A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2006.
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By the early 13th century until inclosure in 1814 Asthall parish contained four open fields, two south of Asthall village and two to the north-east (Fig. 18). In 1814 they totalled c. 1,120 a., about half the parish; 490 a. lay in the southern fields and 630 a. in the other two. (fn. 1) The former pair extended north—south across the Witney-Burford road to the parish boundary, and were divided by the road southwards from Asthall village. (fn. 2) In the early 13th century and c. 1810 they were called West and East field, (fn. 3) though the former was noted as Barrow field in 1602. (fn. 4) In 1814 they covered respectively c. 255 a. and c. 235 acres. (fn. 5) The north-eastern fields were apparently associated with Asthall Leigh by the early 13th century, (fn. 6) and lay respectively between Kitesbridge farm and Asthall Leigh village, and between Worsham mill and Standridge copse. (fn. 7) They were called Leigh and Mead field in 1627, (fn. 8) the former being renamed Wood field by 1644. (fn. 9) The names survived in 1798, (fn. 10) but in 1796 and c. 1810 the fields were designated North and South field. (fn. 11)
Part of their common boundary, demarcated by a hedge, probably followed the line of the former Akeman Street. (fn. 12) In 1814 they covered c. 275 a. and c. 355 acres. (fn. 13) Between 1627 and 1771 the Queen's College lands in Wood field were re-allotted from six to eight furlongs, most with new names, implying a reorganization of at least that field. (fn. 14) By 1796 each field had been subdivided into three areas variously called 'quarters' or fields, (fn. 15) probably to facilitate hitching. (fn. 16)
Most meadow lay in a continuous band along one or other side of the river Windrush, occupying c. 169 a. in 1814, about 7½ per cent of the ancient parish (fn. 17) and 32 a. more than the 137 a. recorded in 1086. (fn. 18) References to meadow belonging to Asthall Leigh in the 15th century suggest that a separate area was associated with each pair of fields. (fn. 19) Lot meadow was recorded in the 13th and 15th centuries, (fn. 20) but was only a small proportion of the total by 1757; (fn. 21) in the early 17th century it comprised only 3 a. out of c. 35 a. belonging to the Queen's College. (fn. 22) At least some meadow was then apparently commonable. (fn. 23) In 1304 customary yardlanders on Asthall manor each held 3 a. of meadow, (fn. 24) but in 1757 individuals held between 1 a. and 15 acres. (fn. 25) By 1799 at least 88 a. of tithable meadow had been inclosed, 46½ a. in Asthall and 41½ a. in Asthall Leigh (presumably east of Worsham mill). (fn. 26) An irrigated meadow controlled by floodgates, called 'Inmead' (presumably former demesne meadow), was mentioned in 1688, and lay probably below Asthall manor house. (fn. 27) Earthworks south-west of Worsham mill imply the existence of another irrigated meadow, (fn. 28) which in 1814 was also called 'In meadow', (fn. 29) indicating former demesne.
In 1279 and 1304 each demesne yardland may have contained 40 a., (fn. 30) and in the latter year a customary yardland contained 38 a. of arable and 3 a. of meadow. (fn. 31) Each yardland of arable belonging to the Peacock estate c. 1734 was reckoned as 40 acres. (fn. 32) In 1799 three customary acres were reckoned equivalent to two statute acres, (fn. 33) though in reality their area varied. (fn. 34)
In the early 19th century common pasture totalled probably about 176 a., almost 8 per cent of the parish. Around 21–26 a. were in Leigh Hale Plain in the northwest, west of Stockley copse; (fn. 35) another 35 a. south of the Plain, called 'the heath' before inclosure in 1814, (fn. 36) had presumably also been common pasture. The latter land was probably the surviving part of an area diminished by assarting: in the early 17th century adjacent land to the east, then apparently arable, was also referred to as the heath. (fn. 37) In the north-east of the parish, Field Assarts Green, Dicks Heath, and Dodds Plain, apparently the area described in 1609 as 'one great common or waste called Asthall Assart Green', (fn. 38) provided c. 120 a. of pasture in the early and mid 19th century. (fn. 39) Most of the pastures were commonable by cattle from other parishes with grazing rights in Wychwood Forest, (fn. 40) and until 1862, when grazing rights were extinguished by inclosure, (fn. 41) the Batemans were entitled to grow furze on Dicks Heath, (fn. 42) perhaps in succession to a furze coppice mentioned c. 1734. (fn. 43) Temporary pasture for Asthall animals was presumably available on the stubble and fallow until inclosure of the open fields in 1814, and there was periodic grazing in coppices until c. 1862. (fn. 44) Asthall's landholders also possessed pasture rights for horses and cattle in the coppices, open forest, and purlieus of the western part of Wychwood Forest (fn. 45) until disafforestation in 1857, when Asthall was awarded c. 109 a. north-west of Asthall Leigh in lieu as pasture for commonable cattle; (fn. 46) that land was inclosed in 1862. (fn. 47) In 1673 and 1796 the customary stint per yardland appears to have been 8 beasts and 40 sheep. (fn. 48)
In 1799 inclosed arable or pasture totalled 265 a., (fn. 49) about 12 per cent of the parish. Sixty-four acres associated with Asthall village comprised closes by the village itself and probably Stonelands (35 a.). (fn. 50) Closes associated with Asthall Leigh (261 a.) presumably included those east of Salter's Lane and the Minster Lovell road, (fn. 51) perhaps assarted when Asthall Leigh was established, together with closes at Field Assarts; (fn. 52) a few closes west of Asthall Leigh (fn. 53) may have been taken from Leigh field in the late Middle Ages. Small closes totalling c. 8 a. around Kitesbridge farm were presumably also medieval. (fn. 54)
In 1086 woodland measuring 13 by 10 furlongs was recorded, (fn. 55) which was reduced by small-scale assarting in the 12th century, (fn. 56) and presumably by the clearance of Field Assarts. (fn. 57) From at least the late 13th century areas of manorial woodland, ranging from 6 a. to 60 a., were enclosed for management as coppices. (fn. 58) In the early 19th century the parish's woodland consisted chiefly of five adjacent coppices in the north-east (fn. 59) covering c. 325 a., about 14 per cent of the parish: Baggs, Hicks, and Wisdoms coppices (209 a.), Lowbarrow (73 a.), and Standridge (43 a.) (see Fig. 18). (fn. 60) All except Standridge were in the purlieus of Wychwood Forest in 1609 and probably earlier until disafforestation in 1857. (fn. 61) Baggs, Hicks, and Wisdoms coppices occupied a woodland area which belonged to Asthall manor until 1563; at that date it consisted of two coppices called Ash and Durnewater, (fn. 62) which in 1598 were estimated at 190 acres. (fn. 63) They were apparently reorganised after a sale in 1605: (fn. 64) in 1609 the area consisted of three closes of 'woodland ground' reckoned at 208 acres. (fn. 65) The three new coppice names were first recorded during the 17th century. (fn. 66) Standridge was a separate wood probably by 1421, and was so called by 1448; (fn. 67) it was first mentioned as a coppice in 1637. (fn. 68) Lowbarrow was first recorded, as a coppice, in 1609. (fn. 69)
Sales of 400 and 200 oak trees from Hicks coppice and elsewhere were advertised in 1783 and 1784 respectively. (fn. 70) Timber was also available from closes and smaller woods: Queen's College sold trees from Elm Close (4 a.) in 1638, (fn. 71) and 100 trees probably from small woods in 1649. (fn. 72) In 1814 there were also five small woods, each less than 5 a., near Asthall Leigh. (fn. 73) Most woodland was apparently cleared after the 1862 inclosure: in 1884 only remnants of Wisdoms and Standridge coppices survived, together with the Grove, Short Hazel, and the Cleve. (fn. 74) New plantations of 1 or 2 a., totalling about 25 a. in all, were made in the 1990s around Asthall Leigh, partly for nesting of game birds. Species planted included hazel and oak. A 4-a. wood was also planned to mark the new millennium. (fn. 75)
The woodland recorded in 1086 belonged to Asthall manor. (fn. 76) By the late 15th century Standridge was part of the Harcourts' Asthall Leigh manor, with which it descended until the 20th century. (fn. 77) In 1563 the new lord of Asthall manor, John Andrews, sold Ash and Durnewater coppices to Simon Wisdom of Burford. (fn. 78) They were re-sold in 1593, perhaps by Wisdom's trustees or executors, to Edward Dodge (d. 1597) of London, Lechlade (Glos.), and Kent. (fn. 79) His nephew Robert Bathhurst of Lechlade sold the coppices to the lawyer Sir Edward Coke in 1605, (fn. 80) whose family apparently retained them (with nearby woods in Minster Lovell) in 1831. (fn. 81) Lowbarrow copse was owned in 1609 by Sir Rowland Lacy, (fn. 82) and in the early 18th century by Henry Hyde (d. 1753), 2nd earl of Rochester, who sold it before 1758 to either John Churchill (d. 1722), 1st duke of Marlborough, or Charles Spencer (d. 1758), the 3rd duke. (fn. 83) Around 1824 it was transferred to Francis Spencer, 1st Lord Churchill of Whichwood (d. 1886), (fn. 84) and the land was probably sold in 1897 by Victor Spencer, 3rd Lord Whichwood. (fn. 85)
In the 18th century coppices were managed on the 21-year cycle conventional in the private woods of Wychwood Forest, (fn. 86) with inclosure for seven years and common grazing for 14 years before cutting. (fn. 87) In 1771, however, Standridge copse was said to be cut after only two years' common, (fn. 88) despite being held on a 21-year lease (fn. 89) (customary since at least 1637). (fn. 90) Standridge was surrounded by a mound and hedge, (fn. 91) the south-eastern section of which was probably replaced by a wall in 1742. (fn. 92) The owner reserved the timber and the lopping, topping, and shredding of trees, (fn. 93) but at each cutting provided timber trees to maintain gates and stiles, two in 1637 and four from 1651 until 1777 and possibly later. (fn. 94)
In 1086 there was land for 15 ploughs. The lord's demesne contained 4 ploughteams worked by 5 servi, and 9 teams were held by 35 tenants (24 villani and 11 bordarii). The estate's value had recently increased from £11 to £12. (fn. 95) By 1279 grants of land had reduced Asthall manor's demesne to 2 ploughlands and manorial customary land to fewer than 4 ploughlands, comprising 13 villein yardlands, one half-yardland, and 5 cottager holdings each of 6 a. with a house. Yardlanders each owed 3s. 9d. a year, and services valued at 10s. 5½d.; cottagers owed 3s. 1d. and services valued at 4s. 2½d. (fn. 96) In 1304 the rents and services of the 13 yardlanders were similar, but those of 6 cottagers were worth 3s. 6d. each (total 21s.), and between them they also owed 24 cocks and hens worth 2s. in all. Bondmen were liable to tallage of 60s. a year. (fn. 97) In 1279 customary tenants were noted only at Asthall (i.e. there were none at Asthall Leigh). (fn. 98)
Freehold land in 1279 totalled 5½ ploughlands, almost half the total land, with individual holdings ranging from 3 a. to 2 ploughlands. (fn. 99) Eight freeholders held of Asthall manor, of whom Walter of Asthall and his two sons also held freehold land outside the manor; by 1304, however, there were apparently only 3 manorial freeholders. (fn. 100) Of the freeholds in 1279, 3½ ploughlands held of Asthall manor were probably at Asthall, including the large holdings of Walter of Asthall (2 ploughlands) and William Galard (5½ yardlands). Freeholds associated with Asthall Leigh totalled almost 2 ploughlands, of which fewer than 3 yardlands were held of Asthall manor. The remaining 5 yardlands or so belonged to Walter of Asthall or his sons John and Thomas, who let them to 7 tenants, mostly as yardlands, for rents ranging from 3s. to 13s. 3½d.
Total taxed wealth rose from c. £85 in 1306 to c. £116 in 1316, falling slightly to c. £112 in 1327. In 1316 and 1327 average personalty at Asthall (c. £4 3s.) was almost twice that at Asthall Leigh, and a higher proportion of Asthall taxpayers was assessed for above average amounts. The wealthiest, Joan of Cornwall and Robert of Asthall, paid on £19 4s. each; the wealthiest at Asthall Leigh, Hugh of Standlake, paid on £10 2s. 8d., (fn. 101) though he had greater wealth elsewhere and was almost certainly non-resident. (fn. 102)
By the 16th century the parish was dominated by a few prominent farmers and landholders. Out of 15 taxpayers in Asthall and Asthall Leigh who paid a total of £2 16s. 8d. to the subsidy of 1523, William Sampson contributed almost half (26s. 7d.), the next wealthiest paying 12s. and the rest (including 4 servants who paid 4d. each) less than 4s. (fn. 103) Sampson remained the wealthiest at his death in 1544, leaving livestock in several parishes. (fn. 104) His position was filled by John Andrews (d. 1589), apparently a newcomer, (fn. 105) who bought Asthall manor in 1562 (fn. 106) and was lessee of the Harcourt manor of Asthall Leigh. (fn. 107) In 1581 he was taxed on land valued at £10, (fn. 108) much of which he probably farmed directly; (fn. 109) 11 others paid on land or goods valued at between £1 and £7. (fn. 110) Other wealthy yeomen included members of the Cockerell family, of whom William (d. 1600) and Henry (d. 1602) were tenants of the More manor of Asthall Leigh; (fn. 111) their successor Thomas Kenyon (d. 1616) also leased Kitesbridge farm and left goods worth some £831. (fn. 112) By contrast, most testators in Asthall parish between 1600 and 1640 bequeathed goods valued at under £25. (fn. 113)
From 1616 to 1673 the principal members of the gentry family of Jones were presumably the wealthiest inhabitants, (fn. 114) with probably a home farm centred on Asthall manor house (fn. 115) and, from 1618 to 1690, additional land at Asthall Leigh held of the Queen's College. (fn. 116) A few moderately prosperous farmers included William Hichman, a tenant of 2¼ yardlands held of Asthall manor, with possessions in 1636 worth c. £118 including farming and malting equipment, 7 pigs, and 59 sheep, (fn. 117) while William Bradley (d. 1694) of Kitesbridge had goods worth c. £337 including corn and peas (worth £110), 23 cows, 209 sheep, and 13 pigs. (fn. 118) Most testators had less, and in 1662 the majority of inhabitants in both Asthall and Asthall Leigh were taxed on only 1 or 2 hearths or were exonerated; only 7 paid on 3 or more hearths in Asthall, and 4 in Asthall Leigh. (fn. 119) Similarly on Asthall manor in 1673 only 8 out of 30 leaseholders held a yardland or more, and 15 held 10 a. or fewer. (fn. 120)
From 1607 or earlier customary holdings on Asthall manor were leased for three lives or 99 years, presumably replacing copyholds. By 1673 all tenancies on the manor were apparently leaseholds, held mostly for customary rents of between 2s. and £1 6s. 8d., though Stonelands (60 customary acres) was let for £5. Eight tenants still owed heriots. (fn. 121) The Queen's College's Asthall Leigh manor (without Standridge copse) was let usually for three lives as a single estate from 1599 until c. 1883, part of the rent payable in wheat and malt under the Corn Rent Act of 1576. (fn. 122) The More manor was probably let as a single farm in the late 16th and early 17th century, (fn. 123) though a copyhold attached to the manor was recorded in the late 18th century. (fn. 124)
Medieval farming was presumably mixed, as later, perhaps with an emphasis on arable: in 1194–5 stock purchased for the demesne comprised 24 oxen, 2 horses, and 2 cows, (fn. 125) and in the late 13th century wheat, malt, and oats were prominent among demesne produce sold on the market. (fn. 126) Peas were mentioned in 1406. (fn. 127) In the 16th and 17th centuries barley was the chief crop, (fn. 128) and malting was widely undertaken: many testators left malt mills and other equipment, (fn. 129) and a malting chamber was mentioned in 1688. (fn. 130) Wheat, rye, and oats were also grown, (fn. 131) as well as pulses including some peas. (fn. 132) Most testators left sheep, many owned cattle, oxen, and pigs, (fn. 133) and a few left bees. (fn. 134) Some testators left cheeses and cheese presses, (fn. 135) and a mustard mill was mentioned in 1634. (fn. 136) Sainfoin was introduced at Stonelands before 1687. (fn. 137)
Probably during the 18th century all but two leaseholds of Asthall manor were taken into the lord's hands, so that in 1810 c. 279 a. out of c. 330 a. were held by one man as tenant at will, with probably Kitesbridge Farm as the homestead. (fn. 138) In 1785 (fn. 139) the principal farmers were the three tenants of, respectively, the Grandison (Asthall manor house) estate, Asthall manor, and the Queen's College estate, headed by Elizabeth Bateman whose holdings were probably centred on Asthall manor house. (fn. 140) Next came two holdings based on large freeholds, the first including c. 130 a. attached to a farmstead north-east of Asthall village (called Asthall Farm in 1999), (fn. 141) and the other, the Adams estate, including c. 180 a. attached to the later College Farm at Asthall Leigh. (fn. 142) Excepting the major copses, five other holdings were probably 33 a. or larger, (fn. 143) and eight were smaller. The chief development before inclosure was Robert Bateman's accumulation of freehold land in 1807–10, (fn. 144) and his acquisition of the lease of the Queen's College estate in 1812. (fn. 145)
Inclosure of the open fields and remaining open meadow, under an Act of 1812, (fn. 146) was largely complete by December 1814. (fn. 147) Eton College received c. 360 a. for tithes, making it the largest landowner; its land was consolidated in the former East field and north-east of Worsham mill, and was leased as farms of c. 142 a. (in Asthall) and c. 218 a. (in Asthall Leigh), the latter divided in 1821. (fn. 148) Robert Bateman received c. 353 a. mainly in West field, Lord Redesdale received c. 282 a. north and east of Kitesbridge farm, and Queen's College received c. 167 a. (excluding Standridge copse), located around Asthall Leigh village. Other large freeholds were those of Richard Howse, deceased (c. 90 a., later Tocques farm), John Leake (c. 78 a.), Edward and Frances Towerzey (c. 71 a.), and John Bishop (52 a.), and there were two freeholds of c. 30 a. and twelve of between 1 and 29 acres. Around ¾ a. near Asthall village and ½ a. near Asthall Leigh, together with a garden and cottage at Asthall Leigh, were allotted to the churchwardens and overseers in lieu of furze-cutting rights in the open fields. By 1824 those lands, known as the Poor's Allotments, were divided into 21 gardens, (fn. 149) most of which remained charity allotments in the early 21st century. (fn. 150)
Until the 1870s the Batemans, based at Asthall Manor, were the principal farmers: Robert Bateman managed at least 660 a. including Eton College's farm at Asthall, (fn. 151) and his sons Charles and Henry held another Eton College farm at Asthall Leigh from 1838. (fn. 152) In 1861 Charles farmed 395 a., and Henry 398 a. with 100 a. of woodland and waste. (fn. 153) Both were commended as high-class farmers. (fn. 154) Three other farms in 1861 contained between 80 and 200 a., and Kitesbridge Farm was 320 acres. (fn. 155) By 1881 George Timms (d. 1907) of Kitesbridge Farm had amassed 1,100 a. as freeholder and leaseholder, and Arthur Bateman, a brewer and farmer, farmed 485 acres. (fn. 156) The parish's chief farmers apparently survived the depression of the 1880s and 1890s, (fn. 157) aided by substantial rent reductions: the Queen's College lowered its rent between 1883 and 1895 by almost 50 per cent, (fn. 158) and in 1899 Eton let its Asthall farm for less than half the estimated rental value in 1876. (fn. 159)
Farmers pursued predominantly arable-based mixed farming throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1826 all three Eton College farms were chiefly arable, (fn. 160) while in 1914 arable accounted for 60–70 per cent of the parish's cultivated area, relatively high for Oxfordshire. (fn. 161) In 1826 turnips, sainfoin, wheat, oats, and barley were grown on one Eton farm in Asthall Leigh, (fn. 162) implying a 5-course rotation similar to that reported in 1917 (wheat, oats, clover, barley, roots). (fn. 163) In 1914 barley occupied 21–24 per cent of the cultivated area, wheat 15–18 per cent, and swedes and turnips 11–13 per cent. Between 30 and 40 per cent of the cultivated area was permanent pasture, sheep and pigs being kept in relatively large numbers, though the number of cattle was relatively low. (fn. 164) Before 1917 several fields in Asthall Leigh were converted to permanent pasture, though the land did 'not take kindly to grass'. (fn. 165)
From the 1920s there were four main farms, three of which became owner-occupied. (fn. 166) Manor or Asthall farm (c. 250 a.) was bought by the occupier in 1927, and was combined with Tocques farm (127 a.) in 1928 and with Eton College land (142 a.) from c. 1939. College farm, comprising former Queen's and Eton College lands, was increased from 500 a. in 1920 to 553 a. by 1960 (fn. 167) and became owner-occupied in the early 1970s. It was further expanded to c. 750 a. by 1999. Dodd's farm, south-east of Field Assarts, a tenanted farm of 132 a. in 1913, (fn. 168) was bought by the lessee in the 1960s, when it was farmed with land outside the parish. Kitesbridge farm remained leasehold and from 1948 was run from Swinbrook.
Both arable and pastoral farming were practised until the later 20th century when there was a shift towards arable. In 1929 College farm included 340 a. of pasture and 134 a. of arable, and accommodated 49 cows. (fn. 169) In the 1930s there was also a small dairy farm at Asthall Leigh and the parish contained two poultry farms, one of them at Field Assarts. (fn. 170) Beef cattle grazed on College and Kitesbridge farms until the early 1970s and early 1980s, and dairy herds were retained on College and Asthall farms until the early 1970s and 1997. (fn. 171) Milk produced on Asthall farm was used for butter-making until the mid 1930s, when it was exported for bottling following the introduction of the Milk Marketing Board. Wheat replaced barley as the principal corn crop on Kitesbridge and College farms in the early 1980s, as part of a new six-course rotation of oil-seed rape, two courses of wheat, peas or beans, wheat, and barley; a similar rotation was adopted on Asthall farm from the late 1990s, though the farm remained partly pastoral with beef cattle and 300 breeding ewes. After the extension of the European Community's set-aside scheme in 1992, pheasants, partridges, and other game birds were reared on College farm and commercial shoots were held. (fn. 172)
Trade and Industry
By-names in the 13th and early 14th century included Miller, Smith, Tailor (Souter), Baker, Potter, and Fuller. (fn. 173) Thereafter only millers and two tailors (fn. 174) were recorded until the later 17th and earlier 18th century, when there were a baker, blacksmith, two tailors, and a weaver in Asthall, (fn. 175) and a carpenter, maltster, and weaver in Asthall Leigh. (fn. 176) A malthouse in Asthall Leigh was mentioned in 1716 and again in 1772. (fn. 177) During the 18th century only a few blacksmiths, (fn. 178) victuallers, (fn. 179) a maltster, (fn. 180) and a linen weaver (fn. 181) were noted, and in the early 19th century 5–7 families were supported by non-agricultural occupations. (fn. 182) From c. 1830 a mop and blanket manufactory at Worsham employed weavers, spinners, and other textile workers, some of whom lived in the parish, and from c. 1841 women at Field Assarts and later at Asthall Leigh and Fordwells worked as domestic gloveresses or as dress-makers and seamstresses. (fn. 183) In 1881 there were 32 gloveresses in the parish and at Fordwells. (fn. 184) A shopkeeper was recorded at Asthall Leigh and another at Asthall from 1853 to 1895 and to 1915 respectively. (fn. 185) Other tradesmen in the mid 19th century included shoemakers and masons, and in 1861 there were five carters and two woodmen, presumably engaged on clearance of woodland and waste. (fn. 186) A cooper was noted at Stonelands in the 1860s, and a stonemason and blacksmith at Fordwells and a limeburner at Field Assarts until the 1920s or 1930s. (fn. 187)
A quarry on Asthall manor was recorded in the late 14th century, (fn. 188) and in 1409–10 a thousand stone slates were acquired from Asthall for the lodge at Witney park. (fn. 189) Around 1734 there were several quarries on the Manor House freehold estate. (fn. 190) The parish highway surveyors sold an exhausted quarry in 1853, (fn. 191) and two old quarries at Stonelands were recorded in 1881. (fn. 192)
By 1926 Asthall Barrow quarry, about 800 m. west of the barrow, and Worsham quarry, west of the turning from the Witney—Burford road to Worsham mill, were being worked on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council. (fn. 193) The latter remained in production under Eton College ownership until 1964, (fn. 194) and in 1999 produced crushed stone for building. A quarry on Worsham Lane served in the early 1940s as the main source for crushed stone for the new runways at Brize Norton airbase. At Stonelands quarrying expanded from the late 1950s with the introduction of machinery for producing crushed limestone for agriculture. By 1999 agricultural limestone accounted for 20–30 per cent of output, the rest being sold for reconstitution as Cotswold stone blocks. (fn. 195)
Mills and Fisheries
Two mills belonged to Asthall manor in 1086, (fn. 196) and were probably on the sites of Asthall mill and Worsham mill. Between 1205 and 1219 the latter was granted by Thomas of St Valery to Biddlesden abbey, (fn. 197) which may have built more mills at the site: in 1272 it sold several with its Asthall Leigh lands, (fn. 198) and in 1279 two-thirds of three mills belonged to John and Thomas of Asthall. (fn. 199)
Another mill, probably Asthall mill, then belonged to Walter of Asthall's freehold. (fn. 200) In 1331 Master Robert of Stratford conveyed probably Asthall mill and two parts of two other mills, (fn. 201) which descended to members of the More family. (fn. 202)
Asthall mill may have been reunited after 1564 with Asthall manor, which certainly included a mill by 1612. (fn. 203) In 1665 it was described as 'new', (fn. 204) presumably rebuilt. It was possibly among manorial lands sold in 1687 or 1688 to Robert Harris of Minster Lovell, (fn. 205) though in 1693 it was apparently referred to as Jonathan Harris's mill. (fn. 206) Later owners included Giles Harris (d. 1758) in 1752, (fn. 207) John Mulcock in 1785, Richard Harris in 1805, and members of the Bishop family in 1813 and 1830. (fn. 208) Standing immediately east of Asthall bridge on the southern branch of the Windrush in 1767 and still in 1824, (fn. 209) the mill adjoined a house in 1809 and later. (fn. 210) In 1852 its mechanism drove two pairs of stones. (fn. 211) The mill ceased to operate probably by 1861, (fn. 212) and by c. 1890 the building was derelict, though the wheel survived nearby until at least the 1940s. (fn. 213)
Worsham mill remained part of the More manor of Asthall Leigh until 1725 or later. (fn. 214) In 1767, and probably earlier, it stood on a leet across a shallow loop in the Windrush. (fn. 215) In 1785 it belonged to Asthall manor, (fn. 216) with which it descended until 1810 when it was allotted to Diana Gorges. (fn. 217) She sold the premises in 1815, and in 1819 they were bought by Robert Collier, a blanketmanufacturer of Witney and Crawley, (fn. 218) who probably around 1830 built a blanket and mop factory (fn. 219) comprising a stock house, fulling mill, and spinning sheds together with a corn mill. The mills were said to be the most powerful on the Windrush. Collier was bankrupted in 1833 (fn. 220) and the factory apparently passed to mortgagors, one of whom sold it to a group of new owners in 1847. (fn. 221) They leased the premises from 1851 to the Witney blanket manufacturer Richard Early the younger (d. 1874), (fn. 222) who bought them in 1864. (fn. 223) They passed to his (imbecile) son Arthur Richard Early, whose representative leased them in 1877 to Henry Early of Witney, Richard's younger brother. (fn. 224) In the mid 1890s bicycles were also manufactured on the premises. (fn. 225)
Pritchett and Webley of Witney bought the factory and land in 1896, replaced the waterwheel with a water turbine, and in 1902 added a new block. (fn. 226) About then there were 50 looms, 15 in the main building and 35 probably in the new shed. During this period additional power was supplied by a traction engine and later a gas engine. Many workers came from Minster Lovell. By 1913 the company had failed and Worsham was owned by George Howitt, previously the owner of a partinterest in the factory which his father-in-law, Edward Cadbury of Bourneville (formerly Warws.), had acquired in 1903. The factory was soon purchased by Norman Minty, who made tents there during the First World War and afterwards attempted to revive blanket-making as the Worsham Blanket Company. In 1924 Marriott and Sons of Witney bought the factory and made improvements, introducing electric power in 1947. (fn. 227) They merged in 1960 to form Charles Early and Marriott (Witney) Ltd, which closed Worsham in 1965. After a brief occupation by a motor cycle company, the Worsham factory was bought about 1970 by Johnstone Safety Products (later JSP Ltd), which used it for the manufacture of protective clothing and, from the 1980s, injection-moulded plastic products such as hard hats. (fn. 228)
Two ranges of Worsham mill, orientated north-east to south-west, date from the redevelopment of c. 1830: a central range over the Windrush, and an adjoining narrower, lower range to the south-west. Both are of three storeys and six bays, with segmental brick heads to the windows and a timber internal structure. The south-west range was probably the stock house (warehouse), as it retains former hatch openings now converted into windows. The central range has remains of drive shafts for the machinery and on the north-west side a wheel pit with three arches, perhaps evidence that there were once three wheels. A cast-iron bridge south-east of the main range is possibly contemporaneous. A two-storeyed range adjoining the main range to the north-east is of 1902 and has an open-truss roof on cast-iron columns. In 1881 there was also a freestanding block south-east of the factory, (fn. 229) and soon afterwards a gatehouse and a pair of cottages were built. The free-standing block was replaced in the late 20th century, and Johnstone's put up other buildings.
A stone windmill at Stonelands was described as 'new' in 1781. It was depicted on a map in 1797, but not recorded thereafter. (fn. 230)
Asthall manor included a fishery in the late 13th century, (fn. 231) worth 1 mark in 1279 and 10s. in 1304. (fn. 232) In 1370 it was claimed that the fishery extended downstream from Swinbrook to a bridge. (fn. 233) This was probably Worsham bridge, because in 1279 fishing rights east of Worsham were shared between the lords of Asthall and Minster Lovell. (fn. 234) Fishing rights were sold with the manor in 1688 and 1810, (fn. 235) but in 1926 were retained by Lord Redesdale. (fn. 236) Fisheries or fishing rights were claimed for the Harcourts' Asthall Leigh manor in 1587 and 1598, (fn. 237) for the former More manor in 1725, (fn. 238) and for the Grandisons' Asthall estate in 1791. (fn. 239) Fishing rights were sold with College farm in 1929. (fn. 240)