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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DRAYTON ST. LEONARD
The ancient parish covered 1,288 acres, (fn. 1) but its area was slightly increased in the 1870's as a consequence of the Divided Parishes Acts (1876–1882), and was given in the Census of 1891 as 1,301 acres. (fn. 2) The increase is to be accounted for by the inclusion in the parish of Woodmead, the riverside pasture opposite the village, where there had been for centuries several small detached parts of the neighbouring parishes of Newington and Warborough as well as of Benson, Berrick Salome, (fn. 3) and Ewelme, which presumably represented early intercommoning arrangements. (fn. 4)
Most of the parish lies in a large bend of the River Thame which forms the parish boundary for about 2 miles and separates Drayton from Warborough. Neither the western boundary with Dorchester nor the northern boundary with Chislehampton is marked by any distinctive features. About 300 acres of Drayton, Holcombe Grange, lie on the opposite side of the river.
Except at Holcombe Grange the underlying Gault Clay is generally covered with gravel (fn. 5) and the parish is remarkably flat, the highest point (244 ft.) being on Primrose Hill south of the river.
Apart from the trees of the village, the riverside, and Holcombe Grange, the only woodland is the copse to the north-west of the village and this is recent: it is not shown on the Tithe Award map of 1841 or the Ordnance Survey map of 1881. (fn. 6) Holcombe Grange is better wooded than the rest of the parish and its timber is mentioned several times in the visitations made by the President and Fellows of Trinity College, Oxford. In 1769 298 elms and ashes were cut leaving 2,290 trees standing. In 1811 the timber was reported to be in bad order and arrange ments were made for the felling of about 900 trees. (fn. 7) In the 14th century 'le Hurst de Draytone' is mentioned and this is probably the same as the meadow to the north-east of the village, which in 1841 was called the Hurst. (fn. 8) This suggests that the meaning here was not 'wood' but 'bank'.
The meadows along the river are liable to flooding and the fields of Drayton are traversed by many small watercourses and ditches the 'scouring' of which, or rather the failure to do so, was one of the main concerns of the manorial court in the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 9)
Two metalled roads lead out of the village, one to Stadhampton across Haywards Bridge, the other west to Dorchester and Burcot. There are also two unmetalled roads, one leading to Chislehampton, the other across the river to Warborough and Newington. (fn. 10) The river was formerly crossed by two fords. The lower of these, by the village, remains unbridged but the other, Haywards, was bridged in 1884 by public subscription. (fn. 11) Before that there seems to have been a footbridge at this ford, certainly in 1841. (fn. 12) There have been at least two other footbridges. The one that remains, just above Lower Grange Farm, is a replacement of the bridge marked at the same place in 1767. (fn. 13) The other, just above the ford, was built after 1897 and was washed away after 1948. (fn. 14)
The village stands on the right bank of the river about 2 miles north-east of Dorchester. Its double name of Drayton St. Leonard first appears in the Post Office Directory of 1847. (fn. 15) Formerly it had been called Drayton by Wallingford. The new name, a natural one to adopt as the church was dedicated to St. Leonard, has been regularly used since 1847.
The village covers a large area for the number of its houses. Apart from the eight council houses built since 1945, (fn. 16) most of Drayton lies between the church and the river. There are a remarkable number of old houses. At least fifteen were built in the 16th or 17th centuries, although in some cases there have been extensive later alternations and additions. The Hearth Tax returns of 1665 list 16 houses with 1 to 7 hearths, 5 of them having 5 hearths or more. (fn. 17) Most of the old cottages are timber-framed buildings with brick filling, and several are still thatched. The oldest seems to be the 16th-century Garden Cottage by the river south-east of Drayton Manor Farm, but its neighbour, Little Garden Cottage, or Back Cottage, is not much more recent. Other cottages that are particularly worth noting are no. 10 Water Lane, the cottage in the lane south of the former Rectory, Ford Cottage, White Cottage with its five small dormers which in 1841 was divided into three, (fn. 18) and a little north of it a cottage with some herringbone brick infilling. Some, like Waterside House Cottage, now called Red Tile Cottage, have old tile roofs. Although timber frame with brick filling is the commonest type of structure for the older cottages there are a few in stone. With the exception of Waterside House and the Old Rectory all the larger houses in the village are, or were formerly, farmhouses. The two farms in the modern village have houses that were greatly extended in the 19th century. But while Drayton Manor Farm is an enlargement of an old but not very distinguished building, Drayton House Farm is an enlargement of a well-proportioned early-18thcentury house of which a chimney stack and a finely panelled room survive. Between these farmhouses is a house, now divided in two, which was formerly called Drayton Farm although it now takes its name, Guys, from a tenant J. H. Guy, who farmed from it in the early part of the 20th century. (fn. 19) It is a timberframed brick building on a rubble base. The White House, also a farmhouse in the mid-19th century, is stone built and consists of a 17th-century block with a wing added in the 18th century. Ford Cottage, a house south of White House which has since disappeared although some of the farm buildings have survived, and Manor Cottage (formerly Nutts) were also farmhouses in 1841. Waterside House was in 1841 a private house and consists of a 16th –-17thcentury house with modern additions. Its south wall is substantially built of stone but the rest of the old house is timber framed with brick filling. It has fine stone fireplaces, probably 17th century, on the ground and first floors. Opposite its main front there is a large yew tree. The Rectory, now a private house called 'Furlongs', was built by the Revd. A. J. Williams in 1862 at a cost of more than £1,200 and was later enlarged. (fn. 20) There are clear traces of an earlier building, shown on the Tithe award Map, but this was not the earlier curate's house, which stood on the road south of the church. (fn. 21)
The oldest and most interesting secular structure in the village is the barn which is alternatively called the Haseley Barn, because it was formerly owned by the Great Haseley Trustees, and the Tithe Barn, although there is no evidence, other than its age, to support such a title. It is a timber-framed, weatherboarded building of six bays with a hipped and tiled roof which is carried down over aisles on all four sides. This barn is certainly no later than the 15th century and may have been built towards the end of the 14th. There are several groups of fine farm buildings, some thatched, the most noteworthy being those of Drayton House Farm, Drayton Manor Farm and the cart-shed opposite the White House.
In Holcombe Grange there are two outlying farms, and there were houses on these sites in 1597. In a survey of that year Lower Grange Farm is called the site or capital house of Holcombe Grange. (fn. 22) The present house is a timber-framed brick building on a base of stone and brick. To the north a very large stone chimney projects and either side of this there are fine windows, including one of eighteen lights under a pent tile overhang. This house, in many ways the most interesting in the parish, also has a very good south porch and a 17th-century staircase. Upper Grange Farm is basically a 17th-century building, and has a 17th-century panelled hall. Until it was recently covered there was a dated stone visible bearing the date 1668.
The topography of the village can first be studied in the Tithe Award Map of 1841, and thereafter with the aid of Ordnance Survey maps and the numerous sale catalogues, it would be possible to trace in detail most of the changes in the layout of the village. Before the 19th century it is not possible to do this. There are occasional mentions of particular houses, for example Mr. Yates's house called Pawlings, mentioned in 1574, (fn. 23) which cannot now be identified. Nor is it possible to identify the fields and lands mentioned in early deeds and surveys, although the Tithe Award map gives many names. Among those which can be traced back are Lower Shilfield Furlong, which is almost certainly the 14th-century under schulfull, (fn. 24) and Waterslade which occurs in this form in the 15th century. The village and its fields were in the 17th and 18th centuries divided into two Ends: the eastern part was Town End, the western was Farm End. In the Tithe Award the riverside meadows above the village are described as Town End Mead and those below the village were called Farm End Mead. (fn. 25) In the early 17th century the 'whole farme end of Drayton' was presented for failure to observe the ancient custom of perambulation (fn. 26) and in 17th- and 18th-century leases lands and houses are often described as being in Town End or Farm End. (fn. 27)
There are two public houses in the village, the 'Catherine Wheel' and the 'Three Pigeons'. In 1841 the only licensed house was the 'Catherine Wheel', (fn. 28) which was then in what is now called Garden Cottage. In 1805 this house was insured as the 'Catherine Wheel'. (fn. 29) Some time after 1841 the licence and name were transferred to what in 1841 was the smithy, and this was probably done by William Townsend who in 1847–8 was both blacksmith and licensee of the 'Catherine Wheel'. (fn. 30) The modern house replaced a group of old cottages of which an illustration survives. (fn. 31)
Drayton was not mentioned by name in Domesday Book but formed part of the Bishop of Lincoln's 90-hide estate of Dorchester. (fn. 32) The bishops subinfeudated part of Drayton, but retained part in demesne. (fn. 33) Throughout the Middle Ages they treated their DRAYTON demesne as part of their Dorchester manor. In 1547 Drayton was surrendered to the crown with other members of this manor (fn. 34) and a crown survey of the manor in 1551 included 31 yardlands in Drayton. (fn. 35) The estate remained part of Dorchester manor under the bishops' successors. (fn. 36) In the 17th century the courts baron of Dorchester manor were attended by Drayton homagers, (fn. 37) and 18th-century surveys of the Dorchester manor of the earls of Abingdon included land in Drayton. (fn. 38) At the end of the 18th century and in the 19th century the Abingdon estate in Drayton was described as Drayton manor. (fn. 39) It followed Dorchester's descent and was purchased in 1876 by Sir John Christopher Willoughby of Baldon. (fn. 40) Drayton manor was sold again in 1916 (fn. 41) but thereafter manorial rights appear to have lapsed.
A second manor in Drayton, the later HOLCOMBE GRANGE, can be traced back to the holding of the Burcot family, (fn. 42) who were tenants of 1 knight's fee held of the Bishop of Lincoln in the 12th and 13th centuries. Nicholas son of Bartholomew (fn. 43) held the fee in 1201. A Nicholas de Burcot, perhaps the same man, held it in 1212 (fn. 44) and either he or a son was tenant and concerned in transactions over Drayton land in the 1220's. (fn. 45) Another Nicholas de Burcot, presumably a descendant, was in possession in 1279, when the fee was described as being in Drayton, Holcombe, and Clifton. (fn. 46) John de Burcot, his son, succeeded, but by 1346 the Abbot of Dorchester was returned as tenant of the fee. (fn. 47)
The abbey had been under-tenant of most of the holding in 1279, when it held 4 virgates in Holcombe and 2 virgates in Drayton for scutage, and was undertenant of the ½-fee with 3 others who were to pay scutage to the abbot when it was demanded. (fn. 48) The abbey still held the estate at the time of the Dissolution, when its property in Holcombe was known as Holcombe Grange manor. (fn. 49) By 1538 the manor had been granted to Sir Thomas Pope who used it to endow his foundation, Trinity College, Oxford. (fn. 50) Most of the estate remained in the possession of Trinity College up to recent times. As lords of Holcombe Grange manor the president and fellows licensed a gamekeeper in 1808, (fn. 51) and in 1826 their lessee, Thomas Gilbert White, was described as lord of the manor. (fn. 52) Later records make no mention of manorial rights. The farms seem always to have been leased by the college. (fn. 53)
The most important estate in Drayton apart from the Abingdon estate was that acquired at the end of the 14th century by Nicholas Drayton (d. by 1402). (fn. 54) It was known in the 15th century as DRAYTON manor. (fn. 55) Nicholas Drayton was either the same as or a close connexion of Nicholas le Naper of Drayton who in 1362 acquired the estate of John Sheepwash in Drayton, Baldon, and Clifton. (fn. 56) The connexion between Nicholas le Naper of Drayton and Nicholas Drayton is supported by the association of both with Sir Hugh Segrave. (fn. 57) Nicholas Drayton's younger son Nicholas succeeded. (fn. 58) He had a daughter Elizabeth who married Peter Idle, a minor civil servant. (fn. 59) In 1442 Peter Idle and Elizabeth were granted all the estates in Drayton that had been possessed by her father Nicholas. (fn. 60) This estate was augmented by grants from Sir Richard Drayton, John Delabere, and others. (fn. 61) In 1473 Peter Idle made a will in which he directed his trustees to grant his property in Drayton to his son William and his heirs with reversions to other children of his. (fn. 62) Peter died shortly afterwards and in 1475 his son William petitioned Chancery that his father's will be complied with and that Drayton manor and property be conveyed to him. (fn. 63) In November 1475 the trustees granted Drayton manor with all lands, &c., in Drayton to William with reversions according to the will. (fn. 64) William's step-mother Anne was provided for in Peter's will by an annuity of 5 marks payable out of the estate at Drayton and Dorchester, and she was also to have the use of the parlour, chapel, chambers, and gardens 'within my place at Drayton' until she left them or married. (fn. 65) She apparently found employment in the household of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as Mistress of the Nursery, and it was perhaps in 1479 that the duke wrote to William Stonor and Humphrey Forster asking them to see that William Idle and Elizabeth his sister paid the annuity due to their stepmother. (fn. 66) Peter Idle had an eldest son Thomas, to whom his book of Instructions was addressed, but neither he nor apparently any of his heirs is mentioned in Peter's will. Nevertheless, Thomas's son Richard claimed, through his grandmother Elizabeth Idle, all the property in Drayton that had once belonged to Elizabeth's father, Nicholas (II) Drayton. (fn. 67) Apparently this claim was successful, for in 1481 William Idle aided in person by the Duke of Suffolk used force to eject Richard's mother Alice. (fn. 68) Alice petitioned the King's Council for redress and a Privy Seal writ was issued to restore Alice and Richard to Drayton manor and to see that William Idle appeared before the Council. (fn. 69) The outcome of this dispute is unknown, but by 1489 the manor seems to have been in the hands of Henry Dene of Drayton. (fn. 70) In 1501 it was conveyed to John Yate of Charney Basset (Berks.), (fn. 71) and remained with his family during the 16th century. This estate was not treated as a separate manor in later records, but as part of Dorchester manor held in free socage. (fn. 72) In 1530 John Yate settled his Drayton estate on his wife Alice and younger son Thomas. (fn. 73) Thomas (d. 1565) was the founder of the Yate family of Lyford (Berks.). (fn. 74) In the mid-16th century he was one of the most substantial tenants in Drayton, paying 60s. 6d. rent for his land held of Dorchester manor; (fn. 75) at his death in 1565 he held 4 yardlands copyhold as well as about 200 acres, 9 yardlands called Drayton Farm, freehold, (fn. 76) which was leased to Richard Pawling of Drayton. (fn. 77) Thomas Yate's son Francis succeeded him and seems to have lived in Drayton. (fn. 78) By 1597, however, Francis's son Thomas had sold the farm to a Robert Doyley of Hambleden (Bucks.) and George Lazenby of Drayton. (fn. 79) They divided the property in 1597. (fn. 80) The Doyley part (4 yardlands) remained in their hands until the Civil Wars when it was mortgaged and then sold about 1646. (fn. 81) The property changed hands several times, but finally, about 1651, it was purchased by the trustees of the Haseley Poor Charity. (fn. 82) They continued to lease it to various tenants (fn. 83) until they sold it after the Second World War.
Economic and Social History.
Drayton's situation was probably determined by the ford which must have been a convenient crossing of the River Thame, especially before the river was bridged at Dorchester. Its name implies something to do with communications and may mean 'the tun where things can be dragged across the river'. (fn. 84) It was originally a subsidiary settlement of Dorchester and in Domesday book was treated as part of the Bishop of Lincoln's Dorchester manor. (fn. 85) Drayton is first mentioned by name in 1146 as a chapelry of Dorchester. (fn. 86)
The main medieval estate in Drayton belonged to the Bishop of Lincoln's Dorchester manor. The first detailed information about it is in a survey made in the second quarter of the 13th century. The bishop's manor then included 23 virgates in Drayton that were held by 18 villeins. Each virgate rendered 5s. 6d. to the bishop in lieu of week-work, the other services owed being the same as those due from the Chislehampton virgaters. (fn. 87) In addition to these services which were general throughout the manor most virgaters at Drayton had to plough an acre of land, this service being called grascherch. (fn. 88) This account may be compared with a mutilated survey of 1279 which shows that the bishop's manor then had 14 villein tenants holding between them 22 virgates. (fn. 89) In the earlier survey 5 villeins held 2 virgates each while in 1279 there were 8 holding 2 virgates each. (fn. 90) The services due from each virgate in 1279 are described, and there seems to have been no great change since the earlier, more detailed, survey. Each virgater had to plough 2 acres of the bishop's demesne and at the critical times of the year, haymaking and harvest, had to work for 2½ days on the bishop's land at his own expense and 2 days with food provided by the bishop. He had also to cart hay and corn as long as necessary and when required had to cart corn to market. No mention is made of a money rent but this must be a mistake: the commuted week-works had not been reimposed. The virgaters were not freemen: they were unable to arrange the marriage of their daughters or sell their beasts without the bishop's consent. (fn. 91) The earlier survey does not mention free tenants, but in 1279 4 tenants, holding 9 virgates between them, claimed that their ancestors had been free sokemen, serving the king in war for 40 days, but that the bishops had withdrawn this service. They owed light boon-dues and ploughed 2 acres if they had a whole plough. They carried the bishop's letters for one day at their own expense and afterwards at the bishop's. They had also to attend Dorchester hundred court. One of them, Walter son of Thomas, held 4 virgates and was evidently a prosperous man with a shepherd and with under-tenants. (fn. 92) A fifth free tenant held a messuage and 1½ virgates for 7s. and suit at the hundred court. (fn. 93) Both surveys mention a cottager who owed 4s. a year for a fishery in the Thame. (fn. 94)
The estate of the bishop's knight Nicholas de Burcot was also described. His 7½ virgates were held by under-tenants. The Abbot of Dorchester was the most important of these, as in the other villages to which the De Burcots' fee extended. (fn. 95) The abbot held Holcombe Grange (4 virgates), and several virgates in Drayton proper. Apart from the abbey the most noteworthy tenants of Nicholas de Burcot's fee were Luke le Naper and Robert Sheepwash, the descendants of whom were prominent among the tenants of the 14th century. (fn. 96) In 1327, when the total assessment of Drayton was £4 0s. 10d., 25 people contributed, ten of whom were assessed at 4s. or more, including John Sheepwash and Nicholas le Naper. (fn. 97) The most conspicuous of the taxpayers of 1327 was, however, John le Wise whose assessment was 15s. He was probably a descendant of that Richard Wise who appears in both the 13th-century surveys as a virgater on the bishop's manor. (fn. 98)
Neither 13th-century survey described the bishop's demesne in Drayton specifically, but it is clear from the services owed that there must have been a demesne and that its routine cultivation must have been by hired labour. (fn. 99) The only known survey of the demesne of this manor was made in 1348, when the bishop's Dorchester manor, treated as a unit throughout the whole hundred, was described. Very few of the furlongs recorded can now be identified, but at least 2 were in Drayton, 14 acres in the Hurst, and 30 acres in Waterslade furlong. (fn. 100)
There is little evidence for the later Middle Ages, but various surveys, made when Drayton passed out of ecclesiastical hands, throw light on 16th-century conditions. In 1536 the abbey's Drayton lands were held by only 2 or 3 tenants, the largest holding being in the hands of Richard Molyneux who paid £3 2s. rent a year. (fn. 101) The abbey held 173 acres in Holcombe in demesne, and these had clearly been inclosed in the Middle Ages for sheep-farming. (fn. 102) In 1536 it was stated that 160 acres there were 'partly grown with thorns and fursens'. (fn. 103) Holcombe Grange was then valued at £7 8s. 8d. a year, but after the Dissolution the king's lessee paid £8 0s. 3d. (fn. 104) In 1597, when it was in the possession of Trinity College, it was divided into Upper and Lower Grange farms and these two farmhouses were the only ones there. (fn. 105)
The bishop's former manor was surveyed in 1551, when it was held by the Crown. There were 11 customary tenants, 9 of whom held 21 virgates. (fn. 106) One of the others, Thomas Spyer, seems to have held little land although his rent, 10s. 10d. was about the sum due for a virgate. The remaining customary tenant was Thomas Yate, the size of whose holding is not given although his rent was 60s. 6d. (fn. 107) The total rental from the customary tenants was £16 5s. 10d. plus a 4d. fine paid by the tenant of 4 virgates for licence to sublet. (fn. 108) Thus the Drayton estate constituted a fair proportion of the total rental of Dorchester manor, which was £76 3s. 10d. plus an increment of 60s. 6d. (fn. 109)
The survey of 1551 listed in detail the timber on the manor: 424 trees on the Drayton estate; (fn. 110) it also described the pasture rights: each of the 31 yardlands was entitled to graze 30 sheep, 2 beasts, and 2 horses. (fn. 111)
The prosperity of the Drayton farmer in the 16th century is indicated by the returns for the subsidies: sixteen taxpayers contributed in 1523. (fn. 112) In 1577 the total contribution was almost as great as that of Dorchester itself and two farmers paid on £13 and £19 worth of goods. (fn. 113) Richard Pawling, one of these, farmed the 13 virgates of the Yates's Drayton farm, much of it still open-field land. (fn. 114) Shortly after 1565 he had complained that the steward of the queen's manor, Leonard Parret, who was also a tenant of the manor, was overcharging the land with sheep and had so tainted the ground that the previous winter he, Pawling, had lost 9 sheep. (fn. 115) Pawling added that Parret as steward was judge in his own cause and 'yet utterly unlearned in the laws of the realm'. (fn. 116)
Several court books of the Dorchester manor in Drayton for the 17th and early 18th centuries have been preserved which reveal a little of the working and customs of the manor. (fn. 117) Separate orders were made for the two ends, Farm and Town, of Drayton, and although most orders were concerning the scouring of watercourses, there are also regulations about the ringing of hogs and pigs, surcharging the common, and making mounds in the fields. In 1691 the staking of horses on Broad Green before Whitsun was prohibited, as was the penning of sheep on the wheat field after 20 October in 1704. In 1693 the digging of gravel at Church End was prohibited. (fn. 118)
The court books also throw a little light on the various freeholds in the manor, no doubt deriving from the estates of Dorchester Abbey and the Yate family. (fn. 119) In 1641, for example, John Wise died seized of 3 messuages of the Norreys manor and two messuages freehold. (fn. 120) The 1665 hearth-tax return shows that John Wise, assessed on 6 hearths, had one of the largest farmhouses in the village. In that year 10 out of 16 householders paid tax on houses with 6 to 7 hearths. (fn. 121)
Evidence in the 18th century for the Drayton estate of Dorchester manor is plentiful. It was then held by tenants of the Earl of Abingdon. (fn. 122) In 1728 the earl had 10 tenants in Drayton, excluding one holding of 2 acres, and between them they held 729 acres. (fn. 123) The largest holding was that of Henry Wise, 8½ yardlands (171 a.), but there were 3 other tenants holding 111 acres, 122 acres, and 98 acres respectively. Of the remainder 3 held 40 acres or more, and 3 held less than 30 acres. (fn. 124) This may be compared with a survey of 1785. (fn. 125) In this the earl's estate in Drayton only measured 559 acres, the reduction of 170 acres since 1728 apparently being due to the loss of the lands held then by Henry Wise, whose descendants certainly held about 130 acres freehold in the 19th century. (fn. 126) In 1785 the earl had 7 tenants in Drayton. The largest holdings were 151 acres and 131 acres. The two smaller holdings of 1728 (10 a. and 29 a.) remained intact, but the others were amalgamated so that the remaining three holdings were between 74 and 84 acres. (fn. 127) The total rental for the earl's land in Drayton was £555, the valuation being 16s. an acre for arable and 35s. an acre for meadow. (fn. 128) In 1728 the surveyor reported that the land was good and that the method of husbandry was two crops to a fallow and that they wanted nothing so much as rest by being laid down to grass for a season. (fn. 129) The meadow land was said to be very good and usually let for 30s. to 40s. an acre. (fn. 130)
Detailed valuation for tithes was made of the whole parish, apart from Holcombe Grange, in 1799 by Richard Davis of Lewknor. (fn. 131) He reported that the parish was rated at 44 yardlands, 24 at Town End, 20 at Farm End, but that the area of each was about equal, the size of the lands being slightly larger at Farm End. The course of husbandry was then 3 crops to a fallow, namely wheat, beans, barley, fallow. The arable of Town End was then divided into four 'seasons', but retained the same names as when formerly divided into three 'seasons', the total measuring 461 field acres. Farm End measured 470 field acres. Davis remarked that the furlongs were short and estimated the area as 620 statute acres. The greater part of Drayton meadow was titheable to Dorchester parish, the other part to Mrs. Ann Ford, but the afterfeed belonged to Drayton parish. He measured it as totalling 30 field acres (25 statute) of which 24 were in Town End Mead. Stint of common was then 1½ cows and 30 sheep to each yardland but less than half that quantity were then kept. The Cow Commons were let at Town End for 15s. each, and at Farm End for 10s. each. The sheep were chiefly wether flocks. The tenant of the tithes provided two bulls for the use of the parish, one for each end. The old inclosures contained about 36 acres of which 16 were arable. His valuation was based on the following crop acreages: wheat 155, beans 155, barley 100, oats 55, clover in fallow field 40, and open-field meadow 25 acres. An average of 120 lambs was bred, 200 sheep sheared, and 30 cows kept. (fn. 132) A survey of tithes made in 1812 estimated the common field as 744 acres and recorded that the holdings of the four main tenants ranged in size from 100 to 216 acres. (fn. 133) By this time Holcombe Grange was divided into two farms according to a survey made in 1768, although in 1750 the estate had been divided into three farms. (fn. 134) A map and survey of 1767 shows that Upper Grange farm was 189 acres, Lower Grange farm 96 acres. (fn. 135) Almost the whole was meadow and pasture; only 12 acres of Upper Grange farm in 1768 were tillage, although 50 years previously there had been more. (fn. 136) The stock in 1768 on both farms consisted entirely of fatting sheep and milch cows for butter. (fn. 137) In 1811 43 cows were milked on the two farms; the butter made was sent to Wallingford market. (fn. 138) Generally the Grange seems to have been leased: in 1680 to Mary Spyer, widow; in 1700 to Richard Jones, lessee for over 40 years; and in 1777 to George White of Newington. A Mr. White was still lessee in 1816 and 1826. (fn. 139)
Drayton continued to be farmed by five or six farmers during the first part of the 19th century. In 1785 there were 21 land proprietors and 20 occupiers and owner-occupiers in the parish. (fn. 140) The two largest farms, one of them Holcombe Upper Grange farm, were each assessed for about a quarter of the total tax. Six other farms had more moderate assessments of between £4 and £11. Other inhabitants owned or occupied premises assessed at under £1. (fn. 141) By 1816 several farmers had taken over other property and most of the land was in the hands of six farmers. (fn. 142) By 1832 there were four chief farmers. (fn. 143) In 1841 they had farms of 360 acres (i.e. Upper Grange farm), 221 acres, 219 acres, and 217 acres. (fn. 144) By 1851 there were only three farmers of consequence: Henry Betteridge farmed 350 acres and employed 31 labourers, Abraham Dean farmed 250 acres with 19 labourers, and John Smith of Holcombe Grange farmed 600 acres with 35 labourers. (fn. 145) The main landowners over this period were the Earl of Abingdon and Trinity College. (fn. 146) In 1844 the Drayton estate of the Earl of Abingdon comprised some 541 acres. (fn. 147) Over half was held on grants for lives or leases and brought in only £4 14s. 8d. a year; the rest was held on a yearly basis, at rents amounting to £356 18s. Much improvement was anticipated from inclosure. (fn. 148)
The Haseley Trust and the Betteridge and Wise families owned smaller areas of 60 to 120 acres in Drayton. (fn. 149) Shortly after inclosure in 1861 Henry Betteridge purchased the Wise estate thus bringing to an end their long history as landholders in Drayton. (fn. 150) It also marked a significant stage in the growth of one of the main estates in 19th-century Drayton. In 1875, when the Abingdon Estate was finally offered for sale, Henry Betteridge farmed 260 acres as tenant (fn. 151) as well as having extensive freehold which when offered for sale in 1901 totalled 372 acres. (fn. 152)
The parish to the north of the river remained open-field land up to the second half of the 19th century. At the time of the tithe award in 1841 two-thirds (825 a.) of the parish was arable and just under a third, much of it incorporated in Upper and Lower Grange farms, was meadow and pasture. (fn. 153) There were 7 acres of orchards and ozier beds and 37 acres of common. There were then seven fields; (fn. 154) one of which, East Field, had been mentioned in the 17th century, (fn. 155) while West Field was the old Town End division. The meadow land along the Thame was divided into lots; Woodford Mead, as it was called, was shared by the neighbouring parishes of Ewelme, Benson, and Berrick, and Dorchester had lots farther east. (fn. 156) The common was distributed throughout the parish, but in 1841 it was said to be privately owned by the Earl of Abingdon. (fn. 157)
In 1861 the whole parish was finally inclosed. As lord of the manor the Earl of Abingdon received just under 1½ acres, equivalent to 1/16 of the waste. He also received the largest allotment of about 578 acres. Three allottees received between 80 and 120 acres; the six others received only one or two acres. (fn. 158)
No precise information about Drayton's population is available before the 19th century. In 1676 an adult population of 128 was recorded by the Compton Census; in 1811 and 1851 there were 287 and 327 persons. After 1861 the population underwent the decline usually found in Oxfordshire parishes, and by 1901 there were 241 inhabitants. (fn. 159) This trend continued in the early 20th century, but by 1951 numbers had risen from the 219 recorded in 1931 (fn. 160), to 314 persons. (fn. 161)
No parish records have survived apart from some churchwardens' accounts for 1641–81. (fn. 162) The only information that has been found about parish government concerns expenditure on the poor. The poor rate trebled over the years 1776 to 1803, rising from £70 to £220, but the rate in 1803 was still slightly below the county average of 4s. 8d. (fn. 163) In 1803 there were 12 adults and 18 children who were permanently maintained by the rates; 23 persons re ceived occasional relief. (fn. 164) By 1835 expenditure on the poor had reached £342. (fn. 165)
Drayton's main business is and always has been agriculture, the cultivation of the plain it shares with Dorchester. In 1914 over 24 per cent. of the crops were wheat and 21 per cent. barley. (fn. 166) The soil was said to be easily worked but incapable of withstanding drought. (fn. 167) Sheep were a good counter-balance to this type of soil, and there were 60 sheep and over per 100 acres in 1909 and over 40 sheep per 100 acres in 1914. (fn. 168) Permanent pasture over the whole parish was under 30 per cent. (fn. 169) Most of it was in Holcombe: in 1931 253 acres of Upper Grange farm were pasture. (fn. 170) In 1959 this farm (275 a.) was still mostly laid down to pasture. (fn. 171) Drayton north of the river was farmed in two units: one consisting of the Henry Betteridge estate together with the Haseley Trust land was a large-scale market garden, farmed from Drayton House farm, the other, Drayton Manor farm, was part of a larger farm, 1,200 acres, belonging to Mr. S. J. Farrant, and was reminiscent of the medieval history of the parish in that it stretched well beyond the bounds of Drayton parish into Burcot and Dorchester, and mainly concentrated on arable farming. (fn. 172)
Drayton church is first mentioned in 1146 as a chapel in a list of the possessions of Dorchester Abbey. (fn. 173) It was probably one of the chapels appropriated to the abbey which in 1445 were served by its canons, and this is likely to have been the normal arrangement. (fn. 174) The chapelry was in Dorchester peculiar. (fn. 175)
After the Dissolution the rectory and 'advowson' of Drayton were granted to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, (fn. 176) and they still hold the gift of the living, which was a perpetual curacy until 1870, when the tithes were made over to the incumbent. In the late 16th century the curate of Drayton seems generally also to have served Clifton Hampden (fn. 177) and since 1950 Drayton has been held in plurality with Stadhampton and Chislehampton.
In 1526 the curate's annual stipend, paid by Dorchester Abbey, was £5 6s. 8d. (fn. 178) and in 1826 this remained the certain annual sum paid by the dean and chapter to the curate. (fn. 179) In the early 18th century this payment seems to have been made up to £16 a year (fn. 180) and later to £20. By 1778 the dean and chapter also paid the curate a further £10 a year under the terms of Dr. South's will. (fn. 181) The living was augmented by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty in 1747 and 1758 by £200 (fn. 182) so that, in 1778 the curate's annual income was £47, (fn. 183) including fees which amounted then as in 1826 to about £1. (fn. 184) In 1801 an estate of 23 acres at Tetsworth was purchased for £900. (fn. 185) It yielded varying sums, £29 in 1803, £40 in 1804, £26 in 1831, until in 1876 it was exchanged for £64 16s. rectorial tithes. (fn. 186) In 1826 the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty further augmented the living by a grant of £600 which, together with £200 given by the dean and chapter and a similar sum given by the curate himself, yielded an annual income that raised the value of the living in 1831 to just under £90. (fn. 187) In 1865 there was a further augmentation obtained 'not without difficulty'. (fn. 188)
In 1535 Drayton chapel was valued at £11 a year (fn. 189) and this remained the valuation of the parsonage until at least the beginning of the 18th century. In the 17th century the lessee of the tithes paid £7 6s. 8d. of this in cash, the remainder in kind and although the annual cash payment increased at times in the 19th century to as much as £50 the terms of the render in kind remained unchanged. (fn. 190) Apart from this payment the lessee of the parsonage after 1631 also paid the curate's stipend. This may have been the case earlier and certainly in 1553 he was required to provide bread, wine, and wax for the celebrant and to find 'sufficient and honest mansmeate and horsemeate to every preacher coming thither'. The rectory consisted of tithes great and small from the parish north of the river, and an annual rent of 10s. This rent can be traced back to 1552, when the dean and chapter had a dispute with Edmund Ashfield over the first crop from 7½ acres of the lotte meades which they claimed should belong to Drayton rectory. It was agreed that Ashfield should have the crop but should pay the dean and chapter 10s. a year or two loads of hay. (fn. 191) Thus in 1553 and in 1855 the rectory included this annual payment. In 1799 the rectory was valued at £285 2s. 4d. (fn. 192) and the valuations of 1824 and 1834 were almost the same. (fn. 193) In 1840 it was £340. (fn. 194)
In 1552 the rectory was leased to Richard Pawling and it remained in the Pawling family until the early 18th century. (fn. 195) At the end of the 18th century it was held by Edward Tawney and in 1820 by Richard Tawney of Willoughby (Warw.). In 1840 the tithes were commuted and apportionment was altered after the inclosure award of 1861. From the 16th century the tithes of Holcombe Grange were held by the freeholders, Trinity College, Oxford.
Until the 19th century curates seem generally to have been non-resident, although it is probable that John Dunt who was curate from 1625 to 1675 lived in the minister's cottage mentioned in 1641. (fn. 196) This cottage may have been the same as the 'parson house, next the churchyard', mentioned in 1778 as having been in the possession of the parish officers who put the poor in it. (fn. 197) During the 18th century the church was served for two or three years at a time by students of Christ Church who travelled out on Sundays and therefore had no need of a residence. The most famous of these was Phineas Pett, curate from 1787–90. In 1784 the dean and chapter bought a small cottage for the curate's use on Sundays. (fn. 198) In 1814 the curate again resided, and this cottage was enlarged in 1830 in a makeshift manner at a cost of £325. (fn. 199) In 1858 A. J. Williams, the curate in whose incumbency the extensive restoration of the church was carried out, appealed to the dean and chapter for funds to build a new parsonage house on an acre of land given by the Earl of Abingdon. (fn. 200) This house was built in 1862 at a cost of over £1,200 and was enlarged in 1872. (fn. 201) As the church has been held in plurality with Stadhampton since 1950 the Rectory has been sold.
In 1778 the curate reported to the dean and chapter that the churchyard was let for 30s. a year which was claimed by the churchwardens for the repair of the church. (fn. 202) According to him no one had been buried in the churchyard until about 40 years previously: parishioners were buried in Dorchester. This may not be strictly true because there are some grave-stones in the churchyard dated before 1738, but it is not unlikely that at an earlier time Drayton had no burial ground of its own. The same curate also reported that some land had been let for the repair of the church and this was probably the 2 acres held by the churchwardens in 1841. In the early 17th century there seems to have been an old custom of perambulation or procession about which we know because of failures to observe it. (fn. 203)
The church, dedicated to ST. LEONARD, (fn. 204) is a small stone building, comprising a chancel, nave, and north chapel, with a wooden south porch and a wooden belfry standing at the west end of the nave. The now partly roughcast roof is covered with tiles and the upper walls of the belfry with wooden shingles.
The earliest part of the church is the nave with several 12th-century features, including the doorways in the north and south walls and the traces at the eastern end of the nave in both the north and south walls of windows that have been blocked. In the 13th century the west and north-west windows of the nave were made and the small side chapel added at the north-east end. The chapel has a fine, plain, round Early English pier and two unequal openings in the nave wall. A slightly pointed arch leads to the chancel which seems, judging from the position of the windows, originally to have been lower than the nave, a feature destroyed in the 19thcentury restoration. (fn. 205)
The tower is a fine timber structure probably earlier than the 16th century: the church certainly had three bells in 1552. (fn. 206) The belfry is separated from the nave by 18th-century oak panelling.
In the 16th century the south-west window of the chancel and the south-east window of the nave were altered to admit more light. In 1629 the church and tower were reported to be out of repair and subsequently a certain Simon Broadwater was repeatedly presented for not having carried out repairs. (fn. 207) Towards the end of that century the condition of the fabric seems to have been fairly good, (fn. 208) but in 1721 the roof and windows were 'a little out of repair', (fn. 209) and although there are no detailed descriptions of or reports on the condition of the church during the 18th century, it seems likely that the succession of non-resident curates paid insufficient attention to it. In 1817 the chancel was reported to be out of repair, in 1823 the roof, in 1828 two of the three bells were cracked (fn. 210) and by 1859 the whole of the church was in very bad condition. (fn. 211) The windows of the chancel had had their tracery removed to simplify glazing, the roof was in a bad state and the plaster ceiling was ready to fall. As a result of a report made in that year by Edward Bruton the restoration was undertaken in 1859 by G. E. Street and was completed at a cost of £600. (fn. 212) The chancel was partially rebuilt. Its 'common brick floor' was raised. The plaster ceiling was removed and the present high-pitched roof made in place of the old roof, the line of which can still be seen over the chancel arch. The extra weight of this roof and the increased height of the east wall made the angle buttresses at the east end necessary. The tracery of the east window was inserted from new designs, only the mullions being original, and the south-west window was completely renewed. In the nave the ceiling and a western gallery were removed.
This restoration destroyed many features of interest. Apart from those already mentioned, the eastern gable of the nave apparently had a sanctus bell turret on which was a sundial, and the roof of the chancel had an overhanging barge at the east end. (fn. 213) A high wooden pulpit was replaced by a stone one which was itself replaced in 1898 by the present brightly coloured wooden one, designed by the Wareham Guild. (fn. 214) The seating was completely altered; the new seating was said to be modelled on an old seat still existing in the church. It was intended that the restoration should have been even more drastic, for it was proposed to replace the wooden bell tower with a stone structure thus providing more seating space. Fortunately nothing came of this proposal although it was revived later.
Alterations were, however, made to the tower in 1884 when Bruton reported that it was in need of repair. (fn. 215) It was strengthened, its walls were covered with shingles, and a clock was inserted. (fn. 216)
In 1930 the chancel floor, raised in 1859 so that there were two steps from the nave into the chancel, was lowered by volunteer labour to its present position of one step at the chancel arch and a second at the altar. At the same time the altar which had been placed against the east wall in 1859 was moved forward into the chancel; the chancel rails were also moved and the choir stalls were rearranged; (fn. 217) the sacristy was built in 1932 also by volunteer labour and in accordance with the plans of Mr. Geoffrey Webb. (fn. 218)
Electric light was installed in about 1934. (fn. 219)
The only medieval glass is in the north chancel window, which is a restoration of a window believed to represent St. Leonard. It has been stated that this window was only discovered in the restoration, but the glass was certainly known in 1846. There is now no trace of the arms mentioned by Lee in 1574. (fn. 220) Windows designed by Bucknall and Comper were placed in the east window and in the south-east window of the nave in 1894. (fn. 221)
There are memorial tablets to Abraham Deane (d. 1809), William Deane (d. 1846), J. H. R. Mate (d. 1928), H. S. Milford (d. 1952), and to Aston Swindale, M.D. (d. 1952). On the exterior of the south wall of the church there are four 19th-century memorials to members of the Deane and Jackson families.
Apart from the former sundial on the east gable of the nave there are five scratch dials on the south-east wall of the nave and one on the left of the south door which must antedate the porch.
There were three bells in 1552. (fn. 222) They were recast in 1884 and another three added. The oldest bell is the former tenor of c. 1470 and inscribed Sancta Katerina ora pro nobis. The predecessors of the two other bells were dated 1603 and 1635. (fn. 223)
The Elizabethan chalice and paten cover are dated 1575. There is also a large silver paten (hall-marked 1694) and a pewter flagon. (fn. 224) At the Reformation the church possessed two chalices with patens 'parcell gylte', two corporal cases, two candlesticks, and a number of vestments and altar clothes. (fn. 225)
The registers begin in 1568 and there is a Churchwardens' account book for 1641–81. (fn. 226)
There is no certain record of Roman Catholicism. (fn. 227)
After the restoration there was a group of under ten nonconformists in the parish. From 1663 until 1686 there was a steady stream of presentments for non-attendance at church, (fn. 228) and six nonconformists were recorded in 1676 in the Compton Census. (fn. 229) Their leader was evidently William Lovegrove, tobacco merchant. He was presented in 1678 for holding a conventicle at his house once every month, and although in 1680 he denied this he was again presented in 1681 for the same offence. (fn. 230)
In 1808 the incumbent reported that there were in Drayton 'a few Methodists visited once a fortnight by a teacher from Oxford at the house of a small farmer in the village', and by 1816 Drayton was on the Oxford Methodist circuit. (fn. 231) In 1834 there were said to be only two families of dissenters. (fn. 232) By 1851 there was a Methodist chapel, said to have been built in 1814; (fn. 233) although it only had about twelve members, almost the whole of the 'labouring population' went to some evening services there. (fn. 234) In 1879 the present (1958) Methodist chapel was built on land that had belonged to a Drayton grocer and baker. He was one of the four local trustees, the others being labourers. (fn. 235) In 1906 the chapel, which is on the Thame and Watlington circuit, was registered for marriages. (fn. 236)
The first record of any school in Drayton is in 1808, when there was a dame school with 6 children and a day school where 25 children were taught reading, the Testament, the Catechism and sewing. (fn. 237) In 1810 two Sunday schools were started with 21 boys and 16 girls and five years later 29 children were being educated in three day schools. (fn. 238) Nevertheless, in 1818 it was reported that there were no schools in Drayton although the poorer classes were 'desirous of the means of education'. (fn. 239)
By 1833 the Wesleyans had a Sunday school with 46 children, held in their chapel. There was also a day school with 20 boys and girls, which was supported by their parents. (fn. 240) The Vicar and other voluntary subscribers were supporting this school in 1854 when there were 35 pupils. (fn. 241)
The National School was built next to the Rectory in 1855. (fn. 242) The Poor Law Guardians gave the land and premises to Drayton's minister, churchwardens and overseers in 1858 in trust for the education of 'the labouring, manufacturing and other poorer classes in Drayton'. (fn. 243) The school had an average attendance of about 40 children until 1906. (fn. 244) In 1925 it became a junior school for children under the age of 11 and the seniors bicycled to Dorchester. There was an attendance of 28 in 1943, but in 1947 the school was closed and the juniors have since gone to school at Benson and the seniors to Dorchester. (fn. 245)
Mary Spyer by will, in 1697, left a rent charge of £5 on her estate in Huntercombe for the apprenticing of a boy or girl from this parish. The Charity Commissioners in about 1823 reported that for the last 16 or 17 years no application had been made for benefit from this charity, though the owners of the estate did not deny liability to pay the money. (fn. 246) The charity was later lost. (fn. 247)