A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1927.
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Achelei (xi cent.); Akeley (xii cent.); Aclei, Acle, Ocle (xiii cent.); Ocle iuxta Brehull (xiv cent.); Whokeley (xvi cent.).
This parish, which with its neighbours Boarstall and Brill was formerly part of Bernwood Forest and contained woodland sufficient for 200 swine at the Domesday Survey, (fn. 1) has still 468 acres of woods and plantations in its area of 2,806 acres. (fn. 2) Not quite 300 are arable, and nearly all the rest are laid down in pasture. (fn. 3) The land is generally 300 ft. above the ordnance datum. Here, as in Boarstall and Brill, some unauthorized inclosures were made before 1577, the offender in this parish being Richard Leigh, who, holding some 200 acres in right of his wife, the widow of George Tyrrell, (fn. 4) inclosed 'all their woody grounds.' (fn. 5) Oakley was formally inclosed by a Private Act of 1819. (fn. 6)
The village, which is small and scattered, lies in a wide-spreading valley close to the hamlet of Little London. (fn. 7) The church, at its east end on the high road from Bicester to Thame, was reputed in the 17th century to stand within the borders of the parish of Brill. (fn. 8) The parish boundary of Oakley, however, here forms a salient, skirting the churchyard, vicarage garden and orchard, and returning nearly to the point whence it starts. The Manor Farm, with its remains of a moat, probably on the site of the capital messuage of the 17th and 18th centuries, (fn. 9) and the Congregational chapel, first built in 1845, are a little distance west of the church.
The village contains many 17thcentury half-timber buildings, several of which are thatched. On the east side of the Worminghall road is a brick farmhouse with a tiled roof, on the west front of which are two stone-mullioned bay windows, and upon the gable above is a tablet bearing the date 1660. To the north of this is a brick and timber farm-house of the same century with an original chimney stack. The Sun Inn, on the north side of the road to Oakley Common, is a late 17th-century brick building of two stories with a central chimney stack. The village school, on the north side of the Bicester road, is a 17th-century building of brick and timber, much altered to suit its present use.
Near the south-east angle of the parish is Addingrove, which has for many years consisted of only two farms. (fn. 10) Another farm, Ixhill, once the site of a Roman building, (fn. 11) was probably part of the royal demesne meadow and forest in this parish from the 12th to the 17th century, (fn. 12) and had as late as 1707 a dwelling known as Ixhill Lodge. (fn. 13) In 1623 the keeper of the king's 'fee-hay' of Ixhill received instructions to publish in the parish churches of the neighbourhood an order for the protection of the deer preserved there for the prince's buckhounds. (fn. 14)
Before the Norman Conquest 2 hides in OAKLEY belonged to Alwid the maid, who also held a half hide of the demesne 'ferm' granted her by Godric the sheriff for the term of his shrievalty on condition that she taught his daughter embroidery. (fn. 15) These with other lands, presumably formerly of King Edward, by 1086, when the whole amounted to 5 hides and 3 virgates, had come to Robert Doyley, (fn. 16) and were later held of the honour of Wallingford. (fn. 17)
One of the successors of Robert son of Walter, tenant in 1086, (fn. 18) was Luvet de Brai, lord in the reign of Henry I, (fn. 19) who accounted for the taxes of the royal forest in this county in 1131. (fn. 20) He left Oakley to Basilia his wife in dower. (fn. 21) Basilia married, apparently after 1163, (fn. 22) Osmund Bassett, who had been enfeoffed by Brian Fitz Count of this manor before 1166. (fn. 23) After Osmund's death Oakley came to John Bassett, his son by Basilia, but his title was disputed by Fulk son of Luvet. (fn. 24) In 1182 it was in the hands of Gilbert Bassett, (fn. 25) guardian possibly of William Bassett, John's son, who held Luvet de Brai's land in Boarstall three years later. (fn. 26) The Bassett tenure lasted until 1194, when Emma de Peri, (fn. 27) daughter of Fulk, made good her claim to one knight's fee in Oakley as her inheritance from her grandfather Luvet. (fn. 28) She was represented in this suit by William Fitz Ellis, her son, (fn. 29) who was in possession in 1217. In that year William Bassett, to whom King John had confirmed in 1208 the knight's fee in Oakley which his grandfather Osmund had held by charter of Brain Fitz Count, (fn. 30) renewed his claim without success. (fn. 31) William Fitz Ellis, William Bassett's rival, died about 1229, leaving a son William, who did homage in that year for one fee in Oakley, (fn. 32) and a widow, Rose de la Rokell, who was still alive in 1235. (fn. 33) This fee, as the records of 1235, (fn. 34) 1236 (fn. 35) and 1258 (fn. 36) show, was the manor of Oakley.
The Bassett claim seems to have expired in 1230, when Alan Bassett, perhaps William Bassett's son, conveyed to William son of William Fitz Ellis 2 carucates of land in Oakley. (fn. 37) The younger William Fitz Ellis had been dead at least three years in 1275, when his lands were occupied by John Fitz Niel. (fn. 38) John, who was still in possession between 1284 and 1286, holding a knight's fee in Oakley for term of life with reversion to the heirs of Thomas Fitz Ellis, (fn. 39) may have owed his interest here to his sister Joan, widow of Thomas, (fn. 40) who was dead by 1277, (fn. 41) the heir and probably great-nephew of William Fitz Ellis. (fn. 42) Robert his son, a minor in 1279, (fn. 43) had been succeeded before 1290 by a son of the same name, (fn. 44) whose son and heir, another Robert Fitz Ellis, was ward of Roger de Beaufoe in 1302. (fn. 45) The third Robert, lord in 1316, (fn. 46) with his wife Margaret in 1339 made a settlement of the manor with contingent remainders to his brothers John, Thomas and William, and to John de Bruly and his wife Bona. (fn. 47) He was living in 1341, (fn. 48) but in 1346 his widow Margaret held alone. (fn. 49) At her death in 1375 her heir was found to be John Duyn, son of Elizabeth daughter of William the third brother of Robert Fitz Ellis. (fn. 50) No evidence of John's tenure survives, and the manor afterwards came to John Fitz Ellis, son of another John Fitz Ellis, (fn. 51) who in 1413 settled it on Thomas Chaucer in trust for John's wife Joan and their heirs, with contingent remainders to his sister Maud and Robert James. (fn. 52) John Fitz Ellis must have died without issue before 1418, when William Bruly, probably heir of John Bruly and his wife Bona, released to Robert James his right in the manor of Oakley called Fitz Ellis. (fn. 53) After Robert's death in 1432 (fn. 54) Oakley was held by his widow Maud, (fn. 55) presumably the sister of John Fitz Ellis. Although at her death in 1437 it was said to be the inheritance of the Redes (fn. 56) (Boarstall, q.v.), it must have reverted to the Fitz Ellis family, for Robert Fitz Ellis settled it on his daughter and heir Margery at her marriage with Thomas Billing. Their daughter and heir Sibyl, aged six, the wife of George Ingleton, inherited Oakley at the death of her grandmother, Margaret Fitz Ellis, in 1470. (fn. 57) George Ingleton inherited Thornton Manor on the death of his father Robert in 1472 or 1473, and Oakley henceforward descends with Thornton (q.v.) until the death in January 1605–6 of Sir Edward Tyrrell, who left Oakley to his widow Margaret with successive remainders to his three younger sons. (fn. 58) Timothy, the eldest of them, in 1613 settled or mortgaged the manor, (fn. 59) of which he was lord at his death twenty years later. (fn. 60) In 1646 his son and heir, another Sir Timothy Tyrrell, (fn. 61) gentleman of the Privy Chamber, (fn. 62) paid his first fine for bearing arms against the Parliament. (fn. 63) He made a settlement of Oakley Manor on the marriage in 1669 of his son and heir James, an historical writer, (fn. 64) with Mary only daughter and heir of Sir Michael Hutchinson, (fn. 65) and twenty-six years later James with his son and heir the younger James Tyrrell barred the entail. (fn. 66) A mortgage made by father and son in 1701 (fn. 67) was followed in 1707 by the sale of the manor to William Cadogan, afterwards Lord Cadogan of Oakley, (fn. 68) whose brother and heir Charles Lord Cadogan sold it in 1730 to Sarah Dowager Duchess of Marlborough. (fn. 69) Her greatgrandson George Duke of Marlborough, (fn. 70) lord in 1760, (fn. 71) in 1812 conveyed Oakley to trustees, by whom it was sold in parcels. (fn. 72) Robert Polhill of Chipstead, who bought the manor and some land, (fn. 73) was succeeded in 1817 by his brother Edward, (fn. 74) who held in 1822. (fn. 75) Not long afterwards Oakley was acquired by Sir John Aubrey. (fn. 76) It has followed the descent of Boarstall (q.v.) to the present day, the lord of the manor being now Mr. Henry L. Aubrey-Fletcher.
A so-called manor in Oakley, of which the nucleus seems to have been a little land held of the heirs of William Fitz Ellis by John Fitz Niel at his death in or before 1289, (fn. 79) belonged to John Handlo in 1316, (fn. 80) and was held of the Fitz Ellis manor by the lords of Boarstall (q.v.) until Robert James became lord of all Oakley in 1418. (fn. 81) The two manors being then in the same hands, the Fitz Ellis overlordship naturally fell into abeyance, but reappeared again after their separation, Edmund Rede holding lands here in the 15th century of George Ingleton, lord of the Fitz Ellis manor. (fn. 82) In 1527, 'after dyvers varyances stryves and debates,' this, with the manor of Addingrove, was settled on Dame Anne Rede as her jointure by her son Leonard. (fn. 83) It seems to have passed to a younger branch of the Dynhams as the capital messuage or farm called Allnetts, of which Edward Dynham died seised in 1595 and his son John in 1632. (fn. 84)
Some land here was also held with Boarstall by the serjeanty of the custody of Bernwood Forest. (fn. 85)
Land in Oakley belonged to Nutley Abbey from the 13th to the 16th century. (fn. 86)
ADDINGROVE (Eddingrave, Adegrave, Adingrave, xi–xv cent.). This manor, held by Ulward, a man of Queen Edith, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, was part of the lands of Walter Giffard in 1086, and then assessed at 3½ hides. (fn. 87) It was still attached to the honour of Giffard in 1256, (fn. 88) when the overlordship had come to William de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, (fn. 89) by marriage with Joan, lineal descendant of the first Walter Giffard through the houses of Clare and Marshal. (fn. 90) After the death of their son Aymer the fee of Addingrove descended to their granddaughter, Elizabeth Comyn, (fn. 91) of whose husband, Richard Talbot, it was held in 1346 as of his manor of Pollicott, (fn. 92) in Ashendon. From Elizabeth's grandson Richard the overlordship came to his son Gilbert Talbot, (fn. 93) and was assigned at his death in 1419 to his widow Beatrice, (fn. 94) Addingrove being then and in 1432 and 1446 held of Pollicott Manor (fn. 95) (q.v.), a connexion of which no later trace appears. (fn. 96)
A mesne lordship over Addingrove originating in the tenure of Hugh de Bolebec, subfeudatory of Walter Giffard in 1086, (fn. 97) followed the descent of the manor of Whitchurch (q.v.) until 1635. (fn. 98)
A family called Morel were sub-tenants of Addingrove in the 12th century. Peter Morel, who died in or before 1173, (fn. 102) left a wife Clarice and a son, (fn. 103) who was probably the John Morel to whom Clarice in 1197 surrendered her claim to dower in Addingrove. (fn. 104) John Morel or a son of the same name, lord in 1236 (fn. 105) and 1255, (fn. 106) in 1257 granted land in Oakley and Addingrove to John Fitz Niel, (fn. 107) who afterwards acquired from John Morel's daughters and co-heirs the rest of his manor here. (fn. 108) From that time until 1563 Addingrove descended with the manor of Boarstall (q.v.). John Croke of Chilton held the farm of Addingrove by lease in 1554, when he bequeathed his interest here to his son and heir John. (fn. 109) The term had not expired in 1607, a rent of £10 being then payable to Sir John Dormer, (fn. 110) whose son Sir Robert Dormer is said to have conveyed Addingrove to the family of Mitchell. (fn. 111) From Richard Mitchell the estate passed in the 18th century to John Aubrey, afterwards sixth baronet of that family, (fn. 112) and again descended with Boarstall (q.v.).
The church of ST. MARY consists of a chancel 26 ft. by 13 ft., nave 45 ft. 6 in. by 14 ft. 6 in., north aisle 9 ft. 6 in. wide, south transept 21 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft., and a west tower 10 ft. by 9 ft. 6 in. These measurements are all internal.
The plan of the present building has been developed from that of a 12th-century church consisting probably of a chancel and nave, of which only the nave remains. The first stage in its evolution was the addition of a short north aisle about 1200, but about 1325 both the aisle and the arcade opening to it from the nave were reconstructed, and at the same time the chancel was rebuilt and the south transept was added to the nave. A small building, perhaps a bell-turret, seems to have been built at this period at the west end of the aisle, but this was removed later in the century when the west tower was erected and the aisle was extended westwards. The last alteration to the fabric in the middle ages was the construction in the 15th century of the nave clearstory. In 1885–6 the church was thoroughly restored, when the chancel was practically rebuilt. There were further restorations in 1889 and in 1909. All the walls are of rubble with wrought dressings.
The western of the two windows on both the north and south sides of the chancel are old. They are each of two lights under a square head, that on the north being of the 16th century and that on the south of the 15th century. The other windows on each side, and the three-light east window, are modern. The chancel arch, which has an inner order, dying into the jambs and a continuous outer order, belongs to the period of the early 14th-century reconstruction. At the south-west of the chancel is a squint from the south transept.
At the north-east of the nave is a 14th-century piscina niche with a trefoiled head and a restored basin. The north arcade is of five bays of unequal width. The fact that the second and third columns, both of which are circular, are evidently re-used work of the end of the 12th century, though their capitals have been recut, indicates that an arcade of that date was replaced by the four eastern arches early in the 14th century, to which period the octagonal eastern column and respond with their clumsily moulded capitals belong. As only two earlier columns are made use of, it may also be reasonably inferred that the arcade of which they formed part was of three bays only. The arches of this portion of the arcade are pointed and of two orders, the two eastern being narrower than the pair next to the west, and in their reconstruction the 14th-century builders appear to have made considerable use of the earlier material. The western column, which has apparently been formed from the west respond of the arcade as first rebuilt, is square with chamfered angles, and has a rudely executed capital unmoulded on the north. The fifth and westernmost bay is the narrowest of the whole arcade and the arch is lower. The west respond has a capital like that of the western column and is octagonal in shape. On the south side of the nave, above the opening to the transept, is the upper doorway to the rood-loft. The arch into the south transept dates from the 14th-century reconstruction and is of two chamfered orders dying into the jambs. In the east jamb are a piscina with a mutilated projecting basin, and a plain opening, communicating with the squint between chancel and transept, which is rebated for a door. The south wall of the nave is pierced by two windows; the eastern window is of the 16th century, and is of three plain lights under a traceried fourcentred head, while the western window, which is placed high in the wall, is also of three lights with tracery. The clearstory is lighted by three 15thcentury cinquefoiled lights on the north and two on the south. Over the east gable is a stone bellcote.
There is a 14th-century pointed window with a traceried head in each of the three walls of the transept; that in the south wall is of three lights, but the others are of two; all have been restored. In the east window is an ancient stained glass shield of arms, Quarterly or and gules a bend sable, and in the west window is a shield with the arms, Or a cross engrailed sable. On the outside of the south wall is a 14thcentury tomb recess with a cinquefoiled head containing a plain slab.
The first of the three windows in the north wall of the north aisle is square-headed, with two trefoiled lights, and dates from the 15th century. The next is a pointed window of two trefoiled lights with a traceried head, and dates from the 14th century. The westernmost is a square-headed late 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights. In the east wall is a pointed window of two lights with a traceried head and in the west wall is a single trefoiled light with an ogee head; both are of the 14th century. The original north doorway is pointed and continuously moulded. In recesses in the north wall are two 14thcentury stone coffin lids with carved and incised crosses.
The tower is of two stages with western diagonal buttresses, and has a stair turret at the south-east angle entered by a small doorway in the south wall. The tower arch is of three orders, the inner order dying into the jambs and the outer order continuous. The ground stage is lighted by a west window of two lights with tracery in a pointed head. The bottom of the window has been encroached upon by the modern doorway below it. Above the window is a small trefoiled ogee light, and there are similar lights at the same level in the north and south walls. The bellchamber is lighted from the west by a square-headed window of two trefoiled lights, and from the north and south by single lights of the same type.
The roofs are modern, but some old timbers have been made use of in that of the nave. On a part of a tie-beam preserved in the south transept are traces of a painted shield: Party cheveronwise gules and argent three unicorns' heads razed and countercoloured.
The circular font is of the early 13th century. The communion table, which has turned legs, is of the early 17th century. The pulpit is modern.
In the north aisle is a mural tablet to Ann, the wife of John Clarke and daughter of John Farrington, who died in 1693. In the south transept is a tablet to Margaret daughter of Sir Timothy Tyrrell of Shotover, who died in 1686. In the pavement are slabs commemorating the following members of the Tyrrell family: Mary wife of James Tyrrell, who died in 1687; John son of Sir Timothy Tyrrell, who died in 1692; Elizabeth daughter of the famous James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, and wife of Sir Timothy Tyrrell, who died in 1693; and Sir Timothy Tyrrell, who died in 1701. The inscription states that Sir Timothy was governor of Cardiff Castle and master of the buckhounds to Charles I. There are also some later monuments to this family.
There is a ring of three bells: the treble and second by Henry Knight, 1622 and 1621 respectively, both inscribed 'Henri Knight made me,' with the date; and the tenor by Joseph Carter, inscribed 'This Bell was made 1601.' There is also a sanctus bell bearing the date 1664. (fn. 113)
The plate consists of a stand paten, probably of 1700, but the date letter is much worn; a secular tasting dish with handle, of 1686, bearing the initials EWE on the handle; and a cup and cover paten of 1764.
The registers begin in 1704.
It is possible that the church of Oakley (fn. 114) belonged before the Conquest, with its chapels of Brill, Boarstall, and Addingrove, to the church and canons of St. Frideswide, Oxford. (fn. 115) All were formally granted to their house by the Empress Maud, with confirmation from Henry II. (fn. 116) In or before 1218, however, the patronage was claimed for the Crown, in whose favour the temporal courts pronounced. (fn. 117) The prior appealed to the pope, who sent bulls in defence of his right. (fn. 118) The king also appealed, (fn. 119) and his nominee was admitted to the church in 1222, (fn. 120) and he and his successors continued to present (fn. 121) until 1318, when the controversy was renewed and the case submitted to the decision of the king's justices. (fn. 122) It was still unsettled in 1325, when the prior again petitioned for judgement. (fn. 123) His right was established by 1327, when the charters of the Empress Maud and her son were confirmed together with the licence of appropriation granted by the Bishop of Lincoln at the empress's instance. (fn. 124) In or shortly before 1339 another appropriation of the church, with its chapels of Brill and Boarstall, was granted to the priory of St. Frideswide. (fn. 125) The vicarage mentioned in 1349 (fn. 126) was ordained in 1343. (fn. 127) In 1525, the year after the suppression of the priory, (fn. 128) the rectories of Oakley, Brill, and Boarstall were included in a grant of its possessions to Wolsey, (fn. 129) and the licence granted him in 1526 to appropriate them for 'Cardinal's College' (fn. 130) was followed the next year by their settlement on the dean. (fn. 131) After Wolsey's fall they were surrendered to the king, (fn. 132) who granted them to the use of 'King Henry the Eighth's college' in 1532 (fn. 133) and confirmed their incorporation with it five years later. (fn. 134) It would appear, however, that this grant was revoked before 1545, when the rectory and advowson of Brill, held in 1318 and 1650 to have been identical with Oakley from time immemorial, (fn. 135) were granted to John Pollard and George Rythe. (fn. 136) Sir John, afterwards Lord Williams, then tenant, (fn. 137) was owner in 1559, when he left the rectories and parsonages of Brill, Oakley and Boarstall in trust for the foundation of a free school at Thame. (fn. 138) Here, too, as in the case of the Oxford college, the connexion was not of long duration, John Dynham, lord of the manors of Boarstall and Brill, dying seised of the rectories of all three churches and the advowsons of Oakley and Boarstall in 1602. (fn. 139) The comprehensive grant made to John's heir in 1614 of the possessions of his ancestors included the rectory and church of Brill, (fn. 140) and from that date to the present day the advowsons of Oakley, Brill and Boarstall have descended with the manor of Boarstall. (fn. 141)
A virgate in Oakley, which belonged to the church in free alms, was granted in 1224 by Ralf de Norwich, the parson, to Robert de Pollicott and Joan his wife for life at a rent of 5s., with reversion to the parson of the church. (fn. 144)
Land in Oakley, appropriated in the 16th century to the maintenance of a light, (fn. 145) is probably identical with the acre given by John Brande of Worminghall to find a wax candle or taper 'in the storey called the aisle of St. Nicholas,' (fn. 146) which Queen Elizabeth granted to Christopher Fenton and Bernard Gilpin in 1574. (fn. 147)
Eleemosynary Charities.—The Poor Folks' charity, founded in or about the year 1623–4, is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 26 April 1912. The trust estate consists of 112 a. 2 r. 32 p. in Boarstall let at £128 a year, augmented by the letting of the sporting rights thereon. The income is applicable for the general benefit of the poor under one or more of the modes specified in the scheme.
The Poor's Allotment, containing 4 acres, was allotted to the poor under the Inclosure Act. The land is let at £8 a year, which is applied in the distribution of calico and coats.
John Hart's Charity.—This parish is entitled to a rent-charge of £3 (less land tax) issuing out of Easington Manor, Oxfordshire, charged by will proved in the P.C.C. 15 May 1665. The charity is applied, as required, in apprenticing a poor boy.
Ecclesiastical Charities.—The Church Land, derived from a gift of Richard Turpin and Ralph Beall by deed dated 12 March 1562, consists of 6 acres let at £12 10s. a year, which is applied towards the general church expenses.
John Clark, who died in 1678, bequeathed—as appeared from an inscription on his tombstone—an annuity of £1 towards the repair of the parish church. The annuity is received out of land belonging to the Manor Farm, Oakley.
A sum of 4s. yearly is received from the churchwardens of the parish of Brill and 4s. yearly from the churchwardens of Boarstall. These sums are also carried to the churchwardens' accounts under the title of the Brill and Boarstall Tribute, being considered as an acknowledgment that Oakley is the mother church.