A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5, Bullingdon Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1957.
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The parish of Toot Baldon used to cover an area of 1,565 acres, including a small detached piece of over 2 acres, which lay within the parish of Marsh Baldon near its south-eastern boundary with Chislehampton. (fn. 1) In 1932 the southern part of Toot Baldon was transferred to Marsh Baldon, reducing its area to 1,111 acres. (fn. 2) Before this change the parish of Toot Baldon stretched from the Garsington boundary on the north, marked by the Baldon Brook, to Burcot on the south, but except for a narrow neck of land on its western boundary, its northern and southern parts were separated by Marsh Baldon. There are good reasons for attributing this curious shape to the history of colonization in the area and the comparatively late formation of the parish of Marsh Baldon, which, as it is argued below, was probably cut out of the territory originally dependent on the church of St. Lawrence. (fn. 3) In the Middle Ages the parish was in fact known as Baldon St. Lawrence with Toot Baldon and Little Baldon, and the change of name did not occur until after the Reformation.
The very irregular southern boundary line following the footpaths and roads separating it from Marsh Baldon, and the sharp bend of the northern boundary near the Roman road indicate that the parish boundary was drawn along the already existing boundaries of the fields of the various townships.
The land lies mostly above the 250-ft. contour line, but in the north it rises to about 290 ft. and at Little Baldon Farm in the south drops to about 210 ft. The underlying rocks of the Portland Beds series account for its stone-built cottages and walls and the character of its scenery. Its soil is variable and includes gravel, sand, and clay; the subsoil is largely composed of the blue Oxfordshire clay. Arthur Young's comment that it was wet is generally true. (fn. 4) Some of the field-names, dating from the Middle Ages, still give a clue to the look of the country-side, though improved drainage and cultivation have changed it to some extent. There were alderfurlong, yallowelandfurlong, redlandfurlong, the rushie meadow, stony alder, thornfurlong, wateriewergebed (i.e. willow beds) and windmilhill. (fn. 5) The windmill on the hill in Catsbrayn Field must once have been an important landmark. It gave its name to Millway Green, Millhillfield and so on. (fn. 6) There is no record of its history and final decay.
The parish's only woods now lie on the boundary with Nuneham, where there was much planting in the 18th century. (fn. 7) Thence, no doubt, came the polecats—a menace for many centuries. (fn. 8) Foxes too were plentiful as the medieval field-name Foxhillfurlong suggests, and Baldon Row was a favourite place for the hunt to meet in the 19th century. (fn. 9) Instances of poaching in Nuneham Woods in the 17th century are recorded. (fn. 10)
The parish (fn. 11) lies away from the main roads for the most part. A branch road of the Oxford–Chislehampton road runs south-west through Toot Baldon village, turns sharply southwards to Marsh Baldon and then joins the main Oxford to London road, which forms part of the parish's western boundary. Just west of the village of Toot Baldon the road forks and runs southwards along the line of the old Roman road to Little Baldon, skirting the east end of Marsh Baldon Green. An offshoot goes east to Baldon Row, St. Lawrence church and vicarage. Here was once the comparatively populous hamlet of Baldon St. Lawrence, sometimes called in the 16th century Bishop's Baldon (fn. 12) and later still Baldon in the Row, or, as now, Baldon Row. Parsonage Farm lies to the south by Pebble Hill; at the end of the 19th century it was a group of four cottages, but has since been rebuilt as one house. (fn. 13) Still farther south, just off the Clifton Hampden to Chislehampton road, lies all that is left of the lost hamlet of Little Baldon—the model farm belonging to Mr. Jack Barclay, and a few cottages. (fn. 14) At the southern tip of the parish lay the public house called the 'Golden Balls'. The house, though no longer licensed, stands at the cross-roads where the London road cuts the Clifton Hampden to Chislehampton road. It became notorious in the 19th century on account of the murder of a lodger for which the landlord was hanged. It afterwards transpired that though he had intended to commit the murder, he had been forestalled by the victim's servant. (fn. 15)
The small village of Toot Baldon lies on the ridge at the northern end of the parish. It is still fairly compact and was probably more so when its population was larger. Indeed, a plan made of it in the 18th century gives the impression that it might have once been built round a small green. (fn. 16) It is still predominantly 17th-century in character and very picturesque. Its cottages, with the Crown Inn and Old Farm House, lie on the road from Garsington, but Manor House and Court House Farms lie just off it and command a fine view of the Garsington ridge. (fn. 17)
The cottages are built of the local rubble-stone. There are a couple of very attractive 17th-century ones of two stories. They are partly stuccoed and partly of coursed stone with brick quoins. The thatched roof is hipped on one side. Another, lying south-east of Court House Farm, is of rather earlier date: part of it has two stories and part one story with an attic; it is timber-framed with brick filling. The roof of the south side with its wing is thatched and has a wide-spreading stone chimney on the north end. Two more 17th-century cottages lie west of the 'Crown'. Both are thatched, but one is built of colour-washed rubble. It has one story and an attic and spreading stone chimneys.
Three cottages lying at the back of Court House Farm were once a good 17th-century L-shaped house of two stories. The south end of the building is gabled and is contructed of stones both large and small laid in alternate courses. The gable has a stone coping and small carved stone finial. The roof consists partly of old tiles and partly of thatch. Its windows and doors have been altered in the 19th century. On the Queen's College map of about 1735 it appears to be represented by Costard's Farm, (fn. 18) and in 1665 it was probably lived in by one of two Clinkard families, each of which returned three hearths for the tax. Both families were tenants of the college for several generations.
Court House Farm has been largely rebuilt in this century, but a 16th-century range some 30 ft. long from north to south has been preserved on its west front. This part of the house retains some characteristic features of the period—a deep plinth of 3 ft., a doorway with a 16th-century label over it, two windows with moulded stone surrounds, and a large projecting chimney-stack on the north gable-end.
The history of this house is obscure. Its name suggests that the manor courts were held here and this may well have been so, in which case it may have given its name to the large inclosure known as Court Leys, which lay across the road to the south and stretched nearly as far as the church. On the other hand, Court Leys may have been named after Louches Court—the house of the medieval lord of the manor of Baldon St. Lawrence. (fn. 19) This house has long since disappeared, but as the college's courts in the 16th century were usually known as the courts of the manor of St. Lawrence Baldon with Toot Baldon, it may be that they were then held at Louches Court. (fn. 20) In any case, Court House Farm was certainly occupied for part of the 18th century by Anthony Yeats, a tenant of Queen's who was largely resposible for defeating Dr. Bacon's schemes for inclosure. (fn. 21)
On the opposite side of the lane stands Manor House Farm. It is a three-storied house of stone with triple gables to the front facing the road. It has a roof of old tiles and massive brick chimneys with four diamond shafts rising out of a square base; the heads of the shafts are offset. Similar chimneys, but with two shafts each, are at the back and south end. Under each gable are stone-mullioned casement windows. Inside the house there is some 17thcentury panelling, including a shell-roofed alcove in the parlour. It has the uncommon feature of being fitted with a sink for washing porcelain. In front of the house is a dwarf stone wall with stone gate piers finished with ball finials. The walled garden at the back of the house was beautified in the late 17th century with panelled brick piers to the gateway on the north side. At the north end outside the garden on a spur of high ground is a grass terrace lined with lime trees. It probably dates from the late 17th or early 18th century. The ancient outbuildings form an L-shaped group, built partly of stone with old tiled roofs, and include a six-bay barn of weather-boarding with a thatched roof.
Some details about a new college building put up in 1537 may refer to the Manor or the Court House Farms. From March to the end of July the bursar paid out sums amounting to nearly £32 for wood, stone (freestone and rag), tiles, bricks, 'rygging stones', with carriage and beer. The stone, judging from the names of the people—all Baldon farmers— who carted it, was quarried locally. The iron-smith came from Wheatley; the masons, always referred to as Roger and Thomas, may have been regular college employees. (fn. 22)
It was reported at a manor court held in 1575–6 that the farm-house of Toot Baldon was ruinous and unoccupied through the neglect of the tenant Leonard Willmot, (fn. 23) but which of the college houses this was, it is difficult to say.
The manor-house, the most imposing house in the village today, seems to have been occupied in the 1660's by Thomas Clinkard, a well-to-do yeoman, who returned nine hearths for the hearth tax of 1665. Dr. Nathaniel Bacon was certainly there for many years after 1730 and was doubtless responsible for the 18th-century embellishments. (fn. 24)
Two 18th-century cottages have survived. They have two stories and three three-light casement windows separated by the two entrance doors. The 'Crown' public house also dates from the same century. It does not appear to have kept the exclusive patronage of Baldon men, for Bryant's map of 1824 shows a well-marked bridle path to the Britannia Inn at Headington. Old House Farm was rebuilt in stone in 1724 according to the date cut on its north wall, though part of it, of timber with redbrick filling, is probably later.
The chief 19th-century building is the vicarage (now called Court Leys), which was built of brick in 1860 on part of the college's ancient inclosure called Court Leys. (fn. 25) It is remarkable for its size and its neo-Gothic style of architecture. It is approached by a long chestnut avenue from Toot Baldon, which almost certainly marks the line of the ancient footpath to the church, for Toot Baldon's church was at Baldon St. Lawrence, a hamlet about 1½ mile to the south.
Baldon Row, as it is now called, is a hamlet of seven blocks of cottages mainly of 18th-century date, lying below the ancient church of St. Lawrence. The latter stands within its churchyard on a high piece of ground overlooking the valley to the south. Near the gate of the churchyard is the 19th-century school, now disused.
The 20th century is mainly represented by a row of council houses on the road to Marsh Baldon, close to the boundary between the two parishes. There has also been some new building north of the church, where some cottages were destroyed in 1945 when an American aircraft crashed in the village.
Like so many other Oxfordshire villages, Toot Baldon is full of orchards, though there are now fewer than in the past. A particularly large inclosure in the middle of the village is marked on an 18thcentury map as an orchard, while leases show that every house had one or more orchards. Fruit trees like other trees were carefully protected by the college and tenants were not allowed to cut down any without licence. (fn. 26)
There has been a close relationship between the Queen's College and both Marsh and Toot Baldon ever since Christopher Bainbridge gave Toot Baldon manor to the college. Fellows and students used in Tudor times to retire to the college houses there in time of plague. In 1519, for instance, the college account rolls show that the whole college was in residence at Toot Baldon. (fn. 27) In Stuart times Provost Halton often rode to hounds in the Baldon country, and kept a groom and horses on the college estate. (fn. 28) Later Provost Joseph Smith had a handsome house on the village street. (fn. 29) Both men played an active part in opposing the schemes for the inclosure of the Baldons. College tenants have always visited the college on certain feast days, bringing their offerings in kind. (fn. 30) Down to 1939 a nosegay from the Baldons was presented yearly to the provost. (fn. 31)
The estate later known as the manor of BALDON ST. LAWRENCE orginated in two Domesday estates. In 1086 Robert d'Oilly held an estate in Baldon of the Bishop of Bayeux assessed at 1½ hide. (fn. 32) Domesday book gives no undertenant, but in the second half of the 12th century Thomas of Burghfield (Berks.), who was alive in 1175, may have held the estate under the d'Oillys. (fn. 33) Thomas's grandson Robert held 1/5 knight's fee of the honor of Wallingford in 1211–12, and it was perhaps he who enfeoffed William de Mortain with the lands in Baldon which he held by 1221. (fn. 34) In 1243 William's relative John was holding ¼ fee of Robert of Burghfield of the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 35) John de Mortain was still in possession in 1255, (fn. 36) but by 1279 he had enfeoffed Robert de Louches, who paid him 1d. and did suit at Bullingdon hundred court. (fn. 37) The Burghfields had apparently ceased to be mesne lords and are not mentioned again.
Domesday records a second estate assessed at 1½ hide in Baldon belonging to the Bishop of Bayeux, and held by Roger d'Ivry, the sworn companion of Robert d'Oilly. (fn. 38) With other Ivry lands it passed to the honor of St. Valery, (fn. 39) and its overlords throughout the Middle Ages, therefore, were the lords of that honor. The names of five of its free tenants between 1213 and 1221 are known, but there is no record of a mesne tenant. (fn. 40) By 1255 it was held as 1/6 knight's fee by Robert de Louches. This was probably the tenementum about which he and his brother George had been at law in the preceding year. (fn. 41) The jurors of the inquest of 1279 make the position rather clearer. They say that John de Louches held the property as ¼ fee of the Earl of Cornwall as of his honor of St. Valery and paid him 7d. His brother Robert held it in demesne of him for 1d. and suit at the honor court of North Oseney every three weeks. (fn. 42) Robert was still living in 1303. (fn. 43)
In 1316 Richard de Louches is listed as one of the three lords of Baldon, and the later descents of the manors make it clear that the 3 Domesday hides held by d'Oilly and d'Ivry had been united under one lord as the manor of Baldon St. Lawrence. (fn. 44) Although there were many branches of the Louches family in Oxfordshire and Berkshire, there is no reason to doubt that Richard de Louches of Baldon was the same man as the Lancastrian Sir Richard de Louches, who had been lord of a Great Milton manor since about 1300 and held land in Chislehampton and Wheatley, both neighbouring villages. (fn. 45) He had married Ellen, daughter of William Wace, the holder of a fee in Ewelme, (fn. 46) and their estates descended to their son Sir John and their grandson Sir William de Louches. (fn. 47)
Sir William's daughter and heir had married Sir Thomas Camoys, the commander of the English left wing at Agincourt, and thus Baldon St. Lawrence was listed among the Camoys manors at Sir Thomas's death in 1421. (fn. 48) His heir was his grandson Hugh, son of Richard Camoys, who had predeceased his father. (fn. 49) But Hugh died in 1426 before coming of age and the family property passed to Hugh's sisters and coheirs, Margaret and Eleanor, wives respectively of Ralph Radmylde of Great Milton and Roger Lewknor of Trotton (Suss.). The Baldon estate was then described as 2 carucates held of the honor of St. Valery as ½ fee and 1 carucate held of the manor of Headington as ¼ fee. The total value was £10. (fn. 50)
Although the Camoys property had passed to joint heiresses, some arrangement was clearly come to about the manor of Baldon St. Lawrence and other Oxfordshire manors by which the Radmyldes obtained sole control. Robert Radmylde, Ralph's son, put half the manor in the hands of trustees in 1453 and the other half also at a later date. He was succeeded in 1457 by his son William, a child of six. (fn. 51) He later held courts for Baldon St. Lawrence along with his other manors of Great Milton and Wheatley. (fn. 52) As he had no children, Radmylde, by now Sir William Radmylde, made an agreement in 1492 with Thomas Danvers by which the latter was to have the manor of Baldon St. Lawrence with its appurtenances in the Baldons in fee simple. (fn. 53) He and others were enfeoffed some years before Sir William Radmylde's death in 1503. (fn. 54) Danvers was a neighbour of Radmylde's, since his chief seat was at Waterstock, and a man of some importance in the county and country. Though his connexion with Baldon St. Lawrence was very transitory, a word must be said about his interests, as they explain why the manor ultimately passed to the Queen's College. At one time he had been a member of the Bishop of Winchester's household, and later, when living at Waterstock, was active in business connected with Bishop Wayneflete's foundation of Magdalen College. (fn. 55) His friendship with the Bishop of Winchester and his interest in learning account for the sale in 1502 of Baldon St. Lawrence for £200 to the executors of Thomas Langton, late Bishop of Winchester and Provost of the Queen's College from 1487 to 1496. Langton and his friends, like Danvers, were strong Lancastrians, and so politics also provided a link in the transaction. The executors were Langton's nephew Christopher Bainbridge and the Provost of Winchester College. (fn. 56) In 1509 Bainbridge, by now Archbishop of York, gave the manor to Queen's, of which he was provost. (fn. 57) In return he desired the college to say masses for his own soul and that of his uncle Bishop Langton. (fn. 58) This was not the first land acquired by the college in the Baldons, for John Pereson, provost 1460-82, had already given it his estates at Denton and Baldon St. Lawrence. (fn. 59)
In 1509 Archbishop Bainbridge also gave an adjoining estate in Toot Baldon, the so-called manor of TOOT BALDON, although it then comprised no more than 100 acres. In 1086 it had been part of an estate assessed at 6 hides which the sheriff Swegn held of the king. (fn. 60) By 1243 it was in the hands of Thurstan Despenser, a tenant in chief, holding land at Great Rollright and Ewelme as well as in Gloucestershire by the serjeanty of the dispensary of the king. (fn. 61) From him the overlordship passed to Adam Despenser, who was holding in 1255. (fn. 62) He was a knight, and a charter of his granting land in Toot Baldon has survived. He gave to Robert de Louches of Baldon and his wife Margery about 1260 a messuage and a virgate which Miles of Tuthulle had once held from Andrew de Scaccario. (fn. 63) No more is heard of the overlordship of this fee.
The Domesday under-tenant was Hugh. The next to be recorded was Richard de Scroop, who paid 2 marks to an aid for 1 knight's fee in Baldon in the year 1235–6. (fn. 64) In 1243 Robert de Scroop, possibly his son, was sharing the fee equally with Mabel Bacun and Roger, son of a knight of the Hospital of St. John. (fn. 65) By 1255 Mabel had been replaced by John de Scaccario; Roger's son Walter and William de Scroop held the remaining two-thirds. (fn. 66) John de Scaccario belonged to a family which was widely spread in the county, and he himself was distinguished as a crusader. It is reported that because of the privileged position of such men, he was allowed to bring an action against Clement the shepherd of Baldon before the Abbot of Dorchester instead of in the ordinary courts. (fn. 67) Further he is known, on account no doubt of his having taken the cross and of his consequent need for ready money, to have become a client of the moneylender Jacob son of Moses. He borrowed from him on the security of his estates at Begbroke and Toot Baldon. (fn. 68)
The history of the descent of the manor is a blank from this date until the end of the 15th century. An agreement made in 1474 shows that Thomas Love den and his wife Alice were to have Toot Baldon manor on the death of Agnes, widow of Nicholas Whaddon. (fn. 69) Thomas and Alice had already obtained a messuage and 2 virgates of land in Toot Baldon from Thomas Denton in 1449. (fn. 70) In 1508 a Thomas Loveden, lord of Long Crendon manor (Bucks.), (fn. 71) was described as lord of Toot Baldon manor and in the following year he sold it to Christopher Bainbridge, Archbishop of York, for £86. (fn. 72) It then consisted of only 2 messuages and 4 virgates or a sixth of the 13th-century estate of 24 virgates. In the same year the archbishop gave it to the college with Baldon St. Lawrence. (fn. 73)
In 1086 the Count of Évreux, who held a number of small estates in the county, held 3½ hides of the king in Baldon St. Lawrence (Baldendone). (fn. 74). Norman companion of the Conqueror, Count William had been rewarded with English territory which he later bestowed on a monastery, founded in his fortress of Noyon and granted to the monks of St. Évroult. Between 1140 and 1157 his grandson, Simon, Count of Évreux, confirmed to St. Évroult the grant of this monastery and its endowments. The latter included all he held in Baldon St. Lawrence and the neighbouring township of Chippinghurst. (fn. 75) In 1194–5 the monks of Noyon were receiving 60s. a year rent from their Baldon property. (fn. 76) The roll of 1199 further shows that the Prior of Noyon had paid a fee so that it might be written on the Pipe Roll that Simon son of Hugh of Baldon had acknowledged in the Exchequer that the prior and convent had granted him their Baldon land to be held during his life for a rent of 60s. a year. (fn. 77) By 1255 George de Louches, member of a wide-spread local family, was holding the land of Noyon for the same rent. (fn. 78) In 1279 he was still their farmer. (fn. 79) The alien priories were dissolved in 1414 and their estates with few exceptions were vested in the Crown. The ancient rent from the Baldon estate seems to have been granted to the monastery of Sheen (Surr.) for in 1542 there is a reference to a rent of 60s., which they used to receive from Baldon. (fn. 80) It was evidently bought with other lands in Baldon St. Lawrence by the executors of Bishop Langton from Thomas Danvers in 1508, for the deed concerning this rent to Sheen is now among the title-deeds of Queen's College.
Thus a large part of four Domesday estates had passed to the college. Its manor of Toot Baldon with appurtenances in Marsh Baldon, Denton, and Stanton St. John, when valued in 1535, was worth £10 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 81) John Willmott, a yeoman farmer, the college's first tenant, obtained a 21-year lease at a rent of 5 marks a year. (fn. 82) Henceforward courts were generally held jointly for the manors of Toot Baldon and Baldon St. Lawrence, (fn. 83) and in the course of time the question whether there ever had been two manors became a matter for speculation.
In 1086 Iseward held 5 hides of the Bishop of Lincoln in Dorchester hundred. (fn. 84) This was the later manor of LITTLE BALDON. It is probable that the estate had passed into the hands of the Baldindon family well before the end of the 12th century. A Henry de Baldindon appears among the Oxfordshire entries on the Pipe Roll of 1186–7, (fn. 85) and a Robert de Baldindon on that of 1198–9. (fn. 86) In 1212 Uctredus de Baldindon was at law over a free tenement in Baldon (fn. 87) and in 1220 ownership is definitely established by the fact that William de Baldindon is returned as paying on 9 carucates of land to the carucage of 1220. (fn. 88) Twenty years later he, or perhaps a son, described as of Little Baldon, was respited from taking arms and making himself a knight (fn. 89) In 1242–3 and again in 1255 a William de Baldindon is reported to be holding a knight's fee in Baldon of the Bishop of Lincoln. (fn. 90) In 1257 on account of his default in an action brought by Agnes, daughter of John the ferryman, he was petitioning for the return of his land in Baldon which had been forfeited. (fn. 91) The tenure of his Baldon manor is more fully described in the Hundred Rolls of 1279. The jurors then said that he held 5 hides in Little Baldon of the Bishop of Lincoln of the fee of Dorchester, where he did suit: furthermore, that the manor was a member of the barony of Banbury and that the Baldon family owed scutage to the bishop. (fn. 92)
The family was of some importance in the county and held with other property the neighbouring manor of Clifton Hampden. It seems to have parted with its Little Baldon manor about the turn of the century, though it retained other land in Baldon and the neighbourhood. (fn. 93) The new lord was John Bradeley. In 1316 he was returned as one of the three lords of Baldon (fn. 94) and in 1327 contributed to the 20th for his property there. (fn. 95) A Robert Bradeley occurs in 1368 as a witness to a charter, (fn. 96) and he, or possibly his son, is named again in 1413, when he witnessed a quitclaim touching land in Little Baldon. He was probably lord of the manor. By 1424 or 1425 the lordship had perhaps passed to Thomas Bradeley, as William Baldington, recently lord of the manors of Baldington in Thame and Albury, (fn. 97) had held Baldon of him. (fn. 98) In 1428 John Bradeley held lands which had been Robert Bradeley's as ¼ knight's fee, but there is no known later record of the family. (fn. 99) The fee in Clifton Hampden, which William de Baldindon had held in the 13th century, was also held by the Bradeleys and they gave their name to a manor there. (fn. 100)
Little Baldon manor is next heard of in 1512, when John Lewes and his wife Agnes conveyed the manors of 'Baldington' and Clifton to Robert Froston and others. The manor is not called 'Little Baldington', but the fact that it was being held with Clifton (fn. 101) makes it certain that this transaction concerns Little Baldon manor and not Baldington in Thame. (fn. 102) Next year, Edmund Audley, Bishop of Salisbury, began to purchase both manors from Robert Froston and his wife. (fn. 103) The bishop's interest in Baldon may well have arisen through his acquaintanceship with Bishop Langton, his predecessor at Salisbury. (fn. 104) Audley's object was the endowment of a chantry in Salisbury Cathedral and the property was subsequently commonly referred to as lands of Audley's Chantry. Its value with land at Garsington and Barford St. Michael was £16 in 1548. (fn. 105)
At some date in the middle of the 16th century this property passed to Sir John Pollard of Nuneham Courtenay. It is probable that he bought it on the dissolution of the chantries. It passed to his brother Sir Anthony Pollard with other lands which John had acquired in the Baldons, of which he had left some to his brother by will, dated 1547. (fn. 106) It was found in 1557 that John had died seised of lands in Little Baldon and Baldon St. Lawrence called Audleys lands which were held in chief by socage as of the manor of Donnington. He also held Bradleys manor in Clifton Hampden of Lord Norreys as of his manor of Dorchester, (fn. 107) and it may be that this estate represents the 2½ hides held of the manor of Dorchester by the Bishop of Lincoln in Domesday. (fn. 108) In addition Pollard had acquired a yardland in Baldon St. Lawrence and lands in Clifton which once belonged to Littlemore Priory. (fn. 109) In the surviving court rolls for the manor of Baldon St. Lawrence, belonging to the early 16th century, the prioress appears as a free suitor of the court. (fn. 110)
After Sir John's death in 1557 Sir Anthony Pollard succeeded to the Baldon lands. As he and his wife Philippa had no children, John Pollard, son of Richard Pollard of Horwood (Devon), was made their heir. (fn. 111) Before Sir Anthony's death, the estates were settled on Philippa for her life. She and her prospective heir appear to have been buying up more land in Little Baldon in the early 17th century, for in 1616 or 1617 John and Isabel Stampe are said to have received a pardon for selling lands there to the Pollards without licence. (fn. 112) John Pollard's son Lewis eventually came into the property. (fn. 113)
According to an account written by Sir Henry Willoughby in the early 19th century, Little Baldon passed from the Pollards to one Chesterman and then to his daughter who married an Astyn. Both Chesterman and Astyn are said to have been servants of Marsh Baldon manor. From the Astyns the property passed by marriage to Sir Sebastian Smythe. (fn. 114) This must have been the lawyer son of the lord of Cuddesdon manor. (fn. 115) He was paying the land tax for his Baldon land in 1727. (fn. 116) The property ultimately descended to his granddaughter Barbara Smythe of Cuddesdon (d. 1787), and then to Sir John Whalley-Gardiner. (fn. 117) In 1801 it was purchased from the latter's son by Sir Christopher Willoughby of Marsh Baldon. (fn. 118) But as most of Little Baldon had been inclosed since the 17th century (fn. 119) and the village had declined, the manor of Little Baldon can have been little more than a name for some time.
Economic and Social History.
When the See of Dorchester was moved to Lincoln after the Conquest, the secular canons of Dorchester retained for their support some surrounding chapels. These they served themselves and the chapels were known as late as 1291, though anachronistically, as the chapels of the prebendaries. (fn. 120) It is probable that Toot Baldon church was originally one of these Saxon chapels. The first clear documentary evidence, however, for its existence occurs in a bull of 1163. Pope Alexander III then confirmed the chapel to Dorchester church, by now the church of a convent of Austin Canons; it was described as capella que est in territorio monasterii de Nuiono in eadem villa de Baldindune. (fn. 121) But there are good reasons for thinking that the chapel is referred to in an earlier bull of 1146, when Eugenius III confirmed to the canons the liberties they had enjoyed in the 11th century. These included the capella de Baldendone. (fn. 122)
A number of points make it likely that this chapel of Baldon should be identified with Toot Baldon's chapel of St. Lawrence and not with that of St. Peter at Marsh Baldon. In the first place, its position on its commanding hill is more central and therefore more likely to be chosen as the site of the first chapel for the district; secondly, the feast day of both churches was that of St. Lawrence, the saint to whom the church of Toot Baldon was dedicated; (fn. 123) and lastly, in later documents St. Lawrence Baldon is commonly designated simply as Baldon, whereas Marsh Baldon always has its descriptive first name.
The chapel remained appropriated to the abbey and its curate was nominated by the abbot. (fn. 124) It was not among the abbey's rich appropriated churches: in 1535 its tithes were only worth £7 and it is likely that this sum included a part of the tithes of Marsh Baldon church. (fn. 125) Part of the tithes of Baldon St. Lawrence had been given to Oseney Abbey in 1149. Robert d'Oilly and Roger d'Ivry had originally granted their tithes in Baldon to the church of St. George in Oxford castle and they were confirmed to St. George's by Henry I. (fn. 126) Later they went to Oseney with the rest of the church's endowments. (fn. 127) In the 13th century an arrangement was made by which Roger, Abbot of Dorchester (1213–21), received at perpetual farm from Abbot Clement of Oseney the latter's share of the tithes, namely, the sheaves from 7 virgates of land in 'Major Baldon' in return for a rent of 13s. 4d. (fn. 128) Gregory IX confirmed these tithes to Oseney in about 1235 and Henry III did likewise in 1267. (fn. 129) Both confirmations speak of the tithes from 3 hides in Baldon, that is of the whole d'Oilly and d'Ivry estates, (fn. 130) but it is evident from the arrangement made with Dorchester that the demesne tithes only were granted. In 1535 Dorchester was still paying 13s. 4d. to Oseney. (fn. 131) The abbey paid a stipend of 53s. 4d. in the 16th century to its Baldon curate—by far the smallest amount paid to any of its dependent churches. All the other curacies were worth £5 6s. 8d. (fn. 132) It seems that Toot Baldon had no curate of its own at this time, and that the curate of Marsh Baldon was being paid to perform the duty. (fn. 133)
The parson also had a little glebe. A terrier of 1514 (fn. 134) shows that it was scattered in the open fields. When they were inclosed in 1841, the parson was allotted about 2 acres and his churchwardens about 3 acres for 'land left to the church in the past'. (fn. 135)
After the dissolution of Dorchester Abbey, Dennis Toppes, the king's servant, had a grant (described as the rectory of Baldon) of the tithes and glebe land which had once belonged to Dorchester. (fn. 136) These included a part of the great tithes of Marsh Baldon as well as Toot Baldon's tithes. (fn. 137) In 1565 or 1566 the queen bestowed the reversion of the rectory on Robert Hall and his heirs, (fn. 138) and in the same year Hall granted his rights to Anthony Pollard of Little Baldon. (fn. 139) Before his death in 1577, Pollard settled the rectory on his wife Philippa and his heirs male with remainder to a number of Pollard relations and their heirs male. (fn. 140) In fact, it descended to John Pollard Esq. and Lewis Pollard, who were granted licence to alienate in 1608 to Richard Goddard and William Staunton. (fn. 141) In 1626 Lewis Pollard sold the rectory to James Jennens, a relative. (fn. 142) His rights descended to his son Richard Jennens and his grandson William Jennens of Long Wittenham (Berks.). In 1693 William mortgaged the 'rectory and tithes of Marsh Baldon' (fn. 143) with 3 acres of arable, glebe lands, a messuage close, and 4 acres of lammas ground for £1,000. (fn. 144) In 1699 he sold the reversion of the rectory to Hugh Kent of East Hagborne (Berks.) and others. (fn. 145) Kent sold in 1701 to Robert Sawyer of South Moreton (Berks.). (fn. 146) The latter owing to financial embarrassments borrowed from Francis Yateman of Harwell (Berks.) on the security of the rectory which he declared to be worth £200 a year. (fn. 147) In 1703 it was finally confirmed in Yateman's possession by Chancery decree. (fn. 148) Francis Yateman died in 1712 and the rectory passed to his son William, a minor. William Yateman of Abingdon died in 1752 and his son Francis Yateman, the plaintiff in the Baldon tithe case of 1770, succeeded. (fn. 149)
On his death in 1797 the rectory was purchased by Francis Elderfield. (fn. 150) In 1812 he leased it to Dame Martha Willoughby of Baldon House and William Tatnall, trustee for the heir, (fn. 151) and it was later purchased by the Willoughbys. (fn. 152) Owing to the quarrel between Sir Henry Willoughby and the Rector of Marsh Baldon, Hugh Pollard Willoughby, no presentations were made to the church by the Willoughbys and in 1851 the right to present was exercised by Bishop Wilberforce by lapse. (fn. 153) The advowson was legally conveyed to the bishop in 1854. (fn. 154) It was later amalgamated with Marsh Baldon as the advowson of the united benefices of Marsh and Toot Baldon and was bought by the Queen's College from A. H. Bond and others in 1921. (fn. 155)
An 18th-century dispute brings to light some curious regulations about the payment of tithe and intercommoning in the Baldons: Toot Baldon cattle fed on Marsh Baldon Heath, which was a part of Marsh Baldon manor and lay in Marsh Baldon parish, and tithe was paid to Toot Baldon parsonage. Again, when in 1795 Sir Christopher Willoughby sued William Gardiner, formerly the servant of Francis Yateman, the owner of Toot Baldon parsonage, for trespass on the Heath and for cutting down trees, it was claimed that Toot Baldon parishioners could dig sand on the heath and that the poor had a right to cut furze. One witness declared that in 1754 he had fetched sand from the heath for the parsonage. (fn. 156)
In 1855 a terrier of the church's possessions recorded that it was entitled to the tithes from over 191 acres of land. They once belonged to Dorchester Abbey, but were then Sir Henry Willoughby's, who paid £5 annually to the officiating minister of Toot Baldon. It also had nearly 3 acres of 'Church lands' leased to a farmer, and a bequest of £25 a year made by the Revd. Thomas Fry and handed over to the Bishop of Oxford as a permanent endowment. (fn. 157) In 1953 the net annual value of the united benefice was £538. (fn. 158)
As St. Lawrence was an appropriated church and exempt from all episcopal control owing to the privileges of its patron, the abbey church of Dorchester, there are no records at Lincoln about its incumbents. Nor have any monastic records survived to throw light on the curates supplied by Dorchester.
In the post-Reformation period it was often served by the rectors or curates of Marsh Baldon. Nothing is known about the ministers in the second half of the 16th century, and little of the church's history. Two small pieces of evidence, however, suggest that the church's affairs were not neglected. There is a 16th-century note in a service book used in the church, about the benefactors who had given the church seven kine. John Allam and John Williams and the 'best of the parish' decided that a record should be made of this benefaction of 'old time' and a list of the five parishioners responsible for the care of the animals was entered. The use of the kine is said to appear plainly in the 'old mass book' and to be known to all the parishioners by custom. (fn. 159) There is also an order for the repair of the fabric in 1588. (fn. 160) On the other hand in 1552, when the churchwardens drew up an inventory of the church goods for the Commissioners, they noted that two vestments, two crosses, four candlesticks, a hand-bell, four altar cloths and a towel had been stolen since the last inventory was taken. For a poor church this was a serious loss, but it may not have been due to negligence. (fn. 161)
For much of the 17th and 18th centuries, Toot Baldon appears to have had no curate of its own. John Holmes in 1678 was possibly its last resident parson until the 19th century. (fn. 162) In 1637 and 1676 the parish was being served first by John Huxtable and then by Joseph Bampton, the rectors of Marsh Baldon (fn. 163) and from 1736 by Dr. Phanuel Bacon, also rector of Marsh Baldon. He received £10 yearly and a sack of malt from the lay impropriator, Mr. Yateman. But as the result of a disagreement and a subsequent lawsuit, it was found that the lay impropriator was not legally bound to give any salary to the curate of Baldon. Dr. Bacon, therefore, ceased to minister to Toot Baldon (fn. 164) and the parish had no services for many years and the fabric was neglected. In 1765, for instance, the church and chancel were reported to be out of repair. (fn. 165) Three years later the bishop was told that there had been 'no duty done . . . for these twelve months . . . the souls of the parishioners there are wholly neglected'. (fn. 166) The same burden is repeated until 1794 when the report was 'all's well'. (fn. 167) It was again reported in 1798 that there was no regular minister and that the chancel was out of repair; (fn. 168) the year before it was said that the roof had fallen in. (fn. 169) In 1800 Mr. Roberts was returned as curate and in 1804 a Mr. Bailey, (fn. 170) but the church was still out of repair in 1802, and the curate had no surplice, communion cloth, reading-desk, or pulpit. (fn. 171) By 1808 the Revd. Thomas Fry was officiating and was proposing to the bishop a scheme for the endowment of the church. He wrote that Toot Baldon had been served without salary for seventeen years by a friend of his, living in the parish, and that on his removal to Oxford the church would have been again neglected if Fry himself had not arranged with the lay impropriator, Mr. Elderfield, to take the church with an annexed salary of 5 guineas for the repair of the chancel. (fn. 172) His account does not altogether agree with the visitation returns, no doubt because his position was somewhat irregular, nor with his own account, written some fifty years later, of how he first came to take an interest in the parish. (fn. 173) But that the parish had been much neglected and that Thomas Fry played a major part in its recovery, is beyond dispute.
Fry's account gives a vivid picture of the consequences of neglect, and of his evangelizing work. A tenant farmer told him that the church had had no parson for seventeen years; that the dead were buried by the parishioners; that the children went unbaptized unless their parents could afford to take them to Marsh Baldon, and promised him a large congregation, a Sunday dinner, and corn for his horse if he would preach in the church. This he consented to do and with the help of his friends supplied the parish with 'a good ministry' for about fifty years. In 1851 the church was given a licensed curate; and he reported in 1854 that the congregation of 180 was perhaps increasing; that there was a Sunday school for 22 children, and an evening school five days in the week. Nevertheless work was hindered by 'the ignorance of the people and the low state into which they have sunk, from which nothing but education and the care of their superiors and employers can raise them'. (fn. 174) In 1858 Thomas Fry resigned the living.
Among those who assisted Fry and took duty from time to time was the Revd. George Porter, said to be a Calvinistic preacher of such power that he attracted so much 'carriage company' to the church that part of the congregation had to stand in the churchyard. In June 1830 an Oxford undergraduate wrote that he was going to Baldon from Oxford to hear him; that Gladstone thought him the finest preacher he had ever heard and that his sermons lasted an hour and a half. (fn. 175)
The parsonage house and school house are thought to have been built in Porter's time, that is between 1816 and 1831. (fn. 176) He was followed by A. C. Tait, the future Archbishop of Canterbury, and his friends Thomas Golightly of Brasenose and Dr. Johnson, bursar of Queen's College. (fn. 177) Tait used to sleep Saturday nights in the new parsonage house and lunch at Court House with the Fruin family— tenants of the Queen's College for several generations. (fn. 178) Golightly came more regularly than Tait, who made Marsh Baldon his special care. Another assistant was the vicar of Great Milton, the Revd. T. Shaw Hellier, who often walked over to take the service. (fn. 179)
A new vicarage was built during the incumbency of Edmund Peel (1860–71) as the result of an appeal initiated by Thomas Fry, (fn. 180) and the church building was restored under him and his two successors, J. C. Ross (1871–88) and G. F. Forbes (1888–94).
The church of ST. LAWRENCE is a good example of a small early-13th-century building. It is oblong in plan with chancel and nave of the same width, two narrow aisles and a western double bellgable of a very early character. (fn. 181) The chancel had two lancet windows on the north side before the restoration of 1865, when one was removed on the addition of a vestry and organ chamber. (fn. 182) There is another lancet window on the south side of the chancel and a 19th-century decorated window. The latter replaced an original window which was considered 'clumsy'. The 13th-century east window was replaced in 1800 by an 'ugly' wooden one, which was in turn replaced in 1865 by a three-light one of stone in the style of the 14th century.
The nave has four 13th-century arches on each side; the pillars of the north side have caps sculptured with stiff-leaf ornament, which is considered good work of early date. They are similar to the sculptured caps at Benson, another of the Abbey's churches, and may have been done by the same craftsman. The mouldings of the caps on the south side are equally early. There are also two 13thcentury buttresses at the west end of the nave. The north door is round-headed and apparently dates from the 12th century.
A small chapel has been thrown out on the south side of the nave. With its plain interlacing mullions it is thought to be not later than 1260 in date. It is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, like the mother church, Dorchester Abbey, and is traditionally but erroneously connected with Bishop Audley of Salisbury (1502–25). (fn. 183)
The roof, an open timber one which was opened up in 1865, spans both nave and aisles. The south door, which formerly had a segmental head of 14thcentury character, was rebuilt at the same time. The architect in charge of the restoration work was Henry Woodyer. The cost of restoration was £1,600.
Further repairs and improvements were carried out between 1873 and 1889. Windows of stained glass by Messrs. Horwood of Frome Selwood were inserted in the east and other windows. One is in memory of the Revd. Thomas Fry, benefactor of the church. (fn. 184) The head of the medieval churchyard cross was restored, a lych-gate and a sunk fence to the churchyard were added. New heating apparatus was installed and new bells were hung. (fn. 185) The church is now lit by electric light.
In 1548 the church had a light endowed with certain lands given by a forgotten donor. (fn. 186)
A service book with a medieval binding, belonging to Toot Baldon in the 16th century, has survived. It is a manual of about 1400 and contains a reference to another of the church's possessions, 'our old great masse boke'. (fn. 187)
In 1552 there were two little 'belles trussede', but the hand bell had been lost. (fn. 188) During the Civil War one of the remaining bells was said to be lost and the other thrown into a pond and recovered later. (fn. 189) Now both bells are 19th-century and bear the initials (C.E.F.) of the wife of G. F. Forbes, vicar 1888–94. (fn. 190)
The church has an Elizabethan chalice with paten cover, with the hall-mark 1575; a silver plate-paten of 1683, inscribed on the rim 'T.A.: I.C. 1684, Taut Baldon Church'; a pewter tankard flagon, inscribed with the name of Edward Wise, churchwarden in 1714. (fn. 191) The chalice of the 1552 inventory has disappeared.
The registers date from 1599 and are complete, except for a gap, 1732–46, in the marriage registers. There are a few entries for 1579–99 in the baptism register; there are briefs for 1716–19 and certificates of burial in woollen, 1679–1733. (fn. 192)
The Compton Census records four nonconformists in 1676, but none is mentioned in the bishop's visitation returns during the 18th century. The neglect of the church had its sequel in the growth of Methodism in the 19th century. A Primitive Methodist chapel was built in 1857 on J. Fidler's garden. The foundation trustees were five labourers of Toot Baldon, a shepherd, and a hawker, (fn. 195) a striking indication of the class from which Methodism in the village drew its support. The chapel was disused by 1887. (fn. 196)
There was a day school in Toot Baldon for 6 boys and 6 girls in 1815. (fn. 197) In 1833 (fn. 198) there existed two day schools for 58 children of both sexes, instructed at the expense of their parents. No details of the foundation are recorded but both schools were said to date from 1824. In 1838 these were replaced by a parochial school under the control of the Provost and Scholars of the Queen's College. (fn. 199) It was reported in 1867 to be a good school; (fn. 200) it was rebuilt in 1874 and enlarged in 1886 for 60 children. (fn. 201) This school survived until 1920, when the managers closed it, and the children were transferred to Marsh Baldon; the building was converted into a dwelling-house. (fn. 202)
See Marsh Baldon. (fn. 203)