A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 8, Lewknor and Pyrton Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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The parish lies in the south-west of the hundred which bears its name. Like other parishes that run up into the Chilterns, Lewknor forms a long narrow strip, 2 miles broad at its widest and 5 miles in length from north-west to south-east. In 1959 it contained two divisions or townships, covering 2,692 acres and named respectively Lewknor and Postcombe. (fn. 1) The second of these was a hamlet called 'Postelcumbe' in 1279. (fn. 2) Up in the Chilterns some 2,000 acres once formed three detached portions of Lewknor parish and together constituted the division of Lewknor Uphill, but in 1844 they were relinquished to Buckinghamshire. (fn. 3) They now belong to other parishes: Studdridge, with a portion of Wormsley, has been joined to Stokenchurch; Cadmore End was made in 1852 into a separate parish; and Moor End or Ackhampstead, which was once an outlying chapelry, was added in 1885 to Great Marlow. (fn. 4)
The ancient Lewknor parish was quite 10 miles long and was said to be at least 40 miles in circumference. In 1733 the vicar, Thomas Skeeler, reported to the lord of the manor that after 'much persuasion and a sermon' he had prevailed at last upon the parishioners to make the perambulation of the circuit of the parish 'nowadays called possessioning. . . . It is betwixt 40 and 50 years since we have had anything of this kind.' (fn. 5)
The geology of the parish is varied. The most productive part lies below the 500-foot contour line, at the foot of the Chiltern hills, for here the chalk subsoil is covered by a rich fine loam, productive of good crops, though a vicar wrote in 1707 that a great deal of the land under the hills was not worth the ploughing in dry years. (fn. 6) Part of the land is on the flintcovered chalk hills from which Lewknor has derived its name, 'Leofecanora' or Leofeca's slope, for that was the form of the name about the year 990. (fn. 7) The highest point (837 ft.) is on the summit of Beacon Hill (a name that perpetuates the memory of Elizabethan watch and ward), (fn. 8) and the land then drops down again for some 250 feet through beechwoods towards Stokenchurch.
At least two pre-Roman roads cross the parish from north-east to south-west. The Chiltern ridgeway keeps to the top of the ridge and is still in use in this part of its course. (fn. 9) The Icknield Way runs along the foot of the steep escarpment, keeping approximately to the 500-foot contour, and formed, in early times, an alternative to the ridgeway for use in summer. Roads that connect Lewknor with Aston Rowant and Chinnor to the north-east, and with Shirburn and Watlington to the south-west, keep close to the 400-foot contour and in medieval times were known respectively as Aston Way and Watlington Way. (fn. 10) Beyond them to the north-west a road leads from the present London and Oxford road to Moor Court Farm and once continued beyond it towards Shirburn. It is now called Nethercote Lane and was earlier known as the Lower Icknield Way, and earlier still and more correctly as Hackman Way. (fn. 11)
Other roads run from north-west to south-east. Those from Oxford and from Thame converge at the hamlet of Postcombe to form the London road. North of Postcombe the road from Oxford forms part of the west boundary of Lewknor, dividing it from Adwell. After crossing Nethercote Lane and until it gets to the Icknield Way, the Oxford-London road constitutes the north-eastern boundary of the parish. Upon reaching the Chiltern slope at the foot of Stokenchurch hill, the boundary falls a stone's throw behind the present roadway and, continuing uphill along a cutting, appears to perpetuate the original line of ascent. About ¾-mile to the west of the London main road, a lesser road, once named Weston Woodway, comes in from South Weston near the moated farmhouse of Moor Court and reaches Lewknor at the west end of the village. Beyond that point it continues, as Sheepcote Lane, to the Icknield Way, where it falls into a hollow way, called Clay Lane, which leads up the slope, past some old chalk workings, to the ridgeway. (fn. 12) Midway between them and the Icknield Way runs the Watlington branch of the former G.W.R. line built in 1872. (fn. 13)
About ½-mile below the Icknield Way where the Chalk begins to give way to the Greensand lies Lewknor village. A spring of water fills a quarrylike depression known in 1716 as the Town-pond (fn. 14) and now a water-cress bed; and hence a stream flows through Lewknor green to South Weston, eventually joining the River Thame. To the east of the pond stands the church, and at one time a vicar's house stood on the south side. The 'old Vicarage', now divided into two houses, is on the opposite side of the road and was formerly the parsonage or rector's manse. Cottages line four cross-roads, and somewhere in the centre of the village was the common pound. There is no sign or record of a village cross; but the neighbouring hamlet of Postcombe had both pound and an ancient cross known in 1348 as Postelcombe crouch. (fn. 15)
Fifteenth-century leases and bills for repairs show that the parsonage, which must then have been the principal building in the village after the manorhouse, had a hall of medieval pattern with a louvre for its central hearth. The kitchen was a separate building, and within it was a well. Adjoining it were the various buildings of the steading: the great barn which was the rector's tithe-barn, a smaller barn or hay-house, a stable, sheep-house and hog-stye; likewise a brew-house, malt-house, and kiln. Their roofs were thatched; they stood on base courses of Headington stone; and their walls were wattle and daub. A lease of 1507 (fn. 16) provides that the tenant shall repair 'all mudde and dawbyd wallys home hye', meaning as high as cattle could reach with their horns. No part of the present building is earlier than the 17th century. The older part was built of flint and brick, the later part of brick only. It was described in a terrier of 1736 as a good mansion-house with a brew-house, and court adjoining to it; a large yard with a pigeon-house standing in it; two large barns with a stable cow-house and cart-house, two little gardens, two orchards, and two acres of arable enclosed, adjoining to the upper orchard'. (fn. 17) A story was added to the front part of the building in the 19th century.
The manor-house, which the Rolles family made their residence during the 17th century and called 'The Place', (fn. 18) lay about a ¼-mile from the village, off the Weston road. Longdon's map of 1598 shows it as a quadrangle. (fn. 19) In 1852 it was still possible to speak of it as an ancient building though now a farmhouse, (fn. 20) but the present house has been partly rebuilt. In 1665, however, 'The Place' and a mansion called the Upper House (which Mr. Edward Hewish had lately bought from Thomas Rolles) were the two largest houses in Lewknor, each having nine hearths: no other house in the village had more than five; most had only one or two. (fn. 21) A lease of 1684 describes the manor-house with its hall and parlour, the best chamber and dining-room over them, and the room called the closet. It was a fair-sized place, with its court to the south of it, its trees and fishponds, its stables and gardens (including a hop garden), and the adjoining 16 acres of inclosure known as 'The Place Closes'. (fn. 22)
Nearby Moor Court survives as a farmhouse, H-shaped in plan, standing within a medieval moat. Two storied with a tiled roof, it was rebuilt in the 18th century of chequer brick with flint dressings. At one end of the house are the remains of a Tudor chimney-stack, and some timber-framing. Nineteenth-century casements have replaced earlier windows.
Nothing now remains of Nethercote House, in which the owners of Nethercote lived throughout the 18th century, but it is known that, like the neighbouring farm of Moor Court, it was surrounded by a moat. It, too, had its courtyard, a pigeon-house, outhouses, stables, gardens, orchards, and fishpond. The house seems to have been rebuilt by Heritage Lenten about 1740–50. (fn. 23) In 1780 it consisted of a hall, drawing-room, breakfast-parlour, as well as bedchambers and offices. (fn. 24) Richard Paul Jodrell from this time made it his country house, laying out the grounds around the house, and pulling down the village school-house because it was 'an impediment to the beauty and prospect of his mansion house'. (fn. 25) When he died in 1831, the place was advertised as standing in the centre of a walled-in lawn of 50 acres. Lewknor ceased from that time to have a resident squire; Nethercote House was let to a farmer; and in 1871 a disastrous fire burnt it to the ground. (fn. 26) Its foundations may be seen in a dry summer.
The Vicarage, in which the vicar or his curate resided down to the 18th century, presented a contrast to these gentlemen's houses. A terrier of 1685 (fn. 27) describes it as 'an ancient dwelling house, built almost in the form of a Roman H, only a story and half high'. With its stable, small outhouse, two courts, garden, well-yard, and rick-yard, it probably did not differ greatly in appearance from the yeomen's houses which, with a few farmsteads (of which the lord of the manor's Town Farm and the rector's Church Farm were the chief), some cottages, a smithy, and the inn called the 'Leather Bottle', at that time made up the village of Lewknor. The 'Leather Bottle' has been added to and modernized, but remains substantially a 16th- to 17th-century timber-framed house with brick filling.
Postcombe, too, had its inn, the 'Feathers', so called at least from 1734; it was a smaller place than Lewknor, having but 10 houses listed for the hearth tax of 1662 when Lewknor had 43 (fn. 28) (more specifically described a century later as 7 farmhouses and 38 cottages), (fn. 29) and some of these were in Adwell parish. But it was growing during the 17th century and two of its brick-built farmhouses, Adwell and Poplar Farms, belong in part to that period. By 1768 there were 5 farmhouses and 18 cottages at Postcombe. (fn. 30) During the next hundred years Postcombe and Lewknor nearly doubled their size, for in 1861 their houses numbered 127. (fn. 31) By 1901 the figure had dropped to 102. (fn. 32) Many well-built cottages and small houses were put up during this period: they are mostly of flint with red brick facings; some belonged to the squire and are marked with the letters J for Jodrell and w for White. A row of houses was built in the Watlington road by a local builder about 1911, eight Council houses were erected after the First World War and twelve, constructed of grey concrete, after the Second. The Bullingdon R.D.C. is now (1958) bringing main water to the village, which hitherto has mainly had to depend on well water, though some houses were supplied from Watlington. (fn. 33) There is a combined post office and general store, another general shop, and a garage.
Leofeca may be regarded as Lewknor's earliest Anglo-Saxon owner. (fn. 34) The first documentary reference to LEWKNOR occurs in the record of a lawsuit heard in a shiremoot in or about 990, wherein 'Eadgyfu aet Leofecan oran', or Edith of Lewknor, appeared as a witness. (fn. 35)
According to the traditions of the monks of Abingdon 'Luvechenora' was subsequently the marriage portion of a certain Ælfgiva. She left the vill to her kinswoman Edith whom Edward the Confessor married in 1045. After Ælfgiva died, her house-steward (procurator domus) continued to administer the property as if it were his own, but he oppressed the tenantry, and one of them, Edwin Rainere, laid information with the queen. The house-steward was unable to disprove in the king's court Edwin's statement and so was forced to put Queen Edith in possession.
Subsequently King Edward came with his wife to stay at Abingdon, (fn. 36) and Queen Edith offered to give Lewknor to the monks as endowment for their morning meal. The king confirmed the gift. (fn. 37) Although there is doubt about the authenticity of the Confessor's grant, which the Abbot of Abingdon produced at the Quo Warranto proceedings of 1285, the chronicler's narrative may well be substantially correct. (fn. 38)
A Danish nobleman Tovi, whom the chronicler also credits with leaving Lewknor to Abingdon, is known to have been a thegn of King Edward and to have held of him Ibstone manor. (fn. 39) His grant, made in Ordric's abbacy (1052–65), seems to have been in fact limited to Ackhamstead, a hamlet of Lewknor, to Plumbridge in Ibstone and to Garsington manor. (fn. 40) Of the 20 hides at which Lewknor (excluding Ackhamstead) was rated Abingdon held 17 in 1086. (fn. 41) Its Lewknor manor was later enlarged by various grants of land on the confines of the township. Drew d'Aundeley, owner of South Weston and of the adjoining vill of Shirburn, on becoming a monk of Abingdon, endowed the abbey with a hide at 'Wdemundesleia', now Wormsley in Stokenchurch (Bucks.), but then described as of the vill of Weston. His grant was confirmed by his feudal lord Nigel d'Oilly in 1106. (fn. 42) In or about the same year D'Oilly granted the abbey a ½-hide in Abbefeld of Drew's fee. (fn. 43) As Abbefeld (later Chequers manor) lay in Stokenchurch and later came to represent the entire holding of the De Scaccario family, (fn. 44) it is most likely that Abingdon derived its title to the moorland round Cadmore End from this grant. An agreement of 1254 mentions other neighbouring hamlets as a part of the abbey's property, Studdridge lying to the east of Wormsley, and 'Plumrugge', i.e. Plumbridge in Ibstone parish, a little farther south. (fn. 45) Studdridge may also have come to Abingdon from Drew's grant. These smaller properties, save perhaps for Abbefeld, which was said to have been lost to the Danes, had formed no part of Lewknor's pre-Conquest townlands, but by the 13th century they had come to make up the manor. The inquest of 1279 includes the following places in Lewknor: Postcombe, Ackhamstead, Abbefeld, and Padnells (Padnole) in Rotherfield Greys. Actually Laurence de Scaccario held one-third only of Great Abbefeld from Abingdon, the other two-thirds being held of the lord of Aston Rowant. (fn. 46)
Lewknor manor was leased throughout most of the Middle Ages. (fn. 47) Falling to the Crown on the suppression of the abbey in 1538, Lewknor was granted in 1541 to a court favourite, Sir John Williams, (fn. 48) who later became Lord Williams of Thame. As the grant was made in tail male and Lord Williams died in 1559 with no male heir (fn. 49) the manor reverted to the Crown, but was leased in 1560 to Christopher Edmonds of North Weston and his wife Dorothy, at a yearly rent of £42 2s. 1½d. (fn. 50) Edmonds was stepson to the former grantee, being the son of his first wife by a previous marriage; he seems to have acted as agent for Sir John and was left the lease of North Weston in Lord Williams's will. (fn. 51) Edmonds had a place at court, and his wife Dorothy, a daughter of Christopher Lidcott of Rushcombe, was one of the ladies of the queen's privy chamber. (fn. 52) Five years later, in 1565, the lease was converted to a grant in fee, subject to an annual Crown rent of £23 6s. 9d. (fn. 53) Edmonds had already seignorial rights in Lewknor, having acquired the manors of Nethercote and Moorcourt in 1545 from the Crown. (fn. 54) Thus in 1565 the three Lewknor manors, once belonging to Abingdon and the honor of Wallingford, were united in the hands of Edmonds. Edmonds was knighted in 1592 and died about four years later without male issue. (fn. 55) His wife Dorothy survived him, and by 1603 had sold the lordship and manor to Thomas Rolles, of Devon extraction and gentleman usher to Elizabeth I and after to James I. (fn. 56)
From Thomas Rolles (d. 1606) the manor passed to a nephew Richard (d. 1633). (fn. 57) Richard's son Thomas (1608–89) led a long life of extravagance supported by sales and enfranchisements, and left to his son, a third Thomas (1652–1725), and impoverished property, reduced by the sale of a farm with 178 acres in the common fields to Edward Huish of the Middle Temple, and of another in 1667 to Sir Thomas Tipping of Wheatfield. At length Thomas Rolles the younger made over a bankrupt estate in 1720 to his brother-in-law Paul Jodrell in satisfaction of his debts and mortgages. (fn. 58)
Paul Jodrell (1646–1728) of Syon Hill in Isleworth (Mdx.), who thus became lord of Lewknor manor, was for 43 years Clerk to the House of Commons. (fn. 59) His grandson, also named Paul Jodrell (1713–51), was solicitor-general to Frederick, Prince of Wales. (fn. 60) In the next generation, Richard Paul Jodrell (1745–1831), who purchased the Nethercote manor in Lewknor, was a dramatist, versifier, and classical scholar, a Fellow of the Royal Society and the last surviving member of Dr. Johnson's Club. (fn. 61) His son, a second Richard Paul Jodrell (1781–1861), inherited through his mother a baronetcy and the Norfolk estate of Salle Park. (fn. 62) His son, Sir Edward Repps Jodrell, died without issue in 1882 and his daughter Amelia Vertue (d. 1890), wife of Charles Higgins, eventually succeeded to the Salle estate and Nethercote House and took the name Jodrell again. (fn. 63) The estates were sold on her death to Major Timothy White, and so passed to his grandson, Sir Dymoke White, Bt. (fn. 64) He surrendered his life interest in the estate to his son, Mr. Headley Dymoke White, who in 1954 sold it for £18,500 to All Souls College. (fn. 65)
The fee-farm rent of £23 6s. 9d., reserved to the Crown under the grant of 1565, was augmented to £33 6s. 9d. upon the deaths of Christopher and Dorothy Edmonds without male heir. (fn. 66) It continued to be paid yearly to the Crown by the lords of the manor and to be recovered by them in the form of quitrents from their tenants. After the Restoration it went to form part of the dower of Queen Henrietta Maria and then the jointure of her daughter-in-law, Queen Catherine. (fn. 67) By 1713 it had passed into private hands (fn. 68) and in 1805 it was bought by Richard Paul Jodrell from the owner, the Revd. Henry Hadley Norris, and was so extinguished. (fn. 69)
A second Lewknor manor, MOORCOURT, can be traced back to the hide which one Peter, ancestor of the De Wheatfield family, held of Robert d'Oilly in 1086 in addition to the 2 hides he held in Wheatfield. (fn. 70) Robert's brother and heir Nigel gave Abingdon Abbey, some time before his death in 1115, the land of one Algar in Abbefeld. (fn. 71) It seems that the De Wheatfield hide was conveyed either by this grant or at about the same time, for in 1279 the abbey was overlord. (fn. 72) During the 12th and 13th centuries the estate must have descended in the Wheatfield family, although there is no record of its doing so. By 1130 a Robert de Wheatfield had succeeded and he in turn was followed by Geoffrey (fl. 1154, 1166), (fn. 73) Robert (d. by 1193), Henry (d. c. 1226), Elias (fl. 1243), Henry (d. by 1264) and Elias, who was mesne tenant of the whole Abingdon hide in 1279. (fn. 74) He held a ½-hide in demesne and paid a rent of 18s. 4d. to the abbey's kitchener. The other ½-hide was subinfeudated to Sir Geoffrey de Lewknor. (fn. 75) No more is heard of the Wheatfield tenancy in Lewknor.
The Lewknors had been established in the parish since the 12th century and it seems likely that a clerk, Ansger de Lewknor, who was said to have held the vill of Abbot Ingulf (1130–58), and to have obtained a grant in fee of Ackhampstead, was the ancestor of the family. (fn. 76) It is, in fact, likely that the family were hereditary rectors of the church. Its ½-hide holding held of the De Wheatfields was burdened with various dues (i.e. 1 lb. of cumin and 24s. to Lewknor church) (fn. 77) by which the Lewknors' tenure can be traced back at least as far as Master Nicholas de Lewknor (fl. 1173–93), at one time Vicearchdeacon of Oxford. (fn. 78) He paid 1 lb. of cumin to the abbey almoner (fn. 79) and in 1198 a Thomas son of Simon, who can be identified as a Lewknor, quitclaimed 1 hide in Lewknor to a Robert son of William. (fn. 80) A Roger de Lewknor held the rectory in 1219–41 (fn. 81) and he may be the grandfather of a Robert son of William, who was son of a Roger de Lewknor and was granted Master Nicholas's (fl. 1173–93) messuages in Lewknor in about 1260. (fn. 82) In 1279 Sir Geoffrey de Lewknor's estate included Master Nicholas's lands (i.e. the ½-hide held of Elias de Wheatfield which was burdened with the payment of 1 lb. of cumin and 24s. to the church), (fn. 83) and 3 virgates held directly of the abbey. The demesne tenant was a Geoffrey son of William, perhaps the brother of Robert de Lewknor (fl. 1260). (fn. 84) By 1300 Sir Geoffrey's son Ralph (fl. 1300) was holding an estate called 'Moor', (fn. 85) which must have comprised the whole Wheatfield holding. Later evidence makes it likely that this estate lay in the uplands in or near Abbefeld and that the moated farm, later called Moor Court, which lies in the plain at the junction of Weston Woodway with the lower Icknield Way, was the curia or manorial hall. In the 16th century Moorcourt manor's lands were the moorlands near Lane End (Great Marlow, Bucks.). (fn. 86) John de Lewknor (fl. 1316, 1325) succeeded Ralph and in 1346 he or a son John held the Lewknors' property elsewhere. (fn. 87) In 1360 he conveyed his Harrowden (Northants.) manor to the Symeons (fn. 88) and it was perhaps in this fashion that Sir Robert Symeon (who held Nethercote and probably Exchequers manor, Stokenchurch, by right of his wife before 1386) came also to be possessed of Moor Court. (fn. 89) In a deed of 1374 Sir Robert Symeon styles himself lord of the Moor at Lewknor and stipulates for the payment of a rent charge at Moor Court (curia de la More). (fn. 90) His wife Isabel survived him and on her death in 1386 she was returned as holding property in 'Le More' in part of the honor of Wallingford and in part of another lord. (fn. 91) In the following year their son and heir Robert Symeon settled on trustees his lands in Lewknor, Shirburn, Stokenchurch, Aston Rowant, and other places. (fn. 92) The date of his death is not known and in 1428 the unnamed heir of a John Symeon held the Symeons' and Morleys' land in Exchequers manor in Stokenchurch. (fn. 93) Presumably Moorcourt had followed the same descent. In the mid-15th century there was a lawsuit between Robert Symeon's collateral heirs over his properties in which Moorcourt manor was specifically mentioned. (fn. 94) The outcome is not known, but some time after, in the 16th century, Moorcourt manor was included in the estates of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, which fell to the Crown on his death. In 1545 Moorcourt was sold to Christopher Edmonds and Sir Richard Long. The sale included the manor and messuage called Moor Court and a barn 'Calcottes' and lands called moorlands, i.e. near Lane End in Great Marlow (Bucks.). (fn. 95) As with other manors Edmonds seems to have bought the property for his step-father Sir John Williams. (fn. 96) On his death in 1559 Sir John devised 'Lewknor manor', once held by the Duke of Suffolk, to his wife Margery with remainder to his daughter and coheir Margaret, wife of Henry Norreys. (fn. 97) Williams's widow married William Drury and in 1561 she and her husband were holding the manor. (fn. 98) After her death it descended in the barony of Norreys of Rycote (fn. 99) to Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Francis, Earl of Berkshire, and wife of Edward Wray, groom of the bedchamber to James I. (fn. 100) Wray and his wife sold Moor Court and other premises in 1629 to a Reading clothier, William Kenrick (d. 1636), for £2,100. (fn. 101) Moor Court again changed hands in 1698, when Sir William Kenrick of Whitly, Bt., a grandson to the clothier, sold the manor and a farm called the Lower farm (i.e. Moorcourt farm) below Lewknor hills for £1,900 to Richard Winlow. The property so conveyed contained 164 acres of arable in the common fields, in addition to an arable croft and six meadow and pasture closes. (fn. 102)
Winlow had bought another farm a year previously from George Tipping for £1,100. (fn. 103) Tipping's or Lewknor farm consisted of 231 arable acres in the common fields and a few closes of pasture and woodland, and had been bought in 1664 and 1667 by the vendor's father, Sir Thomas Tipping of Wheatfield, from Thomas Rolles, lord of the manor. (fn. 104) Winlow was already owner of a yeoman's holding of 36 acres of arable which he had purchased in 1682, and these three purchases were now united by him in a single estate. (fn. 105) Besides his freehold, he had a lease of Lewknor rectory glebe from All Souls College. This brought him into conflict with the vicar, John Bushell, who complained, in a letter to the Warden of the College, of 'his pride, self-conceit and haughtiness', as well as of 'the virulence of his tongue', and who took equal dislike to 'his wife, subject to vapours, and his daughters' good qualities'. (fn. 106)
Winlow died in 1709. (fn. 107) Of his four daughters, Margery married the Revd. Francis Bernard of Brightwell (Berks.), and the Moor Court estate eventually descended to their son, a second Francis Bernard, who sold it in 1742 and 1744 to the Warden and Fellows of All Souls. (fn. 108) The college bought it with money left to them by Christopher Codrington, and it is still held as a trust estate for the Codrington Library. (fn. 109)
A third manor in Lewknor, known in the 16th century as NETHERCOTE manor, derives from an estate of 2 hides held by Miles Crispin in 1086. Domesday Book records that he had 2 holdings, each containing 2 hides and each termed alia Cote. One of them is Copcourt in Aston Rowant parish, the other, identifiable by its mill, is Nethercote in Lewknor, alia cote being a latinization of 'Otherecote' or 'Nothercot', the forms taken by this place-name about 1200. (fn. 110) The fee, with many other of Miles Crispin's estates became absorbed in the honor of Wallingford. Hugh de Mara may have held it as a ¼-fee in 1166, (fn. 111) and in 1196 Miles de Morley was the holder. (fn. 112) He paid 25s. relief for ¼-fee of the honor and styled himself Miles of Nethercote in a grant of a ½-virgate which he made about that time to Holy Trinity Priory at Wallingford. (fn. 113) Besides owning Nethercote, the Morleys held land from the family of De Scaccario, for in 1219 a second Miles of Nethercote, perhaps the son of the first Miles, was a minor and his ¼-fee was in the custody of Henry de Scaccario. (fn. 114) By 1230 Miles de Morley was in possession of the fee and lived until some time after 1255. (fn. 115) The Geoffrey de Morley who was holding in chief of the Earl of Cornwall at the inquest of 1279 is likely to have been a son of this Miles. Nethercote was still reckoned as 2 hides (8 virgates) and held as a ¼-fee. (fn. 116) It was presumably this Geoffrey who occurs as a free tenant of Petronilla, widow of Simon de Scaccario, in 1292 (fn. 117) and who in 1324 entailed Nethercote and property in Aston Rowant and Lewknor upon Margaret de Morley with ultimate reversion to Thomas de Morley. (fn. 118) Thomas, who had become lord of Abbefeld or Chequers manor by 1346, was still alive in 1352, (fn. 119) but another member of the Morley family, named Richard, later had a joint estate in the same properties with his wife Isabel. (fn. 120) She survived Richard and carried the estate to her second husband, Sir Robert Symeon of Moorcourt, (fn. 121) who was thus lord of Moorcourt, Nethercote, and probably of Chequers manor in Stokenchurch. (fn. 122) When she died in 1386 Nethercote reverted to her son Robert Morley, (fn. 123) who died in 1410 and whose tomb is in Stokenchurch church. (fn. 124) His widow Juliana married secondly Peter Fettiplace. In 1418 a certain Edmund Brudenell, owner of Wormsley, presumably a trustee, released to Peter Fettiplace and Juliana and Peter's heirs all claim to Robert Morley's lands in Stokenchurch, Aston Rowant, and Lewknor. (fn. 125) Ten years later, John Fettiplace was returned as holding the Nethercote ¼-fee which had once belonged to Thomas Morley. (fn. 126) Nethercote does not seem to have followed the descent of other Fettiplace manors to the Untons, (fn. 127) and its 15th- and early16th-century descent has not been traced.
The manor, for so it is described in deeds ranging from the 16th to the 18th century, came later to be divided into two moieties which were reunited when William Whitton acquired one moiety in 1544 from Gerard Harby and the other in 1553 from Thomas Colte. (fn. 128) William Whitton's son and heir, John Whitton of Nethercote, entered his pedigree and proved his arms in the herald's visitation of 1574. (fn. 129) A brass tablet in Lewknor church records the death of the next owner, Robert Whitton, in 1612. The trustees appointed under his will later sold the manor and farm of Nethercote to William Deane of Warborough for £2,200. (fn. 130)
William Deane died in 1620, leaving a son and daughter. (fn. 131) The son, also named William, made his will in 1645 'on taking a voyage beyond the seas, and not knowing whether I shall ever return again', and thereby devised the manor and farm of Nethercote, with lands in Oddington and Aldermaston (Berks.), to his sister Dorothy and her husband Richard (subsequently Sir Richard) Harison of Hurst (Berks.). (fn. 132) On the death of their eldest son and heir, George Harison of Hurst, the Nethercote estate was vested in trustees appointed under a private Act of Parliament passed in 1699, to allow its sale for the payment of George Harison's debts and legacies. Heritage Lenten, the new owner of Nethercote, paid £3,511 for his purchase in 1701. He was of Russian origin, having been born in Moscow, but had been naturalized as an Englishman and had become a London merchant, living at Walthamstow. (fn. 133) He now made Nethercote his home and, dying in 1715, was buried in Lewknor south aisle. (fn. 134) His son Heritage died in 1729 and his grandson John in 1734. (fn. 135) His great-grandson, Heritage (III) Lenten, sold his house at Nethercote in 1747 for £700 to another London merchant, William Gomm of Clerkenwell, and the remainder of the estate in 1758 to the same purchaser for £3,873. (fn. 136) Gomm in his turn disposed of the estate, subject to his own life interest, in 1777 for £8,400 to Richard Paul Jodrell, and died three years later. (fn. 137) The Lewknor and Nethercote manors were thereby united in the Jodrell family.
Land in Ackhampstead, a hamlet of Lewknor now in Great Marlow (Bucks.), was known in the 15th century as ACKHAMPSTEAD manor. It was held from the mid-13th century at least by a family taking its name from Leigh (Besselsleigh, Berks.). The De Leighs held fees in Besselsleigh and in Kingston (Little Chesterton, Warws.) under the Abbot of Abingdon. Ackhampstead seems to have followed the same descent until the 15th century. (fn. 138) William de Leigh (fl. c. 1220–43) (fn. 139) held Ackhampstead and about 1251 his son William gave up his rights in the estates to his brother Thomas, who held them in 1279. (fn. 140) Thomas's heir was John de Leigh (d.c. 1348) (fn. 141) and Ackhampstead is found in the possession of Katherine de Leigh (d. 1406), wife of Sir Thomas Bessels (d. c. 1378), and her son Sir Peter Bessels. (fn. 142) Ackhampstead manor was first recorded in 1412 when Sir Peter Bessels put it in trust. The manor was at that time leased for life to Thomas Chaucer, lord of Ewelme manor, and Sir Peter could dispose only of the reversion. (fn. 143) There was much dispute over Sir Peter's lands on his death in 1425, for he directed that they should all be sold for alms. (fn. 144) No further record has been found of Ackhampstead manor but it was presumably sold. (fn. 145)
It is possible that another Lewknor manor, which made its appearance at the end of the 15th century, was in fact the Bessels Ackhampstead estate. It is recorded in 1492 when a grant was made to Edmund de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, of LEWKNOR and other manors belonging to his brother John, Earl of Lincoln, who had been slain as a rebel in 1487. (fn. 146) The De la Poles were descendants of Alice, daughter of Thomas Chaucer, (fn. 147) who had held Ackhampstead in 1412. On the other hand Lewknor manor was claimed later either as part of the lands which had belonged to Anne Mortimer, grandmother of Edward IV, or which had been purchased by Edward IV. (fn. 148) In 1492 when their Lewknor manor was restored to the Suffolks it was put in trust as security for payments to be made out of their estates. (fn. 149) Edmund de la Pole forfeited the manor in 1501 and Sir Robert Harcourt was granted the office of steward of this and his other estates. (fn. 150) Nonetheless it was recorded on Edmund de la Pole's inquisition when he died in 1510. (fn. 151) In that year Lady Anne Howard, daughter of Edward IV, successfully petitioned for its return as part of her family's estate. (fn. 152) In 1515, however, her husband Thomas Howard gave Lewknor and Nuneham Courtenay to Charles Brandon, who had been created Duke of Suffolk. (fn. 153) In 1534 Lewknor and other properties were bought back by the Crown, but in 1545 the lordship and manor of Lewknor were granted with Moorcourt manor to Sir Richard Long and Christopher Edmonds. That some of the lands so conveyed lay in the Chilterns appears from the fact that among them was a cottage, situated beside Moor Chapel, a name that is known to have been given to Ackhampstead chapel, (fn. 154) but it is not clear whether it is to be regarded as part of Lewknor manor rather than of Moorcourt. (fn. 155) Edmonds must have given over his interest in this estate as in Moorcourt to Sir John Williams (fn. 156) and it was probably included in the Lewknor manor, 'formerly of Charles Brandon', which Williams bequeathed to his wife and the Norreys family. (fn. 157)
The area known as Abbefeld lay on the hills between Lewknor, Stokenchurch, and Aston Rowant and included parts of estates in all three parishes. (fn. 158) The Lewknor portion of Abbefeld was largely held by Abingdon Abbey and had been assigned to the kitchener. His estate was in existence by 1184 when 60s. from dues and 10s. tithes were paid to him from Abbefeld. He held the fee of Drew d'Aundeley, (fn. 159) who had been the chief tenant of the D'Oillys in this part of Oxfordshire. (fn. 160) The kitchener's estate, therefore, must have included part of Wormsley which Drew had given the abbey at the beginning of the 12th century, a gift which Nigel d'Oilly had confirmed before 1115. (fn. 161) Nigel himself gave Abingdon land held by a certain Algar in Abbefeld. (fn. 162) It is not clear whether this is to be identified with the hide held in Lewknor by the Wheatfields under the D'Oillys in 1086 (fn. 163) or with the later holding of the De Scaccario family in the Lewknor part of Abbefeld, but the fact that this part of Abbefeld was considered as Drew d'Aundeley's fee suggests that Nigel d'Oilly may have granted both these holdings about the same time. The kitchener's estate in 1279 showed that these estates must have been included, for each paid ⅓ of the dues to the kitchener. John son of Adam de Lewknor, lord of Wormsley, paid 20s. for a ½-hide in Lewknor parish, (fn. 164) Laurence de Scaccario paid 20s. for a ½-hide in Abbefeld, Elias de Scaccario paid 18s. 4d. for a ½-hide in Lewknor, while John de Fonte made it up to 20s. by paying 1s. 8d. for 6 acres. (fn. 165) The kitchener continued to receive dues from Lewknor throughout the Middle Ages. (fn. 166) His tithes were specifically mentioned in the grant of the Abingdon lands to Sir Christopher Edmonds, (fn. 167) but the other dues have not been traced.
The various holdings can be traced to a certain extent by their sub-tenants. John son of Adam's ½-hide must have followed the descent of his Wormsley estate, passing to Robert de Lewknor by 1300. (fn. 168) It remained with the Lewknors until the end of the 14th century though the exact descent is not known. In 1404 Edmund Bredenhall held lands in Lewknor formerly of Robert Lewknor. (fn. 169) He was lord of Wormsley in 1428. (fn. 170) The Scropes who owned Wormsley from the 16th century had appurten ances in Lewknor, (fn. 171) but the descent of this particular holding cannot be traced further.
The De Scaccario holding in the Lewknor part of Abbefeld was only part of a much larger estate in Abbefeld which included in 1284 a ½-fee held of the honor of Wallingford. It was described as Little Abbefeld and later as Exchequers manor or Chequers in Stokenchurch (Bucks.)—an estate held of the lord of Aston Rowant, which included 2/3 of the chief messuage said to be in Great Abbefeld, and the estate held of the Abbot of Abingdon, also in Great Abbefeld, which included ⅓ of the chief messuage. (fn. 172) The Lewknor portion was also described as Old Abbefeld and was variously described as I carucate or 127 acres. (fn. 173) It was held by the De Scaccario family from the early 13th century if not before. A Laurence de Scaccario (d. 1217) was tenant of the Aston part of Abbefeld in 1206, (fn. 174) and a Roger de Scaccario who died in 1271 was in possession of the ½-hide held of the Abbot of Abingdon. (fn. 175) His son and heir Laurence died in 1284 (fn. 176) and when Laurence's son Simon died in 1291 the direct male line came to an end. (fn. 177) Simon's heirs were his sisters, Maud, Laura, wife of William Payforer, and Beatrice, wife of John Peverel. (fn. 178) By 1346, however, Abbefeld was held by Thomas Morley, the lord of Nethercote manor in Lewknor. (fn. 179) It must have followed the descent of the Morley lands, probably passing for a time to the Symeons of Moorcourt. (fn. 180) In 1428 Abbefeld and Sorel, which is unidentified, were said to be held by the heirs of a John Symeon and Thomas Morley. (fn. 181) The descent of the ½-hide cannot be distinguished from that of other land in Abbefeld and it was probably regarded as part of Exchequers manor in Stokenchurch which had descended from the Wallingford ½-fee in Abbefeld. (fn. 182)
The mesne tenancy of the ½-hide held by the De Wheatfields in 1279 may have had the same descent as the other half of their Domesday hide. (fn. 183) It cannot be traced in their possession after 1279 (fn. 184) and was perhaps merged in another Lewknor manor.
Agrarian and Social History.
Openfield husbandry prevailed at Lewknor until the 19th century. A grant in 1260–2 of a mill in Lewknor with 3 acres in one field and 3½ in the other, points to the existence at this date of a two-field system, (fn. 185) but by the 16th century, if not much earlier, Lewknor had the usual three fields. On the east side of the township, between the village and the London road, was the field described as next to Aston; on the opposite side lay the field next to Shirburn; and between the two was the Middle Field, which is also described as Knap Field or the field adjoining the town of Lewknor towards the west. (fn. 186) Postcombe had its own three fields, known respectively in the 18th century as Home or Middle Field, Windmill or Coppe Field, and the Road Field or Lower Field. (fn. 187)
Many furlong names are known: Lambworth and Saltwey in Postcombe field are significant. The furlongs were made up of ½-acre strips called lands, broad ridges according to Arthur Young and 'little arched'. (fn. 188) These were defined by stakes and mearstones which were set down before the spring sowing at Candlemas. (fn. 189) Enlargement of strips by ploughing away the edges of highways and mear balks was an offence that led to presentment in the manor court. (fn. 190) There is evidence for a certain amount of consolidation of strips by purchase or exchange. The furlongs called Inlands and Priestlands show the lord of the manor and the parson taking the lead in this direction. A half-way stage is visible in the field map of 1598 where one furlong is depicted as divided into alternate rectory and manor strips. (fn. 191) In 1704 Rolles property in the common fields included 3 lands and 3 yards each 'lying together' and 5 acres or 11 lands 'lying together'. (fn. 192) Still there is no evidence that there was much early inclosure though there was some at least by 1779, (fn. 193) and there is no sign of that conversion of arable into pasture which was the characteristic feature of Tudor inclosures. No serious attempt was made to obtain parliamentary inclosure until 1792 when an inclosure bill passed the Commons, but was opposed by Lord Macclesfield and thrown out in the Lords. (fn. 194) In 1810 the Lewknor and Postcombe Inclosure Act was finally passed. (fn. 195) The award followed in 1815.
Lewknor farming was not, however, as conservative as this comparatively late abandonment of open-field farming might imply. Changes in crop rotation, for instance, could be and had been made by agreement. In 1765 the eleven chief cultivators of the open fields agreed for a 3-year trial period that clover might be sown in the gratten (i.e. spring) field, when it was cleared, and that corn might be sown on fallow land. The agreement forbade, however, the sowing of corn on the area extending up to the hills, which was to be a sheep-walk to Beacon Hill. (fn. 196)
Of the 1,800 acres allotted by the inclosure commissioners, 1,550 were open-field arable and meadow. (fn. 197) The remaining 250 acres were inclosed out of the common and waste. The principal beneficiaries were the lord of the manor, R. P. Jodrell, who received 415 acres as well as one-sixth of the value of the waste, and All Souls College. As impropriators the college obtained lands now comprised in Church farm (116 a.) and Field farm (119 a.) in compensation for the rectory glebe and acres in the common fields; the grounds, already inclosed, of Moor Court farm (155 a.); and Hill farm or Linky Downs, 260 acres of poor hill-land, given in commutation of the rectorial tithes of Lewknor and Postcombe. In addition there were Lord Macclesfield and six smaller proprietors who received holdings that varied from 45 to 147 acres. (fn. 198)
The Domesday survey of Lewknor sets out its meadow as 4 furlongs in length and 2 in breadth on the Abingdon estate, and 6 acres on Peter de Wheatfield's land. (fn. 199) Part of the meadow, estimated in 1279 as 20 acres, (fn. 200) was held in demesne: part was lot meadow allotted annually to the lord's tenants. The custom still continued in 1777 of the tenant drawing his lot yearly. (fn. 201) The principal meadow was an isolated ground 4 miles away and lay between Warpsgrove and Easington in Ewelme hundred. It was known as Sullingworth or Shillingford Mead, and is first mentioned when Richard Foliot quitclaimed to the Abbot of Abingdon right of common of pasture there in 1235. (fn. 202) Shillingford Mead was staked out or put in defence every Lady Day. (fn. 203) When hay-harvest came round, the work of mowing, pitching, and carting the hay was carried out by the abbot's customary tenants, and the men of Postcombe received for their services 3 sheep, 12d., and a basin of salt. (fn. 204) After Lammas, and when the hay was in, the townships of Chalgrove, Easington, and Goldor had the grazing of the meadow until Lady Day. (fn. 205)
Lewknor was not wholly dependent upon Shillingford for its hay. There were nearby valuable watermeadows, beyond Lewknor Green, beside the stream that runs northward out of the town pond. Sluices in the bed of the stream were let down during the winter months to dam up the water and so irrigate the adjoining meadows through trenches and watercourses. (fn. 206) Farther down in its course the stream filled the monastic fishponds mentioned in a customary of Abingdon of about 1184; (fn. 207) but the sluices and the fishponds are now gone.
Gone too are the water-mills which the Abingdon monks and the owner of Nethercote held at Domesday. (fn. 208) The Nethercote mill is traceable through more than one Morley family settlement to 1628, when the mill-house called the 'washing place' figures in a sale of the Moor Court estate (fn. 209) and is last mentioned in 1742 as an ancient mill-pond at the lower end of the common called Moor Court Green. (fn. 210) Already by the 16th century these watermills had given place to windmills, of which one, which gave its name to the Windmill Field of Postcombe, is shown on the field-map of 1598, (fn. 211) andanother stood on the hillock called Windmill Knap, south of Lewknor village.
Besides the pasturage provided by the watermeadows after the hay-harvest, the highway verges, the grassy balks and headlands of the three common fields, and the fallow field were used for grazing horses and cattle. Sheep might be brought on to the two other fields between corn-harvest and the sowing, but were not allowed on to the wheat stubble till after Bartlemas nor on to the barley stubble till Michaelmas. (fn. 212) Throughout the year, except between Candlemas and May Day when it was 'hayned' (i.e. inclosed or hedged), the villagers used the common pasture of Cowleaze (c. 60 a.) which lay on the hilltop, 2 miles south of the village. (fn. 213) With the adjoining heath and hillside it formed a stinted pasture. Common for 1 cow went with every cottage and yardland, and 1 horse was taken as equivalent to 2 cows. (fn. 214)The number of sheep stints varied from time to time: in 1601 tenants' stints were fixed at 60 sheep a virgate, in 1654 and 1674 at 40 a yardland, and in 1773 at 1 sheep to every acre of common-field land. (fn. 215)The lord of the manor had a paramount interest, and in 1674 he was stated to have 140 sheep stints, while Sir Thomas Tipping and Mrs. Huish had 120 and 80 stints respectively for farmland which they had purchased from him. (fn. 216) The slopes below Cowleaze, 'as far as the coney burrows extend', formed the lord's rabbit warren. (fn. 217)In 1705 the warren was leased for £14 a year in addition to the price already paid by the prospective tenant for 'all the stock of conies'. (fn. 218)
Next in importance to the tenants' grazing rights were their timber rights. Besides the topping and lopping of the trees that grew on their copyholds, the customary tenants could each claim as estovers from the common or waste 1½ loads of bushes taken yearly out of Cowleaze for firewood, and the wood called 'plough-bote', 'cart-bote', and 'stake-bote' which they needed for their farm work.'House-bote', or timber for the repair of their dwellings, was given out to them as the lord of the manor might direct. (fn. 219)
The woods of Lewknor in 1086 were described as 2 miles long and 1½ mile broad, (fn. 220) and in 1279 the Abbot of Abingdon was said to have 50 acres of woodland in demesne. (fn. 221)The principal part of the abbot's wood was then called Heyle, (fn. 222) and today is Halley Wood. Mainly beech wood, it supplied mast to the swine that fed there and for which the abbot received pannage. (fn. 223) 'They fell not the wood together', Thomas Langdon noted on his map of 1598, 'but at every fall do glean and draw out only that which is about the growth of 21 years.' (fn. 224) Inclosure had started by 1667 when part had gone to form the pasture and woodground known as Read's closes. (fn. 225) Woodland was one of the most valuable assets of 19th- and 20th-century estates. In 1875 Sir Edward Jodrell had 202 acres of wood on Lewknor Hill; (fn. 226) his successors, the Whites, had 250 acres of beech wood there in 1926 as well as 14 acres of plantation near Nethercote Lane. (fn. 227) This part of the estate was the only part retained when the Whites sold the farms in 1955. (fn. 228) There has been some extension of the woodland in the mid-20th century. (fn. 229)
The history of the tenants who worked in these woods and fields can be traced since Domesday. In 1086 Abingdon Abbey's estate of Lewknor, including Postcombe, was rated at 17 hides, but contained land for 26 ploughs. This may indicate that there had been an expansion of arable area subsequent to the original hidation and accords with the increase in the value of the manor from £10 in King Edward's time to £20 just after the Conquest. Of the 26 plough-lands 4½ were demesne. Three of these were tilled by 6 serfs, 2 serfs to each plough. The remaining 1½ demesne hides were cultivated by the ploughing services of 30 Villani and 26 bordars who held between them 23 ploughs and who consequently had the use of 21½ plough-teams for cultivating their own land. (fn. 230) Miles Crispin had 2 plough-lands (rated at 2 hides) at Nethercote, of which one was in demesne and the other was cultivated by 5 Villani. (fn. 231)The estate had increased in value from £1 10s. to £2. (fn. 232) Another Lewknor hide held by Peter de Wheatfield had land for 1 plough. Two serfs worked the demesne plough and 2 Villani had a ½-plough-team. (fn. 233) This estate was worth £1 as it had been in pre-Conquest times. (fn. 234) It is probable that at this time the parish had as great a population as it possessed at any time before the end of the 17th century. In Lewknor, Nethercote, and the Wheatfield hide there were at least 73 persons wholly or partially engaged in agriculture.
The picture of the 13th-century parish is complicated by the fact that properties in this Chiltern district were clearly intermixed and the bounds of Lewknor and of Aston were ill defined. Disputes consequently arose over pasture rights. (fn. 235) These were finally settled by an agreement made in 1254 whereby the abbot's men of Studdridge were allowed common of pasture in the abbot's land between Grims Dyke and Dychegate and his men of Abbefeld and Plumbridge (in Ibstone) had common of pasture on the lord of Aston's moor of Abbefeld. (fn. 236)
By the time of the 1279 survey the number of villeins recorded in Lewknor and Postcombe had increased from 30 to 45. (fn. 237) Nine Postcombe villeins held double virgates, the remaining 3 villeins at Postcombe and 19 villeins at Lewknor were holders of single virgates, and 14 Lewknor villeins held ½ virgates. (fn. 238) If 2½-virgates in Abbefeld are added to these the amount of land held in villeinage amounted to 48 virgates, (fn. 239) and the demesne to 12 virgates of arable. (fn. 240) The number of double-virgate or ½-hide holdings would seem to have diminished since Domesday and to have been replaced by a quantity of small holdings. The term bordarii had passed out of use.
The villein tenants held their virgates by payment of money-rents, produce-rents, and labour-services. They were liable to be tallaged and paid for each virgate a rent of 3s. to the manorial lord and 6d. for hidage to the Crown. Produce-rents consisted of a quarter of corn paid for church-scot probably at Martinmas, and 5 eggs at Hock-tide. Labour-services on the abbey lands were light, for no week-work was required on the demesne, though the 4 half-virgaters attached to the demesne farm of 6 virgates at Geoffrey de Morley's Nethercote estate had to work on his demesne for 5 days in every fortnight. (fn. 241) A virgater's ploughing-services were restricted to the ploughing of 1 acre of fallow and of 2 acres for the winter sowing. He had to provide a horse and man for harrowing after the spring sowing, receiving in return a handful of oats from the reeve. Other services included work at the hay-harvest; weeding the corn-fields for 3 days with 1 man; supplying 1 man every day from Lammas to Michaelmas for any work that might be required on the demesne; 3 'bederipps' in the autumn when all the village turned out to get in the corn-harvest; and the carting of 2 quarters of grain to market. (fn. 242) The abbey had freeholders with about 6 hides in Abbefeld, Ackhampstead, and Moorcourt. (fn. 243) Two of them, namely Elias de Wheatfield and John son of Adam, were called on to perform ploughing and carting services and to do 3 days' work at the corn-harvest in return for which they were allowed to pasture their livestock with the cattle of the lord abbot. The others paid money-rents. Laurence de Scaccario, whose holding in Abbefeld was part of his much larger estate extending into Aston Rowant and Stokenchurch, had 4 free tenants holding 1 virgate, 8½ acres and a cottage. All paid rent, but one attended in addition harvest reaping with 1 man. (fn. 244)
Fourteenth-century tax assessments indicate a comparatively prosperous community: in 1316 and 1327 the total contribution from Lewknor, Postcombe, and Nethercote to the taxes of a 16th and a 20th came to some £9; (fn. 245) in 1327 about one-third of the taxpayers paid over 5s., a relatively high contribution. (fn. 246) Some of the highest individual contributions were paid in the hamlets. At Postcombe in 1316 one contributor paid 10s. 10d. (fn. 247) The Morleys of Nethercote paid 15s. in 1316 and 11s. in 1327. (fn. 248) In Lewknor itself the highest contribution, paid in 1327, was 13s. (fn. 249) In 1344 the Lewknor assessment was over £10 but this included Postcombe, Ibstone, and Padnells (in Rotherfield Greys); Nethercote was assessed separately for 9s. 9d. (fn. 250) Some idea of the number of inhabitants is given by the poll tax of 1377, when there were at least 142 adults (over 14) in Lewknor. (fn. 251) Postcombe is likely to have been included under Lewknor, but how many if any of the other hamlets were included is not known.
The change to leasing the demesne farm and commuting labour services may be presumed to have taken place in the 14th century. In 1491 the total return from the Abingdon manor was £48 8s. 5¼d., practically the same as its valuation in 1291. (fn. 252) At its suppression the monastery was farming Lewknor manor for £7 6s. 8d. and was receiving £1 for pannage, £1 6s. 8d. in free rents from Lewknor and Studdridge, and, in rents of customary tenants, £17 5s. 2d. from Lewknor, £8 10s. 7d. from Postcombe, £2 15s. 2d. from Studdridge, and £2 9s.2d. from Plumbridge. (fn. 253) Comparatively little can be deduced about the wealth and population of Lewknor itself from 16th-century tax assessments as Studdridge and Ibstone were taxed with it, but a growing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few men is evident. In 1523 the two chief contributors out of 30 taxpayers paid rather more than half the total tax. (fn. 254)
This process was inevitably accompanied by the diminution of small holdings. At Postcombe Walter Lewknor, a yeoman farmer, paid more than the 8 other contributors together and John Kensham was outstanding among the 4 contributors at Cadmore End. (fn. 255) A rental of 1593 gives 15 tenants in Lewknor, 11 in Postcombe, 6 in Studdridge, and 2 in Plumbridge. (fn. 256) Comparison with the hundred rolls return of 12 tenants for Postcombe and 33 for Lewknor (of whom 14 held ½-virgates) suggests that in Elizabeth's reign the ½-virgate holding had become a thing of the past. The tenants were prosperous small farmers, many of them of yeoman status, holding their lands by copy of court roll. Although theirs was a life tenure, and a heriot was due when a copyholder died, his wife had her widow's estate, and his heir was admitted in court to the copyhold on payment of a fine which appears to have amounted at the end of the 16th century to £30 a virgate or yardland. (fn. 257) There was no standard rate for a virgate rent. Lewknor court rolls of the end of the 16th century show that in Studdridge 2 virgate-holders were paying rents of 16s. and 13s. 8d. respectively while a holder of 2 virgates paid 23s. 4d., and at the same time a tenant was being admitted to 3½ virgates at Postcombe at a rent of 29s. 6d. (fn. 258) Besides copyhold there was leasehold and freehold tenure. At the turn of the 16th century the lord of the manor was frequently granting out lands and cottages on short-term leases, generally of 21 years. Occasional leases for long terms of 2,000 years gave a title practically equivalent to freehold. The few freeholds were confined to the detached and outlying portions of the parish, until 1629, when Richard Rolles, lord of the manor, started to enfranchise the Postcombe copyholds. (fn. 259) Eight yardlands in Postcombe had been enfranchised by the end of 1641; three Lewknor copyholders of 8½ yardlands bought enfranchisement in 1642 and by 1649 the process of transforming copyhold appears to have been completed, the lord reserving to himself in every case a quitrent. (fn. 260)
The disappearance of copyhold had the effect of making for a freer market in land, and so gave momenturn to the tendency, already observed, to unite small holdings. An example of this may be found in 1642, when William Scoles obtained for £540 the enfranchisement of his own 1½ yardlands and of 2 yardlands till then in the possession of two other tenants. (fn. 261) A list entered on the court roll for 1674 shows that the number of tenants in Lewknor town had by then fallen to 12 and those in Postcombe to five. (fn. 262) The yeoman farmer, working the land he owned, was fated to be supplanted by a landlord and tenant system, and by 1786 there were but two owner-occupiers in Postcombe and two in Lewknor whose holdings were large enough to pay more than £2 in land-tax. (fn. 263) Land had come to be concentrated in the hands of a few large landowners, who let out their farms. (fn. 264)
In 1851 there were twelve farms in Lewknor, most of them with between 100 to 200 acres, but there were three farms with between 240 to 380 acres. The majority of inhabitants were lowly-paid agricultural labourers, whose wives were often lacemakers. A number of shopkeepers between them supplied the needs of the village; craftsmen included three chairmakers, a turner, sawyer, wheelwright, and cordwainer. (fn. 265)
Most land was still farmed under the landlordtenant system in the later 19th century. In 1872 the greater part of the 2,280 acres of agricultural land was occupied by the six tenant farmers of All Souls College and Sir Edward Jodrell. (fn. 266) The increasing amalgamation of farms is illustrated by the fact that three of these tenants each occupied two farms that were previously separately occupied. The average size of farms was still between 100 to 200 acres. (fn. 267) By 1895 most of the All Souls property was being farmed by the Filbees, and there were two farms of over 450 acres. (fn. 268) The smaller farmer, nevertheless, continued to flourish and the break-up of estates in some ways benefited him. In 1926 there were five farmers with under 100 acres in the parish compared with two in 1872; on the other hand, John Crees, tenant of Major White, farmed nearly 600 acres in Town, Manor, and Nethercote farms. (fn. 269) After 1954 when All Souls College bought up the Nethercote estate, most of Lewknor was in the college's possession. (fn. 270) In 1959 one of their tenants farmed 457 acres (in Town, Manor, and Nethercote farms) and the four others each farmed between 150 and 300 acres. (fn. 271) The hill farms on the other estates were smaller; Reids Bottom farm, for example, was only 35 acres and Upper and Lower Vicar's farms on the Fane estate were each under 100 acres. (fn. 272)
Lewknor soil is good for mixed farming. Wheat, oats, and barley remained the chief crops in the 20th century. (fn. 273) Sheep were an essential part of farming in the Icknield belt, but the 19th century saw the usual decline in their numbers. In 1959 most farms stocked beef cattle and little milk was produced for the market, because of the difficulty of transport. (fn. 274) Farms among the Chiltern woods concentrated more on livestock and laid down the soil to leys periodically. Watercress beds in the village provided a subsidiary interest and there was extensive pheasant breeding in the woods of the Fane estate. (fn. 275)
The population in 1951, before the inclusion of South Weston in the civil parish, numbered 452, an increase over that of 1931 when 391 was recorded, but far below the peak figure of 1871. (fn. 276) Despite the fact that the parish had been reduced in size the population then stood at 779, having risen steadily since 1801, when 597 was returned. (fn. 277) The beginning of this rise is observable, in fact, in the second and third quarters of the 18th century. The baptismal figures for successive decades were 276 in 1726–35; 345 in 1736–45; 387 in 1746–55; 426 in 1756–65, and 525 in 1766–75. (fn. 278) The reversal of the upward trend after 1871 resulted first from the general depression in agriculture and later from increasing mechanization.
It seems that there was no church at Lewknor in 1146, when Pope Eugenius III confirmed Abingdon Abbey in the possession of Lewknor without mentioning a church there. (fn. 279) The first documentary evidence for the church is the confirmation by Innocent III in 1200 of some tithes granted by Geoffrey de Abbefeld and a pension from Lewknor church to the abbey. (fn. 280) But the foundation of the church cannot be much later than 1146 for it contains late Norman work. (fn. 281) A clue as to how it came to be built may be found in a statement in the Abingdon Chronicle that a certain clerk of Lewknor named Ansger held the vill for a long period from Abbot Ingulf (1130–58), who also granted him Ackhampstead, an outlying member of the manor, to hold in fee and inheritance. (fn. 282) It seems likely that Ansger of Lewknor founded and endowed the church, of which a later Roger de Lewknor was rector. (fn. 283) The manorial origin of the parish thus accounts for the inclusion of Ackhampstead within the parish boundaries.
The abbot and convent of Abingdon, as lords of the manor, were patrons of the church, but it seems they were not at first its rectors. Until the death of Roger of Lewknor at some date in the mid-13th century they seem to have allowed the rectorship to be hereditary in the Lewknor family. At the end of the 13th century the abbey is found presenting the rectors. Among their nominees were Master Simon de St. John (1298–1314) and John de Aldebourne, a former Fellow of Merton College, who was rector from about 1335 until 1390, and whose brass is in the chancel. A later rector, Robert Savage (1399–1403), was the son of a priest by an unmarried woman, who had obtained papal dispensation to take holy orders and hold two benefices. (fn. 284) The abbey continued to present rectors until the 15th century, although it had sought and obtained permission to appropriate the rectory in the previous century. The royal licence had been granted in 1330 (fn. 285) and later in the same year John XXII, having received from the abbey a petition for the church's appropriation, issued a commission of inquiry. (fn. 286) It was not until 1343, however, that papal approval was at last obtained from Clement VI, subject to the consent of the diocesan. (fn. 287) The bishop gave his consent in 1344 and the chapter of Lincoln in 1346, (fn. 288) but Abingdon, for reasons unknown, never appropriated the church. The last rector, Walter Eston, resigned in 1440, (fn. 289) the year in which the advowson passed from Abingdon to Archbishop Chichele's newly founded College of All Souls in Oxford. (fn. 290) Abingdon received compensation from the archbishop, and the college obtained a living to which it might present its own members. The college was given permission to appropriate and the great tithes and rectorial glebe were transferred to it. (fn. 291) It remained as patron until 1921, when it surrendered its patronage to the Bishop of Oxford. (fn. 292)
In 1241, when Roger of Lewknor was rector, a vicarage was established with Roger's consent by Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, according to which the income from the parish was divided between Abingdon Abbey, the rector, and the vicar. (fn. 293) The abbey, described as 'patronus', was given the right of presentation to the vicarage, a right which was specifically confirmed in 1248. (fn. 294) Since at least 1200 it had had a pension of 10s. from the church and the tithes of Geoffrey de Abbefeld's demesne, (fn. 295) and these no doubt represented the annual sum of £2 which the abbey was receiving from the church in 1254 and 1291. (fn. 296) The rector was entitled to the great tithes (except for those of Ackhampstead) and to the glebe which was valued in 1341 at £5 a year. (fn. 297) In 1254 the rectory was valued at £13 6s. 8d. and in 1291 at £22, less the £2 due to the abbey. (fn. 298) The rector's endowment must have passed to All Souls College in 1440, and in 1535 was valued at £16 16s. 11¼d. (fn. 299) In 1815, when Lewknor and Postcombe were inclosed, the college received about 431 acres in commutation of the tithes and 68 acres in exchange for the glebe. (fn. 300) By the Lewknor Uphill tithe award of 1844, it also received a rent charge of £21. (fn. 301)
According to the ordination of the vicarage in 1241, the vicar was to receive his altarage and oblations and was to have the small tithes. (fn. 302) These last are enumerated in detail in a terrier drawn up in 1686. (fn. 303) They included tithes of the wool that was shorn off the sheep in summertime, and ½d. on every sheep sold out of the parish after Candlemas. (fn. 304) Whenever any family killed a calf, the vicar had its left shoulder. He had the tithes of calves, lambs, pigs, colts, geese, and fish, as well as of hemp, flax, honey, and fruit. And amongst other payments he had 3d. in lieu of the milk of every cow, and 3s. 4d. a year for every dovecot or pigeon-house.
No mention is made of any vicarial glebe, and the terrier of 1686 names none save that which went with Ackhampstead chapel. (fn. 305) The vicar was assigned the house in the churchyard where the priests before him used to live, and was given a portion of the croft by the rector's barn for making a curtilage or garden. He was also to have the herbage of the churchyard; the right, that is to say, to let his beasts graze among its graves. This custom shocked a later generation, and in 1832 the churchwardens presented their vicar for turning out his horse and cow into the churchyard, where they trod upon the graves, injured the gravestones, and destroyed the churchyard mounds. (fn. 306)
The vicar was awarded the hay tithes of Shillingford Mead and the great as well as the lesser tithes of Ackhampstead. (fn. 307) But these last were claimed by the rector Roger de Lewknor, as pertaining to the rectory, and an appeal to the Papal Curia was referred for settlement in 1248 to Bishop Grosseteste, who decided in the vicar's favour. (fn. 308)
No change was made in the vicarage's original ordination, which was confirmed by the bishop in 1412. (fn. 309) All things considered, it was reasonably well endowed. In Pope Nicholas IV's taxation of 1291 it was assessed at £4 6s. 8d.; (fn. 310) so it exceeded the minimum income of a perpetual vicar which the Council of Oxford had fixed in 1222 at 5 marks. By 1535 the value of the vicarage had risen to £11 17s. (fn. 311) Later Lewknor became a poor vicarage, valued in the early 18th century at £46 7s. (fn. 312) It was augmented in 1773 to the extent of £12 a year, out of a legacy left by Stephen Niblet, Warden of All Souls. (fn. 313) When Lewknor and Postcombe were inclosed in 1815, the vicar received an allotment of just on 100 acres in lieu of his vicarial tithes, (fn. 314) and in 1844 his tithes for Lewknor Uphill were commuted for a yearly payment of £190 10s. (fn. 315)
Down to 1241 the church was probably served by stipendiary priests paid by the rector. The first known rector, Roger de Lewknor, whose name occurs in documents from 1218 to the 1240s, (fn. 316) was a benefactor of Oseney Abbey and probably lord of one of the Lewknor manors. (fn. 317) After Bishop Grosseteste had ordained the vicarage in 1241, it was the vicars who served the church. Under the terms of the ordination the vicar was bound to have a chaplain living with him who should celebrate the Lady-mass immediately after the first mass had been said in the church; and one or other of them was required to celebrate on every Sunday and on the feasts of the apostles in the chapel that had already been built at Ackhampstead. (fn. 318) In 1293 Bishop Oliver Sutton granted permission to John de Chysebech and Geoffrey, his kinsman, both priests, to have a private chapel in their house at Chisbidge, (fn. 319) on account of its distance from the parish church of Lewknor, but they were forbidden to administer to the parishioners. (fn. 320)
As far as is known only one of the vicars presented by the abbey was a university graduate: this was Master Richard de Wanenting (instituted 1274). Only one vicar, Henry of Lewknor (presented by the king in 1361), (fn. 321) was a native of the place.
Towards the end of the 14th century exchanges of ecclesiastical benefices became common and at Lewknor between 1379 and 1410 the vicarage was exchanged nine times. After All Souls College obtained the advowson in 1440 there was a change, for its first five nominees were all Fellows of the college. One of them, Robert Knody, held the living for 47 years (1465–1512) and for the latter part of the time combined it with the vicarage of Hagbourne in Berkshire. (fn. 322) Richard Bedowe (vicar in 1523–26) was non-resident and put in a curate-in-charge to whom he paid half his stipend of £12. (fn. 323)
The churchwardens were responsible for the provision of lights in the church. They were receiving in 1548 24s. a year out of land in the parish that had been given for finding a light, and 12 lb. of wax that had been given for the same purpose. (fn. 324) Such regular payments were supplemented by the occasional testamentary bequests of parishioners. (fn. 325) But the main burden of providing lights fell upon the impropriators, who passed on to the rectory tenant the obligation to 'Fynde suche tapurs unto the hye awtar as custumably theroff a long season have bene usyd'. (fn. 326) With the Edwardian reformation such lights became uncanonical, and the college was doubtless glad to impose upon its tenant instead the duty of supplying its high table with a 'bore of Brawne' at Christmastide. (fn. 327)
Besides administering other church property, the churchwardens had the charge of the churchhouse which the Warden and Fellows of All Souls quitclaimed to them in 1518. (fn. 328) This stood in the churchyard and is not to be confounded with the nearby Vicarage. Here the church ales would be held, and in it was kept a stock of utensils for village feasts. In 1596 the loss was reported of 24 church dishes, 'commonly used to be lent forth to the parishioners at weddings and such like times'. (fn. 329)
Lewknor's two Elizabethan vicars, Christopher Aldridge (1560–74) and Richard Wright (1576–1622), were neither Fellows of All Souls nor university graduates. The former was deprived of his benefice; the latter was returned as 'unlearned', (fn. 330) and was otherwise unsatisfactory. His servants misbehaved themselves, (fn. 331) and he declined to repair the chancel of Ackhampstead chapel, which had fallen into ruin, or to provide a minister to serve there, until one of his parishioners made complaint to the Archbishop of Canterbury and obtained a process in the Court of Audience. (fn. 332). He did, however, acquire the present silver chalice with paten cover, made in 1576. (fn. 333) All Souls was beginning to take a keener interest in its parish, and from 1590 onwards its rectory leases provide that the four statutory sermons shall be preached yearly, namely on the first Sunday of each quarter. The sermon was to be preached by the vicar unless a Fellow of the college wished to deliver it, and the preacher received 10s. for each sermon. (fn. 334)
There is no record of any disturbance or ejection of ministers in the Civil War or under the Commonwealth, Henry Wentworth, a Balliol graduate, remaining vicar from 1646 to 1663. John Bushell, a former servitor of All Souls, who was appointed vicar after the Restoration, served the church, as two of his predecessors had done, for nearly 50 years (1666–1715). (fn. 335) Bushell was active in eliminating from his parish the nonconformity that had crept into it under Puritan rule. In 1682 he informed his bishop that most of the sectaries had left the parish, 'declaring this to be the (most) persecuted shire of England, and this place hereabouts to be the warmest corner in it'. He had appointed a churchwarden, he wrote, 'who proves as impartial and inexorable as death, dealing alike with the atheists and sectaries'. (fn. 336) He had a care too for the improvement and beautification of the interior of his church. (fn. 337)
His successor, Thomas Skeeler, Vicar of Lewknor (1715–63) as well as of Enstone, had been college chaplain at All Souls, and appears to have resided at Lewknor until 1744. (fn. 338) When he died, All Souls revived the practice, which it had dropped at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, of presenting one of its Fellows to the living when it fell vacant. Skeeler's immediate successor, Dr. Daniel Slater, was nonresident throughout his incumbency (1764–93), living first at Risborough and then on another small living in Herefordshire. (fn. 339) For 60 years Lewknor was served by a succession of curates-in-charge, who were paid a stipend of £30 a year by the vicar. Some of these, like the vicars they replaced, were absentees. John Holland (1782–97), for instance, was parson at Long Crendon and lived at Thame. (fn. 340)
Church life, therefore, flagged in the second half of the 18th century: the fabric itself was neglected, the Sacrament was administered four times a year, but whereas in 1738 there were usually 60 or more communicants, by 1768 the number had fallen to about 20, and in 1784 there were seldom more than 10 or 12; (fn. 341) this too at a time when the population was doubling itself. The visitation return of 1771 reports that too many of the lower rank were absent from Sunday service from idleness. (fn. 342) The two services on Sunday, which had been regularly held earlier in the century, had been reduced, some years before 1790, to one. (fn. 343)
With the 19th-century church revival bishops brought pressure upon their clergy to reside. So Charles Botterell Hawkins, appointed vicar in 1794, came to live at Lewknor in 1805, and All Souls handed the Parsonage over for use as a vicarage house, the old Vicarage having presumably become untenantable. Mr. Hawkins's successor, the Revd. Thomas Garnier (1835–40), who subsequently became Dean of Lincoln, spent over £900 in improving the new Vicarage and making it 'very commodious'. (fn. 344)
Since 1884 the living has ceased to be held by Fellows of All Souls, and since 1927 it has been held in plurality with the adjoining parishes of Adwell and South Weston, where the vicar lives. He also holds occasional services in the mission room (the former school) at Postcombe. When it was licensed for divine service by the Bishop of Oxford in 1936 communion was administered there about once a month at a portable altar. The building could seat about 30 persons. The vicar allowed two nonconformist young women to hold a Sunday school for a few children on Sunday afternoons. (fn. 345)
In the mid-19th century the parish was considerably reduced in size. First Ackhampstead chapelry was detached. The chapel, which lay several miles from the parish church, had been in existence since at least 1241. (fn. 346) It was dedicated to St. Mary de More (fn. 347) and was known as 'Morechapel'. (fn. 348) Although dependent on Lewknor church, it had some inpendence, having its own churchwardens (or chapelwardens) by at least 1686 and being licensed for all sacraments. (fn. 349) In the 13th century Mass was said there every Sunday, (fn. 350) but in the 18th century only afternoon services were held: once a month in winter and once a fortnight (at the end of the century once a month) in summer. (fn. 351) In 1849 the chapel was taken down and the district united to the parish of Hambleden (Bucks.). (fn. 352)
In 1851 the district church of St. Mary-le-Moor, 2 miles from the old chapel, was built in Cadmore End, (fn. 353) and the next year Lewknor Uphill, with part of Fingest (Bucks.) and Stokenchurch was formed into a consolidated chapelry. (fn. 354) In 1853 this area was made into a new ecclesiastical parish, (fn. 355) which in 1896 was transferred to Buckinghamshire. (fn. 356) The living is a perpetual curacy (although called a vicarage) in the gift of the Bishop of Oxford.
The dedication of the church of ST. MARGARET was originally St. Mary, (fn. 357) and, down to the inclosure, part of Lewknor town field was still known as St. Mary furlong. The adoption of St. Margaret as patronal saint no doubt derives from the holding of the village wake upon St. Margaret's day. (fn. 358)
The church is built of local flint with stone dressings, and comprises a chancel, nave, south aisle, and porch, a north transeptal chapel, and a western tower. Until the beginning of the 14th century it appears to have consisted of chancel, nave, and transeptal chapels all dating from the end of the 12th century. Of this late Romanesque church there remain the chancel arch, portions of the nave, the northern transeptal chapel, and the eastern respond of the arch to the southern transeptal chapel, now incorporated in the arcade of the 14th-century south aisle. The nave was lighted by lancets, of which two survive at the west end. Externally a portion of the original corbel-table can be seen on the south side of the nave towards the west end. The cylindrical font carved with a pattern of linked roundels also dates from the 12th century, and the iron hinges of the later west door appear to be of the same period. (fn. 359)
The chancel was rebuilt on a larger scale early in the 14th century. It is a fine example of 'Decorated' architecture, with a five-light east window and three three-light windows on either side. The priest's doorway, sedilia, and Easter sepulchre are all framed by elaborately crocketed canopies, and the pointing hand carved on the arch of the Easter sepulchre is an unusual feature. (fn. 360) The effigy now placed in the sepulchre is not in its original position. There is also a stone credence table projecting from the north wall.
The south aisle and porch were also added during the first half of the 14th century. The former is separated from the nave by an arcade of three arches. The battlemented west tower was built in the 15th century.
Apart from the font and a medieval parish chest the church now contains no ancient fittings, but Rawlinson saw a painting of Christ and the Twelve Apostles on the door that formerly opened into the north transeptal chapel. (fn. 361) It bore an inscription commemorating its donor, John Spynell (who is known to have been living in 1458), (fn. 362) and his wife Margaret.
John Bushell (vicar 1666–1715) let more light into the interior of the church by removing the door into the north chapel with its 15th-century painting and replacing it by a window. This done, the pulpit and reading-desk were moved into that corner of the building. (fn. 363) An inscription formerly on the chancel screen recorded that the church was 'beautified' in 1694. (fn. 364)
The north transeptal chapel had evidently been appropriated to the use of the lords of the manor, for the Rolles family are said to have used it as a burial place from time immemorial. In 1721 the parish at a vestry meeting formally accorded its use to the new lord, Paul Jodrell, and granted him permission to use it as a place of interment and to set up monuments within it. He on his part agreed to keep the chapel in repair for the future and to provide the church with a singers' gallery. (fn. 365)
The fabric was apparently neglected in the mid18th century. In 1759 the archdeacon had to order weeds, nettles, roots, and rubbish to be removed from the church walls, and ivy to be pulled out of the walls of the chancel. The pavement was to be made even in many places. (fn. 366)
At some time before 1822 a new roof was constructed. A drawing by Buckler of that date shows that the roof of the medieval church was once high pitched and had been lowered. The marks of the old roof were then visible on the tower. (fn. 367)
In the 19th century, during the incumbency of the Revd. E. B. Dean (1842–55), the chancel was completely restored at the charge of All Souls College. The restoration was carried out with considerable care in 1845 by an Oxford architect, Johnson. (fn. 368) His removal of the Caroline tombs from the east end set free the sedilia and revealed the credence table. On the other hand the tombs themselves are now seen to less advantage in their present position at the west end of the chancel, and they have lost the marble canopies that once surmounted them. The Victorian altar rails may have been substituted at this time for the twisted baluster rails of 1699.
The old pews had been taken out of the nave in 1836 and it had been reseated to accommodate a growing congregation. (fn. 369) Still it was reported in 1854 to be in very bad repair. (fn. 370) The gallery which Paul Jodrell had erected was now taken down, (fn. 371) and in 1863 a complete restoration of the nave and aisle was taken in hand. The work was entrusted to Arthur Blomfield. He removed the flat lead roof which had previously covered the nave and replaced it by a tiled roof of the original pitch. (fn. 372) The church was refloored in 1883. (fn. 373) The Jodrell chapel was restored in 1914 by Sir Alfred Jodrell. Electric light was installed in 1936. The organ was removed in 1949 from the south aisle to the west end of the church, so allowing the aisle to be refurnished as a chapel as a thank offering for the preservation of the church and parish in the Second World War.
A few small fragments of medieval stained glass have been worked into the heads of the chancel windows, and the old floor-tiles which were once scattered in various parts of the church have been brought together and laid down at the entry to the vestry. One medieval monument remains, the stone effigy of a lady in wimple and long gown, now lying in the chancel. Her arms, a shield semée of crosses patée, two trumpets in bend, (fn. 374) if correctly blazoned, point to Trumpington and perhaps show her to be a wife of the John Trompeton, who was one of the jurors of the parish in 1341. (fn. 375) On the chancel pavement there once lay the brass of the last rector, John de Aldebourne, who was still living in 1352, (fn. 376) a half figure with amice, alb, and an undated inscription. (fn. 377) The figure is now affixed to the south wall of the chancel, and a fragment of the inscription is on the north wall.
At least two brasses have disappeared; that which bore the effigies of John Rowsse, husbandman (d. 1485), and his wife, (fn. 378) and a brass plate to William Brooke, yeoman (bur. 1587). A fragment of a brass inscription which once marked the grave of Robert Knody (1465–1512) is now fixed to the north wall of the chancel, and there is also a brass inscription to Robert Whitton (d. 1611/12) and his wife Mary. If a wall-painting of the final Doom once occupied the usual position over the chancel arch, it disappeared in 1759 when the walls at the entry to the chancel were ordered to be scraped clean. (fn. 379)
Early in the reign of Charles I the appearance of the east end of the church was altered through the erection of two large tombs, one on either side of the altar. They have recumbent painted effigies and were originally surmounted by canopies on red marble pillars. One that has two children kneeling beneath commemorates William Deane of Nethercote (d. 1620) and his wife Isabel (d. 1624); the other is the tomb of Mrs. Deane's sister, Lady Dorothy Fleetwood (d. 1629), and of her husband Sir Thomas Fleetwood of Missenden (d. 1625). (fn. 380)
In the Jodrell chapel an immense wall monument (unsigned) commemorates the death of Paul Jodrell in 1728. The inscription gives details of his life and enumerates all the members of the Rolles family buried in the church since 1536. Another inscription records that the chapel was repaired by his son Paul Jodrell in 1734. A marble monument by P. Bazzanti of Florence was erected in 1833 to Richard Paul Jodrell (d. 1831). Inscriptions to Sir Richard Paul Jodrell, 2nd Bt. (d. 1861), to the Revd. Sir Edward Repps Jodrell, 3rd Bt. (d. 1882), and to others of the family have been added. There are wall tablets to Elizabeth Jodrell (d. 1794), to Henry Jodrell (d. 1814), and to Lucinda Lady Jodrell (d. 1888) by Gaffin of Regent St., London. There is also a lifesized marble effigy of the Revd. Sir Edward Repps Jodrell (d. 1882) by Sir J. E. Boehm, Bt. (fn. 381)
The following memorials are also in the church: a marble wall monument (unsigned) with bust of John Scrope, Secretary of the Treasury (d. 1752); marble tablets to Frances Samwell (d. 1730), daughter and coheiress of Arthur Samwell; Prudence Lenten (d. 1731), widow of Heritage Lenten of Nethercote; Francis Fane (d. 1757), nephew of John Scrope; Mrs. Charlotte Fane (d. 1758), wife of Henry Fane; the Revd. Thomas Skeeler (d. 1763), vicar, and his wife Jane and son Francis; and to Charles Botterell Hawkins, vicar for 40 years (d. 1835). There are brass inscriptions to members of the Fane family of Wormsley: to Maj. John Augustus Fane (d. 1908), Col. John William Fane (d. 1875), John H. Scrope Fane (d. 1928), and to Francis Luther Fane (d. 1954).
There were once memorial inscriptions that have been removed in the course of the various restorations: to John Bushell, vicar (d. 1715); to Heritage Lenten, Esq., of Nethercote (d. 1715); to Francis Bernard (d. 1715), Rector of Brightwell (Berks.), and a number of other inscriptions to children of the Rolles, Croke, and Winlow families. (fn. 382)
Stained glass was placed in the west window of the tower in 1883–7 as a memorial to the Revd. Sir Edward Repps Jodrell, Bt. Two of the chancel windows contain glass in the pre-Raphaelite style dated 1863 and 1868. In 1936 a stained glass window designed by J. C. Powell & Sons, London, was erected in the nave to the memory of the Revd. M. B. Thurburn (vicar 1920–34) and his wife.
The chantry commissioners of 1552 found two chalices without covers. (fn. 383) The church now owns an engraved silver chalice and paten cover, both of 1576, and a plain silver paten of 1658. (fn. 384) In 1553 there was a ring of four bells and a sanctus bell. Before 1950, when a new treble bell was added, there were five bells, all of them with inscriptions, such as 'Feare God', 'Hope in God', and 'Prayes God'. Two were dated 1636, and the whole ring was by Ellis Knight I. The ancient bells now stand at the west end of the church. There is also a sanctus bell of 1744. (fn. 385)
The registers date from 1666. (fn. 386)
The recusant returns of the early 17th century give the names of Robert Bethom and William Chawford, both gentlemen, and of two others, one a yeoman. (fn. 387) At the beginning of the 18th century a labourer and a brickmaker are listed. (fn. 388) In 1717 two Roman Catholics owned land in the parish, John Brinkhurst of Great Marlow (Bucks.), and Maurice Belson of Brill. (fn. 389) The Scoles, a prominent Roman Catholic family of Shirburn, may have descended from the Scoles of Lewknor, but they are not known to have been recusants in Lewknor. (fn. 390)
Protestant nonconformity evidently developed during the Interregnum. In 1652 the Berkshire Baptist Association was founded at Wormsley House, the home of the regicide Adrian Scrope. (fn. 391) In 1669 there were reported to be meetings in the houses of Thomas Stevens, William North, Christopher North, and a Mr. Huish, and especially at Wormsley House. The congregation of about 30 were Anabaptists and were taught by a Mr. Collins. (fn. 392) The Compton Census in 1676, however, gives only eight nonconformists, probably as a result of the activities of the vicar, John Bushell, who was active in suppressing them. (fn. 393) In about 1685 the numbers had fallen to four. (fn. 394)
Except for one Anabaptist, a farmer's wife, recorded in 1738, (fn. 395) there was apparently no 18thcentury dissent, but during the first half of the 19th century dissent made some progress. In 1818, 1825, 1832, 1834, 1840, and 1849 meeting-houses for unspecified denominations were licensed in Lewknor and Postcombe, (fn. 396) and in the census of 1851 a Wesleyan meeting-place with an average attendance of 25 was returned. (fn. 397) In the same year a cottage was licensed by the Independents, (fn. 398) but by 1857 there was only one meeting and the vicar said there were very few professed dissenters. (fn. 399)
In 1884 the Congregationalists reported that Postcombe had no 'place of worship whatsoever' and that it was suitable for 'aggressive work'. Cottage services were begun. In 1885 the minister from Chinnor was holding regular services and later the hamlet was treated as an outstation of Tetsworth. In 1906 a meeting-place called New Hall was opened. (fn. 400)
The prevailing illiteracy of the early 18th century is attested by the orders made in the manor court in 1719, to which three out of the ten signatories affixed their mark, being incapable of writing their names. (fn. 401) There was a dame school at Nethercote by 1771, (fn. 402) but ten years later the schoolhouse was bought and pulled down by Mr. Jodrell. (fn. 403) In 1790 there was only 'a trifling day school'. (fn. 404) Things had improved by 1808, for by that time a Sunday school had been established in the church, and there were besides four private schools within the parish where children could learn to read and say the Catechism, and in one of which the children were also taught writing and cyphering. Together they had about 32 pupils. (fn. 405) By 1818, however, all the day-schools had come to an end, but nonconformist competition had temporarily increased the number of Sunday schools to four. The vicar observed that a dissenting Sunday school had been completely superseded by a Church of England one. (fn. 406) Yet apart from Sunday schools and a dame school, where in 1833 10 to 20 boys and girls learned to read and the girls were taught to make lace, (fn. 407) there was no permanent provision for primary education until 1836. In that year the vicar, Thomas Garnier, finding a large proportion of his parishioners to be illiterate, persuaded All Souls College to buy some old cottages adjoining the churchyard, (fn. 408) and on their site he erected a school building with two large classrooms and a school house for a master and a mistress. (fn. 409) This continued to be run as a National school, vested, since 1859, in the vicar and churchwardens. (fn. 410) In 1854, therefore, the vicar was able to report not only that there was a night school for boys in winter, but that both boys and girls went to school daily. (fn. 411) Attendance rose steadily during most of the 19th century; in 1867 there were 55 pupils and 87 in 1890, but by 1903 the number had declined to 74 pupils. (fn. 412) In 1878 the vicar said that he gave religious instruction twice a week in the school and also taught physical training twice a week. (fn. 413)
The school became a junior school in 1929. It then had 52 pupils; the seniors went to Chinnor. Lewknor school became a controlled school in 1950. In 1956 children from South Weston, then part of the civil parish, also attended it. The seniors went to Watlington. (fn. 414)
In 1861 a site was acquired in Postcombe to build a school for the poor of Lewknor and Adwell. The Rector of Adwell and the Vicar of Lewknor were to be the trustees with one other, at first H. Birch Reynardson of Adwell House. (fn. 417) Birch Reynardson is believed to have built the school and it was perhaps the same as the private church school returned under Lewknor in 1871. (fn. 418) There were 30 children in a mixed and infants' school at Postcombe in 1872, but the school did not receive a government grant. (fn. 419) It probably ceased to be used as a school at the end of the 19th century for there was no mention of it after 1887 and in 1946 the vicar said that the school had ceased 'many years since'. (fn. 420)
By 1738 the interest on £20, given by an unknown person at an unknown date, was being distributed to the poor. (fn. 421) In about 1775 the capital was lent to a parishioner, who paid interest on it at 20s., which was given to the poor. In 1808 this was repaid by the borrower's son-in-law and for some years thereafter the proceeds were carried to the general parish account and not applied to the relief of the poor. (fn. 422) It was found in 1829 that fourteen years' interest was due to the poor. The sum of £29 was then raised by a rate and by a donation from Edward Jodrell. Interest, amounting to £14, was then distributed in clothing to the poor of Lewknor and Postcombe, and the remaining £15 invested. By 1867 the latter sum had risen to £16 7s. 11d. and by a Scheme of that year was vested in the vicar and churchwardens for the benefit of the poor. (fn. 423)
In 1612 Dame Dorothy Edmunds settled in trust on the overseers of the poor of Lewknor a rent charge of £3 9s. 8d. out of lands in Bledlow (Bucks.). The rent had fallen to £2 15s. by c. 1822 when it was distributed in small sums at Christmas to all the poor of Lewknor, whether or not they received relief. By that time the poor of Postcombe had ceased to participate. (fn. 424) The rent fell still further in the 19th century, and was paid at the rate of £2 13s. in 1955. (fn. 425)
William Deane, by will dated 1644, charged his estate of Nethercote with a rent of £5 to be paid at Lady Day to the poor of the parish but especially his poor tenants of Nethercote. About 1822 Richard Paul Jodrell, lord of Nethercote, paid £4, £1 having been deducted for land tax. Of this £1 16s. was used to educate five poor children of Lewknor and the rest distributed in small sums to the poor of Lewknor and Postcombe, since there were at the time no poor in Nethercote. (fn. 426) It was redeemed in 1937 for £160 stock. (fn. 427)
Since at least 1948 the three foregoing charities, amounting in all to £7 1s. annually, have been distributed at Christmas in cash at 7d. a head to all families who apply. These doles have been known as 'head money' since at least 1936. (fn. 428)
Sir Richard Paul Jodrell, Bt., by will proved 1861 left £100 stock the proceeds of which were to be distributed on Christmas Day in clothing or blankets to those necessitous families who were the most regular churchgoers and who maintained the largest families with the least parochial relief. Similar charities were left for the benefit of families in Stokenchurch and elsewhere. (fn. 429) Between 1948 and 1955 the income amounted to £2 10s. In 1948–50 it was distributed in clothing vouchers or goods and in 1951–5 in cash to poor or aged people. (fn. 430)
Charles Davis, by will proved 1863, left £500, the proceeds to be distributed in bread each Friday to poor or infirm persons settled in Lewknor and Postcombe. (fn. 431) Between 1948 and 1955 the income amounted to £12 10s. yearly and was distributed in bread to recipients normally numbering between 60 and 70. (fn. 432)
By deed of 1920 Sir Alfred Jodrell, Bt. (d. 1929), of Bayfield Hall (Norf.), settled in trust a sum of money for the benefit of two named persons and thereafter for certain specified charities, mainly in Norfolk. The charity moneys became payable in 1935. By a Charity Commission Scheme of 1937 the benefaction was divided into five distinct parts, one of which, amounting to £1,145 stock and cash, was allotted, in pursuance of Jodrell's intention, to the upkeep, cleaning, and repair of the Jodrell chapel in Lewknor church. (fn. 433) By another Scheme of 1954 the trustees were authorized to spend any excess of the accumulated income over £300 upon the upkeep of Lewknor church, though preferably upon that part of it that contained or adjoined the chapel. (fn. 434) In 1953 the accumulated balance in hand amounted to £504. (fn. 435)