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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MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
In 1059 land probably in the south-west of Northmoor was included in Edward the Confessor's grant of Taynton to St. Denis abbey, Paris. (fn. 1) The rest of Northmoor, included probably in the later Stanton Harcourt manor, was acquired by the abbey apparently before the mid 12th century, (fn. 2) and by the early 13th the combined estate, later the manor of MORE (or NORTHMOOR) ST. DENNIS or ABBOTS MORE, was administered by the abbey's cell at Deerhurst (Glos.). (fn. 3) As an alien priory Deerhurst was seized repeatedly during the 14th and 15th centuries by the Crown, which in 1345 and 1389 let it with its estates and c. 1447 granted it to Eton College. The Crown recovered the priory in 1461, and in 1467 granted it to Tewkesbury abbey, which retained Northmoor until the Dissolution. (fn. 4)
In 1554 the Crown granted the manor for life to a royal equerry, John Herle (d. 1581), who may have resided, (fn. 5) and in 1590 sold it to Walter Bayley (d. 1592), the queen's physician. (fn. 6) Bayley's son William, lord in 1596, (fn. 7) seems to have sold it after 1600 to James Stone (d. 1617) of Northmoor, lord in 1604 and 1609. (fn. 8) Before 1619 it passed to Henry Greenway (d. c. 1640) of Northmoor, who bought an additional farm from Francis Yate of Standlake, and Manor farm, formerly part of an estate owned by the More family, from Sir Simon Every. (fn. 9) In 1645 Greenway's son Henry sold the manor to Edward Twyford of London and later of Northmoor, retaining Manor farm and other lands, which were sold to Twyford in 1647. (fn. 10) From c. 1664 Twyford mortgaged the manor, and in 1671 sold it to Edmund (later Sir Edmund) Warcupp of Durham Yard (Mdx.) and later of Northmoor, together with a Moreton farm bought in 1662 from Thomas Greenway. Warcupp made several small sales, and died in 1712 leaving the manor in trust to be sold. (fn. 11) His daughter Anna Maria Pryce, the surviving trustee, sold it in 1718 to John Blewitt, later of Northmoor and Salford and a high sheriff of the county, who made small additions but mortgaged the estate from 1737; in 1755 trustees under his will sold it to Simon Harcourt (d. 1777), Earl Harcourt, (fn. 12) whose grandfather Simon (d. 1727), 1st Viscount Harcourt, had made piecemeal acquisitions in the parish. (fn. 13) The estate, c. 1,240 a. in 1844, (fn. 14) descended with Stanton Harcourt and Nuneham Courtenay until 1924 when most was sold, (fn. 15) and in 1979 the Harcourts retained only Manor farm, then 232 a. (fn. 16)
A house owned by the prior of Deerhurst in 1239 may have been a homestead for the demesne. (fn. 17) No later references have been found, and in the 17th century there seems to have been no manor house until Manor Farm was adopted after 1640, (fn. 18) Henry Greenway (d. c. 1640) living in a freehold farmhouse called Clarks, apparently by the Standlake road. (fn. 19)
The reputed manor of MORE, centred on Manor Farm and owned from the 13th century to the 17th by the More family, was an ordinary freehold held of the chief manor, (fn. 20) though owners in the 16th century may have laid claim to a court. (fn. 21) After 1608 John More sold the estate piecemeal, (fn. 22) the larger part, including Manor (or More) Farm, passing apparently to John Every (d. 1618) of Oxford University, whose son Sir Simon sold it to Henry Greenway before 1640. (fn. 23) Presumably Manor Farm was the 'manor house' at Northmoor in which Thomas de la More was licensed to have an oratory in 1333 and 1343, (fn. 24) and it remained the reputed manor house in the 16th century. (fn. 25) Though some Mores lived chiefly at Lower Haddon in Bampton family members lived at Northmoor until the later 16th century, (fn. 26) and successive lords of More St. Dennis occupied the house from 1640 until Blewitt's departure for Salford after 1730; thereafter it was let to tenant farmers. (fn. 27)
The existing, irregularly-planned house, (fn. 28) within a large rectangular moat near the parish's western edge, is built mostly of limestone rubble; it retains, however, some timber-framed first-floor walls and a short length of jettying, suggesting that the house's south-west corner originated as a 16th-century timber-framed cross wing abutting a main range on its east side. If so that house was curtailed in or before the late 17th century, when the building was reconstructed with a new roof above a prominent cornice and a more or less regular south entrance front, and at the same time several rooms were panelled and a new staircase with turned balusters was installed. The inscription EW 1672, presumably for Edmund Warcupp, was noted on a barn, (fn. 29) and the house was called new-built c. 1697. (fn. 30) Timber framing remained visible in the early 19th century, but had been rendered probably by the later 19th. (fn. 31) There was further refitting of the interior in the early 19th century, and renovations were carried out c. 1924 and in the early 1960s, when the house was dilapidated and some windows were replaced; c. 1990 the house was extended northwards, and an eastern service wing partly of red brick was replaced by a larger two-storeyed range, retaining a short stretch of earlier rubble walling on the north. The moat was cleared about the same time. (fn. 32) There was a separate house, within the moated area, for the tenant of the farmland in the early 18th century, when shared outbuildings included stables, a coach house with a room above, a newly built brewhouse, and a dovecot. (fn. 33)
In 1555 the rectory estate, comprising a house, tithes, and c. 40 a. of glebe, was appropriated to St. John's College, Oxford, at the instigation of its founder Sir Thomas White. (fn. 34) The college acquired a further 60 a. of meadow and a farm in Moreton as part of Fyfield manor (then Berks.), (fn. 35) and in 1569, after protracted litigation, acquired a second Moreton farm bought by White from Christopher Ashton of Fyfield. (fn. 36) At the inclosure of Northmoor's commons c. 1666 the college received 16 a. for common rights attached to the glebe and c. 60 a. for those attached to its Moreton land, (fn. 37) and in 1843 the estate totalled c. 236 a.; (fn. 38) piecemeal additions in the late 19th century and the 20th, notably the Harcourts' Moreton farm (116 a.) in 1927 and c. 50 a. from Christ Church, Oxford, c. 1964, increased it to over 400 a. (fn. 39) Quitrents to Northmoor manor were redeemed in 1932, (fn. 40) and in 1970 the estate and rectory house were sold to the tenant. (fn. 41)
Until 1840 the tithes were let with the glebe, early lessees including the vicar William More (d. 1612), (fn. 42) and in the 17th century and earlier 18th members of the Champneys family and their successors the Pleydells, most of whom occupied the rectory house. (fn. 43) Moduses c. 1600 included 10d. for every 20 sheep sold before Holy Rood day and 20d. for those sold after, 1½d.-2½d. for milch cows, and 1d. for colts; (fn. 44) others agreed in the mid 17th century included 1s. for calves, 2s. 6d. for lambs, and 1d. for garden produce, though for twenty years previously most tithes had been paid in kind, and calf and lamb tithes were usually still so paid. Half tithe was paid for sheep pastured in Northmoor for part of the year. (fn. 45) At the inclosure of the commons rent charges were agreed, despite opposition, (fn. 46) of 1s. 6d. per acre in the former common, 13¾d. per acre in West mead, and 2s. for every acre of arable or meadow converted to pasture; (fn. 47) those payments continued until 1811 when St. John's found that Chancery decrees initiating them were not binding, and resolved to collect all tithes in kind or impose new compositions. (fn. 48) All the tithes were commuted in 1840-4 for a rent charge of c. £514, excluding £10 from the glebe, and thereafter the rectory farm was let without the tithes. (fn. 49) In the 1950s tithe redemption annuities were still paid to the college. (fn. 50)
Rectory Farm (fn. 51) lies immediately south-east of the church within a partly moated enclosure, evidently the site of the medieval rectory house. (fn. 52) Surviving medieval buildings are the lower part of a timber-framed gatehouse, later converted into a pigeon house, and the central cruck-framed part of a large, possibly 14th-century barn. (fn. 53) Repairs to the earlier house were recorded in 1572 (fn. 54) and c. 1612-14, when stone walls were rebuilt in the hall, parlour, and old kitchen, and slates and roof tiles were bought; some 'old houses' were too dilapidated to be easily repaired, however, (fn. 55) and the existing house seems to have been built c. 1629 (fn. 56) on a site probably a little way to the south of its predecessor, since the gatehouse is not aligned on it. The house is two-storeyed with attics, and is rubble-walled; its main range has a near-central doorway leading to a lobby built against the side of the main stack, and a long east wing incorporates, among other rooms, a parlour, and a newel stair. The parlour and a room above it retain moulded plaster cornices and decorative plasterwork along the beams, and the fireplaces have four-centred heads with sunk spandrels. The windows are stone-mullioned, and most lights have four-centred heads. The main range's west gable is timber-framed, implying that a symmetrical west wing may have been planned, but in the early 19th century there was apparently only a low, single-storeyed service wing of similar dimensions to the existing wing, (fn. 57) which is of the later 19th century. A barn north-west of the house was converted for domestic use c. 1990. (fn. 58)
In the later 16th century Edward Walwyn (fl. 1544-92), owner of Gaunt House in Standlake, acquired Orpwoods farm in Northmoor and c. 5 smaller holdings in Northmoor and Moreton. (fn. 59) The combined Northmoor estate, c. 158 a. in the 19th century, (fn. 60) owed quitrents to Northmoor manor, a liability unsuccessfully challenged by George Walwyn in 1604. (fn. 61) In 1686 the estate passed with Gaunt House to Christ Church, Oxford, which let much of it with Gaunt House farm; (fn. 62) the Northmoor part was sold piecemeal in the 1950s and 1960s. (fn. 63)
From 1741 to 1745 Magdalen College, Oxford, acquired c. 86 a. including the later Stonehenge farm in Moreton and Ark weir and Lower farm in Northmoor. (fn. 64) Between 1899 and 1904 the college bought Radgnoll, Ramsey, and Pinnocks farms from the trustees of Richard Eagle (d. 1899), increasing its freehold to c. 240 a., and rented a further 47 a. from an Abingdon charity. (fn. 65) Quitrents for Stonehenge and Lower farms were redeemed in 1889 (fn. 66) and the estate was sold in 1920, chiefly to tenants. (fn. 67)
Land bought in 1638 to augment the perpetual curacy of St. Michael at the Northgate, Oxford, c. 22 a. in the 19th century, was treated sometimes as the curate's property and sometimes as that of Lincoln College, Oxford. Though the college was rector of St. Michael's it was, however, one of several trustees for the Northmoor land, (fn. 68) which seems to have remained with the curacy in the later 19th century. (fn. 69) Seven acres bought c. 1750 to augment the rectory of St. Martin's, Oxford, were sold in 1954. (fn. 70)