A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 7, Dorchester and Thame Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.
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The ancient parish of Great Milton (fn. 1) was large and irregularly shaped: it was 5 miles long by 3 miles broad, lying 9 miles south-east of Oxford and 6 miles south-west of Thame. It comprised the township of Chilworth in the north (1,081 a.), Great and Little Milton in the centre of the parish (1,443 a. and 1,348 a.), and the township of Ascot at the southern end. The parish was thus a large one and covered 4,454 acres. (fn. 2) In the 19th century all four tithings were separate civil parishes, and continued to be so until 1932. (fn. 3) In that year the civil parishes of Great Milton and Chilworth, except for 13 acres of Chilworth that were transferred to Wheatley, were united to form the civil parish of Great Milton. Ascot civil parish was united with Stadhampton. (fn. 4) Little Milton remained a separate civil parish. In 1953, after part of Tiddington with Albury had been transferred to Great Milton and parts of the latter had been transferred to Wheatley and Holton, (fn. 5) the civil parish of Great Milton had an area of 2,513 acres.
The ancient parish was bounded on the west and for some way on the north by the River Thame, and one of the tributaries of the Thame formed the short southern boundary. Streams also divided Ascot tithing from Little Milton and formed the hundred boundary separating Chilworth from Great Milton, for Chilworth lay in Bullingdon hundred.
Much of the parish lies between the 200 and 300 ft. contour lines, but it rises to 335 ft. on the London road and drops to 177 ft. at Great and Little Milton meadows bordering the Thame. Most of the eastern side of the parish lies on Portland Beds and has a sandy limestone soil; on the highest parts of the parish there is a thin layer of Gault Clay which also reappears round Ascot at the southern end. There is Kimmeridge Clay in the western part and on Milton Common a belt of Plateau Gravel. (fn. 6)
The main Oxford to London road, the 'street' of a charter of 956 (fn. 7) and apparently a Roman road, (fn. 8) crosses the northern tip of the parish. Its importance in the history of Milton may be judged from the interest that was taken in the upkeep of Wheatley Bridge, Harpesford or Herford Bridge, as it was once called after the ford that preceded it. The Anglo-Saxon name was 'herpath' (army way) ford. (fn. 9) The bridge is first recorded in the 12th century, when Henry II afforested land extending up to it, and there is record of its repair towards the end of the 13th century. (fn. 10) In 1284 a Wheatley man was granted pontage for two years to enable him to repair the king's bridge. He used local stone from a Wheatley quarry. (fn. 11) A similar grant of pontage was made to two men in 1307. (fn. 12) In the 16th century Thomas Danvers, lord of Waterstock, bequeathed in 1501 part of £20 for the repair of the bridge and the highway. (fn. 13) Another bequest was made in 1631 by Abraham Archdale of Wheatley, who left £10 for its repair. (fn. 14) The petition by Milton and other neighbouring villages made about this time to Archbishop Laud gives an idea of the traffic on the road. They complained that Oxford carriers were ruining it by carrying 'unreasonable' loads of 40 to 60 tons each. Laud asked the Chancellor of the University that not more than six horses to a cart should be used. (fn. 15)
Leland in 1546 and Ogilby in 1675 recorded that the bridge had eight arches, (fn. 16) but repairs to it during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries considerably altered its appearance. In 1958 it had three semicircular stone arches, mainly apparently 18th- and 19th-century work. There are numerous records of repairs, e.g. in 1711 William Townsend the elder, mason of Oxford, was to receive £100 for 'surveying' the repair; in 1749 and 1757 Richard Belcher, mason, received £59 odd for his work. (fn. 17) In 1809 the bridge was rebuilt and in 1820 the Stokenchurch and Wheatley Turnpike Trust widened the 'little bridge' (presumably part of the medieval bridge) (fn. 18) 'adjacent to the main structure' at a cost of £222. (fn. 19) The trust considered that the repair of the 'little bridge' should be borne by the county. In 1840 the walls of the embankment adjoining the main bridge were rebuilt. Local stone was probably used as in 1880. (fn. 20)
Three secondary roads branch off the London road and run across the parish to the Miltons and their hamlets, and connect with the Shillingford to Aylesbury road. One of these, Swarford Lane, used to run close to Bridge farm, but its route was altered in 1937, (fn. 21) so that the farm buildings now stand farther back from the road.
At the time of the inclosure a number of footpaths and field-ways were stopped up or diverted, including one leading from the Wheatley-Little Milton road over the fields by Blagroves to Chippinghurst ford and mill. (fn. 22)
The railway from Thame to Oxford, completed in 1864, (fn. 23) crosses the tip of the parish and Thame station is 6 miles and Tiddington 2½ miles distant.
Great Milton village stands about 260 ft. up near the eastern boundary of the parish and is well supplied with springs. It is a large straggling village, built mainly along both sides of a curving street running from the 'King's Arms' and 'The Limes' at the north-west end to the green and the Monkery at the other end. From the Monkery the road descends past the Priory to the 'Red Lion', which ceased to function as a public house in 1959, and to the old Vicarage at the bottom of the hill and then ascends again to the medieval church, standing in a commanding position about a ½-mile from the main part of the village. Near the church are the manorhouse, Romeyn's Court (one of the two prebendal manor-houses), and the Great House. It is possible that the medieval village may have once been nearer its church than it is now, but at least by the 16th century it had spread to the ridge road where it is now chiefly concentrated. Although there are a number of 19th-century and later houses in 'Town street' there are still many 16th- and 17th-century buildings constructed of the excellent local stone. Many of these such as the 'King's Head' and the butcher's shop next door have cellars and were probably originally built for tradesmen: these two are L-shaped and although refronted in the 18th century are of 17th-century date and typical of the style of the older houses. The oldest cottages, a group of 16th-century date, lie on the south-east of the green. They form a row of one story and attics: they are built of rubble stone and are now colour-washed, and most have thatched roofs. Most, too, have leaded casements with shutters on the ground floor and have gabled dormer windows. The terrace ends with the Bull Inn, known to have been in the possession in 1684 of Robert Parsons, member of a substantial Great Milton family of that period. (fn. 24) The appearance of the group is enhanced by the well-kept grass verge in front. To the west of the green stands the 'Bell' (an 18th-century public house restored in the 19th century), more thatched cottages, and the other of the two prebendal manor-houses, the Monkery. Opposite, standing on the slope of the hill with a terraced approach above the road level, is a row of 17th- and 18th-century stone cottages. They have brick facings, thatched roofs, dormer casements, and also ground-floor casements.
About half-way between the green and the northwestern limit of the village stands the 16th-century house of the Pettys, (fn. 25) in 1959 the house of the village schoolmistress. It is built of rubble with ashlar quoins. Its gabled front faces the village street, but is set back some way from it. It has stone mullioned windows of four lights on the ground floor, of three lights on the first floor and of two on the attic level. The house is connected to the schoolroom which was added in the same style in 1854. (fn. 26)
At the north-west end of the village street is a picturesque group of 18th-century houses and a block of five early 19th-century cottages. They are built of the local rubble stone and have thatched or tiled roofs. The Limes, once a large farmhouse, is in part a Queen Anne house, which was added to and considerably altered in the early 18th century. It stands back from the road behind a low stone wall; its two-storied street front is of five bays with a pedimented porch in the centre. The roof is tiled and there is contemporary panelling inside. A wing of 17th-century date extends eastwards and the detached block of L-shaped stable buildings to the right of the house is probably also of this date.
The parish was singular in the 16th and 17th centuries for the number of gentle families that made their home there, particularly at Great Milton. Its high position, good water, the excellence of the stone from the quarries of Great and Little Milton, Wheatley, or Haseley, which was easily available for building, were doubtless the cause. Signs of these small quarries can still be seen in the Upper Portland beds containing a layer of sandy freestone with a maximum thickness of 6 feet. (fn. 27) Plot says that the Little Milton quarries were still of 'considerable use' in the second half of the 17th century. (fn. 28)
Among the families that resided at Great Milton in the second half of the 16th century were those of Edgerley, Calfhill (Caulfeild), Grene, Parsons, and Westfalling; and in the 17th century in addition to the Parsons and Grenes, who still appear in the register, there are the names of Astrey, Aldworth, Purefoy, Smith, Petty, Philipson, Cave, and Meetkerke. (fn. 29) Sir Herbert Croft's child was baptized in the church, (fn. 30) but he does not seem to have been a resident. A number of the houses in which these families lived still survive. They rebuilt or modernized the two ancient prebendal houses and the manor-house, and probably built anew the Priory and the Great House.
The Monkery, as the farmhouse of Milton Ecclesia was called in the 19th century, is mentioned as early as 1318, when Master Gilbert de Segrave, the prebendary, acquired without royal licence a small piece of land for the enlargement of his dwelling. (fn. 31) At the end of the 16th century Prebendary John Sled, son of a Great Milton gentleman, lived there. Delafield says that he kept the 'parsonage house in his own hands'. (fn. 32) He was one of the richest men in the parish and was buried in Great Milton church in 1601. (fn. 33) The Davis family were the next occupants: Martha, John Sled's daughter married William Davis (fn. 34) and then the vicar, Richard Attwood. (fn. 35) William Davis (d. 1635), her son by her first husband, inherited the lease on her death in 1622 and resided there. (fn. 36) His widow Eleanor later took the house to her husband John Cave (d. 1693), a relative of the Waterstock family and later Vicar of Milton. (fn. 37) He bought the house for £587 in 1650 and proceeded to enlarge it. (fn. 38) Before alteration the house consisted of a parlour, hall, and four bedrooms besides the usual offices of a 17th-century house. (fn. 39) A new hall, parlour, and rooms over were built. In 1650 the house was described as having twelve bays of building, eight bedrooms, and three garrets. There were five outhouses, three gardens, an orchard, and three fishponds. (fn. 40) Cave died in 1693 in the house, where three of his sons had been born, and was buried in the church. (fn. 41) Today (1959) the Monkery is a three-story house built of rubble stone and has a hipped and tiled roof. There are four irregular bays on the road front, a central chimney with three diamond shafts and at the back of the house two large stone chimneys with brick shafts. Parts of the building date from the 15th century, but there have been 16th- and 17th-century additions. To the east there is a 16th-century stone barn of seven bays with a thatched roof, and to the south a 17th-century one of four bays with an old tiled roof. The square dovecot of stone with a louvred dormer head also dates from the 16th or 17th century. The house was modernized when Sir John Aubrey was lessee in 1786–1826. (fn. 42)
Isolated from the main part of the village and half-way down the hill leading to the old Vicarage and on to the church lies the Priory, a well-preserved example of a 16th and early 17th-century house. Its name, apparently of 19th-century origin, is a mystery. It is possible that the house was built on the site of Eynsham Abbey's 13th-century barn, (fn. 43) or Leland's story that the house was on the site of a cell of Abingdon may have suggested the name. (fn. 44) Incidentally there is no evidence that Abingdon had property in Milton, although it had in neighbouring Garsington. Today the Priory has two stories and attics and is built of the local rubble stone with ashlar quoins and dressings. The north elevation has triple gables with moulded copings and small finials. Each gable has a two-light attic casement, stone-mullioned and leaded, and with a drip-mould above. On the first floor there are three similar threelight windows and one of two lights, but the ground floor windows are of later date. The central doorway over which is a cartouche with the arms of Boyle gives access to a hall with a wide low-arched Tudor fireplace. The ceiling retains its original oak beams. The chief ground-floor room has a similar fireplace and ceiling. The principal rooms, one above the other, extend the whole width of the house and are panelled in oak. The tradition is that Dr. Westfalling, a vice-chancellor of the University in 1565, originally built the Priory, perhaps as a refuge from the plague in Oxford. He was consecrated Bishop of Hereford in 1585 and presumably left Milton as he died in Hereford in 1601. (fn. 45) Later Dr. John Wilkinson, President of Magdalen, bought the house and lived there with his nephew Henry. (fn. 46) The arms of Wilkinson were once emblazoned in a window. (fn. 47) A friend and visitor, according to Delafield, was John Thurloe (1616–68), Secretary of State. Thurloe later leased the house; it was said to be his favourite residence, and according to village tradition both Oliver Cromwell and John Milton visited him there. (fn. 48) In 1742, when Delafield was writing, William Eldridge (d. 1716) had the house; he was the grandson of another William Eldridge who was the first of the family to have it. (fn. 49)
The gardens are disposed in a series of terraces, connected by a flight of wide stone steps leading to a Jacobean door. The house is separated from the road by stone walls in which there are two gateways of late 18th-century date. They have moulded caps and ball finials to the piers.
The 17th-century Vicarage has long been superseded. It was a 'handsome' tiled house of four bays with barn and stables attached. (fn. 50) It was replaced first by a house built by the vicar, Richard Cornish (1726–9), and then by one built after the design of Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1867. (fn. 51) The Old Vicarage has been the residence since 1957 of Sir John Sleight, Bt., and a new Vicarage nearby, designed by Thomas Rayson, was completed in 1956 for the Revd. E. P. Baker. (fn. 52)
Farther south still and on top of the hill stands the church with the Manor House, the Great House, and Romeyns Court grouped round it. With the well-kept church-yard, their gardens, and parklands they form a striking group and have considerable aesthetic and historic interest. The Manor House stands on the site of a 13th-century house known as Ingescourt and once was occupied by William Inge. (fn. 53) In the early 15th-century it seems to have been used as a dower house by Joan, the widow of Sir Richard Camoys, the son of Sir Thomas Camoys of Agincourt fame. The deed giving her possession on her husband's death was executed at Great Milton in 1416. (fn. 54) In the 1470's and 1480's, when William Radmylde was lord, some of the old house seems to have been demolished, and a new hall and chamber were erected and repairs were carried out. (fn. 55) John Sewy, a mason of Reading, undertook in 1475 to 'new make' the stone work of the hall, making the walls 16 ft. high, putting in a chimney at the upper end, 10 ft. broad, and making two bay windows of freestone, 8 ft. wide, on either side of the hall and another at the upper end. They were to be embattled and be made with 'double story clear lights'. Sewy also undertook to make the stone walls of a new chamber on the south side of the court and to make a number of buttresses including one to support a gallery. Richard Welch, a carpenter of Abingdon, did the carpenter's work on the new hall and chamber and another from Chalgrove was also employed. The freestone was supplied by Thomas Mason of Wheatley from the Wheatley quarries, some of the timber came from Coombe in Great Milton, and the tiles from Nettlebed. Camoys ('Cames') Barn and English Barn, an oxhouse and a hoghouse, were among the outhouses repaired. (fn. 56) It was the remains of these extensive buildings, presumably, that Leland saw when he visited Milton in 1548. (fn. 57) In 1566 Alexander Calfhill (Caulfeild) leased the house and lived there quietly for fourteen years. (fn. 58) Many of his children including Sir Toby Caulfeild, 1st Baron Charlemont, were born at Great Milton. (fn. 59) Attempts were made by the Dormers in 1580 to get possession and Calfhill complained that he was obliged to keep a large number of servants at his house to defend his rights. (fn. 60) By 1588 Sir William Grene was in occupation of the manor-house. (fn. 61) A deed of 1611, which mentions its orchards, gardens, pond, and pigeon-house, states that he was then living there. (fn. 62) Apart from some slight remains of the medieval hall the oldest part of the present building probably dates from about 1600 or a little later, and may have been built by the Grenes or possibly by Sir George Coppin, who purchased the house in 1613. (fn. 63) It was considerably extended to the south and north in 1908. (fn. 64) The walls surrounding the grounds and the original entrance to the house are 17th-century. There is a contemporary gateway to the road with obelisk finials. (fn. 65)
The Great House stands immediately to the west of the church. It was lived in by the Smith family in the first quarter of the 17th century and was presumably rebuilt by them. (fn. 66) John Smith was a royalist and a benefactor of Trinity College, who was heavily fined in 1649 for his aid to the king. (fn. 67) The house was rated at eight hearths for the hearth tax of 1665. (fn. 68) The family intermarried with the Skynner family, of which the most important member was Sir John Skynner, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer. He was born at Great Milton, inherited the house from his mother, retired to it in about 1786, and lived there until his death in 1805. (fn. 69) After Skynner's death the house devolved to the Rt. Hon. Richard Ryder, Home Secretary, as his wife Frederica Martha was the judge's only daughter. (fn. 70)
The present house has an early Georgian front of five bays with a recessed centre. It is built of stone and has two stories and attics. There is a moulded cornice and parapet, and a hipped roof covered with tiles. All the windows have stone architrave-surrounds and the upper ones have apron sills. The central door is in a wide stone doorcase framed by Doric pilasters. The gabled back of the house and the north wing enclosing a small courtyard are the oldest parts. The south front is said to have been added in 1806 though the rainwater heads bear the date 1788. It is on a different level and is faced with ashlar. The front is of seven bays including a twostory segmental bow with three windows to the right hand of the centre. Inside, the rooms have contemporary marble fire-places, and the wing is approached from the old house by three steps and a vestibule framed by Doric columns. Ellis, writing in 1819, records that the architect was 'the late Mr. Wyatt', i.e. James Wyatt (d. 1813). (fn. 71)
Romeyn's Court was occupied in Henry VIII's reign by Robert Edgerley (d. 1551), a man of some wealth, (fn. 72) and later by his widow Agnes and her second husband Sir Thomas Benger, Master of the Revels to Queen Elizabeth and Visitor of Oxford University. (fn. 73) Sir Thomas was leasing the house and manor in 1552 (fn. 74) and may have been responsible for the oldest part of the present building. In 1650 it was described as an ancient manor-house, consisting of nine, bays and eleven rooms in addition to garrets, pantry, milkhouse, and so on. Its outbuildings included two stables, a stone pigeon-house and a gate-house, and there was a garden and an orchard, well stored with fruit trees. (fn. 75) The house was originally built in the shape of a U but the centre has been filled in. It has two stories and is built of rubble stone. The roof is hipped and covered with old tiles. The north-west front has side wings of two bays; the windows are either of 18th-century date or altered in the 19th century. The arched stone doorway in the centre is also 19th-century. A small barn, dated 1868, and group of stable buildings, all stone-built, stand to the north-east of the house.
Little Milton lies in the southern half of the parish at about 190 ft. above sea-level and on a small stream flowing into the Thame. (fn. 76) A sale catalogue of 1810 did not exaggerate when it wrote of the village's 'salubrity of air and fine springs of water'. (fn. 77) It lies off the main Aylesbury road, but secondary roads radiate from it to the neighbouring villages. It has considerable character and its buildings are noticeably well kept. It is a good example of a nucleated village with several stone-built farmhouses lying along the main street. Although some are no longer used as such the farm buildings in most cases still stand behind them. There are a number of 18thand late 17th-century houses, such as the 'Three Horse Shoes' and the 'Lamb'; others date from the period of general rural rebuilding, roughly 1570– 1640, and these include the manor-house; while at least one house goes back to about 1500. The remains of a medieval village cross were still standing in the early 19th century. (fn. 78)
The manor-house has been considerably altered in later periods, but it was originally a 16th-century house. It is a three-storied house built of rubble stone with ashlar quoins. The south front is symmetrical with a slightly projecting feature of three bays with three gables. There is a moulded stone string over the first-floor windows; some stonemullioned windows and a central doorway dating from the 18th century. It has an arched opening with a fanlight.
Of the smaller ancient houses (fn. 79) by far the best preserved stands next to the garage. Built in about 1600 it still has all its original fireplaces and mullioned windows and a restored newel staircase. It has a small cellar and three floors, the top one forming an extensive loft. Its plan is unusual: although the building is roughly T-shaped, the chimney stack is central at the crossing of the T and the staircase is not attached to it as one would expect, but is at some distance from the stack. The south gable has a dovecot built in under the attic windows. The other houses in the village down to the 18th century are either L-shaped or simply rectangular, in nearly every case having entrance doorway, stack, and staircase in a line across the centre of the building. Typical of the L-shaped plan is Greystone Stores, which retains many features of c. 1600 in spite of the drastic alterations to the ground-floor facade. It has upper windows with moulded mullions, a chimney-stack (slightly to the left of centre) with a rectangular stone base, and three diamond shafts of brick with offset and toothed heads, and a cellar with a blocked mullioned window, now well below ground level. Fletcher Farm, lower down the street, was probably originally of simple rectangular plan. It has a massive central stack, stone-chamfered mullions on the ground floor, and wooden ovolo mullions in the front windows of the first floor. Half of the loft space, reached through a trap-door, seems to have been plastered over at some later date to provide extra sleeping accommodation. The barn nearby has the date 1638 carved on a beam, almost certainly the date of building of both barn and house. Frogmore Cottage, outside the village, is another 17th-century example of the rectangular plan and of a house with a large loft, reached through a trapdoor. It is unusual, however, for the way in which a later house has been joined to it at only one corner, a feature which may have been dictated by the marshy nature of the ground.
Although the village is predominantly stone-built there are at least two timber-framed houses which may indicate that this type of construction was common before it was superseded towards the end of the 16th-century by more expensive but more durable building in stone. Well Cottage at the lower end of the main street retains some of its original timbers and wattle and daub; it now occupies only half of the original building which once had a central through passage with a ground-floor room on either side. The other half-timbered house, Hill View, a little below the garage, is of special interest. It is long, high, of rectangular plan, and with a later stone facade with wattle and daub filling and an original window opening. Some very early timber framing can be seen on the first floor at the back. This, together with the curving wind-braces in the roof and the moulded posts and arched braces in one of the bedrooms, suggests that the house was built c. 1500 or even earlier.
The 19th century saw the addition of a church of good design, built in an exceptionally fine position and surrounded by a beautiful churchyard, which has been carefully kept up; of a Vicarage built c. 1850; of a school and schoolhouse; and of a Methodist chapel. (fn. 80)
Of Milton's other hamlets Ascot once had a large manor-house, a medieval chapel, and at least three farmhouses. (fn. 81) Little is left now except Ascot Farm, an L-shaped, half-timbered and brick house, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, and a few other survivals of the great house and its appendages. Ascot was the home for several generations of various members of the Great Milton branch of the Dormer family: Sir Michael Dormer acquired it in 1518, and it passed to his son Ambrose (d. 1566). (fn. 82) Ambrose's widow Jane, who had a life-interest in the house, (fn. 83) took as her second husband William Hawtrey, a London merchant and an original member of the Muscovy company. (fn. 84) In her will made in 1581, Jane speaks of her plate and household stuff at 'my mansion house and grounds called Ascott', (fn. 85) and it seems probable that the Hawtreys lived at Ascot. There were at least four other Dormer-Hawtrey marriages and William Hawtrey's younger brother Thomas, also a merchant of the Muscovy Company, (fn. 86) appears to have stayed in the Ascot house at the end of his life. He made his will there, left a bequest of 10s. to the Vicar of Milton, and was buried in Great Milton church. (fn. 87) Some details about the building in the time of Sir Michael Dormer, Ambrose's son, have survived. There were at least twelve bed-chambers, including a gate-house chamber, and a long gallery is also mentioned. (fn. 88) It is likely that the house suffered from Hampden's raid on Ascot in 1642 (fn. 89) when he demanded its surrender; it was in any case rebuilt by Sir William Dormer in the 1660's. He was known as William 'the Splendid' and it is evident that his mansion was planned on a large scale, but it was accidentally damaged by fire in 1662 before its completion. (fn. 90) It is said that it was 'burnt down', (fn. 91) but either some of it was left or it was rebuilt, for William Dormer paid tax on twelve hearths for this house in 1665, and Plot shows it as a four-chimneyed house on his map of 1697. (fn. 92) It was evidently used as a dower house until at least 1728. (fn. 93) Davis shows a house there in 1797; he also shows the park, the formal inclosed garden, and a chapel in the grounds. (fn. 94) Nothing is left now of the house or its outbuildings except for a 17th-century dove-house, granary, and summer-house. The dove-cot has wall faces of vitreous and red brick, with diamond, chevron, and chequer patterns; the eaves string is arched and cusped. The brick granary is octagonal and has a vaulted cellar. The summer-house is built of rubble with ashlar dressings; it is of two stories and has a hipped roof. It is now a dwelling house called Piccadilly Cottage and has been added to and modernized. Seventeenth-century walls of terraces and the gate-posts of the main entrance to the grounds survive. The last have stone piers, cornice heads, and ball finials, and are flanked by avenues of lime trees. A wrought-iron gate of 18th-century date and an early 17th-century gateway of stone, once in the park, are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. (fn. 95)
The chapel, a private one attached to the manorhouse, was built probably soon after 1200 and remained until 1823, when it was pulled down. (fn. 96) It consisted of chancel and nave, with a central bellcot over the chancel-arch; both nave and chancel were originally lighted by lancet windows, but two of these on the south side were replaced by twolight Decorated windows in the 14th century. When Powell visited it in 1805 he found it 'in ruins'. There were wall paintings in red in the nave depicting the passion of Christ, scourging, crucifixion, descent into hell, and appearance to Mary Magdalen. (fn. 97) A drawing of the chapel from the south was made in 1811 when the building was still entire. (fn. 98) Another of 1813 shows it roofless. (fn. 99)
Milton's other hamlets, the two Chilworths and Coombe, had disappeared long before Ascot's decline. (fn. 100) In 1739 Chilworth Farm, tenanted by Edward Hedges, which was about all that was left of one of the Chilworths, was burnt down with all its outhouses. The landlord, Sir Edward Simeon, Bt., rebuilt the house and Hedges obtained a brief to cover his personal losses. (fn. 101) The present Chilworth Farm is mainly of this date, but may incorporate parts of an earlier house. The second hamlet in Chilworth may have centred round the other farmstead in the township, Wheatley Bridge Farm. As the lords of Chilworth Valery and Chilworth Musard each had land in both the hamlets the descent of the property does not help to identify precisely either of the Chilworths.
The approximate position of Coombe is indicated by the field-names compounded with 'combe' recorded from the 15th century and marked on the tithe map to the east of Chilworth farm, (fn. 102) where in fact the land forms a natural combe.
The parish has been associated with a remarkable number of interesting persons. Most have already been mentioned in connexion with the houses they occupied, but Thomas Delafield, vicar, though mostly an absentee, should not be omitted. He was educated partly at Milton school, was an assiduous antiquary, and his works included a history of Great Milton. (fn. 103)
In 1086, the Bishop of Lincoln had 31 hides in Milton and his tenants 9 or 9¾ hides. (fn. 104) These lands had apparently come to him from Dorchester when the see was moved soon after 1072. (fn. 105) The tenants' hides appear to represent Ascot township and there is no record at this date of the 2 fees in Great and Little Milton (afterwards GREAT MILTON manor), first precisely recorded in 13thcentury documents, or of the prebendal manor, later known as Romeyn's Court, which came to constitute the two principal manors in Great and Little Milton.
By 1166, the two Milton fees were evidently included in the 8 fees which Roger de Cundi then held under the bishop: (fn. 106) he made a grant of land at Milton to Eynsham Abbey; (fn. 107) his widow Basilea made a grant of a rent in the parish to Oseney Abbey (fn. 108) and was still living in Milton in 1225; (fn. 109) finally Agnes, the daughter of Roger and Basilea, married Walter de Clifford, the Marcher lord, (fn. 110) who was holding in Milton in John's reign. (fn. 111) His son, Walter de Clifford, succeeded him in 1221 (fn. 112) and in 1236 granted the fees in Great Milton to Walter de Kirkham, Dean of St. Martin's-in-the-Field and later Bishop of Durham, who was then Prebendary of Milton Manor. (fn. 113) Walter de Kirkham was to pay £71 and to hold the fees for thirteen years on condition that he performed Walter's foreign service and cleared him of a debt of £155 13s. 4d. to the Jews. (fn. 114) In 1279 John de Clifford held the fees. (fn. 115) He may have been a member of the younger branch of the Clifford family which had held Frampton-onSevern (Glos.) under Walter de Clifford in 1235. (fn. 116) John de Clifford of Frampton is said to have died in 1299, (fn. 117) but his heirs did not hold Great Milton.
By 1305 the Clifford holding was divided: Sir Richard de Louches held a 2/3-fee (later known as CAMOYS manor) and William Inge held a ⅓-fee (later known as INGESCOURT). (fn. 118) Richard de Louches was a member of a widespread family which held lands in both Oxfordshire and Berkshire. (fn. 119) He married Elena Wace, daughter of William and Agnes Wace. (fn. 120) He was returned as one of the lords of Great Milton at the inquest of 1316 (fn. 121) and was granted free warren in 1318, (fn. 122) but died before 1327 when his son John was in possession. (fn. 123) In 1346 John still held his portion of Great Milton, (fn. 124) but by 1367 it had passed to Elizabeth de Louches, the daughter of John's son William. (fn. 125) She brought it to the Camoys family by her marriage with Sir Thomas Camoys, the commander of the left wing of the English army at Agincourt. (fn. 126) Sir Thomas died in 1421, leaving as his heir his grandson Hugh, who was already in possession of the ⅓-part of Great Milton manor, i.e. Ingescourt. (fn. 127)
Sir William Inge who held this ⅓-part in 1305 was returned as joint lord of Great Milton with Richard de Louches in 1316. (fn. 128) He seems to have been the son of Thomas Inge of Totternhoe (Beds.), (fn. 129) and by this time he was a well-known judge (he opened the Lincoln Parliament of 1316) and held extensive possessions in some ten counties. (fn. 130) Sir William settled Ingescourt and other lands on his second wife Iseult, the widow of Urian de St. Pierre. (fn. 131)
Sir William died in 1322 and his heir was Joan, his daughter by his first wife. (fn. 132) She never held the manor, for Iseult (d. 1370) outlived her. Iseult granted Great and Little Milton to John atte Streete of Little Milton and Robert de Woubourne for the term of her life, (fn. 133) and in 1360 Joan's son, William La Zouche of Harringworth, quitclaimed his rights in Great and Little Milton to these two men and to the heirs of Robert. (fn. 134) In 1370, soon after Iseult's death, (fn. 135) John atte Streete of Little Milton obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne lands in Great and Little Milton for himself and his heirs. (fn. 136)
By 1416 Sir Richard Camoys was in possession of Ingescourt. Whether it came to the family by purchase or marriage is not known, but in that year he granted it with all his property in Great and Little Milton to feoffees so as to make provision on his death for his wife, Joan Poynings, daughter of Sir Richard Poynings. (fn. 137) By June Sir Richard Camoys was dead and the feoffees released Ingescourt to Joan with reversion to Sir Richard's son John and, if John had no heirs, to the other sons Ralph and Hugh. (fn. 138) Both Joan and John died shortly after and Bishop Philip Repingdon of Lincoln had custody of the heir Ralph and of Ingescourt manor. (fn. 139) Ralph also died after the resignation of Bishop Philip in 1419 and Bishop Philip and his successor Bishop Richard Fleming both claimed the custody of the child Hugh, who now became heir to Ingescourt. (fn. 140) By this time Hugh's grandfather Sir Thomas Camoys had died (1421), leaving Hugh as his heir, (fn. 141) and so Ingescourt and Camoys manors were united and Great Milton manor was once again under one lord.
On Hugh's death in 1426, however, his lands were divided between his two sisters Margaret and Eleanor, who had married respectively Ralph Radmylde and Sir Roger Lewknor. (fn. 142) There is no record of the descent of the Lewknor portion, although the inquisitions show that the Radmyldes held only half the manor in the 15th century. (fn. 143) Some arrangement between the two families had doubtless been made by the end of the 15th century, by which the Lewknors took over some of the Sussex manors of the Camoys inheritance and Wheatley in Oxfordshire and the Radmyldes or their successors took the Milton manors and other Sussex manors. (fn. 144) Ralph Radmylde continued to hold after his wife's death and was succeeded by their son Robert in 1443. (fn. 145) Robert died in 1457, (fn. 146) and his son William, who was a minor in 1457, (fn. 147) obtained possession in 1474. (fn. 148) Before his death in 1499 (fn. 149) William disposed of various estates. In 1492 he sold Coombe and Chilworth, his other property in Great Milton parish, retaining Great and Little Milton manors. (fn. 150) By April 1499 Great Milton had been sold to Sir Reginald Bray, since the court was in that year held in his name. (fn. 151) He was the famous Lord Bray who by serving the Tudors had risen from obscurity to found the fortunes of the Brays of Shere. (fn. 152) The transaction had been started at least as early as 1497. (fn. 153) Leland said that Bray 'bought it off Danvers' (fn. 154) i.e. Thomas Danvers of Waterstock, and it may be that Danvers had been an intermediary in some of the numerous negotiations over the manor. (fn. 155) On Bray's death in 1503, his nephew Edmund succeeded (fn. 156) and in 1510 made a partition of the lands with Sir William Sandys, who had married Margaret, Sir Reginald's niece. Great Milton went to Edmund, (fn. 157) and in 1539 to his son John, Lord Bray (d. 1557), (fn. 158) who is said to have sold the manor to 'Dormer, Mair of London'. (fn. 159) This was Sir Michael Dormer, whose father Geoffrey had obtained the Baldington estate in Little Milton in 1473. (fn. 160) Sir Michael himself purchased lands in Little Milton in 1533, and Ascot manor (fn. 161) before his death in 1545. (fn. 162) Ambrose Dormer his son succeeded him. (fn. 163) Ascot became one of the Dormers' seats, and in 1566, the year he leased Great Milton manor for 21 years to Alexander Calfhill, (fn. 164) Ambrose Dormer settled the manor on his son Michael, then a minor. (fn. 165) Sir Michael, who c. 1580 challenged Calfhill's tenancy, (fn. 166) seems to have sold Great and Little Milton manors c. 1588 to Sir William Grene. (fn. 167) The Oxfordshire estates of Sir William and his son Michael were the subject of complex dealings arising from their debts. (fn. 168) Great Milton manor was bought by Sir George Coppin for £3,000, (fn. 169) and he died seized of it in 1619; (fn. 170) but his estates also were encumbered by debt, (fn. 171) and his son Robert sold the manor for £2,500 to Humphrey Ayleworth, (fn. 172) a member of the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire family. (fn. 173) By 1634 Thomas Lord Coventry, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, who already had the lay fee of Milton manor prebend, (fn. 174) had purchased it. (fn. 175) He died in 1640 and the Coventry estates were held by his eldest son Thomas (d. 1661). (fn. 176) In 1653 Thomas Lord Coventry seems to have settled Great and Little Milton on his younger son Thomas and his wife Winifred. (fn. 177) In 1675, however, they conveyed them to Sir William and John Coventry, sons of Thomas's brother, George, Baron Coventry (d. 1680). (fn. 178) In 1687 John Baron Coventry died unmarried and the estates went to his uncle Thomas, who became Baron Coventry and was created Viscount Deerhurst and Earl of Coventry in 1697. (fn. 179) He seems to have settled Great and Little Milton manors on his second wife Elizabeth Graham. After his death in 1699 they were held by Elizabeth and her second husband, Thomas Savage, who continued to hold them when Elizabeth died in 1724 until his own death in 1742. (fn. 180) In 1755 George William, Earl of Coventry (d. 1809), was lord of the manors. (fn. 181) In 1773 he sold them to Thomas Blackall. (fn. 182) The Blackall family had been established in the neighbouring parish of Great Haseley for several generations, (fn. 183) and had leased land in Chilworth in the 17th century. (fn. 184) John Blackall died in 1784 in possession of the two Milton manors and of Ascot. The property passed to his cousin John Blackall of Great Haseley (d. 1790), to his cousin's son John (d. 1803) and grandson John. On the last John Blackall's death in 1829, the manors passed again to a cousin, Walter Long of Preshaw (Hants). (fn. 185) He was lord of the manors in 1844, (fn. 186) but opened negotiations shortly afterwards for their sale to the trustees of the Boulton estate, who purchased the manors of Great and Little Milton, Ascot, Lachford, and Haseley for £184,000 in 1847. (fn. 187) Matthew Piers Watt Boulton of Tew Park and Haseley was lord until his death in 1894. (fn. 188) His son Matthew Ernest Boulton held the estates until 1914, when his sister Clara Gertrude succeeded to Tew Park and his cousin Lt.-Col. Anthony John Muirhead (1939) to Haseley Court, but there was no further record of manorial rights in Great Milton parish. (fn. 189)
Although the main manor of Great Milton extended into Little Milton township there was also a smaller estate there, known later as LITTLE MILTON or COTTESMORE manor. By the late 12th century the Bishop of Lincoln had created a ½-knight's fee, held of his Dorchester manor, in Chislehampton and Little Milton. In 1166 Ernald de Cardunville held it. (fn. 190) Thereafter the ¼-fee in Little Milton followed the descent of the other ¼-fee of the Cardunvilles in Chislehampton, and presumably escheated to the bishop in 1225, when a certain Alice, who claimed to be the widow of James de Cardunville, failed to establish her right to dower in 10 virgates in Little Milton. (fn. 191) By 1279 the Little Milton fee had been granted to Laurence de Louches. (fn. 192) He was still the tenant in 1301 and 1305 (fn. 193) and the estate evidently became merged in the de Louches manor of Great Milton and followed its descent. (fn. 194)
In 1279 a William de Bluntesdon was the demesne tenant of most of Laurence de Louches's estate in Little Milton; (fn. 195) by 1301 he had been succeeded by a Laurence de Bluntesdon, who died in that year, holding some 9 virgates of Laurence de Louches for 1/8 of half a fee. (fn. 196) His daughter Joan was heir, but there is no further record of the descent of the estate in the 14th century. By the early 15th century it is found in the possession of the famous chief justice, John Cottesmore of Haseley and Baldwin Brightwell. (fn. 197) He died in 1439 (fn. 198) and the estate, except for that part of it which formed the dower of his widow Amicia Bruley, passed to his son John. John died before 1474 and his son, also named John, succeeded, (fn. 199) but a part again seems to have been assigned as dower, this time to Margaret, widow of John (II) Cottesmore. (fn. 200) At this date the estate was also known as Cottesmore manor and was subordinate or partly so to the main Camoys manor of Great Milton, since John (III) Cottesmore (d. by 1519) was frequently fined for defaulting in his suit of court. (fn. 201) In Little Milton the Cottesmore possessions included messuages and lands called 'Colrentreves', 'Richemans', and a house 'Bluntesdon', which were undoubtedly part of the 13th-century manor held by Laurence de Louches, but which were in 1487 said to be held of Great Milton manor for payment of 1 lb. of cummin each year. (fn. 202) On the death of Cottesmore's son William, Little Milton and Dorton (Bucks.) were put in trust for John (IV) Cottesmore, the son and heir of William Cottesmore, and of his second wife Florence. (fn. 203) In 1533 this John Cottesmore sold the manors to Sir Michael Dormer, (fn. 204) who was amassing land in both parishes. In 1554 Little Milton was held by Sir Michael and his heirs of the Bishop of Lincoln as of his 'manor of Dorchester'. (fn. 205) Like the other Dormer lands the manor passed to the Grenes, (fn. 206) but was bought from them by Sir William Cope of Hanwell, who in 1616 sold Little Milton manor and lordship to Thomas and Paul Ayleworth of Warwickshire for £3,404. (fn. 207) It appears from a later lawsuit that they were acting on behalf of their brother Humphrey, (fn. 208) who also bought at this time Great Milton manor and an interest in the prebend. (fn. 209) Little Milton manor was said to be greatly encumbered by 'sundry leases, annuities, statutes, &c.' made by the Grenes: (fn. 210) it therefore changed hands frequently. (fn. 211)
It ultimately passed to Lord Coventry, who in 1634 was in possession of both Great and Little Milton (fn. 212) manors and it descended thereafter with Great Milton manor. Little Milton manor was offered for sale in 1893 with Little Milton manor farm, (fn. 213) but no further reference to it has been found.
Milton manor prebend, known by the 16th century as ROMEYN'S COURT and later as the manor of GREAT and LITTLE MILTON and THE PREBEND, was formed, according to the hundred rolls, as a prebend of Lincoln Cathedral by Bishop Alexander of Lincoln (1123–48). (fn. 214) It is first mentioned in a papal confirmation of 1146, when it was described as comprising half of Milton. (fn. 215) The prebend was sometimes called the manor of Milton and Binbrook, since the appropriated rectory of St. Gabriel, Binbrook (Lincs.) was attached to it. (fn. 216) In 1254 it was valued at £25 and at £46 13s. 4d. in 1291; in 1535, when Binbrook was valued separately, Milton was being farmed for £24. (fn. 217)
The manor belonged to the prebendary until 1775, (fn. 218) when the lessee, Charles Sturgess, Vicar of St. Mary's, Reading, and himself the prebendary from 1727 to 1746, purchased the freehold subject to an annual payment of £24 and £100 or 33 quarters of wheat to the prebendary. (fn. 219) The rent-charges were attached to specific parts of the estate in 1803, (fn. 220) when Sturgess sold the prebendal manor and estate to William Davey of Dorchester. (fn. 221) The estate seems to have been split up by the sale of the Prebendal farm in 1806, (fn. 222) but the rent-charges continued to be paid to the prebend until 1840 when they were transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 223) There is still a prebend of Milton manor in Lincoln Cathedral. (fn. 224) The manorial rights were held in 1808 by John Hedges and Benjamin Bennett, but were up for sale in 1810. (fn. 225) It is not known what happened to these rights until 1840, when Walter Long, lord of the other Great Milton manors, was also lord of the prebendal manor (fn. 226) and perhaps had inherited it from the Blackalls. (fn. 227) The manor passed in 1847, like his other property, to the Boulton estate and followed the descent of that estate. (fn. 228)
Until 1775 the prebendary usually leased the manor. In the 16th century it was leased from 1516 to Robert Edgerley (Egerley), a prominent parishioner, for 60 years at £24 a year. (fn. 229) He married Katherine, possibly a Belson, (fn. 230) and there is a brass to their children in Milton church. His second wife Agnes succeeded to the lease on his death in 1551 and took it to her second husband, Sir Thomas Benger. (fn. 231) Later, Sir William Grene, lord of Great Milton, and his son Sir Michael were the lessees. (fn. 232) By 1616 it was being leased by Sir William Cope of Hanwell, who held the manor courts. (fn. 233) From 1628 it was held by Thomas, Lord Coventry. (fn. 234) The lords of Great Milton manor were the lessees until 1742, when Ambrose Isted, son of Thomas Isted of London, obtained the lease. (fn. 235) In 1765 Charles Sturgess took over the lease and later bought the freehold. (fn. 236)
ASCOT is not mentioned by name in Domesday Book, but there are good grounds for supposing that it was represented by the 6 hides and 3¾ hides held in Great Milton by Aluric and William of the Bishop of Lincoln (fn. 237) who, as later evidence shows, had 2 knight's fees in Ascot.
The D'Oillys, who held 1 of these fees, were Aluric's successors at Stonesfield. (fn. 238) Their holding at Ascot, known in the 15th century as FYNES manor, was first recorded in a charter of William Rufus (c. 1099–1100), (fn. 239) which stated that at the king's request Bishop Robert had given back to Nigel, brother of Guy d'Oilly, the land which Guy had held of the bishop and which he had given back to the church in his lifetime. The land belonged by right to the demesne of the church and the bishop was clearly anxious to keep it as such, for he said that the 6 hides in Ascot were to revert on Nigel's death. (fn. 240) Nevertheless, the estate remained in the hands of the D'Oillys for the next century. Guy, probably the Domesday tenant of Wigginton, (fn. 241) and Nigel were brothers of Robert d'Oilly, constable of Oxford castle. (fn. 242) Nigel was Robert's heir, and in 1166 his grandson Henry (I) d'Oilly held the Ascot fee (fn. 243) and Henry's son Henry (II) d'Oilly succeeded him and paid on the fee in 1191. (fn. 244) Henry (II) apparently granted the land to his kinsman John d'Oilly (d. c. 1228), (fn. 245) for he is found paying on 1 fee held of the Bishop of Lincoln from about 1201 to 1210, (fn. 246) after which Henry d'Oilly again answered for the bishop's fee until his death in 1232. (fn. 247) The descent of Ascot is not clear for some time after this. Henry left no direct heir and his lands were divided among his kinsmen, (fn. 248) but no mention was made of Ascot amongst the lands of the d'Oilly inheritance and it may have reverted for a time to the bishop.
By 1279 the fee was held by Jordan the Forester, who also held land in Lyneham and in Waltham (Berks.). (fn. 249) By 1280 Jordan was dead and his property had passed to his daughter Joan, who married John de Fiennes ('Fendus', 'Fienlys'), lord of the honor of Chokes (Northants.). (fn. 250) John was returned as holding the fee of the bishop in about 1305, was one of the lords of Ascot in 1316, and contributed to the tax levied in 1327. (fn. 251) He probably died soon after. (fn. 252) His widow Joan held Ascot and Lyneham in dower and after her death in 1338 her second husband Sir Adam de Shareshull continued as tenant. (fn. 253) Adam outlived Joan's son, John de Fiennes (d. 1351), lord of Herstmonceux (Suss.), and John's son William (d. 1359). (fn. 254) In 1370, after Adam's death, the estate went in dower to Joan, William's widow, then the wife of Stephen de Valence. (fn. 255) On her death in 1378 it reverted to her son Sir William de Fiennes, who had succeeded his brother in 1375. (fn. 256) The family had little connexion with the parish, since the centre of their power was at Herstmonceux. (fn. 257) Sir Roger Fiennes succeeded in 1403, (fn. 258) but either he or his father granted Ascot for life to his brother Sir James Fiennes, who therefore answered for 1 fee there in 1428. (fn. 259) Sir James, created Lord Saye and Sele in c. 1447, had a celebrated career as soldier and statesman, but was handed over to Cade's rebels and beheaded in 1450. (fn. 260) Ascot reverted then, if not before, to Sir Richard Fiennes, Roger's son, who became Lord Dacre of the South in 1458. (fn. 261) He sold the Ascot estate, now called Fynes manor, to Richard Quatremain, (fn. 262) whose family had held an estate in Ascot since the early 12th century. Fynes manor was held for a time with the Quatremains' estate, but Richard Quatremain (d. 1477) apparently left a life interest in it to Thomas Boteler, son and heir of Baldwin Boteler, who obtained it in 1484. (fn. 263) There were remainders to Richard Grenville of Wootton Underwood, Boteler's nephew, and in 1510 Sir Robert Dormer, who bought the other Quatremain estate, agreed with Richard Grenville to exchange Wootton Underwood manor for Ascot manor and for land in Haddenham (Bucks.), where he had a woolhouse. (fn. 264)
The second estate in the hamlet, known by the 15th century as QUATREMAINS manor, belonged to the Quatremains from the 12th century at least and formed 1 fee with their land in North Weston in Thame. This was undoubtedly the 3¾ hides in Great Milton and 3 hides in Thame which William held in 1086. (fn. 265) In 1166 Herbert Quatremain was holding the fee of the Bishop of Lincoln. (fn. 266) By September 1200 he had died, leaving a widow Lettice, who claimed dower of the 6¾ hides in Ascot and North Weston from her son Herbert; it was settled that she should have 5 virgates in Ascot. (fn. 267) Her son Herbert was listed as one of the bishop's knights in 1201 and the fee remained until the 15th century in the Quatremain family, who from the 14th century at least resided at Quatremains Place in North Weston. (fn. 268) In the time of Richard Quatremain, who succeeded in 1414, part of the fee appears to have been mortgaged and sold. When Thomas Quatremain died in 1398 it had been given in trust for his widow Joan to William Bruley, (fn. 269) but it had reverted to Richard Quatremain by 1428. (fn. 270) By 1431 Bartholomew Collingridge and his son William, relatives of the Quatremains, were in possession. (fn. 271) Later William Collingridge and his wife Sarah were involved in a lawsuit with other grantees, but between 1456 and 1460 the manor, worth £9 a year, was finally awarded to William Collingridge by judgement of the court. (fn. 272) The Collingridge title was thus secured and the manor descended to John Collingridge despite the claims of William Danvers, Richard Quatremain's nephew, who claimed after 1477 that his uncle had promised it to him. (fn. 273) John Collingridge died in 1500 in possession of 'Estcote alias Astcote' manor, worth £42. (fn. 274) In 1510, however, his heir John Collingridge sold Ascot to Sir Robert Dormer of West Wycombe (Bucks.), to whom he was related by marriage. (fn. 275) The two Ascot manors, 'Fynes' and 'Quatremains', thus came into the same hands.
In 1518 Sir Robert Dormer granted the Ascot manors to Sir Michael Dormer, his uncle and a distinguished Mayor of London, (fn. 276) and Ascot became one of the seats of the Dormer family for many generations. His son Ambrose (d. 1566) retained this and the family's other property in the parish, (fn. 277) but Ambrose's son Sir Michael (II) Dormer ran into debt, and sold the manors in Great and Little Milton, (fn. 278) mortgaged Ascot, and sold it before 1609 to his cousin, Sir Robert Dormer of Long Crendon and Dorton (Bucks.). (fn. 279) In 1642 Sir Robert settled Ascot manor and other property in Little Milton, Newington, and Stadhampton on his 'youngest son and heir', William. (fn. 280) In 1653 William Dormer (d. 1683) settled the manor on himself and on Anna Maria Waller, whom he married. (fn. 281) His wife had dower in Ascot, but in 1694 his son John was in possession and settled it on his first wife Katherine Spencer, one of the daughters and coheirs of Sir Thomas Spencer, 3rd baronet of Yarnton. (fn. 282) In 1717 John again settled Ascot on his second wife Alice Dighton, and on his death in 1728 he left Ascot House to his wife Alice and his real estate in reversion to his kinsman Robert Dormer of Rousham. (fn. 283) Robert Dormer at once mortgaged the estates to his cousin Sir Clement Cottrell-Dormer and sold them later in the same year. (fn. 284) In 1760 Sir Charles Cottrell-Dormer of Rousham bought Ascot manor and other estates outright for £20,000. (fn. 285) By 1784, however, Ascot had been sold to the Blackalls and thereafter followed the descent of Great and Little Milton.
An estate of 7½ hides in Chilworth was held by Roger d'ivry in 1086. (fn. 286) As his lands passed to Reynold de St. Valery in 1153 this manor acquired the name of CHILWORTH VALERY. The St. Valery estates were granted in the 13th century to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and became part of the honor of Wallingford and later of the honor of Ewelme. (fn. 287) The overlordship of Chilworth Valery followed the descent of the honor, and as late as 1841 tenants from Chilworth attended the frankpledge courts of Ewelme. (fn. 288)
The tenant in 1086 was a certain Hugh, possibly the same Hugh who held under Roger d'Ivry in Stoke Talmage, (fn. 289) and who may have been the grandfather of Peter (I) Talemasch. (fn. 290) Peter's son Richard (d. by 1205) was the mesne tenant of Chilworth at the end of the 12th century. (fn. 291) His son Peter (II) Talemasch sold his estate in Chilworth and Coombe (said to be 1 knight's fee) to Ralph Hareng in about 1223. (fn. 292) Ralph, a royal justice, (fn. 293) had close connexions with the St. Valery honor and held other land of it in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. (fn. 294) The mesne tenancy of Chilworth and Coombe probably followed the same descent as these estates for the rest of the 13th century. Ralph (I) Hareng was succeeded by his son Ralph (II) Hareng by 1230 (fn. 295) and in 1242 this Ralph still held 1 fee in Chilworth and Coombe. (fn. 296) By the 1250's, however, the property had probably already come to the Senlis (St. Lys or 'de Sancto Licio') family, like Holton and the Buckinghamshire estates. (fn. 297) In 1279, therefore, Simon de Senlis held the St. Valery fee in Chilworth and Coombe. (fn. 298) On his death his estates went to his son Andrew de Senlis, then a minor, (fn. 299) who was returned as holding a fee in Holton, Chilworth, and Coombe in the 1300 inquisition into the St. Valery lands. (fn. 300) There is no later mention of Andrew de Senlis's connexion with Chilworth and Coombe, though he does not seem to have died until well into the 14th century. (fn. 301) Nor is there any further reference to the mesne tenancy of the estate.
Richard Gernon of Coombe was the demesne tenant by the end of the 12th century, and his family, which remained in possession until the 14th century, gave the manor its alternate name of COOMBE GERNON (or Garnon). The name Gernon was widespread in south England, but no direct connexion has been found between the Gernons of Coombe and those elsewhere. (fn. 302) In 1207 Richard Gernon was involved in a lawsuit over a ½hide in Stoke Talmage in which it was maintained that Juliana, daughter of Richard Gernon and his wife Lucy, had quitclaimed to Richard Talemasch her rights in the legal part of the fee of 4 knights, which she claimed of Richard Talemasch in Stoke Talmage and Chilworth. Richard Gernon had been overseas at the time, but was obliged to acknowledge the fine. (fn. 303) A Roger Gernon had succeeded him by 1223, when the homage and services of Roger Gernon and his heirs and 1 knight's fee in Chilworth and Coombe were transferred to the Harengs. (fn. 304) In 1243 Roger or a son Roger (II) Gernon (fn. 305) held the fee in Chilworth and Coombe of Ralph Hareng. (fn. 306) A list of Talemasch fees, about the same date, shows that Roger's Oxfordshire holdings included a ½-hide in Stoke Talmage and a 1½ fee in Coombe, of which the ½-fee was apparently in 'Wlfinton'. (fn. 307) By 1279 John Gernon, who must have been Roger's son, held the estate which was then estimated as half the total extent of Coombe and Chilworth and had been reckoned as 7 hides in 1255. (fn. 308) He or another John Gernon was one of the lords in 1316, and the Gernons were still in possession in 1327, when a John Gernon paid a high tax in Coombe. (fn. 309) It is possible that this John Gernon was the Sir John Gernon (d. 1339) of East Lavington (Wilts.), for the manor, or part of it, apparently went in the 14th century to the Rycotes, Clerks, and Englefields, by the marriage of Sir John Rycote to Elizabeth Gernon, daughter and heir of Sir John Gernon of Lavington. (fn. 310) Katherine, the daughter of that marriage, married Nicholas Clerk, (fn. 311) who in 1398 or 1399 was in possession of '… cumbe' by Milton and all lands late of John Rycote of Rycote. (fn. 312) In 1428 William Fowler, the husband of Clerk's granddaughter Cecily Englefield, (fn. 313) was joint owner of this manor, (fn. 314) and in the later 15th century part at least of Chilworth and Coombe was called 'Ricotes'. (fn. 315) The other joint owner of the manor was John Beke, who also held at Chislehampton, but no explanation has been found of his connexion, nor of the fact that in 1428 both parts of the estate were said to have been previously in the possession of William of Harpenden, (fn. 316) presumably lord of Harpsden, whose lands were in custody in 1378. (fn. 317) Beke's daughter Joan married John Rous, (fn. 318) who thereby gave the name 'Rous' to part at least of Chilworth. (fn. 319) The Beke and Fowler estates may have been united by some family arrangement: Beke's widow, Elizabeth Quatremain, married Nicholas Englefield, Fowler's father-in-law. In any case Thomas Danvers, who married Fowler's granddaughter Sybil Fowler, (fn. 320) probably came to some agreement with Rous, as he did over Chislehampton, (fn. 321) and secured both 'Ricotes' and 'Rous', which descended to his nephew. (fn. 322) The fact that Sybil had dower only of Coombe Gernon and not of the Radmylde manor in Chilworth, which Danvers had also obtained, implies that this portion had descended by hereditary right. (fn. 323) From this time Coombe Gernon descended with the other Chilworth manor.
In 1086 Hasculf Musard was already in possession of the estate (or part of it) later known as CHILWORTH MUSARD manor. A clerk's note added to the entry claimed it to be the land of Roger d'Ivry's wife: (fn. 324) if so, it must have been of her inheritance, for it did not pass with the other D'Ivry lands to the St. Valery family, but had for several centuries a different history from Chilworth Valery. The Musards were overlords for about two centuries, and gave their name to their Chilworth manor. Their chief centre lay at Staveley in Derbyshire. (fn. 325) A Richard Musard succeeded Hasculf in the early 12th century, and by 1166 Hasculf (II) Musard (d. 1184) had 1 knight's fee of the old enfeoffment (i.e. before 1136) held by a Geoffrey of Chilworth. (fn. 326) His successor Ralph (d. 1230) regularly paid on his fees in Oxfordshire, (fn. 327) which included Heythrop and Horspath, (fn. 328) and his son Robert (d. c. 1246) held 1 fee in Coombe in 1235, which was defined more clearly as 1 fee in Chilworth and Coombe in 1243. (fn. 329) Robert's brother Ralph (d. c. 1271) succeeded him, but the Musard overlordship is not mentioned after 1255 (fn. 330) and it probably lapsed at the end of the 13th century, when the legitimate male line of the Musards died out.
Geoffrey of Chilworth in 1166 was the first recorded subtenant of the Musard estate. (fn. 331) His successors were not noted until 1235, when Alexander of Coombe, a county coroner, held the fee. (fn. 332) By 1246 his son William had succeeded him. (fn. 333) William had died by 1273, when his wife was assigned dower in Coombe and Chilworth (fn. 334) and in 1279 his son John held the fee. (fn. 335) The Coombe family apparently continued in possession in the 14th century, for a Richard of Coombe paid a high contribution to the tax assessments of 1306, 1316, and 1327, (fn. 336) though he was not returned as lord in 1316. (fn. 337) The descent of the estate in the 14th century cannot be traced, but it probably came into the hands of the Inge (fn. 338) or Louches families of Great Milton and ultimately passed to Sir Thomas Camoys by his marriage with Elizabeth de Louches. (fn. 339) Like Sir Thomas's other lands it went on his death in 1421 to his grandson Hugh and in 1426 to the Radmyldes and Lewknors. (fn. 340) The Radmyldes had the closest connexion with it and their portion was known as 'Radmyll' and consisted of a 2½messuage and 2 carucates in Coombe and Great and Little Chilworth, worth £10. (fn. 341) William Radmylde, the last of the family, sold it to Thomas Danvers of Waterstock in negotiations which seem to have lasted from 1492 to 1497. (fn. 342) Danvers (d. 1502) appears by this purchase to have rounded off his estate in Chilworth and Coombe which then consisted of the former Musard and Valery fees and the Cottesmore estate. (fn. 343)
Thomas Danvers's heir was his brother William (d. 1504), (fn. 344) but his widow Sybil (d. 1511) had dower of Coombe Gernon and Chilworth. (fn. 345) William's successor, his son John (I), died in 1508 leaving his heir John (II) a minor, (fn. 346) who died in 1518 when his property went to his four sisters and coheirs, Anne, Mary, Elizabeth, and Dorothy. (fn. 347) By a family arrangement, Dorothy and her husband Nicholas Huband (Hubard or Hubowle), a Warwickshire man, (fn. 348) took the Chilworth property. (fn. 349) Nicholas died in 1554, and on Dorothy's death in 1558 her son John succeeded, (fn. 350) and on his death in 1585, his brother Ralph. (fn. 351) Ralph Huband had sold the property to William Grene by 1596. (fn. 352) Like the other Grene estates most of Chilworth was mortgaged and eventually sold in the early 17th century to John Simeon of Brightwell Baldwin, a member of a notable Roman Catholic family. (fn. 353) A long lawsuit with the Grenes ensued, (fn. 354) but the Simeons retained possession. George Simeon, who had been associated with his father John (d. 1617) in the negotiations, held the property until his death in 1664 and settled it on his wife Margaret (Molyneux) in 1660. (fn. 355) Sir George's son James (d. 1709) (fn. 356) was in possession in 1680, when he mortgaged the property to William Dormer of Ascot for £5,000. (fn. 357) His son Sir Edward Simeon held it until his death in 1768. (fn. 358) He was unmarried and his estate here and in Britwell Prior consequently passed to Thomas Weld, a younger son of his sister Margaret, who had married Humphrey Weld of Lulworth Castle (Dors.). (fn. 359) Thomas Weld assumed the name of Simeon, but apparently died soon after, leaving an only daughter Mary, a nun at Bruges. His nephew Thomas Weld succeeded him, (fn. 360) and seems to have sold the property in 1794. (fn. 361) There is no further mention of manorial rights.
Economic and Social History.
Great Milton was settled at an early date. No trace of British and little of Roman occupation has been found in the neighbourhood, but so favourable a site is unlikely to have been passed over. The surrounding district was occupied in Roman times, (fn. 362) a Roman road is thought to have passed through the parish, and the site of a Roman villa at Little Milton has been observed from the air. (fn. 363) The Domesday placename 'Middleton', with its ending 'ton' points to an early Saxon settlement. Chilworth, meaning the homestead of Ceola, and Coombe were possibly colonizing settlements from Milton, as Little Milton must certainly have been. Ascot may have been named from its position, east of Stadhampton. Other indications of Anglo-Saxon development are the field names: Swarford Ground in Chilworth, the Forty (OE. Forp—a clearing) and the Breach meadow, another early name for a clearing, in Great Milton. (fn. 364)
Before the Conquest the economy of Great Milton with that of other estates composing the endowment of Dorchester bishopric would have been devoted to the support of the bishop's household. (fn. 365) After the Conquest and Milton's transference to the Bishop of Lincoln the estate appears to have been drastically reorganized, for by 1086 it had almost doubled its pre-Conquest value of £18. On the bishop's Milton estate, rated at 31 hides and probably including Little Milton, there was the lord's demesne farm, and 24 villani, 31 bordars, and a priest occupied the remaining land. (fn. 366) The other settlement described under Milton was centred on Ascot, where there were the two estates of the bishop's knights—Aluric's with 6 hides and William's with 3 hides and 3 virgates. Eighteen peasants were recorded—a smaller number than that of the main village. (fn. 367) Only part of the settlement in the north of the parish (i.e. at Chilworth and Coombe) was described in 1086: an entry about 7 hides held by Roger d'Ivry was left unfinished. (fn. 368) In Hasculf Musard's 2½-hide estate, however, there were 8 bordars, 2 villani, and 1 serf. It was worth only £1. (fn. 369) There was no recorded woodland or waste. The Domesday commissioners estimated that there was land for 26 ploughs at the Miltons and recorded 24, five on the bishop's farm and 19 in the hands of his tenants. There were 2 ploughs on the demesne farms and the tenants had 4 at Ascot. While there was land for 5 ploughs on the Musard estate at Chilworth there was only I plough on the demesne and another belonging to the tenants. There were 23 acres of meadow in Chilworth and meadow valued at 10s. in Milton. There were two mills in the parish. (fn. 370)
By 1279 the parish's population had increased and the structure of society had become more complex. The bishop no longer farmed any of the land. There were now two large estates in the Miltons, the Clifford estate and Milton manor prebend, each with 3 carucates in the home farm and with some 30 dependent virgates. There were 2 smaller estates held directly of the bishop, one of 10 virgates belonging to Laurence de Louches and the other of 4 virgates held by the Rector of Milton, another prebendary. (fn. 371) There were now some eleven free tenants in the two villages, the most important being Nicholas Marmion and William de Bluntesdon, who had sub-manors of about 10 virgates each. (fn. 372) The Abbot of Dorchester was a free tenant in Little Milton: the abbey had held 20 acres and a meadow since 1146 and in 1279 held also 1 virgate by scutage. (fn. 373) Customary tenants still formed most of the population as was usual in Oxfordshire: there were 64 recorded customars and 29 cottars. The customary tenants on the two main manors held a standard I-virgate holding at an assized rent of 5s.; the cottars, replacing the bordars of 1086, paid 2s. to 2s. 6d. for a house and 3 acres. Both classes owed works, for which a virgate paid 2s. and a cottar 6d. There were two small demesne farms on the manors at Ascot: John the Forester had 12 virgates and William Quatremain 4 virgates. The one free tenant held 1 virgate of John the Forester for 5s. and suit of court. As in the Miltons the bulk of the population were customary tenants—there were 11 customars attached to each estate and 4 cottars held of John the Forester and 3 of William Quatremain. There is no mention of the size of their holdings, but the customars paid the same rent and services as the virgaters paid in Milton; the cottars paid less, only 1s. 6d., and those on Quatremain's estate owed 6d. for works. There were also two estates at Chilworth, belonging to John son of William of Coombe and John Gernon. There is no mention of John of Coombe's demesne in 1279, but the record of tenants owing works implied that there was or had been a demesne farm. John Gernon had 2 carucates in demesne with a meadow adjoining. There were 9 small free tenants on the 2 estates—almost half the total number in the parish, but they were still outnumbered by the 28 customary tenants. On the Coombe estate there were 10 who held in villeinage. They worked at the will of the lord, paid 25s. a year between them, and were probably ½-virgaters as in Great Milton. There were 6 cottars attached to this estate and 6 cottages were rented for 5s. a year. On John Gernon's land there were 6 virgaters and 4 cottars. (fn. 374)
Some light is thrown on the economy of the chief lay estate in the Miltons by the accounts for Richard de Louches's manor (part of the 1279 Clifford estate) rendered in 1322 at the Exchequer. Rent receipts were small and perhaps not all were included. A water-mill and a windmill were farmed out and there was a dove-cot and fish stews on the estate. Most of the goods and stock were sold at the end of the year: these included farm implements and equipment, which fetched over 10s., £3 from hay and forage, £10 from timber, and various sums from barley, dredge, and beans. Fish from the stews sold for £5. Fifteen pigs, 1 cock, and 4 hens were the only stock mentioned. (fn. 375)
In the 14th century the parish of Great Milton was, save for Thame, the wealthiest in the hundred and indeed one of the wealthiest in the south part of Oxfordshire. The whole parish paid over £8 to the 20th of 1327 compared with the assessments of £2 to £3 for other parishes in the hundred. The returns of 1306 and 1316 are incomplete, but they give some idea of the comparative number of taxpayers in each of the settlements in the parish and the distribution of wealth. They show that Great and Little Milton were the most important villages: in 1306 the Miltons paid more than twice the amount contributed from Chilworth and Coombe. In 1316 the holders of manorial lands paid high contributions: John de Fiennes 10s. 6d. at Ascot, John Gernon 9s. 6d. in Chilworth, Richard de Combe 7s. in Coombe, and William Inge 8s. in Milton. (fn. 376) In 1327 at the Miltons 72 inhabitants contributed. Of these 8 were wealthy, paying between 4s. and 9s. each, and 20 were moderately well off, paying between 2s. and 4s. The 3 small settlements in Chilworth made separate contributions. Seven of the 11 contributors in Chilworth Musard paid 2s. and over. The 9 at Chilworth Valery were less prosperous and paid 2s. or under. The tax for Coombe was paid by only 6 people but 3 of them had manorial rights and together paid £1 of the hamlet's tax of £1 2s. 3d. The amount at which the places were assessed in 1344 shows that the prosperity of Great and Little Milton had slightly increased and that that of the other hamlets was well maintained; Chilworth Musard does not appear on the tax roll. In 1354 both Great Milton and Ascot received a 15s. tax abatement. The Black Death does not seem, however, to have been as disastrous here as elsewhere in the county for in 1377 255 names were listed for the poll tax in the Miltons and Ascot; no record of contributors at Coombe has survived and the decline of the village may date from this period, but about 50 people in the Chilworths were named. (fn. 377)
The bulk of the 15th-century evidence concerns the Radmylde (i.e. the 14th-century De Louches and Camoys) manor in the Miltons and Coombe. William Radmylde did not work the demesne farms himself, but leased them to local men; in 1473 William Colles paid £10 and one load of hay as annual rent for the site of Milton manor, the demesne land, meadow, and pasture, and Thomas Warner had Coombe manor for £8 a year. Rents from virgaters, including £2 to £3 from tenants in Little Haseley, Lachford, and Ewelme amounted to £24, bringing Radmylde's receipts in that year to £43 17s. 4d. This sum varied little in the 1470's and 1480's, the only periods for which documents survive. (fn. 378) A 1499 rental lists the manor's tenants. The old pattern of holdings of 1 or 2 virgates or a ½-virgate still persisted and there was no noticeable aggregation of land. In Great Milton 12 tenants held between them some 10 virgates, 7 messuages, 2 cottages, and various acres. Eleven tenants in Little Milton held some 13½ virgates, 6 messuages, 3 cottages, and 3 acres. Most had a messuage and 1 or 2 virgates for rents varying between 5s. and £1 a year. One tenant with a cottage and a garden paid 8s. 4d., another with a cottage and 3 acres paid 3s. 4d. a year. The largest single holding was in Little Milton and consisted of 2 messuages and 3 virgates held for an annual rent of £1 17s. 4d. The rent roll included Ascot mill which together with 1 virgate was rented for £1 4s. a year. Camoys weir, next to Abingdon Abbey's mill in Cuddesdon, was rented for 10s. a year. The total rent of the estate was now only some £17 and apparently had diminished since the 1470's. (fn. 379) Courts for the manor were held regularly twice a year, usually in May or April and October or November. The homage of the two villages came separately to present the various misdoings of their fellows. The courts were mainly concerned with transfers of land, the upkeep of houses, and the management of the open fields. A transfer of land in 1472 may be taken to illustrate the custom of the manor: a new tenant, his wife, and son took over a virgate and messuage to hold at will for 12s. a year, relief, and suit of court; he paid an entry fine of 2 capons and on death he was to pay 3s. 4d. as heriot. A wife could succeed to a tenement held jointly with her husband: Thomas and Margery Crede held Ascot mill jointly and when Thomas died in 1482 Margery was admitted as tenant, and later held it jointly with her second husband Thomas Stockham. If a tenement was neglected or a transfer made without licence, the lord could take possession; if a house was burnt down the tenant rebuilt it or forfeited his land. (fn. 380) There is no comparable information for Ascot, but a 1463 court roll indicates that tenants were amassing holdings. One of the tenements described in the October court was made up of 1 virgate of demesne, a ½-virgate, 1 messuage and a close, and 1½ virgate and half a messuage; another consisted of a messuage, 3 closes and 3 virgates, and 1 virgate and a close. One capon was paid for relief and 2s. for heriot; tenements were held for one life. (fn. 381)
The open-field agriculture of the Miltons is pictured in the court rolls. There were frequent complaints of trespass by people who ploughed up merestones lying between the furlongs and of straying animals, as in October 1475 when six people were amerced for allowing horses to wander in the common fields. In 1487 the court ruled that Great Milton inhabitants must not allow their foals to graze at large in the open fields. The hayward took such animals into the pound at Coombe or Milton: in 1475 a man was amerced for breaking into the lord's pound and taking away four distrained horses. In 1484 a Great Haseley man was presented for crossing and recrossing Harrington common with his sheep. The courts were also concerned with the regulation of the open-field cultivation. In 1481, for instance, everyone agreed to keep watch over lands ploughed and sown in the East Field, with a penalty of 3s. 4d. for disregarding the regulation. At Ascot the court ordained that animals were not to be kept on the headlands of the fields when they were sown. On several occasions in 1497, 1499, and 1500 the court tried to prevent the overburdening of pastures and laid down the customary stint: in 1500 it was said to be 40 ewes, 4 oxen, and 2 horses for each virgate in Great Milton. The stint was smaller in Little Milton and was 30 gimmers, 3 oxen. The lord enforced his own agricultural rights: tenants had to fold their sheep in the lord's pinfold and were fined if they tried to remove them. Trees at Coombe were also valuable assets, and the tenants of the manor were not allowed to cut them without a licence. The frequent references to the Thame and the weirs emphasize the importance of the river to the parish's economy. One of the chief problems was to keep its course clear. The Abbot of Abingdon was the chief offender and the courts frequently presented him for allowing willows to overgrow and block the Thame. Sometimes the miller was in trouble: in 1474 John Davy destroyed his meadow, 'Mylledych', by stopping up his mill weir. The fishing was clearly of importance and in one 20-year lease of a weir and fishery the lessee had to promise to keep the lord's pond stocked with pike, roach, and perch. (fn. 382)
There is no clear evidence for the arrangement of the open fields in the parish in the Middle Ages. An account of a Great Milton holding in 1473 indicates that there had been little consolidation of strips: one holding, for example, was distributed in scattered strips of 3 acres, 2 acres, 1 acre, and ½acre in extent. Fields named in the court rolls of Camoys manor included Southfield, 'Dounnfeld', Northfield, and 'Sundfeld' in Little Milton, Eastfield, and Harrington Hill field in Great Milton. (fn. 383) There is no reason to suppose, however, that there were not three 'courses' in Great Milton, as there evidently were in 1650, when Harrington Hill was fallow every third year. (fn. 384) The common of Great Milton was in Milton Harrington and in 1484 a Haseley man was fined for cutting furzes there. Meadow land by the Thame was important, as it still is, and there were many references in the 15th century to 'Waywestmede', 'Dranesmede', 'Sparowesmede', and 'Northmede'. (fn. 385)
There was a separate field system for the Chilworths in the north of the parish. Eastfield, Moorfield, and Westfield were named in 1274 and 'Le Estfelde' and Chilworth Field occur in the 15th century. (fn. 386) These were still uninclosed in the early 15th century: in 1422 a grant was made of lands and tenements in the village and fields of 'Chilworth and Chilworth' and in 1462 2 messuages and 2 virgates were said to be in Chilworth Musard fields. (fn. 387) There must also have been a separate system for Ascot, but no details of it have survived.
The court rolls show that sheep farming was extensively practised in the parish and that the movement towards inclosures had begun at the end of the 15th century. Large flocks were grazed in Harrington Field, Milton Common, and on Chilworth Field. Complaints that sheep and cattle overburdened the common and pasture were numerous: in 1474 Richard Quatremain of Thame, lord of Ascot, had 400 sheep on Chilworth Field; in 1476 Thomas Danvers, lord of Waterstock, had 300 sheep and 100 cattle on the lord's common in Chilworth. The yeoman and husbandmen of the parish as well as the gentry had flocks. Thomas Eustace, a prosperous yeoman farmer, was presented in 1479 and 1487 for grazing 400 sheep in Great Milton. John Ives, who held 1 messuage and 1 virgate of the manor, had 40 sheep more than his due in Chilworth, and Walter Norreys, holding a close and 4 acres, had 20 sheep too many in the 1470's and 1480's. Not all were Great Milton parishioners: John Burnham of Waterstock had 80 sheep in Chilworth field in 1473 and the Wixons, yeomen of Tiddington, had oxen there in 1487. (fn. 388) Many of these men, some gentry and some prosperous yeomen, were responsible for inclosures in the 15th and 16th centuries. The court rolls mention the lord's inclosed pastures on Milton Harrington and there were various pasture closes in Little Milton especially, (fn. 389) where there was good grassland. In 1611 a lease included 5 closes of pasture and tillage there, (fn. 390) and about the same time the lord of the manor tried to enclose 7 yardlands by agreement. He said that they were so scattered that he could not feed or pasture his cattle or draw profits from the property without damage to others. (fn. 391) Good grassland must also account for the siting of the 18th-century Blagroves farm in Little Milton: it lay in the fields surrounded by its own closes and away from the village. (fn. 392) The soil, however, was good for the mixed farming of open-field agriculture; this, together with the fact that the 15th- and 16thcentury communities were well-established and large, must explain why the fields of the two villages of Great and Little Milton remained largely uninclosed until the 19th century in marked contrast to the other parts of the parish.
Chilworth and Ascot were seriously affected by 15th- and 16th-century inclosure. They had always been small hamlets and their soil was a heavier clay, suitable for laying down to grass. Progressive farmers of the time were able to buy out the peasant farmers and turn the land over to sheep. Thomas Danvers of Waterstock, mentioned above as a sheep farmer, was one of the foremost of these men in Oxfordshire and bought up the whole of Chilworth and Coombe. In 1499 he took 100 acres of arable and 240 acres of pasture into his demesne and converted '14 arable lands' worth £10 to pasture. (fn. 393) The process continued in the 16th century, though there may have been some uninclosed land as late as 1597, for cattle were then said to have been driven off ground called Chilworth Field. (fn. 394) By the 17th century all was inclosed, and Chilworth and Coombe were described as 'now being decayed towns and hamlets'. (fn. 395) Seventeenth-century deeds show that the land was divided into meadow and pasture closes. These were often large: in 1628, for instance, Coombe Harrington, a pasture close, contained some 80 acres, High Chilworth had 40 acres, and 'Bigger Small Mead' 30 acres. (fn. 396) The land was farmed from 4 or 5 farms, which stood in the middle of their own fields, a system which still characterizes this part of the parish. (fn. 397)
The same course of events occurred at Ascot. The number of closes in 1463 may indicate that already some land was outside the common-field system and was used for separate pastures. But there were still open-field regulations and the name given to the lord's meadow, 'the mead beneath town', may mean that there was still a hamlet there. (fn. 398) In the 17th century Ascot disappeared. John Wilmott of Stadhampton, another of the progressive Oxfordshire farmers, leased two farms from Robert Dormer and in 1516 destroyed a messuage and converted 40 acres of arable to pasture. It has been estimated that he evicted four tenants. Two later complained that they had been evicted for giving evidence at Abingdon. They alleged that Dormer and Wilmott intended to inclose the whole township for pasture, and this was evidently done, for there is no record of parliamentary inclosure in the 18th century. Seventeenthcentury deeds show that the land must have been entirely inclosed and list some closes of 50 to 60 acres. At the end of the 17th century there was at least one other farm, Anderson's farm, besides the manor farm. (fn. 399)
These changes were reflected in the numbers paying taxes in the 16th century. Chilworth no longer had a separate assessment. In 1524 there were 22 contributors in Great Milton, 15 in Little Milton and still 6 in Ascot. The wealthiest contributors were in Great Milton, where the farmer of the prebendal manor paid on goods worth £50 and 6 others on goods worth £3 to £7; in Little Milton 1 paid on goods worth £12. In 1542 there were 34 contributors in Great Milton and 3 were men of substance: John Grene, whose family later bought the manor, had goods worth £66, Robert Edgerly, tenant of the prebendal manor, had £50 worth, and John Ives £19 worth. In Little Milton 3 out of 27 contributors had goods worth £10 to £16. In both villages most people paid on goods worth between £1 to £5. There were only 3 contributors at Ascot in 1545: 1 had goods to the value of £20, 2 others to the value of £5. Later 16th- and 17th-century subsidies show a similar picture: Great Milton continued to pay about three times as much as Little Milton; at Ascot the lord and a tenant were usually the only contributors. (fn. 400)
The parish as a whole is distinguished by the number of its substantial husbandmen and yeomen and the many well-known Oxfordshire families who had land in the parish. The Ives family, for example, were prosperous inhabitants in the early 14th century and the family is frequently mentioned in 15th-, 16th-, and 17th-century documents. (fn. 401) With the Eustace, Wildgoose, and Wiggin families they made up the four families found in the 15th century of which members were still living when Delafield wrote in the 18th century. (fn. 402) Another family, the Parsons, was typical of the class of small men who were successful in rising in the social scale in the 16th century. Thomas Parsons rented land worth 12s. 4d. a year in 1499; his descendant Thomas Parsons paid on goods worth £25 in 1577, one of the highest assessments in the parish, and by 1665 Robert Parsons was living in the largest house there, except for the Dormers' house at Ascot. (fn. 403) New families came in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Welleses, who also held at Tiddington, were typical of these yeomen. In 1616 Richard Welles married Mary Wildgoose and took over 2 virgates in Great Milton. The family acquired more land in the parish in the course of the 17th century and held Lower Farm by the 18th century; they became substantial tenant farmers in Chilworth as well. (fn. 404)
Some documentary evidence for 17th-century farming in Great Milton has survived. A description of the chief lay manor given in 1617 describes it as consisting of 1 messuage, 1 dove-cot, 3 gardens, 220 acres of arable, 6 of meadow, 150 of pasture, and 1 heath. There was common of pasture for 9 horses, 21 cows, and 360 sheep. (fn. 405) In a lawsuit over the manor in 1622 some details of stock are given: Humphrey Ayleworth distrained on 200 ewes, 200 lambs, 80 tegs, 17 heifers, a cow, and 2 bullocks, of the value of £300 and upwards. (fn. 406) A 1617 tithe case throws some additional light: Sir William Cope, farmer of the prebendal manor, had 20 acres on which he sowed barley, worth £50 at the previous harvest; there were 5 acres sown with woad, each acre worth 8s.; there were 80 acres of warren where he bred rabbits, and in 1616 600 couples, valued at 2s. a couple, were killed. (fn. 407)
In 1650 the value of copyhold tenures of the prebendal manor was £19 7s. 8d.; 25 tenants paid between 20s. and 30s. for a messuage and 2 yardlands each. It was the custom to hold for a term of three lives; land was let by the yardland; each yardland had 16 acres of arable, pasture, and meadow, and was valued at £6 6s. 8d. a year. The profits of the court were £19 7s. 8d. Lord Coventry, then the tenant, let the manor-house with its stables, pigeonhouse, garden, orchard, and pastures. There was also a manor-house attached to Milton Ecclesia prebend, and 2½ messuages, worth £25 altogether. Pasture rights for both prebends were specified— for the manor prebend, it was 4 cows and 40 sheep a yardland on Harrington Hill; for Milton Ecclesia prebend, it was 30 sheep and 3 cows a yardland on 'Hornston' (Harrington) Hill with the town herd. (fn. 408) Details of Chilworth's land appear in Sir James Simeon's account book for 1689 and other years. He owned most of the farms later known as Chilworth farm, Upper and Lower farm, and Trindall's farm. In 1690 he received £235 14s. 7d. for half-yearly rent from eight tenants: Robert Hedges paid nearly £100 rent. (fn. 409)
The changes that had taken place in the parish since the late 15th century are reflected in the hearthtax returns. In Great Milton in 1662 and 1665 44 and 32 families respectively were taxed and four were discharged on account of poverty in 1665. Among those who paid in 1665 the number of farmers living in substantial houses is noticeable. There were seven with five or more hearths. At Little Milton there were also five families who paid on five hearths or more in 1665 but 26 others were less well housed than the Great Milton people. In 1662 35 were taxed. Only four houses, including Sir William Dormer's, were returned for Ascot. (fn. 410) It is of interest to compare the figure of 83 households with that of 409 persons listed in the Compton Census of 1676. At Tetsworth, where both the number of families and the number of persons of age is given, the ratio is 2.8 to one. (fn. 411) If the ratio was the same at Great Milton there were about 146 families there in 1676.
In 1749 there were some 40 holdings, copyhold and leasehold, in the prebendal manor of Great and Little Milton, and most were valued at well over £5. In 1775 the annual value of the manor was £239 6s. 6d. in rack rents, £20 5s. 7d. in quitrents and £113 3½d. from fines and heriots, reckoned on an average of 12 years. By 1808 there had been changes in tenures: the homage presented that William Davy, the previous lord, had enfranchised various tenements and that John Hedges and Benjamin Bennet, the new lords, had extinguished some copyhold tenures. (fn. 412)
The land-tax assessments of 1786 show that besides the large properties there were still many smallholdings in the Miltons. There were 40 landlords and 49 holdings in Great Milton, 13 owner-occupiers and some 35 tenants. There were 40 landlords in Little Milton and 54 holdings, 14 owner-occupiers, and 35 tenants. In Chilworth there were 11 landowners, 4 owner-occupiers, and 12 tenants. Thomas Weld, the lord of the manor, owned most land here and paid £85 1s. 4d.; he was non-resident and had 4 tenants. Only eight others paid as much as between £10 and £24 in the Miltons and Chilworth, and the majority paid between £1 and £5. By 1816 the Weld interest had disappeared from Chilworth and there was no predominantly large landowner in that part of the parish. In 1785 most of Ascot was owned by one non-resident landlord, who was assessed for eight-ninths of the land tax. (fn. 413) By 1832 Edward Franklin was the sole tenant farmer; he had bought the estate by the 1850's and it was one of the centres of progressive farming in Oxfordshire. (fn. 414)
In the 1830's the parish still had a high proportion of meadow and pasture land. It amounted to 1,660 acres compared with 2,520 acres of arable; Chilworth had a ratio of meadow to arable as high as 2 to 3 and Ascot had almost as much pasture land as arable. (fn. 415) A description of Great Milton meadows some 30 years earlier shows the division of meadow land. Revel Mead with 32 men's math was held by 8 tenants; Breach Mead and the Breach were held by 3 tenants; North Mead was divided into 22 lots and occupied by 6 tenants. (fn. 416) Waste land and commons were still important. In 1830 various proprietors and tenants met in a vestry meeting at the Bell Inn to protect their common rights: they agreed not to remove grass or rushes from the commons or waste land or to allow others to do so. (fn. 417) Nevertheless the end of the open-field village soon came. Over 902 acres of Little Milton were inclosed in 1839; about 575 acres went to Walter Long, the lord of the manor. Great Milton was inclosed in 1844 when 1,316 acres were affected. The largest allotment of 360 acres went to Walter Long; Charles Couling, owner of the Prebendal farm, received 254 acres and the prebendary of Milton Ecclesia 137 acres. Four acres were allotted for recreation. (fn. 418)
The inclosures may have contributed to the drop in population in the second half of the 19th century. The census of 1801 recorded about 1,000 people in the parish, well over three-quarters living in Great and Little Milton. At Ascot the population dropped between the 1830's and 1840's as Franklin brought all the land into his own hands, but there was a steady rise in population elsewhere until the 1840's. Thereafter the population in all parts of the parish declined to 865 in 1901. (fn. 419)
Whatever the effect of inclosure on population its encouragement of the larger-sized farm seems certain. Small-holdings decreased in number until in 1882 there were six farms in Great Milton, for example, of between 150 and 200 acres besides the manor farm with 273 acres. The 100 or so cottages and other houses in the village had only their gardens or at most 2 acres of land. (fn. 420) The continued growth in the size of farms can be seen at the begin ning of the 20th century in Little Milton where there were three farms of 257, 300, and 412 acres; at Chilworth where there were five farms of 100 to 200 acres and one of over 300 acres; and at Ascot where there was one large farm of 551 acres and five cottages. (fn. 421) This movement has continued to the present day (1957) save in Ascot, where the Oxford County Council purchased the Ascot estate in 1920 under the Small-holdings Act, with the object of assisting demobilized soldiers to settle on the land. (fn. 422) By 1922 there were ten cottages each with 30 to 40 acres of land, and by 1931 there were 55 inhabitants, the highest number since the early 19th century. (fn. 423)
The parish has always been good mixed farming country. The type of land is well described by Arthur Young: 'Milton field is one of the finest soils … in the country: dry, sound, friable loam on gravel' (fn. 424) and an agricultural expert in 1917 described it as excellent for the best type of Oxfordshire farming—corn, sheep, and cattle. (fn. 425) There have been many changes in the popularity of the various types of farming, but on the whole arable has held pride of place in the Milton economy after the trend of the 15th and 16th centuries towards a pastoral economy. Barley, dredge, and beans were sold off the Louches manor in 1322 and in 1617 barley was grown on Sir William Cope's estate. In 1803 tithes were paid in barley, wheat, maslin and beans, straw, and hay. (fn. 426) Turnips and swedes were grown at the end of the 18th century. Arthur Young noted that Milton field had 'the finest show of turnips' he had seen that year (1807) as well as 'very fine and luxurious swedes'. (fn. 427) A vestry meeting of 1823 laid down that clover was to be sown in part at least of Milton 'Field', turnips in part of Harrington, and vetches in part of Fulwell Field. (fn. 428) Even at Chilworth there had been reconversion to arable: in 1831 Chilworth farm was mainly arable and had only 7 acres of pasture. (fn. 429) In 1826 the inventory of crops at Wheatley Bridge farm included oats, barley, beans and peas, spring wheat, and potatoes. (fn. 430) When Ashhurst let it out in 1876 he prescribed a five-course rotation. (fn. 431) At Ascot Edward Franklin was noted for his good farming and gave a great deal of information to Sewell Read for his agricultural survey of 1854. Franklin practised double-cropping of roots and green crops, and sowed mangolds in the bean quarter. (fn. 432)
The introduction of machinery in the parish led to violent opposition. In 1830 rioters from the neighbouring villages of Drayton, Chislehampton, and Stadhampton assaulted James Wells of Little Milton and broke his threshing machines. Six people were indicted and sentenced to 7 years' transportation. The parish itself appears not to have been in sympathy with the attack and 136 parishioners were sworn in as special constables. (fn. 433)
Stock farming was still important in all parts of the parish in the 19th century. When Swarford or Wheatley Bridge farm was up for sale in 1814, it was described as mostly consisting of 'very rich grazing land', and in 1815 an inventory of stock included 14 cows and heifers, 212 sheep. There were prize sheep in many parts of the parish. (fn. 434) In 1854 valuable Down Cotswold flocks had been kept at Little Milton for twenty years. Read was enthusiastic, too, over the fat lambs at Ascot and the use of a horned Wiltshire ram, but he commented that the lambs 'can only be successfully grazed by those who have a large extent of rich meadow land'. A fine herd of Herefords was kept by Franklin. Read commented that 'the first 30 that were sold averaged £34 each and were excellent in every point being good for the feeder, the butcher, and the public'. The steers were bought at the Hereford October fair, kept throughout the summer, and sold at Christmas. (fn. 435) Fruit farming in the parish was not successful: it died out in the early 19th century with the death of its originator, William Speechley. (fn. 436)
Throughout most of its history, agriculture and allied crafts have been the parish's main occupation. In both the 17th and 18th centuries the names of wheelwrights, carpenters, cord-wainers, and blacksmiths are recorded. The appearance of a perukemaker in 1757 was presumably due to the number of gentry living in the neighbourhood. (fn. 437) The quarries in Great and Little Milton must have provided the only other industry in the parish. Dr. Plot noted them in 1677 and in 1903 Milton quarries were still worked and provided Portland stone for repairing buildings in Oxford. (fn. 438) In 1740 Richard Belcher, a mason of Little Milton, built the tower of Stadhampton church. (fn. 439)
The census of 1851 shows that Great Milton was a comparatively self-sufficient community. The majority of inhabitants, some 155 labourers, were employed by 8 farmers, but there were also 4 blacksmiths, 2 wheelwrights, 7 shoemakers, 2 harnessmakers, 7 carpenters, 4 or 5 victuallers or innkeepers, a carrier, and a drover, besides the usual trades of shopkeeper, baker, and butcher. There were 2 dressmakers, a milliner, a glover, and 3 laundresses. The professional class was represented by a surgeon and a general practitioner. (fn. 440) In Little Milton, Ascot, and Chilworth there were 9 farmers. Little Milton had 3 dealers in livestock, 5 shopkeepers, and a publican. Besides 12 craftsmen of a more common type stone masons still flourished: there was one family of 4 and 2 others engaged in the craft. At Ascot the whole community of 21 centred around Edward Franklin's farm of 1,050 acres. (fn. 441) In Chilworth 15 labourers were employed by 3 farmers, and there was a carter and a turnpike keeper. (fn. 442) By 1939 only 2 craftsmen were left and in 1957 only about 5 per cent. of the villagers worked on the land, the rest mostly working in Oxford industries. (fn. 443)
In the agricultural depression of the late 1860's and 1870's there was so much unemployment and poverty in the Miltons that in addition to the assistance to the poor provided from the rates, special steps were taken by the better-off inhabitants to alleviate distress. An Emigration Fund was set up to help emigrants with their passage to Canada and nearly £50 had been subscribed by 1870 when a group left the parish to join an immigration party going from London to Quebec and Markham, Canada. (fn. 444) Free railway journeys in Canada and employment were promised. The letters sent back by the emigrants throw light not only on life in Canada, but also on problems at home and in particular on the close connexion, even in villages, between poverty and excessive drinking of alcohol. One emigrant, for instance, said that he had not touched beer and was better than if he had had a 'gallon a day'. The vicar's comment was that there was hope that the emigrants had 'shaken off the great enemy of the working man in this country'. (fn. 445)
A coal club, clothing club, and a Great Milton medical club were also organized. The Christmas morning offertory was used to buy beef for distribution to the poor for Christmas dinners. There were also gifts from individuals, such as 524 lb. of beef given in 1869 by M. P. Boulton. (fn. 446) Social and educational activities were encouraged: in 1866 a reading-room was opened in the school and furnished with newspapers, books, draughts, chess, and other games; talks were given; choirs were invited to visit the parish and Milton church choir attended the annual choir-meeting in Oxford. (fn. 447) Low wages, however, persisted: in the 1890's Great Milton labourers still earned some of the lowest agricultural wages in England. 'Butchers' meat was seldom seen' in any labourer's cottage and most old labourers were 'on the parish'. Members of the Ancient Order of Foresters were assisted by the Society's Benevolent Club, and also benefited from the social activities of the Order, carried on at the Foresters' Hall behind the 'Bull'. (fn. 448)
In 1894 Miss Ellen K. Sheppard built in Church Lane an institute for boys. There during her lifetime they received further education after they had left school. After her death, in accordance with her will (proved 1906), the building, with its lawn, was held in trust for the use of boys of the parish between school-leaving age and eighteen. (fn. 449) She also left 'the new institute' with two cottages and a garden for use by the men of the village. (fn. 450) The men's institute was falling out of use before the Second World War and after 1944 was used for a time (fn. 450) as a boys' club. The social life of the parish was further considerably assisted by the Pott benefactions. In 1923 the Revd. A. P. Pott and his wife presented a village hall, called the Neighbour Hall; in 1929 the Revd. A. P. Pott purchased a recreation ground, as the previous one was inadequate and too far removed; and in 1931 he had a pavilion built for the Sports Club. The village hall stands close to the manorhouse, and is controlled by the Parochial Church Council, which appoints a management committee. (fn. 451)
Mills and Fishery.
Domesday Book records two mills in the parish, the bishop's mill worth 15s. and the mill of one of his knights worth 8s. a year. (fn. 452) The bishop's mill was probably in Ascot on a feeder of the Thame, for this water-mill was always associated with the chief lay manor in Great Milton and followed its descent. It is mentioned c. 1200, when Basilea, the wife of Roger de Cundi, granted 3s. from Ascot mill to Oseney Abbey for the term of her life; (fn. 453) in 1279 when John de Clifford held it; and in the time of his successors the De Louches, whose water-mill was described as in Ascot in Milton. In 1322 Richard de Louches farmed it out with 1 virgate for 16s. a year. (fn. 454) In the 15th century when the Camoys and then the Radmylde family owned it, it was often described on the court rolls as being in a ruinous condition and in need of repair. In 1484 William and Margery Stockham, the latter being the widow of the previous tenant, were tenants of the mill, 1 messuage and 1 virgate of land, containing 16 acres, for 24s. a year and services; in 1499 William Rede of Ascot was the tenant and also paid 24s. a year. (fn. 455) The property passed to Sir Reginald Bray and then to the Dormers and was one of the Ascot water-mills listed in their 16th-century deeds. (fn. 456) The other Domesday watermill was on John Forester's estate in 1279 and was held by his successors, the Fiennes, in the 15th century. From them it passed to the Quatremains and Dormers. (fn. 457) In 1463 Ascot court said that the path between the two mills should be repaired. (fn. 458) One of these was on the 17th-century Anderson's farm and was mentioned as 'the corn mill' in 1728. (fn. 459) By the 19th century both were apparently disused; the site of one was marked on the tithe map as 'the old mill seat'. (fn. 460)
In 1279 Richard de Sepewas held a third watermill and a ½-virgate in Great Milton for 13s. a year. This may have been the 15th-century mill 'Shittangs' near Millditch Meadow which belonged to the Radmylde manor. (fn. 461) There was a fourth water-mill, on the prebendary's estate: in 1500 his tenant there was presented for flooding the land. (fn. 462) There is no later reference to either of these mills.
There were two other mills in the Miltons in the 14th century and these were probably windmills. The Inge family had one in the early 14th century and in 1322 a windmill on the De Louches' estate was let out for 3s. 4d. a year. (fn. 463) There were still two windmills in the parish in 1838 and c. 1900. (fn. 464)
Fishing rights in the Thame were attached to the Chilworth manors. In 1274 William of Coombe's widow claimed dower in a fishery extending from her husband's weir to Sir Roger Gernon's weir; (fn. 465) and in 1421 Sir Thomas Camoys, who succeeded to the Coombe estate, had a fishery in Chilworth. (fn. 466) The Gernon estate had half a fishery also in 1279, which presumably descended with the manor. (fn. 467) All the fishing rights must have come by the 16th century to the Hubands, owners of both estates. Thereafter they descended with Chilworth manor. (fn. 468) The Milton estate also had fishing rights, held by Lord Coventry in the 17th century and presumably descending with the manor. (fn. 469) In 1650 fishing royalties of the prebend manor were worth £26 8s. (fn. 470)
Parish Government. (fn. 471)
The surviving parish records are the Chilworth overseers' accounts (1691– 1819), the Great Milton churchwardens' accounts from 1760, vestry minutes from 1822, and a Great Milton overseers' account book (1826–32). (fn. 472)
The records of the Chilworth overseers of the poor give a detailed picture. One overseer was appointed annually, but in fact substantial farmers like the Welleses of Wheatley Bridge Farm and Lower Farm or the Hedges of Chilworth Farm served for many years. Poverty was not a serious problem during most of the 18th century: until 1783 £8 to £15 a year was spent and there were only three or four people a year regularly needing poor relief. The overseers dispensed occasional relief by buying wool to be made into stockings, or by paying for rent and food or medical attention and nursing. From 1785 they rented Moor House as a pest-house, and cases of smallpox were sent to it in 1786. Other payments included the normal ones for resettling paupers in their own parish, for the care of bastards, and for such items as providing militia men for the parish. From 1783 expenditure began to rise, at first to about £40 a year, then to £80 by 1798, to as much as £202 in 1802, and to an average of £150 a year from 1810 to 1819. Both the Speenhamland and roundsman systems were adopted in the parish and large sums were spent on supporting the families of the unemployed and in supplementing wages. (fn. 473)
The problem of unemployment was common to all parts of the parish and in 1822 a select vestry was set up. It met fortnightly at the 'Bell', 'Bull', or 'Red Lion'. Relief that year was given at the rate of 8d. a day for a married man and 3d. for his wife, 6d. for a single man, 2d. for boys, and 3d. for women. (fn. 474) Gravel-digging and lacemaking were also subsidized by the parish to provide employment. There were two overseers for Great Milton township and they spent about £330 a year at this time, chiefly on weekly payments to as many as 30 people; a large proportion of the payment was for children. (fn. 475) By the 1830's the parish as a whole was spending about £1,000 a year on relief, a quarter the amount paid by Thame. The highest amount was spent in Little Milton: in 1835 £573 17s. on relief in the township, and £20 on removing paupers to the parish from which they came. Ascot spent only £68, since it was the most sparsely populated area. (fn. 476)
Vestry meetings were also held to manage the open fields. (fn. 477) This function, however, was removed by the complete inclosure of the parish by the 1840's and many of the vestry's other functions by the transfer of poor relief to Thame Union in 1836. (fn. 478) Poverty continued to remain a problem: in 1854 Chilworth spent £93 on poor relief, Great Milton £241, Little Milton £249, and Ascot £1. (fn. 479)
The church of Great Milton was certainly in existence in 1086 when its priest was recorded, but as Great Milton was part of the endowment of the see of Dorchester there can be little doubt that the history of the church goes back to early Saxon times. (fn. 480) In 1086 the church and manor were in the hands of the Bishop of Lincoln and by 1146 two prebends had been endowed from Milton, one of them, Milton Ecclesia, with the church and the appropriated benefice. (fn. 481) Until 1844, when Little Milton and Ascot were separated from the ecclesiastical parish, this consisted of the tithings of Great Milton, Little Milton, the medieval chapelry of Ascot, and Chilworth. Like other prebends of Lincoln the parish was until the 19th century an ecclesiastical peculiar, for all prebendal parishes were freed by Bishop Chesney (1148–66) from the jurisdiction of bishop and archdeacon. (fn. 482) As in the case of Thame, the prebendary of Milton Ecclesia had archidiaconal jurisdiction and the Dean of Lincoln had the right of visiting every three years. (fn. 483) Although the bishop did not visit (fn. 484) he instituted to the vicarage and the chapter inducted. (fn. 485)
Milton Ecclesia prebend, unlike Thame, was not dissolved at the Reformation, but in the confusion of the period the prebendary evidently lost his jurisdiction, which passed to the dean and chapter. The parish continued as a separate peculiar (fn. 486) and visitations were probably held in Great Milton church by the commissary appointed by the chapter, who was almost certainly the commissary for Thame and the chapter's other Oxfordshire peculiars. This was the case in the early 1670's, (fn. 487) but c. 1675 the vicar and churchwardens began to attend the visitations at Thame. (fn. 488) From this time the peculiar was formally that of Thame and Milton, (fn. 489) although frequently it was called Thame peculiar. (fn. 490)
Since the Reformation sometimes the Bishop of Oxford and sometimes the Bishop of Lincoln has instituted to the vicarage. (fn. 491) This appears to have been largely a matter of chance. For instance, when in 1782 the prebendary was about to present a new vicar, he was told by the secretary of the Bishop of Oxford to send the presentation to Oxford and by the secretary of the Bishop of Lincoln to send it to Lincoln. After finding out what had been done in the past, he sent it to Oxford. (fn. 492)
Soon after 1800 Great Milton, unlike Thame, came under the ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford and in 1802 it began to be visited by the bishop, (fn. 493) but like Thame it remained exempt from the jurisdiction of the archdeacon until the middle of the century. Great Milton wills were proved in the peculiar court until 1857. (fn. 494)
Bishop Alexander of Lincoln (1123–48), who created Milton Manor prebend, was probably also responsible for appropriating Milton church. (fn. 495) The church had been appropriated by 1146, when the endowment in Milton presumably consisted of the advowson of the vicarage, the glebe, and part of the tithes, the bishop's demesne tithes having been granted in 1094 or 1095 to Eynsham Abbey. (fn. 496) The appropriated rectory became part of the prebend of Aylesbury, which until the mid-13th century was held by the deans of Lincoln. (fn. 497) As a consequence, Milton church was described as a chapel of Aylesbury. (fn. 498) About 1260 Eynsham Abbey farmed the demesne tithes for £1 13s. 4d. to the Dean of Lincoln, as long as he should be Prebendary of Aylesbury, arranging that the abbey's servants should continue to collect them into the abbey's barn; (fn. 499) there is no later record of these tithes in the Eynsham cartulary. In 1290 Bishop Sutton created a separate prebend of Milton Ecclesia, endowing it with the appropriated rectory of Milton including, apparently, the demesne tithes. (fn. 500)
The first known presentation to the vicarage was made by the Prebendary of Aylesbury in 1268. (fn. 501) In the 14th century, when the prebend of Milton Ecclesia was for many years held by foreign cardinals, their English representatives usually presented. (fn. 502) In 1361 the bishop collated, probably through lapse, and in 1375 the farmer of the prebend presented. In the 15th and early 16th centuries the prebendaries themselves presented.
After 1601 the presentation to the vicarage went with the farm of the prebend until the late 18th century, when the prebendary again began to present. (fn. 503) In 1840 the advowson was given to the Bishop of Oxford, who has since been patron. (fn. 504)
Among the prebendaries of Milton Ecclesia have been many distinguished men, but they had little connexion with the parish beyond drawing money from it. (fn. 505) The prebend consisted of the great tithes from the parish, the tithes of wool and lambs, and the land belonging to the church. In 1291 the prebend was valued at £40; in 1535 its net value was £33 18s. 6d., and in 1650 it was worth about £250. (fn. 506) In 1844 the prebend's tithes were commuted for £850: £274 from Great Milton, £316 from Little Milton, £108 from Ascot, and £152 from Chilworth. (fn. 507)
The glebe belonging to the church probably formed the basis of the prebendal estate, known in the 19th century as Monks farm or Monkery farm. (fn. 508) It consisted of 120 acres at the time of the tithe award. In 1650, when the estate was surveyed, besides the prebendal house there were two farms of 2 yardlands each, worth £20 each, a small holding of 8 acres, and a cottage. (fn. 509) By 1844 these had been amalgamated into one farm, (fn. 510) which was exchanged at the inclosure award for 137 acres. In 1840 the property, land, and tithes, was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 511)
Little is known of the administration of the prebend before the Reformation, but it was no doubt farmed, (fn. 512) as it continued to be after the Reformation. In 1537 the farmer was Richard Beauforest, who bought Dorchester Abbey at its dissolution. (fn. 513) In 1555 the prebend was leased to New College for 60 years. (fn. 514) At the end of the century the prebendary John Sled (1575–1601), who had been presented by his father John Sled, gent., of Milton, kept the property in his own hands. (fn. 515)
During the 17th century the lease was held by local families who lived in the prebendal house. (fn. 516) Eighteenth-century lessees had fewer connexions with the parish. Early in the century the lease was held by Sir Nathan Wright, who before his death in 1721 sold it to Richard Carter (d. 1755) of Chilton (Bucks.). (fn. 517) It was he who presented Thomas Delafield to the vicarage. (fn. 518) Carter's daughter Martha married Sir Thomas Aubrey, Bt., of Boarstall (d. 1786), and in 1844 the lease was held by trustees named in the will of Sir John Aubrey (d. 1826). (fn. 519) The rent continued at £40 a year, no doubt on the payment of a large fine, and the usual term was for three lives.
The original ordination of the vicarage has not been found, but by the 16th century, and probably before, the vicar had the small tithes of the parish except those of wool and lambs, which belonged to the prebendary, and a large payment in kind from the rectory. (fn. 520) This was still being paid in kind in the 17th century, and consisted among other things of 12 quarters of barley, 5 of wheat, 3 of mixed corn (masley dine) and of beans, and several good loads of hay. (fn. 521) In 1291 the vicar was receiving £6 and in 1526 £9 6s. 8d. in 1535 the vicarage was valued at £15, in 1650 at £60, and in 1808 at £138 10s. (fn. 522) By 1808 the payment from the rectory was being made according to the price of grain and in 1929 it was exchanged for an annual payment of £90. (fn. 523) In 1844 the vicar's tithes were commuted for £185. (fn. 524) In 1842 the living was augmented by about £35 a year, and in 1864 by another £38; in 1867 £800 was given towards a parsonage house; and in 1901 there was another augmentation of £26. (fn. 525)
The first evidence about the residence of clergy at Milton comes from Domesday, where it is recorded that the priest had a share in the 19 tenant ploughs; (fn. 526) the next in 1228 when a toft near the church suitable for a priest's dwelling-house was obtained. As Milton was regarded as a chapel of Aylesbury at this date the house was said to be for the chaplain. By the 1260's Milton had a vicar: in 1268 James de Frestone was presented on the death of the last vicar. (fn. 527) One vicar early in the 14th century became a Franciscan; another died in 1349, probably from the Black Death. (fn. 528) In the 15th century several of the vicars were university graduates, and one at least, John Kendall (1443– c. 1463), was a pluralist, as was the 16th-century Master John Fisher (1531– c. 1554). (fn. 529)
One of the most distinguished vicars of Milton was John Howson (1601–7), later Bishop of Oxford and Durham, and a strong opponent of Puritanism. He was a canon of Christ Church and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford in 1602, but it is nevertheless probable that he was often at Milton. He was married in his church in 1605 and his daughter was baptized there in 1607. (fn. 530) During most of the 17th century the living was held by two resident vicars, Richard Atwood (1608–58) and John Cave (vicar 1661–93). Cave, who was also the farmer of the prebend, was living at Milton in the 1640's. (fn. 531) He may have had Puritan sympathies, for in 1646 he took the place of the dispossessed Rector of Middleton Cheney (Northants.). (fn. 532) In 1661 he became Vicar of Great Milton. (fn. 533) Like others in the parish he had trouble with his churchwardens, and was presented for not paying part of his church-rate and for not providing rushes and straw for the church. (fn. 534) The Dormers of Ascot and several people of Little Milton were also presented for refusal to pay the church-rates. (fn. 535)
For the greater part of the 18th century the parish suffered from absenteeism, but between 1693 and 1723 it was fortunate in having John Hinton as vicar. Born in a Great Haseley cottage, he was considered by Delafield to be a 'polite, well-bred, ingenious man, a good scholar, a pious Christian, and a generous friend'. He started a grammar school for the village. (fn. 536) In his old age he was assisted by an unreliable curate, 'a licentious unassuming person of little learning'. (fn. 537) His successor Thomas Delafield, one of Milton's best-known vicars (1724–6, and 1737–49), was consistently non-resident, even though Richard Cornish (vicar 1726–9) had built a new vicarage. (fn. 538) Delafield's successors throughout the century likewise lived out of the parish.
As Milton was not subject to the bishop's visitations, little is known of the religious life of the parish at this time. Early in the 19th century, during the long incumbency of Thomas Ellis (1800–48), frequent services were held, two on Sundays and five communion services a year. Attendance was good; there were at least 50 communicants and the number increased in the early years of the century. (fn. 539) Ellis's main complaint was about the under-payment of his parish clerk, who received about £2 a year in fees and £2 for minding the clock, with the result that clerks were often unsuitable or illiterate. (fn. 540)
By the mid-19th century congregations of 250 to 300 were reported. Out of 564 adult parishioners, about a third were communicants, a fifth were good attenders, a quarter were 'middling churchmen', and the 20 others dissenters, according to an analysis made by J. H. Ashhurst (1848–56), vicar in Bishop Wilberforce's day. (fn. 541)
Before Ellis's death Little Milton and Ascot, which were separate tithings, were in 1844 separated from the parish of Great Milton, which continued to include Chilworth, and were formed into a district chapelry. (fn. 542) Little Milton and Ascot had each had a medieval chapel. That at Ascot was a private one attached to the manor-house. (fn. 543) Of the chapel of St. James at Little Milton little is known. The light endowed with land in Little Milton may have been either in the chapel or in Great Milton church. (fn. 544) The chapel had certainly gone by the mid-18th century, when the chapel yard was known as 'chappel heys'. (fn. 545) A new district church was built at Little Milton in 1844, and a few years later a vicarage. The patronage of the living, since 1868 a vicarage, belonged to the Vicar of Great Milton for life and then to the Bishop of Oxford. (fn. 546) It was endowed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with £95 a year in 1845 and in 1864 with a further £150 a year. (fn. 547)
As soon as the church was opened, frequent services, two on Sundays and holidays, and daily prayers with a lecture during Lent, were held. The vicar, however, complained that the congregation of about 160 was not large enough for the parish and did not increase. He had to fight indifference and an active Methodist community. (fn. 548)
The parish church of ST. MARY (fn. 549) comprises a chancel, nave, north and south-aisles, south porch with parvise above, and a western tower. (fn. 550) In the main it dates from the 14th century, but there are considerable survivals from earlier periods. The earliest parts of the structure belong to a 12thcentury building, which is likely to have consisted of chancel and nave only. Of this church one deeply splayed window survives in the north wall of the chancel and the outlines of two blocked-up windows can be seen in the spandrels of the north arcade in the nave.
Early in the 13th century the chancel arch was rebuilt and the chancel may have been extended to its present size though this enlargement probably did not take place until the following century. An original lancet window still survives in the south wall. The nave was enlarged by the addition of aisles, perhaps of about half the width of the present aisles. They are divided from the nave by arcades each of three arches. These arcades exhibit certain peculiarities whose significance in the architectural history of the church is not clear. The circular columns are irregularly spaced, and the western arch of the southern arcade lacks the mouldings of its fellows. In addition the mouldings immediately above the capitals of the eastern column of both north and south arcades are interrupted on the sides facing the aisles in a manner which is difficult to explain. Both arcades appear, however, to be more or less contemporary, for, with the exception mentioned above, the mouldings of their arches correspond to those of the chancel arch with one additional member. (fn. 551) It is likely that the richly moulded Early English north doorway, which is certainly not in its original position, was once the 13th-century south door.
It is probable that the 13th-century building was severely damaged by fire, for all the cut stone moved at the time of the restoration of 1850 was found to have Early English moulding on the inside and fresh moulding cut on the reverse side to match the Decorated work of the 14th century. Every Early English stone found had been burnt. (fn. 552)
In the early 14th century the church was largely rebuilt, the material of the old building being reused. The aisles were widened and new windows with 'Decorated' tracery were inserted. The east window and four two-light windows were inserted in the enlarged chancel; (fn. 553) the nave walls were raised and a clerestory of six quatrefoil lights added. A new south door, a vaulted south porch with a carved boss, the room over it, and a staircase turret were built. The buttresses on this side of the church are of the same period; they are ornamented with niches surrounded by crocketed canopies and finials; a parapet with gargoyles runs above. In the south aisle there is a 19th-century copy of the original 14th-century piscina. Perpendicular windows were added in the late 14th or early 15th century, one over the chancel arch and the other at the east end of the clerestory on the south side. Patterned tiles, of which some have been assembled by the present chancel curb, were laid down in the chancel. A corbel in the south aisle with the arms of Camoys (lords of the manor in the reign of Henry V) may give a clue to the date of its roof.
The present tower and tower-arch were built towards the end of the 14th century. The tower is of three stages with deeply projecting angle buttresses. The papal indulgence of 1398 granted to all who visited or gave alms for the conservation of Milton church may have been connected with these additions. (fn. 554)
The roof of the nave was restored or rebuilt in 1592, the date being carved on the easternmost tie-beam over the chancel-arch. The chancel roof also appears to have been renewed in the 16th century. Parker dated it as late as the reigns of Mary or Elizabeth I: it had short king-posts and tie-beams resting on plain chamfered corbels. (fn. 555) There is no record of any work done to the fabric during the 17th century and little for the 18th. The 'inside of the church was much out of repair' in 1714, the 'sentences' were worn out and the 'church defaced', and arrangements were made for repairs. (fn. 556) The date 1735 carved on a beam in the south aisle probably indicates some repairs to the roof executed at that date. The rood screen with turned balusters dividing the nave from the chancel and the box pews, both of which are depicted in a pre-restoration print of the interior of the church, were installed after the Reformation. (fn. 557) At some date in the 18th century the west gallery, which is traditionally said to have been built out of the profits of a Whitsun ale, (fn. 558) was probably erected. It was presumably removed at the restoration.
By 1850 the church was in need of drastic repair. It was restored at a cost of over £2,000 under the direction of Gilbert Scott. G. Wyatt of Oxford was employed as builder. The roofs of nave, aisles, and tower were newly boarded and in parts releaded; the chancel roof was entirely renewed and the east end of the chancel rebuilt. The church was underpinned all round and an open gutter laid. (fn. 559) The rood stairs, the sedilia, piscina, and aumbry were opened up and the piscina in the south aisle was reconstructed. (fn. 560) An aperture was discovered in the north wall of the chancel, containing what is thought to have been an acoustic jar. (fn. 561) The church was repewed in oak, and new choir stalls, copied from those in Dorchester Abbey, were made.
A number of changes have been introduced since the restoration. In 1860 the Dormer monument (see below) was moved from the south aisle and the vestry there was 'taken down' in order that the space made might be used for pews for the children of the parish school. (fn. 562) Both monument and vestry were placed beneath the tower at the west end.
Substantial repairs were undertaken in 1926 at a cost of £600. The roof was thoroughly restored and other repairs to the fabric were effected. The architect was H. Bradfield of Great Milton. (fn. 563) In 1927 the Revd. A. P. Pott paid for the addition of a vestry at the west end of the north aisle. (fn. 564) In 1933 electric light in accordance with the design of the architect H. Grayson of Great Milton was installed. The church had previously been lit by oil and candles.
During 1955–6 repairs to the stonework included a new cross over the east gable to replace the one provided in 1850 as a copy of the medieval cross, and also the repair of the external stonework of some of the windows. (fn. 565)
Some wall paintings were discovered at the restoration of 1850, but were obliterated. (fn. 566) Traces of one remain over the doorway of the south porch. A few small fragments of medieval glass have also survived in three of the windows of the south aisle, and in the east window of the north aisle there are two quatrefoil lights that are said to illustrate the parable of Dives and Lazarus. (fn. 567) Of modern painted glass that in the east window is by T. Willement (inserted in 1850), that at the west end of the south aisle by Castell, and in 1868 glass by O'Connor was inserted in the west window of the north aisle to the memory of A. M. Ellis. In 1915 a memorial window to Margaret A. Sawyer, designed by Heaton, Butler, & Bayne, was placed at the east end of this aisle. Another to Charles Harris Rowles (d. 1947) and his wife Bertha (d. 1954) in the south aisle was made by M. Farrer Bell.
Of the furnishings of the medieval church, the broken pieces of a portable altar of Purbeck marble, found at the restoration of 1850, were incorporated in 1913 in the altar table placed in the Lady chapel in the north aisle; (fn. 568) some 15th-century carved bench ends, now in the choir, were preserved at the same time. One has a representation of two cruets, chalice, and wafer. The Jacobean pulpit was a bequest to the church made by Thomas Parsons (d. 1640); (fn. 569) before the restoration it stood in the angle of the north arcade and the chancel arch. (fn. 570) Another 17th-century addition was the clock by Nicholas Harris, which was installed in the tower in 1699. (fn. 571) In 1860 an organ was ingeniously disposed, part north and part south of the deep respond of the south arcade of the nave; in 1875 a reredos designed by Arthur Blomfield was erected; in 1889 a brass lectern was presented in memory of Alexander and Elizabeth A. Sheppard. (fn. 572) Two brass standards with branching candelabra, now on either side of the altar, were acquired to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. In the next century six brass sconces were placed in the chancel to the memory of Emily Lovell (d. 1918).
In 1940 oak rails designed by H. S. Rogers of Oxford replaced the rails of oak, brass, and iron which had in their turn replaced between 1862 and 1864 the oak rails designed by Gilbert Scott. (fn. 573)
In 1958, owing to the initiative of the vicar, the Revd. E. P. Baker, the royal arms of Elizabeth II were hung over the north door. Panels of the Creed and Lord's Prayer were hung on either side of the east window to replace those removed in the last quarter of the 19th century. The Ten Commandments were painted on the spandrels of the chancel arch to replace those painted there in 1850, which were expunged in about 1932. All this work was done under the direction of E. Clive Rouse and executed by Miss J. T. Lenton.
A key-bugle and an ophicleide, formerly played in the church choir, are preserved with some constables' truncheons in the south aisle. The helm, sword, and orle of Sir Michael Dormer (d. 1624), and two pikes provided for the village's Home Guard in the Second World War are under the tower.
The earliest monuments in the church are the two sepulchral slabs with floriated crosses in relief dating from the 13th century. They were once in the chancel but were removed at the restoration of 1850 to the north aisle. Also in the north aisle are two fragments of a medieval effigy which may derive from the monument of Sir Richard de Louches (d. c. 1320–5) and his wife Elena Wace that was seen by Leland. (fn. 574) The only medieval brasses in the church are to the four children of Robert and Katherine Eggerley. Two of the four figures, three of the four shields (the fourth has been recently lost), and the inscription remain. The elaborate tomb of Sir Michael Dormer was placed in 1618, during his lifetime, at the east end of the south aisle, where traces of the railing which fenced it off can still be seen. The effigies of Sir Michael and Lady Dormer lie on an alabaster base and supported on a higher level between them lies that of Ambrose Dormer, Sir Michael's father. At the east end of the base an alabaster panel displays in relief a scene of Sir Michael Dormer engaged in the Spanish wars. Inscriptions recording the lives of the two Dormers and shields of many quarterings also adorn the base. The monument has been attributed both to Gerard Christmas and to Epiphonius Evesham. (fn. 575) It was restored, cleaned, and repainted in 1956 under the direction of E. Clive Rouse.
There are mural tablets to Elizabeth Wilkinson (d. 1654), wife of Henry Wilkinson, Principal of Magdalen Hall; Joan (d. 1695), wife of Adolphus Meetkerke; John Smith (d. 1699); William Eldridge (d. 1716); Richard Cornish (vicar, d. 1729); the Revd. Francis Astry (d. 1754); John Blackall, gent. (d. 1755); Francis Jemmett, Esq. (d. 1784) and his wife Mary (d. 1782) by John Osborne, Oxford; and Capt. Lancelot Kerby Edwards (d. 1867). The first two tablets mentioned were in the chancel until 1875. Among the many inscriptions on the floor of the church the following may be mentioned; John Yong, Esq. (d. 1642/3); Mr. Thomas Yong (bur. 1692/3); Charles Hawkins (d. 1691/2); Anna, wife of William Loe (d. 1681); John Skynner (d. 1729) and his wife Elizabeth (d. 1769); William Loe (d. 1754); John Reeve (d. 1757); William Pease, vicar (d. 1781); William Skynner (d. 1794); Sir John Skynner, Chief Baron of the Exchequer (d. 1805); Paul Wells (d. 1805); Thomas Ellis. vicar (d. 1848). (fn. 576) There is a board giving details of Couling's charity and commemorating Charles Robey Couling (d. 1911).
In 1552 the commissioners recorded four bells and a sanctus bell. (fn. 577) In 1631 a 'stock' ring of five bells was supplied by Ellis Knight. In 1679 the churchwardens reported that the 'great bell' was broken. In 1684 the bells were again 'in good repair'. (fn. 578) Two were recast in 1673 by Ellis and Henry Knight and three were recast in 1771 by Thomas Rudhall of Gloucester. The present (1958) ring of eight are dated 1673 (two), 1771 (three), 1772, 1848, the eighth being an undated bell of the 17th or 18th century. The sanctus bell is dated 1825. (fn. 579)
The church possesses some old silver: a silver chalice, perhaps the one listed in the inventory of 1552 with paten cover (1568); a silver tankard flagon and pair of alms plates (1764), given by Joan Smith, wife of Anthony Smith of Little Milton. There are also a pewter plate and tankard with marks of John Shorey (c. 1714). (fn. 580)
The church at Little Milton dedicated to ST. JAMES was built in 1843–4 on land given by Walter Long, lord of Great and Little Milton manors. (fn. 581) It is in the Decorated style and comprises a chancel, nave, vestry, western tower, and south porch. It has a barrel-shaped wooden roof. The architect was John Hayward of Exeter and the builder George Wyatt of Oxford. Unlike the design of many later churches that were influenced by the Tractarian movement, the entrance to the pulpit was directly from the vestry and not from the chancel. (fn. 582) The Lord's Prayer and the Commandments are inscribed on stone on either side of the altar. The cost of £1,500 was met by private subscription and a grant from the Incorporated Church Building Society. (fn. 583)
In 1861 a faculty was granted to add an embattled tower with spirelets and a clock. The cost was met from a bequest of £1,200 for this purpose made by Mrs. Catherine Grayson, widow of Anthony Grayson, Principal of St. Edmund Hall. (fn. 584) The architect was again John Hayward. In 1958 after one of the spirelets had fallen down the remaining ones were taken down by Simm & Co. of Oxford, and the parapet was repaired at a cost of £280. (fn. 585)
In 1901 an oak reredos and pulpit, executed by H. Hems of Exeter, were given in memory of Capt. E. P. Wardlaw (killed 1901); a heating apparatus was installed in 1914; in 1947 the bells were rehung and electric lighting was installed. (fn. 586)
In 1854 painted glass was placed in the east window and in two windows in the nave; one of the latter was in memory of Catherine Grayson (d. 1853). In 1869 a third window was installed to Edith M. Sawyer. The west window is in memory of Edward L. Franklin of Ascot (d. 1869). There are two memorial brasses to those who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars.
The medieval piscina, now in the sanctuary, is the one found in 'Chapel Heys', the site of the medieval chapel of St. James that once served Little Milton. (fn. 587)
The church possesses an early Victorian silver chalice with paten and an alms-dish. (fn. 588) There is a ring of six bells, all by Mears and Stainbank and dated 1867, and a sanctus bell of 1832. (fn. 589)
There were few adherents of the old faith in either of the Miltons. Only one Roman Catholic family was recorded in the early 17th century in Little Milton: Ralph Astry and his wife Anne were presented for not receiving communion in 1616; (fn. 590) from 1625 to 1641 Anne Astry was listed as a recusant, and in 1641 she paid the double tax imposed on recusants. (fn. 591) In 1671 there were said to be no 'Popish recusants'. (fn. 592) In the early 18th century, however, a member of a leading Roman Catholic family, Francis Curson, lived in Great Milton until his father's death in 1727. He also had 'papist' servants. (fn. 593) The Simeons of Aston (Staffs.) and Britwell Prior, another prominent Roman Catholic family, who were lords of the manor of Chilworth and Coombe in the 17th century and later, were not resident. In 1700 some local inhabitants maintained that the estate was secretly held for the Dominicans. (fn. 594)
The influence of the Dormer family of Ascot, which had strong Puritan affinities, and of the Doyleys at Chislehampton, a neighbouring parish, encouraged the growth of Protestant dissent. Throughout the 17th century the churchwardens presented many people for failure to attend church and for non-payment of rates. It is not generally made clear whether the offenders were Papist or Protestant, (fn. 595) but the presumption is that they were Protestant, except where there is evidence to the contrary as there is in the case of the Astrys. Among those who appeared in the peculiar court were members of the Dormer family. In 1619 Sir Michael Dormer was presented with three of his servants for non-attendance, (fn. 596) and in 1677 and 1685 William Dormer and John Dormer were successively presented for failing to pay church rates. (fn. 597) Hearne's view of John Dormer was that he was 'a heathenish irreligious man'. (fn. 598) Earlier in the century on leaving Oxford in 1637, John Owen, who later became a noted Independent divine, stayed a short time at Ascot as chaplain to Sir Robert Dormer, (fn. 599) and may well have been active in the surrounding villages. Delafield, the vicar (1724–6, 1737–49) and antiquary of Great Milton, reported a tradition that in the mid-17th century Quakers and Anabaptists and other 'field conventiclers' held meetings under a large elm tree between the two Miltons. (fn. 600)
A number of offenders against church discipline were presented by the churchwardens later in the century. In 1677 Paul Wildgoose of Little Milton, with three others, appeared in the peculiar court for not attending church and in 1679 Wildgoose was again presented. In 1677 three people were presented for not paying church rates. Richard Wiggin, one of them, was in trouble for the same reason in 1685, together with Thomas Anderson and Thomas Coles of Little Milton. In 1708 William Coles of Little Milton failed to pay the Easter offering and in 1714 fifteen people including two of the Wildgoose family were presented for not paying church rates. (fn. 601) In the same year John Brookes (a servant) was indicted at Quarter Sessions for nonconformity. (fn. 602) The presentments do not give the whole picture. It is known, for instance, that Maurice Griffith, the ejected Vicar of East Claydon (Bucks.), was living 'on his temporal estate at Milton' in 1665 (fn. 603) and in 1673 he and his wife endowed a charity at Little Milton (see below), but he appears to have left the parish by the time of his death at Culham in 1676. (fn. 604) The original returns for the Compton Census listed five dissenters. (fn. 605)
As the Miltons were a peculiar the visitation returns of the 18th century provide no information about the nonconformity which is likely to have continued there, but by the early 19th century there is evidence of its existence. In 1808 a minister was reported to have come from Thame to make converts, (fn. 606) and in the same year a house in Little Milton was registered for Protestant worship, (fn. 607) perhaps the house where in 1810 a Baptist minister occasionally preached. (fn. 608) In 1811 another house in Little Milton was registered (fn. 609) and in 1814 a few parishioners were attending a 'Salvationist' preacher there after the church service. (fn. 610) In 1811 a house in Great Milton had also been registered. (fn. 611)
Later in the century Methodism flourished in both the Miltons. In 1831 the first chapel was built in Little Milton. (fn. 612) One of the leading Methodists was Thomas Perkins, a Little Milton grocer from London, and the chapel trustees included another grocer and a labourer of Little Milton, two Great Milton farmers, and tradesmen and labourers from other parishes, including Drayton, Chalgrove, and Watlington. (fn. 613) The chapel had a congregation of about 30 that was taught by a shoemaker and a visiting preacher. (fn. 614) In 1842 the present chapel was built in Great Milton. (fn. 615) According to the census of 1851 each chapel had a congregation of about 40 in the afternoon and 50 in the evening, (fn. 616) but there is some doubt about the accuracy of these figures. In 1854 the incumbents reported that there were 20 professed Wesleyans in Little Milton and the same number in Great Milton. They alleged that since many attended services at both chapels, they had been counted twice in the census; also many who were not dissenters occasionally attended the meeting-house in the evening, and on the day of the census special pains had been taken that there should be a full attendance. (fn. 617) There continued to be a fair number of Methodists in both places, (fn. 618) and in 1890 the present chapel was built in Little Milton (fn. 619) on a new site, and the old chapel was sold. (fn. 620) Both Great and Little Milton chapels still had trustees (largely tradesmen) from several nearby parishes, but the leading local Methodist was probably Charles Surman, a Great Milton farmer. (fn. 621) Both chapels are on the Thame and Watlington circuit.
The first notice of a village school occurs in 1641 when Richard Milles, gentleman, was presented in the archdeacon's court for keeping a school in the parish without a licence; (fn. 622) at the end of the century the vicar John Hinton kept a grammar school, and one of his pupils was Thomas Delafield, later Vicar of Great Milton. (fn. 623) As Milton was a peculiar there are no reports from the vicars in answer to visitation inquiries which might throw light on schooling in the 18th century. Nineteenthcentury evidence shows that a Sunday school was started in 1800; that by 1805 there was a charity school for boys and girls, supported by Mrs. Ryder, the daughter of Sir John Skynner, and that there were a number of other small schools. (fn. 624) In 1808, besides the charity school, attended by 20 children, and the Sunday school with 88 children, there was a school with 10 children, supported by voluntary subscription. 'Great numbers', however, were said to have no means of education. (fn. 625) In 1815 there were five small schools for 80 children, run partly on the National plan, but their pupils left at 7 or 8 years of age to engage in husbandry or lacemaking. (fn. 626) In 1818 there were 70 children in three day schools and it was said that many attended other schools in neighbouring parishes. (fn. 627) The Milton schools were all short lived: two new day schools were opened after 1818 where 21 children were educated at their parents' expense and in 1835 there were said to be six infant schools in the village besides the day and Sunday school under the vicar's control. (fn. 628) There was no adequate accommodation for the church day school: it was held in an Elizabethan house, once the home of the Petty family, which was rented for £15 a year. The vicar, Mr. Ashhurst, considered this an excessive sum and exerted all his energies to obtain a new school. (fn. 629) The National Society helped with funds and in 1854 the National Mixed School was opened with accommodation for 150 children. (fn. 630) It was enlarged in 1860. (fn. 631) The school accounts of 1868 show that it was largely supported by private subscriptions and a government grant although Kent's charity supplied some £21 and rent from the recreation ground another £8 10s.; the greater part of the income went on the stipend of the master, the mistress, and assistant who together were paid some £123. Children paid 2d. a week every Monday morning, and those who were unpunctual or irregular in attendance were not admitted. (fn. 632) The average attendance was 80 in 1871, 93 in 1889, and 71 in 1903. (fn. 633) In 1930 the school was reorganized as a junior school for children up to eleven years; the seniors walked to Great Haseley at first, but were later transferred to Wheatley where they attended in 1956. The Great Milton school, which became controlled in 1952, had 55 pupils in 1943 and 71 in 1954. (fn. 634)
By 1818 there was a separate day school at Little Milton attended by 14 children and a Sunday school with 70 children. (fn. 635) The day school seems to have closed within a few years, but a second Sunday school with 60 children was started in 1827 by the Wesleyan Methodists. (fn. 636) By 1854 three day schools had also been set up: one parochial school with 48 pupils, supported partly by subscription, partly by payments from parents, and two other day schools. Each had 12 scholars who were paid for by their parents. (fn. 637) One of the schools was for infants only. The chief hindrance to educational progress was the early age at which children left school. The vicar described this as 'an evil increasing yearly'. (fn. 638) An evening class, held in winter, for 20 young men was said to be quite successful. (fn. 639) The present school was set up in 1861 with the help of the National Society and replaced the other day schools. (fn. 640) It had an average of 62 children in 1889 and was enlarged to hold 90 in 1893 but there were only 50 children attending in 1903. (fn. 641) The older children were transferred to Great Haseley in 1931 and Little Milton school became a junior school for children up to eleven years. There were 14 children in 1943 and 27 in 1954. (fn. 642)
William Young (d. 1694), a member of a prominent local family, settled in trust £100, the interest on which was to be laid out in clothing. Sir John Doyley of Chislehampton (d. 1746) became, as a trustee, possessed of the capital, and in the wreck of the fortunes of his family the money appears to have been lost. The charity moneys, at all events, were not payable c. 1820 or subsequently. (fn. 643)
John Jony Kent, a Great Milton doctor who died in 1814, left by his will £1,575 stock, the interest of which was to be used for the poor of the parish, a portion of the dividends being retained for the purchase of further stock to be applied to the same charitable purpose. Owing to various legal delays the charity was first distributed in 1819; greatcoats and cloaks for the men and women were provided, and other clothing for the children, and sums of money were given in addition. The Charity Commissioners, when they reported c. 1820, thought that the application of part of the income of the charity to the purchase of further stock for a longer period than 21 years from the testator's death would be irregular. (fn. 644) Whatever course the trustees may have taken in consequence of that opinion, the value of the stock had risen to £2,136 by 1891 and so remained in 1931. (fn. 645) By 1864 it was the practice to pay out of the income an annual contribution of £21 to the village school and other contributions to the village coal and clothing clubs, and also to use the income in direct purchases of clothing. (fn. 646) In 1903 and 1904 the money was distributed in clothing vouchers of varying value to every parishioner, apart from skilled artisans and those 'in higher positions'. Later it appears to have been spent in gifts of coal to those who did not subscribe to the coal club. After that club 'died out' in 1923 it became the rule to use the money to distribute coal to each family, not being 'property owners', at Christmas. (fn. 647) In 1956–7 the distribution mainly took the form of weekly grocery vouchers for the elderly and indigent. (fn. 648) The income was reduced from £64 to £59 in 1890 and further reduced to £53 in 1904; it remained at that figure in 1956–7. In 1931 and in 1956–7 a balance was left in reserve after distribution. (fn. 649)
Charles Robey Couling, of Romeyns Court, by will proved 1912, left £300 free of legacy duty to form 'Couling's charity'. The proceeds, after investment, were to be applied to the purchase of coal or other fuel to be distributed among the most deserving poor parishioners of Great Milton. (fn. 650) The income, £10, was being applied in 1931 and in 1954–6 in the purchase of coal, distributed in 1956 to 33 persons. (fn. 651)
Mrs. Kate Elizabeth Couling, of Romeyns Court, by will proved 1925, left £100 free of legacy duty, the proceeds, after investment, to be applied to the upkeep of her own and her late husband's tombs in Great Milton churchyard, 'as an example of tidiness and attractiveness in the churchyard'. The residuary legatees agreed that the legacy should be applied to the general upkeep of the churchyard, special attention being given to the two graves. The money was invested in £98 stock to which in 1931 £20 was added upon the vicar's instructions. (fn. 652) The annual income appears to have amounted to c. £5 between 1928 and 1931 and to c. £4 in 1953–5. It was paid in the former period to the treasurer of the churchyard fund and in the latter to the churchwardens. (fn. 653)
By deed of 1673 the Revd. Maurice Griffith and his wife Elizabeth gave £10 for the benefit of the poor of Little Milton, 1s. 6d. being given annually to each of the four poorest families and 1s. to each of the six next poorest. By 1786 the sum of £10 with the savings therefrom or from other money given for the poor of Little Milton had accumulated to £24. In 1821 the amount of the dividends, £1 5s., was laid out in bread and distributed to about 20 poor families of Little Milton. (fn. 654) Between 1929 and 1931 the income amounted to 13s. yearly and then and subsequently seems to have been distributed with the Grayson charity (see below). (fn. 655)
Catherine Grayson, widow, of St. Giles' parish, Oxford, by will dated 1853, left £400 stock in trust to be laid out in fuel and clothing to be distributed on or within ten days of Christmas between six poor men and six poor women of good character selected by the incumbent of Little Milton, preferably those aged 60 or above. The legacy was invested in 1861 in £360 stock. (fn. 656) Between 1954 and 1956 the income was £9, and was distributed, with the Griffith charity, in coal and clothing to the six oldest men and six oldest women of the parish of Little Milton. (fn. 657)