A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 5, Bullingdon Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1957.
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Cuddesdon parish was originally larger than at present. It included the modern civil parishes of Wheatley and Denton as well as the hamlet of Chippinghurst, part of Littleworth, the deserted hamlet of Old Wheatley, and the detached 'manor' of the Vent. The earliest reliable estimate of the area of the ancient parish was made in 1881, after some changes had been made in its boundaries: it then covered 2,805 acres. (fn. 1) The area of the modern civil parish is 970 acres. (fn. 2) By the mid-19th century Chippinghurst, Denton, and Wheatley had become separate civil parishes. The part of Littleworth in the ancient parish was in Wheatley, while Vent farm lay in Cuddesdon civil parish. In 1878 parts of Cuddesdon (Vent farm, part of Holton Wood, Pilfrance) were transferred to Holton and other parts to Forest Hill. Wheatley civil parish had become an urban district under the Public Health Act of 1872. (fn. 3) This was dissolved in 1932 and Wheatley became part of Bullingdon Rural District. At the same time 13 acres were added to Wheatley from Chilworth civil parish, Chippinghurst civil parish was dissolved and became part of Denton, while 14 acres of Denton were transferred to Cuddesdon. (fn. 4)
The ancient parish of Cuddesdon stretched from Holton Brook on the north to Chislehampton on the south; it was flanked by the River Thame on the east, from a point just below Wheatley Bridge where there was a ford in 956, and, in the west, by the road from Garsington to Coombe Wood corner, a straete in Saxon times. (fn. 5) The northern boundary followed the present London road, except where the road has departed from its old route. Thus, owing to the road's former alignment on the ford across the Thame instead of on Wheatley Bridge, the boundary excluded the Bridge Hotel. Many points named in the Saxon bounds can still be traced, as for instance 'Maerwelle', a spring on the DentonGarsington boundary, (fn. 6) and 'Ceorla Graf' (later Chalgrove) the site of the medieval quarries. (fn. 7) In fact, apart from the separation of Wheatley and Denton, and the transference of the Vent, the bounds of Saxon times are still largely in force. (fn. 8) The modern boundary between the new parish of Wheatley and Cuddesdon is formed by the Cuddesdon Brook, which flows through Coombe Wood, and used to cut the ancient parish in two.
A plateau of Portland Oolite, rising to 422 ft. above sea-level on the ridge which forms the Horspath boundary, extends over most of the parish but slopes down steeply to Wheatley and the Thame on the north and Chippinghurst on the south. The soil is largely sand and loam, with a subsoil of clay, gravel, and sand. (fn. 9)
At one time the main Oxford to London road ran through the north of the parish, traversing the village of Wheatley; (fn. 10) the later turnpike, made in 1775 and still in use, skirts its northern limits. Secondary roads cross the parish from north to south, connecting Wheatley with Garsington and Denton, and a branch road runs from Cuddesdon to Great Milton. The railway, constructed in 1864, has a station at Wheatley, after the Wycombe company's proposal to build a line in 1860 had been stopped by the vicar because it was to by-pass Wheatley.
The parish was once well wooded. Timber on the 17th-century Wheatley estate was valued at £1,000 in 1664, and was still considerable in 1787, while Coombe Wood, today some 23 acres in extent, covered a large area. The latter is the remnant of the Abbot of Abingdon's wood, reckoned as half a mile broad and eight furlongs long in 1086. (fn. 11) In the 12th century the abbot allotted to its keeper 30s. from the tithes of Cuddesdon, and the customary receipts of the office brought in a further 20s. (fn. 12) The woodland is referred to as 'Cumbe' and 'Cumbergrave' in the 13th century, and the stream flowing through it along the valley bottom was known as 'Cume Brok', (fn. 13) and was a feeder of the River Thame. (fn. 14) Owing to the proximity of the royal forest of Shotover, the abbot proposed in 1267 to inclose the wood with hedge and ditch so as to exclude the royal deer. (fn. 15)
Grants of Abingdon Abbey's woodland in the early 16th century to Robert Browne (goldsmith), Christopher Edmondes, and William Wenlowe included 30 acres of Cuddesdon 'Combe', (fn. 16) which was probably inclosed by this time, for there is mention of a gate in 1593. (fn. 17) In 1638 the lord of the manor made 60 acres of the wood into a warren, and by 1667 it was inclosed by a wall. (fn. 18) The 17th-century gamekeeper's cottage is still tenanted, and Magdalen College is the present owner of Coombe Wood, having bought it from Lord Macclesfield.
In the Civil War, troops, first parliamentarian (1644), and then royalist (1646) were billeted in the parish. (fn. 19) Cuddesdon Bridge and Wheatley Bridge, both just outside the bounds, were important strategic points and were carefully guarded. (fn. 20)
Cuddesdon itself, on account of the Bishop's Palace (see below) has had some interesting historical associations. It was visited by Charlotte M. Yonge, (fn. 21) and many other distinguished people were entertained by the bishops, notably by Wilberforce, Paget, and Gore. (fn. 22) The historian Freeman was a frequent visitor in the time of Bishop Stubbs. (fn. 23)
As Cuddesdon and its hamlets have followed very diverse lines of development, their history will in the main be treated as separate units. Sections on Roman Catholicism, Protestant Nonconformity, Schools, and Charities, which cover the whole of the ancient parish, are followed here by separate sections on the topography, manors, economic and social history, and churches (where appropriate) of Cuddesdon, Denton and Chippinghurst, (fn. 24) and Wheatley and Littleworth, (fn. 25) and on Coombe (a lost village), (fn. 26) and the Vent. (fn. 27)
Roman Catholicism did not survive long in the ancient parish of Cuddesdon, though members of the Archdale family were returned as recusants in 1577. (fn. 28) In 1607 Maria Horseman and in 1608 Frances Webb were fined for non-attendance at church. In 1624 there were three recusants; Elizabeth Horseman lived in the parish (1603–30) and acquired notoriety at her death. (fn. 29) In 1676 there was one papist, in 1738 two, in 1759 four, and in 1768 there were two aged ones described as 'quiet and inoffensive'. In 1771 the only papist was a poor gardener. (fn. 30)
A Protestant dissenters' meeting-place at Wheatley, apparently Congregationalist, was registered in 1796. (fn. 31) The mission work of the Revd. James Hinton, who preached at Wheatley from 1797 to 1802, laid the foundations of Congregationalism there, though Hinton himself was a Baptist. He was followed by John Thomas Smith, a Congregationalist, who from about 1836 preached to attentive audiences from Wheatley and the surrounding villages. He found the greater number of his listeners 'deplorably ignorant of divine things' and their moral and spiritual condition 'truly lamentable'. (fn. 32)
In 1841 the Oxford and West Berkshire Congregational Association established a mission; in the following year a chapel was built for £335 and from 1843 was organized as an offshoot of George Street Church in Oxford. In 1884 the Congregationalists complained of competition from the Salvation Army and the Wesleyans (see below), but in 1891 they had Sunday attendances of 150 and attendances of 50 at what were probably night classes. In 1909 a Sunday school was also opened. William Faith was an outstanding minister. After the turn of the century the congregations averaged only 50, but in 1906 the numbers were reported to be increasing.
In 1927 the chapel, which had been restored in 1877 at a cost of £106, was again renovated for £317. In 1929 electric light was installed. (fn. 33)
During the 19th century the Wesleyans established themselves at Cuddesdon (once visited by Wesley himself), and built a chapel there in 1887. In 1953 it was pulled down as there were insufficient numbers. A Wesleyan Mission Room was opened at Wheatley in 1884, but closed in the following year. (fn. 34)
The Plymouth Brethren acquired Granary Hall (Wheatley) in 1928. (fn. 35)
There were two private schools in Cuddesdon in 1818, with 40 pupils each, half of whom were taught at the expense of the incumbent, but the poor were reported to have insufficient facilities for education. (fn. 36) One of these schools survived in 1833 when 16 boys and 40 girls attended, the fee being 3d. each a week, but half this sum was paid by the Bishop of Oxford. (fn. 37) In 1841 a site for a National school was obtained and the school was opened in 1847. It consisted of three classrooms, where in 1853 a master and mistress taught about 100 pupils. Some 30 infants were then taught by Miss Rebecca Allen in a cottage in Church Road. Later the infants too were taught in the National school, which accounts for the high attendance figure of III in 1904. (fn. 38) But in 1906 the average attendance was given as 59. (fn. 39) The school was, until 1951, a voluntary Church of England school, but then became a primary school under the Local Education Authority. It is known as Cuddesdon Junior and Infant School. (fn. 40)
Greater provision was made for Wheatley. In 1724 the parish had a charity school for twelve children, which was probably in Wheatley; in 1759 the bishop was paying a schoolmaster to teach six children reading and writing at a rate of 12s. a year each, (fn. 41) but this was a voluntary arrangement and there was no other endowed school. (fn. 42) But in 1791 other arrangements had been made, as the churchwardens then paid Joseph Calloway £4 2s. 2d. 'for schooling', (fn. 43) and the overseers are found paying the expenses in 1813. (fn. 44) Dr. Moss, Bishop of Oxford, bequeathed £3,000 in 1811, the bulk of which was to be used to found, but not to endow, schools at Wheatley and Cuddesdon on the Bell plan, which were to be supported by the National Society. A school at Wheatley was accordingly opened in 1819 and was held by trustees under the general control of the bishop. Alterations and extensions provided accommodation for 95 boys and 55 girls and a house for the master and mistress. The endowment produced an income of £45, and the difference between this and the running costs of the school (estimated at £100 in 1819) was met partly by private subscriptions and partly by payment by parents. Writing, arithmetic, and needlework (for the girls), were taught. (fn. 45) In 1833 it had average attendances of 64 boys and 33 girls (fn. 46) which had risen by 1866 to 90 boys and 95 girls, with a staff of 3 masters and 4 monitors. (fn. 47) Children then came to the school from Cuddesdon, Denton, and Holton, though the vicar complained that respectable children tended to go to Cuddesdon. (fn. 48) The old site was sold and a new site conveyed to the trustees in 1857. (fn. 49) By 1906 attendance had fallen to 131. (fn. 50) An infants' school was founded in 1841 by the Misses Tyndale of Holton; it was managed by the trustees of the National school and in 1853 had an attendance of 30, which had doubled by 1906. (fn. 51) Today these schools survive as the Wheatley Church of England Mixed, and Wheatley Church of England Infants' School. In 1833 there were three other small paying schools in Wheatley. In 1854 a small parish library was opened. (fn. 52) The Congregationalists had opened a night school about 1836, and by 1892 their working-men's classes had an attendance of 80. A new Congregational school with accommodation for 50 pupils was completed in 1898 at a cost of £600. (fn. 53)
In 1640 John Child of London gave to the poor of Cuddesdon parish not in receipt of relief £4 a year secured on a house. The rent charge continued to be regularly paid by the owner of the property and was distributed in small sums soon after Lady Day. In 1734 Francis Saunders of Denton bequeathed a rent charge of £3 a year to be laid out in clothing for four poor persons of Denton on Easter Monday. The money, less land tax, was paid each year until 1812 when the owner of the land out of which the rent issued refused payment. The Charity Commissioners found that the estate was in the hands of a mortgagee, and threatened a suit in Chancery, but the charity appears to have lapsed. (fn. 54)
Abraham Archdale saved one Wheatley charity from the rapacity of John Gadbury and endowed another with £100 in 1631. (fn. 55) In the 17th century the interest on this was allowed to accumulate and by 1686 Pollin's meadow in Wheatley had been purchased, and was added to land already held for the use of the poor. In 1630 Thomas Westbrooke of Horspath left £15 to Wheatley poor, and in 1686 15s. was paid annually from a house in Horspath. In 1824 it was collected every four or five years and paid out in bread for the poor. A close called Simon's Close, held by Sir Sebastian Smythe in 1686, was then charged with £5 a year, which was allotted to the poor in equal portions at Christmas and Easter.
In 1688 Elizabeth Curson of Waterperry gave £100, the interest on which was to be used for apprenticing or schooling poor children in Wheatley. In 1692 orders were given to invest this in land, but nothing appears to have been done until in 1773 the bequest, together with £100 given by Mr. Sims of Wheatley, was used to purchase land, which in 1824 produced £15 a year. All the Wheatley charities were at this date merged, and in the early 19th century were mainly used to supplement the poor-rate, thus defeating the intentions of the donors.
In 1816 Dr. Cyril Jackson gave £100, which was invested and produced £5 a year in 1824, which was expended in clothing for the poor. (fn. 56)
The Westbrooke, Town Meadow, and Simon's Close Charities are now regulated by a scheme of 1863, and the others by one of 1887. The Town Meadow property was leased every three years by candle auction. There is, in addition, the Wheatley Common allotment charity which is regulated by a scheme of 1879. (fn. 57) All the money from these charities is now distributed at Christmas to about 70 old people.
Cuddesdon, standing on the uplands in the centre of the parish, overlooks the surrounding hamlets and commands views as far as Brill in the north, the Chilterns in the south-east, and Wittenham Clumps. There is evidence of a Roman villa on the hill, and Roman pottery has been found in Cuddesdon wood. (fn. 58) The name Cuddesdon, 'hill of Cuthwine', (fn. 59) points to early Saxon settlement, which has been confirmed by the finding of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and other remains. (fn. 60)
Cuddesdon village, long outgrown by Wheatley, comprises groups of cottages of rubble and brick, with thatch, tile, or slate roofs, which line the Wheatley road as it curves down the hill from the church towards Denton. Some, like the Old Vicarage, are of 18th-century date. The Bishop's Palace and the Theological College (see below) stand at the crest of the road before it descends through the village. The village cross, now removed to the churchyard, once stood near the point where the road forks to the church. (fn. 61) The latter stands in a commanding position off the main road. The vicarage lies to the north and Manor Farm (see below) to the south. Opposite Manor Farm is another freehold farm, Dovehouse Farm, an 18thcentury ashlar building with tiled roof and a large walled garden.
The Bishop's Palace was built by Bishop Bancroft (1632–41), the first Bishop of Oxford to reside at Cuddesdon, and replaced the parsonage, described as 'old and mean'. (fn. 62) It was completed by 1634 (fn. 63) at an alleged cost of £2,400. It was 'a fair house of stone', the gables of which are shown in the background of contemporary portraits of Bancroft, and it had a chapel, and surrounding garden and orchard. (fn. 64) Archbishop Laud, by whose persuasion it had been built, visited the palace in 1636. (fn. 65) In 1644, however, it was scorched by Colonel William Legge, as a precaution against parliamentary occupation. (fn. 66) In 1652 the parliamentary commissioners sold the land and chapel, and as only part of the house had survived, no mansion of any size figures in the hearth tax return of 1665. (fn. 67) In 1679 Bishop Fell undertook complete restoration, after it had been estimated that £1,997 was needed for repairs. (fn. 68) The contractor, Richard Frogley of Holywell, and the stone-mason, Thomas Wood of Oxford, had a dispute about the work, and the evidence produced in court gives details of the construction and reveals that Burford stone was used in part. (fn. 69) Only a fireplace now remains of the first palace; the second was described by Bishop Wilberforce in 1845 as 'an old H-shaped house, a rambling sort of country-gentleman's house'. (fn. 70) It is strange that an alehouse existed in the palace grounds up to Wilberforce's time, he himself, as a visitor, having been woken by 'a chorus of yells, howls, shouts, &c., like a perfect Jacquerie', and told that it was probably 'the Garsington men going home from drinking in our ale house'. (fn. 71) Wilberforce enlarged the house, adding a vestibule in front of the north-west door, and a Gothic chapel. The latter was designed by B. Ferrey, and dedicated in 1846 to St. Peter and St. Paul. (fn. 72) Four stained-glass windows by T. Willement (fn. 73) containing the arms of the Prince Consort and Wilberforce, were given by Queen Victoria, her consort, and the two archbishops. The palace ceased to be occupied by the bishop in 1937; (fn. 74) between 1939 and 1945 it was occupied by Queen Anne's Bounty, and between 1946 and 1949 by the Society of the Salutation of Mary the Virgin.
The Theological College, built by G. E. Street to house a diocesan training college planned by Bishop Wilberforce, was opened in 1854. (fn. 75) The building is an example of the neo-Gothic style, with a Decorated chapel.
The present Manor Farm stands on the site of the former manor-house. It contains some traces of 16th- and 17th-century work, and there are late 17th-century arches in the stable. There are no traces of the 15th-century building which stood on the same site and was connected with the churchyard by steps. (fn. 76) It had a 'chekkaer' and a chapel. (fn. 77) During the Civil War the house was scorched by royalist troops, (fn. 78) and views of the manor in 1804 suggest that at this date it was a ruin. (fn. 79)
There is an 18th-century water-mill standing on the Thame, which once belonged to Cuddesdon manor. It is known that Abingdon Abbey had a mill here, which it lost during the Danish invasions, but afterwards recovered. (fn. 80) The mill was the cause of much strife with the Bishop of Lincoln's tenants at Great Milton, who threatened to destroy the weir in 1066, but were foiled by Abbot Ealdred, supposedly with the aid of the miraculous bones of St. Vincent. (fn. 81) Later they or their descendants twice destroyed the mill inclosure, and in 1108 the bishop made them repair it. (fn. 82) In 1279 the mill weir was called 'Cliffware', (fn. 83) and in 1397–8 the sacristan of Abingdon Abbey had 13s. 4d. from the mill. Its farm was worth £5 in 1539. (fn. 84)
A second mill, on the stream called 'Cumbe Brok', is mentioned in 1279. It is not clear whether it was this mill or the mill on the Thame which was granted to Robert Browne in 1545. (fn. 85) In Elizabeth I's reign his mill had passed from George Bartlett to John Barston, (fn. 86) whose family came to own both the mills. From Richard Barston (1613) they descended to his son Thomas, who was dead by 1624, (fn. 87) and in a document of 1678 are referred to as 'Down' and 'Overshot'. (fn. 88) They were owned by William Broadwater in 1705. (fn. 89) The Thame mill, rebuilt about 1800, is still workable, but has been inactive since about 1935 and serves as a store.
A fishery, or perhaps originally two as in 1086, went with the Cuddesdon mill. Domesday Book records that two fisheries and the mill rendered 12s. yearly to Abingdon Abbey. (fn. 90) One of these fisheries stretched from the Thame mill to the weir in Wheatley meadow; in the modern period its ownership generally followed that of the manor. (fn. 91) It now belongs to the present lord, Magdalen College.
In 956 land assessed at 20 hides in CUDDESDON and its hamlets was granted by Edwy to Earl Aelfhere, who in turn bestowed it on Abingdon Abbey. (fn. 92) The abbey remained lord of this estate until the Dissolution, except for Chippinghurst, assessed at 3 hides, which had been lost by 1086. (fn. 93) Wheatley and Denton, although possessed by Abingdon throughout the medieval period, came to rank as separate manors, (fn. 94) but Cuddesdon proper remained the most valuable manor, judging by the assessment of 1538–9. (fn. 95)
In the early Middle Ages Abingdon administered its manor through a steward, (fn. 96) and assigned the profits to specific uses at the abbey; to the altar, for instance, to the cook, and, especially from the early 13th century onwards, to wine for festivals. (fn. 97) In 1375–6 and 1383–4 it received as much as £66 and £86. There is no evidence whether the demesne was leased or not during the later medieval period, but the manor-house was leased in 1421. (fn. 98)
In 1526 the king granted the manor to Wolsey's college at Oxford, (fn. 99) but it is possible that the abbey never in fact lost it, for in 1537 the abbot wrote that he had offered to a Mr. Aisheton the farm of Cuddesdon for £29 14s. 4d. a year. It was then and had been in the hands of Edward, son of Sir Richard Fowler, 'who lives honestly upon it to keep a good house'. The rent represented the 'farm' of the demesne land, rents from free and customary tenants bringing in another £14 5s. 0d. to the abbey. (fn. 100)
By 1546 the manor was in the hands of the Crown, and being farmed by John Egerley, royal bailiff of 'Cuddesdon lordship'. (fn. 101) Soon after it came into the hands of Robert Lyde or Joyner of Dorchester. In a Chancery suit heard some time between 1558 and 1579, Lyde was declared to have been seised before his death of the manor and 500 acres of pasture and meadow; these were later alleged to be worth £200 a year. (fn. 102) Robert made his will in 1557, leaving the manor, with various annuities, chargeable on the estate, to a younger son Richard. Robert's brotherin-law, Luke Bewforrest, and John Smyth were made executors and were to occupy Cuddesdon farm for six years. (fn. 103)
It seems that the estate went through many hands in the following years. Thomas Kennyngton or Barnarde of Iffley and Bartholomew Benford (a yeoman of Stanton St. John and a brother-in-law of Richard Joyner the legatee) occupied the premises for six years, alleging that they did so under letters patent. They further stated that Robert Joyner, having fallen sick, had given the property to Sir Francis Englefield and Christopher Smith as overseers. This probably explains a royal grant in 1558 of the manor-house, lands, stock, and grain, to these two persons. The yearly value was then estimated at £12 13s. 4d. (fn. 104)
Richard Joyner became (fn. 105) involved in a lawsuit against Bewforrest over the 'site' of Cuddesdon. (fn. 106) His brother Robert Joyner also went to law over the estate, (fn. 107) and five other relatives contested their legacies. (fn. 108) Richard died in 1613 seised of 'a site and capital messuage' and about 620 acres of land, leaving the property, apparently mortgaged, to his son Richard. He seems to have foreseen difficulties, for in his will (proved 1614) he left his elder son Francis a legacy of £30, which was to cease should he molest Richard in any way over the lands granted to him. This son Francis went to law over his exclusion, and the court ruled that he should have Cuddesdon manor, and his brother Richard an annuity. (fn. 109) The whole history of the manor in these years continued to be inextricably confused. Francis at one stage had possession of a third of the manor, (fn. 110) but in the end the Joyner brothers sold the property for £6,000 to William Child, a public notary of London, who had married into their family. At this time the manor was valued at £10 a year, the manor-house at £5, 6 messuages and 10 cottages at £4, and Cuddesdon Coombe (i.e. the wood) at 13s. 4d. (fn. 111)
William Child died seised of the manor in 1637–8; his son John inherited, (fn. 112) but conveyed it to his brother-in-law Thomas Gardiner, recorder of London and solicitor general to Charles I. (fn. 113) Thomas was described by Clarendon as 'a man of gravity and quickness that had somewhat of authority and gracefulness in his person and presence'. He was knighted in 1641 and had his goods seized by Parliament in 1643. (fn. 114) He compounded with the parliamentarians in 1646 for a fine of £942 13s. 4d. (fn. 115) and died in 1652. (fn. 116) In his will (1648), he referred to his possessions as 'that temporal estate which is left me in these troublesome and distracted times, whereby it hath been broken and wasted in exceeding great measure', and left his lands at Cuddesdon, Denton, and Wheatley to Hugh Audley, his colleague of the Inner Temple, to be sold to discharge debts. (fn. 117) Audley must eventually have sold the manor some time after 1667 (fn. 118) to Sebastian Smythe, D.D., a Bristol man and a Canon of Christ Church. (fn. 119) He died in 1674, having settled the manor in 1667 on his lawyer son Sebastian on his marriage to Grace Astyn. (fn. 120) The young man was knighted in 1685 and became a bencher of the Inner Temple in 1697. A 'great lover of money', according to Hearne, he died in 1733, being succeeded at Cuddesdon by his son Sebastian, who died in 1752. The latter's heir was his daughter, Barbara, who died unmarried in 1787 at the age of 76. (fn. 121) She had lived like her ancestors at Cuddesdon, and was buried there. Her monument records 'a life spent in the most unremitting attention to every religious, moral and social duty'.
The manor then passed to Sir John WhalleyGardiner, lord of Tackley and a grandson of Grace Smythe, sister of Sebastian (III) Smythe, and her husband, Dr. Bernard Gardiner. (fn. 122) Sir John incorporated Smythe into his name by royal licence in 1787; he is chiefly remembered for 'drinking to death five aldermen and Oxford tailors three'. He enlarged the Cuddesdon estate, (fn. 123) and was succeeded by his son, Sir James, at whose death in 1805 the manor passed to Sir Oswald Mosley, brother-in-law of Sir James. A period of dispersal of the estate followed. The mortgagees and trustees of Sir James Whalley-Smythe-Gardiner, third baronet, sold Cuddesdon and Denton manors to Lord Macclesfield in 1848. (fn. 124) Magdalen College were lords of the manor in 1901, the size of the estate then being 1,348 acres. (fn. 125)
Economic and Social History.
The Domesday survey records under Abingdon Abbey's Cuddesdon estate of 18 plough-lands a community of 8 serfs, working on the demesne, and 24 villeins and 12 bordars, who farmed the remaining land. (fn. 126) This community almost certainly included the population of the abbey's hamlets of Denton and Wheatley, not at that time separate manors, and it seems likely that the eight serfs on the demesne were the only recorded inhabitants of Cuddesdon. By 1279, however, the land at Denton and Wheatley had been split among free tenants, leaving the demesne at Cuddesdon still farmed by tenants in servitude. At this date the first clear evidence of the population of Cuddesdon township (as opposed to the whole estate) gives us a community of 24 villeins and 13 cottars. (fn. 127) These figures suggest that there had been a considerable expansion of population since 1086. The assessments of 1316 and 1327, listing respectively 20 and 28 taxpayers at Cuddesdon, confirm the impression. The comparatively small variations in assessments (the richer inhabitants being taxed at between 4s. 6d. and 7s.) indicate that there was little disparity in wealth among the taxpayers. (fn. 128) In 1377, 89 persons over fourteen were listed for the poll tax. (fn. 129)
Next to nothing is known of the life of this community in the later Middle Ages. In the 16th century there were freeholders as well as customary tenants, (fn. 130) but it seems unlikely that the long period of disputed ownership of the manor in the later 16th and early 17th century, and the Civil War, conduced to prosperity. The hearth tax return of 1665 records only nine householders, two with four or more hearths (including the probable tenant of the manorhouse), two with two hearths, and the remainder with one, (fn. 131) and therefore all apparently of modest means. Concentration on sheep-farming (see below) probably accounts for Cuddesdon's decline in population. Later population figures show a rise from 244 in 1801 to 401 in 1871, and a subsequent decline to 301 in 1901. (fn. 132) The population in 1951 was 312. (fn. 133)
Though so depopulated Cuddesdon preserved its independence of Wheatley. It had, for instance, a separate poor-rate in the 18th century. The total expended in 1776 was £49 7s. 5d., rising by 1803 to £195 10s. 3d., which represented the low rate of 2s. 6d. in the £. All the recipients received outdoor relief; 20 people were relieved occasionally and 16 children were taught in a school of industry. The minutes of the select vestry from 1829 to 1839 have survived and show that, as in Wheatley, a labour rate had been adopted and that no person could get relief unless he or she had previously applied to the local farmers for work. In 1832 the overseers tried to encourage emigration by distributing pamphlets, and in 1839 £60 was raised to help the poor to emigrate.
Until recently the villagers have always got their living from the land. A few, no doubt, had other occupations; there is a record of a maltster in 1705, and of the Stone family which sold tobacco to the neighbourhood about the same date. (fn. 134) In 1853 there were two bakers, a butcher and a carrier. (fn. 135) But as late as 1900 most of the men were past or present employees of the two local farmers. Those who were not found work at Denton House, at the palace or the college. More recently, many people have been employed in industrial work at Cowley. In 1953 there were two shopkeepers.
Cuddesdon's land has always been used for agriculture. Its down-like uplands have an easily tilled sandy soil, with medium loam in places, while the lower land near the river has always been good pasture and meadow. Nothing is known of its medieval economy, but a royal grant of 1557–8 throws some light on later practice. It lists the manor's growing crops as follows: 18 acres sown with wheat, 2 with oats, 9 with rye, 60 with barley, 11 with pulse. The stock comprised 16 cows, 1 bull, 16 pigs, 1 boar, and 5 carthorses. (fn. 136)
On account of the suitability of the soil, sheepfarming was combined with tillage at an early stage. There is evidence of inclosure for pasture in 1517 when William Cotesmore is recorded as holding 60 inclosed acres called 'Grovelese', (fn. 137) and in 1503 Robert Bolt was leasing 80 acres, formerly under the plough, which he had inclosed with hedges and ditches for pasture, allowing the messuage to fall in ruin, and so displacing a plough and four people. (fn. 138) In 1639, an extent of the manor included two closes called Great and Little Stowell Field (estimated at 140 acres), a pasture called Sheephouse Close with barn and sheepfold (estimated at 70 acres), and several other pastures and meadows. In 1642 there were closes of 56, 47, 40, and 134 acres called Downefield, Middle Mead, Uttelton Bottom, and Uttelton Fields with Upper Combe, (fn. 139) which still belong to Manor Farm, though Upper Combe is now divided. By the late 18th century almost all the fields of Cuddesdon and Chippinghurst must have been inclosed. There is no record of any parliamentary award and Arthur Young in 1807 refers to Cuddesdon as inclosed. (fn. 140) Fifty-two acres were inclosed under the Denton award (fn. 141) of 1848, 36 acres being allotted to the lord of the manor, the Earl of Macclesfield, and about 15 to the Bishop of Oxford.
Arthur Young also noted the keeping of sheep at Cuddesdon, reporting that they used to be all Wiltshires, but that many farmers had changed to a cross between Leicester and Cotswold. (fn. 142) By 1854 John Chillingworth of Cuddesdon Manor House was keeping 'Down Cotswolds'. (fn. 143) He was a well-known farmer who later moved to Chippinghurst, which became the centre of a group of his farms, which were organized on very economical lines, labour being switched from one to the other as needed. His successor, William Chillingworth, had a flock of some 500 sheep in 1870, when Oxfordshire rams and ewes from Cuddesdon were shown at the Royal Oxford Show. (fn. 144) More recently Hampshire Down sheep have been bred, and at present both Cuddesdon's farmers buy Kent lambs in August to sell in Oxford the following May.
Dairy farming has also been important; it has been assisted by the soil, which allows of double cropping. The 'catch-cropping' of G. Palmer, for instance, was well-known in the 20th century. At the end of the 18th century Arthur Young noted 'two complete dairies' on the good dairy land of Cuddesdon, (fn. 145) and some years later Gale, (fn. 146) another progressive farmer, had a herd of improved shorthorns.
The advowson of Cuddesdon was obtained by Abingdon Abbey during the time of Abbot Faritius (1100–17). (fn. 147) In 1231 the abbey was granted papal permission to appropriate the church for the support of their infirmary, on condition that they paid a pension to the rector and endowed a vicarage. (fn. 148) The revenue of the parish was to be divided, the abbey getting the rectory house and the tithes on corn. The vicar was to get the other tithes, except those from the mill and the abbey's demesne. He was to have the proceeds from the altar, a ½ hide of land at Denton, and the right to keep four boars and two stallions with the abbey beasts. He was to serve the church himself, provide books and lights for it, and pay any other minister, including probably a chaplain for Wheatley. (fn. 149) His house stood opposite the graveyard and next to a croft, across which the monks were to have a right of way to carry their corn. (fn. 150)
Probably because of ancient rights in the parish (fn. 151) St. Frideswide's in 1122 was granted by Henry I part of the tithes in Denton and Chippinghurst, with 3 acres of land in Cuddesdon. (fn. 152) This grant was confirmed by a court of inquiry in 1324. (fn. 153)
Abingdon kept Cuddesdon church until the Dissolution. It was one of the most valuable churches in the deanery, being worth £20 in 1254 (fn. 154) and £26 13s. 4d. in 1291. (fn. 155) Sixteenth-century accounts do not give its value.
Although the vicarage had been endowed by 1238 with £13 6s. 8d., it never seems to have been worth that sum in the early Middle Ages. (fn. 156) In 1254 it was assessed at £4 (fn. 157) and in 1291 at £5 6s. 8d., but in 1535 it was worth £17 0s. 4d. (fn. 158) By 1520 the vicar was non-resident, the chancel was out of repair, and vestments and surplices were lacking. (fn. 159) In 1526 the vicar, Master Richard Stoke, was receiving £16 13s. 4d., but from this, among other expenses, he had to pay a curate £6 and a pension of £6 13s. 4d. to Master Stephen Brawderibe, a retired vicar. (fn. 160) Stoke was a prominent Fellow of Magdalen, who in 1527 closely contested the presidency. (fn. 161) In 1540 he was still non-resident and was disregarding the royal order to distribute a fortieth of his benefice to the poor. (fn. 162)
At the Dissolution the rectory came to the Crown, which leased it out; in 1539, for example, the tithes of Cuddesdon, Denton, Wheatley, and Chippinghurst were granted to Sir John Brome of Holton. (fn. 163) During Elizabeth I's reign Richard Nevill had a 21-year lease of all buildings, orchard, glebe, and tithes for £17 13s. 4d. (fn. 164) A grant of 1585 was to Barentyne Molyns and others, (fn. 165) who were soon at law with Richard Joyner (fn. 166) about it. (fn. 167) The Crown kept the advowson, which was excluded from a grant of the manor in 1558 (fn. 168) until in 1589 the queen made a new endowment of the See of Oxford and granted it and the rectory to the bishop. (fn. 169)
When John Bancroft became bishop in 1632, he had permission to hold cures to the value of £40, and when Cuddesdon fell vacant he held it in commendam. (fn. 170) It was on the glebe that he built the first bishop's palace, (fn. 171) and in 1637 he was given permission by the king to appropriate the vicarage to the see. (fn. 172)
The result was that the vicarage and rectory were united. The bishop was technically vicar, and the church was served by a curate chosen by him. Except during the Commonwealth, this arrangement lasted until 1852, when the vicarage was separated from the see by Act of Parliament. (fn. 173) Bancroft's successor, however, Bishop Skinner, was sequestrated from the vicarage in 1646 and replaced by W. Beecher, who had him cited for depredations on the vicarage and for retaining the tithes. (fn. 174) The advowson still belonged to the bishop in 1953, and it is customary for the vice-principal of the Theological College to be vicar. In 1953 the net value of the vicarage was £207. (fn. 175)
The bishop was entitled to all the tithes. By 1791 a modus was being paid in lieu of them, 20 people contributing a total of £116 for six months. (fn. 176) In 1840 the tithes were commuted for £325, including tithe on nearly 30 acres of glebe. (fn. 177) When the vicarage was separated from the see in 1852, Bishop Grosseteste's original ordination of the vicarage was referred to in order to divide the charge on the tithes; it was found that the rector was entitled to tithes of corn and grain only, amounting to £145, and the vicar to the others, worth £175. (fn. 178) Certain properties, including the Vent farm, the 'King's Arms', and the mill, evidently those free from tithes in the 13th century, were still tithe free. (fn. 179)
Since Cuddesdon was the home of the bishop, the church was often the scene of unusual activity. During the 18th century there were eight communion services a year instead of the usual four. (fn. 180) Ordinations were held (fn. 181) and confirmations for neighbouring parishes; in 1778, for example, 300 were confirmed in Cuddesdon church, and 360 in 1798. (fn. 182) Probably the most distinguished curate was William Thomson, who was officiating in about 1846 in the time of Bishop Wilberforce; a well-known theologian, he later became Archbishop of York. (fn. 183)
The church of ALL SAINTS is cruciform, with chancel, nave, side aisles, transepts, and central tower. The original church must have been built before 1117, when Abbot Faritius, who gave it to Abingdon Abbey, died. (fn. 184) It was rebuilt on a cruciform plan about 1180. There is good Romanesque carving on the west and south doorways, with lozenge moulding and tooth ornament. Of the same period are the tower arches, the west buttresses, the walls of the north transept (with one small roundheaded window), the stair turret at the north-west angle of the tower, and the opening to the rood loft. (fn. 185) The nave aisles were added in the mid-13th century, the north aisle being rougher work than the south, and three small lancet windows on the south side belong to this period. In the 14th century most of the aisle windows were replaced, the walls were raised, and the south porch added. The clerestory, the west windows, and the window in the north wall on the north transept were added just before the chancel was rebuilt in the late 14th or early 15th century, perhaps in 1375–6, when the accounts of Abingdon Abbey include a payment of 50s. for Wheatley stone super cancellam de cuddesdon. (fn. 186) Traces of painting, possibly medieval, remain on the tower piers.
By 1520 the chancel was in need of repair, (fn. 187) and in 1630, in spite of episcopal patronage, the body of the church and the seats were noted as in great decay. (fn. 188) Bartholomew Day, a local craftsman, undertook repairs; and the upper part of the tower, the south transept, the oak roof of the nave, and other woodwork are of this date. During the 18th century many minor repairs and improvements were carried out. A new clock was made (1776), and Mr. Bush of Oxford supplied a new weather-vane in 1789. (fn. 189) In 1842 major restoration work began under G. E. Street, the diocesan architect. (fn. 190) The groining of the crossing was restored, the west gallery and the plaster ceiling of the chancel removed, and the roof repaired. The 'four clumsy windows' in the chancel were replaced; stalls, a stone pulpit, reredos, and new glass in the choir were added. A new pulpit of oak was installed in 1896, executed by C. E. Kempe and carved by Miss Stubbs, the bishop's daughter. Hardman made the west window (Christ in Majesty) from Street's design. Electric light was installed in 1895–6, and the high altar was reconstructed in 1931 by H. S. Rogers, architect, of Oxford. Chancel screen, gates, and nave altar commemorate Vice-Principal J. Russell (d. 1937). Recent stained glass displays episcopal coats of arms, and there are memorial windows to Bishop Mackarness (d. 1889), Bishop Stubbs (d. 1901), and Joseph Moore, Vicar of Buckland (Berks.) (d. 1876). (fn. 191)
The inventory of 1553 shows a rich variety of vestments which did not long survive. Perhaps there was also a minor possession of interest, for in 1529 William Bayley, who left 'his beste goode' as mortuary, following the custom of the parish, bequeathed 20d. 'to buy a pursse to cary the blessed sacrament to visitacions within the parish'. (fn. 192) The earliest plate dates from 1771. (fn. 193) There are six bells mostly dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, and a sanctus. The second, third, and fourth are by Henry Knight of Reading. A former fifth was dated 1677, and a former tenor 1709. (fn. 194)
Denton and Chippinghurst
Denton, the settlement in the valley, (fn. 195) lies to the south of the ancient parish in the depression between Cuddesdon and Garsington; though still only a hamlet it has long formed a separate civil parish, to which Chippinghurst was added in 1932. (fn. 196) Its area in 1951 was 845 acres. (fn. 197) The cottages are grouped round the green and along the road from Chippinghurst to the bridle path, which was in 1586 the 'highwaye from Oxford to Denton'. (fn. 198) Upperfield Farm and some of the cottages date from the 16th and 17th centuries; a timber-framed granary from the 16th century, and Lower Farm is a muchaltered 18th-century house. Manor Farm, standing on the Garsington road, was built in 1904. There are no shops or public houses.
The earliest parts of Denton House date from the 16th century; they still contain two Tudor fireplaces, a fine Jacobean staircase dated 1614, a room with oak panelling of the same period, and another with ash panels of about 1700. (fn. 199) The main parts of the building were, however, built in the 18th century, the tall ashlar and rubble exterior being refaced in 1759. A long hall traverses each floor. (fn. 200) Alterations were made in 1900 and again in 1934 (the latter being planned by S. W. Neighbour of London, architect, and executed by Messrs. Cullum of Wheatley). The garden stands in a large inclosure, next the road to Garsington, which runs round it. Its walls contain fragments of late medieval tracery including the original east window from Brasenose College chapel, and part of the library windows, brought to Denton during alterations to the college in 1844–5. (fn. 201) Across the road there are 17th-century stables, with a large pigeon-loft, a 15th- or 16th-century barn (formerly larger), with the date 1696 above a cusped window of moulded stone.
The hamlet of Chippinghurst, which crowned the 200-foot-high knoll in the valley south of Denton, is today represented by the Tudor manor-house and its modern dower-house. It was reconstructed by the architect Fielding Dodd in 1937, when a new wing was added; it was used as a maternity home during the Second World War. There is now no trace of the medieval manor-house or of the former hamlet. The only evidence we have for the history of the building is that it had nine hearths in 1665. (fn. 202) The only communication with the outside world is by the Cuddesdon-Chislehampton road, or, when there are no floods, by the footpath and by steppingstones across the Thame to Little Milton.
The medieval community of DENTON formed a complex tenurial pattern. From 956 to the Dissolution Abingdon Abbey was the overlord, most of the land being held after the Conquest by tenants by military service, who performed castle guard at Windsor. (fn. 203) In 1279 Denton, then described as a hamlet of the manor of Cuddesdon, was divided into three main holdings. (fn. 204) The Abbot of Abingdon held 17 virgates in demesne, of which 15 were held in villeinage, and 2 pertained to the church. Secondly, there were 2 hides which had been held by the Templars since about 1240 when they had received the manor of Sandford, (fn. 205) to which these lands pertained. (fn. 206) Philip de Stocwell held of the Templars, one of the hides being held of him in villeinage, and the other, as 1/8th of a knight's fee, by Reynold de Gardino, perhaps a son of the John de Gardino who had held both hides before the Templars had received Sandford. (fn. 207) Four tenants held of Reynold—Julian, Thomas, and Peter de Gardino, presumably his kinsmen, (fn. 208) and John de Warewik— and paid annual money rents, while seven subtenants held of John and three of Thomas. Thirdly, Henry de Mache, or Henry of Wheatley, held directly of the abbot 1 hide in Denton, which with 2 hides in Wheatley (fn. 209) made up ½ knight's fee. (fn. 210) The burden of the foreign service of castle guard at Windsor fell upon Reynold de Gardino and Henry of Wheatley. The demesne lands of Denton were administered by the abbey's steward at Cuddesdon. (fn. 211) After the dissolution of the Temple in England in 1308 the Hospitallers became the abbey's tenants of the hides which went with Sandford manor.
After the Dissolution Denton was divided between several owners, none of whom had manorial rights. The capital messuage at Denton, with 4 virgates of land, 22 houses and cottages, and 31 other virgates in Cuddesdon and Denton, was held in chief by George Barston at his death in 1607. (fn. 212) His heir, John, who succeeded at the age of eleven, had moved to his Chippinghurst property by 1622, and sold the Denton land to William Piers, Bishop of Peterborough. (fn. 213) The bishop left the land to his son John, who sold half the estate and manor-house to E. Budgell, a 'sad villain', according to Hearne. John Piers lived in a neighbouring farm, and in spite of a number of disputes with Budgell allowed him to live in the whole house in 1725. (fn. 214) Later owners were William Mills (c. 1795) of Teddington (Mdx.), his nephew George Henry Browne (d. 1831), and his son Thomas Browne, the Revd. Walter Sneyd, who obtained the property in 1841, Captain George Wayne Gregorie (in 1871), the Revd. William Urquhart (in 1885), and Sir Edward Loughlin O'Malley (in 1892). (fn. 215) In 1934 BrigadierGeneral C. A. L. Graham became the owner. The house now has only 12 acres of ground. Throughout this post-Reformation period, the owners of Denton House were in practice the squires of the village, although they had no manorial rights.
The Queen's College has been one of the principal landowners in Denton since the 16th century. John Pantrea gave 2 messuages called 'Bromeslands' and all his Denton property to the college by will dated 1530, the previous owner of this land having been John Brome of Holton. (fn. 216) Another parcel of Denton land came to the college from William Dennison, (fn. 217) so that by 1559 the college had acquired a large share of land in the village, including 'Pollard's Close', held by the Wellys family since 1438. (fn. 218) The college property was attached to its manor of Toot Baldon. (fn. 219)
In 1720 and 1730 Lord Parker bought land in the village, including 3 yardlands of 90 acres held by the Munt family from 1564 (when they bought it from their landlord) until 1706. (fn. 220) In the 19th century, first the Earl of Macclesfield and then Magdalen College became landowners, as successors to the disintegrated Whalley-Gardiner estate at Cuddesdon. (fn. 221) Magdalen and Queen's Colleges were the chief landowners in 1953.
The name of CHIPPINGHURST manor, meaning 'the hill of Cibba', appears as 'Cibbaherste' in Domesday Book. (fn. 222) The Saxon settlement there was part of the estate granted to Abingdon in 956, but by 1086 the hamlet and land assessed at 3 hides had passed to the Count of Évreux, who held it of the king. There were 2 ploughs and 1 serf on the demesne, and 4 villeins with 2 ploughs tended the rest. (fn. 223) The estate seems to have been in royal hands by the early 12th century, for Henry I gave St. Frideswide's 12 thraves in Chippinghurst. This grant was confirmed in 1157–8 by Adrian IV as 3 acres in 'Chenbenhurste'. (fn. 224) In 1108 William, Count of Évreux, and his wife Helewis founded the priory of Noyon (Noyon-sur-Andelle), (fn. 225) and bestowed on it all his English lands, including Chippinghurst. (fn. 226) Although the manor was not recorded among the possessions of Noyon in 1242–3, (fn. 227) the Hundred Rolls confirm that the priory continued to be the overlord. (fn. 228) It was deprived in 1414, when Henry V gave Chippinghurst to his own foundation at Sheen, (fn. 229) which retained it until the 16th century.
The manor house was occupied by under-tenants in the 13th century. In 1254–6 John, son of William (one of the family which took its name from the village), paid Noyon Priory a fee-farm rent of 60s., (fn. 230) a sum which remained the normal rent until the end of the medieval period. (fn. 231) In 1279 John of Chippinghurst held 3 of the 12 virgates of the manor in demesne; 7 virgates were held in villeinage at his will, and the remaining 2 virgates were held by an under-tenant, Walter de Esthulle. (fn. 232) The Chippinghurst family were tenants until the 16th century, and also held land in Denton. (fn. 233) John Chippinghurst (Chebenhurst) died seised of the manor in 1511, when it was worth £21 and held in socage. (fn. 234) Thomas (d. 1517), son of John, held the manor of John Brome of Holton, who was presumably holding of Sheen. It appears, however, that after the Dissolution Brome succeeded to the overlordship, for in 1539 he was granted the tithes of Chippinghurst. (fn. 235) There is no later record of the overlordship.
Thomas Chippinghurst's son Robert succeeded to the manor as a minor, and from him it descended to his uncle Robert Chippinghurst; (fn. 236) complicated litigation followed (1538–44), from which it appears that John Barantyne had custody of the deeds, (fn. 237) Thomas Stretley certain rights in the manor, and that six different persons claimed annuities from it. (fn. 238) Stretley's rights were acquired in 1563 by John Doyley (d. 1569) of Chislehampton and his son Robert. John's sons subsequently went to law over their rights to annuities from his share of the manor. (fn. 239) John Doyley's second son John died in 1623, seised of the land in Chippinghurst and of part of the manor, (fn. 240) but he had already sold in 1605 the capital messuage, certain lands, 'Chibnes weare' and fishing rights (from 'Oxclose' to Denton field) to George Barston, his son-in-law. Barston, owner also of the capital messuage of Denton (d. 1607), was succeeded by his son John, who conveyed his Chippinghurst property in 1633 to Thomas Iles. (fn. 241)
It seems clear from the later descent of this property that it was regarded as a manor, but there is no mention of a manor in the inquisition post mortem on George Barston, nor in the conveyance of 1633. Iles, the new squire, was Professor of Divinity and Principal of Hart Hall at Oxford. (fn. 242) In 1652 the Chippinghurst property was conveyed to Solomon Ady; (fn. 243) in 1656 to Thankfull Owen, President of St. John's College; (fn. 244) and in 1677 to Peter Elliot, M.D., who left 'Chibnes' farm to his godson Peter Hele in 1682. (fn. 245) In 1738 another Peter Elliot made an agreement about the estate with Henry Vavasour. (fn. 246) It is not clear how the manor came to be the property of William and Mary Webb, who in 1771 conveyed it to William Parker. (fn. 247) He immediately conveyed it to John Greenwood, whose family retained the property until 1903, when it passed to the Revd. Arthur Wheeler, then in 1931 to James McDougall of the flour firm, and finally to Colonel E. C. Bowes. (fn. 248)
Economic and Social History.
The population of Denton was small and of moderate wealth in the medieval period. Most of the inhabitants were holding small parcels of land, and there were possibly only about thirty households. Twentyone names are listed in the assessment of 1327; only one taxpayer paid 14s. and the majority paid 3s. and under. (fn. 249) In 1665 only four had sufficient wealth to make a return for the hearth tax. (fn. 250) A list of those liable for payment of church rates in 1688 gives a fuller picture. Three of the fifteen listed (Munt, Pokins, and Smith) held 3¼, 3½ and 3 yardlands; five, including Piers, the owner of Denton House, held 2 or 2¼ yardlands; while the other tenants held 1½ yardlands or less. (fn. 251) In 1841 the population reached 163, its maximum for the century; in 1863, 159 people lived in 34 houses; the population in 1931 was 140, and in 1951, 89. (fn. 252)
The earliest record of inclosure for pasture at Denton dates from 1504 when four people were alleged to have lost employment as a result. At about this time there were said to be 300 acres of pasture in the manor and 40 of meadow to only 300 of arable. (fn. 253) The same process of inclosure was going on at the neighbouring hamlet of Chippinghurst where a butcher who leased 200 acres destroyed four houses and displaced sixteen people by inclosing. (fn. 254) There were still 94 strips being cultivated at the time of the tithe award in 1843. In 1848, when inclosure was completed, 356 acres out of 527 were already inclosed. The Earl of Macclesfield was allotted 249 acres, the Queen's College 144 (including 174 and 101 acres of old inclosure respectively), William Aldworth 83 acres, and the Bishop of Oxford 29, the other allotments being less. (fn. 255)
Denton's valley land is heavy Kimmeridge Clay ('Stronge-londe' in 1293), (fn. 256) though there is varying sand, ironstone, and limestone on the hill up to Cuddesdon. The position of the arable land in 956 suggests that Denton already had a separate field system from Cuddesdon. (fn. 257) In 1300 the name of one of the fields, 'Hupfelda', is mentioned, (fn. 258) and this may be identified with one of the two fields, Upper and Lower, in existence in 1769. (fn. 259) In the postReformation period there are some details of the price of Denton land: from 1566 to 1617 the standard rent for a virgate was 13s. 4d.; and the sale price in the former year was 30 years' purchase. In 1618 an 80-years' lease of 2 virgates cost £400; they were then sublet for £23 15s., and the lease surrendered the next year for £500. The Denton virgate seems to have varied in size; it was 17½ acres in the late medieval period, but 24 acres in 1564. (fn. 260)
Wheatley and Littleworth
Wheatley (1,003a in 1951) lies in the extreme north of the ancient parish of Cuddesdon overlooked by Cuddesdon, Shotover, and Holton. (fn. 261) Its growth was probably encouraged by the presence of the ford (OE. 'Herpath' ford, i.e. army way ford), over the Thame near the village, and on the road from London to Worcester. In the 18th century James Boswell described the village as a 'very pretty country place', and today its situation on a coralline outcrop makes it resemble Headington quarry with its stony scars. The Howe, the slope to the south of the village, is covered with allotments, and the marks of clay, ochre, and iron workings. (fn. 262) On all sides, the way out of Wheatley involves a steep climb, whether by the old road over Shotover, over the ridge to Horspath, or to the modern London road.
The village is centred on two roughly parallel streets, Church Road and the curved High Street (with its continuation, Crown Road), once part of the old Oxford-London road over Shotover plain. (fn. 263) Until 1858 a stream ran along the High Street; it may be traced back as far as 1442, when a man of Danish descent built a house on the highway 'over the water there'. In 1858 a culvert was made, despite opposition from some who thought that the 'sluggish stream', with its stepping-stones, was healthy. (fn. 264) Along this street are many 17th- and 18th-century houses built of the silvery grey local stone, and roofed with red tiles. In Crown Road there are six houses of the same date, including Rectory Farm, which has Tudor drip stones and chimney; a well staircase and fine bedroom doors dating from about 1600.
The Manor House, in the High Street, probably stands on or near the site of its medieval predecessor. (fn. 265) It is a late-16th-century building, which was E-shaped in plan before the disappearance of a central porch. It retains five Tudor fireplaces, and until recently there was a Tudor chimney. In 1601 Abraham Archdale, lord of the manor, commissioned large-scale alterations; he added an east wing with high mullioned windows and crenellated bay, and the hall was given a flat ceiling with chamfered beams. Today there are still plaques with the date 1601, and the initials T.A.: A.A. By 1822 arches had been erected over the central windows; but in 1851, when the house had been ruinous for some years, J. W. Henley, M.P., bought it, removed the interior woodwork, and let it as cottages. Mrs. A. G. Hassall, owner-occupier after the house had been reunited, carried out restoration in 1939–40 (F. Openshaw, architect).
Other ancient houses in the village include Mulberry Court and Ambrose Farm, which have Tudor fireplaces, and 'Wayside', dated 1791. There are nine 17th- and 18th-century houses in Bell Lane, behind the old church, (fn. 266) and nine in Church Road. Wheatley at present has seven inns and public houses: the 'King and Queen' is a handsome Tudor building with contemporary chimneys and windows, and the 'Sun' and the 'King's Arms' contain 18th-century work.
Recent losses of ancient buildings include a 15thcentury barn near the 'Crown', and a Tudor cottage west of the 'Railway Tavern'. Thatching still survives on many houses, and on Barclay's Bank, but is decreasing. Among 19th-century buildings are the curious pyramidal roundhouse, containing the stocks, which was built by Cooper, a local mason, in 1834; (fn. 267) and the former vicarage in High Street, built in 1851 by the Revd. Edward Elton; (fn. 268) it was eventually bought by the Oxfordshire County Council and in 1953 was being used as a home for neglected children, under the name of Moreland House. The 'Old House', formerly the site of the Cooper brickworks, (fn. 269) after being leased by the Oxfordshire County Council as a home for mentally defective children, passed to the Hospital Board in 1948. Twentieth-century council houses have been built at the east end of the village, between the new and the old London roads. Brick, tiles, and stone for the old houses were local, but the material for the recent houses is not.
Six street lamps were erected in 1887, though as late as 1923 the Women's Institute complained that none were lit. Electricity came in 1929, and gas about the same time. Though rock hindered draining in Crown Road, three out of four houses had main drainage by 1892. (fn. 270) A sewage plant is the legacy of an American Military Hospital at Holton. (fn. 271)
On the Howe, south of the village, stands an 18th-century windmill. There are no records of its medieval predecessor, but it is known that a mill was bought, probably on this site, in a ruinous condition in 1671. (fn. 272) In 1748, the Eagle Foundry, Oxford, re-equipped it, but it was burnt down in 1760 and had to be rebuilt in 1763. (fn. 273) When sold in 1807, its capacity was eight loads of wheat weekly. It has not been used since 1915. A wooden mill near by was burnt about 1875. (fn. 274)
The hamlet of Littleworth (now divided between the parishes of Wheatley, Horspath, and Forest Hill with Shotover) lies to the north of Cuddesdon, on the boundary of the ancient parishes of Cuddesdon and Horspath. In 956 the boundaries of these two parishes with the forest of Shotover were here marked by a spring and a stream which ran along the boundary. The medieval history of this area is not known, but there was evidently a small community living at Littleworth in 1625, when Cuddesdon church claimed five communicants there, and the building of additional cottages is mentioned soon after this date. (fn. 275) A few ancient cottages built of rubble with thatched roofs still survive. One has a hall reaching the roof at one end, while at the other end a floor has been inserted to make a solar. The Munts and Currills, Morris-dancing families, occupied two of these cottages for more than a century. Another thatched building was erected in 1834 as a workhouse for Wheatley, (fn. 276) and a row of brick cottages along the Wheatley-Horspath road was built in 1892–3 by the Wheatley minister; there is a public house, the 'Cricketers Arms', which replaced the 'Woodman's'; and a grass-drying factory. The hamlet has its own water-supply.
The emergence of WHEATLEY as a distinct manor within the Abingdon estate may date from the time of Abbot Athelhelm (1071–83) who had to provide knights to guard Windsor castle, and virtually lost much of Wheatley and Denton in assigning them land for their support. (fn. 277) The existence of a separate manor is supported by Wheatley's exemption in the reign of Henry I from the obligation to entertain royal hunters and marshals. (fn. 278)
An estate in Wheatley of 1½ hide, held by Sueting of Abingdon Abbey, is mentioned in a list of 11thcentury tenants of the abbey. (fn. 279) This estate seems to be the same as Sueting's 1½ hide given in Domesday as part of Garsington, (fn. 280) and it is possible that there was some confusion between the abbey's estates in Garsington and Wheatley. Although it is more probable that Sueting's estate was the same as the later estate in Garsington held by the nuns of Godstow, (fn. 281) there is a chance that Sueting's estate was Wheatley manor.
In the 12th and 13th centuries the Wheatley ('Watele') family were the chief undertenants. William and Matthew are mentioned respectively in 1166 and 1242–3 as holders of ½ knight's fee; and in 1279 Henry of Wheatley was recorded as holding 2 hides in Wheatley of the Templars of Sandford who were the mesne tenants of the abbey. (fn. 282) Hugh Choch and John Eustace were also important tenants. (fn. 283) These men held by military service, owing castle guard at Windsor, and the third owing it at the abbot's chamber at Abingdon. (fn. 284) The de Loucheses of Great Milton were the abbey's tenants by the early 14th century. (fn. 285) By 1300, Richard de Louches was lord of Great Milton and in 1318 was granted free warren in his demesne lands, which at that date included Wheatley. (fn. 286) He was imprisoned for opposing the Despensers, but his lands were restored to him in 1322, (fn. 287) and when he died (before 1327) he was succeeded by his son, Sir John, and later by his grandson, Sir William. (fn. 288) The latter, who was dead before 1367, left as heir his daughter Elizabeth, who brought her inheritance to her husband, Sir Thomas de Camoys. (fn. 289) Wheatley manor thereafter came to be called Camoys manor. (fn. 290) Sir Thomas de Camoys was succeeded (a son Richard having predeceased him) by his grandson Hugh in 1421. Hugh died childless in 1426, leaving as heirs his two sisters and their respective husbands, Sir Roger de Lewkenor and Ralph Radmylde. (fn. 291) In 1443 the latter devised his moiety to his son Robert, who was succeeded by his son William in 1457. (fn. 292) It is not known whether the Radmyldes sold their moiety, or whether it went to the Lewkenors by marriage, but after William Radmylde's death in 1503 the whole manor appears to have descended through the Lewkenors. Sir Roger de Lewkenor granted it to Edmund Dudley for life. It was forfeited to the king on the latter's attainder, but on his execution in 1510 (fn. 293) the Lewkenors regained possession, and Jane, daughter of Sir Roger, brought the manor to her husband Sir William Barentine. (fn. 294)
The overlordship of the manor passed from Abingdon to Wolsey's college at Oxford in 1526; (fn. 295) on the cardinal's disgrace, with the rest of the college's endowments it fell in to the Crown, and the tenants from the time of the Barentines held it direct of the king. In 1562 John Gamage bought the manor from Drew Barentine, son of Sir William, (fn. 296) but by 1575 the manor had passed to the Archdale family, for in that year Richard Archdale, who had been living at Denton as early as 1565, conveyed it to Thomas and Mary Archdale. (fn. 297) In 1588 four other members of the family conveyed their rights to Thomas and Martin; (fn. 298) but by 1601 Abraham Archdale must have acquired the manor, which he settled in 1631 on his cousin Richard, citizen and merchant of London. The next heirs included Anne Powell, daughter of Abraham's sister Mary Moulton, and mother of John Milton's wife. (fn. 299) Richard died in 1638, leaving the manor to his second son Richard, (fn. 300) who in 1648 conveyed it to one John Lamott. By 1663 Cresheld Draper, who had purchased the manor from Edmund Clent, was holding it of Windsor castle in free socage, (fn. 301) and conveyed it to Joseph Taylor, D.D., of St. John's College in 1668. In 1682, he granted it to Sir Sebastian Smythe, (fn. 302) whose family retained the manor until Barbara Smythe's death in 1787, when it came to Sir John Whalley-Gardiner, who had also acquired the manor of Cuddesdon. (fn. 303)
Although Wheatley was still termed a manor in the legal transactions of the 17th and 18th centuries, there is little doubt that manorial rights ceased to be exercised during the 17th century, if not earlier. In 1590 the inhabitants declared that they had never heard of a manor, (fn. 304) and in 1724 the oldest inhabitants averred that they had heard neither of a court baron nor of a manor. (fn. 305) Furthermore, the 'lord' was unable to substantiate any claim to the waste either in 1684 or later. (fn. 306) Confusion had been caused by the fact that the Hundred Courts for Bullingdon were actually held at Wheatley from the time of Sir Christopher Brome (1558–89). (fn. 307) No manorial records survive, save for the year 1546. (fn. 308) The few remaining quitrents were sold by William Chillingworth in the 19th century.
The descent of the manor therefore, from the end of the 18th century, becomes merely the descent of the manor-house. It was rented with 286 acres of land by tenants of the Whalley-Smythe-Gardiner trustees (fn. 309) in the late 18th and early 19th century. Their last and most notable tenant was John Chillingworth. (fn. 310)
Economic and Social History.
The Cuddesdon charter of 956 indicates that there was arable land above Littleworth, close to Wheatley, in the Saxon period; moreover, the name Wheatley ('the Wheat Lea') is itself testimony to arable farming. (fn. 311) By the 13th century the land was divided between three chief tenants, who held of the Templars of Sandford, the subtenants of Abingdon Abbey. Henry of Wheatley held 2 hides with 7 cottagers paying money rents, and 10 cottagers at will. Hugh Choch had 1½ hide, with 19 subtenants paying money rents, and 5 cottagers. John Eustace, the third chief tenant, held another hide, with 4 undertenants. In addition, 5 smaller tenants held cottages of the abbey (4 of William de Coudray as mesne tenant) and the abbey itself farmed 18 virgates by the labour of the tenants at will, whose number is not specified. (fn. 312)
In 1322 Richard de Louches, tenant of the manor, had free tenants whose rents came to 13s. 7d., and also bondsmen and cottars holding of him. The stock on the manor included 6 oxen, 11 other cattle, 3 mares, and 24 pigs. (fn. 313) By the 15th century the extent of the demesne had probably decreased, since a 1429 inquisition mentions 90 acres of arable in demesne, 10 of meadow, and 60 of pasture, (fn. 314) and its value some years later was only £4.
Very little is known about the medieval agrarian economy. There were four fields by 1593 at latest: Upper (near Cuddesdon), Middle, Lye (on the north), and West. (fn. 315) The villagers had rights of common in the forest of Shotover. (fn. 316) The type of farming at Wheatley may be illustrated from the will of John Collys, made in 1530, whose goods included 4 steers valued at 48s., 2 kine, a bull, 2 heifers, 2 yearlings, 5 calves, 5 horses, 2 mares, 40 hogs, 13 score sheep valued at £33, 3 carts, 2 ploughs, and '3 stokkes of bees'. The grain in his barns included wheat, rye, pulse, and barley. (fn. 317)
Sheep-farming continued to be important throughout the post-Reformation period; in the 19th century the Chillingworths were noted sheep-farmers, but modern farmers concentrate more on arable and dairy farming. They grow mainly wheat, beans, and barley, and produce milk for the London market.
Arthur Young noted the open fields of Wheatley, and on the eve of the inclosure award (1813) ninetenths of the township's 920 acres were uninclosed, although some 100 acres south of the village were closes. (fn. 318) Under the award, Sir James WhalleySmythe-Gardiner received 416 acres, including the village green (inclosed mainly between 1797 and the date of the award), which he obtained in lieu of rights to waste. (fn. 319) William Juggins received an allotment of 97 acres. Thomas Armborough 87 acres, Samuel Palmer 70 acres, the Bishop of Oxford 62 acres, including 41 in lieu of tithes, and William Davis 57 acres. The remaining 7 allotments were all considerably less than 50 acres, and there were 6 cottagers who received some compensation. (fn. 320)
Post-Reformation Wheatley had more than one period of expansion. The first for which there is evidence was in the last quarter of the 16th century. In 1583 31 cottages were newly built, and subletting and unauthorized building were problems a few years later. (fn. 321) By 1625 32 houses lined the south side of High Street and Crown Road, and 45 the north. Nine new cottages were built upon the waste about the same time. (fn. 322)
The main period of Wheatley's expansion, however, was the era of the stage coach. Crown Road, until 1775 the 'way from Oxford to London', (fn. 323) lay along the main coaching route, and the year 1669, when the Oxford flying coach reached London in a day, in spite of the roughness of the road, marks the beginning of a period of prosperity. (fn. 324) Wheatley was also a stage on the journey from Islip to Tetsworth, a route which was actually more important in 1742, but which was of secondary importance as early as 1790, when six coaches ran daily from London to Oxford. (fn. 325) By 1802 it was totally eclipsed by the Oxford-London traffic, and Wheatley toll was worth £1,305—ten times as much as Islip's.
Many inns sprang up to meet the needs of travellers. Already in the 16th century there is documentary evidence for the 'Signe of the Crowne' (1544), which belonged to John Parsons of Cowley and was worth £30, and the 'George' (1576), the property of the House family. (fn. 326) The 'White Hart' is mentioned in 1677, and the 'Bell' in 1703. (fn. 327) Their owners were prosperous, and in some cases married their daughters to gentlemen. The innkeeper of the 'White Hart', for instance, had one for his son-inlaw in 1677; (fn. 328) and the profits of the 'Crown' and of another inn 'The King and Queen' soared between 1702 and 1763. The diversion of the traffic along Back Street (now Church Road) in the 18th century led to the opening of other inns—the 'Sun', for example, and the 'King's Arms' (1758), the 'Royal Oak' by Frampton's Lane, and the 'Crown Tap' in Church Road. All the ancient inns, however, except the 'Bell' had, or could arrange, access to Back Street, and could thus attract customers from the new route. In 1734 Wheatley was described as 'the properest place to bait at between Beaconsfield and Woodstock', (fn. 329) and so it remained throughout the coaching era. This prosperity led to a housing shortage, and in 1721 eighteen cottages known as 'Blenheim' were built near the green. (fn. 330) By 1759 140 dwellings housed some 800 inhabitants, and there was much over-crowding among the poorer families. (fn. 331)
The village's prosperity, however, was seriously affected by the new turnpike road (1775) from Oxford to London by way of Headington Hill, which replaced the older route by way of Wheatley over Shotover, and threatened many inns with ruin. The dwindling rates of the 'George' (closed by 1852) and the 'White Hart' tell their story; the 'Crown', too, though it arranged access to the turnpike could not fill its ample stables and declined. But the loss of the coaching trade did not lead to the end of all Wheatley inns, for there were still eight in 1852. By 1864 the railway had emptied the roads except for a few carriers, (fn. 332) and the Railway Hotel and the Railway Tavern (to which the 'Crown' licence passed in 1938) were symbolic of the new age. A return to road traffic in modern times has produced four cafés, two garages, and two cycle repairers.
Although agriculture has always been the main village industry, one other, the quarrying industry, has been of considerable importance since medieval times. The site of the medieval quarries was at Chalgrove ('ceorla graf' in the 956 charter) which, although part of Wheatley, lay within the bounds of Shotover forest. (fn. 333) Consequently royal licences to quarry were needed: they were granted for such divers purposes as the repair of 'Harpeford' bridge (1286), for Merton College (1290), for the Oxford Dominicans (1304), the Augustinians (1316), and the Franciscans (1346). Wheatley stone, of which there were four distinct types, was also used at Windsor (1344–69), Cuddesdon Church (1375–6), the Queen's College (1378–9), Exeter College (1383), New College (1386), Magdalen College (1474), and Christ Church (1525). Stone for Abingdon went by water from Sandford. (fn. 334) There are occasional references to workmen; in 1358 two overseers were given authority to impress labour for the royal quarry, (fn. 335) and in 1360 Nicholas Harald and William Pollard were appointed masters and wardens of the quarry, with powers to employ masons to dig and cut stone for Windsor castle, and to apprehend objectors. (fn. 336) The quarries were still in use as late as the 19th century, (fn. 337) but by this time the stone was mostly used for road-making. (fn. 338)
From the 18th century at least local clay was used for pottery and bricks. We hear of Richard Griffin's pottery kiln declining in value in the period 1763 to 1796; (fn. 339) of a kiln belonging to one Cooper in 1742 and of his bricks in 1793. (fn. 340) The Coopers long continued to make bricks and burn lime (largely for the Oxford gasworks) at the 'Old House', where a chimney stood until 1903. A new brickworks, serving north Oxford and Didcot, was built in 1892, was bought by the London Brick Company and stopped work in 1939. Ochre was found locally and ground at the windmill until the late 19th century, some being peddled round the country by packhorse. (fn. 341) Paint, chiefly used for Oxford wagons, was manufactured at the barn near Mulberry Court, and ironstone, found on the plateau to the south of the village on a site called 'Bishop's piece', was exploited by a mining company in 1875. (fn. 342) The company also had a calcining furnace for ochre, but the venture failed.
There are scattered references in the 18th and 19th centuries to other occupations. There was a mercer in 1707, and a peruke-maker in 1738. (fn. 343) Noah Crook (d. 1823) was maker of parchment for the government; Robert Chapman glazed church windows from Beckley to Henley; Cullum, later a general builder, was one of three wheelwrights in 1852, whose firm had started in 1834. In this period Wheatley women made lace, but few of such local industries now survive. Avery's, however, founded in 1881 and extended in 1912, still existed in 1953. They then manufactured chair-backs and seats for High Wycombe firms, coffin boards and tin-plate boxes. Stocks and fellies, once made for Chelsea Wagons Works, are no longer made.
The end of the prosperous coaching days, and the agricultural depression of the 19th century, brought difficulties concerning employment. Haymakers would travel as far as Middlesex in search of work, and in the late 19th century emigration was fostered, 80 villagers sailing together for Queensland on one occasion. Today (1953) there are market-gardeners, a faggot-maker, and fifteen shopkeepers; others find work in Oxford and Cowley.
In 1327 41 people in Wheatley were assessed for taxation, which suggests that by then the village was comparatively large and prosperous. In 1377 110 people over fourteen were returned for the Poll tax. (fn. 344) The expansion of Wheatley's trade from the late 16th century onwards seems to have led to an increase in numbers. The hearth tax return of 1665 records 35 fairly substantial householders. One householder, perhaps the tenant of the manorhouse, had 12 hearths, two had 10 and 9 respectively, seven had 5 or 6 or 7, and the remainder had between 1 and 4 each. Three were discharged by poverty. (fn. 345) These figures make a sharp contrast with those of the average rural village. In 1759 the incumbent estimated the population at not less than 800, living in about 140 houses, (fn. 346) but the 1801 census gives a more conservative figure of 685. During the 19th century numbers rose to 1,041 in 1871, but declined again to 872 in 1901. (fn. 347) The census of 1931 showed an increase to 1,268, the result of the overflow from Oxford. The 1951 population was 1,532. Six council houses were built in 1921 and 50 in 1929 to house the new comers. More building down Roman Road and towards Littleworth was in progress in 1951.
With a community of this size, local government was of more than average importance. It had been customary for the Hundred Court at Wheatley to elect the constable, the tithing man, and hayward, and conduct other leet business, but by the mid-17th century much of their business was in the hands of the overseers, whose accounts for Wheatley are roughly complete from 1638 to 1661 and from 1701 to 1836.
Throughout most of this period two overseers were appointed annually by the justices; but from 1641 to 1647 they ceased to make appointments, and the two men appointed in 1639 remained in office until 1646.
The disbursements during the first period reflect the social chaos of the Civil War. In 1639 £24 was spent, but during the following years payments dropped to £16, and in 1646, when only £4 was given in casual relief, they virtually ceased. In 1647 they were resumed with an expenditure of £10, and during the following decade the amount paid out varied from £18 7s. 9d. (1652) to £31 (1659), with six to thirteen people receiving regular relief. During the first two decades of the 18th century expenditure varied from £80 to £90 a year.
Apart from the regular weekly payments for relief, money was paid out for funerals and clothes; for repairing and thatching houses; and in the 18th century there were regular payments for a doctor from Headington. In 1684 £4 was spent on apprenticing a girl for seven years, but though generally the overseers arranged for a number of apprenticeships in neighbouring parishes, they do not appear to have paid the premiums. Unusual entries relate to lodgings for the constable and his wife (£2 7s.) in 1653, and to William Plat, who was paid 10s. per annum from 1654 as compensation for eviction from he house he had built himself on the common. One of the significant features of these accounts is the high cost of litigation—in 1702 £2 11s. at Abingdon sessions and £6 16s. at Newbury—and the amount of journeying and work undertaken by the overseers.
A number of entries suggest an increase in pauperism in the early 18th century. In 1704 6s. was spent on making 'badges for the poore'; in the following year £3 18s. was spent on cloth to provide work for them; and in 1710 and 1711 meetings were held to discuss this problem of unemployment. Possibly the entries for repairs to the highways in 1711 were the result. (fn. 348)
The total expenditure on the poor in 1776 was £143 12s. 2d.; the average for the years 1783–5 £218 16s. 6d.; while in 1803 it was £386 5s. 6d. with an average rate of 7s. in the £, a shilling higher then the next highest rate in the hundred. Fourteen persons were relieved in the workhouse at Little-worth and 17 outside, while as many as 40 persons recieved casual relief. (fn. 349) An inventory of the workhouse goods in 1813 shows that it had 8 spinningwheels, 5 flock beds, 1 bolster bedstead, and 1 feather bed. (fn. 350)
By 1829 the more complex problems of poor-law administration, such as the scale of relief, eligibility, or methods of dealing with pauperism which had so 'greatly accumulated in recent years', were dealt with by the select vestry. In 1830 an assistant overseer was appointed at a salary of 18s. a week; he was also responsible for the workhouse, where the cost of maintenance was 3s. a week, any additional earnings by the poor being paid to the workhouse master. The poor were employed by the parish and received a loaf and 3d. a day, which compared favourably with 10d. paid ten years previously; and the vestry considered the poor 'better off now than at any time during the last 20 years'. There was, however, so much unrest that mounted and foot constables were organized.
In 1831 a meeting considered means of lowering the very high poor-rates, and in 1832 it was agreed that the poor should be farmed for a year to a contractor who would be responsible for clothing, lodging, maintaining, and burying them, and would undertake to repair the turnpike road with parish labour. It was estimated that the necessary repairs would cost £150, and a man was employed at 2s. 6d. a day to supervise the workers. In 1833 a labour rate was adopted, by which every ratepayer assessed at over £5 paid 1s. 6d. to help provide employment. But after the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act plans were drawn up at the end of 1834 to reduce allowances and induce men to be independent. In 1835 only £5 6s. 9d. weekly were paid for the support of 8 widows, 5 widowers, 6 old couples, 4 impotent persons, 5 children, and 6 families. (fn. 351) Wheatley became an urban district under the Public Health Act of 1872. In 1932 it became part of Bullingdon Rural District.
The coaching trade and the quarry industry, together with a constantly changing population, made Wheatley in the 18th and early 19th centuries more turbulent than its purely agricultural neighbours. Another reason for instability was the plurality of landowners—the lord of the manor owning but a portion of Wheatley land—and consequent absence of the normal hierarchy of village society. In addition, until the time of the Revd. Edward Elton (1849–84) the moral influence of a resident incumbent was lacking. Of 24 names of the chief villagers in the period 1638–61, only 8 recur in the period 1701–17, and 6 are by then classed as paupers. (fn. 352) In 1759 only one gentleman, Whorwood Adeane, is noted, (fn. 353) and the biggest farmers of this period (the Juggins family) produced paupers and a rioter in 1771. (fn. 354) Ten out of the 21 recipients under the inclosure award of 1813 received under 15 acres each, and by 1845, only 3 of the 40 owner-occupiers had parcels of more than 1 acre. (fn. 355)
The absence of residents of a 'superior class', the small tenements, the high road and the public houses made the village notorious to its neighbours even in Victorian days. 'The inhabitants lived much as they pleased' (fn. 356) wrote the Revd. Edward Elton, who described it as 'a refuge for all the worst characters in the neighbourhood'—a state of affairs for which 'the present and former owners of estates near must be held responsible'. (fn. 357) There is indeed evidence that the latter were anxious to foist any 'bad characters' from their own estates on this illfamed village. Elton thought the tradesmen who had long governed the place 'little above the very poor in morality or good character'. (fn. 358) Drunkenness was prevalent; the annual 'feasts' were notorious for it, and often residents dared not venture out at night unarmed. (fn. 359) The appearance of a temperance hotel (now the 'Merry Bells') in 1887 is significant. (fn. 360)
Cricket was played from the mid-18th century at least, for in 1764 the townsmen played the gentlemen's servants on the Green. (fn. 361) Bull-baiting, for which crowds came from Oxford, was a sport until 1824, when it was stopped through the appeals of the rector of Holton. (fn. 362) The garlanded bulls were baited by bulldogs in the stonepits. (fn. 363) Another annual sport, badger-baiting, was put an end to by the Revd. Edward Elton, who noted in his diary that his foe Juggins was 'head of a clique who had set an evil example and managed everything in the parish in his own way . . . noted cock-fighter and pugilist'. (fn. 364) In 1834 the poor had been forbidden to have guns and dogs, but poaching long remained a source of food and sport. (fn. 365) In 1950 the playing field was taken for the site of the new senior school. (fn. 366) A children's playground has recently been opened on the site of the pit formerly used for bull-baiting, since levelled and planted with grass.
In the 18th century a fair was held on 29 September, but it had been discontinued by 1888. (fn. 367) A cattle market held at the 'Crown' was discontinued in 1909, when Oxford market became weekly. To the end of the 19th century there were mummers, May-Day celebrations, and Morris dancing. (fn. 368) The last Wheatley processional dancer was Alfred Currill of Littleworth (d. 1927). The annual feasts, held on the Sunday after 11 October, lapsed in the present century. Today (1953) a Women's Institute, a Men's Club, and a cinema (1949) are among the village activities, and since the senior school was built there has been a wide choice of evening classes.
Wheatley, although a separate tithing, was in the Middle Ages part of Cuddesdon parish, and therefore appropriated to Abingdon Abbey. (fn. 369) At the Reformation the great tithes, which were being farmed for £6 6s. 8d., (fn. 370) and which, with the glebe, in Wheatley, formed what was called the lay rectory, were taken over by the Crown, and became separated from the rectory of Cuddesdon. The rectory passed through various lay hands. In 1589 Anthony Mollens died possessed of a third of the rectory or tithes of Wheatley and 'Groveleyse', a piece of land near Wheatley Bridge. Anne, one of his daughters, inherited as coheir, and her husband John Symeon died in 1616 seised of half the rectory. (fn. 371) The rectory came to the Jackson family in the late 17th century, and remained with it until 1809, when it was sold to Sir James Whalley-Smythe-Gardiner. In 1813 he obtained 133 acres in lieu of tithes. (fn. 372) This land no doubt formed the basis for Magdalen College's Rectory Farm.
There was a chapel at Wheatley by 1427, for Thomas Mockyng, clerk, of London then made it a bequest. (fn. 373) In 1523 a friar celebrated mass there on festivals for a stipend of 40s. a year paid by the parishioners, (fn. 374) and in 1526 the curate was receiving 33s. 4d. (fn. 375) After the Reformation Wheatley continued as a chapelry of Cuddesdon, although it elected its own church or chapel wardens, of whom there were two in the 16th century, but later only one. (fn. 376) Relations between the mother church and its offshoot were not always happy. There was friction, for instance, in 1628, when the Vicar of Cuddesdon saw eight good reasons why Wheatley chapel should not be consecrated; and in 1630 when Wheatley refused to contribute to the repair of Cuddesdon church and its pews on the ground that there were no specific Wheatley seats. (fn. 377)
In the 18th century Wheatley began to break away from Cuddesdon. In the 1750's the chapel was licensed for burials, although not until the early 19th century were they usually held there, (fn. 378) and when the new building was consecrated in 1795, it was for all religious ceremonies. (fn. 379) Surplice fees continued for the most part to be paid to the minister of Cuddesdon, (fn. 380) and although by the early 19th century Wheatley was virtually a separate parish, it continued to pay church rates to Cuddesdon until 1854, when it was made into a separate ecclesiastical parish. (fn. 381) The vicar wrote that all 'links' had 'now happily been . . . entirely severed'. (fn. 382)
Wheatley was served by a curate, probably chosen by the Vicar of Cuddesdon in the Middle Ages and later by the Bishop of Oxford. The curacy had no endowment, since the small tithes of Wheatley belonged to the Vicar of Cuddesdon, and were appropriated in 1637 with those of Cuddesdon to the Bishop of Oxford. (fn. 383) In 1813, he received 41 acres in place of them, which he exchanged for land in Cuddesdon. (fn. 384) The curate received a 'voluntary contribution', (fn. 385) partly from the bishop and partly from the parishioners. In 1745, and again in 1749 and 1755, the living was endowed with £800, partly from Queen Anne's Bounty, (fn. 386) and the bishop also paid the curate £10, which was exchanged in 1852 for a tithe-rent charge of £208 12s. 9d. from Cuddesdon. (fn. 387) Bishop Secker began in 1746 the custom of licensing curates to Wheatley, (fn. 388) and in 1854, when it was separated from Cuddesdon, the living was made into a perpetual curacy (although it is often called a vicarage) in the patronage of the Bishop of Oxford, (fn. 389) who is still patron. In 1953 the net annual value of the benefice was £566. (fn. 390)
The medieval chapel was dedicated to ST. MARY THE VIRGIN and lay on the south side of the High Street, presumably where the War Memorial now stands. (fn. 391) In 1629 Archibald Archdale failed to get it consecrated as a church. (fn. 392) In 1644 the antiquary Richard Symonds found no monuments or arms, 'onely in the east window the picture of St. Nicholas with his arms under' (fn. 393) but a century later the antiquary Browne Willis noted that this had long since disappeared. The building was repaired in 1715, (fn. 394) but was pulled down in 1785 to make way for the new church. (fn. 395)
In 1785 Thomas Sims of Denton, a native of Wheatley, left a bequest to build a new church. The Lord Chancellor and others considered that the upkeep of the building, which was first proposed, would be too expensive (fn. 396) and a cheaper building was planned by Stephen Townsend and Henry Tawney (Oxford builders). It was to cost £500– £800 and was to have 'a diminutive chancel, great round-headed windows, and hipped roof of slate; in fact nothing but a tower to distinguish it in outward appearance from a meeting-house'. (fn. 397) In 1835 James Rose added a vestry room at the south-east angle, and in 1854 the gallery was removed and other repairs carried out by George Watts of Oxford. (fn. 398)
Bishop Wilberforce, however, in spite of the wishes of the vestry, which, as he put it, 'was not sufficiently friendly', had the building replaced as 'it was of such a hopeless conventicle pattern'. (fn. 399) The vicar, the Revd. Edward Elton, raised £3,500, mostly in small contributions from University men. (fn. 400) A new site above the village was chosen where the architect, G. E. Street, raised 'a good specimen of Early English architecture'. The spire was built by Holland of Thame, and has been described as 'unusual but very effective'. (fn. 401) The new church, dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, was consecrated in 1857. The glass in the south chancel windows dates from 1850 and 1856, that in the east window from 1875. (fn. 402) The organ was built in 1871. A lych-gate was added by P. H. Keys in 1910.
The church retained the plate belonging to the first chapel, consisting of a silver chalice (1702) inscribed 'Wm Heart Churchwarden of Whately 1702', a silver tankard flagon given by Thomas Bray, curate in 1766, and a silver plate given by Mrs. Ann Juggins in 1775. It also acquired a silver chalice dating from 1850. (fn. 403) By 1953 all had been lost.
Old Wheatley and Coombe
It is possible that Coombe Wood and Coombe Brook in Cuddesdon (fn. 404) gave their name to the lost village of Coombe, but Coombe is a common name and the place is more likely to have taken its name from the coomb east of the River Thame and south of the Oxford–Tetsworth road, which lies in Great Milton parish. It is more probable that the considerable ruins noted in 1566 and called 'Old Wheatley' (fn. 405) were those of an early upland settlement, such as Old Horspath, of which Wheatley in the valley was an offshoot, than of Coombe. Old Wheatley was perhaps near the sites of the Roman villa and the Anglo-Saxon cemetery, (fn. 406) for an estate map of 1593 marks 'Old Whateley Close' and 'Old Whatley Botome' as half-way down the hill between Coombe Wood and Wheatley. (fn. 407)
Coombe is not named in Domesday, but the history of the d'Ivry fees shows that a part of the lands of the later manors of Coombe were included in an estate assessed at 7½ hides held by Hugh of Roger d'Ivry. (fn. 408) This part was probably that later associated with Chilworth Valery manor. There is no mention of the other part of the Coombe lands which are later found joined to Chilworth Musard manor. (fn. 409) In 1627 and perhaps from earliest times these hamlets were in Great Milton parish and not in Cuddesdon, though for administrative purposes they were attached to Bullingdon hundred. (fn. 410) They contributed to 14th- and 15th-century tax levies in the hundred, (fn. 411) and it is probable that their decline did not take place until the latter half of the 15th century. (fn. 412) They continued to be assessed for taxation throughout the century, but do not appear on the lay subsidy lists of Henry VIII's reign. (fn. 413) It was reported in 1517 that in 1499 Sir Thomas Danvers had held 100 acres of arable and 240 acres of pasture in Coombe and Chilworth, and that he had then inclosed the arable and converted it to pasture. (fn. 414) This inclosure may well have been the last of a series by which sheep-farming was substituted for arable farming and the villagers of the three settlements were deprived of their livelihood.
The Vent estate, to the north of Wheatley, was a detached piece of the ancient parish of Cuddesdon. It once formed the northern salient of the original Abingdon Abbey property, and may have been a forest-clearing as the name suggests. It now consists of Vent Farm, the King's Arms Inn, and some cottages lying at the north-eastern tip of Forest Hill village. In 1611 its green, 'le Vent greene', was described as being in Cuddesdon, (fn. 415) and it was later debated whether the Forest Hill boundary went through Vent Farm. (fn. 416) In 1878 Vent Farm (92 a.) and Pilfrance (10 a.) were transferred to Holton parish, (fn. 417) with part of Holton Wood. The rest of the property—the Inn, a bakehouse, a blacksmith's shop, and four cottages—was transferred to Forest Hill. (fn. 418)
The nearness of the Vent to the Saxon straete to Worcester may have led to early settlement. It stood at the intersection of this road and Polecat End Lane in Holton. 'La Vente' is mentioned in the Hundred Rolls as a close of 28 acres, a licence of Henry III, presumably to inclose, being quoted. (fn. 419) A Roger de Vente had land in Forest Hill in Henry III's reign, (fn. 420) but a continuous record of tenants cannot be established. By the 15th century the estate was called a manor, and was leased in 1467 by the Abbot of Abingdon to Thomas atte Welle of Cuddesdon. (fn. 421) In 1529 William Wildgoose leased it with the tithes for 39 years for £4 5s. 8d. (fn. 422) and in 1542 it was granted to Robert Kyrkham with leave to alienate. (fn. 423) In this grant it is called a farm, and it seems very likely that it was never an independent manor. By 1579 Nicholas Brome had possession (fn. 424) and the estate was held by the Brome family of Holton, and then by the Whorwoods of Holton in the 17th century. (fn. 425) It continued to form part of the Holton estate (fn. 426) until the sale of this property in 1913, when the Vent, then some 197 acres, was acquired by General Miller of Shotover.