confirmed, in 1321, to Hugh Despencer the elder, who had a temporary possession of the manor, during an attainder, which was afterwards reversed. The manor of Hambleden was anciently in the Clares, Earls of Gloucester, from whom it passed, by female heir, to the families of Baddlesmere, Tibtot, and Scrope. After the death of Emmanuel Scrope, Earl of Sunderland, in 1631, it became the property of Thomas Earl Rivers, who married one of his natural daughters. Before the close of the 17th century it was purchased, but not immediately, as it appears, of the Rivers family, by Robert Clayton, lord mayor of London in 1680, in whose family it continued till within a few years. The late Sir Robert Clayton bart. gave it by will to his solicitor, R.I. Troward esq. who in 1803 sold the manor, and a considerable part of the estate, to Robert Scott esq. of Danesfield. The manor-house was for many generations a seat of the Scropes. It was rebuilt on a new site about the year 1604, by the last Lord Scrope, of Bolton, who was Lord President of the north, and in 1627, created Earl of Sunderland. It is said that King Charles I. came to this house on the 28th of April 1646, with Dr. Hudson and Mr. Ashburnham, on his road from oxford to St. Alban's: the house is at present unoccupied.
There is another manor in this parish, called Greenland or Ewden, which was successively in the ancient families of Chowne and Shipwash. From the latter it passed to a younger branch of the Doyleys of Oxfordshire. In 1651 it was sold by Sir John Doyley to Sir Bulstrode Whitlock. After some intermediate alienations, the estate became divided between two co-heiresses. The Rev. Mr. Hinde, who resides at Mill-end, being in possession of one of the moities in right of his wife, who was widow of the late Richard Lane esq. purchased the other moiety in 1801, of the Rev. Henry Stevens, of Bradfield, in Berks. Mr. Hinde retaining the manor, has since sold Greenland farm, and the site of Greenland-house to Mr. Steers.
Greenland-house was a seat of the Doyleys: in the month of May 1644, being then the property of Sir John Doyley, it was garrisoned for the king, with a view of commanding the passage of the river Thames from Henley and Reading to London. After sustaining a long and severe siege from the parliamentary forces under the command of Major-General Brown, the house having been almost reduced to a heap of ruins, by the batteries from the opposite side of the river, it was surrendered on honourable terms the llth July, by its governor, Col. Hawkins. The ground about the farm exhibits the appearance of extensive fortifications and buildings.
In this parish is Parmoor, the seat of John Doyley esq. a descendant of the Doyleys of Greenland-house. The estate belonged formerly to the Knights Hospitallers; it came to the Doyleys by marriage with the family of Saunders. Lady Periam, relict of Sir Robert Doyley, and afterwards wife of Sir William Periam, who died in 1621, bequeathed an estate in this parish to archbishop Laud, to be disposed of at his direction, for the benefit of some college in Oxford; the archbishop founded with it a fellowship and two scholarships at Baliol College.
In the parish church (a large and handsome Gothic structure) are some memorials of the family of Scrope; an ancient mural monument, without either name or date, which from the arms, and the name Elizabeth which occur in some verses, appears to have been intended for Thomas Lord Sandys, of the Vine, who married Elizabeth, daughter of George Lord Roos, who died in 1526; and a tablet for Dr. Francis Gregory, rector of Hambleden, who died in 1707; he had been usher of Westminster School, under Dr. Busby, and was author of several school treatises and controversial tracts. In a burial-place belonging to the Doyleys, is a handsome monument for Sir Cope Doyley, who died in 1633, and his wife Martha, "who lived together in inviolated bands of holy wedlock 22 years, and multiplied themselves into five sons and five daughters." The following lines inscribed on the monument were written, probably, by Francis Quarles, who was lady Doyley's brother.
"Ask not me who's buried here,
Go ask the Commons, ask the sheire;
Go ask the church, they'll tell thee who,
As well as blubbered eyes can doe:
Go ask the herauldes, ask the poore,
Thine eares shall hear enough to ask no more.
Then if thine eye bedewe this sacred urne,
Each drop a pearle will turne
T' adorne his tombe, of if thou canst not vent,
Thou bringst more marble to his monument.
Wouldst thou, reader, draw to life,
The perfect copy of a wife:
Read on, and then redeem from shame,
That lost, that honourable name.
This dust was once in spirit a Jael,
Rebecca in grace, in heart an Abigail;
In works a Dorcas, to the church a Hannah,
And to her spouse, Susanna.
Prudently simple, providently wary,
To the world a Martha and to heaven a Mary."
The valuable rectory of Hambleden is in the gift of St. Matthew Ridley, by the bequest of the late William Colborne esq. of Bath, his lady's uncle, by whom it was purchased a few years ago. James Howell, in a letter to his brother Thomas, (afterwards bishop of Bristol,) written in 1628, and published in his familiar letters, says, that it was then valued at 500. l per annum, and better than some bishoprics. He offers his brother the refusal of purchasing the next presentation, which had been given him by Lord Sunderland, in satisfaction for some arrearages. This nobleman, when he built the present manor-house, gave the old mansion to the rector and his successors. The present rectory-house was built on its site by Dr. Kenrick, in 1724; it stands in a beautiful situation, at some distance from the village and church. The parish register records many births and burials of the families of Doyley and Scrope; the burial of Lord Chief Baron Hen, of Ireland, who died in 1708; and several instances of longevity, among which are four persons to the age of a hundred years or upwards.