Eynsham: Tilgarsley

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.

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A P Baggs. W J Blair. Eleanor Chance. Christina Colvin. Janet Cooper. C J Day. Nesta Selwyn. S C Townley, 'Eynsham: Tilgarsley', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990), pp. 115-116. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol12/pp115-116 [accessed 15 June 2024].

A P Baggs. W J Blair. Eleanor Chance. Christina Colvin. Janet Cooper. C J Day. Nesta Selwyn. S C Townley. "Eynsham: Tilgarsley", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990) 115-116. British History Online, accessed June 15, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol12/pp115-116.

Baggs, A P. Blair, W J. Chance, Eleanor. Colvin, Christina. Cooper, Janet. Day, C J. Selwyn, Nesta. Townley, S C. "Eynsham: Tilgarsley", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990). 115-116. British History Online. Web. 15 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol12/pp115-116.


Though the extent and location of Tilgarsley's fields may be traced, the site of the deserted hamlet remains uncertain. (fn. 58) By the early 14th century Tilgarsley was a substantial settlement, paying more in taxes than Eynsham itself. (fn. 59) In 1327 there were 28 taxpayers in Tilgarsley and 27 in Eynsham. (fn. 60) In 1359 it was alleged that Tilgarsley was abandoned in 1350 because all the inhabitants had died; the mortality was perhaps overstated, since several longestablished family names survived, but the hamlet was evidently deserted, and the abbot was accordingly granted relief from subsidies. (fn. 61)

By the early 15th century the open fields of Tilgarsley were divided into inclosed 'crofts and pastures' which may be traced in later maps. (fn. 62) There are no later references to habitations there but in 1390 the abbot was storing tithe hay for his own use at le Bolde. (fn. 63) Bold croft and Bold close were frequently recorded in the later Middle Ages, (fn. 64) and later, as the Bowles (c. 34 a. in 1650), they included the site of the surviving Bowles Farm. (fn. 65) The land was former demesne, and the presence there of the abbot's barn in the later 14th century suggests that before the catastrophe the site may have been the centre of the home farm in Tilgarsley's fields. West and south-west were Grange coppice (70a., of which only Castle's coppice remains wooded) and Grange close (59a.), (fn. 66) names which presumably recall the monastic grange.

'Bolds' were buildings and the field name probably denotes the site of deserted dwellings. (fn. 67) In the early 18th century it was alleged that Tilgarsley had contained a church, and 'they call the ground surrounding the place the Bowles'. (fn. 68) In 1802 a field south of Bowles Farm was called Churchyard ground, and in the early 19th century Eynsham's vicar mentioned that 'stones and bones are frequently found there'. (fn. 69) There is no documentary reference to an early chapel at Tilgarsley, and it is unlikely that valuable burial rights were granted away from Eynsham without record; Churchyard ground, moreover, is not recorded among abundant references to Tilgarsley's fields in the later Middle Ages. The reference to a churchyard rather than to a church suggests that the field name may have been inspired merely by the discovery of burials, whose date and significance remains uncertain. It was probably correct, however, to link Tilgarsley with Bowles. In addition to evidence placing the abbot's home farm there it is clear that in 1449 the 'place called Tilgarsley' lay near the southern perimeter of the High wood, later Eynsham heath; (fn. 70) the convergence of many ancient lanes near Bowles Farm seems to imply an important settlement and the arrangement of early closes, particularly along the west side of Cuckoo Lane, may indicate former tenement sites. (fn. 71) Archaeological evidence is lacking, however, and the only remains identified as a possible habitation site lie ½ mile south-east of Bowles Farm in an area once called Turners Green. (fn. 72) Tilgarsley was perhaps large enough to include both that site and the Bowles.

Some alternative identifications of the lost hamlet were based on a misinterpretation of references to the manor or its fields, for the name Tilgarsley, denoting a wide area in the north and west of the parish, survived into modern times. (fn. 73) There is no evidence to support the identification of Twelve Acre Farm as the site of the hamlet, although it lay within Tilgarsley's fields and indeed became a centre of demesne farming in the later Middle Ages: masonry ploughed up near Stockman's close may have been from that period. (fn. 74) Eighteenthcentury county maps located Till Guzzel or Tilgarsley near Barnard Gate. (fn. 75)


  • 58. Below, Econ. (Agric.); M. Beresford, Hist. on the Ground, 99.
  • 59. e.g. B.L. Harl. Roll E 24.
  • 60. P.R.O., E 179/161/9.
  • 61. Eynsham Cart. ii, pp. 69 sqq.
  • 62. Below, Econ. (Agric.).
  • 63. Eynsham Cart. ii, p. Ixxiv.
  • 64. e.g. B.L. Harl. Rolls F 2, 13, 17; G 12. In P.N. Oxon. (E.P.N.S.), ii. 259 two 13th-cent. references to Bowles are assigned, probably in error, to Bowles Farm.
  • 65. e.g. O.R.O., Palm. IV/1; Blenheim Mun., E/P/9b.
  • 66. Cf. O.R.O., Palm. IV/1; Reading Univ. Arch., OXF 22/5/5; O.R.O., CH. XIX/1.
  • 67. O.E.D. A deserted settlement in Bucknell was discovered in a field called Bolliers (Ball yerds in 1695): Deserted Villages of Oxon. 43; County Mus., P.R.N. 5491.
  • 68. Hearne's Colln. vii (O.H.S. xlviii), 236.
  • 69. O.R.O. incl. map; Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. b 275, p. 13. In another copy of his note the vicar interlined 'grave' before 'stones': ibid. MS. Don. d 180, f. 3v.
  • 70. Eynsham Cart. ii, pp. 42-3.
  • 71. Blenheim Mun., E/P/9b.
  • 72. County Mus., P.R.N. 5424.
  • 73. e.g. P.R.O., RG 11/1513.
  • 74. Corresp. in County Mus., P.R.N. 5424.
  • 75. Davis, Oxon. Map (1797).