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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Park to 1705
A park around the king's houses may have been defined before 1086 when woodland attached to the nearby royal manor of Wootton was said to be in the king's enclosure (in defensione regis). (fn. 30) Chroniclers asserted that Henry I built the first park wall c. 1110, and within its circuit of 7 miles kept beasts of the chase and exotic animals, including a porcupine. (fn. 31) Woodstock remained a royal deer park until granted to John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, in 1705. (fn. 32)
In the 13th century (fn. 33) the park was usually administered with Woodstock manor, whose keepers or bailiffs accounted directly in the Exchequer. (fn. 34) In the 1240s they were allowed £6 13s. 4d. for keeping the park. (fn. 35) By the later 13th century minor officers, such as a janitor for the town gate and a gardener, were paid 2d. a day. (fn. 36) When the manor and park began to be let at farm in the 14th century a full range of park offices developed, with wages which remained fixed for centuries and became known as'patent fees'. (fn. 37) Even minor offices were sometimes the subject of direct Crown grants, as in 1331 when a keeper of the park meadows was appointed, and in 1335 a keeper of the foreign, presumably town, gate. (fn. 38)
The principal officer, beneath the farmer and the steward or lieutenant of the manor, (fn. 39) was the comptroller of works (contrarotulator) and surveyor, whose duties included preparing a counter-roll of accounts to accompany the farmer's account in the Exchequer. The office, established by the later 14th century, carried a wage of only 1 ½d a day and was probably created in 1334 when John of Hanborough, probably the first steward, was authorised to pay that wage to a man looking after the manor house. (fn. 40) The comptroller's original responsibility for works carried out on the king's houses and park seems to have widened: by 1496 he was also 'supervisor of the foresters, park keepers, and officers, and woods' in the manor and park, entitled to valuable common and fuel rights, and to lodgings in the manor house. (fn. 41) By the early 14th century there were two parkers, (fn. 42) and sometimes the two posts were held together, a single parker receiving 3d. a day for the park and 3d. for the 'other parks' within the manor. (fn. 43) Some offices, such as that of verderer of the park recorded in 1398 and gamekeeper recorded in 1442, (fn. 44) seem not to have become permanent.
The amalgamation of minor offices in the hands of comptrollers became common. In 1399 John Wyatt was comptroller, gardener, and keeper of meadows, and in 1461 Richard Croft acquired those offices and both parkerships. (fn. 45) In 1476 a new post of keeper of the 'outwoods' was created, (fn. 46) and in 1479 a keeper was appointed for a short-lived 'new forest' created between Woodstock Park and Charlbury. (fn. 47) The rangership of the new forest continued to be granted into the 17th century. (fn. 48) In 1486 Edmund Hampden, steward of the manor, was also comptroller, parker, and nominal holder of most other park offices; (fn. 49) his successors as steward in the 16th century also held most offices except that of comptroller. (fn. 50) From the 1570s the steward Sir Henry Lee's active interest in the park, where he sometimes resided, brought him into conflict with the comptroller, George Whitton. (fn. 51) The comptrollership, held by Robert Whitehill from 1496, and passing to Owen Whitton in 1523 and George Whitton in 1551, remained in the Whitton family until surrendered to the Crown in 1705. (fn. 52) The later Whittons, however, seem to have been much less dominant figures, largely subservient to other park officers.
Sir Henry Lee's long period of control (from the 1570s until his death in 1611) seems to have resulted in administrative changes in the park. From 1604 the farmer of the manor was allowed £40 a year to pay keepers, of whom there were four in 1649. (fn. 53) Although there had long been keepers in outlying lodges, presumably appointed by stewards and parkers, the office seems to have acquired a new status, keeperships changing hands in the early 17th century for as much as £350; in 1649 Nicholas Whitton, comptroller, also held a keeper's place. (fn. 54)
New posts emerged in the earlier 17th century, for in 1649 Sir Gerard Fleetwood (d. 1658) claimed the keepership of the manor house and wardrobe by grant of Philip Herbert, earl of Montgomery, farmer and steward. He was made gamekeeper within the manor and 10 miles around it by Crown grant in 1625, and seems to have been in residence there, probably at the principal lodge, until succeeded in 1637 by his kinsman Sir William Fleetwood, (fn. 55) who in 1649 claimed under the earl of Pembroke the office of ranger. He held extensive common and fuel rights, and until the Civil War occupied the principal lodge and surrounding closes. (fn. 56) By then the ranger was clearly the chief park officer, and after the Restoration it was Sir William Fleetwood, not the farmer and steward of the manor, who accounted for extensions made to the park. (fn. 57) On Fleetwood's death in 1674 the rangership was granted directly by the Crown, although the recipient, John Wilmot, earl of Rochester, was made answerable to the farmer and steward. (fn. 58) Despite uncertainty over the post in 1675 Rochester retained it until his death in 1680, when it passed to the earl and countess of Lichfield, holders of the reversion since 1675 and already farmers and stewards. In 1705 the three offices were held by Benedict Leonard Calvert, son-in-law of the Lichfields. (fn. 59)
The park wall attributed to Henry I was repaired in 1164-5, and probably then, as in the 13th century, was largely of stone. (fn. 60) In the 13th century levies for its upkeep were raised from neighbouring parishes, and landowners were encouraged to protect their crops by improving the walls. (fn. 61) The 12th-century park was almost certainly confined to the west side of the river Glyme. (fn. 62) The later park east of the Glyme, known in the Middle Ages as Hensgrove and now as Lower Park, was taken out of Hensington (in Bladon parish) by an exchange with the Templars, perhaps in the later 12th century when New Woodstock was laid out. (fn. 63) In 1256 men were presented for breaking into the king's park of Bladon; Bladon gate, probably then, as later, in Hensgrove, was mentioned in 1260, and in 1276 stone was being dug for the park walls 'towards' Bladon and an unidentified hoarstone. (fn. 64) Hensgrove was certainly in the king's hands by then, (fn. 65) although its separate identity continued to be observed: a keeper of outwoods appointed in Edward IV's reign controlled the royal woods outside the king's park of Woodstock and Hensgrove, and in the late 16th century a royal officer was allowed wood out of the park or out of Hensgrove. (fn. 66) There may have been another accession to the park from Hensington in the early 14th century, but the evidence is from a much later plea. (fn. 67)
On the west side of the Glyme the early park was smaller than that mapped in the early 18th century, (fn. 68) but recorded extensions to it are few and relatively minor. In 1576 Sir Henry Lee was empowered to enlarge an area of park known as the Straights 'for the keeping of red deer' by enclosing adjacent grounds and woods belonging to Woodstock manor. (fn. 69) The Straights or Straits may be identified as the part of the present High Park around High Lodge; (fn. 70) Bladon wood and Heynes close, which Lee then imparked by building a stone wall over 1 ½ mile long, (fn. 71) probably lay further south near Spring Lock gate, where the straight sections of the Bladon parish boundary, crossing the park between Long Acre and the Glyme, (fn. 72) may indicate the limits of Lee's annexation. Lee's new enclosure was called Queen's Park, (fn. 73) a name sometimes applied in the 17th century to the whole of the later High Park: thus in 1629 a keeper referred to his lodge in 'Queen Park alias the Straits', but in 1649 it was remembered that 'Queen's wood within the Straits' was, as a new extension, the only area of park exempt from tithes payable to the successors of Godstow abbey. (fn. 74) The wall built by Lee in 1576 may not have included the southern section along the Bladon boundary, or there may have been a further undeclared realignment of the boundary, for some 30 years later he built a new stone wall, c. 800yd. long, from the Glyme near Bladon gate (at that time some way north-west of the present gate) to the postern gate in Queen's Park, (fn. 75) probably the gate 'next Bladon' in Queen's Park mentioned in 1595. (fn. 76)
The name New Park (fn. 77) was applied in the early 16th century to a wooded area lying near the Straights, abutting the park meadows and near a Cheyne gate; (fn. 78) until blocked in the mid 16th century that gate was used by the tenants of Combe and Hanborough on their way to do service in the meadows. (fn. 79) Since the park meadows were in the central valley of the park, New Park may have been an internal division rather than an extension of the medieval park.
In the 1660s the western park boundary was altered when c. 35 a. of furze called Combe leys were bought by royal officers as a deer covert and enclosed with a stone wall. (fn. 80) In 1706 it was recorded, perhaps mistakenly, that 60 a. of Combe had been annexed. (fn. 81) The new enclosure, shown on early 18th-century maps as a rectangular plantation, (fn. 82) occupied the plateau between High Lodge and the present Combe gate (fn. 83) and required a wall over 1,100 yd. long, even though two sides were the earlier park walls. (fn. 84) The internal walls were removed in 1727 and Combe leys 'laid all open together' with the park. (fn. 85) The enclosure was distinct from the rectangular embanked New Park, north of Combe gate, (fn. 86) which was clearly part of Old Assart furlong in Combe until imparked c. 1780. (fn. 87) At the east end of Combe green c. 17 a. near Combe leys were imparked during the 18th century, but were still regarded as part of Combe parish in 1778. (fn. 88) The only other major enlargement was at the inclosure of Bladon in 1767, when the area called the Lince in the south-west and strips of land on both sides of the river Glyme north of Bladon village were imparked, leaving the parish boundary within the park. (fn. 89)
Until the 17th century or early 18th the northern park (later Great Park) was called High Park. (fn. 90) Except for the changes near Combe no extensions to it are known, but the contrast between its bare landscape and the well preserved ancient woodland of the later High Park, its bold protrusion into Wootton parish north of Akeman Street, and a 19th-century allegation that Akeman Street within the park was perambulated as a boundary by Wootton parishioners (fn. 91) have all been interpreted as signs of a northward enlargement of Henry I's park; indeed Sir Henry Lee's extension of 1576 was long thought to have been in that area. (fn. 92) Akeman Street, however, was not a boundary for the part of Wootton parish east of the park, containing Old Woodstock, and within the park the preConquest royal estate of Wootton probably extended at least to the site of the king's hunting lodge. Thus the whole northern park, not merely the section north of Akeman Street, may have been taken out of Wootton parish, and the lack of evidence, in an area well documented from the 12th century, suggests that the imparkment was very early. In a perambulation of Wychwood in 1298 the park wall was reached and followed to the Glyme after passing between Gunnildegrove and Wootton's 'old field', both of which lay well to the north of Akeman Street. (fn. 93) In 1478-9 a new lodge at Callow hill (in Stonesfield parish) was said to be 'in the new forest next to the park', (fn. 94) an odd description if the park boundary lay much to the south of its present line. By the early 16th century the park extended north of Akeman Street since it included Gorrel gate and Gorrel Lodge, the latter (on the site of the present North Lodge) probably established by the 14th century. (fn. 95) The alleged perambulation of Akeman Street by Wootton parishioners probably represents a struggle for new rights in the park rather than a memory of a boundary so long redundant.
A possible medieval park boundary visible on air photographs of the north-west quarter of the park is more likely to have been a ditch dividing farmland from the 18th-century perimeter plantations, (fn. 96) and an area of possibly ancient ridge and furrow near the Column of Victory (fn. 97) lies so close to the site of the king's houses that it was probably well within the early park. The 7 miles of wall referred to by the 15th-century chronicler John Rous (fn. 98) may be exaggerated, but the available evidence suggests that Henry I's park included most of the present northern park and much of the ancient woodland of High Park.
Many references to park walls relate to internal divisions of the park, particularly those built to exclude deer from the central meadows: in 1400, for example, c. ¾ mile of new fencing was put up round the meadows, and in 1577-8 Sir Henry Lee felled 40 oaks for fencing. (fn. 99) Hensgrove was probably separately enclosed in the Middle Ages, and by the 16th century there were walls, fences, or hedges around New Park, the Straights, and Little Park, an enclosure near the king's houses which comprised some of the upper meadows and perhaps the higher ground towards the town. (fn. 1) In the 16th century the perimeter walls and some internal walls were of stone, 8 ft. high, but repeated expenditure on capping and on 'bushing' gaps suggests that their condition was poor; (fn. 2) from the later 16th century a mason was permanently employed (fn. 3) but in the early 17th century much internal fencing was decayed. (fn. 4) Sir Henry Lee's recommendation that stone should be used in order to save the park's timber seems to have been followed then and later. (fn. 5)
A major reconstruction of internal walls, begun in 1621, included the stretch (c. 1 ½ mile) between Hensgrove and the meadows, (fn. 6) and in 1633-5 large sums were spent on an ambitious scheme to merge Queen's Park (i.e. probably the whole of the present High Park), Hensgrove, and the intervening meadowland into a single park for red deer, surrounded by a high stone wall. (fn. 7) Civil War fortifications, probably restricted to the area close to the manor house, (fn. 8) have left no certain trace. In the 1660s, besides the construction of the Combe leys enclosure, much work was done on the meadow walls, which were considered too low. (fn. 9) Early 18th- century maps depict stone walls flanking the central valley and another crossing the park from Old Woodstock to Combe leys; (fn. 10) the latter was taken down with the Combe leys enclosure in 1727. (fn. 11)
The rebuilding of the perimeter walls in the 1720s and later (fn. 12) has left no clearly identifiable stretch of earlier wall. The medieval walls were presumably lined on the inside with a deep ditch to prevent deer escaping, but even in the southern park, where the precise line of the early wall was marked by the Bladon parish boundary, there are few traces of earthworks. (fn. 13) The deep ditch around New Park, claimed as a medieval park boundary, (fn. 14) and another ditch south of Combe gate are in areas outside the park before the 17th century. (fn. 15)
The principal gate was that from the town, rebuilt in 1260 (fn. 16) but presumably dating from the town's foundation. In the 16th century, when it was called the great gate and the park gate, (fn. 17) it included a chamber over the gateway; beside it was a janitor's house and a stable. (fn. 18) The janitor's house, recorded from the 13th century and still occupied in 1649, (fn. 19) may have been either the building which, in the early 18th century, projected into the park from the west end of Chaucer's House or the small house then standing south of the gate. (fn. 20) Both were probably removed when the park gate was demolished and the Triumphal Arch built in 1723, but a new court house was built on the site of the small house. (fn. 21) In the 13th century a serjeanty of guarding the Wood gate of Woodstock manor was attached to a house and land in Hanborough. (fn. 22) Gates mentioned in the early 16th century (fn. 23) included on the south Bladon gate, on the north-west Gorrel gate, rebuilt in 1565-6, (fn. 24) on the west Cheyne gate, probably named from the mid 14th-century comptroller, Roger Cheyne, (fn. 25) and on the east, on the site of Old Woodstock stile, (fn. 26) Podde or Podge gate, presumably named from the 13th-century Woodstock family of Pod. (fn. 27) A Combe gate mentioned in the later 16th century (fn. 28) perhaps replaced Cheyne gate, blocked in the 1550s; (fn. 29) it was not on the site of the present Combe gate, opened c. 1780, (fn. 30a) but stood close to High Lodge in a section of wall presumably demolished when part of Combe was annexed in the 18th century. (fn. 31a) Other 16th-century gates, (fn. 32a) probably on internal walls, included Queen Pool gate and gates into Hensgrove, the Straights, and Rookswood (an enclosure south of the park gate). (fn. 33a) Wootton gate was mentioned in the early 17th century. (fn. 34a)
The early park was primarily a hunting reserve and a source of venison for the royal household. (fn. 35a) Deer leaps were built regularly in the Middle Ages, and in the 16th and 17th centuries much was spent on the provision of wooden or stone 'standings' from which deer were shot. (fn. 36a) Salted venison from the park was transported great distances to stock the royal larders, (fn. 37a) gifts of venison were made to individuals and to religious houses, and live deer were taken to stock other parks. (fn. 38a) Poaching was a recurrent problem; the scholars of Oxford university were banned from the park in 1413 and in the early 17th century. (fn. 39a) Royal enthusiasm for red deer inspired enlargements of the park in the late 16th century and 17th, and Sir Henry Lee was apparently expected to maintain a herd of between 2,000 and 3,000. (fn. 40a) In a petition of c. 1640 against a short-lived new bailiwick of Woodstock, which extended forest laws into the neighbouring demesne towns, Lee was blamed for introducing the red deer which were overrunning the countryside. (fn. 41a) In 1649 there were said to be 1,000 deer in the park. (fn. 42a) Although the later Stuarts were not interested in hunting, Woodstock was maintained primarily as a deer park: more 'standings' were built, venison was regularly presented to local landowners, and 'fee bucks' were claimed by park officers. (fn. 43a)
Besides deer and the menagerie of Henry I the early park also contained an eyrie of falcons, recorded in 1250, and falcons were sent to Woodstock in 1357. (fn. 44a) Part of the royal stud was at Woodstock until 1360, when all the horses there were sold. (fn. 45a) In the mid 13th century the royal stable and shoeing forge were close to the town gate, (fn. 46a) and in 1295-6 an embanked stockade seems to have been built nearby at Rookswood for penning the royal stallion. (fn. 47a) Wild boar were kept in the park in the mid 14th century, (fn. 48a) and in the 16th century partridge and hare provided sport. (fn. 49a)
Pasture rights for pigs may have survived from before imparkment, and pannage was accounted for in the 13th century. There were 164 pigs in 1254, probably over 600 in 1279, and over 300 in 1306-7. (fn. 50a) In 1240 the bailiff was ordered to buy oxen for the park; cattle from the royal demesne in surrounding villages were pastured there, and in 1254 there were 70 oxen and 12 cows, mostly belonging to John of Hanborough, farmer of the park. (fn. 51a) Payments for agistment were rarely recorded, and in the 1470s the lack of revenue from that source was blamed on the multitude of royal animals in the park. (fn. 52a) By then park officers had acquired rights to graze cattle and horses: the Chamberlains, keepers in the 16th century, held commons for 70 cattle and 40-50 horses, (fn. 53a) and overstocking by officers was one of many points of conflict over the management of the park in the 16th century. (fn. 54a) Officers retained various common rights in the mid 17th century, but grazing was also let to others and in 1681 agistments yielded £100 at the rate of £ 2 a year for a horse and £1 for cattle. (fn. 55a)
In the 13th century there was a park dovecot, and pigeons, honey, and reeds were sold. (fn. 56a) There was a warren at Coneygarth hill near the king's houses in the 16th century, and a warren mentioned later may be that shown on early 18th-century maps near the present Home Lodge. (fn. 57a) In the 1570s the comptroller, George Whitton, laid out a hopyard near Rookswood. (fn. 58a)
The park stew mentioned in 1163 (fn. 59a) was regularly stocked and repaired. (fn. 60a) In the 1240s eels were sold in quantity; in 1241 the bailiff was ordered to buy 1,000 pike for stock, and bream were brought to Woodstock from other royal stews in 1256 and 1305. (fn. 61a) A garden fishpond was built in 1256, but the two main ponds, divided by a causeway and dam, (fn. 62a) were on the river Glyme probably in the area now occupied by the upper lake called Queen pool; the upper pond evidently stretched northwards towards the present Fishery Cottage, for its head was raised in 1334 when a short-lived mill there was demolished. (fn. 63a) The lower, or great stew, called King's pool in the 15th century, had been drained and turned into meadow by 1470. (fn. 64a) A 'forinsec fishery' mentioned in 1231 may have been the fishpond outside the park mentioned in 1279, (fn. 65a) probably the site of the later corporation meadows which were still called le Pool when granted to the borough in 1453 (fn. 66a) Queen pool, mentioned in the 16th century and later, seems to have been dammed by one of the two causeways (probably the upper one) which crossed the valley to the king's houses; (fn. 67a) the causeway incorporated a bridge, sometimes called Queen's bridge, and a weir called the roaring bays, and was entered at its eastern end by Queen Pool gate. (fn. 68a) Fishponds continued to be stocked in the later 17th century; one pond called Little Queen pool (fn. 69a) was presumably the small pool near Fishery Cottage called Queen pool on early 18th- century maps. By then the valley above both causeways seems to have been drained, but linked fishponds, not otherwise recorded, lay in a valley on the west side of the park. (fn. 70a) Fishing in the river within the park seems to have been farmed in the 13th century, and in the mid 16th century was held on lease by the farmer, Leonard Chamberlain. (fn. 71a)
The importance attached to providing winter fodder for the king's deer was reflected in early obligations placed upon neighbouring villages to harvest the park meadows and cut winter browse, and until the mid 13th century the crop of a meadow near Oxford castle seems to have been assigned to the park. (fn. 72a) Hay was bought for the deer in 1196 after floods in Oxford, but for much of the 13th century the park produced a surplus which was sold. (fn. 73a) Later, perhaps be- cause of increased stocking, supplementation was necessary: in 1378-9 the farmer bought 180 carts of extra hay, in 1437-8 the 'great winter' forced the purchase of hay and peas, and in other years there were untimely floods. (fn. 74a) In the severe winter of 1579 the Privy Council allowed Sir Henry Lee to buy fodder locally, provided that the poor were not harmed. (fn. 75a) By the early 17th century £40 for hay was allowed each year against the farm. (fn. 76a) After the Restoration hay was still bought in quantity, but John Cary, agent for the earl of Clarendon, improved the park meadows by building sluices to allow controlled flooding. (fn. 77a)
The park meadows, valued in 1254 at £6 13s. 4d., (fn. 78a) stretched along the Glyme valley from near Woodstock mill to the Bladon boundary; administered with them was Long Acre on the river Evenlode in the extreme north-west of Bladon parish. By the 16th century much of the valley between the king's houses and the town, formerly covered by the fishponds, was occupied by several Mill meads, Tennis Court mead, and, below the king's houses, Mare Moor mead; in the wide valley below Rosamund's well were the customary meadows of Stanton Harcourt and South Leigh, frequently grouped together as Rosamund's mead, and further south other customary meadows called Eight Acres and the 'customs' of Hanborough, Combe, and Bladon. (fn. 79a) In 1649-50 the park meadows were reckoned to be c. 150 a., although another estimate of c. 1644 reckoned that they required 201 man days' work, and were therefore 201 a., each yielding two loads of hay. (fn. 80a)
The lord of Stanton Harcourt's serjeanty in the park was recorded in the 13th century, but was probably created in the 12th. (fn. 81a) In 1551 his obligations included mowing, stacking, and carrying one of the royal meadows, for a single payment of 6d. or 2 gallons of ale. (fn. 82a) Sutton and South Leigh formed part of Stanton Harcourt manor until the early 17th century, and evidently the South Leigh tenants took responsibility for their own named meadow. After the division of the manor the lord of South Leigh urged his tenants to neglect the custom but in 1630 the obligations of Stanton Harcourt and South Leigh were confirmed; by then the services were usually commuted. (fn. 83a) By 1551 the tenants of Bladon, Combe, and Hanborough seem to have been responsible for mowing not only their named meadows but also Eight Acres, and each vill was paid 6d. or 2 gallons of ale; (fn. 84a) in the Middle Ages their customary meadows were called Law mead. In the 13th century the men of Bladon were expected to mow Long Acre but later it seems to have been worked by paid labourers. (fn. 85a) Tenants of all the demesne towns had to carry the hay from the park meadows to the barn near the king's houses, each carter in 1551 being paid 12d. a day and hay sufficient to fill the body of his cart. (fn. 86a)
The meadow services of Stanton Harcourt and the demesne towns were regularly performed for the 6d. fee until the late 16th century (fn. 87a) but large additional labour costs were paid: in 1403 lifting the park meadows required 274 man days, and Long Acre 122 days; carrying all the hay in 1441-2 required 40 man days. (fn. 88a) Total meadow costs rose from c. £ 6 10s. in the late 15th century to over £ 40 by the 1640s. (fn. 89a) By then the carrying service of the demesne towns had been commuted for £ 3 and the meadow services for smaller sums. (fn. 90a) Meadow costs remained at over £ 30 in the later 17th century. (fn. 91a) The first math of the royal meadows was devoted exclusively to the king's deer, in recognition of which the farmer was allowed £16 a year against the farm, reduced in the later 16th century to £15. (fn. 92a) After haymaking the farmer used or let the grazing, but Long Acre was commonable by Bladon and Hanborough men until Lady Day. (fn. 93a) By the 1570s some of the park meadows were let to the comptroller, George Whitton. (fn. 94a)
The winter fodder for deer was supplemented by ivy cut and, like the hay, dispersed around the park: in 1530-1 as many as 192 loads were carried. (fn. 95a) In the 13th century the tenants of Bladon and Combe were expected to cut ivy. (fn. 96a) A similar obligation on the lord of Stanton Harcourt (fn. 97a) survived in the 16th century. He was to find browsers (customarily two by the 17th century) (fn. 98a) whenever snow lay on the ground and the bailiff of Woodstock summoned them by horn at the gate of Stanton manor house; the browsers were given lodging and a billet the length of an axe helm each night, the summoning bailiff was given victuals, and the lord of Stanton a buck in summer and a doe in winter. (fn. 99a) The custom was commuted by the earlier 17th century, but 'fee bucks' were presented to the Harcourts at least until the 1720s, when Sarah, duchess of Marlborough, withheld them because of arrears of service; the bucks were still claimed in 1829. (fn. 1a) Browsing was also carried out by paid labourers: in 1491-2 browsers were paid 3d. a day for 212 man days. (fn. 2a) In the 1570s conflict arose over a practice of declaring browse days when, for 10s. a day, men could cut and carry browse wood. (fn. 3a)
The park's timber was used extensively for building and fencing, and in the early Middle Ages oaks were often granted to individuals and religious houses. Grants of fuel were also made, although even in the 13th century the park's woodland was conserved by obtaining fuel from elsewhere. (fn. 4a) There was a planned felling of trenchea, possibly rides, in the 1270s, but otherwise few hints of woodland management within the park, (fn. 5a) where deer presumably took priority. By the 14th century there was a great laund (lawn or clearing), probably in the northern park. (fn. 6a) In the 16th century timber continued to be taken for building and fuel: 30 oaks were felled to rebuild Woodstock mill in 1594-5 (fn. 7a) and many more were taken for fencing until Sir Henry Lee recommended the use of stone; in 1642 New Lodge was repaired with 25 trees deemed unfit for the navy. (fn. 8a) Frequent complaints that park officers were abusing their fuel rights suggest that the woodland was at risk: the rights were substantial, Sir Leonard Chamberlain claiming as many as 108 loads a year. (fn. 9a)
The 'outwoods', administered with the park from the later Middle Ages and let separately to the farmer by the 17th century, (fn. 10a) were coppiced. In the mid 16th century they comprised seven woods in neighbouring parishes (over 300 a.), reduced in 1576 when Bladon wood was brought into the park. The woods were enclosed for seven years after coppicing and were then commonable. (fn. 11a) Charcoal to supply the king's houses during a visit by Henry VIII was prepared in the coppices, and wood sales from coppices yielded over £100 in 1562-3; in 1582-3 coppice wood from 52 a. was sold after nine years' growth. (fn. 12a) The coppices, sold separately from the park during the Interregnum, were reunited later; sales of underwood from them continued (fn. 13a) and several were in good condition when granted with Woodstock manor to the duke of Marlborough. (fn. 14a)
By 1649-50 the park woodland was concentreated in the southern part, with trees worth over £500 in both the Straights and Hensgrove, whereas the northern park contained only £110 worth and was particularly denuded in the north; most of the timber was said to be suitable only for fuel, except for 2,500 trees (roughly two-thirds of the stock) marked for use by the navy. (fn. 15a) In 1655 the Admiralty commissioners were ordered to postpone sales of growing timber until the park's owner, Charles Fleetwood, Lord Deputy of Ireland, returned to make his case, and felling then may not have been extensive; (fn. 16a) in 1660 further despoliation was forbidden and felled timber impounded. (fn. 17a) The heavily wooded appearance of the southern park in the early 18th century (fn. 18a) suggests that the wholesale felling planned in 1649 was never carried out. Waste and felling were still causing concern in the 1670s (fn. 19a) but there was some small-scale replanting, including the creation of walnut and ash nurseries in the 1660s and the planting of standards in the 1670s; circular and triangular plantations in the northern park recorded in the early 18th century may date from the late 17th. (fn. 20a)
The division of the park into walks or ridings supervised by parkers or keepers in remote lodges began in the Middle Ages. In 1649-50 a suggested partition into four probably represented long-established subdivisions, each with a lodge. (fn. 21a) The northern park was divided by Gorrel road, running from Woodstock to Gorrel gate, into a north-east section of 558 a. and a south-west section of 583 a.; the former contained Gorrel Lodge on the site of the present North Lodge, and the latter New Lodge on the site of Park Farm. (fn. 22a) Probably the two northern divisions were the Gorrel ridings north and south mentioned in the early 16th century. (fn. 23a) The other divisions of 1649-50 were, in the south-east, Hensgrove (333 a.), which had long been separately walled, and, in the south-west, Straights walk (255 a.). Hensgrove Lodge stood south-west of the present kitchen gardens until demolished in the later 18th century; (fn. 24a) Straights Lodge was on the site of the present High Lodge. Walks named after individual keepers in the 16th and 17th centuries (fn. 25a) probably referred to the above divisions; New Lodge walk, mentioned in the 1580s, (fn. 26a) was probably Gorrel riding south. The principal lodge was High Lodge, the ranger's house until demolished during the Civil War. Its site was evidently Lodge green, immediately west of the king's houses, and it was presumably demolished because it provided a strong point from which to attack the garrison. It was not rebuilt, for in 1649 the ranger, Sir William Fleetwood, was refitting an outlying lodge, evidently Straights Lodge. (fn. 27a) Fleetwood's successor John Wilmot, earl of Rochester, enlarged or rebuilt the lodge and died there in 1680. (fn. 28a) Straights Lodge probably became known as High Lodge in Fleetwood's time, and was certainly so called by the early 18th century. (fn. 29a)
The High Lodge occupied by Sir Henry Lee in 1577 and given a new hall in 1594-5 was thus the central lodge, (fn. 30b) frequently referred to simply as the lodge; it was probably the lodge mentioned as early as 1337. (fn. 31b) At that date there were two parkers, who by 1349 were each allowed 13s. 4d. a year to maintain lodges later described as next to the great laund. (fn. 32b) The two lodges were still allowed for in the 1450s, but by 1463 there were three lodges in three launds. (fn. 33b) By the mid 16th century there were four, including the central lodge: a lodge in Gorrel laund was mentioned in 1538-9, and New Lodge and Hensgrove (or Bladon) Lodge were mentioned in the 1560s. (fn. 34b) In 1577 Sir Henry Lee held all four, besides the house at the park gate. (fn. 35b) A fifth lodge was built in the Straights in 1586-7. (fn. 36b) Since Gorrel and New lodges required complete rebuilding in 1572 (fn. 37b) it seems likely that, with the central lodge, they were the lodges of 1463. The naming of the two northern ridings after Gorrel suggests that it preceded New Lodge and was possibly one of the two early 14th-century lodges; if so, the great laund was in the northern park.
After the sale of the manor in 1652 (fn. 38b) the park seems to have been let in parcels during the Interregnum, the chief lessee being Sir Arthur Haselring with 646 a. of pasture and meadow; Col. Henry Smith held 316 a., and there were three other holdings of between 120 a. and 140 a. Haselrig was said to have created pastures in the northern park for his bloodstock (perhaps the paddocks lining the western edge in the early 18th century), while other areas were ploughed up. (fn. 39b) In all 1,285 a. of pasture and 78 a. of meadow were let, from a park reckoned to be 1,793 a.; (fn. 40b) the rest may have been woodland. After the Restoration the park was once more administered as a unit by its officers, principally as a deer park. (fn. 41b) Renewal began with the acquisition of Combe leys in the 1660s, and there were improvements to meadows, ponds, plantations, and lodges under Lord Clarendon and his successors. (fn. 42b) Woodstock Park never regained its popularity with the royal family, however, and its chief importance in the later 17th century was as the site of a popular race meeting. The 'four mile course' recorded in 1684 was laid out in the northern park, and there was a separate, shorter course for foot races and smock races; both survived the landscaping of the park in the early 18th century. (fn. 43b) In the 1670s, when both the earl of Rochester and John, Lord Lovelace, were resident in the park, their wild behaviour caused much scandal. (fn. 44b)
When the 'incumbrances' of the park were bought out in 1705 there were still four lodges. High Lodge, usually reserved for the ranger's underkeeper, was occupied by Charlotte, Lady Calvert; New Lodge, Gorrel Lodge, and Hensgrove Lodge were held by keepers whose places were bought out for up to £900. (fn. 45b) The last keeper to leave was of a family long prominent in the park: in July 1705 it was reported that 'with much ado I got out Whitton and so the park is cleared'. (fn. 46b) By then its value was said to be only 'the pleasure and beauty thereof, with the produce of venison . . . and the feed of a few cows'. (fn. 47b)