Tomb of Thomas Denton , Hillesden Church, Bucks
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Norfolk12
N 51° 57.188 W 001° 00.217
30U E 637189 N 5757707
Several fine stone monuments in this old Church including that of Thomas Denton who fought in the Civil War.
Waymark Code: WMDBQP
Location: Southern England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 12/21/2011
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member Dragontree
Views: 2

The Dentons, who held Hillesden for more than 200 years, were a family of considerable local importance. Sir Alexander Denton, the head of the house at the time of the Civil War, had married a cousin of John Hampden but his Royalist sympathies were well known. In 1642 a Parliamentary soldier, Nathaniel Wharton, boasted of having, with a file of men. 'marched to Sir Alexander Denton's park, who is a malignant fellow, and killed a fat buck.
In January 1643–4, when the Parliamentary forces held Aylesbury and Newport, Captain Jecamiah Abercromby and a troop of Parliamentarians occupied Hillesden House, the Royalist men in the neighbourhood having retreated before them. A contemporary record, with Parliamentary sympathies, states that the taking of the house was 'much to the ease and comfort of the poor inhabitants of the almost wasted county of Buckingham,' which was oppressed by the owners of the great house. Less than a month later, however, Abercromby, making a sortie, was captured by Captain Peter Dayrell and his party defeated. It was after this, early in February, that Col. William Smith was sent from the king's forces at Oxford with a small troop to garrison Hillesden House, which, lying nearly midway between Oxford and Newport, might prove a strong support to the king's operations in the former city. At this time there were in the house, besides Sir Alexander's children, several other relatives, his sisters and nieces, and some of the Verney family. He afterwards wrote to Sir Ralph Verney that he himself had only come accidentally to Hillesden House, to remove his family, the king having placed a garrison there. The actual garrison appears to have amounted to about 263 men. Col. Smith assumed command. He built additional accommodation for men and horses, had a trench dug inclosing the house and the parish church, and made foraging expeditions in the district. One of these led to a dispute with the owner of some cattle taken; the man appealed to the governors at Newport and Aylesbury, who thereupon awoke to the growing danger of the garrison at Hillesden. A force was dispatched thither from Aylesbury, but, finding the garrison fully prepared, retired without accomplishing anything. Between this and the second attack the defenders at Hillesden replenished their ammunition and summoned the countryside under penalty of a fine to come and keep garrison and continue the work of fortification. But the enemy moved with great promptitude. An order made by the committee of both kingdoms to Col. Oliver Cromwell, about this date, instructs him, his forces being about Hillesden, to stay in those parts and 'to be as active to the prejudice of the enemy as with your safety you may.'
He advanced on Hillesden, encamping in Claydon at the spot known as Camp Barn, the night before the siege. Sir Samuel Luke, governor of Newport, advanced also, and the besiegers, amounting to about 2,000 strong, appeared before Hillesden House, which was unprepared for such a rapid approach, before nine o'clock on the morning of 4 March 1643–4.
According to Luke's own dispatch the house at once sounded a parley and Col. Smith sent out to ask for terms. An unconditional surrender was demanded, and this being refused the assault commenced. From the first the defenders were overpowered. Their fortifications and entrenchments were incomplete and proved inadequate; a retreat was made to the church and house, and in a second assault the church was taken, whereupon Col. Smith surrendered on a promise of quarter. Luke states that his men 'in less than a quarter of an hour were masters of the house and works.' He seems, however, having made prisoners of the defenders, to have violated his promise, many of the garrison being slain without mercy. He also speaks in his dispatch of the spoils gained—thirteen barrels of powder with match and ball proportionable, the cellars full of good beer, the stables full of horses, and yards full of oxen and beasts. The day after the siege a soldier discovered a large sum of money and treasure hidden in the wainscoting. A rumour that the king's troops were advancing from Oxford created great panic, and for this and other reasons the captors evacuated Hillesden the day after the siege, setting fire to the house, which was entirely destroyed.
The casualties during the siege amounted to about forty on the side of the defenders and not above six of the attacking side, which included 'no officer killed or hurt save onely Col. Pickering and that onely a little chocke under the chin with a musquet balle.'
As regards the inhabitants of the house, the women and children were left in a beggared condition, though not molested by the enemy, and some of them at least found a refuge in the Verneys' house at Claydon.
Sir Alexander Denton and Col. Smith with other officers were taken prisoners and subsequently removed to the Tower. In a letter of about this time Sir Alexander says, 'You may see what I suffered in two dayes cannot but be allmost every man's fortune by degrees, if these most unhappe tymes continue but a short tyme.'Ralph Verney also wrote to Edmund Denton, 'Suffer me to tell you how much I am afflicted for the ruin of sweet Hilesdon, and the distreses that hapened to my aunt and sisters.'
Sir Alexander bade his steward cause a view to be taken of the house that he might have some certain information of the ruin caused by the fire, whether it would be possible to rebuild the walls that remained standing 'if the distraction of the times should settle,' adding that he was 'yet in health notwithstanding these many misfortunes are fallen upon me, and my comfort is I knowe myself not guilty of any faulte.' But his accumulated misfortunes told upon him; his eldest son Col. John Denton was killed in August 1644, and at the end of the year his health gave way and he died without regaining his liberty on New Year's Day 1644–5.
The house was afterwards rebuilt; a letter of 1648 contains the information that 'they are building there again and intend to set up a little house where the old one stood.' In the following century it is described as a 'good old house,'and became famous as the house of Mr. Justice Denton, the contemporary and friend of Browne Willis. After the sale of the estate by Thomas Coke, afterwards Earl of Leicester, it was pulled down about the second decade of the 19th century.

From: 'Parishes : Hillesden', A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4 (1927), pp. 173-180. URL: (visit link) Date accessed: 23 December 2011.
Approximate Age of Artefact: 1600s

Relevant Website: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
Please supply an original picture when visiting this waymark.
Search for... Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Stone Church Artefacts
Nearest Geocaches
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
There are no logs for this waymark yet.