A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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Down to the 16th century the parish of St. Helen's included not only the modern ecclesiastical parishes of Dry Sandford and Shippon, but also those of Radley and Drayton. (fn. 1) In theory Radley and Drayton (q.v.) were part of St. Helen's for a much longer period, but the livings were for all practical purposes independent of the mother church after the Dissolution. Shippon was separated for ecclesiastical purposes in 1865 (fn. 2) and Dry Sandford in 1867. (fn. 3) For civil purposes that part of the old St. Helen's parish which is within the modern borough of Abingdon is now included in the large parish of Abingdon (q.v.), which was formed in 1894. The rest, that is to say the ecclesiastical parishes of Dry Sandford and Shippon, form a civil parish known as St. Helen's Without.
Shippon lies a mile to the north-west of Abingdon, on the high road to Fyfield. A farm called the Manor House is on the Fyfield road, the site of the ancient building known as Calcott's Place, which existed here at least as early as 1422. During the 15th century it was leased by the kitchener of Abingdon, who was lord of the manor of Shippon, to the chapel-wardens, who made a large profit by letting it out to lay tenants. (fn. 4) In a survey made during the Commonwealth Calcott's Place is thus described (fn. 5): 'All that scite of the manor of Shippon called Calcott's Place in Shippon butting south-west upon the highway leading to Frefield, and north-east with Northfeild, consisting of a hall, a parlour, a kitchin, a milkehouse, two little buttries, two little wood houses, four chambers, one barn, an old cart house, and a dove house with an orchard. 'Here the courts of the manor were kept. (fn. 6) Another house, called 'Sherwood's Messuage,' is mentioned at the same time. The lessees of both had to undertake to plant a certain number of trees, oak, ash, or elm, every year, for the manor had lost all its trees during the time 'when Abingdon was a garrison.'A recent disastrous fire had destroyed many of the buildings; so Shippon at this date must have been desolate enough.
Two miles further to the north-west is the little village of Dry Sandford. The two manors adjoined each other, in fact some of their common fields were intermingled, and every year 'kermen,' or 'meadmen,'were elected, two for Dry Sandford and two for Shippon, to draw lots for the shares of the two manors in the meadow land. (fn. 7) In 1538 there was a 'manor-house called West Sandford,' (fn. 8) and a farm there is still known as the Manor.
To the east of Shippon, on the other side of the road leading north from Abingdon to Sunningwell, is the hamlet of Northcourt. Here the Abbots of Abingdon built a huge tithe barn, which still exists. Barton Farm lies to the south of Northcourt, on the bank of the Thames and just outside the town of Abingdon. It was once the head of the most important manor in the hundred, but probably there was never any considerable village here, at least after the abbey was built and the town began to spring up. In 1327 the rebellious townsmen burnt the abbot's houses at Barton and Northcourt. (fn. 9) Perhaps little but the large mansion-house of the abbot was rebuilt. The ruins of this are still to be seen near Barton Farm, and their extent shows that the house was of considerable size. For a century it was the residence of the Reade family, who twice entertained Charles I within its walls. (fn. 10) The house was so near the eastern entrance of Abingdon, and so easily approached from the river, that it was naturally used as a base for an attack upon the town during the Civil War. 'The enemy,' wrote Colonel Payne to General Browne in 1646, 'came between Thrupp and Norcott to Barton House, where they kept covert till daylight.' (fn. 11) The Parliamentary garrison resolved to 'smoke them out,' and seems to have done so very effectually. The old beams which were built into the farm-house bear traces of fire, and cannon balls have been found in the ruins. (fn. 12) In 1663 Sir Compton Reade was permitted to hold his office of sheriff without living in the county, where he had no fit residence. (fn. 13) His family settled at Shipton Court in Oxfordshire.
The industries of the part of this parish outside the borough are entirely agricultural; 1,536 acres are in cultivation, (fn. 14) and various grain crops are raised. The soil is various, the subsoil Kimmeridge Clay and Corallian Beds.
The manor of ST. HELEN'S developed out of an estate on the banks of the Thames in what is now the town of Abingdon. This is said to have belonged in the 7th century to Cilla, the niece of King Cissa and the sister of Hean. (fn. 15) According to tradition, she had licence from her uncle and from his successor Caedwalla to found a nunnery there, which she dedicated in the honour of the Holy Cross and St. Helen. (fn. 16) After the death of Cilla, who was herself the first abbess, the nunnery was moved to Wytham. (fn. 17) This story is possibly a romance, and it may be that the site known as Helenstow (fn. 18) took its name from the church there which was and is under the invocation of St. Helen.
The site of the supposed sisterhood must have been granted at an early date to Abingdon Abbey. It is probably to be identified with the 3 hides in Barton which in 1086 were held of the abbot by one Rainald, (fn. 19) elsewhere called Rainald de St. Helen. (fn. 20) They had been held previously by Alward, a priest, and Lewin, a goldsmith.
Rainald de St. Helen had a son Turstin, (fn. 21) who is recorded to have given the abbot land near the bridge of 'Yccheford' for land in Helenstow near the old weir. (fn. 22) His successor was probably the Richard de St. Helen, a knight of Abingdon, who incurred the displeasure of King Stephen. (fn. 23) Abbot Ingulf was ordered to disinherit him, but fearing that the abbey would lose its right in Richard's estates he preferred to give him money to pay his fine. This he did by stripping the gold and silver coverings from twelve reliquaries of the church. John de St. Helen, the successor of Richard, held of the abbot in 1166 three knights' fees (fn. 24) lying in Abingdon, Frilford, Hendred and elsewhere. He was succeeded by a son John whose lands were forfeited by King John (fn. 25) and restored by Henry III. (fn. 26) The younger John had two daughters and co-heirs, Meliora and Maud, the wives respectively of John de Turberville and Philip de St. Helen, perhaps a kinsman. (fn. 27) An entry in an ancient rental of Christ's Hospital suggests that part of the manor had already been granted to the gild of the Holy Cross. (fn. 28) The rest came by partition to Maud and Philip, (fn. 29) from whom William de St. Helen, the tenant in 1330, was presumably descended. (fn. 30) William had a son Philip (fn. 31) and a daughter Maud. (fn. 32) Philip was dead in 1373, when his wife Alice was holding the manor for her life in accordance with a settlement on her husband and herself in tail. (fn. 33) The reversion belonged to Maud, who conveyed it to Aumary de St. Amand. (fn. 34) Alice subsequently attempted to dispose of the manor as though she held it in fee simple, (fn. 35) but Aumary was able to make good his claim. In 1402 he settled it on himself and his wife Eleanor with remainder to trustees. (fn. 36) He died in the same year, and Eleanor entered on the manor by her attorneys. (fn. 37) She died in 1426, (fn. 38) when she held no land in Berkshire, and the manor was shortly afterwards in the hands of John Golafre of Fyfield, to whom it had probably been conveyed by the trustees.
John Golafre was an official of the gild of the Holy Cross, and seems to have acquired the manor for that fraternity. In 1434 he conveyed it to the gild with lands in Sutton Courtenay and elsewhere, which had belonged to Eleanor de St. Amand. (fn. 39)
The fraternity continued to hold the manor till its dissolution in 1547. (fn. 40) Six years later the new foundation called Christ's Hospital was established by Edward VI, who endowed it with the lands of the gild of the Holy Cross. (fn. 41) The hospital still holds the land included in St. Helen's Manor, but the manorial rights have lapsed.
BARTON (Bertune, le Berton, xi-xv cent.) must have been among the lands granted to Abingdon Abbey at the earliest period of its history, (fn. 42) though the name is not found till the time of the Domesday Survey. Abingdon and the surrounding lands were taken from the abbey by King Alfred at the time of the Danish invasions. (fn. 43) Eadred in 955 restored 20 hides which were said to have been originally granted by Caedwalla, (fn. 44) and in the same year Edwy granted 20 hides at Abingdon which seem to have extended north as far as Sunningwell. (fn. 45) The manor of Barton was thus restored to the abbey. In 1086 it included about half the hundred of Hormer–all, in fact, that was not included in the other great manor of Cumnor. (fn. 46) Shippon, Dry Sandford, Bayworth, Sunningwell and Kennington were all members of Barton. The town of Abingdon is not mentioned by name in the Survey at all; evidently it also formed part of this manor. (fn. 47) The whole estate had formerly been assessed at 60 hides, and in 1086 was assessed at 40. It included land for forty ploughs, two mills and five fisheries, and two mills 'in the court of the abbot.' (fn. 48)
The abbots continued to hold Barton as a demesne manor till the Dissolution, and though most of its members are mentioned as independent manors before that time, it seems probable that courts were held here for a large district. In the 12th century the kitchener had the right to demand from Barton three 'summagia' in the year, that is three men to do such errands as 'carrying fish for the kitchen.' (fn. 49) They were to provide their own horses and pay their own expenses. Five thousand six hundred eggs were rendered by Barton in each year, (fn. 50) and a hundred and thirty-six hens. (fn. 51) If any of the hens were not fat, or died on the way, they were rejected. (fn. 52) The straw for spreading on the refectory floor was also supplied by Barton, at the rate of five loads three times in the year. (fn. 53)
The large mansion of the abbots at Barton, which existed in 1538, was perhaps built shortly after 1328. (fn. 54) Katherine Audelett had a lease of it at the Dissolution. (fn. 55) No evidence has been found for the statement sometimes made that subsequent lords of the manor were bound to entertain royalty there when called upon. (fn. 56) The manor was granted in 1547 to Sir Richard Lee, (fn. 57) who in the same year conveyed it to Edward Herman. (fn. 58) Probably Herman was an intermediary in a sale to Thomas Reade, to whom he conveyed the manor a few months later. (fn. 59)
Thomas Reade died in 1556, (fn. 60) leaving a son and heir Thomas, (fn. 61) who settled the manor in 1596 on himself and his son Thomas for life, with remainder to his son's wife, Mary Brocket, and the heirs male of the younger Thomas. (fn. 62) The latter was knighted and served as Sheriff of Berkshire in 1606. (fn. 63) He took the Royalist side in the Civil War, and in 1645 was captured while carrying despatches, (fn. 64) but there is no record of his compounding for his estates. He died in 1650, (fn. 65) when his heir was his grandson Compton. (fn. 66) The latter, though a very young man in 1645, is always supposed to have distinguished himself among the supporters of the king. (fn. 67) He received a baronetcy in 1661, (fn. 68) and was first on the list of the proposed knights of the Royal Oak for Berkshire. (fn. 69) His son Sir Edward, who succeeded him in 1679, was Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1685. (fn. 70) He died in 1691, and his son Sir Winwood, then a boy of nine, only survived till 1692. (fn. 71) He was succeeded by his younger brother Thomas, who lived till 1752 and had a son and heir John. (fn. 72) Sir John died in 1773, and was succeeded by a son of the same name. (fn. 73) The son of the latter, Sir John Chandos Reade, was in possession of the manor in 1808. (fn. 74)
Not long afterwards it was sold to the Bowyer family of Radley, (fn. 75) who seem to have held it till late in the 19th century. (fn. 76) The present owner is Mr. Player Isaac. The manor is represented only by a single farm, and there are no manorial rights.
The Abbot of Abingdon had a grant of free warren here in 1252. (fn. 77)
NORTHCOURT (Norchote, xii cent.; Northcote, xiii cent.; Norcott, xvii-xix cent.) must have been granted to Abingdon Abbey with Barton (q.v.). It formed part of the manor of Barton in the 12th century. (fn. 78) and till the Dissolution. (fn. 79) The tithe of the vill was paid towards the support of the fabric. (fn. 80)
In 1547 Northcourt was granted to John Lyon, (fn. 81) an alderman of London, who died in 1564, leaving a nephew and heir Richard. (fn. 82) Richard Lyon settled the manor, as it was then called, on himself, his wife Isabella, and John Lyon, his son. (fn. 83) John Lyon succeeded and died in possession in 1631; his heirs were William Giffard, his nephew, and Humphrey Hyde, his great-nephew. (fn. 84) The latter seems to have bought out his co-heir; he died in possession of the estate in 1652. (fn. 85) His son Humphrey, who succeeded him, (fn. 86) died without issue in January 1676–7. (fn. 87) He had four sisters, one of whom, Anne, was married to a distant cousin, Richard Hyde, afterwards the owner of the manor of Wootton and Boreshill (fn. 88) (q.v.). According to Wood, Humphrey Hyde left his estate away from his sisters to 'one Seymour', (fn. 89) but, as Richard Hyde and Anne appear in possession of a fourth part of it in 1679, (fn. 90) this story must be discredited. The Wootton branch of the family seems to have come into possession of the whole manor of Northcourt, (fn. 91) which in 1707 was sold by Anne Talbot, Michael Hyde and Francis Hyde to Sir John Stonehouse of Radley. (fn. 92) From this date Northcourt followed the descent of the manor of Radley, passing from the Stonehouse. family into the possession of the Bowyers. (fn. 93)
SANDFORD (Sondford, is cent.; Sanford, xi cent.; West Saunford, xiii, xv cent.; Dry Sandford, xviii cent.) was said to have been among the places granted to Abingdon Abbey by King Caedwalla. (fn. 94) At the time of the Survey Hugh the cook was holding of the abbot 2 hides here with 1½ hides in Barton which in the time of Edward the Confessor were held by Lewin and Norman. (fn. 95) He had one and a half ploughs on his estate and one bordar. Altogether there was land for two ploughs, and the value of the whole was 40s. The tithe of Sandford appears in the kitchener's account of about 1377. (fn. 96)
In 1545 the manor was granted to Thomas Denton and his wife Margaret. (fn. 97) They had licence in 1556 to alienate it to John Fettiplace of Bessels Leigh, (fn. 98) whose ancestors the Bessels family had held certain lands and rents here under the abbey. (fn. 99) John Fettiplace died in possession, (fn. 100) and was succeeded by his son Bessel. (fn. 101) The latter settled part of the estate on himself and his son Richard and Richard's heirs male in 1596. (fn. 102) The remainder, including the capital messuage or manor-house, he had conveyed to John Hawkins of Marcham for a term of 2,000 years, (fn. 103) no doubt for the purpose of raising money.
Sir Richard Fettiplace, the son of Bessel, (fn. 104) appears in possession of the manor of Sandford, (fn. 105) but it is doubtful whether this means only the entailed estate or whether he had reclaimed the rest from John Hawkins. He conveyed it in 1612 to Peter Yate, clerk, and Simon West for purposes not specified. (fn. 106) The manor does not again appear among the lands of the Fettiplace family, though they continued to hold some land here, (fn. 107) which has followed the descent of their manor of Bessels Leigh (q.v.), and is now held by Miss Lenthall.
The manor of Sandford is next mentioned in 1639, when it was conveyed by John Walter and Juliana his wife to William Franklyn. (fn. 108) The Franklyn family continued to hold it for several generations, but very little is known about them. Henry Franklyn was in possession of the manor in 1689. (fn. 109) and Frances Franklyn, widow, appears to have sold it to Charles Broome and Susanna his wife two years later. (fn. 110) This or another Charles Broome conveyed it in 1720 to Richard Potenger, (fn. 111) possibly trustee for John Wright of Oxford, who purchased this manor, and seems to have died in 1766. (fn. 112) He left it to his two daughters, Dorothy wife of Edward Atkyns and Mary Wright. (fn. 113) John Atkyns, apparently the son of Dorothy, (fn. 114) dealt with a moiety of it in 1788. (fn. 115) He took the additional name of Wright in 1797, probably on succeeding to the other moiety, (fn. 116) and sold the whole manor in 1801 to Benjamin Morland (fn. 117) of Sheepstead in Marcham parish. Mr. Benjamin Henry Morland, grandson of the latter, died in 1912, leaving a life interest in Sandford to his sister Elizabeth Morland, with remainder to Mr. John Thornhill Morland of Abingdon. (fn. 118)
SHIPPON (Scipene, Sipene, xi cent.; Schupene, xii cent.; Shepyn, xv cent.) was held in the reign of Edward the Confessor by Eadnoth, the king's constable (fn. 119) or 'staller.' According to the Abingdon Chronicle (fn. 120) he held the vill of the abbey. The Domesday Survey, however, which also records the fact of Eadnoth's tenancy, denies that Shippon belonged in his time to the abbey. (fn. 121) Probably Eadnoth, who was a person of influence and importance, (fn. 122) had managed to defy the abbot's claim to overlordship.
Eadnoth's lands here and elsewhere were granted at the Conquest to Hugh Earl of Chester, (fn. 123) who before the date of the Domesday Survey conveyed all his right in the manor of Shippon to the Abbot of Abingdon. (fn. 124) It was held in 1086 by a certain Rainald, to whom the abbot had let it out in mortgage. (fn. 125) He was doubtless raising money to pay Earl Hugh, who did not make a free gift of his lands. The Abbey Chronicle records that he learnt that the vill belonged of right to the abbey, and accordingly made a public renunciation; but it adds that he demanded in return the sum of £30 and the benefit of the brethren's prayers for himself and his family. (fn. 126) The date of this transaction is given as 31 March 1090. (fn. 127) It is obvious from Domesday that there is a mistake here of some years. The two accounts are in other respects consistent.
The manor of Shippon was assigned by Abbot Ingulf (1130–58) to the kitchener of the abbey, (fn. 128) who in the 12th century derived from it an income of £9 and 3s. from the court. (fn. 129) About 1377 he received a rent of £20 from the demesne land. (fn. 130)
Shortly after the Dissolution Shippon was assigned to the duchy of Cornwall. (fn. 131) It has remained a member of the duchy down to the present day. During the Commonwealth it was purchased from the trustees for the sale of Crown lands by Martin Wright, an alderman of Oxford. (fn. 132) He lost it on the Restoration, but received a grant of £200 out of the fines due on renewals of leases by the tenants of the manor. (fn. 133)
The church of ST. HELEN, Dry Sandford, was built in 1855 of stone in the 13th-century Gothic style, and consists of a nave of five bays, a chancel of two bays terminating in a semicircular apse, and a south porch. Over the chancel arch is a gabled bellcote containing two bells. The windows are of lancet form, the roof is of steep pitch and covered with stone slates. In the churchyard is a timber lych-gate.
The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE, Shippon, built in 1855, is of stone in 14th-century style from the designs of Sir Gilbert Scott. It consists of chancel, nave, north porch and western turret with spire.
The chapels of Dry Sandford and Shippon under the church of St. Helen existed in 1284 (fn. 134) and are mentioned again in 1401. (fn. 135) Only Radley and Drayton, however, are mentioned as chapels of St. Helen in the reign of Henry VIII, (fn. 136) and it seems probable that those at Dry Sandford and Shippon had fallen into decay. They were evidently not in use in 1658, when a jury of inquiry reported that the church of St. Helen was insufficient for the people of Abingdon, with the four county villages of Shippon, Dry Sandford, Northcourt and Barton. (fn. 137) In 1733, however, the ruins were still visible. (fn. 138) As already stated, separate ecclesiastical parishes were assigned in 1865 and 1867 to the modern churches described above. The Bishop of Oxford is the patron of both livings.
Under the scheme for Christ's Hospital the poor of St. Helen's receive £10 a year in respect of a devise by a codicil to the will of John Morris, 1681, which is distributed at the hall of the hospital on Christmas Eve. Under the same scheme the National school receives the dividends on £160 consols, amounting to £4 a year, derived from the will of Richard Mayott, 1715, and also the dividends on £193 5s. 9d. consols, amounting to £4 16s. 8d., under the will of Martha King, proved at Oxford 18 November 1869.
Twitty's almshouses, founded and endowed by will of Charles Twitty dated in 1705, and subsidiary endowments, consist of the following charities, namely: Twitty's endowment, the almshouses situate on the north side of St. Helen's churchyard, trust fund, £310 consols, and an annuity of £60 secured on an estate called Headington Wyke in the parishes of Headington and Stowood, Oxon.; Edward Beasley's charity, deed 1817, trust fund, £600 consols; John Bedwell's charity, will proved in 1799, trust fund, £300 consols; Samuel Cripps's charity, will dated in 1819, trust fund, £181 4s. 6d. consols; James Cole's charity, by codicil to will proved in the P.C.C. 23 December 1835, trust fund, £193 5s. 9d. consols; Martha King's charity, by codicil to will proved at Oxford 18 November 1862, trust fund, £214 15s. 3d. consols; Thomas Griffin's charity, will proved in the P.C.C. 8 March 1855, trust fund, £93 17s. 5d. consols; Edwin James Trendell's charity, will proved at Oxford 2 November 1900, trust fund, £301 consols; Charles King's charity, will proved in the P.C.C. 16 April 1842, trust fund, £200 consols; Fanny Pickman's charity, will proved in the P.C.C. 30 April 1852, trust fund, £200 consols; the Emma Hyde gift, deed poll 5 May 1904, trust fund, £1,747 6s. 8d. consols. The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, and produce £108 10s. 4d. in annual dividends.
There are seven houses, the nurse occupying the centre house and three men and three women the others, each receiving 8s. a week. Each inmate (excepting the nurse) also receives 17s. 6d. at Christmas and 3s. 4d. on New Year's Day from Blacknall's charity. The nurse also receives £1 yearly for clothing and the almspeople £10 7s. every other year for clothing among them.
Elizabeth Hawkins's charities, founded by will proved in the P.C.C. 30 June 1780, for bread, trust fund, £1,747 6s. 8d. consols, producing £2 0s. 8d. yearly; for sermons on certain specified days, trust fund, £135 12s. 6d. consols, producing £3 7s. 8d. yearly; for church fund, £525 4s. 9d. consols, producing £13 2s. 8d. yearly. The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, the income being duly applied by the vicar and churchwardens of St. Helen's and the rural dean of Abingdon.
St. Helen's Church estate now consists of a shop formerly the inn known as the 'Cock and Bottle' in Ock Street and two houses and shops adjoining, of the rental value of £44 a year, and £168 consols, producing £4 4s. a year. The net income is paid by the feoffees to the churchwardens and applied by them for the general purposes of the church of St. Helen.
The corporation of Abingdon, under their charter of 2 & 3 Philip and Mary, pay to the vicar of St. Helen's 5s. a year, (fn. 139) also a further sum of 6s. 8d., the origin of which has not been traced. Under their charter of James II, 1686, the corporation pays £20 a year to the vicar by way of augmentation of his benefice.
In 1863 the Rev. Christopher Cleobury, by his will proved at Salisbury on 31 December, bequeathed to the poor of St. Helen's, where he was born, the sum of £100, represented by £108 19s. 11d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends, amounting to £2 14s. 4d., to be applied in the distribution of bread, fuel and clothing on St. Thomas's Day.
The educational branch, trust fund, £1,007 7s. 9d. London Corporation 3 per cent. stock, producing £30 4s. 4d. yearly, which is applicable under a scheme of 2 January 1883 for the benefit of any public elementary school in Dry Sandford.
The non-educational branch, trust fund, £1,000 like stock, producing £30 a year, of which £10 is applicable under the same scheme in the distribution of fuel, and £10 in clothing among the poor inhabitants of Dry Sandford, and £10 in supporting the burial-place of the testatrix's family at Bessels Leigh. The two sums of stock are held by the official trustees.
Charity of Benjamin Pratt, by will proved at London 13 June 1862, consisting of trust fund, £288 consols with the official trustees, producing £7 4s. yearly, which is received by the incumbent of Dry Sandford.