A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5, Bullingdon Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1957.
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The modern civil parish of Forest Hill with Shotover (2,127a.) (fn. 1) was formed in 1881 when the ancient parish of Forest Hill was linked with Shotover, formerly extra-parochial. (fn. 2) The boundaries of Forest Hill had already been altered in 1878, (fn. 3) when the parish received the 'King's Arms', five cottages, and the blacksmith's shop from Cuddesdon. (fn. 4) In 1885 a further change was apparently made in the boundaries, (fn. 5) and in 1949 the parish gained Vent Farm and Minchincourt Farm, both on the north side of the village street, together with their lands, from Holton and Stanton parishes respectively. (fn. 6) The history of these parts of the modern parish is dealt with here, since they always seem to have formed an integral part of the village. (fn. 7)
The small size of the ancient parish—in 1831 it was estimated at only 650 acres (fn. 8)—and the fact that a part of Minchincourt, with other lands belonging to the manor, (fn. 9) had always extended beyond the parish boundaries, make it almost certain that the parish was cut out of the earlier parishes of Stanton St. John and Cuddesdon. (fn. 10) It was roughly triangular in shape, with its base partly on the Oxford-London road, which was constructed in the 18th century, and partly on a line to the south of it. Its northernmost point reached to within half a mile of the village of Stanton St. John. Part of the north-west boundary was formed by the Bayswater Brook, which rose at the eastern end of the parish and roughly divided it as it flowed west. The road from Stanton St. John to Wheatley Bridge formed its eastern side: (fn. 11) this was the old 'London Way', which was once a gated road, for there is a 16th-century record of 'an honest poor olde man' who lived by opening the gate and 'asking a penny for God's sake'. (fn. 12)
The parish is part of the great plateau to the east of Oxford which is composed of Lower Greensand and Corallian beds with a top layer of sand: the soil is consequently, as Arthur Young noted, for the most part 'light and brashy'. (fn. 13) At Sandhills at the west end of the parish the ground is nearly 350 ft. above sealevel, but at Red Hill on the east side it rises to 438 ft.
The parish was well wooded. A coppice (grava) of two furlongs by one is mentioned in Domesday, but this was not necessarily all the wood, as part of Forest Hill was described under Stanton St. John. (fn. 14) In the Middle Ages the Prioress of Studley had a demesne wood called 'Hynhale' and another called Woodman's Hill, which lay in the south-east corner of the parish and was for a period in Shotover forest. (fn. 15) By the early 17th century the latter had become part of the village common. (fn. 16) Farther to the west lay Abbotswood—perhaps the 'grove' lying on either side of the way to Oxford which the Abbot of Oseney was allowed to inclose in 1263. It was still wooded in 1502 when a tenant was presented for damaging several oaks in the wood, (fn. 17) but by the mid-17th century, if not earlier, it had become an inclosed pasture of 28 acres. (fn. 18) During the Civil War much timber was felled here as elsewhere in the county. In 1646 the timber of Richard Powell, lord of the manor, was valued at £400, that is a fifth of the value of all his furniture and chattels, crops and stock. (fn. 19) Parliament granted £300 worth of it to the people of Banbury to build their church and market house. (fn. 20) Though the woods were cut down, much fine timber in the hedges and fields remained. Elms and ashes were plentiful in the hedges in 1661; (fn. 21) timber was described as abundant in 1718; (fn. 22) in 1723–4 over £86 worth of timber was sold from the common. (fn. 23)
The mill, dating mainly from the 18th century, lies in the west end of the parish on the Bayswater Brook, not far from the bridge. It is a tall two-story block built of rubble, with a roof of old tiles. The upper part has three mullioned and transomed fourlight windows. There is a hoist door. The first record of a mill is in two grants to Oseney Abbey, between 1221 and 1229, of land near a watercourse on which to build a mill. (fn. 24) This was doubtless land near Bayswater Brook, the site of the later mill. The mill was probably in existence in 1279, (fn. 25) and in 1331 the miller was presented for taking toll beyond the assize. (fn. 26) Before the Dissolution, the mill site was being leased out by Oseney Abbey during pleasure, for a rent of 3s. 4d. (fn. 27) Some of the later tenants of the mill are known: John Goodgame in 1670, who paid a rent of £14 for mill and 'grounds', (fn. 28) and Richard Hayes, who leased the 'overshute water corn mill' in 1718. (fn. 29) John Hawkes, a noted churchwarden, leased the mill and probably rebuilt it. It has a stone marked 'I.H. 1726'. (fn. 30) From 1762 to 1790 the mill was held by Henry Norris. (fn. 31) When up for sale in 1876, it was described as a water and steam corn mill, with storage for about 500 quarters of corn. Two pairs of stones were worked by steam, and two by water. The machinery was said to be in good order and 'good trade' had been carried on for many years past by the owner, the farmer of Sandhills farm. (fn. 32)
The village stands on the hill-top, 350 ft. up, at the crossing of two ancient roads, the Roman road from Thame to Stanton St. John (in 1954 a secondary road) and the Saxon road which followed the course of the present village street and continued northeastwards along the present Polecat End Lane. This lane now ends at Holton Brook, but in Saxon times seems to have continued over a stone bridge to Brill, and was probably the medieval regia via, (fn. 33) described as late as the 17th century as running a diversis villis ad civitatem Oxoniam. (fn. 34) It is uncertain whether it went to Oxford through Headington or joined the old London road over Shotover.
The original village grew up where the Roman and Saxon roads meet, and derives its name not from the forest which once surrounded it, but from the Old English forst-hyll or 'hill ridge'. (fn. 35) Most of the village lies north-east of the church, which stands near the summit of the hill overlooking the valley to the south; part of the north side of the village street lay in the parish of Stanton St. John until 1949.
The village once possessed an old stone manorhouse and its cottages were all built of local rubble stone, each with its orchard and garden. (fn. 36) There are still a number of 18th-century cottages: some have old red tiles and some are thatched; some have doors with gabled hoods or hoods supported on cut brackets. The 19th-century cottages are of red brick with slate roofs. All were described by an episcopal visitor in the mid-19th century as 'cottages of surprising neatness inhabited by thrifty tenants who farmed a few acres of their own hiring'. (fn. 37) There is one attractive 18th-century house of rubble. It has two stories, squared quoins, and a tiled roof with flanking chimneys. Its four-panelled door has a flat hood on cut brackets. The two ancient inns stand almost opposite each other in the centre of the village. Both are 17thcentury in origin but were altered in the 18th century. The 'King's Arms' is a stone house of two stories with a projecting chimney-stack at one end and a tiled roof. The 'White Horse' is built of rubble, has one story and an attic, two gabled dormer windows and a tiled roof with a rebuilt central brick chimney. Its central door has a gabled hood. The smithy stood close by; the stocks were where the entrance to the parish room now is, (fn. 38) and there was once a 'towne well'. Great efforts were made to preserve the purity of its water: in 1592–3, for instance, it was ordered that none should wash or hang any clothes within 10 feet of it; (fn. 39) and in the 17th century villagers were frequently presented in the manorial court for watering horses at the well and 'ennoying it'. (fn. 40) The pound, which had to be kept in repair by all the inhabitants, (fn. 41) was opposite the present Methodist chapel. (fn. 42)
Recently the western end of the parish has been transformed by the construction of the Risinghurst and Sandhills housing estates, and has become a residential suburb of Oxford. In the village itself about two dozen council houses have been built since the First World War. The nearness of Oxford has been responsible for the extension of amenities. Electricity has been supplied since 1928 and water from the Oxford mains since 1932. There has been a branch of the county library since 1924 and a Women's Institute since 1927. A children's recreation ground, the Olive Jacks Memorial Field, was opened in 1951. (fn. 43)
The manor-house lies next to the church on the site of an earlier house, pulled down in 1854 when Lincoln College built the present house for their tenant. (fn. 44) Stone from the old house was used to build it, and there is some of the ancient panelling in a nearby cottage. The only other survival of the 17thcentury home of the Powells (fn. 45) is an arched stone gateway, now blocked up, which seems once to have formed the main entrance to the house. (fn. 46) Until the mid-19th century there was some contemporary plaster pargetting depicting Adam and Eve. (fn. 47) In 1646 the house comprised a hall, great and little parlour, kitchen, closet, pastry room, pantry, bakehouse, brewhouse, cheese-press house, upper dairy, cellar, 'stilling house', and warehouse. Upstairs there was a matted chamber, a chamber over the hall and one over the little parlour, and another little chamber over the kitchen; the scullery was over the pantry. Mr. Powell had a study; Mrs. Powell had a 'lodging' over the dairy and a closet. There is mention of a third parlour and many other rooms. (fn. 48) The house was clearly of some size, and was indeed described by John Milton's nephew as the 'great house' where Milton's bride had had 'much company and joviality'. (fn. 49) The modest seven hearths returned by Richard Powell for the hearth tax of 1665 (fn. 50) are to be accounted for by the division of the house into two farm-houses. Perhaps Elliott or Hardinge, who each returned five hearths, was the tenant of the other half. In 1692 there is evidence that Richard Powell was sharing it with a tenant (fn. 51) and the house remained divided into two farm-houses during the 18th century. (fn. 52)
In its heyday in the mid-17th century the Powells' house was associated with two notable events. It was garrisoned for the king in the Civil Wars and later fell into parliamentary hands. (fn. 53) But most memorable of all, in 1643 the poet John Milton came to it on a visit, and courted and married Mary Powell.
In the 18th century the house again had literary associations. The Scottish poet William Julius Mickle (1735–88), who had been working in Oxford for the Clarendon Press, took rooms from 1771 to 1775 with Robert Tomkins, the tenant, and there translated Camoens's Lusiad. In 1781 he married his landlord's daughter Mary and settled at Wheatley. He died in 1788, while on a visit to Forest Hill, and was buried in the churchyard there. His wife, who died in 1811, was buried next to him, but their gravestones are now partly covered by the vestry. (fn. 54)
There were two manors in the first half of the 12th century, the d'Ivry and the d'Oilly manors. Only the first is mentioned in the Domesday account of Forest Hill; it was assessed at 3 hides and was held of the Bishop of Bayeux by Roger d'Ivry. (fn. 55) With the rest of the Ivry barony it became part of the honor of St. Valery and passed with other manors of that honor to the honor of Wallingford, and finally to the honor of Ewelme. (fn. 56)
The first recorded tenant of the Ivry holding is Eustace de Frescheville, who shared Forest Hill with Oseney in 1166. (fn. 57) Later one of Ivry's 3 hides passed to Hugh de Chalcombe, Henry II's Justiciar of Normandy, who bestowed it together with a wood on his foundation of Austin Canons at Chalcombe (Northants). (fn. 58) A general confirmation of their lands obtained from Edward III recites various confirmatory charters of this grant made by the descendants of Hugh de Chalcombe. (fn. 59) According to the return of 1242–3 they held it as 1/6 knight's fee. (fn. 60) They retained it until the Dissolution. (fn. 61)
The other 2 hides of the Ivry holding passed to Studley Priory. It was in the priory's possession by 1242–3. (fn. 62) Actually Littlemore Priory is stated to be holding ⅓ knight's fee with Chalcombe of the honor of Beckley, but this is clearly a scribal error for Studley Priory, since the Prioress of Studley was holding 2 hides as 1/6 knight's fee in 1255 (fn. 63) and is again recorded in 1279 as holding 8 virgates of the Earl of Cornwall, (fn. 64) the caput of whose honor was at Beckley. The confusion is easily accounted for as Littlemore held a hide of land in Forest Hill of the fee of Stanton, also as 1/6 knight's fee. (fn. 65) Littlemore's connexion with Stanton is alluded to in 1255 when it was alleged that Geoffrey Dispenser and after his death Emma de St. John, the lady of Stanton, had wrongly received payments and suit of court from the Prioress of Littlemore's holding in Forest Hill. (fn. 66) The record of 1279 definitely states that the Prioress of Studley was holding a hide of Stanton as 1/6 knight's fee. (fn. 67) She had obtained her land from Matthew de Bixtrop, who was holding it of Stanton in the 1220's. (fn. 68) Studley retained the estate until the Dissolution.
Minchincourt, the Prioress of Littlemore's capital messuage, lay at the north end of Forest Hill village and until 1949 lay in Stanton St. John parish, although part of its land was in Forest Hill. In Matthew de Bixtrop's time the fee was already under the jurisdiction of Stanton church though it was said to lie in Forest Hill. (fn. 69)
The original Ivry manor seems to have been rated at 5/6 knight's fee, for in 1279, in addition to the ⅓ knight's service owed by Chalcombe and Studley, two of the Earl of Cornwall's knights, Richard of Fritwell and John le Brun, held three cottages in Forest Hill for which they owed the service of ½ knight and suit at the honor court at North Oseney every three weeks. (fn. 70) They held other neighbouring property of the honor charged with fractions of knight service. (fn. 71)
The second manor of Forest Hill, which became the d'Oilly manor, consisted in 1086 of two holdings assessed at a hide each and were held of the Bishop of Bayeux by Ilbert de Lacy, the lord of Stanton St. John. They are entered in Domesday Book under the name of Stanton. (fn. 72) The d'Oilly right in these 2 hides probably dates from about 1100 when Ilbert de Lacy's son forfeited his Stanton lands. (fn. 73) It is possible that the grant was made originally to Roger d'Ivry, Robert d'Oilly's sworn brother-inarms, as Roger already possessed an adjacent estate in Forest Hill and it would be natural for him to seek its enlargement. If so the special relationship between the two soldiers and their joint foundation and endowment of the church of St. George in Oxford castle would account for the d'Oilly family's later connexion with the manor. (fn. 74)
The earliest known tenant of the d'Oilly manor was Hugh de Tew, who gave 2 hides to Oseney Abbey, some years after its foundation in 1129. (fn. 75) It seems clear that his gift was made after the death of his overlord Robert d'Oilly in 1142. (fn. 76) Hugh's gift was confirmed by the Bishop of Lincoln before 1154 (fn. 77) and the Pipe Roll of 1166 (fn. 78) confirms that it was then in the abbey's hands. The canons allowed Hugh de Tew's son Walter and his wife to hold the land for their lives, (fn. 79) and their son Walter in about 1206 confirmed his grandfather's gift. (fn. 80) The Hundred Rolls of 1279 add the information that the manor was held of the honor of St. George and that the grant had been confirmed by the chief lord, Henry d'Oilly, and by Henry III. (fn. 81) The lordship remained with Oseney until 1526. (fn. 82)
Before the dissolution of the abbey in 1539, its Forest Hill manor was granted in 1526 to Cardinal Wolsey for his new college at Oxford. (fn. 83) In 1542 there was another temporary grant to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church. (fn. 84) In 1545 it was bought from the Crown by Robert Browne, a London goldsmith, (fn. 85) who sold it in 1547 to Sir John Brome (fn. 86) (or Browne), lord of Holton, and no doubt a relative. This transaction marked the union of the Oseney and d'Oilly manors under a single ownership, for in 1544 Sir John Brome had acquired the former Chalcombe estate as well as the Studley Priory property. (fn. 87) Since 1540 the latter had been held by John Croke, the purchaser of the site of the priory and other Studley lands. (fn. 88)
Sir John Brome (d. 1558) left the manor to his son Sir Christopher, (fn. 89) who in 1589 devised his estates, encumbered with debt, to his two elder sons. George, the elder of these, was left Holton manor and Edmund was left Forest Hill. Anticipating trouble, the will provided that should the elder son dispute his brother's share, then Edmund should also inherit Minchincourt and the Vent. (fn. 90) The will was in fact disputed, but a compromise was reached in 1597 and Edmund Brome succeeded to Forest Hill manor. (fn. 91) He and his children lived there, as the church register, which records the baptisms of his large family, shows.
The new squire proved incapable of managing his affairs efficiently, and a series of legal disputes, lasting over fifty years, resulted. They well illustrate the financial difficulties of the gentry in this period and the consequent profit to the lawyers. But they have a special interest on account of the part played in them by the poet John Milton, his father, and the Powells, his relatives by marriage.
In 1602 the trustees, who then leased Edmund Brome's lands and provided for his wife with a maintenance allowance of £50 a year, declared that he was too 'weak' to manage his estate, that many lawsuits had arisen from his 'turbulent and unquiet disposition', and that 'his wife and children were in bare, pore and miserable estate'. (fn. 92) Still heavily in debt, he made leases of the manor to Richard Powell (see below) in 1621, 1623, and 1625, (fn. 93) and at about the same time appears to have mortgaged it to the Whorwoods of Headington, his relatives by marriage. (fn. 94) He died in 1628. (fn. 95) His son and heir John, left 'with little or noe meanes at all', (fn. 96) proceeded to mortgage the Forest Hill property to his tenant, Richard Powell, for £500, despite the earlier mortgage to the Whorwoods. (fn. 97) Finally in 1630 John Brome sold his interest in the manor to his brother Christopher Brome of London, (fn. 98) in the hope that he would clear the mortgage, but Christopher immediately resold to Sir Thomas Whorwood, the husband of his cousin Ursula Brome. (fn. 99) The Whorwoods settled it on their son, and succeeded in defeating John Brome's attempt to recover his right. (fn. 100)
Meanwhile Richard Powell, described as 'of Forest Hill, gentleman', had been living at the manorhouse since 1621. (fn. 101) He seems to have been a connexion of the Powells of Sandford on Thames. (fn. 102) He already had an interest in the Forest Hill neighbourhood through his property at Wheatley, (fn. 103) which he had perhaps acquired through his wife, the granddaughter of Richard Archdale of Wheatley. (fn. 104) Through her, too, he may have become acquainted with John Milton's relations at Stanton St. John, (fn. 105) for in 1627 he is found entering into a bond with the poet, (fn. 106) then an undergraduate, for a loan of £312. This may have been prompted by Powell's outlay on improvements and buildings at the manor. In a suit against John Brome in which he contended that the conveyance of the manor made to himself had become absolute, since the mortgage was unredeemed, he claimed that he had spent £500 on these improvements. (fn. 107)
His need for ready money grew with the increase in his family, (fn. 108) and between 1631 and 1641 he was obliged to borrow on his Wheatley freehold, (fn. 109) and in 1640 he mortgaged Forest Hill to Sir Robert Pye of Faringdon (Berks.). (fn. 110)
The Powells' loyalty to the king was to bring about the temporary ruin of the family's fortunes. But in the spring of 1643, (fn. 111) when John Milton stayed at Forest Hill manor and wooed Mary Powell, the squire's eldest daughter, the outcome of the Civil War was in the balance. Rather more than three years later Richard Powell, who had been a member of the garrison of Oxford at the time of its surrender, (fn. 112) sought the asylum of his son-in-law's London house, and his help in the recovery of Powell's sequestrated property. (fn. 113) Contrary to the Articles of Oxford, his household goods and other movables had been sold by order of the Oxfordshire Committee. (fn. 114) He died at Milton's house in the winter of 1646–7, leaving his eldest son Richard as his heir. (fn. 115) The latter, on account of his royalist sympathies, fled abroad, (fn. 116) and his mother Anne was left with her eight children in a 'most sadd condition' to salvage what she could of the heavily encumbered estate. (fn. 117)
The Forest Hill house and lands had been entered on in 1646 by Sir Robert Pye, to whom Powell was still in debt, (fn. 118) and were granted to his son John in December 1647; (fn. 119) the Wheatley property, now said to be worth but £80 a year, had been extended by John Milton for the recovery of his unpaid loan; (fn. 120) the Whorwoods' claims against the estate were still being prosecuted; (fn. 121) and the commissioners were demanding exorbitant fines from Richard Powell's lands, making no allowances for the widow's third, the free quartering of soldiers at the Forest Hill manor-house, and the damage done by selling her husband's personal estate. (fn. 122) By July 1653 Mrs. Powell had been able to get the fines on her lands abated, and the sequestrated part of the family estate freed. (fn. 123) It seems that the Forest Hill part of Powell's estate escaped sequestration, as Sir Robert Pye had entered on it before Richard Powell was declared a delinquent. He was clearly a loyal friend, and was described with Sir John Curson as Powell's 'loving friends' and made an overseer of his will.
In or before 1659, Forest Hill manor had been let to Edmund Mason for £150 a year, (fn. 124) but by 1670 Richard Powell the younger had obtained possession. (fn. 125) He tried to sell but not being able to find a purchaser (fn. 126) he and his wife Anne in 1680 settled it, then valued at £316 17s. 8d. a year, on their son Richard and his wife Katherine Frothingham. (fn. 127) This younger Richard died in 1682, (fn. 128) and in 1685 his widow, then married to Samuel Symonds, complained that her jointure was unpaid. (fn. 129) On her father-in-law's death in 1695, her husband took possession of the manor and fought the widowed Anne Powell's claim to annuities from the property. (fn. 130) Katherine's side of the family alleged that Anne's 'spite and malice' to her daughter-in-law had been so 'inveterate and implacable' that she had ruined the estate. (fn. 131) On her side, Anne accused Katherine of 'stoffing' her letters 'with bombast language, to set forth untruths of me'. (fn. 132)
The manor eventually passed to Francis Heywood of Kensington. He was living at the manorhouse as early as 1701, the year of his wife's burial in the church, (fn. 133) but it was only in 1720 that the property was conveyed to him by Richard Fish and Margaret his wife, and Elizabeth Holt, widow, with other members of her family. (fn. 134) These people were evidently heirs of the Powells. (fn. 135) The Powell papers show that the family was still encumbered with debts, which Heywood seems to have liquidated. (fn. 136) Francis Heywood was succeeded as squire of Forest Hill in 1722 by his son Francis (d. 1739), and then by his grandson Francis, who died without issue in 1747, leaving the property to his brother, William Heywood of Crowsley Park, in Shiplake. (fn. 137)
William Heywood probably never resided at Forest Hill, but he was buried there in 1762. (fn. 138) The heirs to all his estates were his sisters, Mary Wright and Elizabeth Fonnereau, and his nephew John Crew. (fn. 139) On Elizabeth's death the property was divided between John Crew and his aunt Mary Wright, who died in 1780, leaving two sons and two daughters as heirs of her share. In 1785 Mary Wright, one of the daughters, acquired the rights of her three fellow coheirs. (fn. 140) John Crew died in 1788, and a few months later the manor of Forest Hill was assigned by deed of partition to the trustees of Elizabeth Ann Crew, his daughter, who later became Viscountess Falmouth. (fn. 141)
In 1790 the Crew trustees sold the manor for £10,600 to Robert Miles of Moreton in the Marsh (Glos.). He died in 1805, leaving the manor to his two nephews, the younger of whom was a Moreton labourer. In 1807 they sold their rights to Lincoln College for £8,200. (fn. 142) In 1808 the college bought up the leases granted by Robert Miles to Thomas Morris, overseer of the poor of Forest Hill, and to John Ledwell of Beckley Park. (fn. 143) Thus, the college obtained the manorial estate, known as Manor farm, which it still retained in 1953.
Economic and Social History.
The Domesday figures show that the settlement at Forest Hill was a small, and perhaps a comparatively recent one. On the Ivry manor one serf on the demesne and three villeins and two bordars were recorded; there were possibly two villeins on the d'Oilly manor. (fn. 144) By the end of the 13th century, although the figures in the Hundred Rolls of 1279 are incomplete, it is clear that there had been a striking increase. No precise figures for villeins or cottagers on the St. Valery (once Ivry) estate are given, but it looks as if there must have been 20 families at least there, while no figures at all are given for the Oseney (once d'Oilly) manor. (fn. 145) The returns for the 16th of 1316 (fn. 146) and the 20th of 1327, (fn. 147) which list 16 and 19 taxpayers respectively, also suggest that there must then have been nearer 30 than 20 families in Forest Hill. But according to the poll tax returns of 1377, (fn. 148) there were only 48 persons over 14 in the village. If this figure and the earlier assumptions are correct, the decline in population must probably be attributed to the Black Death.
Sixteenth- and 17th-century figures show that the community consisted partly of small landowners and partly of tenants. There were 17 contributors to the subsidy of 1524, (fn. 149) of which the 4 richest paid on lands valued at £5 and under, 6 paid on 40s. worth of goods, and 7 on their annual gains of 20s.
The Compton Census of 1676 (fn. 150) gives 99 'conformists' in the parish. This is a surprisingly high figure, which perhaps here represents all the members of conforming families and not only those over sixteen.
The 18th-century data suggest that inclosure led to a definite decline in numbers. In 1718 the manor tenants consisted of 18 cottagers, and 6 more substantial householders, including the 2 farmer tenants of the manor house, then divided into two, the miller, and the curate. (fn. 151) By 1788 there were 20 tenants and a few freeholders. (fn. 152)
In 1801 the census recorded 115 inhabitants, 208 in 1871, and afterwards a decline to 163 in 1901. (fn. 153) The 1951 figure of 3,325 (fn. 154) is accounted for by the industrial development of Oxford, and by the fact that workers in that city have made their homes in Forest Hill and its new housing estates.
Farming has always been the main occupation of the villagers. Domesday shows that the Conquest led to a considerable economic setback. The Ivry estate was then valued at 20s., half its former value, and although there was land for three ploughteams, only two were in use. (fn. 155) The d'Oilly manor, also valued at 20s., was likewise halved in value; there was land for 2½ ploughs, but only 2 were in use. (fn. 156) After it had passed into Oseney Abbey's possession, the scanty evidence available shows that here as elsewhere in the county the abbey was a progressive landlord. It increased the acreage under cultivation by clearing the scrub in the surrounding forest land. (fn. 157) About 1220 the abbey built a watermill, and obtained a grant from John de St. John, lord of Stanton St. John, (fn. 158) of his part of the Ludbrook stream, which separated Stanton from Forest Hill. He also gave permission to divert its course if necessary. (fn. 159)
Oseney managed its Forest Hill estate in the 13th and 14th centuries through a bailiff, although the abbot himself made frequent visits, as in 1303–4, when he was twice there, perhaps to hold the courts. (fn. 160) The regular staff (familia) in 1302–3 consisted of 5 ploughmen, 3 herds (tentores), a woodward, 3 carters, a cowman, a pigman, and a dairymaid. (fn. 161) Their wages in winter totalled 32s. 10d.; in the summer they seem to have been paid in corn. Other payments were made to the keepers of the ploughs and carts and of the buildings. The largest receipt, 76s. 6d., came from the sale of skins. Rents, sale of stock and corn, and 3s. 4d. from perquisites of the court accounted for the rest.
The same roll gives details about the crops, and the amount of stock at the end of the year. The crops sown were oats (21 a.), beans (38 a.), dredge (38 a.), maslin (16 a.), and wheat (76 a.). There were 8 horses, 18 oxen, 4 bullocks, 11 cows, 68 sheep and lambs, and 71 pigs. The villagers had common in Shotover and Stowood forest for 12 pigs, in return for which they were bound to give the foresters free refreshment. (fn. 162)
In 1287–8 (fn. 163) receipts from the court accounted for 23s. 9d.; rents for 21s.; the mill for 26s.; sale of corn for 72s. 6d.; sale of cattle and pigs for 61s. 2d.; sales of lambskins and sheepskins, butter, hay, straw, and so on amounted to 119s. 7d. On the expenses side, the heaviest items were payments of 57s. 9d. for the harvest; 52s. 10d. for necessaries; 52s. 2d. for wages; 41s. 10d. for stock; 26s. 10d. for sowing; and 22s. for weeding fields and hoeing. Some expense was incurred by the repair of the house and the grange, for ploughs and carts, for the purchase of nine horses, and for the upkeep of the sheepfold and mill. There were two ploughmen, two herds, a woodward, a cowman, a carter, and a dairymaid.
By the early 16th century Oseney was farming the manor and rectory for £10 8s. 8d., which included £2 6s. 8d. from the rents of free tenants. The total income from Forest Hill was £11 2s. (fn. 164)
The land of the parish had already been divided up before the Reformation; in 1524 four people were taxed on land. (fn. 165) After the Reformation some rentals and surveys throw light on the organization of the demesne, the tenants of the manor, and the other landowners. A list of 1623–4 (fn. 166) gives 17 copyholders and 20 freeholders of whom 10 were resident; and another of 1629 gives 16 copyholders and 24 freeholders of whom 9 were resident, and 3 other residents who do not appear to have held land. (fn. 167) Thus about half the landholders were tenants of the manor. The normal tenancy was now for three lives, but in Edward VI's reign it had been customary for tenants to hold for a term or at will.
In 1638 (fn. 168) the demesne, then in the hands of Richard Powell, comprised 13½ yardlands, worth £108; Lady Whorwood's tenant held pasture-land worth £80; 7 tenants of the manor, including John Ford and George Plant, held 5½ yardlands worth £44; and Magdalen College had a meadow worth £5. In 1659 (fn. 169) the manor-house and demesne land were leased to Edmund Mason for £150 a year, and there were 21 other tenants with land valued at about £4 and under. One of these, George Plant, had demised in 1630 his ¾ yardland to William Herne, goldsmith of London, for 6 years for £7. This holding was later said to consist of 44 lands, 3 yards, 6 butts, and grass-ground. (fn. 170)
By 1689, (fn. 171) though the Powell demesne land had been reduced to 4 yardlands, there had been on the whole an amalgamation of holdings, resulting in the disappearance of some of the smaller tenants. Dr. Master of Holton manor (fn. 172) held 4½ yardlands, Thomas Howell 11, and nine others 2 yardlands to ½ yardland between them. Seven had a house and homestall only. A survey of the manor made in 1718 (fn. 173) shows that the demesne land had by then been divided into two farms of 366 acres and 135 acres. In addition there were the miller's small farm of 22 acres, 4 smallholdings, and 18 cottagers, mostly without land in the fields, but with gardens, orchards, and common rights. By the late 18th century, the land tax reveals further changes. (fn. 174) In 1788 about 5/6 of the land belonged to the manor and there were three fair-sized farms, Manor farm (252 a.), Wallis's (166 a.), and Boltons (130 a.), and in addition there were two small-holdings of 60 and 20 acres. Another part of the parish, a sixth in value of the rest, belonged to the Whorwoods. In 1826, the three farms and two small-holdings were listed for the land tax under Forest Hill, but the former Whorwood land which had been bought by Baker Morrell is not mentioned. (fn. 175)
Sheep continued to be kept, and were often the subject of court orders. In 1558 the manorial court laid down a stint of 40 sheep a yardland, (fn. 176) and in 1629 it ordered that no sheep should be turned out on the manor's three greens except between washing and shearing. (fn. 177) In courts baron of the 1620's and 1630's there are references to sheep straying in the corn field, to impounded sheep, and to sheep grazing on the common pasture of Hatch Green. (fn. 178) But the Powells, unlike some of their near neighbours, seem not to have been interested in large-scale sheepfarming, and in 1636 Richard Powell was accused by Sir Thomas Whorwood of ploughing up Redhill pasture ground, one of the largest parcels of pasture land in the parish. (fn. 179) On the other hand, in 1692, in a lease of half the manor-house and land, it is stipulated that the tenant is not to plough up pasture without the lessor's consent. (fn. 180)
Light is thrown on agricultural practice at the beginning of the 16th century by an indenture between Edmund Brome and six husbandmen of Forest Hill, among whom were the well-known names of Plant, Bolt, and Harper. These six were to have all Brome's arable land, the meadows, leys and 'haydes' (heads) lying in the common fields for three years, as well as the pasture in Sandhill Field from Michaelmas to March. In addition, they were to have the reversion of 2½ yardlands in Forest Hill, then occupied by a gentleman called George Lusher for a term of two years. The lessees undertook in accordance with the custom of the manor, at their own cost, to 'care (for), ploughe, till and sowe with good and cleane corne' the customary amount of land. They were to harvest it at their own charge, and set out the tithe, and divide the residue between themselves and Brome, whose share they were to take to his barn. Brome promised to bear part of the expense of carting and to give a free supper. The lessees further undertook to repair hedges and fences, to dung the land, and to pay the taxes. (fn. 181)
No farm accounts have survived, apart from a brief extract for some eight months in 1692–3, which incidentally discloses one of the drawbacks of open-field farming: 18s. 6d. was disbursed for the damage done by animals in the corn fields of Headington and Stanton, a large sum compared with the total bill of £2 9s. 4d. paid for reaping the harvest. (fn. 182) A similar example comes from earlier in the century (1629), when the court ordered every tenant to pay the hayward at the rate of 12d. a yardland after harvest to keep the 'deere out of the feylde'. (fn. 183) Another order also underlines a chronic difficulty of open-field cultivation—the frequent encroachments by neighbours on each other's strips. In 1632 the members of the court were to meet at the church-gate on St. Andrew's day to go into the fields to set up 'merestones and merestakes' and 'reforme all incroachments'. (fn. 184)
Nothing very precise can be said about the 17thcentury field systems. Though there is a terrier of 1670 describing every furlong in Forest Hill Field, it does not show clearly how the furlongs were grouped, and it seems as if the original field system, about which nothing is known, no longer existed. (fn. 185) Old Field, abutting on Stanton St. John Field, and Red Field, which seems to have been east of the road branching off the London road to Forest Hill, (fn. 186) are named, but they do not appear at this date to have been large fields. Similarly Close Leyes, described as a fallow field, is known to be one of the lord's closes. The furlongs, many of whose names are the same or nearly so as those used in an estate map of 1825, (fn. 187) are divided into lands, yards, butts, and ridges. The common pasture—Hatch Green, Woodman's Hill, and Town Green—mostly lay south of the London road. A document of 1629 and later surveys show that their area was about 70 acres. (fn. 188)
The demesne land was scattered in the open fields. Edmund Mason, the tenant of the manor, had approximately 19 lands in Old Field in the extreme north of the parish, 36 lands in Long and Short Wheat Hill farther south, 17 lands in Battle Bridge, and 19 lands in Long Lyne Hill south of the Bayswater Brook. His holdings, more than those of others, show definite signs of consolidation. He had many blocks of 7 lands and one of 8, while a typical holding consisted of a ley of grass, groups of 3, 2, 2, and 7 lands, 1 yard, and 7 half-acres. (fn. 189) In some furlongs only the three chief tenants had land, as the result presumably of exchanges or buying up of land. Mr. Fynmore, the most substantial tenant after Mason, had a holding which consisted of 162 lands, 33 yards, 7 butts, 2 headlands, 7 leys, and a ham of grass. The process of consolidation was evidently continuing for in 1670 there is a memorandum about some exchanges of land, one of which, and possibly all, were arranged for that purpose. One tenant, for example, instead of his 3 butts in New Close was allowed 2 yards next to his acre in the Lower furlong. Again, Mason's 2 lands, Ford's one land and another 3 lands of Mason's were exchanged with Thomas Dodd for 11 yards elsewhere. (fn. 190)
There is no evidence for wholesale inclosure, though meadow and pasture closes were common. New ones were being made in the 16th and 17th centuries, as in 1589–90, when it was ordained that the Meade Close and Butts should be held in severalty by the lord and his heirs. (fn. 191) There is a record of an inclosure in Red Field when a Mr. Ball was presented in 1651 for making it; (fn. 192) of the two closes called Abbot's Wood (28 a.), which lay south of the London road; (fn. 193) of hedging and ditching at Long Lynehill Hedge, which may be significant, (fn. 194) and of a 'New Close' in Red Field north of the Bayswater Brook. (fn. 195) These inclosures should perhaps be related to the shortage of common pasture evident in this period. Fines, for instance, for surcharging the common were frequent, (fn. 196) and in 1653 John Pye, the tenant of the manor, called in all leases so that assignments of common could be checked, and overcharging of the land prevented. (fn. 197) However, in the early 18th century it appears that pasture for great cattle on two of the common greens (Hatch Green and Woodman's Hill) was unrestricted. (fn. 198)
A terrier of the manor made in 1718 (fn. 199) shows that there had been hardly any inclosure of arable or conversion to pasture. Out of 656 acres in the two farms of the manor estate, 477 acres were under the plough. The chief tenant of the demesne with 366 acres of land had 86 acres of inclosed land. There were two arable closes, Farm Piece (20 a.) and Sandhills (45 a.); one meadow close (18 a.); and one pasture close—Spire close (3 a.). The other tenant of the demesne with 135 acres of land had only a 3-acre meadow inclosed. The bulk of the demesne was thus still in the open fields. A change of policy began in 1721. (fn. 200) An agreement to inclose was made, and some parcels of land were taken out of the open fields and common. The total acreage was over 286 acres, and was made up mostly of inclosures ranging in size from about 39 acres to about 11 acres. The exception was the Great Ground or Stones, which consisted of 60 acres. The names of the other inclosures were Short and Long Lineings, Black Stock, Sandalls Hill above and below the road (i.e. the London road), Buck Pen, Truggs Moor Ground, the Middle Ground at Battle Bridge, Oldfield Quarter, Hitchin and Nine Oaks. (fn. 201) The inclosure of the open fields was followed by the inclosure of some of the common. In 1722 a Powell and a Whorwood agreed to inclose 70 acres of it. (fn. 202) It is clear that Heywood, the younger, intended to build cottages on the 7-acre piece of green between Town Green and Heath (Hatch?) Green. (fn. 203) The Heywoods must have continued this policy of inclosure by agreement, for there is no inclosure award, and by the 19th century, if not earlier, the open fields had gone. In 1807 the Manor farm, in any case, was described as 'old inclosed' land all lying within a ring fence. (fn. 204)
There has been an unusual variety of occupations in Forest Hill. In 1166 a quarry is recorded, (fn. 205) and the site of an old quarry is still marked on modern maps. There were quarrymen and stone-cutters in the village in the 19th century (fn. 206) but they, perhaps, worked at Holton or one of the other neighbouring quarries. The nuns of Studley had a forge, presumably a blacksmith's, in 1300, (fn. 207) and there was a medieval lime-kiln, from which lime was taken in 1229 for work on Oxford castle and inclosing the town. (fn. 208)
In the 17th century there were glove-makers in the village. The house of one, 'le glover's house', is mentioned in 1630, (fn. 209) and in 1617 Thomas and Ralph Smith, glovers, occur. (fn. 210) There was also a joiner at this time. (fn. 211)
From at least the end of the 18th century the Soanes family carried on a well-known hurdlemaking industry, (fn. 212) which lasted until 1939; they also made lathes, and were sometimes called 'lathemenders'. The family was an old-established one: there is record of a William Soanes, mason, in 1695, and of a widow Soanes in 1718, (fn. 213) and for most of the 19th century a Soanes was parish sexton. (fn. 214) The Ray family's saddle- and harness-making business, which also ended in 1939, had an even longer history, as it began, at the latest, in the early 18th century. (fn. 215) In the mid-19th century, the licensee of the 'King's Arms' (fn. 216) was also the blacksmith, but by 1900 the smithy had been turned into a shop. (fn. 217) The bake-house, now the post office, where the villagers used to take their Sunday dinners to be baked, continued until 1916. (fn. 218) Nineteenthcentury records also mention a collar-maker, a shoemaker, a plasterer, a carpenter, and a mason. (fn. 219)
Since Forest Hill was probably not a separate parish in the early Middle Ages, one would expect the church to be called capella; it was sometimes thus described (fn. 220) and the occasional use of ecclesia (fn. 221) was probably inexact. The church may have obtained full parochial status in 1273 when its graveyard was consecrated. (fn. 222) By 1341 in any case the church is spoken of as ecclesia parochialis. (fn. 223)
Besides this chapel, which was originally on the fee of Hugh de Tew, lord of one of the manors, (fn. 224) and was given to Oseney Abbey in about 1140, a private chapel was sanctioned in the 1220's for the household of Matthew de Bixtrop. (fn. 225) The terms of the grant show that its chaplain was to be subject to the mother church of Stanton St. John and that the tenants of Matthew's hide of land in Forest Hill had been and were to remain parishioners of Stanton. No mention is made in this grant of any other chapel in Forest Hill or of its rights. (fn. 226) Since part of Matthew de Bixtrop's fee, later Minchincourt farm, remained in Stanton until 1949, (fn. 227) it appears probable that the parish boundary between Stanton and Forest Hill, by which part of Forest Hill village lay in Stanton, was already in existence in the early 13th century.
Hugh de Tew's gift to Oseney was confirmed by the Bishop of Lincoln (fn. 228) (1149–54) and several times afterwards. (fn. 229) St. Frideswide's Priory also had claims on the church, (fn. 230) for when regular canons were installed in 1122, Henry I granted them 2½ acres of land and a sheaf from every virgate at Forest Hill. (fn. 231) But the priory's rights were of longer standing than this, for the bull confirming the grant speaks of the 'reasonable customs' the monastery is known to have had from ancient times, which are contained in 'authentic writings'. (fn. 232)
There seem to have been disputes between Oseney and St. Frideswide's over their rights in Forest Hill until 1174, when a composition was made between them. By this the latter secured the rights of burial and of receiving bequests made by the dead; and a confirmation of Henry I's grant. The priest chosen by Oseney for the church was to swear at his institution to do nothing against these rights. (fn. 233) Their burial rights probably ended with the consecration of the graveyard in 1273, but their right to the bequests of the dead may have been commuted for a pension, (fn. 234) for St. Frideswide's is known to have been receiving 6s. 8d. from the church at Forest Hill in 1291 (fn. 235) and after. (fn. 236)
The gift of the church to Oseney meant the appropriation of its land and tithes. A vicarage was ordained by Bishop Hugh de Welles, but as he gave Oseney the option of supplying the church with a chaplain, (fn. 237) they took this course. (fn. 238) Its value, which was assessed at 30s. in 1254, (fn. 239) had fallen to £1 6s. 8d. in 1291; (fn. 240) in 1341 it was £2, (fn. 241) and in 1428 it was taxed at £4. (fn. 242) By the 16th century the rectory had been united with the Oseney manor, and they were farmed and assessed together. (fn. 243)
Oseney held the church until 1526, when it was granted by Cardinal Wolsey with the Oseney manor of Forest Hill (fn. 244) to his college in Oxford. (fn. 245) Thereafter the descent of the advowson and rectory followed that of the manor. In grants of this time it is described as the rectory, vicarage, and advowson of Forest Hill, (fn. 246) but in 17th- and 18th-century accounts cannot be distinguished from the manor. (fn. 247) The incumbent was a curate, presented by the lord of the manor, who paid him a salary charged against the estate. (fn. 248) Thus the lay owners appointed the curate until 1808, after which Lincoln College did so. The living is still a perpetual curacy in the gift of Lincoln College. (fn. 249)
Since 1948 there has been a mission church of St. Mary's on the Sandhills housing estate. (fn. 250)
Since they were not instituted by the bishop, few of the names of the medieval chaplains are known. Oseney Abbey had the privilege of serving its churches with its own canons, but it seems to have exercised it only in two places. There is evidence that Oseney neglected Forest Hill. (fn. 251) In 1296 the bishop was obliged to order the archdeacon to arrange for the proper serving of the church, until the bishop should make a permanent arrangement. (fn. 252) At the visitation of c. 1520 it was noted that the rectory had been leased to a layman; the parish was only served by a transient chaplain, although there should be a resident one; the graveyard was not well kept; and the font and holy oil were not kept locked. (fn. 253) In the 16th century the chaplain was usually paid £2, (fn. 254) not enough to keep a resident priest, but in 1526 he was only receiving 26s. 8d. (fn. 255)
The post-Reformation curates also seem to have been non-resident and because of the small stipend to have changed frequently. At the end of the 16th century Forest Hill was usually served by the Rector of Holton. (fn. 256) He was involved in a dispute in 1593 over the payment of tithes. It was then asserted that it was customary to pay the parson or his farmer no more than 4d. for a new 'milche cowe', and 3d. each for an old one or a heifer. (fn. 257) Luke Proctor, curate 1641–61, lived in Forest Hill, for he baptized six and buried three of his children there. (fn. 258) He was a graduate of Cambridge, and, as he was evicted from his two London churches, he must have been a royalist. (fn. 259) Richard Powell, a strong royalist, probably offered him the curacy of Forest Hill as a refuge until the Restoration, when he was able to get a better living. It may have been because of Proctor's views that Milton and Mary Powell were not married in Forest Hill church, since their marriage entry is not in the register. (fn. 260)
During the 18th century the curacy was held by resident fellows of Oxford colleges. (fn. 261) Among them were some distinguished men: William Denison, for example (c. 1704–12), (fn. 262) Fellow of University College, who 'beautified and repaired the church at his own expense', (fn. 263) and in 1722 closely contested the mastership of his college; (fn. 264) and Nathaniel Bliss, curate for several years in the 1750's, who was Savilian Professor of Geometry and became Astronomer Royal. (fn. 265) It was no doubt on his account that George Schutz of Shotover and his family attended Forest Hill church rather than Holton.
Because of the non-residence of the curates, the churchwardens played an important part in parish affairs. During the 18th century many of them served for long periods, as for instance John Hawkes, warden almost continuously from 1722 to 1759; Samuel, John, and Robert Tomkins between the years 1728 and 1790, and Henry Norris during the 32 years after 1762. Hawkes and Norris were tenants of Bayswater Mill, as were several other later wardens. (fn. 266)
The impropriator of the rectory was supposed to pay the curate a salary of £25, (fn. 267) but during the 18th century successive impropriators refused to pay more than £20, which caused bitterness to the curates. (fn. 268) In 1759 Nathaniel Bliss begged to be excused from the bishop's visitation on the grounds that although Mrs. Heywood, who was in possession of the rectory, paid him £20 a year regularly, she was not obliged to do so, and that she refused to allow the curate to be licensed or to appear at a visitation, on pain of losing his salary. (fn. 269) The parish was not ordinarily exempt from episcopal jurisdiction, and it is not known on what Mrs. Heywood based her claim.
In 1716 Hearne found the bible used was an impression of 1613 and 'lyes always in the chest, and is taken constantly out when used'. (fn. 270) Services were held regularly, usually twice on Sundays, during the 18th century, and no one in the parish was said to disregard religion. (fn. 271) By the end of the century only one Sunday service was held. (fn. 272) In 1801 the clergyman was said to neglect his duty, and the chancel was in urgent need of repair. (fn. 273)
During the 19th century an increased stipend and the provision of a house enabled the parish to have a resident curate. In 1807 a grant of £400 was made by Queen Anne's Bounty, (fn. 274) which, invested in a small farm-house, produced £10 a year. Lincoln College paid the official stipend of £25, and made an additional voluntary payment of £27. (fn. 275) Later augmentations have been made, (fn. 276) and in 1953 the net annual value of the benefice was £550. (fn. 277)
The parish was unfortunate in its first resident curate, John Mavor (1823–48), a Fellow of Lincoln College and the son of William Mavor, Rector of Woodstock. (fn. 278) In 1825 he also became Rector of Hadleigh (Essex). Soon after he came to the parish, plans were made for building a vicarage and 5 acres of land were bought from the manor, including a little farmstead called the Lower Homestead. (fn. 279) The house was finished about 1828, and in spite of a grant of £800 from Queen Anne's Bounty he claimed that the cost had ruined him. (fn. 280) In 1834 he was arrested for a debt of under £30 and imprisoned in Oxford jail. He tried to carry on his office from there; his parishioners visited him, (fn. 281) and like the curate of Wheatley, also in prison for debt, he may have been allowed out on Sunday to conduct his services. At all events he resisted the idea of being replaced, and said his church was as well served as ever. (fn. 282) In about 1845 he was again arrested for debt and in 1848 was deprived; (fn. 283) he died in 1853 in the debtors' side of the Oxford county jail. (fn. 284) Nevertheless, by 1866 the number of communicants had doubled since 1802 and the congregation was reported to be about 100. (fn. 285) The best known of the 19th-century curates was Edmund Greaves (1894–1904), who left a useful manuscript collection of notes on the history of the parish. (fn. 286)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS THE CONFESSOR has a chancel and nave, a north aisle, south porch, and at the west end a gabled bellcote, supported by two massive buttresses. It is, as Hearne said in 1716, 'a very small thing' though 'prettily situated upon the Hill'. (fn. 287)
The massive round-headed chancel arch, with plain imposts, is of 12th-century date, and is a survival from an earlier and probably the original church. Some repointing was begun during the 19thcentury restoration, but was stopped on the architect's orders. (fn. 288) The south wall, the north chancel wall, the greater part of the bell-cote, the south porch, and the low window near the door into the organ chamber, which was once in the north side of the nave, (fn. 289) belong to the early part of the 13th century when the church was rebuilt. The outer doorway of the porch is a good example of the transition from Romanesque to the Early English style, with its square abaci and capitals ornamented with stiff-leaved foliage. The fine three-light west window was inserted in the 15th century, and the small buttresses at the western angles of the church were added at about the same time. (fn. 290)
The fabric was extensively restored in the 17th century: the west wall was supported by two massive buttresses with contemporary mouldings. The church was reroofed in 1630, for a beam above the chancel arch bears the inscription C. 1630 R., (fn. 291) and the gable of the south porch was probably rebuilt about the same time. (fn. 292) There was further restoration in about 1700, (fn. 293) and in 1710 a new font was bought. It was inscribed with the initials of the young men who contributed to it at a Whitsun Ale (fn. 294)—a festivity which took place as late as the end of the 19th century in Spier's close, just north of the manorhouse. (fn. 295)
By the 19th century the church needed much repair. It was 'very damp and mouldy', (fn. 296) and the chancel was ruinous. (fn. 297) In 1847 the eastern wall was rebuilt by Lincoln College and three lancet windows, designed by J. H. Parker, inserted. (fn. 298) In 1849 the plaster ceiling of the chancel was removed and the doorway and stairs to the rood left open. (fn. 299) In 1852 there was a large-scale restoration under the direction of Sir George Gilbert Scott at a cost of about £930. (fn. 300) He added the north aisle, with an arcade of three arches, carefully rebuilding the original north doorway into the new wall, and the eastern vestry and organ chamber, and rebuilt the south wall of the chancel. The nave roof was stripped of its plaster ceiling and boarded. The 'cumbrous' gallery at the west end was removed. A new pulpit replaced the early-18th-century one; stone sedilia, pews, and font were installed. The structure, rather like a pigeon-house, attached to the old bell-turret, was removed. (fn. 301)
At Hearne's visit in 1716, the only monument was to George Ball (d. 1657) and Jane Ball (d. 1664). (fn. 302) There are now several monuments to the Heywood family, (fn. 303) all of which were removed from their original positions during the 19th-century restoration. (fn. 304) They are to Francis Heywood (d. 1722), his wife Dorothy (d. 1701); their seven children, all of whom except Francis died young; Francis Heywood (d. 1739) and his wife Mary (d. 1742); Ann Heywood (d. 1756); and William A. Heywood (d. 1762). On the walls of the nave are late-18th- and 19thcentury memorials to the Schutz and Miller families of Shotover. One is to Thomas Schutz (d. 1839), the last member of his family, with coat of arms above.
There are two bells by Ellis and Henry Knight dated 1652, and a sanctus bell by Taylor of Oxford of 1852. (fn. 305) At the Reformation there had been three bells, (fn. 306) but one had gone by the early 18th century. (fn. 307) The church plate includes a silver Elizabethan chalice and paten cover bearing the initials 'e.b. 1575', probably a gift of Edmund Brome; (fn. 308) two 18thcentury pewter plates; a large pewter bowl, probably once used as a font bowl; and a pewter tankard flagon with the inscription 'Ex Dono Symonds Gent'. (fn. 309) Hanging framed on the south wall is part of an embroidered red velvet cope, cut down to make an altar front, which dates from about 1450, (fn. 310) but is not mentioned among the possessions of the church at the Reformation. (fn. 311)
The registers date from 1564, with a gap from 1683 to 1700. The record of marriages and burials from 1700 to 1740 is also lacking. (fn. 312)
In 1608 Margaret the wife of Edward Brown, and in 1612 Alice Badger were returned as recusants, certainly papists, (fn. 313) but otherwise there is no record of any Roman Catholics in the parish.
The 18th-century episcopal visitations record no Protestant dissenters, but in 1829 a Protestant dissenter's house was reported and in 1846 the Methodists held services in the house of Edward Higgins. (fn. 314) The relationship at this time between church and chapel was embittered by the personal quarrels of the curate John Mavor and a family of dissenting farmers, the Boltons, who were tenants of the second largest farm in the parish. On one occasion Mavor refused to continue the service until one of the family—'that wicked fellow'—was removed from the church. (fn. 315) In 1872, however, the incumbent reported that the professed dissenters were the most regular attendants at church, although occasional services were held by them in a semi-detached room. (fn. 316) It is not known when the Wesleyans acquired their own place of worship, but the present brick building of 1898 with accommodation for a hundred was said to have replaced an earlier wooden building. (fn. 317)
In the 19th century a dame school was kept in her cottage near the cemetery by a Mrs. Thornton, and, after about 1853, by her daughter. The latter used to charge 3d. a week, and had between 10 and 20 pupils. In 1851 the schoolroom was the dame's living-room. (fn. 318) Other children got free education at the Stanton St. John school, (fn. 319) but in 1854 it was reported that the people of Forest Hill 'do not avail themselves of it to anything like the desired extent.' A small boarding-school opened in the village in 1832 did not survive long. (fn. 320)
In 1934 the growing size of the parish led the county education committee to consider opening a school. One was started with temporary accommodation. Recognition as a public elementary school was obtained after considerable local agitation and a permanent building was erected in 1939. The school opened in 1940 and by 1953 was known as Sandhills. Before, most of the children attended the school at Stanton St. John, (fn. 321) but senior pupils went to Wheatley Secondary School.
Before the Reformation Oseney Abbey gave 3s. 4d. annually to the poor of the parish. (fn. 322)
The only post-Reformation charity is the Pool Powell Charity. In 1720, when Francis Heywood took over the manor, he was liable for payment of fourteen years' arrears on this charity, assessed at 50s. a year. (fn. 323) In 1763 the Heywood heirs were paying off £5 principal and interest of £6 10s. 6d. on the Pool Powell gift, which was to be put out at interest and divided from time to time among the poor. (fn. 324) In 1825, when the capital was £10, it was recommended that the interest should be spent on coal for the poor. In 1817 and 1818 it had been lent to build a labourer's cottage. (fn. 325) In 1871 the interest was 7s. 6d. (fn. 326) but by 1954 the charity had lapsed. (fn. 327)