Minster Lovell: Economic history

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2006.

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Christina Colvin. Carol Cragoe. Veronica Ortenberg. R B Peberdy. Nesta Selwyn. Elizabeth Williamson, 'Minster Lovell: Economic history', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three), (London, 2006), pp. 192-199. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol15/pp192-199 [accessed 15 June 2024].

Christina Colvin. Carol Cragoe. Veronica Ortenberg. R B Peberdy. Nesta Selwyn. Elizabeth Williamson. "Minster Lovell: Economic history", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three), (London, 2006) 192-199. British History Online, accessed June 15, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol15/pp192-199.

Colvin, Christina. Cragoe, Carol. Ortenberg, Veronica. Peberdy, R B. Selwyn, Nesta. Williamson, Elizabeth. "Minster Lovell: Economic history", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three), (London, 2006). 192-199. British History Online. Web. 15 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol15/pp192-199.

In this section



Fields, Inclosures, and Woodland

Minster's common fields were mentioned in 1362. (fn. 1) In 1557 they were called East and West fields, and lay probably south of the river on either side of the Brize Norton road, in an area of some 500–700 a. still chiefly arable in the 19th century. (fn. 2) New Field (c. 105 a.), between the river and the Witney—Burford road, was mentioned in the late 17th century when it was an area of inclosed demesne, but may have been a former open field taken into cultivation at an unknown date. (fn. 3) So, too, may Townfield, a demesne close of 36 a. north of the river mentioned about 1552. (fn. 4) By the later 17th century and possibly by 1608 much of the arable, though still described in terms of open-field land, seems to have been consolidated into large blocks roughly coinciding with 19th-century closes, and by the 1670s the Wheeler family, lessees of the demesne farm, had inclosed land south of the river in New Field. (fn. 5) Some open-field arrangements or residual common rights must nevertheless have continued until the earlier 18th century, since in 1749 it was reported that since 1708 'the common fields' had been inclosed and the 'common field lands exchanged'. (fn. 6)

In 1086 the chief manor was said to include 78 a. of meadow; in 1287 it had 55 a., and in 1423 only 40 acres. (fn. 7) Little Minster manor included 20 a. in 1324, (fn. 8) and the combined manor reportedly had well over 50 a. of meadow in 1553, presumably along the river within an area still under grass in the 19th century. (fn. 9) Lot meadow was mentioned in 1634, (fn. 10) and a common meadow called Thornbury was mentioned in the 17th century, while Pillmore, mentioned in 1611, was still common or town meadow in 1768. (fn. 11) Presumably most meadows were inclosed with the arable in the 17th or early 18th century, however, and by 1840 there were 120 a. or more of inclosed meadow adjoining the river. (fn. 12) A medieval yardland in 1197 seems to have contained around 31 a. of arable divided between two fields, and in 1294 a yardland belonging to the priory had 12 a. of meadow, though that may have been exceptional. (fn. 13)

Common pasture lay perhaps in the parish's northeastern part between the manor house and Minster woods, an area of over 330 a. known by 1553 as Lordsfield. By then all or most was apparently inclosed demesne. (fn. 14) Other pasture was available presumably in the fields after the harvest, perhaps in demesne closes, and in Minster woods and Wychwood Forest, where Minster Lovell inhabitants retained pasture rights for 'horses and horned cattle' (though not for oxen, pigs, or sheep) until the mid 19th century. (fn. 15) Common pasture mentioned in 1739, 'so long as the same shall lie open and not be enclosed', (fn. 16) was perhaps also in the Forest or woods. At Wychwood's disafforestation in 1857 allotments in Wychwood and Asthall parishes, around Fordwells, were awarded to Minster Lovell inhabitants as compensation, in proportion to their holdings in Minster; 108 a. was awarded in all, of which some 34 a. were still common pasture. Most Minster inhabitants received less than an acre, though Lady Taunton, as lady of the manor and principal landholder, received nearly 35 acres. (fn. 17) Most Minster people sold their allotments immediately after to others in Asthall, Leafield, Curbridge, or Witney. (fn. 18)

71. Minster Lovell parish c. 1840, showing approximate location of former open fields

Woodland, though evidently reduced by medieval assarting, covered much of the north-eastern part of the parish until the 19th century. Woodland 1 league by 4 furlongs was noted in 1086, and 100 a., on later evidence a severe underestimate, in 1287. (fn. 19) The woods were allegedly afforested by Henry II and remained part of the purlieus of Wychwood Forest in 1279, when they were valued at 20s. a year. (fn. 20) The right to pasture 60 pigs in the woods was granted by the Lovels in 1197 to Thame abbey, and the Lovels had pannage worth 12d. a year in 1286–7. (fn. 21) Though the family were evidently refused the right to impark in 1297, they were allowed by the king to cut underwood in 1290, and in 1440 were licensed to impark Minster woods and two fields adjoining; the woods were disafforested in 1442, the Lovels receiving the right to hunt and to appoint their own officers. (fn. 22) The woods remained outside the Forest purlieus in 1609, though their status was contested throughout the 18th century. (fn. 23)

Small-scale assarting was carried out before 1252–3, when the Lovels held 3½ a. of assart of the Crown for 21½ d. rent, increased to 5 a. before 1408; two 'fields' disafforested with the woods in 1442 presumably represented further assarting, and by 1553 the large area of demesne pasture south of the woods included closes with names such as Pig Rooting, implying that some or all had been taken from the woods. (fn. 24) In 1700, as in 1840, the woods covered some 360 a., and were made up of oak, ash, elm, and thorn. (fn. 25) Minster woods were cleared soon after Wychwood Forest's disafforestation in 1857, and by 1861 the land was chiefly arable, farmed from the newly established Ringwood Farm. (fn. 26)

Tenants and Holdings 1086–1600

In 1086 the chief manor, assessed at 7 hides, was said to have land for 10 ploughs, though 13 were recorded: 6 on the demesne, worked in part by 2 slaves, and 7 held by 17 villani and 10 lower-status bordars. The estate's value had fallen since 1066 from £10 to £7. On Little Minster manor there was land for 3 ploughs, but only one (on the demesne) was recorded, with 2 slaves and 2 bordars; the estate's value was £3 as in 1066. (fn. 27)

By 1279 there were 30 villeins on Minster Lovell manor, each holding half a yardland, and the demesne had been reduced to 3 ploughlands. (fn. 28) Another 9 yardlands, presumably including former demesne, were occupied by 5 freeholders, among them a chantry priest endowed with 6 yardlands, and a smith and Godstow abbey each with one. Sixteen cottagers, omitted presumably in error in 1279, were mentioned in 1286–7. (fn. 29) No villeins were recorded at Little Minster, where 8 yardlands were let to Walter de Leckhampton for a total of 96s., and were perhaps kept in demesne; another 6½ yardlands there were occupied by 7 freeholders, of whom most held a yardland each. The villeins each owed 3s. rent, with labour services and small payments in kind valued at 8s. 9d.; the services included 86 days' labour throughout the year, 8 boonworks, 2 days' mowing, and 1½ days' carriage, the tenants owing in addition a hen at Christmas and 5 eggs at Easter. Freehold rents were 11–12s. a yardland, while the smith at Minster Lovell owed 13s. 4d., plough-repair, and the obligation to make 2 carts a year with the lord's iron. Cottagers' rents in 1287 averaged around 1s. each, with labour services worth 6d.

Few landholders in the early 14th century were taxed on goods worth more than 16–20s., the chief exeptions being the lords or demesne lessees. In 1316 Maud Lovel's husband John de Haudlo and the lord of Little Minster, William de Cantelupe, were each taxed on nearly £11, while Aymer de Valence, lord of nearby Bampton and lessee of land at Little Minster, was taxed on over £17. In 1327 one of the prominent Standlake family of Witney, lessee of some 170 a., was taxed on £42. (fn. 30) Among probably resident tenants or landowners, the wealthiest included various members of the at Ford family, taxed on 24s. in 1316 and on over £3 in 1327, while four other taxpayers in 1327 were assessed on between £5 and £7. The lowest assessment in 1316 was on goods worth 32d. The overall value of goods assessed, just over £57 in 1316 and £72 in 1327, suggests that the parish was broadly typical of the area, assessed wealth per head in 1316 averaging 46s., and in 1327 around 60s. (fn. 31)

Fourteenth-century depopulation seems to have been marked, (fn. 32) and by 1423 seventeen tenants at will held complete yardlands of the combined manor for 5s. rent, implying that rents had fallen and that labour services had been commuted. There were still 18 cottagers holding for 1s. each, and freehold rents totalled 15s. 4d. and 1 lb of pepper. (fn. 33) The demesne, reduced to 2 ploughlands by 1408 and possibly much smaller by 1423, (fn. 34) was leased in its entirety probably soon after; in the early 16th century it was held by lessees of the manor house, who sometimes sublet all or part. (fn. 35) Twenty landholders were taxed in 1523–4, only four on goods worth more than £2 and eight paying the lowest rate of 4d.; the wealthiest by far was Thomas Umpton, one of a prominent local gentry family who rented the demesne, grange, and warren, and possibly the manor house. (fn. 36) Henry Wilkins, the wealthiest taxpayer in the 1570s, (fn. 37) perhaps also held some former demesne, and William Jenkins (d. 1588), head juror of the manor court, held 6 copyhold yardlands in Little Minster. (fn. 38)

Tenants and Holdings 1600–1800

In 1602 just over 17 yardlands were still copyhold, and were occupied by 13 tenants of whom most held between ½ and 1½ yardland each. (fn. 39) The widow of William Howse, a wealthy taxpayer in the 1570s, (fn. 40) held 6 yardlands, possibly those formerly occupied by William Jenkins. Eleven tenants at will held mostly cottages or small parcels, though two held 1½ yardlands each. Of two leaseholders one, John Truman, held the mill and 'the farm', presumably former demesne in Minster or Little Minster, while Robert Williamson occupied Minster Lovell manor house and demesne farm on a 21-year lease. Copyholders and tenants at will still paid small customary rents, including some payments in kind; the only commercial rent was £160 for the demesne farm, which probably dominated farming in the parish then as later. Inhabitants collectively paid 2s. for a small meadow, and eight non-resident freeholders owed small quitrents, many of them apparently for detached lands in Chilson and Shorthampton. (fn. 41)

Thomas Shayler and members of the Harris family, who held the mill and occasionally served as bailiffs for the lord, were the wealthiest taxpayers throughout the 17th century, together with the Collis family, recorded from the Middle Ages, and the Coppins. (fn. 42) A Collis and a Harris were respectively taxed on 5 and 6 hearths in 1662 and 1665, while in 1693 William Collis left goods worth £160, and in 1709 Christopher Coppin's were worth £412. (fn. 43) Both the Collis and the Harris families survived in the 19th century, when the Collises remained major independent farmers and called themselves gentlemen.

By 1700 John Wheeler held 768 a. with the manor house (Minster Lovell Hall), and Henry Peacock 276 a. in Little Minster, probably with the Old Manor House. Both appear to have been resident gentleman-farmers, though in the early 18th century the Wheelers sometimes sublet all or part of their land. Robert Harris was lessee of the mill, held with a small farm of 11 acres. Together those and two other small leaseholds comprised some 1,073 a., 73 per cent of cultivated land in the parish; the remaining 380 a. was still held by 24 customary tenants on similar terms to a century earlier, the largest single holding being 55 acres. Both the leasehold and the customary farms were still held for lives, customary rents reportedly falling short of the lands' real value by £175, and rents of the leaseholds by £540. (fn. 44) During the early 18th century there was a move towards shorter leases and more commercial rents, and by 1740 much of the manor farm was held on 21 -year leases for a total of £412 by Robert Coppin and Joseph Mallam. (fn. 45) By the late 18th century the parish was divided among 7 tenant farmers of whom the largest, John Nutt, payed over £20 land tax in 1785, and the rest between £5 and £14. Most seem to have farmed around 200–300 a., the Wheelers' large demesne having by then been broken up. All held most of their land of the manor, though a few had small freehold parcels, and John Nutt and John Busby respectively held the rectory and vicarage estates with their other farms. Few smallholders were recorded, and only the woods were kept in hand. (fn. 46)

Farming to c. 1800

Farming was mixed from the Middle Ages, the chief grain crops in the 17th century being wheat and barley, with some beans, peas, and oats. (fn. 47) By 1671 the Wheelers farmed inclosed land south of the river, (fn. 48) and were introducing new crops such as clover and sainfoin, (fn. 49) while focusing increasingly on sheep farming. Turnips were mentioned from 1803, intermixed with wood. (fn. 50) Sheep were recorded in 1197, (fn. 51) and the demesne farm included a cowhouse and probably a sheep fold by the early 15th century. (fn. 52) A small yeoman in 1607 had 12 sheep, (fn. 53) and in the late 17th and early 18th century most testators left some livestock: in 1693 one of the Collis family had 6 horses, 12 cows or heifers, 2 pigs, and 50 sheep, while in 1709 Christopher Coppin left 24 cows, 6 horses, 9 pigs, and 120 sheep. (fn. 54) Also mentioned from the 16th century were malt and bees, and the usual domestic dairying and cheese-making.

Woodland was kept in hand throughout the medieval and early modern period, some of it being coppiced. In 1552 there were three coppices of between 28 a. and 48 a., at three stages in a cycle of up to 22 years; one coppice included 100 oaks, and another 140. (fn. 55) In 1607 both the wood and its perimeter wall were well kept, though the largest copse was badly fenced and much of the wood had been eaten. (fn. 56) Timber was regularly sold from Postern Copse in 1610, and from other copses at 10 years' growth between 1611 and 1623. (fn. 57) In 1700 the woods totalled 359 a., including Crawley (86 a.), Queens' Standing (44 a.), Cock and Hen (43 a.), Postern (32 a.), Wisdom Wood (38 a.), Bagg (19 a.), and Hix (84 a.) coppices, the last three actually in Asthall parish; they were worth in growth £100 a year beside timber, and the Cokes' total income from the woods was estimated at £368. (fn. 58) Timber and hunting rights were rarely leased, though John Wheeler, made deputy ranger in 1707, was allowed to cut 20 loads of wood a year as firewood. (fn. 59) Frequent complaints were made about waste or trespass, including mismanagement of the woods by the bailiff's appointee, interference from the ranger of Wychwood, illegal cutting of wood by tenants, and damage to young trees by illegal pasturing. (fn. 60)

The 19th and 20th Centuries

Most of the manor, some 1,447 a. including the manorial farm (306 a.), was sold to W.E. Taunton in 1812–13, (fn. 61) much of the rest being sold in lots to various tenants, who became owners-occupiers. (fn. 62) After 1825 Taunton enlarged the manorial farm, which was let to a tenant farmer, by buying back land from smaller freeholders, but though the manor farm remained the largest in the parish, freeholds amassed by the farmer John Walker and by Taunton's tenant in Little Minster, John Hale, were almost as large. (fn. 63) A few outsiders, among them the Witney banker John Clinch, bought land which they leased to local farmers. (fn. 64) By 1840 there were five farms of over 100 a., including those of John Walker (267 a.) and Sarah Collis (188 a.), both freeholds; the Hales' farm at Little Minster was 245 a., and Richard Dix and John Gillett, a well-known Cotswolds sheep-breeder, worked Manor farm as Taunton's tenants. (fn. 65)

The overall pattern remained broadly similar throughout the mid 19th century, with usually 3 or 4 farms of over 150–200 a.; a few smaller freeholders occupied holdings varying from 2 or 3 a. to 30 acres. (fn. 66) By 1871 the Gilletts farmed the 486-a. Manor farm and employed 26 people, having perhaps acquired some of the Hales' leasehold land after Jane Hale's death; the largest farm then and later, however, was Ringwood farm (600 a.), made up chiefly of former woodland cleared since 1857, and leased to a family of newcomers, the Abrahams, who in 1871 employed 30 people. (fn. 67) By 1881 it was 800 a., the three other chief farms being College farm in Little Minster (315 a.), Starveall farm (330 a.), and Manor farm, which together employed some 30 people. (fn. 68) Manor farm (c. 306 a.), sold by W.E. Taunton's heirs in 1874, continued to be leased to tenant farmers until the late 20th century, (fn. 69) but was broken up when the house was sold in 1973, the land being taken into neighbouring farms. The Minster Lovell branch of the Agricultural Labourers' Union went on strike in 1872, seeking Union harvest rates of 4s. a day without beer for 11 hours' work; employers came to terms soon after, one after holding out for a few days. (fn. 70)

In 1840 the parish was 63 per cent arable, with 19 per cent woodland and 13 per cent under grass. (fn. 71) The woodland was almost completely cleared by 1860, but otherwise land-use changed little by 1914, when the parish remained 67 per cent arable and 33 per cent permanent pasture. (fn. 72) In the 1850s and 1860s John Gillett (d. 1855) and his sons were among the main breeders of Cotswold Down and Oxford Down sheep, selling over 130 in 1853. (fn. 73) Sheep were mentioned as the main agricultural resource when the farm was sold in 1874, the chief crops being turnips and barley. (fn. 74) By 1914 the chief crops in the parish were barley (21 per cent), wheat (18 per cent), and oats (11 per cent), with swedes and turnips (11 per cent) and mangolds (1 per cent) presumably for fodder, and a few potatoes (2.3 per cent). Sheep farming was still important, though as elsewhere numbers were falling, and cattle were kept in relatively small numbers (11 per 100 acres). The number of pigs was among the highest in the county. (fn. 75)

Twentieth-century farming in the parish saw many smaller farms absorbed into larger units. In 1941–2 Joseph Abraham of Ringwood farm had 135 a. under wheat and 32 a. under barley, with some oats (92 a.) and potatoes (22 a.), and 200 a. sown with clover and sainfoin. Farmers such as H.E. Batts of College farm, W.E. Luckett of Bushy Ground, A. Bourne of Whitehall farm, and the Viners of Manor farm grew similar crops but on a lesser scale, while most smaller farmers were engaged in market gardening, producing potatoes, pulses, and other vegetables. Only the Abrahams of Ringwood farm pursued large-scale sheep farming, keeping a flock of 446 alongside 74 cows and heifers, 126 pigs, and poultry and horses. J. A. Fenemore of Hill farm had 93 sheep and 41 cattle, grazed on 124 acres. Several smaller farmers had up to 10 cows and 5–10 pigs, and most were poultry producers. (fn. 76)

In 2000 Ringwood remained by far the largest farm at 900 a.; other large farms were Lower Field and Folly farms (85 a. combined), together with Bushy Ground (150–200 a.), Whitehall (250 a.), Hill Grove (300 a.), and Charterville farms (60 a.). Whitehall and Hill Grove were then farmed from outside the parish. Ringwood farm pursued mixed farming, employing 2 men from the village; Whitehall and Bushy Ground were mainly arable family-run farms, while Lower Field and Charterville farms reared sheep and cattle, the former providing employment for a single villager. (fn. 77)

Agriculture in Charterville

In the mid 19th century most Charterville settlers had between 2 a. and 4 a. each, but as they were drawn from a wide area and mostly had no experience of agrarian life many experienced difficulties. (fn. 78) The 2-a. plots were especially vulnerable, and though they were originally granted a cottage and capital of £7 10s. a year, most allottees could not make a living out of even 4 a. and soon returned to urban industrial employment: by 1850 only 33 of the original allottees remained, and in 1861 only two. The settlement was reorganized in 1852, a few of the original colonists buying their holding and becoming freeholders, while the rest acquired permanent leases or became ordinary tenants. By then most holdings had been taken over by local agricultural labourers or by others with a rural occupation, and were concentrated in fewer hands, 44 lots being owned by 28 people. In 1889 there were 33 freeholders, 9 leaseholders, and 18 tenants; some holdings were as large as 12 a., and the number of 4-a. plots had risen from the original 34 to 39. Most were held by occupiers with other sources of income, such as labourers with some savings, small tradesmen, seasonal agricultural workers, and retired officers or police constables with a pension. Plots were continually sought after, sometimes as an investment, by outsiders from Witney or elsewhere as well as by local people, and in 1913–14 a total of 25 holdings out of 69 (102 a. in all) were owner-occupied, the rest being sublet to local people.

The period between 1858 and 1887 was that of Charterville's greatest prosperity, based chiefly on potato crops, which at the time were not grown by larger local farmers. Charterville potatoes sold at £30–40 an acre, ensuring a monopoly and a constant demand for holdings. In the early 1880s agricultural depression led other local farmers to take up potato cultivation, and the market was further depressed by potato disease, leaving many smallholders ruined; nevertheless Charterville seems to have withstood the depression better than some larger farms, partly because its economy was essentially geared to immediate consumption. Landlords were prepared to reduce rents and to be flexible with arrears in order to keep good tenants: hence many standard 1-year leases were extended, for example a 7-year lease offered for the most successful market-gardener.

Barley, wheat, beans, and oats were also grown in Charterville, and from 1885 the number of fruit trees increased. Nevertheless, at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries the chief crop continued to be potatoes, with some market gardening, vegetable-growing, pig and poultry farming, and bee-keeping. Most holdings had a strip under corn, a strip under barley, and a strip under potatoes, the remainder devoted to rye-grass, vegetables, fruit trees, strawberries, and radishes; pork and potatoes formed the colonists' staple diet as well as being sold, and most tenants were self-sufficient except for groceries and clothing. Several also had horses and a few cows. A major obstacle was the absence of an organized cooperative system for carting, buying implements, or banking: Oxford and Cheltenham were too distant and lacked direct transport, while Witney remained a market of no more than local importance.

Trades and Crafts

The usual rural trades and crafts were recorded from an early date. A smith was mentioned in 1279, (fn. 79) and a tanhouse was attached to Minster Lovell manor house possibly in the early 15th century and certainly in the 16th. (fn. 80) Between the 16th and the 18th centuries a baker, tailor, currier, fuller, butcher, maltster, and victuallers were recorded, and a blanket-weaver in 1729; (fn. 81) a weaver in 1641 left goods worth £26, but owed £108 to creditors. A fuller was mentioned in 1726, (fn. 82) and a fulling mill existed at Minster Lovell by 1768, (fn. 83) presumably serving the Witney blanket industry.

In the 19th century various tradesmen were recorded: millers, bakers, grocers, stonemasons, a wheelwright, a carter, blacksmiths, carpenters, a basket-weaver, and innkeepers, as well as dressmakers and tailors, who were especially numerous in the 1860s. (fn. 84) Other inhabitants included a postmaster, a police constable, a machinist, and one tea-dealer. Several inhabitants worked in mills in neighbouring Asthall or Witney: 3 fullers and 2 factory-workers were noted in 1841, 4 fullers and 8 factory workers in 1851, and 16 factory workers and 3 fullers in 1861, though in 1891 there were none. From 1896 large numbers were employed at Pritchett and Webley's blanket mill at Worsham (in Asthall), whose failure in the early 20th century caused serious distress in Minster Lovell. (fn. 85) Glovemaking, chiefly by wives and daughters of agricultural labourers, was also recorded, 10 glovers being noted in 1851, 18 ten years later, and 14 in 1891. Quarrying was carried out on a small scale: it was first mentioned in 1197, (fn. 86) and regularly throughout the 19th century, when several masons lived in the parish and several quarries were recorded. The parish nevertheless remained essentially agricultural, 68 per cent of families being supported from agriculture in 1831 and still in 1881. (fn. 87)

Tradesmen during the earlier 20th century included a gas-fitter, wireless and optical engineers, a painterdecorator, and a joiner, besides office-workers and a nurse working outside the parish. (fn. 88) Some inhabitants in the late 20th century were employed in small service industries such as the shop and post office, but most commuted to work elsewhere.

Mills and Fisheries

In 1086 two mills were recorded on Minster Lovell manor and one at Little Minster. (fn. 89) The latter was presumably the water corn mill held in 1324 by Aymer de Valence with part of Little Minster manor, which passed the following year to Thomas West; no later references have been found, and the site is unknown. (fn. 90) The Minster Lovell mills, possibly under one roof, may have stood, as later, by the bridge at the village's western end: two adjoining mills there, one for corn and one for fulling, were mentioned in 1197 when William Lovel and his wife Isabel gave them to Thame abbey, which returned them in 1224 following protracted litigation. (fn. 91) By 1287 there was only a corn mill, which remained part of the chief manor until the early 19th century. (fn. 92) In the late 16th century it was apparently held by copy, (fn. 93) but during the 17th and earlier 18th century it was leased for 3 lives to members of the Harris family, who presumably employed a miller. (fn. 94)

The building was reportedly thatched in 1609. (fn. 95) In 1748 there were two stones, and Thomas Harris was apparently to build an adjoining mill and to provide grist-stones: certainly there was a double mill by 1768, one half still for corn, and the other, at its west end, used for fulling. The two were separately let on 20-year leases, the fulling mill with a nearby meadow which was used for tentering. (fn. 96) There was still a corn and fulling mill in 1812, (fn. 97) but by 1851 again only a corn mill. (fn. 98) In 1813 the mill was sold with the rest of the manor, passing to the Hudsons and later to the Coopers, resident millers; the premises included a bakery and malthouse which were still used in the 1880s. (fn. 99) The mill ceased to function in 1924, and in the 1960s the building was converted first into a research laboratory, and later into a conference centre. (fn. 100)

A possible mill-leat and pond have been identified south-east of the medieval manor house, (fn. 101) but no documentary evidence for a mill on that site has been found. Remains of a leat survive at Lower Field Farm west of Little Minster, (fn. 102) where corn milling was carried out probably in the 19th century.


Fishing rights in that part of the river Windrush included within the parish belonged to the lords of Minster Lovell and of Asthall. (fn. 103) In 1279 the fishery was leased to a tenant for 6s. 8d. a year, (fn. 104) though in 1423 it was valued at only 2s. (fn. 105) In the 16th century it was let with the manor house and demesne. (fn. 106) Fishing rights in a short stretch of river near the bridge were separately let with the mill in the late 12th century and still in the 1550s. (fn. 107) During the 18th and early 19th century the Cokes and Tauntons sometimes reserved fishing rights, (fn. 108) which seem to have been sold piecemeal with the rest of the manor in 1812–13: by 1840 several freeholders and tenants had rights in small stretches of the river. (fn. 109) Residual fishing rights were sold with the remains of the Minster Lovell estate in 1920 and 1922. (fn. 110) A mussel pond and weir were mentioned in the 19th century. (fn. 111)


  • 1. Cal. Inq. p.m. XI, p. 277.
  • 2. Cal. Pat. 1557–8, 85–6; ORO, tithe award and map.
  • 3. ORO, MS Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 142, ff. 179–81; cf. ibid. tithe award and map.
  • 4. PRO, LR 2/189, ff. 112–18.
  • 5. Eton Coll. Recs XXXIII, no. 72; ORO, MS Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 142, ff. 179–81; Bodl. MS dd Harcourt c 105/10; Holkham Arch., lease 15 Apr. 1712; cf. ORO, tithe award and map.
  • 6. Holkham Arch., lease 28 Mar. 1749.
  • 7. VCH Oxon. I, 410; PRO, C 133/47, no. 2; C 139/6, no. 51 (18).
  • 8. Cal Inq. p.m. VI, p. 338.
  • 9. PRO, LR 2/189, ff. 112–18; cf. ORO, tithe award and map.
  • 10. ORO, MS Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 142, f. 175.
  • 11. Eton Coll. Recs XXXIII, no. 75; Holkham Arch., lease 10 Dec. 1768.
  • 12. ORO, tithe award.
  • 13. Thame Cart. I, p. 72; Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. c 449, ff. 107–8.
  • 14. PRO, LR 2/189, ff. 112–18; cf. ibid. C 139/6, no. 51 (18), mentioning inclosed demesne pasture in 1423.
  • 15. VCH Oxon. II, 298; Schumer, Oxon. Forests, 103; ORO, Wychwood incl. award (1857), p. 15.
  • 16. Holkham Arch., lease 10 July 1739.
  • 17. ORO, Wychwood incl. award (1857), pp. 15, 18, 30.
  • 18. Ibid. p. 30; ibid. Minster Lovell incl. award.
  • 19. VCH Oxon. I, 410; PRO, C 133/47, no. 2.
  • 20. J.Y. Akerman, 'Ancient Limits of Wychwood Forest', Archaeologia 37 (1857), 437; Rot. Hund. II, 727–8.
  • 21. Thame Cart. I, p. 71; PRO, C 133/47, no. 2.
  • 22. Cal. Close, 1296–1302, 87; Cal. Pat. 1436–41, 376; Cal. Chart. 1427–1516, 37; PRO, CRES 10/40, p. 65.
  • 23. Holkham Arch., 18th-cent. corresp.; PRO, LR 2/202, which excludes Minster woods.
  • 24. Cal. Inq. p.m. I, p. 69; XIX, p. 145; Cal. Chart. 1427–1616, 37; PRO, LR 2/189, ff. 112–18.
  • 25. Holkham Arch., survey of 1700 and uncat. leases; ORO, tithe award and map.
  • 26. PRO, RG 9/907; OS Map 1:2500, Oxon. XXV. 15 (1880 edn). For woodland management, below (farming to 1800).
  • 27. VCH Oxon. I, 410, 424.
  • 28. Para. based on Rot. Hund. II, 727–8; cf. PRO, C 133/47, no. 2, valuing services at only £6 15s. as against £13 2s. 6d.
  • 29. PRO, C 133/47, no. 2. For Godstow abbey's holding, above, manors; for chantry, below, relig. hist.
  • 30. PRO, E 179/161/8–9; cf. Cal. Inq. p.m. VI, pp. 328, 338; VII, p. 10.
  • 31. PRO, E 179/161/8–10.
  • 32. Above, intro. (pop.).
  • 33. PRO, C 139/6, no. 51 (18).
  • 34. Ibid.; Cal. Inq. p.m. XIX, p. 144.
  • 35. e.g. Cal. Pat. 1553–4, 321; L & P Hen VIII, IV (1), p. 903; X, p. 528.
  • 36. PRO, E 179/161/170 and E 179/161/198; ibid. E 318/ 45/2434; Cal. Pat. 1549–1551, 71.
  • 37. PRO, E 179/162/331; E 179/162/341.
  • 38. Bodl. MS Film 704, cts 5 Oct. 28 Eliz., 15 Oct. 30 Eliz.; Eton Coll. Recs XXXIII, no. 6.
  • 39. Para. mainly based on W.O. Hassall, 'Minster Lovell in 1602', Oxoniensia 10 (1945), 101–4.
  • 40. PRO, E 179/162/331; E 179/162/341.
  • 41. Cf. Bodl. MS Film 704, ct 15 Oct. 30 Eliz., and passim.
  • 42. ORO, MSS Wills Oxon. 121/4/5, 255/1/42; PRO, E 179/255/4, pt ii, f. 139; Hearth Tax Oxon. 181.
  • 43. ORO, MSS Wills Oxon. 15/1/17, 121/4/5.
  • 44. Holkham Arch., survey 20 Aug. 1700; cf. ibid. survey of 1730.
  • 45. Ibid. surveys and rentals 1721, 1730, and 1740; ibid. leases 29 Mar., 13 Aug. 1730.
  • 46. ORO, QSD L. 199, passim; cf. Holkham Arch., lease of manor 24 May 1789; sale partics. 18 July 1812.
  • 47. ORO, MSS Wills Oxon. 33/3/8, 15/1/17, 80/4/30; ibid. Minster Lovell wills, passim.
  • 48. Above (fields).
  • 49. Holkham Arch., lease 15 Apr. 1712.
  • 50. Eton Coll., COLL/EST/ML5; cf. Young, Oxon. Agric. 6–7.
  • 51. Thame Cart. I, p. 71.
  • 52. PRO, C 139/6, no. 51 (18).
  • 53. ORO, MS Wills Oxon. 298/5/7.
  • 54. ORO, MSS Wills Oxon. 15/1/17, 33/3/8, 121/4/5.
  • 55. PRO, LR 2/189, f. 84.
  • 56. Holkham Arch., Edm. Reynolds to Sir Edw. Coke, 10 May 1607.
  • 57. Ibid. accts 1610–23.
  • 58. Ibid. survey 1700.
  • 59. Ibid. lease 15 Apr. 1712.
  • 60. Ibid. 18th-cent. corresp.
  • 61. ORO, CH XV/iii/1–2; CH XV/ii/1–2; above, manors.
  • 62. Holkham Arch., sale partics 18 July 1812; ORO, QSD L.199.
  • 63. PRO, HO 107/878.
  • 64. Holkham Arch., conveyance 18–19 Dec. 1813.
  • 65. ORO, tithe award.
  • 66. PRO, HO 107/1731; ibid. RG 9/907.
  • 67. Ibid. RG 9/907; RG 10/1453.
  • 68. Ibid. RG 11/1515.
  • 69. Univ. Coll. estates bursary, lease 12 Oct. 1959; above, manors (Minster Lovell).
  • 70. P. Horn (ed.), Agric. Trade Unionism in Oxon. (ORS 48, 1974), 30–1, 34, 52–4.
  • 71. ORO, tithe award.
  • 72. Orr, Oxon. Agric., statistical plates.
  • 73. Oxf. Chron. 16 July, 8 Aug. 1853; 20 Oct. 1855; 28 June 1856.
  • 74. Sale Cat. (1874): copy in COS.
  • 75. Orr, Oxon. Agric., statistical plates.
  • 76. PRO, MAF 32/916/111; cf. ORO, DV I/59; Sale Cats., Whitehall Farm (1926 and 1940), Lower Field Farm (1930): copies in COS.
  • 77. Local information.
  • 78. Following account based on A.W. Ashby, Allotments and Smallholdings in Oxon. (1917), 110–18, 134–7; K. Tiller, 'Charterville and the Chartist Land Company', Oxoniensia 50 (1985), 251–66; A.G. Butler, 'Minster Lovell and Small Holdings', Economic Review [n.d.], 1–7: copy in COS. For Charterville's foundation and development, above, intro.
  • 79. Rot. Hund. II, 727–8.
  • 80. PRO, C 139/6, no. 51 (18), mentioning a bercaria; Cal. Pat. 1553–4, 321; 1554–5, 326.
  • 81. Bodl. MS Film 704, ct 5 Oct. 28 Eliz. (victualler); PRO, C 1/1448/64–6 (tailor); ORO, MSS Wills Oxon. 17/1/15 (currier), 296/3/21 (weaver); ibid. Minster Lovell wills, passim.
  • 82. ORO, Cal. QS, I, f. 240b.
  • 83. Holkham Arch., lease 10 Dec. 1768; below (mills).
  • 84. Para. based on PRO, HO 107/878; HO 107/1731; ibid. RG 9/907; RG 10/1453; RG 11/1515; RG 12/1176.
  • 85. A. Plummer and R.E. Early, The Blanket Makers, 1669–1969 (1969), 160.
  • 86. Thame Cart. I, p. 71.
  • 87. Census, 1831; PRO, HO 107/878; ibid. RG 11/1515.
  • 88. Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1903 and later edns); COS, par. reg. transcript.
  • 89. VCH Oxon. I, 410, 424.
  • 90. Cal. Inq. p.m. VI, p. 338; for a post-medieval mill at Lower Field Farm, below.
  • 91. Thame Cart. I, pp. 71–2.
  • 92. PRO, C 133/47, no. 2.
  • 93. Bodl. MS Film 704, ct 15 Oct 30 Eliz.
  • 94. ORO, MSS Oxon. Wills 34/2/28; Holkham Arch., surveys 1700, 1721.
  • 95. Local information.; no source has been found.
  • 96. Holkham Arch., lease 10 Dec. 1768.
  • 97. ORO, CH XV/ii/1–2.
  • 98. Sale partics. 12 Sept 1851 (in private possession).
  • 99. ORO, Misc. Rippon II/1–16; ibid. tithe award; Witney Express, 25 March 1880.
  • 100. Local information.
  • 101. COS, PRN 12747.
  • 102. Ibid. PRN 4379.
  • 103. Thame Cart. I, p. 72; Rot. Hund., II, 727–8.
  • 104. Rot. Hund. II, 727–8.
  • 105. PRO, C 139/6, no. 51 (18).
  • 106. L & P Hen. VIII, IV (1), p. 903; X, p. 528; Cal. Pat. 1553–4, 321; 1554–5, 326.
  • 107. Thame Cart. I, p. 72; Cal. Pat. 1554–5, 326.
  • 108. ORO, CH XV/ii/4; ibid. SL8/9/D1/1; Bodl. GA Oxon. c 224 (5); Sale Cat. (1922): copy in COS.
  • 109. ORO, tithe award.
  • 110. Sale Cats. (1874 and 1930): copies in COS.
  • 111. Bodl. GA Oxon. c 224 (5); Sale Cat. (1922): copy in COS; ORO, tithe award.