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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Cassington and Worton appear to have had separate sets of fields throughout their history, but nothing is known of the medieval fields of Worton. By the 13th century Cassington was divided into two fields, part of whose boundary was a green way, possibly the green way leading to 'Burwell' recorded c. 1285. In 1244 one division seems to have been a north field. (fn. 31) The name Old field, recorded in the later 13th century for a furlong near Burleigh wood, (fn. 32) may preserve the memory of an earlier arrangement, perhaps a separate field for the settlement at Purwell. The arable was extended in the early Middle Ages by assarting, presumably from Burleigh wood, and by ploughing the land along the Thames and Evenlode. (fn. 33) The organization of the fields was presumably affected by the consolidation of the Clinton, later Montagu, demesne, which had begun before 1152, when Geoffrey de Clinton granted land in his demesne furlong of Batemoor (Battmoor) north-east of the village. A furlong north of the village was called Inland c. 1285, and William Montagu's demesne land lay in the same area in the late 13th century. (fn. 34) The 18th-century field names Long Berry and Short All or Hall furlongs, both in the west, (fn. 35) probably also represent former demesne. Godstow abbey, too, consolidated part of its holding, often buying or exchanging land to create a solid block in the fields; by the late 13th century the abbey held as many as 10 a. 'lying together' in one furlong, and blocks of 5 or 6 a. in others. (fn. 36)
The alluvial land along the Thames and the Evenlode provided plentiful meadow, and there was pasture in the Slade and Battmoor between Cassington and Worton and on the heaths in the north-east of the parish. In 1086 there were 53 a. of meadow in Cassington, fairly evenly divided among the manors, and 48 a. in Worton, and several furlongs of pasture in each township. (fn. 37) In the 13th century meadow was sold separately from the arable, a process which may account for the fact that only 7 a. of meadow were recorded on the Montagu demesne in 1320 and only 12 a. in 1354, whereas in 1350 Godstow abbey held 13 a. of meadow in Farnhulle (Varnell) and unspecified amounts in West Mead, Rowenhay, and three small islands. Most of the Cassington meadow was lot meadow, and all, or nearly all, of it lay along the Evenlode. (fn. 38) Worton meadow lay along the Thames. (fn. 39) Cassington men had the right to common in some of the Eynsham meadows along the Evenlode, and the customs were regulated by an agreement of 1328, after a dispute. (fn. 40)
Before 1600, probably in the later Middle Ages, much of the land south of Cassington village was converted to meadow and pasture, and the fields were reorganized for a three course rotation. There is evidence for a six-fold division of the arable in the 17th century, and it seems likely that each of the earlier fields had been divided into three. In the northern part of the township the divisions corresponded to the northern part of the later Purwell field (called Allslad field or West field), the later Burleigh field, and the later Ninelands field (called Slade field). The arrangements in the south are less clear and may have changed from time to time, perhaps as more land in the southern part of the later Mill field was brought into cultivation. One division, probably corresponding to the southern part of Purwell field, was called Allslad field; another, which included the south-east part of Godshill field, was called Feather field. (fn. 41) The six fields thus created were cultivated on a three-course rotation, two being left fallow each year, and they were sometimes described as the first, second, and third fields. (fn. 42) It appears that the two Allslad fields were later united to form the single, large Purwell field, creating the five open fields recorded in 1797, but the divisions in the south continued to be flexible, and a different arrangement, including a Feather Bush field, was recorded in 1794. Worton was in 1797 divided into three open fields, Brimsgrove field, Slade field, and Heath field, and an area called West Croft which was cropped every year. (fn. 43)
In 1086 each of Wadard's two Cassington manors, with land for 3 ploughteams, was worked by 3 teams, 2 in demesne and 1 on the tenants' land held by 4 villeins and 1 bordar. (fn. 44) On Ilbert de Lacy's manor, with land for 6 ploughteams, there were 2 teams in demesne and 4 worked by the 14 villeins and 6 bordars. In Worton there was land for 5 ploughteams, and there were 2 teams in demesne and 3 on the tenants' land held by 8 villeins and 5 bordars. All the manors had risen in value since 1066, Wadard's from £3 to £5 each, Ilbert's from £4 to £6, and Worton from £4 to £6. (fn. 45)
Before 1279 much of the demesne in Cassington and almost all that in Worton had been granted to tenants, and several freeholds had been created in Cassington. On the Montagu manor in Cassington, composed of one of Wadard's manors and a quarter of Ilbert de Lacy's, Ela countess of Warwick held only 1 ploughland in demesne; 8 servi held 1 yardland each, and 7 free tenants held a total of 7 yardlands, their individual holdings ranging from ½ yardland to 2 yardlands; in addition 8 cottars, 7 of them in Somerford, held 1 cotland each. Godstow abbey, whose manor included half of Wadard's other manor and half of Ilbert de Lacy's, had kept 9 yardlands in demesne; one serf held ½ hide, presumably 2 yardlands, and 5 men who seem to have been free tenants held a total of 5½ yardlands. No demesne land was recorded on Edmund Pady's manor, equivalent to half of Wadard's second manor, and the only tenants were 6 villein yardlanders and 7 cottars. The remaining quarter of Ilbert de Lacy's Domesday manor, which was presumably held by William son of Peter, seems to have comprised the holdings of 5 free tenants, amounting to 2½ yardlands and c. 17 a., but the description may be incomplete. In Worton 9 of the abbot of Oseney's 10 yardlands and all of John de Eu's 10 yardlands were held by villein yardlanders; the tenure of the abbot's tenth yardland was not recorded. (fn. 46)
In 1320 there were 96 a. of arable in demesne on the Montagu manor in Cassington, probably equivalent to the ploughland recorded in 1279. There were 15 customary or bond tenants, presumably including cottars, who paid money rents slightly higher than those recorded in 1279; they all performed mowing, haymaking, and hoeing services, and 7 of them also ploughed, reaped, gathered stubble, and carted hay, corn, and wood. An unspecified number of free tenants paid c. £1 12 s., 2 lb. of pepper, and 100 pickerell. (fn. 47) In 1354 there were 100 a. of arable, apparently in demesne; no services were recorded, but rents were worth 20s. and perquisites of court 12d. (fn. 48)
Michael Meldon's Cassington manor in 1324 comprised 8 messuages, 2 tofts, 1 yardland and 7 a. of arable, all freehold, and rents worth 37s., 1 lb. of pepper, and ½ lb. of cummin, equivalent to the quarter of Ilbert de Lacy's Domesday manor which William son of Peter had held in 1279, and 17 messuages, 1 toft, 1 ploughland, 6 yardlands, 24 a. of arable, 20 a. of meadow, and 4 a. of pasture, equivalent to the half of one of Wadard's manors which Philip Pady had held in 1279; the ploughland, which was not recorded in 1279, may have been demesne, while the 6 yardlands were presumably still held in villeinage. (fn. 49) Bondmen on the Godstow manor still owed works, including 9 days' mowing a year, in 1350. (fn. 50) but there is no later record of such services.
By 1312 there was freehold land in Worton, presumably on the Meldon manor, which had been held by John de Eu in 1279, and by 1324 almost half the manor seems to have been alienated, for Michael Meldon's holding comprised only 6 messuages, 5 yardlands, 38 a. of arable, and 10 a. of pasture. (fn. 51)
From the 16th century or earlier the yardland was considered to be 20 a., actual yardlands varying from 20 a. to 23 a. (fn. 52) Earlier medieval yardlands may have been slightly larger; the 96-a. or 100-a. demesne ploughland on the Montagu manor suggests a yardland of c. 25 a. (fn. 53) A decrease in the size of the yardland, at least in Cassington township, might explain the increase in the number of yardlands at a time when the amount of arable land decreased. In 1279 only c. 50 yardlands were recorded in Cassington, a total which accords with the number of Domesday ploughteams, but in the later 18th century there were said to be 60 yardlands in the township. In Worton there were 20 yardlands from 1279 onwards. (fn. 54)
The medieval field names peselond (peas land), banlond (bean land), bereland (barley land), and flexey (flax island or inclosure) and linton (flax inclosure) indicate some of the crops grown, and lambcupe (lamb shelter) suggests that sheep were also kept. An estate leased in 1350 included an ox house, a cow house, and a sheep house. (fn. 55)
William Montagu, his widow Elizabeth, and Michael Meldon had the highest assessments for the earlier 14th-century subsidies, three or four times the average assessment for the parish. In 1306 and 1327 Michael Meldon's assessment was notably lower than William or Elizabeth Montagu's, and in 1327 it was only 6d. more than the highest of the tenants' assessments. In 1306 the sums assessed in Worton were similar to those in Cassington, but in 1316 and 1327 average assessments in Worton were considerably higher than those in Cassington, 4s. 3d. compared to 2s. 2d., and 3s. 6d. compared to 2s. 4d. (fn. 56) For the subsidy of 1334 Worton, with a smaller population, was assessed at £3 6s. com- pared with Cassington's £4 13s. 2d. (fn. 57)
John Montagu, earl of Salisbury, had a house in Cassington in 1400 which he presumably occupied occasionally, but his successors do not seem to have maintained it. (fn. 58) As none of the Meldons' successors seems to have lived in Cassington, there was no resident lord of the manor until the Godstow and Montagu manors were sold to local yeomen in the later 16th century. In 1524-5 the wealthiest man in the parish was Robert Marsh, farmer of the rectory, who was assessed for subsidy at 40s. on goods, almost half the total assessment for the township. The next highest assessment, John Townsend's, was only 7s. At the other end of the social scale, 7 or 8 men paid at the landless labourer's rate. In Worton the highest assessment was only 4s., and there were 4 landless labourers. (fn. 59) In 1535 John Townsend's son Michael was one of the two richest men in the parish. Michael bought a lease of the rectory from Oxford cathedral in 1544; he died in 1554 and was succeeded by his son Robert, who held 5 yardlands and c. 30 a. of land and had goods worth c. £182 at his death in 1598. (fn. 60) Robert's son and grandson, both called Francis Townsend, held land in the parish in the 1620s and 1630s. (fn. 61)
The later 16th century was marked by the break-up of the former Godstow and Montagu manors. In 1552 the only substantial freehold on the former Montagu manor was Michael Townsend's, amounting to 2½ yardlands and c. 30 a. of arable; there were then 9½ copyhold yardlands. (fn. 62) In 1560 Richard Yate sold a yardland which was thenceforth independent of the manor, and in 1574 Vincent Coventry sold 3½ yardlands to Richard Cherry, whose descendants were prominent in Cassington throughout the 17th century. The residue of the manor, known as Moat, later Reynolds, farm, was assessed at only 6 yardlands in 1699. (fn. 63) The former Godstow manor of 12 yardlands, all held in demesne, was divided into four parts of 3 yardlands each in 1591 and 1604, and two of those 3-yardland estates were later split up. (fn. 64) The Meldon manor in Cassington and the manors in Worton, on the other hand, remained intact. The Christ Church manor of Worton comprised 8 copyhold yardlands and 2 leasehold yardlands throughout the 17th century and the early 18th; the manors sold by Henry Allnutt to the duke of Marlborough in 1711 comprised at least 11 copyhold yardlands and a demesne farm in Cassington and at least 8½ copyhold yardlands in Worton. (fn. 65)
The chief crops recorded in the late 16th century and the 17th were wheat, barley, peas, and beans; oats and hemp were also grown, and garden crops included carrots, parsnips, turnips, cabbages, and onions. (fn. 66) Although the parish was mainly arable, (fn. 67) most farmers kept some cattle, sheep, and pigs. The few large flocks and herds recorded usually formed only a small proportion of a farmer's wealth, but Robert Townsend (d. 1598) owned 18 cattle and 2 calves worth £35 and 131 sheep worth £26 compared with corn worth £40. Similarly Stephen Seale (d. 1658) owned cattle worth £21, 129 sheep and lambs worth £24, and oats, peas, and wheat worth only £20. Richard Greenway (d. 1610) had 97 sheep and lambs worth £14 and 8 cows worth £18 compared with corn worth only £19, but he died in his father's lifetime, and may not be typical. Thomas Seale (d. 1609), a member of a wealthy yeoman family, owned 12 cows, a bull, and 7 bullocks, but they were worth only £39 compared with £175 for his malt, corn, and hay. (fn. 68) Three farmers sued for tithe in 1633 were alleged to have had flocks of 100 or more sheep and herds of 8 or 10 cows. (fn. 69)
In Cassington township in the mid 16th cen- tury the stint in the fields for a yardland was 8 cows and an unknown number of sheep; in the 17th and 18th centuries it was 3 cows, 1 horse, and 20 sheep. (fn. 70) There were also Lammas commons, in 1794 1 horse or 2 cows for each yardland. (fn. 71) Other commons were sold separately from yardlands and seem to have been rights to pasture in the meadows along the Evenlode. At the end of the 18th century West mead and the pasture south of the village were open to cows and horses between 12 August and old Lady Day; Mill Ditch meadow, Grove meadow, and Varnells between Lammas and new Lady Day; Wersey mead, Great Burham, and Little Burham were open to sheep between Lammas and new Lady Day. Cows were allowed on the cow common between 3 May and 24 February and horses on the horse common between I June and Lady Day. Sheep were allowed on most of the meadow and pasture from 22 November; Slade heath was commonable to sheep all year round and to horses and cows at open times. (fn. 72) The lot meadow was allotted by drawing straws of different lengths. (fn. 73)
The stint in Worton seems to have been the same as in Cassington. There was additional grazing in Battmoor lot mead and in Worton meadow after the hay harvest, in the cow common between 3 May and new Lady Day, and in the Slade and Worton Heath all the year round. (fn. 74) There was a shepherd in the township in the late 16th century. (fn. 75)
Both Cassington and Worton were cropped on a three-course rotation until 1794 when they changed to a four-course rotation; Briar furlong (10 a.) in Cassington and West Croft (20 a.) in Worton were cropped every year. The crops were barley, beans, wheat, and fallow, not necessarily in that order. The arable, estimated at 1,194 a. in 1797 but at only 534 a. in 1801, was good corn land, but the meadows along the Thames were low-lying and liable to damage from standing water. (fn. 76)
Most of the early inclosure in Cassington and Worton was around the villages, but in the later 13th century Godstow abbey acquired a close of arable, meadow, and pasture between Somerford and Worton meadow. (fn. 77) The site of Somer- ford remained inclosed, and by the late 18th century there were three small closes (c. 3 a. each) in Ninelands field, and three larger ones (c. 10 a., c. 7 a. and c. 18 a.) in Acreys, east of Cassington village; Great Limpton meadow, south of the village, was also inclosed. Otherwise the parish remained in open fields, estates being scattered in strips of an acre or less. (fn. 78) Between 1801 and 1804 a total of c. 1,985 a., including some old inclosures, was inclosed by Act of parliament and divided among 21 landholders. The largest allotment, c. 1,169 a., was made to the duke of Marlborough for his freehold lands; the duke also received c. 161 a. for lands and common rights held by lease from Christ Church. Christ Church as rector received c. 248 a. for tithe, and the college and its five copyhold tenants in Worton received c. 131 a. The vicar was allotted c. 128 a., of which c. 68 a. was for tithe and 60 a. for glebe. Three freeholders, including the miller John Patrick, each received between 30 a. and 40 a., and nine others received allotments ranging from 9 a. down to less than 1 a. A series of exchanges involving old as well as new inclosures resulted in the creation of several small, compact holdings adjoining houses in Worton and Cassington while almost the whole of the north and west parts of the parish passed to the duke of Marlborough and most of the east and south-east to Christ Church. (fn. 79)
Inclosure raised the value of land; the Christ Church estate in Worton, worth c. £177 before inclosure, was worth c. £283 shortly after it. In 1807 the clay land throughout the parish was valued at 10s.-12s. an acre, the warmer gravel at 30s.-35s., and the meadow at 30s.-45s. Between 1836 and 1863 the tenant of the Christ Church rectory estate drained and manured much of the land, but in 1858 another college estate in Wor- ton was in need of draining and, like much of the land in the neighbourhood, 'rather foul'. (fn. 80) The parish was cultivated in several farms, mainly by tenants of the duke of Marlborough and Christ Church, although some of the freehold farms created at inclosure survived for much of the 19th century. In 1851 there were 14 farms, 4 of them of 200 a. or more, 5 between 100 a. and 199 a., and 5 under 100 a., the smallest being only 15 a. (fn. 81) By 1871 their number had been reduced to 9: Manor farm of 525 a., the rectory farm (360 a.), Purwell farm (272 a.), Jericho farm (230 a.), the glebe farm (130 a.), and 4 others ranging from 30 a. to 12 a. (fn. 82)
Farming remained mixed with pasture predominating. In 1914 as much as 81 per cent of the agricultural land in the parish was permanent grass, used mainly for stock raising, the number of sheep having declined markedly since 1901. Wheat (24 per cent), barley (19 per cent), and oats (16 per cent) were the chief crops on the arable; the swedes, turnips, and mangolds were presumably grown as fodder. (fn. 83) Between 1920 and 1941 Christ Church, which had taken its Worton estate in hand, kept a herd of dairy short horns, 95 cows and heifers and 35 bulls in 1941, as well as some sheep. During the Second World War the arable was slightly increased, and by the late 1940s there were 636 a. of arable to 1,111 a. of pasture, the arable presumably in the centre of the parish around Cassington vil- lage and between it and Purwell, as it had been in 1936. Cattle were kept on all the farms, but only two farms still kept sheep. (fn. 84)
There was some clothworking in the parish in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The mill was occupied by fullers in 1581 and 1588; the miller who died 1639 was also a clothworker, and the name Rack furlong, recorded in 1699 and 1797 for the furlong next to the mill, presumably took its name from the racks for drying fulled cloth. (fn. 85) A North Leigh man who died in 1676 had a broadloom at Cassington. (fn. 86) A fuller and cloth- worker who died in 1682 had had his own workshop; weavers were recorded in 1704, 1711, and 1728 and a narrow weaver in 1726. (fn. 87) Other men followed the usual village occupations; carpenters died in 1641 and 1723, a blacksmith in 1721, and tailors in 1621 and 1639. A shoemaker died in 1727, and a Cassington cordwainer sold shoes in Oxford in 1750. (fn. 88)
The building of the canal and wharf between 1800 and 1802 brought river and canal trade to Cassington. (fn. 89) Barges with coal and salt from Warwickshire reached the wharf from the Oxford canal via the Duke's Cut at Wolvercote, and in the 1830s others came from the south-west via the Thames and Severn canal. Several boatmen lived in the parish between 1813 and 1840, (fn. 90) and the wharfinger in 1825 had his own barge, but the wharf itself was usually let to coal merchants. In 1834 the wharf was let to the Oxford Canal Co. for 10 years, but the arrangement was not sufficiently profitable for the company to renew the lease. A few barges used the canal as late as 1865, but no coal merchant was recorded after 1862, and the canal had probably gone out of use by 1870. (fn. 91) In the later 19th century there were usually 6 or 7 railway labour- ers or plate-layers in the parish. Otherwise the parish remained predominantly agricultural, most men being employed as labourers, with a few carpenters, masons, and other service trades. (fn. 92)
Exploitation of the gravel along the Thames began in the 1930s and continued for c. 30 years, (fn. 93) but had ceased by 1982. The presence of the main A 40 road, built through the parish in 1931 and 1932, has attracted some light industry to the south-west corner of the parish, notably at the junction with the Eynsham road; firms established there include the Evenlode Truck Centre (1951) and Smith's Ready Mix Concrete Ltd. In Cassington village is the headquarters of the building firm Cassington Builders and of Trinity Plant Hire.
In 1086 there were two mills on Wadard's manors. One, probably in Somerford, descended with one of the manors to the Clintons and the Montagus. It was repaired in 1198, and valued at 20s. in 1320 and at 13s. 4d. in 1354, (fn. 94) but it was not recorded thereafter.
The other mill descended with Wadard's other manor to Richard de Vernon, to William de Brai, and to William Bagot and so, c. 1245, to Peter Ashridge, but was excluded from Peter's sale to Godstow abbey, (fn. 95) having already been sold to the overlord, Edmund, earl of Cornwall. In the later 13th century the mill was maintained and the profits taken by the steward of the St. Valery manor in Yarnton, (fn. 96) but before 1291 Edmund gave the mill, a double one, to Rewley abbey. (fn. 97) At the Dissolution the mills passed to the Crown, which granted a 21-year lease of them in 1555. (fn. 98) Before 1611 the mills were acquired by Thomas Yate who sold them in that year to William Wise. In 1637 Hugh Wise died seised of the mills and was apparently succeeded by his son Stephen. (fn. 99) A miller, William Johnson, who died in 1675 seems to have been a tenant. (fn. 1) The miller, and presumably owner, in 1778 was John Patrick, and he or another man of the same name held the mill at inclosure in 1801. (fn. 2) The mill remained in the Patrick family until c. 1862 when it passed to George Homan, whose brother and heir William sold it in 1873 to Andrew Hedges, in whose family it remained until it ceased working in 1943. (fn. 3) The mill was rebuilt in the earlier 19th century and greatly enlarged by the Hedges family, the last extension being dated 1888. It was equipped with steam machinery to augment the water power. In 1962 the site was converted into a caravan park. (fn. 4)