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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Manasser Arsic's gift to Fécamp abbey, confirmed in 1103, included Cogges church with its land; (fn. 15) architectural evidence suggests that the church existed by the third quarter of the 11th century. It probably began as a chapel within Eynsham minster parish, for in 1238 Eynsham abbey was receiving, 'from of old', the yearly crop of four demesne acres at Cogges in return for permitting burial there; (fn. 16) since the render, worth 6s. 8d. in 1270, came from the demesne rather than from the priory lands, the concession was presumably negotiated before 1103.
The church was closely associated with the adjoining priory, which may have shared it with the villagers; it was never formally appropriated, but simply remained in the hands of the monks and their successors, the provost and fellows of Eton. (fn. 17) The early priests seem to have been merely chaplains appointed, after 1103, by the priors; a vicarage endowed in the 1220s lapsed. Eton College later appointed chaplains, sometimes called perpetual vicars and perpetual curates, but there was no endowment until 1695, following which the benefice became more clearly defined as a perpetual curacy; from the later 19th century the incumbents were often called vicars, but nominations to the perpetual curacy continued. (fn. 18) In 1856 the bishop collated by lapse, but after consulting Eton College. (fn. 19) About 1884 Eton conveyed the advowson to the incumbent James Payne, who presented his cousin, J. U. Payne, to whom he then gave the advowson. In 1909 it was conveyed to special trustees, who retained it in 1988. (fn. 20)
The church was valued c1225 at £5, (fn. 21) and at £8 in 1291. (fn. 22) Its income came partly from glebe, not distinguished in practice from the priory manor, and partly from tithe. The tithes and oblations were valued at £12 13s. 4d. in 1387, (fn. 23) and at only £3 16s. 8d. in 1429, when they were farmed out among three tenants. (fn. 24) They were mostly collected in kind until inclosure, but in 1581 it was asserted that tithes from the rectory pasture called Flemingfield had been commuted to a modus of 3s. or 3s. 4d. (fn. 25)
Henry, chaplain of Cogges, witnessed an agreement in 1220. (fn. 26) Shortly afterwards Benedict of St. Edmund, chaplain, was instituted as perpetual vicar at the prior's presentation. He was to have the rents of 4 cottars, altar dues, small tithes, and the tithe of sheaves from 3 villein hides; the vicarage was to be worth £3 4s. (fn. 27) When the next vicar, Herbert de Findon, was instituted in 1232-3, the bishop augmented his living with a house, 10 a. of arable, and 2 a. in the priory meadow. He was to serve in person, find a suitable clerk and altar lights, and pay synodals; other costs were to be borne by the prior, and the vicarage was to be worth £3 6s. 8d. (fn. 28) Vicars were presented until 1260-1, (fn. 29) but thereafter the vicarage seems to have lapsed and until 1402 only the institutions of new priors presented by the abbot of Fécamp were recorded. (fn. 30) In 1303 the bishop rejected a presentation jointly to the priory and church, but later presentations were sometimes in that form. (fn. 31)
In 1441 Cogges church passed with the priory manor to Eton College. Like the monks before them, Eton's tenants in the priory supported the parochial chaplain only informally. (fn. 32) The first lease, in 1457, made the tenant responsible for presenting a chaplain and finding bread, wine, and wax for his use; if the bishop forced the college to endow a vicarage the tenancy was to be renegotiated. (fn. 33) There may have been an attempt to create a vicarage in the early 16th century, since the curate c. 1520 was said to have formerly been vicar. (fn. 34) In 1526 the college, as impropriator, was paying the cuarte £5 6s. 8s. (fn. 35)
In 1636 the curate, James Parkinson, complained to Archbishop Laud that the vicarage should be worth £200 a year or more, but had been suppressed. Many curates had been provided only with a house and £10 a year, but Parkinson had not been given a house. Laud ordered Eton's tenant to pay an additional £8 a year to the curate. (fn. 36) Parishioners in the late 17th century denied that there was a parsonage or a vicarage, (fn. 37) but priory tenants seem thenceforth to have paid the curate a stipend of £20. (fn. 38) William Blake (d. 1695) left £10 a year to be paid by the owners of Cogges manor house to a minister, who should catechize the children of Cogges and Newland schools every Sunday in Lent and on Lady Day and have 15s. a year from Blake's estate in Alvescot if he preached a New Year sermon. (fn. 39) In 1792 the benefice was augmented by £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 40) In 1812 the provost and fellows increased the curate's stipend by £15; the Bounty Office granted £200 to meet the benefaction, and in 1817 gave a further augmentation of £200. (fn. 41) The gross annual value of the benefice was c. £57 in 1827, and c. £70 in 1851. (fn. 42)
In 1895 at Bishop Wilberforce's request the College made over to the benefice the priory farmhouse and curtilage (5 a.), and £50 was received towards the cost of conversion. (fn. 43) By 1870 the income of the living was £139, made up of £35 from tithe rent-charges, £32 from the newly acquired glebe, £19 10s. from the Bounty, £6 16s. from the Ecclesiastical Commission, £10 15s. from William Blake's will, £12 15s. from the sustentation fund, 10s. from surplice fees, and £20 from Eton. (fn. 44) Its value continued to increase; there were 8 ½ a. glebe in 1887, and 18 a. by 1903. (fn. 45)
In 1232-3 the prior was ordered to build for the vicar an adequate house on land between the prior's orchard and the lord of Cogges's fishpond. (fn. 46) From the 15th century, the chaplain usually lived in a chamber in the former priory. From 1457 leases repeatedly reserved a chamber with a little yard adjoining it for the chaplain, (fn. 47) and in 1658 there was a chamber in the priory house called the priest's chamber. (fn. 48) In 1759 the curate lived mostly at Christ Church, Oxford, having only one small room allotted to him in the priory or 'parsonage house' at Cogges, (fn. 49) and the arrangement persisted until the whole house was acquired in 1859. The priest's chamber, identified within the building in 1981, apparently comprised two small ground-floor rooms to which two upper chambers had been added. (fn. 50)
About 1520 it was found that the altar ornaments had been burnt. (fn. 51) In 1547 there were no incumbent, plate, or ornaments, and the only endowment was 1 ½ a. worth 1s. a year given to maintain a light. (fn. 52) The land was granted by the Crown in 1549 to Richard Maynard and John Venables. (fn. 53)
The curate in 1526 was Master John Ward or Clark, (fn. 54) who asked in his will of 1545 to be buried in Cogges churchyard, with five masses on the day of his burial. He left 1 yardland and 14 a. in Witney, and his will included small bequests to the church. (fn. 55) Andrew Partington, probably curate in 1558 and 1560 when he witnessed Cogges wills, was also vicar of Ast- hall. (fn. 56) Late 16th-century curates of Cogges seem to have been unlicensed and transitory. James Parkinson, curate by 1636, and also curate of South Leigh by 1663, remained until his death in 1666; he was not immediately replaced, and the church was served informally for several years by Dr. Francis Gregory, schoolmaster at Witney, and others. (fn. 57) Many of the 18th- and 19th-century incumbents were non-resident and few were of a high standard. (fn. 58) In 1759 there were two services and one sermon on Sundays, and the children were catechized. (fn. 59) George Seele, perpetual curate c. 1762-1810, was non- resident, master of Witney grammar school, vicar of North Leigh, and perpetual curate of Hailey. (fn. 60) His assistant curate, Charles Hoskins, seems to have introduced additional services at Christmas, Good Friday, and New Year's day, but the number of communicants was only about ten. Children were catechized in accordance with William Blake's will, but Hoskins complained of poor attendance despite small payments to those who came. (fn. 61) The number of communicants rose to c. 16 by 1774, when Seele was serving Cogges himself, and to c. 20 by 1796, when there was a non-resident assistant curate; many parishioners were then attending other churches nearer than that at Cogges. (fn. 62) In 1802, when Seele was too old and sick to serve, there was only one Sunday service, and the number of communicants had fallen to ten. (fn. 63)
Thomas Andrews, incumbent 1810-56, never resided, claiming that there was no house and the living was too poor. (fn. 64) Cogges was served by curates, usually from Witney. (fn. 65) In 1811 there was only one Sunday service, and the number of communicants had fallen to six. (fn. 66) By 1834 Cogges was being served by Henry Gregory, master at Witney grammar school; communion had been increased from three to four times yearly and the number of communicants was between 20 and 25, while church attendance was between 200 and 300. (fn. 67) Gregory was still serving the church in 1851, when 120 attended on Census Sunday. (fn. 68) In 1855 Bishop Wilberforce wrote to Andrews, then old and nearly imbecile, requiring him to hold two services each Sunday. (fn. 69)
After Andrews's death standards rose sharply, partly because of the provision of a house and improved income. Henry Nourse, 1862-70, was curate of Standlake and 'very well spoken of'; (fn. 70) he had congregations of 200, and there were c. 16 communicants. Communions were increased to once a month and at all great festivals; there were two services every Sunday, with a sermon at each. (fn. 71) Although James Payne, vicar 1873-84, was non-resident during his last years, his curate maintained the frequency of the services, and the number of communicants rose to 61. (fn. 72) James Undy Payne, incumbent 1884-1914, was a vigorous campaigner against Disestablishment. (fn. 73) He ran two weekly Bible classes, one for men and one for women, and there was a regular Sunday school; in 1893 he founded a lending library. He held special services throughout Lent, and seems to have turned Ascension Day into a special festival at Cogges in which the children went out after church to gather flowers to send to the Radcliffe Infirmary. He worked hard for the village school and started a coal club; in 1894, however, there were only 25 regular communicants. (fn. 74) Later incumbents resided, and several served the church for long periods, amongst them William Hudgell, 1914- 32, and E. Ramsay Spence, 1932-51. (fn. 75)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN (fn. 76) comprises a chancel, a north chapel, a clerestoried nave with aisles and south porch, and a north-west corner tower. The nave was originally aisleless; it has high, thin walls with large quoins on the west corners, and may be preConquest. The south aisle, added in the late 12th century, retains a column with a scalloped capital. In the mid 13th century the chancel was rebuilt on spacious lines, with a crypt under its east end; the jambs of the east window retain a pair of shafts with stiff-leaf capitals, but the existing tracery is 14th-century. Also in the 13th century the arches of the south arcade were rebuilt, and the south porch added.
The lavish north chapel, added c. 1340, was probably built by John, Lord Grey (d. 1359) for the tomb of his mother Lady Margaret (probably d. 1330). (fn. 77) It has a two-bay arcade towards the chancel, elaborate late Decorated window tracery, and a frieze of carved grotesques around the inner walls; the tomb, with a 14th-century effigy of a lady, symbols of the Evangelists, and shields in quatrefoils lies under the chapel arcade. (fn. 78) The north aisle and tower were added c.. 1350 in a style imitating the chapel, probably by the monks of Fécamp. (fn. 79) The aisle may originally have been divided from the nave by a timber screen under the arcade. The polygonal tower at the north-west corner has an appearance characteristic of Normandy churches.
The large west window was added in the late 15th century, possibly by Bishop William Waynflete, who was provost of Eton and whose arms were formerly in stained glass in the church. (fn. 80) The clerestory and the parapets of the nave and aisles are also 15th-century. The chancel roof is 14th- or 15th-century, and the roofs of the nave, aisles, and north chapel are all of the usual low-pitched late medieval type. The south wall of the chancel was completely rebuilt in the late 15th or early 16th century, including two windows with cusped lights. The chancel may have been damaged by fire shortly before 1520, when it was said that the altar ornaments had been burnt and the roof of the nave was weak; (fn. 81) in 1524 the obligation to maintain the chancel was imposed for the first time on the lessee of the priory. (fn. 82) The church was damaged during the Civil War, (fn. 83) and in 1677 Blake's aisle, probably the north chapel, was paved and repaired by William Blake. (fn. 84)
The plain tub-shaped font is probably 12th century, on a late medieval polygonal base. The windows of the north chapel, formerly containing an elaborate scheme of heraldic stained glass to display the family connexions of the de Greys, were destroyed during the Civil War; some other 14th-century fragments in the tracery lights were restored in 1972. (fn. 85) The east window of the chancel, renewed in the 14th century, also contained glass with de Grey heraldry. (fn. 86) The church once contained another heraldic window bearing the name of William Hamon, prior of Cogges from 1341 until 1366 or later. (fn. 87) Two timber screens commemorate Winifred Fairburn, organist (d. 1947), and Joseph and Elizabeth Mawle of Manor Farm. The choir stalls were fitted in 1941 in memory of Lucy Mabel Spence; in 1967 the chancel was repaved with flagstones from nearby derelict cottages and with broken tombstones from the churchyard. (fn. 88)
In the north chapel a large monument with three marble busts commemorates William Blake (d. 1695), his wife Sarah (d. 1701), and their eldest son Francis (d. 1681); elaborate tablets in the chancel and north aisle commemorate Richard Crutchfield (d. 1619) and his family, and Henry White (d. 1677), a member of a long-established village family who returned after many travels. (fn. 89)
The plate includes a chalice and paten cover dated 1628, given by Sir Thomas Peniston, who had married Elizabeth, relict of Sir William Pope. (fn. 90) There is a treble bell dated 1626, a tenor dated 1757, and a saunce of c.. 1760. (fn. 91) The churchyard was extended to the south and east in 1866, 1910, 1936, and 1972. (fn. 92)
In 1304 Sir John de Grey (d. 1311) received permission to have mass celebrated for his family in an oratory in his house at Cogges. (fn. 93)