WYRARDISBURY, in the hundred of Stoke and deanery of Burnham, is situated near the banks of the Thames, about three miles to the south of Colnbrook.
The manor belonged to the priory of Ankerwyke, in this parish, which was founded in the reign of Henry II. for Benidictine nuns, by Gilbert de Montfichet, and his son Richard, in honour of St. Mary Magdalen. In 1538, this priory, with the estates belonging to it, being then valued at 132 l. 0s. 2d. per annum, was given to Bisham Abbey, and after the dissolution of that monastery in 1540, was granted to Lord Windsor. Having soon afterwards reverted to the crown by an exchange, the priory was given by King Edward VI. in 1550, to Sir Thomas Smith, the celebrated statesman, who resided at Ankerwyke. John Taylor, the deprived bishop of Lincoln, died under his roof at this place in 1553. Ankerwyke priory was afterwards for many years the seat of the Salter family, of whom it was purchased by the Lees. Elizabeth, daughter and heir of John Lee esq. of Ankerwyke, was the second wife of Sir Philip Harcourt, ancestor of the present proprietor, John Simon Harcourt esq. of whom Ankerwyke-house is rented by Mr. Cricket of the Commons: it was sometime ago in the occupation of Lord Shuldham. There are no remains of the conventual buildings which are described as wholly ruinous in the report of the commissioners in the reign of Henry VIII. Soon after the dissolution, a mansion was built on the site, either by Lord Windsor or Sir Thomas Smith: a hall of the mansion still remains. Near the house is a remarkably large yew-tree, which, at six feet from the ground, measures 30 feet five inches in girth. [Footnote: The girth at the bottom of the butt is 23 feet3 inches, in the middle 28 feet 4 inches. From the information of the Rev. Mr. Brown, rector of Horton.]
The manor of Wyrardisbury was demised in 1555, to Sir Walter Stonor, and in 1574, to Sir Thomas Smith: in 1628 it was granted in fee to John Sharow. It is now the property of Mr. Harcourt, by inheritance from the Lees, who purchased the site of Ankerwyke Priory, and it is probable the manor Wyrardisbury also of the Salters.
In the parish church are some monuments of the Harcourt family, and of Thomas Wright esq. and Thomas Gill esq. aldermen of London, partners in a very extensive business as stationers, who died, within a fortnight of each other, in the year 1798.
The rectorial manor, impropriate tithes, and advowson of the vicarage, were given by King Edward III. to the dean and chapter of Windsor.
The parish has been inclosed by an act of parliament, passed in the year 1799. No mention is made in the act of any allotment for tithes. There are allotments for cottage rights, to the lord of the manor for right of soil; and willow plantations for the copyholders, to be held in severalty by copy of court-roll. A parcel of the waste was allotted for the purpose of holding a fair on the Friday in Whitsun-week, pursuant to ancient custom.
A manor in this parish, which had been seized by the crown during the minority of Ralph de Plaiz, was granted for life to John Fray, who was appointed chief baron of the exchequer in 1436: it appears to have been afterwards given to Eton College.