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.
Tadmarton lies 5 miles south-west of Banbury. (fn. 1) The ancient parish covered 2,070 a. in 1801 and there have been no subsequent boundary changes. (fn. 2) Some of the landmarks of an estate granted to Abingdon Abbey in the 10th century can still be recognized as the boundary marks of the modern parish: Haeslford is the ford by the present Hazelford Mill: the northern boundary still runs near Haeslburh, an earthwork east of the Shutford road, (fn. 3) Woh Burne is the Sor Brook; and Eald Ford may possibly be at Lower Tadmarton Mill where Abingdon Abbey had a fulling-mill at the turn of the 13th century. (fn. 4) The medieval custom of perambulating parish boundaries was kept up into the post-Reformation period, but in 1759 the rector complained that this custom had been long neglected. (fn. 5)
The greater part of the parish to the north and south of Upper and Lower Tadmarton lies at about 500 ft., but the land drops to 400 ft. along the stream beds and rises to 600 ft. on Tadmarton Heath in the south-west, and to 641 ft. in the centre of the IronAge camp there. For the most part the landscape is one of undulating hills and heathland, but a couple of small copses were planted in the late 19th century, (fn. 6) and there are many elms and oaks in the postinclosure hedges.
The parish lies on the Middle Lias or Lower Oolite strata. The land, composed of sand with a subsoil of limestone, is well-watered by streams, and there is even now much marsh. The upkeep of bridges has therefore been a constant burden. (fn. 7) In 1774, for example, £3 10s. was paid for the repair of the 'Town Bridge', and nearly £15 for Lower Tadmarton Bridge. (fn. 8) In 1866 the latter was pulled down and rebuilt with 3 arches. (fn. 9) The Town Bridge was recently rebuilt by the R.D.C. as the old bridge had been partially washed away. (fn. 10)
The chief road in the parish connects Swalcliffe with Bloxham and runs through Upper Tadmarton. Lower Tadmarton lies at the junction of this road with a road from Wigginton, which follows the line of a prehistoric track going from the Cotswolds through Tadmarton Camp to Northampton. Until well into the 19th century this route was used by Welsh drovers who could travel for over 100 miles without going through a toll-gate. (fn. 11) Eighteenthcentury records testify to the parish's activities in the repair of roads; as many as 22 labourers were engaged in 1768 in mending the highways. (fn. 12) Bridle roads were also important: one led in 1775 from Tadmarton Field by the ford into Bloxham Field, another from Tadmarton village to Lower Fulling Mill in Broughton, another from Lower Tadmarton to Milcombe. (fn. 13)
The area was settled early: an Iron-Age camp lies c. 1½ mile south-west of the village and 2½ miles from Madmarston Camp, which lies just outside the parish boundary. Two barrows once lying on the heath north-west of Tadmarton Camp have been totally destroyed. (fn. 14) East of the centre of the camp was a medieval well, known as Holy Well; nearby, human remains, a spear-head, and Roman coins have been found. A spring rises on the hillside there and runs into Lower Tadmarton. (fn. 15) In the 20th century part of the heath has been made into a golf course and Holywell Farm (dated 1783) has become the club house.
Upper Tadmarton village lies at a height of 400 ft., and its houses stretch for about ¼ mile along the main road. The church, the manor-house, the 'Lampet Arms', and the school form a nucleus in the north, while the pound and a group of farm-houses form another at the south and lower end. The hamlet of Lower Tadmarton is sited on a feeder of the Sor Brook about ¼ mile away; its farms and cottages are scattered except for a row of cottages and a farm near the mill. (fn. 16) The place name may derive from tademere tun, signifying the tun by the frog pool, but the early forms suggest that the second element was not mere but gemaer, signifying a boundary. (fn. 17) In either case it is likely that the ford was the original attraction for settlers, and Lower Tadmarton the earlier of the two settlements.
In the Middle Ages the two villages seem to have been among the smaller ones in the hundred. (fn. 18) In 1642 there were 77 subscribers to the Protestation Oath, (fn. 19) in 1738 there were said to be c. 30 families at Upper Tadmarton and 17 at Lower Tadmarton, and in 1750 the rector recorded 186 males and 153 females. (fn. 20) The number of houses in the parish rose sharply from 58 in 1768 to 80 or 90 in 1781. (fn. 21) The population increased from 387 in 1801 to 450 in 1851, the peak year. (fn. 22) In 1802 Upper Tadmarton had more than twice as many inhabitants as its hamlet. (fn. 23) By 1901 numbers were down to 301 but by 1961 had risen to 386. (fn. 24)
Both villages still retain much of their 16th- and 17th-century regional character, for many of the 26 houses listed for the Hearth Tax of 1665 survive. (fn. 25) Most are 2-storied structures of coursed ironstone rubble, sometimes with ashlar quoins; they have stone or later brick chimney stacks, casement windows, some with stone mullions and square labels, and thatched roofs. Some houses have large projecting bread-ovens or stair-cases. Several red-brick cottages with roofs of Welsh slate were put up in the 19th century and later. There has been much 20thcentury building in yellowish brick in the main street and at the Banbury end.
The manor-house, now used as a farm-house, never had a resident lord, and was probably always leased. (fn. 26) In the 17th century the Pargiters may have been the lessees. If so it was a house with 3 hearths in 1665 when there were two Robert Pargiters in the village, each assessed for the Hearth Tax on 3 hearths. (fn. 27) The present house is mainly early-18thcentury, when one wing was probably remodelled and the other new built, but in a traditional late17th-century style. The stone and thatched barn belonging to this house is certainly the oldest structure in the village, and must have been built by Abingdon Abbey. With its arched brace tie-beams it is similar to the New College 14th-century barn at Swalcliffe, but its character and workmanship is more modest and is considered to be rather later in date. (fn. 28)
The Old Rectory was by far the largest house in Tadmarton in 1665, when it was assessed on 8 hearths. Ruinous in 1802–4, it was rebuilt in 1842 and was later described as a 'handsome modern structure'. (fn. 29) Nevertheless, it retains much of the earlier house at the back. Both parts are of coursed ironstone rubble; the older part was stone-slated while the new house was roofed with Welsh slates. A sundial on the stabling is dated 174 (?). The house was sold in 1946 and became a private house. (fn. 30) A large house in Lower Tadmarton, probably identifiable with that assessed on 5 hearths in 1665, dates partly from the 17th century and still has 2 original stone mullioned windows with a square label; the northern half of the house must have been rebuilt after its destruction by fire in 1826. (fn. 31) It has a late-17th-century dovecot. Old Malthouse Cottage, perhaps the oldest surviving dwelling, is a 16th- or 17th-century building, originally having a singleroom plan of 1½ story, 2 rooms serving as a new hall and parlour. There was a cellar beneath the parlour. The house was modernized in 1954. (fn. 32) The 'Lampet Arms', which replaced the earlier 'Red Lion', (fn. 33) is a large red-brick Victorian structure named after Capt. W. L. Lampet, one of Tadmarton's principal landowners in the mid-19th century. (fn. 34) The Methodist chapel was built in 1861 and the stone school replaced an earlier schoolroom in 1876. (fn. 35)
Outside the village Tadmarton House, just off the Bloxham road, was built in the 19th century. It was the home of Capt. W. L. Lampet in 1852 and the Lodge has the Lampet arms carved on it. (fn. 36)
In the 10th century the land of the two Tadmartons formed a royal estate. In 956 King Edwy is reputed to have granted 10 hides of it to his thegn Beorhtnoth, 5 hides to another thegn Beorhtric, and another 5 hides to the princeps Beorhtnoth. (fn. 37) These 20 hides later came into the possession of Abingdon Abbey, who retained them until the Reformation. After the Conquest Abbot Aethelm was induced to grant the vill to Robert d'Oilly, Sheriff of Oxfordshire, but he subsequently regained possession in return for an annual rent of £10. (fn. 38) D'Oilly seems to have caused the abbey much trouble at this period, among other things taking possession of a meadow in Oxford which belonged to Tadmarton manor. He renounced his claim to the rent-charge on the manor, but did not restore the meadow. (fn. 39) His relatives continued to give trouble: in Henry I's reign Robert's brother and heir, Niel, was compelled, after a long dispute, to pay the customary rent (gafol) of 6d. for the meadow in Oxford. (fn. 40)
In 1086 the manor was still assessed at 20 hides, of which 5 were held of the abbey by an unnamed knight. (fn. 41) The latter's identity is uncertain, but in 1104 one Anskill and Robert his son exchanged the lands, church-houses, and meadows which they held of the abbey in Tadmarton for 1 hide of land in Chesterton (Warws.). (fn. 42) The deed states that the Tadmarton land was assessed for geld at 5 hides, and no doubt it was identical with the Domesday holding.
In Henry I's reign Simon le Despenser exchanged the lands which he held of the abbey in Berkshire for Tadmarton manor and 3½ hides at Garsington, to hold at a fee-farm rent of £15 a year. (fn. 43) There are no further references to the abbey directly exploiting land at Tadmarton and this grant probably covered the whole vill; its distance from the abbey's other Oxfordshire possessions probably explains its alienation at this early date. Simon le Despenser was a nephew of Reynold, Abbot of Abingdon. (fn. 44) In Stephen's reign Simon settled the manor on his daughter and her husband, Walter son of Hingham, to hold on the same terms as himself. Walter failed to pay the rent due to the abbey, so Abbot Ingulf seized the manor. (fn. 45) Owing to prevailing conditions his control does not appear to have been very effective. Both Walter and the Despensers gave trouble and, since its royal charters were said to 'profit it little or nothing', the abbey secured two bulls from Eugenius III in 1146 and 1152, confirming its possessions. (fn. 46) On the accession of Henry II a suit was begun before the king, between the abbey and Simon le Despenser's son, Thurstan, to whom the manor had reverted. (fn. 47) Although judgement was given in the abbey's favour, the Despenser family continued to hold land in Tadmarton until the end of the 13th century. In 1284 Adam le Despenser proved his title to 4 houses and 2 yardlands there, held in chief, claiming descent through his brother Thurstan, who had died without issue. (fn. 48) In the following year he conveyed the property to the abbey. (fn. 49) At the same time the family were disposing of their other manors in the county. (fn. 50)
The fate of the manor after 1154 is not clear. In 1243 the whole vill was stated to be held in free alms by the abbey, but no tenants are named (fn. 51) and there is no entry in the Hundred Rolls. In 1284 the abbot unsuccessfully claimed, in addition to the manor, one knight's fee in Tadmarton formerly held by John Bret of Mollington in Cropredy. (fn. 52) The abbot also claimed free warren in virtue of a grant by Henry III. (fn. 53) In 1291 the abbey had £24 14s. 6d. in lands and rents in the village. (fn. 54) No further evidence is available before the 16th century, when the abbey farmed out the manor. (fn. 55) In 1538 Abingdon Abbey surrendered Tadmarton with its other manors, (fn. 56) and in the following year the king granted it to Sir Thomas Pope and others. (fn. 57) By 1545 Pope had secured sole ownership. (fn. 58) He had already obtained much monastic property in north Oxfordshire. Tadmarton followed the descent of two of his estates, Ardley and Wigginton. (fn. 59) As in the case of Wigginton the proposed settlement on Trinity College, Oxford, did not take place and Tadmarton remained in the Pope family until sold after 1660 to Ambrose Holbech (d. 1662) of Mollington. (fn. 60) It then passed to Richard Brideoake who was lord of the manor in 1692. (fn. 61) The Brideoake family, who also held Wigginton, then held the manor until at least 1718 when Ralph Brideoake was returned as lord: (fn. 62) he was presumably the Ralph Brideoake who died in 1728 and was buried in the family vault. (fn. 63) Although another branch of the Brideoake family retained an interest in land in Tadmarton until the late 18th century, (fn. 64) the manor had passed by 1763 to Crescens Carter (fl. 1735–75), probably a kinsman of the George Carter (d. 1707) whose body was brought from London to be buried in the Brideoake vault and who was presumably related by marriage. (fn. 65) Crescens Carter was lord of the manor in 1775 but by 1785 it had passed to the Revd. Bartholomew Churchill of North Leigh who still held it in 1823. (fn. 66) In 1833 it was held by 3 men, perhaps trustees, i.e. John Dixon, Thomas Howard, and Jonathan Brundelt. (fn. 67) In 1839 it was bought by the trustees of John Charles MacDermot, of St. John's Wood, London, who was lord in 1852, but was not resident, the manor-house being used as a farm-house. (fn. 68) In 1892 the estate was put up for sale by order of the mortgagees, but only one farm was sold and the rest was either withdrawn or failed to reach the reserve. (fn. 69) MacDermot appeared as lord in 1895, when the manor-house was occupied by George Wade, (fn. 70) but thereafter manorial rights seem to have lapsed.
Records of the manorial courts have with a few exceptions disappeared. (fn. 71) Of the vestry records the earliest to survive are the churchwardens' accounts of 1725. In the early 19th century the vestry met 7 or 8 times a year, but later it lost its importance and met only once a year to deal with church business. In the earlier period 5s. was allowed for beer at each meeting. (fn. 72)
It is clear from the churchwardens' accounts that they and the overseers worked closely together. On one occasion in 1729 the same men held both offices, (fn. 73) and, as in most parishes, the churchwardens were to a certain extent responsible for occasional relief and the relief of vagrants. They also shared with the overseers the responsibility for maintaining the fire-engine which Tadmarton shared with Swalcliffe; from 1771 onwards there are records of payments to Swalcliffe for cleaning and oiling it, and an annual contribution of 10s. was made. The churchwardens were conscientious in fulfilling their obligations under the 1598 statute to reward destroyers of vermin. (fn. 74)
Between 1725 and 1735 there was a town estate, worth £15 10s. a year, in the hands of six different persons; it was carefully administered in the time of the rector, Robert Harrison (1745–80), after which there is no further mention of it nor of the use to which it was put. (fn. 75)
One constable was chosen each year but certain men, like Richard Hartley or William Austin, served the office again and again. From c. 1790, in addition to his regular duties, the constable took over from the churchwardens the job of rewarding the catchers of vermin. In other ways Tadmarton's constable encroached on what was often the responsibility of churchwardens and overseers; in 1747, for instance, he paid for the inquest on and the burial of a pauper, and in 1752 it was the constable who gave 1s. to a travelling woman, suspected of having smallpox. Although his expenses were originally met by a constable's levy the account was settled in 1793 by the overseer and this became the regular practice. (fn. 76)
There were 2 surveyors at Tadmarton and their expenses were met either by levy or by the system of 'selling the highways'. The average annual expenditure on the maintenance of the roads was £9, but very large amounts could be spent on occasion: the expenses of the surveyors for 1775–8 for instance totalled £65, spent chiefly on labour and digging stones. In 1814 it was decided that the surveyors' accounts should be examined at a vestry and signed by the majority of the inhabitants. From 1825, however, the accounts were verified on oath by one man and allowed by the others. The surveyors' duties included provision of a town bull: in 1766, for instance, they hired Crescens Carter's bull for the season. (fn. 77)
By 1801 there were 2 overseers a year, one accounting from April to October, the other from October to April. The office was filled on a rota system but substitutes were allowed: in 1828 Edward Hawtin was paid £3 for doing the overseers' office for John Colegrove. This is probably the origin of payments of £2 10s. for a term of office, which became customary after 1829. The overseers' accounts were approved in the Easter vestry by the churchwardens and 2 others. They made all the usual payments and were in addition responsible for the carriage of the poor's coal and for making up any deficit in that account. They rented cottages for the use of the poor, and in 1806 were paying £17 a year for the lease of 20 cottages. The overseers engrossed many more than their original duties with the passage of time. By 1803, for instance, almost all the most important financial burdens were borne by them: they paid the constable's account and the vestry, and had taken over from the constable the responsibility for the militiamen; in 1804 the overseer paid out £5 bounty money. (fn. 78)
The cost of poor relief had risen steadily throughout the 18th century from £21 in 1725 to £72 in 1776, and to about £159 in 1784. (fn. 79) In 1801 20 persons were being regularly relieved and in 6 months £345 was spent. The overseers' office was much more burdensome at some seasons than at others; the bill for bread in the winter was usually double what it was in the summer and autumn. The roundsman system was working by 1801, although only one or two men were involved each week. By 1805, however, 8 men were on the rounds. At some date between 1808 and 1828 it was thought expedient to keep the 'round' account separately. In 1828 the system cost the parish from £3 to £4 a month, except in December when the cost rose to £12 12s., and in 1830 the 'round' account for the first half of the year came to £58. Medical charges for the poor cost a great deal and in 1802 one doctor's bill was nearly £8. Thereafter the overseers made bargains with doctors to treat the poor for a year at a fixed sum. Although in 1803 only 17 persons were being regularly relieved, by 1805 the number had more than doubled. Henceforth the number of those relieved rarely fell below 30 and there were usually 5 men on the rounds. By 1830 there were 40 on the overseers' books, including 9 widows and at least 6 orphans. In 1831 Tadmarton spent about £740 on poor relief including the sums which now began to be paid to the unemployed. Even before the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act, however, expenditure had begun to decline and the total for 1833–4 was under £533. The old system of relief continued to operate until May 1835 when the last entry under the old system was made. The total expenditure on relief in 1836 was £342; (fn. 80) by 1851–2 this had been reduced to £235, raised by a rate of 1s. 11¼d. (fn. 81)
Tenth-century references to plough-lands, headlands, and gores suggest that Tadmarton's open fields were by then established. (fn. 82) By 1086 there were 2 separate estates, one of 15 hides belonging to Abingdon Abbey, the other of 5 hides held by the abbey's tenant. The abbey demesne (6 hides) had 3 ploughs worked by 2 serfs; the other 9 hides were held by 15 villani and 7 bordars with 5 ploughs. The smaller estate had 2 ploughs and 1 serf in demesne, and the tenants, 8 villani and 5 bordars, had 2 ploughs. Meadow (32 a.) and pasture (60 a.) were features of the abbey's estate; there was also a mill worth 4s. and a mill on the smaller estate worth 5s. The value of the abbey's manor had dropped from £16 before the Conquest to £12 in 1086, while the smaller estate, perhaps under direct exploitation, had increased in value from £2 to £6 over the same period. It was said that there was land in the vill for 16 ploughs and the fact that only 12 were working again indicates economic set-back, at least on the abbey's estate. (fn. 83) The total recorded peasant population of 38 was unusually large for a village in this hundred. (fn. 84)
The existence of a fulling-mill and a dispute between the abbey and 2 Milcombe tenants over pasture in Tadmarton may suggest that sheep were important by the mid-13th century. (fn. 85) In 1291 the abbey was still holding a large amount of land in demesne: its lands and rents there were worth £24 14s. 6d. a year, while stock and crops were valued at £4 6s. 8d. In 1306, the abbey's curia was assessed for taxation at £1 or at two-fifths of the total for the village. (fn. 86) The village itself was fairly prosperous: for the tax of 1316 19 tenants were assessed at between 2s. and 3s. and 26 at under 2s.; in 1327 10 were assessed at between 2s. and 4s. 6d. and 21 at under 2s. (fn. 87)
One of the Domesday mills was probably 'Edward's mill', recorded in 956. (fn. 88) The abbey's fulling-mill, leased with cow-commons worth 16s. a year in the 13th century, (fn. 89) may have survived beyond the Middle Ages for Fulling Mill Quarter was probably a late field name. (fn. 90) Two water-mills were recorded in 1627 and one in 1726 and 1790. (fn. 91) A water-corn-mill was marked on a map of 1882 but in 1903 only a saw-mill was in operation. (fn. 92)
In the late Middle Ages the abbey leased its demesne; Thomas Hale, assessed at 20s. for the 1523 subsidy was probably the abbey's farmer and in 1530 John Winter certainly was. (fn. 93) The yeomen and husbandmen seem to have prospered and for the 1523 subsidy nearly two-thirds of the 33 contributors were assessed at 2s. or over (i.e. £4 worth of goods), while only one was assessed at the landless labourer's rate of 4d. (fn. 94) In 1538 rent from the abbey's free and customary tenants came to over £40. (fn. 95)
The Pope family did not reside and it is possible that they did not even keep a large demesne farm; in the early 17th century several tenants held demesne. (fn. 96) Customary tenants held usually for one life and there is only one example of a grant for two lives. On the other hand a widow was allowed to take on a holding after her husband's death; and a son was regarded as heir to the property. (fn. 97) It was customary to exact only one heriot in the event of a widow succeeding. This, in the few recorded cases, was a horse; one worth £4 5s., for example, was taken for an estate of 3 yardlands of customary land and 1 yardland of demesne. (fn. 98) No entry fines were recorded and rents for customary holdings were low: in 1615 2 yardlands of customary land and 1 yardland of demesne were held at a rent of 15s. 1d. a year with customary services, (fn. 99) which in this and other cases included the obligation to plant trees. (fn. 100) Tenants who sub-let were fined: in 1605 the fine was set at £5. (fn. 101) Encroachment on the lord's waste was vigilantly noted. (fn. 102) On one occasion all the tenants of the manor were ordered to meet at the church in Whitsun week and to go together to survey encroachments. (fn. 103) Tenants were obliged to use the lord's mill, and in 1607 those using their own querns without good reason were threatened with confiscation of their copyholds. (fn. 104)
The court supervised the open fields and elected village officials, the hayward and the field-men. (fn. 105) In April 1607 two field-men for the 'over town' and two for the 'nether town', one of them a woman, were elected and each was to have for his pains 2 sheep-commons above the number allotted to other tenants according to the quantity of their lands. (fn. 106) These officials made sure that the regulations of the court were observed. Tenants were ordered not to mow, reap, or cut the grass balks or to heap stones on them. The homage was frequently ordered to place mere-stones on land in the fallow field or to settle disputes over the placing of boundary stones. (fn. 107) No doubt to prevent such disputes it was ordered in 1615 that everyone should leave in the fallow field ½ ft. for greensward between his lands and the balk and 1 ft. for each acre between each acre and land 'as every man's land lies in the field'. (fn. 108) Sheep commons were stinted and in 1606 the court ordered that none should keep more than 12 lambs for a yardland or 1 sheep for every 4 lambs. (fn. 109) The making of 'hitches' reduced the commons and in 1607 it was agreed that there should be 2 sheep commons less for every 'hide'; in 1614 tenants were ordered to abate 4 sheep for every yardland of the ancient stint, 2 sheep for the hide-land, and 1 sheep for every land and ley in the new hitch. (fn. 110) The letting of sheep commons was strictly supervised and anyone taking or letting them was to notify the tithingman. (fn. 111) There were many presentments for straying sheep and overburdening of commons. (fn. 112) More unusual cases included that of a tenant who allowed his flock to go without a bell and of tenants who allowed sheep to graze in the hitch. (fn. 113) The grazing of horses within the fields after Martinmas was prohibited in 1606, and in 1614 tenants were ordered to tie their horses in the field after Lammas, 1 horse at 1 rope's length, 2 horses at 2 ropes' length. (fn. 114) Cow commons were also stinted: in 1606 it was forbidden to put more than 2 beasts in the fields before August unless a field was 'whole grass', and in 1727 a yardland had 2 cow commons and an unstated number of horse commons. (fn. 115) The herdsman's work was almost full-time, and in 1616 it was forbidden to hire him to do any other work from the time the beasts went into pasture until Michaelmas. (fn. 116)
The regulations for the open fields imply that there were 2 fields only in the parish in the 17th century and that the hamlets did not have separate fields. (fn. 117) Like other north Oxfordshire parishes Tadmarton later changed to a 4-course rotation. A pease hitch was added by 1615 when it was decided that all tenants should tell the tithing- or field-men the number of lands and leys they possessed in the new hitch each year, 'either in writing or upon a scored stick'. (fn. 118) By 1676 the fields were divided into 4 quarters called Blackland, Fulling Mill, Lea Brook, and Ratmill Quarters. (fn. 119) The extent of consolidation of holdings is not known but as late as 1727 one yardland was divided into c. 50 lands, leys, and butts. (fn. 120) Pasture was available on leys scattered throughout the common fields, on the heath, on 'Lammascommon' and 'Outer Common'. (fn. 121) Meadow was assigned by lot: in 1676, for example, the glebe included 1 'hide' of lot ground in North Meadow. (fn. 122) Tenants also had the right to cut furze: in 1676 the glebe included 9 'lots' of furze on Tadmarton Heath and in 1727 a yardland holding had a '¼ of a ½ lot' there and a '¼ hide' in the commons in 'all lot thorns and bushes and fern'. The lot land was on the heath, Combe Hill, Wookbrash Hill, Bull Hill, and 'Sandpitts', while there were at least 6 'hides' of lot ground on Ushercombe. (fn. 123) These rights were mentioned in the negotiations before inclosure when 2 landlords had the right to cut 100 furze-bushes each year and 2 tenants had rights to cut furze once every 4 years. (fn. 124)
In the 17th century Tadmarton's farmers seem to have been reasonably prosperous. Although 5 of the 12 inventories examined had totals of £50 or less some farmers had goods valued at over £100. (fn. 125) In Upper Tadmarton 14 people were assessed for the hearth tax of 1665, 1 on 8 hearths, 8 on 3 or 4 hearths, and 5 (of whom 2 were discharged by poverty) on 2 hearths or less. In Lower Tadmarton 12 people were assessed, 1 on 5 hearths, 4 on 3 hearths, and 7 (of whom 3 were discharged) on 2 hearths or less. (fn. 126) One man, Robert Austin, who occupied the 5-hearth house, had goods valued at £2,280 at his death. Although large flocks of sheep were rare in Tadmarton Austin had £110 worth of wool. (fn. 127)
At the time of the inclosure award in 1776 the parish was almost entirely uninclosed; of the 37 small closes the largest was 4 acres. There were 15 proprietors including the rector and the churchwardens. The lord of the manor, Crescens Carter, held three-eighths of the land and together with John Wheatley had then recently bought up about another seventh. Eight other proprietors had holdings of between 3 and 6 yardlands and 2 of 1 yardland. Carter and Wheatley had at least 8 tenants. (fn. 128) There were in all c. 1,698 sheep-commons and 166 cow-commons held by some 14 proprietors. (fn. 129) In the award there were 14 allottees: the rector received 461½ a. for glebe and tithe, Carter 1½ a. for rights in the manorial waste, 405 a. for his lands in the open field, and, together with Wheatley, 237 a. for lands recently purchased. There were 4 allotments of just over 100 a., 6 of between 20 and 80 a., and 2 of less than 20 a.; of the last, one was for the poor, the other for a stone-pit. (fn. 130)
Inclosure evidently did not substantially affect the pattern of land ownership. In 1785 the land taxes show that there were 15 proprietors paying the land tax, a third of which was paid by one proprietor, Bartholomew Churchill, who had 9 tenants. There were only 5 owner-occupiers, none with land assessed at more than £6, and the greater part of the land was farmed by tenants. There were some 16 farmers in the parish, 2 with large farms assessed at £10 and £16 respectively, 12 with medium-sized farms assessed at £5 to £8, and 1 with land assessed at just over £2. (fn. 131) In 1831 13 proprietors were assessed for land tax, of whom only 4 were owner-occupiers. There were then 12 tenant-farmers. (fn. 132)
Agricultural labourers suffered unemployment in the 1830s and in 1831 a 'riotous assembly' attempted to destroy a threshing machine and a draining plough. (fn. 133) There was probably little alternative employment: in 1851 Tadmarton had only a lacemaker, a dyer, and 2 cabinet-makers, apart from a few village craftsmen dependent on agricultural prosperity. At that date there were 11 farms of over 100 a., 2 smallholdings of 12 a. and 32 a., and a farm of unknown acreage. Five were fairly large farms of c. 200 a. or more, three of them supporting 8 or more labourers each. (fn. 134)
The sandy soil was best suited to grazing land and by 1797 much of the parish seems to have been pasture or meadow. (fn. 135) In 1892 Lower Tadmarton Farm was described as a first rate sheep farm and two-thirds of another farm was pasture. (fn. 136) In 1903 3 farmers were described as graziers or cattle-dealers. (fn. 137) Even so most of the farms remained mixed; in 1914 57 per cent. of the parish was estimated to be permanent pasture and it was calculated that there were 71 sheep and 19 cattle per 100 a., while barley, oats, and wheat were the chief crops. (fn. 138)
By 1939 there were 8 farms in the parish, 4 of them over 150 a. (fn. 139) After the First World War the creation of a golf course reduced the amount of grazing land on the heath.
The earliest evidence for the existence of a church in Tadmarton is early Norman work in the church building. (fn. 140) Tithes in Tadmarton were held by Abingdon Abbey in 1146. (fn. 141) The advowson was in the hands of the abbey until it was surrendered to the Crown in 1538. (fn. 142) Later in that year Charles, Duke of Suffolk, was given licence to alienate it to Sir Thomas Pope (fn. 143) in whose family it remained until sold after 1660 with the manor, the descent of which it followed until the early 18th century. (fn. 144) In 1715 the advowson was sold to Christopher Widmore; by 1730 it was in the hands of Mrs. Brideoake who conveyed it in that year to Ralph Brideoake, Fellow of New College, Oxford and his heirs. By will of 1761 Ralph settled the advowson on Jane Payne and her daughter, Elizabeth Farebrother. Jane and Elizabeth settled two-thirds of the advowson on Matthew Woodford, Jane Payne's nephew, and one-third on Elizabeth Farebrother. (fn. 145) In 1762 Elizabeth Farebrother and her husband conveyed their third share to Matthew Woodford. (fn. 146) By 1780 Matthew Woodford, presumably the son of Matthew and Mary Woodford, presented himself to the living. (fn. 147) In 1789 he sold the advowson to Henry Harrison. (fn. 148) By 1790 it was held by Thomas and Eleanor Harrison who sold it in 1805 to Worcester College, Oxford, (fn. 149) which still retained it in 1962. (fn. 150)
In 1546 the Bishop of Oxford collated, presumably by lapse, and in 1590 John Standish of Bold (Lancs.) presented. (fn. 151) On a number of occasions thereafter the Popes and their successors granted turns to others. In 1615, for example, Thomas Sacheverell of Leicester presented his son Ambrose (fn. 152) and in 1702 and 1720 Michael and Nicholas Woodhull made successive presentations. (fn. 153) In 1814 the Revd. Bartholomew Churchill, lord of Tadmarton manor, held the next turn. He is reported to have broken into the rectory-house in the absence of the curate in order to examine the property. (fn. 154)
In 1291 and 1341 the rectory was valued at £8 and in 1536 at £18. (fn. 155) The rector was assessed at £22 in the clerical subsidy of 1526, (fn. 156) a high rate compared with neighbouring parishes, and in 1615 the rectory was valued at £66 8s. 4d. (fn. 157) By 1883 the gross value was £436, the net value £392; (fn. 158) the income was derived from rents of the glebe (gross rental £375), surplice fees (£1), and the value of the house and gardens (£60). In 1931, when the glebe had been considerably diminished, the net income was £350. (fn. 159)
In the 12th century Abingdon Abbey took some at least of Tadmarton's tithes: its right to them was confirmed by the Pope in 1146, 1152, and 1200. (fn. 160) In the early 13th century the abbey appears to have accepted pensions of 40s. for the demesne tithes and 48s. 4d. for the rector's tithes. (fn. 161) The rector's pension was confirmed by Bishop Hugh of Welles and both pensions were confirmed in 1401. (fn. 162) They were still being paid to the abbey in 1536 (fn. 163) but passed after the Dissolution to Sir Thomas Pope. (fn. 164) He was licensed in 1555 to put £3 18s. 4d. from the rectory to the endowment of Durham College, Oxford, (fn. 165) and this sum was still paid to Trinity College in 1962. (fn. 166) The rectory was also charged in the 17th century with a payment of 3s. 4d. to New College, Oxford, the origin of which is unknown. The tenant of Swalcliffe rectory was receiving it for the college in 1663–74. (fn. 167) At inclosure in 1776 the rector received 3 allotments for tithes, totalling 328½ a. (fn. 168) His subsequent request to the patron for a contribution of £200–£300 towards the cost of the new buildings at the rectorial farm was declined. (fn. 169)
A terrier of the glebe in 1676 gave no total acreage but a century later it was said to be 2 yardlands. (fn. 170) There was some doubt about the location of the glebe in 1759 when the rector suggested that the terrier be kept in the 'public chest' and that the bounds be inspected every 3 years, a long-neglected custom. (fn. 171) He repeated the suggestion in 1768, since the terrier was inadequate and out-of-date. (fn. 172) In 1776 the rector was allotted 54 a. for glebe which, with the tithe allotment, made up a compact estate of 462½ a. adjoining the rectory-house. (fn. 173) He was empowered to grant leases of up to 21 years, with the patron's consent. (fn. 174) Shortly before inclosure the glebe had been mortgaged to pay for new buildings and in 1788 the lands awarded for tithe (Holywell and Parsonage farms) were mortgaged for £300 to Matthew Woodford, patron and rector. (fn. 175) By 1920 more than 100 a. of glebe had been sold and in 1946 the last of the glebe was sold with the rectoryhouse (fn. 176).
In 1277 the Rector of Tadmarton was cited in the archbishop's court for not being ordained priest within a year of institution. (fn. 177) At least 6 of the medieval rectors were graduates (fn. 178) but it is clear that some of the more distinguished were non-resident. After vacating Tadmarton Master Geoffrey Crukadan became a proctor at the Roman curia; (fn. 179) Master John Blodwell was much at Rome while still Rector of Tadmarton (1413–c. 1419), (fn. 180) and John Incent, D.C.L., was at one time a royal chaplain and Wolsey's vicar general. (fn. 181) He paid a curate £5 6s. 8d. (fn. 182)
Thurstan Standish was instituted in 1546 and held the living through the Tudor religious changes until his death in 1590. (fn. 183) His successor, John Crayker (d. 1614), who held Broughton rectory until 1596, (fn. 184) was resident and farmed his glebe; at his death his goods were valued at the comparatively large sum of £240 which included £10 worth of books. (fn. 185) Ambrose Sacheverell (d. 1647) was probably resident in his early years. His family seem to have been lessees of the manor and many Sacheverell children were baptized in Tadmarton between 1617 and 1630. (fn. 186) His goods were sequestrated on the day of his death for assisting the king in the previous year. (fn. 187) Cresswell Whateley (1647–82) (fn. 188) and his successor Thomas Oldys (1682–1720) (fn. 189) also appear to have been resident.
The only 18th-century rector to make more than formal replies to the visitation articles was Robert Harrison (1745–80), described by Thomas Warton as his 'learned and ingenious friend'. During his ministry the church building was kept in repair, (fn. 190) there were only 3 regular absentees from services, and the number of communion services rose from 3 to 4 a year. (fn. 191) He attributed the decline in the number of communicants from 20–25 in 1759 to 16–20 in 1768 to the 'continued mistranslation of a certain celebrated text' in the Bible. (fn. 192) He originally catechized for as long as 6 months a year. In later years he took another cure at Broughton in 1771 and appointed a curate in Tadmarton. The period of catechizing was then reduced. (fn. 193) He reported that he said prayers on Holy Days if he could get a congregation and that he had been warned that his proposal to take an offertory would prevent most of his regular communicants from attending. (fn. 194) Harrison carefully safeguarded the rectory estate, (fn. 195) made sure that a perambulation of the parish boundaries was carried out triennially, (fn. 196) preserved what was left of the town stock, (fn. 197) and in 1750 made a census of his parish. (fn. 198) His immediate successors were non-resident and for 30 years Tadmarton seems to have been left largely to the care of poorly paid and transitory curates. (fn. 199) Despite increasing population the number of communicants in 1784 was only 10; it was said there were 24 in 1802 but only 12 in 1805. (fn. 200)
Church life revived with the institution in 1810 of John Keen, son of the previous incumbent. (fn. 201) Communicants numbered 60 in 1811 and c. 90 in 1817, and a Sunday school was started. (fn. 202) The revival proved temporary. There was trouble over church rates in 1814, the Sunday school was temporarily discontinued, and communicants declined to 30 in 1820 and rose only to between 40 and 50 in 1823. (fn. 203) A new rectory-house, however, was built in 1842 and Tadmarton once more obtained resident rectors. (fn. 204) Since 1946 the living has been held with Broughton. (fn. 205)
The small church of ST. NICHOLAS comprises a nave and chancel, both with north aisles, and a western tower. (fn. 206) The 12th-century church was on the same plan, except that there is no evidence of a tower. Of the original building there remains the north nave arcade, some blocked arches on the north side of the chancel, and the internal jambs of a low-side window on the south side. The church was enlarged in the 13th century: an Early English chancel arch was inserted within the Romanesque one, the chancel was largely rebuilt, and the nave aisle was rebuilt on a larger scale. The nave of 3 bays was lengthened to the westward by the addition of a narrow arch to the nave arcade; and the existing tower was built.
At a later date new windows were inserted in the walls: those in the chancel are the earliest, being in the Transitional style between late Decorated and Perpendicular; the rest are Perpendicular. The walls of the nave were raised and clerestory windows were inserted in the south wall; a new window seems to have been inserted at the west end of the north aisle but was blocked up subsequently; low-pitched roofs to the nave and aisle were built; the upper stage of the tower was added; and the original belfry windows were blocked.
No major structural changes appear to have been made before the restoration of 1893. Faculties for Richard Brideoake's vault and another one were obtained in 1692 and 1693; (fn. 207) a gallery was added at the west end and the tower arch blocked up, (fn. 208) probably in the late 18th century; the chancel was repaired c. 1780; some work was carried out on the porch, roof, and north side of the church in 1808; (fn. 209) and some new pews of painted deal with doors were added in 1825. (fn. 210) The porch was rebuilt in 1850 and the north aisle leaded in 1852. (fn. 211)
A report on the church in 1867 stated that it 'much needed the work of the diocesan architect', (fn. 212) but it was not until 1891 when the church had 'sadly fallen into decay' that plans were made for a general restoration. The architects were Milne and Hall of London, the builder J. S. Kimberley of Banbury. (fn. 213) It was proposed to restore the roofs of the nave and the north aisle, provide new floors and stair-case in the tower, remove the west gallery, open up the tower arch, make a new vestry in the tower, repair the mullions of the nave window which had subsided, remove all the interior plaster, and add a new door to the principal entrance. The pews, of which some high deal ones reached half-way up the chancel arch, were to be removed and replaced with chairs. (fn. 214) All this work was carried out in 1893. (fn. 215) When the plaster was stripped from the chancel the original Romanesque arches were exposed.
Electricity was installed in 1916. (fn. 216)
The 13th-century font with its vigorous row of grotesque heads remains. (fn. 217) An aumbry was placed in the east wall of the chancel in 1947. (fn. 218) There is a communion table of 1635; the pulpit, lectern, prayer desk, and pews date from the 19th century, but some carved bench ends of late medieval date were preserved as J. O. Scott considered them 'exceptionally good'. (fn. 219) The parish chest dates from the 17th century. The arms of George IV hang over the tower arch.
The following are among those commemorated: Mary Whateley (d. 1657), the wife of the rector; (fn. 220) and L. C. M. Gibbs (d. 1955) of Tadmarton Manor. A stained glass window was inserted by Mowbray of Oxford in 1916. (fn. 221)
There is a ring of 6 bells, of which 4 were originally cast in the early 17th century and one in 1761. Two of the 17th-century bells were recast in 1923 and 1939 and the treble was added in 1947. The sanctus bell was restored to its original position in 1893. (fn. 222)
The church has a silver paten and chalice of 1569. (fn. 223)
The registers are complete from 1548. (fn. 224)
In 1676 there were 20 Protestant nonconformists in Tadmarton. (fn. 225) These may all have been Quakers since no reference has been found to other sects before the late 18th century. One of the earliest Quakers in Tadmarton was William Potter who moved there after William, Lord Saye and Sele, had evicted him from a cottage in Broughton c. 1655. (fn. 226) Potter was subsequently imprisoned twice for attending meetings in Broughton and Banbury; (fn. 227) he and his family had their goods distrained on for tithes almost every year between 1673 and 1706. (fn. 228) In 1669 meetings were held every other Friday at his house in Lower Tadmarton: c. 80 people attended (fn. 229) and among the speakers were Potter himself and Benjamin Ward, an ex-quartermaster in Cromwell's army, who had been imprisoned several times in the 1660s, and in 1672 had sheep worth £20 distrained upon for his refusal to pay tithes. (fn. 230) Eight family names appear in the Quaker register (fn. 231) during the 17th century and the community was sufficiently important for divisional monthly meetings to be held there in 1699 and occasionally between 1700 and 1706. (fn. 232) Most Tadmarton Quakers, however, seem to have belonged to Shutford Meeting. (fn. 233) Seven family names are to be found in the register during the 18th century but after 1732 no Tadmarton Quaker suffered for conscience sake and the sect was clearly less vigorous; of the 6 Quakers recorded by the incumbent in 1738 2 attended church and in 1759 there were only two Quaker families and one that was partly Quaker. (fn. 234) By 1781 there was only one Quaker left and his family attended church. (fn. 235)
No dissenters were reported in the earliest 19thcentury visitation returns but 2 houses were registered for worship in 1813, and another in 1814, when the parson reported the existence of a few dissenters, and a fourth in 1818. (fn. 236) In 1817 a dissenting teacher occasionally visited a licensed meeting which met weekly in a private house. (fn. 237) There is no certainty that these dissenters were Methodists but in 1820 there were c. 60 Wesleyans in Tadmarton. (fn. 238) In 1834 the rector claimed that the Wesleyans attended church as well as their own meetings. (fn. 239) In 1861 they built a chapel by subscription. It was a one-roomed structure of brick and corrugated iron in Upper Tadmarton. (fn. 240) The chapel had been closed for Methodist worship for some years before 1927, but had been used occasionally by Baptists as a preaching station, nominally under the chapel at Hook Norton. It was then sold to the Baptist Union Corporation and used by the Baptists until 1941. Thereafter it was used occasionally as an assembly room for the Friends' Evangelistic Band. In 1947 it was finally abandoned and in 1950 it was sold. (fn. 241)
In 1808 there were 3 schools in Tadmarton. One, which was described as 'endowed', had 70 pupils. The others each had 24 pupils and in them reading, writing, accounts, and grammar were taught; the salaries of the teachers, one of whom was a Baptist, were derived from 'Quarter Pence', quarterly payments by the children's parents. There was also a Sunday school, with 130 pupils, where reading and writing were taught in addition to Scripture. (fn. 242)
In 1811 only one school was recorded (fn. 243) and in 1815 there was one day school for young children (10 boys, 12 girls), kept by a woman in return for her support. A Sunday school, established in 1813, was supported by subscription; it was attended by 25 boys and 20 girls. (fn. 244) By 1818 both schools had closed and it was reported that the poor were in need of instruction. (fn. 245)
By 1833 3 day schools had been established, containing between 30 and 36 children paid for by their parents, but in 1834 the rector disparagingly described these as no more than dame schools in the parish; a Sunday school had been established in 1830 with 50 pupils and was supported by the rector and the landowners. (fn. 246) In 1834 a new Church of England school was built at Tadmarton at a cost of c. £700; (fn. 247) by 1854 it had c. 30 pupils while the Sunday school, supported by the rector, had 55. (fn. 248) The common complaint was that it was impossible to retain children in the Sunday school after they had left day school. A night school was held in the winter months. (fn. 249)
By 1871 the day school, which officially had room for 29 children, was badly overcrowded with 53 pupils. (fn. 250) In 1872 a School Board was selected to seek a means of improving the situation. In 1875 George Cookes of London granted land adjacent to the site of the recently-demolished Sunday school for the building of a new school, and in 1876 a new Church of England school was opened. (fn. 251) It had accommodation for 84 children and up to 1906 the average attendance was c. 44. (fn. 252) Fees of 4d., 2d., and 1d. were paid according to the parents' means. A Sunday school was held on the premises and a night school in the winter. (fn. 253) The school was united with the National Society by deed and received annual and fee grants as well as voluntary financial support and a bequest from MacDermot's charity. (fn. 254) In 1962 it was a Controlled school and had a roll of 36. (fn. 255)
By will proved 1864 John Charles MacDermot left money to be used for public purposes at the discretion of trustees. The will was disputed and it was not until 1893 that the funds, then amounting to £3,000, became available. By a Scheme of 1897 a sum not exceeding £10 was allotted to both a Hospital and Provident Club, £30 to a coal fund, and between £20 and £25 to the school. The school spent the money monthly on outings and prizes. The residue of the charity's income was reserved for cases of special distress. A Charity Commission Scheme of 1905 allotted £1,000 of the capital to the Education Fund.
After 1946 the Hospital Club money was transferred to the coal fund; the amount allotted to the latter was increased to £45 in 1950. The Provident Club, which became a clothing club, came to an end in 1959 and its money was thereafter added to the coal fund. (fn. 256)
The coal fund was worth £50–£100 in 1963, of which £24 came from rent of 15 a. on Tadmarton Heath awarded at inclosure in 1776 for fuel. (fn. 257)