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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BAMPTON AND WEALD
THE townships of Bampton and Weald, together c. 4,034 a., (fn. 1) adjoined the parish boundary on the south and south-west. Highmoor brook formed the north-western boundary presumably by the 15th century, when quitrents for a meadow on its west bank belonged to the lord of Haddon. (fn. 2) The northern boundary in the 18th century followed furlongs and old inclosures, the division in the north-west chiefly corresponding to that between demesne closes owned by Exeter cathedral (in Bampton), and closes attached to Bampton Earls manor (wholly or partly in Lew); (fn. 3) some sections may have corresponded with the boundaries of an estate at Bampton granted in the 10th century, (fn. 4) though the inclusion in Lew field in 1298 of 'Hangindelonde', presumably Hanging Lands, later in Bampton, suggests adjustment in the later Middle Ages. (fn. 5) The open-field section of the boundary was revised at inclosure between 1812 and 1821, (fn. 6) and by the later 19th century three closes in the north-west, belonging to Bampton Earls manor and perhaps formerly in Lew, were included in Bampton civil parish. (fn. 7) The township's eastern boundary was marked in the 18th century by hedges and fences dividing Aston and Cote's fields from Bampton's; a straight section southwest of Aston village resulted from partition of Aston's West moor between Aston and Bampton before the later 17th century, and the boundary west of Aston village may reflect a similar partition of shared pasture at Truelands. (fn. 8) Straight artificial boundaries in the south-east between Bampton's and Aston's meadows and around Shilton parish's detached lot meadow seem to have been established before inclosure, (fn. 9) though a map of 1789, perhaps in error, showed the later Bampton Inmead south of Isle of Wight brook as belonging to Aston. (fn. 10) Queenborough meadow, west of Tadpole bridge and tenurially part of Aston manor, seems to have been regarded in 1859 as within Bampton township. (fn. 11)
The boundary between Bampton and Weald ran in the 18th and 19th centuries up Cheapside from the Talbot Inn in the market place, along Church Street, and around the west side of the churchyard, bringing the Deanery, Churchgate House (the former south vicarage house), and much of the south-west part of the town into Weald, but leaving the church, Bampton Manor House, and all of Broad Street in Bampton. (fn. 12) With some notable exceptions that boundary corresponds to the early division of the town between the chief manors of Bampton Deanery and Bampton Doilly (north-west and south-east, mostly in Bampton), and Bampton Earls (mostly south-west, and with lands lying mostly in Weald), and may indicate a planned distribution of land among different lords when the townships' later medieval fields were established. (fn. 13) Weald's fields, north-west and south of the town, were separated from Bampton's by Shill and Highmoor brooks and, further south, by a wedge of old inclosures, formerly part of Bampton moor. (fn. 14)
A unitary estate said in 1069 to have been granted to Bampton minster between 955 and 957 lay apparently in Bampton, Aston, and possibly parts of Weald and Lew, suggesting that the later township boundaries were established after the mid 10th century. (fn. 15) From Kingsbridge, a crossing of Shill brook either at the end of modern Bridge Street or further north near the Deanery, the estate's boundary ran up the brook to its confluence with the hollow or sunken brook, evidently Highmoor brook, which is in places deeply sunk and steep-sided. At Cynstane's tree it left the hollow brook to follow 'the way' until the foul brook's head, then followed that brook to the stone bridge, which later field names suggest was in Aston over a watercourse south-west of Newhouse Farm. (fn. 16) Presumably 'the way' was a road on or near the later northern boundary, perhaps running along the ridge on the northern edge of later Lew Leaze; the foul brook, whose name derived from the underlying clay, was presumably a stream, later lost, flowing south-eastwards from Lew into Aston. From the stone bridge the boundary followed another 'way' to the burh ditch, presumably south of the town, which it followed to rejoin Shill brook; that 'way' is unidentified, but may have survived as a north-south track to Aston village which crossed Stone Bridge furlong in Aston's Kingsway field. (fn. 17)
It has been suggested that the chief east-west route through Bampton formed part of an inferred minor Roman road which crossed the river Windrush at Gill Mill and continued through Weald towards Lechlade (Glos.), entering Bampton from the north-east perhaps along the later Kingsway Lane, and passing just south of the later market place. The name Kingsway implies that the lane, a minor track in the 19th century, was an important route to the Anglo-Saxon royal t~un, and its projected course south of the later market place passes close to the sites of an early Anglo-Saxon Grubenhaus and of a medieval manor house. (fn. 18) Another inferred early road ran north-eastwards from Cowleaze Corner to cross the site of the Lady well and skirt the northern perimeter of the Deanery. Both roads may have formed part of a more extensive Roman and early medieval network running north-east to south-west and north-west to south-east, which was partly preserved in the later road and field pattern, and which influenced Bampton's early topography. (fn. 19) The road from Brize Norton, and a pre-inclosure road from Witney and Lew which formerly intersected it north of the town, were probably also ancient, and like the inferred Roman road seem to have been diverted to funnel into the market place perhaps in the 13th century; (fn. 20) the Brize Norton road represented the end of a medieval saltway from Droitwich (Worcs.), where Bampton had salt rights in 1086. (fn. 21) Barcote way, south of the town, a small lane in 1789, (fn. 22) originated possibly as a southwards continuation of those roads, crossing the Thames at or near Rushey weir and continuing to Barcote in Berkshire; Burroway ford, mentioned in 1671, (fn. 23) was presumably a river crossing further west.
The chief southerly route by the mid 18th century was that to Buckland and Abingdon, which crossed Isle of Wight brook by a ford and the Thames by a recently built wooden bridge at Tadpole or Kent's weir; it flooded frequently. (fn. 24) Heavy traffic passed presumably over Radcot bridge to the west or Newbridge to the east, so that from the later Middle Ages Bampton was bypassed both by the chief north-south routes, and by east-west ones between London and the Cotswolds, though traffic westwards to Lechlade and beyond was mentioned in the 16th century and later. (fn. 25) In the late 18th century there were reportedly no stoned roads to any of the surrounding hamlets, travellers 'striking across the common by which the town was surrounded and finding their way to Witney, Burford [or] Oxford ... in the best way they could'. (fn. 26) The name Bampton in the Bush, however, recorded from the 17th century, (fn. 27) referred probably to extensive heath and scrubland in the north of the parish rather than to its inaccessibility, and there is no evidence that Bampton's roads were worse than elsewhere.
A turnpike road from Witney was established in 1771, meeting the Brize Norton road in Lew township and continuing through Bampton to Clanfield to meet the Burford-Faringdon road. (fn. 28) The Brize Norton-Buckland road was turnpiked in 1777, and stone bridges were built over Isle of Wight and Meadow brooks and, c. 1789, at Tadpole bridge. Fines were instituted for those avoiding tolls by cutting across fields or meadows to Chimney, to cross the Thames presumably at Duxford ford. (fn. 29) The Bampton sections of both turnpikes, in 'excellent repair' c. 1793, were confirmed at inclosure in 1821 when the older road to Lew and Witney was suppressed; a new road to Lew and Yelford via later Coalpit Farm was established across former open fields, and a track from Cowleaze Corner to Black Bourton was confirmed as a 40-ft. carriageway. (fn. 30) Fisher's bridge, at the east end of the town and so called by 1672, (fn. 31) was rebuilt in 1825, Isle of Wight bridge in 1835, and Mill brook bridge, at the town's west end, in 1877, when it was found to have been near collapse, and repairs to Meadow Arch bridge were required in 1878. (fn. 32) Roads in 1864 were 'not in the best condition', (fn. 33) and the two turnpikes were disturnpiked in 1874. (fn. 34)
River transport was important from the early Middle Ages. (fn. 35) An artificial watercourse west of the Deanery, 16 m. wide and rubble-revetted on its west side, may have been part of a navigable canal feeding into Great brook, and thence to the Thames at Shifford; its course north of the Deanery is marked by shallow depressions and, probably, by a notably straight stretch of Highmoor brook. It had been backfilled by the end of the Middle Ages. (fn. 36) A 'considerable' coal wharf near Tadpole bridge existed perhaps by 1808 and certainly by 1854, and continued reportedly until 1877. (fn. 37)
From the 1840s carriers linked Bampton with Faringdon Road Station on the G.W.R., (fn. 38) but in the 1860s rail links westwards remained circuitous, and proposed improvements were enthusiastically supported by townspeople. (fn. 39) The East Gloucestershire Railway from Witney to Fairford, with a station, called Bampton Station, just north of the parish boundary, opened in 1873. It became part of the G.W.R. in 1890 and closed in 1962. (fn. 40)
Commercial inns existed in Bampton by the 18th century, (fn. 41) but no coaches are known before 1842 when there was a daily service from the Talbot Inn to Moreton-in-Marsh (Glos.) via Bourton on the Water and Stow (Glos.), and another to London using the railway. (fn. 42) Carriers from Bampton to London were mentioned in the 17th century, (fn. 43) and in the early 19th carriers travelled to Oxford, with passengers also, and to Witney, Burford, and Faringdon (then Berks.). (fn. 44) In the 18th century letters were collected from Witney or Wantage (then Berks.) by private arrangement, but a receiving office was opened in Bampton in 1796, and a penny post from Witney was established in 1817. (fn. 45) The office dealt with money orders by 1864 and had a telegraph office by 1877. (fn. 46) Until the 1840s it was on Broad Street, in Waterloo House or its predecessor; thereafter until c. 1883 it was run by the printer George Holloway from premises on the west side of the market place, moving later to no. 7 High Street, before 1918 back to the market place, and by 1971 to the former Wheatsheaf public house on Bridge Street. (fn. 47) It remained open in 1994.
Groups of prehistoric cropmarks, some suggesting settlement, have been identified on the Thames-side gravels in the southern part of the townships. (fn. 48) A Bronze-Age ring ditch surrounding the medieval Deanery west of the church seems to be respected by the boundary ditch of the later minster enclosure, and presumably survived as a visible earthwork in the Anglo-Saxon period. (fn. 49) Burroway (i.e. burhíeg), a gravel island in the Thames alluvium, is named from an Iron-Age defensive enclosure, whose ramparts, incorporating much burnt clay, survive as substantial earthworks, (fn. 50) and a large Iron-Age and Romano-British settlement existed east of the later town around Aston road and Calais Farm. (fn. 51) Other Roman settlements have been identified south-west of the town in Primrose field, where a stone altar carved with a figure of the goddess Fortuna was found, (fn. 52) at the Royal Signals Station south-east of Weald Lane, (fn. 53) and near Meadow Farm. (fn. 54)
An early Anglo-Saxon Grubenhaus was excavated south of the market place in the grounds of Folly House, (fn. 55) but the most extensive finds of that date have been further east near Calais Farm, on the edge of the Iron-Age and Romano-British site. Besides settlement remains, (fn. 56) they include scattered burials from a probably mid-Saxon cemetery, including one with a 7th-century bronze pin and another with a bone pin-beater. Beam Cottage, nearby, was the site of the medieval chapel of St. Andrew 'of Beme', so called by 1317; an early 12th-century shaft base was found built into the cottage, and burials around it produced radiocarbon dates from the 11th century to the 13th. The 'beam' itself (O.E. béam, 'tree', 'post', or 'pillar') may have been an upstanding ritual landmark, possibly a cross; the name Bampton (tun by the béam) suggests that it was an early and important focus, from which the later, probably mid Anglo-Saxon royal and ecclesiastical centre further west was named. (fn. 57)
By the early 8th century Bampton may have been important: it featured prominently in 12th- century accounts of the life of St. Frideswide which drew probably on earlier traditions, (fn. 58) and its possession of salt rights in Droitwich (Worcs.) suggests links with the distribution network of 8th- and 9th-century Mercia. (fn. 59) A minster on the site of the later church existed probably by 955-7, when King Eadwig reportedly granted land 'to the holy man of Bampton and the community'; (fn. 60) presumably the holy man was St. Beornwald, to whom the church was later dedicated and who may have been an early head of the community. (fn. 61) By the 11th century a tun in the area of the later town formed the centre of a considerable royal demesne, which besides the later royal manor included Clanfield, said in 1086 to be 'of the king's first fee', and Brize Norton (Bampton's north tun), divided before 1066 into 1-hide holdings for royal thegns. (fn. 62) Though no archaeological evidence has been found a royal manor house may have occupied the site of the later castle on the town's western edge, and castle and church face each other across Shill brook, which in the 10th century separated their respective core lands. (fn. 63)
Weald, denoting woodland and, later, open country, was recorded by name from the late 12th century, and was a separate township by the 13th. (fn. 64) Possibly it originated as a separate settlement along the putative east-west route from Gill Mill, though in the later Middle Ages Weald Lane seems to have led only to commons along the parish's western edge. (fn. 65) There was settlement at the lane's northern end probably by c. 1170, when Osney abbey acquired a house apparently on the site of Weald Manor Farm. (fn. 66)
Domesday Book did not generally differentiate tenants in Bampton and Weald from those in other hamlets, though the total of 111 villani, buri, bordarii, and servi on the three chief manors in 1086 may indicate a large population in the town. (fn. 67) Fifteen freeholders, some probably nonresident, and 95 villeins and cottagers were listed in 1279, but at least 30 cottagers mentioned in 1317 were omitted, and in all there may have been over 120 households. (fn. 68) Despite the recent grant of a market and fair the economy may even then have been predominantly agricultural, and widespread division of holdings suggests pressure on resources. (fn. 69) The population probably continued to rise in the early 14th century, and in 1377 poll tax was paid by 367 inhabitants over 14; (fn. 70) the impact of the Black Death may therefore have been relatively limited.
By the early 15th century there were signs of contraction, and the population was apparently falling, several holdings remaining unoccupied for long periods and some being abandoned. (fn. 71) Bampton remained a relatively small and impoverished community of farmers and small tradesmen with a few resident gentry, (fn. 72) though 91 inhabitants contributed to the subsidy of 1542-3, (fn. 73) and from the 1580s the population seems to have increased slowly but steadily despite temporary falls in the birth rate. (fn. 74) Over 200 male inhabitants were named in the Protestation Return of 1641-2, and in 1662 a total of 96 householders were taxed on 268 hearths, (fn. 75) suggesting a 17th-century population of over 500 and rather more than 100 houses. Estimates by 18th-century vicars implied a falling number of houses in the parish as a whole, (fn. 76) but the birth rate continued to rise and usually to exceed the death rate, and by 1801 there were 215 houses in Bampton and Weald, 8 of them unoccupied, and 1,003 inhabitants. (fn. 77) Mortality was unusually high in 1546, 1610, 1729, and 1768, the last year marked by an outbreak of 'contagious fever', and a lesser peak in 1819 was perhaps caused by choleraic fever which had broken out among the Witney poor the previous year. (fn. 78) Other references to fever or smallpox in the late 17th century and the 18th (fn. 79) were not reflected in mortality rates.
From the 1820s poverty and unemployment (fn. 80) prompted large scale emigration to America and the British colonies, which was actively promoted by the vestry and continued in the 1850s. (fn. 81) The population nevertheless rose sharply until 1831 and more slowly until 1861, when it reached 1,713 accommodated in 393 houses, with another 15 unoccupied. It fell steadily to 1,104 in 1921, returning to mid 19th-century levels only from the 1960s as limited expansion took place, and in 1991 the population was 2,459. (fn. 82)
The former minster estate at Kingsbridge seems to have included virtually the whole of the later town, (fn. 83) and Bampton is a classic instance of a 'monastic town' formed around an important church. Almost certainly the minster occupied the site of the later parish church, on a small natural hillock in the Gravel Terrace: human bones excavated in the churchyard produced radiocarbon dates in the 9th or early 10th century, and a pre-Conquest church or chapel may underlie the north transept. (fn. 84) A large oval enclosure of a kind widely recognized on monastic sites in Britain and Ireland, (fn. 85) and whose outline is preserved in the line of Landells Lane and in the curving south churchyard-wall, surrounded the later churchyard, the site of the houses on its east and north sides, and further north the site of Bampton Manor House; excavations in the churchyard's north-west corner revealed a perimeter ditch 4 metres wide with 11th-century pottery in its fill. (fn. 86) In the late 11th century or the 12th the ditch was backfilled, and a north-south road bounded by ditches was laid out across its western edge, crossing the western part of the later churchyard and apparently continuing Landells Lane, named from the 14th-century Laundels family, southwards to Mill bridge. (fn. 87) An early alignment of holy sites running from west to east included, besides the church and the Beam chapel, the Lady well in the north-west corner of the castle moat, a medieval (and possibly late 11th-century) chapel in the Deanery west of the church, and a 15thcentury chantry chapel on Catte (later Queen) Street. (fn. 88) Though not all those sites were necessarily pre-Conquest, the basic arrangement was probably a relic of the Anglo-Saxon minster, and may help to explain the complexity of the town subsequently superimposed on it.
Church View, running south from the churchyard, may have been the site of the 11th-century market before encroachment on its eastern side reduced it to a narrow lane. On topographical grounds it almost certainly formed a major thoroughfare linking the Brize Norton road with Barcote way, and excavations to the east revealed a sunken-floored building of a type associated with late Anglo-Saxon urban frontages. (fn. 89) The market may thus have originated on minster land, though by 1066 the Crown had seized it with the rest of the minster estate, and it remained attached to the royal manor thereafter. (fn. 90)
The town seems to have been replanned probably in the 12th or 13th century. A large triangular market place was laid out south-east of the church enclosure, perhaps in 1241 when a new market was granted by Henry III; roads apparently diverted to funnel into it included the Brize Norton road, which thereafter ran along Broad Street, and the east-west route passing near the sites of the Anglo-Saxon Grubenhaus and of an early manor house, which thereafter ran along High and Bridge Streets. (fn. 91) The churchyard was extended westwards to the Deanery boundary, obliterating the road which had replaced the early enclosure ditch, the other churchyard boundaries were squared up, and by the mid 13th century roads with cottage tenements existed along the north and east sides of the churchyard. (fn. 92) In that modified state the former oval enclosure retained a distinct identity as a settlement around the church, and in the late 13th century the northern part of its boundary was refortified with a timber palisade. (fn. 93)
The intricate network of back lanes was established by the later Middle Ages. Bushey Row, formerly New Inn Lane from a 19th-century public house near its southern end, may represent the original line of the road from Curbridge, (fn. 94) and Queen Street, so called (though not at first consistently) by 1830, was Catte Street in 1402. (fn. 95) Houses on Samford or Sandford Lane existed by the later 15th century. (fn. 96) Church Street, which in the 18th and 19th centuries marked part of the boundary between Bampton and Weald townships and whose north side was lined with houses held of the former minster estate, was presumably also early, and a house of possibly 15th-century origin survives on its south side. (fn. 97) Cheyne and Mill Green Lanes, leading from Bridge Street to the top of Weald Lane, and Rosemary Lane, from the market place to Church View, existed by the 18th century (fn. 98) and are probably also medieval.
Late medieval depopulation may have caused physical contraction, notably around the churchyard, where several cottages fell derelict and were absorbed into neighbouring curtilages. (fn. 99) In 1767 (fn. 100) the limit of expansion was marked on the west by Ham Court and Bampton mill, on the north by Landells Lane and by later New Road, and on the east by Calais, earlier Callace, Farm. Houses on Rowles Lane, apparently the stretch of the Aston road near Calais Farm, were mentioned in the late 16th century, (fn. 101) but as the east end of High Street near Bushey Row was called Town (or Down) End in the 17th century, (fn. 102) expansion eastwards may have been relatively recent. Buckland road remained largely unsettled until the 19th century, (fn. 103) and until inclosure the only outlying houses were the former chapel at the Beam, from the 17th century a copyhold cottage, (fn. 104) and the farmsteads and cottages along Weald Lane, some of them of 17th-century origin. (fn. 105) The market place suffered encroachment before the mid 18th century, when an island of buildings on its northern edge included tradesmen's premises and an inn, (fn. 106) and encroachment continued in the 19th century with the building of the National school, later demolished, at the top of Bridge Street, and of the town hall. (fn. 107) A market house, 'much ruined' in 1669, (fn. 108) was not mentioned later, and an 'ancient' market cross near the centre of the market place, apparently standing in 1777, had disappeared by 1848, as had a large hawthorn tree nearby. (fn. 109) The later war memorial cross, on the market place's north side east of the village hall, was erected in the early 1920s on the site of a house and wheelwright's shop. (fn. 110) Lavender Square, an open space where Queen Street enters the market place on the north, was so called by 1826. (fn. 111)
During the 19th century new building and improved amenities gradually transformed the town's appearance, said in 1847 to have been recently much improved. (fn. 112) An incoming vicar in 1872 noted the 'broad and clean' streets and 'tidy' rows of shops, (fn. 113) though High Street residents were still depositing household rubbish in the gutters in 1883, (fn. 114) and there was no permanent street lighting until c. 1887. (fn. 115) Some areas of apparently slum housing were cleared only in the early 20th century. (fn. 116)
From the late Anglo-Saxon period there seems to have been a high concentration of royal servants and officers in the Bampton area, several holding Crown land apparently in reward for their services. (fn. 117) Late 10th- and early 11th- century landholders in Bampton or its hamlets included Theoderic the goldsmith, Aelfwine the king's scriptor and minister, the thegn Bundi the forester, and Aretius the king's minister, (fn. 118) and in the later Middle Ages several Bampton inhabitants, some of them holders of modest estates and others bailiffs for non-resident lords, were active in royal service or local government, among them the king's buyer Paulinus of Bampton (fl. 1250), (fn. 119) Thomas Fettiplace (d. by 1446), M.P. for Oxfordshire, (fn. 120) and some members of the Laundels family. (fn. 121) John Walker (fl. 1380), Nicholas Wrenne (fl. 1442) and John Folkes (fl. 1449) were tax collectors for the county, (fn. 122) and in the 14th century royal inquisitions post mortem were held frequently at Bampton. (fn. 123) Letters patent or close were dated there in 1270, 1277, and 1328, after the manor had passed from royal hands. (fn. 124) The presence of a small but significant group of resident gentry, many of them local landowners and some still active in local government, continued throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, with families such as the Palmers, Coxeters, and Gowers, (fn. 125) and some other inhabitants called themselves gentleman or bachelor. (fn. 126)
Increasingly there was a professional element. Lawyers resident from the early 18th century included members of the Coxeter family, (fn. 127) Gascoigne Frederick (d. 1780) of Bampton Deanery Manor, (fn. 128) John Mander (d. 1809) of Bampton House, (fn. 129) and Robert Kirke (d. 1800) of Weald Manor, who served as consul at Algiers, (fn. 130) and from the early 19th century there were resident solicitors with businesses in the town. (fn. 131) By the mid 18th century there were two practising surgeons, (fn. 132) and another retired to Bampton in the late 1760s. (fn. 133) The leisured, landowning, and professional element continued into the 19th century, (fn. 134) and though numerically small exercised an important influence on the town's appearance, institutions, and general tone: an advertisement for a house in 1761 commented on its position in a 'genteel neighbourhood' and in good sporting country, listing among the town's advantages a weekly card assembly and the presence of resident apothecaries and physicians. (fn. 135) Bampton nevertheless remained too isolated, relatively poor, and agriculturally orientated ever to become especially fashionable, and in 1793 was described as a town chiefly of 'farmers and numerous poor, with several gentlemen and some reputable tradesmen'. (fn. 136) A further aspect of its social character was the presence, from the Middle Ages, of WestCountry immigrants, presumably servants or followers of the parochial clergy, who were mostly high-status ecclesiastics of Devon origin. (fn. 137) The name Devenish was recorded from the 14th century, (fn. 138) and in the 16th a man was accused of marrying in Bampton despite having a wife and children in Devon. (fn. 139) The Dotyn family, prominent later in the century, followed two vicars of that name, (fn. 140) and even in the mid 19th century a few inhabitants had been born in Devon. (fn. 141)
An inn was mentioned in 1573, (fn. 142) and from the mid 18th century there were usually c. 10 or more licensed alehouses and inns. (fn. 143) The Talbot Inn, on the south side of the market place, was so called by 1668 after the lords of the manor to which it belonged, (fn. 144) and in 1870 had stabling for 10 horses. (fn. 145) Though rebuilt or remodelled in the early 18th century (fn. 146) it was described in 1789 as 'very old' with 'small and inconvenient rooms', and c. 1811-13 a new room was added over the carriage entry. (fn. 147) The Bell, on the site of the later village hall, the Fleur de Lis, on the south-east side of the market place, and the Horse Shoe, at the top of Bridge Street, were inns probably by 1753. (fn. 148) The Bell was mentioned frequently, with the Talbot, as a venue for public meetings and auctions in the later 18th century, (fn. 149) and was a 'very regular inn' in 1826; it closed in the 1880s. (fn. 150) The Fleur de Lis closed in the early 1870s and was demolished in the early 20th century, (fn. 151) and the Horse Shoe, rebuilt c. 1925, (fn. 152) remained open in 1994. The Hermitage and Old Priory on Broad Street, let to a baker as the Red Lion in the 1780s and 1790s, (fn. 153) may have offered accomodation, and an undated sign found at the Morris Clown on High Street, opened as the George c. 1811 and called the New Inn from c. 1821 to 1975, described it as a posting house with livery stables. (fn. 154) Unidentified inns included the Roebuck, mentioned from 1660 to 1681, (fn. 155) the Three Compasses, mentioned in 1787, and the Crown, mentioned from 1774 to 1787. (fn. 156) The 'White Hart inn', mentioned from 1700 to 1715, was in a cottage, and may not have offered accommodation. (fn. 157) Numerous alehouses included one at Rushey weir licensed from 1796 to 1814, (fn. 158) the Plough on Broad Street, closed in 1923, (fn. 159) and the Lamb in the market place, associated with a smithy and other buildings and demolished following its closure c. 1956. (fn. 160) There were seven public houses in 1994, all of 19th-century origin except for the Talbot, the Horse Shoe, and the Romany, opened after 1946. (fn. 161)
A friendly or benefit society founded in 1751 was rescued from insolvency in 1797 by a subsidy from the poor rate. (fn. 162) Another was established in 1795, (fn. 163) and from the 1840s there were usually two: the Old Club, meeting at the Talbot and occasionally at the Fleur de Lis, and the Victoria Club, meeting at the Horse Shoe and later at the Wheatsheaf on Bridge Street. (fn. 164) A Court of the Ancient Order of Foresters met by 1869 at the Fleur de Lis and later at the New Inn, and continued into the later 20th century. (fn. 165) Penny readings (including musical items) and other entertainments were held frequently in the town hall or National school in the later 19th century, performers and organizers including local clergy, gentry, and farmers, and were well attended. (fn. 166) A Philharmonic Society was formed in 1870, (fn. 167) and Bampton brass band, established by 1869 when disagreement erupted with the vicar over custody of its new bass drum, continued in the early 20th century. (fn. 168) Holloway's 'theatre' near the church, mentioned in 1871 when Hamlet proved more popular than the competing harvest festival, (fn. 169) was not mentioned later and was perhaps a temporary sideshow. A cricket club, with its own ground, existed by 1859, and a football club by 1907, (fn. 170) and a horticultural society established in 1860 continued in the 20th century. (fn. 171) A reading society with its own librarian was mentioned in 1828 and revived in 1847, (fn. 172) and in the late 1860s and again in 1884 a subscription news and reading room was opened in the town hall; (fn. 173) a charitable bequest in 1905 provided for annual payments of c. £5 to the men's and £2 to the boys' reading room. (fn. 174) A lending library mentioned from 1891 seems to have closed in the early 1920s; (fn. 175) a public library run by the County Council was opened in Rosemary House on the west side of the market place before 1957, and in 1964 was moved to the former grammar school on Church View. (fn. 176)
Rogation-week circuiting, mentioned in 1713, (fn. 177) continued until inclosure in the early 19th century. Beer and victuals were provided by the vicars and by farmers of the tithes, the circuiters' route reportedly taking them on the first day to Clanfield, where the farmer of Bampton's tithes provided breakfast, on the second to Lower Haddon and 'Heart's Yat' on Lew heath, and on the third to Aston and Cote; Shifford and Brighthampton were not explicitly mentioned. In the early 19th century the circuit was marked by crosses cut with a paddle, traditionally carried by a woman who had never been married. (fn. 178) The vicars' and tithe-owners' obligation to provide a breakfast of beer, beef, and bread on St. Stephen's day (26 December), also mentioned in 1713, similarly continued until inclosure, though an obligation to provide the 'harvest bottle' may have lapsed by the later 18th century. (fn. 179) May day celebrations, in which local children dressed as Lord, Lady, and Jack-inthe-Green, lapsed in the mid 19th century but survived in modified form at Whitsuntide in 1897, (fn. 180) and in the early 1990s children still paraded with wild flower garlands for which prizes were awarded. (fn. 181) A backsword contest and fair held on Whit Wednesday in 1753 (fn. 182) suggest earlier Whitsuntide festivities. Payments in 1741 for ringing the church bells on Coronation day, the king's birthday, and 'Gunpowder Treason' day may indicate local celebrations on those occasions, and a local 'Gunpowder Plot Rhyme' was still current in 1894. (fn. 183)
Morris dancing in Bampton may be traced to the early 19th century and probably the late 18th, though claims that the Bampton Morris is the oldest in England with a continuous history of over 300 years lack documentary support. By 1848 and probably earlier the side performed regularly at Whitsuntide, and by the 1870s appeared frequently in neighbouring villages; in the early 20th century it attracted visitors from as far as London and Birmingham. A rival side was established after the First World War, and there were three sides in 1995 (fn. 184) when Whitsuntide dancing and other festivities continued. Christmas mummers were recorded in 1848, reportedly continuing an earlier, probably 18thcentury tradition but with a new script, and the practice was revived in the later 20th century. (fn. 185) An annual Shirt Race established in 1953 continued in the 1990s. (fn. 186) A curfew bell, mentioned from the later 18th century, was rung in the 1950s but not by 1992. (fn. 187)
The Lady well, on the town's western edge, was known for its supposed healing properties apparently by the later 18th century, and it seems likely that the tradition was of medieval origin, reflecting the well's probable importance as an early religious site. (fn. 188) Its association with eye ailments suggests connections with the cult of St. Frideswide, (fn. 189) but in the 19th century it was associated with the Virgin, and in 1886 it was called Good Queen Anne's well. (fn. 190) Stonework survived in the mid 19th century, but the site was then overgrown and the tradition reportedly in decline; the well's restoration and 'inauguration' in 1848 reflected a more Romantic interest, perhaps inspired by a recently published account. (fn. 191) By the 1880s it was again 'choked up with tangled growths and rubbish', though bathing of infected eyes in its waters continued into the 20th century. (fn. 192)
The king's prison in Bampton was mentioned in 1259. (fn. 193) Social control may, as claimed in the 19th century, (fn. 194) have been facilitated by the presence of J.P.s and earlier of other officers, but Bampton experienced the usual outbreaks of occasional unrest: local gangs attacked Bampton mill in 1264 and one of the manor houses in 1353, (fn. 195) and in 1398 Bampton men were prominent in a treasonable uprising in west Oxfordshire; others may have been implicated in Bishop Merke's rebellion in 1400. (fn. 196) In the late 16th century the merly Bampton castle) was persistently threatened by a rival's supporters, and claimed that his wife died of fright after a gun was fired. (fn. 197) Controversy over a surgeon's use of inoculation in the 1770s allegedly resulted in violence and intimidation, which drove him first to Aston and later out of the parish. (fn. 198) In 1835 there were riots following changes in the poor law, (fn. 199) and in 1872 use of soldiers to break strikes in the area reportedly 'envenomed a dispute hitherto carried on ... without the least desire ... of violence', provoking social antagonism which persisted ten years later. (fn. 200) A county prosecution association had Bampton subscribers by 1756, and a local association with a committee comprising leading gentry and clergy was set up c. 1778, when crime was said to be especially prevalent. It met usually at the Talbot or Bell inns and continued in the 1850s. (fn. 201)
The identification of Bampton with Beandun, where Cynegils allegedly defeated over 2,000 Britons in 614, lacks evidence. (fn. 202) King Stephen stormed Bampton in 1142 after the empress Maud established a garrison and fortified the church tower. (fn. 203) Forces under Cromwell, bound for Witney, skirmished near the town on 27 April 1645 with c. 300 royalist infantry returning to Faringdon; the royalists withdrew to a 'pretty strong house', presumably the castle, and barricaded the town. They surrendered the following day, and a local tradition that Cromwell slighted the castle is unsubstantiated. (fn. 204) In 1649 Fairfax marched through Bampton in pursuit of the Levellers. (fn. 205) Prominent Bampton men were accused in 1648-9 of having supplied the royalist garrison at Oxford, (fn. 206) and in 1661 John Hanks (d. 1669), seeking restoration of Bampton Deanery manor, claimed to have been in arms for the king at Oxford. (fn. 207) Relics with Jacobite slogans, bearing the name of Martha Frederick (d. 1768), were found at Bampton Manor House, but there is no evidence that other family members were implicated. (fn. 208)
The poet John Philips (d. 1709) was born at Bampton in 1676, a son of one of the vicars. (fn. 209) Sir Frederick Whitaker (d. 1891), premier of New Zealand, was born there in 1812, a son of the lessee of Bampton Deanery manor. (fn. 210) F. W. Taunt (d. 1915) of Waterloo House on Broad Street, prominent in Bampton's musical life in the late 19th century and early 20th, (fn. 211) was distantly related to the Oxford photographer Henry Taunt, who photographed Bampton extensively, though there is no evidence that they knew each other. (fn. 212) In 1918 the novelist John Buchan visited and contemplated buying Weald Manor, the model for 'Fullcircle' in The Runagates Club. (fn. 213)
The Royal Signals Regiment established a listening station south-east of Weald Lane in 1939. It was taken over by the R.A.F. in 1969 (fn. 214) and continued in 1993.