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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Although some freehold estates were created before 1279 (fn. 45) most were small and the manorial estate was not much reduced until the 17th century. In 1609 Corpus Christi College, Oxford, bought an estate in Eynsham attached to houses in Thames Street, later the Elms on the Oxford road. The estate had been formed from several distinct holdings. The Thames Street houses, called in 1595 the old and the new building, (fn. 46) were on the site of tenements acquired by the Glover family in the 15th century. In 1414 Hugh Glover bought parts of a tenement on the north side of Thames Street, next to the site at the corner of High Street and Queen Street, later Lord's Farm. (fn. 47) In 1433 William Glover bought the rest of the tenement and in 1440 that on the east, which may have been the house on the ferry road granted to Robert Belgrave by Eynsham abbey in 1284. (fn. 48) The name Modyswell attached to a spring rising on the eastern tenement (fn. 49) suggests that an earlier occupant was John, son of William Mody, who granted his houses to the abbey after 1268. (fn. 50) By 1433 the Belgrave house had been pulled down, and the holding was described as a toft, close, and dovecot only. (fn. 51)
From 1440 the Glover tenements descended as a single holding, passing from William Glover's son Richard to Henry Busby in 1503, and, apparently through trustees, to Richard Barry of Eynsham, glover, in 1505. (fn. 52) The Barry family may long have been tenants; Barrys were in Eynsham in 1406 and in 1467 Edmund Barry was paying a quit rent on a garden next to Modyswell. (fn. 53) Richard's son John (d. 1546), also a glover, became an Oxford alderman but retained his Eynsham property. (fn. 54) At an unknown date before 1560 the estate was acquired by Richard Ruffin (d. 1563), (fn. 55) passing to his son-in-law Thomas Cheyney, from whom it was bought before 1595 by William Seacole. (fn. 56)
In 1517 the Seacoles of South Leigh had acquired Perch closes in Tilgarsley, which in the 15th century, as closes called Hobwilles, were owned by the Pierte family from which they acquired their later name. (fn. 57) In 1591 William Seacole sold Perch closes, then leased to Henry Jackson of Oxford, mercer, to Edmund Reynolds of Oxford university, and in 1595 Reynolds bought from Seacole the old and new buildings in Thames Street. (fn. 58) Reynolds and Jackson were evidently closely associated in the Eynsham estate, which they enlarged by several purchases before selling to Corpus Christi College in 1609. (fn. 59) Thereafter the college leased the estate, usually for 20 years, at a fixed rent of £33 6s. 8d. and a quantity of grain. The early lessees were Henry Jackson (1612), Edmund Reynolds (1621), Richard Reynolds (1633), and Thomas Hayward of Wytham, gentleman, (fn. 60) who may all have sublet to Eynsham farmers. Later lessees were themselves local men, the Wises (1657 until the 1760s or later), then the Wilsdens for over a century. (fn. 61)
In 1615 the estate comprised the Thames Street site, Perch closes (9 a.), Spare Acre close (1 a.), 15a. of meadow, and c. 60 a. of open-field arable. (fn. 62) At inclosure in 1802 the college was awarded 66 a. for its open-field land, making its total estate 77 a. (fn. 63) The Elms remained a working farmhouse until the early 1960s. In 1968 Perch closes were sold and in 1971 the Elms itself; its barn was converted into a house, and other land nearby sold for building. (fn. 64)
The Elms is probably the new building of 1595, shown with a prominent porch and two chimneys on a map of 1615 in the position of the present house. (fn. 65) It is built of re-used stone, some of it moulded, and incorporates a variety of re-used windows with four-centred heads. It was probably built in the later 16th century, but seems to have been reroofed and extensively remodelled about a century later. The porch was added in the 19th century. The 'old building' of 1595, which lay along the western boundary of the plot, seems to have been demolished before 1762. (fn. 66)
Oxford city corporation bought an estate at Eynsham in 1611 with the proceeds of the sale of the later Wadham College site in Oxford. (fn. 67) The estate, comprising a house in Acre End Street, 26 a. of inclosed pasture, 6 a of inclosed meadow, and 80 a. of open-field arable, had belonged to Thomas Blackman until 1610. (fn. 68) It was reckoned as only 95 a. in 1650. (fn. 69) It was enlarged in 1674 by the purchase from William Brent and others of a house in Mill Street, pasture closes called Hobjoans (9 a.), and c. 18 a. of other land, all part of a copyhold estate of Elizabeth Turrold in 1650 (fn. 70) and for long tenanted by the Hart family, chief lessees of the city's Eynsham estate. (fn. 71) The corporation sold its house in Acre End Street to the tenant in return for a surrender of common rights at inclosure. (fn. 72) In 1802 it was awarded 120 a. for its open-field land, which, together with its closes, made up a farm of 160 a.; an outlying farmhouse, City Farm, was built at that time. (fn. 73) The estate was enlarged in 1856 by the purchase of the adjacent fields, Oundhills and Vincents (c. 26 a.), (fn. 74) and later by acquisitions of c. 36 a. in Hanborough parish and c. 32 a. from the charity feoffees of St. Giles's parish, Oxford. In 1953 City farm, by then 258 a., was sold to the tenants, the Watts family. (fn. 75)
Part of Freeland east and south-east of Elm Farm seems to have formed an ancient freehold. About 1150 the abbot of Eynsham granted 'the land of Frith' to Nicholas of Leigh for 13s. 4d., and in 1279 John of Leigh had 1 hide freehold for that rent. In 1389 Thomas Paynel, knight, was holding the estate, said to have been William of Leigh's, presumably William of Leigh (fl. 1349). (fn. 76) The reversion of Paynel's estate seems to have passed before 1410 to the Wilcotes family, and in 1445 was held by Elizabeth Blacket, formerly Wilcotes. (fn. 77) By 1467 the rent of 13s. 4d. was paid to Eynsham abbey for Paynel's leys and Paynel's meadow by Sir Richard Harcourt, at whose death in 1487 the estate passed to Miles Harcourt. (fn. 78) Before the Dissolution it came into the possession of Abingdon abbey. (fn. 79)
The Frith was a wood, estimated at 10 a. in 1306, (fn. 80) and identifiable as the Thrift in later records. (fn. 81) Closes called the Frith and Frithland were referred to in the 1540s, (fn. 82) and in 1605 the fields immediately south of the wood were called Freelands. (fn. 83) At the Dissolution the former Abingdon abbey estate there was reunited with Eynsham manor, (fn. 84) and the Frith and Frithland were let. In 1540 John Barry, the prominent Eynsham glover, was lessee of both, (fn. 85) and in 1610 Sir Thomas Spencer of Yarnton bequeathed to his son Thomas his lease of 'certain grounds' called Freeland. (fn. 86) In 1595 the occupant of the 'Frith house' in Eynsham was John Willis, and in 1650 Freeland comprised a house and inclosed ground called the Thrift (46 ½ a.), let to Simon Busby, and pasture grounds (109 a.) let to Michael Craggs. (fn. 87) The Busby property was sold in 1682 to the trustees of a Witney charity, who bought adjacent land during the 18th century. (fn. 88) After inclosure in 1802 the trustees held the farmhouse (now Elm Farm) and 71 a. (fn. 89) The 109 a. of pasture, sold from the manor in the 1650s to John Dalton, came to John Salter (d. 1742) and was divided into moieties, bought by the vicars of Stanton Harcourt and Kirtlington with grants from Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 90) In 1762 the Stanton Harcourt share comprised c. 54 a. and the Kirtlington share c. 51 a., all divided into closes; inclosure in 1802 confirmed that arrangement. (fn. 91) Elm Farm is a large stone and slate house of c. 1800, extensively restored and remodelled.
Freeland west of the main village street formed part of Eynsham heath until absorbed at inclosure in 1802 into the Freeland Lodge estate. On the eve of inclosure William Elias Taunton (d. 1825), town clerk of Oxford, built up an estate in Eynsham. In 1801 he bought from the trustees of James Duberley, lord of the manor, a freehold farm of 164 a. (Blagrove's) worked from the later Redthorn House in Mill Street. He also bought freehold and copyhold land, including Home Farm in Mill Street, from several smaller proprietors. (fn. 92) At inclosure Taunton was awarded 63 a. near Mill Street and a much larger estate (256 a.) on the heath, where he built Freeland Lodge and laid out the park. He sold the Mill Street farms shortly afterwards. (fn. 93) Taunton's son William Elias (d. 1835) (fn. 94) enlarged the estate on the south and south-west in 1826-7. (fn. 95) His son William Elias (III) died in 1873, and in 1874 the estate was sold to James Malcolm, formerly a sheep breeder in Australia. (fn. 96) It then comprised Freeland Lodge and its park (c. 50 a.), a farm of 267 a. worked from a farmhouse north of Freeland church, and several other houses in the village. (fn. 97) In 1885 the estate was bought by James Mason of Eynsham Hall, (fn. 98) who thus created a coherent estate covering most of the north half of Eynsham parish. Freeland Lodge (later called Freeland House) was occupied by members of the Mason family (fn. 99) until let as a maternity home c. 1940. (fn. 1) It was a private home for the elderly in 1984.
The first Freeland Lodge, a stone, three-storeyed house, was under construction until 1807 or later, and was enlarged by W. E. Taunton (II). (fn. 2) In 1885-7 it was rebuilt to designs by C.H. Howell of London. (fn. 3) In 1903 it was extended on the north-east to the design of A.J. Wood, and in the 1920s the principal rooms were much altered by Michael Mason. (fn. 4) The park, laid out in the early 19th century, included a lake and large plantations. After the 1880s rebuilding James Mason redesigned the pleasure gardens, greatly extended the wooded area, and inserted a carriage drive linking Freeland House and Eynsham Hall. (fn. 5)
An estate called the Farm, in fact the demesne farm of Eynsham manor, (fn. 6) was in 1650 leased by Thomas Edgerley of Bletchingdon from James Stanley, earl of Derby; it comprised a farmhouse and buildings (1 ½ a.) on part of the site of the present Abbey Farm, and c. 332 a. of mostly open-field land. (fn. 7) In 1655 Edgerley's son, Thomas, acquired the freehold and appears to have let the estate in parcels to local farmers. (fn. 8) In 1682 he sold the whole to Sir Richard Wenman, later Viscount Wenman of Tuam (d. 1690). After a prolonged Chancery suit in the 1690s the Eynsham estate was sold to pay Wenman's legacies, and in 1715 it was bought by John Churchill, duke of Marlborough. (fn. 9)
In the same year the duke acquired Eynsham's rectory estate. The rectory had been held by successive lords of the manor until 1658, (fn. 10) when Thomas Jordan sold to John Knapp of Cumnor the parsonage (formerly the abbey) barn, the adjacent Farm Court (a 4-acre plot now partly covered by Abbey Farm), and all the tithes except vicarial tithes and those of the demesne. (fn. 11) Knapp was already lessee of the rectory under a grant of 1654. (fn. 12) In 1662 he settled it on his son Francis, who in 1691 settled it on his son John. In 1692 the property was mortgaged to Stephen Fry of Oxford university, who bought the freehold in 1704. On Fry's death in 1710 it passed to his nephew Thomas Penny, who in 1715 sold it to the duke. (fn. 13)
In 1762 the duke's Eynsham estate was c. 332 a., divided between several tenants, of whom Martha Chamberlain held the farmhouse and 99 a., and James Wastie the tithe barn, 49 a., and presumably the tithes. (fn. 14) From 1763 the lessee of much of the farm and the tithes was George Brown (d. 1782), an 'opulent farmer', (fn. 15) who was succeeded in the lease by James Preston, his former servant. (fn. 16) The estate was enlarged by small purchases near Freeland at Blowens and Little Blenheim in 1789. (fn. 17) At inclosure in 1802 the duke held the Abbey Farm site (5 ½ a.) and two small closes on the WitneyWoodstock road acquired from Robert Langford in 1785; (fn. 18) for his open-field land and tithes he was awarded c. 660 a., of which 21 a. was for the Blowens property and 215 a. for the tithes. The rest was awarded for glebe, which the Farm was thought to have been. (fn. 19) The Marlborough estate was slightly enlarged in the 19th century, notably by more land in the Blowens area in 1845. (fn. 20) In the early 1920s, when Abbey farm was sold to William Hoskins, it comprised 462 a. of the estate. (fn. 21)
For much of the 19th century the farm was leased to the Druces, but the farmhouse was not apparently occupied by them until the 1850s, when Samuel (d. 1874) moved there; his widow Mary continued there until the 1890s. (fn. 22) Early 19th-century maps show an L-shaped house, and the eastern and part of the southern ranges, both probably late 18th-century, survive at the eastern end of an enlarged and remodelled house of the mid 19th century, perhaps rebuilt after a fire in 1854. (fn. 23) Some 16th- and 17th-century timbers are re-used in the eastern service range. Outbuildings, including the former abbey barn, were rebuilt in the 19th century. (fn. 24)
An estate called Twelve Acre farm was sold in 1654 by Henry Pierrepont, earl of Kingston, and Charlotte, countess of Derby, to Stephen Brice of Witney Park. (fn. 25) The land was former manorial demesne, emerging as a separate unit in the later Middle Ages. (fn. 23) In the 16th century it was let by the lords of the manor, the lessees including the Seacoles of South Leigh and the Gunne family. There had been farm buildings there from the later Middle Ages, and by the later 16th century there were houses. (fn. 27) Before 1615 Twelve Acre was taken in hand by the lord, Sir Edward Stanley, (fn. 28) but in 1650, while still counted as part of the 'demesnes', was let to several tenants. When sold to Brice in 1654 it comprised 5 'grounds' (c. 170 a.), and two detached former demesne meadows, Bitterall and Wersey. (fn. 29) In 1655 Martha Brice and Lancelot Grainger of Witney bought from Isaac Swift a further 65 a. of former demesne called the Tiffens, adjoining Twelve Acre farm on the north. (fn. 30) Although no reference was made to buildings at Twelve Acre in deeds and surveys of the 1650s the Brices evidently had a substantial house near the centre of the farm in 1677. (fn. 31)
The estate passed to Stephen Brice, whose son Henry sold it in 1692 to William Gibbons. By will proved 1728 Gibbons left the farm to his wife Elizabeth, who in 1737 granted it to her grand-nephew Samuel Jones of Ramsbury (Wilts.). By will proved 1750 Jones left it in trust for various relations, and in 1781 the trustees sold it to James Duberley, (fn. 32) who shortly afterwards acquired Eynsham manor. Duberley's trustees sold Twelve Acre farm in 1800 to James Burr of Ditchley and Dr. Robert Bourne: the estate then comprised the farmhouse and c. 280 a. of closes. (fn. 33) From the earlier 18th century the farm was in the hands of tenants, the Arnatts, the Wilsdens (by the early 1780s), followed in the 19th century by the Colletts (by 1818 until at least 1831), and the Druces. (fn. 34)
In 1838 the Revd. Robert Burr Bourne bought from James Preston the adjacent Newfield farm, which at inclosure had comprised a farmhouse in Acre End Street and 126 a. south and east of Twelve Acre farm. (fn. 35) When settled in 1857 on Bourne's son Robert the estate, further enlarged, comprised Twelve Acre, Newfield, and Mill Moors farms (the last near Eynsham mill). In 1879 Twelve Acre farm (by then 462 a. including Newfield) was sold to John Deane of Newington, passing in the 1920s to the present owners, the Blakes, through marriage. (fn. 36)
Little remains of the late 16th- or early 17th-century house at Twelve Acre, described as a pretty place in 1604, (fn. 37) apart from a small range at the centre of the south front incorporating some re-used early stonework. The house was extended westwards in the later 18th century, and in the 19th was doubled in depth and enlarged on the east. The 19th-century work probably dates from shortly after 1871, when reference was made to a proposed new house at Twelve Acre. (fn. 38)
In 1671 charity funds from St. Giles's parish, Oxford, were invested in two closes in the north of the parish called Culworth or Chaworth (later Collets) and French croft or Shepherd's close, bought from Robert Butler and his son Robert. (fn. 39) Both had been acquired from the manor before 1662, when they were sold to the Butlers by Oliver, son of John and Elizabeth Green. (fn. 40) At inclosure the St. Giles's estate comprised c. 32 a. (fn. 41) In 1931 it was absorbed into City farm. (fn. 42)
In 1672 Merton College, Oxford, bought land in Eynsham from Thomas Keyleway, (fn. 43) who had acquired part of the estates held by the Greens in 1650. (fn. 44) The Merton estate comprised 95 field acres, much of it meadow in Oathurst, Trumpet mead, and the inclosed Turner's, the rest scattered closes. Local farmers were lessees, notably the Saywells in the later 17th century and the Lords in the late 18th century and early 19th. (fn. 45a) At inclosure the college was awarded its existing holdings, except for reduced meadow in Oathurst to compensate for exonerated tithes, a total of 95 a. (fn. 46a) In 1857 the college bought a farmhouse on the south side of Acre End Street, formerly John Blagrove's, and c. 1898 replaced it with the surviving large stone house, Merton Farm. (fn. 47a) Most of the estate, including the farmhouse, was sold off in 1978-9. (fn. 48a)
From the 1740s Edward Ryves, town clerk of Woodstock and steward of Newland manor, (fn. 49a) built up a large estate at Eynsham, mostly by foreclosing on mortgages. His first major acquisition was from the Knapps, who were in financial difficulties from at least 1722 when John Knapp died. (fn. 50a) In 1745 and 1747 (fn. 51a) Ryves bought from Knapp's widow Mary and son John a house, later the Shrubbery, (fn. 52a) 120 a. of arable, and numerous pasture closes. Much may be identified as an estate held of the manor in 1650 by Thomas King, and earlier by the Martin family, (fn. 53a) but some Knapp possessions such as Lower Park, suggest that the Jordans had sold off demesne which had been in hand in 1650, notably the former abbey site. (fn. 54a) In 1748 (fn. 55a) Ryves acquired an estate from Jacob Bobart of New Woodstock who had bought it a year earlier from the Jordans; it was based on a newly built house, the later Wintles Farm on Mill Street, (fn. 56a) and comprised 100 a. of arable and much meadow and pasture, including Ambury close (88 a.). The estate was partly that held on lease in 1650 by Mr. Hampshire and Mrs. Grainger; earlier it seems to have comprised two separate tenements, once called Ambury Hold and Gilbert's Hold. (fn. 57a) Of later acquisitions by Ryves the largest was a purchase in 1751 from John Knapp of an estate probably based on the later Newland Lodge. (fn. 58a)
By 1762 Ryves held c. 600 a. in Eynsham, including 114 a. of former demesne. (fn. 59a) At his death in 1767 the estate passed to his daughter Elizabeth, wife of the Revd. Benjamin Holloway of Woodstock, with reversion to his grandson Benjamin. (fn. 60a) Elizabeth died in 1769 and Benjamin in 1796. (fn. 61a) At inclosure in 1802 the Holloway trustees were awarded 511 a. for their open-field land, making their total holding in Eynsham 635 a. (fn. 62a) In 1803 the trustees sold 143 a. near Eynsham Hall to the Revd. John Robinson, to form the core of Little Green farm, (fn. 63a) and in 1812 partitioned the rest between Benjamin Holloway's three children, Benjamin, Edward Vere, and Elizabeth, wife of the Revd. John Stanton. (fn. 64a) Benjamin's share, the Mill Street house and 168 a., was let to the Day family from at least the 1830s; (fn. 65a) in 1845 the house and 85 a. were sold by his executors to the Revd. Robert Wintle and became the core of Wintles farm, sold by the Misses Wintle to Oxfordshire County Council in 1920. The council sold the farmhouse in Mill Street in 1955. (fn. 66a) In 1812 Edward Vere Holloway received the house now the Shrubbery and 212 a., including much of the Parks and adjacent meadows, and the large Holloway inclosure allotment later Ambury Close farm; he lived in the house but sold off much of the land. (fn. 67a) The Stanton family received the Newland Street house and 196 a., but most was sold soon afterwards; (fn. 68a) by 1836 Newland Lodge was owned by Samuel Druce (d. 1860). (fn. 69a)