Henley: Outlying Settlement

Pages 183-185

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 16. Originally published by Boydell & Brewer for the Institute of Historical Research, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2011.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by Victoria County History Oxfordshire. All rights reserved.



The rural parts of the former Henley parish (mapped in Fig. 5) remain thinly settled, especially the well wooded north. In the Middle Ages one or two small hamlets, including a settlement in Badgemore, were probably complemented by isolated farmhouses, surviving examples of which date mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries. Limited medieval and 16th-century suburban overflow was not substantially extended until new houses were built along the Fair Mile in the 18th and 19th centuries, while 20th-century development was concentrated along Badgemore Lane, south-west of the Fair Mile. (fn. 1) The two major outlying residences were the 18th-century Badgemore House in the west (demolished in the mid 20th century), and the 17th-century Henley Park, largely rebuilt in the 19th century. (fn. 2)

Prehistoric and Roman finds have been few and scattered: the most substantial are a hoard of Iron-Age coins found just over the Rotherfield Greys boundary in the western part of Lambridge Wood (SU 733841), (fn. 3) and some Romano-British pottery, daub and burnt flint uncovered during the construction of the Westfield housing estate (SU 754825). (fn. 4) No archaeological evidence of post-Roman or earlier Anglo-Saxon settlement has so far been discovered.

By the mid 11th century Badgemore included eleven peasant households (perhaps c. 55 people), (fn. 5) as well as a manorial complex probably close to the site of the later Badgemore House. (fn. 6) The settlement was referred to as Badgemore vill in 1285, (fn. 7) and early 14th-century tax assessments show that Badgemore had a minimum of 5–7 households, (fn. 8) with others probably too poor to be assessed. Twenty-one adults were taxed in 1377, suggesting a total population of c. 38–46. (fn. 9) The main part of the hamlet seems to have been located initially along the road to Rotherfield Greys, perhaps partly clustered around the manor house and nearby Badgemore green (mentioned in 1425). (fn. 10) Further west there seems to have been an isolated farmstead at Mankorns Farm. (fn. 11)

Badgemore also included houses near Henley, and settlement in that area may have become more important in the later Middle Ages. A windmill mentioned in 1295 and 1311 was probably at Mill Hill (later Parkside), where medieval occupation produced 12th- or 13th-century pottery fragments and waste from iron smelting. (fn. 12) By the 14th and 15th century properties on the western fringe of the town had encroached into Badgemore fee. (fn. 13) The gradual change of the place-name from Bagerige (Baecga's ridge) to Badgemore, starting in the 15th century, may reflect a shift of focus from an early settlement under a wooded ridge (presumably that of Lambridge Wood) to a site closer to the river. (fn. 14)

The other main area of medieval settlement was perhaps the hamlet at Lower Assendon (formerly Assendon Cross), partly in Bix, though it is not certain that the medieval 'Nether Assendon' spread over into Henley at the end of the Fair Mile. (fn. 15) The medieval park, located on high ground to the east of Lower Assendon, probably contained a lodge for the park keeper, though no evidence has been found. (fn. 16) On the northern edge of the town itself were the buildings attached to Henley and Fillets manors, (fn. 17) which may have included accommodation for estate servants mentioned in the 14th century. (fn. 18)

Settlement across the parish appears to have contracted in the late Middle Ages, and grown little in the 16th or 17th centuries. By c. 1700 there were probably only three farmhouses in the south-west quarter of the parish: Mankorns, Badgemore, and Bowling Green (by the Fair Mile), the latter perhaps fairly recently built. (fn. 19) A certain amount of growth took place in the 18th century: a mansion house was built at Badgemore c. 1710, and between 1753 and 1788 the adjacent farmhouse was demolished and replaced with one to the north-east. (fn. 20) An apparently 18th-century house and barns west of Lambridge Farm survive as Lambridge Wood Cottage and Lambridge Wood Farm. (fn. 21) A handful of cottages were also built before 1800, two by the road just to the east of Badgemore House, and others by Bowling Green Farm. (fn. 22)

Nearer the town there was a small clutch of houses at the western end of Gravel Hill, including the 16th-century Ancastle Cottage (Fig. 47) and the adjoining Paradise Farm, which perhaps superseded Ancastle Cottage in the late 17th century. (fn. 23) Some limited growth or redevelopment occurred from the 16th century around Northfield End as well, including a scatter of cottages on a triangular area of waste between the Marlow and Oxford roads. (fn. 24) At Parkside a tower windmill appears to have been constructed c. 1600, presumably replacing the medieval windmill which survived in 1587; (fn. 25) it was demolished between 1677 and 1767, leaving an adjacent alehouse called the Windmill. (fn. 26)

In the parish's northern half the hamlet of Lower Assendon seems to have grown in the late 17th and 18th century, (fn. 27) and included a dozen houses in Henley parish in the 1840s. (fn. 28) A new farmhouse was built in Henley park c. 1680, (fn. 29) and in the east there was a farmhouse at Swiss Farm by the early 18th century, though the surviving house dates from the 1840s. The mansion at Phyllis Court had a farmhouse and handful of cottages adjacent by the 18th century. (fn. 30)

There was some expansion of rural settlement at the end of the 18th century and early in the 19th, including limited development along the Fair Mile, and the building of a cottage at Lambridge Farm c. 1835 (now a much larger red brick building). (fn. 31) Even so, the rural part of Henley parish contained only 60 houses or so in the 1840s, including about a dozen in the outskirts of the town at the western end of the market place and around Phyllis Court. (fn. 32) Limited growth had occurred by 1891 when there were 76 houses, and this was followed by some suburban encroachment in the 20th century, albeit far less than on the south side of the town. Most was concentrated south of the Fair Mile and along Lambridge Wood road, though a few isolated houses were also built near Henley Park. (fn. 33)

47. Ancastle Cottage at the top of Gravel Hill, built on the town's western fringe probably as a farmhouse. Its jettied front (now concealed by a later addition on the right) faced westwards away from the town.


  • 1. For suburban growth generally (mostly southwards into Roth. Greys), above, devpt of town.
  • 2. Below, outlying estates.
  • 3. HER, PRN 16964.
  • 4. Ibid. PRN 14232; above, devpt of town.
  • 5. VCH Oxon. I, 411; cf. E. Miller and J. Hatcher, Medieval England. Rural Society and Economic Change 1086–1348 (1978), 29; C. Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages (2002), 92–5.
  • 6. Below, outlying estates.
  • 7. PRO, JUST 1/705, m. 4.
  • 8. Below, agric.
  • 9. Poll Taxes 1377–81, ed. Fenwick, II, 295; cf. Miller and Hatcher, Medieval England, 29.
  • 10. Bodl. MSS Ch. Oxon. 3019, 3026c.
  • 11. Ibid. 3019: a tenant called John Mancorn held land on the Greys road west of Badgemore Green in 1425.
  • 12. PRO, C 134/26/10; ibid. E 152/4/173; A. Cottingham, 'Report of Excavation at Parkside', HAHG Jnl, 6 (Winter 1988); ORO, tithe award and map (no. 31); for a successor built c. 1600, below, this section.
  • 13. Above, Henley, bdies; below, outlying estates.
  • 14. PN Oxon. I, 65–6. The form Bagemercroft was recorded in 1425.
  • 15. Below, Bix (settlement); ORO, tithe award and map.
  • 16. Below, outlying estates; agric. A house was mentioned in 1624: Bucks. RO, AR1/93/111, lease 14 May 1624.
  • 17. Above, manors.
  • 18. Below, agric.
  • 19. Bucks. RO, AR1/93/177 (3); below, agric.
  • 20. Below, outlying estates.
  • 21. Below, agric.; ORO, tithe award and map (no. 183); VCH fieldwork 2009. The buildings belonged to the Stapletons in 1843 and were sold with 2 a. land in 1922 (Sale Cat., Greys Court Estate (1922), lot 29: copy in ORO, PAR33/17/D1/2).
  • 22. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. a 3; Davis, Oxon. Map (1797).
  • 23. Above, town bldgs; information from Ruth Gibson, correcting Bldgs List (accessed 2009).
  • 24. Davis, Oxon. Map (1797); HER, PRN 19267, 19268 (Cherry Trees and 6–7 Badgemore Lane); information from Ruth Gibson.
  • 25. ORO, MS Wills Oxon. 1/1/11 (John Assenden, yeoman).
  • 26. Cottingham, 'Report of Excavation at Parkside'; R. Plot, Nat. Hist. Oxon. (1705 edn), p. 339; Jefferys, Oxon. Map (1767).
  • 27. Below, Bix (settlement).
  • 28. ORO, tithe award and map.
  • 29. Below, outlying estates.
  • 30. ORO, BOR3/B/II/16/2; Davis, Oxon. Map (1797).
  • 31. ORO, tithe award and map; ibid. PAR209/13/9D/12; VCH fieldwork 2009. In 1788 the site was occupied by 'Hewett's Barn': Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. a 3.
  • 32. ORO, tithe award and map.
  • 33. Census, 1891–1901; OS Map: 1:10000, SU78 SE (1990 edn); above, devpt of town.