A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
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UPPER HEYFORD or HEYFORD WARREN
This oblong-shaped parish (fn. 1) of 1,628 acres has 1½ miles of the River Cherwell for its western boundary and the Romano-British Aves Ditch for its eastern. (fn. 2) Neither its northern nor its southern boundary, separating it from Somerton and Lower Heyford respectively, follows any distinctive physical features. (fn. 3) There have been no recorded changes of boundary. (fn. 4)
The parish lies almost entirely on the Great Oolite, except for a narrow belt along the Cherwell. (fn. 5) The soil is chiefly stonebrash. From the meadowland along the river the ground rises steeply to a tableland, 400 feet above sea-level in the central and eastern part. Domesday records no woodland, (fn. 6) but Davis shows Child Grove on the Ardley boundary, and it has been suggested that this wood and Ballard's Copse in Ardley were once the 'Little Ciltene' of a 10th-century charter. (fn. 7) Today the absence of trees is a noticeable feature. There is one small coppice, Goose Covert, on the south-eastern boundary.
The pre-Roman Portway (fn. 8) runs parallel with the Somerton-Lower Heyford road, which skirts Upper Heyford village. In the north of the parish it was narrowed into a bridle track only by the inclosure act of 1842. (fn. 9) A minor road connects the village with Middleton Stoney to the east.
The Heyford section of the former G.W.R.'s main line between Oxford and Banbury was completed in 1850; its high embankment traverses the meadow-land and has rendered it more liable to flooding. (fn. 10) The Oxford-Coventry canal surveyed by James Brindley in 1768 and completed in 1790 runs parallel; it is here navigated by Allen's Lock. Part of the river near the manor-house was utilized for the canal; a fresh channel, partly outside the parish, was dug for the Cherwell, and the mill-house and mill were moved from the east bank of the old Cherwell to the west bank of the new river. (fn. 11) The mill was presumably on the site of the Domesday one. (fn. 12)
The village took its name from a ford across the river that was perhaps mainly used at the time of the hay harvest. (fn. 13) It acquired its second name of Warren from its late 12th-century lord Warin Fitzgerold. In the 15th century the alternative name of Upper Heyford began to appear. (fn. 14) The early village was almost certainly centred on the church and the manor-house, which stand just above the Cherwell, but it has developed along a couple of roads which climb the hill, and the latest houses are on the extreme eastern fringe along the Somerton road. The 17th-century village was comparatively small, with only twenty householders listed for the hearth tax of 1662. (fn. 15) In 1665 when only sixteen were listed there were two gentlemen's houses—the Rectory and the manorhouse—and six other good farm-houses, each with three or four hearths. There were said to be about 30 houses during most of the 18th century, but a big increase in population occurred at the end of the century and later: 44 dwellings were built between 1811 and 1851. (fn. 16) There has also been much new building in the 20th century: 32 council houses were built between 1919 and 1954. (fn. 17)
Today the older houses in the village are mostly two-storied cottages, built of coursed rubble; they have casement windows and Welsh slate, thatched, or tiled roofs. (fn. 18) The most interesting and the oldest building is the fine medieval barn which stands near the Manor Farm. It is constructed of coursed rubble with ashlar quoins and was probably built for New College in the early 15th century. It measures 120 by 24 feet and is comparable to the barns at Swalcliffe and Adderbury. It has two projecting gabled doorways on the east side separated by two buttresses with two other buttresses at either end, and on the west side eight buttresses and a wide doorway. There are angle buttresses at each end. The roof has tie-beams with curved braces to the lower ties.
The adjoining Manor Farm is now mainly an early 19th-century building, although part of the walls and beams may date back to the 16th or 17th century. Some panelling of that date has survived in the attics, and also a large fireplace in a ground-floor room. The medieval manor-house on the site is said to have been improved and extended by New College in the 14th century. In 1665, when Gabriel Merry was the college's tenant, he returned six hearths for the tax. Buckler's drawing of 1823 shows a very irregularly shaped house, which appears to be substantially of 16th-century date, although some of its windows are medieval. (fn. 19)
In the 14th century the college is said to have moved the parsonage house from its original site near the church to half-way up the north side of the present village street. (fn. 20) It was the largest house in the village in the 17th century: seven hearths were returned for it for the tax of 1665, (fn. 21) and in 1679 it is described as a five-bay building with kitchen and stable adjoining besides twelve bays of outbuildings and a garden. (fn. 22) A description of 1685 gives the house seven bays of building and the outhouses eighteen. (fn. 23) There are amusing contemporary accounts of visits to this house by the Wardens and Fellows of New College. (fn. 24)
A 'fine' new house was built, possibly in 1696, (fn. 25) with a south gable end on the village street, (fn. 26) from which it was approached by a flight of steps. (fn. 27) In 1806 this house, standing in an acre of ground, was said to be a stone building of ten bays covered with a slate roof. It was replaced in 1865. (fn. 28)
Of the older cottages the row of stone and thatch ones in the main street probably dates from the 18th century, while opposite the Rectory a solid stonebuilt farm-house, once Two Tree Farm and now a private residence, bears the date 1722. The 'Three Horseshoes' is mentioned by name in 1784. (fn. 29)
Nineteenth-century expansion is represented by New College Yard with its group of brick cottages put up in the first half of the century, the school (1859) that faces the green, the Rectory (1865), the Wesleyan chapel (1867), (fn. 30) and the red-brick Reading-room (1891), erected at the expense of the Earl of Jersey on land given by New College. (fn. 31) The new Rectory cost over £2,000, (fn. 32) whereas its predecessor had cost £500. (fn. 33) Local stone was used for the walling, which was lined inside with brick, and Broseley tiling was used for the roofs. (fn. 34)
Twentieth-century developments have considerably altered the character of the village: a large number of elm trees have been felled to make room for the new council houses, built of brick or cement and not of local materials. (fn. 35)
The R.A.F. station was begun in 1925 and first occupied two years later. Until 1939 it was used for training and members of the Oxford University Air Squadron gained flying experience at it; during the war it was a Bomber Command station. Between 1946 and 1951 No. 1 Parachute Training School was stationed there. The station was leased to the United States Air Force in 1951, and has since been used as a training base. The 3918th Air Base Group of the U.S.A.F. Strategic Air Command is responsible for the operation of the base. There are 125 sets of quarters for military personnel with their families on the base, and 240 new units are being constructed under an agreement between the governments of the United States of America and Great Britain. Some 90 British civilians are employed by the U.S.A.F., and a further 70 by the Air Ministry on repair and maintenance work. The majority of the married personnel live in Oxford, Banbury, Bicester, Chipping Norton, Kidlington, and Brackley, and 350 of their children are educated at the station. (fn. 36)
The only distinguished Heyford man was John Yonge (1467–1516), Fellow of New College, Master of the Rolls, and Dean of York, who was employed by Henry VII and Henry VIII on diplomatic missions in the Low Countries. His monument by Torrigiani is in the museum of the Public Record Office. (fn. 37)
Domesday Book records that an estate assessed at 10 hides was held in 'Haiford' by Roger of Robert d'Oilly, the first castellan of Oxford. (fn. 38) The property passed with other D'Oilly lands to the honor of Wallingford. (fn. 39) The Domesday tenant was probably Roger de Chesney. His grandson, Ralph de Chesney, was recorded in the carta of the honor as holding 2 knight's fees, which may be identified with HEYFORD WARREN and Whitchurch. Ralph probably held these fees about 1154, but it is likely that by 1166 they had passed to Maud de Chesney, (fn. 40) who was probably his sister. (fn. 41) Ralph did not die until about 1196, and the transfer of Heyford and other fees to Maud in his life-time may have been made about 1160, on her marriage to Henry Fitzgerold, chamberlain to Henry II. (fn. 42) By 1185 she was a widow in the king's gift with two sons. (fn. 43) Her eldest son Warin, who gave his name to the village, came of age in 1189 and had succeeded to the manor by 1198. (fn. 44) His patrimony had been somewhat reduced by the liberal benefactions made by his mother to religious houses—Eynsham, Bicester, and Oseney. (fn. 45) His daughter Margaret, the wife of Baldwin de Riviers, son of William, Earl of Devon, succeeded him in 1216. (fn. 46) Baldwin too died in 1216 (fn. 47) and Margaret was forced by King John to marry the infamous Fawkes de Bréauté. It is recorded that in 1224, after Fawkes had been exiled, she obtained possession of Heyford Warren manor 'for her support' (fn. 48) and that she was still holding it in 1235 and 1243. (fn. 49) Her son Baldwin, Earl of Devon, predeceased her in 1245, and after her death in 1252 her grandson Baldwin consequently succeeded. On his death in 1262 his estates passed to his sister Isabel, Countess of Aumale, the widow of William de Forz, who held them until her death in 1293. (fn. 50)
There is evidence that Margaret de Riviers had a son by Fawkes de Bréauté; (fn. 51) in 1255 Heyford Warren was held of Baldwin, Margaret's grandson, by a certain Thomas de Bréauté, (fn. 52) who may well have been this child. In 1279 and 1284 a Thomas de Bréauté, (fn. 53) possibly the grandson of Fawkes, was holding the manor as 1/5 knight's fee. In 1279 Eynsham Abbey held 3 virgates in Somerton of this Thomas. (fn. 54) These lands were almost certainly those given to the abbey about 1142 by Alice de Langetot, widow of Roger de Chesney, (fn. 55) and since they were held of the honor of Wallingford must have been part of Heyford Warren manor though they lay in Somerton parish. Thomas was dead by 1293, when his widow Elizabeth was receiving £15 a year from Heyford Warren as her dower. (fn. 56) There is no further record of the family's tenancy.
Isabel, Countess of Aumale, survived all her children and after her death in 1293 her inheritance was disputed by Warin de Lisle and Hugh de Courtenay. (fn. 57) Warin claimed the estate in 1294, (fn. 58) but died two years later; (fn. 59) his heir Robert eventually obtained seisin of Heyford Warren in 1310 with the exception of 2½ virgates of land which, perhaps by way of compromise, were awarded to Hugh de Courtenay. (fn. 60) Robert de Lisle held the manor until 1339, when he granted it to his daughter Alice, wife of Sir Thomas Seymour, and a group of feoffees to be held of him and his heirs for the term of their lives. (fn. 61) Robert himself had entered the Franciscan order by 1342, when most of his possessions passed to his son John, and he died two years later. John, who was overlord of Heyford under the terms of his father's grant, (fn. 62) died in 1355 and was succeeded by his son Robert. By 1359 Alice Seymour, now a widow, was in sole possession for life by agreement with the surviving feoffees. Her nephew and immediate lord Robert confirmed the arrangement in the same year, when Alice agreed to grant rents in the manor of 50s. a year to the Abbess of the Minories, London, and of 12s. 6d. to the Prioress of Chicksands (Beds.), where her sister Margaret was a nun. (fn. 63) In 1380, however, Robert de Lisle, with Alice's concurrence, sold Heyford Warren manor with the advowson and certain lands in Barford St. Michael to William of Wykeham for £1,000 for the endowment of New College. (fn. 64) The property was formally handed over to the college in 1382, (fn. 65) and it has retained it ever since. In 1392 and 1495 the property was rounded off by two purchases—2 virgates of arable and 5 acres of meadow from John Mercote of Woodstock and £24 worth of land from Thomas Somerton of Balscott. (fn. 66)
At the end of the 16th century New College began to lease its manor, and for a while tenants of some social standing held the property: Sir Francis Eure, for example, who became Chief Justice of North Wales in 1610; (fn. 67) and Edward Ashworth, tenant from about 1620 to 1648. (fn. 68) Then for a century and more the yeoman family of Merry leased the manor: Gabriel, son of Gabriel Merry of Lower Heyford, from 1649 to 1705; his son John until 1718, and his grandson John until 1754. (fn. 69) Later tenants were Thomas Pryor and John Macock (1758–63), Francis Page (1763–1804), and the Rt. Hon. W. Sturges Bourne (1805–45), (fn. 70) the politician. (fn. 71)
The Domesday survey (fn. 72) states that there were 10 plough-lands at Heyford in 1086; of these only 9 were cultivated, 3 in demesne and 6 by the customary tenants. There were also 18 acres of meadow and 6½ acres of pasture. The whole estate was said to have been worth £8 in 1066 and £12 at the time of the inquest. Thus, there had been very considerable development in the first twenty years after the Conquest, but the rise in value cannot entirely be attributed to agricultural expansion, as the mill worth 12s. and the two fisheries with an annual render of 900 eels may have been newly introduced. Assuming that there were 4 virgates to the plough-land and that the Domesday virgate was 20 acres as at a later date, (fn. 73) then the area of arable land cultivated was about 720 field acres. The recorded population in 1086 was 10 villeins (villani), 1 bordar, and 3 serfs.
By 1279 the village with a recorded population of 31 was considerably larger. (fn. 74) The demesne was 4 carucates instead of 3 and there were 31 virgaters, 7 of whom also held cotlands. The size of the cotland is not given, but in the neighbouring village of Lower Heyford it was 11 acres, and on this basis about 1,017 field acres were then cultivated in Upper Heyford. The extent of the arable land had evidently been increased by the late 12th century, when newly cultivated land (fruisseiz) at 'Farnhulle' and 'hitchings' (inhechinges) in the fallow field are mentioned. (fn. 75) In the 19th century, before the inclosure, Heyford Great Field contained 1,300 field acres. (fn. 76)
A fairly complete picture of the village in the 1270's can be built up, as in addition to the survey of 1279 there are some manorial account rolls. The account for 1280–1 (fn. 77) gives the fixed rents as £19 18s. 1d., while the rents of the tenants as given in the Hundred Rolls (12s. for a virgate and 6s. for a cotland) totalled £19 3s. There were other rents of £1 and 10s. from the acqua de Ryvar (fn. 78) and the fishery of 'le Flodgat', and 3s. for a house and courtyard, perhaps that of the demesne. The largest single item was £38 from the sale of corn, which fetched 10s. or 11s. a quarter in this year. (The demesne farm buildings included a granary by about 1220.) (fn. 79) The sale of stock, including 4 oxen, 1 heifer, 54 sheep, and 1 sick pig, produced £5 16s. 6d. The tenants of the manor kept a considerable number of horses and geese and paid 8s. to the lord for pasturing 48 farm horses at 'Farnhulle' from Michaelmas to Martinmas, and 16s. for 32 geese in the same place from 3 May to 1 August. The perquisites of the court amounted to £3 19s. 5d. in 1280. Items of revenue fluctuated very much: in 1275–6 £20 10s. 7d. was received from the court but in the next year only £1 2s. 10d. In 1280 the total receipts were £90 13s. 3¼d. The outgoings of the manor were £80 0s. 10d. and this included £52 4s. sent to the lord. The rest was expended in payments for journeys or wages, purchase of animals and corn, and payments in connexion with the sheep, the dairy, the mill, and the carts. The rents of three tenants amounting to 10s. 5d. were not paid; £4 8s. 7d. was spent in buying corn and £6 0s. 3d. in buying stock.
The entry concerning the sale of fleeces in this account was crossed out by the bailiff and was not included in the total, but there is no doubt that the demesne did keep a flock of sheep, though sheepbreeding at this time was always subsidiary to corngrowing. The accounts mention both the buying and selling of sheep and the sale of wool; in 1276–7 188 fleeces were sold for £6, but the highest sales were made at the end of the 14th century, when in the years 1394 and 1397 the fleeces were sold for £18 and £23. (fn. 80) At this period the flock numbered about 400, but in 1410 New College (fn. 81) sold its flock and no more records of sheep appear in the accounts, the demesne being farmed out. It is probable, though, that the tenants of the demesne kept their own flocks, as the demesne had the right to 300 sheep commons in the 17th century. (fn. 82)
The Black Death caused great mortality in Heyford. In 1350 there were 22 messuages and virgates and one cottage vacant in the manor, and the court rolls for many years show a high proportion of virgates in the lord's hands. A temporary expedient for dealing with the uncultivated land was adopted in 1351, when 11 tenants took parcels of 6 acres each from vacant holdings for a period of 5 years for a rent of 1s. 11d. a year. Two years later, however, some of these holdings were included in the list of those vacant. In 1357 the situation had improved and 14 virgates were taken up for rents of 5s. for all services, and in 1361 it was recorded that 18½ virgates were let out at farm and only 3 remained in hand. It is likely that there were further outbreaks of plague, since in 1368 the court roll shows 11 virgates in the lord's hands. The fixed rents, including the mill and fisheries, are given as £11 19s. 4d.
Money rents had been customary at Heyford before the Black Death, but the serious shortage of labour which it caused made the monetary value of the virgate fall. The rent of a virgate in 1279 had been 12s., but the tenants who took up vacant holdings in 1357 paid only 5s. After this, rents rose again. The parson of Heyford received 3 virgates in 1368 for the exceptionally small rent of 3 capons, but this property was probably a freehold. More typical of the copyholders, however, was the tenant who took up a virgate in 1375, paid 14s. yearly and owed heriot. Heriot and suit of court were usually the only services mentioned in the court roll, but in 1377 three days' work was demanded from a tenant in addition to a rent of 16s. (fn. 83) The customs of the manor in the 16th century, moreover, include the farmer's right to demand labour services at reaping time; it is stated that 'when the fermer wold have his bedrypp he shall give warnying three days before, and that all the tenants should go together on one day or he that may not go finde a man; that they should have good bredd and good plentie and to have their brekfast in the morning and att noon biffe and moton, and worts mowe or els go home and at night rost moton plentie and good chere'. (fn. 84)
The poll-tax returns for Heyford are missing, but some indication of the comparative wealth of the village can be obtained from other tax lists. In 1316 there were 38 contributors (fn. 85) and 34 in 1327, (fn. 86) and the total assessment in 1316 was £4 10s., making Heyford a village of medium wealth compared with others in the hundred. These lists also indicate considerable disparity in wealth amongst the tenants at Heyford. In each case the lord of the manor paid the highest tax, but there was a group of tenants paying a third or half as much again as the majority. This group includes Richard the Fisherman and John Skardesbrough, a virgater, who died in the plague. It is significant that none of this group, except possibly a descendant of John Kipping, who held a virgate and a cotland in 1279, appears in the Hundred Rolls. Other evidence indicates that the tenants at Heyford held, before the Black Death, more or less equal amounts of land, and the differences in their tax assessments may perhaps be explained by the possible existence of considerable sub-leasing between the tenants. When the manor was sold to William of Wykeham in 1380 (fn. 87) its annual value was estimated at about, £36. (fn. 88) The change in ownership probably meant little change for the tenants, as the previous lords had also been absentees.
It is difficult to estimate the amount of freehold in the manor. The Hundred Rolls do not mention free tenants. The Abbot of Eynsham had been granted a hide of land by Maud de Chesney, but as this was held by the lord of the manor at a rent of 8s. (fn. 89) it is possible that no distinction was made between it and the demesne land proper. By another grant made before 1224, Fawkes de Bréauté gave 3 messuages, 4 virgates and a villein to John de Bolein (fn. 90) for a pair of gilt spurs and 6s. a year to the Abbot of Eynsham. Another free tenant was Hugh de Courtenay, who in 1310 after a dispute concerning the manor obtained 2½ virgates in Heyford. (fn. 91) He frequently appears in the court rolls for default of suit, and after his death his holding, consisting of two messuages, a toft and 2½ virgates, was let to subtenants. In the 15th century Sir John Seyton of Barford St. Michael was another absentee freeholder and in 1495 his rent, a pair of gloves, was 31 years in arrears. (fn. 92) No evidence has been found to show the size of his holding.
In the medieval period the ownership of 7½ freehold virgates can be traced, but there were probably more. The Prioress of Studley, for instance, is mentioned in 1375 and 1487 (fn. 93) as owing suit to the manorial court and may have held land in the manor.
It appears to have been the policy of New College to obtain freeholds in the manor whenever possible. It acquired a parcel of land (2 virgates and 5 acres of meadow) in 1392 in free alms from John Morecote of Woodstock; (fn. 94) in 1498 it purchased 2 virgates from John Below of Eynsham, (fn. 95) and in 1499 a property known as 'Aveners' and comprising a messuage and 3 virgates. (fn. 96)
It was the college's practice in the late 14th century and after to lease the demesne and sometimes the whole manor. In 1395–6 the rent of the demesne was £13 6s. 8d. and in 1400 the farm of the manor was £34. (fn. 97) The fixed rents at the beginning of the 15th century were £21 or £22, but in the period 1432–62 many tenants were unable to pay their rents and the farm of the demesne fell to £10. (fn. 98) In this period of agricultural depression the price of corn in Heyford fell to as little as 2s. 8d. a quarter. (fn. 99) The college had also suffered loss early in this period through poaching in its fisheries. In 1402 it claimed losses valued at £20 and damages of £40 for the flooding of the meadow as the result of the diversion of the stream, which fed the college mill, to Somerton. (fn. 100)
A court roll of 1484, which gives a list of the tenants, shows how far the process of consolidating holdings had gone. There were then only 15 tenants compared with the 31 of 1279, but they held between them 42 virgates. One of them held 5 virgates and several others 3 virgates, so that it is likely that there were a number of landless labourers to work the land. Most of the tenants held part of their land in 'vaccantlonde'; the rents varied considerably but that paid for the 'vacant land' seems to have been less than for the other virgates; thus one tenant who held 2 virgates paid a rent of 20s., but another who held 4, one of them being in 'vacant land', paid only 8s. more. The largest landholder, who had 5 virgates, 3 being in 'vacant land', paid 44s. rent. The meaning of 'vacant land' is obscure; it may have been land which had lain uncultivated after the Black Death and was in process of being brought back into cultivation.
The agricultural arrangements in Heyford Warren appear to have remained remarkably static until the inclosure in the 19th century. (fn. 101) As elsewhere most of the tenants had one or two small closes; (fn. 102) in the demesne in 1669 there were four small closes and one large one of 28 acres, in addition to 25 acres of inclosed meadow-land, but by far the greater part of both demesne and customary land lay in the open fields with nothing but balks and merestones to separate the strips. (fn. 103) At a court baron in 1652 it was agreed to lay down more balks throughout the field of at least 1½ foot wide 'betweene partie and partie', and the lessee of the New College farm was to leave a balk between 'every acre belonging to the farm'. (fn. 104)
The early 17th-century rentals show very little change in the pattern of landholding. In 1602 there were still fifteen tenants of land and two cottagers. The largest holding was 4 virgates and the majority of tenants held 3 virgates; the total number of virgates was 41. The rents were 38s. or 36s. for 4 virgates, 28s. for 3, and £1 for 2 virgates. Between 1611 and 1651 the fine for the copyhold of a messuage and 3 virgates rented at 30s. 6d. fluctuated between £5 and £6 13s. 4d. The total rents in 1602 were £20 3s. 1d., which is very close to the medieval figure. Families, however, had changed more; only one family name, that of Tanner, appears in both the medieval and the 17th-century lists of tenants. (fn. 105)
The 17th-century rent for the demesne had also remained constant. It was still £10 3s. 4d. in 1665, (fn. 106) when a new lease was made between New College and Gabriel Merry the younger. Of this amount, £6 15s. 5d. was to be paid in cash and the remainder in corn and malt, although in practice this seems to have been commuted for a fixed sum. A similar arrangement was made for the payment of the £4 rent for the mill, which Gabriel Merry also leased. (fn. 107) It was the college's practice to let on long leases of twenty years, the tenant being responsible for repairs. These were beneficial leases for which the tenant paid a fluctuating fine. In 1633 this was £90 for the manor and mill, in 1650 £66, and between 1693 and 1717 it remained constant at £130. The fines were divided among the Fellows and were not entered in the estates account. A terrier of the demesne was made in 1669 when it comprised 224 acres, compared with the 4 carucates or 320 acres of the survey of 1279. A rental of 1669 shows that the customary tenants held between them 40¼ yardlands, so that the cultivated area of the parish at this time may be estimated to be a little over 1,030 acres. (fn. 108)
No evidence has been found of the size of the common meadow or of the common pastures of the manor. The 'Towne sheepe common' is mentioned in the terrier of 1669 and there was also a cow pasture on the low hill in the north-west of the parish. (fn. 109) Part of the demesne meadow lay in closes and some in the 'Towne Meade'. Another part called 'Gross-more' was several each year until 1 August, when it became commonable. Shepherd's Ground was 'several every other year with the lower field'. It is not entirely clear what field system was in use at Heyford, but there are indications that it was originally a two-field system. A court roll of 1377 records that John Long received a cottage and 2 acres, one in the North Field and one in the South; and the fact that Shepherd's Ground was inclosed every other year suggests a two-year rotation of crops. In the 17th century the acres were usually identified by the furlong in which they lay and the earlier distinction between a North and South Field seems to have been lost; the demesne terriers mention the 'ffarme blacke land' and the 'farme season land', and the glebe terrier of 1685 (fn. 110) gives the names of Deane Field, Standhill, Elumfield, and Flex (i.e. Flax) lands.
The earliest land-tax assessment of 1760 shows that the distribution of land had remained virtually unchanged since the early 17th century. There were, for most of the period 1760–1832, fourteen properties including the glebe and demesne, which were taxed the highest at £18 and £20 respectively. (fn. 111) It is clear from the inclosure award of 1842 that most of the people entered as proprietors in the land-tax lists were in fact copyholders of New College. Copyhold or lifehold had remained the usual form of land tenure at Heyford, the only leasehold estates being the demesne farm and a small farm of 3 yardlands. Few of the copyholders occupied and farmed their land; there were only two owner-occupiers in 1794, but two of the sub-tenants each held three small farms.
A description of the open field at Heyford in 1830 says that it 'contained 1,300 acres in different occupations and the parcels were so intermixed that it was difficult to say where one began and another ended'. A notice of sale of a lifehold farm in 1810 identifies the strips by the 'quarter' in which they lay, as for example 'the Calcote quarter, 32 lands', and shows that the common rights attached to each yardland were 20 sheep commons, ½ cow commons, and 1½ 'man's mowth' in the meadow. (fn. 112)
The parish was inclosed in 1842. (fn. 113) Three freeholders including the rector, two leaseholders, and eleven copyholders received allotments. The lessee of the Manor farm, W. Sturges Bourne, received the largest allotment of 309 acres, and the smallest went to a freeholder of ¼ yardland. One of the copyholders was the Earl of Jersey, who held two tenements of 3 and 4½ yardlands which he had purchased in 1794 and 1805. (fn. 114) In 1856 he purchased the lease of the Manor farm from New College.
In the second half of the 19th century most farms changed over to sheep farming and the cultivation of the turnip became general. In 1865 the parish was stated to be noted for its turnips, barley, and sheep. (fn. 115) Farms were increasing in size: in 1907 the largest was 419 acres, but the loss of agricultural land to the aerodrome checked the trend and in 1956 farms were mainly small or of medium size. The greater part of New College's estate, for example, was divided into four farms: Manor farm (338 a.), Rectory farm (111 a.), Mudginwell farm (120 a.), and Common farm (78 a.). (fn. 116)
Population seems to have been static in the late 17th century and for most of the 18th. In 1676 the Compton Census recorded 78 adults, while throughout the 18th century incumbents returned about 30 households. By 1811, however, there were 230 persons living in 57 houses. (fn. 117) In 1821 out of 62 families 47 were engaged in agriculture and 12 in trades and handicrafts. (fn. 118) Increasing population led to a further growth in the numbers of persons engaged in non-agricultural work, though the greater part of the men continued to be employed on the farms. In the 1850's there were a miller, two beer-retailers, a shop-keeper, and a sub-postmaster and eleven craftsmen. (fn. 119) As Heyford was a 'free' village where settlement was unrestricted, and also because of the coming of the canal and the railway, population had more than doubled by 1861. Agricultural depression, however, in the second half of the century, reduced the population by 1901 to 319, less than three-fourths of the 1861 figure. (fn. 120) In 1954 the estimated civil population was 317—the census return of 1,504 in 1951 included the personnel at the air base. (fn. 121) Modern transport and the construction of the aerodrome from 1925, which had absorbed over 300 acres of the parish by 1951, (fn. 122) have brought about equally striking changes in the occupational pattern. After 1887 there were two public houses, but by 1939 other tradesmen were represented only by a thatcher and a cycle-repairer. (fn. 123) By 1951 the old occupations were represented by 4 farmers, 8 farm labourers, 3 thatchers, and 2 publicans; the rest of the village was employed in a variety of professional and other occupations—some of them in Oxford. For example, 26 were employed at the aerodrome, 24 as labourers, others on the canal, the railway, and in shops. (fn. 124)
There was a church in Upper Heyford by 1074, when a grant of its tithes was made (see below). A priest is recorded in about 1180. (fn. 125)
The advowson has descended with the manor. The only 13th-century presentations recorded were in 1245–6 and 1247–8 by Margaret de Riviers, lady of the manor. (fn. 126) In 1304 and 1306, when the manor was in the king's hands, he was patron, and from 1314 the De Lisles were. John de Lisle presented in 1322, when Robert was lord of the manor, and again in 1345. (fn. 127) After John's death in 1355 the advowson went to Lady Alice Seymour, the tenant of the manor. (fn. 128) When William of Wykeham bought the advowson with the manor for New College she reserved the right of presentation during her lifetime. (fn. 129) The college has been patron since 1382.
Heyford Warren was rather a poor parish, valued at £3 6s. 8d. in 1254 (fn. 130) and £5 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 131) plus the amount paid to Oseney (see below). By 1535 its net value had risen to £13 16s. (fn. 132) The first postReformation valuation found dates from 1671, when the living was said to be worth less than £100; (fn. 133) by the early 18th century the value had risen to £120. (fn. 134) At the inclosure award in 1842 the tithes were commuted for £523 and the glebe for 102 acres. (fn. 135) In 1859 the net value of the living was £620. (fn. 136)
The glebe in 1634 consisted of 36 acres and 3 'lands' in the open fields, or, according to another terrier of 1679, of 91 'ridges' of arable and the meadow belonging to 2 yardlands with commons for 3 horses, 4 cows, and 60 sheep. (fn. 137) Once rated at 8 yardlands, the estate was increased to a rating of 13 yardlands in about 1670. (fn. 138) In the 18th century New College added another 3½ yardlands. (fn. 139) The glebe has been sold. (fn. 140)
Two-thirds of the demesne tithes were granted in the late 11th century by the D'Oillys to the church of St. George in Oxford castle, (fn. 141) and were transferred in 1149 to Oseney Abbey, which then collected these valuable tithes. (fn. 142) Later, additions were made to the abbey's property in Heyford: about 1180 Maud de Chesney, lady of the manor, with her son Warin's permission, granted it two-thirds of the tithes on 'inhechinges' there, (fn. 143) and in the early 13th century Margaret de Riviers gave it land for a barn in which to store its tithes. (fn. 144) Later it seems that there was trouble over the tithes, for in 1293 the lord of the manor confirmed them to Oseney, (fn. 145) and Simon the rector promised not to impede their collection. (fn. 146) They were valued at £1 10s. in 1291 (fn. 147) but in 1445 Oseney leased them to the rector for an annual pension of only 13s. 4d. (fn. 148) This was being paid in 1535 and in 1542 went to Christ Church, Oxford. (fn. 149)
Maud de Chesney made an unusual grant to Bicester Priory of 5 summae (quarters) of wheat a year from Heyford for making bread for hosts. (fn. 150) In 1487 Bicester gave up the grain to New College in return for an annual pension of £1 6s. 5d. from the manor and a promise to provide bread for all masses in Heyford church and for the Easter communion of all parishioners. (fn. 151) This pension also was granted to Christ Church in 1542. (fn. 152)
Throughout the Middle Ages Eynsham Abbey received 8s. rent on a hide of land once held of it by Maud de Chesney. (fn. 153) After Eynsham's dissolution New College paid this rent to the Crown; (fn. 154) by the 17th century the college was under the impression that it was for tithes and wondered why it was not 'rather laid upon the parson'. (fn. 155)
Some of the medieval rectors came from the parish, such as Simon de Heyford (oc. 1293–1304) and his successor John de Heyford or de Crawell (1304–6). The latter was far from a model parish priest: he was absent from the church for more than a year while in prison as a notorious thief, and was finally deprived. (fn. 156) Other rectors were servants of the 14th-century lords of the manor. William de Boresworth (1306–14), for example, was attorney for John de Lisle, and after resigning Heyford went to Wales with Robert de Lisle. (fn. 157) Another rector, John de Wetherby (1330–45), was given permission for a year's absence while in the service of Robert de Lisle. (fn. 158) In the latter half of the century Robert Mounk (1361–?) was closely associated with Lady Alice Seymour, acting for her as a feoffee to uses and as a witness to local charters. (fn. 159) In the early 1390's he was leasing the manor from New College. (fn. 160)
In the 15th century, after New College got the advowson, the rectors were members of the college and usually Fellows. (fn. 161) One of them, Peter Maykin (1420–47), was from Heyford. (fn. 162) Of a different type were Master Thomas Wellys (1500–6), an Augustinian canon, who became Bishop of Sidon in partibus infidelium and Prior of St. Gregory's, Canterbury, (fn. 163) and Master Thomas Myllying (1509–35), who was chaplain to Archbishop Warham. (fn. 164) The latter had a curate in Heyford and perhaps neglected the parish, for it was during his incumbency that it was reported that several people were in debt to the church and that the windows of the church and Rectory were broken. (fn. 165)
The Fellows of New College who held the cure after the Reformation were not outstanding, but they resided for part of the year at least and were buried at Heyford. (fn. 166) John Hungerford (1645–63) was expelled as a royalist (fn. 167) and during the Commonwealth replaced by a number of ministers: one of these, John Gunter, later became chaplain to Cromwell, (fn. 168) another, John Cocke, made a Fellow by the Parliamentary Visitors, bought a copyhold in Heyford. (fn. 169)
The Rectory was at this time the largest house in the village, (fn. 170) and there Warden Woodward of New College dined in 1669 and received 'handsome treatment, a table set with nothing but choice dishes'. (fn. 171) About the same time the rector Thomas Fowkes (1669–94) was sued by the churchwardens for not providing a Christmas entertainment for the inhabitants, and was ordered to restore it according to custom. (fn. 172) It cost him £10 a year, or a tenth of his income. (fn. 173)
John Dalby (1695–1717), who built the new Rectory, (fn. 174) was the last resident for many years. His successor George Lavington (1717–31), later Bishop of Exeter and known as a strong opponent of Methodism, (fn. 175) was non-resident. Nevertheless, in 1738 the curate reported that the parish was 'generally well behaved', though some did not attend public service 'as might be wished'. Two services were held on Sunday and four communions a year. (fn. 176) In the second half of the century, when the church building is also known to have been much neglected, the curate lived in Oxford. (fn. 177) The rector Charles Cotton (1767–99) had a tenant in part of the Rectory, keeping part for himself. (fn. 178) Sometimes he rode over from his home at Tingewick (Bucks.), fourteen miles away, to take afternoon service. (fn. 179) There were said to be very few communicants, and the children were not catechized or instructed. (fn. 180)
In the 19th century the parish continued to be indifferently cared for. William Busby (1799–1821), a pluralist and Dean of Rochester, did not even have a resident curate: he said there was no accommodation for one, as the parish was 'chiefly inhabited by poor people'; that he planned to spend the summer in the parsonage himself and it was 'barely sufficient to hold' his own family. (fn. 181) Dissent naturally flourished when the Church was so apathetic, and the 19thcentury Anglican revival did not reach Heyford until late in the century. Communicants fell from 30 in 1811 (fn. 182) to about 15 in 1854, when the congregation was said to be still decreasing. (fn. 183) William Baker (1821– 59), although resident, was eccentric and in his later years bed-ridden. The fact that his wife was said to attend a dissenting chapel (fn. 184) may perhaps be cited as evidence of his ineffective ministry. In the second half of the century Heyford had two rectors who left their mark on the parish: William Wetherell (1859–64), who built the school, (fn. 185) and Charles Mount (1865–78), who was largely responsible for rebuilding the church and Rectory. (fn. 186)
The church of ST. MARY is a 19th-century building in the style of the 15th century, comprising a chancel with vestry, nave, north aisle, west tower, and south porch.
Of the medieval building only the tower remains. It is of three stories, with two-light belfry windows, a battlemented parapet, and a projecting staircase. The buttresses at the north-west and south-west angles bear the arms of New College and probably those of Thomas Chaundler, warden from 1455 to 1475. (fn. 187) Most of the church may have been rebuilt at that time, as before the 19th-century restoration it was largely of 15th-century date. It then had a chapel, which adjoined part of the south aisle and part of the chancel. The nave windows were squareheaded, (fn. 188) and the external south wall was parapeted.
In the 17th century the south aisle caused trouble, and in 1668 a buttress was built to support the roof, 'well ramming the foundations'. (fn. 189)
In 1718 Rawlinson called the church 'good'. (fn. 190) In 1757 minor repairs were undertaken. The creed, the Lord's prayer, and 'choice sentences' were to be 'wrote upon the wall and the ten commandments to be in a frame where the king's arms are, and the king's arms put in another place. Boarded ceiling, and communion table, and pavement round same to be neatly repaired, &c.' The state of the fabric became increasingly worse in the second half of the century: in 1764 it was 'very much out of repair' (fn. 191) and in 1768 'ready to fall'. (fn. 192) Blomfield, who had access to records which have since disappeared, says that drastic repairs were made in 1769 when the south wall was rebuilt, a new nave roof put on, and the open timbers of the chancel roof covered with a coved plaster one in the 'Grecian' style, which concealed the upper part of the east window. (fn. 193)
In the 1850's the condition of the chancel caused concern (fn. 194) and by 1865 the whole building was said to be 'very much out of repair', (fn. 195) particularly the 18th-century south wall which had been badly built. (fn. 196) Restoration plans were made under the rector William Wetherell (1859–64) with Richard Hussey as architect but were apparently not carried out. (fn. 197)
On Wetherell's death the rector, C. B. Mount (1865–78), instructed the architect Talbot Bury, a pupil of Pugin, to rebuild the church. H. Cowley of Oxford was the builder. The cost was about £2,000, of which half was given equally by New College and the rector and £400 raised by a local rate. (fn. 198) The church, opened by Bishop Wilberforce in 1867, was built in imitation of the medieval one, but the nave was widened by 3 feet and a north aisle and south porch were added. The window on the north side of the chancel is original, and the east window is an exact reproduction of the original one. The chapel with its monuments on the south side of the chancel was replaced by a vestry. The clock commemorates the Diamond Jubilee of 1897.
The pulpit, dated 1618, with an hour-glass attached to it, was replaced. The medieval piscina remains, as does the fine recumbent effigy of a priest (probably 14th-century) under an arch in the chancel. Memorials include a stone to John Grent (rector, d. 1668/9) with his arms, and various ones to the Merry family. The majority of monumental stones have been removed. (fn. 199)
The present iron screen, formerly in Bicester church, was erected in 1916, and the organ installed in 1904. There are a 20th-century lectern, pulpit, and reredos. Electric light was installed in 1932 and electric heating in 1951. (fn. 200)
At the Reformation the church owned two chalices and several other ornaments. (fn. 201) In 1955 the only old plate was a small Elizabethan silver chalice and paten cover. (fn. 202) There were three bells, of which two were 17th-century, and a sanctus bell. (fn. 203)
The registers date from 1577.
No record has been found of Roman Catholicism.
Protestant dissent seems to have appeared in the 1820's and in 1829 a meeting-place was licensed, (fn. 204) which may have been the Wesleyan Methodist chapel, said to have been built in that year, and rebuilt in 1867. (fn. 205) It was still in use in 1955, but had only three members. (fn. 206)
Divisions had appeared among the Methodists, and in 1849 another meeting-place was licensed, (fn. 207) probably the Reformed Methodist chapel or meetinghouse which was used until the 1880's. (fn. 208) In the 1850's and 1860's the Primitive Methodists also had a meeting-place, described by the rector as a 'nuisance and disturbance' to the parish. (fn. 209)
At the beginning of the 19th century Heyford Warren children had to go to school at Somerton or Lower Heyford. (fn. 210) By 1815 a small school had been opened, where 5 boys and 5 girls paid 3d. a week to be taught to read by a poor widow. (fn. 211) In 1833 this school had 12 pupils, but it had closed by 1854 when the Sunday school, opened in 1828 and supported by New College, was the only school in the village. (fn. 212)
In 1859 a National school was built on land given by New College and R. Greaves, at a cost of £422, of which the college gave £150 and the rector most of the remainder. (fn. 213) The school opened in 1861 and at first had two teachers, but later only one. (fn. 214) The average attendance was 70 in 1871. (fn. 215) The original building included a teacher's house, which was converted into a new classroom in 1893. A new teacher's house was built by New College in 1904. (fn. 216) In 1906 there were 59 pupils. (fn. 217) The school became a junior school in 1925 when the senior pupils were sent to Steeple Aston, and a controlled school in 1951. There were 56 children on the roll in 1937 and 45 in 1954. (fn. 218)
In 1738 6s. 6d. was distributed to the poor and 1s. 6d. used for the repair of the church way from money left by a certain Richard Dalby, (fn. 219) probably a relative of John Dalby, who built the Rectory. (fn. 220) Dalby's bequest may have been one of several small donations, the remains of which amounted to £2 4s. 4d. in 1786. (fn. 221) This sum appears to have been distributed by the churchwardens shortly afterwards. (fn. 222)
Under the inclosure award of 1842, 20 acres were set aside as Poor's Allotments in compensation for the loss of the right to cut furze on the waste for fuel. (fn. 223) The rents from the allotments, which amounted to £46 10s. 8d. in the 19th century, were distributed to the poor in coal and clothing annually on St. Thomas's day. (fn. 224) In 1891 a barn was given by Lord Jersey for the use of the allotment-holders, and the village stone-pit was later incorporated in the allotments. (fn. 225) In 1954, when not all the allotments had been taken up, the net income was £19. Owing to the expense of refencing no distribution had taken place since 1951. (fn. 226)