A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 13, Bampton Hundred (Part One). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1996.
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Barley Park formed part of Ducklington manor until sold by the Bromes in the 1580s to Thomas Yate, who in 1586 sold it to the queen's physician Walter Bayley (d. 1592). (fn. 1) Park and manor were reunited when Bayley's son William (d. 1613) bought the manor, and they descended together until the later 17th century. (fn. 2) In 1693 part of the park, Edgeley coppice later Moulden's wood (then 58 a.), was sold from the manor to Edward Moulden, a Witney ironmonger. (fn. 3) Probably in the same year the main part of Barley Park was sold to the Revd. Edward Alston. (fn. 4) Alston's estate seems to have passed soon afterwards to Thomas Brereton (d. 1699) of East Marden (Suss.), between whose daughters, Mary (d. 1701) and Frances (d. 1727), it was divided. Frances, who inherited her sister's share, married first the Revd. Edward Onley of Cottesmore (Rut.) and later, before 1717, Paul Collins, (fn. 5) who survived her but was dead by 1746. (fn. 6) The estate descended under Frances Collins's will to her nephew Thomas William Brereton and his son Thomas. They sold it c. 1754 to Simon, Earl Harcourt. (fn. 7)
The Barley Park estate held by the Collinses and their successors evidently excluded not only Moulden's wood but other parts of the park for which, in 1716, the families of Carter and Barker were paying freehold quitrents to Ducklington manor. (fn. 8) William Barker, yeoman (d. 1691), was 'of Barley' and Barkers were resident in Ducklington until the 1720s. (fn. 9) The Carters were perhaps associated with Claywell, since they also held of Ducklington manor an estate held earlier by the Lords, (fn. 10) and another connexion between the park and Claywell is suggested by the name Dr. Adams's wood (possibly the same as Carter's copse), presumably referring to Samuel Adams (d. 1751), lord of Claywell. (fn. 11) The Barley Park estate acquired by Simon, Earl Harcourt, from the Breretons comprised only 148 a. around Barley Park Farm, including the main wood, the closes along its eastern edge, and a few on the north: the west side, the southern tip, and much of the north part of the former park belonged to other estates. (fn. 12) During the 1750s, however, Harcourt acquired Carter's estate (sometimes called Littleton's) and smaller estates which seem to have included parts of the former park; he also acquired half (some 22 a.) of Moulden's wood. (fn. 13) All descended thereafter with the Cokethorpe estate. The other part of Moulden's wood retained the name Edgeley coppice in the 18th century, suggesting that it had been sold off soon after its acquisition by Edward Moulden in 1693; it was owned in the late 18th century and early 19th by the Leake family, (fn. 14) and was acquired at inclosure in 1839 by Walter Strickland of Cokethorpe in an exchange with Charles Leake. Strickland by then owned almost all the former Barley Park. (fn. 15) In 1919 Barley Park farm, and Coursehill farm which included part of the former park, were sold. (fn. 16)
In the 16th century Barley Park contained a ranger's lodge and probably another house. (fn. 17) The royal bailiff Thomas Lawley at his death in 1549 was 'of Barley Park', as was Richard Hickes, gent., c. 159O. (fn. 18) William Bayley (d. 1613) was also so described, but he and later Bayleys seem to have lived in Ducklington manor house. (fn. 19) The house ground in the park was mentioned in 1661. (fn. 20) Both William Barker and Edward Alston may have lived in the park in the 1690s and c. 1718 Barley Park was described as the seat of Paul Collins; (fn. 21) for a short time the house may have been called Ducklington Place. (fn. 22) By the mid 18th century it was probably a working farmhouse. (fn. 23) Much was spent on repair or rebuilding when it became part of the Cokethorpe estate. (fn. 24) The surviving Barley Park Farm seems to date from a rebuilding by Walter Strickland c. 1840, but in a field to the southwest is a large banked enclosure, perhaps the site of an earlier house. (fn. 25)
A large freehold and leasehold estate in Ducklington was accumulated by the Harris family. (fn. 26) Richard Harris (d. 1545) was the highest taxpayer in Ducklington in 1542-3; (fn. 27) his son Thomas (d. 1565) added to his estate, (fn. 28) and his grandson Bartholomew (d. 1632) acquired the largest (6 yardlands) of the 2,000-year leasehold estates created when the manorial estate was dispersed in 1587. (fn. 29) When Bartholomew's son Thomas predeceased him in 1626 the family's holding, thought to be held in chief by knight service as part of Ducklington manor, included two houses, 3½ yardlands of customary land, 2½ yardlands of former demesne, and various closes, notably Court close, the possible site of the medieval manor house. The family also held another house and 1½ yardland, its tenure unknown but probably the freehold bought in 1557 from the Tailor family. (fn. 30)
The estate seems to have passed to Bartholomew Harris (d. 1705) and Thomas Harris (d. 1728), whose leasehold and freehold holdings of Ducklington manor passed in the mid 18th century to the Davis family. (fn. 31) They had been acquired by either Anthony Davis, who was buried in Ducklington in 1746, or by his son Capt. George Davis (d. 1765), then resident. (fn. 32) In 1762, however, apparently because of mortgage difficulties elsewhere, Davis surrendered his Ducklington estate to Simon, Earl Harcourt, to whom the rack rent of the farmland, occupied by Thomas Stone, was paid until 1769. In that year Davis's son George (d. 1814) regained possession. (fn. 33) He continued to let most of it as a single large farm, (fn. 34) but resided in Ducklington before moving in 1785 to Benson. (fn. 35) In 1772 he enlarged the estate by acquiring another of Ducklington manor's ancient leaseholds, a house and 3 yardlands long held by the Colliers, and in 1787 he sold the whole to John Nalder of Northmoor (d. 1797). (fn. 36) Nalder's son Noble Kent Nalder (d. 1830) sold the estate in 1829 to Walter Strickland of Cokethorpe Park, (fn. 37) and it descended thereafter with the Cokethorpe estate.
The chief farm on the former Nalder estate was worked from the surviving Manor Farm, probably the principal working farmhouse of the estate from the time of the Harrises; (fn. 38) the farmhouse acquired with Collier's estate had been turned into cottages by 1820. (fn. 39) Manor Farm is a large stone and stone-slated house, of 2 storeys with attics; the main range, of the later 17th century with gable chimneys, was extended west, beyond the kitchen stack, in the 18th century and an outshut with service rooms added in the 19th century. The Davises and Nalders resided in another house which, although probably acquired with the Harris estate, was evidently greatly enlarged or rebuilt. At inclosure in 1839 it was a vacant building called the Great House, owned by Walter Strickland, and standing north of the surviving no. 14 Witney Road; soon afterwards the Stricklands demolished it and used the materials to build an outlying farmhouse. In the later 19th century, mistakenly identified as the 'old manor house' of Ducklington, it was remembered as a house of some 13 bedrooms, with an ornate interior and an entrance surmounted by carved heads and an inscription containing the name Davis. (fn. 40) It was presumably the gentleman's residence in Ducklington which in 1766, during the minority of the younger George Davis, was offered to let; it was described as recently finished, with 7 bedrooms and 7 garrets, set in lawns and flower gardens with a summer house and 'serpentine canal'. (fn. 41) No. 14 Witney Road, alleged to have been the kitchen end of the Great House, dates from the 17th century or earlier, and contained an ancient oak door which in the 1980s was removed to Rectory Cottage, Yelford. (fn. 42)
Wadham College, Oxford, acquired an estate in Hardwick which derived from the division of the manor in the mid 16th century. The part centred on Yelford, granted away in 1544, lay in fields which came to be regarded as in Hardwick; (fn. 43) the owner of that estate, William Edwards, in 1570 added two holdings in Hardwick proper which had been granted from the manor in 1569 to Peter Ranckell of Witney. (fn. 44) After the Edwards family's estate in Yelford and Hardwick passed to Wadharn College in 1636 the Hardwick part, separately let, was usually described as a house, 1½ yardland, and 3 berrydells (former demesne) and in 1772 comprised an estimated 52 a. (fn. 45) After inclosure in 1853 Wadham College's Hardwick estate comprised c. 75 a., enlarged by purchase in 1864 to c. 98 a. (fn. 46) Most of the farmland was sold in 1968 and the village property in 1975. (fn. 47)