A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5, Bullingdon Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1957.
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There was no ancient parish of Littlemore: the township was divided at an early date between the parishes of Iffley and St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, the smaller part belonging to Iffley and the larger to St. Mary's. The connexion with St. Mary's is thought to date from pre-Norman times (fn. 1) and that with Iffley from the 12th century. (fn. 2) The 19th-century evidence for the history of Littlemore civil parish is very confused. But it seems that the total area of the ancient township or liberty as it was then called was 846 acres. (fn. 3) In 1877 five detached parts (613 a.), including Littlemore village, were said to belong to St. Mary's and the rest (i.e. 233 a.) to Iffley. (fn. 4) The detached 613 acres constituted Littlemore civil parish. (fn. 5) In 1885 the Iffley part of the liberty and some additional acres were transferred to Littlemore civil parish, bringing its area up to 877 acres. Under the Oxford Extension Act of 1928 a further 161 acres were transferred from Iffley to Littlemore, making the area of the modern parish 1,038 acres. (fn. 6)
Matthew Arnold described the early-19th-century village as 'dreary'. Mainly composed of houses built of rubble with thatched roofs, (fn. 7) it straggled across the London road a mile to the south of Iffley. At the west end it clustered about the old Church Way to Iffley, now Railway Lane and Chapel Lane; to the east it spread along a road leading to Cowley and the modern College Lane. The pound stood on the south-west corner of College Lane. The stocks were originally on the bank outside the village school, but new ones were made in the early 19th century and were set up near the pound. They are now in the Pitt Rivers Museum. (fn. 8) There was a forge at Chantry Farm in the 19th century and another near the George Inn. Street lamps came in 1892. Several of the old houses survive. Corpus Farm is of early17th-century date, and appears on Langdon's map of 1605 (fn. 9) much as it is today, but with its stable in front and a small orchard and close at the back. Next to it stands the so called Manor House, which dates from the late 16th century, and perhaps stands on the site of a medieval free tenement of Iffley manor.
Chantry Farm is a small 17th-century house with later additions, at the end of College Lane, and here, and in Railway and Chapel Lanes, are other 17thcentury houses. One of them, 'Beenhame,' was so named in 1710 when it was still a husbandman's cottage. Later it was the home of Charles Crawley's widow and was much enlarged. (fn. 10) 'St. George's' was almost certainly built about 1611 when the estate is first mentioned. (fn. 11)
The Dool House, now part of the hospital (fn. 12) (see below) was built probably in 1810 by John Jannaway, a wheelwright. Lawn Upton was built by Charles Crawley, Newman's friend, between 1846 and 1850 on part of the 10 acres purchased by Newman and Bloxam. (fn. 13) The character of the village changed considerably in the 19th century. It acquired a church, a chapel, two schools, and a number of gentlemen's houses. (fn. 14) Its bleak landscape was so transformed by the tree-planting undertaken by Newman in 1840, and later by Charles Crawley and the hospital, that in 1868 Newman could write, 'Littlemore is now green'. (fn. 15) Its working-class houses were increased to meet the needs of the labourers attracted to the neighbourhood by the construction of the hospital and the railway and other opportunities for employment. The City of Oxford acquired upwards of 1,000 acres in the parish under the Local Government Act, 1858, (fn. 16) for a sewage farm, mainly constructed between 1873 and 1880. The railway station was opened in 1864, (fn. 17) after 7 acres of land had been sold by the Donnington Hospital Trust for the construction of the Oxford-Wycombe section of the G.W.R. across the parish. The Steam Laundry opened before 1887. (fn. 18)
In 1843 13 acres of land were purchased to build Littlemore Hospital, a lunatic asylum for the county of Oxford. The new building was opened in 1846 (architect R. N. Clark of Nottingham), and enlarged in 1847 and 1852. The contractor was then John Castle of Oxford and the architects H. J. Underwood (fn. 19) and after his death J. C. Buckler. In 1883 a new chapel to seat 300 was added, together with a house for the resident medical officer. Pressure on the accommodation of the hospital grew. In 1848 the average number of patients was 200, but by 1900 the number was 543. In 1902 35 additional acres of land were purchased and a building to accommodate a further 200 patients (architect H. T. Tollit) was erected. (fn. 20)
At the end of the 19th century Littlemore still maintained its rural character. (fn. 21) Two farms remained and fields stretched almost unbroken to Iffley Turn. Beyond St. George's and the new Cheshunt Terrace (c. 1890), the road to Cowley remained a country lane with a few straggling houses and a group known as 'Up Town' before it reached 'Van Diemens' on the border of the parish. Church Way was a field-path to Iffley, and many who caught a late horse bus to Iffley Turn were said to fear the lonely walk across the moor. The village now had a few shops and four public houses: the 'Marlborough Head' (1836), the 'George', the 'Golden Ball', and the 'Swan' on Kennington Island which provided for holiday-makers and fishermen. (fn. 22)
In the early 20th century there were still under a dozen private residents in the village, (fn. 23) though the healthiness of the site had begun to attract newcomers from Oxford; but later the increase in the hospital staff and the expansion of the motor works at Cowley created a new demand for small houses. Between 1920 and 1930 the housing shortage grew acute. Thirty of the old cottages had been condemned by 1920, when it was stated that the village needed at least sixty new houses. The sanitary conditions at Mount Pleasant were particularly bad: after the strong protest made in 1921, 29 houses here were demolished and the site is now deserted. (fn. 24) New council houses have since been built and these, together with houses built earlier in the century, have already (1953) covered much of the remaining farmlands of the parish. A part of the Lincoln College estate (fn. 25) was sold in 1952 as a site for the erection of more houses.
Before the 19th century Littlemore had no residents of distinction, but later residents were J. H. Newman; (fn. 26) C.L. Cornish, the Tractarian; E. A. Freeman, the historian, Sir William Herschel, Bt., grandson of the astronomer, who purchased Lawn Upton from the Crawleys in about 1881 and was the discoverer of the use of fingerprints in detecting crime; and Henry Bloodhurst, M.P., the son of a local stonemason, who became the first direct representative of labour to be given a government appointment under Gladstone. (fn. 27) Another Littlemore character was Joseph Ley, the first medical officer of Littlemore Hospital, to whom much of the early repute of the hospital was due. He introduced a humane system 'beyond what was common at the time'. (fn. 28)
Before the inclosure of 1819, the village was surrounded by its open fields (see map on p. 198). (fn. 29) They were bounded to the south by Northfield Brook, so named from the north field of Garsington whence it came. It was called 'Lidging well' in 1605 and later. (fn. 30) Between it and the village lay West, South, Lower or Town Fields. Lake Field, farther east, lay by the stream flowing southwards into Northfield Brook. Furlongs in it were named after Chose-well Lane; this is the 'Chowleswell lane' of 1605, now Spring Lane, running to a spring known as 'Chawdwell' in 1512. (fn. 31) Another path from the village led past this spring across Northfield Brook to the Minchery—the farm on the site of Littlemore Priory, just outside the parish. Little Field was near this spring, and beyond it—the site of the sewage farm—Loddenham or Ladenham, stretching to the Roman road. This outlying field was perhaps first taken in as pasture and meadow (as the suffix '-ham' suggests), and put under the plough as population grew. There was still common pasture here at the time of the inclosure. The northern boundary of these fields was Long Lane, leading to Garsington, and beyond lay Broad Field, the biggest, with at least seventeen furlongs. 'Graft furlong' here was apparently really a small field with furlongs within it. (fn. 32)
The chief meadows, by Northfield Brook, and along the Thames towards Iffley, were 'Nye Mead', 'Balden', 'Wig Mead', and 'Mareshease'; the last two were held by lot in the 18th century. There were old inclosures at the north end of Nye Mead, and a strip on its east side was called Nye Mead close. In 1605 a little brook or ditch ran parallel to the river here, probably turning into the river near Iffley as 'Nye Mead Ditch', the lower end of the Iffley fishery. Then there was 'Lag Mead' and 'Lilhams'; a narrow strip of common along Northfield Brook; and common out in Ladenham. (fn. 33)
The early history of the manor of LITTLEMORE—1 knight's fee in the honor of Leicester—is obscure. Littlemore is not mentioned by name in Domesday; but it is probably represented by the 4 hides in Sandford, given by Edward the Confessor to Earl Godwin (fn. 34) and after the earl's death to Abingdon Abbey. (fn. 35) In 1086 these were held of the abbey by Wenric, like the other 10 hides of Sandford, (fn. 36) but they are not found in Sandford later. Somehow, perhaps in the disorders of Stephen's reign, the abbey lost this estate to the Beaumont earls of Leicester. (fn. 37)
In the late 12th century the manor was perhaps held under the Beaumonts by William Caisun. He confirmed a grant to the Templars by Walo de Bray (either his tenant or his predecessor as lord of the manor), of land in Littlemore as the site of a mill, (fn. 38) which never seems to have been built.
In 1204 Robert de Meisnil had this knight's fee, for which he was sued by Hugh Poer (fn. 39)—probably of Charlton, younger brother of Genteschieve le Poure, (fn. 40) but possibly a descendant of the younger Beaumont brother, Hugh Poer, who lapsed into obscurity in Stephen's reign. (fn. 41) A few years before this lawsuit, Robert de Meisnil had confirmed to Littlemore Priory his father Ralph's gift of land and rent in Littlemore; (fn. 42) probably Ralph de Meisnil had held the manor after William Caisun.
Before 1219, however, the manor must have escheated, for Countess Margaret of Winchester, coheir of the Leicester estates and widow of Earl Saer de Quincey, granted all her Littlemore land for 1 knight's service to Roger de St. Andrew. (fn. 43) He and his brother Saer de St. Andrew, of East Haddon (Leics.), were close connexions of the de Quinceys, the late earl being their uncle. (fn. 44) Roger had William de Breaute, Fawkes's brother, as his tenant in Littlemore for a term. (fn. 45) In 1223–4 Roger was sued for the fee by Jordan de Walkerville. (fn. 46) Jordan held at Soberton (fn. 47) (Hants); he must have had some connexion with the Poers or the Meisnils—probably the latter, for a Robert de Meisnil had land in Hampshire in 1195–6, (fn. 48) and a William de Meynill witnessed Jordan's agreement with Roger. He quitclaimed for 33 marks. (fn. 49) In 1235–6 Roger de St. Andrew was recorded as tenant of a knight's fee in Littlemore of the fee of the Earl of Winchester in the honor of Leicester. (fn. 50) Shortly after this (perhaps because of his debts) (fn. 51) he granted the manor to the Templars (fn. 52) (who already probably had a subtenancy here from Walo de Bray) saving some land already given to Garendon Abbey (fn. 53) (which was of the de Quinceys' patronage), and 8s. rent to Littlemore Priory. This rent was probably made up of the 3s. given by Ralph de Meisnil (fn. 54) and the 5s. given by Saer de St. Andrew (perhaps as Roger's tenant). (fn. 55) All services were quitclaimed by the earl. (fn. 56)
In the 1255 Hundred Rolls the 4 hides were held of the Earl of Leicester by the Templars; (fn. 57) the 1279 Rolls add to this that some land had been given to Garendon Abbey by Roger de St. Andrew but was now held by the Templars. (fn. 58) This was since a transaction of 1274 by which Garendon surrendered its land here to the Templars. (fn. 59) After the Templars' suppression in 1312 the manor passed to the Hospitallers. (fn. 60) They granted to Robert FitzNiel (d. 1331), lord of Iffley, £15 rent for life from Littlemore and Cowley, said to be held of the Earl of Lancaster. (fn. 61) Only Littlemore was in fact held of him, as of the honor of Leicester; but Littlemore did not by itself produce £15 in rent. (fn. 62) Littlemore and Temple Cowley manors together might just have done so; probably all the rents of both manors had been granted temporarily to the lord of Iffley, until the Hospitallers could get their administration into working order.
In 1528 Littlemore manor was leased, like Temple Cowley, to Cardinal Wolsey for his college. (fn. 63) In 1530 it came to the king's hands. (fn. 64) In 1541 the Hospitallers were dissolved; thereafter the manor probably continued to be associated with that of Temple Cowley, and in 1564 it was granted by the queen to Sir Francis Knollys and his wife in tail. (fn. 65) His son held the manor until 1627, when the king granted the fee-farm rents of Littlemore to his queen in dower. (fn. 66) The queen's lands were sold in 1650, (fn. 67) but it is not known who were the lords of Littlemore in the remaining years of the 17th century. In the early 18th century the estate passed with Temple Cowley to George Phipps. His descendant, James Phipps, Rector of Elvetham (Hants) left them to Pembroke College. (fn. 68) The property of Littlemore, subject to payment of fee-farm rents, has now largely been redeemed. Among other sites, it included 'St. George's', the old 'Marlborough Head', Newman's cottages, and the holding belonging to Merton College. In 1819, Pembroke exchanged with Oriel all the land in Littlemore which the inclosure award gave the latter in lieu of waste and common. (fn. 69)
The early history of the Lincoln College property has already been traced. (fn. 70) In 1674 it was separated from the college's estate in Iffley and leased to Stephen Field (d. 1727), (fn. 71) who was succeeded by John Allin, whose family had been connected with Littlemore for over a hundred years (fn. 72). Their descendant Richard Allin was holding the Lincoln farm together with a great deal of other property in Littlemore, as late as 1790, the year of his death. Then it passed to his nephew, Richard Allin, a Littlemore farmer, who was still holding it in 1830. (fn. 73)
In 1279 Robert the smith, of Littlemore, held a messuage and 4 acres, (fn. 74) later known as 'Smithsplace'; this was the basic family holding, enough for the working smith of the village. But his lord Robert FitzNiel granted him more land, making up two half-virgates and 2 messuages, part of which probably constituted the old holding of Geoffrey del Pec; (fn. 75) one messuage was later called 'Peksplace'. Half this land was bought as maritagium for Robert the smith's daughter, who married a John FitzNiel, (fn. 76) perhaps an illegitimate son of the lord of the manor. John had a son Robert, (fn. 77) but the land evidently returned to the smiths from whom it came.
Robert the smith was succeeded by Thomas le Smyth. (fn. 78) It is not clear whether he worked as a smith. He held in Littlemore the two half-virgates and messuages, 'Peksplace' and one later called 'Roger atte Crouch's', with the original small-holding, 'Smithsplace'. These were all close together (fn. 79) at the north corner of the village; (fn. 80) and the adjoining furlong in Iffley field was later called 'Smithcroft furlong'. (fn. 81)
Besides this Thomas was granted by Robert FitzNiel a messuage and a half-virgate in Church Cowley, in free tenure, originally held in villeinage by Richard Doget, (fn. 82) and later known as 'Dogetsplace'. (fn. 83) And in Church Iffley—Iffley village itself—he acquired a messuage and toft and a little arable, which he entailed on his daughter Alice and her issue, (fn. 84) who apparently kept it. Besides these substantial freeholds, he leased land in Cowley and meadow in Littlemore or Sandford, from the de Sandford family. (fn. 85)
Thomas made various settlements on his family, (fn. 86) but the whole Littlemore estate came ultimately to one of his sons, Robert Gamage. (fn. 87) He had it entailed on his and his wife's issue in the mid-14th century, (fn. 88) but in 1370 settled it all on his wife's son Thomas Gamage, calling the holdings 'Smithsplace', 'Peksplace' and 'Wormenhall's' or 'Roger atte Crouch's place'. (fn. 89) The latter had once been held by Thomas Wormenhall of Oxford, (fn. 90) probably a sister's husband.
Thomas Gamage and his mother held the land until about 1400, making various settlements (fn. 91) including an arrangement by which the mother gave up her life-interest for her board and allowance and a room of her own. (fn. 92) This suggests that a fair-sized house had been built instead of the two or three hovels. In 1420 a younger Thomas Gamage conveyed the estate to an Oxford burgess, (fn. 93) who granted it three years later to the yeoman Robert Hye of Church Cowley. (fn. 94)
Meanwhile 'Dogetsplace' had reverted to Robert Gamage in 1349, (fn. 95) probably from a sister; (fn. 96) but Gamage alienated it next year, (fn. 97) and it passed through several hands, (fn. 98) ending finally with Robert Hye in 1428. (fn. 99)
Hye had thus acquired all the Smith estates in Littlemore and Church Cowley. He made a conveyance of them in 1435, (fn. 100) probably for a family settlement. In 1501 William Hye of Marston granted the whole to his daughter Juliana and her husband, Edward Mortimer, (fn. 101) mercer of Oxford. (fn. 102) Juliana later married Austin Gainsford. In 1523 her lands were divided amongst her coheirs, of whom the Masons, of Drayton (Leics.), (fn. 103) had the Cowley and Littlemore lands. In 1525–6 (fn. 104) the Masons sold them to Robert Morwent, later President of Corpus Christi College, From then onwards the college held the estate. A survey of it was made for them in 1605. (fn. 105) Prominent local families figure among the college tenants. In 1744 Richard Blay, an Oxford innkeeper and tenant of the estate, conveyed it in trust for four daughters. The estate was divided among the descendants of these daughters, but eventually the survivors sold the leasehold to James Haines, who was holding it in 1819, when at the inclosure he received additional land adjoining his house. By 1848 it had passed to the Greening family, and at the end of the century to the Martins of Sandford. (fn. 106) The Martins still occupy the property, which is now a market-garden.
As appropriator of the rectory of St. Mary's, Oriel College had besides the tithes of Littlemore manor a little property in Iffley manor in Littlemore; and from St. Bartholomew's Hospital it received a few acres in Cowley and Iffley of the Burgan fee, which subsequently went with the Littlemore farm. (fn. 107) The former property consisted of half an acre and a messuage in Littlemore, which the Rector of St. Mary's had bought from Walter, son of Hugh Sered, in the 13th century, (fn. 108) and which was later held of the Thursteyns of Marston, (fn. 109) and a small plot bought from the Stubs. (fn. 110) In the mid-14th century the Thursteyns and Stubs quitclaimed the rents due. (fn. 111) The messuage perhaps became the tithe-farmer's house, called the 'parsonage' house in the 17th century, (fn. 112) in the south-eastern part of the village. (fn. 113) The rest of the land was probably the site of the tithe-barns mentioned in 1535. (fn. 114) Oriel farmed out the tithes for varying terms of years, sometimes to ex-fellows, sometimes to substantial landowners of the neighbourhood, such as Bernard Kennington in 1437, William Parsons, a prospective tenant in 1532, (fn. 115) or Robert James, in 1541, who was to have first refusal. (fn. 116)
In 1554 John Edwards was in possession. (fn. 117) His descendants probably continued to live in the parsonage house for several generations, since Wood mentions John Edwards, a fellow of Merton, as being impropriator of Littlemore and living in the parsonage house in 1681. (fn. 118) At this time the estate consisted of 10½ acres in Littlemore, Cowley, and Iffley, which the lessee of the rectorial tithes had apparently sublet from time immemorial.
In 1736 Margaret Edwards was Oriel's tenant, (fn. 119) but in 1743 Martha Norgrove succeeded her, while she became undertenant. In the following year they assigned the lease, for £650, to Thomas Leaver, an Oxford chemist. The Revd. W. Hawkins and John Herbert were Oriel's tenants in 1757, and in 1772 Leaver's widow Elizabeth, who had probably become undertenant, granted the subtenancy to James Phipps. Hawkins was holding the chief lease alone in 1785, when he declared that the property should continue to be held by Phipps, or his representatives, Pembroke College. In 1818, when Pembroke were tenants, the Bursar of Oriel attempted to identify the property exactly. Richard Costard was tenant in 1819, (fn. 120) and in 1849 it was leased to a Mr. Waddell at £213 per annum. Much of the land was later taken over for a sewage farm by the Oxford Local Board, (fn. 121) but a small part of the land awarded to the college at the inclosure was granted in 1835 for the site of the church and burial ground. A road leading past the modern vicarage was excepted from this lease, but a right of way to it was granted to the Oxford Local Board in 1880. (fn. 122)
Economic and Social History.
The community of Littlemore in the medieval period was small, perhaps comprising 7 households in 1086, (fn. 123) and in 1279 about 16 households in the Littlemore manor and 10 or 12 in that of Iffley. (fn. 124) About 25 names appear in the taxation lists of 1316 and 1327, (fn. 125) apparently for the whole village. In 1524 only 8 taxpayers were assessed at over £1 in goods, (fn. 126) and in 1558 6 or 7 were assessed at £6 and over. (fn. 127) For the 1665 Hearth Tax only 15 houses were returned, of which one had 6 and four 4 hearths. (fn. 128) Ten residents paid land tax in 1785, while 17 landowners were non-resident. (fn. 129) According to the census reports the population was 259 in 1801, rising to 425 in 1831, but Newman, writing to the Provost of Oriel, said that the census of 1831 had been made very casually in the neighbourhood and that it was impossible to say what was the population of St. Mary's in that year. (fn. 130) He estimated the population at about 300 in 1828, and a private census of Littlemore taken in 1851 gives 357 in St. Mary's and 212 in Iffley (fn. 131)—a total of 569. This is to be compared with the official census figure for that year, which includes the inmates of the mental hospital, and gives a total of 947. (fn. 132)
The assessment of the population in the later 19th century becomes yet more complex owing to the changing of area of the parish. In 1891 the census records a population of 1,362 and in 1901, of 1,593, in both cases including the hospital under St. Mary's. The population in 1931 was 2,387, partly owing to the increased numbers in the Oxford County Mental Hospital.
The bulk of the medieval village constituted Littlemore manor. If correctly identified (fn. 133) it was a small and perhaps quite a new settlement in 1086, only just beginning to exploit the land. There were seven peasants, with only one plough, on land considered enough for five ploughs; and no demesne is mentioned. (fn. 134)
Later the manor was developed. In the late 12th century its hallmoot is mentioned, meeting on one occasion with those of Iffley, Cowley, and Headington, (fn. 135) perhaps at a hundred court; while under the Templars it became a privileged manor, owing no suit to the hundred but only to the Templars' court, and being free of tolls in all royal towns. (fn. 136) In 1279 the whole 4 hides were said to be held by customary tenants. (fn. 137) These hides were evidently roughly territorial, in fact 16 virgates (fn. 138) of roughly 30 acres each; so there may have been 16 virgaters, or smaller tenants. They rendered for each virgate 10s. rent and one day's work in autumn. (fn. 139) This fairly high rent and very little labour suggest either early commutation (probably on top of old rents) or that there had never been any regular labour services. (Some dues may be omitted, and the 10s. may stand for work sometimes or always performed, but the opposite convention is more usual in the Hundred Rolls). (fn. 140) There may never have been any demesne to work. Roger de St. Andrew, lord before the Templars, had a reeve, (fn. 141) perhaps to organize work, but perhaps only to collect dues and rents. The Templars and Hospitallers evidently had no demesne here; the harvest work was probably either always commuted, or done in emergencies on the Cowley or Sandford demesnes.
In 1338 the Hospitallers were said to receive £7 18s. 8d. in assize rents here, (fn. 142) which suggests rent at the 1279 rate from 15 or 16 virgates. In 1512 the customary tenants still held about 15½ virgates, but the rent had been raised to 24s. 1d. for a virgate with two 'bederepes' in autumn, or 4d. (fn. 143) Perhaps the Hospitallers imposed this rise soon after the 1338 report; it is unlikely to have been much later.
In 1526 the rents were valued at £18 and were actually £19 4s. 7d., (fn. 144) which seems about right from the holdings reported in 1512. In 1530–1 there was said to be a capital messuage, but this is probably only common form; there were also 12 messuages and a cottage (2 more than reported in 1512), 456 acres of arable with 30 acres of meadow, and 70 of pasture. (fn. 145)
The heriot was said in 1493 to be the best beast, or 6s. 8d. By that time the best beast was probably usually more worth taking than the money; John Colyn's widow had a horse worth 40s., which she gave as heriot and immediately bought back, presumably for a sum nearer its value than 6s. 8d. (fn. 148)
In the mid-15th century the rent that Oriel took from its tithe-farmers dropped slightly, (fn. 149) suggesting a lower yield from this manor, from less production or lower prices.
Meanwhile a group of the Littlemore villagers were tenants of Iffley manor; in the 13th century it seems to have included most of the freemen of Iffley manor. (fn. 150) In 1279 the free tenants included Thomas son of Thurstan, a Marston freeholder; (fn. 151) the Choch or Garsington family, and under them a Baldon man, (fn. 152) Robert de Louches; (fn. 153) Ralph de Sandford, lord of much land in Sandford and Nuneham; (fn. 154) and Richard de Sandford, of a lesser family, (fn. 155) whose son and heir Thomas may have acquired the Burgan fee for a time. (fn. 156) Smaller freemen included the Thorbarns, still there in 1388, (fn. 157) the Stubs, (fn. 158) and Martin Jordan, (fn. 159) whose escheated holding was later added to the Iffley mill estate. (fn. 160)
The village smith of 1279, Robert, founded a big and widely connected family which held land in Iffley parish for over a century; (fn. 161) but the other free families are lost sight of in the 14th century, some of their lands probably passing to the Stanlakes of Witney. (fn. 162) The Stanlakes' estate, largely in Littlemore, was developed during the years 1331–48, and new buildings set up there. (fn. 163) The substantial free tenants in Littlemore in the 15th century, all in Iffley parish, were successive purchasers of this big estate before Lincoln College acquired it. They included Thomas Cowley; (fn. 164) the Hyes, who also had the old Smith estates; and the Dentons, successors perhaps of the de Louches or de Sandfords. (fn. 165)
Meanwhile in the Hospitallers' manor, although there were no freeholders, some of the customary tenants were men of substance. A survey of 1512 (fn. 166). shows that out of the 14 tenants, 5 held 1½ or 2 virgates each, 6 held a virgate, 1 a cottage with odd acres, and there were two small holdings apparently without houses. One or two tenants certainly, others probably, held land elsewhere: Richard Ball or Bell was probably the farmer in 1517 of a small holding in the Lincoln College estate. (fn. 167) Otherwise it seems a fairly homogeneous society in point of land held. But their wealth varied considerably. Ten years later, of the 8 men paying the lay subsidy, 4 were said to have goods worth between £5 and £2, while 4 made annual gains (wages in one case) put at 20s. (fn. 168)
There may have been landless cottagers on this manor, left out of all the surveys from 1279 onwards, but there is no evidence of them. Perhaps the late settlement and development prevented much pressure on the land. (fn. 169)
Among the tenants who in 1512 had lately held in the manor were nine who seem to have left no children of their own name holding in Littlemore though they included a Pulker and a Day, families which long flourished in the neighbourhood. Their successors included a Stokker (of a later Iffley family), John Carter (a substantial Sandford tenant, and lessee of the fishery), and the Prioress of Littlemore. (fn. 170) Four other recent tenants had left kinsmen holding elsewhere in the manor, including Morrises (numerous in the neighbourhood); (fn. 171) but their actual successors were of other surnames. Only Richard Smith had been succeeded in his holding by his son, John Smith. One of these tenants, John Reve, was the richest man in the parish in 1522. (fn. 172)
Some of the medieval families, like the Dentons, remain prominent in the 16th century, but it was a period of change, and in the 17th century new families, mostly from the neighbourhood, settled in the village. Among the wealthier families were the Bleas, or Blays, and the Greenings. A Blea had been well-to-do in 1522; one was a weaver in 1639; (fn. 173) in the subsidy of 1663 they were assessed, with Widow Smith, at £3 in lands. (fn. 174) They were tenants of Corpus farm and in 1665 their house with six hearths was the largest in the village. (fn. 175) Their descendants were living in Iffley and Littlemore at the end of the 19th century. (fn. 176) The Greening family moved into the village in about 1650. During the 18th and early 19th centuries they lived at the socalled Manor House. (fn. 177) Another prosperous villager was William Benwell, a yeoman, and the tenant of a house worth 30s. a year in 1625. (fn. 178) The Bussons and the Browns were established in the village by this time, while the Fields and Allins were already rising farmers. (fn. 179) In the 18th and early 19th centuries the Browns, the Greenings, the Allins, and later the Costards, became the leading farmers in the village, buying up or leasing old copyhold and freehold lands as they fell in; even before the inclosure the number of small occupying owners had greatly declined, for in 1785 out of 27 persons paying land tax, 17 were not occupying. (fn. 180)
Malting was one of the chief subsidiary occupations. There were several malt houses in the village. 'St. George's', for instance, was owned by Thomas Kimber at the end of the 17th century and then by the Clerks; (fn. 181) the 'Malt House', now destroyed, stood near the present railway line to the west of the Oxford road, and was occupied by Richard Allin in the later 18th century. (fn. 182)
There is little mention of other occupations than farming. There were several smiths in the medieval village, (fn. 183) and later a forge formed part of the Alice Smith Charity estate. (fn. 184) In 1707 a smith, John Brown, was paid for his work on the lock. (fn. 185) The smithy was closed in 1924. (fn. 186) In 1819 most of the population still worked as farm labourers or owned small-holding of their own, (fn. 187) and as late as 1851 the census returns record agricultural labourers. (fn. 188) By 1899 farms had largely been replaced by six marketgardens. (fn. 189)
There seems to have been comparatively little poverty. In 1830 it was said that there were not more than a dozen poor persons in the village, perhaps on account of the local Friendly Society with its membership of 64. (fn. 190)
A new element in the population appeared in the early 19th century. It was said to originate from those who settled on the 'Moor' to the north of the village, (fn. 191) probably attracted to the neighbourhood by the growing demand for casual labour. At the end of the century they still constituted a distinct and unsatisfactory group, the men often idle and the women supplementing their wages by work in the laundry. (fn. 192) At election time they provided a strong radical element. Drunkenness was common, especially among the women, and a local temperance society did valuable work. (fn. 193)
While the Littlemore tenants of Iffley manor were parishioners of Iffley, Littlemore manor was attached to the parish of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford. The origin of this connexion is obscure. It is first explicitly stated in 1341, (fn. 194) but in the 13th century the rector of St. Mary's had land in Littlemore, probably the site of his tithe-barn, (fn. 195) and the connexion is almost certainly older than this; (fn. 196) it probably survived from pre-Conquest times, when town churches served distant villages. After Oriel College acquired the rectory of St. Mary's the Littlemore tithes were farmed out.
It is not clear whether the Littlemore villagers had to go to St. Mary's church for the sacraments or ever regularly attended there. During the 18th century the village suffered pastoral neglect; but all this passed when J. H. (later Cardinal) Newman was presented in 1828 to the living of St. Mary's, with which went the cure of Littlemore. Early in 1829 he began evening classes there and by September he was considering dividing the duty of St. Mary's from Littlemore, (fn. 197) a scheme bitterly opposed by Oriel. In 1835 Newman presented to the provost and fellows a petition, signed by 295 people, including all but one of the householders of Littlemore. The college capitulated and voted a site for a chapel and burial ground 'up to half an acre'. (fn. 198) Opposition also came from the Iffley authorities, especially the parish clerk, who was afraid of losing his burial and other fees. (fn. 199)
Between 1836 and 1840 Newman and his successive curates worked hard in the village and in 1840 he stayed there all Lent. (fn. 200) At this time he was considering building a small monastic establishment, his [moni] for which he and Charles Marriott bought a 10-acre field near the chapel, (fn. 201) 2 acres of which he planted with trees, but the chance to lease and con vert a range of farm buildings at the corner of Cowley Road and College Lane (fn. 202) put an end to the need to build. In 1841 Newman was much at Littlemore, at the house now called 'St. George's', seeing to the alterations. (fn. 203) In April 1842 he left Oxford to live for three years in his new home, with a few companions, under a rule of strict monastic discipline, and there he was received into the Church of Rome by Father Dominic, who described the house as 'a building which has more the look of a barn than a dwelling house—divided so as to form so many little cells'. (fn. 204) In February 1846 Newman left Littlemore for good. 'Oxford is not to me in the 20 to 30 years I have been there more or less, what Littlemore has been for 4 or 6,' (fn. 205) he wrote to Mrs. William Froude, 'I came into this house by myself . . . and now, so be it, I shall go out by myself, having found rest.'
When Newman left Littlemore, his friend, Charles Marriott, took over the lease of his cottages, and in June 1846 they were sold to Charles Crawley, who gave them to the church to augment the benefice. In 1951 the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory bought the property for £2,000 to vest in the Oratory trust as a permanent memorial to Newman.
In July 1847 Charles Crawley persuaded Oriel to make Littlemore a separate ecclesiastical parish; (fn. 206) and he at first held the patronage, since Oriel, having long refused to let the church be anything but a chapel-of-ease of St. Mary's, was unwilling to act as patron. Later the college presented alternately with the Crawley family until 1939, when it became the sole patron. (fn. 207) The living is a vicarage with a net annual value of £493 in 1953. (fn. 208) The vicarage house was built by Charles Crawley and was in process of erection in 1852. (fn. 209)
The foundation stone of the CHURCH OF ST. MARY AND ST. NICHOLAS was laid by Newman's mother on 21 July 1835; (fn. 210) the chapel was consecrated on 22 September 1836. (fn. 211) H. J. Underwood was commissioned as architect, and estimated the cost at £650. (fn. 212) The church was a rectangular building with buttresses, a west door and belfry above, four long narrow windows on the north and south sides, and a three-light east window with trefoil light above, set in a very small sanctuary. (fn. 213) The austere interior was somewhat similar in detail to the Unitarian chapel at Banbury, also built by Underwood. It was much admired, and was selected by J. H. Parker as a model in his series of plans for modern churches. (fn. 214) Newman secured the bowl of an old stone font from St. Mary's, believing that generations of Littlemore children had been baptized in it. He also built a stone altar at the east end. (fn. 215)
In 1837, J. R. Bloxam, 'the father of all ritualistics', as Lord Blachford described him, (fn. 216) became curate, and Newman gave him a free hand in embellishing the church. (fn. 217) Plans for the enlargement of the building, made about 1846, show the additions of a chancel, a tower, and spire at the south-west corner of the nave, with a lych-gate at the entrance to the churchyard. (fn. 218) The architect was Joseph Clarke. The enlarged church, to the cost of which Charles Crawley had generously contributed, was completed in 1848, with the exception of the spire which was never built, as the tower proved insufficient to support its weight. (fn. 219) Newman called the new church a 'gem'. (fn. 220)
In 1885, the belfry, a part of the original church, was removed, but the bell, supplied in November 1848 by Messrs. Mears of Whitechapel Bellfoundry, is still in use. (fn. 221) To mark the centenary of Newman's birth in 1901, a crucifix, carved in Oberammergau, was given by the American poetess, Louise Imogen Guinney. In 1913 a carved wooden chancel-screen, designed by F. H. Crossley, was added, surmounted by wooden figures carved in Oberammergau. The carved screen before the west door was given in 1909; the font-cover in memory of Mrs. Jeffries in 1924. A priest's vestry was built in 1918, and a few years later tiles were substituted for the original slates from Stonesfield on the nave roof. (fn. 222) There is a memorial to Mrs. Newman (d. 1836) by R. Westmacott jnr., erected by her son; (fn. 223) memorials to the dead of both World Wars were set up in 1950.
The windows of Newman's church were originally of clear glass except for a single red pane at the east end, but in 1840 Bloxam gave the glass for the three large lights in the east window and probably that for the two most easterly of the side windows. Thomas Willement was responsible for the figures of the Virgin, St. Nicholas, and the four Evangelists in the east window and the passion and resurrection depicted in the other two. He also made four other windows in the nave, given by the 'good men', 'good wives', 'maidens', and 'bachelors' of the parish. (fn. 224) Willement himself gave the glass for the quatrefoil above the lancet windows at the west end of the church. (fn. 225) The effect of all this richly coloured glass was to make the church very dark and Newman proposed extra windows under the roof as a remedy. When the new chancel was added, it seems that the glass from the original east window was reused.
The Revd. Vernon T. Green, Vicar 1872–96, inserted two windows of clear glass with only a single central figure, said to be the work of William Morris, in the north-east and south-east end of the nave, in order to lighten the church. (fn. 226) With the same object the old east window was removed in 1900, and the second and third windows on the north side of the nave were replaced by two windows executed by Messrs. Shrigley and Hunt of Lancaster. (fn. 227) The east window was designed by Lewis Davis, and a part of 'St. George's' appears in his design. (fn. 228)
The plate comprises a number of 19th-century pieces, (fn. 229) some the gifts of Joshua Watson and J. W. Bowden, friends of Newman.
A small group of Roman Catholics at Littlemore survived at least until the early 18th century. The Kimbers of 'St. George's' (fn. 230) were the most notable. A Jesuit priest of that name was born in the county in 1688, and in 1715 Thomas Kimber, who held property in Holywell and Littlemore worth £47, was listed as a non-juror. (fn. 231) In 1694 Ann Day, Ann Smith, and John Littlemore were presented as recusants, and Travers Smith in 1697. (fn. 232) A Roman Catholic family called Woodmason was living at Littlemore in Newman's time. (fn. 233) In the present century Roman Catholic services were held in the Boy Scouts' Clubroom at Littlemore until Newman Hall was opened in 1948 as a place of worship.
It was stated in 1808 that there were 'a few dissenters at Littlemore who call themselves Baptists. They are occasionally visited by a Mr. Hinton of Oxford and sometimes . . . by a person from Abingdon' (probably the Revd. Daniel Turner). (fn. 234) Hinton was minister of the New Road Baptist Chapel and had begun to preach in Littlemore in or about 1804. His services were so well attended that it was decided to erect a small chapel. Mr. Pasco, a fellow Baptist, left £100 towards it, and the chapel was opened in 1807. (fn. 235) Newman came into contact with Hinton's son while curate of St. Clement's, and wrote in 1824, 'There is too much irreligion in the place for me to be so mad as to drive away so active an ally as Mr. Hinton seems to be.' (fn. 236)
Littlemore Church school was erected, probably in 1838, (fn. 237) by Newman on a site bought by him, at the entrance of the churchyard. By 1851 (fn. 238) the school had become affiliated to the National Society. In 1904 a separate infants' school, and in 1941, a senior school, in temporary buildings, were opened by the county authority. The senior school's permanent building was completed in 1948, and in 1949 was recognized as the Northfield mixed secondary modern school. (fn. 239) In 1953 the attendance was 403 and the staff 22. (fn. 240) In 1933 the Church school was reorganized as a junior school, and in 1949 was moved to Lawn Upton House—previously used as a home for delinquent girls run by the Clewer Community of Nuns. (fn. 241) In 1952 the attendance was 270. (fn. 242)
Littlemore had no charities of its own, but the poor of Littlemore had a share in Iffley's charities (fn. 243) and presumably in those of the parish of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford.