A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5, Bullingdon Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1957.
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SANDFORD ON THAMES
The parish is a mile deep and a little over two miles long with an area of 1,005 acres. Bryant's map of 1824 shows a triangular extension into the parish of Garsington, its hypotenuse on Blackberry Lane, the present eastern boundary. Two important lines of communication cross Sandford; the main Oxford-Henley road and the Thames. The western boundary runs up the river, turns west below the lock and follows the western channel to the weir. Here it turns east and comes up over another weir into the main stream opposite Temple Farm. The third milestone from Oxford falls outside the parish to the north, the fourth a little within its southern boundary.
The land is flat and scantily wooded. The sandy nature of the soil accounts for the village's name— Sandy ford. (fn. 1) Through the middle, however, from east to west runs a strip of clay, its northern edge marked by the remains of brickworks (fn. 2) dated 1900, which were able to use the sand pits to the north and the clay immediately to the south until the quantity of stones in it made the process too expensive. The works were acquired in 1951 by Messrs. Crapper, of Cowley, as a caravan site. Apart from a number of houses along the main road, others along Sandford road (mentioned in a charter of 1240 as alta via), (fn. 3) and a row of mid-19th-century cottages by the mill built for mill workers and still used by them, the country is open, with only four scattered farms.
There is no inclosure award and the early date of inclosure (fn. 4) has made it difficult to trace the situation of medieval fields, of which there are many names in documents of about 1240 and 1512. (fn. 5) Comparing these with a scale map of 1849 (fn. 6) the following medieval names can be placed: terra sancte Margarete (c. 1240) is the square field that has the Henley road as its east boundary, and its south-east corner a few yards north of the milestone. 'Redelondes' (c. 1240) or 'Redlonde' (1512) lies south of the brickworks and stretches east towards the occupation road leading from south to north to Black Barn (Lower Barn in 1849). 'Middelfordlong' (c. 1240 and 1512) was juxta quarreram which lies just north-east of the brickworks. The similarity of names and boundaries shows that there were few changes between 1240 and 1512, but on the analogy of other monastic properties that were ready-made residential estates, (fn. 7) it is likely that inclosure started soon after the manor changed hands after the Dissolution. The common land first referred to in 1050 (fn. 8) ran along the Thames and to the east of the mill and was the 'comyn eyte' of 1512. (fn. 9) In 1813 Arthur Young described the parish as having 'strong land', 'clay, enclosed: both grass and arable'. (fn. 10) And in 1916 the mixture of arable and pasture and gardens was described as 'the inevitable nondescript farming which is so general in the neighbourhood of towns'. (fn. 11)
Domesday Book mentions 18 persons, who were likely to be resident with their families; of these, 10 were villeins and 8 bordars. There were in addition some workers on the demesne whose numbers are not given. (fn. 12) In 1279 there were 26 recorded tenants, of whom 3 were described as free. (fn. 13) In 1377, when the poll tax returns give the names of 59 persons over 14, (fn. 14) the total population was perhaps between 75 and 100. It seems to have declined if anything by the end of the 17th century, for in 1676 only 54 people over 16 were returned for the Compton Census. (fn. 15) Whether the fair mentioned in the last decade of the 14th century (fn. 16) had any effect on population there is no means of telling; it is not mentioned at any other period. Travellers were provided for on the Henley road, for the 'Catherine Wheel' was in existence in 1770, (fn. 17) but the ferry does not seem to have had an inn—the 'King's Arms'— until the latter half of the 19th century. (fn. 18) Apart from the owner of the mill, the lord of the manor, if resident, and the occupants of the principal farms, were the only inhabitants with any pretensions to moderate wealth. There were no industries to attract labour save the recent brickworks and the paper mill. This last is probably largely responsible for the rise of about 178 inhabitants in 1801 to 432 in 1951; it employs about 90 hands. The parish remains, as it began, largely agricultural. (fn. 19)
The main farms are Minchery Farm, Temple Farm, and Rock Farm. The first two deserve some mention. Minchery Farm, half a mile due east of Littlemore asylum, is on the site of Littlemore Priory and was once famed for its picturesqueness. Hearne illustrated it (fn. 20) in 1722, showing a round pigeon loft that had been rebuilt from outhouses ruined in the great storm of 1703. It is mentioned in 1396 (fn. 21) and gave the name 'Pigeon house closes' (1849) (fn. 22) to the land now called 'Minchery close'. It no longer exists. The barn to the north has gone too, where Hearne believed the chapter-house to have stood. Nor is there any sign of the church, the old roofless building on the north-east of the farm-house being, in spite of local legend, only an outhouse of about 1500. Nor is there any sign of the 'old table at which the nuns used to dine' and which in Hearne's day was still used at harvest homes and sheep-shearings. (fn. 23) Both he and Anthony Wood mention the pleasant walks, the fine trees, the groves and fishponds. Wood (fn. 24) saw enough to declare the north end of the main building to have been the refectory. This, by 1850, was partitioned off for cottagers' rooms (fn. 25) and now contains storerooms.
The chapel stood north again of this, and in 1661 coffins were still being dug up there and human bones have been turned up in living memory. Of the stone coffin used as a trough in 1850 (fn. 26) there is no trace. But it was the combination of grounds and house that made Hearne declare it a place 'altogether agreeable to the Beauty of these times.' (fn. 27) By 1880 most of the trees had been felled, the plantations had gone, the railway and the sewage farm had intruded. (fn. 28) Today there is only one fishpond, west of the house. The building itself incorporates some early-16th-century work, especially on the east side where most of the windows are of this date, and in the course of reconstructions stones from the original structure were no doubt used. Since 1807 there has been little change in essentials, save the addition of a cooling-house on the north and the taking down of an outhouse on the south-west. (fn. 29) But the building is neglected, the roof leaking, the fine early oak staircase in need of attention. Minchery is from the Old English mynecenu, 'nun', and means 'nunnery'. (fn. 30) The stream running north of the house was once called the Rhee. Roman pottery kilns excavated here in 1879 were of some importance, being unexpected in the otherwise rural economy of Roman Oxfordshire. (fn. 31)
Temple Farm, in the north-west corner of the parish, was the seat of the manor and was called Manor Farm at least until 1849. (fn. 32) Hearne, in 1722, took an engraver with him to 'have a Draught of it'. (fn. 33) The results, in three views of his Ectypa, (fn. 34) enable us to see how little even of these buildings remains. The fabric of the main block is largely 18th century, though it has some Tudor windows, at the south end, for instance, and there is a stone carved with a cross pattée set over the main east door which may be a relic of the Hospitallers, and another coat of arms, possibly of 15th century date, is on the west side. The same is true of certain details, a door on the north, a four-light window on the east of the barn to the south of the farm-house. (fn. 35) This was considered by Hearne to be the chapel, and though the details are old, they date from the régime of the Hospitallers (after c. 1325) rather than from that of the Templars. Stone coffins could be seen in the barn floor into the 1920's. (fn. 36) The manor-house that Leland described (fn. 37) was all gone by 1805 (fn. 38) and so was the supposed infirmary that stood on its north side. Only the barn on the south remains, much altered in the last hundred years. In the walled garden to the north is a doorway with the date 1614 carved over it. (fn. 39)
The mill is by Sandford lock. The only part of the early-19th-century building remaining is the wing built out over the river. In 1826 it was L-shaped, the longer arm running downstream. Buckler's view makes it look romantic and un-English, with its tali slatted air-drying lofts where the damp paper was hung. (fn. 40) Their site is now that of the steam turbine house. The mill, which specializes in wrapping papers, was reconstructed in 1926 and extended in 1949, the southernmost buildings along the river being of this date. The mill house is almost as it was in 1826. (fn. 41) The school, on the west side of the church, was built in 1860 and extended in 1868. (fn. 42) A reading-room or village hall on the south side of Sandford Road, was built on the initiative of W. E. Sherwood, the vicar from 1901 to 1910.
The first mention of SANDFORD is in a charter of 811 in which Kenulf, King of the Mercians, gives 10 manentes there to Abingdon Abbey. (fn. 43) Another 5 cassati were given to the abbey by Athelstan in a charter of 931, (fn. 44) and it received another 8½ in 1034 from a vir praepotens, Athelward, (fn. 45) though here, as from time to time through the entire record of the parish, it cannot be certain that 'Samford' refers to Sandford on Thames and not to Dry Sandford (Berks.), or Sandford St. Martin near Steeple Aston. This, however, is the only doubtful case to be mentioned in this account. In 1050 Edward the Confessor gave Earl Godwin 4 hides, (fn. 46) and these too were given to the Abbot of Abingdon on Godwin's death in 1054, at the suggestion of his heir Harold. (fn. 47) Four years previously, however, the abbot had transferred his rights in Sandford to a poor priest Blacheman, to whom he had given permission to build a church dedicated to St. Andrew near the monastery. The building was to be carried out with the profits from Sandford and other lands the priest was given at the same time. (fn. 48) And so matters stood on the eve of the Conquest. (fn. 49) But Blacheman chose exile rather than submission to the victor and his land met the fate of the other recalcitrants; only strenuous efforts on the part of the abbot led to its restitution by the Conqueror. (fn. 50)
In Domesday Book (fn. 51) Sandford is listed as one of the lands of St. Mary of Abingdon. There were 15 hides in all, including the 10 formerly held of the abbey by Blacheman. Wenric held all but I hide, which was held by Robert and Roger, both un identified. Wenric, on the other hand, has been identified with some confidence as Gueres de Palences. (fn. 52) who heads the list of military tenants of the abbey in its chronicle, (fn. 53) with 4 knights' fees in Sandford and other places, including 4 hides in Bayworth and Sunningwell (Berks.), 5 hides in Chilton and more in Leverton. The Bayworth holding passed after 1240 to a daughter of Adam de Pyriton, heir of Thomas de Sandford. In 1329 it passed to the Abbot of Abingdon and had no further connexion with Sandford. (fn. 54) Similarly, the Chilton land passed to the Sandfords, and from them to the Paynels by the first half of the 14th century. (fn. 55) The odd hide in Sandford might have been the one which we find in 1123–33 belonging to the church of St. George in Oxford castle (fn. 56) and transferred with the church to the Abbey of Oseney in 1149. (fn. 57) The connexion of the Sandford family (of whom we first hear with Robert de Sandford, a knight of the Abbey of Abingdon in 1111, and his son Jordan) with the de Palences is not clear. It is possible that a branch of the family took the name from the Sandford gift while still living at Bayworth. (fn. 58) Certainly by about 1240 they had given away nearly half their lands at Sandford.
Robert de Sandford founded Littlemore Priory (the Mynchery) by a charter of about 1150–60 (fn. 59) and endowed it with 6 virgates of land and 4 acres of pasture, (fn. 60) and his daughter Christine became a nun there. (fn. 61) In 1177 Roger de Sandford added a third part of his island at Keniton, (fn. 62) the northernmost of the islands between the two channels, in the parish of Radley (Berks.), for the nuns' church of St. Nicholas. (Beside this island the Sandford family also owned a parcel of land in Berkshire round Fiddler's Elbow, necessary for the working of the weir on which the mill depended. This belonged to the mill into the 1930's.) This endowment was insufficient, and in 1214 Innocent III granted a relaxation of ten days of enjoined penance to all who should aid the prioress and convent to rebuild their church opere non modicum sumptuoso. (fn. 63) In 1254 the priory got another virgate, this time from Thomas Bussell de Sandford and Mabel his wife (daughter of Ralph de Sandford) for the souls of Ralph and his wife Millicent. (fn. 64)
In about 1240 Thomas, son of Thomas de Sandford, gave his whole lands at Sandford to the order of the Temple at Cowley in free alms. (fn. 65) This gift followed smaller ones to the same order, which in or about 1219 received from the Sandford family a mill, (fn. 66) a fishery, (fn. 67) and meadowland, (fn. 68) and a yet earlier one of 4 acres in about 1150. (fn. 69) Thomas the younger had himself become a Templar, and not long after receipt of his gift the order moved its headquarters from Temple Cowley to Sandford. The Sandford cartulary, begun between 1265 and 1274, (fn. 70) was probably a product of this move.
These gifts did not comprise the whole fee of Sandford, for in 1242 the Templars and Ralph de Sandford each held 1 knight's fee of the Abbot of Abingdon. (fn. 71) In 1279, (fn. 72) the Templars held 3½ hides by duty of castle-guard at Windsor. The same service (or its commuted form) was required of the heirs of Ralph de Sandford, who held 5 hides. The remaining hide still belonged to the Abbot of Oseney. The gift of the manor to the Temple was confirmed at the end of the century by Katherine Paynel, heir of Ralph, through her father Adam de Pyriton. (fn. 73) The order was dissolved in 1312. Its lands, including the priory, which belonged to the manor with its advowson, (fn. 74) were transferred to the Hospitallers, but not immediately, for we find no mention of them in a list of tenants in chief of 1313. (fn. 75) Of the 5 hides of the heir of Ralph there is no further mention. Judging from an inventory of 1512, (fn. 76) this land seems to have been in the unproductive eastern half of the parish; sandy and wooded, it can have had, apart from the Minchery pastures, little value.
By 1325 we come to the first (fn. 77) of a number of references to the Hospitallers. (fn. 78) In 1438, for instance, Robert Malorre, Prior of the Hospitallers' Priory of England, in reply to a request from Eugenius IV for information about the lands belonging to his order, sent a list which included the chambers (camere) in Sandford. (fn. 79) The Prioress of Littlemore retained her lands there, and the Oseney hide continued to yield a steady income to its abbey. (fn. 80) A good picture of the manor is given in 1512 (fn. 81) by a rent book made by Sir Thomas Leland, who was sent to Oxfordshire by the special mandate of Thomas Docwra, prior of the order. The two watermills are mentioned and two fisheries, one from the main mill to Lasher's weir, the other from there to Iffley. Round the brothers' house are orchards and dovecotes. The holdings of Oseney and Littlemore are scattered among those of individuals whose names occur in subsidy lists later in the century, Stokkers, Deys, and Carters. The land noted amounts very roughly to 250 acres.
Littlemore Priory was suppressed by papal bull in 1524 and given to Wolsey for his new college at Oxford, being worth then £33 6s. 8d. (fn. 82) The Priory of the Hospitallers may have already met the same fate. The Hospitallers were dissolved as an order when their prior refused to accept Henry VIII's claim of royal supremacy. Sandford Preceptory passed to Wolsey, and on his fall was conveyed, along with Littlemore, to the king in 1530. (fn. 83)
The manor was bought in 1542 (fn. 84) by Edmund Powell, a Welshman. He came to Oxfordshire and in 1537 was under-steward at Ewelme. (fn. 85) He had bought one of the two houses of the dissolved White Friars in Oxford in 1541 (fn. 86) before he settled in Sandford. The property was rounded off when the possessions of Littlemore Priory were made over to him by their last lay possessor in 1549. (fn. 87) He was succeeded by his son, also Edmund, who died in 1592, (fn. 88) and then by his grandson, another Edmund, who died in 1632. (fn. 89) The fourth generation heir was named Edmund like his father, who had settled the property on him in tail male; he obtained the Littlemore property on his marriage to Winifred Throckmorton. (fn. 90)
John Powell, son of Edmund, succeeded, but in 1653 demised the manor to John Spicer of Gray's Inn and George Cale for the payment of debts. (fn. 91) They were unable to touch it because the recusancy of Winifred, John's mother, caused it to be sequestered. She lived with her children in St. Giles', Oxford, and died in 1667. (fn. 92) Her plea for the restitution of the manor seems to have been successful, for in 1696 the family was resident again, though still recusant. (fn. 93) John Powell, her son, married Catherine Petre, and when their eldest son, Edmund, died during John's lifetime, the second son, John, became heir and succeeded in 1678. His lands were valued in 1717 at £351. (fn. 94) The last mention of him is in 1727, when Hearne relates that he 'did not speak with him, as I designed, he being private in a room by himself taking a knap'. (fn. 95) He had married Anne Wyndham, but their two sons died young and the estate descended in 1730 to coheirs, Winifred and Catherine. (fn. 96) On Catherine's marriage it fell to Winifred, who married Sir Francis Curson of Waterperry and, in 1760, sold the manor. (fn. 97)
The lord in 1785 was Thomas Walker, described as non-resident, (fn. 98) and in 1791 the Duke of Marlborough; the Duke of Marlborough was still lord in 1854. (fn. 99) The estate had become split up by 1849 and when it was sold in that year, (fn. 100) Minchery Farm and the land immediately south (including Black Barn, then called Lower Barn) and east to the parish boundary, remained outside, though it continued to pay a rent-charge to the duke. The proprietor of this land was James Morrell. The mill also remained with the executors of the late miller, James Swan. The land sold comprised about 500 acres, the proportion of meadow: pasture: arable being 1:2:3. In 1864 Mrs. Hussey was lady of the manor, (fn. 101) though the Duke of Marlborough was still principal landowner. In 1883 she had succeeded him and was lady and chief landowner. By 1889 Rock Farm had been broken off from the Morrell holding and sold to Messrs. Benfield & Loxley, contractors of Oxford. (fn. 102) It comprised about 115 acres. (fn. 103) By 1898 Mrs. Lee Hill had succeeded Mrs. Hussey (fn. 104) and in 1902, when Magdalen College bought Temple Farm, they became lords of the manor, but in recent years all rights have lapsed.
Changes continued. Rock Farm was conveyed to A. B. Kerwood in 1924 (fn. 105) and Magdalen bought it in 1928, (fn. 106) only redeeming the corn rent-charge due to the Duke of Marlborough in 1944. The college owns 458 acres in all, the boundaries of their holding being: the whole west edge of the parish; the south edge as far as Bushy Copse; thence south and west to Black Barn and the Old Quarry but including the sand pit to the north edge of the parish; thence along the north edge to the river. Inside this area, they have never owned the mill nor the brickworks nor some of the house property on the Sandford or Henley roads; the field north of Margaretts Furlong they have sold to Hartwell's Properties.
The eastern part of the parish now belongs to the Oxford Corporation, and was acquired, including Minchery Farm, in 1877, two years after the passing of the Public Health Act, for conveying sewage from the City of Oxford from the pumping station at Littlemore to a new sewage farm there. The assignment mentions the various leases covered, the earliest being three Elizabethan ones, the first dated 1580. (fn. 107) The area involved was 334 acres, 257 arable and 42 pasture, and the rest buildings, &c. Minchery Farm, surrounded on three sides by sewage, is still a farm, with about 63 acres, mostly pasture.
Mills And Lock.
Domesday Book mentions two fisheries but says nothing of a mill. We first hear of one in a charter of about 1170, (fn. 108) in which Jordan de Sandford gives William the miller the mill of Sandford with its appurtenances, that is to say, the island of 'Spireheyt' (opposite the present mill) and 'Lokeselp' (the smaller island north of it, called Lock Meadow in 1849), (fn. 109) a small island which is above the weir (? the pointed island opposite Temple Farm), three small islands (they can be seen from Fiddler's Elbow) which are sub gardino meo de Saunford, and the water above the mill as far as 'Westwer' (? the weir on the Thames between the first two islands mentioned). The water below the weir was called Lasher Pool in 1849 (fn. 110) and a fishery is mentioned in 1512 as running in the water from the mill to 'Ashire Lake'. (fn. 111) It is probable, then, that this mill, which was a corn mill, dealing with both white and coarse bread, (fn. 112) was on the site of the present paper mill.
It was transferred before 1219 (fn. 113) by Thomas de Sandford to the Temple. The Master of the Templars took on the burdens as well as the profits of the gift, for in January 1219 he was engaged in a lawsuit with the wife and daughter of Alward, the late miller. (fn. 114) Another charter of about 1219 (fn. 115) mentions a fulling mill which seems to have lain north of the present mill, possibly on the stream below Lasher's Pool, the gula aque que intrat de Thamisia versus predictum molendinum. It could have been controlled, in this case, from the weir on the Thames referred to above.
To these mills a third must be added, owned by the nuns of Littlemore. A document dated 1266– 74 (fn. 116) places this on the north of an area bounded on the west by the Templars' gardens, on the east by Walter Froggepitte's land, and on the south by the magna via de Saunford. Taking this to be the present Sandford Road, the mill was on the stream that runs north of Temple Farm, and which then must have run more strongly. But none of these limits is certain, and the Hundred Rolls (fn. 117) of 1279 seem to imply that all three mills (then held by the Templars) were on the Thames. The chief mill with its fish weir called 'le lok', i.e. the future flashlock in the west channel, provided a rent of £12 per annum in 1519, (fn. 118) some of which, at least, went to Littlemore Priory. (fn. 119) Fifteen years later the rent of the mill alone was only 20s. (fn. 120) Two mills are again mentioned in 1601, (fn. 121) when they were in the possession of the Powell family, and they are described in 1681 as 'water gristmills'. (fn. 122) The last mention of two is in 1694. (fn. 123)
The system of weirs was not efficient, and in 1678 and 1703 (fn. 124) occur examples of the frequent compensation paid to the millers in flood years. In 1768 a fire entirely destroyed the mill and dwellinghouse, the damage being estimated at the considerable sum of £842. (fn. 125) And a map of 1797 shows the lock but no mill beside it. (fn. 126) An improved version was built soon after, however, as is shown by the account published in the first number of the Oxford Herald, in May 1806, of a subscription opened 'for relief of the widow and four children of Thos. Durbridge who was torn in pieces by the machinery at Sandford mill'. This is described as a paper mill in 1826, (fn. 127) and it has so remained. It was owned by the Clarendon Press in 1881, (fn. 128) when they bought the old pound lock to form the headrace for an additional mill wheel, and was bought by the present owners, Messrs. Cannon and Clapperton, in about 1910. This private company was amalgamated in 1936 as Cannon and Clapperton, a branch of Alders (Tamworth) Ltd. The mill has gradually become independent of water power, a process hastened by the widening of Iffley weir and the frequent use of the lock by pleasure boats. It is probable that water power had only worked the beating machines even in the 19th century, as the presses require steady power. Steam power was replaced by electricity in 1928, being now used only for the steam turbine; the mill produces its own electricity.
Until 1624 there was no lock in the present sense. There was a flashlock (i.e. a weir with removable stakes), where the iron bridge and weir are at present, opposite Fiddler's Elbow. The island it joins was called Lock Meadow as late as 1849, and the water below the weir, now Sandford Pool, was then Old Lock Pool. (fn. 129) Further proof that 'Samfords Lock' was here is given by an assertion in 1580 that it was in the parish of Kennington; this could not have been said about a lock in the present position. Evidence of the ferry (south of the mill) having extended some hundred yards farther west than the present river bank (fn. 130) shows that the right-hand channel was much wider at one time than it is now, and explains why a flashlock should have been built there rather than in the left-hand channel. The mill's head was preserved by a weir of its own and by the weir that keeps the Thames from running into Lasher's Pool. A flash at Fiddler's Elbow would, of course, affect the level of water at the mill, and when the mill lock was built it could lose its head in two ways, a predicament that led to the disputes noted below.
The first mention of the flashlock was in Edward III's reign, when, according to later evidence, the men of Oxford broke down the locks which had been raised. (fn. 131) It was the dependence of the mill on this flashlock that caused it to be let together with the mill in 1519. (fn. 132) And this lock may have continued in use even when the new one was built in the other channel. A flashlock is mentioned in a timetable of 1826 (fn. 133) that showed that the Iffley flash took two hours to get to Sandford, and the Sandford flash four hours to get to Abingdon. But traffic by this route must have been very slight by then, for the channel was shrinking, and when in 1795, due to repairs on the mill lock, barges had to use the flashlock, it was only with great difficulty, and one boat sank in trying to get through. (fn. 134)
Up to the 17th century traffic was inefficient, and the increasingly large barges found it hard to pass the shallows between Nuneham and Sandford. So when the 1624 Act was passed for the improvement of waterways, pioneer works were started on this stretch, at Iffley, Sandford, and Swift Ditch (near Nuneham Courtenay railway bridge). The Sandford lock was complete by 1632, and by 1635 barges could come clear up to Oxford. The lock was administered under the 1624 Act by eight commissioners, four from the University and four from the City of Oxford. It was leased to Richard Farmer in 1638, but the commissioners resumed it in the following year. In 1647 it was known as Sandford mill turnpike and was repaired. (fn. 135) And by this time it was seen that navigation problems had not been solved. An account book gives a sharp picture. (fn. 136) The depth of water below the turnpike, or lock, was so low that boats still depended on the miller to give them a flash of extra water from his sluices to enable them to come up to it and warp themselves through. For such a flash they had to pay a fee to the miller. Normally this should have presented no difficulty, for the miller was required by law to keep the mill grinding, and thus water passing, as long as he had grist left to grind. But complaints were regularly made that as soon as he saw a boat coming up river he shut down the mill and forced the boatman either to pay for a flash or to remain stranded for days at a time, unable either to creep into the western channel or approach the more convenient new lock. The grievances of navigators against the millers of Sandford, Abingdon, and Sutton came to such a pitch that in 1652 (fn. 137) regulations were drawn up about the granting of flashes, and fixing payments.
The account (fn. 138) of a fatal accident in 1735, when a party of students, having caroused all night in a coffee-house at Carfax, tried to 'shoot the lock', probably refers to the flashlock; and that this was being used (at least by down-stream traffic) to avoid payment at the mill, is implied by a regulation of 1751 by which barge owners had to pay 4s. to the proprietor of Sandford lock, whether it were used or not. (fn. 139) The profits from Sandford and Iffley together in 1775 were £43 and in 1796, £48. (fn. 140) The three locks of the 1624 Oxford-Burcot authority were sold to the Commissioners of the Thames Navigation in 1790 for £600. They lengthened the lock in 1793 from 87 to 120 feet at a cost of nearly £1,800. But it was not a success and was soon described as having been an 'old decayed and shallow lock, impossible at low water seasons without large and frequent flashes'. This was in 1838, two years after the completion of the present lock alongside the Jacobean one. A lock-house was ordered in 1839, and resident keepers, instead of the millers, took the charges. The present lock-house was built in 1914. From 1852 to 1864 Sandford lock was let by auction, sometimes alone, sometimes with Iffley. When no bidder met the reserve of £500 (Sandford had been let alone for £200 in 1853) the Commissioners took them back and continued to administer them. Sandford lock is the deepest on the Thames, with a fall of as much as 8 ft. 6 in. in time of low water. (fn. 141)
A ferry at Sandford is first referred to in a charter of about 1219, (fn. 142) which makes it clear that the ferry was below the mill—passagio aque cum navi subter molendium de Saunford—and this is confirmed by the discovery, in 1938, of a mounting block on the northern side of the lane leading from the lock to the Radley-Kennington road, about a hundred yards from the present bank of the river. (fn. 143) The river was much wider at this point, in fact. The position of the ferry now marked on survey maps above the lock only refers to the period since a bridge in 1867 linked the lock with the mainland. In 1279 Henry le Passur held the ferry from the Templars for 5s. 4d., (fn. 144) and in 1295 it is granted by Henry 'son of Adam the ferryman' to John Golding of Nuneham and Scholastica his wife. (fn. 145) In March 1347 it was alienated in mortmain to the Bishop of Winchester. (fn. 146) Its value is shown by the fact that in 1388 it changed hands again and yet once more in 1391. (fn. 147) And in 1467 the ferry with its barge was considered a suitable reward for 'the king's servant, Henry Chapman, groom of the saucery'. (fn. 148) In 1591 a vagrant was drowned there while washing himself, and the coroner sardonically named him 'John Mutchwater'. (fn. 149) It is referred to as a free ferry in 1626 (fn. 150) and the shallowness of the river is commented on by a traveller of 1692 who noted: 'At Sandford ferry, when the water is high, is a boat to carry horse and man over.' (fn. 151) The ferry became, in fact, a ford when the water was low. It is mentioned again in 1727 by Hearne. (fn. 152)
In 1279 (fn. 153) a stone bridge near the mill is mentioned but there is no other record of it, nor can its situation be guessed.
According to the Hundred Rolls (1279), the church was founded by Gueres de Palances on the fee of Ralph de Sandford. (fn. 154) The early descent of the advowson is not clear. The right of presentation was in lay hands in 1204 (fn. 155) and in 1216 the king presented. (fn. 156) By 1220, when it appears that the ordination of a vicarage by Littlemore Priory was under discussion, the advowson and rectory must have been appropriated to the priory. (fn. 157) No vicarage was ordained and during the Middle Ages the living remained a stipendiary curacy. (fn. 158)
In 1295 Littlemore complained that the profits of the church were insufficient to support the minister and the bishop instructed the archdeacon to see that the church was properly served. (fn. 159) It may have been at this point that the Templars, as patrons of the priory, (fn. 160) began to 'present' the curate on the nuns' behalf. At all events, a suit of 1335 reveals that John, a former prior of the Sandford Preceptory, had been seised of the advowson and had presented a certain William. After a dispute between the prior and the Master of the Temple, it was decided that the master should present at the next voidance and the prior at the second. The master duly presented a certain Robert, but before the second voidance the Templars' order had been dissolved. The Prior of the Hospitallers, as successor to the lands and rights of the Templars, had twice presented to the church, when Edward III claimed against the Hospitallers the right to present on the grounds that the Templars' lands had escheated to the Crown. Legal opinion opposed the claim that the lands were escheats (fn. 161) and the Hospitallers, since there is no record of royal presentations, presumably continued to present. It is probable, however, that the prioress as rector always paid the curate's salary. She was certainly doing so in 1526 when it amounted to £2. (fn. 162)
In 1254 the rectory was valued at 53s. 4d. (fn. 163). It was too poor to be included in the Taxatio of 1291, and in the 14th century it was assessed as before at 53s. 4d. (fn. 164) In 1496 the prioress was leasing it for £3 6s. 8d. (fn. 165)
In 1537 the ecclesia sive capella of Sandford was granted to Henry VIII's College, (fn. 166) and it no doubt passed with the manor to the Powells. As they were Roman Catholics they did not present to the church, and presentations were sold to a number of people who had no connexion with the parish. (fn. 167) The right, however, remained with the Powells (fn. 168) and descended with the manor until modern times; at least there is no evidence to the contrary. In 1750 the proprietor was Lady Curson, (fn. 169) in 1808 and 1846 the Duke of Marlborough, (fn. 170) in 1867 a member of the Hussey family, and in 1898 Mrs. Lee Hill. (fn. 171) From her it passed to Magdalen College, which in 1950 granted the right to the Diocesan Board of Patronage. (fn. 172)
As owners of the rectory the lords of the manor collected the great tithes; a tithe suit of 1611 shows that the curate was receiving small tithes and tithe milk on Lammas Day. (fn. 173) No Tithe Commutation Award has been traced; a terrier of 1898 states that none was known. (fn. 174) In the early 18th century the living was considered a perpetual curacy and exempt from episcopal jurisdiction, (fn. 175) but by the early 19th the bishop was being asked to licence the curate, and the parish had become subject to episcopal visitations. (fn. 176)
In the 13th century curates may have been resident: there is a reference in about 1277 to the messuage of the chaplain of Sandford. (fn. 177) In 1523 the curate was an Oxford student, (fn. 178) and post-Reformation ones were probably always non-resident (fn. 179) as they still are. There was no parsonage house, and the living was the poorest in the deanery, and probably in the county. (fn. 180) Its curate received only £6 13s. 4d. in 1760; (fn. 181) the stipend of £11 paid in 1810 was increased to £50 in 1825, (fn. 182) but in the mid19th century Bishop Wilberforce wrote that the service was 'done by someone for love of the work'. (fn. 183) In 1953 the net annual value of the benefice was £320. (fn. 184)
At the beginning of the 18th century there are several first-hand accounts of the church of ST. ANDREW. In 1732, for instance, Hearne noted that the Elizabeth Isham who built the porch (fn. 185) in 1652 was possibly the daughter-in-law of Sir Euseby Isham of Pytchley (Northants.) though he makes no suggestion about her interest in Sandford. (fn. 186) She was the daughter of Edmund Dunch of Little Wittenham (Berks.) and the second wife of Sir Euseby's eldest son John. A resident of the parish after her husband's death in 1626, she was buried in 1657 at Little Wittenham. (fn. 187) Wood adds that the distich over the door:
Thanks to thy charitie religiose dame Which found me old and made me new again was composed by Charles Forbench (otherwise Forbych or Forberich), minister from 1648–9, a royalist and a 'malignant priest'. (fn. 188)
The building of the porch is the first recorded alteration of the original Norman structure, of which only the east wall and the south wall up to the tower remain today. The south wall of the chancel contains a Norman one-light window, and opposite the plain narrow doorway is another doorway, blocked up, which was incorporated in the new north wall of 1865. Up to 1840 the church remained very simple, long, and narrow with a wooden tower at the west end, and the chancel roof pitched slightly higher than that of the nave. It was paved with bricks, originally arranged in mosaic patterns, which were already confused through displacement in 1805. (fn. 189) It was in poor condition. The churchyard had to be fenced in 1789, (fn. 190) one of the bells was broken in 1790, (fn. 191) and the chancel was reported in 1825 to be in 'very bad state'. (fn. 192) This was repaired in 1827, (fn. 193) and in 1840 (fn. 194) the present stone tower was built 'by Mr. Derick in the Norman style'. (fn. 195) The chancel arch was rebuilt at the same time and two new windows were made, one in the chancel and one in the nave.
The new arch was not a success, as it settled, and in 1865, in the course of more drastic alterations than hitherto, it was rebuilt 'in character 13th century'. (fn. 196) The architect, James Brooks of London, took down the north wall and erected a new north aisle opening into the nave through an arcade of three arches. (fn. 197) Also 'of character 13th Century' was the new nave roof. Nearly all the pews were changed by 1868, (fn. 198) though a few 17th-century ones were retained which have since disappeared; priest and choir stalls replaced pews in the chancel. Extra seating space in the new aisle was to some extent offset by taking down the gallery in the tower. The Powell monument of 1661 was moved to the tower and encaustic tiles replaced the bricks. (fn. 199) The last alteration was the addition of a vestry in 1893. (fn. 200) The architect was H. W. G. Drinkwater of Oxford. Electricity was fitted during the incumbency of W. E. Sherwood (1901–10).
Inside the church there are two decorative features of interest. The first is an alabaster carving of the Assumption, with some traces of gilding. On iconographical grounds it can be dated about the beginning of the 15th century. (fn. 201) It was found near the porch in 1723, (fn. 202) face down and worn very hollow but with the carving on the other side intact and the gilding and colours fresh. It was erected in the chancel at least as early as 1805. (fn. 203) The other is the monument to William Powell (d. 1656) of Tutbury (Staffs.), brother of Edmund Powell, under the tower on the south wall. It was put up in 1661 and consists of a black tablet with an inscription crowned with a white marble cornice bearing the Powell arms (fn. 204) topped by a cherub whose wings are gilt and whose face, as does the coat, bears traces of colouring. The cornice is supported by two black marble pillars which rest on brackets carved with cherubs. Between them is a winged death's head. There are traces of gilding also on the mouldings. Another curiosity at this date (1805) was the communion table, believed to be part of the table used by the Minchery nuns in their refectory. (fn. 205) But this genesis is not mentioned in the register for 1709, which records without comment the gift by Richard Davis, curate, of a communion table, the wainscot over the table and a wainscot seat in the chancel. The church furniture was poor; the first extant inventories of 1552 and 1553 (fn. 206) record a chalice of parcel gilt, a latten pyx and censer and two brass candlesticks. The chalice was changed for a new one (fn. 207) and a paten (marked 1705), a salver, and a flagon were bought in 1709. (fn. 208) Only the paten remains. There is also a chalice (1868), a large paten (1875), a flagon (1875), and a silver alms dish of 1831, presented by the Revd. John Johnson in that year. (fn. 209) The 1552 inventory mentions two bells and a sanctus bell, and there were 'two small bells' in 1805. (fn. 210) There are now a treble, a tenor, and a second, the latter probably dating from the 16th century. (fn. 211)
The registers date from 1572.
The yew tree in the churchyard was planted on Good Friday 1800. (fn. 212) Plaques in the church show that 62 parishioners, of whom 9 were killed, served in the First World War, and that 76, of whom 2 were killed, served in the Second World War.
There has never been a dissenting chapel, and the only discoverable notice of a meeting-house was the beginning by Mr. W. R. Keene of a weekly meeting at Rock Farm in about 1930. No records were kept; the meetings were inter-denominational and attended by an average of 15–20 persons. There was also a Sunday school, especially useful as none was provided by the church. About twenty children attended. The adult meetings stopped in 1946, but the children's continue. (fn. 213)
On the other hand, there was an important link with Roman Catholicism in Sandford. It is mentioned as one of the places in the Residence of St. Mary, or the Oxfordshire District that was served by members of the English Province. (fn. 214) This is certainly due to the Powells, Roman Catholics themselves and connected, by the Throckmorton and Curson marriages, with two other such families. The first Edmund Powell's granddaughter Elizabeth married William Napier of Holywell, brother of George Napier, a seminary priest, who in 1610 was hanged, drawn, and quartered for treason in Oxford castle yard. His quarters were set on the four gates of the city, but at least one was stolen and buried secretly in the chapel of the manor-house (now Temple Farm). (fn. 215) Bishop Fell's visitation in 1685 shows Francis Powell (second son of Edmund, b. 1604) and one other as papists; (fn. 216) his nephew John Powell and his wife and seven others are returned in 1696. (fn. 217) The Roman Catholic Register of Waterperry shows that there were Roman Catholics living at Sandford from 1703 to 1768. Of Roman Catholic chaplains we know only one, Charles Collingwood, (fn. 218) who came to Oxfordshire in 1701 and died in 1728. (fn. 219) After this time it has been suggested that the Franciscans served the mission and 'were much indebted to the Powells, who established their house at Rolleston near Tutbury, and several of the Powells belonged to the order'. (fn. 220) Two sons of John Powell mentioned above were priests. (fn. 221) By 1780 there were no papists.
A Sunday school for 55 children received a grant of £30 from the National Society in 1830, (fn. 222) and was thereafter constituted as a day school, accommodating, by 1893, 109 children. (fn. 223) The older children were transferred to Littlemore County school in 1943, and the present status of Sandford school is that of a church school for juniors and infants. (fn. 224)
There are two charities. The Amand Mathieu charity of £11 for clothing (fn. 225) now yields £5 (fn. 226) per annum in coal for the poor. It was endowed after 1825 (fn. 227) and the present capital is £200. The Isham bequest also yields £5 per annum and is spent on coal. It was endowed in 1639 (fn. 228) by Dame Elizabeth Isham, donor of the church porch, together with an annual sum of 20s. to be paid to four poor widows of Brightwell (Berks.). In 1825 it was paid in the form of a shilling to each poor person (fn. 229) by the owner of the land. Whether Elizabeth Isham owned this land is not known. Bread was doled out on a flat tomb in the churchyard near the porch until the middle of the last century. (fn. 230)