A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 9, Bloxham Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
This small and narrow parish lies in the Oxfordshire wolds some 2½ miles north-west of Banbury. (fn. 1) In 1881 it covered 926 a. and in 1932, after a part had been annexed to Banbury, 871 a. (fn. 2) A tributary of the River Cherwell forms most of its long western boundary and divides it from Wroxton. Its southern boundary with Broughton is artificial. The parish lies within the 400 and 500 ft. contours, and is characterized by woodless undulating fields and valleys. There is no natural woodland, but its upland aspect was diversified after inclosure, some of it of 17th-century date, with timbered hedges. Trees have been planted, by the Norths, on the hill slopes between Park Farm and the boundary with Wroxton so that this part of the parish has the appearance of park land. There is a small covert in the south near Withycombe Farm. Withycombe, probably meaning willow valley, (fn. 3) gives a clue to the early character both of this part of the parish and of the western valley where Drayton village itself lies.
The road from Banbury divides ½ mile to the east of the village, one branch continuing northwards to Hanwell, the other going west to Wroxton and Alkerton. Banbury way, Bloxham path, and the highway called Drayton lane, are mentioned in a terrier of 1601. (fn. 4) A Drayton lane turnpike committee met in 1753 under the chairmanship of Francis, Earl of Guilford, and in March 1754 Drayton lane was being levelled for the turnpike road through Wroxton and Upton. (fn. 5) That economy was observed is suggested by one man's request to have charge of the turnpike gate if it was fixed at Drayton Town's End: as his house stood near the road, it could be used and would save the expense of building one. (fn. 6) Conditions before the turnpike was made are described in the Act of 1747: the road for several months of the year was dangerous for horsemen and almost impassable for carriages.
In the 19th century a mineral railway was built in the north of the parish in connexion with the ironstone works. (fn. 7)
The good water supply and the sheltered slopes of the valley probably attracted early settlers. Roman remains—the tessellated pavement of a villa and coins (fn. 8) — have been found near the church, lying on the 400 ft. contour on the hillside above the stream; hereabouts was the nucleus of the original village. The first element of the name Drayton derives from the Old English drag which is sometimes used of a portage, (fn. 9) and the village may have got its name because of the necessity of pulling corn from the mill and other goods up and down the steep valley sides.
The modern village is mostly scattered along the curving road to Wroxton on a rocky hill about 450 ft. up, (fn. 10) but there are still (1964) 3 cottages in the valley to the south-west of the church where the mill lay. (fn. 11) As the agricultural land was comparatively restricted the village was never large. In 1377 only 47 persons were assessed for poll tax; (fn. 12) the total male population of 18 years and over in 1642 probably numbered 51, a figure which agrees fairly well with the 104 adults recorded for the Compton Census of 1676; (fn. 13) according to 18th-century incumbents there were c. 20 families. (fn. 14) It was believed, however, that the village had once been larger. Rawlinson, writing in 1718, said that Drayton formerly called 'Little London', had suffered from fire and that burnt stones were frequently dug up. There were about 34 houses in his time. (fn. 15) In the 19th century there was a marked increase in population, numbers rising from 183 in 1801 to 224 in 1831. (fn. 16) In 1841 there were 42 houses and by 1868 these were mostly in a bad state. (fn. 17) Thereafter there was a decline until the expansion of industry at Banbury after the First World War attracted workers to the village. In 1931 the population numbered 210 compared with 172 in 1901, (fn. 18) and numbers have since continued to rise.
In the later 17th century there were 3 fair-sized houses in the village: the parsonage which was assessed on 5 hearths for the Hearth Tax of 1665 and 2 farm-houses assessed at 7 and 5 hearths; there were also 6 small farm-houses, assessed at 1 or 2 hearths each and an unknown number of cottages. (fn. 19) The largest farm-house, then occupied by John Cleaver, was probably the old manor-house of the Ardens and Grevilles, which has now totally disappeared. In the Middle Ages it must have been a considerable building: in 1329 Sir Robert Arden was licensed to crenellate it (fn. 20) and in the late 14th and 15th centuries it was the principal seat of the Greville family. (fn. 21) Sir Lewis Greville was outlawed in 1406 for receiving in his house an Alkerton man, who had committed murder, and for 'consorting in the crime'. (fn. 22) When Leland visited the village about 1540 a Greville was still living there, though in impoverished circumstances. (fn. 23) In the late 16th century the Greville's house was occupied by the wealthy yeoman Thomas Webb; after the murder of his brother Richard by Lewis Greville, (fn. 24) the manorial estate was split up and the village never again had a resident lord of the manor. In 1819 Brewer stated that the mansion, once of 'some importance', lay on the south-east side of the church and that the remains of the building were used as a poor-house. (fn. 25) By 1841 the house had entirely gone. (fn. 26)
The 16th-century parsonage-house stood on the site of the present large 19th-century rectory-house, the cellars of which are of 17th-century date. (fn. 27) This house was occupied by a number of rectors in the 16th and 17th centuries who were leaders of the Puritan movement in the English church; their memorials remain not only in stone in the church but in the their theological writings. (fn. 28) A bill of 1674 for repairs to the parsonage, the barn, and the stable, survives and it includes a sum for wainscoting the parlour. (fn. 29) In 1862 this house was pulled down and rebuilt to the designs of A. W. Blomfield. (fn. 30) A photograph of the earlier house shows a 2-storied house with attics, a thatched roof, and sash windows. (fn. 31)
The second large farm-house of 1665, then occupied by Elias Jackman, father of a Rector of Wigginton, (fn. 32) can perhaps be identified with the present Park Farm, which belonged to the Norths' estate and was bought in 1935 by Trinity College, Oxford. (fn. 33) This connexion with the North family perhaps explains the 18th-century castellated archway, standing on high ground in the fields of Park Farm, which was evidently a part of the design for landscaping the park at Wroxton on the opposite hillside. The detail of this 'folly' strongly suggests that Sanderson Miller was the architect, as he was of other ornamental buildings in Wroxton Park. Park Farm itself stands just above the church and is a house of 2 stories. It seems to have been built originally on the 2-unit plan, common in this area, with kitchen and parlour on either side of a through passage, but it has been added on to at both ends. (fn. 34) On a panel over the front door is the date 1683 and the initials C.J.G.
The Roebuck Inn probably dates from the same period. It is a 2-storied building of coursed rubble, which retains some stone-mullioned windows of 2 and 3 lights, with square moulded labels, and a doorway with a classical architrave and cornice. (fn. 35) The earliest record of licences being issued to Drayton victuallers, however, is between 1753 and 1772. In 1782 the innkeepers of both the 'Roebuck' and the 'Hare and Hounds' were licensed. (fn. 36) The second house is not recorded after 1806, perhaps because the traffic on the road was not sufficient to supply 2 inns at such a short distance from Banbury, but the 'Roebuck' flourished.
Although there was no resident squire in the 18th century, his place was taken in the second half of the century by the Metcalfe family, which presumably lived at Drayton Lodge, (fn. 37) a late 18th-century house in the north of the parish. It appears to be on the site of an older one and, though now a farm-house, there are indications that this was once a gentleman's residence; the grounds have fine trees planted in them and there are fishponds nearby. The Metcalfes supported the school and endowed a charity. The 'benevolent, munificent, and charitable' Elizabeth Metcalfe (d. 1791) is commemorated in the church.
Another outlying house is Drayton Fields Farm, built after the inclosure of the open fields in 1802. Withycombe farm-house dates from the 17th century; it is a 2-storied ashlar house with attic dormers and has a few brick cottages nearby, built in 1881.
There was some 18th- and 19th-century rebuilding and expansion, when the traditional materials, ironstone rubble and thatch, were mostly used, although the elementary school of 1868 is of brick. Today the village has few ancient cottages left. The modern houses have not followed the traditional pattern but are built of red brick, roughcast, Welsh slate, and various types of tile.
Manor and Other Estates. (fn. 38)
The English thegn, Turchil of Arden, was one of the few Englishmen to retain land after the Conquest and in 1086 he was still holding 5 hides at DRAYTON. (fn. 39) But when William II created the Earldom of Warwick, probably in 1089, he gave Turchil's estates to Henry, the first earl. (fn. 40) Henceforth until the 1380s the Arden family held by knight service of the earls of Warwick. Although the Ardens were holding land in Warwickshire and elsewhere in the 12th century, (fn. 41) no reference to their tenancy of Drayton has been found before 1204, when a Thomas Arden is recorded as holding a ½ fee there. (fn. 42) There is considerable doubt about the identity of this Thomas. The 17th-century pedigrees disagree but according to Dugdale he was the son of William Arden of Radbourn, a younger son of Henry Arden, who was directly descended from Turchil; Henry's eldest son was Thomas (I) Arden whose son and heir was Thomas (II), who married Eustacia. (fn. 43) Thomas, son of William, again according to Dugdale, married Lucy and was lord of Drayton, which must have reverted to the senior branch in about 1224. Sir Thomas Arden, presumably Lucy's husband, presented to the church in 1223, but in 1224, when a plea was heard about land in Drayton, Thomas was said to be dead. (fn. 44) In 1229 Thomas (III) Arden, son and heir of Thomas (II), of the senior line, seems to have been in possession of Drayton. In the same year his mother Eustacia, the relict of Thomas (II), who no doubt already held part of the manor in dower, was also at law about Drayton land. (fn. 45) In 1243 Eustacia was returned as holding the whole vill in dower and in 1248 she was evidently holding the advowson also. (fn. 46) She was a sister of Savari de Mauléon, a Poitevin favourite of Henry III. (fn. 47) She clearly lived to a great age: in 1272 she may have been dead when Thomas alone was returned as lord. (fn. 48) There is no reference to her at Drayton after 1243, but it may be supposed that she was still in possession at the time of her death.
Eustacia's sucessor at Drayton as in her other manors was evidently her son Thomas, but in the 1280s he seems to have been in financial difficulties and was alienating his lands. (fn. 49) He had been one of the barons to rebel against Henry III, he was taken prisoner at Evesham, (fn. 50) and that, as Dugdale guessed, was probably 'the ruin of him'. (fn. 51) In 1281 he granted lands in Warwickshire to Sir Thomas Arden of Hanwell. (fn. 52) It was alleged in 1375 that he had also granted him Drayton juxta Hanwell (fn. 53) and there seems no reason to doubt this. The relationship of these two Thomases has not been fully established. Some 17th-century pedigrees make Sir Thomas of Hanwell the son of Eustacia, but this is demonstrably false. Dugdale makes him an Arden of Radbourn. (fn. 54) It may be that he was a younger son of William Arden (fl. 1267) but if so he certainly never held Radbourn. (fn. 55) He married Rose, the daughter of Ralph Vernon, and thereby obtained an estate in Hanwell; (fn. 56) he is known to have gone on an expedition to Wales in 1277; (fn. 57) and he was in debt in 1281. (fn. 58) It is difficult to distinguish him with certainty from his more important relative Sir Thomas of Ratley (Warws.), (fn. 59) but Dugdale stated that he had found 'little memorable about him'. (fn. 60) He died some time before 1306 when his relict Rose was assessed for tax on Drayton. (fn. 61) In the following year she obtained the grant of a chantry in Godstow nunnery for the soul of her late husband. (fn. 62) It is possible that he was the Thomas of Arden who was killed at Hamstall Ridware (Staffs.) in 1299, (fn. 63) but this was more probably Sir Thomas of Ratley.
Rose presumably held Drayton in dower for she was still in possession in January 1316, (fn. 64) apparently the year of her death, for Sir Robert Arden was returned as lord the same year and was assessed for tax levied in 1316 on Drayton. (fn. 65) Rose's lands mainly descended to her son Ralph, (fn. 66) but she had already granted Drayton in 1309–10 to Sir Robert Arden and his heirs, arranging to hold it of him during her life. (fn. 67) The relationship of this Sir Robert is by no means certain. He may possibly have been an elder brother of Sir Thomas of Hanwell. (fn. 68) He was in any case an important knight possessed of many manors in Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, and Sussex; he was on the king's side in the baronial wars and in 1322 Banbury Castle was in his keeping. (fn. 69) In 1329 he was licensed to crenellate his Drayton house. (fn. 70) He died in 1331 and his relict Nicole subsequently married Sir Thomas Wale who is found holding the family's Sussex property in 1332 and 1349. (fn. 71) Nicole probably held Drayton in dower, for Sir Thomas presented to Drayton church in 1342, 1344, and 1349, and was returned as holding 1 fee in Drayton in 1346. (fn. 72) She seems to have been still alive in 1356 when Sir Giles Arden was pardoned for outlawry incurred because he had disseised her of her rents in Duns Tew. (fn. 73)
On Nicole's death Drayton reverted to this Giles, the son and heir of her first husband. (fn. 74) In 1366 his tenure was disputed by Elizabeth of Swinford, who claimed possession as the descendant of Sir Thomas Arden of Hanwell and Rose Vernon. She claimed to be the great-grand-daughter of Thomas, grandson of Sir Thomas Arden of Hanwell, but the defence asserted that this Thomas was a bastard and she evidently lost her case. (fn. 75) Sir Giles died in 1376 and, as his only son Sir Giles (II), predeceased him, his lands descended to his grandchildren, Margaret and Joan, both minors. (fn. 76) Their inheritance, according to Leland, had been greatly enlarged by their father's marriage with Philippa, 'a woman borne to faire landes'. (fn. 77) Sir Henry Arden, the children's cousin, was made guardian, and in 1380 he leased twothirds of Drayton manor to the Rector of Drayton, (fn. 78) the other third being held as dower by Sir Giles's widow Margaret. (fn. 79) In 1384 or 1385 she and her second husband Walter Power leased her life interest in Drayton to Sir Richard Abberbury. (fn. 80) Meanwhile the remaining two-thirds had reverted to the Crown on the ground that Sir Giles had held in chief, and in 1381 this portion was committed to the custody of Sir Reynold de Malyns during the minority of the co-heirs. (fn. 81)
The eldest girl, Margaret, married Lewis Greville, son and heir of William Greville of Chipping Campden (Glos.). (fn. 82) Lewis was evidently lord in 1398 when he presented to the church; he was recorded as such in 1417 and 1428. (fn. 83) Margaret's sister Joan married Sir Richard Archer, (fn. 84) and the Archers appear to have surrendered their claim to half the manor to the Grevilles, (fn. 85) for no evidence of two manors in Drayton during the 15th century has been found. Lewis Greville died in 1438 (fn. 86) and was followed by his son William, and then by his grandson and great-grandson Ralph and John. (fn. 87) Both William and Ralph married heiresses. (fn. 88) Sir Edward Greville (d. 1528/9), John's son, and his wife Ann were at law over the manor in 1507, and Sir Edward's son John may have been in possession by 1523, when he presented to the church. (fn. 89) It was of this Greville, presumably, that Leland wrote. He said that he was a man of 400 marks a year, though the family possessed court rolls showing that the property was once worth 3,300 marks a year; the land had been enfeoffed to the use of a certain 'mean gentleman' of Drayton and he had sold much of it and diverted some to his own heirs. (fn. 90) Sir John died in 1548 and was followed by his son Sir Edward (d. 1559 or 1560), and his grandson Lewis (II) Greville (fn. 91) who, owing to his extravagant mode of life, was forced to sell in 1565 to Thomas Webb. (fn. 92)
Webb, a wealthy yeoman whose family may possibly have been tenants of the manor for over 100 years, (fn. 93) was still holding the whole manor in 1575 when the sheriff reported that he was a man of great wealth and had purchased Drayton manor. (fn. 94) He had died before 1588 when his relict Katherine and his brother Richard were claiming his lands in Drayton from Lewis Greville. (fn. 95) This dispute ended tragically. It seems that Greville invited Richard Webb to stay at his Sezincote house in Gloucestershire with the object of obtaining all his property by trickery. The man was persuaded, while drunk, to make a will in Greville's favour and was then murdered. The crime was discovered and in 1589 Greville, who refused to plead, was found guilty and pressed to death at Warwick. (fn. 96)
Meanwhile Drayton manor had been divided into four; in 1587 and Easter 1588 Richard Webb had sold or leased two separate quarters to John Fox and William Buckbye. (fn. 97) Fox died in 1593 and left the whole site of the manor-house and his share of the manor to his wife and son for their lives. (fn. 98) William Buckbye sold or leased his share to William Saunders of Welford (Northants.) in 1590. (fn. 99)
It is not clear how the dominant share of the manor and advowson came into the hands of Sir Anthony Cope of Hanwell, but he presented in 1598 and again in 1607, (fn. 100) and in 1602 he settled the manor on William his son and Elizabeth Chaworth on the occasion of their marriage. (fn. 101) There is no doubt that the manor was divided at this time, for in 1602 Sir Anthony Cope received fractions of one eighth and one fortieth from two different sources, (fn. 102) and c. 1630 the manor was still made up of four separate parts. (fn. 103) William Cope succeeded his father in 1614 (fn. 104) and the manor descended directly with the Cope family of Hanwell until in 1676 Mary Gerard, relict of Anthony Cope (d. 1675), (fn. 105) was declared insane. Sir Anthony's younger brother Sir John succeeded, (fn. 106) and on his death in 1721 (fn. 107) Drayton passed to the Bruern Copes and so to Arabella Diana, daughter of Charles, 2nd. Bt., of Bruern. She married first John Frederick Sackville, Duke of Dorset (d. 1799), then Charles, Earl Whitworth (d. 1825), and died herself a few months after her second husband. (fn. 108) Her daughter and heir Elizabeth married George John West (afterwards Sackville-West), Earl de la Warr (d. 1869). Elizabeth, created Baroness Buckhurst, died in 1870. (fn. 109) The Norths of Wroxton already owned more than a third of the parish and the manorial rights passed to them, but have since lapsed. (fn. 110)
In about 1629 William Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele, bought 388 a. of the land of the manor, later Drayton farm and Withycombe, from Sir William Cope. (fn. 111) This property was settled in 1653 on Lord Saye and Sele's third son John Fiennes and his wife Susanna. (fn. 112) There is no record of its descent in the 17th century, but the property may have passed to their son Laurence Fiennes, who became Viscount Saye and Sele in 1710 and died in 1742, being succeeded by his cousin Richard, Viscount Saye and Sele (d. 1781). (fn. 113) By 1763, however, Drayton farm and Withycombe were in the possession of Francis North, Earl of Guilford (d. 1790). (fn. 114) The Norths thus came to hold more property than the lord of the manor, i.e. 326 a. of old inclosure in 1802. (fn. 115) The Drayton property followed the descent of the family's Wroxton manor, and was held by them until Trinity College, Oxford, purchased it in 1935 and 1942. (fn. 116)
In the Middle Ages local government was presumably conducted through the manorial courts. In 1329 Robert Arden was granted view of frankpledge, infangenetheof and outfangenetheof, and waif. (fn. 117)
No records of the vestry have survived. In the year 1775 to 1776 £42 was spent on relief out of £44 raised. This sum fell to £37 out of £50 between 1783 and 1785, but by 1803 had nearly trebled. Out of £212 raised, at a rate of 2s. 6d., £94 was spent on out-relief, another £94 on other objects, including the county rates and militia, and £23 on removals and other expenses. Twenty-six adults and children received permanent out-relief, and 4 adults were relieved occasionally. Seven of the 17 adults relieved were either over 60 or unable to work through illness. (fn. 118) Expenditure was still at a high level in 1834–5, for of £171 raised £129 10s. was spent on relief. (fn. 119) The parish became part of the Banbury Union, and in 1851 the cost of relief was still high: £129 raised by a rate of 2s. 5½d. on a rateable value of £1,059. (fn. 120)
In 1066 the manor was worth £5, but its value rose after the Conquest to £8 in 1086. (fn. 121) In the latter year there was land for 5 ploughs, although in fact 6 were kept, 3 on Turchil of Arden's demesne farm and 3 in the hands of the peasants. There was a mill rendering 4s. The recorded population consisted of 12 villani and 4 bordars, and of 2 serfs on the demesne. (fn. 122)
No record of Drayton's economic condition has been found again before the early 14th century when between 15 and 20 tenants were listed on the tax rolls of 1306, 1316, and 1327. The village was clearly neither populous nor rich: nearly half the assessment of 1306 was paid by the lady of the manor; the highest assessments of 4s. and 3s. were again paid by the lord in 1316 and 1327, while all save 2 of the other contributors paid less than 2s. each. (fn. 123) Robert Arden's attempt to foster the prosperity of the village by obtaining the grant of a yearly fair there in 1329 had little apparent success. (fn. 124) For the tax of 1334 Drayton's assessment was the lowest in the hundred. (fn. 125) In 1523 there were 10 contributors paying small sums; only the lord of the manor was taxed on land and he paid the comparatively modest sum of £1. (fn. 126) The village remained small and poor in the 17th century; there were 12 contributors to the hearth tax in 1662 and 9 in 1665, of which 2 were discharged on account of poverty. (fn. 127)
Drayton remained partly an open-field parish until the early 19th century. The earliest description of the lay-out of the fields occurs in 17th-century terriers. In 1607 2 yardlands of glebe lay mostly consolidated in blocks of 12, 19, and 20 'lands' in Withycombe, the Close, and the water-furrows. The glebe also included a meadow called 'Parsons Ham' near the mill brook, and there were common rights for 10 cows and a bull in Withycombe between 14 September and 11 November, and for 80 sheep and 4 horses after Lammas (1 August). (fn. 128) Open-field agriculture is illustrated more clearly in a terrier of 1699 of a ¼ yardland, which lay in butts, balks, ridged acres and 'lands' in the field, and included leys, meadow ground, and 1 cowcommon. (fn. 129) By this date the field was divided into quarters, implying a 4-course rotation, a practice followed in the 17th century in many north Oxfordshire parishes. (fn. 130) In the early Middle Ages there had been 2 fields, South and East Field, (fn. 131) and there is no evidence of an intervening stage of 3 fields. The open fields lay to the north-east of the parish near the Banbury road. Nickling Lane Quarter, for example, included a hedge 158 yards long between Drayton and Hanwell Fields. (fn. 132) By 1802, the date of the inclosure award, only 198 a. were uninclosed. Holdings still included rights in the cow-pasture and Town Green. (fn. 133) Early inclosure for sheep and cattle farming had probably been encouraged by the thriving Banbury cloth industry and made easier by the fewness and poverty of the inhabitants.
In Elizabeth I's reign most tenants of the manor were customary tenants. They usually took their tenements for life although a widow could continue to hold her tenement during her widowhood. A customary tenant was admitted in the court by the steward on payment of 1d. and the heriot due was his best beast or piece of property; one heriot, for example, was a black horse. (fn. 134) When Thomas Webb purchased the manor in 1565, he inclosed Withycombe Field which lay compactly in adjoining furlongs. (fn. 135) He was said to have converted in all 17 yardlands from tillage to pasture, 'the most part of Drayton manor', and to have reduced the number of ploughs from 14 to one. The value of the manor had increased from £40 to £340 a year, but the tenants accused Webb of unjust dealing. (fn. 136) They accused him of depriving the customary tenants of 5 houses, 16 yards of arable, and the appurtenant meadow, whereby they would be 'utterly undone', for it was their beasts' common and they could not live without it. (fn. 137) It was said that previously the lord of the manor had kept only 200 sheep in Withycombe, in the due season, but Webb retorted that the demesne lands lay together and that he could improve them, while he was willing to offer the tenants commons elsewhere. The tenants were only customary tenants, admitted for life in the manor court at the will of the lord, and Webb reminded them that they paid only 1d. for an entry fine although as lord he could exact £10 from them. The former lord of the manor, Lewis Greville, and two gentlemen of the neighbourhood, Richard Fiennes and George Danvers, had been chosen by the tenants to mediate, but no settlement had been reached. (fn. 138) The Court of Requests decided in favour of the plaintiffs, but probably Webb was induced to offer more favourable terms and the land was inclosed, for there is no later record of tenants' common rights in Withycombe. Moreover, in 1637 a number of the older inhabitants, some of over 80 years of age, when questioned on the 'decay of tillage' in Drayton, said that part of the parish had been inclosed before they were born, and that the Fiennes property in particular was ancient inclosure. It had once mostly been 'a park wood and warren ground', and was demesne land, belonging to the manor-house. (fn. 139) The Fiennes property adjoined their North Newington land in Broughton and lay mainly in the south around Withycombe, where they had bought some 388 a. in about 1629 from Sir William Cope of Hanwell. (fn. 140) In the 1630s this comprised Withycombe pasture and meadow (150 a.), High Field or Great Ground (100 a.) near Drayton village, again pasture, and 4 other closes (30 a., 20 a., 48 a., and 40 a.) lying on the east side of the brook between Drayton and North Newington. (fn. 141) Withycombe had formerly been open pasture ground but in 1635 it was described as inclosed. This land had all been pasture and meadow at one time, but in about 1627–9 Sir William Cope ploughed some of it, and in 1635 Elms close (48 a.) and Baynford's meadows (40 a.) were described as 'lately ploughed'. (fn. 142) When Lord Guilford bought Withycombe farm in 1764 he paid £2,150 for it. (fn. 143) At the time of the inclosure in 1802 there were about 666 a. of ancient inclosure and of the 17 people holding or occupying farm land in the parish only 3 seem to have had land in the open field. In particular Drayton farm (198 a.), Withycombe farm (125 a.), and 4 other holdings of between 40 and 140 a. were inclosed. (fn. 144)
The type of farming practised before inclosure can be deduced from the inventories of local farmers. In the late 17th century, for example, wheat, barley, oats, and peas were the chief crops mentioned; sheep, cattle, and in particular horses, a feature of these northern parishes, were kept. In 1668 the rector had corn in the field (worth £22) as well as hay, and a crop of oats (worth £52), and a rick of wheat in the barn; he also had horses and colts worth £20 and kept a bull. (fn. 145) A yeoman farmer, who died in the same year, had 2 wheat ricks (worth £23), barley, peas, and hay, and 97 sheep; and although he was only taxed on a single hearth in 1665 the total valuation of his goods came to the comparatively large sum of £270. (fn. 146) There is little doubt that the progressive farmers were those with inclosed land, where there was more scope for good husbandry. On Withycombe farm in 1764 both rye grass and clover were grown and in 1765 it was all grazing ground. (fn. 147) It is noteworthy that in 1809 Thomas Payne, who owned 140 a., and his brother James Payne, who occupied 43 a., both farms of 'old inclosures', were praised for their 'willingness to experiment'. Thomas Payne considered that the Drayton soil was 'too loose and hollow' for wheat, but that it could produce fine turnips, barley, peas, beans, and oats. According to Arthur Young, Payne carted off 20 loads of turnips an acre and still left 'a good sprinkling' for sheep. The brothers experimented with the cultivation of carrots, parsnips, lucerne, and rhubarb, and particularly with cabbages, which they advocated as 'superior to all other plants' for stock. (fn. 148)
By the inclosure award of 1802 Charles, Lord Whitworth, received 36 p. for manorial rights in the waste, and 121 a. for his 9½ yardlands in the open fields; two others received 13 a. and 3 a. respectively. (fn. 149) At this date all save some 188 a. was tenantoccupied land, mainly belonging to the Earl of Guilford, Charles, Lord Whitworth, and the rector. (fn. 150) In 1831 the picture was much the same: there were 3 proprietors of land valued at over £150, 3 of land valued at between £28 and £87, one of them an owner-occupier, and 2 proprietors of land valued at £3 and £4. (fn. 151) In 1851 there were 3 farms of 180 a., 225 a. and 266 a. respectively, and one small one of 20 a. (fn. 152) Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries there continued to be 3 or 4 farmers in the parish. (fn. 153) An agricultural expert writing in 1854 described Drayton as being on some of the best red land in the country with soil well adapted for growing barley and turnips; he particularly mentioned good pasture and grazing land on which some of the best Cotswold sheep were reared. (fn. 154) In 1961 the farming was described as mixed. (fn. 155)
In the 19th century the inhabitants were mostly farmers and labourers, of whom some were shepherds. (fn. 156) There were also 4 families of weavers recorded throughout the century, probably plushweavers as in 1851, though one recorded in the 17th century was a silk-weaver. (fn. 157) There were also paper-makers, who were doubtless employed at North Newington paper-mill. (fn. 158)
Drayton church is not mentioned until 1223, (fn. 161) the date of the first recorded presentation. This was made by Sir Thomas Arden, lord of the manor, (fn. 162) and thereafter the advowson seems to have descended with the manor, (fn. 163) passing in the 14th century from the Ardens to Sir Thomas Wale, second husband of Nicole Arden, (fn. 164) then to the Grevilles by marriage, and in the 16th century to the Webbs. (fn. 165) In the 1580s the advowson, like the manor, was divided into quarters but by 1598 had been reunited in the hands of Sir Anthony Cope and thereafter continued to follow the descent of the manor. (fn. 166) In 1677, however, since Mary, Sir Anthony's relict, had been declared a lunatic, trustees presented, and again in 1683 and 1685, William Spencer, her guardian, acted on her behalf. (fn. 167) In 1688 John Dover of Barton-on-the-Heath (Warws.), who had presumably purchased a turn since Mary was still alive, presented his son. (fn. 168) In 1770 John Cleaver, possibly the previous incumbent, presented; (fn. 169) in 1813 Arabella Cope's husband, Lord Whitworth, did so, (fn. 170) and in 1858 the next turn was sold for £1,800 to Richard McDonald Caunter. Caunter intended to present his son, but in 1861 he accepted the rectory himself and was presented by the Earl and Countess de la Warr to whom the advowson had descended with the manor. It was afterwards held that Caunter had thereby lost his right to present his son in spite of having purchased a turn. (fn. 171) Charles, Earl de la Warr presented on Caunter's resignation in 1871, and the subsequent presentation was made in 1878 by the last incumbent's relict, Mrs. Hannah Roberts. Since 1905 the Oxford Trust has been the patron. (fn. 172)
The rectory was valued at £5 in 1254, at £7 6s. 8d. in 1291 and 1428, and at £13 6s. 6d. in 1526 and 1535. (fn. 173) At the end of the 18th century its annual value was £130, in 1831 the average net income was estimated at £316. (fn. 174)
This came from both tithes and glebe. At inclosure in 1802 c. 37 a. were allotted to the rector for tithes with an annual corn rent of £137, adjusted to £110 in 1920. (fn. 175) Judging from the land tax assessments the parson was better off after inclosure. (fn. 176)
The glebe was worth £4 in 1342 and in 1601 comprised 2 yardlands and commons for 10 cows and a bull, 80 sheep, and 4 horses. (fn. 177) A terrier of the rectory made in 1805 recorded about 40 a. of glebe, a house and out-buildings standing in nearly an acre of land, 2 cottages, and various appurtenances. (fn. 178) In 1918 the rector sold part of the glebe to the Oxford Ironstone Co., who sold it to Trinity College, Oxford. (fn. 179) In 1960 there were only 4½ a. of glebe left. (fn. 180)
A temporary vicarage was created by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1223 or 1224 to allow the rector to attend the schools at Oxford. The rector was to receive £2 a year and the vicar all the rest of the living. It was arranged that when the vicarage became vacant it was to be consolidated with the rectory provided that the rector had attended the schools and had studied properly. (fn. 181)
The church was not poor and as the parish was so small and Drayton not far from Oxford the living was sometimes used to subsidize scholars at Oxford; it frequently had graduates as rectors and often provided a comfortable living for the relations of patrons. For example William Wale, acolyte, was licensed to study in Oxford in 1335 and 1336, (fn. 182) and his patron, Sir Thomas Wale, was no doubt a kinsman. (fn. 183) The only known pluralist was Edmund Moore (rector 1523–47), who held a Warwickshire cure in 1535 and had a curate at Drayton to whom he paid £5 6s. 8d. (fn. 184) His predecessor, however, was also nonresident and had a curate, a canon of Wroxton, who resided in the abbey; his rectory was in lay ownership at the time of the bishop's visitation in 1518. (fn. 185) At the Reformation the parish had land for the maintenance of a light in the church. (fn. 186)
The rector subscribed to the Elizabethan settlement of 1559. Instituted in 1549 he had lived through all the religious changes of the period and had conformed. (fn. 187) However, with the presentation in 1598 of Robert Cleaver of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, a favourer of the Presbyterian discipline, (fn. 188) the parish became strongly Puritan. Cleaver was a friend of the leaders of the movement in north Oxfordshire, Harris of Hanwell and Whateley of Banbury, and was noted as 'a solid text man'. (fn. 189) He collaborated with John Dod of Hanwell in his work entitled An Exposition of the Ten Commandments and delivered many notable sermons. (fn. 190) He was later suspended from his ministry by Bishop Bridges of Oxford, for failing to comply with the ceremonial laid down in the Prayer Book. (fn. 191) His friends Dod and Lancaster (fn. 192) were also suspended and this 'darkening' of 'three shining stars' was described by a contemporary as a 'fearful eclipse upon the church'. (fn. 193) When Archbishop Bancroft, finding no compliance in the silenced pastor, tried to collate to Drayton by lapse, Sir Anthony Cope intervened. When sitting in Parliament he took one or two of his fellow members with him and presented his choice to the archbishop, who after a long struggle admitted him. (fn. 194) In 1607, therefore, Drayton was 'furnished with a godly prudent man' Henry Scudder (1607– 19). He was a Presbyterian of note: he and his brother-in-law William Whateley, Vicar of Banbury, whose life he wrote, and Robert Harris of Hanwell were accustomed to meet together weekly to translate and analyse chapters of the Bible. Scudder's devotional work The Christian's Daily Walk in Holy Securitie and Peace was widely read in the 17th century. (fn. 195) Drayton had other incumbents of puritanical views: Thomas Lodge, presented in 1619, 'a burning and a shining light' for 32 years, witnessed the will of Robert Cleaver who died in the parish in 1640; (fn. 196) and Robert Clarke, who resigned in 1677, was 'a pious and painful minister'. (fn. 197) Richard Coghlane (1652–68) was one of the comparatively rare Irishmen to hold a benefice in the county; his theological views are not known but he was clearly a man of learning and wealth, for on his death in 1668 his goods were valued at £401, of which nearly £77 was for books. (fn. 198) Adam Morton (1677–83), 'fidei antiquissime patronus strenuus', regarded the 'conventiclers' as 'seminaries of sedition and rebellion'. (fn. 199) His opinions are reflected in two books he left to his nephew along with his Bible—Cradock's Harmony of the Evangelists and Apostolical Historie. (fn. 200) With the institution of John Dover (1688–1725), who had started life as a barrister, there was a return to low church principles: an inscription to him in the chancel reads 'Lo, here your late unworthy rector lies, Who, though he's dead, loud as he can still cries, Repent'. Anthony Wood confirms that he was something of a sectary by saying that he was resorted to by many fanatical people. (fn. 201)
From the beginning of the 18th century the parish was served by curates. Dover or his successor employed a curate, (fn. 202) and Edmund Stone (rector 1742–69) lived at Chipping Norton, while his curate lived in Drayton parsonage and received £30 a year. At this time there were two services every Sunday and communion 4 times a year for which there were usually c. 40 communicants. Another pluralist followed Stone and lived at Bodicote and a third, William Lloyd (1813–61), was also Rector of Hanwell and twice obtained licence to be absent for a year from his cure in 1820 and 1832. (fn. 203) The unsatisfactory state of affairs at this period, despite the regular reports from churchwardens that all was well, is revealed in Lloyd's correspondence with the bishop over the charge of 3 guineas each Sunday made by his curate for serving the church during a vacancy of 22 weeks. Lloyd said that there were two or three clergymen in Drayton who would have done it for a guinea and that the curate's high charge was because he served the cure from Oxford, a distance of some 24 miles. (fn. 204) Of Lloyd himself, who had not been ordained when he was presented, the Archdeacon of Oxford wrote sternly that he was 'one of these galloping candidates who think nothing of their profession till their expected preferment is vacant'. (fn. 205) He did not appear to improve with age: he allowed the rectory-house to get in a very dilapidated state and so involved his successor in much trouble; as late as 1854 he was only administering communion four times a year and at great festivals. (fn. 206) With his successor, however, Drayton at last obtained a resident rector and monthly celebrations of communion. (fn. 207) The Tractarian movement passed Drayton by; so far as is known there has never been a cross on the Lord's Table and the north celebration has always been used. Since 1778 all the rectors have been Evangelicals and seven out of eight have served as missionaries overseas in the Arctic, Africa, India, and China.
The church of ST. PETER (fn. 208) consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, and a western tower. It is mainly of 14th-century date, but the plain font is earlier. (fn. 209) The nave is separated from the aisles by arcades of 3 arches and is surmounted by a contemporary clerestory. One of the nave pillars has a capital carved with sculptured busts of knights with interlaced arms which are similar to those found at Bloxham and elsewhere in north Oxfordshire. (fn. 210) The south aisle has a piscina and sedilia.
No major alteration to the main structure was recorded before the early 19th century. A gallery, paid for by subscription, was erected in 1738, (fn. 211) the church was ordered to be whitewashed in 1755, (fn. 212) and in 1773 communion rails were set up at the rector's expense. (fn. 213) The tower, being in a ruinous condition and beyond repair, was pulled down and rebuilt in 1808 on a smaller scale. (fn. 214) Its low roof can be seen in Buckler's drawing of 1820. (fn. 215)
By the early 19th century the fabric generally was much in need of attention: in 1813 the chancel was reported out of repair and in 1818 the roof. (fn. 216) The latter was repaired in 1822 and in 1826 further unspecified repairs were in progress. (fn. 217) In 1877 a vestry decided to petition for a faculty for the restoration and enlargement of the building. It was planned to alter the tower and to add a spire, a south and a north porch, and an organ chamber and vestry on the south side of the church. The roof of the nave was renewed, the roofs of the aisles were releaded, and general repairs were carried out. The chancel floor was re-laid and new seats were provided both in the chancel and the church. The architect was Edwin Dolby of Abingdon. (fn. 218) The elevation of the new tower shows that it was to have a belfry and stone spire in the Early English style, (fn. 219) but this part of the plan was not carried out.
Besides an unidentified medieval tomb (? 13thcentury) in the north aisle, (fn. 220) there are two medieval memorials to the Grevilles. The tomb of Lewis Greville (d. 1438) was once in the chancel. (fn. 221) The alabaster slab which covered it is now on the belfry floor. It bears the incised figures of Lewis Greville (almost obliterated) and of his wife Margaret and their arms. The tomb of his son and heir William (d. 1440) is in the vestry. (fn. 222) There are also memorials to several rectors: Robert Cleaver (d. 1640); Thomas Lodge (d. 1651); Richard Coghlane (d. 1668); Adam Morton (d. 1683); John Dover (d. 1725). (fn. 223) Elizabeth Metcalfe (d. 1791), the donor of a charity, is also commemorated. Her ledger stone bears a coat of arms.
The earliest silver is a chalice inscribed 1808. (fn. 224)
The new tower of 1808 was built so that it might contain the present 3 bells: one is dated 1634 and the other two 1670. (fn. 225)
Two sums of £50 each for the upkeep of the churchyard were left by David Robert Smythe in 1920 and Emmanuel and Elizabeth Jones in 1924. (fn. 226) The amalgamated stock in 1958 was £126 and the annual income of £5 was less than the average labour cost for the previous five years. (fn. 227)
The registers date from 1577; there is a gap between 1686 and 1721. (fn. 228)
The absence of any dissent at Drayton at the time of the Compton Census in 1676, despite the strong nonconformist influence in north Oxfordshire, may perhaps be accounted for by the Puritan views of several of the 17th-century incumbents. (fn. 229) By 1682, when the cleavage between the Established Church and nonconformity had become distinct, one Quaker and one Anabaptist family were reported and four or five more, all, with one exception, yeomen, were said to attend a 'conventicle' at Banbury in the afternoon, although they went to their parish church in the morning. (fn. 230) By 1738, however, only one Presbyterian was left, (fn. 231) and no dissenters were recorded in later 18th-century visitation returns.
At the turn of the century Methodism took root, and in 1802 there was a meeting-house at Drayton attended by 30 Methodists, probably mainly from outside the parish. (fn. 232) Three years later the rector said there were many Methodists with a teacher and a licensed meeting-house. (fn. 233) In 1814 it was reported that they had visiting teachers occasionally, that there were only two 'professed' families of Methodists, but that many parishioners attended their meetings. (fn. 234) Houses were licensed in 1810 and 1817, when the community was said to number 8 to 10, and also in 1836 and in 1843. (fn. 235) In 1854 the incumbent estimated that a third of the parish were Methodists, though many of them attended the parish church, as they had no chapel of their own. (fn. 236) By 1866 the sect was said to have died out. (fn. 237)
No record of any school has been found before 1800; a day school was established then, supported first entirely by the rector and afterwards partly by a sum bequeathed by a parishioner, Elizabeth Metcalfe. (fn. 238) It had 12 or 15 pupils in 1808. There was no Sunday school, nor, in 1815, any wish to introduce the National Society's new plan of study. (fn. 239) By 1818 the day school itself had been discontinued, owing to the difficulty of finding a teacher and because the parents did not show sufficient interest. (fn. 240) Another day school was, however, begun in 1821 in which children were taught at the expense of their parents and by 1833 3 boys and 7 girls attended it, while another day school with 41 boys and 2 girls was supported by subscription and by payments from the parents. (fn. 241) There was also a free Sunday school where in 1833 15 children were taught and in 1854 thirty-two. (fn. 242) Only one of the day schools existed in 1855; the average attendance was 35, and the schoolroom, which consisted of 2 converted cottages, was given rent-free by Lord and Lady de la Warr. (fn. 243) Accommodation for the mistress was provided free by the rector, who in 1866 and 1868 claimed to be maintaining the school at his own expense with the help of a few half-yearly subscriptions. (fn. 244) This may not have been quite accurate since in the year ending December 1867 Drayton school received an annual Parliamentary grant of £15 6s. (fn. 245) The rector gave the number of children attending in these years as 16 boys and 15 girls daily, and 12 boys and 16 girls on Sundays. He was unable to retain any children in the Sunday school once they had entered 'service'. His many attempts to establish an evening school had not been successful. (fn. 246)
In 1871 accommodation in the school was given as 32. (fn. 247) The cottages which had formed the original school building were said to have been practically rebuilt by 1891, (fn. 248) but the following year the school was in poor condition. Accommodation was estimated at 43 in 1894 but the condition of the school was still not satisfactory and in 1899 a threat was made to withdraw the Government grant unless a separate room was found for the younger children. This was provided the following year giving places for 24 infants and raising the total school accommodation to 67. (fn. 249)
Lord North, who had become the owner of the school by 1891, died in 1932. After his death the existence of the school was threatened, as his successor wished to sell the site. (fn. 250) When he failed to find a buyer, the school managers kept the school open with local support, despite falling attendances and the Education Authority's wish to close the school. In 1941 Trinity College, Oxford, bought the site and let it to the managers. In 1948 the school finally closed and the children were transferred to North Newington Primary and Banbury Secondary Schools. (fn. 251)
During the 18th century various sums of money, known as the Town stock, were vested in Sir Jonathan Cope, lord of the manor, for the benefit of the poor of the parish. The benefactions of unknown donors amounted to £60; £10 was left by the will of Dr. James Jenkinson (d. 1731), Rector of Drayton, and £10 by Mrs. Mary Metcalfe (d. 1760). The income of £4 was received regularly from the successors to the Cope property. By 1823 it had been amalgamated with the following charity.
By will dated 1774 Elizabeth Metcalfe (d. 1791) left in trust £527, the income to be given in clothes to poor children of the parish at Whitsun; and £700, the interest to be spent on clothes and coal in equal parts for the aged poor at Christmas. Her personal estate was insufficient to pay all the legacies and in 1799 the money available was re-apportioned in Chancery. Some of the income in 1814 was used to support a school. In 1823 the stock standing to the children's account was £328, and the dividend of £10 was spent on linen for poor children at Midsummer. The stock for the aged stood at £421 and to the interest of £13 was added the £4 from the town stock. From this each family received annually 7s. worth of coal or clothing at their choice; (fn. 252) £123, supposed to be the accumulation of unapplied income, was treated as capital. (fn. 253) By 1871 the total value of the stock was £872 and the dividend £26. Half the income was given to the parents of poor children for clothes, at Midsummer, and half was spent on coal for poor people over the age of 50. (fn. 254) During the early years of the 20th century some attempt was made by the trustees, with the approval of the Charity Commissioners, to distribute the charity in accordance with the needs of modern life. Ratepayers were not eligible, nor newcomers to the parish until they had resided there for 2 years. (fn. 255) In 1925 £8 was spent on children's clothes and £10 on the aged. From 1953 to 1956 the major part of the charity was given annually in coal, £20 worth to 50 households, while about 25 children received 3s. each. (fn. 256)