A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 11, Wootton Hundred (Northern Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1983.
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Steeple Barton lies 11 miles (18 km.) north of Oxford and 9 miles (14 km.) south of Banbury. (fn. 1) It covers 2,906 a. (1,176 ha.) of mainly limestone uplands, intersected by the river Dorn and its tributaries, notably the Cockley brook. Until 1932 the parish was intermixed with that of Westcott Barton (1,049 a. or 425 ha.), and the two parishes, although separate by the 11th century, (fn. 2) presumably once formed a single unit. Steeple Barton parish itself was divided into three townships: Middle Barton in the north-west, Steeple Barton, in the Middle Ages called Great Barton or Barton St. John (from the lords of the manor), along the west bank of the Dorn in the middle of the parish, and Sesswell's Barton, earlier Barton Ede (from its 14th-century lord William Shareshull and its early 13th-century lord Odo or Otes), east of the Dorn. (fn. 3) There were two small detached portions of Middle Barton in Steeple Barton township. (fn. 4)
Until parliamentary inclosure in 1796, the lands of Middle and Wescott Barton lay intermixed in a single field system. In 1766 there were 48 pieces of Westcott Barton, ranging in size from 2 ridges to 4 a., in furlongs otherwise titheable to Steeple Barton. The inclosure award abolished most of the small detached portions and made the Kiddington-Worton road the boundary between the parishes, but it confirmed the existence of eleven detached parts of Westcott Barton (c. 118 a.) in Steeple Barton, and six detached parts of Steeple Barton (c. 166 a.) in Westcott Barton. (fn. 5) In 1855 Westcott Barton was said to have six detached parts, and Steeple Barton twelve, containing c. 196 a., (fn. 6) and in 1881 there were ten detached pieces of Westcott Barton (121.6 a.), and six of Steeple Barton (183.4 a.). (fn. 7) Under the Divided Parishes Act of 1882, two detached parts of Steeple Barton (8 a.) were transferred to Westcott Barton, and seven detached parts of Westcott Barton (85 a.) were transferred to Steeple Barton. The remaining four detached pieces of Steeple Barton (175 a.) and two detached pieces of Westcott Barton (36 a.) were transferred by the Oxfordshire Review Order of 1932. (fn. 8)
The boundary of the modern parish of Steeple Barton follows the Oxford-Banbury road and a small tributary of the Dorn on the east, the Kiddington-Worton road on part of the west, and modern field boundaries on the north and north-west. On the south-west the boundary with Wootton parish is the same as that recorded in 958, following a small valley. (fn. 9) The line of the boundary through Middle Barton village was disputed in the mid 19th century; it was slightly altered in 1851, and not finally settled until 1860. (fn. 10)
The name Barton, usually meaning 'outlying grange', (fn. 11) implies that Steeple Barton was originally part of a larger estate, probably one centring on the important royal manor of Wootton. Although Steeple Barton, with Sandford St. Martin which formed part of Steeple Barton manor in the Middle Ages, had been alienated by 1086, its villeins claimed in 1279 to be villeins of ancient demesne. (fn. 12)
Most of Steeple Barton lies between the 107 m. and the 137 m. contours, rising gently from 97 m. in the south-east corner to 142 m. on the western boundary and 150 m. near the Duns Tew road. The high ground is mainly limestone of the Great Oolite, but it is broken by the river Dorn and its tributary streams with their bands of alluvium, clay, lower estuarine gravel, Chipping Norton limestone, and Sharps Hill beds. All three settlements in the parish were originally built on the clay of the Dorn valley. (fn. 13)
The Oxford-Banbury road runs along the eastern edge of the parish, and the BicesterEnstone road runs across it from east to west. The latter road does not seem to have been a major one until it was turnpiked in 1793. It was disturnpiked in 1876. (fn. 14) There was a tollgate at Bartongate, at the junction with the Duns Tew road. Minor roads connect the parish with Over Worton, Duns Tew, Kiddington, Glympton, and Wootton; other minor roads were altered or destroyed at inclosure in 1796 and in the following years. (fn. 15) Three bridleways follow the lines of old roads. The most northerly, Rayford Lane, leaves the modern road at Bartongate and runs south, crossing the Dorn at Rayford, to join the road from Middle to Steeple Barton. Church Lane, a hollow way, called Woodstock Way in 1849, (fn. 16) runs south from the church along the west side of the Dorn valley. It ends abruptly just north of the outlying farm site, Purgatory, and a modern bridleway follows the line of the river to Tittenford Bridge, but until 1864 the road crossed the Dorn at Rainsford (earlier Ramford), justnorth of Tittenford Bridge. (fn. 17) The third bridleway, called Wootton Way in 1849, (fn. 18) runs south along the high ground east of the Dorn from above Barton Abbey into Wootton parish where it becomes a hollow way known as Dornford Lane. One or both of those bridleways may represent an ancient route from Woodstock or Wootton to Steeple and Sesswell's Barton. (fn. 19)
The earliest bridges over the Dorn were one at Rainsford, recorded c. 1192, one in Steeple Barton village, recorded c. 1200, and one at Rayford, recorded in 1279. One of them, perhaps at Rainsford, was of stone in the earlier 13th century. (fn. 20) Justine Dormer (d. 1627) left £5 to build, or rebuild, a cart-bridge over the Dorn in Steeple Barton, (fn. 21) presumably on the site of the modern bridge north-east of the church. The parish constable repaired footbridges at Middle Barton mill in 1795, at Puddle Wharf in Middle Barton in 1803, and at Lettam brook in the north of the parish in 1823. (fn. 22) Changes in the road pattern resulted in the disappearance of the bridge at Rainsford by 1767 and of that at Rayford by 1880. (fn. 23)
In the 19th century and the early 20th there was a carrier in Middle Barton who went weekly to Woodstock, Chipping Norton, Banbury, and Oxford. (fn. 24) The nearest railway station is Lower Heyford, opened in 1850. (fn. 25) No post office was recorded until 1880. (fn. 26)
The townships of Steeple and Sesswell's Barton were inclosed early; Steeple Barton perhaps as early as the 14th century, and Sesswell's Barton in the 17th and 18th centuries. In Middle Barton there was some piecemeal inclosure in the 18th century, but over most of the township the open fields survived until parliamentary inclosure in 1796. Middle Barton fields were mostly farmed from farmhouses in the village, but in Steeple and Sesswell's Barton there were early outlying farms. In 1579 there was a house in Shepper's Close in Steeple Barton, probably in the field north of Purgatory called Shepherd's House ground in 1849. (fn. 27) A house was built at Purgatory, then called Dry Grounds, c. 1733. (fn. 28) By 1767 there were two other outlying farmhouses: Barton Grove, on the site of Newbarn Farm in Sesswell's Barton, and Twentyacre Farm in Middle Barton. (fn. 29) The buildings at Twentyacre had been demolished by 1855, and Purgatory, which was a small settlement of 8 families in 1851, was abandoned in the earlier 20th century. (fn. 30) Whistlow Farm, north of the Enstone-Bicester road in Sesswell's Barton, was first recorded in 1796. By 1833 there were houses at Leys Farm in Middle Barton and on the site of Barton Lodge in Sesswell's Barton. (fn. 31)
The medieval field names Suckelawe, Stanlow, Langelawe, Lucchelaue, and Wistaneslawe (probably the modern Whistlow) (fn. 32) suggest that the two surviving hoarstones represent less than half the number of barrows once to be found in the parish, but no prehistoric settlement sites have been identified; Maiden Bower, despite its name, is not an Iron Age camp. (fn. 33) Tesselated pavements, perhaps from a Roman villa, were found in the parish in the 18th century. (fn. 34) In 1086 Steeple Barton was divided among three estates; on one, probably corresponding to the later townships of Steeple and Middle Barton, 32 men, 9 of them serfs, were recorded; on another, corresponding to part of Sesswell's Barton, 7 men, 1 a serf; and on the third, which extended into Rousham parish, 18 men, 3 of them serfs. (fn. 35) The total population of the parish may have been c. 200, divided between two settlements, later Steeple and Sesswell's Barton, one on either side of the Dorn. Middle Barton was first recorded by name about the early 13th century, (fn. 36) but there was probably at least a mill on the site in 1086.
In 1279 there were 26 villeins and 7 free tenants on Steeple Barton manor, 13 villeins and 11 free tenants, not all of them resident, in Barton Ede. (fn. 37) Steeple Barton was the chief settlement in the early Middle Ages, but by 1306 when only 4 people were assessed for subsidy there compared with 16 in Middle Barton, (fn. 38) it had been largely deserted; a hollow way and house platforms survive in the fields on either side of the Dorn east of Church Farm. The move may have been encouraged by changes in the field system brought about by the consolidation and at least partial inclosure of the St. John demesne lands along the west bank of the Dorn in the course of the 13th century.
In 1377 Sesswell's Barton was the most populous settlement, having 57 contributors to the poll tax; the village then extended along the east bank of the Dorn at least as far as its mill, c. ¼ mile south of Barton Abbey. Steeple and Middle Barton, which had suffered severely from the Black Death, had 55 contributors. (fn. 39) One hundred and three men and women in the parish took the protestation oath in 1641, and five refused, (fn. 40) making a total adult population of 108, compared with 112 in 1377. The population had not risen much by 1676 when 96 conformists, 10 papists, and 6 non-conformists were reported. (fn. 41) The low population is presumably to be explained by the depopulation of Sesswell's Barton, where in 1662 only 12 householders were assessed for hearth tax, 10 of them on one hearth only, compared with 34 in Steeple and Middle Barton. (fn. 42)
Eighteenth-century vicars and curates reported 50 or 60 houses in the parish. (fn. 43) In 1801 there were 78 houses, occupied by 393 people, almost all in Middle Barton; in 1805 the curate reported that there were 4 houses near the church and 5 in Sesswell's Barton. (fn. 44) In 1841, the only year for which separate figures for the townships are available, there were 49 people in 12 houses in Sesswell's Barton, 60 people in 10 houses in Steeple Barton, and 531 people in 116 houses in Middle Barton. (fn. 45) The population of the parish as a whole reached a peak of c. 1,000 in the mid 1860s as labourers moved into the open township of Middle Barton from the surrounding closed parishes. The vestry expressed concern, addressing a memorial to the Home Secretary in 1846 about plans to alter the laws on the removal of the poor. Attempts were made to prevent the building of new houses, and emigration to the U.S.A., Canada, and Australia was encouraged and assisted. (fn. 46) The fall in population in the late 1860s was attributed by one landowner to the removal, by the Union Chargeability Act, of the distinction between open and closed parishes. (fn. 47) The population fell from 956 in 1871 to only 587 in 1921, then rose steadily to 620 in 1951, and to 777 in 1961. Between 1961 and 1971 the population almost doubled to 1,237. (fn. 48)
At Sesswell's Barton the manor house, Barton Abbey, and its home farm stand in c. 300 a. of parkland created in the mid 19th century. East of Barton Abbey, within the parkland, is Barton Lodge, a large mid 19th-century house in Tudor style which was probably built in more than one stage, the first one dating from between 1833 and 1849 and another being completed by 1880. (fn. 49) It may incorporate the earlier house of Sands farm. It was occupied for a time in the later 19th century by A. W. Hall, owner of the Barton Abbey estate. (fn. 50) At Steeple Barton, Church Farm, formerly the manor house, the 19th-century vicarage house, the former rectory house, and a cottage remain. North of the road and east of the Dorn is a triangular marshy area which has been supposed to be a moated site. Recent examination has shown no sign of any buildings there, and the remains are probably of fishponds, perhaps those built by Thomas of St. John in the late 12th century. (fn. 51)
Middle and Westcott Barton now form a single village centred on the Enstone-Bicester road or North Street, which runs east-west along the north of the Dorn valley. The other main street is the Worton-Kiddington road which runs northsouth, crossing North Street near the parish boundary. South of the Dorn is South Street, parallel to North Street and joined to it by Mill Lane in the east and Fox Lane in Westcott Barton in the west. All those roads existed in the late 18th century, but the streets north of North Street were laid out in the mid or late 20th century. Until inclosure in 1796 the open fields and pasture closes extended to the north side of North Street; the two cottages on that side of the road were encroachments on the waste. (fn. 52) The 18th-century village was composed of scattered houses and cottages, most of them along the banks of the Dorn which was presumably the main water supply. The former mill, at the bottom of Mill Lane, stands on a site occupied since the early Middle Ages; the earliest surviving building is a possibly 16th-century cottage on the corner of South Street and the footpath called the Dock, an area known as the Green. Another cottage, heavily restored, on the corner of South Street and the Kiddington road is dated 1696 and bears the inscription 'This house is set upon free land'. Also in South Street is the 18th-century farmhouse for the manor property, an L-shaped building of rubble with ashlar quoins and prominent key-stones. The other substantial 18th-century house, originally of two storeys and fronted in ashlar, is in Mill Lane, on the south bank of the Dorn; it was built about the mid 18th century by the Brangwins, the only gentry family in Middle Barton, and was known in the 19th century as Middle Barton Manor. (fn. 53) One of the oldest surviving houses in North Street is the Old Forge, dated 1727.
During the 19th century the village was extended along the north side of North Street and both sides of the Worton road, and the backs of many earlier tenements were built on. Most of the building was in short terraces of rubble or brick two- or four-roomed cottages, but there were some larger houses, notably the early 19thcentury house west of the mill and no. 19 North Street, which was apparently built soon after inclosure by William Luing, a member of a longestablished Barton family. Other 19th-century additions to the village included the two Methodist chapels, one on the Worton road (1828) and one on the Dock (1861), the school (1866) on the south-east edge of the village, and the parish mission hall (1888–9) on the corner of North Street and the Worton road. In the 20th century, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, the village expanded considerably; several council and private estates were built north of North Street, and there was considerable infilling elsewhere in the village, notably in South Street.
There were usually two public houses in Middle Barton in the later 18th century and the 19th. (fn. 54) One called the White Horse was recorded in 1762. (fn. 55) The Fleur de Luce, recorded by that name between 1774 and 1821, was the Carpenter's Arms in 1837; it was still open in 1980. The other was the Crown from 1774 to 1784 when it seems to have closed. In 1841 there was a beer retailer in the village, and in 1847 he kept the Three Horseshoes; (fn. 56) it closed in 1936 and the building was demolished in 1971. (fn. 57) Woolpack Lane in Steeple Barton, recorded in 1796, may have been named from a beer house or public house there. (fn. 58)
The Swing rioters passed through Steeple Barton in 1830. (fn. 59) Some of the inhabitants of the parish responded to the troubles by joining with neighbouring parishes to buy a fire engine. (fn. 60) Over 200 men in Steeple Barton joined the farm labourers' strike in 1872, but soon came to terms with their employers, and in 1876 Steeple Barton men were reported to stand aloof from the agricultural unions. (fn. 61) Some efforts were made to alleviate the considerable poverty of many of the labourers. The vestry administered a coal fund from 1840, a clothing club was started about the same time, and a friendly society was established in 1858. (fn. 62)
In 1948 the Bartons Victory Memorial Hall fund acquired land on the east side of the Worton road for a village hall and playing fields. No hall was built until the 1970s when an old pavilion was rebuilt; a large room was added in commemoration of Elizabeth II's silver jubilee in 1977. (fn. 63)
Manors and other Estates.
In 1086 Adam son of Hubert de Ryes held 10 hides in STEEPLE BARTON of Odo of Bayeux. (fn. 64) The manor, which was held in chief after Odo's death in 1097, passed from Adam to his brother Eudes the sewer (d. c. 1120), and to Eudes's widow Rose. (fn. 65) On Rose's death, soon after 1120, the manor escheated to the Crown, and was probably granted to Thomas of St. John (d. 1126–7). (fn. 66) Thomas's brother and successor John of St. John (d. 1149 x 1153), was dispossessed in Stephen's reign when Roger de Bussey held the manor, but the St. Johns recovered it under Henry II. (fn. 67) Thereafter, until 1526, the manor descended with the St. Johns' other Oxfordshire manor, Stanton St. John, (fn. 68) being held by Thomas of St. John (d. by 1176), his brother Roger (d. c. 1214), (fn. 69) Roger's son John (d. 1229–30), John's son Roger (d. 1265) who was granted free warren in his demesne in Barton in 1254, (fn. 70) Roger's son John (d. by 1316), and John's son (d. 1322) and grandson (d. 1349), both called John. (fn. 71) From the last John the manor passed to his granddaughter Margaret and her husband Nicholas Lovayne, who was granted free warren there in 1356, (fn. 72) and to their daughter Margaret and her second husband Philip Seyntclere. (fn. 73) From Margaret and Philip, who both died in 1408, the manor descended to their sons John (d. 1418) and Thomas (d. 1435). (fn. 74) In 1428, however, Thomas of St. John was said to hold the property, (fn. 75) and possession of Steeple Barton, as of Stanton St. John, was disputed for many years between the St. Johns, and their heirs the Lydeards, the Seyntcleres, and the Chamberlains who were descendants of Margaret Seyntclere by her first husband. (fn. 76) In 1456 William Chamberlain recovered the manor, and on his death c. 1473 it passed to his brother Richard (fn. 77) who was succeeded in 1496 by his son Edward. Edward sold Stanton St. John but retained Steeple Barton, settling it on his son Leonard in 1543. (fn. 78) In 1552 Leonard Chamberlain sold it to John Blundell of London (d. 1559), and in 1603 it was divided among Blundell's five daughters: Anne wife of Thomas Cordell, Elizabeth wife of Edmund Hogan, Mary wife of Gerard Croker, Theodora wife of Justinian Champneys, and Susan wife of Richard Freston. (fn. 79)
The fifth of the manor allotted to Edmund (d. 1610) and Elizabeth Hogan descended to their sons Thomas, who died without issue, and Gresham, who in 1616 bought another share of the manor from Richard, son of Justinian and Theodora Champneys. (fn. 80) As Anne Cordell and Susan Freston had died without issue, Gresham Hogan, by his agreement with Richard Champneys, acquired two-thirds of the manor. (fn. 81) He died in 1617 and was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Waller, who in 1690 settled her two-thirds on her daughter Dorothy, wife of John James. (fn. 82) John James acquired the remaining third of the manor in 1709–10. That third had passed from Gerard (d. 1577) and Mary Croker to their son John (d. 1610) and grandson Gerard (d. 1620). (fn. 83) Gerard's eldest son John died without issue in 1629, and the manor passed to his second son Gerard who, a few days before his death in 1647, sold it, subject to the life interest of his wife Alice, to William Wise and his wife Etheldred. (fn. 84) In 1668 Thomas Wise, son of William and Etheldred, sold the reversion to Edmund Eyre or Eyres. (fn. 85) Alice Croker died in 1696, and after a dispute with William Croker, claiming as heir of Gerard, Eyre's nephew Richard Eyres Adderley entered on the property. (fn. 86) He sold it in 1697 to John Ford, whose heir Edward Ford sold it in 1709–10 to John James. (fn. 87)
The whole manor passed from John James to his son Hogan, who died without issue, and then to his daughter Frances James, who sold it in 1726 to Joseph Taylor of London, a member of a Sandford St. Martin family. (fn. 88) At his death in 1732 Taylor devised his estate in Steeple, Middle, and Westcott Barton to his nephew John Taylor. (fn. 89) John's son Edward (d. 1797), who received an allotment of 10 a. for manorial rights at inclosure in 1796, devised Steeple Barton manor to his niece Mary Locke, later wife of William Mister. (fn. 90) She sold the property, apparently no longer described as a manor, to Samuel Churchill of Deddington, on whose bankruptcy it was sold in 1839 to John Painter (d. 1855). In 1870 it was held by Joseph Painter of Mixbury. (fn. 91)
An estate later called Steeple Barton manor derived from the demesne lands and site of the manor which were conveyed in 1601 by Richard Champneys to Edward Croshawe of London. (fn. 92) Croshawe died in 1627, and the property passed to his widow Elizabeth and her second husband Huntingdon Hastings Corney, who compounded for the estate in 1648. (fn. 93) From Elizabeth Corney it passed to Mrs. Bradley, heir at law, who married Francis Woodcock. Woodcock, who died in 1671, (fn. 94) was succeeded by his brother Sir Thomas who, with James Bradley, in 1679 sold the site of the manor and other lands in Steeple and Middle Barton to Richard Hawkins. (fn. 95) Hawkins died in 1687, having acquired a large estate in North Oxfordshire including Middle Aston manor with which Steeple Barton descended for the next century. In 1714 his sons sold what was then described as Steeple Barton manor to Francis Page, later Sir Francis, a justice in King's Bench. (fn. 96) From him it descended, under a settlement of 1731, to his great nephew Francis Bourne, who took the surname Page. (fn. 97) The second Francis Page died without issue in 1803; his brother and heir Richard Bourne, having already assumed the surname Charlett, was unable to fulfil the conditions of the settlement and assume that of Page. The next heir, Sir Francis's nephew by marriage, Sir John Wheate, sold the reversion of the estate in 1804 to John Powell, agent for John Hosier, who reconveyed it to Richard Bourne Charlett. (fn. 98) Charlett was succeeded by his nephew William Sturges-Bourne, Home Secretary in 1827. (fn. 99) After his death in 1845 the property was sold in 1846 to Henry Hall of Barton Abbey; thereafter it formed part of the Barton Abbey estate. (fn. 100) The Halls styled themselves lords of the manor of Steeple Barton, (fn. 101) but do not appear to have claimed any manorial rights.
The St. John manor house probably stood north of the church on the site of Church Farm. In the 13th century it contained a private chapel. (fn. 102) The surviving house is a 17th-century building which was heightened and remodelled in the mid 18th century, (fn. 103) and later enlarged and modernized at various times.
The 1½ hide in Barton held by Wadard of Odo of Bayeux and part of the 3 hides and ½ yardland in Rousham and Barton held by William of Roger d'Ivri in 1086 (fn. 104) later formed the manor of BARTON EDE or SESSWELL'S BARTON. Wadard's 1½ hide passed, with the rest of his lands, to the Arsic family; (fn. 105) the estate was held of Joan Arsic in 1242–3, of the ward of Dover castle and honor of Arsic in 1261–2, and of Robert de Gray, the heir of Joan Arsic, in 1279 and 1284. (fn. 106) In 1516 and 1584 the manor was said to be held of the Crown as of Dover castle. (fn. 107) Roger d'Ivri's land formed part of the honor of St. Valery, but the overlordship was not recorded after the death of Edmund earl of Cornwall in 1300. (fn. 108)
The tenant of the Arsic fee in the earlier 12th century was Otes of Barton, and he was succeeded by his son Humphrey, who held in 1166, and Humphrey's son Otes. (fn. 109) The younger Otes died c. 1214 leaving a son and heir John, but in 1233 the lord was Richard son of Otes or Richard Kute. (fn. 110) In 1279 and 1284 the tenant was Richard le Simple, and in 1316 William le Simple. (fn. 111) They may have been identical with Richard of Barton and his son William recorded in the later 13th century. (fn. 112)
By c. 1210 the demesne tenant on part of an estate of the honor of Wallingford in Barton and Rousham was Robert Foliot; he was succeeded by Richard Foliot before c. 1233. Other land was held by Richard Morton c. 1233 and by his son Roger c. 1250. (fn. 113) In 1279 William Foliot held an estate in Barton Ede, part of the manor of Rousham, of the honor of Wallingford, and Richard of Morton held an estate there of the bishop of Chester who held of the earl of Cornwall of the honor of St. Valery. (fn. 114) In 1296 Edmund earl of Cornwall granted his land in Rousham, Barton, and Ludwell (Wootton), with the service of William Foliot, to Walter of Aylesbury, who was succeeded, before 1324, by his son Philip. (fn. 115) In 1346, however, John Foliot was returned as holder of the estate. (fn. 116)
In 1324 the justice William Shareshull held land in Barton of Philip of Aylesbury, and he seems later to have acquired the estates of John Foliot and William le Simple. (fn. 117) In 1334 he was granted free warren in his demesne in Barton Ede, and in 1344–5 he settled the manor on himself and his wife Denise. (fn. 118) He further increased his holding in 1350 and 1357 by exchanges with Oseney abbey, which had acquired lands on both the Wallingford and the Arsic fees in the earlier 13th century. (fn. 119) The manor passed from the justice, who died in 1370, to his grandson, another William Shareshull, who in 1384 quitclaimed it to his uncle by marriage Richard Adderbury, husband of Agnes Shareshull. (fn. 120) The transaction was presumably part of a settlement, perhaps made on William's second marriage, for William was seised of Barton manor at his death without issue in 1400. (fn. 121) The manor then descended to Joan Lee, granddaughter of his sister Elizabeth. (fn. 122) In 1438–9 it was settled on Joan for life with reversion to John Dynham and his wife Joan, the great-granddaughter of Richard Adderbury and Agnes Shareshull. On Joan Lee's death without issue in 1452, John and Joan Dynham succeeded to the manor, defeating the claims of Agnes Shareshull's other descendant Richard Beaufo. (fn. 123)
John, son of John and Joan Dynham, died without issue in 1501, and the manor was divided among four coheirs, his sisters Elizabeth Sapcotes, later wife of Sir Thomas Brandon, and Joan, wife of John, Lord Zouche, and his nephews Sir Edmund Carew, son of Margaret Dynham, and Sir John Arundell, son of Catherine Dynham. (fn. 124) Elizabeth's quarter passed, under a settlement of 1509, to her younger son Richard Sapcotes and his daughter Anne, wife of Sir William FitzWilliam, who in 1543 conveyed it to Michael Dormer, alderman of London. (fn. 125) Another quarter, presumably the Zouche portion which had been held by Joan Dynham's son John, Lord Zouche, in 1533, was acquired by Michael Dormer's son Geoffrey in 1544–5, and in 1547 a moiety of Sesswell's Barton manor was settled on Michael Dormer's son John. (fn. 126) In 1575 John settled the moiety of the manor on his second son Jasper, (fn. 127) who in 1590 conveyed it to his sister Frances. In 1592 Frances conveyed it, subject to the life interest of Jasper's wife Justine (d. 1627), to William Savage and Richard Daston. (fn. 128)
A third quarter passed, with other Dynham lands, from Sir Edmund Carew to Sir William Compton, whose grandson Henry, Lord Compton, held it in 1567. (fn. 129) In 1594 Henry's son William conveyed the quarter to William Savage and Richard Daston, who thus held three quarters of the manor. (fn. 130) Before 1605 Savage and Daston sold the property to Ralph Sheldon (d. 1613). (fn. 131) Ralph's son Edward in 1604 bought the remaining quarter from William Bustard of Adderbury whose father Anthony Bustard had bought it in 1576 from John Arundell (d. 1590), grandson of the John Arundell who had inherited in 1501. (fn. 132)
The manor remained in the Sheldon family until the late 18th century, passing from Edward (d. 1643) to his second son Ralph (d. 1659), to Ralph's son Edward (d. 1676), to Edward's son Ralph (d. 1720), to Ralph's son Edward (d. 1746), and to Edward's son William (d. 1780); William's son Ralph sold it in 1782 to Thomas Willan. (fn. 133) Willan was succeeded c. 1799 by William Willan who sold the estate to William Hall of Oxford in 1822. (fn. 134) William Hall was succeeded by his son Henry (d. 1862), his grandson Alexander William Hall (d. 1919), and his great-grandson Alexander Nelson Hall (d. 1923). Between 1922 and 1925 the estate was split up and sold. (fn. 135)
The manor house of Sesswell's Barton, renamed Barton Abbey c. 1860 on the false assumption that there had been a cell of Oseney abbey on the site, presumably stands on the site of William Shareshull's house, and a few fragments of medieval masonry have been found. (fn. 136) The existing house was built by John Dormer and dated 1570. (fn. 137) In 1627 the part of the house occupied by Justine Dormer included a great dining parlour, a little parlour and eight chambers. A 92-ft. gallery decorated with wall paintings, recorded in the early 19th century, probably also belonged to the Elizabethan house. (fn. 138) Ralph Sheldon in 1678–9 considerably altered the interior, perhaps creating the great parlour, the withdrawing room, and the great staircase recorded in 1685; (fn. 139) the staircase survived in 1980.
In the 18th century and the early 19th the house was used as a farmhouse; in 1845 it was described as a shooting box. In 1849 the buildings seem to have comprised a stable block, part of which survived in 1980, and south of it a roughly L-shaped house, its eastern wing containing the great staircase. (fn. 140) Between then and his death in 1862 Henry Hall reconstructed the house, to the designs of S. S. Teulon. The first stage of the work, which may have been completed by 1853, was to rebuild the west side of the old house and add a new block on the south. A second phase, perhaps the work in progress in 1855, involved further additions to the south, and probably also the extension for kitchens at the north of the house. (fn. 141) In the early 20th century a dining room was added in the space between the hall and the old stable block, in front of the kitchen wing.
By 1279 Oseney abbey had acquired at least 8½ yardlands in Barton Ede as well as land in Steeple Barton. (fn. 142) Much of the land in Barton Ede was exchanged with William Shareshull in 1350 and 1357, but the abbey retained land in the parish until the Dissolution when its rental in Sesswell's Barton and Steeple and Middle Barton amounted to 43s. 8d. (fn. 143) The property was granted to Oxford cathedral in 1542, but there is no later record of the cathedral having land in the Bartons, and the property probably passed with the rectory to John Blundell and Leonard Chamberlain in 1546. (fn. 144)
In the mid 13th century St. John's hospital, Oxford, received several small grants of land in Steeple Barton or Barton Ede, c. 14 a. and a croft in all. In 1337 the hospital exchanged a rent in Barton Ede with William Shareshull, and most of the rest of the property seems to have been lost during the Middle Ages, although a cottage in Westcott Barton held by Magdalen College in 1513 may represent part of it. (fn. 145)
Lands in Steeple Barton, worth 5s. a year, which had belonged to Studley priory, were sold by the Crown in 1540 to John Croke, who at once conveyed them to Michael and John Dormer. (fn. 146) The land was presumably absorbed into the rest of the Dormer property in the parish.
Roger of St. John (d. c. 1214) gave a yardland to St. Frideswide's priory c. 1195. The property passed to Henry VIII's College, and was presumably amalgamated with the former Oseney property. (fn. 147)
The rectory, comprising land and tithes, was held by Oseney abbey until the Dissolution, but two thirds of the tithe and 1 yardland were granted by Eudes the Sewer and Roger de Bussey to Colchester abbey. (fn. 148) Between 1186 and 1230 the two abbeys reached an agreement whereby Colchester leased the tithes to Oseney. (fn. 149) At the Dissolution the rectory passed first to Oxford cathedral in 1542, and then, in 1546, to Leonard Chamberlain and John Blundell. (fn. 150) In 1550 the rectory comprised 2 yardlands, 5 closes, 4 a., and land in Church mead, the tithe of corn and hay from Barton and Sandford St. Martin, two thirds of the tithe of lambs and wool from Steeple Barton demesne, and two thirds of the tithe of Grove Ash in Sandford St. Martin. (fn. 151) Like the manor, the rectory was divided among Blundell's five daughters and passed to the Croker and Hogan families. John Croker in 1610 and his grandson John in 1629 died seised of the rectory (fn. 152) which was sold with the manor by Gerard Croker to William and Etheldred Wise in 1647 and by Richard Eyres Adderley to John Ford in 1697. (fn. 153) Edward Ford sold it in 1709 to Miles Parker of Woodstock, who in 1715 sold it to the duke of Marlborough. (fn. 154) The duke was the chief impropriator at the inclosure of Middle Barton in 1797; (fn. 155) the estate was conveyed to his son-in-law, Henry Welbore Ellis, Viscount Clifden, in 1828, and when the remaining tithes in the parish were commuted in 1848 his son, Henry Agar-Ellis, Viscount Clifden, was impropriator of 172 a. (fn. 156)
The other part of the rectory passed from Elizabeth Hogan to Thomas and Gresham Hogan, and to Elizabeth and Thomas Waller. (fn. 157) It presumably passed with the manor to John and Dorothy James, for in 1715 John and Hogan James sold to Sir Francis Page land and tithes once part of the rectory. (fn. 158) In 1731 Sir Francis settled the tithes of the former demesne lands in Steeple Barton, with the rest of his property there, on Francis Bourne (later Page). (fn. 159) The tithes followed the descent of Sir Francis Page's estate, being held in 1848 by Henry Hall of Barton Abbey. (fn. 160)
The former rectory house, north-east of the church, is a plain, rectangular building of the 17th century and incorporates a wooden doorway of that date, but was largely refitted early in the 19th century. To the south is a 17th-century garden wall and gate. The house was used as a farmhouse in the 19th century, but in 1980 was occupied as two cottages.
By the 13th century the parishes of Steeple and Westcott Barton were divided into north and south fields, and the two fields survived in some form, although greatly reduced in size by the inclosure of Steeple Barton and Sesswell's Barton townships, until the parliamentary inclosure of Middle and Westcott Barton in 1796. (fn. 161) Sesswell's Barton may have been cultivated separately after the inclosure of Steeple Barton township—the field of Sesswell's Barton was recorded in 1685 (fn. 162)—but the way in which the vicar's 2 yardlands lay scattered among the closes of Steeple and Sesswell's Barton and the open fields of Middle Barton (fn. 163) shows that the parish had originally had a single field system. Within that single system certain furlongs seem to have belonged to the different townships, so that yardlands might be described as lying in the fields of one township only.
The actual division of the fields was complex, and presumably flexible. Two yardlands in Westcott Barton, comprising 33 a. of arable, were divided in 1601 among four fields: the south field (7 a.), the field above the town south side (14 a.), the field behind Barnhill (9 a.), and the field above the town, north side (3 a.). The same 2 yardlands in 1685 comprised 35 a., in the same furlongs but not divided into fields. In the same year, however, 2 yardlands in Middle Barton lay in 6 divisions, three in the north, East Brookside (12 a.), behind Barnhill (4 a.), and Downhill side (6 a.), and three in the south, Long Mere fallows (4 a.), Snitemoor side (4 a.), and the south side of Westcott Barton (12 a.). (fn. 164) Six yardlands in Westcott Barton in 1696 were divided among only 3 quarters: Snitemoor and Downhill, behind Barnhill and Rushpit, and Long Mere and East Brookside. (fn. 165) In 1766 Middle Barton lands lay in 4 fields: East Brookside, behind Barnhill, Down field, and South field, but the south field was divided into 4 quarters: Sideling, Snipemoor, Long Mere, and Rushpit. (fn. 166) A sixfold division of the fields may be reflected in the inclosure award of 1796, which refers to six main areas in the open fields: Downhill field, Lettam, behind Barnhill, and East Brookside quarter in the north, and Sidelands quarter and the south field in the south. (fn. 167) The inclosure commissioners' quality book seems to divide the open fields into three: an unnamed area in the north-east, Downhill field in the north-west, and South Side Sidelands quarter; the pasture in the south field leys and Lettam was separately valued. (fn. 168)
The parishes were comparatively well provided with meadow and pasture. In 1086 there were at least 14 a. of meadow in Steeple Barton and 3 a. in Westcott Barton, as well as pasture 1 furlong by ½ furlong in Steeple Barton. (fn. 169) Many 13th-century grants of land included small amounts of meadow. (fn. 170) Steeple Barton manor contained 20 a. of demesne meadow, valued at 1s. 6d. an acre in 1316, 3s. an acre in 1322, and 1s. an acre in 1349; in 1353 there were said to be 30 a. of meadow, worth 2s. an acre. The demesne pasture, which was inclosed, measured 30 a. in 1349. (fn. 171) The demesne meadow lay along the west bank of the river Dorn, south of the manor house; other meadows lay along the east bank of the river, and along the Cockley brook to the north. In the earlier 17th century Horse Hay meadow and Cockley mead were lot meadow. (fn. 172) Leys, introduced by the mid 16th century, seem to have been continuous, more or less permanent, blocks of pasture on poor arable land, rather than strips of temporary pasture. In South field at least 50 a. was unploughed and known as South Field leys in the mid 16th century; a close called Ox leas was recorded in 1550, 'leasowes' in 1601, Beechintree leasows in 1604, and Lettam leys in 1685. (fn. 173) South Field leys were ploughed c. 1610, but their conversion to arable was short lived; the leys were recorded again in 1634, and by 1685 knowledge of the position and number of acres in that part of the south field had been lost. (fn. 174)
Steeple Barton parish was intensively cultivated in 1086. Adam son of Hubert de Ryes's 10hide manor contained land for 16 ploughteams, but there were 4 demesne ploughteams worked by 9 serfs and 14 others on the tenants' land, owned by 18 villeins and 5 bordars. Wadard's manor, assessed at 1½ hide and 6 a., was said to have land for 3 ploughteams; a serf used 2 ploughteams in demesne and 4 villeins, a Frenchman, and a bordar used 2 ploughteams. On Roger d'Ivri's estate, which included land in Rousham, and was assessed at 3 hides, ½ yardland and 3 a., land for 6 ploughteams, there were 3 ploughteams and 3 serfs in demesne and 7 villeins and 8 bordars had another 3 ploughteams. All three estates had increased in value since 1066, Adam's from £12 to £20, Wadard's from 40s. to 60s., and Roger d'Ivri's from £4 to £5. In Westcott Barton the bishop of Lisieux's 5 hide estate was said to have land for 8 ploughteams and contained that number, 3, with 5 serfs, on the demesne, and 5 owned by 10 villeins and 4 bordars. (fn. 175)
In Steeple Barton in 1279 John of St. John held 6 ploughlands in demesne, with meadow and pasture belonging to them; 23 villein tenants held a total of 29 yardlands, and 3 cottars 3 cottages and 2 a. for small money rents and ploughing, mowing, and reaping services. Seven free tenants held estates ranging from 1 hide down to 2 a. at money rents. Barton Ede, on the other hand, was divided among three or four small estates and was characterized by small demesnes and a comparatively large number of free tenants. Richard le Simple held 10½ yardlands 6 a. of the Arsic fee. Only 1½ yardland was in demesne and ½ yardland held in villeinage; the remaining 8½ yardlands were held by 7 free tenants. William Foliot, who held 8 yardlands of the honor of Wallingford, had kept only 1 yardland in demesne, 2 were held by villeins, and the remaining 5 by 3 free tenants. Richard of Morton, who held of the honors of St. Valery and Arsic, held 3 yardlands in demesne and 1 yardland and 6 cottages in villeinage; his 3 free tenants held 2½ yardlands 5 a. Richard also held a ploughland in Barton Ede as part of Rousham manor. The abbot of Oseney, who held land from all three lords, held a total of 6½ yardlands in demesne and 2 yardlands 6 a. in villeinage. All the villeins in Barton Ede performed labour services like those in Steeple Barton. In Westcott Barton, Peter of Barton held 2 ploughlands in demesne, 9 villeins held 7 yardlands, and 2 cottars small amounts of land. Ten free tenants held 1 hide, 9 yardlands, and 4 a. (fn. 176)
There is no later medieval evidence for the manors of Sesswell's Barton and Westcott Barton, but on the St. John manor of Steeple Barton the demesne was probably increased, and the number of free tenants reduced in the earlier 14th century. Extents of 1316, 1322, 1349, and 1352 estimated the size of the demesne as 600 a., 400 a. (perhaps excluding the third held in dower), 8 ploughlands (c. 800 a.), and 1,000 a., and the number of villein yardlands at 40, 36, and 32 of 20 a. each, and 46 of 25 a. each. Thirteen free tenants paid £4 9s. 1d. in 1316, six paid 48s. in 1322; in 1349 their rents amounted to 41s. 10d.; none was recorded in 1352. The manor, and presumably Steeple Barton parish, suffered badly in the Black Death; in 1349 all 32 villein yardlands were in demesne, fallow and uncultivated, because the villeins had died, and in 1352 all 46 were similarly in demesne for lack of tenants. On the other hand, some rents and works, perhaps commuted, were recorded in both years, as were profits of court. (fn. 177) The villein's customary works in 1316 and 1322 amounted to three days a week from Midsummer to Michaelmas, three boon works in the autumn, and two ploughing services a year. (fn. 178)
The medieval field names Flaxlands furlong and Wad (woad) breche in Barton Ede and Steeple Barton, indicate that both flax and the woad to dye it were grown in the parish. A newly inclosed flax ground in Westcott Barton was recorded in the late 12th century. (fn. 179) The Oseney abbey accounts for Barton bailiwick, which included land in Duns Tew, Rousham, and Sandford, for the year 1280 record 136 qtr. of wheat, 33 qtr. of 'hard corn', 104 qtr. of dry malt, and 21 qtr. of oats sent from Barton to the abbey or to other estates. The stock on the estate included 301 sheep and 10 cows, the latter apparently kept for their milk, as 11 stones of cheese and 2 pots of butter were sent out from the manor. The sheep had produced 313 fleeces and 56 lamb fells that year. (fn. 180) In 1357 some tenants' flocks in Middle Barton and neighbouring townships contained as many as 200 sheep, (fn. 181) and between 1220 and 1230 John of St. John gave the abbey pasture for 60 sheep. (fn. 182) The importance of sheep and wool in the Bartons may explain the presence there of the Oxford wool merchant William Spicer who held land in both Steeple Barton and Westcott Barton in 1279. He was succeeded by his son Henry who was assessed for subsidy in Middle Barton in 1306. (fn. 183)
The mixture of arable and pasture farming continued in the 16th and 17th centuries. Most men seem to have derived slightly more of their income from corn than from sheep, but Justine Dormer (d. 1627), who held a moiety of Sesswell's Barton manor, owned 506 sheep, 115 of them pastured at Ilbury in Deddington, which were worth c. £273 compared with her corn worth £200. (fn. 184) Robert Buswell of Middle Barton (d. 1640) left 292 sheep worth £80, just under half the value of his corn. Several other flocks of between 60 and 100 sheep were recorded in the 17th century. (fn. 185) Tithe lambs were the subject of two suits in the ecclesiastical court. (fn. 186) Cattle too were kept in numbers which suggest specialization. Robert Buswell owned a total of 37 cattle in 1640, Justine Dormer 26, including 9 calves, in 1627; several farmers owned between 6 and 10 head of cattle. (fn. 187) In 1795 the stint was only 20 sheep, 2 horses, and 1½ or 2 cows to the yardland. (fn. 188) The main crops seem to have been wheat and barley, but peas, maslin, pulse, and oats were also recorded. (fn. 189) In 1632 the rotation seems to have been (1) wheat, maslin, and rye (2) barley and spring corn (3) fallow. Sainfoin was being grown on Sesswell's Barton manor in 1685 and 1747. (fn. 190) In the later 17th century most of Sesswell's Barton was left fallow every third year, but some land was cropped for four years and some for six. In 1747 the township was cropped for two years, but one furlong might be cropped for three years. (fn. 191) There may have been some extension of the arable in the early 18th century, when leases provided for the ploughing of grassland. (fn. 192)
In 1306 a total of 16 people were assessed for subsidy in Middle Barton at between 2s. 4d. and 10d. and 4 in Steeple Barton, John of St. John at 39s. 2¾d. and the others at between 15d. and 12d. In Barton Ede Henry at Green was assessed at 4s., the abbot of Oseney at 2s. 6¾d., and 8 others between 1s. 11d. and 6d. Westcott Barton was the smallest and poorest of the settlements; its total assessment, on c. 11 people, was 6s. 3d. (fn. 193) The distribution of wealth and population was similar in 1316 and 1327. Steeple Barton with 4 taxpayers including in 1316 John of St. John and in 1327 Walter of Bicester, presumably his lessee, paying the highest amount. Fourteen people were assessed in Middle Barton in 1316 and 1327, none of them noticeably wealthy; in Barton Ede 16 people were assessed in 1316 and 12 in 1327; even William Shareshull was assessed at only 5s. 2d. in 1327 compared with Walter of Bicester's 60s. in Steeple Barton. In Westcott Barton 13 people were assessed each year, all at comparatively low sums. Barton Ede seems to have had either a high turnover of population or a number of people on the fringe of liability for the subsidy. Whereas nine Middle Barton surnames occur in all three subsidy lists and a further four surnames in two lists, only two Barton Ede surnames occur in all three lists and one more in two lists. (fn. 194)
In 1524–5 a total of 17 people in Steeple and Middle Barton, 8 in Sesswell's Barton, and 6 in Westcott Barton were assessed for subsidy on goods or wages. Robert Meese, lessee of Sesswell's Barton manor, was assessed at 40s., John Hanwell who probably lived in Steeple Barton, at 26s., and Thomas Boldrey of Westcott Barton and Thomas Maroke of Middle or Steeple Barton at 20s. each. The next highest assessment in each township was 7s. Seven men in Steeple and Middle Barton and 3 in Sesswell's Barton were assessed on labourer's wages. (fn. 195) In 1543, nine people were assessed in Steeple Barton, at a total of £4 17s. 8d., of which John Busby paid £3 6s. 8d. and John Hanwell 26s. 8d. In Middle Barton 14 people were assessed at a total of only 12s. 4d., and in Sesswell's Barton eight people were assessed at £1 2s. 4d., Robert Meese paying 11s. 4d. and John Hanwell 6s. 8d. At Westcott Barton 12 people were assessed at a total of only 9s. 8d., the largest contributor being John Busby (3s.). (fn. 196)
During the 17th century and the early 18th the copyholders of Steeple Barton manor, and probably also those of Sesswell's Barton, acquired their freeholds. (fn. 197) Most individual holdings were small, and although several families remained in the parish for 100 or 200 years their estates tended to be broken up as provision was made for daughters and younger sons. In 1510 Robert Hanwell was the lessee of Steeple Barton rectory and the Oseney abbey demesne. John Hanwell, in the mid 16th century, held 6½ yardlands in Steeple and Middle Barton, 7 yardlands in Westcott Barton, and probably c. 3 yardlands in Sesswell's Barton. At his death the estates were divided among his sons. George, who moved to Warwickshire, inherited the 7 yardlands in Westcott Barton, and that property seems later to have been divided among his four daughters. (fn. 198) The property in Steeple and Middle Barton passed to John's son Thomas, and Hanwells, presumably his descendants, were recorded in those townships until 1723. (fn. 199) Other Hanwells, whose relationship to the first John cannot be proved, held freehold land in Sesswell's Barton in 1709. (fn. 200)
The surname Busby was recorded in Barton Ede in 1316, and in 1543 John Busby was assessed for subsidy in Steeple Barton. (fn. 201) In 1550 William Busby was a substantial tenant of Steeple Barton manor, holding 6 yardlands, (fn. 202) and in 1686 Thomas Busby of Sesswell's Barton left goods worth the large sum of £165 18s. (fn. 203) The last recorded landholder of the name was William Busby who held ½ yardland and other parcels of land in Westcott and Middle Barton at his death in 1737. (fn. 204)
Castell Brangwin of Caulcott in 1660 bought an estate of 7 yardlands in Middle Barton and land (later Whistlow farm) in Sesswell's Barton from Robert Dormer of Rousham. The property remained in the Brangwin family until 1806 when it was sold to Samuel Churchill of Deddington. (fn. 205) Richard Ford of Middle Barton (d. 1638) held 2 yardlands in Middle Barton and the reversion of a further 5½ yardlands there. By 1662 Richard Ford, presumably his son, held 12 yardlands in Westcott Barton, but he seems to have sold them in 1677. (fn. 206) The John Ford who bought a third of Steeple Barton manor c. 1697 may have been a member of the same family. The Buswell family was first recorded in the Bartons in 1633 when Richard Buswell held 1 yardland in Steeple Barton manor. (fn. 207) In 1678 and 1683 Robert Buswell held Shepherd Close and other land of Dorothy Waller for £90 a year, a rent which implies that the holding was very large, and in 1697 he held 2 yardlands copyhold of the manor from Richard Eyres Adderley. In 1721 he bought the freehold of the property from Hogan James. (fn. 208) Another branch of the family had acquired Westcott Barton manor by 1687, and in 1760 another Robert Buswell paid £29 14s. 5d. out of a total of £44 8s. land tax at Sesswell's Barton, presumably as lessee of part of the manor. The bulk of the Buswells' freehold land seems to have been sold to William Weston in 1790. (fn. 209)
Much of Steeple Barton township and Sesswell's Barton was inclosed at an early date. In the late 12th century Humphrey of Barton sold to his son Hugh land to increase his croft. At least part of the demesne pasture in Barton Ede had been inclosed before c. 1210. (fn. 210) Part of the St. John demesne and the glebe at Dodwell, south of Steeple Barton church, was inclosed before c. 1200. (fn. 211) In Westcott Barton, a newly inclosed flax ground was also recorded before 1200. (fn. 212) In 1247 Oseney abbey had permission to inclose 15 a. of land and adjoining pasture in Steeple Barton. (fn. 213) The St. Johns' demesne in Steeple Barton had been consolidated, if not inclosed, by 1316, and in 1550 only one piece of the demesne was uninclosed. (fn. 214) In Sesswell's Barton conversion of arable to pasture, apparently associated with inclosures, was taking place in the late 15th century, (fn. 215) and by the early 17th century much of the township was inclosed. There were only 9 yardlands in the open fields there in 1675, but c. 25 a. remained open and divided among several owners until 1825. (fn. 216) There was some inclosure, too, in Middle and Westcott Barton: Barn Hill, north of the Enstone road, was inclosed before 1690, and Twenty Acres, in the south, in the mid 18th century. (fn. 217)
The first moves towards parliamentary inclosure of the remaining open fields were made in 1777, (fn. 218) but it was not until 1796 that c. 2,126 a. in Westcott and Middle Barton were inclosed under an Act of 1795. The Act also dealt with c. 110 a. of old inclosure, c. 69 a. in Westcott Barton and c. 41 a. in Middle Barton. The largest allotment was made to the duke of Marlborough, 313 a. in Middle Barton (including 217 a. in commutation of tithe) and 38 a. in Westcott Barton. Samuel Churchill, lord of Westcott Barton manor, received 181 a. in Westcott Barton and 85 a. in Middle Barton, the rector of Westcott Barton received 210 a. for glebe and tithe, and the vicar of Steeple Barton was allotted 70 a. in Middle Barton. Other large allotments were made to William Weston (172 a. in Westcott Barton and 38 a. in Middle Barton), William Taylor (152 a. in Westcott Barton and 7 a. in Middle Barton), Francis Brangwin (136 a. in Middle Barton and 20 a. in Westcott Barton), Susanna Hindes (137 a. in Middle Barton), Edward Taylor (112 a. in Middle Barton), and John Walker (112 a. in Middle Barton). Two men received between 50 a. and 100 a., and eleven other people were allotted less than 30 a. each. (fn. 219)
Inclosure greatly increased the value of land in the parish and the prosperity of its farmers, but it had little immediate effect on the pattern of landholding. (fn. 220) During the 19th century the smaller properties were absorbed into large estates, mainly farmed by tenant farmers. In the early 19th century both the duke of Marlborough and Samuel Churchill increased the size of their holdings, and the later part of the century was marked by the extension of the Barton Abbey estate to cover much of Steeple Barton parish. In 1854 A. W. Hall held 1,426 a. in the parish, Viscount Clifden (who had acquired the duke of Marlborough's property) 498 a., John Walker 248 a., John Painter 168 a., and William Wing 142 a. (fn. 221) In 1856 the Halls bought Leys farm from Viscount Clifden and in 1882 Whistlow farm which had belonged to William Wing. (fn. 222) In 1980 the estate included 1,709 a. in Steeple Barton parish. (fn. 223) In Westcott Barton the manor estate, held by Jenner Marshall, was enlarged by the purchase of the estates of William Taylor, William Weston, and others, and in 1870 amounted to 300 a. (fn. 224)
Most of the land was farmed by tenant farmers only one of whom, Joseph Hollis who farmed 270 a. in 1871, owned land in the parish. (fn. 225) Many of them stayed only a few years, and farms changed size as landowners let different areas to different tenants. In 1841 there were 9 farms in Steeple Barton parish and 6 in Westcott Barton; in 1851 there were 7 in each parish, including the rectory farm (209 a.) and Horse Hay farm (78 a.) in Westcott Barton. In 1861 there were 9 farms in Steeple Barton, including Purgatory (388 a.), and 4 in Westcott Barton, and in 1871 there were 10 farms in Steeple Barton, including Whistlow farm (111 a.), Lodge farm (1,000 a.), New Barn farm (300 a.), and Manor farm (95 a.), and 4 farms in Westcott Barton, including Horse Hay farm (76 a.), Down Hill or the rectory farm (205 a.), and Manor farm (112 a.). (fn. 226)
Mixed farming continued in the 19th century. In 1801 Steeple Barton parish contained 1,824 a. of arable, 932 a. of grass, and 143 a. of woodland; Westcott Barton 359 a. of arable, 203 a. of grass, and 3 a. of woodland. (fn. 227) In the early 19th century the crop rotation in Westcott Barton was (1) turnips eaten off by sheep (2) barley (3) clover mown off (4) clover eaten off by sheep (5) wheat (6) oats. (fn. 228)
In 1856 the Leys farm in the south of Steeple Barton parish was sold with over 100a. of barley, wheat, oats, and pulse, 430 sheep, 11 head of cattle, and 46 pigs; (fn. 229) in 1882 Whistlow farm (c. 100 a. of arable, c. 13 a. of pasture, and c. 11 a. of allotments) was said to be suitable for sheep, turnips, and barley. (fn. 230) Horsehay farm, in the north of Westcott Barton parish, contained c. 59 a. of arable and c. 40 a. of pasture in 1902. (fn. 231) In 1914 56 per cent of the cultivated land in the Bartons was arable, and 43 per cent permanent pasture. The chief crops were wheat and barley, but oats, swedes, mangolds, and potatoes were also grown, and sheep and cattle were kept. (fn. 232) On the Barton Abbey estate in the mid 20th century sheep and beef and dairy cattle were kept, but crops, notably wheat and barley, were more important financially. (fn. 233)
There was at least one weaver in the parish in the mid 13th century, and in the 16th century 2 yardlands in Middle Barton were called 'weavers and fullers'. (fn. 234) Agriculture was the main source of employment in both parishes in the 19th century; about half the working population in 1841, 1851, 1861, and 1871 were agricultural labourers, although the proportion was marginally lower in Westcott Barton than in Steeple Barton. Westcott Barton, on the other hand, had a slightly higher proportion of domestic servants. Many men were unemployed for much of the year. In 1851 farmers employed only 92 men and 19 boys out of a total of 220 agricultural labourers in the two parishes; in 1861, only 120 men and 43 boys out of 258 labourers; and in 1871, only 94 men and 44 boys out of 268 labourers. In 1868 there were 27 men out of work in the Bartons. Glovers, the wives and daughters of artisans or labourers, were recorded in both parishes in 1851. Their numbers rose from 16 in each parish in 1851 to 42 in Westcott Barton and 87 in Steeple Barton in 1861, but fell in 1871 to 24 in Westcott Barton and 81 in Steeple Barton. Apart from the gloving, and some lacemaking and dressmaking, there were few signs of industrial occupation in either village. Masons were recorded in Steeple Barton in 1841 (4), 1851 (9), and 1861 (13), perhaps employed on houses or churches in the neighbourhood. There was a clockmaker and a wool comber in Westcott Barton in 1841, and a clothier and shoe manufacturer, a coal merchant, and a brick maker in Steeple Barton in 1861. In 1871 there were 5 machinists in Steeple Barton who, like the 'machinist-cutter in a leather working factory' in Westcott Barton, may have worked in nearby factories. There were two engine drivers in Steeple Barton. A clothier in Westcott Barton employed 7 men. (fn. 235) In the later 19th century there was a small brick works near Whistlow farm and three lime kilns, one at Maiden Bower. (fn. 236) Members of the Soden family kept a nursery garden from 1841 or earlier to c. 1915. By the end of the 19th century the artisans and shopkeepers were concentrated in Middle Barton where they included a china and glass dealer (at the Three Horseshoes), a 'manufacturing outfitter', and a draper. In 1935 there were three motor haulage contractors and a wireless and cycle dealer, and in 1939 there was also a motor omnibus proprietor. (fn. 237) In 1980 the shops and businesses included a garage, a radio and television shop, a grocer's, and a pottery.
In 1086 there were three mills in Steeple Barton, two held by Adam son of Hubert de Ryes, and one by Wadard. (fn. 238) Wadard's mill passed with his manor to Otes of Barton who c. 1210 gave it to William of St. John, rector of the parish. William's son, John of St. John, gave the mill to Oseney abbey c. 1231. (fn. 239) The mill was among the abbey's properties exchanged with William Shareshull in 1350, (fn. 240) and thereafter it descended with Sesswell's Barton manor. (fn. 241) It was last recorded in 1736, and had apparently disappeared by 1767; (fn. 242) it stood on the east bank of the Dorn, c. ¼ mile south of Barton Abbey. (fn. 243)
One of Adam son of Hubert de Ryes's mills descended with Steeple Barton manor. In 1322 it was worth 20s.; in 1342 it was settled on Roger of St. John and his wife, but in 1349 it was ruined and worth nothing. (fn. 244) There was apparently still a mill on the manorial estate in 1608. (fn. 245) It may have been Middle Barton mill, but it is perhaps more likely to have been near the manor house, on the east side of the Dorn by the bridge where the name Mill close survived in 1849, although the mill itself had disappeared by 1767. (fn. 246) It was said to have been an overshot mill powered by the small stream which runs from Showell Covert, through a pond with a massive dam at its west end, into the Dorn at the bridge. (fn. 247)
Adam's other mill may have been Middle Barton mill, and it was probably that mill from which the villein Roger at mill took his name in 1279. (fn. 248) In 1638 the reversion of the mill, after the deaths of Timothy and Margaret Boddington, was held by Richard Ford, (fn. 249) but he seems to have sold it to the Boddingtons, for in 1796 Thomas Boddington held the mill. (fn. 250) Boddington, who died in 1805, directed that the mill be sold to his tenant John Reeves, and Reeves in 1806 sold it to Thomas Hollis who in 1829 devised it to his son John. (fn. 251) From 1854 to 1920 the mill was held by members of the Harris family; in 1928 the miller was A. F. Pearce, in 1931 Walter Allen, after whose death c. 1938 the mill, by then disused but with its machinery still in place, was sold. (fn. 252) Although the mill was powered mainly by water, steam was used occasionally in the later 19th century. (fn. 253)
In 1279 Peter of the mill held Westcott Barton mill and 4 a. as a free tenant of Peter of Barton. (fn. 254) The mill remained part of the manor estate until the early 17th century when it was retained by the Aris family after they had sold the manor. In 1658 William and Anne Aris conveyed it to Anne Jackson. (fn. 255) The mill was last recorded in 1722 and had apparently ceased work by 1767. (fn. 256) It is said to have stood by the ford on the south side of the Dorn. (fn. 257)
In 1279 the lords of Steeple Barton and Barton Ede held courts for their tenants. (fn. 258) The court of the Steeple Barton manor was recorded again in 1322–3, 1349–50, and 1352–3, (fn. 259) but that of Barton Ede was not mentioned again until the 16th century. Oseney abbey's court for its tenants in Steeple Barton and the adjoining parishes was recorded in 1333 and continued to be held until the Dissolution. (fn. 260)
The Steeple Barton court was held, for admissions to copyhold at least, in 1672, (fn. 261) but there is no later record of it. The Dormers held courts for Sesswell's Barton and Rousham in the later 16th century. (fn. 262) The court held in the 19th century by the Cottrell-Dormers of Rousham for the tenants of Rousham and Barton derived from the Rousham manor court. (fn. 263) The constable made occasional payments to beggars and paid for poor law removals. In addition, he had some responsibility for the maintenance of fords, bridges, and watercourses, as well as the parish pound in the Worton road. Money for his expenses was raised by levies on the yardland. (fn. 264) The overseers of the poor were from 1855 assisted by a paid assistant overseer. (fn. 265) Other officers included collectors of assessed taxes, recorded in 1841 and 1851. The surveyors of the highways were superseded in 1864 by a single waywarden. In 1853 the vestry appointed a sanatory officer to investigate nuisances. (fn. 266)
The parish claimed to have spent £82 on poor relief in 1776, an average of £104 in the years 1783–5, and £318 in 1803. (fn. 267) In 1800–1 the overseers accounted for the unusually large sum of £723. (fn. 268) Between 1803 and 1832 the capitation rates ranged between c. 16s. and c. £1 14s., the peak year being 1819 when as much as £705 was spent. In 1831 expenditure was £510, c. 16s. a head. (fn. 269)
There were 15 women and 4 men on regular relief in 1791, and 13 women and 46 men in 1800–1 out of a population of 393. (fn. 270) In 1803, however, only 25 adults and 6 children were on regular out-relief, and in 1813 only 29 adults were reported. (fn. 271) Roundsmen were first recorded in 1800–1 when the overseers paid 32 men for 'work', and the system was said to have continued in Barton into the 1820s. (fn. 272)
In 1844 the vestry resolved to employ men on farms (in proportion to rateable value) or on the roads 'to keep down the proportion of the establishment charges of the union', and in 1847 it ordered the surveyors to set the unemployed to work on the roads at not more than 9s. a week. (fn. 273) The vestry was succeeded by a parish council in 1894.
There was no workhouse in the parish, but by 1795 the parish officers owned five cottages which were sometimes used to house the poor. (fn. 274) A new cottage was built in 1819, and several others were evidently added before 1836 when the guardians of the Woodstock union, with the consent of the vestry, sold eleven cottages. The four remaining parish cottages were sold in 1865. (fn. 275) Steeple Barton was included in the Woodstock poor law union in 1834. In 1932 it was transferred from the Woodstock to the Chipping Norton rural district, (fn. 276) and in 1974 became part of West Oxfordshire district.
Until the 16th century Steeple Barton parish included the later parish of Sandford St. Martin. (fn. 277) From 1951 the benefice was held in plurality with Westcott Barton. In 1960 the benefices were united, and in 1977 the united benefice was united with Sandford St. Martin and Duns Tew. (fn. 278)
The church was given to Oseney abbey by Roger of St. John between 1186 and 1190, and in 1217 the abbey obtained permission to appropriate the church, subject to the life interest of the rector. (fn. 279) The abbey retained the advowson of an endowed vicarage until the Dissolution, presenting regularly except in 1528 when the bishop of Lincoln presented. (fn. 280) The advowson was granted to Oxford cathedral in 1542, and, with the manor, to Leonard Chamberlain and John Blundell in 1546. (fn. 281) It was divided among Blundell's coheirs, and in the 16th and 17th centuries followed the descent of the manor. (fn. 282) One share passed from Gresham Hogan (fn. 283) to Thomas Waller, who presented in 1661, to John James, who presented in 1712, and to Hogan James, who presented in 1722. (fn. 284) John Taylor of Westminster presented in 1741, and William and Mary Mister in 1808. (fn. 285) The Misters sold the share in 1810 to Samuel Churchill; on Churchill's bankruptcy it was bought in 1839 by John Painter, whose son John sold it in 1861 to the duke of Marlborough. (fn. 286) Another share of the advowson passed from Gerard and Mary Croker to Gerard Croker, who presented in 1639, and to Edmund Eyres, who settled it on his daughter Frances and her husband Richard Hill for their lives. (fn. 287) The reversion passed through a number of hands, and in 1721 was sold to the duke of Marlborough's trustees. Frances Hill surrendered her interest in 1722, and the duchess of Marlborough presented in 1729. (fn. 288) A third share of the advowson was exercised in 1736 by Sir Francis Page, who had bought the manor house and demesne lands of Steeple Barton in 1714 and a share of the rectory in 1715. (fn. 289) The advowson was presumably assumed to belong to the rectory, although it was not mentioned in the conveyances. It passed, with the site of the manor, to Richard Bourne Charlett, who presented in 1807, and to the Hall family of Barton Abbey. (fn. 290) In 1910 the duke of Marlborough and A. W. Hall transferred the patronage to the bishop of Oxford. (fn. 291)
Between 1185 and 1187 Oseney abbey obtained papal permission for the church to be served by a group of three or four canons, one of whom should be presented to the bishop and receive the cure of souls, (fn. 292) but there is no evidence that the permission was ever acted upon, and in 1217 a vicarage was endowed with ½ hide of land, the altar dues, and a house. (fn. 293) In 1230 the vicar failed in his claim to the small tithes of the St. Johns' demesne. (fn. 294) In 1254 Steeple Barton, with its chapels of Sandford and Ledwell, was worth £15; in 1291, 32 marks, and in 1428, £19. (fn. 295) In 1526 the net value of the vicarage of Great Barton alone was £6 8s., and in 1535 the vicar's income from tithes of wool and lambs, 2 yardlands of glebe, and offerings, was £8 gross, £7 9s. 4d. net. (fn. 296) By 1675 the gross value of the living had risen to £23 13s. 4d., composed of £10 from glebe and £13 13s. 4d. from small tithes, and by 1707 it had risen to £30 4s. (fn. 297) At inclosure in 1796 the vicar was allotted 27 a. in lieu of small tithes, and in 1808 the living was worth £71 a year net. (fn. 298) In 1811 the vicar attempted to levy small tithes in kind, instead of accepting the customary moduses amounting to only £10 17s. a year, but in 1831 the living was worth only £86 gross, £78 net a year. (fn. 299) In 1848 the vicarial tithes were commuted for £50 a year, and in 1851 the vicar received £60 from land and £45 from tithe. (fn. 300) The living was endowed in 1862 with £200 from the Common Fund, and the transfer of the advowson to the bishop in 1910 made possible an augmentation by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, bringing the net value of the living to £200. Further augmentations were made by Major P. Fleming of Barton Abbey in 1946 and 1947. (fn. 301)
The vicarage house was beyond repair in 1738. (fn. 302) It was later described as a small, tworoomed cottage, and in 1831 was let to a labourer. (fn. 303) In 1855–6 it was demolished and a new house, designed by S. S. Teulon, was built on an enlarged site. (fn. 304) It was sold in 1963.
The only known rector was William of St. John (fl. 1176, 1186), brother of the lords of the manor Thomas and Roger of St. John; he did not serve the church himself. (fn. 305) Richard, vicar from before 1230 until 1259, gave a villein and his family to Oseney abbey, perhaps in return for a corrody granted him in 1258. His successor, Hereward, was able to lend the abbey 5 marks in 1260. (fn. 306)
Walter Joust, vicar 1375–1400, was the son of a Barton man, (fn. 307) but other medieval vicars, particularly four Oxford graduates, probably had little contact with their parishioners. William Poole, B.Cn.L., vicar 1464–75, was rector of Calstone Wellington (Wilts.) from 1472; William Barton, vicar 1509–10, was abbot of Oseney. His successor, William Morgan, probably a canon of Oseney, lived at Barton for at least part of his incumbency, but c. 1520 he was reported to have two women in his house, and to fail to say offices at the proper times on feast days. (fn. 308) In 1530 the vicar, John Rogers, had a curate, perhaps because he was non-resident. (fn. 309)
In the early 13th century land in Barton Ede paid 8d. a year for wax for the parish church, but no further record of it survives. (fn. 310) In 1535 there were five subsidiary altars, and statues of the Virgin Mary, St. Catherine, St. Anne, St. Margaret, St. Osyth, St. John the Baptist, St. Anthony, St. Peter, St. Michael, St. Nicholas, Our Lady of Pity, and St. Clement. (fn. 311)
Giles Bylked or Bilhede, the last vicar presented by Oseney abbey, died in 1551; there were five vicars between then and 1560, including in 1557 Hugh Stepley, a conformist who later sat on Archbishop Parker's commission ad vendicandos clericos convictos. One at least held the rectory of Westcott Barton in plurality. (fn. 312) John Boldren, vicar 1560–77, was a puritan and friend of the reformer Laurence Humphrey, who was himself connected by marriage with the Dormer family of Sesswell's Barton. Boldren bequeathed to Steeple Barton church two volumes of 'monuments of martyrs', and endowed an annual sermon. (fn. 313) Robert Smith, deprived for adultery in 1601, held Sandford St. Martin in plurality. (fn. 314)
Throughout the Civil War and Interregnum Thomas Belcher, presented in 1640, remained vicar, though he was deprived of Westcott Barton in 1646 and resigned c. 1656 from Sandford St. Martin, livings which he held in plurality. (fn. 315) The next vicar, Edward Cockson (1661–1712), also held Westcott Barton in plurality; he wrote a number of pamphlets against the Quakers, who made several converts in the parish in the late 17th century. (fn. 316)
For much of the period 1712–1850 Steeple Barton suffered from absentee vicars and poorly paid, non-resident curates. (fn. 317) In 1738 the vicar, John Brewer, was chaplain to Sir Francis Page at Middle Aston and fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, but he served Steeple Barton himself, holding two services on Sundays and administering holy communion to a few communicants four times a year. (fn. 318) In 1746 the vicar, Anthony Apperley, served the church, and Sandford St. Martin, himself, but in 1747 he moved to Warwickshire. In 1759 and 1771 his curate lived in Wootton, and in 1759 and 1768 also served Westcott Barton, holding one service in each church each Sunday, and administering communion to 12–20 communicants four times a year. (fn. 319) Edward Walker, vicar 1772–1807, was curate and then vicar (1784–1807) of Sandford St. Martin, and held Lower Ettington (Warws.) from 1782; he lived first at Barcheston and then at Whichford (Warws.). (fn. 320) In 1801 his curate, who lived in Enstone, served Steeple Barton, Sandford, Over Worton, and Nether Worton. (fn. 321) In 1805, when the curate served only Steeple Barton and Sandford, there was still only one service on a Sunday, but by 1808 the number of celebrations of holy communion had risen to seven a year. (fn. 322) The pluralist Robert Wright, vicar 1808–50, was alleged to have visited the parish only once, to read himself in. (fn. 323) In 1809 the curate so neglected the cure that in nine months there were six Sundays without any service. (fn. 324) From 1816 to 1837 the church was served by William Gorden, vicar of Duns Tew, who held one service on Sundays for a stipend which rose from £40 in 1816 to £50 in 1821. (fn. 325) The number of communicants rose from 18 to c. 35 during his curacy. (fn. 326) His successor served the parish from Enstone, for a stipend reduced to £40. In 1847 the parishioners unsuccessfully petitioned the bishop for a second service on Sundays. At that date the curate, an old man, visited the parish 'at least once a week'. (fn. 327)
Wright died in 1850, and his successor, who lived in the parish, increased the services to two each Sunday with holy communion once a month. Congregations increased somewhat, but were still unsatisfactory in 1854: 120 in the afternoon and fewer in the morning, a decrease since 1851. (fn. 328) Henry Hall's attempt in 1854 to present a fiercely Evangelical incumbent was thwarted by Bishop Wilberforce, and there was little change in church life or services until the 1880s when a weekly communion was introduced. The total number of communicants rose from 62 in 1872 to c. 92 in 1887. (fn. 329) A mission hall was built in 1888–9, on the corner of the Enstone and Kiddington roads in Middle Barton; it was used for occasional services, as well as meetings. (fn. 330)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN, so called by 1273, (fn. 331) comprises chancel, nave with south aisle and south porch, west tower, and north-east vestry; it was almost completely rebuilt in 1850 and 1851. No traces remain of the 12th-century church, recorded between 1186 and 1190, (fn. 332) but it presumably consisted of nave and chancel, and had a tower, of which the north buttress may remain, by 1247 when the placename Steeple Barton was first recorded. (fn. 333) In the 14th century the south arcade and south porch were built; the columns of the arcade have elaborately carved capitals, decorated with human and animal heads. At least one new window was inserted in the chancel in the 14th century, (fn. 334) and a doorway in the north wall of the nave. Also in the 14th century a new window was inserted in the west wall of the south aisle. In the 15th century the lower stages of the existing tower were built.
The chancel needed repair c. 1520. (fn. 335) In 1548 a parishioner left £20 'for the building of the steeple', presumably the top part of the tower, and in 1551 another left £10 for the repair of the church. (fn. 336) The east window of the chancel may have been replaced about the same time. In the 17th century the chancel arch was boarded up, and in 1686 the royal arms of James II supported by angels were painted on the upper part of the boarding. (fn. 337) About the same date two new windows were inserted in the north wall of the nave. (fn. 338) The chancel was in 'a most miserable condition' in 1745; it may have been repaired in 1752 when work was done on the east wall of the nave. (fn. 339)
The chancel was rebuilt in 1850, at the expense of Viscount Clifden, the chief impropriator, to designs of J. C. Buckler; the nave was largely rebuilt in 1851, by the same architect. Only the south arcade and the tower seem to have survived untouched, but other parts of the medieval church were replaced in the 19th-century building, including the carved stops above the windows in the north wall of the nave, the piscina in the south wall of the south aisle, and the north doorway. (fn. 340) The chancel was restored in 1877. (fn. 341)
The plain tub font is probably 12th-century. No wall monuments or tombs survive, although the old church contained some to members of the Dormer, Blundell, Humphrey, and Sheldon families. The Dormer monuments were removed to Rousham church in 1851. (fn. 342)
The church plate includes a chalice of 1571–2. There are five bells, two of 1698, three of 1851. (fn. 343)
The churchyard was extended in 1880, 1916, and 1947. (fn. 344)
One man from Middle Barton was fined for recusancy in 1592–3. (fn. 345) In the 17th century the papist Sheldon family may have had a chapel in their house at Sesswell's Barton. (fn. 346) Ralph Sheldon and four of his household refused to take the protestation oath in 1641; his son Edward, his wife and three servants, with four others were reported as recusants c. 1663, and Edward's son Ralph and his household were among the 10 recusants reported in 1682. Humphrey Constable and his wife, who were also presented as recusants c. 1663 and in 1682, were probably connexions of the Sheldons, and the Michael Constable who was one of the ten reputed papists in 1706 was presumably a member of the same family. (fn. 347) Huntingdon Hastings Corney, who held the manor house and demesne of Steeple Barton, was fined as a papist in arms in 1648. (fn. 348)
The departure or death of the Sheldons and Constables seems to have removed the mainstay of the Roman Catholic community in Steeple Barton. Only one papist was returned in 1738, and none in the years between then and 1780, when two Roman Catholic women were reported. (fn. 349) From 1759 incumbents reported one or two papists in Westcott Barton, and from 1780 similar numbers in Steeple Barton. (fn. 350) Between 1796 and 1834 children of three Roman Catholic families from the Bartons were baptized at Kiddington. (fn. 351)
The six Protestant nonconformists recorded in Steeple Barton in 1676 (fn. 352) were probably Quakers. In 1677 Steeple Barton was the site of a Particular Meeting, and ten Quakers were reported there in 1682, seven of them members of the Fletcher family. (fn. 353) Thomas Fletcher performed some of the duties of treasurer to the Quarterly Meeting in 1681 and he and other members of his family suffered for non-payment of tithes. (fn. 354) In 1700 a meeting house was built, with a burial ground; previously Quakers from Steeple Barton had been buried at Adderbury. (fn. 355) In 1738 there were said to be only two poor women Quakers in the parish, one of them a Fletcher; the monthly meeting was attended largely by Friends from neighbouring parishes. (fn. 356) In 1742, because the Friends in the neighbourhood were 'generally dead or removed', the number of meetings was reduced to one a quarter. In 1787, 1789, and 1790 Friends from elsewhere were appointed to attend Barton meeting, but in 1790 the number of meetings was further reduced, to two a year, and in 1798 the meeting was suspended. (fn. 357) A few Quakers were reported in the Bartons 1801–14, occasional meetings were held in Barton in the earlier 19th century, but in 1856 the meeting house, which was occupied as a cottage, was sold. (fn. 358) The house, a small rubble cottage of two storeys, stands at the east end of Jacob's Yard in Middle Barton.
A converted dwelling house in Westcott Barton was registered as a Wesleyan Methodist meeting house in 1814, and in 1817 the congregation included Methodists from Middle Barton. (fn. 359) In 1828 it was replaced by a new chapel on the east side of the Worton road, in Middle Barton, which was attended by 181 people in the morning and 188 in the evening on Census Sunday 1851. (fn. 360) The chapel was closed c. 1939 and converted into a house c. 1946. (fn. 361)
'Ranters', presumably Primitive Methodists, were recorded in Middle Barton in 1834, (fn. 362) and on Census Sunday 1851 they attracted congregations of 130 in the morning and 136 in the evening. (fn. 363) Later in 1851 a chapel was built in Westcott Barton, on the south side of the village street near the former mill; in 1860 it was replaced by a new building on the west side of the Dock in Middle Barton. (fn. 364) Both Methodist congregations were assisted in the later 19th century by Catherine Louisa Hall, widow of Henry Hall, of Barton Abbey. (fn. 365) The chapel was still open in 1980.
A Salvation Army meeting was reported in Westcott Barton from 1890. (fn. 366)
In 1802 there were two dame schools in Steeple Barton; in 1815 there was no proper school in the parish, but many children attended schools in Worton and Deddington. (fn. 367) About 1816 a 'gentleman of the neighbourhood', probably William Wilson of Over Worton, established a day school for 40 children on the National system, and between 1820 and 1822 he built a school house in Middle Barton. (fn. 368) There were also in 1818 three dame schools and another day school in the parish, catering for 67 children. (fn. 369) In 1833 there were 85 pupils at the school supported by William Wilson, and 28 at two small schools. (fn. 370) By 1845 the vestry had assumed some responsibility for Wilson's school, appointing the mistress. (fn. 371) In 1860 the school was held in a building provided by Henry Hall of Barton Abbey. (fn. 372)
In 1865 the vestry accepted the offer of A. W. Hall of Barton Abbey to build a school on the south east edge of Middle Barton. (fn. 373) The school was opened in 1866 with three teachers and 90 pupils, (fn. 374) but in 1868 there were c. 55 children whose parents could not afford the school pence. (fn. 375) The school received a government grant from 1867. (fn. 376) Numbers rose to 158 in 1890, fell to 131 in 1906, and rose slightly to 145 in 1920. (fn. 377) In 1923 the school, which had hitherto been a voluntary school, was transferred to the Local Education Authority. It was reorganized in 1930 as a junior school, the seniors going to Steeple Aston. Numbers rose steadily, from 44 in 1930 to 88 in 1954 and 153 in 1979. In 1979 secondary children attended the Warriner comprehensive school in Bloxham. (fn. 378)
Charities for the Poor.
John Boldren, vicar 1560–77, by will dated 1577, left £6 13s. 4d., Edward Croshawe, by will dated 1626, £1, and Justine Dormer, by will dated 1627, £13, to be lent to poor householders of the parish. (fn. 379) By the early 18th century the stock had been reduced to £6 which was lent out and the interest distributed to the poor. A further £3 was lost in 1739 and the remaining £3 in 1787. (fn. 380)
Henry Gould, by will dated 1848, left £5 a year for a bread charity, and Herbert Lee Hall (d. 1914) of Hall's Brewery, by will dated 1872, gave £500 as a coal charity for poor widows of Steeple Barton. By a scheme of 1970 the two charities were amalgamated with the Poor's Allotment (c. 30 a.), made at inclosure, and with the Westcott Barton charities to form the Barton Charities to give relief in need in the two parishes. In 1979 the income of the charities was £312. (fn. 381)