Ashill

This small village has a remarkable piece of history, dating back to Henry I’s coronation on the 6August, 1100, when William Hastyngs held the manor by grand serjeanty, as Steward to the King.  The Oxford English Dictionary quotes Sir H. Finch in 1636:  “Every grand Serjeanty is a tenure in chiefe, being of none but the King, to doe unto him a more special service whatsoever by the person of a man, as to bear his Banner or Lance, to lead his horse, to carry the sword before him at his coronation, [etc].

William’s task was to be responsible for the napery – the table linen, etc., – at Henry’s coronation; and as a perk of the post he was entitled to all the linen for himself after the ceremony. These posts became hereditary.  Other grand serjeants led the army as marshal, or found men or knights to serve, or performed duties pertaining to the defence of the realm.

Petite serjeantry, on the other hand, was a lesser form of service such as carrying to the king a bag, or brooch, an arrow, or a bow without string”, again as a sort of rent for the tenure of land from the king.  The much commoner tenure was by Knight’s fee, the obligation to provide a knight and supporting esquires, archers, men-at-arms, and their horses, for service in times of conflict.

The office passed to William’s grandson Henry, being tied to the manor of Uphall at Ashill.  Henry marriedAda, daughter of David, Earl of Huntington, and this led in Edward II’s time to his descendant’s claim to the throne ofEngland.  This Henry died in 1249, and his son held the office as the King’s pantler.  He married Joan, the daughter and heir of William de Cantilupe and in her right became Lord Abergavenny.  Sir John de Hastyngs was his heir, and exercised the office at the coronation of Edward II;  and it was Sir John who married first Isabel, the sister and co-heir of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, and then another Isabel, daughter of Hugh le Despenser, Earl of Winchester, by whom the Hastings of Elsing descended.

The estate was subsequently sold, and when Sir Henry Bedingfeld in 1685 claimed the office as the current lord of the manor, it was judged that the grand serjeantry had ceased when the land was granted to Sir Henry’s ancestors.

ST NICHOLAS’  CHURCH

Royal Arms, Ashill

Royal Arms 1801-1816

On the north wall of the nave is an interesting carved, restored and coloured ROYAL ARMS OF GEORGE III, be- tween 1801 &1816; below, a Tudor Rose, a Shamrock leaf, and a thistle all arising from the same stem, and on scrolls, the inscription, which Canon Stuart Nairn of Narburgh has kindly translated for me:

TOLLEMALOS     TE IPSUM

SACRANE                               1683

EXTOLLE PIOS COGNOSCELEGEM CONSULE

 DISCE MORI

Bear your ills well, deport yourself holily, know the pious, recognise the law, learn how to die.

The significance of the date is unknown.

Quarterly 1& 4, Gules three Lions passant Guardant Or – ENGLAND; 2, Or a Lion rampant within a double tressure flo- ry counterflory Gules – SCOTLAND; 3, Azure a Harp Or stringed Argent – WALES; in pretence Tierced in pale reversed – HANOVER: i, Gules two Lions passant guardant in pale Or – BRUNSWICK; ii, Or semy of hearts Gules a Lion rampant Azure – LUNEBERG; iii, Gules a Horse courant Argent – WEST- PHALIA; overall an inescutcheon Gules  charged with the golden Crown of  CHARLEMAGNE, ensigned with the Electoral Bonnet of HANOVER.

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