A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 10, Banbury Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1972.
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Wardington chapelry (2,572 a.) (fn. 1) included the hamlets of Williamscot and Coton, with which it had been linked for administrative purposes from an early date; Coton was probably always dependent, since it had no separate manor, and Williamscot, though taxed separately until the 17th century at least, (fn. 2) was probably always included in Wardington chapelry and became increasingly dependent as government through the vestry became more important. (fn. 3) To a large extent the ancient chapelry and the 19th-century civil parish of Wardington were co-extensive; the parish, however, was enlarged in 1888 to 2,670 a. by the addition of four detached portions of Cropredy; (fn. 4) and the inclusion in Cropredy of a large part of Williamscot, including Williamscot House and the school, (fn. 5) is almost certainly a post-medieval arrangement. The chapelry was bounded on the north-east and south by the county boundary. The bounds as given in a survey of 1552 (fn. 6) ran from 'Stakamforde' (a staked ford on the Cherwell presumably near Hays Bridge) along 'Edgcott hedge' to a close called 'forsworne' (later Sworn Close and afterwards Swans Close), thence along the via regia to the hoar stone, then between 'Chalkefeld' and the bishop's demesne (in Coton), then to 'Thakamhille' and along the Cherwell back to 'Stakamforde'. (fn. 7) The via regia was evidently the road from Upper Wardington to Thorpe Mandeville (Northants.) which forms part of the modern boundary of Wardington; 'Chalkefeld' is probably a contraction of Chacombe field; 'Thakamhille' may be identified as part of the Thatcham meadow which occupies much of the south-west corner of the modern parish. The most northerly portion of the chapelry lies beyond the Cherwell and was known in the 15th century as 'Overes', or, in 1762 as 'Over Hays' (whence Hays Bridge), i.e. 'over the river'. (fn. 8)
All the settlements had good communications with Banbury because of their proximity to the BanburyDaventry road which, after climbing Williamscot Hill (known locally as Kalabergo's Hill since an Italian travelling jeweller and clockmaker of that name was murdered there by his nephew in 1852), (fn. 9) passes through Wardington village, over the Cherwell at Hays Bridge, and through the Over Hays to Chipping Warden (Northants.). Two side-roads connect the road with Williamscot and Cropredy on the west and with Upper Wardington and Fern Hill on the east. The first part of the latter road is known as Great Hill, or as Madam's Hedge after Constance (d. 1773), relict of George Denton, lord of Wardington manor. (fn. 10) Other minor roads connect the settlements with each other and with Edgcott, Chacombe, and Cropredy; most of the roads were in existence before inclosure in 1762; two roads, one providing a link between Williamscot and Chacombe, the other a short length of public road in Coton, were created by the inclosure award. (fn. 11) Two footpaths, one branching from the Cropredy—Williamscot lane towards Wardington, the other running from near Williamscot towards Chacombe, were probably once roads. In 1830 the Cropredy—Williamscot lane was diverted by Thomas Loveday of Williamscot House in order to make the old, and shorter, road into a private drive to the house. (fn. 12) Wardington and Williamscot were close enough to Cropredy to benefit from the opening of the canal, and communications with Banbury and beyond were further improved with the opening of the Banbury—Rugby railway line and Chacombe halt. (fn. 13)
For the poll tax of 1377 175 people were assessed from Wardington (and presumably Coton) and 31 from Williamscot, in all more than twice the number assessed from Cropredy township. (fn. 14) In 1642 112 males over eighteen years old in the chapelry took the Protestation Oath. (fn. 15) In 1801 the population was 745, and rose to a peak of 865 in 1841; after 1851 it declined fairly steadily to 522 in 1931. In the decade 1871–81 the number of unoccupied houses rose from 15 to 19, i.e. 1 house in 9, and a local estimate of 1872 gave the number of unoccupied houses as 26. The bulk of the population lived in the two Wardingtons; in 1801 Williamscot and Coton contained only 181 people and 193 in 1841; a full statement for 1811 assigned 254 persons to Lower Wardington, 300 to Upper Wardington, 142 to Williamscot, and 60 to Coton. The population of Williamscot and Coton later declined. (fn. 16) In 1961 the population was 546. (fn. 17)
Lower and Upper Wardington (known locally as the Lower and Upper End) lie on high ground between the 400 and 500 ft. contours close to the county boundary. The name, meaning Wearda's farm, first occurs c. 1180, (fn. 18) but its form suggests that the place was settled in the early Anglo-Saxon period. Upper Wardington stands at the head of a small valley down which runs a feeder of the Cherwell, and Lower Wardington half a mile to the north-west on the west side of the valley. Near Lower Wardington, about a hundred yards from its junction with the Daventry road, the road known as Great Hill is crossed by what was apparently once an obvious earthwork; in the field to the south it was ploughed flat in the early 1920s. (fn. 19) Remnants of the earthwork, the date of which is unknown, were in 1964 visible only at the roadside.
Until the 20th century Lower and Upper Wardington were distinct settlements. Lower Wardington on the whole contains the more substantial houses, and historically was probably the principal settlement since it contained the church and, to the west of the church, a tithe barn belonging to the medieval prebendaries and their successors. (fn. 20) Although Upper Wardington is traditionally the older settlement it is reasonable to speculate that in the Middle Ages Lower Wardington was the centre of the Bishop of Lincoln's demesne estate, and before that of an earlier episcopal estate, and that Upper Wardington grew up later around the manor-houses of his knightly tenants. (fn. 21) Wardington Manor, which belongs to an estate that can be traced back to one of the bishop's 13th-century tenants, (fn. 22) stands at the west end of Upper Wardington. It is said that Lower Wardington used to be known also as Ash Tree End or Ashen End, and Upper Wardington as Barn End, or Old Barn End from Old Barn, which stands to the south-west end of the hamlet. (fn. 23)
The portion of Wardington round the church consists mainly of two-storied cottages in coursed ironstone with roofs of Welsh slate or thatch. North of the church is Studd Farm, built on an L-shaped plan; the west wing appears to be the more ancient, and dates from the 17th century. Judge's Cottage (so called from a family name) lies on the BanburyDaventry road, and was once a 17th-century farmhouse of two stories and a cellar. The Foreman's House, close to the entrance drive to Wardington House, is a two-storied building in coursed ironstone which bears the date E.R.L. 1742 perhaps for two members of the Eden family. (fn. 24)
Wardington House, formerly an inn, is a twostoried building in ironstone ashlar, with stone slate roof and modern casement windows. An inscription over the door runs: 'This house was built upon the place only as a mark of grace. And for an inn to entertain its lord awhile but not remain.' It was remodelled as a private residence in the first years of the 20th century, when it was enlarged by H. F. B. Lynch, who built a fine detached library and was also responsible for inscriptions on the house in classical Greek; he also erected the handsome pedimented archway at the drive entrance, which is said to have been copied from an archway in France. (fn. 25)
At the northern exit from Lower Wardington is the Aubreys; it is said to be named, not from the family of that name, maternal ancestors of the Cartwrights of Edgcott (Northants.) who once owned the house, but from the earth work Arbury Camp in Chipping Warden, the farm having formerly been called Arbury field. (fn. 26) Much nearer the earthwork are the Aubrey Closes in the Over Hays. The Aubreys, once a 17th-century farm-house, was later altered, and remodelled in the 19th century.
The construction of a row of cottages in the early 19th century, of the War Memorial Hall (1920), and of the private housing estate called the Greensward (c. 1950), meant that there was no longer a clear break between the manor-house in Upper Wardington and the church in Lower Wardington. Cricket and football had formerly been played on the Greensward. (fn. 27) Upper Wardington stretches along both sides of the lane to Thorpe Mandeville (Northants.). Houses were built by the Banbury R.D.C. after 1918 at the south-east end of Upper Wardington beyond an older row of cottages called Chelmscot (locally Chumscot) Row from the old name for that part of Wardington. (fn. 28) Bazeleys Farm, at right angles to the village street, bore the date 1699 (later illegible) on the north gable facing the street and is a twostoried building in coursed ironstone rubble with attics and cellars. Wilkes's Farm, on the east side of the village green has a carved stone sundial on the south gable end and is a two-storied building in coursed ironstone, probably 17th-century in origin. The Chamberlain family's farm-house stands in a hollow near the 'Plough', and retains traces of its 17th-century origin.
Three inns were recorded in Wardington between 1753 and 1786, the 'Green Man', the 'Hare and Hounds', and the 'Wheatsheaf' (also called the 'White Swan' and the 'White Lion'); from 1787 to 1821 only the two latter were recorded. (fn. 29) There were in 1966 two inns in Upper Wardington, the 'Plough' and the 'Red Lion', and two in Lower Wardington, the 'Wheatsheaf', opposite the church, and the 'Hare and Hounds'.
Williamscot (William's cottage) is first mentioned in 1166, and the form Willescot (the modern local pronunciation) is found c. 1240. (fn. 30) The hamlet lies a mile south-west of Wardington on high ground between 400 and 425 ft., at a point where the land begins to slope more steeply towards the Cherwell; the site is on the spring line at the head of a small gully. The houses are strung out along the bifurcated lane leading from Cropredy to Chacombe, but the cluster of dwellings at the southern end probably stand on the original site; Williamscot House, its associated buildings, and the school are at the north-west end of the hamlet. (fn. 31)
Although never large Williamscot was expanding in the early 19th century. In 1806 a house, lately erected on the waste, was leased for 60 years to a yeoman who built several cottages, and in 1829 sold the residue of his lease to John (II) Loveday of Williamscot. In and after 1830 Loveday remodelled the hamlet as a whole. He felt it necessary, owing to increasing population, 'that the owners of this property should have a control over the villagers, and their really disgusting abodes'. (fn. 32) In 1877 it was said that the population had fallen by two-thirds, and that 35 buildings, including 8 farm-houses, had been demolished, among them several small shops, the 'poor man's house' in which Charles I had reputedly slept, a smithy, and two or more inns. The hamlet still contained one inn after these changes. (fn. 33) The victualler's recognizances of 1753–1821 show at first two inns, and then from 1794, one. (fn. 34) The inn held by Richard Plivey in 1753 was perhaps a descendant of the brew-house leased to Joseph Plivey by Toby Calcott in 1653. (fn. 35) In the late 18th century the two inns were named the 'Beesom and Shovel' and the 'Bishop's Blaze'. The latter was named after Bishop Blaise, the reputed patron saint of woolcombers; among the tenements demolished by Loveday were some near the inn occupied by jerseycombers. A part of Loveday's improvements included the building of the lodge at the east entrance of the newly made private drive to Williamscot House. (fn. 36) It bears the date J.L. 1842.
The hamlet retains some buildings of architectural interest. Near its south-east corner is Poplars Farm, a two-storied building with gabled attic dormers, which dates from the 16th or 17th century. It may have been the three-hearth, second largest house in Williamscot included in the assessment for hearth tax in 1665. (fn. 37) In the east front on the first floor are four late–17th-century three-light windows, mullioned and transomed and with wood frames and leaded lights. Almost opposite are two reconditioned two-storied cottages, one of which was the last remaining inn, mentioned above. (fn. 38)
Home Farm House, on the south side of the lane through Williamscot is an example of a substantial yeoman's house built on a three-unit plan, through it has been much altered. (fn. 39) It bears over the front door the date B.R.M. 1699, possibly for two members of the Bull family, and is a two-storied ironstone building with a Welshy slate roof. The north-east elevation, facing the road, is unusually sophisticated for the type and date: the front doorway has a rectangular fanlight of two lights, and over it there is a moulded flat wooden canopy on scrolled brackets. In the hall, on the ground floor, is an unusual feature, a boxedout bay window; there are six three-light wood casement windows with decorative leaded lights. The house replaced an earlier Home Farm which stood just to the east of Williamscot House and was probably pulled down c. 1830. (fn. 40) Next to Home Farm House is a pair of two-storied ironstone rubble cottages built in the 1870s; they have brick shafts, thatch roofs, stone-mullioned windows, and moulded stone doorways. The neighbouring pair of cottages is much older; one of them was formerly an inn. (fn. 41)
Coton, only a farm and associated buildings in 1964, lies 1½ miles south of Wardington. Its site is a small, steep valley, down which runs a brook fed by springs; below, to the south, is Chacombe (Northants.); the farm stands off the lane from Wardington to Chacombe.
In 1225 six of the Bishop of Lincoln's tenants took their names from Coton, in 1279 there were nine villein yardlands, and for the 1327 subsidy eleven Coton people were assessed. (fn. 42) In 1552, however, there were only six holdings. (fn. 43) In 1811 there were said to be as many as sixty inhabitants. (fn. 44) By 1851, although there were still 12 houses (one unoccupied), Coton was a single farm. (fn. 45) Coton Farm and six adjacent cottages were burnt down in the 1890s and rebuilt on a smaller scale. (fn. 46) In 1964 there were no visible remains of the site of the hamlet.
Wardington chapelry was much involved in the Civil War: Prince Rupert spent the second night after the battle of Edgehill there. (fn. 47) The battle of Cropredy Bridge (fn. 48) was a fought in part over its land, and Hays Bridge was a key point in the fight. The king slept the next two nights in Williamscot, at a poor man's house because there was smallpox at Williamscot House. (fn. 49) The local theory that soldiers killed in the battle were buried at Berry or Bury Ham is belied by the occurrence of the field-name in 1552. (fn. 50)
Manors and Other Estates.
In 1086 Wardington was part of the Bishop of Lincoln's Cropredy manor, but its hidage is unknown. Much of Wardington (47 yardlands in 1279) and the whole of Coton (9 yardlands) later lay in the bishop's demesne. (fn. 51) In 1316 the bishop was returned as lord of Wardington, (fn. 52) which was among the places where he alleged breach of free warren in 1333; (fn. 53) and in 1540–1 his temporalities in Wardington and Coton were worth £49. (fn. 54) For some years after 1547, when the bishop surrendered the manor to the Crown, WARDINGTON followed the descent of Cropredy manor; but it was retained longer by the Crown, though much diminished after 1552 by the sale of six copyholds out of twenty-two in Wardington and five out of six in Coton. (fn. 55) In 1598–9 Elizabeth I granted the manor (described as lying in Wardington, Cropredy, and Coton) to Sir John Spencer of Islington, a former Lord Mayor of London. (fn. 56) He died seised of it in 1610. (fn. 57) Spencer's heir was his only child Elizabeth, wife of William Compton, later Earl of Northampton. In 1623 the Comptons partitioned their manor among 20 persons; the first purchaser named in the indenture and fine was Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, (fn. 58) already the owner of another Wardington manor. (fn. 59) The second purchaser named was Thomas French the elder of Wardington and it may be that the rights acquired by French were the basis of the assumption, first noted in 1852, (fn. 60) that some manorial rights in Wardington pertained to the Edgcott (Northants.) estate, held by successors of the French family.
Ancestors of Thomas French, Roger and John, were copyholders in 1552, (fn. 61) and were each assessed at £10 in goods the year before; John and Roger French were assessed at £6 and £5 in goods respectively in 1577, (fn. 62) in which year John French of Coton, yeoman, bought from George Chambre the title to certain tithes in Coton and Wardington. (fn. 63) The will of Thomas French (d. 1657), son of the purchaser of 1623, shows signs of affluence; (fn. 64) his son John in 1665 occupied one of the two Wardington houses with five hearths (a total exceeded only by the manorhouse), (fn. 65) and was a grand juror in Banbury hundred in 1687. (fn. 66) There are inscriptions recalling four later members of the family in Wardington church, among them 'the last of the name of an ancient family in this parish', Edmund French of Market Harborough (Leics.), who received the second largest allotment at inclosure, and died in 1776. (fn. 67) Edmund's brother William had left a daughter who married Thomas Major of Market Harborough; she held the larger part of the French estate until her son William French Major sold it to John Chamberlin of Cropredy in 1798–9. The rest of the French property was by 1785 in the hands of William Henry Chauncy of Edgcott (Northants.); in 1790 he was succeeded by Anna Maria Chauncy, who in 1796 was followed by Thomas Carter, M.P., son of Thomas Richard Carter, a lawyer, by his marriage to Anna Tobina Chauncy. In 1801–2 Carter reunited the former French property by purchase of John Chamberlin's part of it. Carter died in 1835; (fn. 68) by his will his Wardington property—then the largest in the township through sundry purchases and through the break-up of the Chamberlayne manor—passed after the expiration in 1848 of his sister Martha's life-interest to his cousin's daughter Julia Frances Cartwright, second wife of W. R. Cartwright, the owner of Clattercote. Mrs. Cartwright was described as lady of the manor in 1852; her son R. A. Cartwright (d. 1891), who in 1868 bought 90 a. of the Oxford bishopric estates in Wardington, was succeeded by his son A. T. C. Cartwright (d. 1904), whose son A. R. T. Cartwright in 1925–6 sold the estate to Raymond Courage, of the brewing house. (fn. 69)
The identity of the tenant or tenants, if any, of Wardington in 1086 is not known; but a fee in WARDINGTON was soon in the hands of a family taking their name from near-by Chacombe (Northants.). Godfrey of Chacombe flourished in the earlier 12th century; (fn. 70) the Godfrey who held Chacombe from the bishop in 1086 (fn. 71) may have been his ancestor. In 1166 his son Matthew held 6 fees of the see of Lincoln; (fn. 72) later evidence shows that a small fraction of these (usually given as 1/8) lay in Wardington, while another ¾ lay in Little Bourton. Matthew's son Hugh succeeded his father in 1168, and was an extremely active local landholder and royal servant for the next forty years. (fn. 73) Hugh made local grants of tithe to Eynsham, and endowed, if he did not found, the Augustinian Priory of Chacombe, where he eventually took the cowl. (fn. 74) In 1201 Hugh paid scutage on 5½ fees, but by 1209–12 his son Robert held 1/8 fee in Wardington; in c. 1225 Robert held 2¾ fees in Wardington, Bourton, and elsewhere. (fn. 75)
Robert's elder daughter Amabel married the judge Gilbert of Segrave (d. 1254); their son Nicholas (d. 1295), Lord Segrave, was returned as the holder of ¼ fee in Wardington in 1279. (fn. 76) Nicholas's son John (d. 1325) was returned in 1300 as holder of the 2¼ fees held in c. 1225 by his great-grandfather. (fn. 77) John's son Stephen died before his father, and Stephen's son John (d. 1353) married Margaret of Brotherton, daughter and heir of Thomas of Brotherton, a younger son of Edward I. Elizabeth, only child of John and Margaret, married John de Mowbray, Baron Mowbray (d. 1368), and the mesne lordship of Wardington thus passed to their descendants, the Dukes of Norfolk of the Mowbray line (extinct in 1481). (fn. 78)
The first known mesne tenants in Wardington were of the Smarth family. Thomas Smarth occurs in the mid 13th century; in 1279 the holder was William Smarth. (fn. 79) John Smarth held 1/8 fee in 1325; (fn. 80) in 1428 the 1/8 fee, said to have been Robert Ulger's in 1346, was held in two parts, one by John Waver (of Banbury), and the other by John Densy and another John whose surname is unknown. (fn. 81)
A second fractional fee was held of the Bishop of Lincoln by Robert son of Ralph, who occurred in a local lawsuit in 1199 and held 1 fee of the bishop in 1201–2. (fn. 82) Firm ground is reached with the tenure in 1208–9 of I fee in Wardington and Claydon by Ralph son of Robert, presumably the son of Robert son of Ralph. (fn. 83) The same man held this fee in c. 1225, (fn. 84) but this mesne lordship had come into the hands of the FitzWyth family of Shotteswell (Warws.) by 1247, when Guy son of Robert was party to a fine which shows that two-thirds of the fee lay in Wardington and one-third in Claydon. (fn. 85) Guy's son John FitzWyth occurs from 1260 to 1301, and held the fee in 1279; (fn. 86) but there appears to be nothing to show whether his descendants held any interest in Wardington and Claydon, and the family was not returned as holding the fee in 1346. (fn. 87)
The family of Basset of Williamscot were the mesne tenants of the Wardington portion of the fee. They bore one of the commonest of medieval names, but numerous references may safely be assigned to them. A grant to Clattercote Priory by William Basset was confirmed by Bishop Chesney (d. 1166). (fn. 88) Thomas Basset of Williamscot was essoined in 1199 by Robert son of Ralph, presumably the immediate overlord of the Basset family. (fn. 89) Fulk Basset occurs c. 1200, (fn. 90) and (unless two men of the same name are involved) survived for some fifty years. (fn. 91) Fulk's successor was William Basset who held 2/3 fee in 1247, (fn. 92) and was followed by Robert Basset, who was holding in 1279 and was alive in 1291. (fn. 93) The same or another Robert Basset of Williamscot witnessed an early-14th-century Cropredy deed; (fn. 94) numerous Cropredy deeds of the period 1317–37 are witnessed by Robert Basset without the distinguishing description. (fn. 95) John Basset attested in 1339, (fn. 96) but the family then disappears from Williamscot.
The Bassets' 2/3 fee came to be held of them by the family of Ulger. William Ulger witnessed local charters issued before 1239, (fn. 97) and was followed by Henry Ulger c. 1246. (fn. 98) Another William Ulger held of Robert Basset and owed castleguard at Banbury in 1279. (fn. 99) The fee in Wardington or Coton of which Thomas Ulger was returned as the holder in 1316 was evidently that held earlier by William; Thomas was still alive in 1323. (fn. 100) In 1325 there is a reference to Henry le Hulyer of Wardington and Thomas his brother, (fn. 101) who were perhaps of this family. In 1346 William Ulger was the tenant. (fn. 102) By 1428 the fee was held by Henry Freebody who was buried at Wardington in 1444. (fn. 103)
Lands in Wardington formerly held by Joan Ulger passed to Thomas Raleigh in 1377; (fn. 104) John Raleigh of Wardington conveyed to John Danvers of Calthorpe in 1416–17 a house and 8 yardlands and 10 a. of meadow in Wardington called Sheldones, and also a much smaller estate in the Bourtons. (fn. 105) It is not known whether the estate in Wardington represents part of the Ulger sub-tenancy held of Smarth or of that held of Basset; John Danvers of Wardington occurs from 1434 to 1445. (fn. 106)
It is probable that the estate of Henry Freebody passed to the Willoughby family. In 1457 Agnes Willoughby, late of Wardington, widow, was pardoned for non-appearance. (fn. 107) A suit was brought in 1533 by the four daughters of Richard Willoughby, deceased, alleging that their cousin Thomas, son of their father's elder brother Thomas, was illegitimate, being the son of a bigamous marriage. The estate involved was said to be not a manor, but property to the annual value of ten marks. (fn. 108) The suit failed, for the defendant was doubtless the Thomas Willoughby who leased a mansion house and lands in Wardington to John Butler from Aston-le-Walls (Northants.) in 1564, and with his son Anthony leased them again to Butler in 1565 for 21 years. (fn. 109) Butler brought a suit or suits concerning the repair of the house against Anthony Willoughby after Thomas's death. (fn. 110) The family of Butler of Wardington figured in the 1574 Herald's Visitation; John Butler was assessed on goods worth £15 (the highest figure in Wardington) in 1577, and still tenanted the manor-house in 1594. (fn. 111) Anthony Willoughby dealt with what, despite the earlier disclaimer, was called WARDINGTON manor in 1576, and in 1583 (being then of Launton) sold his Wardington property to George Chambre, son-in-law of Walter Calcott of Williamscot. (fn. 112)
The Chambre tenure there, as in Williamscot, was short-lived, for in 1602 Chambre's son Calcott sold the manor to Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, the judge. (fn. 113) In 1623, as already noted, Chamberlayne bought part of another Wardington manor from the Comptons; he died in 1625, and was succeded at Wardington by his second son, George, whose elder brother Thomas quitclaimed his interest to him in 1637, as Thomas's son James appears to have done in 1676. (fn. 114) George's eldest son Richard predeceased him in or before 1693, and George, who died in 1698, was succeeded by Richard's eldest son George (d. 1703). The latter's eldest son and successor Richard died in 1719, and was followed by his only surviving brother George, a Whig and so, according to Hearne, (fn. 115) 'neither a personable man, nor of any understanding'. This third George Chamberlayne was made heir to Alexander Denton of Hillesden (Bucks.), his mother's brother, and ultimately took the name of Denton; he died in 1757, (fn. 116) leaving a widow Constance (d. 1773) and an only child Elizabeth, who had married Wenman Coke and was the mother of Thomas, Earl of Leicester, known as Coke of Norfolk. The Chamberlaynes had made various additions to their original property in Wardington, including a purchase from another of the partitioners of the Comptons' manor. (fn. 117)
In 1789 Mrs. Coke sold the manor to George Rush of Imley Park, Suffolk. (fn. 118) Rush sold it in 1792, when it consisted of 320 a., to Richard Humphries of Williamscot, gentleman, and James Golby of Banbury, variously described as grocer and coalmerchant. (fn. 119) In 1793–4 Humphries and Golby sold off nearly one-sixth of their new property: besides two other small lots, the manor-house with some 40 a. was sold to John Metcalfe Wardle (also of Horley and Hornton), (fn. 120) who died in 1825. Wardle's eldest son H. M. Wardle of Weymouth sold up his estate in 1826, when the manor-house with a few acres was bought by Thomas Harris, a surgeon. Harris died in 1872; his sons Henry, Alfred, and Anthony, all surgeons, sold the house in 1873 to George Loveday, younger son of Arthur, fourth son of John (I) Loveday of Williamscot. Loveday in 1900 sold it to William Ingham Shaw of Budbrooke House, Warws., who in 1912 sold to Falconer Lewis Wallace; Wallace in 1917 sold the property, then some 16 a. to J. W. B. Pease, later Lord Wardington (d. 1950), whose son, Christopher, owned it in 1964. (fn. 121)
Wardington Manor (fn. 122) is a two-storied building of half H-shaped plan, partly renewed in ashlar. The manor-house referred to in the mid 16th century appears to have stood on the site. (fn. 123) The date and builder of the later house are perhaps given by the stone bearing the date 1665 and the initials G.C., for George Chamberlayne, in the centre of the moulded parapet facing south-east. On the stone beneath the date is a carved shield with the arms of Chamberlayne and of Saltonstall, the family of Chamberlayne's wife. It was a house of considerable size, for it was assessed on 15 hearths for the hearth tax of 1665. (fn. 124)
The house was in a very bad state when bought in 1874 by George Loveday, who gradually restored it. The next owner, Shaw, altered the dormer windows and added the low wing on the north-west containing the kitchen offices. (fn. 125) The succeeding owner, Wallace, had some further small additions made by Clough Williams-Ellis. The dining-room panelling and several fire-places were then added; the stone chimney-piece in the hall was brought from a dilapidated cottage on the estate, and is perhaps of the mid 16th century. Numerous alterations were made after 1917 by J. W. B. Pease and his architect Randall Wells. They included a small south-west wing (1923–4); the south-west porch and the floor above it; a new staircase (modelled on an older one) and the large oriel window in the library, the upper story of which was renewed. (fn. 126) The house retains its 17th-century stone chimney-stacks with twin shafts, some stone-mullioned windows with square labels, and moulded gate piers with ball finials.
WILLIAMSCOT manor was held of the see of Lincoln until 1547 when it was sold to the Crown. (fn. 127) Unlike the rest of the bishop's possessions it appears to have remained in the hands of the Crown for some time and in 1625 was stated to be held of the king as of his castle of Banbury. (fn. 128) Banbury castle was the property of the Fiennes family of Broughton, and as late as 1829 their descendants, the Trotman family, claimed rent on certain Williamscot cottages, which John (II) Loveday refused to pay on the grounds that Banbury castle, for the upkeep of which the rent was intended, was long since demolished. (fn. 129)
It is not known which of the Domesday tenants of Lincoln named under Cropredy held Williamscot manor. In 1166, however, Richard of Williamscot held a fee of the bishop; (fn. 130) Thomas son of Richard, who held a similar fee in 1201, (fn. 131) was probably his son and was presumably identical with the Thomas of Williamscot of c. 1200, (fn. 132) and with the tenant of c. 1211. (fn. 133) Thomas died during King John's tenure of the temporalities of the see, for in 1209–13 William of Duston, a baron then loyal to John, (fn. 134) held the fee in wardship, (fn. 135) presumably on account of Richard (II) of Williamscot, probably Thomas's son. Richard (II) held the manor c. 1225 (fn. 136) and as a result of his marriage to Sibyl de Saussaye, heir of Kiddington and Asterley, those two manors descended with Williamscot until 1559. In 1232, Richard being dead, Sibyl made fine for the custody of their son and heir Thomas (II), (fn. 137) who died between 1273 (fn. 138) and 1279, when Richard (III) of Williamscot held the manor. (fn. 139) Richard was active from 1267 until 1291, (fn. 140) when he died while holding the office of Sheriff of Oxfordshire. (fn. 141) The series of alternate Richards and Thomases was broken by the succession of Henry of Williamscot, who occurs down to 1309 (fn. 142) and was returned as holder of Williamscot in 1300. (fn. 143) Richard (IV) of Williamscot, Henry's son, held the manor in 1316; (fn. 144) he was an active knight in Oxfordshire down to 1355, when he was removed from the office of sheriff. (fn. 145) Already, however, John of Williamscot had been returned as holder of the manor in 1346; (fn. 146) John was himself sheriff in 1354, but was dead by 1357, when Thomas (III) of Williamscot held the family estates. Thomas occurs down to 1371, (fn. 147) when he died leaving a seven-year-old son Thomas (IV). (fn. 148) All that is known about the latter is that he was alive (and indeed married) in 1373 when on his mother's death he was placed in the custody of Sir Peter de la Mare. (fn. 149) Richard (V) of Williamscot held the family lands in 1398; (fn. 150) Ralph Williamscot, son and heir of Richard Williamscot, held the manor in 1419 and 1421. (fn. 151) Elizabeth, the mother of Ralph and widow of Richard, held Williamscot in dower in 1428. (fn. 152)
Ralph Williamscot's daughter Elizabeth married Robert Babington (d. 1464) (fn. 153) and the manor passed to their son William, and successively to his sons Richard, Edward, and William, to William's son Thomas, (fn. 154) and to Thomas's son William (d. 1577); in 1559 William sold Williamscot to Walter Calcott, (fn. 155) a successful Staple Merchant from Hook Norton, son of a burgess of Banbury. Calcott built the main range of Williamscot House, built and endowed Williamscot free school, was a rigorous estate manager, (fn. 156) and went to unusual lengths in his will to ensure perpetuation of his own memory. (fn. 157) Calcott died in 1582. His daughter Judith (d. 1585) married George Chambre (d. 1594) of Petton (Salop.); they had two sons, both named Calcott, (fn. 158) of whom the elder seems to have been his grandfather Walter Calcott's heir, but died in 1592. Calcott Chambre the younger succeeded to Williamscot, dealing with the estate in 1602, 1611, and 1615. (fn. 159) He was in financial difficulties, (fn. 160) and in 1618 mortgaged Williamscot to John Gobert of Coventry, father of his wife Lucy. (fn. 161) Gobert died in 1624, (fn. 162) and in 1633 his representatives obtained a decree requiring Chambre to sell Williamscot. (fn. 163) The Chambre family departed to its Irish property, the speculative acquisition of which (fn. 164) was in part responsible for Calcott Chambre's difficulties.
Williamscot was bought in 1633 by Edward Taylor (1595–1658), a successful lawyer of St. John's Street, Banbury. On Edward's death the manor passed to his son William (d. 1695), and so from father to son to three more Williams, who died in 1711, 1733, and 1772. (fn. 165) Elizabeth, sister of William (d. 1734), married John Loder, Vicar of Napton (Warws.); the marriage was childless, and under Loder's will his nephew, William Taylor (d. 1772), assumed the additional name of Loder. (fn. 166) William Taylor Loder's only child Anne (1755–1837) married her kinsman John Loveday of Caversham, and Williamscot afterwards descended in the Loveday family, until 1968, when the estate was divided up and sold. (fn. 167) The Loveday estate included all that portion of Cropredy civil parish which lies to the east of the river Cherwell, besides land in Wardington and Bourton. (fn. 168) After 1633 there is no record of a manorial court being held for Williamscot until 1843, when John (II) Loveday held one; none has been held since. (fn. 169)
Williamscot House, ¾ mile south-east of Cropredy Bridge, is a building of two principal stories, with attics lighted by dormer windows. (fn. 170) It dates partly from the 16th and partly from the late 18th century and is built of local ironstone. The main block, which faces south, was built by Walter Calcott shortly after his purchase of Williamscot in 1559. Its size some hundred years later may be judged from the assessment of six hearths for the hearth tax of 1665. (fn. 171) The main entrance is in the middle of the gabled north front; a first-floor oriel window over the door collapsed in 1770. In 1780 the south elevation of the main block was rebuilt in ashlar with a range of sash windows to light the principal rooms. At each end is a projecting two-storied bay window which formed part of the Elizabethan facade. The two windows are of unequal size, and it is possible that the eastern one was intended to be the central feature of a larger front, but in 1786 (fn. 172) there were only two bay windows, and there is no structural evidence to suggest that the house has been curtailed. In 1786 there was a short return wing at the east end of the house; an old cellar which was filled in in 1819 is thought to have been a remnant of the wing. The return wing at the west end contains the offices, and dates from the 16th century. The library wing, which projects westward from the main block was built in 1799 in the time of John (I) Loveday. Externally it is a plain structure faced with ashlar; internally the chief feature is a series of panelled doors which cover the bookcases. Some of the contents of the library have been dispersed. (fn. 173) The house (originally thatched) was already roofed with slate by 1780, when the north side was newly slated; about 1840 the whole house was reroofed, and a balustraded parapet added to the south elevation of both old and new ranges. A battlemented one-storied porch was added at the east end of the main range c. 1870. The lower part of an old dovecot was converted into an orangery in 1787. There is some 16th-century armorial stained glass in two first-floor windows in the main block. At the east end is a window containing the arms and crest of Calcott, and the arms of the Staple Merchants, dated 1568. Identical panels are in a window at the west end, which also contains a third panel with the undated arms and crest of the Staple Merchants. In the garden a sundial dated 1777 commemorates the marriage of John (I) and Anne Loveday. Richard Rawlinson noted the large hawthorn trees in the grounds, particularly one 60 ft. high and 3 ft. in girth; a whitethorn 62 ft. high was cut down in 1748. (fn. 174)
Two local monastic houses, Clattercote and Chacombe priories, held land in Wardington in the Middle Ages. At the Reformation Clattercote Acre Mead in the Over Hays became the property of Christ Church, Oxford, but in 1551 was omitted from a grant in fee-farm made by Christ Church of the priory estate itself. Christ Church therefore retained the Acre Mead until its sale in 1860 as 4 acres in the Aubrey Closes. It was for over a century leased to the Chamberlaynes. (fn. 175)
Chacombe Priory had received grants in Wardington, Williamscot, and Coton, (fn. 176) and its rights in Wardington, Williamscot, and Bourton were worth £6 9s. 8d. in 1291. (fn. 177) In 1537 Sir Thomas Pope obtained the reversion of the Chacombe lands in Wardington leased to William Reynsford of Wroxton by the Crown in 1536. (fn. 178) In 1545 Pope purchased a grant in fee of the reserved rents on land granted to him in 1537. (fn. 179)
When the Compton manor in Wardington was partitioned in 1623 (fn. 180) some of the eighteen minor purchasers were inhabitants of Wardington, and some of them and their descendants are traceable in later deeds. (fn. 181) One purchaser was Robert Robins of Cropredy; at his death in 1631 he was seised of a house and 56 a., and was succeeded by his son Thomas Robins, (fn. 182) who died in 1662 leaving a house comprising parlour, hall, and one chamber above each. (fn. 183) Robins's heirs, the Blagroves, sold the property to Thomas Eden, whose descendant held it in 1774. (fn. 184) Another 1623 purchaser was Philip Morrice of Dunchurch (Warws.), who died seised of a house and 3 yardlands in Wardington in 1634; (fn. 185) one of his two daughters, Martha, in 1648 married Nathaniel Coleman of Wardington, (fn. 186) whose father Joseph had already (by 1640) leased from William Sprigge of Banbury, an estate containing a house and 2 yardlands (fn. 187) which Sprigge had bought from the Spencers in 1623. (fn. 188) The house and 3 yardlands were sold by Philip Coleman and his son John to an Aynho yeoman, John Spencer, in 1703. (fn. 189) Eight families in all (Chamberlayne, French, Gardner, Short, Gubbins, Hirons, Muddin, and Hunt) survived until the inclosure of Wardington in 1762 in possession of lands bought in 1623; the Hirons family, lessees of one moiety of the Bell Land for over a century from 1572, (fn. 190) alone survived into the 19th century. John Hirons died in 1803, and his daughter's son John Hirons Hirons (originally Brewerton) broke up the Hirons estate in Wardington, which included Fern Hill and part of the later vicarage. (fn. 191)
When he sold Williamscot manor in 1633 Calcott Chambre sold off some of the estate separately in at least seven separate parts. A half-yardland was sold to Robert Baker alias Fifield, who was followed by three generations of his family, which acquired from the Eden family in 1662 a further half-yardland sold by Chambre to Edward Eden. Chambre also sold, besides a further half-yardland and two cottages, a house and 3 yardlands, which were bought back by William Taylor in 1654 only to be resold in 1658 to the Langley family, from which the property passed by marriage to Richard Goodman, a Banbury grazier, in 1770. A further 4 yardlands were sold in 1633 to George Blagrove. (fn. 192)
The prebendal lands in Wardington followed the descent of those in Cropredy. In 1863 88 a. of the Oxford bishopric estates were sold to John (II) Loveday of Williamscot; in 1868 90 a. were sold to R. A. Cartwright of Edgcott (Northants.) and 40 a. to E. Hughes-Chamberlain (all three were former lessees); in 1874 Benjamin Stacey bought the remaining 27 a., part of Hangland Farm. (fn. 193)
A modern estate of importance is that represented by the 164 a. between Lower Wardington and Prescote allotted at inclosure to Thomas Chamberlain, also of Knightsbridge (London), who was almost certainly unconnected with the Chamberlaynes of Wardington Manor. (fn. 194) Thomas (d. 1782) bought further land lying between Upper Wardington and Fernhill, and left his estate to the Revd. T. C. Hughes, elder son of his eldest daughter Rebecca by Edward Hughes, Rector of Shenington. T. C. Hughes (d. 1852), sometime Curate of Mollington and Claydon, took the additional name of Chamberlain in accordance with his grandfather's will, and was succeeded in turn by his two sons, E. H. Chamberlain (d. 1871), a lawyer, and the Revd. Thomas Chamberlain (d. 1892). (fn. 195) Thomas's successor, R. E. Hughes-Chamberlain, grandson of the younger son of Rebecca Hughes, sold the estate, then 340 a. in 1892. (fn. 196) The estate had been let in two portions. The Wardington House estate itself was bought by Francis D. Hunt of Dunchurch (Warws.), who in 1900 sold it to H. F. B. Lynch, M.P. (fn. 197) Since Lynch's death in 1913 it has been sold four times; the estate was in 1964 mostly in the hands of Mrs. Crossman, of Prescote, but she had sold Wardington House. In 1892 the rest of the former Chamberlain estate (a farm in Upper Wardington) had been sold to Charles Cartwright. (fn. 198)
The existence of a large episcopal estate at Wardington meant that the township was largely peopled and cultivated by the bishop's villeins. A survey of c. 1225 lists 59 yardlands held of the bishop in villeinage in Wardington (probably including part of Williamscot) and Coton; 52 villeins each held 1 yardland, 3 held 2 yardlands each, and 2 each held ½ yardland. Six villeins took their names from Coton. The yardlander's rent was 5s., and a long list is given of works which were reckoned as equivalent to 1s. of the rent. As the bishop by that time had no manorial demesne in Wardington some of the works, such as ploughing service on ½ a. in Lent, on another ½ a. in the fallow, and on 3 parcels of land in winter, 2 days' hoeing, and 3 days' mowing were no longer done, though others such as repairing the moat of Banbury castle, mowing the bishop's park, and various carrying services may have been performed in kind or commuted. (fn. 199)
Half a century later, in 1279, there were in all 66½ yardlands in Wardington (probably including part of Williamscot) and a further 9 in Coton. Those 9 yardlands, and 47 in Wardington, 3 fewer in all than c. 1225, were held of the bishop in villeinage; in Wardington 3 and 4 yardlands were held in demesne by the bishop's tenants Ulger and Smarth respectively; the remaining 12½ yardlands there were held of Ulger and Smarth. The yardlander's rent in Wardington and Coton was 4s. and the value of his services 3s. 10d. (fn. 200) In Williamscot at the same date there were a further 38½ yardlands. Richard of Williamscot held 12 in demesne and 12 in villeinage, and his free tenants held a further 14½. Richard's villeins paid 4s. rent for a yardland and owed works and services worth 4s. 2d. yearly. (fn. 201) In 1441 the bishop's reeve accounted for 57 works in Wardington and Coton worth 14s. 3d. There were then 31 tenants in Wardington holding a total of 40½ yardlands and one 'cotagium', and 8 tenants in Coton holding 10 yardlands. (fn. 202)
Wardington was a comparatively wealthy and populous place. (fn. 203) For the tax of 1327 41 people in Wardington and Coton were assessed, including 3 at between 5s. and 6s. 8d., 17 at between 2s. and 3s., and only one at less than 1s. The total tax paid (£4 2s. 5d.) was higher than Cropredy's or that of any other of its hamlets. (fn. 204) At Williamscot 14 people were assessed, one at 7s. 6d., 9 at 2s. or more, and 3 at less than 1s. The total assessment was £1 14s. 8d. (fn. 205) The rise of a peasant family like that of Laurence of Hardwick (Herdenyk) may have been a not uncommon phenomenon in 14th-century Wardington. Laurence held a yardland of William Smarth, and was a juror in Banbury hundred in 1279; (fn. 206) he or another Laurence bought land in the parish in 1285 (fn. 207) and a 14th-century John of Hardwick was a frequent witness to Cropredy deeds, (fn. 208) while by 1421 another John was a man of much property with land in Wardington, Bourton, Hardwick in Banbury, Banbury itself, and elsewhere, which he was able to hand on to his son. (fn. 209) For the later Middle Ages Wardington and Coton were assessed for tax at the comparatively high figure of £4 13s. 2d., and Williamscot at £2 5s. (fn. 210) The subsidy of 1524 confirms the earlier picture of a prosperous community: in Wardington and Coton 41 persons were assessed for the first payment, about half of them at between 2s. and 8s., and only nine at the lowest rate of 4d. At that date there was a fairly even distribution of wealth compared with some parishes. At Williamscot as many as 14 people were assessed. (fn. 211)
The survey of the former episcopal manor made in 1552 shows how tenements had increased in size since the survey of 1279. There were 22 holdings comprising 42 yardlands in Wardington: 5 of 2½ yardlands, 12 of 2 yardlands, 1 of 1½ yardland, and only 4 of a single yardland; and 6 further holdings comprising 12 yardlands in Coton: 2 of 2½ yardlands, 3 of 2 yardlands, and only 1 of 1 yardland. The bishop's rents from the Wardington holdings totalled £29 10s. 6½d. and those from Coton £8 9s. 9½d., besides worksilver at 3d. a yardland. In addition, 40 a. of meadow, mostly in the Over Hays, yielded £10 8s. and a further 8s. came from Fernhill; the total was £48 8s. 4d. The rent from a yardland was normally 13s, 4d., though occasionally 16s. 8d. or £1, and the fine varied from 10s. to £3 3s. 4d. (fn. 212) In 1599 a recital of leases recorded increases of 3d. a yardland in rents, (fn. 213) possibly for worksilver.
The break-up of the former episcopal estate, its further partition in 1623, and the sale of Williamscot manor in 1633 (fn. 214) were followed by much buying and selling, increased owner-occupancy, and a comparatively high level of prosperity among the yeoman farmers. For example, several yeoman farmers rose during the century to comparative affluence. The personalty of William Healey (d. 1671) and Thomas Hawtayne (d. 1677) was valued at over £100, that of Thomas Torshell (d. 1671) and Thomas Key (d. 1710) at over £200, and that of William Langley of Williamscot (d. 1744) at over £600. Langley had acquired as many as six yardlands. (fn. 215) Edward Giles (d. 1684) of Coton, though not so wealthy, lived like a gentleman, his furniture in the best rooms being worth over £50. (fn. 216)
At inclosure in 1762 there were 69 allottees, and further sub-division of freeholds followed the breakup of the Chamberlayne estate after 1790. There was also some engrossment of holdings: for instance, before inclosure John Hirons the younger had added to his holding by buying 3½ yardlands from their three former owners, and the award gives other examples of the same trend. (fn. 217)
After the mid 16th century, then, no single estate was dominant in this large township, but Wardington contained some resident gentry at the manorhouse, at Williamscot House, and elsewhere. One, Walter Calcott of Williamscot, attempted to reorganize the open fields: he required all his tenants to meet to 'sett and meare' all the fields, to repair the roads, and to plant trees. To apportion the meadows he appointed a new 'dolster' and he proposed to have the bounds of the field set, 'that is between lordship and lordship, as of late is done at Fernhill'. (fn. 218) Four years later there was a dispute concerning the 'Dolster's Hook'. (fn. 219) Calcott's dispute with Bourton over rights of common suggests that as elsewhere the commons were overstocked. (fn. 220)
There has been much continuity of individual families at Wardington. Some of the families in the survey of 1552 appear in 1623 among the purchasers of land on the former episcopal estate; (fn. 221) and descendants of eight families which purchased land in 1623 still owned land in the parish in 1762—though by 1785 all save two of them had ceased to do so, and in another 50 years both those had disappeared. (fn. 222) One deep-rooted farming family in Wardington can be traced to Thomas Sabin of Coton, aged 60 in the 1530s; (fn. 223) in Wardington John Sabin and his son, Hugh, and in Coton Robert Sabin, were copyholders in 1552. (fn. 224) Over many generations the Sabins appear as churchwardens, tenants, appraisers, jurors; the Sabin family died out in Wardington in the male line only in 1949. James Sabin and then his son James Eagles Sabin (1855–1934) rented the two Chamberlain farms for many years. J. E. Sabin's son Harold James (d. 1949) bought from the Cartwrights the farm in Upper Wardington which his family had formerly leased, and it was held by his nephew in 1964. (fn. 225)
In the earlier 13th century a two-field system was in operation in Wardington, with North and East fields there. (fn. 226) There was also mention of East and South fields. (fn. 227) In 1633 and 1651 there was still apparently a two-field system of cropping (fn. 228) although in 1613 a Middle field in Wardington was mentioned. (fn. 229) There were four quarters in Wardington field in 1762. (fn. 230) Meerhedge quarter filled the south-east angle of the parish, on both sides of the Thorpe Mandeville road; Spelham quarter lay in the south part of the parish, around Coton; (fn. 231) Southfield quarter filled the south-west angle of the parish but also included land to the north of Upper Wardington; Ash quarter lay between Cropredy Bridge and Upper Wardington, to the north of Williamscot, and like Ash furlong, mentioned in the 17th century, was presumably named after a tree under which Charles I dined. (fn. 232) In 1651 there is already a reference to 'one land below the ash'. (fn. 233) In 1762 there were two sizable areas of old inclosed land: in the Over Hays, beyond the Cherwell, and the fields in the Williamscot estate between Williamscot and the Cherwell. There were two extensive areas of meadow, Broad meadow, north-east from Cropredy bridge alongside the Cherwell, and Thatcham, along the Cherwell south of Williamscot. The latter meadow provided reeds for thatching; Broad meadow is possibly associated with such names as Broadmoor bridge in Cropredy and Prescote. (fn. 234)
What little is known of farming practice in the 17th century suggests that in Wardington the traditional mixed farming of the region was general. In the probate inventories of Wardington farmers, crops were generally of greater value than the stock. Horses rather than oxen appear to have been used for ploughing; barley, oats, and wheat were the main crops, but peas and beans also occur. (fn. 235)
An Inclosure Act for 108 yardlands was obtained in 1760; (fn. 236) the award in 1762 claimed to redistribute 2,411 a. but only 2,362 a. were allotted. (fn. 237) Among the 69 allottees may be mentioned Constance Denton (221 a.), Edmund French (192 a.), John Hirons the elder and the younger (181 a.), and Alban and William Bull (170a.). Four others were allotted between 164a. and 106 a. each. The figure includes 219 a. held on lease, part of 262 a. allotted to the Bishop of Oxford and his lessees in lieu of rectorial tithe. With two exceptions the remaining allotments were all under 50 a. The cost of the inclosure was £1,349 11s. per acre); it was the cheapest and earliest of the five parliamentary inclosures in Cropredy.
Inclosure undoubtedly speeded the trend, already noticeable, towards larger farms. In 1730 William Taylor paid over one-third of the £31 land tax assessed on Williamscot, and three others nearly one-quarter; in 1830 about three-quarters of Williamscot was divided into four farms. (fn. 238) Farms in the township were unusually large for Oxfordshire by the mid 19th century. There were three in Wardington between 146 a. and 170 a., and four in Williamscot and Coton of between 145 a. and 194 a. (fn. 239) In the 20th century the sale of the Cartwright estate in 1925–6 (fn. 240) was followed by a further amalgamation of farms. The estate consisted of 438 a., and in 1938 formed part of two large farms extending into Edgcott (Northants.). (fn. 241)
The increase in the size of farms reduced the number of labourers needed. In 1867 a labourer claimed that he paid too high a rent for his cottage which belonged to a man who had 18 or 20 cottages, and that he did not know what he would have done without the potato land which he held of Colonel North, who let land cheaper than anyone. It was 3½ miles from his cottage, but he could not get any land nearer. (fn. 242) Mid-19th-century Wardington seems to have been over-populated; in 1851 the township was mainly dependent on agriculture, and Coton in particular had a decayed look, with one farmer, nine agricultural labourers, and one widow as its householders, and three households out of eleven entirely dependent on poor relief. (fn. 243)
Around 1700 and down to the mid 19th century, there are stray indications of a greater diversity of occupation: wheelwrights, mercers, a mason, tailor, glazier, tallow-chandler, and butcher all occur; successive members of the Muddin family (John, William, and another William) were cordwainers from the 1690s to 1758; a weaver was recorded in 1703, and a dyer in 1750. A weaving industry is reported to have existed at Williamscot before 1830; this must go back at least to the days of the Lord family of Williamscot, of whom Samuel and his son Joseph were fullers in the 1670s, and Job in the 1690s. (fn. 244) In 1851, however, a rope- and cloth-maker, a plush-weaver, and a lace-maker were the only unusual occupations recorded in that hamlet. There was one master carpenter, employing three men. (fn. 245) A rope-walk and a loom operated by W. Eaves survived until almost the end of the 19th century. (fn. 246) In 1964 51 Wardington workers were engaged in the Banbury aluminium industries and in other industries; 55 people were farmers or otherwise dependent on the land. There were as many as 80 pensioner-householders. (fn. 247)
One of the five mills mentioned in the Domesday account of Cropredy (fn. 248) may perhaps be assigned to Wardington and to a tenant of the Bishop of Lincoln there. A mill pond in Wardington was mentioned c. 1225. (fn. 249) It is probable that the Thoky's mill towards Bourton, which existed before 1325, (fn. 250) was in fact in Wardington; William Toky of Williamscot, killed in 1349, or one of his family, presumably gave his name to this mill, (fn. 251) which, however, cannot have been identical with the only former water-mill now traceable in the township. This is Wardington mill, west of Hays bridge; the mill cut here is the only one in Wardington. The mill itself, now part of a dwelling, is a comparatively modern building and appears on a map of 1823. (fn. 252) Another name for this mill, probably derived from an occupier, was Hales mill—hence, perhaps, the names Ayles bridge instead of Hays bridge on maps of 1767 and 1823. (fn. 253)
A windmill mentioned at Wardington in 1602 in the manor conveyed by Chambre to Chamberlayne (fn. 254) seems to have been conveyed by Chamberlayne to Morrice and by him to the Colemans, who in 1654 leased it to Timothy Parsons, miller of Prescote mill. (fn. 255) The windmill stood at the west end of Long Spelham, on Great Hill. Another windmill, described in 1628 as 'lately built', (fn. 256) stood on Flax furlong on the Williamscot estate. In the 17th and early 18th century it was apparently leased to the miller of Slat mill in Bourton. (fn. 257) The inclosure award called it Williamscot windmill; (fn. 258) it lay near the top of Williamscot Hill, to the east of the main road, in Windmill field, and was still standing in 1829. (fn. 259)
No original records of poor relief have survived for Wardington, which for administrative purposes included Williamscot and Coton. In 1776 £310 was spent on the poor, £29 on rents for houses, and £8 on litigation and removal expenses. (fn. 260) In 1783–5 the total average expenditure, despite inclosure of the chapelry, fell to £256 but 20 years later it was four times as much (£1,046), an increase well above the average for the parish and the hundred. In 1803 there were 50 adults and 41 children on regular out-relief and 14 on occasional relief, at a cost of £930; £71 was earned by the paupers. There was a workhouse with 11 inhabitants who cost £95. At that date the poor of the parish were farmed. At 9s. 11d. in the pound Wardington's rate was higher than that of any place in the hundred except Charlbury and Banbury and their dependent hamlets, and expenditure per head of population at nearly 38s. was considerably higher than in any other place. (fn. 261) Unlike other places in the neighbourhood Wardington spent less on the poor in 1816 than it had in 1803, despite rising population, and although expenditure reached its peak in 1818 (£1,188) it rose less sharply than elsewhere and the rate per head had fallen to under 25s. (fn. 262) The total in 1826 was lower than at any time earlier in the century and the economic crisis of that year was delayed in Wardington until 1828. The village also seems to have almost entirely escaped the distress of the early 1830s, and in 1831 the sum spent per head had gone down to under £1. Expenditure was falling before the implementation of the new Poor Law and fell still further in 1835–6. Wardington later became part of the Banbury Union. (fn. 263)
Wardington chapel was in existence by the 12th century at least. (fn. 264) It was dependent on the mother church of Cropredy until 1851, when it was created a perpetual curacy in the gift of the Bishop of Oxford, the parish containing the hamlets of Williamscot and Coton. (fn. 265)
The endowment of the new benefice consisted partly of a modus of £59 16s. for which the small tithes in Wardington, then belonging to the Vicar of Cropredy, had been commuted at inclosure in 1762, (fn. 266) of a tithe rent-charge of £15, and of £61 10s. from a lease of glebe. The burden of collecting the modus was considerable as it was payable in eighty parts, varying in amount from £5 7s. to 1¾d. (fn. 267) The main developments in the enhancement of the value of the living were its endowment in 1877 with £170 yearly, reduced the following year by £9 6s. 8d. in consequence of the addition of 2½ a. to the parsonage grounds, (fn. 268) and its endowment in 1927 with a further £51 yearly on grounds of an increase in population. The income was stabilized by the sale of the glebe (25 a. near Cropredy Bridge) for £1,345 in 1919, and by the partial sale of the modus in 1924 for 23 years purchase. (fn. 269) Finally the living was improved by £60 yearly which accrued from the archbishops' Challenge to the Laity Fund. (fn. 270)
Wardington, like the other chapelries of Cropredy, suffered from the great extent of the parish and the difficulty of getting suitable curates. Only two preReformation curates are known: Robert in the late 12th century, who witnessed a charter as priest of Wardington, (fn. 271) and John Pratte, priest of Wardington in 1526, who received a stipend of £5 6s. 8d. yearly. (fn. 272) During the religious changes of the 16th century the curates subscribed. (fn. 273) The bitterly anti-Catholic and strongly Calvinistic theological writer Peter Allibone (1560–1629) (fn. 274) came of a long-established Wardington family and was at Williamscot school in 1575; but there is no evidence that his Wardington contemporaries shared his views. In the 17th century Robert Chamberlain, curate in 1606, was possibly a member of the local family of gentry of that name; (fn. 275) John Clarson, member of a clerical family established at Horley, was minister c. 1615, and the names of six other curates are known. (fn. 276) Clarson's successor John Parry came into conflict on matters of doctrine with one of his parishioners, Thomas Gubbins, who was presented for slandering past ministers, some of whom, he said, were 'drunkards and whoremasters', and for disgracing the minister openly in church on a Sunday morning. Gubbins charged Parry with false doctrine and lying in the pulpit; he threatened to complain to the assize judge. Gubbins and others also refused to pay their dues. (fn. 277) The religious unrest of the times may be reflected in the whole parish's refusal to agree to repair the church seats. (fn. 278) The Protectorate attempted to remedy matters by creating a separate ecclesiastical parish for Wardington, Williamscot, and Coton in 1657, but no permanent change was made. (fn. 279) Richard Claridge of Farnborough (Warws.), who served the cure some time after the Restoration, later became a Baptist and then a Quaker. (fn. 280) A later curate, Jonathan Hilton, was also curate of Claydon and taught school at Williamscot; (fn. 281) in 1685 he was presented for marrying several persons without banns or licence. (fn. 282)
More often than not in the 18th century the church was served by the Vicar of Cropredy himself, as in 1739, or, if the vicar was an absentee, by a curate resident at Cropredy, as was the case c. 1800. (fn. 283) In 1739 the vicar on account of his ill health was proposing to get a second curate who would relieve him of his duty at Wardington, where he held a service with a sermon every Sunday, administered communion four times a year, and read prayers in Lent and on most holy days. (fn. 284) The same number of services were held in 1808, but the number of communicants had dropped from close to 100 in 1738 to 40–50. (fn. 285) Even so not more than four persons in Wardington were reported absent from church through indifference to religion and, except briefly in 1690, no organized dissent appeared until 1815. (fn. 286) Except for an increase in the curate's salary between 1811 and 1816 (fn. 287) there seems to have been little improvement until the creation of the separate benefice. Thereafter the vicar was resident in a new glebe house, a two-storied coursed ironstone structure, originally two cottages, which he had bought himself for £672 (subsequently reimbursed by subscriptions) and converted for a further £491; the house stands opposite the drive to Wardington House and on the south gable-end is the inscription '1668 Elizabeth Kench'. The former curate's house, a small cottage occupied in 1811 by the Wardington parish clerk, had been sold in 1832. (fn. 288) After a visit to Wardington in 1855 Bishop Wilberforce wrote: 'the house (i.e. the new parsonage-house) too small in its rooms etc. and the money too much laid out on small ornaments, but a wonderful gain to have got a resident clergyman.' (fn. 289) In 1865 the parsonage-house was conveyed to Queen Anne's Bounty. Its damp condition produced eloquent pleas from a later incumbent, Marsh Kirkby, after 1913; he claimed that the upkeep of the house had 'beggared' him 'more than anything else'. (fn. 290)
In 1854 the first Wardington incumbent, Charles Walters (d. 1877), reported that he held two services on Sundays, read Matins daily, catechized at least once weekly, and administered the Sacrament every first Sunday to between 25 and 35 communicants and on major festivals to between 40 and 50. On Sundays the afternoon attendance (350–400) was high, and was double the morning one of 180; Walters thought the lower morning attendance the result of a lazy habit 'arising from the past, when there had been only one Sunday service'; but the figures show a distinct improvement on those for 1851. (fn. 291)
In 1866 the vicar was still finding it difficult to get people to church in the mornings; he reported that many church-goers sometimes attended the dissenting meeting, and that of the regular dissenters, 50 to 60 in number, 'one and all look in sickness for the parish priest'. (fn. 292) His difficulties appear to have been partly personal. When he tried to get his church restored in 1871 and an offer of £250 towards the repair fund was made by Thomas Chamberlain, who had just inherited his family's Wardington estate, influential persons on the spot declined to do anything on the plea of the vicar's unpopularity. (fn. 293)
Restoration of the church was finally carried out during the incumbency of Walters's successor, John Welburn (1877–1913). (fn. 294) Welburn also raised £2,000 for the restoration of the organ; and in 1912 he initiated a fund for the church tower. (fn. 295) His first visitation return of 1878 shows him, moreover, as a conscientious priest. (fn. 296) By the end of his tenure the number of Easter communicants was double that of 1854. (fn. 297)
The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE (fn. 298) consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, vestry (on the north side of the chancel), south chapel, south porch, and an embattled west tower. The earliest features of the building date from the 12th century. There is a partially blocked 12thcentury window in the south wall of the chancel, and the southern respond of the 12th-century chancel arch remains embedded in the wall behind the pulpit. At the east end of the north nave arcade are the responds of a 12th-century arch, indicating the existence of a transept or north chapel, whose site is now occupied by the east bay of the north aisle. The existing nave and aisles were built in the 13th century. They are separated by arcades of five arches on each side. Most of these rest on plain circular columns, but the three westernmost piers on the south side have roughly formed compound shafts. The south aisle, which retains its original doorway and two three-light lancet windows, is narrower than the north aisle, which is slightly later in date. The greater width of the north aisle was probably determined by the presence of a 12th-century transept at its east end. Early in the 14th century new windows were inserted in the chancel and at the east end of the north aisle. The clerestory was also constructed in the 14th century, but the two easternmost windows on the south side were replaced by larger three-light windows in the 15th century. The west tower was added before the end of the 14th century. The vestry was built in the 15th century; until 1915 it had an upper room or loft reached by a ladder. The screens which separate the chancel and the south chapel from the nave and the south aisle respectively incorporate portions of medieval tracery, that of the chapel dating from the 14th century.
There are stray references to minor repairs in the 17th century, (fn. 299) and a gallery had been taken out by 1855, when Bishop Wilberforce considered its removal a great gain. (fn. 300) The question of a restoration was raised in 1871 and again, in vain, in 1879, when Ewan Christian, a London architect, was called in and produced a report which condemned the condition of the church in terms which ranged from 'seriously bad' downwards. (fn. 301)
The main fabric, including the chancel, was restored in 1887 and 1889, in accordance with the plans of Ewan Christian, at a total cost of nearly £2,000; the floor was relaid and new seats substituted for the former 'huge square pews and other expositions of bad taste'; an eagle lectern carved by the village carpenter (Bonham) was installed, and also a new oak pulpit. The small round window above the chancel arch was filled with stained glass representing St. Mary Magdalene. The choir seats and desks were renewed in 1890; the south porch had been restored before the rest of the building. (fn. 302) The proposed scheme of restoration was not, however, carried out in full: in 1887 George Loveday of Williamscot House successfully resisted a proposal to move the organ into the 'south or lesser chancel' (i.e. the south chapel) on the grounds that the chapel belonged to him as owner of the manor-house. (fn. 303) The organ, renovated in 1950, was in 1969 in the north aisle.
The first restoration was not entirely well done: the new chancel roof was heavier than the old, the chancel foundations had already been in places entirely displaced by the insertion of coffins, cracks began to appear in the chancel walls in 1913, and the roof of the lower story of the vestry fell in. Further work was therefore carried out on the vestry, chancel, and chapel in 1915 at a cost of about £1,000. Later nearly £1,900 was spent on the tower, clerestory windows, and chancel arch; the tower was extensively refaced and buttresses were added at the end of the chancel. The builders in this third instalment of restoration were Messrs. Franklin of Deddington and, for the tower, Messrs. Booth of Banbury; the architect was W. T. Loveday. A reredos was set up in the sanctuary in 1932 to commemorate the work of J. E. Sabin as churchwarden. (fn. 304) In 1933–4 electric light was installed in place of oil lamps. (fn. 305)
The octagonal font bears the letters 'RM RS' and the date 1666. (fn. 306) In the south aisle are two medieval tomb-recesses. One contains a curious monument consisting of a foliated slab with the head and joined hands of an ecclesiastic carved in a recess.
At the east end of the south aisle is a floor brass to Henry Freebody, gentleman (d. 1444). (fn. 307) The south chapel contains a monument to George Denton (d. 1757) and four floor slabs (two of them armorial) to members of the Chamberlayne family; the east window of the chapel was formerly blocked up, but was restored as a memorial to John, Lord Wardington (d. 1950). The chapel also contains mural tablets in memory of members of the Wardle, Loveday, and Wallace families. In the chancel are memorials to members of the French family, and two windows inserted in memory of the Chamberlain family. (fn. 308)
The six bells are of mixed dates from 1669 to 1841; all originally came from the Bagley foundry in near-by Chacombe. The present treble, fifth, and tenor bells were cast by that family in 1669, 1682, and 1685, but the other three were replaced by new bells in 1791, 1795, and 1841. (fn. 309) The bells were rehung in 1899. (fn. 310)
The church plate includes a silver chalice bearing the names of the churchwardens of 1612 (one of them a Sabin), and a silver flagon and paten given by Mrs. Chamberlayne in 1750 and bearing the Chamberlayne arms. (fn. 311)
Wardington church had an old tower clock, repaired in 1864. A new clock was installed in July 1900 by J. Smith, Midland Clock Works, Derby. (fn. 312)
The churchyard was enlarged in 1899 and 1957. The registers, which date from 1633, are complete, except for a few gaps in the Civil War period. (fn. 313)
Nonconformity took root at Wardington earlier than elsewhere in the Cropredy area: the house of Thomas Acrill was registered as a meeting-house in 1690. (fn. 314) It is not known what denomination it served, but was probably not Quaker since Acrill does not appear in the Quaker registers of the period. Two Quaker families lived in Williamscot at the time but by 1739 there was only one Quaker family in the whole parish. (fn. 315) In 1808 four families of 'Anabaptists' were reported to be at Wardington, but without a public meeting place or any kind of minister. (fn. 316) In 1815 the house of Thomas Eaglestone of Wardington and in 1816 that of Richard Barns of Williamscot were registered as places of dissenting worship. (fn. 317) Both were for Methodist groups, as the Methodist minister of Banbury was among the signatories to each application. In 1827 a Wesleyan chapel was registered in Wardington on the application of George Birley. (fn. 318) It was built on land in Upper Wardington which Thomas Wilson, a Wardington mason, had purchased from the Wardle estate in 1826 and demised to trustees. (fn. 319) In 1851 the attendance was 126 in the afternoon and 127 in the evening, and the Sunday school was also well attended. (fn. 320) The average congregation during the previous six months was 120 in the afternoon and 75 in the evening; the services were then taken by a local preacher. (fn. 321) The figures, which were much higher than the attendances recorded at the Anglican church, undoubtedly included villagers from outside Wardington. The vicar in 1854 remarked that 'comparatively speaking few would acknowledge themselves dissenters, though many, who come to Church, go to Meeting House also'; and that there was no doubt that a 'dissenting leaven' in the parish tended to hinder his work. (fn. 322) In 1866 there were said to be between 50 and 60 dissenters, though others at times attended the meetings. (fn. 323) The chapel, which measured 43 ft. × 13 ft. and contained 127 free and 50 other seats, was sold by its trustees to George Loveday of the adjoining manor-house in 1895, when another chapel was built on an adjacent site bought from Loveday for £55, more than covered by a single donation. (fn. 324) The cost of rebuilding was £946. The chapel, as in 1964, had no resident minister, but was served from Banbury.
The chief school in the township was the free school at Williamscot founded by Walter Calcott in 1574, which is described briefly elsewhere. (fn. 325) Though located in Williamscot the school served the parish as a whole; the hamlet could itself send six children to the school, chosen by lot, and later an additional two chosen by the Vicar of Cropredy and supported by a charity, Ditchfield's gift, worth 40s. a year; (fn. 326) Wardington and Coton could send eight.
From the beginning the school's history was a chequered one. There were three masters between 1574 and 1581, and in 1590 the fourth master, William Wilson, was removed for insufficiency, following the annual visitation by an Oxford M.A. prescribed by the founder. (fn. 327) In 1739 the vicar still reckoned the school as a grammar school, but he described it as 'of little use' through the master's 'incapacity'. (fn. 328) By 1800 the smallness of the endowment (£15, together with parents' contributions) was giving difficulty although the master had the right, which was usually exercised, to keep a few boarders, and there were three masters between 1797 and 1808. (fn. 329) In 1808 the patron usually allowed more than six children from Cropredy to attend to keep up the numbers of the school, as some of the other villages did not take up all their vacancies, but by then the school taught no more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. (fn. 330) In 1815 there were 24 charity boys aged five to fourteen; in 1816 there were 23, and a further 29 pupils (including two girls) who paid fees; (fn. 331) in 1819 there had been unsuccessful negotiations for affiliation to the National Society; (fn. 332) but the master was instructed in Bell's system, and next year the vicar was fully satisfied with him. (fn. 333) The number of children in 1843 was 42, with paying scholars, and they were still taught on the Madras system. (fn. 334) The school was closed in 1857. Its endowments were then converted to the support of Cropredy National school and to educational purposes in the other townships. (fn. 335)
The school is a rectangular two-storied building with a Welsh slate roof and three- and four-light stone mullioned windows with square labels; (fn. 336) there is an achievement of the arms of Calcott dated 1574 over the twin doorways. The eastern part contained the school; the western part has three rooms on the ground floor. In 1665 the school was assessed for tax on three hearths. (fn. 337) The bell, given in 1588 by George Chambre of Williamscot, which now hangs in 19th-century gear in the garden of Cropredy school-house, was probably given for the use of Williamscot school; (fn. 338) as late as 1877 it stood in a wooden bell-turret at the east end of Williamscot school. The dunce's stool stood outside the school door at what was then the road side. (fn. 339)
Jonathan Hilton (curate of Wardington 1678–81) was presented in the Peculiar court in 1685 for teaching school at Williamscot without licence, (fn. 340) but does not appear to have been the master of the free school there; George Hunt(d. 1705), of Williamscot, schoolmaster, is also mentioned. (fn. 341) In 1808 the Vicar of Cropredy recorded the existence of a joint and 'not well conducted' Sunday school for Wardington and Williamscot; (fn. 342) in 1814 he returned that he was establishing a Sunday school at Wardington, (fn. 343) presumably that containing 60 to 70 scholars and supported by subscription which he reported next year. He also mentioned a day school at Wardington, the master of which was about to be instructed in the Bell system; but that school seems to have been short-lived. (fn. 344) In 1818 the vicar reported that there was a Sunday school at Wardington for 25 girls, and one at Williamscot (i.e. at the free school) attended by 60 children from both Cropredy and Wardington; he commented on the lack of means at Wardington for the education of poor children (said to number 78 in 1815). (fn. 345) By 1833 the situation had improved: there was a day school for 36 girls, established in 1827, and supported by subscriptions; a day school for 34 boys, combined with a Sunday school for 25 boys, supported partly by endowment and partly by subscription; and a Sunday school for about 75 children, supported by the vicar and curate. (fn. 346) Wardington National school was built in 1845 opposite the manorhouse; the subscribers had put up £680 10s., and the extra cost of the building (some £200) had been paid by the Vicar of Cropredy. The school was built on entailed land owned by Miss Carter, but owing to her solicitor's failure to alienate the site the new school lost all donations which might have been expected from the government or the National Society, and in 1856 still existed only on the sufferance of the new owner, Mrs. Cartwright. (fn. 347) The attendance in 1854 was given as 46 boys and 32 girls, slightly more than then attended the Sunday school; both schools, and a school on winter evenings, for adults aged between 15 and 21, were said to be 'supported with difficulty by voluntary subscriptions'. (fn. 348) By 1867 the school had an average attendance of 80 children and received an annual grant. (fn. 349) In 1870 there were 159 children on the roll and average attendance was 102; the general condition of the school was described by an Inspector as above the average. (fn. 350) In 1871 there was also a private school for 23 children. (fn. 351) In 1894 76 children attended the National school and in 1902 97. (fn. 352) The school was renovated in September 1947, and since has been attended by children up to 11, while the older children travel to schools in Banbury. In 1970 there were 43 children on the school roll. (fn. 353)
In 1851 the Wesleyan Sunday school in Wardington was attended by 73 scholars in the morning and 75 in the afternoon. (fn. 354) It was still in existence in 1891 when Edwin Cowley left £100 on trust, the income to be divided between the Wesleyan chapel and Sunday school. In 1854 George Watson was giving financial support to a Wesleyan day school in Wardington, attended by 65 girls and 30 boys, and a night-school attended by 30 scholars; by his will of 1856 he bequeathed money for the school, but the school was no longer in existence by 1878. (fn. 355) By Schemes of 1879 and 1930 Watson's charity was altered to assist Methodist or Congregationalist children in Wardington to attend secondary schools. (fn. 356)
Charities for the Poor.
In 1703 William Healey bequeathed £92 12s. and in 1771 Constance Denton (d. 1773) bequeathed £100 to the poor of Wardington, Williamscot, and Coton. In 1786 £7 10s. interest on the bequests was distributed among those poor not in receipt of parish relief. (fn. 357) The capital was applied (c. 1820), together with money raised locally, to purchase land on which cottages were built for the poor, who were then to receive small regular sums amounting to £7 10s. a year from the poor rate, in place of the former dividends from the charities. (fn. 358) The property was later rented, and from at least 1909 the income of about £6 5s. a year has been distributed in coal to poor persons. In 1929 4 tons of coal were distributed among 33 people. The income was still £6 5s. in 1969, and coal was distributed at Christmas. (fn. 359)
After the coming of the canal W. H. Chauncy, by will proved in 1790, and Robert Turner, by will proved in 1807, left £20 and £10 for the sale of coals to the poor of Wardington at wharf prices. Turner's effects, however, were insufficient to fulfil the conditions of his will, and 14s. in the pound was accepted. In 1825 the interest on Turner's charity was being used towards the distribution costs of the coal purchased with Chauncy's charity. (fn. 360) By 1870 these two charities were lost, and it was presumed that instead of selling the coal to the poor the coal had been given away and the money lost. (fn. 361)
In 1825 £1 a year was charged on Fernhill farm, Wardington, and was distributed to women and children in Williamscot at the rate of 4d. each: it was called stone picking money, and may not have been a charitable donation. (fn. 362) The £1 was still being paid in the 1920s at the rate of 3d. a week, but by 1969 it had been lost. (fn. 363)