Wilcote: Manor

Pages 299-300

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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In 1086 WILCOTE, assessed at 1 hide, formed part of the extensive Oxfordshire holdings of Odo, bishop of Bayeux. (fn. 4) On Odo's fall Wilcote, among other manors, was granted c. 1100 to Manasser Arsic, forming part of his barony of Cogges. The overlordship of Wilcote followed the barony's descent until the latter's division in the 13th century, after which it passed with the de Grey moiety of Cogges. (fn. 5) In 1359, however, Wilcote passed on the death of John, 1st Lord Grey, to his younger son Robert, on whose death without issue in 1367 it seems to have escheated to the Crown despite the claims of Robert's elder brother John, 2nd Lord Grey. (fn. 6) Martin Lacy was recorded as overlord in 1455, and William Brewer in 1465 and 1466, (fn. 7) presumably by Crown grant, but no other reference to the overlordship has been found.

Wilcote, like Cogges, was held of Odo in 1086 by Wadard. (fn. 8) No reference to his successors has been found before 1215, when the king ordered the sheriff to give possession of the manor to Reynold of Drumar during pleasure; the former tenant was said to be Adam Butler (pincerna). (fn. 9) Adam, however, was still in possession in 1220, but was dead by 1224, when his widow Joan claimed 1 hide of land in Wilcote as her marriage portion. (fn. 10) In 1225-6 Joan, also called Joan of Arsic, (fn. 11) claimed half Wilcote manor, presumably the same 1 hide, against Luke de Keynes and his wife Emma, who said that Adam, Emma's father, had given it to them on marriage. Adam's son and heir William had evidently died by 1236 when William Avenel claimed 1 hide in Wilcote against Joan and her then husband William de Stanes and another against Hugh Butler, (fn. 12) presumably a younger son of Adam. Avenel was unsuccessful, for in 1248 Joan granted all her right in Wilcote to Hugh. (fn. 13) He was succeeded c. 1262 by Thomas Butler, perhaps his son. Thomas still held Wilcote in 1277, (fn. 14) but by 1279 it had passed to his son Robert. (fn. 15) He or another Robert Butler, presumably his son, held the estate in 1316 (fn. 16) but was bought out in 1338 by the overlord, John, 1st Lord Grey. (fn. 17) The manor seems subsequently to have come into the hands of John London and his wife Joan, who also held land at Charlbury, and who in 1372 sold Wilcote to William Wykeham, bishop of Winchester. (fn. 18) During the 1380s the manor was held by the bishop's foundation of New College, Oxford, but in 1392 William settled Wilcote on Thomas Perrott, later Wykeham, son of his niece Alice. (fn. 19) The estate passed between 1410 and 1421 to Thomas's mother-in-law Elizabeth, widow of Sir William Wilcotes. (fn. 20) She retained possession until 1433 (fn. 21) and possibly later, but at her death in 1445 no mention was made of Wilcote among her lands. (fn. 22) The manor was acquired by the Lovel family and was held by William, Lord Lovel (d. 1455), by his son John (d. 1465), and by John's son Francis, whose lands were forfeit by attainder in 1485. (fn. 23) Wilcote seems to have been among the Oxfordshire estates granted by the Crown in 1485 to Jasper Tudor (d. 1495), duke of Bedford, (fn. 24) and in 1514 to Thomas Howard (d. 1524), duke of Norfolk. (fn. 25) Thomas was succeeded by his son Thomas, who apparently in 1540 sold Wilcote back to the king. (fn. 26) In 1543 Wilcote was bought by Sir Thomas Pope, (fn. 27) in whose family it remained thereafter. (fn. 28)

By 1518 the manor was being leased from the duke of Norfolk by Thomas Ridley of North Leigh. (fn. 29) Leasing became the norm, notably by the Power (Poure) family. Stephen Power (d. 1545), younger son of John Power of Bletchingdon, acquired a lease of the manor in 1539, (fn. 30) and was succeeded by his son Richard (d. 1593) and grandson Thomas (d. 1597). Richard's window Anne (d. 1608) (fn. 31) sublet the manor in 1597 and in 1601, reserving living accommodation in the manor house. She sold the lease in 1602 to Richard Greene, and in 1609 it was resold by Sir William Greene of Great Milton to Rice Jones of Asthall. Thomas Chamberlain bought it in 1615, but no further leaseholders have been traced. (fn. 32)

Wilcote formed part of the settlement made by Thomas Pope, earl of Downe, on his daughter Elizabeth at her marriage in 1660 to Sir Francis Lee of Ditchley. (fn. 33) It was bought in 1667 by John Cary (d. 1702), who was succeeded by his son the Revd. Francis Cary (d. 1711). The estate, which was entailed, passed not to Francis's daughter Jane but to his nephew Richard Cary (d. 1760). (fn. 34) In default of male heirs it descended to Richard's sister Elizabeth (d. 1795), window of George Wellington, who was succeeded by her son James (d. 1816), who assumed the surname Cary. (fn. 35) James's heir was his daughter Mary, wife of the Revd. Richard Pickering, and on her death in 1866 Wilcote passed to her nephew Leonard Pickering (d. 1880), who was succeeded by his niece Eliza Pickering (d. 1918). (fn. 36) Eliza was succeeded by Leonard Pickering (d. 1931), and he by his nephew Francis, who sold the manor in 1936 to Oliver Stephens of Warminster (Wilts.). John Collier of Gray's Inn, London, bought the manor in 1937, (fn. 37) and sold it in the same year to Antony Norman, who was succeeded in 1972 by his nephew Sir Mark Norman, who remained the owner in 1987. The landed estate was divided in 1937, Wilcote Grange and c. 200 a. being bought by Eric Boston; most of that land was sold in the 1970s to the Hon. C.E. Cecil of Wilcote House in North Leigh. (fn. 38)

Wilcote Manor stands towards the eastern edge of the parish, presumably on the site of the medieval manor house, which was known by the 15th century as Butler's Court, (fn. 39) after the family that held the manor in the 13th and 14th centuries. Called Wilcote Grove between the 1840s and 1870, (fn. 40) it has since been known as Wilcote Manor. Repairs to the 'room at the end of the hall' were recorded in 1390-1, (fn. 41) and in 1597 and 1601 there were two rooms, one over the other, at the lower end of the hall, and a 'great cockloft'. (fn. 42) In 1987 the oldest part of the house was the south wing, a substantial parlour block, originally with two rooms on each floor, of the early 17th century; a newel stair remained at the side of the stack. The main range, perhaps incorporating the medieval house, was rebuilt later in the 17th century, and was extended in the early 19th over part of a range of early 18th-century outbuildings. In 1938 the house was virtually derelict. In that year the east front was buttressed, the house extensively restored, and the gardens laid out. (fn. 43) Some 18th-century panelling in the house was used as a model for the decoration of the principal rooms.


  • 4. V.C.H. Oxon. i. 405.
  • 5. Above, Cogges, Manor.
  • 6. Cal. Inq. p.m. xii, p. 118.
  • 7. P.R.O., C 139/158, no. 28; C 139/488, no. 27; C 139/497, no. 20; Lib. de Antiq. Legibus (Camd. Soc. [1st ser.], xxxiv), p. ccxxix.
  • 8. V.C.H. Oxon. i. 405.
  • 9. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), 235.
  • 10. Ex. e Rot. Fin. (Rec. Com.), 120.
  • 11. Not Joan, dau. of Rob. Arsic (d. 1230), who succeeded her father to the overlordship of Cogges and Wilcote: Sanders, Eng. Baronies, 36-7.
  • 12. Cur. Reg. R. xii. pp. 109, 243, 380-1; xvi, p. 152; Close R. 1234-7, 336, 347, 517.
  • 13. Oxon. Fines, p. 152.
  • 14. Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, p. 166.
  • 15. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 868.
  • 16. Feud. Aids, iv. 163.
  • 17. P.R.O., CP 25(1)/190/18, no. 20; Cal. Inq. p.m. xii, p. 118.
  • 18. Ibid. CP 25(1)/190/22, no. 46; CP 40/499, m. 659; Hants R.O., 159454, m. 36d.; V.C.H. Oxon. x. 136.
  • 19. New Coll. Arch., 7330, 7333-4, 7336; P.R.O., CP 25(1)/19 ½4, no. 24; B.L. Add. Roll 41, 642; D.N.B.
  • 20. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. c 245, ff. 101, 122; ibid. MS. d.d. All Souls Coll. c 269; Cal. Close, 1422-9, 256. For the Wilcotes fam. see above, N. Leigh, Manor and other estates; D. Fiennes, Oxon. Fam. Hist. ii (1), 8-10.
  • 21. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. c 245, f. 130.
  • 22. P.R.O., C 139/122, no. 33.
  • 23. Ibid. C 139/158, no. 28; C 139/488, no. 27; C 139/497, no. 20.
  • 24. Lincs. R.O., Reg. xxii, f. 107; above, Cogges, Manor.
  • 25. P.R.O., C 104/153, loose deed of Feb. 1518; L. & P. Hen. VIII, i (1), p. 373.
  • 26. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xv, p. 218.
  • 27. Ibid. xviii (1), p. 526; xx (1), p. 216; P.R.O., C 104/153, loose note re leases of 1540s.
  • 28. Above, Cogges, Manor.
  • 29. P.R.O., C 104/153, loose deed of Feb. 1518.
  • 30. Ibid., undated loose pps.; Oxon. Visit. 211.
  • 31. O.R.O., MS. Wills Oxon. 50/1/72; ibid. 187, f. 345; ibid. 50/3/15.
  • 32. P.R.O., C 104/153.
  • 33. O.R.O., Jo. II/1.
  • 34. P.R.O., C 104/109/1, indenture of June, 1671; ibid. CP 25(2)/1051/11 Geo. I, Trin. no. 3; ibid. PROB 1 ¼65, ff. 301-304v.; PROB 11/525 (P.C.C. 24 Barnes).
  • 35. O.R.O., transcript of Spelsbury par. reg.; Bodl. MS. d.d. Fitt c 4, Cary fam. pedigree.
  • 36. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 2072, letter of Feb. 1904; dates on ch. monuments.
  • 37. St. James's ch., Ramsden, Wilcote par. rec., burial reg. 13 Dec. 1931; ibid. letters of 30 Oct. 1936, 19 Feb. 1937; O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 2072, letters of 1930, 1937.
  • 38. Inf. from Sir Mark Norman.
  • 39. Cal. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Com.), iv. 325, 334.
  • 40. e.g. Oxf. Fnl. 17 June, 1848; 18 Apr. 1868; Return of Owners of Land in Oxon. [C. 1097], H.C. (1874), lxxii (2).
  • 41. New Coll. Arch. 9156.
  • 42. P.R.O., C 104/153.
  • 43. Inf. from Sir Mark Norman.