WOOBURN, in the hundred of Desborough and deanery of Wycombe, lies about four miles and a half east of Great-Marlow. There were anciently two manors in this parish. The manor of Bishop's-Wooburn had been from time immemorial in the see of Lincoln, till the year 1547, when Bishop-Holbeach gave it to the crown in exchange: it was granted, in 1549, to John Russel, Earl of Bedford. Francis, the second earl, sold it about the year 1580, to Sir John Goodwin, whose ancestors had resided at Wooburn above 100 years, as tenants to the Bishops of Lincoln. Sir Francis Goodwin, (son of Sir John,) was several times knight of the shire. The dispute concerning the legality of his election in 1604, proved the cause of establishing the great constitutional doctrine, that the house of commons have the sole right of judging and deciding on the validity of their own elections and returns. Sir Francis was a particular friend of the celebrated John Hampden, and zealously concurred with his measures at the commencement of the disputes between King Charles and his parliament. His son, Arthur Goodwin, left an only daughter, Jane, married to Philip Lord Wharton, who became possessed in her right of the manors of Over-Winchendon and Wooburn, at both which places he occasionally resided. Soon after the revolution he had the honour of a visit at Wooburn, from King William; his son, who was some years afterwards created Marquis of Wharton, having been the person who drew up the address which invited that monarch to take possession of the British throne. The Marquis of Wharton was succeeded, in 1715, by his son Philip, who was created Duke of Wharton, in 1718: after the death of this nobleman, whose extraordinary abilities and more extraordinary eccentricities have been so well described by Pope, the manor of Wooburn having been before mortgaged to the celebrated Col. Chartres, who resided some time at the manor-house, was sold in 1732 to John Morse esq. whose niece and heir brought it in marriage to the Berties. In 1784 it was purchased of Albemarle Bertie esq. by Mrs. Rebecca Duprï¿½, moth of James Duprï¿½ esq. of Wilton Park, who is the present proprietor.
The old manor-house was a palace of the Bishops of Lincoln. Bishop Smith, the founder of Brazen Nose- College, died at Wooburn in 1513, as did his successor, Bishop Atwater, in 1520. Bishop Longland, confessor to King Henry VIII. who was a native of Henley, frequently resided at Wooburn, where he died in 1547, a few months before it was alienated from the see by his successor. The palace was pulled down in 1750: Mr. Langley, in his history of the hundred of Desborough, informs us that the old gallery, which was 120 feet in length, was in the time of the Whartons, hung with the valuable portraits of that family, which were afterwards in Sir Robert Walpole's collection at Houghton. He speaks of a small room adjoining the chapel, called Little-ease, for the confinement of Heretics, in which the unfortunate Thomas Chase, of Amersham, was barbarously murdered in 1506, being then a prisoner there on a charge of heresy. Bishop Smith, whose character has been severely handled on account of this and other cruelties exercised in his diocese, has been ably defended by the learned Dr. Churton, of Brazen-Nose College. Indeed Fuller, in his Church History, seems inclined to believe that these cruelties were not perpetrated by the directions or with the knowledge of that prelate, being very inconsistent with his general character.
The famous Marquis of Wharton, and the more famous Duke, as Granger calls them, are said to have expended incredible sums of money on the house and gardens at Wooburn. The gardens, which were much admired, are said to have been a continuation of terraces, of which scarcely a vestige remains. When the house was pulled down, Mr. Bertie fitted up one of the wings, which has since been enlarged and improved: it is now occupied by the Countess of Orkney.
The manor of Wooburn-Deincourt belonged to the ancient family of Deincourt, from the time of the Norman Survey till the year 1422, when it passed by a female heir to the Lovells. Upon the attainder of Francis Lord Lovell it became vested in the crown, and in 1513 was granted, for a term of years, to Sir William Compton, who occasionally resided at Wooburn. In 1597 it was granted in fee to Robert Spencer and Robert Atkins; not long afterwards it came into the Goodwin family, by the marriage of Sir John Goodwin, with Anne daughter of Sir William Spencer: since which time the two manors have been united. The ancient seat of the Deincourts and Lovells was near the church.
The manor of Lude,. Or Lyde, in Wooburn (called in the Norman Survey Lede) has passed with Bishop's-Wooburn, and is now the property of Mr. Duprï¿½, who, in the inclosure act, is called also lord of the manor of "the Glory" in this parish.
The parish church is a spacious Gothic structure. The tower was built about the year 1480, as appears by the epitaph of John Goodwin, and Pernell his wife, who are called its founders. In the chancel are monuments of the families of Bertie and Wharton, among which is that of Philip Lord Wharton, who died in 1695.
The rectory, which was appropriated to the see of Lincoln about the year 1330, is now the property of Mr. Duprï¿½, who is patron of the vicarage. Philip Lord Wharton gave a rent charge of 22l. 10s. per annum to the vicar, for preaching an evening lecture on Sundays. The parish of Wooburn has been enclosed by an act of parliament passed in 1802, when allotments of land, in lieu of tithes, were assigned to the impropriator and to the vicar, and an allotment to the poor for fuel.
There is an annual fair at Wooburn, for which Lord Wharton obtained a charter in 1686, on All-Souls day, O.S., now November 14th. A fair on the translation of St. Edward the king, now discontinued, was granted by King Henry VI. to Alice Lovell, lady of the manor of Wooburn-Deincourt.