A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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North Hinksey is a small parish of 797 acres, on the right bank of the Isis, opposite Oxford. One of the branches of the river, which here makes numerous islands, forms its eastern boundary, and the ground slopes up from its banks to a height of about 380 ft. in the western part of the parish. The view from this hill of the city of Oxford is a favourite with artists.
The village of North Hinksey is on the banks of the stream, which is here crossed by a ferry established at least as early as 1467, (fn. 1) and probably much earlier, for the causeway leading from the opposite bank into the Botley Road is the most direct route from Hinksey to Oxford. From this ferry the village takes one of its distinguishing names. Another is supplied by the old church of St. Lawrence, (fn. 2) which stands at the north end of the village street. Its tower, once covered with ivy, used to furnish yet another name by which this Hinksey was distinguished from its neighbour. Hearne recorded in 1711–12 (fn. 3) that, though the name of 'Ivy Hinksey' still lingered, there was then no ivy about the steeple and church. It had all been cut down in the 'late rebellion,' and the tower left in a ruinous condition till it was repaired by William Stephens, incumbent between 1678 and 1690. (fn. 4)
A short distance away from the village, on the Botley Road, is a dilapidated house of circa 1600, now divided into three tenements. The house is two stories high and of L-shaped plan. The walls are of stone at the base, with timber framing filled in with brickwork above. The northern tenement contains a large fireplace with a four-centred head on the ground floor. The two bedrooms above it were formerly one apartment, and have good plaster ceilings; the main trabiations and cornices are moulded and have vine ornament, and between them are ribs of geometrical design with foliage ornaments and small drops in the centre of each bay. In the south wall is a good stone fireplace with a moulded four-centred head, cornice and side pilasters. The wall above is enriched with plaster strapwork up to the ceiling, and in the centre is a large shield with the arms of St. John's College, Oxford. Outside the house, on the road side, is the square stone base of a 15th-century cross, but it is not in situ.
A mill at Hinksey was burnt down in 1656. (fn. 5) Anthony Headley, the owner, obtained a brief authorizing a collection for his benefit, but there is no evidence that the mill was ever rebuilt.
The village is connected with the main high road from Oxford to Faringdon by Hinksey Lane, which runs north to the little village of Botley. The latter is partly in this parish and partly in Cumnor. A footpath over the meadows connects North Hinksey and South Hinksey, and another footpath runs west to Cumnor.
A spring in this parish, called the 'Reve Mores well,' used to supply the abbey of Osney with its water by means of a conduit. (fn. 6) The abbot had a grant of the spring in the 12th or early 13th century from the family of Botley, with the right of digging about the spring and the watercourses flowing to and from it, and of building a 'house' over it 18 ft. long and 13 ft. wide. (fn. 7)
The Friars Preachers of Oxford also had their water supply brought by a conduit from Hinksey, and in 1288 had licence to dig in the king's meadows if necessary to repair it. (fn. 8) Later, in the reign of James I, the waterworks for the city of Oxford were established here. (fn. 9) Water was led under the Isis to Carfax. The original well-house, built by Otho Nicholson, is an ashlar-faced building with a moulded plinth, and is supported by two gabled buttresses on each side. The roof, of stone slabs, is gabled at each end, and in the east wall is a door with a loop in the gable, above which is an ornamental cartouche with a shield bearing Barry of four a chief with three suns therein.
The soil of this parish is stone-brash, clay, gravel, peat and loam, on an Alluvial subsoil. Various cereal crops are raised, about a third of the total area being under cultivation. (fn. 10) The rest is pasture land.
HINKSEY was probably among the earliest gifts made to the abbey of Abingdon. Land in 'Hengesteseia' is supposed to have been included in the 7th-century charter of King Caedwalla. (fn. 11) A charter of King Edwy, apparently of the year 955, gave to the abbey 20 hides in Seacourt, Wytham and Hinksey. (fn. 12) The two Hinkseys were not at this date distinguished, so this grant probably gave the abbot complete possession of both vills.
Down to the 16th century the Hinkseys were members of the manor of Cumnor, (fn. 13) and in the Domesday Survey, where they are not mentioned by name, they are doubtless included in the 30 hides at which Cumnor was assessed. (fn. 14) Wytham and Seacourt, which are always closely associated with Hinksey, are entered under Cumnor. (fn. 15)
From a survey made in the reign of John it appears that Hinksey was prosperous at that time. The abbey had twenty-seven and a third teams here, in comparison with seven teams in Barton and eightythree and a half teams in Cumnor. (fn. 16) The profits of its estate in Hinksey were allotted at that date to the chamberlain. (fn. 17)
During the abbots' tenure of North Hinksey their tenants attended a court at Cumnor. (fn. 18) In the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, however, the two places were separated, and the owners of North Hinksey began to hold separate courts for their manor here. The customs of this manor were naturally identical with the customs of Cumnor. (fn. 19)
The first grantees of the abbey lands in North Hinksey were George Owen and John Bridges, who in 1547 had a grant of the manor of Cumnor and all lands and tithes in the two Hinkseys. (fn. 20) In the same year George Owen had licence to alienate his property here to Sir John Williams and Sir John Gresham, kts. (fn. 21) The former, who in 1554 was created Lord Williams of Thame, (fn. 22) died in possession of the manor in 1559. (fn. 23) He had two daughters and co-heirs, Isabel the wife of Richard Wenman and Margery wife of Henry Norreys. (fn. 24) A partition of the estates was made, and Henry Norreys and Margery quitclaimed the manor of North Hinksey to Richard Wenman and Isabel in 1561. (fn. 25) The latter in the same year conveyed it to Oliver Wythington and William Leeche, (fn. 26) as trustees for Brasenose College, Oxford. (fn. 27) In 1562 the manor was purchased from the college by Simon Perott, (fn. 28) a distinguished member of the university. An entry made by him in the Trinity College register in 1578 (fn. 29) records the fact that the yearly rent of North Hinksey at the time of the purchase was £22 9s. 8d.
Simon Perott died in possession in 1584, (fn. 30) leaving the manor by will to his son and heir Robert. (fn. 31) Robert died in 1605, (fn. 32) and was succeeded by his son Edward, then a minor. (fn. 33) Edward held the manor till 1684, (fn. 34) when he was succeeded by his son Robert. (fn. 35) The latter had two sons, Edward and Charles, (fn. 36) who inherited the manor in turn. Charles died in 1739, (fn. 37) and was succeeded by his grandson Edward John. (fn. 38) On the death of Edward John in 1759 without issue, his uncle William, the last male of the family, succeeded. (fn. 39) His heirs were three sisters and the representatives of the fourth. Ann Perott had married Edmund Sparrow, and her daughters were married to Joseph Dalby and Thomas Silvester; the other three sisters, Catherine, Susanna, and Jane, had married respectively John Parker, William Standert, and George Underwood. (fn. 40)
The manor was sold by these heirs in 1772 to Simon Earl Harcourt, (fn. 41) and has remained in his family ever since. He was succeeded by his son George Simon, (fn. 42) who died without issue. George Simon's brother William, who was his heir, (fn. 43) also died without issue, and his titles became extinct. (fn. 44) The estates were inherited by William's cousin, the Hon. Edward Vernon, Archbishop of York, who took the name of Harcourt. On his death in 1847 he was succeeded by his son George, whose heir was his brother, (fn. 45) the Rev. William Harcourt. Edward William Harcourt, son of William, succeeded on his father's death, (fn. 46) and was himself succeeded by his son Aubrey. (fn. 47) The latter died unmarried, and was succeeded by his uncle, Sir William Harcourt, (fn. 48) whose son, the Rt. Hon. L. V. Harcourt, is the present lord of the manor. (fn. 49)
The ferry and land at Hinksey belonged at the beginning of the 16th century to William Bulcombe and Maud his wife, from whom they passed to Thomas Woodward, Maud's son. (fn. 50) In 1539 they belonged to John Croke, afterwards serjeant-atlaw. (fn. 51) He asked leave to exchange his land here for land in Chilton (co. Bucks.) which had belonged to Nutley Abbey. (fn. 52) The Hinksey estate seems to have remained in his family, however, for in 1592 John Croke, sen., and John Croke, jun., granted what was called the 'manor of Henxsey' to William Croke and Dorothy his wife for a yearly rent. (fn. 53) It is never again called a manor. The ferry with its appurtenances still belonged to the Croke family in 1604, (fn. 54) but seems to have been acquired shortly afterwards by William Fynmore. He had an estate in North Hinksey in 1629, (fn. 55) and there was no other estate of importance in the parish except the manor. Moreover, his son William Fynmore owned land here and a 'passage over the Isis' in 1658. (fn. 56) The grandson of the latter, another William Fynmore, (fn. 57) alienated the reversion of the estate, after the death of his son William, to Brasenose College. (fn. 58) The college has continued to hold it down to the present day.
The side walls of the nave are largely of 12th-century date, but the chancel was perhaps rebuilt during the 13th century, when the west tower was added. A south window was inserted during the 14th century, and the south porch is a late 17th or early 18thcentury addition. The church has been restored in modern times and the chancel arch rebuilt.
The chancel has a two-light 15th-century east window with a square head. In the north wall is a blocked doorway with a shouldered arch, and further west is a single-light trefoil-headed window. In thesouth wall is a four-light square-headed window of the 16th century, and further west a narrow 13th-century light, the head of which has been subsequently altered. Below this is a blocked low-side window only visible externally. It is apparently 12th-century work refixed. The modern chancel arch is of enriched Norman style with small cheveroned openings on each side. The old chancel arch was very narrow and some 8 ft. high, and to the south of it was a squint. To the north, on the west face, was a shallow cheveroned recess, of which the headstones still remain, though it is now pierced through the wall. The chancel roof is open to the ridge and some of the timbers are old.
In the north wall of the nave are two small deeplysplayed windows of early 12th-century date and placed high in the wall. At the east end of the wall are traces of the upper and lower doors to the rood-loft stairs, the stair being inclosed in a semi-hexagonal projecting turret. In the centre of the north wall are the western jamb and half the arch of a 12th-century north door only visible externally and quite plain. In the south wall the first window has a three-light 14th-century opening with a traceried triangular head. Below it are two square aumbries rebated for doors, and further east a small piscina with a round head enriched with ball-flower ornament. The south door is of mid-12th-century date recessed in two orders, the inner roll-moulded and the outer with deep cheveron ornament. The hood has animal head stops and the side shafts are of red stone with scalloped capitals. Further west is a three-light square-headed window of the 15th-century. The nave roof is ancient, but the pitch has been altered towards the east end. West of this point the roof has tie beams with curved struts to the principals and is ceiled at the collar. The eastern part is open to the ridge.
The west tower is three stages high and is finished by a tiled pyramidal roof. The ground stage is entered from the nave by a narrow modernized doorway, and the west window is a single light probably of the 13th century. The bell-chamber is lighted by a plain square opening in each face without heads. In the tower are a portion of the old font and the head of a 13th or 14th-century cross. It was gabled and one hand of the figure of a Calvary remains. It may possibly belong to the churchyard cross, of which the square base, raised on three steps, and the square shaft with beaded angles remain outside. The south porch has an oak frame and head to the outer doorway, and on the east gable of the nave is an ancient cross.
On the north wall of the chancel is a tablet to William Fynmore (1677) and Martha his wife, with a coat of arms, Ermine two cheverons gules and a crescent for difference impaling the same coat without the crescent. On the south chancel wall is a well-carved tablet with cherubim, &c., to William Fynmore (1646) and William his son (1677), with the Fynmore arms impaling Wickham, two cheverons between three roses. In the pavement of the porch is a slab inscribed 'T.P. 1592.'
Down to the 18th century the church of North Hinksey was a chapel to Cumnor. (fn. 59) It must have existed in early Norman times, but the first mention of it that has been found is in a confirmation made in 1401 to the Abbot of Abingdon of certain appropriated churches, including the church of Cumnor with its chapels of North Hinksey and South Hinksey. (fn. 60)
In 1547 the advowson of Cumnor with its chapels and all tithes was granted to George Owen. (fn. 61) The great tithes of North Hinksey were alienated with the manor to Sir John Williams, (fn. 62) and followed the descent of the manor, passing through the hands of the Perott family (fn. 63) and coming ultimately to the Harcourts. (fn. 64) The right of advowson, on the other hand, with the small tithes, remained in the possession of the rectors of Cumnor, (fn. 65) and so came into the hands of the Earls of Abingdon. (fn. 66)
Montagu second Earl of Abingdon endowed the living with the small tithes, and it has since been claimed as a donative. (fn. 67) An arrangement was made, probably at the same date, by which he and Earl Harcourt, the impropriator of the rectory, had alternate presentations. (fn. 68) In 1776, by an Inclosure Act, the tithes, vicarial and rectorial, were commuted for land, (fn. 69) and in 1866 the living was formally recognized as a vicarage. (fn. 70) The arrangement by which the impropriators of Cumnor and North Hinksey presented alternately lasted till 1910, when the advowson was acquired by the Bishop of Oxford.
In 1677 William Fynmore, by will proved in the P.C.C. 2 July, gave £10 for the benefit of the poor, and in 1683 Martha Fynmore, by her will proved in the P.C.C. 17 October, gave £5 to be added to her late husband's bequest. A sum of 15s. a year formerly paid in respect of these legacies was discontinued for very many years; in 1886, however, the payment of 15s. a year was revived by Mr. Richard John Fynmore of Wykeham House, Sandgate, and it has been since continued. It is distributed among the poor in sums of 2s. 6d.