Lew: Manor and other estates

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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A P Baggs. Eleanor Chance. Christina Colvin. C J Day. Nesta Selwyn. S C Townley, 'Lew: Manor and other estates', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 13, Bampton Hundred (Part One), (London, 1996), pp. 93-94. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol13/pp93-94 [accessed 16 June 2024].

A P Baggs. Eleanor Chance. Christina Colvin. C J Day. Nesta Selwyn. S C Townley. "Lew: Manor and other estates", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 13, Bampton Hundred (Part One), (London, 1996) 93-94. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol13/pp93-94.

Baggs, A P. Chance, Eleanor. Colvin, Christina. Day, C J. Selwyn, Nesta. Townley, S C. "Lew: Manor and other estates", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 13, Bampton Hundred (Part One), (London, 1996). 93-94. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol13/pp93-94.


Until the 19th century much of Lew belonged to the royal manor of Bampton and to its successor Bampton Earls. (fn. 1) A separate estate in Lew and Weald, built up by Osney abbey during the 12th and 13th centuries, was called LEW manor in 1542 and 1546, but in fact formed a member of the abbey's manor or bailiwick of Black Bourton. (fn. 2) Geoffrey Gibewyn gave six yardlands to the abbey c. 1225, perhaps the 1½ hides held by Hugh de Bolbec of Walter Giffard in 1086, (fn. 3) but by 1279 two yardlands had become detached, perhaps in connexion with a fine of 1198 or following a dispute with the Belet family in 1227. (fn. 4) A rent charge of 24s. from Bampton manor, part of a prebend of 60s. formerly held by Peverel the priest and granted to the abbey by the Empress Maud in 1141, was exchanged c. 1170 by Matthew, count of Boulogne, for ½ yardland in Weald and a fishery at Rushey on the river Thames, and during the 13th century there were further small grants of meadows, common rights, and fisheries. (fn. 5)

In 1542 most of the estate passed with the abbey's other lands to the new cathedral of Christ and St. Mary at Osney, and in 1546 to its successor, Christ Church. (fn. 6) Two of the yardlands in Lew, then held in socage, became detached and were acquired before 1633 by the Wenmans of Caswell manor in Witney, (fn. 7) who rented the other 2 yardlands, which were closely intermingled, from Christ Church. (fn. 8) The combined leasehold and freehold estate, 156 a. after inclosure, passed from Sir Francis Wenman (d. 1640) to his relict Ann and son Sir Francis (d. 1680), Bt., to Francis's son Sir Richard (d. 1690), Viscount Wenman from 1686, and to Richard's relict Catherine (d. 1742), who married James Bertie (d. 1699), earl of Abingdon, and, later, Francis Wroughton (d. 1733) of Eastcott (Wilts.). It then passed to Catherine's grandson Philip (d. 1760), Viscount Wenman, and his trustees, later descending with Thame Park to Sophia Wykeham (fn. 9) who sold it in 1824. The freehold part (c. 74½ a.) was bought by Thomas Denton, purchaser of the Coventrys' share of Bampton Earls manor, with which it was sold after 1859 to John Jones of Worcester; Jones sold his entire Lew estate (302 a.) in 1863 to Christ Church, which in 1871 added the earl of Shrewsbury's land (c. 73 a.) and made further small purchases later. (fn. 10) Christ Church sold most of its Lew estate in 1985; (fn. 11) its remaining Weald tenement, on the site of Weald Manor Farm, was sold with 5 a. in 1877. (fn. 12)

Osney abbey maintained no demesne farm or manor house at Lew, and by the 17th century the joint leasehold and freehold estate was centred on the later Manor Farm, formerly Lew House or the Manor House, (fn. 13) which then as earlier was let to tenant farmers. (fn. 14) There may formerly have been two houses on the site, one each for the leasehold and freehold farms, (fn. 15) but until inclosure the curtilages remained confused and in 1818 the southern (then leasehold) part contained only dilapidated farm buildings, used from c. 1824 as a homestead for nearby Morgan's Farm. (fn. 16) The existing house on the northern (then freehold) part, a 'substantial farmhouse' in 1824, was presumably that called a mansion house in 1633, and said to be 'well slated' in 1738; (fn. 17) a small 17th-century range survives at its south-west corner, and was extended on the north-east in the 18th century. The existing service wing, which runs northwest from the 17th-century range, seems to have been added in the 19th century (fn. 18) but has been partly rebuilt, and before 1848 additions were made south-east of the main range perhaps for Denton, who occupied the house in the 1840s. (fn. 19) In the later 19th century the house was let with Lower (then Manor) farm; (fn. 20) in the later 20th it fell derelict, and was extensively remodelled c. 1985 (fn. 21) when former farm buildings round a courtyard to the south-west were converted for domestic use.

An estate held in 1086 by Aretius the king's minister, and lands owned in the later Middle Ages by the Laundels family, are treated above. (fn. 22) A freehold of 5½ yardlands, held in 1651 by Francis Wenman (d. 1680), Bt., descended with his other Lew estate to Philip, Viscount Wenman, who in 1747 sold it to Oxford university, the owner until 1959. (fn. 23) Until 1769 it was let as two farms and included two houses and homesteads, of which one, near Church and Lew House Cottages, was given in exchange to Jonathan Arnatt at inclosure in 1821, when it was occupied by labourers. The other, later University Farm, is of 17th-century origin and was remodelled shortly before 1746, when the kitchen cross-wing was probably added. By 1767 it was in disrepair and was used as a poorhouse, and in 1809 it was labourers' accommodation; (fn. 24) in the earlier 19th century it again became the farmhouse for the university estate, then c. 200 a., and was repaired and extended southwestwards. (fn. 25) The university bought adjacent tenements and closes to the east and south in 1895 from S. A. Saunder and Frances Stubbs, whose grandfather Samuel Saunder had bought them from the Jeeves family of Lew in 1824 and 1831. (fn. 26)


  • 1. Above, Bampton and Weald, manors.
  • 2. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, p. 490; xxi (2), p. 334; Oseney Cart. vi, pp. 203-4; Bodl. MSS. Ch. Oxon. 312-13, 333.
  • 3. Oseney Cart. iv, pp. 500-1; V.C.H. Oxon. i. 411.
  • 4. Bampton Hund. R. 25; Feet of Fines 9 Ric. I (P.R.S. xxiii), no. 132; Cur. Reg. R. xiii, p. 27.
  • 5. Oseney Cart. iv, pp. 63-4, 349, 493-4, 498-9, 515-20; Bampton Hund. R. 18; above, Bampton and Weald, econ. hist. (mills and fisheries).
  • 6. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, p. 490; xxi (2), p. 334; V.C.H. Oxon. ii. 29, 31-2.
  • 7. P.R.O., C 142/66, no. 60; C 142/133, no.90; C 142/311, no. III; Ch. Ch. Arch., MS. Estates 74, f. 4; cf. Oseney Cart. vi, pp. 232, 264. The Wenmans held other land in Lew by 1534: O.R.O., MS. Wills Oxon. 181, f. 17v.
  • 8. Ch. Ch. Arch., Lew A 1-36; ibid. MS. Estates 74, ff. 1 sqq.
  • 9. Ibid. Lew A 6-36; Complete Peerage, xii (2), 492-4; V.C.H. Oxon. vii. 177.
  • 10. Ch. Ch. Arch., MS. Estates 74, ff. 86-94V., 97-8, 134-41, 144-5, 148-162v.; above, Bampton and Weald, manors (Bampton Earls); cf. O.R.O., Bampton incl. award. For the leasehold (81 a.), Ch. Ch. Arch., MS. Estates 74, ff. 95 sqq.; Bodl. C 17 b. 24 (60).
  • 11. Inf. from the assistant treasurer, Christ Church.
  • 12. Ch. Ch. Arch., MS. Estates 60, ff. 72 sqq., 104; O.R.O., Bampton incl. award, no. 584.
  • 13. O.R.O., Bampton incl. award, plan VI, nos. 203- 4; O.S. Map 1/2,500, Oxon. XXXI. 15 (1880 and later edns.); ibid. 1/25,000, SP 20/30 (1977 edn.). Not to be confused with the later Lew House (for which above, intro.), or with Lower Fm., called Manor Fm. in 1880 through its connexion with the Coventrys.
  • 14. Ch. Ch. Arch., Lew A 1-47; P.R.O., C 2/Jas. I/O 4/6; below, econ. hist.
  • 15. e.g. Ch. Ch. Arch., MS. Estates 74, ff. 12, 15; but cf. ibid. ff. 6, 11.
  • 16. Ibid. ff. 4, 6, 16 and v., 31, 65-8, 75-6, 95 sqq.; Ch. Ch. Arch., Maps Lew 3.
  • 17. Ch. Ch. Arch., MS. Estates 74, ff. 4, 11, 94.
  • 18. O.R.O., Bampton incl. award, plan VI; ibid. MS. d.d. Par. Bampton a 2 (R).
  • 19. Giles, Hist. Bampton, illust. facing p. 87; P.R.O., HO 107/872.
  • 20. Ch. Ch. Arch., MS. Estates 74, ff. 134-5, 138 and v.; ibid. Lew B 3-4.
  • 21. Local inf.
  • 22. Above, Bampton and Weald, other estates; Aston and Cote, manors [other estates].
  • 23. Oxf. Univ. Arch., SEP/Q/9, SEP/Q/13; Sale Cat., Univ. Fm. (1959), relating its sale by Nuffield College: copy in C.O.S.; above.
  • 24. Oxf. Univ. Arch., SEP/Q/4-6, 19, 25, 30, 32; cf. O.R.O., Bampton incl. award.
  • 25. Oxf. Univ. Arch., WP ?/42/2; O.R.O., incl. award; P.R.O., HO 107/872; RG 9/905.
  • 26. Oxf. Univ. Arch., SEP/Q/39, 45, 49, 52; ibid. USOL/51/5; for earlier deeds, ibid. SEP/Q/15-18, 20-4, 27-8, 31, 33-5.