A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5, Bullingdon Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1957.
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The ancient parish of St. Clement's, which lay outside the East Gate of Oxford, was annexed to the city in 1836 (fn. 1) by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835. (fn. 2) In 1881 its area was estimated at 261 acres, (fn. 3) though earlier it had been reckoned, probably inaccurately, to be much larger. (fn. 4) The River Cherwell formed the boundary from Magdalen Bridge to King's Mill. The boundary separating St. Clement's from Headington to the east and Cowley to the south extended up Headington Hill as far as Pullen's Lane and followed the line of Gipsy Lane and Divinity Road to the Cowley Road. (fn. 5) Some outlying pieces of land in Cowley Fields appear to have belonged to the parish; the Rector of St. Clement's claimed tithes from Ridge Field, south-west of St. Bartholomew's, and was compensated for them in 1849, and the Cowley Inclosure Award of 1853 refers to part of Cowley Marsh as being in St. Clement's. Most of the area is low-lying with the stiff clay soil of the Cherwell Valley, but eastwards the land rises sharply to a height of 300 ft. on the gravel uplands of Headington Hill.
The eastern approaches to Oxford converged in the main street of St. Clement's parish, carrying not only the London traffic destined for Oxford, Woodstock, and the west, but the loads of Shotover timber and Headington stone required for Oxford buildings. The steep gradient of Headington Hill, the difficult subsoil of the valley and its liability to flood added to the problems of maintenance. For all these reasons the upkeep of the highways in St. Clement's was a matter of more than parochial interest. Richard II made three grants of pavage for the repairs of the road from Cherwell Bridge to Headington Hill, 'no one being bound to do the same, it is said, except out of charity'. (fn. 6) Charitable bequests were made from time to time for this purpose, notably by John Claymond, first President of Corpus, in 1530. (fn. 7) Wolsey improved the road from Headington High Cross to give easier transport for the building materials needed for Cardinal College. (fn. 8) Elizabeth's Mileways Act laid upon householders living within five miles the obligation to contribute to the mileways leading from Magdalen Bridge; but the Act was ineffective after the reign of James I. (fn. 9) The city from time to time in its own interests contributed to the cost of repairs, though acknowledging no obligation to do so, and the university raised subscriptions for the same cause. None of these provisions exonerated the parishioners from their own obligations and fines for failure to provide carts, stones, and labour for road repairs were frequently exacted both in the manor court and at Quarter Sessions. (fn. 10)
A reconstruction of the road from St. Clement's church to the foot of Headington Hill in 1682 is described by Anthony Wood; it was pitched with pebbles in the middle with hard white stone on either side. (fn. 11) In 1725 the more difficult task of paving 'the great hollow way' up the hill was attempted, 'a laudable thing', according to Hearne. (fn. 12) Hitherto, he says, the road had been 'very rough and uneven, hardly giving passage to horses, coaches and waggons', though paved with flags of Headington hardstone. (fn. 13) It was because of the state of the road that members of the university subscribed to make the raised footpath which still exists on the left-hand side of the road so that even in bad weather they could enjoy the walk to Joe Pullen's tree at the top of the hill. (fn. 14) The stump of this elm, 'immortalized in the Reform Act' (fn. 15) (since it marked the boundary of the Parliamentary borough) survived until 1909. (fn. 16) It was planted by Dr. Josiah Pullen of Magdalen Hall, vicar of St. Peter's-in-the-East, who died in 1714. Hearne says that four yews were planted round it in 1725. (fn. 17) From this pleasant spot it was possible to enjoy an uninterrupted view of Oxford, for the trees on Headington Hill had been felled in the Civil War lest they should give cover to the enemy. (fn. 18) Dr. Pullen himself would walk there and back twice daily in half an hour from Magdalen Hall, (fn. 19) sometimes accompanied by Richard Steele, the essayist, who attributed his 'florid old age' to his 'constant morning-walks up Hedington hill in his [Pullen's] cheerful company'. (fn. 20) Shortly before 1831 an alternative footpath up the back of Headington Hill was constructed for the use of members of the university. (fn. 21)
The Mileways Act of 1771 made revolutionary changes by establishing a turnpike and by reconstructing the approaches to Magdalen Bridge. (fn. 22) The road to Headington and Forest Hill now became the main road to London via High Wycombe, in place of the older road through Cheyney Lane, (fn. 23) Shotover, and Wheatley. The alternative route to London via Henley had hitherto been approached by a turning off the Cowley Road towards St. Bartholomew's. (fn. 24) A new road (the modern Iffley Road), designed to give direct access to Magdalen Bridge, was cut through the most thickly populated part of the village; the demolition of so many houses gave rise to strong local opposition. The new turnpike house was built on the Plain, on the site of the present fountain, to control two gates, one closing the Headington road, and the other closing both Cowley and Iffley roads. (fn. 25) The turnpike was let on a three-years' lease for sums varying from £1,260 to £1,781 per annum, according to the yield of the previous three years. (fn. 26) The competition of the railway began to be sharply felt after 1837; by 1845 the value of the tolls had fallen to £623, and the turnpike was abolished in 1868. (fn. 27) Meanwhile the city had in 1831 taken over responsibility for the paving and lighting of the roads in St. Clement's parish. (fn. 28)
During the rebuilding of Magdalen Bridge in 1771–9 a temporary wooden bridge was built at Milham Ford on the site of an older stone one. (fn. 29) Wood says that it existed in medieval times for the convenience of the canons of St. Frideswide whose grange lay beyond it; certainly Wolsey either built or rebuilt a bridge there to give more direct access to his college from the Headington quarries. Wolsey's bridge was damaged by the severe frost of 1624 and again in the Civil War. Although it was partially restored after 1660, Christ Church preferred to let it fall into decay since market traffic driven across it disturbed the peace of the college. (fn. 30)
The reconstruction of the roads and bridges completed the work of the Civil War in obliterating almost all traces of the old village whose strategic importance to the royalist positions in Oxford is obvious; in it were concentrated the strongest defences of the city and upon these defences were based offensive operations against the enemy positions on Headington Hill. (fn. 31) The fortifications were designed by Richard Rallingson of the Queen's College and were completed in April or May 1643; (fn. 32) their dispositions are most clearly shown in de Gomme's map. (fn. 33) 'A cutt of ground' was made towards the east end of Magdalen Bridge' for letting in the Cherwell river to overflow Christ Church meadows for defence'. (fn. 34) A temporary drawbridge was constructed over the trenches guarding the approaches to the bridge, giving passage for footsoldiers only. (fn. 35) In spite of these precautions, the enemy was successful from time to time in penetrating the defences. In 1645, for example, they carried off cattle from the meadows beside the East Gate. (fn. 36) As a result of these operations 'no parish suffered more severely from the Civil War, many of the houses being demolished to make place for the Works and their gardens and orchards cast up into the bulwarks'. (fn. 37) Sir Samuel Luke's spies reported that 'all moste a whole streete' had been pulled down to make way for the fortifications (fn. 38) and Wood says that all the houses lying outside the line of the defences were demolished to prevent the enemy from taking cover. (fn. 39) Yet the recovery must have been rapid, for Loggan's map of 1675 shows considerably more houses than appear in pre-Civil War maps. (fn. 40)
Among the houses totally destroyed in 1643 was Bolshipton House, the 'capital messuage' of St. Frideswide's manor, which stood on the north side of the High Street nearly opposite the Black Horse Inn; Wood says that it had fallen into decay before the Civil War. The 'Black Horse' (sometimes called the 'Black Nag') is one of the few buildings of the 17th century to survive. (fn. 41) It was for two centuries at least the centre of village life; parochial and manorial business was transacted there and both series of records were kept there. (fn. 42) In front of it stood the stocks and round house. (fn. 43) The Port Mahon Inn dates from the 18th century; the first mention of it is in 1720. It retains some original fireplaces and a dog-gate at the foot of the stairs. (fn. 44) Other inns whose names occur before 1836 are the 'White Lyon' (1685), (fn. 45) the 'Chequers' (1768), (fn. 46) the 'Coach and Horses' (1774), (fn. 47) and the 'Hollybush' (1830). (fn. 48) The inns and ale-houses of the village were at this time a favourite resort of members of the university. Thomas Crosfield, a Fellow of the Queen's College, describes a bull-baiting in 1636. (fn. 49) and Wood mentions a bear-baiting in 1690. (fn. 50) Hearne refers to an annual fair for hiring servants as 'a very meane thing of no other account but for children's baubles'; (fn. 51) but it survived until the 1930's. (fn. 52) Open-air baths designed in the classical style were opened in 1827 and gave their name to Bath Street. (fn. 53) Cherwell Street was the home of Joseph Skelton, the engraver of Oxonia Restaurata, until 1830. (fn. 54)
Outside the village, on the fringes of the parish, there were two water-mills. Boy Mill, on the Cherwell, near Milham Ford, belonged as early as 1143 to the Abbess of Godstow, by gift of Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, although it had originally formed part of St. Frideswide's manor outside the East Gate. (fn. 55) In about 1260 the convent disposed of most of the land adjoining the mill to St. Frideswide's in exchange for lands in Walton and Beaumont, but retained the mill itself and the lane leading to it until 1358. (fn. 56) In that year they granted the remainder of the property consisting of the mill itself and two butts of land known as Mill Acre to St. Frideswide's; it seems that the mill had already ceased to work. (fn. 57) Templars' Mill was another mill on the Cherwell described as lying between Boy Mill and Magdalen Bridge. It was given to the Templars by the Empress Maud about 1146 and had also ceased to work by the 14th century. (fn. 58)
In a meadow lying between Milham Ford and the old parish church was St. Edmund's Well, which began to be venerated shortly after the canonization of St. Edmund (Rich). Higden's Polychronicon records that when St. Edmund was a student at Oxford 'and walkynge in a mede nye to the Universitie' he had a vision of the Christ Child. (fn. 59) It seems probable that the well was popularly supposed to mark the site of this vision. Although the cult was condemned as superstitious by ecclesiastical authority from the end of the 13th century, (fn. 60) it survived until 1630 when Lady Forster gave 40s. towards the preservation of the well. Wood could remember it, but within his lifetime it came to be stopped up and overgrown. (fn. 61)
Three hides beyond Cherwell Bridge were given to St. Frideswide's by Ethelred's charter of 1004. (fn. 62) Their boundaries are described but, with the exception of Hacklingcroft meadow, on which the parish church now stands, the Saxon landmarks are hard to identify. Clearly the benefaction to St. Frideswide's included the greater part of the parish of St. Clement's and extended beyond it into Headington and Cowley; but after the Conquest some of it was lost to other religious houses in Oxford and Henry I's charter of 1122 confirmed St. Frideswide's possession of 2 hides only outside the East Gate. (fn. 63) The bulls of Honorius II and Innocent III state that these 2 hides originally belonged to the royal manor of Headington, (fn. 64) and the relations between the parent manor and St. Frideswide's manor outside the East Gate remained close but undefined. The canons of St. Frideswide's and their tenants were required to do suit and service once a year at the view of frankpledge at Headington. Yet St. Frideswide's held a court of their own in St. Clement's which served also for their tenants in other parishes. Their franchises extended to criminal actions and they were exempt from the jurisdiction of the hundred court. For this reason their manor was itself sometimes called a hundred. (fn. 65)
The manor was usually known as BRUGGESET (Bridset) or BOLSHIPTON (Boldshipton, Bowlshipton). The former name properly belonged to a settlement bordering the narrow street leading to Petty Pont (Magdalen Bridge), the latter to the bovarium (fn. 66) or shippon belonging to the family of Bolles who farmed the demesne in the 13th century. We hear of Walter and Parnel Bolles (c. 1235–40), of Felise (c. 1235) and of Robert, son of Walter (c. 1260–70). (fn. 67) Both manorial names were in common use until the 17th century, when St. Clement's came to be more generally used to describe the township; the older names survived in some curious forms, including St. Bridget's for Bruggeset and Robert Shipton's house for Bolshipton.
In 1279 St. Frideswide's property there was worth only £2 3s. 9d. a year. It consisted of the meadow Hacklingcroft, 28 cottages owing 73½ days' service valued at 6s. 1½d., and the demesne farm of 3 carucates. (fn. 68) When, at the dissolution of St. Frideswide's, the property passed to Cardinal College and to Henry VIII's College, its value was returned as £7 per annum in 1535. (fn. 69) It was afterwards sold to speculators from whom John Brome (or Browne), lord of Headington manor, bought it in 1547. What he purchased consisted of the farm of Bolshipton itself, two inclosures lying between the farm and the church, the meadows of Hacklingcroft and Bolleslees, with other crofts and pastures in the parish of Headington. (fn. 70) This acquisition brought to an end the medieval anomalies in jurisdiction. Thereafter, notwithstanding the subsequent sale of Bolshipton farm, the manorial rights were retained by the lords of Headington, whose court was, as a matter of convenience, usually convened at the Black Horse Inn at St. Clement's. (fn. 71)
Of the Bolleses' successors in the later Middle Ages nothing is known, but the tenant in 1543 was Thomas Atkyns. (fn. 72) He was followed by Thomas Hewster (1547), (fn. 73) Thomas Buckner (1596), and Thomas Tescale (1659). (fn. 74) When Ursula Brome, heiress of George Brome of Holton and Headington, (fn. 75) married Sir Thomas Whorwood and it was found that he had made no provision for her during her father's lifetime, George Brome found it necessary to give them the manor of Bolshipton for their maintenance. (fn. 76) In 1614, shortly after they had inherited the Brome estates, the Whorwoods sold Bolshipton to Richard Lowe, a mercer of London, who was connected by marriage with Edward Stampe, the Whorwoods' steward, and with the Pudseys of Elsfield. (fn. 77) At the time of his death, two years later, Richard Lowe owned 6 messuages, 2 cottages, 1 dovecote, 2 gardens, 2 orchards, and 324 acres in St. Clement's. The property passed to his son Richard, then a minor living in Kensington, whose mother held a third of it in dower. (fn. 78) This Richard Lowe was subsequently summoned to appear before the commissioners sent to Oxford in 1630 for failing to take up his knighthood. (fn. 79) After the demolition of Bolshipton house the property was divided into a number of parcels: four in the later 17th century and six in the 18th century; (fn. 80) the value of the whole farm was estimated in Hearne's time at £300 per annum. (fn. 81) The largest share evidently remained with the Lowes, for William Lowe was responsible for a quarter of the poor-rate in 1754. (fn. 82) Shortly after this date his property was purchased by a Mrs. Smith, who built Headington Hill Hall between 1768 and 1771 (fn. 83) and laid out some of the former pastures as a park. She was still living there in 1819; but by 1831 the property had been purchased by James Morrell, an Oxford brewer, who gradually bought up the other parcels of the old Bolshipton estate. (fn. 84) His descendants continued to live in the parish until the present century.
In so far as the parish of St. Clement's extended beyond the limits of St. Frideswide's manor, it appears to have been rather more closely and continuously linked with the manor of Headington (q.v.). Most of the property belonged to other religious houses, but quit rents were often due to the lord of Headington manor as chief lord of the fee. (fn. 85)
Oseney Abbey held lands in St. Clement's parish by gift of Robert and Henry d'Oilly; in 1297 they collected an annual rent of 41s. 5d. from 18 houses and were entitled to 47 days' service, valued at 3s. 11d., and to 24 hens valued at 3s. Like St. Frideswide's, Oseney owed suit at Headington court, but enjoyed some independent jurisdiction over their own tenants. (fn. 86) Nothing is known of the history of this property after the middle of the 14th century; since there is no mention of it in the Valor Ecclesiasticus (1535), it must have been alienated before the Dissolution. (fn. 87) St. Bartholomew's Hospital also owned five houses in St. Clement's in 1279, two of which subsequently passed to Oriel. Their ownership can be traced from the 12th century to 1777, when they were sold to the turnpike trustees for demolition in the interests of road-widening. (fn. 88)
Economic and Social History.
In the Middle Ages common rights in the valuable water meadows and pastures of the Cherwell valley were enjoyed by several parishes. Conditions here favoured early inclosure and the 16th-century Magdalen deeds throw a little light upon the way in which it was carried out. In 1520, in return for common rights surrendered in 'King's Mill Closes', the college covenanted to pay to each of the parish churches one sheep, or 3s. 4d., and one bushel of malt, or 10d., as the churchwardens might choose, and to maintain the customary stiles and footpaths. (fn. 89) By 1529 the college had disbursed £20 3s. 7d. in payments for surrendered rights and £2 8s. 11d. in costs; but the process was not yet complete and the records of surrendered rights continue in the court rolls until 1597. (fn. 90) The purchase of Bolshipton by the Bromes gave an opportunity for the inclosure of the demesne pastures lying for the most part in St. Clement's parish, but extending also into Headington. In 1565 Sir Christopher Brome bought out the grazing rights of Magdalen and Corpus, and of landowners in parishes as far distant as Garsington and Wood Eaton, and secured their agreement to the inclosure of pastures on either side of Headington Hill, now the grounds of Headington Hill Hall on the one hand and of South Park on the other. He covenanted to contribute 14s. towards any assessment of fifteenths and tenths in Headington or Marston and to relieve the Headington parishioners of their share of the cost of mending the road between St. Clement's and Headington. (fn. 91) The arable lay to the south and west of the Bolshipton inclosures; the names Cowley Field, Bartholomew's Field and West Field may indicate a three-field arrangement. The names of furlongs in use in the 17th century include Over and Nether Prestmore, Huscote, St. Clement's End, Long Hill, and St. Edmund's Furlong. (fn. 92) Davis's map (1797) shows that inclosure had extended beyond the Bolshipton grounds, but some open fields remained.
In common with other parishes within the perambulation of the forest, St. Clement's enjoyed forest rights for which it was compensated in 1662 by the allotment of 55 acres of rough pasture in Burrell Coppice. The farmers of Bolshipton were aggrieved that no separate allotment was made to them, as had been done, for example, in the case of Wick farm in Headington, and their complaint gave rise to an Exchequer inquiry. (fn. 93) From the evidence given it appears that the forest grazing rights had been little used on account of the distance and that the majority were content to let the grazing in Burrell Coppice for £20 per annum and to divide the proceeds among householders who could claim forest rights. At the end of the 18th century a forest right was worth 2s.; the surviving forest rights were purchased by Colonel Miller of Shotover Lodge between 1841 (fn. 94) and 1876. (fn. 95)
The Exchequer inquiry reveals some conflict of interest between the Bolshipton farmers, whose interests were primarily agricultural, and a parish which was rapidly ceasing to be rural. There are indeed some much earlier indications of suburban development. The 12th-century agreement between Oseney and St. Frideswide's takes account of tithe payable on business transactions and of probable building development on the Oseney property. (fn. 96) Thirteenth- and 14th-century leases mention Gilbert the hatter, Samson the plumber, Gilbert the dyer, and John the glover. (fn. 97) But the medieval community must have been very small; in the 14th century Bruggeset made the smallest contribution to national taxation of any parish in Bullingdon Hundred (8s. 8d.) (fn. 98) and the returns to the poll tax of 1377 give only 40 inhabitants above the age of fourteen. (fn. 99)
In the 16th and 17th centuries tradesmen were increasingly attracted to a parish near enough to the city to supply the Oxford market yet remote enough to enable them to escape the restrictions and expenses imposed upon city artisans and shopkeepers. In 1683, when the city was negotiating about its new charter, the council tried to put an end to the cheap competition of St. Clement's by pressing for the parish to be included within the city franchises. To strengthen their case they forwarded to the Privy Council a petition purporting to come from the inhabitants of St. Clement's seeking incorporation, (fn. 100) but it was subsequently claimed that the signatures had been obtained by force and fraud from 'poor cottagers and inmates'; certainly the list does not include the names of any of the substantial tradesmen and landowners. The latter in fact believed that incorporation would destroy their prosperity and, with the support of the Bishop of Oxford and of the university, they presented a counter-petition. (fn. 101) As the bishop explained in a covering letter, 'Whereas the rents of their houses are now considerable, by reason of free trade, when this shall be retrench't and none but freemen of the city shall be permitted to exercise their profession, no man will live among them; for those who are freemen will fix in the more commodious parts of the city.' (fn. 102) The university claimed an interest, not only on behalf of the colleges owning house property in the parish, but also 'in point of trade, because it would put us under a necessity of dealing only with Freemen at their own rates, there being no other place neare us where they will suffer a Forreigner to keep shop'. (fn. 103) As a result of this opposition the incorporation of St. Clement's was delayed until 1836.
The independent community of shopkeepers and mechanics which prospered in St. Clement's in the 18th century was engaged in a wide range of crafts. There were coach-makers, saddle-makers, whipmakers; wheelwrights, gunsmiths, locksmiths, watchand clock-makers; upholsterers, carpenters, cabinetmakers, and straw plait manufacturers; tailors, hatters, staymakers, shoemakers, and wig-makers; silk stocking weavers, fullers, and dyers. There were two makers of musical instruments, one making bass viols and treble violins, the other organs and wind instruments. (fn. 104) There was a Jewish money-lender, Marcus Wolfe, discommoned by the university as 'greatly prejudicial to the youth of this place and injurious to good order and discipline'. (fn. 105) Some of the printers and booksellers are of interest. In 1746 William Jackson printed the first numbers of the Oxford Flying Weekly Journal, the predecessor of Jackson's Oxford Journal, in St. Clement's. (fn. 106) At Wise's auction rooms Shelley's library was sold in 1829; (fn. 107) the first proprietor of Parker's bookshop (Broad Street, Oxford) is said to have begun his business at an open-air stall opposite the 'Black Horse'. (fn. 108) A Mr. Jones in 1781 advertised 'the newly-invented paper for writing or drawing without pen, ink, or pencil'. (fn. 109)
Although many tradesmen 'lived creditably' and college servants formed another stable element in the population, there was much poverty in the parish. Some did not attend church through lack of decent apparel (fn. 110) and the demands upon the poorrate were heavy. Wood recounts that a dying man was carried to Magdalen Bridge so that his burial should not be chargeable to the parish; (fn. 111) but the overseers' accounts show that the problem of poverty was often tackled with sympathy and common sense. (fn. 112) The parish had its own workhouse. (fn. 113) In 1770 it refused to co-operate with the city parishes in sharing the expenses of a common workhouse; but per capita fees were paid for the sick and poor who were taken to Oxford institutions. (fn. 114) There appears also to have been an asylum for the reception of lunatics in the parish. (fn. 115)
The overseers' accounts and the episcopal visitation returns show that the number of houses in the parish remained substantially unchanged in this period. (fn. 116) There were 61 houses assessed for poorrate in 1706, and 67 in 1771. The survey of 1772 gives the names of some 75 occupiers of houses, shops, and stable yards, and the rectors' estimates of the number of families range from 60 to 80. In 1800 there were 100 households and by 1820 their number had increased to 130. In the next three years the population doubled itself (770–1,412), a spectacular change calling for some explanation beyond the general commercial expansion of Oxford at this time. Newman attributed it to slum-clearance in the centre of Oxford. 'Old houses which contained perhaps several families have been pulled down to make way for college buildings and wider streets and to improve the views. This has made building a very profitable speculation at the outskirts of the place and poor families once unpacked have not been induced to dwell so thickly as before.' (fn. 117) The sudden influx of a city population created problems which the old parish administration was ill equipped to face. The new streets lay in parallel lines running from St. Clement's High Street to a cut of the Cherwell, sluggish and evil-smelling in summer, when resistance to disease was lowered by the poverty which characterized the long vacation in a parish dependent upon the trade and employment provided by the university. Here the cholera epidemic of 1832 found its most favourable breeding-ground. Of 174 cases in the Oxford district, no less than 74 were in St. Clement's, 26 in Caroline Street, and 13 in the High Street. (fn. 118) After the outbreak, a public subscription was raised to bring clean drinking-water by pipe from Headington Hill to supply pumps at the end of every street. (fn. 119) Although this did much to improve the health of the parish, no drainage existed until the later epidemic of 1854 proved the necessity for it.
St. Clement's was one of the royal chapels given to St. Frideswide's by Henry I in 1122. This is the earliest mention of it, but there is nothing to suggest that the chapel was new at that date. (fn. 120) The Abbot of Oseney afterwards claimed that by virtue of Robert d'Oilly's foundation gift of 1129 the tithes of St. Clement's belonged to their church of St. George in the Castle, and it was necessary for the two houses to find a compromise; Oseney renounced any rights they had or thought they had in St. Clement's church; St. Frideswide's agreed that Oseney tenants within the parish should pay all tithes save tithe of garden produce to the abbey, and undertook to administer the sacraments to Oseney tenants as to the rest of their parishioners. (fn. 121) The Abbot of Eynsham also staked a claim to St. Clement's church; but when the resulting dispute was heard before the Bishop of Winchester in 1142 and the abbot failed to appear, St. Frideswide's was confirmed in the rectory. (fn. 122) The claims of Oseney continued to cause difficulty, more particularly in respect of property alienated or acquired since the date of the agreement. (fn. 123) No vicarage was instituted at St. Clement's, as was done in the associated churches of Headington and Marston. The parish was at first served by a chaplain, but at any rate from 1273 onwards the parish priest was described as a rector. (fn. 124) At the dissolution of St. Frideswide's the advowson passed first to Cardinal's College and then to the king. (fn. 125) St. Clement's remained a Crown living until the 19th century. (fn. 126)
At the end of the 15th century St. Frideswide's claimed that the living was worth 10 marks a year, but it was rejected by a graduate to whom they had offered it as a competent benefice, on the grounds that it had never been worth more than 5 marks; the court upheld his view. (fn. 127) In the subsidy of 1526 the rector was assessed at £6 6s. 8d. and his curate at 13s. 4d. (fn. 128) The value of the benefice is not recorded in the Valor Ecclesiasticus, as the rector claimed exemption from first-fruits and tenths. The church was also immune from customary payments to the bishop, although an annual pension of one mark was paid to St. Frideswide's until its dissolution. In addition to the customary fees and offerings, the rector could claim burial fees for corpses carried through the parish for burial elsewhere. (fn. 129) The value of the living was estimated at £120 in 1852. (fn. 130)
Despite its small value, the living was generally acceptable to men of academic standing who wanted to live in Oxford. In the later 15th century the rectors were usually graduates. In 1540 it was reported that the benefice had long been vacant and the parishioners without divine offices; (fn. 131) but apart from this interruption, the character of the rectors was not changed by the Reformation. Most of those instituted by the Crown were fellows of Oxford colleges. Some, such as Humphrey Prideaux (1679–83) or John Conybeare (1724–34), were destined for high office in the Church; others were notable members of the university, such as John Gutch, Registrar, and editor of Anthony Wood. In 1771 there was a curate with a stipend of £18; but generally the rectors served the cure themselves while residing in college. The 18th-century visitations show that sermons were preached on Sundays, prayers read on some holy days, and the sacrament administered four times a year; but it is noteworthy that Humphrey Prideaux's published correspondence (fn. 132) makes no mention of his parish duties. He left his mark upon St. Clement's in his careful preservation of the parish registers and his compilation of a schedule of the rector's financial rights. (fn. 133)
The old order continued until the sudden influx of urban population (fn. 134) and the appearance of nonconformity (fn. 135) impelled John Gutch in his old age to appoint a younger man to serve as curate and to organize the appeal which had just been launched for the building of a new church. The appointment of John Henry Newman (1824–6) was intended as 'a kind of guarantee to the subscribers that every exertion shall be made, when the church is built, to recover the parish from meeting-houses, and on the other hand ale-houses, into which they have been driven for want of convenient Sunday worship'. (fn. 136) Unlike Prideaux's correspondence, Newman's letters during the two years of his curacy are full of references to his work in the parish, where his house-tohouse visitation, his afternoon sermons and his Sunday school were generally well received. Some suspected him of being a Methodist, but others were happy that at last they had 'a proper minister'. (fn. 137)
Little is known of the history of the old parish church which stood on the Plain, where the Headington and Cowley roads diverge. In 1323 there was an indulgence for the fabric of the church of ST. CLEMENT beyond Petty Pont, (fn. 138) and it is probable that most of the building destroyed in 1829 dates from this time; some of the stonework demolished was, however, thought to belong to an older 12thcentury church. (fn. 139) Wood found nothing to interest him (fn. 140) in the building and Hearne confirmed the absence of early monuments, although he made a note of some inscriptions of late-17th-century date and said that the east window had once contained glass of good account. He found it 'a very pretty little church'. (fn. 141) The best description of it is given by Peshall in 1773. 'This church is composed of one isle thirteen yards long (exclusive of a chancel six) and six yards and twenty inches broad. On the north-east and west sides are galleries. Over the latter is a small capp'd tiled tower containing three bells.' (fn. 142) This bellcote, well shown in drawings of the 17th and 18th centuries, was replaced in 1816 by a square tower built of lath and plaster at a cost of £80. Only six years after its completion it was reported to be in urgent need of repair. (fn. 143) Neither the site nor the structure of the old church seemed to be well suited to the enlargement which the increase of population in the parish demanded, and in 1824 Sir Joseph Lock presented a site for a new parish church in Hacklingcroft meadow. (fn. 144) The three bells were taken from the old church to the new; one of these was cast in the 13th century and is the oldest bell in Oxford. (fn. 145) The church plate was also transferred, and included an interesting chalice of 1551, noted in the Edwardian inventory, a tankard flagon of 1719, and alms plates of 1685 and 1720. (fn. 146) Otherwise nothing survived of the old church and its fittings; but the churchyard, reduced in size since the reconstruction of the turnpike roads, (fn. 147) was not disturbed until 1950, when the last traces of it were destroyed in making a roundabout on the Plain.
The new church was built at a cost of £6,500 raised mainly by public subscription. The project aroused widespread interest in the university as 'the first church in Oxford to be built on a new site since the Reformation'. (fn. 148) Keble, Pusey, Heber, and Peel were among the subscribers. The foundation stone was laid by the vice-chancellor in 1825 and the building was consecrated on 14 June 1828. (fn. 149) The architect was Daniel Robertson and the builder John Hudson of Oxford. The church is an interesting example of an abortive Romanesque revival, inspired, it is said, by Iffley. Although its setting was universally admired, the building itself did not appeal to contemporary taste; it was called 'the boiled rabbit'. But it found at least one favourable notice. 'The architect has ventured upon a step which may have been tried elsewhere but has not fallen upon my observation . . . in the style of the old churches called Saxon or Ancient Norman. . . . The attempt is altogether laudable, especially as such a building must be much less costly than the more florid and ornamental style.' (fn. 150)
Roman Catholicism. (fn. 151)
In 1793 Father Charles Leslie, S.J., decided to move the Jesuit mission which had existed at Waterperry since the early 17th century to a less secluded and more accessible site; a move which could safely be made after the mitigation of the penal laws. Conditions in Oxford were considered to be propitious; the university had recently welcomed refugee priests from France and had conferred degrees upon Roman Catholics. The choice of St. Clement's rather than the city itself was probably determined by motives of discretion and economy; yet the parish had some sort of Roman Catholic tradition associated, perhaps, with the occasional residence of foreign craftsmen. In 1603–4 two yeomen, one, Robert Atkyns, described as 'musicus', were fined for recusancy, and another in 1625. (fn. 152) There were anti-popish demonstrations there in 1678 and 1688, when a cross of paper and sticks was burnt and windows smashed. (fn. 153) Hearne speaks of 'an honest Roman Catholic blacksmith' in 1725; (fn. 154) in 1767 there was a Roman Catholic staymaker and a Roman Catholic shoemaker. (fn. 155) The transfer of the Jesuit mission did not bring an appreciable increase in the Roman Catholic population of St. Clement's, for the congregation of 160 was drawn from Roman Catholic families throughout the county. Father Charles Leslie was a notable figure widely known outside the Roman Catholic community. 'By his amiable manner and classical acquirements he conciliated the respect and esteem of many members of the University.' He is said to have been the original of Mr. Keith, the priest of J. G. Lockhart's novel Reginald Dalton. (fn. 156)
The chapel of St. Ignatius, 'a solemn and handsome edifice decorated in a style of elegant simplicity', was built on a site at the south-east end of St. Clement's High Street. It measured 65 ft. by 30 ft. and cost £994 3s. 4d. A burial ground was consecrated in 1798. Although it lost its importance as the centre of Roman Catholicism in Oxford after the building of St. Aloysius's church in 1875, the building remained in use as a school and is still standing.
Four nonconformists were recorded in 1676, and in 1738 we hear of an old Quaker woman 'unlikely to create a disturbance or make converts', (fn. 157) but the records of Protestant nonconformity in the parish are otherwise confined to the 19th century. In the first twenty years two or three Baptist families attended the New Road chapel in Oxford, (fn. 158) and when the absence of provision for the increased population in St. Clement's began to cause concern, members of the Oxford chapel held open-air services in the parish. (fn. 159) In 1824 a chapel was built in George Street and James Hinton, minister of Faringdon chapel and younger son of James Hinton of New Road chapel, was chosen as its first pastor. He first assisted and afterwards succeeded his father as the headmaster of a nonconformist academy in Oxford. (fn. 160) Newman recognized the value of James Hinton's work in St. Clement's. 'I have not tried', he said, 'to bring over any regular dissenters; a good dissenter is, of course, incomparably better than a bad churchman, but a good churchman I think better than a good dissenter . . . 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. 161) But the success of the chapel was short-lived. It appears to have prospered until 1828, when galleries were added at a cost of £30 13s. 6d. (fn. 162) But the debt on the original building had not been paid. Of the total cost of £750, only £150 had been raised when the chapel opened and in 1836 it was necessary to put it up for sale to discharge the mortgage. (fn. 163)
In 1808 there were three schools where 21 boys and 46 girls were taught reading; the girls were also taught sewing, and a few were taught to write. (fn. 164) In 1818 there was a Sunday school with 30 children. (fn. 165) In 1823 another day school was started and by 1833 the number of day schools had increased to six with an attendance of 100. There was also a Roman Catholic boarding school for eight boys, opened in 1830. (fn. 166) In 1839 the former Baptist chapel in George Street was bought by the rector and churchwardens for £525 and converted into a free school with an endowment of £20 per annum from Dawson's Charity. (fn. 167)
In 1521 Thomas Dawson of Reading, the son and heir of John Dawson, an alderman of Oxford, left land on the north side of St. Clement's High Street, adjoining Magdalen Bridge, (fn. 168) in trust for the benefit of St. Clement's Church and the poor of the parish, half the income to be used for each purpose. Dawson's benefaction was augmented in 1585 by a further grant of lands made by letters patent to Anthony Collins and James Maryland of London; in this case the whole of the income was to be used for the poor. This property included Green Croft, on the south side of the High Street, where the Black Horse Inn now stands, and two tenements on the west side of the road to Cowley. (fn. 169) The administration of the charity soon gave rise to difficulties and was investigated by commissioners in 1608 and 1677. (fn. 170) In the 18th century the whole of the income appears to have been appropriated to church expenses, such as the provision of surplices, the payment of someone to keep the children quiet during services and the improvement of the churchyard. The cost of building the new church tower in 1806 was met by the trustees. From 1789 the records show some distributions of bread to the poor; (fn. 171) but in 1826 Alphonso Tallboys, a printer who lived in the parish, drew attention to the 'mismanagement, ignorance and apathy' of the trustees, who allowed the properties to be leased at uneconomic rents, in particular the Black Horse Inn, whose licensee was himself a trustee. (fn. 172) This led to a Chancery inquiry in 1831 and a new scheme for the administration of the charity in 1834. This scheme, further modified in 1882, provided that half the income should be used for church expenses and, of the other half, two-thirds were to be used for education and onethird for the poor. (fn. 173)
The will of the Revd. William Stone (d. 1685), Principal of New Inn Hall, provided for his residual estate to be bestowed upon such charitable uses as his friend Obadiah Walker, Master of University College, should determine. (fn. 174) After several alternative projects had been considered, Walker decided upon the foundation of an almshouse in St. Clement's parish. (fn. 175) The site, on the south side of the High Street, known as Tyrer's Close, was purchased from Thomas Jarrett in 1696; it had belonged to Viscount Wallingford in the early 17th century. (fn. 176) In the following year Bartholomew Peisley, a freemason of Oxford, contracted to build the fine stone house which still survives, at a cost of £250; £180 was also paid to George Smith of Headington for carpenter's work. (fn. 177) The house is of two stories with attics above, lit by a row of small dormers in the hipped roof. The two lower floors provide eight tenements, four on each floor. (fn. 178) As the visitor approaches the centre door he sees a scrolled cartouche with the inscription: 'This Hospital for the poor and sick was founded by the Reverend Mr. William Stone, Principal of New Inn Hall, in hopes of thy assistance. An. Dni. 1700.' The original endowment was sufficient to maintain only three 'brethren and sisters', but later benefactions, including a sum of £1,000 given by Stone's trustee, Dr. Stephen Fry, in 1708, made it possible to provide for eight widows, to be nominated in turn by the visitors, who included the vice-chancellor. Each of them received a stipend of £20 and an allowance of coal. (fn. 179)
In 1736 Edward Boulter left property in Yorkshire and at Great Hasely to purchase 2 acres of land in St. Clement's and to build 'handsomely' six good strong almshouses for six poor, neat, honest men selected by the churchwardens of six named parishes. Each almsman was to have one room and a garden plot, an income of £7 per annum (later augmented) and a warm gown every two years. At one end of the almshouse a good stone house was to be built and offered to a good and skilful apothecary who was to receive £50 per annum and to undertake to give free medical advice and attention to the sick poor of Oxford. In 1786 a still house was added for the apothecary's use. (fn. 180) The site of the almshouse, purchased for £300, lay on the north side of St. Clement's High Street where Boulter Street now stands. The buildings were destroyed in 1885 when the road was widened. (fn. 181)