MEDMENHAM, in the hundred of Desborough and deanery of Wycombe, lies about three miles from Marlow, on the road to Henley. At this place was an abbey of Cistercian monks, founded by Hugh de Bolebec, as a cell to the larger monastery at Woburn, which was also of his foundation. The royal charter was not obtained till the year 1200, which was after the founder's death. Its revenues, which consisted chiefly of the manor and rectory of Medmenham, were valued in 1536, at 20 l. 6s. 2d per annum. The abbey, with its possessions, was then given to the abbot and convent of Bisham; the general dissolution of monasteries, taking place shortly afterwards, the manor of Medmenham, and the site of the abbey, were granted in 1547, to Thomas and Robert Moore; this estate was conveyed by the Moores in 1558 to the family of Duffield, who resided at the abbey, and continued in possession till 1778, when the site of the abbey was purchased by John Morton esq. chief justice of Chester, and was sold by his widow, in 1786, to the present proprietor, Robert Scott esq. Browne Willis speaks of part of the north aisle of the conventual church, as standing in his time; part of a single column only is now to be seen. Some buildings, in imitation of ruins, have been of late years erected on the site of the abbey, and are now almost overgrown with ivy.
Danesfield, the seat of Robert Scott esq. so called from an ancient circular entrenchment of that name near the house, was the property of John Morton esq. above-mentioned. It stands in a beautiful situation, on a bank which over-hangs the river.
The manor of Brock, or Medmenham, which was retained by the founder, passed by female heirs to the families of Vere, Warren, Fitz-alan and Beauchamp. It was afterwards in the Poles; and after having been several times forfeited and restored, was given, in 1553, to the Rices, of whom it was purchased, in 1560, by John Borlase esq. Having passed with Little-Marlow, to Sir John Borlase Warren K.B. it was sold, in 1781, to the guardians of William Lee Antonie esq. the present proprietor. The Borlases had a seat at Bockmer, in this parish, now a farm.
An estate in Medmenham, called Whittington farm, was forfeited to the crown in the reign of Charles I. and at the instance of Archbishop Laud given to the university of Oxford, for the maintenance of scholars from the islands of Guernsey and Jersey: it is now held on lease by Sir William Clayton, at a reserved rent of 20 l. per annum.
In the parish church are some memorials of the Duffields. The impropriation of the great tithes, and advowson of the vicarage, have passed with the abbey estate, and are now the property of Mr. Scott. The vicar has the great tithes of 500 acres of land. At Hallowick, near Wood-end, a hamlet of this parish, was formerly a chapel.