A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 10, Banbury Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1972.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In this section
Charlbury (fn. 1) lies 15 miles north-west of Oxford on the River Evenlode, and roughly 7 miles from the market towns of Woodstock to the east, Witney to the south, and Chipping Norton to the northwest. The ancient parish covered an area of 10,238 a., and included the townships of Charlbury (c. 2,113 a.), Fawler (1,655 a.), Finstock (883 a.), and Walcot (c. 458 a.), and the chapelries of Chadlington (3,450 a.) and Shorthampton (1,676 a.). (fn. 2) This article is concerned with that portion of the ancient parish which belonged to Banbury hundred, namely Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock: Chadlington was the meeting-place of another hundred of which Shorthampton and Walcot also formed part.
The boundaries of the Banbury hundred portion of the parish followed the River Evenlode and its tributary the Coldron Brook on the west and north, an ancient road called, in the 18th century, Ditchley Riding on the north-east and part of the east, Akeman Street on part of the south, and the edge of Cornbury Park, an extra-parochial place, on part of the west. The boundary between Charlbury and Fawler followed in one part an earthwork, Grim's Ditch or Dyke, and in another the road from Charlbury to Woodstock, which may be presumed ancient. The boundary between Fawler and Finstock followed the River Evenlode. Within Charlbury township was the hamlet of Cote, and Finstock contained Tapwell; both Cote and Tapwell were deserted in the course of the 15th and 16th centuries. Fawler and Finstock remained independent of Charlbury for poor law administration and therefore came to be regarded as civil parishes in the late 19th century, (fn. 3) the boundaries being those of the old townships. In 1950 the area of Finstock was increased by the addition of 6 a. from the civil parish of Wychwood, and in 1968 the boundary between Charlbury and Fawler was altered, increasing the area of Charlbury by c. 129 a., and bringing the southern extension of the town of Charlbury within the parish. (fn. 4)
Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock lie mostly on the Great Oolite limestone, but along the River Evenlode are belts of alluvium, river gravel, Inferior Oolite, and fuller's earth which broaden considerably just north-west of Charlbury. (fn. 5) The land slopes down from 400 ft. and 500 ft. to only 300 ft. in the river valley. (fn. 6) The townships formerly contained considerable stretches of woodland, but Topples Wood and Lady Grove in Finstock are the only surviving woods of any size. Finstock wood was seriously reduced before 1230 to supply timber for building at Oxford castle, (fn. 7) and there was considerable assarting in the Middle Ages. (fn. 8) Lee's Rest Wood covered much of the southern part of Charlbury township in 1847 but had been almost entirely cut down by 1881. (fn. 9) The soil was stone-brash, not specially good for arable farming since in some parts of the townships it was so thin that solid buildingstone could be found less than a foot below the surface; in the mid 14th century the best of the arable was valued at only 4d. an acre, and in some places in the north of Charlbury arable was worth only ½d. (fn. 10) Sheep farming was of great importance and probably accounted for much early inclosure and possibly the depopulation of Cote and Tapwell. All three townships were inclosed by private agreement; but whereas in Fawler and Finstock, because few landowners were concerned, inclosure involved redistribution and produced the normal pattern of large rectangular fields, in Charlbury each of a large number of owners and occupiers by agreement inclosed his own holdings, (fn. 11) producing a pattern made up of fields of widely different shapes and sizes; the pattern has survived, despite later amalgamation of farms.
The ancient road on the eastern boundary of Charlbury may have been part of a salt way running from Droitwich through Chipping Norton to Stonesfield and thence along Akeman Street to Princes Risborough (Bucks.). (fn. 12) The road from Charlbury to Finstock over Fawler bridge was referred to in 1298 as Stonyway. (fn. 13) At the end of the 18th century the roads were improved by the making of the turnpike from Witney to join the BanburyChipping Norton turnpike at Great Tew; the turnpike passed along the line of Stonyway through Charlbury and Finstock, with gates at Brown's Lane and Baywell. (fn. 14) Another branch of the same turnpike ran from Woodstock to Burford through Charlbury, with a gate at Dyer's Hill. The roads were turnpiked between 1798 and 1800 and disturnpiked in 1877. (fn. 15) In making the turnpike to Woodstock the road through Lee's Rest Wood, hitherto only a track, was improved, and on the Charlbury side of the wood a new stretch of road was built to bring the turnpike into Baywell gate; where the turnpike left the township towards Woodstock it was diverted slightly to the north of the former road to cross, instead of merging with, the ancient road from Chipping Norton to Stonesfield. (fn. 16) Although the track through Lee's Rest Wood was always the most direct route across the fields to Woodstock it may not have been available as a public right of way until turnpiked, for in 1761 a lane running north of the woods to Ditchley Riding was named Woodstock Way. (fn. 17) In 1821 the turnpike towards Great Tew was further improved by the building of a wall to carry it over a steep hollow north-east of the Brown's Lane gate. The wall survives under the road. (fn. 18) The opening of a branch of the Great Western Railway from Oxford to Worcester in 1853 with a station at Charlbury, and much later a halt at Finstock, close to Fawler bridge, gave the townships excellent communications with both Oxford and London; shortly afterwards Charlbury became a post town. (fn. 19) Both Charlbury station and Finstock halt were open in 1969.
Fawler bridge was first mentioned in 1298, (fn. 20) and Charlbury bridge, presumably on the site of the later Dyer's Hill bridge, in 1419. (fn. 21) In 1528 the bridges were repaired at the expense of Eynsham Abbey, (fn. 22) but in 1592 their repair was said to be the responsibility not of the lord but of the tenants. (fn. 23) St. John's College gave £5 towards the repair of Fawler bridge in 1614, but only as a charity, the village having been charged with the repair. (fn. 24) Both bridges were rebuilt c. 1800. (fn. 25)
No traces of stone-age or bronze-age settlement have been found in the parish, except for chance finds of flint arrow-heads and scrapers at Charlbury and of flint arrow-heads at Fawler, (fn. 26) but early settlement in the area is suggested by the existence of two round barrows and three earthworks in the neighbouring Cornbury Park, (fn. 27) and a barrow at Fawler. (fn. 28) A hoar stone, probably marking the site of another barrow, stood in a field to the east of Charlbury; it was destroyed, apparently to provide road building material, in the late 19th century. (fn. 29) The earthwork known as Grim's Ditch or Dyke, a small portion of which lies within Charlbury, was built about the time of the Roman Conquest, probably as a defence against the Romans. (fn. 30) The remains of a Roman villa, including the tesselated pavements from which Fawler derived its name, were discovered at Bury Close, Fawler, in the 19th century, and the site of another house at Oaklands Farm in the same township was revealed by aerial photography in 1935. (fn. 31) A Romano-British farm at Lee's Rest, Charlbury, was occupied from the first to the third century A. D. (fn. 32)
Place-name evidence suggests that Charlbury was settled fairly early in the Anglo-Saxon period; the name is probably a compound of the personal name Ceorl with burh (fortified place). (fn. 33) The existence of 7th-century Anglo-Saxon cemeteries at Chadlington and North Leigh confirms that there was some settlement in the area at that date. (fn. 34) Fawler, meaning at the variegated floor, Finstock (the place frequented by woodpeckers), and Tapwell (the spring associated with Tæppa) were settled later than Charlbury. The place-name Cote derives from cot(e), a cottage; the prevalence of the form Cotes, a Middle English plural, may imply post-Conquest settlement. (fn. 35)
In the 11th century Charlbury was said to be the burial place of St. Diuma, first bishop of the Mercians. (fn. 36) Diuma attracted no cult in the Middle Ages. He was an Irishman, one of the missionaries sent from Northumbria to Mercia in 653, was consecrated bishop in 656, and died in 658 in a region called Infeppingum in the territory of the Middle Angles. (fn. 37) It is possible, in the light of the 11thcentury association of Diuma with Charlbury, that he died there or in the area. (fn. 38) Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock are known to have been part of a great episcopal estate by the 11th century, (fn. 39) and Charlbury's connexion with an important early missionary suggests that it may have been an episcopal or royal estate in the mid 7th century.
The history of Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock has been influenced by the fact that much of its land was held by absentee landlords. The AngloSaxon episcopal estate passed in the late 11th century from the Bishop of Lincoln to Eynsham Abbey which held it until the Reformation, and thereafter it was held by St. John's College, Oxford, and its lessees, notably the Lee family of Ditchley; later the dukes of Marlborough, who purchased the nearby Cornbury Park in 1751, (fn. 40) built up a large estate in the three townships. Of those landlords the Lee family, which established a hunting lodge in Lee's Rest Wood and a dower-house, Lee Place, close to Charlbury, played some part in Charlbury affairs, and the Churchills and their successors at Cornbury took an interest in Finstock, notably in its church and school. Charlotte, Duchess of Beaufort (d. 1854), who lived at Cornbury Park and later at Heythrop, was interested in Charlbury and gave pensions to the elderly poor. (fn. 41) The leading inhabitants of the town, however, played a more consistently important part in its affairs, and particularly prominent in the 18th and 19th centuries were the Quaker families of Spendlove and Albright.
A market granted to Charlbury in the mid 13th century survived but did not flourish: not only was there competition from neighbouring market towns but also there is a suggestion that Eynsham Abbey itself did little to help it. (fn. 42) Charlbury remained a small community, largely dependent on the profits of agriculture but later acquiring a prosperous, if small-scale, gloving industry, which was also important in Fawler and Finstock. The population of Charlbury was only 965 in 1801; apart from a setback in the period 1831–41 the population rose steadily to 1,526 in 1851 (fn. 43) and fell steadily thereafter to a low point of 1,271 in 1931. By 1961 the population had risen to 1,649 and since that date the population has greatly increased because Charlbury has attracted large numbers of residents who commute to work elsewhere, particularly in Oxford and London. Finstock's population rose from 326 in 1801 to 534 in 1841, and fell again to 431 by 1911. In 1961 the population was 467. Fawler's population rose from 112 in 1801 to 161 in 1811, and fell to 123 in 1841. Numbers thereafter fluctuated, reaching a high point of 172 in 1891 but falling again to 155 in 1961. (fn. 44) Both hamlets, and particularly Finstock, have attracted commuters in the 1960s, and in 1969 the population of Finstock and Fawler was said to be 950. (fn. 45)
The town of Charlbury lies on the eastern bank of the River Evenlode between the 250 ft. and 350 ft. contours, roughly in the centre of the ancient parish and in the south-west corner of Charlbury township. To the north and west the land slopes steeply towards the river, and on the opposite bank are the well-wooded slopes of Cornbury Park. To the east the land rises sharply to 500 ft. in the centre of the township. A marked gully, Sandford Slade, runs through the town between Hixet Wood in the south and the rest of the town. The site provided plentiful water, not only from the river but also from wells and springs. The chief streets of the town form a T; Church Street runs eastwards from the church and is crossed at its eastern end by the line of Sheep Street, Market Street, and Thames Street, running from south to north. (fn. 46) Church Street broadens appreciably in the middle in the manner of streets accommodating markets and fairs. The uneven building line of the south side of the street in 1761 (fn. 47) suggests that it may once have been wider. On an island site at the widest point there was a shambles, removed in the early 19th century, and until the 1870s there was a timber-framed market cross (known as the Market House) at the east end of the street; the town stocks were beneath the eaves. (fn. 48) Street names show that the market overflowed into the narrower Market Street and Sheep Street. Most of the older houses lie on or close by those central streets; almost all face the street and there is little suggestion of development along alleys off the principal streets such as commonly occurs in more prosperous towns. (fn. 49) Charlbury's street plan was fully established by the mid 18th century (fn. 50) and although some of the lanes leading to the fields were later built up no new streets were laid out until the development on the outskirts of the town in the 20th century.
For the hearth tax of 1665 Sir Henry Lee was assessed on 19 hearths, Richard Eyrans on 9 hearths, one man on 6 hearths, 10 on 4 or 5 hearths, and 20 on 3 hearths or less. (fn. 51) Relatively few of the houses existing in 1665 survive intact but many survive in part behind 18th-century facades in the principal streets. The surviving 16th- and 17th-century houses, and indeed the smaller 18th- and 19thcentury houses, are remarkably homogeneous. Nearly all are of local stone rubble with stone slate roofs, and wooden lintels to doors and windows; most are of two stories with attic dormers and several have early bay windows. The earlier houses mostly have casement windows, and the 18thcentury houses have sash windows. A small timberframed cottage stood in Church Lane until the 20th century. Apart from the Priory and Lee Place (fn. 52) the most notable early houses are two adjoining late16th-century cottages in Thames Street, Armada Cottage and the Old Talbot, which was formerly an inn. (fn. 53) The properties were probably once a single house; both are built of random coursed rubble with stone slate roofs and casement windows, the windows in the Old Talbot being old, with leaded lights. Armada Cottage has a ground-floor bay window, and bears the date 1587. There is another early bay window on a 17th-century rubble house across the street. A much-restored 17thcentury house on the north side of the old grammar school has a coved wooden eaves-cornice and there is a similar cornice on Albright House in Church Street, which was almost certainly built in the 17th century although bearing an 18th-century facade; there is an apparently 17th-century chimney-piece in one of the rooms. An L-shaped farm-house on the east side of Playing Close has two four-light stone mullioned windows, a type of window otherwise noticed only at the Priory. Another 17thcentury house of farm-house type stands on the south side of the churchyard; it is an L-shaped 2-story rubble house with attic dormers, sash windows, wooden lintels, and the remains of stone chimneys, and bears the date 1666 and the initials E. E. A row of possibly 17th-century cottages behind the so called Manor House (fn. 54) was converted in the 20th century into a single house, Minster Cottage; a rubble cellar extends beneath most of the modern house.
Most of the grander houses in the town date from, or were extensively rebuilt in, the 18th century. On the east side of Market Street is a 2-story rubble house with five sash windows and a door flanked by stone Doric columns supporting an open pediment; on the north side of the house is an older 3-story wing. The facade may have been built by George Copland (d. 1748). (fn. 55) Grandchester House, set back from Thames Street, is a more ambitious, 3-story house with a parapet, sash windows, and a central circular window above an enriched door-case and hood. Corner House at the junction between Market Street and Brown's Lane is a stone-built valley-roofed house surmounted by a lantern; the sash windows have prominent keystones and there is a fan-light above the door. The east-facing range has an 18th-century façade and parapet. The west range of the house was built in the 1720s by William Spendlove, maltster, whose family owned Corner House for many years. (fn. 56) Since 1947 the house has been used as a town hall and a library. The site of Corner House was occupied in 1447 by Richard Brown, from whom Brown's Lane took its name. (fn. 57) Standing in its own grounds on the north side of Dyer's Hill is the Poplars, a large 18th-century house with later additions; it has been a doctor's house since at least 1887. (fn. 58) Another notable 18th-century house stands on the north side of Brown's Lane flanked by two contemporary cottages; the house bears an illegible 18th-century date and the initials R.W.M., perhaps for William Ryman and his wife. Most of the houses in Church Street have 18th-century facades; on the north side of the street 'Sunnyside' and the next house to the east both have sash windows with stone architraves and keystones, and moulded stone eaves-cornices. Further east Albright House and two adjoining cottages (formerly a single house) form a group. On the south side of the street may be mentioned the Bell Inn, which bears the date 1700, and is notable for the 2-story bays either side of the doorway; a house to the east, which has a sixpanelled door and a contemporary bay window; and the former Royal Oak Inn, a 2-story house with four sash windows, three attic dormers, and boxedout windows on the ground floor. Gothic House has bowed sash windows on the ground floor and a door with a fan-light and an open pediment; on the east side is a much later, crude extension from which the house derives its name.
There was some building activity away from the centre of the town in the 18th century; there were rubble cottages on the east of Playing Close and at Hixet Wood, south of the gully known as Sandford Slade; the position of the Hixet Wood settlement suggests that it may have been associated with the nearby Lee Place, accommodating estate employees. By the mid 18th century there was a group of buildings east of Charlbury at Sandford Slade (fn. 59) and of those buildings a thatched rubble cottage and a large 3-story, L-shaped house with wooden lintels to windows and doors have survived. By 1820 there was a house and a row of cottages at Baywell Gate at the southern entrance to Charlbury township; the house was originally named Wellington Cottage after its owner, Mary Wellington, and the associated brick cottages now bear that name. The turnpike house at Baywell was also used as a cottage until its demolition in the 1960s. The well after which the area is named stands close to the turning to Cornbury Park, and is roofed with stone slate.
In 1823 it was reported that the glove industry had attracted so much population to the town that there was 'hardly an old malt-house, barn, stable, or hovel, but is converted into a dwelling house'. (fn. 60) Although there was considerable building in the central streets of the town in the 19th century the use of local stone rubble and stone slate continued, and the later buildings are mostly unobtrusive. The built-up area expanded along Sheep Street, Fisher's Lane, Hixet Wood, and round Playing Close. In the 1880s and 1890s a row of semidetached stone and brick houses was built at Crawborough, between Playing Close and Sturt Road. With the further growth of the glove industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries small factories were built on the outskirts of the town and in open spaces behind houses closer to the town centre. A factory dated 1896, with associated cottages, survives, as a Youth Hostel, on the Ditchley Road; a later factory behind the Methodist chapel has been converted into flats and a warehouse; a small glove factory built in the 1930s near Baywell Gate was taken over in 1968 by a firm of electrical engineers. A factory on Park Street, owned in 1969 by Wesley Barrell (Witney) Ltd., bedding manufacturers, was a brewery owned by the Sessions family in the 19th century, and later a wool depot and warehouse. (fn. 61) Other 19th-century additions to the town included the Baptist, Wesleyan, and Primitive Methodist chapels, the Gothic vicaragehouse (named the Old Rectory in the 1960s), the British schools on the west side of Playing Close, the grammar-school building on the south of the town beside the wall of Lee Place, and a number of substantial houses standing in grounds at the eastern edge of the town; among the latter may be mentioned Hazeldean built by John Albright in 1858 and Wychwood House, built by a cousin, Joseph Albright. (fn. 62) The fountain in the Playing Close, designed by John Kibble, a local builder, was presented by Harvey du Cros of Cornbury Park to commemorate the visit of Queen Victoria in 1886 (when she passed through Charlbury on her way to Cornbury Park), the supply of piped water to the town in 1896, and the queen's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. (fn. 63)
In the 20th century some houses were built along Brown's Lane and Hundley Way, and after the Second World War council houses were built on Sturt Road, but Charlbury expanded little until the 1960s. A council estate was then built along Nine Acres Lane, and another on the south of the town along Sturt Road and between it and Hixet Wood; there are private estates to the north of Nine Acres Lane, in the new Nine Acres Close, and to the east, along both sides of Sturt Road. An estate on the north side of the gully includes a number of houses specially designed for old people. Detached houses and bungalows have been built on both sides of the road to Woodstock and at Crawborough. There was some infilling closer to the town centre, notably in Church Lane, and a supermarket was built in Market Street.
Nine inns were licensed in Charlbury in 1786, including the 'Bell', the 'Bull', the 'Rose and Crown', and the 'White Hart', (fn. 64) all of which survived as inn signs in 1969. The 'Bell', which bears the date 1700, was mentioned in 1769, (fn. 65) the Bull Inn in Market Street is a 17th-century building, the 'White Hart' appears to be 18th-century, but has been much restored. The 'Rose and Crown', first mentioned as an inn in 1756, was burnt down c. 1903; its replacement was built on the same corner site in Church Street. (fn. 66) Another inn mentioned in 1756 was the 'Blue Boar'. (fn. 67) From at least 1786 until 1800 Lee's Rest was licensed as an inn. (fn. 68) In the mid 19th century there were other inns, the 'Greyhound' or 'Dog', known as the 'Talbot' from 1864 until its closure in the early 20th century, and the 'Royal Oak'. In 1853 there were numerous ale-houses, notably the 'Queen's Own', the name of which still survives on a private house in Church Lane, the 'Marlborough Arms', presumably identifiable with the surviving 'Marlborough Arms' on Park Street, and the Railway Inn. (fn. 69)
A Temperance Society was founded in 1832, and c. 1880 the Royal Oak Inn in Church Street was purchased by Arthur Albright and converted into a coffee house and temperance hotel. (fn. 70) Arthur Albright provided also a reading room, a town hall, and the site for a Y.M.C.A. room. (fn. 71) The latter, a brick built hall in a lane on the east side of Park Street was built in 1889 and bears a plaque to the memory of its founder, Joseph Albany Bowl (d. 1951). The town hall was a building behind the 'Royal Oak'. In 1943 the parish meeting declined to purchase the town hall and the 'Royal Oak' from the executors of William A. Albright, and decided to build a new hall on a site behind Corner House provided by C. H. Morris of Lee Place. Corner House itself was, in the event, given by the Morris family as a town hall and library and was first used for a parish meeting in 1947. (fn. 72) The old town hall was used as a cinema until 1960; the 'Royal Oak' became a private house. The Charlbury Society, formed in 1949 as a result of a historical exhibition, and interested in the town's history, conservation, and amenities, provided a small local history museum opened in 1952 in the Corner House.
The Playing Close in Brown's Lane was already a recreation ground c. 1447. (fn. 73) Bull-baiting took place there until 1820, (fn. 74) and in the 18th and 19th centuries one at least of Charlbury's four fairs was held there. (fn. 75) The Bell Inn in Church Street was the site of the Whitsun Ale, which was held every seven years into the 19th century; the attractions included a maypole and bull-baiting. (fn. 76) In the early 20th century the mill pond was equipped for boating and bathing and was improved by the parish council in the 1960s. (fn. 77) Land for a recreation ground at Nine Acres was provided in 1924 by Samuel Shilson and W. A. Albright and was organized as a permanent recreation ground in the 1950s; at the same time surplus money from the town's Coronation fund was spent on a playground at Sturt Road field. (fn. 78) In the late 19th century Charlbury was holding an annual athletic and sports day on Whit Monday. There are cricket and football clubs in Charlbury; the cricket club was clearly in existence some time before 1885, when the New Cricket Ground was behind the White Hart Inn. (fn. 79) Later the cricket ground was moved to a site beyond Dyer's Hill Bridge.
A scheme for lighting the town with gas lamps was apparently in hand in 1853, but no gas works seem to have been built until c. 1880. (fn. 80) In 1895 the town was lighted by 9 oil lamps and 20 gas lamps; from that year the parish meeting each year agreed on a sum to be spent on lighting the town, and in 1904 applied to the gas company (United District) to extend the gas mains. Electricity was available by 1929 when the parish council signed a 10-year contract for electric light in the town. (fn. 81) In 1887 a burial ground of 1¼ a. was opened and was controlled by a Burial Board until the parish council was formed in 1895. (fn. 82) Main drainage and sewerage was established in the 1890s, and a sewage works built later on the west side of the railway. (fn. 83) The Charlbury Water Works Co., formed in 1896 largely through the efforts of Arthur Albright, made use of the numerous springs in Wigwell field to the north of Nine Acres Lane to supply a reservoir; mains water was available to the town within a year, and the company supplied the town's water until 1939 when Chipping Norton Rural District Council took over. (fn. 84) There was a volunteer fire brigade in Charlbury begun in the 1880s probably by Capt. J. H. Waller of Lee Place, its captain for many years; it was still in existence in 1939; in 1948 the Oxfordshire County Council assumed responsibility for fire-fighting in Charlbury. (fn. 85) The parish council continue to appoint to the traditional office of town crier. (fn. 86)
Close to the north-eastern boundary of Charlbury township lay the hamlet of Cote, divided from Spelsbury, only ½ mile away, by the Coldron Brook. In 1279 the hamlet contained 13 yardlands held by 12 tenants; (fn. 87) part of the hamlet was later considered to lie in Spelsbury. (fn. 88) Cote was clearly a well-established small community in the 14th century but apparently suffered heavily during the Black Death and may have reverted to waste. From at least the mid 15th century Eynsham Abbey let the manor to farm and there is no evidence that any of the tenants lived in Cote. Sixteenth-century references suggest that Cote had been largely divided at some date into pasture closes: even if the hamlet recovered from the Black Death it was probably deserted by the 16th century. (fn. 89) The site lies ¼ mile to the north-west of Conygree Farm and to the west of Coathouse Farm covering two fields sloping down to the Coldron Brook. In dry weather house and barn sites and hollow ways are clearly visible. (fn. 90)
Finstock lies south-west of the River Evenlode between the 400 ft. and 500 ft. contours close to the southern edge of the ancient parish of Charlbury on the Witney-Charlbury road. The houses are scattered in and along the perimeter of a large triangle formed by that road and two others, School Road which runs southward to the Plough Inn, and a lane running westwards from the Plough to rejoin the Witney-Charlbury road near Gadding Well. The name Gadding (or Gadden) (fn. 91) may serve to identify Gatesdeneheved, mentioned in 1298 as a point in the Wychwood forest perambulation, the route of which followed the Witney-Charlbury road through Finstock. (fn. 92) The surviving older buildings are concentrated at four main points on the triangle; one group on the main road around the 19th-century church, one at the northern end of School Road around the Green (or Cross), dominated by Manor Farm and the Crown Inn, one around what appears to have been another triangular green in front of the Plough Inn, and a fourth towards the western end of the lane to Gadding Well. The hamlet was populated chiefly by small farmers and labourers, and in 1665, apart from one man assessed on 7 hearths (presumably the tenant of Manor Farm) the 13 people assessed for tax and the 2 discharged by poverty were assessed on three hearths or fewer. (fn. 93) Manor Farm, occupied throughout the 19th century by the Bolton family, (fn. 94) is a large rubble house of 2½ stories with long and short chamfered stone quoins and a stone slate roof. The ground floor has two 4-light stone mullioned windows and a four-centred arched doorway. The first floor has three 3-light stone mullioned windows with a continuous dripmould. There are three gables with stone verges and finials and containing remarkable oval windows. The main block bears the date 1660. The other older houses and cottages, built of local stone rubble and stone slates or thatch are modest buildings of 1½ or 2 stories, with wooden lintels to doors and windows. To the west of the Plough Inn is a 2-story stone rubble and thatched cottage bearing the date 1666 and the initials W.C.; it has a projecting gable wing with a stone slate roof. Among the 18th-century houses may be mentioned a 2-story rubble farmhouse with attic dormers on the north side of the lane to Gadding Well; it bears the date 1744 and has a stone slate roof, sash windows, and an enriched wooden door-frame with a flat hood; in 1847 the house was occupied by David Colcutt. (fn. 95) Some small stone villas and a number of labourers' cottages, many of them in terraced rows, were built in the 19th century. The focus of the hamlet was changed to some extent by the building of the 19th-century church and vicarage on the Witney-Charlbury road and opposite to them a sizeable 3-story house in its own grounds, Finstock House. Other 19th-century buildings were the National School (1860) and the Wesleyan chapel and school (1840, 1902). On the Green is a memorial cross to the men of Finstock and Fawler who died in the First World War. At the southern end of School Road is a prefabricated village hall which was a glove factory until c. 1938. (fn. 96) The character of the hamlet has been changed in the 20th century by extensive building: on the west side of School Road is a large council estate, and in the 1960s numerous houses and bungalows were built at the southern end of School Road, the western end of the lane to Gadding Well, and in spaces between the older houses. The surviving inns, the 'Crown' and the 'Plough', were first mentioned in 1788 but were probably the two licensed in Finstock in 1780; the 'Plough' bears the date 1772. Another inn, the 'Butcher's Arms', referred to in 1791, was evidently short-lived. (fn. 97) In 1847 the house to the west of the 'Plough' was described as formerly the 'Harrow' public house, and the 'Churchill Arms' was in a house, still surviving, on the lane to Gadding Well. (fn. 98)
The hamlet of Tapwell lay within Finstock township but its site has not been certainly identified. It was a small settlement, for only 5 men were assessed for tax in 1306 and it and Finstock together contained only 7 yardlands in 1347, when their inhabitants complained that they were reduced to poverty by the high tax assessment on their villages. (fn. 99) There were apparently two houses on the site of the hamlet as late as the 16th century. (fn. 100) The names Topples Field, Topples Ground, and Tapwall [sic] Field were recorded in the mid 19th century, as was the name Grant's field, which recalls the name of a 13th-century landlord of Tapwell. All those names applied to land near to the surviving Topples Lane and Topples Wood. (fn. 101) Running north-eastwards from Topples Wood towards the River Evenlode is a lane, largely overgrown, boring deeply between steep banks and coming to a ford, close to Fawler, which was known as Dunford and was still used in the 19th century. (fn. 102) Since there was from early times a convenient and more important river crossing only a short distance up river at Fawler bridge it seems likely that the hollow way and Topples Lane, which links the hollow way to Wilcote and Finstock, developed principally to serve Tapwell rather than to reach the ford: Tapwell was therefore probably on or close to the hollow way.
Except for Fawler Mill, which lies ½ mile up river, and three outlying farms the houses and cottages of Fawler hamlet lie close together on the Charlbury-Stonesfield road c. 2 miles from Charlbury on the eastern bank of the River Evenlode. A short lane from the main road towards the river leads into the green, which has a few cottages scattered around it. In 1665 only 7 men were assessed for hearth tax, one on 8 hearths (perhaps Manor Farm), one on 4, one on 3, and two on one hearth, and one man was discharged payment on 4 hearths; the most considerable tax payer was James Perrot, who was assessed on 17 hearths, probably contained in several properties since no great house is known to have been built in the township. (fn. 103) One sizeable farm house was taken down in the mid 19th century but was not large enough to be identified as Perrot's house. It was occupied in 1847 by William Bolton, the second largest tenant farmer in the township. (fn. 104) A large claypit later obliterated the site. The predominant building materials are local stone rubble and slate, and the cottages have wooden lintels to windows and doors. One cottage bears the date 1690 and the initials I. H. There are two larger houses, one a 17th-century L-shaped stone rubble house close to the river, the other Manor Farm, a 3-story stone house, probably 17th-century in origin but much altered. A number of cottages were taken down between 1847 and 1881, presumably because of depopulation. Around the hamlet are disused claypits, quarries, and ironstone mines. The ironstone mines were begun after the coming of the railway, to which they were linked by a short track; they were disused in 1881 but were apparently reopened in the late 19th century. (fn. 105) The three outlying farm-houses Oaklands, Hill Barn, and Bevis are 19th-century buildings. Bevis Farm, which belonged to the Ditchley estate, was named after a dog which reputedly saved the life of its master, Sir Henry Lee (d. 1611). (fn. 106)
The history of Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock has been comparatively uneventful. The Black Death was clearly disruptive (fn. 107) and further epidemics were recorded in 1583, c. 1720, and c. 1800. (fn. 108) Gaps in the parish register suggest that the life of Charlbury and its hamlets was adversely affected during the civil war, although the parish was not directly concerned in any manœuvres. There were civil disturbances in 1596, when Lee's Rest was apparently threatened, for reasons unknown, by a mob from Witney; (fn. 109) in 1693 when Charlbury men took the law into their own hands and set upon the waggons of a man ingrossing corn; (fn. 110) and in 1800 when, during food riots widespread throughout the Midlands in that year, c. 20 tradesmen and artisans from Witney came to Fawler mill to require the miller to grind corn more cheaply. (fn. 111) Of old customs recorded may be mentioned that of presenting a Charlbury inhabitant with a flitch of bacon for minding his or her own business during the previous forty years; the custom apparently died out in the 18th or early 19th century. (fn. 112) Both Charlbury and Finstock had friendly societies, and the annual Club days, held apparently at Finstock on Ascension Day, and at Charlbury on Oak Apple Day (29 May), were important festivals, as were the Whitsun Ale at Charlbury and at Finstock the Youth Ale. (fn. 113) In 1829, under the chairmanship of the vicar Thomas Silver, a self-supporting charitable dispensary was formed for Charlbury and area, to pay medical fees when required; (fn. 114) nothing further is known of it. Of the five friendly societies established before 1857 the Foresters' was the most popular, but the curate G. J. Davies (1854–7), who took a great interest in the societies, regarded the Oxfordshire most favourably. The latter was known locally as Lord Churchill's Club, after the manager of the Finstock branch, and the Charlbury branch was managed by Benjamin Whippy of Lee Place. The other clubs were the Glovers and two attached to inns, the 'Bell' and 'Crown', which were strongly disapproved of by Davies because they spent too much of their income on festivities. (fn. 115)
Larkum Kendal (1721–95), chronometer-maker, who made the chronometer used by Captain Cook, lived in Charlbury. (fn. 116) The town was fortunate in having a number of notable incumbents. (fn. 117) Other distinguished residents were members of the prosperous Quaker community in the town. William Albright (1776–1852) was a founding member of the Peace Society in 1816, and an active supporter of it thereafter. His son Arthur, who later settled in Birmingham, developed amorphous phosphorous, a specimen of which he showed at the Great Exhibition in 1851. The phosphorous was later used by a Swedish firm in the manufacture of safety matches. (fn. 118) Edmund Sturge (d. 1893), active in the Anti-Slavery Society, married Arthur's sister, Lydia, and lived in Charlbury for much of his life. (fn. 119) Perhaps his greatest achievement in the anti-slavery movement was to bring together leaders of many Christian denominations on a single platform. During the agricultural depression he helped farmers and labourers to emigrate, chiefly to Canada. (fn. 120) His ecumenical interests were carried on by another Charlbury Quaker, Caroline Westcombe Pumphrey, a devoted friend of missionaries, whose influence may probably be discerned in a series of ecumenical services held at the end of the 19th century in the Charlbury Friends' meetinghouse.
Manor and Other Estates.
In 1086 CHARLBURY, with Finstock, Fawler, and Cote, was almost certainly included in the 50-hide Banbury manor held by the Bishop of Lincoln. (fn. 121) Like the other estates in Banbury hundred it had probably formed part of the possessions of the bishopric of Dorchester before the see was transferred to Lincoln in the reign of William I. (fn. 122) In 1094 Robert, Bishop of Lincoln, granted Charlbury in exchange for Newark and Stowe (Notts.) to Eynsham Abbey, (fn. 123) which thereafter retained the lordship. By 1094 Charlbury manor evidently included the hamlet of Cote and part of Finstock; Fawler had probably been granted by that date to one or more of the bishop's knights. (fn. 124)
After the dissolution of the abbey Henry VIII granted Charlbury manor in tail male to Sir George Darcy, (fn. 125) who held a court there on 1 September 1539, (fn. 126) but in 1543 the grant was surrendered in order that the form might be altered. (fn. 127) A grant in fee was accordingly made to Sir George in June 1543, (fn. 128) but in July the king bestowed the manor on Sir Edward North. (fn. 129) Shortly afterwards both Darcy and North quitclaimed the estate to the Crown (fn. 130) and in 1546 a fresh grant was made to Sir Edward North. (fn. 131) Later, however, it was claimed that the manor had come into the hands of George Owen, the king's physician, from whom it had been bought by Henry VIII towards the end of 1546; and in 1547 Edward VI granted it to the Bishop of Oxford. (fn. 132)
In the meantime Sir Edward North, presumably in ignorance of those transactions, had conveyed Charlbury to Sir Thomas White, who in 1555 included it in the endowment of his newly founded college of St. John the Baptist in Oxford. (fn. 133) Robert King, Bishop of Oxford, held the court of Charlbury manor in 1552, (fn. 134) and the see apparently remained undisturbed in possession until 1589 when Elizabeth I acquired the estate from John Underhill, Bishop of Oxford, and granted it to Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and certain feoffees to his use. (fn. 135) In 1590 Essex and his feoffees sold it to Robert Chamberlain and Philip Scudamore, (fn. 136) and it was then discovered that Sir Thomas White had previously entered on the property, and that possession had been confirmed to St. John's College in 1574. (fn. 137)
It was necessary for the college to come to an agreement not only with Robert Chamberlain and Philip Scudamore but also with John Chamberlain, to whom Robert and Philip had in 1590 granted a 99-year lease of the manor and a 1,000-year lease of certain other lands. (fn. 138) Accordingly the reversion of the land with immediate possession of the manorial rights was conveyed by Robert Chamberlain and Philip Scudamore to the college, which was to receive the profits from wards, heriots, and other manorial dues, and half the profits of the court. John Chamberlain, who was to have a lease of the manor for three lives, agreed that a heriot of £10 should be paid at each death and that he would, upon notice from the college, find room and diet for 12 scholars during a time of plague or sickness in Oxford or its suburbs. Chamberlain was to hold the court, giving 14 days' notice to the President and Fellows of St. John's, and providing lodging and food for up to five visitors from the college. (fn. 139)
By 1592 John Chamberlain had conveyed the lease to Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, (fn. 140) from whom, on his death without issue in 1611, it passed to his cousin Sir Henry Lee (d. 1631). In 1619 the college brought an action against Sir Henry Lee stating that he gave no notice of the holding of courts, nor gave the college its moiety of the profits, whereby it had been deprived of at least £500. (fn. 141) St. John's does not seem later to have objected to the Lees as tenants, for the lease was renewed for successive terms of three lives, and was held by the heads of the Lee family until the male line died out in 1776. (fn. 142) The lease was thus held by Sir Francis Henry Lee (d. 1639), Sir Henry Lee (d. 1659), Sir Francis Henry Lee (d. 1667), Sir Edward Henry Lee, created Earl of Lichfield (d. 1716), George Henry Lee, Earl of Lichfield (d. 1742), George Henry Lee, Earl of Lichfield (d. 1772), and Robert Lee, Earl of Lichfield (d. 1776). On Robert's death the lease was not granted to his successor at Ditchley, Henry Dillon, Viscount Dillon, (fn. 143) and Charlbury remained in the hands of St. John's College until 1857, when it passed by exchange to Francis Spencer, Baron Churchill of Wychwood. (fn. 144) On his death in 1886 it passed to his son Victor who, in 1896, sold it with the Cornbury Park estate to Mr. Harvey du Cros. The estate was sold to Vernon J. Watney in 1901, by which date most of the manorial rights had lapsed.
Eynsham Abbey's court-house is identifiable with the house called the Priory to the south-west of the church: that is clear from the comparison of the surrounding field names in a survey of 1363 with a map of 1761. (fn. 145) The garden includes much of the original court close, and the foundations of a building to the south-west of the surviving house may be those of a barn where tithes were garnered in 1390. (fn. 146) Additions were made to Eynsham's court-house in 1340–1 and new stables were built. (fn. 147) In 1363 Richard London and his wife Joan were paying 6s. 8d. a year for a property, presumably the courthouse, and were charged with holding courts whenever the abbot wished. (fn. 148) They were lessees for their two lives and may have been preceded by John of London who appears in connexion with Charlbury from 1306 to 1329. (fn. 149) Richard London was farming the demesne in 1349. (fn. 150) He was alive in 1367 but his lease had presumably expired by 1379 when two Eynsham monks held the court. (fn. 151) After the Bishop of Lincoln's injunction of 1434 which set a 5-year limit on leases of the abbey's lands (fn. 152) the court-house and its closes seem to have been let for short periods only. About 1447 a freehold toft called le Boold, formerly called the manor-house, was occupied by William Eton. Richard Ashe was farmer of the demesne in 1448–9, though he may not have held the court-house. Thomas Pawley held the 'manor' and demesne in 1456 and 1470. (fn. 153) Subsequent lessees of the house were John Davy and William Shepherd (one of whom succeeded the other in 1527–8), Thomas Harris (before 1590), and John Rainsford (1590). (fn. 154) John Chamberlain took a lease of the house and grounds in 1590 for the lives of himself and his two grandsons, but presumably because the profits of court were not included in the lease, the courts were subsequently held in the church-house. (fn. 155) The old court-house was used thereafter as a farm-house and in the 19th century its name was changed from Padbury's Farm to the Priory on the mistaken assumption that there had been a priory in Charlbury and that this house was the only one old enough and large enough to be identified as such. The house is a 2-story coursed rubble building roofed with stone slate and distinguished by three-, four-, and five-light windows, some with stone mullions, some with wood mullions and transoms. The main block appears to be of the 16th or 17th century, but the house contains work which may be earlier, notable the screens passage. The dining room contains a fine beamed ceiling and a stone fireplace.
The only subordinate freehold of any size in Charlbury township during the Middle Ages was held by successive members of the Taillard family, which also held land in Fawler. (fn. 156) The freehold, assessed at ½ hide, had been held of Eynsham Abbey by a certain Aelfwin, and then by Ralph Taillard and his son William before it was granted, between 1160 and 1180, by the Abbot of Eynsham to William's son Gilbert and his heirs. (fn. 157) Early in the 13th century Gilbert or his son of the same name held ½ hide of the Abbot of Eynsham. (fn. 158) By 1279 the land had passed to Nicholas Taillard, a free tenant of the abbey, who held 1½ yardland. (fn. 159) The Taillard holding probably increased in size shortly afterwards, either by assart or by a lease of part of the demesne, since James Taillard was paying rent of 11s. 6d. a year c. 1310, compared with only 6s. 6d. in 1279. (fn. 160) James and Robert Taillard, assessed for the thirtieth in Charlbury in 1327, (fn. 161) were the last Taillards to be mentioned in connexion with Charlbury.
In addition to his lease of the manor, Sir Henry Lee (d. 1611) and his descendants acquired a large freehold and copyhold estate in Charlbury and its hamlets, chiefly in Abbots Wood (later Lee's Rest Wood). The wood, which formed part of Charlbury manor, had been leased for a term of years by Sir Edward North to Rowland Grey of Eynsham in 1543. (fn. 162) In 1550 the term was conveyed to William Fermour of Somerton. (fn. 163) In 1590 Sir Henry Lee bought the woods from Robert Chamberlain and Philip Scudamore, (fn. 164) and in 1593 Giles Campden of Finstock, who presumably held the residue of the lease created by Sir Edward North, quitclaimed to Sir Henry Lee all his interest in Abbots Wood, then in Sir Henry's possession. (fn. 165) In 1610 the woods were confirmed to Sir Henry by letters patent. (fn. 166) About the same time Sir Henry bought Cote Closes (c. 30 a.) from Francis Priddie. (fn. 167) In 1761 about 234 a. in Charlbury (including the 204 a. of Lee's Rest Wood) belonged to George Henry Lee, Earl of Lichfield (d. 1772), and about 40 a., the Lee Place estate, to his uncle Robert, later Earl of Lichfield. (fn. 168) Robert Lee sold Lee Place on succeeding to the earldom. The other Lee estates in Charlbury (divided into two farms, Lee's Rest and Bevis) passed on his death to his niece, Charlotte, and to her heirs the Viscounts Dillon, remaining in that family until 1920. (fn. 169)
Lee Place stands in its own grounds on the south side of Charlbury. The older portion of the building is certainly 17th-century or earlier and may not have been built by the Lee family. An extent of the Lee estates in 1639 mentions another house in Charlbury, Lee's Rest, but not Lee Place. (fn. 170) In 1665 Sir Henry Lee was assessed for tax on 19 hearths in Charlbury, all of which may have been at Lee's Rest. (fn. 171) There is a strong local tradition, supported by architectural evidence, that Lee Place was rebuilt as a dower-house for Charlotte, Countess of Lichfield (d. 1718), (fn. 172) who survived her husband by 18 months. Robert Lee (d. 1776) lived there until he succeeded to the earldom of Lichfield and moved to Ditchley Park in 1772, selling Lee Place to Benjamin Holloway. The Holloways held Lee Place until 1832 when it was sold to Benjamin John Whippy. (fn. 173) In 1868 the house and estate, at that date c. 30 a., was sold by Whippy's trustees to John Roupell. Roupell sold it in 1876 to Gilbert Childs from whom it passed in 1879 to Elizabeth Young. (fn. 174) Capt. J. H. Waller was owner from c. 1880 until at least 1920. (fn. 175) By 1939 it was owned by C.H. Morris who sold it in 1953 to John Spencer Churchill, Marquess of Blandford. (fn. 176)
The house was 'Palladianized' in the early 18th century. In the 1720s James Gibbs was working on the Lees' house at Ditchley and certain points of similarity in the two houses, (fn. 177) and the date 1725 on the clock of the stable block, suggest that the same architect may have been employed. The central block of Lee Place is a 2-story ashlar building with attic dormers, surmounted by a bold pediment supported on four pilasters running the full height of the walls. The pediment frames a large semi-circular fan-light; there are large sash windows and a pedimented central doorway. The block is flanked by single-story wings with Venetian windows, cornices, and parapets bearing ball finials. The interior contains an early-18th-century staircase and in the dining room and the garden room fine plaster ceilings in the French rocaille style. The modest height of the garden room and other rooms in the central block suggests that they formed part of an earlier house. There is a large symmetrical stable block surmounted by a hexagonal cupola. (fn. 178)
Sir Henry Lee (d. 1611) built a hunting lodge, Lee's Rest, in his Charlbury woods probably in the 1590s; his mistress Anne Vavasour lived there, and James I and his queen were entertained there. Sir Henry Lee granted the trustees of Anne Vavasour a 60-year lease of Lee's Rest after his death. (fn. 179) The house was still there in 1690 when Edward Lee, Earl of Lichfield, granted his doctor an annuity of £100 from it. (fn. 180) The house was apparently pulled down soon after 1720, (fn. 181) but there was a farm-house on the site by 1768. (fn. 182) The surviving building has been heavily restored and there is no indication of building earlier than the 18th century. The hunting lodge stood in front of the present house, facing south and looking on to a garden or enclosure at the end of which was a terrace. (fn. 183)
The rectory estate, comprising the great tithes of the parish, followed the descent of the manor of Charlbury until 1590, when Robert Chamberlain and Philip Scudamore granted it to Richard Eyrans (Jans, Eyans) and George Tennant of Charlbury. (fn. 184) The Charlbury part of the rectory did not, like the glebe and tithes of Chadlington and Shorthampton, (fn. 185) pass to St. John's College, but was settled on Richard Eyrans in 1617 (fn. 186) and passed to his son Anthony; in 1719 Richard Eyrans sold it to Sir Robert Jenkinson of Walcot. (fn. 187) In 1759 Sir Robert Jenkinson granted the rectory of Charlbury to the Duke of Marlborough for a term of 1,000 years. (fn. 188)
In the Middle Ages, the rectorial tithes were let to farm by Eynsham Abbey, (fn. 189) and the practice was continued by later holders of the rectory. In 1470 the tithes of Charlbury and Cote were leased for £5, those of Fawler for 20 quarters of wheat and £3 6s. 8d., and those of Finstock for £4. (fn. 190) The last man to hold the tithes of Charlbury and Cote at farm from Eynsham Abbey was John Barry; from him the lease passed to Thomas Preedy of Fawler and William Shepherd of Charlbury, who in turn conveyed it to John Chamberlain in 1590, (fn. 191) after which there is no further record of the lease. The tithes of Fawler, which had followed the descent of the rest of the rectory estate, were leased by Robert Chamberlain, Philip Scudamore, and John Chamberlain, to John Preedy and William Hodges for a term of 1,000 years from 1590. (fn. 192) William Hodges conveyed his moiety to his son John in 1590. The other moiety remained in the Preedy family until 1659 when it was sold to William Rawlins, who in 1660 sold it to James Perrot. By 1667 Perrot had acquired the other moiety as well, and the whole of the tithes of Fawler was included among the Perrot estates sold to the Duke of Marlborough's trustees in 1756. (fn. 193)
In 1847 a rent-charge of £683 12s. 6d. was awarded to George Spencer Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, for the great tithes of Charlbury and Fawler. The great tithes of Finstock, which may have been separately leased after the Reformation, were held in 1847 by three impropriators, Francis Spencer, Lord Churchill, who was awarded a rent charge of £165 6s., and two other Finstock landowners, Sarah Castle and Martha Robinson, who held tithes commuted for rent-charges of £35 11s. and £4, probably the tithes of their own lands. (fn. 194)
In addition to the rectory estate the dukes of Marlborough acquired other lands in Charlbury after purchasing Cornbury Park in 1751. (fn. 195) In 1759 the Marlborough trustees bought the estate of Sir Robert Jenkinson of Walcot which included extensive lands in Charlbury, some of which had been acquired from the Eyrans family. (fn. 196) By 1761 the duke's five tenants in Charlbury held c. 746 a. in the township, (fn. 197) and the duke's estates expanded further in the early 19th century bringing the total acreage to 876 a. in 1847. (fn. 198) Much of the estate was sold in the early 20th century.
In the early 13th century the chief landholder in FINSTOCK was Robert Grant who held of Eynsham Abbey. He was perhaps a descendant of William Magnus, who had claimed land in Finstock in Stephen's reign, and had been granted an estate there by the Abbot of Eynsham. (fn. 199) Between 1215 and 1223 the abbot and convent granted Robert Grant his land in Finstock and an assart which they had recovered from Robert Arsic and Peter Staninges (perhaps the yardland known as 'Cristesmel' earlier granted to Adam Butler). (fn. 200) Robert Grant's son, William, between 1241 and 1264 granted all his land in Finstock to Eynsham Abbey, in return for a corrody. (fn. 201) Robert's land perhaps included the one yardland which the heirs of Gilbert of Finstock held of the abbot in 1279. (fn. 202)
There was at least one other estate in FINSTOCK in the 12th century, for between 1154 and 1161, Reynold of St. Valery, who held two knight's fees of the Bishop of Lincoln in 1166, (fn. 203) confirmed to Eynsham Abbey a gift of land in Finstock made by Ralph Bassett; (fn. 204) the grant was again confirmed c. 1200 by Reynold's grandson Thomas, who stated that the land was to be held of him and his heirs, (fn. 205) but there is no further record of the family of St. Valery in Finstock, or of their fee there. In 1205 Peter Talemasch quitclaimed ½ fee in Finstock to the Abbot of Eynsham. (fn. 206)
The hamlet of TAPWELL was in the king's hands in the 13th century. Before 1279 a house and 13 a. there were held of the king by Robert Grant, by serjeanty of guarding the wood gate of Woodstock when the king stayed there. Robert granted the house and 10 a. to Eynsham Abbey, which in 1285 procured the commutation of the serjeanty to a rentcharge of 2s. a year; (fn. 207) Robert sold the remaining 3 a. to Thomas of Langley. (fn. 208)
By 1094 FAWLER had probably been granted to some of the Bishop of Lincoln's knights, and in 1166 Richard of Stoke and Robert Chevauchesul held land there of the bishop. (fn. 209) The fees held by Richard of Stoke in 1166 passed by 1208 to Robert of Stoke, probably identical with the Robert de Wykeham who confirmed a grant of land in Fawler to Eynsham Abbey between 1213 and 1228. (fn. 210) In 1279 6 yardlands and one hidata in Fawler were held of the fee of Robert de Wykeham, (fn. 211) and in 1346 another Robert de Wykeham held 2½ knight's fees in Swalcliffe, Wickham, and Fawler. (fn. 212) In 1385 his nephew Thomas Wykeham confirmed to the Abbot and Convent of Eynsham all the land which they held of him in Fawler. (fn. 213) In 1428 Robert Wykeham and Lewis Greville held land in Fawler which had belonged to Robert Danvers. (fn. 214) The overlordship of the fee perhaps followed the descent of Swalcliffe, (fn. 215) but after 1428 the Wykehams do not appear specifically in connexion with Fawler.
In the early 13th century Thomas Caperun and William le Blund were subtenants of the Wykeham fee in Fawler. In 1205–6 Thomas Caperun was involved in a lawsuit over ⅓ knight's fee in Fawler with William Frances, son of Robert and Alice Frances, (fn. 216) who was his tenant at Epwell. (fn. 217) William claimed the 6 yardlands as the inheritance of his uncle, but he failed to appear to plead his case, and Thomas retained the land. Between 1213 and 1238 Thomas granted it to Eynsham Abbey. (fn. 218)
The land held by the Blund family of the Wykeham fee was the only part of Fawler which did not become part of the Eynsham Abbey estate. The family first appears c. 1210 when William Albus of Fawler granted land in Hook Norton to Oseney Abbey. (fn. 219) In 1235 William Blund confirmed his son James's grant of land in Hook Norton to Oseney; (fn. 220) by 1279 the estate in FAWLER had passed to James Blund's son William who held ¼ knight's fee in Fawler of Robert Wykeham, as well as land in Swalcliffe. (fn. 221) In 1366–7 Fawler manor was granted by trustees to James Blund and his heirs. In 1390–1 James's widow, Joan, leased lands in Fawler to Walter Snappe and Elizabeth his wife who were presumably the ancestors of the Thomas Snappe who held Fawler in 1545.
By 1586 the manor had passed to Elizabeth Snappe, who married John Petty. In 1626 Leonard Petty conveyed the Fawler manor to John Denton and his sons John, Alexander, and Thomas, who presumably held it until the younger John granted it in 1656 to his mother, Ursula. In 1658 Ursula conveyed it to Robert Mayott of Fawler. Robert's daughter and heir Elizabeth sold the manor in 1716 to James Perrot of North Leigh, who had acquired a large copyhold estate in Finstock and Fawler. The Perrot estates were bought by the Duke of Marlborough's trustees in 1756 from the daughters of Henry Perrot. Fawler manor seems to have merged with the rest of the Perrot and later the Marlborough estates in Charlbury parish, and any manorial rights there appear to have lapsed by the time the estate passed to the Duke of Marlborough. (fn. 222)
In 1279 there was only one free tenant, Adam of Bloxham, on the Blund estate, (fn. 223) but soon afterwards Henry, son of Henry Ulger, held a house and appurtenances in Fawler of William Blund. (fn. 224) Henry was probably connected with the Ulgers who held in Wardington; (fn. 225) in 1284–5 William Ulger of Wardington, heir of Henry Ulger, granted William Blund a plough-land and ½ yardland in Fawler which had belonged to William, and then to James Blund. (fn. 226)
The 3 fees which Robert Chevauchesul had held of the Bishop of Lincoln in 1166 were divided on his death between Peter Talemasch and Robert Danvers, descendants of his two sisters. In the early 13th century the Talemasch family died out (fn. 227) and in 1279 the former Chevauchesul estate in Fawler was held by Eynsham Abbey of Robert Danvers, grandson of the Robert mentioned above. (fn. 228) The abbey had acquired its estate there from both the Talemasch and Danvers families. By 1208 Peter Talemasch was holding 1½ fee in Swalcliffe and Fawler; (fn. 229) before 1220 he granted ½ yardland in Fawler to his uncle, Richard Taillard, who enfeoffed Eynsham Abbey, (fn. 230) and c. 1220 Peter enfeoffed the abbey with the remainder of his estate. (fn. 231) About the same time Robert Danvers enfeoffed the abbey with his share of Fawler, making provisions for his sons Nicholas and Ralph to hold of the abbey a third of the demesne and ½ yardland respectively. (fn. 232) Robert had already granted his Fawler land in dower to Sarah, wife of his eldest son Geoffrey, and not until 1225 did the abbey receive a quitclaim of the land, half a hide and half a house, from Sarah and her second husband. (fn. 233) William Danvers and the heirs of Simon Danvers, who held one yardland each of Eynsham Abbey in Fawler in 1279 (fn. 234) were presumably the descendants of Nicholas and Ralph Danvers mentioned above. In 1385 Richard Danvers of Epwell confirmed to Eynsham Abbey all the lands that it held of him in Fawler, (fn. 235) and there is no further record of the Danvers overlordship. Thereafter the Eynsham estate in Fawler followed the descent of Charlbury manor, of which it came to be considered part. In the course of the 19th century the greater part of Fawler passed to the Duke of Marlborough, whose descendants held a large estate there in 1969.
From the mid 15th century the lands formerly attached to COTE hamlet were farmed and in 1470, when held by William Bernard, were described as a manor. (fn. 236) Earlier lessees were William Chamberlain (c. 1447), John Edmonds (from 1448), and probably Thomas Bernard, who was farming Cote tithes in 1456–7. (fn. 237) The 'manor' later passed to the Shepherd family, and was held by Elisha Shepherd (fl. 1517), (fn. 238) and by William Shepherd, who received it in 1528. (fn. 239) Cote was included in the grant by Robert Chamberlain and Philip Scudamore to St. John's College. (fn. 240) The Charlbury portion of Cote, however, had been included in an earlier lease to Richard Eyrans and George Tennant. (fn. 241) After that date the Cote pastures were split up among different lessees, the largest holding of c. 30 a. coming into the possession of Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley (d. 1611). (fn. 242)
Agriculture. In 1086 Charlbury, Finstock, Fawler, and Cote were probably included in the bishop's 50-hide Banbury estate. Nothing is known of their economic history until 1269 when the Abbot of Eynsham held 3 hides in demesne worth 60s. a year, 32 villein yardlands worth £8 a year in rents and works, rents of freeholders (10s. 4d.), two mills (50s.), and woodland (4s.); (fn. 243) the survey probably included the abbot's lands in Fawler, Finstock, and Cote. In 1279 the abbot held in demesne 4 plough-lands in Charlbury and 1 plough-land in Fawler; there were 42 villein yardlands (16 in Charlbury, 13 in Cote, 9 in Fawler, and 4 in Finstock) each of which yielded 5s. or appropriate works. There were 7 cotterels in Charlbury, with holdings of ¼ yardland each, and 8 cottars in Finstock, holding 36 a. of new assart for their lives. Two free tenants at Charlbury held 1½ yardland and 1 a. respectively; at Finstock there was a freeholding of one yardland of new assart, and another of c. 7½ a. of new assart; at Fawler two free tenants held one yardland each, and a third held 4 a. of new assart. Outside the Eynsham estate in Fawler the hide held of Robert de Wykeham by William le Blund included a free tenant with 1 yardland. (fn. 244)
In 1307 the Abbot of Eynsham succeeded in freeing his Charlbury woods, which lay within the bounds of Wychwood forest, from the regard, provided that the king's right of hunting there was preserved. At that date Charlbury wood contained 40 a. by the forest perch and Finstock wood only 5 a., although it was richer in game. (fn. 245)
For much of the Middle Ages the abbey's demesne in Charlbury was farmed by a bailiff, who accounted annually at Michaelmas. In the 14th century the London family appear to have been leasing the office for lives. (fn. 246) In 1434, however, the Bishop of Lincoln ordered that the Charlbury revenues be assigned to the payment of the community's debts, and at the same time forbade the leasing of any of the abbey's lands for a term longer than 5 years. (fn. 247) Until the Dissolution only short leases of the demesne were granted. (fn. 248)
By the beginning of the 14th century there were 66 rent-paying tenants on the Eynsham estate in Charlbury township; most of them paid only about 2s. yearly and presumably owed labour services as well, but others, such as Roger, Rector of Stoke, who paid 16s. 8d., owed no works. In addition 31 nativi paid rents and owed works, although only 19 were recorded as doing work in that year. In Fawler there were four free tenants; 24 other tenants who paid a total of £3 7s. 0¾d., presumably owed works. In Finstock 27 tenants paid rent and owed works; in Cote 11 villein yardlanders paid 3s. 9d. each and owed some labour services, and another tenant, presumably free, held 2 yardlands and owed no works. (fn. 249) Probably works up to a certain value had been permanently commuted; but some works were being exacted in 1340–1 when the bailiff paid 1d. for salt for the customary mowers on the manor, and 4 bushels of corn for the reapers of Fawler 'according to the custom'; in the same year £4 3s. 6½d. was received from the sale of unwanted works. (fn. 250)
The low total of rents received by the abbey in 1350 (£1 15s. 1½d. from Charlbury, Finstock, and Fawler, and none from Cote, for a 17 week period) suggests that the manor had suffered heavily from the Black Death, although there were said to be 65 rent-paying tenants and 25 others from whom works were due, a decrease of only 7 families since the early 14th century. The number of customary works exacted decreased rapidly and only one tenant in 1350 paid no rent quia ad opera. (fn. 251) Later work on the demesne was done by paid labour, and in 1379–80 included reaping 11 a. of dredge, binding and carrying a furlong of dredge, reaping and carrying the lord's corn, mowing the meadows, making the hay stacks, and an emergency carrying of hay from a meadow threatened by the rising Evenlode. (fn. 252)
In 1363 the abbey's demesne in Charlbury comprised a 9-acre croft near the churchyard, a 9-acre meadow (Mill ham), and two other meadows; c. 112 a. of arable divided among 11 culturae, and 4 a. of several pasture, of which ½ a. in 'le Merske' was said to be several whenever the field was sown. The most valuable asset of the estate was the woodland, of which 409½ a. were divided into 8 'quaterons' varying from 4½ a. to 115 a., and c. 322 a. at Upwood were divided in 7 parts of c. 46 a., one of which might be sold each year. (fn. 253) In Fawler the demesne comprised a 3-acre close, a 2-acre meadow, c. 13 a. of other meadow in Long mead and Horseley, and c. 119 a. of arable in seven parts of the field. Of the arable c. 71 a. lay in West field, which may have been identifiable with the Finstock land. If that was so Fawler and Finstock in 1363 shared one field system divided into an East and a West Field. (fn. 254)
Clearance of the forest proceeded steadily in the Middle Ages; in 1279 reference was made to a yardland and c. 44 a. of new assart in Finstock and 4 a. in Fawler; c. 1305 the abbot was assarting near Charlbury at 'le Forsakenho' (fn. 255) and in 1363 there was a reference to London sart, which almost certainly derived its name from Richard London, bailiff in 1350, or one of his family. (fn. 256) By 1354 assart rents in Charlbury amounted to £7 17s. 8d., about a quarter of the abbey's total rental of £27 2s. 7d., (fn. 257) and that proportion remained largely the same for the rest of the Middle Ages. Finstock contained the highest proportion of assart land; in 1409 assart rents were £5 9s. 4d. compared with assize rents of c. £4 5s. (fn. 258) The taking in of land seems to have reached a peak in the 1370s and declined in the 1390s. The decline may have deen due to shortage of labour and its consequent expense; at Charlbury the wages of shearers (13s. 4d., 12s. 8d.) and a carter (13s. 4d.) in 1380 were well above the limitation of 10s. for shepherds and carters in the Statute of Labourers a few years later. (fn. 259) It was agreed in 1383 that tenants of assarts in Charlbury could alienate their lands by returning them into the lord's hand for the use and profit of anyone they wished. Such tenants claimed to owe no heriot, either at death or on alienation. (fn. 260)
Crops grown on the abbey estate included wheat, dredge, oats, barley, pulse, maslin, peas, and malt. A regular source of income was the sale of grain, not only of surplus from the demesne but also of grain tithes from neighbouring hamlets. Fawler was clearly rich in wheat and barley, and barley was the chief crop in Charlbury and Finstock, although very little grain was grown in the latter. (fn. 261) In 1268 Eynsham Abbey sold all the wool from Charlbury for some years to come to Roger Hareng, a Witney wool merchant, (fn. 262) and there is nothing in the records of Charlbury sales to suggest that the demesne wool was ever sold in the open market until such agreements had been fulfilled. Although some wool was sold, as in 1340–1 when wool receipts were 10s., (fn. 263) many fleeces were delivered to Eynsham. In 1380 there were 332 sheep and 62 rams on the estate, and 23 fleeces were sent to Eynsham. The other stock on the manor, in that year included 2 boars, 3 sows, 25 pigs, 4 carthorses, 1 bull, 12 oxen, and 3 bullocks. (fn. 264) The abbey's bailiffs may have had a stock and land lease at certain times, for accounts show that stock was received from Eynsham as well as delivered there. (fn. 265)
In 1306 28 men of Charlbury township were assessed for the thirtieth at a total of 59s. 4½d., the Abbot of Eynsham at 30s., 3 other inhabitants at between 2s. 6d. and 2s., and 10 others at over a shilling. In Fawler 13 men were assessed at a total of 14s. 10d., the highest assessment being Richard Hanborough's 2s. 9d. In Tapwell 5 men were each assessed at less than 1s. and the total was 3s. 10d. (fn. 266) In 1327 32 inhabitants of Charlbury township were assessed at a total of 65s. 3d. The Abbot of Eynsham was not assessed, John North was assessed at 4s. 6d., another man at 3s., 4 at 2s. 6d., and 10 at 2s. In Fawler 24 men were assessed at a total of 47s. 6d., and individual assessments ranged from 3s. to 1s. In Cote 11 men were assessed at a total of 23s. 10d., and in Finstock and Tapwell 14 men were assessed at 31s. 10d. (fn. 267) In 1334 Charlbury's assessment for a fifteenth was set at £3 4s. 6d., Fawler's at £2 7s. 8d., and Cote's at £1 7s. 8d.; Finstock and Tapwell, which earlier were apparently the smallest and poorest of the hamlets, were assessed together at the surprisingly high figure of £4 11s. 8d. (fn. 268) In 1347 the inhabitants of Finstock and Tapwell on behalf of themselves and the inhabitants of Fawler and Cote appealed against that assessment and their assessment for wool, (fn. 269) which was also greater than Charlbury's. Charlbury was described as a market town with 22 yardlands of land, and 80 tenants of land, and several others of chattels, while there were 13 yardlands in Cote, 12 in Fawler, and only 7 in Finstock and Tapwell; yet Finstock and Tapwell had been assessed highest for the fifteenth, and for wool at 2 sacks, 2 stones, and 1 lb., while Charlbury was assessed for wool at 1 sack, 11 stones, 13 lbs. As a result of the heavy assessment the men of Finstock and Tapwell claimed that they were reduced to such poverty that many had abandoned their holdings, some to work as labourers and others to beg for their food. A new assessment of Charlbury and its members was made, but in 1349 the collectors and assessors had still not applied it. (fn. 270)
It seems that Cote did not recover after the Black Death. In 1360 the Abbot of Eynsham protested successfully against the collection of tax from Cote on the grounds that he had no lands or tenements other than his spiritualities there. (fn. 271) The land had probably reverted to waste, for although a few years later he was receiving rents from Cote of £2 17s. 4½d. they were only from assarts made by the men of Spelsbury. By 1408 he was receiving rents of assize, but only worth 15s. 10d. compared with assart rents of £2 14s. 7½d. (fn. 272) In the later Middle Ages the land was let on short leases, (fn. 273) the earliest known being to William Chamberlain, who was holding a lease for a term of years c. 1447; there were 9 tenants with small holdings of various sizes. Richard Snappe, alias Damery, whose family lived at Coldron Mill, Spelsbury, for several generations, paid the highest rent, and had evidently inclosed much of his holding, which was described as five closes and 1 a. of meadow with other land in the common field. (fn. 274) As all but one of the tenants held land in Spelsbury, Taston, or Ditchley, and later descriptions of Cote refer chiefly to pasture it seems probable that much of Cote was used as additional grassland for estates outside the parish.
A decline in assart rents, in rents of assize, and profits of court, and the consequent necessity for regular revision of rentals at Charlbury suggests a gradual depopulation of the area in the 15th century. In 1396 assart rents were fixed at £19 11s. 11d. but by 1412 a revision was necessary, and in 1413 the total dropped to £18 3s. A further revision in 1423 showed that rents amounted to no more than £15 19s. 6d. and that sum remained the same until 1442. (fn. 275) A rental for the vill of Charlbury, dating probably from 1447, (fn. 276) named only 51 tenants; at that date the rent for an acre was only 2d. Most inhabitants appear to have held a house and garden with a few acres of land, although five held only their houses and gardens. The two most substantial landholders were William Eton, who held the former manor-house of Charlbury, two houses, and an unspecified amount of land, and John Shepherd who held a house, a close, 20 a. of assart land, and a water-mill with a meadow and the weirs. Rents of assize based probably on the above rental were only £14 4s. 5d. in 1456–7 and assart rents only £4 11s. 4½d.; there were a few new rents, however. (fn. 277) It is clear that many assarts were in want of a tenant; depopulation may have been caused by an epidemic but there is no direct evidence. Many of the vacant assarts were granted in 1456–7 on a short lease to Thomas Pawley, the farmer of the demesne. (fn. 278) There are no further rentals for the 15th century, but it seems probable that Charlbury was slowly recovering; in the early 16th century the rental was rising and by 1528 it reached £18 19s. 7d. (fn. 279)
For the subsidy of 1523–4 31 men in Charlbury township were assessed for the first payment at £3 3s. 7d.; William Shepherd was assessed at 20s. for lands and Richard Snappe at 5s. In Fawler 10 men were assessed at a total of 30s., and in Finstock 7 were assessed at a total of 13s. 6d. In Charlbury 7 men paid at the landless labourer's rate of 4d. and in Fawler two. In addition two men from the parish were among 4 wealthy men of the hundred who seem to have been singled out for special attention: Thomas Priddy of Fawler was assessed on £40 worth of goods and Elisha Shepherd of Charlbury on £70 worth. (fn. 280)
In 1538 there were 44 copyholders in Charlbury. Three members of the Shepherd family were tenants: Elisha held two houses, William three houses, a close, and 8½ a. of land, and John two houses and curtilages, and 45 a. of assart. John Eton, perhaps a descendant of William Eton, held 2 houses and curtilages, a close, and ½ yardland. In Fawler there were only 9 copyholders; one of them was Thomas Snappe, perhaps a member of the family holding the manor there, who paid one of the lowest rents in the hamlet. In Finstock there were 16 copyholders. (fn. 281)
In 1584 there were 68 copyholders in Charlbury township, by 1607 there were 80, but by 1630 the number had decreased to 73. In Fawler in 1584 and 1607 there were 9 copyholders, and by 1630 the number had risen to 13. Whereas Charlbury and Fawler's economic situation changed little in the 16th and 17th centuries there was a considerable rise in population in Finstock. In 1584 there were 23 copyholders, by 1607 there were 40, and by 1630 there were 54. As the total rental for the hamlet remained more or less the same from 1584 to 1630, it seems likely that as the number of holdings grew their individual sizes decreased. (fn. 282)
From the mid 16th century the tenants of Charlbury seem to have worked hard to improve their conditions. In 1554 the tenants of the woodland sheep-runs in Charlbury woods attached to copyholds in Charlbury successfully claimed a right to trees and thorns growing there. (fn. 283) The right was subsequently denied by John Chamberlain, lord of the manor, and led to prolonged controversy with St. John's College and the Lee family of Ditchley. The dispute was resolved temporarily by a formal agreement in 1592 between the college, 63 tenants of the manor, and Sir Henry Lee. (fn. 284) Most of the tenants were copyholders. (fn. 285) In 1592 it was agreed that when a copyhold changed hands a relief equal to two years' rent should be paid to the lord; that all copyholds were to be granted without impeachment of waste; that Sir Henry Lee's woods and coppices should be held by him and his heirs 'without trouble of the tenants of the manor'; that tenants could lease their copyholds for up to 21 years provided they entered the lease on the court roll; that widows were to enjoy their husbands' copyhold during their widowhood, provided they made no waste and paid all reliefs and dues; and that copyholds were heritable. (fn. 286) The agreement was a compromise: c. 1590 the lord had resisted claims (fn. 287) that copyholders were free of impeachment of waste and paid a relief of only one year's rent. He claimed also that all property transactions should be presented in his court, that the tenants must show that their assize rents were fixed, that they should forfeit their estates for denying rent or service, and that they should pay for repairing the bridges and for court dinners, although both bridge repairs and court dinners had formerly been paid for by Eynsham Abbey. (fn. 288) The tenants subsequently rejected the 1592 agreement on the grounds that Sir Henry Lee had broken his promise that 'whatsoever was amiss therein' should be amended later at the tenants' charge. Chiefly they wanted recognition of the rights granted in 1554, a fixed fine on entry, and greater freedom to sublet and greater security of tenure than Chamberlain had admitted. Their demands were rejected in 1605. (fn. 289) They made further attempts after Sir Henry Lee had obtained licence to inclose Abbot's Wood (where he had built Lee's Rest) in 1610, and later claimed that their rights had been recognized shortly before Sir Henry Lee's death in 1611. (fn. 290) In 1612 Sir Henry Lee of Quarendon and John Finch and his wife Anne, formerly Vavasour, to whose trustees the late Sir Henry had leased Lee's Rest, sued St. John's College and the town of Charlbury, alleging that the defendants refused to ratify the 1592 agreement and that the townsfolk had threatened to pull down the house and spoil the woods. (fn. 291) The action failed and the Charlbury tenants enjoyed common rights in the woods until 1629, when a further appeal was made by tenants following a threat by Sir Henry Lee of Quarendon to inclose the woods. (fn. 292) The result of the appeal is not known but the absence of further reference to common rights in the woods suggests that it failed.
There may have been three common fields in Charlbury in the 16th and 17th centuries: Home field was referred to in 1569, North field in 1597, and South field in 1661. (fn. 293) In 1715, however, landholders in the Home field had right of common on each other's lands every other year, implying a two-course rotation. (fn. 294) Perhaps South field, nearer to the town than North field, was an alternative name for Home field. The boundary between a South and a North field was perhaps the road called Hundley Way, which divided the land of the township fairly evenly into two; certainly in 1761 none of the existing holdings crossed that road. (fn. 295) In 1598 there were references to a new field, near the inclosed area of Cote, (fn. 296) but that was probably an extension of North field. A few of the holdings which can be traced in 1761 were divided fairly evenly between the areas north and south of Hundley Way, (fn. 297) but many others were not; clearly the field system of Charlbury had been modified by piecemeal inclosure.
In 1761 there was a large area in the north of the township, between the river and Spelsbury Way, called the Common. (fn. 298) There were references in the late 16th and early 17th centuries to common rights in that part of the North field. (fn. 299) There are no references to similar rights in any part of the South field, except to the grazing rights in Lee's Rest Wood mentioned above. As late as 1879 there was a dispute over rights of common in part of the Lee Place estate. (fn. 300) The township's cattle, in harvest time at least, were looked after by a cow-herd, whose wages were paid by the inhabitants. (fn. 301) Sheep were penned from May Day to St. Luke's Day (18 Oct.), provided the weather was seasonable. (fn. 302) By the early 17th century the arable had been interspersed with leys, (fn. 303) some in the area of the Common, near the river. (fn. 304)
In Finstock there was apparently a West field in the north-west part of the parish, and Down field in the north-east; there are also references to Tapwell field and Finstock field. (fn. 305) Fawler seems to have contained two open fields, a North field and a South field or Abbotside. An estate granted in 1617, however, was divided between two fields commonly known as Abbotside, and another granted in 1644 was in Abbotside, but divided between the field nearest Stonesfield and the field further from Stonesfield. (fn. 306) A terrier of 1669 distinguished lands in five fields: Mill field towards Charlbury, Redstone Quarry or North-East field or Old field, Longlands or Coldshorne, Shawhill or South field, and 'on the hill called Bradley'. (fn. 307) A number of undated 17th-century terriers mentioned three fields, the Old field, the Home field, and 'on Bradley'. (fn. 308) Probably the North and South fields had each been divided, the North field into Mill field or Home field and Redstone Quarry or Old field, the South field or Abbotside into Longlands or Coldshorne, (fn. 309) and Shawhill or South field. There was a fifth division, the area described as 'on Bradley', which was also farmed as part of the common fields. The stint for grazing on the common fields at Fawler was evidently 2 cows and 20 sheep. (fn. 310)
In the 17th century the farming practised in Charlbury and its hamlets was mixed, most farmers having both livestock and corn, and the corn was usually the more valuable asset. Crops grown included wheat, barley, oats, maslin, peas, pulse, and vetches, and in the early 18th century sainfoin was mentioned; malt was included in 4 of 15 farmer's probate inventories examined. (fn. 311) Most men kept a few pigs and two or three cows; sheep were mentioned in only two inventories, those of William Cowling of Finstock, who in 1638 had a flock of 32, (fn. 312) and of John Preedy, the lessee of Cote Grounds, who in 1622 had 158 sheep. (fn. 313) Preedy also had 11 cattle, a herd exceeded in size only by that of Thomas Harris of Charlbury, which in 1610 contained 13 cows. (fn. 314) A Charlbury man who died in 1638 had 6 hives of bees, in addition to his corn and other livestock. (fn. 315)
In 1715 59 owners and occupiers of land in the Home field of Charlbury, including Sir Robert Jenkinson, Richard Eyrans, and the vicar, John Brabourne, agreed 'for the better improvement' of their lands to inclose them at their own expense and to extinguish their rights of common. (fn. 316) Farming experiments at Spelsbury, Taston, and Fulwell in the early 18th century, particularly the growing of sainfoin in temporary inclosures, (fn. 317) had probably influenced the Charlbury farmers, but at Charlbury permanent inclosure was clearly intended. The area inclosed did not amount to the whole of one of the common fields. By 1761 c. 1,312 a. had been inclosed, including the town itself (over 50 a.) and the 204 a. of Lee's Rest Wood. The closes were scattered throughout both fields quite haphazardly; most were small, between 1 a. and 3 a., but the Duke of Marlborough owned some larger closes including one of c. 36 a. in Aubridge field, the Earl of Lichfield owned a close of c. 18 a. on Cote Grounds, and the Hon. Robert Lee one of c. 23 a. on Banbury Hill Grounds.
In the open fields there had been some consolidation of holdings by the Duke of Marlborough's tenants: one held c. 36 a. on Cote Hill and c. 26 a. in Aubridge field, and another held 44 a. in Conygree Grounds. (fn. 318) Inclosure presumably continued piecemeal in the 19th century. In 1820 part of the township was still in common fields, (fn. 319) and as late as 1863 it was necessary to state that a piece of meadow to be valued for sale was not intermixed with the lands of the Duke of Marlborough. (fn. 320) With the probable exception of Lee's Rest, (fn. 321) there were no outlying farms in the township in 1761. (fn. 322) By 1820 there were buildings on the sites of what by 1881 were Dustfield, Conygree, and Coathouse Farms, but even in 1847 only Coathouse was in occupation as a farm. (fn. 323)
Two large landowners in Fawler, members of the Jones and Perrot families, inclosed some of their land in the late 17th century, (fn. 324) and the rest of the township was probably inclosed during the 18th century. (fn. 325) Most of Finstock was apparently inclosed by 1767. (fn. 326) When Wychwood was disafforested in 1857 the inhabitants of Finstock were awarded c. 62 a., close to the boundary of the township but in Wychwood parish, in place of rights of common in the forest. (fn. 327) In 1863 the 'common allotment' was divided up and inclosed by a further award and at the same time c. 145 a. of old inclosure in Finstock were surrendered by their owners and made allotable, presumably to make it possible for the commissioners to divide the land in an economical and advantageous way; at that date common rights were apparently attached to every acre in the township. (fn. 328)
In 1786 George, Duke of Marlborough, contributed over £57 to the land tax out of a total of c. £138 due from Charlbury and Cornbury Park; he also paid £24 out of £51 due from Finstock and £49 12s. out of c. £55 due from Fawler. All his land was held by copyholders. Other Charlbury landowners contributing over £5 to the land tax were Lord Dillon (£12 15s.), Benjamin Holloway (c. £7), and the vicar (£5 5s.); two landowners contributed between £3 and £5, 7 over £2, and the remaining 65 less than £1. There was a slight increase in the number of landholders (96 in 1816) but otherwise little change in the pattern of landholding in the period 1786–1831. In Finstock the only sizeable holding in 1786, apart from the duke's, was William Martin's, which was assessed for land tax at c. £9; 5 other men paid over £1, including Lord Dillon and the vicar (who paid on his tithes), and 31 men paid less than £1. William Martin's lands were rented to tenants, but Lord Dillon's were in his own occupation, and there were 10 other owner-occupiers. In Fawler the only landowners apart from the duke paying over £1 were Lord Dillon (£1 12s.) and the vicar (£2); 7 others paid less than £1, and that group had increased to 9 by 1831. (fn. 329)
In 1847 the c. 2,064 a. dealt with in the tithe award for Charlbury township were divided between 149 landowners. The Duke of Marlborough (c. 876 a.) and Lord Dillon (c. 242 a.) held more than half the land between them, and the only other owners of sizeable estates were Thomas Kerby (c. 64 a.), Nicholas Albright (c. 64 a.), the Vicar of Charlbury (54 a.), Edward Kerby (c. 48 a.), and Robert Harris (c. 44 a.). The duke's land was divided between 17 tenants, of whom the most important were Edward Smith (c. 243 a.), William Harris (c. 157 a.), and Benjamin Evans (101 a.). Most of the farms were reasonably compact by that date. In Finstock the c. 949 a. dealt with in the tithe award of 1847 were divided between 78 landowners, of whom the chief were Lord Churchill (c. 413 a.), Sarah Castle (c. 140 a.), James Alderton (c. 65 a.), and David Colcutt (c. 63 a.); the largest farm was Manor Farm (c. 232 a.) which Edward Bolton held of Lord Churchill. At Fawler in 1847 c. 1,596 a. were divided between 17 landowners; the Duke of Marlborough (c. 1,336 a.) and Lord Dillon (112 a. at Lee's Rest Wood) between them owned nearly all the township. There were three large farms, held of the duke by Daniel Bolton (Manor Farm, c. 542 a.), Samuel Gibbs (c. 369 a.), and William Bolton (c. 367 a.). (fn. 330)
The disafforestation of Wychwood in 1857 raised hopes of increased areas of rich arable for some of the Charlbury farmers, and the new land was eagerly taken up (fn. 331) but it proved much more expensive to clear than had been anticipated, and the farmers found it impossible to meet their costs out of the proceeds of the poor harvests of the 1860s. One at least was forced to give up his farm and emigrate to Canada. In the late 19th century the district round Charlbury became predominantly grazing country. This, with the poverty of the farmers, reduced the number of labourers on the land; some were able to emigrate, but many remained out of work or drifted to the large towns, notably Birmingham. On most of the farms expensive improvements, such as drainage and the purchase of machinery, were curtailed through lack of capital and as late as the early 20th century threshing was still done by flail on one of the Finstock holdings. (fn. 332) By 1930 only one farm was left working of the five in Finstock so hopefully taken in 1857.
Mixed farming continued in Charlbury and its hamlets in the 20th century; in Charlbury itself the balance was slightly inclined towards livestock, particularly sheep, while in Finstock and Fawler arable farming was more important. (fn. 333) In 1914 56 per cent. of the cultivated area in Charlbury was arable and 40 per cent. permanent pasture, compared with 70 per cent. arable and 29 per cent. pasture in Finstock and Fawler. Barley and wheat were the most important crops, accounting between them for 36 per cent. of the arable in Charlbury, 38 per cent. in Fawler and Finstock. The proportion of permanent pasture to the cultivated area was 40 per cent. in Charlbury, 29 per cent. in Fawler and Finstock. The number of sheep kept in Charlbury had fallen from 70 for each 100 a. under cultivation in 1909 to 58 in 1914 but it was still above average for the county. In Finstock and Fawler, on the other hand, there were comparatively few sheep, 60 per 100 cultivated acres in 1909, 38 in 1914. (fn. 334) Since the Second World War the improvement of machinery, fertilizers, and seed has changed Charlbury's farming, and well-tended corn fields are a feature of the area.
Trade and industry In 1709 the greatest number of stalls in the market were taken by the glovers, with the tanners a close second; (fn. 335) but the glove industry declined in the last quarter of the century, and died out early in the Napoleonic War. It was revived in 1808 by William Albright, partly to relieve the distress in the town and its neighbourhood by providing employment for the women. (fn. 336) After a short time, Albright relinquished the business to his assistant who managed to keep the industry going through the depression of the early 19th century. In 1821 the increase in the town's population was ascribed to the leather-dressing and glove industries. (fn. 337) In Charlbury the decline in demand was attributed to the removal of the Hunt, which suggests that the town was already specialising in hard-wearing gloves. (fn. 338) Conditions improved slowly after 1843, and by 1857 the factory was by far the largest enterprise in Charlbury. (fn. 339)
In 1851 out of a population of 1,478 in Charlbury and Walcot, there were 113 gloveresses, 10 glovers and an apprentice, 13 glove-cutters and an apprentice, 4 layers-out and ironers of gloves, and one glove-sewer. The glove factory employed 28 grounders, 8 bleachers and colourers, 16 cutters, layers-out, and ironers, and 8 boys and 820 sewing women; most of the women, presumably drawn from a wide area, worked for two or more masters. In Fawler and Finstock out of a total population of 677 there were 67 gloveresses and 47 glove-makers. Much of the population, however, was still engaged in agriculture: in Charlbury 18 farmers, 11 of whom farmed less than 50 a., employed 38 men and 13 boys, and there were also 122 agricultural labourers; in Fawler and Finstock there were 14 farmers and 128 labourers. (fn. 340)
Building stone was quarried in Charlbury township, in the angle between the Ditchley and Banbury roads. Most of the stone was apparently used locally, but it is known to have been used also for the barracks at Cowley. (fn. 341) In 1851 there were eight masons in Charlbury, and also a gravestone cutter. There were two masons in Finstock. (fn. 342) The quarries were last worked in 1902. (fn. 343) In Fawler ironstone mining began after the coming of the railway, but the mines were disused in 1881. The firm of Bolton & Partners began a considerable ironstone-mining and brick-making business in the 1880s, but it had closed down by 1895. (fn. 344) Slate was dug in the eastern part of the township. (fn. 345)
In the late 19th century, apart from two glove factories owned by Fownes Bros, and Dyke, Boots, & Farmer, and a wool depot on the site of the former brewery, a small china and glass warehouse, and a boot and shoe warehouse, Charlbury was predominantly an agricultural community, well supplied with small tradesmen. (fn. 346) By 1939 there were three additional glove manufacturers, a firm of consulting technologists, and a printer besides the usual trades and professions. (fn. 347) In 1954 there were four glove factories and a patent medicine factory in Charlbury, but many of the men and boys were working in Oxford and many of the girls in Witney. (fn. 348) The last glove factory closed in 1968 and although a few small industrial firms survived most of the population was employed elsewhere.
Markets and fairs. In 1256 the Abbot of Eynsham was granted a weekly market at Charlbury on Mondays, and an annual fair of four days from 14 to 17 August. (fn. 349) Both the market and the fair were probably held in Church Street; in the early 18th century stalls were taken by tenants who lived in the street at prices of 4d. or 6d. Townsmen who did not live in the market-place and 'out tradesmen' had to pay for their stalls. (fn. 350) The sale of sheep and other animals, always one of the chief sources of profit, took place on the outskirts of the market, on a site in use until 1955 but later forming part of the garden of the Bell Inn; (fn. 351) there was an additional entrance to the site from Sheep Street. The market was described in 1440 as 'inconvenient and useless' as it was held on Mondays, and the abbey secured the Crown's agreement to change the day to Friday, (fn. 352) a change which may well have been made chiefly because the abbot and convent wished to alter Eynsham market-day to Monday. During the 16th century the Friday market seems to have declined almost to the point of extinction. The fairs, markets, and tolls were included in Elizabethan conveyances to St. John's College, (fn. 353) but although there is a later reference to a poor little market, there is no record of sales. During the Civil War the four days' fair seems to have ceased altogether. (fn. 354)
In 1678 Lord Lichfield obtained from Charles II a charter reviving the market, and granting the right to hold four one-day fairs yearly, on the second Friday in May, at Michaelmas, on St. Thomas's Day, and on the second Friday in Lent. (fn. 355) The profits of the markets and fairs were farmed, usually to the bailiff of the manor, who made from £5 to £6 from the rent of the stalls, which were provided by him at his own cost. (fn. 356) Towards the end of the century the market was beginning to overflow its precincts, or the inhabitants of Church Street may have objected to the disturbance for in 1696 Lord Lichfield's steward suggested that part of the lord's waste in the town might be used for markets and fairs. (fn. 357) In 1709, if not earlier, the waste chosen was Playing Close, and a Horse Fair was held there in May; Playing Close was town land, (fn. 358) however, and although the lord had reserved a nominal rent on it a group of townsmen led by William Tennant, probably a descendant of George Tennant one of the original trustees of the town lands, (fn. 359) in 1709 refused to pay the rent on the ground that the lord had no right to the land and that the bailiff had overcharged them for their stalls; the bailiff complained largely about evasion of tolls. The quarrel had apparently begun under a previous bailiff, and it continued at least until 1717, when a number of townsmen offered to take a lease of the land for a free market. After the retirement of the unpopular bailiff, however, the quarrel appears to have died and by 1754 the reconciliation with the lord must have been complete since Robert Lee was appointed a trustee of the town lands. Lee was later in correspondence with St. John's College about the alteration of the lease of the manor to include market-tolls, but the President and Fellows thought no alteration was necessary and claimed that the fairs and markets had been expressly conveyed to them in the reign of Elizabeth I. (fn. 360) The correspondence may have preceded a quitclaim of the markets and fairs to the trustees of the town lands, who were certainly the market authority by the early 19th century. (fn. 361)
In 1709 the bailiff claimed that while he leased the ground to townsmen for £5 7s. 6d. they were re-leasing it for 14 gns.; his estimate of the profits shows that leather-work was predominant among the industries of the town. The glovers took between 8 and 12 stalls at a fair, the barkers 9, the shoemakers 6; there was also a stall for 'pitch and shew'. The bailiff's profits on all these stalls amounted to 12s. a year. On ordinary market days the profit from all stalls was about 3s., but the cost of setting them up and taking them down again was 1s. 6d. The bailiff estimated his annual net profit at £2 4s. 3d. 'if the fairs are all day, which is scarcely ever'. Tolls were taken on grain at the market; in 1708 these amounted to £1 10s. for 15 bushels of barley and 3s. for 441 lbs. of wheat, including the toll man's commission of 12s. There was also a payment of 4s. 6d. for weighing cheese. (fn. 362)
The Friday market continued into the 19th century (fn. 363) and seems at one time to have been held only fortnightly, but in 1853 it was resolved that the weekly corn market should be held every Friday afternoon. Perhaps the corn market had already been divided from the stock market which by the early 20th century was held on the first Monday of the month. (fn. 364) Later the sale of stock took place fortnightly; and eventually this market included on occasion the sale of various goods, but it was always chiefly for the sale of animals. In 1927 the market was still flourishing but in 1955 it was moved to a more convenient site at Kingham station, shortly before the 700th anniversary of the Charlbury charter.
In 1753 the dates of the four fairs were altered in accordance with the revision of the calendar. The Michaelmas Fair was moved to 10 October, St. Thomas's Fair to New Year's Day, the Lent Fair to the first Friday in Lent, and the May Fair to the second Friday after 12 May. (fn. 365) The Michaelmas Fair was a cheese fair (fn. 366) and a hiring fair, the New Year's Day Fair a horse fair; the Lent Fair was for cattle of all kinds, and the May Fair for horses. (fn. 367) The May Fair came to an end c. 1823, and the three others had died out by the 1880s. (fn. 368) A very large market held on 27 July 1753 included not only all kinds of cattle and merchandise but also a variety of amusements, among them the roasting of a sheep in the marketplace. (fn. 369) It was continued annually on the last Friday of July as the Ram Fair, (fn. 370) later known as the Club; in the 1880s it was held in Church Street. By the 20th century it had come to be held on the first Friday in July because of its amalgamation with the annual feast of the Foresters' Friendly Society, held in the Playing Close. It became mainly a pleasure fair, with merry-go-rounds and cheap jacks. (fn. 371) In the 1920s the fair was held for some years in the Nine Acres field, but after the Second World War it returned to Playing Close, where it continued as a pleasure fair until 1960.
A fair held since the Second World War in the third week of September was started to raise money for a war memorial, and continued as a means of increasing the town's revenue. It was still being held annually in Church Street in 1969.
Mills. In 1269 the Abbot of Eynsham had two mills in Charlbury. (fn. 372) One was Fawler mill, possession of which had been confirmed to the abbey in 1251 after the widow of a former miller had claimed dower in it. (fn. 373) In 1363 the mill was let with a fishery. (fn. 374) After the Dissolution it passed with other parts of the abbey's estate to Robert Chamberlain and Philip Scudamore, who in 1591 granted John Hunt a 1,000 year lease of the property. (fn. 375) The lease descended to Hunt's granddaughter, and the executors of her husband Richard Cooke sold it in 1695 to Sir Robert Jenkinson of Walcot. Sir Robert leased the mill to Philip Holloway, miller; Holloway was primarily a farmer and at his death in 1725 left personalty valued at as much as £212. (fn. 376) In 1759 the lease of the mill was sold to the Duke of Marlborough. (fn. 377) The following year the mill and its farm were let to Robert Spendlove and John Paine. The Paine family were still lessees of the mill in 1851, when Jonathan Paine employed two men there, but the lease expired in 1864, (fn. 378) and in 1881 the mill was no longer in use. (fn. 379)
The mill at Charlbury also remained in the possession of Eynsham until the Dissolution. It was included in the grant to the Bishop of Oxford in 1547, (fn. 380) and passed with the rest of the manor to Robert Chamberlain and Philip Scudamore, and from them, on a 99-year lease, to John Chamberlain. (fn. 381) In 1590 the reversion of the mill was granted to Lincoln College, Oxford, who retained the property until the early 19th century. (fn. 382) The tenancy of the mill had meanwhile remained in the Shepherd family, who in the late 15th century were lessees of the mill and its close, at a rent of 20s. a year, and of Milham meadow and the weirs for 6s. 8d. (fn. 383) William Shepherd was in occupation of the mill when the property was leased to John Chamberlain, (fn. 384) and in 1591 John Chamberlain conveyed the residue of the term to him. (fn. 385) The lease remained in the Shepherd family until 1634 when the residue of the term of years was sold to David Dix of Chipping Norton. (fn. 386) Before 1686 the tenancy had passed to Robert Gladwin, who died in that year. (fn. 387) By 1778 Lincoln College was leasing the mill and its appurtenances to Samuel Holloway, and in 1805 the lease was renewed for a further 21 years to John Holloway. (fn. 388) The mill continued in use until the early 20th century, operated by a succession of millers of whom none appears to have remained at the mill for more than a few years. (fn. 389) The mill-pond was used for boating in the 1920s. (fn. 390) Although no other mill in Charlbury is known there are references to millers not known to have been lessees of Charlbury mill: in 1584 Robert Stokeman, miller, was cited to the archdeacon's court for grinding on Sundays and holidays, (fn. 391) and in 1705 Thomas Wills, miller, was bound over for beating and abusing his apprentice. (fn. 392) By 1851 there were three millers in Charlbury, Thomas Brooks, described simply as miller, and George and Charles Harris, millers and cordwainers. (fn. 393)
In addition to the usual manorial rights the Abbot of Eynsham in 1279 had view of frankpledge in Charlbury, provided that the Bishop of Lincoln's bailiff was present, and gallows. (fn. 394) In the mid 14th century the abbot held a three-weekly court and a portmoot in Charlbury, as well as view of frankpledge which was held jointly by the abbot's seneschal and the constable of Banbury. He also had waifs, strays, gallows, and the right to hang a thief caught in possession of stolen goods. A suspected thief might be held in Charlbury for three days, but on the fourth day he was taken to Banbury. (fn. 395)
In the 14th and 15th centuries all the abovementioned courts were held. In 1371 11 courts and a view of frankpledge were recorded. (fn. 396) Courts seem to have been held only intermittently in the early 15th century, perhaps because of the internal troubles of the abbey. (fn. 397) The profits of a court varied from £6 0s. 11d. for the only court recorded in 1419 to as little as Sd. for a court held in September 1412. (fn. 398)
In the 16th and 17th centuries the courts of Charlbury manor, which were sometimes described as views of frankpledge, dealt with the usual wide range of business. Entry-fines on copyhold land varied from 6d. for a plot of 2 a. to over 10s. 6d. for a tenement and 41 a. of land. The courts also dealt with breaches of the peace, affrays, and market offences: in 1568–9 and 1576–7, for example, people were fined for 'taking excessive gain'. (fn. 399) Constables and tithingmen for Charlbury, Finstock, and Fawler were chosen in the court leet which by the 16th century was held annually in March or April; the penalty for refusing to serve was 40s. (fn. 400) A court also dealt with the organization of agriculture in the parish, and jurors were used to settle land disputes. (fn. 401) The courts were held in the Middle Ages at the Priory and later at the church house. (fn. 402) The manorial court ceased to meet in 1889, (fn. 403) but was revived for some years in the first decade of the 20th century by Vernon J. Watney, meeting at the White Hart Inn: its purpose at that time was to register the transfer of copyholds but the chief business was apparently the eating of a dinner provided by the lord.
Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock were separate units for poor law purposes. In the early 18th century the Charlbury overseers were spending an average of c. £60 a year, most of which presumably was devoted to poor relief; between 1719 and 1721, however, a smallpox epidemic raised the total to nearly half as much again. (fn. 404) In 1776 expenditure was £107; (fn. 405) a further increase to an average of £189 in 1783–5 was markedly higher than in the rest of the hundred, and although expenditure rose to £497 in 1803 the steep rate of the increase was matched in the neighbourhood, and cost per head, not quite 10s., was lower than anywhere except Banbury itself. (fn. 406) Expenditure reached a peak in 1802–3 and fell thereafter until 1812–13; cost per head in 1811 was probably no more than 5s. As elsewhere expenditure rose steeply after 1815 and went on rising in Charlbury until 1821, when elsewhere in the hundred it had begun to fall. Charlbury's highest expenditure was £897 in 1829; average expenditure per head in 1831 was just over 8s. 6d., much lower than in the rest of the hundred. Poor law costs fell sharply after the 1834 Poor Law came into effect. (fn. 407)
In Fawler in 1776 the overseers spent £24, but in 1802–3 spent £113, an average of £1 per head. In 1818 nearly £472 was spent on poor relief, possibly as much as £3 per head. Expenditure fell markedly after 1821, but in 1831 the cost per head (£1 4s.) was more than double that in the rest of the parish although not exceptional in the hundred. (fn. 408)
Finstock was much better off than Fawler, being less dependent on farming. Poor relief expenditure in 1776 was £55 and the average in 1783–5 £85. The increase to £276 in 1802–3, though high, was matched in many near-by villages and the 19s. spent per head of population was a little below the average. In Finstock the peak year was 1817 when £569 was spent. In 1821 the cost per head of population was nearly £1 a head but for most of the rest of the decade the figure was less than 10s., and even though expenditure rose after 1829 only c. 11s. per head was spent in 1831, less than anywhere else in the hundred except Charlbury. (fn. 409)
In the early 18th century (fn. 410) poor relief in Charlbury was almost entirely given to the aged and infirm and to orphans. In one week of October 1709 money allowances totalling 16s. 1d. were being given to eight widows (sums varying from 3d. to 2s. 6d.), one man (2s. 9d.), and a family of four children (6s.). In addition allowances were made for rents and repairs, and relief was given in kind. The parish provided nursing and medical attention for the poor and subscribed regularly to the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford; large medical payments occur in relation to an outbreak of smallpox at the end of the 18th century. There was a pest-house in a field near Banbury bottom, outside the town to the east, and the accounts record payments for its equipment and repair. In 1812 vaccination was offered in the parish.
In 1799 weekly allowances seem still to have been given only to the aged and infirm, mostly widows, and to children, but from 1800 a number of men's names appear in the accounts and one week's outrelief to the unemployed cost £2 4s.; 19s. 2d. was paid for 'labour on the roads'. In March 1801 a week's out-relief cost the overseers over £8. In September 1802 separate entries of regular outrelief in the overseers' book ceased and the monthly sum paid to the master of the workhouse rose by £15, suggesting that the master contracted to pay outrelief also. In 1803 over a tenth of the population of Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock were on some kind of regular relief: 109 persons in Charlbury, half of them children, were on regular relief out of a population of 975; Finstock, with a population of 326, paid 18 adults and 20 children out-relief, and Fawler, with a population of 112, paid 13 persons. In 1783–5 Charlbury spent an average of 25s. and Finstock 10s. on materials for setting the poor on work; in 1803 Charlbury's poor on out-relief earned £4 6s. 6d. In Fawler 17s. was spent on materials though there were no earnings, and in Finstock £10 9s. 6d. was spent and £3 8s. 9d. earned. Charlbury's poor in the workhouse earned £10. (fn. 411)
Charlbury's workhouse was first recorded in 1771. (fn. 412) In 1776 there was accommodation for 40 persons and in 1803 there were 29 inmates, including children. (fn. 413) In 1797 the master of the workhouse was paid £21 15s. a month, and at that time was retained on yearly or six-monthly contracts. About 1800, however, the overseers began to reimburse the master weekly on his actual expenses, which amounted to between £4 and £5. In 1802 the regular in- and outrelief was probably farmed out to the same person. The total monthly cost was at first nearly £36 but fell towards the end of 1803, and in 1811 only £15 was being paid. The overseers paid for such workhouse equipment as beds, bedding, and eating utensils; the chimneys were regularly cleaned (and they increased in number), and there was considerable expenditure on repairs c. 1800. The workhouse, a group of buildings comprising a range of cottages and a barn, stood behind houses on the north side of Brown's Lane; the cottages were condemned and the barn pulled down c. 1874 but the cottages were not finally pulled down until c. 1950. (fn. 414) No workhouse at Finstock was recorded in 1776 or 1804 but one existed in the early 19th century, on the site of the later National school. (fn. 415)
Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock became part of Chipping Norton Poor Law Union in 1834. (fn. 416) In 1894 a parish meeting and a parish council were formed. (fn. 417) About 1900 Charlbury attempted to secure for itself urban powers, because of its size and rateable value, (fn. 418) but the attempts failed.
Charlbury church was among the possessions of Eynsham Abbey in 1197/8, having probably passed to the abbey with Charlbury manor in 1094. (fn. 419) The ancient parish was reduced in 1860 when Fawler and Finstock were created a separate ecclesiastical parish, Finstock having possessed a chapel of ease since 1842. (fn. 420) Chadlington and Shorthampton (or Chilson) were from the Middle Ages chapelries served by curates or chaplains attached to Charlbury; the status of Chadlington was in dispute in the 13th century, Eynsham Abbey claiming that it was a dependent chapelry and the Whitfield family of Chadlington claiming the advowson and, by implication, that it was a separate church. Eynsham's claim was upheld in 1292, (fn. 421) although there is little reliable evidence in the abbey's cartulary to justify their claim. (fn. 422) In 1963 Chadlington was transferred to Spelsbury parish. (fn. 423)
In 1296 Charlbury rectory was appropriated by Eynsham Abbey under the bishop's licence of 1293. An annual payment of ½ mark was reserved to the Archdeacon of Oxford in place of his profits during vacancies in the living. In 1296, on the resignation of the last rector, a vicarage was instituted, provision being made for a vicar and one chaplain at Charlbury, or two chaplains if the vicar was unable to serve the church himself, and another chaplain at Chadlington. The Charlbury priests were also to serve the chapel of Shorthampton, assisted by two clerks, and the priest at Chadlington was to have one clerk. The endowment was considered sufficient for those purposes and for maintaining lights and other necessities for worship in the churches, including books and the ornaments in the chancel. (fn. 424)
The advowson of the vicarage belonged to Eynsham Abbey until the Dissolution, after which it followed the descent of the manor and rectory, passing to Robert Chamberlain and Philip Scudamore, who granted it in 1601 to Sir Henry Lee. (fn. 425) Sir Henry presented in 1593, (fn. 426) but later granted a 99-year lease of the advowson to John Hawly. (fn. 427) In 1600 Lee sold the advowson to St. John's College, Oxford. (fn. 428) In 1606 Hawly's lease was granted to Mary, relict of Ralph Hutchinson, Vicar of Charlbury; (fn. 429) she presented in 1606, and her son William in 1645. (fn. 430) Before 1676 the lease passed to John Fulkes who transferred it to his son Thomas, Vicar of Charlbury. (fn. 431) In 1681 Thomas's relict Elizabeth presented William Coles, (fn. 432) whom she later married; at her death in 1690 the lease was assigned to Coles, (fn. 433) who resigned the same year and presented John Browne. (fn. 434) In 1694 the lessee of the advowson, Mary Browne, probably the relict of William Browne, a former vicar, settled it on Margaret the wife of John Browne. (fn. 435) In 1694 the presentation was made by Frances Saunders, a relation of Margaret Browne. (fn. 436) In 1726 Anthony Saunders and Margaret Brabourne, the vicar's relict, presented Margaret's son John. The lease had by then expired, however, and in a court case which aroused considerable interest St. John's College was able to recover the advowson. (fn. 437) The advowson did not pass with the rectory to Lord Churchill and the Duke of Marlborough, and remained in the hands of the college in 1969.
Even before appropriation in 1293 Eynsham Abbey held a considerable proportion of the profits of the church. As well as pensions of 5 marks from Charlbury and 14s. from Chadlington the abbey took all the tithes of its demesne and former demesne in the parish, great tithes from all its tenants except in Fawler, and from certain other specified land, probably new assarts. The rector was left with tithes of his glebe, of the Fawler villeins, and presumably of Chadlington and Shorthampton. (fn. 438) In 1291 the abbey's tithe was said, however, to be worth only £2, (fn. 439) which, if true, suggests that by that date the abbey had surrendered most of its tithes to the rector.
In 1254 the rectory, including the chapelries of Chadlington and Shorthampton, was valued at 20 marks. (fn. 440) In 1291 Charlbury and Shorthampton were valued at £20 5s. a year gross, and Chadlington was separately valued at £10. (fn. 441) After the institution of the vicarage in 1296 the abbey received the great tithes, (fn. 442) which after 1390 were usually farmed by the chief tenant of each hamlet. (fn. 443) In 1431 the great tithes of the parish were being farmed for an apparently fixed payment in kind of 82 qr. of wheat, 151 qr. of barley, and 7½ qr. of oats. (fn. 444)
The vicarage was endowed in 1296 with the altar fees of Charlbury, Shorthampton, and Chadlington, worth £17 6s. 8d., and the tithes of hay worth £8, as well as about 65 a. of glebe. (fn. 445) In 1526 the vicar was taxed on £24 and his curate at Charlbury on £6. (fn. 446) At the Dissolution the vicarage was said to be worth £25 5s. 8¼d. net. (fn. 447)
In 1635 the vicarage of Charlbury (excluding Chadlington) comprised a dwelling house of six bays with outbuildings, and another house, all in good repair, c. 11 a. of pasture, and c. 46 a. of arable land. (fn. 448) In 1806 the premises were described as a house, outbuildings, a home close of 2½ a., and c. 32 a. of land. (fn. 449) The vicar's income came from the glebe and from the small tithes of the parish and great tithes of Pudlicote in Shorthampton. Vicars were letting out the tithes at farm in 1635 and 1757. (fn. 450) The vicar's tithes in Chadlington and Shorthampton were commuted at inclosure in 1825, when the vicar was awarded 309 a. of land in their stead and 1¼ a. in lieu of open-field glebe. (fn. 451) In 1849 the vicar's tithes in the rest of the parish were commuted for a tithe rent-charge of £686; at that date there were c. 55 a. of glebe in Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock and a tithe rent-charge of 7s. 6d. an acre was set on glebe not occupied by the vicar. (fn. 452) All but about 50 a. of the glebe in the parish had been sold by 1939. (fn. 453) In 1869 the living was valued at £800 a year gross, in 1903 £400 net, and in 1940 £835 gross. (fn. 454) The vicarage- house stood on Church Lane opposite the west end of the church. It was a sizeable house even in 1635 but was subsequently enlarged. In the 18th century it was remodelled, perhaps by William Seward (vicar 1771–90), who found it necessary to rebuild the vicarage-house before he could live in the parish. (fn. 455) In 1853 the vicarage-house was declared inadequate, due to the 'imperfect, fanciful, and inconvenient re- pairs' of the former incumbent, Thomas Silver, whose additions included a 'Saxon' tower, which survives. It was intended in 1853 to replace the old vicarage- house entirely by a large Gothic house designed by S. L. Seckham: in the event the new vicarage-house was built adjacent to the old. (fn. 456) Over the porch are the arms of W. W. Stoddart, vicar from 1853 until 1856. The Gothic vicarage-house was replaced in 1963 by a new house built in the grounds: the former vicarage-house was given the name Old Rectory, and its earlier wing constitutes a separate dwelling known as Queen Anne House.
The three known medieval rectors were all graduates, presumably of Oxford, and prominent men in the archdeaconry, and it seems likely that they paid curates to serve Charlbury. Master Walter of St. Edmunds, instituted in 1233–4, (fn. 457) was a con- siderable benefactor of the Hospital of St. John, Oxford, (fn. 458) and Master Bartholomew of Newington, instituted in 1265, was a clerk in the service of Eyn- sham Abbey, (fn. 459) and also vicegerent of the Archdeacon of Oxford. (fn. 460) The last rector, Master Philip of Barton, held a number of livings in plurality, (fn. 461) and was recommended by Archbishop Winchelsey. (fn. 462)
Many of the 18 medieval vicars whose names survive (fn. 463) were fairly prominent men and may not have been resident. Eight resigned or exchanged the living, and one was deprived for an unknown reason. Three were magistri, another was Bachelor of Canon Law, and two, Walter Sandwich and James Whit- stone, were Doctors of Canon Law. Sandwich, who resigned in 1448, was probably identical with the Oxford man of that name who was then a minor papal penitentiary and papal chaplain, and earlier had been receiver general of Eynsham Abbey. (fn. 464) Whitstone, instituted in 1496, held two distant rectories, probably in plurality with Charlbury, and later became Vicar General and Chancellor of the Bishop of Lincoln and President of the Council of Margaret, Countess of Richmond and Derby. (fn. 465)
At the visitation of c. 1520 it was found that the vicar was not resident and had failed to find a deacon to minister to the parish; the vicarage had been handed over to a layman and the distribution of money to the poor was not being made. (fn. 466) In 1530 the vicar was Robert King, Abbot of Thame, later first Bishop of Oxford, who was presumably non-resident, but paid a curate at Charlbury. (fn. 467) Two endowments for lights in the church were taken into the Crown's possession at the Reformation; (fn. 468) in 1523 a parishioner left candles for six lights in Charlbury church, for the high altar, and for an altar or chapel of St. Leonard, said to be near Charlbury church. (fn. 469) In 1528 three further lights were mentioned. (fn. 470)
In 1558 the vicar William Sale conformed to the Elizabethan settlement. (fn. 471) His successor, Hugh Lloyd, D.C.L., had been a fellow of New College, Oxford, and was probably non-resident since he became Chancellor of Rochester, a Canon of St. Paul's, and a chief master at Winchester school. (fn. 472) He had at least one curate at Charlbury, however, in 1584. In the same year the church-wardens were presented because there were no texts on the walls of the church and no glass in the windows. (fn. 473) The vicar appointed in 1593 was Ralph Hutchinson, D.D., one of the translators of the authorized version of the Bible; he had been a fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, from 1570, and president of the college in the period 1590–1605. Although he held another living (fn. 474) he resided in Charlbury for part of his time as vicar, for his sons were baptized there in 1602 and 1603. (fn. 475)
In the 17th century the vicars came mainly from the two or three related families who held the lease of the advowson. Hutchinson's successor was his son-in-law Roland Searchfield, D.D., another fellow of St. John's College; he became Bishop of Bristol in 1619 but retained the vicarage of Charlbury until his death in 1622, (fn. 476) and his children were baptized there. (fn. 477) A later vicar, a graduate of St. John's College, Thomas Downer, also married a daughter of Ralph Hutchinson; (fn. 478) he died in 1641, but may have given up the living before then as he made no entries in the register after 1639. (fn. 479) In 1641–2 all but two of the inhabitants of Charlbury took the Protestation Oath. (fn. 480) The life of the parish appears to have been disrupted during the Interregnum: entries in the parish registers of 1644–60 were few and made in a variety of hands. Even so one man, William Browne, remained vicar from 1644 until his death in 1672, and appears to have been resident for much of that period. (fn. 481) At his death his personalty was valued at £90 of which £15 was the value of his books and other objects in his study; he had clearly made his living partly by farming his own glebe. (fn. 482) The vicar in 1690, William Coles, was a non-juror, but after resigning he continued to reside in Charlbury, acting as chaplain at Cornbury Park, until his death in 1734. (fn. 483) In 1759 James Luck, the vicar, complained to the bishop that while Coles had lived many of the parishioners had considered him their rightful vicar, and that on his death they had transferred their allegiance to John Arrowsmith, the curate of Charlbury, who had assisted Coles at Cornbury Park. (fn. 484) John Brabourne, D.D., a former fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and principal of New Inn Hall, Oxford in 1709, (fn. 485) was vicar from 1697 until 1726. He resided in Charlbury for at least part of his incumbency, (fn. 486) and was described by Thomas Hearne as 'a strange sot, a poor scholar, and good for just nothing'. (fn. 487)
On Brabourne's death St. John's College regained the advowson of the church and for the next 200 years all but two vicars were former members of the college, five of them fellows. Most resided in Charlbury for at least part of the year, and during their absence made reasonable arrangements for the care of the parish. Two curates, one for Charlbury with Shorthampton and one for Chadlington, were employed throughout the 18th century. Some of the Charlbury curates served other cures, but most seem to have been resident, and often they served as masters of Charlbury grammar school. (fn. 488) In the period 1738–1823 the curate's salary rose from £30 to £90. (fn. 489) Throughout the 18th century there were prayers twice a day on Sundays with one sermon, and prayers on Wednesdays, Fridays, Holy Days, and vigils. Holy Communion was celebrated six times a year, at major feasts, and children were catechized during Lent. In 1738 there were said to be 30 to 40 communicants, (fn. 490) but by 1774 the number had fallen to about 20, (fn. 491) perhaps reflecting a general decline in church life in the parish during the incumbency of James Luck, who appears to have spent much of his time quarrelling with his curates and his parishioners, who, he believed, treated him very badly. In 1768 he reported an increase in the numbers of absentees from church, remarking that 'those who should punish and restrain them rather patronize and encourage them'. (fn. 492) By 1831 there were about 40 communicants and the number of services remained the same. (fn. 493)
The vicar from 1828 to 1853, Thomas Silver, LL.B., a former Fellow of St. John's College and Rawlinson Professor of Anglo-Saxon, was a strong advocate of the unity of Church and State and wrote a number of pamphlets protesting against the establishment of the Ecclesiastical Commission, the attempts to abolish church rates, and the commutation of tithes: on the latter subject he sent an open letter to the Duke of Marlborough and Baron Churchill as lay rectors of Charlbury. (fn. 494) He was unpopular with Charlbury nonconformists in 1845–6 when he made the holding of his allotments conditional on church attendance and the use of church schools. (fn. 495) During his incumbency the number of communion services fell to four a year, but at Charlbury as elsewhere the number of celebrations increased in the mid 19th century. In 1851 the average attendance at Sunday services was said to be between four and five hundred. (fn. 496) In 1854 there were about 60 communicants at Easter, the church was well attended at other times, and numbers appeared to be increasing. (fn. 497) Although G. J. Davies, appointed curate in 1853, stayed in Charlbury for only three years he brought lasting benefits to the town: he opened a reading room, refounded a lending library (which remained in use into the 20th century), reorganized the charitable societies, and instituted lectures for working men. To his great disappointment the lectures, though well attended, failed to attract the labouring poor. During his stay the number of celebrations of Holy Communion doubled. (fn. 498)
In 1860 the average congregation was said to be 500 but among hinderances to a successful ministry were listed the prevalence of Dissent, the multiplication of public houses, and the lack of good Church schools; opposition to church rates had been so intense that the churchwardens were unable to pay the usual fees at the archdeacon's visitation and had therefore not been sworn in. (fn. 499) For a time in the 1860s there were two assistant curates, one for Chadlington and one for Charlbury and Shorthampton. The complaints about the strength of Dissent and the difficulty in raising money were repeated later, but it was also remarked that relations with the Nonconformist bodies were very good. (fn. 500) Relations remained good, and the Anglicans joined with other denominations in ecumenical services c. 1900. (fn. 501) Charlbury continued to have vicars who were widely popular in the parish. In 1969 the vicar was serving Charlbury and the chapel at Shorthampton and there was no curate. (fn. 502)
A church house was mentioned in 1355 (fn. 503) and in 1447 the church house lay on the east side of the churchyard on the site occupied by the present Manor House. (fn. 504) The house was used from the late 16th century for manorial courts. (fn. 505) In 1667 the house, then known as the Town House, was taken over by the grammar school, which remained there until 1837. (fn. 506) The house was among properties belonging to the Charlbury Exhibition Foundation in 1909 but was later sold. It was used for some years as a glove factory. The surviving building is a 17thcentury random coursed rubble building with a stone slate roof and later windows; at the rear are some older windows with wooden mullions and transoms.
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN comprises chancel with north and south chapels, nave with north and south aisles, south porch, and western tower. (fn. 507) There are some indications that in the 12th century the church was cruciform. The earliest surviving part of the building is a 12thcentury arcade of three arches on the north side of the nave; the eastern arch appears to be earlier in date than the others and may represent an opening into a former transept. Moreover the wall dividing the south aisle from the south chapel may earlier have formed the wall of a transept.
In the 13th century the church was greatly enlarged by the extension of the chancel eastwards, and the addition of a tall, unbuttressed, western tower, a south aisle, and north and south chapels. The south aisle is divided from the nave by an arcade of three arches; the south doorway was built at the same period. The chapels are each connected to the adjacent aisle by a 13th-century arch. The south chapel runs the whole length of the chancel, and is divided from it by two arches that were rebuilt in the 19th century; a doorway in the south wall and a piscina towards the east end suggest that the chapel had reached its full size by the 13th century. The north chapel is of one bay only, and has a roof aligned north-south and a 13th-century arch opening into the chancel. The order in which the extensive 13th-century work in the church was carried out is not entirely clear, but features of the east wall suggest that the south chapel was built later than the extension of the chancel.
In the 14th century the east windows of the chancel and south chapel were inserted and the chancel arch was rebuilt. The medieval arch-braced roof of the chancel probably dates from that period. A doorway, later blocked, above the chancel arch gave access to a rood loft. In the 15th century the upper stage of the tower was added, and a western doorway inserted in its base. A modest clerestory was added to the nave, and low-pitched roofs were built over the nave, the north chapel, and the north and south aisles. The north aisle, originally narrow and lean-to in design, was widened in that period or earlier. Most of the windows in both aisles were inserted in the 15th century, but their original tracery was replaced by simple mullions in the 18th or early 19th century. Some of the windows, notably the one at the west end of the north aisle, were built with a crude simplicity characteristic of 'churchwardens' windows' of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The chancel was described as ruinous c. 1520. (fn. 508) In the 16th century a south porch was added, and in the 17th century a fine wooden spiral staircase was built in the tower. Until the restoration of the church in the 19th century there were two galleries, connected by a bridge: (fn. 509) one lay across the tower arch and may have been lighted by an opening (later blocked) high in the south wall of the north aisle; the other was against the south wall, and was reached by a range of stone steps outside the church and through a doorway (later blocked) to the west of the porch. At some date in the earlier 19th century the tower arch was blocked, (fn. 510) but was subsequently reopened.
In 1856 the church was repaired and refitted in accordance with the designs of G. E. Street. The high box pews and the pulpit and font were replaced, and the galleries were removed, (fn. 511) but the work did not amount to a full restoration since in 1857 the roof was said to be in bad repair (fn. 512) and the chancel was in need of restoration in 1872. (fn. 513) The chancel was restored and partially rebuilt in 1874 by the lay rector, John, Duke of Marlborough, to the designs of C. Buckeridge; (fn. 514) most of what was rebuilt was evidently copied from the original since there is little evidence that substantial changes were made from the building described in 1821 and 1850. (fn. 515)
The tracery of the east window of the south chapel was restored in memory of S. D. Russell, vicar from 1857 until 1873. In 1895 the blocked clerestory windows on the north side of the nave were opened and in the period 1898–1905 the porch was restored by the vicar, A. C. Smith. In 1905 the tower was restored by parishioners and friends. In 1927 the roofs were restored. In 1957 the church was redecorated and the stonework restored. In 1966 the north side of the chancel was reroofed. (fn. 516) Electric light was installed in 1930; oil-fired heating replaced the solid fuel boiler in 1962. (fn. 517)
In the chancel are memorials to members of the Jenkinson family of Walcot, and to Elizabeth, Dowager Viscountess of Hereford (d. 1742), to W. Wellwood Stoddart (d. 1856), a former vicar, and to John Cobb (d. 1809) and A. J. Payne (d. 1904), members of the families of two former vicars. On the south wall of the south chapel is a modern bronze tablet, replacing an earlier memorial brass, commemorating Joanna (d. 1541), wife of Thomas Bridges, Keeper of Cornbury Park. (fn. 518) On the north wall of the chancel, under the chancel arch, is a memorial tablet, erected in 1911, to Dr. Ralph Hutchinson, vicar 1592–1606. The stained glass in the east window of the chancel was given in 1898 in memory of C. F. C. West, vicar 1874–7, (fn. 519) and that in the east window of the south chapel in memory of those killed in the First World War. There is a memorial to the dead of the two World Wars. There are two scratch dials on the west wall of the church, and a sundial dated 1776 on the south wall.
There are six bells and a sanctus bell, all cast in 1716 by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester. They were rehung in 1875 (fn. 520) and again in 1905. (fn. 521) The earliest piece of plate is a silver paten of 1683, bearing the names of William Coles, vicar, and John Hastings and Thomas Holloway, churchwardens. Two chalices, a large paten, a flagon, an alms-dish, and a font-basin were given in 1716 by William Coles, the former vicar, Sarah Canning, Henry Hyde, Earl of Rochester, of Cornbury Park, and Sir Robert Jenkinson of Walcot. (fn. 522)
The registers date from 1559 and are complete except for gaps in the Civil War period and in the marriage register from 1753 to 1797. (fn. 523)
Until Finstock acquired its own chapel many of the inhabitants attended church at Wilcote, which was nearer than Charlbury. (fn. 524) Finstock chapel of ease was built in 1840–1, largely, it appears, on the initiative of Thomas Silver, Vicar of Charlbury; (fn. 525) it was built on land granted by the trustees of George, Duke of Marlborough (d. 1840), and was consecrated in 1842. (fn. 526) Burials took place at Finstock from the first, and in 1850 the chapel was licensed for banns and marriages. (fn. 527) In 1851 the curate served Ramsden also and held Sunday services alternately morning and evening in each chapel. On census day in that year 130 adults and 106 children attended at Finstock. (fn. 528) The district chapelry of Finstock with Fawler was created in 1860, Alfred Redifer, the curate, being the first incumbent. The living was at first a perpetual curacy but was a titular vicarage by 1869. (fn. 529) It was in the gift of St. John's College until 1910, when, to facilitate the augmentation of the living by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the patronage was transferred to the Vicar of Charlbury, (fn. 530) with whom it remained in 1969.
The living was endowed in 1860 with £75 a year from the commuted tithe of Finstock and Fawler; it was augmented by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by small amounts in 1868 and 1870 and by £53 a year in 1910, and in 1939 it was worth £350 net. (fn. 531) A large brick vicarage-house was built in 1864. (fn. 532)
HOLY TRINITY church was originally a simple rectangular building, with a bell-turret at the west end. (fn. 533) The cross surmounting the bell-turret was given in 1876 by the vicar, Alfred Redifer, in memory of his mother. (fn. 534) In 1906 the east end was pulled down and a chancel and vestry, a gift from the vicar, Albert Cary-Elwes, were built to the designs of S. Slingsley Stallwood. (fn. 535) The church was reroofed in 1922 and electric light was installed in 1937. (fn. 536) The stone pulpit, oak prayer desk, lectern, altar rails, and choir seats were given in memory of Frances, Dowager Lady Churchill (d. 1866), (fn. 537) and the organ by members of the du Cros family in memory of their mother in 1910. There are memorial tablets to Francis Conyngham, Marquess Conyngham and his wife Jane (both d. 1876), erected by Jane, Lady Churchill; to Francis George Spencer, Baron Churchill (d. 1886); and to Alfred Redifer, Vicar of Finstock (d. 1902). Two stained glass windows were given to commemorate the jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887; one of them was given by Sir Arthur du Cros in memory of members of his family.
The church plate comprises two silver patens of 1791 and 1802 and a silver chalice of 1841; all are inscribed 'Finstock Chapel 1842'. (fn. 538) The churchyard was extended on the south side by a grant in 1899 by Harvey du Cros of Cornbury Park, who reserved one corner of the new ground for a large family vault. (fn. 539) The registers of baptisms and burials are complete from 1842 and the register of marriages from 1850. (fn. 540)
In the early 17th century there were three Papist families in Charlbury; one, the Clements family, owned property in the parish up to the early 19th century. A few single women, probably servants, were also recorded as recusants. (fn. 541) In 1738 a priest was visiting Mr. Sutton's wife and her waiting woman; he had made no recent converts, (fn. 542) but 30 years later the incumbent said there were many Papists in the parish some of considerable rank; he thought that they had a meeting-place there and that 'a Romish bishop' was residing near. (fn. 543) There is no record of any permanent chapel and later references seem to show that there were only one or two Catholic families worshipping at Kiddington and later at Radford Hill. (fn. 544) In 1930 the former Primitive Methodist chapel was opened as a church and in 1939 was served from Heythrop. (fn. 545) It was later served from Radford, but in 1969 the priest resided in Charlbury.
In 1669 there were said to be 48 nonconformists in Charlbury parish (including Chadlington). (fn. 546) The majority of them were probably Quakers but in 1672 Anabaptists were meeting at Thomas Crasse's house in Finstock to be taught by Thomas Packer. (fn. 547) The pastor of the congregation attended a general assembly in 1689. (fn. 548) In 1682 the vicar reported to the bishop that there were three Independents and that Chipping Norton and 'the Field town' (Leafield) did great harm to the Church. (fn. 549) A Presbyterian was reported twice in the 18th century (fn. 550) but no nonconformist sect except the Quakers had then a real foothold in Charlbury. The very few other dissenters went to meeting-houses in other parishes. (fn. 551) The first Quakers in Charlbury were converted by Anne Downer, daughter of a former Vicar of Charlbury, Thomas Downer; she was converted, probably in London in 1654, and visited Charlbury shortly afterwards. She preached in London in 1655, the first Quaker woman to do so, and was imprisoned and beaten. She preached at Chadlington in 1656, but then left the district to act as secretary to George Fox in Cornwall. (fn. 552) Her Charlbury converts began to meet at William Cole's house in Park Street, and by 1669 c. 30 Friends were meeting on Sundays and most Fridays at the house of Alexander Harris, another of the original converts. (fn. 553) Persecution began early, and in 1657–8 Harris and Cole were imprisoned for non-payment of tithes, the latter dying in prison. A Chadlington man attending Charlbury meeting was imprisoned for non-payment in 1659 and 1662, and in 1660 for refusal to swear the Oath of Allegiance; many Quakers were distrained on for refusing to pay church rates and in 1663 Henry Shad, a schoolmaster, was forbidden to teach. (fn. 554) In 1680, when the Charlbury meeting was visited by Thomas Taylor, a North Country Friend, the house used (William Cole's) was crowded and so many were convinced that it was subsequently decided to build a meetinghouse on land given by Thomas Gilkes of Sibford Gower and others. The house was built in 1681 and by 1689 it had a burial ground. (fn. 555) Numbers appear to have fallen in the early years of the 18th century; eight Friends had contributed to the meeting's funds in 1696, but only four did so in 1708, (fn. 556) and the week-day meeting was discontinued for a time. (fn. 557)
The most active of the Charlbury Quakers in the early 18th century was Daniel Bunce who was prominent in local Quaker affairs and in 1721 was chosen to lobby M.P.s in support of the motion to allow Quakers to affirm. (fn. 558) Other leading Quakers in the town came chiefly from the early Quaker families, such as the Harrises and Busbys, and from the Spendlove and Albright families, which settled in Charlbury in the 1690s and 1770s respectively.
A new meeting-house was built on the site of the old in 1779 and the burial ground, which was used by Quakers from neighbouring towns and villages, was enlarged. (fn. 559) It is a plain well-proportioned rectangular building of stone with a slate roof and round-headed windows with brick surrounds. At that date there were 8 or 9 families of Quakers in Charlbury (fn. 560) but by 1826 there were only 35 members of the meeting, 21 of them members of the Albright and Sessions families. (fn. 561) On census day in 1851 there were 39 people at the morning meeting and 27 at the afternoon meeting. The meeting-house was used occasionally by the Charlbury Bible and Peace societies. (fn. 562) The ecumenical services held in the meeting-house c. 1900 (fn. 563) were held at the invitation of the Society of Friends. Between the two world wars the number of Friends diminished rapidly and the meeting was closed in the 1920s. The meetinghouse was used in the 1920s for a preparatory school; in 1969 it was not in use.
Methodism first appeared in Charlbury parish when Edward Bolton and his family moved from Witney to Manor Farm, Finstock, c. 1774. (fn. 564) Edward Bolton, a farmer, brewer, and weaver, was regarded as one of the best local preachers and his sister Ann was a frequent correspondent of John Wesley. (fn. 565) Wesley wrote to her in 1774 recommending her to distribute small tracts to the poor people in Finstock, (fn. 566) and he preached in the hamlet in 1774 and 1778; he found the place congenial and exclaimed 'How many days should I spend here if I was to do my own will'. (fn. 567) Bolton himself had moved back to Witney by 1775 (fn. 568) and later lived in Blandford (Cornbury) Park. (fn. 569) The family kept the farm, however, and Manor Farm continued to be a meeting place for Methodists until the building of Finstock chapel in 1840. (fn. 570)
In 1808 the incumbent of Charlbury reported that two Methodist teachers came there alternately from Witney. (fn. 571) In 1811 Charlbury had a licensed room in Market Street, at the house of W. Grace, ropespinner. (fn. 572) In 1813 a barn in Fisher's Lane was licensed. (fn. 573) In 1823 a chapel was built in Fisher's Lane on land given by Edward Bolton's widow Hannah; John Gatfield, a private schoolmaster, one of the chapel trustees and a generous subscriber, was clearly a leading spirit in the congregation at that time. (fn. 574) The chapel was said to be already inadequate when it was opened in 1824. It is a square plain building in local stone, with a slate roof and large round-headed windows. In 1844 a wing containing schoolrooms was added; (fn. 575) it projects from the main block and forms one side of a courtyard in front of the chapel. On census day in 1851 the congregation was 200 (excluding 30 Sunday school children) in the afternoon and 200 in the evening. A Sunday school seems to have been started in 1822 and in 1838 there was a small library. (fn. 576) The Finstock chapel, opened in 1840, had on census day in 1851 an evening congregation of 75. (fn. 577) Both Charlbury and Finstock chapels belonged to Witney circuit; both were in use in 1969.
A Primitive Methodist chapel was opened in Charlbury in 1853 and was apparently flourishing in the late 19th century. (fn. 578) By 1927, however, it had closed and was used as a laundry, (fn. 579) it later became a Roman Catholic church.
The Baptists opened a chapel in Charlbury in 1854; £250 towards its building was given by George Baughan. (fn. 580) In 1875 the congregation was united with the Baptists of Chadlington. (fn. 581) Though the chapel contains a baptistery, in the early 20th century public immersions took place in the river. (fn. 582) In 1969 the chapel was served from Chadlington and there was an active membership of twenty one. (fn. 583) The building, on the corner of Dyer's Hill and Thames Street, is in the Early English style, of stone with a slate roof. On either side of the door are memorial inscriptions, laid in 1885, to G. Baughan and Mr. and Mrs. Bliss of Chipping Norton.
The house of Richard Eden at Fawler was licensed as a nonconformist meeting in 1827. The meeting may have been Congregationalist, (fn. 584) but nothing further is known of it.
Charlbury grammar school, endowed under the will of Anne Walker (proved 1667), and placed under the trusteeship of Brasenose College, Oxford, has been described in a previous volume. It was located in the Manor House until a new school-house was built in 1837. Apart from one closure from 1833 to 1835 due to the difficulty of finding a master and to the lack of suitable pupils, it continued in existence from its foundation in 1675 until 1911; (fn. 585) it was then closed by order of the Charity Commissioners and its endowment used to provide exhibitions for children proceeding to higher education, a purpose which it had served since 1896. The Charlbury Exhibition Foundation survives, receiving an income of £40 a year from Brasenose College and an annual rent from the former school building. (fn. 586) There had been schools in Charlbury before the foundation of the grammar school; in 1663 a Quaker schoolmaster was prohibited from teaching in Charlbury, (fn. 587) the first master of the grammar school had been teaching in the town for some years, and the school building itself had been used as a school-house before. (fn. 588)
A British school in Charlbury was started in 1815 in buildings on the Playing Close. (fn. 589) It was run on the Lancasterian system, making use of pupilteachers, and was supported by subscriptions, largely from the Quaker community, and by school pence. By 1833 there were 94 boys and 76 girls in the school. (fn. 590) Jesse Clifford, master in 1851, was regarded as an exceptional teacher; he remained master for 42 years. (fn. 591) In the 1850s a scheme was proposed for the amalgamation of the British school and the grammar school: under the scheme the British school was to become the girls' school and the grammar school the boys' school for the whole town. (fn. 592) The proposal was rejected, largely perhaps because of the difficulties of making the grammar school, which was considered a Church school, acceptable to the large number of nonconformists in the town. In 1857 plans were made to build an infant school which would provide a better education for young children than that supplied by dame schools, and an infant department attached to the British school was opened in 1863. (fn. 593) By 1867 the British school accommodated 179 pupils, including infants, and had an average attendance of 140. (fn. 594)
The school was taken over by a school board in 1888 when expansion became necessary. In 1889 there was accommodation for 176 children and 97 infants, and an average attendance of 120 children and 58 infants, (fn. 595) but by 1893 total accommodation and attendance had increased to 280 and 202, and by 1906 the school had been enlarged to take 351 children. (fn. 596) Evening classes held by the science and art department in the school premises were being attended in 1902 by 23 people. (fn. 597)
The school expanded again after 1928 when older children from the neighbouring villages were brought to Charlbury by bus, and from 1954–8 the old grammar school buildings were leased and used for the infant school and for domestic science classes. (fn. 598) A school garden of considerable merit was run by the school-children. In 1958 a new school was built, the Spendlove County Secondary Modern school, which had a roll of 263 children in 1969. The old school became the Charlbury County Primary school with a roll of 284. (fn. 599)
An endowment of £100 was left to the British school by Robert Spendlove (d. 1822), (fn. 600) but the money had either been spent or lost by 1889, when no income from endowments was reported. (fn. 601)
There were several dame schools and private schools in Charlbury during the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1815 and 1833 six private schools were recorded, (fn. 602) but most of them were small and shortlived. They included a free school for 20 girls recorded in 1808, (fn. 603) a Wesleyan boarding and day school for boys and girls, recorded in 1817 and 1833, (fn. 604) and a Quaker boarding school, Sycamore House, opened after 1820 in a house on the Playing Close and still in existence in 1833. (fn. 605) A Church of England school was started in 1830 by the vicar, Thomas Silver; by 1833 it was giving free tuition to 20 boys and 24 girls. (fn. 606) It still survived in 1871, (fn. 607) but no later record has been found; its attendance was probably not large and it appears to have been unimportant by comparison with the grammar school and the British school. (fn. 608) A girls' secondary school, Merton House, had c. 25 pupils in the 1880s and 1890s, and from 1923 to 1929 Charlbury Preparatory School was held in the old Quaker meeting-house. (fn. 609)
By 1815 Fawler and Finstock each had a school for small children, probably a dame school. (fn. 610) In 1832 two schools were founded at Finstock, supported partly by the vicar and partly by fees; in 1833 the average attendance at the two schools was 80. (fn. 611) By 1847 there was a free school, supported chiefly by Francis, Lord Churchill. (fn. 612) A National school was erected in Finstock in 1860 on a site given by Lord Churchill, and in 1867 had an average attendance of 83. (fn. 613) The school was enlarged in 1895 to accommodate 150 children, of whom 110 on average attended. (fn. 614) In 1928 the school was reorganized as a junior school, older children being taken by bus to Charlbury. The school had 46 children on the roll in 1928, 74 in 1954, and 175 in 1970. (fn. 615)
In addition to day schools there were by 1833 three Sunday schools in Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock, two Church of England for 40 boys and 40 girls, and one Wesleyan for 40 children. (fn. 616) Night schools were also held, with varying success; in 1867 (fn. 617) one in Finstock had an average attendance of 29. (fn. 618)
Hannah Neal by will dated 1737 left ½ a. in Ramsden for educating poor children of Finstock. By 1823 the value of the land had risen from 6s. to 7s. 6d. a year, and it was proposed to use the money, which had previously been given away at Christmas time, for books for a newly established Sunday school. (fn. 619) In 1870 the income of the charity, which had risen to £1 a year, was paid to the vicar for the school fund; by 1887 it had fallen to 16s. a year, which was applied to the funds of the Finstock National school. (fn. 620) The charity had apparently been lost by the 1920s when the land was sold free of charitable trusts.
In 1666 Richard Eyrans gave a close in reversion to apprentice poor boys and girls of Charlbury. In 1786 the land was let for £2 15s. a year (fn. 621) and in 1823 for £7 a year. Between c. 1814 and 1823 8 or 10 boys were apprenticed with premiums of up to 10 gns. By 1911 the rent had fallen to £5 5s. a year. Permission was given in 1948 for the sale of part of the land (1 r. 10 p.). (fn. 622) In 1969 the income of £10 15s. was still available to help with the expenses of apprenticeships. (fn. 623)
Charities for the Poor.
About 1447, the 'whole town' of Charlbury held an area called the Playing Close from the lord of the manor at a nominal rent, and the churchwardens held a house next to the church (the church-house, later the Manor House), and 2 a. of land in Church Slade, at a rent of 3s. 9d. (fn. 624) In 1692 Thomas Gifford leased to 8 trustees, men of Charlbury, Fawler, and Finstock, for a term of 998 years, the church-house and the 2 a. of land in Church Slade for the use of the inhabitants of all three townships, and the Playing Close and a cottage there for the use of the inhabitants of Charlbury only. (fn. 625) Under the name of Gifford's charity (fn. 626) part of the property was still held by trustees in 1823, when the income of £5 was applied in aid of the Charlbury poor rate. The cottage in Playing Close had been sold and the money applied to building a workhouse. One of the tenements in Charlbury had been lost; the church-house was occupied by the grammar school and after the new school was built in 1837 remained part of the school's endowment; (fn. 627) until 1809 an adjacent tenement, thought to have once formed part of the church-house property, was set aside for Fawler and Finstock as their share in the estate, the income from it being divided between the two hamlets, each of which received £1 11s. 6d. In 1809 this tenement was exchanged for three cottages in Fawler and one in Charlbury. (fn. 628) The cottages in Fawler, which were set aside for the poor of Fawler, were later occupied by such poor families that the overseers had difficulty getting rent from them; they had been pulled down by 1870. (fn. 629) The cottage in Charlbury, which was set aside for the poor of Finstock was let for £4 4s. in 1823, and the money applied to the church rate. (fn. 630) By 1870 the rent, which had fallen to £4 a year, was claimed for the poor rate, but the churchwardens wanted to use it for church expenses. In 1875 the cottage was sold for £52 by the Poor Law Guardians of Chipping Norton Union and the churchwardens and overseers of Fawler and Finstock; the money was invested, and the income credited to the Finstock poor rate. (fn. 631) The income from Charlbury's share of the charity was applied to the poor rate until, by a Scheme of 1898, the parish council was appointed trustee and it was laid down that the income from the other lands should be used to maintain Playing Close as a recreation ground. (fn. 632) The income was still so applied in 1969.
Thomas Eyrans, by will dated 1636, gave to Charlbury £600 to purchase land, the income to be used for setting the poor to work. Before 1686 £300 of that money, together with £125 given by unknown donors, had come into the hands of Anthony Eyrans, who evidently purchased no land. In 1686, under a decree of the Commissioners of Charitable Uses, the money was surrendered to trustees, who were to use the £300 as stipulated by the donor, the £125 being either invested or used to purchase land. (fn. 633) In 1724 £250, almost certainly belonging to this charity, was used to buy land near a wharf in Banbury. The land was sold in 1777 to the Oxford Canal Company for £500, which was invested and the income applied to the poor rate. (fn. 634) Part of the income of the charity in 1786 came from the produce of the workhouse. (fn. 635) The stock was sold in 1829 for £623, £571 of which was used to buy 12½ a. in Charlbury; in 1838 the remaining £52 was used to purchase 9 a. in Charlbury. The land was laid out in allotments, and the income applied to buy coal to be sold at reduced prices. In 1855 the Chipping Norton Poor Law Guardians demanded that the money be made over to them, to be set against the Charlbury account; this was done for some years, in spite of sporadic opposition from Charlbury. By 1884, however, the money was no longer being claimed by the overseers, and under a Scheme of 1895 the land was let for £17 11s. a year and the income applied to the poor generally, in the form of coal, clothing, or subscriptions to a provident club. The land continued to be let until 1968, when it was sold and the money invested. (fn. 636) In 1969 the income of the charity, then known as Long Hedge and Ticknell, the names of the fields purchased in the early 19th century, was £164 9s. 4d., of which £142 11s. 3d. was distributed, mainly in cash, in sums of £2 or £3. (fn. 637)
By will dated 1737 Elizabeth Martin left £2 a year, charged on land in Finstock, to be distributed to poor widows of Finstock. (fn. 638) In 1824 the land belonged to Francis, Lord Churchill (d. 1845), and the income from it was distributed on Christmas Eve in sums of 1s., 2s., or 2s. 6d. among all the poor. (fn. 639) The money was distributed in the same manner in 1870. (fn. 640) In 1887 a sum of money believed to arise from the charity was distributed annually among the poor by Mrs. Bolton, a tenant of Victor, Lord Churchill. Until Lord Churchill's death in 1886 the vicar received another payment of 1s. per head for the depositors in the clothing club. That money, amounting to c. £10 a year, was supposed to be connected with Elizabeth Martin's charity, but in view of the size of the sum the vicar thought it impossible. In 1903 £2 a year was received from Vernon J. Watney of Cornbury Park, who was uncertain whether it was a legal charge on his estate. (fn. 641) The charity had been lost by 1927. (fn. 642)
Thomas Martin, by will dated 1747, (fn. 643) charged his estate at Finstock with a payment of £2 a year, to be distributed to 20 poor labourers of Finstock, or their widows, not in receipt of parochial aid. Until 1820 the money was distributed by the churchwardens and overseers in sums of 6d., 1s., or 2s. 6d., but between 1820 and 1824 one of the rent payers distributed £1 14s. 6d. herself, an arrangement considered unsatisfactory by the Charity Commissioners. (fn. 644) In 1870 the owner of the land was giving a liberal subscription to the village school, which the churchwardens thought might include part of the rentcharge, but by 1887, although the subscription was still being paid, nothing was known of any regular distribution of alms. By a Scheme of 1909 trustees were appointed, and the rent-charge of £1 14s. 6d. recovered. The money was in 1956 distributed in sums of 2s. 6d. or 3s. to 13 persons. (fn. 645)
John Penson (d. 1866) left £100 stock, the income to buy bread for the poor of Charlbury. (fn. 646) In 1955 £2 5s. was distributed in cash among 13 poor pensioners. (fn. 647)
Owen Oswell (d. 1906) by will left funds from which the income was to be divided between the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, and a coal charity for the poor of Charlbury. The charity began to operate in 1922 when the stock amounted to £1,375. In the 1960s the income was £8 8s. 11d. a year. (fn. 648)
In addition to the endowed charities there were several charitable societies, of which the earliest was the Lying-in Society, probably founded during the Napoleonic wars. William Albright was presumably the local treasurer since Charlotte, Duchess of Beaufort, a leading subscriber, sent her subscriptions to him. The society has not been found mentioned after 1835. (fn. 649) A clothing and a coal club were also started in the earlier 19th century, and the former had c. 150 members in 1856. The charitable societies were reorganized by G. J. Davies, curate of Charlbury 1854–7, who divided Charlbury into five districts, each having two visitors. He also suggested amalgamating the clubs into a consolidated fund. In 1856 the funds amounted to £17 but the agricultural depression reduced them to only £12 by the 1870s, of which two-thirds came from honorary subscribers. The coal and clothing club continued throughout the First World War, and after the war the district visitors collected funds to be paid to the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, to ensure hospital treatment for subscribers. (fn. 650)