A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.
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Eynsham's early buildings are predominantly of local limestone with Stonesfield slate roofs. (fn. 68) Surviving drawings (fn. 69) and signs that many central cottages acquired a second storey in the 19th century suggest that earlier most smaller houses were single-storeyed with steep thatched roofs. Only a few thatched cottages survive. Many fires were recorded, including one on Whit Monday 1629 which destroyed over 100 bays of building and another in 1681 when 20 houses were burnt. (fn. 70) There were serious fires in 1696 (in Newland Street), 1709, and 1854, the last damaging Abbey Farm and houses in Swan Lane, and reaching as far as Queen Street. (fn. 71)
The earliest surviving domestic building in Eynsham is the White Hart inn in Newland Street, which retains parts of a medieval roof. The building may be the hall occupied by Thomas Schermon in 1366, (fn. 72) probably the court house of Newland. The medieval building occupied the frontage of a large burgage plot, but by the 17th century the building seems to have become a minor constituent of a large holding covering the whole north-west corner of Newland. The holding passed from the Almond family to the Leggs and in the 1750s was divided, its eastern half, including the later White Hart, passing afterwards to the Day family. (fn. 73) In 1785 John May bought it and licensed the Haunch of Venison. Earlier Francis Ladson, a tenant of the Days, had licensed the Rose and Crown, probably on that site. (fn. 74) The inn became the White Hart in 1835 and was the meeting place of Newland courts into the 20th century. (fn. 75) For a time in the 19th century the eastern end was used as a grocer's shop. (fn. 76) The original house extends into the property on the east. Its centre is marked by a raised cruck roof of two large bays, soot-encrusted and evidently designed to be seen above an open hall. To the east the roof continues for one short bay over what was probably a service end. At the south end of the presumed screens passage is a respond of chamfered ashlar with a finely carved medieval stop and in the bedroom above is the wide carved oak head of the medieval entrance; a jamb with roll moulding may be traced in the outside wall. The west, or solar, end was presumably medieval in origin, but its roof is contemporary with a later reconstruction of the hall roof. The hall was divided into two rooms and a first floor inserted, probably in the 17th century; then or earlier a fireplace was built against the rear wall of the central bay. In the 18th century a rear wing was added, and later extended by a large clubroom, probably in 1828 when the adjacent stable block was built by the publican, John Weller. (fn. 77)
On the site of the Co-operative stores was a building once known as the old manor house, rebuilt in 1954. (fn. 78) In the 19th century its owners still received from the lords of the manor a rent charge of 5s., which in 1535 the abbey paid to Thomas Blackman and was later paid to his heirs. (fn. 79) The Blackmans were prominent in Eynsham from the later Middle Ages until c. 1600, frequently acting as manorial officials; in 1574 the family claimed arms. (fn. 80) The building, aligned with Mill Street and Abbey Street, was evidently an encroachment on the original square, and the residual payment and the tradition of manorial status suggest that it may have been the court house of the medieval manor. The Blackmans' successors by the mid 17th century were the Greens, and by then the building was the Green Dragon; (fn. 81) it ceased to be an inn in the late 18th century and later included a shop and a bank. When demolished in 1954 it comprised an L-shaped building of rubble and stone slate, incorporating fragments of abbey masonry. The earlier wing, on Lombard Street, contained a central chimney and fireplaces of the 16th century or earlier and part of the block was timberframed and jettied, with a moulded wooden oriel of four lights with mullions and transoms. The east-west wing was refronted in the 18th century.
In the 16th and 17th centuries Eynsham was dominated by a few wealthier men whose houses, mostly rebuilt in that period, are among the most substantial buildings in the village. The leading taxpayers were farmers, occupying Abbey Farm, Twelve Acre Farm, and the Elms (all treated below), (fn. 82) and the Gables, the Shrubbery, and one or two other central farmhouses. The Gables, on the corner of Newland Street and Queen Street, is a timber-framed house of possibly late medieval origin, on a site which in 1366 was the largest plot in Newland borough but seems to have been vacant. (fn. 83) In 1650 the house belonged to John Green, gentleman, whose father John (d. 1615) was a tanner who had come to Eynsham from Tamworth (Staffs.); in much of their property the Greens succeeded the Blackmans, (fn. 84) who may have built the Gables. By the 17th century the site was divided into three parts, the house, the adjacent Porter's close, and a malthouse, which was sometimes held separately. The house and close passed from the Greens through coheirs to Anthony Saywell in 1673, to the Wises in 1703, to the Colliers in 1761, and in 1819-20 to James Swann of Eynsham mill, papermaker, whose family held the whole property until the 1890s. (fn. 85)
The house has a long timber-framed front with four large gables, and tall, diagonally set, brick chimneystacks. The southern gable is of a possibly late medieval cross wing, against which stands a long 17th-century central range, terminating in a northern cross wing which contained the kitchen. The main entrance is probably of the 16th century; a 17th-century staircase at the south end of the main range rises to the attics and another stair was inserted at the north end in the 18th century. A 19th-century corridor on the west side incorporates 17th-century timberframed windows, probably removed from the earlier west wall. Sash windows were inserted on the east front in the 19th century, and the house was much restored in the early 20th century. (fn. 86) The wide two-storeyed stone malthouse and associated cottages have distinctive low-pitched roofs designed for a covering of tarred paper, of which fragments survive. The Swanns were leading proponents of paper roofs in the early 19th century, (fn. 87) and the buildings probably date from 1820 when John Pimm was working for James Swann at 'the late Collier house', which included a 'new building at the malthouse'. (fn. 88) By tradition an ancient acacia in the garden was planted by the author William Cobbett, though at the time of his recorded dealings with the Swanns they lived at the mill, not moving to the Gables until at least the late 1820s. (fn. 89)
The Shrubbery on High Street was probably rebuilt in the later 16th century by another leading Eynsham family, the Martins. (fn. 90) By 1650 the house and associated estate were held by Thomas King, a sequestrated clergyman, whose interest derived from his wife Dorothy, formerly Martin. King died in 1681 and from Dorothy's son Michael Martin the house passed to Michael's children, Richard, and later Christopher, Knight or Martin (d. 1702). (fn. 91) It was acquired by the Knapps, who sold it in the 1740s to Edward Ryves, a Woodstock lawyer whose large Eynsham estate passed to the Holloways. In the later 18th century the house seems to have been let as a working farmhouse, but Edward Vere Holloway, who acquired it in 1812, lived there. (fn. 92) From the later 19th century it was occupied by one of the town's doctors. (fn. 93) The walls incorporate much re-used ashlar, presumably from the adjacent abbey site, suggesting a date no earlier than the mid 16th century. The cross passage retains its original entrance doors and on the north there is a slightly later two-storeyed porch. Wings projecting northwards from each end of the main range were built later, perhaps in the early 17th century, (fn. 94) but that on the west was rebuilt or remodelled c. 1900 and further extended eastwards c. 1950.
Another substantial 17th-century house forms the core of the later Newland House, the site of the 'ancient holding' around which Newland borough was laid out in the 13th century. (fn. 95) In the 17th century and later the site was freehold, (fn. 96) surrounded by Newland copyholds. Its owner in 1650 was Mrs. Brown, presumably relict of Thomas Brown, one of the four Eynsham taxpayers in 1642 described as 'gentleman'. (fn. 97) In 1708 another Thomas Brown sold the house to George Knapp, whose family retained it until 1771. It was acquired in 1787 by Joseph Druce, who sold it before inclosure to an Oxford family, the Atwoods, who held it until 1847; in the early 19th century it was a girl's boarding school. (fn. 98) From 1858 until the 1890s the house was owned and occupied by the Shillingfords, woolstaplers. (fn. 99) The 17th-century house evidently comprised a central block with cross wings, set well back from the road on a large site whose skewed boundaries dictated the alignment of the wings. In the early 18th century the interior was altered, notably by the addition of a fine staircase which rises to the attics; later in the century a new kitchen was built behind the central range and the front was refaced. By the early 19th century it was already a large house with a long frontage, extensive gardens, and outbuildings. (fn. 1) It was greatly enlarged, probably by the Shillingfords, by building behind the cross wings and gutting the west wing to create a large drawing room with bay window, matched by another bay on the east of the front. In the 20th century the rear garden was sold for building.
A house (now Abbey Stones) at the corner of Abbey Street and Swan Street bears the date 1561 and the initials TP. The datestone, probably re-used, was in its present position by the early 19th century, before the house was raised and refronted. (fn. 2) The house and associated malthouse (later Malthouse Cottage) was for long the centre of a substantial farm, belonging to the Egletons (1650), the Castells (1762), and from the later 18th century the Druces. (fn. 3) Its site stretched to Station Road until 1847, when Samuel Druce, by then living at Home Farm, gave land for the National school; in 1858 the house was occupied by the prominent Baptist minister, Henry Matthew. (fn. 4)
Several other smaller houses and cottages, though much restored, date from the late 16th or early 17th century, notably the Jolly Sportsman and Swan inns mentioned above. A group of substantial early farmhouses lined Mill Street. Home Farm, one of many Druce family acquisitions in the 19th century, (fn. 5) is a good example of the 17th-century regional style of rubble and slate building with gabled roofs; Samuel Druce (d. 1860) was living there by 1841. (fn. 6) Middle Farm, adjacent on the north, belonged to the Castells from the mid 17th century or earlier and was occupied in the 19th century by the Arnatts; (fn. 7) the 17th-century rubble and thatch farmhouse and an 18th-century barn were demolished in recent times. Old Wintles Farm at the junction of Mill Street and Newland Street was probably the large 'new' house occupied by Joan Hampshire at her death in 1618, though she also held another farmhouse, now long demolished, in Acre End Street. (fn. 8) The Hampshires' estate passed to the Jordans, and in 1748 the 'newly built house' and the farm were bought by the lawyer Edward Ryves and so descended to the Holloways. The Wintle family owned and let the farm from 1845 until 1920. (fn. 9) The house, after the rebuilding of the early 18th century, is a large rubble and stone slate building of two storeys, with five wood mullioned and transomed windows and an original door. Redthorn House, of similar date and style on the opposite corner of Newland Street, was a working farmhouse until the 19th century. In the mid 18th century it belonged to the Devalls (fn. 10) but later passed to the manorial lords and in 1801 was sold, as Blagrove's Farm, to W. E. Taunton, who soon afterwards sold to the Swanns. (fn. 11) In the mid 19th century it was let as a working farm but was later a private house, in the early 20th century housing a school run by Miss H. G. Swann. (fn. 12) The building, of rubble and stone slate with a hipped roof and two ranges of six windows, probably dates from the early 18th century.
Notable 18th-century buildings were the Bartholomew Room and the vicarage house. (fn. 13) The Grange in Acre End Street, the earliest brick house in Eynsham, was built as a long range, comprising a house, malthouse, and granary, later acquiring at the rear a corn mill. In the 19th century the west end of the range was altered and raised. The small size of the earlier bricks, and the elaborately moulded cornice, suggest an early 18th-century date. The house seems to have set a style, using plat bands and Flemish bond with all headers black, which was used in the village for over a century. The Grange may have been built by Thomas Loder, an Oxford brewer, who in 1737 acquired what in 1650 had been two tenements (Blackman's and Coleman's copies) and were merged in the early 18th century by the Quartermain family. By 1760 the house and malthouse belonged to Dr. Nourse of Oxford, and passed later to Thomas Adkins (d. 1796), a wealthy maltster. (fn. 14) For much of the 19th century the property was owned by the Sheldons, corn dealers, maltsters, and millers. (fn. 15)
Murray House (formerly the Laurels), immediately to the east, is an 18th-century house of coursed rubble and stone slate, with original doors, staircase, and panelling. The property was bought in the 1770s by Edward Minn (d. 1788), a wealthy landowner, who may have rebuilt it since shortly afterwards he was seeking a pew in the church to go with his 'handsome house'. (fn. 16) It belonged to the Minns until at least the 1830s, (fn. 17) and in 1841 was occupied by James Hinton, the prominent Baptist and Irvingite. (fn. 18) Myrtle House in Mill Street has a mid 18th century front of three bays and three storeys with 'pattern book' architraves and doorcase; reused 17th-century doors survive in the attics. The house belonged to a branch of the Wastie family from the 18th century until modern times: William Wastie acquired a house on part of the site in the 1740s, but Myrtle House in its present form probably dates from after 1767 when the Wasties acquired the main part of the site. (fn. 19) Llandaff, on the north side of the Square, held as a farmhouse by the Arnatts in the 18th and 19th centuries, (fn. 20) dates from 1732; a circular window and crenellated bays were added in the early 20th century. (fn. 21) Its name recalls Francis Matthew, last earl of Llandaff, apparently related to Henry Matthew, Eynsham's 19thcentury Baptist minister. (fn. 22)
In 1792 Eynsham was said to exhibit 'little more than wretched cottages', but a few decades later it was described as 'extensive and cheerful'. (fn. 23) There was increased building activity in the early 19th century, chiefly in response to rising population, partly as a result of some reorganization of farms at inclosure. Blankstones Farm in Acre End Street, for instance, bears the date 1802 and the initials of James Preston (d. 1805), a major farmer in the parish, whose family continued there for much of the 19th century. (fn. 24) Many cottages were built, chiefly in local brick. (fn. 25) A typical early row, using black and red bricks for the facade and stone rubble at the rear, was Trap Alley at the south end of Queen Street, built by Richard Bowerman in 1817 and until the 1930s extending further north. (fn. 26) Another brick group, on the west side of Mill Street, was built in 1833 by Jonathan Arnatt, whose initials it bears. Other early 19th-century additions include a row of small cottages on the east side of Queen Street, Lord's Row on the Oxford road, cottages in Pug Lane west of the Queen's Head, a brick pair in Mill Street south of the vicarage house, and a stone row built by Peter Wastie north of his house, Myrtle House. (fn. 27) Some early cottage building was of very poor quality, creating insanitary yards such as Curtis's in Acre End Street, where seven cottages were cramped on a small plot around a single well; they were demolished in 1896 to create space for Merton Farm. (fn. 28)
Cottage rows of the mid 19th century include Columbia Terrace in High Street, Crown Crescent in Acre End Street (owned by the adjacent Crown brewery of the 1850s, but not occupied principally by brewery workers), (fn. 29) Chapel Yard off Newland Street, built c. 1860 by the Arnatts on the site of a former brewery, (fn. 30) and further east a brick row built by the Druces c. 1870. (fn. 31) A row built for wealthier villagers was Wytham Terrace, a group of three-storeyed brick houses of the 1860s on the south side of Acre End Street.
During the 19th century several older farmhouses in Eynsham were rebuilt or enlarged, notably Abbey Farm and the Arnatts' chief farmhouse, no. 5 Thames Street, which they had owned since the early 18th century and was known in the later 19th as Ache Hill or Home Farm. (fn. 32) Some farmhouses emerged in the 19th century as gentry residences, notably Newland Lodge (later Chesneys) in Newland Street, which seems to have been separated from its agricultural lands in the early 19th century. It was on the site of a large copyhold (c. 1 ½ a.), held in 1650 by John Woodley, a London haberdasher, and in the early 18th century by the Knapps. In 1755 it was sold to Edward Ryves, and passed to his heirs the Holloways. (fn. 33) The plot was divided in the early 19th century and the house and the eastern part were bought in 1821 by Samuel Druce (d. 1860), whose family retained it throughout the century. In the earlier 19th century the house was let as a boys' boarding school. (fn. 34) Before 1876, (fn. 35) perhaps in 1862, the date on a surviving weather vane, a large new house was built north-east of the old buildings, perhaps for Samuel Druce's son-in-law, Edward Welchman, a retired chemist, tenant of Newland Lodge in the 1870s. (fn. 36) A Roman Catholic mission met there in the 1890s. (fn. 37) After a fire the house was rebuilt in 1898 and renamed Chesneys by Conrad Marshall Schmidt, a London art decorator, whose initials are over the main doorway: (fn. 38) the interior, perhaps to Schmidt's design, includes ornate ribbed ceilings and panelling, and some plaster decoration in 18thcentury style.
The Hythe Croft (earlier the Lodge or Highcroft Lodge), on the site of a former tannery established by the Day family in the early 18th century, was sold in 1832 by Robert Day to Samuel Druce, whose family retained it until 1897. (fn. 39) In the early 19th century a house was built on the site of a cottage there, and after 1832 the associated farmyard was sold and many of the former tannery buildings demolished. (fn. 40) The Druces for long sublet the property, notably to William Shillingford in the 1840s and 1850s, but they lived there in the later 19th century. (fn. 41) In 1907 an extension was built to the designs of Clough Williams Ellis. (fn. 42)
Perhaps because of improved communications with Oxford in the 19th century Eynsham began to attract a few wealthier newcomers who built substantial houses. Acre End House, for example, was probably rebuilt in the early 19th century by the Pinfolds, an Oxford family. (fn. 43) Willow Bank, a large brick house on the eastern edge of the town, was built in the 1830s for Matthew Hastings, land agent and surveyor. (fn. 44) Some 19th-century rebuilding, notably of Mansard House in Acre End Street (fn. 45) and of the Holt in Mill Street, with its imposing late-Victorian Gothic front, made no concessions to the essentially rural setting. On the north-western edge of the built-up area Inglemere (renamed Fruitlands when it became a market garden) was added in the earlier 20th century. (fn. 46)
Institutional buildings of the 19th century included the Baptist chapel of 1818, the National school of 1847 (later a private house) in Station Road, the Board school of 1878 (later the Bartholomew School), the Wesleyan chapel of 1884 (later the parish room) in Thames Street, and the late 19th-century Catholic Apostolic church in Mill Street. (fn. 47) New commercial premises, besides the inns mentioned above, included the Crown brewery in Acre End Street, Gibbons brewery north of High Street, and a mineral water factory off Mill Street (all demolished), (fn. 48) the tall, red-brick Pimms' stores in the Square, added to the shop opened by the family in the 1880s, (fn. 49) and the large house and associated wine and grocery shop of the Gibbons family in Lombard Street (later the Board Hotel and a restaurant). (fn. 50) Gas street lighting was introduced in 1871 from a gas works in Spareacre Lane, which was sometimes called Gas Street. (fn. 51) There were many difficulties over supply and even in the 1930s only half the village houses were connected. (fn. 52) Mains electricity became available in the 1930s, and electric street lighting was fully installed soon after 1945. (fn. 53) Main drainage was introduced in 1899, and mains water supply in 1903; a tall brick water tower at the junction of Mill Street and Spareacre Lane was demolished in 1972. (fn. 54)
Although the population rose sharply from the 1920s there was little outward expansion until after the Second World War. In the 1920s a sugar beet factory was established on the wharf, which continued as an industrial site thereafter. (fn. 55) Houses built between the wars included council houses of the 1930s at Clover Place and on Spareacre Lane. (fn. 56) By 1960 many houses had been built on the edge of the village notably on the Wytham View estate, along the Hanborough, Witney, and Old Witney roads, and on Spareacre Lane. In the 1960s the town was transformed by building behind houses in the central streets, particularly between Mill Street and Witney Road and between High Street and Newland Street; more houses were added on the outskirts, between Spareacre Lane and Hanborough Road, and east of Hanborough Road. The Bartholomew School was greatly enlarged and a new primary school built in the fields north of Newland Street. Small industries were established on an industrial estate on the Stanton Harcourt road, on the Station site, and the Freeland road. New shops were built away from the centre, particularly on Mill Street. In 1974 Eynsham was designated a conservation area. (fn. 57) After relatively little growth in the 1970s rapid expansion followed the completion of the eastern bypass in 1983.